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  1. Last week
  2. How to remove a rear speaker grill?

    That's what I tried, but next time I'll use a bigger screwdriver and smaller caution for my prying.
  3. How to remove a rear speaker grill?

    Eric - If I understand your question correctly, you just pry gently and evenly between the speaker grill and the panel it's mounted on. I've removed my speaker grill several times to install a tray to mount my SPOT using the space between the grill and the panel. Russ
  4. Ballistic Parachute Repacking

    Mike, I actually thought about doing that trip to Prague, but they don’t work that way. You will find that except for USPS all the shipping companies are roughly the same price. The overwhelming percentage of the charges are set by international tariffs, not the companies. The repacking is €350 and the trip back about €400. Like you, I found most of this somewhat outrageous, but that’s why I am documenting this whole episode. If you can find a better way, please let us know. Right now I don’t see a lot of other options. Each owner comes due at a different time, roughly every 2-3 months, so batching among owners is not going to work. You can batch with Dennis, but the savings are not as great as you might imagine (weight is weight in air freight), and you will likely be adding a significant amount of time to the cycle with relatively modest savings. There is no authorized US repack operation going, even for the designated US Stratos 07 representative. All routes lead to Rome, and all chutes lead to Prague. 😀 I concluded that the system is just not set up for US Phoenix owner customer service. We are playing by their rules.
  5. Ballistic Parachute Repacking

    For that kind of freight costs, you could have purchased a round trip ticket to Prague and taken it along as baggage, and have them repack it while you wait. How much are they charging for the repacking? Are you going to get hit for another $700 for the return freight? Was UPS and FEDEX the same price? With ~20 Phoenix's in the US, we need to figure out a more cost effective way to deal with this.
  6. Ballistic Parachute Repacking

    Continuing the documentation.... The chute is now back at Stratos 07. It took just 3 days to get there. DHL is very reliable, and I had daily tracking updates on where it was. The insurance issue seems less important than I first thought. It's highly unlikely that DHL will lose the package given the tracking, and the only other possible loss claim I could think of was damage in transit (highly unlikely if you pack it properly) or catastrophic loss of the transport vehicle. There are two addresses for Stratos 07 - one in downtown Prague (from where they coordinate their administrative and technical operations) and in Kamenne Zehrovice, a few miles out of town, where they do the work. Send it to the second address. If you're in the first 6-year period the rocket stays in the plane and only the chute goes back (we'll cross the rocket bridge 6 years from now). They do need rocket photos, however. Be sure to include photos of the stamped S/N on the top of the rocket, a view on each side from the top, a view of the underside with the cable attachment from inside the baggage compartment (preschedule a visit to your chiropractor for immediately afterwards or get a selfie stick), and a view of the flight deck pull handle both from the top and underside. By the way, the sent package was 23x11x8 inches and weighed 26 lbs. Cost from Seattle: $710 (yes, ouch!). Some of you have mentioned batching. Don't forget when you compute that cost you'll need to include getting all the chutes to one location or see if Dennis can fold you into one of his shipments. I'll let you know next steps when the repackers make some progress.
  7. Phoenix 912 engine loses 500 rpm during climb

