Friday, June 29, 2007

This Is A Test, Of The Blogger In Draft Video Upload System.

Here's a quick aerial video of a double glider tow shot from the top of Dick's Telemaster Electro at the recent Billings Flying Mustangs fly in. In this video, we had one of Bob's gliders on top of the plane in the launcher, and Eric's big 100 inch Spirit tagging along behind by a 120 foot tow line. It's an awesome sight to behold, or at least it is if you're into doing different and interesting stuff with model airplanes. I know, the camera angle sucks, but it was the first time that we tried it so give me a break already. Now that the FlyCamOne is available in the United States, there's likely to be a few more of them showing up at the field, which will make multiple camera angles on the same flight possible. Imagine the possibilities!

Sorry I didn't get a lot of video from the Fly In. To be honest, there was just so much interesting stuff going on, that had I filmed it all it would've taken me a month just to edit everything down to a form in which it would've been presentable. Couple that to the fact that it would've required me to watch the whole show on a little 1 1/2 inch screen, and I just wasn't too excited about filming the entire thing. The Fly In was advertised all over the place, on TV and radio and otherwise, so I figured that if anyone wanted to see this stuff they were welcome to stop by and watch for themselves. If you're not from around here, just keep an eye on your local media for a Fly In near you. You can also check the calender of events at the AMA Website.

The Fly In featured some pretty cool demonstrations this year, probably the most popular of which was Clay's rocket plane. Basically, Clay took an Estes Centurion rocket powered glider, rigged it up with a remote igniter for the rocket engine, then we strapped it in the glider launcher on top of Dicks big Telemaster and took it for a ride. Dick would kick the thing loose at altitude, then Clay would glide it around for a bit until it started getting close to the ground. When he was just about out of steam, he'd make a low pass down the runway and fire the rocket, sending the little red bullet back skyward with a trail of rocket exhaust. Clay, being the first class showman that he is, would usually toss in a few vertical rolls as the plane blasted straight up at breakneck speed. I didn't keep track of how many rocket engines they burned up, but considering the number of encore requests that were floating around, I know it was a bunch. I've got some video that I shot during the testing phase a week or two before the fly in, I'll try to find time to post some of it soon.

Another popular demo was the night flying. John had his helicopter all decked out with light wire and night blades, and put on a pretty awesome show in the dark. John night flies his heli every year, and it's always a highlight, well worth the trip out to the Mustang's field. John even managed to talk Brian from Heliproz into taking the sticks for awhile. Brian is a first class heli pilot, and after wowing the crowd with his flight demos in the daylight, didn't disappoint anyone when he got his chance to do it in the dark. Before the night flying got underway, John even took the sticks of my T-Rex a couple of times just to prove to me that it will indeed fly inverted . . . . . . now I just need to practice up until I can get the pucker factor under control.

I did a little night flying with the Mugi Nightfighter, but found that the lighting was insufficient. It's back to the drawing board for me, but I haven't given up by any means. It was flyable, but telling which way was up got a little difficult unless I kept it really close, and really slow, and after two really close calls I decided to put it away before something bad happened. I've got some ideas about how to remedy that problem though so stay tuned. Clay lit up the night sky with his lightwire equipped Abell RC Adrenaline 3D foamy, and Chris put on a pretty good show with his T-Rex 450 heli in night dress as well. I did try to get some video of the night flying, but soon discovered that my video camera just wasn't up to the task. You'll just have to take my word for it, it was awesome.

There were of course many more fun and interesting things going on, but as my sporadic posting of late attests, I simply don't have time to go into all of them. Here's a few pics that I did manage to shoot though. This is just a small sample of what you can expect to see at a typical RC Fly In.

Clay's big Sukhoi gets ready to take to the sky for another awesome 3D demonstration . . . . . complete with the newly installed smoke system adding to the visual effect.

A large scale Staudacher sits on the flightline waiting its turn to get airborne.

Check out the color scheme on this beauty.

Clay poses for the camera with his rocket plane just before the first test flight. The background is pretty empty in this picture, but during the fly in it was full to the gills with cars, trucks, vans, trailers, RV's, and whatever else. The turnout for this year's fly in was phenomenal. Over 50 registered pilots, and countless spectators.

The rocket plane strapped into the launcher and ready for the start of its first powered test flight. Ralpho's Kadet sits on the taxiway in the background ready to fly chase. You can't see it in this picture, but my FlyCamOne is attached to the bottom of Ralpho's plane in an attempt to capture the rocket plane from the air. The amazing thing is, that we almost pulled it off, which is really amazing when one considers that Ralph had no way of knowing what the camera was capturing until after he landed and we downloaded the video for viewing. If you watch closely, you can see the smoke trail, and hear the sound of the rocket motor firing. An inch or two farther forward, and we would've gotten the whole thing. Looks like a good excuse to try again if you ask me!

A typical view along the flightline.

Steve's electric pylon racer. A totally one off design, built entirely from scratch, and man does it haul ass!

