Ben Sclair, General Aviation News and Flyer
"Visual Instruments' Flap Position Indicator lives up to its billing"
A while back we bought a 1963 Cessna 205. While there was little wrong with it, we wanted to put our touch on the "new" plane. To date, this has included new radios and wind screens. A paint job and new interior are also in the works. Not long ago, Steve Mahoney from Visual Instruments called me. He told me about their recently certified Flap Position Indicator. It is designed to replace the existing Cessna flap indicator in about two hours. You simply remove the existing transmitter and indicator, and insert the Visual Instruments Flap Position Indicator and transmitter. Mahoney challenged me to have our mechanics install the unit. He told me that since he had installed the unit numerous times in his airplane, he wanted a second opinion for reference. True to his word, a few days later, Serial No. 3 was sitting on my desk. It took a couple of weeks to get with our mechanic and get it scheduled. I delivered the kit and brought the plane over a few days later. When I left Tosch Industries, mechanics Greg and Bob had all they needed. They had looked over the kit, visited the Visual Instruments website (VisualInstruments.com) and were ready to go. After the dust settled, they had the unit installed and operational in 2-1/2 billable hours. Both were impressed with the ease of the installation and the accompanying paperwork. The only comment Greg had for me was that our Model 205 would probably take just a little longer than most of the other approved aircraft because the access hole is smaller than most. Now for the fun part: the test flight. As things turned out, my flight back to our home airport, Pierce County (1S0), started at dusk and ended in the dark. I don't use flaps for takeoff at longer runways, but during the run-up and takeoff check, the indicator was easy to read. During my flight, as the lighting decreased, I glanced over at the Flap Position Indicator a few times to get a feel for it. With the flaps retracted, only one green bar is displayed. It was not a distraction in the darkening cockpit, and it was easily distinguishable at a glance. As I entered the traffic pattern and slowed things down, it was time to deploy some flaps. I ran them for a few seconds, then glanced down to determine their position. Even in the dark cockpit, I could easily tell the flaps were at 10°, as I had three green bars. Coming around base and then final, I fed in a little more flap and glanced each time as more and more bars showed up, each one telling me the position of the flaps. With my old indicator, and the existing instrument lighting in the 205, I would have been hard-pressed to confirm the flap setting. That's not a problem now. The Visual Instruments Flap Position Indicator lives up to its billing as easy to install and use. At a list price of $399, it beats a replacement unit from Cessna by about $200. The unit is currently certified for the Cessna line only - specifically, the 172F, G, H, I, K, L and M; the 182E, F, G, H and J; the 205 and 205A; the 210, D, E, F and T210F; and the 206, P206, A, B, TP206A, B, TU206A, B, and U206, A and B. If you have a need for a replacement flap indicator, or you're looking for a nice, simple upgrade to the panel, give Visual Instruments a call at 503-472-3350."
(Reprinted with permission of General Aviation News and Flyer)
June 2001 New Products, Plane and Pilot Magazine
"New Indicators For The Older Crowd"
If you're driving an older Cessna, don't despair-there's a new product available to help update the vintage aircraft. Visual Instruments of McMinnville, Ore., has an STC to install a new digital flap-position indicator on early-model 172s, 182s, 205s, 206s and 210s. The LED bar graph indicates flap positions in varying colors, and automatically adjusts to ambient light for IFR and night ops.
Charles Lloyd, Contributing Editor Cessna Flyer
The flap position Indicator is First Class all the way around. From the documentation to the final adjustments after installation and of course operation, the STC is really good. I visited the website and viewed the testimonials after writing the article. I think I cover all the bases on accolades in the letters there. I have some pictures that I will be willing to share with you if you are interested.
Charles Lloyd, Voltage Monitor Product Review Cessna Flyer
"Product Review for Visual Instruments Voltage Monitor by Charles Lloyd"
General aviation aircraft standard instrumentation includes an ammeter or current load meter to monitor your electrical system. Electrical power is a combination of volts x amps = watts, or power. An ammeter tells you only half of the story. In addition, the indicator charging condition is typically only a needle width difference between charge and discharge conditions. Visual Instruments manufactures an easy to read and install voltage monitor. If your 14-volt alternator fails, the bus voltage difference between charge—13.5 volts—and discharge—12 volts or less—jumps right out in your face with changes in color and position on the voltage monitor.
A ten-element light bar divided into 0.5-volt increments from 11.0 to 14.5 volts has three color-codes showing you the 12-volt electrical system’s condition immediately. Three green light bars from 13.5 to 14.5 volts are followed by four amber light bars from 11.5 to 13.0 volts, and finally three red light bars for 11.0 to 11.5 volts. The 24-volt system monitor has similar light bar divisions. The Voltage Monitor has an integrated dimming circuit for controlling light bar brightness under both day and night conditions.
