Constant tension electric winch

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Andrew Vanis
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Constant tension electric winch

Post by Andrew Vanis »

Constant tension electric winch
Tue, Nov 2 2021, 11:42:49 pm MDT
The Vortex SmartWinch
https://instinct.pro/collections/vortex

We are ready to announce this exciting project we have been working on all this season - we are manufacturingthe first commercially-available all-ELECTRIC hang gliding stationary winch!

We feel it could be quite revolutionary in the industry. The power is there to even tow tandem hang gliders. The intelligence is there to automate the winch operator's job to make it easy for new winch operators to increase your flying communities number of flights.

AND, the foundation is there for us to implement remote-control winch operating - imagine being able to tow yourself up where you want, when you want….all with no need for crew to assist you!

The key feature is the torque-regulated abilities….you just dial in the desired max tow tension and the winch moderates the speed the drum turns to automatically adjust to give the pilot a constant tow pressure, regardless of hitting a wind gust, thermals or sink while on tow.

It is also incredibly portable! There are three components - the motor/drum, the controller box and the battery. All are light enough that they can be taken in and out of an SUV trunk and mounted on your trailer hitch as desired. No storing an entire trailer somewhere - take your winch home and go out to fly where the conditions are prime - rather than relying on a dedicated club site.

We will be taking pre-orders right away with hopes of spring 2022 delivery. We have flight tested the prototype to our satisfaction but are making some alterations for the final configuration. Prices aren't finalized yet but are working on some accurate ball-park figures. As we add features and improve some components, the prices will only go up from what we have listed.

https://instinct.pro/collections/vortex ... smartwinch

The Vortex is a TENSION-CONTROLLED winch. This is opposed to a SPEED-CONTROLLED (or throttle-controlled) winch.

A speed controlled winch puts a great amount of responsability on the winch-operator. If they only have speed control, they have some work to do to manage the tension on the tow line throughout the tow.

Some hydraulic winch are smoother but hydro-static winches still require the winch operator to visibly monitor a pressure gage and adjust their hydraulic flow to attain and maintain a desired tow tension. And the tension can and will change throughout the tow due to glider speed changes, lift/sink, wind gusts and thermals. With a TENSION-CONTROLLED winch, the intelligence of the winch takes care of all that….resulting in a much smoother tow and WAY more efficient with increased safety.

Scooter winches are notorious for rough tows. All you have is a gas throttle to adjust and most scooter-winches don't have a pressure gage to monitor. This requires and even more skilled winch operator and often a very rough ride. For this reason, scooter winches are usually only used in low, smooth winds for rather low-tension training tows.

There are also winches based on the LSD (Limited Slip Differential) transmission of a car. These are stricktly gas throttle controlled as well and have the same problems as a scooter. They do have the added feature of setting a max tension that the transmission will slip if that max tension is attained to limit the tow from going over the max tension. This adjustment is very hard to set and calibrate as you have to test manually with a gage and is often set way too high.

11 topics in this article: electric, Instinct Windsports, Mark Dowsett, safety, scooter, stationary winch, tandem, tow, Vortex SmartWinch, Ryan Wood, Nick Jones

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Andrew Vanis
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Re: Constant tension electric winch

Post by Andrew Vanis »

The idea of self flying has certain appeal. (and likely its own version of dangers)

just a quick search also shows

http://miamiparagliding.com/ewinch/

if anyone has looked into this more, please share what you discovered.
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Nick Palmer
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Joined: Fri, Jun 30 2006, 04:44:03 pm
Location: Polborder, Saltash, Cornwall

Re: Constant tension electric winch

Post by Nick Palmer »

I think I might need one of these. I have a 500 metre long grass field right next to my house...
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Martin
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Joined: Tue, Nov 04 2003, 07:39:11 pm
Location: West Coast, Canada

Re: Constant tension electric winch

Post by Martin »

Electric offers some real potential (electrical pun intended ) It's not without challenges and I certainly would not consider remote/self operation as a safe practice.... tho likely a great source of "Fail Army" stuff for F-Book!

Everything out there in the adaptation of electric power to our sport (propulsion or winch) is cutting edge prototype and you can expect reliability issue. Smoked motors, controllers and batteries are still the norm. (and not saying the other options are any MORE reliable, just more is known about the limitations). Given the very limited market/application, not likely to ever achieve commercial standard of reliability. It is nice to see people are trying to perfect the application.... maybe someday I will have my solar panel powered platform payout electric system? Until then I can still fill up my gas guzzling American monstrosity and get my airtime on a system that I know works. (With Gretta standing by the road screaming "Blah blah blah").

As to the sales pitch that this new winch offers smooth constant tension tows, Hydraulic direct (or payout), Mechanical differential drive or even friction systems, if properly designed can offer glass smooth "auto tension control"... nothing special there. If your winch is not producing a quality tow, its the design, not the type of force being used.

In the hot, dirty, real world of a active tow site.... I trust simple mechanical tension governing over the voodoo witchcraft of a microprocessor any day!

Cheers

Martin
Seamusless
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Re: Constant tension electric winch

Post by Seamusless »

I think remote/self operation is more desirable than to having a ground winch operator. The pilot is likely quicker and more likely to recognize something has gone wrong up in the air than a winch operator on the ground. That means a quicker response to undesirable scenarios.
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Martin
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Joined: Tue, Nov 04 2003, 07:39:11 pm
Location: West Coast, Canada

Re: Constant tension electric winch

Post by Martin »

I think remote/self operation is more desirable than to having a ground winch operator. The pilot is likely quicker and more likely to recognize something has gone wrong up in the air than a winch operator on the ground. That means a quicker response to undesirable scenarios.
Hmmmmm, ok the first thing that comes to mind is the question.... do you do much towing? Towing is a team operation. Both pilot and operator have obligations to create a safe tow. Both contribute to the safety of the flight. Every system has its weakness, it takes at least two to oversee the operation, Pilot and operator. I'm sure others will say this is not enough...in some cases, you might even toss in a few more to contribute to a safe tow (spotters and ground crew).

Cheers

Martin
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Plummet
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Joined: Wed, Dec 22 2004, 02:55:05 pm
Location: S France

Re: Constant tension electric winch

Post by Plummet »

I really like the idea of these new electric winches, and the possibility to self tow is interesting.

Slightly off-topic, but more on self towing here (for those who have forgotten) - the idea is not new at all.
http://ozreport.com/3.070#1

These systems were pretty wild, especially the motorcycle!
Don
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