Chapter 22 – Electrical System

Chapter 22 – Electrical System Overview, Installation & Wiring

3 October 2012 — Tonight I took some pics of some of my electrical components that I received from B&C Specialty Products.

Pictured below is the master battery contactor (silver), the starter contactor (blue), the firewall ground “forest of tabs,” and the B&C LR3C 14v Voltage Regulator.  As well as an assortment of FastOn terminals.

Chap 23 - ElectricalChap 23 - Electrical

[Operational Note: Currently I am NOT planning on using either of the two contactors shown above]

•••

27 December 2012 — My Christmas present to myself this year was the B&C SD-8 back-up alternator that I’ll be using in Bob Nuckolls’ Z-13/8 electrical system design.

The SD-8 is mounted on the engine’s vacuum pump pad and is used as the primary source of power for the endurance bus in a two-layered electrical system, if the main alternator should fail.

Chap 22 - B&C SD-8 backup alternator

I forgot to add a picture of my (new & improved) Starter Contactor.  After a fair amount of research, and talking to some very smart electrical dudes, I’ll be using the Lamar SuperSwitch Solid State Contactor for my starter contactor.  From what I understand, these contactors were originally made for the Lancair Columbia aircraft and were apparently made in a decent quantity so that when Cessna bought the Columbia from Lancair, they swapped out the starter contactors and Lamar had a ton left over.  So Lamar basically just dumped the remaining contactors for comparatively nothing on Aircraft Spruce.  I didn’t take a pic of mine, but this is what it looks like.  BTW, I don’t think the P/N in the pic is good any more since I believe ACS sold out their stock of these contactors.

The reason behind moving to solid state is that it has no mechanical moving parts, and is significantly more efficient than traditional starter contactors at a fraction (1/3) of the weight.

Chap 22 - Starter Contactor

•••

7 January 2013 — I ordered a fairly new-to-the-market 2-speed trim controller from TCW which was made specifically for heavier duty trim actuator motors (read: NOT Ray Allen servos!).  Also nicely packaged and looks to be good quality.  I had a few long discussions with the TCW bubbas about their different products, and these are some pretty smart guys!

Chap 17 - Pitch Trim Controller (TCW)

Along with a new Starter Contactor, I also picked up a new Master Battery Contactor: the Gigavac GX-11SA.  Why?  Well again, in my discussions with the electrical gurus, I realized that to keep as light as possible in my build that I want to utilize B&C’s L40 40 Amp alternator, which is about as light as you can get in alternators (vs the vacuum pad designs).  Thus, I need to conserve amperage anywhere and everywhere I can.  The standard battery contactor takes about 1 Amp to keep the contactor closed and electrons flowing.  The Gigavac GX-11SA has a special internal circuit that once the contactor closes and the circuit is completed, it keeps the contactor closed for less than 1/10 of an amp (0.090 to be exact).  So, for the same contactor weight, I gain 0.9 of an amp.  Doesn’t seem like much, but when you only have 40 amps to play with, and a decent amount of “electro-whizzies” (as Bob Nuckolls calls them) that you’re using in the cockpit, you want (I want) as much spare power as possible.  (The pic below is not my actual Master Battery Contactor, but a representative one… just as I did for my starter contactor).

Gigavac GX-11 Master Battery Contactor

Is there a down side?  Yes, there is a slight bit more electrical noise, but according to Bob Nuckolls & Eric Jones, it’s negligible.  (The high efficient internal coil is shown at lower right in the diagram below).

Gigavac GX11 Contactor Wiring Scheme

•••

23 April 2013 — I made it back to Germany a few days ago.  Below is conglomerate of orders I put in with Stein Aviation for Tefzel wire, switches & electrical stuff (and ACS – 3″ UNI tape for the canard, and B&C – 90° oil filter mount).

Tefzel electrical wire & B&C 90 deg oil filter

•••

27 May 2013 — Ok, so today I started working on Chapter 10 – Canard; Chapter 13 – Nose/Nose Gear; and Chapter 21 – Fuel system . . . due to an error in my glassing though, my Chapter 10 piece turned into a Chapter 22 – Electrical system piece . . . as shown below.

I made a cardboard template of the shape of the canard next to the protruding antenna cables to make an antenna jack mount/cover for these cables, where they would tie into 2 respective jacks as a rather permanent fixture on the top aft/TE of the canard.  I also shaped blue foam in an effort to make this jack mount/cover.

Chap 22 - GIB headphone jack housingChap 22 - GIB headphone jack housing

Here’s the resulting form to be glassed, shown first bare & then prepped with Duct tape:

IMG_0111

Chap 21 - Fuel tank vent manifold cap

Now, in the pic above I clearly got tunnel vision and the requirement for the contoured bottom of the wedge shaped antenna jack/cover completely eluded me . . . temporarily. Of course once the glass was laid up & peel ply applied, I realized this was not in fact going to work for what I intended it to.  Oh, well.  I just lost a little bit of time, some scrap BID and a little bit of epoxy.  In the end I got a piece that I think will work for the GIB’s headphone jack/cover.

The following pics show the soon-to-be headphone jack cover being glassed:

Chap 22 - GIB headphone jack housingChap 22 - GIB headphone jack housing

I pulled the headphone jack cover off its form & then drilled the holes for the antenna jacks (which I’ll swap them out for headphone jacks). I then removed the peel ply.

Chap 22 - GIB headphone jack housingChap 22 - GIB headphone jack housing

I installed 2 actual antenna jacks to test the fit.  Of course everything was good except there was NO CONTOUR CURVE on the bottom of the jack cover to match the canard.

Chap 22 - GIB headphone jack housingChap 22 - GIB headphone jack housing

So currently this piece is a headphone jack cover, but it may morph into something else yet to be determined.

Chap 22 - GIB headphone jack housing

•••

21 October 2013 — Well, an alternator is difficult to classify as belonging to ONLY the Electrical System (Chap 22) or the Engine (Chap 23), so I labeled it here as belonging to both categories.

I’ve  held off for quite some time in buying my alternator, which is B&C as well, simply because I didn’t feel I had identified the avionics and electrical components within the electrical system to the degree necessary to know what size alternator I would need.  B&C offers both a 40 Amp and a 60 Amp externally regulated alternator.  Of course an ever-present concern of mine is weight, and at the very aft end of the engine, the 2.4 pound difference (6.1 vs 8.5) between these two alternators clearly has a decent affect on the aircraft’s weight & balance at such a rearward arm.  With technology allowing me to have a lighter battery up front (15 pounds vs the traditional ‘old school’ 25 pounds), even with an extended nose I’m trying to keep the hind end of my bird light.  Especially considering I’ve dumped an O-320-sized engine back there when the Long-EZ was pretty much (Read: “specifically”) designed for the lighter O-235 engine.

Have I made my case?  Quite a bit of yammering over just 2-1/2 pounds, eh?!  Sure, weight is evil!  (I wonder if Burt would be proud of me right now .  .  . )

And so it is mis amigos, that I was comfortable enough in my electrical system load analysis at this point in time that I pulled the trigger on the B&C L40 40 Amp alternator below.  Also, as a data point, my main bus with all the components I have listed in my electrical system will have a steady current draw somewhere around 22 amps.  Not bad for a full up IFR glass panel with autopilot.

As per usual, here is a representative picture from the B&C website.

Chap 22/23 - B&C 40-Amp Alternator

•••

26 May 2014 — A reoccurring question that I’ve had in my mind for quite some time was simply how to go about labeling all the wires in the Long-EZ to make maintenance, modifications and troubleshooting a heck of a lot easier.  Well, recently–most likely due to my recent task of building all the subsystem wiring book diagrams–that internal “reoccurring” question turned more into a “nagging” question.

So the other day I spent a couple of hours perusing my notes, past emails, various builders’ forums and the Internet to find an answer to my now persistent wire-labeling question.  After a fair amount of research, and doing a short cost-benefit analysis of the amount of time required to label my wires in one of the few old school methods versus acquiring the capability to do it quickly, I realized that having high quality labeled wires wasn’t going to be necessarily cheap.  However, along with high quality labels the one thing I could definitely attain was speed . . . and once you add the ability to produce things a heck of a lot more quickly, with high quality, that simply equates to efficiency in my book. And I am willing to pay for efficiency.

I found a few builders using the K-Sun Bee3-EZ+ label maker (Really?! How can you pass on something that is clearly made for an “EZ”?  It even lists it right in the model number! And it’s EZ to use to boot!).  Now, I already have a P-Touch label maker that I’ve used for countless years, so why in the world do I need another label maker?!  Well, dear friends, this one PRINTS ON SHRINK TUBE!  Ok, this may not be news to you, but it definitely was to me.  Between the 1/8″ & 3/16″ sized shrink tubes, they cover wire gages from 12-22 AWG.  Perfect for covering the vast majority of wires in an airplane build.  Moreover, these shrink tubes come in 5 different color combos.

Thus, after reading online reviews, comparing prices, etc., I went back to my old standby eBay and was able to pick up a new K-Sun Bee3-EZ+ shrink tube label maker for over half the cost less of a new one at a regular online vendor:

Chap 22 - K-Sun Bee3-EZ+ Shrink Tube Labeler

•••

26 February 2015 — In the December 2013 edition of Kitplanes magazine I found yet another useful piece of information, and like so many other times during this build, it came a year or so too late. The article was written by Jim Weir–maker of many canard antennas–and discussed checking the VSWR (Voltage Standing Wave Ratio) of each antenna before burying it under the skin of a plastic airplane such as the Long-EZ, at which point if you have a problem . . . well, better think up some good solutions!

Jim recommended a MFJ-259B Antenna Analyzer to check the VSWR on each antenna to ensure they were good.  Again, my antennas already being installed, I still wanted to check them to A) know if any had a VSWR too high to count as good, and B) pick the best between the COM antennas for COM1, and the best between the NAV antennas for NAV1.  The goal is a VSWR ratio less than 3:1, because anything higher is a lot electrical energy traveling back along the OUTSIDE of your antenna coax cable to the transmitting device (ie, radio), which will drive your available Tx wattage to unacceptably low levels and could damage your transmitter in the process.  In addition, as with so many other units of measurement in the weird & wonderful world of electrons, VSWR readings are logarithmic.  Any increases above a 1.5:1-to-2:1 ratio and things start getting real hairy real quick!

I of course started hunting around for a good, used antenna analyzer at an acceptable price anywhere I could find one.  That pretty much drove me to eBay, where I picked one up for about half the price of a new one.  And thar she be below.

MFJ-259B Antenna Analyzer

The only problem with my newly won prize (which I actually bought a while ago), was the antenna cable adapter that came with it.  These analyzers can be used for checking any antenna and are common in the HAM radio world, so perhaps the antenna cable adapter that came was used for something even more exotic by a HAM radio bubba.

Old Connector ???So although I didn’t know what the mystery adapter was used for, I did know that to check the BNC connectors used on the Long-EZ antenna cables that I would need a BNC adapter for the antenna analyzer.  So, last week I ordered a couple of them, one male and one female, and I got them in today.

New BNC connectors M & F

You can see the new BNC antenna cable adapters on the right, and the old one on the left. Below is a shot of one installed on the antenna analyzer.

It fits!

Since the weather is still too cold to economically heat my workshop for glassing, I plan on terminating all my antenna cables with BNC connectors and then checking the VSWR of each one with this MFJ-259B antenna analyzer.

•••

7 November 2015 — Today was about research and getting reacquainted with my electrical system.  My specific interest was in figuring out what components, electrical & otherwise, that I was going to put into the nose.

Now I know a lot of my contemporary building buddies would whip up some awesome looking CAD diagram with exact dimensions down to 3 decimal places that looks like an engineer’s dream, but me being a former military “Powerpoint Ranger” and certified neanderthal, I simply added a slide depicting my thoughts on this matter onto the end of my ongoing notes for the nose build.

Again, this stuff is really just a mental thought jogger on what will most likely go into what areas in the nose, and get me thinking if there is any pre-actions or prep I can do as I build the nose.  Some of the components I ID’d will be in the nose area, but aft of F22: OAT probe, static ports, buss fuse housings, etc.  In addition, on many of the components I had to look up in my notes, emails, websites, install manuals, etc. to either confirm or research further why and how they were getting installed where.

Nose components

Now, I mentioned CAD earlier, so speaking of CAD:  The CAD program I was using to create my electrical diagrams was NanoCAD, as recommended by Bob Nuckolls in the AeroElectric Connection online forum.  This was a great CAD program for electrical diagrams primarily because A) it was what Bob used to create all of them, and B) it was FREE!  Unfortunately, my version of NanoCAD is no longer supported and apparently NanoCAD is now on Version 7, which costs a decent amount of money now to buy.

Well, no worries since I have TurboCAD, which I happened to purchase while I was in Tampa, Florida.  But I didn’t have it loaded up on my desktop so I ended up spending a good half hour loading up TurboCAD and familiarizing myself with its features before I could open up any of my electrical diagrams.  Why? Well, in a series of typical events, I had taken all the hardcopy printouts of my electrical diagrams down to my buddy Marco’s house while I was on leave from Qatar in March 2014, forgot them there, and haven’t been back to retrieve them yet . . . mainly because every time I go to visit him he puts me to work building HIS Long-EZ!  HA!  (Click here for the real story . . . )

Thus, to be able to make my annotations on my electrical diagrams on an actual sheet of paper, I had to be able to open the darn files to print them, which I am happy to report that I am now able to do.

In line with my reviewing my nose electrical components, my main preparation is in getting the nose gear actuator wiring sorted out to test it.  I had planned on going over all my electrical stuff today since the epoxy was still curing on the canard and also, in part, because my AMP CPC connector order from Mouser was scheduled to be delivered today, which it was.

I checked out all the goodies from Mouser and pretty much solidified my plan for the wiring & connections for the nose gear actuator system.

AMP CPC electrical connectors

•••

11 November 2015 — Today the UPS guy showed up with the battery charger I ordered from Amazon last week. I ordered this battery charger because in reading the manual for the Odyssey PC680 battery it stated that if the battery charge fell below 12.65 volts, than it needed to be charged before using it.  When I checked the battery, the multimeter showed 12.57 volts, clearly below the threshold required to be able to use the battery as per the instructions.

Of course I knew I would need a battery charger eventually since the Odyssey PC680 is an Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) type that is immune from acid spills and gas venting, and thus has some unique charging requirements to ensure the battery is maintained in an optimized state before it’s actual use in the Long-EZ.  An interesting side note to this battery is that it can be mounted in any position.

I checked the Odyssey website for approved battery chargers.  After assessing a few battery chargers online, I decided on this one and ordered it.

Odyssey PC680 Battery Charger

I hooked up the battery to the new charger before heading out to a meeting I had at the office. Before I left for my meeting I went upstairs and changed clothes –about 5 minutes– and when I did a final check before walking out the door the charger had already completed its first 2 phases and was in the basic charging phase.  This was a good sign since the initial phases are conditioning cycles that bring a battery back to the point where it can simply be charged in phase 3, where again, my battery was before I even left the house.  By the time I returned about 2 hours later, the battery was fully charged and was at 13.87 volts.  Not bad!

I’m discussing the battery at this point since the short term use of the battery is to test the nose gear actuator (Chapter 13) while of course the long term use will simply be as the aircraft’s primary power source (Chapter 22).

Odyssey PC680 Battery

•••

15 November 2015 — Today I didn’t get any shop work completed.  I had planned on organizing & cleaning the shop a bit, and then getting the fuselage mounted on the dolly, but ended up working on the electrical system for about a total of 6 hours.

Although I didn’t add it to my log entry, I had actually spent a couple of hours Saturday diagraming out the circuit for my canopy & gear warning module.  I thought I was looking for a DPDT microswitch to match the one Jack had mounted on one side of the gear actuator housing for the down limiter.  The other side only has a single switch.  I even sent Jack an email asking for the part number, since all the info for the microswitches were hidden from me on account of how they were mounted with the nomenclature, etc. facing the mounting flange.  I didn’t want to move these suckers unless absolutely necessary since they’re “factory” set initially for the correct up & down limits.

Well, right before I left the house for the evening I took a much closer look to see what type of roller the microswitch had and the length of the lever arm.  Upon closer inspection I realize it had two rollers??  Wait a minute!  This wasn’t one switch!  It was two switches stacked one over the other!  Doh!  I remembered I had a microswitch included in my accessories for the speed brake, which I also bought from Jack.  I pulled that switch out, saw that it was the same switch as those mounted on the nose gear actuator, and so was able to get the manufacturer and part number off of that one. I then quickly sent Jack an email saying that I apparently need glasses and to disregard previous transmission!  All of this hassle for a $3 switch!  BTW, the switch is an Omron SS-10GL2T.

With the switch issue settled yesterday, and with the added wiring the new switch circuit will add, I was armed with the info I needed to order a new 14-pin AMP CPC connector from Mouser.  I assembled my order which included a whole lot more pins & sockets, a pin/socket removal tool and of course the Omron microswitches.

I then turned my sights on a developing order that I had with Aircraft Spruce.  I’ve been assembling this order over the past couple of weeks and wanted to get to a point where I felt I wasn’t missing anything important, like the quart of fast MGS hardener and 1″ peel ply tape that I added just prior to hitting the “submit order” button.  The order includes a lot of odd n’ end fasteners & hardware for mounting electrical components, etc. in the nose.  Of course, as luck would have it (as it always does!), a few hours after submitting the order I ran across EZ Point studs on Joe Carragio’s website while doing some research.  They’re a bit pricey, but I know of a few places where I definitely want to incorporate these. Thanks Joe, I’ll add them to the list!

I then spent a few hours on virtually organizing the components of my electrical system. Yes, in true neanderthal fashion I pulled them all out, traced their profile on a sheet of graph paper, and then identified which bus they were wired to, and looked at the length & destinations of the wire runs.  Again, since so much of this business occurs in the nose, and that’s what I’ll be building next, I don’t mind taking a few hours to get better educated on just what the nose will house before I start building it.

I made a number of annotations and tweaked/swapped/modified a number of other circuit connections simple based on location of component and the ease/requirement of access. The bottom line is that I want the guts of my electrical system to be as optimized, organized, clean, and lightweight as possible.  I don’t want a rats nest of wires that looks like the cable monster puked in the nose of my airplane and then merely shut the lid to hide the hideousness of it all!

In addition to the aesthetics of the system, I want my electrical wiring to be practical in that the configuration of it all minimizes head-scratching during future troubleshooting or component additions, and even more importantly that the RF noise is mitigated to the maximum extent possible.

After creating a ton more notes, and figuring out some important electrical system design info and component placement, my final official act of the evening was deciding that a 14-gang fuse holder would be the right size for my E-Bus.  Thus, I pulled the trigger on that as well and ordered one.

So although I have no sexy build pictures to post, I did get a ton of stuff sorted through and a lot accomplished.  And I got three separate orders in on various in-depth, technical stuff I need for this build.  Not a bad day for the build I would say.

•••

16 November 2015 — Today was another bust on getting some shop work in.  Between business calls, meetings and knocking out some personal errands, I just couldn’t get some shop time in.  One thing I could do while I was on the phone was make labels for my electrical components.  So I did.

As many of you may know I designed my electrical system so that I have each component identified with a 2-digit code, and then a 3-digit identifier for the pin, wire  or connector.  Combine this with a 1-letter designator prefix that identifies one of 12 distinct areas of the aircraft, and I then have a resulting 6 digit code that tells me exactly where any wire is coming from or going to, and the device at each end.

So as I was on the phone I simply pulled out the label maker and started going through the list of codes.

Electrical component labels

When I got a chance I would cut a few out and label the components that I have close by.  Since I was in a groove at the end of the work day, I simply rolled into digging into my stores of electrical stuff and labeling a large number of them.  I would say I have about 70% of my electrical components on hand labeled.

Since I was deconflicting and updating my electrical component ID list, this segued into my figuring out more finitely each component installation location in the airplane. I pulled out the Electrical Book of All KnowledgeThe AeroElectric Connection by Bob Nuckolls, and reviewed it to make sure I was not straying off the straight & narrow path of good electrical practices.  Especially considering that plastic airplanes amplify a lot of commonplace negative issues that crop up in wiring any airplane.

I also reviewed a lot of other builders’ electrical systems, analyzed those, and emulated a lot of good install how-to’s.  I also jotted down some crude diagrams to look at wiring runs, device locations, etc.  This involved digging out a lot install manuals and verifying a fair bit of information.

By working through what I did last night, I really feel that I confirmed and elevated the completion level of my electrical system design from about 75% to about 90%, and with just a few more minor pieces of information, and perhaps a few phone calls, I’ll be really close to locking in the final locations of nearly all my electrical components.

•••

21 November 2015 — I mentioned that I had updated my electrical component placement plan for the nose.  I finished the final mods this morning and figured I would post it for you all to see.

Updated Nose Electrical Gear

•••

24 November 2015 — I started out today doing some research on my wiring tools.  I realized that I didn’t have a crimping tool for larger diameter wires under 16 AWG, so I did a little research and ordered one online.

Then, while I was doing an impromptu inventory of my wiring tools, I decided to go ahead and swap out a set of blades to give me a fuller spectrum of MILSPEC wire stripping.  The wire strippers to the left in the pic below are mil spec wire strippers that strip 16-26 AWG wires.  The wire cutters to the right are basically the same strippers that also strip 16-26 AWG, but with standard wire stripping blades for automative purposes, etc., not for aircraft wiring.  While in Qatar I took Nick Ugolini’s advice that he provided on his blog to simply buy a set of aircraft grade mil spec cutting blades (shown to the right below) and install them in a standard, cheaper pair of wire strippers.

Switching wire cutter blades

So that’s what I did.  But instead of buying 16-26 AWG mil spec cutting blades, I ordered a set of 10-14 AWG cutting blades to give me the capability to strip wires as large as 10 AWG down to 26 AWG wires.

Wire cutter blades switched

Here’s a couple shots of the wire strippers.

Mil spec & standard wire cuttersMil spec & standard wire cutters

•••

5 December 2015 — I started by taking 6 of K1000-3 nutplate assemblies that I made up last night down to the shop along with a scrap piece of the über dense H250 foam.

Electrical frame nutplate assemblies

I cut rectangular pieces out of the foam to serve as a base for the individual nutplate assemblies.  The odd foam piece below the row of 4 standard looking rectangles will go on the aft side CL of F28, and hang aft at a very sharp downward angle.  Again, this is for mounting what is essentially a giant “T”-shaped electrical components & avionics “tree.”

Electrical frame nutplate assemblies

I then worked the foam pieces to allow me to embed a K1000-3 nutplate into the foam.

Electrical frame nutplate assemblies

Here are the end results.  Now, I had every intention of mounting these onto the backside of the F22 center strut (just forward of the nose wheel cover) and on the bottom aft side of F28, when I took a break for lunch.  Reviewing in my mind that I still needed to construct the electrical component structure (I nicknamed it the “Triparagon” … don’t ask me why, but if the Avengers/SHIELD can have a building with a cool name like “Triskelion” than my electrical tree/tower/structure can have a cool friggin’ name too!  Ha!), I thought why should I install these now when I can simply bolt them to the structure later, put the whole thing in place with some 5-min glue on these puppies and have all my bolt holes aligned perfectly.  Duh!  So, I bagged these suckers up and put them on hold.

Electrical frame nutplate assemblies

•••

10 December 2015 — Today I mocked up the AEX module and the SkyRadar ADS-B receiver on the NG30 cover.

AEX & ADS-B receiver mocked up

ADS-B receiver mocked up in place

•••

11 December 2015 — I thought I’d start out today showing a couple things I just received for the build.  The first one is the shrink tube for making wire labels.

Shrink tube labels arrived

The other is the titanium metric M5 bolts and an M5 tap for mounting my battery contractor in the nose.

M5 metric bolts for Battery Contactor

•••

13 December 2015 — I spent a few hours last night and a couple hours this morning making sure that I had my connector pins diagrammed out on paper.  As of right now, I have about 7 AMP CPC connectors planned for use in my electrical system: the Infinity stick grips, throttle handle switches, etc.  Each of those will have a pinout page depicting information on what wires are where & wire colors, and what connectors are being used, pins, sockets, notes and any pertinent info.  Below is the first iteration of the P2 connector. Also, in addition to the P2 connector diagram, I finished the P1 diagram.

P2 Connector Pinout Diagram

Later, while watching some football today, I took my list of wire label codes that I spent a couple hours last night researching & building to use to print out a bunch of wire labels.  I’m fairly certain that I’ve already spelled out my code schema in detail here on this site, but after I work any wrinkles and kinks out of the system, I’ll touch base on my wiring code again.

In essence, I have two 6-digit codes separated by a dash that make up a wire label and then heat shrunk to the wire in an oriented sequence to depict where the wire is coming from & going to component-wise, and what location in the aircraft the wire is coming from and going to.

Printed wire labels

Here are the wire labels cut and ready to heat shrink onto the wires.  I have them in pairs because my standard is to place a label about 6-8″ from each end of each wire.  On longer wires there may be a third label thrown on approximately halfway the length of the wire.

Cut wire labels

My first test case for the heat shrink wire labels was the landing brake wiring.  I was very impressed with the legibility of the labels and the ease & speed of the whole process from printing the labels to heat shrinking them into place.

Landing brake wire labels

Since I have the nose gear wiring harness mocked up, I didn’t heat shrink some of the wires in place.  I merely shrunk them down to a significant degree, maybe 80-90%… enough that they wouldn’t easily slide off, but that I could still slide them in their final locations (past the Adel clamps) later and then do a final heat shrink to keep them in place.

Below left is the pair of AEX power wires with incompletely shrunk wire labels, while in the right pic those labels were heat shrunk down to their final position.

Wire labels shrunk 90%Wire labels shrunk in place

Here’s another couple of pics of my wire labeling endeavors this evening.  The labels in the top pic are in their final location, whereas in the bottom pic those labels will be moved into their final position and given a final pass with the heat gun later.

Wire labels shrunk in place

Wire labels shrunk 80%

•••

15 December 2015 — I started off today by knocking out the installation of Tee-nuts into the mounting plate of my battery contactor.   I don’t usually ascribe to using Tee-nuts as a common practice in my airplane building project, but since these bolts are metric M5 bolts, and furthermore. since I found these stainless steel Tee-nuts at that Mom & Pop hardware store the other day, I said what the heck… let’s do something the really EZ way for once!

Battery Contactor Mounting Pad

Obviously I used this scrap piece of Finnish Birch plywood when I was glassing the tabs for my main landing gear.  It’s still good, so I’m putting it to use.  I will be cutting the corners opposite the Tee nuts off at an angle to save some weight though.

I guess when my building compadres accuse me of cutting corners during this build, they’re right!!  haha!

Battery Contactor Mounting Pad

Here’s a couple shots of the battery contactor mounted to its new base plate.

Contactor mounted to baseContactor mounted to base

•••

16 December 2015 — I was getting ready to head down to the shop today to start working on the project when UPS delivered my order of Click Bonds.

I ordered a set of four 10-32 Click Bonds for installing the EFII Fuel Boost Pump and another set of four 1/4-28 Click Bonds for installing the B&C Voltage Regulator to the aft side of F22.  The latter would be the first task of the day.

ClickBond order arrived!

I first removed the Click Bond studs from their plastic installation housings.

1/4-28 1/2" long Clickbonds

I then test fitted them on the voltage reg.

ClickBond test fit on Voltage Reg

ClickBond test fit on Voltage Reg

I sanded the upper aft area of F22 in prep of mounting the voltage reg.  I then put together a prepreg setup with 2 full plies of BID and a 2″ strip over where the left and right pair of Click Bonds will be positioned.  In the prepreg setup I went ahead and covered the BID with peel ply.

I then wet out the prepregged BID with epoxy using fast hardener, cut a small hole where each Click Bond stud would stick through the BID, and then attached the taped-up voltage reg to the prepreg setup.  I left the top piece of prepreg plastic on, so it remained between the back plate of the voltage reg, the peel ply and subsequent plies of BID.

Voltage Reg Clickbond mounting

I put a small mound of flox on each Click Bond face, added flox around the edge of each Click Bond for a transition, and then mounted the voltage reg, glass and peel ply assembly to the aft side of F22 with clamps.  I used just enough clamping pressure to keep the voltage reg in place and to firmly seat the Click Bonds.  I then worked the glass all around to ensure it was laid up well against the F22 surface.  Since there was a small gap between the Click Bond studs and backside of the voltage reg, I pressed popsicle sticks in-between the voltage reg and the glass.

As a point of note, the reason why I’m mounting the voltage reg at this point is simply due to the better access I have without the right sidewall in place.  I had originally wanted to accomplish this before either side wall was in place, although admittedly it wouldn’t have been that much more difficult to mount if the walls were in place.  But the access provided without the side wall in place did make the install easier, and makes the post cure glass trim a lot easier on the right side as compared to the left.

Voltage Reg mounting with ClickBonds

I then started working on the right nose side wall.  The right side has an extra element that must be dealt with: the 2 large power wires that traverse the fuselage from the battery back to the starter & firewall.  Since space is really tight in the nose, and especially along the sidewal adjacent to the rudder pedal, I really needed to figure out the placement of these power cables, mainly to know where to embed the Rivnuts for the Adel clamps.

I measured the diameter of the big power cables at .420″.  I then found a quick substitute for checking the spacing with an air house that measured .460″ in diameter, allowing a bit of extra diameter for some wiggle room.

Air hose as test big power cables

My initial placement of the pair of big power cables was about mid-point up of the sidewall depression, but in the end, due to spacing and clearance with rudder pedal when fully depressed, I will have to run the cables about 1.5″ up from the floor pan.

Checking power wire clearance

Later in the evening I pulled the peel ply and razor trimmed the voltage reg Click Bond mount layup as best I could with the razor knife.  Tomorrow I’ll hit it with the Fein saw to clean up the lower edges of overhanging glass.  I’ll also have to grind down about 0.1″ of each Click Bond overhanging the top & bottom edges of F22.

Voltage regulator ClickBonds glassed

After cleaning up the mounting base a bit, I temporarily remounted the voltage reg to check the fit & appearance.

Voltage Regulator Mounted on F22

•••

21 December 2015 — When I was brushing up on brake line fittings, tubing, flaring and the like in Tony Bengelis’ books, Firewall Forward, and Tony Bengelis on Engines, I noted that he noted that there seems to be a number of “insignificant” things (my paraphrasing) that we overlook in the build until we get to them.  Probably natural, and perhaps less costly in the long run since far less money is wasted on buying things based on future prognostications.

This all affected me yesterday in a real way.  As I was trying to “simply” figure out what electrical components would reside in the nose battery compartment, and the configuration, placement, fitting of such components, I was of course referring back to my electrical diagrams.  I pulled out my lighting systems diagram.  It was old, outdated and not representative of the components I have on hand.  I updated it with my chicken scratchings.  Then I referred to my primary electrical system diagram, adding a ton more chicken scratchings and notes to the pre-existing myriad of handwritten notes.  And when I say myriad, I really mean A LOT!

If you’ll note the trend, I had had enough.  I was fed up with working off of old wiring diagrams.  How old?  My primary electrical system diagram was dated Jan 2014… almost 2 years old!  I had to remedy this.  I fired up my CAD program and spent a good 3-4 hours updating four electrical diagrams in my wire book.

In my mind, I think many could claim that clearly the wiring diagram is not an overly tangible thing right now in the build considering I haven’t even finished construction on many major parts of the aircraft.  What updating those diagrams did was give me better clarity for figuring out what was going where, and why.  Again, IMO, with so little space available for the amount of stuff I’m cramming into this bird, combined with the issues that plastic birds are prone to have with those nasty little electrons, not to mention RF monsters just waiting to get nasty in our headsets, I’m really trying to optimize my electrical system as best possible.

The last thought I had on this was when I had finally decided to mount the battery buss on the aft side of Napster vs. in the battery compartment.  After I checked the fit and mocked up the buss and the relay to see where they should go, I spent at least a half an hour figuring out the hardware to use to mount the damn things!  To me, this is the stuff Tony is talking about.  A half hour sorting through screws and bolts and washers just to figure out WHAT I NEED TO ORDER!   . . . amazing!  Again, this is not stuff that comes in that giant crate sitting in your driveway, pre-configured, pre-designed and just waiting for you to mount item A to pre-drilled panel B, with screw C, washers D & E, with nut F.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Good times!

(I also spent a good hour consolidating and organizing my electrical parts containers… also something LONG overdue!)

•••

23 December 2015 — I started today by prepping the Battery Buss & the E-Buss control relay mount pad layup that I did last night.  I’ll tell you, this small stuff is the stuff that turns into time busters, since there’s so many little steps.  And at the risk of sounding obnoxiously repetitive, that’s why I want to knock it out during the build –as well as for component planning purposes– so that I don’t end up with a completed airframe with no idea what I’m putting where!

Battery Buss & Relay mount pad

Clearly I’ve been giving my electrical system a fair amount of attention.  The main effort here with this mounting pad was to get the battery buss on the aft side of Napster (the F1-3 bulkhead) to minimize the number of wires going through Napster.  In addition, with the battery buss installed, I get a much clearer picture of where my holes need to go for the multitude of wire heading to the north end of the nose.

To get a jump on my electrical system, I went ahead and wired up the foundational wire runs between A) the battery contactor & the battery buss, B) the E-bus controlling relay to the battery buss/switch/E-Bus.

