Saturday, May 2, 2009

Prowler Plasma Makes Fire!

Hello again. Thanks for checking back in on us. In this update we tell you about:
1. A builder visit to Steven Rogers
2. Chuck's airplane had a second round of test flights
3. Prowler Kit #11 Lands in France
4. A quick trip to Sun-n-Fun
5. Prowler Plasma system finally makes FIRE!

1. Builder Visit to Seattle
Todd had a long stay in Seattle recently and had an opportunity to get together with Steven Rogers and his aircraft. His aircraft was build from George's kit #14 by him, his father, and (on several occasions) George too. It was a great visit and we learned a lot about the airplane from Steve's experiences so far in his initial flying and testing. Unfortunately, he recently had a hydraulic issue and the tailwheel collapsed while taxiing and landed on the rudder. So Steve is in the process of making the necessary repairs and we'll have more pictures of the airplane from a follow-on visit. Steve's airplane was the 4th Prowler that we know of to fly and wish him well getting his repairs done soon so that he can start to enjoy his bird instead of work on it. Here is one picture of a mod that Steve did to his Prowler that has dramatically helped to improve airflow through the engine compartment. Thanks for the Visit Steve.

2. Chuck's 2nd Round of Test Flight
We got news of Chuck Westcott's second round of test flights via Ray Siem. The flight's were successful, however, Chuck still reports having water cooling problems. He is in the process investigating the problem and we'll try to have more details in the next update.

3. Prowler Kit #11 Lands in France.
Nicolas Hombreux reports that the shipper has delivered his kit. He has begun un-crating, inventorying and organizing his parts. Here are a few pix: He promises to have more pix of him with the kit for the next update. Congratulations Nicolas! We look forward to helping you get your airplane built in the years to come.

4. Sun-n-Fun
A recent pop-up trip allowed Todd and Dave to get together for a quick Prowler Shareholder's meeting at Sun-n-Fun. Dave flew his certified aircraft into LAL for the annual get-together and we got to spend some time checking out potential suppliers and vendors. We are fairly interested in a FWF package that is being offered by Geared Drives out of Conroe, TX. Bud Warren has designed a very nice self contained PSRU that is designed to work with any SBC engine, is very solid and is virtually plug-n-play. He is marketing a FWF package for the RV-10 buyers that we think is very strong. Check it out here: Geared Drives We are giving this some strong consideration for the Prowler - if we can make it fit. Time will tell.

5. Prowler Plasma Makes Fire!
After months of research, lots of money and lot of modifications the Prowler Plasma system finally fired for the first time. The latest accomplishments include: troubleshooting the installation of Mach3 into the computer; unlocking the secrets of remotely triggering the Powermax1000; and learning the correct order in which the consumables are attached to the machine torch. With all that done - the machine finally moved and fired under it's own power and we are pleased with the results. Most recently we "tuned" the motors and checked the system for accuracy on each of the X, Y & Z axes. With just a little tweaking the X axis moved exactly 80 inches when we told Mach3 to move the X axis 80 inches. Should be good for making spar caps and other long pieces.

Now the real learning starts. Figuring out all the software that will eventually allow us to make parts with the plasma setup. It looks like we will be designing (modeling - actually) our parts using the new BobCAD-CAM-ART version 23. Then those files will be fed into SheetCAM TNG to create the actual tool paths and make the G-code to prepare the file for the plasma setup. Then those get sent into Mach3 which will actually cut out the parts. Easy right?!?! That's 4 major, new, unfamiliar pieces of software to learn if you include G-code itself. Despite that we've figure out a few things already. Here's a line drawing made from a "vectorized" copy of our "raster" style Prowler Logo: And this is the first Prowler Sample Part - it's nothing really. Just something made up to learn how to use BobCAD, SheetCAM and see if we can get it to move the table with Mach3: We will find out if the machine moves correctly the next time we're in the shop. More later.
That's all for this update. We'll post again in a few weeks. Thanks for stopping by.