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Stradawhovious's blog
Posted by Stradawhovious | May 27, 2014 @ 01:17 PM | 1,530 Views
Now that Winter has made it's way into Summer (we bypassed Spring altogether here in MN) I have been getting more and more flight time. Virtually every weekend I'm able to fly through all my (dozen or so) batteries with a handful of different planes.

I have the Flite test beginners (FT Flyer, Bloody Wonder etc) the step ups (FT Spitfire, Mustang etc) Foamie beginners (Super Cub with a bunch of mods) and even a depron 3D plane. (and about a dozen more not mentioned here)

Since last year I have gone from being terrified of the wind and having a 50% retintion rate of planes brought to the field to recently flying comfortably in 15+mph winds and coming home with every plane I left with intact. This isn't to say I don't bend the occasional motor shaft, but I really havn't crashed anything in a while.

I've also been learning maneuvers above and beyond the standard rolls and loops and flying a bit of combat. In fact, I think the point at which I decided I was no longer a perpetual Noob was flying some intense streamer combat with the Bloody Wonder at full rates and not augering it into the corn field we were flying over. I did manage to fold it in half, but it wasn't due to a crash.

Now I know whaty you're thinking.. "Why did this idiot waste my time with this crap??" Well, I'm glad you asked. I'm writing this here because it's largely you guys who are responsible for my descent into RC madness, and my growth as a model pilot. Thank you all for your insight, posts, advice and banter (witty and otherwise) I could have done it without you, but it would have taken much much longer with many more destryed airframes, and been far less entertaining.

Thanks folks!
Posted by Stradawhovious | Apr 16, 2014 @ 12:36 PM | 2,266 Views
So while out flying on Sunday, well to be fair, while out waiting for the wind to die down... My DX6i starts acting all wonky out of the blue. The voltage starts jumping all over the place with brand new Energizer Lituium batteries. Jumps from 7 volts to 3.4 volts, then to 5.5, and back down to 4, then over to 7, back to 3.4 etc etc etc. This went on for a while, and continued even with other sets of batteries, both alkaline and rechargable.

Knowing that the unit was past it's warranty period (and voided anyways with the addition of a Turnigy backlight kit and a trottle cut switch) I called Horizon customer service to see if they have had this issue before, and could maybe offer some advice on it.

"You're out of luck" is what Bill told me. He said they've never heard of this issue, and won't even fix it for cash at this point because of the mods (not that I'd pay them $75 to fix a $100 TX anyways). I guess I understand their point, but I have a hard time believeing the mod caused this since it worked flawlessly for nine months after the mod was completed, and I'm competent with reasonably fine electronics soldering through a previous 10 year stint in basic electronics repair with guitars and amplifiers

Well, chalking that up to a loss, I decide to Stick it to Horizon Hobby due to their lack of interest in helping me with my issue.

How did I do that you ask?

That's right. I bought a brand new DX8.

As much as I hate the idea of giving more money to a...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Mar 31, 2014 @ 01:01 PM | 1,617 Views
Recently, against my better Judgement, I dove head first into another hobby.

I visited my local hobby shop about a month ago and one of the guys behind the counter was firing up a 3D printer. Now since I thought that 3D printers only existed in really expensive R&D labs and crappy sci-fi movies I had a number of questions. As he printed some riser blocks for a DJI Phantom I watched intently and talked his ear off. He patiently answered all of my questions, and then told me something that astonished me.

I could get into this hobby for $350.

I always thought that the only 3D printers were thousands of dollars and required an advanced degree in nerdery to maintain and use. Fact is, they are quite inexpensive. As long as you are willing to buy them as a kit, have a hardy amount of mechanical know-how, and are willing to constantly tinker and calibrate it's very accessible.

I won't lie. The reason I purchased this initially was to print parts for my numerous hobbies, but it has grown into more than that. It's now a full fledged hobby.

That said there are several ways to use this tool (read: "toy") to help further my RC flight hobby. For example, tonight I'm going to go home and print off a firewall and some control horns for some new Flite Test planes I'm building.

