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Posted by phil alvirez | Apr 26, 2014 @ 10:58 PM | 5,656 Views
i have been able to fly the plane several times, but not into thermals yet. still, i have reached the following conclusions:
1.-the plane flies superb. congrats to the designer(s). very stable and predictable.
the proportions are great, and with the AS3X gyros, it behaves like its big brother rad. absolutely amazing.
(i own a big rad, so i can tell you this).
2.-but it is important to consider that a micro is a micro. a very different kind of plane. 1st of all, the way you handle it: you don't feel it (41 grams). it is like as if it comes from another dimension. you have to re-think all-or you may break it.
3.-some want to make it so the wing can be removed for carrying it in its box, but for that, you have the option of dealing with 2 microscopic screws, or modding it for magnets. i rather keep the wing permanently attached.
4.- some propose to make all kinds of mod, but to me, adding any kind of weight will impair its performance. think about it before you try. just fly it as it is (i just added a hatch to protect the cell from dirt-but that weighs less than a gram).
5.- the plane handles wind as if were a big plane. eventually i tested in windy weather (see below), and you can see these comments all over the place, including videos, to confirm this.
6.-so, there is room for it, and for the big brother too. it's just that they belong to 2 very different worlds and you have to become accustomed to each 1.
it's being discussed here:
may 9:>>>>>an update: just came back from the field. it was not only windy, but turbulent.
it was the 1st time i flew it in this kind of weather.
it was shaking and bouncing, but all went well. flies like a 2 meters sailplane!
and i don't think i could be able to survive the ordeal without the gyros.
wonderful things they make.
and in the previous flights that i made in calm weather, it also behaved much better with the gyros.
Posted by phil alvirez | Apr 18, 2014 @ 06:31 PM | 5,409 Views
just when i thought that i was going to be away, they released the lil radian, an ultra micro that has been an instant hit, and me being an enthusiast of micros i had to have 1. i decided to 'canadice' it, removing the decals that come with it and sticking some maple leaves instead.
so here you have the canadian version.
this is the forum where it is being discussed:
details on the hatch: i just couldn't live having that large opening not only allowing dirt and water into the batt, but creating so much drag and turbulence, so got to think of an easy way to solve the puzzle. i fly at a field that is covered with wet grass, so it makes this mandatory for me.
i made a cover from clear plastic, just as i did to the large radian-and that has been working fine, by the way.
i had handy a piece of clear plastic of .016" (anything around that size seems fine), so i cut a rectangle of 3/4" x 1-1/8" and bent to fit. how well fits depends on your patience, so it's up to you. i bent the front edge inside so it does not scoop dirt if dragging at landing.
it is attached to 1 side with clear tape that acts as a hinge, and holds at the other side with clear tape too, that has a fold at the end so it is easy to lift to replace the batt , and adds only about 1 gram.
Posted by phil alvirez | Nov 26, 2013 @ 10:33 AM | 5,679 Views
human is the technological animal. still, some of us have that inclination for art. i like both, but early in my life opted for aviation, and spent many years into it. models and full size. but had that secret desire of art, so went to art shows and museums and admired all, although never dreamed of participating in it. late in my life suddenly all changed, found myself free of restrictions, and went to the local school of fine arts and spent 5 years learning to paint oil on canvas. but then i got the call for airplanes and came back for 8 years-and no art-until i realized i had all the planes i needed to fly when the weather was good, so no need to build more (see my blog). but what do i do with my time? so i decided to get back into art! recently my health is declining fast, and i hope there will be a cure for that, as i have so many ideas that would keep me busy for a long time, dreaming with my paintings and flying my planes.
anyway, i still will be able to soar with wings of eagles-in this world, or the other sooner or later. in the meantime, let's enjoy what we have. we don't know how long we will have it.
and i also want to thank you all folks for your help and encouragement in my endeavors.
your friend,
december 2013-good news: found the problem with my health and am taking the medication that is helping me to feel better and enjoy life.
Posted by phil alvirez | Oct 16, 2013 @ 02:18 PM | 5,930 Views
when having a crash-for any reason-it is interesting to analyze the parts and try to reach some conclusions. you may learn some things that help you in the future, be the plane a foamy or scratch-built, as is mine.
when i lost-and recovered-the Thermalis (see page 2 of this blog for details on the plane), i studied the wreckage, that happened as a consequence of loosing it in the fog. then i put it into a dive to minimize the distance from me. still, it fell at about 1 kilometer (.6 mile) and was spotted by a farmer recently, after more than 2 months, so it was pretty well weatherized. it fell at about 60 degrees so it hit hard. the firewall mounting was designed to be strong enough to handle normal situations, even including hard landings without damage, but in case of a crash it would came loose, as it did, so the motor/spinner/prop were not damaged. even the aluminum spinner came out without a scratch, mainly due to landing in farm soil. the wing is held in place with rubber bands, and wires running along the fuselage so in case of a crash it slides forward. so it did, and also came out undamaged. with some rain, and very high humidity, it was soaking wet, and i had to remove the bottom covering of the wing and let everything dry for several days.
