Miscellaneous Work

Time: 3.5 hrs

More random stuff done on the plane:

  • Drilled extra holes in parachute skin and cut out edges as per other holes. Drilled holes in fuselage for new parachute skin holes
  • Installed vertical stabilizer covers
  • Messed around with remaining parts for canopy (door gas strut, various screws, etc.)
  • Temporary install of cabin heat and choke cables (need to be cut)
  • Messed around with mock up instrument panel and GTN650 fitting

I added 3 more rivets on the front of the parachute skin and two in the back near the antenna. Also had to cut the notches so the skin can slide out under the rivets when teh parachute is deployed.

Fits much better now

And also in the back

I saw on Peter C’s build log that he installed these (RF-SKN-008-C-A-0) so I dug them out of the box and installed them as well. One less part to have lying around and having to figure out where it goes.

To install the cover skins you have to remove two rivets and install M3 rivnuts.

The cover skins attach with M3 screws. These will need to be removed when the empennage goes on, but for now I’ll just leave them here. I’ll also need to prime the inside when I do the wings (and have the primer spray out).

I temporarily installed the choke and cabin heater cables. These aren’t supplied by TAF so they will need to be cut to size. I was hoping that I could install these before the instrument panel gets installed because I have to tighten a nut on the inside of the firewall where the bulkhead fitting goes through, but the cables are designed to be fed through the front of the panel so change in plans.

I cut a block of foam to the size of the GTN650 including the connectors (11.27″ deep) and glued it to the back of my mock up panel (which is actually fairly accurate to size). This is an old mock up, quite a few things have changed, but it will still work for this purpose.

Well someday it will look like this for real, but until then I have the paper version 🙂 I looked behind the panel and it seems like there is about 2-3″ of space between the back of the foam (fake GTN650) and the rib so with wires attached there’s not much space behind the GTN650 for anything to be mounted on the rib.

Parachute Skin

Time 2.5 hrs

Today I drilled the holes to mount the parachute skin. This will be riveted later after the plane is painted and is riveted with a small removable spacer so that the panel can be more easily removed as the rocket flies through it and deploys the chute. Like everything on the plane I figured this would be fairly quick, but even after being careful to hold down the skin as the holes were drilled I still ended up with a few spots (in front) where the skin doesn’t sit down tight enough to the other fuselage skin. I figured that putting an edge on the skin might help, but this only helped a little. I ended up unriveting the galvanized plate inside and bending it to fit the shape of the fuselage I also notched the plate to fit better into the channel where the rocket will sit so that the skin would sit more flush. This helped the most and the skin fits much better now. However after looking at a factory photo from Craig M’s site I notice that TAF added a few more rivets in the problem spot so I guess I’ll  do the same to get a bit better fit.

Lots of tape to make sure the skin was sitting flat on the fuselage. It took some time to make sure it was positioned correctly. I mainly used the forward edge as a guide to make sure it was straight with the canopy to fuselage seem.

All the holes drilled and the skin checked down. At this point I thought I was done, until I saw this….

Ahhh WTF the skin doesn’t sit flush on the fuselage and since it’s the leading edge it would be good if if sat nice and flat. I know that the rivets will be a bit more relaxed then how the clecos are holding it down now, but since I don’t think that’s going to easy the gap that much. Also I don’t know if any kind of sealant is used when the skin is installed, even if the the fit was pretty tight I would image water would still get in. I guess I’ll have to find out.

To get a better fit I decided to use the edging tool to put a bevel on the edge. This actually didn’t help as much as I hoped. Next I removing the galvanized reinforcing plate so that I could do some work to it. It’s a pretty stiff piece of metal so making that fit better should help the fitment of the skin.

I added in a slight bend to the plate and also notched the edge so it fit down into the rocket channel better.

Well that’s quite a bit better. There’s one spot on the front that still isn’t great and also on the back near the antenna. I saw from the factory photo though that TAF added in a few extra rivets. So I will probably do the same.

Here’s the factory photo taken from Craig M’s site that I was referring to. You can see about 2 extra rivets added to the front and a rivet in the back near the antenna. Also it looks like they beveled the skin as well so I guess I was on to something there 🙂


Miscellaneous Work

Time: 1.25hrs

I felt like I needed to do something on the plane so I did a few little things to make me feel better.

First thing was I installed a connector for the ELT buzzer. I previously put some leads off the 15 pin connector that connects to the ELT. I found a locking 2 position connector that uses the same Mini Universal Mate-N-Lok pins I have been using.

Next  I ran the throttle cables through the firewall bushings. I didn’t tighten them down yet since I’m not sure long far they need to extend out from the firewall. These are from TAF so I know they don’t need to be cut. My other cables for the choke and heater will need to be cut since those were just purchased online.

