DynaVibe Blog

LOBO puts DynaVibe in Engine Test Kits

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bob Pastusek is vice-president and a board member of the Lancair Owners & Builders Organization – LOBO – and is their go-to maintenance guy.  A few years ago, the LOBO Board became concerned that people were not tuning up their airplanes properly; they were not following all the recommended engine and airplane manufacturer’s guidelines in doing their condition inspections.  “Experimental owners are not obliged to follow them,” said Pastusek.  “Nonetheless, like putting air in your tires or oil in your engine, some recommendations are more significant than others.  We came to the conclusion that some people were not doing some of the important ones, based on accidents and probable cause findings that indicated maintenance wasn’t as good on these airplanes as it could be.”

In December 2014, LOBO put together a kit of materials for testing and inspecting the engines, specifically Continental aircraft engines.  “This worked out really well for us,” Pastusek continued.  “So at the fall LOBO fly-in, we asked what people (members) thought about it, and the feedback expressed a desire to include some additional equipment in the kit. One of the principal requested pieces of equipment was a prop balancer.” 

Pastusek first learned about the DynaVibe propeller balancing system at Oshkosh four or five years ago.  He bought one for his local EAA chapter and has used it several times to help chapter members balance their props.  “Having personal experience with DynaVibe, knowing that it works and that it is a reasonably priced piece of gear that our average homebuilder could figure out how to use, we bought new DynaVibe systems to include in our three engine inspection and tune-up kits.

Pastusek recognizes the importance of keeping the prop in balance.  “It makes the airplane engine run smoother, with less wear-and-tear on the engine.  The aircraft is much more pleasant to fly.”  In general, Lancairs use factory-balanced, high-end adjustable pitch props.  “They come pretty well balanced; we generally don’t have an issue with props significantly out-of-balance.  However, there are a couple of things that homebuilders can do, particularly in mounting the spinners and things like that, that can cause them to be out of balance.  It’s a very easy thing to check and improve.  If you find the prop out of balance and fix it, it really makes the airplane run a lot smoother.  These are very large engines in relatively small and lightweight aircraft, so a prop imbalance will shake the airplane around pretty well.”

The LOBO engine test kit with the DynaVibe prop balancing system is expected to be available to members in April 2016.  “We think the DynaVibe is a relatively sophisticated but easy tool to use in the field,” Pastusek concluded.  “It works like a champ.”  

The affordable DynaVibe Classic propeller balancing system is just $1,495 shop for it the DynaVibe online store.  If you'd like to know more about DynaVibe, please contact us at 650.800.3092, sales@rpxtech.com, or simply enter your email address in the form below and we'll contact you!

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Smooth Sailing at Chris Air with DynaVibe

Monday, February 22, 2016

David Trotter is Director of Maintenance at Chris Air, an agricultural operator that flies out of Lake Village Municipal Airport (M32) in Lake Village, Arkansas.  David recently purchased a DynaVibe Classic, and after using it contacted us to share his experience using the system. 

David balanced three of his aircraft, getting the prop imbalance balance on one of them down to .01 Inches Per Second in four run-ups.  David shared, “We would normally be flying the airplanes about 40 miles to another shop for prop balancing.  By my estimation we have already paid for the unit!”

A Chris Air Thrush whose prop was balanced by DynaVibe

Learn how you can get these same benefits from DynaVibe by calling us at 650.800.3092, sending email to sales@rpxtech.com or by providing us with your email address using the form below.  Visit our online store to shop for your own DynaVibe!


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Propeller Vibration Levels Guide

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Many owners and operators ask about what acceptable levels are for propeller vibration and what to do about it.  DynaVibe has prepared the following chart as a guide to understanding prop vibration and when balancing is recommended based on vibration levels:

Aircraft propeller vibration guidelines  

This chart is for information purposes only, and is not intended to replace, supersede or contradict any information in FAA Advisory Circular 20-37E which describes maintenance procedures for owners, operators and FAA certified maintenance personnel for aircraft propellers.  AC 20-37E is a great resource for field propeller maintenance, and it includes a very useful checklist for propeller annual inspection.

Dynamic propeller balancing is easily accomplished using the DynaVibe Classic, for simple balancing, or the DynaVibe GX2 to balance and complete vibration surveys.  The DynaVibe team is always happy to discuss balancing, vibration analysis and resolution, so please contact us if you have questions.  You can reach us by telephone at 469.708.8779, by email at sales@rpxtech.com or simply complete the form below and we'll contact you.  To get pricing or buy a DynaVibe system, visit our online store.

