Feb 27 2011

Lighting Logic Controller

I finished installing the rotary switch circuit board into the panel and completed populating the parts onto the lighting logic controller circuit board I designed for the planes lighting system.  Overall, I am really pleased at how well it all turned out.  Exactly as I had envisioned the end product.

On the panel, LED’s shine into tiny light tubes embedded in the panel which directs the light to the front illuminating the switch position selection.  The switch position overall LED’s brightness is controlled by the panel dimmer.

The design purpose of this rotary switch is to reduce the overall number of switches on the panel.  I combined 8 toggles switches to 1 rotary selector.   The picture above indicates the “Start” position, which is the most dangerous to ground personnel, so when selected, the beeper, wig wag lights, strobes, belly strobe all turn on at once.    Maximum awareness… “Warning Will Robinson”

After the engine start up, the selection is, “Taxi” which would be the next expected action.  When selected the beeper and all strobes turn off,  the taxi/landing/wing belly beacon activate.  When you get to the end of the runway one selects “Day Landing”  (and takeoff) and so forth through the different regimes of flight such as  “Day” flight, “Night Landing” (and take), “Night Flight” and lastly flying in the “Clouds” (at night).    Each position activates the desired combination of lights.

A long time ago I was always amazed at how complex an aircraft instrument panel looked.  Lots of switches and breakers.  Why?   Now look at a fine car, there is none of that sh*t.   I think the modern car turn signal stalk is a work of design/engineering art.  Think about it it…. it turns you wipers of in all sorts of modes and speeds, has a button to wash the windshield, selects the Hi/Lo beams, flashes a car in the daytime  AND activates your turn signals.   So cool.

When I was a kid my dad was amazed when our VW came with a turn signal which had a little button button on the back side to FLASH the high beams.  I think it was a German thing for the Audubon to indicate you wanted to pass someone.  What a long way the simple turn signal switch has come.

Since the pilot ALWAYS activates (or should activate) a combination of light for best positional awareness for other planes, and for different types of flights, then why not build something which “automates” the process.   Why not simply the panel if I could?

The lighting logic controller is a simple relay board with diode isolators.  You can add/change the light combinations by changing diodes.  Sort of like programing a simple computer.   There are 8 relays each rated at 10 amp / circuit.  A 12 pin plug on the board mates into the plane’s lighting wiring.   I added a yellow LED light for each relay to show when it is activated to allow me to bench test the board.

If you would like to see how the circuit works, click on this link:  Logic board controller


Feb 25 2011

Back to work again

Work has started back on the plane.  I am starting to install all the harnesses I built. 

Here is a rats nest of wires.  All my buddies are amazed that I can keep track of the the wires. 

The wire runs look good when installed in the plane.

This is my first attempt ever at making a circuit board which will be used for the lighting control system.  After designing it in Acad, I put a mask on the copper circuit board and used acid to etch away the unneeded copper.    I am amazed at how great it turned out.  I think I might try making a circuit board for the waste vegetable computer I make for my car. 

Next I’ll drill the board, and add the components needed to make my lighting system functional.

Feb 20 2011

Trip to Miami

Friday, I flew back to Charleston and immediately after returning on Saturday morning, Tony and I flew down to Miami to check out another Mercedes I found on craigs list.  

It is another 1999 Mercedes, E300 Turbo Diesel.  The owner held the car for me while I went skiing.   This one had 50,000 miles less than the my first one I purchased two weeks ago.   The only difference between the two cars is this one has tan leather (in absolutely perfect condition) and the first one had gray leather AND there is less rust on the the body.  

There are a number of little items I have to get checked out when I get it back to Charleston.   There seems to be a rough idle, the trunk opener doesn’t work from inside the car and both rear windows are non-functional.  Most of the stuff is easy enough to fix. 

After buying the car and leaving Tony behind to spend the weekend in Miami visiting buddys and drive it back up to Charleston, I few up to visit Jerry in Tampa.

After spending a great day visiting with Jerry and Debbie, I spent the night in the “Elvis Room” and early Sunday morning it was off to visit with Ed and Sue just north of Tampa and a quick flight back home.

Feb 17 2011

Last day of skiing

Last night some moose made the rounds in the parking lot and licked all the cars.  Apparently they like the road salt which collect on the cars in the winter.  All the cars in the in lot were ‘attacked’.

This is the last day (Thursday) of skiing for us.  We woke to 4 inches of fresh snow!  What a great way to end the trip.

The ski areas were just beautiful.

Driving was a bit of a challenge for me as it has been a long time since I have experienced lots of snow.

This is the condo where I spent the week.

I was a bit worried about driving over the pass to get back to the interstate, but as it turned out, I didnt have any issues at all and made really good time back to the airport for the flight back to Charleston. 

Feb 15 2011

Gold mine

After skiing for two days, I wanted to do something different today.  I decided to drive back over the pass to Idaho Spring, Co.

