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phil alvirez's blog
Posted by phil alvirez | Jul 29, 2013 @ 03:21 PM | 4,902 Views
have you noticed how even the experts , that can do anything, look weary when landing?
up there, they look confident, but when approaching mother earth, their knees shake and seem so worried. it is the proximity to the ground that makes things more dangerous, as up there in the wide sky you have lots of space to compensate for mistakes. it is indeed the most dangerous moment of the flight. considering that, i decided that it was the thing that i had to practice more. does it make sense? as am now into electrics, it makes easy to launch (or take-off) and land frequently, so i have been doing short flights, with about 30 seconds climb to cruise, then stop the motor, turn and land. dead stick every time. it takes about 1 minute for the whole flight, so with 1 charge am able to do 30 flights-and landings-in 30 minutes. it took me some years to reach 6,000 landings-after that i stopped counting-and that included many catches, too. now that am flying 2 meters sailplanes, and can fly with some wind, things are paying off. most of my landings are smooth and close to me. the only rule i have is that it is better to have a nice landing far away, than a crash nearby. once when i went to the nats at los alamitos nas, i had the chance to watch the guys practicing touch and go's with hellcats and avengers. so many landings in so little time! they gave me the idea. of course, you can do that: instead of landing, just when your plane touches the ground, crack the throttle and away you go! once you get used to it, you develop reflexes and things begin to look easy. you become the plane. it's like learning to walk. you don't need to think how to give each step, right? as some1 said: practice makes perfection. then landing becomes a pleasure, instead of a torture. enjoy!
Posted by phil alvirez | Jul 27, 2013 @ 05:30 AM | 4,965 Views
guys, i have to share this with you:
on thursday afternoon the sky was clear and seemed to be no wind, so got my stock radian (a 2 mt e-sailplane) and ran to the field. there were no clouds, but it was windy. anyway, i launched the radian and realized that up there not only the wind was not as strong, but there was no turbulence at all! and then, in clear air, i got into a thermal! 3 flights and the same. wonderful experience.
next day early in the morning the weather channels showed no wind, so i took 2 of my sailplanes and back to the field. arrived at dawn. this time it was zero wind, and again, no turbulence. all went well. long, wonderful flights, with smooth landings nearby. no thermals from 6 to 8 am, but still the flights were as in a dream.
memories that i will treasure forever!
Posted by phil alvirez | Jul 17, 2013 @ 09:24 AM | 4,341 Views
today i went flying at dawn, as usual, and everything went fine. but i had an unusual experience: on my way out of the field, at the gravel road, i noticed a brown hawk standing on my way. i could see its profile, like in a picture. it didn't move when i approached it, so i stopped. after a minute i started rolling very slowly, but it didn't move. it was until i was at about 10 feet that it decided to fly, but just for about some 15 feet, and that, on the road again. then, when noticed that i still was rolling in the same direction, after a while, decided to fly in another direction and land not too far. i was never so close to a hawk, so i had the chance to watch and admire it. magnificent creatures! it didn't seem hurt or tired. just landed wherever and was not intimidated by the presence of the car.
and i have witnessed this attitude of wildlife here in canada, be in the wilderness or in town, and never cease to impress me. geese, swans, mallard, gulls, whatever: they are not afraid of us. they make the impression that they own the land and know that we are not going to hurt them.
i have many anecdotes related to this attitude that i will start bringing here for whoever wants to read them.
and please feel free to bring yours too.
