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Design of the panel has been done mostly during sleepless nights.  I started dreaming about my instrument panel about at the same time I ordered the plans (may be before that).  I looked at instrument panels from various sources (AirVenture convention aircrafts, Zenith Aircraft web site, builders sites, friends' planes, etc).   I also read some good articles in KitPlanes and Custom Planes on panel design.  Then, I started to design my own panel.   Some tools on the internet will help visioning our dream panel.

My first step was to review the objectives for the aircraft. I want a plane qualified to fly night VFR.  This means a few things (in Canada).  If I understand the regulation well (please go to the source and don't use me as a definite reference--I may mis-interpret the regulations), I need the following:

Lighting that enables me to see the instruments, commands and charts

Minimum VFR instruments plus

a directional gyroscope (unless I keep the airport in sight)

a sensitive altimeter

I also want a panel COM radio and a Transponder (I'll be using this aircraft at a controlled airport.

Finally, I don't want the panel to be too crowded and I would like to have a glove box

Summary of requirements:

Accommodate the 6 flight instruments

Two axis of trim tab indicators

Instrument and panel lighting

Panel mounted Radio and Transponder

Glove Box

Dual Throttle, single pilot side mixture, carb heat and choke

Cool and hot cabin air controls

Simple fuel management system

Modular panel (allow disassembly)

Step 1: Look around

pflcockpit.jpg (26471 bytes) pprjgm8.jpg (33816 bytes) Dcp01025.jpg (85584 bytes) Dcp00791.jpg (122296 bytes) Dcp00883.jpg (129141 bytes) Dcp00270.jpg (106933 bytes) Dcp01086.jpg (65947 bytes) Dcp01066.jpg (68137 bytes) Dcp01081.jpg (65114 bytes) Dcp01077.jpg (56560 bytes)

And my favorite one!

Dcp01087.jpg (51328 bytes)

Step 2: Dream on

A good tool to help dreaming is available right here on the internet.  Experimental Panel Builder is provided as a free service at http://sonexlinks.com/panelbuilder/.  This is really a fun and great program!  Here are some of the panels I've been dreaming about:

paneldream2.JPG (16774 bytes) paneldream1.JPG (19882 bytes) paneldream3.JPG (19939 bytes) 

... and more seriously:

At this stage, I am not sure how things exactly fit in the available space.  Experimental Panel Builder's instruments and avionics are not exactly at scale and I need to draw this either on paper or on a CAD program to know more.

Step 3: Draw the panel

I am using a drawing software to draw the layout of the panel and then, the instruments.  These are some of the iterations I went through. 

paneldraw1.JPG (40322 bytes) OCT16-2001.JPG (49723 bytes) pnl NOV 22-01.JPG (42318 bytes)

Dec27-1.JPG (28673 bytes) Dec27-2.JPG (28866 bytes)

DEC30-2001-1.JPG (38082 bytes) DEC30-2001-2.JPG (39978 bytes) DEC30-2001-3.JPG (36475 bytes) DEC30-2001-4.JPG (38585 bytes)

One of my friends advised me to add cross-marks in each corner of a rectangular cut-out to ease drilling at exact location when making the cut-out.  Of course, I add cross-marks at the center of every instrument, knob and switch holes.

Revisit steps 2 and 3 until satisfied

In all, I drew 23 draft versions of my instrument panel.  Hopefully, I will finish this soon!


 

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