Electrical Systems & Avionics
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Workshop Status:
The Electrical Systems, Wiring, and Avionics course is a 2-day course. Our instructor is an expert with considerable experience in aircraft electrical systems and avionics and, most importantly, a teacher who can communicate complex ideas.

The curriculum is centered on the installation process. The following subjects are presented: Special tools needed, Wire Size and circuit breakers, Antenna mounting, coax cable installation, wiring of radio systems, soldering and crimping components, alternator and electrical system requirements, installation of electrical systems. Communication and Navigation antenna systems and more.… You will learn proper soldering techniques, connector installations, multi pin connections and more. The course is designed to have the opportunity to practice and you will complete several hands on practice projects designed to reinforce the items discussed in the classroom portion of the course.

Problem areas encountered in electrical system installation in aircraft will be discussed and solutions presented.

The size of the class is limited to 16 students to ensure individualized instruction. You will not only receive instruction, but you will have opportunity to gain a considerable amount of 'hands-on' experience. A completion certificate is awarded upon successful completion of the course.

Electrical systems have long been a problem area for the aircraft builder and restorer. Let EAA SportAir take the mystery out of aircraft electrical systems through this course.

Close Up Vision Note:
The Electrical Systems Workshop involves very close-up work. Attendees should bring reading glasses or other appropriate vision aids if they regularly need or use them for close-up work.

The minimum age to participate in a SportAir Workshop is 18. The SportAir workshops are structured as an adult educational activity. Youth are encouraged to participate in our AeroEducate programs at www.aeroeducate.org

I would like to bring my spouse or building partner. Is that possible?
Yes, we encourage family and friends participation. Minimum age to participate is 18. Each person attending the course with you must be a registered and paid participant. There are limited seats in each course and each participant must be enrolled at the current course fee. There have been questions in the past about bringing along a spouse, family member, or friend to observe or audit the course with you. We’ve found over the many years we have presented these courses that unpaid observers quickly become hands on participants, which is unfair to other paid participants of the course, which is why we require all to be enrolled. If you have a specific question about this policy, please feel free to email us at sportair@eaa.org

Do I need to be an EAA member to attend?
No, the workshops are open to anyone interested in learning the skills necessary to build their own aircraft.

Can I take more than one workshop at a location on one weekend?
You are only able to take one workshop each weekend. Each workshop is a full two days in length.

When I complete a course will I be able to do all the related work on my project unassisted?
Since each workshop is only two days in length, it is impossible to teach you everything you need to know. We do tell you where to get further assistance and we certainly provide you with the confidence necessary to begin your project. The fundamentals are taught and you will need to go home and practice.

How much time is actually spent doing "hands-on" activities?
The majority of the workshop time is spent doing "hands-on" activities. Be sure to wear your work clothes. In most courses, about 25% of the total time will be spent in lecture and discussion.

What are the hours of the workshops?
Registration for the workshop begins promptly at 7:30 a.m. on day one with the workshops beginning promptly at 8 a.m. Day One activities conclude about 5 p.m. Day two is 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m, but we’ve been known to continue until 5pm as needed on Day two.

Do I need to bring any tools with me?
No, all tools and materials are provided.

Can I purchase materials at the workshops?
No, however you will receive a discount sheet from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty that will allow you to order materials at a discount with complimentary shipping.

Will I have time for lunch?
Yes, 1 hour is scheduled for lunch each day.

How many people will be in each class?
We try to limit class size to an instructor/student ratio of no more than 16 students per instructor. The welding classes are limited to 12 students due to tooling requirements.

How can I find out what hotels are available in the area?
The best source is Google Maps, Expedia or other travel site. They have the most up to date information and special pricing

Can I pay for the workshop the day I arrive?
No. We must receive payment prior to the workshop. In the past we have experienced a number of "no-shows" from people who have not prepaid. If you need to cancel, a full refund will be provided as long as you notify us at least seven calendar days prior to the workshop.

What if I have to cancel my enrollment?
A full refund will be provided as long as you notify us seven calendar days or more prior to the workshop. These workshops are specialized courses with limited attendance to enhance your learning experience. If you cancel within seven calendar days of the workshop a $100 cancellation fee will be assessed. A “no show” will not be entitled to a refund.

How will I know where the workshop is located?
Workshop addresses and map locations can be found in our information packets. In addition, we will have signs directing you to the workshop.

Do I take anything home with me?
All courses provide you with a detailed workbook and a certificate of completion. In several courses you will build a small project to take with you.

Do I receive a workbook?
Yes, a workbook is provided for each workshop.

Are the instructors volunteers or professionals?
All of our instructors have high qualifications. They are professionals in their field and have years of experience.

What if I am undecided about building an airplane?
We recommend that you take the Fundamentals of Aircraft Building workshop. This workshop will give you "hands-on" experience in all types of aircraft construction.

Can I get credit for IA renewal by attending your workshop?
Several FAA district offices have given credit for the workshop. It depends upon the local FSDO.

Will I learn to weld aluminum in the gas welding class?
Because of the complexities we do not demonstrate aluminum welding.

Can I bring my own welding torch?
Yes, we encourage you to do this.