In conclusion, if you're the type of person who likes to tinker and has a solid mechanical mind, take a look into 3D printers. It's an amazing technology and we have the opportunity to get in right at the cusp of it being a consumer product.

For those of you who don't, try and find a friend with a printer. They are ever so handy.
Posted by Stradawhovious | Mar 31, 2014 @ 08:48 AM | 1,729 Views
Well, I haven't posted here in quite a while because I haven't been flying. I haven't been flying in quite a while because the temperature hasn't been above zero for almost... well... ever.

Yesterday however we caught a break. The temp hit almost 60 degrees so I loaded up the car wtih a couple of FT foamies and headed across the border into Wisconsin. Met up with a buddy loaded his planes into my car, headed to the nearest suitable field and stood there in the constant 15mph wind.

Of course.

Me being the trooper I am I put my Bloody Wonder in the air only to quickly lose control of it, watch it mercilessly get tossed down wind and crash it into a set of bikeracks that make a hilarious mess of my fuse and motor.

No really, it was pretty funny.

While I was licking my wounds a buddy from my 3D printer forum sent a text telling me to meet him in a town about a half hour north of where I was. They were planning on getting their FPV Quads in the air for some fun.

Little did I know that it was a trap.

I got there, and was almost immediately handed a Flite Test FT Flyer. I was very skeptical since the wind was as bad as it was at my previous field but A. it wasn't my plane, and B. they were relentless in their insistance that I get it airborne so off I went to crash yet anoth... wiat a minute... this one is flying. It's not only flying, but it is easily controlable. What gives?

I realize this is a different format, and a more self righting beginner...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Jan 16, 2014 @ 09:52 PM | 2,457 Views
Whether this is news to you or not, Lemon RX has made some much needed and very welcome design changes to their 6ch endpin RX units.

I like Lemon RX. I know some folks don't, and they have their reasons. I like them because they are cheap. Damn cheap. Like $5 each kind of cheap.

Well, that and they work. This last order was for 5 units, (less than $30 after shipping) and all 5 passed a function test with flying colors. Heck, they are even much less finicky than my factory Spektrum RX to bind!

I use these RX in my scratch build foamies and my Super Cub, and have never had a problem. Granted, I wouldn't use one if a very expensive model, but that's OK since I don't have any of those.

On with the upgrades.

Meet the Lemon RX 6ch Endpin RX.



He's a simple tool, not very attractive but very useful. With my past orders this is exactly what was shipped to me. Well, this and a bind plug.

My main concerns with the format at the time were as follows..

1.) the antennae were very flimsy at the solder joint. A few good flexes back and forth would seeming snap the antenna right off. This was due to a tiny solder joint being the only thing holding the wire in place.

How did they fix it?



Visibly larger solder joints, and the addition of what seems to be CA or clear epoxy reinforcing the wire where it joins the board. Now this joint feels very solid. I no longer wince when moving the RX or accidentally bumping up against the antennae.

2.) The...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Dec 02, 2013 @ 08:42 AM | 2,027 Views
Well, for many reasons I have been away from the sticks for a while. First, it's been windy. Damn windy. And cold. One of the last times I tried to get wheels up, it was 20+ MPH winds and 3 degrees (wind-chill of -10). Awesome. That day I did manage to discover a new Micro Brewery that not only had great beer, but offered free bacon... so there's that. Next, I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to sell my house. I spend the last month or so slopping paint, troweling concrete and patching walls for no apparent reason.

At any rate, yesterday I found myself with a completely windless relatively warm (20 degrees) day, so I decided not to let it go to waste.

After getting to the field with a buddy of mine, and firing up a good cigar, I decided to warm up a bit with the modified Super Cub. Good first flights, but there was one curious stall that put me in the middle of a corn field. Not sure what happened, just seemed to lose power and control of the surfaces for a moment. Since there were no subsequent issues, and the plane seemed to be intact with all control surfaces working properly I chalked it up to "dumb thumb" and didn't give it a second though.

