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Time: 6 Hours
All along during my build I was planning on using a portable attitude indicator from Dynon Avionics called a D-3. This device is around 3” x 3” and 1” thick. It’s portable and powered by an internal battery. The purpose for this was to be a tie breaker. I have two Dynon screens each with their own computer that produces the attitude display. The computers can run either screen and provide redundancy. Say one of them failed and was only producing a picture of a climbing left turn for example with the airplane actually flying straight and level. The system is smart enough to say to the pilot that the two items, in this case the attitude, are showing different things. So you hit one button and both displays pop up side by side for you to examine which allows you to disable the faulty one. But how do you know which one is right? Well you could use several things to help you determine that…say the turning picture was the correct one you would expect to see the heading indication change as you turn. The altitude would change as well if you were in a climbing turn. Those items take the brain a bit of time to register and decipher what is going on. So to hep expedite the issue you can have a third independent system that you can use to compare. The D-3 was going to fill that job but at Sun N Fun I looked at the Uavionix AV-30 system and was real impressed. This is not a portable system and needs to be wired for power and have the airspeed tubing, pitot, attached. The instrument fits in a 3 1/8” hole and provides everything that the Dynon does all in a compact design. So I ordered one from Aircraft Spruce and started the process of how to run my limes.
First up was to determine the routing for the pitot line. I would run a T off of the line that comes from the left wing and run it forward along the center section through an existing hole and up through the right hand gear tower. This will provide the required airspeed indication. This would also require another line to run to the static line in the tailcone. The airspeed is displayed as the difference in static air pressure vs air pressure at the tip of the pitot tube under the left wing. As the airplane moves faster the pressure increases compared to the static pressure and indicates a faster airspeed. I didn’t want to run a line for the static all the way back so I will use the air pressure behind the instrument panel for the static source. This will likely cause a slight difference in indicated airspeed as that static pressure will differ from the aft tailcone one. Not a big deal and I might be able to adjust that in the system as a correction factor.
I printed a full size photo of the instrument to see how it will look. I will place it centered on the panel just below the 10” screen. It looks a little off as the instruments are all placers for how they look when powered on.
Once I had the pitot line roughly run and was sure I could get it from point A to B to my liking I started on the electrical. My my setup I’m going to run the power from the fuse block in my battery compartment rather than to the Vertical Power box. This will allow the AV-30 to run right of the battery, as long as the battery master is on, regardless of what’s happening to the Vertical Power system. The AV-30 only needs a power and ground input and optionally can add a audio output, a GPS input and outside air input. I’m only going with the power and ground as I’m only using this as a backup/emergency system. It uses shielded 22g wire that grounds the shield to the back shell of the connector. The back shell is also grounded to the airframe within 8”.
Now that the pitot line was run behind the panel and the electrical part run I started to hole cutting in the instrument panel. I removed all the connectors from the electronics behind the panel and removed the panel from the plane. I knew the fit would be tight so I measure several times to make sure I had it right. I borrowed the hole punch designed specifically for this procedure from my buddy Glenn. With all the measurements done I drilled a pilot hole with a 5/8” drill bit. This allows the centering bolt to go through the panel and allows the other half of the punch to be bolted on. I used a file to enlarge the 5/8” hole to get the punch to line up just perfect. Once satisfied with the position in tightened the nut a little which causes it to “bite” into the metal and securing it in position. I then secured the panel in the padded vise and slowly tightened the the bolt/nut until it punched through. This thing made a perfect and clean hole right where I wanted. Glenn also let me borrow the screw hole jig which you use after you punch the hole. It has ridges that sit inside the just punched hole and all you have to do is square up the jig and drill the four holes. I cleaned up the inside edge of the hole as the punch leaves a little burr. I scratched the paint a little so I decided I will sand it all and put a new coat of paint on it.
As the paint was drying I plugged the AV-30 in to test the electrical connections. I also plugged in the pitot line and did a syringe pressure test on the pitot tube to make sure there were no leaks and the I had airspeed indication. After the paint was dry I installed the avionics back into the panel. I put the panel back in its place and reconnected all of the cables.
I turned on the master switch and wow it looks great!
This instrument has a lot of options to configure and will make a great stand alone item or a backup to my main screens.
Now time to fly!
Our first big cross county flight of 2021! We both had time off so we decided to fly to Lakeland Florida for the annual Sun N Fun fly-in. Like many other events of 2020 this was canceled due to COVID. Our trip started on Monday flying from our home airport Poplar Grove IL (C77) to Jasper GA (KJZP). The stop in Jasper got us some cheap fuel and great BBQ at the world famous Bub-Ba-Q.
This is a nice small airport just north of Atlanta with a great staff and a free crew car. The next leg was from Jasper GA to St. Augustine FL (KSGJ) for our overnight. We both had been here before and love the fun vibe this town has. We stayed down on the bay front at the Pirate Haus Inn, a fun little hostel style hotel right in the middle of the restaurant and bar area. We had a great seafood dinner at Harry’s and enjoyed the fun city that night.
