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  #1  
Old 08-27-2022, 01:21 PM
Hartstoc's Avatar
Hartstoc Hartstoc is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Sebastopol,CA
Posts: 394
Default Just another all-Garmin IFR panel, BUTů

Two years ago I decided to drop everything, build myself a new hangar at KSTS, and finish the plethora of complicated modifications that took my RV-7A out of service for 32 months. This has also taken me away from VAF for quite some time, but now I’ve got a LOT that I’m looking forward to sharing here. I decided to wait until I had significant flight experience with all of the changes, so now I can boast of 150 squawk-free flight hours over a one year period. This flying has been more or less equally divided between aerobatics, cross-country, instrument, and local pleasure flying. It is remarkable that any one airplane can do all of these things so very well.



I thought I’d begin with some discussion of the instrument panel pictured above, which has some features that I think anyone in the process of creating a fully-coupled IFR panel might find interesting. It is shown here during a solo cross country VFR flight. I recently completed my IFR recurrency working with my good friend Art Hayssen, a local CFII (more than 11,000 hours flight instruction). Art was pretty blown away by its IFR performance and is even thinking about replicating my panel to the greatest possible extent in his Piper Aztec!

For starters, I cannot say enough about the advantages of going All-Garmin if that is possible for your build, especially with the autopilot elements. The magic of can-bus communication greatly simplifies installation and results in a reliable, user-friendly panel that takes full advantage of the phenomenal capabilities embedded in the G3X system. All components “talk nicely” with one another, and this really pays off during fully-coupled IFR procedures.

Essential components of my panel include(and I’m starting with the iPad on purpose): an 11” iPad Pro prominently swivel-mounted at eye level in portrait mode, a GTN750xi, the 10”G3XTouch, one G-5, the GTX345 transponder(without gps as it gets that from the GTN), the GMA245 audio panel, the GMC507 flight director, GSA28 servos for pitch and roll, and the GTR20 remote (com2) for the G3X. Of course there are numerous additional remote items required to integrate all of this with the aircraft.



So what choices make THIS all-Garmin panel different and special?

1- Note the location of the canopy-jettison pull. Considerable effort was required to move the entire radio stack 5” to the left of where is is normally installed in RV’s having the jettison feature. This required designing some new linkage to allow the jettison pull to move about 4” to the right. As a result, the GTN750/G3X/G5 cluster is tightly packed and very pilot-centric. The less you have to move your eyes around to scan during busy IFR work, the better. But there is another reason-

2- My favorite feature of the GTN750 is its traffic depiction, and that is the reason I encourage biting the bullet and going with the 750 over smaller screens. Even during Practice IFR flights in VFR conditions I always keep that big “radar screen” up(see photo)and conflicting traffic gets your attention even in peripheral vision. It has alerted me to at least a half dozen close encounters that I would never even had noticed without it. Even when the GTN is in other display modes, it hits you with a prominent alert of nearby conflicting traffic.

3- Could one G3X actually be BETTER than two? I think so, and for several reasons. There is no way for a second MFD to be “pilot centric” located way over there on the right side pointing toward the (often empty) passenger seat. You can save 5-7# installed weight and thousands of dollars by omitting it. Not having two allows you to reserve the entire right side for a nice, big 11” iPad. A super sturdy Ram mount allows you to point the iPad directly at your face so, voila!, it also becomes pretty darn pilot-centric. It is a joy to do all of your flight planning using ForeFlight at home or in the hotel on the iPad, click it into the ram mount, and bluetooth-crossfill to the G3X, which then auto-crossfills to the GTN. If you make a course change or add a procedure on the GTN, that crossfills back to the G3X and, in turn, becomes available to the iPad. I regard the iPad as being nearly as essential as either of those other two instruments, and having it mounted at eye level where you can use one hand to pull up plates, zoom and shrink, etc., etc. Is just WAY better than having it knocking around the cabin, and it could save your bacon during a widespread electrical failure. Always avoid looking down too much!
(Edit: I know many pilots love their PFD+MFD setups, and I’m not looking to offend anyone. I guess another way to put this is that, for me, having a well-mounted, easily accessed iPad outweighs any possible benefit of a second panel mounted screen in today's world.)

4- The audio panel, transponder, and flight director COULD all be remote devices accessed through the G3X and GTN touchscreens, saving money, panel space, and even a few ounces. Why didn’t I do that? Well, take a close look at the photo. I generally keep my right hand on or near the throttle. Note the close proximity of all of the hard buttons on those three units(and all other switches on the panel) to that location. I’ve developed pretty good muscle-memory for them, and I really like having them at the ready full-time. By contrast, if they are remoted, you have to interrupt whatever screen configuration you have running on the G3X or GTN, and then reverse that after making the change. That is fine during leisurely VFR flights, but such distractions are the last thing you need flying IFR. To be honest, I could live with a remote transponder, but personally would never consider remoting the flight director or the audio panel.