Now comes the reason I'm writing this. Yesterday was a milestone for me (yes, noobs have a lot of milestones.). Yesterday was the first successful flight of a scratch build. A couple weeks ago I built the Flite Test "Bloody Wonder". If you aren't familiar with that particular plane, it is...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Oct 15, 2013 @ 08:52 PM | 2,711 Views
So… the Other day I come home to a mystery package. Well not all that much of a mystery, but surprising for how quickly it reached my door. What was inside?

I’m glad you asked.

It was a new landing gear package from Gorilla Bob. This is his XL Gorilla Gear, being developed for FPV if my understanding is correct. Well, I was lucky enough to be able to get my grubby little mitts on a set of this gear and replace the laughable overcooked noodlesque gear that came with my slow stick.



First off, he says this gear is big, and boy he ain't kidding! It seemed a little heavy at first, but to be fair, for how solid this gear is I’m willing to overlook a little weight. It’s so solid in fact, that it would likely take an act of Congress to bend them… provided Congress ever gets back to work.



Assembly was simple. It came with a slew of mounting hardware and two very well fit axles. I’m sure I mounted them incorrectly, but they seem to work just fine. In addition to the very well fit plastic joiner, there is a threaded hole in the gear directly under the fuselage stick, for what I assume would be a set screw, but with how snug the apparatus mounts, there doesn’t seem to be any need for it. Not for my purposes anyways.

...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Oct 14, 2013 @ 11:20 AM | 2,596 Views
Well, I did it again... another perfect day wasted flying model planes.

Wait... did I say wasted? I meant AWESOME.

It started on Saturday with an innocent perusal of Craigslist on the intrawebz. I happened across a for sale post that read the following in the title...

"Hobbyzone Aerobird Extreme - New in box. $20"

Assuming this was a typo I emailed the guy. Turns out it wasn't a typo... and timing is very important. He was indeed selling this Aerobird Xtreme for $20, but it wasn't exactly NIB. He had crashed it and purchased a new wing, v-tail, couple of batteries etc to get it running again, and never got around to it. So technically 66% of this plane was new in package, and only $20. Hell, the price tags on the packages he gave me added up to well over $100, so I figured it was a really good deal, stolen or both. Either way it’s mine now, and the other 25 people that emailed him can just be jealous.

After an hour of "fixing" this hilarious yellow atrocity I set out charging the batteries and getting ready for the next day's flight.

FF to Sunday. 5:30 am I'm out of bet like a shot. I assemble my new plane rack and pack the car. 7:30am I head out to Wisconsin to hit the field. Once there it is perfectly calm, and a beautiful (albeit cold) morning.

First I tried the Aerobird. I powered it up, checked all surfaces (which seemed a little sluggish, but hey... it's a trainer, not a sport plane), pushed it to full...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Oct 01, 2013 @ 03:49 PM | 2,438 Views
To set the scene, it's a lovely Monday night, and I'm up on a ladder, 20 feet off the ground, covered in paint and stucco patch busting my hump trying to get my house ready to sell... when I see him.

Mid 20's, collard shirt, clipboard and credentials on a lanyard.

Soliciting punk: [staring at the “No Soliciting” sign conspicuously displayed on my front door] "Hey there... I was just about to knock on your door. You the king of the castle?"

Me: "No. My wife is. What do you need?"

SP: "Your vote."

M: [on my way down the ladder covered in evidence of messy repairs] "Nah, you need reading lessons. The sign on the door says 'No Soliciting'".

SP: "Yeah, I saw that, but I'm not selling anything."

M: "Well thank God. Prostitution is illegal"

SP: "Huh?"

M: "The only aspect of solicitation that deals with trading services for money, by definition, is prostitution. You AREN'T a prostitute....... are you?"

SP: "Well no, but..."

M: "Then why are you still here?? Go away, and have a good night."

SP: "But I'm not selling anything!"

M: "You've established that. I'm sure your parents are thrilled you haven't succumbed to the world’s oldest profession. Kudos to you. Now take another look at the sign, and go away."

