Nov 25 2018

Sweet Nutty Kale Salad

Personally, I never really liked any kale salad until tried this recipe at thanksgiving. I asked the cook for the basics of what was in it and came up with my own variation. It is simple and easy to make. A mix of kale, nuts and cheese with a sweet sugar free vinegar/oil dressing. Hope you like it.

Sweet Nutty Kale by Nick

This is truly a “put as much as you want” anything goes types of recipes. Add whatever in any amount. The exception is the oil/vinegar ratio in the dressing which is fixed in the chemistry of cooking. Its always a ration of 1:3. 1 part vinegar and 3 parts oil. Boom…

Kale Mix
1/2 Bag (16 oz) of chopped kale from the store Recommend chopping the kale up some as there may be some big pieces in it.
..starting amount.. 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
..starting amount.. 1/4 cup of pumpkin seed
..starting amount.. 1/8 cup of slivered almonds
..starting amount.. 1/3 cup Cranraisins (chopped)
..starting amount.. 1/4 cup Feta Cheese

Dressing… (basically just a balsamic type dressing)

In a mixing jar add the following….

– 3/4 Cup olive oil
– Dash of dijon mustard if you have any for a bit of tartness (it also helps bring the oil/vinegar together)
– 1/4 cup of vinegar. A mix of balsamic / apple cider / rice vinegar (my favorite) to taste.
***My mix is mostly balsamic and a little rice vinegar. Each one of these vinegars add a different character to the dressing.

Add to taste:
-Sugar free maple syrup.. whatever amount tickles your sweet tooth.
-Salt, pepper, garlic powder, or whatever spices you like

Shake the dressing jar vigorously and put as much as you want on the kale mix (start with 1/2 cup). Toss the salad and put in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the favors blend.

The leftover dressing does not need to be refrigerated and is perfect for your next salad.

Oct 16 2018

The journey has started

Today starts a new direction of my life….

I brought my Cozy project home from the airport and now it is time for me to finish it. I’ll be documenting all the work that is done on it for my builders log and to provide other builders with ideas. Mainly the documentation will help me remember what the heck I did in case someone asks in the future.

The plane has the following completed. The canard, the wings, the main fuselage. I’ll need to build a new nose, the turtle back, engine cowls and complete the installation of all the systems (heat, controls, wiring, engine, etc).

Overall, I am really excited about getting started. The work provides me with a singular focus to my work days and keeps me engaged with the latest technology. I really like having bigs project to complete and this is a hell of a big one.


Jan 19 2018

PMag Blast Tube

A requirement for a PMag installation is the addition of a blast tube on the base to assist in keeping the unit cool. Since PMag does not sell an adapter, it forced me grab some scissors and create a template. It took little time and is very light weight.

Here is two orientations I needed for both of my PMag.


Here is a very easy design to cut and bend the adaptor which insures the air is directed into the cooling grill on the bottom side of the unit.


After bending the metal (.015” AL) a tube was riveted on and all was sealed with a bit of RTV.



Jul 02 2017

Transponder Antenna Test Complete

Here is an update for the angular slot transponder antenna.

My second test was conducted at 1200 ft, 18 miles from Charleston International. At this distance and altitude ATC had no problem receiving my transponder squawk.

Finally, I today I returned from a 1.5 hr cross country trip at 7,000 ft with the goal again testing the plane on a real trip. Again, no issues or complaints from ATC. At one point I was 55 miles from the receiver again with no issue noted from ATC.

Although my current installation location ideal due to the fact it is in a small cardboard enclosure and just one foot in front of the existing ground plane which covers almost the entire bottom of the cabin it still seems to work perfectly. If anything, this would be a worst case installation, but it works.

I know this antenna will be the one I install in my next plane.

Next Up, I’ll connect a test antenna for ADS-B in the hell hole (again, the few places in the plane free of ground plane paint).

Jun 18 2017

Annular Slot Antenna

Yesterday I tried out a remarkable transponder/DME/ADS-b antenna I made. It is called an annular slot antenna. Very easy to build out of brass sheet stock. I never heard of this type of antenna. Apparently they are used extensively and most military aircraft use this type of antenna because they are no drag and totally flush on the surface.