The work on the Battery Bus area included labeling the buss and the wires, crimping on the correct terminals, and confirming wire sizes and wire lengths.  Speaking of wire size, I committed a sin against Bob Nuckolls’ teachings since after reviewing my electrical wiring requirements I finally realized that I have a lot of long 14 AWG wire runs.  The feed from the Battery Buss to E-Bus is ID’d as a 14 ga wire, but since I had an extra 10 ft or so of 12 ga red wire, I used that instead.  That frees up my 14 ga wires for the really long runs where it would be a heck of a lot heavier to sub a higher gauge wire for the length of the fuselage, compared to the 2-3′ that I just did.

Below is the Battery Buss ATC fuse holder (bottom) and the B&C S704-1 relay mounted above the buss.  The large red wire heading back toward F22 is the power wire from the relay to the E-Bus, which is normally unused unless the scenario I described last night plays out where the main alternator is cooked, fried or somehow otherwise inop.

The white wire on the bottom center post of the battery buss is the 10 ga power feed wire connecting to the battery contactor just on the other (fwd) side of Napster.  This white 10 ga power wire will traverse Napster through one of the 2-3 holes that will all get drilled either below or to the right side of this new mounting pad.

Also, just an FYI for those folks not familiar with this system.  The Battery Bus is so named because it is the only buss that is always hot with live power.

Battery Buss & Relay mounted on pad

[Operational Note: As per discussion and recommendation by Bob Nuckolls after he assessed my electrical system design, I am currently NOT using the S704-1 relay shown above to control the battery bus feed to the E-Bus when the main bus power is off line.  I do still have the S704-1 relay mounted here, but now it’s being used to control & power the heated pitot tube.]

•••

24 December 2015 — Today I test fitted the main power cables in order to finalize the locations of the cable holes transiting from the NG30 side of Napster into the battery compartment.  I wanted to get these holes drilled before I installed & laid up the floor plans in the battery compartment.

Main power cable pair test fitting

I then drilled the holes for the main power cables through Napster (not shown), and built the main 6 AWG cable that powers the Main Bus (connecting it to the battery contactor).

I started by printing out the labels for the 6 AWG main bus power cable, and also the labels for the 8 AWG cable that connects the starter to the starter contactor in the engine compartment.

Bigger wire labels

Below is a shot of the 6 AWG main buss power cable that I constructed to finalize the angle and location of the holes to be drilled for this 6 AWG main buss power cable, and the primary ground cable (black cable below) that will be paired up with the power buss cable, both coming from my electric components “tree” –again, I gave it the officious moniker of “Triparagon”– to the battery compartment.  This pair of power cables will enter the battery compartment through one of three holes that will be drilled for cable/wire runs. Actually, at least one, and maybe even 2 of these holes will technically be a pair of holes, one for each cable.  The holes will be a work in progress so it depends on how the cables & wires actually fit.

Main buss power cable

•••

26 December 2015 — This morning I printed out the 1/2″ big labels for the black panel ground cable above, and also for the big yellow power wires that will run the length of the fuselage.

BIG wire labels

I also printed off one label for the big battery cross-connect cable that provides the power to the battery contactor.  (Later on, after mocking all the nose battery compartment components up I just couldn’t make this cable work.  Since it’s “technically” supposed to be 6″ long, and it will be more like 11-12″ long, I’m upgrading the cable to a bigger 2/0 AWG cable to allow for the impedance from the extra cable length.  I ordered the new cable this evening).

Main power connect (will get swapped out)

I messed around with the landing light to get an idea of how to mount it.  The landing light is an AeroLED MicroSun light that includes the wig wag feature. I bent the mount (that I bought separately) so that it positioned the light at an 11.4° down angle as shown below:

Landing light mount angle: 11.4 deg down

This is the crux of what I was after by messing with the landing light & the pitot tube at this juncture: the clearance & space between the pitot tube and landing light, and of course getting a handle on the wire runs for both of these components.

Spacing between lanidng light & pitot tube

Next, in preparing to cut the foam panels for the battery compartment, I wanted to get all the electrical components placed & configured.  To do this, I had to know exactly where my wire/cable runs would terminate.

I started with the B-hole (vs the A-hole . . . haha!  Some seriously LOL right now!)  On my diagram for the wire runs that I posted a few days ago, I showed that I was going to run everything through 2 holes in Napster: hole A & hole B.  Well, that morphed into 3 holes, A, B & C.  The hole I started drilling here is the new hole B.

After taping some stuff up to keep it from getting all dusty, I started with a small pilot hole from the aft side of Napster.

Main panel power +/-

And here it is on the front side of Napster.

Spotter hole

Knowing what my required diameter was, as well as my grommet size, I used a 1-1/8″ spade bit to drill this hole.

"She's Ready Captain!"

Here’s one-eyed evil Napster! [He really started getting so mouthy that I ended up sockin’ him one!] . . .

One-eyed Napster

And here’s black-eyed evil Napster!  Ha! [Or maybe the Evil Borg Napster, with that tube sticking out of the side of his cheek!]

Black-eyed Evil Napster

I then ran the main buss power cable and panel ground cable through my freshly mounted grommet.

Main buss power & panel ground cables

Below is a shot showing the proximity of the panel ground cable to the negative battery terminal.  Yes, as with many items on this plane, I bought this cable once I had “finalized” the primary components of my electrical system (Yeah, right!).  I found a way to use it though and keep both the power and ground legs to the panel just about as short as you can possibly get in a Long-EZ, barring mounting these on the aft side of F1-3 (Napster).

Proximity of panel ground to battery post

Here’s “the Bridge” that is made up of the main buss power & panel ground cables that will be supported on each side with an Adel clamp.  In addition, I’ll be using a high end type of shrink tubing that will really add rigidity and strength to this “cable crossing.”

Main Buss, E-Buss & Panel Ground Cables

As you can see, the 12 AWG red E-buss power wire coming out of the Battery Buss Relay (mounted on the aft side of Napster on the right in the above pic) will jump aboard with these 2 big cables coming out of the battery compartment.  Currently, these 3 cables/wire will be all that is in this run and held in place by these specific Adel clamps (3 total Adel clamps within the NG30 area).

[Operational Note: As per discussion and recommendation by Bob Nuckolls after he assessed my electrical system design, I am currently NOT using the S704-1 relay shown above to control the battery bus feed to the E-Bus when the main bus power is off line.  I do still have the S704-1 relay mounted here, but now it’s being used to control & power the heated pitot tube.]

Main Buss, E-Buss & Panel Ground Cables

I then started in on the really Big power cables that run the length of the fuselage.  I took the two 1/2″ holes that I had drilled previously and cut out the center divider and made them into one big hole.  (Yes, this is the “Big A-hole” … haha!).

I spent a good half hour using my Perma-Grit tools and my Dremel Tool to get this thing into a big enough oval so that it would accept the grommet that I bought at an auto parts store tonight.  (BTW, I had to modify both of these grommets to get them to fit.  I widened the groove on the top grommet for hole B by about 0.060″, and on this one I did a little bit of creative reshaping as well, mainly on the edge that mated with the interior side of the hole).

Hole & grommet for big power wires

Here’s a shot of both “grommetted” holes tonight.

"Holy" Napster!

I took the pic on the right first, but it’s a tad blurry, so I backed up a bit to get it to focus better.  Clearly I decided to post both pics for your viewing pleasure!

Hole & grommet for big power wires

Hole & grommet for big power wires

[Operational Note: As per discussion and recommendation by Bob Nuckolls after he assessed my electrical system design, I am currently NOT using the S704-1 relay shown above to control the battery bus feed to the E-Bus when the main bus power is off line.  I do still have the S704-1 relay mounted here, but now it’s being used to control & power the heated pitot tube.]

I then ran the big power cables through their Adel clamps & through the hole & grommet to ensure they fit.  In addition, I was also looking to ensure that they played well with the other wires that have to traverse Napster via the same hole (I’m talking about the Battery Buss power lead & the SD-8 backup alternator power lead … which is fed by one of the leads coming off the inline fuse in the pic below).

Finally, please note the faint horizontal pencil line in the pic below.  This line represents the minimum install height of the battery compartment floor pan.  Clearly I’m going to have to dish out a small area to make allowance for the big power cables and the grommet.  THIS is exactly why I’m getting this stuff situated, so I can plan out how I need to configure and build the battery compartment bottom & side foam panels.

Big wires through Napster

As you can also see, I labeled the top big cable (I’m only using one big cable folded in half for these test fittings, so clearly I’m not going to mark the other side).  I thought I’d get a long view shot of the cables in place against the nose side wall.

Long view of big power wires

And a close up shot of the big power cables traversing Napster’s domain.

Aft Napster view of big power wires

I took this shot more from the perspective of what would be seen when the nose hatch is open.

Side shot of big power wires

I played around with the 30 amp inline fuse that sits at the head of the power line for the B&C SD-8 backup alternator (the PM alternator mounted to the engine vacuum pad).

After deciding on a final location, I drilled a hole for mounting it.  However, I didn’t actually mount it until I finished drilling the bulkhead hole C, as you can see in the right pic below.

Wires galore!

Backup alternator fuse mounted & new hole!

Here’s a closer shot of both the new hole C and the mounted 30A inline fuse.  Hole C is where the majority of wires from the battery compartment and nose tip will exit points north and head back to the vast collection of electrons that will reside in, around & near the Triparagon (electrical component “tree” feeding nearly every device in the aircraft).

Backup alternator fuse mounted & new hole!

I drilled hole C exactly 9/16″ in diameter since I do not have a grommet for it on hand, but this hole diameter is exactly what’s required for the grommets I have Teed up & ready to order from McMaster-Carr.

Last hole in Napster

I learned that I’m going to need to position the battery contactor in a slightly different place, and in a slightly different orientation, to greatly facilitate all the power feeds to & from it.

•••

27 December 2015 — Here are a couple shots showing the dished out areas of the floor pan for both the big wires and the inline fuse, which I mounted to check fit.

Tweaking right floor pan

Tweaking right floor pan

•••

28 December 2015 — Today I spent a good 45 minutes cutting the glass from the bulkhead cable access holes that where drilled through Napster on the right side.  On the hole for the big cables especially I had to do a fair amount of trimming and sanding to get the grommet to fit.  Actually, I also had to trim a little bit more off of the grommet for it to fit.

I then remounted the 30A inline fuse to ensure it fit, which it did fine.

Checking component fit after floor inst

In addition to simply remounting the inline fuse, I quickly set the battery in place to double check that the clearance was good between the two.

Checking component fit after floor install

After cutting the right side panel and sanding it to fit, I mocked up both panels to verify the fit of the battery.

Checking right sidewall & battery fit

Checking right sidewall & battery fit

I then got to work on finalizing the installation location & orientation of the battery contactor. As I’ve said literally a gazillion times, there is not a lot of usable space in the nose, and the battery compartment is big enough for all the stuff I’m putting in there . . . just barely.  Also, to atone for my sins of dishing out the NG30 compartment nose side panels, I’m leaving these battery compartment side panels straight, primarily since I have no reason or requirement to dish them out.

Testing different orientations for contactor

After playing around with the contactor positioning a bit, which included a constant in & out with the main battery, I figured out where it needed to go.  Below is a shot of the final contactor installation spot.  BTW, if you’re connoting aloud to the computer that I clearly have no idea how to install a contactor if I’m mounting it sideways, then I’m happy to report that that’s exactly one of the primary reasons why I’m using the Gigavac GX-11 battery contactor.  Not only can it be mounted in literally any position, but it also consumes less than a 1/10th of an amp to keep it closed (vs the normal 1 Amp draw).

Found a spot for the contactor!

This wasn’t my first choice or preferred orientation of the contactor, but it will work fine.  It did cause me to have to bring the big power cable forward and loop it back in order to get the cable’s connector angle correct.  This of course mandated securing the long length of cable to the sidewall.  Another Adel clamp.

Determining contactor final mount spot

The contactor mounting location exercise, and subsequent requirement for an Adel clamp, got me to assess my cable management requirements.  I would be bringing wires in from the very front of the nose, from 2 lights, a heated pitot tube, and the gear back-up battery, in addition to mounting my TCW IBBS on the left side of the battery compartment.  These all add up to a fair number of wires in & around the battery compartment.  Clearly it would be grossly irresponsible of me not to keep these wires under wraps (pardon the pun!).

So, as I was prepping the left side panel for its install onto the nose, I added another Rivnut to the lower side panel.

Then, to get the orientation of the Adel clamps aligned parallel to the wire runs on the front & aft side of the battery, I drilled 3 Rivnut mounting holes into the edges of the BC1s where I had determined that I would need them.

Drilled edges of BC1s for RivNuts

I then started working on the battery contactor mount.  I first cut off the corners of the 1/4″ Finnish Birch plywood (same that’s used for the firewall) mount in which I have the M5 Tee Nuts installed.  I then used the plywood contactor mount as the template to cut out a 1/4″ deep cutout in the foam sidewall.

Contactor mounting plate cutout

Once the cutout was good, I cleaned it out, whipped up some flox and mounted the battery contactor mounting plate in place.

Floxing in battery contactor mount

•••

29 December 2015 —Today, after cleaning up the right battery compartment side panel layup, I test mounted the battery contactor.

Battery contactor screwed to mount

And then test fitted the right battery compartment side wall with the contactor mounted in place.

Checking battery contactor fit

Checking battery contactor fit

I drilled out the holes in the contactor mounting plate and then mounted the contactor.  Before mounting the contactor I terminated & labeled the 30 Amp inline fuse wire and the control leads on the contactor.

In addition, I attached every wire & cable to the lower terminal that will actually be mounted in the final configuration to ensure that all the wire runs are good.  The only thing I could improve upon here is to cut the lead wire form the 30A inline fuse down an inch or two.

R side wall glassed & contactor mounted

I then checked the fit of the battery with the contactor bolted into place.  I was very pleased with the clearance between battery & contactor since it was even about 0.070″ more than I thought it would be.

Testing battery & contactor fit

The space on the right side of the battery is a bit tight due to the 3 big cables all trying to get through that narrow space: the 2 big power cables going to/from the firewall and the main power lead from the battery to the battery contactor.  It’s definitely crowded, but not unworkable or impossible.

contactor mounted & battery fits

Here’s a shot of the cable & wire runs to/from the battery contactor.

Battery contact mounted

•••

27 January 2016 — Before the canard went back up on the wall for storage, I wanted to terminate the canard VOR/LOC & glide slope antenna cables with connectors and check the VSWR.

Terminating canard antenna leads

The first step in terminating the antenna connectors was to get down to the center conductor of the RG-58 cable by removing 1/8″ off the end of each cable.

Terminating canard antenna leads

I then crimped on the center coax pins using the RCT-2 crimper (B&C) shown above.

Terminating canard antenna leads

I then slipped on the ferrules.

Terminating canard antenna leads

I then stripped away another 1/2″ of the outer jacket using a coax cable stripper.  This exposed the cable shield braiding.

Terminating canard antenna leads

I then slid the main connectors into place, slid the ferrules forward over the braiding and then crimped the connector assemblies into place.

Terminated VOR/LOC & GS antenna leads

I then checked the VSWR of the VOR/LOC antenna using the MFJ-259B Antenna Analyzer, which read 2.2.  A VSWR value of 3 or under is acceptable, so I’m very pleased with 2.2 VSWR value.  Unfortunately, since the frequency of the glide slope antenna is in the 330 MHz range I couldn’t check the VSWR for that antenna on this meter, so I’ll test that later.

[Note: If you’re wondering what the heck VSWR is, check out Jim Weir’s article in the Dec 2013 issue of “Kitplanes”… where he explains it very well.  Basically, Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR) shows how much energy that is sent to the antenna that’s off-resonance to the frequency actually returns back up the transmission line to the transmitter (radio) inhibiting efficient transmitting power usage.  A theoretical VSWR of 1 would mean 100% of the radio’s power is being transmitted.  A 2.2 VSWR means that on my VOR/LOC antenna I could theoretically transmit out with only 14% of the power reflected back to the transmitter (bad) while 86% of the power would get transmitted (good).  A 3 VSWR means 75% of the transmitted power is good (meaning a 6 watt radio would only realize 4.5 watts out).  Obviously the efficiency of your antennas directly effects the actual wattage available for transmitting.  Although the VOR/LOC antenna only receives, I wanted to check its VSWR to get a general idea of the state of my embedded antenna connections, and brush up on my VSWR testing capabilities.]

VOR/LOC antenna VSWR test 2.2…very good!

•••

February 2016 — I thought I’d add this pic to show you all what the battery strap for securing the main battery in place will look like.  This is an initial sample that strapworks.com sent me to finalize the custom strap that I’m having them make for me.

Battery mounting strap test strip

•••

14 July 2016 — I’ve spent a few hours over the last couple of days updating my Control Stick Switches wiring diagram (#14) which institutes a major redesign on my control stick switchology. This is of course is the first draft with all the foundational components in place.  It still needs much refining.  For example, I still need to design & emplace a switch into the mix that will allow me to disable the GIB control stick switches for those times when I’m hauling kids (or Marco!) in the back, who may be just a tad too inquisitive and want to get handsy with the buttons! (sorry for the poor pic quality…)

Stick grips switch wiring

I would say one of the big electrical system breakthroughs I achieved over the past week is taking the stock ON-NONE-(ON) toggle switch located just to the left of the china hat switch on the Infinity stick grip, and making it work to suite my design goals.  I wanted it to control my COM1 ↔ COM2 radio swap [COM1 = Garmin GTN650 & COM2 = GRT HXr EFIS-controlled Trig TY-91] and wasn’t past swapping out this switch if I needed to, but I definitely wanted to make it work if possible.  In my monkey brain I intuitively “knew” when I bought these sticks from JD that I should be able to design what I wanted circuit-wise.

With that extra momentary ON position when the switch is toggled aft, I wanted a way to use that switch for controlling the frequency flip-flop for BOTH radios, as well as the COM1 ↔ COM2 radio swap.  This is where digging into the installation manuals and discussing with GRT really helped, since there is no remote freq flipflop feature on the GRT HXr (this is accomplished with a button on the right side of the EFIS).  Since the inherent features of the GRT HXr EFIS removed the remote freq flip-flop feature off this switch’s ‘to-do’ list, I was then left with my COM1 ↔ COM2 radio swap requirement, plus controlling ONLY the COM1 freq flip-flop.

Infinity Stick Switch

As a point of clarification, remember that Garmin doesn’t allow third-party vendors (AKA GRT) to remotely control their radio functionality through a separate component like an EFIS (yes, there are remote functions via switches/buttons and some SL30/SL40 command features, but not full control of the GT650/GNS430 communications functions). Thus, my setup is the Garmin GTN650 (COM1) as a separate radio controlled totally outside of the GRT realm, and then a remote Trig TY-91 transceiver (COM2) controlled via the GRT HXr EFIS.  The sound and headset features of both of these radios are controlled via a Dynon Intercom.  It is the COM1, COM2 select feature of the Dynon Intercom that the stick mounted toggle is controlling.  The COM1 freq flip-flop is wired directly to the GTN650.

Utilizing a relay, my design functions such that COM1 is always the default com radio unless the switch is pushed forward, thus driving the relay switch off the N/C (normally closed) COM1 side to the N/O (normally open) COM2 position.  Since I control the COM2 radio freq flip-flop on the EFIS there’s no issue with not having the COM2 flip-flop feature on the stick toggle. Obviously, in the default COM1 position –which I’ll be using 80-90% of the time– engaging the toggle switch in the MOMentary down position has no effect on COM1 ↔ COM2 radio selection.

Ok, so I’m extremely pleased with this setup since it perfectly matches the capabilities of my planned panel components.  One issue resolved, 287 more to go . . . . ha!

In the pic below you can see my inventory and ID’ing ALL the switches I have on hand. Since I had some extra switches that I got from JD when I bought the Infinity stick grips, I was checking out the weight of the larger Carling (B&C) switches vs the smaller toggles. If you’re curious: 3 B&C switches weigh around 0.18 lbs vs. 3 mini-toggles weigh about 0.04 lbs.  As you can see, I am reassessing my panel switchology and trying to attain some weight savings where I can.  I will say that using mini-toggles adds time and complexity to the electrical system build since those switches must be soldered in vs the nice FastOn connector tabs incorporated on the B&C switches.

Switch inventory & planning

I also knocked out some of the more background tasks for both the electrical system and in prep for getting back to the build.  I made a run to Harbor Freight and stocked up on some supplies.  And as I was out and about I got a battery for my ever-trusty & ever-present epoxy-laden build WATCH, and got it back online.  And I stopped by FedEx to buy a long 12 ft length of 48″ high plotter paper to lay out and start designing my wiring harness in real dimensions, later on when time allows.

Finally, I spent about 3 hours last night finding/researching/purchasing replacement mini toggle switches, and submitting a decent-sized order with Mouser.  These orders bring me current for all the outstanding bits & pieces (resistors, relays, AMP CPC connector, switches, pins, sockets, etc.) that I need up to this point for my electrical system build.

•••

21 July 2016 — Since I’m making the throttle handle removable I’ll be running all the wires through a 24-pin AMP CPC connector–the same style connector that I used on the nose gear actuator connectors where I swapped out the stock Molex connectors.  On the throttle handle I’ll be wiring all the switches with new wiring and swapping out the old stock circular Amphenol Mil-Spec connector with the much lighter and cheaper TE Connectivity AMP CPC connectors.

24-pin AMP CPC connector vs old

After removing all the existing electrical potting material and then stripping all the throttle handle switches of the myriad of resistors and capacitors, which created a near-impenetrable labyrinth around the back side of each switch, I was able to tone all the switches out.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had mistakenly ID’d the bottom toggle switch as a SPST switch rather than the DPDT switch that it actually is.  I had already targeted an $80 OTTO replacement switch for this position, but after this latest round of investigation I can belay that order and use the stock switch for my Landing Brake!

With my throttle switches clearly identified, and the wiring to & from each switch, I could then marry up my initial throttle switch diagram with the 24-pin AMP CPC connector and finalize the throttle handle’s P4 connector pinout diagram.

 

As for wiring diagram 13 depicting the wiring for all the 6 throttle handle-mounted switches, below left you can see the initial draft versus draft #3 in the right pic below.

Throttle Handle Switches

Throttle Handle Switch Wiring via P4

I knew that the top left throttle handle switch that was clearly designed for a specific F-15 system was not going to work for my application.  This switch is nearly heavier than all the other switches combined and in my estimation is probably a good 30% of the stock weight of the throttle handle as it was shipped to me.  I pulled this switch and then spent a fair amount of time identifying its replacement.

Removed F-15 throttle handle switch

And here’s what I came up with: the OTTO T5 mini trim switch.  The more complete description is a commercial grade 4-way plus center pushbutton trim switch.  The pic below is a stock photo off the Mouser website.  In actuality, the switch I ordered does have the “stadium” grips on the top as this pic shows, but it differs in that my switch is gray and it is press fit vs. threaded mounting.  If you’re curious about the switch assignments, here they are:

  1. UP – Trio Autopilot Fuel Information Screen Cycle
  2. DOWN – AFP30 Air Fuel Data Computer Screen Cycle
  3. LEFT – GRT HXr EFIS Page Flip
  4. RIGHT – Garmin GTN650 NAV Source Select
  5. CENTER – Garmin GTN650 CDI Source Select

OTTO T5 Mini Trim Switch

As for the other Throttle Handle Switches, here’s the layout:

#1 – Outboard Front – 5-Position Mini Switch (described above)
#2 – Inboard Front – COM PTT
#3 – Inboard Side Top – COM1 Freq Flip-Flop
#4 – Inboard Side 2nd Down – Nose Gear UP/DN
#5 – Inboard Side 3rd Down – A. Remote Start Arm   B. Trig TT22 XPDR Ident
#6 – Inboard Side Bottom – Landing Brake UP/DN

Throttle Handle Switches

Alright, moving on!

As I was reviewing the P-connectors pinout diagrams, I set about to confirm some info on my P3 (Trio autopilot pitch servo) & P7 (Trio autopilot roll servo) connectors.  For some reason our good friends building non-TSO’d products for our birds typically use auto grade Molex connectors.  Being a true disciple of Bob Nuckolls, and having had other discussions with some smart bubbas on this topic, I am simply (and clearly) not a fan of Molex connectors.  Especially for the autopilot roll servo which will be located on the back of the center section spar in the engine compartment.  I want more environmental protection for this connector.  So, my dear friends, I was confirming the wire colors and pinouts on the P7 connector with the Trio install manual–since I had just ordered a reverse sex 4-pin sealed connector (so that it was physically impossible to connect up either servo in the wrong spot) on my last Mouser order– AND that’s when a disturbing question popped up concerning both the P3 connector, and the pitch servo.

You see, I had incorrectly ordered a 4-pin connector for the pitch servo in my haste to get all the required electrical pieces parts in hand.  It didn’t require any O-ring seals since it was in the avionics bay, so I simply pulled the trigger.  But while reviewing the Trio autopilot installation manual wiring diagram, I realized I had forgotten about the 2 extra wires coming from the pitch servo for the Auto Trim feature.  But why had I forgotten these wires?  I then pulled the pitch servo out and –what?!– only 4 wires!  Hmmm, maybe they were tucked inside the servo since this was an “optional” (key word here folks) feature.  I pulled the cover off the servo, and no joy.  There was not an extra pair of wires or connection points inside this servo.  Ok, what’s going on here?

I went to Trio’s website, and I still got the impression that the Auto Trim feature was a standard feature of Trio’s Gold Standard servos and merely labeled as “optional” since the builder had to add a relay, bridge rectifier and wire it all up for it to work.

Trio Autopilot Pitch Servo

I called Chuck at Trio to ask him about this latest puzzling revelation.  He and the Trio gang were just getting ready to head out the door to Oshkosh, but he took the time to have a detailed conversation on the status of my pitch servo.  So here’s the deal: A few years ago the Auto Trim feature was an actual priced option for the Trio Gold Standard servo. However, they decided to simplify production and simply make the Auto Trim a standard feature on the pitch servo, yet still optional as to if the builder/owner wanted to utilize it or not.  Since this was my impression all along, it never entered my brain as a data point when I bought these servos from a fellow homebuilder (Rans S7 I believe) off of Ebay.  If you recall, I had the servos sent straight to Trio who made one engineering upgrade, ops checked the servos and then sent them on to me with the install kit required for a Long-EZ. All was good!  Or, so I thought.  Hmmm…

Trio Autopilot Pitch Servo

Okay, lesson learned!  The money I saved on buying these servos off of Ebay has been reduced to virtually nil now that I’ll be sending the pitch servo back to Chuck, along with a couple hundred bucks, to have the Auto Trim feature installed.  All in all, no big deal.  I’m just glad I caught it early on.  And I guess technically this was two Oops since I also had to spend $10 to include all the pieces to make up a 7-pin AMP CPC connector on my last Mouser order!  [Note: I’m using a 7-pin connector since they don’t make a 6-pin.]

•••

12 August 2016 — Today I got my Trio Pro Pilot autopilot pitch servo back from Chuck at Trio Avionics.  As he said he was going to do he upgraded my pitch servo with the Auto Trim feature.  And in short order too!

Here’s the pitch servo before I sent it to Trio.  Note that there’s only 4 wires coming out of the servo.

Trio Autopilot Pitch Servo

And here’s the pitch servo after the Auto Trim feature was added.  Note that there are now 6 wires coming out of the servo, the 2 extra obviously being for the Auto Trim feature.

Trio autopilot pitch servo

As an aside to this story, the US Postal Service gets a ding (pardon the pun) against their service in my book, considering that as overpacked as I had that servo in the box that Trio had sent out my autopilot control head to me, the Post Office still managed to crush the box and damage the bottom plate of the servo!  Luckily there was not such damage on the return trip.  Here’s the damaged bottom plate that Chuck threw in the box when he shipped the servo back to me:

damaged pitch servo plate

Still, no worries and all is good.  One more item off the list and I can move on to the actual build . . .

•••

20 August 2016 — During the last week I have been doing some odd & end stuff on the build, much of it stuff I was never able to really put together before since I didn’t have all the pieces parts in the same location.

Canopy Latch: A note that I’ve had for a while in the middle of my electrical switch diagram states to account for the panel space required by the canopy latch arm that sticks out horizontally into the space near the throttle handle.  I became acutely aware of how much space the canopy latch was really taking up when I sat in my buddy Marco’s Long-EZ specifically to note clearances, required reach to cockpit items/switches, and simple ergonomics.  It emphasized that the note on my switch diagram truly had merit, and that I must indeed account for this most necessary but intrusive component.

Thus, back at my hacienda, I finally got around to pulling out the EZ-Rotary Canopy Latch kit that I bought from Jack Wilhelmson (eznoselift.com).  I first (re-)inventoried all the parts to ensure I hadn’t lost anything over the years.  I then did a quick (re-)review of the installation procedures to get a feel of what I was up against.   My main current concern was of course the clearance with the instrument panel, and luckily with this setup the bearing block hangs down from underneath the longeron, and not straight out from the panel, thus giving me back the 3-4 square inches that I wouldn’t have been able to use on my instrument panel if I had installed the plans version of the canopy latch.

Pitot Tube Electronics & Components: Starting back in the beginning of 2013, my buddy Marco and I started brainstorming on a heated pitot tube design for our Long-EZs. Recently, Marco has been doing some truly amazing work on the electronics that drives the pitot tube heat.  In preparation for the electrical components that he’s developed for the pitot tube, I recently purchased another airspeed switch, and a new 3-position ON/OFF switch that has a momentary ON position in the farthest up point to reset the electronics if need be.  Marco has been detailing a lot of this on his phenomenal blog, What have I gotten myself into!

Control Stick Button Role Refinement & Swap: While down in Virginia Beach getting my first Long-EZ ride from my Marco, he at one point recommended that I swap my alarm momentary shutoff (left side of stick) with my A/P disengage & Pilot Controlled Steering (PCS) button (upper right of stick) on my control stick.  Well, I have to admit that I was a little resistant at first, but after pondering the idea and getting into the Trio Avionics Autopilot manual (and really finding out the advantages of using PCS), I actually had an epiphany while driving home one evening: since the top right button is the hardest to reach on the stick, then why not use it to control something that I will use very occasionally in the air, and almost exclusively on the ground.  Whereas with my new found understanding of PCS, I am confident that I will use that much more while flying.  Thus, I wanted the A/P button in a much more user friendly place on the stick, so of course I swapped them… which is simply code for I changed the CAD drawings for both the buttons’ electrical wiring connections.  Nonetheless, thanks again Marco for setting me straight!  ha!

Here’s a pic identifying my current Infinity control stick button & switch assignments.

Infinity Stick Switch Assignments

AG6 Warning Annunciator (#2): As I was getting a bunch of these ‘final’ items squared away before jumping headlong back into my build, I submitted parts orders with B&C, Mouser & Aircraft Spruce.  Part of my order with Mouser was a direct result of my discussion with Rich from AircraftExtras.com, who gave me a bunch of great info on the AG6 warning annunciator.  To drive a myriad of warnings that would normally require an LED on the panel, I ended up calling a number of vendors to confirm the correct resistor values & wiring circuitry to use with their specific products.  Once I had the recommended resistor values in hand, I fired off an order to Mouser for all of them.  That also helped me to finalize which of my components would/could utilize the AG6 to annunciate an alarm condition.  One thing was certainly clear after I figured out what-was-going-where for my alarm annunciations, and that was that I didn’t have enough “where” to go to!  I needed another AG6 to handle the increased number of components connected to the AG6(s) to annunciate their alarm conditions, so I ordered a second one.

AG6 Warning Annunciator

The missing 2-Amp Circuit Breaker!  One day last week as I was updating my electrical system diagrams I ran across the 2-Amp inline fuse for the SD-8 backup alternator activation switch on the circuit diagram.  As I was assessing that switch specifically, for some reason the inline fuse didn’t seem like the right fit.  I pulled up the B&C install manual and sure enough it showed a 2-Amp circuit breaker, NOT an inline fuse! I then went back through the last couple of versions of Bob Nuckoll’s Z-13/8 system architecture diagrams and…NO inline fuse!  “Huh?!” sez I, “Where did I get the idea for placing a 2-amp inline fuse there?”  Well, I finally found it in an old version of the system diagram that I had started with back in 2012! I guess it pays to review, or, well, it actually costs money since I had shell out some more to buy a 2-Amp Circuit Breaker.  Regardless, I’m just glad I found my oversight & corrected it ‘early’ on.  By the way, this scenario is exactly why I’ve been critically assessing literally every component in my electrical system!

Electrical & Aircraft Component Weight:  Upon receiving the new 2 amp circuit breaker and AG6 warning annunciator I decided it was time to spend a good hour to update my estimated aircraft weight worksheet.  I added all the new components, eliminated old ones, and weighed a number of components that until previously I only had factory listed or estimated placeholders for.  When I finished, my Long-EZ had gained 10 lbs, with its new estimated weight still just under my max goal weight of 1,000 lbs… but just barely! And by barely I mean less than a pound under.  The good news is that I have a lot better idea of what is going into my airplane and now have hard weight data vs. estimated/unknown data variables.  Obviously, since I now have a lot of this stuff on hand, I can get the actual weight of each item.  Moreover, I have padding built into the weigh figures for the electrical system, avionics/equipment, and main airframe components.  Thus, I suspect to be somewhere near 1,000 lbs. for my final weight, ± about 30 lbs. (yes, yes, more likely plus than minus!)

Integrated Backup Battery System (IBBS) model selection:  One thing that I did in the planning of my future components order is to mock up the fit of my TCW Technologies IBBS in the nose where I plan to install it.  After a discussion with Marco on the W&B on his new Long-EZ, I figured a pound of extra weight gained by moving up from the 3 amp hour IBBS unit to the 6 amp hour unit would actually be beneficially.  However, there’s just one problem with moving up to the bigger 6 AH IBBS unit: it won’t fit in my planned location!  No worries though since the original 3AH IBBS unit that I had initially decided on will work, so back to square one.  Another decision crossed off the to-do list.

•••

5 September 2016 — Today I started off by logging in the recent Mouser order that I just received.  Specifically, I figured out where a couple switches that were in that order actually went.  So I labeled a few switches and updated my panel & switch diagram.

•••

6 September 2016 — I today discovered that my UPS friends had delivered yet another Mouser order, so I logged the new parts into my spreadsheet and sorted through the new panel switches. I then identified all the new switches, labeled each one, and stowed them away with all the other switches.

An item of note that I also received today from ACS is the TCW Technologies 3-Amp hour Integrated Backup Battery System (IBBS).  After W&B discussions with Marco regarding his new Long-EZ, he had advised me to literally front load as much component weight possible into the nose region of my plane to favorable counter the sensitive rearward balance tendency of Long-EZ’s.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had originally planned to install a 3AH model IBBS since it would serve me well enough –and for the specific reason that I would be saving weight over the 6AH model.  So upon the “load the front heavy” advice I received from Marco, I assessed putting in the bigger model.  Ah, but alas, the 6AH model was physically too big to mount it where I had planned (see pic below) so I went with my original plan and pulled the trigger on the 3AH IBBS.

Testing IBBS fit

As you can see in these pics, the 3AH IBBS fits perfectly… and according to plan!

Testing IBBS fit

•••

8 September 2016 — Today I asked and got a response on question from the folks at Radenna SkyRadar.  I asked a couple of questions on their SkyRadar-DX ADS-B receiver that I’ll be using:  First, I wanted to know if I could mount the GPS antenna puck directly on top of the unit (I can!) and, second, I wanted to know if I could get a shorter GPS antenna cable (I can’t).  Alexey from Radenna explained that the long GPS cables are pretty standard, and the reason for it is to provide proper attenuation for the LNA which is inside the unit.  He also explained that it is possible to find an antenna with a shorter cable, but not in such a small form factor as the one that comes with the SkyRadar-DX.  He also provided this helpful link from MGL explaining how to coil up the GPS antenna lead.

•••

11 September 2016 — Today after my Sunday visits and watching some football I decided to work a few lingering side jobs that needed to get done.  The first item on my list was a small base tray for the battery.  I have a strap to keep the battery secured in the nose, but it still can slide just a hair from side to side.  I want to ensure the battery stays put, so I’m going to make a tray about a 1/2″ high to keep the bottom of the battery exactly where it needs to be.  And I do mean “exactly” since space is tight in the nose.

I took the battery out of the nose and removed the posts.  I then taped over the posts to keep them clear of any nasty stuff.

Prepping Battery for glass

Here’s a shot of the nose with the battery removed.

Battery Removed

I then wrapped the battery in plastic (saran) wrap, with tape over top of that.

Prepping Battery for glass

I then grabbed my Integrated Backup Battery and pretty much did the same thing.  The IBBS is item #2 on my list tonight.  I’ll be floxing the Clickbonds in place on the face of the Napster bulkhead for the IBBS to mount to.

IBBS gunk protectionPrepping for Clickbonds

After I got the IBBS protected from any potential gunky stuff, I then punched holes through the bolt holes in the flanges on each end of the IBBS box and inserted a Clickbond.  You may be able to see that I quickly ran each Clickbond along the face of my 32 grit sanding board to create some nice grooves in the metal to provide a little better gripping action for the flox.  My final prep action for the Clickbonds at this point was to hit each one with some Acetone to ensure they were spiffy clean for good adhesion for the flox, and to the bulkhead.

IBBS Clickbonds in place

With the IBBS ready to go, I then prepped the glass for the battery tray.  Since this thing isn’t going to be seen, and just needs to be reasonably strong, I went ahead and just pulled out some glass from my scrap pile.  I used about 4 pieces of BID on the first layer, overlapping about a 1/2″ on the seams, then a layer of UNI (because I have a TON of UNI scraps!) and then a final third layer of BID made up of 2 single plies simply butted up against each other at the diagonal seam.

Scrap glass-Battery tray

I then whipped up some MGS 335 epoxy and wetted out the glass.  After the glass was nice and wet all the way around, I peel plied it.  To really get the sides to stay tight against the battery, I went ahead and wrapped the edge with duct tape the entire way around the battery (sorry for the blurry pic).

Battery tray glassed

I used a small amount of the epoxy to whip up some flox and then dabbed some small blobs of it in the middle of each Clickbond, after very lightly wetting each Clickbond surface with epoxy.

Flox on Clickbonds

Here’s the initial shot of the IBBS unit getting clamped into place.

Installing IBBS Clickbonds

And here’s a few more shots of the IBBS unit clamped into place to ensure the Clickbonds cure in place.  I’ll let the flox cure overnight, and tomorrow I’ll add 2 plies of BID over the click bonds to secure them in place.

Installing IBBS ClickbondsInstalling IBBS ClickbondsInstalling IBBS Clickbonds

•••

12 September 2016 — Today was a heavy prep & work day in regards to finishing up my miscellaneous tasks from yesterday . . . so let’s get to it!

The battery tray was nice & cured this morning…

Battery tray cured

So I pulled off the peel ply, then the protective tape on the battery itself.  I then worked the battery tray off the battery.

After I got the battery tray removed (and yes, it’s a tight fit!), I then pulled the tape from inside the battery tray.

Battery tray tape removal

The result was nice in that there was no SNAFUs!

Battery tray ready to trim

I then quickly set the battery back in the tray to test out the fit… nice & snug!

Battery tray test fit: Good!

In my expert opinion (ha!) I’d say the tray looks a bit rough, so I marked it up for some trimming.

Battery tray marked for cutting

I also marked the tool box for trimming as well.

Tool box ready for trimming

I then grabbed my Fein saw, the battery tray and the tool box and took them all outside for a trim.  Here’s the result:

Battery tray & tool box trimmed

I’m really happy with the way the battery tray turned out.

Battery tray ready for install!

As for the IBBS Clickbonds, below are some shots of the IBBS being removed from the floxed-in Clickbonds.

IBBS Clickbonds floxed in placeIBBS Clickbonds floxed in place

I then sanded all around the Clickbonds and cleaned them up to ready them for the 2-ply BID layup.

IBBS Clickbonds sanded

Here’s the BID layup that extends about 1″ from each Clickbond stud.  I also peel plied the glass to give a good transition.  To make it “form fitting” for the IBBS unit, I put the pre-preg plastic back in place.

IBBS Clickbonds with 2-ply BID

I then reset the IBBS unit and clamped it back in place like I had it last night.  This will ensure that the BID immediately around the Clickbond posts lays down nice, flat & tight.

Remount IBBS for press fit Clickbonds

I then checked on the cure of the IBBS Clickbond glass.  The epoxy was pretty much cured, so I very gently popped off the IBBS unit.  Here’s the final shot of the IBBS Clickbonds glassed into place.

IBBS Clickbonds install complete

And here’s a trial mockup of the IBBS to ensure nothing is jacked up (which nothing was!) and to confirm clearance of the wiring harness & connector.

IBBS Clickbonds install complete

•••

30 September 2016 — Today I did a fair amount of research on the heating system.  That rolled into updating a few wiring diagrams to reflect the updated electrical requirements, which included: the removal of the GIB Infinity control stick, resulting in the need to update the switch diagram, and of course updating the newly created Heating System diagram (these 3 are shown below).

Updated/new wiring diagrams

•••

16 October 2016 — Today I decided to swap out the wiring connector on the Trio Pro Pilot Autopilot from a Molex connector –which by now you probably know that I don’t care for– to an AMP CPC connector.

Trio pitch servo wiring

I started by removing the individual Molex pins from the Molex connector housing.

Trio pitch servo - Molex removed

I then cut off the Molex pins from each wire.

Trio pitch servo - connectors removed

I added a couple of pieces of shrink tubing both at the strain relief point coming out of the servo housing, and another piece that will end up close to the connector.  This latter piece will not only serve to help with strain relief, but also to maintain a good bit of twist in the wires for dampening any errant electromagnetic radiation.

Trio pitch servo - prepping wires

I had spent a good half hour confirming & updating the wiring schema from the Trio Pro Pilot manual. However, I didn’t confirm my original claim of pins vs. sockets on my sheet. My bad since I went with pins here, when I should have installed sockets.

Trio pitch servo - AMP pins installed

No big deal.  Normally pins or sockets wouldn’t matter, but since my pin side connector body has a flange on it, I had originally meant for it to stay hard-mounted in the aircraft, while the servo side connector would be removable (no flange).  It will mean just a slight modification to the mount on the side wall of the fuselage, meaning although this connector will be screwed in place it will also be easily removable.  I’d much rather do that than cut off perfectly good (and crimped!) pins and waste time & money for a slight re-tweaking of the P3 connector installation.  I mean, after all, how often am I really going to be removing & installing the pitch trim servo after it’s initially installed? (not many I hope!)

Trio pitch servo AMP CPC connector

•••

29 October 2016 — Today I did get a bit done, starting off with some of what I worked a little bit on yesterday, then finished up quite a bit today: my “Triparagon”.  Or, basically the big motherboard for the vast majority of all my electrical system components: busses, grounding blocks, etc.

Since I now know exactly how my canard controls fit into the forward fuselage/nose, I was able to tweak the size & dimensions of the vertical Triparagon plate.  I recut another fresh, updated cardboard mockup and then set about figuring out the placement of my electrical components.  I’m extremely pleased with the fact that I’ll easily fit virtually my ENTIRE electrical system on this one plate.  And the only reason I say “virtually” is due to any future potentiality that I may have a component that doesn’t fit on the Triparagon, but currently EVERY piece of the electrical system fits on it!

Triparagon

•••

2 November 2016 — I then finalized the dimensions of my cardboard Triparagon template and then traced it out onto my 0.090″ thick sheet of 6061T6 Aluminum (the same sheet that I used for my gear heat shields).  I didn’t get the Triparagon cut out tonight, but will do so within the next day or two.

Marking Triparagon sheet aluminum

•••

3 November 2016 — I did a project assessment last night and decided for a backup (COM2) radio that the remotely mounted PS Engineering M760REM will do fine for what I need a radio in that role to do.  I’m trying to optimize my funds, and using the M760REM vs. the sexier Trig TY-91 radio saves me a good $500.  Since the majority of my comms will be via the COM1 radio in my GPS unit, I’m good on this being the right decision.

Today I spent over 5 hours doing research and updating a number of electrical diagrams, in part to re-wicker them to include the M760REM radio into the mix.  There were a few other glaring things (such as COM1 & COM2 radio assignments) that I had just never got around to cleaning up.  I’m lame right now with a cold, so I figured I could justify “taking a half day off” from building to get some cleanup tasks on the electrical diagrams knocked out.  In addition, I added the items I just recently ordered from Stein, the Cozy Girrrls and Amazon to my parts tracking spreadsheet. Lastly, I spent a good 20 minutes on the phone with a Dynon tech to verify that my proposed wiring for the M760REM radio was correctly in sync with the Dynon intercom box that I’m using.

After all that was out of the way I grabbed a quick dinner and then headed down to the shop.  My goal this evening was to make some noise!  Specifically, I wanted to get the vertical plate of the Triparagon cut and all the holes and hardware configured for bolting the upper engine mount extrusions in place to the longerons & CS spar.

I started with the Triparagon.  I had outlined the final shape on the same piece of 0.090″ 6061T6 Aluminum that I used for the brake heat shields.

Triparagon outline on 0.09" 6061T6 plate

I loaded up my Skil saw with a finer tooth blade and ripped the Aluminum plate to produce the aft edge of the Triparagon.

Triparagon aft edge cut from 6061T6 plate

I then cut out the Triparagon top edge.

Triparagon top edge cut

I drilled a large hole in two of the corners on the front side to create a nice radiused inside corner, then continued to use the Skil saw to cut the Triparagon to shape.

Triparagon forward top corner cut

I finished all the areas I could on shaping the Triparagon that required the Skil saw.  I then switched to using my Jig saw to cut the rest.

Triparagon mid/forward area cut

And here it is!  The vertical Triparagon plate is cut to shape, and thus the first step of many is complete in the creation of the Triparagon ….

Vertical Triparagon plate shaped!

•••

4 November 2016 — My first task of the day was to figure out the exact dimensions of the Triparagon component shelf that will primarily serve as a mounting location for the GRT GADAHRS, Trig TT22 Transponder, and the M760REM COM2 radio.  To minimize space, and to allow for a smaller shelf (e.g. less weight), I decided to mount the M760REM radio on the bottom side of the Triparagon component shelf.  As you can see, looking at the Triparagon from either straight aft or from the front, it looks like a big “T” . . .  thus, it has three main mounting arms, which is the reason for the “Tri-” in the name.  Moreover, weird names are conversation starters & keep life less boring!  Right?!

Triparagon Top Component Shelf

•••

5 November 2016 — Early evening today I accomplished something that I couldn’t do last night: find & buy a 10-32 threaded tap to allow me to bolt my stuff to the Triparagon.  I looked at 5 places near my house, and none of them had one.  I then went down to the Lowe’s in Potomac Mills and they had one.  I snatched it up before heading out to dinner.

After dinner, I returned home and quickly put the tap to work.  I drilled and tapped the 4 holes to mount the TCW Safety Trim module.

TCW Safety-Trim screws tapped into Triparagon

TCW Safety-Trim screws tapped into Triparagon

I then grabbed a 1/16″ thick piece of angled 6061T6 Aluminum and made 2 small mounting brackets for the 4-port USB hub (used for the GRT EFIS).

Mounting 4-port USB hub to angle brackets

I drilled and mounted the L-brackets to the USB hub mounting tabs, then clamped that entire assembly to the left aft side of the Triparagon.

Mounting 4-port USB hub to angle brackets

I then drilled 2 holes in each tab for rivets.

4-port USB hub angle brackets drilled for rivets

And then riveted the tabs to the Triparagon.

USB hub angle brackets riveted to Triparagon

I then broke out my German hole saw to drill 2 large lightening holes under the area where the TCW Safety-Trim is mounted.  I have two of these type hole saws from Germany, which is a good thing since I broke the first of those tonight.  The ensuing drama at the time is why I don’t have a final pic of the lightening holes, but there is a pic later in this post with the lightening holes visible.

German hole saw for cutting lightening holes

I then drilled, tapped, and mounted the Main Power Buss and the roll trim relay board onto the right side of the Triparagon.  I realize that the 2 pics are close, but one is at a slight angle, so I left it in.

Right side Triparagon components install

Right side Triparagon components install

Here’s a pic of the left side Triparagon with both the 4-port USB hub and the lightening holes behind the TCW Safety-Trim box.

Leftt side Triparagon component install

Here’s a shot from the aft side showing the aft profile width of all the Triparagon-mounted components thus far.  The spacers under the roll trim board will be replaced with the correct size.

Aft view of Triparagon components

Finally, here’s one more shot of the 4-port USB hub mounting brackets riveted in place on the Triparagon.

USB hub and brackets installed to Triparagon

•••

7 November 2016 — Today I did a fair amount of physical work on the Triparagon, but what’s not seen is the even more work I did in figuring out optimized electrical component locations, hardware requirements, etc.  I also took a quick trip down to the Aviation Dept. at our favorite Orange & Blue big box stores to pick up a few stainless steel screws, etc.

I started out on the Triparagon by positioning and then drilling the 4 mounting holes for the two AG6 Warning Annunciators that I’ll be using.  The pic below actually shows the Triparagon upside down.  I’ll be mounting the AG6 Annunciator boards back-to-back, one on each side of the Triparagon, with a long #6 screw attaching one side to the other at each corner of the AG6 board.  Also, although not shown here, immediately following my drilling of the marked mounting holes in pic below, I drilled a fairly large lightening hole in the Triparagon plate immediately underneath/between the two AG6 Annunciator boards.

Triparagon AG6 Warning Annunciator mount holes

As for the right side Triparagon, besides the AG6 Annunciator board I also mounted the Schottky Diode with its heat sink, and the X-Bus (just to the left of the Main buss in the pic below).  As you can see I also drilled 2 more large lightening holes just above the Safety Trim box.

Immediately after I cut the Triparagon to shape, I weighed the panel at 1.38 lbs.  After the 3 total lightening holes that I drilled out today, it’s weighing in at about 1.15 lbs.  My goal is to get the Triparagon’s vertical plate weight down to about 0.6 lbs, with a total weight at under 1 pound.

Triparagon right side

On the left side I added the twin AG6 warning annunciator, as well as the E-Bus that shares the two top bolts for mounting with the Main Buss on the right side.  In addition, I mounted the Flight Data Systems’ GD-40 Carbon Monoxide Detector.  I’d like to point out that although the CO detector may look a bit bulky in the pic, it’s actually very light and only weighs a few ounces.  Today actually marks a pretty cool milestone considering that all my busses are in place and ready to be wired up & installed with the Triparagon into the plane!

You may have noticed a couple of slots that I “machined” (Ha!  That translates to “Skil Saw”) along each side of the Main Bus, and thus on each side of the E-Bus.  These slots are nothing more than wire management slots that will allow me to secure the wires to the Triparagon with either zip ties or cable lace.  They are clearly in a very rough state, as is the entire Triparagon actually, and will be cleaned up later.

Triparagon left side

Obviously I’m trying to get the majority of electrical components mounted to the Triparagon, which then allows me to determine hardware, space, wiring, and connector requirements now so that I’ll have as much of it as possible on hand for when I hard mount the Triparagon into the front of the plane.  I should also point out that once the Triparagon meets my design & operational requirements, I’ll mount it into the fuselage directly behind the F22 center post with around 6 each K1000-3 nutplate assembly hardpoints.  The nutplate hardpoints will allow me to remove and install the Triparagon whenever I need to during the build, and of course after the build as well!

•••

8 November 2016 — I started off today by mounting the main panel ground buss (G4), or “Forrest of Tabs” if you will, on the right side of the Triparagon.

Triparagon - Right side

On the left side I mounted the avionics ground buss (G5), and the bridge rectifier used for the Trio auto trim system.

Triparagon - Left side

Here’s a closer view of the components on the upper aft side of the Triparagon.

Triparagon - Left side

After mounting all the electrical components to dial in their configuration & spacing, I then pulled off all the components to commence drilling the lightening holes.  Which I did, spending the next couple of hours drilling the lightening holes.

Triparagon - Swiss cheesed

I’ll note again that after I initially cut out the Triparagon vertical from a panel of 0.09″ 6061T6 Aluminum it weighed just over 1.38 lbs.  After drilling all the lightening holes the Triparagon weighed in at 0.71 lb, so almost half of the original weight.  I expect that when all is said & done, the installed Triparagon structure with the top cross plate and support struts, will weigh in at just over a pound.

•••

9 November 2016 — I then spent a few hours cleaning up the lightening holes by hand.  I also figured out where my #12 mounting holes for the Triparagon screws will be placed.  After figuring out the mounting screw locations I drilled the mounting holes and then countersunk the screw holes.

Cleaned up R side Triparagon

Here you can see the left side of the Triparagon with the cleaned up lightening holes.

Cleaned up L side Triparagon

You may have noted that there are a some visible gouges on the edge of a couple of the lightening holes.  This is directly attributable to the new style cordless drill batteries in that they twice the batteries seemed to have died while I was drilling and as I was removing the hole saw bit from the lightening holes, the drill surged again causing these edge gouging.  Obviously I’m not happy about these unsightly marks, but it doesn’t change the functionality of the Triparagon, it just slightly diminishes its appearance and thus knocks down my cool points tally a bit!

After cleaning up the Triparagon lightening holes I then worked for about 3 hours on redesigning my electrical system by removing the relay that controlled the circuit between the battery buss and E-buss as per the recommendation of Bob Nuckolls.  Technically, I repurposed that relay to be used as the heated pitot tube control relay with a net result of one less relay in the system.  I then updated the main electrical system diagram & the grounding buss matrix list.

•••

10 November 2016 — Today I started out by spending over a half hour tweaking my main electrical system diagram & grounding matrix list, and then printed them out.

Down in the shop, I started out by bonding the Triparagon phenolic nutplate assemblies to their foam backers.  By the way, I used the tough H250 foam for the backers to add some oomph to these Triparagon mounting hard points.

I used 5-min glue to bond the nutplate assemblies to the foam.

Foam & nutplate assemblies 5-min glued

Here are 4 of the 7 mounting hard points bonded together with 5-min glue.  You may recall that I actually assembled these about a year ago.  I have one more rectangular nutplate assembly that I hadn’t fully put together before, so that needs finished.  I have another one in this bag that is an odd shaped nutplate assembly for mounting the very top of the Triparagon to the aft side of the F28 bulkhead.

Foam & nutplate assemblies 5-min glued

I then verified that the fuselage was level to allow me to match the top “shelf” of the Triparagon at 0° level for the eventual mounting of the GRT GADAHRS.

Checking fuselage is at 0 degrees

My next task was to mark the fuselage CL on the nose wheel cover (NB).  To do this I dropped a plumb line using my CL marks on the F22 & F28 bulkheads.

Finding center mark on nose wheel well NB

Here’s another shot of the plumb line for marking the CL.

Finding center mark on nose wheel well NB

After marking the CL on the nose wheel cover (NB), I then ran my plumb line down the CL of the fuselage to allow me to install the Triparagon as close to on-CL as possible.  At a minimum, I wanted the Triparagon mounted parallel to the CL, even if off center say 0.1″ or so.
Marking aircraft center line

I taped a level in place on the top “shelf” of the Triparagon.  I also taped a mixing stick to the top portion of the Triparagon to allow me to monitor its alignment to the CL string that I strung in place.  I then mocked up the Triparagon with the 4 nutplate assemblies screwed into place.

Mocking up Triparagon install

I clamped the Triparagon top mounting tab to the aft side of F28.  It took some trial & error to dial in the correct spacer thickness between the Triparagon top mounting tab & aft face of the F28.  It turned out my decimal fraction ruler was the thickness that did the trick to get the top shelf level with the longerons.

Checking level on top Triparagon "shelf"

Below is a shot of my mixing stick aligned to the CL string.  I intentionally taped the mixing stick on one side of the Triparagon plate so that the actual plate would sit very closely / directly under the CL string.

Aligning Triparagon plate with A/C CL

I marked the areas where the Triparagon nutplate mounts will get secured to the aircraft, removed the Triparagon and then sanded those mounting spots in prep for glassing the nutplate mounts in place.

CL marked & mount point areas sanded

Then, using 5-min glue on the nutplate assemblies, I glued the Triparagon into place.  I re-clamped the top mounting tab to the aft side of F28 while monitoring the Triparagon’s alignment.

Triparagon nutplate assemblies 5-min glued in place

I then set a 1″ dia. aluminum tube representing the elevator control spool tube –that will traverse from one side of the fuselage to the other– to ensure clearance between the spool tube and the Triparagon.

Triparagon nutplates 5-min glued

I then assembled my last rectangular nutplate assembly (the one that came with some assembly required!) and then made up an entire new nutplate assembly along with its foam backer.

I then cleaned up the 5-min glue on each of the 4 installed nutplate assemblies.  I then glassed these 4 nutplate assemblies in place with 3 plies of BID at each nutplate mounting hard point.

Triparagon nutplates glassed

Here’s a closer shot of the Triparagon nutplate mounting hard points glassed in place with 3 plies of BID.  I then of course peel plied each layup.

Triparagon nutplates glassed

After a couple of hours since the entire mounting process started, and with each of the 4 nutplate mounting hard points glassed in place, I double-checked the Triparagon’s alignment… which looked spot on.

Verifying Triparagon top shelf level

As the 4 installed nutplate mounting hard points’ 3-ply BID layups cured, I dialed in the placement of the remaining 3 nutplate mounting hard points.  I marked the Triparagon where the bolt (vs screws on the other 4 mount points) holes would go, then removed the Triparagon and drilled the 3 new AN3 mounting holes: one at the very top adjacent to the aft side of F28, another at the very aft bottom side of the Triparagon attaching to the nose wheel cover (NB), and finally one at the forward top edge of the Triparagon where it mates to the aft side of the F22 center strut.

I then reattached the Triparagon with the 3 new nutplate mounting hard points bolted in place, with 5-min glue slathered on the mating side of each of the nutplate foam.

Once the 5-min glue cured, I cleaned up the freshly installed nutplate mounting hard points, then added flox fillets (as I had on the first 4) and laid up 3 plies of BID on each nutplate assembly.

Below is a couple different shots of this.  Also note that I had just previously pulled the peel ply and cleaned up the 3-ply BID layups on the first 4 nutplate mounting hard points that I installed.

Round 2 nutplates installed & glassed

Round 2 nutplates installed & glassed

And here’s a shot looking aft.

Round 2 nutplates installed & glassed

•••

12 November 2016 — I started off today by taking a pic of the pitch level of the mounted Triparagon.  As you can see, the addition of the last 3 nutplate mounting hard points tilted the Triparagon ever so slightly forward.  Nothing that can’t be reworked or overcome during the installation of the top “shelf,” but it is something for me to take note of to ensure I get 0° level.

Mounted Triparagon Pitch Level

Here’s a shot from the top to show the mounted Triparagon in comparison to the CL.  Again, you can see that the Triparagon is very closely aligned, so not bad.

Mounted Triparagon CL alignment

I cleaned up the left side layups on the Triparagon nutplate mounting tabs.  In the pic below you can see that the top F28 Triparagon mounting tab still needs to be cleaned up.

Trimming left side of Triparagon mounting tabs

I then laid up 2-ply BID layups on the RIGHT side of the Triparagon nutplate mounting tabs.  I then clamped these right side layups so that the glass would cure as flat & tight as possible to allow the Triparagon to mount back into place close to its original installed position.

Glassing right side Triparagon mounting tabs

I then started back working on the actual Triparagon by remounting the electrical components to it.  I also drilled a couple holes to allow a zip tie to be used for mounting the Trio autopilot Autotrim relay –along with a patch of velcro.

Mounting Trio A/P Autotrim system relay

I wired up the G5 avionics ground buss to connect it to the bolt mounting the G4 panel ground buss.  Here’s a shot of the left side Triparagon.

Left side Triparagon

Another shot of the left side Triparagon.  You can see below that I also wired the E-bus to the Schottky diode.

Left side Triparagon

Below is a shot of the electrical components remounted to the right side Triparagon (with a pic hue for some reason).

Right side Triparagon

And another shot of the right side Triparagon.  Again, note that I wired the E-Bus feed by adding a wire between the Main Buss terminal to the Schottky diode (sorry for the slightly blurry pic).

Right side Triparagon

A few hours later I removed the clamped blocks off the Triparagon nutplate mounting points and cleaned up the 2-ply BID layups.

Glassed Triparagon mounting tabs

•••

14 November 2016 — I started out today by undertaking the task of removing part of the TCW Safety Trim box’s lower mounting bracket, which was covering and in the way of the bottom Triparagon mounting screw hole.

Safety Trim Mounting Flange

So I removed a half moon notch of the mounting bracket and uncovered the bottom Triparagon mounting screw hole.

Safety Trim Mounting Flange Trimmed

In other news, I fried my heat gun last night.  So after a trip to Harbor Freight to pick up a nice cheap replacement heat gun, the weather was nice so I got to work outside to complete quite a number of cuts that were required with aluminum pieces & stock.

I spent a good bit of time cutting the angled aluminum extrusions for the Triparagon upper cross shelf.  The 2 extrusions in the foreground of the pic below are for actually attaching the Triparagon’s top horizontal cross shelf to the vertical plate.  The larger angled pieces shown left-to-right are primarily additions to the front of the cross shelf that will be used for both mounting smaller components, such as airspeed switches and the warning horn, and also for the diagonal supports for the Triparagon top cross shelf.

Axle and Triparagon Aluminum parts cut

I’m working on the Triparagon right now with my main goal in finishing it at this point of the build being threefold:

  1. Ensure the Triparagon concept works & can be incorporated with a minimal (and acceptable) weight penalty.
  2. Install the Triparagon and ensure it fits while I have access to the nose area.
  3. Wire all the resident components on the Triparagon.  This is primarily wiring cross-connects for ONLY those circuits on the Triparagon. All other components will get wired as they are installed.

I should state that part of my fit & finish testing for the Triparagon includes the B&C Voltage Regulator, which is not actually mounted on the Triparagon, but immediately forward of it on the aft upper side of F22.  So I also wired all the connections from the Voltage Regulator to Triparagon components.

The long pole in the tent for the Voltage Regulator wiring was the wires coming off of pins 3 & 5, since they both connect to main buss power and pin 5 drives the warning signal to the AG6 warning annunciator.  The warning circuit required a 1K ohm resistor which I soldered into place.

Voltage Reg sensing and annunciator wires

Here you can see the 1K ohm resistor soldered into place, and the heat shrink in place on the respective wires to help build wire thickness for physical joint strength when the final piece of heat shrink is put in place.

Volt reg resistor for AG6 warning annunciator

The final heat shrink tubing in place over the resistor that’s tied in between the voltage regulator’s pin 3 & 5 wires.

Voltage Reg wires heat shrinked

•••

15 November 2016 — Today it was truly time to test install this monstrosity known as the Triparagon.

After spending a good couple of days here & there populating the Triparagon components with wires to & fro the various parts, and finalizing a large number of circuits for the resident things on the Triparagon, it then stood to reason –and begged the question: Does it work?  A test install was in order!

So I did a mock up install of the wired-up Triparagon onto its mounting tabs in what I call the Avionics Bay (instrument panel to F22) of the Long-EZ.  I also installed the Voltage Regulator to see how it fit into the mix.  Below you can see the left side of the Triparagon & the Voltage Regulator.

Triparagon mock install

And a shot of it from the right.  I’d like to point out that up to this point the Triparagon has definitely met, or exceeded, my design goals.

Triparagon mock install

To give you all a sense of space…. specifically the space NOT taken up by the Triparagon (aka “legroom”) I took a couple of shots from close to straight in line with the edge of the the NG30 plates that house the nose gear motor.  In addition, the nose wheel cover (NB) also provides a “natural” barrier & offers a bit of standoff protection from wayward feet or legs to help keep the Triparagon out of accidental harm’s way.  I would like to point out that the current Triparagon wiring is in the initial “free form” stage and has not been organized, nor secured in place yet.

Triparagon mock installTriparagon mock install

•••

16 November 2016 — I didn’t get a lot done on the actual build today, although I did get a TON of administrative tasks done for my electrical system.

First off, I’m going to reiterate the emphasis and importance that I place on the electrical system.  Finalizing significant portions of the electrical system may definitely not be as sexy as seeing significant portions of the plane go together, but it in my opinion it is critical for many reasons.  First, if the airplane is an aerodynamic housing for these systems, it makes sense to me to know how these electro-whizzies are going to FIT inside the housing before the housing is completed!  Second, it is infinitely easier to work on fitting those electro-whizzies into place before the housing (eg fuselage, strakes, nose, etc.) is completed.  In addition, it’s nice to be able to track the weight of these components, instruments & avionics to allow for a weight cost-to-benefit analysis of each specific component.  There are at least 2 electrical components (StrikeFinder & fuel vapor sensor) that I’ve eliminated from my system simply because the cost in weight to have these installed is simply too high compared to the operational benefit that they currently provide. Finally, I think it’s critical to know what the current draw is for entire system and each of the primary sub-components of the system.  Obviously it’s impossible to have any current analysis on hand if the decisions on which components will be used haven’t been made. Clearly just dumping a bunch of components together into the ship, even if they are wired up correctly, won’t cut it from a systems standpoint.  For me it’s simple: Better to know all this now AS I construct the airplane rather than later . . . and yes, that’s just my opinion.

Looking forward to after the airplane is flying, with aerodynamics ascertained and airframe structurally integrity verified, then the lion’s share of importance is placed on OPERATING the aircraft.  Operating the aircraft relies on electrical systems, and requires those systems and components be optimized and working correctly.  Of course there will always be a need for fine-tuning these electrical components and a good ability to troubleshoot them as well.  In short: effective & efficient troubleshooting comes down to thorough & meticulous system documentation.  This holds especially true later on down the road when equipment upgrades, swap outs, additions or even removal is wanted or required.

I’ve seen a firsthand example of what a royal PITA it can be when system documentation is not on hand and you’re trying to troubleshoot, understand and/or upgrade your aircraft electrical system components. Specifically on my buddy Marco’s recently acquired already-built Long-EZ.  I spoke with Terry Lamp, the builder of Marco’s Long-EZ, at Rough River about the lack of electrical system documentation.  Terry had created a whole slew of electrical system diagrams & documents for the airplane, but gave it to the new (2nd) owner when the new owner bought the plane.  However, somewhere/somehow the second owner never transferred the electrical system info to owner #3.  Fast forward to Marco as owner #4, and he’s sitting there doing a LOT of head scratching to figure what was done, installed, modified, etc. on the electrical system.  Understandably not Marco’s fault at all, but clearly not a lot of fun.  The bottom line is I plan NOT to be an aircraft owner that doesn’t have an in-depth ability to quickly assess, analyze and identify an electrical system problem due to a lack of good documentation (ala owner #2!).

Ok, with all that said (yes, rant over & off soap box!) . . . I spent quite a few hours today updating my electrical system diagrams & annotating them to reflect what was actually wired on the Triparagon.  In addition, I also deconflicted a number of grounding positions, and consolidated a few ground paths as well.  At times this took digging back through the manuals, and certainly involved cross-referencing and updating a bunch of my different wiring diagrams to ensure they all told the same story.   In addition, I annotated the nearly 50 wire label codes I printed out into my wire label tracking spreadsheet.  Finally, I really can see how finalizing the Triparagon wiring, which I’ll estimate at a good 30% of the overall aircraft wiring, really helps in synching the remaining wiring pinouts, grounds and wiring circuits in playing well together.

