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Old Dec 15, 2005, 07:35 PM
Uniblab
rwmson's Avatar
Cherry Hill, NJ
Joined Oct 2004
877 Posts
Mini-Review
LRF-1 Living Room Flyer

Hello again,

I'm shamed and embarrassed to bare my soul and state publicly that I am one of the few individuals that can't fly the Plantraco Butterfly without breaking it on every flight. "My name is Roger and I'm unworthy to own a Butterfly". Sorry Bud, but I do appreciate the fact that you tried to help me with my problems. This is doubly embarrassing considering the fact that I started the "Plantraco Butterfly First Impressions" thread. My Butterfly broke repeatedly at the tail-fuse joint and the wing pylons. I also stained the tissue by landing in dew - this also caused wing and tail warping. At least the thread was a success - 660 replies at last count.

I am not bashing the Plantraco Butterfly - not by any means. Let's just say that my living room flying skills could use some improvement. Plantraco has advanced the state of the art in affordable micro R/C systems and Living Room Flyers, and I regularly fly with a dozen other Butterfly pilots whose planes don't self-destruct. Bud's participation on RCGroups has been phenomenal - he always has answers for any question thrown his way. Plantraco's customer service is first-rate too.

Anyway, this article isn't a detailed build thread - I just want to share my experience on the LRF-1 from West Coast Blimps & Electronics in case anyone else wants to try one out too.

The LRF-1 is a sub-4 gram 2-channel Living Room Flyer that uses the same electronics as the Plantraco Butterfly. The picture below is from West Coast's web site:
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Last edited by rwmson; Dec 15, 2005 at 07:50 PM.
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Old Dec 15, 2005, 07:37 PM
Uniblab
rwmson's Avatar
Cherry Hill, NJ
Joined Oct 2004
877 Posts
Here's the description from their web site:

"The LRF-1 (Living Room Flyer) is designed as a Butterfly replacement. It represents State of the Art micro indoor flying. It is a foam and Carbon airplane consisting of 8 simple parts. The LRF-1 is designed as an indoor only 2 channel system with a proportional throttle and rudder. It's designed to take rugged abuse when flying indoors. The foam parts make construction easy and flight very stable. Weight is 3.6 grams with a wing span of 8 inches. This is a kit that requires less than one hour of assembly time using foam safe CA Glue. Take the LRF-1 with you ANYWHERE in it's own Plantraco Butterfly protective aluminum briefcase. You can safely take your LRF-1 with you to work, school, vacations - anywhere!"

I can't validate these claims yet since my electronics are in the mail, but I will let you know how things turn out.

The web site carries the Plantraco Butterfly and all of the Butterfly parts at competitive prices. One nice thing for those of us in the USA - no dealing with Customs! My dealings with John and Carol of West Coast Blimps & Electronics have shown that they provide first-class customer support. They promptly respond to e-mail and go out of their way to ensure customer satisfaction. They can provide micro-soldering services of Plantraco electronics for a modest fee. I took advantage of this soldering service after my attempts to rewire a HingeAct failed.
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Last edited by rwmson; Dec 17, 2005 at 05:43 AM. Reason: correction
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Old Dec 15, 2005, 07:39 PM
Uniblab
rwmson's Avatar
Cherry Hill, NJ
Joined Oct 2004
877 Posts
On to the LRF-1:

The LRF-1 can be purchased as a kit without any electronics, or as a complete system where the electronics are all soldered together (but you still have to assemble the airframe and attach the electronics). Since I already had the electronics from my deceased Butterfly, I ordered the airframe kit for $20 USD.

The kit contents are shown below:
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Last edited by rwmson; Dec 15, 2005 at 08:16 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old Dec 15, 2005, 07:42 PM
Uniblab
rwmson's Avatar
Cherry Hill, NJ
Joined Oct 2004
877 Posts
The contents include:

Printed .040 blue foam
6.75" .020 Carbon Fiber rod
Detailed instructions

The instructions are quite good - anyone should be able to follow them (I could!). The parts are cut from the foam using a sharp X-Acto knife.
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Old Dec 15, 2005, 07:43 PM
Uniblab
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Cherry Hill, NJ
Joined Oct 2004
877 Posts
Items to note:

1. The checkerboard pattern is on the right-hand side of the wing.
2. The vertical fin has a notch in its trailing edge. The rudder has no notch.
3. Don't cut any dotted lines, they indicate part placement.
4. Don't cut the 2 lines in the center of the wing until the instructions say to.

