Monday, May 21, 2012

Off topic but somewhat cool

Yesterday we had an almost total solar eclipse in northern California. I was in the yard working on the irrigation system (irritation system as I prefer to call it) when I noticed that the sunlight was getting dimmer. I set up a simple pin hole camera to show the missus what was going on.

What I didn't expect was that the dog would get freaked out by what was happening. She jumped in my lap and by a fortunate coincidence, my spectacles were creating a better image on the white board than the pin hole camera was! Photo courtesy of the missus - shadow courtesy of the dog:
And for those of you who want to try this at home, note I have my back turned away from the sun, I'm not looking directly into it...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Good news - I'm not going bonkers. Bad news - I'm on the brink...

Got back from a business trip to find a parcel from CPFlight. It's the returned MIP board which according to Paolo, is working just fine. Since I made the decision to go full size on the cockpit (more on this later) and since Paolo has been very patient with me, I ordered a second EFIS for the first officer's side. Both board and unit arrived in good shape.

A quick test Friday. I powered both the MCP and MIP board separateley, plugged the board into the MCP and dual EFIS units, then ran the CPFlight test program. Result? THE BOARD IS NOT WORKING! See how the glare shield lights are grayed out? Ah ha! Vindicated - I'm not going bonkers. I'm right and Paolo is wrong.

After a night of mulling it over I thought, what if it's because I didn't have anything wired up to the board? Maybe it's the old EFIS unit playing up, since everything gets daisy chained through it?

Today I ran 2 more tests. The first I simply wired up the six pack to the MIP board, plugged the FO EFIS into it and ran the MCP to the EFIS. Here are the results:

The darned thing is working! Must be the captain's side EFIS. Second test, joined the EFIS units, ran the MIP board to the captains side, FO plugged into the MCP. It's working again!
Ok, I'll now unplug the six pack and see what happens. Same results! It's working! What are the variables here that meant it didn't work before but now it does? Is it the power up sequence? In the next test I powered up the MCP before the MIP board. Same result - all checks out ok...

Now do you see why I'm on the brink of going bonkers? Paolo is right and I'm wrong... I'm going to design an interface board to make it easier to swap out the MIP board in the future. Wiring and un-wiring every connection in the MIP is a pain in the rear - anything I can do to simplify will be time well spent. I fear we will see more problems with it down the road.

Other developments for you. As you may recall, last year I purchased a more realistic yoke to replace the CH Products mash up I made. First order of business was to find a new tube that would fit the yoke neck. The local home improvement stores didn't have anything that would work so I started asking mates for any tubing they might have, including Bob up in Oregon, a fine home brew maker and a stunt double for the guy on the Burt's Bees packaging. Nothing doing. 

Quite by chance I happened on a metal supply company less than a mile from the house. In and out in 5 minutes with a piece of 3 inch metal tube cut to length. The neck fits perfectly.

I plan to redo the yoke damping mechanism and will experiment with a design I found here. More details to follow.

What else? Order the first officer panel,electronics and what nots from Fly Engravity this week. I'll be heading out again back end of next week on a long trip to Europe, hope to find the package on the doorstep when I get back. Means redoing the MIP stand etc (think I'll use plywood this time) but I figured it best to get the exact MIP dimensions before making the outer shell - my winter project is already planned.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What the heck!

As you know, I've been having problems with my CPFlight MIP board. I've been in extensive email exchange with the guys in Italy to figure out was going wrong. How extensive? 44 emails (including  requested photos of my set up) back and forth trying to figure it out! Admittedly I didn't help the process by misnaming one of the components in my "I'm sure I'm right" descriptions. I learned something from that...

Bottom line, I shipped the board back a week ago so Paolo could take a look at it. From my end the thing had gone none functional since applying power directly to the board. I was convinced it was blown. Paolo plugs it in and.... it works flawlessly! It's on its way back to me where I will (for the 3rd time) reconnect all the wires and try again. Or maybe not. First I will video document me connecting the thing to the MCP, the 6 pack, EFIS and 1 radio. Then if it works - hurrah! If not, what the heck is going on! Maybe the problem lies with the MCP - we shall see.

Received 2 bits of feedback this last week on the blog. First was a really nice email from Tom, a somewhat local anorak. He took the time out to give an assessment of my blog and writing style. I'm thrilled to report he nailed in his description the kind of tone I'm trying to get across. He also briefed me on his build plans. If I can help out, happy to do so.

Also received a comment from Shweta asking for more information... happy to oblige although I'm not entirely sure what kind of information you're looking for.

There's a small window of opportunity this weekend for me to work on the build. Then I'm on the road again for more or less the next 6 weeks. May be a while before I post anything of significance but of course, will keep you all informed of progress.