    Hi Jim - some answers and clarification... Idling issues: I looked into this a couple years ago, couldn't find any good evidence against the practice, and persuaded myself the harm, if any, was minimal. I do keep the oil temperature at 190 degF, the throttle opened 1/4 turn, and the rpm varies from 2200 (thermalling) to 2400 (cruising at 60 knots). It's always run very smoothly at idle, even after 3+ hours, and responds to more throttle, up to full throttle, with no hesitation or missing. The plugs have always looked normal when replaced, and my mechanic, Jim Scott of Aircore, always says the oil looks normal when he changes it, with the biggest contaminant being lead when I've had to use 100LL during the 50 hour period. If you do have reports or studies about the issue, I'd really like to see them. Ignition check RPM: I did not know about the 4000 rpm check, but will remember it now. Max static rpm: 4800 is normal my glider on the ground; in the air at 60 knots it goes to at least 5200 with full throttle, and I always dial it back to 5000. Cruise is at 5000 (TAS 110 knots), and that requires backing off the throttle quite a bit. So, I don't think it's down on power. EGT temperatures: during the flights on Oct 7 & 8, the EGT was in the 1300 degF range; the 20-30 degF was the spread between the two EGT signals. I should have written "within" instead of "with". Plug fouling, compression: As mentioned, I've never noticed any plug fouling. The compression was correct at the last annual, about 50 engine hours ago, so at least no valve leakage at that time. Cracked ceramic on the plugs: I've gapped 100's of plugs over the years, in old (60's!) cars that needed new plugs every 10-15,000 miles, and in the sports cars I raced for seven years without cracking any of them, so I think it unlikely it happened this time; and, of course, the problem began using plugs gapped by a professional. Runway situation: KRLD has two 4000' runways with limited overun, so there is a short period (10 seconds?) where an off-airport landing might be required. I'm discussing my options with Jim Scott, but no choices made yet. I don't want to fly across the Cascades (or anywhere, really) the way it ran last time, so Jim coming to RLD is the most likely option right now. He strongly suspects it's a heavy float, and he does have a set of the very newest version (two(!) versions newer than the ones Rotax paid to have installed 2 years ago). I'm sure he'll want to do all the checks and tests you've mentioned.
  8. My engine has 440 hours on it with no problems. I run it mostly on mogas, and it spends maybe third of it's flight hours with the engine idling while I'm soaring it. Here's the summary of what happened on two flights - Oct 7 & 8, 2017 + It started and ran normally on the ground, including the 3000 rpm ignition check + Full throttle while holding it with the brake yielded about 4800 static rpm (normal), then I began the takeoff. + Takeoff and climb were normal for the first 20 seconds or about 300+ feet AGL + I felt the engine running rough, and the RPM dropped to 4600 rpm + I reduced the throttle to 4400 rpm, where the rough running became smooth, and I could then power up to full throttle with no problems. + At 3000' AGL or so, I went to idle to begin soaring, and the engine performed flawlessly, as it always has. + There were other full throttle climbs during both flights, but at higher airspeeds, so the pitch angle was only 7 degrees instead of 12. + The Dynon Skyview data log showed the EGTs stayed with 20 deg F during the roughness, and with 30 deg F the whole flight I thought that the nose up attitude during the climb after takeoff might have caused contaminants in the fuel to get picked up, but when I drained samples from each tank after the last flight it was pure mogas. A friend wondered if it could the plugs, because I do a lot of soaring with the engine idling. A possibility? I've been doing the idling while soaring for the 3 years I've owned it, without any problems. A few days later, I replaced all 8 plugs, and went flying with a half page of potential tests in hand. It worked perfectly on the takeoff and 5000' climb at 5000 rpm, so I stuffed the list of tests in the side pocket and went soaring. 3.5 hours of idling later, I did a 5000 rpm, 60 knot climb for 3 minutes - still working great. At that point, it appeared the symptoms were caused by the plugs. The next day, I did a takeoff, and the engine ran rough very soon after liftoff, dropping the rpm to about 4400. Reducing the throttle didn't help any, so I continued my turn back to the runway, and landed uneventfully. Two full throttle run-ups on the ramp went to 4800 rpm (normal for the engine), with the engine running smoothly. I could see nothing wrong in the engine compartment. I'm totally perplexed, so I'm waiting for my mechanic to call back to see what he thinks is the next step. If anyone has suggestions, or even wild thoughts, I'd love to hear them! It's disappointing that 440 hours of flawless operation is suddenly undone, and I don't know why. And the disappointment of having the glider out of service, delaying several plans. Any ideas about the cause? And what tests might help find it? At this point I don't mind doing another flight to carry out some tests to pin down the problem. With the 30:1 glide, I only need 200 feet AGL to turn back to the airport safely, so the risk period is about 10 seconds at most.
  9. Preparing for Winter wave flying

    The attached picture shows how I revised the sealing of the inner wing at the tip parting line, making the strobe/navigation light connector easily accessible. The wing tip lighting cord is quite long, so I wrap it once around the spar while the wing tip is hanging after placing the spar in the wing spar opening. On the last flight, I was comfortable down to 20 deg F OAT, dressed in blue jeans, sweatshirt, and a light vest. Late in the day, under cloud shadows, I did start to feel a little cool. The idling engine supplies a totally inadequate amount of heat to the cabin, so I'll be dressing warmer when the temps drop below 20 deg F.
  10. I'd like to remove/change the vario speaker, which is under the speaker grill behind the passenger, but I don't see any way to remove the grill. How do you remove the grill?
  11. Phoenix ICAO Aircraft Type Code

