Kay often jokes that when the airplane sees me walking towards it with a pair of wire cutters, it gets nervous, because it knows I am going to undertake another upgrade to its avionics. I must admit that there is an element of truth to the saying. As a Systems Engineer in my day job, I spend a lot of time trying to make an airplane be greater than the sum of its parts, and my own plane is no different.
Below is the progression of the cockpit, which also reflects some of the major trends in instruments. Although I have yet to go to large flat panel displays, I am sure it is only a matter of time.
Here is how the instrument panel appeared when I first saw the plane in March 1990. Notice the LORAN occupying most of the right side of the panel. To make any changes to the navigation inputs, you had to reach completely across the panel to tweak the LORAN.
The HSI was a Narco DGO-10 connected to the VOR. It did not show glideslope and was not connected to a gyro. The ADI was electrically driven.
February 1997 - My first attempt to create true IFR capability. I installed a new suite of BendixKing avionics, including a KT-76A transponder, KLX-135A GPS/Com, and a KLX-125 NavComm which provided me with ILS capability, all slaved to the DGO-10 HSI. This installation was the first where I did my own wiring, instead of having it done by an avionics shop.
I also included a Marker Beacon and multi-channel engine monitor from Electronics International. One step back was the inclusion of a vacuum-powered artificial horizon.
April 2003, I stated that this instrument panel would hopefully be the last. It was a nice dream, while it lasted.
It represented a switch from an automotive digital tach to a JPI digital tach, freeing up room to move the clock from a side panel to the main panel. Additionally, I installed a JPI fuel flow totalizer in the left side panel.