Chapter 22 – ELT

Chapter 22 – ELT Install & Configuration

11 October 2017 — Today I started out by doing a fair amount of research on my ELT placement, which was why I didn’t want to glass in the outboard thigh support tabs last night.  I’ve planned out my ELT location under the left side of the thigh support, but of course that can change if it doesn’t go in as planned.  I’m installing an ACK E-04 ELT, so I called them today and confirmed the mounting parameters.  I also learned that ACS sells a retrofit kit for this ELT, which is also a “starter” kit with just about everything but the actual ELT module.  I went ahead and ordered the retrofit kit so that I could get my hands on the mounting bracket to install that as early on as possible.

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13 October 2017 — Today I tested out the ELT location using the mounting bracket that was included in the ACK E-04 Retrofit kit (read: “starter” kit, IMO) that I just received today [perfect timing!]. The kit also included the panel mounted control head, so I’ll be mounting that in the mockup panel as well.

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14 October 2017 — Today I started off with the main task of installing a CAMLOC in each corner of the pilot thigh support plate, with an associated mounting tab underneath glassed to the lower instrument panel bulkhead.  Well, I quickly realized that to know exactly where the left side CAMLOC mounting was going to reside, I needed to the details of the ELT install.  For example: If the ELT couldn’t be set in low enough under the thigh support, then the CAMLOC assembly might sit too low to allow clearance for the ELT and have to be mounted farther inboard.  Also, if I did install the CAMLOC mounting tab, that’s just one extra extrusion to bloody my knuckles on as I worked on installing the ELT mounting bracket . . . see where I’m going with this?  It’s all sequencing, right?!

Alas, it was time to work on prepping the lower instrument panel and fuselage floor for the ELT mounting bracket.  The ELT is 7.75″ long, so it will extend out from under the seat just a tad, but not enough to get in the way while ingressing and egressing the plane.  I also confirmed with the ACK ELT techs that a “few degrees” up or down is not going to affect proper ELT operation. And to be clear: the manual states that left & right should be no more than 10° off centerline, so for up & down I consider anything less than 10° to be ok (the tech didn’t provide an actual value).

I started the process by marking a channel for the ELT mounting bracket.

I then cut the very bottom of the instrument panel bulkhead, that makes up the bottom cross piece of the “map pocket,”  which I removed right after I snapped this pic.

Then, over a few cycles, I trimmed the glass a little and then sanded the channel in the floor down.  I kept doing this until I constantly got the angle of the ELT mounting bracket to about 3.5° nose high.  I’m definitely going to call that a win.

I have a 3″ x 3″ x 7.75″ cardboard mockup that I made of the ELT.  I tried that out a number of times during the floor channel excavation.  Not one time did I have any clearance issues at the aft end of the thigh support channel.  Actually, if you look in these pics the only issue I had was when I was re-leveling the fuselage at the longerons.  My electronic level fell into the cockpit and put a nice divot in my front seat, then it slammed into the wedge duct top corner and dinged it up pretty good too.

I need to ponder a little more and assess just how I’m going to install the ELT mounting bracket.  I have some ideas, but I wanted to let them germinate a bit before glassing this all up.

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16 October 2017 — Today I dug out the foam a hair over 0.25″ deep in the area at the bottom left fuselage bulkhead that I had previously “flattened” to allow for the ELT mounting bracket to be installed.

I then traced out the shape, grabbed a piece of H250 foam (to add more strength back into this somewhat critical area) and then trimmed the foam to fit.  The foam piece I grabbed wasn’t big enough so I back filled the corner with a crescent shaped piece.  For all the OCD’ers out there grabbing their inhalers, out of curiosity I just checked the price of H250 on ACS: $175 for a 2’x2′ piece!  The first piece I bought was just under $100 back in 2011, and the second piece less than $120 back in 2013.  So, it’s NOT cheap and I’m not wasting any to make something that’s getting buried in glass look perfect!

Note that you can see the 2 dots I marked up that show the front bolt positions for the ELT mounting bracket.

