So, I hadn't flown at all this week, due to stupid random off-and-on rain/thunderstorms typical of Spring in Indiana. There were 15-20 mph constant winds. And, it was training night at the field. But flying had to happen! So I drug out my war-battered Mini Ultra Stick and went to the field!
When I say "war-battered", I mean it! This thing was in terrible shape when I bought it used (and fully setup) from my LHS. Since then it's endured all manner of abuse, from cartwheeling, to near-full-speed "landings", to being dropped, even halfway shut in a car door more than once. I keep pronouncing this thing "dead on next flight", but it still keeps flying. It'll probably outlive all my other planes, and all the planes I'll ever buy.
So yeah, drug out the MUS, 2 packs, and my TX, and went to the field. Chad brought his 3DHS 40" Edge. We slapped packs in and went for it. Flying these small, cheap planes in stupid wind is actually...amazing fun! The planes are so cheap that you don't really care what happens to them, so you just push them around the sky and have fun. We got in 7 flights between us in about 30 minutes and took off. Most fun I've had flying in a long time! Sometimes everyone in this hobby gets caught up in wanting and being excited about the next "big super-awesome plane", and we lose sight of just having fun with the planes and not worrying about setup, good weather, all that stuff. :D
Before the flying trip, I was at the LBS (Hodson's Bay; they rock!) to pick up my bag that finally came in, and to try out a Trek 1.5 they had ordered in. Meh.
Have you ever ridden a cheap, sub-$100 department store bike? Remember how loud, rough, and "hesitating" the derailleurs operate? Yeah, that's kind of what the front derailleur on the Trek 1.5 is like. It's a Shimano Sora, which is (scarily!) NOT their bottom-of-the-line component set. The rear derailleur wasn't too bad; it's a Tiagra.
Then, the shop d00d had me try out a Specialized Allez Sport (Double). It uses Shimano 105 components all around, and, yeah, if you want a graphic demonstration of the differences between the levels of components, this is it. Both front and rear on this thing shift ultra-smooth and quick, and nearly silent too. Ride position is good. Braking is very good.
I've got one ordered in 52cm. :D (Test bike was 54cm, which was ok, but I'd be more comfortable on the 52... so that's what it'll be!)
NEWS FLASH: THIS JUST IN: Chad isn't selling out of the hobby! Thank the gods (that don't exist)!
That is all. Film @ 11.
I haven't posted in several days, mainly because there isn't much worthy of posting about. I'm waiting on several shipments which comprise all the stuff I need to get the Helios in the air -- all that stuff will be here by Friday. Weather has been not-so-good, so haven't flown much, other than the requisite "demo flights" of the SHP for my dad-in-law on Saturday. :) That was fun though.
My friend Chad had another equipment failure and is selling out of the hobby, which kind of sucks, but he's had really bad luck lately. :/
I've been out on my bike quite a bit though. My wife's started riding with me, which has been completely awesome. She wasn't so sure how she'd do, after not having been on a bike much in many years, and after having a nasty problem with her tailbone when she tried riding a year ago. But we've been doing 4-7 mile rides and she's enjoyed it and done very well at it!
I'm looking into maybe switching bike styles. I upgraded from the Trek 7.3 FX to the 7.5 FX, which is the same "fitness-style" geometry, but then got to thinking I might be able to get more speed out of a road bike, if I can deal with the ride position. I went to the LBS and tried out a Trek 1.2 (very entry level road bike) and actually... found it more comfortable for me than the FX series geometry! They're getting in a 1.5 for me to try out, and I'm looking forward to that, but I'm really thinking of the 2.1 or 2.3, or one of Specialized's high-entry-range models (Allez Compact Sport Double perhaps). We'll see!
Published on May 23rd, 2009 @ 08:38:23 am , using 237 words, 855 views
Yesterday was an amazing day for flying. Clear, warm, and max 1 mph winds! And paradoxically, very few people were out flying! I got in 6 flights in a row. 1 on my MUS, 2 on the 40" Edge, and 3 on the SHP. I'm getting really comfortable with that SHP!
While flying the SHP and just trying different maneuvers, I started to see how much I've learned since I started flying last season. I got myself into situations, three separate times, that last season would have ended with a destroyed airplane. But I pulled out every time -- and didn't panic in the process. Oh, sure, it looked bad to the other people watching, but I was in control and not panicked, and the plane lives to fly again!
I'm still working on trying to do harriers. In order to do it, you've really got to re-learn a lot, and it's almost all done with rudder control, which isn't even used much in "normal" flying. Ah well, I'm getting there.