The documentation includes installation instructions and electrical diagrams for suggested installations. The big question is where to attach the positive lead to the bus. Do you choose the primary bus or a secondary bus location? Attaching to the same bus as a backup alternator installation makes sense. The Basic Aircraft Products TurboAlternator Emergency Procedures require monitoring bus voltage and the alternator attaches to aircraft avionics bus. So, attaching the monitor to the avionics bus in this situation is the best choice.
Find a spot on the instrument panel and decide whether to mount the monitor vertically or horizontally. Faceplates for both methods are included. The only panel modifications required are one hole for the wires and two for the attach screws. Now get out your special tiny fingers to attach the two leads to the selected bus location and the installation is complete. Total installation time including the Form 337 and logbook documentation is about an hour or so.
The Visual Instruments Voltage Monitor resides quietly on your panel, diagnosing your aircraft electrical systems’ health until needed, when the colors and changing light bar indications get your attention immediately. For less than $100 and an hour of A&P time, you will have a good electrical system diagnostic tool. If you have a standby alternator on your aircraft, this instrument is vital for monitoring your electrical load. For those flying in instrument conditions, the Voltage Monitor merits your serious consideration."
Charles Lloyd, Flap Position Indicator Product Review Cessna Flyer
"Product Review for Visual Instruments Flap Position Indicator by Charles Lloyd"
Cessna single-engine aircraft flap systems changed from a manual to an electrical design in the 1960s. Bill, a 1966 Cessna 182J and his pilot endured life with the curse of this design until installing the Visual Instruments Flap Position Indicator STC. The original Cessna system is a look-at-it-until-you-get-it-right-type workload. You hold the switch down until the flap indicator shows the flap angle that you hope is close to your desired setting. The first problem is that the flap indicator accuracy is plus or minus 10 degrees. Second, the indicator is in the lower right panel and the pointer is hard to see. With this challenge, two “tribal knowledge” flap-setting methods are: 1. The “one potato two potato” method where you count two potatoes for each five degrees of flap setting desired, and 2., lower the flaps until you feel a slight vibration and viola! you have oh, about a 30-degree flap setting.
Visual Instruments Flap Position Indicator, STC SA00819SE, is a high quality, workload-reduction solution to this problem. A Light Emitting Diode (LED) bar graph display replaces the original pointer indicator in the instrument panel and a precision quality position transmitter mounted in the wing replaces the original Cessna unit. The LED is a nine-element vertical bar graph display. The top five are green elements and then four amber elements. The first green element at the top of the display lights when the master switch is on. Then another LED illuminates for each five degrees of flap travel. Flap indications through 20 degrees are green LEDs, five green LED will now show in the indicator. The final four LEDs indicating 25-40 degrees are amber. An auto dimmer circuit controls LED brightness to a comfortable level for day and night operation.
Wow, a seven-page installation document that is easy to read and covers everything you need to know about installing flap indicator components! Section "a" describes the two components. The indicator and transmitter are essentially direct replacements for the original components. Section “b” discusses installation and rigging. This section combined with two drawings and wiring diagrams for both single and two wire systems make the installation an easy to follow process. Remove the old transmitter. Crimp on the proper supplied connector and then install the Visual Instruments Transmitter on the original bracket and connect to the flaps. Then, remove the old position indicator and install the new nine-element LED indicator. Rigging is a two-step process. Set the flaps to ten degrees and adjust the flap position transmitter to show three green LEDs. Tighten the adjustment screws and then lower the flaps to 40 degrees and adjust the bias screw in the LED indicator to show nine LED elements. Close up the access panels, and you are done with the mechanical work. The Instructions for Continued Airworthiness, Troubleshooting and Flight Manual Supplements are all there. The icing on the cake is a Form 337 with the backside already completed. All your A&P/IA needs to do is fill out the front with your ownership, aircraft information, sign the Form 337, make your logbook entry and you are done.
Installing this $399 system is an easy four-hour project. Following the old saying, “Measure twice and cut once.” means taking to time read the installation instructions, then open up the aircraft and look at how you are going to remove the old and install the new components. This step takes approximately 30 minutes. The flap position transmitter installation is more involved with removal, connector crimping and installation. This process requires an hour or less. The LED Position Indicator is straightforward. The instrument panel location is accessible and is a thirty-minute job. However, the hole in Bill’s Avion Research panel did not match the shape of the new indicator. Using a small file and removing a bit here and then a bit there required another thirty minutes effort to do the work correctly. Expect thirty minutes for rigging and logbook entries and Form 337 completion and you have a finished installation.
The cockpit workload reduction is dramatic. The “one potato two potato” count vanishes from flap selection. All you need to do is hold the flap switch down, glance at the LED bar and you know flap setting instantly and accurately. The Visual Instruments flap transmitter is accurate and you no longer have to set the flap and look out the window to confirm what setting you have. The only question I ask myself is why I did not install the STC on Bill earlier. The Visual Instruments Flap Position Indicator is proof that there is always room for a better mousetrap."
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