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        Build Log Building the ultimate Ritewing Zephyr

#1 trappy Jul 21, 2010 05:26 PM

Building the ultimate Ritewing Zephyr
I love my current Zephyr. It does about 130km/h (80mph) in the straight and up to 250km/h (150mph) in a vertical dive. It has quite a few flight hours on its back and is still going strong. In the past I noticed that I wanted to go further and faster than the current Zephyr could take me. Using thermals I was able to achieve that, but it's pretty hard to thermal something as heavy as my Zephyr - this brings us to this build thread, where I'll be going through the basics of building the ultimate Zephyr in terms of stability, weight and power.

The old build was done using the "Riteweave" method that most people here are already familiar with: 3M90 glue and thin fiberglass weave appropriately named "Riteweave" to stiffen the wing. While it adds insane amounts of strength, the weight gain is about 700g for the whole wing, or 500g when being very stingy with the glue and riteweave here and there. Still, the build takes quite a bit of time to complete (~4-5 evenings)

Moving on to the present. The new way the ritewings will be built from here on is using a laminating film. Consider it a monocote on steroids (stiffer, more durable). it is glued and then ironed onto the wing, giving it a lighter yet stronger finish - and the build time is reduced considerably. When everything is laid out properly, the wing should be built in 2 evenings.

Initially I wanted to build something that is light for thermals and with lots of batteries. Having seen the Zephyr from my buddy Chris84, however, I'll build this one here for the ultimate in speed and range and leave the thermaling to the Supra.

I've just ordered all the gear:

Plane: Ritewing Zephyr 54" & 3mil laminate, available from RCG user klique
Propulsion: Hacker A-30 L (~1100kV) and Hacker ESC, 10x6 folding prop, ~600W
R/C: EzUHF 8ch diversity RX with active-robot 433 antennas.
FPV: 2.4GHz lawmate, EzOSD, L1D vario
Battery: 2x 4S 3300mAh Flightmaxx
Servos: 2x Turnigy 380 MAX digital servos, 4.1kg. I will probably need to upgrade to 6-8kg at some point
Edit: 4.1kg servos definitely too small. using 8kg Graupner DES servos now.
Custom motor mount, get a similar one here

Expected specs:
Weight: aiming for 2kg, will probably end up at 2.2kg
Flight time: between 25 and 40 minutes
Flight distance: between 20km and 30km.
Max altitude: 3000 - 4500m
Cruise speed: 60km/h
WOT level flight speed: 150km/h

The new Zephyr will be a bit heavier than my existing one, but it will have twice the power and almost twice the endurance. this will allow me to go further, higher and faster. a plane like this should not be built by someone new to FPV or R/C in general, especially not with the kind of power and weight. if you're getting started, the build technique used here combined with the power setup of my old zephyr will give you an awesome plane for moderate speeds and winds. this bird is primarily for long range flights, something I really want to get into now (10km+). the old zephyr is comfortable with 5-8km distances.

So, this is it for now. I'm in Switzerland this week but should be able to get started on the weekend. Hope there'll be some discussion going on the new build technique. Since this is the first build-thread using the laminate technique, I'll post instructions how to properly build using this method in case some of you want to follow with their own ultimate Zeph :)

#2 Daemon Jul 21, 2010 05:36 PM

You say the old Riteweave method is stiff and strong, but heavy..
then go on to say the new laminating film will make it even heavier.
Or does the weight gain come from carrying more gear?
Just curious why you're switching.


#3 trappy Jul 21, 2010 05:44 PM

Daemon, the laminating won't make it heavier. I am doubling the battery capacity and a motor twice as strong. The weight savings with the new method are not enough to compensate for these 2 things. the batteries add about 400g, the engine is 60g heavier. Also you'll need to consider I built my zephyr pretty light. Most of the builds end up at 1.8 - 2kg with the smaller battery capacity. with the new build technique apparently you get the best of both worlds (same or better strength as with a full covering, but lighter)

I'm switching primarily because I've flown pretty much everything within reach of my current Zephyr. I've done quite a few flights where I hit low voltage cutoff before I reached my target. So I want something with a bit more duration. Thermaling works, but there are planes that are better in thermals, and I have 2 of these, so I didn't want to force the zephyr into something it's probably not too comfortable with.

#4 trappy Jul 21, 2010 06:09 PM

5 Attachment(s)
part 1 of the build. finished the internal and wing spars and weighed her in. She'll probably come in at around 1.9 - 2kg, and my first Zephyr is 1.655kg. Pretty happy with that outlook. duration: 45mins. Instead of taking pictures of the wing spar installation, I put together a little vid:
Ritewing Zephyr build - chapter 1 (1 min 43 sec)

What I forgot to add in the vid is that the spars should be at the same position top and bottom at the thickest point of the airfoil.