I have a new airplane on order - and a big one too. It's a Hyperion Helios "63e" size. 57" wingspan. And it's a pattern plane. Now, of course, I don't fly pattern, and I'm certainly not going to start marking out a box and flying strict IMAC sequences, but a pattern plane will provide a very stable, fun-flying airplane to fly normal aerobatics with. And it's a really, really nice looking plane...
Published on May 20th, 2009 @ 06:06:11 am , using 506 words, 931 views
Did a little more on my Simitar build last night. Well, progress-wise it was a little, but time-wise it was 3 hours! Every time I work on the build, I get it hammered further into my head "building planes takes a long damn time!!!!!". It's bizarre to think that this was once a very common way to get a plane into the air. It was either scratch build, or build from a kit that wasn't a lot better than scratch building, because the kits were die-cut back then. There were no ARFs at all, and even when ARFs started coming out, they were really, really bad and you were still better off building.
Anyway, got the leading and trailing edges of both wing halves sanded flush, and the 1/4 balsa glued to the leading edge and set aside to cure. This will then be sanded to shape the leading edge of the airfoil. I am not looking forward to that step! At all! I'd pay good money to avoid it! However, once that is done, a good portion of the hard part will be over with and it should be smooth sailing. I'm told that all the time-consuming stuff is being done first and that once the wing is done the build is way more than half over.
If I had my own shop, and the skills to do this build without massive supervision, I'd probably have 4 of these in the air by now. But I don't have a shop, and there's no way I could do this without Claude's help, so I've got to do it slowly, when he's available, and when I can set aside time. He's about a 20-30 minute drive, one-way, and of course he has other commitments, so I can't work on it every day. Plus I've got flying and other stuff to do too! Oh well, if I can get it flying before Winter I'll be happy.
While at Claude's working on the build, I got to see a thoroughly destroyed Mustang that a newer flier in the club had crashed. A lot of the "totaled" planes end up at his house, given he's the club President and an avid builder. This particular Mustang was slammed into the pilot line fence and the wing was sheared off and destroyed. To compound that damage, the pilot in his anger kicked the plane, causing more damage. Seeing this plane reinforced what I've already learned: "assuming you're not dead-stick, if a landing is going poorly, punch the throttle and setup again; don't keep fighting it in..." Heh.
I also spent 5 minutes setting up the 40" Edge I got in trade. Was easy to setup to the recommended throws and I'm looking forward to it's first flight as my plane. This should be a fun little plane to drag out to fly when I don't want to do a full pack-up for a longer day of flying. Just throw it in the trunk, bring a couple batteries and my TX, and I can fly it almost anywhere.
The training wheels are off my SHP, or at least that's how it feels. I was a little nervous about how it would handle with the full 3D arms and throws, especially after what happened during the maiden flight with that setup. But, wow, yeah, I was nervous for nothing. It flies great! And it's tons of fun with the full throws. I even forgot to flip it to low rates for the first landing, and the subsequent next takeoff! I was still fine! What an awesome airplane!
Yesterday was one of those crazy days at the field, where everyone in the club that actually flies, was out flying... seemingly at once! Our club is weird, a lot of the guys don't like to fly if there's more than 1 other person flying at the time. Not yesterday! I think at one point there were close to 10 planes up! Was cool to see, though a little scary when you're not used to that many people being up!
There are now 4 3DHS planes in our club...owned by 2 pilots. :D Myself and Chad. The picture up top shows all 4 of them. My SHP, the AJ scheme Slick that Chad has, the yellow Slick that used to be mine, and the red 40" Edge that is now mine. Yeah, I traded off the Slick. It's a really fun plane, and I really do like it, but for me and where I'm at in the the learning curve, I'm better off flying the hell out of the SHP (and I need to get the Addiction out and fly that too). Chad wanted another Slick and I kinda wanted the little Edge for a "keep in the trunk" type of plane, so we traded up + some cash on his end to even things up. He now owns 2 Slicks. Heh.
