Veneering the Panel
Sealing the Panel
EFIS Tray Install
Back-Lighting the Panel
Installing Avionics Trays
Throttle Quadrant

Installed the Avionics
Firewall Forward

Avionics (Panel)


 Description of Task   Hours
2/22/08 Placed my order for the wiring harnesses and trays for my intercom, GPS/Com/Nav, Com2, transponder and autopilot from Tony at Stark Avionics.  My final decision is now set:
  • PS Engineering 8000B
  • Garmin GNS-430W
  • Garmin SL40
  • Garmin GTX-330
  • TruTrak VSGV
2/26/08 Ordered the EFIS wiring harness for the Advanced Flight Systems EF3500 from Tricia at AFS.
2/27/08 Mike Behnke has been gracious enough to lay out my panel design in TurboCad and has put up with my many, many...., many design modifications.  Here is an "almost final" design.

3/2/08 One thing I have learned in this project is to never say "final" until the thing is flying.  However, today Mike and I collaborated on a "very close to final" version.  All we need to do is switch some switches around.

I also received my EFIS main wiring harness and OAT probe from AFS.


3/10/08 Today I received my switch guards I ordered from Eric at Perihelion Design.

3/12/08 I received my avionics trays today from Tony at Stark Avionics.  I wanted the trays early so I could get the exact measurements for the panel cut-out.

The goal is to get the exact measurements...


4/26/08 Ok, here is the absolute final version... Sorry for the poor resolution.  I sent the file to Jim Wright for setup on his water-jet CNC cutting machine.  He will be cutting the panel out of .080" aluminum.

I am also sending off the CAD drawing for the switch panels to Aircraft Engravers.  They will cut and engrave the panels for my rear lighting.

5/22/08 Today I received my switch labels from Wayne at Aircraft Engravers and they look great!  I also expect to be receiving my laser-cut panel from Jim by early next week.  I will then overlay the panel with the chestnut burl veneer, shoot it with about 5-6 coats of clear urethane and then start installing the switches and other components
6/18/08 Tonight I picked up my panel which was cut and shipped by Jim Wright.  It is absolutely beautiful.
6/20/08 Deburred the panel and test-fit some switches and was pleased at the fit.

6/21/08 I had to enlarge the holes for the vents with my Dremel tool.  I then worked on the avionics trays mounting.  I purchased some "U-track" from a woodworking supply house and will make my own adjustable tray mount.  I cut the track to length and drilled it for attachment to the panel.  I then fabricated the "floating" nuts out of .125" angle and tapped them for 6-32 screws.

Next, I fabricated the F-793 angles that support the panel outside the air vents.  I then riveted the platenuts and finally riveted the angles to the fuselage.


6/28/08 Today I cut out the subpanel for the avionics trays.  I temporarily installed the panel blank and used a speed square and a short ruler to extend the lines from the panel opening to where the trays would hit the subpanel.  After marking the lines I used my Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel to cut out the section.  I then bent a 1/2" flange on the bottom for the trays to ride on.  After cleaning up the cut edges I have a nice and tight opening.

I finally received the SS 6-32x1" screws I needed to mount the avionics trays to the panel.

Veneering the Panel

Tonight I veneered the panel.  Several months ago I found a couple of nice pieces of Chestnut burl from Certainly Wood.  These folks have the best selection of exotic wood veneers and often have some rare species like the Chestnut burl.  I was not able to get the veneer in a wide enough piece to avoid having to splice it.  I used contact cement on the panel as an adhesive and realized on the first attempt that I didn't have enough adhesive to hold the burl flat.  After totally cleaning the panel I re-applied the cement and let it cure for 45 minutes.  I then adhered the veneer using several straight wires to hold the veneer off the panel until I had it placed correctly.

When veneering any burls you will have a high amount of "billowing" where the veneer expands and contracts with the contact cement.  This is normal but requires quite a bit of patience to get the veneer to lay flat to the bonding surface. 

After getting the veneer bonded and reasonably "flat" on the panel, I placed the entire panel in a vacuum press and set it to cure.


6/29/08 I removed the panel from the vacuum press and carefully routed out all the switch holes. 

  Sealing the Panel  
7/3/08 I took today off work in order to get started sealing the panel.  I am coating the veneer with a high-quality water-based urethane sealer.  The goal is to spray the panel, let dry (1.5-2.0 hours), then sand between each coat with 400 grit sandpaper.  Here it is after the second coat.

