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Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 02, 2007 @ 09:50 PM | 3,419 Views
There are those among us who seem to think a model aircraft is a toy. Sure, it's a diversion to an adult or young person much like a toy is to a child, but "toy?"

Toys don't julienne your hands if you contact a moving propeller. Nor do they set you back several hundred hard-earned monetary units in the event of an "unscheduled landing."

My boss, bless him because I really do love the guy, told me of a meeting he had earlier today with a marketing group. His mission: Tell the group about some of his employees. I was described to this august body (affectionately, I might add) as a "big kid" who "plays with those motorized planes like the kids do."

Did I mention that one of his hobbies is trying to get under my skin? He does it well.

His cousin, who co-owns the company, is the opposite. He's fascinated by R/C planes and is looking to get into the hobby. He and his parents have been to the field; his dad flew a Liberator in the war.

In any event, my boss likes golf and tennis. I give as good as I get...why, I ask, does he spend his precious free time hitting a ball with a stick?

Isn't that what KIDS do...?

I'm such a rat.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 01, 2007 @ 03:30 PM | 3,514 Views
Not me. Spammers. I reported three of 'em. Our ever-vigilant admins clobbered all three.

How dumb do these people think we are?

Sadly, there are those who'll answer ads like the ones these idiots posted. I prefer to think that if we have the time, money and discipline to pursue a hobby in radio control, we're more likely to recognize spam for what it is, ignore the links and holler at the admins. They respond in record time, I might add.

One of those spammers was a hoot. "He" was making like a "she." I also prefer to think that women have better things to do than to go link spamming. "Her" first (and last) post was along the lines of, "Hi! I'm new here! I like fashion, shopping, what about u? And oh, my mom buys me laptop batteries from (insert spamlinks here). I'm told that these are 38% off for the Thanksgiving Day!"

The Thanksgiving Day?

Such a generous mother, too. Even my dear mother isn't that generous. Actually, she is. She just hates computers.

You blew it, sweetie. I never answer spam unless I'm promised at least 40% off.

I wonder if she'll follow my suggestion and hook up a li-po to an automotive battery charger.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 01, 2007 @ 02:52 AM | 3,275 Views
At least it was for me earlier today.

Our club president has started an aerial photography business. His platform is a massive gasoline-powered 26cc Century helicopter which will easily lift fifteen pounds. Or if you prefer, seven kilograms.

President, chopper and professional grade camera platform were all present and accounted for at the field this morning. The equipment has been present quite a bit, in fact. That's because "Da Prez" has been doing a lot of flight practice with and without the platform.

He had set up the platform with a Nikon digital SLR instead of the usual Panasonic digital camcorder. The platform, which operates from its own discrete radio control system, uses an ordinary Hitec mini-servo and servo arm to sweep in and engage the shutter via a spare channel. Tilting the camera corresponded to the throttle; panning the camera corresponded to the ailerons.

Wouldn't you know it. I got tapped for duty to operate the platform while the helicopter was in hover. Oh, darn.

I'm fortunate and very blessed to work in radio broadcasting, but the emphasis of my broadcasting education was in video production. Couple that love of playing with TV cameras with a love of R/C flight and you'd better believe I was in heaven.

Not only did the setup work, it worked perfectly. No blurring, no glitches. While the tilt function just affected the camera, panning actually rotated the entire platform beneath the 'copter. That was a possible bone of contention, but as it turned out, it didn't affect flight in the least. A lot of the credit goes to the inherent stability of that Century, but the rest goes to the amazing helium-suspended gyro which flawlessly kept that platform in check. Simply amazing and I'll post pictures soon.

The best part? I may be "assistant cameraman" as his business grows. Video production will be a real blast with its 2.4 GHz monitoring downlink. Talk about "eye in the sky!"

As I posted in a previous blog: I dig this hobby.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 25, 2007 @ 10:25 PM | 3,175 Views
Wow, am I ever grateful for all of the hits my article on the Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25 over at "RC Power Magazine" has received! Thanks, all. I sure do hope it'll be of help.

