Still in the "Frustratedly waiting on the Finishing Kit" stage,
I've shifted gears a little to be able to continue working on
things. The kit was coming together very quickly, but for
not so clear reasons, Van's is taking what seems like forever to
get their kits out. When I ordered my fuselage kit around
OSH 2014, they expected finishing kits to ship by the end of the
year or shortly after. We keep hearing that "much of the
work for the XYZ kit was done during the TUV kit" so it
shouldn't take very long, but then it gets dragged out many
months after that. I had easily been on track to fly in
the summer of 2015, but at present it's looking like that will
not be the case. A recent posting on a forum indicated
that the fuselage kit won't even be shipping until July/August,
and that there is also work being done on the "Avionics Kit' and
Firewall Forward kits. This bothers me because whereas
other than the RV-12 which was FORCED to be a standardized kit,
no kit in the past was this rigidly standardized. And I
don't believe that ANY kit in the past has had this type of
extremely long delays between each section. I am sure
hoping these things don't go hand-in-hand, because I am not the
least bit interested in Van's picking out my avionics for me,
and I'm not interested in their wiring kit either. I think
they use cheap molex connectors that I wouldn't want to use
(I'll use gold plated contacts) and I already have paid for
harnesses like their AHRS harness that I'll never use. So
I want them to just deliver a good airframe kit so that we can
all get these things in the air. The delays are costing us
valuable time, and them valuable sales, so they need to get
|Above you'll see I added some
makeshift seat cushions for testing the feel of the panel.
I covered some of the gaps in the seat bottoms and floors,
since of course we haven't been delivered these cover
panels yet. With a simulated seat position in place
it was time to see if a throttle quadrant was a
comfortable option if mounted in the normal
position. What I found was that not only was a
quarant comfortable, but it should fit nicely in the
center of the panel.
|Before committing to any
quadrant position, or instrument layout, it was time to
load up some co-pilots and see how the fit feels on the
plane. This confirmed it for me, not only should it
work well for me but for everyone else as well.
In the past couple weeks we've made a few flights over to SteinAir for avionics and panel supplies and cutting. If you've never heard of or dealt with SteinAir before, it's a place you should really get to know. SteinAir is run by RV builders, who have done hundreds of panels for all types of aircraft. They do OEM wire harnesses for many kits and aircraft, they stock almost every panel supply you could need, and are probably the biggest Garmin dealer in the country with highly knowledgeable people on their staff. Stein Bruch himself became semi-famous to some people back in the mid-late-2000's when Direct2Avionics, a former Chelton distributor, screwed dozens of customers and dealers by basically embezzeling all of the deposits from people's purchases and using it for personal luxury items. When all of these builders faced complete non-delivery of their avionics, Stein actually took person money out of HIS pocket to make it right for his customers, to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars. With that, he proved to be a trustworthy and stand-up guy and earned many new customers in the process. I happen to live just a 25 minute flight (but 1.75 hour drive!!) from the airport near them, so when I need anything, they're my source. Below are some pics from one of our avionics gathering flights.
|With all of my ordered avionics
now here, I was finally able to start mounting the radio
trays and complete my panel layout. As it turned
out, moving the panel over that 3.3" worked real well with
all of the tray mountings. I had to often take notes
on scraps of wood to note exactly how far from screw holes
things aligned. I used QCad, an open source
CAD program, to do my entire panel layout. I had to
draw up all of my instruments, and lay them out in the
orientation that I wanted them, and then send it to Stein
where he could import my items and cut them on their CNC
machine there. Below you can see I spent some time
in my RV-10, trying to measure and verify clearances and
try to duplicate the panel as much as possible. My
panel will have the following in it:
Largely, this is a duplicate of my RV-10 panel. I have not yet installed a backup attitude gauge, as I'm not planning to panel-mount one unless I can find something as small as the RC Allen 2600-2, for a price of $1200 or less. That instrument would be about perfect. My EIS has airspeed and altitude in it, so I do not need backup of those items on stand-alone gauges. My current plan, barring any new avionics by the time I fly, is to add an ipad-integrated AHRS system for use as backup, any time I fly IFR. If you start it up and test it before any flight so that it's ready to go, it should be a suitable backup. I own FlyQ EFB and WingX that I can use it on. I also own ForeFlight but will not invest in any hardware for that software as I philosophically disagree with any company that uses proprietary methods to lock their customers into using only one hardware system. That about covers my instrumentation. I've found the Chelton (now Genesys) system very nice to fly behind for 9 years now, and I like that they do NOT use photo-realistic terrain. That only helps to destroy your ability to quickly interpret of the information that the EFIS is displaying.
