Chapter 22 – Look Ma… I’m on TV!

I had planned for this past week to be a much more productive effort on the plane build, and while I did get some significant stuff done, it was not all build related.

September is the month that I have to get an annual state mechanical safety inspection done on my truck.  My truck has been limping along like a trooper as I’ve literally been soaking every mile out of these tires, going a few thousand miles over the oil change interval, etc. due primarily to my all-consuming focus on this build.  Well, it was time to take a day or two to make my truck the pretty penny, so that it not only passes inspection, but lasts a few more years as well as I recover from this rather expensive plane build endeavor I’ve undertaken.  That pretty much wiped out Wednesday & yesterday, but I was able to take the truck to the auto hobby shop on base and do an oil/filter change, new front brake pads, etc.  Sunday will be new tires and that will be the lion’s share of my truck upkeep for a bit.

Today I had a whole list of shop build tasks to undertake, but that all went sideways with the myriad of phone calls I had –most plane build related– trying to nail down the purchase of some Bi-Lok reducer fittings for my hell hole brake line cross connects, and working with GRT on finalizing the purchase order on my GRT 8.4 HXr EFIS and EIS4000 engine management system.  Both those efforts alone entailed a myriad of phone calls and some decisions I had to make on my side (read: a bit of research).

Since I had planned on hanging out with an old Air Force buddy of mine tonight, I knew it would be a short build day.  So after talking with Jeff at GRT about their optional USB EFIS video input, I decided to explore that capability a bit more before heading out to dinner (i.e. no shop work).

Quite a while ago I bought a very small video camera off Amazon for around $12 to test out.  My specific idea was that with all the challenges I’ve heard from Long-EZ flyers about the real world ability of turning their head around and viewing the fuel site gauges in the back seat area, why not exploit GRT’s video input capability by using a couple of mini-video cameras to simply view the site gauge fuel levels (I do have Nick Ugolini’s fuel probes as well that feed the EFIS fuel tank quantities).

For an ounce or two tops in weight I can simply take a quick glance at a video feed in an inset on my EFIS and confirm the fuel site gauge level readings.

In addition, with a camera posted top CL of the pilot headrest looking aft, in one quick glance I can check the status of my top engine cowling and prop.  Moreover, I can check the status of the GIB and make sure they’re doing ok.

Finally, since I found a 4-into-1 video feed unit online, I plan on attaching the fourth camera just aft of the front gear T-foot that hangs down in the airstream on the bottom CL of the fuselage.  The camera will also be facing rearward to allow me to check on the health of the lower fuselage, landing brake, landing gear, lower cowling and prop.  Since the air just aft of the nose gear T-foot will already be a bit turbulent, the mounted video camera’s tiny footprint shouldn’t increase drag by any significant degree.

I figured out the wiring on the camera and dissected it a bit to see how I could use much thinner/lighter 24 AWG aircraft wiring to extend the leads vs using big, bulky, heavier audiovisual RCA jacks & cable leads to connect the cameras up to the avionics bay.

I of course wanted to see how well the video camera worked, so I connected it up to my dining room TV, added power to the tiny camera and Voila!  As you can see the picture is definitely good enough to see any details required for my basic needs on the airplane.

With my nascent plan coming together for these incredibly light, tiny cameras, I can incorporate their installation into the build process as I move forward.  There of course will be a bit of research and engineering to get exactly what I want as far as the control of what camera shows up on EFIS video feed, but beyond that I’m pretty much set.

Ok, another rabbit trail marked as recon’ed!

Tomorrow, Chris Seats will be coming over later in the afternoon to pick up my spare canopy that I threw up for sale on the canard group FaceBook page, and to check out my build progress.  That means some requisite shop cleaning (yep, it’s still a mess!) and then after Chris leaves I’ll actually get back to building!



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