Canopy Door Locks Finished

Time: 2.25hrs

We’ll I thought this was going to go pretty quick, but like anything on the plane it didn’t. The tool I was waiting for arrived so I wanted to put the rods in that connects the front and rear latches on the doors. I was looking at how I needed to bend the rod and noticed that it was a bit too long… well actually it was because I put the rear latch (only on the right side door) in the wrong place. I measured the 590mm from the 0 point (the line that lines up with the window frame edge) and not the center of the door handle hole. That put the latch about 100mm more forward then designed which would probably cause the door not to seal well. So I drilled a new hole for the rear latch and installed the M5 rivnut.

Now what to do with the rivnut in the incorrect position… well I had an extra knob handle so I put that on the rivnut. The sucky part was that the left door was correct so then the thought was do I leave it or do the same to the good door? I decided to make it the same and add the rivnut with the knob on it. It looks kind of cool I guess. Maybe I can come up with something better or more useful.

This is the tool I was waiting for. It makes putting in the roll pins easier because the jaws stay parallel to each other so it applies even pressure on the pin. You could probably use a C-Clamp as well, but I figured I’d use these around the house as well. The pliers are a bit pricey. I think these were around $50 on Amazon. This is the 10″ one, they have larger pliers, but these were large enough to get the pin in.

The latch connector rod installed. You can also see the fix for my mess up… the anodized knob above the rod.

Pin installed on the rear latch.

I had to drill out the hole in the front latch to 1/8″ so the roll pin would go in. The hole in the rear latch is already the correct size.

Front latch pinned and rod connected. I’m missing the small anodized knob on the handle (note the blue tape). I’ll have to get that from TAF. I’ll wait to loctite the nuts on the latch rod after I put the door on and install the pins in the side of the fuselage that the latches lock down on to, just in case I have to make some adjustments. I also need the left handle M5 nut that should be here in a day or two.

Oh yeah. I almost forgot to pin the square block coming out of the handle. I noticed it because I kept having o tighten the knob on the end and eventually it just pulled out. I just used the same roll pin used on the latch rod connections. TAF only supplied 4 pins, but I cut two of them in half for the latch rod and then used the other two for this (on each door).

Canopy Door Locks (Almost) Finished

Time: 4.5hrs

I had some time today to almost finish the work on the canopy door locks. I finished up a few things on the left door and also completed all the work on the right door. I think the left door (the first one I did) came out a little better, but still happy with the way they came out and that they are done.

I wasn’t able to install the bar that connects the front and rear latches because I need to wait for a tool I purchased to install the roll pins. Also TAF gave me 3 right hand threaded M5 nuts and 1 left hand threaded rather then 2 of each so I just ordered more of the left hand threaded nuts.

Since the fiberglass/carbon fiber is so thick here I was able to recess the rivnuts a bit using a larger reamer to drill in a little so that the rivnut head would sit flush with the door frame. I also uses a little epoxy when installing them. I did this for these 2 M3 rivnuts as well as the 2 M5 rivnuts that hold in the inside handle. I didn’t recess the one holding the rear latch since there didn’t seem to be an aesthetic reason to do it.

Almost got everything in the photo… the main latch with lock, the inside handle, and the rear latch are all installed. Just need the bar to connect the front and rear latches. I’m also missing the small knob that goes on the main latch so I’ll have to get those from TAF.

Canopy Door Locks

Time: 3.5 hrs

Since I really wasn’t looking forward to doing this part I decided to see if I could get it over with and install the locks in the canopy doors. I’m a bit nervous about drilling holes in plexiglass, however the process went fairly well. There was quite a bit of messing around and it was good I had some left over plexiglass to test drilling, etc before doing it to the actual window.

I purchased a 3/4″ (19mm) foster bit that I used to cut the large hole for the door lock handle. This went well, no chipping of cracking of the plexiglass. Also I found that drilling using standard drills was fine. I initially drilled a 1/16″ hole all the way through from the inside through the plexiglass as a pilot hole. The first try put the hole a little too low on the outside so I had to redrill it at a little bit of an angle to get it were it needed to be on the outside. I then used the 3/4″ foster bit to drill through the plexiglass and through the outside layer of fiberglass. I then enlarged the inside hole and used a 7/8″ step drill to enlarge it. I finished it by using the dremel with a sanding wheel so that the large half of the lock fit. Then came the tedious part of cutting out the hole so that the lock would fit flush in the door frame. With that done I lined up the inside cover plate to make sure the mounting holes would line up on the inside ridge of the door and then marked the 5mm holes to drill through the plexiglass to mount the lock. To get the positioning of these holes I used the inside lock part, lined it up with the 19mm hole, and mark the holes. This worked OK and the holes almost lined up, I needed to slightly adjust them as I increased the drill size to finally get to the 5mm hole.

