# VFR panel cost analysis

Discussion in 'Instruments / Avionics / Electrical System' started by N804RV, Apr 15, 2014.

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1. Apr 17, 2014

### Toobuilder

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Fair enough, but in the context of this thread, "MUST" get there, and "VFR" are mutually exclusive. Heck, in the context of this FORUM, "must" get there doesn't apply. As the saying goes: "if you have time to spare, go by air"

Anyway, I find great utility in my airplane as a serious transportation machine (as serious as a spur of the moment, weekend getaway with my wife can be), and I have rarely found a situation where an instrument platform and rating would have made the difference between going or not. I believe there is great value in an IFR ticket - no doubt, but the point is simply that you can have a very capable, safe VFR only airplane. And for those who choose to remain VFR, a modern EFIS offers incredible SA for minimal cost.

2. Apr 18, 2014

### Kyle Boatright

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I added the EIS 4000 as a standalone system earlier this year. Your synopsis about the system is correct, although I didn't bother with the fuel flow transducer. My watch and historical fuel consumption data give me all of the fuel consumption info I need, but lots of people feel otherwise.

3. Apr 19, 2014

### wilson

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I'm not to the point of needing instruments now but have been looking at them. If we accept that electronic instruments are approximately the same cost of analog instruments for initial cost, what about long term cost. Would the 10 year cost still be the same? Many electronic devices are obsolete/non-upgradeable/ or non repairable after as few as 5 years. Do the analog instruments also have to be replaced every few years.

4. Apr 19, 2014

### dcstrng

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For VFR usually only periodical calibration, but usually only replaced when damaged/upgraded...

5. Apr 19, 2014

### TFF

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Analogs have lasted 40 years, or at least when they degrade you dont know unless you calibrate them ever so often. Which most people dont. A friend always says the panel dates your homebuilt. Electronics change fast and down the road the whole panel will just be a wrap and you will just program the look. The problem with homebuilt electronics is the how long will they be supported down the road? For small companies keeping spare parts for 30 years is not what they are after, but for certified it is common. The flip side is electronics keep getting cheaper and many times they just hand you a new one instead of repair. Avionics will always be expensive because the small volume sold. Even if every airplane in the world got new panels every year, the sell more iPhones per day than that.

6. Apr 19, 2014

### Kyle Boatright

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Excellent question and something many of us have contemplated.

Analog instruments generally last a long time and there are repair facilities that can usually fix them when they fail. Also, the engine instruments have a lot of commonality with the automotive world, so parts and drop in replacements are generally inexpensive and readily available.

Electronics definitely have a bigger vulnerability down the road to obsolescence due to lack of parts or lack of anyone to repair them. Ask the people who purchased from Blue Mountain Avionics a decade or so ago. Similarly, Garmin no longer has the ability to repair certain 430's. All of this means that a $10k black box can become a brick for the want of a$0.50 part. The good thing is that once you get past the infant mortality phase, electronics tend to last a long time.

7. Aug 22, 2014

### haiqu

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My recently purchased airplane has a 3 1/8" hole where the Airspeed Indicator used to sit. I've decided on an MGL ASX-2 which is a combo ASI and Altimeter at US$400 shipped from AS&S. As a backup I've bought a 5" moving map GPS system called FlyNav - designed by a kiwi guy for local conditions - which will not only save me from having to dig out maps, but displays airspeed and distance to destination as well. As far as basic setups go, I think this should be adequate for day trips. The bonus with the FlyNav is it was designed from a hacked car GPS, which still works. So it will get quite a bit of use even when I'm not flying. The designer was having a garage clearout and was selling them for NZ$80.00 each a few weeks ago, complete with charger and mount.

8. Aug 11, 2016

### awparran

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Hello: I realize I am beating a dead horse, but I have not seen one thread that relates to my situation. I am building an aircraft of my own design. It has taken 30-years of dreaming to get to this point. I have flown a glass panel in a Diamond DA 20 and while I found it functional and easy to learn, it was far above my means. I retired in 2013 so money is a factor in everything I do. I don't have $3,000 as suggested in an earlier thread, let alone$1,000. I plan to fly VFR. I can spend a $100 here or there for steam gauge instruments, whereas a glass panel requires several hundreds all at once. I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 and understand I can download several Apps to make The Tab a sort of Glass panel. I have an LG cellphone collecting dust that can be turned into a GPS unit. (I have 44+ years in computers and electronics.). I have also sourced several places for instruments and yes they are steam gauges but I can afford them. I might be 68, but I can still read a paper map. Regardless, the arguments in the thread are valid, but miss the entire point; AFFORDABILITY. Pops likes this. 9. Aug 11, 2016 ### MikePousson ### MikePousson #### Well-Known Member Joined: Jan 12, 2016 Messages: 464 Likes Received: 187 Location: Ontario on the bay I don't know if this fits your needs or wallet, but I find the Levil unit to be as complete as any out there. It has AHRS, GPS, and ADS-B in and can plug in to an EIS such as Grand Rapids Avionics, and also pitot and static connections. Several apps are available. X Wing Pro 7 has the most compatibility, I believe. Levil Aviation - Portable ADS-B AHRS and GPS for tablets Or, the cheap option would be the Raspberry Pi for less than 200 build it yourself. Several UTube videos on it. 10. Aug 11, 2016 ### cluttonfred ### cluttonfred #### Well-Known Member Joined: Feb 13, 2010 Messages: 6,366 Likes Received: 2,231 Location: World traveler Options have evolved in the years since this thread started, but the MGL Avionics Velocity Singles are still a great solution. The Flight 2 and the E1 together plus a compass give you everything you need and more for basic VFR for about$1,000, light and easy to install. They do need power, but a backup battery is no big deal. Add an Apple or Android tablet GPS with maps on a knee board and you're all set.

mcrae0104 likes this.
11. Aug 13, 2016

### trifoils

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Here is a basic vfr panel like what Pops described, with an android phone for its map and used ebay instruments everywhere else. It's a joy to fly behind. Several times I have checked my email enroute, or searched for a landmark on google maps if the Ifly app didn't show it. I copied it for my Dragonfly panel but used a 7" avmap and a few more 3-1/8" flight instruments. It was inspired by the Extra 330, or anything with an aresti card in the middle of everything.

*edit - total cost was about \$800, including the phone.

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12. Aug 14, 2016

### Daleandee

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My airplane has been flying for four years with this exact setup. I added a Lift Reserve Indicator and a slip/skid ball. Only difficulty I've had was in trying to get a decent RPM reading. Ended up with a Westach unit that is accurate and rock steady. All other functions work well.

Dale Williams
N319WF @ 6J2
Myunn - "daughter of Cleanex"
120 HP - 3.0 Corvair
Tail Wheel - Center Stick
Signature Finish 2200 Paint Job
126.7 hours / Status - Undergoing condition inspection

13. Aug 14, 2016

### cluttonfred

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Dale, are those the Flight 2 and E1? And what was up with the RPM reading? Was there no way to get the MGL units to display a steady RPM? Cheers, Matthew

14. Aug 15, 2016

### Daleandee

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Yes on the Flight 2 & E-1. As for the RPM reading ... I could get a reading but it was unreliable and wandered all over the place. If you watch this short video in 720pHD & full screen mode you can see the RPM in the top right side of the display on the left side (Flight 2) instrument. Note how it is fairly close but rapidly changes numbers: