RV panels are terrible

Discussion in 'Home Builders and Sport Pilots' started by Tmpendergrass, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. fly4usa

    fly4usa Filing Flight Plan

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    This is an old thread. My search of panel information about my current RV-7 project brought me here. I have something to add. I agree with all the post explaining experimental panels to OP. By title, OP says RV panels are terrible (and Glasair panels are better). OK I'll bite. I built a IFR RV-4, been around kit expermental planes, Glasair, RV's since late 80's, before they were as popular as they are now. Van had three models, now has 6 more models and 10,000 RV's flying. I lived in Seattle area where the original Glasair was, at Arlington WA airport. Van's Aircraft was just down the road at the time, near Hillsborough OR. One thing you must understand, Richard Vangrunsven the founder was frugal.

    Stoddard Hamilton Glasair I and II was a more expensive kits, designed for go fast cross country VFR or IFR, which would needed a more elaborate panel for that mission. BTW Glasair II and III kits have not been available for a long time, and assets sold off late last year to support the existing 2000 or so legacy Glasair's.

    RV's originally are about sport aerobatic, short field, fast casual fast cross country airplane with good payload and range, dictating a more simple panel. Vangrusnsven was not shy about saying KEEP IT LIGHT, SIMPLE and FLY MORE. His factory Demo planes had bare bones VFR and fixed wood props. Van's factory Demo planes today have basic VFR EFIS glass, many with constant speed props and elaborate interior upholstery. You see this reflected in newer build RV's.

    Complaining about RV's with a less than fancy panels is moot. There are over 10,000 RV's flying, and Van's has been in business over 40 years. With so many RV's flying, some built 20 or 30 years ago, by individuals, there are bound to be variation and outdated "Piper Cub" panels. There are far more RV's than Glasair, and RV's are still being made. Today from my recent trip to Oshkosh Airventure RV's have nothing to be ashamed of in panel overkill with full panel of IFR glass that shames some commercial airliners or business jets. Times change.

    If shopping for a RV, the fit and finish of air frame is good, powerplant/prop good, you can upgrade the panel as you like. Almost any Kit plane over 15-20 years is likely a good candidate for a panel upgrade, where you'd replace 80% to 100% of the panel. Many companies specialize in turn key pre-wired panels to your specs, especially RV's, since they are so popular. They can crank out a full panel in no time you can drop in.

    All older airplanes, including experimental aircraft, RV, Glasair, T18, Miget Mustang II, LongEZ are all likely going to need an expensive Mode S ADS-B in/out upgrade soon, and updated to some EFIS, replacing that "standard" panel or bare bones panel common in the day. An RV with a bare panel is moot, if you are going to upgrade it, and likely cheaper to purchase the an airplane with fully outfitted circa 1990's out dated all steam driven "6-pak" VOR panel. If you bought a newer built RV or Glasair with the latest EFIS panel, you will pay a premium. An RV with a dated or bare panel represents a possible great value.

    20 years ago you could pick up a simple RV-3, RV-4 or RV-6 with O-320 fixed pitch for $30,000. A newer RV now goes for $90K to $120K with constant speed props, full EFIS, IFR approved GPS. Which is better? I have flown both types of RV, simple VFR, full IFR. The super light simple RV is a hoot to fly and a fraction of the price to buy or build. Have your head out, looking through that wonderful bubble canopy, enjoying flying verses pushing buttons and staring at EFIS panel is priceless. As RV's get heavier (bigger engine, c/s prop, deluxe panel, heavy paint job and interior) they start to lose the feel and some "total performance". On the other hand having weather, traffic, charts, autopilot is nice for traveling, with less workload. The flying you will actually do should dictate the panel.

    Deluxe VFR EFIS fully integrated systems or suites (experimental), moving map touch screen, data bases, Com, ADS-B in/out, autopilot are expense $12K to $15K panels (add another $6K to $8K for IFR). Garmin is in the experimental game, with competitive prices to Dynon and GRT. All this happened in the last 5-10 years of so. Most kit planes older than 10 years with original panels will not have all these goodies. If you don't build the plane from scratch and buy a used RV or Glasair you get what you get.

    An viable alternative is still portable GPS or iPad based panel the OP referenced, for VFR, cheaper, flexible verses a panel mounted EFIS, with almost equivalent utility. $6K saving in new panel, putting that into engine or prop is an option. EFIS is getting better and cheaper, like PC computers, which are still getting better and/or cheaper.

