Garmin G5 Issue Resolved

I dropped by the hangar last night after our EAA meeting to try and further diagnose why the G5 wouldn’t power up. I called Stein on Saturday and he suggested pulling the backup battery, but I decided to just try powering it up again without changing anything. Low and behold, the unit powered up just fine! The backup battery was dead, so apparently it was keeping the unit in an odd state. A quick call back to SteinAir this morning confirmed that this is a known issue and Garmin has a fix on the way (if not already available).

Installed Garmin G5

I received my new Garmin G5, so it’s time to pull out the old TruTrak Gemini.

The G5 installation kit includes a clever mounting ring that attaches behind the hole using the standard instrument mounting holes and has a hole for an alignment pin at the top and a threaded hole at the bottom.

With the mounting ring installed, installing the G5 just takes a moment using a 3/32″ Allen key through the lower hole to secure the unit.

Fortunately, I had enough slack in the pitot and static tubing to connect to the new fittings. Even the wiring was pretty trivial as the d-sub connector that went to the Gemini had only four wires (power, ground, RS-232 in, and a dimmer connection). For my installation, I only needed the first three of these since the G5 has a photocell and provides automatic dimming. I did need to rearrange the other three wires and change the GTN-635 serial format, but that was all straightforward.

After doing the ground config and a vibration test, I shut down the plane to get ready for a quick test flight. Unfortunately, when I went to start the plane up again, the G5 wouldn’t power up. After diagnosing all of the connections and finding nothing wrong, I left for the day.

Test Fit Garmin G5

I’ve never been very happy with the TruTrak Gemini PFD. The AHRS is iffy and it would often show in incorrect attitude.

After seeing the Garmin G5 at Oshkosh and hearing how happy people were with them, I decided it was a good time to replace it with something better. I was pretty sure the G5 would fit, but I was concerned about it covering up the labels for the two push/pull cables below and whether the backup battery would interfere with the angled brace behind the panel. Fortunately, my buddy Greg had a G5 he hadn’t installed yet and he let me borrow it to confirm it would fit. Here I’m just holding the unit in the hole from the rear. You can see that it fits flush against the instrument panel, but does cover the labels below.

Though it’s tight, it does clear everything behind the panel!

From above, you can see that there’s nearly 1/4″ of clearance between the backup battery and the angled support.

Oshkosh 2018

I left for Oshkosh the Saturday before the show for a planned overnight stop in Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, I got a later start than I planned, so I didn’t end up leaving until early afternoon which put me right in the middle of the afternoon bumps and storms. Approaching the Sierras, it was clear I was going to have to dodge some buildups.

I brought oxygen, so I tried popping up to 17,500′ to get above them, but they still towered above me. The plane is pretty mushy at 17,500′ and the autopilot couldn’t keep the wings level, so I dropped back down to pick my way through.

Past the Sierras, I had mostly clear skies until a couple of hundred miles outside Salt Lake City. I normally fly through the two large restricted areas west of the city, but storms had that corridor completely blocked off. The air was smooth and I had a nice tailwind, so I didn’t mind the diversion around them to the north too much.

I got an early start the next morning and after dodging a few early morning storms, had no significant weather all the way to Oshkosh. Past my first fuel stop, I flew over a solid overcast for a couple of hundred miles, but it cleared out about an hour west of Oshkosh.

The arrival into the show was insane. I started listening to the arrival frequency about 100 miles out and it sounded like complete chaos. The controller was constantly chastising pilots for being too close together or not in single file. I heard the same chatter last year, but the arrival was empty when I got there, so I pressed on to take a look for myself. Not surprisingly, it hadn’t gotten any better and perhaps even got a little worse.

The controller was pretty clear that nobody should cross RIPON (the first fix on the arrival), so I entered the Green Lake hold to await improvement. Planes were everywhere and plenty of people were not at their assigned altitudes or airspeeds (1,800′ & 90kts or 2,300′ & 135kts). There were even a number of clueless pilots who flew right threw the hold, oblivious to all of the planes around them. The controller said to expect a wait time of about 30 minutes, but multiple people chimed in on the frequency that they had been holding for 2.5 hours or longer.

After a number of turns around Green Lake, there hadn’t been any reminders to not cross RIPON in quite awhile, so I proceeded up the tracks to FISKE, only to be told to start holding at Rush Lake; progress! They had shutdown 36L & 36R for some mass arrivals, so they were down to one runway and were asking for two miles in trail spacing on the arrival. Every time you tried to create this much spacing, five other planes would fill the gap and you looked like the jerk who was following too close to the plane in front of you. Argh!

While holding, one pilot (who was still outside RIPON) said he was fuel critical and asked for priority. The controller suggested he go to his alternate, but the pilot protested and claimed he didn’t have enough fuel to get there. The controller mentioned that the alternate was only 13nm away, and again the pilot claimed he didn’t have enough fuel to get there. This was obviously bullshit since Oshkosh is still 15nm from RIPON and he was outside that, but the controller gave him a priority arrival. Another pilot got on frequency and said he’d already thrown up twice and needed to get on the ground, so the controller also cleared him through.

