10 December 2017

First Flight!

The aircraft has been flown!  No significant squawks.  It flies straight, no heavy wing and the rudder hardly requires attention in flight.  Whilst I'd like to take credit for building the aircraft with highly-skilled craftsmanship, that the aircraft flies so well is more likely due to the kit design and fabrication.

Crosswind turn after first takeoff.  This 1920x1440 image is from a GoPro Session using the PlaneAround wing mount.  Tail camera is visible below tail.

Base-to-final turn on landing following the second flight.  This 1920x1080 image is from a GoPro HERO2 using the PlaneAround tie-down mount.  Wing camera is visible on right wing.

Third take off.  This 2704x1520 image is from a GoPro HERO5 Session using the PlaneAround tie-down mount.  The HERO2's resolution limited the clarity of the image at the tail (as seen above), so I picked up the HERO5 Session to capture more detail.  Wing camera is visible on right wing.

The following week, my aircraft visited the first airport away from home, one of the few permitted by my operating limitations under Phase I.  It was also an opportunity to use the field's compass rose to calibrate the magnetometer again.  If you look carefully, you can see the GoPro cameras on the left wing (HERO Session), under the tail (HERO5 Session) and the two mounted under the canopy (Fusion and HERO6 Black).

During a day of ground testing, prior to first flight day, another RV-14A happened to stop by.  The aircraft's pilot requested a photo-shoot.  Turns out, one of these planes is wearing pants, the other isn't.

The one item worth mentioning is that initially the prop would not cycle even up to 2,000 RPM on the ground.  This was a cause for concern and unacceptable for flight, obviously.  A day was spent making phone calls, examining the governor installation and searching the web for similar experiences.  Turns out this is a normal occurrence and probably exacerbated by the prop sitting unspun since delivery in Sep-13, some 2.25 years ago.

After manually cycling the prop with boards (as shown on 44-07 in the plans for cutting the spinner to accommodate blade travel) in the hangar some 20 times then bringing the engine up to 2,100 RPM on taxi, the prop loosened up and then could cycle down to ~1,700 RPM.

I made the decision to build an aircraft on 4-Jul-12.  My decision to build an RV-14A was made a few weeks afterwards.  My wing kit was ordered on 12-Feb-13 and received on 10-Apr-13.  It took 4 years and 8 months from start of construction to first flight.  Though generally I worked on the plane consistently, there were several months of inactivity due to domestic and employment affairs and the like.  The cumulative build hours graph, shown below (also on the right column of this blog), records my building activities.

As shown on the right column in this blog, 2,196.01 hours total build time were invested (includes all redone parts).  An additional 599.69 hours of help from eight others was obtained, each of which were invaluable to finishing the project.  A single helper donated 461 hours of his time to my build - the aircraft could not have been completed without him and to whom I owe a massive debt of gratitude for his dedication to my aircraft.   Thus, it took 2,795.7 hours to build this aircraft.  No quick-build kits were used.  Panel design, fabrication and all aircraft wiring were done by me.  My POH can be found here.  Total cost, as shown on the right column of this blog, was $155,737.88 (includes tools and redone parts).

29 November 2017

Avionics: Intercom output level for recording

I picked up a fancy GoPro Fusion (marketing video below) to use with my aircraft.  It's a full 360 degree camera, in both xy- and xz-planes.  I also picked up the GoPro HERO 6 Black, GoPro HERO5 Session  and GoPro Session.  The Fusion and HERO6 Black will be placed under the canopy.  The HERO5 Session will be placed on the tail and the Session will be placed on the wing.

I would also like to record the intercom audio on the HERO6 Black.  This is why I wired in panel-mounted jacks, on the lower right of my panel, for audio input and output (Music 1 In and Out in the image below), figuring I would use the latter for a video camera.  For the Music 1 Out jack, I used the GMA-240's Passenger Headset Audio Out pins (40 and 41 on J2401). 

Because the output level from the GMA-240 is for a headset and can exceed ±4V (depending on load impedance) it can't be connected directly to the GoPro.  This is because the GoPro's audio input level requires "line level" (i.e., about ±1V) and has a 8k-Ohm input impedance in line input mode (2.2k-Ohm for mic and 47k-Ohm for powered mic).

By placing a 47k-Ohm resistor in series with the left and right audio lines into the jacks, the GoPro can accept output from the GMA-240 through the jack.  This occurs since this simple voltage divider network reduces the magnitude of the audio voltage into the GoPro to about 14.5% of GMA-240's output.

