Archive for the ‘RC’ Category.

Amazing airplane

from Trav:

Subject: you must watch this
Video (or)

local version:

I’m actually saddened by this. It’s like realizing that you are currently seeing the best sunset you’ve ever seen in your life and that no other sunset could ever be as spectacular. From that moment on, there is no need or want to ever witness another sunset.

Slope Soaring!

A few weeks ago an acquaintance I met… I think her name is Ruth, while walking in Glen Canyon Park told me that I might find people flying RC airplanes at Fort Funston. Not only are there model airplanes but there is steady wind and a cliff, making for a perfect hang gliding spot. The sky was full of hang gliders. And littered around under bushes out of the wind were slope soaring planes. Once the hang gliders landed, two guys put their planes up, a gentle soarer and a tiny little hotliner that was more hot than tiny! It’s very hard to gauge how was it was…. 120MPH? Both planes had their charms, that’s for sure. When Brandon, Larry and myself got to talking about flying, they said how there were better places to fly just to the south. Brandon pointed toward Pacifica and mentioned at least 3 good places to fly: near the public dump, on top of the mountain (but you need to be able to land in about a 10’x10′ area!) and down near the water.

So after taking in the incredibly break taking views at Fort Funston, watching the hang gliding and and RC soaring, and playing a little football catch with the guys, I went down to Pacifica.

I went down near the dump and quickly found them. It’s funny, when you’re looking for soaring planes, you have to scan the horizon and look for flying objects. Once you’ve found one, you have to watch it closely to determine what it is. If it moves relative to the ground, it’s not a kite. Then it might be a plane or might be a bird. It often takes me several seconds to figure out which it is. I love that. I love that we are flying artificial birds. With motorized planes, it’s easy to tell because birds flap their wings while (of course) planes don’t. But with soaring… at a distance, it can be quite hard to tell the difference!

I found about 6 guys flying flying wings on an incredibly beautiful hill. The flowers at my feet, the crevices of the hill, the gentle but constant wind, the sound of the surf a few hundred feet below, the 180 degree panorama of the coast and of the town nestled just inland, the setting sun partially obscured by roughly defined clouds, the glistening of the light off the water… I could go on, really I could.

They were having some playful combat and doing some soaring. Sometimes two planes would collide and as they were falling out of the sky there’d be hooting and laughter. Sometimes the pilots would recover and sometimes they’d have to climb down the hill a ways to fetch their plane, only to briefly examine it and toss it silently into the air again.

A mere smiley face does not suffice!

And I should’a brought a camera.

I flew

For the first time in forever, I flew. The Zagi flew very roughly by my unpracticed hands, with new flimsy winglets (some tape will fix that), some exposed wiring and flapping skin, new coroplast elevons, and with high and gusty winds. But I flew :-)

I can drive to the park, fly 2 batteries and bop into 7-11 for some sandwiches in under an hour. :-)

Flying in Cupertino

Rancho San Antonio County Park is 10 minutes from my office in Cupertino and it’s a great electric model aviation field. And since it’s not someone’s official field, I don’t need no stinking AMA membership.

Model Aviation Wowness

I’m starting to think about model aviation again. It’s been a long while. I had promised Ma’at that I’d get her in the air at Burning Man 2006. It still seems like a great challenge. There are two big challenges I can think of. First, finding the right plane to put her on. The Trick 1000 didn’t work very well for a few reasons. The second challenge is safety. I want to fly her over the heads of Burners at night. What I want to do is put her on a platform that can (in a worst case scenario) hit a person and have it not hurt. I’ve been hit by my Zagi a few times and the EPP foam and rear-mounted motor made the strike a non-issue. I think it’s possible to make a crash-safe plane but it’s going to take some effort to get such a plane to be able to carry the 12 oz payload of Ma’at and her batteries.

My apartment is strewn with playa-dusty airplane parts as I begin to get things together. While I was looking online for some answers to my questions, I ran across an inspiring video. Give it a view and then tell me flying isn’t uplifting and beautiful.

(Article with video link)
(Video link), Mark Leseberg at Tucson Shootout 2003.

(local version) (26megabytes)


Mostly flying the Trick 1000

That crazy plane.. I’ve had some trouble with it.

