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Posted by SkyCadet | Jun 25, 2011 @ 01:36 AM | 3,393 Views
After a superb 14-minute flight with the new upgraded Champ, I only used 1060mAh - 50% battery! Mostly cruise at 42% throttle, but I did a few 55% climbouts here and there. That's about 21 minutes to 75% battery consumption, so this is pretty close to my older 450 motor's current draw, but WAY more pep, as mentioned before...

TO was about 10-12 feet max with a nice 45 degree angle up - just BANG! - and up she went, level as a feather and straight like a rocket...

I did a great "crop duster" landing by zipping about 5-8 feet over the tree line and glided to a nice 10 foot rollout on TD. One of my neighbours sons saw my plane land and was curious - at first he thought it was a stock plane flying low, until he realized by the motor noise that this was NOT a big plane...

I am really enjoying flying this plane in our local school field - both TO and landings are awesome even in nearly 3" grass. I try to stay in as short a grass as I can get for TO, but TD seems fine so long as the elevator stays up after TD...

Posted by SkyCadet | Jun 15, 2011 @ 06:27 PM | 3,633 Views
This past Sunday, I was able to maiden the Pilot-1 champ with the newly installed RC Timer 2836/7, 1120Kv motor!

The motor did a fantastic job getting the plane up fast! 10-12 feet and it was flying. At least 1/3-1/2 what the previous [EF 450] motor gave.

After flying 10 minutes, cut short due to some light rain sprinkles, the plane consumed 720mAh, including a 10s at WOT [25A+], 8 minutes of general cruise around 40% throttle, 1.5 minutes of 55-60% throttle for climbing turns and climbouts, and landing. That's about 35% of the battery after 10 minutes, and is nominal to what I would see with the previous power system.

The plane apparently flew a bit peppier, and was less affected by light headwinds and climbing turns with this new power system.

A successful test. I was happy to see theory and reality overlap with this system! I may do the same retrofit to my Lancair ES as it has the same 450BL/20A ESC power system, except the Champ has a 30A model. I would most likely change out motor and ESC to run the 1120Kv in that plane. We'll see. Retesting static 100% throttle rotations, the 9x7x3 tops out at just over 9000 RPM.

Posted by SkyCadet | Jun 08, 2011 @ 12:40 AM | 3,763 Views
Given the great performance I saw with the RC Timer 1400Kv motor on the Super Decathlon, I thought that I might try out a higher rating one in the Pilot-1 Champ in lieu of the 450 EFlite BL I was using.

They came in the other day, and fit with the same hardware that the 450 does.

Using my 9x7x3-blade MAS, my WOT static testing showed a total wattage of 290Wp on my meter, 25.8Ap. At 50%, the plane's 1120Kv motor ran around 6200RPM, and ~110W/7.8A. THis is close to the 75% number I saw in my Lancair with the 450 BL tests I did. (see earlier blog entry on the 450 motor tests) WOT on the 450 was around 195Wp/16A, so this is a significant increase in shaft power too. The Eflite 30A Esc handles this just fine.

I had a LOT of trouble holding the plane myself during the testing, so WOT top end RPM was not measured precisely using my Hangar 9 photoelectric tachometer, but it was reading over 8200 in the 8200-8900 range (by then, it was getting a bit dark during the static outdoor tests). I'll recheck this next time out.

For a $15 motor on eBay, I was impressed, and can't wait to fly her with the new motor. I will most likely be cruising now around 40% throttle for level flight, where I'd fly 55% before. I should see close to nominal flight times, but we'll see. the RC Timer 1120 Kv motor is rated to 336W max, so we are fine for the motor usage in this plane as per what WOT gives.

One interesting thing here is this is backwards from what I did with the Decathlon: I went down in Kv a tad, versus up in the P-1 Champ. Usually, a higher torue, lower Kv motor should run higher RPM, but then one also has to look at overall wattage ratings too, as more power into the motor, even if not running top efficiency at WOT, should still produce more shaft power and thrust in general when flying. I suspect that this new motor will have the Champ flying more in a sport category vs a stock trainer category now.

