I had a very interesting and enjoyable two-week trip to Brazil to do type certification flight testing on the Embraer ERJ-170 and -175. Many years ago the Brazilian government decided to make developing a world-class aviation industry a priority. They created Embraer, established a government-run aeronautical engineering training program, and now all this work is paying off. Embraer has developed a very impressive family of aircraft. The ERJ-170, -175, -190 and -195 are probably the best aircraft in their class now. Bombardier has their work cut out for them to keep up.

I was back from Brazil for two days, then went to Montreal for two days. Now I'm finally back home for a week or so, and am trying to get back at the RV-8 project. I'm working on a replacement instrument panel. The first panel has a removable section in the middle, as I originally intended to use conventional electric gyros, and I wanted to be able to remove the gyros when I intended to do aerobatics. But I later bought the Dynon EFIS, which has a solid-state attitude reference, which can't be damaged by aerobatics. So I don't need that ugly removable panel section. I planned to redo the panel after I got flying, but I have realized that several parts of the new panel will have to match the old panel exactly, or it won't fit up to the avionics stack, or the platenuts where the EIS-4000 mounts.

So, I ordered a new panel, and I started working on it this week. So far, I've nibbled the square holes where the avionics stack and the EIS-4000 go, and drilled the holes where the avionics rack support angle will attach to the panel. It took quite a bit of fiddling to get everything to match perfectly, but it all fits so far.

I was troubled by the annunciator lights. The aircraft is currently wired for ugly big round LED annunciator lights. But I later purchased nice square Vivisun annunciators. I need to cobble together a dimming power supply for the Vivisun lights, and I might hold off on sorting that out until after I get flying. I was afraid that I would need to fly initially with the first panel, then replace it with the new one after I get the dimming power supply fitted. But I just had a Eureka moment when I realized that the original LEDs are small enough that they can be inserted through the square holes for the Vivisun annunciators. I'll need temporary large "washers" to make this work, but that will allow me to fly with the new panel and the original annunciators for a while.