Builds & Reviews

151 posts

An MQ-9 Story pt.6 – 3D Missiles & Bombs (continued)

By Bob Kreutzer

Locked down, but not out.

Last issue I showed my “lock down project”. A good friend lent me His Ender 2 3D printer. At ~$200 it is an absolutely great deal on an entry level 3D printer. I can recommend it. I wanted to add a full ordinance load onto my MQ-9 project. So I jumped in with both feet and learned a new skill. Like most things, once you get the hang of it, well it becomes pretty easy. Basically there are 3 steps.

1: Obtain an STL file of what you want to print.

2: Download a slicing program (more on that)

3: Put your sliced STL file into the printer and press the on button.

OK. An STL file is to a 3D printer as a PDF file is to a regular printer. Nothing more.

A slicing program (I used CURA and do recommend it highly) allows you to place the project in the proper place on the 3D printer bed. It also allows you to size it to your needs. You press the SLICE button and everything magically happens. Then tell it to copy onto a SD card.

Take the SD card and insert it into the 3D printer. Scroll through like, 2- 3 menu options and press “PRINT”. That’s pretty much it.

So here is what I did:

Hell Fire missile on the printer bed. I found printing vertically was best.

Continue reading

Mark Davis’ Latest – The 90mm Avanti

I finally finished the 1.9m Avanti XS (120mm EDF on 12S).  Everything is ready to go except for me – I haven’t flown in two months. I thought these pilots needed kindergarten-level controls, so Bert has buttons for “Fly” and “Land.”  (I don’t know why most cockpits are more complex than this, because that pretty much covers 100% of what an airplane needs to do.)  Ernie is a bit more negative in his outlook.

FMS T-28 Expert Setup for Pylon Racing

Setting up your T-28 to race by Steve Neu.

The most important thing that many people miss when starting to race RC planes is that going fast is nothing without control! The FMS T-28 is a small plane and setting it up to race IS very different than for your basic sport flying. Getting the CG and control throws dialed in are key to getting the plane to “go fast and turn left” and keep in control. As a racer running at full throttle— the elevator and aileron travels needed are minimal. A properly setup T-28 will actually be easy to fly with only small control deflections.

The control throws suggested in the FMS instructions are intended for a plane flying much slower on a 2S battery. We are flying much faster with 3S. Here are the control deflections I have on my plane:

Ailerons: 6mm up 6mm down

Elevator: 3mm up, 3mm down

Rudder: 6mm left, 6mm right

CG measured from edge of wing at fuselage opening 71-72 mm—see picture below.

I like about 30-40% expo on both aileron and elevator—helps make the plane less sensitive around center making it easier to do fine adjustments to the plane’s track. A little nose heavy helps make the plane positively stable in pitch and the elevator less sensitive but the recommended CG in the FMS instructions is too nose heavy for my taste. Too rearward CG locations will make the plane neutral in pitch stability or even negative which will make it more difficult to find a stable track down the course. The trade offs in moving the GC is stability vs turning ability with the aft CG setup being able to turn more quickly. You need to be careful with the CG and elevator throws in that if you get too aggressive the plane will tend to snap roll in tight turns.

If you find the racing setting a little too mild for take off/landing and general sport flying I suggest setting up a dual rate switch so you can easily swap from control rate one to another.

Some of you did not read my previous article regarding the “AD” for the nose wheel strut—I learned the hard way that on our rough field the stock strut puts the nose wheel too close to the prop which will result in props getting busted when the blade hits the nose wheel rubber. The fix is easy—just turn the nose wheel around (be sure to put a flat on the shaft on the opposite side!).

Our first T-28 race will be in July!

Steve Neu’s Prop Adapter for the FMS T-28 Pylon Racer

By Steve Neu – sneu@mac.com

After busting several of the rather fragile 3 bladed FMS 7×6 props I decided to come up with a clean solution to mount an APC 7x6E prop without having to resort to stacks of washers, as the motor does not have an adapter that will work with “normal” props. I designed some parts and thanks to the fact that my business has both a Haas CNC lathe and mill it was easy to get some of the adapters made. No mods of the motor or plane are needed—simply remove the old prop and plastic adapter and put the slotted drive plate in it’s place. Install the smallest hole reducer that comes with the APC prop and balance the prop and slip it over the shaft—then install and tighten the spinner nut and you are done—ready to go race again. I made enough so others who need them can get them—I will keep some in the car so if you need one let me know when you see me at the field. I am optimistic that we will be in a position that T-28 racing can get going again in July.

