Panel Planning - The Agony of Perfectionism!
*** This page is about to undergo a major revision...come back often! (Sorry it's taking so long)
When faced with a hard decision, sometimes you just have to go with
So, it's a Chelton
screen system as pictured below.
Avionics were from SteinAir,
Stark Avionics. You
won't find a better pair of places to buy your goodies.
SteinAir will give you straight talk about your panel choices
and does panel building, wiring, and assembly for a reasonable fee.
Click the logo above to go to their website.
Go to the latest Panel Page
My Panel at OSH 2005 - Photos Here
needed to meet these requirements in order to satisfy me:
- A FULL IFR platform that
includes redundancy in most systems
- A Split electrical bus ("essential bus") to provide an easy
way to go to minimum
- A 2nd anternator and *small* battery for redundant power
on electronic ignition. (Lightspeed Plasma III)
- A moving-map GPS approved for Enroute
and Terminal operations
legally fly most all approaches, including WAAS
- A 2 axis autopilot with Altitude Hold capability, that can
GPS, HDG, ILS+Glideslope, WAAS Vnav slope, and does GPSS
- Dual COM's and preferrably dual NAV's. (One NAV would
be OK if necessary)
- A secondary GPS, even if it's just a good handheld (The
Chelton provides an internal WAAS receiver as well as the GNS480)
- A Multi-Function Display (MFD) capable of Doppler Weather Radar and
TAF/METAR Datalinks and Traffic
- Redundant Attitude, Airspeed, and Altitude, and Heading
Indicators...at low cost
- 5 place intercom with split-com function so Pilot and
transmit on separate radios **1 place is for video cam
- Audio inputs for Stereo Music, DVD players, and Cell
phones, with the ability to have separate music Front and Rear
I knew up front that this would cost upwards of 50-55K...yes, just
the panel, not the plane. I did find it very hard to
choose the hardware. Blue Mountain
great graphics with the Sport and EFIS One units, but their autopilot
can't track a GPS approach from a
certified GPS. This is just completely stupid. I can't
believe the response I got when I asked about this...the lady at OSH
2004 said "Why
would you want to do that?", as if it would be crazy to let your GPS
approach be flown by the autopilot. TruTrak Flight Systems
Scorcerer autopilot looked like just the ticket, but after I
found out about the Chelton
and Grand Rapids
became aware that if you buy one of them, you will greatly enhance the
capabilities of the Digiflight II VSGV...enabling it to not only track
a NAV signal, but also fly an approach such as a WAAS approach
including vertical guidance down the slope. It can also fly the
ILS Glideslope, and has Altitude Preselect capability (*select
altitude, fly to it, and level off). It will also have Altitude
Preselect added natively very soon. All of these capabilities are
due to the fact that the DFIIVSGV is a digital autopilot, and the GRT
or Chelton system is acting as the Analog to Digital interface between
your NAV/ILS receiver, and the Autopilot.
I went with the Garmin GNS480
because it was only one of 2 that can provide the legal WAAS glideslope
approaches. The other unit that can do this is the FreeFlight GPS
which is a
remote-mount GPS receiver for much less money than the GNS480.
It's a great option for a more compact panel or those on a
budge...nice too because you can add it later.
The MX-20 MFD
the GNS480 real well, but I prefer the Avidyne EX-500's
screen. Those 2 units are currently duking it out adding
features, but both are very expensive in different ways, to get things
like Weather and Traffic info on them. As for Weather, I
absolutely wanted weather, including Radar imagery, and TAF/METAR Data.
The XM radio
weather WX WORX
now works with
or the MX-20, but
either route will cost you at least $4000-5000 in receiver
hardware....if you go with Grand Rapids, you can do XM weather on the
Grand Rapids equipment
for only $1500, but it's not as "pretty". What got me
though, was that Chelton is currently offering a special until the end
of July 2005 where if you buy the 2 Screen Chelton system, you can get
a WSI AV100 Weather receiver for FREE to add to your Chelton system.
This is a great bargain as it sells for $3495 normally. You
can get weather cheaper on many handhelds or PC's, but for true
integration into your flight deck, this option is about as good as it
gets. I found that WSI and XM weather are actually very
comparable in what they offer, and in cost.
Both have basically identical costs. I don't see that there
is a major functionality difference either way. Given identical
costs, I'd have probably chosen XM, but I just can't beat "Free".
Picking out this equipment is very stressful, and can make you crazy.
You'll find out that you can pick all your instruments, but when
you check the out thoroughly with people, you'll find that depending on
your choices, you don't get all the functionality you're looking for.
In addition, due to Van's "minimalist" attitude about even their
X/C Cruiser the RV-10, you just don't get the panel real-estate you
need to buy tons of instruments. This is much of what led me to
the Chelton System. One other hot benefit is that the 3rd screen
can be your EIS, MAP/HSI, Weather, Traffic, or Attitude display for the
Co-pilot. So if you plan to let others fly right-seat, you'll
greatly appreciate an integrated 3rd display. This was my main
reason for NOT going with the Advanced Flight
AF-2500 (was ACS2002) They have arguably the nicest
EIS display out there, but it isn't currently as integrated as it could
be. In addition, the GRT EIS 6000 interfaces to both the Grand
Rapids and Chelton systems (you order a different part number with the
Chelton, but it's basically the same unit) and will allow you to have
your 3rd multifunction screen at a possible overall lower cost.
Again, you have to be very careful with your product selection if
you want to stay on-budget, and still have all the functionality you
can possibly get.
Regarding Traffic, probably the most common approach right now is to
purchase the Garmin GTX-330
that includes Mode S Support. This provides you with traffic
display in areas that are basically served well by in-flight ATC radar
in high-volume terminal areas...where you need it the most. Be aware
that when you want to interface an AIRINC 429 device like the GNS480 or
GTX-330 to the Chelton System (not sure about the GRT), you need an
AIRINC 429 to RS232 converter. It's not the cheapest thing in the
world, but it's the way to eek out your greatest functionality.
** All Manufacturer related info was as received during my
shopping period....some things may have changed since.
Here's a shot of Chelton's on-screen
weather. (From some other people's panels on the internet...not
Here's a good alternative to Van's small metal panel. A
fiberglass replacement panel option available for the RV-10.
for more information on the Avionics Systems Panel.
Aerocraft RV-10 panel.
It's a fiberglass Molded panel and console that looks very professional.
Note: Numerous RV-10 people are currently becoming infuriated at
the delayed deliveries of their Aerocraft Panels. If you go this
you'll get an excellent panel, but it may reuqire a year or more
leadtime from the time of order. Prepare yourself for the
frustration, and of course...caveat emptor! It is a fantastic
product, but if the service matters to you, look closely at the
alternatives before you plunk down your deposit.
Click the photo for
a link to more panel pics of this panel.