SP: "Wow. You're a jerk."

M: "Yes. I'm also literate, and value my privacy.... and that's two of the defining differences between us."

SP: "Huh?"

M: "Why are you still here?"

SP: [apparently forgetting he just called me a jerk] "We need your vote."

M: "Who do you represent?"

SP: "Why?"

M: "As lf this moment, I'm launching my campaign against him/her."

SP: "Oh... never mind." [scurries away]



People are hilarious.
Posted by Stradawhovious | Sep 27, 2013 @ 09:32 AM | 2,739 Views
I took another trip to Hudson WI the other day, and had three of my planes in tow. The UM T-28, the SS and the Super Cub.

I met up with a buddy and loaded up his foamie L4 Grasshopper and his Eagle 2 and headed to the field.



Now normally I start with the UM T-28, then move to the Slow Stick then go to the Super Cub because I have it in my brain that I still don't know how to fly, and that somehow I will crash the Super Cub if I don't "warm up" first.

Come on.

It's a Super Cub.

So I grew a pair, loaded a battery in the Super Cub and took off for the first flight of the day.

It was all kinds of awesome. Took off, flew some nice wide circles, and landed. It took me quite a while to clean up the grease stain from that landing too.

I know what you're thinking... "Whoopdie crap". Right?

Well, as mundane as that feat sounds, I'm rather proud of it. To me it means I'm learning, and getting better.

The next several flights went just as good, and better. I started in on the touch 'n gos, slow and low passes, loops, flying in figure 8 patterns, stall turns etc. It was kind of awesome. Each time on the landing I hit the center of the runway and had a nice gentle touchdown.

Personally, I think I'm ready for another plane! In the mean time though, I will be modding the SC a bit. I am going to start with adding Ailerons, and flattening the wing. That will be the challenge for next time I fly.

My buddy had a pretty...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Sep 24, 2013 @ 10:05 AM | 2,652 Views
Well my buddy crashed the hell out of his Banana Hobby L4 Grasshopper, and was going to throw it out. It was a wreck. It rained foam and plastic for almost 20 minutes.

Well, maybe not 20 minutes, but it was a mess.

Me being a sucker for punishment decided to try to fix it for him.

Half way through the build I decided that it's not my friend's fault for crashing the plane... it's the fact that the plane didn't have a pilot. Same reason my Taylorcraft crashed.

Since this thing has a cockpit that is reasonable unaccessable after the plane assembled, I had a decision to make before going any further in the repair. I grabbed a dollar bill and headed to the dollar store.



His name is Bill.

Man, the dollar store is really batting .100 when it comes to my pilots!

(don't judge me on the foam around the firewall... Those uneven pieces hadn't been glued in yet when this pic was taken. They are now nice and even. )

(also, don't judge me on the condition of the windshield and the plastic by the cowling. It was completely shattered, and I think I did well with that repair considering the damage done.)
Posted by Stradawhovious | Sep 21, 2013 @ 10:28 AM | 3,019 Views
Well, almost everyone does.

And now Craigslist does too.

I was perusing CL yesterday for a new TX (that I need like herpes) and came across a DX6i with a RX. Now the fact that I already have a DX6i, and the other fact that I REALLY don't need another TX didn't stop me from asking what RX it came with.

Well, the guy responded and offered that it came with an orange rx, but that he had a motor and a few other items from a plane that "was only flown a couple of times" he was selling as well. He said he was getting out of the hobby.

Here are the pics he sent me.





Now, I will let you make up your own mind as to what you think happened, but even though I have no idea what happened in this case I can't help but think of this, that I've seen on the forum oh so many times...

RC Flying Newbie (3 min 36 sec)




I offered him $20 for the crashed EDF motor and bag o' servos.
Posted by Stradawhovious | Sep 18, 2013 @ 10:11 AM | 3,411 Views
I have recently been on the quest for a new pilot for my Taylorcraft. I'm convinced that the reason it crashed in the first place isn't due to my overwhelming lack of ability... it's because the plane didn't have a pilot.

DUH!

