# Have we reached the end of the Steam Gauge era?

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#### BBerson

##### Light Plane Philosopher
HBA Supporter
Yeah, I think watching an analog mechanical* tach needle spool up is way cooler than digital.

I won't call it "steam" guage. Seems inappropriate.

Log Member

Duncan

#### dcstrng

##### Well-Known Member
Instead of a back up ASI I opted for a LRI (Lift Reserve Indicator). As a VFR sport pilot the horizon in always displayed in "actual reality" just above the panel. Serious attention to the position of the nose in reference to the horizon gives me excellent attitude information..
Dale; actually it was a picture of your panel some months back that convinced me I was on the right track -- I also have a new LRI, but am undecided whether to use it in mine (long-metal-wing Cougar). With the enhanced performance of your bird, how do you like the LRI?

Oh, and I misspoke -- it's the MGL- F2 (Flight-2), not F1 -- whatever that is... I have the MGL fuel as well, but am going to try to make wing-root sight gauges work instead -- that's for next spring...

#### Kyle Boatright

Excellent points Kyle - there is probably about $350 or so wrapped up in those gauges, and you are correct in there being a weight penalty. However, for me I like the idea that I have a totally non electric solution as a backup regardless of how much it makes sense. I have no doubt of my ability to fly the Cruzer without instruments but with this FADEC engine if I have a catastrophic electrical system failure I'm coming down and I feel good that I can just glance over and know I'm at best glide and at a certain altitude or perhaps am simply above stall. My testing will be with a brand new homebuilt plane, brand new engine, and me only having a few hours in type and I'll be in some quite congested airspace. It's a comfort call. I also have a persnal friend who had a total EFIS failure so it does happen even if it is rare. I'm only debbil's advocating. I have a backup 2 1/4" ASI and Altimeter set aside for my current project, which will presumably have an EFIS. I'm still debating panel options. It is possible that I'll save the analog stuff for the Hatz, Headwind, Fly-Baby, or whatever my next windmill-tilt is... #### Wanttaja ##### Well-Known Member ....It is possible that I'll save the analog stuff for the Hatz, Headwind, Fly-Baby, or whatever my next windmill-tilt is... My thought for the Fly Baby is, if I go digital, I won't add any analog backup. For my type of flying, it isn't really needed. On the severe clear sorts of days I fly, Mount Rainier is a perfectly adequate navigation tool. Altitude is a bit iffier, but I figure I can find pattern altitude easily enough, and can dodge the severer restrictions of the Seattle Class B enough to not violate it. Haven't needed an airspeed indicator in a Fly Baby for about 28 years. Mind you, I certainly accept that some airplanes should have the backups. Ron Wanttaja #### Kevin N ##### Well-Known Member Steam gauges all the way for me. You guys should know already that a full electrical system is two magneto "P" leads, nothing more. I did enjoy the technology and flying the glass on the Boeings but that's over for me. #### Daleandee ##### Well-Known Member With the enhanced performance of your bird, how do you like the LRI? Don't want to get too far off the rails and turn this into an LRI discussion but I highly recommend using LRI for flight information. This is the second airplane that I've added an LRI (Lift Reserve Indicator) to as a back-up to an electronic ASI unit. This model gives consistant information and doesn't bounce around all over the place in turbulence. In reality I use it much more than the ASI. In this video you can see it working on take-off and landing. Obviously this version isn't a precision TSO'd instrument but when set correcly full stall should read the second notch into the red zone. It has been suggested that when set as such the the break between the red and the white section is Vx and the break between the white and the green would be Vy. Here is a video where you can see it working on take-off and landing (need full screen @ 1080HD to see it clearly): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uc6yRxAq-so I like to climb ~80 with 10º flaps until I clear the trees (all obstacles) and then suck up the flaps & lower the nose for better engine cooling. On landings I tend to stick the needle in the center of the white area until I float over the fence. I have come in steeper and slower but need a shot of power in the flare. There are a lot of different scenarios and profiles that can be flown with it. Takes a bit of testing to get the LRI set. IIRC mine is set to 51º from the wing chord. Dunno if this helps ... Dale Williams N319WF @ 6J2 Myunn - "daughter of Cleanex" 120 HP - 3.0 Corvair Tail Wheel - Center Stick Signature Finish 2200 Paint Job 138.2 hours / Status - Flying #### jwmflying14 ##### Well-Known Member Before I'd spend a lot of$ on avionics in a "basically" one off airframe, I'd put minimal instrumentation and go fly it. You just might find out that you're not happy with what you've strapped on your butt.
I may be misinterpreting your comment, but what do you mean basically one off? There ar hundreds flying.

