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  #1  
Old 11-14-2012, 02:36 PM
Don's Avatar
Don Don is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 696
Default My Panel - Day/Night VFR 9A

Here?s a rundown on N257SW?s panel. I purchased the plane last month to have some added flying fun while I finish building N702DA. It is the best day/night VFR panel layout I have ever flown behind. This is not to say it is the perfect VFR panel, nor that it would suit your needs or tastes, but rather, it simply is a fine example of good work flow and matching the equipment to the mission. In talking to the builders, I discovered it was their third try.

The components are simple. In front of the pilot is a Dynon D100, which was installed as a stand alone unit (not connected to the AP or the GPS, as near as I can tell). To the left of the Dynon is an analog ASI. I don?t know what the builders intent was but when I first saw it, I figured it was a back up instrument. After flying it, I almost never use the ASI gauge in cruise. All the information I want is available on the EFIS and I?m developing a scan appropriate to the EFIS. However, when I?m flying the pattern to land (or taking off), my eyes are constantly scanning for traffic and evaluating what the wind is doing and what I need to do to maintain a proper ground track. The only information inside the cockpit that I want is air speed. This is where having the round gauge shines. The markings are such that I can tell at a glance how I?m doing. The EFIS has the same information but it seems like reading a number takes a shade longer to absorb than just looking for the position of the needle.

Below the ASI is a TruTrac Digiflight II. So far I have done little more than play with using it. I expect having a two axis AP will help on long cross countries but at this point, other than turning it on and verifying that it appears to work, I have not done much with it. The previous builder indicated that it is indeed wired to the GPS and that at one point it would fly a flight plan and then later it stopped receiving information from the GPS. It appears I have an issue here to sort out; however, the AP can function alone to fly a heading and maintain altitude and that is more than sufficient for me at this point.

Below the AP is the ignition switch and the electric primer. About the only comment needed here is the R ignition is a magneto and the L side has electronic ignition. The mag is tested with the key, the EI is tested by switching it off from the DC bus on the right side of the panel. Below the D100 is a Hobbs meter and PS engineering intercom. Both are self-explanatory.

In the center of the panel is a Bendix-King KMD-150 VFR GPS, an iCom A200 radio, and King KT76A transponder. I?ve heard both good and bad about the KMD-150. With 3 weeks of owning this plane and spending about 24 hours in the left seat flying (note: this doesn?t even keep up with Cousin Vlad over 3 average weeks!), I really like the unit. It is intuitive, easy to use, and has a screen that is big enough to show where you're going, where you've been and what's around you. On the downside, the database updates are way over-priced ($250), the unit doesn?t do as much as my Aera 510, and the sunlight visibility is fine until the sun is low and at your back. In this case the screen is readable, but just barely. For the VFR flying I plan to do, it will serve my purpose well. It is also wired to drive the TruTrac AP - or its supposed to drive the AP.

On the right side of the panel theres a VM1000c engine monitor, a DC bus (if anyone can tell me more about this bus, I?d love to know more), and a glove box. There?s also a dimmer switch, which dims the radio and nothing else, a 40 amp fuse, and cabin heat. The layout of the DC bus is clean and simple. In general, when starting the engine you work from left to right and shutting down you work from right to left. It is not perfect in this respect but it is fairly close. To start, Master - on, Alternator - on, Fuel Pump - on, IGN (electronic ignition) - on. After starting, I usually go left to right a second time and turn on the Avionics Master, lights as appropriate, and maybe the Auto Pilot.

The VM1000c was an unexpected pleasure to encounter. It makes leaning the engine a snap to do and having EGTs and CHTs on all four cylinders is nice. My favorite part is the fuel flow monitor - I love the numbers I see. The unit itself is NOT intuitive and I need to book every time to see what buttons to push when I top off the tanks or want to change something. I am also pretty sure the unit needs to be setup and/or calibrated. The fuel gauges and fuel flow work conservatively but I?d like them to be more accurate. Manifold pressure isn?t very important to me with a FP prop. I?d like to have that reading percent power but it won?t switch over from MP to percent power. That?s another reason I think the unit needs to be set up.