    Everything becomes obsolete; my only concern is an EFIS company going out of business... The new crop of EFIS will be viable for decades, as long as the manufacture supports it with repair/spare parts (at resonable cost) if it goes poof. Sometimes electronic component suppliers to these EFIS manufactures (semi conductors, chips, screens) discontinue critical hardware, which makes support or continued production impossible. That would be a bummer years from now your fancy EFIS smokes and can't be fixed. AGAIN SIMPLE VFR MECHANICAL PANEL OR BASIC EFIS FLT DISPLAY, WITH PORTABLE
    GPS HAS CHARM HERE. The cost of portable GPS or iPad based flight software is low, which makes obsolescence less of a concern. iPad based is just update software. You know Apple will make iPads for a long time to come. The fun of experimental is experimenting and doing things certified plane owners can't do. In stead of forking out $20,000 you spend $8,000 and come up with a cool unique panel that does the same thing for all intents and purposes.

    Bottom line I used my RV-4's IFR capability about 10% of the time, including night VFR. My RV-7 will be deluxe VFR. With the new EFIS they have Instrument map overlays and coupled auto pilots, that can fly the approach. However you have to add a IFR approved TSO'ed GPS to fly them legally. Those TSO'ed IFR GPS's are still min of $6000 to $8000 alone, used. Then you have to update the data base at cost. With non IFR GPS you can NOT file IFR, but you can see the approaches and data.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
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  2. Raymo

    Raymo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    VFR RV-7A panel in my plane.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
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  3. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    Here's mine. Simple, with a blend of old and new:

    IMG_2042.jpg
     
  4. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route PoA Supporter

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    That looks very nice. Do you have any redundancy for your primary glass?
     
  5. painless

    painless Pre-takeoff checklist

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    E34431B0-230A-478C-8F22-820DB4C24DF6.jpeg

    And mine. Adsb compliant. I suffer through it being terrible.
     
  6. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Lots of old RVs out there with so-so panels. To be honest though, were I to build or buy one, the last thing I would want would be some big-time glass panel. That's for guys flying IFR travel machines. To me an RV is a kickass plane to fly around, get your jollies, and scratch your upside down itch. I think mine would sport a very nice gyro panel, and little more. I don't think travel would be my primary mission with such a craft, so I don't feel the need for lots f glass. Perhaps I'll feel differently when the time comes, but I doubt it. I don't much go in for the whole panel envy thing.
     
  7. CJones

    CJones En-Route

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    To me, that's one of the biggest selling points for RVs - you can get your upside down jollies until you turn green in the gills and then level off, set for cruise, and chillax. I did 90% of my IR training in the -7A. It's a very stable a/c 'in the soup' - much more stable than the 172s or PA28s I have flown in the past. From Iowa, we flew the -7A as far west as Las Vegas, as far south as San Antonio, as far east as Boston, and as far north as 6Y9. I've run scud in it and I've had it up to 17,500' in cruise. It's been upside down (sometimes on purpose and once on not-so-purpose) and it's been run LOP. I've taken off into 400' OVC and didn't see the ground until breaking out on the ILS at the other end 3hrs and 4 states away. Hard to beat how much you can do with the RV series. Step 'up' to the -10 and you've got a no-b.s. cruising machine, but I think you were referencing the 2-seaters specifically with your comment.

    Just my .02. :)
     
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  8. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I was indeed. I think most pilots fly these as toys, and not as serious travel machines. I might point out that you are far younger than the average RV pilot. I did quite a few epic motorcycle rides in my 20's and 30-'s that I would not repeat now.
     
  9. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Where do you come up with these opinions man?!?! Haha. Seriously though, I beg to differ. I don't think I know anyone with a Vans who simply uses it for $100 hamburger runs. I mean heck, someone just did a flight around the world in one.

    Regarding steam gauges vs. glass. My neighbor is building a bitchin' RV-14 and my understanding is that glass actually saves money over steam. The Dynon Skyview system is amazing for the cost. It will VERY much be a travel machine.
     
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  10. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks!
    I've got an iFly 740 for my back-up GPS. No redundant aritificial horizon, as it's a VFR-only aircraft. Of course there's steam gauges for airspeed & altimeter, a whiskey compass and twenty minutes of battery in the iFly, so no worries if I lose the electrical system (assuming it's not on fire!).

    Price out a set of decent steam gauges, and you'll find that it's considerably more expensive than a basic EFIS like mine, and the prices on this stuff are dropping all the time. Instrument scan is so much easier with glass...all you need to know in that little strip along the bottom! The beauty is how configurable it is, as you can have as much or as little information/clutter as you want. I was a hard-core 6-pack guy until I made the switch.