•••

17 November 2016 — I spoke at length with Bob from TCW Technologies twice today to finalize my Integrated Backup Battery System (IBBS) circuit configuration.  While reviewing the installation manual I ran into some questions on the Pass Thru pins on the IBBS.  Changing over to the X-Bus configuration and adding a switch apparently jumbled up my circuitry a bit and Bob was nice enough to walk me through how to get back on the straight and narrow path.

In short, at a minimum I eliminated another switch off the panel and it looks promising that I’ll be replacing the 8-port ATC fuse panel that is the X-Bus, for a 9-pin D-Sub connector, thus saving weight and of course space on the Triparagon.  With a total rework of the IBBS wiring, I wanted to get my notes transferred over into reality on the IBBS/X-Bus wiring diagram.  In addition, as I worked to organize & update the wiring schemes in my electrical system I finally had enough of tracking a bunch of info on a clipboard, so I ended up creating 2 new diagrams that I’ve long since had on my diagram list:

18. AG6 Annunciators
27. Main Power Buss

•••

18 November 2016 — After spending a good bit of time in the AG6 warning annunciator manual last night, I started off today once again with about 1-1/2 hours of updating my initial electrical diagram for the dual AG6s I have installed.  I had originally only had the AG6s on this diagram with all other warning circuits listed in diagram 16, which specifically has a small housed module for the gear & canopy warning annunciation (shown below) along with the other warning stuff.

However, since I pulled all the individual warning LEDs off my panel and routed them all through my AG6s (the exact reason why I bought another one) it stands to reason that to show those circuits ALL warning circuits other than the gear & canopy warning module needed to be on the AG6 wiring diagram page while only the gear & canopy warning module wiring is depicted now on diagram 16.

I also realized after looking to copy a pic of the AG6 annunciator to show in this post that I may have never actually posted a pic of one.  These are stock pics below from the company who makes them, Aircraft Extras, Inc.

Here’s the entire system, with the boards mounted back-to-back on the upper Triparagon. Each board will have 6 warning circuits for a total of 12 and will display on a button that can be pushed in to acknowledge an alarm state.  Of course 2 AG6s means 2 display buttons on my panel.

AG6 Annunciator System

There are 3 available background colors for the AG6 display screens: red, green and yellow.  Below is a couple representative pics of the red & green displays.

AG6 Annunciator display buttonAG6 Annunciator display button

I also couldn’t find a shot of the JBWilco gear & canopy warning module that I’m using in my system.  I picked this up from a guy who built a bunch of them after he designed it for use in his Cozy.  He got tired of making & selling them, and I just happened to contact him right as he was selling his very last one.

J.B. Wilco Gear & Canopy warning module

As you can see, this module is very small and very light.  This will actually drive a pair of red & green LEDs on my panel.  These will be the only LED warning lights on my panel, since I’m wiring the Wilhelmson gear & landing brake LED pairs up to the AG6s to display gear up/down and landing brake up/down.  This module will sound a warning for the gear & the canopy, both visually through the LEDs and also through a warning buzzer.  BTW, this gear & canopy module will be the only warning that uses a buzzer.  I may configure other warnings to provide audio warning tones, but those will all be driven through the EFIS and only be heard via headphones.

J.B. Wilco Gear & Canopy warning module

Down in the shop I cleaned up the aft lower Triparagon mounting tab. I didn’t like the way the lower glass was attached on this tab from my original 2-ply BID layups on the right side of the nutplate mounting hard points, so I ripped off the glass and sanded it down to remove the stubborn stuff.

I also took the time to clean up the other tab layups, ensuring the edges were sanded down smooth.  I also drilled out the remaining holes in the glass for the mounting bolts.  All this sanding, trimming and drilling made a bit of a mess so I took a few minutes to vacuum up the mess I had made in the avionics bay area..

Aft lower Triparagon mounting tab

I then grabbed a small piece of plastic and prepregged 2 plies of BID and laid up the aft lower Triparagon mounting tab.  As you can see, and not surprisingly, I then peel plied the layup.  What you don’t see is that I then lightly clamped the same block of tape-covered wood that I used before to compress the glass a bit.  Finally, I used the leftover epoxy to seal the exposed bare foam on the 3 edges of each Triparagon nutplate mounting point.

Triparagon mounting tabs

With the lower mounting tab BID curing, I then took the Triparagon upstairs to finalize the on-board wiring cross-connects.  I started by printing out a number of wire labels on the white shrink tubing.  I then terminated two 22AWG red wires into one FastOn tab, one leg each to power the respective AG6s.  This FastOn connector will be mounted above the 2 shown on the left side of the E-Bus in the very left of the pic below (using the installed 1A fuse).

I then spent well over an hour finalizing the wiring for the Trio autopilot’s Autotrim feature. For the autotrim to work it must interface correctly with the TCW Safety Trim box.  While I was over in Qatar I worked with the respective gurus, Chuck at Trio & Bob at TCW, to finalize the circuitry for the autotrim.  With both of the gurus in coordinated agreement on the wiring scheme 2 years ago, I am just now finally able to implement it.  If you look along the upper left edge in the pic below (which is the actual upper forward edge of Triparagon), starting from the bottom you’ll note the DB15 connector housing from the Safety Trim box mounted on the other side of the Triparagon, then a Bridge Rectifier, then a relay marked “RP”.  These components make up the Triparagon side of the Autotrim system.  Once these interfaces are combined with 2 wires coming from the AP pitch servo and 2 wires coming from the Atkinson pitch trim servo motor, then Voila! … the Trio AP autotrim feature is wired for operations!

Trio A/P Autotrim & TCW Safety Trim interconnects

Being the social butterfly that I am, I then took the rest of the night off and went to dinner & a movie.  When I returned, I pulled the peel ply and checked the 2-ply BID layup on the aft Triparagon mounting tab.  Looks good!

Reglassed aft Triparagon mount tab 2-ply BID

•••

20 November 2016 — I started out today by trimming the reglassed aft lower Triparagon nutplate mounting tab with the Fein saw.  I then cleaned it up by sanding down the edges and then redrilled the hole to allow me to thread in the mounting bolt, which as you can see I’ve done below.

Lower aft Triparagon mounting tab

I then labeled the power wires coming off my Atkinson pitch trim servo motor with heat shrink labels on both ends of the wire.  As you can see I had to unravel the twisted wire then retwist them back together after the labels were on.  However, since the servo motor came from the supplier with these wires, I wanted to test them to see how they held up under heat & fire.  I snipped a test piece off and tried to burn it with a lighter for a good couple of minutes to no avail.  With my impromptu wire fire rating test complete, I then went ahead and affixed the labels and retwisted the wires.

Atkinson pitch trim servo power wires

With all my mounting tabs good at this point, I then brought the Triparagon down to the shop and officially mounted it!  Here’s a shot of the right side Triparagon.  Note the 2 white wires circling around to the right side of the pic and laying atop the Trio A/P pitch trim servo are the 2 Autotrim wires that interface with the servo.

Mounted Triparagon & Volt Reg - Right side

A shot of the right side Triparagon.  Again, after all the wires are in place I’ll do some major cable management on this rats nest before it flies.

Mounted Triparagon & Volt Reg - Right side

Here’s the left side Triparagon.  As I mentioned before, I’m extremely pleased with how this turned out.  My next task will be to configure & mount the top cross shelf that will primarily hold the GRT GADAHRS, Trig TT22 Transponder and M760REM COM2 Radio. Also attached to the upper level will be 3 airspeed switches, the Gear & Canopy Warning module, the piezo warning buzzer, and possibly some pitot/static manifold blocks.  All these components I just mentioned above make up virtually the entire electrical system other than those components that will be mounted on the Instrument panel.

Mounted Triparagon & Volt Reg - Left side

In the pic below of the left side Triparagon, you can see the Voltage Regulator in the upper left of the pic (again, mounted to F22, not Triparagon), the Endurance Buss (E-Bus/EB), TCW Smart Start module (SM), and the Autotrim components on the forward edge.  Note in the middle of the pic you can see the twisted red & black wires coming from the Atkinson pitch trim servo motor, terminated with small FastOn connectors to mount on the Autotrim relay (RP) tabs.

Mounted Triparagon & Volt Reg - Left side

Here is a close up view of the Trio A/P Autotrim components: a bridge rectifier (AT) and a DPDT relay (RP).  Again, these components interface with the TCW Safety Trim box, the Atkinson pitch trim servo, and the Trio A/P pitch servo for the autotrim feature to operate.

You may note some chicken scratching writing on the wire labels (…at least you do now!). When I added the Triparagon as a Component Wire Location Identifier [N=nose, I=Instrument Panel, H=Hellhole, etc.] I not only changed these wire labels from A (Avionics Bay) to T (Triparagon), but also the end component 2-letter designator on a few items, including both of these autotrim components.  Since this wire label heat shrink is not exactly inexpensive, I made the decision to choose function over form here in an attempt to be both cost effective & pragmatic.  Especially on wire labels that honestly are rarely going to see the light of day once this plane is flying.  To put this in perspective, I’ve already printed almost 100 wire labels and have attached about 2/3rd of those.

Autotrim components - Triparagon Left side

One thing I didn’t show in this post was the unraveling and sorting out of the rats nest of nose gear & AEX wires that sat atop the NG30 cover.   I had zip tied them up to keep them out of the way while figuring out my rudder/brake pedal placement, and it looked like an unsolvable/untraceable mass of wires.  In reality, since I had labeled so many of the wires, after a good 10 min I had it all pretty much figured out and the wires in place, close to their final runs.  So, for the nose gear & AEX power, ground & warning signal wires, I heat-shrinked a bunch of the second labels in place, cut the wires close to their final length and crimped connectors onto a number of them as you can see with the AEX ground wire below that will terminate into the Avionics ground buss (G5).

AEX GND wire terminated for Avionics GND BussI also went ahead and removed a good portion of the outer sheathing to the 3-wire cable coming from the Atkinson pitch trim servo positioning indicator.  The black wire of the group that I labeled and terminated with a FastOn connector will be grounded on the main panel ground buss (G4), while the red & white wires will tie together into one extension wire to feed an input into the GRT HXr to show trim positioning graphically on my EFIS.

Pitch Servo GND wire for Panel GND Buss

•••

21 November 2016 — Today I started off with a little cleanup action on the nose gear wiring harness.  I’ve had a bundle of excess wires sitting on top of the NG30 cover for eons now and decided it was time to clear them off.  Also, instead of using butt connectors I opted for a more “elegant” solution and spliced the wires using a pigtail to secure the stripped ends of the individual wires together before soldering them.

Here is the first set of 3 that I did this morning.  You can see the long 3-4 wire pigtail that I teased out of the stripped red wire on the left before cutting the rest of the stripped wires short in length to match the white wire on the right.

Splicing nose gear power wires

I then used the pigtail to secure the 2 wires together.  I could have used a wire or two less on the pigtail and also cut it a bit shorter, which added to the slight excess in the wrap. No worries though, it still worked great.

Splicing nose gear power wires

I then soldered the wires together.  I actually added just a tad bit more solder after I took the pic below.

Splicing nose gear power wires

Here’s wire set #2 getting spliced . . .

Splicing nose gear power wires

. . .  then soldered.

Splicing nose gear power wires

And wire set #3 completed in the same fashion.

Splicing nose gear power wires

Here you can see all 3 wire sets spliced & soldered together.  I used shrink tubing over the joint for added joint strength, then simply used the label as a second layer over the shrink tubing for even more added strength.  After I finished with the shrink tubing & labels, I then hooked up up the battery leads and ran the nose gear up & down a bit to ensure the splices were carrying current, which they did.

Heat shrink labeled spliced nose gear power wires

This morning at breakfast I drew up a plan for a bracket that would hold the AMP CPC connectors P3 (A/P pitch trim servo) and P5 (pilot stick grip) in place on the avionics bay sidewall.

I decided to go ahead and knock this out so that the glass would be laid up and curing overnight.  For the bracket material I figured I would use some leftover 1/16″ thick G10 that I had on hand.  I was going to use some of my 1/16″ brown phenolic at first, but it cuts a little easier than the G10 so I’m saving it to continue using for my nutplate backers.

G10 plate for AMP CPC connectors

So I cut off a 3.5″ long piece off the 2.2″ wide strip of G10.  I then rounded the front corners.

G10 plate for AMP CPC connectors

And drilled 2 pilot holes to mark the center of the larger holes.

G10 plate for AMP CPC connectors

Which I then drilled next… along with the small #40 & #6 size screw holes, respectively of course!

G10 plate drilled for AMP CPC connectors

After finalizing my mounting location, I then 5-min glued the bracket into place on the sidewall.  I screwed the aft corner of the bracket to a clamped 2×4 piece to keep the bracket aligned while the 5-min glue cured.

G10 plate 5-min glued for AMP CPC connectors

While the AMP CPC connector bracket 5-min glue cured, I got to work on the Triparagon cross shelf.  I marked out where the GRT GADAHRS will get mounted along with the centerline, then configured the angled mounting bracket locations.  I marked the mounting screw locations on the angled mounting brackets, then took the angled brackets and the cross shelf down to the shop to drill the holes.

Drilling Triparagon top shelf angle bracket

After I got the 3 mounting screw holes aligned & drilled, I then riveted nutplates to the left angle bracket.

Triparagon top shelf angle bracket nutplates installed

I then countersunk the 3 left side screw holes on the top of the Triparagon cross shelf and then screwed the shelf to the left side angle bracket.

Left side Triparagon top shelf angle bracket

Here’s a top view of the 3 left side countersunk screws.

Left side Triparagon top shelf angle bracket

I then quickly mocked up the Triparagon cross shelf.  Again, I really am liking how the Triparagon is coming along.

Triparagon cross shelf

My last official act of the evening was to stop making noise and start making some fumes… epoxy fumes that is.  I whipped up some epoxy and laid up 2 plies of BID on the top side of the AMP CPC connector bracket.  I did use a flox fillet so the glass would transition well between the wall and the bracket. And of course I finished off the layup with some peel ply.

P3 and P4 AMP CPC connector bracket

•••

22 November 2016 — I started off today by cleaning up something I forgot to mention yesterday: the Rivnut that I installed with flox into the lower frame of the instrument panel to mount an Adel clamp for the blue multi-wired Infinity stick control cable.  I drilled the hole using my flexible drill bit adapter and a 1/4″ drill bit.  Then when I laid up the 2 plies of BID on the top of the AMP CPC connector bracket, I floxed the Rivnut into place.  As per usual, I used a small piece of duct tape on each end to keep the flox from gumming up the threads.

This morning I removed the outer piece of duct tape.

Floxed Rivnut for control stick Adel clamp

And then test fitted the Adel clamp.  I’ll be installing one more of these Adel clamps for the control stick cable on the outboard/front edge of the instrument panel corner reinforcement wedge I installed a while back.

Floxed Rivnut for control stick Adel clamp

I then spent a good half hour redrilling the holes and cleaning up the 2-ply BID layup on the topside of the AMP CPC connector bracket.  In the left pic below, besides the cleaned up connector bracket you can see the freshly mounted lower control stick cable Adel clamp, and the instrument panel corner reinforcement wedge where I’ll install the second control stick cable Adel clamp.

I then quickly test fitted the control stick cable AMP CPC connector (P5) after sanding the underside of the bracket in prep for glassing.  You can also see I bagged up & taped the AP pitch servo to keep it epoxy free.

AMP CPC bracket top 2-ply BID cured

AMP CPC bracket connector test fit

After adding a flox fillet at the corner of the bracket & the fuselage sidewall, I then laid up 2 plies of BID on the underside of the AMP CPC connector bracket.

AMP CPC bracket underside 2-ply BID layup

I finished off the layup with a strip of peel ply, primarily focusing on having a good glass transition on the sidewall glass (read: no fiberglass barbs playing “gotcha” while working in the avionics bay!)

AMP CPC bracket underside 2-ply BID layup

I then left for my flight lesson… [flew 3 instrument approaches under the hood… beautiful day for flying and the 30 seconds I saw here & there out from under the hood were an awesome sight! haha!]

Upon returning from flying, I spent another good half hour razor trimming the 2-ply BID layup on the underside of the AMP CPC connector (seen in last pic this post).

I then clamped the right side angled aluminum Triparagon shelf mounting bracket in place, with a scrap piece of 0.090″ aluminum as a spacer, to the screwed-in-place left side bracket.  I used my drill press to drill the 3 screw holes through both the angled aluminum bracket and the Triparagon cross shelf.

Drilling Right side Triparagon shelf screw holes

I then riveted 3 each K1000-3 nutplates to the right side angled aluminum mounting bracket, and countersunk the 3 screw holes on the top side of the Triparagon cross shelf. As shown in the pic below the cross shelf weighs in at 0.6 lbs, so current total weight of the Triparagon structure is at 1.3 lbs gross.  I’m certain I can knock half of the shelf weight off with lightening holes, so I expect the total weight for the installed Triparagon structure to be around a pound.

Triparagon shelf screw holes - nutplates installed

I then test mounted the Triparagon cross shelf to the installed Triparagon vertical plate. So far so good.

Triparagon cross shelf test fit

I then took the cross shelf upstairs & diagrammed out the installation location for the M760REM COM2 radio.  To set up the following discussion below, I’ll point out that I plan on having a 1″ x 1″ piece of angled aluminum mounted to the bottom front edge of the Triparagon cross shelf, one on each side of the vertical plate, for mounting what I now call the “CrackerJack Parts” (small airspeed switch size components).  To be clear, these angled aluminum pieces are NOT shown in the diagram below.

Triparagon Top Component Shelf

Now, to optimize the installation of the radio in relation to the GRT GADAHRS (see above), I decided that I need to trim the cross shelf’s front side angle brackets horizontal sides down by 0.4″. In other words, the vertical arm of each front angle bracket will be 1″ with the new trimmed horizontal arm (that mount to the the underside of the cross shelf) being 0.6″ wide. This will allow me to move the radio forward on the left underside of the Triparagon cross shelf, and provide better clearance between the mounting screws of the radio & GADAHRS.  It will also allow for the aft edge of the Triparagon cross shelf to provide more of a protective overhang for the radio’s antenna & DB15 connectors.

•••

26 November 2016 — Over the past few days during the Thanksgiving holiday I’ve actually been getting a fair amount of electrical system documentation, planning & system design work done.  Some things I’ve done, like taking the time out to figure out the wiring & pinouts for the Infinity pilot control stick buttons, switches & wires, is pretty much a known quantity and simply needed to be completed & checked off the to-do list.

Determining P5 connector pinouts

But the pitot-static was a different animal entirely. I had some pieces parts on hand, but I really needed to get educated on pitot-static systems before starting out.  During my research I ran across a very nicely detailed post on the VAF forum from Paul Dye (editor of KitPlanes mag) concerning his pitot-static system.  In the post he not only described his pitot-static system, and the advice that Stein (from SteinAir) –who we know is a genius on all things panel related– gave him, but how he also devised his pitot-static system, and in turn his electrical system, to allow for the panel to be removed EZily.  Hmmm?!

I played around with designing my pitot-static system with the intent to get it documented in PowerPoint and on paper, but have not gotten around to either yet.  Although I pretty much have the pitot-static system designed in chicken-scratch form & in my head, as you can see below (the diagram below was summarily stolen from a guy asking questions on his p-s system that posted it to VAF…I’m merely modifying it to suit my needs!).  But the panel removal idea –one that Marco and I have discussed non-specifically many times– began to gnaw at me more & more each passing day over these past few days.  It was definitely germinating in my brain.  One overriding reason is that if I could pull it off, it could literally change the structure & process of how I build the nose of my plane.

Planning/Configuring pitot-static system

So today I spent the entire day taking inventory and listing out every single wire that comes off the panel mounted avionics, instruments, warning lights, buttons, switches, etc. I determined what connectors would need to stay connected, and which ones must be disconnected for the panel to be removed.  I created a whole new series of connector designators for the D-Sub and Molex series connectors: J1 – Jn, as compared to the current series of the AMP CPC connector series: P1 – Pn.  

After hours of collecting this data, and determining that it could be done, then I got to the business of updating the majority of my electrical diagrams to reflect these new intermediate connectors.  I determined a couple of things, at least initially:

  1. The majority of switches will be on separate sub panels that will be removed from the panel before it is removed.
  2. The Avidyne P1002 communications connector and the Dynon intercom connectors will have to be removed and stay on the plane side due to the multiple cross/inter- connects to components and the shielded wiring.
  3. Given the factors above, I determined the number of pins required could be provided with 37-pin (J4) and 15-pin (J3) D-sub connectors, and utilizing the 19-pin AMP CPC connector (P6) that I had previously planned on using for the GIB stick grip.  These should give me enough pins for the panel wiring, with some extra slots.  The AMP CPC (P6) and 15-pin D-Sub (J3) will handle primarily power & ground wires, while the 37-pin D-Sub (J4) will handle primarily signal (a ton of RS232) wires.

Panel removal electrical connectors

Of course I need to confirm and refine my plan, but with this in hand and the finalizing of the pitot-static routing plan, I’ll be able to finalize the component placement on the Triparagon, get the top cross shelf and side mounting tabs cut and lightening holes drilled. I’ll also be able to roll these new factors into the design of the top nose structure and see how it effects the forward canopy skirt.

•••

27 November 2016 — Today I started out by finalizing my pitot-static system plan.  I still need to make some phone calls tomorrow to some of system vendors to ensure I’ve got the most optimized configuration for hooking up the pitot-static lines on their respective systems, but beyond that I’m pretty much done.  I’ll be dropping an order to Stein here soon and it will include the remainder of the parts I need to complete my pitot-static system install [NOTE: I’m also posting stuff on the pitot-static system in Chapter 13 – Nose & Nose Gear since that’s were it was covered in the original plans].

Pitot-Static System

In addition the pitot-static system, I also reviewed & assessed my recently added Triparagon connectors that should allow me to remove the instrument panel fairly easily.  I found a few more issues that made me add the Trio autopilot’s wiring harness to the list of components that require me to simply remove the connector.  The main issue with this harness is that there are shielded wires that run all the way back to the roll servo.  Clearly these are not easily removed, and I’m sticking to Stein’s advice (because I agree!) to NOT add connectors in the middle of shielded wire runs.  Thus, this requires me to remove the Trio autopilot’s connector and leave it in the plane when I remove the instrument panel. In short, I made a lot more progress on the concept of running all the instrument panel components’ wires through connectors to allow EZ removal of the panel.

Later on, I figured I would get some wiring done while I was watched football.  Since I had just had the Trio autopilot wiring harness out, I decided to re-terminate the roll servo pins with AMP CPC pins vs Molex, and add the AMP CPC connector housing.  I’m not messing with the pitch servo since it needs to be cut significantly shorter and I need to get a good measurement for that.

Trio autopilot wiring harness

The pic below shows how the connector pins looked before I started.  Again, I cut the Molex pins off and reterminated the wires with AMP CPC pins and then mounted the connector housing for the roll servo cable.

New A/P roll servo AMP CPC connector

Continuing on, perhaps a little ironically I removed the 9-pin D-Sub connector from the roll TRIM servo and swapped it out with a 4-pin Molex connector I got from Stein.  As you probably know, I’m not a huge fan of Molex connectors, but I figure any roll trim servo failure is fairly benign in the operational realm of flying a Long-EZ.

"Old" Roll TRIM Servo connector

I started by cutting off the D-Sub connector as close to the connector housing as possible.  In both pics above and below you can see the 4-pin Molex connector housing.

Swapping Roll TRIM servo connector

I then reterminated the wires with mini-Molex pins.

New Roll TRIM servo Molex connector pins

And then snapped the pins in place into the Molex connector housing.  BTW, this connector is J6.  I’ll of course wait to terminate & add wires to the other half of the connector when I actually install the roll trim servo.

New Roll TRIM servo Molex connector

My last action of the evening was to rewire the wiring harness for the TruTrak ADI.  As I was taking inventory of all the wires, which included digging into the manuals, I noted that the wires on the TT ADI’s wiring harness connector were simply HUGE!  Although the installation manual calls out for 22 AWG wiring, these wires range from 14 to 18 gage… way too big!  Since the wires were soldered into the 9-pin D-Sub connector, I simply created an entire new TT ADI wiring harness D-Sub connector with crimped pins.  I of course used 22 AWG wires for the new harness.

Rewiring TruTrak ADI wiring harness

Here’s a closer shot of the new TT ADI wiring harness (red, black & yellow) that will replace the old one (white wires).

Rewiring TruTrak ADI wiring harness

•••

28 November 2016 — Yep, today I employed a rudimentary list-form version of the Karnaugh map, or k-map to figure out the circuits going to/from the respective A & B sides of the 3 connectors that I’m using to enable a fairly quick-disconnect of my instrument panel.  If you’re wondering what a k-map is, it’s used in Boolean Algebra and reduction to reduce a multitude of circuits down into the least number of circuits possible and still get all the correct functions out of an integrated circuit chip.  Or, as that Internet thing puts it, “Karnaugh mapping is a graphic technique for reducing a Sum-of-Products (SOP) expression to its minimum form.

Although not overly difficult, it was of course time consuming to go through literally every wire & component to ascertain its relationship to the panel.  Moreover, since I had finalized all the I/O requirements (yes, this is still an airplane building blog, NOT a computer forum… ha!) for my throttle handle switches, I realized as I was building the new connector diagrams that with a little internal (to the throttle handle) consolidation of 3 ground wires, that I only needed exactly 19-pins for the throttle handle connector.  Thus, I could then swap out the 24-pin connector that I had planned on using for the throttle with the now “old” 19-pin connector that I had on hand for the recently put-out-to-pasture GIB Infinity control stick (AKA “the really expensive spare control stick”).  The new configuration for my 3 connectors (I’m going to have to come up with a reference name to identify these things! . . . I’m leaning toward the “PQD (Panel Quick Disconnect”) is as follows:

  • P6: 24-pin AMP CPC – Thick wires/high power & ground connections
  • J3: 15-pin D-Sub – Thin wires/low power & ground connections
  • J4: 37-pin D-Sub – RS232 data & low power transfer connections

With the PQD connectors (trying it out . . . ) squared away I then decided that before I put away the Trio Pro Pilot autopilot wiring harness I would cut & terminate the shielded 4-wire cable for the pitch servo.  I took it down to the shop and determined the required length.  I then cut it WAY shorter than how it comes from Trio.  The excess cable that I cut off is visible above the harness in the pic below (post terminated connectors).

Trio autopilot wiring harness

As with shielded cables, I carefully stripped the outer cable jacket and consolidated the shielding wire to one side.  After twisting it and cutting it down to about a 0.3″ pigtail, I then soldered a piece of black 22 AWG wire to the pigtail.  I then terminated the black pigtail wire in tandem in an AMP CPC socket with the identified ground wire of the 4 wires. I then terminated the other 3 wires with sockets as well.  Also, I added a piece of black heat shrink over the soldered joint to protect the joint and add a bit of strength to the cable for when I eventually set the connector cable clamp in place.  Finally, as I did with the roll servo cable, I performed an electrical continuity check on each wire to ensure my connector terminations were good.

Cut and terminated pitch servo wires

This concludes the connector upgrades for the autopilot’s pitch & roll servos, and the wiring harness pitch & roll servo cable feeds.  The roll servo connector (below right) is pretty much complete, but I haven’t finalized it 100% since I will have to remove the connector to route the cable down the fuselage side & through the firewall.  As for the pitch servo cable (below left), I still need to terminate the 2 autotrim wires and install those into the connector when it gets installed “for good” in the plane.

AP pitch servo and roll servo connectors

The last task of the evening was to review the mounting spacing of the Trig TT22 Transponder on the topside of the Triparagon cross shelf since it could potentially affect the mounting of both the front 1″ overhang on right-side cross shelf, as well as the PQD junction mount on the aft right side of the cross shelf (both on the underside of the cross shelf).

•••

29 November 2016 — First off, I settled on the acronym PQDPanel Quick Disconnect– to describe the connectors and bracket that I’ll be employing to make the task of removing the instrument panel infinitely EZier than without this configuration.  Although there will be some wires & components that will not be disconnected, either through their location just off the upper main Aluminum panel face, or because their wiring is not conducive to being split by a mid-point connector (eg Avidyne IFD COM plug P1002 & Dynon intercom wiring harness).

Speaking of the “upper main Aluminum panel face,” after some impromptu research I’ve decided that since I’m keeping a very large portion of the original panel in tact for strength behind the Aluminum panel face, that I’ll be using 0.063″ 2024T3 for the instrument panel. I was actually in the process of ordering that panel from ACS, when I double checked my spreadsheet and lo & behold, I had a spare 2′ x 2′ panel on hand from years ago.  Woo-hoo!

Ok, back to the PQD.  I had originally ordered a 1/8″ thick 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ angled piece of 2024 from McMaster-Carr quite a while ago thinking that I would hang a bunch of stuff off these cross shelf overhangs in the same fashion that I’m doing now with the clearly much smaller sized 1″ x 1″ angled aluminum overhangs.  This angled aluminum extrusion was just too big & heavy to use in any reasonable quantity, plus as my Triparagon design matured I just didn’t have a need for it.  So into the massive spare pile of aluminum it went.

Then when I was finally hit between the eyes seeing Paul Dye’s panel on the VAF forum as I was trolling for pitot-static info, I finalized my decision to make my panel fully & EZily removable. So I had to get serious on both the quantity & type of connectors to use and where they would reside.  I had had a nascent thought all along of a drop down bracket on the aft right corner of the Triparagon cross shelf IF I did the fully removable panel mod.  Well again, it was time to get really serious so out came the big gun: the 1/8″ thick 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ angled 2024.  If you remember I posted a few days ago, over the Thanksgiving holiday, a mockup of my connectors on the end of this massive 2′ long piece of aluminum. With my electrical connections confirmed, and with the only mod to the actual connectors being that I swapped out the 19-pin AMP CPC connector for a higher capacity 24-pin connector (same diameter), I was ready to install the J3, J4 & P6 connectors into the PQD bracket, and of course make the PQD bracket itself.

I started by marking the connector outlines on the angled extrusion.

Designing Panel Quick Disconnect (PQD) connector bracket

I then used a hole saw to drill the 1-1/2″ diameter hole for the P6 AMP CPC connector.

Making PQD connector bracket

Of course I had to check the fit…. looking good so far!

Testing P6 connector fit in PQD bracket

Then came the odd shaped 37-pin & 15-pin D-Sub connectors.  I figured this would be a total hand-jam custom build process (“custom” means it works fine, but it ain’t always pretty!).  I drilled some small starter holes, focusing especially on the corners.

Drilling out D-Sub slots in PQD bracket

I then expanded out the center area holes with a large diameter drill bit, which is the same diameter as the width of the D-Sub connectors.

Drilling out D-Sub slots in PQD bracket

I then employed my jig saw –and a few expletives!– to finalize the cutouts for the D-Sub connectors.  Here’s a shot of the initial rough connector cutouts in the beginnings of the PQD bracket.

Connector holes made in PQD bracket

And another shot after I cut the bracket out of the angled 2024 extrusion (it was raining so I plunged forward using my Skil saw to cut the bracket out!).

PQD Bracket

I then test fitted the connectors in the PQD bracket.

Connector test fit in PQD bracket

Here’s a shot of the backside of the connectors test mounted into the PQD bracket.

Connector test fit in PQD bracket

I then took the PQD bracket upstairs and mocked it up on my Triparagon cross shelf. After finalizing the mounting location for the PQD bracket on the cross shelf, I then digressed a bit from the PQD bracket and figured out where my first round of lightening holes would go on the cross shelf.

Marking Triparagon cross shelf lightening holes

I took the cross shelf and the PQD bracket down to the shop and proceeded to drill the mounting holes for the bracket into the bracket tab and the cross shelf.  I then added 3 K1000-8 nutplates to the PQD bracket mounting tab.  As you can see, I also drilled 4 lightening holes in to bracket’s mounting tab.

PQD bracket nutplate mounts

Here’s a view of the top of the PQD bracket mounting tab, with the flush rivets of the 3 K1000-3 nutplates visible.

Mounting edge of PQD bracket

I then diverged from working on the PQD bracket for a bit and drilled out the first round of a bunch of lightening holes into the Triparagon cross shelf.  After finishing round one of lightening holes, I then went back to work on the PQD bracket and drilled countersinks for each of the 3 -8 screws into the top of the Triparagon cross shelf (shown 2 pics below).  I then mounted the PQD bracket to the cross shelf.

PQD bracket mounted to cross shelf

I then test fit the cross shelf back onto the vertical Triparagon plate.  Note the 3 countersunk -8 screws securing the PQD bracket into place.  (Note: while I was drilling the PQD bracket mounting holes through the mounting bracket into the cross shelf, the bracket misaligned slightly.  Nothing earth shattering, but definitely a slightly-sloppy mounting AND a loss of cool points!)

Cross shelf test fit with PQD bracket

After I finished with the PQD bracket mounting on the Triparagon cross shelf, I headed out the door to an auto racing shop just across the river in Maryland that sells some high end stuff.  I knew that they sold the same quick disconnect fittings that I’m using for my pitot-static system, so I wanted to take a quick break from the build and take a gander.  Well, it had been raining all day, but there seemed to be a lull.  So I grabbed the keys to the shed, pulled out my table saw and trimmed down the 1″ x 1″ angled 2024 aluminum extrusions that will serve as my Triparagon cross shelf mounting tab overhangs.

I trimmed these angled extrusions down on the sides that will mount to the front underside edge of the Triparagon cross shelf.  I took 0.4″ off, with the obvious resulting width of the top horizontal extrusion arm being 0.6″.  This took all of 10 minutes, and it actually started sprinkling again as I was putting the saw back away in the shed.  With my overhang extrusions cut, I was then off to the racing shop in Maryland.

