September 8, 2008

Autopilot servo brackets - 3.0 hrs.

Today I got started on the innards for the right wing. This should be much simpler than the left wing. The left wing carries the pitot tube and the AOA system, whereas the right wing will just have the autopilot servo for the ailerons. At this stage of the game, all I'm concerned about is installing the brackets that will eventually hold the autopilot servo. I didn't even buy the servo at this point. It did, however, involve making a decision about which autopilot I'm going to use. I narrowed my choice down to the two big players in the field - Trio Avionics, and Tru-Trak. I spent a lot of time evaluating both. They are both extremely fine systems, and I know I would be happy with either one from what I know at this point. But in the end I went with TruTrak. I'm excited about how either one of these systems will work together with your GPS navigation system to literally fly your airplane on a cross-country course to your destination with unprecedented ease and precision.

A while back I tried to place an order for just the brackets, and I learned that they no longer sell just the brackets. You buy a servo kit that includes the mounting brackets and the servos. I didn't have or want to invest that much money right now. Fortunately, I found a copy of an email I received from them over a year ago that included a price quote, from back when they sold you the brackets alone. They were good enough to honor that, and they agreed to sell me a set of brackets alone.

Why all this bother for just the brackets? It's true that you can install them later in wings that are already finished. But like the AOA system and the pitot tube plumbing, it's all just so much easier to do now before the bottom wing skins are riveted on.

Installing an autopilot system like the TruTrak involves taking out the aileron bellcrank and replacing the brackets that hold it to the wing spar with a special set of brackets that not only hold the bellcrank, but the servo that will eventually be installed. Shown above are the plans that came with the brackets, and the bellcrank from my right wing. I drilled the hole called for in the bellcrank for the pushrod that will eventually attach here.

Here are several shots of the installed brackets and the bellcrank back in place. These brackets replaced the little white ones that are standard for the wings. The nice thing about them is, you can fly the plane as usual without the autopilot servo for as long as you want, before installing it here.

I'm really happy to have this done. When I put the bottom wing skins back on, I could see how much more of a hassle it would have been to do this later. My right wing is now ready for riveting the bottom skins!

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