Posted by SkyCadet | Jun 04, 2011 @ 10:37 PM | 3,354 Views
Now we're ready to finish the model!

First up - coating the tail and wing with white glue.

Part 12: coating lifting and control surfaces - 1h

Use 30-40% diluted weldbond (or other white glue), and apply to ALL lifting surfaces, flowing out to even the coating. On the tail, be mindful not to get glue in the hinges of the control surfaces.

I usually apply two coats to the wing, esp. on the outside edges where the wing may be subjected to touching the ground on a bad landing, or during a tight turn to avoid an obstacle. Before application to the wing, attach the strut clevices with some CA, and then flow white glue out over the upper and lower wing body - INCLUDING the centre sections. I use a Qtip to dab additional glue around the clevice mounts to strengthen them.

Let dry overnight or at least 8-10h to ensure a good cure before applying any decals. Add additional glue coating after 2h to elevator leading/trailing edges and top of rudder.

Part 13: Decals, gear install and CG test - 30-60 minutes.

Start with applying decals to taste, rubbing out any bubbles. Once applied, then attach the gear. I prefer the Dubro 1.75" foam lightweight wheels over the stock landing gear and pants, because the wheels roll better on both asphalt and grass, and give a bit of extra nose clearance as well. If you opt for this, the stock gear hardware may be used, with some small washers on either side of the wheel to ensure smooth rolling, and some lock nuts on the inside...Continue Reading
Posted by SkyCadet | Jun 04, 2011 @ 09:08 PM | 3,298 Views
Now that the tail assembly is finished, we can now reinforce the body with GE.

Part 9: Undercarriage and gear strut reinforcement with GE - 1 hour.

Before doing the first jobs on the plane, I color matched my struts with lemon yellow acrylic enamel. Two coats, left for about 24-36h for curing. Taking the struts, These are inserted in the slots on the underside of the fuselage. I initially poke them partially through, then pull almost out, leaving ~1/4 inch inside the fuse.

mix GE and apply with a brush onto the upper and lower exposed strut sections, before insertion. Do not overdo the application here too much, or the material oozes out of the slots, and runs over the fuselage and newly-painted struts. Wipe excess cleanly, leaving a little GE to flow out where the slots are. This adds some rigidity to the gear. You want enough GE to flow inside the strut housing, to hold it well in place. cure time 30 minutes. Leave the wheels off the gear strut during this procedure.

While the gear is curing, mix a LOT of GE, and apply with a brush inside the body of the plane half way up the fuselage sides, and over the plastic strut housing. This will assist in adding a LOT of strength and support to the gear assembly during rough landings. My plane before handled 0 F temps on hop landings on skis and this led to the failure after >200+ flights and landings. Had this been flown in spring, I'd not have had these issues. Uncoated, the body would have failed long before.

...Continue Reading
Posted by SkyCadet | Jun 04, 2011 @ 02:46 PM | 3,217 Views
Once the part one steps are done, I then go to the tail, graphite epoxy the wheel mount, and the interior of the plane...

Step 5: Tail Assembly, time - 30-60 minutes

The PZ Decathlon tail comes with control horns, rudder, elevator, and a mounting block. I use CA on the block to affix to the horizotal stabilizer - the block has 2 slots and 4 pegs/posts which puncture the elevator section to eventually mount the rudder. Once attached, use CA on the rudder where it mates to the slot on top. Ensure that the empennage is SQUARE at this time. It is important to get the tail properly aligned to the fuselage so that the plane not only looks good, but flies true. Much less trim req'd if done right.

Step 6: Tail installation time - 30 minutes

Once the CA is dry, Check the slots where the tail fits into the fuse, and test fit it to make sure that it will mate well. I often have to cut a small slot on top of the fuse where the rudder tab mates into the unit or else it won't go on right. I use a hobby knife to check that the tail can split at the rear a touch to fit the tabs properly, just tane care not to rip the tapes on both the upper and lower sections (other than the cut if needed to mate the vertical stabilizer front to the fuselage).

