Chapter 22 – A Black Hole . . .

Yes, over the past few days it seems as if I’ve been fighting the un-overcomeable gravitational pull of finalizing my EFIS-loaded checklists.  I’ve been wimping out a bit on getting into the cold shop, easily pulled away by the lure of cross-checking each respective piece of avionics, instruments, electronic ignitions, and components that are covered by the checklists.

A big focus of mine on the checklists was finally integrating & deconflicting the engine starting & run-up sequence between the SilverHawk fuel injection, P-MAG EI, and Electroair EI requirements as detailed in their respective manuals.  I think my “shakedown cruise” analogy regarding the checklists was correct in that it actually brought a number of issues to light that need(ed) to be worked through.

With Electroair specifically, I found that my fuses were more than adequate as stated by their tech gurus, but then got caught up into two separate discussions with Danny, then Mike, on engine starting methods, sequencing and EI ops in regards to their system’s integration with a P-MAG.  Apparently it’s much more common for them to see an Electroair system paired with a traditional mag then it is with a P-MAG.  Nonetheless, they were very helpful, I gained some more knowledge about my system, and I got my checklists nailed down for the engine starting & run-up areas.

In focusing on the GNS480 GPS and Trio autopilot part of the checklists, I realized I really needed to get it straight in my head how these two components work together with the GRT EFIS.  Besides a number of sideline conversations with Marco on both checklists and GRT EFIS functions, including instrument approaches, I took a few hours to go offline and submersed myself into learning a lot more of how my GRT EFISs really work.  This was also part of a specific effort to learn how the EFIS functions integrate with the GNS480 GPS and Trio autopilot.

And boy, did I ever learn a lot…. including that a number of my initial operational assumptions were off.   I was pleasantly surprised that these components integrate much better than I had imagined, decreasing a lot of the workload I assumed I would have with three separate systems.  Let’s just say that the ARINC 429 protocol is an amazing thing! Moreover, probably the biggest lesson this “young” (ha!) Jedi learned was that the Trio autopilot source selection [GPS or EFIS] default needs to be on “EFIS” so the autopilot is controlled by the EFIS, not the GNS480 GPS that I had mistakenly implemented.  This allows all ARINC 429 data to pass through the EFIS to the autopilot, but still allows on-screen control of the autopilot via the EFIS (not quite a Doh! moment, but close….).

Below is a shot of the GRT HXr EFIS with the “Before Taxi” checklist pulled up with checklist items checked off as complete.  The pic itself, as the one above and below, are screen snapshots, or “SNAP”s, that I took via the EFIS system with just one press of a button.  Pretty cool, eh?

Getting into these separate manuals also highlighted some not so great aspects of my current system as well . . . ahem, but let’s call these either areas of opportunity or areas for improvement, shall we?  One such area was the initial placement of the GNS480 GPS and Trio autopilot startup on the checklists.  Since I “wanted” them on the “Before Start” checklist then that’s where I put them.  But, after tweaking the lists and getting into the manuals, I was faced with “Doh!” moment 3,461 of this build…. um, can’t fire them up before engine start-up without a brown-out circuit!  Hmmm?

I’m not quite so concerned about the Trio autopilot since it has a fairly fast boot-up time, and my input to the unit is minimal.  However, loading a flight plan into the GNS480 while the engine is off is a big requirement of mine.  Burning up gas (and money) needlessly and getting the engine all hot & bothered while not moving, is not cool in my book.  So this led to a discussion with Bob Newman from TCW Technologies regarding his Intelligent Power Stabilizer and also some bubbas on Bob Nuckoll’s Aeroelectric Connection forum.  Love Bob Newman and his products, but aiming for cheap as possible here, and I think once again Eric on the AEC forum is going to bail me out of a sticky wicket with his brilliance… for way less cost!

Here’s another SNAP, this time off the Mini-X.  Yes, some blatant eye candy that I added just to spice this blog post up!

In addition to all my shenanigans above, I also got some great gouge & specs from Mike Beasley on the throttle and mixture cables install.  He gave me some awesome builder tips to assess that I’ll share as I move further along in sorting out the left armrest.

For all those of you who thought I had fallen off the grid, I haven’t.  Just took a very educational detour over the past few days.   I can assure you –maybe not in an actual physical build sense– that my time has been very productive over these past few days (IMO).


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