Posted by phil alvirez | Jul 05, 2013 @ 12:57 PM | 4,207 Views
for those old enough to remember the movie, these words may bring good memories.
this morning i woke up at 6 and look at the window, and seemed as if there was no wind! checked at the weather channels and showed the same, so got my things and rushed to the field. brought with me the radian, a 2 mt electric sailplane foamie that is the fastest gun in the west-i mean, to be in the air in no time. plugged in the quanum, that gives me battery charge available at the plane, and throwed it into the air.
there was some drizzle that kept increasing until my transmitter was collecting too much water, so i had to quit after some 6 or 7 flights that brought the plane to the low gray clouds that were all over.
but it was a pleasant window in the weather that allowed me to enjoy flying.
as the weather has been deteriorating (and still some think that there is no such a thing), the chances to fly are getting less and less every year, so i try to be alert and catch any opportunity to have at least a few flights.
i fly alone (at dawn there are no fellows as enthusiast as me-some say it's madness), and at a field that is isolated, so no 1 sees me (except the birds), but i was having so much fun, that i was laughing at clouds, really.
singing in the rain indeed.
Posted by phil alvirez | Jun 28, 2013 @ 09:19 AM | 4,539 Views
how do you answer to that question, especially if you are back from the field, and not everything went right?
usually, you answer: 'fine, thank you. and you?' (the normal exchange of lies). or 'not too bad'.

now, if you are not feeling so good, or something is wrong, and you don't want to lie, or start talking about your misery-that nobody wants to hear-why not give a better answer?
for instance:
#1.-if things are not so bad, you can say: 'am doing the best i can'. this way you are not lying, but don't want to talk about it, and have a positive attitude.
#2.-if you look 'under the weather', or things have gone bad, then: 'i have seen better days'.
(i got these 2 from movies, and use them all the time).

and above all, smile. most of the time it could be worse.
Posted by phil alvirez | Jun 23, 2013 @ 03:43 PM | 4,506 Views
for those who, like me, have the choice to fly alone or with others, it has its great advantages.
1st of all, there is less stress. no worries about collisions. you don't have to keep an eye on others, or to have a spotter (some1 near you watching for others flights-that is, if there is some1 available). no need to ask for favors-and then to watch for others.
that's a great feeling of freedom, too.
besides, you don't have to push yourself to do all just right, or not make mistakes, as some1 is watching. you know, when you are alone, as you are relaxed, most likely all goes fine, but if there is some1 you feel watched and is more likely that you will do something wrong.
also, in my case, i fly alone because i fly at dawn, and no 1 is an early bird.
all my life i had that thing of waking at 4 and watching the light begin to show all the colors of dawn and sunrise. then at the field we have the chance to fly electrics early, as they don't make noise-or almost-and as there is a farm nearby, there is a deal with the farmer not to awake them with the noise of engines.
and that's another reason why i got into electrics, too.
and you don't have to face some1 telling you what to do with your plane, too.
but then again, you can't get advice when you need it, or if you forget something.
but at the end of the day, i trade this for peace of mind.
and the fields around are so nice, all green and beautiful, so quiet...occasionally a car passes by the nearby road, that's all.
there is some wildlife, like geese, gulls, hawks, buzzards, swallows, all kinds of birds,and now and then a deer. but they don't bother you.
well, except that recently some birds chase my sailplanes when landing, as they have nests to guard.
and, as i have been a loner all my life,i enjoy my freedom.
Saint Bernadette said: 'solitude is the happiest privilege'.
Posted by phil alvirez | Jun 20, 2013 @ 06:56 PM | 5,273 Views
i was introduced to telemetry with the quanum from hobby king. as basically i need to know the voltage of the battery in the airplane, it fulfills my requirements.
then i became curious about getting altitude changes to detect thermals, and learned that frsky has some products (variometers) that could get me this, so i ordered some components.
so far, i have been getting great advice from some experts, but am terribly disappointed, as it has been a painful experience, as the data available from the manufacturer lacks many vital information and details to get the results i need. i was not prepared to face the fact that the user has to be an expert in computers and specifically the products of frsky. i think that at the beginning of the thread (and in the manuals of the products) should be mentioned that you have to have something like a masters degree in comps and frsky telemetry to get into this.
i was used to get manuals that, even if not complete in all details, the user can get the plane to the air.
