About the project
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Ideas & products
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hosted here:
Randy Griffin
Jeff Jasinsky
Mike Robbins


Copyright 1999-2005 by Randy Lervold, Romeo Lima Consulting. All rights reserved.

On this page:
IDEA: Navaid installation
IDEA Baggage Door Prop
IDEA: Improved Cabin Heat System
IDEA: Rudder Pedal Extensions
IDEA: Tailwheel dragger
PRODUCT: Meyer Aviation Headsets 
PRODUCT: King Antenna Adapter
PRODUCT: Aircraft Spruce A-600 Brake Reservoirs
PRODUCT: Skybolt cowling fasteners
PRODUCT:  RV/Rocket Steering Link
PRODUCT: Tail-Mate

PRODUCT: Aero Assembly Automation front stick
Below are ideas and products I've used that are especially creative or useful and thus might be noteworthy to other RV-8 builders and pilots.




IDEA: Navaid installation
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I agonized for months about where to put the Navaid servo and associated hardware. Most builders locate them under the rear passenger footwells which is really under the pilot's seat. This is logical and would work well but doesn't provide for easy access when making adjustments or troubleshooting the servo. Since the servo is a mechanical widget with lots of gears and electronics it just made sense to me that I'd need to get at fairly frequently. Accessing the floor area is a real hassle: you must remove about 30 screws, the crotchbelt which is cotter keyed, the seat back, and the front floor assembly. While agonizing I stumbled across RV-8 builder Ray Lynn's installation... forward of the main spar carry-through. (http://vondane.com/rv8a/tt&i/index.htm#navaid) Nope, I can't take credit for this concept. With the servo located forward of the F-804 main spar you can get it after just removing the right cabin console cover. BTW, if you use this technique make sure you trim the console cover so that it does not mount under that little triangular right front seat pan bracket. I manufactured the servo mount from scrap pieces of .063" aluminum and .063" angle very handy stuff. The servo much be raised a bit so clear the screws on the bottom, so I included mounting rails on each end to raise it up. Note that one vertical side must be shorter than the other to compensate for the lower longeron it's mounted to. Since you can't get in there to buck driven rivets, the two vertical sides are attached to the floor with blind rivets. I used Pop rivets on the inboard side and CherryMax on the outboard side. The only reason I used the CherryMax is that I need a longer reach to go through the longeron and the Pop rivets I had on hand did not have enough grip range. I attached the control rod to the main control yoke with a special piece my buddy Randy Griffin made from stainless steel. you could easily make one from 1/8" aluminum though.

In all this installation works very well. I was able to quickly do the set-up adjustments, which require access to the inside of the box, while sitting in the pilot's seat. If I ever need to go back in it's only six screws away. BTW, if you're considering NOT installing the Navaid I highly suggest you reconsider. For $1,450 you get a single axis autopilot  that will track whatever signal you feed it (VOR, GPS, Loran), a wing leveler, and a turn coordinator. The first time you set a course in your GPS, push the Smart Coupler to "course" and get the green LED, and feel the Navaid lock in on the course you will think it's magic. It will even make the turns for you at your waypoints!



IDEA: Baggage Door Prop
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After contemplating how to solve a relatively easy problem (how to keep the darn baggage door open) for at least six months, I finally came up with something I'm happy with. Actually RV-8 builder Jeff Ludwig gets credit for it. When I saw it on his plane I immediately said "that's it!". It's simply a "door prop" purchased from Lowe's for $1.97. I bought it while on a business trip and didn't know if I'd find them again so I bought three and gave two of them to Jeff and Randy, my builder buddies. The upper end is blind riveted into the door and the bottom pivots on a bolt that was already there to mount the LASAR brain on the firewall. I replaced the AN bolt with a hardware store cad-plated grade 8 and used a nylok nut to let it hinge freely. The nylon washers are just there for good measure. With the center locking detent this thing works great! If you try it for your plane be careful of the geometry. It is possible to locate in a way that will prevent the baggage door from closing. As with anything else in building these planes, measure twice, drill once.

IDEA: Improved cabin heat system
RV-8s are very comfortable for the person in the back seat. Having flown back there for five hours during my checkout I think it is actually more comfortable than the front seat (although I still prefer the front!). One bad thing about the back though is that it can be very cold. I don't have the problem of air coming in from the back of the canopy and hitting the back of the passenger's neck, but there are other factors contributing to a cold back seat. Van's plans call for the cabin heat to penetrate the firewall and then just blast the pilot's feet from wherever you choose to make that firewall penetration. While flying the pilot's lower extremities will be warm, but his/her torso will be relatively cool, and the passenger will be completely unheated. Thus began the thought process for improvement.

Improved cabin heat distribution has been considered by many builders improved by few. The primary reason for this is that to duct warm air to the rear one needs to penetrate both the gear towers and the main wing spar carrythrough with at least a 2" hole. Since both of these assemblies are structural, Van's has specifically advised against this type of penetration. Still, there had to be something better than simply dumping the heat out of the firewall.

