Lawn Ornaments

This post is dedicated to all my customers that expected to be builders but never really got started due to a handful of missing parts. A better description is most of those parts were not really fully ready to release. So, my bad for shipping aircraft I assumed could be finished and flown quickly. That has been discussed enough. This blog is what is being done about it.

I bought a one-way ticket to Czech. I am not returning without parts packed into the next container, or in my suitcase if they fit. I expect by early January I can get outta the snow and back to Florida to thaw out. Then to Alabama to pack and ship stuff.

Some early examples:

  • The custom wiring harness was a huge challenge. Finally, now it is repaired and working. We have them ready to ship now in Alabama.
  • We are working on a better engine and cowl fit. A simple solution is to glass in tear drop bubbles on the cowl top to provide plenty of clearance for the fuel injectors.
  • We are working on a better fit for the torsion mount, throttle body, and dip stick.
  • Fiberglass parts like the BRS strap covers and rear saddle are done. We will have plenty of tail skids too as they get crushed too often. Same for wing tip strobe fairings.
  • I have a pretty good list of what every single customer still needs including props. All getting sorted. Props will ship to us later this week.
  • Custom CAD cut instrument panels, powder-coated, and laser etched are in stock now in Alabama. With your N number if you provided it.
  • More circuit boards are being fabricated.
  • More engines will be ordered soon although that inventory was never an issue. We have more Merlin’s being built and will need engines for them.
  • The reduction drive as a new back plate with a bearing and a few other items. All in stock.
  • As we complete the BOM for the FF PKG I fill the inventory bins. Most of those items are COTS from USA so easy to get and most parts already got.
  • The FF PKG is changing now a little bit as we make a Vtwin installation to the new Merlin. The firewall has been modified as we no longer need the 582 modifications. So, some components like the rectifier and ECU will change positions slightly but still match the wiring harness.

I know the Van’s saga has made some customers more nervous than they already might have been. But despite all the setbacks I am still here busting butt and credit card limits, so I do not let my customers down.

On the left is a Merlin fuel tank passing the pressure and soapy water test. On the right are the Merlin Lite ultralight wings just now out of the paint shop.

Now, back to work!

CHIP

 

 

 

 

 

 

TrueLite Update

Aviad has set up a new production facility in Spain. Parts are now being made. Here is a short video from Francesco:

https://youtu.be/TY7Gi4w5Zho

 

Not sure if you can read this but Francesco’s work plan is below:

Our plan is to have the first kits in USA in February to assemble and fly to and at the Sun n Fun airshow in April.

Here is what a quick build kit will look like in the crate and prepared for shipping.

I am looking forward to flying this new ultralight. I may just have to go to Spain to help Francesco make kits!

Cheers,

CHIP

 

Back to Work

OK, dodged that bullet. Hurricane Ian turned south of Tampa and wiped-out Fort Myers area. Had it remained on track to hit Tampa I might be writing a different blog today. Instead, I watched a good bit of the blow outdoors in my hot tub. The biggest damaged I had was the wind blew my phone into the tub. Big deal. My friend in Ft Myers had a meter of water in his house. I had to rake up 4 bags of lawn debris and get a new phone.

Soon as I could I flew back to Dayton to get the Vtwin running and am staying here to get this work done and the two Merlins in our hangar much closer to flying. In fact, I am camping in our R&D garage. It is warmer than the hangar and I now my thick Wisconsin blood has been replaced with thin Florida blood. Or maybe I am just getting older.

Garage camping in Dayton.

So on to the real news: The Vtwin on the Merlin runs great! But we sure had some trials and tribulations to get there.

