12 August 2018

Avionics: Canopy USB power change

I use a GoPro Hero 6 Black mounted inside the canopy.  To power it, I designed a simple board to provide an available 4 Amps from two USB ports.  I mounted that board to the canopy frame.  However, when connected to that power source, the Hero 6 camera will shut off (actually, it crashes and turns back in in band aide mode), without fail, as soon as I taxi into position on the runway.

Originally, I had a Powerwerx dual USB port between the seats.  It powered the Hero 6 without issue.  However, it created a lot of hash on my GTR-200 transceiver

So I replaced it with one from Blue Sea.  This one did not create hash on the GTR-200.  But, the Hero 6 again would shut off at odd times.

After doing a lot of testing at home, I determined that the Hero 6 is extremely picky on which power source it can accept without crashing.  It even won't accept power from my computer's USB port without crashing.  Since the Powerwerx socket originally worked, I decided to replace my USB board with the Powerwerx socket at the canopy frame.  Using some spare aluminum and angle, I made a quick mount for the socket and attached it to a tooling hole on the C-01405-L Aft Canopy Frame with a nylon screw.

Now the Hero 6 stays on the whole flight and there is no hash on the GTR-200.  That may be because the ground wire for the Powerwerx socket goes to the main ground bus, whilst the ground wire for the Blue Sea socket goes to the aircraft chassis.  So perhaps when the Powerwerx socket was originally between the seats, that grounding setup was the cause of the hash.

View from camera in daytime:

In the nighttime:

21 July 2018

Operational: Rudder gust lock.

I fashioned a quick and inexpensive rudder gust lock.  It's slightly different than other similar designs I've seen:  Rather than using an extension that secures the gust lock in place, mine is lodged into place between the F-01435 Cover Base and F-01483 Forward Bottom Skin.

The gust lock stays in place, even when manipulating the rudder rather authoritatively.  The aft tee is the key to keeping the whole contraption lodged in place.  There is some flex when the rudder is providing a lot of force.  If that becomes a problem, a thick dowel inserted into the pipe(s) would help alleviate that issue. 

It's important to place the aft tee where a F-01438 Cover Rib is located to provide something rigid for the gust lock to be pushed into when the rudder is moving.  Otherwise the Cover Base is at risk of being bent.

I use one on each side, in case either dislodges or fails.

Parts list from Lowe's for one gust lock:
My total cost for a pair:  $15.40.

18 July 2018

Modification: Canopy lock.

When I bought my ignition switch, I got the one with the lock set.  My plan was to drill through the F-01470-L Fuselage Side Skin similar to what other folks do.  But, I eventually balked at that that as there is a definite...finality...to that approach that I couldn't stomach.

Instead, I thought I could fit a padlock through the C-609 Canopy Latch and C-607 Latch Handle.  Below gives an idea of the available dimensions for the purpose.

Center-to-center, at the outboard edges of the Canopy Latch and Latch Handle, the two parts are 3/4" apart.  So I needed a lock with the same center-to-center shackle width.  The Master 4130 fit the bill.  Dimensions are A:3/16", B:9/16", C:9/16" with a width of 9/8", which gives that 3/4" center-to-center spacing I needed.  Although the shackle diameter is larger than I wanted, it will work.

A #11 (0.191") hole was drilled into the C-106 part and a 7/32" (0.219") hole was drilled into the C-107 part.  One hole has to be larger to accommodate the curvature of the shackle during insertion.

The lock then fits in very snug.  It cannot move even on a windy day.

23 June 2018

Maintenance: My inflight toolbox.

The nice thing (if there is one) about building your own plane and having the repairman's certificate for it too, is that you know how, and are able, to fix nearly anything, anywhere, anyplace.  So I carry a set of tools in the baggage area.  I use little padded lunchboxes since, if they bounce around, they won't cause too much grief back there banging things.

The complete list of what I carry is at the bottom of this post.  Here are the pictures.

First box's contents are shown below.

Second box's contents are shown below (not shown, spark plug socket).

Not shown, in a separate lunch box, are several quarts of oil.

These items ride freely, without a box:  Light canopy cover from Bruce's Custom Covers, cowl and NACA plugs and my cheaply fashioned, lightweight and low-profile wheel chocks.

Interior, between the seats, are my sunglasses, USB charging cables, headlamp, FM radio, Wet Ones for cleaning hands after fueling and a little pick. 

Those items above are kept here in this little red case from Hango.  "Insert before flight" keychain available from eBay and Amazon.

