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Old Jan 03, 2014, 01:52 AM
Adam Gibson
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Originally Posted by Mr. Wiz View Post
I think there are certain aspects of RC flying that just don't lend themselves to cheap beginner type models. I mean an Alula fits all the requirements of what we've been talking about, doesn't it? If you want a higher performing plane than that then getting something like a Topsky 1 is the next step up.
I saw a Alula fly a few days ago and I really didn't like it. The shape of the design turned me off and then seeing how it flew did too. If that was my first introduction to DLG I don't think I would be as interested as I am now in DLG. It seemed way too twitchy (sensitive to pitch) to me and launched much lower than my Mini DLG. I assume it is because how short the tail is on it or something. I really enjoy my TopSky Mini DLG though and am hooked on DLG as I just ordered my first 1.5 meter DLG.
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 02:55 AM
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Nobody knows how to do anything until the first time they do it. I think the Topsky mini is a reasonable entry point for DLG flying. I think building one is also a reasonable starting point, provided they come with an exhaustive set of building instructions. That would basically be the "trainer" of the DLG world.
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 09:59 AM
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Reading tis thread it sounds like there might be more DLG brands than I knew about.
What if there was one person who tested 10-15 of these basic DLG.s some sort of launch height, build time and difficulty. Total cost to fly. durability on ground landings.. specifically account for the forces before the tail breaks. straight in and sideways.
Something like Consumer Reports does. Seems like even a RC magazine would be biased though so this needs to be done by a independent group.. But how would they cover the cost of 2-3 samples of each plane much less the time for doing the testing.
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 10:09 AM
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The problem with DLG's is that durability and performance are inversely proportional unless you're willing to spend the big bucks. That's why they are somewhat expensive in comparison to your typical ARF sport plane. That should come as no surprise. DLG flying is a specialty. It's not the every day R/C flying activity everyone in this thread would like it to be. I'm not sure it ever could be but as we've read, there are affordable models out there, if one is willing to accept their limitations. There is no contest level plane at foam ARF prices.... And there isn't anything remotely close either.
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 10:49 AM
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My first plane was a Topsky and I had a blast flying that until I managed to melt the wing foam when attempting to fix some warp. Was I able to find a replacment wing...no. The Topsky with plenty of replacement parts including fuse, wings and tails would be great. The Topsky still flys great even with a huge dent in one wing. This has become my "recruitment" DLG that I can let others fly without worrying in the least. I have been approached every single time I fly at one particular field that is a popular walking spot. After explaining that it doesn't have a motor and concept of thermaling, they ask me where they might get one. I then proceed to tell them that the best way is to buy one that someone has already built and flown. I'm new to DLG but built my first glider which was an Aquila when I was 17. DLG composites, glues, kickers, fabrics, pull strings etc. are not easily sourced for those new to it. I am sure I could build a DLG but nowhere near as well as someone who has done it a bunch of times. Actually, I prefer to just fly. I'm also a fly fisherman and while I know many who tie zillions of flies and fish very little, I tie what I need the nite before and would prefer to spend as much of my available time actually fishing. Same with DLG...
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 12:14 PM
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Getting more people involved in DLG is not a price-point problem, it is a marketing problem. You'd be surprised at how much cost is not a factor when people want something. Think, for a moment, of the (current) age group of DLGers. A poll a few months ago here on RCGroups showed that they are not teenagers or twenty-somethings. The (current) market has a lot of disposable income and is spending a lot of money on leisure activities. A mid-range golf irons set is more expensive than a mid-range DLG. You couldn't even buy a reasonable road bike for the price of a top-end DLG. I ride motorbikes and remember speaking to a BMW motorbike marketing person he pointed out that BMW motorbikes don't compete with cars, but with speedboats and holidays. DLG is similar. You're not just competing with other segments of RC (Helis etc), but with golf, cycling, skiing, and so on.

As with every other marketing problem, you need to get awareness and interest before you can sell anything, no matter the price point. I get that having an ARF LHS model is part of the solution by getting a model into the LHS you are hoping that the people on the floor are going to put the effort into generating the interest by virtue of the fact that they have the model on the shelf. That may work occasionally (as it is only part of the solution), but mostly the LHS person is going to sell the thing that is easiest to sell, has the highest margin, and the fewest returns. Besides most LHS where I live (UK) are like little warehouses for their crappy online websites (where you find find anything... eventually).

