While electronic ignition is definitely a thing in Experimental aviation, there are tons of magnetos still in service, and you’re supposed to verify mag timing at least every annual condition inspection. The Eastern E50 mag timing and sync tool has been a mainstay for the job. Recently, though, Aircraft Tool Supply bought the rights to the tool and set about making some seemingly small but useful updates.
You might think a mag tester is just looking at continuity to ground as a way to determine when the points start to open; this is the set point for ignition timing with conventional mags. But it’s more properly measuring inductance, which, according to ATS, can help diagnose burned windings, internal shorts or open windings in the mag coils. The E50A’s new internals are all solid state, so no more electrical-mechanical hocus pocus.
ATS made some fundamental changes in the way the E50A works. For one, it’s quiet until the points open; the E50 buzzes the entire time it’s turned on. When the points open, the new E50A then illuminates an LED (used to be incandescent) and turns on the buzzer. As before, the E50A connects to both mags simultaneously so you can see if they have the same timing. The box also has a new low-voltage warning—the power light will blink—to remind you when to change the internal 9-volt battery. Having the buzzer silent until the points open and substituting the LEDs should make that battery last longer.
One other trick is the front-face test point. Touch either of the sense leads to the exposed screw head and that channel’s LED will illuminate and the buzzer buzz, so you know the tool is working as intended.
In use, the E50A is a treat. The LEDs are bright and the signal buzzer just loud enough to hear over industrious hangarmates, but not annoying. The test feature is handy. Best of all? At $129.95, the E50A is the same price as the previous E50. This is definitely not your grandfather’s buzz box.
Aircraft Tool Supply