Bill Allen’s Projects for May

Here are my May projects: the Ryan STA is a 57” Great Planes ARF from Tower. Needed a smallish wheeled plane as we just got a new site at the school near my house available Wednesday evenings. Nice paved play area leading into a large soccer field. The Skyray was inspired by a foamy project in last months model aviation magazine.

Steve Neu’s 73″ Twin Otter Project

One of my C19 plane projects.
 
I have always liked Twin Otters since flying in them a number of times when I was a kid. They are a “work truck” plane that can land and takeoff in the most improbable locations with just about anything that will fit in the fuselage. The DH6 first flew in 1965 and is still in production.
 
Back last autumn I saw that VQ Models (https://vqwarbirds.com/product/vq-dhc-6-twin-otter-73/) had a good deal on their version—if you were willing to order and wait a few months for them to take a slow boat from Vietnam. They finally arrived in late January—about the same time the C19 virus started making news here. So what better plane to build during the “stay at home” order than the DH6?
 
The basics for the VQ DH6:
73 inch wing span
RTF 7 lbs
Construction materials mostly balsa
Power: 2x Neu3814/950 Kv with Talon 35 controllers
props: APC 10×6 E
Servos: 6xHitec 4 mini and 2 std digital
battery 3500mAh 4S 35 C
 
Plane goes together pretty well —the instructions are fine for anyone who has some experience with more complex models. Twins with lots of servos require some work to avoid a wiring nightmare—so plan your work! The kit includes most of the hardware—one time that I ended replacing were the spinners which I could get to balance  to my satisfaction. I ended up going to Discount and picking up some Great Planes 2 inch spinners which solved then problem. The finished plane looks great with all the details—even the doors open!
 
Depending on when we get our field back the first flight will either happen at Mission Bay or Chollas very soon—all is ready and it has passed the taxi tests in the street at my house. Some pictures of the assembly process for your enjoyment.
 
Steve Neu

Tuan Adds Flaps to His 60″ FW-190

I did it!!
Took a loooong time because I didn’t know what I would find inside once the flaps were cut and luckily I cut correctly.  So a bit of thought put into building as I have nooooo experience. Those Zona saws are amazing and a must have, (Thanks to Brian!).  Since hinges are on top, and I couldn’t cut any angle on the bottom of the flaps, I had to add a 5mm wide spar on top. I think they came out as good as I can get it. I had extra  covering material from the kit, it’s a stick-on type. When  I was about to test, one of my servo died, so ordering now…
It was a very interesting and a fun project during lockdown. It was a toss-up between either I have a FW-190 with flaps or loss of a nice plane since I don’t have a spare wing, the don’t sell them..
Thank you again for all info before I started.
Tuan

Odie and His 3D Printed GB R3 Racer

Odie sent in the pics below showing some of his 3D printed projects.  The blue plane is a GB R3.  This is a scratch build using mainly plastic 3D printed parts.  Like many models of full size planes there were compromises such as increasing the wing area to reduce the wing loading.  The chord was increased to 120% and the area increased to 160%.  Other challenges include making the plane light but also stiff and strong.  Wall thicknesses are alway in mind and must be kept thin as possible.  He says one needs a good printer to maintain the structural integrity of thin components.

He started with an imported drawing of the plane and created the segmented parts in a professional version of Solidworks.

To keep the tail light he uses balsa for the stabilizers.  This also helps with balance.  He uses a slicing program, along with Solidworks, to help calculate the weight and balance on the computer before printing the parts.

Printing time is proportional to the amount of plastic used (mass).  The GB took about 16 hours of printer time.  As with most 3D printed planes, the parts are printed in sections and glued or snapped together.

Mark Davis’ Avanti XS Jet Project

I’m using quarantine to work on a Sebart Avanti XS.  It has a 120mm fan running on 12S.  The fuse is fiberglass, the wings are wood, and it has a wingspan of 1.8m.  For comparison, the plane in my hand is the Freewing foam Avanti S (wingspan 1236mm) that many of us have.  I chose a carbon-fiber 17-blade fan (optimized more for thrust than for top speed). – Mark Davis

Allan Flowers’ FW-190

Hi, Fellow COVID Exiles.

