Panel Design

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Includes: Highlander, Escapade, Summit and SuperSTOL.

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Panel Design

Postby SheepdogRD » Sat Jan 08, 2011 11:01 pm

With about 7 weeks to go before our Highlander kit is ready for us, I thought I'd get a head start on designing the instrument panel, and I could use some advice. We'll probably go with a single glass panel and some steam backup.

Four questions:

I plan to go up to the factory next week, so I'll take pictures and measurements to help avoid putting radios where there are fuselage tubes. But I've never laid out a panel. (1) Other than placing the basic instruments for an easy scan, what would you advise for a layout?

I see that the old "epanelbuilder" software seems to have gone away, so I'll probably use CorelDraw or Sketchup. Panel layout seems primarily a matter of TLAR (That Looks About Right) design. (2) Is there panel layout software that seems to work well?

I bought Bob Nuckolls' book, AeroElectric Connection, but it doesn't cover panel design. (3) Is there a publication you'd recommend?

(4) What have you used to design your panels?

Thanks . . .

Dick

P.S. To make it easy to quote these questions, here they are again:

(1) Other than placing the basic instruments for an easy scan, what would you advise for a layout?

(2) Is there panel layout software that seems to work well?

(3) Is there a publication you'd recommend?

(4) What have you used to design your panels?
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Re: Panel Design Software

Postby Redeye » Sun Jan 09, 2011 1:07 pm

I'm pretty sure Aircraft Spruce has a panel planner on there web site and you can pick from all the components they sell.
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Re: Panel Design Software

Postby scubarider2 » Sun Jan 09, 2011 2:42 pm

I did not use any software. All I did was chose the instruments that I wanted and laid them out after making the panel. You can do a search on panels here and get some good info as well.
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Re: Panel Design Software

Postby rmullins » Sun Jan 09, 2011 2:50 pm

I didn't use panel software, (and I'm a computer geek if ever there was). I just made paper cutouts of my instruments and then moved them around on the panel until I was satisfied. And you're right about the tubes behind the panel, they can bite you (a few curse words were spoken.....)
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Re: Panel Design

Postby SheepdogRD » Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:45 pm

I've been cruising the forum and the web looking at instrument panel designs. One that fascinates me is right here on this forum.

One of the interesting things Jim Pekola did on his Highlander Extreme was to change the shape of his panel. It's hard to tell from the pictures, but it appears that he brought it out about 5 inches, and arched the top of it like the Kitfox panel. While that reduces the available panel width, it also provides more panel height, and probably means everything is reachable without straining in the seatbelts.

The first two pictures are from the Highlander Extreme thread (http://www.wingsforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=218&t=18930). Here's the image where I noticed the depth change:

Image

In the next two pictures, we can compare the added panel depth in the Extreme to the standard flat panel in Gary's Back Country Monster (the image of the Extreme is flipped so it's easier to compare the two panels):

Panel Depth - Extreme- flipped.jpg
Panel Depth - N376CG.jpg

The added depth appears to provide much more working space in the panel. It seems like many instrument panels are so crammed with stuff that it's tough to work on them, and this might make the panel easier to maintain and modify.

I also noticed that Jim has extended the top of the panel even further. If we combine that with extremely reflective window tint on the top window, like Steve (taildrgfun) is using, it would probably eliminate most sun glare on the panel.

One interesting question comes up: in the picture of the Back Country Monster, the pilot's shins are pretty close to the panel. If that panel was extended like the Extreme panel, would there be a conflict between shins and panel for a tall pilot, or would there be just enough space there? Hmmmm.

One last thing: wouldn't those flat spaces on the sides of the panel be good places for fresh air ducts?

Dick
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Re: Panel Design

Postby scubarider2 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:43 am

Just don't forget the iPod holder which is the most important instrument on the panel. :mrgreen:
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Re: Panel Design

Postby rmullins » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:55 pm

I had thought at some point I might redo my panel, and bringing it farther back was one of the reasons. Gives you more flexibility in placing instruments, plus it puts the gauges closer to these old eyes. 8)

I'm not so sure about making it taller though. I made mine as low as I possibly could. Forward visibility on a tail dragger is always compromised on the ground, but with the panel low it really is not that bad.
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Re: Panel Design

Postby stede52 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:42 pm

Here's a couple of pictures of Jims Extreme panel which he extended because he wanted the intruments closer.

