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Old Jun 22, 2013, 09:18 PM
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Build Log
Red Swan Hobby King Balsa Kit

I'm a glutton for punishment, I guess. Because I'm building a balsa kit from Hobby King that has crap for instructions, questionable laser cutting quality, limited documented builds, etc?

No, I'm a glutton for punishment because I'm doing it again. I previously did a build log for the Red Swan HERE and it turned out well.

The kit is (in my limited kit building experience) too heavy and I added too much weight with heavy building techniques, but it still flies well. The fuselage was sheeted with 1/8" balsa, I used a bunch of epoxy, a motor that could have been lighter, a non-folding prop, etc. But it still moves along nicely.

After seeing it fly I began to wonder how much better it would be had I built it without all the excess weight. One way to find out, build it again!

So I ordered another kit, which arrived a few weeks ago. Today I opened it up and checked out the quality to compare against the first kit. The balsa quality appears ok, a little better than the first kit. There was a little damage to the bottom planking on this one where the last kit had some damage to the side pieces. Laser cutting on this kit appears to be better than the first as well. I still have to cut along a lot of the laser cut lines, but it's better than the first kit.

My plan for this build is to go lighter by lightening the fuselage sheeting, changing the wing build, tail feathers, electronics, and motor/prop. Where the first build uses a 1000mAh battery I want #2 to use a 500mAh. Why not just use the 500 on #1? It turns out the 1000 gives me the right balance when pushed forward as much as possible. If I went with a lighter pack I'd have to use ballast to get it right, so I may as well just go with the 1000. If I can get the tail light enough on #2 a 500 will hopefully work. I'm hoping to shave the overall weight by 20% on this one.

My plan is to document the build here, so hopefully anybody looking to build this plane will have some information to make their build easier.
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Old Jun 22, 2013, 09:21 PM
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I forgot to add a couple pics of the Red Swan. The red one is the picture from the Hobby King website and the yellow/silver one is my first build made up to look like the TG-3A glider.
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Old Jun 24, 2013, 12:06 AM
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Joker, thanks so much for the original build and for also doing this one.

The swan price is very tempting so was wondering if it's also a good investment time wise.

As an average hobbyist do you think there are enough valuable lessons to be learned from building the Red Swan to justify the time spent? Or would going with a Mountain Models might be a better use of time/funds?
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Old Jun 24, 2013, 05:42 AM
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MM kits are fantastic. Well designed, complete, great instructions, lots of help on the forums and from Brian, etc. but they aren't cheap. Their kits are worth every penny. For me, I like to do something different occasionally. Going with the RS taught me a number of things, including not over building, thinking three steps ahead, and patience. I learned these things AFTER the build so now I want to do it again to see if I really learned anything. If you simply want the satisfaction of building a kit that flies great go with MM. If you want some challenge to spice it up, try the RS.
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Old Jul 06, 2013, 01:46 AM
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Nice to see the new thread Joker.

Just test glided mine (after MONTHS of on-off-on building). I've included a few pics here which are warts and all.
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Old Jul 06, 2013, 02:03 AM
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I had a terrible twist in the fuselage sides from the outset. My balsa was so light it reminded me of an ice cream wafer. Once I'd semi-built the fuse the twist was even more obvious. I tried steaming the fuse, bending it, using course language but all to no avail. In the end I resorted to cutting the worst side at a 45 degree angle and then rejoining it so that the tail end met reasonably well.

I've tried to pose the model to show any construction mods I might have done. To be honest a lot of the wing was built over 6 months ago and I've had a few sleeps since then so my memory isn't too good. But I do remember I was worried about the wing twisting (again due to my wafer type balsa) so I added some strengthening lengths which should be apparent if you look through the wing.

I also added a few extra bits on the tail plane which you should see easily enough. Personally I wasn't all that bothered about weight as thermalling isn't my thing as such (although I didn't want to turn it into a brick slope soarer either) so the extra bit of balsa here and there didn't bother me. I used a motor I just happened to have in my 'bits and pieces box' so I can't advise on it's power rating. In the end I got a replacement control rod set for a Bixler from Hobbyking and at about $4 or something it was a great improvement over the stock Red Swan ones. I used a small tongue on the canopy that slides beneath the Swan's fuselage nose and at the rear end of the canopy you might just spot a servo arm that locks the aft end of the canopy quite well (or so it seems).

