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Old 09-19-2019, 03:06 AM
Draker's Avatar
Draker Draker is offline
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 572
Default Critique my panel design!

After months of agonizing and tweaking, I'm starting to get serious on a panel layout. So exciting! I figured before I get the chainsaw out, why not let hundreds of years of combined VAF experience loose to roast/critique it... likely there's something I didn't think of, or a better way.

(all images click through to larger ones)


This is an all-Garmin panel featuring two side-by-side GDU460 units. G5 backup display on the left. Center stack contains GTR 200B com radio and GMC 507 autopilot controller. The blank space is set aside for a potential (far future) IFR GTN 650. Above the blank area are backup airspeed and altimeter steam gauges.

I plan to use Van's 1" extended height panel--a single piece that extends from side skin to side skin, instead of the removable "ears", for the 1-1/4" air vents.

I could not find a pleasing way to fit pilot and passenger headset+LEMO jacks yet, so I may choose to hang small brackets underneath the panel for this purpose or go with jacks in the armrests.

Hobbs meter and ELT control over on the passenger side.

Under the G5 is a parking brake pull handle, and under that a single 5A circuit breaker protecting the alternator field supply circuit. The remainder of the aircraft's electrical circuit protection will consist of four 8-circuit ATO blade fuse blocks mounted on the sub-panel.

Very early draft of data interconnect plan, wiring harness, and wiring diagrams here.


Standard bat style toggle switches (from left to right):
  1. (SPST) IBBS Battery backup enable
  2. (DPDT) Combination Master / Alternator Field switch (Progressive OFF-ON-ON)
  3. (DPDT) Left Mag (OFF-ON-MOM)
  4. (DPDT) Right Mag (OFF-ON-MOM)
    (Simultaneously hold both switches in the momentary up position to engage starter)
  5. (DPST) Autopilot servo enable
  6. (SPST) Pitot Heat
  7. (SPST) Nav (position) lights
  8. (SPST) Landing lights
  9. (SPST) Taxi lights
  10. (DPDT) Strobe/WigWag (Three position: Up is strobe, Down is WW, Center is off)
  11. (SPST) Boost Fuel Pump
  12. (SPDT) Flaps (MOM-OFF-ON, flap down is momentary)


Self-explanatory. 3 separate dimmer circuits, pax PTT, Dual USB charger and stereo 3.5mm jack for music input


Left side: Oil pressure, low voltage, master caution, master warning, and a switch to test flash them.
Right side: Carbon monoxide warning with test switch

This design leaves open the possibility of preserving the canopy release handle, if I choose to run it out to the panel.

Due to the depth of the COM radio, a modification will need to be cut into the sub-panel. Also, as others have pointed out here in the past, this display configuration requires relocating the aft halves of the F-745 sub-panel ribs. Planning to attach the radio and AP brackets directly to those ribs.

Clearance looks good for all pull cables and instrument depths, once the COM radio is accommodated.


That's about it. Anyone have any suggestions or critiques?

Now all I have to do is mortgage the house...
Ryan Drake
Livermore, CA
Donated 12/31/2020
RV-7A (N12VD): Finishing final tasks for engine-start and airworthiness!
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Old 09-19-2019, 03:45 AM
Peter Costick Peter Costick is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 114

I put my lemo plugs on the air vent ears. they work fine but if I did it again I would put them behind the seats.
Peter Costick
Melbourne Australia
RV7A Flying, VH-SVN
2020 Donation Made
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Old 09-19-2019, 05:01 AM
mike newall's Avatar
mike newall mike newall is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Yorkshire, England
Posts: 2,196

Yea.... change the Garmin to Dynon

I'll get my coat
"I add a little excitement, a little spice to your lives, and all you do is complain!" - Q

Donated in 2021
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Old 09-19-2019, 05:27 AM
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rmartingt rmartingt is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 1,131

If you have dual EFIS screens, (presumably) dual ADAHRS, and a backup mini-EFIS... why the steam gauges?
RV-7ER - canopy and wiring
There are two kinds of fool in the world. The first says "this is old, and therefore good"; the second says "this is new, and therefore better".
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:51 AM
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jcarne jcarne is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Worland, Wyoming
Posts: 1,983

I would add that you do what I am right now for the future GPS unit. Find you the tray and connectors and install all the wiring now. That way you don't have to do major surgery. You also may want to look into the Avidyne IFD-440 for a couple of reasons. When I did my research I literally heard no one preferring the GTN-650 over the IFD-440 of those that ACTUALLY flew both. (although someone will most likely be along shortly to correct this because some just want to argue lol) Also, you can find a tray and connectors for an old Garmin 430W (which will be cheaper than a new tray) and when the time comes the IFD-440 slide right into that tray. Drop in replacement. That was one of the best decisions Avidyne ever made in my mind. This is all just my opinion so take it for what it's worth. However, I was initially considering the 650 and very very easily changed my mind when I started reading about the two.
Jereme Carne
RV-7A Flying as of 03/2021
Exempt but gladly paying!
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:57 AM
N941WR's Avatar
N941WR N941WR is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: SC
Posts: 12,887

No need for the Hobbs meter. That info will be in the EFIS.

Move the switches so you go left to right and put your hand on the throttle and never move it again. This includes raising and lowering the flaps.
Bill R.
RV-9 (Yes, it's a dragon tail)
O-360 w/ dual P-mags
Build the plane you want, not the plane others want you to build!
SC86 - Easley, SC
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:02 AM
Desert Rat Desert Rat is offline
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Wichita KS
Posts: 713

If it were me, I'd want the TOGA button next to the throttle. Also, I think it's going to be a hassle to have to start the airplane by hitting two switches, but that's just personal preference.

Is nobody using an avionics master anymore?
Terry Shortt
AGI, CFI, CFII, MEI, A&P, Janitor
RV7 Empennage & Wing done
Fuselage in process
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:42 AM
N941WR's Avatar
N941WR N941WR is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: SC
Posts: 12,887

Originally Posted by mike newall View Post
Yea.... change the Garmin to Dynon

I'll get my coat
I couldn't agree more.

One thing I would highly recommend, is installing a Dynon PocketPanel rater than the Garmin backup unit.b the reason is that the PocketPanel does not require a connection to the Pitot or Static lines. Thus, if you get a plugged line, the PocketPanel will continue to operate normally.
Bill R.
RV-9 (Yes, it's a dragon tail)
O-360 w/ dual P-mags
Build the plane you want, not the plane others want you to build!
SC86 - Easley, SC
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:44 AM
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Snowflake Snowflake is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Sidney, BC, Canada
Posts: 4,278

Personal preference would be to ditch the G5 and the steam gauges. I'd place an Aera 660 in the empty space above the radios. It's completely stand-alone if the power goes out, and provides backup mapping, navigation, and instrumentation suitable for VFR flight (yes, Ground-speed and Track-based, but that would do in a pinch).
Rob Prior
1996 RV-6 "Tweety" C-FRBP (formerly N196RV)
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Old 09-19-2019, 09:05 AM
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Carl Froehlich Carl Froehlich is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Dogwood Airpark (VA42)
Posts: 3,253

Have you considered how you will do maintenance and further mods to the panel - without major surgery or on your back with your head under the panel?

Here is a post I recently put out on this subject:

A simple approach for your plane it to transform the lower edge of the panel to a skirt (where you have mounted all your switches and such) that stays in the plane when you pull the panel. This translates to a horizontal cut at the bottom of the panel to create the skirt, a piece of aluminum backing riveted on the back of the skirt and nutplates on the top of the aluminum backing so that the panel above the skirt can be removed.

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