I then used some spare G10 Garolite pieces I had lying around to make up these 2 forward nutplates for the ELT mounting bracket.  These nutplates will get buried under the uber expensive foam above.

I then marked and cut depressions into the bottom of the H250 foam to allow the nutplates to sit flush.  I then 5 min. glued the nutplates into the H250 foam.  As the 5 min. glue was curing, I then made up a another, narrow 2-nutplate mounting plate out of G10 Garolite.

I then test fitted all my pieces/parts in prep for glassing in the H250 foam into the foam divot I started out making this AM.

After prepping the nutplates by stuffing them with plastic wrap to protect them from nasties, I then flocro’d the H250 foam –with nutplates attached– into place.  I then glassed 1 ply of UNI with the threads running in a nose-to-tail fashion, and then covered that with 1 ply of BID.  I then of course peel plied the layup.

A few hours later I pulled the peel ply, cleaned up and did some judicious sanding on the freshly cured layup.

I then shaped a piece of urethane foam for the aft 2/3rds of the ELT mounting bracket base.  At the very tail end of this aft foam piece will sit the longer, narrow 2-nutplate mounting plate.  I taped up the bottom of the nutplates in this plate, set it in place in the urethane foam and then checked the front bolt marks through the front bolt holes on the ELT mounting bracket.

When the configuration looked good, I then micro’d the urethane foam base in place to the fuselage floor with the ELT mounting bracket set in place on top (to ensure the bolt holes were aligned).  I then slid a 2×4 piece down the center of the ELT mounting bracket, ensuring that none of the bolt holes were covered up (ensuring alignment).  I then placed weights on top of the 2×4.

Here’s another shot.

After a couple of hours, I removed the weights and cleaned up a bit of excess micro that had oozed out.  I then sanded the top of the urethane foam base to match the top angle and elevation of the forward embedded foam base.

After getting a good prep in, I then glassed the aft ELT mounting bracket urethane foam base into place with 1 ply of BID.

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17 October 2017 — I started out today pulling the peel ply from the ELT mounting bracket base layup.  I then cleaned up the layup and drilled access holes for my 4 embedded K1000-6 nutplate assemblies.  Finally, I pulled the plastic wrap out of the mounting holes to reveal nice, ready to go screw mount holes.

I then did a test install of the ELT mounting bracket.  All was good except at the front, where the existing floor of the fuselage slanting forward up to, and including, the bottom panel bulkhead lip (the stuff that I cut out to make the ELT sit flat) was physically too close to the mounting bracket and was keeping the mounting clip from getting inserted onto the latch hook.

It took me 3 rounds of cutting, grinding and sanding to finally get it dialed in just enough where I could get the upper latch ring down over the lower latch hook.  With that action, my ELT mounting base is officially installed!

I took a quick shot showing the clearance to the left of the ELT mounting base with the left armrest console sidewall.

I then grabbed my digital level and tested the angle of the ELT mounting base: only 2.9° nose high… I’ll take it!

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Project Update

Hi Folks,

Well, I’m back into the flying game.  After getting all my requisite stuff out of the way (insurance, etc.), I successfully completed yet another Biennial Flight Review. I’ve flown a couple flights since then including my first instrument training flight in just a few months shy of 2 years! In discussions with 3 different flight instructors, it does look like knocking out my instrument rating might be a lot more feasible and obtainable than I initially thought. So…. I’m going to give it the good ‘ol college try.

Also as I noted previously, I’m waiting until late January to mid-Febraury before placing my house on the market. I would also like to point out that I typically don’t work on the build in a shop-based traditional sense during the winter since heating the shop to required temps is typically too exorbitant of a cost. Thus I normally work on electrical system and instrument panel stuff during the winter months.

Well, with both of those build areas being nearly completely done, I feel like I’m making a good use of time in relation to the airplane build.  I mean, I will need to actually fly it after all and I certainly wouldn’t want to head into that portion of the project with hardly any flight hours under my belt in previous 12 months!

Happy Holidays!

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