It seems that most of the frustration that aircraft designers have stems from the difficulty of pursuing what sometimes turn out to be mutually exclusive goals. At the very least, any design is a flying pile of trade-offs. Those of us that are building RVs (and kitplanes in general, it seems) don't have much to do with the actual design of the aircraft, which is probably fortuitous for everyone involved. However, one of the few things that the typical builder actually gets to design (as opposed to fabricate) is the panel of the aircraft.
Because of this, it seems like it's probably a good idea to figure out what you want out of the panel before you start putting instruments into it. The ideas behind the design of any aircraft panel will vary depending on the mission profile of the airplane (this is one of the great parts of going experimental, after all), Let's figure out what conflicting ideals we're going to try to balance:
As mentioned above, the main way that the panel is going to be traditional is the layout of the instruments, not the selection of the instruments. I think it's a good idea to have something that's at least somewhat close to the traditional way of laying out the standard 6 flight instruments. Here's an example of the standard layout of flight instruments in an IFR-capable RV-8. This airplane belongs to Doug Preston:
Here's the same sort of standard layout of flight instruments in Mike Seager's factory-built RV-7:
In this airplane, I particularly like the idea of a row of switches along the bottom (as opposed to on the top or on one side of the panel), and I like the darker background color.
Here's an example of a RV-9A panel that's still under construction. This airplane belongs to David Edgemon. Here's David's panel:
There are a few things David's done to this panel that I really like. Let's go ahead and list 'em and make a few observations:
That's all for now (20 May 04) - check back soon!
New (as of August 2004) thoughts: here's actually what this is going to look like out of the gate - it's a first draft, so be nice:
Here's the key:
Other thoughts: we've got a potentially blank spot, so it might not be a bad idea to add another VOR. It would make the most sense from a design perspective to put this close to the radio whose information it represents, but if we put it in spot (4) then we have to move the Dynon Engine monitor into the realm of where the standard 6-pack, is, which I don't really want to do. I'm probably not going to do this, but adding another VOR and then moving the engine monitor to right below the other Dynon would certainly make for a unique panel . . . maybe in a unique bad way, I have no idea.
That's all for now (1 Aug 04) . . . hopefully this will start to get interesting in the next few months when panel parts start showing up. Hopefully there will be a bit more planning before that happens, though.
Thoughts as of October: I'm having second thoughts about going with Dynon. One of the main cool things was going to be the ability to have a duplicate display with the engine monitor, but the engine monitor doesn't look like it's going to be coming out really very soon, and I sure don't want to be one of the first people to debug this. How much would this change if we used the EFIS Lite from Blue Mountain? Well, that wouldn't be the only change if we're not going with the Dynon Engine monitor. What about the ACS 2002? Expensive, but it's cool.
Anyway, here are the new ideas, illustrated:
And these aren't anywhere close to scale. Using these instead of the Dynons will have an impact on the layout, I'm sure. Also on my checkbook. We'll keep thinking about this, and maybe try to fly with someone with a Blue Mountain. (If you want to know more about their stuff, you can order a DVD from their website, which I've just done. It's free!)
New thoughts as of late November: a few interesting things to note. Dynon has announced a date that they are planning on releasing the engine monitor - May 2005, so that will probably be just after Sun-n-Fun. If they're able to stick to that date, that's sort of back in the list of viable options, as that'll be before we need it. Sure would be nice to see a few other people flying with them before plunking down money, though.
Also, I talked to Sam Buchanan at the last TVRVBG meeting about Dynon and Blue Mountain - Sam used to be a beta tester for Blue Mountain, and currently flies with a Dynon. He's of the opinion that the Dynon is a little farther along in the development cycle - i.e., lots of people that are flying with a BMA system are still on the development team whether they want to be or not. That's probably more true with the BMA EFIS One, though. This isn't the first time I've heard this.
I think the moral of the story is that waiting until the last possible minute to make an EFIS decision. There's a high probability that something else interesting will come out before then, anyway.
New thoughts as of December: well, yup. Looks like something else interesting is going
to come out before then - Trutrak
announced that they'll be officially introducing a
new primary flight instrument at Sun-n-Fun of 2005. Here's
Looks really neat - having a backup for the Dynon would really be good to make this safe for IFR. Let's sit tight and see what the pricing ends up being on these things. Probably I'll go for the smaller one.
Go back to the Reference page.