We are finishing two Merlins in parallel in our Dayton hangar. We started the Vtwin on Merlin #1 prior to the hurricane break. But it didn’t run as smooth as we expected. And it would not restart immediately after shutting down but needed a minute. We spent a lot of time trouble-shooting wiring harnesses and fuel pressures/flows with no joy. When we ran out of idears and the storm was imminent we planned to move to Merlin #2 Vtwin. This week we set it up for operation and using the same fuel pressures and flows and same wiring harness started it up. Or tried to. We had solenoid issues first. Then got a big back-fire for our efforts. The fix was simple. We reversed the fuel injector leads and tried again. Engine ran great! Finally. And here it is:

https://youtu.be/a05k4tYd-lQ

We ran the engine quite a bit. In the hangar with no prop, it did appear to get too hot, so we shut down and moved outdoors for testing with a big fan in front. That went very well. The thrust feels perfect. But I only had a hand tach to measure it with. You can see it in the video but note that it is measuring prop RPM. Divide by 2.23 to get engine RPM.

Although I put a pretty big bite of 20 degrees on the prop it still was not enough. I re-pitched to 25 degrees and ran it up. Felt like I was gonna pull the van we tied the Merlin too.

This result sure took a while but now we know our wiring harness is correct. Vtwin #1 must have a faulty sensor somewhere. We will get that sorted. Meanwhile we can move forward significantly.

First thing is to make a proper wiring diagram. This is done. See above. 2nd is to document the lengths, colors, and connectors. That will be done Monday. 3rd effort is to get this information to our engine manufacturer for production which we will do this coming week. And 4th step is to get a bunch made and sent out to our Vtwin customers along with the rest of the FF PKG parts.

It also means we can get on with the rest of the work to finish these Merlins so we know what exactly to ship to our customers and know that it is all correct. Now I am working on cowl installation, finishing the BRS, wiring the trims and strobes and fuel senders and antennas, and a dozen other tasks. But all manageable work. Our double E, builder Don, has a pile of work remaining. His remaining tasks:

  • Finish the engine wiring diagram documentation
  • Mount all the remote avionics on our new avionics tray
  • Design and build the avionics wiring harness
  • Cable up the 4 antennas
  • Finish the fuel control circuit board and program the automatic fuel management system
  • Order more avionics and fuel circuit boards and components and get them all populated
  • Program the EMS to monitor the Vtwin properly
  • Program the EFIS to match the Merlin performance

Side note: When we have the MGL panel programed all of the EFIS shipped and to be shipped will have this programming on a SD disk to upload into the unit.

Only then will we allow Don to get back to finishing his own Merlin. He has sacrificed a lot to get this Vtwin project done.

So, what about the rest of the parts? TPA has a long list and has been working very diligently to get everything manufactured and packed in the next container. We plan to ship around October 20th. The next 4 Merlin aircraft are about ready now, just getting final work done and all these parts finished.

Meanwhile, I can work on these two Merlins and get them ready for Don to complete the avionics installations then get the FAA to sign them off and we can finally fly!

Reader #13 noticed a new page on our web site: https://www.aeromarine-lsa.com/truelite/

I don’t know how it got there but apparently, we are offering another new Part 103 ultralight. But don’t worry, this is Francesco’s work. It will not slow down our Vtwin and Merlin Lite development or production. It does, however, expand our product line to include a very light ultralight that we could possibly develop 750 amphibious floats for. Plus, it has a 2-minute wing fold so this aircraft can fit on a boat lift or small boat trailer. No hangar needed. We plan to show this new aircraft at SNF next April.

Back to work,

CHIP

Hurricane Ian

I flew to Dayton last week to finish up a couple Merlin Vtwin builds. Good news is I did get 3 days work in. More on that later. Over those 3 days the spaghetti model of the hurricane trackers pretty much had one thing in common: They all crossed about dead center over my home in Tampa. Monday I decided to fly back to Tampa and booked ticket #1. That flight was cancelled. So I booked ticket #2. That flight was cancelled. Booked ticket #3 for early Tuesday via Philadelphia. Made it to Philly and to my gate to the Tampa flight. It was not yet cancelled. 20 minutes from boarding time and still not cancelled. I was holding my breath. I had already checked and there were no more options. No other flights remained on any other airline to Tampa. Then we boarded. Then wheels up. My chances improved a lot. But Tampa airport still could and did close but at least it remained open to about 2 hours after I landed in Tampa. Whew. I had a lot to do around the house and got r done. Have to protect my girls. And maybe some time left for some kite surfing (in my past life)!

