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

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

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

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

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

Fuselage gussets

Today I spent a couple hours putting the forward fuselage gussets in place. They are unique to the -7 vs the -7A. The tri-gear plane rear landing gear are mounted just forward of the center section. Since the -7 is a tail trager, there is a gap here that need to be reinforced using these gussets. They are attached to the sides of the fuselage with 5 bolts that need to be match drilled. The gussets also line up with the bottom wing attach bolts.

I lined everything up and then drilled the holes to #40 and then enlarged for the AN3 bolts. I prepped and primed these and then attached them to the fuselage. The whole interior will be painted with my interior paint, but it’s good to prime all the parts especially mating surfaces.

I also sent a bit of time working on the panel attachment brackets. Since I’m using twin Skyview HDC screens, I need to move the Vans panel supports inboard. This requires making some custom brackets to attach the panel to the sub panel. I received a shipment of L stock from vans that worked perfectly for this.

I decided to wrap up the center section bolts that are used for the tricycle gear. In the tail dragged version the bolts need to be put into the center section.

The bottom bolts were difficult to reach but everything is now in place and torqued.

I also placed the remaining two cover supports on the sides of the fuselage, forward of the center section.

Next up is to wrap up the exhaust hangar modification. And to drill the wing fuel attachment bracket to the sides of the fuselage.

Fuselage gussets

Vertical Power PPS

This weekend I had a few hours to work on the plane. It’s been a couple months since I’ve spent a good chunk of time on it.

I decided to take off the old conventional master and starter contractors. I’ve decided to go with Vertical Power Primary Power System. This is a single unit that replaces the contractors, as well as current shunt and fuses. I’m also using the Vertical Power Pro solid state VPX. These two will work really well together.

Vertical Power PPS

For easiest access I mounted this on the edge of the firewall near the battery as far away from the exhaust as possible. Every bolt and post is accessible. I also crimped on the ring terminals for the alternator and for the starter once I had this mounted.

I also wired up the J1 harness that includes all the inputs for the master switch, battery and alternator current sense and fault indicators. This will all feed into my EFIS and be displayed on the engine monitoring page.

Vertical Power PPS