19mm hole drilled in the plexiglass. I later use some 320 grit paper to smooth it out. I will probably need to do a little more sanding since the handle is a little tight to turn.

3/4″ foster bit drilled the 19mm hole very well.

Inside marked and drilled. I then used the step bit to enlarge it to 7/8″ and finished getting the inside lock part with the dremel and a sanding bit.

The inside part of the lock fits, now the next step is to cut out the hole so that it sits flush in the door.

This is what I ended up with for the cut out. I tried to make the top fit tight since that’s the part you’re going to see. The bottom portion I just squared off. Of course I slipped with the sander right when I was finishing and of course I don’t have any touch up for the canopy… well I do, but it’s epoxy paint and I don’t have the resin.

Piecing together all the parts for the lock/ltach. The manual says to use M3 screws to fasten the plate to the door, but they don’t show rivnuts being used. I assume that’s what is needed, but then the plate isn’t going to sit completely flush on the door. I’m thinking maybe I need to get some countersunk rivnuts for this.

This is the handle side of the lock. I still need to do a little adjusting here because it’s a little tight to turn the handle. Also still have a bit to do with connecting the rod between the front and rear latches and a few other holes to drill. Then I get to do it all over again for the right ┬áside door.


Rear Cabin Lights Complete

Time: 1.5 hrs

The copper washers came in today so I was able to finish up wiring the rear cabin lights and get them mounted in the canopy. To my surprise everything fit into the space in the canopy just fine. I also did a quick test by hooking up the power supply to the canopy power feed wire.

Got these from e-bay. They’re 32mm copper crush washers which fit around the mount on the light. The copper is easy to solder to.

Soldered the lead from the touch dimmer to the large copper washer. The washer then gets installed between the aluminum mounting plate I made and the mounting ring of the light. Now if you touch any of the metal parts on the light or mounting plate it will turn on or off the light. If you hold then the light dims down and if you release and hold again it dims up.

All wired up. I tested them prior to installing in the canopy as well. The funky clear plastic looking thing is just a crimp butt split with heat shrink. The touch dimmers were around $7 from Amazon.

Both lights mounted in the canopy and tested. These are the swivel lights from AIrkit, LLC.


Rear Cabin Lights (Part 3)

Time 3.25 hrs

More work on the rear cabin lights today and yesterday. Now I need to wait for a few parts to finish it up. It’s getting there. I’m kind of wishing I just bought the Aveo lights, it would have saved a lot of time.

I had to change the way I did the dimming and switching of teh front lights because of the way the lights are wired. The Airkit lights for some reason have a single power lead and two grounds , one for the white light and one for the red (rather then a single ground and seperate poor for each colored light). I didn’t like how the potentiometer was dimming the lights so I wanted to use a PWM dimmer to get better dimming. The problem is you can’t dim on the ground side so I had to do away withe the dual concentric knob idea and go with a double throw switch (to select the red or white light) and pot to control the PWM dimmer. It’s a bit of a tight fit to get the switch and pot on the mounting plate, but the tiny pot that comes with the dimmer helps. The pot also has a switch built in so that removes the need to put that in the dual throw switch.

I made a new anodized plate (I didn’t like the gray one) and did the cut outs for the dual throw switch and pot. I found a nice knob made by Kilo International on Allied Electronic’s site. They make a few styles so I purchased a few different ones to see what would work best.

Ran the wire to the rear cabin lights and pinned the ends for the connectors. The rear lights just use a 2 pin connector (+14V and Ground). This will connect to the touch dimmer and I’ll just wire that directly to the light. Oh and I also riveted in the nut plates as well.

It’s getting there. I never imagined it would take this long to get everything installed and wired up. There’s been a lot of trial and error. mainly because the space is so minimal in the canopy roof. The small circuit board hanging is the PWM dimmer (really a motor control) that I got off Amazon. It takes 14V in and then just a connection out to provide dimming for the lights. The ground side will go into the double throw switch. The PWM dimmer has a connector for the on/off switch and another for pot.

