Heater System Prototype Progress

It’s pretty exciting dreaming up a concept, turning it into a design, and then having a working prototype in your hands, all in the course of a few weeks.

I recently watched a video about the new Diamond DA50 RG, a 4-to-5 place retractable gear single engine airplane that’s due to hit the market in 2021. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but it will certainly cost more than the current USD $650,000 DA50 (fixed gear), a bit more than I can afford. I was a bit excited about something they featured in a product walk-around video: they talked about the DA50 RG’s new environment control system, with its controls located just forward of the throttle lever. I’m excited to have a comparable system (maybe even more advanced than this!) on my own aircraft.

Environmental control system on the new Diamond DA50 RG

Over the last two weeks, I’ve refined the heater system preliminary design. I made some geometry changes based on results from airflow simulations. I also ran some experiments with various materials and prototyping methods. And I started working on some of the control electronics which drive the blower motor, servos, and temp sensors. I have a full-size prototype, and it works quite well. The centrifugal-style fan I chose can move quite a lot of air.

Latest design for the “airbox” of my environmental control system
Full-size prototype, complete with radiator and the mechatronics that control air distribution
The heater core is visible looking up through the floor outlet
A prototype of the electronic control unit
Electronic fan speed controller, a commercial off-the-shelf component

My attention now turns to building the controller and user controls.


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