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Conrad

Copilot Panel rework

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Well, I'm shut up at home without much to do. Fortunately, in a moment of inspiration, I bought an aluminum copilot panel blank last time I was at LASAR. My current copilot panel is a mess of chopped up plastic and holes made for things that are not longer present. While I can't have the panel machined yet, I can decide where I want everything to go. Here's what I'm thinking about:

First, out with the GPSmap 496. It was great back when it was the only device in the cockpit with full color, WAAS, and terrain alerting, but now the IFD440 has taken over those responsibilities. My plan is to toss in a Galaxy Tab A 8.4", mounted above the copilot yoke and tilted (or tilt-able) for optimal viewing from the pilot seat. It would run Droid EFB, connected via Bluetooth to the IFD 440, hopefully giving it access to the certified WAAS position source and ADS-B products, as relayed by the GTX 345. As I understand I can legally do a semipermanent mounting fixture for the device, so long as the device is easy to remove from that fixture.

I'd like to take out the cigarette lighter 12v power source. I wonder if that would be a certification challenge. I'd replace it with TSOd USB charging ports.

I'd optimize the placement of some more important instrumentation, including moving suction pilot side top center.

I'd really like to move the circuit breakers up onto the panel where there's enough space for them all, hopefully resulting in a setup similar to what you might see on a J. This is another major worry in this little project, because that gold strip seems like it would be very tricky to extricate from the engine controls. I don't know, I still really dislike the idea of just leaving it full of circuit breaker sized holes, and it's already quite a mess, with peeling lacquer and lots of taped over labels.

I want to get a proper panel mount minijack audio input to the intercom. It supports aux, but there needs to be a resistor in that circuit somewhere. A normal minijack outputs way too much power, and when you use minimum volume you just end up with awful signal to noise ratio.

Another tricky thing, I'd love to move the rheostat for the cabin lighting to the panel, and supplement it with a dim bus control for my avionics that support it. I suspect this is the kind of change for which I'd be getting to know my local FSDO though... Has anyone done it?

Anyway, here's what I have and what I've laid out so far. The best copilot panel shot is from before I redid the center stack.

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*Members that donate $10 or more do not see advertisements*

I think it may make sense to move the USB power over to the right of the tablet so that there would be the option of replacing the smaller JPI with a full size instrument if I or someone else desires it in the future.

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Conrad,

Great thinking out of the gate!

Brilliant to ask for ideas on top of your base ideas too...

 

  • There is a thread around here about designing the panel layout using free cad tools to members of EAA....
  • Adding a second EI instrument in place of the old mechanical gauge would be cool...
  • The cigarette plug is an old standard... that will probably fade pretty fast going forwards....
  • Hard to guess what is next... USBa,b,c....  so a standard plug with the latest USB converter stuck in it probably still has legs...
  • Take a look at the newest Switches being used on the left hand side, nice lighted, pretty... but don’t have integral CB...
  • So... if redoing the field of CBs every half century.... this may be a perfect time to update some great looking switches in front of the pilot...
  • Looking forward... add a few extra CB holes for going vac free... a G500txi or a few Aspens...   :)
  • Now is the time to add a glove box kind of alcove... perfect to hold the matching phone to the tablet...

It was pleasant helping to spend another MSers hard earned cash... :)

Thanks for including us.

Best regards,

-a-

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Haha thanks @carusoam

  • I should look into that. Not sure I need it though since this part is already milled to specs.
  • What old mechanical gauge? The CGR-30C is a certified replacement for the original cluster gauge. The JPI bar graph gives me all four CHTs and EGTs.
  • New switches would be a good idea if I'm replacing that plate already. Some of mine have gotten rather floppy. I like the idea of some lighting, although it would be more useful I think to illuminate the lettering around the switches. Afaik on the big iron they do that by mounting in plexiglass, which they matte coat and then CNC mill the letters into. However, assuming that is not practical, there are some very attractive designs available here. (EDIT: oh right, not dipole, no good) I could just find a very small LED strip to mount down there and paint the letters in white.
  • I think USB A is a safe bet. You wouldn't want anything smaller (read: less sturdy). USB A to C cables will be produced for a very, very long time yet. I chose a USB-C tablet since micro-usb is so notoriously easy to damage.
  • Will definitely leave some extra CB holes
  • I don't plan to get rid of the six pack or vacuum pump. Call it nostalgia, but I love those analog instruments. It's any number of things for me - non-digital technology, their subtle and smooth movements, and just the elegant pattern of the layout. Also I need to to keep the stair functional.


