Pasturepilot

WX-900... Patch it or pitch it?

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Friends, 

Way over on the right side of my panel, there's an old BFG WX-900 strike finder. The backlighting is out - the Indiglo backlight on a $20 timex might be longer lasting. I'm on the fence whether I want to have it fixed, or try and gain a pound and a half of useful load back. 

Arguments for fixing it: An onboard, self-sustained weather source that is very relevant in the southeast where convective activity is King. Real-time reporting that keeps on going if my ADS-B link hiccups. 

Arguments against the fix: It's not a sure thing. Some percentage of fixes fail to work. If the repair works, it's still an old piece of instrumentation. I can, in theory, get the same data from Foreflight if I don't mind the lag. 

Best I can tell, there's only one guy who repairs WX-900s anymore: Keith Peshak, who advertises on Barnstormers. It's a $500 fix, plus shipping. 

Has anyone had one fixed? Happy with the decision? Lemme know. I've gotta make a decision.. but not in a great hurry. There are some advertised on flea-bay touted as operable... it'd be cheaper than the repair, but I figure that's just a ticking clock until the backlight goes on that one as well. 

 

Penny for y'all's thoughts. 

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+1 for having a way to display lightening in real time...

Even better if it can be displayed directly on your favorite nav screen... oriented as you make turns...

If the WX-900 can do all that... get it fixed, and connected...

If it doesn’t... see what’s on the shelf in Alan’s hangar...?

PP thoughts only...
 

Best regards,

-a-

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2 hours ago, Pasturepilot said:

Friends, 

Way over on the right side of my panel, there's an old BFG WX-900 strike finder. The backlighting is out - the Indiglo backlight on a $20 timex might be longer lasting. I'm on the fence whether I want to have it fixed, or try and gain a pound and a half of useful load back. 

Arguments for fixing it: An onboard, self-sustained weather source that is very relevant in the southeast where convective activity is King. Real-time reporting that keeps on going if my ADS-B link hiccups. 

Arguments against the fix: It's not a sure thing. Some percentage of fixes fail to work. If the repair works, it's still an old piece of instrumentation. I can, in theory, get the same data from Foreflight if I don't mind the lag. 

Best I can tell, there's only one guy who repairs WX-900s anymore: Keith Peshak, who advertises on Barnstormers. It's a $500 fix, plus shipping. 

Has anyone had one fixed? Happy with the decision? Lemme know. I've gotta make a decision.. but not in a great hurry. There are some advertised on flea-bay touted as operable... it'd be cheaper than the repair, but I figure that's just a ticking clock until the backlight goes on that one as well. 

 

Penny for y'all's thoughts. 

I would keep it. Give Don Valentine a call. https://www.stormscopes.com/contact-us.html

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I guess it depends on what the repair cost would run. But I’d hate to put much money into an old unit when I’d much rather have a WX-500. Of course it depends on what you have in the panel to display the WX-500 data. But real time spherics is very valuable IMO.


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I bought a backup WX10A about a year ago. Living in the south, real weather info to supplement ADSB is a winner. For instance, last week I had TShR in the area and ADSB was painting it over my destination. The 10A was painting it east of my location. Upon arrival, it was clear. Happens more often than I think it should. 
 

point being, I think the onboard strike finders are solid equipment worth fixing if onboard radar is not possible. 

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Repair.  About 5000 hours with a WX8 (that everyone shames), even with todays ADSB weather, I think the Stormscope is indispensable for cross country flying.  Too many times over the years I had controllers turn me toward stuff that lit up my scope, away from stuff that showed nothing on my scope or had no advice.  Now I have another Mooney with a WX8.  Recently, having some new radios installed, and a lot of old stuff coming out, the shop asked if I wanted the WX8 removed.  Nope, works better for what it was designed than what you're putting in.

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9 hours ago, ArtVandelay said:

The 10A was closed to 10lbs, I removed it. But I don’t fly IFR with imbedded TS.

Neither do I, nor should anyone for that matter. 

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11 hours ago, ArtVandelay said:

The 10A was closed to 10lbs, I removed it. But I don’t fly IFR with imbedded TS.

And having a Stormscope keeps you from doing that. Under the "right" conditions they "build up and fill in" very fast, sometimes before the convective sigmet. Flying in the summer in Texas  and probably a lot of other places I've found a Stormscope to be invaluable, sometimes a completely different picture than ADS-B and XM are painting.

