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Airport Weather Map

Eye-catching display keeps you in airplane mode

Always on the lookout for something to amp up the aviation décor in your home or office?
Photography by David Tulis
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An LED aviation map points out weather, winds, and conditions in Frederick, Maryland, July 7, 2023. Photo by David Tulis.

Nothing says “I’d rather be flying” like a custom weather map. You’ve likely seen METAR displays that light up at various airports according to whether the weather is VFR (green), marginal (blue), IFR (red), or low IFR (magenta). The Airport Weather Map takes that concept and improves upon it, delivering a product that features a diagram overlay of your home airport plus any aeronautical chart segment you choose. The chart will display up to 25 METARs in LED lights. You can add more METARs at an additional charge of $5 per light.

The map has a 3D printed windsock that moves with the direction of winds at your home airport, and yes it does change directions as the reports change. A digital display gives you the weather for the airport depicted on your map. A strip of LED lights on the side shows the wind speed, with lights corresponding to gust speed glowing dim to bright. The map can be customized with a company logo or other art.

Tom Smith, a U.S. Air Force veteran and pilot, worked with business partner Brian Ast to design and engineer the map. Smith’s daughter, Lizzy Smith, helped with the design and aesthetics of the map, as well as social media marketing. Lizzy Smith is a college student who is learning to fly in a Part 61 program with the goal of flying for the U.S. Air Force. In addition to her father, her brother is a KC–46 pilot with the U.S. Air National Guard. Sales of the maps help to fund Lizzy Smith’s flight training.

The price includes the hardware required to connect to the internet and display METAR information; your Wi-Fi connection supplies the data. Shipping is free in the continental United States, and each map comes with a lifetime guarantee. Custom maps start at $650. A selection of airports is available in ready-to-display maps, offered at $575.

[email protected]

Photography by David Tulis
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Photography by David Tulis

Cloud 9 action camera strut mount

Backcountry-proven design cradles camera, babies your strut

By David Tulis

Cloudbase Engineering’s line of adaptable, strut-based mounts give pilots a lightweight, robust option that can be swapped from one aircraft to another to document your next aviation adventure.

I stumbled across the patented camera mount while planning a springtime Rocky Mountain crossing in my Piper Tri-Pacer. A posting in the forum with several positive comments led me to pilot and aviation enthusiast Marc Webster’s Cloud 9 camera mounts.

The sailplane, hang glider, and private pilot with an eye for adventure designed and fabricated an easily stowable, contoured aluminum camera mount embedded with a 360-degree swivel ball head and rubber-bushing shoulders that securely hugs struts without damaging them and provides a solid platform for documenting aviation adventures.

A pair of hook-and-loop straps attached to the top and bottom cradle and cushion an extruded mount against a lift strut, while a curved, V-shape rear “bund” provides lateral and vertical support. The rubber bumpers-and-strap setup minimize annoying vibration.

Another advantage of the setup is that different aircraft are accommodated by simply swapping the rear support and adding or subtracting the appropriate-length strap configuration. A standard tripod 1/4 x 20 threaded thumbscrew secures a GoPro, Insta360, or equivalent camera.

Myriad high-wing aircraft from American Champions to Super Cubs can be fitted for the mounts, which retail from $125 to $135. Kitfox, Maule, Rans, Stinson, Taylorcraft, and Zenith owners can also rejoice.

Biplanes including Bücker, Stearman, and Great Lakes models are not forgotten, and Webster is working on designs for Aircams, Wacos, and some cantilevered aircraft.

The Glendale, California-based engineer founded Cloudbase Engineering in 2014 to document his hang glider habit. He reached out to CubCrafters early on to gauge interest in the fixed-wing community and Carbon Cub and Top Cub models were the first to adopt the backcountry mount. Word quickly spread and the side business was soon born.

I contacted Webster by email and he emailed me back immediately that he’d begin working on the mount and straps for my 1953 Piper Tri-Pacer. He followed up with a phone call explaining how I could interchange the straps for any other aircraft I fly. An additional email confirmed shipping, and a few days later the package arrived. A soft pouch keeps the mount, straps, and spare rubber bushings from scratching cameras in your flight bag. The personal customer service was a welcome treat, and a 30-day money-back guarantee sealed the deal.

In use, the versatile mount was easy to attach, provided a solid footing with almost infinite adjustments, and stayed securely in place for 2,400 miles—including a rough taxi to the ramp after a main landing gear tube/tire blowout upon landing in Indiana.

[email protected]

Jill W. Tallman
Jill W. Tallman
AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who is part-owner of a Cessna 182Q.

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