    I didn't see any need to go with multiple glass panels, but many seem to cram them in every available space!
     
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  11. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Exactly.
     
  12. yakdriver

    yakdriver Cleared for Takeoff

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    And you will be able to put the Dynon in your Cherokee very soon. It is STC'd for the 172 and soon to be more.
     
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  13. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Yea that would be sweet. Although we just put the G5 HSI in.
     
  14. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    My only problem with EFIS like Dynon is what happens when the company no longer supports the boxes. Torose didn’t seem like a very young guy when I met him. What happens when the company no longer supports the box? We’re seeing that in a number of boxes these days.

    What I like about steam gauges is for the most part they’re mechanical and can be fixed by anyone.

    But who knows? Might change my tune. Perhaps I’ll build the RV more comfortable than the ones I rode in. Perhaps I’ll find it a good travel machine.

    The one major difference I have with Chris is the Vans I flew in were wonderful airplanes. They took off like rockets and were more fun than anything else I flew. The one thing they weren’t was stable. I think he and I have different definitions of that particular word. My Mooney is stable. Vans are fun.
     
  15. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    The electronics obsolescence issue is real. Ask people with older Garmin 430's who can't get them upgraded to the WAAS version. Those guys and gals are dead in the water. I figure the EFIS going in my RV-10 has a 10 year window. It is very possible that by year 11, parts of it won't be supported. No doubt it is a risk. However, I think Dynon and Garmin will be around for a while. Whether they will have the parts to fix *your* system depends on the failure rate of fielded equipment and how much component inventory Garmin and Dynon stock before the parts go out of production.

    Regarding stability, I agree. RV's (at least the -3, 4, 6, 7, and 8) are not stable. They aren't Pitts twitchy, either, but even a well rigged one will diverge from level flight pretty quickly if your hand isn't on the stick. The -9, 10, 12, and 14 should be more stable, but only the -10 is likely to be as stable as, say, a Mooney.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
  16. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    I need to do some work on my crappy ass panel. Well the switch and fuse labeling anyway.

    panel.jpg
     
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  17. yakdriver

    yakdriver Cleared for Takeoff

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    I think the Dynon is a good bet to stay around. They have great support and updates are free. My RV7 had the Classic Aero interior and was really comfortable for 4 hour legs. They are light on the controls but not twitchy and a good 2 axis autopilot helps out a lot. My 100 tear old friend Harry thought it was a pretty nice flying airplane.
     

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  18. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My RV-8A's panel was, indeed, a mish-mash of Cessna and Piper instruments when I bought it, in 2013.

    In 2014, I re-did the whole thing, using Stein Air's fantastic panel-planner service.

    It is EXACTLY what I want, and -- 4 years later -- it's still better than most panels I see. Here's a panorama view of the EFIS on a recent flight back from Houston. There are backup round gauges off the right side of the pic.

    GRT Panel.jpg
     
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  19. CJones

    CJones En-Route

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    Hmm... Different definitions of 'stable' I guess. I could leave the -7A hands-off without any problem at all. I can roll it in a 30* bank and keep it there with a couple bumps of trim and go 'round and 'round till I get sick of it. I can set the power for a no-wind ILS (14" / 2400) and it will slide down the glideslope like a champ. With that said, flying with someone that's used to ham-fisting 172/182s will only last a few minutes before I can control back from them because they start to make me sick from all the over-correction. When I did my IR checkride in the -7A, the DE is a former P-38 pilot and has flown about everything under the sun, but this was his first experience with an RV. He took the controls for unusual attitude work and immediately put us in steep descent, then pulled several G's pulling back up and getting us into a turn. His comment was "Man... This thing flies like the P37.. We called it the WidowMaker." We did a couple of unusual attitudes, which I recovered from easily, and he said "Yeah, we're good with that." I enjoyed doing IR training in it and actually did a lot of the hours in real IMC, so it was the real deal to keep things s & l. It's definitely a two-finger control a/c, but once you get it where you want it, it will tend to stay there until someone bumps the stick trying to adjust their seatbelt in the other seat.

    The -10 is probably what most people would consider 'stable'. It does take a little more 'nudge' to get into a 30* bank than the two-seaters, but it's similar in that once it's there, it stays there until you tell it to do something else. It's also more roomy and just a bigger a/c so you don't feel as many bumps as in the two-seaters. So with that in mind, I guess you could say that the -10 is more 'stable' than the -7A because it self-corrects for turbulence moreso than then -7A.
     