perhaps as i grew up in the environment of full size aviation, and learned to fly an airplane before driving a car, i got used to follow exactly the log in all details, and understand everything in it and check twice all, and later worked at the engineering department of a major airline where i had, among other duties, the responsibility of the service manuals, where everything has to be written precisely and exactly, that i got used to exact instructions.
i am not...Continue Reading
Posted by phil alvirez | Jun 20, 2013 @ 12:10 PM | 4,538 Views
i have been using the quanum systematically (2 sets) to keep track of the charge available in the airplane in several of my sailplanes, and these are the conclusions i have reached:
1 of them ran uneventfully for some time. no problems. after initial binding, every time just plugged the tx in the plane's charging plug of the pack (no pushing the bind button), then turned the screen on and away she went. i got readings of all the cells, and the alarms went off as scheduled.
but lately i need to press and hold the bind button on the rx before i plug it to the pack, and also to press both buttons of the screen at start, otherwise does not connect to the tx. otherwise all is ok.
with the 2nd 1 i began to get warnings of 'no signal' and the screen went blank for several seconds, then the figures reappeared. i was using the small antenna, and replaced it with the stock, keep the cell fully charged, and this has not happened so far. with this set i have to bind it every time i use it, just as i detailed in the previous paragraph. i don't know if this is happening only to my 2 sets, or also to some other modelers. i would like to hear from any1 who purchased 1 and is using it how is he doing.
in my opinion, it is a remarkable system, that provides a safeguard against packs going too low and then crashing or loosing the model, for a reasonable price and ease of operation-even with the drawbacks mentioned before. installing and using it requires no previous knowledge and the...Continue Reading
Posted by phil alvirez | Jun 02, 2013 @ 05:42 AM | 4,570 Views
i am of germanic descend, from the germanic tribes that settled at the northwest of spain-therefore my appearance and name.
in mexico i married a woman of spanish/mexican descend and raised a family.
we migrated to canada with our children.
our daughter married a guy from chile and raised a family.
our youngest son married an italian girl and adopted a chinese girl.

a typical north american family.
Posted by phil alvirez | Jun 01, 2013 @ 03:17 PM | 4,510 Views
ok guys, from all that i read here, 2 cells are better for the 9xr, as there is less heath to dissipate, and as i have some 2x1000's and some parts, i decided to give it a try. these are the details:
i happened to have some connectors (the white plastic pieces) for 2 and 3 cells connectors that match the 1s at the 9xr, so i removed the 3 pins from the 2 cells battery and plugged them in the receptacle of a 3 cells connector, so now it fits into the radio. the black wire goes to the bottom, the blue to the 2nd, the 3rd is blank, and the 4th takes the red. that's the way i understand it should go. i don't remember where i got the parts, but there is an option: removing the pins from a 3 cells battery and using the receptacle to plug in the 3 pins from the 2 cells.
it may be other ways to do this, but this was the easiest for me.
i hope we hear comments from those who have done this.
still, you have to use a large capacity pack to stay charged long enough.
i tried a 1000 but does not last very long before the alarm goes off.
Posted by phil alvirez | May 27, 2013 @ 08:26 AM | 6,261 Views
although my experience has been only using the basic readings of volts, and this with quanum, i think that it could be of some use for some.
1st of all, what is the good thing of quanum? well, it is independent from your radio, so you can use with any radio. no electronic link, no programmimg the radio. the only connection it has is with the pack that goes into the plane, as it takes power from it, from the other end that is used for charging.
so, what is it? the 16 grams basic unit (that goes into the plane) is a transmitter with a built-in voltmeter. that's it. (you may add an amps/temperature probe too). what it does it senses the volts on your pack and sends readings of all and every cell it to the receiver (screen), that can be mounted on your radio (transmitter) or on your wrist, like a watch. there you see what's going on in your plane. it helps to avoid draining your pack below limits so you don't reduce the pack's life or, more important, to run out of power while in flight.
this is the product: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dproduct=10343
charging:
1.-once you get it, unwrap it from its nice package that has instructions for binding-but no more, and charge the screen (receiver) by plugging the usb cable to your computer, or with the adapter to your cigarette lighter in your car. it will show full charge at the icon on the lower left corner, that is like the 1 on your cellular.
