Chapter 22 – Inverting fuel gages

Last night at some point I was thinking about the actual physical wiring of the aft two cameras that each focus on a fuel site gage.  I knew that before I could finalize my decision that I would have to test and verify that 24 AWG wire would provide enough juice for the cameras to send a good video signal.

What was gnawing at me was an issue of consolidation, and one of cable management. Dealing with 3 separate 24 AWG wires isn’t an insurmountable task, but I thought there might be some efficiencies to be had.  I drifted to sleep with this on my mind.

Then there was the question I had this morning regarding those pesky LED lights on the fuel site gauges themselves. Hmmm, how will the wiring on these critters actually physically get run?

Then I had an idea.  An idea that has eluded me for almost 7 years, considering Vance Atkinson’s fuel site gages are the first components I purchased, IIRC, for my Long-EZ project: What if I inverted them and put the LED on top?  I pulled the installation instructions out to find, lo and behold, that the last line on the page –hand written– said that I could mount the LED on top OR bottom.  Cool!

With that info in hand, I then planned initially –to be verified with some camera tests– to use a 5x24AWG conductor wire to handle both my aft camera and fuel site gage wire runs. Each aft camera would use 3 of these wires while each fuel site gage would use the remaining 2 wires…. again, all 24 AWG wires packaged nicely in one cable.

Since I don’t have any wire label stock on hand (they should arrive tomorrow) the first thing I did today was something else I haven’t done in almost 7 years, I tested the “red” LEDs (as listed on the included specs & install sheet) on the fuel site gages to find out that they A) worked, and B) are in fact actually white LEDs, not red.

I then took about 45 minutes to get some low hanging and long overdue bits ordered.  I finally found and ordered a couple of pieces of 1.5″ diameter heat shrink off of Ebay (I checked McMaster-Carr, WAY too expensive) primarily to encase/protect my relay that controls COM1-COM2 radio flip from the control stick.  I also ordered a length of a rubber automotive seal that I’ll use for mounting the GNS480 GPS antenna puck cover atop the pilot headrest (after 20 min the ONLY source of supply for what I wanted was again off of Ebay, and straight from China no less).

I then got to work on my wiring diagrams to upend the Atkinson fuel site gages and depict their new orientation correctly.  I also better depicted their actual physical wire runs and added in the visible segment of the 5x24AWG conductor wire.  I have two diagrams, fuel system and cockpit lighting, that contain the fuel site gages so I tweaked one of them to the new “final” configuration and then merely copied over the entire new depiction to the other diagram.

I then spent a few hours doing something I haven’t done in a fair while: I created a new wiring diagram for the Video Camera Network.  Here is a saved JPG version of that diagram.  I was putting the cart before the horse slightly in that I hadn’t tested out the 24AWG wires –at least the non-shielded wire version– for the video cameras, but I was quite confident that it would work.

After compiling all the data I needed to represent the Video Camera Network wiring on a system diagram, I then set about testing my 24 AWG hypothesis.  Fortunately, I found about a 7 foot length of the exact 5-conductor wire I want to use for the aft cameras, so this would be a great representation to check the video display quality using near the same length of wire.

I then stripped off the first couple inches of the outer insulator and grabbed 3 of the wires to hook up to micro-video camera #1 for testing.  I soldered the wires to the camera leads off the tiny PCB board that the camera uses for 12V-to-5V conversion, and then hooked up the camera at the EFIS side.  I fired up the EFIS and as you can see in the lower left inset, I got a very readable video display from the camera.

Since this camera is going to be used to view the fuel quantity in a fuel site gage, I amused myself (yes folks, constant electronics will drive you stir crazy!) by placing the still-wrapped site gages in the video camera’s view to snap the pic below.

I then spent a good 20 minutes desoldering a connector off a PCB board (I stole it off the defunct 5v GNS480 indicator light that burnt up) and then soldering three 22 AWG wire leads to it.  I then connected my 5V “wide angle” video camera #3 up to the EFIS and 12v-to-5v converter to test it out.  As you can see below, although not nearly as “wide angle” as I was expecting, the video display quality is fine.

