Garmin GTN Installation Level of Difficulty

bigmo

Filing Flight Plan
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bigmo
Gauging folks here that do this for a living - or have experience installing a Garmin GTN in an "all Garmin" panel. My S-LSA Tecnam is all Garmin (twin G3X Touch, Garmin autopilot, com, nav, audio panel, etc.). I have the legal docs I need from the manufacturer for the installation, which can be performed in total by an A&P. My A&P, a great guy, is more than willing to give it a shot - but he's not done one before. I'm handy, technically a EE - but not by trade. I like a challenge.

While doing the homework, the Garmin crew at G3Xpert have been literally AMAZING. They sent me all the proper install docs for the G3X Touch (which has the install for the GAD29 interface), the GPS175 install guide, and all the logical wiring diagrams. Aside from building the pinouts with the Garmin connector kits, it's all "plug and play" according to Garmin.

Big unknowns for me right now are the actual panel cutting - ie do we need to remove EVERYTHING from the panel and then reinstall?

I have only one real install quote from a trusted shop. Frankly, normal avionics shops either a) don't like small jobs, b) are backed up for 12-18 months, or c) quote a literal crazy amount.

My one real quote is $2500 for the install. Not terrible. The downside is that it's a 2.5 hour flight away, a week leaving the plane, and two commercial flights for me to get back home.

I have yet to reach out to Midwest Panel Builders. I was going to see if they'd quote me a price to build all the connectors so I have "pro" work - then it REALLY is plug & play (besides the physical panel stuff).

FWIW, the install is a single Garmin GPS175 connected to the GAD29 ARINC interface, then to the G3X Touch.

Thoughts? Crazy? Smart? A little of both?

PS - I'd LOVE any recs of traveling/mobile, or independent side-hustle guys anywhere in the midwest.
 
The question is can you debug any problems that arise?

Wiring is only half of it, then there’s the configuration, it is not plug and play.
 
Either Approach Fast Stack and/or Ron Nelson (https://www.nelsonaviationfl.com/) can build you a harness. I'd use them, which leaves you with a much easier task list of just doing the physical install, running the wires, and likely making only a handful of wire terminations yourself.

If you're really, really good with a dremel (and a little brave), there is no reason you can't cut the panel in place. But, it's going to much easier, cleaner and probably more accurate to remove it and have it CNC cut. Or, more likely, just have an entirely new metal panel laid out and cut. You should be able to have that done for well under $1k.

Config isn't that hard if you can read/follow the install manual.
 
Either Approach Fast Stack and/or Ron Nelson (https://www.nelsonaviationfl.com/) can build you a harness. I'd use them, which leaves you with a much easier task list of just doing the physical install, running the wires, and likely making only a handful of wire terminations yourself.

If you're really, really good with a dremel (and a little brave), there is no reason you can't cut the panel in place. But, it's going to much easier, cleaner and probably more accurate to remove it and have it CNC cut. Or, more likely, just have an entirely new metal panel laid out and cut. You should be able to have that done for well under $1k.

Config isn't that hard if you can read/follow the install manual.
I have found during the 6 years I have had my garmin panel, that after installation support is the most important thing for me.
The initial install was not cheap, but it was fast, local and has lasted with no installation problems and included all updates.
The firmware and other updates are numerous and necessary from my experience. My dealer has been there since for me and has never charged for updates or service bulletins, they do them while I wait and watch. They are 10 minute flight away. I went over there in my truck and took pictures, asked questions during the install. Local is so nice.

Like Benjamin Franklin says the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten?
 
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Cutting a panel in the plane makes a mess, but I’ve done it. You just have to be thorough about making sure the dust and chips are prevented from getting in/on stuff that would be harmed.

Dremel tools, oscillating tools, a drill to create starting points and corner radiuses, and ( if you have access) a jigsaw are the go-to tools, followed by files to clean things up.

As far as the harnesses go, I recommend having a pro shop make them. Their work is beautiful and generally gets bench tested before shipping. It isn’t that expensive once you consider the cost of the specialty tools you’ll need plus the amazing expenses you can rack up with sequential parts re-orders when you need more solder sleeves or connectors. Those $3 parts cost $20 ea when you only order one and have to pay shipping. Do that a few times and it adds up in time and money.

Another poster recommended Approach Fast Stack for harnesses. They have done a good job for me and their support was very good as well.
 
Anyone can do this stuff....but it will take you two to three times longer....and you may have to "redo" something.

If all that is ok...then go for it.

You'll have a ton of time reading installation manuals and tracing out wiring diagrams to determine how things get traced out....but it's not rocket science. If you're diligent and take your time....it can be done.

I've done a GTX330ES transponder and that required connections to the Altitude encoder, GNS530W and auto panel. I probably had 10-20 hrs into it....the install was the easy part....pinning and wiring and the configuration took some time.

I labeled each wire as I de-pinned the old connections....then had a matrix for the new pins and connectors....connections.
 
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I say go for it. I've installed the GPS175 (and I'm an ME not an EE!). Really only a handful of wires. Read the docs, all you need to know is in there.

C.
 
Took me forever to crack the correct ADS-B settings on the GTN --> GTX3X5 combination. About 2 whole days. The GTX manual was really new and it sucked.
 
I'm installing a GTN 650, PMA6000B and GI-106A in our Cherokee last tow weeks of March during the annual.
I wired everything up my self with my high school students. They will be performing the annual and the install of the avionics during their spring break.
Helps that I'm the A&P, IA and CFI for the school. I will fly with the 4 students I have in flight training to test everything out.
 

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