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Archive for September, 2010
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 24, 2010 @ 12:28 PM | 4,393 Views
Conditions were good for the maiden on Wednesday afternoon so after a warm-up flight in the Extra I put the charged battery into the F-5 and set about going on a maiden.

AUW was 41 oz, I had set cg limits between 700 and 720mm from the nose, and this flight was towards the forward limit (700-710mm). Flight control check was good but in hindsight I realize I had never measured actual travels.

I set dual rates with some expo on the low rate, pulled out on the runway and put the coals to it, and it took off, leisurely. The ship was slightly nose heavy and seemed to be getting a slight roll with pitch input which I attribute to what must have been slightly assymetric deployment of the independent elevators. I felt the pushrods from the elevators to the servos were too long and soft, and will probably go up a guage or two on the next plane.

As I climbed away from the ground it seemed a bit draggy because I had a flap mix with the gear, so I tucked it all up and then she flew a little cleaner but I lost orientation, not a little, completely. I had some altitude so I didn't panic, and I put in up elevator and then a roll to the right, figured out where it was pointed, and put some power back in to climb up a little more. It took several dangerous turns and pitch ups to regain confidence in orientation. I thought I might lose it into the bay.

Because I had totally lost orientation (never happened to me before), I was a wreck - my hands were literally shaking and I was...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 22, 2010 @ 11:36 AM | 4,300 Views
After the issues with the gear collapse during taxi tests on Monday afternoon, I resolved to replace the stock main gear mechanisms. I stopped by the LHS and picked up a set of Thunder Tiger .10 Mains and spent a couple hours last night in minor surgery.

Removing the stocks wasn't as bad as I was afraid it might be and the Thunder Tiger mechanisms mount to the stock top plates but are WAY stronger and much more stable.

I removed the allen head set screw in the mechanism axle/pivot, pulled out the TT struts and then drilled out the base enough to accept the slightly wider shock struts. I then aligned the struts as best I could, reset the set screw, and put on a dab of CA to secure the struts. I am a little concerned because the shock strut features a flat surface that is inboard, while the TT base set screw is from the FWD/AFT side - that is part of why I hit the joint between the base and strut with some CA.

I adjusted the gear servos and zero point on the gear to a point where I get a little chatter/draw when retracted but they are locked down good and solid. The downlock is super solid, I am really happy with that, but the uplock is difficult at best.

Will maiden this afternoon if conditions permit and then continue adjusting the gear until both the up and down don't chatter but are solidy locked. This may be an issue with the retracted position because the wider shock strut seems to interfere with the operating rod, preventing a solid uplock - we will see.
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 21, 2010 @ 10:16 AM | 4,181 Views
Well I finished buttoning up the F-5N after work this afternoon and went out to the field - it was gray out and slightly dark but almost no wind, which would have made for great maiden conditions.

AUW with 4S 35C 2200 mAh installed is 41 oz, 9 oz over the claimed stock weight (which seems light to me - not sure where I added 9 oz, I can only account for 2.5 oz before battery), cg is between 700 and 720mm, call it 710 with the gear retracted. Unless I find something nasty on first flight I will be flying with no ballast.

I put a battery through the PZ Extra to warm up, then put a 3S in the F-5N to get some taxi practice and verify the gear were in good shape while the 4S finished charging. It is a good thing I did. Made minor adjustment to the down and locked position, then taxied my little heart out. That is until the set screw on the shock strut let go and the left main gear wheel turned 90 to the direction of travel.

Some CA acting as Loctite and back on the gear again 5 minutes later, still with the 3S. Did a couple high speed taxi runs and a range check, then on the way back to the pit to change in the fresh 4S battery and fly the maiden and the left main collapses when I hit some very loose dirt. I walk out, and check the plane, minor scrapes no damage, except the plunger on the gear which had snapped.

So, GP .10 mains are going in tomorrow - I was willing to give the stock gear a shot and the right main has been solid as a rock, but the left has been...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 19, 2010 @ 06:39 PM | 4,647 Views
Made major progress on my F-5N project in the last 30 hours or so.

Put power on for the first time, and then spent time identifying the rats nest of wires to my AR6200 Rx - checked all servos and they seem decent - still will replace the stock servos on the primary flight controls whenever I get my order from HK.

