Oct 05 2011

Day 6… Stuck in Greeley

Today was a total disappointment for me.

Lee and I headed out to the airport about 10 am to get started on the plane with the new Lightspeed ignition system.

It didn’t take long at all to install it, the plane started and tested fine so I took it up for a short test flight. Boy, am I glad I did!

The bird ran great, I was doing 189 kts in downwind, the autopilot was working better than ever and everything seem to be 100%.

I shut it down and noticed a strange yet familiar smell which I thought it MUST be due to all the paving work going on at the airport, but I was a bit concerned. When I started the plane up again, sure enough I found the NEW ignition system had also stopped working too…. shit what now.

Off goes the cowls, out comes the ignition module, off comes the cover and I found it had burned out in almost exactly the same place as the first one. This time a TINY little $0.10 resistor. Hum, this is a trend which hopefully will point to a cause.


Up to this the point I have put 40 hrs on the bird with no problems at all so I knew it had to be something really out of the ordinary….

I called Lightspeed up again, REALLY apprehensive about talking to Klaus about burning up his brand new loaner unit, steeling myself for a major butt chewing. I must say, Klaus dropped what he was doing, and with the new information helped me diagnose the probable cause without getting on my case at all. He was very helpful and concerned! A pleasant surprise.

We think the failures was due to a bad ground. Sure enough I found one of the push on connectors was not TIGHTLY gripping the post so it may have forced the unit to find an alternative ground though the case, into the firewall and ?? He feels the bad grounding is the cause and was willing to ship another new unit out to me install. Wow, that was easier than I expected.

This tiny 1/4″ push on connector caused all my problems.

After going to the local Avionics shop, I was able to secure some supplies and rewire the ground per Klaus’s recommendations. The plane is now ready to be put back together after the new module arrives tomorrow at ????

Lee and I grabbed the module and head home


Time for a nice italian dinner, and a quite relaxing, evening at his place.

The plan now is to balance the prop tomorrow while waiting for the FEDEX and test fly again. This time I am going to stay up for an hour or so make sure all is well. Lee has to work, so I’ll be at the airport keeping Don company.

If all goes well, I hope to continue my trip to Salt Lake City on Friday…..

Oct 05 2011

Day 5… Maintenance Day (aviation circle jerk)

Today was spent working on the bird. Most of the work was easy to take care of but time consuming. This is turning out to be a great shake down cruise.

Replace the Trio autopilot. I had inadvertently installed a A/P with old beta test software in it (I did a lot of development testing for Trio) and it was acting a bit flaky. They sent me a loaner overnight with the latest production software installed. What a great company. The dash had to come apart, but it gave Lee a chance to check out the wiring…fixed


Number 1 EGT probe was working but intermittent. I tracked it down to a connector that needed to be snugged up…fixed.


The lighting system need to be modified. I had hooked up a micro-switch wrong so the Aero LED lights weren’t functioning quite like I wanted…fixed.


Finally. the Lightspeed ignition was removed from the plane. It involve taking off some panels and a bit of interference, but it quickly came apart. When I built the plane, I was concerned about future maintainability so most everything can be easily taken out for repairs.


After pulling the cover of the electronics module, I found a power diode had split in half . This is why I had the burning smell and why the fuse did not blow. Interesting. I’ll be sending it back to the company for repairs as it is a very easy fix.

What an interesting day. Lee worked on Don’s plane (fixing a radio issue), I worked on Pat’s plane, Don worked on Lee’s plane. An aviation circle jerk.


I could go no further so Lee and I took off for home to see if UPS delivered the new ignition system and dinner. Ya!!! the system arrived. It’s late in the day and we are going out for dinner and margaritas, and home for a bottle of wine and some stories. The wine was gift from Ed and Sue Richards who gave it to me at RR for me giving them a prop after their plane hit a turtle on their runway on take off. It was HUGE, almost 18″ across. About like hitting a bolder with the plane. The turtle broke the nose wheel off, which went through the propeller breaking part of a blade off. The poor guy was eventually found with a big hole in it’s shell. I told Ed he should have saved it and mounted the shell and the prop on his hangar wall… unfortunately he had thrown it away. What a story….

Alcohol, aviation and good friends make for great stories.