FireStar Ultralight on Monofloat

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First Factory Installation

This spring, The New Kolb Aircraft Company showed off a FireStar on a Full Lotus monofloat with amphibious gear. The plane was built for a private owner by the factory's research and development department.

According to Ray Brown, head of R&D for New Kolb, "The FireStar and float installation took about 3 months to complete, working part- time. No special tools are required, just basic wrenches, sockets, drill and drill bits. A number of our customers have put their FireStars on floats, but this was our first factory-built float installation."

Most float-equipped craft suffer in performance due to the extra weight and drag of a float system. The answer? Up the horsepower. "The single-place monofloat FireStar equipped with a 50-hp Rotax 503 engine gets just about the same performance as the standard land version equipped with a 40-hp Rotax 447," says Brown.

- Dave Loveman

Info: The New Kolb Aircraft Company, 8375 Russell Dyche Highway, Dept. UF, London, KY 40741. Phone: (606) 862-9692 * Fax: (606) 862-9622 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . Fax: (510) 357-4429 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Starlight Wheels

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Half the Parts, Half the Hassle

No more pinched tubes or leaking wheel halves. That's what Starlight Wheels claims their new one-piece solid wheel can do for your ultralight.

If you've been flying your ultralight for a number of hours, I bet the following has happened to you.

You're taxiing down the runway, or have just landed only to find you have a flat tire. Or you've just installed a set of brakes only to find they really weren't worth taking the time to install.

A company called Starlight Wheels located in San Diego, California may have answers to fix these problems. According to Starlight president Bruce Root, most flat tire problems are caused by the tube in the tire being pinched by the two outer wheel rim halves. In the case of tubeless tires, flats can be caused by air leaking out when the bolts holding the halves together loosen.

Starlight's solution? A true, one-piece solid wheel. Instead of being bolted together, Starlight wheel halves are welded together with more surface sealing area for the tire to grip.

"This makes the rims truer running with a tighter fit," claims Root. "The rims are designed to be tubeless, but can also be run with tubes inside and are available in all standard sizes and rim offsets. Since the rim is one piece, tubes can't be caught and pinched. Even with all of the air out, the tire will not fully collapse, rather it will ride on the inner bead of the rim."

All Starlight wheel rims are designed to take a number of ultralight brake systems, with a weight savings of almost half a standard rim and brake system, claims the company. With some minor machining modifications to a brake system used with the Starlight wheel, braking performance is claimed to increase by 75%.

- Dave Loveman

Info: Starlight Wheels, 6676 Varney Drive, Dept. UF, San Diego, CA 92114.
Phone: (619) 266-1076 * Fax: (619) 527-4045.

Hummel Ultra Cruiser

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Half VW Powered

While the Ultra Cruiser uses the same all-aluminum construction as the older Hummel Bird, it is a completely redesigned aircraft. It has been lengthened and lightened for better ground stability and to fit into the U.S. ultralight category, according to Hummel Aviation. Power is supplied by a 1/2 Volkswagen engine.

Morry Hummel, Hummel Aviation and the Hummel Bird are names that are commonly recognized by many aviation enthusiasts. This spring, a new design was debuted by Hummel Aviation - the Ultra Cruiser.

There are a couple of unique features to the Hummel line of aircraft. First, Hummel's planes feature all-metal aluminum construction. Second, they are powered by 4-stroke 1/2 Volkswagen engines.

Half VW's

According to Hummel associate Scott Casler, "We take a 4-cylinder VW engine, cut it in half and use the front two cylinders. We make three engines: 28-hp, 32-hp and 37-hp models. The only difference between the engines is the displacement. The cases for the engines are purchased reconditioned or are available new. All the other parts - cylinders, pistons, heads, cams, etc. are new."

The engine uses the standard VW wet sump oil system. A Zenith updraft carburetor is used with a unique heating system to help prevent carb icing. The oil lines are wrapped around the fuel intake.

Ignition is supplied by a single magneto. The prop is spun direct drive. Total weight of the 1/2 VW engine is 85 pounds. According to Casler, the engine is suitable for ultralight and light Experimental aircraft. The engine can currently be found installed on miniMAXes, Hummel Birds and Skyraiders, and of course the new Hummel Ultra Cruiser.