Before photo: Dock is about 2-1/2 feet above lake level. Windsock is dismantled. I doubt it was designed for 155 mph winds. Pool is drained some. Probably not enough. Grass is cut. Loose chit is stowed. Garage is packed. Sand bags in place. Tubs are filled. Spare water is frozen. Battery packs are charged. Beer is cold.

Back to Dayton business: We have 2 Merlins with Vtwins nearly finished. We are making refinements in the installations making everything perfect. But we got slowed down as the connectors we had were not perfect. More stuff ordered that will arrive this week and Don and Ben will continue without me. I plan to return to Dayton next week to get r done.

Here are some encouraging photos.

  1. Circuit boards for the left side of the panel are done and getting stocked up.
  2. First batch of laser-cut panels came back from the anodizer but we could see the manufactures print on the aluminum through the anodization so they were returned for proper cleaning and re-anodization.
  3. We built a tray behind the instrument panel to hold all the remote components. This will have easy access as the new panel is mounted on a hinge and folds down.
  4. Fuel system is sorted.

We are close to shipping the next container of 4 Merlins. This container will have a lot of the parts our builders have been waiting for. Finally, some real progress. Plus the Merlin Lite is at the airport and will enter the test flight protocol in the next few days.

BIG PICTURE PLAN:

  • Finish and fly two Vtwin Merlins.
  • Ship next container of 4 Merlins. Deliver parts for builders so they can finish their Vtwin Merlins.
  • Build stock firewall forward components and finalize BOM.
  • Start production of 750 floats at M-Squared.
  • Parts production for a new batch of 8 Merlins will start a week or so. These parts will turn into Merlins at M-Squared.
  • Finish Merlin Lite flight testing using UL-2 standard as our means of compliance. UL-2 is the Czech and German standard for light aircraft. Then build parts for USA assembly.
  • Work on electric power systems for the Merlin Lite.
  • Fly the Merlin Lite on wheels and floats when the first two arrive to USA.

Yes, it is a long list. And it does not even mention our military projects. But we have a great team and all this stuff is getting done.

We did take a couple hours off and re-installed the amphib floats to our original Merlin. This weekend there is a parade of planes through New Carlisle, Ohio. It is an annual and very popular event. I will miss it but the Merlin on amphibs won’t.

And getting ready for hurricane parties with Ben with our special Merlin tumblers created by Sandy, our new best friend.

After the last hurricane Irma 4 years ago I returned to Dayton only to get drenched by the remnants of Irma as they passed through Dayton. I think history will repeat itself and I will get to experience Ian twice. Isn’t that special.

CHIP

 

Post Oshkosh Report

#42 Oshkosh shows in a row for me. Thats a lot of Oshkosh’s. I have seen a lot. Many companies have come and gone. A lot with big promises and promotions. I am quite sure that there is an inverse relationship between their initial marketing budget and their chance of long-term success. Even Icon with some $100mm swindled from investors shrink their presence every year.

This years’ show was pretty good except for a squall line that bent one tent. I used a hammer to fix it.

But it was also disappointing because the aircraft we had planned for the show didn’t get finished in time. I will go to CZ in 2 weeks to get these delays sorted out. Again. It hurts to have such prime show real estate with unused space. I would have loved to have the new Merlin Lite with electric power on floats on display. Part 103 sailplane, ultralight, seaplane powered by coal. Two are finished and should be finally in the flight test program this week.