Now, I noted that a few of my 5V components go from 5V+ power on the positive lead then simply hook up to standard 12V ground on the negative lead.  Since these cameras depict and physically have a both a positive and negative side for the video signal (via the yellow RCA jack) and on the camera power input (via the red RCA-type jack) I figured each component needed a direct connection to ground.  I noted this concept was supported in Eric and Alec’s design of my 4-into-1 video signal sequencer, since on the unit’s D-Sub connector they placed a signal ground pin right next to and for each video signal input pin. Moreover, also on the unit’s D-Sub connector they had a pin for camera power and another for camera ground.  Ok, so that’s how it needed to be wired (allegedly).

But back to my 5V ground vs 12V ground, as I was testing the grounds on camera #3, I pulled the ground off the outer ring of the video signal RCA jack which resulted in ZERO impact to the video signal.  It was still right there on the screen.  In fact, I moved the camera just to ensure no weird screen capture event had occurred.

Hmmm, interesting.

Ok, so then I disconnected the ground path to the 12v-to-5v converter.  The EFIS video inset screen went blank.  I then tried re-hooking up the ground to the outer ring of the video signal RCA jack…. still no video signal.  Reconnecting camera ground brought the video back live again.

So the 2-ground requirement I had noted in the camera install manual does not seem to apply, at least for seeing the video signal.  I’ll have to double check in the manual to see if it keeps the unit from errant electrons or something.  Moreover, I tested this on camera #1 by hooking it back up and found the exact same results: no ground lead required on the video signal RCA jack.  Not a huge find in how it impacts the amount of wiring effort, since it merely eliminates 3 small ground lead pigtails… but it is nice to know.

I depicted this on my new Video Camera Network electrical diagram and with confirmation that the 5x24AWG conductor wire will work I then labeled all the wires with the appropriate wire colors.

Again, tomorrow I should be getting my wire label stock delivered so I can get back to finishing up some tasks that require wires to be labeled before next steps can be completed.


Chapter 22 – More panel chicanery

I started out today with another round of in-depth studying on the GNS480 GPS unit.  I also tweaked some of the user’s manual as I did yesterday.  I also made up a decently long list of configuration changes that I needed to make to the GNS480 box.

Unlike yesterday, or the past week really, today I fired up the ‘ol soldering iron and got to work.  First off, I swapped out the MGL clock’s OAT probe with one of the ones I got in from GRT.  I had high hopes that a new probe would solve the issue of the MGL OAT consistently reading about 5° lower than the actual temperature, even though the MGL & GRT probes are within a couple of inches from each other (no joy, so back to MGL…).

The GRT HXr has 3 separate power inputs and it simply chooses the one it likes best power-wise and goes with it.  I thus have the HXr wired to the Main power bus, the E-Bus, and the TCW IBBS.  In the HXr install manual it states that when first powering on the HXr, to isolate each power connection to test out the power circuit.  I’ve been remiss in specifically doing this, so I took the opportunity to physically connect the HXr’s secondary power lead to the E-Bus and disconnect the HXr’s primary electrical input by removing the 3A fuse out of the Main bus.  Any power issues would then be noted upon power up [there were none].

I then pulled some LED Korry annunciator light boards out of some of the ON/OFF Indicator lights that run in the row above the main HXr EFIS.

After swapping out the LED light board for a 12V version, I then soldered a diode into the circuit on the GNS480 “GPS” annunciator light.  I did close to the same on the GNS480 “NAV” annunciator light, but also added a 300 ohm resistor in line.  Finally, for the “SUSP” annunciator light, I simply tested that with the 12V LED board sans the diode or resistor. While I had the connectors off, I took the time to label those wires that I hadn’t gotten to previously.

Since I already had my soldering “kit” out and ready for action, I went ahead and cut, labeled and then soldered the PTT leads coming out of the P5 connector to the pilot headset jacks, finishing off all the connections that need to be soldered to those headset jacks.

My final act on the panel was to move the HXr EFIS audio output feed from the designed (but not installed) proprietary Dynon EFIS input pins on the Dynon Intercom, and simply treat the EFIS audio out as any other audio feed as far as the intercom is concerned.  The big change was that I simply ran it into the intercom via the AMX-2A Audio Mixer.  I then cut and terminated a set of wires, labeled them and installed the twisted wire pair between the HXr EFIS (via the J4 connector) and the AMX-2A Audio Mixer.

Once my “chores” were out of the way, I fired up the instrument panel to check out all my updates and see how well they worked.  Plus –again– I had a number of configuration updates to input into the GNS480.