People simply don't know that DLG exists when choosing a leisure activity. The first step is to find ways to create better awareness. Some random thoughts on this:
  • DLG needs a well-maintained go-to place. Everything points to RCGroups eventually, but it is daunting difficult to find stuff and a bit too detailed and opinionated for a beginner. A well designed and maintained 'dlgrocks.com' would go a long way to make things easier. The problem is that it has to be a shared investment (builders, LHS, enthusiasts), otherwise 'everybody else' gets the benefit of a single person's effort.
  • DLG needs to be more cool. People go out and buy octocopters because they see them all the time in media, on gadget tv shows etc. I don't think that DLG will get the same status, but more videos like the Chili video that are shared and easily accessible would make a difference. What about a community effort around a DLG youtube channel, with some help to properly edit videos that people take?
  • Help for beginners. As mentioned earlier in this thread, the DLG launch is daunting. There are no training videos on how to slowly start. Anyone researching DLG comes across a video of Jun and thinks 'Yeah, okay, I'll smash my plane to tiny little pieces within an hour'. Where is the definitive slow-spin (or SAL) launch video that shows how easy it is to get started?
  • Offer good non-debatable build advice. For the lower end models, provide a clear and basic (but not necessarily cheapest) bill of materials that will work. A beginner won't even know what battery to buy, never mind having to make an uninformed opinion on pull-spring or not. For beginners the amount of slop on a servo is less important than replaceable gear sets. Hyperflight sort-of does this, and it was very useful to me.
  • Increase the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor). Seriously. The target market is probably married, and spouses have a huge impact on what we get to spend money on. DLG is safer than cycling, has health benefits, and doesn't involve excessive drinking. Surely a physical therapist in the DLG community can outline the advantages of being a DLG 'athlete'.
  • Be seen, and talk to people. We tend to choose flying fields that are quite isolated and stand in the middle of the field, avoiding the dog walkers. How about a traffic cone or windsock that you place by the edge of the field that says 'I'm doing DLG, take a business card for more info'? Why not try and organise DLG demo sessions at community days, or in the break at local football games (styled like the Blaster aerobatics video), or at golf driving ranges?
  • Create a lower-risk second hand market. The biggest cost for beginners is the Tx. If you can assure people that if the bug doesn't bite that they can sell their 6-month old, barely used radio, for 80% of what they paid, it would be easier. The wife acceptance factor would be higher. Given the quality of today's radios, you could even underwrite a guaranteed radio resale policy (even if you do this as part of the community).
I'm sorry if this is off topic, as it does not address the low-end DLG performance characteristics, but I think that while a LHS DLG may help a bit, it's not going make such a big difference to DLG adoption. However, as a recent DLGer, I bought a mini Topsky super to 'try out' - it was the cheapest DLG with ailerons. I still sneak away from my desk during the day and go to the park next door and throw it around for 15 minutes, and it is great fun. I save the 1.5m for days when I have more time. It launches high enough, doesn't have good dead air time, but is great fun and is better than spending 15 minutes replying to work emails. What would be considered a bad day for serious DLG (no lift, no launch height) can be a lot of fun for a short break during the day.
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 12:15 PM
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Ideas

Having been on a tight budget in unpowered RC for over 5 years now, I think the Alula is one of my favorites and adapting some of its qualities to a higher-launching design might be ideal. Tough, inexpensive, super-simple assembly with high degree of prefabrication & easy alignment of parts . Small enough for the backseat or trunk of a small car when fully assembled.

Here is are my ideas for an RTF DLG using Alula for inspiration.

Wing: molded elapor foam with CF tube or rod spar. CF tube or spar in a molded leading edge slot to resist dings and add stiffness. launch blade glued to main spar

Pod: Molded foam with molded recesses for battery/radio/ elevator servo. thin tape-on Plastic cover for ding resistance.

Wings aerodynamically blended to pod.

Boom: attached to molded recess in pod, running thru the pod 50% or more. Molded CF mounts for tail feathers. Something like a U-shaped patch for gluing on the vertical, and a pylon for the horizontal with a generous sized area for gluing it on as well.

Holes in boom for gluing in the wing main spar. Wings glued to fuse/boom. Maybe some spots for packing tape reinforcement.

Vertical stab should have some kind of tailskid in the lower half. but otherwise molded foam with CF reinforcement for the tails.

Wingspan 1m or less probably. Overall planform a little more general-purpose, ie: decent for sloping & good maneuverability for flying in small spaces.

Elevator & Aileron. 3 servos so that you could do flaperons with the right radio

So the price tag on something like this is probably $150-200 with amounts in excess of the $75 Alula price tag going into inexpensive DSM2 2.4 radio, servos, and the rather special boom & carbon parts

So maybe its not going to catch tiny thermals at all. I have plenty of fun at a very small park just throwing the Alula and catching whatever lift is available. I think something similar with more launch height to get into better lift would be ideal.

Other than scratchbuilds, I have a topsky mini, alula, weasel, longshot 3 (bought used & prebuilt well), & a recently bought unique mini. The unique flies nice, but the pod did not withstand one or 2 hard landings on my first day out. I was taking a risk with too much wind that day.

I think the only one I would give to a kid/beginner is the Alula. Toughness is a quality I appreciate most when the conditions are not ideal.
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 02:35 PM
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I agree that the Alula is good for kids and unskilled pilots. However, trying to shoehorn Alula build characteristics into a typical DLG design scheme is a bad idea. Elapor is really heavy and terrible with tension, and a carbon rod wouldn't do much structurally because it isn't really part of the wing; it's floating in the middle. Carbon is usually used inside of Elapor wings to make them more rigid and less floppy, not to give them more lateral tensile strength.

