Cut Panel

Today I cut the panel for the main EFIS screens and the sub modules. I measured and compared to the CAD probably a dozen times, and luckily it all came out straight and even.

The first thing I did was look up how much the blank RV-7 panel costs on -$40. With that knowledge, I began to cut the first sub module hole, the knob panel.

After the knob panel went smoothly I began on the second one, the AP panel. All the modules are the same dimensions, but with the variability in my hand cuts I checked and lined up each element after test fitting.

The process begins by drilling a 1/8” hole in the corners (1/16” radius). Then using a cutoff wheel I cut just inside the lines for the hole. Then I filed the edges to the final size so that each item fit perfectly, but with no catches or tight spots. Then using some scotchbright, I smoothed the edges out so they are soft to the touch.

Here are the four modules sitting in the panel. I need to buy some mk2000-6 nut plates so that I can screw these to the panel.

Next I cut the large hole for the main Dynon HDX displays. It was very satisfying when the display was installed. Many years to get to this point!

Finally I cut the second hole, making sure everything lined up and was square, and then test fit the second display.

One thing I was (and still am) a little concerned about, is the angled ledge on the displays. With the gap below being just less than 2”, I planned to install my toggle switches centered between the display and the bottom of the panel. But with the ledge of the display sticking out a bit, I might bias the switches lower to give myself a little extra room to be comfortable flipping the switches.

Once I finalize the position of the Garmin G5 I’m going to install just to the left of the pilots display, I’ll start drilling the holes for the toggle switches. I placed one just below the screen in order to see how far up and down the switch is when toggled. It should have plenty of clearance from the display.

Cut Panel

Panel Layout

I finished the detailed layout of the panel for the major components. I wanted to get these laid out first since they are symmetrical about the centerline.

Here you can see the cutouts marked for the two main EFISs and the four sub panels in the center. I have left room for an Avidyne (either 540 or 440) in the center, as well as a Garmin G5 on the left of the pilots screen. Given the additional cost of the Avidine however, I will be waiting a little while to purchase that.

Next is to begin cutting the panel!

Panel Layout


I’ve been working over the last several months on the panel layout and design. I’ve gone through a few iterations and I’ve finally settled on a design.

Panel and mock-up

I have a full size rendering of the panel so that I can visualize it as I do the detailed measurements. I have the entire thing measured out in CAD as well for the cutouts. The actual panel currently has a few reference lines marked on it for pilot/copilot centerlines, panel centerline, 1.5” ref line from the top, and finally 1” & 2” ref lines from the bottom.

Next update in a few days will have the complete panel marked and ready for cutting!


More Avionics Wiring

Today I spent a solid chunk of time routing wires. Making wiring harnesses has been one of my the more satisfying parts of the project so far.

Firewall forward

I started by organizing the firewall forward sensor wires. This bundle contains everything from engine temps, to oil and fuel pressure and the ignition harnesses. These are now secured to the engine mount and won’t be able to move.

On the other side of the firewall I’ve secured everything and routed a portion of the harness down the left side of the fuselage in order to route the wires to proper area.

Center tunnel main harness bundle

This is the center section between the pilot and passenger seats. The main harness here is routed up to the vertical power above for all the power distribution. Other parts of this include all the serial connections, and the electric pitch and roll trim motors.

Here’s another look at all the wires and how they’re routed (Ignore the tie wraps and scraps). The harness splits to allow for the left and right lighting wires to route to the correct wing. I’ve isolated all power wires from my radio wires so that there will be no interference.

Serial Hub

This is my serial hub, it had ports for the primary and multifunction flight displays (empty slots) and the five serial avionics. The ADSB, transponder, Vertical Power, GPS and ELT (black box) all communicate via serial. This hub allows all the components to connect to the two main flight displays in parallel for each of the five serial ports. Once I’m down with all the routing of the wires this will be mounted to the sub-panel permanently.

Fuel pump and selector valve

Once I finished with the wiring I wanted to test fit my fuel pump and selector valve. I have custom fuel hoses from TS Flightlines, so I had to modify the brackets to allow the hoses to fit (you can see the cut bracket on the left below the wires). Once I mount the wings, the two fuel hoses will attach to the fuel tanks.

More Avionics Wiring

Ignition Harnesses

Tonight I spent a few hours making my ignition harnesses. My engine uses twin P-Mag ignitions, so I had to make two identical harness.

I started by removing the connectors on the ignitions so I can attach the wires. The connectors use a screw-clamp style connection.

Right ignition

Here you can see the connector attached to the ignition with the wires attached. This is a six pin connector with Ground, ignition kill, power, and RPM out. There are two additional pins that can be shorted in order to change the default timing of the ignition.

Left ignition

The left ignition connector is on the bottom of the ignition and is a bit more challenging to get to, but I managed.

Completed harnesses

Here are the bundles completed. Looking forward to the day I get to start it up!

Ignition Harnesses

Engine Controls Bracket

Yesterday I spent a few hours making the engine controls bracket. The bracket that comes in the kit is flimsy 0.032 aluminum sheet that is bent so it can attach to the bottom of the panel. I knew I wanted to use something different than the stock bracket, so I made one.

Here you can see the completed bracket. It’s made from 1/4” aluminum angle. It’s very hefty. The three holes are for the throttle, prop and mixture control. The two larger holes have relief cuts made on the back of the angle to allow for the nuts to hold the controls onto the bracket.

I then lined the bracket up with the control panel, and drilled matching mounting holes. I then added some nut plates to the panel so that this can easily be mounted flush to the bottom of the panel. Now it just needs some priming and painting and the bracket is done.

