Back at the beginning…

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The recent beginning:

The first ground wire

The first ground

It has been a long journey, and this is just the most recent step.  We are still working on the electrical, but we are getting the engine ready as well. We have finished the engine inspection, addition of all external hoses, clamps, gaskets, etc. We have purchased new or rebuilt accessories (Carb, Mags, Alternator, fuel pump, etc) and we just received the propeller. I originally went with a wood prop, but since that would add 15 hours to the Phase I fly-off, I decided to go with a standard Sensenich propeller.

We will soon be at 7 years of building, and here is where we started:

Empennage Kit for RV9A

Empennage Kit for RV9A

Happy Thanksgiving and keep pounding those rivets!

Panel is installed…

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We have finally installed all the parts of the panel we need.

N18TD Instrument Panel

N18TD Panel

Not everything is wired, but some stuff works. EIS is wired (not to the engine of course) Ignition switch is in and working. I still need a few components to get everything together, but I feel pretty good.  Even the baggage lights work!

Oh, and how much work is this?  Well, here is where we started:

Empty panel

Empty panel


More electrical…

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Lots of work but little to show for it.

Electrical work takes time and in the overall scheme of things, it does not have much visual impact. You do TONS of work with little visible to show for it. We have a new battery, flaps, flap indicators, trim indicators working, boost fuel pump, master switch, circuit breakers, auto pilot controller, Skyview three know controls, 12V power plug, interior lights, and a bunch of other stuff.  BUT IT DOES NOT LOOK MUCH DIFFERENT!

Oh, Well, back to work.

RV-9A Panel work

Panel work

Electrical Work…

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We are underway on electrical and things are going well.  Long wires are run, and we are starting panel stuff.  we installed fuses and circut breakers in this project. Two fuse boxes (essential bus and master bus) that are not available in flight. If you get an electrical short in flight, wait until you are on the ground before trying to fix it. In-flight fires can ruin your day.

The fuse blocks are mounted on a hinged flap that can be lowered by removing two screws.

We also have 4 circuit breakers on the left panel, for alternator field, flaps, trim, and auto pilot. These are the kind that can be manually pulled in case of runaway.

Fuse Cluster

Fuse Cluster

Here is a tip for electrical work.  Buy a handful of alligator jumper wires for testing and fitting. These are pretty cheap, and will help with testing before installing.

Jumper Wires

Jumper Wires

a 12V electrical test light is also a good purchase.

ANL fuse is mounted on the firewall, and an inline fuse for the master is connected right off the master relay contactor (orange, but hard to see in this picture)

ANL fuse on firewall

ANL fuse on firewall




Panel Planning Post Possibly Perfect!

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We are getting into the really tough part.  Planning the Panel.  I see many panels, and think how cool they are. How complex they are. How WAY complex they are.  I want a simple airplane that is easy and fun to fly, and I can go into the clouds with no worry, and if things get tough, a simple panel will bail me out.  I’m not building the space shuttle. I’m building a cool two-seater that is Cessna Safe!

Panel Electrical

Panel Playground

OK, I believe the planning will be complete, not when I run out of things to add, but rather I will run out of things to take away. Anyone want to buy a Hobbs Meter?

We have decided not to go with the EXPBUS and instead go with 90% fuses. I’ll still use circuit breakers for flaps, trim and autopilot. It will be the kind of circuit breaker that I can pull to disable. This will give me one last change to prevent a runaway motor.

Fuse blocks for RV-9A

Main Bus and Essential Bus fuse holders

It is funny, that I’m ready to build the plane the way I want to build it, but when an onlooker says “Have you thought about X” I have a knee jerk reaction to say “I’m building the way I want”


The reality is that I did NOT think about that, and it is a good idea to at least thing about this stuff. I make it a habit NOT to try to make a decision right there, but rather really think about the comment, and THEN make a decision when I weigh all the options. We are in the process of thinking about:

  • Fuse vs Circuit Breakers vs Fuseable links
  • Essential Bus and Main Bus and Master Bus and Ground Bus
  • Wire access
  • Switches
  • Equipment I bought and can leave off (How many Hobbs meters does a plane need? How many timers?)
  • Cutting ALL the panel holes first time out.