Jack Wilhelmson told me about this antenna (he made one, but not tested) and gave me the drawings/materials, so I thought I would try making one for the plane.

Here is the fabrication drawing. Units are in MM, and be aware of the funny looking (European) “1” they look like a upside down V. If you look at the date of the drawing, you’ll see what I mean.

The write of of the antenna…

It was easy to solder it all together, and I had an extra BNC panel connector for the cable. It took about an hour to fabricate.


It is so simple to make I wondered if it would work at all given that it does not have a large ground plane, and is very weird looking.

To test the antenna, I temporarily ran a jumper cable from my existing transponder antenna location to the new antenna and went flying. At 3000 ft, I flew outbound from KCHS. At 25 miles, the transponder reply to ATC became intermittent. I was told by ATC that is about normal for most airplanes at that altitude which was very good initial test result in my mind. As soon as I banked around to return to the airport they immediately picked me back up again. So possibly, the signal was being shielded by the engine and the extensive ground planes installed in the aircraft.

I plan to leave the antenna connected in the plane for a while so I can test it on a real cross country flight to see if it performs as well as my existing external antenna. If it does, then I will definitely be using this design for my transponder/ads-b antennas in my future airplane. I would use it on my plane, but the entire bottom of the fuselage is painted with ground RF paint so I have to stick with my existing antennas.

This design will save a bunch of money, and I don’t have to worry about installing large ground planes for external antennas. Low drag transponder antennas are $80-$160 for a shark fin type. This one is no drag. One could hollow out the fuselage foam in the put a layer of glass to seal the foam and flush mount them on the interior of the plane and you would have no antenna exposer at all on the exterior.

Best of all you can build 2 of these antennas (for transponder and ADS-B) for about $25 with brass you can buy on amazon or a local hardware store. I am amazed I never heard of the design.

Here are some pictures of the build.

A BNC panel receptacle number 31-203-RFX about $4.00 Obtained at a local electronics store.


Trim off a bit of the unneeded insulator to help with the fabrication:

You could screw or rivet to hold the connector to the ground plane, I just soldered it.

After soldering on the center rib, you attach the side supports. A cleco makes it easier to hold the rib in place.


Attaching the electrode is easier if you pre-wet the areas with solder, then hold the pieces together to connect the parts. After the center electrode is done, solder the side supports to the ground plane.

Done! I used a piece of card board to make a small enclosure case to protect the element and for testing.

Oct 08 2016

Hurricane Matthew update

Well the hurricane was fairly intense with lots of rain and very strong winds. We had 9” of rain in less than 24 hours with a max windspeed of 85 mph at the airport. Actually, it wasn’t all that bad at ground level and the newscaster said it was a category 1 storm.

If this was a Cat 1, I would really hate to be in a category 4 storm. I can already see there are a bunch of things I need to do to prepare for the next big storm.

I did have some damage after all. The gently curved tree in which I used for hanging my freaking huge wind chime couldn’t handle the wind stress and came crashing down this morning. I really wouldn’t have cared that much, but it hit my fence and wood storage rack. I can’t complain because it is an easier fix than if the tree had hit my house. Other than a bunch of small limbs in the yard I came out fairly well.

Luckily, I didn’t loose power or internet at the house. Cant say the same for most of the neighbor, as a large tree took the power lines down for a large section of the neighborhood just down the street from my house. This tree was HUGE and probably 40” dia across at the base. They will need a crane to get out.


Here are a few shots of tree which came down in my yard….





Oct 07 2016

Hurricane Matthew

As of right now, Friday, 9 pm the weather in Charleston, SC hasn’t been too bad.  Lots of steady rain thorough out the day, since 1 pm.   I would say 10-25 knt winds.   

Hurricane Matthew  is located somewhere between Jacksonville FL and Savannah, GA.  The forecasters are still not sure if Matthew will pass east, slightly off the coast of Charleston or slowly turn out to sea resulting in a direct hit to Charleston with the eye wall.     The eye wall is where the winds are the strongest, don’t cha know.    