    U15 has been working great now for an ATC Aircraft Identifier. I tell ATC that I am a U15, then they tell the next guy to look for a Phoenix Motorglider as traffic when appropriate. Thanks Jim Russ
  12. My plane: Phoenix #17 Engine hours: about 420 About a week ago, I was cleaning the belly of my Phoenix and took a closer than usual look at my exhaust pipe. Right at the place where the exhaust pipe makes a change in direction (out in the airflow and in plain sight) was a crack in the exhaust pipe. The crack generally followed the weld, but also went across the weld and continued on the other side of the weld. The length of the crack continued for a bit more than halfway around the exhaust pipe. I'm a little embarrassed that I can't say when the crack first started, but I didn't notice it until a week ago. It was easy to remove the muffler, cabin heater, exhaust pipe combination and have the stainless steel pipe TIG welded. Reinstalling the assembly was also relatively easy, but I'm glad I took photos of the cabin heater cable setup before disassembly. Russ Owens
  13. Earlier
  14. Ballistic Parachute Repacking

    What other aircraft in the US use these chutes? If there is a large enough installed base we should investigate if it is possible to set up a repack operation in the US.
  15. No Phoenix is affected by this Mandatory Bulletin from Rotax. Inspection and/or replacement of the valve push-rod assembly, rocker arm left and rocker arm right for ROTAX® Engine Type 912 i, 912 and 914 (Series)
  16. Ballistic Parachute Repacking