Engine Controls Bracket

VPX Wiring #2

Today I continued with my wiring extravaganza. I didn’t get any new pictures, but I started by beeping out the ELT DIN connector. I originally made the harness a few years ago, and forgot to write down the wire designations. I tested the connector and verified with the specs provided with the ELT and then made the DSub15 connector for the serial bus. The ELT just has serial Rx, power and ground.

Here’s the DIN connector that plugs into the ELT. The tail sticking out is to test the Rx signal. It will eventually be tucked away.

VPX J10 & J12

Here are two of the main power connectors from the VPX. I connected these and began to separate out the bundles by where the wires needed to route.

VPX J1, J2, J8

On the other side of the VPX are the two D25 connectors J1 and J2. These are for some lower power items, like flap position sensor and interior lights, as well as the VPX serial connection. The J2 connector is for all the switches. These will go directly to the panel switches, which will be connected to ground on the other side.

Bundled by function and aircraft location

These bundles are such that each group will go to the same general area of the plane. The lighting harness for example is split into two half way down in order to go to the left and right, for each wingtip. Others are for powering the aft components such as the ADSB, transponder, and autopilot servos.

Switch bundle and serial bundle

This side contains the switch bundle, which heads off to the right side of the image from my hand, and the other bundles are for the flap position sensor, and the serial connection.

EMS and other wires

Here’s a wider shot showing the EMS in it’s mounting location. Once the plane is built this area will only be accessible by laying under the panel and accessing it from below.

The last thing I did was to drill the copilot’s control stick for the quick release pin.

This pin allows the copilots stick to be removed in case the passenger wants a more comfortable ride. There will be two wires coming out of here for the copilots PTT for the radio. It will be fitted with a connector in order to make the system removable.

VPX Wiring #2

Fuselage Wiring

Today I did a lot of wire organizing in the forward section of the fuselage, under the panel. All of the cables routed from the aft fuselage and under the seats funnels into the center section and routes on the floor up to the panel.

Once I organized the rats nest of wires I ended up with two nice bundles. These include the two trim motors, flap motor, ADSB, transponder, ELT, and ADHARS unit. These will be wired to the different serial and power connectors under the panel.

On the right side of the fuse I’ve separated out the radio antenna wire so that I reduce interference as much as possible. This will be behind there side panel from my interior, so it won’t be seen. The RG400 coax wire has a minimum bend radius of 1in, which I am well above in all these bends.

On the left side of the fuse I’ve bundled my two autopilot harnesses. These are separated out from the power wires and autopilot disconnect which will route directly to the pilots stick. The Dynon autopilot harnesses are the standard SkyView Net 9 conductor harnesses except for power. So the only wires needed are the paired data wires.

Here are the Dsub15 connectors for the GPS, ADSB, and Transponder. The red wire for the ADSB and Transponder are left off the connector in order to connect to the VPX. The GPS is powered by the SkyView screens, so it’s fully pinned into the connector.

There are 5 components that use serial connections. In order to connect all the serial to both the PFD and MFD screens, I made a serial bus board that has 7 connections. These are all hooked up in parallel on each pin. When I connect all the connections to the board, each screen will be hooked up to each component properly. I’ve done the pins so that each Rx and Tx from the screens are assigned properly.

Fuselage Wiring

VPX Installation

Yesterday I spent most of the day at the hangar cleaning up and working on the installation of the VPX mounting brackets.


I started with the rough position of the mounting brackets under the sub panel ribs. This will be the final position of the VPX under the panel.

Each corner needed a nut plate installed, so I match drilled the brackets to the ribs, and then lined up the nuplates and clamped them in place.

I then drilled all the nut plates, deburred, dimpled, and riveted the nut plates to the sub panel ribs.

Here’s the close up of one of the nut plates riveted in place with the angle bracket loosely held in place with a mounting screw.

During the day, a friend of mine visited the hangar to check out the project. He took this awesome picture, thanks for hanging out (and helping) Andrew!

It was fun to chat about the project, and airplanes in general. I always enjoy sharing my love for aviation with other people.

Later in the day, I received a nice shipment from Dynon! My autopilot panel, and my comm radio were delivered! These are some of the final components in my avionics package. The remaining component is the second HDX screen.

AP panel

These buttons are very satisfying to push! I’m looking forward to installing this in the plane soon!

VPX Installation

EMS wiring

This weekend I spent time working on the main EMS wiring harness. It includes everything for engine monitoring including oil pressure, temperature, fuel flow, fuel pressure, manifold pressure, rpm, etc. It’s quiet extensive.

I started by reviewing my wiring diagram that I made, and reviewed the pin out of the EMS D37 connector.

EMS box and connectors

I then opened up the main harness that is included in the skyview EMS in order to identify every pin.

Top half of the connector

I used my multimeter to check each wire and then I used that to label each one according to the function.

EMS temporarily installed

Here’s the EMS and the main harness (silver) plugged in. As you can see in this picture, the wires are labeled and then separated out into the appropriate pairings (e.g. oil pressure power, ground and signal). Then I began to wire the engine sensors and measure the wiring runs.

Firewall pass-through for main harness

Here you can see the main EMS harness come through for all the firewall forward components. Mounted to the top of the firewall is the sensor manifold, which includes oil pressure, fuel pressure, and manifold pressure.

Sensor manifold closeup

Here’s the oil and fuel pressure sensors mounted to the firewall. These are wired into the main harness and share their 5v source on the same pin (pin18) of the EMS. It’s a common source for low power components and is shared between several other sensors.

Oil temperature sensor

Here’s a close up of the oil temp sensor wired to the harness.

Manifold pressure sensor

Here’s the manifold pressure sensor. It has a tube that’s connected to a T in order to share a manifold pressure source with the ignition system. E-Mag ignitions also need to know the pressure of the intake in order to adjust timing of the spark.

Continuing the work is a bit slow, but it’s getting there. Lots left to do.

EMS wiring