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DismayingObservation's blog
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 22, 2015 @ 03:37 PM | 1,695 Views
Wouldn't you know it? The battery compartment door for my OrangeRx transmitter seems to be lost forever. I went to the field today (with a couple of planes in tow, natch) so that I could look for it.

No luck.

However, I did happen to see a new FMS P-40 high speed like the one I'd reviewed for this very site! Deja vu! The new owner is still somewhat nervous about flying it, but one of the club's flight instructors was on hand and he declared it to be a blast. This from a guy who was zipping a 150 mph Habu all over the place. I happened to mention that I'd soon be receiving a new FMS Kawasaki Ki-61 High Speed.

When I got home, sure as heck, that new Ki-61 was waiting at the door. Not deja vu, but pretty good prescience, no? This is one highly anticipated model and I'll be giving it the full RCGroups.com review treatment, so please stay tuned!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 21, 2015 @ 11:28 AM | 1,487 Views
Yup, one of those nagging little voices tried to tell me something important and I ignored it.

This past Sunday, I had the Thunder Tiger Bearcat with me along with some other models.

I never really trusted the bizarre factory aileron hinges which consisted of decidedly unsticky clear tape across the tops of the wing and ailerons.

Meh. Should be fine. Checked the controls, lined up for takeoff, gave it the gas...

WHAM.

It came around hard left and crashed into the flight line. Upon removal of the tape, it was barely sticky enough to lift the paint and yes, those horrible quality factory strips were all that were serving as hinges. The motor mount broke, the cowl was crushed, the propeller broken, there were surprisingly few and clean breaks in the fuselage with no crushing and the right horizontal stab was snapped off.

A quick assessment of the damage showed me that it was repairable, so out came the epoxy, CA and paint and an old metal pushrod cut into reinforcement spars when I got home. I was even able to pop the cowl back in place and tape it from inside. I'll replace it soon if Pegasus Hobbies has it in stock. For now, it's doable.

I picked up some E-flite park flyer CA hinges yesterday and I properly hinged the ailerons this morning. I also found that the thin plastic plates atop the ailerons which were supposed to hold the torque rods in place were held down by little more than some weird, brittle glue.

The Testors Insignia Blue Model Master acrylic paint I used is at least a close match to the factory finish, if slightly darker. The prop should arrive at the hobby shop later today. In the meantime, the end result is nicely repaired, cosmetically acceptable and perhaps most importantly, the ailerons are properly hinged with the torque rod plates epoxied in place.

If I'd listened to that nagging voice telling me to re-hinge the ailerons, I would have saved myself from a lot of work.

Now all that's left is to fly it. Properly.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 06, 2015 @ 12:17 AM | 2,085 Views
Today was just one of those days which felt good. I got some stick time this morning with some recent review subjects, namely the HobbyKing DC-3, FMS/Diamond Hobby P-40 and the Nitroplanes Dynam Bf-109.

I think I have the tail wheel situation nearly dialed out on the DC-3. Still a bit wobbly, but taking off with flaps lowered allowed it to track much better. However, the flap switch is in a terrible position above the throttle stick. Trying to raise the flaps nearly caused a crash since I was having to really grope for the switch without taking my hands off of the stick at the same time.

I'll be mixing the flaps and the retracts on the radio before I take it up again.

That P-40 is one screaming fast bit of foam. The batteries are now somewhat seasoned and the punch is just incredible. Chalk up a winner to DIamond Hobby and Predator batteries!

Maybe I'm just spoiled after blasting the P-40 at nearly 100 MPH, but the Bf-109 feels, well, slow. That's with a Master Aircsrew prop on an otherwise stock bird. It flies beautifully and with no bad habits whatsoever. So, the perceived lack of speed isn't a problem. I just have to remember not to fly it after low passes o'er yonder runway at triple-digit speeds with the P-40.

Just got through watching "The Ten Commandments," something of an Easter tradition for my wife and I. Cecil B. DeMille was a genius.

Happy Easter, all. Christmas may get the hype, but this is the holiday which matters most. Back to work tomorrow!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 11, 2015 @ 07:23 PM | 3,619 Views
Success!

My buddy wasn't kidding when he told me that his own Thunder Tiger Bearcat park flyer was a sweetie with brushless power.

I took it with me this past Sunday along with some models I'm reviewing for RCGroups. I needed to get video and I thought this would be the perfect time to fly the Bearcat as well, this time with a computerized radio.

To be sure, it needed trimming, but once trimmed, what a fun and fast little plane. It still wanted to nose over on landing, but that was simply due to the landing gear being bent too far backwards. Once that was fixed, boom. Perfect three-pointers.

Was it worth the money? I think so. I could have saved ten bucks by buying the receiver-ready version, but then, what would I have done without the 27MHz radio system, brushed motor, gearbox and NiMH batteries languishing in a drawer?

If anyone wants the unloved radio and power stuff, please feel free to drop me a PM. It works, it's new but nearly obsolete and I will likely never use it again.

As for the plane itself, well, she's a keeper.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 19, 2015 @ 09:00 PM | 5,049 Views
Well, sorta kinda.

The Thunder Tiger Bearcat park flyer I've been blogging about had, as I suspected, far too much control surface throw and no expo which meant some really gut-wrenching moments after takeoff.

Hoo boy, did it boogie when I settled down on the sticks. Fast, smooth and fun.

In all honesty, I can't help but wonder how many folks might have picked one up as a first plane and who soon discovered that flying it with the supplied radio and power system was unlikely to happen.

Result: Scores of disgusted hobbyists who lost interest in model aviation then and there.

The modified version is a whole 'nother deal.

That little Suppo outrunner pulled it with real authority as a Bearcat should and it glided forever on final approach. The touchy elevator made it difficult to flare and it came down kind of hard, but there was no damage other than a scratched cowl when it nosed over.

I do believe that I'll be flying the whee out of that little sleeper for a long time to come, that is, once I set it up on a computerized radio. The transplant was a raging success!

Now all I have to do is figure out what the heck I'm going to do with the original radio, batteries and motor...anyone?
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 05, 2015 @ 12:53 AM | 5,710 Views
When last we met here on the blogs, I wrote about my attempts to get a new Thunder Tiger Bearcat park flyer airborne.

To wit, a 370 brushed motor, ESC and gearbox, a delicate four-blade propeller and an eight-cell, 600mAh NiMH battery do not make for a rocket. In fact, it made for a model which patently refused to lift off. Good thing I tried an ROG takeoff as opposed to a hand launch. Would have been bad.

That's about to change.

Cap'n Eddy is just about ready to rock. After widening the inside of the wooden gearbox mounting plate with a Dremel, in went the nearly new Suppo 1450Kv brushless outrunner and 18A ESC combo I'd bought at the AMA expo about four years ago. Pegasus Hobbies in Montclair, California sold the Bearcat to me at this year's AMA expo as well as the Thunder Tiger brushless motor mount via mail order.

The Suppo had been languishing in a rebuilt Flyzone Cessna 182 park flyer. That model was at one time another great example of why brushed motors can't compare to brushless.

Once severely underpowered, the Cessna became a lively, fun-to-fly model with one major design flaw: Banking too far - and it didn't take much - would cause the wing to stall and there was no way to get control once that happened. It was flown on another nearly new item, a Tactic TTX404 sport radio and receiver with no means of adjusting the servo end points. I had grown more than tired of fixing or replacing parts.

It's been stripped and the foam components await their ultimate fate out at the recycling bin. Requiescat in pace.

I'm awaiting the arrival of an APC 7x5E propeller at the hobby shop on Friday. I already have some 1000 and 1050mAh 3S li-pos which are a perfect fit and which allow the model to balance properly.

The overall combo is similar in size and power to the Ares Decathlon I'm reviewing for RCG. I'll simply say that the Decathlon is not only fun, it's fast. So too was the Cessna.

Cap'n Eddy is just going to have to wait until the weekend. Stay tuned.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 22, 2015 @ 09:24 PM | 4,778 Views
When in doubt, go to the source.

I bought that little Thunder Tiger Bearcat I've been blogging about from the Pegasus Hobbies booth at the AMA expo. They just put the receiver-ready version on their website, in fact.

Gave 'em a call with the part number...success! My credit card is only eight bucks lighter.

It'll get the Suppo outrunner and ESC I used in my Frankensteinian Flyzone Cessna, now retired after its final crash. For that matter, I got that motor and ESC at the AMA about four years ago and it has very little runtime since that Cessna spent more time tip stalling and crashing than it did flying. It just isn't worth repairing, but it was fun while it lasted.

Oh, and I'll fly it with a computerized spread spectrum radio. 27MHz is so 1990s.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 21, 2015 @ 10:48 AM | 4,137 Views
Well, I did it. I assembled the Thunder Tiger Bearcat park flyer I wrote about in my last entry, charged up the batteries and headed to the field.

My gut feeling was that it wasn't going to have nearly enough power to lift off.

I was right.

It rolled along the runway just inside the safety line and veered off course into the dirt shoulder which caused it to bounce just enough to lift off for a moment before coming down. The tail wheel is fixed in place and there's no rudder, so there wasn't much I could do.

No damage, glad to say. One of the landing gear blocks delaminated (the five-minute epoxy hadn't properly set) and the motor mount popped loose. It had been glued in place at the factory and apparently not too well.

Oh, and one of the prop blades snapped like a twig at the two-piece hub. Meh. It'll get an APC or Master Airscrew prop before long.

The good news is that I have the necessary electrics on hand and a proper 2.4GHz radio. Even better is my having learned that Thunder Tiger has a new distributor in the US. It's located in Utah, but I don't recall the name. I learned that during a phone call to the hobby shop.

They're going to contact that new distributor in the hope of getting the TT brushless motor mount. My contact at the hobby shop has the Rare Bear version and he says it's a superb flyer with a brushless up front.

That'll leave me with the existing electrics including two new NiMh batteries, but I'll find a use - or a home - for them.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 14, 2015 @ 03:19 PM | 4,470 Views
Having the AMA Expo each year here in SoCal makes it worth living here.

Of course, the deals help and do I ever have an unusual one for you...

I picked up a factory sealed Thunder Tiger F6F Bearcat park flyer for fifty bucks, tax included. With a radio. And a battery. And a charger.

Here's the rub: It has a 370 brushed motor with a gear drive, a three-channel 27MHz AM radio, a NiMH battery ( I purchased a second pack from the store itself later that afternoon) and a DC charger.

With a mechanical timer.

It's pretty much ready to fly out of the box save for the horizontal stabilizer, the propeller and whether or not one wants to put it together with extended landing gear for ROG or simulated retracted gear for hand launches and belly landings.

However, the EPS model looks well made as one might expect from TT. There's even famed Ace R/C mascot Cap'n Eddy installed in the cockpit. Not so well made are what passes for aileron hinges. They're little more than shiny strips of 3/4" clear tape across the top of the wing.

Weird, but that's what the manual calls for.

Not that it matters: Hobbico discontinued the Thunder Tiger and Ace R/C brands on December 31, unbeknownst to me until moments ago.

I was considering slapping a brushless motor in place once I had the proper mount in hand. However, I think I'll just enjoy it the way it is.

If it flies well - and I have no reason to believe otherwise - it'll make a fun Saturday flyer over at the nearby grass field.

I'll just have to explain that long, shiny antenna atop the transmitter.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 18, 2014 @ 08:42 PM | 7,578 Views
After solving a few technical issues mostly involved with setup of this model, not to mention moving into a new place, the upcoming reviews of the affordably priced Nitroplanes Pitts Python are moving along. Chief engineer Roland of Nitroplanes is one knowledgeable dude.

Once more, Callie Soden of Callie-graphics.com came through with the decals; the Pitts comes undecorated other than the covering and trim.

The fuselage looked so good after I applied the decals that I had to share it with our audience earlier than normal. These are the photos I sent to Callie this morning just because I wanted to share how nice this model is going to look when it's finished.

Nitroplanes stocks the Pitts right here.

As for other details, well, I don't want to spill too much before the reviews are finished. This'll be done in two separate reviews, one for the basic build and the other for the engine installation and flight characteristics.

Stay tuned to RCGroups!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 03, 2014 @ 08:54 AM | 8,433 Views
...but a welcome pain.

After two months of packing, tossing out stuff and giving away the rest, not to mention the seemingly incessant rounds of paperwork, my wife and I are finally in a new home. This one's ours!

