Ricky_231

M20K is finally home! - first impressions after a 1200nm flight + Radio is a little iffy - looking for opinions/advice

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After 5 weeks in the shop getting a new transponder + flight stream, and fixing the attitude gyro (autopilot was pulling a 737 MAX on us when I test flew the plan), yesterday I finally flew my "new" 1979 M20K 231 from Austin TX to Leesburg VA. Below is a little summary with first impressions - if you're in a hurry, please just read the final bit, about the radio issue (thanks!)

The good:

- plane is a dream to fly. stable, easy to control, FAST! (I mean, we were promised 30 knot tail winds, never got more than 10, but still cruised at a good 180-190 knots all the way here, at 12 GPH)

- flight stream is the bomb! two IFR flight plans, with SIDs, victor airways, the works, and all instantly programmed on my 430W at the touch of a button

- speed brakes - you need them and they deliver

- FBO at KGTR has free hot dogs, popcorn and ice cream sandwiches - and OK fuel prices ($4.98 full service - but compared to Leesburg at $6.50...)

The "hmm I'm going to have to have a look at that":

- I think I bought the wrong oxygen system connectors. They look right (scott type with the pins on the side, but they're NOT green) but I think they might be a bit too short. I read somewhere that there are connectors that look very similar but don't work the same. I'll have someone look at it. For now, I'll fly below 12000ft - not a big deal as my wife is not a fan of cannulas anyway :-)

- Comm 2 is inop - won't receive or transmit. But I knew that coming in - so I'll get it fixed eventually. Even for longer flights, ATC doesn't seem to mind the "I need to get off your frequency to get the ATIS, will check back in with you in a minute" requests. Flying around the DC area might be a little harder because the airspace is SO busy, but again, something I need to look into, but not critical IMHO

- After years of being hangared, this gal is now sitting on the ramp at JYO - I need to buy a cover and figure out what additional care I need to dispense to keep her in tip top shape

Now for the BAD:

- Comm 1 is very weak when transmitting. OK receiving (not great) but we had real trouble talking to Houston and Atlanta center on our way here. We'd hear them, they'd not hear us. Now the facts:

  • comm 1 is a Garmin GNS430W
  • when I test flew it, comm 1 seemed to work fine. But I was only talking to a few towers, and other planes around the pattern
  • on our way from TX to VA, it works fine when talking to Approach and Tower, but my guess that it's because we're physically closer to the station
  • it also seemed to work better at lower altitudes (I know, doesn't make much sense), but I believe that might be just because whenever we were lower, we're also closer to the station (on departure and approach)
  • other planes would hear us fine (a couple offered to relay), but  center would go for long stretches of time not getting us (we'd hear them fine) 
  • I recently had a new GTX345 installed, and also asked an avionics guy to look at Comm 2, a BK KY197 (see above) - what that means is there's been a LOT of fiddling with wires, radios and antennas in the past few weeks
  • I had a cigarette lighter USB charger (from Sportys I think) plugged in charging 2 Ipads for most of the flight - HOWEVER, the first 30 min leg of the flight was flown without anything plugged in and it was still iffy

I'm going to try and take it to an avionics shop in LNS or HEF (whoever can fit me in for a quick look at it) this weekend - but would love to hear from the MS brain trust if you have any ideas/advice/shared experiences.

That's all for now - pretty long post, but it was a pretty long trip!

R

 

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check the antenna's and the antenna ground, most weak radio problems are there.

Brian

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Ricky, congrats on the new bird!

IMHO, you'll need to deal with the #2 comm asap. You're operating in very busy airspace and having a backup comm is almost essential, particularly for IFR. You'll be persona non grata to ATC in and around that Bravo is they have trouble communicating with just one of the targets they're working.

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No advice to give, just saying "congratulations".  Do you have an intercooler or better wastegate?  I'm jealous of your speeds...

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6 hours ago, tmo said:

No advice to give, just saying "congratulations".  Do you have an intercooler or better wastegate?  I'm jealous of your speeds...

both :-)

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6 hours ago, Bob_Belville said:

Ricky, congrats on the new bird!

IMHO, you'll need to deal with the #2 comm asap. You're operating in very busy airspace and having a backup comm is almost essential, particularly for IFR. You'll be persona non grata to ATC in and around that Bravo is they have trouble communicating with just one of the targets they're working.

yeah deep down I know that - just still in the denial phase

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Congratulations!  if your #2 is a common radio, see if you can find a friend with a working unit and swap it in, that way you'll know whether to send it out, or to check the wiring.  Seeing as you're having comm issues on #1 as well, it sounds like you may have antenna or other antenna wiring issues.  