As a reminder, besides simple weight savings, I wanted to trim down the left side angled extrusion, specifically, to allow me to mount the M760REM COM2 radio about 0.4″ forward on the left underside of the Triparagon cross shelf.  This served to better deconflict the mounting screw placements between the COM2 radio and the GRT GADAHRS that’s mounted on the top side of the cross shelf.  The right extrusion was merely along for the ride since I might as well make them symmetrical, right?!

1" x 1" Triparagon cross shelf overhangs trimmed

Back from the racing shop, and my quest to replace the #40 drill bit that I broke (to no avail), I got back to work. After I collected up the right sized bits for drilling the connector mounting holes into the PQD bracket, I decided to take yet another slight detour to finalize a task that needed finishing: the right-side avionics wall bracket for the P3 & P5 connectors.  I drilled out the 8 total connector mounting screw holes and then did a final cleanup on the bracket by sanding down the edges and ridding it of excess glass fibers around all the holes.  I then test mounted both the P3 & P5 connectors.  I brought down the Trio A/P wiring harness from upstairs to test fit the other side of the P3 connector [confession time: I spent a good 10 minutes looking for that darn P3 connector just to finally realize that I had mounted it to the end of the Trio wiring harness pitch servo cable!].  You can see that I also set the 2 white auto trim wired into the back of the P3 connector as well.

P3 & P5 connector bracket completed

Here’s a longer shot of the P3-A/P Pitch Servo and P5-Infinity Stick Grip connectors test fitted and mocked up in place.

P3 & P5 connector bracket completed

Moving on with more connectors, I then mocked up the PQD connectors P6, J3, and J4.

PQD bracket mounted - view from below

Since I was holding the camera down low taking low-to-high angle shots of the PQD bracket through the right leg hole, I took a few rounds to ensure that I got a good pic.  I had to leave this one in the mix since it looks like something out of Star Wars with a pure beam of energy coming out of the back of the P6 connector.  That’s right folks… no wires for me! Just pure energy transfer in my ship!  HA!

PQD turned on...pure energy!! ha! ;)

Here’s another shot of the PQD bracket and its connectors.  Note that although I originally wanted to mount the D-Sub connectors on the aft side of the PQD bracket (which would be the forward side of the plane), it initially appears that the connection hardware with the mating side D-Sub connectors will be tough to do if I left them aft-bracket-side mounted. I’ll play around with the hardware a bit, but I think that this will most likely be the mounting configuration for these connectors.

PQD bracket - top view

An issue that I noted was after I test fitted the aft side P6 connector’s cable clamp: Hmm, don’t think it’s going to fit since the gap spacing between the cable clamp and the panel is only about 2-5/8″.  It would most likely actually fit, but then of course all the wires would exit and then immediately have to take a hard 90° turn to get to their final destination.  Not good.  So . . .

Uh-oh... Eh, a bit of a space problem!

Be gone vile & wicked cable clamp! (said in thick British villain voice… sorry, my Brit Canardian Peeps.  ha!)

Ok, much better!  As you can see with the P6 connector cable clamp removed I get about another 1.5″ clearance and 4″ spacing overall.  Still slightly tight, but since the GRT HXr EFIS is low profile on the backside this is EZily workable.

Ah, that's better... Bye-bye cable clamp!

And yet another shot showing all my current Avionics Bay connectors.

Connectors, connectors!

I reordered my blog post pics just a bit to make the topic flow a bit EZier to follow.  If you looked closely in my Avionics Bay pic above, you may have noted that I drilled a hole into the triangular panel support and added another RivNut for the second & final Adel clamp that will also be used for the Infinity Stick Grip cable routing from the stick to the P5 connector.  I also added a couple of layers of BID on the bottom side of the support triangle to beef up the RivNut mounting.

RivNut in for stick cable 2nd Adel clamp

Back on the Triparagon cross shelf, with the PQD bracket configured & installed, I then started in on some of the final pieces parts (aka “CrackerJack Bits”) that I need to mount to round out the final electrical system components install on the Triparagon.   I found a good spot for the Piezo Warning Horn on the right underside of the cross shelf. I mocked it up, ensuring it had good clearance with the vertical Triparagon components (it’s close to, but not touching, one of the mounting screws to the right side AG6 warning annunciator). I drilled the holes for #6 mounting screws and then countersunk the 2 screws on the top side of the cross shelf.

Piezo warning horn mounted on right side

Here’s a closer shot of the mounted Piezo Warning Horn with the #6 mounting screws installed.  I used standard nuts on the screws to mock up the warning horn & make it EZily removable.

close up of warning horn mount

I then test fitted the Triparagon cross shelf onto the vertical plate to double check the clearance between the warning horn and other Triparagon components.  In the pic below you can see the 2 countersunk #6 screws, and the warning horn itself through the lightening hole.

Piezo Warning Horn #6 CS screwsHere’s a final shot of the mounted Piezo Warning Horn on the right underside of the Triparagon cross shelf (pic taken from the front of plane).  You can see that it’s close in line to the wiring bundles that will spew forth from the PQD bracket, but also clearly not in the way either.

Piezo warning horn mounted

I then brought my cardboard component mockups that I made a year or so back to check out their general fit on the Triparagon cross shelf.  Below you can see the GRT GADAHRS (their new term for their new AHRS) and the Trig TT22 Transponder behind the GADAHRS.

GADAHRS & XPDR mocked upAnother shot of the cardboard GADAHRS & XPDR mockups.

GADAHRS & XPDR mockups

Just an idea of the fit of the Trig TT22 Transponder on the Triparagon cross shelf.

Trig XPDR mock up box

And the cardboard GADAHRS and XPDR on the Triparagon cross shelf with the rest of the left side Triparagon in view.

The whole shebang

•••

30 November 2016 — I started out today cleaning up the RivNut installed on the triangular panel support.  I knife trimmed the excess 2-ply BID layup and pulled the protective tape from the top of the RivNut.  I then function tested it as you can see below.  Works to plan so far!

With the new Adel clamp in place for the Infinity stick grip cable, I could then check the proper slack for the cable, mount it in the Adel clamps, then mark the cable for cutting to length.

Measuring stick control cable for cutting

I pulled the stick grip out and took it to my mad scientist’s electrical laboratory upstairs. Before starting work on it however, I spent a good 1-1/2 hours reconfirming the wiring pinouts for the P5 connector.  I consolidated 4 ground wires coming out of the stick grip into 2 wires to give 5 open pins, which enabled me to piggy back 5 wires into the P5 connector: 4 for the roll trim servo (behind the pilot’s seat) and 1 for the ELT GPS signal (like many other builders have done, my ELT will be positioned on the outboard fuselage sidewall, on the inboard side of the right strake’s baggage compartment… so just aft & outboard of my right shoulder).  As I was configuring the P5B half (the stick grip side) of the connector, I went ahead and spent another good hour+ figuring out the P5A side of the equation, which is the all points yonder (Triparagon, PQD, panel) side of the connector. It took some time since this process required a good bit of verification & cross-checking with the various electrical diagrams and the component installation manuals.

I had already gotten a late start since I was up late (working on this build!) last night.  I ran out to run some errands in the late afternoon and to pick up some small 4-40 stainless steel screws from a local hardware store that still has a wall of hard-to-find hardware in their back room.  When I got back I toned out all my stick grip wires to check continuity and verify wire colors, since I had swagged some guesses on them as I was building the P5 pinout diagram. With my P5 pinout up to speed, I did some prerequisite tasks for terminating the P5B connector onto the stick grip such as printing out shrink tube labels. For the 5-wire roll trim piggyback cable I checked availability of parts, since I have 4-pin mini-Molex connectors on hand and I need at least a 5-pin (which actually means 6-pin). Again, I don’t want to use a 9-pin D-Sub here, so I added a couple of 6-pin connectors to the Stein order that I’m compiling.  Boy, it’s an obvious statement I know, but the nit-noy parts buying process for these builds is ENDLESS!

Ok, with it being a bit later in the evening, before I started on the terminating the P5 (B side) connector on the Infinity stick grip cable, I wanted to make a decent amount of noise on the Triparagon cross shelf.  Thus, I detoured from the stick grip cable for a bit to drill 10 new lightening holes into the cross shelf — 8 small diameter and 2 bigger diameter holes. The 2 bigger diameter holes, just to the right of the center brackets in the pic below, sit immediately above the mounted Piezo warning horn (bigger, lower hole) and the gear & canopy warning module that I mounted tonight (see next pic).

10 more lightening holes on cross shelf

Yes, folks, it’s the marvel of modern technology! Getting a gear & canopy warning module into the space of a couple of stacked matchboxes . . . why it’s just pure science!  (ok, and integrated circuits… ha!)  Not wanting to NOT gain any progress on the Triparagon today, I mounted the nose gear & canopy warning module with some -6 CS SS screws.  As per usual, I drilled the countersinks on the topside of the Triparagon cross shelf, although admittedly one of the holes didn’t want to cooperate and the countersink is a bit larger, lopsided, and messier than I would prefer.  Still, once the screw is in & the module mounted it would be bit difficult to tell unless really looking hard at it.

Freshly mounted gear/canopy alarm module

I brought the Triparagon cross shelf back upstairs and weighed the whole thing without any mounted stuff.  It currently weighs in at 0.57 lbs, which when added to the Triparagon vertical plate at 0.7 lbs gives me a current total weight of 1.27 lbs.  This is about a quarter pound heavier than my 1 lb goal weight.  The prescription?  I gotta fever for some more lightening holes!  So back to the drill press for another round of sharp-bladed weigh loss!

I then started (finally!) on terminating the Infinity stick grip cable wires for the P5 connector, B side.  After taking a big breath and cutting the cable to length, I then slid the plethora of heat shrink tubes & labels onto the cable.  I then cut the outer cable jacket to expose the 17 inner wires.

Prepping control stick cable with labels

I didn’t take a bunch of sequential pics, so here’s what I did: I started off having to find & verify the pairs/groups of wires for each switch in the control stick.  As I found each new set, I would strip the end of the wires, terminate them with an AMP CPC socket, check continuity, and then mark them off the list.  I also used small pieces of masking tape to keep the pairs/groups of wires together.  After I terminated all the wires, which included 2 sets of 2-pair ground wires, I then double-checked the electrical continuity and then snapped them in place into the correct numbered socket hole.  I then rechecked continuity again just to ensure I had gotten it all right… which I didn’t.  I swapped the 2 green wires and had to pop them out and reinsert them into the correct socket positions.  I toned out the entire cable again to ensure the sockets were in the correct position with electrical continuity, which they were.

Stick grip cable wires terminated into connector

I then went down to the shop, measured the required length of roll trim & ELT GPS pigtail legnths at 10.5″.  Instead of using the 5-wire cable that I have (you’ll see that in pics tomorrow), I decided to simply use free 22 AWG wires. I actually started collecting the wires with the correct color codes (ie white with blue stripe, etc.) when I realized that instead of wasting my good multi-colored wire, I would simply use white wire and use a Sharpie to mark the correct color on the last couple of inches of the wire.  For the the two plain white wires in the bunch, I simply swapped out the white wire at pin #2 for a grey wire, so no confusion would set in while I await my 6-pin mini-Molex connector from Stein. I then terminated the 5 each 22 AWG pigtail wires with mini-Molex pins.

Stick grip cable wires terminated into connector

I then terminated the other end of the 5 pigtail wires with AMP CPC sockets. I verified that my crimps on the terminated wire ends were good by doing a continuity check on each wire.

Roll trim wires and ELT GPS wire

To keep the 5 pigtail wires under control, I threw on a small piece of black heat shrink.

Roll trim wires and ELT GPS wire

I then snapped the pigtail wires into their appropriate socket holes in the back of the P5 connector.  I also went to town on the cable with my heat gun and shrunk all the shrink tubing and labels in place.

Roll trim wires and ELT GPS wire installed

I then did a final continuity check on the pigtail wires, and with that all that was left to do was to mount the cable clamp, that I conveniently did not forgot to put on the cable this time!

Grip stick cable connector ready for cable clamp

Here’s the Infinity stick grip cable terminated with the P5 AMP CPC connector and 5 pigtail wires that will go into a 6-pin mini-Molex connector.  If I wasn’t clear on the pigtail use before, it will allow the 4 roll trim/1 ELT GPS wires to transit into the P5 connector, but still allow me to disconnect the roll trim/ELT GPS cable at the 6-pin mini-Molex connector when I simply want to remove ONLY the Infinity stick grip and cable from the plane. Clearly, in this scenario, once the 6-pin mini-Molex connector is disconnected the 5-wire roll trim+ELT GPS cable would remain mounted under the right armrest.

Stick grip cable with roll trim pig tail completed

Here’s a couple closeup shots of the P5B connector with the cable clamp in place.

Grip stick cable connector cable clamp

Grip stick cable connector cable clamp

I realized as I remounted the control stick, ran the stick grip cable and screwed the P5B connector onto the P5A connector at the P3/P5 mounting bracket that I’m going to have to carefully trim the back outboard corner opening of the armrest to get that big mojamma P5B connector into the armrest!  After that it traverses through the lower instrument panel bulkhead hole fine.

Grip stick cable and connector test install

Also, I’m very happy with the stick grip cable run since it keeps the cable nicely tucked out of the way from the elevator control tube range of motion.

Grip stick cable and connector test install

Here’s a final shot of the freshly terminated stick grip cable connector and installed cable.

Grip stick cable and connector test install

•••

1 December 2016 — Today was kind of a light build day.  I did finalize and submit orders to SteinAir and ACS, but I also wanted to knock out the 5-wire roll trim & ELT GPS signal cable that piggybacks off the Infinity stick grip’s P5 connector.

I started by trimming back the outer cable sheath and collected up my 5 mini-Molex sockets.  This first end that I terminated was for the P5 connector side since all these sockets will mount into a 6-pin mini-Molex connector housing (J5) that I just ordered from Stein.

5-wire roll trim & ELT GPS cable

Here’s the mini-Molex connectors terminated on the P5/J5 connector side of the 5-wire roll trim & ELT GPS signal cable.  Although this cable does of course include the ELT GPS signal cable, I have given it the moniker –and label– of simply the “ROLL TRIM cable.”

Roll trim & ELT GPS cable mini-Molex sockets

I then terminated the 5-individual wires on the roll trim servo end.  The J6 mini-Molex connector on that end is only a 4-pin connector, since that is all that is required to drive the Roll Trim’s RAC T2-10A servo.  I separated out the ELT GPS signal wire and terminated it with a D-Sub pin for future connection with the ELT GPS feed that will have a D-Sub socket.  I then terminated the other 4 wires with mini-Molex sockets.  I then added heat shrink to the wires groups.

5-wire roll trim & ELT GPS cable ends terminated

Here’s a closer shot at both ends of the Roll Trim Cable.

5-wire roll trim & ELT GPS cable ends terminated

Here’s the J6 4-pin mini-Molex connector (A side) on the Roll Trim servo side, and the ELT GPS signal wire.

Roll trim servo side J6 mini-Molex connector

And a look at the entire Roll Trim system.

5-wire roll trim & ELT GPS cable complete!

I was playing around a bit (dismantling) the odd, heavy, large joystick-type switch that came in the throttle handle when I found this guy buried inside of it.  It’s a rather large press-in-fit momentary on-off switch that I’m going to press into service as my GIB PTT button!

Serendipitous discovery of GIB PTT button!

My final act of the evening as I watched Thursday night football was to finalize the rewiring of the TruTrak ADI wiring harness by twisting the whopping three 22 AWG wires together and then installing the backshell to the 9-pin D-Sub connector.  I included the originally installed harness wires in this pic to again show how huge they were/are (14-18 ga)!

Completed rewiring of TT ADI wiring harness

•••

2 December 2016 — Yup, today was a light build day!  Today I drilled a notch in each of the two 1″ parts mounting overhangs that will reside on the bottom front edge of the Triparagon cross shelf. Since I kept the shelf as small in dimensions as possible, space is tight all around.  Thus, the mounting screws at the 4 corners of the GRT GADAHRS box are located very near the cross shelf’s front and aft edge.  At the front side, the GADAHRS mounting screws on each side actually project through the cross shelf plate into the corners of the front parts mount overhangs, at the corner of the angled extrusions no less.

To create a notch to allow for the GADAHRS 2 front mounting screws, I simply clamped the parts mounting overhangs together and then used a larger 21/64″ drill bit to create the notch on each extrusion.  When I finished, the notch was deep enough on the vertical arm, but not the horizontal arm.  To remedy this I just remounted & reclamped them together with the horizontal extrusion arms positioned vertically together in the clamped assembly, then redrilled.  Voila! Good notches with space for the GADAHRS front mounting screws.

Cross shelf overhang AHRS screws clearance notchesI mixed up the order again slightly on my building task timeline due to my pics.  Before I drilled the notch in the parts mounting overhangs, I actually started out by going to town on Triparagon cross shelf and drilling a bunch of 5/8″ and 3/8″ lightening holes, as you can see below.  I feel like I should post a shot of the theater masks showing both funny & sad faces, because that’s exactly what this is… a bit of a lesson in futility it seems like! I drilled all those holes only to have the cross shelf weigh in at 0.53 lbs.  Thus, a total weight loss of only 0.04 pounds!  Wow!  I still have a few more spots where I’ll drill some holes, but I realized after this round of drilling lightening holes that my total target weight of 1 pound for the entire Triparagon assembly is probably not going to be met.  I will of course strive to make it as light as possible, but I think it will most likely have a final weigh-in of 1.2-1.3 lbs. Still much lighter than when I started out, considering the Triparagon vertical plate alone started out at just under 1.4 lbs!

Fiddling with shelf overhangs and shelf supports

I then spent a good 20 minutes measuring, assessing, checking, visualizing, test fitting, analyzing, mocking up & designing my final plan for the diagonal 1/2″ x 1/2″ angled aluminum supports that will be secured to the Triparagon vertical plate about 1/3 of the way down in line with the front edge of the Triparagon cross shelf.  The left & right diagonal supports will connect to the front edge of the cross shelf by being attached to the outer most edge of the parts mounting overhangs.

I will also have one diagonal support on the aft side that traverses from the inboard edge of the PQD bracket to the about midpoint on the aft edge of the Triparagon vertical plate. Clearly this is a total of 3 diagonal supports to keep the cross shelf secure specifically to provide a stable mounting surface for the GRT GADAHRS.  I suspect that once all the wiring bundles are in place and attached to the PQD connectors, and all the other bunch of wiring bundles around the Triparagon, that those will greatly assist in securing the cross shelf from any adverse movement as well.  If not, I’ll be prepared to run another cross shelf support from anywhere in the avionics bay to ensure the cross shelf is stable for the GADAHRS.

The last thing I did before taking off for the majority of the day/evening was to take my 1/2″ x 1/2″ angled support strut extrusion and use it to double check that the space gap between the top of the GADAHRS box (the tallest component on the cross shelf) and the nose structure between the instrument panel and F28 was good.  It’ll be a little tight after some foam & glass goes in there, but the spacing looks fine.

Rechecking GADAHRS to nose clearance

Later this evening, after I returned home, I took a large piece of paper and sketched out actual sized positioning for my switches and their panel positions.  With space so tight behind the panel (again, actually forward of the panel) I was specifically attempting to figure out where to put my Dynon intercom box.  It seems small, and it is fairly petite in height and width.  But add on the wiring harness D-Sub connector to the back side of this thing and now your talking over 6″ deep!  And that’s not even really accounting for the radius of the wiring bends that need to make a turn to go somewhere!  I came up with 3 spots that will actually, physically work and then assessed them on my panel sketch:

  1. Center top of the panel
  2. Left top console immediately forward of the throttle (my throttle quadrant will sit back some from the panel unlike the plan’s position)
  3. Right top console against the sidewall just aft of the stick opening (I did a full range of motion check with the stick and flight controls and there’s plenty of space since I had to kick the controls inboard 3/4″ to allow use of the Cozy Girrrls control parts)

I did pros & cons for all 3 positions, and quickly nixed the top center panel mounting idea. With an input jack for music, and the way the wiring would flow (read: get in the way) on the back side of the panel, this location just won’t work for me.

I will say that one issue I never really understood with Long-EZ’s until riding in my buddy Marco’s Long-EZ is that with the seat bulkheads designed/constructed the way they are, you cannot mount switches or items aft of where you can reach since your elbows cannot move aft at all…  since the physical seat back (aka “wall”) prevents it!  If you do, you have to mount the switch or device in a spot where you can reach over with the opposite hand to manipulate it.  This is exactly what I need to test out tomorrow, since I prefer the intercom face to be mounted on my right console just aft of the control stick/opening, tucked away against the fuselage sidewall.  But the question that needs to be answered is: CAN I REACH IT?!

•••

4 December 2016 — Ya’ll have probably noticed that as I work on any one component, I like to knock out those components directly around it since I’m already “in the groove,” plus it gets those items finished.  In addition, I already know how they fit into the area that I’m working. I understand that my build methodology is somewhat organic, and often unscripted, but staying motivated and simply getting many productive hours in on the build a day is the key to having an airplane sitting on the ramp vs a project in your garage, right?!

And so it is with my electrical system.  There are a myriad of low hanging fruits right now that I’m simply going to knock out: changing as many variables into constants and resolving as many unknowns as I can at this point in the build.

Thus, it is that one of those low hanging fruits right now is the throttle handle.  As I’ve stated before, especially in an airplane as space constrained as a Long-EZ, I am a total believer in maximizing the HOTAS (Hands on Throttle and Stick) concept as much as possible.  If it’s good enough for task-saturated military fighter pilots, it should work fairly well for us too.

I started off yesterday by determining my wiring gage requirements for the throttle switches.  I then assessed the 17 wires in the 2+ ft of leftover blue cable that I cut off the Infinity stick grip.  After listing out all the wires and gages, I determined that I could I repurpose this leftover blue cable for the throttle handle switches.  Since there’s only 17 wires in the cable, I’ll also run two 18 AWG wires for the landing brake along the outside of the blue cable, for a total of 19 wires to the P4 AMP CPC connector.

I then got to work widening the mounting hole diameter for my 5-way castle switch (“joystick”) that controls a few A → B options on the GPS (i.e. GPS to VLOC) or page/screen scrolling functions (Trio fuel screens, GRT screen flips, etc).

Current throttle joystick hole mount diameter

A few months ago I picked up these drill bits specifically for this task: the 39/64″ bit to drill out the majority of the hole diameter, then the 19/32″ bit to fine tune the hole size.

Drill bits for widening joystick switch hole diameter

Here’s the hole post drilling, ready for the 5-position switch.

New throttle joystick switch hole mount diameter

The switch has a plastic keyway on the side for positioning.  Of course I could have removed it, but I decided to leave it in place and notch the side of the hole.  I clocked the switch position so that not only are the finger grips in the 3-6-9-12 O’clock positions, but also so that the ground connector tab was closest to the backside handle opening.

Throttle joystick switch keyway

After notching the hole for the switch’s keyway, I then test fitted the switch.  So far I’m very happy with how this switch is working out!

Test fit of throttle joystick switch

Here’s an inside-handle shot of the 5-way switch, with the ground connector tab on the aft side of the switch closest to the handle opening.

Test fit of throttle joystick switch

Here’s a shot of the back side of the 5-position switch.  Note that the ground tab is the tab on the far left, away from the center 5 tabs..

Throttle joystick switch soldering tabs

I then cut, stripped & soldered the 5 switch position wires and the ground wire onto the tabs on the backside of the 5-position switch.

Throttle joystick switch wires soldered in place

Another shot of the wires soldered onto the 5-position switch.

Throttle joystick switch wires soldered in place

On the 2 other top mounted throttle push button switches… since I couldn’t get these switches out of the throttle handle without destroying or marring them greatly, I simply used the wires that were attached to the switches and soldered them to the identified wires in the leftover blue cable that I cut off the Infinity stick grip.

Well, after getting these 2 switches wires soldered to the blue cable wires, I then toned them out for continuity.  When I check continuity on my Fluke multimeter, I generally just check for sound and call it good.  But this time I actually caught sight of the resistance reading, which was on the order of 6 & 9 ohms for the respective switches. Whoa, pretty high resistance for basic momentary push button switches, what was going on?  Well, under closer inspection I realized that the heat shrink over the wires at the switches wasn’t just wires, there were resistors in line as as well.  Of course I don’t need resistors for these 2 switches, so they had to go.

After I removed the offending resistors, then the issue became soldering the switch leads onto the switch posts down in the very depths of the throttle handle housing.  Hmmm, I’m decent at soldering, but this proved to be a bit challenging.  I did it, but my confidence in the physical strength of the solder joints wasn’t as high to my liking, so I did what any responsible builder would do, I reinforced those solder joints by burying them in potting goop!  After testing the switches electrical continuity (good) and checking that the resistance was back down into the normal range (0.2Ω), I then used E6000 to cover up the freshly soldered switch lead wire joints.

PTT and COM1 Freq FlipFlop switches potted

I went ahead and ran a strip of labels and printed off a few to label the switches on the inside of the throttle handle.

Throttle switches labeled

I then got to work on the SW024, the transponder Ident button & SmartStart arming switch.  I cleaned up the switch wire tabs and soldered the correct colored wires to the tabs.

Transponder Ident and SmartStart Arming switch

I then mounted the 5-position switch (SW020) and remounted the transponder Ident & SmartStart arming switch (SW024) into the throttle handle using RTV silicone, and set it aside to cure.

Interior throttle handle

As the 2 freshly added throttle handle switches cured, I then got to work on the nose gear UP & DOWN switch.  Again, I verified the correct size and colors of the wires, then soldered them into place.

Throttle mounted nose Gear switch wired

I then finished off the mojamma of the throttle handles switches, the landing brake switch with its multiple cross-pairs of wires.

Nose Gear and Landing Brake switches wired

Here’s a shot of the day’s tasks, with a total of 4 out of the 6 switches installed.

Throttle handle switches

•••

5 December 2016 — As I was finalizing my last blog post the doorbell rang. It was my mailman delivering my order from Stein.  I finished my blog post then opened up the box to check out all the goodies.  I took the 6-pin mini-Molex and quickly mounted the B-side to the roll trim cable. I already had labels made up so I quickly labeled both sides of the J5 jack as well.  (As a reminder, my labeling scheme for connectors is quite simple: the “A” means it’s closer to the nose while “B” means tail side.  If the connector or jack is vertical, then the hard mounted side is “A” and the removal side is “B”).

Roll trim cable terminated into J5 connector

I then took a few minutes to prep the fuselage for me to sit in it and make some airplane noises.  I needed to figure out where my Dynon intercom box is going to call home, so I pulled the wood blocks out from under the nose wheel, cleaned the tools and extraneous components out of the front seat and climbed in.  I discovered that I can reach back and manipulate the controls of the intercom if it’s against the right fuselage sidewall, just aft of the stick.  How about 2″ aft of the stick… uh, nope, not really.  Too difficult there.  But half an inch back I can curl my hand down comfortably and work the intercom controls.  I like this position because it’s really unclaimed, unused real estate that could be put to good use.  Also, I’ve had my eye on the left armrest area just forward of the throttle quadrant to use for my environmental controls panel.  Now that I’ve decided to put the Dynon intercom on the right armrest console just aft of the stick I can reclaim the forward left armrest console for these environment controls!

In addition, in thinking about where my intercom control head would go, I naturally wondered where I was going to put my headset jacks.  I’ve discussed this with Marco in the past, and we had yet another quick exchange about it via text.  I really wanted to keep the headphone jacks off the panel, but where to put them?  After doing a bit of research last night, I would like to give a shout out to Nate Mullins –and in turn, James Redmon– for highlighting the very aft side of the armrest for being a good location.  Now, they picked the aft side of the left armrest to mount their jacks, but I’m leaning towards the right for 3 reasons:

  1. It keeps the headset wires on the right side of the seat when ingressing/egressing the aircraft.
  2. It keeps the electrical wires on the right side of the aircraft (power wires right, antenna cables left), and
  3. It keeps the shielded wire run betwixt intercom box and jack very short, and since  this specific wire run is the most susceptible to gremlins and things that go static-y in the night, I would rather keep it as short (aka noise free) as possible.

So that’s 2 fairly significant component placement decisions that I made today…. after literally years of those questions floating around in the recesses of my mind.

Ok, on to the task at hand: wiring the throttle handle.

While down in the shop I collected up my throttle-handle-mounted nose gear switch that I had gooped up the aft end of with E6000 to secure the wires both to each other and to the switch body. Since these switches are older (but still look in great shape) and I had to wrangle off the massive amounts of old wiring, I want to make sure both the solder connections and switch connecting tabs stay secure, and are subjected to as little vibration as possible.

E6000 goop to strengthen wires

Here’s another shot of the E6000 gooped-up nose gear switch.

E6000 goop to strengthen wires

To finalize my wire-securing process on the nose gear switch, I added 2 pieces of heat shrink around the base of the wires and goop.

Double ply of heat shrink tubing

I then added a piece of heat shrink that secured the wire/goop subassembly to the body of the switch.

Heat shrink tubing to secure wires & terminals

I had to run down to my favorite hardware store to pick up a 2-56 stainless steel CS screw since I apparently lost one the nose gear switch’s mounting screw somewhere.  I test fitted the screws, took it back apart, and then judiciously used some E6000 on the screws and around the base of the switch mount before permanently mounting the nose gear switch into place on the throttle handle side.

Nose gear switch mounted into throttle handle

Here’s how the developing rats nest of wires looked after I added the nose gear switch.

Nose gear switch in interior throttle handle

I should note that before I ran out to get the missing 2-56 screw (try finding one of those when you don’t know where it ran off to!) I gooped up the wires/switch intersection of the landing brake switch with E6000.  Here are a couple of slightly fuzzy pics to show you how it looked when it cured.

Fuzzy pic #1 of E6000 on landing brake switch

Fuzzy pic #2 of E6000 on landing brake switch

I then repeated the heat shrink process on the wire/goop area of the landing brake switch.

Heat shrink tubing on landing brake switch

Then secured it to the switch body with a clear piece of heat shrink.

Final clear heat shrink on landing brake switch

I then installed the bottom and last switch for the landing brake into the throttle handle.

At this point it was time to start connecting all the throttle handle switches’ wire leads to the blue cable.  I spent a good 3 hours soldering all the switch lead wires to the blue cable harness wires.  I had already identified which wires in the blue cable were 22 AWG and which ones were 20 AWG, and had to account for this when wiring up the switches.  I did only 2-3 wires at a time, ensured they toned out, then added heat shrink (that I had to ensure was on the wires before I started soldering) over the solder joint.

Throttle handle Landing Brake switch installed

Then it was time to start cramming… wires that is.  There was actually enough room in the throttle handle housing to stuff all the wires back into ti comfortably.  As you can see I reclaimed one of the ring connectors from the original harness and pigtailed it off the ground wire for ground to the throttle handle housing.  You can also see that in this and subsequent pics that I finalized securing the two extra 18 AWG wires on the cable.  I also labeled the cable and added lengths of heat shrink to secure the two 18 AWG wires.

Stuffing wires back into the throttle handle!

I then remounted the outboard side plate of throttle handle with the 3 original screws.

Throttle handle side cover reinstalled

Here’s a shot of the throttle handle with all the switches rewired & remounted and the cable prepped for having an AMP CPC connector terminated onto it.

Throttle handle cable completed

I then terminated all the wires with AMP CPC connector sockets.

AMP CPC sockets terminated on throttle handle cable

Since I hadn’t actually created the pinout scheme for the P4 connector, I stopped work and spent a good 45 minutes determining the pinouts for this connector.  Once done, I toned out the wires to ensure both continuity and to check wire IDs since there were multiple wires for each color (eg lots of red & black wires).  As I determined what wire was what I then placed them into their appropriate numbered socket hole.

Sockets inserted into P4 AMP CPC connector

Here’s a closer shot of the throttle handle switch wiring terminated into an AMP CPC connector housing.

Sockets inserted into P4 AMP CPC connector

And here’s a shot of the front face of the P4 B-side AMP CPC connector.

Sockets inserted into P4 AMP CPC connector

I then secured the wires with silicon rubber self-sealing tape before finalizing the cable clamp install.

Final wire wrap on P4 connector before cable clamp

I then mounted the cable clamp to finish up the throttle handle cable wiring.

Throttle handle cable assembly completeThrottle handle cable assembly complete

Here’s a shot of the full length throttle handle cable.

Throttle handle cable assembly complete

And a final shot of the throttle handle and P4 connector.

Throttle handle cable assembly complete

•••

6 December 2016 — I started off today by calling Bob at TCW Technologies and had a good discussion on connecting the IBBS power cables to the 9-pin D-Sub connector that will be the new X-Bus (vs the ATC fuse panel).

I then went down to the shop, marked up the front top edge of the Triparagon cross shelf in the location where I would drill the beginning holes for the rivets that will secure the parts mounting overhang tabs.

Triparagon cross shelf marked for front overhangs

My first real action though was drilling the front & aft rivet holes on the mounting flanges that secures the cross shelf to the vertical plate.  These are the first 2 of 4 total larger diameter rivets that I’ll use to secure connect these Triparagon pieces.  I couldn’t actually press the rivets in place since I can’t get in there with my rivet pressing tool, so I’ll have to mount the rivets when I remove the vertical Triparagon plate.

Riveting cross shelf to vertical plate

I drilled the aft rivet hole first (right, above) since the cross shelf needed to come up about 0.070″ on the front side to be at 0° level, which is what the double-checked longerons showed.  After drilling the front side & inserting the rivet, I confirmed that the cross shelf was still level from front to back, matching the 0° longeron level… which you can see it did!