The Vtwin is getting a lot of attention. Ben Bosma packed the forum tent for his Vtwin talk. We will post a video once we get the editing done. Builder Brian makes excellent videos. Here is his Oshkosh posting:

https://youtu.be/2h6CFN5s7PI

Here is another short clip. After Oshkosh I got busy in Dayton getting a couple Merlin builds closer to finished:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7fflb5ds4r2ri0y/PXL_20220801_224423982.mp4?dl=0

We now have the engine wiring harness sorted. We cut out about 80% of the ATV harness and make it perfect for length and leads. This will be replicated and sent to everyone who already has their Vtwin and included with every new shipment. We also have the panel finished. Laster cut for the EFIS and the 2 circuit boards. Then anodized. Then laser etched labels.

Builders: Send me your N number and I will cut your panel!

New circuit boards have arrived, and we are busy populating them with the components. Next week I will be able to show you the final panel all complete!

This blog is a week late as I had a deadline to submit a couple proposals to the Air Force. That was finished yesterday. Maybe I can post the slide deck someday. Cool stuff. I am also submitting a proposal to NASA this month. They are interested in our hybrid engine/motor. I guess that makes me a rocket scientist now. Afterall, my dad was one: 

He was also a nuclear engineer. I find out this stuff too late to discuss with him. All highly classified in the 60’s as you can imagine. Dad earned 36 patents mostly in the design of the first nuclear ship and submarine. I only have 2 patents. But Admiral Hyman Rickover did have dinner at our house once. I was sent to bed early. Sigh. But I digress.

The FAA invites a few LSA manufactures to an annual meeting at Oshkosh. The only real news is that Mosaic is delayed a year. Fine with me. I am still busting butt to get Merlin’s finished and parts to builders. Once that is done, we can look at bigger aircraft. Actually, we are already as we have the two-seat Merlin available. We are planning a MEGATWIN engine for it. Watch this space for updates.

Photo from the future Mango Lake Seaplane Base for your viewing pleasure

Back in Florida now for an entire week! Next week is Dayton, then off to the Czech Republic, then back to Dayton to shuffle over to the Midwest Expo, then back to Dayton to finish a couple builds. By then We should be very close to shipping complete firewall forward packages out. Lots of parts will ship in the next container. I will report from CZ.

CWE

Back to Dayton

Progress Report

The objective of this trip was to finalize the Vtwin firewall forward package, follow up on the panel circuit board, and prepare for the Sun n Fun show.

We are still optimizing the fuel system and believe we have the final positions for the pumps and regulator. Once those are mounted, we can finish with the cooling system, voltage regulator and solenoid mounting. We have those stuck in about their final positions now.

A few more mounting brackets and fuel line attach plugs are ordered and just arrived as I am heading back to the airport for my return to Florida. Colleague Ben will mock-up the new and likely final positions.

We have found a fabricator of aluminum racing radiators. They will soon be making a big batch of custom sized and spec’d radiators to match our cowl. They have the capability to mold silicone tubing and we have requested their offer. It would be a nice finalization to our cooling system to have perfectly curved tubes with minimal fittings.

At this point I would say the firewall forward BOM is 95% finished and the stocking bins are getting set up.

We have a few more cowls, engine mounts, and exhausts shipping from CZ this week so we will be able to show these parts at SNF. Here is our nearly finished BOM:

MERLIN VTWIN FIREWALL FORWARD PACKAGE
ITEMQTY
ENGINE MOUNT
REDUCTION DRIVE KIT  –  BOM1
VTWIN ENGINE1
TOP COWL1
BOTTOM COWL1
CAMLOCKS
ENGINE MOUNT  WITH 4 MOUNTING BOLTS/NUTS/WASHERS1
TO INSTALL BRACKET TO VTWIN
ENGINE MOUNT MAIN BRACKET1
BOLT3
M8 WASHERS3
BOLT1
M10 WASHER1
BOLT1
M8 WASHER1
M8 SPACER – DRILL TO 5/16 ID1
VTWIN TO ENGINE MOUNT
RUBBER MOUNTS2
NYLOC NUTS FOR RUBBER MOUNTS4
M8 WASHERS4
STARBOARD ENGINE MOUNT BOLT1
NYLOC NUTS1
WASHER1
ITEMQTY
FUEL SYSTEM
PUMPS2
REGULATOR1
GAS HOSE  5/16 GATES HIGH PRESSURE. USE FOR RETURN LINE ALSO
GAS HOSE  3/8 HIGH PRESSURE
CHECK VALVE 3/82
SELECTOR VALVE1
WIRING 5-PIN PLUG1
FUEL SWITCH BRACKET1
5/16 X 3/8 X  5/16 BRASS BARBED Y1
5/16 BULKHEAD FITTING1
3/8 BULKHEAD FITTING1
CABLE CLAMP & 10-32 SCREW1
QUICK DISCONNECTS2
QUICK DISCONNECTS2
QUICK DISCONNECTS-WING 3/82
QUICK DISCONNECTS-WING 5/162
ITEMQTY
COOLING SYSTEM
RADIATOR1
RUBBER MOUNTS4
NYLOC M64
PRESSURE TANK1
OVERFLOW TANK1
TOP & BOTTOM BRACKETS2
FRONT BRACKET L+R2
FRONT BRACKET CLAMPS2
3/4 PIPE BEADED .028 THIN WALL 9 INCHES LONG1
HOSE ELBOW 3/46
STAINLESS STEEL BARBED CONNECTORS 3/42
HOSE CLAMPS -OTECKER 31.612
REDUCING TEE 3/4 X 3/4 X 1/4 ALUMINUM1
1/4 ID X 1/2 OD BRAINDED VINYL HIGH TEMP 175 DEGREE HOSE
REDUCER TO OVERFLOW TANK1
ITEMQTY
EXHAUST SYSTEM
EXHAUST1
LEFT EXHAUST PIPE1
RIGHT EXHAUST PIPE1
02 LUGS2
CLAMPS2
EXHAUST GASKETS2
HIGH TEMP LOCK NUTS4
MOUNT BRACKETS L+R2
ENGINE GASKETS2
HOSE CLAMPS – 6″2
HEAT CUFF1
HEAT CUFF HOSE CLAMPS2
SCAT TUBE1
SCAT TUBE HOSE CLAMPS2
ITEMQTY
THROTTLE SYSTEM
AIR FILTER1
THROTTLE CABLE THROTTLE CABLE CLAMP1
CABLE FERREL1
PROPELLER
PROPELLER W/HUB1
PROPELLER BOLTS8
PROPELLER WASHERS8
SPINNER1
PROP EXTENSION 1-1/41
BATTERY1
COPPER LUGS-STARTER TO SOLINOID2
SNAP GROMMET1

Here is the reduction drive inventory and installation parts per the BOM:

AEROMARINE VTWIN REDUCTION DRIVE BOM
P/NITEMQTYPACKED
1REDUCTION DRIVE KIT1
2M6 X 20BOLT4
3M6 X 55BOLT2
4M10 X 35BOLT2
5M10 X 110BOLT2
6M10 X 220BOLT1
7M12 X 90BOLT1
8WASHER12X37MM WASHER SS1
9SPACERSHORT2
10SPACERMEDIUM2
11SPACERLONG1
12CLAMPKEYLESS SHAFT CLAMP2

Bins will be stocked this month. We already have plenty of engines and reduction drives. Finally, we can begin shipping these packages. Meanwhile we are working on the Merlin with Vtwin POH and Vtwin installation manual. These items won’t take long as the POH is just a revision, and we are making the engine installation as simple as possible.

And now embroidered and finished Merlin Temperfoam seats in stock.

In Merlin Lite news the first airframes are now finished and in the paint booth. The plan is to get one flying before SNF so I can show video. Fingers crossed.

