FLYER March 2021

Page 60

Top Gear

The latest aviation kit, impartially tested and evaluated

ATPMS Tyre Pressure Monitor HHHHH

From €99 | Supplier www.aviation-tpms.de 02

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f you don’t have spats, particularly the close-fitting variety found on aircraft like Van’s Aircraft types, then I can already guess some readers will have started to roll their eyes at the idea of using some Bluetooth-enabled remote sensors to monitor their tyre pressures. When our Safety Editor Steve Ayres previewed these in last issue’s Safety Kit section, a highly polarised discussion soon began on the FLYER Forum with some claiming all they needed was the Mark One eyeball and a footpump. Well that’s true, but I was a little more curious than that, and figured they were worth taking a look at. Our test items turned up just as the most recent restrictions came along, so I’m afraid that’s prevented me from taking them flying, so my testing so far has been restricted to terra firma. Tyres and tubes last longer if correctly inflated and as good quality tyres and tubes aren’t cheap, keeping them topped up will help maximise that investment. A large majority of tyre problems arise from continued use at below optimum pressure. By the time a tyre looks soft at pre-flight, particularly one lurking under

60 | FLYER | March 2021

a wheel fairing, then it’s probably seen a good bit of use at below specified pressure. In the case of my RV-3, by the earliest time I can visually discern if a tyre might need some air, it measures around 20psi when I put the pump on. I usually run mine at around 35psi, so that’s a good amount down. German firm ATPMS doesn’t disguise the fact that it uses FOBO Bike 2 sensors for their aviation offering. Googling reveals the product is very popular with motorcyclists, and that in general they are regarded as robust and reliable. The current Bike 2 being the latest development of an earlier Bike 1 sensor set. Out of the box they feel decent quality. The sensor is 20mm in diameter and 16mm deep – they will send you a dummy unit to try if you’re unsure about your particular setup. A screw cap that allows access to change the battery (a CR-1632 button-style unit) is sealed with an O-ring which helps keep the electrical bits dry and dust-free. Once you’ve downloaded the app which runs on either Apple or Android, getting set up is easy. Well, it is if you have direct access to your wheels. My

01 Is ATPMS the answer to keeping an eye on tyre pressures? 02 Installation meant having to remove the wheel’s close-fitting wheel fairing (spat) 03 Sensor cap unit is sealed to resist dust and moisture, and is powered by a button-style battery

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RV-3 has the original Van’s single-piece wheel spats, and access to the tyre valve is difficult unless the spat is removed. I can add air to the tyres thanks to a removable grommet, but it still takes an extended socket and a valve extension before you’re near close enough to begin adding air with a pump. So I removed the spats. Eyeing the size of the sensor, I did wonder if it was going to easily fit on the valve stem without fouling the sides of the wheel, but there were no issues. With the app open and running, you replace your standard valve dust cap with one of the FOBO caps. Once it’s screwed on securely, you touch your phone to the sensor and the two devices pair via Bluetooth. Once you’ve fitted sensors to all your wheels, you select a profile (the best match to the RV-3 was a trailer… luckily you can add your own image so the humiliation was short lived… ) and set your minimum, regular and maximum tyre pressures. While I didn’t put my spats back on – they’re staying off for some pre-Permit renewal work, I did have a good look at the rotational path of the valve, to make sure when the spats are refitted, there was nothing it could catch on as it turns.