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The Frog in the Kettle: A Prop Balancing Metaphor

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The DynaVibe team can’t help but think of the frog in the kettle as a metaphor for prop balancing.  If you’re not familiar with this anecdote, it tells how a frog reacts to two different situations.  If placed in boiling water, it immediately perceives the danger and jumps out.  But if placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it doesn’t react to the gradual change in its environment and is ultimately boiled to death.  This story is a great metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to recognize and respond to gradual change.

Photo © 2010 J. Ronald Lee.

What brought this metaphor to mind was an article recently posted by Paul Dye, editor-in-chief of Kitplanes Magazine.  Paul wrote about his experience using DynaVibe to balance the prop on his RV-3, and he stated:  “It’s the old (probably apocryphal) problem of boiling the frog – if you gradually turn up the heat, it doesn’t know that the temperature is rising. With a slight degradation over time, we don’t realize we are losing balance. Then we reset, and all the smooth magic is back!

Paul nails it.  You just get used to the vibration from imbalance.  It often increases slowly, so a gradual change in vibration isn't noticed.  Many pilots and owners just assume that a certain amount of vibration “comes with the territory.”  It’s the price you pay for combustion engine-powered flight.   But it is wrong.  We get a steady stream of feedback from DynaVibe users and customers of shops that use DynaVibe to provide balancing services.  The feedback follows one of two tracks:

A. Owner whose mechanic or friend talks him into balancing the prop:

  • Owner before: “You can balance the prop if you want, but I don’t have a vibration problem.”
  • Owner after:  “Wow, I can’t believe how smooth it is!

B. Owner who is experiencing a vibration and wants to fix it:

  • Owner before: “The vibration is so bad that it is…. (followed by listing one or more symptoms of the vibration, such as avionics failures, a rough RPM range, fatigue cracks, etc.)
  • Owner after:  “Wow, I can’t believe how smooth it is!

We could go on, but we prefer to let the beneficiaries of prop balancing do the talking for us:

From a FlightLevel Aviation customer:  “While our Bonanza was in for its annual inspection late last year, FL approached us with an option to have the prop balanced. The A36 has the big IO-550, and we felt it ran fairly smooth coupled to a 3 x blade prop. For the relatively small additional price, we opted to try it out anyway. The first time advancing the throttle for take-off after the balancing was complete, I had to look a few times at the MP and Tach gauges to insure the engine was making full power! It ran noticeably smoother through all phases of flight, and the only disappointment was that we didn't do it sooner…."

From a KSFB Aircraft Maintenance Center customer:  “Can’t believe the results!  First run showed it was a long way from acceptable; 0.6 IPS.  The second run we homed in on a better solution; 0.19 IPS.  3rd run was spot on; 0.01 IPS. Compare that with the scale on the LHS [DynaVibe balancing report] which calls 0.05 ‘Excellent’.  The ‘feel’ of the plane, just sitting on the ground in the driver’s seat was remarkably different, too.

From Dennis Barker, President of Reynolds Aviation:  “The pilots were thrilled with how the yoke feels after we balance an airplane. They noticed a difference immediately."

There’s more, and you can read other testimonials on our website.  When it comes to dynamic propeller balancing, perhaps Mark Langford said it best to those who haven’t yet done this procedure on their airplane:  “You guys just don't know what you're missing...

Find out what you’re missing by contacting the DynaVibe team to learn more.  Enter your email address in the form below and we’ll respond to you.  Visit the online store to buy your own DynaVibe unit, email us with your questions at sales@rpxtech.com or just call us if you have questions about the process:  469.708.8779.

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Upgrade your DynaVibe Classic to a GX2!

Monday, December 07, 2015

If you're a DynaVibe Classic owner, RPX Technologies has a limited-time upgrade offer that can put a new DynaVibe GX2 in your hands.  The GX2 supports two accelerometers for simultaneous data acquisition, providing substantially more diagnostic capabilities than the Classic.  The GX2 is a prop balancer and vibration analyzer, and it is the technology platform into which RPX is building product enhancements. 

Here’s the short list of what you get when you upgrade from a Classic to a GX2:

ü  Automated prop balancing solutions. The Autobalance feature of the GX2 saves time, letting you balance in fewer runs, with increased accuracy and to lower vibration levels. 

ü  Vibration spectrum analysis.  When vibrations are not related to prop imbalance, the advanced diagnostic capabilities of the GX2 let you troubleshoot and pinpoint other, complex vibration sources.

ü  Full color report generation.  Save the reports the GX2 generates for record keeping or to give to customers, a very useful feature for mechanics, shops, repair stations and service centers.  These reports show propeller balance and vibration analysis details as well as customer and aircraft information.

Here is how to upgrade your Classic to a GX2:

1. Visit the RPX Technologies online store and purchase the Classic to GX2 upgrade (scroll to the bottom of the store page to see the offer). The cost is $2,995.  You’ll receive a $1,000 trade-in credit for your Classic. We’ll reuse your photo tachometer, accelerometer, and case, then provide you with a new GX2 system and 2nd accelerometer.