Since I can not fly at either the electric field or the Chula Vista club, I have spent time on a new foamy from Motion RC. This is a FlightLine FW-190 44” model, a bit smaller than I like (due to my old eyes). The model is a reboot of an older design which now has added flaps – but not the proper “scale” split flaps : ( I guess the days when I would spend 1500 hours on an over-the-top scale project are probably over anyway.)

This plane runs on a four-cell, which is one of the reasons I got it, since I have several batteries that can be used in it. The battery bay is extremely tight and required some surgery to get everything in. The model is spectacular in detail and fairly good in terms of scale fidelity. I did it in the optional Heinz Bar #13 scheme, adding my own Photoshopped swastika which was missing on the tail (PC reigns). I decided to try some weathering which I have really never done before. My attempt is terrible compared to the incredible models I see on the internet – but I had fun and it isn’t too bad after all. A little black to hit the panel lines, ocher for oil leaks and where the guns dirty the wing, and blotched silver to look like chipped paint on metal…  Everything on the model has been coated with some acrylic floor finish, which pulls it together – as well as sealing down the stickers which, on this model, were not good. The colors and detail was great but they really didn’t stick very well at all – especially the small/thin ones.

Today was spent binding the new RX and setting the throws, etc. Hopefully I will be able to handle this fast little plane, once the field is open again.

I hope all is well with all of you,
Allan

Otto’s Nostalgic Builds

Well as soon as the confinement to quarters hit I pulled out two projects to complete. 
The first is Jim Kirkland’s 1970 Nats pattern winning A-6 Intruder. This was built from and old Skyglass kit produced in 1972 that I found in a storage bin. The major issue was the fiberglass fuse. It had been on its side for 35 years and had deformed. I cut it all up and built a jig to reassemble. Turned out pretty well but probably would have been easier to scratch building a new one.
The second project completed Is a ModelTech ARC Calypso. Hanno Prettner’s Calypso won the 1984 International F3A pattern competition. The kit was my first ARC, almost ready to cover, and went together very easily. Very pleased with the results.
Both projects have retract gear and are electric conversions. You should see them at the field tearing up the sky. – Otto

An MQ-9 Story pt.6 – 3D Missiles & Bombs

A co-worker kindly lent me his Ender 3  3d printer. I have taught myself to use it and am now printing missiles and bombs.  In particular, Hell Fire missiles and GBU -12 Paveway  laser guided smart bombs for my MQ-9 project.  So  am learning new skills and moving the MQ=9 project forward in these difficult times.  I can recommend the Ender 3d printer as a nice and economical beginner’s printer as it is producing a fine product(s). – Bob Kruetzer

What I Did on my Covid-19 Vacation by George Sullivan

Like most everyone I have done some repairs to my airplanes. But here is something a little different. It’s flying related but not an airplane. In a prior life I had a video business where I would record various events and provide DVD’s and/or downloads. For this purpose I purchased a Servocity Pan and Tilt device (picture below). I would mount my video camera on it and using a hand held wired remote I could move the camera both left to right and up and down. – George Sullivan

Taking video of RC aircraft is a pain in the …. I always hoped I could use this device but aiming it was a problem. So the project I have is in 2 phases. The first phase is to convert the controls from the hand held wired controller to a wireless receiver and my Spektrum transmitter. This was surprisingly easier than I expected. I now have a 4 channel receiver mounted on the device and can control the pan and tilt motions using the right stick of my Spektrum transmitter. I will output the video from the camera to either a small monitor or perhaps a pair of goggles. Here is a short video showing the Pan and Tilt mechanism controlled by the Spektrum transmitter. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpZS2jtaciw )

The second phase is to solve the problem with aiming the camera. My plan is to put a “headtracker” on the output display (monitor or goggles) and input that into my Spektrum transmitter. So at least in theory the camera should point where I’m looking.

The first phase is completed . Phase 2 is waiting on the delivery of the electronics for the headtracker. I hope to get the electronics by 4/15. If all goes well, an update for next months newsletter.

