April 7, 2013

Some useful progress

Today started off gloomy with a distinct chill to the air and as I needed to work on the new X-Air panel outdoors because of the dust the drilling would make, I wasn’t inclined to make an early start. Luckily it brightened up later on, although it never became what you would call warm, so I set up my new Workmate outside the back door in what sun there was, started Frank Sinatra Live at The Sand Hotels 1966 playing on Spotify and got going.

I seem to have changed the panel layout every time I’ve looked at it, which may not be a bad thing really, because better to keep improving the layout before you’ve started drilling rather than after. I’ve finally arrived at what I think is the right panel for me – it will do what I want it to and I also like the way it looks. The picture below shows what I’ve finally arrived at.

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I’ve decided to use the altimeter and VSI out of MYRO, mainly because they match. I’ve got a large altimeter (and a small one as well, actually) that was in the X-Air, but there was no VSI and if I just used the one from MYRO, the two instruments would not be similar in appearance. By using the small ASI in kmh that was already in the X-Air rather than a large diameter gauge that I have that reads in mph, I’ve been able to mount the ASI, a slip ball that I already had from AX3 G-MYME, I think and a 12V cigar socket in a vertical bank in front of me, thus saving some useful space. This means that I can keep the engine hours gauge over on the left on the pilot’s side of the panel and still keep plenty of space in front of me to Velcro mount my GPS, with the added bonus that the 12V socket it needs is conveniently close to it. And I’ve had a bit of luck there. As I mentioned in a post last year, I broke my car satnav lead many weeks ago when I drove to Nimes to see some floor tiles and in an attempt to keep the satnav working, I bought a replacement with a short curly lead. This turned out not to be suitable for my car cigar lighter charger and I almost decided to throw it away. It now turns out that that lead fits the 12V socket that I’ve fitted into the X-Air panel absolutely perfectly, and as it has a short curly lead, I’ll be able to avoid the problem I had with MYRO, of having a long GPS lead draped across the cabin with a bunch of lead coiled up next to the satnav itself. Lovely 🙂

I’m mounting four engine gauges in a bank on the right of the compass, which I’ll be keeping in the centre of the panel, as it was originally in the X-Air. I have a small RPM gauge that was in the X-Air but I won’t be using it, for the weirdest of reasons. When I went to view the X-Air the first day up in Brittany, lo and behold there was a small live fly crawling around under the glass of the RPM gauge. Well, to cut a long story short, that fly’s dried up corpse is still in there and there’s no evidence of how it got in or, indeed, any way of getting it out. I’ve tried to crack the gauge apart without doing (too much) damage, but it has proven to be impossible. But as luck would have it, two RPM gauges from Rotax 2-strokes were recently advertised on the internet small ads over here, and having contacted both sellers, I’ve agreed to buy one of them. At only 43€ including delivery it won’t break the bank and as a bonus, it also looks to be in much better condition than the one containing the poor dead fly that I’ll probably be chucking away. What a way to go eh 😐

Only the water temperature gauge comes from the X-Air. It has neither a fuel pressure gauge nor an EGT gauge at the moment so I’ll be using the fuel pressure gauge that I bought new for MYRO (a good idea because if it isn’t used, it will probably gum up like MYRO’s original one did, if it hasn’t already…) and checking to see whether I should use MYRO’s EGT gauge, which I also bought new, or buy a new gauge and sensors. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t want to strip MYRO unnecessarily, but because of the damage to the pod nose, the panel will have to come out at some time anyway, and I’m thinking that I might do it now while I’m in a panel-kind-of-mood, before gauges etc start to deteriorate.

I’m fitting the switches in what I think is a logical order, fairly high up in the panel below the compass. The reason for that is so I can Velcro my Vertex transceiver and interface in the space below them, as far as possible avoiding interference with them by the connecting cables. That was a slight problem with MYRO because the space available on the AX3 panel was a bit less, so things should be better this time around. The 12V main fuse I’ve shown in the diagram is the one I’ll be moving from up near the engine, as mentioned in my previous post, and there will also be a 10A fuse for the electric starter next to the key, much as I did in MYRO. I’ve now decided to fit only the single 12V DIN socket, the reason being that I think it’s a good idea to have one, even though I never ever needed one, let alone the two, that I fitted into MYRO’s panel. And finally, there will be two more panel-mounted fuse holders adjacent to the DIN socket, which will be for the DIN socket itself and the 12V cigar socket on the other side of the panel.

I made good progress with the layout today, but didn’t get anywhere near to finishing it. Even so, it’s taking shape as shown in the following pic.

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The fibreglass in the X-Air panel is a lot lighter than what was used in the AX3. Both the gel coat and the mat are much thinner and as a result, I’m finding that the hole cutters are making the gel coat more chipped and ragged around the edges of the holes than I would like. But there’s no point getting upset as there’s nothing that I can do about it and I’ll just have to see if I can tidy it up a bit with a few dabs of black paint. The X-Air gauges also all had odd bolts and screws and unfortunately I haven’t been able to get hold of any suitable screws. So on Saturday I picked up a lot of small stainless bolts, nuts and washers (you fill up a small plastic envelope with as many as you can fit in and pay a fixed price) and I’m using these to secure the gauges, as the picture shows. I like the result better than I thought I would. And the other thing that I like a lot, is that I can do all of this without having to report to the BMAA Technical Office for approval and pay through the nose for the privilege. Now that really is progress in my book 😀