Home

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightingale

 

 

 

 

Wing Tasks

Wing Tasks

February 23, 2021 – With the wings on, I started doing various tasks that need to be done while the wings can still come off.

Fuel Tank Attach

After quick verification that the wings were in the correct position from the previous drilling 5 years ago, I drilled the fuel tank attach brackets. This was a simple matter of using a drill bushing to center the hole in the fuselage bracket slot.

When the wings come back off, I’ll install the nutplates for the attach bolts.

Fuel Lines

The next step is the fuel line connections. These are the vent lines and the main fuel feeds from the tanks. The right tank is routed differently because I have a flop tube installed there. The main fuel connection from the left side is a straight shot into the fuselage.

Wing/Fuselage Fairings

There are fairings all the way around the wing root that enclose the gaps you see in the above pictures.

There is a short section underneath where the fuselage skin is attached to the wing skin on each side. I used a hole-finder to start these holes, then enlarged the holes up to the correct size for the screws.

The next part is the large wrap-around panel that wraps around the leading edges of the wings.

These panels have pre-punched holes that match open holes in the wings. Holes do need to be match-drilled to the skins of the fuel tanks.

Time: 6:00

Wings On, Take 2…

Wings On, Take 2…

February 10, 2021 – Back in April of 2016, we set the wings and drilled the aft spar.

Today, we installed them temporarily so I could do some more work. Thanks to Ken, Marvin and Larry for coming out on this COLD day (for Dallas).

I have to drill the fuel tank bracket, drill for the nutplates and screws where the fuselage skin attaches to the wings, and I’ll get my fuel lines set up. After that, the wings will come off; I’ll do the nutplates, then the wings should go back on for good…

Time: 3:00

Fixed #2 Com

Fixed #2 Com

February 10, 2021 – I fixed my #2 com control head!

I replaced a solder sleeve under the panel where I had power running from the VPX to 3 wires, 2 of which went to the #2 com radio, and one went to the control head in the panel.

Since the hangar was empty, I rolled it outside so I could get a GPS fix. It worked great!

I turned the airplane roughly north and the HSI followed suit. The map even showed some traffic!

Sounds simple, but I’m amazed I wired this and it works!

Time: 4:00

No Smoke!!!

No Smoke!!!

February 3, 2021 – Well, I fired up (poor choice of words) the panel using my power supply. No pops, sizzles, smoke or fire.

It also was pretty underwhelming, because only the left screen turned on. I tried the dimmer for a lit rocker switch, and it worked. The glareshield fans also worked. So I call it a win. I know there are several things to do to get everything up and running.

I needed to get into the VPX and get it set up. The interface external to the VPX is ethernet. Well, my laptop has no ethernet port, so I used an alternate method suggested by Vertical Power. I used a wireless router.

Once that was complete, I looked over at the panel and saw this:

The right screen came up!

I downloaded the latest software from Dynon (as of January 27) and installed it on both screens.

I then went in to system setup and set up the serial ports and scanned for devices on the Skyview Network.

The issue I then had was that the screens weren’t talking to each other. You can “daisy-chain” the devices on the network, which I had. But it seemed evident that maybe I needed to directly connect the screens to each other. So I ordered a 3-foot Skyview Network cable. When I got it, I rearranged the cables between devices. It worked!

I decided to prepare the wings for installation, so I could get ALL the wiring connected and do all the panel setup maybe at one time.

Pitot Tube and Heater

I started on the pitot tube. I was given a brand-new Dynon heated tube. I had seen online where people mounted the heat controller to the wing access panel.

I took the tube out and realized I didn’t have any of the AN hardware I needed to connect the tube to the pitot and AOA lines. I visited a local avionics shop and got most of what I needed from there. In the meantime, I drilled the holes to attach the tube into the mast. I already had holes in the mast from a long time ago, so I transferred these hole locations to the new tube. Drilled with a #36 bit and tapped for a #6 screw.

I made a bracket to support the plastic pitot and AOA lines and keep them away from the aileron bellcrank.

