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View Full Version : Turn Coordinator Died - Time for Autopilot?


Rutus
08-19-2008, 09:23 AM
My not-so-trusty turn coordinator (Falcon) has finally died after ~200 hrs. From the start it was noisy - sounded like our KitchenAid stand mixer working on a load of bread dough :rolleyes: - but over the last few months operation became intermittent, and now it is deceased.

So, what to do? My plane is not yet IFR equipped (need a nav device and perhaps a few other items) but has a vacuum DG and AI. The longer trips I've done so far make me think that an autopilot might be worth dropping the $$ on, and now I am wondering if putting one in in place of the dead TC would be a smart solution. Van's has the TruTrak single and two axis units, and I guess I would be leaning towards the 2 axis if I am going to go through the effort to install an autopilot, plus that would be nice if I eventually get my instrument rating and fit the plane with the rest of the necessary equipment for IFR.

Part of my thinking, also, is that I am scheduled to have the plane painted (finally) by Sunquest at Paine Field this winter, and would like to finish off any mods/upgrades/changes that might involve cutting and working on the sheet metal before that happens.

So - what say you autopilot experts? What kind of AP? Would I still want a simple bank indicator on the panel too, since the TC would be going away? Any other things I ought to be thinking about?

Thanks for the advice!

B25Flyer
08-19-2008, 10:36 AM
Put in a TT pictorial pilot and you can always upgrade TT stuff for full credit.

Tailwinds,
Doug Rozendaal

Bob Axsom
08-19-2008, 10:53 AM
The pictorial Pilot has the turn indicator and ball built in with a digital display of current track or commanded track angle when the autopilot function is selected on the unit. It all fits in the old turn coordinator hole. The Altrak altitude hold requires only a push button (momentary "on") switch hole be added to the panel. That is what I am using in my RV-6A. I pulled the turn coordinator that I originally installed after flying for a couple of years of single pilot IFR with no autopilot and deciding that was too darn hard (scary). It was not at all like my trusty old Archer II that I flew IFR for more than 20 years and almost never used the autopilot. The Altitude hold is extremely valuable in the RV-6A.

Bob Axsom

Jamie
08-19-2008, 11:19 AM
Not installing an altitude hold unit is the only real regret I have about my airplane. The roll autopilot is almost useless, IMHO because I always (continuously) have to check altitude anyway. The RV is so pitch sensitive that even moving your leg or placing your arm over the passenger seat back will cause the pitch trim to be off. As soon as I work out my current autopilot issue I will be installing altitude hold.

Rutus
08-19-2008, 11:41 AM
The Pictorial Pilot looks like a nice setup, and Spruce has it for $1,950. I suppose I could install that first, then add an Altrak like Bob has. I tend to agree with Jamie, the -6 is hard to keep at a precise altitude and if I were in situations (even VFR) where keeping an accurate altitude was important, I would still be "hand flying" to a certain extent.

The TruTrak DigiFlight II series, or the ADI Pilot II would provide 2 axis control for about the same total price as a Pictorial Pilot + Altrak combination. What are the pros and cons between these different approaches? I've read the info on Tru Trak's site but would appreciate any "real world" experience or feedback.

Whatever I do, it will be a lot easier to make my next trip to Minnesota compared to hand flying like my last one.. :)

Sam Buchanan
08-19-2008, 11:45 AM
The Pictorial Pilot looks like a nice setup, and Spruce has it for $1,950. I suppose I could install that first, then add an Altrak like Bob has. I tend to agree with Jamie, the -6 is hard to keep at a precise altitude and if I were in situations (even VFR) where keeping an accurate altitude was important, I would still be "hand flying" to a certain extent.

The TruTrak DigiFlight II series, or the ADI Pilot II would provide 2 axis control for about the same total price as a Pictorial Pilot + Altrak combination. What are the pros and cons between these different approaches? I've read the info on Tru Trak's site but would appreciate any "real world" experience or feedback.

Whatever I do, it will be a lot easier to make my next trip to Minnesota compared to hand flying like my last one.. :)

John, you might consider adding the Trio Pro Pilot to your shopping list?

http://www.trioavionics.com/ProPilot.htm

By the way, once you discover how accurately the digital autopilots can hold altitude, you probably won't be doing much hand flying. The digi boxes can fly an RV better than we can. :)

Rutus
08-19-2008, 11:59 AM
Sam's post reminds me that there are other options besides Tru Trak, and the Trio was one that had crossed my mind. My impression from seeing posts on VAF over the last few years is that both companies are generally well regarded and people have been happy with their respective products. The Trio Pro appears to have some additional functions that the PP + Altrak combo does not.

I see that the Trio Pro is not due to ship until September, and whether that is a realistic date is unknown, and could be a factor for me.

the_other_dougreeves
08-19-2008, 12:09 PM
I have the ADI Pilot II, which has heading hold, GPS NAV and altitude hold. No vertical speed or approach mode, but if you're VFR, who cares? Plus, it acts as a TC / horizon, has internal LED lighting and fits in a 3 1/8" mount. A good deal for $4000.