 

Edited by Conrad

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Instead of drilling another soon to be obsolete hole in your brand new panel for an audio jack, trade that GMA340 audio panel to @Avionics Source for a PMA 450B. You can do the swap yourself while quarantining at home. No avionics shop required. And it will be the most significant creature comfort upgrade in your cockpit. It also has two Bluetooth radios so you and your copilot can pipe in different music if you can't agree on the tune. It also has a USB-C charging port... just because.

I'd also recommend selling off the JPI and adding the missing EI to complete the matched set. Put it in the hole that the Manifold pressure gauge vacates... you won't need that any more. That would be the CGR-30P. It would give you Manifold Pressure, Fuel Pressure, all the EGT's, and CHT's, data logging, and a host of other features as well. The JPI has value still and will offset the cost.

I'm with @carusoam, it's so much fun spending other people's money.

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I think the tablet mount should be one of these. That way I can drill the standard AMPS holes into the panel (for addl. future proofing). It's not very thick, but hopefully just thick enough to get the minor amount of pilot-facing tilt I'd want.

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I'm glad I can provide entertainment. At the moment I seem to have money to spend and nothing to spend it on...

@gsxrpilot Interesting suggestion RE audio. I'll think about that one. If I don't choose that option quite yet I could still run the aux input cable over the top of the panel instead of through in order to, as you say, avoid drilling holes which may become useless.

The dual CGR setup would likewise be interesting. By condensing another two copilot instruments into once spot I'd open up another space. Not sure if there's anything I'd want to put there though.

At the moment I think I want to prioritize upgrades though. High priority are LED landing and wingtip lights, because with all these digital goodies I'm quite close to the alternator's load limit at times, and that's without doing any flying that would require pitot heat. After that comes work on the interior which is, at present, a bit ratty.

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I've done quite a bit of upgrading on my 252. And I did a little bit on the M20C that I owned prior. 

I always try to think about what the ultimate goal would be, if money were no object. And then don't do anything I'd have to undo to get to that state. I obviously can't get there now. And I probably wouldn't want the plane to be down that long to get there. But the worst thing would be to have to undo or redo work down the road. Because as long as you own the plane, you'll keep doing little things here and there to improve her. 

I will say, I like your position on keeping the steam gauges on the left side. I've got an Aspen, but I do like a nice organized 6-pack. Find yourself a nice round HSI on barnstormers, to replace the DG, and you'll be set on the left side.

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Just realized that I can install an CGR-30P without getting a new Engine Data Converter. I can't find a price without an EDC listed anywhere, but hopefully it'd be a significant savings, especially in install cost. It was a real pain to find a good spot to mount that thing, and required fabrication of a custom mounting bracket. That would leave me some empty panel space down where the original cluster gauge was. What would be useful in that space I wonder? If I could I'd put J style flap and trim indicators there.  Flaps aren't a big deal since I can just look out the window, but I'd love to see what my trim setting is without looking at my ankles.

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I  just finishing up my right side panel. This photo is kind of blurry. but   it is from a few days ago. I ran out room for EI Annunicator  lights so I mount to a piece Aluminum Angle that I pull the panel if I need to.

The problem the most equipment manufacture don't designs some mount from the the back while other mount front from the front.  so if your panel has mixture  equipment  mounted from both directions  then make a pain if you need to work on your panel.

James  '67C

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@jamesmI like your setup! Looks very clean. The only thing I'd point out is that those annunciator lights are supposed to be on the pilot side. The 30-P and 30-C displays will have red numbers and other visual indications of out-of-range readings if you happen to be looking over there. I find that's not always true. For example once established in cruise sometimes other things take my attention completely away from the engine monitor for an extended period. Also in certain critical phases of flight you may not be watching the monitor closely. It's only because I have my annunciator front and center on the pilot side that I know that I sometimes experience load spikes that risk popping the alternator circuit breaker during taxi or potentially takeoff.

Edited by Conrad

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