Lastly I messed around with the placement of some of the avionics components. I mocked up a few of this using foam block. I also simulated the connectors so that I could see the spacing needed. I think the arrangement will work. I found some Garmin tray mounts that I will try to use for the GMA245R (Audio Panel) and the GTR20 (Comm). I will just stack them on the left side using some aluminum angle. The GTX45R (Transponder) will be similar but on the right side and will use the mount that comes with it. I saw that SteinaIr mounted the GSD29 on the side of the GTN650 mount on Craig M’s panel and I think that’s a good idea since it mainly connects to the GTN650. Also I may mount the GSU25 (ADHRS) on the back of the GDU460 but I’ll have to see if the panel is rigid enough. If not I can mount it where I have it speced out.

The connector is done for the ELT Buzzer. I’ll have to zip tie it a bit once it’s all connected.

Throttle cable through the firewall. Nothing exciting.

Preliminary placement of avionics. I also need to check the spacing on the GTN650 to the rib. From what Craig M. was saying there’s only about an inch of clearance to the rib after the connectors from the back of the GTN650. I left about 4″ either side of center so it will probably work (the GTN650 is only 6″ wide). I can always adjust it when I do the actual install. I don’t have any of these avionics yet and I think I will hold off a little longer until I have the engine on. That’s going to be the next step I need to do anyways.

Locksmithing Canopy Doors

Time: 1hr

Well it just goes to prove that when you’re building an airplane you basically need to know “everything” :-). Never did I imagine that my locksmithing skills would have been used on my airplane, but to get the two canopy door locks to use the same key required a bit of that. When I was putting together the door locks I noticed that the keys had different codes on them (TEM30 and TEM19). The codes are for knowing what key to get if you loose them. The code is also on the outside of the lock. I found that the locks are made by Hudson, but couldn’t find any replacement lock cores or a rekey kit (though I did find a rekey kit later in my searches). I opted to order a new set of “T” handles from Amazon that looked exactly like the ones that TAF supplies. The new handles were keyed the same. There are no manufacturer markings on the TAF supplied handles so it’s anyone’s guess as to who actually makes them. In any case the replacement handles came and while they looked exactly the same they were a little larger diameter so if I wanted to use them as a direct swap out I’d have to do some more drilling which I wasn’t too keen on.

After some head scratching and thinking maybe just go to a locksmith or email TAF about getting matching locks (but where’s the fun in that?) I figured out how to get the lock core out of the replacement Bauer locks so that I could use the wafers inside to rekey the TAF locks to  use the same key. My persistence paid off and I now have both doors using the same key… now for that luggage door :-). Actually the luggage door has a bit different key (it reversible) so no way to rekey it to get it to work, I don’t think. I might be able to replace the lock with a Hudson or Bauer (the replacement lock I bought). I guess any single sided wafer type lock would work.

The TAF (Hudson) lock core is on the bottom and the replacement (Bauer) lock is on the top. Once I got the Bauer key core out of the lock assembly I just pulled the wafers out and put them into the Hudson core in the same order. The trick to removing the Bauer key core is you need to press in the sixth wafer that allows the whole core to be removed. The TAF locks are a little more secure since you need to remove the parts on the inside of the door and remove the whole handle to get the core out. Either way none of the locks are really all the secure.


Cabinet Lights Finished

Time: 3.0 hrs

The last component of the cabin lights was to wire up and install the switch and potentiometer plate. I originally tries to use a dual concentric 100k pot and dim off the two ground leads coming from the lights, but I wasn’t able to dim the lights all the way off and I wasn’t able to find a dual concentric pot with on/off switches built in, at least ones that would fit in the small space of the canopy ceiling. I had to switch to using a PWM dimmer, really a motor speed control that came with a pot with a built in switch. Fortunately the pot is very small so I was able to fit it on the plate that needed to also have a double throw double pole switch so that I could switch between the red and white lights.

Wiring was pretty straight forward. The lights have a single power lead, a ground lead for the red LEDs and a ground lead for the white LEDs. The power was fed from the dimmer directly to the lights and the ground was fed from the dimmer into the DPDT switch. Once assembled I tested prior to putting in the plane. The trouble with this arrangement is fitting all the parts up into the canopy ceiling. The nut plates also get in the way and there are foam blocks that also make it lots of fun. It ended up not being too bad getting everything stuffed in neatly. The one issue I had was the circular connectors are a bit long when you connect them together so it was a bit tricky to get them through the small opening for the lights. I hope they come out if I every need to do that.

So in all it probably took a little over a month to get all the parts and work out the issues to get the lights installed. Maybe it would have been better to get the Aveo’s. I probably saved quite a bit of money, but then again with having to buy some things that didn’t work or that I didn’t use that added some expense. Oh well. I’m happy with the way it came out. I just hope the electronics hold up. It’s a bit more complicated then I was hoping.

The switch is all wired up I’ll have to put the connector on for the the right light connection once I pass the cable through to the right side. There’s a bump in the middle of the canopy for the parachute cables so the connector won’t fit through.

I wrapped the dimmer in silicone tape. Now all that has to fit nicely up into the canopy.

Ah success and it all works, even the rear lights. I guess I’ll need to label the switch or maybe put a red and white paint dot.

I think next I need to start figuring out were all my avionics are going to go.