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  20. keen9

    keen9 Pre-Flight

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    An RV is neutrally stable. A Mooney is positively stable. By definition a Mooney is more stable than an RV.

    However, I very much prefer my neutrally stable RV.
     
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  21. Raymo

    Raymo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The steam gauge equivalent is heavier than glass. I love mine for XC and a roll or two. No inverted oil system keeps me from staying upside down. I've flown steam gauge planes but now that I've gotten used to the glass, I'll never go back.

    Recently did a 600 NM XC from eastern Georgia to Kansas City, KS area. One stop in the middle near Memphis for gas. Six hour trip at 160 KTAS. I wouldn't have done the trip in my old Cherokee 140, even if it had an auto-pilot.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  22. Lndwarrior

    Lndwarrior Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Having been in exactly this situation, i know its true. This is probably the main reason. At the end of the build you just start buying used stuff that comes up for sale because the financial pressures are just too much. You tell yourself "you'll upgrade later". Some do, many dont because they are burnt out working on the damn things.
     
  23. CJones

    CJones En-Route

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    Kennett, MO (KTKX) is a good stop in that area. So is Sullivan, MO (KUUV). Those are our two go-to stopping points going from ATL area to Iowa.

    </thread creep>
     
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  24. Raymo

    Raymo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    KTKX is where I stopped mid-way for gas on the way there after 3.5 hrs in the air. Love my RV-7A :cool:
     
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  25. CJones

    CJones En-Route

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    It's a really nice stop. TKX was where I did my very first 'real' approach after getting my IR ticket the previous day. It also happens to be the only time my wife has actually gotten sick flying with me. That was the day that I learned an invaluable lesson: When you're at 8,000 in smooth air in the soup and you get "descend at pilots discretion to 3,000" and you're still 20 minutes out from the IAF, keep your butt up high where the smooth air is. Let's just say my wife appreciated the comfortable couches in the FBO to lay down on after that approach. :mad2:
     
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  26. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    One time coming back from about an 1.5 hour flight Mrs. Steingar got really green around the gills. It was actually a negative control experiment, the batteries had run down on her little magic FAA bracelet thingie. I wanted to keep her up high and cool as long as I possibly could. Once I cleared the local Charlie, I pulled the power and put that poor airplane in the biggest slip I could manage. Let my tower know what I was doing (tower: "you're not in sight" Me: "Look up") and got only my downwind thousand of feet in the air. I was never so proud of that little airplane, I didn't do any 360s, no S turns, just downwind, base, and final. Landed perhaps a bit long. I documented it here somewhere, it really was quite a thing.

    I don't have that ability in the Mooney. The Lucky Strike can go down or slow down, but not both. Descents take some planning.
     
  27. Bisola

    Bisola Filing Flight Plan

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    For such a craft, travel would be my primary mission, so I don't feel the need for lots of glass. Perhaps I'll feel differently when the time comes, but I doubt it.
     
  28. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    If travel is my mission I want all the glass there is. I want to be able to know right where the weather is and how bad it is, so I can decide early whether to go around punch through.
     
  29. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Yeah that's what I was thinking as well. If we're talking a supercub for sightseeing around the home area on sunny weekends and the occasional $300 hamburger, then steam gauges are fine. If I'm trying to get from A to B regularly, I want glass all the way.
     
  30. OkieAviator

    OkieAviator Pattern Altitude

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    My 10 is going to be a traveling machine and a go fly around doing circles for the ****s of it. Great thing is the RV-10 does it all. I currently fly my buddy’s mostly steam plans built 10 and it’s great, works for him. I however love the bells and whistles and have been loading the plane up! Great thing about EAB you can do what you want, really only have justify it to yourself.
     
  31. NordicDave

    NordicDave Line Up and Wait

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    Nicest RV6 panel and interior I've seen.

    [​IMG]
     
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  32. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Agreed. Very nice. Not cheap I imagine though.
     
  33. jkgoblue

    jkgoblue Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This guy was in the Garmin booth at Oshkosh this year. He won and Bronze Lindy - Kit Champion. a A real beautiful RV-8. Now that's a panel... IMG_0715.jpg IMG_0716.jpg
     
  34. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    That RV-8 is an example of a builder with a very healthy checkbook. The components in that panel are $30K minimum, and the fact that he's advertising for planeschemers tells you he paid real money for someone to design the paint scheme. There's nothing wrong with any of that, but it costs serious money.
     
  35. Raymo

    Raymo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    True but, compared to a certified plane with the same equipment, paint, etc, it is a bargain.