GyroBee!

Home Aerotec Bensen '98 Bensen '99 Builder's Notes Engine Mount Pics To Do/Buy List

Updates

June 28, 1999

    Haven't quite nailed down the problem with my rotor head and the D.W. Hub, but I have an idea. Asking Ernie if he can drill another teeter bolt hole in the hub bar block, that would solve the problem.

    The prerotator drive cable might be a problem. As it is now, the cable goes under the exhaust system, gets in the way of the pull starter, and goes up behind the mast, and looks like it's going to rub against it a little. Not sure if this is the way to go or make a new engine mount. Research, decisions...

    I have the material for the new tailboom, and am trying to decide if it would be a major pain to implement the horizontal stab placement I have been thinking about, where I'd mount it on the bottom of the tailboom, right underneath (or almost) the rudder. My kingdom for 3 solid weeks of quiet, uninterruped time to work in an airconditioned hangar!!! :)

May 24, 1999

    The Dragon Wings are in the Hangar! I went to RFD on Thursday to pick them up. Ernie test-flew my new blades and helped me box them for my return to Royal Palm Beach. While at RFD I saw the "mystery engine" that was mentioned in the latest PRA magazine and was told a few inside secrets about it! Sorry, I can't go into details. :)

    Anyway, Ernie and his wife were really nice and I hope to be able to build a Dominator someday, I feel really good about their company. The Dragon Wing hub bar seems to be disagreeing with my Rotordyne head but Ernie has given me some clues about it. The worst that might happen is I'll have to buy some taller teeter towers. Try saying that 3 times fast. 

May 18, 1999

    Ordered a set of Dragon Wings Monday morning! Oh yeah... The dream will shortly have wings! I talked with the famous Ernie himself, and after a lot of calculation and deep thought, he decided that I'd be best off with a 24' set of blades. He also strongly recommended that I upgrade to a dual carb for my Rotax, something I'm going to take very seriously. I will be picking the blades up on Thursday, can't wait to get them and to see RFD, too.

    I have the pre-rotator mostly installed, I just have to finish up the set of dummy cheek plates for the rotor head first, but it looks like it's going to work out. There are a couple different ways you can install the drive wheel onto the gear box, and the usual way is on the carb side of the engine, but in my case the carb side install would interfere with the engine mount, where the flexible shaft extends outward and upward. On the exhaust side, it clears the mount ok, and I was initially worried that it might get in the way of the exhaust manifold, but it's working out, just have to use some ties in the right places. I'm very happy with the way things are coming along.

    I've decided to make a new tail boom, a longer one, more like the original. I just don't like the short look, and I believe that a longer boom is better where the horizontal stab is concerned. I also plan to try an idea I have where I'll mount the horizontal stab underneath the vertical stab instead of ahead of it on top of the keel, thereby giving it even more leverage.

April 30, 1999

   Got the new seat and installed it. Much better! It's plastic, molded in an ergonomic shape which doesn't lend itself well to the mounting plates. The seat clearly wasn't designed for the way you need to mount it on the 'Bee, but 20 aircraft bolts can persuade anything to shape itself to the dimensions you want! It'll take some modifications for the seat cover to work, but in the end it should be fine. The seat cover even has a pocket in the back, and when it's installed it will cover the rear plates and hide the bolts, ect., so it'll look nicer too. The bottom lip of the new seat might interfere with the aft movement of the joystick, but I'm not too worried about it. If it doesn't allow for all the movement needed I can always cut some of it away. Another potential problem is that this seat doesn't look like it's going to lend itself very well to providing a location for mounting the throttle. We'll see.

    Ordered the Wunderlich pre-rotator. Mr. Wunderlich was kind enough to offer to install the equipment on my rotor head free of charge as long as no fabrication was needed, so I sent it out to him. I have to get it back and mount the head before I'll know the measurements of the flexible shaft though.

    Thanks to my buddy Brian, I have the exhaust elbow hooks welded properly now. The exhaust system is complete and the springs are right, it just needs a little cleaning and hi-temp paint and it's ready to go.

    I'm doing some hard thinking about blades these days, as I may be ready to order a set in as soon as a week. Ralph says 25' is too big a diameter, even for me. Nobody can really say exactly what diameter I need, because well, the GyroBee is still pretty new, and my circumstances are a little unique. I'm thinking I'll just go ahead and get a set of 24' and try. Unfortunately, RFD doesn't have any kind of exchange policy (too bad) so when you buy a set, if they don't work, you're stuck with them. I really think though, that 24' is the way to go. I reserve the right to change my opinion, however! :)

April 21, 1999

   I fabricated the new 5" longer "stretch" keel last night. Result? Yesss! It makes sitting in the 'Bee much more comfortable! It's like kicking back in a recliner now. My knees are no longer under my chin, and operating the rudder will be much easier. I can even prop my heels on the lip of the rudder pedals like I originally wanted to. The extra 5" shows, and when I look at the 'Bee now it makes me think of a dragster... It looks more appropriate though, more proportionally-correct. I highly recommend this modification (so far!) for anyone 6' tall, as I am.

