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Old Oct 08, 2012, 10:08 PM
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USA, CT, Wilton
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ME-109 Combat Project in Connecticut

At some point in the recent past, some folks in our club were talking about trying out air-to-air combat. I figured if we had 5 or more folks interested, it would be worth it. Turns out 11 of us were into the idea, and so we set about finding a good platform for us first-timers. This thread is for us to share what we've found so that other groups can do this, and to also learn from others as they tell us what we're clearly doing wrong.

The criteria was as follows: We wanted an electric plane that cost less than $100, was fairly easy to get in the air, and durable/easy enough to repair. It was a tall order, and one I don't think we could have filled 10 years ago.

After scouring around for a decent plane, we decided to run a trial: One member was to build a pair of scratch-build foam planes (Spitfire and another plane) from Montana Modelworks (http://montanamodelworks.com), and I was tasked with getting and putting together a foam ME-109 from HobbyKing.

While the Spitfire builder and crew mucked around with different types of foam, I waited twelve days to get my gear from China. Flash forward some weeks and we both had planes in the air. The Spitfire came in heavier, and I had ordered too hot a motor for my plane with no possible way to prop her down. There were a few inadvertant landings that tested the durability as well.

In the end, we didn't give up on the profile-type flyer cut from foam, but in the interest of durability, and just getting everyone up in the air as quickly as possibly, for the least hassle and cost, we decided to press on for the time being with the ME-109.

The plane isn't perfect, but for $101 including shipping for a complete plane with servos/motor/2.4GHZ RX/Battery, I think we can address any issues rather easily. We've got one member whose plane tends to drop a wing dramatically, and if you get these planes going too fast, the wings have a lot of flex, which translates to a partial loss of control, which I like - I don't expect a WWII plane to handle like an Extra 300, and it's hard enough chasing down those streamers. It flies pretty well, does basic acrobatic manouvers, and the streamers don't slow 'em down noticably.

At this point, we've got three planes that have engaged in combat, another couple that are probably ready in the next few days, and I'm sure a few that will finally get around to it. We still don't have a draft set of rules, but for the most part, we've run a few feet of string tied to the rudder, then 15-20'?ish of crepe paper cut to half-width. We've found that 1-on-1 combats seem to be the most fair and enjoyable, and that other than Roger who seems to get the depth thing spot-on, it's harder than we thought to line up that streamer when cutting across.

We're still coming up with the proper propeller - the slow-fly ones from China are a bit too flimsy, but we need to watch our airspeed. The single servo for the ailerons actually works, but long-term is a bit of a watch-out as it's highly-burdened, hardly uses any travel, and will be hard to replace as it's dropped into the wing that's then glued into place.

I'll put up seperate posts about building the plane and tips, as well as tips for how to actually get a half-dozen to a dozen of these planes in your club's hands without losing your sanity.

In the meantime, here are a few videos from Nodd RC following our project - these are great, and also serve to get people excited about building theirs:

RC Combat Part 1

RC Combat Part 2

RC Combat Part 3

RC Combat Part 4
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Old Oct 08, 2012, 10:13 PM
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USA, CT, Wilton
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The Plane - a Build List

The Plane
Here's the parts list for EVERYTHING except servo extensions and battery connector (I have no affiliation with any RC company or supplier)

From the US:
Plane: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=26476
Battery: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=20749

From China:
9g HXT-900 Servos: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...?idProduct=662
ESC: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...idProduct=2168
Motor: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=22849
Prop (might not be so great, it's flimsy): http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...6pcs_set_.html
RX: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...Receiver_.html
Bullet connectors:http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=24424

We've tried this motor as well - it's just too fast:
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=18115
Props are still up in the air - my current favorite is an APC 8x4.7 prop
I didn't include battery connectors, as that's a personal preference thing (EC3/Deans/Those Yellow 60's)
I also didn't include servo extensions - I like to remove the stock ones and solder a new lead that's the right length.
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Old Oct 08, 2012, 10:17 PM
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USA, CT, Wilton
Joined Nov 2010
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Building the HK ME-109 Combat Plane

Building

Building this bird is fairly straightfoward. It comes with a color instruction manual, and for the most part these are fine - we're finding some variations in build - not sure how the wings are made but some people have poorly-aligned wings or ailerons/wings that are thicker on one side.