After I was done with all my checks and updates, I was going to take a few pics when I got a wild hair and decided to just film a video… so here it is:

Yes, it’s a bit lengthy (and bouncy) but hopefully it shows a glimpse of what I’ve been up to over the past week.  I have a few more minor electrical taskers to knock out tomorrow, but for the most part I won’t have a ton more of electrical stuff to do until much later.

I also updated a number of electrical diagrams as I was waiting for the video above to render.


Chapter 22 – Official Rabbit Hole!

Yes, panel build: Day 2.

Today I started off by updating my connector pinout diagrams, reviewing the upcoming connector pinouts and then printing up 2 batches of wiring labels.  I had to improvise with some larger yellow wires labels since —surprisingly— I’m out of wire label cartridges.

My goal today was to start on the J4A (front side) PQD (Panel Quick Disconnect) connector, but that quickly devolved into working on the prerequisite connector pinout on the Adaptive AHRS for the HXr EFIS.  The AHRS is the recipient of a number of wires from the J4A connector, so it was natural to finish this task at this point.

I swapped out a number of wires on the AHRS wiring connector for different colors since some of GRT’s pre-installed wires didn’t match my color coding.  I thought about leaving them as is, but it’s a fairly easy task to swap them and will make any future wire-hunting/tracing tasks go much easier if the wires keep the same color on each side of the connectors.  I also pulled a few pre-installed wires that I didn’t need.  Thus, with the AHRS wiring connector squared away, I installed it and then worked on hooking up the wires coming out of it to points yonder on the panel.

At the aft right corner of the Triparagon… a shot of the PQD connector trio: P6 (currently unpopulated), J3 Mini-X connector (on side, vertical) and J4 HXr (top, horizontal).  The relay in the foreground is Relay 9, which handles the COM1 ↔ COM2 swap.  I apparently ran out of wire labels after I constructed it, so it took me a good half hour to tone it out and deconstruct what in tarnation I was up to when I made it!  And with a 3PDT relay, it took a bit of head scratching.  After I got it all figured out and did some quick masking tape labeling, I sent the wires off in their required directions.

[NOTE: This exercise in near-“futility” definitely reinforced to me the importance of wire labels.  No matter how in-depth we get into a certain subtask, 6 months down the road all those details are lost –at least to me– and I need to “relearn” what I did!  Diagrams and wire labels are the only way for me to pick up where I left off months or years later on these countless wiring components and press forward quickly].

Here’s a closer shot of the PQD bracket and connectors.  The front (Triparagon) sides of the J3 (Mini-X) and J4 (HXr) connectors are for the most part complete.  There’s another 8-10 wire connections that will need to be added once it’s all actually installed into the aircraft.

I spent a few hours constructing the 3 x ARINC 429 and 1 x RS232 shielded wire cables that all route through a centralized grommet in the Triparagon from the J4 connector to the GNS480.  The pic below shows these cables from the right side of the Triparagon.

And here are the 4 ARINC 429/RS232 cables on the left side of the Triparagon, ready to be terminated into the GNS480 back plate D-Sub connectors (by the way… I installed the D-Sub connectors on the GNS480 back plate).  I only terminated the RS232 cable at this point since it had standard sockets, whereas the other ARINC 429 cables require High Density pins since they get terminated into connector P5 (high density).  I’m waiting until I get all the standard D-Sub pins & sockets crimped before I reset my D-Sub crimper for high density crimping.

Two of the ARINC 429 and one side of the RS232 connections I highlighted above also feed the Trio Autopilot EFIS/GPS source select switch, the rather diminutive Switch #14. On the right side of the pics above & below, you can see the cross connect cables that are tied into the GNS480’s ARINC 429/RS232 cables (spliced in just before the wires enter the GNS480’s connectors) as they run up over the GNS480 to tie into Switch 14 on the panel.

Here’s a shot of Switch 14, the Trio Autopilot EFIS/GPS source select switch, after I terminated the connections by soldering 9 wires to it: 5 connections come from the ARINC 429/RS232 cable group, 3 from the Trio AP control head, and 1 connection from the GRT HXr AHRS GPS signal.

A closeup of the 9 wires connected to the Trio Autopilot EFIS/GPS source select switch (Switch 14).

To get the wire connection lengths dialed in from the Trio autopilot to Switch 14, I had to install the massive D-Sub wiring harness on the back of the Trio autopilot.

Here’s a closer shot of the installed D-Sub connectors on the GNS480 back plate.

In addition, I also mounted the air deflector on the GNS480 back plate.

