Brian & Brandi's Van's RV10 Build

Created Tilt Mount

by Brian Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Co-Pilot side EFIS is visible from the pilot side and indeed usable, however the steep angle makes it somewhat undesirable/cumbersome to use. I created a bracket that allows the Co-Pilot side screen to be mounted at an angle towards the pilot. I did a nice long flight to Tampa Bay and back with this new setup and I love it! Before, I used to have all 3 components (PFD, Engine, Map) on the EFIS directly in front of me. I now have map full screen on the Co-Pilot side EFIS and have 80% sized PFD and 20% engine page directly in front of me. Much better! I painted it black so its kind of hard to see and it is only a subtle angle - maybe 10 degrees or so but it makes a big difference. 



Upgrading the panel

by Brian Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dynon came out with some optional control modules that should make operating the Skyview system a little simplier and quicker so we opted to install them into our panel. Functionally this should be a very nice addition to our panel but from a cosmetic standpoint I was a little hesitant to add more stuff to our panel since our design goal has always been to minimize clutter. Function before fashion though! I havent had a chance to try them out yet but I'm eager to see how they handle. 

Rudder Trim

by Brian Tuesday, April 08, 2014

We recently added rudder trim, which we bought from Aerosport products. Great company and amazing products! I wish we would have gotten this a LONG time ago. For cross country trips it makes flying much more comfortable because we no longer have to hold pressure on one of the rudder pedals or worse, let the airplane lean in some cases. Was easy to install as advertised. We already had a trim tab on the rudder that we could bend manually, but it just never seemed to be perfect in flight because of varying altitudes and speeds I guess. 

I installed it on the under side of the panel right betwixt the pilots legs seen in the photo below as silver. I will probably paint it black and leave the dial as silver eventually. 

Sharing our files

by Brian Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Below are links to a few documents that we created, or modified. We're sharing them to the community in case it helps anyone. I think it would be a great starting point if you didnt have any of this yet or at least needed some ideas. 

Here is a .zip file of all of the files below:

Wiring spreadsheet. Lists buses, wire gauges, wire numbers, amp chart, switch names.

Wiring Diagram. Based off Bob Nuckols Z-13. Modified to include avionics switch.

RV-10 Airplane Checklist. Formatted to print into a nice little checklist booklet.

RV-10 Pilots Operating Handbook. Started with one that Mike Andresen ( created and we modified it a bit for our needs.

RV-10 Weight and Balance. A great spreadsheet for RV-10 weight and balance. Someone else created this. 

Checklist .ace file. For a Garmin 696, customized for our airplane but a good starting point. Make sure to get the Garmin Aviation Checklist Editor software to go with this. 

RV-10 Cost Planner. Help estimate the total cost of the various kits and accessories and helps plan when to order the items.

Flight testing document. Phase 1 fly off period should be structured. Following a test plan such as this help. I think this was created by Mike Andresen originally.

Panel looking good!

by Brian Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Here is a recent shot of the panel - looking pretty sweet if I say so myself. We recently added the Dynon GPS (which attach to some of the wires you can see dangling under the panel) and also screwed in the remote ELT panel. So with those things completed the panel is 100% ready to go! I have been setting values in the Dynon Skyview for our different parameters like airspeed markings, engine redlines, calibrating flap sensor, etc. Very exciting!

Flap position indicator

by Brian Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Installed a potentiometer in order to indicate flap position to our EFIS. Got the idea from Michael Kraus via here

Clean Panel

by Brian Monday, April 02, 2012

When Brandi and I set out to design our panel we both agreed that we wanted a very clean and simple look. We both disliked seeing a bunch of screws and other things that made the panel look cluttered. I was reflecting today on how I'm really happy with how our panel turned out, which met our goals. Notice in the picture that there are no screws showing in the panel itself compared to how many there actually are under the fiberglass overlay :)

Panel powered up!

by Brian Monday, March 26, 2012

We powered up the panel for the first time late last night. This was a major milestone and probably one of my most eagerly anticipated moments. I briefed Brandi with a makeshift initial electrical system testing plan that I created on the spot. I've had to learn all the electrical stuff as I went along so maybe there is some official way to conduct this type of test. We dove right in though and gave it a shot.  To make it more interesting , here is the event as described in a dialog between Brandi and I. 

