Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best Day of Flying Yet

So I'm off on break the Friday before the new year and I scheduled a day of flying with my Dad.  He has a flying buddy with access to a private field and was able to get some time on that Friday for us to fly out at the private field.  This field has a dirt, but smoothed out, runway out in the middle of open farm land.  My Dad brought out his Radian and his buddy took out his T28 for us to try out.  I, of course, brought out my Wild Hawk.

I arrived about 11:00am and we were out at the field by about noon.  John (Dad's buddy) sets up T28 around.  Wow, that was a lot of fun!  This plane is very responsive while still be easy to control.  Now I do have to say that the transmitter (a really nice Spektrum 6 channel) was set for a slow rate.  I flipped the switch to fast rate and about as quickly as I lost control of the plane, I switched the rate right  back to slow!  Way to responsive for my current skills.

This is where things started going south for my Dad.  I handed the controls to my Dad so he could check it out, and pretty soon he was getting to far away.  John advised that he should bring it back before it was too hard to control, and guess what.  Well, he tried to get it back but lost orientation and handed the controls back to John.  Too late!  It dove into the ground and broke the wing off.

Dad then got out his Radian for a flight.  A quick had launch out and the plane was not gaining altitude.  About 50 yards out the right wing tipped up and caught the breeze and with the low altitude, cartwheeled the plane into the groung!  Another broken plane!

Well, I got out the Wild Hawk and after two failed take off attempts, I hand launched it into the air.  I had a great flight with my make shift cell phone video camera on board (unfortunately something went wrong with the camera and the video file was messed up, so no video this time).  I landed it, took the camera off and hand launched it again.  I trimmed it out again since the loss of the camera weight, and asked my Dad if he wanted to fly it.  He said "no" as he did not want to chance wrecking another plane!

After this flight it was time to head home and get some lunch.  After lunch we checked out a local city park that people were known to fly at.  This turned out to be a great place to fly!  It's this huge sunken area surrounded by 10ft berms with parking areas.  We quickly headed home to get out planes.

We returned, me with my Wild Hawk and Dad with his Wild Hawk (Old Hickery) and his second plane (my brothers Wild Hawk that he procured).  We parked right up to one side with the slight breeze coming in toward us.  We had about 15ft of grass to the grassy berm.  I took off and landed on the parking lot and Dad hand launched out off the berm.  What a perfect place to fly!  We flew and flew almost till dark!  I burned off the 2200mah battery and started another.  Dad did crash and damage my brothers plane (he flew it behind us and lost it in the sun!), but continued to fly with Old Hickory.  We had soo much fun and had such a great time flying.  I think I had easily, a solid 30 minutes of air time!  We would just take the planes up and then cut the power and see how long we could glide around.  We had a great time bringing them in for low passes and trying to land at our feet (I have to admit that Dad took the prize here).  We are definitely coming back here again!

Sorry there are no pictures, the video didn't come out and I was so distracted by the great flying that I didn't take any pictures.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and please post comments, good or bad.  Be sure to come back and check for future posts.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Flying With Landing Gear

This was an experiment that I could hardly wait to perform and I finally got the chance.  My oldest daughter is finally home from college for Christmas break so I recruited her to film while I flew.  It was a beautiful clear day but the wind was starting to pick up.  I was  rushing to get things done so that I could get out before it got too windy.  I know that I could have waited for the evening calm, but I did not want to risk that the wind would settle and that something else would not interrupt my day.  So out we went and braved the elements anyway.  When we first arrived it seemed that we would luck out with the wind lining up with the walk way.  Well as usual the wind did not flay nice and it had fun crossing at an uncomfortable angle.

Not to be outdone, we flew anyway.  The wind did not make things easy.  After a few attempted take offs (see one of the last videos below) I finally made it into the air.  It was much harder than I expected to taxi in a straight line.  Especially with the wind buffeting the plane from the side, especially when it was just about to get off the ground.

Once in the air, it flew just fine.  The the addition of the landing gear had no noticeable affect in the Wild Hawk's flight.  As the wind was causing the plane to bounce around quite a bit, it might have been masking any affects of the landing gear, but I don't think so.

This first video shows the first successful take off.    I thought sure that I was going to crash into the cable again, but I just pulled back on the stick and luckily had enough airspeed to take off successfully.