Lastly, I used some of the extra terminated wires that I pulled off the GRT wiring harnesses to make up much shorter harnesses for both the HXr and Mini-X magnetometer connectors.

I suspect that my Aircraft Spruce order should be in the day after tomorrow, so that gives me one more full day to knock out as much as I can on the panel before getting back into the shop.  I think I should be close to having the panel pretty much wired after another full day of working on it.


Chapter 22 – Yep, the boring stuff

Over the past couple of days I’ve had a heavy social calendar with old friends wanting to get together, which is always great.  On Friday and Saturday I squeezed in maybe 45 minutes each day to work on updating my electrical system diagrams, starting with my connector pinout sheets.

Today (Sunday) I started off making a bit of noise by cutting a 19.5″ long x 6″ high arm to mount to the right side of the instrument panel mockup base to allow me to mount the intercom very close relationally to where it resides in the actual aircraft.  Although this intercom is small in size, the whole aft end is nothing but a D-Sub connector and there are a lot of cross connections required from the panel components.

With my requisite construction task out of the way, I then started in on what I’ve been trying to get to for the past couple of days: my electrical system diagrams.  One way I keep track of all my connectors is that AMP CPC connector ID codes start with “P” (“plug”) while D-Sub and mini-Molex connectors start with “J” (“jack’).  This scheme also gives me more numbers on hand for each series, since there are a fair number of distinct connectors in this airplane.

Well, besides the myriad of other updates I needed to do, including finalizing the switch out of circuits coming off the big 24-pin P6 PQD connector, I also created a new 4-pin AMP CPC plug (P7) for the GRT HXr power wires.  Concurrently, I reclaimed its previous J10 tagline for the 25-pin Audio Mixer D-Sub connector.

Finally, if a connector is merely planned and has not been fully pressed into use, I may switch them around in an effort to keep the numbering scheme so that the low numbers start at the nose and get bigger as they move towards the back of the plane (i.e. J1 towards nose, J12 in hell hole, for example).  Well, I stole the P7 moniker from the Trio roll servo that resides in the engine compartment and its new label is now P8.  This of course required physically removing labels and adding new ones.  A bit of a mundane task in doing all this, but in the end I feel wholly worth it in having a well organized, more easily maintainable, electrical system.

With the reallocation shell game complete, I then went to work updating my connector pinout diagram sheets.  After those were complete, I then did a 100% review and update of all my electrical system diagrams.  I added the 6 new GNS480 external annunciators to the panel diagram (#1) and tweaked all the other diagrams as well.

One major difference in my updates this time around, on a number of occasions I noted exactly how long a certain wire was that was included by the manufacturer on their wiring harness, and then approximated how much more I needed to add to complete the physical wire run.  For example, on ElectroAir’s EIS Controller, that will sit in the GIB headrest, the main 20 AWG yellow wire that runs forward to the EI (“mag”) switch on the console is 6 feet long coming off the EIS Controller’s wiring harness.  Not long enough to reach the front, so I annotated that on the wiring diagram.  Now I know to have or reserve some 20 AWG yellow wire to extend the EIS Controller switch wire.

Beyond that, a lot of my diagrams were simply the old versions with my chicken scratch notes annotated on them, while the electronic versions were up to date.  I took the time to verify the info was correct, updated other info as need be, and printed off a fresh copy of every electrical diagram.  I’m sure I’ll need to do this a another few times before the plane is finished, but as of now I have a really good baseline for my entire electrical system being up to date.

As for the actual build, I’m waiting for the CAMLOC receptacle that I ordered from ACS to arrive before I press forward with the pilot seat thigh support installation, and then the subsequent tasks that follow.  I also made some other minor orders for some now known USB cable lengths and avionics panel mounting hardware.  Thus, in the next few days, until the CAMLOC receptacle arrives, I will take the opportunity to focus on getting the panel wired up.



Chapter 22 – More panel stuff

Today was still all about the panel mockup.  With a number of changes I’ve made to the wiring on the back side of the panel, I needed to check those changes to ensure they would fit my design requirements.  Once I determined that I was heading in the right direction, I made the changes which required a fair amount of pulling wires out primarily out of the PQD P6 connector and then re-adding them to other connectors and/or splicing them directly into the Triparagon side wiring.

