Category: Electrical

Mar 17 2011

Panel ready to install

Today the wiring on the instrument panel was finished out. 

Prior to the final install in the plane, I needed to do as much wiring as possible on the bench.  All the harness were hooked up and installed and the point to point wiring on the panel was completed.

What a mess of wires.  The majority of them are just power and grounds.  I decided to route them on the stbd side of the plane as the port side has a huge number of wires and I didnt want to add to the the complexity.

Nicely bound together.  Tomorrow I will do the FINAL installation of the panel in the plane and  “marry” the wiring together.  Once done, this harness will become part of the plane harness.

Feb 27 2011

Lighting Logic Controller

I finished installing the rotary switch circuit board into the panel and completed populating the parts onto the lighting logic controller circuit board I designed for the planes lighting system.  Overall, I am really pleased at how well it all turned out.  Exactly as I had envisioned the end product.

On the panel, LED’s shine into tiny light tubes embedded in the panel which directs the light to the front illuminating the switch position selection.  The switch position overall LED’s brightness is controlled by the panel dimmer.

The design purpose of this rotary switch is to reduce the overall number of switches on the panel.  I combined 8 toggles switches to 1 rotary selector.   The picture above indicates the “Start” position, which is the most dangerous to ground personnel, so when selected, the beeper, wig wag lights, strobes, belly strobe all turn on at once.    Maximum awareness… “Warning Will Robinson”

After the engine start up, the selection is, “Taxi” which would be the next expected action.  When selected the beeper and all strobes turn off,  the taxi/landing/wing belly beacon activate.  When you get to the end of the runway one selects “Day Landing”  (and takeoff) and so forth through the different regimes of flight such as  “Day” flight, “Night Landing” (and take), “Night Flight” and lastly flying in the “Clouds” (at night).    Each position activates the desired combination of lights.

A long time ago I was always amazed at how complex an aircraft instrument panel looked.  Lots of switches and breakers.  Why?   Now look at a fine car, there is none of that sh*t.   I think the modern car turn signal stalk is a work of design/engineering art.  Think about it it…. it turns you wipers of in all sorts of modes and speeds, has a button to wash the windshield, selects the Hi/Lo beams, flashes a car in the daytime  AND activates your turn signals.   So cool.

When I was a kid my dad was amazed when our VW came with a turn signal which had a little button button on the back side to FLASH the high beams.  I think it was a German thing for the Audubon to indicate you wanted to pass someone.  What a long way the simple turn signal switch has come.

Since the pilot ALWAYS activates (or should activate) a combination of light for best positional awareness for other planes, and for different types of flights, then why not build something which “automates” the process.   Why not simply the panel if I could?

The lighting logic controller is a simple relay board with diode isolators.  You can add/change the light combinations by changing diodes.  Sort of like programing a simple computer.   There are 8 relays each rated at 10 amp / circuit.  A 12 pin plug on the board mates into the plane’s lighting wiring.   I added a yellow LED light for each relay to show when it is activated to allow me to bench test the board.

If you would like to see how the circuit works, click on this link:  Logic board controller


Feb 25 2011

Back to work again

Work has started back on the plane.  I am starting to install all the harnesses I built. 

Here is a rats nest of wires.  All my buddies are amazed that I can keep track of the the wires. 

The wire runs look good when installed in the plane.

This is my first attempt ever at making a circuit board which will be used for the lighting control system.  After designing it in Acad, I put a mask on the copper circuit board and used acid to etch away the unneeded copper.    I am amazed at how great it turned out.  I think I might try making a circuit board for the waste vegetable computer I make for my car. 

Next I’ll drill the board, and add the components needed to make my lighting system functional.

Feb 08 2011

Lots of wiring!

I have been hard at working building harnesses. I believe I am now up to about 10 of them.  You know the funny thing is the wiring is fairly easy, but keeping track of all the wires (documentation) is turning out to be a major PITA.  I now know why most people do not have wiring diagrams of their airplane.  It is just too difficult to keep everything up. 

The wiring bundles on the floor. 

More to make before I can start installing them in the plane….

Jan 17 2011

All Electronic Modules are installed!

I have decided the hardest part of wiring is not hooking up wire but finding a home for all the components needed to operate the plane.   All the receivers, antennas, control modules, switches, grounds, etc.   This issue is even more difficult to do in a highly complex and space limited plane like a Longez.

I must have installed and removed the front panel 30 times already.  I wanted to make sure all electronics were easy to get to, removable with minimal hassle with the caveat that the final product should not look busy or complex.  This is not trivial.  I hate having to take a bunch of stuff out of my plane to get to a component to work on.

Also, I did not want to see a complex of wire everywhere.  Basically when I get done, there will be very little wire visible.  The worse you’d have to do is remove the canard (about 10 min) to get to anything in the plane.

I have installed cannon plugs on the dash to make it removable.  It wont be easy and very rare operation, but it is a requirement of mine.

