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Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 23, 2007 @ 09:52 PM | 3,618 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 | 3,454 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 | 3,586 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 | 3,449 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 | 3,816 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
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 16, 2007 @ 06:18 PM | 3,411 Views
I, like you, see a lot of strange things in the course of a day which make me wonder just where the heck our civility has gone. Usually, these things manifest themselves in a general lack of courtesy, especially when some jerk sits behind the wheel of his car. Someone's who is going to drive with road rage will do so even if his mom is in the passenger seat. Or, consider the nincompoops at coin-op car washes who wash their car in the stall and then proceed to dry and detail their ride in the stall instead of in the drying area. It doesn't stop at the highway. People are just, well, puckered up.

That all changes at the flying club.

We swap stories, swap advice, give each other parts and accessories and generally have a great time flying model aircraft. I've seen that same camaraderie at the local R/C dirt track. Even the most aggressive competitors will come to each others' aid in the pits.

Maybe the world needs to stop playing violent video games and start playing with something real.

Just my two cents'.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 11, 2007 @ 11:27 PM | 3,515 Views
It's been a heck of a weekend.

Our club just wrapped up a two-day "fun fly" to benefit Toys for Tots. Saturday started out rather windy which I believe harmed attendance over the course of the meet (not to mention the remote location of the place), but it was an unqualified success nevertheless. The meet managed to attract quite a few pilots from out of the area; one vacationer from Switzerland put on one heck of a great show!

Models of all sorts abounded, from the club's big, lazy .60 trainer which any spectator could control via a buddy box to a 119 mph .60 delta wing to a gorgeous giant-scale P-51D Mustang complete with full cockpit detail and pneumatic retracts. One guest pilot, as I understand, is one of the leading large-scale electric pilots in the nation. His planes were simply incredible. He sported a smoking hot Corsair, a drop-dead gorgeous Beechcraft Staggerwing (I believe it was the Top Flite version) and a ballistic P-38. I kid you not when I say that the big Corsair probably touched 90 mph. Heck, we even had a one-time U-Control champion out on our brand new CL and helicopter pad!

Next on our list is the "Best in the West" national turbine meet in January. If you're in or near the Palm Springs, California area, check us out! Find some info at

Happy Veterans Day!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 02, 2007 @ 08:50 PM | 3,506 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 @ 02:30 PM | 3,593 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 @ 01:52 AM | 3,358 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 @ 09:25 PM | 3,243 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 @ 01:53 AM | 3,602 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 @ 07:15 PM | 3,605 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 @ 02:36 AM | 3,270 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 @ 06:17 PM | 3,268 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 @ 05:40 PM | 3,261 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 @ 05:49 PM | 3,466 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 @ 05:51 PM | 3,075 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 @ 05:56 PM | 3,149 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 @ 09:49 PM | 3,010 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