Plenty Happening at “Casa Gagliardi”

Like the rest of us, I’ve been “hunkered down” in my case at Casa Gagliardi trying to keep my brain from going to sleep with way too much TV !  So let’s build something…..First it was the Wanderer Glider that Mike Morgan so graciously laser cut for me as it was my first glider back in ’75 after going to Torrey Pines and watching the action there. I had just been transferred here after Recruiting Duty with the Marine Corps in Indiana (can you say FLAT?)

Wow the cliffs were amazing!….It was fun building something small for a change. It’s Monocote covered and weighs 24 oz RTF. I can only practice drums, vibes & piano so much each day so it was a fun build….Mike was building one also so we shared ideas via the phone & internet. 
Build #2 was to finish my Ziroli SNJ which spans 101″ and is to be powered by a NeuMotors 8019/180 which Steve PROMISED will turn a 22×10 APC @ 8K on 12S….This is probably the 5th one I’ve built, as I raced them in the past at USRA and Unlimited Air Racing events. FiberGlass fuse, foam core wings, which Belknap & I cut, Robart retracts, fabric built-up tail feathers Ultracote covered wings, paint from Home Depot and a sound system courtesy of Mike Morgan. That should keep me busy for a while !!!!!
Semper Fi
Frank Gagliardi

Kyosho Hurricane Retract Upgrade

The stock mechanical retracts that came with the Hurricane were underperforming.  I replaced them with the main retracts that normally come with the Freewing Avanti Jet.  They fit pretty well with only moderate fiddling and fussing with the mounts.  One of the great things about these retracts is they are very inexpensive.  Only $50 for the set!

If you are looking for retracts for a project, check out MotionRC.com.  They sell the retracts for nearly all their models.  You can find all sorts of sizes, configurations and styles.  –  Steve B.

The Freewing Avanti S Power Upgrade, NeuMotor Style

By Steve B.

Last year I bought the Avanti S from MotionRC.com.  Although this is an excellent jet, I wanted it to go faster.  The modification required replacing the entire fan assembly, the motor and the speed control.  It was all pretty simple to do because al the new parts fit right in where the old ones were.  No foam cutting, just a slight change to the ESC mount.

The test flights went perfectly.  It is significantly faster than the stock setup.  The flights are shorter due to the higher currents.  Unfortunately, I forgot to get video.

In order to get the correct motor and fan, I took the easy route and went to our very own ‘motor master’, Steve Neu of Neutronics and asked him.  If anyone knows how to make airplanes go fast. . . well, you’ve seen him fly, enough said.  Steve created a special wind motor just for this application: NeuMotor inrunner 1412/2D/S/5mm with a Kv of 2400.  In this application the motor is using 2700 Watts.  The stock motor’s Kv was 1900.

The stock fan that comes with the Avanti is plastic and specially made to mount on their outrunner motor that itself mounts from the rear.  The motor and fan are cantilevered off the back of the motor.  Seems crazy but it works.  This fan cannot accept a motor that mounts from the front.  Turns out they have fan housing made of metal and it fits a front mounting inrunner (p/n P0806).  I used the fan housing but the fan that comes with it cannot mount to a standard motor shaft.  So I purchased a Jetfan 80 V3 from eJets in France.  It is made to fit the NeuMotor 5mm shaft.

I bought a Castle Phoenix Edge 130Amp ESC to replace the stock 100 Amp ESC.  Current at full throttle is 135Amps.  The battery is the stock 6S 5000mAh Li-Po.

I’ll take you through a pictorial explanation of the conversion process:

 

Below you can see how I took off the motor hatch.  The screw eyes made it easy to lift it off (after you remove the screws).  Otherwise it is a pain.

Continue reading

WHAT CAUSED THE MIRACLE FLIGHT?

              

By Frank Sutton

Alex received his Motion RC AL37 jet airliner as a Christmas gift. Of course, he was thrilled. As many of you already know, Alex plans to be a jet airliner pilot and is already flying actual sailplanes as a member of Cypress Soaring (https://www.cypresssoaring.org/) in addition to flying R/C planes with Silent Electric Flyers San Diego (SEFSD). He is preparing to solo in a Cypress Soaring sailplane later this year.