The center column runs from the panel to the fuel selector switch. The top three controls from left to right are carb heat, throttle, and mixture. The switch below the throttle is for trim and the round switch to the right of the trim (almost under the mixture) is for the flaps. I may want to rethink my flap switch. This one has stops at neutral and up and is spring loaded down. If you want to raise your flaps, just flip the switch up, there?s no need to hold it up (as the one I?m building is currently set up). Below the flap switch is the ELT control, and below that a timer. If there was one superfluous piece of equipment, it?s the timer. The Dynon has a count up/count down timer with both local and UTC time.

One last thing that the builders did was to add a map light and switch for both the pilot and the passenger. They?re both conveniently located on the F704K upright strip, one on each side and take up no panel space.

So that?s the plane. One thing I noticed was the lack of redundancy. For a VFR airplane, I think this is fine. The canopy provides the redundancy - just look outside and fly the plane. The equipment installed is reliable and should provide a lot of trouble free service. I wouldn?t even think about this in an IFR situation but that?s not the mission of this plane.

As far as changes go, there are only three things I?m even considering. First, I?d like to add two or three USB ports. One for my iPad, one to charge my iPhone or an external antenna and one for my wife to use. I?m toying with removing the clock on the center column and putting it there. Second, the OAT probe for this plane is connected to the VM1000 and is mounted in the right air vent. I?d like a OAT in a better position for accurate readings and have it connected to EFIS so I can get accurate winds aloft. Third, and this is the biggest modification - I?d like to replace the Van?s bent aluminum pitot tube with a Dynon unheated pitot so I can activate the AOA indicator on the D100.

In all honesty, a lot of thought went into this panel and the guys who build it deserve a lot of credit. I can't think of a better way to give the builders credit than by flying the plane frequently and stealing a few of their ideas for the plane I'm finishing. The workflow is superb in my estimation. I know it won?t be all things to all pilots, but it puts a smile on this pilots face every time he flies it.
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Don Alexander
Virginia
RV-9A 257SW Purchase Flying - O-320, Dynon D100
RV-9A 702DA (reserved) Finish Kit IOX-340
www.propjock.com
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  #2  
Old 11-14-2012, 02:41 PM
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pmccoy pmccoy is offline
 
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Location: Orange County CA
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Simple and functional. Nice combination for the mission. Looks like you will have fun flying this one!
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RV9A N35PM S/N:91335
First Flight: April 2013
Hobbs: 400 hours after Oshkosh 2017
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  #3  
Old 11-14-2012, 02:52 PM
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airguy airguy is offline
 
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Location: Garden City, Tx
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I like the side-mount map lights, that's something I may put in myself. And the center column bears looking at too, that's a clean install.
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Greg Niehues - SEL, IFR, Repairman Cert.
Garden City, TX VAF 2021 dues paid
N16GN flying 900 hrs and counting; IO360, SDS, WWRV200, Dynon HDX, IFD440, G5
Built an off-plan RV9A with too much fuel and too much HP. Should drop dead any minute now.
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  #4  
Old 11-14-2012, 03:16 PM
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Vlad Vlad is offline
 
