Jan 09 2010

A New Year

It is the beginning of a new year. 2010. How does one say that these days? Is it ” Two Thousand Ten” or is it  “Twenty Ten” ?

My pronouncement would be Twenty Ten, since the only reason we called the 20th decade as ” TWO THOUSAND AND ##” is because of the movie “2001, A Space Odyssey”. The naming of the movie influenced the entire next decade of yearly naming conventions.  Can you imagine calling 2004 a “twenty oh four”.   No, it is only because of this movie this decade was different.

Well, I am finally back to work on the plane. The last time I physically worked on the plane was on 27 Nov.  For the month of Dec, I worked exclusively on the wiring diagrams of the plane.  When I finished on 30 Dec, I had put in 132 hrs of drafting time.   That’s about 25 hr with the holidays.  I ended up with 35 pages of drawings and a half completed spreadsheet (it will be filled in as I wire the plane).

I decided to document the wiring in a similar way to my Toyota Truck Wiring Book is written. The drawings are broken down by systems like charging, starting, lights, com panel, etc.  

This way if there is a problem with something electrical, it will be very easy to trouble shoot JUST that system. A light doesn’t work, it will be easy to see at a glance the entire lighting system without trying to dig out the wires of interest amongst other unrelated wire on a schematic.  It is a MAJOR PITA to document everything this way and a little more difficult to wire but the effort was definitely worth it.

Now that the really hard part is done, the wiring plan, I can start back on finishing the things necessary to get me to the point of wiring. The engine is next. I want composite baffles on the plane instead of the aluminum type for more ridge baffles and better sealing of the cooling air. The currently installed baffles have massive air leaks around the perimeter.

Lots of red RTV is on the old baffles.

Composite baffles are more time consuming to make, but the advantages are perfect sealing of the engine, no cracking and you can do compound curved to attach the flexible baffles to. The extra effort creates is the best possible seal. We need the best possible cooling for the extra HP this engine is going to generate (estimated at 195 hp from a IO-320).  The baffles will look a little strange, as it will be comprised of both composite and fiberglass but it is best to match each material to it’s unique physical properties.

Here is the bottom engine baffles.   

They were re-imagined in composites.  The form is foam and the glass is lay-ed out in order of use.

The part is vacuumed down to the table after coating with epoxy. 

Carbon sure does look good when you are done and uncover your work.   I’ll uncover the rest of the part tomorrow after the epoxy has had a chance to get a little harder.

Nov 19 2009

Panels are done!

I completed a quite a few items the last couple of days….  the instrument panel cover, the passenger foot rest/storage area, and the panels for the arm rests.

After presenting Pat with 8 different options, he chose this shape for the pilot arm rest area.  More cushion than needed but it is for the overall effect he wants to achieve with the plane.

Finished panel weight 8 oz. 

Stbd side.

Back seat.

Today work was started on making a O2 bottle support bracket and installing the fire control system bottle.

This was an AWWWwww SHIT today.  The cable which activates the fire suppression system is too short so it is necessary to make some sort of adaptor to lengthen the cable.   A simple tube with bushing seemed the way to go.   Good….done…   Well when I looked at routing the new cable in the plane, I f0und you can not use this method as it will not fit through a hole in the instrument panel.  I need to have a way of attaching/detaching the extention cable from the main cable.   Tomorrow, I’ll remove it and start again. I personally would use halon for fires not foam….

Nov 16 2009

Arm rests

Work started back on the plane.   I finished the cover for the belly board motor.    It came out nice.  Today it was glassed to the foot rest.

The instument cover actually came out better than I expected.  The carbon graphite is incredibly stiff and it made a really nice cover.  I like the rounded look of the carbon weave. 

The cover is going to be clear coated which will make the carbon really stand out.  It will end up looking great!

I tried lighting it with the LED strip light which fits under the lip of the panel.   The lighting is nice and even.