Cross shelf matches 0 degree longerons

I took this shot specifically to show the 6 countersunk screw positions that are used to hold the cross shelf to the vertical plate via the angled mount extrusions and nutplates. You may note in the next pic that the nice aluminum material in the areas between the pairs of countersink holes were targeted for lightening… Yes, the weight loss program continues!

Removing cross shelf plate

In the pic above you can see all the dots along the leading edge of the top cross shelf where I marked the it for the rivet drill points.  I then drilled a 1/16″ pilot hole at each dot where I would be installing a rivet.  I then I clamped each overhang piece in place, drilled the #40 hole through the cross shelf pilot holes into the overhang extrusion clamped underneath.  I then deburred all the rivet holes, and then mounted one overhang at a time.  I would drill the countersink on a rivet hole, press the rivet into place and then move onto the next rivet.  You can see all the rivets installed below, which of course means that the overhangs are mounted.  Also note there are a number of new lightening holes.  After I drilled the new lightening holes, I spent a good 20 minutes cleaning up the rough edges of the larger cross shelf lightening holes.

New lightening holes & rivets!

The overhangs have the dual purpose of providing a mounting surface for the CrackerJack parts, and also to provide a flange to mount the upcoming diagonal supports that will secure the outboard ends of the cross shelf to the upper mid-point area of the vertical plate.  You can see that I pre-identified the locations for the airspeed switches and drilled the mounting holes on the overhangs before riveting them in place.

Cross shelf front overhangs - action shot

Here’s a shot of the overhang rivets . . .

Cross shelf overhangs rivets

And a shot of the entire Triparagon cross shelf . . . in repose!  ha!  I weighed the cross shelf with its attached brackets, and with the new lightening holes it weighs in at 0.476 lbs. Add that to 0.7 lbs of the vertical upright (which will get another round of lightening holes) and I get a respectable 1.176 lbs total currently.  Again, I suspect that I’ll come in at about 1.1 lbs for final Triparagon install weight.

Cross shelf front overhangs

I then mocked up and test mounted my Crackerjack parts, aka airspeed switches, onto the front overhang mounting tabs.  Note that airspeed #1 is mounted on the right side (left in the pic) on the aft side of the overhang tab staggered behind and just to the left (looking from front) of airspeed switch #2.  I mounted airspeed #1 to allow me to adjust the target airspeed set point with the setscrew.

Airspeed switches test mounted

I then spent a good couple of hours updating my IBBS wiring diagram and determining the pinouts for my PQD (Panel Quick Disconnect) connectors.

•••

7 December 2016 — I started off today by updating and printing out my connector pinout sheets for the following connectors:

  • P4 – Throttle Handle AMP CPC
  • P5 – Infinity Control Stick AMP CPC
  • P6 – Panel Quick Disconnect (PQD) AMP CPC
  • X-Bus – IBBS-Powered Avionics Bus 9-Pin D-Sub
  • J3 – PQD Panel Power Connections 15-Pin D-Sub
  • J4 – PQD Panel Signal Connections 37-Pin D-Sub

At the tail end of my updates my buddy Marco called.  We talked a bit on EZ stuff, and as we spoke I got to work on soldering two 16 AWG wires to the back of a 9-Pin D-Sub connector (that I repurposed from its original role as the TruTrak ADI wiring harness).

This 9-Pin D-Sub will become the new X-Bus, replacing the original 8-slot ATC fuse holder that was the X-Bus.  As per one of my very educational discussions with Bob from TCW Technologies on the IBBS install, he informed me that I don’t need to power a fuse panel since all the components powered by the IBBS must not max out past 5 amps, and the integral 10-amp mini-ATC fuse on the side of the IBBS protects these items.  I had already chucked a panel-mounted switch that manually switched IBBS power to E-Bus power (EZ’er to let the IBBS to perform this standard function), and now I was eliminating more weight and complexity by swapping out the ATC fuse panel  X-Bus for the new & improved 9-Pin D-Sub connector X-bus.

Now, I did originally plan on using two 18 AWG wires, but Bob advised to use 16 AWG wires.  They still seem like a bit of overkill to me, so I have to admit I went 16 AWG on the other 2 wires (power & ground) that Bob intoned should be 14 AWG.

Building the new X-Bus from a 9-Pin D-Sub

Here’s a closer shot of the two 16 AWG wires to be soldered onto the back of the 9-Pin D-Sub connector that will replace the current X-Bus.

Building the new X-Bus with two 16ga wires

I then soldered the 16 AWG wires into place.

New X-Bus 16 ga wires soldered onto 9-Pin D-Sub

And prepped them with heat shrink . . .

New X-Bus Connector & Cable

Prior to mounting the wires/connector assembly in a D-Sub backshell.

X-Bus D-Sub connector backshell

Since I want the IBBS-to-XBus circuit to have a break in it –since the wires pass through the Napster bulkhead– to allow the wires to be run without concern of the D-Sub connector getting in the way, or if unable to traverse bulkheads, I terminated the ends of the two 16 AWG X-Bus feed wires with knife splice terminals.

Forward end of X-Bus cable: 2 knife splices

Here’s a shot of the finished X-Bus cable (A side, from IBBS).

Completed X-Bus to IBBS cable

I then traced out, toned out and cut off about 9 feet of wire to trim down the four 20 AWG X-Bus feed wires coming out of the IBBS.  I toned them out to ensure I had the correct wires, then terminated them into pairs, into 1 knife splice each.  Thus, what I have is 4 wires exiting the IBBS unit, then those getting terminated into pairs with knife splices, then each pair connecting to a 16 AWG wire that feeds the X-Bus 9-Pin D-Sub connector (actually, the way I soldered all the pins together, it’s technically a 9-Pin D-Sub Buss).

IBBS side of X-Bus leads: 2 knife splices

I then turned my sights on the 3 pass-thru power wires and 1 main bus voltage sensor wire.  In my discussion with Bob, he said it was perfectly ok to run these all together and fuse it with 10 amps off the main bus.  So that’s exactly what I did! [Conversely, the IBBS install manual shows one fused feed to the main bus for the 3 pass-thru wires, and another fused feed for the sensor wire… always good to talk straight to the guy who designs this stuff!]

Since the other end of these 4 wires converged into one is simply a FastOn PIDG connector, I didn’t create a break in this wire group.  I merely bundle them all together and slathered with hot solder!

IBBS 3 pwr & 1 sensor wire into a 16 ga wire

As you can see, I did the Bob Nuckolls’ technique of making a 2-wire pigtail from the 16 AWG wire, then wrapping that around the bundle of wires so that they are all nice and tightly snug before soldering.

Soldering 4 IBBS wire leads into one 16ga wire

Here’s my IBBS 3 pass-thru power wires and bus volt sensor wire soldered to the !6 AWG wire on its way to the main bus.

4 IBBS wire leads soldered into one 16ga wire

I then did the same thing for the 3 ground wires that get grounded on the panel ground block (G4).

3 IBBS GND leads soldered into one 16ga wire

You may have noticed that some of my wire labels are hand written.  There are 2 reasons for this: First, I ran out of the correct size wire label heat shrink (I’m waiting for an order to arrive), and second, I’m reclaiming some printed labels that fell victim to becoming obsolete when the new world order of PQD came into existence.  I prefer to be more practical than flashy, so to save money I simply lined through the old printed label on the heat shrink piece, flipped it over and ever-so-nicely printed a new, correct label on the other side.

In hindsight, I should have taken a pic of the entire IBBS wiring harness before I started this process to contrast with what you see below, which is just a few random pics of the completed IBBS wiring harness.

IBBS & X-Bus wiring

I have 3 wires out of the original 14 that did not get cut or combined:

  • IBBS Master Switch (to panel switch)
  • Info lead (to GRT HXr EFIS…via J4)
  • IBBS Low Voltage Warning (to AG6 Warning Annunciator)

And the wires that did get cut & combined:

  • 4 X-Bus Power leads into 2x 16AWG wires
  • 3 Pass-thru Power wires & 1 Bus Volt Sensing wire into 1x 16AWG wire
  • 3 Ground wires into 1x 16AWG wire

Among other things, this simply means that I now have half the wires to keep track of (7 vs 14) coming off the IBBS wiring harness, and fewer wires passing through the Napster bulkhead.

IBBS & X-Bus wiring

One final point of note.  Due to how the IBBS box is mount vertically on the front left face of Napster, as the wires in the harness exit the IBBS D-Sub connector they must immediately make a U-Turn to get keep from dragging on the floor of the nose battery compartment.  One of my first tasks tonight was to place a large piece of black heat shrink over all the wires in the harness.  Then before applying heat, I zip-tied the harness back onto itself in a “U” shape.  I then heat up & shrank the tubing and it kept its “U” shape perfectly.  Pretty cool!

IBBS & X-Bus wiring

•••

8 December 2016 — Today I started out by finishing up the lightening holes on the Triparagon cross shelf.  I drilled small 3/8″ holes in literally every spot that there was space to, again to get this thing as light as possible without compromising strength.  I removed the PQD bracket to drill lightening holes on the cross shelf above where the bracket mounts.

Triparagon cross shelf - Top

After drilling the last of the lightening holes, I then spent a good hour and a half deburring the holes and cleaning up the cross shelf.  I still need to finalize the deburring, but I at least got the rough stuff off the hole edges.

Triparagon cross shelf - Bottom

I also drilled lightening holes in the PQD bracket, which again I need to finalizing the deburring on those holes as well.  I then mounted the P6, J3 and J4 connectors.

PQD connectors & Bracket

Here’s another view from the top.

PQD connectors & Bracket

And an aft bracket view (technically a forward view).

PQD connectors & Bracket

I then spent a couple of hours prepping my Jack Wilhelmson Landing Brake wiring harness.  Below you can see the included switch panel for mounting the switch and LED lights to the instrument panel.  I removed that switch since I replaced it with the switch in the throttle handle to control the Landing Brake, which means that the wiring goes through the P4 connector.

The majority of time I spent working on this bad boy wasn’t the actual physical wiring stuff, but in tracking down, confirming & verifying what wires went where to label them correctly.  Again, since I’m utilizing connectors now in my electrical system wiring scheme, much of my previous A → B wiring is now A → ⊗ | ⊗ → B where ⊗ is the connector.  Since many of my wire labels are now outdated, I simply crossed out the old label with a Sharpie and rewrote the new labels by hand to use up my stock of “bad” labels on this wiring harness.

Landing Brake wiring harness

Since the wires coming out of the relay decks were too short to comfortably terminate into the P4 connector, I had to extend these wires.  Instead of soldering them, I went the lazy route this time around and simply used butt connectors.  I then used heat shrink over the crimped butt connectors.  As you can see, I finished labeling all these harness wires, and then crimped AMP CPC pins on the ends of the 4 Landing Brake wires that will get terminated into the P4 connector.

Landing Brake harness wires AMP CPC pins

Here are the 4 Landing Brake wires terminated into the P4 connector.  Note that I slipped the cable clamp into place before terminating the wires.

Landing Brake harness wires in P4 connector

A closer shot of the Landing Brake wires in the P4 connector (A side).

Landing Brake harness wires in P4 connector

•••

9 December 2016 — I started off today with the intent to finish the edging on the lightening holes on the Triparagon cross shelf.  But that didn’t happen.

What did happen was I did a test fit of the IBBS & it’s ‘new & improved’ wiring harness.  Part of that test fit was to ensure that ALL the wires –not just the IBBS wires– fit through the hole & protective grommet that traverses the Napster bulkhead.  And, as per usual, since I just happened to be in the neighbor hood, I figured I couldn’t really test if the wires fit unless the actual wires (and cables) that will run through this transit hole are used in the test.

So I decided to go ahead and get the landing landing light and taxi light wiring/cabling knocked out.

First up was the landing light.  The installation manual for the AeroLEDs Sunray Plus landing light calls for using 20 AWG shielded wiring to power the light.  I only had 22 AWG on hand, so I used it since I’m confident that it will work since the actual run is only about 5 ft vs 3-5 longer than that if it was buried out at the end of a wing somewhere in a “typical” install.

I started by stripping away about 2″ of the outer jacket.

2-wire 22AWG shielded landing light cable

I then wrangled and cut the shielding wire.

Wrangling shielding on landing light cable

And soldered a piece of 22AWG black wire for the ground wire.

Ground wire soldered to shielding on landing light cable

I then heat shrinked it all up: red to symbolize positive power, and black for the negative ground wire.

Landing light cable end reinforced with heat shrink

I then terminated the wire ends with mini-Molex socket connectors.  Note that the black pigtail wire will actually terminated on a mini ground tabs block that I’ll have mounted onto the negative post of the battery.  [Note: Although I’m not a fan of Molex connectors for the larger, multi-pinned connectors, the mini-Molex connectors work just fine for 2-6 wire applications … just my opinion, YMMV].

Landing light cable min-Molex sockets & ground pigtail

I then prepped the landing light side.  I had 2 extra wires that I simply folded back onto the main cable and heat shrinked in place.  I then terminated the remaining 3 active wires (red for light power, black for ground, yellow for wig-wag) with mini-Molex pin connectors.

Fuzzy land light wires prepped & pins crimped on

And then attached the 4-pin mini-Molex connector (J0, A side).

mini-Molex connector (J0A) housing in place

After running the landing light cable through the hole & grommet in Napster, I then connected the J0B side of the landing light connector to the J0A side.  Looking good!  Note in the pic above and below the white wire leads of the taxi light, those will change in a bit.

Landing light cable connected to landing light

I had previously installed the IBBS to test its fit.  As a side note, after some investigation I realized that the end of the IBBS box cover (that has the “IB” label attached) was bowed out a bit & thus not allowing me to use normal sized AN3 nuts.  So I removed the IBBS cover, gently pressed the end back straight, reattached it and . . . Voila!  It mounts perfectly!

Back to the wiring… Get this: to get all the wires to fit, I actually have to removed the grommet out of the lower wire transit hole in Napster, then push the 2 knife splices through, then the PIDG FastOn connectors for the IBSS power & ground wires, then reinsert the grommet before the rest of the wires can go through.  Also, I can’t terminate OR LABEL any more wires at this time if they are going to fit through that hole…. VERY TIGHT FIT! Which is good because of course it keeps the wires secure.  It also gave me a chance to try out my “Wire Spoon” that I picked up from Stein a million years ago and have never used.  Works great and really does allow you to insert wires through the hole in the midst of a big wire bundle that you would otherwise not be able to get in there.

IBBS test install & wire run to ensure fit/clearances

The next couple of shots are simply closeups of the IBBS wiring harness crossing over the nose gear back up battery, just underneath the nose tool box, and exiting out of the nose through the lower hole in Napster.  (You get a better shot of the IBBS harness “U-Turn” in pic #2).

IBBS wiring harness in & test fit wires thru BH

IBBS test install & wire run to ensure fit/clearances

Here’s a long view of “Electron Alley” showing the myriad of wires that are currently in play and that I’m contending with.

"Electron Alley" - lots of wires!

I then set to work to terminate and wire up the Taxi Light with a 22 AWG blue wire for power (blue just happens to be the color of the wires used in the Infinity stick grip for that switch, so I carried that color all the way through) and a 22 AWG black wire for ground.  Note that I also labeled the wires on the light side, something I didn’t have space to do on the landing light.  I finished off the installation using a 2-pin mini-Molex connector (J7) that I bought well over a year ago specifically for the taxi light connection.

Taxi Light connector & wiring

Here’s a closer shot of ‘Electron Alley’ . . .

"Electron Alley" - lots of wires!

And a shot of the lower wire transit hole in Napster from the aft side.  The wires you see are currently all the wires that I plan on having transit through this hole (yes, things can change, thus the emphasis on the word “currently”!).

Aft side Napster BH wires thru hole and grommet

I also wanted to get a pic of the old ATC fuse block X-Bus (left) compared to the new 9-Pin  D-Sub X-Bus (right).  As I pointed out before, this modification will save space, weight and complexity (e.g. no individual fuses).

Old vs New X-Bus

I was heading out to dinner with a buddy of mine, but before I ran out I wanted to get one more thing finished for the evening: widen the lower left hole in the instrument panel bulkhead to allow the P4 connector, which was just a tad too big (note the black markings on the sides of the hole) to fit.  I used a sanding drum on my drilled, fired up my shop vac and went to work.

Widening lower left hole in IP BH for P4 clearance

Less than a minute later . . . Voila!  Now the P4 connector just fits through the hole!  My next step will be to add an Adel clamp to keep the throttle handle cable secure.  I would like to reiterate my ongoing theme here by pointing out that this is the type of stuff I really want to get figured out before I close up the nose, while I have infinitely much more access to work on it all.

P4 connector access thru IP bulkhead

•••

12 December 2016 — Last night I diagrammed out the 8-position DPDT relay required for the new taxi light servo.  Besides adding the relay into the mix on the Lights wiring diagram page, I also updated the wire depictions from the switch to the landing light to better highlight the shielded cable.  I also added in the J0 & J7 connectors.

Today was all about the incorporation of airspeed switches, of which I have 3:

  • AS001 – 100 knot exclusively switching trim fast⇔slow to provide faster trim response at slow speeds and minute trim changes at high speeds.
  • AS002 – 70 knot for low speed warning (AG6), RAM air open warning (AG6) and taxi light deployment, all occurring below 70 knots.
  • AS003 – Exclusively for heated pitot tube shutoff below 40 knots.  This is a safety feature of course since I have an extremely high heat producing element in the nose of a plastic airplane that absolutely must be off when the plane is not moving.

Airspeed switches

The speeds may seem a bit generic right now, but remember these are simply target speeds and are totally adjustable.  I’ll of course dial them once the plane is flying.  Also, a point of note is that none of the items controlled or reported on by these airspeed switches are actual flight control components.  If the trim airspeed switch dies, then I’ll simply control the plane with a higher or lower than optimum sensitivity on the trim, or simply sans trim…. a pain yes, but a safety of flight issue? no.

The above all being stated, I realized this weekend that I had a potential issue with my airspeed switches: I just had no idea how to wire these guys up!!  They seem simple enough in theory, and are right there for the purchasing at Aircraft Spruce… so what’s the big deal?  Well, at the bottom of the scant bit of info on a 1-page install instruction sheet, it inconspicuously states at the bottom: Maximum switch current = 20 milliamps.

What???

20 milliamps?!  What do I have that uses anywhere near 20 milliamps?? … except maybe my 2 AG6 warning annunciators!  Hmmm . . . another mystery.  How do I wire this airspeed switch in series to something I’m controlling, when the airspeed switch can only handle 20 milliamps?  If I were simply using this to report warning states from airspeed-switch-only derived info [<, > speed x] than no worries.  But clearly that isn’t the case.

Thus, the first thing I did today was called Bob at TCW and left him a voicemail with an overview of my dilemma.  I then worked on some needed updates on this web site for a couple hours. I also updated my grounding buss pinout matrix (below).

Grounding buss matrix

After knocking out some administrivia, Bob called me back.  He essentially told me to roll up my sleeves, sharpen my #2 pencils and start taking some notes.  Also, I needed to reach back into the recesses of my mind and not only find, but dust off, Ohm’s Law, because we were going to need it to figure these babies out boys & girls!

To make a long story short, the bottom line in getting to the holy grail figure of 20 milliamps or below when one is incorporating a relay with an airspeed switch is to ensure the relay coil resistance is above 600 ohms minimum, which of course drives down the amount of current (using 12V power = < 20 mA) that can pass through it. Ok, so I got that down, plus the need to use a protective parallel diode, much as we do on our main power battery contactors.

After getting off the phone with Bob I just needed to take a breath and do some self inventory, of my relays of course.  Sadly, the quintessential B&C-sold S704-1 relay (below), of which I have a few at the ready, have a relay coil resistance of 144 ohms.  No good! I then had to go on the hunt for the proper relays on Mouser to find acceptably rated relays.

Moreover, the sticky wicket for a high-current-powered item like the heating element in the pitot tube is that relays that have high coil resistance typically handle lower current loads. Nonetheless, I have an order queued up with mouser, and will test out a few different relays.  I also have an alternate design to stick with my S704-1 relay as the first line relay to power the pitot tube, which itself would be controlled by a much smaller second line relay controlled by the airspeed switch (AS003). (relay photo from BandC.biz)

S704-1 relay

With all my new found knowledge on airspeed switches, I quickly got it all annotated on paper by then doing yet another major design overhaul on my Lights Wiring Diagram. After ensuring I have everything identified that I need up to this point, I’ll pull the trigger on my mouser order in the next day or two.

Lights wiring diagram

Ok, the taxi light operations and airspeed switch incorporation really were the last 2 long poles in the tent as far as electrical system design that I had serious questions on.  With the code cracked on both of those, I can move on to finishing round #1 on the Triparagon & avionics bay/nose components wiring.  I’m sure I’ll have wiring questions on some of the panel devices and the engine ignition & monitoring component wiring, but that’s a ways down the road.

•••

13 December 2016 — I started off with a couple of shots of the Triparagon showing how it looks as removed from the airplane with all the electrical accoutrements attached.  You can see on the right side that there’s a big bare spot where the original X-Bus once resided.  Now I have more space to mount more toys in the future!

Removed Triparagon - Left side

Removed Triparagon - Right side

The goal for the day was at a minimum to get the diagonal supports in for the cross shelf. I was able to accomplish that.  I was also trying to get the last round of lightening holes drilled on the Triparagon vertical plate . . . that did not happen.

I got to work by stripping the Triparagon of all of its encumbering components, ensuring that each component and its hardware got bagged so as to keep track of they myriad of little pieces parts.

I then gathered up my 1/2″ x 1/2″ by 1/16″ thick 2024 angled aluminum extrusion and did a bunch of figuring out, measuring and head-scratching to configure the right side diagonal support.  Because of the location and angle that it intersects with the vertical plate, I went ahead and decided to simply mount it with 2 x 4-40 screws to the aft end of the Schottky diode heat sink, which in turn is of course mounted to the Triparagon vertical plate.

After getting all my measurements and angles finalized, I marked up the extrusion and cut it.  Since it’s really cold outside and it was more trouble than it was worth to pull out a miter saw, I simply cut this by hand using my German hack saw.  I needed to remove a length of one side of the angled extrusion on the top-oriented end to make room for the static line attached to airspeed switch #1.   I cut the perpendicular side with my hacksaw, but for the rip cut at the corner edge I used the Dremel with a cutoff wheel (pic is a bit blurry).

Right diagonal support arm

I then drilled a hole for a #8 screw through both the diagonal support and the right corner of the cross shelf overhang mounting tab.  I then drilled and riveted a K1000-8 nutplate to the top end of the support arm.  As you can see, I also marked the diagonal support arm with lines running the full length to drill lightening holes.

Right diagonal support arm

I then drilled a series of 3/16″ lightening holes.  Although I used my drill press, they’re still far from perfect.  But they lighten the piece and provide holes to secure wires to, so requirement met!

Here’s a shot of the finished right-side diagonal support arm for the Triparagon cross shelf.

Right diagonal support arm

On the left side I had nothing to mount the support arm to on the lower end of the arm, so I cut a 1.55″ piece of 1/2″ x 1/2″ by 1/16″ thick 2024 angled aluminum extrusion to make a small mount bracket.  I planned to have the mount secured to the vertical Triparagon plate using the same 2 screws that also secures the aft edge of the Schottky diode heat sink (different screws than the 4-40 ones used above to mount the right side support arm).

I set the length (technically height) of the mounting bracket so that the screw holes would be about 0.2″ in from the top & bottom edge, so after cutting the mounting bracket to 1.55″ I simply marked and drilled a hole 0.2″ from the edge.  I also tapped the hole to accept a 4-40 screw.  I can of course drill this out later if I simply want to use a nut with the screw later on.

Left diagonal support arm bracket

I then mounted the bracket in place, removed the lower screw and marked the hole with a Sharpie.  I then removed the bracket and prepped it for drilling.

Left support arm bracket marked for drilling

Jumping ahead (I had a pic or two in-between, but they came out frustratingly blurry!), here’s the completed left side diagonal support arm.  Note that I used rivets to secure the arm to the mounting bracket.  Also note that I drilled a number of lightening holes in not only the support arm, but the mounting bracket as well.

Left side support arm

I then mounted the diagonal support arms in place on the Triparagon and snapped a bunch of pics.

Here’s a shot from the front right side of the Triparagon looking aft.

Triparagon - Right side view facing aft

And another one from the front left side looking aft.

Triparagon - Left side view facing aft

A head on shot looking aft.

Triparagon - View facing aft

And what you would see if the instrument panel was see-thru.

Triparagon - View facing forward

A bit closer from the front right & left looking aft.

Triparagon support arm - from front right

Triparagon support arm - from front left

A low angle shot looking from the left side forward.

Triparagon support arm - from aft left

And the final low angle shot looking from the right side forward.
Triparagon support arm - from aft right

•••

14 December 2016 — I started the day off by finalizing and pulling the trigger on both a Mouser order and a quick ACS order (it appears that someone –ha!– forgot to order some 22 AWG shielded wire…).

I then got to work on the Triparagon vertical plate.  I stripped off the cross plate, diagonal support struts and the Schottky diode/heat sink and got to work for the last and final serious round of lightening holes.  The starting weigh-in this round for the Triparagon vertical plate, with the grommets and cross shelf brackets including 6 x K1000-3 nutplates, was 0.82 lbs.  My goal was to get the weight down by another 0.2 lbs.

After drilling a 1″ lightening hole and 10 each 5/8″ holes, it weighed in at 0.78 lbs.  At this point it was really time to get work.  As you can see, I Swiss cheesed this thing like no tomorrow to drive the weight down to its possible lowest, without sacrificing strength.  I used an 11/32″  (0.344″) drill bit to get all the in-between spots that I could while, again, still leaving enough meat on the bone for this thing to be as strong as it was before.  It is an interesting concept that you can remove so much material, but when I flex it, it feels as strong as when it was a solid panel.

Making Swiss Cheese!

After squeezing in as many 11/32″ holes as I could (I have about 3-4 more places I can get with a slightly smaller bit), and drilling 3/16″ lightening holes on the upper arms of the cross shelf mounting brackets, I’m sitting at 0.68 lbs. for these components.  Obviously, this isn’t quite as low as my 0.62 pound mark, but I’ve squeezed just about all the weight out of this thing that I reasonably can.

When I weighed the entire Triparagon assembly as a whole, it weighed in at 1.18 lbs, including hardware.  Since I have just a handful of lightening holes to drill, if I add in the weight of the aircraft-side mounting tabs and the hardware, I’m right around, or just a hair over, 1.2 lbs.  My initial goal was a pound or less for the entire Triparagon’s added total weight, so an extra 3.2 ounces ain’t bad… I can definitely live with that.

Thus, as Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”  Clearly I didn’t reach my ‘perfect’ requirement, but I got pretty close.  In putting in a lot of effort to get as much weight off these components as possible, I feel like I’ve definitely achieved excellence in that regard.

•••

15 December 2016 — I’d like to first off point out that it was a year and 10 days ago (Dec 5, 2015) when I first used the term “Triparagon” in my build blog.  Now I of course use it as a common term. And what was once just a flurry of ideas and thoughts regarding the Triparagon has made its way into finalized reality.  What the Triparagon has become is even better than what I had envisioned about 13 months ago when I first had the epiphany to do this.

The best plans rarely account for everything, and as far as the Triparagon is concerned I greatly underestimated the time and effort it would take to simply create the lightening holes.  Thus, when I looked at the Triparagon this morning, after the “last & final” round of lightening holes, I should have been put in the looney bin when I decided I could go just one more round using a smaller 0.190″ drill bit.  So that folks is exactly what I did: an entire FINAL round of lightening holes!

I also noted that I could actually remove a bit more weight by rounding the corners of the vertical Triparagon plate.  So before I started in on the final round of 0.190″ lightening holes, I drug out my Saber saw and did some cutting.  After I finished rounding off the corners, I then got to work drilling the small holes.  If the area could take a 0.190″ hole and still have a good amount of metal for strength, it got drilled!

Rounded corners

After the final round of lightening holes was finished, I then set about for the next 3-1/2 hours in chamfering the holes.  I did it the in my typically poor man’s milling machine style by using my drill press with a slightly larger bit, and going very slowly (the downward motion, not the bit) to create a nice edge on each hole, albeit a fair number of them are a hair off center.

More Swiss cheese!

After chamfering the smaller holes I then finished the edges of the larger holes. [I had to finish up the last handful of smaller holes with a cordless drill since my chuck assembly literally fell out of my drill press while chamfering one of the holes.  Luckily the hole wasn’t next to anything important because it created a decent sized crater where a nice lightening hole had once existed!]

I then drilled and installed 6 larger rivets across the top of the cross shelf mounting brackets to permanently mount them to the Triparagon vertical plate.  Afterwards, I drilled 0.190″ lightening holes in-between the rivets.

Top cross shelf brackets riveted in place

Then, for the first time, I officially mounted the cross shelf to the Triparagon vertical plate!

Cross shelf permanently mounted - but removable!

Here’s a top view of the cross shelf.  You can see the lightening holes of the cross shelf mounting brackets through the lightening holes in the cross shelf.

Cross shelf permanently mounted - but removable!

And another view of the cross shelf, after I installed the diagonal support arms (which again requires mounting the Schottky diode heat shrink).

Diagonal support arms installed with cross shelf

Here’s a side view of the finished & assembled Triparagon structure.

Triparagon - side view

I then took it down to the shop for one final test fit (and the requisite round of pics!) before remounting all the electrical components back onto it.  I figure it will be a long time before the bare Triparagon structure sees the light of day again.

Triparagon final test fit

Here’s a shot primarily showing the diagonal support arms and the front cross shelf overhangs.

Triparagon final test fit

And from the right…

Triparagon final test fit

Here’s a shot from the aft side of the now permanently (but removable!) cross shelf attached the vertical Triparagon plate.

Triparagon final test fit

I removed the Triparagon from the fuselage avionics area and took it back upstairs to start reattaching the electrical components to the structure.

Besides the required Schottky diode heat sink, the next items to get attached were the back-to-back attached AG6 warning annunciators (AG6A & AG6B).

AG6 Warning Annunciators remounted

Remounting Triparagon components

I then remounted the Roll Trim relay board.

Now, I wanted to use some type of thread locker but all I had was red & blue.  I went out on a quick quest to find some purple Loctite, for small diameter screws, but as per usual it was a lesson in futility after visiting 3 different stores.  I remembered reading a forum post regarding thread locker from our friends in the VANs world.  Sure enough I found it.   A guy on the forum reported success with grey silicone RTV, and recounting in my mind the characteristics of the blue RTV I had used (not wisely!) to protect the bolt threads of my canard mounting tabs when I glassed the shear web, I figured I would use that vs. an actual thread locker (second pic below). To be clear, I only used it where I wasn’t using a nut on the other side of the plate to secure a screw.

Roll Trim control board remounted

Blue Silicone RTVI then remounted the 4-port USB hub with locking screws & nuts, and then the Avionics ground bus (G5) and Carbon Monoxide detector (CO), both with blue RTV.

Avionics GND bus/CO dectector/USB Hub remounted

I then remounted the Main Bus and E-Bus, which share the top 2 screws & AN3 nuts, and thus are physically clamped onto the Triparagon plate.  The bottom screws for the E-Bus got blue RTV.  Only one bottom screw for the Main Bus got blue RTV because the other one is shared as the aft mounting point for the SmartStart module, so it too gets an AN3 nut.  Below you can see the E-Bus and the SmartStart module mounted on the left side of the Triparagon.

E-Bus and SmartStart module remounted

And here’s the right side of the Triparagon, with the Main Bus remounted.  I also remounted the Trim relay box (TCW’s Safety-Trim) which shares its aft upper screw as the forward mounting point for the SmartStart module on the opposite side.  The other 3 stainless steel countersunk screws on the Safety-Trim box got slathered up with blue RTV.

Main Power Bus and Trim Relay box remounted

I then remounted the PQD connectors: 1 AMP CPC connector and 2 D-Sub connectors.

PQD connectors mounted

Here’s a shot of the aft side of the remounted PQD connectors.  Notice how bare the area is just to the right of the PQD connectors …

PQD connectors mounted

Not anymore!  I mounted the gear & canopy warning module (WG) and the Piezo warning horn (WH) in the space just forward of the PQD connectors, on the bottom left side of the cross shelf.

Gear/Canopy and warning horn

Here’s another shot of the installed gear & canopy warning module (WG) and the Piezo warning horn (WH).

Gear/Canopy and warning horn

I then got to work on doing a final mount of my 3 airspeed switches.  Airspeed switch #2 and #3 were fairly EZ, but #1 was a bit of a pain.  I had to remove and trim down the top of the horizontal arm piece on the left diagonal support to allow clearance for the airspeed switch.  Specifically clearance for one of the FastOn connectors that mount on the underside of the airspeed switch, which was not accessible with the current configuration of the diagonal support arm.

Airspeed switches #2 and #3

After trimming the diagonal support arm, I remounted it and test fitted airspeed switch #1. There was still just a bit of interference with the support arm, but I had removed all that I could before actually cutting into a lightening hole.  I found a 3/4″ 4-40 spacer and cut it in half, and tried out the 3/8″ spacer (vs the 1/4″ spacer I was already using!). Voila!  That did the trick.  I then mounted airspeed switch #1 to finish off the mounting of all the “CrackerJack” parts.

Airspeed switches #1, #2 & #3

Here’s a closer, albeit blurry, shot of the right-side mounted airspeed switches.  You should still be able to make out the airspeed set screw for airspeed switch #1 through the hole in the cross shelf overhang.