What type of covering system is used in the fabric covering class?
The Poly-Fiber system is used. However, nitrate and butyrate dope is also discussed.

How much time will be spent vacuum bagging in the composite class?
A very limited time is spent on vacuum bagging. The technique is demonstrated and is enough to familiarize you with the procedure.

Do you teach us how to finish a composite airplane?
Yes, we discuss all aspects of composite finishing.

What spraying system is used in the fabric workshop?
Depending on the facility, we may spray some of the fabric coatings. If this is not possible, spraying technique will be covered. We use primarily the HLVP systems.

May I bring my own project to the class to work on?
We do not encourage people to bring their own project. We have a set curriculum that includes a project that we have designed. If we had separate items to work with it would only create confusion for the rest of the class.

Does the electrical course teach me how to install avionics and antennas?
Yes, in addition to basic wiring of the electrical systems.

I’m designing my own aircraft, do any of the workshops cover basic design issues?
No, structural design will not be covered in any of the workshops.

Why do you not have the workshops in more locations?
The EAA SportAir Workshops are presented as a self sustaining program of the EAA. It is very difficult to find suitable locations. We ship everything we need for the classes in large wooden crates. It is very expensive for us to travel. We try to schedule classes only where we can be assured of a large attendance.

I would like to host a SportAir Workshop. What are the requirements?
Finding new facilities are the biggest challenge for this program. EAA is a non-profit organization and the SportAir Workshops are presented as a self sustaining program. It is very expensive for us to take this program on the road. We try to schedule classes only where we can be assured of an attendance cover operational costs.

Minimum facility requirements are as follows:

  • Location must be in or close to a sizable metro area
  • Forklift rated at 1,000 pounds for loading/unloading large crates
  • Enough space to hold at least 4 workshops with 16 students simultaneously
  • Adequate lighting
  • Bathroom facilities
  • Willingness to help grow grassroots aviation

If this sounds like something you could host, we would love to hear from you at sportair@eaa.org or 1-800-967-5746.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"I enjoyed this course very much! It was a good balance of theory and hands-on projects. I feel much more confident about wiring my RV-8-A now."
— Bob S. | Dallas, TX

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"This was a GREAT workshop! Dick Koehler is extremely knowledgeable and great in teaching the subject. I was uncertain about the contents of the course. Fortunately, I decided to attend and loved it. The projects are great!"
— James B. | Lakeland, FL

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"Instructor very knowledgeable. Excellent presentation skills! Good hands on projects. Well worth the time and cost.”
— G.B. | Lakeland, FL

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"There was no wasted time in this course. The projects were excellent learning and review for the classroom subjects. I learned how much I don’t know. It will save me time and money in the future.”
— Robert B. | Denver, CO

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"Excellent! The workshop was all I expected and more. Got the knowledge I was hoping to obtain from the classes."
— Clifford T. | Dallas, TX

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"Dick was exceptionally knowlegable and wonderful teacher. Most helpful in theory and hands on. Answered questions on automotive engines electronics – aviation applications with helpful examples and suggestions"
— Kurt S. | Dallas, TX

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"I enjoyed this course very much. It was a good balance of theory and hands on. I feel much more confident about wiring my RV-8A now. Thank you."
— Bob S. | Dallas, TX

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"I have some electrical knowledge from school but had never done electronic type work before. The course was set up perfectly for teaching a new skill. I think it appeals to all ages and everyone has things to learn. Hands-on learning was the most helpful.”
— Recent Attendee

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"Outstanding in all respects. Superb presentations along with great “war stories” for reinforcement. I learned a lot and the course greatly reinforced my confidence."
— Mick B.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"This took the mystery out of the electrical system for me. Great info and fantastic instructor."
— David R.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"Hope to see instructor again on another class. Brought the whole package together on a better understanding of form and function!”
— David C.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"Gave me exactly what I was looking for: the means to complete my project, some practice skills and how to resource help with future problems I might encounter. Instructor was excellent, knowledgeable, friendly, more than willing to answer and and all questions.”
— Milton P.

Introduction, Reference and Resources

Initial Steps – Planning your System

Equipment Needs

Location of Components

Power and Battery Systems


Electrical Tools – Wiring

Project - Crimping Exercises

Switching and Switching Systems


Project – Wire Harness for Intercom


Antennas Com and Nav, GPS and Others – In Depth

Project – BNC Installations

Monitoring Systems

Mapping Electrical Systems

Electrical Symbols and Schematics

Project – Wiring a Simple Panel


Additional Resources

Wrap Up Discussion and Student Evaluations

Dick Kohler Dick Koehler has been an EAA Member for over 30 years and has assisted over 2,000 EAA members get started installing their aircraft’s electrical system via the SportAir Electrical and Avionics Course. He’s an EAA Technical Counselor and Flight Advisor, and holds an FAA A&P with IA rating. He’s written numerous articles for Sport Aviation and has presented dozens of Hints for Homebuilders video segments. He previously instructed Avionics at a local Aviation Community college and is a distinguished, retired, Naval aviator. Dick helps builders develop skills and acquire the confidence to wire their aircraft and install today’s complicated avionics successfully.