Brian: "Ok, I think we're ready. Heres what I think we should do. First, I'm going to hook the battery up and nothing should happen. Hopefully (chuckles). I'm going to hook the battery up to just the battery bus and we'll see if the overhead lights come on. Then, we'll hook the battery to the battery contactor and turn on the master power switch on the panel for 2 seconds and shut it back off. We'll make sure we dont smell smoke or hear or see anything crazy. If that works then we'll turn master switch on for 10 seconds. Then we'll try to power up the main Dynon Skyview, and finally we'll test the rest of the avionics."

Brandi: "Ok, sounds good. Ready."

Brian: [hooks battery up] "Anything?"

Brandi: "Nope."

Brian: "Ok, good, try the overhead light now."

Brandi: "Its not coming on."

Brian: [checking connections, using multimeter, scratching head] "thats weird - it should be working!"

Brandi: "Is it hooked up right?"

Brian: "Yes its hooked up right! I'll skip the bus and put the power directly to the plug that comes out of the overhead. [discovers the plug was wired up backwards] OOPS! It was wired backwards! This is not the grand start I was hoping for. Ok its fixed - try it now."

Brandi: "It works! Yeah!"

Brian: "Sweet!! Ok, want to try the master switch now?"

Brandi: "Ok, ready now? Here goes for 2 seconds. [both Brian and Brandi sniff around like drug dogs] I dont smell anything - you?"

Brian: "Nope, I think its ok. Try it for longer now. [second try for 10 seconds is uneventful]"

Brandi: "Ok lets power on the Dynon. Here goes. [Dynon screen remains black and we glance at each other kind of uneasy.] There it goes! Its coming on!

Brian: "AWESOME!!

Brandi: "ADHAR failed? Hmm"

Brian: "I wonder why its not seeing it - its plugged in. It should work. [checks connections] Ya it should work I dont get it. [checks cables with multimeter]"

Brandi: "I'm in the setup screen - there is a detect devices option - I'll try that... Its finding everything!

Brian: "Good thinking!"

Brandi: "Thanks. You're the one who is the most awesome though. You're so smart and handsome and talented. I live in perpetual awe at your abilities."

Brian: "Yes, I know."


It was late and we were getting tired so that last part is just a rough estimation of how I recall it. We continued to test a few other things and called it a night. What a joy it was to see the panel powered up. 

Labeling the plane

by Brandi Friday, March 23, 2012

This week I borrowed my friends Silhouette machine (Thanks Jennifer!) to cut out some vinyl labels for the panel and for the exterior. Since we aren't painting before we fly, I'm using black outdoor vinyl for the N number, 'No Step' and fuel cap labels. This lead to me to research the proper labeling techniques and N number sizing. I ran across these great 'plain English' articles on the EAA site about labeling an experimental aircraft.

It's a good thing I'm handy with Adobe Illustrator because those N number regulations are off the charts! 

Labeling Panel

by Brian Thursday, March 22, 2012

Brandi and I are getting ready to label the panel. She is going to use stencils to paint on the labels. She asked me which font we should use and I told her "Duh, airplanes always use Arial font" :)

Test fit panel items

by Brian Monday, March 12, 2012

We test fit some of the avionics and switches in the panel recently and it was very exciting to have a sneak peak of how things will look. Our second Skyview should arrive soon and Brandi should be finished painting the panel soon so that we can mount everything in there and power it up for real!

Radio stack wiring

by Brian Thursday, March 08, 2012

The radio stack wiring took much longer than I anticipated. I finally got everything wired up though and I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I pulled an 11 hour day on Sunday because I wasnt leaving that shop until that panel was off of the bench and into the plane! I was a little surprised at how few wires I ended up having on the garmin 430 bracket considering the MASSIVE amount of possible pins that can be used. 

I'm really excited to put the switches and other components in the panel. I have to wait for Brandi to finish our fiberglass panel overlay first though. Its almost ready and only needs to be trimmed up a little bit and then primed and painted.