This second view shows the first successful landing.  I came in dead stick because it was coming in fast enough and with power would have been too fast.  I know too that this was because I was landing with the wind, but it worked out OK.  I did think for a moment that I was going to land it on the walk way cable, but I made it to the pavement.

This video shows both the take off and landing from the airplanes point of view.  If you would like to see what I did to get this footage see my other blog RD Flying Fun.  I'll be updating it soon with how I modified a cell phone to take this footage.

Like the last time I flew, I had so much fun after the first flight that I just made sure all was still OK and then just took off again.  This was a shorter flight as I didn't want to battle the wind for too long and it was too cold for my daughter and I to stay much longer.

My daughter filmed this flight as well.  The first video is the entire flight from take off to landing since it was such a short flight.  You can see that it took me quite a bit to get it under control, but I made it into the air.

Landing was another issue again.  You can see that it came in on an angle and kind of "crabbed" in.

This video is the second flight from the planes perspective.  You might have noticed by now that the perspective is different than from the ground video.  What I did to get forward facing video had the affect of switching the video left for right.  When the plane is going left in all of these videos from the plane, it's really going right!

OK, this is the, well, blooper video of my failed take offs from the ground our perspective and from the plane's perspective.

Yeah, I could have cut some time out of this video, but I thought it was interesting seeing all of this stuff from the planes point of view.

Ouch, that last one looked like it really hurt but actually nothing bad happened.  I just checked it over and made sure the wing was still in firm (as firm as they can be with this much "experience") and checked the aileron servo connections.

If you liked this my latest blog post, please leave a comment and let me know.  Even if you didn't like it, leave me a comment as to what you didn't like.  Either way, be sure to come back and check for future posts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gearing Up for a Landing

I’ve  made a decision about my Wild Hawk.  A decision that is the opposite of the one that I made when I first received the plane.  A decision that goes against all the recommendations that I received when I first queried experienced Wild Hawk owners regarding the plane.  So, just what is this decision that I made?  I’m adding the landing gear back to my plane!

Why am I doing this?  And, why did I remove them in the first place?  Well, first why did I take them off and leave them off.  I took them off for two reasons.  The first reason is that having landing gear of such a light plane can cause landing problems for inexperienced fliers such as I was.  The second reason was that all the areas that I expected to fly at had no landing strips.  My Dad’s location is a rough plowed field, usually with tall weeds.  My only other current location is a local park and preserve area.  The preserve area does have a 10ft wide walk way that cuts through it, but it is lined on either side with 8 x 8 posts threaded with 1/2in cable.  Not very inviting!

Now I’m adding my landing gear back because, I’ve now successfully landed on the walk way twice, and I have plans to join a local club that has a really nice runway.  I figure this will also prepare me for bigger and better airplanes that will have landing gear.  Besides they just snap in and out (see my pictures and videos below).

Wild Hawk landing gear
Cutting tape out of the gear mounting slot

Gear installed

Landing Gear in.

Landing gear out.

So what is adding the landing gear back onto the plane going to do to how it will fly? OK, I know that the landing gear is just wire with foam rubber wheels and they weigh next to nothing, and so the weight should not affect the plane very much and they are close enough to the CG that I don't expect them to affect the CG. But, the big thing in my mind is that they are not exactly aerodynamic. Again, they are not that big, but on such a light plane they could have a drag affect. This affect could be to make the nose drop as the pull would be on the bottom and to the rear using the CG as a fulcrum. Will this be enough to affect the flight and require trimming? Will I need to redistribute the weight? Will flying speed make a difference?

Since I do not have a wind tunnel, I'll have to rely on flying the Wild Hawk to see what will actually happen. Now I am waiting for a good day to fly. Once I have flown the plane (successfully or not) I will post an update on what affect this had, if any!