I'm also going to re-start my Simitar build. Claude, my club president, emailed and said "since North field is all flooded, do you want to work on it more?", and so I said... "sure, let's do it!". I'm headed out there tonight. It'll be a slow build, but I'm still excited about my first actual build. Plus I get a lot of control over the finished airplane. I'm already wondering how much throw I can get out of the elevons and rudder... ;)
The money from the Slick <--> Edge trade helped partially pay for a bike upgrade. The Weather Gods™ haven't exactly smiled on us here in Indiana lately, and I'm waiting on a bag to come in so I can carry things, so I haven't biked to work yet, but I did some longer (for me!) rides on my 7.3 FX over the weekend, and I realized, that as nice as the 7.3 is, and it is a nice bike, for doing 5 miles each way work commutes, I might want something a little nicer. So I talked to my LBS, the awesome Hodson's Bay Company, and asked if they'd do a trade-in on my 7.3 for something newer and nicer. They said "hell yes" and so I traded up to a Trek 7.5 FX. It's a big, noticeable upgrade over the 7.3. It'll be ready Wednesday. Can't wait. :D
Published on May 18th, 2009 @ 05:56:29 am , using 327 words, 1416 views
The Wabash river is at around 20', and the North flying field floods out at about 14', so, yeah, it's long gone. :D South field is available of course, but it has its own set of issues. It can be totally calm or near-calm in town, and you go out to that field and the wind is all over. That was what it was like yesterday when I headed out, so I didn't get in any flying.
Mainly just watched one of the big glow guys fly his 60 and 90 sized glow planes and fight the wind with them, and try to convince a guy that, yes, his Blade 400 really is mostly junk. :D
I put the 3DHS long arms back on my SHP and set the plane up with the Stoops-recommended low and high rates. I had a kind of breakthrough the last time I flew my Slick, and I realized I'm to the point where I can handle flying things with absurdly high control throws. So those long arms are back on the SHP and I'll see how it goes. I've yet to fly it since.
The Slick is still away from home. It was at Chad's for landing gear repair, and he also needs a pair Slicks for a Top Secret Project™, so I haven't had it home yet. But I'm definitely (probably) keeping it (maybe). Heh. The landing gear repair he pulled off, though, is amazing. It looks like it's never been repaired, yet it's easily twice as strong as stock. If the landing gear breaks again, it'll be because the plane is mulched.
I also realized I need to drag my Addiction out to the field. I've only flown it once since I bought it!
The weather's supposed to be good today, so I'll be heading out to South field (North still flooded, of course) after work to do some flying. Hopefully I won't be posting pictures of any mulched airplanes later... ;)
Published on May 15th, 2009 @ 09:34:28 pm , using 82 words, 767 views
... in judging the Slick as "not a plane for me".
The landing gear was repaired, and the thing was sitting there, able to be flown. So it was flown. On high rates. A tad tail heavy. And wow. It was nice. :D I even did some new maneuvers on it -- walls and parachutes. And did them pretty well, especially considering it was the first time I'd ever flown them!
So the Slick earned it's place in my hangar. I'm keeping it.
Published on May 15th, 2009 @ 06:13:33 am , using 215 words, 620 views
Well, I maidened the Slick. It didn't go so well, and I'm not sure I liked its flying characteristics. I'm a "transitional" pilot -- able to fly normal aerobatics and very comfortable doing so, but I'm just baaaaarely moving towards learning 3D. I'm very comfortable now with my SHP and I'd hoped the Slick would be a slightly larger, better flying version of that plane, but I'm thinking now...maybe not so much.
It was fun though flying it around, it just all went to hell when it came time to land. I had to make a few passes before even getting a shot worth taking, then I put it in kind of hot. Not super hot, but yeah, fairly hot, and it did way more damage than I would expect. The landing gear sheared at the blind nuts; just ripped right out of the wood. And of course, the wheel pants said "NOM NOM NOM, wing covering!" so now my wings are always going to look like ass. And not nice ass either. :/
So, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. My friend Chad is interested in buying another Slick, so mine may end up in his hangar, and I'll go sulk in my SHP-corner. :/
Oh well. Maybe I should've stuck with warbirds!
Got the 3DHS Slick in, took it over to The Shop(tm) and, well, it's nearly ready to maiden. The weather needs to cooperate. Thunderstorms and 20mph winds supposedly today, so that's Right Out. Tomorrow, maybe. Friday I've got something else scheduled and Saturday we'll be at Sheep Street, south of Indy. I may be able to fly towards evening on Sat, but probably not till Sunday!
The Slick's every bit as nice as I'd expected. Everything is perfectly built and goes together like it's supposed to. The "bad" part of these planes is the covering is so high quality it's hard to cut the openings for servos and the like. ;) That's a good "bad" thing, though.