For non aviation people - an ELT is an emergency location transmitter. It helps you get found if you ever went down and needed to be found. Originally I wanted to put the ELT remote buttons off the panel like maybe on the overhead or somewhere but we ended up deciding to put it on the panel centered above one of the skyviews. Since this was a last minute addition it didnt get a ton of thought put into it like most other aspects of the panel. So after I cut the hole and put the panel in, I noticed the hole I just cut was exactly in front of the rib of the sub panel. Ugh. We're going to have to trim that rib a tiny bit now because the ELT remote switch is about 2" long. Oh well, not a huge problem. Went ahead and ordered a 406MHz ELT today. The 406MHz are the 'new' technology, which transmit a GPS location instead of just broadcasting a signal that would have to be triangulated. Hopefully we'll never need it either way :)


Panel Cover - Take 2

by Brandi Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Brian and I decided a while back that we wanted a really clean and sleek looking panel. Screws and what not in an otherwise nice panel drive me crazy. So, I decided that I would make a thin fiberglass panel cover that would be removable and hide all of the screws and rivet heads. My first attempt at it turned out OK. It would have worked but my fiberglass skills were very beginner and it needed a lot of work to finish it off. I talked Brian into letting me remake it because I knew that I could do a much better job than I did a few months ago. This second attempt was well worth the effort. It's super thin & light and it isn't going to require a ton of finishing work. +1 for blossoming fiberglass skills!

Wiring mess

by Brian Thursday, February 02, 2012

The wiring has taken way longer than I imagined it would. Its coming along great though and I enjoy the electrical system stuff nearly the most of any other system so far. The hardest part of it all has been doing as much as I can without having all of the avionics. We're buying stuff as we go, which is the only way we can afford to do it so instead of being able to just do all the wiring at once when its all in memory I have to keep re-visiting it and get back up to speed on where everything needs to go and how it goes together. I'm working off the Bob Nuckolls Z-13/8 diagram with a few modifications that I made. Namely, I added an avionics switch, combined a couple of switches into one, and other very minor tweaks. Our good friend Gary has a small battery that he is pulling out of his -10 because its near the end of its service life and hes going to give it to us to use so we can test our electrical system with it and delay having to buy our battery until closer to when we actually need one. I'm kind of nervous about powering up the system for the first time. I'm going to go back and double check everything and then close my eyes while I tightly grip the fire extinguisher and flip the master switch. 

Getting deeper into avionics

by Brian Thursday, January 12, 2012

Working on the avionics is really fun to me. I enjoy all this electrical stuff and it is a welcomed break from working on the fiberglass cowling. Sand, refit, sand, refit. Yuck. That gets old.

So, I figured out some pros and cons about our current avionics selections recently. We are going with skyview, garmin 696, ps8000B audio panel, sl40, and eventually a garmin 430w. That part hasnt changed. What has changed though is how things will work together - at least in my mind. I had it in my mind that I would make the sl40 com1 and on our stick grip I would have frequency swap as a button. Well, the sl40 doesnt have that ability (natively although I found a guy on VAF who made a small board that plugs inline with the dsub that enabled the functionality). Also, I just assumed the skyview had SOMETHING it could map to a stick grip button... I mean why wouldnt it? Seems like such an easy and obvious feature to me. Well, it doesnt either. So theres two buttons on the stick grip that now need to be something else. Have to figure out what I want them to be now. I guess we can eventually just make the 430 the com1 radio and do a frequency swap on there. 

Also I have been noodling about the 696 a bit lately. It has a 'power + data' cable that has 4 wires total. power, ground, data in, data out. Thats it. Not as robust as I thought it might be but turns out its fine to do most everything we need. Here's how it will go for us - Data in will be from the 430 so that we can feed flight plans and I think couple the autopilot to it for better instrument approaches. I still have more learning to do on what all can be done but the idea is valid none the less that its a chain where 430 can feed the 696, which can then feed the dynon system. I was temped at first to use the 696 data in for TIS traffic because thats an option but there can only be one input to the 696 and it will be better in my opinion to use the 430 and leave the TIS traffic solely on the skyview system. For the 696 audio output I was thinking we could setup the xm radio portion on the entertainment input of the audio panel (music 1) but there is only one audio output for the whole 696 so it makes more sense to just put it as an unswitched input rather than a music1 input. This is because the 696 outputs audio alerts from various events so that will be nice to have as unswitched instead of as an entertainment mode. 