I am using a $50 HVLP spray gun I picked up at Harbor Freight.  It does a really nice job.


7/4/08 Here is the panel after 7 coats.

EFIS Tray Install

While I was letting each coat dry, I went ahead and worked on fitting and trimming the EFIS panel installation trays.  The AFS 4500 EFIS display units I am using are designed to slide into the panel from the front.  These trays will help attach and stabilize the units.  The issue with my panel is the 0.5" flange around each tray interferes with several surrounding components and requires trimming in order to make it work.  Here you can see how much I had to trim.

Also, because I have already veneered my panel, I decided to epoxy the trays to the back of the panel (as opposed to riveting).  I verified this technique with Rob Hickman at AFS who agreed the T-88 epoxy would be more than sufficiently strong.

I also worked on wiring which is detailed here.

7/13/08 Today I installed the switch labels, switch guards and placards as well as the switches and circuit breakers.  I also installed my annunciator lights.

The slots I had cut in the panel for the rear lighting had the adhesive from the placards showing and with my luck, a bunch of bugs will get stuck here and block the light.  So, I filled the slots with E6000 clear epoxy.

With everything else installed I epoxied the EFIS trays to the back of the panel.



  Back-Lighting the Panel
7/21/08 I spent some time fabricating some polycarbonate "C" track that I ordered from McMaster-Carr.  The track is just wide enough for the LED strip lights to nest for the placard lighting.  After getting the length right, I sprayed the exterior of the tracks black in order to block the light from escaping.  Then I cut the light strips to the appropriate length and soldered wiring leads to them as well as connected them together in parallel.  After adding heat shrink, I epoxied the light strips inside the tracks using E-6000.

After the glue dried, I placed the tracks behind the placards and marked their proper positions.  I then epoxied strips of "hook" side of some Velcro tape in strategic locations for attachment.


7/22/08 Tonight I installed the LED lighting strips to the rear of the panel and secured with the "loop" side of the Velcro tape and powered the lights to test.  Perfect.

Here is the panel with the back-lit placard.  It looks really great in the dark...trust me.  My only concern is the light intensity may bee too bright.  If so, I will add a diode to reduce the voltage.

I bought some nice DPDT indicator lamps from another RV builder and used various color lenses based on the light purpose.  I printed the switch labels on clear Avery mailing labels.  I applied the labels to the annunciator lights.  I will wire them so by pushing the individual lamp I can "test" them.  This should not be a real issue since they are LED lamps.



  Avionics Tray Install
7/25/08 Today I installed the avionics trays for my panel.  I fabricated a mounting system using the "C" track I got from a woodworking store.  It would have been a LOT easier to have simply mounted the trays using a couple of pieces of angle but this system will allow greater flexibility should I ever change out avionics.

Next, I mounted the panel to the plane.  Because the hole in the subpanel was a little large at the top, I fabricated some brackets from .075x.075 angle and mounted them in such a way that they snugly hold the trays.  Here you can see the wires from the PMA8000B intercom.

The trays were finally adjusted to be flush with the panel face.

Throttle Quadrant Installation

I had to devise a way to mount the quadrant to the panel.  I used the idea from Bill Repucci and make the mount using .075x.075 AL angle.  Because the quadrant will sit just below the flaps switch, I have to lower it to avoid interference.  I will need to design and make a cover for the attachment angles.



8/03/08 I cut two pieces of angle and riveted to the subpanel for support.  I then fabricated a length of angle and braced the entire structure to the center rib.  The pictures are a little hard to make out but it is plenty solid.

I am really pleased to have this done.  I also installed the ELT remote module on the far right side of the panel.  I went ahead and removed the fuel selector valve and painted the cover plate.  I still need to install the final fuel line from the selector to the firewall as well as the purge return line.



8/15/08 Today I fabricated the subpanel pieces out of AL angle.  There will be three pieces with the headset jacks on the extreme left and right and a center section which will hold the purge valve knob as well as the power point.  I decided to just drill a hole in the panel on the far right side for the heater knob.




Installed the subpanel pieces for the headset jacks as well as the purge valve and power port.


9/26/08 Installed the TruTrak autopilot roll and pitch servos and safety wired. 

I also installed the AFS magnetometer and the 7.5aH auxiliary battery.


2/7/09 Installed my avionics.

I also fabricated a tray for the GPS antennas.  Here you can see the antennas for the GNS430W, the AFS backup GPS, the APRS GPS and the XM Satellite Radio antenna.



Total Hours Panel


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