After it glided OK a few minutes ago (nice still Saturday afternoon an hour before dark in our Queensland Winter) I did one more test 'glide' but this time opened up about 15% throttle and the Swan picked up quite well. It did, however have a nose up attitude and was pretty twitchy considering there was virtually no wind so I'll have to look into that. I'm guessing it might need a bit of down elevator when I open the tap. I'm also thinking that even though I have the C of G at 50mm from leading edge, it might be a bit tail heavy so tomorrow I'll bring the C of G forward a bit and see if that helps. My initial thoughts are even though I did not build this light, it could still be a nice plane for drifting lazily around the sky but I'll know more tomorrow (weather permitting).

I was quite pleased with my choice of covering film (Hobbyking) which seems to be of decent enough quality for it's amazing price although I'm not too sure how the wings will show up against the blue skies we tend to get in our winters here. My Swan does however, have a few untidy bits and pieces that some might think ruin or mar it's appearance but as I expect it'll be a couple of hundred feet high most of the time personally I'm OK with that. Life's too short to worry.
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Old Jul 06, 2013, 08:03 AM
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Congrats on finishing it up, I look forward to a flight report! At low landing speed mine is a little twitchy as well. With some speed it really handles well. I still am trying to dial in the proper amount of down elevator mixed with throttle to keep the nose level as I give it power. I'm close but not there yet.

I like the look of the transparent film and have read other good reviews on the HK stuff. I'll have to order some I guess. Did you find it too heavy at all for this wing? I used a lighter film with no problems other than price and lack of color selection.
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Old Jul 07, 2013, 02:49 AM
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Well the official maiden was a non-event. It was an absolutely calm morning. Literally not a breath of wind. With a mate hand launching mine for me, I set about 20% throttle and the moment it was launched it just flew to the ground.

We picked the Swan up, dusted it down, checked everything and this time I gave a bit more juice but still upon launch it flew like an ironing board (complete with iron) and broke the prop upon meeting terra firma.

I had brought a spare (it was a non-folding prop I'd broken) but decided to wait until there was a day with some breeze.

I wasn't all that worried. I think I should have had more throttle. I was more concerned with having too much throttle but I reckon once I have a decent wind to launch into AND maybe half throttle, it'll get away better.

I should also get myself a folding prop. I just wanted to see how well it 'flew' on the standard prop first.

When I do get it flying I'll report here. Hopefully with some better results.
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Old Jul 14, 2013, 01:22 AM
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I flew the Swan again today. It was strange. I found that under power (and I'm talking about a quarter to a third throttle) although the Swan gained height, it would suddenly snap around on itself (almost as though it was starting a spin) and it would lose a fair bit of height. I'd get it to recover and plod on slowly gaining more height and then snap around again (sometimes dipping the left wing, sometimes the right wing).

I tried giving some down elevator whilst climbing (in case the Swan was stalling) and this helped a bit (but not much). I landed and brought the C of G even further forward. I then tried again and pretty much the same thing happened.

Once I'd gained about 100 feet (which took an eternity in the gentle wind) I cut the throttle and was really pleased at how well it glided. I've never been into thermal soaring as such so can't say whether I caught any thermals but I did find the Swan kept the same altitude for quite a while. When it was eventually back down to 40 foot or so off the deck I once again opened the throttle (varying between 1/3rd - 1/2 throttle) and yet again it was hard work coaxing the Swan upwards again.

After a while I landed and mixed in rudder and aileron in the hope it might help but that wasn't the case. I'm wondering if I should add in some down thrust to the motor?

Later on in the day I had another flight with the Swan and this time it gained about 200 feet or so (it's not always easy calculating what the height is but it was at the height where I could still see the wings clearly- in other words it wasn't just a dot in the sky) and once again it gently glided around with next to no input required from me.

I feel that once I get to the bottom of why it behaves badly under power and sorted I'll have a nice little thermal soarer for those times when I just want to slowly cruise around the sky.

By the way, I can't say what size motor I'm using as it was just one I had sitting around in my flight box. It looks like the stock motor from an AXN (Clouds Fly) but is actually a bit more powerful (judging on comments from fellow fliers who, like me, fly the AXN regularly). I'm also using a 10 inch folding prop.

I've got a lot of rudder throw (or movement)- I'd say the rudder deflects maybe 35mm either way but while it was gliding with the motor off I tried turning using rudder only and it took AGES to turn (I'm talking about 2-3 seconds before there was any appreciable change in direction). There's just no way I can get any more rudder movement.

I'm posting these details NOT to put the Swan down in any way but in the hope that someone might have some helpful suggestions or that my experience might help someone else.

To sum up, I'm left with that 'That was sort of fun' feeling but with the understanding that it could be far better once I figure out what the problem is under power.