Use 1:1:1 [hardener:resin:graphite] 6-minute graphite epoxy (GE) to mate the tail to the rear of the fuselage. I use powdered lock graphite - available at many hardware outlets. It goes a LONG way, and it changes the rheology (flow and...Continue Reading
Posted by SkyCadet | Jun 04, 2011 @ 01:58 PM | 3,317 Views
Well, my plane had a gear [undercarriage] failure last weekend, and while it may be repairable, after 300+ flights, I thought it easier to semi-retire it for now, and build a new one - same effort to do. The wing is still fine, so it was used for this plane as well...

I will go over the sequences I use to build one of these planes from parts and how it is done, for those interested in doing the types of mods I use:

Step 1: time - 5 to 10 minutes

Dremel cut or remove the tail skid. I used a dremmel, and then smooth off the remaining sections (see attached pix) to permit Dubro micro tail wheel to be used as a steerable tail wheel. I also drill holes to match the "ring" to the rudder's hinge position.

Step 2: time - 10 to 20 minutes

Use CA to mold the wing mount on the fuselage (if needed) to maintain a proper surface to make wing mount square. Many of these fuselages have small variances and defects during manufacture, storage, and shipping. I like to make sure that the wing will mount square to the fuse when assembly is complete. Allow CA to cure well before moving on.

Step 3: time - 10 to 15 minutes, drying time 1-2h

I use weldbond white glue on the inside of the fuse under the wing, about 1/2 way down the fuselage sides (where the window decals would go, but inside the fuse). This stiffens the fuse, and minimizes flex. I also apply at this time with a Q-tip shaft glue to the wing rods on the outside where they meet the fuselage, and aply...Continue Reading
Posted by SkyCadet | May 23, 2011 @ 02:05 AM | 3,608 Views
Here is a quick look at what is in the hangar:

1) Lancair ES - built last summer, mods and construction details in earlier blog entries. 200W (225W Max) power system. 34oz.

2) Pilot-1 Champ 7AC - bought pre-built, but modded and retrofitted a bit. 200W (225W max) power system. 35oz.

3) Super Decathlon BL - built second one from scratch, mods and pix in blog. 80W power system (120W max). 17.5 oz.

4) Micro Champ(s) - mods using white glue, graphite epoxy, and wheels - added 3-blade 110x80mm prop. 1.5 Oz.

Favorites are #2 and #3, as both can be flown in my local park - love the Lancair for more performance, and the micros are a lot of fun - currently awaiting parts for going BL on these...

Posted by SkyCadet | May 22, 2011 @ 08:39 PM | 3,325 Views
As mentioned ealier, I recently acquired an RCTimer 1400Kv motor on eBay for $11 shipped. This motor is superb! It fit perfectly into the hardware from the stock motor, and yields about 33% more power, probably 40-50% more thrust.

I am able to do vertical figure 8s, VERY fast snap rolls, nearly axial, multiple loops, and much more. The plane is like a new unit with this motor system. I have included some pictures of my mounted motor in the cowling, and the reinforced under carriage I had to repair after a hard landing earlier this spring. I think that winter flying at near zero F may have been the culprit; a few bounced ski landings may have led to the carriage cracking inside and it just failed one afternoon during some windy flying.

The FMT Model 1000mAh 20C/25C peak 2S Lipos I run really power this model exceptionally well. Over 14 minutes easy flying, with about 12 min. more aggressively.

Anyone with this model should seriously consider the MAS 8x6x3-blade, the 1400Kv motor, and a EFlite 3.2mm collet system in lieu of the stock setup. The model flies as close to 4-channel as it can get now. Just a hoot... You won't be sorry!

Posted by SkyCadet | May 11, 2011 @ 12:48 PM | 3,315 Views
I have flown this model about 6x this year so far, and two flights ago, I had a port servo intermittent lockup/failure due to a bad connection, on takeoff .