              Alex assembled his brand new Motion RC AL37 jet airliner on Christmas Day, and he installed a known good SPECTRUM AR620 6-Channel Sport Receiver from another plane. Unfortunately, he soon discovered that the lights and retractable landing gear worked but the twin jet engines would not start. Alex spent many hours unsuccessfully troubleshooting the engine problem for several days. All of the receivers he tried would work fine and start the engines on other aircraft, but none of his receivers would start the the new AL37 jet engines.

              We reached out to Motion RC’s Technical Support for assistance and eventually attempted to troubleshoot the engine problem via E-mail and text messages with Motion RC’s Technician “Andrew”. Unfortunately, all the troubleshooting by Andrew and Alex remained unsuccessful – the jet’s engines would simply make a beeping tone and not start.

              We were planning to ship the engines and electronics back to Motion RC for troubleshooting when Andrew told us he lives not too far away in the Lake Elsinore area, and he invited us to bring the plane, or at least the electronics and jet engines, to his home to troubleshoot himself. We gratefully accepted his generous offer and met Andrew at his home in Lake Elsinore on Saturday afternoon, 04JAN2020, after Alex’s sailplane flight at Hemet Airport with a Cypress Soaring Instructor. Continue reading

A Fun Ray from Multiplex Repair(ed) Experience

By Carl Murphy

In Which We Patch Up a New Fun Ray (Multiplex)

This is the first time I’ve had a fine quality Radio Ready (RR) to fly modern RC airplane in my hands, a current RC airplane as semi-hotliner (it came out seven months ago) which needed repairs before ever making a decent landing. Not including the 3S LiPo it cost €390/$440- in addition to which the new 3S LiPo was wrecked. What luck, we have two more LiPos sitting around ready. How much, materials cost and labor, to make an airplane out if it again?

More Foam RC Airplanes than the Law Allows

I have lost track of how many foam airplanes I have assembled, with the count for flying wings at fifty-five (I haven’t assembled any in a decade) and often assembling kits for others it is over a hundred. Until recently most of them had to be reinforced, as in Rhein-Main we enjoy flying close to home, without a mowed, free of rocks, grass as a crop landing zone and in SoCal I don’t usually have the Mission Bay (sandpaper) field to land on. All of my personal airplanes the propulsion was tuned. There were a couple of thousand carefree flying sessions, mostly airframes from Zaggie and Multiplex. Which included some duds (the Xeno flying wing, a single flying session, and a similar built up balsa) and a hard stalling semi-hotliner, the Blizzard (five and ten flights respectively). I issued a series of articles in which I bought up a used, owner assembled ARFs, dissected them, and, if they were worth it, fixed them (Twin Star II), or, discarded them (The Too Old Gemini, The P.O.Deleted DT-80, The Too Old First Generation Fun Glider, The Fun Glider).

A goal is not so much fly the Fun Ray at our home (farm) fields so much as those great places we keep reading about in Southern Tirol, Bavaria and Austria. Get the hang of it here and go fly there. So far though, its been hanging out with the locals as there was no wind. With a Fun Ray he’d have taken to the air. To date my personal slope soaring (zu Deutsch Hangflug) is mostly a distant memory of Estancia in Costa Mesa CA (before the trees wrecked the lift, nobody slope soars there anymore) and a single session at Point Fermin CA (difficult landing) decades ago. An alternative would be Torry Pines in San Diego CA. The Fun Ray is tough enough to land at Point Loma, until the drones got us run out of there. Our nearest slope soaring to our west end of Rhein-Main is in Appenheim. Three sessions for the other pilot, were enough to wake up his interest. Me, at a three hour round trip drive my two times there was no wind.

This is an original how to article, mostly to stay in contact with a friend with vastly better legal skills, made available to the Silent Electric Flyers of San Diego this year 2020. Were this a typical motor mounted at the rear, wonderfully built up out of balsa, plywood and iron on plastic covering, after planting the nose from a thirty-three feet up (ten Meters) there would be nothing to fix. With the motor front mounted to a combination of fiberglass and plastic reinforcement joined to impact resisting Elapor foam, it got a second chance. Continue reading

Hawaiian Air

Click the pic for more pics

By Jovi

Thanksgiving Day, all the relatives were in the kitchen helping out in prepping the turkey and the many other goodies going with it, grabbing samples, my wife is in the middle of making egg rolls and it was smelling good.  Me, I was sitting by the TV watching football, my Kona Brewing Hanalei beer next to me, computer in hand and I was feeling pretty good that day.   With my computer, I’m doing the massive internet searching and watching the football game.  I like to check out Motion RC for their aircrafts (to my opinion) look pretty cool, for a foamy.  I have had my eye on this one very cool looking aircraft, it was the Flight Line B-24 Liberator Olive Drab. 

