Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just In Case Anyone's Wondering Where I've Been . . .

Been busy turning this:

Into this:

No, I'm not dead, not by a long shot. ;)


And Happy Holidays.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Still Kicking . . . Just Not With The Left Foot

Seems that when mowing one's lawn on a steep downhill slope, it's a wise idea to not allow yourself to slide down said downhill slope. The reason? There's a good chance that one or both of your feet could wind up in great peril at the hands of the rapidly rotating sharp thing located under your lawn mower. I know this first hand.

Word to the wise: Don't try to trim your toenails with a lawn mower, they tend to be a bit aggressive about it.

Basically, my wife got to to spend Mother's Day at the Emergency Room, I got to be tortured by a crew of sadistic medical "professionals" in a manner that would get government officials indicted had it happened at Guantanamo, and I got a three week vacation from work. I'm walking again now, wearing shoes, and didn't lob off anything that won't likely grow back. I was EXTREMELY lucky, and it's a mistake I won't make twice.

Enough of this nonsense, here's some model airplane pics. Seems I've had plenty of time to work on projects over the last few weeks.

The Slope Monkey flies! OK, it glides, but it's going to be a blast on the slope either way. My sore foot hasn't been too comfy with the idea of hiking to the top of any hills yet however, so Dick was nice enough to hall her aloft for a couple of test flights atop his venerable Telemaster.

Here's part of my almost completed Mini Telemaster, a scaled down version of Dicks famed glider hauler. I'm doing several mods on this kit, in the form of a magnetic battery hatch, ailerons, drastically reduced wing dihedral, and a modern outrunner motor. Stay tuned for more updates. I didn't get it quite finished during my healing process, but it's entirely framed up now, just waiting for finishing touches and it'll be ready to cover.

Here's a plane that's so darn cute, I couldn't resist building one. The Micro Stick from Radical RC. This is a kit built plane, no ARF available to the best of my knowledge, but thanks to Dave Thacker's expert design skills, and the quality laser cutting of this kit, it goes together faster than most ARFs I've built. Basically, if you can put together a jigsaw puzzle, you can build this airplane in short order, and best of all, you get to cover it however you want. The little mosquito not only actually flies, but actually flies quite well. If you can handle a Mugi Evo, you can handle this little guy no problem.

Just a little parting shot to show the diversity available to the model aircraft enthusiast. Everything from the Micro Stick, to Crashis Clay's 46% Extra 260, is available for your flying or spectating pleasure at a model flying field near you. Be sure to stop by the Billings Flying Mustangs field on June 19, 20, and 21 for our annual fly in. There will be 3 days of nonstop flying action with not only these two planes, but everything in between, good food, good friends, night flying, free camping, hot chicks . . . you name it, we got it! Stop by and say hello if you get the chance, you won't regret it. Full details on the 'Mustang's site.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mugi Tea Racer: Another Hit From Across The Pond!

The Tea Racer has flown! Numerous flight tests this morning concluded however that I have too much positive incidence in the wing. Apparently I didn't cut the wing saddle out deep enough, however this is easily remedied by simply cutting it deeper. Now I just hope I can find the template that I made so I can keep the shape right.

On the first takeoff it appeared that the plane was tail heavy, even though I had purposely balanced it a bit nose heavy for the initial flight. It lifted off the ground by itself long before I was ready, then porpoised badly all the way back around to a rather disgusting but thankfully damage free landing. I moved the battery farther and farther forward on subsequent flights until the thing was so nose heavy that it would barely set on the landing gear without nosing over, still no joy.

I then greatly reduced the elevator throw and programmed in a ton of exponential, still it was extremely sensitive on the pitch axis. A closer look revealed that I had a ton of down trim in an attempt to attain level flight, even though the plane was now obviously nose heavy. This is a dead giveaway for excessive wing incidence. Also the plane would tend to want to climb more and more as speed was increased, which is another dead giveaway.

It did however, accelerate dead straight with no pitching tendencies on throttle application, so the thrust angle must be in pretty good shape. Also, even though the wing was running far too high of an angle of attack, the venerable Tea Racer showed absolutely NO tip stalling tendencies at low speed, which is truly amazing for a plane this small. This, coupled with the fact that even though this plane feels a bit heavy for its size it glides FOREVER, is a testament to Morgan's design ability.

