4: Prototype it
My first prototype was done using the
instrument panel bulkhead with some pieces of aluminum to simulate the sub
panels. This was done before finalizing the draft drawings.
I was fairly happy with the design (around my version 7 of the 23 versions
I had), I transferred the drawing on paper. I don't have a plotter,
so I printed out the panel on multiple pages using my Deskjet printer and
I attached the several sheets together.
To accomplish this,
I used a game table that my kids have in the play room and I borrowed one
of our bedroom windows (!). I installed some lights in the play
table under the window so I could match the lines of the panel together.
tested many configurations. While the panel configuration did not
changed a lot, I did move things around a little bit. For instance,
I worked a lot for positioning the vents and the phone jacks. I
decided to go with a 2-1/4" transponder when they will be available
(Becker USA and MicroAir both have such units that should be available...
one year ago).
I moved my fuel gauges to the sub panel. And
while designing the panel, I must admit that I also did a lot of
electrical system design (but it's all in my head now). For
instance, I intend to have a dual battery, single alternator setup as
described in Aeroelectric's Connection book. (oh! this is a great book to
buy, by the way). However, I intend to make the handling of problem
situation simpler. I want to deactivate the battery contactors
and activate the aux feed to the essential bus with one switch (no time
for diagnostic and operating three switches when things go wrong).
other thing that I should have noticed with my prototype, but I guess, I
was blindfolded by my excitement of the layout, is that the shape of the
panel as per plans 3rd edition is wrong. I want to have a forward
tilting canopy and ZAC modified the instrument panel shape, rising each
side about 10 or 15mm. The 4th edition of the plans include that
change but there is one mistake in the coordinates. The second
coordinate from the center line shoudl be spaced 100mm, not 126 mm (the
first is as 126mm from CL and the second 100mm away from the first one).
my case, I realized that only after I formed the actual panel, installed
the stiffeners and tried to figure out how I would position the canopy
5: Finalize the drawing