Saturday, September 15, 2012

Benefiting from Incompetence

Remember this?

No way that connector is going through that hole, but I had no idea at all how to remove Molex pins. While I (through necessity not always of my own making) eventually got to where I could remove the tiny, fragile gold pins from the DB-style connectors, I had no idea what to do about these, nor did I have a tool for doing so. What I did have, though, was the benefit of incompetence. I postulated that I might be able to move the little locking pins by pressing on them with a small screwdriver. That didn't work. I couldn't even see the locking pins. As a last ditch effort, I resorted to just pressing down into the middle of the pins with the screwdriver. Lo and behold, that worked! It worked because I had failed to full seat the pins in the connector in the first place!

Let's hear it for incompetence!!

With that out of the way, I was able to finish the addition of the matching connector to the wires remaining in the airplane and press on with the rest of the avionics work. That included the installation of the very first avionics box, which I have taken to referring to as the J-box:

The next step was to attach the front pitot tube to the aft pitot tube, the counter-intuitively subtractive math of which equates to 1 + 1 = 1. The problem was that the aft pitot tube was, well, still well aft. I had not yet pushed it back through all of the wire bundles it had been removed from in an attempt to make more room for wires in the bundles, as it were. This was one of those "pay me now or pay me later" deals I made with Van's, and 'later' was now. It was to be worse that Van's had intended; I had actually pulled the pitot tube further back than Van's had suggested, thinking at the time "Gee, that made this pretty easy. Why didn't they suggest this?"

Well, now I know. It was a miserable job to get that tube back up to the front, and the worst of is was that portion that I had done voluntarily.

It was eventually finished, of course, which is the nature of this kind of project. You do what you gotta do 'til it's done.

Moving on, it was to be a series of installing various Skyview modules that were previously built into the old D-180. As much extra work this has been, I am far happier to have the Skyview than the D-180, and these modules are one reason why. One of them breaks? Replace just the module, not the entire avionics suite. Some new capability comes out? Buy just the new module! Or don't - it's up to you. Much, much better this way.

The first to be installed was the Engine Management System, or EMS. This unit will accept various analog inputs from engine probes of various design and purpose, convert them to digital values, and pass them along to the main Skyview box for graphical display.

Next was a big backup battery that will keep all of the displays and modules working if there is a massive electrical failure on the airplane. That's a handy thing to have, right? It should have been easy as pie to install, what with it being only two screws and nuts.

The second screw didn't go well.

A second attempt at the second screw went even worse.

Even though I happened to have a copious number of spares available (these are the same type and size of screw that hold the spinner on the RV-6, so I have a bag of them handy at all times) it was getting tiresome. The problem appeared to be an excess of resistance from the lock nut. I thought a little lubrication might help.

It did.

Right next to that goes the USB plug that will be used to update the software that provides the smarts of the Skyview. For the D-180, this service was provided by a serial connector safely locked behind the cover of the tunnel. In other words, it was hard to get at. It made up for that by also being hard to use, requiring a serial-to-USB adapter to even get it attached to a laptop computer, itself not the easiest way to lug around update data. Now it is simply a matter of bringing a USB flash drive to the airport, one of which was even provided by Dynon!

Then it was fuses. Lot's of fuses.

Just in case a fuse blows, Van's even provides spares and a rack to keep them in.


The switch/fuse box is screwed into the center panel.

Which is then screwed into the supports. Van's had me countersink the panel in order to use flush mounted screws. I don't like them; I'll be using the old 'button top' screws for the other two panels. They better match the color of the panels.

With the center panel in place to support it, we were able to then install the tray for the comm radio. It was a pretty tricky job involving half a dozen very small screws and lock nuts, but once it was done the Garmin SL-40 radio slid easily into place.

The transponder, which in the D-180 world was a separate Garmin panel-mounted component, is now a module that mounts to the firewall. It rides in a mounting tray for easy removal, but I am unclear as to why I would want to be able to remove it. In any event, the tray ran into a little interference from a rivet that had been punched through the firewall from the other side.

I simply trimmed the tray a wee bit.

And the transponder itself never noticed.

The transponder antenna cable screwed in easily. The display and controls for the transponder are built into the Skyview display, so yet another data cable bundle runs over to the J-box to provide input to the Skyview display. There are so many of these loosely wrapped wire bundles that I started wrapping all of them in the plastic wire wrap I bought from Aircraft Spruce. This makes the bundles so much cleaner looking and it is so cheap that I can't understand why Van's doesn't ship some with the kit.

I ran out, though. I'll have to clean these up later.

Having tired of being clean, I decided to roll around on the floor for awhile. While I was down there, I installed the comm antenna. I thought that I would be kicking myself for not having installed the optional nutplates for the antenna base to screw into, but it was actually quite easy to do without them.

The transponder was even easier. Pete took his turn on the floor and pushed the base of the antenna up through the belly skin and I threw a nut on it. It took no time at all. Well, no time at all if you don't count the time that it took Pete to get up off of the floor. Maybe I should have done that part....

Finally, it was time to install the main Skyview screen. Piece of cake.

I went ahead and added the right side panel just for completeness.

Not a bad day's work, eh?


Hugo said...

You made it look almost (dare I say it?) "easy". First flight should be coming soon and I'll imbibe a cold, malt beverage on your behalf on that day.

Lookin' great.

Steve said...

That panel looks great! Not gonna lie, all this techno-wizardry installation of late is extremely cool to see.

Post a Comment