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Old 12-12-2012, 12:01 AM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Location: Dayton, NV
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Default Seeing in the Dark

There is no doubt that an engine-out in a single at night is objectively more dangerous than in the daylight. Unless you happen to be on top of a lighted airport, knowing what you are going to find when you meet the earth is a bit of a dice roll. Synthetic Vision is a big help in keeping you out of the big rocks of course, but wouldn’t it be nice to actually SEE a mountain clearing, a large field, or a country road? How about if you pick out a nice unlighted runway shown on your EFIS – but it happens to be a night-time party spot for deer or wild horses? They aren’t going to show up in the computer models! What you need is a way to see in the dark…

I have been flying recently with just such a way – a FLIR pod (Forward Looking InfraRed) that is offered by Grand Rapids Technology, with the video displayed on the Hx (and now Hxr) screen with flight data overlaid. It looks for all the world like what you might see on a Predator video on the evening news. The Pod mounts to an inspection cover under the wing of the RV, and adds no noticeable drag or yaw moment. The wiring is simple, and a little video converter turns the composite video into a USB data stream that feeds into the GRT EFIS. GRT is needing to do some tweaks right now to the video interface because the folks that build the converter changed something, which means GRT needs to do some re-coding….so they told me to say that they can’t fill orders for it immediately – but they are hoping to make it a priority. They’ve actually had the FLIR pod for a couple of years, pretty much as long as the Hx has been around, and had video capability….they just haven’t been marketing it much. I, for one, think they should!

I posted two videos to YouTube that we shot out at Big Bear Lake during the Thanksgiving timeframe. They say a lot more about what this thing can do than any words I can use! Make sure that you select the highest quality video – 720p is what I was able to see – that makes the video crisp.

The first is a video of the just the FLIR screen through about 140 degrees of turn and then back the other way. The location is just west of the Big Bear Lake Dam, and the view sweeps from southwest to near north and then back. You can see Lake Arrowhead near the end, just before the LA Basin comes into view. I shot this with the camera held at my chest while Louise flew from the back seat – see how well she was able to hold altitude, at night, with no view of the panel!

And this one is a left-hand traffic pattern, low approach, and climb-out at Big Bear Lake, runway 26. It was shot shortly after sunset and includes a view of both the Synthetic Vision screen, FLIR Screen, and out the window (over the glare shield) all at the same time. It starts late on downwind – you might want to bring up the area on Google earth to familiarize yourself with the terrain. On downwind, you can see a flat narrow valley on the FLIR out in the distance. In the turn to base, that valley and a dry lakebed to the east of Big Bear is clearly visible. HiTS is enabled on the Synthetic Vision screen and was used for glide slope reference. Note that on short final, you can see the runway markings on the FLIR - it is very readable! (The ear tube on my Halo gets in the way at one point – sorry!) This was shot by Louise holding the camera over my shoulder from the back seat.

Necessary for flight? No, of course not....but it does mitigate some risk of night and low weather operations. Another way to mitigate those risks is not to fly in those conditions of course. The FLIR simply adds to the toolbox for those who want a little bit more margin.


Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
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Last edited by Ironflight : 12-12-2012 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:33 AM
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Radomir Radomir is offline
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Wow.. Very, very cool Paul.. Great videos... I want it
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:45 AM
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RV6_flyer RV6_flyer is offline
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My big question is How Much? I do not see it listed on their web site.
Gary A. Sobek
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:23 AM
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Kevin Horton Kevin Horton is offline
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Originally Posted by Ironflight View Post
I have been flying recently with just such a way ? a FLIR pod (Forward Looking InfraRed) that is offered by Grand Rapids Technology, with the video displayed on the Hx (and now Hxr) screen with flight data overlaid.
Neat device Paul!

How conformal is the IR image with the EFIS pitch ladder and heading scale?
Kevin Horton
RV-8 (Sold)
Green Bay, WI, USA
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:05 AM
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RV10inOz RV10inOz is offline
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This is seriously a major step forward for us night flyers.

PD, great work and I cant think of anyone better for them to be working with.

Cirrus have a similar system more for taxi movements I think. But this is better.

Bravo GRT.

David Brown

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Old 12-12-2012, 07:24 AM
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Don Don is offline
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Very interesting. I am just starting to install an HX in my 9A. I have already decided no more extras until I am flying but I can sure see where FLIR has an application in night flying. Thanks for the report.
Don Alexander
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:29 AM
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Brantel Brantel is offline
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Very cool world that us Experimental guys get to live in....
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:39 AM
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ColoRv ColoRv is offline
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That is a very cool advancement. Had I not already gone Garmin, this may very well have tipped me the other way. I think that answers your question about should they market it more aggressively.

Edit - after a few minutes of thought about my planes intended mission and my love of night flying, this option would have put me in the HX camp. They should market it very aggressively and Garmin should get on this immediately. IMHO
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Last edited by ColoRv : 12-12-2012 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:52 AM
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AJ85WA AJ85WA is offline
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Default MGL

MGL also has this option

Very cool
AJ Wessels (Perth Australia)

Completed - RV6
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:57 AM
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KatieB KatieB is offline
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Originally Posted by RV6_flyer View Post
My big question is How Much? I do not see it listed on their web site.
Hi Gary,

FLIR for the Horizon EFIS has been around since 2009, but it wasn't marketed very well, so most people don't know about it. There are several units out there flying. Some time ago, the manufacturer of the video adapter changed their software and effectively killed it for this application, so we are going to write our own. (Paul has an older unit on the Valkyrie.) When that's done and we're ready to sell the kits, I'll create a FLIR page with pricing, installation instructions and videos on the GRT website. The system originally ran about $4500-- about a third the cost of similar certified systems. Not cheap, but worth it for people who fly a lot at night.

Now that I've seen today's front page, FLIR will probably move up a few spots on our software engineer's priority list.
Katie Bosman
EAA Homebuilt Aircraft Council
Rebuilt most of SNF tornado victim RV-3B Tony Boy II (had to sell him, but he's flying!)
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Last edited by zilik : 12-12-2012 at 10:59 AM.
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