The plane survived, but landed a bit hard, and snapped a strut. I decided to get a new set , the Eflite 4010 struts for their 15 Cub. These are better struts, and with a few minor mods, I had these installed and fitting in less than 1 hour. I also inadvertently stepped on my battery cover during a power up test after repairing the servo connection. That required some rebuilding, but it is functional and working fine.

I flew this plane twice now since the repairs, with no issues now on my port servo, and the struts are IMO superior to the stock ones. Not a perfect color match, but very close. I added a MAS 9x7x3-blade on the 450 Eflite motor/30A ESC I am running with this plane, based on my successful trials both static and in flight with my Lancair ES (see earlier entries for that info). Great ground clearance, and a lot of WOT thrust for getting up fast - a bit better than a 9x6 PowerFlow...

The plane is zippy, and flies very scale-like, with a slight sporty envelope! Very quiet, smooth and excellent speed control on approaches and landings.

Pictures below, showing the strut fitting and 3-blade on her...

Posted by SkyCadet | May 06, 2011 @ 12:23 PM | 3,802 Views
I recently acquired a new motor for my Super decathlon Brushless. Why bother? Because, this plane is potentially a very good sport 3-channel plane, due to the rudder authority of this design. It almost flies "4ch-like", and is an ideal plane to fly in smaller fields, it is a nice size, highly transportable, and easy to fly. I can fly this plane easy and relaxing for those days wanting to putz around, or I can do mini-airshows for the crowd of soccer players and parents using the other half of the field. It is quiet, efficent, and fun - period.

For those interested in this plane, get 'em fast - they're soon to be discontinued, at least for spare bodies at my LHC (I have three sets of wings, tails, bodies, etc. to make three more, so I'll be flying this plane a long time!)

With this in mind, I wanted a better motor to run this plane. It deserves a bit more performance. I have been using "nitro" props, the Master Airscrew [MAS] 8x6x3-blade FG-reinforced nylon propellers in my super decs since almost day one. Better thrust, and smoother running. No ESC overrating. I was told by both the LHS and Parkzone that I could NOT run this prop without overrating the power system. after static testing and trials (shown earlier in the blog) I have successfully flown over 300 sorties with this combination. The prop has over 250 itself alone.

However, I recently discovered a great option to the stock motor, and thought it might be worthy to try it out for...Continue Reading
Posted by SkyCadet | Apr 26, 2011 @ 01:31 PM | 3,222 Views
Hey everyone!

I hope that all had a good late winter getting their hangars ready for flight this season!

I have all but one plane flying now: My two micro Champs, The pilot-1 7AC Champ (flown 4x this past Easter weekend with a new MAS 9x7x3 prop], and the venerable Super decathlon BL that I often fly the most.

I am finishing minor repairs to the Lancair ES I built and flew 3x late last year. Last landing of the season with that plane left it skidding on the tarmac, and I needed to repair the nosewheel strut and canopy attachments. I had some minor scuffing on the wing tips, but nothing really severe enough at this point to worry about. I just finished the wheel strut recoating, and I am installing it this week, and then finishing the mounting pin system [nylon screws into clevices] for the canopy, and she'll be airworthy again. New MAS 9x7x3 prop in the spinner, too.

The highlight of my weekend past was flying the Pilot-1 Champ. I had an absolute ball doing some loops, lazy-8s and even a tail slide. The new MAS 9x7x3 prop pulls this plane way better than with the Powerflow 9x6 I had on it. Flying this on a medium sized field is a hoot. It's great making landing approaches and then climbing out again! I finally have the trim and mix settings where I want them, and this now is a great plane to fly locally.

Note: When flying in my local school field, I take care on landing and final approaches to not fly too low over the proximal roadways south of my field. I do not wish to alarm any drivers when flying. I usually cut the circuit a bit short, and then use throttle management to avoid over shoots.

Happy spring flying! More to come...

