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Phaedra's blog
Posted by Phaedra | Jul 28, 2014 @ 03:03 PM | 1,057 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 @ 10:23 AM | 1,226 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 @ 10:58 AM | 1,321 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
Posted by Phaedra | Jun 13, 2014 @ 06:17 AM | 1,332 Views
I bought this helicopter second-hand around 1993. It was one of the first electric helis around at that time, and when I saw what a friend of my brother could do with it, I knew I wanted one.
I had never flown any helicopters in my life, and in those days they didn't have those little coaxial, or fixed pitch thingies, or even a simulator to help you out. So I was on my own.
I bough a book about it, to at least learn how to set it up correctly. I did some trials while it was securely attached to a table, with short strings of rope, so it could hove at some 10cm above the table, and I could watch the reactions to my inputs.
But that's about as far as I got, when we bought a house and then raised a child, and everything of my RC hobby went straight to the attic.
I took up RC flying again a couple of years ago, in 2012, and in the meantime I have restored a couple of models form the nineties into active duty again. It's probably cheaper to buy new foamie models today, but I find it more fun to accept the challenge and to see these models fly again. Nostalgia isn't a stranger to me....

And so I came across this piece of antique ("vintage" is the hype term now...). Last winter I learned to hover my fixed-pitch MSR-X, and that now gave me the courage to dust off this one.
I took it with me to the field, to show it to some fellow members that have been flying helicopters for a while now, to get their opinion about my chances of having this fly again.
They...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Jun 11, 2014 @ 10:03 AM | 1,620 Views
After a very nasty crash on its maiden flight, it took me the best part of 6 months before I was even able to look at the remains of this model.
It went straight down into the ground, on its nose, only a meter or so from where I was standing.
It's still unsure what exactly happened, but when it passed overhead, I pulled it into a turn (that wasn't really a good idea, in terms of orientation) because of field limitations, when I suddenly saw it go into an abrupt spin, straight down, and it felt like I had no control whatsoever.
At first I had no clue what happened, so I accounted it as pilot error. But when I investigated the remains, I found one of the aileron clevices broken. Was it the cause of the crash, or a consequence? We'll never now, but I did replace all of those plastic clevices on this model, just to be sure.

So last winter I decided to bite the bullet, and start the restoration on this model. Meanwhile I had ordered a complete spare model, intending to use only the bare minimum from it, so that I can build me another one later, when I get to grips with this one.
The damage was impressive: the fuselage was broken in two and deformed, and so were both engine nacelles.
The landing gear could, to my own surprise, be repaired, but both motors, spinners and propellers had to be replaced. All in all, a surprisingly limited list of parts that needed to be replaced, especially considering the fact that she went straight on the nose into the ground!

This is...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | May 26, 2014 @ 06:44 AM | 1,523 Views
When visiting my LHS a couple of weeks ago, I saw a beautiful model hanging form the ceiling, second-hand, for 330 Euro, including an internal combustion engine and starter.
Since I have a really soft spot for the Marchetti SF260, I asked them if they wouldn't sell it without the motor, because I only want to fly electric.
They didn't, so I studied the model carefully, and found out it was from Mantua Models. A bit of research showed that is now a very rare model, discontinued, and only a couple (literally) of build logs and flight tests are available.
Those were all very positive about the model, so then I knew I wanted one
The only unknown for me at that point was which motor I needed, because none of the build logs were about an electric version, so the total weight remains a mystery...
I soon found one on sale via eBay in France, for 129 Euro, still new in the box, to be built. Now that is definitely a better price than the one in my LHS, so I quickly decided to buy it.
And whaddayaknow, today the postman rang at my door, and he had a very large box for me

It was incredibly well packed, with lots of paper and foam around the actual box, so that is already a big plus.
Wings and tail part are abachi-covered foam, and appear to be of impeccable quality. Included are lots of plastic parts for engine cowl, tip tanks, etc.
Flaps are not foreseen, but I think I will add them anyway. I have no idea yet about wing loading.