This is the plan for the arm rest.  Typically I like to rest my arms in the strake opening.  The sharp edge of the stake is very uncomfortable on the elbow, and it occurred to me to pad not only the flat surface but some of the strake area too.    After glassing the panel it will be covered and RTV to the plane.   I use RTV in my plane to hold my arm rests which has worked out very well over the years. 

Stbd side.

Port side


Nov 11 2009

Instrument panel cover

Today was spent working on interior panels again….  Pat wants a cover for the belly board electric motor.  I’ll show pictures of that tomorrow.  The eye brow cover for the instrument panel was also worked on.  It turns out it is actually quite complex to make due to the curvature of the canopy and the desire for a lip to hide the LED lighting.   

First, foam was glued to the face of the instrument panel.  Two thicknesses of foam was used to get the necessary thickness and the green foam allows the radius to be easily judged for consistency.


Some cardboard was placed forward of the panel and expanding foam was poured into this area and the canopy was closed.  After the foam expands and sets a perfect image of the inside of the canopy will be formed.  it will be easy to then sand the foam to a pleasing shape and glass with carbon graphite.

After using pour foam and closing the canopy, I had an exact impression of the canopy which could be sanded to make the support form of the instrument cover.


After sanding to shape.

Taped, waxed and ready for glassing.

Nov 09 2009

Extra Storage Area

I was out of town this weekend.  Flew up to PA to visit Mom and fix her TIVO.  The trip was GREAT and my average speed was about 190 mph.  Cant beat that!  The OAT got down to 27 F at 8000 ft and Tweety’s oil heat system worked great!   The toes got just a little cold, but I wasnt even wearing a jacket, just a light shirt.   The main problem is getting enough air to the nose of the plane from the heat core installed under the back seat.  I will probably rip out the SCAT tubing I used (hate the stuff) and make some fiberglass tubes to reduce the head loss in the system like in pPod. 

With pPods nose installed oil cooler and tight sealing of the nose area to reduce drafts, the plane should easily be good down to 10 F or less.  I have never flown below 15 F so we should be good for just about any flying.  Since the plane will be delivered this winter, I’ll have a chance to really test it out.

Today was spent mostly preparing for glassing.  I didn’t like the match up of lines on the STBD panel from the old to the new, so I added some glass to the existing installed arm rest.

Also glassed was the insulated cover cover for the wheel well.  Insulating the wheel well is very important to keep the heat in during the winter.  You can actually feel the heat being sucked out of you when you are straddling the WW on a very cold flight.  The WW is only 3 layers of glass so it does almost nothing to keep the heat where it belongs… in the plane.

The openings for the rear foot rest were cut and springs installed to let them ‘snap’ shut.  I tried sitting in the plane the the foot support is very good.   I really like the extra storage and may add them to Tweety.

There is actually quite a lot of storage space in them.  I plan to put the ELT in the smaller side.  I want a cover for the actuator so it cant be seen. 

All edges of the doors were filled with micro.  I think is a very easy step and makes the panels look much better.  It also keeps the foam on the panels from ripping off the glass over the years of abuse and allows for a slight rounding of the edges to soften them a bit.   A very important step in my book.

Nov 02 2009

Drip Rails part 3

Today was spent entirely spent working on the drip rails.  After sanding, the back one came out beautifully.  The front one has issues.    As it was being sanded and shaped, I wanted to see  if the instrument panel would still properly fit.

SHIT!  The funky shape of the canopy caused the seal area to dip way down which now interferes with the installation of the instrument panel.  I would have to trim and cut off the corners of the instrument panel which is totally unacceptable.   Doing so would work but it would ruin the look of the panel.   I had to step back, re-evaluate the whole thing and come up with a different game plan.  The drip rail needs to be installed no further than the pilot side of F-22 to achieve the right look.

A second seal was placed in micro, and the canopy closed.  Tomorrow, I’ll see how it looks and how hard it is to dig the seal out of the micro.   The thing I really like about fiber-glassing, is I could always cut everything out and start over again if necessary.   I hope that option is not necessary.   The strap around the plane holds the canopy tightly closed while the micro is curing.