The main reason behind all this is I had a major rethink on the process of removing the panel.  I had giant brain blank earlier when I didn’t take into account that my removable panel component wiring wouldn’t be routed through one giant opening in the panel, since the current composite “shadow” panel will in most respects mirror the outer 0.063″ 2024 aluminum panel overlay.  This means as wires from each instrument traverses their respective holes to a common connector point, then if I tried to remove the panel after disconnecting that one connector (eg PQD P6), all the wires would get hung up at the connector as the panel was being removed.

Hard to follow?  Think of an octopus on the back side of the panel reaching each of his 8 tentacles through a different hole on the panel. Then think of him grabbing ahold of 8 rods larger than each hole.  You can’t pull the octopus away from the aft panel unless he releases all the rods, and you can’t pull the rods away from the front of the panel without squishing poor Mr. octopus against the back of the panel.  In this scenario though, all the rods (instruments) are attached to the front panel overlay and Mr. octopus represents the panel quick disconnect (PQD) connector, while his tentacles represent the respective wiring to each instrument… hope this analogy makes sense.

Ok, so I removed the PQD P6 connector out of the equation for my MGL Clock, TruTrak ADI, and a few other panel mounted components.  Thus, instead of A→B, B→C, I now simply have A→C with B (P6) cut out of the pic. Of course this change entailed lopping off wiring terminating pins & sockets and then re-terminating the wires by splicing them together.  It also required a fair amount of wire relabeling as well.

My new method of panel removal for these smaller components will be to simply remove the connector at the back of each component.  In the end, it should only add a few minutes to panel removal, and will also allow me a cleaner wiring harness overall since I won’t have as many convoluted wiring runs.

In line with all I stated above, I finished the wiring for the red & green Gear/Canopy warning system wires that I initiated yesterday.  I soldered spliced the wires together for a straight shot from LED light to warning module on one side, and LED light to E-Bus power on the other.  I of course labeled all the wires as well.

If you recall, I have 3 connectors that make up the Panel Quick Disconnect (PQD) connectors: 24-pin AMP CPC, 37-pin D-Sub, and 15-pin D-Sub.  On the PQD scheme, I switched things up a while back by claiming the 15-pin D-Sub to handle the GRT Mini-X wiring only, while the 37-pin D-Sub handles the GRT HXr wiring only.  However, since I didn’t have enough pins in the 37-pin D-Sub for all the HXr connections, I decided to separate out the 4 power/ground wires and connect them through a mini-Molex connector.

Thus, since the 24-pin PQD P6 connector is an AMP CPC connector, when I pulled the main, secondary, tertiary and ground wires from the P6 connector, I would need to cut off these connectors to re-terminate the wires for the new 4-pin mini-Molex connector. I then remembered that I possibly had a spare 4-pin AMP CPC connector, and after some searching around –Voila!– I did.  I weighed the AMP CPC vs the mini-Molex and the difference was the AMP CPC being 0.08 oz heavier.  With a much better & more robust connection, plus not wasting a couple of dollars in lopped off connectors (which I’ve already had a fair amount of!) I pressed forward with simply removing these wires out of the P6 connector and popping them into my new P7 connector.  So HXr power wires on the Triparagon side are complete.

I guess my old military side came out because I then went through and labeled all the D-Sub and antenna connectors on the back panel of the GNS480 GPS unit.

And the back panel of the GRT HXr EFIS.

The moving of wires off of one connector onto another connector, or connecting straight to a wire lead all required a ton of annotations on my connector pinout diagrams.  I have company coming in tomorrow, and a heavy social calendar this weekend, but I will try to get all these changes on my electrical system updated ASAP.  After I get the required adminstrivia updated, then I can get back to actual shop work.

Chapter 22 – Not so much…

Today I started out by heading down to a local restaurant, grabbing breakfast and consolidating my current three 3×5 card task lists into a single task list.  With my list consolidated I was motivated to get to work.  As I was leaving the restaurant I got a call from an old friend.  It’s always hard to not talk to friends or family that I haven’t heard from in a while, so I chatted a bit.  Well, I’ll be darned if that didn’t roll right into another call from yet another old friend.  My though was that I have to accept the fact that most people only have time to really chat during the weekend . . . . so I chatted some more.

A bit later, I checked the mail and found the Permatex 80725 Plastic Pipe Sealant that I ordered was delivered quite ahead of its stated delivery date.  Up until last week I was simply considering using pipe tape to install the ELS-950 sump low fuel level sensors, but after further thought I decided to order the sensor manufacturer’s recommended Permatex 80725 to better ensure no leaks.  To be clear, as a function of the low fuel level sensors they must be situated below the high fuel mark, making the ELS-950 sensors installation seals critical to having no fuel leaks.