I'm up to ten flights and all is well. The only weak spot is the landing gear. The wire is way too soft. Even the gentlest landings bend 'em up, popping off the decorative covers and basically making the plane a bit pigeon-toed on its way back to the taxiway.

Some 1/8" piano wire is about to be procured and worked.

Do follow the build thread another user had left in the comment section. Apparently, not all of Raiden Technology's models are the clear-cut bargain this one is. If anything happens to this model, I might even soften my stance against the company's lack of parts support and customer service and order up antoher one.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 13, 2007 @ 02:53 AM | 3,525 Views
UPDATE BELOW! Too funny. Do read on.

I promise: No more after this. You can call me on it if I do, OK? I'm only ranting since it's somewhat relevant to the hobby of R/C.

So here I was, giving my one more try, um, one more try. Frankly, I'm fresh out of ideas for new content and playing "whack-a-mole" with vandals, spammers and the generally clueless gets tiring.

I'd seen a newspaper article not long ago on a historic toy store-cum-hobby shop here in the Palm Springs area. The Palm Springs Historical Society was actually giving out authentic samples of the store's very distinctive wrapping paper which they'd acquired from the original owner of the store.

I found the article archived online. The notability factor sure looked like it met standards. Thought it might link nicely to the Riverside County category.

No sooner had I finished the article than WHAM! An editor whacked it with a deletion proposal tag.

I saw red. Big time. In fact, I had the closest thing to a cyber-hissy fit one can have. I'll leave out the details.

To make a long story even longer, the subsequent deletion discussion is now roughly three times the length of the original article which took less than ten minutes to bang out in the first place.

Has any good come out of all this, you might ask? Yes and no.

The no: I just stressed out over a little "stub article" that wouldn't pass muster in an eighth-grade composition class, it was so...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 12, 2007 @ 08:15 PM | 3,533 Views
...but my HPI Savage needs tranny work. Again. My fault.

The centrifugal device that holds the two-speed gear cluster together and allows it to shift up and down is factory calibrated based on RPMs. There's no rough baseline, say two turns in. Adjusting it too far inward will squash the little coil spring that makes it happen. Surprisingly delicate part for such a brutal machine.

I squashed the whee out of mine when I cinched the bolt all the way down, thinking all the while I was tightening the retaining bolt.

Needless to say, the thing doesn't shift. Out the tranny must come.

A new retainer is on order. Another eight bucks goes bye-bye. Oh, well.

However, the high winds that are currently plaguing my part of the world weren't bad this morning, so up went the Zero for flight number four. A couple of flying buddies were there who fly considerably larger birds; they were impressed. One of them might be getting one for himself. He plans to stuff a .28 in it and go dogfighting.

I dig this hobby.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 06, 2007 @ 03:36 AM | 3,199 Views
I must be nuts.

I gave Wikipedia another go.

Now I'm questioning my sanity.

I did some good edits including a few on R/C topics of which there are few. I'm the one who added most of them over the last few years. However, I have low tolerance for vandals and they're worse than ever. Nearly 100 percent of new users add pure nonsense and get their yuks contesting the deletion of their idiocy. Teens and preteens posting insult pages, college students who can't spell adding nonsense, spam...the list goes on. No wonder the academic world thinks it's useless. Frankly, I have no tolerance for people screwing up a good resource which is what these idiots are doing and over which I can't seem to break away. If this is what it's like to be really addicted to something negative, patrolling new pages on Wikipedia sure does qualify. I believe I have a level of integrity. I research my subjects and either write from scratch or add facts. Sometimes I'm wrong and I either correct myself or another editor catches the error.

If you want to absolutely howl with laughter, go to and search for Wikipedia.

I quit nineteen months ago and returned for a brief period between September '06 and January '07. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it isn't going to fix that site. So, if you please, exit stage right, quietly and with no fanfare or page blanking.

I'll just rant here and continue to try and put a smile on your face and info in your head, on a site dedicated to a single subject we all love. In fact, my new article on my new plane has nearly 160 hits and it's not even available yet for public view.

