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Confusion – the state of the “hanger” at the Skunk Works – not to mention yhe various work surfaces, reflect the hectic – and somewhat confused pace of my plunge into the current state of radio controlled model flying. I’m not bragging. This should be a bit tidier – but I am having fun! 😉 – Oh click picture for larger image to appreciate how messy things really are!Well, personally speaking, the pace is fast and furious – so many things have happened in the past couple of weeks and I have been very busy doing stuff while neglecting to write about it – reflect on it. So this is a rough attempt grab hold of things – a sort of where things are and – briefly – how they got there. Kind of helps me to pause, take a breath, and take an inventory.First here’s the remains of the original Champ – holds a place dear to me because it began this process and after many repairs and crude attempts at repainting, it has been permanently retired to a place of honor on the ceiling of the Skunk Works.The Champ taught me a lot. Today it will be the first plane I bind to the new Spektrum DX6i transmitter. In a day or two I’ll get new decals for it, as well as new tail feathers.I gave the Champ a new fuselage and wings and tail feathers and promptly lost it on one of the initial flights. I think I just got too high and the dinky (cheapy) radio transmitter that comes with it couldn’t keep contact at that distance. Or maybe I was pointing the antenna towards the plane – a no-no since the signal is weakest off the end of the antenna. In any event it was lost for about two weeks in the woods behind the Elementary School. I tramped those woods for several hours spread over at least three trips and never saw any sign of it. Then, after a bit of a wind storm, I saw the wing on the ground not 30 feet from where I parked the car and right about at the point where I last saw it. So it didn’t go far. The fuselage was still in a tree, but easy to retrieve. It was still in good shape, except the tail feathers are too damaged for stable flight – so while it does fly, it’s now on hold until new tail fetahers arrive . Meanwhile, I plan to bind it to the new Spektrum DX6I radio. In fact, it will be the first plane I bind to it.Does that blue fly thingee have anything to do with model airplanes? No. It has to do with feeling 14 years old again – of spending endless Summer days, mornings, evening tramping fields and woods in search of lost baseballs or whatever – and finding nothing – well, an old soccer ball, a baseball or two, a tennis ball, two remains of model rockets. But no Radian. Still, I love the sense of endless discovery and meaningless meandering as if there were all the time in the world to do absolutely nothing – and this blue guy was one of my many natural “discoveries.” (no I don’t have a clue what it is – except a reminder of how incredibly diverse life is on this planet.)But I kept looking up – hoping to get sight of the Radian – a six-foot glider – and or, the tiny, bright orange, Champ. And I saw neither until one day I stumbled across half od the Radian’s wing – and that wing half – they are designed to fall out this way, so no damage – lead me to the discovery fo the rest of the Radian far to high in a tree behind the Elementary School for any prayer of recovery – but I’ll keep checking after more wind storms.Can you see anything? me neither – but I know I am looking right where the Radian is hidden, high in a tree.OK – this is more like it. Now do you see it? That white panel in the middle of the tree? That’s the other half of the wing. The fuselage and tail are there too. Whether they’ll ever come down is another question – as is how much weathering the electronic equipment inside the fuselage can take.This is in wonderful form, flying fine, and I’m having a delightful time learning little things and just cruising around in the twilight in the back yard. Last Night I focused on take offs and landings – and learned that the motor was cutting out when the throttle was at about the one-fourth, to one-third from the lowest setting. That complicated the landings and that’s when I learned that there is a trim tab for the throttle that allows you to set when it gives out. So I have now reset it. Bren took this video a week or so ago of a twilight flight. Just a delightful little plane!I appeared to lose contact with the recently repaired Super Cub on a flight at the Westport Middle School. (I blame the radio, but who knows.) It augured straight in from a significant height – and instead of hitting grass it choose the one, slim macadam path available. Ouch!Cub on the emergency room operating table.Split in fuselage – again – but that’s easy with some foam-safe CA.Guts were spilling out again, too.My major problem with t e fuselage was it appeared warped – I assume just simply squashed – compressed fore and aft – and that’s the main reason I replaced it.What i didn’t notice until after I had made the major repairs and reassembled the plane with anew motor, was the motor mount itself was damaged beyond repair. Look carefully at the two images of the motors – one new and one old – and you’ll notice black plastic screwed to the back of the old one. That black plastic is the motor mount which was simply pulled apart in the crash as the motor flew out.The crash did so much damage that I decided to replace everything – I had most of the parts – so I have replaced the fuselage and wing, moving the electronic innards to the new fuselage. I also bought a new motor and when I had it all done and reassembled I discovered that the motor mount was also broken – so that’s on order. Hope to get it flying again by the end of this week. Oh -and switching to new parts gave me a chance to come up with my own color scheme – and to my surprise, I have also been able to transfer decals from the original Cub. So now it looks like this.Still love this little dude from Nine Eagles, but I haven’t been flying it because twice it spent the night in a