With my preparing to install the sump low fuel level sensors, I needed to create wire labels for both the sensor wires and the GIB LED floor lighting wires that are located in the sensor covers.  Besides just wanting to keep my wires identified, in this situation it’s even more vital since all these wires are hidden away for the first 12-18″ and ascertaining what wires go to what would be much more difficult without wire IDs.

With all the obvious effort I’ve done on my electrical system, this little ditty here shows how extensive the task is:  As I was listing out my wire labels to print I realized that I didn’t have enough consolidated information on exactly what component power wires connected to my power busses at which tabs.  With the addition of a few extra unexpected electrical components over the past 6 months –including these low fuel sensors– it’s really too easy to lose sight of exactly what power wires feed from what buss, and exactly what tab a specific wire may get connected to.

Thus, yes, another unintended and unexpected task reared its head… I determined that my sheet of notebook paper with the Main, Endurance and Battery power buss connections listed on it just wasn’t enough.  I needed it in electronic format as a worksheet in my electrical system spreadsheet, so I made that happen.  Then I spent a few hours inventorying every instance and every wire that connects to a power buss, including each buss’s threaded feed stud.

Besides the information listed on my tattered notebook sheet, I did an accounting for the already labeled tabs on the physical ATC fuse busses.  I then went through literally every wiring diagram to account for every listed power buss connection in the diagrams.  I then went through my components list to ensure that the power feed for every electrical component going into the plane was accounted for.  Through all this I found some discrepancies in the required fuse sizes.  Finally, with a complete accounting of all my buss power connections I was able to reorganize some connections on the respective buss tabs.

I then printed out a number of labels.  Unfortunately, with all my above shenanigans I simply ran out of time, and energy, to start on any major shop tasks.



Chapter 22 – Play Time is Over!

No more electrical stuff for me… back to the GIB area!  Ok, except this one sideline task. HA!

Today I started by finishing up annotating the J3 PQD connector color codes, which of course meant digging in the GRT Mini-X manual and also seeing what the wire colors were that I physically had on hand.  Since I had the Mini-X wiring harness (15-pin D-Sub) in my hand, I decided to go ahead and knock out the wire harness connector for my Mini-X.

First, I had to pull a few wires for connections that I won’t be using.  These few specific wires came installed on the GRT-provided 15-pin D-Sub connector/harness.  I measured the required wire lengths between the back of the Mini-X and the J3 PQD connector on the Triparagon.  I added a couple of inches for ‘insurance’ purposes and another half inch to account for the multiples pairs that would be twisted together, then ended up cutting all the wires down to 10.5″ long.  I then crimped some D-Sub sockets onto 3 wires for the magnetometer (since it’s optional) and terminated them into the Mini-X D-Sub connector.  I then twisted the appropriate wire pairs together using a small portable drill.

I then terminated the ends of the wires with D-Sub pins on the opposite end from the Mini-X connector and performed a continuity check on each wire… all good.

Then, on the Mini-X side of the harness I installed the D-Sub backshell.

Having also just received some more correct-sized wire labels, I then labeled the 2 individual wires and the 3 wire pairs.

For the panel component labels that run ONLY between the panel components themselves, or the panel components and the PQD connectors, I’m using a bit more simplified wiring label scheme than the one I use for the rest of the plane: essentially providing just a pin number, the wire function such as “power” or “DU link” and an opposite pin number, all separated by dashes.  Obviously, on the panel I’m looking at the wire runs from the back of the given device and seeing its termination point just a scant few inches away… all the info is there for me to see straightway, except the pin #’s and wire functions. So, for example, the lone magnetometer signal wire label goes like this:

10-MAG SIG-9

Pin 10 on the Mini-X EFIS D-Sub connector, the truncated description as to the function of the wire, and Pin 9 on the J3B PQD D-Sub connector.  Short and sweet.  If a twisted pair is getting labeled, I simply add both pins on each side separated by a “/” (aka 11/12).  I’m still sticking with the more robust label scheme throughout the rest of the plane which allows me to determine where the wire is coming & going, what devices it goes to (points A & B) and what pins it connects to at each end (typically power, ground or data signal).

Here’s a shot of the Mini-X wiring harness, minus the D-Sub 15 backshell (which is on order) for the J3B side.

