The Instrument Panel

The Instrument panel that is supplied in the kit is a very professional looking affair with all the holes pre-cut in order for the end result to be a full IFR panel with special 'Falco' engine instruments and all predrilled holes for switches, lights and breakers in the Sequoia proprietary electrical system.

Sequoia Panel

The completed Sequoia Falco Panel.

While probably frowned upon as being an outrageous modification, I didn't want the standard set-up. For my way of thinking

1) light planes aren't very good 'Hard' IFR platforms.

2) If that is the case, I don't want all this crap in it to weigh it down and rob me of performance.

3) All this mechanical stuff is old fashioned, heavy, not particularly reliable and expensive.

4) I don't need a whole bunch of switches and wiring (The built in audio panel) to select audio from one radio. After all, I will only have a GPS for a NAV which doesn't make any noise (Well not when its working correctly anyhow) And if I change my mind and add a VOR or some other outdated crap I can use the volume control on it. A nice intercom will do fine thanks.

5) DI's..... Well if I'm not going IFR I doubt I'll get a lot of Radar headings so what good is heading information? Its TRACK information I'm interested in and I get than on the GPS. So... Scrap the DI.. more weight saving.. and if I'm really desperate.. what's wrong with the compass.. we did learn to use it properly now didn't we???

6) Ignition keyswitches.. read expensive and overly complex... and A Falco deserves a sexy starter button ..........now where did I leave those keys?

7) I wanted to have the opportunity to try out some of the electronic instruments available for homebuilt aircraft rather than stick with the 'old fashioned' style of instruments. I hunted around for cost effective instruments and after finding the uMonitor & uEncoder from Rocky Mountain Instrument, decided that was the most bang for buck. See how I got on with the uMonitor kit.

The next problem was to be how I would go about designing the panel and the cutouts. Being one for technology I really wanted to try CAD software and so after I found an add for Panel Planner software I decided to try it out on my panel. The software was limited at first but more and more features are being added. The latest version I got was version 2 pro and supported NC cutting machines.

Panel Planner Output

An early layout of my panel using Panel Planner.

As winter approached (no gluing in winter so I did this stuff) and I got the aircraft to the stage when I required the panel. I downloaded the .DXF file into AutoCad to see what output the program gave me. I wasn't too happy with the result. It gave all the instrument cut-outs ok but the panel outside edge was omitted. Also, no holes for anything on the folded edges were possible so I decided to use the basic locations I had got from Panel Planner and re-do the whole thing in AutoCad. This way I know I've got it were I want it and can add the extra bits I want with no real problem.

Pre cutting DXF File

Here is a very crude screen shot of the AutoCad cutting layout. I had to figure out all the bend allowances for the folds which took a while but I think the end result below looks good...

The next thing was to take my Cad file to the Laser Cutters... The man assured me I had it all correct and a week later...Viola!

Cut Panel

A few minor stuff-ups.. mainly due to believing Panel Planner's dimensions but basically quite nice I think, just needs to be bent now.

Starting the wiring

Just starting to wire up the panel.

Dimmers on the left, quick disconnect plugs to facilitate easy panel removal (Lower centre) etc.

Getting there !!
The panel all wired up and things starting to tick !!

As you can see... I'm keeping it simple for now. IFR it aint !! Just how I like it. (I will add a horizon though)

22 Jul 2003

After the first flight I started adding extra bits and pieces. The GPS ended up being absolutely not what I was planning on originally and the horizon I chose also didn't fit so I decided to go back to the beginning and re-cut the panel.
in the raw
Second crack at it.. look how big the GPS cut out is !!     28th-July-2004
Quality control
My quality controller inspecting the wiring. I don't think he was impressed.
Second panel !!
A few days later all ready to go, minus the horizon which is still coming !!   2nd-Aug-2004
Here are some of the instrument selections I have made since flying the aircraft.
Trio AutopilotThe Trio Autopilot.

It requires a GPS to operate (Other than wing leveller mode) Tracks a GPS. It is extremely light and small and just fits where the turn and bank goes. It has a rate of turn display but I needed to fit a separate slip ball.. I actually prefer this anyhow.

I got mine customised for my plane as you can see.

GPS

 

The GPS I chose was the EKP IIIC. It has a HUGE screen. It is intended to be hand (Lap) held but I mounted mine in the panel.

I had to get NZ's database corrected but now it does what I want. It has some cool features and with all that screen real estate you don't need to look hard at the screen to see what you want to see.

Typical though.. just as I get mine.. it gets discontinued.. the EKP IV look great though. But I'll be stuffed if I'm going to make another panel !!

As a subnote to the AvMap... I can't recommend the unit. It is sold as having an NMEA 0813 interface.. Strictly speaking.. IT DOESN'T.. It has an NMEA 'Like' output but doesn't meet the specification in that it doesn't output the data within the NMEA specified timeframe. "So What" you say? Well if you want to interface it with anything, like my autopilot, it may not work. I've built an interface that makes the unit useable. It isn't ideal but at least works. I tried contacting AvMap but they ignore non USA based complaints it seems.

The Italian office helped sort out the Database though. The USA ignored my weeks of complaining about having a unit that was basically useless here. They happily took my money but didn't really want to help. Only after finally getting a response from Italy did the USA even answer an e-mail. So support doesn't rate highly. The interface problem, I'm guessing, would be quite a large software repair so I doubt this company will ever fix it. If you are considering one of these... think long and hard.

One guy who is GREAT is Dan at www.marvgolden.com who has a great online sales company. His service is second to none. He tried to help me on this one too even though it wasn't his problem.

I suspect the EKP IV has similar hardware and software.. just a slightly bigger screen and a different case. After such bad support I would not be game to try.

efis.jpg (41708 bytes)

The Dynon Avionics EFIS D10A.

The best bang for buck I can find.   only weighs 4ib and doesn't need vacuum. The gyros don't crap out after a few months when doing aerobatics. Personally I want a back-up airspeed and don't care about anything else.