Online Community of Zenith Builders and Flyers
What are people using to design their instrument panel? I thought I'd easily find full scale pictures of most available instruments on the Internet, but I haven't found much yet. I prefer to go this route instead of computer layout programs because I want to be able to tape pics on the panel and then sit in the plane and look at it.
Thanks in advance for any and all ideas!
I printed out the full scale pictures and laid them out on the panel so I could sit in there. For me it was important to be able to simulate each phase of flight so I had a feel for where my hands and eyes had to go.
Where did you find the pictures to print?
George Race looks like he has some good panel design stuff at mrrace.com
I am about to do my 701 panel and will be contacting him soon. Like the way he designs his panel in 3 sections and makes it easy to modify or service it later if you need too...
I put the plane together then built my panel. I did use a Dynon Skyview which simplifies layout. The Skyview and the switch panel are held in place with rivet nuts. When they are removed or opened up it is possible reach everything behind the panel without a bunch of contortions to get up behind the panel. I just built it up in place putting everything as close as possible to each other and adding a few L angles to stiffen things up.
I know you mention above you prefer not to use computer programs, but there are a variety of instrument patterns available electronically. So, maybe this may not be terribly helpful. I used a CAD program on my Mac to design my panel. This allowed me to easily line up things like switches and circuit breakers. I also was able to develop several versions I could print full size and tape to the bare panel to try out. The nice part was taking the final CAD drawing on a USB drive or CD to a local water jet cutting company and having my panel water jet cut directly from a piece of .040. Cost for the later was maybe $65 took less than 15 minutes to cut. See pics below .. not me in the pic, that's the operator of the water jet cutting machine.
I flew a '99 C206 for years with sub-panels and I really liked the idea. So, I put two sub-panels in my 750 - one holds the EFIS, comm and slip-skid and the other has the compass, tablet mount, and some miscellaneous jacks mounted on 2 1/4" instrument hole blanks. It really makes it easy to just remove a few screws and the sub-panel comes out, plus the resultant large holes make it easy to work behind the panel. Also, you can change a sub-panel's configuration easier than redesigning the whole panel!
My only regret is that I didn't put in a third sub-panel for the GRT EIS!
This pic was the initial install - since then, I move the comm to the left sub-panel and the tablet mount to the right upper hole on the right sub-panel - lots of flexibility with this arrangement!
How do you like the GRT EIS?
I like it!
Initially, I was thinking that since the 750 is a "low and slow" flyer, a basic round-gauge panel would be most appropriate - at low altitudes over hostile terrain, one doesn't need to be mesmerized by a computerized light show! However, I was going with the Jab 3300 6 cyl and it was inconceivable to me to not have a 6 probe engine analyzer (I flew a 206 with an IO-540 and GEM analyzer for years). The Jab USA folks recommended the GRT EIS. The beauty of this box is that it has a big 'ole red idiot light - program all the normal engine parameters, and if one goes outside of limits, the red light flashes and the EIS pulls up the page with the affected parameter. This is actually better than a round gauge because basically, you can keep your head and eyes up and out of the cockpit - if the light's not flashing, everything is A-OK! I've found it to be reliable and had to do almost no troubleshooting with the installation - factory support is excellent. On top of everything, I got a heck of a deal buying the unit at AirVenture a couple of years ago!
Now the "cons" - when I purchased the EIS, I hadn't thought much about flight instruments, still thinking I'd get a bunch of round gauges. When I seriously looked into it, the MGL Xtreme Mini EFIS was very competitive vs new analog gauges. When you couple that with the fact that it has a built-in GPS with basic navigation and the GPS drives an artificial horizon, it was a steal! MGL cautions that the horizon shouldn't be used for IFR, but I've got loads of IFR time and I can tell you this horizon is very useable - you really don't need an AHRS, especially if you're intending to be a day VFR flier! Thinking it might make more sense to upgrade to a GRT EFIS to redundantly display the GRT EIS (it's a simple wiring connection), I found the least expensive GRT EFIS was the "Sport" and that would cost $3000 minimum, and probably a lot more by the time it was properly configured! The MGL Xtreme is just $1100! MGL makes an "EMS" which looks just like the EFIS but displays engine instruments - I might have just added that plus the EFIS if I had it to do all over again but that would mainly be for consistency of appearance and "wow" factor of the panel - I don't know how well the MGL EMS works - the EFIS is, however, excellent! But, I rationalize that I'm better off with my big red idiot light! HA!
Just wanted to add my .02 here. We are just spooling up our CNC panel design, cutting, powdercoating and labeling service. Right now, our CNC router has arrived and should be fully operational in about 2 months. We will be offering full panel design and layout services also.
If you are interested in working with us on your panel, we will go through the entire layout process with you. We can then send you images of what your completed panel will look like. We send an email with a life size rendering of your panel that can be printed at any kinkos, etc, so that you can verify what it will look like in your aircraft.
To finish it off, we will offer powdercoating and professional silkscreen labeling of your panel to give it a finished, extremely professional look at a very reasonable price.
Right now, we are pre booking panels for customers. The further in advance you would like to book, the more of a discount you receive on your panel.
More information is available at http://www.aircraftspecialty.com/instpanels.html
Or, email us at
Have a great day