    Well, the parachute is on its way to Prague, and I promised I'd follow up with the details. I've concluded there is no ideal way to do this that doesn't involve trade offs between unnecessary expense and some risk. Let me summarize what I've found. First of all, let Stratos know you are sending the package and get the latest instructions to update this note. They will likely tell you to ship it DHL, put a $20 value on the shipment and label it as a sample. When you call DHL you'll hear a figure that is about 6 or 7 hundred dollars (depending on your US address), so you'll call FedEx and UPS and find they are comparable. The next reaction will be to look at the USPS as an alternative. You will be pleased to find that the USPS cost is only about $160 for international Priority Mail, so it will, at first, seem like that's the way to go, but stand by, because it's complicated. So, let's examine that part about the $20 value and the "sample" labeling. Why? It's because they are trying to help you not pay a substantial Czech VAT. If you put anything more than 22 EUR on the customs form you trigger the tax. The current VAT rate is now 22%, so on a $4000 parachute this would be a lot of money which they will bill back to you. It's clearly intended for commercial exporters and not the repair and return process that we are envisioning, but this $20 value appears to be the only way around the trigger, so I think you're stuck. This, of course, sets up the next problem which is underinsurance. Although the USPS shipping cost might be tempting, your parachute is worth more than $20, right? The USPS and the other carriers will insist on keeping the declared value on the customs form the same as the insured value. In other words they will not allow you to declare one low value to customs and then have another insured value. So if you insist on using the USPS you will have a grossly underinsured package that is tracked to the Czech border, and then you're on your own. Nobody I talked with thought that was a good idea, often with some eye rolling. If it gets lost, you lose big. I thought about trying to get third-party insurance. I spoke with Pat Costello this morning and he said that if the repair work were being done within the United States this would be covered under the hull policy of the glider, but once it leaves the policy territory, which is basically North America, the policy no longer applies. He recommended searching for a floater policy, as it is called, which is an additional extra insurance policy on a personal article. He suggested I try the insurer who handles my home and auto. They were unable to do it because they’re a medium-sized Pacific Northwest company, but they suggested trying a larger group like State Farm. Unfortunately, no luck with any of the larger insurers either. Apparently the larger insurers will not write floater policies for anything having to do with aviation. The final option was batching. The US representative for Stratos, Dennis Carly, operates a light aircraft business in FL (U-FLY-IT), and I talked with him this morning. He offered an option of bundling 3 or 4 chutes together in a single shipment. I ran a simulation with DHL this morning, and that brings the cost down by about $200 per person (so for me it would be $500 instead of $700), but you also have to get the chute to his location. Jim knows about this and we may or may not want to investigate it further as more and more owners have to repack. So here's where I think things stand, unless any of you can come up with a better idea. To use the USPS priority mail, which is clearly the most cost-effective way to go, the owner must assume all of the risk. Although the shipment will be trackable while in USPS hands, once it enters the Czech postal system there is no way to know what will happen. Dennis is fearful of the reliability of that method, so he continues to use DHL. I cannot see a way to track or insure the parcel through a third-party, so, for me, that was off the table as an option. If you use Dennis's service the parcel is delivered uninsured, but he feels that DHL's logistics and tracking reduce the risk significantly. This is not perfect but probably very good. In the past he has sent over batches of three parachutes for about $1500 and billed the cost back to the owners proportionately. I could probably send in the parachute to FL to him through domestic USPS priority mail for $50. So I was looking at about $550 to use that route. If you decide to use DHL from your home it's about $600-700, with FedEx and UPS in the same ballpark. DHL is the real international company, and according to my shipping expert, the best European logistics. We can't insure to full value, but their logistics are a kind of insurance. Once Stratos has the package it's on them to keep it safe and get it back. What I conclude from this research is that, although the post office is very attractive from a cost standpoint, there is real risk in using that method for something this valuable, and no way to mitigate the risk. There also is no way to avoid VAT and also insure the full value of the package, so the only way to mitigate that loss risk is through traceable logistics. That left me with a DHL decision about sending the package to Dennis versus shipping it from Seattle and seeing this is a sunk cost. In other words, it cost $150 more to ship from Seattle on my own compared with batching. I finally decided I had spent enough time on this and just drove to the DHL store and sent it this morning. You may come to a different conclusion, but at least you know the facts. I must have spent 6 hours trying to solve this, and after a while your time becomes more important than the cost. So the total cost is going to be something like $600-700 to ship it over, about $350 to repack and $400 to ship it back (their Czech carrier, but at their risk). I guess I was hoping to reduce the shipping costs over to Prague, but there are so many adverse tradeoffs, you're just stuck. This was a classic Kubler-Ross 5-stage grieving process: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Despite my initial resistance, I'm at peace now. I've just let go and accepted it as the cost of ownership. To put this in perspective, the 5-year mandatory Rotax rubber replacement I did earlier on this year's annual (another joy you all will soon encounter) was $4000.... again, the cost of ownership. I'm glad I love this glider so much.
  17. Ballistic Parachute Repacking

