Friday, June 12, 2020

Wiring harness goes in

Several months ago I created a "to-do" list of tasks I have yet to complete before this thing flies.  I spent a significant portion of my Hawaii trip thinking and documenting this list.  I then put a guestimate of how many hours each item would take to complete.  Then I made an assumption on how many hours a day on average I work on the airplane.  The end result was a timeline that I could use to measure my progress.  Well, let me tell you that no matter how much time I spent trying to figure out what tasks were yet to be complete I missed a few.  On several tasks I grossly over estimated the time required, and on others I grossly underestimated.  This darn wiring hardness has been one of those that I grossly underestimated!  In spades!  I think I budgeted myself about a month to fabricate the harness and then a week to install it.  Yikes, I think I'm on week two of installation and I'm still not done!

Anyway, here is the current status in pictures.

Part of installing the wiring harness is making sure the wires are run to the correct location and in the correct length.  To do that I had to finish the installation of the center console.  While I was doing that I figured I might as well install the throttle quadrant so I know where wires can be run.  In this picture the center console has been cut to allow the quadrant arms to come through.

This is a view inside the center console looking at the location where the throttle quadrant will be mounted.

First picture of the harness as I start hanging it on the sub-panel.

A little further down the road as the instrument panel frame is installed and the VPX, backup buss, acc buss, and engine buss fuse panels are installed.  The ground wires are all plugged in, and the radio stack has all of the backing plates installed except the GNC255 which is still in the 9A.

Pilot side is much cleaner than the other side.  Not as many wires but several more plastic tubes for the pitot static system.

Instrument panel is installed long enough to make sure the wires are properly routed.

The switches I am using have a back-light feature that makes a panel light illumination unnecessary.  This bundle of wires is mostly related to that function but it also includes a few ground wire runs.

And what post would be complete without me showing some of the CNC work that goes along with this process.  In this picture you can see two placards.  The first one on the lower side of the picture is for the flap switch.  Only the engraving is complete on this one.  The CNC itself is working on cutting out the center hole for the start switch.  If you look closely you can see the "Engine Start" engraving that goes around the label.
This is the back side of the instrument panel.  Here you can see the switch wires and their proposed routing.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Wiring Harness part 2 & Panel comes together

The wiring harness is slowly coming together.  All of the wires that will be installed outside of the airplane are in, all connectors that do not have to be run through a bulkhead are installed, and its about ready to be installed.

Some lessons learned for the next time I have to do this.

  • Use 22 awg wire for all shielded applications.  24 awg is a bit small and seems to make fragile connectors and anything larger than 20 awg is just too big for the HD pins.
  • When installing shrink wrap labels make sure they are far enough up the wire that they wont need to be cut to install shield drains.  This is particularly important for wires with the "window" type shield drain like the CAN bus splices.

More wires laid down.  At this point I was thinking I was mostly done....and then the work started.

My flying friend Ben stopped by and took this picture of me working on the connectors.  I started from the bottom of the picture and was working my way up.  The GMA (Audio Panel) connectors were next on the list and by far the most time consuming.  Those connectors had many many wires and almost all of them were shielded wires that had to be grounded to the back-shell of each connector.

Finally all of the avionics connectors are installed and all that is left is the ground wire terminals and the VPX connectors.

I drilled and mounted the center console and that allowed me to finally locate the fuel valve extension handle.

Panel, lower center panel, and the center console installed.  Also in this picture you can see the avionics rack and all but the GNC255 radio tray installed.

Panel inserts are placed in the frame for test fitting.  I think this is going to work well!

Front view of panel with inserts.  Its a little easier to see the engraving in this picture.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Front windshield install

I ran out of some of the wire I needed and it has been really nice out lately so I moved my work efforts back out into the garage.  I've been busy installing the windshield using the Silpruf method along the top and side edges and then using the traditional fiberglass fairing on the front.  I know I've mentioned it in the past but I really like the Silpruf method.  The install looks so darn professional!

I didn't add a bunch of pictures of the process since I have already documented that pretty completely.  Here is a picture of the windshield after the Silpruf install.

It looks like carbon fiber but its not.  This is several layers of regular fiberglass that has been tinted black.  This allows the inside view to be a consistent black trim all around the windshield.  
Right side with fiberglass layers.

After a little epoxy with micro balloons and some sanding... ok, lots of sanding.