We are going ahead with Plan B for the SNF show and will create a ‘museum style’ display of several of the AFRL projects Aeromarine has been participating in over the last few years. Most of this will be on public display for the first time. I think it will be interesting. Actually, I know it will be interesting and I doubt you will see more high-tech ideas in any other booth in any other show. That’s a big claim so I refine it to any other light aircraft show like SNF.

Expect to see DEPOD, RAES, DART, Hyper-STOL, amphibious Hyper-STOL, electric Z-50, and a new VSTOL design. We like our acronyms. And most of this will be on our video monitor as well. I even have a novel way of powering the computer and big screen TV in our non-electric booth in Paradise City.

Here is our R&D Merlin that was used in some of these programs moving from our Dayton R&D shop to our hangar. We will prepare it for our DART program when we get this current work behind us.

I received a text from a Merlin Lite customer pointing out that it has been a year since I accepted his order and other orders at SNF and have yet to deliver a Merlin Lite. No chit. I know. And it will be a topic of discussion at the show I am sure. But I have addressed this in my blogs and will repeat: Yes, I underestimated the project. And we have half the normal staff to manufacture aircraft. And I wanted the best possible product so I made 20+ changes to the prototype which basically results in nearly a new aircraft so the engineering hours totaled thousands instead of hundreds.

I accept all responsibility of course. I also made the deposits small and refundable and secured those funds and promptly refunded 100% usually within hours of any request. I did twice offer a deposit refund to this customer but he remains on board.

We are offering the worlds’ best line E-AB and Part 103 aircraft in the Merlin and Merlin Lite. No short cuts, nothing inferior. And I trust worth the wait. That is the bottom line.

CHIP

 

 

Post Oshkosh Catch-Up

For me Oshkosh #41 is in the books. Little-known fact (keep it that way please) I have had 4 unplanned landings at this show. Might be a record.

The show was very good. Plenty of people. Hardly a mask in sight. More than 8,000 aircraft. Pretty good weather. Huge storm was bearing down directly on Oshkosh with hail predicted and many vendors were scrambling for bubble wrap and carpet padding to cover their aircraft with. I figured the dimples would just improve our cruise like a golf ball. Then this huge cell came right up to Oshkosh with an incredible lightning show, and dissipated. The collective will of the aviators put up a forcefield over the airport. Barely even got windy. Not so lucky in other parts of Wisconsin. Coulda been ugly but we dodged that bullet.

Merlin, Merlin Lite, DEP-OD, and Vtwin all on display on our prime real estate in the main aircraft area. Next year we may have a booth in the ultralight area as well so we can show off the Merlin Lite’s performance.

What’s DEP-OD you say? I just got done answering that question a few thousand times. Check out what Kitplanes wrote:

https://www.kitplanes.com/electrolite-the-hyper-stol-ultralight/

No, this is NOT a current option. It is a research project to prove my innovation. And might be scaled up to a real Hyper-STOL I am designing. But with COVID there has been a shortage of bar napkins so progress is slow.

 

 

Some DEP-OD images

 

Here is what you need to know about the Merlin Lite:

  • Order book stands at 19.
  • All the revisions are done including the tricycle gear.
  • Float design is done and 750 straight floats going into production this week. Only attachment points need refinement.
  • Parts for the first two Merlin Lites are finished.
  • Assembly of these two Merlin Lites has begun.
  • Serial #1 has the new Polini 303DS engine.
  • Serial #2 will be powered by a 30 kw electric motor and 10 kwh battery packs.
  • Motor/controller/battery packs (2)/ and 2 propellers are getting prepared for extensive bench testing.
  • Both aircraft will be flying in 1-2 months. 4 more Merlin Lites will be built this year (cross fingers)

The new long wing was installed with DEP-OD at Oshkosh. The wing is very impressive but I have said that before. Now the prototype is parked at Mt Vernon Airport queued up for the Midwest Expo in a few weeks. This was a logistics decision. Next container arrives to Dayton in 2 weeks. I will trailer one of the Merlins to this show. After the show I will deliver it to the Northern Wisconsin builder. Then I will return to Mt. Vernon to collect the Merlin Lite. Then drive to Dayton. Fly some. Work some. Then finally drive back to Florida. Maybe summer will be over by then.