During 1989 Hurricane Hugo, the eye of the storm passed directly over my house in Charleston.  It was really creepy to have the winds blasting from the east, then dead calm for about a few minutes.   You could walk outside, no rain or clouds and the stars clearly visible.   Ten minutes later the winds were blasting from the west with the same intensity.  The two strong hits wind events, 180 degrees apart resulted in lots of damage   Needless to say, I hope this one stays off the coast.   

The real fun in Charleston will start about 2 am (tropical force winds).  At 5 am we will get the the real hurricane force winds (>74+ mph).    5 am – 7 pm will be the worst period for the storm.      

Fortunately, I live inland about 14 nm NW of the nearest coast line and am surrounded by dense tall woods on high lot with no chance of flooding.    When I built the house, I engineered it with the Hugo experience in mind, so I am actually a bit excited, eager but also apprehensive about the next few hours.   Sort of like your first flight in your home built airplane. How good are your building skills and will your survive the experience intact quickly races though your mind as the throttle is advanced.     

As far as my airplane, it is still safely tucked in my garage.    Talk about crazy good fortune….  

I have just completed a year long upgrade on the plane and had planned to take it to my hanger THIS weekend and reassemble it.    



I am glad the last minute delays of life kept the bird home a bit longer than I had planned.  My hanger at JZI is probably as old as I am and I dont have a lot of confidence it surviving a really bad storm. The only thing that matters at the airport is the wings and if they are damaged it is an easy repair, and heck and they needed to be repainted anyway.  No big deal.  

Time to close.  I still have power and internet and want to make of the most of modern technology watching Luke Cage on Netflix before being returned to the middle ages using candle light at night to read a paper book for entertainment.

Apr 11 2016

Building Tips: Finish Mounting Cans

Now that you have determined the position

Next cut a piece of angle (thin, purchased at Home Depot) with the short bases the width of the separators in your panel.


They will end up looking like this


here you can see if you shorten one leg, they will nest on top of each other for a very narrow stack. In my case the separation between the radios is about 1/4”. In this case there is no way to use a screw and nut on the bracket to the radio can. It will have to be riveted.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_284c7-2016-04-11-18-30.jpg UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_284c8-2016-04-11-18-30.jpg

Using the hole location on bracket calculated, mark a line on the bracket,


verify the location


insure it is square, mark, remove the bracket and rivet it to the can.


once it is the bracket is riveted to the can, you can clamp the can to the instrument panel, Put some heavy duct tape around the hole and insert your instrument to center in the instrument panel. The duct tape will protect the finish of your instrument.


with the radio in place, clamp the bracket to the panel and drill the mounting holes.


remove the can, install nut plates on the back side of the mounting brackets and reinstall. Then mount the can and check it out. Here you can see I added a strip of AL prior to drilling to simulate the mounting bracket which will be on the radio next to it since the brackets are nested together as shown above.


in my case, all instruments were level (perpendicular to the instrument panel) and within .010” of each other. A very easy install for a tight panel.



The final result. Nice….


Apr 05 2016

Building Tips: Mounting Radio Cans

The first time I mounted my radio cans resulted in a terrible job. It is hard to hold the cans perfectly aligned (horizontally, vertically and angularly), mark the hole and drill it for screw/nut.

Here you can see how far my first attempt was off. At the end of the can (where the wires attach) it was about 3/4” off. I decided to throw them out and start anew with a little thought as to the best way to do it.



The issue really is you want to mount the cans with a certain amount of exposure so all the cans stick out exactly the same amount and the are perfectly level and straight behind the instrument panel. I dont feel using screws on the cans is the answer. Yes, you can file the holes and make adjustments, but you CAN NOT do that if the radios are really close set. My radios are 3/8” distance apart. I can’t even rivet braces to the front panel and use nut plates and screws.

Here is the method I successfully used.

You’ll need a dial veneer caliper, Gorilla tape (nice and thick at .025”) , Alum angle (from Home depot), screws, nut plates and rivets.