There's 3 motors people commonly run in this bird, and I got the kind of "middle of the road" one, the 720kv Torque motor. It should be a good match for my flying. My friend Chad's putting the Hacker setup in his, and that's the motor the plane was more or less designed around. Then there's the Reaper GR-45, which has insane power. Chad's planning to build a second Slick with that setup. I expect the wings will rip off. :D
There was a thread started on RCGroups, asking which plane was better, the 55" 3DHS Extra SHP (which I own the 47" version of), or another similarly-sized plane from one of the "Big Guys". I personally think it was meant as a troll post, since that's sort of akin to asking "what's better, a 1970 Toyota Corolla that's missing 2 tires, or a Ferrari..." But anyway, various people responded, most of them with surprising restraint and class, especially for Teh Intarwebbernetz. Even Ben, the owner of 3DHS, finally responded, basically saying that the two planes really fill completely different needs, and that both of them were very nice, for what they're meant for.
My take on it is this (and I posted such). The planes from the "Big Guys", many of them fly pretty well. The fit and finish on the ARFs is "ok", if highly variable from time to time. These items fill a niche in the hobby. They're widely available, because every LHS carries them. So, basically, they get people into the hobby, and if they don't have bad luck and choose the wrong model, they provide a (sometimes) nice experience getting in. But when you get a little experience and start looking at what else is available, you end up finding the smaller guys, the more customer focused companies. These are companies such as 3D Hobby Shop, Precision Aerobatics, Hyperion, companies like that. Then you start to see huge gaps in quality -- which directly translates to a smoother building/assembly process, and also translates directly into better flight. I compared it like this: The "Big Guys'" planes are the beater you got when you turned 16 and got your license. Sure, it was cool, YOU HAD A CAR!!!!!!!@@ But, it was pretty basic. The higher quality stuff is the car you bought when you became an adult and bought the first car you wanted to buy. It's what you wanted, and it drove, looked, and performed much better than that beater.
I didn't manage to do the biking thing yet. I realized I don't really want to hang out at work all day in biking shorts, and I've got nothing to tote a change of clothes in, LOL. So I ordered a bag at Hodson's and it'll be in soon. And today it's supposed to pour anyway. I'm going to do it though! Heck, it's one of the reasons we bought the bikes in the first place. The vehicle I drive to work, while nice (and we have equity in it!), has a 5.7l gas sucking beast in it so it's not exactly a great idea to put a lot of miles on it anyway!
You may notice that I mentioned up there that we'll be at Sheep Street on Saturday. About 3 weeks ago we bought a spinning wheel. Apparently you can't just buy them off the shelf; they're more or less custom-built as needed. So now it's time to go pick it up! Which means a fun road trip! And a stop at The Strange Brew, easily the best coffee shop in Indiana! (Though Greyhouse is a close second, and local!) It'll be a fun road trip.
There's probably an old entry here on SoD from when we bought these bikes (she has a matching one); I believe it was back in 2006 (maybe 2007). I did ride it a bit after I got it, and she rode hers a bit. She starting having some hardcore tailbone pain after a short ride, and so she stopped being able to ride, and so I didn't ride much either. Now, though, I really want to ride to work a couple days a week. It's only 4.8 miles one way, no big deal at all. It'll save money, and the scary thing is, it might save time on certain days, the way traffic gets sometimes. Either way, it'll be fun and good for me.
While it was in, I had them put on tail lights and a headlight, since when I leave in the morning it'll be dark, as I come in at 5:30. Lots of gadgets strapped to that bike now. ;)
I also picked up a pair of Specialized biking shorts. I've rode in jeans all my life, but what the heck, it's supposedly a lot more comfortable if you wear proper clothing, especially in "certain areas" (use your imagination) so I picked them up. They're the style that look like normal shorts, and have the form-fitting "biking shorts" concealed inside. Very comfortable.
So I'm probably going to ride to work tomorrow morning. We'll see how it goes!
Published on May 11th, 2009 @ 07:32:25 am , using 521 words, 786 views
Got in a couple more flights last night on my SHP. Getting very comfortable with the plane, and landings are definitely getting better. Not flipping it on landing anymore. The SHP lands quite a bit differently from other planes I'm used to, so it's taking several flights to get landing dialed in. I'm going to try a suggestion from many people on RCGroups and that is to put in a programmed mix with a tiny bit (2%) of down elevator on low throttle only, to help combat the ballooning that the plane wants to do when you slow it for landing.
On these last two flights, I did quite a bit of tumbling and other "insane, sticks into the corners" type maneuvers, and started trying to harrier it a lot more. Harriers will take some work for me, as I've always been a lazy rudder flier, and you've got to use that rudder in harriers.