the horizontal tail fell and water soaked it through the bare wood exposed at the center where it was glued, so was badly warped and softened, so i had to replace it, but was an easy task. the canopy, that is installed so it...Continue Reading
Posted by phil alvirez | Oct 15, 2013 @ 04:49 PM | 5,428 Views
cowt: whatsthat?
just as there is cavu and snafu, today i found myself at the field deep in cowt.
that is, Cold, Overcast, Windy, and Turbulent.
the forecast was telling that, but early in the morning it showed no wind, so i fell for it and ran to the field. the wind was not too much, and with a positive mind i tried to see it as sort of a challenge and flew my planes for practice.
planes shook, rattled and rolled, and landing was quite a challenge, and not easy to land on the runway.
but after all, flying is an adventure, isn't it?
Posted by phil alvirez | Oct 13, 2013 @ 01:28 PM | 4,751 Views
in the past few days i have been involved in the most fantastic experience. somehow, zillions of birds (literally, hundreds of thousands, believe me) have chosen the area where i fly to make their stage for that extraordinary performance that some times they do early in the morning and in the evening around sunset. i can see the dark cloud from 1 end of the horizon to the other. usually from west to east, suddenly changing direction like a wave, passing right over my head. and they are not scared of my plane, so i have to shy away to avoid a collision.
why they do this, just to enjoy flying together, doing that sudden change of direction; how they synchronize their movements to perfection, is something that escapes my comprehension (and we think we are superior!).
even yesterday on my way back home, they decided to land on an area around the road, so some just landed on the road, for about 1 kilometer, and i had to slow down to a crawl to avoid rolling over them, as they were not afraid of me.
amazing how they feel confident of you, like innocent children trusting you fully.
wonderful times to treasure in the chest of remembrances.
and add this to the joy of flying model airplanes!
Posted by phil alvirez | Oct 12, 2013 @ 04:15 PM | 4,607 Views
telemetry with screen
i got a system that am using with a screen, and i have been testing at the field, with great results. and it is for long range (4 miles).
before, i tried another with goggles, so i have been able to do a comparison.
at this time am flying with the plane in direct sight (LOS), so this 1 has the advantage that if i turn my eyes from the screen i can see the plane at any moment, and this gives me peace of mind. with the goggles i couldn't be sure where the plane was or was heading.
the system i have is from Alex Greve so you can email him at: or , includes all that is needed, including the screen, except for the connectors to match your batteries, and the only thing it needs is you to solder the connectors that fit your charger. it performs excellent, and the assistance by Alex is the best. he also has several videos (tutorials) where he explains all about it. see: and he is the 1 who runs the forum at where you can ask all the questions.
and here you will find some interesting points of view comparing goggles with screens:
the components i have, and got from him, are shown in this manual:
these are: in the plane:
1.3 transmitter; camera; filter; antenna.
on the ground: receiver; antenna.
according to Alex, all these can be purchased from Graves-RC:
and from HeliHobby:
but i also got from Alex the screen and the tripod, that can be purchased from other sources. ask him.
you also will need the packs for the transmitter (it is the same as the 1 you use for the radio), and the receiver.
in another post i will bring more details on the instal and the plane am using.
Posted by phil alvirez | Oct 09, 2013 @ 10:09 AM | 4,394 Views
there are days in which everything looks as if you are living a fantasy. not only everything works without fault. everything is perfect!
well, today was 1 of those days. it was dawn. sun just raised. 1st of all, the weather: clear sky, not a single cloud in sight, not too cold, no wind, no turbulence. and the planes flew as in a dream. nothing went wrong.
perfect landings (and several catches), all by myself.
and then came the birds: thousands of them, all flying in those spectacular all-together maneuvers, suddenly changing direction (you have seen that in national geographic documentaries), and nearby. then landed at the field next to ours, flew again and landed at the wires of the antennas of the radio station next to us. all this display for me to admire. they didn't worry about my planes flying close to them.
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 12, 2013 @ 04:44 PM | 5,491 Views
finished the 2nd version of Thermalis, as i lost the 1st in the fog. changes include a more powerful motor, servos in the fin, and a little bit more tip dihedral. 30 grams heavier due to the new motor (see details of the Mk 1 on page 2 of this blog)
this time i covered the whole wing in red, instead of yellow tips of the 1st 1, to improve visibility, and covered the fuselage and stab white, and the rudder/fin black. canopy held in place with velcro, and some maple leaves in dayglo trim. they really glow at distance!