Ooops! Blooper!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Fly Time With Video

Wow!  Sometimes I forget how much fun it is to fly my plane!  I know it’s fun, but I forget how much fun.  I’ve been waiting for almost two weeks now to fly and it’s been a tough wait.  I have these plans to strap my cell phone to my Wild Hawk and video.  I thought I was all set to fly and video my last timeout, but there were technical difficulties.  The first thing to happen was that the cell phone I was going to use (because I’m too cheep to buy one of those mini video cameras) had issues with the touch screen working properly.  After some searching with Google, I was able to partially resolve that issue and deal with the limitations.  The second issue, well OK, the second and third issues were kinda simultaneous.  On the first two flights with the cell phone camera videoing, I found out that I was only getting 43 seconds of video, and also the tape that holds the cell phone to the plane was causing damage to the trailing edge of the wing (because I was having issues with achieving a decent landing).
The 43 second video issue was resolved (with the help of my good old pall Google again) bu un-checking the messaging video setting on the cell phone.  The setting that limits a video to the size that can be included in a text message (43 seconds for this phone).  The trailing edge wing damage issue was resolved by adding support in the form of a tongue depressor.

This was all resolved within days of my last flight.  But it would be much longer before I would have an opportunity to fly again.

To make things worse, my Dad sends me an email describing his latest outing and how much fun he had flying his Wild Hawk, his buddies T-28, and his Radian.  Flights with three planes in one day.  Torcher!

OK, I get to relate on thing about this that makes me feel a little better.  My Dad was testing his Radian without the wing attached and accidentally bumped the throttle to full and had his plane launch across the garage!  He was lucky though and only damaged the canopy (only about $5 to replace).

Ok, OK, my weekend is half over and I still have to install brakes on my Jeep.  But, after that I’m free to fly!  I rush through the job (I've done this enough times) and am done in just shy of an hour (no air tools!).  I had already put my new LiPo pack and cell phone on their chargers to make sure they were topped off and ready to go.  I grabbed my plane, my transmitter, the battery, and cell phone.  Oops, almost forgot the tape to hold the cell phone on with!  That would have been unfortunate.  OK, got the tape too.  Jump into the Jeep and head out to my local flying spot.

I can hardly contain myself as I park the Jeep and get out my plane and gear.  I hurriedly walk across the park to the paved path through the wild life preserve next to the park.  Half way down is where I like to fly from as this puts me closest to the middle of the area.  I find my spot and fuddle through my mind all the steps that need completing.  Connect aileron servos.  Make sure wing is right.  Connect the battery, wait, turn on the transmitter first!  Whew, now connect the batter.  Darn it, the beeps, forgot to put the throttle to full and then off to program the speed controller!  Wow, got it just in time.  OK, the cell phone is already on now start the video app.  Almost forgot about the tape again.  Hurriedly strip off a piece of tape.  Darn it!  Fishing in my pocket for my knife.  Fumble with the knife and cut the tape.  Stick the tape to the phone and strap it to the wing.  One final test of the controls, and toss the video equipped Wild Hawk into the air.  Wow this plane is so stable.  What a joy to fly!

The plane has a natural trim up and in a left hand circle to I just lit it climb.  It’s over cast and I really wanted to get up into the clouds, but they proved to be too high today.  I flew up as high as I dared (can’t see it, can’t fly it) and cut the motor.  I was having a blast cruising this plane around and wondering what the video would show.  Knowing that the cell phone camera was just pining down, I made a few high banked turns to try to get the horizon and sunset into the picture.
After a little while I decided to bring it in for a landing.  Now I have been trying to land on the paved walk way for some time, but it’s really tricky as it is only about 10 feet wide and lined with 8x8 posts about 3 feet high and with cables strung along them.  So, any mistake on landing can be a bad one!  First pass I aborted and hit the throttle to gain altitude.  Turned around and came in again.  This time I used the right mount of rudder and elevator and made a nice touchdown.  The plane slid right up to my feet!  OK, I did jump back a little as I did not want it to run into me and cause me to do something stupid like, step on it!

I was so excited that I just picked it up and tossed it into the air again.  I did pretty much the same thing and took it up high.  Then I shut down the motor and just let it glide around.  There was a group of kids that noticed the plane and were all excited.  I could hear them from across the field as they were pointing it out to each other and trying to find it in the sky.  I flew over them hoping to catch them on film (digital film) and maybe give them a thrill of the plane flying over head.  I did a few maneuvers again to catch the scenery and this time I did a loop.  Just a mild and lazy one, kinda ended up on it’s side at the top.  I didn’t want to pull to hard on this one with the added weight of the cell phone and the possible frailness of the winds.  I’d hate to have my first flight video be of one of the wings buckling and then a nauseating rush of the scenery as it spiralled into the ground.  So, I didn't push it.
This time I brought the Wild Hawk in from the opposite direction.  And, again, I aborted the first pass.  But I did it again!  With the judicious use of the rudder and elevator, I coaxed my plane in for another spectacular landing.  OK, at my level of experience any landing that does not cause damage is spectacular!

