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Gill Fuel Level Sensors are typically used in motorsport, military and industrial applications, so when a UK-based paramotor pilot approached us with a view to adding instrumentation to his fuel tank we were intrigued at the prospect of a new, unusual use for our equipment.
The Scope of the Problem
Paramotoring, or Powered Paragliding (PPG) is an extremely popular form of ultra-light air sport. Most paramotors are fitted with sophisticated GPS systems and other navigational aids, however few have a means of determining the level of fuel remaining in the tank during flight.
The tanks do tend to have an external sight gauge for representation of fuel levels pre-flight, but due to the position of the tank (typically mounted beneath the motor, behind the pilot), it is impossible to view the sight gauge during flight.
Knowing the remaining fuel level during flight is therefore, at best, an educated guess based on flight time. Not only can this make the pilot feel uneasy after long periods in the air, but it is unsafe and can force an emergency landing should the fuel tank run dry.
The Paramotor Platform
The paramotor in question was a Bailey Aviation 4V-200, with a 260mm deep 15ltr fuel tank installed. Like many paramotors, the frame of the vehicle already featured a customised dashboard with integrated GPS and compass.
Fuel Level Sensor
A Gill R-Series fuel level sensor was recommended due to its simple installation and suitability for the size of the current Bailey tank. The sensor was manufactured to the exact 263mm length required (allowing for the gasket and mounting boss), enabling the whole tank depth to be monitored. A custom 70cm flying lead was also specified, complete with a connector for the dash-mounted display.
The sensor was calibrated at the factory in 98 Octane unleaded petroleum, providing a 0.25V to 4.75V output over the calibrated sensing range. The sensor was anodised in red to match the current red tank.
In order to aid installation, the customer was also supplied with an aluminium 5-bolt mounting boss, which was welded to the top of the tank prior to being re-anodised.
Fuel Level Display
The Gill fuel level display was recommended due to its simple interface and super-bright LEDs, which are visible in direct sunlight, a significant consideration in this application. The display, again finished in anodised red, was mounted to the dashboard of the paramotor, directly underneath the compass.
The fuel level of the tank was now visible to the pilot via twenty-nine individual LEDs (red, amber and green), with a low level alarm configured to appear when the level displayed reduced to just the five red LEDs.
This was indeed an original and unusual installation for the Gill level sensor and display system. It is always interesting to learn of new ways in which our equipment is being used, and satisfying to hear the positive impact something as simple as knowing your fuel level, with confidence, can have on performance, regardless of the application.