Bigger is better, and when Dick gets involved, electric power is sure to be involved. The Axi in the nose of this YAK is as big as my fist, with three 5000 mAh 4 cell lipos providing the electron flow. More juice than a typical lightning storm, and power to spare for awesome flight performance. No need to tear apart your weed whacker for awesome giant scale performance anymore.

Here's the Mugi Mobile from above, shot with the FlyCamOne from Ralpho's Kadet.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Quick Update

Now doesn't that look better?

The submissions for the logo contest keep pouring in, ~cough, cough, hack hack~, so fast that I don't know how soon I'll be able to judge a winner. So far however, firefly is well in the lead in the logo category, with Wayne uncontested so far as official designer of production facility signage, so keep those submissions coming for your chance to win!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, if you happen to run into me at any RC flying events this summer, be sure to ask me for one of these:

I made them all by my lonesome, because I was sick of having to look for a pen and paper to write down the address for the Mugi site for half a dozen people every time I land one of my Evos. Now I keep a few of these in my wallet, and a big stack of them in the Mugi Mobile for backup.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

So How About A Big J Aviation Logo Design Contest?

Thanks to my good friend Wayne up in Newfoundland for inspiring this one. He was nice enough to take the time to make up this pic for me:

This gives me an idea. Although I'm getting much better than I used to be, I still absolutely suck at graphics design and photo editing. Sure, I can come up with color schemes for airplanes and such, but when it comes to designing logos and putting pictures and text together, I'm just not good enough at it to live up to my own extremely high standards . . . . . . Or something like that. Since I happen to know for a fact that some of my readers, both of you actually, happen to be a hell of a lot better at such things than I am, how about a little design contest?

What I'm looking for is basically what Wayne did all on his own. I want a logo for Big J Aviation, but all of my previous attempts have looked like ass, so here's the deal. Come up with your own ideas of what the Big J Aviation logo should look like, and either drop a link to somewhere the image is hosted, or email the image to me at Feel free to use any images that you'd like, either photos or graphics (preferably graphics actually), steal them from this site, steal them from other sites, I don't care, just somebody please make me a logo. If you need some images to work with, send me an email and I'll either send them to you, or go out and take them myself if need be.

The one that'll catch my eye will be simple, yet effective. Two or three colors would be just fine since it'll be much easier to get made into decals and such that way. An image or two of airplanes, an airplane, a squadron of airplanes, a cartoon airplane, one or two of my own airplanes, a modern airplane, a classic airplane, a big airplane, a small airplane, a civilian airplane, a military airplane, an RC airplane, maybe even a helicopter, hell I don't care, just something to do with something that flies and the text "Big J Aviation" should be part of the design. Maybe just a part of an airplane, a prop, a radial engine, a busted hunk of crash debris for all I care. If I knew what I wanted I'd design the damn thing myself so let your imaginations run wild.

Ultra modern, retro style, cartoonish, I simply don't know what I want, but I know I want a recognizable logo that I can plaster all over the place. Maybe something that would signify a model company, maybe something that would signify a full scale flying service, a backcountry bush flying outfit, an air cargo company, I've thought and thought and I just can't visualize any one thing in particular. I really don't know why I want a logo, since Big J Aviation is just a fictitious company that I dreamed up in this empty head of mine, but Binford Tools was a fictitious company too and look how famous they are. Wanna know why? They may not have had a real tool company, but they had a logo! Well . . . . . . . . . that and that whole Tim Allen TV show thing, but I still think it was the logo.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot . . . . . . . The Prize! Since Big J Aviation's advertising budget is somewhere in the 7 figure range (after the decimal point of course), I really can't offer much other than exclusive bragging rights to the winner. Whenever you see the logo that you designed stuck on the side of a Learjet, or a limo, or an old red Chevy van full of toy airplanes, you can swell with pride knowing that you're the poor sap that wasted so much of your precious free time sitting in front of a computer designing a logo for some freeloading blogger bum that's too damn lazy and non artistic to sit down and design his own stinking logo.

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it? ;)

Oh hell, maybe I'll mail you a set of stickers if I ever get around to getting them printed up.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

So You Want To Put An Outrunner On A Mugi Evo But Don't Know How To Mount It . . . .

Well never fear, because I'm about to make that task a whole lot easier. The design of the Mugi Evo naturally lends itself to a can type motor, but I've devised a simple method of attaching a brushless outrunner using inexpensive and readily available parts. With only a few simple modifications to a GWS 400 gearbox frame, you too can take advantage of the increased efficiency of brushless power, especially now that there are several inexpensive brushless motors available, many rivaling even brushed motors in the price department. I've been using the Tower Pro 2408-21 myself, and have found the performance to be almost identical to my brushed Speed 400 when running the same props, with half of the current draw of the brushed motor I used to run. This power system, including the mount that we're about to make, also happens to weigh about 1/4 of an ounce less than a brushed Speed 400 that it does a great job of replacing. The TP 2408-21 is readily available, especially on Ebay, for $10 - $15, which is about the same price as a typical brushed 400 motor. As an added bonus, many of the TP motors on Ebay include a grey plastic gearbox mount that will work equally as well as the GWS gearbox frames for an outrunner mount conversion. When one considers the benefits in efficiency and power, then factors price and weight into the mix, there really isn't any reason to settle for the short lifespan and inefficiency of brushed motors.