What a rush!  I had the best time!  I wanted to fly some more but the sun was setting and it was getting cold again.  Plus I had diner to make.  My wife was braving the Christmas season shopping with my middle daughter so the least I could to was to have dinner ready when they got home.

Included is the video I took.  The unedited version is just over 17 minutes.  I’ll try to edit it down into smaller segments to make it more manageable and also get it into a better format (mpg maybe instead of 3gp)

Well I actually figured out how to use Youtube tools to edit my video and was able to cut it up and embed them into the text of this blog.

I added this video just to provide a view of where I fly.

I hope everyone enjoys this and please comment.

I thought I would update this post add a little video that shows the status of my battery after this outing. It till looks pretty good! Other that saying that the battery was fully charged right before I went out (12.?v), I can't say exactly what the charge was. But, with the info from this video, and knowing how long I flew, I think I could have flown a lot longer. Generally LiPo batteries have max battery voltage of 4.2 and minimum voltage of 2.8 and nominal voltage of 3.7. Ok, I know you would not want to run your individual batteries down to 2.8v, but even if they only went down to 3.0v, they are still only 1/3 their way down. So, a lot more flying could have been had.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and please post comments, good or bad. Be sure to come back and check for future posts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last Mod and New Mod

The 3 blade prop was just for testing
So, as promised, I have pictures and updates on my last power train modification/update.  As I mentioned in my last post, I tried to match the motor selected for someone else's motor mod and they used a "V3" brushless outrunner.  What I came up with (that was also available at the time) was the Turnigy D2826/10 1400KV brushless outrunner.  I am not sure what the 2826 represents but I believe that the /10 refers to either the number of poles or magnets.  The 1400KV definitely revers to the number of no load RPM per volt applied.  This helps you figure out what kind of RPMs you can expect with a given battery pack.  Since the Wild Hawk runs a relatively small diameter propeller, I wanted more RPMs.  I would have preferred something in the 1800KV range, but this is what was available with the other physical features I wanted.  As I said, I selected it not only because of the electrical characteristics, but also because of the output shaft and prop shaft adapter and the bracket and mounting method.  I really like the self centering prop shaft adapter and how it attaches securely (like a drill chuck) but also would allow for slippage if the propeller were to impact the ground or some other object.  I also like the motor mount and bracket because it is very easy to work with.  I did make sure that I used Locktite to secure the screws that hold the aluminum bracket to the motor since it would not be easily accessible.

 Now on to the speed controller.  I was looking for a controller that would handle 15 to 18Amps, but again, the one I really wanted was not available (back ordered), so I found this one for more money, but  from the description and people's reports this one can easily handle long bursts to 40Amps.  It is programmable with an inexpensive programming card but can also have basic programming done with your transmitter throttle settings.  It is a little bigger than I expected, but oh well, I have it and it works very well and I don't think I will have to worry overloading it.

Finally the battery.  I was going to just use the batteries that I made from laptop batteries, but decided that they were just too inexpensive to pass up.  I found this (again) Turnigy 2200mah 3C 11.1V pack.  It was listed with a discharge range (20 to 30C), which seems a little unusual, but it was easily above what I expected I would use.  20C times 2200mah means that it could supply at least a maximum discharge rate of 44 amps.  See, plenty of performance for this setup.

The nice thing about having everything Turnigy is that all the connectors fit without any trouble or issue.

Now the new mod is a mod to keep my "high tech" camera mount from damaging the wing again.

In these two pictures you can see the damage that occurred to the trailing edge and how the tape cut into the wing under the force of the weight of the cell phone.  Of course, this would not have happened had I been able to learn how to land properly.  But, I have not, and I'm not sure when I will.

