Sunday, January 29, 2023

Load test (and Ospreys made by frickin' laser beams)

 Lack of posts does not denote lack of progress. 


Yup, that will hold ~220# without tipping over. Although the entire load will sit another 2' out. Maybe I better add another couple sandbags, just to be sure....


Grrr.. Oh well. Another reason to make panel #??. AFTER she's flying. 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Smoke check: Good

 Powered up the basics, no fancy electronics, just as if she was a steam gauge airplane. One glitch we'll be troubleshooting, but the smoke stayed in.

Still a long way to go, but.....

Friday, April 22, 2022

Paying it back

Time for the annual trek to Sun 'n Fun, paying it back to everyone who got me here. Behind the Rope Line, a Day in the Life at Sun 'n Fun Air Ops.

For the last several years I've been working in the Air Boss Tower, trying to anticipate problems and take a load off Air Boss George Kline. I had been thinking about becoming an Air Boss, but decided against it when I weighed the time required vs my spare time, and I have no regrets. 

Years ago I had trained my backup, LAFFR, who I knew was impatiently chomping at the bit, wondering when the old f---- was going to retire. For some reason, after Tuesday's show I decided I had had enough, and it was time to hand it off. It was a great call. I knew I was burned out, wasn't having fun anymore, and it was Joe's turn.


And I went back to working hard, being a line dog.


An airshow visitor might go for the planes, but for those of us who volunteer our time, it's about the people. Seeing everyone year after year, accomplishing tasks together and making the show run, talking about it later over dinner, it's why we do it.

It's about talking to Thunderbird 8 and seeing him going nuts over a dog after a long time on the road...

or escorting some parents out to see their daughter in her F-18 for the very first time. She'll always be their little girl.


Yeah, we had some shit weather, but nothing like 2011. 


A common joke in Air Ops is seeing people come down from Oshkosh to observe us and hearing "That's not how we do it at Oshkosh." While we cooperate and many people volunteer at both shows, there's also a good natured rivalry between the shows. This year I decided to take some inspiration from Chuck Jones and had some stickers made up. 

I will neither confirm nor deny the many places they turned up, but always with the permission of any aircraft owner. I can't show you the really cool ones, but we had fun, and they are legendary. (The EAA booth crew kept finding and taking them off, no matter how creative/sneaky we tried to zap them.)

I didn't know Sun 'n Fun's new boss was from Oshkosh, but he was a great sport about it,

even posing with our Ops Shack poster and his family.

Pilots are cool but without mechanics and ground crew, they're nothing. Thanks to the Thunderbirds ground crew for taking a few minutes at the end of the Sunday show. ThunderShaka!!

And this was something we had done a few years ago, and got to do again. Sun 'n Fun claimed the highest, fastest, and quietest flyby in airshow history when the International Space Station flew by during the night airshow, 254 miles up (Flight Level 13,411) at a speed of 17,500 mph.

Just as the SOCOM jumpers landed the station flew over, and talented photographer Erik Kuna caught it. 

 Sun 'n Fun claims the record!!!

 Pics proved it DID happen

A poignant note, a key member of our Air Ops team missed the show, he's still deployed overseas. Miss you, Booger.

I'm getting better at making panels



The hardest part of the new rudder blocks was removing the old nylon ones. The Dremel tended to catch in the nylon and could quickly spin out of control, so it was cut a trial of patience to cut them out a little at a time. 

Worth it to finally have them done, and the nose reassembled. 

Another thing to undo was removing unneeded carpet from the avionics area, there's a reason for that we'll get to later. Long hours tediously scraping carpet glue off with a few cutting blades, no other way to do it since the glue would heat up and quickly gum up sandpaper.

After that came running the extra wires for the wig-wag landing lights, something I hemmed and hawed about when Jim built my harness. Word to the wise, just include a few spare wires when you build your harness. Yeah, it's weight, but it's worth it. Tying off the wires also cut the hell out of my hands, but I found another use for duct tape. 

Since I now had to make so many tieoffs I decided it was time to open up one of the windows to make it easier to get to the  harness as it comes up behind the turtledeck arch.Big step to open her up like that.

The avionics tray got nutplated. 

And it was time to cut another panel. This is the 3rd metal one (groan), but I've learned so much from the others.  I am NOT doing it 1,000 times. At least, I hope I won't have to. 

One thing I realized from misalignment of the others was that I had assumed the blanks were cut square, but the were probably not. This time I made sure. 

