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Long Body Overhead Light Panel (Install Update)

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My light panel for the overhead had become warped and the backlighting was not working. A little investigation revealed it was an electro-luminescent panel powered by an AC inverter in the overhead. I checked the inverter power output and it was good. Further investigation revealed several interesting facts.

1. The life span of these panels is about 2000 hours and since the panel is continuous power, if the airplane has more than 2000 hours, the panel is near EOL.

2. The inverter is simply glued in the overhead with RTV

3. There are two type of switches and panels. The MM makes mention of only the newer panel where all switch/breakers except the landing and taxi light switches snap into and are retained by the EL panel. (The taxi and landing lights are simple switches with CBs on the main electrical panel) The older type panels have the switch/breakers mounted on an aluminum plate and the EL panel is attached to the aluminum panel. Here is a picture. As you can see my panel is warped which occurs at EOL due to excessive heat build up from the AC power. You can also see the cutout in the aluminum panel to allow the landing and taxi light switches which are retained by screws in the overhead.



So I decided to replace the panel. Mooney part # 150085-005. I knew it would be expensive, but hey...I got a new interior and I want it all looking good. Called LASAR. They said it was $773.00. Okay, but..........no stock at the factory. When could they get one? "Get back to you". One month later.....crickets.

So I did what I was prepared to pay someone do. Hunt up a panel. Then I thought, if I buy a used one how many hours before EOL? Unknown. So I investigated more. I found a company called Fronpanelexpress.com. They can make an aluminum one, powder coated. You design the panel with their software off their website, upload the file and it gives you an immediate quote. $164.00. Nice but it was not back lighted. I considered post lights but was concerned about glare. If someone is still interested I have the CAD file that you can use, drop me a line if you want it.

THEN, I found a company called Nimbus Aviation at FXE.  nimbusaviation.com They specialized in EL panels and are a part 145 repair station. They asked for pictures and said, $475 plus shipping. Sounds good, so I sent them my old panel. What I got back was a complete new EL panel with an FAA 8130. Here it is:


So it appears these are the go to folks now for these panels. I was willing to give the factory my money but no one wanted my money.:(

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OK here is the update on installation.

First wiring. The panel has a Tyco Mate-N-Lok two terminal connector. You can either clip the old one off and use butt splices or put on a new connector. I chose to go new pins with the old shell. If you want a new shells The numbers are 1-480318-0 and 1-480319-0 for the shells. 60617-1 and 60618-1 for the pins. If you only do the pins and use the old shell on the panel side 60618-1 male pins, get the extractor tool 465644-1 and you can pull the old pins out easy. All available at Mouser or Digital-Key. I used a crimper from Amazon to crimp on the new pin:


Before you put the wires through the aluminum panel you need to enlarge the hole. The strain relief on the new EL panel is larger (and more robust) and will not fit in the factory hole to allow the EL panel to lie flat. You need to remove the 4 switch/breakers from it (8 screws) and you can take the aluminum panel to the bench. It has a 5/16 hole it needs to be enlarged to 1/2 inch minimum. Re-attach the switch/breakers. Make sure you twist the wire leads because it is AC power and it is near the compass. Thread the twisted wire with the new crimped on male pins through then insert them in the shell. Make sure you connect black to black (hot wire), the remaining color is the neutral. Insert the middle two screws to attach the EL panel to the aluminum backing panel. Then install the entire assembly and secure with screws at the 4 corners.

Power up. Check the all the lights. Turn on the panel lights in a dark hangar and your panel should light. Put your headset on and with the radios on, touch one of the screws on the EL panel. You should hear little and preferable no AC feedback. If you get a lot of feedback either you wired it backwards, the inverter is bad or improperly wired.

Steve! It is really bright!



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  • GeeBee changed the title to Long Body Overhead Light Panel (Install Update)
27 minutes ago, GeeBee said:

 If you want a new shells The numbers are 1-480318-0 and 1-480319-0 for the shells. 60617-1 and 60618-1 for the pins.


You just saved me a bunch of digging because I need pins and shells for the new LED recog lights. :D

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  • 7 months later...

@MdeJung you might also call Air Capitol Dial.  They just repaired mine and were a little cheaper than Nimbus, but Nimbus may have a faster turn around.  It was $473 + shipping, with 20 days door to door (they quoted a 12-15 business day turnaround, pretty accurate).  Nimbus quoted me $675 with a 7 day turn around.

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