OK, before I get to much further into this, I guess I should tell you about some background on my method of this repair/mod.  So, some months ago, when I first got going into repairing my Wild Hawk and using tooth picks, foam chunks, and hot glue, I introduced my Dad to this.  He started to kind of take off with the idea of using cheep and free items to use for repairs.  My Dad told me about how he was collecting free coffee stir sticks to add to his supplies.  Now, I'm from a 100% Dutch family and predominately Dutch community and I am no stranger to the tendencies of the Dutch to be, shall we say, penny pinchers.  But my Dad collecting wooden coffee stir sticks struck even me as going a bit far and was something that I was not going to do, especially since I could get all I wanted from my work for free.  Well, now I'm looking at the issues with my wing repair and reinforcement and what comes to my mind as being the perfect item to assist with my repair?  You guessed it, a wooden coffee stir stick!  Did I have any in my supplies to assist with this repair?  No, of course not!  I'm sure my Dad had many available and could have fixed this issue on many wings, but not me.  I was not cheep forward looking enough to have stocked up an effective supply.

Well, after scowering my wife's endless craft supplies I had to settle for a tongue depressor.  If I couldn't find a wooden coffee stir stick, a wooden Popsicle stick would have been a good second choice.  Well, we did not have any of those either.  So, a wooden tongue depressor was what I was going to have to work with.

OK, on with the repair. I molded the foam back into place and started looking at how the wooden tongue depressor would be used to re-enforce the location.  I used my Exacto saw and started cutting the depressor down to size.

Soon I had a piece that I was happy enough with and was ready to hot glue it into place.
Now I strapped the phone into place to check things out.  You can see how the phone looks on the bottom side of the wing with the strapping tape holding it in place.  The photo to the right and below shows the top side of the wing with the trailing edge re-enforcement and how the strapping tape wraps around and is prevented from doing more damage.

Now I'm waiting for my free time to align with good weather to try this out and see if it really works as expected.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and please post comments, good or bad.  Be sure to come back and check for future posts.

Power Play and Photo Phun

If you saw my last post you know that I completely revamped the Wild Hawk's power system; new motor, new speed controller, and new LiPO battery.  It was hard waiting and I finally had a chance to get out and fly it.  I have to mention here that I also had a plan to take video from the plane using an old cell phone (still waiting for the shipment of the cheap mini DVRs to come in at Hobby King).  So, I went out to kill two birds with one stone.

The first item on my list was to just fly the plane and make sure all was well and to see what the performance was.  After making sure the speed controller emitted the appropriate beeps, I was set to go.  I powered up to full throttle and hand launched the plane into the air.  It flew very nice, but was not the rocket that I expected.  I had seen others mod their planes similarly and they seemed to go vertical until out of site.  Although I could tell I had more power, it would not "go vertical."  At first I was a little disappointed as i had done a lot of motor research to match a similar motor as, the Dutchman that I am, I was not going to pay the $40 for the motor recommended (I got mine for less than $20).

Any way, the newly powered Wild Hawk flew very nice.  I did notice that I could throttle way back and still not loose altitude.

So, that done, it was time to strap on the camera (and I do mean strap on).  I pulled out the cell phone camera and got it ready.  This was actually quite the ordeal as the phone is an early touch screen model LG and the touch part has been failing.  I found out from Google searching my issue that if I pealed off the top clear layer of the screen I could regain some of the functionality.  I did find out through trial and error that I also had to hold down the, now visible, connector area to regain functionality of the whole screen.  Also, going back a bit further in this part of the story, since this phone is no longer used and I do not have a valid SIM card for it, I had to set it up in, fittingly enough, "airplane mode".  This disabled the cell portion of the phone while still allowing for use of the rest of the phones functions.  I was not able to accomplish this until I resolved the touch screen issue.  OK, the last thing I did was to make sure that the phones video camera feature recorded to the internal micro SD card.  This last item would make it much easier to access the videos taken (I never had the special USB cord for the phone and I didn't want to deal with Bluetooth).

OK, now I was ready to strap on the cell phone camera and take some video.  The plane was still on from the last flight and ready to go.  I took out the roll of strapping tape (see, I really mean "strapped on") and cut off a long strip, about a foot.  I carefully placed this across the camera side of the phone leaving the rest evenly hung over either end.  Then I started the video camera and placed the phone on the underside of the wing and pulled the tape around the front and tail of the wing.  I made a last minute check of the controls, hit the throttle and launched it into the air.