Then my eye caught sight of this airliner, Freewing AL37 Airliner Twin 70mm EDF, I’m like really, that just looks so cool and so was the price, $499.99.  I still had to see what this was, watch some videos and as I was doing that, drinking my Hanalei beer and I was getting excited (PG). At this point I had to get some eggrolls so I paused.   Picking my eggrolls, I start taking to my wife, Phi, (pronounced like paying a “Fee”) about this new airplane that I just found on the internet and of course she says back to me “Oh Jovi, here goes more money”.    I said with a smile, you need to see it later……. Here’s the good stuff on the AL37:

  • Wing loading: 110g/dm2
  • Wing Area: 39 dm2
  • Length: 78.74 in
  • Wingspan: 72. In
  • Motor: 3048-2150KV O/R Motor
  • Servos: 9g MG digital servo (6pcs), 9g Hybrid digital servo (4pcs)
  • ESC: 60A with 5A BEC (2pcs)
  • Ducted fan: 70mm 12-blade fan (2pcs)
  • Weight: 7.385 pounds (w/o battery)

Also included were, Electric Landing Gear, with doors, scale LED lights and best of all the two pilots figures, why who else was going to fly this bird????   The Li-Po Battery needed, 6S 4000-6000mAh.

Phi, my wonderful wife gave me the go-ahead so when we got home from our Thanksgiving trip in Arizona, I got to Motion RC web site and “Pushed the Button”, it was order, now, patients for the deliver day.  When order, I was told this was a pre-order, should ship mid-December.    

Meanwhile while waiting for the Jetliner, I had asked Randy if he know of anyone who could make decals and I was looking to make my airline look like Hawaiian Airlines, my favorite way to go when heading to the Islands.   Randy mentioned Callie Graphics.  Found their web site so I left them an e-mail with my request.  Couple of days later I got a response back with “heck yeah”.  Again, I got excited… (PG).

Here it is December 10th and I got the e-mail; your order has shipped……Oh Yeah!!!!!   A day later, Callie Graphics advise me that my order had shipped as well.  This was great, very thing is falling into place.  Besides having the problem with Fed-Ex and there so call on time deliver, my was delayed by three days.  The decals arrived and I was very impressed with the way they came out.  I was also surprised on how large these decals were.   Well finial on Sunday evening the package arrived.  I was like, box is not that large and I could not believe how light the package was.  Open it up and was happy seeing how the packaging was very well done; each piece was well place in a cradle that was created in its shipping box.   Once I look at it, I got amazed on how large of a Jet this really was….

On Monday right when I got home from work I started to work on AL37.   Putting the fuselage together was really easy and it goes on straight.   Now came the time to put the decals on.  If anyone has done this, you know to use Luke warm water and some soap.  This really helps in putting the decals on and getting them as straight as possible.   I took the rest of the week to get it done.

December 28th, it was ready for flight.  Randy was very kind to help me get it in the air.  Check it out and soon it was in the air.  This aircraft fly’s really fast.   Randy flew it for about 4 minutes and then wanted to bring it down.   And he did.  It hit hard and had some damage.  All could be repaired.  By the following weekend the AL37 was ready for flight.   This time Brad was at the field.  I don’t how much I can thank Brad for taking the time, about over an hour and spent the time setting up my radio and making sure that AL37 was perfect.  He check it out from top to bottom.   Now it was time to fly.   Brad got it up, flew it around trimmed it out and it flew great, hands off.

Then the moment was mine, with a freshly charge battery the AL37 was ready for flight again.  This time I took control.   Powered up, she started to roll, increasing the power she started to lift off the ground, I was excited….I flew her for about 4 minutes and let Brad have the last minute to bring her back.   He brought her back on a very nice approach and he landed it very gently.    WOW this is one fun airplane.

Without the help of Brad and Randy, I don’t think I could have done this on my own, got to take it home in one piece……Thanks again for the help you both provide me with my Hawaiian Air.