tree. I think this depleted the battery beyond the safe limit because it is swollen – so I threw it away and am waiting for new batteries that use the same, proprietary connector. Meanwhile, I borrowed its nose for the Sky Surfer. The weakest point on the Nine Eagles stuff are the directions (they’re a parody of Chinese/English), the difficult in identifying batteries and spare parts, the slowness of delivery, and the poor response of Hobby King to complaints. That all said, I still like these planes. I learned a lot flying it, didn’t get nervous about crashes, and did manage to retrieve it from the trees – though that was a challenge both times.Why was it in the trees? Because I fly it int he back field and quarters are tight – most of the time I stay out of trouble, but I have a lot to learn. Flying it in a large open area, such as Westport Middle School, there is little chance of losing or damaging it – if you keep it in range!This ia a real neat plane with what to me is a major – even fatal – design flaw and I’m not at all impressed with the Hobby King response to this problem. I first told them about the problem and they asked for pictures. I took pictures and sent them. They asked for video – I took video and sent it. Their response?Due to we are not familiar with the product and we forwarded the case to our product specialist to inspect the issue. We will inform you once we have any news and suggestion from it.Oh boy – sounds like they’re saying we really don’t know anything about the stuff we’re selling – we’ll pass your response on. All of which I take as stall tactics designed to exhaust me so I don’t bug them for a free replacement – which is what I should get. I like the plane enough to have ordered a replacement anyways and paid for it – I did that right away. But I think I made a mistake.The problem is, my main reason for getting this plane was the ailerons – I wanted to learn to use them. And at first it worked fine. But almost any rough landing will pop off the wing and popping the wing causes strain on a four-wire electronic connector to the ailerons. (It goes between the wing and the fuselage and while the wing is held by magnets and designed to break away, this wire takes up the strain instead. Without going into details, the ailerons no longer work – mechanically they’re fine, but the electronics are shot – maybe they were defective from the start. I can’t tell. So I can set the ailerons at a neutral point by hand and fly the plane with just three channels.The bright aside of this is that in talking to an experienced flyer about using the ailerons I picked up a key point I should have known, but didn’t. When the plane is banked 90 degrees – any plane – the controls change – the elevator becomes a rudder and the rudder sort of elevator. Makes sense. Also explains why a death spiral to the left gets tighter and tighter as in a panic, I apply up elevator to try to pull the nose up – but up elevator in that case will simply increase the turn, since the elevator is acting as a rudder! That little piece of wisdom is worth the hassle of learning the hard way.Bottom line – when I get the replacement version of the Sky Surfer I will try to devise something that will give the wing some give, but not allow it to pop off and strain that wire connection – I would rather chance breaking the wing. I already know how I can do this with rubber bands.Oh yeah – I just read Sagittarius Rising by Cecil lewis. How the hell had I missed this book all my life? It is terrific. It is the most interesting, most intelligent, most sensitive book on fighter pilots in WWI I have ever read. And one of the main planes he flew was an SE5 a. (It’s on the cover.) Many years ago when we were first married Bren joined me in building balsa and tissue models. I built a Sopwith Camel – rubber powered. She built a similar SE5. So this plane has a place in my heart for more than one reason.The new model I didn’t build – I assembled it. But it took me much longer than the box predicts. They think you can do it in about an hour – it was more like four hours for me. But it was fun. No complaints. Here are the parts – and the finished product.Do I want to fly this? You bet! But it uses ailerons and until I’m used to them I am not going to risk this beauty. In general I’m real happy with it – except I don’t like where they placed the roundels – that is not where they were on the real plane and it detracts from the scale appearance. I’ll see if I can do something about that – but right now my emphasis is on flying and I want to get the hang of using the ailerons which means moving the rudder to the throttle stick – so it will take some getting used to. To help I have a Ultra Micro T28 on order – should be here tomorrow.Several people have said – and written – that this is a nice flying plane. Hope they’re right. I plan to use it as my primary trainer for ailerons now that I’ve lost confidence in the design of the Sky Surfer. (Hope the T-28 doesn’t have a similar design flaw.) I also like the tricycle gear, though it remains to be seen if this can handles even short grass, since the plane’s so small.Meanwhile, on Friday I expect the arrival of another Ultra Micro, the twin-engined Mosquito. This, too, should serve as an aileron trainer and I am pretty sure will handle the wind better than the T-28.The original plane was cool – the model looks even cooler – two engines! This should be fun. (Yeah, I sold some astronomy gear I’m not using – I’m still doing astronomy, of course, but I had a surplus of telescopes and binoculars. Selling a few items has allowed me to finance this new obsession without busting the family budget.)So that’s it. Right now I have one plane that can fly as advertised – the Night Vapor – and one that can fly like the Ruptured Duck – the Sky Surfer – albeit with the ever present concern it might throw away another prop. (Didn’t mention that, did I? The hour I spent one even searching the playing field for the red spinner and prop which simply came off in flight! That’s