Viva RC Groups!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 04, 2007 @ 07:17 PM | 3,193 Views
Now that cooler weather is returning to my corner of the world, so too are the seasonal visitors. Who'd a-thunk the club would be as busy as it was on a Thursday morning?

But I digress. Lots of great planes out there today and lots of great flying. One poor fellow on a buddy box got a bit discombobulated and did the proverbial unscheduled landing with his Sig Kadet. Glad to say it'll be OK, but it's going to need some surgery up front.

The club president is starting an R/C aerial photography business and he brought out his big, mean Century helicopter with its 26cc gasoline two-stroke. Doggone thing looked lethal, but it hovered as nice as you please. I wouldn't have minded some stick time on his 14VZ, let me tell you.

Ah, but that new Zero. How I wish that Raiden Tech stood behind their product. This thing is a ball, plain and simple. For eighty bucks, it's a steal. However, no parts support on their end means no financial support on mine.

I managed to sort out a minor fuel problem on the bench; the inverted cylinder made idling difficult. Took the advice of Da Prez and ran a looped line to the carb to increase the siphon effect. Bingo! The idle was perfect with near-zero thrust.

One thing's for sure, though. I'm taking it real easy with this bird and I'm not letting it get too far from me, a tall order considering how fast it is even with a .25 under the cowl. That olive drab and light grey camo works as it should. Too well. Even with its 49" wingspan and my 20/15 eyesight, it got hard to see real fast. A bit scary taking it out far. So, future runs will be made a bit closer to the flight deck.

We're under a wind advisory...grounded until Sunday at the very least.

There's always the RealFlight sim.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 03, 2007 @ 06:40 PM | 3,187 Views
Well, my very first review is done! The article has been "promoted," as it were. However, I seem to be having trouble formatting it for photos, so an admin with deep access to the site is going to give it a once-over and then release it for public consumption.

Darned if I didn't get the HPI Savage back together and running, but it'll have to come apart again. If you own a Savage, you know that a transmission removal means taking half the chassis apart.

The tranny works insofar as it gets power to the ground, but it won't shift. Adjusting the shift point engages either high or low. Ergo, it either bogs down like a salted slug off the line or it leaves the line hard and fast and basically goes not much of anywhere after that. The internal clutch retainer ring(?) is factory assembled and calibrated. It's only eight bucks, but it means excising the tranny yet again. I can take the time to double-check my assembly and make sure that I didn't goof. Next time I need to overhaul the transmission will likely mean that I'll try out the available three-speed. From what I understand, it's reasonably priced and greatly improves the top end. Yeah, like it isn't fast enough already with a Wasp 28!

The "weather guessers" predict windy days ahead, so I might not be able to scratch my R/C itch. Nuts. I just did some mechanical and electronic adjustments on the Blade CP and it flies almost as nice as a T-Rex. Notice I said "almost." I don't want to torque off any T-Rex users, especially since I happen to want to join that particular club.

There's also the new Raiden Tech Zero which still has only two flights on it. Double nuts.

I guess I can take the time to straighten out my workbench while waiting for the transmission part.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 26, 2007 @ 06:49 PM | 3,346 Views
Despite what is probably the worst assembly manual in the history of hobbies, the Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25 ARF I've been working on and writing about took to the air this morning.

Verdict: I dig this bird.

The review is coming up as soon as I finish it with the info on the maiden flight.

In a totally unrelated story, those of you with an E-flite P-47D Thunderbolt 400 park flyer in your stable and which might be equipped with the 4200kv inrunner setup will appreciate this: If you need a prop, don't get the E-flite props and then go through the hassle of drilling them out to fit the gearbox shaft.

Get an APC 11x7 slow-flyer prop instead. Install the APC adapter that came with the plane, press the large adapter ring in the prop and see the difference this setup makes. The motor spins noticeably faster. Ergo, the plane gets through the air faster as well.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 21, 2007 @ 06:51 PM | 2,983 Views
There's an update below...please take a look!

I would have had it up and on by now, but I had to cancel the maiden flight of the plane in question due to high winds. Making matters worse (at least from the review's point of view) is the fact I'm taking a little weekend out-of-town jaunt.