"With regular maintenance and oil changes you can go 1,500 hours between rebuilds," continues Casler. "Rebuilds are very cheap, you're looking at about $250 in parts. These are all off-the-shelve VW parts."

The engines are currently priced at $3,250 for the 37-hp model, $2,700 for the 32-hp model and $2,400 for the 28-hp model. These prices are for ready-to-run engines. They can also be built from plans and parts available from Casler. Phone: (419) 335-2147.

The Ultra Cruiser

While the Ultra Cruiser uses the same all-aluminum construction as the older Hummel Bird, it is a completely redesigned aircraft. It has been lengthened and lightened for better ground stability and to fit into the U.S. ultralight category, according to Hummel Aviation.

The Ultra Cruiser uses 6061-T6 aluminum rivet-together construction. Currently the plane is only available as plans-built, but preformed parts should soon be available.

The average builder constructing from plans should be able to complete the project in about 800 hours, using standard metal tools. A construction and flying video is available. It is anticipated the plane will be available ready-to-fly in the near future.

According to Hummel, the Ultra Cruiser can be operated under FAR Part 103 when powered by the 4-stroke 1/2 Volkswagen engine. The plane has a canopy and cabin heat for all-weather flying. The canopy can be quickly removed for summer flying. The wings are detachable for storage.

Wingspan of the Ultra Cruiser is 25 feet, with a length of 17 feet. Stall comes in between 25-28 mph, empty weight is 249 pounds, and gross weight with a 170-pound pilot is 450 pounds.

  - Dave Loveman

Info: Hummel Aviation, 509 East Butler, Dept. UF, Bryan, OH 43506. Phone: (419) 636-3390.

CPS Offerings

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California Power Systems is offering IvoProp's mini magnum prop and prop hub. "The hub's new plates (shown right) are knurled, which helps grab real hard and doesn't let the prop move around," explains CPS president Mike Stratman.

California Power Systems (CPS) is offering a number of new flying items this year. Comtronics' full-face helmets - said to be popular with open cockpit ultralight pilots because they want to get the wind off their face - are available in a variety of sizes in 4 different colors.

"We also have IvoProp's mini magnum prop and new prop hub," says CPS president Mike Stratman. "This is ideal for [engines] producing 100 to 200 horsepower. The prop has the same torsional pitch setting and comes up to 72 inches in length. The hub's new plates are knurled, which helps grab real hard and doesn't let the prop move around. You also have a choice of bolt patterns."

CPS is carrying the Rotax Exhaust Ball Joint Conversion Kit from Stream-Line. "This kit takes the place of all the springs and hooks that hold an exhaust system together," explains Stratman. "Remove all the hooks and springs, and it's a simple bolt-on application that actually tensions the joint perfectly, holding the parts in alignment. There's no welding, no springs to bust, nothing to go through the prop. This is a nice item because it takes care of what I consider to be the ugliest part of the airplane. The chances of a prop strike are a whole lot less. You still need to safety-wire it because it is an exhaust part, but the chances of it coming apart are much slimmer than using springs.

"And now older Rotax exhaust manifolds can be upgraded with a new weld-on boss to accept the new-style bayonet EGT senders. The 8mm threaded boss can be tack welded on older manifolds in minutes. Placement at 2 inches from piston port gives a uniform EGT temperature reading. This installation eliminates unsightly hose clamp senders and drilling of exhaust manifolds."

Info: California Power Systems, 790 139th Ave. #4, Dept. UF, San Leandro, CA 94578.
Phone: (510) 357-2403

RAD Electronics

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Tim Bruno of RAD Electronics has designed a "black box" intercom system that is said to reduce background noise and combine a lot of options for ultralight pilots.

Flying open-air ultralights often presents a problem in communication because of the high noise environment. Over the years many headsets and intercom designs have helped pilots overcome much of the noise. A new company called RAD Electronics has come up with an affordable "black box" intercom system that is claimed to reduce background noise and combine a lot of options for the pilot.

"I ended up going with a type of noise reduction which has never been done in an ultralight intercom," claims RAD owner Tim Bruno. "My wife Shari and I wanted to get something on the market that was [affordable], really versatile and does everything in one box."