The mount area of the EFIS GPS receiver.

Mount area for the heat sink of the diode isolators.

Mount are of the ADS-B receiver,  ADS-B GPS antenna and Garmin GPS Antenna.

Orginally, the plane had two batteries in the front.  I moved one of them to the back seat area which gave me a little free space (where the battery used to be) to work with.  I decided to use it for the electric trim controller, emergency extension battery and emergency gear down module.    By stacking them they are about the same size as the former battery.  I could have used a bunch of foam in the area to hold them in place but decided to use alum separators to stack the components and to keep the battery from moving.


Finally, all the modules are mounted.

 The last part of the puzzle to mount is the joy stick.  There is a LOT of wiring in the joy stick to work with.  After it is wired and mounted, I’ll really be able to start to wire point to point and hook everything up.   It wont take too long at that point until I can start powering systems up.

Dec 30 2010

Instrument panel is back

I did get the instrument panel for the plane back from Aerotronics.  The new lighting label looks fabulous.  Now I can get started on the final wiring if I could only find the plane in the mess of the work shop….


Nov 15 2010

The dash is trash

The yard is started to open up.  I have been spending lots of time on the dozer.  I’ll tell you one thing, it is not as easy as it looks to operate one.  That beast beats me to death sometime and it is very hard to get everything level.   Doug is going to bring me a couple of big truckloads of soil so I can continue building up this area of my yard.

The garbage man had fun with the pile of brush I cleared out of the yard.  My pile filled an entire trailer.   Tomorrow, I’ll start again clearing out more shrubs.

I wanted to show you the before/after.  I decided to go with flush mount LED instead of having them sticking out of the dash.   

The clear lens hold the LED’s behind the dash.


I also decided I didn’t like the way the lettering was on the panel for the lighting control.  It has been redesigned for a different look and I am going to embed LED’s to indicate which lighting circuit is active.    The panel will be disassembled and sent back to Aerotronics for re-lableing.    It should take about 2 weeks or so to get it back.

Nov 01 2010


I have to take a necessary break from the wiring to wrap up a few last items.  The oil cooling, the 406 ELT and final installation of the fire suppression system.   

I didnt really like the straight down (original plans) type oil cooler installation.  There is no expansion of the inlet air (increases pressure) or contraction of the air (pressure recovery) so I decided to tilt the oil cooler 25 deg to allow a smoother flow of air into and out of the cooler.    I also replace the cooler with a more efficient Stewart Warner.

First step is establishing a base plate and shape of the outlet duct.

Next is to glass it.

I now have to build flanges on the duct to bolt the oil cooler on.

The flanges have been glassed.    Tomorrow, the cowl will be glassed for the outlet air flow after which the inlet duct will be fabricated.

In between all this, I installed the back seat electric panels.  The came out exactly as planned.  Very cool looking!

Both panels have a 12 vdc constant on plugs (so you can charge your phone at an airshow).


Oct 28 2010

Wind Generator Dedication

Today was interesting.   At lunch I attended the official dedication of the soon to be built national wind generator gear testing facility which will be run by Clemson University.   Development of the facility is being funded through a $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and an additional $53 million in private donations. Within days of announcing plans for a testing facility last November, IMO Group, a German company that makes wind turbine parts, announced it was opening a plant in North Charleston that would create 190 jobs.

It is  predicted thousands more jobs may be just around the corner as the Institutes 100-plus acre campus on the site of the former Charleston Navy Base grows.  When completed the site will be able to test the largest of  gear trains for off shore wind generators to failure.    One speaker said this is one of the most important sites for wind energy research and development in the country.  Plenty of pomp and circumstance for the crowd, but where is the food???

We were addressed by our senators, congress men and the city mayor.     The speeches were short and to the point.  Just how I like them.   Hum… food? It is lunch time.

This picture turned out interesting.  The piles of orange dyed sand (Clemson colors) seemed to glow like pots of gold.  Since the building is already built, officials will dig into the sand piles with shovels for the smiling money shot….

A local high school or possibly elementary school (maybe kindergarten?) band provided the dedication music…. all I can say is they tried hard.    Where is the feaking food???  I’m hungry.

The headrest area is done.  I now have the EIS, aft battery, fuel level indicators, power distribution (aft), electronic ignition’s and starting system finished.   This is how it looks before the beauty panel.

This is with the cover panel in place.  You  will never have to get to the electronics behind the panel unless a part fails.  I’ll letter the panel with the obligatory warnings, fuse sizes, etc to dress it up a bit.

The coils for the Lightspeed ignition are done.

BTW:  There WAS NO FOOD at the$98 million dollar dedication.  Cheap bastards……

Guess I’ll have to buy my own lunch.

Oct 25 2010

EIS done

The engine information system is done!  Ya!  To go from such a mess of wires to this is great.   Now begins the fun of connecting the battery and fuse to the loads.

Black sleveing was put on the majority of the wires where possible.

Looking good now.