Mar 29, 2009

Rough Landings

The other day I was flying my Easy Glider, and I experienced a "rough landing" on a gravel road that runs through a farmers field. I was cutting across the road, attempting to land in the field, but I ran out of sky, and found myself landing directly on gravel with foam airplane. Amazingly, the foam was fine, but my right aileron servo arm touched a rock, which caused it to strip a gear.

This is the the part of model airplane flying that some people love! I don't love it, I deal with it. I spent a good 6 hours between Friday and Saturday fixing the problem. First I had to remove the servo from the wing pocket by gingerly cutting the glue from the foam. Next I took the servo apart, and replaced the stripped gears with some extra gears I had lying around. Hooking everything back up, I noticed that the servos were not centering correctly. The only way to fix that is to take the servo apart again. Every thing looked fine, so I went online and read about servo problems. Amazingly, I found a forum that was more than helpful. It looked like the gunk I'd put between the gears may have gotten into the servo pot? Taking the servo pot apart, I cleaned it with alcohol on a cotton swab, and reassembled everything. Now the servo was centering correctly, so I put it back into the airplane. However, now I can't seem to get my control throws correct, even though I have the mechanical linkage exactly the same as my left aileron. Maybe its the servo? I get a new servo and hook it up and place it in the wing, and I still have the same problem. Maybe its a setting in my computer radio? I spent 45 minutes looking through the radios instruction manual, everything there is fine. Finally, I give up and place the fixed old servo back in the plane and glue it in place. To make up for the 3mm of control throw that I can't get through the mechanical linkage, I resort to setting 120% end point adjustments in my computer radio.

Maybe I'm just to particular... Anyhow, the airplanes as good as new, and I've ordered wing tip skids, and aileron control rod fairings to protect the long servo arms, lest we have another mishap. The lesson to be had here, is that this hobby has its more frustrating moments, just like everything else in life.

Mar 14, 2009

Parkzone Sukhoi Su-26m BNF

Parkzone has unveiled their latest bind and fly micro airplane. The Parkzone Sukhoi is the first 4 channel plane offered in the popular Etomic series. This is a fully areobatically capable airplane, although it isn't supposed to have enough power to do 3D manuvers. It boasts a 110 mah battery, for long flight times. The plane is going to be offered for $99.00 for the BNF version and $129.00 for the package with the transmitter.

They aren't on the store shelves yet, but this looks to be one incredible little airplane, so my wonderful wife is going to have to preorder me one :) When I take possestion of my new airplane, I'll be sure to follow up with a review.

Mar 11, 2009

Parkzone - Vapor

The Parkzone Vapor is an amazing model. With its thin film covering stretched over carbon fiber rods it looks like a strange yellow butterfly. It's light as a feather, yet strong enough to withstand a decent amount of crash abuse. Weighing in at .5 oz this little plane packs in 3 channel control and loads of fun.

Although it is really meant to be flown indoors, on calm days it is an absolute blast to fly outdoors. I've used it as a glider, taking it over the roof of the house to catch rising heat on hot days. Be careful though, this plane can get out of sight quickly!

To top it all of, this is one of Parkzone's bind and fly models, so you can link it to an existing DSM2 transmitter and your ready to fly, or purchase it with a transmitter.

It's a reasonable, resilient little plane that keeps me interested in flying it regularly. Well worth the money!

Mar 6, 2009

Spectrum DX6i

Airplane radios provide the vital link between the pilot and their plane. Traditionally, aircraft radios have been on the 72mhz band which has been dedicated by the FCC to the hobby. However, the last few years have brought great change with the advent of first 2.4ghz for park fliers, and eventually 2.4ghz for larger planes requiring full range use.

I loved my Hitec Optic 6 and I was patiently waiting for Hitec to come out with 2.4ghz gear, which they have finally done, but the Spectrum DX6i caught my eye! It seemed to have the right balance of functionality and affordability that I strive for in this hobby. Not being able to contain myself any longer, I sold my Optic 6 on RC Universe classifieds and used the money to purchase the Spectrum DX6i.

The DX6i is a full range computer radio that can be used for airplanes or helicopters. I'd like to highlight some of the things that I didn't realize I was missing untill I purchased this transmitter.

Model match is a great feature on this radio that keeps you from flying the wrong plane, with the wrong programming. As dumb as it may be, I grabbed the wrong airplane program on my Optic 6, I had reversed controls but somehow I got the plane down safely! Now I couldn't do with out this feature.

NiCad 8-cell rechargable battery packs for radios are pain. If your transmitter battery is low, you can forget about flying untill you charge it, unless you pack a spare, and oh yah your spare better have a charge. That's how it used to be, now with the DX6i you have options. The battery compartment opens to reveal 4 AA battery slots, which will take either rechargable batteries, or disposables. And of course the transmitter comes with a charger so you can still recharge your batteries through the controller. It comes complete with 4 NiMh batteries, and I can tell you that the battery life is incredibly long compared to all the 72mhz radios I have used.

Short, stubby, rugged, and bendable is how I'd describe the 2.4ghz antenna. No more metal fishing pole or lightning rod to deal with. No more forgetting to put your antenna up. And most importantly, no spot to clip those frequency pins.

Bind and Fly models are available to owners of the DX6i. No building, just take them out of the box, bind them to my transmitter and start flying. What's not to love.

This transmitter has liberated me from so much! Granted all is not perfect. The heat of the sun losened the plexiglass on the display, and I had to glue it back on. And I wish the flaps were on a dial not a switch. Other than that, this transmitter hasn't given me much to comlain about. I'd most definetly recommend it to anyone looking for a 6 channel 2.4ghz transmitter.

Mar 1, 2009

My Multiplex Elapor Story - Easy Glider Crash

It was Thanksgiving Day 2008 and the visiting relatives, not bothered by the foul weather, wanted to see the Easy Glider fly. So, I headed off to the nearest flying site, a football field, brother and brother-in-law in tow.

With a gentle throw, my Easy Glider was air born, sailing skyward. After 10 minutes or so of avoiding all the obstacles around the football field, I decided to bring the plane back to good olterra firma. My competitive spirit kicked in as my brother said “I bet you can’t bring that plane right between the goal posts uprights when you land.” I started landing, aiming the plane right between the goal posts. Shortly thereafter, the plane’s left wing hit the goal post, 4” from the tip. My plane went into a spiral smacking the ground with a thud. I thought Thanksgiving was ruined.

Running over to the plane, I was relieved to find that the only damage was a little dent in the leading edge of the wing, and a broken canopy latch from the force of the impact. I popped the canopy back on and did one more quick flight, before heading home. Any other plane would have lost a wing.