TruTrak install in C177B Cardinal

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by Dbarbee, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    The avionics shop wrapped up the installation of the TruTrak Vizion autopilot in my C177B Cardinal last weekend and I braved the cold to go try it out on New Years Day.

    Installation:
    The install took about 2 weeks but that included the shop taking a few days off around Christmas, a couple of unexpected events that took them away from it, connecting my 430 gps output to my EDM830, and some rearranging of my circuit breakers. Overall the progress was steady and uneventful. The installer commented that the illustrations in the manual for the roll servo were a little hard to match up to what they could see through the inspection covers but they eventually concluded that it could only go one way. The roll servo pushrod was missing from the kit but TruTrack sent one promptly and it didn't slow the progress. The shop originally estimated "around $2,000" for the install but I haven't gotten the final bill yet. I expect it to be a little higher but not too much. With the cost of the TruTrak ($5,000), STC ($140 including $40 EAA membership), and installation (~$2,000) the total cost should be under $7,500.

    Test Flight:
    Track Select Mode (TRK): Roll control was very firm and responsive and rolled out right on the selected track and held it very well.

    GPS Steering Mode (GPSS): Followed a flight plan and a GPS approach from the 430w flawlessly, including 90 degree turns, and kept the CDI dead center. Turn anticipation, procedure turns, hold entries, and holds all worked perfectly.

    Vertical Speed Mode (SVS)
    : Vertical speed control was about what I expected for an autopilot without auto electric pitch trim. There seemed to be a delay between the time I put in a new VS command and the time that the AP responded and the pitch control seemed mushy. Occasionally when asking for a climb or descent, the trim indicator would initially ask for pitch trim in the opposite direction. It also didn't seem to be able to nail the VS on the VSI as well as the lateral modes did. When the AP asks for a trim adjustment it's difficult to tell if it needs a little or a lot. I expect this to get better as I learn to use the AP and learn how it responds.

    Altitude Hold Mode (ALT HOLD)
    : Worked reasonably well with minimal deviations, even in light turbulence. The up/down pitch trim indicators came on a lot in the light turbulence, which I expected since the Cardinal can take quite a bit of pitch pressure to hold the nose up/down during down/up drafts.

    Vertical Approach Mode (GPSV): The vertical approach mode didn't work. I set up for an LPV approach on the 430w with the AP in GPSS Mode and ALT HOLD. I never saw GS ARM or GS CPLD on the display and the AP stayed in ALT HOLD mode as the airplane passed through the glideslope. I tried it a second time with the same results. (I didn’t try it in zero vertical speed mode but suspect the results would be the same) After reviewing the setup procedure I verified the 430w ARINC 429 configuration and everything looked right. Hopefully this will turn out to be just a configuration setting somewhere in the 430w or the Vizion.

    Any suggestions on things I can check?

    Missed Approach Mode: supposed to command a climb at 500 fpm on the current track when activated during an LPV approach. I was not able to test this mode since the AP would not enter approach mode.

    Control Wheel Steering Mode (CWS): I tested the control wheel steering from TRK mode by holding the CWS button on the yoke and changing the heading and releasing the button. The AP locked onto the new track as expected. (I don’t anticipate using the feature very much)

    Emergency Level Mode (AP LVL): I put the airplane into a nose high bank and pushed the AP LVL button. The roll servo firmly engaged and gently leveled the wings. The pitch servo engaged but the AP was much slower to bring the nose down than it was to level the wings. I repeated this with a nose low bank with the same results. Even though the pitch seemed a little sluggish, it did stabilize the airplane in straight and level flight.

    Automatic Envelope Protection Mode (AEP): Over-bank protection kicked in around 40 degrees of bank and firmly nudged the yoke back below 40 degrees. I tried the Minimum Speed Protection by slowing to stall speed. I couldn't get a full stall break so the AP must have been trying to lower the nose but it didn't have the same positive feel that the bank protection did. I didn't want to fly the airplane close to VNE so I didn't try the Maximum Speed Protection.

    Gyro Bank Mode (BANK): I haven’t tested the gyro bank mode yet which is basically roll mode if the AP loses GPS input.

    Summary:
    Overall I'm very happy with the TruTrak's lateral control (TRK & GPSS) which is primarily what I wanted. Without automatic electric pitch trim I think the VS and Altitude Hold are working about as well as they can, especially considering the high pitch force needed in the Cardinal sometimes during turbulence. Don't get me wrong, the vertical modes did OK and will probably perform better once I get more familiar with using them, they just didn't feel as firm and positive as the lateral modes.

    By the end of the 2 hour flight I was getting the hang of the buttonology and after a few more flights I'm sure I'll have it down. One issue I discovered was the location of the control unit in the old ADF indicator hole right above the flap handle. Several times I inadvertently put in 10 degrees of flaps while trying to adjust the autopilot. I'll probably swap places with the intercom during my next upgrade.

    The TruTrak Vizion was a good fit for my needs, expectations, budget, and mission. I'm confident the GPSV issue will be resolved eventually so I'm not too concerned about that. I'd highly recommend it to someone looking for a low budget AP with lots of features but you've got to do your homework and understand it's limitations.
     
  2. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    Update if anyone is interested...

    The AIRINC 429 data out configuration in the 430W was set to "AIRINC 429" instead of "GAMA 429". Made the change and tried another approach and it followed the LPV glideslope perfectly with the glideslope and localizer centered all the way to DA. The Missed Approach mode worked exactly as advertised too; engaged at DA, AP went to 500 fpm climb on current track, I added power, and away we went. Out of curiosity, I tried it again on a non-LPV RNAV approach (LNAV+V) to see if it would follow the advisory glideslope. I've heard of other experimental autopilots that would follow the advisory glideslope but this one does not.

    The vertical modes worked much better in the smoother air last night. I think it also helped that I'm getting a better feel for adding/removing power to help the autopilot climb/descend without needing a lot of trim adjustments. During the LPV descent I learned that I can just leave the pitch trim alone and reduce power, like I would when hand flying, then just make small power adjustments when the autopilot asks for up or down trim. (Up trim = add power, down trim = reduce power)

    Overall I couldn't be happier and it's performing up to my expectations.
     
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  3. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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  4. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    Here ya go...
    Installation Kit: Installation Kit.JPG
    Pitch Bracket and rod: Pitch Bracket & Rod.jpg
    Pitch Bracket: Pitch Bracket.jpg
    Pitch Servo and rod: Pitch Servo & Rod.jpg
    Roll Bellcrank and rod: Roll Bellcrank & Rod.jpg
    Roll Servo and rod: Roll Servo & Rod.jpg
    Panel Center Stack: Center Stack.jpg
    Full Panel: Full Panel (After).jpg
    Autopilot Control Unit: Intercom & Autopilot.jpg
     
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  5. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    BTDT. That big ole paddle drops to 10 whenever I reach over to touch the STEC. Soon it will be second nature to double check it.
     
  6. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    Older pic of ours, but you see what I mean... the STEC is directly above the Flap switch.

    This old pic doesn't even have the 430 and GTX327. Oh well, fresh pics after the fresh checks get cut. :)

    Cardinal panel.jpg
     
  7. idahoflier

    idahoflier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for the post! I was curious about TruTrak...
     
  8. gwav8or

    gwav8or Filing Flight Plan

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    And a wonderful flight it was, Dbarbee! :)
     
  9. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    This autopilot is a great option if you (owner) can use your mechanical knowledge and swing it as an owner assisted project. Hopefully your mechanic(s) is willing to help.
     
  10. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    Indeed it was, and good company! :)
     
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  11. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    Very true and I seriously considered attempting the install myself with A&P supervision, and the shop probably would have let me help. The installation looked to be fairly straightforward and the kit came with everything needed (including hardware) with the exception of a breaker, master switch, yoke switch, & optional audible alarm.

    In the end though with work, cold weather, etc., I decided my airplane probably would have been down for a lot longer than two weeks if I’d tried to do it myself. The shop was completely OK with me stopping by every day to see the progress and took the time to and explain the process.
     
  12. wayne

    wayne Line Up and Wait

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    Love the write-ups. Thanks!

    I was reading about this AP just last night. I don't see anything about it doing LOC/ILS. Does it do that, or just GPS & heading bug?
     
  13. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    It’s a strictly GPS based autopilot so it won’t follow VOR, LOC/ILS, or a heading bug. It follows only a selected GPS ground track, GPS NAV from a portable GPS, or GPS steering from a panel mounted IFR GPS (and GPS vertical steering for LPV approaches if it’s a WAAS IFR GPS)

    As long as you monitor the approach on a second VOR, I see no reason you can’t leave the GPS in GPS mode during an approach, allowing the GPS to continue providing GPS Steering to the TruTrak.

    Setting the desired track to give a specific heading for a vector shouldn’t be a problem either.
     
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  14. wayne

    wayne Line Up and Wait

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    Ouch. I get a lot of "heading xxx" in IFR flight. Oh, I see, it will do that sort of in Track mode, but it's not following your heading bug. If it will do that then it's fine. The bulk of my flying is GPS flight plan, which often turns into "direct destination".

    Hand flying the LOC/ILS is not a big deal, a bummer, but not a big deal. I'd love to have that like I do with most autopilots, but I can do it by hand.
     
  15. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks for sharing and the great write-up. :thumbsup:
     
  16. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    Most airports I've seen with an ILS also have an LPV to the same runway. Even if cleared for the ILS you could have that on the backup and let the autopilot fly the LPV with the same outcome.
     
  17. Baron62

    Baron62 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Nice detailed report! Thank you so much. Enjoy the new automation. :)
     
  18. Lynn Dixon

    Lynn Dixon Filing Flight Plan

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    Hi! I am seriously considering adding a TruTrak in a 177RG that I am closing on this coming week. Given you've flown this a while now, would you still recommend it over a Trio? Another quick semi-off topic question: I noticed that JPI monitor in your panel. Is that an EDM-830 or is it a EDM-930? How do you like it?
     
  19. Salty

    Salty Pattern Altitude

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    It’s got to be an 830 or 730. Not enough buttons to be a 930 or 900 and not big enough to be a 930. Not to mentioN all the original engine gauges are still in the panel.
     
  20. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    I’ve made several long XC flights (500 plus NM) and a dozen or so shorter XC’s (including actual and practice approaches) with the TruTrak so far and would definitely recommend it. I can’t fairly compare it to the Trio though since I’ve never used one and haven’t seen any reviews on it yet. I main reasons I went with the TruTrak were the cleaner look of the control unit (Trio unit looks too busy to me), TruTrak was the first to get approval for the 177, and the final price on the Trio ended up being more than the TruTrak.

    It holds headings dead-on in both track mode and GPSS mode and once I learned to anticipate power changes the same way I would without an autopilot, it did much better at leveling off at preselected altitudes. Altitude hold is very accurate as well, even in light to moderate turbulence. In approach mode it will keep the glide slope and localizer needles centered all the way to DA on an LPV approach. Instead of making trim changes when the TruTrak trim arrows come on I just make small power changes.

    Downsides are small and few:

    The knob is small and doesn’t have positive enough “clicks” when you turn it, making it a little tricky to set an exact heading or altitude, especially in turbulence. It would probably be a little easier if I’d been able to mount it closer. I did at least move it up away from my flap handle which helped with inadvertent flap operation while adjusting the AP :)

    Track changes over about 90 degrees result in a firm roll into a 20 degree bank with rollout right on the new track. However, smaller changes, like you’d typically get while being vectored, result in a very shallow, almost imperceptible bank and a long time to get to the new track, which prompts ATC to repeat their instructions because they don’t see you responding. This could probably be sped up in the settings but would likely result in excessive oscillation. I’ve overcome this by just using the CWS button to make these small heading changes and then let the AP lock in the new track.

    The trim indicator doesn’t tell you if you need a lot of trim or a little trim. It would be helpful if the flashing rate would change based on the amount of trim needed.

    The engine monitor is a JPI EDM830 and I love it. The 930 would have been nice to have but it just wasn’t in the budget. An added bonus is that, even though I don’t look at the factory gages anymore, I can still legally fly with them if the JPI screen ever goes blank.
     
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  21. Lynn Dixon

    Lynn Dixon Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks for the feedback Dbarbee! I am pretty much decided that I will be doing a TruTrak after all my research. I'll be installing an Aspen E5 as soon as they are on the market, and hoping that I can drive the TruTrak with the Aspen. I know it will do heading steering from the Aspen, but I am not sure if it will follow a VOR / ILS course thats being displayed on the Aspen.

    As for engine monitoring, I am seriously considering adding *something* at the same time I do the TruTrak since the shop will already be working in the panel. Maybe it will save a few hours of labor? My problem is, I don't have much room at all in this panel to work with. Here is a shot of what I was thinking of doing:

    [​IMG]

    If I went with an 830, I would have to stick it in the space below the IFD540 and transponder. That doesn't leave me with any room for the TruTrak (unless by some miracle, I am able to fit the "flat-pak" version of it above the EDM).

    However, if I were to go with a EDM900, I could probably stick that in the two holes vacated by the Fuel flow/Manifold and Tachometer? If it would fit in there with the trim wheel slot thats cut out.

    Here's what I have on the other side of the panel:
    [​IMG]

    I'm hoping to close on this bird this week, and take delivery of it soon after. I planning on taking it to whichever shop ends up doing the work as soon as I take delivery.
     
  22. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Nice write up ,enjoy the new autopilot.
     
  23. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    I would not put the trutrak way over on the right, Its gonna be a lot better in the OAT/VOLTS or EGT holes one the left.
     
  24. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    2018-05 Full Panel.jpg I like having the EDM830 in the center stack and it seems less out of place there to me. Where your Hobbs meter is located is about where my TruTrak is installed now. It works but it would be better if it were closer. Once you install the engine monitor you won't need the EGT or OAT gages anymore so those are good locations for the TruTrak. Only issue would be that they'd be inaccessible from the right seat, which may or may not be that important to you.

    Have you checked out Cardinal Flyers Online yet? Its a good resource for information on Cardinals of all varieties.
     
  25. Lynn Dixon

    Lynn Dixon Filing Flight Plan

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    Dbarbee,
    Would you mind doing a huge favor for me? Would you measure the dimensions of that EDM830, the bezel itself? I can't find the dimensions for it anywhere, and I am trying to decide where to put one in my panel. I'm going to cut some cardboard templates of the TruTrak (each format it comes in) and the EDM830 / EDM900 and see where they'll fit in the panel.
     
  26. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    I’d be glad to! I’ll be out at the hanger this afternoon fueling up for tomorrow’s monthly fly-in breakfast at Ponca City (KPNC), I’ll measure it then.

    Daniel
     
  27. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    Found this in the installation manual...

    Overall width: 3.180"
    Overall Height: 4.234"

    The diagram also shows the distance from the center hole to the top/bottom edges of the display. You will also need to install a small 3-position switch nearby for the FF/Both/EGT switch.

    I have my 830 currently installed in landscape orientation which gives me 8 gages along the right side of the display. After I replace my NAVCOM 2 and have more room I'm considering rotating the 830 to portrait mode so I'll get 10 gages.
     

    Attached Files:

  28. Lynn Dixon

    Lynn Dixon Filing Flight Plan

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    Awesome! I could not find that info anywhere, I must have totally overlooked it somehow. Thanks a ton for that .pdf. I'll probably get some cardboard templates cut out this weekend and start seeing what works where.
     
  29. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Now offering reverse discounts.
    We just installed one in our C182P.