I began my improvement by having an aluminum elbow made that could be mounted to a 2" ducted flange that I had riveted to my heat box. My heat box was first modified by moving the actuator arm from the inside to the outside, easily done by drilling out a few rivets. I then routed the cable through a firewall eyeball and fabricated a standoff to give the cable proper geometry. The 2" ducted flange was riveted to the box and the box was re-installed. The elbow (seen in the pic) was then secured with a simple screw to the duct.

 I then used 2" scat tubing to bring the air back near the gear tower area. I flew several times experimenting with the exit point by simply using zip ties to secure the scat. In the end I found that terminating the scat with a standard Van's plastic eyeball vent on the front corner of the gear tower gave me the most flexibility in directing the air: it was far enough back to direct a blast of warm air down the left side of the pilot into the passenger's torso area. It was also far enough forward to redirect toward the pilot when there was no rear seat occupant.

This improvement works well: it blows air down the left side into passenger torso area, or can be directed via the ball vent toward pilot's torso. When solo I've found it is still better to leave it blowing down the side though to warm the cabin more evenly. I'm using one standard Robbins heat muff which seems to be adequate for this part of the country. It will provide heat down to about 25 degrees, below that it's more like lukewarm air.

Even with this improvement there is one remaining problem: the passenger's feet. Consistently my passengers report that even with the nice warm air blast their feel get quite cold from being down in the footwells beside the pilot. At this point I am still advising an extra pair of socks for winter use, any better ideas would be welcomed.

IDEA: Rudder Pedal Extensions

The RV-8 uses a different rudder pedal system than any other RV model and it has an inherent problem with the geometry. Due to the relationship of the pedal pivots to where the pilot applies any pressure to the pedal, it is impossible to apply any rudder without also applying at least a small amount of brake. Even if you just push your toes on the small flat section at the bottom of the pedal you will notice brakes being applied, whether taxiing or during your landing rollout. I noticed this phenomena and while scratching my head trying to come up with a solution fellow RV-8 builder Jeff Jasinsky designed these rudder pedal extensions for his not yet flying plane. I shamelessly copied his design and put them to the test... they work perfectly! They are made from .125" aluminum, bent in a vice to around 40 and attached to the rudder pedals with #8 countersunk screws. (All parts were re-painted black before installation) You use them in two different ways: when taxiing where no brakes will be needed you put the ball of your foot in the pocket created by the extension and the bottom of the pedal. Because the center of pressure is now below the pivot the pedal is tilted back thus pulling the master cylinder instead of pushing on it and applying brakes. When landing you can put the balls of your feet in the normal place and your heels naturally rest on the extensions. By pushing with your heels this lets you make rudder inputs with no brakes yet have your feet on the pedals where you can make a quick stab at the brake should things get squirrelly in that crosswind landing rollout. Feel free to copy, thanks to Jeff!


IDEA: Tailwheel dragger

Having owned a Cessna I had an extra 152/172 tow bar laying around from when I sold my 150. Gee, it just happens to fit over the bolt and nut of the tailwheel of my RV-8, great! While I don't carry it around with me in the interest of not increasing weight, I use it every time I pull the plane into or out of the hangar. The bar in the picture is a "Bogy Bar" but any tow bar designed for the nosewheel of a small Cessna should work.

PRODUCT:  Meyer Aviation Headsets
Through a friend I found out about a guy in Michigan that takes David Clark headphone parts and assembles them into a unique headset solution. If you're looking for a true linear frequency response high-fidelity headset, and one that also provides the most passive noise reduction available, then look no further. John Meyer (Meyer Aviation) can offer you two paths. First, he can take your standard David Clark's and convert them to true hi-fi by replacing the drivers. For this he charges $50 for mono sets and $75 for stereo sets. But the real treat is the second option: get a set of his custom headsets. His specialty is to begin with David Clark's H10-56 helicopter cups and frame, and build up the best in every respect. What most folks don't realize is that the DC helicopter headsets begin with a larger (and heavier) headset cup with more sound absorbing insulation. Regular DC models, with the gel seals, provide 23 db of passive noise reduction whereas the helicopter models provide 27. Now that may not sound like much but remember that sound pressure levels require a doubling of energy for a 3 db increase. Or conversely, for a 3 db reduction you need to cut the acoustic energy in half. Anyway, the custom headsets feature the helicopter cups, his high-fidelity drivers, his own electret mic element (the standard H10-56s have a dynamic mic), and all the usual comfort goodies such as the gel seals. For this he charges around $300, a bargain in my opinion. These are the best headsets I've ever used. Not only do they come close to comparing to home hi-fi headphones fidelity-wise, but I don't even notice the extra weight. And the extra quiet provided by the superior passive noise reduction is immediately apparent just put them on and you'll notice it right away. I recently installed a PS Engineering PCD7100 intercom with CD player and the fidelity is fabulous. There really is no comparable product available, all the current offerings from Lightspeed for example do not have true linear frequency response. Check the specs for the frequency response of their drivers and you'll see it's rolled off in the bottom and top ends to optimize voice reproduction - not what you want for high fidelity reproduction. David Clark's normal products do the same thing.