Idaho Springs was famous for the discovery of gold in the 1800’s.  A big tourist draw is Argo Gold Mine.    Construction begin in 1893 of the Argo Tunnel which took 17 years before it would reach Central City, over 4.5 miles away. The tunnel would provide water drainage, ventilation and economical transportation of the gold bearing ore from the many mines it would intersect along the way.

The Argo Mill was constructed to process the gold bearing ore from these mines.  Now it is just is a tourist spot with lots of really cool old equipment outside

A tunnel train.

Some really old equipment.

Unfortrunately, the freaking place was wasnt open!  I knocked on the door but the gentlemen who met me said they were having sewer problems and the place was closed.  Shit.

A quick visit to the town, a Starbucks coffee and I was ready to drive back to the condo.  Bummer.

Feb 14 2011

Climbing to the top of the mountain

Today was a great day skiing…

I climbed to the top of the highest point of Winter Park.  It was a bit of a tough hike as the air is very thin at this altitude.

In the distance I can see Fraser Co (where we are staying) which is 12 miles away.

The snow is a bit sparse here as the wind blows most of it off. 

The highest point at the ski area, 12, 063 Ft

Feb 11 2011

Skiing at Winter Park, Co

Friday,  I flew to Denver to do some skiing and get away from Charleston in a NON-aviation vacation.  I had a great time and some terrific memories! 

Flying into Denver was a real treat.  I have read about the fabric roof on the main terminal but had never seen it.  What a great design!   Of coarse the engineer in me had to check out the support columns, stress points, tensioning systems, etc.  I just cant help myself.

The highlight of my trip was getting up early on Saturday morning for a 3 hr drive from Winter Park to Greeley Colorado where Lee Devlin lives.  It is a beautiful drive over a mountain pass and through the city of Denver.

Although there was snow on the ground, the temperature of Greeley was in the 60’s.  It was amazing how comfortable it was.  Lee has the most incredible house with a huge solar panel on the roof.  Lee told me he hasn’t paid an electric bill in over 2 years. 

Of coarse we had to visit his project to see how it is going.  Nice work Lee.

A great meal at a TexMex restaurant, lots of margaritas Saturday evening, and early Sunday morning it is back to Winter Park to prepare for skiing on Monday.

Feb 08 2011

Lots of wiring!

I have been hard at working building harnesses. I believe I am now up to about 10 of them.  You know the funny thing is the wiring is fairly easy, but keeping track of all the wires (documentation) is turning out to be a major PITA.  I now know why most people do not have wiring diagrams of their airplane.  It is just too difficult to keep everything up. 

The wiring bundles on the floor. 

More to make before I can start installing them in the plane….

Feb 04 2011

1999 Mercedes E300 Turbo Diesel (#1)

I finally made the decision to buy a new Mercedes to replace my trusty old 1981 diesel.  I was getting tired of the creaks and groans of a 30 year old car.  Besides,  I wanted to be sure I had lots of safety features a any car I was driving.  I figured since I am retired and on the gov. dole,  I wanted make sure I have every opportunity to live a long, LONG life to get my more than fair share from Uncle Sam coffers.

I started looking on Craigs List specifically for a 1999 E300 Turbo Diesel since it is the absolutely last model I could buy which could still be converted to cooking oil.  I finally found one in Crystal River, Florida which was at the right price point and condition.  It had 249,000 miles and appeared to be in fairly good shape.  The interior and body was in terrific condition.  I talked the owner into holding it for me long enough for the weather to clear as I knew it would quickly sell.

Tony and I flew down to Florida, I checked the car out and bought it on the spot.  Tony drove it home on Wednesday.  The car wasnt driven at all on Thursday.  On Friday, after getting new tires, and on the way to the DMV, it caught fire and was totally destroyed.  I had a total of 18 miles driving it during the 2 days I owned i.    What fun it was driving it!  The acceleration was just fantastic!

I had flames coming from the center console to the ceiling.  Amazing!  Diesels are not noted for catching fire.   As I told the fireman, “that was the quickest $6000 I have every lost….except for the stock market!”  He asked if I had insurance….  I think I did as I had called USAA prior to the purchase and discussed it with them, but had not called to confirm the purchase…..

Totally trashed….   Can you imagine, I was driving the car with flames shooting up the windshield!

Fortunately, USAA said the car is covered completely!  They paid for all my costs so I am not out any money.

I have started my search on Craigs list once again for another 1999 Mercedes.

Feb 03 2011

Battery Monitor

Today I finished up the battery monitor system.    It is a tiny circuit to monitor the battery and lets you know if you have a dead cell or if (when you are flying on backup battery power) when the voltage of the circuit is less hits 11 v.  By this point the battery is just about dead.

Three of them have been made to monitor the aft, forward and emergency extention batteries.  When activated a blinking red LED light on the dash notifies the pilot.

A little heat shrink and they are nicely protected.  They are all interchangeable if necessary.