#### ScaleBirdsScott

##### Well-Known Member
I'm holding up hopes for digital gauges that look like classic 'steam' gizmos but carry the advantage of a glass panel while staying discrete and legible. Ideally it also means upgrades to the hardware can be mostly limited to swapping out the actual CPU/logic board or an individual gauge. No more throwing out the baby with the bathwater when your unit is 'obsolete'.

#### rtfm

##### Well-Known Member
Hi,
Not sure I follow you. What you describe is available in a number of formats today.

Duncan

#### ScaleBirdsScott

##### Well-Known Member
Hi,
Not sure I follow you. What you describe is available in a number of formats today.

Duncan
IF you're responding to me, let me say that if there is such a thing as I am looking for out there, I'd love to hear of it. But so far I've found that while there are discrete digital gauges, there's two issues with them as far as I understand: they look digital in that they use LED displays or LCD screens or something else, which isn't as appealing (and for my specific warbird aesthetic especially) but is also not as intuitive as a dial for some. I've seen many that will espouse the benefits of a physical dial vs any sort of flat screen display. And the second issue is they are actual instruments with their own internal chipsets interpreting data. This makes them expensive and vital.

I'd want gauges that look and act exactly like analog steam gauges on the front side of the panel, such that you would not notice any difference between an aircraft with these and one that had actual steam gauges wired in the old way. But on the backside, you would only have short housings and a USB or SATA cable or something-else port, with the corresponding type of common data cables all tied to a central hub on an EFIS computer, so that each instrument is simply a dumb 'display'. It just outputs the dial positions it is told to by the computer that does all the actual work. The hope would be that by having zero logic in the instrument it could theoretically be fairly affordable and not as prone to obsolescence when better sensors or computing methods or whatever is available. Also if one craps out, you still have that data, you could use an iPad or other monitoring screen to reference the data the gauge is unable to render.

As far as I've found, there is no such system out there. Either the sexy EFIS which comes with a big glass display, digital gauges that individually replace individual steam gauges, or classic steam. If someone does make this, I havn't come across it yet!

#### cluttonfred

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
What ScaleBirdsScott is describing could be done with modular digital displays in standard instrument hole sizes based on the e-paper or e-ink technology as used in the Kindle reader and similar devices. It's not there yet in terms of response time and contrast but getting better all the time.

For me it's all about the aesthetics and the experience when it comes to analog vs. digital. If I were building a new design simple ultralight then I would want simple, light digital gauges, even something like what they paramotor guys use, because in the end they are lighter and cheaper than analog gauges.

If, on the other hand, I were building something with vintage appeal like a Pietenpol or Rube Goldberg retro charm like a FRED or Volksplane, then I'd want analog gauges as part of the experience. Similarly, I have looked into building a Pembleton Grasshopper, a three-wheel Morgan-style kit car using a Citroën 2CV donor car. Something like that would just look silly with digital gauges IMHO.

#### ScaleBirdsScott

##### Well-Known Member
Well, again not even e-ink, tho it's closer I guess. I'm talking make a traditional gauge but use some kind of servo, or microstepper motor to move your dial or indicators physically, in the real world. Like a CNC machine ya know? It's more work but the result is something that again should be indistinguishable from a real gauge. You should be able to outfit a P51 with these and someone would think "this looks original" and then you reveal the secret plot twist that they've been flying evil digital the whole time! Muwahahahahahaha *moustache twirl*

#### BJC

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Well, again not even e-ink, tho it's closer I guess. I'm talking make a traditional gauge but use some kind of servo, or microstepper motor to move your dial or indicators physically, in the real world. Like a CNC machine ya know? It's more work but the result is something that again should be indistinguishable from a real gauge. You should be able to outfit a P51 with these and someone would think "this looks original" and then you reveal the secret plot twist that they've been flying evil digital the whole time! Muwahahahahahaha *moustache twirl*
The easy way to do that is to install an AFS EFIS, select the analog display, and put a piece of cardboard with six holes in it over the EFIS.

BJC