First I tried flying it with one 10-cell KAN-1050-knockoff pack. For the first flight, I tried taking off from the landing gear. Blech. It rolled. It went up, it twisted, it went down. I went to launch it again but when I held it in my hands and gave it throttle, it made a funny low buzzing sound. As I was turning it off, I felt something hit the side of my neck in my hair. It was a screw from the motor mount! That was kind of weird since I think the screw had to of hit the prop and gone in a giant arc up and then down into my hair. And I even caught it. Cool. Weird.

When I was putting it together, I had some trouble with the motor mount. See the drawing at the right. There is a mostly hollow rear motor mount (red) that’s glued to the fuselage, and a front motor mount (green) that holds the motor with the two inner (purple) screws. Trouble was (so I thought) that 1 of the 4 screws that holds the front mount to the rear mount (teal) didn’t go in tightly. I thought it would be alright. I was wrong. It is held in just with friction; the screws didn’t have enough bite, the hole was too big… whatever the problem, it didn’t stay in. So after my crash, I got out the CA glue!

It was suggested that instead of taxing, I should just toss it in the air. Gosh darn it if it didn’t work. Problem #2 & 3 cropped up. The center of gravity was way too far back and it was porpoising. Also, I only got 3 minutes of battery life out of it. But it flew!

I got it down in a hurried state, way low on battery (the problem might have been that the speed control was set to turn off at the wrong voltage. I haven’t had time to diagnose that yet… but I digress). It was a rough landing but in one piece. So I stuck 2 battery packs in parallel (I suspected I’d have to do this so I bought 4 packs, all the same :-) ). I brought it out to the field, got ready to toss it, reved it up and CRACK!

The foam forward of the motor mount (denoted in sad yellow) tore off! It wasn’t glued in well enough from the factory! So that was that for my flying day. I got it home, took out the fiberglass tape and epoxy and went to town. The nose ain’t falling off anymore! (See picture)
You’ll also notice in the picture that the bottom screws are larger than the top screws. Well, both of them had started coming loose so I went goofy on it. I drilled out the holes a little larger, cut down some long screws and screwed them in the holes and then I epoxied the shit out of them! The little circles in the fuselage are toothpicks (slathered in epoxy) I drove into it to reinforce. You’ll also notice the wear marks on the prop. It only got 1 more flight before cracking (I flew into a house… the house won)

Blah blah blah…. I got one 15 second flight out of it on Saturday morning. On board was 2 batteries, all the lighting, and the power module for the lighting. It’s a heavy plane! It took off and I couldn’t give enough right aileron to keep it up. I think the lighting was interfering with it. Nevertheless. It flew. Since I was out of time, I repaired the damage (House 1, Plane 0) and boxed it up for the trip to Burning Man. No wait. It didn’t fit in the box. I had to leave for the container in 30 minutes and I didn’t have a box big enough for the tail section!! ACK! The boxes I thought would fit…. didn’t I started driving toward the bike shop to make my own box out of a bike box…. then I turned around and started driving toward Hackettstown because it was closer, and “I would have to find something.” And I turned home with a plan.

I took a utility knife to the epoxied tail. I took a screwdriver to the landing gear. And darnit, I made the plane flat. I made it fit in the hard case I found at a junk yard in Vermont that I had gotten for this very purpose. (Well, I was going to use it for the Projeti, but the Projeti didn’t fit in it. It was only still in the garage because I didn’t have time to get rid of it (and I was secretly thinking that I had to find SOME use for it. Well I did!))

I put the Trick 1000 in a box. Projeti in a box. Tools in a box, supplies in boxes. bike in a box. I strapped the bike box to the roof of the Jaguar (finally, a good use for the Jag!) and I was Brooklyn bound!

My main piece of art, what I’ve worked on for 50 hrs+ MIGHT fly. It MIGHT light up in the air (only briefly tested!). Then again, maybe it won’t. Maybe it’ll melt in the heat of the container. Maybe it’ll rock.

Buying Last Minute Parts

Tuesday: I finished the plane! I put the batteries in. I tested the controls. ACK! One of the servos is bad! ACK! It takes 3 weeks for warrantee service! ACK! The nearest hobby store has recently proven that it regularly doesn’t have the most essential supplies (last week I asked for Deans Ultra connectors and Zagi props. No go.) I called him up and PHEW, he had them. Grumble, grumble, I had to drive 30 minutes each way just for this little 0.2 oz part on Wednesday.