Riveted Subpanel

This weekend I spent a few hours working on finishing up the canopy frame and sub panel riveting. I focused on riveting the subpanel completely to the fuselage to make sure that when I do final fittings of the canopy frame, everything is rock solid.

Here’s the left side attach of the sub panel to the fuselage. There are six more revets below this also attaching the sub panel to the fuse.

Here’s the forward part of the subpanel attached to the supporting rib. This is mirrored on the right side.

Here is the backside of the subpanel. Opposite of the first image. You can see some of the lower rivets near the fuel vent line on the bottom part of the image.

The sensor manifold on the firewall is now permanently attached as it is bolted to the supporting rib on the other side of the firewall. Now that it’s riveted in place this can remain attached.

Riveted Subpanel

Canopy Bracing & Panel Lighting

Tonight I spent a few hours finishing the canopy bracing.

Here are the rivets on the underside of the canopy skin. The bottom are pulled rivets and the top ones are solid rivets.

The center brace.

Here’s the right side brace. One rivet will need to be redone as the bucking bar slipped.

The entire frame will get painted with my interior paint, a dark gunmetal gray.

I wrapped up the night by testing out my panel lights.

I’m using a high density led strip that has a silicone diffuser. They are very bright, but will be wired to a dimmer switch on the panel for fine adjustment. I may switch to a more blue light for better night vision. I’ll be adding these strips to other parts of the interior to aid in visibility during night operations, the baggage area in particular.

Canopy Bracing & Panel Lighting

Canopy Frame & Engine Controls

This weekend I spent almost 20 hours working on the plane.

I started by rigging the mixture, throttle, and prop cables to the engine.

Here’s the mixture bell crank. The mixture cable is attached to the right side. I got it all adjusted so that the knob reaches the stops as the servo side hits the mixture stops.

I then spent a couple hours test fitting and adjusting the prop cable. Similarly, I needed to adjust it several times so that the stops were reached without any issues.

Here is a top down view looking at the cable attached to the prop arm. The bolt will need to be adjusted, it fully clears the mechanism, but it’s still too close for comfort. I’ll add another washer under the bolt head to increase the clearance.

The throttle cable was a lot easier, the alignment was almost spot on. I’ll need to do some slight adjustments on the servo arm.

Final adjustments to all this will be after the first engine start. But for now, everything is set from the factory.

Here’s the panel test fit and the cable bracket clamped to the panel temporary.

I then spent about 5 hours riveting the canopy frame and skin together.

Here’s the top of the canopy skin. The missing rivets are for the frame bracing. I will rivet the sub panel and lock-in the forward section of the fuselage before final riveting the braces, just to make sure it’s all perfectly aligned.

Here’s the bracing from the inside, the bottom rivets are riveted, but the top ones will be later.

Here’s the panel installed so that I can test fit the frame. I might need to make a slight adjustment where the G5 is installed on the far left. It might slightly interfere with the craniotomy frame tube that runs the length from left to right along the top of the panel.

Canopy Frame & Engine Controls

Garmin G5 Pitot/Static Tubes

Today I spent a few hours working on getting the pitot and static lines up to the panel for the Garmin G5. The G5 will act as a backup EFIS to the Dynon.

I had to route the static line from the aft static ports to the front of the plane.

The tube here runs parallel to the rudder cable along the side of the fuselage.

It’s secured with a zip tie and this will be behind a panel that also covers the flap actuator tube.

I had to drill two holes through the bulkheads. This is blind riveted and I didn’t want to drill it off. The alignment took some trial and error.

Here is the routing just next to the pilots seat, this will be behind the side panel.

The final two holes put through the center channel bulkheads. From here, the static tube is routed up and to the panel and to the G5. Also on the panel will be a toggle switch an alternate static source in case of a static port failure.

Garmin G5 Pitot/Static Tubes

More panel work

Today I spent most of the day working on different parts of the panel.

I cut the slot for the hour meter, and a double USB panel mount. These will be for updating both Dynon EFIS displays. Below the USBs will be the cabin heat control knob.

I also received my Garmin G5 that will act as my backup attitude indicator. I also added color caps to all the switches.

I also installed the headphones and microphone jacks. Here are the pilots side.

And co pilots side.

The panel is coming together. A more items to place and cut, and then the panel will be complete!

More panel work

Switches

Today I worked on the switches for the panel. I have 6 switches dedicated to the primary power and engine ignition.

Here the top left is the master switch, and below is the L PMag ignition power and test switches. The PMag ignitions have a built-in generator that kicks in above 800 RPM. The test switch allows you to ensure the ignition will continue running when power is removed.

I installed the remaining ignition switches, along with the Alternator enable switch next to the master switch. Then I installed the two switches below the display to ensure they are easy to use and are not inhibited by the angled part of the HDX screen. These are the Avionics and Auto Pilot switches.

Here are all the remaining switches installed. There are five switches under the display for the aircraft lights. This includes landing, taxi, strobe and nav lights, along with interior lighting. The three far right switch are the fuel pump, flaps, and engine start.

The boost pump switch is right up against the flap bracket. I may not use this given the proximity to the switch. It’s all removable, so we’ll see.

I also installed the Dynon dimmer knob, and the dedicated IDENT button. The ident function is useful to have a dedicated button for so I don’t have to navigate the display menus. Similarly with the dimmer. Even though the system has light detection and auto adjusts the brightness, I like to have finer control.

The engine start button is a very high quality push button. It’s extremely satisfying to press. Can’t wait to fire up the engine with this!

Switches

Panel work

Yesterday I spent a few hours working on the panel. I received an order of some 6-32 nut plates for mounting the sub modules onto the panel.

I started by doublechecking the measurements for the through-holes, and then drilled the panel. I didn’t get individual photos, but here is the back once the nut plates were riveted on.

After double checking the alignment of everything individually I test fit all the components.

I then decided to mount the primary display tray to the back of the panel.

The panel then screws into this from the front of the panel. This will allow for some additional components to be mounted easily behind the panel.

I checked the fit by temporarily installing the panel in the plane. Plenty of room all around.

Starting to look almost like a real plane!

Next I’ll begin marking and drilling the switches and some additional components including the Hobbs meter, ELT tester, the Dynon Ident button and dimmer knobs.

Panel work

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 vansaircraft.com -$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

Panel

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!

Panel