    After some soul-searching, I think I've decided not to paint after all. Well, at least not the vast majority of the gyro- Some parts will still need paint, like the drag struts, the instrument pod and the exhaust system. But for the most part, it's gonna be bare. Painting will just be too much work, mess, trouble and time. It'll be enough work just polishing everything properly.

    Ordered a new seat, the one Geoff Taber uses. Hope it's more comfortable than the one I have now.

    I'll be ordering the Wunderlich pre-rotator in a day or so. I'll post any special details needed for Gyrobee use (like distance from the head to the engine) here after I order.

    In a couple more weeks or so, it'll be Blades time! Then, nothing will be between me and flying the 'Bee except more shop work, adjustments and training!

    I've decided to self-train. I'm confident I can do it properly, and intend to take it slowly. I've discussed this with quite a few select people, and the vast majority of them tell me it can be done safely. It's interesting to note the amount of famous people (in gyro circles) who have self-trained, and yet hear many other folks downplay the idea of self-training. Of course, these days, it's hardly surprising- It's too easy for the average bozo to go out and buy himself a gyro, hop in it and PIO himself into a shallow grave.

    There are folks out there who will tell you about how they self-trained, and some will even offer an information packet on doing so when you ask them. Don't ask me who, they don't want to be identified! I can say that if you do your research on who would be the right persons to ask, and ask them, they will probably tell you.

April 12, 1999

    Well, the instruments are fine, I ordered the helmet and some other stuff, and went to Bensen Days '99 for about an hour and a half! Got a test ride though, check it out in Bensen '99 above.

March 19, 1999

    Joy! I finally got the instruments. Everything is in order. The EIS system seems to be everything it's claimed to be. I'll probably put power to it in a day or so to make sure it's happy. I tested the airspeed indicator by putting my lips right against the pitot input and blowing as hard as I could(No, no I didn't do that! I know that would likely destroy it! Just kidding!).  I did take a can of that computer/camera dusting compressed air and firing it (from a distance) at the port, and about 30 MPH showed up, so it's good. Got a spool of safety wire, and the new hooks I needed to fix the exhaust up correctly. Ahh, another step up the mountain. Next purchase- Helmet!

March 9, 1999

   Instruments haven't been delivered yet! Guess I'll have to call CPS and find out what the holdup is. They haven't charged my credit card yet, so who knows what's wrong...

February 13, 1999

    Ok! We're back in business. I know, it's been years since I updated the page. Well, I'll try harder to keep it current; After all, why have a page if it's all outdated junk, right?

    Anyway, not a whole lot has changed since I last updated, but I did get around to ordering the instruments! Should have them late next week. Here's what I got, ordered it from CPS:

EIS (fully electronic) system package #E811, which comes with 2EGT and 2 CHT probes included; super size display option, Outside Air Temp. option, Gear tooth/pulse adapter option (for rotor tach), and the Altimeter/VSI option.

Airspeed Indicator, part #4503. Displays 0-80 MPH AS, with pitot kit.

    Hopefully I can get all that to fit into the instrument pod. It'll give me a display for everything important except for fuel quantity. Might go with the "look behind the seat" method, not quite sure yet.

    Still lots of little things to do before it's done, but like climbing a mountain, every step upward brings you closer to the summit, and I'm definitely past the treeline now. Even so, wish I had a solid couple weeks of uninterrupted time to work on it, ya know?

October 31, 1998

    Still been bumming around instead of doing real work these days. I have to get back in the shop and get my butt in gear. I've also been spending gyro money on computer toys like a nice new Voodoo 2 card to replace my ailing Voodoo 1. My two material loves, constantly demanding monitary attention.

    I've decided to go with the longer keel idea, going to make it 5" longer at the front. Should be easy to make another one, I can pretty much match-drill the new one off of the cluster plates and nose block plates. It'll give me some needed leg room. I can't see any detrimental effects of making the keel longer; except maybe a tad more weight.

    The shock plate re-positioned just fine. The stance of the main gear looks more normal now! The overall height is also noticably shorter. Thanks again, Scot.

    Going to cut off the incorrectly positioned hooks from the exhaust angle and weld new ones on.

October 13, 1998

    Ugh! I was getting a little "Gyro'ed out" for a while there; just decided to mentally drop everything and relax a bit. Feeling better about things though. Anyway, I got the exhaust system welded up by my good friend Brian, who has the equipment and welding expertese. Everything worked out fine except for the distance between the hooks on the manifold and the 90 degree bend elbow, they're too close for the springs to give any grip. I'll have to see if there are shorter springs available for the exhaust, or I'll end up cutting off the hooks and welding new ones on at the right distances.

   Scot White was kind enough to point out to me that my shock plate looked a little low compared to his, which he has just completed. It's supposed to mount flush with the bottom of the horizontal engine rails. Guess what? I screwed up again! My shock plate was too low; check out my picture section. I would have realized this when I went to rig the bungee cords, but that might not have been until the parts were all painted, so it's good that Scot saw that. Thanks man! I thought the struts were angled a little low. Anyway, it's no problem to re-position the plate, and I willl very likely recycle the old holes for use with the voltage regulator and/or fuel pump mount. Just goes to show, even when you triple-check your measurements things can go wrong.