5- It is a personal preference of mine to have minimal switches on the control stick(I don’t like flexing wires or straining connections) so the PTT and CWS(autopilot control wheel steering) buttons are the only ones there. Everything else is hard mounted in easy reach of the right hand. I even re-purposed the old Ray Allen trim servo rocker switches as you can see. I also favor mil-spec switches for their durability and reliability. Note the autopilot master that kills the flight director and both servos if I ever want to get rid of it fast, and the Avionics master, which is a 2PST with the feed parallel wired through both poles for a degree of redundancy.

6- Finally, DO go with the GMC507 flight director, as it allows you to take full advantage of all features of the G500 autopilot system that is embedded in G3X architecture.

Ultimately, after a year of pretty intense flying, I feel like I got lucky with my design choices, and there really is not a single thing I would change.

As a teaser for future posts, note that the photos contains a center console, an unusual master switch, and a few other oddities I did not mention. I’m proud of this panel for being a good execution, but admit that Garmin deserves all of the credit for making it a a true wonder.

The other stuff, though, I think is pretty revolutionary, and I will be posting about it before too long. This will include systems optimizing the advantages of high power-density lithium batteries for aircraft, a fuel delivery system that is many times more reliable than those found on most aircraft, and together these provide electron-dependent birds like mine at least twice the intrinsic reliability and redundancy of any magneto/mechanical fuel pump equipped aircraft.- Otis Holt

This photo hand flying an IFR approach during recurrency training:

__________________
Otis Holt-
RV-7A (bought but massively modified)
Built Monnett Moni 1982
Frmr Pilot/Author CAFE APR's:
RV-8A, S-7C, Europa, Glastar.
-2022 VAF donation!!-
"RV-Fun is inversely proportional to RV-Weight!"

Last edited by Hartstoc : 08-28-2022 at 12:03 AM.
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  #2  
Old 08-27-2022, 01:56 PM
toolmanmike toolmanmike is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Woodbury, PA
Posts: 32
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Very nice panel! Makes me rethink my previous opinion on a dual g3x screen setup.
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  #3  
Old 08-27-2022, 04:01 PM
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Ed_Wischmeyer Ed_Wischmeyer is offline
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 1,813
Default

My panel is also all Garmin, and after 570 hours with the Garmin panel, including IFR, X-C, and local flying, I agree with you on the utility of the panel. But my experience is different in a few ways.

Having the autopilot on top of the stack means that my hand doesn't block the view of the buttons I'm pushing. I don't think I've ever encountered a situation in which being able to go from engine power to autopilot in a hurry was convenient.

In flight, I almost never go from throttle/prop/mixture to avionics, so placing buttons down there doesn't work for me. And I almost never touch the transponder once it's set before takeoff.

I have a 307 and not a 507 autopilot controller because the upgrade from a 305 required no wiring change. Agreed that the altitude and heading select buttons are really useful. Functionally, the only difference between 307 and 507 is that the 507 has the Track button, a function that is available on the main screen. However, the track mode indicator line on the map disappears after a few seconds, diminishing its usefulness.

I strongly disagree with having only one big screen! And especially with the statement that a second big screen is too far away and hard to read. The useful data on a screen is almost always in the center of the screen, so the trick is to put the MFD in split screen mode and bring that desired data closer. Trimming the sides of the screen involves little if any loss of useful display space. This split also means that you can put a PFD display (and power gauges) on the far side of the MFD for flying with friends, which I do a lot. As a CFI, I maintain proficiency from both sides, and it's easier to have a PFD on the right side.

I agree with your choice of putting the engine instruments next to the flight instruments. Having them on the right side of the cockpit is just duplicating a shortcoming of steam gauge cockpits (except late model C172s had them on the left).

I always use round dials as they are easier to read than tapes when you only have a second to read them. I've never seen a study stating that tapes are easier to read, especially when you only have time for a glance and don't already know what to look for. BTW, tapes aren't really modern. The first vertical tapes showed up in 1925.

As for the curved labels around the switches... not sure how that helps readability.

Since I bought the RV-9A already flying, I wasn't willing to do a total panel replacement and rewiring, although I did a bunch! In case of total electrical failure, I can fly a non-precision approach on a G5 and aera 660 with geo-referenced approach plates. It's not that hard!

All my flight plans have been easy enough to enter on the GTN650 in the airplane, so no need felt to do them before getting to the airplane. Saved a few bucks there.

The big questions, of course, are: Does the panel give you utility and safety with acceptable workload? And does it fit your personal style of operating and preferences? For both of us, I think the answer to all these questions is yes.
__________________
RV-9A at KSAV (Savannah, GA; dual G3X Touch with autopilot, GTN650, GTX330ES, GDL52 ADSB-In)
Previously RV-4, RV-8, RV-8A, AirCam, Cessna 175
ATP CFII PhD, so I have no excuses when I screw up

Last edited by Ed_Wischmeyer : 08-27-2022 at 04:05 PM.
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  #4  
Old 08-27-2022, 04:34 PM
Jslow2 Jslow2 is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Cement City
Posts: 196
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I'm years of from putting in a panel, but one thing that I noticed is how big everything Garmin makes is, compared to Dynon stuff. Makes me wonder if the dynon stuff is harder to use being smaller. The Garmin panels all look so full with their big AP, radio, and comm panel.
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  #5  
Old 08-27-2022, 05:08 PM
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mburch mburch is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Oregon
Posts: 1,464
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Nice looking panel. You can get rid of the TRIM annunciation on your PFD if you go to the LRU config page and change all the Trim Servo LRU items to Disabled.
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Matt Burch
RV-7 (last 90%)
http://www.rv7blog.com