It flew great!  The added weight of the phone (not insignificant) made not difference other than a slight trim of the ailerons.  I let it fly in circles slowly gaining altitude.  The day was a bit cloudy and pretty soon the Wild Hawk was fading in and out as it passed through some of them.  "Awsome" was my thought as I thought of what video I might be getting.  I continued to fly around and took the plane over some nearby homes and then back again.  As far as the power goes, I was able to cut back to 1/4 - 1/3 throttle and maintain altitude with ease.  This is certainly an improvement over the old power train especially with the added payload.  I flew for at least 5 minutes and struggled to bring it down to make a few practice landing passes.  This plane really wanted to stay up in the air.

A few seconds of air time video!

A bit of a rough landing and the plane was back on the ground without any real damage.  I did notice that the trailing edge of the wing with the tape had torn the edge a little, but not enough to worry about.  I was too eager to view the video to think too much about it anyway.  I unstrapped the cell phone and pushed the side button to reactivate the screen.  It was not still taking video!  I opened the list of videos and found the one it had taken.  For some reason it was only 43 seconds long!  Barely enough time to get the plane into the air let alone into the clouds.  Now I bummed.  I thought maybe I had made some sort of mistake in setting things up so I decided to try taking a sample video.  Sure enough, it stopped at 43 seconds again!  What's up with that?  I know that early cell cameras could only take short duration videos and thought this one might have a similar limitation based on resolution, memory, etc.

Well, I thought I would try one more time and see what I could get in 43 seconds.  I cut another piece of tape and got the phone ready to go, started the video recorder and strapped it on.  A quick check of the controls and tossed it into the air!  It flew great and for another 5 minutes or so.  No sense in cutting the flight short just to check the video and so I went back up into the clouds and enjoyed the flying.

I thought I would be able to make a better landing, especially since I had made two great practice passes.  This would not be the case as I made a typical knee jerk response a foot off of the ground and cart wheeled the plane.  There was no real damage to the plane as it was going slow and was so close to the ground, but the force did pull the strapping tape further into the trailing edge of the wing.  So, no more flying today.

I pulled of the cell phone and checked the video.  I knew that I was only going to get 43 seconds, but I had hoped to get more air time.  Well, even though I thought I had rushed and gotten into the air faster than the first time, I had actually done worse and did not get any air time at all.  So much for my first time out trying to get video.

The good news is that I really liked how the plane flew with the new power train.  Even though I can't go vertical, I still like the gain in power and I got significant flying time off of the new LiPO pack.  I do have a three blade prop that I might check the next time out.  We'll see if that makes any difference.

 I guess next time along with the fixes needed from this time, I'll include some actual details on the motor, speed controller, and LiPO pack I added.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and please post comments, good or bad.  Be sure to come back and check for future posts.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Even More Power!

OK, I decided that I need more power.  I went online to my favorite hobby store site and purchased a new battery (2200mah, 3C), brush-less outrunner motor, and speed controller.  They actually came in some time ago but I just got around to installing and setting everything up.  A few things I had to take care of first like charging the battery and figuring out how to setup the speed controller.  I connected the battery to my charger and topped it off.  Then I checked the battery with my voltage checker and each cell read out very close, just the way I like to see it.  Now I needed to check out the speed controller as it usually requires a programmer to set it up.  I found out the speed controller could also be programmed to the default setting (which happen to be what I want) by using the transmitter.  This is done by powering up with the throttle in the full position and waiting for a certain number of beeps, returning the throttle to the off position and waiting for the required beeps, and then putting the throttle back to full and waiting for beeps again and then put the throttle back to the off position.  After all of this, it works just fine.  So, I setup the receiver, speed controller, battery, and  motor and checked everything out with the transmitter.  All worked as expected.

Now it was time to figure out how I was going to mount everything on the plane.  I started by removing the old motor and speed controller.  This required loosening the hot glue I had added to the motor, cutting the wires, and pulling on it until it came out.  Then I pulled out the wires from the speed controller, removed the power switch, disconnected from the receiver, and then completely removed it.  Now everything is out of the way and I can see how it will all fit.

I had already held the motor up in position next to the original and marked the nacelle.  I mounted a three blade prop that I had on hand just for reference.  So now was the time to start cutting.
I cut out a big chunk of the nacelle and made sure the surface was level.  I cut out a piece of hardwood to use for a firewall.
I marked the piece to find the center for mounting the motor.