    Is there any way you can do an exchange so you don't end up being down for 2-3 months? That would also let you loosen the wings once rather than twice. The other thing we might want to do is to coordinate with each other so that we can ship multiple units in for refurbishment at one time to reduce the freight costs. Thanks for the heads up.
  18. Ok, Phoenix drivers, listen up! That ticking sound you hear from the back of your Phoenix is the countdown clock preparing you for the inevitable day you will have to ship your ballistic chute back to Stratos 07 in the Czech Republic. It's been six years, so I just liberated my parachute from the aircraft, and this is how it's done. I've attached a document that Jim assembled that has the overall process. Be sure to read it before you continue. What I'm offering here is a few additional tips and observations. N42EW's chute was due July 2017, six years after it was manufactured. My annual was in March 2017, so the question was should I do both the Rotax rubber replacement and the chute in the same year? My A&P had a good idea: simply label the handle INOP on July 1, 2017 and you're in compliance with the FARs, and you can do the chute when it's convenient. As he pointed out, "if you really need it between then and the repack time, are you not going to pull the handle because of the placard?" It took a few hours and at least half a dozen words I didn't learn from my mom to remove the chute. Jim's sequence is very helpful, but there are some improvisations necessary along the way. First, the small carabiner is easy to disengage, but the large one has some locktite or something in the threads so have two long wrenches to break the seal. Once you've removed the small carabiner (which connects the rocket cable to the parachute) be very careful to stow the looped end of the rocket cable in a place where you cannot accidentally catch it on your jacket or something (since you're probably in your hangar and it's likely not the 4th of July). The parachute pack comes out fairly easily, however it is 23.5 pounds, so watch your back. Actually it comes out easily if you don't forget to unsnap the buckle under the chute box in the baggage compartment (don't ask me how I know that). Next pull the Kevlar bridle through the holes down to the baggage compartment. You'll see that it's looped around the two spars. In an ideal world you would now simply slip the bridle out from under the spars. Unfortunately, the bridle is trapped under the spars and you have to loosen the wings and pull them out far enough to take the tension off the bridle to get it out. That means 2 other people to help. Even with wing stands, 3 people is a good idea. The bridle is wire tied under the spar, so if you can't seem to move it despite adequate clearance, that's why. Snip and you're done. Now before you get your victory beer, enjoy putting the wings back into alignment. You will be without our chute for about 2-3 months. You do want to fly your plane in the meantime, right? You'll need 25-30 pounds in the chute box to keep the W&B gods happy. I used some of my wife's barbells. I taped together 2 tens and 2 fives with a lot of duct tape. Be sure to put a plywood floor in the parachute box since the bottom is pretty thin. You don't want the barbells to fall through into the baggage compartment in one of your 3 G landing flares and then roll to the back of the aircraft. Pack the sides of the of the chute box around the weights with those used microfiber cloths that Jim made you swear that you'd never use on the canopy a second time, even if they are washed. Pass a strap through the two holes in the bottom of the chute box and run it to the top of the weight packet and secure the ballast. Before you close the box take a picture of the top of the rocket with its serial number so that you can show the Stratos people that it's had a good home. Also take a picture of the handle in the cockpit. They want to see that too. Why? Got me. Don't forget to put an INOPERATIVE label on the handle in case you get ramp checked. Now for the shock. Just for fun, go to a UPS, FedEx or DHL store and ask them how much it will cost to send it to the Czech Republic. You should hear something like $750 for this 24 pound package (including the bridle). Fortunately, the USPS is much more cost effective, and they will send it for about $150. Find an appropriate box and pack it up. There will need to be a customs form filled out. Ramana, from Stratos, recommends declaring the value at $20 or some nominal amount and stating that it is a sample, otherwise there will be a duty when it enters the Czech Republic. I'm not sure how this affects the insurance of the package. My guess is that you take your chances if you do this, but it's a choice between the remote chance of losing the shipment vs the 100% chance of paying a tax. Maybe someone else understands this better than I do and can comment. It may also be that insurance and duty are separate and don't affect each other. I'll send the package later this week and share the rest of the story as it evolves. Just remember, you're coming up soon. Tick, tick, tick... Parachute repack.pdf
  19. Weight and balance

    For me, 180 lb pilot, 7 gallons of fuel (or less) and 30 pounds of baggage in the far aft baggage compartment is best. This results in a nice aft cg, but easily within the range. Probably more important are gap seals on the elevator which prevents the air spoilage from stalling the elevator as slow speed. Both of these combined allow a 40kt thermal speed.
  20. XENOS/SONEX INC. 2006 MOTOR GLIDER. N5234 , $29,950 * ACCEPTING OFFERS * OWNERS HEALTH, , ONLY 40 hrs TTAE, 100 Hp Eng–3300 Jabiru, Sens Carbon Prop, Dynon FlightDEK-D180 EFIS/EMS, Lift Resv Ind/Stall Warn, Intercom, Comm, XPDR, Dual sticks, Contact Max Bradford; Sulphur Springs, TX; 903-243-1069
  21. Preparing for Winter wave flying

    On my last flight, I discovered a way to keep the air from entering the cockpit through the flap/spoiler handle slots, and the seat belt holes: put the flaps in -4! I tried it at 60 knots and 90 knots - same result. I think the flap in 0 degree setting increases the air pressure at the wing/flaperon junction, forcing air into the wing via the flaperon control rod holes. Note that this was with my wing sealing of the main wing and wing tip junction (see description at the start of this thread). Some thoughts... Use flap -4 setting when flying in cold air, and save yourself the trouble of sealing anything Now knowing that a lot, maybe all, the cold cockpit air comes from the wing, seal the flaperon push rod or the wing roots (fuselage wing roots or the actual wing roots), in addition to the wing/wing tip junction. This sealing harder to do, but likely reduces the cockpit cold air intrusion the most. I have another idea that I will try on the next flight: remove a few inches of the wing root tape from the top/aft part of both wing roots. The hope is the lower pressure top of the wing will suck the cold air from the wing root area, and prevent it from entering the cockpit. I suspect that air escaping the rear wing root area might degrade the glide, but I have no idea how much.
  22. "TaxiCam" - a nose camera for the Phoenix