I’m on hold for the parts I’m still missing, so I moved on to the autopilot roll servo in the right wing.

Autopilot Roll Servo

Here’s the right wing aileron bellcrank without the servo:

The servo bracket replaces the small mounting angle there in the center of the picture. You have to take the bellcrank partly apart, because it has to be drilled. This is where the servo control rod attaches.

I installed the new bracket, and then bolted the servo in place.

The control rod is supposed to be 5 inches long.

Here’s everything installed.

Now it’s time for wiring. I installed the DB9 connectors on the servo and the harness, then ran the harness through to the wing root. I had to do this twice because I had to avoid contact with the aileron bellcrank travel.

For right now, I secured the connection using the threaded bolt holes in the servo itself. This will place the connection on the aft side of the servo when it is on the airplane. The harness runs between the arms of the bellcrank and out through the wing ribs.

Time: 11:45

Panel Progress

Panel Progress

January 24, 2021 – I’m getting dangerously close to having an airplane here…

I made a harness for the lights in my AML34 rocker switches. I decided to make one unified harness with one power and ground from the dimmer.

Here’s the bulbs in the switches:

Turned out that I needed to tweak the contacts in the switches a little bit to tighten the connections for the bulbs.

Here’s the harness I made with the dimmer.

…and the end result:

Here’s another photo of the mass of wires behind the panel, but I know that there is progress here.

I tried to run the ground wires for these front panel switches back to my firewall ground, but things are kind of tight and I really didn’t want to add to the spaghetti that was already there, so I made a local ground on the bulkhead forward of the panel. Not the most attractive, but it definitely works. These switches all provide grounds for the VPX, so there is no load on them.

After this I decided there was not much keeping me from getting ready to put everything in place and prepare to put power on, so I started installing panel items from the bottom up, keeping the big 10″ holes for access.

And here we are today… I have to tweak a few things and change a couple of connections for the Skyview network before I put power on. I also didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to even try putting power to it on that day. 🙂

Time: 22:00

More Avionics…

More Avionics…

January 11, 2021 – I have a lot of time built up in my time log, but not a lot of pictures to show for it…

I’m connecting wires one at a time, and they are slowly disappearing, so I’m making progress. A couple of high (or maybe low) points…

Skyview Network

I ran a 15′ Skyview network cable from the hub behind the baggage compartment up to the front. yay…very comfortable… I also made the harness for the pitch autopilot servo.

Alternate Air Cable

I ran the alternate air cable through the firewall straight through to where it will be on the panel. I decided to make a bracket that mounts to the bottom edge of the panel. This way I can remove the panel without removing the cable. The bracket is not shown in these photos.

Fuel Pump Shroud

I am in the middle of figuring out my interior, and I wasn’t sure about putting carpet over it vs. paint. So I took a break from wiring and played with the vinyl wrap I’m going to use on my panel. Wow! I think this will work! It has its issues, but on the floor nobody will see the flaws. If it doesn’t stand up to the abuse I’ll do something else in a year or three.

Panel Cutting and Nutplates

I cut the panel for switches.

I also drilled and installed the nutplates for the Dynon stuff.

Wiring

I populated the J1 and J2 connectors for the VPX. These are primarily for switches and things like pitch trim position…

I connected the serial connections for the HDX screens. This proved to be a learning experience. The wire pairs are different colors but have matching stripes. What escaped my attention was that I had to connect TX from the screens to RX for the component. I hooked up TX to TX and RX to RX. When I saw the notes about how to connect them correctly, I panicked and took them apart. What I didn’t realize was that it appeared that Dynon color coded the wires to make it dummy-proof. So I had it right the first time. GPS was easy…

I’ve put the panel back in place to start wiring for the switches…

In other news, I have placed a deposit with Classic Aero for my seats. I haven’t picked colors yet, but I had to get on the calendar. My due date is August 11.