Using it as a horizon reference has been debated because it's not a "true gyro unit", but it's the only horizon reference in mine and many other airplanes. Fly it and decide for yourself.

TODR

Sam Buchanan
08-19-2008, 12:47 PM
I have the ADI Pilot II, which has heading hold, GPS NAV and altitude hold. No vertical speed or approach mode, but if you're VFR, who cares? Plus, it acts as a TC / horizon, has internal LED lighting and fits in a 3 1/8" mount. A good deal for $4000.

Using it as a horizon reference has been debated because it's not a "true gyro unit", but it's the only horizon reference in mine and many other airplanes. Fly it and decide for yourself.

TODR

My RV-6 is flown VFR-only, and at one time (while I was flying an AlTrak) I didn't see where a pitch autopilot with climb and descent capabilities would be of any value to me.

I changed my mind after flying the Trio EZ-Hold-3 for...oh.....thirty minutes. :)

The climb/descent feature is used on nearly every breakfast run now, and I must admit, I'm totally spoiled to having the plane maintain a beautiful climb or descent profile without the pilot's intervention.

Necessary in VMC? Absolutely not. But it sure is nice. :)

By the way, it has been my experience the Trio guys are usually very close on their shipping dates. The are renowned for not shipping until their toys are ready for prime-time.

Rutus
08-19-2008, 01:56 PM
The ProPilot is a pretty attractive looking package - I called Jerry at Trio and he advised that they will be issuing a few units to their beta test group very soon, and are still on target to ship to customers beginning the end of September. For an order placed now, shipping would probably take place late October - early November.

I'll continue to give this some thought. My general gut feeling right now is that there are probably no "bad" options amongst the ones discussed in this thread, and it may be hard to ascertain the "best" option because everyone's preferences are different, and the choices are all attractive. ANY of these would be better than hand flying the next long XC trip.....

LifeofReiley
08-19-2008, 02:01 PM
My not-so-trusty turn coordinator (Falcon) has finally died after ~200 hrs. From the start it was noisy - sounded like our KitchenAid stand mixer working on a load of bread dough :rolleyes: - but over the last few months operation became intermittent, and now it is deceased.

So, what to do? My plane is not yet IFR equipped (need a nav device and perhaps a few other items) but has a vacuum DG and AI. The longer trips I've done so far make me think that an autopilot might be worth dropping the $$ on, and now I am wondering if putting one in in place of the dead TC would be a smart solution. Van's has the TruTrak single and two axis units, and I guess I would be leaning towards the 2 axis if I am going to go through the effort to install an autopilot, plus that would be nice if I eventually get my instrument rating and fit the plane with the rest of the necessary equipment for IFR.

Part of my thinking, also, is that I am scheduled to have the plane painted (finally) by Sunquest at Paine Field this winter, and would like to finish off any mods/upgrades/changes that might involve cutting and working on the sheet metal before that happens.

So - what say you autopilot experts? What kind of AP? Would I still want a simple bank indicator on the panel too, since the TC would be going away? Any other things I ought to be thinking about?

Thanks for the advice!

If you will be working towards flying IFR in your plane you will need a T/C. The TruTrak is not really a T/C and they do not want you flying IFR with it.

Best,

Rutus
08-19-2008, 02:28 PM
So I need a turn coordinator even with an artificial horizon and DG? Does the Trio ProPilot provide that function?? :confused:

Ironflight
08-19-2008, 03:46 PM
The ADI Pilot serves extremely well as a Turn Coordinator, as it DOES show rate of turn, and even has a slip/skid ball - voilà - turn coordination!

It also is a very nice autopilot....

Paul

Sam Buchanan
08-19-2008, 04:41 PM
So I need a turn coordinator even with an artificial horizon and DG? Does the Trio ProPilot provide that function?? :confused:

The Trio systems have a mechanical slip ball and a digital turn coordinator in the set of display options. I've never tried flying solely by the turn coordinator in the EZ-Pilot (if in that kind of bind I would let the autopilot fly the plane...), but I think it would be completely functional once you got accustomed to the "digital" display. The times I've messed around with the turn coordinator display it worked very nicely.

http://www.trioavionics.com/TRN%20180%20color.jpg

The "arrows" indicate standard rate of turn.

LifeofReiley
08-19-2008, 11:47 PM
The ADI Pilot serves extremely well as a Turn Coordinator, as it DOES show rate of turn, and even has a slip/skid ball - voilà - turn coordination!

It also is a very nice autopilot....

Paul

I have a Tru-Trak Pilot A/P, it's a very nice unit. But, if you're flying IFR you do not want it as a stand alone for sure. There was an email discussion regarding these units and IFR issues back in DEC 2007 with Lucas Massengale, Technical Support, TruTrak Flight Systems. I will not go into detail. For sure do not rely on the unit for horizon in IFR as a stand alone. I should add, a true turn coordinator... If all your looking at is the ball, well...