Believe me, I was sorely tempted to just fuel up the plane and put it in the air today by myself, but I wouldn't have been able to get pictures. The club president has offered to give me a hand under the circumstances; we just have to recoordinate our schedules. It would have been a great day, too. Cloudy but nearly dead calm. The E-flite Thunderbolt took to the sky instead. Back at the old homestead, I was finally able to begin reassembly of the HPI Savage 25 with the arrival of the final parts, namely the brake lever and piston. The lever was totally narfed when the tranny started coming apart. All better and nearly back together! Used the rest of the time to re-epoxy the motor stick on the Thunderbolt. It came loose at the field; CA just doesn't cut it when that happens on a foamie. I'll have to start carrying epoxy and not just CA. No way it's coming loose now short of an "unscheduled landing!" That stick's stuck.

Some epoxy was pressed into service to see if I could fix the poor FlyZone Cessna and its badly deviated septum. Grabbed a decal sheet yesterday but it may be a bit of a wait for the fuse and the cowl. It so happens that I have the old cowl and...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 19, 2007 @ 06:56 PM | 3,061 Views, sir. I don't like 'em.

In the interest of safety, I clipped the JST connector from the GWS speed control of my little FlyZone Cessna 182 Skylane. The wires were beginning to pull out of the rear of the connector and I didn't want to risk a short. I soldered on a JST from the plane's old motor...but those wires were pulling out as well. This little plane is a real handful to fly, believe me. It's a little bit underpowered and tip stalls like you just wouldn't believe. The GWS ICS-300 speed control helped enormously, especially after the problems I had with the factory ESC.

Apparently, I'm not the only one; at least one user on this forum reported his caught fire!

That same factory sent me a new replacement a few months ago on a warranty claim. So, what the heck. In it went.

Down came the plane.

It simply would not ROG from a 600' asphalt runway. Making things worse was the fact that the voltage control was cutting in early.

A hand launch resulted in the motor cutting out, the plane tip stalling and BANG! Down it went, the nose of the fuse breaking off on the runway and shattering a brand new cowl.

New parts are on order, although I think I'll try my hand at repairing the fuselage for now, assuming it isn't too distorted. A quick test fit revealed that the foam under the "windshield" is crushed. I would have retired this little monster and installed the radio in another plane if not for the fact that I'd just installed a brand new motor and landing gear, the original gear being pirated for my little nitro combat plane.

I have to say that I was rather amused that both area hobby shops stocked plenty of replacement wings.

Wonder why...?

Anyway, once you replace that lousy speed control with a good one, the plane is a blast. I can't help but wonder how many folks have given up on these planes because of bad ESC's...
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 15, 2007 @ 10:49 PM | 2,923 Views
I'm pleased to say that both my newest plane and its review are nearly ready.

I hope and pray that I don't have another mishap (or ANY mishap) similar to the one in my previous blog entry. Phone calls galore, e-mails galore. Trying to call the distributor was a genuine exercise in futility. The toll free number left me on hold several times in excess of twenty minutes with no answer and the regular number was constantly busy, each starting about one minute after their start of the business day. E-mails were slow in coming, but they at least came.

Here's the answer I got from Raiden Technology (also known as and regarding my inquiry for replacement parts (italics mine):

Sorry, we do not carry parts for the ARF planes at this time.
>Best Regards,

Are you freaking serious? I buy your plane, you don't carry parts and you're wishing me best regards?

I even told them in a previous e-mail that I was reviewing their bird. For a worldwide audience, yet. If I were them, I'd have busted open a kit and shipped a part, no questions asked. Or, I'd have shipped an entire kit. If they can sell the things for eighty bucks a pop, you can bet the farm they aren't paying twenty a unit. No matter how good this plane flies, I won't be buying another from them. I really dislike slamming a company. I prefer praise and I've heaped praise on Horizon Hobby, Team Orion and Hobbico for customer service above and...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 13, 2007 @ 03:40 AM | 2,831 Views
Boy, did I ever do a boo-boo.

I did a terrific job (or so I thought) of aligning the stabilizer on the Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25 ARF I'm putting together and reviewing.