Any opinions expressed in this message are my own and not those of my employer.
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  #6  
Old 08-27-2022, 05:40 PM
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Hartstoc Hartstoc is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Sebastopol,CA
Posts: 394
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mburch View Post
Nice looking panel. You can get rid of the TRIM annunciation on your PFD if you go to the LRU config page and change all the Trim Servo LRU items to Disabled.
Thanks- That is something I've been meaning to look into and have just ignored it.
__________________
Otis Holt-
RV-7A (bought but massively modified)
Built Monnett Moni 1982
Frmr Pilot/Author CAFE APR's:
RV-8A, S-7C, Europa, Glastar.
-2022 VAF donation!!-
"RV-Fun is inversely proportional to RV-Weight!"
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  #7  
Old 08-27-2022, 05:42 PM
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jcarne jcarne is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Worland, Wyoming
Posts: 2,346
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jslow2 View Post
I'm years of from putting in a panel, but one thing that I noticed is how big everything Garmin makes is, compared to Dynon stuff. Makes me wonder if the dynon stuff is harder to use being smaller. The Garmin panels all look so full with their big AP, radio, and comm panel.
Not sure what you are referring to on the size difference. The Dynon stuff is insanely easy/user friendly.
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Jereme Carne
PPL
RV-7A Flying as of 03/2021
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  #8  
Old 08-27-2022, 05:45 PM
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jcarne jcarne is offline
 
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Location: Worland, Wyoming
Posts: 2,346
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Otis, awesome panel man! My layout is similar to yours and I love having the iPad instead of a second screen as well. I'm so glad that people on this forum recommended that to me instead of dropping another 4.5k on a second screen.
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Jereme Carne
PPL
RV-7A Flying as of 03/2021
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  #9  
Old 08-27-2022, 06:12 PM
David Paule David Paule is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 5,499
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That's a well-thought-out panel which looks great. I appreciate your discussion of the architecture.

Dave
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  #10  
Old 08-27-2022, 06:13 PM
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Hartstoc Hartstoc is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Sebastopol,CA
Posts: 394
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_Wischmeyer View Post
My panel is also all Garmin, and after 570 hours with the Garmin panel, including IFR, X-C, and local flying, I agree with you on the utility of the panel. But my experience is different in a few ways.

Having the autopilot on top of the stack means that my hand doesn't block the view of the buttons I'm pushing. I don't think I've ever encountered a situation in which being able to go from engine power to autopilot in a hurry was convenient.

In flight, I almost never go from throttle/prop/mixture to avionics, so placing buttons down there doesn't work for me. And I almost never touch the transponder once it's set before takeoff.


I strongly disagree with having only one big screen! And especially with the statement that a second big screen is too far away and hard to read. The useful data on a screen is almost always in the center of the screen, so the trick is to put the MFD in split screen mode and bring that desired data closer. Trimming the sides of the screen involves little if any loss of useful display space. This split also means that you can put a PFD display (and power gauges) on the far side of the MFD for flying with friends, which I do a lot. As a CFI, I maintain proficiency from both sides, and it's easier to have a PFD on the right side.

I agree with your choice of putting the engine instruments next to the flight instruments. Having them on the right side of the cockpit is just duplicating a shortcoming of steam gauge cockpits (except late model C172s had them on the left).

As for the curved labels around the switches... not sure how that helps readability.

The big questions, of course, are: Does the panel give you utility and safety with acceptable workload? And does it fit your personal style of operating and preferences? For both of us, I think the answer to all these questions is yes.
Ed- Thanks for your thoughtful comments. We are lucky to have the freedom to personalize our aircraft. My main point about going with one G3X is that it allows room for maximizing the use of ForeFlight and the iPad, whose utility has grown by leaps and bounds. I can say I’ve never felt any lack of access to info with just one 10” G3X, but I’m not denying the utility of a second screen, especially if you are flying with a copilot. It really is also a luxury to have everything pointed right at your face. Having all the hard buttons low is not to keep them close to the throttle but close to my free hand with minimal up and down reaching. The curved labels are mostly a personal design aesthetic, but it does better associate each marking to the relevant switch than a straight row of lettering when things are close together. I agree with your closing note, and also would say that with ever-changing technology coming along, you are usually better off to stick with what you have if it works well for you, rather than chasing each new shiny object that comes along. Happy Flying!- Otis
__________________
Otis Holt-
RV-7A (bought but massively modified)
Built Monnett Moni 1982
Frmr Pilot/Author CAFE APR's:
RV-8A, S-7C, Europa, Glastar.
-2022 VAF donation!!-
"RV-Fun is inversely proportional to RV-Weight!"

Last edited by Hartstoc : 08-28-2022 at 11:07 AM. Reason: Spelling
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