The first thing I did after unpacking,...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | May 15, 2014 @ 01:39 PM | 2,498 Views
Last time I flew my Hurricane, I broke off the canopy while opening it up to install a new battery, so I took advantage of this mishap to try and modify it to a sliding canopy.
First step was to cut the canopy into two parts: one that will remain fixed as a windshield, and the other part will be the sliding part.
On the corresponding Hurricane thread on this forum I found the idea of using a C- and an I-profile to make a sliding rail. So off I went to the LHS, and there I found the required profiles in plastic.
The first problem to tackle was to cut a slit into the closed square profile, to make it a C-profile. But that proved to be easier than what I had feared.
A bit of tinkering was required to reduce friction as much as possible, without introducing too much play on the mechanism.

Then it was time to cut slots into the foam, to house the rails, and glue in the rails.

...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | May 10, 2014 @ 09:50 AM | 1,767 Views
The weather being at an all-time low these days, I decided to get a bit more organised for charging batteries.
I have an older power supply that worked well as long as I only charged one battery, but wit my new Hitec quad-charger, I ran into its limits while charging four batteries simultaneously.
Another problem is that this power supply is a bit cumbersome to take with me to the field, being a bit heavy and such.
So my first idea was to replace it with an older 300W PC power supply I still had lying around. Being a switched power supply, it is a lot lighter, and its form factor is a bit more interesting too. It's easy enough to convert these power supplies to what I need:
  • On the largest connector, connecting the green wire to any black wire will switch the system on
  • The yellow wires supply a 10.7V voltage, so for 300W that means a maximum current of almost 30A, which should be sufficient for my needs
  • I wanted to cut all unneeded wires and connectors, but care has to be taken with this. Luckily I went about in a systematic way, cutting wires one by one, because some of the orange wires need to be tied together for the power supply to function.

I had an old aluminium flight case that I didn't use anymore, so then I decided to integrate the power supply into this:
I first cut out a few pieces to make openings for the cooling fan and power cord receptacle:

Two small screws hold it down in the corner of the case.
I drilled some holes in the power supply case for some...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Apr 30, 2014 @ 02:11 PM | 2,080 Views
Dusting off my good old ASW22 with the intention of installing a new frSky receiver and bind it to my new Taranis radio, I noticed a problem with the spoilers.
I was setting the control throws for all channels when I noticed that both spoilers didn't extend equally anymore. And that could cause a really bad day when that happens in flight (don't ask how I know).
At the time, some 20-odd years ago, we didn't have the same choice in digital or metal gear servos as we have today, so this model wasn't designed to house the spoiler servos in the wing, but instead they opted to install only one inside the fuselage, and you just had to hook up the spoilers each time you assembled the wings.
I took an alternative path at the time, since I didn't see myself doing that operation before every flight. So I opted to screw a small servo tray to the wing root, and make openings in the fuselage where those servos would pass through. Not quite elegant either, but it worked for me.

Now we have much smaller servos, and more powerful than the bulky stuff from those day, so I wanted to mount new servos inside the wing.

The hardest part is making a cut in the wing, not knowing what you will find below the surface. In this case, it was some sort of plywood spar, only glued to the top part covering of the wing, and only loosely glued to the wing root.

I decided to cut it and glue the servo solid to the remaining parts of the spar, thereby restoring its structural function, using some expanding PU glue.
The glue dried meanwhile, and I finished adjusting the throws for a nice synchronized movement of both spoilers.
Mission accomplished so far.

I will cover the holes temporarily, so I can finally remaiden this beautiful bird as soon as the weather permits.
Tomorrow I will install the telemetry sensors, and do the final fine-tuning.
Stay tuned.
Posted by Phaedra | Apr 22, 2014 @ 12:39 PM | 1,663 Views
After fooling around with the 50mm EDF version of the T-33, I finally built up some confidence to fly EDF jets. I preparation of my Windrider B-737 I bought an Epic Victory from Graupner a while ago, intended as a trainer, but the many hours I invested in that model in modifying it has made me anxious to fly that one too
So the T-33 came in handy to get over my cold feet about all this, and whaddayaknow, my self confidence inspired me to take things up another level, with this SU-35.
I have studied a couple of Youtube clips about this model, and it seems to be quite a stable flyer indeed. Having an 80m concrete runway available in my club, I feel confident about pulling this off. But then came the surprise: these models seem to be harder to find than I imagined. Hobbyking has them, but in backorder, and they are about the only shop that still carry them on the European continent.
So I was more than pleased to find one second-hand, complete with motors and servos, extra main gear struts and a 15A BEC, for the same price as the empty model at HK.
So yesterday I assembled the model outside, and did some inspecting, so I can make a list of things I still might need and what is still required to do to make it airworthy (it hasn't even flown yet!).

1) Control horns on the tailerons have too much play. At first sight, the screws only need some tightening, but I'm not sure they are up to the task, considering the leverage required for moving these large surfaces.
...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Nov 15, 2013 @ 02:14 PM | 2,338 Views
With winter approaching, a new indoor flying season starts. My new flying club organizes weekly indoor sessions, and that got me thinking: I have nothing to fly! (sounds familiar? "I have nothing to wear"...no?)
The tinkerer in me wants to build something, and since I'm already working on a Jamara lasercut kit of the SF260, I opted to build an ultra-simple and ultra-light version of this beautiful plane, in depron.
I already have some 3-views that come with the Jamara kit, so I resized them to a 60+ cm long version, printed it and started cutting some depron....
I slightly oversized the wings, to get the wingload down. I will be making the wings of 2 layers of 3mm depron around a carbon tube.
To be continued....
Posted by Phaedra | Aug 03, 2013 @ 05:37 AM | 2,991 Views
Getting a bit bored with my funcub, I decided I wanted something else.
I already have some models that are challenging to fly, but I do need one that is relaxing, for those days or evenings when I'm too tired for the excitement a Hurricane or Mosquito offers.
Up to now, I would use the trusted funcub for that, but, as I said, a got a bit bored by it. It flies great, don't get me wrong, but in the air it still looks like that thirteen in a dozen trainer aircraft with fixed gear and big dihedral.
In other words, I wanted another easy and boring model that looks a bit more scale.
All good and well, but this request had to pass the budget committee over here, and it wasn't going to be easy. Forget the tried argument of "yes, but it's a sale item". That stopped working years ago. I tried that on shoes and stuff, so it wore out.
So, we compromised on selling another model. And that will be the funcub. Hope I can sell it in the club, so I can still see it fly once in a while.
So which new model would it be?
It would need to be more scale, that was an important requirement.
I always liked the looks of a Beechcraft Staggerwing, and there are currently two offerings: one from E-flite and one from FMS.
Another options was the Cessna 195 from Phoenix. It made my heart tick a little faster, because it's such a unique model, not much of those flying around. And it's not a foamie, so it can be flown when there's a little more wind too.
But the Cessna quickly became less...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Jul 23, 2013 @ 07:54 AM | 3,002 Views
One of the main advantages of upgrading my old faithful MPX 3030 transmitter is that it enables me to use telemetry.
The M-link 2.4 GHz module has everything in it to support this, even in my old transmitter, but the software of the latter obviously doesn't provide any means of displaying telemetry data.

Enter the telemetry display.
For around 80 Euro, it provides the means to:
- display the telemetry data
- display specific M-link messages ("binding...", "Range check",...)
- output vario tone via internal speaker or earphone.

My first use of telemetry concerned mainly vario and altitude for my gliders.
I was quickly convinced of the advantages of this technology as soon as it enabled me flights of up to 90 minutes when other pilots had to land after 20 minutes or so.
The vario showed one disadvantage: the delay between the actual vertical movement and the actual corresponding vario tone you hear. When you see the model going up, it takes around 1 to 2 seconds before you hear the corresponding tone. You would guess that this kind of beats the purpose of using the vario, if you see the movement better than you can hear it, but that is not always the case. When the model is far away, it gets really difficult to see this movement, so there the vario is a real added value.
It even warned me more than once of very strong thermals that I managed to escape before things got really out of hand. I had to fly in a straight line longer than I...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Jul 21, 2013 @ 09:36 AM | 2,834 Views
Back in 1993 or 1994, I' not sure exactly, I fell in love with 4m span RC gliders, if not only for their elegance.
Those things weren't cheap in those days (anything RC wasn't cheap then...), and it was harder to get decent information or flight test data. Internet made things a lot easier, that's for sure, but back then, we had to rely on RC magazines only.
Anyway, my choice was the Graupner ASW22BE vario, the "vario" part of the name indicated that it could be electrified.
The fuselage is thick epoxy or something of the kind, wings are (balsa?) covered styrofoam.
Having observed other 4m gliders, it became clear and obvious that I would need effective spoilers to control the approach path of this slender beauty.
I opted to install metal spoilers, each one controlled by a separate servo, attached to the wing root, inside the fuselage. This awkward setup didn't compromise the structural strength of the wing in any way.
At the time, I flew it with 14-cell NiCd batteries, installed around the CG, giving it ample power for a comfortable climb.
It took me a couple of flights to get the CG and control throws just right, before I took it along on a holiday to Austria, and found me a very nice flying spot in the mountains:
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As soon as I took it up, however, winds proved to be extremely turbulent, and I had a hard time bringing it back to the ground in one piece, using full engine power to penetrate the turbulence.
Soon after that, we bought a house, and the RC...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Jun 10, 2013 @ 08:40 AM | 3,051 Views
By the end of last flying season, my funcub quickly became a bit too predictable for me.
Buying new models for me has become kind of a bit like buying shoes: you can never have too much of them.
I had already assembled some spare parts into a neat and nifty little electric glider, which could provide me some distraction from funcub flying, up and away from all other models buzzing away around my head.
But it was time for more. For faster.
Time for a warbird.
Never had one, never flown one.
One warbird isn't the other. Some of the available models seem to have quite a bit of nasty habits in terms of tip stalls or other mean characteristics, so those are not the ideal entry into warbird flying. I needed a model that was
1) beautiful. Very important. (See also: shoes)
2) a thrill to fly (read: faster than my funcub), but without the nasty habits.
3) able to operate from a grass field

When the E-flite Hurricane was announced to be discontinued, I saw my chance to acquire one for a very nice price. In my own shoe-buying logic, I just won myself over 100 Euros buying this plane (which I can spend on shoes for instance).
Before any objections to that reasoning could be uttered, I had one delivered to my doorstep.
I read a lot about its great ability to nose-over, so I waited with the retracts, and mounted the fixed gear to allow for some "margin" on my landings.
Assembly went failry easy and quickly, but the toughest part was gathering enough courage...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Jun 02, 2013 @ 01:34 PM | 3,620 Views
Last year I practised a lot with my Fun cub, and had lots of - yes - fun, but it all started to feel a little too predictable. Don't get me wrong, it is a great little plane, and at times it can be a handfull, but after a while, - shock- I started to feel the need for something different. Apart from the gliders of course. And the Hurricane.
And the Epic Victory I haven't flown yet. As is the Windrider B737.
Ah well, time for something different.
So I got very tempted by the Mosquito. Comparing the at first sight identical offerings from Hobbyking and Freewing, the latter just seemed the better option.
And so I ordered one. Evidently. It will be an introduction to flying twins for me, before I even dare thinking of the 737.
So let's get started.....
Posted by Phaedra | May 04, 2013 @ 11:11 AM | 3,407 Views
After posting over 100 messages on this forum, I discovered a thing called "a blog"
Let me start my own blog with a little introduction.
Growing up between the approach paths of runways 25L and 25R of Brussels airport, and a father working on that same airport, I had an early intertest in "all things that fly". I remember using maintenance manuals of the Caravelle and Boeing 707 as coloring books, for instance.
As soon as I graduated in 1985, I bought mysels my very first RC aircraft, a high-wing trainer with a methanol engine. The first flight went, as can be expected without any assistance, rather catastrophic. So I decided to look for a decent club before attempting a second flight.
Soon after, I learned to fly full-scale gliders, giving me the taste of hunting thermals and, most importantly, overcoming my fear of heights.
In 1990, I got my private pilot license, and started to work for the Belgian Sabena airline. Together with a few other enthousiasts, we started our own RC club. Given the location and ever more stringent environmental laws, we had to limit ourselves to electric flight.
My first model then was the Elektro Junior from Graupner (first pic). I had loads of fun with this under-performer with a very high noise to performance ratio.
An RC fair in Frankfurt brought me a hotliner glider for a nickle and a dime, which I have been restoring into flying condition, but more on that in a later blog entry.
Having been bitten by the...Continue Reading