Adventure Multiplex Panda, Fly the Thing

By Carl Murphy

Flight (10) 11 End of January year 2018 (So.) The wind swirls over the hills and between the apartment buildings where I live, so, I was way off, ninety degrees on the wind direction and half down on the strength. Up in the Tanus Hills, where I expected the wind to be blowing up the saddle, the wind was blowing up a forested hill and back down. Which is normally too turbulent to fly a plane of this type, except that, right at the saddle is a pocket of not much swirl and I’m here. The Panda flew for twelve minutes, just not right and it was quickly evident this is a still air airplane. I’ve been flying a medium speed, way up powered Mentor which responds directly to control inputs, I had to relearn how to fly with just ruder and elevator. Even full stick throw, which seemingly doesn’t do enough, until putting full amps to the Panda.

Flight 12 same day At the nearest slope soaring hill (38) km away. With rain or snow every other day and the winter darkness of this fifty degrees north latitude I’ve been stuck in a tunnel for months, I just had to get out some. This can be a gently slope soaring experience looking out over the valley. Instead the wind is blowing up the slight slope covered with trees, conditions aloft are turbulent, the view under the clouds a thousand feet up clear.   The Panda flew for fifteen minutes, this time using all the down trim the transmitter had and holding the elevator down from stick neutral too.

Flight 13 I marked the elevator for reference, then moved the aileron one tooth at the servo arm. Now it needs all the up trim and some more holding down. The flight went twenty minutes. Considering the unsuitable flying conditions and that the battery still had a third more usable charge there was more to be had.

I put my Reinforced Mentor in the air, what a difference.

I reset the full flying elevator to correct neutral. That (1/16) inch off (about one and a half millimeters) as measured at the leading edge of the full flying stab is likely why the original owner gave up on this Panda although that casting lip at the wings leading edge made it worse too. It is now up for sale or trade.

 

A Multiplex Panda

A True ARF   Easy to Carry Ok to Fly

No Longer In Production  

Conclusion

I could add more rudder and elevator (half an hour, nominal cost), even add in ailerons (two to three hours, thirty to forty bucks, plus forty grams) and more power (an hour or two, fifty to a couple of hundred bucks). But I won’t. They had a near identical RC airplane with from the factory ailerons (also discontinued, although a local store in Rhein-Main has a new one in stock) I won’t be looking for one at any price. Multiplex insisted if it had their name on it that the quality would be up to their high standards, there can’t have been any profit for them with the Panda at what they sold for. Kind of like the Edsel, the Panda didn’t fit a need for when it came out. Unlike the Edsel though (the Edsel may have set the all time record for poor build quality of American cars) the Panda quality was consistently rather better than comparable ARFs. You get what you pay for! Continue reading

Mark’s Spring-Loaded RC Airplane Bomb

Anybody with a bomber model eventually gets around to experimenting with dropping models of bombs from airplanes.  These are usually solid foam pieces, or break-apart plastic shells filled with chalk.

I thought it would be interesting to experiment with models that actually carry some stored energy (in the form of a compression spring), to throw dust a bit more upward on impact (as opposed to just splashing outward along the ground).   Below are links to files I posted on Thingiverse, and videos of tests dropping them by hand.   These were designed in Fusion 360, and can be printed in any filament, and of course at any scale.   I used ABS for increased durability versus PLA.   A compression spring sits in the nose, and is released on impact, launching upward whatever is inside.   I found that Indian Holi Powder disperses really well, and although it usually comes in bright neon colors, you can also find it (less commonly) in neutral colors like white, grey, and black.

If you want to try one out, and don’t have a 3D printer, contact me and I can give you one of these prototypes, as long as you promise to drop it from a plane and take a video.   I have only dropped them by hand so far, and I wonder they behave when hitting the ground at much higher speeds.     I also have some 3D printed mounts for the Eflite release that could be glued to any of these.