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I like it Don. Do you have artificial horizon there?
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  #5  
Old 11-14-2012, 03:37 PM
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Don Don is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vlad View Post
I like it Don. Do you have artificial horizon there?
The only thing I'm missing is a bear clock....and I can live without the radiation.
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Don Alexander
Virginia
RV-9A 257SW Purchase Flying - O-320, Dynon D100
RV-9A 702DA (reserved) Finish Kit IOX-340
www.propjock.com
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  #6  
Old 11-14-2012, 03:46 PM
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Don Don is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 696
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airguy View Post
I like the side-mount map lights, that's something I may put in myself. And the center column bears looking at too, that's a clean install.
I'm sure I'll do something similar with the map lights, too - I need to check, I may already have the lights (incidental to another purchase). Regarding the center column, I like it, it's functional but after 3 or 4 hours my right leg has rubbed against it enough that I'm going to get a piece of foam to use for padding, when I need it. It's fine for a couple of hours. I'm 6'1" or a bit more and have long legs, and I'm sure this plays into it. Just something to think about. And FWIW, they did a lot planning on this piece too. There's about a 1/2 flange that follows the curve and it feels like angle, not just .032 sheet. I need to look behind and see what they did and how. It looks real nice. Without the flange, my leg would have been hurting within 15 minutes.
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Don Alexander
Virginia
RV-9A 257SW Purchase Flying - O-320, Dynon D100
RV-9A 702DA (reserved) Finish Kit IOX-340
www.propjock.com
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  #7  
Old 11-14-2012, 04:06 PM
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airguy airguy is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don View Post
I'm sure I'll do something similar with the map lights, too - I need to check, I may already have the lights (incidental to another purchase). Regarding the center column, I like it, it's functional but after 3 or 4 hours my right leg has rubbed against it enough that I'm going to get a piece of foam to use for padding, when I need it. It's fine for a couple of hours. I'm 6'1" or a bit more and have long legs, and I'm sure this plays into it. Just something to think about. And FWIW, they did a lot planning on this piece too. There's about a 1/2 flange that follows the curve and it feels like angle, not just .032 sheet. I need to look behind and see what they did and how. It looks real nice. Without the flange, my leg would have been hurting within 15 minutes.
That's good to know, I tend to do a lot of long legs. In the last month I have made 7 legs in my 172 that were 3:45 or greater. Of course, those legs will be shorter in the 9A, but still...
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Greg Niehues - SEL, IFR, Repairman Cert.
Garden City, TX VAF 2021 dues paid
N16GN flying 900 hrs and counting; IO360, SDS, WWRV200, Dynon HDX, IFD440, G5
Built an off-plan RV9A with too much fuel and too much HP. Should drop dead any minute now.
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  #8  
Old 11-14-2012, 04:14 PM
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ccsmith51 ccsmith51 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don View Post
I may want to rethink my flap switch. This one has stops at neutral and up and is spring loaded down. If you want to raise your flaps, just flip the switch up, there?s no need to hold it up (as the one I?m building is currently set up).
I would caution using a flap switch without a spring loaded up position, without some kind of limiting circuit to stop the motor with the flaps in the up position. I had such a switch and occasionally I would hit the switch for up and forget to return it to center when the flaps were retracted.

Granted, there is a clutch somewhere in the system, but I am not convinced it is designed to operate for any length of time. Not too long ago the motor failed. It was not gummed up with grease on the armature, that was clean. It just bound up and would not turn the actuator.

I bought a new motor and installed a switch with momentary Up and Down contacts and all works well.

My switch is on my panel right in front of me, and I still overlooked it in the up position. Yours is located a bit more out of direct view.

I'm not saying for sure that the motor failed because of it running for some number of minutes at a limit, but it is something to consider...

YMMV.
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Maule M5-180C (Sold)
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  #9  
Old 11-15-2012, 09:25 AM
DavidBurton DavidBurton is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Near Seattle , WA
Posts: 79
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Hi Don,

A preflight check to your DigiTrak should be added to your cockpit duties before take-off.

We have an S-TEC but this is what I remember...

Engage the autopilot and remain still in the aircraft for 10 seconds while it initializes. Then rotate the knob (or tap the buttons) to insure that aileron movement is correct. We then ensure at that point that we can manually override the autopilot using the controls with the S-TEC. Autopilot should be off for take-off and landing.

TRUTRAK is a great company to deal with and their techs will be glad to help you sort out the GPS communication problems.

This is from their set-up manual:

"The check-out procedure to verify that the serial input from the GPS receiver is being properly received and interpreted.

With the aircraft outside of any building, Apply power to the GPS panel-mount receiver and the autopilot. After the GPS receiver acquires its position, the autopilot will begin to flash the ?*? character once per message from the GPS unit showing that valid position data is available. The display will still show HDG followed by the present approximate magnetic heading, with a flashing ?*? character beneath HDG. If no ?*? is displayed even after it is known that the GPS unit has a position fix, the problem must be diagnosed. Possible reasons for such a problem are,
􀂃
Pin 17 on the connector is not wired to a source of RS-232 serial data
􀂃
The GPS receiver?s baud rate disagrees with that selected within the autopilot
􀂃
The GPS receiver?s serial output port has not been properly configured to provide the information."

Good luck,
David
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  #10  
Old 11-15-2012, 06:08 PM
RVgeek RVgeek is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Yakima, WA
Posts: 1
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I just saw that DC bus the other day at Affordable Panels. . It doesn't show up on their web site directly but somebody sent me a link to their EXP busses .PDF. Yours looks just like the top one in the PDF.

Nice, clean! panel you got there.
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