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phil alvirez's blog
Posted by phil alvirez | Apr 10, 2015 @ 07:25 AM | 1,803 Views
1 of the main reasons why i keep so many planes, and all in good shape, is that i don't take chances. if windy, i don't risk them. that is, until now. recently it seemed not so windy, but when i arrived at the field it was blowing strong and turbulent. but still i decided to give it a go. and this was a 30 inches wingspan light plane. i never flew it in such conditions-not even close. and flew she did. bouncing and jumping, but landed safely, with almost zero forward speed. not comfortable flying, but controllable.
how could i do this? how could i dare to do this?
well, i happen to have 1 of the new stabilizers, that i tested before in several planes in moderate wind and were so convincing that this time i decided to try it to its limit.
so now am able to fly small planes in windy weather, in small fields near home, and see them flying like way larger planes-although i don't think will try this windy again.
the device includes the receiver, and weighs only 8 grams, so the plane barely feels the extra weight. full range, adjustable response, great instructions and support.
and a forum:
Posted by phil alvirez | Apr 03, 2015 @ 11:19 PM | 2,495 Views
back at the nearby park, no snow, neither ice at the lake. better still, the 2 swans are back, although not on the water. perhaps it still is too cold for staying in it.
and some ducks on the water too.
means they are back because it is the time of the year to return, but still colder than what should be?
anyway, it was great to have little wind, so i could try my wings again.
for the past few years the swans have settled for the good weather. it is a great view.
like a post card. and all of them seem to feel comfortable when my planes fly by (maybe because all are electric).
this time i was anxious to try several things. 1 of them a stabilizer, that lets my small planes handle wind like bigger planes.
the other a vario, that i am exploring to detect thermals when it sounds tones.
both worked fine, but takes time to program them to my satisfaction, so am progressing on it. amazing technology at the reach of our hand!
Posted by phil alvirez | Mar 17, 2015 @ 02:03 PM | 2,921 Views
yesterday was not so windy and above freezing so went to the park nearby.
the pond was still frozen but there was almost no snow on the grass.
a pleasant time i had.
and even more when in 1 flight, 2 'v' shaped geese formations flew near my plane.
they maneuvered to avoid my plane, otherwise just honking happily.
it was a pleasure to see them again. although not expected so soon.
maybe as the climate is going weirder every year they are disoriented about when to come back i guess.
they usually land on the pond but, as i said, it still is frozen.
Posted by phil alvirez | Mar 13, 2015 @ 12:44 PM | 3,201 Views
well, after surviving the coldest winter (even colder than the '13, but shorter), and with the snow melting, i noticed that there was almost no wind, so picked up my 2 stock umx radians (that have gyros), went to the nearby park and gave them a try. i just could not resist anymore the urge to fly! it was not too cold, just around freezing, and a slight breeze, so launched the plane, climbed as high as i could still see it and had a great flight, and then at landing catched it. just like if it were spring or summer. then at the 2nd flight i could not believe my eyes: there it was, jumping up into a strong thermal! never caught a thermal near freezing, so was not prepared for it. (perhaps because there are some homes under). i kept enjoying it for a while, but my fingers were getting stiff with the cold so decided to fly it out of the thermal and eventually landed. not much wind, so the gyros could take care of it. just some turbulence near the ground. spring is still around the corner, but this was an opportunity that could not let go away
so, get ready, folks!
Posted by phil alvirez | Feb 28, 2015 @ 09:25 AM | 2,714 Views
i have many planes of several types, but the 1 with which i have more fun is the least expensive, and i can fly in places nearby. as close as the park at the back of my home ( i have flown it at my son's street too, where are no trees or obstacles). it is a short walk. the plane is the umx radian from horizon hobby, and is 30 inches wingspan and weighs 43 grams. i keep it assembled so there is no need to do anything else. and it is equiped with the latest advances in electronics. like gyros to stabilize it so it can fly in some wind, like larger planes.
the cost: back in the 70's, a 4 channels radio was $300; now i have the 6 ch orange for $50 ( no servos) and is computarized, so can program many things. even if you add lipo battery ($15) and shipping ($30), it still a bargain. ( i could use nicads, but am using a lipo that needs a charger. i got mine for $70, and use it for charging all my other planes too). and is 2.4, that there is no interference so you can fly even if others are flying too and don't have to worry about checking frequencies or that some1 shoots you down. then add the plane: i got the radian for $100 including shipping and some spares. it comes with a battery and charger and is ready to fly. it is all that you need to fly. then i got some batteries for extra flights, for $1.50 each. i can charge them at least 50 times and get 5 minutes of motor run, but as i use the motor just for climbing and that takes 30 seconds, i get 8 flights per charge. do the maths: for $1.50 i get 50 charges and 8 flights per charge=$1.50/400 flights=.375 cents per flight. that's right: about 1 cent per 3 flights.