I bought my friend Chad's Precision Aerobatics Addiction, blue version. He had a bad run of luck last week and blew out no less than 3 (!!!) motors. 2 of them due to a completely faulty ESC, the other due to, well, probable abuse. ;) So he needed some cash to get back up and running, I wanted an Addiction anyway, so... I bought his. Flew that a single flight last night. It flies weird, of course, as it is a pure 3D airplane. While the SHP and most of the other 3DHS birds can fly normal, the Addiction really is meant to do 3D only. Got it trimmed out on my TX and flew it a bit, tumbles and sloppy-ass harriers. It's a fun plane. ;)
Tomorrow my 51" AJ Slick from 3DHS will come in. I got the full setup direct from 3DHS: the airplane, Torque motor and speed control, and servo package with Du-Bro long arms and extensions. The plane should fly exactly as it was meant to, since it's being built with all recommended components. I'm pretty excited to get that plane up and going. As nice as the SHP is (and it IS a very awesome plane!), the Slick is even nicer (and a bit bigger too!).
These smaller airplane manufacturers, like 3D Hobby Shop and Precision Aerobatics, are doing an amazing thing for the hobby. For a little less than it would cost you to field an airplane from one of the "Big Boys" such as Horizon or Tower, you can field one of the 3DHS or PA birds, and have a much, much higher quality airplane. And the customer service is amazing. The owners of these companies actively participate on forums such as RCGroups, and engage in friendly talk with the pilots of their products. It's really cool to be posting about a plane you own, and the owner of the company that made it (or in many cases the very designer of the plane!) will chime in and offer advice, or even just say "hey, cool, glad you are enjoying the plane!". You rarely, if ever, get that with the "Big 2" companies. And again, these airplanes are considerably better quality all around... for less money!
Published on May 6th, 2009 @ 06:11:10 am , using 281 words, 2538 views
So, there I was, wondering if the hundreds of rabid fans were just dead wrong about the SHP being an awesome airplane. I saw a little of it, with the big 3700mah pack in there; it balanced with that. But that pack is 330g, vs. 184g of the ~2220mah packs. And the plane is designed for the smaller, around 2200mah battery packs. And I have a lot of packs in that size. I want to use them!
So I figure... The plane flies fine with the heavier pack. How much weight would I need to add to get it to balance with the lighter packs? Turns out, 28g (1 ounce!). That's it. 4 7g pieces of lead in the nose, and she balances perfectly with the lighter packs!
As far as flying, wow, yeah... I'm in love! It lives up to everything I'd hoped, and more! Inverted? No problem, only a tap of elevator needed. I did my first (albeit sloppy) knife-edge flight, and some really, really sloppy harriers. Very happy now!
The next plane to enter my hangar will be another 3D Hobby Shop plane -- the 51" AJ Slick. I flew one, briefly, as my friend Chad owns one. He flies with full 3D-style control throws and zero expo (lunatic!), so it was "interesting" but I see with some expo and slightly lower rates I'm going to love that plane too. It should arrive early next week. This will also be my first 4s-powered plane. It seems such a little difference, only 3.7 more volts, but everyone says 4s vs. 3s is a night and day power difference. I can wait to see how it goes. I have 4 3000 mah packs coming from China.
We went to Indiana Beach yesterday, and rode some rides!
Normally that wouldn't be a big deal for anyone living around here. But if you've been following this blog for a while, you know we're finally able to be able to do this. Sure, we could've gone last year or even the year before, but we didn't. Before that, we wouldn't fit on any of the rides.
Heh, so, we went, and ... it was awesome. We had a ton of room even. Which of course made the rough wooden roller coasters feel even rougher. ;)
If you've never been to IB, wow, they have some awesome wooden coasters there -- the Hoosier Hurricane and the Cornball Express. Both very rough, well designed wooden coasters. There's also the Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain... a very unique coaster that starts with an elevator, and then plunges into a very twisty, droppy, mostly dark insane trip. Very fun.
It was also nice just walking around there and having it be "no big deal". The walk up and down the boardwalk used to feel like a hike, but now it's just ... nothing.
Published on May 4th, 2009 @ 06:22:49 am , using 563 words, 692 views
Well, I got 2 flights on the SHP on Saturday.
The first, out at the club's North field, got cut a little sort by impending floodwaters. Sigh. It went fairly well, much better than the maiden. It was still flying very tail heavy but not quite so bad. With the improved control resolution it was easier to deal with. Landing was a pain; it wanted to balloon like mad every time I dropped throttle below about 1/4, which makes landing a pain. But I got it down and fled the oncoming flood. :D
Later that day I took it out to the club's South field, which doesn't flood, and gave it another shot. The plane had been flying as if it were very tail heavy, and according to the recommended balance point, it was. Even sliding the battery all the way forward it still was. So, I tried a heavier battery. The batteries recommended for this plane are 3-cell (3s) lipo packs, in the 2200 mah range. These packs weigh around 180-190 grams. I have a 3s 3700 mah pack that weighs 330 grams so I tried that. With this pack, the plane balances where it should. And it flies like it balances properly!