The next morning we ate a nice breakfast at the Maple Street Biscuit Co., highly recommend that place. While at breakfast we went over the arrival procedures one more time for the flight into Sun n Fun. This arrival like OshKosh have several ground references you need to be aware of and direction of flight when reaching said points. Air traffic control works from remote stands and visually identifies each airplane. They communicate via radio but you don’t talk back unless requested to do so. We finished up breakfast and bribed one of the guys working table clean up to give us a ride to the airport for $40. What we have found was that rental cars are a rare thing nowadays apparently the companies sold many of the cars during the pandemic and now have a shortage. Uber wasn’t available as the amount of drivers has also shrunk. After arriving at the airport and fueling up the RV we made a quick departure out of St. Augustine. The trips south took us west a ways to avoid some restricted airspace then straight south. We stayed low at 1500′ above the ground all the way down. As you get closer to the airport the amount of arriving traffic increases a lot. Tricia and I both had our heads on a swivel looking for conflicts as we approached. The procedure is to fly to a power plant that is on the northern edge of lake Parker. From there you will be visually identified by ATC and asked to rock your wings as a confirmation that you are hearing them. They can either request you fly a circle around the lake in a holding pattern when its really busy or send you on your way to follow the outlined procedure. We were lucky that it was not that bad when we arrived and they sent us westbound. We got in line behind another aircraft and tucked up behind them at a 1/4 mile behind. Flying westbound your landmarks are to find I-4 and follow it southwest until you see a water tower that looks like a wedding cake just west of a golf course. Thats your cue to turn directly south and monitor the tower frequency. They will now call your turning points as you approach the runway. Unfortunately we wrote the frequency down wrong and didn’t hear any communications from them. Tricia scrambled and like a champ found the correct one off the paperwork and we got that plugged in to the radio. This isn’t that big of a deal as they are used to non radio aircraft flying in and would expect them to follow the procedures. If I broke that approach off and started flying in a different direction I would probably cause more issues. As we turned on the final leg they tell you what spot to land on, in our case they said welcome to Sun and Fun land on or after the orange dot. These dots, green then orange, allow them to break the runway, in our case 9 left which is normally a taxiway, into two runways where they can land several planes at once.
Once on the ground you use signs to let the ground personnel know where you want to go, in our case we were headed to the homebuilt aircraft camping and our sign said HBC to alert them. Tricia had a sign to hold up along the side of the canopy and I had one to put in the windshield.
Once you get to the area they direct you into your spot where you can shutdown and set up camp. Thats when all the pilots start heading over to look over your plane.
We setup camp and secured the RV. Camp consisted of all back packing gear which is compact and lightweight. We had a nice two person tent, two lightweight air mattresses, a sheet to lay on, two thermal down lightweight blankets, two pillows, two chairs, a table and a solar charger to power up all or devices.
So we were packed full and I didn’t bring anything extra like log books, builders log or other things that you might want for a airplane to be judged. For those reasons I wasn’t planning on having it judged here, this was just a fun trip and a way for us to start our flying travels. When we finished setting up camp a bunch of judges stopped by and along with Tricia pressured me into having it judged. I told them about not planning for this and not being prepared but they insisted. So off cam all the covers, and the cowl so that they could poke and pry every inch of the RV. Its a little nerve racking have people look over your work with a looking glass but it was fun talking all about my build. They did this on Tuesday that we arrived and all day on Wednesday.
It never fails whenever the guys see a pretty blonde we get a gold cart ride! If it was just me I would be walking all the way to camper registration to get our arm bands and permit for camping!
So we had a great time walking around, looking at planes and visiting with friends. Our plans were fluid and we knew that we needed to be flexible for weather. The plans needed to be changed a little and adjusted our schedule and planned our departure for Thursday to head Northeast to Savannah Georgia. Thursday morning we got up early to tear down camp and get all packed up before we showered and got ready for the departure. The process was a little easier than arrival and you just get in line and the only restriction was no turns after takeoff before reaching 3 miles away from the airport. The flight up to SAV was pretty uneventful other than it was lower clouds and overcast all the way. We got the plane all tied down and set for the overnight and we headed to the downtown area for a good meal and a bottle of wine. We did get out and explore the city just a little as SAV is a great walking city.
We spent the night and got an early start to the airport after having a nice breakfast at the Funky Brunch cafe.
The flight from Savanah took us through the Asheville area on our way up to Lebanon KY for a fuel stop. Lebanon is the head of the Bourbon trail in Kentucky and they have several tours according to the FBO manager Ryder. This was a great stop and I highly recommend them, super friendly and cheap fuel.
The trip was awesome and we had a great time for our first BIG cross country. We found our setup with gear and luggage to be perfect. It definitely helps to have a great traveling partner who likes to fly! We got home an unpacked everything and laid out all the gear so that we could clean and dry everything from camping.
We got a nice surprise in the mail a few days later too!
Now that we are in the season of doing some cross country overnight trips I needed to think about protecting Man O’ War while it sits on the ramp. I already had a cover made a few years ago from Bruce’s Covers. The last piece I needed was cowl plugs. These do just as their name suggest and plug the two big holes to the right and left of the propellor. They keep things like birds and any other debris that would make its way into you engine compartment area. The process was simple enough to order them. They request good measurements and high definition photos to make the fit perfect. With that information they get to work and in a few weeks you end up with a great set of plugs that include a feather tying them together, two flags so that you can visibly see them from the cockpit and personalized N-number on both of them.