At the beginning of the year, I took a look at the number of AMU’s just sitting around in the form of items I had collected to upgrade my bought-flying RV-6a.
I decided it was time to start getting some utilization out of some of these.
As I thought I might need a new engine driven fuel pump, and wanted to go from magneto to electronic ignition, it seemed installing the GRT engine monitor would be a good first step, to establish some baseline data on engine performance. So in early February I went about removing the old analog engine gear and installing all the probes and sensors for the GRT EIS. Things went swimmingly firewall forward, in three days time I had everything ready to penetrate the firewall.
I then started looking behind the panel to come up with a plan to route data wires and power the system. What stared back at me was a rat’s nest, twenty two years in the making (some of it my own doing). I realized I would spend way too much time upside down in the airplane (in a bad way, under the panel) to get things functioning. Time to bite the bullet and do what I wanted to anyway: clean up and upgrade the panel and electrical power distribution.
So, having all the equipment decided on already, and mostly in hand, I did my due diligence. I searched the forums for designs and implementations, and went to work getting smart on diodes and wire sizing and switches and data distribution. I came up with a highly plagiarized plan in my head, started drawing on some 11x17 copy paper with a pencil and a ruler and a white eraser to map it out for my particular installation. What evolved would be familiar to many, an electrical system that degrades gracefully and automatically with no required input by the pilot, to a last ditch installed option of an EFIS with built in GPS, and a backup ADI / auto pilot, with 30 minutes of power to get out of the clouds and on deck. Then for a bonus, I included a standalone capability (should ALL the installed wires fry) of a Stratux with AHRS and GPS on battery driving WingX on an iPad.
I also decided go with a little more cockpit comfort: upgrading the seats, removing the center tower, adding minimal carpet, and changing the color scheme.
What’s that? 300 manhours to redo a similar panel? Pffft, you guys are slow! I’ll knock this out lickety-split!
Well, five months later, I got to fly again. Funny how life gets in the way even when you call yourself retired and don’t have anything to do.
Grt Sport SX, Trutrak Gemini, KX-125 NavCom, KT-76a, intercom, analog gauges, original switches, not at all ergonomic.
Grt Sport SX, Trutrak Gemini, GNC-255a, GTX-327. Switches match checklist flow, locking toggles on critical ones (knees have done a number in IMC previously). Breakers changed to fuses on a fold away panel under the switches. Shown on an IFR flight plan, worked like I wanted it.
Still a couple of gremlins to work out after flying it for three months. I need an approach capable GPS (my close-by ILS to SVFR plan failed miserably on the very first IFR flight home!). And, I suppose, I'll have to attack those Sam James wheel pants soon, to squeeze a couple more knots out of the old girl.