Critters in the Cockpit

A few days ago I opened the side cockpit door of my Cherokee 140 to find bird poop on the seats, floorboards and even some on the glare shield.  At first I assumed something got through the hole for the nose gear and made it’s way through the hole for the rudder pedals but that hole is really small and didn’t seem that plausible but how else could he have gotten in?  I would have noticed a bird flitting around when I buttoned it up the previous week so he didn’t get in the easy way.  I posed the question on the AOPA group on Facebook and among some of the more smartass answers one very helpful member mentioned the air scoop under the aft seats that critters can crawl up and get into the cockpit if the holes in the front of the lid of the box underneath the aft seats are large enough a critter could get in.  The user mentioned using chicken/rabbit wire tucked into the hole would solve the problem which I might eventually do but for now I’ll just keep a piece of foam stuffed into the hole and add removing it to my preflight checks.

Posted in Aviation | Leave a comment

Paxcess Power Bank

I was really how well this power bank performed on a recent four-day camping trip out in southwestern Arkansas.  It powered my CPAP machine all four nights for six to eight hours each, partially charged my phone one night and completely charged another camper’s iPhone.  It still had somewhere between empty and 20% capacity remaining (one out of five bars on the indicator).  This power bank was a much smaller, lighter and much less expensive option compared to larger offerings from Anker and others.  Many of those power banks all have good reviews but they’re very expensive and were overkill for what I was looking for and just too much of a weight penalty in the Piper Cherokee that was very very close to maximum gross weight with two people and all our camping gear.

Posted in Aviation, Camping | Leave a comment

Ammo Box Power Supply

This was a quick project made mostly from stuff I already had.  I had seen the small plastic ammo boxes at Walmart but never really needed one since I prefer the larger 50cal metal cans for storing ammo.  In any case I built a Stratux ADS-B receiver that required more current draw than what my RavPower power bank could supply.  Rather than buy a newer one and run into the same problem knowing these are designed for charging phones and tablets, I decided to just build a supply from items I already had besides the ammo box and switches.  It’s basically a 12v scooter type battery with a switch bank that can energize the USB and 12v outlets individually.  The battery is friction fit inside the ammo can and the switch plate is screwed onto the front of the can and rewired to turn the outlets on individually.  There are probably lithium power packs that can accomplish the same thing that are lighter and smaller, but this solution is drop dead reliable and made from easily obtained items from Amazon and Walmart.

Posted in Aviation | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Great American Eclipse 2017 at West Carolina Regional

It was a long day of flying but worth it.  About three and a half hours there and another three and a half back over mostly mountains and some weaving around clouds to stay VFR but we made it there in time for the eclipse and were back home just before dark.  We stopped at Mountain Empire to refuel which wasn’t really necessary.  We made it from West Carolina Regional back home with well over an hour of fuel to spare on the way back flying mostly direct.  The eclipse was well worth seeing in complete totality.  Others who only saw the partial eclipse were very underwhelmed.  Even at 98% coverage there is still enough light for it to just get a bit darker and not be able to see the halo.  At totality it really is impressive and you are able to see the eclipse for a couple minutes without eye protection.  The trip was worth it even if the airports did overcharge for fuel.

Posted in Aviation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Akaso EK7000 4K Action Camera

I think my fascination with budget action cameras stops here.  Yes this camera does record in 4K but it’s not GoPro, Garmin, Sony, etc. 4K.  You really do get what you pay for and the video from those cameras is markedly sharper with more accurate colors than these budget cameras.  While I’m not so disappointed as to send it back, if I had it to do again I think I’d just get another Wimius Q1 since I like that camera better even though it’s a little older.  If all you want is a cheap camera to record whatever floats your specific boat (or flies my plane in my case) this camera is fine.  It’s function and quality are almost identical to the Wimius Q1 except the Wimius has a much better user interface, a solid driver for transferring via USB, better time lapse options, and the Wimius records in true 30 frames per second in 4K where the Akaso only does 25 frames per second in 4K.  I would highly recommend the Wimius over the Akaso if you’re looking for a budget action camera.

Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Our flight to Shenendoah

Dominique is still getting used to the whole small plane thing so for her first bonafide cross-country trip we flew out to KSHD Shenendoah, stopped to stretch our legs, then back home.  In hindsight somewhere a little less scenic might have been a better choice with the wind that whips around the hills there but it is a nice airport to visit and the people at the FBO are super friendly helpful.  The flight itself was about two weeks ago on July 15th.

Posted in Aviation | Leave a comment

Friday Fun Flight in my new Cherokee

This is a quick video I made of just having fun with my new toy about a week after I brought it home to KCJR.  Since then I’ve been mostly concerned with sprucing up the interior.  It used to be an occasional trainer that was well maintained by the owner who is also a CFI and an A&P.  Keeping it mechanically sound and airworthy were his main concerns but sadly the interior and panel are extremely dated.  As of this writing, I’ve had the panel fascia taken out, repainted and repaired, recovered the seats and have run the wiring and installed a permanent iPad mount.

Next on the list is replacing the floor carpet that is in really sad shape.  I’ve removed the rear seats but kept everything intact so they can be easily just bolted back in.  The rear seats and cargo area carpet is still servicable so I think I’ll just place a protective mat over the whole area and call it good.  Since it really will be mostly a cargo area, I’m not going to be picky about the appearance back there.

All of the door panels are also in dire need of replacement.  The pilot’s side isn’t too bad but the copilot’s side is falling apart.  Amazingly as bad as the door panels are the door seal is still in very good shape except for a minor repair near the floor.

It’s all slow going right now with it being summer, and there are other more fun things to do than work inside a cockpit in Virginia where we have virtually no wind and some days are 100 degrees with 100% humidity.

Posted in Aviation | Leave a comment

Winchester Area Flight

Flight from back towards the end of April after getting checked out in the Piper Warrior, basically just getting some experience as I was planning to purchase a Piper Cherokee or Warrior.  As of this writing I’m the proud owner of a Piper Cherokee since the beginning of June.  I just haven’t posted in a while.

Posted in Aviation | Leave a comment

First solo flight in a Piper Cherokee Warrior

Last friday was an awesome day for flying.  Almost no wind, beautiful sunny day, and a virtually infinite ceiling.  I got some practice in the Warrior at the Av-Ed flight school in Winchester in preparation for purchasing my own.  Video coverage is from about 2500 to 4500 feet MSL depending on which direction I was flying and what I wanted to check out while I was practicing maneuvers.

Posted in Aviation | Leave a comment

Zoom H4N Pro Portable Audio Recorder

I picked up this recorder a few months ago for recording cockpit audio and various amateur recording tasks where I might want better audio in the field than what simply recording with my phone is capable of.  It’s a bit large and the audio quality is massive overkill if you just want it for cockpit audio but I wanted something more versatile.  As Zoom proclaims, the mic preamps are excellent, having made some excellent test recordings from some higher end condenser mics in the studio.  The built-in microphones are excellent; not as good as a high quality condenser microphone on the XLR inputs, but for voice and some limited percussion recordings I tried, they’re very good.  The wind screens on the built-in microphones aren’t going to block out any wind but for recording normal speech from a distance they’re functional.  The auto-level is very handy for recording in the cockpit with such widely varying levels, especially in rental planes where I don’t have the opportunity to really sit and play to get things just right.

Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment