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Posted by Phaedra | Jan 18, 2015 @ 01:24 PM | 1,108 Views
Sooner or later, the less sexy work of installing servos and control horns can not be postponed anymore. Took a deep breath, and just started cutting, sawing and glueing mindlessly.
The kit provided some thin plywood "guides" that fit into cutouts in the ribs Onto these guides, the plywood frames and hatches need to bee glued and screwed.
Since I decided to install flaps on this model, I already had to extend these guides across three ribs, instead of two.
I found the original frame around the servo hatches to be too flimsy, so I decided to cut some covers in 1,5mm plywood, in which I cut out the space for the servo hatches.
I decided to use some servo installation screws to attach the hatches to the guides, on which I glued some dense balsa blocks to receive the screws in.
I cut some other dense balsa blocks on which I will attach the servos, and this assembly will be glued to the bottom of the servo hatches.
While some glue was setting? i worked a bit on the cockpit floor and the canopy.
I cut some 1mm plywood to the size of the cockpit floor, on which I will glue some balsa at the edge, on which I will glue the canopy.
I already rough-cut the canopy for a trial fit, and after I glued the canopy to the floor, I will fine-cut it, and finish it with a white trim.

So, not much to show after a lot of boring work, but even that needs to be done sooner or later....Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Jan 16, 2015 @ 10:17 AM | 2,081 Views
To get a break from the balsa works, I decided to work on my model rack.
I will allow me to stack my models while I transport them in my trailer, and will double as model stands when I'm at the field.
I saw the idea here and there, so I wanted to make my own concept, using drainage pipes.
I went to the local hardware store to get me some plastic 32mm pipes and a whole box full of T-joints. It made me look like some hardcore Lego or Knexx fan...
In one of my previous blog entries I showed some pics of my new trailer that will serve as a mobile hangar. I already started experimenting with some fixed racks inside the trailer, but then I discovered it would require a too cumbersome to fix the models in place.
So I got some ideas left and right, and started experimenting with a removable rack built out of drainage pipes, which can be partially disassembled into separate model stands for each model.
The pictures show the first concept already. It took some figuring out why the rack was always so crooked at first, but then I found out that:
1) the T-joints are not 90, but rather 87
2) and they are asymmetric: there is one short and one longer side, and obviously, I had swapped them around for each layer
So now everything looks straighter, and I will be adding some side-supports to keep the rack centered inside my trainer. Instead of using the 87 corner pieces, I will also use T-joints and point some tubes outward too, to fit it exactly inside the trailer.
The...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Jan 14, 2015 @ 03:27 PM | 1,182 Views
After all the cutting and the sanding on the fuselage, I just had to let the dust settle for a bit. Literally.
So I diverted my attention to the wings, and more specifically the retracts.
I started by connecting a metal gear servo to the mechanical retracts. Only to be surprised by the amount of friction in them. It took so much force to move them that the steel wire I used just bent. Hmm. This is clearly not good. I don't know where the friction came from; maybe it was from the heat of grinding the struts, melting the plastic guides?
So I started looking for some alternatives, but finding metal retracts of this size seems impossible. Considering the cost of buying another set of plastic retracts and the risk of running into the same problems, I compared different options, including making my own metal units.
But while gathering some leftover material from defective retracts, I had another look at the Eflite units I bought for this model.
I then saw the modifications I did to them more than a year ago, trying to fit the struts as close to the retracts body as possible.
That's when I suddenly realized that this was almost the solution I needed.
I made the retract go the other way, just by drilling a new hole in the trunnion, so that the gear extended position was now the retracted position, the strut hole being shifted 90 degrees.
I just had to open the cutout in the retract housing a bit more, so that the struts can enter inside the housing when the gear is retracted.
Then I only had to made some more openings in the wing ribs to accommodate the retract unit in the new position and orientation, and then I was finally able to install it into the wing. First tests show this to work perfectly.
I feel like I finally cracked the retracts code on this model!
Now I can install the flaps and ailerons servos and start testing, before I finish planking the wings.
Posted by Phaedra | Jan 11, 2015 @ 10:25 AM | 1,599 Views
And the saga continues....cut-glue-sand-repeat. The joys of balsa building
Luckily I went over to the LHS to get me some balsa, otherwise I don't know where I would have needed to get the required wood for all the planking I have been doing lately.
As it stands now, the top of the nose is finished, I added the necessary balsa to the aft fuselage bottom, and planked the top.
That was the easy part.
But then the time came to construct the tail around the horizontal and vertical stab. According to the manual, you had to first insert a "dummy" of the stabs, so that you can glue and sand the balsa inserts around it. Easy enough
First challenge was to place the dummy inserts in the correct place and orientation.
When glueing in the 6mm balsa pieces around it, care had to be taken not to glue it to the dummy inserts, or it could ruin the rest of your day.
Layer after layer, I cut and glued the balsa pieces, and while the glue set, I started on the bottom of the nose, with some more cutting, glueing and sanding of 6mm balsa pieces.
The advantages of having some decent and sharp tools around can not be underestimated in this.
A couple more evenings like this, and I can start thinking about installing some electronics, and see some surfaces moving!
But before I can do that, I think I might need to do some cleaning of my workspace......Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Jan 09, 2015 @ 03:30 PM | 1,803 Views
I'm loving this build more and more every day. Working with balsa is so much more fun than foam.
The Jamara kit is really a good and beautiful one, but the manual is a disaster. It contains a number of build pictures, but you are really left to guess which piece of balsa is used for what. It drove me nuts for a while, but then I decided today to pass at my LHS and get me some extra balsa, so I can continue the build at my own discretion and insight.
I'm considering this build as a dress rehearsal for other balsa builds, so now I have the opportunity to make my own choices and see how it works out on a lasercut kit.
First thing I noticed was that the manual suggested to plank the back of the fuselage without ever mentioning the fact that the control rod sleeves need to be routed through this part of the fuselage. That would become quite a challenge after the planking....
So I started with installing the servos for elevator and rudder.
While dry-fitting the horizontal stabiliser and elevator, it dawned on me that I need to split the elevator in two parts eventually, otherwise it cannot move down. So I decided to route two control rods, one for each halve.
The plywood arc at the back of the cockpit area consists of two halves, which have to be glued together back-to-back, so I decided to glue a small piece of ply to enlarge the glue surface, before glueing the whole onto the fuselage.
Then it was time to start planking the nose. Some 1mm balsa was supplied for that,...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Jan 06, 2015 @ 02:50 PM | 1,362 Views
A grueling work schedule kept me from advancing much on the Marchetti, but I still manage to work on it for an hour or so in the evening, just to keep my sanity intact...
The things that kept me from finishing this model last winter were mainly a lot of open questions about the landing gear, and I didn't get around to find a decent solution then.
Thanks to the mechanical retracts, things started moving again, and so I adapted the main retracts and struts, like I described in the previous blog post.
Since then, I repeated the actions on the other wing, and did some more sanding on the trailing edge of the wings. Still a lot of sanding to do...

Then it was time to focus on the nose gear. For that one I can still use the Eflite retract, which also contains a nose wheel steering mechanism.
To get the nose gear to appear longer, like in the real aircraft, I mounted the retract on a soft wooden platform.
For the nose wheel steering, I added a metal gear servo (I expect the nose gear to take some hits during takeoff and landing), and mounted it behind the motor, as close to the retract as possible, and still accessible perfectly behind the removable engine cowling.
I just hope that it doesn't interfere with the flight battery, since it protrudes inside the space that is foreseen therefore.

I then did a dry fitting of the wings to the fuselage, to get a first impression of how everything looks when on its feet (wheels). And it looks good, I must admit.
It's still a bit high compared to the original, but the body attitude comes really close!
Now that this has been tackled, I can start with some planking and covering....
I already tried cutting the tip tanks plastic pieces, but I'm not at all happy with the result. The pieces just don't fit together. Don't know what I'll do with that.
Posted by Phaedra | Dec 31, 2014 @ 12:47 PM | 1,863 Views
After quite a long pause in its build I decided to pick up the small Marchetti again.
Earlier this year I was able to get hold of a larger second hand kit of the Marchetti, so that left me in doubt about what to do with this smaller model.
Last winter, I got a bit stuck on the details.
Main problem was the landing gear. I wanted to fit retracts in this model, so I bought me some Eflite 10-15 electric retracts.
But soon enough it dawned on me that I could never fit those in.
When you look at the picture of the original (Sabena training school), you can see how low the main wheels sit under the wing, while the nose wheel strut is a lot longer.
In a previous blog entry I showed some pictures of the physical constraints; in short: with the Eflite retracts I can never get the main gear to be that short, and thus the nose gear would have to be so long that it would look like some sort of flamingo.
And so I let this one rest for a while.
When I got the larger model, I started doubting on whether or not to finish this one, and if so, whether or not to include retracts and flaps.
Flaps, I could easily do without. But to launch this model without wheels could pose a problem, since it's not really a docile model from the looks of it.
And then there's the landing....belly-landing a covered balsa wing just doesn't look like a good idea to me.
So, since I already got some decals from Callie Graphics, I decided to continue the build.
The first decision was about: retracts or...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Dec 26, 2014 @ 06:32 AM | 1,521 Views
In the past few days I've been continuing a bit on my Ka8, to get past that feeling that things aren't really advancing....

Yesterday I finally glued in the floor board, after glueing in a couple of wood pieces to protect the towhook control rod against the battery strap. In the process I also put some epoxy on my newest jeans and in my hair, but let's stay on-topic

I thought about and experimented with ideas about putting some lead in front of the firewall, but in the end I decided against it. The risk and trouble about trying to achieve this doesn't weigh up to the small advantage. Which proved to be true a bit later.....

I then cut some strips of lead that I could glue on the inside of the fuselage, as close to the firewall as possible. This already gives a neat advantage compared to the blocks of lead that were glued in lengthwise. This way, I already saved some 150g of lead in front! But to be honest, the original CG with the enormous blocks of lead was too much forward, so moving that aft contributes the most to that weight gain.

So when I tried to re-install the motor after this, I was confronted with a problem: it wouldn't go in!
The problem seemed to be twofold:
- the extra epoxy and plywood around the towhook was in the way
- some epoxy of the above mentioned operation apparently flowed towards the nose and got in the way of the motor shaft...
But after removing all that extra stuff, the motor went in like before....sign of relief...

I...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Dec 20, 2014 @ 05:57 AM | 1,134 Views
Some progress done on the Ka8b in the last few days.
First up was the towhook servo. I had to glue a couple of sturdy support blocks onto the cockpit floor, to which I could secure the servo with the supplied screws.
Then I had to choose the longest servo arm available, to avoid that the control rod would touch the underside of the cockpit floor. I must remember to install the battery strap properly before I glue the cockpit floor in the fuselage again, taking into account the towhook control rod movement. I guess I'll glue in a couple of support blocks to guide the rod....
After a couple of tests I was happy with the servo movement, no binding, and a solid connect/disconnect position of the towhook.
Next was a bit of work on the wings. I started with the servo wires, by installing some mpx connectors to allow trouble-free wing installation. I alternated male and female on each wing, so I can make no mistakes when plugging them in.
When I started testing the ailerons, I was baffled by what I saw. In the neutral position, the servo arm was already in an extreme position, which caused quite some trouble for the up movement of the aileron. Another argument for the theory that this bird never flew....
Unscrewing the servo arm proved impossible without some extreme surgery on the wing. Removing the servo doesn't look very inviting either, since it is glued in with plenty of epoxy on the balsa wing covering.
So I had to solve this digitally, against my principles....Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Dec 15, 2014 @ 02:34 PM | 1,659 Views
The Ka8b was the first one-seater glider I ever flew, and I spent quite some time seated on the hard wooden plank, listening to the squeaking of the rudder pedals while trying to keep some thermals over France.
So I didn't have to think for a long time when I found this second-hand RC model in pristine condition.
I had to spend half a day in my car to get it in Germany, and the previous owner claims he had some ten flights on it. But "it just wasn't his thing".
I couldn't care less if he flew it, but the really mint, like-new conditions makes me doubt it has ever flown. Not a single micro-scratch on the landing skid, the wheel is like brand new... And the CG marked on the wing is so far forward that I doubt it could actually fly like that.
But heck, it's like brand new, and I could buy it for a very good price, including the motor, ESC and 4S Hacker Lipo....so this was a no-brainer.
Only downside: it didn't have any spoilers installed (another reason to doubt that someone with very limited fixed wing experience has flown it like ten times and landed it without a single scratch).
I'm not sure which brand it actually is. The online shop he bought it from sells the Topmodel version, and when I look at pictures of that model, there are very strong resemblances, but it isn't really the same.
The fuselage is really solid, which makes it the perfect model to do some slope soaring. It has a span of 3m, the wings are a bit see-through covered and partially...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Dec 07, 2014 @ 01:27 PM | 1,167 Views
Today I finally maidened my Twin otter.
Video:
Maiden Twin Otter (1 min 27 sec)