Rear Cabin Lights (Part 2)

Time: 1.25 hrs

I had a bit of a break from working on the plane. My wife and I ran a half marathon and did some camping in Yosemite. We also were finally able to go up to the top of Half Dome (bucket list Item) since the cables went up earlier then expected this year. Then after an exhausting few days there we spent a weekend in Seattle with some friends. Real estate prices are almost as insane there as they are here in LA. Oh and BTW the Space Needle is way more scary then Half Dome if you’re afraid of heights or edges (as I learned from Craig M.)

So since the mounting plates were finished before I left on the trip(s) I marked and drilled to holes for the nut plates to mount them. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish riveting in the nut plates, but I should be able to finish this up pretty quick tomorrow. The worst part of working on the cabin lights is having to work upside-down… my back is killing me.

All the holes drilled, countersunk and ready to go, just need to rivet in the nut plates.


Photo of Half Dome from the trail going up to the summit. I think this is at around 7000-7500ft.

A photo of the cables that you climb to get to the summit of Half Dome. I really had to push myself to do the climb, at the base of the cables your have about a 3000-4000ft drop off on either side so it’s a bit freaky. Though once you start climbing it’s really not that bad and you’re just really focused on not messing up :-).

Rear Cabin Lights (Part 1)

Time: 1 hr

The rear cabin lights (same manufacturer as the front lights… Airkit, LLC) finally arrived from Aircraft Spruce so I made the round mounting plates from the anodized aluminum that I had purchased a while back. The lights are a lot smaller then I thought, but I knew they weren’t going to fit anyways. I also tested the touch dimmer on them and it seems to work fine so I’ll have to wire that up next. The factory cut holes for the rear lights are around 1.9″ (0.4″ larger then the front) so the mount plates needed to be a little larger.

Finished mounting plates. The lights fit a little loose inside the mounting plate so I may use a little bit of RTV when mounting them and make sure the mounting ring is nice and tight so they don’t slip around at all.



Canopy Door Windows Finished

Time: 2.5 hrs

Since the Sika finally arrived I was able to install the window in the left canopy door. Tomorrow I’ll clean it up and hang in on the canopy, just temporarily. The window install went as expected. I used some smaller clamps that seemed to work well.

A few photos of the right side door temporarily installed on the canopy. The window came out pretty good. just a few spots to fix with some Sika.

This stuff is awesome. I purchased it from Amazon for around $7. You can hand rub it or use a buffing wheel. It removed all the fine scratches I found in the windows without too much effort. Always, always use 100% cotton rags to clean the plexiglass, anything else will scratch it. Mine were scratched at the factory or in transit, nothing bad just annoying.

My wife Rose couldn’t resist taking a photo of me in my Sunday best with my trusty Sika gun.

And the last window is pretty much done. The smaller clamps worked very well, just lightly holding some pressure. The Sika actually holds very well so they’re almost not required, but just in case.


Canopy Door Windows Install (Part 2)

Time: 2.5 hrs

Installed the window in the right canopy door. Letting it dry now and need more Sika to do the left one. The door required quite a few clamps. The C-type clamps don’t work so well because it’s hard to get them clear of the Sika on the front, but still on the frame on the back. I ended up using the furniture type clamps. The only thing I did different then the rear windows was that I removed the tape on the inside of the window after about an 1-1.5 hours after I put down the Sika. The tape was much easier to remove and left a few spots that needed to be cleaned up since the Sika was still a little wet. Smoothing with your finger and using a little Mineral Spirits to cleaned it up seemed to work well. This approach was much easier then letting it dry and having to cut the Sika with a knife to get the tape out. I’ll take some photos after it’s all cleaned up.

Pilot/Copilot Cabin Lights Install (Part 3)

Time: 2.5 hrs

Today I did some miscellaneous work on the plane. I pinned the front cabin lights and installed those. I had put the connector on thinking that there would be enough space to pass through the canopy, but I was wrong. The center of the canopy has the cabling for teh parachute so the connector would fit under it. I had to remove the connector, pass the cable end through to the hole where the dimmer is going and finally put the connector on. So much for being able to easily remove the lights… well it’s not that hard to pop the 3 pins out of the connector I supposed. I’ll hopefully get the dimmer soon so I can wiring that up. The rear lights are still on back order from Aircraft Spruce.

I also sanded the rivets I had filled for the canopy and also filled and sanded the hole in the canopy that was made by TAF.

LED light is pinned and connector is on. I had to remove the connector on the copilot light because there wasn’t enough space in the canopy to pass it through.

Lights are in. Hopefully they will stay that way. I do still need to test the dimmer when it arrives.