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Posted by StayQuiet | Mar 01, 2014 @ 06:32 PM | 1,624 Views
This has been a fun winter project (now if winter would only cooperate and end... )

With everything installed, I placed the plane on the balancer to see where I would have to add weight, or if I had to move the batteries around. To my surprise, the balance was absolutely perfect as set up! I actually took it off and reset it again, just to make certain.

Can't wait for all this snow to melt, and to get some flying weather.
Posted by StayQuiet | Feb 25, 2014 @ 07:02 PM | 1,913 Views
Tail is on (okay, I still have to hinge and cover) and the wing needs covering, but at least I got the fuselage done. I've run the motors up - they PULL! I don't think there will be any problem getting this bird in the air (at least a lack of power won't be a good excuse).
Posted by StayQuiet | Feb 15, 2014 @ 08:13 PM | 1,797 Views
Fuselage is done, with the exception of the tail feathers.

I've installed the servos for the rudder and elevator in the fuselage, and two aileron servos in the wing. ESC's are mounted above the lower air scoop. The lipo motor batteries (2 in parallel) mount on an extended fuel tank tray and are secured with a strap. I did build the nosepiece, and it slides in nicely and locks in place with magnets.

My wife grabbed a cellphone pic before I pinned in the tail sections. I wanted to see just how the balance was going to be, as I had some leeway in battery placement. To my delight, things were very close to being balanced, so there may only be a small amount of weight in the tail to get things perfect - but I'll wait until everything is installed and covered before I worry about that.
Posted by StayQuiet | Feb 04, 2014 @ 09:55 AM | 2,066 Views
Both wing halves are built. The second half went much more quickly, as the redesign details had already been worked out.

Wing panels have been joined, and motor nacelles epoxied in place. Aileron servos have been mounted on mounts fabricated from aluminum angle (1/16" by 3/4" by 3/4") epoxied to plywood, and held in place in the wing with six button head screws.

The building board has been cleared, and fuselage plans laid out on it. Still trying to decide how to enclose the nose where the motor would normally mount, since there won't be one there anymore. I'd like to make a nicely curved nosepiece that would be held in place with rare earth magnets, and used as a hatch to slide in the battery packs. On the other hand, the original plans have an access hatch on the top forward fuse, so that may be unneeded. Still, I want to mount the batteries as far forward as possible for balance, since there won't be any motor weight up front.

I'm also planning to add a cooling air scoop (sort of like that on a P-51 Mustang) to bring air into the fuse to cool the ESCs. Outlet will be up on the turtledeck. More thinking tonight.
Posted by StayQuiet | Jan 25, 2014 @ 09:23 PM | 2,062 Views
Decisions have been made. Aileron servos are being mounted in the wings - one for each aileron. Right wing is coming along nicely (yes, I'm in no rush on this project!) I still have some trimming, the wingtip to attach, and a few other 'incidentals' but I'm happy with the redesign results.

Motor nacelles have 2 degree downthrust built in (to match original plan). I ended up with APC 12X6E two blade props - one pusher for counter rotating units, anyway. Plus, I could get some Tru-Turn spinners to fit. Nacelle is shown in place, but hasn't been attached. I'll have 1/2" of clearance between the prop tip and fuselage side - if I measured correctly, that is.
Posted by StayQuiet | Jan 04, 2014 @ 07:39 PM | 1,800 Views
Looking over the wing plan, which is now laid out on my building board. I've marked out where the motor nacelles will be. I'll be extending the wing sheeting outward an additional 2 ribs, which means that four W2 ribs will have to be trimmed down to W1 ribs to allow for the thickness of the balsa sheeting.

I'm also going to add two half ribs (I call them W1-A) from the LE to the shear webbing right under the area where the nacelles will attach.

Since I've already sent out an order to the laser cutter (and I'm terrible at designing ribs with spar cutouts) I just made photocopies of the W1 ribs, cut and glued to 1/16" ply, cut the ply into templates, clamped in four W2 ribs, and sanded them down to the proper size. Cut the templates down and repeated the process on some fresh balsa to make up four W1-A half ribs.