When I get the wing incidence right, this thing is going to be an absolute JOY to fly. It already shows potential far beyond several factory made planes that I own with no doubt MUCH more money poured into their R and D. The takeoff run was basically uneventful, with only a tiny application of right rudder necessary to maintain a straight track, and once again, even with the incidence issues I can tell that this plane will practically land itself once it's flying the way it's supposed to. So far I'm impressed, and I can't wait to fly it once the wing is pointing where it's supposed to be.

Oh yeah, did I mention that it's FAST! I couldn't really open it up for obvious reasons, but I did manage one or two high speed passes with a victory roll or two thrown in for good measure. It's not called a Tea RACER for nothing! This thing is going to be a blast, and judging by the interest it generated at the field, I won't be the only person around here flying one for long.

So overall, my opinion of the Tea Racer at this point is pretty high. The incidence issue is my mistake, not a flaw in the design, and hopefully I'll be able to measure the actual incidence when I get it figured out so I can post it here as well as on the Mugi Forum. Even so, there are many variables when folding a Coroplast wing, so your mileage may vary.

The tailwheel? It performed flawlessly, no ground handling issues whatsoever unless you count the nose over tendency the plane had with the battery crammed too far forward. My main gear mounting methods are subject to review however. It seems that the hardwood blocks I used to secure the gear should've been anchored somehow to the wing spar for added stiffness. I'll revise that on version 2.0 and see if I can't come up with something better. For now they're getting some glue shot under them so the testing can resume.

What are you doing reading this? Get your butt busy and build a Tea Racer, you'll be glad you did!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tea Racer Tailwheels and Monkeys From Wyoming

I mentioned in my last post that my current project is the Slope Monkey from Wyoming Wind Works. Thanks to my friend Mark for turning me on to this little gem. Considering he's the same guy that turned me on to the Mugi, I really should start listening to this guy a little more methinks. Basically, it's a non powered slope glider made of hot wire cut EPP foam with a balsa tail assembly and ailerons. As a testament to Adam and the gang at Wyoming Wind Works however, I won't be doing a build thread on this bird at all. The reason being that the included instruction manual is THAT GOOD! It truly leaves nothing to be desired. Follow Adam's instructions and this plane will virtually fly off of your build table. This is coming from someone who has never worked with EPP before. If you have some EPP experience, you could practically build it without the manual. This thing is truly a piece of cake, and should make a great sloper when it's done. Slope flying sites around here tend to be a bit rocky and treacherous, so a durable plane made of either EPP or Coroplast is basically a necessity if you don't like packing home chunks of busted equipment every time you fly. I think my little 'Monkey will fit the bill nicely when it's finished. All that's left is to cover it, and of course I'll post pics when it's done. Wyoming Wind Works has some other interesting projects in the works as well, so go check them out. Personally, I'm a bit stoked about the Orangutan, (larger version of the Slope Monkey), however Mark and I have decided it should be called the "Grade Ape". I'll be watching for a special on a roll or two of purple Ultracote just in case.

I decided to go ahead and add a tailwheel to my Tea Racer. Why? Cuz it looks cool that's why, and because I get annoyed by planes with crappy ground handling. Tailwheels don't add much weight, and they definitely improve ground handling, so why not? Here's how it's done.

First of all, there's an easy way, and there's a hard way. I did it the hard way, simply because I couldn't find one damn elusive wheel collar in one of my many small parts boxes. Of course I found said wheel collar the next day after the deed was already done, but that's the story of my life so we won't go into that.

The first step, is to locate a length of music wire, doesn't really matter what size as long as it's capable of supporting the weight of the tail of the aircraft and is large enough to fit at least somewhat snugly into one of the flutes of a piece of 2mm Coroplast. It also helps if you happen to have a small wheel, and a wheel collar or two that isn't buried in the bottom of a box of little parts that will fit on said piece of music wire as well. The wire needs to be long enough to reach through the rudder fin and protrude out the bottom of the aircraft far enough to bend it, and attach the wheel. If it's a little short, no big deal, it only needs to be about halfway inside of the fin when you're done but if it's longer it'll be a lot easier to work with.

From the top of the aircraft, insert the wire into the frontmost flute of the rudder. You want it going through the part that moves, right behind the hinge. When you have it inserted, double check that the rudder is straight, then press it through the coroplast until it protrudes inside of the fuselage. DON'T press it all the way out the bottom at this time! Remove the wire, disconnect the rudder linkage if it's connected, and swing the rudder off to one side. When it's out of the way, enlarge the hole that you just made in the horizontal stabilizer enough so that the wire can swing with the arc of the rudder. I used a small phillips screwdriver and just pressed it through. Try not to get the hole too large or it'll look like crap.