Final sanding complete.  Now all I have to do is remove the orange tape and wait for paint day.

I moved the primary voltage regulator from behind the sub panel in the middle bay to this location.  I was looking in this access hole recently and realized I had the perfect location to install the voltage regulator right here.  Easy access for future maintenance.

Friday, May 8, 2020

CNC Panel work

I mentioned a while ago that I had upgraded my CNC a bit and one of the tasks I have been working on in the past week or so has been the design and cut of my instrument panel inserts.  I used carbon fiber on the 9A but since the frame is all carbon fiber I decided to try something new.  The inserts are .064 aluminum and rather than color them with paint or something I decided to try to go with the brushed aluminum look.  The idea is that I "brush" the aluminum to a consistent smooth sheen and then clear coat it for protection.  So far I like the results.

I also decided to try my hand at engraving with the CNC.  Theoretically it should work great but in practice it didn't start out so good as you will see in the pictures below.  Just for future reference the settings I used for the CNC are 6 IPM at .01 depth for the engraving.  The depth number was a bit arbitrary since its really hard to set it exactly.  What I ended up doing was to run the depth at .01 and then run the job a second time after lowering the Z0 setting by an appropriate amount to get the letter width I wanted.

This was my first real attempt at engraving.  As you can see the letters look horrible!  This was done at a speed of about 22 inches per minute.  Most of the literature I have read talks about engraving at much higher speeds so I thought I was being conservative.  After watching my little home built CNC jump and jiggle during this process I decided to slow it down to about 4 inches per minute.

This is what 4"/ minute looked like.  MUUUUCH better.  But notice that the top engraving is not as deep and in fact the lines disappear on the right side.  Well, my CNC was not perfectly flat nor was the aluminum panel held down consistently.  Next I went through a "leveling" process for my CNC bed, and then I paid a bit more attention to how the aluminum was held down to try to keep it consistent.  The next two pictures are the final result.  

Almost perfect (or at least as perfect as I can get it).  There are a couple of defects in this engraving but they were directly related to me missing a step when I changed out the router bit from an engraving bit to the cutting bit.  The process for cutting this type of panel is to first do the engraving, then change the bit and cut the interior cuts (holes and interior openings).  Finally I cut the exterior as the last step.  In this case I forgot to reset the Z axis depth when I changed out the bit and if you look closely at the Mixture hole you will see the result.  The CNC dutifully plunged into the aluminum and went all the way through.  The system is not rigid enough to take this type of torque and as such the X and Y axis' were skewed slightly.  The hole became slightly elongated and then the remaining cuts were just slightly off center from the engraving.  I ended up redoing this one as you can see in the picture below.

Much better. 

This is the one that I was most happy with.  The engraving looks professional and even the color fill process I went through to fill the engraving went well.  I followed up the color fill with a bit of brushing to see what the final look would be.  I'm pretty happy so far but the final verdict will occur after I do some clear coating of the brushed aluminum.

Just because the engraving was going so well I decided to put the pilot side panel back on the CNC and see if I could get the engraving done on it.  I'm very happy with how this came out!  I did add a little enamel color to the cuts but I will likely add a bit more as it doesn't show up as dark as I wanted it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Wiring harness - Part 1

I finished up the tail feather work (mostly the fairings) and started on a few other tasks.  Mostly my time has been spent working on the wiring harness for the avionics.  This is one task I had done by SteinAir on the 9A and was looking forward to on the 10.  I've got waaaay too many hours in design and now the beginning of fabrication but so far I am enjoying the heck out of the project.

I started out by installing a few of the sub-panel parts as well as the VPX Pro and associated fuse panels.

Then I did a little measuring for lengths of wire runs.

A little more measuring..

A few photo's for connector orientation...

Then I took a piece of 1/4" plywood I had laying around and started laying out some wire runs.  I used Velcro loops and tape to get the basic layout.  Then I started with the power wires.  Here you can see most, but not all, power wires being run.

Here we are with most of the red power wires, most of the black ground wires, and a few of the white data runs.  Still no connectors and not even all of the data runs yet.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Tail feathers

Wow, has it really been almost a month?  With this covid thing it feels like time both flies and crawls depending on what I'm doing.  Since I'm still working from home (which means more than normal hours) I feel like I get less time to work on the 10.  Combine that with the annual inspection on the 9 and that leave precious little progress.  Oh well, I'm still making progress and its still a lot of fun!

