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  #1  
Old 10-01-2015, 11:44 AM
Lancair Super ES Lancair Super ES is offline
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: York, PA
Posts: 96
Default Vertical Power VP200 CU failures

Below is an excerpt of an e-mail that I sent to Chad at Ballard/Astronics regarding multiple CU failures in my legacy VP200. I was hoping to get some more insight into the problem before I rip out a system that has very good functionality and I have otherwise been pleased with. My only hope is that Marc Ausman will see this and chime in to help, because Ballard won't/can't help. My direct e-mail is esn14gp@yahoo.com




Hi Jason! It was good catching up with you at the Lancair fly-in in Denver last week. I appreciate your ideas for dealing with my VP200 shutdown issues. I am copying Chad Jensen on this so he is in the loop.

I had my 3rd CU failure flying home from Denver last Monday. Flying along in a thin, light stratus layer at 9000’ for quite some time. All goes dark. I had the foresight to have the COM1 and AP bypass relays already ON. The AP did lose the GPSS signal but I switched over to AP TRK. Rebooted VP200 with the green, still on, button. Came up in manual mode, then it switched to automatic. Both pitot heat and strobe devices were faulted when it came back up. Descended out of clouds, and just left them alone for remainder of trip.

As you may recall, my first failure was the day about 2 months ago that I called both you and Chad. That also happened in IMC…clouds, rain, bumpy. Diverted to KSGJ and landed to sort it out. Rebooted fine on ground; called both you guys. Flew home a bit later in VFR conditions. That first event was at about 150 hours TT, and shortly after final paint was done (had been flying in primer up until then). The second event was about 20 hours later and, ironically, about the same geographic area, heading the opposite direction! Just punching through some isolated small cumulus clouds. Rebooted that time as well, this time in the air. Monday's’s 3rd failure was at about 195 hours TT.

It seems being in the clouds is common to each failure. Also, seems to me that the recent painting may have an effect? I had zero problems up to the first failure. Could it be static? What can be done to mitigate that?

I am going to check the ground wire to the VP CU case this weekend. My builder’s log shows that I installed it as required, but I don’t have a good picture in my file to verify that.

I have lost confidence in the VP system, and short of some solution from Ballard/VP, I would like for you to work on designing a replacement solution as we discussed. I am open to the VPX route you mentioned, but wonder if I will have the same issue. The other option is to go to fuses and switches installed in the area vacated by the DU. I guess we can wait for Chad and VP to chime in before doing any hard core design work.

Chad, any thoughts or direction? I realize the VP200 has been orphaned and is not supported by Ballard, but would appreciate any input you, Marc, or the engineer may have.

Thanks, guys.

Gordon Porter

Lancair ES
N144GP

Last edited by Lancair Super ES : 10-01-2015 at 02:18 PM. Reason: clarified reason for reaching out on VAF
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  #2  
Old 10-01-2015, 02:05 PM
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SMO SMO is offline
 
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Location: Salmon Arm, BC
Posts: 933
Default

Please keep us updated on the result. I too have a VP-200, and am in the midst of redoing my panel. I am keeping the 200 because I really like it, but do have some misgivings regarding this decision. Mine has operated flawlessly however I have not yet operated in IMC - will continue to pursue my instrument rating in the spring.

I sincerely hope you find a solution. If not, and you decide to replace the VP-200 I believe there is a market for it as I would be interested and I have seen a post from another who is interested in parts.
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  #3  
Old 11-21-2015, 03:12 PM
Lancair Super ES Lancair Super ES is offline
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: York, PA
Posts: 96
Default Update as of 11-21-15

I did get a private e-mail from Marc. I was surprised he replied, but Marc is a stand up guy. He was polite, but of no help. He said since it was "random" he had no ideas. Well, it really wasn't random... it occurred 3 times, all in IMC bumping around in the clouds. It started after 180 hours flying in primer, just after getting painted. I can only assume it is a static issue.

Before ripping it out, I decided to run 2 more grounds wire, making sure then were done perfectly. That was 30+ hours ago, and no more incidents. I have been avoiding IMC, fearing that all would go dark again. But, I have been through some clouds and so far all good. I did work out an emergency checklist of sorts so that I know exactly what to do if it happens again.

Jason at Aerotronics was recommending replacing it with a VPX. That might make technical sense, but this whole VP think has left a bad taste in my mouth. And, not knowing what the problem really is, I wonder if I am just trading the problem into a new $ystem.

Fingers crossed, but I can tell you it is no fun in the clouds wondering if things will go dark again.

