Detail View of Pilot's Upper Panel
First and foremost, I wanted to get the "Big 6" primary flight
instruments directly above and centered on the yoke vs. the normal
Cessna position skewed to the left. This required adding an
extra column of instruments, and moving the radio stacks toward the
right. Particular attention was made to place instruments
requiring frequent adjustment on the right side of the pilot's panel (I
am right handed). Avion kept wanting to place the EDM 711
engine monitor and/or ST-360 altitude pre-select on the left side, but I
insisted on this layout, and I think it was the correct choice.
The vacuum AI was placed on the left side of the panel, but that only
requires infrequent adjustment. Similarly the four 2.25"
gauges on the lower left (Aerospace Logic engine instruments and Davtron
digital clock/OAT) require relatively few (if any) adjustments.
All of the post lights have been removed, and the instruments now use
UMA light rings. The low vacuum warning light is located directly
next to the vacuum attitude indicator giving a very visible warning of a vacuum failure.
Similarly, the position of the EDM 711 provides highly visible flashing
indications of any engine temperature or fuel problems. The
primary reason to include the Aerospace Logic engine gauges is to give
visual "flashing" warnings of any out-of-limit conditions.
If I was doing this over, I would have chosen the mid-continent electric
AI instead of the RC Allen, but since it is a standard instrument, if
it ever needs replacement, then I will switch vendors.
The Antenna/PWR connectors are included to allow my handheld ICOM A5
emergency radio to be connected to a dedicated comm antenna located on
the bottom of the aircraft, and also to be connected to (and charged
from) the aircraft power. A pocket has been included on the side
panel to hold the radio.
Detail View of Co-Pilot's Upper Panel
This panel houses the secondary radio stack with the backup GNS 530 and the
mode-S transponder. I would have preferred to have the transponder on
the main radio stack, but it just would not fit after I added the MX-20 MFD.
After sitting in my plane, and doing practice "reaches", I decided this was
an acceptable position. The PCD-7100-P was replaced late in the
design with a PXE-7300 IFE system which also includes AM/FM radio as well as
the CD/MP3 player and auxiliary inputs for my iPod. It also has an
optional Sirius satellite radio option which I did not install.
The auxiliary input is located on the co-pilot lower panel... as well as a
2nd input located inside the glove box. There is a separate aux
audio input located in the rear of the aircraft (2nd row of seats) so that
those passengers can play their own music from a portable device if desired.
This may be helpful if children are in the back. The "Alternate Static
Air" was moved from the old style "petcock" located below the panel, to a
more modern push/pull design. The two 2.25" gauges are for the
Hobbs meter, and the vacuum gauge. I really preferred to have
the vacuum gauge on the pilot's side of the panel, but we ran out of space.
I felt this was acceptable since there is only one instrument using the
vacuum source (AI), and it has a low vacuum warning flag, low vacuum warning light, and finally, it is
only backup for the primary electric AI.
Detail View of Pilot's Lower Panel
I spent a lot of time making sure this panel met my needs.
The two front seats, and two middle seats all have wired in Bose connectors which connect, and power the headsets. I also included a cell
phone interface which allows calls to be made from within the aircraft
using the normal headsets. I added a 2nd avionics master
switch/breaker to remove that single point of failure. The 2nd switch
is equipped with an emergency flip-up cover. The
4 dimmers allow the UMA lighting of all instruments to be adjusted, as
well as separate controls for the radio lights, ceiling mounted console
lights, and the glare-shield mounted flood lights. I
designed the switch layout to allow the most critical switches to be
operated by feel alone. The pitot heat is the left most
switch so that can be turned on easily upon entry into IMC.
After a lot of trial and error, I decided to move the taxi/landing light
switches to a separate row... which allows them, as well as the
strobe/pulse lights to operated by feel alone. All four are
often manipulated during a critical phase of flight, and the are all
positioned to allow use while the left hand is also on the throttle.
Detail View of Center Lower Panel
This diagrams shows how the Strobe, Pulse, Taxi, and Landing light switches
can all be operated "by feel" while simultaneously operating the throttle.
It is very common for me to use pulse lighting in the airport environment,
and then switch to full lighting (Taxi/Landing) during short final.
I can now accomplish this without looking at the lower panel, and without
removing my hand from the throttle.
Detail View of Co-Pilot's Lower Panel
This panel includes the separate avionics bus. All circuit
breakers are push/pull design. The "music in" can be used to
connect the iPod if we want a wider assortment of music, or the portable
device can also be connected through a connector which is in located in the
glove box, and wired in parallel.
Full Instrument Panel Design from Avion
This is the full panel. Overall, I am quite satisfied in the
design, and I think it represents a huge improvement over the original
design. One major
decision that I needed to make was the make/model of the main avionics
package. I was originally torn between using a Garmin
480/MX-20 vs a dual Garmin 530 with no separate MDF. After a lot
of thought, I decided that I wanted the dual 530s... and they were
planned to be above each other in the single avionics stack. The
main reason I wanted 530's over a 480 was cross-feed integration with my
handheld (Garmin 296), and also the larger glass area of the 530.
The 480 has the major advantage of immediate WAAS capability, but that
should be available as an upgrade on the 530's very soon.
The 480 also has some extra features not included in the 530... such as
a database of the victor airway system. They do not make it easy to make
a choice... and both are great solutions. I decided to focus on
the "end result" and decided that if I went with the 480, I would have the "small glass"
forever, I have to admit that I had a lot of anxiety performing an
upgrade of this magnitude, and not including a MX-20, which was an instrument
that I had desired for a long time. Finally, I decided to move to
the full Avion panel, and include a 2nd avionics rack which allowed me
to keep both 530's, and add the MX-20. In retrospect, I
should probably have considered an Avidyne as an alternative to the
MX-20... but I think I would have probably chosen the MX-20 anyway given
the long history of this MFD. I ordered it with the
Chartview option, WSI weather, and integration with the TIS traffic
system offered by the GTX 330.