I took a two-week trip from 25 November and it is now going on 3 months and will be well into February before I finish here. Czech version of Gilligan’s Island except it’s freezing cold with snow and rain here. I know I will be back to the New World soon. Sun-n-Fun is the end of March, and I must be there showing the new Merlin Lites and 750 floats. But first I need to get those show aircraft finished and shipped.
The work I am doing here is very important. And not just for all my Vtwin Merlin and Merlin Lite customers but there is some conflict nearby you may have heard about. And my readers may have noted that I do work in that area on occasion. Connect the dots. That is all I am going to, or allowed to say.
But being here so long has some real results that my customers will benefit from soon. We have had time to refine the Vtwin installation in many ways:
- The engine installation is improved.
- The engine installation manual can now be written (which I will do) along with drawings and a verified parts list. Then I can build stock in Alabama and complete orders properly.
- The engine wiring harness is done and out for fabrication.
- The new avionics wiring harness is done and in fabrication.
- The EFIS is mostly programmed. MGL is making some custom modifications for the Vtwin. We will be able to upgrade each panel with a micro-sim card to have the Vtwin and Merlin parameters instantly and perfectly.
- The Merlin Lite program is nearly finished. We have a flight test program to warp up then send the 2 Merlin Lites here direct to Florida to hopefully arrive before the show starts. One of the Merlin Lites will be mounted on our new 750 floats. That will be very impressive.
- The new Merlin Lite panel is finished.
- A new video will be posted soon. My son attends the Prague technical university and has some time off between semesters. BTW, he passed all his first semester exams, and this university has a 50% failure rate. It is the leading A.I. university in Europe and his studies are in that field along with electrical and computer engineering. Not easy subjects. His job next week will be to get some air-to-air video of the Merlin. Plus, to edit the 3 hours of flying I recently did, mostly with my hands in my pockets flying circles.
If we can get the ship booking, we will be able to load 2 Merlin Lites and a Merlin and ship direct to Lakeland just in time for the show. Finally, we will begin making Merlin Lite deliveries.
We use CAD for everything here. Even for container loading.
Here I am making the new Merlin Lite panel. First step was the CAD layout. After a few revisions the file goes to the laser cutting machine in the basement. Then I get to debur it and trial-fit the electrical components.
After fitting, the instruments pop out and the panel spends a day in the paint shop.
Then I get to install the components. And I also cut a scale iPad Mini 6 to confirm the common iPad fits. But personally, I just stick a magnet phone mount holder on the panel and use my Android with the Garmin Pilot app.
Now I have wired up the panel into the Merlin going on floats. BTW, right after SNF show I plan to get plenty of video of the first Merlin Lite flying on floats.
- Keep it simple. Even at that it has 1000 times more sophistication than your typical ultralight.
- Upper left is the electric pitch trim.
- Below is the master avionics switch and there is a pilot hole next to it for another switch such as strobes.
- Then the EFIS. You can look up the specs. It is a feature-packed unit with everything you would expect in an EFIS plus GPS for ground speed.
- Below that are the 2 fuel gauges. I have wired up a low fuel warning light built into the gauge. You can see it if you look carefully on the right gauge.
- The sub panel has 2 12v USD power supplies to keep your phone and tablet charged and coffee warm.
- Then you have two simple fuel valves. Choose left, right, or both tanks.
- Then all that real estate for your pilot-installed options. Generally, some GPS moving map.
- Upper right is the Polini-programmed EMS for monitoring your engine tach, temp, and hours. There are a few other features, but I just install what is necessary.
- And below that is the Polini engine control that has on-off switch, starter, and two buttons for mag tests. The Polini has one electronic ignition and one mag ignition.
But my main work here is on the Merlin. We have made a lot of modifications and will be back flying later this week. I will show you what I can.
Meanwhile, a lot of Merlin parts are being made. We have stacks of spars and ribs and other parts building up. I think we are all looking forward to a nice flow of Vtwin installation parts and new Merlins.