    You had inquired about possible locations. We decided as close to our primary scan as possible was the best choice. So we chose the hole where CDI #1 was. Then moved both CDI's down one hole. Fortunately, we had a spot that CDI#2 could go just below it's original spot.

    Here is a photo of our monitor shortly before I shut down the motor. Hopefully seeing it above CDI#1 will give you some context of size.

    IMG_1441.jpg

    By the way, note the amount of fuel used, 14.5 gallons. During preflight I used the FuelStik to measure amount in both tanks, and repeated this during post flight. I also got 14.5 gallons. This is increasing my confidence that the totalizer is working as it should. I'll continue to do this check, especially after some longer multi-hour flights.
     
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  30. simtech

    simtech Pattern Altitude

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    With the TT being over there do you have issues seeing it at all or is it still close enough to deal with the knob and read the numbers? I'm thinking of getting the TT but it would have to be placed about where yours is. I can go either 3" or the flat one but was concerned with it being too far away.
     
  31. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    I would call having the TruTrak installed on the right side of the panel a minor annoyance and definitely not a deal breaker. The numbers are plenty big enough to read and the knobs and buttons close enough to reach easily. It was also easy to incorporate it into my scan to monitor the trim indicator.

    The only time it’s an issue is when trying to set altitude in small increments while in turbulence. To set 100’ increments, rather than the default 500’ increments, you have to push the knob in while turning it. That can get a little tricky when getting bumped around but still doable. I rarely use the 1 degree increments on the track mode, the 5 degree default gets me close enough.

    I’m also finding the control wheel steering (CWS) button to be more useful than I originally thought it would be and use it more and more. It’s much easier to use it for small heading and pitch changes than reaching over to fiddle with the AP.

    Moving the control unit up one hole so it wasn’t directly above the flap lever helped a lot with the inadvertent flap operation.
     
  32. Lynn Dixon

    Lynn Dixon Filing Flight Plan

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    @Dbarbee The folks at Whiskey Delta Aviation are finishing up my TruTrak install in my 1973 177RG, and I go to pick it up on Tuesday (if weather plays nice)!! Your post and comments helped secure my decision, and I ultimately ended moving the Hobbs meter down to the blank below the glovebox, and then sticking the TruTrak in the hole the Hobbs was in (above the Strikefinder) like in the photos of my previous posts.

    I believe that would put my TruTrak in roughly the same location as yours is currently, given that I have the 3/4 panel in my '73. Good to hear its not an issue for normal flight use. I ended up leaving the blank spaces below my transponder for future use, possibly an EDM-830 when my bank account recovers from this TruTrak :)
     
  33. simtech

    simtech Pattern Altitude

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    That's good to know thank you! The CWS when pressed does that cancel out the current ALT hold as well? I figured the CWS would be used alot especially when getting vectors but also though if after the turn you had a slight climb going it would grab it.
     
  34. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    When you push the CWS to change heading it will ignore any slight deviation in altitude and vertical speed and keep your previously selected altitude. I don’t remember the exact threshold but its never been a problem as long as I somewhat maintain my altitude during the heading change. (I’ll look up the exact threshold later when I get a minute)

    My previous experience with AP’s has been with a heading bug to change headings so I figured I’d similarly use theTruTrak track knob to approximate vectors to headings. In actual experience though I’m finding its much easier to push the CWS, turn to the new heading, and then let the AP lock onto the new track that gives me the new heading. It also gets me on the new heading faster since track mode responds very slowly to smaller track changes. Then I just monitor the heading on the DG and make small changes to the track as necessary.
     
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  35. Dbarbee

    Dbarbee Pre-Flight

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    Glad to hear your install is close to finishing up, I’m looking forward to your impressions on the TruTrak after you get a chance to fly with it. The buttonology takes a little getting used to but it begins to make sense pretty quick.
     
  36. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    Make sure you find a good permanent home for the EDM when you do. I'm finishing up my first EDM install (900) and good god that think could be a PITA to relocate there are so many wires coming out of it. The other thing that kind sucks is that there is a machined alumnium clamp with a setscrew BEHIND the panel that holds it in.