Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A good weekend of progress

I don't think I could ever spend enough time in the garage but this weekend was a good one.  Being a long weekend I think I got at least 30 hours of time in the garage from Friday afternoon until last night.  Amy was off doing stuff with the kids and I had no other plans so I knocked out a bunch of little tasks.  I am pretty much done with the wiring I can do for now.  My avionics are suppose to arrive late this week and then I will have lots more to do but for now about the only thing I can do is install the tail strobe and elevator trim motor.  However, since it is suppose to be in the upper 70's to 80's this weekend I have changed gears again and started prepping for the canopy work.  I'm nervous and excited about completing another major mile stone.

I managed to get the co-pilot stick installed and wired up to the rest of the system.  The co-pilot stick has all the functions of the pilot stick but is removable hence the DB-9 connection point I have tie-wrapped to the stick.  The stick does have a very slight amount of play in it that I am going to have to address.

I finally got around to fabricating and installing the copper bars that connect the Master relay with the Starter relay and ANL fuse and then from the ANL fuse to the shunt above it.  As you can see in this picture the shunt was just installed yesterday as well.  The shunt will allow me to see how many amps my alternator is putting out in total.  The VPX will show me how many amps it is pushing but that does not include the battery bus which bypasses the VPX.   The copper bars took a bit of time to fabricate because its actually two pieces of copper per connection and they had to be twisted and adjusted to make the bends.  After fitting I then covered the exposed parts of the bar with black heat-shrink to hopefully prevent any inadvertent shorts.

I was able to finish up the pig-tail that connects the flap switch and the aux fuel pump switch that are installed in the center console.  The console needs to be removable so I used a DB-9 connector to create the wire separation point.  You can see the connection point on the center console in the following picture.

Here is the pig-tail installed in the center console.  In this picture we are actually looking up at the bottom of the center console.  

And finally in this picture I have highlighted the connection point from behind the panel.  Here we are actually looking from forward to aft  (the removable instrument panels are not installed)

As I mentioned above its time to start working the canopy again so I was able to measure and drill the rail that the aft part of the canopy runs down as you slide it back.  With that in place I can begin work on the plexiglass itself.  I also spent an hour or two doing some final tweaks to the canopy frame to make sure its right where I want it.  I have about 30 minutes more of work before I will call it good enough.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Weekend Update...and more to come

I have a few pictures for this week and probably a few more before the long memorial day weekend is over.  I have been busy with the wiring of the plane and it seems like a pretty daunting task but one wire at a time seems to work.  As the temps warm up around here I am spending a lot of my free computer time researching and studying the process of cutting and installing the canopy.  I am quite nervous about this aspect of the project because of the high failure rate among other builders.  I have heard it said that its almost a right of passage to crack your first canopy and spend over a $1000 to buy a new one.  Harry even suggested (in jest I hope) that I should just order a new one now.  :-)  Anyway I hope that does not come to pass.

One more exciting piece of news, my avionics have shipped!  I should have them by the end of the week.  I am really looking forward to getting them installed since that's the last major task required before I button up the forward deck.  The final big riveting job is coming up!

On to the pictures...

Speaking of the canopy, here it is ready for marking and cutting.  Travis came over and helped me bring it back upstairs so I could be ready when the temps come up a bit.

More and more wires every day.  Starting to look like a cob web in there.  Eventually I will tighten down the tie wraps and probably add a few to make it much neater and tighter.

Before picture of the wire mess I was working on Saturday.

I added a home-made ground buss bar to the mid-ship under the seat pan.  This way I only have to run one main ground wire up to the "forest of tabs" for some smaller grounds.

I also wired up the flap motor and the flap position indicator using db9 connectors.

Here is the same flap housing from the right side.
I also got around to installing the db9 connector boards I made a month or two ago.  The top on in the picture is the control stick aggregator.  I routes the various switch outputs on both sticks to the trim controller (VPX).  The bottom one does the same thing for the comm radio inputs.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Garage Sale weekend

Yep, garage sale weekend also means "Darin cleans the garage and moves the airplane stuff to a corner" weekend.  As a result I spent a lot of the past few days cleaning and rearranging which is good because it needed it anyway.  I also had a lot of fun this weekend working on the plane and helping Harry with the annual on his 150.  Jeff had told me a couple of time that the fuselage was his favorite part of the build and I have to agree.  I have been really enjoying my time in the garage...no ribs to flute or clean up...no proseal... and very little time in the plans.

Oh, I also spent some time working on the empennage fairings getting them ready to be riveted to their respective locations.