2. After you’ve purchased your GX2 upgrade in the online store, you’ll be contacted by DynaVibe and provided with a Return Authorization Number and shipping instructions.

3. Ship your entire DynaVibe Classic kit back to RPX Technologies per instructions. Once we receive it, we can usually turn your upgrade order around the same day.

All DynaVibe GX2 systems come with NIST certification, so you’ll have a new NIST certificate as well!

If you have any questions about upgrading your DynaVibe Classic to a DynaVibe GX2, just enter your email in the form below, or call us:  469.708.8779.


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DynaVibe Keeps Reynolds Aviation Fleet Flying Smoothly

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Reynolds Aviation provides aerial patrols for pipelines, power lines or any asset that has federal, state, or local reporting requirements.  When on patrol, Reynolds’ highly trained pilots provide security, take aerial photos, respond to emergencies and look for encroachments, leaks, pipeline threats, erosions and construction on right of way assets.   Reynolds uses DynaVibe to help keep its fleet of Cessna 172s flying smoothly while lowering costs of maintenance and operation.

Dennis Barker, president of Reynolds Aviation, has experience with racing engines and therefore knows what damage vibrations can do to an airplane’s engine, its bearings and instruments:  “Vibration can destroy those instruments, so balance is huge!” 

Barker’s partner had previously used a helicopter balancing solution, giving him some frame of reference on the cost of a prop balancer.  When the Aero Performance representative that serves Reynolds Aviation came calling to discuss DynaVibe, Barker expected a pitch for a much more expensive solution costing in the neighborhood of $10,000.  Instead, he learned that he could purchase a DynaVibe Classic and own a dynamic propeller balancing system for less than $2,000, and did so.

Some of the airplanes in the Reynolds fleet were showing signs of fatigue caused by vibration: cracked baffling, new lights that would burn out or instruments that would fail.  Barker knew that eliminating propeller imbalance would stop the damaging vibrations.  “Some of the engines vibrated so badly that we couldn’t even read ‘Lycoming’ that was stamped on the engine.   Now they’re really smooth.“

The prop imbalance on one airplane measured close to 1 Inches Per Second (IPS).  Using DynaVibe, the Reynolds maintenance team was able to balance all the airplanes in the fleet to between .01 and .07 IPS.   The Reynolds pilots often fly long days, spending hours in the air, so eliminating vibration from propeller imbalance not only reduces fatigue on the airplane, but on the pilots as well.  “The pilots were thrilled with how the yoke feels after we balance an airplane,” Barker said.  “They noticed a difference immediately.” 

Barker is confident that using DynaVibe to keep the fleet in balance will also pay dividends in terms of maintenance and operational costs.  “The big enemy of operations like ours is what it costs to keep planes in the air.  Long term, we don’t fully know what the maintenance benefits are, but even cutting these costs by just 10 percent would pay for the DynaVibe system three times over.”

An unexpected bonus from using DynaVibe is the information provided by the photo tachometer, making it possible to determine how accurate the airplane tachometer is.  “An incorrect tach reading can cause us to fly a plane at a cruise RPM that’s actually too high, which can damage the engine,” Barker concludes.  “DynaVibe also tells us if the tach is off.  It’s a phenomenal product.”

To learn about using DynaVibe to dynamically balance propellers and rotors, enter your email address below, visit the RPX Technologies website, or call:  469.708.8779.

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Selecting the Right DynaVibe System

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Perhaps you’ve had enough of the vibration that makes flying uncomfortable, or is damaging your airframe, avionics or engine.  Or maybe you want better performance, recapturing horsepower lost to vibration.  Perhaps a friend who has dynamically balanced his or her prop recommended that you do the same.  Whatever the reason, you’re ready to make an investment in a prop balancer, and a Google search has led you here.  Which DynaVibe system is right for you?

RPX Technologies currently offers three models of its DynaVibe propeller balancing system.  Here’s what you need to know about each one in order to choose the one that best addresses your needs.

DynaVibe GX2

The DynaVibe GX2 is the state-of-the-art, flagship solution in the RPX Technologies product line.  This unit comes with two accelerometers, allowing users to dynamically balance propellers while also providing full-spectrum vibration analysis capability.  When prop balancing, the DynaVibe GX2 automatically calculates a recommended weight solution for achieving balance, unlike the DynaVibe Classic.  This feature helps users complete the balancing process faster than is typically possible with the DynaVibe Classic, sometimes in as few as two run-ups. For mechanics, shops, repair stations and service centers where time equals money, this more efficient balancing process is highly desirable.