After the hole is enlarged, reconnect the linkage and recenter the rudder. Place the wire back in the foremost flute of the rudder and press it down through the hole you just enlarged. Now look in through the hole in the back of the fuselage and see if the wire is pointing toward the center of the bottom of the fuselage. If it is, it will be aligned with the carbon rods you used to secure the fin. Also check that it's not colliding with your elevator linkage. When all is well, and you're sure it's straight, go ahead and press it on through the bottom of the fuse. DON'T enlarge the hole in the bottom of the fuselage.

Now, if you have an appropriately sized wheel collar, and you haven't lost it yet, place it on the wire that is protruding from the bottom of the aircraft. Slide it up to the bottom of the fuselage, and gently pull the wire downward until the upper end is about halfway through the rudder fin. Leave a little more if you want more strength or happen to need tail weight, just make sure the wire is inside the leading edge flute of the rudder where it can't be seen. The wheel collar will reside against the bottom of the fuselage acting as a thrust bearing so that the rudder fin itself is subjected to the shock exerted during rough landings. The collar will transfer said shock to the bottom of the fuselage instead.

When everything is situated, tighten the setscrew in the wheel collar, then bend the protruding wire into a typical tailwheel holder like shape, attach your wheel by whatever means you choose, and you're almost done. The only thing left is to attach the wire to the rudder so that your new tailwheel is steerable. Simply look at the plane from the rear and ensure that both the wheel and the rudder are straight, then drip a few drops of thin CA down the flute with the wire in it. I find that when securing things inside Coroplast in this matter it helps to gently squeeze the coroplast against the wire or carbon rod inside. It seems to set the glue faster and provides a stronger bond. Let the glue cure and voila, you have a tailwheel.

Or, you can do it the way I did. I couldn't find the right size wheel collar, but I did happen to have a Dubro Micro Tailwheel kit handy. Either way, you're Tea Racer is bound to taxi a lot better. With a little luck, I'll know tomorrow morning how it effects the takeoff run.

Also, Morgan has placed a discussion forum on the Mugi site. It's not going full steam just yet as it's rather new, but it will no doubt soon be filled with a wealth of information regarding Mugi aircraft. Go check it out and don't be afraid to contribute if you have something other Mugi flyers may find useful.

Until next time . . . . . .

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Yet Another Project Finished

It's been long awaited, it's been anticipated, it's been languishing on my list of "to do" projects long enough, and it's finally ready for a test flight. That's right folks, the Tea Racer is finished! Here's a few pics of the last build steps outlining some of the deviations I made from the plans.

This pic shows the aileron servo installation. Getting the servo and the linkages to clear the battery, as well as the other servos and their respective linkages was a bit of a trick, but luckily it appears that all will be well. I can't say that I'd recommend going the torque tube linkage route on your Tea Racer, but if you want to this shows that it can indeed be done. About halfway through I was starting to wonder if the mod was worth the effort, but I do think it contributes a cleaner look, and probably shaved a tiny bit of weight by eliminating one servo.

Here's a pic of all of the gear, minus the battery, and how it's laid out in the fuselage and wing. The empty servo lead protruding from under the white velcro square is the extension into which the aileron servo connects. The receiver is attached to the bottom of the fuselage right behind the wing opening. You can see the bundle of wires leading back to it although the receiver itself is out of sight. The battery attaches to the velcro strip barely visible at the top of the pic. No additional straps should be necessary, as with the wing installed on the aircraft it's sandwiched pretty good between the wing and the inner fuselage plate. This should be sufficient to keep the battery from detaching from the velcro on the wing. I attached my battery to the wing attachment tongue according to the plans, and found that the CG is correct with the battery even with the front of the tongue. Your results may vary, but there's a fair bit of room to move the battery, as well as the ESC, around in order to get the balance where you need it.

My insistance on using a single aileron servo limited me somewhat in this respect, but a good CG was still easily attained although I was forced to install the ESC in a manner in which it will be in constant contact with the battery. I don't particularly like this for reasons of cooling, but there isn't really another option due to the fact that I can't move the battery back any farther without hitting the aileron servo, and moving the ESC forward is limited by not only the length of the wires, but also the fact that my CG would then come out nose heavy. We'll see how this works, hopefully it isn't a problem, but I already have an idea of how to correct it if it is.

