Upgrading the tailwheel spring retaining clip with a D-shackle

The rudder of a tailwheel airplane typically connects to the tailwheel with a combination of chains and springs. At each end, there is a teardrop clip. These clips will fail sooner or later – and usually at a very inconvenient tile. As was the case for me. One clip failed during a recent landing. Thankfully the landing was back at my home field.

Since others had experience with this situation I investigated their solution. Was there a better option? Yes!

A 3/16″ stainless steel D shackle fits nicely. A little safety wire insures the pun can not rotate and fall out.

retaining clip vs D-shackle

retaining clip vs D-shackle

In the picture, the top shows a standard retaining clip and then the D shaped shackle.

Now it’s back to flying!

Hinges, routers, and jigs

Pocket hinges or invisible hinges are a specialty item but some projects really call for them. Installing them requires very specific holes.

There are two methods for cutting the hole for the hinge – drill out most of the material with a series of holes cut with a forstner bit followed by a chisel; or cut out the material with a router using a guide. The first method is fine for a pair of hinges but when doing several, the router is faster and more accurate if you have a jig.

invisible hinge routing jig
invisible hinge routing jig

I don’t know how often I’ll be using invisible hinges but decided a jig would be a worthwhile use of a few hours.

The jig assumes the router has a 3/4″ collar and a 3/8″ straight bit. The end result needs to be 1/2″ wide slot with rounded ends and at two depths.

The jig I created has two ends – one end cuts out the large shallow area while the other end cuts the deep pocket for the hinge body. It fits snugly over true 3/4″ finish material.

Since it could be easy to forget how the jig is setup, all the instructions are written on it to indicate depth, orientation, and placement of the material.

I needed a couple test runs to insure it will work properly as evident by the hole on the right.

It is not be quite as clean as a commercial jig but this one is setup for the projects I complete and is less prone to error.

DIY Sous vide controller

Sous-vide is a method of cooking with a water bath set to the final temperature of the food, there by preventing over cooking.

Consumer units are readily available today starting at $200 with commercial units many times that.

There are temperature controllers without circulatory for $100. A DIY controller can be done for about $25.

project box with temperature controller and outlets
project box with temperature controller and outlets

This project took about an hour. The project box is 7.5″x4.25″x2.25″. The brains of the unit is the =digital” >http://amzn.to/1KsRnql]digital controller[/it’ll] which is often available from Amazon for under $15. Be sure to check the unit you order includes the temperature probe and has the greatest range available. This controller is good from -58F to 194F (odd range but enough for cooking).

The dual outlets made the internal wiring a little more work but since I had the inlet and outlets in the parts drawer, I decided to give it the flexibility.

True sous-vide cookers circulate the water. A kludge with DIY units is to use a small aquarium aerator to bubble the agitate and water.

Using this project is easy. Plug the unit in, set the desired temperature, and plug a simple slow cooker into the outlet. The controller will turn the slow cooker on/off to maintain the chosen temperature.

WARNING: this controller will not work with fancy slow cookers with a solid state power button – (insert face palm here) – since these units always default to OFF when they are plugged in. The controller is interrupting the power to the slow cooker which makes the cooker think it’s been unplugged.

I need a dumber crockpot. Flea market and thrift store time!

Windsock maintenance

Windsocks take a lot of abuse from the environment and eventually they need to be replaced. 

Windsock Replacement and Cleanup

This windsock has been in duty for four years and with the exception of two hurricanes, it has not been lowered.

It was time to bring down the mast and replace the windsock.
The new windsock is 8′ rather than the old 6′ sock. It is also of a lighter fabric. I doubt the new one will hold up as well as the first but time will tell.

In addition to replacing the windsock, it was time to cut back 3+ years of growth.

The new windsock is more visible and should provide a few good years of service before then next intervention.

iPhone photography and depth of field

The iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus) has a very good camera but it’s not a replacement for even a typical point-and-shoot, never mind using it in place of a DSLR.

Cellphone cameras fall short in a few areas. For my day-to-day photography, the two biggest categories are zoom/telephoto photography and depth-of-field control.

There are kludges for telephoto photography – sticking a lens in front of the cellphone lens but by the time you’ve planned ahead and carried the accessories, you are better off pocketing a small point-and-shoot.

iPhone photo, DOF, and tilt-shift
iPhone photo, DOF, and tilt-shift

There are Apps to approximate depth-of-field. One that I’ve used is Tadaa SLR. When used sparingly (middle image), it manages the effect pretty well. When used too much (bottom image), it creates the tilt-shift effect to give things the toy model appearance. There are fun uses for the latter but it doesn’t look natural.

The problem with apps like Tadaa SLR is that they are very time consuming. A typical photo will take 5-10 minutes to get the masking applied and then tweak the settings for the simulated depth.

Still, when you need to get some depth in a cellphone photo, these Apps give you some options.

Spring walk with stereoscopic images

Nick enjoying the sun and breeze

the upper pond

tomato farm irrigation pond

catch basin


tomato stakes