In Vtwin news:

The factory has all our design change requests and has built one engine to these specs for our review. It is perfect. We even had a custom dipstick made for easy oil checking from a top cowl access cover.

Now they scheduled a custom production run of these engines for us. Enough to take up a lot of space in a container. We have also retained the space and services of a West Coast fulfilment center so we can quickly drop ship these engines directly to customers. This will save a lot on freight costs. We can ship reduction drives and props from Dayton by UPS.

Our Canadian customer is making quick work of his installation.

Oh my, I wrote too much. Signing off,

CHIP

 

Dayton Trip

This last week was spent in Dayton split between our Phillipsburg Hangar and the AFRL lab. One Merlin build is just a few hours away from completion with the BRS installation basically done and panel mostly wired. We will fabricate some custom composite channels to cover the exposed BRS straps on top of the fuselage. The rear plexiglass window is replaced more brittle acrylic so the rocket will pass through easily.

The BRS is suspended above the baggage compartment so most of the baggage space is still usable. The rocket is attached to a bracket low enough so it gains momentum to blast through the acrylic window and high enough to be able to remove the baggage tray. The deployment cable has a nice soft arch and is accessible near the flap handle.

We also loaded a Merlin QBK now delivered to a new builder in Texas. This will be one beautiful Merlin with blue and white paint.

 

In less dramatic news I made a lot of progress finishing up the Merlin Lite wings. I will return to Dayton next week for final work and testing before shipping these wings to Florida for first flights.

CWE

 

 

Revolutionary New Part 103 Ultralight

Revolutionary? That’s a bold claim. But I think I can back it up. Here is an excerpt from our forthcoming press release:

Dayton, Ohio: Aeromarine is making the bold claim that their new Part 103 ultralight aircraft is truly revolutionary. “This is not your 1980s ultralight’ claims designer Chip W. Erwin. “I know, I was there. Our new Merlin Lite has real aircraft features and appeal: 7 windows, a door, a cockpit, baggage capacity and space, an instrument panel. And the list goes on”.

The Merlin Lite is based on the Merlin, a popular single seat personal sport aircraft that costs under $40k and cruises at 120mph. The cockpit size of the Merlin Lite is nearly the same size and capacity as the Merlin but the powerplant is scaled down and the wing aspect ratio is increased.

The extensive features INCLUDED or available with the Merlin Lite are not often found on your typical tube & fabric ultralight:

FULL EFIS WITH ARTIFICIAL HORIZON AND GPS
DOOR
7 WINDOWS
AIR VENTS
CABIN HEAT AND DEFROSTER
ELECTRIC TRIM
ALL ALUMINUM
DUAL INDEPENDENT HYDRAULIC BRAKES
TUNDRA TIRES
TRICYCLE OR TAILDRAGGER
12 V POWER SUPPLY – PHONE/IPAD CHARGER
PUSHROD CONTROLS WITH BEARINGS
5 POSITION FLAPS
3D TAPERED WING, OPTIONAL SPEED WING
QUALIFIES AS A MOTORGLIDER
DUAL IGNITION LIQUID-COOLED ENGINE
OPTIONAL ELECTRIC POWER (COMING SOON)
5 GALLON WING TANK, EXPANDABLE TO 10 GAL.
BRS 500 RESCUE SYSTEM
EARTHX BATTERY
LARGE BAGGAGE AREA
2 OR 3-BLADE GROUND ADJUSTABLE CARBON PROPELLER
ELECTRIC START

The Merlin Lite meets the FAA Part 103 rules which means no license, medical, registration or certification required. The first public display will be at the Midwest Expo in Mt. Vernon, Illinois beginning September 10, 2020.