For us, the biggest improvement I'd like to see is the aileron servo and horn arrangement. The current setup uses maybe 30degrees of rotation - that's a waste of good resolution. We may try two 4.5 or 4.7 gram servos (one in each wing), but that would bring cost/complexity/maybe weight up, so it's a V2 item for now.

Here are tips I put together for our group:
First of all, check your kit to make sure everything is in there:
Plane Kit (3 foam pieces, instructions, hardware bag)
Motor [Turnigy LD2816A Brushless Outrunner 1350kv]
Battery [Turnigy nano-tech 1000mAh 3S 45~90C Lipo Pack]
ESC [TURNIGY Basic 18A v3.1 Speed Controller]
RX [OrangeRx R410 Spektrum DSM2 Compatible 4Ch 2.4Ghz Receiver]
3x female bullet connectors (in ESC bag)
3x Servos [HXT900 9g / 1.6kg / .12sec Micro Servo both nylon and the new carbon/plastic gear iterations acceptable]
GWS Prop [GWS 9047s]

Some plane-building ground-rules:
First of all, spec parts MUST be used. The key parts are listed above,
Components are not to be added, excluded, or modified, including rewinding motors, altering servos, propellers, covering, etc.
Prop will be a spec prop your kit includes one GWS 9047s - Prop spec is subject to change
Aileron horn mounting locations I have installed mine where recommended, though it has been suggested to bring the control horns close to the fuse and at less of an angle. Lets let each builder decide where to put these, since its an easy thing to change, and will quickly determine if it makes a lick of difference.
Tread tape may be used on the leading edge of the wing, and a spec tread/grip tape from big box hardware store will be specified.
Crepe paper will be provided.

Tips/Considerations:
This plane goes together really well with CA (I forget if I used foam-safe or regular), though Im sure Elmers or Poly glue would be fine. I used gorilla glue to mount the wing to the fuse, as it expands to fit any gaps you may have.
Well probably all want to paint our planes differently to help distinguish them. Im not sure if painting before or after assembly is easier. In any case, theres no need to fly the swastika, so its highly recommended it be covered one way or another.
o Good paints to use/test would be the krylon plastic paints (still dont bring the nozzle too close to the plane, as sometimes the propellants do strange things to foam) or the Montana line, available locally. They have lots and lots of colors.
I dont smell it as much with this batch, but my plane smelled particularly terrible for two weeks or so, especially when warmed up. The smell does go away.
Remember, nothings perfect the goal here is to get everyone in more or less the same plane at the lowest cost so we can try this out, then tweak as needed.
Combat rules will be drawn up and circulated well keep it safe and simple.
Dont bother with servo frames just hot glue the servos in
The ailerons may be stiff score the inside of the hinge with an xacto knife (carefully) and it should loosen to an acceptable point. Alternatively, you can fold the aileron over and sand it (careful!)
You may need to cut a little material in the front of the battery slot to be able to move the battery forward to achieve the proper CG
Its been suggested that to ID planes, we all paint our Fin, rudder, and wingtips a different color
Servo wires will need extensions, or you may move the RX back, but run the risk of not having the ESC lead reach. At least this way, it would only be one lead vs. two. Those with soldering skills can easily open the servos up and solder on new longer wires.
Attaching the aileron servo arm can be done a few ways. I used small screws and some ca. You can wrap them with carbon tow or Kevlar thread and then use CA (lightly sand the mating surfaces) and then finish it off with heat-shrink if youd like
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Old Oct 08, 2012, 10:29 PM
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Administration (shudder) of combat

Administering
This one's tough - you need a few champions to get things started and to keep them going. As someone who's found that any group larger than 3 is just chaos, I must say that you cannot underestimate how many deviations from a simple set of instructions you will have. First and foremost, it helps if you have some medium for communicating to everyone - for us our best bet is at the field, but that's tough because it takes away from your flying time, you still miss people, and then there's no record of what's said/done/etc. More than half of us aren't on facebook, and I got dismal response to the email I sent to everyone. So to the degree you can communicate, do. Once you have that, I'd be clear that you're getting the starting point out to people, but that they're in charge of handling basic things like their own battery connectors, and any soldering that has to happen, etc. I offered to solder connectors to ESCs if anyone needed it. You may also want to state that people should bench-check their equipment before installing, otherwise you can't handle any faulty/warranty issues.