Oct 28 2009

Drip rail fun

It looked strange to see the canopy on the plane as I am working on the drip rails.  Almost looks like a real airplane again!

The front channeldrip rail received the first glassing step.  Tomorrow it will be bonded into the fuselage.

The aft drip rail is a REAL challenge.  When the Longez was first designed, no drip rail was included in the planes.  It was one of the improvements that evolved over time.  IF the plane  was under construction, the fore and aft drip rails would be very easy to install.   It is a real PITA to install one on a completed plane.   This is the second one I have installed and it is getting faster.  First a foam template of both the back and front of the opening needed to be constructed.  The foam panel was made with locator sticks protruding so I could pull the foam off the fuselage and move it to the canopy  to scribe a line so I could get an idea of where the canopy sat in relation to the fuselage.  They were built separately so there was quite and offset between the two parts.

Once the opening was cut out and covered with release tape it was glued to the fuselage so glass could be layed up on it.

Everything is now bonded to the fuselage of the plane.  The hard part is tomorrow when I have to get into the plane, close the canopy and sand the rail down until I get the proper clearance with the canopy closed. 

5.4 hrs worked.

Oct 27 2009

Front Seat Vent

Work was stared on the drip rails.  Normal when someone builds these planes these rails are constructed early in the process.  The also allows for the installation of a weather seal which prevents rain from coming in the plane when parked or when flying.   I personally think they are critical as I have had rain puddled in the back seat, wet cushions, radio issues all from water coming in the plane before they were installed in my plane.    Unfortunately pPod does not have them  and fortunately, I have put them in my plane.

This first pictures show the installation of a 1/8″ thick foam channel which will allow the molding of a small channel for the weather seal.  This rail will require two lay ups.  The first is to mold the channel, the second is when the canopy is reinstalled and it is glassed to the forward part of the plane.

Work was completed on the installation of a front seat vent which is supplied by the 3″ NACA  inlet. 

A butter fly valve was also installed to increase airflow into the cabin.  It is actuated by a lever which goes through to the front seat for the pilot to open. 

Oct 26 2009

Panels part 2

When I opened my paper today, it was a surprised to see my the “Letter to the Editor” which was sent in about the flying saucer balloon stunt was published in the paper.    It also occurred to me if one builds a lighter than air craft,  the designer HAS to know the lift capacity, structural design, loading, etc, so the dad was pulling a scam from the beginning.  He knew the craft could never support the payload of his son.    No matter what his says, he is guilty!

Yesterday, I put a note on my canard group site about some fuel probes I made trying to judge interest from the community.  I have been trying to prompt Princeton into finishing the mods to the electronics module so I can get a set installed in pPod.   I figured if I got a huge number of builder/owners interested in using their system, Princeton might be more responsive to my requests and willing to work with me.    In less than 24 hrs I had over 40 emails wanting to buy some.   When I talked to Princeton this morning he really seemed to perk up a bit with the news!   I am sure the total will increase as soon as I post actual procedures for installation and prices since it really IS the only game in town…  Here is a picture of a production unit I made.   So easy to make a caveman can do it!

I am working hard at trying to compete all the panels in the plane.  I want to paint the interior next week.  Then I can start on the the fun part….wiring! 

This picture is the alternate air door which will be pilot controlled.  You can also see the pull strings  I installed in the foam core for the hidden wires for the iPod and cabin lighting.

The passenger LED light will be place where the clamp is holding the mount in place.  A soda straw was glassed in to the top of the strake to allow for a wire run to hide the wires.

The original STBD side panel also had to be extended down an inch or so to allow the front and rear panels to properly match up.

Tony and his dad (visiting from England) stopped by to get some lessons on molding parts.    Hard to believe his dad is 85.    It is amazing what living in a country with no sun (it rains constantly) will do for the health of ones skin.  He doesn’t look a day over 65!  His wife  (in her 80’s too) has no wrinkles and very healthy skin!