So, I glued it down.

Without the elevator halves glued in place first.

And I know better than to have done something that boneheaded.

Darn thing was aligned front to back, but was off laterally to the right about a centimeter. Ain't no way the CA was letting go, ain't no way the left elevator half was going to fit and I didn't want to break anything.

According to the owner of the independent hobby shop who has more flight experience than I, the misalignment shouldn't be an issue. Trimming the left elevator a bit got it to fit OK. Trying to contact the manufacturer is a study in either patience or futility. Couldn't get through on the phone, but they did acknowledge my e-mail inquiring about a replacement stab.

At this rate (and with apologies to George Carlin for stealing one of his lines), I'll finish that plane sometime around Saint Swivven's Day.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 11, 2007 @ 07:21 PM | 2,730 Views
The horrific instruction manual I got with my Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25 resulted in a mistake and damage to the covering. I cut the cover where the instructions sorta kinda pointed to and realized with a horrid sinking feeling that I'd just opened up a hole in the wrong place.

A great big nicely trimmed rectangular one.

I about had a fit.

Calling their toll free number resulted in no live help whatsoever. All I got was a generic computer that kept telling me it would try to connect me, all to the strains of "Take Five."

At least it was the Brubeck original. Over and over and over. No live help no matter what I did with my phone. Five minutes, answer.

Well, directory assistance wasn't able to find the place and the number I did find for the company online is busy. Constantly.

However, I finally got lucky and got a live tech who was quite helpful. While he didn't have the olive drab covering on hand, he did have some of the gray covering used on the underbelly. Since there's always a chance that the underbelly might get dinged by a rock or something, I took him up on his offer to send me some of that color. As far as the wait on the phone is concerned, I just needed to wait longer than I was able to spare. Eventually, I'd have gotten through.

Thank goodness I kept the elevators from the crashed Zero. I have no idea why. I should point out that I received the first plane with the tailfeathers already installed and I...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 10, 2007 @ 10:42 AM | 2,695 Views
The new Zero is coming along nicely despite every effort of the instruction manual to make it do otherwise. When the review comes out, you'll see how much I love the plane (so far) and hate the manual.

I go a nice, warm welcome at the AMA Gold Certified local field yesterday. Nice folks, all. Somehow, that club had gotten a reputation for elitism and snobbery toward those with electrics. Booshwah. Nicest folks you ever want to meet who do a lot for the community in return. In fact, a grandfather/grandson team were having a ball with a GWS Slow Stick soon after the club president landed his 100mph delta wing.

The combat plane made the ride with me. Unfortunately, it bit me. The idle was too fast; it was the first time I'd flown it since tweaking the throttle cable. I reached around the back to pinch the fuel line and ka-WHANNG! Took a nice chunk out of my right thumb. Despite "leaking" all over the sidewalk, it was more of a glancing blow than a deep, direct one. I got lucky. If I'd have been there alone, I would have been a long way from first aid.

Unfortunately, the plane didn't like ROG from the pavement, so it was time for a hand launch. REAL fun with a sliced-up thumb and bloodsoaked dressing. It flew fine, but the engine loaded up soon afterwards. Didn't quite make the field and the new landing gear got tweaked. No biggie; relaunched without the gear...started loading up again...and I brought it in for a nice, greased belly landing before it stalled. Looks like I may have an air bleed problem along with that thumb bleed problem (which, by the way, looks a lot better this morning than it did yesterday). Lots of fuel and oil in the muffler.

I needed to change the dressing on the thumb and I figured I'd had enough. Still, a great day despite having left a lot of DNA on their patio.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 05, 2007 @ 09:47 PM | 2,537 Views why do certain ones of great importance always seem to be on backorder?

Wouldn't you know it.