Airspeed switches #1 and #2

And here’s a shot from behind, showing the staggered #1 and #2 airspeed switches.  Note the clearance between airspeed switch #1 and the top of the diagonal support arm.

Airspeed switches #1 & #2 - aft view

The final, no kidding, total weight penalty for installing the Triparagon is right at 1.2 lbs.  Of course if you take into account the amount of wire in runs saved, and the myriad of separate mounting hardware, glass and epoxy to mount things on the sidewalls in the avionics area, I’d argue that there’s at least a quarter of a pound there, making the comparative weight penalty more around 3/4 of a pound.  The weight comparison also doesn’t take into account the increased ease-of-use for the Triparagon.

•••

16 December 2016 — As I mentioned before, my final act on this big first round of working on the electrical system will be to wire up all the cross connections I can from points A → B on the Triparagon itself.

I started off working on the gear & canopy warning module, and its partner in crime: the warning horn.  I wanted to get those wired up as best possible since they reside immediately above all the PQD connector wiring.  My first task was to extend the positive side (red) lead out of the Warning Horn, which connects through a 3A fuse on the Main Bus. I fired up my trusty soldering iron and soldered a length of red 22AWG wire to extend the Warning Horn lead.  I then added heat shrink over the joint, labeled the wire, and then terminated it with a FastOn connector.

Solder splice to extend Warning Horn lead

Here’s a big picture shot of my work on the right side Triparagon.  Once I get the cross connects on this side complete, I’ll move to the left side.

Wiring right-side Triparagon cross connects

Besides airspeed switch #1, the majority of my cross connects have been between right side Triparagon resident components and the PQD connectors; primarily the big P6 connector, which you can see in the upper right corner.

Wiring right-side Triparagon cross connects

Here’s a quick shot of the area where I do the majority of my cable building and connector terminating/assembly.

Wiring connector termination station

•••

18 December 2016 — I didn’t get a ton done today on the right side Triparagon component wiring, but I did get some significant stuff done.  I did get a few more P6 PQD connector wires terminated, labeled and in place, but today was really all about getting the remaining 3 Integrated Backup Battery System (IBBS) leads up to speed.

The 3 leads the IBBS wiring harness that I left long before are the EFIS backup battery info lead, the X-Bus voltage (AG6) lead, and the IBBS power on/off switch lead.  The issue is that of the 3, I can’t terminate 2 of them since I wouldn’t be able to fit them through the hole & grommet in the Napster bulkhead if I did.  The X-Bus voltage monitoring lead, which is an optional lead that would normally power an LED warning light, is the only one I could terminate since I simply chose to use the ‘ol inline D-Sub pin-to-D-sub socket connector trick (again, ala Bob Nuckolls).

Since a D-Sub pin is barely –if at all– bigger than a 22 AWG wire, then I had no issue terminating the voltage info wire lead with one.  That being said, however, although I printed the labels for this wire I can’t heat shrink them in place until after I get the wire installed through the Napster bulkhead!  The labels simply add too much diameter and since they’re rubbery in texture, too much friction.

IBBS side D-Sub battery info pin

Now, the X-Bus voltage monitoring lead is a little unique in this configuration since it also feeds a piggy-backed wire to the AG6 warning annunciator that lights up if there is a low voltage condition on the X-Bus.  Again, in the stock installation configuration, this would be an LED lighting up, but I’m connecting it the AG6 for the warning annunciation.  To ensure the proper power on the circuit I needed to place a resistor in the circuit to protect the AG6 (and mimic a load of an LED light… I know, not much juice there).  I originally had identified the need for a 2K Ohm resistor, but I only I had a 1.5K resistor on hand, so in it went… good enough!

Thus, my first task of the day was to solder a small lead onto the 1.5K Ohm resistor, or perhaps solder the resistor to the lead . . . who knows?!

Soldering lead to 1.5K Ohm resistor

Anyway, here’s the resistor soldered to the 22 AWG wire lead.

Lead to 1.5K Ohm resistor soldered

I’m using the same configuration for soldering a resistor inline as I did for the Voltage Regulator, which allows for excellent strain relief for the soldered resistor (BTW, I picked up this nifty trick off the EAA workshop videos).  To the open side of the resistor I then soldered the AG6 lead (white/green stripe wire) and a mini-pigtail terminated with a D-Sub socket (purple/yellow stripe) to later mate up with the wire coming from the IBBS (that I terminated with a D-Sub pin/above).

IBBS D-Sub, AG6 & X-Bus leads soldered in place

I then terminated the initial mini-lead with a D-sub pin, since this will actually get terminated into the 9-Pin D-Sub X-Bus connector (B side).

X-Bus D-Sub pin terminated in place

I then covered each of the solder joints with heat shrink.

Initial heat shrinks

And then the entire resistor zig-zag joint with a piece of heat shrink.  Note the 3 other leads –coming from the P6 connector– that are terminated into the X-Bus 9-Pin D-Sub connector.

Heat shrink on wires for strength

I then test fitted it into the 9-pin D-Sub back shell, confirming my initial hypothesis that it would fit.

Test fitting wire bundle in D-Sub back shell

I then mounted the opposite side of the back shell in place.  The fit is tight, but not uncomfortably tight where it has to be forced.  (Both sides shown below).

Bundle fits in 9-pin D-Sub Backshell!9-pin D-Sub Backshell, from other side

•••

20 December 2016 — Well, as per usual I knocked out one of the “low-hanging fruit” items first.  I had to go down to the shop to measure some stuff & check component fit in the nose, so I drug the Radenna SkyRadar ADS-B receiver and power cable down there with me.  I checked the required length of the cable and then upon returning upstairs, I cut the power cable.  This included cable, by the way, had a cigarette lighter charger adapter on the end of it.

I then verified positive & negative sides of the cable and then terminated each wire with a D-Sub pin.  Later on, without the ADS-B receiver in hand, I looked up its 2-character code and somehow derived that it was “DX,” so that’s what I used on the labels.  Then after affixing the heat shrink labels I realized that the code was actually “AD”…. not “DX”.  Ugh! So, instead of redoing the labels, I double checked my list and sure enough I wasn’t using “DX” for anything else, so I simply swapped the component ID sticker label to DX.  This all took place after I took the pic below, but the component ID is now DX for the ADS-B receiver.  Endless fun in Never-never Land kids!

Sky Radar ADS-B receiver power wires terminated

I then got to work on my main task of the day: getting the heated pitot tube circuit completed between the airspeed switch #3 (40 Kt) control relay and the pitot tube power relay.  Since I got the correctly rated relays –as defined by Bob at TCW Tech– in from Mouser, I could move forward on wiring up my #2 and #3 airspeed switches.  To be clear, my buddy Marco is working on a high end control box for the heated pitot tube that when completed can easily be implemented into this system.  As for now, I’m simply using a $3 relay to ensure that my pitot system is ready, barring any delays that Marco may incur on the Arduino-based heated pitot tube control system he’s developing.  After all, he has an airplane to build as well!

Here’s a shot of my general purpose relay.  Again, the main requirements for these specific relays that I’m using for the airspeed switches was A) minimum 600 Ω resistance on the power coil, and B) small, narrow body to allow EZ placement inline to the wiring.

40kt Airspeed switch #3 control relay for Pitot Tube

Since I was going to heat shrink wrap this baby after I finished, I went ahead and removed the NC (normally closed) pin since it had no role in this circuit design.  What remained where the 2 coil posts to the right, then moving left the common (C) terminal, and then far left the NO (normally open) terminal.

40kt Airspeed switch #3 control relay for Pitot Tube

I then soldered the power (red & red/yellow) wires into place. And the ground control wire that hooks into tab 1 of the airspeed switch (orange/black).  As per Bob at TCW, I also soldered in a 1N4001 diode between the power connections across the coil.

Wiring airspeed switch control relay for Pitot Tube

On the NO terminal I soldered in a long 22AWG wire that terminates into + side of the heated pitot tube POWER relay (here I’m working on the control relay… again, there are 2 total relays for this circuit).

Wiring airspeed switch control relay for Pitot Tube

I then wrapped the wire leads around the body of the relay for strain relief and then heat shrank the whole assembly together.

Airspeed switch control relay for Pitot Tube done

Here’s the finished product, with each wire appropriately terminated and labeled.  The black wire twisted in with the purple/blue wire is simply the return ground for the + / − coil control on the heated pitot tube POWER relay (RL005).

Airspeed switch control relay & pitot tube power relay

Next I plan to build the airspeed switch #2 relay much in the same fashion as this one.  AS #2 will be a 70 Kt control relay for taxi light (allowed to extend below 70 Kts), the RAM air valve open warning (below 70 Kts), and the Low Speed (~stall) warning.

•••

24 December 2016 — I started off today by finishing up the wiring harness, for lack of a better term, for the MGL RTC-2 clock.  I printed out the heat shrink labels, put them on, and then terminated the wires into the connectors (P6 and J4, both B sides).

MGL RTC-2 Clock Wiring Harness finished

With the wiring finished I then decided to do a quick checkout of the RTC-2 clock, so I hooked it up and fired it up.  I then familiarized myself with the screen system and set up some of the parameters.  With everything looking good I turned it off, pulled the plug and put it back on the shelf.

Function testing MGL RTC-2 Clock

I then started in on wiring up the relay for airspeed switch #2 to control the 3 components that are controlled by this airspeed switch, all below 70 knots:

  • Taxi Light extension
  • Low speed warning (via AG6)
  • RAM air butterfly valve open warning (via AG6)

Note in the pic below that I cut off the Normally Open (NO) pin since it’s not required in this configuration.

Airspeed switch #2 component control relay

For the power feed side of the relay, off the NC pin, I tied 3 wires into one to connect to the relay.  Again, I did the Bob Nuckolls’ technique of using a pigtail from the single wire to wrap around the wire bundle.

Airspeed switch #2 component power feed

Here’s a closeup.

Airspeed switch #2 power feed wire splicing

I then soldered the wire connection bundle.

Airspeed switch #2 power feed wire splicing

And then covered the joint with some heat shrink for wire security.

Airspeed switch #2 power feed wire splicingI then soldered the power lead to the relay and wrapped the wires around the relay in prep for heat shrink.

Airspeed switch #2 -- soldering wires in place

Which I added next.  The heat shrink really does a good job of holding the wires securely in place.

Airspeed switch #2 wiring completed

I then terminated and labeled the wires. I also built the separate wire for the #2 terminal on the airspeed switch, which is simply a ground wire to the avionics ground bus (G5) [single black wire in upper right corner].

Airspeed switch #2 harness completed

I then got to work on the last ancillary relay that will be added (at least at this point) to the electrical system: the COM1-COM2 PTT switch relay.  Since I only have an (ON)-OFF-ON switch available to me on my control stick, I had to use a relay if I wanted to use that switch to flip between my COM1 and COM2 radios for PTT.  Here’s the switch positions:

  • ON (Up) – NO relay position that closes to switch PTT to COM2 radio
  • OFF (Middle) – Default NC position, keeps PTT on COM1 radio unless flipped up.
  • (ON) (Down) – Momentary ON position that is NOT run through the relay.  Controls COM1 radio freq FlipFlop (COM2 radio FlipFlop & functions controlled via HXr EFIS). Does not effect the middle OFF/NC relay position.

I started with the main bus fed power wire and soldered it to the coil pin.

COM1-COM2 selector relay -- RL009

I then soldered the other wires into place.  The purple wire connects to the COM1-COM2 PTT flip switch on the control stick.  The 3 wires with the black heat shrink are all 22 AWG shielded wires.  The common wire goes to the Dynon Intercom, with the other 2 wires going to the COM1 and COM2 radios, respectively. (COM1 = NC, COM2 = NO)

COM1-COM2 selector relay - shielded wiring

As with all the other relay packs that I’ve assembled, I then wrapped the wires around the relay and covered it with heat shrink.

COM1-COM2 selector relay completed

[Operational Note: RL9 has since been upgraded to a 3PDT relay, see below]

•••

27 December 2016 — Today I receive a pack of 1/16″ roll pins that I ordered, so I was able to mount my gray finger grip back onto the landing brake switch post (permanently).  Last year I had to drill out the original roll pin in order to get the finger grip off to then allow me to remove the switch from the throttle handle housing.  In fact, the hole that is now visible on the side (top) of the switch grip wasn’t there when I started last year and was created as a result of my drilling endeavors.  Presently, I put some E6000 on the bottom side of the switch to help seal up the roll pin hole.

Barring any other adventures, this does it for the completion of my throttle handle switch installation, wiring & prep.

Air Brake Toggle Switch Finger Grip

The remainder of my work over the past couple of days has been around finalizing the electrical system push. For one, I started compiling a list of even more electrical system components I’ll need for the future (shielded wiring, consumables, etc.).  I also printed out a couple of batches (~12) of heat shrink wire labels and attached some of those.

One main thing I’ve been doing is updating my electrical diagrams.  You can imagine there is simply a myriad of data that needs to be annotated (in digital form, vs. my own chicken scratches!) on these diagrams: wire colors, wire sizes, wire labels –these change a lot with the addition of connectors– circuit changes, etc.  I would say that it’s not uncommon for me to have anywhere from a dozen to 50 data points on each diagram that requires updating, which in and of itself isn’t necessarily or overly difficult.  However, the crosschecking (or consolidating) of ground points, bus tab positions (again, or piggybacking) –and making the decisions on those as well– is what eats up a good bit of time.  And of course there’s the oft required research that may accompany any such decision.

In addition, I’ve done (or simply documented) major circuit design revisions, mainly the items that are controlled via the airspeed switches and/or ancillary relays.  I also did a major overhaul of my panel dimmer and cockpit lighting & dimming circuit design as well. As a point of reference, I haven’t touched this particular wiring diagram since June 2014, so it definitely needed some attention.

•••

4 January 2017 — Over the holidays I’ve been quietly working on the odd & end aspects of various areas of electrical stuff in my push to get as far as I can on finalizing the electrical system before moving on with the rest of the build.

I updated the wiring diagram for the AG6 warning annunciators, driven in part by my decision to only have actual warning annunciations communicated by the AG6 displays.  Thus, I decided to transfer the simple ON/OFF LED displays for those items that I merely want to know if they are in an on or off state (start armed, taxi light, pitot tube & fuel pump) off of the AG6s.  I ordered what look to be some high end LED annunciator buttons off of Ebay for these 4 ON/OFF indicators.  I’ll assess those when they arrive and move on from there.

I have one more item to report as for warning annunciators: as I was doing my research for what I should employ as simple device ON/OFF indicators, I ran across a post on the VAF forum from Paul Dye (Editor in Chief for KITPLANES magazine) arguing the merits for having a backup Oil Pressure warning indicator that was not integrated into the glass cockpit system… in other words, not reported by the EFIS or the Engine Management System.  I assessed this for a few days, and finally concluded that if I did have a catastrophic display outage and was looking at nothing but red “X”s on the EFIS displays that it would be nice to have ONE annunciator light to provide the overarching status of my engine health, and oil pressure is arguably (as Paul Dye so eloquently does) the biggest. For a weight penalty of 3 ounces, I decided I would incorporate this backup oil pressure status into my warning annunciation scheme.

I also decided that I was long overdue in doing a thorough ops check of the Trutrak 3-1/8” ADI that I picked up off of Ebay from an RV driver as an attitude reference backup to my glass panel.  I did a quick review of the instructions and fired it up.  Since I had the GPS puck plugged in I wasn’t quite sure why I wasn’t getting the GPS track info in the window where the 3 lighted dashes appear.  Well, I got back into the manual, did a quick online search and still couldn’t find an answer.  Hmmm, did I have a bad unit that needs repaired?

I couldn’t ponder on it long since I had to run out and help a friend move some furniture (the bane of being a pick-up truck owner!).  Well, I arrived at the location a bit earlier than they did, so I decided to call Trutrak and find out the story on the 3 dashes.  It turns out that the 3 dashes are normal & that no track info is displayed until the aircraft is in motion…. Ok, another good instrument ops check!

Ops checking Trutrak ADI

•••

11 January 2017 — Today I decided to crack the code on just how the AG6 annunciators (again, I have 2) are programmed.  Well, the programming manual might as well have been written in Mandarin Chinese when I started, but after working through it bit by bit I finally got the swing of it.  The weirdest thing about these annunciators is that you only have one interface to program them, the button –also the annunciator screen– which makes things interesting.  There are only 2 inputs that the screen recognizes, akin to Morse code: a short press [<0.7 sec] and a long press [>0.7 sec].  It also recognizes the rate and combinations of these presses together (analogous to the ‘double-click’ on a computer).  Again, once I worked at it a few times the input was really a non-issue. Add a little patience and it’s actually something new and fun.

One issue I had was that I failed to realize that there was an online spreadsheet that had the codes that I needed to program (or reprogram) these annunciators.  My being remiss in having this critical document on hand was evident after a few telephone and email discussions that I had with Rich from aircraftextras.com.

AG6 Warning Annunciator Screen

With the spreadsheet in hand I was able to effectively program about 80-90% of the input screens that I wanted.  To be clear, I had the installation manual that described the entire programming process, but what I didn’t have was the spreadsheet that had the required codes to tell me what screen ID numbers to input for the warning screens that I wanted annunciated… until after talking with Rich of course!

AG6 Warning Annunciator Screen

Since the AG6, as with what seems like the majority of experimental aircraft products these days, is traditionally geared towards the RV crowd, there are some unique warning annunciator screens I would like that are not on the list of hundreds of screens already preprogrammed on the AG6.

After finalizing all the programming I could do, I determined that I needed 2 completely new screens and slight modifications to 2 other screens to provide me what I’m looking for in my warning annunciation scheme.  The 2 new screens are “IBBS Low V.” for my IBBS unit, and “RAM OPEN” / “RAM CLOSD” for my engine RAM air intake.

AG6 Warning Annunciator Screen

As for the pics above, I would like to point out that the top pic portrays the actual visual appearance the best of these 3 pics.  A brilliant, bright red light is really hard to capture with any of my cameras, and comes out looking orange and pale, and is not representative of its actual appearance (the same thing holds true for the indicators below).

Finally, the top pic showing “CANPY CLOSD” is one that I want changed to “CANPY LOCKD” (there is a screen ID for the latter, but for some reason it too is showing as simply “CANPY CLOSD”).  There will be no “ALT.” screen, but rather “Low Volts” for the main bus low volt state (via the B&C LRC-14 voltage regulator).

The last pic above is the annunciation that will show up for a few seconds immediately following engine start to show that the starter solenoid is not hung up (“hung start”).  As a reminder, a hung starter state is dangerous since huge current flow is rushing through the system from battery to starter and back unabated, which will fry the battery… with even possibly more bad smoking, fiery stuff to follow (Dick Rutan addresses this in CP #99).  To be clear, the more important screens are the red, flashing warning annunciations that will come and stay on until recognized with a screen press, or the warning state ceases on its own.  Thus, the entire time the starter is powered there will be a flashing red light depicting “STRTR ON” until it’s disengaged, at which point the green annunciator screen shown above will flash on.

Moving on…

As I mentioned the other day, in my quest to finalize both my warning annunciation scheme and my device ON/OFF indicators (below) I ran across a discussion from Paul Dye (Editor in Chief of KITPLANES mag) arguing that a simple, separate, non-EFIS or engine management system linked low oil pressure light should be incorporated into one’s lineup as a primary tell-all of engine health if your spiffy, modern glass cockpit goes Red-X on you.

I thought that for 2.3 oz it sounded like some good informational “need-to-know” insurance, so I bought this oil pressure switch from B&C to incorporate its alarm out state as an input into the AG6.  When the oil pressure is low (as in pre-engine start) a red, flashing “LOW OIL P.” annunciation will alarm (this is an adjunct warning light, not a replacement, of the EFIS-depicted engine instrumentation).

Oil Pressure warning switch

This oil pressure switch actually has 3 electrical connections to allow for a Hobbs meter to be wired up as well, if so inclined.  Here’s the back of the oil pressure switch, showing the N.O., N.C. and COM electrical connection posts.

Oil Pressure warning switch

Lastly — something I’m extremely pleased with is these babies below that were delivered today!  Again, as I mentioned before, after I assessed my warning light system I decided that I would revise my original decision to run all but one pair of LED panel indicators through the AG6 annunciators, in order to make the AG6s strictly inflight/actual warning annunciators. Thus, those devices that I simply wanted to know were in an ON or OFF state would get downgraded to just LED lights again.

Now, I did order a myriad of LEDs in one my of Mouser orders, but my spidey sense told me there had to be something better out there.  After messing about online a bit here & there over the past few weeks, I found these.  They’re simple LED indicators for airline cockpit simulators that I found on Ebay (these are 737 panel indicators).  I wasn’t sure if they would work, but at less than $4 a piece, I figured I would pull the trigger and test them out.  I’m very glad I took a chance!

Non-warning ON/OFF LED Indicators

Again, the red and green indicators don’t photograph well, although the blue and amber lights are fairly good depictions of how they look.  These 4 items are the ones which I wanted their ON/OFF states communicated since –other than the fuel pump under my thigh support– I would have no real way of knowing if they are actually in an on or off state (yes, I could tell if the taxi light is on at night, but how about during the day?).

Non-warning ON/OFF LED Indicators

Best of all, these are low current and very lightweight indicators, with all 4 weighing in at less than 0.05 lbs.  I will run them through a dimmer so that their brightness can be dimmed at night, and turned up to their brightest during daylight flying.  One point of note is that I reserved the brightest LEDs (red & blue) for the ground op devices: START ARMED to indicate when the engine starting system is ready, and the TAXI LIGHT on indicator.  This leaves the FUEL PUMP and PITOT HEAT as the less bright, but still clearly visible, indicator lights for flight ops.  In addition, I reserved the only red light, denoting an actual real hazard, for the START ARMED indicator… since a swinging prop typically ensues immediately after it lights up.  So, although definitely listed in the “great-to-know” category, the other indicator lights (and their associated colors) do not denote hazardous states.

•••

23 January 2017 — First off, when I spoke with Rich at Aircraft Extras about adding new AG6 warning screens (shown below) to a couple of new chips for me, I added a bottle of canopy cleaner and a tire air nozzle extension to the order to optimize shipping costs.

Aircraft Extras order

Here are the 2 new AG6 chips that Rich programmed for me.  To be clear, he just didn’t simply program them willy-nilly, but went off a fairly detailed spreadsheet that I created for him that listed out the majority of the field parameters.

AG6 annunciators' updated chips

The 2 new AG6 chips include a verified screen description number to display Canopy “Locked” (versus simply “Closed”) . . .

AG6 Canopy Open Alarm

And an updated EZ binary version of Landing Brake Up and Down (versus the already programmed Landing Brake “On” and “Off”) . . .

AG6 Landing Brake Down Alarm

Along with 2 completely new alarm conditions and screen displays:  RAM Air Open and Closed (to ensure I close the RAM air scoop to keep FOD out of the engine) and IBBS Low Volts (IBBS-specific low voltage alarm to show the back-up battery is not charging or is under charged).  I had Rich program these alarm screens as yellow since they fall more in the caution category in my opinion, but I can easily change the colors later on if I want.

AG6 RAM Air Scoop Open Alarm

AG6 IBBS Low Volt Alarm

•••

14 February 2017 — Today I spent a few hours on getting my AG6 programming data organized.  I consolidated all the programming parameters onto one sheet per AG6 (they’re labeled AG6A & AG6B), printed them off and stuck them in my Electrical Wire Book right behind Wiring Diagram #18: AG6 Warning Annunciators.

AG6-A & AG6-B programming pages

Since I still had the electrical leads connected to AG6 #2 (AG6B), I decided to go ahead and program it as well.  It took me a good hour to get all the parameters dialed in –there are 32 parameters just for the individual warning screen definitions alone– and another 45 minutes trying to troubleshoot an issue with the very last alarm screen: the STRTR ON warning screen (which denotes a hung-up starter) which for some inexplicable reason [at least to me] is only showing the green STRTR OK screen.  Not gonna cut the mustard!

After no joy in troubleshooting the Starter On warning screen, I emailed Rich at Aircraft Extras, Inc. to get his input on how to fix the issue.

I also whipped together a very quick video to offer a little insight into what I’m up to on these AG6 warning annunciators.  Be forewarned!  The AG6 screen colors & labels don’t show up very well.  But you’ll get the general idea nonetheless.

•••

28 February 2017 — One good thing about not getting this plane built on schedule is that it allows for me to implement really good upgrade mods that would normally mean downtime & increased complexity on a flying bird.  In other words, I can take just a scant bit of extra time and roll these new mods into the build plan in whatever area before I ever start in that specific endeavor.

My build buddies apparently understand that I like bright shiny objects and will take off after them with aplomb if any catch my fancy.  Well, Dave Berenholtz from OZ obviously understands this too well and sent an email asking me if I was aware of what Marc Zeitlin was cooking up in his evil lair.  Apparently Marc was dissatisfied with the standard operations of the Automatic Extension (AEX) feature of Jack Wilhelmson’s EZNoseLift electric nose gear system.  The AEX simply provides an automatic feature of retracting the nose gear after takeoff once the airspeed is above 90 knots, and conversely, will extend the nose gear if the airspeed is less than 90 knots.  Short and sweet.

Well, Marc undertook about a year-long project to refine the AEX system, not just for Jack’s system, but any aircraft actuator-centric system (I’ll note for clarity that in Marc’s quest, apparently the “X” got lopped off the end of “AEX” and now it’s just the AE system). IMO, Marc’s system is fantastic in that by adding another airspeed switch, a throttle “microswitch,” and a laser altimeter, it provides a comprehensive set of parameters that must all be true for the Auto Extend to activate and deploy the nose landing gear:

1: Throttle less than 10% open
2. Speed greater than 40 knots (user programmable)
3. Speed less than 90 knots (user programmable)
4. Altitude at or below 350 ft. AGL

Ok!  Wow, this is truly fantastic news for us Canardians!  I printed out Marc’s description of the system and the electrical diagram and got to work since I wanted to assess how this would integrate into my system.

Initially, this all seemed too good to be true!  Where was the catch?  Well, as always seems to be the case there were two specific problems with this new system: the first in relation to my build and the other, a general operational requirement that I desired, which was offered in Jack’s original system but removed in Marc’s modification.

First, the operational requirement:  Marc’s version offers no backup battery capability since Marc personally uses the ratchet drive backup system to extend the gear in case of an electrical failure.  Jack sells his EZNoseLift systems with the option of the mechanical ratchet drive backup -OR- a small 1.2A backup battery that will lower the gear sans ship’s power if the electrical system fails.  Hmmm….  Since I have the backup battery, this was not a good thing in regards to my system.

Next, as for the integration into my build?  Marc’s version requires a 3PDT switch to control the gear up & down. My already terminated and installed throttle-mounted SPDT nose gear switch is in the “done” column and is perfect for driving Jack’s EZNoseLift system. Moreover, since this is an F-15 throttle handle, how this rare switch is mounted and its metal hat switch form factor make it very difficult to just pull, plug and replace with another switch.  Moreover, I really have to say that I love my throttle handle just the way I’ve now configured it!  On the pic of my throttle handle below you can see (mid-side handle) the stepped-hat nose gear up/down switch.

Also, one thing was clear as I stared down this road of integrating the new parts of Marc’s upgraded system while keeping the best part of Jack’s current system, and that was I really needed to truly understand and have comprehensive knowledge of how both these systems worked.  To be honest, with so many versions of Jack’s system out there, I wasn’t even sure what my switch panel looked like!  I went down to the shop and snapped a pic of the switch panel face . . .

. . .  and the actual wiring of the switches on the backside of the panel in order to identify the correct switches and wiring circuits.

After pondering my gear switch issue for about a day, out of the blue I had a Eureka moment: Duh! just swap out Marc’s required 3PDT switch with a 3PDT relay… right? Problem solved.  Uh, but wait a minute sports fans.  With this being a CANARD gear switch, a problem is presented in simply swapping a switch out with a relay since there’s that pesky “-OFF-” position on our gear switch that doesn’t translate over to a “middle position” between N.O. and N.C. on a relay.  Obviously, on canards we don’t simply use a binary, all-the-way up or down gear position (except for TOs/landings), but use the gear switch to position the nose in a myriad of heights off the ground when parked. Thus, my requirement was to be able to hit the nose gear up/down position, have it run up/down for a few seconds and then move the switch to the “OFF” position to stop the gear from moving any forward.  Again, with most aircraft you simply have an up or down gear position, but we Canardians apparently like to be eccentric! 

I was at the juncture of simply knowing that I wanted to replace Marc’s required 3PDT switch with a relay that I could then subsequently control with my throttle mounted SPDT switch. But how?  Not smart enough in the ways of electrons, I posted my dilemma onto the AeroElectric Connection forum.  Within an hour Charlie England started off his response with a question that gave me my answer: “How about 2 separate 3 pole relays?” Yes, one relay would control up and the other down.  When my throttle-mounted switch was in the middle OFF position, neither relay would be powered on to do any action so the system would be “at rest” . . . or OFF.  I had found my middle position!

[Just as a point of note, since Marc’s 3PDT switch positions were wired to create 2-N.C. states and 1-N.O. state in the up position, and opposite in the down position, it allowed me in the end to only need one DPDT relay and one SPDT relay to replace the 3PDT switch.]

With the switch issue taken care of, now it was time to tackle probably the biggest electrical challenge I’ve ever faced.  I had asked Marc & Jack, et al, on the Cozy forum if there was a way to wire back in the 1.2A backup battery into Marc’s design to provide a means of getting the gear down if a total electrical failure were to happen.  I had some back and forth on a type-of-relay question I had, but nothing on the backup battery except an expressed desire by some to see that “put back into the system.”  With no real response, and having one solved problem (the new AEX system) creating a new problem (no backup emergency gear extend feature), I figured it was time for the proverbial: “Well, if’n you want somethin’ done yer gonna hafta do it yurself!” (Said in Ken Curtis’ Festus voice from “Gunsmoke”).

I spent a day and a half deconstructing both Marc and Jack’s respective systems, and then ala “Tony Stark” (without the flare, billions of dollars, Hollywood CGI or Jarvis) I melded the backup battery feature from Jack’s system into Marc’s new design. Thus, after chasing imaginary electrons around on paper over a couple of days I was finally able to meld the backup battery and emergency gear extension feature back into this promising new & improved system!

After verifying that my new combined design worked, I then cleaned off all my specific extraneous system info to then submit a generic copy onto the Cozy forum.  I received word back from Marc Zeitlin that it would work as per my (actually his & Jack’s) design, with a number of “why-didn’t-you-use-this-component-vs-that-one” type questions, which is great since that’s how system designs are optimized.  So now I have some system design “homework” from Marc that I will attempt to iron out.

Regardless, doing nothing else from this point on (besides buy all the required components!) results in a new baseline electric nose gear system that provides a very usable AEX system and allows me to incorporate the backup battery feature/emergency gear extend feature.

If you’re curious, here’s a final thought on reasons I chose the battery backup system vs. the mechanical ratchet wrench backup gear deployment system: the battery weighs considerably less, takes up no panel space as does the mechanical unit, and most importantly –for me– if I’m working any non-standard issue while in the process of landing, I don’t want to be messing around with a ratchet (which itself weighs as much as the small backup battery) and spending time getting the gear down when the flick of a switch will do it for me.  Finally, a very important thing to consider that I learned while flying in Marco’s Long-EZ is that IF YOU DROP SOMETHING on the floor, it is no longer something of use to you!  And unless you tie off that ratchet handle, it may end up being nothing more than added weight in your airplane while you WISH you had a means to get your nose gear down [just saying . . . IMO!]

[Admin Note: From here on out the above new AEX system will be discussed on the Nose and Nose Gear Wiring page.]

•••

3 March 2017 — Today I had two separate phone calls with Rich at Aircraft Extras, Inc. to finally get these AG6 warning annunciators programmed!  After following some instructions in an email that didn’t work (my fault, I entered a data field incorrectly) I called Rich.  He talked me through some steps and helped me understand a couple of the data fields well enough that I got off the phone to tackle it all again.  Well, the umpteenth time is a charm because it worked!!!  Finally!  So I spent the next 6 hours programming and documenting every parameter for each warning screen.  I then did an operational check on each alarm screen by inputting the amount of voltage that it needed to see to kick off the alarm. Thus, now each alarm screen works exactly as it should… (yeah!)

It was a bit tough there for a while on getting these AG6s programmed, but I’m really glad I stuck to the plan for using them.  I can now say that all my major warning annunciations (non-EFIS) are good to go!  One other thing I’ll point out on my AG6 configuration is that on almost all of them I’ve turned off the “Green OK” screen so that I get just the warning screen & only when it alarms.  Clearly, on the canopy, landing brake and nose gear I wanted positive feedback of what was going on with these components.  I’ll also point out that only those issues that would result in an immediate safety of flight issue, damage to the aircraft/engine, or fire are denoted with a red color.  The amber alarms screens show up clearly visible and are an attention getter as well, but I wanted the really bad stuff (obviously, my opinion here) depicted with red.  Finally, I’ll note that the green screens only come alive when the action they represent has been 100% completed.  For the canopy, note that it doesn’t say “Canopy Closed,” but rather “CANOPY LOCKED.”  Same for the landing brake being stowed away and the nose gear extended all the way down.  I actually had a screen stating “gear locked” (since it solved my double gear up/down alarm entry … see below), but after a bit of thinking I decided that I wanted to denote “GEAR DOWN” since to me that communicates more succinctly where the gear is compared to “GEAR LOCKED”.