 Next I tried the fit and found I needed a notch for the firewall to fit better.  I also figured it would give more stability since so much foam was cut out.

Now it was  time to dry fit all the motor pieces before permanently installing anything.  Everything was laid out to make sure I have everything I needed.  Since the screws to attach the motor to the aluminum mount would be hidden and not easily accessible, I made sure they were locktited in (reddish purple tube).  I decided to use wood screws with lock washers on the firewall since I would not be able to get to the back side if I used bolts with nuts once all was glued in place.

Here is the aluminum mount with the locktited screws, and to the right, mounted to the firewall with wood screws and lock washers.

Now that I was happy with everything, I decided to trim the wood down for a more aerodynamic profile.  I did this by holding the firewall in place and then tracing the nacelle outline on the back side.  Then I used a belt sander to trim it down to the profile I marked out.  Next I glued it in place with hot glue.  I made sure that the perimeter and slot were glued well.  I also added a vertical line to use to align the firewall with the seams in the foam (this helped a lot for centering).

I noticed that there was still a little flex in the new nacelle and so used some tooth picks to stiffen things up.  I ran two strait down on either side of the seam and then two more at an angle from just behind the wood to the front of the nacelle.

Now I screwed the motor back on being careful to make sure the wood screws went right back into the threads they cut during the dry fitting.  This I know will ensure the best performance and least chance of failure.  I also made sure that the screws were torqued down just enough to collapse the lock washers.

Now I need to get the battery in place.  I noticed that it was not going to fit at all unless I started cutting things up.  I really wanted it to be as far forward as reasonable to maintain the C. G.  I bit the bullet and opted for major surgery and sliced off the top of the nose.  This allowed for full access to the battery compartment.  I laid the battery where I wanted it and marked what needed to be cleared away.  I then used my soldering iron with a nail in place of the soldering tip and melted the foam until there was enough room.  I like to melt the foam instead of cutting it out as I feel that it helps to retain structural integrity.  Any way, once I was happy with the space, I hot glued the top back on.  I did not use any tooth picks for support as this section will be well taped with strapping tape.

Finally I'm getting to the speed controller.  It seemed to fit well just laying it out from the motor to the cockpit opening.  The two power wires were just far enough apart (being on either side of the controller circuit board) that the cover tab fits right in between them.  Instead of gluing it down, I opted for just taping it in place with strapping tape.  There were two reasons for mounting it the way I did.  One is that this was way easier than threading the wires through the foam, and two, it would provide for better cooling if needed.  So this configuration worked great other than the power connectors having to make an awkward loop to connect.  A little tucking of wires and rubber bands to hold down the canopy and no one is the wiser.

I powered up my radio then plugged the battery in (I no longer have an on/off switch) and everything worked as expected.  I am very happy with this and cannot wait to get out and fly this thing.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and please post comments, good or bad.  Be sure to come back and check for future posts.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Almost Lost

Well, this with this post I started with a new transmitter.  I needed something with more controls than the 3 channels that came with the Wild Hawk.  Especially since I added ailerons.  I was not satisfied with losing my rudder, as I found that I really needed it for making landings with cross winds like I seem to always have.

What did I do?  I headed off to my favorite hobby shop, Hobby King.  I looked through their transmitter options and realized that I did not want to spend a whole lot of money on a name brand system especially as I am still new to this hobby.  So I looked at their shop brand selection.  I found they had several transmitters ranging from sub $30 4 channel to just over $50 6 channel and all using 2.4GHz spread spectrum technology.  Interestingly enough there was only a few dollars difference between the 4 channel and 6 channel low end systems and I opted for the extra channels.

I received my 6 channel transmitter along with the USB cable to program it.  I love this transmitter and was looking forward to installing it and trying it out.

It took a little work to get the old receiver out and keep all of the connections strait but I did it and got the new and smaller receiver in.

It took a while but I finally made it to my Dad's place for some flying.  My first flight was in his back yard which is about 50 feet by 150 feet surrounded by fence but with orchards and clear views all around.  So after a few falls starts, I made it up into the air and really had fun flying around and getting used to the new radio.  I made one test pass and made good use of the rudder in lining up a test landing pass.  On my landing pass I did not account for the thermal conditions.  You see, my Dad's back yard is half grass and half pea gravel.  I started my pass coming in over the grass toward myself standing at the far end of the gravel.  Everything was fine until I crossed over onto the gravel and his the updraft.  This pitched the plane over and into some equipment off to the side as I lost control.