I started by doing a couple of high-speed taxi runs, to get a feel of the controls.
During the second run, the model already took off, and it landed again after I cut the throttle.
I felt confident enough after this short test, so I decided to give it a go. I had to give it a firm pull on the elevator to take off this time, and as soon as it was airborne it felt really harmonic in response to the controls.
Center of gravity was a bit aft during the first few flights, resulting in a bit nervous behavior in pitch.
Another flaw was ground control. Somehow the nose gear has very little authority on the ground, making it almost impossible to make simple turns after landing (unless at very low speed, almost a crawl)

But all in all, this is a winner, very happy with the result.

So the next step will be to improve on nose wheel steering, and finish some more details (painting, cover the landing gear legs,...).
Posted by Phaedra | Nov 26, 2014 @ 02:40 PM | 1,881 Views
The Twin Otter is nearing completion.
The toughest issues have been tackled: the motors and motor mounts, and the nose wheel steering.
The motor mounts are made of thin plywood, and the motors are attached via Z-bent wires, which are then glued to the backside of the mounts. A first engine run proved it to be solid enough.
The prop savers that came with the motors had a big problem too for this configuration: the hex bolts are very very short. This is especially difficult because I want to use three-blade props. Since I had some Pichler prop savers available, with the same diameter bolts, but much longer, I transplanted those.

The nose wheel steering was solved by using a piece of shrink-tube that serves a some sort of hinge. I glued the shrink tube to the nose wheel piano wire and to the control rod, and then applied a bit of heat to further shrink it.
So far, it seems to be working just fine. Time will tell....

Next steps are:
- solder the other ESC to motor and solder a Y-cable for the battery to both ESCs
- fix both ESC at an appropriate place
- finish the top part of the engine nacelles
- weight and balance
- finish transmitter programming
- FLY it!

I hope to maiden next weekend...
Posted by Phaedra | Nov 04, 2014 @ 03:30 PM | 2,466 Views
While the glue was slowly setting on my Twin Otter model, I had a pop-up idea...
Last year I build a depron pusher-prop F-22 that flies fantastically.
So why not build an indoor micro-version of it?
I still had some micro components lying around that I bought for some undefined indoor model that I wanted to build.
I printed out the plans on one A3 sheet, which seemed to be the perfect size for this purpose. The only problem seemed to be the size of the propeller, or better: the size of the cutout in the model is not proportional the the required propeller size on this scale. But I guess that can be tackled. By making a larger cut...
I first tested the electronics, by binding the micro receiver to the Spektrum module in my Taranis transmitter.
Soldering the motor wires proved quite a challenge on this scale, but ultimately I got it to turn in the right direction.
I glued the motor to a depron motor mount, not sure that this will be solid or strong enough. Time will tell.

Next step will be to find a place to mount the micro servos for the elevons. Transmitter programming was easy enough since I already have a larger version of this model, so I just had to make a copy of the model memory.

Only a couple more hours and this thing will fly. Can't wait to see if it really does...
Posted by Phaedra | Oct 30, 2014 @ 03:29 PM | 2,609 Views
As the indoor flying season is approaching, the time has come to dust off the lighter stuff.
I bound the two scratch-built indoor models to my Taranis first, and then I dug up the plans of an indoor DHC-6 Twin otter that I received from a fellow club member.
I admired how wonderful this model flew last winter, and I gladly accepted his offer for a copy of the plans.
So while I started the build of this model, I ordered some motors, counter-rotating 3-blade propellers, ESCs, servos, a 2S450 Lipo and some lightweight wheels.

So now it is time for cutting, bending, glueing.....
Posted by Phaedra | Oct 19, 2014 @ 05:01 AM | 2,201 Views
Model airplanes tend to grow bigger and bigger. They do.
And on top of that, they don't really stack well in a car. Not even in a large family car (in European terms )...
So I bought a second-hand closed trailer, and started mounting some racks inside, just to get some better view on how I can organise things neatly inside.

