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Old 06-06-2021, 09:53 AM
00Dan 00Dan is offline
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 183
Default Are any of the EFIS ecosystems well suited to incremental installations/upgrades?

I’ve been researching the major brands and I quickly saw that total cost will ultimately come out very close in a complete IFR setup. While that’s my eventual goal, I’m considering if any of the solutions suit themselves to a piecemeal installation, upgrading over time. I currently have an entirely steam gauge panel (other than a digital engine monitor) without any gyros; I’d like to perhaps add some sort of attitude source for safety at night.

Anyone here who has started out with a VFR panel and added capability over time? Was it something you would do again or just go all in at once?

Context: this is for an RV-4, so lots of room to work behind the panel and new panel blanks won’t break the bank.
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Old 06-06-2021, 11:44 AM
Carl Froehlich's Avatar
Carl Froehlich Carl Froehlich is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Dogwood Airpark (VA42)
Posts: 3,048

I did the incremental approach on the first project (RV-8A). This was a VFR bird, but I added an electric AI. That was a mistake, this certified electric AI drifted so bad is was just one step above useless.

I replaced the AI with a Dynon D-10A. This was a real EFIS, and coupled with the Apollo GX-60 and SL-30 I had a legal IFR plane (but not IFR under my risk tolerance). The D-10A is a nice unit - I would guess however Dynon will soon come out with an updated version.

For doing an incremental approach today remember the single big ticket item is the grossly overpriced certified GPS IFR navigator (e.g. GTN-650). This is not needed for a VFR bird. I suggest a single 10” SkyView HDX with the GPS 2020 receiver/antenna, adding the SkyView ADS-B receiver and dual axis autopilot (no RV should be without an autopilot). Keep your current comm. If you do not have ADS-B out, add the SkyView XPDR. Keep you current steam gauge altimeter and airspeed for backup.

This gives you the leap to fully intergrated moving map, weather and traffic displayed on the EFIS. The gain in situational awareness is the reward.

When ready for IFR, add the overpriced GPS navigator of your choice.

One option - start wiht the smaller SkyView HDX display, add a second HDX display later. For my RV-8 I have one 10” and one 7” HDX displays - but I’m guessing your RV-4 panel is smaller.

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Old 06-06-2021, 02:08 PM
BobTurner BobTurner is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 7,562

I’d second Carl’s approach. You can start with any of the ‘mini’ efis units - a GRT mini, garmin g5, or the Dynon. Since you have nothing now, mount it right in front of you. When you’re ready for the big upgrade, get a new panel blank, re-use the mini in a back-up role. Note the ‘cost’ here is that your first time around labor is all ‘wasted’.
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Old 06-06-2021, 02:42 PM
RV10Pilot RV10Pilot is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Medford, NJ USA
Posts: 428

You could easily develop an upgrade plan with any of the major efis manufactures. I would start with what you ultimate panel to be and then figure out the phased approach to achieve you end goal.

I agree with Carl's approach, and it could be done for ~$8k, But IMHO you could start out even smaller. Replace your 6 pack with a Dynon HDX and GPS 2020. Use everything else that you have existing. (ADSB in $800, A/P add $1,500 for 2 servos, well worth it but at an added cost.

Then decide set you priorities and add ADSB in, AutoPilot Servos, Engine monitor, second screen etc. Add them now or in the future. And they are all remote components so you don't have to add any holes to the panel.

The final step, add the ifr navigator.
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Old 06-06-2021, 04:13 PM
Ironflight's Avatar
Ironflight Ironflight is offline
VAF Moderator / Line Boy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 12,731

The answer is essentially “all of them” - Dynon, GRT, Garmin, AFS - all are very simple to upgrade by adding equipment.Most of them automatically recognize the new equipment and keep on ticking.