Ready to go brushless? Here we go.

First thing's first, assemble all of the parts and tools necessary. You'll need a GWS 400 gearbox frame, not the entire gearbox, just the plastic frame. I ordered a box of them from All E RC, they cost $1.25 each. Like I said, this is an inexpensive project. If you happen to have an old GWS gearbox laying around, you can use that too. Just remove the spur gear and shaft, and push the bearings out of the frame. You'll also need a Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel, a short (2 or 3 inches) scrap of .188" carbon fiber tube which just so happens to be the same tubing I use for the wing spars in my Evos, a drill bit the same size as your carbon tube, 3 nylon ties to attach your finished mount to your plane, some thin CA, and a hobby knife or two with different shaped blades.

First, we need to ream out the gear shaft hole to fit the carbon rod that we're going to use to reinforce the mount and create a third tie down point to make the motor more secure. I don't recommend using a drill to turn the bit since the plastic will melt if you're not extremely careful. I just twist the bit through with a pair of pliers.

When you've finished enlarging the hole, test fit your carbon tube. The fit should be reasonably tight, but if it can wiggle around a bit don't worry. We'll secure the tube in the hole with a dab of CA later.

Next we'll cut off three sides of the stick mount portion of the gearbox frame. Try not to cut into the top portion of the stick mount, leave a nice flat portion on the bottom of the mount as this will be the platform the entire mount sits on when we zip tie it to the Mugi Evo.

This is what it should look like when you're done, no more stick mount, just a nice flat platform. Don't worry if it's a little rough, the sharp edges will just help to keep the mount from sliding around.

Next we need to make a place for the center nylon tie to sit. If you hold one of your nylon ties around the mount, centered on the large section that's designed to hold the motor, you can easily make a little mark on either side of it with the blade of a hobby knife. When properly modified, these little bumps make a keen retainer for our nylon ties.

Then carefully grind out the material between the marks with the Dremel so that the nylon tie will sit flush like this. Try not to cut too deeply, or you may weaken the mount.

Mount the motor to the plastic mount facing rearward, like this. Think about which direction you want your motor wires to face before installing the screws, and don't overtighten the screws or you'll crack the plastic mounting ears.

Now place the carbon tube into the hole that we drilled earlier. Position the carbon tube so that it hangs just a bit onto the rear portion of the motor can. Make sure that it can't rub on the rotor however, or you'll likely let the magic smoke out of your powerplant in very short order.

Cut the carbon tube off flush with the extended front portion of the mount.

This is what your mount should look like at this point with the motor attached and the carbon rod properly positioned.

Drop a little thin CA onto both ends of the carbon tube, allowing it to wick in between the carbon tube and the plastic mount. Use extreme caution not to allow any CA to get into the motor.

If you use a motor like this one with a long, threaded shaft, you'll likely want to cut the shaft off and use a set screw or collet type prop adapter instead of mounting the prop directly. A long shaft like this would likely get bent on the first landing with a Mugi Evo, so cut it off as short as possible while still leaving enough material to mount your prop adapter securely.

Well, here it is, the completed mount. Now let's take a moment or two to blow/wipe off the dust and shavings, then we'll attach our brushless outrunner to our Mugi Evo.

Start by making a small mark on the centerline of the top doubler, approximately where you want the front of your motor mount to be. I prefer to use a pencil since the marks will virtually disappear if you're not looking for them.

Draw a faint line from the center of the rear of the fuselage, to the mark that you just made. This way we'll have a definite centerline with which to align our motor mount.

Using the tip of an Exacto knife, poke a small hole next to the carbon rod at each end of the mount, and next to the large portion of the mount in line with the grooves that we ground earlier. When you're certain that all six holes are where they need to be, poke the holes all the way through the airframe and enlarge them with a small screwdriver just enough so that you can easily pass your nylon ties through.

This is what the pattern of holes should look like when you're done.

Next we'll secure the motor and mount to the plane. I start by threading the rearmost zip tie around the carbon rod of the mount, then through the holes in the coroplast. Don't pull this tie tight yet however, since we want to tighten the front tie first to get the proper thrust angle. If you use a pair of pliers and a screwdriver like this, you can ratchet your zip ties down extremely tight, just be careful that you don't suck them right through the coroplast!

And here's the finished installation. If you look carefully, you can see the third nylon tie peeking out from under the motor. By installing the carbon tube, and using it to secure the mount to the plane, we can now switch motors simply by removing the screws. No zip tie cutting involved. All that's left is to install the 3mm prop adapter and prop and hook up the wiring.

Here's a view from the underside. When properly tightened, the nylon ties shouldn't allow anything to move around, but they shouldn't be threatening to pull through the plastic either.

Here's the latest Mugi Evo to come from the Big J Aviation production facility. Now I'm off to bed as I'm planning on test flying this bad boy tomorrow. If all goes as planned, the next tutorial will be on how to light this sucker up for some kick ass night flying action. Stay tuned.