Thermalis is an idea of an electric sailplane for soaring in calm to moderate wind. it has 80" wingspan and 10" chord almost to the tip, and 764 sq in; now weighs 956 grams (33.5 oz) with a 3x1400 mah pack.
the concept: a simple sailplane for rudder and elevator-no ailerons, for relaxed flying and getting into thermals (hence the name), in moderate wind conditions. the wing is 1 piece polyhedral and the fuselage is box type, 1/8" solid balsa, like the horizontal tail and rudder. another feature that i added was the t tail, that improves the stability and makes the response more precise, as the stab is clear from the wing's wake.
am happy with the way the plane flies. very stable, and needs very little throttle. as a consequence the pack lasts longer. somehow flies different-but better. i believe that planes have personality, and when building the same, no matter how accurately you build it, each 1 behaves different.
oct 12, 2013: today i got back the mk 1 and am in the process of restoring it.
oct 21: ready and waiting for a window in the weather to try it.
Posted by phil alvirez | Sep 07, 2013 @ 05:44 AM | 4,627 Views
the idea is to see things as if i were in the plane; a pilot's view. not a film made with a camera to watch later.
and not to fly beyond eyesight. there are specialized forums for that, but it's is not my goal.
i did research and found the predator system from fat shark the most convenient. it has enough image quality and is complete. the only addition i made was the circular antenna set, as they are less prone to signal loss.
so far i have flown a plane with the predator: it's an exhilarating experience. mind boggling. you have to try it to fully understand the feeling, and once you do, you are hooked.
i have flown r/c for years, but you are watching the plane from a distance, and even if it is a great sensation, nothing compares to 'being there'.
from my brief experience i learned that:
1.-you need a spotter. always. that means, some1 near you to tell you if your plane is drifting too far, and/or where is it;
2.- google and print a plan of the area where you are going to fly;
3.-get the extra antenna.
i did none of the above and lost my plane. what happened was that i placed the transmitter antenna inside the fuselage along with it, so i got signal and then lost it-on and on-and i got disoriented.
as i did not have any1 to tell me where the plane was-or was heading-i had no idea where to steer it, and also no idea where i was.
with the stock antenna inside and along the fuselage, the things inside blocked the signal when i was turning.
if i had it outside and pointing upwards it could be way better, and even more with the circular antenna.
with a spotter i could bring back the plane. and if i had the map of the area i could find out where i was.
i did search the forums and asked questions about for instance where to place the components, but did not get any help.
but you now have my view and experience to save the aggravation. i hope this helps.
and welcome to the most fantastic experience!
Posted by phil alvirez | Aug 18, 2013 @ 06:29 AM | 4,911 Views
i would like to fly my plane and experience the same sensation as if i were in the pilot's position; to see the same that we see in those videos filmed with a camera, but with me piloting the plane.
some have started threads on long distance piloting, the so-called first person view (FPV), but that's a completely different idea, and also requires other kind of equipment, and most of it has to be made or adapted by the user.
it all started when hobby king sent me a notice of a product that they were releasing, so i went into the threads on fpv, but realized that i wanted a completely different thing. after some research i decided for a ready-to-use product (that was also way less expensive) that is easy to add to the regular gear, and start experiencing that sensation of flying the plane inside of it, not watching it from a distance. the idea is to fly within eyesight, not beyond that. i will install it in a kind of trainer plane and will keep bringing comments as it goes. as soon as i get the package i will bring comments. in the meantime am preparing my plane for that. stay adding details at the end of this post.
>>>the plane i choose was my 60" Elf, an all-balsa and tissue (litespan, really) high winger with undercamber airfoil (i will post pics) that is just an enlarged version of my 48" Elf that you can see somewhere in page 1 of this blog. it was electric when i 1st built it back in the 80's, and is in perfect shape despite so many...Continue Reading
Posted by phil alvirez | Aug 03, 2013 @ 03:55 PM | 4,750 Views
today went flying at dawn. did 6 flights until the sun raised. there was fog at ground level, up to 15 ft (5 meters), and above was clear and no wind.
all went well. until...on my 7th flight i climbed and cut motor and started to glide. then moskitos (yes, with k) decided to swarm on me and i got distracted for about 10 seconds. but when i tried to see my plane it was gone. fog had raised at the moment the sun raised too, and there was all around. so fast as i never have seen.
looked around but it was fog all over. put the plane in a spin, in hope that it would show, but at no avail. it should be nearby, but could not find it.
and 5 minutes later, the sky was clear again. not a single cloud or fog around. nice.
o well, i had plans to build a 2nd version of that plane anyway.
the only thing that occurs to me to avoid this is never take your eyes from your plane.
even if moskitos are diving on you en mass.
but it's hard to avoid them and keep controlling your plane...
by the way, as i was checking the readings on my telemetry (quanum) and noticed they were getting close to the limit, i was thinking that this would be the last flight.
i think the gremlins were listening to my thoughts...
i said somewhere in my blog that if you say that it is going to be your last flight, it will be. i should remember that.
april 5, 2014-an update: 2 months later, a tractor pulled in the field and the guy handled to me the plane. he said that just found it. it was all well weatherized-if you...Continue Reading
Posted by phil alvirez | Jul 29, 2013 @ 03:21 PM | 5,420 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 | 5,424 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 | 4,807 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 | 4,610 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 | 4,968 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 | 4,946 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 | 5,688 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 | 4,948 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