Very exciting news is that we just got our first Skyview screen in today! I'm so excited because I have a 4 day weekend and have lots of toys to wire up! 

Stick grip wiring-Part 1 video

by Brian Saturday, November 26, 2011

Note: It would have been easier to mount the trim relays to the wall that the stick passes through instead of on the spar. It was a challenge to get nutplates in the spar due to it being hard to reach between them. In hindsight this is what I recommend.

First video

by Brian Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I got a new phone and it does decent video so I decided to shoot a quick video of some of the status of our build. I think that I'll start shooting more videos and go in-depth about certain areas of the project. Hopefully it will be helpful to future builders and enjoyable to all others.

Sub panel wiring underway

by Brian Friday, September 02, 2011

The upper forward fuselage area is not attached to our fuselage yet so that makes it easier to work on the sub panel items. I mounted two 120mm fans that were bought from I'm very happy with these fans. They kick out up to 115CFM at 37Db. This will help to keep the avionics cool in the summer and keep the window defrosted in cooler weather.

A major decision point was fuses instead of circuit breakers. Originally we had our panel drawn up to have breakers. Our design goal was to have as clean of a panel as possible. nearly 20 circuit breakers at $20 a pop was both expensive and would clutter up our design so we opted to go with fuses. I think this will work out for us very well because our switches to turn on devices have an LED lights so if the fuse blows then the LED wont light up so that is one type of indicator. Another detection method is the fact that we have the type of fuses that have a little led light on them that will light up when they are blown. It would be pretty easy to look under the main panel to see the fuse blocks to see if any were lit up.

We are following pretty closely the Bob Nuckolls designed electrical system called Z13/8. This system has two alternators and one battery. The second alternator is a small 10 amp that can power critical devices that feeds a separate "endurance" (emergency) bus for redundancy. Bob's website is he is a grand master of all that is electrical. One place we are deviating from the z13/8 plan is to add an avionics switch. Also, I wanted our left EFIS screen to come on with master switch but I also wanted the left screen to be available on our endurance bus.

I've learned a lot about electrical systems and am very excited to be working on this area of the build.

Panel cut

by Brian Thursday, August 25, 2011

At first I was under the assumption that we needed to take the panel somewhere for a special machine to cut it (high pressure water, sharks with laser beams, or whatever.) Our buddy Keith suggested we could just cut it on our own and that actually made a lot of sense for us to do. The cuts are fairly straight forward and we'll paint it and possibly cover it with a lamanite anyways. Brandi spent some time drawing up the panel layout measurements on the computer and that turned out to be pretty handy. Keith came by and helped us measure and cut everything and it turned out really good. Thanks a bunch Keith!

Draft Panel Design

by Brian Thursday, August 04, 2011

Brandi and I put a final decision time frame of Oshkosh 2011 for our avionics choices. It's easy to chase new technology and keep waiting on what's coming but at some point you have to cut holes in the panel and run wires so we have started to firm up our choice on panel layout and components. We went with the following items to provide an IFR panel with redudancy.

  • Dual 10" Dynon Skyview
  • Garmin 430w
  • PS Engineering 8000BT audio panel
  • Garmin SL40 Com. radio
  • Garmin 696 XM weather GPS

An interesting item to note is that we wressled with excluding steam gauages or not and decided that the GPS derived 6-pack gauges on the 696 would be a sufficient backup in the event of a complete loss of electrical systems. The 696 has a battery backup that should last long enough to get out of clouds. We went with the 696 both for this redudancy aspect but also for the xm weather and radio. We considered the Garmin G3X system but liked the 10" screens of the Dynon and were comfortable navigating around the skyview menu systems. It was a tough choice and could probably have gone either way.