Panel Ideas

One thing I've decided already is that I want an electric panel.  Vacuum sucks, and it's terribly unreliable.  I think  money is better spent introducing redundancy in the form of electric backups rather than a heavy vacuum system with moving parts that's essentially guaranteed to fail.  I've experienced busted vacuum powered gauges in two planes, and this is before I even hit 80 hours.

I won't be buying instruments until the end.  I want to let prices go down and technology improve as much as possible.  It's amazing what's come out in the last couple years, who knows what's coming next?

I have a couple of thoughts on what kind of panel I might put together. 

Option Description
Super Cheap
Maybe $500-600
I build a daytime VFR-only panel that has the bare minimums.  GOOSE A CAT doesn't apply to experimentals, so I could put as little as I wanted on.  I could use a handheld radio, scavenge an airspeed indicator and an altimeter.  Add oil and water temperature gauges so I can figure out cooling, and an amp meter to detect alternator problems.  Oh, and a tachometer of course.
Less cheap
Add a panel mounted com, whatever is available cheapest.  Oil pressure, Position/anti-collision lights and an attitude indicator and I should be able to do limited night VFR.
Happy minimum
Add a transponder.  I really don't want to fly without a transponder, but I could probably go for a while without one if I didn't want to travel anywhere interesting.   ...which I do.
Super Minimum IFR
$6,000 maybe?
Add a slip indicator and I technically meet minimum IFR standards, I think.  Of course, I'm guessing that to do anything good, I'd need to be able to file /R, and for that, I'd want to make sure that my panel com could drive a VOR, and I'd have to add the VOR display.  This is uncertain territory for me, I'm sure I'll learn this all when I get my instrument ticket.  As far as I can tell, having equipment above the minimums is all about reducing pilot workload (not to mention the added safety).
Instead of buying piecemeal instruments, I could instead buy something like the Blue Mountain Avionics EFIS/Sport or something from Dynon that serves as a gyro, (in the case of Blue Mountain) a moving map GPS, engine gauges, etc.  Add a com and transponder, and I could have a good night VFR/minimum IFR setup.

These are just some basic ranges, and it's possible I'm making excitingly improper assumptions about required equipment and prices.  After this, I came up with another option for an IFR panel that could cost as little as $10,000 and provide good safety margins.

First IFR Panel Idea
Here's my first stab at a panel as of 1/22/06.  We'll all laugh later when I actually build, but here we go. This is middle to upper range in cost, but seems to be a good way to get an IFR panel without spending more than the airframe cost me. I split the panel into three sections: Immediate flying, then navigation, then finally engine monitoring.

Here's the breakdown:

2006 blue sky prices
$3500ish for used altimeter, airspeed, the EFIS/Lite, card compass with remote sensor, VGA LCD.
$7000ish for the power panel, Garmin, audio panel, transponder, and clock.
$2000ish for engine EFIS
$500 for computer w/ DC-DC power supply
$13,000 for an IFR panel

If I can do the engine EFIS in the computer, then we're down to $11,000. I think traffic aware transponders will keep dropping, as well as the Garmin, so in the end, the panel might cost as little as $10,000.

Cozy Page - Ben Hallert - - Progress: 4 hours - 0% of estimated 2700 hours construction. - Last updated 4/23/06
All text and original photographs copyright Ben Hallert except where otherwise noted.  Cozy Mk IV is a registered design of Aircraft Spruce and the author makes no claim otherwise.