so it depends what kind of planes you want to fly, but you can get something like this and, as i said, i am having more fun with it than with anything else.
this it the radian:
Posted by phil alvirez | Feb 18, 2015 @ 12:34 PM | 3,878 Views
the wisdom of purring
since i remember, i had a cat nearby. and he managed to make me happy, just by purring. he seemed to be telling me in his wisdom: we have all that we need to be happy, isn't it?
so, to me, hearing a cat purring reminds me that the things in life that really matter are at the reach of our hand.
the basics that we need to be happy.

for modelers, there are other sounds that make us happy. like the whirl of an electric motor. or the whisper of a prop of an electric plane like the radian. or for others the sound of an engine. that is all that we need to be happy. whatever.

as long as we don't forget what really matters in life, and that frequently we do.

so, enjoy the sound of happiness, whichever you like best.
Posted by phil alvirez | Feb 15, 2015 @ 04:01 PM | 3,773 Views
i went to johnson city tn with Stu Weckerly from detroit several times to fly indoor free flight and had the time of our lives. once on our way back on sunday we stopped for lunch at a small town. the houses were kept in good shape, all clean, people friendly. near the restaurant there was a park where there was people having a picnic. benches on the grass, colorful umbrelas, kids playing with balls, baloons, a pond with swans, and the band playing on. just like in the old movies. we had to stay there for a few minutes to soak into that atmosphere of happiness, that we carried with us for a long time.
from time to time i like to open the treasure chest of my memories and bring back that experience. memories are made of this...
Posted by phil alvirez | Dec 09, 2014 @ 09:54 AM | 4,318 Views
how often you have this conversation: a friend asks you if you heard that Jim (or whoever) died? then you say: but i just saw him last week!
then you remember when was last time you saw him.
then you think: i wish i had known that he was going to die, so i could then tell him what i thought about him, right?
it is easy to remember when was last time you saw (or talked to) some1.

but, do you know when is last time you are seeing (or talking to) some1?

if you think about it, then wouldn't you act differently any time you see (or talk to) some1?
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 29, 2014 @ 01:51 PM | 4,327 Views
this is the way i enjoy flying my planes:
since i flew free flight, i enjoyed rubber band powered, and engine powered planes; but most of all, hand launch and towline gliders. are you getting the point?
so when i got into the umx radian, i found myself living more than a dream, more than a fantasy. i carry the plane in the back of my car, and when i go shopping, if the weather seems ok, i drift to the nearby park (that has a pond and swans and the like) and launch my silent magic white thing and live a fantasy. and catching an ocassional thermal is even better! then, catching it and launching again...and on and on.
it is even better than dreaming. even if there are few onlookers, sometimes i see from the edge of my eye a fellow that stops and watches the entire flight and the catch and then he goes back to walking without saying a word. and that, is the most valuable testimony 1 can get. to see some1 feeling the same emotion of watching a silent cloud-like fantasy flying by. beyond chinese tales. not even aladin with his magic lamp had a dream like this. so, there are several ways to enjoy life. this this my way.
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 23, 2014 @ 08:12 AM | 4,670 Views
since the beginning, i learned that it is a matter of time-and learning-before i could successfully fly anything. 1st free flight, with hand launch gliders, then towline gliders, then rubber powered, then engines. later control line, r/c.
years later indoor free flight rubber powered. then indoor r/c at the gym.
but with all, the key was: perseverance. takes time to learn whatever you need, to achieve the ultimate goal: to fly your plane.
so, don't give up. the joy of seeing your plane flying is worth the effort.
