Dec 28, 2010

Phoenix Sim Version 3.0

I've previously written about the Phoenix sim, which I strongly believe is the best for the money. One of the great things about Phoenix is the free updates. Currently they are at version 2.5, but 3.0 is offered on the download page as a beta product.

Phoenix is about the only reason I keep the Windows OS on a computer. Version 3.0 reaffirms that I'm going to have to deal with Windows for a while longer. The user interface has been reworked, and I find it much easier on the eyes. Function has also been enhanced, better widgets and on-screen indicators and a new toolbar system. Graphics have been enhanced, water spray, enhanced zoom for small models etc. Flying with buddies is now supported, as well as many more online flying options, including online competitions.  You can now fly combat against AI as well, making for a very challenging game.  This is just the tip of the iceberg on what has been changed.

Overall a great update from Phoenix. To read the beta change logs visit http://www.phoenix-sim.com/news.htm

Dec 21, 2010

Parkzone F4U Corsair RTF

While in Montana this summer, my brother-in-law was generous enough to give me the opportunity to fly his Parkzone F4U Corsair.  I'd never flown a warbird before, and up to that point, I didn't have any experience with brushless electric motors.

One nice feature of the plane is the scale detail and wonderful paint scheme.  I was surprised at the amount of power this little airplane has.  The plane is capable of general aerobatic maneuvers, loops, rolls, and spins are all a piece of cake.  When flying more docile, the plane behaves very well and slows down good for landing.

Only problem I witnessed with the plane was with the landing gear.  The gear can very easily tear out of the holders on the wing, and when you try to repair the plastic landing gear clip in the wing, you run the chance of damaging the Z-foam.  Other than that, it seems to be a solid plane!

Dec 19, 2010

Montana Flyin

This summer we made the long trip from Oregon to Montana to visit my brother & sister-in-law.  My brother-in-law shares my same general interests of all things with wings, and he had his eye on a fly-in he'd read about in the local paper.

We traveled out to Three Forks, Pogreba Field for the 33rd annual fly-in.  The day was extremely hot, and with the wives and babies in tow we set off looking at all the interesting aircraft present.  As one might imagine, a little bit of everything was present.  There were antique, modern, homebuilt, and war-birds represented.  You can check out more about the Three Forks Fly-in at http://www.belgrade-news.com/

We noticed one really spiffy looking older aircraft, a 1928 Travel Air, sitting on the tarmac.  At one point we noted some people climbing into the airplane, and soon the engine fired and it soon took off .  It looked like the pilot was giving rides, so we thought we'd try our luck.  When the plane returned we headed on over and asked if we could catch a ride, about that time a lady came over and asked if her and a friend could get a ride.  The pilot politely answered that he wasn't really giving rides, but that he'd just given one to a lady that had never ridden in an airplane.  We asked him what he normally charged, and then we tried to bribe him with more money!  He finally broke under pressure, and told us he'd take us up for normal fee (which was crazy cheap).  We all hopped in and went on what turned out to be a very interesting ride.

About eight minutes into the flight, a Montana thunderstorm started to brew.  The temperature dropped and the plane started to bounce with the crazy air currents.  The tower called and offered the idea that it'd be good to land.  The pilot was already working on heading back to the airport, and I was getting a little nervous as we got lower.  Turning on final to line up with the runway, I noticed that we were being pushed sideways in a crosswind landing.  Also, I noticed that the airplane was not lined up with the runway.  The airplane touched down on the grass strip between the runway and the taxiway, and rolled out over the bumps to a stop.  Getting out of the plane the pilot was muttering about how that wasn't any fun, and he told someone to tie it down as he went off to have some drinks...

A National Air Tours Plane Link
1928 Travel Air



Three Forks from the air
Baby child hanging out with the airplanes!




Dec 14, 2010

FAA - Regulating UAV's and hopefully not Model Aircraft

The AMA has some interesting information regarding the regulations the FAA is proposing for UAV's.  While so far model aviation has been spared any new regulations, the story isn't over yet.  The issues surrounding UAV's in the airspace is certainly complex, and while the main issue is safety of manned aircraft, other issues like privacy from aerial photography keep cropping up.  Certainly something to keep an eye on this year.

For more information check out http://www.modelaircraft.org/aboutama/gov.aspx

Dec 7, 2010

Blu-Cub 3 Channel Flight Video

The weather has not cooperated with my desire to fly outside lately, so it was with great satisfaction that I noted little wind early on a Saturday morning.  We live just a few blocks from the local high school, so the whole family headed over for a jaunt around the track, and of course a few flights with my new Blu-Cub.


Dec 1, 2010

AMA Park Pilot Program

When I was younger, I was a card carrying AMA (Academe of Model Aeronautics) member.  I took a short break from the hobby, and when I got back into it, park flyers were everywhere making it possible to fly almost anywhere.  At the time I didn't see the need to join the AMA, as I wasn't flying at a club.

Recently this has all changed, first of all the AMA realized that they could create a new membership tier that is aimed at people who fly small aircraft.  The Park Pilot program offers a cheaper membership to the AMA with a few limitations.  Clubs can choose to allow you to join with the PP card, or they can deny you membership till you have a full AMA membership.  A weight restriction of 2 lbs and a top speed of 60 mph, has been set on PP models.

After much contemplation, I decided to join the Park Pilot program and see what it offered for me.  One thing I've enjoyed is the quarterly Park Pilot Magazine.  It is full of insightful reviews, aircraft plans, and new product information, all aimed at small electric aircraft.  Additionally, I have been able to see other Park Pilot members in my area (currently very few).  At some point I would like to try and start a club for electric flight, aimed at indoor flying in the winter and park flying in the summer months.

Check out http://www.theparkpilot.org/ for more information.

Nov 29, 2010

Flite Test - Insightful, clever, and humorous videos!

Recently I stumbled across some great videos on YouTube.  The production of these videos is great, it reminds me of something you might see on a cable networks hobby channel.  Flite Test is the name of the group which consists of Josh, Josh, and Chad.  Chad appears to be the producer and shows up in segments from time to time, the team of Josh and Josh handle the reviews.  One Josh serves as the commentator and the other is the colorman.  I'm adding a link on my blog list to their blog, it has great content.  Hopefully what they have out now is just the start of lots of great content to come.  

Here is a one of their videos that goes over the basics of how to choose a prop.  Great video.

Nov 28, 2010

Microsoft Flight

The Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise came to an end with Flight Sim-X, as in January 2009 Microsoft closed Aces studios.  Knowing that Flight Sim was quite a popular game, one might imagine that Microsoft is looking to get back in the business of flying games.  Recently Microsoft did that with the announcement of Micorosft Flight. The official website http://www.microsoft.com/games/flight/, does not have much information, just a FAQ and a few videos.

We do know a little, it will be a Microsoft Live game with multi-player connectivity.  One could speculate that it will be aimed at gamers rather than simmers, but Microsoft is promising it will still have all the sim functionality we desire.  Best of all, the game has been built from the ground up with new code.  This should help it to run more efficiently on todays hardware.

A release date has not yet been set, but I'll be keeping an eye out for that and the required hardware specs.

Nov 27, 2010

Blu-Cub 3 Channel

My goal for the rebuilt Blu-Cub was to build a lighter airplane, and to add an under-camber wing.  The original plans are from Gene Bond, who seems to have many other great foam plans on this webpage. http://www.genebond.rchomepage.com/  (click the other plan link) seems the site has some dead links.

I modified the 3D cub plans ever so slightly by cutting a curve into the top of the fuselage for the under-camber wing, extending the wing length to 31" and removing the ailerons.  I built the under-camber wing by cold rolling the foam halves over a table edge to give them some curve.  I placed a roll of duck tape under each wing tip for dihedral and then epoxied the wing halves together.

The Blu-Cub 3D called for two crutch pieces on either side of the fuselage, so for this plane I just glued two fuselage pieces together. Other than that the only major change was that I added a landing gear made from piano wire to this plane.  Weight without battery was 4.5oz and with battery it comes to about 7oz. As you might imagine, this plane flies entirely different.  It floats in for landings, has plenty of power to do loops, and it is a joy to fly.  Flight times with my 800mah battery are around 15-20 minutes.


Blu-Cub on Track

Blu Cub flexible motor mount

Blu Cub ready for take off

Nov 21, 2010

Blu Cub 3D Flight Video

As you can see from the video, this planes weight made 3D flight impossible.  It was like flying a lead brick with wings.  I was happy to have a few incidents involving power lines and trees, to help me get past this airplane and onto a new one.  Thankfully, I just lost a few hours time, and about $3.50 on the airframe.


Nov 17, 2010

Blu-Cub 3D

The next plane I decided to build was determined by the electronics that I had on hand.  My battery, motor and esc combination was this, a ten amp esc, an 800mah battery, and a motor designed to be used with a plane up to 8 oz.  I found plans for the Blu-CUB 3D @  www.rcgroups.com and decided this would be a good plane to build.

 There are numerous build threads online, and they all generally go the same. You cut out the foam pieces, and you glue them together with hot glue.  Control surfaces are attached with packing tape.  I used plastic control horns, and fashioned my push rods from old ones I had.  I installed the components and weighed my airplane.  It came in to 6.6 ounces without the battery - and over 8 with the battery installed.  I used 3 HS-55 servos, and this made the airplane a little bit heavier than I had intended.  Also, I used oodles of duct tape, and it all added up to a overweight flying machine.  The plane flew, but I couldn't do a roll from level flight, and flight times were fairly short.  Time to start thinking about airplane number two...  


The vacant double lot next to the house serves as my flying field.  Problem is there are trees, telephone wires, and cars driving down the street on my runway....  I flew into a tree on the tenth flight or so, then on a later flight I hit a telephone wire.  The plane would have last much longer had I not decided to not repair it.  I decided to pull it apart and build a lighter airplane.  

Nov 12, 2010

Cheap Foam Airplanes


Upon visiting with fellow flyers, I have been persuaded to try my hand at making my own cheap airplanes. The RC forums are loaded with instructions and encouragement for creating these planes. I spent several evenings reading the forums and learning all I could about making airplanes out of foam. The airframe of these airplanes can be made very cheaply, using insulation foam, carbon fiber, packing tape, hot glue, epoxy and all the electronic goodies that really make it fly.
At the first chance I had, I headed off to Lowe's to buy DOW Blucore or Protection Board 3, the insulation foam and main ingredient. I found Protection Boar, it comes in a bundle of 1/4" sheets. Each sheet is about 2'x4' and the total length is 50'.

Without doing any free advertising, I'll say that I was made aware of a certain Hong Kong based online RC hobby store. Finding this store has finally made this hobby somewhat affordable. I made a few orders to purchase motors, batteries, esc's, carbon fiber tubes, control horns, etc and stockpiled the goods until I had decided what plane to build.
After getting a few plans from the internet I've set in building and learning. I decided to build RC Powers Extra 300 as my first plane. I cut out the pieces, assembled it and then realized that I didn't have the right combination of esc, motor and battery to make it fly. Oops! Time to build another plane.




Aug 5, 2010

The Sukhoi - Continued

After a long winter of not being able to fly the Sukhoi, the problems are all fixed, and it turns out to be a fun little airplane after all. The winter months have brought occasional nice weather here on the west coast, and it's given me the flying bug anew.
I went to the LHS and picked up the parts need to repair the linear servo that wasn't working. I carefully removed the servo board from the airplane, and flipping it over, I found a cold servo joint, and a disconnected servo motor wire. This was very annoying, here I thought the plane needed a new servo, because somehow it had gotten burned out. Horizon tech support said my tail wheel may have caught in the grass and stripped the gear... I fell for that, should have figured it'd take more than that to burn out the little motor, my micro Cessna certainly had much rougher handling than my new Sukhoi ever got and I never had a problem with the little servos. So, now after taking this thing apart, I find its crummy craftsmanship. After a few minutes of soldering, the problem was fixed and the servo was working good as new.
Now to fix the prop strike problem :) I'd read on the forums that the GWS 5040 prop with prop adapter was the hot ticket. It certainly makes this plane fly much better, and only takes a minute to install. So, now I had a prop that wouldn't strike, servos that moved, and enough lead in the tail to keep it from acting like a lawn dart, time to see how it'd fly.
I was a little nervous as I headed to the field to fly, but the jitters soon disappeared as I started calculating the wind direction and finding a spot on the track to takeoff. The plane flys much nicer with the 5040 prop, I could do loops with no problem, and general speed seemed a little faster than with the stock prop. Landings were much smoother, I could come in level with no prop strikes. Overall, I was very happy with the performance of this plane. Now that the price is down to 89.99, I would even recommend it, just buy knowing you'll be needing to modify to fly.

Jun 19, 2010

X-Plane as a RC Flight Simulator


I've recently switched entirely to Ubuntu Linux as my primary operating system. Phoenix Flight Simulator has been my primary sim for the last few years, and it only runs under Windows. This got me searching for a solution to a very big problem. In the meantime, I'd been looking for a replacement to Flight Sim-X for Linux, and that is when I found X-Plane.

As far as flight simulators go, X-plane is pretty far advanced. However, for an RC fligh simulator it still lacks a few things. I tried a trainer, and a 3d
airplane,
the trainer at high speed was pretty wild, and the 3d plane was almost uncontrollable. The view that seems to work best is "From the Runway" which puts yo
u at almost ground level on the center end of the runway. Problems start here when you fly to far away, there is no auto-zoom like you find in an RC sim, so keep it in close.

Here are a few shots from the sim. You'll notice that this sim does have a view to fly right from the airplane. This is nice, but it doesn't really help you get better at flying RC airplanes.