|Above you can see some pictures
of the RV-10 throttle quadrant being installed in the
RV-14 panel. The panel to subpanel distance is
perfect for adding 4 nutplates to mount this
quadrant. I have almost NO need for the crazy
waste-of-space wire chase that Van's has us put on the
tunnel top, and I'm unsure if I'll install it with
modifications, or modify it out of existance. I will
not be using it for fuses, as they do, so the only purpose
it serves is a wire and brake hose routing channel.
I was able to modify it so far to be able to get my
quadrant installed. I just have to decide if I'm
keeping it or tossing it. I would much prefer to use
that space on the tunnel top for a fire
extinguisher. With that in place, the extinguisher
likely as to move also.
The quadrant, however, operates and feels perfect in that location. I'm really glad I went that route. Since it also comes with it's own cable mounts, that's one less part I have to install from the kit.
|Above you can see the wire
chase behind the quadrant. You also can see the
canopy jettison release, that with my chosen radios,
should be able to remain in it's standard location.
I was thankful for that. Once again we borded the
plane, this time with better weather, for a trip to
Stein has an awesome panel planning theory. For not that much cash, I was able to have him cut me a test panel out of plexiglass. This allowed me to take the plexi panel home and line it up to my panel and make sure everything fit just fine. It was very lucky I did this. I had forgotten completely to add my Hobbs indicator (yeah, I like them), so I added that, but it also gave me the opportunity to see if the ACS key switch had enough room behind the panel, and I could shift things around to make room for the hobbs. I also found that I should have moved my rows of breakers and switches slightly down, to keep some of the terminals a little further from other avionics on the back side of the panel. They wouldn't have touched, but more space gives more security against anything shorting out. I also saw that my original radio tray mounting was very close, but that I could extend the level of the bottom cut a bit. One large priority for me too is that none of the switches be directly in front of the throttle/prop/mixture controls, so being able to place all the switches and test their function was great. I wanted my fuel boost to be able to be easily hit by the thumb when your hand is on the throttle, and I wanted to make sure that the flap switch was in a good position. One other major item was the EIS. The CAD diagram I had on it wasn't accurate at all, so I re-created it from direct measurements, then cut one on a paper print to verify it before it went to aluminum. It definitely was a big help having this plexi panel, so for anyone doing a custom panel I'd highly recommend it.
|After having it all laid out on
plexi, and doing my adjustments, I sent Stein the info to
have the aluminum panel cut out of .080 aluminmum.
You can see the differences in the hole spacings if you
look closely above at the plexi panel over top the
aluminum panel. Below are some pictures of the radio
trays being mounted permanentaly.
|Now that the panel is cut and
everything laid out where it needs to be, the next step is
getting the subpanel fixed.
Don't ask me why they stuck a map pocket in there, but I want that space back for other things. So my plan is to modify it from being a rectangular hole, to having an aluminum "hatch" cover over it so that I still have reach-through access to the firewall, but I can mount my altitude encoder right over top of where the hole is. With not much work, I should be able to get all of the items I need mounted, stuck on the subpanel. Once that's done, it's time to prime and paint the subpanel area so it looks nicer with the canopy up, and then I'll start the power wiring.