Called the TAC 100, the intercom features a unique electronic noise-limiting design, allowing for comfortable intercom volume while it reduces unwanted ambient noise. Powered by a 9-volt alkaline battery or 12-volt DC power, the intercom comes with a music jack for CD, tape or radio; two transceiver ports for air-to-air or air-to-ground communication; dual volume and threshold controls; user-adjustable output gain controls for push-to-talk arrangements; and durable anodized finish.

Measuring 1.5 by 4 by 4 inches, the intercom can be panel mounted or placed in a portable "RAD Pak."

"Electronic noise and ambient noise are two different things," Bruno explains. "Electronic noise is caused by the engine, lighting coils, tachometer, magneto switches and strobe lights. That's all usually taken care of by putting a circuit board in the intercom box. The protection is the circuit board and the aluminum box.

"Ambient noise is just what comes into your microphones and ends up going through your speakers. Therefore we have adjustable noise-attenuation so you can actually limit your background noise. And it's not a squelch like in general aviation. It's never been done in this market before. It's a compressor-limited circuit that actually compresses the waveform when there's low voltage coming through the microphone such as ambient noise. But when you speak into the microphone, it agitates the microphone diaphragm, creating more voltage break but you don't hear it working as fast. Again, it's not a squelch. You won't cut off first and last words, you don't have to yell to break it. You can talk pretty naturally even at full-power takeoff. You don't have to throttle back, because the intercom works well enough even to fly as a single-place and plug into the intercom just as you listen to music or whatever you want to do while you're flying.

"We've also gone to a 4-layer circuit board in our intercom box, which is heavily shielded. The box is usually what does a lot of the noise suppression."

What if a pilot already has a helmet and headset system and he just wants the intercom box? Is that retrofittable?

"If it's a single-plug system, yes," says Bruno. "So you don't have to replace your whole system, just your intercom if you want better noise attenuation. They're all surface mount, all the jacks are surface mount, eliminating the wires in the box."

RAD Electronics also manufactures communication helmets and headsets. "We have 8 different color earcups, four different color helmet combinations, and interface cables for all the popular radios," says Bruno.

Info: RAD Electronics, Inc., W9509 County Road JJ, Dept. UF, Wautoma, WI 54982.
Phone: (920) 787-3572.

Skydat GX1

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Digital Multi-Instrument

If your ultralight has an electric starter and battery and is powered by a Rotax engine, you have all you need to run the Skydat GX1 - a digital avionics system. 

If you're looking for one all-around instrumentation system, check out the Skydat GX1. It monitors all Rotax engine functions, and includes airspeed, altitude and climb rate readings - all in one package.

Designed and manufactured by Amptronic in South Africa, the Skydat GX1 is available in the U.S. through Rainbow Aircraft.

The unit features functions that can be displayed in three different sets of units: Imperial (UK), Imperial (US) and metric. Most of the functions are displayed in analog format with dials or bar graphs being utilized. Also, there is a visual alarm that warns the pilot if an important engine parameter has been exceeded.

According to the company, one of the great features of the Skydat is the installation. "All senders are connected to the Engine Management Module, which is located in the proximity of the engine," according to Skydat's literature. "This module processes the signals and transmits them via 4 wires to the GX1 instrument face."

The Skydat GX1 shows flight and engine functions. Flight information includes airspeed in kilometers or miles per hour; altitude in meters or feet; vertical speed indicator in m/s or feet per minute; flight duration in hours, minutes and seconds; air temperature in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit; and glide ratio. Engine information includes engine rpm; engine hours in hours and minutes; depending on the type of engine or configuration selected, CHT, EGT or CHT/CHT, EGT/EGT; water and oil temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit; oil pressure, bars or PSI; and battery voltage.

Designed for Rotax engines, the Skydat GX1 "needs clean 12-volt power," says the company. "If the aircraft is fitted with a battery and electric starter, then you will have all you need to run this system. If your aircraft does not have a battery, then you will need to fit a regulator/rectifier to the engine and connect a capacitor to the regulator output."

Info: Rainbow Aircraft, 162 Quincy #G, Dept. UF, Long Beach, CA 90803.
Phone: (310) 251-7560 * Fax: (562) 433-0738 * e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
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