A few weeks back I posted about a potential new product designed to make USB a bit more reliable in high vibration environments by mechanically isolating the hub, cable, and plug / dongle. Well, it took a couple of iterations to get the spacing exactly right, but I now have a design that fits the FlightView mini-hub and FlightLink adapters exactly. (For smaller USB plugs, like the GPS, a couple of layers of electrical tape result in a snug fit.) By clamping both the hub and the adapters in place, the isolator prevents the kind of vibration-induced wear that can lead to failures.
The USB Motion Isolator is the first product we’ve done using a 3D printing process. I’ve used a 3D printer for prototypes for years, but the print quality was marginal and the types of plastic my printer could handle weren’t up to the heat of a GA cockpit. I recently upgraded to a much more capable printer (a Prusa i3 Mk3, for anyone who’s interested) and switched over to a high-temperature plastic (PETG). The printer does a beautiful job. The parts it produces are perhaps not quite as smooth as an injection molded part would be, but they’re certainly finished enough for a behind-the-panel part like the Motion Isolator. The new plastic is, well, fantastic. Its glass point (the temperature at which it begins to become soft) is 185° F (85° C), so even the hottest Texas summer afternoon shouldn’t pose a problem. Better still, it’s insanely strong. I tried testing one unit “to destruction” by placing it in a vice and attempting to snap it. I put all of my weight behind it and – nada. It had marks from the channel locks I was using but no cracks. Strong stuff.
You can order the USB Motion Isolator from our web store today. I suspect this is the first of a number of 3D printed products from Falken Avionics.