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Posted by mandevil | Sep 27, 2014 @ 02:09 PM | 1,325 Views
On the last day of my vacation at our favorite place I was to show the plane to a visit from my girlfriends' father and his wife. Well, it didn't go as planned. Shortly after the launch the stock moter seized up and I had a forced landing (without any damage, luckily). I shudder to think what might happen on my previous flights. Here's the video from the abortive flight, in the audio you can hear the chatter of the seized motor.

Super Sky Surfer – Stock motor seizes up shortly after a launch (0 min 53 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Jul 13, 2014 @ 03:09 PM | 1,872 Views
Yesterday I took my Super Sky Surfer out, this time with the second 5 Ah battery, which turned out to be faulty. One of the cells can't be fully charged. I wanted to know how will it perform -- it performs noticeably worse than my first battery and on the end I actually had the three good cells at 3.6 V and the bad one at 3.2 V. It also seems very soft, I actually aborted third launch because just putting in full throttle made the undervoltage protection to kick in.

Anyway, the flight was actually rather nice, even if it was somewhat windy. I tried to reach clouds that seemed to be fairly low, but they probably weren't low enough. Anyway, as I was gliding down, I noticed buzzards circling around so I joined. Not sure if it was thermal or slope lift (there was gentle downslope), but it was definitely there. Not enough to keep me afloat, but it definitely slowed my descent substantially. And surprisingly enough, I even got one close encounter with one of the birds on video. Here's the picture, the video will hopefully come later. The quality isn't great, but still, it's my first such encounter.


Posted by mandevil | Jun 29, 2014 @ 03:40 AM | 1,731 Views
I put back the stock motor and bought new undrilled 9x6 propeller and went for a test flight. The vibration are much less pronounced, almost unnoticeable for the most part. It was rather windy, so the video was not as stable as the previous one. I made some high ascents (I assume the highest being to some 300 m). Apparently, there was some slope lift at the place, because my first glide (from the lowest height!) lasted almost 10 minutes (with heavy 5000 mAh battery and a GoPro in original housing), which is pretty impressive. At those distances I'm getting frequent RSSI beeps from my FrSky transmitter, wonder if the default setting is too conservative. I made total of three ascents. The last glide had to be aborted because of approaching air ambulance helicopter -- the abort with flaps and nose down worked nicely and I was on the ground in about 30 seconds (from less than 100 m, though).
Posted by mandevil | Jun 13, 2014 @ 08:54 AM | 1,664 Views
I have replaced the stock motor with Turnigy D3536/5 1450 KV outrunner. I had to redrill the propeller, since the new motor has wider shaft. When I finally got to flight test it, it performed well, but something (probably the hole drilling) is not right, since there is quite strong vibrations. With the stock motor there were no noticeable vibration even over 50% throttle, but with the new one, most of the powered flight gives useless video. The flight as such, however, is nicely stable, as you can see from the video containing mainly the gliding sections of the test flight. Note: the video is just a test, it's long and has no sound.

Super Sky Surfer - Test camera flight (9 min 12 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Apr 30, 2014 @ 09:13 AM | 2,274 Views
I have finally finished video from last year's vacation.

Vacation in Kopec, part two (3 min 50 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Apr 28, 2014 @ 05:59 AM | 1,776 Views
After almost three monts my Super Sky Surfer flies again. All servos are replaced with PowerHD 1711MH, ESC is now Hobbyking YEP 60A and power source is 5000 mAh 4S battery. I also have replacement motor, but I will need to redrill the propeller, so that's not in yet. I had two flight sessions including one with camera on. The plane flies OK, but the tendency to roll left is till there, so this is something to work on.

The next thing to do is to make some proper camera mount.

Some pictures from this weekend
Posted by mandevil | Jan 19, 2014 @ 06:32 AM | 2,985 Views
I had two more flights with my SSS. The latter ended with one of the flap servos breaking (gear breakage). So I decided to replace all servos. After long search I settled on Power HD 1711MG's I ordered locally. Also I have received YEP 60A ESC which is going to replace the stock ESC. As for the servos, I have found that the supplied arms are too small (I guess they are "micro servo arms") and the arms from the stock servos don't fit very well. So now I'm searching for suitable arms. If I have to order them from abroad, this will add few more weeks of no flying. Sigh.