All the parts for my HPI Savage 25 came in today as did my Hitec GS-81 servo gears and FlyZone Cessna 182 Skylane main gear. It turns out that I had landing gear for my combat plane right under my nose; I cannibalized the Skylane park flyer for its aluminum main gear. Perfect fit. Two DU-BRO Ultra Lite wheels which I had on hand and one DU-BRO micro tail skid later, that combat plane now does perfect ROG's, at least from a dirt runway. It wanted to pirouette on the club's asphalt runway, so I may experiment with installing a steerable tailwheel. Three channel plane, four channel radio! Anyway, it was worth the $14 it cost me to replace the thing (complete with wheels, hardware and wheel fairings), especially since I was planning on doing so anyway after it got tweaked in a crash some months ago and never did fit right since. That's the good news.

The servo gears for the GWS Naro Pico servo I need for the throttle of my Raiden Tech Zero Fighter-25 didn't. They're on backorder, for cryin' out loud. Either there are a lot of people stripping gears or those servos have lousy gears that need replacing often. I haven't used them long enough to give an opinion either way.

I could have lived without the parts for the Savage, but doggone it, I need those servo gears, especially since I'll be writing a review.

I guess it won't be a total loss. I can now rebuild the Hitec aileron servos which means I can assemble the wing and photograph its progress at the same time.

The hobby shop promised to look into exactly how long the backorder will last; I'll know by Friday. If it'll be too long, I'll simply get a new servo.

Which I'll have to order.

The hobby shop is out of stock...
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 01, 2007 @ 01:05 PM | 2,744 Views
Talk about service!

The new Zero Fighter-25 from was on my doorstep less than 24 hours after I ordered it. It was here before the new servo gears I ordered from the hobby shop...and I'm still waiting for those!

I've installed the engine, but that's as far as I can go without the servos, so the project begins anew next week.

I got in touch with Angela and I hope to do a review of the build and the (hopefully crash-free) flying in the magazine. Snapped a few pix of the fuse last night along with detail shots of the packaging and other components. The AMA membership is renewed and I'll be testing the plane at one of the premier club fields in the country. The Coachella Valley Radio Control Club hosted the turbine meet last year that was covered by the AMA in Model Aviation last November. The president has been egging me to join up for months.

Heck, how can I say no?

No frequency hits, no crazed bees like the one that insisted on divebombing my head one day, no dust, no noseovers due to irregular ground.

I'll have shade, work tables, a place to sit and a HUGE runway to ROG from.

Not a bad tradeoff...
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 27, 2007 @ 03:45 PM | 2,949 Views
It's amazing what a little bit of time will do to your point of view and your attitude.

I figured that it wasn't worth getting upset over the loss of an ARF that I could replace for $80. Sure, I was upset at losing a plane which I'd worked hard to get airborne again, but it's really not too much of an issue when one can replace the thing for relatively little money. Heck, rekitting a park flyer like a ParkZone J-3 or Flyzone Cessna from the ground up would cost about $80. A beautifully built balsa and ply warbird for that same price sounds pretty good to me.

What surprises me is the lack of choices in the .25 size range. Plenty of electrics in the "general vicinity," not many nitros.

So, thought I, why not just get another one of the same plane? It appears to be the least expensive ARF of its type on the market and it comes chock full of a lot of extras to boot, like a steerable tailwheel. The smaller, more expensive Great Planes Spitfire I'd been considering does not.

Plus, it's BIG. All the .25 planes I found had a wingspan of around 39". The new Zero will, like Project Zero before it, measure in at 49".

I'm off to the Raiden Tech or Nitro Planes website later tonight to place the order. Should be here in a couple of work days which means I can start the initial assembly on Friday if I'm lucky.

Boy, am I stoked!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 23, 2007 @ 08:32 PM | 2,659 Views
It seems Great Planes makes a neat little Spitfire that'll accept my .25 and, in fact, they recommend the very engine I happen to have on hand waiting to be fully broken in. It has a 39" wingspan, a full 10" shorter than the recently deceased Zero and the same as my E-flite P-47.


This thing has got to scream with that .25 up front. I've seen this plane or a similar one at the field set up for electric power and was it neat. Not only that, there's parts support from Great Planes.

There's also a very detailed and comprehensive instruction manual, unlike that horrific mess I got with the Zero.


You know, this might be a do-er. I'll have to check Tower and see if my incentive coupon is still valid.


Retail therapy, anyone?