Moreover, Marc Zeitlin just released his new version of the nose gear automatic extension system (AEX) which streamlined the signal output from the nose gear system with a single wire to each nose gear status indicator light.  What I had to take into account however was that with these one wire outputs it meant one input for the respective gear up and gear down signals.   This meant I had to parse out the normally paired GEAR UP and GEAR DOWN warning screens and put them on separate inputs.  Well, the way the AG6 works is that each alarm has a specific screen code, and the screen code can only be used once in the system since it points all the data to that code.  Well, luckily I communicated what I wanted and Rich talked me through how to “trick the system” by using all the descriptive parameters of the GEAR UP/GEAR DOWN reference number under another unique alarm code (I overwrote the vacuum pump alarm code since I definitely will not be installing one of those in my plane).  With two separate GEAR UP/GEAR DOWN alarms on Annunciator #1, all I had to do (yeah, right!) was turn off the alarm screen (red or green) that I didn’t want to see for each separate GEAR UP/DOWN alarm.

[As a point of note, there were 2 EZ workarounds for the above issue even if Rich hadn’t helped me out.  As I mentioned before, I could have used “GEAR LOCKED” which is a different screen number.  Also, I could have programmed one gear condition on AG6 #1 and the other on AG6 #2, although I did want my final gear positions annunciations in the same place… ALTHOUGH, to further convolute this: my “GEAR UP TRANSIT” and “GEAR DN TRANSIT” indicator lights (not AG6) will not be colocated on the panel so that peripheral vision and color tell me gear moving up or gear moving down … nuff said!]

•••

 

10 March 2017 — So my latest mini project was to assemble a bunch of pieces of wood that I cut late last summer to create a cockpit mockup & simulator to allow me test the ergonomics, placement, switchology and operation of my avionics and instruments.  This harks back to my original fuselage mock-up to check for how the plane would feel in its stock dimensions (remember, I widened the cockpit 1.4″).  Now, this version will enable me to mount all my current avionics, plan for new ones, and give me a really close estimate on final wiring requirements for all my panel components.  This latter reason is why I made this cockpit simulator to allow for the installation of the Triparagon.

When the Triparagon is installed I’ll wire up the panel and fire up the components not only to do a good ops check on them, but also to configure them in the panel.  Also, this cockpit mockup will also allow me to finalize any wiring required on the Triparagon.

You may note looking at the pics above that the wood looks a little ratty and non-uniform, and you’d be right!  So far, this entire mockup has been made of completely scrap wood.

Below you can see the right side armrest.  Since I won’t be mounting my second Infinity control stick into the actual airplane, it will get mounted here (although I probably won’t wire it up) into the right side armrest.

On the left side I’ll use the cockpit mockup to figure out exactly where the throttle will get mounted, and how everything else will be configured on the armrest.  You may note the different gray colors of the two armrests, which is me using these as paint color swatches to help me decide the color (or colors!) of my interior cockpit paint.

I’m accomplishing this cockpit simulator mockup construction in 6 phases, and right now I just finished Phase IV.  Phase V will be cutting and installing the avionics in the instrument panel, and Phase VI will be configuring the two separate armrests with the control stick and throttle.

As you can see, once I get this guy up and running, I’ll be able to test out different component and switch locations no matter what’s going on with the actual cockpit.  In addition, this mockup will really come in handy while I’m sanding away on my Long-EZ in prepping it for paint, all the while ensuring that my eletro-whizzies remain dust free!

•••

12 March 2017 — After pulling the trigger on my Garmin GNS480 I was doing some research on wiring it up when I found a post on the Dynon forum from a Dynon tech saying that the Dynon 2-place intercom should no longer be used to control two radios.  The huge selling point for me in buying the Dynon intercom was SPECIFICALLY that it was designed to handle TWO radios!

In a phone call with a very knowledgeable RV builder, Don, who I met on the Aeroelectric Connection forum and who happened to also be selling a Garmin GNS480, I pointed out my recent discovery regarding the Dynon statement on their intercom.  Don stated that he knew a number of RV drivers that were using this exact intercom to control two radios and they seemed really happy with their installations.  He further stated that since he was good friends with Rob Hickman, founder of Advanced Flight Systems, that I should give Rob a call to confirm this not-so-good information.  So, I did just that.

Rob and I talked for a good bit, and he did in fact confirm this disturbing news regarding the Dynon intercom (AFS sells the same exact intercom, and yes, these companies are now one….).  According to Rob, he knew of no work-around and that unless I wanted to keep my COM2 radio turned off or the volume all the way down, I would almost certainly get bleed over and crosstalk between the two radios.  In essence, he said the intercom simply came down to being a hopeful design in theory, but not a good one in practical application [as an aside, none of the advertising that I saw on this intercom changed to state that is was no longer a viable solution for controlling two comm radios].

I looked around for other alternatives but I was really relying on the size and touted functionality of this intercom as the linchpin of my two comm radio design in my Long-EZ. Every audio panel I found simply took up too much panel real estate that I just didn’t have, and the features were either way too much or way too little for what I had already dialed in with the Dynon intercom.  I figured in my mind there needed to be a way to make this little intercom do what it had been advertised to do.

Well, I posted my question on the Aeroelectric Connection forum (if you’re not on it, I highly recommend it) and got a response the next day with a link to the VAN’s forum.  There, an RV builder who moonlights as an electrical engineer (or is that vice versa?!), Deene Ogden, who had the exact answer to my issue.  In the Dynon intercom manual it merely has you hook up the intercom to common on a switch (or relay) with one side going to the COM1 radio and the other going to the COM2 radio.  Well, that results in the crosstalk issue I highlighted above.  The answer is simply go bigger, as in a bigger switch or relay.  Instead of a single pole relay (the white one below) I needed a 3 pole relay to also switch the Audio OUT of each comm radio into the appropriate pin on the Dynon intercom.

Thus, with the relay off (my control stick switch in the center off/COM1 position) the relay is as follows (1-3 represent the C-NO-NC set for each pole):

  1. PTT: COM1 (NC)
  2. COM1 Audio In: On/NC
  3. COM2 Audio In: Off/NC (pin not connected)

When the relay is powered on (my control stick switch moved up to the ON/COM2 position) the relay is as follows:

  1. PTT: COM2 (NO)
  2. COM1 Audio In: Off/NO (pin not connected)
  3. COM2 Audio In: On/NO

This is reported by Deene and others to do the trick, so as you can see above I bought & rewired/re-soldered the connections to a 3PDT relay.

I also have been doing a bit of verification on my headset jack connections, so below I used the wiring harness that I received with the intercom that I bought from Dick Rutan to test the headset jack housing configuration (yes, I’m name dropping because it’s pretty cool that I’m using something Dick Rutan constructed to check out my configuration!)

•••

23 March 2017 — Today’s post is just a quick update showing a couple cable builds.

I soldered 2x 22AWG wires to a 9-pin DSub connector to make up the connector that all the panel components that require an external dimming control will tie into.  The black wire with the DSub pin is a ground wire to the avionics ground bus (G5) for the dimmer module shown at the bottom of the pic below.

Also, although I didn’t make this cable, I thought I’d show it just to hint at a bit of progress on the GPS navigator install front.  I ordered a 12′ RG400 cable with a TNC connector on one end (mounted to the GPS antenna in below pic) and a 90° BNC connector on the other end.  Since I only need around 6′ for the GPS antenna, I’ll use about half of the RG400 cable and the BNC connector somewhere else.

•••

24 March 2017 — Today I started working on the brackets for both the P4 throttle connector bracket and the Intercom bracket.  As for the Intercom bracket, I decided that I’ll most likely make the right pilot armrest removable to gain access to intercom wiring.  So the intercom mounted in the bracket will remain on the sidewall, allowing the armrest to be pulled away from it.

I started off by determining the dimensions of each bracket, and then marked up a 1/16″ piece of G10 with these dimensions.  I then drilled the 1.5″ hole for the Throttle P4 AMP CPC connector.

I then cut the rectangular hole for Dynon Intercom.

And then test fitted both the Intercom and the P4 connector, with both fitting just fine.

After prepping the holes I stopped for the evening.

•••

26 March 2017 — Today a little sideline tasker I completed was to drill and flox in place this Adel clamp for the Throttle electronics cable that terminates into the P4 Connector.

Then, after pre-drilling the 4 screw holes and the 8 holes for the K1000-6 nutplates, I did a final trim & sanding on the Dynon Intercom bracket.  I determined where its position needed to be and marked the sidewall.  I then 5-min glued the intercom bracket to the sidewall.

I then laid up 2 plies of BID (pre-pregged of course!) on the top side of the intercom bracket, and peel plied it.

I pretty much followed the same steps for the Throttle handle electronics cable P4 connector bracket just forward of the instrument panel on the left side.  After 5-min glueing it to the wall, I laid up 2-plies of BID and peel plied it.

•••

27 March 2017 — I started off today by razor trimming the bracket for the Throttle handle electrical cable P4 AMP CPC connector.

I did the same thing for the right armrest-mounted Dynon intercom bracket that I just glassed in using 2 plies of BID.  On both of these brackets I was able to knife trim them right at their curing sweet spot, so the glass was definitely more on the cured side, but still just a tad pliable . . .  so it cut well.

I then laid up 2 plies of BID on the bottom side of the Throttle handle electrical cable connector bracket.  I used a small flox fillet in the corner and peel plied the glass junction with the sidewall.

I did pretty much exactly the same thing on the Dynon intercom bracket only for a bit more strength I used 3 plies of glass on the bottom side.

•••

28 March 2017 — After the BID glass cured on the Throttle Handle electronics cable P4 connector bracket, I pulled the peel ply and razor trimmed the glass.  As I was redrilling the connector mounting holes I set this connector body in place to ensure the spacing was good.

So, here’s the final product for Throttle Handle electronics cable P4 connector bracket.

I then did pretty much the same thing for the Dynon Intercom bracket: pulled peel plied, razor trimmed, redrilled holes and sanded it all to clean it up.  I then set the intercom in place to see how it fit.  I’m definitely happy with how this intercom mounting is turning out so far.

What I’m not happy with is the forward right bracket nutplate.  It’s giving me fits and I’m going to have to drill it out and remount just a hair forward and inboard for it to align correctly with the intercom mounting hole.

Of course the other 3 nutplates went in without any issues, unlike the last one!

•••

2 April 2017 — In a discussion I had with Marco on some possible avionics upgrades I send him this pic of my GRT Mini-X Magnetometer.  Since I had it on hand I thought I would post it.

•••

5 April 2017 — Today I finished getting the Dynon intercom installed into the intercom bracket that I just glassed to the sidewall.

I hate to admit it, but with the curve of the sidewall that I failed to take well enough into account, I had to move the forward two K1000-6 nutplates inboard just a hair to get the intercom to mount correctly.  The front nutplates were off a bit, especially in conjunction with the aft 2 nutplates.

The lower body of the intercom just barely kisses the sidewall on the forward side, which is close to perfect as far as what I was looking for on the angle of the intercom.  I’ll stick a piece of double-side sticky tape foam at that corner and it will keep everything nice and tight, with a little separation between the intercom corner and sidewall.  In addition, in the pic below you can see that the stick is all the way left that it can go before the bottom of the control stick bracket hits the sidewall. Sitting in the airplane this action would most likely be near impossible to accomplish at this severe angle of bank since the pilot’s leg would be in the way (at least mine would be!).  Regardless, my point is that even with the control stick maxed out to the left, there is still clearance between the lower control tube and the lower intercom box.

Moving on.  Later this evening I figured out my big power cable reroute which is essentially a Bell Curve looking deal that goes up & over my right rudder pedal travel path.  After having to move the rudder pedals forward, and having skooched them in a bit close to the sidewalls, I could no longer run the big power cables along side the right rudder pedal as I had planned for originally.  The fit was very tight before, but after moving the pedals forward it just simply wasn’t going to work.

Rerouting the big power cables worked out for the best anyway though, considering if I had gone with my original plan I might not have known how tight the rudder pedal and big cable clearance situation was until I tried to adjust the rudder pedals forward for a taller pilot (or if I hit another growth spurt… ha!)

Thus, the process of rerouting the big power cables is the same as eating an elephant: I’m doing it one bite at a time! Tonight I drilled the first new hole in the nose sidewall and prepped it for inserting a Rivnut.

I then prepped the Rivnut by taping up both ends, and then floxed it into the hole.

•••

6 April 2017 — Here’s a shot of how my first added Adel Clamp for the big power cables traversing the length of the fuselage worked out.

•••

7 April 2017 — Today I continued to work on securing the 2 big power cables (one + power and the other – ground) that start in the nose battery compartment and end at the firewall & starter, respectively.  Again, I had to reroute these cables up and over my rudder pedal (you can see in the pic how they get in the way if not wrangled) in an arch/ Bell curve fashion.  With the 1st added Adel clamp in place, I marked the position for the 2nd additional Adel clamp.  Note in the upper right hand corner of the pic my markings for the Atkinson pitch trim actuator mounting.  You can see that I need to get these power cables as high up on the nose sidewall as possible, but still remain clear of the pitch trim actuator mounting.

After marking the spot, I then drilled the hole in the nose sidewall.  This area was a bit tougher to drill since, if you recall, that indented area that this hole was placed has additional plies of BID to beef it up for the mounting of the pitch trim actuator.

I then performed the “poor man’s” knurling of the 10-32 threaded aluminum insert that will be used to mount the Adel clamp in this location.  I wanted to use this threaded insert since it’s a bit more robust than a RivNut.

I then whipped up some flox and mounted the threaded insert assembly (including a taped washer mounted to it with an AN3 bolt).  I then clamped it in place to ensure it would be level with the surrounding sidewall surface when it cured.

Here’s a shot about 10 hours later after it cured to about 80-90%.  The flox was still just barely soft enough to be easily removed with a razor blade (there was an entire ring of it around the perimeter of the taped washer).

•••

8 April 2017 — Today I received the lathed knurled insert with flox grooves that I designed as a nose sidewall mounting hardpoint for the pitch trim actuator.  Of course –as fantastic as this looks– I obviously did NOT make it using my primitive neanderthal methods.  Marco graciously knocked this out on his lathe in no time flat and threw it in with the AEM box that he shipped to me literally right after machining this piece.

Here’s another shot of the Marco-machined flox-ready nose sidewall mounting hardpoint for the pitch trim actuator.

•••

10 April 2017 — Today I determined the location of my next big power cable Adel clamp hardpoint for the pair of big battery cables exiting the nose and traversing the length of teh fuselage.  I marked the location with a dot as you can see below, and then I drilled out the hardpoint hole in the sidewall.

I really didn’t get any other in-between pics, so with the same cure rate as the BID for the AEM box’s Clickbonds, by the end of the evening the big power cable Adel clamp hardpoint flox was cured and the threaded insert set in place.

•••

12 April 2017 — Today I identified another location to mount an Adel clamp hardpoint for my big battery power cables coming out of the nose.  I marked and then drilled the hole for the hardpoint.

Here’s the same shot, but I added the threaded insert in the pic.

I whipped up some flox and mounted the threaded insert in the hole.  I then clamped a board onto the threaded insert to keep it in place.

I grouped the pics in this post by topic, not chronologically, so I’m jumping ahead about 8 hours here to show the nearly completely cured flox.  I cleaned up the flox that oozed out around the taped up washer.

A couple of hours later I removed the bolt and popped off the washer.  I cleaned up the flox, finishing up the install of this hardpoint.

Here’s my progress so far on getting the big battery power cables routed out of the nose battery compartment –with clearance for my right rudder pedal– to my immediate goal: to the instrument panel.

•••

13 April 2017 — Today I drilled the last hole in the sidewall for what I’m calling “Phase I” of routing the big battery cables from the nose battery compartment to the instrument panel.  Again, I’m working everything furiously from the instrument panel forward to get everything I can position, mounted & worked for the upcoming closing up & glassing of the nose.

I placed this new big battery cable Adel clamp sidewall hardpoint about equidistant from the existing Adel clamp hardpoint I mounted in the bottom right access hole on the panel for the control stick cable (lower right of the pic below) and the new Adel clamp I just mounted a little aft of F22.

For this Adel clamp hardpoint I chose a RivNut threaded insert and prepped it.

I went ahead ahead and floxed the RivNut into the hole and clamped a 1×2 in place to keep it firmly pressed against the sidewall.

Jumping ahead quite a few hours, this is the big battery cables’ Adel clamp hardpoint after the flox cured.  I cleaned up the flox from around the RivNut face.

The floxed RivNut was definitely in the sidewall securely, so I mounted the Adel clamp for that hardpoint, and also another big cable Adel clamp to the pre-existing hardpoint that I had in place for the control stick cable.  With this latest hardpoint install, that completes my “Phase 1” routing goal of getting these big battery cables from the nose battery compartment to the instrument panel.  Another item off the list!

•••

18 April 2017 — Today I cleaned up and shaped the right battery tray flange in preparation for adding a tab (smaller flange) just inboard of the right flange to allow me to mount the taxi light mini-actuator to the battery tray via these right side flanges.

[NOTE: For construction & configuration of the battery tray, see Chapter 13 – Nose & Nose Gear]

•••

29 April 2017 — I started off today writing out & organizing my required task list for the next couple of days.  I decided to continue the work that Marco and I had started on –the P5 connector (stick grip)– and knock out another 5-6 wires.

One of those wires in that connector is the wire that goes from the taxi light switch to the taxi light actuator relay in the nose (RL011).  I terminated the wire with a pin and then quickly realized that I was supposed to have TWO (2) wires in that pin terminal: 1) one going to relay RL011 and, 2) another going to the “TAXI LIGHT” LED indicator on my panel.

Being cheap and not wanting to waste a pin terminal, I decided that instead of cutting off the pin and reterminating the wire, that I would simply find the point on the wire that I had just run that was physically closest to where the taxi light ON LED indicator would be located.  I then stripped away the insulator on the wire I had just run, cut a new 22AWG brown wire with blue stripe, and solder-spliced it into place.

Since these wires both carry positive current, I covered the solder splice joint with a nice long piece of red shrink tube.

I then decided to terminate the other end of the brown & blue wire with a mini-connector that came with the LED indicator lights.  I realized that I had not finished identifying all the LED indicators, so I took a few minutes to update the info on my panel switches, indicator lights, LEDs, components page.  I then took another 15 minutes, cut up the labels I had printed out quite a while back and labeled each of the LED indicator lights.  With these minute tasks out of the way, I then terminated the brown & blue wire and slipped it into the mini terminal.

•••

1 May 2017 — I started off today wiring up the remaining cavities in the P5 connector, which routes all the wires for the pilot Infinity control stick grip.  The proof is in the pudding when completing these bigger wiring tasks, as so too it is when you finally get down to wiring up these connectors to the end components.  I spent a fair amount of time working over the pinout diagrams beforehand to make sure they were as spot-on as possible, but when the wiring starts –like any best laid plans– things change. Wiring sizes, wiring colors, wire size or color availability on-hand, routing, etc.

In addition, since my new nose gear system is operational, I’ve been scavenging the longer, terminated wires off of the old nose gear wiring harness to use in both the P5 (and P4) connectors.  This changes the wire colors sometimes since re-utilizing good terminated wires that may have a different random color than the first random color I chose is more important to me than sticking to an arbitrary random color!  To be fair, some colors (power & ground) are a bit more sacrosanct to me, but the other random stuff I swap out in a heartbeat.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of rabbit holes to chase down to get all the wiring accounted for in these harnesses.  With the P5 (control stick) and P4 (throttle) connectors being two behemoths in this wiring system, they really do interface with a lot of system end components. For example, although not a jaw-dropping number, if you look at the wires (there’s 3) in the lower left corner of the pic below of the associated Trio Pro Pilot Autopilot wiring harness, one goes to the P4 connector and the other two are terminated together into the P5 connector.  To terminate these wires, a general idea of the routing and a quick mockup is in order to figure out the length. Obviously the length doesn’t have to be perfect, but longer is always better (EZ’er) than shorter.

After figuring out, verifying, and finalizing all the wiring connections, terminations & routing on the P5 connector, I then set my sights on the P4 connector.  It too deals with a myriad of electrical system end components in and around the panel, including Triparagon-mounted items, GNS480 GPS, and even the Landing Brake (see below).  It took me a bit of time to verify the connections on these wires as well, but I confirmed all that was good, and tweaked a few things that had been superseded yet not annotated (by me!).

All in all it was a good day, and I’m really glad to have knocked these two connectors off of the list of prerequisite items that need to get completed before I start on the nose top.  To be certain, in each connector there are a few wires that I actually didn’t mount into the actual connector cavities.  However, I did cut all those wires to length and terminated them, so they are ready to go.  This might help explain why you don’t see the wires wrapped with flightline tape nor any of the cable clamps mounted.

One thing that finalizing the P4 connector wiring above allowed me to do with minimal extra effort was to test out the operations of the Landing Brake using the throttle-mounted landing brake switch.  I haven’t actually run the landing brake in (I think) going on almost 5 years now!  So, to knock some of that rust off . . .  here goes:

•••

2 May 2017 — Today I started off with identifying the location of the landing brake relay pack hardpoint just aft & low of the P4 Throttle handle cable connector bracket on the left side of the avionics bay, just forward of the left arm rest.  I then found a RivNut lying around and scarfed it up to press into service to hold the 2 back-to-back metal cable clamps that had once resided on the forward side of the NG30 cover to hold in place Jack W’s EZNoseLift system relay pack.  Since my relays for the new nose gear are nice & tucked away in the RCU, it allowed me to reutilize these clamps to secure the inline relays that Jack W. uses on his landing brake system.

I Dremeled some grooves into the RivNut side for gripping, screwed on a taped-up washer for mounting, taped up the open end with duct tape, and then hit it with some Acetone to clean it up.

I then drilled out the hole and prepped it for inserting the RivNut hardpoint.

I used some fast hardener with the MGS 335 that I still have on hand and floxed ‘er in.  I then clamped a 1×2 stick to the panel to keep the RivNut firmly in place.

 

A little while later. back to the landing brake relay RivNut hardpoint: here are the mounted clamps after I pulled off the taped-up washer and cleaned up the flox remnants from around the RivNut opening.

I then used 2 zip ties to secure the inline landing brake relay pack in place.  After about 30 minutes, I then cut these zip ties to allow me to remove the P4 connector to take it upstairs and finish terminating 5 wires (4 to the roll trim relay board with #5 being roll trim reporting to the GRT HXr EFIS … all on the Triparagon).  With these 5 wires terminated, my P4 connector is really officially finished!

I then spent a good 20 minutes assessing the fit & mounting location of my GNS480 mounting bracket, or “tube” as Garmin calls it.  I placed the tube in position against the back of the instrument panel, allowing clearance for the sidewall, then traced around the front edge of the tube onto the back panel surface.  I then made some measurements & annotated those for later use to determine final mounting positions for panel components (Trio autopilot, EFIS, clock, etc.)

With my shop tasks done for the evening, I then removed the Triparagon from the plane and took it upstairs.  You see, when Marco was here I thought I may have inadvertently fried one of my AG6 warning annunciator units.  So, I spent a few minutes hooking them up to test them out, and thankfully both tested out fine (Lesson REITERATED: Always use a fuse… I’m fairly certain its selfless sacrifice saved my AG6!)

I then spent a couple of hours really making the final touches on 6 of my wiring diagrams. As I’m knocking out the physical wiring on these connectors, it really allows me to fine tune the wiring diagrams with wire gauges, wire colors, physical wire routing, connector pin numbers, wire labels, and component IDs (e.g. I just recently finalized my LED indicator light ID’s).  I printed all the newly updated wiring diagrams out and then sent the files to myself via email as a quick backup for each diagram.

•••

26 May 2017 — Last night I took the small bit of left over epoxy that I had, whipped up some flox, quickly prepped 2 Clickbonds, and floxed them to the corner of the fuselage in a couple spots to secure the pair of big electrical cables going from nose to aft.  I also embedded a RivNut (not shown) in the pilot seat bulkhead, for an additional Adel clamp for these big battery cables.

So, before I mixed up the epoxy to glass the 1 ply BID layup on the fuel sump right front wall extension piece above (today), I made up two small 2-ply BID pre-preg setups with ~2″ x 2″ plies to secure the Clickbond assemblies that I floxed in place last night using the leftover epoxy.  I laid up a 2″x2″ 2-ply BID layup over the first Clickbond, which is located in the area below the pilot control stick.

Here’s a closer look.

The 2nd Clickbond lies halfway between the pilot seat bulkhead and CS118, aft control assembly mounting mini-bulkhead.  It also got a couple plies of BID.  As you can, I also peel plied both of these Clickbond BID layups.

Still using the same epoxy as the above layups, I whipped up some more flox to attach yet another Clickbond for the big battery cable pair, and also embedded another RivNut in the GIB seat bulkhead for the same purpose.  I know that I’ll need one more Adel clamp in the Hellhole for the big battery cable pair, perhaps two, but that will be it for securing these mondo cables up to where they either attach (-) or pass thru (+) the firewall.

•••

27 May 2017 — Today I’m happy to report that the big pair of yellow cables are finally secure from the nose to the back seat.  Again, I will most likely have to secure them in one or two places in the Hell Hole, but beyond that, the task of routing these big suckers and securing them is complete!

Starting from the front part of the aircraft, here are the two newly mounted Adel clamp hard points in the pilot seat area: one Clickbond (forward) and one RivNut (aft).

Here’s a closer shot of the Adel clamp Clickbond hardpoint.

And a closer shot of the Adel clamp RivNut hardpoint.

I also mounted a Clickbond just aft of the pilot’s seat as you saw in yesterday’s post.

Here’s a clearer shot of that hardpoint with an Adel clamp mounted & in use to keep the big power cables secure.

And here’s the RivNut Adel clamp hardpoint in the lower right side opening of the back seat.

A little wider shot reveals the Clickbond that I floxed in place last night.

A bit later, I covered the Clickbond addition with 2 plies of BID and some peel ply.

•••

30 June 2017 — I started out today working on the GIB PTT button configuration & construction of a front plate for both the GIB PTT button and GIB headset jacks, all which will reside on the front of the left GIB armrest.  It may be a bit hard to tell, but the greenish blob coming down from the top of the pic below is the front of the left GIB armrest.  Top of armrest is to the left, with the PTT button resting in the notch I created for PTT button clearance.

I positioned the PTT button notch where it is to get the PTT button as far up into the inboard corner of the armrest front face for easier “mashing” of the button any time the GIB is going to use it.  However, to stay clear of the PTT button being inadvertently pressed or an open mike situation, I’m recessing the button so the top of it is just below the face of the armrest front face.  Thus, at the center bottom of the pic is the piece of 1/16″ G10 I cut as the armrest front face cover plate, and in the corner where the PTT button will go, I notched it and shaped a piece of Divinycell foam with a 1/2″ diameter hole for the PTT button to sit in.  I 5-min glued the foam piece in place, then when cured I radiused the perimeter edge of the hole.

All this is sitting on a piece of 1/4″ phenolic which I drilled a 0.609″ (39/64″) hole into for the actual securing of the PTT button as it’s press fitted into this hole with some Silicone RTV to lock in nice & tight.

Since the left armrest front tapers aft at the bottom, I tapered the foam PTT button recess housing so that the PTT button would sit parallel with the top of the armrest for clearance on the internal side of the armrest.  Here you can see the PTT button set in place where it will get mounted.  If you look just forward (left) of the ID label sticker you can see the wider 0.609″ flange that will get press fit mounted into the phenolic.  The phenolic piece will of course get floxed to the aft side of the tapered foam recess housing.

I then tested the fit of the assembled armrest front face piece in the notched corner I created in the armrest.  When finished, this front face piece will be an integral part of the sidewall bracket that remains on the fuselage sidewall when the armrest is removed.

I had to do some very light sanding after I drilled the 0.609″ (39/64″) hole for the PTT button to fit, which it did with a reasonable amount of force. Perfect.

Again, the physical mounting of the GIB PTT button will be in this 1/4″ phenolic block piece that itself will get floxed to the aft side of the foam recess housing that is attached to the front face piece.

I then cut out the phenolic block and trimmed it up.  I then mocked up the PTT button secured in the phenolic block, set in place where it will attach to the foam button recess housing, all with the front armrest face piece set in place.

Another shot of the recessed PTT button in the left GIB armrest front face piece.

•••

7 July 2017 — Today I started out by cleaning up the 2 small layups that overlap onto the two internal sides of the PTT 1/4″ phenolic mount and the foam/flocro recessed PTT button housing junctions.

I then identified my desired positions for the headset jacks and drilled the two 3/8″ holes for those.  I then of course installed the jacks to ensure they fit  . . . which they did (yeah!).

So, here’s the forward Left GIB mounting/PTT button/headseat jacks bracket that will reside on the front face of the left GIB armrest.

Here’s the business end showing the internal side of the bracket.  Yes, it’s a bit tight in there, but it all fits fine.

And here’s an “action shot” showing the armrest front faceplate set in place.  I still have just a bit of cleanup work to do to get it all squared away cosmetically, but structurally –beyond actually installing it to the sidewall– I’m done.

To verify that there were no clearance issues with the headset plugs, I took the bracket assembly upstairs and hooked up one of my headsets.  Looks good!

Here’s close to the actual angle that the GIB will experience when plugging in their headset.

And from the other side.

The internal clearance with the plugs installed is fine as well.

•••

15 July 2017 — Today I started out by sorting through & figuring out LED lights for the GIB area floor area lights that will be located in the fuel sump tanks’ low fuel warning sensors covers.  After figuring out the LEDs, I then updated my cockpit lighting wiring diagram.

•••

17 July 2017 — Today I digressed a bit to knock out a small task that while not needing accomplished just now, curiosity got the best of me.  I drilled and riveted 2 nutplates to the GIB cigarette lighter charger that will be used in mounting it later on.

Here’s a shot of the backside of the riveted nutplates.  Note the markings alongside each nutplate were the mounting flange will get trimmed.

•••

18 July 2017 — Today I trimmed the edges of the GIB charger mounting flange immediately adjacent to the riveted nutplates.

Here’s a closer look at the trimmed flange on the GIB charger mounting flange.

•••

25 July 2017 — [Obviously the RAM mount is not an electrical device, but since it has to do with mounting what will be an electrical device, and arguably even avionics these days for the GIB, I listed it here in Chapter 22].  Today I thought I would also knock out a quick side task and mount the GIB RAM air mount on the aft upper center of the pilot’s seat.  Now, I already have one that I mounted on the aft side of the pilot’s headrest, but I need to assess that one further since it may very will get moved or removed altogether depending on how well it plays with the canopy’s reinforcement crossbar.

Since I don’t have any extra of my preferred CG-style aluminum hard points, I simply used 2 RivNuts diagonally opposed in opposite “corners” and floxed them into the holes I made below (I’m using 4 screw hard points on this mount).  Later I’ll add the other 2 screw hard points.

Here’s a shot of the RAM air mount with the RivNut hard points mounted and floxed into place.  As you can see, I used my handy German clamp to keep the RAM air mount in place while the flox cures.

A couple hours later, after the flox had cured, I pulled off the clamp to reveal a nice “half-mounted” GIB RAM mount installed on the back of the pilot’s seat.

I then removed the ball mount and did a quick cleanup on the RivNut hard points.  Again, I’ll add 2 more hard points when I have them on hand.

•••

26 July 2017 — I also marked & drilled the last 2 holes for mounting the GIB RAM mount.

I then floxed the last 2 of 4 hard points for the final install of the GIB RAM mount.

Also, today I floxed in a Clickbond (just above the forward fuel line mount) and a hard point (under the 10-pound dumbbell) for securing the small wire bundle that will traverse the fuselage from the front to the back of the fuselage.

•••

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Project Update

Hey Guys,

So this is still it!  And yes, I continue to fight in my hope that this will be the final push –from now until Rough River– to get the main assembly of the aircraft completed.  That’s my goal.  An aggressive timeline to be sure!  After Rough River, I then expect the next few months to be finalizing any leftover punch list items and the finishing & painting! 

As you probably know, starting a few months back I had planned on knocking out a good dozen electrical related items so that I could close up the nose.  I got a bunch of those completed, but kept finding myself not being able to really close out wire runs, confirm install spacing configurations such as the pitch trim unit, etc. because I couldn’t sit in the airplane and confirm what I had dimensionally without the actual pilot’s seat in place.  I couldn’t get the pilot’s seat area done without contending with the fuel lines, driving me to complete the thigh support fuel sump.

So the immediate order of battle right now is to finish the major components in the back seat (GIB) area, primarily the oil heat system with requisite ducts, before then moving forward again to the pilot’s seat area. These mini-tasks are definitely time-consuming and a lot more slow going then planned.  But they allow me to work all this stuff while I can stand right next to the fuselage without having to deal with strakes being in the way!  

Plus, anything that I install now is just one less item that will need to be installed at some point in the future.  Obviously not as sexy as seeing major aircraft components (i.e. nose, strakes, canopy) being completed, but Oh so necessary for quality of flying later on!  Moreover, these completed tasks, in turn, will allow me to finalize the configuration of the nose components. At which point I will focus on the building the nose while concurrently finalizing the wheel pants install (nope, haven’t forgot about those!). Then the canopy install will be after that.

The struggle is REAL folks, as it continues to be busy all up in here!!

Cheers!

 

  1. Chapter 22 – It… all… matters… Leave a reply
  2. Chapter 22 – Piece of cake! Leave a reply
  3. Chapter 22 – Not so much… Leave a reply
  4. Chapter 22 – Cheat when you can! Leave a reply
  5. Chapter 22 – Back in back Leave a reply
  6. Chapter 22 – Kick plate finished! Leave a reply
  7. Chapter 22 – Play Time is Over! Leave a reply
  8. Chapter 22 – Uh, more electrons please! Leave a reply
  9. Chapter 22 – Electric all the way! Leave a reply