I think this works best when one person orders all the parts. Shipping costs are shared, and it helps to ensure homogenity. You may even want to add a small margin for your time/headaches/returns/administration. I didn't, because I really wanted as many of these in as many hands as possible.

Also put together a list of tips/tricks/etc. and distribute it with the planes or via email etc. Also stress that EVERYONE is to follow the same parts list and rules (we've already gotten folks trying to use different batteries and motors!). For us, we had some sticky points around the following:

- Aileron Servo Horn placement - the plans call for them to be at a 45 degree angle - others suggest that they should be mounted more inboard. I decided to keep this open as it's easy and free to change them, and we could find the optimal placement easily. I think they work fine the way they are (and may even provide some aileron differential?), but I agree that I'm not a fan of how little servo travel is used.
- Prop - Works in progress for us - my only requirement is that it's a prop you can find locally.
- Moving servos/CG/servo extensions - the servos don't reach the RX compartment - some moved their servos, some mounted the RX further aft and to the side of the fuse

I also asked someone else to put together rules - this way it wasn't all on one person's back. There are lots of ideas out there, and looking to our RCGroups bretheren to chime in with simple formats to make this as easy as possible. Right now, we're at still flying and longest streamer wins. We're monkeying with streamer lengths, and haven't even run longer than 3' strings.
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Old Oct 09, 2012, 05:31 AM
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Australia, QLD, Tewantin
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Great thread!

Still haven't got mine, yet, but thanks for posting this info' which will be handy for my future build.

Cheers
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Old Oct 09, 2012, 01:27 PM
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Joined Feb 2012
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How are you liking that 109? I've been looking at getting it for awhile but have been leery of it. A few guys at a local school I fly at fly combat but they are using iCare Streetfighters the 109 on HK was as moderately priced as I could find and comparable to what they are using.
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Old Oct 09, 2012, 09:55 PM
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I'll say, so far, so good. It handles fine and doesn't have any bad tendencies. As I noted, one member is having some pretty drastic issues with his - one wing is thinner than the other and he's getting unintentional rolls basically (if I understand it correctly) as he turns.

Others hopefully will chime in, but I wouldn't want any more performance than what it's got, and I like the fact that the wing is an actual airfoil. I've had a motor failure (my fault) at two stories high that was fixed in 2 minutes, and we had a pretty decent cartwheel that resulted in no damage, so that's a check for durability.

The iCare looks interesting - hadn't seen that before, but the plane kit is nearly twice the cost of the ME-109. If I were you, however, I'd stick to what the other guys are flying, or better yet, try to buy the plane used off someone who hasn't quite gotten the bug.
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Old Oct 15, 2012, 07:46 PM
rfk
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In a couple of weeks we have 7 or 8 of the group done building their planes. Most have be maiden and we are starting some combat activity. Last weekend the wind was howling and Chris was brave enough to put a streamer on his Fox and have me chase him around the sky with my Stryker then my ME-109. Of, course Chris had his cameras rolling. See video:


Nodd RC - 028 - RC Combat Part 5 (8 min 21 sec)

This is a great practice if you have a friend that does not mind towing a long piece of crate paper around the sky as folks try to hit it!

Roger
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Old Oct 26, 2012, 08:15 AM
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Fairfield County, CT
Joined Mar 2010
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Thoughts on the Hobbyking ME-109 airframe

Well we got 6 planes flying, or at least attempting to fly. My comments are likely slanted because my wing had manufacturing issues with the left wing 2mm thinner than the right. I did not notice this until the plane was nearly finished, but i continued the build. So I am having significant issues. So the first point is to inspect the kit when it arrives.

My issue is the plane snap rolls to the left on many maneuvers even while carrying good speed. I attributed this to my manufacturing issues, but as of today at least one other airframe is having a similar problem and has no defects.

We have a couple airframes that tend to get into unrecoverable spins on normal maneuvers. More power makes things worse. I did recover once by cutting power for a couple seconds, getting the controls neutral then power up. What the heck??

One of the big issues is the weight. I built with no modifications and my airframe is 2g over the maximum suggested in the instructions. (with a 1000mah battery). I also came out tail heavy and had to move the battery 1/2 in forward to balance. Others came out even heavier. The heavier the plane the more problems in flight.