a design problem too. I have since read of others having the same problem.) I also have the SE5a which I am showing great restraint in not attempting to fly until my skills are improved. By the end of this week all that should change – the Champ should be back in the air, so should the Super Cub and with any luck, the Sky 500. Add to this the T-28 and the “Mossie” and my main concern will be getting some good – low wind – flying weather and keeping all the batteries charged.This is another area where the learning curve has been approached gradually. At first I took the easy way out. All this technology is new and changing rapidly. I noticed as I met others in this hobby – especially newcomers – that they call a radio transmitter a “remote.” Yikes! Feels like they’re watching too much TV! Okay, it is certain part of a remote control system. But it is only part. It is properly called the transmitter. The system consist of a transmitter, receiver, Electronic Speed Control (ESC) to act as an a throttle and control the motor, and servos to translate the radio signal into a mechanical action and control various parts of the plane.The DX6i is at upper right. It cost about $160 and can be programmed to handle 10 different planes. The DX5e I’m using with the Night Vapor now because it has rechargeable batteries and a charger incorporated in it. (It came with the Radian now a POT (Prisoner of Tree.)Essentially they can build the transmitters quite cheaply and to keep everything simple, on my first planes – the Champ, Super Cub, Radian, Night Vapor, Sky 500 and Sky Surfer O bought the “RTF” – Ready to Fly” versions, which meant everything came in one box and all electronics were already installed in the plane. That kept life simple. I knew the various parts all worked with one another. But there are three problems with this approach – it is more expensive than it has to be, you end up with too darned many transmitters, and the transmitters aren’t as powerful as they should be.The solution is to get a single transmitter which can be programmed to link to multiple planes. The one I got is at the bottom of the line, but seems to be well spoken of – and written about – by experienced flyers. It is the Spektrum DX6I and it handles most of the planes I have – in fact all except those made by Nine Eagles – the Sky 500 and Sky Surfer.Hey -when you buy a plane for $80 and you get plane, servos, ESC, battery, battery charger, motor, transmitter – well, you got to figure the transmitter is worth about $10 and you get what you pay for. it does work – but how well, how reliably, and over what distance is questionable.Whew! That’s it. Think I’ll go figure out how to “bind” – that’s what they call the marriage between receiver and transmitter – the Champ to the DX6i! Leave a Comment » | building planes, flying experiences, Repairs and mods | Tagged: aviation, model radio control, Mosquito, Night Vapor, Radian, Saggitarius Rising, SE5A, Sky 500, Sky Surfer, Super Cub, T-28 | Permalink Posted by Greg Stone OK – that’s my initial reaction to flights with the Nine Eagles Sky Surfer – hardly all successful, but all very convincing.It arrived yesterday and except for putting decals on, there’s no construction – really quite a deal for $75.What’s in the box.The Sky Surfer is much like the Sky 500 – only faster – much faster – and larger and it has ailerons. So. . . I charged the battery and went to the Middle School where there was jus a tiny bit of wind.Flights 4,5,and 6 – just fine – smooth landings and I started to really get the hang of ailerons, doing figure 8s – but the battery gave out, so the last flight was quite short – still, I turned it around and brought it back and landed at my feet. (When I got home I discovered a crack in the fuselage, probably caused by that second flight. Easy repair with foam-safe CA.)It glides better than the Sky 500 – and is really a whole lot more plane.But, they put ailerons on planes for a reason – it gives you much more control – simply feels right – once you get the hang of them. My comfort level is just beginning probably somewhere just beyond nervous wreck. I did try to slow it down and succeeded to some extent. But mainly I tried to get used to the idea that th ailerons can be used for turns – alone – or in conjunction with the rudder – and you definitely need to learn to then reverse them and level the flight after a banking turn or you’ll spiral in.Damned glad I did not try the SE-5a yet – it arrived the day before and is constructed and ready – but it will probably be a couple weeks before I fly it. I want a lot more time int he air with this Sky Surfer dude first – not to mention the T-28 Micro due next week.Second battery – went out again in the twilight. Had a good first flight – but on the second – or maybe third – I was sinking and so accelerated and was surprised to find the battery dead already – it just glided down. When I retrieved it I learned it wasn’t the battery – the prop had spun off. I suspect it had been loosened in the first couple crashes earlier in the day. I searched that field for over an hour and couldn’t spot that bright red spinner!However, when I got home I ordered a replacement, then discovered I could skift the prop from one of my Sky 500s – and I did, adding a touch of glue to it – the metal/glass kind. We’ll see how that does. The following thread on RC Groups helped me come to this decision.This post – #36 on RC Groups thread – put it so well – here’s the key, summary part:The Sky Surfer is a lovely motorglider, but I have some observations and cautions:Nine Eagles has a winner with this Sky Surfer, and once I can get to a larger site I’ll be able to fly it more comfortably…right now it’s a bit nerve-wracking, all things considered, so I’ll be using the Sky 500 more than I’d thought I would be. Leave a Comment » | flying experiences, Repairs and mods | Tagged: ailerons, crashes, Nine Eagles planes, Sky 500, Sky Surfer | Permalink Posted by Greg Stone Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.