And cutting commenced.

The Dynon also got nutplates.

One thing on the previous panels that always bugged me was How was I going to repair any wiring problems in the densely crowded area under the radio that contained the backup fuel pump switch, flap selector, gear lights and selector, and gear CB? Sure I was planning to make them removable, but getting to some of them,especially the upper gear lights, was going to be a pain.

So I've decided to make it a removable sub-panel. I could easily make it an overlapping panel that would sit on top of the main panel, but because I like to make things as difficult as I can on myself, I'm going to try to make it sit flush. THAT should add a couple months to the build!


But we're on the right track. Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Say Ahhhh.....

 Wiring is all finished but new harnesses had to be ordered from Fast Stack, that will take a couple months so it's time to do the rudder block AD and replace the nylon ones with some beautifully machined ones from another SeaRey builder. Fortunately, all I had to do was disconnect the two side braces, loosen the bolts on the bottom tubes, and undo the front bulkhead mounting screws. 

My HiD lights were something that always bothered me, if you turned them off they needed a cooldown period before you could restart them, and they sucked electrons. The guys next door put 2x 200w 5000k lights in their hangar and I was impressed, so I ordered 4x of the 200w 4000k lights and reflectors.


I'll never use them enough to make up the for cost vs the HiDs, but one of the HiDs was going bad and needed to be replaced, so it had to be done.

The light is... different. I got more sideways light off the HiDs that bounced off the upper corners of the hangar, but the light from these are "cleaner", if that makes any sense. I probably should have ordered the frosted reflectors, there's a bit of glare from the clear plastic reflectors, and they're bright as hell if you happen to look up at them, but if I didn't know there was an option I'd be happy with these. If I have an opportunity I might take down the bottom lens and hit it with a light coat of spray paint to take the edge off.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Friday, February 26, 2021

Hooking up

It's easy to build something, but when they need to be repaired, that's another. I've been a bit obsessive about figuring out how to make wires easily disconnectable, I thought I had the problem licked when I discovered dsub connectors, but then I field (hangar?) tested it by sitting in the cockpit and trying to removed them, and it was a mess.

Luckily, a RV pilot on VAF tipped me off about the Molex Microfit 3.0 connectors, the same one Dynon uses on the backup battery connector. The good people at Mouser sell these, and pre-crimped wire leads, too. Perfect for trim relays, among other things. Gives me practice using a multimeter for a continuity check, too.

Unfortunately, they were still too big for the Oznium LED alert lights. Scratching my head, I went back to my model airplane roots and dug up these 2 wire power connectors that are good up to 3A, more than enough for the warning LEDs, and they fit through the screw on nuts perfectly. 

I also slightly rearranged the order of the warning lights to match the switches on the panel. Note the original LEDs that I love on the bottom row that turned out to be too bright, and the ones we;re using temporarily mounted across the top. Of course, since the new lights have a smaller opening... I could have filled the bigger holes with mud and redrilled them, but there are a couple other mods I want to make to the panel (tell you about them later), so I'll make another, final (yeah right), panel.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Fitting the fin (aka, Just gimme the damn chainsaw!)

After painting I was in a mental block about going back to the wiring, so I decided to hang the stabs and take a look. While I was at it, I decided to fit the fin fairing, which turned into a more involved project than I anticipated, especially when I realized that the lineup would influence the handling of Osp. If the fairing was misaligned, she'd tend to yaw one way or another. Sure, I can fix it via the rudder trim tab, but, y'know.

Snap a chalk line from the pylon to the fin leading edge, then rivet the fairing mounting bracket.

I had been guessing where the fairing should go, finally I realized there was no exact measurements, let the parts tell me, and roughly outlined how much to be trimmed with blue tape.

I kept trying to sand the inside of the fairing by hand but it was so rough and there was so much to remove there was no way I was going to do it by hand. Great idea from the internet, a drum sander from Harbor Freight Aircraft Supply and an extender wand made quick work. Had to be VERY careful though, I nearly went through the side a couple times. 

I kept trying to make a perfect fit, but after examining other builders and thinking about it, I realized a perfect fit meant having a gap for flexibility. Once I realized that I put the ultra-fine Dremel sanding disc away, got the ultra-fine chainsaw out, and carefully made her fit.

Fairing fitted, I was able to mount and trim the stab brackets. They've since been powder coated white and look beautiful.