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  #21  
Old 10-23-2010, 01:07 AM
jetjok's Avatar
jetjok jetjok is offline
 
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Location: Sutter Creek, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJSeipel View Post
www.buildyourcnc.com

$2000, 3 months of work, learning software, test cutting, etc. but now I can cut a million copies of my panel no problem.

Learning a new skill....priceless. (oh, and it cuts square holes, round holes, and any other shape you want.)

PJ Seipel
RV-10 #40032
PJ,
Do you hire out??
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  #22  
Old 10-24-2010, 07:45 PM
PJSeipel PJSeipel is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetjok View Post
PJ,
Do you hire out??
Here's what the experience taught me: When you pay the $200-$400 that it costs to get your panel professionally cut either by CNC or waterjet, it is money well spent. I don't believe any of the guys who are doing it are making a huge profit. If you want a recommendation, I'd go with SteinAir.

I cut the first panel for my RV-10 by hand a couple years ago; it took about a month. Then Blue Mountain went out of business and I traded up for Dynon Skyview. Since I needed to redo the panel I wanted to be able to try out several different layouts in the plane. I looked at a number of different companies to get it waterjet cut, but didn't feel like I could adequately explain my layout without trying it out in the plane. I didn't want to send off a cad file, spend $200, and find out it wasn't what I was looking for.

So in the interest of experimenting, I built my own CNC (from the kit on the website I listed). I wanted to be able to play around with different panel layouts and because I'm fascinated with how CNC machines work. The machine I built has some limitations (the one I built won't cut a full panel at one pass; I had to do half and then shift the panel 12" to do the other half) and it is not as rigid as a commercial machine built out of metal, so I had to cut at much slower speeds in order to keep the accuracy. After cutting several test panels out of lexan, I cut 2 trials out of .032 (to test instrument fit) and then the final out of .063. Each panel took almost 8 hours of cutting. The machines the big boys are using probably take less than an hour per panel.

End state, I got the panel I wanted with extremely accurate cutouts (to .001) and a machine that will cut some neat patterns for things like cabinets, etc. But it wouldn't be usable to hire out because it's way too much work to cut a panel; between the cad/cam setup and the "supervision" of the actual cutting, I'd never have time to work on my RV-10. That said, if anyone is in the Jacksonville, NC area and wants to come by and learn some CNC or just BS about RV's, let me know. I'll be here until next summer; I don't deploy until about June.

PJ Seipel
RV-10 #40032
Extremely slow build...
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  #23  
Old 10-24-2010, 11:30 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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The CNC sounds pretty neat PJ....but just in the interest of not scaring novice builders away, it really doesn't need to take all that much time to cut a panel using standard building tools. It's just another RV part after all. Laying it out is just drafting, and then cutting is just accuracy. I've probably done half a dozen complete panels in my life - takes me a couple of hours to cut them out, including square holes.

Not disputing that CNC sounds cool - but I'd hate for folks to get the wrong idea on how tough (or easy) it can be. Besides, new blanks cost what - $60? Nowhere near as bad as messing up a canopy....

Paul
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  #24  
Old 10-28-2010, 12:06 PM
PJSeipel PJSeipel is offline
 
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I agree completely and my intent wasn't to scare anyone off at all. You're right that it isn't hard, although time might be somewhat dependent on how complicated your layout is. Practice helps a lot When I said my first one took a month, I should have said "it took a month of Saturdays." My problem is that I hate sanding and filing, so my tolerance for those tasks is very low before I have to go do something else for a while. I did not buy a punch tool, so I cut the round holes with a fly cutter originally. I also put a number of 3/4" square switches and lights in my panel and cutting out square holes that small was a pain. My response was just another perspective on a skill I chose to learn while building my 2nd panel. It validates that if you chose to have your panel professionally cut, the price you're getting charged for their labor and expertise is very reasonable. For me, it also meant no filing or sanding beyond a light deburring.

And fortunately the windows on the RV-10 are much easier to cut than the canopy on the other models. Every time I read one of those threads I am thankful I didn't have to make a "big cut" like that.

PJ Seipel
RV-10 #40032
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