2.- now remove that sticker from the screen. at least,...Continue Reading
Posted by phil alvirez | May 07, 2013 @ 04:32 PM | 7,891 Views
akropolitan (from greek=inhabitant of the heights) is a hybrid that uses the fuse/tail/avionics of a fox 2.35 meters ws: http://www.bananahobby.com/4-ch-fms-fox-arf.html and a wing that i designed for thermaling, so it has the looks that i like, and flies more to my liking.
i enlarged the wing to 100" with undercambered, thin airfoil, 10" chord, 960 sqin; 2 pieces wing with gull dihedral to lower the center of gravity, and raised tips. 1/8x1/4 over/under spruce main spars with 1/64 webs, and 2 sets of 1/8 sq over/under spruce spars. 1/16 v trailing edge, 1/8 cf tubing leading edge. 1/4" dural join bar plugged in cf tubings. covering is hangar9 HANU950 transparent red, and solarfilm SLF125 tr yellow tips. auw is 1100 gr (about 39 oz) with a 3x1300 pack. i also enlarged the tail by adding 1" to the chord of the elevator and rudder. balance is at 33%, and the pack sits at the back of the canopy. after further tests i added 1" more to the rudder, as it was sluggish. i added quanum telemetry (16 gr). elevator is very sensitive anyway. although not intended for it, recently i flew it in extremely windy and gusty weather. it handles it well but there is wing flutter when climbing on full power. but on calm to moderate wind it is ok.
Posted by phil alvirez | Apr 22, 2013 @ 05:29 AM | 9,918 Views
i have been flying my planes for many years, but it has been in warm weather...until now.
in those years, i got into thermals regularly, and grew under the impression that it had to be warm weather in order to climb with the help of hot air (the so called 'thermals'). but recently i have been flying near freezing, and have witnessed my planes climbing and staying up there for a long time. some say that is the differential temperature that makes air go up. that is, if there is air at, let's say, -20c, and surrounding air is -10c, that mass of air will go up. so if in freezing air, and then we encounter not-so-freezing air, that makes planes go (or stay-up) there, why call them 'thermals'? shouldn't be more correct to call them something like 'rising air'? or 'risers'?
the original word comes from greek: therme=heat. see:
i found this in etymologies:
from Greek therme "heat," from PIE *ghwerm-/*ghworm- "warm" (cf. Latin fornax "an oven, kiln," formus "warm," Old English wearm; see warm). Sense of "having to do with heat" is first recorded 1837. The noun meaning "rising current of relatively warm air" is recorded from 1933.

and the last 1 brings the key word (relative), as i mentioned when i said that it is the differential temperature. 'relatively warm air' means that what matters is that some mass of air is warmer than the surroundings.
there is some interesting data about their shape here: http://www....Continue Reading
Posted by phil alvirez | Apr 12, 2013 @ 02:50 PM | 4,511 Views
at the beginning, sailplanes flew from slopes, like at elmira, new york, where an upward draft kept them airborne. no need to go anywhere, just stay into the upward wind. like the planes at slopes do, so a shorter wing was better for smaller diameter turns.
then they began to get into thermals, and as they gained altitude could go somewhere else and get into another thermal. so distance was the goal, and then wings began to get longer and thinner-the trend that we see today. but models that copy the shape of full size narrow wings find themselves into trouble, as they tip stall easily. the problem is due to the air density, that makes the smaller wings less efficient the smaller they get (that Reynolds number thing).
and if we look at birds, sure those that stay around, like buzzards, haws, and eagles, have short wings, and those who go places, like albatross, have long, narrow wings. and the chord of all is almost the same all through the wing. no taper nothing. just the tips. so they may know better, after millions of years of evolution. and they use turbulators too. just think about it.