Now, all the guys in the RCGroups thread for this plane say basically "as long as the battery is on the tray the plane will fly fine"... I don't know what these guys are used to flying, but, umm, yeah, it doesn't fly right with the balance point an inch back of where it's supposed to be. It flies very tail heavy and it's a pain. It flies 1000% better with the balance point where it's supposed to be.
I did some work on the balance situation and have it balancing more or less where it's supposed to, with the smaller, lighter packs. They need pushed way forward, but it should be manageable. Flight testing of this setup should come today or tomorrow.
I'm also going to be getting up one more plane for this season, and I'm not sure which one yet. I have the Hyperion Extra 260, 40e size that I traded a friend for, and I can't wait to fly that. It's a big plane, 54" wingspan, and flies on 4s packs. I've flown it before, when my friend owned it. It flies very well. But, I've got one more plane I can do, and I'm not sure what it will be.
I could go with the Precision Aerobatics Addiction. It would be an awesome plane, probably the best, for learning 3D-type maneuvers on, but 3D is kind of all it can do. I've got sport planes sort of covered with the Hyperion 260 and the SHP (and my MUS as well), but I do like versatility...
There's also any number of 3D Hobby Shop planes I could get going... An Extra SR, 51" AJ Slick, 47" Edge or Velox, or even the 49" Sukhoi. They're all good planes, and have some versatility.
Or I could go with a Hyperion plane. They make a lot of very nice airplanes in a wide range of sizes. Warbirds and aerobatic models. I've been looking at their 70e size Chipmunk for a long time. It's a big 64" bird, for flying airshow-style aerobatics with.
So, I've got decisions to make... But I can't do it until an annoying non-paying-bidder situation is worked out with eBay that's tying up some funds.
Published on May 1st, 2009 @ 07:44:15 am , using 288 words, 874 views
Well, the SHP finally had it's maiden flight on Wednesday. It survived the flight, but it was certainly a challenge to get it back down safely. I thought I had it all setup perfectly, according to the infamous Extra SHP Sport Setup, with greatly reduced control throws compared to the hardcore 3D setup and all. But...
I forgot to consider mechanics. :D See, I used the 3DHS 3D control arms, since I will eventually progress to flying 3D maneuvers and will then need the full 3D control throws. But right now, I'm just flying on "sport" throws which are very small compared to 3D. So, ok, I needed a lot less throw, so I dialed it down using end points and dual rates in the radio setup. Some of my rates were as small as 17%. Everything's fine right? Just get the throw you want, using any means you can, right? No. I was wasting around 80% of the servo's resolution, completely losing all mechanical advantage, and making the plane fly a little weird.
But, I got it in the air, flew it around, and landed it. And it's in one piece, looking good as new. After checking with RCGroups people, I realized where I'd gone wrong, and so I took off the 3D control arms, and installed the standard Hitec arms. Boom, proper sport throws @ 100% endpoints/rates. It should fly a ton better now. :)
I also just upgraded my transmitter, from a Spektrum DX7 to a JR 9303. 2 extra channels, a lot more programming features, and a much higher build quality. Gimbal and case quality is much higher. It's likely the last transmitter I'll ever need, unless I become very wealthy and get into turbine-powered jets and need 12 or 14 channels.
Published on April 27th, 2009 @ 06:03:55 am , using 292 words, 22479 views
Well, after an annoying soldering job, the SHP is very nearly ready for a maiden flight. The speed control I'm using (a Castle Creations TB-54) had apparently been used, even though I bought it as new. Someone had apparently pulled the red wire out of the connector to the RX previously (which disables the built-in BEC - a normal thing to do), and then re-inserted it. Badly. So, when all 4 servos were asked to deflect to full, not enough current was able to be delivered and the servos would all twitch and the RX would brown-out. Not good. Had that happened in flight, I'd be out a plane. Sooooo, desolder the Deans connector, and solder in an external BEC. Pain in the butt. But, it's done now and all works fine.
The only thing really left to deal with is some control slop in the rudder and one of the ailerons. Not sure how I'll fix it, but I'm sure someone from RCGroups will have ideas.