So this past few weeks have been dedicated to working on the tail. Assembling the horizontal stabilizer, elevators, vertical stabilizer and the rudder and then finishing the fiberglass work that they all have is the theme of the past few weeks.

Drilling the hole that aligns and secures the elevators is critical and one area that is easily messed up.  I know a lot of people end up pulling the elevator back off, welding the hole closed, and then re-drilling.  I had to do that with the 9 because my elevators were not perfectly in sync.  With the 10 I decided to use my 3D printer to print up a perfectly sized block with the appropriate hole in the middle so that I could clamp the elevator horns together while drilling.  This worked out wonderfully!  You can see the 3D printed block with the bolt installed after drilling.

The horizontal stabilizer with the elevators installed.  It looked so cool I had to take a picture.

Drilling the horizontal stabilizer hold down bolts.  This is the bottom side.  You can see the castellated nut I used on the first one to hold it in place while I drilled the second hole (in between the two nuts)

My mask that I use when I go out in public.  In this picture I was in the waiting room as Mariah prepared for her surgery.

Rudder work complete including the fiberglass and the tail light/strobe mount installed.  

Elevators complete and ready for final assembly.  I have them stored above the garage door until its time to take them to the airport.

Horizontal stabilizer end end cap fiberglass complete!

Vertical Stabilizer fiberglass complete.

Right side horizontal stabilizer fiberglass complete.

This is the intersection fairing. These never seem to fit properly without lots of work.  This one wasn't too bad but you can see in this picture the gap that I had to fill/reshape.  

Perspective is odd but this is the front of the intersection fairing looking down.  A small gap here that had to be filled and shaped.
And here it is after a little work.  It fits nicely around the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer as well as the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer.  The gap you see is because I don't have all holes filled with Cleco's.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Firewall titanium barrier

I finally got around to installing the titanium firewall barrier that I have been planning.  It was a bit of a chore for several reasons.

  1. Titanium is hard to drill holes into...especially larger holes.  I ended up drilling smaller holes and then using a metal shaving bit in my Dremel tool to get them sized up properly.
  2. I used spray adhesive to adhere both the 1/8" fiberfrax to the stainless steel firewall and then again to stick the titanium to the fiberfrax.  Worked out well except that when you put the two pieces together...they adjustments.  This caused me to have several slightly misaligned holes.  No big deal but I did have to go back and route the holes in the titanium out a bit to allow the bolts to go through.
  3. Titanium foil is sharp!  No I didn't cut myself ...yet

When all was complete and I had installed most of the firewall mounted components everything looked good.  More importantly in the very unlikely event of a firewall forward fire I will have extra time to get the airplane on the ground before bad things happen.

In addition to the firewall work I also finished trimming up the windshield.  Its now ready to be glued in and then the leading edge fiberglass work completed.

I also spent a ton of time this past couple of weeks working on my wiring diagram.  I've been working on this thing for over two years now but its time to put all the details together into one main drawing.  I think I'm now ready to start fabricating the main avionics wiring harness.

Finally, a while back I had asked Geoff at Aerosport if he would use his nice 3D printer to print up a housing for my autopilot controller.  It came last week so I just had to put it in place to see how it looked.  I may make a few more edits to it before the final install.

One more topic I wanted to record in this blog.  The past few weeks have been rather unusual for me...and probably most of the rest of the world.  We have been dealing with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Right now we have been under an order to remain home except for necessary trips to the grocery store or work if you are in a critical job that can not be done from home.  

Windshield trimmed and ready to be glued in place.

transferred my paper template to the bottom layer of fiberfax for cutting.

I used several pieces of paper all taped together to make a template of my firewall.  I then used this template to mark up both the fiberfrax and the titanium.  It actually worked out pretty good.

Fiberfrax just before it was glued to the firewall

All glued in place except the center recess.  

The final result!  Once the cowling mount flanges are installed I will come back and use the some Firebarrier 2000 to seal up any edges.
Here is a picture of the wiring diagram for this airplane.  Its rather large which makes it hard to see but if you click on the image you will get a better view.  Note that this is only the avionics wiring diagram.  The main power distribution, switches, lighting and assorted smaller systems are not included.

Autopilot controller in the mount that Aerosport printed up for me.  Its not bolted in yet but it fit nicely.