Replaced the main gear retract servos with HS65MG's - put light ply runners under the operating rods from the retract servos to the plunger, this keeps them from digging into the foam and stalling out which will strip the gears on a regular cheapy servo (ask how I know....)

Also used some light ply to reinforce the servo boxes for the mains - there was way too much movement of the servos after I removed the stock ones.

Adjusted, adjusted and adjusted some more to get the mains to appear to be achieving positive lock on the down position - the right main is the master, the left main is the slave, and I installed a reversing Y when I went with the upgraded servos - might need to tweak it a bit yet on the slave potentiometer.

Disassembled the nose gear, lubed it up and had to work it for a while to get free steering but it works great now.

Cut in flap servos and then spent some time making them work with the DX6i so that I have 3 flap positions - took some creativity. With the Gear switch and Flap switch up, the flaps are fully up, with the Gear or Flap switch down they deploy to a mid-setting (takeoff or approach), with the Gear switch down and then...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 16, 2010 @ 03:51 PM | 4,043 Views
Here are some pics of the F-5E, which I will call an F-5N going forward, taken at my office this morning in the daylight.

I really cannot say enough good things about how fantastic this thing looks given the $135 price point. The EPS is every bit as brittle as I feared compared to ParkZone's amazing Z-Foam, but handling the jet with care will be key to a long flying career.

I stopped by the LHS today looking for servo slows and a reversing Y, no joy - guess I can add them to my HK order but kind of a disappointment. I did manage to pick up supplies for my scale main landing gear outer doors, AIM-9L Inert and AN/ASQ-T50 AIS Pod.

The Sidewinder and instrumentation pod will be magnet-mounted to the missile rails with a small peg to keep them from moving fore/aft. If that goes as easily as I hope, I will carve up some additional magnet-mounted pylons for the other 5 stations from 6mm blue FFF, and may even make up a Centerline drop tank and a couple AIM-7 Sparrows or possibly AIM-120 AMRAAM's for posing when in the pits.

Starting to look into the modular e-flight light setup for my landing and nav light setup. Iam interested in the color-changing afterburner LED setup from Hyperdyne Labs but haven't found any pricing info for it - sure looks cool and I typically fly my last flight about dusk so it would be a great way to end the day with some burner passes down the runway.

Here she is out in the southern California sun:




...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 15, 2010 @ 06:22 PM | 5,226 Views
This blog will cover the build-up and modification of the Starmax/Blitz RC Works F-5E 70mm EDF.

Recently I decided that I was ready to build and fly an EDF and I knew that I wanted a military aircraft, not something like the Habu, even though my first two planes were from Parkzone. I searched various marketers like Toysonics and Banana Hobby, and did some research here as well.

Further, I wanted an aircraft that was similar in scale to my PZ T-28C if possible, which I could fly with my DX6i, and which would fly well on a 4S setup since I already have a PolyCharger4 which can only go to 4S batteries. Every dollar I spend on RC planes is a dollar I don't get to spend flying the real things, so I am sensitive to having to start over with any technology.

I looked into the aircraft and found that although there were many complaints about the retracts and servos, reports were that the Starmax 70mm F-5E was a solid airframe, and best of all, it was nearly the same scale (1/10.9) as my PZ T-28C (1/11) - so I decided to buy one.

Being a bit of a guy who roots for the underdog, I decided to give Banana Hobby a shot at my money after sending out questions to Toysonics, Banana Hobby and the newly introduced Hobby Shop Warehouse. Only Banana Hobby answered my e-mails (hat-tip to Lauren in Customer Service).

My plan initially was to build this plane as a tribute to VFC-126, the Bandits, who flew the F-5E as the Pacific Fleet Adversary squadron from NAS Miramar. I currently live and work in San Diego and wanted to pay homage to the local boys (Miramar is now a Marine Corps Air Station).

I ordered the plane on Friday September 10, and it arrived this afternoon at my office in San Diego.

Initial inspection and inventory found a beautifully molded airframe, in great colors, with decals for VFC-13 The 'Saints' from NAS Fallon already installed. I decided that beyond some simple color modifications (white on the underside) and additional decals/markings, the jet will remain essentially as shipped.

Updated to add photos from last night's build session.