Bob Axsom
08-20-2008, 01:58 AM
Reiley, as I said earlier I have the Pictorial Pilot which I placed in the TC hole and I do fly with it IFR all the time. It has the standard rate turn marks and the turn indicator and the ball. In about 25 years of flying IFR I have only had to resort to the turn coordinator once or twice when the AI was unusable because of the vacuum pump failure. The Pictorial Pilot is certainly as good as the standard turn coordinator for that function. I still have the vacuum driven gyros AI and DG plus airspeed, altitude, a VOR/LOC/GS Nav, alt encoded transponder and vertical rate which is all I need for /U equipped IFR. The performance is very reliable. I don't see a risk there but I know you are trying to provide useful information to me and others so I am asking for more information if you still have the e-mail around. If I were replacing the AI with an instrument that did not provide reliable (or any) pitch information I can see that as a problem.

Bob Axsom

Jamie
08-20-2008, 05:19 AM
I have a Tru-Trak Pilot A/P, it's a very nice unit. But, if you're flying IFR you do not want it as a stand alone for sure. There was an email discussion regarding these units and IFR issues back in DEC 2007 with Lucas Massengale, Technical Support, TruTrak Flight Systems. I will not go into detail. For sure do not rely on the unit for horizon in IFR as a stand alone. I should add, a true turn coordinator... If all your looking at is the ball, well I guess your okay.

To echo Bob's comment -- in a standard six pack configuration in the event of vacuum failure one should resort to using the turn coordinator to level the wings and the VSI for pitch. This is precisely what the ADI shows. As long as people realize that and don't mistake it for true attitude, I don't see what the problem could be. I too would be interested in hearing any caveats of this unit as I'm considering installing it as a backup for my EFIS unit for my IFR upgrade.

TrutrakTech
08-20-2008, 07:51 AM
The Pictorial Pilot is a single axis A/P with our Turn & Bank instrument built into. It IS a turn coordinator as it indicates rate of turn.

The ADI does not indicate rate of turn, but rather bank angle.

dynonsupport
08-20-2008, 08:43 AM
If you are considering a two axis AP, consider the Dynon solution of a D10A + two servos.

This solution runs $3700 and gives you:
Two axis AP, including altitude changing (not just holding)
Full attitude display
Turn Rate
Ball
Airspeed
Altitude
Magnetic heading
Vertical speed
...and a lot more

If you look at our pricing for a two axis system, you can see that we're about the same price as other two axis systems, but we give you more AP features and we give you a full "free" EFIS in the mix too.

Come down to our office in Woodinville sometime and check us out.

LifeofReiley
08-20-2008, 09:32 AM
As I stated before, I'm not going into the email details nor am I going to bash TruTrac. I have a single axis Pilot One... a great product for its A/P function. I also have an electric turn coordinator primary. I bet one of the hard IFR flyers will have it figured out soon.

Rutus
08-20-2008, 03:02 PM
I appreciate all of the feedback on this inquiry, even if it is sometimes of opposing viewpoint. I did check FAR 91.205 (or was it 215) and yes, Reilly is right, they want a turn and bank indicator along with AI and DG. So, that has to be factored in somehow.

Life would be so much easier if we all were stuck with buying or renting a 30 year old certificated "POS" and had to accept whatever was in the panel. :rolleyes: Having to select and do it yourself does open lots more opportunities, but also more decisions that are not always easy to make.

Sam Buchanan
08-20-2008, 03:49 PM
I appreciate all of the feedback on this inquiry, even if it is sometimes of opposing viewpoint. I did check FAR 91.205 (or was it 215) and yes, Reilly is right, they want a turn and bank indicator along with AI and DG. So, that has to be factored in somehow.

Life would be so much easier if we all were stuck with buying or renting a 30 year old certificated "POS" and had to accept whatever was in the panel. :rolleyes: Having to select and do it yourself does open lots more opportunities, but also more decisions that are not always easy to make.

Just to make your life a little more complicated :) you do not need to have discreet DG and TC if the equipment in your panel will provide equivalent data. There are many RV's legally equipped for IFR that have fully glass panels with no antique round dials.

The equipment that has been described in this thread that has turn coordinator displays that indicate standard-rate turns will satisfy 91.205 just as readily as a single EFIS will satisfy the requirement for attitude indicator, DG, VSI, airspeed, altimeter and TC.

Go ahead and get an autopilot, one with a TC display if you have nothing else in the panel that will serve as a turn coordinator. In my opinion an autopilot is the biggest contributor to safe IFR ops you can install in your panel (with XM weather running a close second). I would not fly an RV in IMC without one.

Webb
11-15-2009, 02:10 PM
My Falcon turn indicator DOA at 221 hours........

Kyle Boatright
11-15-2009, 03:00 PM
My Falcon turn indicator DOA at 221 hours........

I can send you mine for a small fee. It lasted 600+ hours before I removed it (still working) and installed a TT autopilot.

Webb
11-15-2009, 05:04 PM
I can send you mine for a small fee. It lasted 600+ hours before I removed it (still working) and installed a TT autopilot.

Talk to me......PM sent