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DismayingObservation's blog
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 09, 2008 @ 06:45 PM | 2,991 Views
It's almost an anti-climax to report that Project Zero 2.0 is alive and well. It's back together and went up on a test flight yesterday. It flew great, but it had a real tendency to want to roll left, requiring a lot of right aileron trim. Once trimmed, it flew like new. Engine was running lean, so I brought it in, albeit with a somewhat too-fast idle. No problem; floated in like a butterfly, but boy, were those ailerons tweaked. The culprit was the receiver battery which had come loose and was likely affecting the lateral balance. If necessary, it would be easy to add a bit of right thrust. And to think I almost wrote it off!

I had another idea...

Back in December, I was given an old 40-sized Global Hobby Raven stunt plane which our club treasurer had assembled from a kit a number of years ago. Couldn't even sell the thing for five bucks at the club swap meet and he insisted that I take it or it would wind up stomped and trashed. It's a complete airframe which needs, as I recall, only some minor work on the servo tray.

Here's my thought:

I have a nearly new O.S. LA 65 which I bought attached to a well-worn Great Planes Cessna 40. Price: Fifty bucks, including an obsolete Futaba radio. The Cessna has three Futaba servos in the fuselage; I have a fourth.

All I would need to purchase would be a prop, spinner and assorted hardware and I can put that Raven back in the air with a honking, screaming .65 up front. I even have a new DU-BRO fuel tank of the proper size.

I was saving the O.S. for a big warbird, but this might be a fun way to use it for the time being. Of course, balancing the thing is an issue, but it's nothing a bit of weight on the tail wouldn't take care of if necessary.

Definitely doing pictures.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 05, 2008 @ 07:58 PM | 5,887 Views
Project Zero 2.0 is complete except for a new receiver switch. That doggone horizontal stab is, quite frankly, ugly. No way to take the entire thing off and recover it. It's glued in too well...and I don't have nor can I get covering to match...which is painted. However, the engine starts and runs fine. Besides, Zeroes are suppsed to be kind of ugly. My only concern is that the stab stays together. Looks as if it will.

The VQ Model P-51D Mustang whose article is getting lots of hits over at RC Power flamed out on takeoff the other day. I was able to bring it in OK past the runway, but one of the wire landing gear struts bent and the other rotated in the socket. No damage, but I needed to clean a lot of yellow pollen off the thing. It landed in a bush full of wildflowers! I've dusted off the pollen and wiped everything down, but I'll need to fix the gear and pull the cowl to see what's up. It had flamed out earlier when the muffler came loose in flight, so I'm thinking bad muffler gasket.

Making slow but steady progress on the Align Spitfire 400 which crashed on its maiden. The new Great Planes retracts are fitted and ready to be connected once I shorten the pushrods. I also discovered that the Cirrus rudder servo has stripped gears. Gonna have to go through Hobby People for a new set.

Need just one more part get the HPI Savage 25 back to desert-tearing status.

Ah, the fun of running but the woes of repairing!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 27, 2008 @ 07:16 PM | 3,325 Views
Or not.

Since my latest review is now up over at RC Power and garnering interest, I thought I'd take the subject of the review for a ride.

I think that club is cursed.

I forgot the ignitor that plugs into the power panel and I had to borrow one to start the engine. Unfortunately, its owner had to leave, in turn leaving me to try and use the half-dead ni-cad ignitor I had on hand.

Sputter...sputter...die. Repeat until battery dies for good. It just wasn't lighting up the plug enough to help it start and it was a brand new, previously unused plug to boot.

When it did run, the right landing gear kept collapsing. Wouldn't lock all the way.

Off came the wing. Several times. Finally got the pushrod working right.

Except the ignitor was totally kaput by then.

Looking on the bright side, I tried to start the engine with the power panel ignitor when I got home...zoom! Started strong, stayed running strong.

Too bad it was in my driveway at the time...
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 24, 2008 @ 07:10 PM | 3,428 Views
Tell you what: Had I known this was going to be so relatively simple, I probably wouldn't have bothered all of you with progress reports.

I'm pleased to say that I'm down to the nitty-gritty. Here's what's been done since my last update:

*Crud emptied frrom the inside of the wing.

*Holes in the wing patched and painted. Not quite true olive drab as it turns out (too much green in the original paint), but I'll try and match it later.

*New gears in the stripped Hitec HS-81 aileron servo.

*Ailerons realigned.

*Forward wing locator tab epoxied in place. Owner of the LHS suggested that I reattach rather than replace the tab since the epoxy would be stronger than the surrounding wood. He was right.

