Sunday, March 28, 2010

The rules of flaw

One of these days, I'll write a book of axioms for the airplane builder, but in the meantime, here are two more that I've written down for future reference:

1) The best moments in building your own airplane are when you could take a short cut, but don't.

2) The closer you get to finishing your airplane, the more time you spend looking for a part you can't find, but you know it was here a minute ago.

As my faithful readers know, I've been working on avionics for the last few months. This stage of the project is like working in a maze. You proceed down a particular route, only to find it blocked, so you have to try another direction.

Yesterday, I tried to reinstall the PS Engineering 1000II intercom, only to find that the connector and wires (and, yes, I did rewire the power pin for the Vertical Power 50 as I said months ago) hit the bracket that holds the throttle and mixture cables on the subpanel.

I could have gotten away with forcing a fairly steep bend and maybe just muttering "good enough," but I'm past that stage of my airplane-building career. I had no choice but cut a piece of the bracket to allow the wires more freedom and, presumably, lessen the possibility that a broken wire would leave me without a radio (actually, now that I think of it, this wouldn't happen because the PS Engineering intercom has a fail-safe mode that when it craps out, it doesn't prevent you from transmitting/receiving on your radio).

The documentation for the intercom says it doesn't need to be braced. But the more I look at it, the more I think it should be. The problem is, at this stage of the construction. I can see no way to accomplish this. These are the time that challenge a builder when to press on, and when to apply a proper definition of "right," as in "do it right."

I had hoped to get all of the radios reinstalled, the Vertical Power system reinstalled, the master switch, and flap switches reinstalled, the mic jacks and headphone jacks reinstalled, and power up the system to be sure the radios worked. But, alas, the Law of Rule #2 came in to play.

It would appear that I've mounted the Vertical Power 50 control box a little too close to the subpanel and, as a result, I'm asking the antenna cable for the transponder to take a hard turn to avoid it.

The solution -- maybe -- is a right-angle antenna connector at the transponder. I bought one a few months ago from B&C Specialty Products and now I can't find it. I did locate it earlier in the day's activities, but I wasn't looking for it at the time. I was looking for some clear heat-shrink, which I know I put somewhere around here.

I never did find that, and because I wasn't looking for it at the time, I didn't think much of the right-angle connector I did find. I don't remember where I saw it, so I spent two hours -- two hours! -- looking for it. I came up empty.

During the winter months, the hangar tends to get disorganized. When it's 10 degrees in an unheated hangar, there's no time for putting things back where they belong. So by spring, the workplace is pretty disorganized.

Today, I guess I'll spend time tearing the hangar apart, and reorganizing it so that I don't spend so much building time on "looking for stuff" time.

And that's Rule #3.

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