Here are two youtube videos showing tests:

Spring-loaded RC airplane bomb

Here is a link to the .stl files on Thingiverse:

Gringotuerto’s Thingiverse Profile

An MQ-9 Story pt. 5 – The IR/EO Ball

After getting the rear end or the MQ-9 project sorted out, it was time to work on the front end.
The most prominent feature is the IR/EO ball. This is the acronym for the Infrared/electromagnetic Optical sensor array. There is a whole lot more going on here and you will have to look up the Raytheon site to get more information because there is a LOT of information about this sensor suite! Please note the size of the front “ball” on the full scale aircraft”.
In the next picture you can see that the Chinese model makers did not have the complete engineering drawings at the time of manufacture and as such, the proportions are a little bit off. I am only guessing that they might have been preoccupied with procuring model 35 information during this time period.

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7/8th Scale Fiesler Storch

By Robert Stinson

On April 13th, there was a small airshow at Gillespie Field. Our field was supposed to be closed that day, so I went there instead. What luck! One of the planes on display was a 7/8th Scale Fiesler Storch, and I spent nearly an hour talking with the pilot and owner Steve Lund.

Those of us who have flown models of the Storch know that it isn’t the most forgiving of airplanes. Steve confirmed that our models exhibit authentic behaviors, and that they require a lot of attention. I thought I’d share some of his observations.

Due to its slow airspeed and zero dihedral, the Storch’s ailerons are not very effective. The pilot has to work the rudder constantly to stay on course. Flying from his home base in Torrance, he was berated by Air Traffic Control because he couldn’t maintain a constant heading!

I asked why the Storch had such relatively small wheels, since so many STOL planes use tundra style tires. Apart from the aesthetics, he said that landing speeds were so slow that they weren’t necessary, and would create substantial unwanted drag.

On one occasion though, the landing speed issue caused some damage to the plane. His plane originally had a skid on the tail. He was landing on a dirt field, and approach speed was about 30 mph. At that speed, there is so little airflow over the control surfaces, in his words, “you were just a passenger”. Once he touched down, without a tail wheel ground steering could only be accomplished by using the wheel brakes individually. He stepped on the right brake, the wheel dug in, and he veered right and hit a telephone pole alongside the runway, bending a landing gear strut. Fortunately, the field operator knew of a nearby machine shop. They removed the strut, straightened it out and were back in business in two hours. He now has a tail wheel instead of a skid.

Steve has spent many years making the plane as authentic as possible. He had 7/8th scale instruments custom made so that his panel matched the plane scale. The real plane had a map compartment under the panel. He made a fake map cover that masks his modern avionics.

The birdcage cockpit canopy is oversized, to meet the requirements for a reconnaissance aircraft. Sitting under glass, the pilot gets very hot! Steve fashioned prototypical accordioning roof and side shades and uses them all the time.

Great pains were taken to make the paint scheme authentic. For instance, the green “Z” on the fuselage denotes a headquarters squadron, and the yellow wing tips are Eastern Front theatre markings.

There was a lot more, that I won’t go into here. If you’re interested, search YouTube for Steve Lund FI-156. He posted a lecture covering much of this there.

So, for those of you who have struggled to fly an R/C Storch, just know that you are in good company flying a piece of history!

An MQ-9 Story pt. 4 – Empennage

By Bob Kreutzer

The fitting of the empennage.

After fitting the motor, the empennage needed to be installed. As the factory was advocating just gluing the empennage onto the airframe and I realized that that would not work if I ever wanted to remove that nicely tucked-in motor I would need to make the stabilizers removable. This was easy enough with some hitch-pins and some more graphite rods.

Note the little copper L-pins I used for set-up. These were replaced with the proper sized hitch-pins.

Note also, the tight linkage set-up. This factory set-up was a disaster and the controls clashed with each other at full deflection. Yikes! What you cannot see is the severely misaligned dihedral of the stabilizers .The dihedral was off by almost 1 inch” I guess the poor Chinese worker was distracted on that day. I don’t think this is going to fly straight.

It took a little minor surgery to correct this.

Next up: the elevator linkages.

Oh, wait. The supplied elevator ball link is split!

Imagine that, the rudder link is split too . These early production run models had a history of falling out of the sky. I bought all new hardware.

Here is the factory set up with new hardware. This is when I found out the elevator was going to crash into the rudder on full up and full left. I had to cut off the rudder and cut down the wire and re-bend about an inch lower and re-install it. That took care of it.

This is the final flight worthy result. It is a bit busy in the back. Here you can see the final hitch pins that allow the elevators to be removed for motor servicing.

Here is the final result. It is starting to look like a real MQ-9!