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Homebuilt Aircraft Electric System Hints

I want to pass on to you some electric system hints and tips that helped during the construction of my airplane.  I think you'll also find them useful as you build yours.

Electronics that require soldering multiple pin terminals

Small parts holder toolI did as much of this work on the bench as I could manage.  It was a lot easier to do the precise work in a comfortable position instead of lying over the center spar.

I found it best to solder all the wires into the pins before I put any heatshrink on.  When I tried heatshrinking as I went, the soldering iron kept burning the old heatshrink as I soldered the next pin.

I found a small parts holder tool like this one from Harbor Freight was a huge help.  It was hard to hold both the d-sub connector and the wire at the same time as I soldered.

I soldered the d-subs by heating each pin and putting a little solder in it.  Only after they all had solder in them did I start connecting the wires.  I stripped the end of the wire, then touched the iron to the pin and pushed the wire into the solder.  I removed the iron, let the solder cool, and gave a light tug to ensure the wire was set.

Label everything

I used masking tape to initially label both ends of every wire of all of my electric system components.  I then removed the tape when I soldered the end or crimped it onto a terminal.  All those white wires look exactly the same when the bundle is run and you can’t see both ends.  See how I would have done permanent labeling for more discussion.

Pull the wires

I used string to help pull the wires.  I ran a piece of string through the conduit.  Then when I pulled some wires, I taped them and another piece of string to the original string. I could then pull everything through the conduit.  When I was done, I still had a piece of string to pull the next wires.

To get wires through the gearbox, I made a big loop of string that ran from the top, through the gearbox and out the bottom, then connected the ends on the outside.  I taped the wires I was pulling to the string, and pulled them through.  This gave me an easy way to continually pull wires without having to reach inside the gearbox.  I ended up making two loops of string.  One ran top to bottom of the gearbox, the other ran from the top to the side, below the throttle quadrant.

When I finished pulling everything, I taped the ends of the string in place.  Now if I ever want to pull more wires, it should be easy.

Checking your work

Don't use a trickle charger!

DON’T USE A TRICKLE CHARGER!  These may damage your electronics.  You are better off using a power supply, or an extra battery.  I didn’t have a spare battery lying around, so to check a lot of my stuff, I pulled my truck up to the front of the airplane and hooked up the battery without even removing it from the truck.

Use a regulated power supply

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