After a bunch of turns around Rush Lake, I was headed up the tracks for the umpteenth time. Every single plane ahead of me was told to turn left and reenter the hold, but I got lucky and got the right turn into the show. After 1.5 hours of holding, I was finally cleared to land on 36R and taxied into Homebuilt Camping!

Welcome to Oshkosh!

While visiting the Aircraft Spruce booth, I saw they had a combination prop lock on their display rack. Since picking locks is kind of a hobby of mine, I fiddled with it while a couple of friends were looking at something else. I popped the lock open in less than one minute, without even looking at the dials. Anyone who would steal your airplane would be at least as skilled at picking locks, so please don’t trust them to keep your plane safe.

Fixed Sticking Heater Valve

I had an IPC & BFR the other night and my new heater valve was stuck slightly open. It was a warm night, and hot air blowing on my feet was pretty miserable. Since I’m leaving for Oshkosh in less than a week, I really wanted to fix this before flying across the hot midwest.

Unfortunately, getting to the heater valve requires pulling out most of the forward interior, seat pans, doghouse and tunnel cover. Once I was in there, it was about a two minute fix to determine what was sticking and fix it. The corner of the lower door flange was digging in to the bottom of the heater valve. A very slight bend of the lower flange fixed the issue nicely.

Replaced ADS-B Module and Wrapped Up Maintenance

I wrapped up the heater valve swap by reconnecting the SCAT tubing and control cable and then reinstalled all of the interior aluminum covers and seat pans. Before reinstalling the cowl, I checked the breather vacuum valve in case I needed to clean it. I’ve been checking this every oil change and it never seems to get worse than this.

Before reinstalling the interior, I needed to swap the ADS-B module. Dynon recently contacted me about swapping this because they apparently found a hardware defect and they want to replace all of the units in the field. Although I don’t relish removing all of the interior and baggage wall to get to this, I don’t mind since I really appreciate how proactive Dynon is about resolving issues like this.

The new unit is identical from the outside, so it’s a trivial swap (unlike when I swapped from the SV-ADSB-470 to the SV-ADSB-472).

Replaced Heater Valve

I recently noticed that my cabin heat wasn’t working. After a quick inspection, I realized the control arm on the heater valve had broken off of the flapper valve. The valve is a stainless steel unit from Plane Innovations which I upgraded to because I wanted to keep all steel components on the firewall.  I emailed the company about the best way to repair the valve and they rushed out a new one free of charge. I wish more companies had this kind of customer service.

Unfortunately, getting the old valve out requires pulling a substantial amount of the interior out. The heater valve is behind the tunnel cover which is under the fuel pump cover. The fuel pump cover sits under the forward seat pans, so the seats and carpets need to be removed.

My son helped me remove the nuts holding on the heater valve. This is one of the few items that regrettably I didn’t attach to the firewall with nutplates. It would have made replacing it far easier. Unfortunately, adding nutplates now is virtually impossible, so we just bolted the new one on the same way.

Here’s the failed heater valve. The spot welds simply failed due to the high vibration around the firewall. The new valve has five spot welds instead of four, but I’m not optimistic this will prevent this from happening again.

The Blog is Back!

Welcome to the new, WordPress powered version of my RV-7 blog! After nearly 2 years without updates, the blog is alive again!

This site has been managed since the beginning with some blogging software called MovableType. The company that owns that made it closed-source several years back and my hosting company stopped supporting it. This meant the pages were visible, but I couldn’t log in and add new entries. After months of not having the time to deal with it, I finally found a company that would migrate all of the blog entries from MovableType to WordPress. After some additional cleanup, this is the result. There are a few things different about the new site:

  • Larger thumbnails
  • Image thumbnails now link to full-sized versions to make it easier to see details
  • Much better appearance on smart phones and tablets
  • Better organization and navigating of categories
  • Fixed countless grammar and spelling errors
  • Fixed all of the upside-down pictures

Please use the contact link at the top of the page to let me know if you find anything amiss with the new site.

Oshkosh 2017

After a 2 day stop in Salt Lake City to visit family, Madeline and I made it to Oshkosh 2017! This is the second time I’ve taken the RV to Oshkosh, but the first time I’ve flown it in via the FISK VFR arrival and parked in homebuilt camping.

We arrived on the Sunday before the show around mid-afternoon which is probably the busiest arrival time for the whole show. I started monitoring the arrival frequency about 40 miles out and as expected it was crazy busy. There was nonstop chatter on the frequency and the controller was chastising pilots for being stacked up or flying side-by-side. It sounded like it was going to be a cluster-fuck, so I asked Madeline to help me look for traffic as we got closer. As we approached Ripon, the chatter died down and we were virtually alone on the arrival!

The controllers directed us to runway 36, and after landing we turned immediately into homebuilt parking where a guide on a scooter ended up escorting us to a new lot that they just opened this year that is only a few hundred yards from show center!

We’re basically due west of the forum buildings and coincidentally only a few hundred feet from the Factory Five booth. This is the first year that Factory Five has come to Airventure and there was a fair amount of interest in their booth the whole week. We just started our own Factory Five car this summer and it was great to chat with the founder of the company for a bit at the show.