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Old Jun 07, 2012, 08:42 AM
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First DLG Build - Super TopSky 2.0 - Lessons Learned

Finally got my TS2.0 90% done last night - all that's left is to hook up the tail surfaces to the servos and she's (hopefully) ready to fly.

This was my first time working with epoxy, microballoons, fiberglass, and carbon fiber. I've done some balsa building and covering, and of course flown some foamies, but this was a definite step up. However I did not find it to be really difficult for the most part.

I have ordered another kit so I get a chance to apply my lessons learned BEFORE making them.

Lessons - some specific to the TopSky kit -

1. Cut the wing servo holes in the wing EACH with a new blade. The Kevlar wing material dulls blades fast, and dull blades make frayed or loose edges. These edges can be fixed somewhat with thin CA.

2. Clean the wing root area well with alcohol. Otherwise, when you tape the bottom of the wing together with blue painters' tape, the epoxy will get under the tape, and all the epoxy at the wing roots will run out. This error is compounded by # 3, below;

3. Mix resin and hardener thoroughly, then mix in microballoons. If you mix all three together at once, which by the way all available instruction tells you clearly not to do, your working time goes down to about four or five minutes before things start getting sticky. And things don't ever get LESS sticky. If you mix it properly, you get a couple more minutes, but still not long.

4. Paul Naton's DVD tells you to use a lot of epoxy when joining the wing roots. However I would not do that as it increases the chance of making a big mess. I would just dig out the hard points and fill them, and join the wing once the epoxy starts to set up a little bit.

5. The instructions tell you to use fiberglass to join the wing halves. However, the kit includes more than enough carbon fiber to allow you to not use any fiberglass at all. Next time I will use only carbon fiber.

6. If you use fiberglass, you can wet it out with CA and it works fine. I would epoxy the throwing peg reinforcement only.

7. If you use carbon fiber, you need to use epoxy. 30-minute is fine. You can get a smooth edge by laying clear packing tape over it. It looks almost like you bagged it when it cures. CF makes very sharp edges when wetted out unless you use the tape method. You can sand them down but it doesn't look as nice.

8. There are separate instructions for gluing the tail on permanently. No need to dig the foam out of the carbon fiber pylon and fill it with epoxy. Honestly, when would you ever need to remove the elevator?

9. The instructions are in Chinglish and mention a 15mm pylon - however the included pylon is about 25mm or more. I figured, why wouldn't they just make it 15mm if that's what it's supposed to be? Are they measuring some dimension other than the height and I just can't figure out what? So I used the whole thing. Now my elevator/horiz. stab. looks kind of high up. It should fly ok, we'll see. Next time I'll cut it down to 15mm.

10. Epoxy/microballoon mixture is very, very difficult and time-consuming to sand to shape.

11. If you take your time, measure several times, use tape to protect the edges, and call your wife in to see what a beautiful precision job you are doing, you can get a really clean, nice, perfect cut in the wrong tail surface. Take a moment to make sure you're cutting a slot in the RUDDER surface. If you do cut the wrong one, you can CA it back in place and carbon fiber it back together and it comes out ok. Probably stronger actually.

12. You can use the included jigs for installing the tail surfaces to the boom. The airfoil side goes down. However, no matter how you try to measure, ultimately you're going to be eyeballing this, and it's not going to be 100% perfect. To get it perfect would require robots and lasers. You probably couldn't tell the difference with a difference machine, so relax.

13. Don't cut the boom. Also it won't take much epoxy to join the pod and boom.

14. A lot of people make a fancy 4-point connector for the wing servos. I don't plan to remove the wing much if at all so I just soldered on some servo extensions.

15. I used a neat technique to connect the wing servos to the flaperons. I used used heat shrink to attach music wire with a z-bend to the the included CF rods. This was described in the Topsky Disser build thread on RCGroups. You can lightly shrink the tubing and still adjust the length of the wire, then once it's right you can wick CA under the tubing and it's rock solid.

16. Paul Naton's video give you a long list of materials to buy. I didn't need some of them. You need nitrile gloves, 5-6 minute epoxy, 30 minute epoxy, microballoons, thin CA, nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, heat shrink tubing, music wire, servo extensions, hobby knife and blades, blue painters' tape, and soldering stuff.

I hope these tips help some people. The TopSky kit components are awesome compared to some other DLG's I've seen, so it's a great deal in my opinion.
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Old Jun 07, 2012, 10:54 AM
Mike M.
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United States, UT, Eden
Joined Jan 2010
4,996 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdogg77 View Post
...
8. There are separate instructions for gluing the tail on permanently. No need to dig the foam out of the carbon fiber pylon and fill it with epoxy. Honestly, when would you ever need to remove the elevator?
...
It is extremely beneficial to be able to remove the horiz stab / elevator if you ever plan to travel with your plane to a contest or elsewhere. Being able to break it down and put it in a long thin box for protection is well worth the small build effort needed to make the elevator removable. It allows the fuselage, with vert fin / rudder still attached, to lay down flat on its side. Even if you don't think you will ever break the plane down, I would still do the removable stab, because the next owner will likely want to.
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Old Jun 07, 2012, 04:21 PM
Fly, tinker, fly, tinker....
numba's Avatar
United States, WA, Snohomish
Joined May 2012
136 Posts
Thanks for sharing your experience. Mine arrived today, so I imagine I'll be starting my build tonight. Good tips.
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Old Jun 07, 2012, 08:19 PM
WAA-08 THANK FRANK!
JimNM's Avatar
Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States
Joined Jun 2002
7,119 Posts
+1 to #11.

That is why I don't show the wife what I'm working on
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Old Jun 08, 2012, 09:49 AM
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USA, MA, Worcester
Joined Oct 2008
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tdogg77,

I know exactly how you feel. I just finished up a build on a TopSky Super Mini. I haven't even flow it yet, but I already want to order another kit so that I can build it much better and lighter. It's not terribly heavy, but I'm sure I could save at least 15 or 20 grams being much more careful on the next build and knowing what mistakes not to make. I now have much better idea of how to go about building this kit, and I'm sure the next one will come out much better.
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Old Jun 08, 2012, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by MAP123 View Post
tdogg77,

I know exactly how you feel. I just finished up a build on a TopSky Super Mini. I haven't even flow it yet, but I already want to order another kit so that I can build it much better and lighter. It's not terribly heavy, but I'm sure I could save at least 15 or 20 grams being much more careful on the next build and knowing what mistakes not to make. I now have much better idea of how to go about building this kit, and I'm sure the next one will come out much better.
Yeah, I may sell this first one if it flies well.
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