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Old 10-25-2017, 06:23 PM
catmandu's Avatar
catmandu catmandu is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 716
Default Overdue report on an upgrade

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.

Old panel:

Grt Sport SX, Trutrak Gemini, KX-125 NavCom, KT-76a, intercom, analog gauges, original switches, not at all ergonomic.

New panel:

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.
Mike C.
Maryland's Eastern Shore
RV-6A bought flying

Last edited by catmandu : 10-26-2017 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 10-25-2017, 06:38 PM
Jimbot Jimbot is offline
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: FL & NC
Posts: 132

Congrats, Mike, looks very clean and functional. I especially like that gray textured finish.
Jim Hall
2018 VAF Annual Dues Paid

Former President, EAA Chapter 309 - EAA 309

Founder, SUPERBIRD Aircraft & Automotive Cleaning Products, featuring the SUPERBIRD Paint Restoration System
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Old 10-25-2017, 06:48 PM
BobTurner BobTurner is online now
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 5,573

Where did you hide the EIS?
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Old 10-25-2017, 07:10 PM
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Steve Melton Steve Melton is offline
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 1,918

nice work. you have everything you need. I like it.
Steve Melton
Cincinnati, OH
RV-9A, Tip-up, Superior O-320, roller lifters, 160HP, WW 200RV, dual impulse slick mags, oil pressure = 65 psi, EGT = 1300F, flight hours = 700+ for all

Simplicity is the art in design.

see Amanda Melton for
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Old 10-25-2017, 07:31 PM
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catmandu catmandu is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 716

Originally Posted by Jimbot View Post
I especially like that gray textured finish.
M'lady requested elephant skin.

I used the hollowed out structure of the old panel, putting three new fascias on top, since I am worried about not being sure of my final configuration. When I painted the first fascia panel (on the left, with the GRT), I did not pay attention to my rattle can chemistry, and the proposed satin topcoat turned into a textured finish. Luckily, I was able to replicate the error on the other two panels. It actually turned out fairly pleasing.

Originally Posted by BobTurner View Post
Where did you hide the EIS?
The EIS is currently sub-mounted just above the avionics stack. I can remove the center panel fascia as needed to interact with it. The Stratux lives back there as well.

Mike C.
Maryland's Eastern Shore
RV-6A bought flying

Last edited by catmandu : 10-26-2017 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 10-25-2017, 10:05 PM
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humptybump humptybump is offline
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Eastern Shore of Virginia
Posts: 3,095

The new panel looks great and very functional. I had forgotten how "mature" the old panel was
- Glen, ESVA
RV-8 FP IFR | Track my RV-8 | 53VG
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Old 10-26-2017, 08:05 AM
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Snowflake Snowflake is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
Posts: 3,319

Now you just need some Tosten grips to clean up those control sticks, and an upgrade to the overhead-mounted rudder pedals and floor panels to clean up the floor, and, and, and... the cycle begins anew...
Rob Prior
1996 RV-6 "Tweety" C-FRBP (formerly N196RV)
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