Time: 51:00

Another Step to the Dream…

In August 2019 I took another step on this journey. I finally started my PPL. Flying a Sundowner and a Sport out of Aerocountry (T31). UPDATE: I soloed on March 20, 2020!

Life Gets in the Way…

I lost my best riveter. My bride Lenora had been struggling with dementia since 2011.  On October 8, 2017, she passed away. She helped rivet most of my fuel tanks. One day, I just needed to shoot two rows to finish one tank. She quickly learned how to use the gun. After we finished those 12 or so rivets, I said that we were done, and she replied “You sure? There’s nothing else we can do?” So I gathered the parts for the other tank and we shot most of it over the next couple of days. I’ll just say she was “cautiously supportive” of the project, but she came out and helped when I needed an extra hand, and towards the end she just sat out in the garage with me.

 

UPDATE— Life continues… I met an amazing woman named Julie and married her on March 30, 2019. She is excited about this project; in fact her dad restored an airplane in his garage, and there’s a lot of aviation history in her family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made Google Earth!

April 29, 2016 was the day we drilled the wings in the driveway, and we were spied upon!

The Birth of an Airplane

November 26, 2009 – I’ve dreamed for a long time about building an airplane, and the RV family of airplanes has been at the top of my list. I got an opportunity to buy a tail kit from a friend at work. The deal was too good to pass up. Along with the kit I got some tooling: a c-frame dimpler, hand dimplers, clecos, that kind of thing.

I brought the tail kit home from work on Thanksgiving morning, 2009.

Some of the work was done on the tail kit. I found that pretty much all of the drilling and dimpling was done, so for the tail, it was a case of dry-assembling the sections, making sure everything was right, and then painting and riveting.

 

 

What’s an RV?

An RV-7 is a two-seat, all metal homebuilt aircraft. The kit is manufactured by Van’s Aircraft in Aurora, OR.

The airplane is available with either conventional (tailwheel) or tricycle (nosewheel) landing gear. That is a decision I will have to make later.

Depending on the engine that is installed, the RV-7 will economically cruise at 165+ mph, or will approach a top speed of roughly 200 mph, with a range of between 750-1000 miles.

You’re building this thing?

Sure. With a little training and familiarity with the required building techniques, anybody can build this airplane.

I’ll be building in the garage at home. Most of the airplane can be completed there, until the wings are ready to be attached. At that point, the airplane will need to be transported to an airport, since the wingspan is about 25 feet.

The airplane is a kit that is available in portions. You can buy the kit a portion at a time, or you can buy the whole thing all at once. Most people start with the tail kit, since the tail is easier, and the building process gets a little more complex as you move on through the wings and the fuselage. You also learn the basics for the RV kits when doing the tail.

N Number

Dec. 30, 2009 – Well, I found an N number that could work for me. I reserved it today, so we’ll see what happens. I’ll keep you posted.

Jan. 8, 2010 – N174PM! I looked again on the FAA site for reserving N numbers, and it’s there and reserved! I have the N Number N174PM!


What’s an N Number?

An N number is basically the registration number for the airplane that’s on file with the FAA. It’s pretty much like the license plate on your car. You can take what the FAA assigns you, or you can try to get a specific number. The N number is painted on the airplane in a prominent location and large enough so that it can be easily read.

N174PM

My N number is one I searched for. If you looked at it closely, you might figure it out.

1 (one) 7 (RV-7) 4 (for) PM (Pete Miller)

Get it?

My first RV ride!

March 11, 2010 – Well, I finally got a ride in an RV. RV-7A N156DE is owned by Stewart Cole out of Eagle’s Nest (2TS6) in Midlothian. We flew to Stephenville (KSEP) for lunch. I believe my first words after takeoff were “Holy Crap”, or something like that. This RV is the same model that I’m building, and it’s a beautiful airplane.

We had a little headwind going west, so we were indicating 147Kts on the GPS. At 5500′ coming home, we were showing 180Kts! That’s 207 mph!

Here’s a couple of pictures of the airplane without the fat guy in front with the stupid RV grin on his face…