Any helpful suggestions would be most welcome!
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Old Jul 14, 2013, 04:49 AM
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I wish I could help with the problems you're having, but that's beyond me. Mine has a tendency to just climb way too fast with thrust, which is easily fixed with down elevator mixed in with throttle. I tried adjusting the motor down slightly which helped a little as well. That prop is pretty large compared to the 7 x 3.5 I'm using - could it be too much rotating mass/torque up front causing a problem? Are any of your wing surfaces warped? Is the horizontal stab flat and level with the wing?

I know what you mean about the weak rudder - mine is the same way even with long throws. I'll use it, but usually combined with ailerons or only for turns when I have plenty of time.

I'm glad to hear it glides well! My first RS will get to altitude (as far as I can get it safely) and then it can glide for over two minutes in favorable winds before I have to hit the power again to repeat the process. 20 seconds to climb, 2 minutes to glide. I'm sure it would be much better gliding with a folding prop, lighter weight, etc which is why I started building this second RS.
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Old Jul 15, 2013, 01:44 AM
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Beanz:
I had similair (but not exactly the same) symptoms on one of my gliders a while ago. I actually had the problem twice with related causes. The first time I haf a crack in my fiberglass pod. When it got under pressure it could twist a little bit which changed the distance between the servotray and the mountpoint for the pushrod cables, and thus changed rudder deflection. When flying slow I was barely able to notice it, except for a slight feeling of having the CG too aft. At higher speed it was barely controllable (and eventually ended in a bush/small tree).

The other occasion was when one of the gluejoints that connects the servotray to the fuselage was loose. Then I got symptoms very similair to the one I described above.

Hope that helps in your troubleshooting.


Beanz & Joker:
I don't think that any normal size of propeller could give any gyroscophical (is that correct spelling?) effect. Of course the prop size depends of the chosen motor, but electric gliders can be quite overpropped without damage to the motor as long as the ESC is up to the extra current. A larger prop gives faster climb and due to the short "ON"-time most motors tolerates at least 50% overcurrent. So far I have changed far more motors due to bent shafts than because of burned motors. I prefer motors with a kV in the range 900-1300 for 3S-batteries and as an example I've been quite happy with a 2830-1000 with a 11x6 in a 2-meter glider of approx 800 gram AUW.

Joker:
Two minutes glide from a 20 seconds motor run is quite good. Have you measured your launch height? If not I can sure recommend getting a logging altimeter. I'm the only glider pilot in my club and the analysis of the altimeter logs have been my primary source of (very slowly) learning what effects I get from different changes of the setup.

/Stefan
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Old Jul 15, 2013, 05:41 AM
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Stefan,
I don't know what the launch height would be without an altimeter, but it would be interesting to know. I just throw the plane up into the air and power my way to an altitude where I start to worry about orientation.

Thanks for your input on the props - I haven't been at this long enough to know about trouble shooting stuff like this and learn mainly by trial and error.
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Old Jul 17, 2013, 02:27 PM
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Another few flights with the RS today which convinced me I need a new telemetry receiver for this plane. I'm using a standard non-telemetry version right now and I'm concerned that I might fly beyond what the receiver can handle. Visibility was great today and the RS was a speck in the sky! Knowing how much voltage is left in the pack would be nice as well. I'm finally starting to upgrade my receivers to telemetry and really like knowing I'm (somewhat) safely in range.

Also, flying in 95 degree weather was a good way to see easily how hot and humid air fights against the plane. It usually glides along nicely, but today dropped much quicker than normal. Still fun to fly though!
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Old Jul 21, 2013, 07:17 PM
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Thanks guys. Yes it COULD be that I have a warped wing. In fact I KNOW I have but I don't think that's causing the problem. However due to my wings poor quality balsa it could be that the wing is flexing under load (or when the prop wash is quite strong). Not much I can do apart from take the wing apart and I don't have time for that.

I believe with a bit of patience (not my strong point) and some adjustments here and there, I'll get it working OK.

Interestingly I was flying my ST360 glider last week. It's about 2.6 mtrs wing span. It's been one of those planes that's never really flown as well as it would appear it should. It was displaying the same tendency to not climb and would suddenly snap into a sort of beginnings of a spin.

A flying mate suggested I put a couple of washers under the top of the motor mount to give down thrust. I did it and this week it flew a LOT better under power. I will bear that in mind for the Swan.
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Old Jul 21, 2013, 10:06 PM
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A little tweaking here and there is always fun and educational. I have my RS#1 dialed in fairly well now. Today I was able to get 27 minutes out of an 850mAh pack. I could have gone over 30 had I known there was still a little juice left in it. Admittedly it was a little boring after a while, but my goal was a long flight and it delivered.
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