Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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.

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