The kids are all away at camp this week. That has significantly slowed the progress on the airplane since technically I don’t want to do any work to the airplane without the boy here. This is a father and son project.
But there are some things that I can do. For one, I can spend time learning how to do things I don’t have any experience with. Like doing aircraft wiring. I can also read manuals, organize the shop, watch instructional videos, figure out tools that I should be buying, make trips to the supply stores to get needed materials for next week, etc. All of those things have been in process.
One of the first things I knocked out was to register the ELT that we installed last work session. It may seem premature, but since I fly with Civil Air Patrol, my worst case scenario is that CAP shows up at my door asking me, a CAP pilot, to please turn off my ELT. I’d never hear the end of it. And since most ELT missions involve someone who removes and ELT from an airplane and has it on the bench, accidentally triggered, I figured I better get mine registered ASAP. That way, I get a phone call first from the Air Force before anyone is dispatched. I can then just reply that yes I’m fine and I’ll go turn it off instead of meeting my CAP brethren on a SAR mission. It took longer to get the picture taken than it did to register.
Then I noted that Crystal was here working. She is staying with her dad and coming to work each day. Since he was busy working, I thought he might enjoy me entertaining her for a bit so I asked her if she’d like to do arts and crafts? Sure!
We set about making a panel mockup out of some cardboard I had on hand for just such a project, and some cutouts I already had printed. I added a few more things for items such as the transponder and the COM radio, the cigarette lighter plug and the ELT. After a bit of playing Tetris with the cutouts, and looking over the restrictions of existing cross members, we came up with what you see above. Some of this is drawn on and didn’t show up very well, and we need to order in some circuit breakers and switches to get actual sizes of those, but this is our rough approximation and it works fairly well. On the left will be the master switch, avionics master, ignition one and two, lights, and starter button. On the right blank space will be the circuit breakers.
The gap on the left, where there is no actual panel and just the exposed cross brace truss, will be a MyGoFlight mount holding an XNaut iPad holder. This will be right in front of the pilot which is fine because my iPad is primary for me anyway. If I need the visibility that the reduced panel size gives me, then I can easily remove or move the iPad in seconds. I wouldn’t need the iPad if I’m putting down in a small field (when I need the extra visibility) anyway so it is the best of both worlds. I hope.
With the panel mocked up, it was time to place the order for my avionics package. After looking at all the choices, I chose the Grand Rapids Technology Sport EX EFIS. When I started on this project, I was convinced that I’d get the Dynon because I’d heard so much about it. But each time I stopped by their booth I couldn’t get anyone to help me. This is over about 4-5 attempts. Sometimes they were simply busy, but once even when I did talk to someone his answer was basically “go read our manual and you’ll figure it out.”
My friend Scott had recommended I look at GRT so I stopped by their booth. They were swamped as well but once I got to a rep, he answered all my questions and wrote up a system that he recommended for me, including suggested products from other manufacturers to fill in the gaps. I did a few months of off and on again research trying to see if I liked a system better than what he suggested, and I did not. So now the avionics are ordered. I have the EX coming, with the remote magnometer and the autopilot package. They have a WAAS GPS/ADS B all in one solution that I ordered as well. My friend Ron at Sparkchasers has some take off Garmin 327s I am going to look at next week for a transponder. Then all I will need is a COM radio and intercom and my avionics purchases are done. I’m seeing Garmin SL40s on ebay but I’m holding out hope, foolishly, for a SL30. I don’t know why because why would I ever shoot an ILS in a SuperSTOL?
The next day, Crystal and I spent a few hours working on the template for the rear windows. These are where the turtle deck would have been, but I cut the turtle deck up to make a door.
But that is ok, I wanted glass instead of weight anyway. Plus I don’t plan on folding the wings on this airplane very often so I’d rather have visibility rather than ease of removal of the turtle deck.
Crystal and I set about making the templates for the window, using the box that the metal that I ordered came in. Waste not, want not.
The idea for this template is to have a ring or frame around the lexan to help keep it from cracking. Lexan still cracks eventually but maybe I’ll get a few years out of it instead of a year. We finished the outside dimensions of the template. Now we need to test fit to the other side and see if we need two templates or if one will fit both sides. Then we’ll mark the inside dimensions and cut this out into a frame. Once that is done and we are satisfied it is perfect, we’ll use the template to mark the .020 aluminum and then cut out the final piece.
But those steps will involve the boys, who will be home tomorrow. Both Spork and Cody will be here and it will be full speed ahead on building the airplane. If Crystal is here, maybe she can help too. But with the girls back, I think they’ll be playing instead.