Thursday, September 14, 2017

Small improvements

Other than install the IFD550 and 540, I've done little to the plane other than change the oil a few times.  It takes some time to get to know a plane and figure out what you want to do with it, and so I've gathered a small list of small things to make her better.  First up, SVT and AOA on the Aspen!



AOA still needs the calibration flight and I'm looking forward to doing that and getting it working.  I still need to update the GDL-69A software to get that working with the IFD... but I have no clue how to do it and neither does the avionics shop.  Apparently you're supposed to update it through your GNS-530 and I no longer have one.  I suppose I should have updated before swapping the units, but I didn't know that!  Maybe Avidyne knows..   Another thing to do is wire the JPI-760 to the IFD to use the fuel calculation functions.  Enough of avionics.  On to the engines...


Yuck... cork rocker cover gaskets.  Those won't do...  so I ordered silicon ones from GeeBee.  



The valve covers came off and I used a scotch bright to clean up the metal and remove the stuck bits of cork.  It cleaned off the jug really quick, but cleaning the cover itself was another story.  I had to scrub it for an hour to get it totally clean and cork residue free.



Two down, ten to go!  Took me 2.5 hrs to do two...   makes me wonder if it's worth just dropping some dough on engine bling and going with new chrome plated valve covers.  Hmm..   Also have some plans to clean up the metal exhaust shroud and make that shine.  Otherwise its looking good in there.  

Love working on the T-bone.

Monday, August 21, 2017

La Paz

Had a great little trip down to La Paz Mexico which is just north of Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of the Baja pennisula.  We went with two families, and it's 1050NM so I decided to leave the T-bone at home and take the Pilatus.  Tough love!  I was slightly trepidatious about going to La Paz because it's on the US State Dept watch list for drug crime/murder...  but we never felt the slightest bit unsafe.  It's all Mexican families having a good time.  It was dry and hot but an easy flight and they were very accommodating.  Just make sure to file your EAPIS and it's definitely a bit easier to go IFR.













  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Float mania


I took a family trip up to Alaska.  We did a cruise so I didn't fly us up there, but man was it cool seeing all the float planes.  I really got a bug to do the float rating now!  The video above was from the deck of the ship.  There are so many cool little GA float planes flying around up there it's ridiculous.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Way to go Idaho

Had a great trip to McCall Idaho to attend a big BBQ pig roast my buddy puts on.  The more I go to Idaho, the more I love it there.   We departed out of Concord VFR and headed GPS direct straight to McCall airport KMYL.  You need to cross the Sierra Nevada mountain range so flying high is a good idea.  Winds were smooth and no major bumps at 11.5 so I leveled out there.  Once you cross the big rocks you're over the Nevada desert and we crossed Black Rock desert and noticed it's actually still flooded from all the rains last winter.  There is about a 50 mile stretch where I lost ATC due to radar coverage.  Total flight was 3 hrs exactly with a minor detour to fly over the lake.  My Twin Bonanza does about 165 kts in cruise so the flight would be about the same time in our 182RG.  

So awesome that in less time than it would take to drive to Tahoe I can load up the airplane and be in Idaho.  Not that Tahoe isn't beautiful too, but Idaho is pristine, cheap and reminds me of Tahoe 30 years ago.  Magical!

The flight back brought some big headwinds and continuous moderate turbulence at 12,500 ft.  The return flight added about 30 minutes to the flight time, but 3:30 still isn't bad and we still made it home in time for lunch and faster than we would have on the airlines.
















Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mr Avionics Shop

Yowza, these IFDs are RAD. I did the install myself, no issues. The guide that comes with it walks you through it step by step. I think I could do it now in < 10m. I went out for a little test flight this morning and I was amazed, everything *mostly* just worked right out of the box. Even the AHRS is perfectly aligned. How did they do that? 

As for the *mostly*. It's not reading my GDL-69A. Apparently I need to update it to the latest firmware 4.1..  need to be an avionics shop to do that part. Also I couldn't get the boxes to go into track up... they seem stuck in North up. I went to the user settings in the aux page and set it track up but still showing north up. RTFM!  You need to press in on the right knob and change the map orientation.  Duh.

I've got some learning to do to master these suckers but overall it's an awesome addition to the panel at a great price considering my G530w trade-ins and the free ADSB deal.  15k for a 1090ES transponder, 978 UAT ADSB-In, an IFD 550 with built in AHRS and synthetic vision as well as a backup IFD 540.  That's a lot of avionics for the scratch!  Of course I had two 530w's to trade in which are probably worth 8k each.  But the big deal for me was no downtime!  Of course, I need to have a shop install the ADSB stuff and upgrade my GDL69A firmware, but I'm guessing that's a 1 or 2 day project at most.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Garmin guy goes Avidyne

My partners wanted out of the Citabria and so we sold it.  Consequently I had a wad of cash burning a hole in my pocket.  Rather than doing something responsible with it, like put it in the kids college fund, I figured I'd waste it on the airplane and buy some stuff for the T-bone.  Why not!!  I've always, always been a Garmin guy... I'm even a freakin shareholder.  I love Garmin stuff.  But...

The new Avidyne units look really cool.  The IFD 550 has a built in AHRS which would make a nice backup for my Aspen.  I thought about just adding a flight stream 210 to my Garmin 530's, but that would be $1500 at least and an install job.  Besides, the G530's just look ancient at this point.  It's like viewing a CGA display.  For a few grand more I could have a brand new Avidyne unit as an upgrade, with modern technology, hi resolution touchscreen, and a factory warranty.  Truth be told if Garmin had come out with a new G500/600 I'd probably have bought it and ripped apart my panel and done a big new Garmin install with dual 750's etc.  But alas... they left me hanging with their last uninspiring announcement of new audio panels and a bunch of cool stuff for the experimental guys.  I really don't want to spend big bucks for a G600 that already looks ancient by experimental standards.  I might as well look at other options...

The other big factor that weighed into this decision was the fact that the IFD's come with a self install kit, and literally slide into an existing 530w tray.  Since I have dual 530's in my Twin Bonanza, this is about as easy an upgrade as you can imagine.  The thought of ripping out my beautifully laid out panel just bothers me... the IFD units are a slide in upgrade.  Hard to beat that, especially since I'm completely enamored with flying this plane and the thought of weeks of downtime for a GTN install just seems untenable... not to mention thousands more dollars.  So I ordered a new IFD550 and an IFD540 on a trade-in deal from AvionicsSource (Thanks Chase!!).  Add in an ADSB deal where Avidyne throws in a free 1090 ADSB transponder and UAT receiver and it was just too good a deal to pass up.  I'm looking forward to doing the self install and seeing how these suckers work in the real world.  I must admit, part of me just wants to learn something new and these things just look like a fun project to master.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

First family trip in the tbone

Well, the 2nd really. The first one was just a 35 minute jaunt so I'm not counting that one. This was a 2 hour flight each way down to Malibu where I got a crazy good weekend deal on an Airbnb on the hill overlooking the ocean.  The family of 4 plus Grandma with room to spare. I could do this mission in my former 55 Baron, but this was definitely a more comfortable trip with the load. When my boy asked for his iPad it was nice to simply say, "go get it from the back, and get me a beer while you're there". Just kidding about the beer part! Loving the twinbo. I'm finding flying her strangely addictive, nothing like it!