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Building the Instrument Panel



 26 October 2012: Hurricane Sandy is roaring outside! Not a direct hit but close enough for lots of wind and rain. I hunker in my room and try to finalize the panel layout. My previous drawing was just conceptual. This time I measured everything. The top edge is still only an approximation and I may have to make adjustments for that. Dynon D100 EFIS and D120 EMS; Garmin 396 GPS, Icom  IC-A210 Comm, and a Garmin 327 Transponder in the avionics stack; While the Icom has a internal intercom I decided to add a Flightcom 403 external intercom.




I've ganged the breakers together with their bus bars. Standard breakers for both the main and avionics bus and breaker/switches wired to the main bus for  the lights and cabin heater.





 28 October 2012: I've done a bit of tweaking from the drawing. Somehow I drew a wider panel. Moving things a little here and a little there managed to fit everything in. The paper template is for the intercom. Knobs, screws, and the switch extend through holes drilled in the panel. It's a little worrisome getting things right.




I'm proud to say that, this time, I got it right.





The rest of the day I drilled holes for switches and breakers. I started by marking each location with a punch. Then I drilled pilot holes and enlarged them with a step drill.





9 November 2012: Work on the kit has been sporadic. Lots of demands on my time from my teaching jobs.



I attempt to make the cutout for the ELT remote with a OLFA P-800 cutter. While this works well on thin aluminum it doesn't do so well on the thicker kitfox panel. With the other cutouts I'm going to plan B. (Whatever that will be.)





I eventually have the ELT remote in place. I also drilled the hole for the ignition switch.





11 November 2012: Why does it take me more than an hour to cut two holes. First, I'm coming down with the flu and it's slowing me down.


Second, this thing scares the hell out of me. In this photo I'm dry running the process on a piece of scrap. I've clamped it securely to avoid any of the frightening scenarios that haunt me.





The dry run went just fine. Here I'm cutting one of two holes in the panel.





The holes are for the the cabin vents. It's hard to tell but the vents are trial fitted in the second photo.





Plan B: I decided to make the large cutouts by cutting short of the line with Dremel and a cutoff wheel. I then carefully filed to the lines. I clamped steel rulers along the lines in case the Dremel gets away from me. The cutout for the radio stack is done.




 12 November 2012: I'm a little obsessed about accurately mounting the avionics rack angles. My inelegant solution was to start by taking the radio mounting bracket and place it between the blade and the fence of my table saw. (I left it unplugged to avoid disaster.) I adjusted the fence until one side of the bracket touched the blade and the other side touched the fence. After removing the bracket and plugging in the saw I cut two blocks of wood whose length exactly matched the width of the bracket. I then filed the vertical edges of the avionics cutout until the blocks fit snugly into it. In the photo I've laid the angles in place. In my next session I'll securely clamp them in place using the blocks to hold them in exact position while I drill the mounting holes.




 17 November 2012: Securely clamped! The angles have been pre-drilled and will guide the drill through the panel.





I drilled and clecoed the corner holes. The rest were drilled without the clamps since the clecos were enough to hold the angles in place.





Next, I turned my attention to the backup gauges. Airspeed and altimeter. The template from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty was worth the money.





The airspeed indicator is shoved in place. I'll have to cut a slot for the adjustment knob before I can do the same for the altimeter




 21 November 2012: Installing the avionics racks






Comm radio stacked on top of the transponder. The dock for the GPS will fill in the rest.







 23 November 2012: The Airgizmo GPS Panel Dock. I used wood wedges to hold it in place while I marked the screw holes. It will hold the Garmin 396 that we are currently using in our Cessna.






An example of why some things take me so much time. I spent the rest of the afternoon mulling over how to design the braces for the avionics. This is as far as I got. I'll probably come up with my final design in the middle of the night.






 24 November 2012: The braces are finished. I couldn't resist clamping the panel in place to have a look.







 25 November 2012: I cut the hole for the EFIS.






 29 November 2012: The cutouts are done! There's not much left to do.





 1 December 2012: As I did with the avionics rack I cut wood blocks to a precise fit to wedge the EFIS tray in position. In the second photo you can see that I've pre-drilled the rivet holes.




With the blocks in position I drilled and clecoed four holes. After that I removed the blocks and drilled the rest.





Finally! I'm at the point where I can mount the panel in the fuselage. That will happen tomorrow. After that, I take it out and, after riveting the trays and racks in place, store the panel in a safe place until I'm ready to install it permanently. Then comes the daunting task of wiring.







 2 December 2012: Support tubes. I managed to install one but not the other due to my drilling a hole in the wrong place. I'll have to get more tubing.





 3 December 2012: After a trip to the hardware store the second support tube is in place





The panel is mounted. In this photo you can see the shock mountings. From here I'll mount the brackets for installing the glare shield. When that is done I'll remove the panel, countersink and drive the rivets, and put it in a safe place until permanent mounting. The weather is dry and cool and I'm ready to start painting.




 6 December 2012: Fabricating the brackets for the glare shield.





 7 December 2012: The completed panel. Of course it has to be painted and wired. I'll leave it like this for a day then take it apart and put everything safely away. In case you're wondering, below the ELT remote is a potentiometer to control the alarm volume. The shaft is over length and has to be cut.




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