Anyways, I had been looking, in vain, for a Hello Kitty pilot, when I ran across this at the local Dollar Store.



What's not to like? He's just like me... Fat, Hawaiian shirt, devastating good looks...

I was sold. The problem is, he isn't "pilot" enough.

I grabbed the materials I had close at hand, and went to work. Those materials were a WWII era Russian ammo pouch (pictured below) a short length of aluminum tubing, a twist tie, and a small wooden dowel.

(ammo pouch)



After gluing my fingers together a few times, watching an episode or two of BattleStar Galactica, and drinking a handful of Whiskey Diets (yeah, I said diet. Wanna fight about it?) Here is the final result. I have yet to name him, so suggestions would be welcomed.

...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Sep 12, 2013 @ 05:32 PM | 3,364 Views
If done correctly, caramel onions are visually indistinguishable from caramel apples to hungry people.

Great for work Pot Lucks and Football parties!




Posted by Stradawhovious | Sep 11, 2013 @ 10:15 PM | 3,183 Views
Well, I got a good case of the "boredoms" tonight, so I decided I would dig into repairing a plane I crashed the snot out of a while ago.

I thought I was good enough to fly it... and apparently I wasn't. I bought it used/crashed and thought I would fix it. Well, I "fixed" it, and "flew" it, only to find out that the term "fix" is relative, and flying doesn't mean much if you can't land.

At any rate, I shattered many parts of the fuse, sheared off the landing gear, and tore up the covering. Luckily, the rear stabilizers and wing were unharmed.

A any rate, here is a pictorial account of the journey to getting this thing air born again.

First off, I decided to repair the fuse's skeleton. There was substantial damage, and it was an interesting endeavor, seeing as it was made from balsa skinned plywood. Being a sucker for punishment, I decided to match it as best I could.

(and yes, I know I can buy a brand new fuse for $70... but what fun is that??)

Here is the damage to the fuse.



The strip of cigar box was from the previous repair. The structural damage is isolated to the outside of the frame, the damage internally is cosmetic, and I'm not going to deal with it since it can't be seen from the outside. The only issue it would present is if I had a heavy pilot in the seats.

I cleaned off the balsa from tis area of the frame, and revealed the ply structure. It was only cracked, so I glued it up, and went...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Sep 10, 2013 @ 10:54 AM | 3,112 Views
If you have some free time and want to have some fun, put on a red collared shirt, some khaki pants and hang around at Target.

When someone mistakes you for an employee, and they WILL mistake you for an employee, act irate and put out. Lots of body language and abrupt movement helps sell your frustration. Then just sit back and enjoy the show.

Repeat as desired.

Tip... If you are having a hard time getting the attention of shoppers, feel free to grab an armful of merchandise, and systematically re-stock it. That will do the trick.
Posted by Stradawhovious | Sep 09, 2013 @ 03:30 PM | 3,425 Views
Ok, so not that big of a deal, but I was a little nervous none the less.

After seeing exactly how (seemingly) useless the Spektrum DX6i's throttle cut button is to planes with electric motors, I decided to do something about it. I went to the LHS and grabbed a single throw switch, and wired it up in place of the throttle cut button.

Now, at the flip of a switch my throttle is deactivated and I don't need to continually hold a button. It will stay cut until I throw the switch back.

For those of you who are aware of what I'm talking about, you can just stop reading here, and realize this is nothing more than a Noob patting himself on the back, basking in the glory of a very mundane task.

For those of you who aren't aware, and would like to know more, read on.

The Spektrum DX6i has a small grey button labeled "throttle cut" that does absolutely nothing.... unless activated in the TX menu. It looks like this.



Once activated on an electric plane, pressing the button will cut the signal from the throttle switch killing the motor regardless of what position the throttle stick is in. Once you let go of the button, the throttle function will resume at wherever you left the stick.

As handy as this feature might be for gas engines (it's my understanding this function is different with Nitro than with electric), it's kind of a PITA for those of us with electric motors who want the motor to stay off until we are ready for it. For me this will be...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Sep 02, 2013 @ 09:59 PM | 3,707 Views
Well, today was a complete success.