    I got myself a nice new dual band ham handheld radio a TH-79A, I can use it to talk to people on the ground and monitor the aircraft band at the same time. I am a Ham, by the way, call sign KC4UEB. Nice to meet you!

    Should be ordering some more items early next week; Probably get the helmet and/or instruments then. Once I have them, I'll have everything I need to taxi around on the ground!

September 30, 1998

    The engine bolted to the rails properly. With that taken care of, I got the exhaust mount system installed. I used the rubber-insulated system from CPS that mounts to the head bolts. I should tell anyone thinking about buying this mount that the template that comes with it which is used for drilling holes in the cooling cowl is inaccurate, at least in my kit! Save yourself the possible trouble and measure the distance between the head bolt locations; if I hadn't done this myself I would have been a very unhappy man; the inaccuracy of the template was just enough that I would have had to get whole new mount arms if I had drilled without checking.

    The only major drawback to this exhaust mount system that I can see is that it'll have to be removed each time I go to re-torque the head bolts. Also, I don't know what effect the weight of the exhaust system will have on the heads themself. I'll be keeping an eye on it. Other that that, it looks pretty good. I went ahead and pseudo-mounted the exhaust system so I could mark it for welding (the hooks, ect). It's ready to weld.

    I got the instrument pod. There's not much to it, it's a fiberglass half shell with rubber mounts and a blank face. Has kind of a cheap feel to it, but I think it'll work. Sure am glad I intend to paint it anyway; it arrived dirty and full of scratches. I'm not sure if I can make the mount that came with it work on the 'Bee, might have to make something else up.

    I'm kicking around the idea of making a new keel, maybe about four inches longer towards the nose, so that I can extend my legs a bit more. I think it'd be a little uncomfortable after a while, as it is. Also, it seems like the rudder pedals would be easier to operate. Anybody see any problems with making the keel longer?

September 22, 1998

    Got the word from Ralph about the tail length. See my builder's notes for the specifics, but basically it's supposed to be that way.

    I solved the engine mount problem. See in the picture where the rubber insulators are sitting on the rails? Well, I just cut that circular area out of the rails, instead of putting a spacer in. The mount now sits flush on the rails. I don't think it will take away from the strength of the rails too much, as the angle is still pretty substantial, and the load is shared between the mast and the diagonal support, between the two, but I'll keep an extra close eye on it anyway.

    Mr. Berlin Taylor was nice enough to snail-mail me a copy of his Bensen B-8 plans where it shows how to build a nosewheel brake. He also sent a picture of his own machine.

bjgyro2.jpg (18491 bytes)

    Very nice! I just had to post it here. You can't see it in this pic, but his machine is called the "Ruptured Duck"... I bet there's a painful story behind that one! Larry Harness also sent me a diagram of a nosewheel brake that he hand-drew. Between the two of them, I'll be able to figure something out. Thanks guys!

September 11, 1998

    Did a further test-for-fit this morning, and got a couple surprises. Here's the latest pic of my bee, just about all the major components are installed:

bee1.jpg (23217 bytes)

    Notice anything unusual? I sure do. The tail length is a lot shorter compared to the pictures of Ralph's prototype! It's hard to make out (my quickcam's not too good in low light) but you can see that the bottom of the prop is about even with the front edge of the horizontal stab. I checked the boom length again, it's 72" just like called for in the specs. So what's the deal? Well, I dug up an old (unrevised) set of Gyrobee docs that I inherited with my engine, and sure enough, found that they call for a tail boom that's a little over 82"! I'll have to ask Ralph if the new docs are a typo, and if not, why the shorter tail boom?   

To do/buy list: Self explanatory! Stuff I have to do or buy before my machine will be ready to fly.

Aerotec: View an online version of Aerotec's catalog, the only American company offering pre-fab GyroBee parts!

Bensen days '98: See a few pics I took at that year's Bensen days.

Bensen days '99: Basicly, I got a ride in a gyro!

Builder's notes: Read notes I made while building the 'Bee.

Engine Mount: Fabricate your own 'Bee engine mount!

Pics: See builder-oriented pictures of a semi-assembled craft.

This area of my page is dedicated to the Gyrobee gyrocopter, an ultralight aircraft that I started building from plans in November of 1997. Building and flying one of these aircraft has been a dream of mine since childhood, and I'm about to make it come true!

I estimate being ready to fly right about when the gyro is finished!

The Gyrobee was designed by Dr. Ralph Taggart, an ultralight enthusiast and writer for many recreational flight magazines. He took the time to design his own craft, refine and test it over the course of years, then offered the full documentation to the public, free of charge. What a guy! Check out his web page to find out more about the Gyrobee and gyros in general.

Click Here to jump to my Links page.

Last updated: 06/28/99