Always More to Learn

Stereo plug in a stereo jack - all contacts hit where they should
Stereo plug in a stereo jack - all contacts hit where they should

I love solving problems--it is just hard to find the time to work on the little ones. I have been wiring avionics for more than three decades, and I have wired audio panels in both stereo and mono more times than I can count. I've used just about every headset you can think of, and I have used stereo headsets in mono airplanes, and mono headsets in stereo ships. It usually works out, but sometimes, you just have this little problem that won't go away. Continue reading "Always More to Learn"

RST Engineering Looking for Beta Testers

Jim Weir, long-time Kitplanes columnist and founder of RST Engineering (the copper tape antenna folks) is looking for a few BUILDERS who would like to join a focus group for their planned electronics/avionics products. They would like to get everybody from electronic engineers with 50 years experience to folks who have trouble changing the batteries in their flashlights, and all in between levels.

Continue reading "RST Engineering Looking for Beta Testers"

What's in the Box?

Today, as part of a class taught by Gary Reeves (of on how to master the Avidyne IFD 440/540 IFR navigators, we paid a visit to Avidyne Avionics' facility in Melbourne, Florida. There, we got to see exactly what is inside the box—in this case, the box of a 540 sent in for an upgrade and checkout. The answer, as you can see from this picture, is a whole lot of very tightly packed electronics. Continue reading "What's in the Box?"

Belite Submits Patent for Revolutionary Inline Water Detection System for Fuel Systems

Belite Aircraft's patent pending fuel-sensor chip can detect liquid water in a fuel line before an engine coughs.

Belite Aircraft of Wichita, Kansas, announced the development of a 6 gram digital chip and probe combination sensor designed to detect liquid water in an aircraft fuel system.

Jim Wiebe, president and CEO of Belite Aircraft, introduced the product at Sun n Fun 2011. The circuit chip, with a tiny probe attached, is poised to revolutionize the safety factor of flight by setting off an audio or visual alarm in the cockpit if the presence of liquid water is detected in the fuel system in-line to the cylinders while the engine is operating.

Continue reading "Belite Submits Patent for Revolutionary Inline Water Detection System for Fuel Systems"

Friday at the Golden West Fly In

Friday's attendance at Golden West was small, only about 30% of last year's Saturday attendance. But then I didn't see last year's Friday, so here's hoping that it's up today.

Two Harriers and two F/A-18s gave a good show, as always, and you had to keep one eye on the sky for the frequent fly-by of something out of the ordinary including a U-2 and a C-130.

The real interest on the ground, though, was the number of LSAs being shown. There were quite a few new and interesting aircraft even though the on-the-wheels versions were all in the $120,000 range. That's still too pricey for my pocket and, probably, a lot of others' given the news from Wall Street et al.

If civil aviation is to avoid becoming un-civil, the path will be led by the homebuilders.

The expansion of computers and glass got a boost with the display by Vertical Power. Where the market is nearing glut-stage vis-à-vis flight instruments, Vertical Power is looking inward to examine the health of the aircraft. The display goes beyond listing the voltage in each circuit; it starts by displaying a check list tailored to each portion of the flight and, similarly, displays the appropriate system. For instance, when starting the engine, oil pressure and rpm take the fore. Taxi mode puts those away and displays cylinder head temperature. Takeoff mode brings up manifold pressure.

Similarly, all the electrical parameters are displayed with diagnostics and alarms that certified aircraft can only dream of.

What the customer receives is a package consisting of a display and a black box (it's actually red) weighing only about 5 pounds. While not entirely plug and play, it does make the installation substantially easier in that the circuit protection is entirely within the system and is all solid state.

If you're at that stage of building where the fear of wires is looming large, surf on over to Vertical Power to take a close look.

Also of interest, even if you're not scratchbuilding, is the display by Stewart Systems. They're showing a method for both covering a fabric aircraft and then painting it. No stitching for the former and no smell for the latter make this an especially easy procedure.

We'll be testing this paint in an upcoming issue of KITPLANES.