Then, the bird can fly! That is, once the wind goes away. We've had 15-20 mph winds for the last 3-4 days. And not just steady winds -- it's gusting randomly from all directions. Bad for any flight, triply bad for a maiden. Oh well. Save the plane, be patient!
But I don't want to be! I want to fly this bird...badly.
My new transmitter, a JR 9303 will be here Wednesday. I got a fantastic deal from an RCG'er so I went for it. This is likely the last new transmitter I'll ever need. I'm pretty excited to get it -- the feel of the controls is considerably better than my current TX, plus the 9303 is 9 channels vs. 7 and the programming is a lot nicer.
Published on April 25th, 2009 @ 08:03:42 pm , using 271 words, 712 views
Well, I didn't get to fly, due to insanely chaotic winds, but I did take a road trip to the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) headquarters and museum in Muncie. It's about a 120 mile trip and was well worth it!
The museum has a huge collection of models spanning the entire history of model aviation, from the early free flight days, through control line, and finally early and modern radio control. There is a truly staggering number of models housed there.
Also housed in the museum is a complete mock-up of a 1950s-era hobby store, complete with dozens (hundreds?) of still-in-the-box models and other products from the era.
While in Muncie, I also met up with Jay Smith (aka Doctor Who on RCGroups) and he gave us a tour of the AMA's flying sites. Wow! There's 8 separate flying sites... it's incredible. Due to the aforementioned insane winds, no one was flying, but it was still cool to see the flying sites! I'll definitely head back there to fly sometime!
I'll leave you with pictures of the museum. An exterior shot, then a shot of one of the main areas, showing how many models are hanging from the ceiling. There are also dozens of cases full of models. Then, pictures of a couple of my favorite models.
First is a B-17, built by an elderly man who never got to fly it due to Alzheimer's disease. A beautiful model, and a shame about it's creator.
Then, an F-86 with 1500 hours of work into it. It has builder-added working speed brakes and sliding canopy, and is covered in real aluminum sheeting. Amazing model.
Published on April 24th, 2009 @ 05:38:37 pm , using 34 words, 1008 views
Got my camera back, and here's some photos of my 3DHS Extra 300 SHP!
First a shot of the box as received -- triple boxed! Then a couple shots of the plane itself during assembly.
Published on April 24th, 2009 @ 06:01:09 am , using 332 words, 976 views
So my 3DHS Extra SHP came yesterday and I went over to my friend Chad's house to work on it. The only word is ... "wow"! It comes triple boxed, very secure. Pulling the parts out of the box, I saw that the photos of it don't do it justice! The covering design, color depth, everything, looks as awesome as it does in photos!
Working on the assembly, both of us were blown away. We've got about a dozen or more ARFs between us and this is easily the best designed, easiest assembling one. Hands down.
Many ARFs use a wire bracket to join the elevator halves. On some of them, you even have to cut the channel and drill the hole yourself. It sucks. And you have to be "dead nuts" precise when doing this, because your elevator halves absolutely must be completely exactly aligned, or the plane will not fly right! Well, on this model, the elevators are joined by a thick fiberglass bar. The slots are precut. All you have to do is put it in and glue it. There's no way to mis-align it, as the bar forces it straight. It's amazing.
Everything else is similarly easy and quick! The only step that really requires any "skill" or "care" is installing the horizontal stabilizer, but there's really no way to engineer that work out. You have to slide it in, and make sure it's both centered and square with the main wings. Just has to be done manually and carefully measured. But we got it dead nuts straight.
The only thing left to do is install the servos (which are coming today from Tower and do final setup of the control throws and then maiden it! I'm super-excited!
I was so excited and blown away by the quality that I forgot and left my camera at Chad's, so I can't leave you with any pictures, but I'll post them soon along with shots of the completed model!
Published on April 22nd, 2009 @ 05:58:42 am , using 242 words, 657 views
With the weather finally looking like it's going to be steadily good, it's becoming flying season! Hopefully I can get in a lot of flying this season, and advance my skills to the point where I can fly some of the more advanced maneuvers, and move into flying some 3D.
I have the perfect plane on the way for this purpose... The 3D Hobby Shop Extra 300 SHP. A great "hybrid" plane that can be setup for sport flying or 3D, or somewhere in between. The motor for it, the Omega 103g 1030kv that was designed pretty much specifically for this plane, will be here today along with some special servo arms. The airplane will be here tomorrow, and servos on Friday.
I'll take the plane over to my friend Chad's house for the build/assembly. He's got a large basement with plenty of room to work on the plane. I can assemble ARFs at my house, but room is tight and I really don't want to fight with this plane; I want it to come out perfect.
