Tuesday, February 14, 2006

About the panel...

I've been thinking about the panel again. In the latest version of the proposed upgrades, I still had the vacuum gyros from the exsiting panel, but had added an in-panel Garmin 396 and a VM1000C engine monitor. That seemed to be the best compromise between keeping as much as possible from the old panel while at the same time modernizing it in the areas where the largest real-world benefit would be realized. I'm not so sure anymore. The reason I say that is that I noticed this new Dynon unit today:

Because the engine monitor is integral to the EFIS, I would only need to buy a single display panel. Every time I had looked at buying an EFIS before, the cost quickly escalated beyond my budget because I would have had to buy a separate engine monitor too. A combined unit like this is still more expensive than just an EFIS, but it's less than a two screen display system. The economics of it now make more sense, so I'm going to go see if I can design a panel with the Dynon instead of the VM1000C and the old gyros. The would allow me to completely remove the vacuum pump and all of the plumbing, along with the relatively heavy mechanical flight instruments.

I have to check behind the panel to make sure it will fit around the supports that attach the panel to the bulkhead. This picture shows a tip-up canopy RV with a Dynon D-100 (same size as the Dynon 180) in the panel, so it looks like it shouldn't be a problem:

I'm still debating as to whether or not to keep the mechanical pitot/static instruments like this example did, but I'm leaning towards keeping them because they will provide a level of redundancy should I ever lose electrity, and because I already own them and it would be wasteful to just shelve them. I will go ahead and put the electric turn coordinator back in too, for the reasons above and additionally to hold a spot open for an autopilot if I decide to buy one. The autopilot is another debate: most of my flights to date have been relatively short, but that will probably change. As it is, on the trip to Oshkosh I did find myself wishing I could turn on an autopilot now and then to look at charts, etc. But, they're expensive and because my plane is already done, fairly difficult to install. For now I just want to keep my options open, and if the funds ever become available and I can find a good way to mount the servos without tearing too much of the plane apart, maybe I'll do it.

I'm also thinking about seeing what it would cost to get to a light IFR level. One for sure cost was just detailed above: I would have to have an autopilot before I'd fly IFR (IMC, more precisely. IFR can be flown in clear air - IMC means you're really in the clouds) in the RV. I'd also need a heated pitot tube, annunciators for the King 89b GPS, and I'd probably want a second comm radio. A second comm radio would then incur the cost of an audio panel, albeit a simple one.

See what happens when you get the avionics boulder rolling?

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