The Instrument panel that is supplied in the kit is a very professional looking affair with all the holes pre-cut in order for the end result to be a full IFR panel with special ‘Falco’ engine instruments and all predrilled holes for switches, lights and breakers in the Sequoia proprietary electrical system.
While probably frowned upon as being an outrageous modification, I didn’t want the standard set-up. For my way of thinking.
1 light planes aren’t very good ‘Hard’ IFR platforms.
2 If that is the case, I don’t want all this crap in it to weigh it down and rob me of performance.
3 All this mechanical stuff is old fashioned, heavy, not particularly reliable and expensive.
4 I don’t need a whole bunch of switches and wiring (The built in audio panel) to select audio from one radio. After all, I will only have a GPS for a NAV which doesn’t make any noise (Well not when its working correctly anyhow) And if I change my mind and add a VOR or some other outdated crap I can use the volume control on it. A nice intercom will do fine thanks.
5 DI’s….. Well if I’m not going IFR I doubt I’ll get a lot of Radar headings so what good is heading information? Its TRACK information I’m interested in and I get than on the GPS So… Scrap the DI.. more weight saving.. and if I’m really desperate.. what’s wrong with the compass.. we did learn to use it properly now didn’t we???
6 Ignition keyswitches.. read expensive and overly complex… and A Falco deserves a sexy starter button ……….now where did I leave those keys?
7 I wanted to have the opportunity to try out some of the electronic instruments available for homebuilt aircraft rather than stick with the ‘old fashioned’ style of instruments. I hunted around for cost effective instruments and after finding the uMonitor & uEncoder from Rocky Mountain Instrument, decided that was the most bang for buck at the time.
The next problem was to be how I would go about designing the panel and the cutouts. Being one for technology I really wanted to try CAD software and so after I found an add for Panel Planner software I decided to try it out on my panel. The software was limited at first but more and more features are being added. The latest version I got was version 2 pro and supported NC cutting machines.
An early layout of my panel using Panel Planner.
As winter approached (no gluing in winter so I did this stuff) and I got the aircraft to the stage when I required the panel. I downloaded the .DXF file into AutoCad to see what output the program gave me. I wasn’t too happy with the result. It gave all the instrument cut-outs ok but the panel outside edge was omitted. Also, no holes for anything on the folded edges were possible so I decided to use the basic locations I had got from Panel Planner and re-do the whole thing in AutoCad. This way I know I’ve got it were I want it and can add the extra bits I want with no real problem.
Here is a very crude screen shot of the AutoCad cutting layout. I had to figure out all the bend allowances for the folds which took a while but I think the end result below looks good…
A few minor stuff-ups.. mainly due to believing Panel Planner’s dimensions but basically quite nice I think, just needs to be bent now.
Just starting to wire it up.
Dimmers on the left, quick disconnect plugs to facilitate easy panel removal (Lower centre) etc.
As you can see… I’m keeping it simple for now. IFR it aint !! Just how I like it. (I will add a horizon though)
2 Jul 2003
After the first flight I started adding extra bits and pieces. The GPS ended up being absolutely not what I was planning on originally and the horizon I chose also didn’t fit so I decided to go back to the beginning and re-cut the panel.
Second crack at it..
look how big the GPS cut out is !!
My quality controller inspecting the wiring. I don’t think he was impressed.
I learnt a lot from the previous panels so I felt the urge to improve it again.
This time I thought I’d also try making it from carbon.
Here it is half done.
Times change I guess.
With the experience of the previous 2 panels and various upcoming requirements I decided to start again on panel #3.
This time it has the Garmin G3X suite in it and so far I’m delighted with it.
2nd July 2011