I've got my Swift II nearly ready for flight. I just need to glue in the electronics and apply strapping tape to the airframe to strengthen it. That plane is pretty much just for messing around with, and also for participating in my club's Swift races. It's a cheap little plane for having fun with.
I'll leave you with a stock photo of the SHP...
Published on April 18th, 2009 @ 09:42:33 pm , using 230 words, 706 views
Finally got a chance to maiden my Cap 232 yesterday and it was fairly disastrous.
Seems the settings of the speed control were all messed up. When throttle was applied, the motor would spin up like normal, then 2-5 seconds later, just spin down as if I'd chopped the throttle. Didn't matter if it was full throttle or just a blip. 2-5 seconds, cut. On the ground that wouldn't be a big deal, but I was anxious to fly this sucker, and it happened in the air. Bad mojo. Destroyed the landing gear plate. An easy fix, but I was done for the day without really flying.
Apparently this ESC (A CSRC 75a OPTO) uses the cell count setting for a LOT more than just the low-voltage cutoff level. And this one defaults to something other than 3 cells...even though the manual states the default is 3s. Oh well. Settings fixed, and ESC acts normal.
Anyway, she's all repaired now and ready to re-maiden.
I ordered a 3D Hobby Shop Extra 300 SHP. This is supposedly the best hybrid plane out there. You can fly it hardcore 3D, sport fly it, even do precision aerobatics with it -- it's all in how you set it up. I'm extremely excited to get this plane in and get her in the air!
For now, though, a shot of the repaired Cap 232, eagerly awaiting flight...
Published on April 17th, 2009 @ 06:04:28 am , using 153 words, 777 views
That's the shop I'm doing this build in. It's huge, and full of planes and tools and all kinds of stuff. :) It belongs to Claude Vest, the president of my R/C club, and something of a Simitar evangelist.
Anyway, last night I finished up the sheeting of one wing panel. It takes quite a bit of time as you have to measure and cut a lot of 1/16" balsa sheets and then fit them to the panel, using flooring tape and wood glue. I'm told this is the longest part of the build. Heh, I believe it.
I've barely used any of the huge box of various wood sheets and sticks I bought for this build...
Both wing panels are sitting waiting for glue to set up, and I'll pick back up on Tuesday, when I'll finish up the other wing panel and then continue on to hopefully preparing them to be joined!
Published on April 16th, 2009 @ 08:52:37 am , using 212 words, 732 views
I'm still not sure what to do with this airplane. It's an Ultrafly FW-190 ARF, with a few dozen hours worth of scale detail work put into it. I can't take credit for it; the scale detailing was all done by my friend Emmett Hall. This is his first scale job O_o. Yeah, he's good.
I was very gung ho about scale warbirds back when we started this project, but then became very interested in aerobatics/3D (and still am). Plus, flying this model would feel weird, as I'd feel I have to be VERY careful with it so as not to damage it. It's a truly beautiful model, and it would be VERY easy for me to stage pictures where you literally wouldn't be able to tell if it was a model or a real airplane. So, I decided to sell or trade it to someone who would fly it like it deserved to be flown, or use it as a static display.
I have it listed for sale/trade on RCGroups, actually. There's not a lot of interest, of course, since this is essentially a $100 ARF airplane...with a few hundred dollars worth of labor put into it. So I'm considering keeping it and putting it into the air...
Published on April 15th, 2009 @ 06:07:14 am , using 228 words, 73389 views
I haven't written about the construction progress on my Wiseguy, as there isn't really much to say. And haven't taken any pictures, because honestly, unless you're also a builder, you'd be like "wtf!?!?"
The first build night, all I was able to do was sand the wing cores, and glue on the 1/4" reinforcing spars to the leading and trailing edges. My wood order hadn't come in from Balsa USA yet, limiting what I was able to get done.
The second build night, last night, I got the wing basically 1/4th sheeted. Sheets of 1/16" balsa have to be cut to fit (as several pieces), then super-strong double-sided flooring tape is put onto the wing core, then the sheeting is slowly and carefully rolled onto the tape. It's a permanent bond.
This is supposedly one of the longest parts of construction, as you have to roll the sheeting slowly to avoid cracking it, plus make sure it's a complete mold to the core.
And now for a warning. If you run your transmitter off a lipo battery (and you should: it's nice only having to charge the TX battery about once every 3 months) ... don't accidentally leave the transmitter turned on. :( Discharging lipos below 3v/cell ruins them. This one is so ruined that neither my charger nor my "cell spy" device see the thing as a battery. Replacement ordered. :D