Gas Turbine!

Before anyone gets excited, this is in reference to BUILDING a gas turbine (jet) engine rather than flying one, but it should be almost as much fun…

I’ve had a gas turbine (jet) engine on my ‘some day’ projects list for a long time. While cleaning the shop the other day I realized that I now have basically everything needed to complete this: a spare turbocharger, old oil pump, numerous microcontroller demo boards, various switches & sensors, scrap metal, and an assortment of plumbing fittings. All that’s needed to make it happen is to design and build it – a fun ‘free’ project.

I started on the combustor tonight. Fabrication should be generally easy compared to the CNC machine build, however without a lathe or mill there are some parts that I will have to fabricate creatively. I have jumped the gun a bit in not designing digitally first. In general the design will consist of wild guesses based on other similar projects online; so I haven’t lost out on anything by not having a digital model first, but I will create one as I go to make future changes easier to understand.

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First Passenger Flight

Christina and I went for a short cross-country flight today. This was the first flight that I wasn’t either solo or with a flight instructor. It was a bit bumpy, but extremely clear and Christina got a lot of pictures.
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Checkride Passed!

I haven’t updated in quite some time; summer was very busy with work, travel, and the occasional practice flight. I documented a number of these things with the intention to later post, however I failed logging into my phone one too many times and it deleted all photos.

Bus: Only minor work done on the bus, mainly more wet-sanding & polishing.

CNC: I created a homemade drag knife for cutting out vinyl/cardboard/paper. This is still a work in progress as are accuracy refinements and fine tuning.

Aviation: I passed the Private Pilot check ride! This generally means I can now fly any single engine land airplane (that does not require a Complex, Hi Performance, or tail-wheel endorsement) to/from any airport (besides the obvious: military/etc); and I can now carry passengers that aren’t flight instructors. I should be getting the official plastic certificate (There’s no such thing as a “Pilot’s License”) card in the next few weeks like the one below.
Private_PilotIn practice, switching to something other than a Cessna 172 would require a little bit of transition training and there are time limitations to renting the trainer plane. So not sure what’s next with this hobby, but there’s a lot to learn and it’s still very interesting…

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Golf Reverse Camera

The rear VW emblem on the golf serves a number of purposes:

#1 – It’s an emblem.

#2 – It’s the latch and handle for opening the rear hatch. Pushing in at the top of the emblem causes the hatch to unlatch and the bottom of the emblem swings out to use as a handle for lifting.

#3 – (what this is all about) It’s a back-up camera. When in reverse, a small camera is pushed through a trap door behind the emblem causing the emblem to swivel up. The golf’s controller knows not to unlatch the hatch if it see the emblem swivel while in reverse (because it’s the camera that has swiveled the emblem, not a person).

Having a backup camera on a car that I can practically lean back and touch the rear windshield from the driver’s seat doesn’t make a lot of sense, most of the time. I have gotten used to it though – it’s great for towing and I have lines on the garage floor that allow for precision parking every time, maximizing usable garage space. A few weeks ago the camera stopped working; I investigated further and found that one of the arms of the extension mechanism had broken off. At that time I grafted a sheet metal strap onto the plastic mechanism and melted parts of it back together. This lasted a about a week, so this weekend I re-produced the entire plastic part completely with steel.

During the many cycles of assembly and dis-assembly of the camera mechanism I encountered a problem where any time it was put into reverse the hatch would open! This is kind of a funny outcome since it’s still fulfilling the purpose of more visibility when in reverse, just in a different way. This would be inconvenient, to say the least, so I tracked the problem down to some frayed wire connections. The shorted connections caused the hatch switch signal not to be ignored when the camera was deployed; re-terminating the wires fixed the problem completely.


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Spring Gardening

Lots of yard work lately, the tilling and composting last spring definitely seems to have paid off and grass is finally growing even in the shadiest areas. The bus was enlisted into the effort as plant transport, and we also  picked up a big landscape boulder. A big spider joined in with guarding the garden hose, see brick for scale.

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Stone Mountain Hike

This week I was in Atlanta for a conference at Stone Mountain. We hiked to the top after dinner one night, I got some OK pictures from the top….

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Long Cross-Country Solo

Today I completed the “long cross-country solo” part of the the private pilot requirements. I made a big triangle over the middle of the state with legs of 104, 61, and 56 nautical miles. Along the way I spoke with approach control of two different class C airports, everything went great.



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Controlled Field Solos

This afternoon I completed the controlled field solo take-off and landing requirements; 3 take off and landings to a full stop. There’s plenty left to learn but altogether this went fairly smoothly; some of the intimidation factor is now gone and that will be a big help for future flights in controlled airspace. Here’s an old photo of the airport (guess which) where I did this:

I may have only a handful of flights left prior to the checkride: a night cross country (dual), a long solo cross-country, some more practice, and then the mock checkride.

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Bus Fuel Clog

The weather is warming up and I’m anxious to start driving the bus again. Since the last trip prior to winter ended with stalling I put the bus up on ramps and investigated the problem. Based on the behavior I had suspected fueling problems. I checked the fuel pump and it was OK (though it’s 30years old so I’ll likely replace soon anyways), and also replaced the fuel filter. The old fuel filter was full of rust particles but it wasn’t really restricting the flow. A clue came about during replacement of the filter when I forgot to crimp the fuel hose upstream of the filter. Normally this would mean a shower of gasoline but there were only a few drips, indicating a clog upstream of the filter. I pulled the hose fitting off of the bottom of the tank and found it almost completely clogged. I had cleaned the tank when I had it out for repainting but it doesn’t take much to cause a clog. Now that it’s being driven the gas is sloshing and continuing to clean it out further. I’d expect the worst of the gunk has passed through by now but I’ll have to check this fitting periodically.

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First Night Flight

The first night flight was tonight, I arrived a little early and had to wait for sunset. Things looked very different but overall it wasn’t that bad.

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