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In 1984 we were getting vectors (such as it was at the time) around weather and flew into an embedded thunderstorm near San Angelo.  Shook us like rocks in a tin can.  Wife said we weren't doing that again.  Next week we bought a Stormscope.

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I’d fix it. Even if you don’t fly in the clouds with thunderstorms around, a StormScope really helps show where and when pop up thunderstorms happen.

This was a VFR flight back home. Nice to see where these storms were and if any convective activity was around them.

74b02afef39dcdb72b88ac1a8cb8de8e.jpgcfc33ea1b0530fac0415c9f0dc56c8af.png


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I had one with a bad display. I discussed it with Don Valentine and he said that it's repairability varied as a couple of different displays were used and he couldn't tell until he opened it up. I ended up buying a used one on eBay for $400. However, if the display is good (you should be able to read it in bright sunlight) and it's just the backlight, that may be a different issue.

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Thanks, y'all. Yeah, with a lot of light shining on the screen, you can see it working, so I'm pretty sure it's just the backlight. 

I like the idea of having some self-sufficient, realtime weather information. I'll reach out to Don Valentine and see what he says about getting it fixed. Granted, the WX-900 won't talk to other screens, as far as I know, but it's better than eyeballing a cloud and hoping for the best.

I do a lot of weather flying in the Airbus and having 200,000 of airplane around me, onboard radar, WIFI weather, and two sets of qualified eyeballs with experience is a little different than scooting around the southeast with 180 horsepower and an iPad. I'd like to get airborne for some Mooney IFR, but I've still got a few projects I want to do before I start doing real IFR. But we're getting there. 

Again, thanks for the input. 

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Spoke to Don Valentine yesterday. He says there are no parts for a fix, that it’s done. Dead. It was a low end model to begin with, and the right, legal, parts just don’t exist for the repair. 
 

Found a unit on eBay that’s got a money back guarantee if it does not work. Figured that’s worth a gamble. 

The takeaway: if you have a WX-900 that’s working, speak kindly to it and treat it with kid gloves. 

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I’ve never seen anyone buy one of these stormscopes, they always came with the plane. If you didn’t have one, would you buy one new?

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2 hours ago, ArtVandelay said:

I’ve never seen anyone buy one of these stormscopes, they always came with the plane. If you didn’t have one, would you buy one new?

If you fly for business and need to keep a schedule it is a very helpful tool. It looks like the only one you would buy new today is a WX-500 that connects to almost any screen. 10 minute old information is great until it is not. I think ADS-B weather is great to figure out your overall route followed by real time information from a stormscope to stay out of the dangerous stuff.

 I currently have a WX10, if it failed I would try to have it fixed if it can't be fixed then I would have a WX-500 connected to the MX20 I have. If most of your flying is light if any IFR and/or you have a lot of freedom of when you fly I think it is nothing more than dead weight.

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I’ve never seen anyone buy one of these stormscopes, they always came with the plane. If you didn’t have one, would you buy one new?

 

I’m one. Bought a WX-500. I flew for years behind a WX-8 which was in the plane when I bought her. As an earlier poster mentioned, the WX-8 works fine if you know how to interpret the quirks (radial spread, lack of heading sync, etc.).

 

The WX-500 is light years ahead of the older StormScope technologies. You can discern the difference between random strikes and cells. As well, you have a numerical indicator of strike rates which helps with the assessment of intensity. Add in the heading syncing, it takes the guess work out of where the storms are. StormScope in conjunction with FIS-B radar really helps show the difference between delayed convective activity and real time.

 

I think to answer your question, it comes down to how you fly. Like most summer time flyers, I try to fly early in the day not only to avoid T-Storms but also to stay out of the building cumulus clouds. But there are times, when you have to deal with T-Storms forming faster or unexpectedly. I remember 2 trips back from orionflt’s barbecues with storms forming. One time in the Grim Reaper’s Bo where we didn’t have a StormScope and relied on FIS-B radar and another year in my Mooney with the WX-500. The comfort level between those flights was quite a contrast.

 

Not to mention the stigma of my wife dealing with the shame of seeing me die in the Grim Reaper’s Bonanza or what my MooneySpace friends think of my poor decision skills — why would you fly in a Bonanza?!