It is useful to think ahead when it comes to harnesses, and possibly add connectors for what you think you might add later - of course you might have to do some temporary CAN bus terminations with this approach, but I have done that with no issues.
Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Dayton Valley Airpark (A34)
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Old 06-06-2021, 05:51 PM
Ex172Owner Ex172Owner is offline
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Perry, KS
Posts: 16
Default Don't overlook used avionics

Consider putting in a good used certified GPS/NAV unit until you can afford a newer one. For example, a lot of people are still replacing Garmin GNS430W and GNS530W units. Look at Marketplace groups on Facebook and other online sources, and check with avionics shops that do a lot of upgrades. But do be careful to get a fully functional unit that you can keep up to date with software and databases - I'm not sure whether Garmin still supports databases for the GNS series.
Doug Tilghman
RV-8 N801MC, completed 2003 (4th owner)
Builder: Chuck Carlbom and Tony McPeak, assisted by PlaneBuilders, Medford, OR (Workmanship Award, Oshkosh 2003)
Based Lawrence KS (LWC)
2021 Donation Paid
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Old 06-06-2021, 06:09 PM
MacCool's Avatar
MacCool MacCool is offline
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: central Minnesota
Posts: 648

Advanced Flight makes a very modular panel that ostensibly make incremental upgrades easy. It's a neat concept. I don't know if they have a ready-made panel for an RV-4, but I think that one could have any panel cut and buy the AFS ACM and other components without the panel.

RV-9A, 2011, bought flying
IFR certified
AFS 5400/3500, G5, 430W, some other stuff
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Old 06-07-2021, 08:31 AM
00Dan 00Dan is offline
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 183

The AFS solution looks nifty. After reading the responses here it seems like the solutions would be either go with a system that has a hub system like the AFS or go ahead and pre-wire everything for the desired final configuration.

For an incremental upgrade something that I was considering was the value of two of the mini EFIS (G5 or GRT mini, for example) compared to a single large screen. In the RV-4 you’d only be able to fit a single 10” screen; I’ve seen a few examples of people managing a traditional PFD/MFD with 7” screens but it’s tight.

Looking ahead to an IFR panel would you be comfortable with two small displays versus one big PFD? It seems they’re about the same price but with two you already have that element of screen/AHRS redundancy, as I see it.
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Old 06-07-2021, 09:14 AM
Carl Froehlich's Avatar
Carl Froehlich Carl Froehlich is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Dogwood Airpark (VA42)
Posts: 3,048

The mini EFIS option is ok for a backup if you already have an integrated display. Running two mini EFIS drives you to cobbled together stuff for the much needed MFD.

For the RV-4 I would run (as a final IFR install) two 7" SkyView systems (first choice) or a single 10" SkyView with a D10A (or G5) as the backup.

My neighbor here at VA42 installed two smaller Grand Rapid EFIS displays in his Lancair 4 - and flew that setup over the North and South Pole, as well as circumnavigating the globe going west (the hard way). The setup worked for him.

Photo is what I'm flying in the RV-8.
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Old 06-07-2021, 09:45 AM
Simon Hitchen's Avatar
Simon Hitchen Simon Hitchen is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 305
Default Dynon worked well

I started with a used smaller Dynon, D700. I bought all the sensors and flew it VFR for a few years very successfully. I recently added an IFR GPS and second used larger Dynon D1000 to complete the IFR upgrade process. I’ve been flying it IFR now for a few months and am very happy with it.

Here is the before VFR version

And the IFR version

Sure there are more modern panels but the used avionics market is very reasonable. All items bought here on VAF for a fraction of the new price.

Hope this helps

Simon Hitchen
Port Perry, ON, Canada
7 Tip Up, Titan XIO-360, Dual P-Mags, Airflow Performance matched Injectors, Sensenich FP Prop, 2 Dynon Skyviews, GPS-175, GTR-200, GTX-327. Day/night VFR/ IFR

Last edited by Simon Hitchen : 06-07-2021 at 09:48 AM.
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