It took a bit of work but I got the plane fixed up again and ready for another flight.  By now the wind was picking up and I new I would have to the open field next door.  Out we go.  I get launched and am flying fine but I realize I am starting to fight the wind.  While I'm playing with the new radio and extra channels, I stray too close to Dad's orchard just behind me.  With my battery a bit low and the wind, I find that I can't bring it back and lose the plane behind me.  I just let the controls go neutral and shut off the power.
We finally found the plane lodged in the upper branches of a tree on the far side of the orchard.  It took my daughter climbing the tree and using a pruning pole to shake it loose.  Up in the tree the plane didn't look to bad.  Once down, wow, it was really messed up.  Both wing leading edges were gouged, the nose was gouged, one wing was bent up and the bamboo spar broken.  Lot's of work is going to be needed to fix it this time.
Next update hopefully all will have been repaired.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and please post comments, good or bad.  Be sure to come back and check for future posts.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weighted Question

Balancing on my CG stand
OK, the wings are fixed and ready for flight testing.  As I prep all my stuff for the next available flight time, I see that there is another issue that should be resolved and cleaned up.  Until now, I've been using a stack of washers as a nose weight to balance the CG (Center of Gravity or balance point) of this plane.  The Wild Hawk is notoriously tail heavy and needs much attention to get the CG much forward of the center of the wing.  After much research I have come to the conclusion that the CG point should be between 2 to 2.5 inches from the leading edge of the wing.  After moving my battery as far forward as I can without cutting more than the battery retaining foam, I still needed the weight of three 1/2" washers to balance out at about 2.25 inches.  This was OK, but they were just stuffed into the compartment with the battery and could come out in a crash.  Also, if I used a different battery (LiPO) they did not fit in as snug and were usually not enough weight.
Just about 2.25 inches

New position for the battery to improve CG.
(This is an old photo)
So I decided to take the opportunity to make a change.  I had seen someone on the Internet use a fishing "egg" sinker to balance their Wild Hawk, and out to the garage I went to find my tackle box.  I came back in with a few old drop style sinkers that my late Grandfather had made way back in the day, and some newer smaller pinch style shot weights.  The drop style I estimated at being 1/2 and 1/4 ounce while the shot were probably about 1/8 ounce each.  Now the Wild Hawk that I had seen with the egg style sinker just had a hole drilled into it and the sinker hot glued in.  I did not want to do this and I also wanted to be able to change the amount of weight installed so I could add more when using a lighter battery.  I accomplished this by slicing a wedge of foam out of the top of the nose and then boring some holes down into the foam to make room for the sinkers.  I used my modified soldering iron to create the holes with the idea that the melted foam would actually provide for some stability in the nose and hold the weights better.
Holes bored in with solder iron

With the NiMH weights
After some experimenting I was able to balance my Wild Hawk at the point I wanted, 2.25 inched from the leading edge. This was with the original NiMH battery and the two drop sinkers and four shot weights.  I made the holes for the shot weights deep enough so that I could add more later.  I found the "more" amount to be 5 of the shot weights to give me the same CG balance point.  I hot glued in the first set of weights and made sure there was room for the "more" weights.  To hold everything in I just used some fiber strapping tape and taped from the nose over the top of the piece that I cut out.  This worked out just fine in practice.
With the "more" weights

Now for the test.  I finally got some flight time and the plane flew great with the original NiMH battery and I had no issues!  The wings held up great too and showed no signs of bowing even pulling through a loop!  After flying until the NiMH battery was dead, I switched to my LiPO battery.  I opened the front hatch by pulling back the strapping tape and dropping in the extra shot weights.  Then I closed the hatch by sticking the tape down again.  I flew this one till dead also.  Even with a few crashes I had no issues with the nose weights!  I am very pleased with these two new mods!

For some added fun, here are two vids of my Dad flying.  First he's flying my brothers Wild Hawk and then his own Wild Hawk (O'l Hickory).

Thanks for stopping by my blog and please post comments, good or bad.  Be sure to come back and check for future posts.