I then set my sights on finalizing the GIB right side kick plate mounting.  I started by stuffing some plastic saran wrap into the aft lower hardpoint screw hole, and then laid up a ply of BID over it.

A few hours later it was really close to being cured, so I hand drilled the hole through the glass in the front to remove the plastic.  I then cleaned up around the hard point screw hole and test fitted the screw.

Here’s another wider angle shot of above.

I then spent a bit of time sanding down and cleaning the fuel sump low fuel sensor covers.

Here’s the exterior side of these things . . .  After sanding, I then gave them a good Simple Green wash and dried them off.

I then taped up the interior edge of both sensor covers and then shot them with a couple quick, light layers of black paint.  I would have preferred to use matt paint, but I only had gloss on hand so they’re a bit fancier than I had intended.

I then prepped both the outboard side fuselage area and of the interior wall of the kick plate with clear packing tape to keep the composite bracket from gumming anything up.

I then set up 2 prepregged 3-ply BID layups.

I then wet out the prepregs and combined the 2 stacks of 3 plies to make up a 6-ply forward kick plate mounting bracket.

I then laid up the 6-ply bracket layup half way onto the forward kick plate mounting hardpoint.

I then folded it back on itself so that it was almost touching.  My goal here was that when the kick plate was mounted, gravity would simply pull the glass down onto the protective tape on the floor, creating the exact correctly shaped bracket blank –since the floor at the corner here is 45°– after it cures.

Here’s a shot of the entire kick plate, with the 6-ply mounting bracket glass formed on the inside.  I was able to get just a peak of it through the holes in the front seat bulkhead and from what I could ascertain, my “shot in the dark” layup looks ok.

As the kick plate bracket glass cured, I then took a quick opportunity to apply a couple of coats of gray primer onto both thigh support fuel sump low fuel sensor covers.  Since I’ll have a pair of LEDs poking out the bottom of each of these covers, I wanted to get them painted so as to not have to worry as much about taping off those LEDs, which again will be on the bottom side, when I paint the rest of the back seat area.

Tomorrow I’ll continue working on all things GIB!


Chapter 22 – Electric all the way!

Well, as not that uncommon in this build, what was supposed to take a few hours ended up taking up every minute of my day today and propelled itself into the wee hours of the morning.

But my immediate task is done . . .  for now of course!  I tried a few different ways to get this on the screen, but alas my JPG captures on my CAD program suck.  So I just took a screen shot (pic below).  It gives you a general idea of what I was up to all day yesterday sorting through essentially a massive pile of spilled spaghetti.

I pretty much assessed every wire and every connection coming out of the GRT HXr EFIS (PFD), GRT Mini-X EFIS (MFD), Garmin GNS480 GPS receiver, and Trio Pro Pilot Autopilot. I identified if the wires would simply be run from point A to point B, or in a twisted pair or shielded conduit, all based on the requirements coming out of the installation manuals or the manufacturer’s guidance.  Where there was no specific guidance I turned to words of wisdom from the grand pupa of aircraft electrons, Bob Nuckolls, by referencing his masterpiece, The AeroElectric Connection.

In addition I clarified some info via phone calls and emails as I did with Chuck from Trio Avionics.  And will do the same with GRT tomorrow.

As I mentioned yesterday, I also labeled every RS232 serial pair and ARINC 429 pair for the data signal wires with their respective configuration labels and correlating baud rates that will be used when setting up the individual components to talk nicely amongst themselves.  I was also able to reallocate and free up some serial ports based on my newfound knowledge and tweaking of my system (also facilitated by some updated manuals such as a new 2017 install manual for the Mini-X).  This, in turn, both reduced the physical number of wires and allowed me to clear off unneeded ports that I was tracking on the diagram above.

With the wire types identified for each port, I was then able to massively rework my Panel Quick Disconnect (PQD) connectors and consolidate all the HXr EFIS harness wires on the J4 PQD 37-pin D-Sub connector.  I was just short a couple of positions, so I moved the power off the J4 connector and repurposed the J10 connector label for a new 4-pin mini-Molex power connector (HXr primary, secondary and tertiary power plus ground).  The old J10 connector got bumped down the line and is now J12.

Below is a page out of my connector pinout tracking sheets packet.  I track literally every wire, pin & socket in every connector on this aircraft.  As you can imagine, I’m waiting for the day when I can stop updating these sheets!

