Building a Glass Panel: design and fabricating a modern avionics panel

Building a Glass Panel

Copyright Date:
May 2010
Run Time:
102 min
DVD Weight:
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Recently Updated! with a chapter devoted to designing and building a high-tech glass cockpit for the CH750 modeled after the panel used in the Zenith factory demonstrator aircraft.

In the last 5 years technology has advanced to the point that a homebuilder can now create a sophisticated instrument panel that was once only available on certified aircraft. These electronic display panels used to cost as much as our homebuilt aircraft. Today, the cost has dropped to the point that makes them competitive with the standard 'steam' gauges that we traditionally use. New functionality and greater safety in aircraft travel result from using these new instruments.

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Building A Glass Panel demonstrates the skills and planning process required in building a glass panel for a homebuilt. Mark Townsend of Can-Zac Aviation leads the viewer, step by step from the planning stages through the actual fabrication procedures and wiring for a combination glass/conventional instrument panel to be used on one of his experimental aircraft. He explains each step of the process clearly with over the shoulder demonstrations.

The start of the video begins with an uncut metal instrument panel and ends with a completed, functioning electronic glass panel which includes a moving map and flight instruments.

Design/Layout Considerations
How to choose what and where instruments and controls should be placed on the panel. Will they all fit? Can you reach every knob and control.

Electronic vs. Conventional Gauges

What is the cost of the new glass display panels? What new functionality is possible over conventional?

How to Cut Openings
Observe step by step techniques for creating the circular openings for the conventional gauges - and the large rectangular openings for the display panels. Use of punches, knifes, files and nibblers for professional results is demonstrated.

Wiring and plumbing instruments
Wiring of the electronic panels is easy if pre-wired plugs are used. Demonstrations of wiring the pins on these plugs is shown. A pre-wired terminal/breaker/switch bus sub-panel is used to make things fast and easy. Even the new glass panels need air/static pressure lines for airspeed, altitude, etc and these are discussed and installed.

Functionality and Redundancy
This panel uses conventional gauges to 'back up' the functionality of the electronic panels. However, keep in mind that the electronic panels already have their own internal batteries to protect against power failure... many things to consider when choosing the instruments to include in your panel.

There is no one best way to design an instrument panel - every pilot/designer has their own best way. But by observing the steps and procedures that were taken to create the panel in this video, you will gain the knowledge and confidence to consider building one of your own.

Completed panel built in this DVD video

Designing/Layout of proposed instruments

Using the template guide for mounting holes

Mounting the moving map display

Explaining a pre-wired bus system before mounting


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