The full list below.
  • Hardware
    • Exteriorly exposed hardware
      • Flaps
        • AN4-8
        • NAS1149F0432P
        • NAS1149F0463P
        • MS24665-151
      • Rudder cables    
        • AN23-11
        • NAS1149F0332P
        • AN310-3
        • MS24665-132
      • Elevator trim
        • Inside
          • MS20392-1C11
          • NAS1149FN432P
          • MS24665-132
        • Outside
          • MS20392-1C9
          • NAS1149FN432P
          • MS24665-132
    • Elastic stop nuts
      • AN365-632A
      • AN365-832A
    • Pinch-nuts
      • MS21042-3
      • MS21042-4
    • Spark plug and oil screen crush washers
      • AN900-10/MS35769-11
      • AN900-16/MS35769-21

07 June 2018

Operational: Super light wheel chocks.

The first time I got fuel away from my home drome, when I parked the plane in front of the pump, I walked over to grab a set of the available chocks.  All of them were way too high to fit under the wheel fairings.  It was clear I needed to provision and carry my own.  Here's what I came up with.

There are lots of low-profile chocks options available.  All of them are rather expensive, in my view.  I sought to find a cheaper alternative.  Alas, I found one.  It's made from ISOFR (isopthaloic polyester fire retardant resin) Fiberglas 1/8" thick, 1"x1" angle.  A 5' section cost me $10.75 and let me make 3 pairs of 10" chocks which works out to $3.58 each pair.  The material is rated for a temperature range of -100°F to 150°F with a tensile strength of 30,000 psi.

After cutting up the 5' section into three pairs, I drilled holes to accommodate some string to hold a pair together.  The chocks, with string, weigh 4.6 oz.  And since it's not metal, it won't scratch any paint in the baggage area or on the fairings.

03 June 2018

Avionics: New capacitive senders.

The Dynon capacitive senders I originally installed for my capacitive plates didn't work.  In fact, they didn't do anything other than output about 1.5 Volts no matter what the fuel level was.  I'll put those $100 in the "loss" column.

Princeton Electronics makes a nicer sender.  It has a PIC that employs a digital filter to linearize the output and smooth out immediate variations in fuel level due to sloshing.  I purchased the 5-point version (empty, ¼, ½, ¾ and full).  It's actually slightly cheaper to purchase it pre-wired.

The boxes that house the sensors are a bit large.  I didn't want to place them inside the airplane because it would have been excruciating to route the cable and wires.  So I decided that a good place was at the T-00006-L/R Tank Attach Brackets.  I could drill holes on the inboard sides of the brackets without violating edge distances, then use a piece of aluminum to mount the senders.  So that's what I did. 

I wanted the senders to be easily replaced if that ever came up.  So I outfitted the wires with micro Molex connectors.  For that, I needed to replace the thicker 20 gauge wires that the boxes came with with smaller 22 gauge wires.  That necessitated some quick solder work.

Here's the fuel gauge on my panel.  Left and right readings are pretty close.  Guess I'm balancing fuel load pretty well!

29 May 2018

Empennage: Empennage fairings. Filling in the gaps.

My F-01496 Empennage Fairing had quite a bit of pillowing on the forward edge.  Good place for rain to blast in there.

So I decided to fill in the area.  I laid down packing tape in the skin, scuffed the underside of the fairing, slathered epoxy-flox on it, drenched the screws in Boelube, fastened the fairing back down to the plane then let it sit over night.

After cleaning up the mess, it came out nicely.

20 May 2018

Maintenance: Starter failure at 43 hours.

My XIO-390-A3B6 came from Lycoming with a SkyTec 149-12LS starter, S/N F2L-341501 (I think that means 34th production week of 2015 on day 1).  It failed when I was away from my home drome with 43 hours on the Hobbs.  The starter spun, but the solenoid stuck so the starter gear could not push forward to engage the ring gear behind the prop. 

Here I am on the ramp gently tapping the starter (image from GoPro Hero 6 attached to canopy) so I could get home.  The following week, a call to SkyTech confirmed my suspicion of a stuck solenoid and set in motion a RMA request.  Three weeks later, I had a new starter.

A search of VAF found that a stuck solenoid is not an unusual problem with SkyTec.  Many folks carry a spare solenoid and it turns out that one from a late model Ford Crown Victoria fits the bill.  I found that a BorgWarner BWD S5613 is identical in shape and size and fits the SkyTec 149-12LS.  The BWD S5613 can be found for $27+shipping.  

I now carry an extra solenoid in my parts and tool bag that always rides with the plane.  Replacement in the field would be easy:  Two hex cap screws then two nuts.  Incidentally, that tool bag came in mighty handy.  You can see some of its contents on the left wing in the image above.  Here's a list, with photos, of what my tool bag is composed of.