For me anyways...

I get a call from my buddy in Hudson WI at about 3:00 (about a half hour drive from me) and he said the wind was dead calm, and I should come out and play.

I packed up all my planes, snuck past the wife and headed out the door.

Upon Arriving in Hudson, my buddy very excitedly rushed me into his garage. "You'll never believe it" he said, and ointed to a strangely familiar Blue and White "Eagle II" on his workbench.

"This is the plane I started 20 years ago when we were in High School!"

It was beautiful. He put a brand new electric power system in it, did a re-shrink on the monocote, installed a new receiver for his DX5e and got it all prettied up.

I have to admit, I never in a million years thought I would see that plane in the air.

Well, at any rate, after wiping my drool off the plane we drove down to the high school where there is a fairly large space for flying. It was a bit windy, so we grabbed the Ultra Micros and warmed up. I've really learned to love some wind and an ulra micro T-28. Hilariously fun. It was only when the wind died down and we decided to grab the rest of the planes out of my car when the doors on the side of the School's Gymnasium flung open and what appeared to be eight-hundred and thirty-two teens in football gear barged out and started running laps around us.

At least the waited until we got ALL our gear unpacked.

After packing up, we certainly weren'...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Aug 30, 2013 @ 08:35 AM | 3,324 Views
Here's a little background.

Two weeks ago I purchased a Hobbyzone SuperCub. I bought the BNF version from my usual local hobby shop for $169 which is what you find them for online, and at Horizon hobby. I was thrilled. Excited to finally have a decent trainer, and get in the air. This shop is nice. Reasonably knowledgable staff, and prices on par with online. They only sell new gear, not wanting to deal with the hassle of used.

Now we look forward to yesterday... I'm driving my kid around, because for his birthday he wants to go to garage sales.

I know, exciting birthday, right? Well, it's a good thing he did.

As we were driving, we passed a store, and my kid says "Wow, look at all the planes! They have some just like yours!" Of course after hearing this my body naturally brings the car to a screeching halt, using the emergency brake to do a 180. We walk in to this run down looking building to find a clean, well lit hobby store with nothing but planes and helicopters both in boxes and hanging from the ceiling.

I'm in awe. It was really strange having this store so close to me (5 miles, which is about half the distance as the other one) and never even having heard of it.

Then it happened...

"Hey Dad, isn't this the plane you just bought?" says my (now) 11 year old pointing to a SuperCub NIB. I said "Yep, sure is." as I looked at the price tag. $169. Just like the other.... er... wait a minute... RTF? $169 for...Continue Reading
Posted by Stradawhovious | Aug 27, 2013 @ 10:07 PM | 3,672 Views
Like the title says... SUCCESS!!!!!

Sort of.

It starts like this... I'm sitting at work with my eye on a weather station about 1/4 mile from my closest flying field.

97 degrees
Sunny
Wind CALM
Feels like...

wait for it...

110.

One Hundred and Ten lovely degrees in 90% humidity. Awesome.

Well, the day slowly passes, and the forecast doesn't change. Well, that's not true... the temp dropped about four degrees, and still the wind only says "Calm"

Fast forward to after dinner. I have an hour and a half before it's too dark to see and a 20 minute drive to the field. I pack up the newly modded SlowStick (ailerons), the newly purchased Super Cub and my 10 year old then headed out the door.

We got to the field and were the only ones there. I was a little dismayed to see that the flags were all standing at attention, but decided to put the planes together, do a range, surface and CG check and wait. Luckily at this time one of the locals named Ron came to chit chat with me and the boy. he was a very nice guy with plenty to talk about. It's nice meeting the guys who frequent the field... they usually have good advice.

When the waiting finally paid off, and the flags movement died to a ripple I sent the Slow Stick up. It was awesome. Flat out awesome. the tail dips a little more on an aileron only turn, but I bet that's where the rudder comes in to play with those "Coordinated Turns" I hear so much about. Certainly...Continue Reading