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 21, 2014 @ 08:21 AM | 4,187 Views
from the time you watched a bird flying, or an airplane passing by, when your heart burned with desire of being there as a bird or in an airplane, it could not vanish.
you wanted to be there. then you had the chance to get into an airplane and fly. that feeling, that sensation of moving in 3 dimensions, that could only be achieved, at least partially when swimming under the water, was even stronger than ever. and when you discovered model airplanes, you wanted to fly them too. even if it is not the same, as you see them from the ground. but still somehow you felt as if you were in the airplane, or if you were the airplane. and when you get a new plane, especially if it is your 1st, and want to fly it, the sensation is burning inside you.
and then comes the weather...
bad weather, windy, stormy for days without end! no way to fly. what then?
hard to wait. but there is no other way-or you take a chance and crash it.
hard to keep the balance between passion and patience. but there is no other way.
and now we have the fpv, that thing that lets you see as if you were into the plane, and lets you get dizzy and loose control of where you are and what are you doing.
so many possibilities, so many ideas coming to your mind.
flying is the dream that goes beyond any other.
so, keep dreaming.
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 20, 2014 @ 09:30 AM | 4,179 Views
even if i fully agree with 'less is more' and try to do it myself, as a minimalist, i still understand that there are guys who like to go beyond the envelope and have fun doing it. experimenters not only enjoy doing it, but keep bringing new ideas that make our lives better. still, 1 of the wisest thing is to decide when to stop; how far wants to go in that particular endeavor.
so let each 1 have fun his way. you are right, they are right. we have to learn to live our way, and let others live their way. as long as no 1 tries to tell other what to do...
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 17, 2014 @ 12:04 PM | 4,403 Views
recently i had the chance to watch closely 1 of those gigantic propeller blades for windmills (called wind turbines). i was on the road to toronto when we saw it towed by a trailer, and we reached it slowly. i could not believe my eyes how sophisticated it was. then, as we stopped at a road restaurant, the trailer stopped there too, so i could walk back and forth to my leisure. so many details.
and i think there are few chances to have 1 laying down so it could be studied completely. i was just lucky. turbulators, wind deflectors, devices to release static electricity, everything that any could imagine. i have been intrigued by the propeller and have studied it so it was the time of my life. but this is science fiction at hand.
like this:
and if you want details, see here:
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 07, 2014 @ 11:07 PM | 4,816 Views
what works for me
for all that i have learned about it:
1.-place the cell (so-called battery) at 1/3 wing chord and then fly it:
2.- if it takes a few clicks to fly right (3-4):
3.- just shift the cell until takes zero trim;
4.- but if it needs more, then it needs changing decalage (please note: decalage, not decolage):
5.-if trim gives elevator up, it needs less stab incidence (decrease angle of attack-raise trailing edge or decrease leading edge);
6.-or the opposite: if trim gives elevator down, it needs more stab incidence (increase angle of attack of stab-lower trailing edge or raise leading edge).
to modify decalage:
7.-if needs less stab incidence, remove a thin layer from the join of the top fuselage where it matches the tail.
8.-if needs more stab incidence, insert a thin layer at the join.
(these are paper thin adjustments)
9.-do 1 at a time and test fly until it does not need trim (zero=elevator neutral).
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 02, 2014 @ 07:00 AM | 4,803 Views
what i remember is that i was born in a city. we lived in an apartment downtown. there was electricity and running water, but no refrigerator-still was not invented. neither we had ice box, so we went to the corner store to buy whatever for everyday needs.
the milkman brought milk everyday. we left the empties and he replaced them, and collected the money everynow and then. there was no toilet paper, and that was another reason to buy the newspaper. we had no telephone, so whenever we needed to use it we went to the corner store. but we had radio, and we listened to the news once a day, and other programs with music and entertainment. in the evening just before dinner there was a program for children, with great songs that i still remember. people was nice, and they married before they lived together. and all went to mass. sometimes airplanes flew overhead and that was an exciting experience. school was at walking distance-almost everything, and in case we needed it, city bus was all that we needed. no trafic lights yet. movies sometimes, playing at the park nearby, sometimes to the zoo, that was all about. and all that we needed to be happy.
Posted by phil alvirez | Oct 28, 2014 @ 11:16 AM | 4,843 Views
as in the song 'the gambler', you need to know when to hold it, when to fold it, when to walk away, when to run,
so i am back into my other hobby: oil painting on canvas.
when it freezes and gets windy, i better watch for a rare chinook (you know, the warm weather from the north that sometimes blows in winter) to fly sometime during the day so it is warm enough for my bones, and not early in the morning.
in the meantime, i have something else to keep me busy.
i may bring some comments at the forums now and then, but otherwise you will not hear from me very much.
until next spring....