If the replacement starter suffers from a similar issue, I will investigate trying a B&C starter instead.  It might be a challenge to get it to fit around the snorkel.

To remove the starter, I took off the snorkel.  

When I changed my oil for the second time, I found that the starter had released a significant amount of grease from its housing onto the snorkel.  SkyTech assured me this release of the packing grease was normal.  Here is the broken starter showing where the grease came from.

16 May 2018

Fun Stuff: First night flight.

The bird's first night flight was today.  It was an experience to mind that I had only one engine, one battery, one alternator and the vast dark expanse of the Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming plains below me.

I have a set of indicator lights on my panel.  The blue light indicates when pitot heat is off.  It is crazy bright in the day, but not distracting.  At night it's ridiculous.  I had to cover it with a cloth (I later bought some light dimming covers to reduce the intensity).  Below you can see how overly bright it is in flight at night.

I could finally check how luminous my pair of AveoMaxx Hercules 30 landing lights were.  Here I am at KIBM just beginning my takeoff roll.  Views are from the cameras in the canopy and tail.  When I returned to my home drome, there were 3 other folks in the pattern.  They all remarked on how bright the lights were, unprompted.  One guy said he'd need to carry a generator to run them!  So my objectives of 1) being able to see and 2) being seen were met with these lights.  Below are the Amperage draws for the pair of lights.

High Low
Taxi 5.1 2.3
Taxi+Landing 15.5 7.2

Here are my posts relating to those lights.

Here's a video from the tail cam on takeoff from KIBM.

Here's a funny picture when testing the lights at 1 AM in my garage back in late 2016.

Fun video that same night showing the lights in wig-wag mode (taxi lights on, landing lights off) and with the nav/strobes on.  The lights were all resting on the bulkheads (wing roots).

 Here they are during the day (off).

14 May 2018

Maintenance: Cowl and NACA plugs.

Custom cut cowl plugs are very expensive.  Bruce's Custom Covers sells a set for $145.  Van's says that their $59.95 plugs for the RV-6/7/8/9 will fit the the RV-14.  Aircraft Spruce sells a set of cut-to-fit universal plugs for $38.80.  One miserly fellow made his plugs out of some packing foam.

I snagged that universal kit from Spruce.  It came with way more foam than I needed.  So I decided to make NACA covers too.

First you make templates for each piece.  Then trace it on the foam and cut it with the band saw.

 Then you sand it down until you get the fit you want.

Attach the strap and flag, label them with your N-number and call it good.

I originally wanted to make NACA covers that would fit the profile of the vent.  But that was proving too difficult.  So I fashioned a 1" thick block and cut a slit in the middle to accept the skin.  The block then just slides into place with the slit accepting the skin, like a tab-and-slot on a cereal box.

I got a whole lot of foam left over.  My friend with an RV-9A will use this to make his plugs.

28 April 2018

Maintenance: Oil change 2.

Second oil change at 35 hours.  The first was at 12.6 hours.  Everything with the oil, filter and screen were fine.  It's nice not to have any surprises with those.

I found a few tiny leaks in the oil return lines.  See below.  I snugged the hose clamps up a bit and will see how they look at the next oil change.

The starter released a bunch of grease onto the snorkel.  Below is where the bottom of the starter meets the snorkel.   I'll keep an eye on things.  Update 20-May-18:  The starter failed at 43 hours.

I found a tiny fuel leak on VA-168 Sender Mount at the F 1/8 Pipe Plug.  I disconnected the three items on that part of the sender and thoroughly cleaned out the Form-A-Gasket being very careful not to contaminate the fuel lines.  I reinstalled everything and instead used high temperature thread sealant suitable for fuel.

The FF-00076 Sniffle Line Bracket was again broken.  It broke before the first oil change too.  I guess it can't accommodate the twisting of the engine on start?  I replaced it again with a slightly different orientation.  I'm not convinced it's even needed.  I'll check in with Van's before next my oil change.

I replaced the Adel clamp holding the aft end of the sniffle line with a MS21919DG9 since the DG10 wasn't holding it tight enough to prevent leakage where the FF-00082A Sniffle Line hose and FF-000083 Sniffle Line Extension mate (maybe my flare wasn't a good one).  Below shows the area from page 49-18.

If you look closely, you can see that the original DG10 clamp is a bit loose.  The DG9 offers a tighter fit.

Here's what the leak causes on the U-01013B Wheel Fairing Rear (back of nose wheel fairing).