Posted by phil alvirez | Mar 30, 2013 @ 05:49 PM | 5,094 Views
radios with nicads or similar.
i came back in 2006, just at the time when 2.4 was released. i got a DX6 and soon realized that the battery in the tx (8 nicad cells) didn't last long. then some1 released a 3 cells lipo for txs and have used it for 6 years, and since i have had no problems-with that radio.
last year i got 1 DX6i, that comes with 4 nicads, and used it with them. last season began to experience power failures. i had several planes crashing. i began exchanging rxs, then escs, replaced connectors for larger, also larger packs. nothing helped. then began to suspect the towers nearby were the cause. or the windmills that were installed not far away (they operate with microwaves). then 1 day when i landed, walked to my plane and at the moment i was going to switch the tx off i noticed that the screen was blank-and the switch still was on. i thought that my tx was history.
but at home i decided to check, starting with the easiest thing. and when pressing the cells i noticed that the screen came back to life: it was a false contact! i decided to install a 2 cells lipo (the largest that fits is the 2x610-and i had it), so i did the mod similar to the way of the orange tx http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...y_Mode_2_.html . (see last picture on the right). melted a rectangular hole and fitted a male connector, and adapted the pack to match. as i have a lipo charger that charges and balances at the same time, and am familiar with lipos, i didn't have to get anything else. now the radio operates flawlessly. i strongly recommend to do this to all radios that use batteries of single cells, as are prone to have false contacts unexpectedly, as happened to me.
Posted by phil alvirez | Mar 30, 2013 @ 12:20 PM | 6,956 Views
Lynx was developed to find out if a sailplane with 1.5 meters wingspan and same weight and wing area than a 2 meters (like the Rex) can get into smaller diameter thermals.
the 460 sq in wing that sits on top of the fuselage and is held in place with 1 nylon bolt, has an undercambered airfoil with 8" constant chord and tips tapered to 5", 4 polyhedral panels. over/under 1/8x1/4 spruce spars with 1/64 ply webs, 1/16 'v' shaped trailing edge, 1/8 carbon fiber tubing leading edge and 3-1/16x1/8 spruce turbulators. covering is ultracote transparent orange; the auw is 510 grams with a 2x1000 pack.
the fuselage is made from the foam remainders of the 1st fuselage from the Thermal Rex, that was replaced with a spare that i was lucky to get when i got the asw28.
the nose section was badly damaged, but from the wing trailing edge aft was in good shape, so i adapted a balsa and ply front section that runs from the trailing edge of the wing to the nose, using a foam insert between the trailing edge and leading edge so that section is solid foam. the sides and bottom are 1/8 balsa with 1/64 plywood, and i added a plastic canopy from sig mfg. motor/prop/spinner/esc/pack are the same as the Rex. when checking the elevator pushrod i learned that there was too much drag, due to the 's' shape trajectory, so i replaced it with a servo near the top of the fin. now i get a smooth, precise response.
i still have to have good weather to compare both, but from the preliminary short tests they are stable and perform well. it is going to be an interesting evaluation in thermals.
Posted by phil alvirez | Mar 27, 2013 @ 06:23 PM | 4,350 Views
when i was doing indoor free flight i met some of the greatest folks ever. and got advice from the best. besides the technical, some gave me a point of view that is worth considering. Steve Brown, world champ, once asked me: are you having fun? i said 'yes', and he said 'good'. that was all.
another of the greats, Walt Van Gorder, when advising me about a plane said : 'it ain't easy. if it were, it wouldn't be fun'.
so there you have it. all about this hobby is making it fun, having fun doing whatever. nothing is easy or difficult: it's fun.
enjoy.
