Sunday, December 18, 2022

Mounting details for new probe concept

As promised, I did some more CAD work to describe how I imagine the new probe fitting into the scheme of things. Recall the "less is more" mantra. With that in mind, this is how I imagine it will work with the kinds of strut mounting systems we've been building so far:

The thing at the rear is the battery holder part of a flashlight. These are actually sold for $12-$15 as "flashlight hosts" for DIY flashlight makers, for example:

It should be easy to make electrical and mechanical adapters to fit a 18650 version on the end of one of our poles, and run a power wire to the probe. The good thing is, these things come with a water-resistant power switch built in:

That way, we abdicate all responsibility for battery charging -- just replace the battery -- and we also avoid the mechanical hassle of having to create a moisture-resistant battery holder ourselves from scratch.

For a more permanent installation, I imagine mounting as a pole on the wingtip. My friend Paul Eastham (an early Airball supporter) wrote an article for the EAA about these, where a certain you-know-what was featured, using ... um ... "repurposed bicycle inner tubes". Engineering on the cheap is where it's at here. Check out Paul's article here:

Great Airborne Images Within Reach

So given a 3/4" pole of any sort, it is easy to imagine mounting this probe to the end of it, and running a thin power wire in the obvious way -- perhaps into the wingtip of the airplane, and perhaps to sip a little bit of power from the wingtip lights.

It is possible to imagine feeding data via a wired method, so I am hoping to add the ability to send RS-232 signals as well. As for how to step-down an aircraft's power to something that 5V electronics can use, what I've been using is these super-cheap "battery eliminator circuits" from the radio-control world. You can get them at the hobby store, and even Adafruit has caught on!

Stay tuned as I iterate on these designs. Hopefully they can come to fruition in the next few months!

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