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Old 07-10-2012, 07:41 PM
Ironflight's Avatar
Ironflight Ironflight is offline
VAF Moderator / Line Boy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 12,872
Default The Automated RV-3

We?re having a full week of rain in the Houston area ? the mornings seem sort of OK, then deteriorate into either Thunderstorms or steady drenchers once the atmosphere wakes up. Quite a change from the great drought of 2011, but it makes it hard to enjoy a little flying. One benefit, however, is that the air is very smooth before the rains set in, and this morning I was up in Tsam, playing around with a few maneuvers and watching on the XM as some rain showers slowly crept in from the south. Now that we have over a hundred hours on the airframe and have worked out most of the kinks, I have been trying to take part of each flight to gain more experience and do some testing with the G3X/GXPilot/GNS 430W system. We plan on using the airplane for instrument flight (hence all that equipment), but I like to go slow getting there with a new airplane.

Today, with no traffic and smooth air, it looked like a good opportunity to try for a fully-coupled, complete approach at our local ILS runway. I wanted to see the system do the whole thing, horizontal and vertical, including the full procedure turn. I was about 20 miles southeast of KLBX at 3,000? when I got started ? brought up the approach on the 430W and activated it, then punched up ?External? on the G3X flight planning page. This immediately populated the G3X flight plan with the waypoints for the approach, and told the G3X we were going into approach mode ? the 430W was driving. I engaged the G3X with the stick trigger, and this brought it up already integrated to the EFIS in pitch and roll hold. The next thing was to get it descending and headed to the IAF, so I dialed in 2500?, a 500 fpm descent, and punched it into ?Nav? mode. Tsam obeyed immediately with a turn in the proper direction and a little dip of the nose. From here on out, all I was going to do was work the throttle and cross-check the airplane?s flying.

Coming up on FREEP (the IAF and FAF), the 430W was in GPS mode and counting down to the start of an anticipation turn to join the localizer outbound. It executed this perfectly, just as we reached 2500?, and the G3X echoed the Tru Trak?s call for a little nose-up trim. Once we were stabilized outbound, I dialed in another descent to 2100? and pulled back a little on the power, just as we came up to the procedure turn ? which Tsam executed just like she knew what she was doing. The ?Stay within this circle? circle was on the chart and we stayed tucked nicely inside ? the course reversal was crisp at a bank angle for a two-minute turn. I had the Waypoint page set up to look at the approach plate (with the little purple airplane displayed in the correct position) with a single click of the knob on the MFD. As we swung around the far side of the procedure turn, the 430W clicked into VLOC mode and this was reflected on the PFD as the ILS bars came up, along with the Highway in the Sky boxes. I stilled hadn?t touched anything but the throttle and trim, and now took off a little more power to get us down to 120 knots. Tsam bobbed appropriately to stay on the glide slope as we slowed ? the smooth air made it feel like I was flying a desktop simulator, and we were on rails.

I watched the GS diamond crawl down the scale and when it hit the center, the nose bobbed again, and down we went ? I flicked on the fuel pump, pushed the mixture forward, and checked the lights. I?d get flaps and the prop on short final. The Velocity Vector was pegged right in the middle of the boxes on the PFD, and nailed to the numbers on the virtual runway. Pulling back on the throttle pitched us up ever so slightly as we slowed a little more. Tsam was in a happy place with the G3X and Tru Trak making nary a wiggle all the way from the FAF to the runway. I finally disengaged at 200?, pulled the power smoothly back as I raised the nose and thumbed the flaps out. Prop in, then flared to land. Wow ? so that?s what the stick feels like! I hadn?t touched it since the last series of loops and rolls ten minutes earlier.

Although I have been involved in the development and testing of advanced avionics in flying machines my whole career, it still amazes me what our experimental avionics can do. From ?take me to an airport? to touchdown, I had used the stick only once ? and the button-pushing itself was pretty minimal. I could spend my time heads-up, checking the maps and altitudes, making sure that Tsam was on the straight and narrow ? not using a third of my own CPU to fly it myself. I still love to hand fly, and have flown numerous practice approaches that way in the airplane already. But especially in a single-seater, with no other human to share the load ? the coupled approach capability is certainly a safety enhancement and load reliever. I think even Lieutenant Doolittle would be proud?.

Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Dayton Valley Airpark (A34)
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:11 PM
jbDC9 jbDC9 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 918

What, no autothrottle? No dual channel Cat III autoland?? It's gotta be on back order from Stein...
John Bixby
RV-8 QB sn 82030 - 1st flight Nov 2006
O-360-A1D/CS prop/Pmags
1875 hrs
Houston, TX
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:36 AM
BobTurner BobTurner is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 7,904

I have to say-my GRT/Trio combination does all this, too, plus it also takes care of the trim.
It is quite amazing. My last plane (C-182) had a one axis analog autopilot that could hold a heading at cruise speed but wallowed all over the place at approach speeds.
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Old 07-11-2012, 05:51 AM
humptybump humptybump is offline
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 3,181

Thanks Paul for the write up. One of my take-aways is that many of us have technology in our planes we do not fully understand or exploit.

