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Dalmo

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Sep 6, 2021
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15
Hi all,

The kit I have purchased comes standard with manual flaps, which are actuated via a large handle on the upper left side of the cockpit.

I would very much like to automate the flaps, but don't have the first idea of who could help me design (and possibly build) the system to achieve this. I know I will need motor/s, servos, sensors and most likely something that connects all these things to where the existing flap actuating handle enters the cockpit. But I don't know who I'm looking for to help me solve the puzzle. Would they be an Aviation Electrician? Engineer? or something else?

Can anyone help please .
 

TFF

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Homebuilt airplane. You.

It depends on your airplane if it’s feasible. What you do is surf the Internet until you find an idea that you like; go to airports or other places where flying goes on, and try to adapt the best you see. It use to be magazines and catalogs one surfed. It’s research. If it’s all new in your head, it’s on you. Doesn’t mean you can’t get help, but you have to conduct, not let them go do what they think you want. You have to know that part.

Automatic, by that do you mean hands off robot like or just electric? Totally hands off is very hard. You don’t want it to misunderstand conditions and do the wrong thing.
 

Toobuilder

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If it's a kit aircraft then what do the members of that forum or builders group say? Somebody MUST have already done it, and if not, it's probably not a good idea.

What kit?
 

Toobuilder

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Depends on the aircraft and mission

Manual flaps on an RV suck - the lever takes up way too much real estate that is needed for more important things.
 

Toobuilder

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I Re read the first post and I "think" he's looking for "automatic" actuation.... I thought he was just doing electric conversion.

In any case, need more info. Whats the airplane and what, exactly are you trying to accomplish?
 

Dalmo

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Sep 6, 2021
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I will be building an Aeromarine, Merlin PSA (E/A-B LSA). The stock kit comes with a fairly large stick-like handle above the pilot's left ear in the cabin to operate the flaps at the appropriate angle for the phase of flight. I would basically like to motorise this operation (electrically) to a hat switch on my stick grip.

As there are not a huge amount of these airplanes out there, even in the US, although the number is growing steadily, and there are quite a few more in Europe, I'm having no luck finding a user group or Merlin owner's forum to find out if anyone else has gone down this path. Much of my interest is based on my experience - I've never flown a manual flap aircraft before.

Cheers and thanks for the advice.
 

Daleandee

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Sep 11, 2015
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Don't know if it will work for you but some of the Sonex builders remove the notches, shorten the handle and use something like this:

* Electric Actuator 16 Inches Electric Cylinder 12V *

1631420262924.png
 

Victor Bravo

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Weigh the components of an electrical system, and compare that to the weight of the manual system.

Then compare the speed of the manual system to the electric system.

Then compare the electric system failure modes and consequences of different types of failures.

I suspect you will find that the manual system offers lower cost, lower weight, lower number of failure points, faster operation, lower parts count, and less opportunities for a component failure to have a significant effect on the flight.
 
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Toobuilder

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Just glancing at pictures of the Merlin I'd take a guess that it would not be that hard to add a linear actuator for the flaps, but no way is it going to weigh less than the simple elegance of the standard set up. And looking at the class of aircraft this is, ounces count. The several pounds that an electric conversion would add are probably why you have not seen anyone do this mod.
 

djmcfall

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Flying Cessna aircraft over the years (150-152-170-172-175-180-182), I will take manual Johnson bar flaps over electrical flaps any day. Only benefit of electric flaps in the 182 was I could mount the console between the seats, which I love the extra storage and a place to put my coffee mug and water bottle.
 

jedi

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I will be building an Aeromarine, Merlin PSA (E/A-B LSA). The stock kit comes with a fairly large stick-like handle above the pilot's left ear in the cabin to operate the flaps at the appropriate angle for the phase of flight. I would basically like to motorise this operation (electrically) to a hat switch on my stick grip.

As there are not a huge amount of these airplanes out there, even in the US, although the number is growing steadily, and there are quite a few more in Europe, I'm having no luck finding a user group or Merlin owner's forum to find out if anyone else has gone down this path. Much of my interest is based on my experience - I've never flown a manual flap aircraft before.

Cheers and thanks for the advice.
Two more cents: Build the kit as delivered and at the end of one year see if you still want the electric flap option.

If you decide to do the conversion I will give you the two cents.
 

Daleandee

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Electric powered flaps are always to slow at times and to fast at times. You have far more and safer control with manual flaps.
I made mention of an actuator as the OP has a desire to automate the flaps.

FWIW, I would never do that to my Sonex as I like the manual flaps. They are quick & easy to control, the selected amount of flap is obvious, and it does save weight. But there are cases where the pilot may not have the strength or dexterity to operate manual flaps ...

YMMV!
 

Hephaestus

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Jun 25, 2014
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FWIW, I would never do that to my Sonex as I like the manual flaps. They are quick & easy to control, the selected amount of flap is obvious, and it does save weight. But there are cases where the pilot may not have the strength or dexterity to operate manual flaps ...
I could see the argument for the sonex electric flaps - my big mitt struggled with the factory handles spacing.

But that's more model / sasquatch specific issues :)
 
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