[ The Frye RV-7 Project ] Friday, February 21, 2020  


Panel Fantasies

Like so many builders the panel starts to be something to obssess over almost from day one. The panel is where the non-flying aspect of the aircraft's personality comes out, and it has a huge impact on the usability of the aircraft and the missions the aircraft can perform well. VFR or IFR? Day or Day/Night? Steam gauge, or glass? There are so many ways to skin this cat, panel-fantasies can go on forever.

Us folks in the OBAM aircraft world are blessed with many many options not available to the factory-built aircraft crowd. This is a double edged sword, as with options comes the demand for making choices. What I have below is a first-draft of the panel. We'll see if it continues to be the panel-of-choice over the next year or two before I really have to start spending money on a collection of electron-fiddlers.

Here is my latest proposal based on a new Advanced Flight Systems product that has been introduced.

This layout uses the Advanced Flight Systems AF-3500 (i.e. the big screen) and combines everything (EFIS and engine instrumentation) into a single unit. However, I intend to use the new AF-4500 which is roughly an inch larger in both directiosn ... but the ePanel Builder doesn't have the AF-4500 in its list of instruments yet.

Backing the EFIS up are a steam-gauge ASI and altimeter which give me part of the partial panel capability I'd need for IFR flight. I still intend to go with the TrueTrak T&B integrated which would give me the needle/ball remaining part of partial panel needed in case the EFIS dumps its electrons on the floor. I place these in a very convenient place for moving my scan from the EFIS to the backup instruments (and for crosschecking the EFIS too).

In this version I am still showing a Garmin 430 GPS/Nav/Com and a SL-30 as a backup Nav/Com. Much of the final decision will be driven by what devices can drive the AFS box, but everyone says "add the SL-30, you won't regret it".

For switches I intend to have the engine-start pushbutton above the mixture. It will be a guarded switch. This keeps my right hand near the throttle and mixture controls while cranking the engine. The logic here is that at engine start I can flip up the guard, rest my right hand on the engine controls, and use my right thumb to engage the starter. As the engine fires there will no fumbling for engine controls, and my left hand can stay on the stick to keep it positioned where it needs to be positioned (that is to say, all the way back).

Also, to the right of the mixture control will be the purge valve control. It will be within handy reach during all engine operations (during starting and shutdown mainly) but will be out of the way enough that it will NOT likely be accidentally actuated. On the far left-hand side of the cockpit (down by the pilots knee) will be the cabin heat. I wanted it well out of the way so it was not ever confused with another control.

The flap switch will, likewise, near my throttle hand so that "bumping the flaps" in the pattern (or retracting them on a go-around) will be convenient. HOWEVER, it is not in a place (i.e. on the stick) where it might be accidentally bumped during normal flight. I have a friend with his flaps on the stick and he has partially deployed them, at cruise speed, twice. No harm done ... but .... better safe than sorry. :)

The switches have now had some thought put into them. They are grouped in what (seems to me) to be logical groupings. They are as follows :

Brk Master, E-Buss, Aux   Pitot, Ldg, Strobes, Nav, Boost   Flap,   Left Mag, Start, Right Mag

The groupings above match the groupings in the picture. The two black bars indicate "guards" that will break up the span of switches and will make it easy to find the "electrical emergency" switches in the center. Engine controls (except start) are to the left and regular in-flight electrical controls are to the right. The alternator field breaker and flap controls are on the far ends .. with some space between them and the next grouping. (Maybe guards there too, but I'm not sure the'll be needed. A guard is currently drawn on the picture above beside the flap switch.) I have placed a panel dimmer in the left-hand area on the panel above the alternator field breaker.


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