Also, Hobby King drives me mad. The web site timeouts often (with Cloud Flare error message...). When I get through, however, I find that half of the stuff I need for my build is backordered in EU store (things like 14 AWG wire, connectors etc.) So it's mid-January and I don't even have my order sent off.
Posted by mandevil | Dec 30, 2013 @ 02:39 PM | 2,066 Views
Today I have maidened my new Super Sky Surfer plane. The maiden was successful, the plane is still in one piece. I plan to do some work on it (replace at least ESC, if not servos as well), but nothing major. I can't wait to put my GoPro on it and take it for a camera flight!

Super Sky Surfer Maiden Flight (4 min 5 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Aug 20, 2013 @ 09:18 AM | 3,234 Views
I finally got to compile a video from my last year's vacation in my favorite place, the NP Bohemian Switzerland in the north of the Czech Republic. This was the vacation where I crashed my Bixler and almost lost my GoPro cam (see previous entry).

Aerial from NP Bohemian Switzerland (Bixler / GoPro HD) (4 min 33 sec)


As always, better quality file can be downloaded here.
Posted by mandevil | Nov 20, 2012 @ 07:51 AM | 2,777 Views
Video from my recent Bixler crash (caused by flying to far away downwind and subsequent breaking of LOS).

Bixler Crash (3 min 18 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Oct 06, 2012 @ 04:39 PM | 2,754 Views
Today I barely escaped total loss of my Bixler with GoPro HD Hero with it. I am on a vacation and have made number of camera flights without a hitch. Today I saw the morning is nice and bright and so at 8am I was in the field ready to fly. I launched, there was not much wind on the ground level, but in height there was quite strong wind. I ascended as high as I dared (about 300 m I guess). It was pretty difficult to keep the plane's attitude and it was clear that the video is not going to be very good. Anyway, I switched off the motor and hoped some usable footage during gliding descent. Because of the trouble holding the plane flying straight, it was steadily drifting downwind. Very soon it was so far away, that I started to have severe trouble controlling the plane. Keeping the plane flying straight into the wind requires fine control which was impossible without seeing the plane clearly. I struggled for about 2 minutes trying to get the plane closer to me, but all I managed to do was to lose more height. I knew I was in trouble. Soon the plane disappeared behind the horizon.

I went home and consulted on-line map to see the crash area. It was mostly forest -- the worst possible case. Nevertheless, we searched for about three hours in vain, hoping to hear the plane's beeping. The outlook wasn't good at all. In the end I went to check one meadow and found the wreck there. The plane was mangled less than I expected and I believe the damage is repairable. More importantly,...Continue Reading
Posted by mandevil | Aug 26, 2012 @ 05:14 AM | 3,394 Views
Here's new video from last Sunday (as usual, I recommend downloading this file instead of watching it mangled on YouTube). The air was completely calm so I managed some quite stable shots, including this 1 minute long straight take it's probably as stable is it ever gets with 1400 mm wingspan EPP plane.

Ústí nad Labem From RC Plane (Bixler / GoPro HD) (4 min 33 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Jul 22, 2012 @ 05:49 AM | 3,257 Views
Here's new video I made with my Bixler / GoPro HD. I dared to fly in urban environment and I pushed the altitude as high as possible. Higher flights are not really possible without FPV, it seems. The weather was nice clear, but rather windy, so the video is not very stable. Below is YouTube video, but make yourself a favor and download and watch original full quality file, instead.

Ústí nad Labem, Severní Terasa From Above (Bixler / GoPro aerial video) (3 min 41 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Jul 08, 2012 @ 02:00 PM | 3,312 Views
Today, after more than month my Bixler has flown again.