By the way, if you call David Clark and talk to any of the product managers they are fully aware of John and what he is doing. Actually they unofficially refer people to him and recommend his solution for those interested in what he has to offer. See his web site for further info...  www.dipple.com/jmeyer or call him at 616-896-9858. 



PRODUCT:  King Antenna Adapter
Many of us carry a handheld com radio as a backup in case our electrical system goes down or our com goes out. What most pilots don't have however is a way to quickly and easily get access to their external antenna. The rubber ducky antenna on most handheld coms just doesn't provide much range for either send or receive. Simply coupling it to an external antenna will let it perform nearly as well as your in-panel unit. In designing my electrical system, and searching for a way to quickly and easily access my belly mounted com antenna, I started asking questions. One obvious strategy is to install a simple antenna cable splitter. Then, in the event of a panel com failure, just connect a piece of coax cable with BNC connectors both the the splitter box and the antenna connector on the radio. The problem with this however is that whenever you split an electrical signal you lose 3 db which is 50% of the power/energy. This loss would be present all of the time whether the handheld was connected or not. Hmm, not good. In spite of poring over all the avionics supply catalogs I just could not come up with a better solution.

When the time came to buy my avionics I asked Dewey at Pacific Coast Avionics what the best solution was. He said "Oh, you need a King KX-99 antenna adapter". Okay. Turns out it's a little box that interrupts the antenna cable whenever a plug is inserted and connects your handheld. Perfect! This little device, while not cheap at around $75, is a little box and a special cable. The small lightweight cable has a 1/8" mini-plug on one end, which goes into the box, and a BNC on the other that connects to your handheld unit. When the mini-plug is inserted it disconnects the main com radio and connects the handheld... voila, no signal loss. All you need to do is mount this in a reachable location while in flight and keep your handheld radio and the special cord within reach. Note the part number on the picture and just order it from your local avionics supplier. Thanks Dewey!



PRODUCT: Aircraft Spruce A-600 Brake Reservoirs
Mvc-565x.jpg (108405 bytes) Mvc-566x.jpg (145260 bytes)Normally RV-8 brake master cylinders are supplied fluid from an aluminum reservoir mounted on the firewall, which feeds fluid through plastic low-pressure line. This low-pressure system leaks terribly. I had to fool with mine three times, re-purging the system of air each time... a horribly messy task. Fellow RV-8 builder Randy Griffin then discovered these in the Aircraft Spruce catalog. They have an NPT fitting that screws right into the master cylinders. Voila, no more leaks, less tubing hanging around... a clean and simple solution that I highly recommend.


PRODUCT: Skybolt cowl fasteners
Although I've covered this fairly thoroughly on the Cowl page, I wanted to mention Skybolt's cowl fasteners here because they really do work well. Using them for your entire firewall perimeter with Van's hinge on the horizontal parting line is what I ended up with as the best of both and highly recommend it. Several other RV builders have taken this advice and are unanimously glad they did. See the Cowl & plenum page for more info.



PRODUCT:  RV/Rocket Steering Link
For the first hundred hours or so I flew my plane I heard this constant rattling while taxiing coming from the aft end of the plane. I figured it was the "screen door chain" tailwheel steering link that Van's provides but didn't know for sure. Finally, after the winter moisture started rusting my springs & chains, I ordered one of Terry Jantzi's Steering Link. As you can see in the pics it's a much more elegant solution... lighter, aerodynamically cleaner, and infinitely tricker. No more rattling or rust either. It does steer quicker but you get used to it very quickly. To order yours go to... www.iwantarocket.com

PRODUCT: Tail-Mate

Here's something I saw an ad for while thumbing through an aviation magazine that I use all the time... the Tail-Mate. It slides right under the tailwheel and let's you jack the plane all the way up to flight attitude in seconds. You don't even need to pick up the tailwheel, just give it a sharp shove as long as your mainwheels are chocked and it slides right in, then jack it up to clean your belly or bring the nose down to more easily work on your engine. Sometimes you need the plane in flight attitude to make some adjustment, no problem. I really wish I had had this thing while I was building, but I still use it continually as it is... a must have! Check it out at... www.tail-mate.com


PRODUCT: Aero Assembly Automation front stick
Those of you who have piloted an RV-8 know that the ergonomics of the front stick are a bit wanting the stick is too far forward and too low. RV-8 builder Todd Rudberg has attempted to solve the problem by putting some strategic bends in the standard stick. (bends in the pic have since been changed a bit)

Installation of the stick requires a small adjustment of the rod end bearing in order for it to not contact the front edge of the seat pan when pulled full aft. The bends in the stick provide for 1.5" of setback of which probably .5" is given back in adjustments. Still, it puts the handle about 1.0" aft of it's original position. In my case I also left the stick as long as possible so that as it goes under the panel the PTT button barely clears. (unless you have inverted fuel and oil systems you will never use that much forward stick deflection) In all, while a small improvement, it has improved the pilot's ergonomics. 

Todd has come up with several good idea products for the RV-8 so you might want to check his web site... www.rvwoody.com. If I were building my plane again I would definitely use his modular panel!