In addition, I did exactly the same thing in consolidating every wire for the Mini-X through the J3 PQD 15-pin D-Sub connector.  This is very significant in that it allows me to simply unplug & remove my HXr EFIS by disconnecting only 2 connectors: a D-Sub & mini-Molex (ok, and a USB cable . . . you got me!).  Moreover, If I choose to, I’ll be able to disconnect & remove my Mini-X EFIS by disconnecting 5 things: a D-Sub, a USB cable, the GPS antenna cable, and of course the Pitot & Static connections.

After I finished reworking my panel component wiring diagram and the pinouts for the 3 PQD connectors, I then did a scrub of every wiring diagram I have on hand, which is nearly 30 diagrams.  In addition to the panel component wiring diagram, I had to do significant updates to 8 other diagrams.

To help bring all this massive paperwork drill to life so you can see it in the physical world, I went back and snagged a couple shots of the Panel Quick Disconnect (PQD) connectors in the PQD bracket (still in its rough state before cleanup) so you can see what I’m talking about.  The 37-pin D-Sub J4 HXr connector runs across the top, while the 15-pin D-Sub J3 Mini-X connector runs down the right side.  The big round 24-pin connector, which admittedly is sparsely populated now (read: scalability) is the P6 AMP CPC connector.

Here’s a shot of the PQD connector bracket at the aft right corner of the Triparagon’s top cross shelf.  The PQD bracket is situated right below the aft face of the Trig 22 Transponder.  In addition, the PQD connectors are only a scant 4.5″ (IRRC) from the aft side of the HXr and Mini-X . . . so close in fact that I could not physically install the cable clamp on the aft panel-side P6 AMP CPC connector and still have clearance to run all the wires!

With my short deviation back into the world of electrons over (…for now!), I can get back to tackling the GIB area and start seriously planning on knocking out the nose and canopy (with perhaps a quick sideline tryst to finish the wheel pants?!)

Chapter 22 – Panel Cross Connects

Well, I’m back from my nearly weeklong trip down to the North Carolina coast and Virginia Beach.  This past Thursday Marco flew down to New Bern, NC and picked me up and flew me back to his EZ’s home base at Chesapeake.  At 45 minutes airport to airport and averaging just over 6 gallons of fuel an hour, you can bet I’m motivated more than ever to finish my Long-EZ!

Spending a few days with Marco and Gina was great of course.  Since Marco is actually interconnecting all his panel upgrade components (GRT EFISs, Garmin GNS480 GPS, etc), it gave me a lot more insight on the configuration settings required to get all these panel components to talk to each other.

With all this configuration settings stuff fresh in my mind, when I returned home on Saturday I spent about 3 hours digging into the manuals to facilitate adding port speeds, port labels and IDs to my wiring diagram interconnect wires for my PFD, MFD, GNS480, Trio AP, transponder, etc.  With a deeper understanding of the ARINC connections, this process also allowed me to further find a couple of design configuration questions that I need to get some answers to.  So I fired off an email to Chuck at Trio to get some of those answers.

I continued my digression (or distraction!?) yesterday as I got close to wrapping up my panel wiring diagram by ID’ing specific wiring types (twisted pair, shielded, standard) for each cross connect.  I also created a spreadsheet that IDs all the major programming configs for my separate panel avionics/instruments.  I’ve already configured the majority of settings –as far as I can currently– on both my Garmin GNS480 GPS receiver and my GRT Mini-X EFIS.

Tomorrow I’ll start off by rewickering my Panel Quick Disconnect (PQD) D-Sub pinouts to allow both GRT EFISs –PFD & MFD– to be quickly disconnected when I remove the panel.  So, a minor rabbit hole, but I think it will be good to get the avionic/instrument components’ configurations tweaked while it’s all still clear in my mind.  I’ll also continue my electronics quest by testing out my GIB lighting circuit and then try to get those into place inside the covers that get installed over the GIB thigh support sump low fuel sensors.  Not only will that be another major GIB area install out of the way and confirm some proposed circuitry, but will be another electrical install task completed.


Chapter 22 – Sloggin’ it out!

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.

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

Tomorrow I’ll finish the plan for the wiring, finalize the positions of the airspeed switches and other Triparagon cross shelf mounted components (“CrackerJack parts!”) and attempt to get the Triparagon cross shelf mounted.  I’ll most likely order the pitot-static parts as well after talking to a few equipment vendors.