Instrument Panel



I had a few things I felt were necessary for the panel: multi-function display, radio (with intercom) , transponder, compass, lift reserve indicator. The compass and LRI don't need any power to operate, so if all power fails I will be able to manage navigation and airspeeds. I decided I wanted a vertical panel fearing glare on the MFD display on a slanted shield. Because the panel is vertical, you lose even more workable panel area.  In one picture below you can see the Stratomaster Ultra sitting on top of the green crosspiece and how close it is to the top of the glareshield. That piece is riveted in place with the channel facing upward. If you flip it over with the channel facing down you can get another 1/2 inch of panel space to use.  That means remaking the side brackets to be lower...Hmmm, need to order some .093 sheet from Wicks.

Okay, so I got some more Al sheet to remake the brackets for the panel and flipped the cross tie channel to get enough clearance for the stratomaster. I am going to make the panel screw on, so I'm going to have small angles rivetted to the glareshield to accommodate nut plates for the panel mounting. I made a mock up of instruments that will fit on the panel from cardboard so I could see how they fit. I scribed some marks on the back of the panel blank to mark where the instruments will go. The only instrument I don't have at this point is the Icom A-210 radio. In the third picture below you see the panel blank mounted. The headphone jacks will go on the support brackets on each side- I have drawn in a couple circles on the left side bracket.

Below you see the panel blank drilled and clecoed into place with the glareshield support brackets. I did the test fit for the transponder which looked good at first until I put in the tank. There was not much clearance at all. The back of the tank is slightly concaved which I think will probably flatten out or bulge back a bit when it's full of fuel.

I finally decided to let the transponder stick out the front of the panel a half inch. I also decided to go with a different radio since the Icom A-210 is almost exactly as deep as the transponder, and I didn't want to screw with the clearance issues on the radio side. I am going with the MGL 3 1/8 round radio- it also has a built in intercom system and is only a few inches deep. That leaves plenty of room to install a mounting tray for the altitude encoder and future install of a AHRS unit if I upgrade to a newer MFD with attitude capabilities. The third shot below is of the tray for the altitude encoder.


Center controls-

I made a bracket for the throttle, trim, and mixture controls and for all the switches. These guys will mount below the instrument panel lower crosspiece and don't interfere with my legs.  Below you can see the center controls for trim, throttle, and mixture, and in the second shot you can see the layout for the switches. I used wrinkle finish black paint for the panel which I think looks nice.

(Almost) Finished Product


Here is a shot of the panel with everything installed and wired up. I had to make a different throttle lever that bent back so that it wouldn't block the view of the center display at full throttle. The VSI has been replaced with an altimeter since this picture was taken. I ended up going with the Icom A210 radio, because I got an excellent deal on a used one from another Sonex builder. (Thanks Peter!!)  I spent a lot of time screwing with the antenna connections on the back of the transponder and the radio. I couldn't use the standard 90 degree screw on connector because it would hit the tank.  I eventually found a 90 degree tray connector that fastens into the radio tray with a circlip and has a low profile on the back of the radio mounting tray.