We will soon be taking a break from all this and fit the wings. Wow! The Wings!  Silver Wings! Laughter Silvered Wings!

Controls are in place…

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We have the engine controls in place. We installed the three stooges today: Throttle, Mixture and Carb heat.  Actually the flap switch is installed too. Just like in a Skyhawk. Easy to access and use on approach.


RV-9A incompleted instrument panel

Panel Again

With the controls quadrant installed, we have run the control cables out through the firewall, and we hope they are long enough to reach the carburetor.

We are also continuing to install electric wires. we have the ANL fuse on the fire wall, we have the master and start relays in place. We built the battery to relay wire (4 awg), and the master relay to ANL fuse wiring. We have cut several holes in the right side panel like 2 –  12 volt power plugs,  the heater control cable, the defroster fan switch and the two dimmer control switches. We are still planning the left side. We are still not sure how the fuses and electrical controls will work.

We also installed the mount for the tablet to be installed on the right side.  This will be the backup EFIS and flight planner, including an AHRS insterface with bluetooth connection.

With electronics for tablets growing at the same rate as microcomputers did on the 90’s, we figure we will have double the performance and capability of the backup EFIS every 2 years.  We should plan on making that an easy upgrade.

Mount for Tablet in RV-9A instrument panel.

Tablet Mount




Members of the panel…

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Here is a look at the panel plan. Radios are in and here is what I’m looking at for flight information systems. Pretty cool huh?

RV-9A instrument panel design

Panel so far…

We started the installing tail today.

FYI: Next week-end (July 13th) is an aviation swap meet at Cable airport in SoCal. Free to get in and you get to see TONS of stuff. If you ever wondered what it takes to build an airplane, here is your chance to see the stuff it takes.

Wire, Wire, pants on fire!

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We took a big step today with wiring!  We finished (for now) the wire that comes from beyond the spar! This includes a bunch of electrics, and the four antennas (2 comm, 1 nav and a transponder)

This wire travels through the spar with pre- drilled holes and moves up the center channel of the floor. Wow. looks Great!

Wiring in RV-9A

Wiring in RV-9A

Here is what it looks like from the spar side.

Wiring Pass-thru

Wiring Pass-thru


Hold it right there!

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This week-end we added the parking brake control. It is located on the Left side (Pilot’s side) below the air vent. Simple pull / push operation with a push-button lock to prevent accidental operation. Easy to install and easy to use. Here is the control:

Parking Brake Control

Parking Brake Control

The cable goes to the Matco parking brake valve. The pilot simply steps on the brakes and pulls the knob out. Knob full in releases the brakes.  Here is the valve (looking down from the top):

Parking brake valve

Parking brake valve

We also finished installing the instrument panel frame and temporarily installed the panel sheets. Does this look cool or what:

Dave's blank instrument panel

Dave’s blank instrument panel

Panel Sub Structure

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We are getting close to the time we will need panel $tuff.  Yikes!

Here is the panel superstructure.

Panel Support Framework

Panel Support Framework

We got the Affordable Panels three part panel, so you can remove sections for maintenance. Really a good idea.  AP sells two designed, the 1./3, 1/3, 1/3 design where each of the three sections are centered (the kind I bought) and one where the left (pilot side) is larger. I’m not sure I bought the rigth version, because the center support rib lands smack dab in the middle of the radio stack, and will severely limit the space available for radios. I’ll have to work on that.  This would be fine for a VFR only aircraft, or one that has lots of remotely mounted radio stuff.

Here is a Hint I got from Keith, a fellow builder: Put platenuts on the bottoms of the panel support ribs to add adel clamps later if you need them for wiring support.

In my opinion, you can’t have too much support for wire.  I also plan on lots of holes with snap bushings.


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