Still debating on if I should follow the plans for a single aileron servo, or design mounts and hatches for individual servos.

I have to decide soon. I have to remember to drill some holes in some of the ribs for aileron servo leads, and motor lead wires.
Posted by StayQuiet | Dec 30, 2013 @ 09:43 PM | 1,978 Views
Ugh. Plans for the motor nacelles and bulkheads have been sent to the laser cutter. Just playing around with fitting the props and spinners to the motor adapters.

Guess what? Standard 2" diameter Du-Bro 3 blade spinners don't really fit pusher props, nor do they clear the hub.

Sent a message out to Tru-Turn to inquire about having a pair of 2" or 2.25" aluminum spinners made to fit the props (one standard, one pusher). I have a feeling this project just got a bit more expensive.
Posted by StayQuiet | Dec 26, 2013 @ 11:55 AM | 2,052 Views
My wife gave me the okay to order up all the stuff I need for this project - motors, batteries, servos, ESCs, etc. Then she surprised me and told me it would be my Xmas gift! Gotta love her!

Started work in CAD with something simple, as my CAD skill has gotten a bit rusty. Motor bulkhead design was relatively easy, after a few miscues with the arc command. By designing in CAD, at least I know the motors will be centered perfectly in place, because the screw holes for the X motor mounts will be precisely made. Rather than doing this design in inches, as I have in the past, I'm converting my measurement to millimeters. It makes working in CAD so much easier, at least for me.
Posted by StayQuiet | Dec 23, 2013 @ 11:24 AM | 2,054 Views
Well, the idea of building a 75% sized MidStar 40 and powering it with twin electrics seemed to take a back seat for awhile. After drawing up a wing layout in CAD, I got sidetracked with building a Mik's FunBat just to fly around in a field across the street from my house (with the owner's permission, of course!)

I've decided that small planes, regardless of landing gear layout, just aren't going to work well at the local fields without rediculously large wheels. It's back to the .40 sized planes, and I just picked up (ta-dah!) a Mid Star 40 kit at Creative Hobbies in Mendon (thanks, Joe!)

Not being content to leave well enough alone, I'm going to convert it to twin electric power. I saw an article about someone who had done the same with a Four Star 40, but I'm doing it a bit differently. Different design of the motor nacelles (CAD, of course). I'm going to use counter rotating 3 blade props - just because I like the look (I've always loved the P-38 Lightning.)

Time to launch MotoCalc for power requirements. Is it just me, or does anyone else feel the motor list is in terrible need of update? Anyway, I looked at what was used on the Four Star twin project, what MotoCalc recommended, and did a little comparison research to come up with something that was (a) available, (b) comparable, and (c) reasonably priced. A pair of .25 equivalent motors with 80 amp ESCs and parallel 2200mah 50C lipos from Heads Up RC will be powering this project.

I'm going to start designing the nacelles tomorrow, and put together a parts list. Maybe do a little online shopping while I'm at work It's the holiday week, things are pretty slow in the office. Sounds like a good excuse to me.
Posted by StayQuiet | May 01, 2012 @ 07:53 PM | 1,994 Views
After a few nights with the CAD program, and a few "hmmm, that doesn't look right" moments with subsequent changes, I came to a conclusion: I'm still going to end up with small wheels for landing gear, or a plane with rediculously large wheels. After tearing up the gear on one of my other planes on landing (honest, the landing wasn't bad on my part) this may not be worth the trouble.
Posted by StayQuiet | Apr 26, 2012 @ 01:40 PM | 2,479 Views
Here's the plan: take the basic design of the Sig MidStar 40, shrink it to 75% of the original size, close the nose, add in two engine nacelles on the wings, power it with a pair of brushless motors, draw it all up in CAD, get a short kit laser cut, and build the plane.

Should be done by the weekend.

