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Old Apr 18, 2010, 02:03 PM
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Desert Duster, a 1/4 scale ultralight

Hidden in the pages of the Oct 1985 Issue of Model Builder, is an article about a 1/4 scale model of a one-off owner-built ultralight, the Desert Duster. The article, (including a much reduced copy of the single page plan) and a number of models, were built by the original plane's builder/owner, Dee Millett. I built one of these in 85/86 and enjoyed it's kite like flights until it was destroyed in one of the slowest crashes I have ever seen in my 30 years of building and flying RC planes...

To quote the article, "It's light and verrry slow in the air. Author cautions: Flying may cause drowsiness!"

The picture of me and my first DD shows the size of this giant PFer... and a much younger/lighter me.
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 02:19 PM
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I don't know why I am so interested in this plane. It could be the working flying wires, or the full flying stab that is supported in the center by one hinge... Maybe it is the fact that 1/4 scale model can fly with only a .15 under the cowl (later up-graded to a .19). Anyway, through the years I have built a number of these from the original 1/4 scale down to a free-flight, rubber band powered peanut.

The picture of the takeoff shows the climb-out angle the DD achieved with the OS .15. I remember one time when a kid chased the DD, and ran along side as it took off... As the article says, this is a verrry slow flying plane!

My new DD is going to be powered by an electric motor. I am going to try to get it off the ground with a Super Tiger .10.
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 02:46 PM
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I am sorry that I never sprung the $5 for a set of plans as I have spent hours scaling the magazine page up to a 1/4 scale set of plans... TWICE! The biggest problem is trying to figure out the exact dimensions, is it 5" or 5 1/4"??? In building the smaller DDs I was lucky as I could enlarge them up to the 17" limit of the local copy shop's machine, but the 1/4 scale plans would be 3' X 5 1/2'.

Through the years I have tried to buy plans, but after Model Builder died, the plans are impossible to find.

One picture show the size / "Peanut Scale" type of construction (that is a 1 foot long ruler). The other shows one of my favorite set of tools. By gluing sandpaper to a chunk of wood (with square edges) I can sand angles in stick wood by sliding the sanding block on the finished piece of wood.
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 04:45 PM
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I apologize for the small text on the picture, I'm still trying to figure my photo program out.

Both sides glued up, one on top of the other with plastic wrap between them. As noted I didn't glue the two joints at the back of the cabin (square with "V" in the center). Also note that I haven't cut the aft end of the top and bottom fuse spars off yet, they end at the last vertical former.

I forgot to mention that the first thing I did for this build was to rip many strips of 1/4" and 3/16" balsa out of sheet stock. The article even mentions this as a way to get sticks that match.
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 05:46 PM
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I probably should have started out with this post... Here is part 1 of a copy of the 1985 article from the now defunct Model Builder magazine.

This is the start of the article and the designer, Dee Millett talks about the "real" Desert Duster.
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 05:53 PM
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Bill Northrop the former editor of Model Builder (man do I miss it!!) still sells all the old Model Builder plans. You can contact him at (702) 896-2162

2019 Doral Court
Henderson, NV 89074

Brian Allen

Veni Vidi Volavi

I came I saw I flew
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 07:34 PM
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Thanks for the info. I did try to contact him a few years back, but never received a response... I will try again this week, hope it works this time.
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Old Apr 18, 2010, 09:43 PM
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The cabin is almost complete, one picture shows all of the cross bracing in place. I changed the brace that crosses the window to carbon fiber just because I had a piece laying around and what the heck, why not?

I need to let the glue dry (using yellow glue) before cutting the CF and attaching the aft part of the fuselage. After that I think I will go on to the tail.
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Old Apr 19, 2010, 09:47 PM
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I added 4 corner braces aft of the rear cabin vertical formers, and just glued the side stringer on the right side of the fuselage. The side stringers add a unique cross section to the fuse and strengthens the part of the tail where the stabilator is hinged from. The stringers are attached to the outside of the vertical formers, from the tail to the aft end of the cabin. From that point they taper in to be flush with the aft door frames.

My first model had opening doors (the bottom part of the "V") as per the plans. I felt the doors were unneeded as the top part of the "V" is open and allows great access to the inside of the cabin.

Brian / all: I tried to call the phone number you gave me, but it is disconnected. I have written a letter to Mr. Northrop and will mail it tomorrow.
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Old Apr 20, 2010, 02:04 PM
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Great build subject. Have you any images of the full sized version?
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Old Apr 20, 2010, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeeW View Post
Great build subject. Have you any images of the full sized version?
The only pictures I have found are the two included in the article. I have not been able to find anymore information about it, and am not sure what became of the original plane or Mr. Millett.
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Old Apr 20, 2010, 07:11 PM
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Nothing more fun then making balsa dust on a rainy afternoon. Satbilator and vert fin roughed in, and the rudder trailing edge is on the mold.

The plans call for three layers of 1/16" balsa glued together to form the trailing edge. I tried the 1/16 I had and cracked a couple so pulled out a sheet of 1/32". Turns out that the 1/32" was a bit thicker then marked, so only needed 4 strips to equal the required 3/16".

Family things happening this week so, after tonight, I will have to lay off building for a few days.
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Old Apr 26, 2010, 04:32 PM
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Starting the wings: First thing is to cut the lumberyard of long sticks into shorter sticks.

Next is pinning the spruce spars, fore and aft, on top of the plans. Then the 1/4 X 1/4 balsa rib bottoms are glued in place. Also shown are the balsa rib-spacers glued in place, mid-way between the spars.
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Old Apr 26, 2010, 04:39 PM
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When the rib bottom glue joints are dry, move the wing so the aft spar is near the edge of the building board. This is done so the rib-caps can hang down over the edge of the building board / table.

Apply glue to the top of the two spars and rib spacer.

Pin one end of a 3/32" X 3/8" rib-cap to the front spar.

Rub a damp rag along the top of the spar cap and....
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Last edited by rahtware; Apr 26, 2010 at 04:45 PM.
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Old Apr 26, 2010, 04:42 PM
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...Bend the rib-cap down to the rear spar and pin in place.
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