When I originally put in the panel-mounted audio jacks, I used Molex connectors on them figuring that I would need to replace the jacks in the future due to potentially many connect/disconnect cycles.  Turns these Molex connectors were ideal for accommodating the 47k-Ohm resistors in a little jumper cable.

The image below shows the back of the panel on the right side (looking aft).  The two Music 1 In and Out jacks are shown on the left of the image.  The bottom jack is the Music 1 input.  The top jack is the Music 1 Out jack which is the audio from the GMA-240's Passenger Headset Audio Out.  You can see a small Molex-plugged jumper cable with the 47k-Ohm resistors placed between the Molex connectors from the jack and from the GMA-240. 

When plugged in to the GoPro, the audio from the intercom is clear and unsaturated.  Should I ever need to, I can simply remove the jumper cable with resistors and return the jack to its headset-level output.

20 November 2017

Maintenance: Propeller governor leak

My prop governor was leaking a tiny drip of oil every few days.  This was prior to my running the engine.  I have Hartzell's S-1-79 governor.  I removed the governor head (model 102889 Rev. 6) and found the below.  You can see that the o-ring apparently was pinched when installed.  I spoke to a Hartzell A&P and he thought it happened during assembly at the plant and was the first time he'd seen this.

The o-ring part number is  C-3317-035 with a 2016 list price of $2.70.  The replacement part was covered under warranty.

The damaged ring on the left and the new ring on the right.

When replacing the ring, I learned that it's important to lubricate it with oil and to stretch it in place not roll it.  It's trivial to reinstall.  The 9/32" hex cap head screws must be torqued to 21-25 in-lbs per the manual (HC-SL-61-277 Rev. 3 D(1)(b)g).

Then I needed to be sure the speeder compress spring sits properly when reassembling.  Left image is of course incorrect, whilst the right is correct.

09 November 2017

First Flight Prep: FAA Inspection. I can fly.

On 7-Nov-17, three FAA Aviation Safety Inspectors came to my hangar and completed their inspection of my aircraft, paper work and builder's log files, images and videos.  As of 9-Nov-17 my aircraft is legally permitted to fly. 

The FAA no longer provides "pink slips".  The airworthiness certificate is now provided on 8.5"x11" card stock and is part of the operating limitations.  This is FAA Form 8130-7 (11/2016).  It is a four page document, which includes a description of the approved flight test area (including permitted airports of use), that must remain in the aircraft during operations per CFR §91.203(b).  The certificate shown above is cropped from that document.

The official logbook entries are below.

And I can legally perform my own maintenance.  They put my model as RV-14/A rather than RV-14A.  When I pointed this out to one of the inspectors, he said "we're going to let that slide for now."

Soon these seats will be occupied.

Following placement of the top cowl half, this bad boy is ready to go.

The next posts will detail first and subsequent flight experiences.

15 October 2017

First Flight Prep: My POH, checklist and flight test cards.

In the interest of sharing with the community, here are the first revisions of my RV-14A Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH), checklists and flight test cards.  Please note, these were assembled prior to first flight and thus I anticipate they will all change during and after Phase I.  As with all information on my site, it is being offered free for use.  Feel free to copy and modify any or all of them to suit your needs.  Links to the files are in the matrix below the image.

I used OpenOffice to create each document.  It's a free open source office suite.  Below I include the documents in PDF, OpenOffice text (.odt) and Microsoft Word (.doc) formats (the .doc files may not preserve the full fidelity of original OpenOffice formatting).  I will update the links with future versions as I write them.  Following Phase 1 testing, v1.0 will be completed.

It's best to save the .odt and .doc files directly to your computer/phone/tablet.  If you instead view them in Google Docs' native viewer, they will be mangled on your screen.

.pdf .odt .doc
POH v0.2 v0.2 v0.2
Checklist v0.1 v0.1 v0.1
Flight Test Cards v0.1 v0.1 v0.1

Much of the POH structure and some of its wording were stolen from a POH written by Brian and Brandi for N42BU, an RV-10.  Most of the wording from the RV-14 plans' Chapter 2 serve as the first three subsections.

I copied much of the checklist structure and wording found in N42BU's checklist.

I copied the flight test card set offered by N169AK, modifying it as appropriate for my needs.