So, once we finally unpack, one of the first things I'm going to do is to build racks for some of the models. One of the bedrooms is now the "hobby room" and I have a place to work on projects and to put up some small foamies. Larger models can be racked up in the garage and let me tell you, I have some plans for that garage.

Now if I can only find the power cord for my charger...
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 06, 2014 @ 06:45 PM | 8,766 Views
Now that I've had some time banging the sticks, I can honestly say I love this little quad! Again, I'm glad I spent the money to get the electronics after I'd gotten a bare frame for review here on the site.

Thanks to my buddy "TheOne420," the low voltage alarm now works, but it comes on a bit too soon. It's good for the batteries, so all is well for now. I'm going to arrange to have him give me a bit more bank and pitch in self-leveling mode; before long, I'll break down and buy the USB cable and download the software. Armattan has an excellent video tutoral on their site dedicated to setting up the Naze Afro Acro board. Like the Naze-equipped CF 258 tricopter, it's a real handful with the self-leveling switched off, quite the opposite of my KK 2.1 quads. The self-leveling practically removes the bank and pitch.

The fun continues!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 20, 2014 @ 01:35 PM | 8,903 Views
Well, I promised a photo in my last blog and I always keep my promises!

To recap, I just completed this very morning what had been nothing more than a frame provided by Chris Leroux at Armattan Quadrocopters for use in a "mini-review" here at RCG. He later sold me the DIY components so that I could complete the model.

The review may be found here for those interested in seeing what I had to start with.

I did a somewhat gentle test flight in the driveway with the self-leveling engaged. Like all of Armattan's designs, the CF 226 with its Naze Afro Acro board flies like the state-of-the-art machine it is.

That frame just beckoned me to hang some electrics on it and I'm honestly glad that I did. It was worth every moment of the work I put into getting it together.

Of course, Chris will gladly sell an RXR or TXR version.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 19, 2014 @ 12:48 PM | 9,140 Views
After spending the past few mornings changing my bare Armattan Quadrocopters CF 226 quadcopter frame from an interesting bit of carbon fiber art to a functional flying machine, I've gained even more respect for Chris Leroux. Chris has to assemble these machines to order and within a certain time frame.

Me? I'm having a blast.

Lots of soldering and desoldering, but as of now, all of the soldering is finished. The power distribution board, the Naze Afro Acro control board and even the battery strap are in place. Checks of each individual motor as if they were airplane motors were A-OK. I no longer have a bare frame but rather a quadcopter which is more than 95 percent complete.

Next stop: Plug-in time!

I'll post photos when it's done.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 10, 2014 @ 06:03 PM | 9,104 Views
Oh, am I ever going to have some fun.

After doing a mini-review of the Armattan Quadrocopters CF 226 mini quadcopter frame, I just had to do it.

Order the electronics, that is. They arrived this morning!

Chris sent me everything - and I do mean everything, including solder! While turning my empty frame into a functional quadcopter isn't too daunting a task per se, it will definitely take time which in turn gives me a whole new appreciation of the work Chris Leroux puts into each of his builds.

Armattan fans and fans of quads in general, I am on the verge of unleashing one seriously fast machine on the unwary.

Stay tuned for updates!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 03, 2014 @ 08:37 AM | 8,939 Views
There was a spam post the other day here on the blogs where some doofus was "selling" a lightly used $90,000 Lexus SUV for only $20,000. I and a few others had some fun with some comments before the post was rightfully delegated to the bit bucket. Won't be long before that same doofus has his account suspended.

The bit bucket has a lot of the most unintentionally hilarious spam posts I've ever seen. Run one's native language through a computer - assuming one has mastery of the language in the first place - and out comes pure weirdness.

As they say in the programming biz: Garbage in, garbage out. I'd like to offer up my own version, namely garbage in, hilarity out.

So, as per my previous blog, I present what seems to be spam for a bodybuilding product.

No spam links, of course. The bold type and some of the spacing are mine.

Remember when lifting weights to end your term with a shoe.

Grab the popcorn!

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...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 30, 2014 @ 08:55 PM | 9,683 Views
Yup, it takes a machine to take whatever language this started as and turn it into something really, really weird.