*Engine cleaned out as a precaution since there was sand stuck in the carb's intake. Off came the carb, in went some nitro engine spray. All was nice and clean. Reset the throttle cable as well.

*Original covering on the underside of the fuselage at the firewall epoxied in place over the trim tape I'd used to replace it in the first place. Went back on nice.

*Replaced 3x25 wing hold-down bolts (one was bent in the crash) with beefier 6/32x1 socket head bolts and #6 blind nuts. The blind nuts were a perfect fit, but I'll have to buy a 5/64 socket driver. HIGHLY recommended upgrade.

*The cowl is filled, sanded and ready for a coat of dope.

All that's left is to dope the cowl, reinstall the fuel tank, test the engine, resolder the antenna lead on the receiver (it snapped in two a couple of inches up from the receiver case) and test fly the little monster. Should be soon.

Pix on the way!

UPDATE: The fuel tank's in and the new prop is going on in a moment so that I can check the engine. Found an unforseen but minor problem: The power switch for the receiver is kaput. If I hook the battery directly to the receiver, all is well. Going through the switch gets me zilch.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 22, 2008 @ 02:35 PM | 3,604 Views
Wow...more than 2200 hits to my original posting! Thanks for your interest!

In any event, things are going exceedingly well. The fuselage is, for all intents and purposes, complete. The broken horizontal stab went back on with CA, but it's a tiny bit misaligned at one of the glue joints. Overall, it's nice and level.

This will cost me practically nothing money-wise. All I had to buy were a new prop, a new spinner and a set of servo gears. I already had the adhesives on hand.

I didn't take photos of the firewall before I reattached it. Other than that, here are a few "before" photos of what I'm up against. Thankfully, it isn't much.

Besides, I feel it's my duty to save this model. It is, after all, a part of RC Power and therefore a part of this site. Gotta keep our history intact!...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 21, 2008 @ 09:56 AM | 5,124 Views
I'd become active on these boards last spring when I thought I'd share the progress of the repairs I'd be doing to a mildly crash-damaged Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25. The repairs were a success, but my choice of too small a receiver battery meant a loss of control and a crash which totalled it for good. I liked it so well that I bought another which subsequently became my first review for RC Power.

Sadly, this newer plane suffered much the same fate the other day due to a reversed elevator control. Entirely my fault. It's crash-damaged all right, but it came in flat and in soft desert sand.

Both Raiden Tech and Nitro Models are sold out of the Zero (could my review have anything to do with it?) and after assessing the damage to mine, I've decided to fix it and share once again the progress I hope to make.

Here's what I'm up against starting with the fuselage:

*Separation of the firewall and engine from the fuselage along with some of the surrounding balsa; it wasn't glued in well at the factory in the first place

*Clean break of the right half of the vertical stab at the empannage

*Damage to the servo tray

*The rear wing hold-down popped off as a unit with the wing itself

As far as the wing is concerned:

*Small gouges in the covering on the top side

*Stripped gears in the left aileron servo

*Entire LE is scuffed (nothing I can do about that)

*Some sand and/or pieces of the internal structure are rattling around inside

*Locator tab...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 20, 2008 @ 12:48 AM | 3,209 Views
Good news: Some minor tweaking to the Zero's rudder eliminated the ground wobble. Most of it was due to a slightly loose control horn.

Bad news: I'd forgotten that I'd reversed the elevator control at the transmitter, so it tried to nose down instead of up on takeoff.

So, what did I do? Right! Instinct took over and I went the other way on the stick, but just a bit too far and she took off.

Frankly, I wasn't sure if I had reversed the ailerons as well as the elevator The result, however, was pretty much what you'd expect.

Second crash in four days. Three altogether in the last two weeks; four if you count the Blade CP.

Like all of you, I pride myself on my piloting skills and I rarely damage a plane. It had been more than a year since I last got a case of "dumb thumbs" and totalled a model. Believe me, there's been a lot of flying during that ensuing year.

However, like the crashes before it, this is fixable. It isn't close to being a total loss and I am not in the mood to line Raiden Tech's pockets with more of my money.

Always cheaper to fix rather than replace, I always say.

"Project Zero 2.0" is on the way.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 17, 2008 @ 10:44 PM | 3,240 Views
...when nothing seems to go right. I refer to yesterday.

Brought the Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25 to the field yesterday along with my little .25-powered combat plane. Despite the assembly problems which I had with the Zero (which are outlined in an RC Power product review), it is one sweet airplane and plenty fast to boot. Takeoffs and landings have always been a breeze. In fact, it's one of the easiest planes to land I've ever owned.

I tried swapping a pair of 2" DU-BRO rubber wheels which I had on hand in place of the stock foam wheels to see if it would handle better on the ground.


Despite removing, bending and rebending the struts (which are made of K&S 1/8" music wire), I couldn't keep the thing from either torque rolling left on takeoff, pitching forward on its nose or both. A quick check of the CG showed all was well. Still, it wouldn't handle properly no matter what I did.

I even went one better when trying to straddle the fuselage ahead of the elevator in order to set the high end: I kicked the tail nearly clean off!

My flying buddy who was helping me through all of this provided the CA and kicker.

Landings were just as bad, with the tendency to want to nose over and/or shoot off into the dirt. I chewed up the tips of the original prop and put the very first scrape on the chin of the cowl, this after more than thirty successful flights to this point.

Thought I'd try the combat plane to which I'd added...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 31, 2008 @ 05:45 PM | 3,230 Views
A few blogs and a couple of product reviews ago, I really went off regarding the horrid lack of customer support I'd experienced from an internet hobby distributor.

This is why my future purchases will be made through folks like Orange County, California's own Global Hobby.

Had a problem earlier today with a damaged part on a Global plane which, quite frankly, had no reason to break.

A couple of e-mails later, I was asked to send the broken part in exchange for a replacement. No muss, no fuss. Just great customer service guaranteed to create repeat business.

If you're thinking that a company like this just replaces little inexpensive geegaws, please read on.

A buddy at the field told me of his experience with a four-stroke Magnum engine which he'd purchased years ago.

The engine was sent back twice for rebuilding as it began to wear. Both times it was rebuilt. For free.

Sure enough, it was due for another overhaul and Global said, send it in.

This time, he didn't hear back right away as had been the case each time the engine was received and repaired. Also, no engine in his mailbox. So, he got on the phone to the tech department.

The tech apologized profusely for the delay, saying that his particular engine was no longer in production and that the tech who could have gotten it running was out due to illness.

Would it be OK with him if they sent him a new Magnum .91 four-stroke instead...?

True story, so help me.

As I pointed out in that long-ago blog, stick with the names you know and the distributors who stand behind them. The fly-by-nights (like that certain distributor in Industry, California who doesn't supply spare parts at all) may never disappear entirely. That doesn't mean you have to support them.

On the other hand, I encourage you to support those in the hobby business who do support we who participate in the hobby itself.

There's no better way to ensure they'll be there for you when you need them.

Thanks, Global.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 24, 2008 @ 08:59 PM | 3,425 Views
A little bit of work, a lot of help from other users on this site and voila! The retracts on the Align Spitfire now work!

Oh, but are they ever fast.

Leave it up to this site's users to come up with a solution.

I have a servo rate reducer on order which will reduce the transit time from "blink of an eye" down to about two seconds.

I think I like this plane.

Be right back...

...ah, now where was I?

Regarding the "ramblings," kindly do stay tuned to the RC Power segment of our beloved site for a review of a seriously fun, fast and fabulous plane. VQ Model has a winner in their 40-sized P-51D, available in something like four different trim schemes thanks to printed vinyl graphics. I sure had my issues regarding the optional retracts, but I kept at it and they at least work to my satisfaction.

This little birdie screams like an eagle on an Evolution 46, an 11x7 Master Airscrew prop and a Bisson Pitts muffler.

Frankly, I can't wait to fly it again.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 21, 2008 @ 01:14 AM | 3,414 Views
Or not.

Darned if I'm not having another hard time, this time with the little Align Spitfire 400 I picked up last week at the AMA; please see my previous blog.

For one, the plastic they used for the retracts looks and feels downright cheap. Wound up breaking one, but I was able to fix it.

Also, the recommended servo size is too tall. The wing itself interferes with it. So, unless I get a shorter servo, it looks as if I'll be doing some surgery.

I may have a line on a better fittng servo, but according to the thread, using that JR 241 servo still means surgery on the wing. You can follow or participate in the discussion at:

Manufacturers, I will ask you once more on everyone's behalf: Check your documentation. Build a production unit. See if there are any glitches in the instructions and I can tell you that yes, there are some glitches in this manual. Don't just give me a servo weight of nine grams. Give me the dimensions of the servo YOU used to make the system work, or please don't add bells and whistles which add to the cost, complication and ultimate frustration. Make sure it all fits together. Then, and only then, ship 'em out. The extra mile you go to make your product better makes you look good and brings repeat business to your doorstep.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 13, 2008 @ 03:14 AM | 3,988 Views
I had me a genuine blast at day two of the AMA. Thought I'd share the experience before hitting the hay.

Wouldn't you know I'd forget my doggoned camera.

That being said, the eye candy was incredible. On display and/or purchase were everything from folding indoor IR controlled flyers in their own aluminum carry case to a 1/2 scale Cub and Extra. Jets? More than I could count. Batteries of every description. Radios, helicopters, tools, lighting systems and even an interactive boat exhibit as well as a chance for little ones to enjoy running Traxxas Rustlers around a track. Also helping keep the youngsters entertained was an in indoor free flight area and a free model rocketry clinic in which participants could build their own rocket. Way too cool.

For the horse traders among those attending, the "swap shop" had such goodies as vintage model aircraft magazines, vintage gas engines, vintage tether cars and some insane deals on good, used stuff. Almost picked up a nice Thunder Tiger 42 with plenty of compression. Asking price: $30. I also came close to picking up an incomplete E-flite P-47D Thunderbolt 400 with a brand new, uninstalled horizontal stab for only $20. Wound up with a new 2100 mAh Ni-Mh transmitter battery for less than I would have had to pay to replace the original 600 mAh Ni-Cd. The big catch of the day was a brand new Align Spitfire 400 park flyer with a painted fiberglass fuse and balsa/ply wing and stab for $70. It retails...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 11, 2008 @ 05:52 PM | 5,061 Views
I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. Ontario is a little more than an hour from my house. I've never been to an AMA convention and I kick myself each year when I see what kind of loot my buddies bring back.

Tomorrow dawns a new era!

To other matters, the new retract servo for the VQ P-51 arrived yesterday. It's a top-of-the-line Airtronics and if this servo doesn't raise those retracts, nothing will.

I'll have the additional advantage of being able to talk face-to-face with the man who made the model available for review.

This is going to be fun.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 08, 2008 @ 01:31 PM | 3,611 Views
The new retract servo for the VQ P-51 should be here by the end of the week and, weather permitting, will be flown this weekend.

That is, of course, if I don't go to the AMA convention in Ontario.

Which I likely will.

Enjoy some beauty shots in the meantime.

PS: Note that the landing struts are mounted backwards. That was how they were shown on the box; no installation instructions given. They've since been swapped from side to side. All better.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 01, 2008 @ 06:56 PM | 3,553 Views
In an earlier entry, I mentioned how I was going to write to Model Aviation regarding a comment by some guy who claims that ARF and RTF pilots are "lazy." Worse, the January issue has a poem, of all things, by a woman who flies free flight and disdains radio control. That was the last straw. You'll find it on page 146, by the way.

In the meantime, feel free to enjoy the letter I just sent MA's editor:

"When I read the letter from Norman Weiler in the November '07 'Aero Mail' section, I saw red. Mr. Weiler, it seems, is of the opinion that those who purchase ARF and RTF models would 'rather bore holes in the sky than put any effort into the hobby.' He concludes: 'Most are just lazy.' Especially ironic was Bob Hunt's 'Modeling Spoken Here' column on the preceding page which sang the praises of such models.

"Mr. Weiler, while your geographic location of Lansing, Michigan likely precludes you from doing any flying during the winter months, let me assure you that those of us who got started on the models you so disdain have increased their flying skills logarithmically thanks to planes such as these and insulting a vast number of modelers with your elitism is uncalled for. I've gone from a two-channel HobbyZone Firebird Commander to three glow-powered planes (a large .25 warbird, a .25 combat plane and a .46 warbird), two high-performance electric park flyers (a scale foam warbird and a balsa/ply 3D stunt plane), two relatively docile foam...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 23, 2007 @ 09:52 PM | 3,317 Views
The more I get to work with the folks from some of these great hobby companies for the author's forum, the more convinced I am that they have the greatest gig in the world.

I'll be working directly with one of those company reps and together we plan to iron out the kinks in the documentation of my current project for the authors' group.

I think I may have come off too harsh in my assessment of a model's hardware in my previous blog, especially after reading the blog of the gentleman in question who supplied me with the plane in the first place. He's been to factories all over Asia and seen first-hand the real craftsmanship and care that go into these ARFs of ours. The factories are clean and orderly, the employees well-compensated.

As Vietnam grows in stature as a producer of goods, so too will issues like the ones I've had with hardware disappear. Buy with confidence in the meantime and if you have to spend a few extra bucks on hardware, so be it.