Here are some photos form the shop. The BRS is now installed. This week will be the big push to finish the Merlin Lite so we can bring it to our booth at the Midwest Expo. There is still a lot of work to do but I think we are on target. Tundra tire axles are being welded up this week. Fuel tank is nearly finished. Panel is finished. Controls are mostly finished. When I am in Dayton I am working long hours on this aircraft and with a customer Merlin build program as well so writing blogs get delayed. But I will make an effort to post more progress photos.

 

There will be many doubters about our ability to meet the tight Part 103 parameters.  Fine, bring it on! I will bring some scales to the Midwest Expo. Anyone can check their weight on the scales to verify accuracy then we will weigh the Merlin Lite. Currently we are 4.2 lbs under the limit! Others will question our ability to meet the 24 knot stall speed restriction with only a 22 foot wing span. Well, they are right. But what they don’t know is our first Merlin Lite has the speed wing. To meet Part 103 we will install our UL wing pictured above. This wing has a larger wing area and a very long-span 3-hinge Fowler flap. Part 103 rules allow lift enhancing devices. Furthermore, the stall speed is measured with only a 170 lb pilot and maybe a quart of fuel. So bring it on! Revolutionary new ultralight? I think so.

See the Merlin Lite page. I have posted updated pricing and features/options list.

 

Road Trip – Finally. And a Merlin Lite update

I have been locked down in our Florida pool home on a private ski lake for over a month. I am only skiing once a day. Sigh. And the last container of aircraft and floats has been quarantined in our Dayton hangar. But from May 1st with the restrictions lifting I can finally make a long road trip starting with the transport of a set of floats and some 737 jacks to Dayton.

Loaded and leaving sunny warm Florida.

Our Dayton hangar has been totally packed with 3 Merlins, 1 Zigolo, a Merlin Lite, and a set of 1450 floats. The Merlin Lite has been moved out for engine installation and now I am delivering the 1450 floats and a Merlin QBK.

Builder Don helped a lot with the packing. Motive: Make more room for his Merlin build.

First stop from Dayton was Green Bay to hand over the 1450 floats. Then on to St. Paul, MN to meet our newest builder Frank. And while in St. Paul I stopped by BRS to pick up the new Merlin Lite 500 parachute.

Frank in St. Paul with his new Merlin QBK.

Now buried in this post a small Merlin Lite update: 1) We ran the engine! That Polini 250DS is super! And the clutch makes it very smooth. 2) New longer wings are in design. This will allow us to meet the 26 nm stall speed. 3) Next step is to install the control system and BRS. We have started this work now and hope to complete it this month. We can begin our test flight program with the short wings and not worry about the stall speed. We know we can meet that parameter. The big task is to verify our empty weight when the aircraft is completely finished. As it stands now we have weighed the components seperatly and are good. Have a look at the first engine test run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmrd4nU9_qw

Excerpt from the Merlin Lite wing strength calculations
Polini 250DS: Note tempoary fuel tank
Right side. Electric start of course

This will not be your 1980s ultralight: Liquid-cooled, dual ignition, electric start Polini engine. Instrument panel with full EFIS and iPad with Foreflight moving map. Electric trim. All aluminum cantilevered wing airframe. Fully-enclosed cockpit. 3-blade carbon ground-adjustable propeller. BRS rescue system. It even has brakes! Nothing else like it in Part 103 class. Not even close. We are pushing hard to complete and fly it.

Inexpensive yet very sophisticated glass panel. In an ultralight! Air speed, altimeter, G meter, VSI, artificial horizon all on EFIS and more. iPad has Foreflight installed. Wing tip strobes and nav lights. Even a USB power source! My other ultralight has a rain gauge for an ASI. What a contrast.