File the top of your can hole and one side straight as reference lines. Using these sides as a references, file as needed the two remaining sides till the opening is about .040” bigger than your radio face plate.


Put strips of the gorilla tape on the edges of the holes. This will not only protect the expensive finish of the radio, but center the radio in the opening. File the hole till the radio fits nice and snug.

Drill holes in the instrument panel where you intend to put the mounting screws. I used a #XX drill for the clecos. I like to drill a minimum of 2 holes per radio or for a stack of radios I drill 3 holes.


Next stick a drill bit in the hole to measure the diameter of the hole.


Measure the distance from the face to the edge of the drill bit


Now decide on the amount of exposure you want on the radio. In my case I wanted .050” because my GRT EFIS has a 1/2” exposure.

Because of my narrow openings I had to stack the support brackets.

Location to drill the bracket rivet holes = (Exposure desired + panel thickness) – ((Hole dia/2) + distance from face to edge of hole)

For my Garmin GTR200 it is: (1/2” exposure + .090” panel) – ((.198” drill dia/2) + 1.088” from face of radio to edge of hole) = .597” distance from back of panel to center of the mounting hole

A quick spreadsheet and it is easy to determine the exact location of all the bracket mounting holes.


Now it is time to mount the brackets on the cans.

Apr 04 2016

Building Tips: Design/cutting an instrument panel

I have built a couple of instrument for canard aircraft and it is always a challenge. Especially for a LongEZ since panel space is a premium and the spacing between the radios.. Here are a few tips to help you with the process.

Here you can see where I created a space for the new instrument panel I had to plug a few instrument areas and mounted nut plates on the backside of the perimeter of the old panel. These nut plate will help you index the new panel templates.


I like using .090” 67061-T6 aluminum. It is easy to machine, stiff enough for the purpose and most importantly, most set backs (exposure ring) of the instruments is designed for a panel of this thickness. You’ll also need a basic computer drafting program (I use Auto-cad) which helps with the design of the panel and some basic hand tools such as a jig saw, drill, rotary grinder and band saw. That it!

Initially I start with a rough measurement of the panel space to layout out the design of the panel. Don’t worry about the perimeter edges of the panel. That will be done later.

With your basic instrument panel layout on the computer done, get a 4×8 sheet of 1/4” luan ply wood. Cut and trim it to fit in the panel space of your plane. It is much easy to shape, sand and grind to fit perfectly the the AL is. Trying to model the permitter of the panel on the computer is very difficult because our planes are all custom built and a waste of time.


Next step is now that you have the basic panel made, you need to index it to the plane. On this picture you can see two holes at the top and middle of the panel. This panel becomes your your “Master Template”. Transfer drill the alignment holes to the mounting flange. DO not drill permitter mounting holes at this time.

The master template allows you to easily make more copies as needed and it will always fit. The index holes allows you to always place the panel in the same location. It was fairly mark the holes on auto cad, then print 8×11 sheets of paper and glue it to the panel and drill the holes. You never change these hole locations as you modify your drawings or make new panels.

Next. Trace your new panel onto another sheet of luan, cut it out and drill it for your first working copy.

Now you finalize your instrument locations and test design. You can print out individual sheets of paper and glue and tape them to the panel or if you have a wide printer you can make one LARGE printout and glue it to the working copy. I did it both ways and they are equally accurate. Here is the printout glued to the wood for a first look at the layout.


Hum, will the cans fit and was sort to problems to I have going on behind the panel? Yep, I had a number of unseen issues. With a bandsaw you can easily cut the working panel out in a minute or two since you aren’t worried about destroying your ‘working’ panel.


Here you can see I am not even worrying about the perimeter or strength. Just plunge cutting with the band saw to open the holes up. You end up with a panel that has no real structural strength, but will allow you check the fit and feel with the cans lightly placed. LOTS of issues with my first draft.


This is the panel pasted together with individual pieces of paper. No strength, just hacked and cobbled together.

Mount the panel and test fit your instruments.