In any event, it's my pleasure to continue to work out these minor issues now so that you won't have to later.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 17, 2007 @ 10:38 AM | 3,161 Views
Friends, stay tuned to either RC Power and/or The E Zone for my first of two new reviews, this one being a terrific new 41" electric Yak 54 from Carl Goldberg. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Still having issues with the VQ P-51, all of which could have been avoided either with better documentation or better hardware. However, that's the point of these reviews. I run into the problems, the distributor and I work 'em out. Badda bing!

On the bright side: Hardware isn't expensive, the distributor has taken genuine interest in working with the factory to correct the problems and best of all, this plane is going to look stunning in the air. That is, once I get it there.

Stay tuned to our magazines!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 11, 2007 @ 09:18 PM | 3,287 Views
Wow, have I been busy!

I have not just one plane to review. I have two. In the interest of expediency, I've been working like the proverbial one-armed paper hanger to get these birds ready.

Bird number one, a hitherto unknown Carl Goldberg Yak 54 electric, shall take to the air on Thursday.

Bird number two, a VQ Model P-51 Mustang 40, is nearly finished. That plane's had a few assembly and hardware issues, but they're pretty much sorted out. I predict that Vietnam will soon be an RTF force to be reckoned with once they address some minor problems.

I haven't written Model Aviation yet regarding a letter that someone wrote regarding the laziness of those who assemble ARFs, one page over from an op-ed praising the proliferation of these models which have allowed those without the room or the time to build a kit or scratchbuilt to hone their piloting skills.

Frankly, this guy has insulted a whole lot of us and I'm calling him on it.

I've learned to fly in record time on RTFs and ARFs. I also happen to have a kit waiting in the wings; I can't wait to start in on it. For that matter, I have two assembled kits in need of repair (see my previous entry) which will require the same modeling skills a kit does. This will be a fun part of the hobby that everyone should try.

That is, if they have the room and the time.

Doesn't sound like laziness to me.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 03, 2007 @ 07:23 PM | 3,152 Views
I can't help it, I tell you. I have a soft spot for old stuff with some life left in it. One of these days, I'll talk about the mangled 1900 Conn cornet my musical instrument technician friend and I bought back from the dead a few years ago.

Yesterday, our flying club had a really fun R/C swap meet. I bought a few small items to sell and I actually did sell some stuff. Bought a few small items as well, so I broke even financially.

As the event wrapped up, the club's VP asked if I wanted a plane he couldn't even get five bucks for. It's an old Global Hobby Raven 40 profiler that he built from a kit. Except for a bad case of "garage grunge," it's all there less radio and engine. Pushrods, clevises, everything including a 1998 AMA membership decal. I even have a brand-new 8 oz. DU-BRO fuel tank which I was trying to sell, but I'm glad I didn't since that is precisely the tank this model calls for.

If I didn't take it, it would have been off to the stomping pile just before it would have hit the trash can.

Not good. The stuff that did get stomped was crashed beyond repair. Not this little 3D. There simply isn't anything wrong with it beyond a slightly damaged rudder servo box.

The other wayward (or is that "wayweird?") orphan is a Piper Cub 40 which was also a kit build. Again, pretty much all there except for one missing wing strut, one broken wing strut, the landing gear and some torn covering.

I would have passed it up and...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 22, 2007 @ 10:47 AM | 3,529 Views
I think the worst may be just about over where the VQ Model P-51D is concerned.

The basic assembly instructions are fine, but the retracts with the optional spring-loaded struts were a nightmare.

Three reasons.

One, too much preassembly on the part of the factory. The wing halves came with the wheel wells preinstalled. Leaving them in meant interference problems with the optional spring-loaded retracts as well as making it impossible to install the pushrods regardless of whether or not you pop for the spring-loadeds. Interference wouldn't have been a problem if I hadn't already cut the existing struts to use as stubs on which to attach the spring-loaded ones. Removing the covers nearly resulted in damaged covering and a damaged wing.

Two, no instructions whatsoever on how to install the spring-loaded struts. None. The distributor contacted the factory; it seems they were aware of the oversight. The only other online instructions I found for installing the spring-loaded units involved major cutting, drilling and tapping. Thankfully, the actual solution is considerably less involved.

Three, the pushrods themselves. I don't mind having to bend my own, but the given dimensions were wrong. Not only that, there were no full-scale drawings to refer to other than split drawings showing the necessary bends at either end.

As far as the covers were concerned, I trimmed off the perimeters and tacked them back on with contact cement to hide the damage. I'...Continue Reading