Tensile strength is something that is very relevant to DLG construction. When launching an Alula, the radius of rotation around your torso to the middle of the pod is typically less than a meter, so there isn't much strain on the wing. On the other side of the spectrum, the same radius can be nearly two meters on a 1.5m DLG, so there are significantly more g-forces out on the wing - hence why DLGs use high tensile strength materials like FG, CF, and Kevlar. These composites are also used because they are stiff under pressure, a characteristic is not shared with foam. The release after rotation puts additional strain on the tailboom, which is why DLGs almost universally use carbon in that location.

Keep in mind that "pro" DLG pilots sometimes rip their composite wings to pieces during launch, so consider what those launches would do to a foam DLG. Even a weak toss could shred it or structurally compromise it, and that would lead to a bad reputation for the manufacturer.

Sorry for the wall of text. For those uninterested in reading, the TL;DR is that foam is a really crappy structural material in DLGs, except in really small ones. Composites are a must.
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Last edited by Zedtwitz; Jan 03, 2014 at 02:47 PM. Reason: Added TL;DR.
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 02:45 PM
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A viable idea would be to make the fuse out of some kind of thermoplastic like the FPV Raptor, but thinner and with servo mounts built in.
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 02:51 PM
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and a carbon rod wouldn't do much structurally because it isn't really part of the wing
I know for a fact this isn't true.

Ryan
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 03:24 PM
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I guess you missed that this concept would not be more than 1 meter span, and constructed in such a way as to put the load primarily on the spar and boom. The alula does gain strength from its relatively thick wing and shortness. I think it is stronger than you think because I discus launch it the same way i launch my real 1.5 m DLG, and it isn't that lightweight (164-184 gm) compared to most 1M DLGs. I did RC conversion on the multiplex fox glider (Thin EPP wing) and tip-launched it with 1mm CF rod in the wing and packing tape reinforcement. The fox was fun in the backyard, but not designed like a DLG at all. The launches were not very high, but with a good glide and sort of a "on-rails" feeling of a much bigger plane it was worthwhile.

If I had the tools to mold my concept plane I would do that and test it, and see what actually needs improvement, since my ideas come from experience and I lack the structural engineering skills to predict anything.

What I find is there is a lot of fun to be had between nothing and the low end of DLGs.
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 03:35 PM
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I guess you missed that this concept would not be more than 1 meter span, and constructed in such a way as to put the load primarily on the spar and boom.
I know for a fact that a 1.5 meter DLG can be built with a floppy foam wing (EPP covered in packing tape) with a kite spar spar system (aka those round tube spar type deals) running the full span will work. A weak toss won't shred it. Such a design probably won't be winning any world championships. But it would be flyable and fun as a sport model. And potentially cheap to produce.

Ryan
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 03:54 PM
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I know for a fact this isn't true.

Ryan
What I meant was that if it was a spar running only partly through the entire wingspan, it wouldn't be particularly useful since the force of launch would be exerted on the weak foam, not the carbon. If a spar can be constructed that is flat in the middle, but has reinforced mounts on the ends for a blade and in the middle for fuse attachment, and can be sufficiently fixed inside the wing that it won't slip, twist, or bend, it could work. But you would still have to deal with the heaviness and floppiness of the foam.

Also, most DLG airfoils are narrower from the TE and a few cm inward than the individual grains of foam, so it would be extremely weak and fluttery without reinforcement.
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by rdwoebke View Post
I know for a fact that a 1.5 meter DLG can be built with a floppy foam wing (EPP covered in packing tape) with a kite spar spar system (aka those round tube spar type deals) running the full span will work. A weak toss won't shred it. Such a design probably won't be winning any world championships. But it would be flyable and fun as a sport model. And potentially cheap to produce.

Ryan
Fun is a subjective term. I know I wouldn't have had much fun at all with a plane like that..... Even in the beginning. Would a plane like that sell well? In my humble opinion, no. It's got to be butt ugly and poor performing from a relative standpoint. Are there people that would enjoy a plane like that? I'm sure there are some. There is always someone that likes this, that or the other thing.
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Old Jan 03, 2014, 04:13 PM
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Fun is a subjective term. I know I wouldn't have had much fun at all with a plane like that..... Even in the beginning.
You are wired to enjoy high contest performance. You are definitely not alone in that regard. A non spread carbon blingy model that can be thrown to a maximum of 80-100 feet and will float around in still air for 60-90 seconds apparently isn't appealing to you. That is cool and is your prerogative.

There are lots of people who are wired to like lower performance stuff. There are still people building and flying Gentle Ladies. For me, this kind of thing was the most fun thing I could fly until I decided I should attend another contest. But I also fully admit I am a total weirdo. People almost never like my ideas.


Ryan
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