A more advanced feature of the DynaVibe GX2 is its vibration analysis capability.  When troubleshooting more complex vibrations, those caused by something other than a propeller assembly imbalance, spectral analysis is essential.  It allows users to pinpoint the source, distinguishing between vibrations caused by a combustion issues (e.g. weak cylinder), prop wash induced buffeting, alternator imbalance, and many other sources of vibration.  Instead of wasting time and money on trial-and-error maintenance procedures, the GX2 identifies the vibration source.  The GX2 has a report generation feature to simplify printing or sharing its vibration analysis data.

DynaVibe Classic

The DynaVibe Classic is the original prop balancing system offered by RPX Technologies.  If balancing a propeller or other rotating machinery is the only thing you need to do, the Classic model does an excellent job at the most affordable price.  When it comes to the dynamic balancing process, the main difference between the models is that the Classic does not automatically calculate a weight solution.  The implication is that the user may need a few more run-ups to complete the balancing process.  The DynaVibe Classic does not offer full-spectrum vibration analysis.

DynaVibe Roto

DynaVibe Roto is a version of the DynaVibe Classic with some features specifically for rotorcraft.  This unit comes with two accelerometers, one for lateral vibration and one for vertical vibration.  It also includes an integrated remote control “push-to-talk” switch that can be mounted on the stick for controlling the DynaVibe unit.  The DynaVibe Roto will also dynamically balance propellers on fixed-wing aircraft.

Summary

This table provides a quick reference to help select the right DynaVibe system to meet your needs:

If you would like to learn more about selecting the best DynaVibe model for your needs, simply enter your email address in the form below, email us with your question at sales@rpxtech.com or call: 479.708.8779.

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DynaVibe Minimizes Equipment Wear-and-Tear for Alaska DOT

Thursday, October 15, 2015

DynaVibe has a long association with aviation as an affordable system for dynamically balancing propellers.  The principles of balancing, however, apply not just to propellers, but any device that spins.  The Alaska Department of Transportation is using a DynaVibe Classic system to keep brush cutting and snow removal equipment operating at peak efficiency. 

The idea to use DynaVibe came from an employee in one of the shops who was an A&P mechanic and had experience using the system to balance propellers and rotors.  Aware of DynaVibe’s ability to achieve precision when balancing, he started using the system to balance a brush cutter that had a rotating head.  When Lon Needles, shop foreman of the Transportation Department's State Equipment Fleet, heard about this, he asked this employee to come and demonstrate how it is done.

“This equipment will hit rocks and things and get out of balance, and it will shake the guys out of the cab,” said Needles.  The balancing demonstration was enough to convince him that they too needed a DynaVibe to balance the brush cutters in their shop.  Once the DynaVibe was in their possession, Needles began to wonder what other equipment they could balance with it.

“We have our snow blowers here,” continued Needles.  “Valdez averages 300 inches of snow a year; Thompson Pass, just up the road a little bit, gets 700 inches per year, so we use the heck out of our snow blowers.  If they hit a rock or something, it can mess them up, so we balance the spinning rotor in there with DynaVibe too.”  

The impellers in these machines are heavy, perhaps weighing as much as a ton.  “When they get out of whack, I’ve seen them sit there and bounce the whole head off the ground.”  Needles shares an experience about a brush cutter that was so out of balance that “it would literally shake the coffee out of the operator’s coffee cup.”  After balancing this equipment, “you could barely see a ripple with it running wide open.” 

The value of keeping these machines in balance is less wear-and-tear – for both the machine and the operators.  “When a machine is not sitting there vibrating, it’s smooth; it takes the fatigue away from the operator, and while I can’t prove it, I think it takes the metal fatigue away from the machine.  Nuts and bolts aren’t trying to come apart.  It’s noticeable.” 

By spending the time to balance, Needles and his team are able to eliminate virtually all the vibration from the spinning components of their machinery.   The snow blowers are balanced about once a year; the brush cutters about twice per year or as needed.  It takes about an hour to balance a machine. “Anything that spins, we seem to be able to balance it,” Needles concludes.  

For a free, no-obligation consult with us about your balancing application, enter your email address below.

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Infographic: Why Balance?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Here at RPX Technologies, we believe that planes shouldn't shake themselves apart, and therefore propeller balancing should be easy.  Read the "Why Balance Your Prop?" webpage for a complete discussion of reasons to balance your prop.  This infographic summarizes why it is so important, and how simple it is to dynamically balance your prop with Dynavibe:

Infographic - reasons for dynamically balancing airplane propellers

The DynaVibe Classic is the most affordable dynamic balancing solution on the market.  For dynamic prop balancing and vibration survey capability, use the DynaVibe GX2.  Buy the right DynaVibe for your needs by visiting our online store.  If you have any questions, please call us at 469.708.8779 or simply enter your email address in the form below.

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Questions? Contact us at sales@rpxtech.com