Now you have a good idea of interferences and problem areas. I needed to make all sorts of adjustments… such as switch location and vent locations (too high)…first iteration done. Back to the computer for to modify the drawing.

Throw this copy of the panel away, use your ‘master’ and make another copy of the panel as it only takes a couple of minutes to cut it out on the band saw.

Glue your updated paper templates to the new working panel, cut it out …this time I used a jig saw for a nicer panel to see if the radios were a better fit after being moved and they were. Now that I am reasonably happy with the layout, I used this wood copy to drill the perimeter mounting holes in the working copy and transferred them back to the master copy. Use the master copy to NOW drill the permitter holes.

Taking your ‘master panel’, you can trace it onto the aluminum panel and cut out. Transfer drill you holes into the AL. Now place the AL panel in the plane and using the holes as guides, drill all the holes around the perimeter of the panel into the mounting flange. Make your nut planes and flox them on to your mounting flange with screw through the panel. You now have your master panel cut in AL. Now you want to check your switch locations and any other problem areas before cutting up your nice Al work.

NOTE: What is cool about making your panel this way is you can quickly fine tune small sections of the panel. I was a bit unsure of exact locations of the vents opening (due to backside mountings nut plates and switch locations. You can quickly make test panels to how it works for you.

To check your locations, print out that section of the panel on a piece of paper, glue it to a scrap piece of wood, trim it if necessary, and transfer the mounting holes from the master panel to your working panel then test it.



Had to move the vent holes slight down.


Testing the switch distances and heights. Again, more adjustments….

You get the idea, I must have made half a dozen small test panels moving the instruments/switches,/holes slightly up, over, and apart, testing and looking and then correcting the locations on the computer. It is a terrific way of making sure the work you invest making your panel will work fit and be right the first time. Once and done.

This sounds like a bit of effort, but trust me, you dont want to make a mistake on a CNC cut panel because your switches are too close together, or you have some other crazy interference problem. It was very quick to to make the small test sections and test them.

Now you have a final design on the computer but there is just one more step needed prior to cutting it out.

When you mount the blank AL panel and check it with a straight edge, you will find it will probably be twisted slight but it definitely won’t be straight and flat due to the way the flange was installed. You will need to ‘bed’ the panel to make sure it stay straight when all the holes are cut out.

Wax the back of the aluminum, take some WET micro, put a small amount around the permitter and mounting holes, remount the panel and lightly fighting the screws to pull the panel down. Use a straight edge to make sure you pull it flat and straight squishing out the micro and let it cure. In some areas I had to use pieces of wood stir sticks to act as shims until the micro cured. The panel is now bedded and completely flat when the mounting screws are tightened. Yah!!


NOW you are now ready to cut the panel out. I think you can do it a number of ways. CNC, using a mill, or a jig saw (my choice). For this panel I used the jig saw first, then cleaned up the lines with a mill. Mostly the mill work was a waste of time.

The paper template protects the AL, and using a jig saw with a light touch will result in amazing straight lines. Center punch the holes for the switches and use a rotary grinder to open up the circles.

I ended up doing a lot of filing on openings anyway after I milled it to size them for the instruments (since each is slightly different), so milling the panel really wasn’t needed.


here you can see where I drilled the round holes with a lot of small holes to allow me to use the jig saw to open the circle up. Then using a air grinder with a rotary bit allowed for a reasonable accurate circle, then a 1/2 round final was used. A perfect hole for sure and overall, it took very little time to do. A sharp file cuts this grade of aluminum very quickly.


The panel is cut and ready to mount the radio cans. The cans presented a special problem due to the narrowness of the opening between the radios (3/8”). My first attempt to mount the cans turned out to be total crap as all the cans were not level nor straight and wiggled around a bit.

I threw the mounts out, spent some time thinking through the problems and came up with a much better mounting solution which resulted in the vertical alignment at the far end of the cans within 1/16” and the exact desired setback of all the radios to within .500” (+/- .25”) to match my GTR EFIS face place. Straight and level. All the guess work was eliminated and now they are firmly mounted with no movement. Nice.

My next post will detail this technique.