N4184R During

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The pictures below were taking during the upgrade of its avionics panel.  Click on the thumbnails to see a much larger original.

First, here is the panel just before disassembly:

ip_upperleft.jpg (431318 bytes)    ip_upperright.jpg (385142 bytes)

Next, the old avionics were removed

avionics teardown left panel.jpg (146196 bytes)    avionics teardown right panel.jpg (128050 bytes)

Leaving an instrument panel with no avionics:

Old Avionics gone.jpg (157309 bytes)     ip removal 2.jpg (143056 bytes)    gutted cockpit panel.jpg (169161 bytes)

Then, all the panel lights, switches, connecting wires, etc., were removed, leaving an empty "husk" of a panel:

 ip_rem_leftclose.jpg (395916 bytes)    ip_rem_midclose.jpg (408933 bytes)    ip_rem_closeright.jpg (374500 bytes)

While the avionics were being removed, the old auto-pilot controls and rigging were also removed.

gutted panel interior.jpg (134630 bytes)    ap & avionics install.jpg (156400 bytes)

The panel was then prepared for complete removal, using sheet metal tools.

ip_removal.jpg (360164 bytes)    ip_removal_left.jpg (300992 bytes)    ip_removal_mid.jpg (306774 bytes)    ip_removal_right.jpg (323207 bytes)

While the removals and demolitions were going on, the new wiring harness was being designed to connect the new avionics.  Brian McNutt is the harness designer.

harness builder.jpg (135065 bytes)    brian building wiring harness.jpg (156589 bytes)    New Harness Assembly.jpg (151183 bytes)    new avionics.jpg (120581 bytes)

To test the harness and interconnections, a test bench panel was built from lucite.  These panels were also used to test the AutoCAD design, to make sure that all the instruments were going to fit as designed.  A few problems were discovered, which resulted in a new plastic panel being cut.  This was much cheaper than cutting a new metal panel.

Plastic Mockup Panel.jpg (122538 bytes)    Plastic Mockup Panel Closeup.jpg (130609 bytes)    BenchTest.jpg (66787 bytes)    BenchTest-side.jpg (73662 bytes)

Having tested both the panel design and wiring harness, it was time to begin installing the new harness.  There are a lot of wires, and not that much space to work in.

harness installation 1.jpg (160744 bytes)    harness installation-close.jpg (161890 bytes)    harness installation 2.jpg (128974 bytes)

While the front-end of the plane was getting a "facelist", the back-end was also opened up for new auto-pilot controls (ie: electric elevator trim control):

Rudder Trim Servo.jpg (96462 bytes)    new ap rudder trim solenoid.jpg (108709 bytes)    New Tail Wiring.jpg (126232 bytes)    Tail opened for AP install.jpg (91697 bytes)

 

new antennas.jpg (98050 bytes)And, with the new avionics, comes new antennas: two for the Garmin GPSes, two for the radio, two (one top, one bottom) for the TCAD, and one for the AM/FM radio.

Finally, the harness is in, and now it's time to fit the new, AutoCAD-custom designed (but still unpainted) instrument panel:

New IP being fitted.jpg (129092 bytes)    New IP Fitting.jpg (312004 bytes)

There was a ton of work to do in accomplishing this significant upgrade.

Using AutoCAD on his old PC, Tom Smothermon, with input from Grant Sumpter and myself, designed the panel layout (he also does the avionics & telemetry design for Dago Red, the current unlimited class national champion racing plane).

grant & brian.jpg (119987 bytes)Grant Sumpter (left-side) did the electronics component selection and interconnection design work.  He also spent many hours on the phone with Garmin, Sandel, and S-Tec/Meggitt getting some bugs worked out in their equipment.  Brian McNutt (right-side) built and installed the wiring harness. 

hector ponce, sheet metal man.jpg (97015 bytes)Hector Ponce did the sheet metal work.

 

Joel Myers & Tom Smotherman.jpg (74234 bytes)Joel Myers and Tom Smothermon.  Joel is an experienced full-time commercial pilot, with multiple type ratings, a CFII, and an FAA DE for the Santa Barbara area.  Besides being my IFR instructor, Joel helped check me out in N4184R when we acquired it, and he flew it for the new Garmins IFR checkout.

Duane McNutt, the owner of ASB Avionics, helped "swing the compass" and the Sandel, and performed the Garmin IFR certification. (Sorry, Duane, no picture)

little helpers.jpg (126678 bytes)Finally, no project would be successful without the presence and support of my "little helpers"

 

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Alan K. Stebbens Flying Website - Last updated: 04/13/2003