My first idea is to put the models nose-down, hanging form the racks, and immobilize them with some soft material and elastic bands.
Problem is, if I want to add a second set of models behing that, I run out of length of the trailer. And so I would need to overlap the wings of the models, which might get complicated/dangerous/tricky.

Another option would be to stack them when they are lying horizontally, nose left and tail right for instance.
Then I could add another stack that has the tail on the right and the nose on the left for instance, allowing an easier overlap.

Or I could replace the ugly black box that was mounted in front by something more useful, like a space where the wingtips could protrude, so that I could have two stacks behind each other without overlapping wings...

I'm sure anyway that I will replace the black box by useful space, maybe even some sort of storage for my flight cases with batteries and transmitter, or other smaller stuff.

Plenty of time to think of solutions, with winter ahead....
Posted by Phaedra | Sep 01, 2014 @ 08:59 AM | 2,123 Views
Had a wonderful dive yesterday, to discover this sunken C-47 near Kas in the south of Turkey. We were able to swim inside, through the open cargo door, up to the entrance of the electronics bay and cockpit. It was way too narrow to continue any further. I wouldn't risk getting stuck inside with all the diving equipment sticking and hanging out of our body....
We had to leave the wreck a bit early because one of our diving partners ran out of air fast, but it was quite the experience!
Posted by Phaedra | Aug 25, 2014 @ 05:43 AM | 2,544 Views
I would like to join some fellow club members to go slope soaring anytime soon.
Only problem is....ain't got no slope soaring model...yet.
Or so I thought.
I just remembered the small glider I once bought, on which I learned to fly RC.
It's a DG300 from Graupner, 2,3m span.
I used a bungee at the time to launch it, and the model sure shows the abuse it had to take during those first flights.
It's only a 2-channel model + speedbrakes. But I will convert it to ailerons to get better control during slope soaring.
It has about the right size and weight to get started I think.
Let's get to work then....
Posted by Phaedra | Jul 28, 2014 @ 04:03 PM | 2,741 Views
Finally got to make my first in-flight video by mounting my keychain camera on the fuselage in front of the tail.
If you look for it, you can see me standing on the short strip parallel to the runway, and in the back you can see real airplanes taking off from the real runway....

Hurricane routine 270714 (4 min 54 sec)

Posted by Phaedra | Jul 20, 2014 @ 11:23 AM | 2,871 Views
After loads of good advice and help from a fellow club member, I finally succeeded in getting this vintage electric helicopter ready to fly again.
The gyro on it didn't inspire much confidence anymore, so I replaced it by a Spartan one that I could borrow from that same club member.
Yesterday I did a good effort in cleaning the dust out of every little spot, and putting some oil here and there in the articulations and bearings, and now everything seems to run smooth as ever.
I tested the correct movement of the servos without the blades on, for my own safety. Tail rotor and gyro seem to do what they're supposed to do.
Next step is to take it to the field and have it inspected and probably fine-tuned a bit more, and then it's time to get it back into the air again!
Posted by Phaedra | Jun 24, 2014 @ 11:58 AM | 3,087 Views
Today my Spitfire kit arrived.
I'm kind of fond of the Spitfire, I like its profile in the sky. Already having an Eflite Hurricane made me doubt for a while if I really wanted this kit, being almost the same size. But since it's a Spitfire, and it's balsa instead of foam, I decided to go ahead and order one, before they go out of production again.
And so the box arrived today.....
First impression: very nice!
Everything was neatly packaged, as can be seen in the pictures.
At first sight, the quality of the different parts seems very good, and the covering looks really well finished.
On the bottom of the wing, cutouts need to be made for retracts, wheels and aileron servos. Confusingly enough, markings for wheel wells were made on the covering, but in the wrong place! I was a bit too fast on the trigger there, and already started cutting the covering when I noticed my mistake. Frustrating, but recoverable...
The drawings in the manual don't provide you all the details where the cutouts need to be made, and you still need to be a bit of a creative builder to find out what to look for.
When I made the cutouts for the aileron servos, I noticed that a piece of string was integrated inside the wing, which is very handy to pull servo extension wires through the wing to the fuselage. Nice touch!

Inside the fuselage, sleeves have been glued in for elevator and rudder. They are only glued at the extremities, which allows for some bending when under load, and that could...Continue Reading