Sunday, August 16, 2009

Firing up the Vertical Power 50

The more I work with the Vertical Power system, the more I love it. I mean, think about it: There are no circuit breakers to wire, no fuses, no buss to wire, no holes to drill in the panel (except for the control unit).

Basically, you take a wire from whatever device you want to power, stick it into the correct pin on the Vertical Power system, then fire up the system and set the circuit breaker and amp value, and assign it to a switch on your panel. Could it be simpler?

Of course, my newfound perfectionism (which, for the record, rarely yields perfection itself) bit me. I didn't like the original power cable from the master to the Vertical Power unit. The terminal connectors I got from Van's had a hard plastic and I didn't like crimping them with the B&C Connectors' bang-the-crap-out-of_it crimping tool.

So I ordered new terminals and heat shrink and made the cable over. Can you tell the new from the old?

I'll carry the old cable with me as a space in case something happens sometime.

Then I hooked one end to the VP-50...

... and the other end to the ANL on the firewall. Yes, I know this is not wired properly at this point, I just wanted to tap into the power.

The other reason I wanted to make a longer power cable is to run it -- via Adel clamps -- down the engine mount tubing.

Then, I reconnected the ground cable from the battery, climbed into the cabin, flipped the master switch on and...ahhh,.....

How sweet is that? Then I flipped to the setup menu because at this point the VP-50 doesn't recognize anything and isn't passing power.

The VP-50 monitors your electrical system constantly. No need for a bunch of annunciator lights on the panel. In the shot above, it's telling me it's got 12.3 volts form the battery (normally it would be about 13.4 but all I do is drain the battery since it's not connected to a running alternator), and .3 amps and that the system status is OK. If it wasn't OK, the red light would light up and the screen would tell you exactly what's wrong. How can you not love this?

The first device I configured was the flap switch. I set it to always be on (it's not slaved to a switch on the VP-50 unit because the flaps have an up and down switch on the panel. Set the amps to 10 and the circuit breaker to 10 (I have to change this to 6), hit "save" and the flap switch worked!

Then I did the same with the Dynon D-100 electronic flight information system (EFIS). This time I assigned it to switch two. What I can do here is use that as an avionics master switch if I wish. I can also use put all the non-essential avionics on that switch and then, should I have an alternator failure, I can shed load by hitting one switch. In the case of the Dynon, it has an internal battery backup, so I would disconnect it from drawing battery power in the event of an alternator failure.

The goal in this system is to have an electrical system in the plane such that any alternator failure will not be a major issue. People who are using circuit breakers and fuses are creating emergency busses in which a flip of a switch brings the backup system online. I could do something like that, but it would defeat the purpose of the VP-50 system in the first place.

For me, the goal is to have backups (the internal battery on the Dynon, the battery on the Garmin 296, a handheld radio) on the avionics, and I'll also have a switch for the electronic ignition and also the fuel boost pump so -- if something happens to the VP-50 system, I can flip a switch and bring power to those items directly from the battery.

This is a major step for the construction project. I suppose the next big step is the first start of the engine. That's at least a year -- and several thousand dollars -- away.


  1. Bob-

    Looks like a productive weekend!


  2. *applause*

    Bob, this started cool and just keeps on getting better.