Part of the switch panel is a ground bar that connects all of the switches to a common ground.  This is my rendition of a ground bar.  The little hump I bent into it will be used to skip one of the switches (the alternator switch).  See the next picture for how it is used.  Notice I soldered the nuts to the bar so that I could make the switches removable.

Here is the back side of the switch panel.  You can see where I have installed the ground bar and also the jumper from the alternator switch to the master switch.  The jumper wiring configuration prevents me from turning off the master without turning off the alternator first which has been known to cause some really bad reactions from the alternator.

Lots of wires starting to grow back here.  This is the back side of the instrument panel

This little guy is the dimmer switch control board.  It will handle up to 4 seperate dimmers at a time.  I will have the interior lights (panel, pilot map, co-pilot map lights) all on different dimmers.

I finally got around to installing my flap switch and my aux fuel pump switch in the center console.  Not sure I am happy with these switches,  they sit nice and function nicely but they are not "tight" in the hole.  Probably going to have to contact Otto about that one.

Just for fun I snapped a picture of Harry buried in the back of his 150 testing the ELT.  :-)

Thursday, May 15, 2014


I picked up my powder coated parts earlier this week and had a chance to start putting things together...I like the color!  I was hoping for a more consistent coverage but all in all I am pretty happy with the work, especially for the engine parts and the brake pedals.  The switch panel and the side panels the jury is still out on.

Rocker arm covers and push-rod tubes for the engine.

Brake pedals, switch panel and side panels.

Brake pedals hung, side panel set in place and switch panel with switches installed.  Getting exciting!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Motivation...no lack of it

The title of this blog post doesn't really do justice to what I am feeling right now.  Here it is the middle of May and I am getting so little time in the garage that its a bit frustrating.  I have been traveling a lot, attending various functions and just not getting the time in the garage that I would like to have.  All good reasons for not working on the airplane, just not enough time in the day to get it all done!  That said last night I went to the monthly EAA 326 chapter meeting and all I can say is WOW!  What an evening.  It was a gorgeous night and several people flew in.  The sky was clear, a full moon was up, and Mount Rainier was truly majestic.  I drove out to the mid runway point on the field and sat and watched as several airplanes departed after the meeting and found even more motivation to get moving along.

Only one picture to show and it doesn't even do justice to what it looked like in real life...

The moon looked so much larger in real life next to Mt Rainier....

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A little glassin' going on...

I found that I was missing a few pieces that I need to finish up some of the wiring that I was doing so after ordering what I need from Stein I moved on to a few smaller tasks that need to get done.  Oh, one thing I did that didn't get photographed is glassing in of the stall warning sensor hole that I cut into the leading edge of the wing long ago.  I decided that a stall warning horn was not the direction I wanted to go considering the new capabilities of AOA (Angle of Attack) instruments.  I still have some sanding and probably filling to do but at least there wont be a hole in the leading edge of the wing any longer.

First I finished up installing the Autopilot roll servo.  Its interesting to note that I have been following a thread on VansAirforce.com about a guy who had his servo arm over rotate and jam the aileron controls.  I am making sure that is not a possibility by installing the mechanical travel limiting bracket you see around the arm.  I haven't torqued these down yet because I still have some controls to install.

I decided long ago that I was going to do two things different.  First I plan on installing my wing tips with hinges instead of rivets or screws.  Second I will eventually install a small bullet camera in the top of the horizontal stabilizer.  I decided now is the time to make the first steps on both of those projects.  Here you can see where I used the hinge technique to install the VS fairing.  Actually the fairing/cap is not in the picture but you can see where I am using the bottom half of the hinge as the connection point to the VS.  The top half of the hinge is sitting on my work bench after having riveted and fiberglassed it to the fairing/cap.  No pictures of that yet.

Finally I moved on to the rudder cap.  Took a lot of cutting, sanding and filing but its getting close to fitting the way I want.  There is a significant gap in the middle that I need to deal with and I think I am just going to put a styrofoam "rib" inside to force the cap to fit correctly.  Then I am going to rivet it in place and probably fiberglass the surface to give it a nice smooth profile.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mini Update

As I mentioned in my last post I was doing a lot of traveling last week and as such not much got done on the airplane.  I have a lot of "activities" coming up that will interrupt my work time as well so unfortunately the next couple of weeks are going to be a little light on progress as well.  However, as long as I am making progress, however slight to use a military term, I am happy.

I started wiring up the different Bus's.  

A top view of the wiring progress.  Starting to look like spaghetti.

As a change of pace I decided to install the Auto-Pilot servo's.  This is the pitch servo installed just aft of the baggage bulkhead.