I'm going to need to order the batteries and some other hobbyking stuff before I go any further. So this build will go on a break while I wait for the parts to arrive.

#5 trappy Jul 21, 2010 06:10 PM

17 Attachment(s)
ok, did some good progress on the Zephyr today. will continue after the motor mount is completely dried. see the pictures (uploaded in order of construction). I think I can "finish" her today - I'm missing the EzUHF RX and pushrods for the servos so I'll install these and then laminate on TUE or WED. wuuuzaaaah! enough of my schedule, on to the build (see pictures)

#6 trappy Jul 21, 2010 06:12 PM

18 Attachment(s)
final build pics. any questions are appreciated. the step from the pics before and this one took 6h, which brings the total build-time of this plane to 10-12h. Not too bad for what you get, and totally customized too. I'm a very slow builder, by the way :)

#7 trappy Jul 21, 2010 06:13 PM

3 Attachment(s)
3 more pictures ...

#8 ssassen Jul 21, 2010 06:25 PM

Get on with it already, this thread is worthless without pics, stop slacking, start building! :D



#9 trappy Jul 21, 2010 06:27 PM

I'll be starting on Friday. I'm in Zurich ... didn't you read the last sentence? :)

#10 mark hitchman Jul 21, 2010 06:30 PM

What is needed for the build, not electronics but for the wing itself that you don't get in the kit.


#11 ssassen Jul 21, 2010 06:32 PM


Originally Posted by trappy (Post 15599347)
I'll be starting on Friday. I'm in Zurich ... didn't you read the last sentence? :)

I did, it says there's now enough space for discussions :D



#12 trappy Jul 21, 2010 06:33 PM

mark: 3M90 glue, CA glue, glass-tape, exacto knife, pushrods and the thing they attach to at the elevons, covering iron and spray paint (optional)

sander: riiiight :)

#13 klique Jul 21, 2010 07:21 PM

3mill lam film and proper sparring is lighter than the riteweave and monocoat.
we only use 10 mil under the belly.


A qik paint and lamination aplication build vid is here.


These are laminated builds

Lightweight RiteWing TL36 wing, strong wind, and some "Surf" music (3 min 58 sec)

Freestyle Slope Flying, Merriam Crater, 04-04-09 (4 min 34 sec)

Directions are.

build wing with all gear installed

sand wing nicely

spray 3 m 90 over entire wing ,then let dry

now paint without going to heavy and crazy ,I use cheap spray paint.

let paint dry,then do another haze of 3 m 90 over the paint so the lam fill stick reall well.

let 90 dry for 1/2 hour or more.

if you let the 90 dry for a few hrs then you can sand it again as an option to make it even more smooth,but I usually dont,lol

Cut film for top in four pieces then use iron w out a sock, start with temp low at 225 F or so and work your way up.
Use wingbeds to lay wings in to keep them strait and tru ,then over lap the lam film joints 1/4 inch.
After you do a few wings you will be able to do the wing in less pieces.
Its easier to do more at first so you dont distort the wing learning..

The overlaps will disappear and the colors will really bling out even with the haze of 90 over the paint.

You can cover the bare balsa elevons or do the same 90 method with paint ,just no need to do the first layer of 90 on the balsa , just do the last one over the paint so the lam sticks well.

You can also do it over the wing if its completely glassed with riteweave or henrys,a little sanding prior to lam will make it even more smooth.

Hope this helps guys.


Originally Posted by Daemon (Post 15598968)
You say the old Riteweave method is stiff and strong, but heavy..
then go on to say the new laminating film will make it even heavier.
Or does the weight gain come from carrying more gear?
Just curious why you're switching.


Here are some lay out pix one of my builds.



Mono coat top and lam bottom



#14 Daemon Jul 22, 2010 01:54 AM


Originally Posted by klique (Post 15599727)
3mill lam film and proper sparring is lighter than the riteweave and monocoat.
we only use 10 mil under the belly.


Ya, that's what I would expect, which is why I couldn't quite figure why he was going from a heavy build, to an even heavier build, but it's just the gear as he explained above.
Good quality curved ribbon spars top and bottom can do absolute wonders for
stiffness (might surprise you to know who was the very first person to use them that
way in a chevon wing).


#15 trappy Jul 22, 2010 03:10 AM

Daemon: My Ritewing is actually one of the lightest ever built, according to the weight specs posted by some here on the forums I'm around 300g lighter than most builds. the goal for the new Zephyr is to build it even lighter, and load it up with enough gear so I'm in the weight range of the other builds. I've seen a Zephyr at 2.6kg ... she flies just as well if not better than mine. The only reason I don't load mine up that way is because she becomes impossible to launch by one person.

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