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

Heat Muff, Exhaust, and Fuel Tubes

Today I spent a few hours working on the exhaust hangars, heater and the fuel lines.

It’s been on my to-do list for a long long time, but I finally marked and drilled the hole in the firewall for the fuel line.

I then test fitted the fuel line between the pump and firewall fitting. I had to fabricate a new tube in order to fit the position I drilled the hole. In hindsight I should have drilled it about one inch to the left of this, in order to provide more room for the heater scat tubing on the other side, however it should be fine.

The forward tunnel cover will go over this portion of the tubing as well as the wiring harness.

I then worked on the hangars for the exhaust as well as heat muff.

Here you can see the hangars before I installed the heat muff. The left hangar here will need to be modified to account for it.

I didn’t get any pictures during the install, but here is the heater installed with the tubing. I will need to add some support to prevent chaffing of the tubes on the engine mount.

I will also need to add some support for the fuel tubing here to prevent rubbing on the tube. It shouldn’t be too difficult to keep these two separated.

I will need to fabricate a support bar to extend the exhaust mount a bit wider in order to attach the hangar in order to avoid the scat tube.

Heat Muff, Exhaust, and Fuel Tubes

Wing skins

Tonight my buddy Norio and I spent a couple hours prepping and riveting the final lower wing skin.

Here I was checking the alignment of the ribs

After testing the fit, we bag prepping to river the inboard rivets. We started with the lower corner of the rear spar and worked our way across towards the wingtip.

Inboard corner rivet on the rear spar

After riveting the first rivet we checked the shop head with the rivet gauge to calibrate the rivet fun as well as my hand on the bucking bar. We made some adjustments and then we dialed it in.

Rear spar inboard section riveted

Once the rear spar was riveted, we worked our way up the inboard section towards the main spar.

Inboard rib rivets

Some rivets needed to be driven a touch more, but all of these were perfectly set.

We called it a night after finishing these rivets and now that we’re calibrated the rest of the wing should go much faster.

Wing skins

Plane Has a New Home

After three and a half years in the garage. I finally moved the plane to its new home in my hangar!

There was probably a lot more work I could have done before moving it, but there were some circumstances that dictated I needed to move to the airport.

It started by first getting a giant truck with a lift gate. Once I got that to the house I had my friend Mike over to help me out. We removed the canopy and rear window (which I just had sitting on the plane temporarily…need to finish this) and then rolled the plane out into the driveway.

I know it doesn’t look like much, but seeing the plane in the driveway is one of the coolest things.

After doing some measurements and planning over the last couple months, I realized that the wheels were too wide for the lift gate. Luckily Mike had a 4×8 sheet of plywood that we laid on top of the lift gate.

We rolled the plane forward and lined it up. If it wasn’t for the plywood, this would have been a very precarious balancing issue (Thanks Mike!).

We chocked the wheels once we made sure the engine wouldn’t hit the floor of the truck when lifting, and then raised the plane up and pushed it into the truck. My girlfriend Britney did an awesome job holding the whole airplane in the air!

Once the plane was in. we loaded up the rest of the few remaining items and secured everything down. It felt a little nerve wracking having all this in the back of a truck, but it all went off without a hitch.

I managed to drive the truck (slowly) down to the airport in San Martin and we basically did the reverse, and there were no issues. Luckily the rain held off the whole time we were moving.

We rolled the plane in and it felt like a huge accomplishment. I immediately wanted to start mounting the tail and wings and everything on the plane, but the wings will have to wait for another time.

I loosely fit the horizontal and vertical stabilizers using some clamps. This is probably the coolest thing ever (so far)!

All in all, it was a very successful and satisfying day. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Mike and Britney and of course my mom, who brought us all some lunch and helped with the moving of everything! (Garage can now be used for her car again)!

Plane Has a New Home

Engine work

Today I spent a few hours cleaning the shop and installing some fittings on the engine. My goal is to hang the engine next weekend. 

I started by rotating the prop governor and installed the cable bracket. 

I cut the safety wire on the six screws holding the governor so that I could rotate the lever arm. I then installed the cable bracket in white and reinstalled the screws and re-safety wired them. 

I needed to install the oil cooler fittings, but that requires removing the right p-mag. Once off I could easily screw the fitting in. 

This is the fitting installed and with tape over it to keep moisture out. You can see how tight it is to get a wrench on there. 

The other oil fitting is much easier. 

The fitting (with tape over it) is right above the left p-mag and just under the oil breather tube (with the red cap). 

I also installed the fuel pump outlet and fitting for the fuel pressure. 

Fuel will come out the bottom port and go to the fuel servo near the front of the engine. 

I also installed the oil pressure fitting


And the manifold pressure fitting from the number 3 cylinder. 

You can see it here wrapped in tape just above the oil return line. 

I finally installed the fuel overflow fitting to the fuel pump. 

There are a few more things to install, but that can be done after the engine is hung. There are a few more holes I need to drill in the firewall for cables and wires, but that’s no more than an hour of work, and I’m hoping to get it done some time this week. 

Engine work