I have a VFR plane but it does have an autopilot with vertical control. I do not have the requisite GPS to perform vertical navigation. However, the 696 does report VNAV and I can easily dial the AP to a 500fpm decent so I do it to arrive near the airport a little above pattern altitude. Then I fly the pattern.

Like you noted, I can easily hand fly all of this but using the tools I have in the cockpit let's me use more of my faculties to focus outside the cockpit. I also use the extra bandwidth to organize my cockpit, put away things that came out during my cross country phase (the charts, water bottle, etc), and generally make the mental switch from enroute to arrival. I arrive at the pattern, prepared and unrushed.

My other take-away is that it's both easy and fun to practice this stuff when you can rather than figure it out when you need it.
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:31 AM
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N8RV N8RV is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Elkhart, Indiana
Posts: 1,186

Originally Posted by humptybump View Post
Thanks Paul for the write up. One of my take-aways is that many of us have technology in our planes we do not fully understand or exploit...
Good report, Paul.

And an excellent point about this advanced equipment, Glen. We don't ALL need to have the latest and greatest in our panels (sorry, Stein!)

My Dynon D-100 EFIS and D-120 EMS are practically dinosaurs now. My simple TruTrak ADI Pilot II is equally antiquated. My gut yearns to update my panel with some new stuff, but thankfully my wallet says no.

A typical flight profile for me is to take off, circle my house, fly over our lake house, do a few rolls and head back to base to land and clean off bugs. That's it. No cross-country trips, no IFR, no flight plans. Why in the world do I need the fancy stuff? Other than for bragging rights, I don't.

I add this for the benefit of those who are contemplating their panels and are pining for the fancy stuff. Before you buy thousands of dollars of fancy-schmancy stuff for your panel, do some introspection into whether you will ever really use the stuff or if it's just for looks. Also know that, whatever you buy, it will be mostly obsolete before you fly for the first time.

It amazes me what these new panels will do -- but I know that I wouldn't have a clue how to use or interpret most of the information displayed.

I like my old Dynons.
Don McNamara
Peoria, AZ

Builder: RV-8 "Smokey"

Last edited by N8RV : 07-11-2012 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:16 PM
the_other_dougreeves the_other_dougreeves is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Dallas, TX (ADS)
Posts: 2,180

Very nice. Hope you weren't trying to come to KLBX this morning, or you should have painted Junior like a duck.

Doug "The Other Doug Reeves" Reeves
CTSW N621CT - SOLD but not forgotten
Home Bases LBX, BZN
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:56 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
VAF Moderator / Line Boy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 12,872

Originally Posted by the_other_dougreeves View Post
....Hope you weren't trying to come to KLBX this morning, or you should have painted Junior like a duck.

Nope - when I asked if anyone wanted to go out, everyone elected to stay tucked in the dry hangar this morning!
Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Dayton Valley Airpark (A34)
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:07 PM
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YellerDaisy YellerDaisy is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Mountain Southwest
Posts: 203

That is VERY kewl Paul!!
RV-4 - 160HP O-320 - Sensenich GA
RV-3B - O-320 - "Daisy" (sold)
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Old 07-12-2012, 06:35 AM
TS Flightlines TS Flightlines is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Ridgeland, SC
Posts: 2,954

WOW! gee i see what I'm missing!
Tom Swearengen, TS Flightlines LLC, AS Flightlines
Joint Venture with Aircraft Specialty
Teflon Hose Assemblies for Experimentals
Proud Vendor for RV1, Donator to VAF
RV7A Tail Kit Completed, Fuse started-Pay as I go Plan, on hold while we develop new products for RV builders
Ridgeland, SC,
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Old 07-12-2012, 06:36 AM
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LAMPSguy LAMPSguy is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Pensacola, FL
Posts: 377
Default Great systems

Obviously there are many ways to provide a fairly well integrated system in home build aircraft. Does anyone have a reasonable schwa (or even hard numbers) how these systems affect weight? I have tried to find numbers, but there are a lot of variables (harness, one vs 4 cylinder temps, etc). My assumption from what I have found is that for the SAME capabilities, glass and electronic CB's, etc seem to at least not be too much heavier?

RV-15 in planning stages.
RV-7 shared.
RV-14 #140050 SOLD

Permanently willing to contribute fuel for RV rides

Helicopter ATP/CFI(I)
ASEL/Glider Commercial/Inst/CFI(I)
Aerobatic Enthusiast
Enjoying flying the 747 around the world.
Atlanta based.
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