I was going over some of my old posts to see whether or not I'd missed any responses on various threads and I found the following bit of weirdness in the bit bucket.

I'm reposting it here without the spam links but in bold (so you know it's the spam and not Your Obedient Servant) and with a bit of basic restructuring for your amusement. Ready? Just remember to mix "fruit succus" with "effervescent nutrient."

Here we go.

Maintaining your eudaimonia and upbeat is pretty lyrate, really. Honorable pose that bag of chips with a fabric of product and you're institution loose, hand? Shaft, not quite. If it were that easy, we'd all be thin and active to be 100!
There are galore theories active what constitutes a "perfect" diet. We cerebrate a bully foot for any diet consists of a mix of unfermented, minimally finished foods from all nutrient groups, including insufficient proteins; carbohydrates from impudent fruits, vegetables and complete grain-based breads, cereals, and pastas; and heart-healthy fats much as olive oil, nuts, and avocado. And, fair as key, a sound diet contains tasteful foods you savour.
Tho' every body has antithetic needs, here are several rubicund choices you can easily combine into your rife routines. These lyrate changes can sort a big number over indication.

Veg Out

Aim for at small cardinal servings
...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 08, 2014 @ 09:40 AM | 10,139 Views
One of my favorite sports stars is Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Class act and one deserving of the MVP last night. KD has been a longtime spokesman for Sprint, a company currently airing the most ridiculous, inane and unfunny spots for the "Framily" plan, a word which is equally ridiculous.

I like surrealism, but when a hamster with the voice of Andrew "Dice" Clay is portrayed as the head of a bizarre human family...no.

The one reasonably palatable spot involves KD and...R/C planes!

In a dream sequence, a giant Durant hands a ParkZone UMX P-40 Warhawk to a boy in a treehouse, a model which in the hands of the boy is actually a giant scale version.

So much for trying to explain this. Here's the ad:

KD is Asked to Join the Framily - Sprint TV Commercial Ft Kevin Durant, Judy Greer (0 min 31 sec)

Posted by DismayingObservation | May 01, 2014 @ 10:05 AM | 9,939 Views
Between the wild little Proto X and my larger quads, one former review sample was spending far too much time in the box.

I had the pleasure of reviewing the Walkera Infra X here on RCG on behalf of Nitroplanes.com in November 2013, almost six months to the day from this entry. In what seems to be typical Walkera fashion, the little quad is a mix of affordability, really good ideas and really bizarre engineering shortcuts. The infrared and ultrasonic sensors which are supposed to help the Infra X avoid obstacles simply don't work as well as they should. With the sensors shut off (and they've remained shut off ever since the review), it remains a great flying quad thanks to its six-axis gyro.

In the review, I promised that I'd buy some batteries and last month, I did just that. They're dirt cheap; I don't know why I didn't buy some sooner! I've dusted it off and I've had a great time with it, even indoors. One of the few "unscheduled landings" it's had and which was made shortly after the review was published resulted in a broken landing leg which I repaired with some Pacer Plasti-Zap. Good as new and if need be, I have a spare motor assembly or two on hand. I'm still flying on the original props, for that matter.

As for the sensors, they're still switched off.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 17, 2014 @ 12:25 PM | 10,481 Views
Tell you what: I've had more fun with this $40 gadget than some of my models costing ten times that much.

All is not unicorns and rainbows, but the bad stuff isn't bad at all.

My first Proto X coughed up its motherboard less than a week after I'd bought it. No need to return it, said Hobbico. A brand new unit arrived less than a week later.

One new Proto X meant that the faulty Proto X now equalled a bunch of spare parts!

I liked mine so much that my wife and I got our adult son a Proto X of his own for Christmas and he loved the heck out of it until one of the motors started acting up. Since he doesn't have soldering equipment and I do, I offered to fix it.

Out came one of the motors from the original unit and onto my son's Proto X it went.

Success! It flies like new, if not better.

Less than a week later, my replacement Proto X started exhibiting many of the same symptoms after heaven knows how many flights. Same deal. Out came a motor from the faulty unit to be remounted on the good one.

Again, success! Between that motor swap and an earlier battery replacement with one from Common Sense RC, my own Proto X is going to be flying for a long time to come.

I really like the thought of having repaired two units for a total cash outlay of zilch.