Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Family trips

 I think using the plane to go snowboarding with my boys is about the ultimate fun thing. My boys are both hardcore nerds and I can't convince them to ditch school, so we left late afternoon on a Friday over MLK weekend and made it up just before sunset despite having to hold over Donner lake so IFR traffic could get out.  Now before anyone says "yeah but what about the door to door time"...  well, yeh but what fun would that be... for another, shhhh, don't spoil it man!  It was a holiday weekend heading up on a Friday and back on Monday so it would have been 7 hours each way driving in nightmare traffic, plus probably 2 super charger stops...  at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it! (and I gotta justify the expense of owning an airplane somehow!) 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Headset Redux

Haven't seen a pirep on this headset so I thought I'd chime in, just in case anyone else is considering the $895 DC One-X headset with bluetooth, which is David Clark's answer to the Bose A-20 and Lightspeed Zulu3. This is the first time in about 25 years I bought a David Clark headset, and I think it's my new favorite. When I started flying David Clark's were the bees knees, a defacto standard. Everyone had them. They were the king of the crop. 
When active noise canceling came along David Clark fell off the chart. Back then I bought one of the firsts, a light speed 30-3G... that huge heavy blue one. It wasn't more comfortable to wear than the DC's but of course noise canceling is a game changer. The DC's went to the passenger seat and I never touched a set again until now. David Clark was slow to adapt to the noise canceling revolution and eventually got lapped by Bose and Lightspeed. The BoseX came out and also the Lightspeed Zulu and I bought both. Between those two I preferred the Zulu because it just felt more substantial and the BoseX cups didn't quite fit over my ears. Over time Bose and Lightspeed evolved their offerings and I bought the Zulu 2/3 and then settled in with Bose A-20's as my go-to. The A-20's are spendy but a great headset. I also tried the in-ear headsets like the QT halo but I decided I just don't like sticking things in my ears. 
Yesterday I tried out the One-X on nearly 2 hours of flying and I really like it. It's lighter and more comfy on the ears and on the head. It folds up nice and super duper small. I'd say the the noise canceling is just a tad not as good/strong as the A20's, but it's lighter and more comfy and the audio sound quality is better. It's very light on head with no measurable pressure on the crown of your head. The auto-shutoff feature works better which should save some batteries. The audio controls are digital and precise, and can be turned up much louder than the Bose. Also something about the classic green of the DC's goes well with my vintage Twin Bonanza. I think I'll get another set for the flight bag because they fold up so small and light. Overall I think they're great. If I had to stack rank my headsets in order of preference, I'd say at the moment it's DC One-X, Bose A-20, Lightspeed Zulu 3.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Aspen Fixed

Update: my max is replaced. Hopefully will have better luck with the new one. My avionics guy says they are very reliable, they are a good company to work with and in his opinion they don't fail any more often than Garmin.  Well my last one was certainly reliable, it went 7 years with no issues.  I do like the unit, the max is easier on the eyes for sure, and smoother.  I asked about the failure mode and he said he wasn't sure but when he described it to Aspen they seemed to know exactly what he was talking about. I wonder if I got one of the old Max units maybe with the old software? Anyways fingers crossed.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Aspen fail

 Unfortunately my brand new Aspen Max failed with less than 10 hours on it. The failure mode was concerning too, the unit just powered itself down to a black screen. After a minute or so, it booted itself up again, aligned itself, then shut itself down again. It did this a few times and eventually just gave up to a dead black screen. If it's a power issue, it should give a warning and run on the battery. If it's like an ADC failure or pitot etc, it should red X the affected items. This thing is a lot of functions in one box and for it to just suddenly decide to shut itself down to a black screen of death without warning is unacceptable in my opinion. It's also making me totally rethink my panel strategy, at a minimum I now want another backup HSI. We've had a ton of very widespread fog lately which often means the only way down is a low approach. Without my Aspen I have no CDI.

Also ATC reported they lost my mode C, presumably the Aspen is providing altitude info to the GTX-345 transponder.  Since I'm under the modeC (and ADSB) veil, I am basically AOG (aircraft on ground / grounded).  I'll probably change that to a Garmin blind encoder.  Fortunately Aspen was responsive to my avionics shop and sent a replacement, so hopefully will get this resolved soon.  In the mean time I had to take the PC12 on my Thanksgiving trip to Borrego Springs.  Oh well, #firstworldproblems   It actually worked out great because the turbulence (as usual) was fierce through Banning and the PC12 made it quick and easy.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Aspen Max

I updated to the Aspen Max on the Oshkosh deal. It’s really the same unit but snappier response and better resolution. It’s brighter and clearer. I also already had the SVT and the Max now comes with it, but it’s quite a bit better now with the increased resolution. Had an o-dark-thirty departure into a thin OVC the other day and decided I really like the unit, it's a big improvement but hard to put my finger on why... it's just nicer to look at, clearer and smoother. Overall I’d say worth it at 3k, seems like a good piece of kit.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Annual time

Another year another annual.  No major squawks but it was time to overhaul the mags since the engines now have 550 hrs on them.  A few of those crap champion plugs had cracked the ceramic case so I just went ahead and replaced them all with Unison plugs.  I replaced all the augmenter blankets with new and made some slight tweaks to the rigging and now the trims are all perfectly centered up.  

Overall the plane is remarkably reliable and easy to maintain for a 60 year old twin.  I've been pretty much skating between annuals.  The Baron required far more non scheduled maintenance...  I'm knocking on wood right now.

Compressions were great.

L/E  1-76, 2-76, 3-78, 4-76, 5-78, 6-74  
R/E 1-78, 2-78, 3-76, 4-78, 5-78, 6-74

Sunday, June 13, 2021

NOS fuel panel

 Got my NOS (new old stock) fuel panel installed.  The wood panel just didn't jive with my new sidewalls, so I found these brand new replacements on eBay.  I think it looks great now.  Here is the before and after: