Monday, August 18, 2008

What?? Rained Out??

Yep, you read that right! We are having some rather unseasonal weather here in Waco, Texas.

Normally, this time of year yields 100+ degree days with absolutely no end in sight to the heat. However, it's actually 73 degrees here right now (a temperature that we see if we're extremely LUCKY as the day's low) and raining buckets!

Although yesterday would have been a nice day to get some flying in, I had some family responsibilities that had to take the front seat (buying school clothes and supplies and such to get ready for some First Grade action) to my enjoyment. I figured, what the heck! The wife doesn't work this Monday, so I'll get to go out then...

Well, my next opportunity will be Thursday. If not then, I can get some time next weekend.

Rain is forecast right now through Saturday! Who'd have thunk it!?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Blu Baby 33: Progress Report

Man, it's been a hectic week! Family responsibilities have kept me from getting my "fix", but I was able to make a little progress on my AP plane. I thought I'd post a few pics to let you guys know what progress I've made thus far.

I got a motor in! I got a custom wound Blue Wonder from timocharis at RCGroups. Wow! This guy can wind a motor! It should provide plenty of power for this airplane, yet with the proper prop selection (I'm thinking a 7x3.5 GWS) it should have a very low amp draw meaning long flight times!

I decided to pull out the old Zagi tape and dress the plane up a bit, as you can see. I have various colors of the tape, but decided that blue kinda kept with the plane's name.

Unfortunately, I am kind of at a stand still with this plane for now, as I am in need of some light 1.5" wheels as well as push-rod stock. The wife is in the middle of an 11 day stint at the hospital, so I'm pretty much stuck in the house until next Saturday with this kids (I DON'T take them to the hobby ship with me! lol). I could "make" some wheels out of some 12mm EPP that I have, but I think I'll just wait. I expect my local hobby shop to have some nice wheels to choose from, and since I hafta make a trip anyway....

I've pretty much decided to go ahead and mount the servos externally. The area in the fuselage is ample, but really too tight for my big old hands. I am thinking that if I mount them on the outside, I can put my battery on the inside where the servos would normally go. This will leave the battery compartment on the bottom open, and a great place to put in my FlyCamOne keeping it fully protected in case the landing gear decides to go south on a less than perfect landing! It is also conducive to the camera shooting straight down, which is the angle I want for AP (don't you just hate seeing the propellor "bands" that show up when you get the prop in the frame?).

A few weeks ago I put the "sitemeter" tag on this blog to see how many people are following me. From the stats that I've been seeing, it appears that I have a pretty good following, so I am gonna try to post a little more often so that I don't dissapoint!

Thanks to all for following my little adventures in this hobby. I am hoping to have some fair AP footage for you all to see very soon!

Until next time!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Blu Baby 33: Adventures in AP

And now for something completely different! Well, for me, that is. On RCFlightCast (episode #16), we spoke to a gent from Canada that told us all about the Blu Baby Primary Trainer that was designed and shared by a friend of his named Tony65x55 on RCGroups. His name is Jim, and he goes by the screen name of Laserman on RCG. If you haven't listened to this episode, and you are endeavoring to get into the fascinating sport of RC Flying, listen to this episode! This is an inexpensively built aircraft that really suits newb-pilots, and with careful research on the forums ( ), you should be able to break into this great hobby on the cheap and with success!

As a seasoned pilot, I have to say that I have no interest whatsoever in "trainer" aircraft. Since I graduated from my trainer about a bazillion years ago, I have never looked back at these RET (Rudder, Elevator, Throttle) designs. I favor go-where-you-point-it performance! Trainer aircraft, while necessary for learning the coordination for RC flight, are sluggish and offer very little in the aerobatics department. Quite frankly, they make me nervous when flying them, as the reaction is too slow for a stick-banger like myself.

Anyway, since I bought a FlyCamOne, I have yet to use it for it's intended purpose - Aerial Photography. I have used it a few times for ground to air video, but I think the performance of the cam is really not sufficient for this kind of photography, so now I am on a quest to get a new cam for that and utilize the FlyCamOne for it's intended purpose. The problem is that I really don't have a slow, stable, smooth flying plane to put the cam on.

Enter the Blu Baby Primary Trainer.

I downloaded, printed, and tiled the plans for the plane on Wednesday evening (instead of getting my World Of Warcraft fix for the week). I pulled out a sheet and a half of Fan Fold Foam (FFF) and cut out all of the parts on Thursday afternoon, and after about an hour of building Thursday night, I had what you see in the pic above! The build is very simple. What you see in the pic is a completed airframe minus all electronics and landing gear and it all weighs only 4.75 ounces! I opted to build the KF airfoil wing, rather than the undercambered wing that seems best suited for beginners.

Unfortunately, I have depleted my stockpile of small, brushless outrunner motors that would be best for this plane, so I will be ordering another Blue Wonder 1100kv, 24 gram motor, as that seems to be the motor of choice by the builders in the RCG thread that I linked earlier. I intend to put a GWS 8x4 slowflier prop on it and use another 10 am PowerUp ESC along with a 3S 500 LoongMax Battery. Servos will probably be the 9 gram Hextronics HXT900's (I'll be using only two), and I'll probably use one of my small JR 72mhz receivers since I have a few that are just sitting around.

The goal here is to build a plane with an all up weight (AUW) of less than 12 ounces that will offer smooth flight with a decent flight duration. I plan to put the FlyCamOne on the belly of the plane to get decent air to ground video. I think I'm on the right track!

It may be a bit before this one is completed since I have to order some parts, but I hope to have it in the air within the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Friday, August 1, 2008

X-20: Maidened!

I got to sneak out for a quick first flight on the new X-20.


With the LoongMax 3s 500 sitting pretty far forward in the nose, the CG came in right within the range as called out in the building instructions. As usual, I had the rates set WAY too high and the flight was a roller coaster (ok, need a little right trim - will compensate on the sticks until I get some altitude. Whoa! Way too much compensation!! Now a little left. Whoa! Too much left!! You get the picture... :D ) I'm glad I forgot to charge the FlyCam to get video of this nonsense as the distraction of it stuffed into my hatband would have probably been too much and I might have destroyed the plane! I needed full focus to keep up with it!

I was able to get it down safely and then proceeded to dial in some low rates - I ended up setting it to 40% of normal and threw it in the air again. MUCH BETTER! This plane performs AWESOME but is certainly not for the weak of heart. Blipping back and forth from low rates to "super" high rates was a ball because the high rates make the little booger roll like MAD!

Half throttle flying was great, as there is still greater than 1:1 thrust to weight ratio and with a little wind, I could probably just kite it all around at around 1/4 throttle.

I estimate about a 5 minute total flight time and the battery was only slightly warm (but hey, this is Texas, so I consider that to be alright). Torque from the prop wasn't too bad, but was present. Had I not been warned to expect it, I'm certain the result would have been carnage! I'm gonna try to steal away tomorrow and fly it some more and also try out a 7x5 "speed" prop.

Final flying weight - 6.2 ounces (177 grams)
Motor: 1700kv Blue Wonder from HeadsUpRC
ESC: 10 amp PowerUP from same supplier
Prop: GWS 7x3.5 DD
Servos: 2x TowerPro SG50 same supplier (you see who I like to deal with, huh?)
Battery: 3s 500 LoongMax from HobbyCity
Construction Material: Foam safe CA, 6mm Depron, Zagi tape for color
Rx: Spektrum AR6100
Tx: "Spektrumized" JR 8103

Jason, thanks again for a fantastic design! I'm glad I took good care of my templates. I'll be building a back-up soon 'cause I'm gonna be thrashing the heck outta this plane alot!!