    A couple of months ago, I purchased a cheap backup camera on ebay ($6.99): http://www.ebay.com/itm/272716474441 My game plan is to drill a small hole in the front of the lower cowling for the camera and use the Dynon video interface module ($195) to display the video on the Dynon display. This camera has a 130 degree field of view that is not adjustable. The resolution isn't great (480p), but I am hoping that it is adequate for a taxicam application so that I don't run into anything on the ground (learned that lesson the hard way). This is going to be my winter project. I'll report back when I have some operational experience.
  23. Palms to Pines Gliding

    Here is a nice article about Palms to Pines Soaring: http://www.palmspringslife.com/soar-with-eagles/
  24. Weight and balance

    Let me add some quick and dirty observations from aeronautical engineering that might help explain some things: Aero engineers do all of their computations related to CG as % MAC. It's easy to understand as one is trying to represent the lift of the wing as a single vector and there are some computations to get to this representation. In the US the flight manuals are converted to make it easy to add components as weight-arms from an arbitrary datum from which measurements are easy. So I think it is kind of cool that the designer expresses them based on the real limits. That information is shielded in our flight manuals. Generally, weight and balance limits have dozens of things that impact them and engineers need to do calculations for each condition to find out which one is the constraint. I will summarize typical constraints: aft limit: static stability limit, stall/spin recovery, nose tipping fwd limit: nose gear unstick, nose tipping, control authority limits max gross weight: maximum load computations, Va computations, landing gear or seat crush limits for hard landings, minimum climb rates, stall speed limits, ... When the CG moves aft the performance can be improved (less trim drag), but that is hard to sense. Actually, the flying qualities (perceived harmony of the controls) tend to improve to a certain point and then start to degrade, depending upon some dynamical characteristics like the phugoid and short period mode longitudinally. CG limits don't impact the lateral/directional flying qualities that much. During flight testing they usually test across the CG and weight envelope and verify that all flying qualities and performance parameters are achieved. It is not uncommon to make adjustments in the configuration or the limits to resolve problems that were hard to compute in advance. One of my professors took us to the airfield and we walked around and saw all of the fixes that were added to configurations probably in flight test. In most airplanes, you must do the calculation for forward and aft limits as the fuel is burned. Most CG software will show the CH position at the initial fuel loading and then at zero fuel loading. I'd have to see what is written, but I doubt that the CG limits presented automatically take into account margins for fuel burn. However, it is not uncommon to place the fuel tanks in such a position so that fuel burn minimally impacts the movement of the CG. As JIm wrote, gliders will often have Weight/CG limits expressed as weight limits in the seats since there are so few other variables. However, that doesn't help much when equipment is changed and things like water ballast or fuel are added back in.
  25. "TaxiCam" - a nose camera for the Phoenix

    I just purchased a "4K Action Camera" (a "faux GoPro")from Amazon for $70. The major attraction besides the low cost is the selectable field of view (FOV) from 70 to 170 degrees in four steps. A 70 degree FOV sees the dust devils ahead much better. Also, it connects to a smartphone for the cockpit display, and the FOV and other things can be changed literally "on the fly" from the smart phone. After I mount and test fly it, I'll post a report.
  26. Preparing for Winter wave flying

    Dave, thanks for the info. I was thinking along those lines, so I'm glad to have the validation. Because I have urgency and frequency issues (remnants of my prostate cancer treatment), I decided to permanently connect the line to the bottle (a one liter oil container in my case), which I place under my left knee on the floor. A small duffel bag of stuff I might need in flight sits on the floor just ahead of it, keeping it in place. I tried it yesterday, and it worked well. After I test the simplifications I made, I'll post some pictures.
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