Sunday, January 17, 2016

Something Similar

My ideas are not unique. Someone else built an engine monitor using some hardware and an Android tablet. The engine monitor box is built by Skylab, and is called a Flybox. The app is in the playstore called Aircraft Instrument Panel.

It is more for ultralights, microlights and LSA's that have only a two cylinder motor. It has:

  • Airspeed (pitot)
  • Altitude (Barometric)
  • Vertical speed (calculated from barometric altitude change)
  • Engine RPM
  • Oil Pressure
  • 2 CHT
  • 2 EGT
  • Oil and Water temperature
  • Fuel computer
  • Battery voltage
  • Total flight hours

It would be nice if the 2 EGT's could be converted to 2 more CHT's (and maybe it can, I haven't looked yet). I posted a question on their facebook page. 

It looks based on their facebook page, they allow other users to help develop this system. Fly is fun is integrating with them as well. It shows at least for now there is a vibrant community around this system. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

ADS-B compliance, You Can Get a Loan For That

Do your homework, but sure, you can get a loan to install ADS-B right now. Congress just passed a bill that will allow government guarantees on loans for money used in GA ADS-B upgrades. The scheme er plan is called "NextGen GA Fund". The idea is, if you don't have the cash now to upgrade your airplane, just borrow some, and you will be ADS-B compliant sooner rather than later.

Just for fun, I filled out the application. It took maybe 10 minutes, and today I got a note showing I was approved! I can get a loan for $10,000 to equip my Cozy with some new avionics. What would $10,000 cover? Well it wasn't a total magic number. I've been thinking of the MGL smart panels since I started building my airplane. The 8.5" iEFIS would be a wonderful thing to replace the 6 pack in my airplane.

iEFIS Explorer

Their web page says $6000 for the main package, including engine monitor, attitude heading reference and their encoder output box for the transponder. To make this ADS-B out compliant I still need either a UAT or a Mode-S transponder. I'll choose the UAT, since I got this cool display that will allow me to see traffic and weather. The NavWorx for experimentals box was about $700 a year ago, but today it is $1300, which isn't horrible still. That would leave me about $2500 still to go. The MGL panel has remote com and transponder capabilities, and MGL sells com radios and transponders that would connect to that as well, for about $2500 (well $1050 for a com, and $1550 for a transponder). Not bad for $10000.

That upgrade would make my plane pretty sweet. Go fast, ready for the future, and still only have to pay about $320/month.  None of this pricing includes the wiring that would have to go in, or the installation. The installation in my plane, since I am the manufacturer, can be done by me. I can charge myself 50cents an hour if I want. I don't want to be all polly-anna but I could do a lot with ten grand.

If you have a certified plane, I am guessing something similar would be about $30,000, since installation wouldn't be free, and certified equipment would need to be purchased.

(this is where I want to put in a record scratch sound)

Wait a minute, 300 a month for 36 months, that is $10,800. I don't need to put in these avionics yet, I got almost 4 years to go. What if I put away 300 a month for 3 years and wait to see what is available then. I should also look into what I can get a load from my bank for. Probably at better or equal terms than these folks are offering.

There is nothing wrong with waiting 3 years. If it doesn't take a whole year to install all this, my plane will still be compliant in 2020. Avionics are getting better, and cheaper every year. Surely something will break loose and this whole mess will be affordable.

(If you don't know much about paying for airplanes, some airplanes can be bought for under $20,000. Putting $10,000 into an instrument panel for a $20,000 airplane won't increase he value of the aircraft much, certainly not $10K. It is a bad investment. My airplane cost a little more than $20K to build maybe twice that much, even still $10K in the panel won't help the value too much. If I did this it would be for my pleasure. Affordable is still relative, but airplane owners are not all rich people.)

I am sure there are some bankers and others who think this is needed. To me it is some PAC wasting congresses time. The could be working on PBOR2 or funding the FAA or something useful. More and more the congress get the prize for doing something, but not anything useful. (sorry about going political).