Oct 22 2009


This morning was spent putting a new (old) stereo in Sherman.  I had replace the original in the car for a new one which failed after two years.  I had saved the old one so it went back into the car.  This time I fabricated a 12 pin connector for the car wiring harness.  It will make it really easy replace this radio for a new HD radio with iPod input and Blue Tooth capability easier to do.  Eventually, I want to move up to more modern electronics.


Panels, panels, panels.   Today was a fund day of installing a bunch of panels in the plane.    My goal is to make this plane look close to a car!  I think new cars are a work of art.  Take a good look at a Volkswagen.  Their interiors are beautifully functional, efficient and crisp!    I love the refined, elegant and  luxurious nature of a Lexus.   

When you look at most canards they are wonderfully simple, very light weight, easy to build but unfortunately very basic.  Whenever I get into a nice car, I think why does my costly and major cool looking air plane look so utilitarian and well clunky on the inside.  Uncomfortable, cold, the rain drips comes in, hot, drafty.  Alas, the secret is out.  Tweety has a great looking body, but sort of plane a Jane on the inside (were it counts).    

Mygoal with pPod is to use wasted space and to transform her into something closer to the look and feel of a  ….well… and old 1981 Mercedes SD300 Turbo.  What a remarkable idea!   If it is good enough for Sherman, then it is should be good enough for pPod.   To do so I need cover panels….lots of them.

This is the back panel for the rear head rest and cover for the aft (main) battery.


This is the Starboard panel.  At the top will be the eyeball vent followed by the electronics input panel.  I will make a cover for the rear stick so when carrying baggage in the back seat there will be no possibility of interferingwith the flight control system.   Add a nice arm rest panel for a bit of elegance!


This is the Port panel.   A 12v dc outlet and a pocket (accessible from the front seat) will be installed for maps or possibly a new ebook reader.   Pat talked me into making a foot panel and cover for the electric actuator for the belly board.  The foot panels will also have some built in storage.


For those who dont know An eBook reader is you should check them out at Wikipedia.    Even a basic one could easily contain all the approach plates for the entire USA and Canada and plenty of extra room for other reading material.   One wouldnt have to carry so many books and weight for a LONG cross county trip (such as Charleston to Los Angles)  and ereaders are much easier to use.    You can get the approach files at NACOmatic.com .   What a great resource and are FREE and current!

 The only reason I dont buy an eBook reader right now is that in the next 3 months a whole slew of new eReaders are going to being released.  EBooksare the “new” must have technology.   Hell with the Apple iPhone, iTouch you NEED an eBook reader.      Amazon,  Barnes & Noble, Sony,  Freescale, PaperLogic and a host of others are all getting on the etrain and bringing out new and innovative ereaders.   The choices right now are slim and most lack even basic Internet capabilities.   The cost range will be about $150-$400.  A few standouts (Paper Logic) will be about $550 or so due to ‘advanced’ features.  

I am looking for something that will be close in size to a standard approach plate, has WiFi and can interact with the web (so I can do flight planing).  Has to have an SD card slot and support standard .pdf files.    By January 2010, all the first generation choices (black and white) will have been released to market place and a decision can be made.    I’ll have a new toy and the bird will lose a few pounds. 

Here are nine new ereader which will be coming out shortely.

I predict in a few years, ebook readers will morf into a ebook ereader netbook with full Internet capabilities using a color touch screen.  The main difference between an ebook and a computer will be the inability to load programs to create content independent of the web.   The ebook will be able to open and read any format document (with appropriate plug-ins), annotate documents (pdf markup touch screen), display static color pictures (since the electronic ink does not easily change states) and finally get on line (WiFi) and interact with on line programs.  This will reduce the processing power needed on netbook ereader since all the processing and storage will be done on the web (Cloud Computing).     Technology is changing once again to something new and exciting!