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Instrument Panel

My instrument panel

Your instrument panel is one of the major areas where you can customize your airplane.  First, give some serious thought to exactly which instruments you want.  Next, consider instrument layout:  what should be reachable with your right or left hands?  Extend this thinking not only to your main panel, but also to your left and right quadrants.  Here's how I did it.

Decide exactly which instruments to buy.

This is very much like deciding which kit to build.  You have to first decide what you want out of your instrument panel, and second, how much are you going to spend.  I wanted an IFR panel with as much glass as I could get.  And I wanted to spend as little as I could get away with.  As an added bonus, fewer instruments meant a lighter panel.  Taking into account the available space, buy the instruments you want, then figure out how to place them later.  Click here to see my instrument selections.

Instrument Layout

I am right handed, so fly with my right hand on the stick and my left on the throttle.  I want to take my hand off the stick as little as I can.  I don’t mind taking my hand off the throttle, but not off the stick.  I also don’t like swapping the stick to my left hand to throw a switch with my right.  With this in mind, I designed the layout of my cockpit.

First I placed the EFIS in the middle.  Then I placed the instruments that I would have to touch in flight on the left side.  It looks a little crowded, but I really don’t want to switch hands while flying.  Then I put the engine stuff and circuit breakers on the right.  I won’t be messing with them as much in flight, so the right side was the right place (no pun intended).

Throttle quadrant

You’ve probably noticed, I don’t have the standard Van’s throttle quadrant.  My short arms made the standard one hard to reach.  So a friend and I came up with this custom design for the throttle quadrant of our RV-8s.

Layout of Switches

I followed the same logic here.  Switches for preflight went on the right, and in flight switches went on the left.

Build It

Once I had the design, and had my parts bought, .

Tell Us About Your Instrument Panel

What were your requirements? How did you decide to lay everything out? What worked? What didn't work? What would you do differently? All of the Kit Plane Advice readers would like to learn from your experience. You just may give some readers some great ideas, or help solve some problems.

Or, if you want to ask a question about Instrument Panels not already addressed here, please do so.

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