Posted by SkyCadet | Nov 29, 2010 @ 04:37 PM | 3,789 Views
I recently trimmed my Dubro 830 skis I mounted on the Super Decathlon BL.

While the stock skis were fine, they were a bit large I felt, and added extra unneeded drag and frontal lift. The pane flew fine with them, and the snow on TO tended to collect in the grooves where the tracks were, making the skis very nose heavy until flying for some time. (wet snow, not powder).

I cut along these grooves, and now the skis are 6.25"x1.25" each, having trimmed 3/8" or so off the rear as well. Dremmels are great tools for this!

Attached are the photos of the new improved setup. These work better on the plane - more nominal trim, less frontal lift affect when flying (flies more like with wheels), and better cruise performance as well.

They still glide nicely in the snow!

Two flights were hugely successful at -5C: 12 minutes each!

Good to go! The Super Decathlon BL makes a superb winter aircraft!

Posted by SkyCadet | Nov 29, 2010 @ 04:12 AM | 3,600 Views
I just finished a set of small skis for my Micro Champ.

These were made from a popsicle stick, cut in half. this one was slightly curved lengthwise, so it made a great ski shape! I then used a Dremmel tool to taper the front ends and the rear. Used two Nylon clamps I had surplus from a spare plane (rounded rectangular pieces with one hole on each end, about 1" long).

I had two 1.5mm ID collets from my Dubro 830 ski set, perfect to use with the micro champ wires. The Nylon clamps were cut flat on one side to act as ski pylons, and I used graphite epoxy to hold them square to the ski. The collets were also GE'd to the nylon.

Painted to match - got pretty close. Undersides coated with 30% dilute white glue to seal the ski bottom and make smoother for running on the snow.

Adds about 1.3g or so more than the Dubro 123 sport wheels I put on. The total ski area is around 1.9 sq. in. Using 0.875 sq. in/oz. (14sq. in/lb guideline), this can handle around 47-50g. Perfect, since my AUW is around 47g!

Keeping the skis fairly small allows to minimize weight, drag and frontal lift tendencies with the skis. Angled about 5 up from flat. Prop clearance is around 6-7mm, so the plane is similar to stock wheel clearance for the prop.

See pix below...

Posted by SkyCadet | Nov 28, 2010 @ 02:49 PM | 3,031 Views
While the Dubro 830s are very suitable for smaller park fliers to 34oz or so, I feel my set on the Decathlon BL are too large for the plane. I am cutting mine back a bit to get more performance from the plane, and it will also reduce drag.

My plan is to use a Dremmel tool and cut the skis along the inner track slot, and trim 1/2 " off the back. This will make the skis' total surface area (both) around 18 Plenty for my Decathlon. Should reduce weight by 30%, and also drag.

The plane flies well with these as is, but I have a lot of extra surface than really is not req'd.

Posted by SkyCadet | Nov 26, 2010 @ 01:22 AM | 3,149 Views
Well, I had a one-flight window today before dusk, when the wind died off. We had a "Chinook" that is, a warm westerly wind typical off this time of year.

Temps the last few days have been below 0F/-20C, so no flying in THAT weather - just too darned cold, esp. with micro flurries and winds.

Today was sunny, mild [for winterish weather], and so I maidened the Decathlon BL on skis. It it flew superbly! I needed 3up clicks on the elevator trim on my DX6i to get it level at 55% throttle, but the plane flew nicely. With only a light breeze, the skis did show some drag and nose lift, especially in turns - my Dec BL usually noses down without up elevator on a turn, being a 3ch plane, but turns seemed flatter with the ski-induced lift, requiring very little up elevator to coordinate.

Landing was AWESOME! I settled the plane in after an 8 minute run, and it glided in for a VERY smooth TD and glided on the skis, virtually balancing on them for about 7 feet, before the tail slowly settled in - 12 feet total.

This was so much fun! I am looking forward to flying every mild winter day [-6C or warmer] I can.