The repair consisted of gluing back the broken horizontal stabilizer, gluing broken elevator into one piece, gluing together the nose and gluing it back to fuselage. I decided to hinge torn ailerons and elevator with proper hinges. I used 1128 mm plastic hinges, three per aileron, four on elevator. I made slots with Excel knife and glued the hinges in with CA glue (which is BAD idea, it allows essentially no time to work). Hinged surfaces work beautifully -- much easier movements than with original attachment and also the servo chatter is no more. All electronics seems to be working OK (ESC needed soldering of snapped lead). Here is a gallery with some captioned photo documentation.

The repaired plane itself.

Posted by mandevil | Jun 04, 2012 @ 02:48 PM | 3,827 Views
Well, recently I've been gettin too confident with my ability to handle the plane and today the inevitable has happened.

I was trying to turn the plane on its back at too low altitude and too much speed and did not quite succeed. I hit ground at speed and the plane is fairly heavily damaged. The nose is in shreds, battery is deformed, aileron got torn away and its servo dislodged, one of the ESC leads snapped off, half of horizontal stabilizer broke away. The good news that the wings are otherwise intact and the fuselage past the nose seems to be good.




Posted by mandevil | May 25, 2012 @ 03:12 AM | 3,796 Views
Posted by mandevil | May 07, 2012 @ 04:02 PM | 3,853 Views
This weekend was the second extended 5-day weekend, but I went flying only once and used up only one battery.

Mostly I practiced basic aerobatics: rolls and inverted flying, with some attempts at "rolling ascents" (near vertical ascents with the plane performing rolls). Also, I tried to get hang of using brakes (ailerons extended up). They surely work, but they definitely make controlling the plane fairly finicky. It's very easy to exceed the stall speed with brakes on and then one may not have enough time to get the plane up to speed again, and it means the plane goes down hard. I definitely need more practice with brakes to actually be comfortable to use them to land in tight quarters.
Posted by mandevil | May 06, 2012 @ 02:49 PM | 3,525 Views
This is the first of the three videos in my editing pipeline -- not the best one, maybe it should be shorter, but I can't stand editing it any longer.

Střížovický vrch (Bixler / GoPro HD Aerial Video) (5 min 51 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Apr 27, 2012 @ 04:46 PM | 3,471 Views
I took a leave from work on Friday and spent much of the time flying. I have drained my set of three batteries twice. Great time.

As I mentioned, with the new transmitter I have full range on ailerons available. With this I can actually do rolls with Bixler and that was what I practiced a lot. Suprisingly, with some care and little help of headwind, one can make vertical rolling ascents. Impressive.

I also have mixed rudder into ailerons and set up differential ailerons. Honestly, I don't see much difference.

I also shot aerial video on two location and have one in backlog from the last weekend. Good stuff is coming, especially the last video looks much more stable than all previous ones.
Posted by mandevil | Apr 22, 2012 @ 06:14 AM | 6,129 Views
Yesterday I took my Bixler to test my new FlySky TH9X transmitter. Conditions were rather windy, making the plane's handling quite difficult at my first location. Then I moved to different place, which was as windy as the first. On the last flight I managed to soar for 11' 40" after one minute climb. I just kept flying into the wind with no attempts to circle. I guess there must have been some thermal in there, despite it being almost 7pm. Funny thing.

At any rate, the TX works fine. For the benefit of very first timers I detail the basic setup I did prior the maiden flight below.


1. The first step was to make ailerons work. I use two-channel aileron setup, with ailerons on the usual channels 1 and 6. The first 4 channels are default, the channel 6 needs to specify source AIL. Also I needed to reverse ailerons and rudder, which is done by setting their values to negative.


2. The next step was finding a way to be able to cut off throttle and make this default after the TX is switched on. Well, turns out that ER9X has specific function for this: "Safety switches". So I specify a setting for channel 3 (throttle), that makes the TX override the channel value with -100 when throttle switch is in OFF position (that's the !THR). Optionally, you can enforce the position of this switch on power up (in screen 2)

...Continue Reading