 

 

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Least expensive fix is to replace it with an Insight Strikefinder. It's a superior unit, and they are well supported by Insight. You can generally find a good used system for under $2k.  

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On 5/27/2020 at 3:12 PM, philiplane said:

Least expensive fix is to replace it with an Insight Strikefinder. It's a superior unit, and they are well supported by Insight. You can generally find a good used system for under $2k.  

That’s what I ended up doing.  Immensely useful.  Flying home the other day - mid afternoon and three hours later than I wanted to be, of course, lots of little areas of red started firing up.  Out to the west 50 mi there was a little line and some lightning.  Ahead of me lots of cumulus building. On an IFR plan dodging and weaving but I wasn’t going to get up above the clouds to get a good view; therefore not the best view forward or up.  So continue to dodge and weave knowing that the areas of precipitation were not thunderstorms and doing some canyon flying.  I would not do that trip without a strikefinder. 
 

Conversely about two years ago prior to strikefinder also got a late start similar scenario.  Areas of scattered convection firing up but this time it was getting past sunset and I had another 30 min of flying time.  I scrubbed and stayed the night at RDU - I probably would have completed the flight if I could have 1) identified safe path and outs (strikefinder useful for that) and 2) maintained a visual with the TCU (strikefinder doesn’t help with that :-).  I wouldn’t / didn’t consider something like that without A strikefinder.  The point is the real time detection gives you options depending on the type of flying you do, time of year and geographic location. 

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Mine is pretty is dim. But besides the stormscope, which I no longer have much use for since I moved from New England to the Pacific NW, I like the system voltage display. I have used it for trouble shooting as well as information during flight. 

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On 5/27/2020 at 11:48 AM, Marauder said:

 

I’m one. Bought a WX-500. I flew for years behind a WX-8 which was in the plane when I bought her. As an earlier poster mentioned, the WX-8 works fine if you know how to interpret the quirks (radial spread, lack of heading sync, etc.).

 

The WX-500 is light years ahead of the older StormScope technologies. You can discern the difference between random strikes and cells. As well, you have a numerical indicator of strike rates which helps with the assessment of intensity. Add in the heading syncing, it takes the guess work out of where the storms are. StormScope in conjunction with FIS-B radar really helps show the difference between delayed convective activity and real time.

 

I think to answer your question, it comes down to how you fly. Like most summer time flyers, I try to fly early in the day not only to avoid T-Storms but also to stay out of the building cumulus clouds. But there are times, when you have to deal with T-Storms forming faster or unexpectedly. I remember 2 trips back from orionflt’s barbecues with storms forming. One time in the Grim Reaper’s Bo where we didn’t have a StormScope and relied on FIS-B radar and another year in my Mooney with the WX-500. The comfort level between those flights was quite a contrast.

 

Not to mention the stigma of my wife dealing with the shame of seeing me die in the Grim Reaper’s Bonanza or what my MooneySpace friends think of my poor decision skills — why would you fly in a Bonanza?! emoji6.png

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro

 

Is the lightning detection between a 1000 and a 500 any different as far as sensitivity or accuracy?  It's a $7k additional plus install for the Aspen display. I'd love to have it incorporated into a GPS screen, but it's a lot of cost when the 1000 in my plane is working fine.

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An update: the $100 eBay unit works beautifully. 
 

took the airport kid for a hop across Alabama today to try it out. It’s not the new Gee-whiz gadget, but it works(For now). I’m happy. 

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On 5/31/2020 at 3:10 PM, rbridges said:
Is the lightning detection between a 1000 and a 500 any different as far as sensitivity or accuracy?  It's a $7k additional plus install for the Aspen display. I'd love to have it incorporated into a GPS screen, but it's a lot of cost when the 1000 in my plane is working fine.

 


I think it depends on which WX-1000 you have. I think the WX-1000+ is the one with the heading sync feature and the E model allows you to superimpose your GPS flight plan on it.

The overall performance is roughly the same but it lacks the cell detection.

The biggest advantage to the 500 is the ability to interface it with remote displays like the Aspen and even the GTN series navigators. I went from a WX-8 to having a unit that shows up on my Aspens, the 650 and the Lynx 9000+. Man, has technology evolved.

4bbd905fdea2fa54b7b3607cafe9f4ea.jpg


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Edited by Marauder
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