Posted by SkyCadet | Nov 22, 2010 @ 01:37 PM | 4,350 Views
These are the units I installed on the two planes below:

Pic of the set uninstalled is attached. I used graphite mixed with 6-minute epoxy [1:1:1 mix of graphite:resin:hardener - I call this GE] inside the hollow underside of the mounting section to make the structure more rigid and allow for more secure mounting to the planes' landing gear. The hollow underside is filled approx 1/2 full of the black-gray GE, with the ski sitting flat upside down. Flexure is retained somewhat, and the stuff won't get brittle even at -18C or 0F.

It takes about 8-10 minutes for "shaping" cure (at which point the material won't flow anymore at all, but may still be sticky), 20-30 minutes for 90% strength cure, at which point one may drill into the marks on the sides to match their gear wire/bolt diameter. After 1h, the GE is fully cured (graphite slows down the reaction a bit, but enhances the flow characteristics of the material to make it fill in gaps and crevasses). it takes 3-4 minutes for the stuff to get sticky or stringy, so mix well fast, and start applying in the gap ASAP. GE flows very well when first mixed, so just scoop and lay in. I used a popsicle mixing stick to apply it. The material will draw down like syrup into the crevases. Any drips on the ski underside can be cleaned up with an alcohol-laden Q-tip if done within 10 minutes or less.

#830 skis come with smaller collets to hold onto thinner wire...Continue Reading
Posted by SkyCadet | Nov 21, 2010 @ 05:41 AM | 3,138 Views

Well, I am ready to go this winter with two planes: My Pilot-1, 1/8 Scale 7AC Champ, and my Super Decathlon BL!

I used Dubro #830 Park Flyer Skis for both planes. I think that the Champ will still run well on snow with these skis also, given what I have seen on full scale planes. It should warm up to around just below freezing later this week, and we are expecting some snow, up to 6-8cm. Should be perfect conditions to fly the planes in.

I'll start with the Dec BL first, to get a feel of the plane in snow, since I am more familiar with that plane. Then, the Champ!

Below are some photos of both planes with the skis installed.

Posted by SkyCadet | Nov 08, 2010 @ 01:26 AM | 3,488 Views
Well, on Wednesday [Nov. 4], my Super Decathlon BL had a mishap.

During a turn downwind, I suddenly lost positive control of the plane. I was shooting on-board video during the flight, but upon inspection of the footage, it was unclear exactly what happened. The plane turned away from me and then went into a spiral dive, and then a spin.

It ended up in a prickly thorny tree, and was basically a write-off when removing it from the shrub; the fuse was heavily punctured, the tail ripped, and the gear mains were cracked during impact into the tree. To repair it would have taken more time than building from scratch...

So, using a second spare wing, tail, fuselage, and two new servos and ESC, I rebuilt the plane from the ashes! I used my original motor, which I had to repair with a new shaft during Flight #101 [nose in crash from 10'], and placed a new motor in the Dec #1 after flt. 101 until the mishap.

White glue [40%] coating done on ALL lifting surfaces [exc. on hinges on tail]. Graphite epoxy [1:1:1] done on tail, while squaring to the fuselage. Painted with Cadmium Yellow acrylic enamel - near perfect match.

Used another Dubro micro tail wheel, epoxied a 0.020" wire connection off the rudder control horn to the wheel strut [see pix below]. Makes a superb steerable tail wheel system, low profile, but effective, and far superior to the stock skid system. I used graphite epoxy [GE] to affix to fuselage underside after tail placed on plane. The wire is a &...Continue Reading
Posted by SkyCadet | Oct 26, 2010 @ 01:55 AM | 3,205 Views

Ah - what'ya do?

Well 1/2" fell of the wet/white stuff, and we're expecting up to Thursday [Oct 28] to be pretty cool. Saturday is supposed to be in the mid-50s [11-12C]. So, my Super decathlon BL will have to wait just awhile longer for the "ice skates" [skis, that is!]

But, I suspect within 2 weeks, I'll be needing them...