Plan set from Sig arrived in yesterday's mail. I only wish the other plans services were that fast! Today I had them copied at 75% of original size, two sets. I've guesstimated the weight of the smaller airframe, figured the new wing area and span, and plugged it all into MotoCalc to come up with some motor/ESC/battery combinations that would work. A quick email to HeadsUpRC yielded less expensive alternatives to the OS motors suggested by MotoCalc (basically, I can get the needed two motors for less than the cost of one OS). I'm going with Master Airscrew 8X6 three blades, counter rotating - mainly because I think three bladed props look cool, but also because they will give me some extra ground clearance for the field, where the grass can be a bit long at times.

Tonight I'm going to start working with the CAD program to get the engine nacelles figured out - right after I get my better half calmed down when she sees me unrolling yet another set of plans.
Posted by StayQuiet | Apr 23, 2012 @ 11:18 AM | 2,559 Views
I had a lot of fun with my Demi Duster project, but that twin engine dream keeps nagging me.

Our club field isn't exactly perfect yet (it's a work in progress) so there are some issues flying small taildragger electrics from it. Wheels tend to get caught in grass (or dirt) clumps, and the plane noses over on rollout.

I'm thinking tricycle gear. Years ago I flew a Sig MidStar 40 (glow) and enjoyed the plane. Rather than build a kit and convert it to electric, I'm thinking of getting a set of plans from Sig, having them copied at 75% of original size, for a wingspan of a bit under 48.5", closing off the nose, and adding in two motor nacelles on the wing. Draw it all up in CAD and have a short kit laser cut. Think of the offspring from a Hobbico Twinstar and the Sig Midstar 40 at 75% original size - a Twinstar 30?

My wife is going to kill me when she sees me building another one.
Posted by StayQuiet | Apr 06, 2012 @ 06:10 PM | 2,770 Views
It's done! The canopy came out better than expected. CG is perfect, and it's all set for a maiden flight - as soon as I feel as though I can handle it. Maybe a buddy box flight with someone with a lot better flying skills than I currently have wouldn't be a bad idea.

It's been a fun project, that's for sure!
Posted by StayQuiet | Apr 03, 2012 @ 03:32 PM | 2,709 Views
An ordered tube of special cement for Lexan showed up today. Time to start gluing together the canopy sections.

Front part is done, glued and trimmed out with striping tape. "Captain Eddy TuLowe" is finding out that the cockpit is a snug fit.

The graphics are courtesy of my wife's crafting machine, which does a very nice job cutting them out on MonoKote trim sheet from a computer file (she does my AMA numbers for the wing as well).

I still have to cut out and glue the rear half of the canopy, then use some canopy glue to hold it to the fuselage.
Posted by StayQuiet | Mar 31, 2012 @ 10:27 AM | 2,903 Views
Attacking the problem of the canopy forming in a different way. (BTW, I haven't given up on the vacuum forming - yet. The shop vac only pulls about 5" of vacuum. I'm working on a two stage vacuum source using an old A/C system evacuation pump, capable of pulling 26" of vacuum, and a large air tank to store a vacuum supply. Opening a quick release valve to the table when the heated plastic is applied, and hitting it with 26" of vacuum should pull just about anything down.)

For now, however, I'm making up a canopy from 0.040" Lexan sheet, cutting it in pieces and bonding it together with Lexan cement, then gluing the assembly to the plane with some canopy glue. I've worked up a cardboard mockup of the pieces, since the cardboard is almost the same thickness as the Lexan sheet.

I also built a cowl for the nose, which houses some lead weight required to obtain the correct CG.
Posted by StayQuiet | Mar 25, 2012 @ 07:22 PM | 2,709 Views
My second attempt at vacuum forming a canopy went about as well as the first. Hotter oven, longer heat cycle, faster application - all no good.

