Winter Project: Flight Simulator

Dolly and I have reduced our flight time this winter as Covid damped our enthusiasm for eating out.  Result: Fewer hundred dollar hamburgers and a new flight simulator.

I have been thinking about a flight sim for several years.  Dolly was a real motivator for getting the project started.  She loves to fly with me yet has not wanted to learn to fly or touch the controls.  When she said she wanted to try a simulator that kicked off the start of the build.

The sim sits in a space between the two halves of our China cabinet that used to house an old (2001) 52″ projection TV.  We hardly ever watch television anymore.  I avoid uncontrolled advertising and keep up to date via the internet.

The sim has three 27″ monitors that display scenery and the cockpit above the glare shield.  Below the scenery screens are two ~16″ touch screens showing Garmin G1000 Primary and Multi-function Flight Displays.  Mounted between them is Dolly’s old IPad that displays a Garmin 305 autopilot control head.  My IPad is on the right displaying instrument approach charts.  Finally, there are rudder pedals on the floor and a Thrustmaster Joystick on the desk.

All of these components communicate with the computer on the floor.  It has one terabyte solid state memory and a Nvidia 3080 graphics card. Those three blue lights are cooling fans. Software housed on the machine includes XPlane and Microsoft Flight Simulators. 

The four touch screens make the sim close to the Garmin glass touch panel instruments in our RV7.  The flight sim community is heavy into developing new sim instruments.  I hope to soon see a radio and GPS navigator like the real instruments.

Obviously the flight sim is not used 24/7.  However, the computer has all the bells and whistles necessary to make it a good bitcoin miner … but that’s another story.

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Twenty two seconds of our day

 

Today, Dolly packed a nice lunch for us to eat during our two hour kyack paddle on the Homosassa River. (Where’s the Advil???) I took a wrong turn and instead of going to the Springs went past several waterside restaurants. We decided our food would keep; paddled back to the rental dock; drove to a restaurant; and enjoyed “Chowda”, hush puppies, fried grouper and cokes. It was great!

Social distanced of course. The breeze was coming at us from the river.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Brunch

Brunch Today

Dolly and I flew down to Sebring this morning and had brunch on the restaurant porch with the Old Farts Flying Club.  The club is an informal organization run by Roger Brown who maintains an Email list and chooses an airport restaurant for lunch each winter season Thursday.  He follows up with a newsletter including photos of participants and their planes.

Today’s weather – strong crosswinds – reduced the attendance.  Before Covid I’ve seen fifty to seventy planes fly in.  Today we social distanced and masked.  Dolly and I arrived early and picked an upwind table.  The food, omelet and pancakes was delicious.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Ignition Wire Guards

Considering there has been no formal advertising, sales of the aircraft Ignition Wire Guards is growing nicely just by word of mouth.

Until now, the only DKFL product available has been Guards for amateur built aircraft having four cylinder engines with automotive eight millimeter diameter ignition wires.

Currently the store is building inventory of Guards for five millimeter diameter ignition cables used with Slick and Bendix magnetos.  Also, the product line is being expanded to include Guards for six cylinder engines in Amateur Built aircraft.  They will be available in six colors to blend with engine or air baffle colors.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Our 3D Printer Station

 

Today I finally organized the area where the aircraft Ignition Wire Guards and other parts are printed.  The overhead filament spool rack is new.  The 1/2″ PVC plumbing tube is sagging a bit under the weight of the filament.  I may insert a metal rod reinforcement.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Our Hydroponics Lab

Its a ten gallon recirculating system currently holding two 60 day old bell pepper plants.  The tray has a 3D printed bell siphon with about a 15 minute fill/empty cycle that changes the water level by 1.5 inches.

The peppers have much larger leaves than those growing in our tower, and there are no insects eating holes in the leaves as did those in backyard milk bottles.  There is some red algae growing inside the sunlight exposed nutrient recirculating tubes.  Next winter I’ll use black vinyl.

No sign of blossoms yet.  We have hope.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sterile Masks?

Worst Case:  We are going to be in this for a long time, so be prepared.  The mask-in-stores requirement will go on for months as the ramp up for the second wave occurs next fall.

Dolly and I have a handful of N95 shop masks left over from building the airplane.  They have been used during trips to grocery stores, etc.  We expect them to become contaminated, and they get set aside after one day’s use.

I found DIY advice on building a UV-C sterilizer on YouTube.  The sterilizer uses a 30 watt Phillips UV-C bulb available online.

Note: UV-C is the far (short wavelength) end of the ultraviolet spectrum.  Brief exposure is said to cause eye damage and skin cancer.  It’s not the UV-A/B ultraviolet spectrum used to light up fluorescent materials.  The light intensity will sterilize anything in the box in five minutes.

Dolly contributed the wooden box which was made some time ago by her late husband Al’s uncle Edsel.  I wrapped Reynolds foil around quarter inch foam board and stuffed it onto all interior surfaces of the box.  The shiny foil ensures the light is reflected onto all surfaces of anything in the box.

Masks are held for sterilization on 3D printed frames.  Each frame is composed of five parts that snap together solidly.  Lucky we have a printer!  I found the design for the frame on a medical website.

Family and friends who need masks sterilized are welcome to use the box.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

No more lost pencils?

Pilots flying under instrument flight rules (IFR) make a practice of recording instructions from air traffic control (ATC), usually with pencil and paper.  Pity the poor pilot who lost their pencil to the cabin floor and can’t retrieve it because the seat belt and shoulder harness are tight and the plane is flying through turbulence while ATC is issuing an amended route clearance.

With a 3D printer and idled hands I made a solution for Van’s RV aircraft. 

The blue double ended thingy sturdily clips onto both the plane control stick and standard sized pencils.

I’ve started giving them to other fumble fingered pilots.

You know who you are.  Just ask the next time we see each other.

For RV deprived pilot friends, I also have a version that clips onto standard aviation chromalloy 3/4″ tubeing.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

200 Knot Club

In the world of Van’s RV Homebuilt Aircraft there is an event known as “joining the 200 knot club”.  It’s for aircraft that have surpassed 200kts (230mph) groundspeed in level cruise flight.  By far the majority of Van’s RVs have a top speed in level cruise around 175 kts or 200 mph.  So a pretty good tailwind is required.

Thursday 4/7 on a flight retrieving N50KB from Michigan to Florida we (I and the plane) joined the club.  Click on the photos to see the detail.  What a ride!

There was a 72 kt tailwind component at 14,500 ft msl. That plus the 143 kt full throttle (59% power) true airspeed pushed and pulled us at 215 kts over the ground.

215 kts

9.9 gallons per hour.  24.9 miles per gallon. Hooah!!!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Face Masks

Rowan University engineering and medical students have developed a prototype for a durable, lightweight, reusable face mask to augment the supply of face masks during the current shortage…”

“The prototype provides two components: a contoured mask and filter housing. No special tools are needed for assembly. The replaceable nonwoven filter materials recommended for the filter housing are widely available. Users will supply and install the elastic or cord.

The mask can be printed in three sizes, all with the same size filter housing. The contoured mask may be more closely molded to the user’s face by submerging the edges in hot water and pressing it to reform the shape against the face.”

A link to the Rowan website.

The website has detailed instructions for printing and using the masks.

I have printed several of the masks in both polylactic acid (PLA) and acrylonitriel/butadiene/styrene (ABS) plastic.  Dolly and I have each tried the masks.  Of the three sizes, we prefer the small . When printed in PLA the mask can be softened in hot 140 deg. F water and then molded to the face for a perfect fit.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email