Gordon
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  #4  
Old 11-21-2015, 03:26 PM
David-aviator David-aviator is offline
 
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Location: Chesterfield, Missouri
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Individual switches almost never fail and are easy to replace if they do, said the old pilot who likes switches...
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  #5  
Old 11-21-2015, 03:35 PM
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Auburntsts Auburntsts is offline
 
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Location: Tampa, FL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David-aviator View Post
Individual switches almost never fail and are easy to replace if they do, said the old pilot who likes switches...
For me, replacing the VP's switch panel and adding a few more analog switches is not the issue. It's replacing all of the ECBs in the VP's Control Unit with analog CBs--that would be a significant amount of work. Not insurmountable, but very tedious and time consuming.
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  #6  
Old 11-22-2015, 01:13 AM
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skylor skylor is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Southern California
Posts: 959
Default Fuses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Auburntsts View Post
For me, replacing the VP's switch panel and adding a few more analog switches is not the issue. It's replacing all of the ECBs in the VP's Control Unit with analog CBs--that would be a significant amount of work. Not insurmountable, but very tedious and time consuming.
CB's aren't the only option. I'm using ATC style fuse blocks for all of my circuit protection (per aeroelectric connection guidance) and haven't had a single failure in 500 hours, including IMC flight in clouds. Simple, light, cheap, and reliable!

Skylor
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  #7  
Old 11-22-2015, 05:57 AM
David-aviator David-aviator is offline
 
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Location: Chesterfield, Missouri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skylor View Post
CB's aren't the only option. I'm using ATC style fuse blocks for all of my circuit protection (per aeroelectric connection guidance) and haven't had a single failure in 500 hours, including IMC flight in clouds. Simple, light, cheap, and reliable!

Skylor
RV-8
No "Acres of Breakers here"
ATC fuses is the way to go these days...they work and are reliable. There are very high quality fuse boxes available at marine supply retailers.
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Last edited by David-aviator : 11-22-2015 at 06:07 AM.
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  #8  
Old 01-28-2016, 11:54 AM
alex48 alex48 is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Port Orange, fl
Posts: 7
Default VPX flap runaway

While finishing up on my RV-7A, I noticed the flaps set to max the motor would run. I had installed the position pot and noticed that position one and two were steady and position 3 would fluctuate. So on Decmber 13, I made my maiden flight. Everything worked except I noticed flaps again motor running after I landed. On my third flight practiced slow flight with full flaps then flew back to home base and on final no flaps. Big enough runway so no problems. Skyview displayed VPX fault which I had seen few times before and it was always the flaps needed reset. Well after reset this time the flaps failed every time. Talk to Chad and he seems to be familiar with the flap problem, if the board was a specific serial number then they would swap the board. Today I received a call from Chad explaining to me that another part of the board failed so it is not under warranty and the cost, wow $600. I question the warranty and was told it started when I purchased the unit. I had the unit installed over two yrs ago so how would I know if it would work until I put to use. VPX has some very nice features but I doubt it's worth the money considering it could easily fail since there is no data on long term use. I was so discussted that I am debating on replacing the whole system to manual. After the failure I realized that there must be a backup system in place, but if you do that then might as well switch to manual resettable fuses. Installed backup power for the Skyview and Garmin 430 but I have no plans in flying this plane IFR. Can we get some feedback form the community on these units. Specifically the most hours flown using VPX.
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  #9  
Old 01-28-2016, 12:52 PM
Bevan Bevan is offline
 
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Location: BC
Posts: 1,700
Default

While I'm not a VP user, I do have an opinion on the concept.

Other than possibly simplifying the installation and perhaps a little bit of cool factor, why install an additional, and very complex piece of hardware, designed and produced for one specific application, to do simple jobs that can be reliably accomplished, AND maintained by traditional devices that are cheap, reliable, available from multiple manufacturers and understood by just about anybody who's ever worked on a car/airplane? IOW, think long term.

Just my opinion, don't blow a fuse.

Bevan
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  #10  
Old 01-28-2016, 02:10 PM
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LettersFromFlyoverCountry LettersFromFlyoverCountry is offline
 
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Default

The VP-200 did things that would be much harder to replicate on your own . It wasn't just a replacement for CBs and/or fuses.

My favorite was the emergency shedding in which it would shed load for you in an emergency while you concentrate on flying the plane.

As I recall Marc's original inspiration, it's that he noticed the lights in his BMW (or Mercedes or whatever) went on inside the car when he hit the UNLOCK button on his keys. That's how it was born.

The VP-50/VP-100 are more what you're talking about and for me the answer was simple. One, it saved a lot of space in the panel and, two, it gave me the flexibility to group switches and to change them later if I didn't like them. It also served as a monitor of the entire electrical system. And, at least at the time, it gave us the option to add functionality later with a software upgrade. That's how I got wig-wag after the fact.

and all of that would be fine if the company had kept operating and hadn't orphaned the product. I could see a scenario where customers would come up with new bells and whistles it could do.

But it didn't turn out that way, of course.

All that said, buying the VP-50 turned out to be a very bad idea, even though I just love the product. But the product isn't the problem. It's the orphaning of the product.

When it's time to meet the 2020 mandate for ADS-B and redo my instrument panel, I'll be ripping out the Vertical power system and basically starting over.

To me, it's just too much of a risk now for the control box to go toes up at some remote location and have absolutely no place to turn for service or replacement.

That's simply and unacceptable situation and you can bet I think about how I got in that predicament when it comes to buy stuff.
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