By the way the windshield edge of the boot cowl determines how tall you can make your panel before your forward view begins to become obstructed. To maximize the size of my panel I sit in the plane and build a panel template where the top of the panel matches the curve of the boot cowl windshield edge. So the lower you get your boot cowl the more forward viewing you'll have, however, that also reduces the height of your panel unless you build your panel so it extends below and aft of the horizontal cross brace, and then you need to make sure your control sticks pass under the panel. I when through all of this on my panel :)

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Re: Panel Design

Postby SheepdogRD » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:35 pm

Thank you all -- that's good information.

Dennis, we'll probably add music through the headsets. To be honest, music is a higher priority for Josh than for me. I enjoy just monitoring the airplane and the radio traffic.

rmullins wrote: . . . plus (the extended panel) puts the gauges closer to these old eyes. 8)

Yep, these eyes are old, too, and that was one of the things that appealed to me: I'd like to see the gauges better.

stede52 wrote:Here's a couple of pictures of Jims Extreme panel which he extended because he wanted the intruments closer.

Steve, the pictures help tremendously in figuring out how to build an extended panel. Thank you. Do you know how far out Jim extended his panel? By the way, I see that I have a picture of the panel you put in N419SD, but not your panel in N419BD. Is your new panel much different? I'd love to see any pictures you have, including pictures of it under construction.

rmullins wrote:I'm not so sure about making it taller though. I made mine as low as I possibly could. Forward visibility on a tail dragger is always compromised on the ground, but with the panel low it really is not that bad.

stede52 wrote:By the way the windshield edge of the boot cowl determines how tall you can make your panel before your forward view begins to become obstructed. To maximize the size of my panel I sit in the plane and build a panel template where the top of the panel matches the curve of the boot cowl windshield edge. So the lower you get your boot cowl the more forward viewing you'll have . . .

I agree -- I don't want the panel to obscure my view outside. I've wondered about visibility in a Kitfox, which has a higher arch on the standard panel. I had planned to sit in the finished seat and then make the panel just low enough that I could still see a little of the engine cowling over it.

Pilot position will be an issue on our plane, because Josh is about 4" taller than I am. I plan to experiment with a removable cushion for the left seat, so our eyes will be at about the same level, no matter which of us is flying left seat.

If that doesn't work, we may have to build another Highlander for him . . .
stede52 wrote:. . . So the lower you get your boot cowl the more forward viewing you'll have, however, that also reduces the height of your panel unless you build your panel so it extends below and aft of the horizontal cross brace, and then you need to make sure your control sticks pass under the panel. I when through all of this on my panel :)

Those are good design tips. They make me think I'd better hold off on this design work until I get back up to the factory and can get some accurate measurements. I had planned to go this week, but Atlanta and the surrounding area have been effectively closed for three days because the roads are so iced over. They're still pretty messy, so I'll probably hold off until next week, now.
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Re: Panel Design

Postby stede52 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:17 am

My panel ended up being 12" tall at the middle, I dropped my panel 2" lower and 2" aft of the cross brace. The main reason for that was due to the two 10" Dynon panels. By the way a 4" seat cushion is the best thing you can do for your BUTT :D

I'll take some pics of my panel the next time I get to the plane, weather has been crap around here also, but nothing like the east coast :shock:

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Re: Panel Design

Postby SheepdogRD » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:18 pm

stede52 wrote:My panel ended up being 12" tall at the middle, I dropped my panel 2" lower and 2" aft of the cross brace. The main reason for that was due to the two 10" Dynon panels.

I'll take some pics of my panel the next time I get to the plane, weather has been crap around here also, but nothing like the east coast :shock:

Thanks, Steve. This isn't a rush. Atlanta-area roads are just getting back to normal, because road departments here aren't equipped to work on icy roads. People in Atlanta simply don't know what to do on ice; we're transplanted northerners, and are experienced enough with it to know the best bet is to stay close to home 'til it melts. This weekend should take us back to normal conditions.

stede52 wrote:By the way a 4" seat cushion is the best thing you can do for your BUTT :D

Yeah, we want some good seats. We may even invest in a 2"-thick twin-size memory foam mattress pad, and put one or more layers in our seat cushions. I wonder what Oregon Aero (http://www.oregonaero.com) does to make their seats so good.
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