Posted by phil alvirez | Mar 27, 2013 @ 12:21 AM | 4,551 Views
the idea started when i was considering getting a fuselage of a sailplane similar to the ask 21 that i like very much, and design a wing/tail for thermaling, even if this means not looking scale-like. i just like the shape of modern sailplanes fuselages. so this means engineering the whole thing to match the fuselage, and it is not an easy task. after shopping for a suitable fuselage, i ended up buying first a 2 mt ask 21 from hobby king, and later an asw 28 from same source. then i decided to give them a try as they are, before discarding the wings and tayloring new sets for thermaling, with larger area and higher lift airfoils. the result was that both planes crashed several times due to strong tendency to tip stall. i tried improving them by adding dihedral to the '28, and then enlarging their wing area, but even if showed some improvement, still they were not pleasurable to fly, to say it mildly.
i have been able to work on the '28 wing. the new wing, that has more area, also uses a naca 6409 high lift airfoil that i have used extensively through the years, and polyhedral, and the results were a great improvement, and no more tip stall tendency. with this i even managed to get rid of the ailerons, so now i am able to do all that i need with only rudder and elevator.
see my blog. i will add more as i finish-and fly test-them.
Posted by phil alvirez | Mar 09, 2013 @ 10:08 AM | 4,487 Views
Maverick started with the availability at the time, of the fuselage/canopy/prop/spinner of the Dynamic-s, a hotliner with v-tail
i used the prop/spinner that come with it, and found a motor that looks close enough to the stock.
but the main difference is that i designed it for thermaling, with a larger wing, and t-tail instead of the v-tail.
as the v-tail comes with a wide base that works well for a t-tail, and the wiring for the servos, it made my life easier. mounting the wing on top, too.
the tail instal is similar to the Thermalis, except that there are no belcranks, and the elevator servo sits up near the stabilizer, with a direct-and short-pushrod that provides precise commands. the rudder servo sits at the bottom.
the wing is 8" chord and 5" tips, undercambered airfoil, and uses an over/under spar of 1/8x1/4 spruce with 1/64 ply webs, and 3 turbulators; the leading edge is 1/8 cf tubing with 1/8x1/4 balsa, and the trailing edge is 3/16x3/4 balsa. ribs are 1/16 hard balsa, has 1 center section flat, and is held in place with 2 nylon screws that fit into the stock mounts in the fuselage. the covering on top is transparent orange solarfilm and transparent red ultracote lite tips, the bottom is clear microlite.
i found the motor 35-36/910 kv, that weighs 117 grams, the closest to the stock, and it works fine. it delivers an enormous amount of power.
with 600 sq in and 690 grams auw, the wing loading is similar to the Thermalis, and the glide is good for...Continue Reading
Posted by phil alvirez | Feb 18, 2013 @ 09:03 PM | 5,231 Views
those were the days, my friend...
chapter 1.-in 1 of my many lives (my son calls me 'the cat', as i have lived-and survived-many adventures), i had a hobby shop at a mall, where i gave free building and flying lessons to my customers, most of them children from 8 years up. i had a building board and benches where they sat, and customers passing by were amazed at the sight-and some became members of the free club. when they finished their planes they took them to the field and i taught them to fly, be control line or radio. at the time i had my 1st Elf, a high wing trainer with a single channel radio, that was so stable that could fly free flight, and everybody wanted to fly it.
you can see pics of it somewhere here (i think is page 5-this is getting out of hand!)
2.- soon i learned that i had to arrive at dawn to be able to fly it, and even then they learned that and i had to do something else to have a chance to fly it. so i decided to sell kits, and later ready to fly planes, with free flying lessons included. this way at least i had the chance to fly mine now and then.
3.- there were visitors that became fascinated with the plane once they had the chance to fly it. 1 of them was a lady that walking by the mall became interested in giving her husband a plane so he could get into the hobby. she even went to the field and wanted to try it, so i handled her the transmitter and gave her some instructions and there she was, having a ball. once the engine stopped, the plane...Continue Reading