Also, my original hunch involving keeping the aileron linkages close together at the center of the wing paid off. They JUST clear the linkages from the rudder and elevator servos, as well as everything else.

Here is the landing gear. I think I showed earlier in the build where I attached two hardwood blocks to the bottom surface of the wing with 30 minute epoxy, just in front of the wing spar. This what the landing gear attaches to, and between the two screws, and the fact that the wire sinks into the coroplast rather nicely, the gear seems quite secure. The wheels were just some that I had laying around, nothing special, and the landing gear itself was salvaged from the wreckage of my P38 Lightning and modified to fit this application. The largest prop this thing is likely to see is a 4.75X4.75, so it doesn't need very tall gear for ground clearance. I kept them as short as possible for weight/drag reduction purposes. I haven't decided if I'm going to add a tailwheel yet, but if I do, I already have the plan figured out. I might fly it first and see about the ground handling, then make up my mind from there.

Here's the method I used to attach my wing, it varies slightly from the plans. Two hardwood blocks sandwiched together, and attached with 30 minute epoxy. A hole was drilled into the center, and threads cut into the hardwood to accept the #10 nylon wing bolt. Be sure to harden the threads with thin CA to prevent them from stripping.

When you thread your wing attachment block, run the tap THROUGH the mounting hole in the wing. Not only will it cut a better thread because the tap isn't wobbling around, but it insures that your threads will be aligned with the hole in the wing. Will save you a lot of time fiddling around trying to line up your wing bolt. Mine practically falls right to where it needs to be.

This pic shows my simple motor installation method. The motor mounting system outlined in the plans works famously, however it's a bit of a bugger to get the motor inserted in the front of the aircraft with the velcro in place. I simply wrapped my motor in a bit of heavy, clear plastic, inserted it into the nose, then carefully slid the plastic out from around the motor allowing the velcro to take hold. I tried a few different materials, including heavy paper, as well as a hunk of "bleach bottle" plastic, but this method seemed to work the best.

Here's the finished motor installation. Be sure to attach the wires from the ESC before installing the motor, and check the direction of rotation unless your motor has a lot longer wires than mine. Connecting them, or reversing the direction, would be impossible with my motor without removing it from the airframe.

And here she is folks, the finished Tea Racer! As I mentioned, there's a few loose ends I still want to tie up, as well as perhaps adding a bit more to the color scheme in the form of perhaps some yellow stripes on the fuselage, and some more black on the tail, but if the weather cleared up right now I COULD fly it in its current form. It's been a long time coming, but it's finally ready to go, and I can't wait to watch it accelerate down the runway and lift off, hopefully uneventfully.

Oh yeah, remember this bit of tangled wreckage that I bought oh so long ago?

This is what it looks like now. All of the crash damage has been repaired, as well as the addition of Futaba 9252 digital servos on the swashplate, a GY401 gyro with 9654 tail servo, Throttle Jockey Pro RPM limiter from Model Avionics with a Spektrum crank pin sensor, Spektrum AR7000 receiver, shiny new Mavrikk pipe from Heliproz, 600mm Mavrikk carbon fiber main blades also from Heliproz, a header tank, all new fuel lines, new carburetor for the OS .50 SX engine, as well as a new Sport canopy from Compass Model. Oh yeah, and stickers, can't forget the stickers. All it needs now is a receiver battery and regulator, and it's ready to take to the skies. I'm currently accepting donations for the purchase of the remaining parts. ;)

It's been a productive winter here at the Big J Aviation production facility, which will hopefully lead to an enjoyable summer of flying.

Next up: The Slope Monkey by Wyoming Wind Works. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What I've Been Working On Lately

Been busy in the Big J Aviation Production Facility lately. I barely got to fly helis at all last summer. Hoping to remedy that this year. I have to get back to work now. 2 helis are done, 2 more to go. Peace.

The old reliable T-Rex 450, now new and improved with a shiny V2 carbon fiber frame. Just waiting on the speed control and it's ready to fly. Posing next to it is its new little brother, the recently released T-Rex 250. It's all done and ready to test fly this weekend if the weather holds.

Now it's time to start on the Compass Knight 50 and the Walkera 52.