Just make sure you're managing the engine heat effectively- keep the CHT's below 380; hopefully you have an engine monitor.  If not, it's pretty much required in the 231 as the factory gauges are single point and terrible for accuracy after all these years.  

You've bought one of the best values in GA with the 231, just keep it cool and your cylinders will love you.  

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10 minutes ago, 81X said:

Congratulations!  if your #2 is a common radio, see if you can find a friend with a working unit and swap it in, that way you'll know whether to send it out, or to check the wiring.  Seeing as you're having comm issues on #1 as well, it sounds like you may have antenna or other antenna wiring issues.  

Just make sure you're managing the engine heat effectively- keep the CHT's below 380; hopefully you have an engine monitor.  If not, it's pretty much required in the 231 as the factory gauges are single point and terrible for accuracy after all these years.  

You've bought one of the best values in GA with the 231, just keep it cool and your cylinders will love you.  

CHT well below 380 - yes I have an engine monitor. I made an appointment at a local avionics shop - let's see if they can find out what's going on. Com 2 is a common king radio.

I'm going to fly it around a bit this weekend and see if how it behaves - i got rid of the USB charger and want to test it in known conditions.

 

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Consider...
1) Get one of those fancy batteries that can charge two iPads for days... that will separate out all the noisy charging sounds...
2) Get one of those fancy dual USB charger things mounted in the panel... some come with a clock included...  :)

3) +1 on chasing antenna connections and grounds...

4) Find the thread for all the various portable radios people like... great for picking up weather, clearances and other things...

5) Need a used radio upgrade? Find Alan...

6) There used to be two really good cover makers for a Mooney...  The East coast guy graciously retired... Find Bruce out on the west coast... lots of rave reviews....

Congrats on getting your new 2U bird home...

Best regards,

-a-

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2 hours ago, carusoam said:

Consider...
1) Get one of those fancy batteries that can charge two iPads for days... that will separate out all the noisy charging sounds...
2) Get one of those fancy dual USB charger things mounted in the panel... some come with a clock included...  :)

3) +1 on chasing antenna connections and grounds...

4) Find the thread for all the various portable radios people like... great for picking up weather, clearances and other things...

5) Need a used radio upgrade? Find Alan...

6) There used to be two really good cover makers for a Mooney...  The East coast guy graciously retired... Find Bruce out on the west coast... lots of rave reviews....

Congrats on getting your new 2U bird home...

Best regards,

-a-

1) I have decent one that I usually use but it was a long flight and 2 iPads to charge - we thought it was more convenient just to plug them in since we had the contraption. Maybe a bad idea after all

2) so expensive! if it comes to that, I'll stick to the battery pack :-)

3) will do - tomorrow is going to be super gusty, so I might just go to the airport and start looking for loose stuff connected to the radio

4) I have a Yaesu 550 (?) - works great on the ground - we actually tried to get approach/center with it when we were having trouble transmitting but no joy

5) Do you have contact info for Alan? Or a last name? PM me please!

6) I found a place, Mac's airplane covers (https://airplane-covers.com/) that apparently uses the same materials as Bruce's but for about half the price ($270 for a M20K). I think I'll give them a shot

Thanks!!!

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Some people have connected their portable radio to an external antenna...

Keep in mind that can cause additional challenges for existing radios...

For @Alan Fox clicking on the blue box will usually find his contact info...

He has a thread of stuff he has in inventory...

His inventory must change at a high rate... so it may be better to ask...

Best regards,

-a-

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Antennas and antenna grounds and old coax cables, and all the connectors connecting them, can be problematic when they age.   Since your #2 comm is inop, an easy thing to try might be to swap the antennas/cables between the two units and see if that helps.   It won't help if the #2 antenna and cables are janky, too, but it's still something that might be easy to try.

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+1 on reading up on the latest antenna cable standards... RGXX... 

I think Marauder May have posted some detail a while back regarding a project of his...

Best regards,

-a-

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The KY197 is a good but 40+ year old radio.  They are widely available on the used market for a few hundred dollars so paying to repair yours is most likely uneconomical.  A quick bench test by an Avionics tech will confirm if it is dead.  