Overall, it is decent, and could help a person work on orientation etc. However, you have to find RC models on the net and install them, so your aircraft options are limited out of the box. You also will have to contend with some view issues, such as no auto zoom, and you'll have to get a non-proprietary cable so you can connect your radio. Certainly might be worth it if your running Linux, but if you have Windows, there are other great options available for a RC flight sim, and at this point in the X-Plane series, RC is not the focus.....

May 29, 2010

The final chapter of the Sukhoi

My repair to the Sukhoi appeared to have been slightly faulty. You need to more than two dabs of hot glue and two dabs of CA to hold the board in. While doing a loop, it appears that the board came disconnected and my plane went into a nose dive straight into the local high school track. The extra lead on the tail for balance didn't help any :) The plane fantastically busted into 10 pieces, which I gather up and stuffed into my pockets and headed home. I was able to glue all the little pieces of foam back together, except for the missing ones. For any holes that I had left, I used light weight spackling compound.

Now that my Sukhoi is thoroughly broken in, I figure I can fly it however I like. Not long after I started flying again, I lost a wheel, so I decided to put the good wheel into my parts drawer and make new wheels. Laminating two pieces of thin foam together with CA was easy, cutting a circle, not so easy. The wheels work quite well, even though they are not entirely round.

And now, Parkzone has realized that the original Micro Sukhoi has lots of issues, so they decided to recreate the airplane and release it as a brand new plane. The original Sukhoi is now only $69.99, making it a great deal. At the current price, I'd definitely recommend it.

Jan 4, 2010

What is with Horizon Hobby and Release Dates?

First it was the Micro Sukhoi, now its the Micro Piper Cub and 4-Site. Horizon has been struggling to post a plausible release date for these little micro airplanes. Initially, I was quite optimistic that things would get better, but that does not appear to be the case. It appears that because these little planes are made in China, shipping is the biggest holdup in getting them to the west. Our current global market is not favoring large shipping vessels, and they won’t sail till they have them packed full of goods. Americans aren’t buying said goods, so boats aren’t setting sail at a pace that would keep us in airplanes.

While Horizon may not be able to solve the wider issues related to shipping, or errors in product… It would be good if they learned to just level with the customers, and tell us it will be six months before we get their latest greatest product. Instead they dangle a carrot in front of our nose, and as each month passes, the carrot gets no closer. It might work with donkeys, hmmmm…. Maybe that is why they think it’ll work with American consumers... If they had true brilliance, they wouldn’t even tell us when a new plane was developed, they’d just wait for it to be shipped, distributed and ready for sale, then send out the advertisements. One thing is for sure, they’d have fewer customers mocking them in internet forums for not being able to pin down a release date.

Jan 2, 2010

Sukhoi 26m Video

Here is a short blurry video of the 26m getting put through its paces out in the yard.

Follow-up on the Sukhoi 26m

Many months have passed since my last post due to having a life. I enjoy model airplanes as a hobby, and I blog for my enjoyment as well. If I was more of a loyal blogger, I'm sure I'd already have a million people following my blog:) haha!!!

The Parkzone Sukhoi has not been that pleasing of an airplane. It's a sad little bugger on the top shelf in the garage at the moment. Here is the rest of the story...

Late September I finally get the replacement Sukhoi from Parkzone, and I'm determined to keep it in as good of shape as possible. This time around, I figure that I'd better be pretty careful as the little servos must not be able to handle much stress. Five careful flights after receiving my new plane and I'm feeling pretty good. Sixth flight, second day of flying and I have a mishap, a slight crash and the left wing bends a little and I can see I've cracked the foam wing. A little CA and accelerator and its good as new. Continued flying my plane, with nothing overly exciting happening and put it up for another day. The very next day, I'm carefully taking off from the road next to the house and trying to land back on the pavement. I'm finding that even though I trimmed the prop down, even the most careful landings resulted in a prop strike. Wanting to avoid a broken prop, I thought I'd just shoot for the grass instead of the pavement.

I gently flared my plane into the grass for a picture perfect landing. Of course I'd taken my front wheels off but the back tail wheel is affixed and catches the grass like the tail hook of a jet hitting the arresting cable on an aircraft carrier. Apparently that gentle landing contained enough force to damage the rudder servo. Upon close inspection back in garage, I noticed a slight smoky brown color on the white plastic retainer that holds the servo motor. Appears to have smoked itself. So, needless to say, I'm disgusted with the stupid little plane:) I've been contemplating selling it and getting a Piper Cub. If not, I'll have to spend $10 for a new servo, and take the time to fix it...

My recommendation on Sukhoi is to skip it. If you really want a miniture pattern type aircraft and your willing to put up with all the issues (cg, prop size, seemingly wimpy servo motors, etc.) then go for it. Hopefully there will be a second generation Sukhoi someday with some of the issues addressed.