Posted by phil alvirez | Oct 27, 2014 @ 08:53 PM | 5,156 Views
i started a thread on the subject, trying to learn which 1 is better. at another forum i got data that allowed me to fully understand the differences. see: (page 20). the point is that i wanted to know which is better and why, and now i got that. the most important thing is that, besides being more sensitive than stab/elevator, when giving 'down' commands it falls into negative decalage, that is, negative incidence respect to the wing, and that means unstable conditions, that may place the plane in critical situations.
i have been testing it, and have learned that the plane behaves erratic, i think due to this situation. there are also other factors that contribute to making this less convenient, and that is regarding to structure, as it is either fragile or heavier, tends to flex too much and vibrate, more difficult to build and repair, so i think i will stick with the conventional stab/elevator,
again, my view is that perhaps for full size airplanes that fly in transonic regime it is not only better but necessary due to the shock wave near speed of the sound, but not for models.
Posted by phil alvirez | Oct 26, 2014 @ 12:17 AM | 4,932 Views
conclusions on trimming and decalage
the data that i have found the most precise on the issue was mentioned by mikeruth in his post 3919 of the forum of the radian:
he said: Page 20 of this article is a very good explanation of Setting decalage and CG.
I have been using this for years.

the article was re-issued on 1992, and the copyright by Frank Deis is from 1990. it is the oldest i have ever seen on the subject, so the credit goes to him, and the flight test goes as far as 1973.
(by the way, the drawing has a mistake: in the rectangle at the left it says that cg is too far "forward" but should be "aft").
it shows how to do it and also shows tests on fixed stab and moving stabilator.
i will make a condensation of all that matters in that article. the goal is to have a decalage of about 1 to 3 degrees.
(decalage is the angular difference between the wing airfoil and the stabilizer).
this is the way i interpret it:
1.-start with a 33% balance point (called center of gravity);
test fly the plane:
2.-for a fixed stab (with moving elevator), trim the elevator until the plane glides well:
if the elevator is not parallel to the fixed stab, move the cg accordingly:
a.-if the elevator is up, move the cg back a little and try again until the elevator is parallel to the stab.
b.-if the elevator is down, move...Continue Reading
Posted by phil alvirez | Oct 25, 2014 @ 09:08 AM | 4,999 Views
Akin 45: a stretched super kinetic-see:
the concept: i had the idea of using a hotliner, that is sort of a sailplane with clipped wings, to enhance its performance for soaring by enlarging its wing, as it has all that it takes to make a sailplane, including folding prop. got the super kinetic because has a good size and there is a spare wing available. the original wingspan is 32 inches (815 mm) and enlarged it to 45-1/2, and added some dihedral at the tips. 2 1.5mm cf rods at the sides near the nose to reinforce it, and also some carbon fiber veil to the nose and a piece of 2mm steel wire to the stab spar at the center. added area to the rudder. made an exhaust opening at the top of the canopy near the back to improve air flow to cool the motor and esc. i named it Akin 45 because it is a plane akin to the kinect, just longer wing. weight gain from extra wing is 34 grams, and wing area jumps from 130 to 194 sq in. weight without pack is 333 gr and with the 3x850 (72 gr) is 405. originally balanced at 34 mm with the pack at the back of the canopy compartment. no ailerons to start, although i left the servos at the tips for a future use if needed, but i don't expect so. (then i will remove them and cover the slots). tested it and is erratic, as if the cg is too far forward, so i moved the pack to the under compartment an now balances at 39 mm. now is more predictable, but still more tests are needed. it is...Continue Reading
Posted by phil alvirez | Oct 25, 2014 @ 09:01 AM | 4,978 Views
swift gull 35": a compact sailplane. the idea is to use parts already available and stretch the wing to make a sailplane-for soaring.
starting with parts for a mini-swift 24"
i ordered 2 wings and used 1 for the center panels with constant chord and the other 1 for the tips. the reason for a gull wing dihedral is that, as the swift has the stab and the wing on the same line, the stab is in the wing's wake, and this means turbulence and consequently erratic response and unstability, so raising the center panels not only keeps the stab clear, but lowers the center of gravity and makes the plane more stable. and it worked as expected.
well, i had the chance to fly it and needed a lot of up elevator trim, so i checked the decalage and it was 0-0. meaning that there is no angular difference between wing and stab. no good. and it balances at 33%. so i decreased the stab incidence and tested it. this time it came with a lot...Continue Reading