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11 hours ago, carusoam said:

 

 

9 hours ago, Ricky_231 said:

 

6) I found a place, Mac's airplane covers (https://airplane-covers.com/) that apparently uses the same materials as Bruce's but for about half the price ($270 for a M20K). I think I'll give them a shot

Thanks!!!

Let me know what you think of this one.  Mine is getting long in the tooth so I'm looking to replace it in the next few months.

 

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46 minutes ago, jwilcoxon78 said:

 

Let me know what you think of this one.  Mine is getting long in the tooth so I'm looking to replace it in the next few months.

 

Will do - they say 8-10 business days to deliver. I'll post pictures once I have it on the plane.

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5 hours ago, Jerry 5TJ said:

The KY197 is a good but 40+ year old radio.  They are widely available on the used market for a few hundred dollars so paying to repair yours is most likely uneconomical.  A quick bench test by an Avionics tech will confirm if it is dead.  

Really? Where? I looked around and haven't seen any for less than $1000. Most in the $1200-$1500 range. I'm going to check with caruso's contact, Alan, and see what he has in stock. 

 

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Pull the antenna clean the interface between the plane and antenna.   Redo connectors.    Replace coax with RG400.

For the number 2 Do above.    Also get an allen wrench and pull it out and reseat it several times in the tray.

 

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1 minute ago, Yetti said:

Pull the antenna clean the interface between the plane and antenna.   Redo connectors.    Replace coax with RG400.

For the number 2 Do above.    Also get an allen wrench and pull it out and reseat it several times in the tray.

 

Yeah - I managed to squeeze my big head under the panel today and checked the coax cables to see if anything was loose - seemed OK, but unplugged and plugged in again. I found the rear antenna (that one I think I might be able to take out) but have no idea how to reach the front one - do I pull the headliner? 

To be honest, I think I need professional help to do all this. First time owning an airplane - I don't want to risk pulling the wrong thing and grounding the plane or breaking something.  Or at least find out who the owns the other 3 Mooneys on the ramp and maybe they can help. 

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11 minutes ago, Ricky_231 said:

Yeah - I managed to squeeze my big head under the panel today and checked the coax cables to see if anything was loose - seemed OK, but unplugged and plugged in again. I found the rear antenna (that one I think I might be able to take out) but have no idea how to reach the front one - do I pull the headliner? 

To be honest, I think I need professional help to do all this. First time owning an airplane - I don't want to risk pulling the wrong thing and grounding the plane or breaking something.  Or at least find out who the owns the other 3 Mooneys on the ramp and maybe they can help. 

Yes on the professionals.   I have done 1000s of antennas.    I put myself through college doing two way radio work.   The front antenna is probably in the fresh air plenum so that will be fun to get to.     If you want to figure it out from the panel side you will need a SWR meter.   Bad Antenna Bad coax will show up on it.    We could usually look at the truck and the antenna and tell what it needed.

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First time ownership... 

Expect to break many things while learning...

So when it comes to important things... build a great relationship with your mechanic...

This way when a part falls apart in your hands you have somebody there to help you with the pieces...

Be prepared to laugh...

You will be holding a few parts in your hand that you didn’t expect to be that way... it just happens...

You won’t even remember who told you...  :)

PP thoughts only, not a mechanic...

Best regards,

-a-

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Yes on the professionals.   I have done 1000s of antennas.    I put myself through college doing two way radio work.   The front antenna is probably in the fresh air plenum so that will be fun to get to.     If you want to figure it out from the panel side you will need a SWR meter.   Bad Antenna Bad coax will show up on it.    We could usually look at the truck and the antenna and tell what it needed.


It is indeed in the fresh air plenum. I replaced my coax for all the antennas on the plane. The front antenna’s cable was held onto the roll bar with metal fasteners that deformed and had cut into the old cable a fair amount.

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Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro

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42 minutes ago, Marauder said:

 


It is indeed in the fresh air plenum. I replaced my coax for all the antennas on the plane. The front antenna’s cable was held onto the roll bar with metal fasteners that deformed and had cut into the old cable a fair amount.

7a13b75949fe28accb08358c3486ab82.jpgfb73d55e3456edc7a9d89eb1bda5ca1b.jpgc761be8dc2af93511ea945ac0d133d4e.jpg


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro

yikes - yesterday the radio seemed to be working better (not perfect) after all my jiggling of the coax plugs. I'm still taking it to the shop and having everything checked, refastened, maybe get new cables. Other than that plane is behaving very well - so I'm happy!

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