I did some research (probably should have done that before I started, huh?) and found that the canopy form is too tall for vacuum forming. Something about draw ratios greater than 3:1 not working, and the canopy is above that ratio. Well, at least now I know why it didn't work. Time to re-think the problem. If I get some thicker material, I can score out the bend lines in the canopy. Prior to bending, I'll run some black trim tape across the score lines on the opposite side, then bend and glue everything into the proper shape.

At least it sounds good.

A quick check on the CG shows that the plane is tail heavy. Originally drawn up for glow power, the electric motor is much lighter than the glow engine and mount. So, out comes ModelCAD and a partial cowling is designed. Files have been sent to the LHS for laser cutting. That will give me an area to add weight as far forward as possible, so the overall weight won't be as bad.
Posted by StayQuiet | Mar 24, 2012 @ 03:42 PM | 2,638 Views
Covering went more quickly than expected. I changed up my scheme from all all-white fuselage, and went with the orange upper surfaces to blend in with the tail feathers.

I still have to make the canopy and finish the cockpit area, install control horns on the elevator and rudder, and finish connecting the control linkage. My wife is working on the graphics with some black trim sheet material. I'll paint the firewall as well.

The opening above the motor allows air into the fuselage, over the battery and ESC. Air travels over the wing and exits a hole in the bottom of the fuse just aft of the wing mount. Behind that is an access hatch for the receiver, so the aileron servo can be plugged in.

This is one bird I'll be proud to bring to the field. Built from plans, redrawn in CAD, laser cut and assembled. I hope it flys as well as I hope it will!
Posted by StayQuiet | Mar 23, 2012 @ 09:40 AM | 3,087 Views
Lexan sheets came in for the canopy. Got everything all ready, shop vac attached to the vacuum form table, oven warmed up and ready to go.

This is going to take practice.

I don't know if the oven wasn't hot enough, I didn't leave the lexan sheet in there long enough, or it took too long to move the sheet from the oven to the forming table, but it only shrunk down over the form about 1/2 way, then went solid on me again. Trying to re-heat it in the oven just allowed the top (formed) area to start to sag badly, so I re-applied it over the form and saved that part. I thought the best way to finish the forming would be to use a heat gun, but I overheated the sheet and melted a nice, large hole in it.

I may end up making the canopy a little less tall (cut down the form a bit, so the lexan doesn't have to stretch as much over it), raise the temp of the oven, leave the sheet in longer, and try again with the second sheet. Oh, and move the vacuum table right next to the oven door, so the sheet stays hot and flexible longer.

I need another excuse to send the missus out shopping while I take over her oven and kitchen.
Posted by StayQuiet | Mar 21, 2012 @ 04:57 PM | 2,850 Views
Hatch magnets are in, I've run the control rods for the elevator and rudder (temporary - they will be installed after the fuselage sides are covered). Everything is looking pretty good.

Now comes the part I dread the most: covering. I've never been very good at doing this in the past. I always used Monokote, but this time I decided on trying Ultracote. I started with the simple pieces - the tail feathers. Wow, what a difference working with this! It is so much easier!

For my color scheme, I chose bright orange for the tail surfaces and wing tips, white fuselage and wing top surface, and black and white checkerboard for the wing bottom. My wife has one of those craft card cutting machines, and she can put in any font and cut out lettering (she's made AMA numbers out of trim sheets before, and they came out great - thanks, honey!) Since this design is loosely based on a crop dusting plane, I've been trying to come up with a 'company name' to be applied to the fuse sides. Best suggestion so far has been 'TuLowe Crop Dusting Service'.
Posted by StayQuiet | Mar 17, 2012 @ 12:56 PM | 2,926 Views
I've been working on the canopy form. The term "soft pine" is a bit deceptive when you're trying to cut, plane, file, and sand a block of it into a shape. However, I think I've managed to get it to where it looks okay.

I ordered two pieces of 0.015" clear lexan that will be used to make the canopy over the form, using my home-made vacuum forming table, the shop vac, and my wife's oven. I should probably do that when she's not home, just in case it doesn't go well.