My Experience Installing the uAvionix Tailbeacon
Here is my saga of installing the uAvionix Tailbeacon on my RV-10.
To be clear, the difficulty was all mine, not the fault of the device.
The first thing I noticed when I removed the old tail light, was that the housing for the old light base, which extends a few inches into the rudder, was glued into place.
That meant I had to pry out the thin aluminum housing in pieces with a flat head screwdriver. Your'e pretty much committed to the project at that point. Lol...not backing out.
Since the wiring for the old light had only a few inches of slack, it was difficult to not overstretch the wires while removing the old housing.
As a result, I accidentally pulled too hard and disconnected the wiring "somewhere" in the airplane.
That was not a good feeling. I ignored my dread on that problem while I continued removing the old light and housing.
After removing the old housing, it was clear that the TailBeacon diameter was too large for the existing hole, by about 2 mm.
Eventually, I found a round file hiding on my tool bench and I was able to enlarge the existing hole.
Next I found that, because the unit rotates into place, I had to file out a lot more of the circumference of the existing hole than just that represented by the device itself. I had to file out the entire rotation span.
Next I had to locate where I accidentally disconnected the power wire. Luckily it was in the base of the rudder and was able to fish it out with some long nosed pliers. It had come loose at a rather weak snap connector.
I removed the snap connector entirely and replaced the rudder wiring section with new wires using heat shrink crimp connections.
The existing wire was a 22 gauge white-white pair instead of red-black.
I was replacing it with a red/black pair, but I had forgotten my multi-meter so I was stumped on polarity until I realized that whichever side sparked to ground would be the "red". Lol – and yes, I did pop the breaker…dang things are sensitive.
Next problem, the old mounting holes for the screws were basically just made of bondo and had nothing to thread solidly into.
I decided that I would cover the mounting screws from uAvionix with RTV and then screw them into the existing holes. That turned out to be very secure.
Next I plugged it all in, and viola ! No power… What ?!!!!!
So I had to remove and then re-fish the wires and find the bad crimp (which I checked and re-checked). Then re-assemble.
Next, power. Yes ! Finally !
At that point, you are supposed to connect to the device on their phone app with wifi broadcast by the unit. When I did, the TailBeacon refused to accept the published password.
A few power cycles later, and it eventually worked.
Then I used the app to configure it for my RV-10.
I will be taking it on test flight later this week.
All of this took about 6 hours, only because every RV is different. Mine was very well-made (not by me), but in any situation, there is always a way to foul it up.
Which I did nicely...haha.
But, all is well...after more sweat and time than I intended.
Notes for the uAvionix team:
1. Stripping those tiny power wires….my stripper doesn’t go that small on gauge and stripping them with pliers can easily lead to pulling the wires out of their internal connection….a lot of stress there unless you are careful on how you strip them. I suppose you can just use the pre-stripped points, but that leaves you with pretty long wires.
2. The wifi connection is wonky. Several times I had to power cycle, even though I was sure I was entering the password correctly. Blue tooth might be a better option in the future.
N430WP RV-10 - Purchased