Monday, October 20, 2008

Let There Be Dark

Our customers want to run computers in the back of the airplane during flight, and they complain that they can't see the screens, can we make it darker? My coworker and I go to Canadian Tire and buy deluxe windshield sunshields, velcro, duct tape, and marker pens. We also bring scissors and a newspaper. We have a project.

Our first step is to make window sized templates with the newspaper. We hold up the newspapers to the windows and trace out the shape and size we want with the markers. We want them a bit bigger than the windows so we can velcro the sunshades onto the window frames. It turns out that we have three different sizes of windows, as they get smaller towards the back of the airplane. I was afraid they might all be different, so that's actually a relief. It takes a few iterations of taping newspapers together, tracing and cutting before we're happy with the results.

Next we lay out our templates on the silver windshield shades and trace around them with the markers. We cut out the window shapes. We weren't sure if the structure of the shield material would hold up after we cut them, because the edges are sealed with cloth tape, but it turns out that they're made of bubblewrap coated on each side with shiny foil, and they stay glued together just fine without the edging. It's a prety good design, really: foil to reflect the light and bubblewrap to provide insulation against the transmission of heat. We could use them overnight in the winter to keep the cabin warmer, too.

We hold the silver panels up to the windows to make some trimming adjustments with the scissors, and then finally stick put little patches of industrial-strength velcro on our panels and on the corners of the windows. It's really dark now! It will help me, too, because now I won't have beams of light coming in the back windows to glare off my instruments.

On my next flight with the darkened windows I amend my passenger briefing to note that in an emergency I will ask them to pull down the screens before landing so that they can see the surroundings, in order to choose the safest emergency exit to use.

13 comments:

dpierce said...

To run computers? Is that the excuse kids use these days? Next, they'll want a blanket because it's "too cold".

Blake said...

Great to see you've amended your passenger briefing.. but what about your W&B? ;)

Do the shades add a few extra lbs to your aircraft weight?

Head in the Clouds said...

This reminds me of a project for my plane that I've never been able to complete. Does anyone know where I can get some sort of red film to put over my overhead light? I tried searching a while back online and in a few stores-- but didn't have any success.

jinksto said...

head in the clouds, I think you want to do a search for "Red Lens Repair Tape" which is sold in most automotive warehouses for repairing (obviously) broken taillights and such. Here's a link from just one that I found (there were many):

http://www.acehardware.com/sm-victor-red-lens-repair-tape-v-308--pi-1297557.html

nec Timide said...

Head in the clouds, have you tried photographic supply stores? Good ones should carry colour filters. The other option is to find a theater group and ask them where thy got their gels, and could you maybe have one of their ratty ones. A gel may be a better choice since it will be designed to take the heat of being in front of an intense theater light. Not that your overhead is that hot, but any filter you put there will be very close to the light.

N6349C said...

Talk about keeping the passengers in the dark........

On a XC trip this summer over upstate NY, my GPS (which was at the time coupled to the a/p) kept loosing sync everytime the kids in back booted up the laptop to watch a movie. Turning off the WiFi seemed to solve the problem.

Colin Summers said...

Number the shades! Now it seems obvious, but when they are not in the windows for a couple weeks you'll look at them and have to figure out which goes where.

I made similar shades out of exactly the same material for the rear windows of my Diamondstar, so that my two boys (10, 12) could nap and watch movies on the way across the continent. I was glad to see that they were often peeling back the shades to see where we were and what the landscape below us was doing.

Aluwings said...

Hmmm... my canopy of my homebuilt gets very hot in the summer... With that material from Can. Tire and some velcro and the right glue (for lexan) I might have a solution!

Thanks

Jim said...

Do you have to TSO this to use it in the US?

Re-weight the aircraft for the W&B?

One of the Golden Rules is that the paperwork has to outweigh the aircraft...... are you still compliant?

Agreed on the red gels... I used to put them on the front of a 1000W bulb, and they didn't melt and drip on the floor. After a long time, the centre burns out... but the corners are still very usable. Go into any community theatre.

Aviatrix said...

The popular wisdom is that
1. if you install it you need paperwork, and
2. if it's only held on by velcro, it's not installed.

That's why almost everything in my airplane but the wings is held on by velcro.

majroj said...

If you used the self-sticking Velcro without additional glue, I've found that car interior solar heat (about 130F max) will eventually cause the glue to turn to sticky ooze, the "gluee" to come away from it's intended site, and that this situation is unimproved by rechilling it. Use an ancillary glue and unstickyfied Velcro if you have not already.

Anoynmous said...

Using Velcro doesn't count as "attaching", but what about zip ties? I'm thinking of Lite Flyer's radio.

Aviatrix said...

Lite Flyer has an experimental ultralight. We could have superglued an aardvark to each sponson and as long as it didn't put it over gross, I don't think Transport Canada can say boo.