CAUTION: only foam-safe glue and accelerators should be used, otherwise the foam will melt. I'm using odorless CA and foam-safe accelerator for most of the construction, but I might use some white glue for steps that I might want to undo (such as installing the receiver). Use CA sparingly because it is heavy.

The airframe was assembled according to the instructions. With the rudder (not shown) the airframe weighs 0.9 g according to my scale.
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Old Dec 15, 2005, 07:47 PM
Uniblab
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Cherry Hill, NJ
Joined Oct 2004
877 Posts
The wing was aligned with the tail by aligning the wing trailing edge with the horizontal stabilizer leading edge.
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Old Dec 15, 2005, 07:48 PM
Uniblab
rwmson's Avatar
Cherry Hill, NJ
Joined Oct 2004
877 Posts
Right now I am awaiting receipt of my electronics which I sent in for soldering. They should arrive the middle of next week. I will provide more updates then.

Differences from the Butterfly:

1. Wing incidence isn't adjustable. I guess you could use white glue to attach the wing pylon - this would make it easier to remove and reattach the pylon to adjust the incidence.

2. No thrust offsets on motor (if instructions are followed).

According to John:
"The main wing, because of the wing pylon, has 3 degrees of up angle built into it. I tried pitching the motor up more, but it had little effect. The LRF-1 tracks straight as is with out right thrust added. We spent months testing it with all of these tweaks but found no reason to complicate the building by using them. If you really get it tail heavy and start to really fly slow then more motor pitch angle may help a bit but I would recommend trying it the way the plans say first. A lot of motor down angle will cause a lot of porpoising when you fly straight. If you are constantly doing turns it is not as noticeable. Changing the motor mounting is easy enough to do."
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Old Dec 24, 2005, 09:07 AM
Uniblab
rwmson's Avatar
Cherry Hill, NJ
Joined Oct 2004
877 Posts
Flight Report

I finished the LRF-1 a week ago. The motor was attached without any type of thrust offset. A small piece of double-sided servo tape was used to mount the receiver to the wing pylon. Even though the instructions provided a very clear warning to support the actuator wires so that they don't break, I didn't pay close enough attention and managed to break them off from the receiver. Fortunately I was able to solder them back on (my first successful attempt at micro-soldering ). AUW is 3.6 grams - the same as the Butterfly.

Initial attempts to fly in my somewhat cluttered basement were unsuccessful - the LRF-1 flew too fast to turn within the confines. Several "high speed" impacts eventually resulted in a crack along the length of the wing chord next to the pylon. I repaired that with some CA. My LRF-1 is much more durable than my deceased Butterfly - any one of the LRF-1's impacts would have broken my Butterfly's tail boom or wing pylons.

I finally decided to heed the instruction's recommendation to fly the LRF-1 in a large unobstructed area while trimming it and learning to fly it. The winds were calm this morning so I went outside in my backyard. The LRF-1 flew nicely. I did encounter one problem while flying - if full left or right rudder was commanded the LRF-1 would go into what seemed to me to be an unrecoverable dive. I can't explain why this dive would be unrecoverable - maybe I am misinterpreting what was happening.

Overall I am very satisfied with the LRF-1 and would especially recommend it to novice pilots such as myself that are struggling with the fragility of the Butterfly.

Pros:
  • more durable than a balsa/tissue plane
  • don't have to worry about warpage
  • same AUW as Butterfly
  • easy to construct
  • excellent instructions and customer support

Cons:
  • unrecoverable dive at full rudder
  • non-adjustable wing incidence

I want to thank John and Carol at West Coast Blimps and Electronics for quickly answering my questions and for their top-notch customer support!

Merry Christmas to all,

Roger
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