All kits had a problem with the flexibility of the aileron hinge. It requires work to make it move easy enough that the servo does not stall. Great care needed to ensure you do not detach the aileron from the wing. If you do not get this right the servo will stall and cause one of several other problems.

The aileron servo and linkage require very little servo movement. That translates to the need for a programable radio. I think my radio is programmed for about 20% travel which drives the servo 15% up and down.

Of the six models completed, two are flying really well. Even given the wide range of building talent, it says something about the model.

It is strong. With all the crashes I think the only real damage has been broken props.
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Old Nov 06, 2012, 11:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Csessa View Post
Well we got 6 planes flying, or at least attempting to fly. My comments are likely slanted because my wing had manufacturing issues with the left wing 2mm thinner than the right. I did not notice this until the plane was nearly finished, but i continued the build. So I am having significant issues. So the first point is to inspect the kit when it arrives.

My issue is the plane snap rolls to the left on many maneuvers even while carrying good speed. I attributed this to my manufacturing issues, but as of today at least one other airframe is having a similar problem and has no defects.

We have a couple airframes that tend to get into unrecoverable spins on normal maneuvers. More power makes things worse. I did recover once by cutting power for a couple seconds, getting the controls neutral then power up. What the heck??

One of the big issues is the weight. I built with no modifications and my airframe is 2g over the maximum suggested in the instructions. (with a 1000mah battery). I also came out tail heavy and had to move the battery 1/2 in forward to balance. Others came out even heavier. The heavier the plane the more problems in flight.

All kits had a problem with the flexibility of the aileron hinge. It requires work to make it move easy enough that the servo does not stall. Great care needed to ensure you do not detach the aileron from the wing. If you do not get this right the servo will stall and cause one of several other problems.

The aileron servo and linkage require very little servo movement. That translates to the need for a programable radio. I think my radio is programmed for about 20% travel which drives the servo 15% up and down.

Of the six models completed, two are flying really well. Even given the wide range of building talent, it says something about the model.

It is strong. With all the crashes I think the only real damage has been broken props.
My club did a similar combat contest this year. We built the p51. we had similar results. Some of the planes would fly great. Others would seem to lose control on basic manuvers. Very frustrating. One day the plane flys great and the next it crashes out of control. We added addidtional carbon fiber to the wings. we build 10 in our club and it was a bust. We are going to use the SkyFun for next year in the stock form. A great flier for the money. Also, cant really fly this plane in over 10 mph winds and expect performance. Prankster
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Old Nov 07, 2012, 10:50 AM
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dedStik's Avatar
United States, VA, Virginia Beach
Joined Feb 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Csessa View Post
Well we got 6 planes flying, or at least attempting to fly. My comments are likely slanted because my wing had manufacturing issues with the left wing 2mm thinner than the right. I did not notice this until the plane was nearly finished, but i continued the build. So I am having significant issues. So the first point is to inspect the kit when it arrives.

My issue is the plane snap rolls to the left on many maneuvers even while carrying good speed. I attributed this to my manufacturing issues, but as of today at least one other airframe is having a similar problem and has no defects.

We have a couple airframes that tend to get into unrecoverable spins on normal maneuvers. More power makes things worse. I did recover once by cutting power for a couple seconds, getting the controls neutral then power up. What the heck??

One of the big issues is the weight. I built with no modifications and my airframe is 2g over the maximum suggested in the instructions. (with a 1000mah battery). I also came out tail heavy and had to move the battery 1/2 in forward to balance. Others came out even heavier. The heavier the plane the more problems in flight.

All kits had a problem with the flexibility of the aileron hinge. It requires work to make it move easy enough that the servo does not stall. Great care needed to ensure you do not detach the aileron from the wing. If you do not get this right the servo will stall and cause one of several other problems.

The aileron servo and linkage require very little servo movement. That translates to the need for a programable radio. I think my radio is programmed for about 20% travel which drives the servo 15% up and down.

Of the six models completed, two are flying really well. Even given the wide range of building talent, it says something about the model.

It is strong. With all the crashes I think the only real damage has been broken props.
Seems like even this 109 is plagued by the stall characteristics of it's larger version.
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Old Nov 07, 2012, 09:00 PM
rfk
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A little combat yesterday with both the Montana Spitfire, ME109, and HK ME-109.
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 07:18 PM
rfk
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We had six or seven planes out today. Even the crowd enjoys a little combat flying!
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Old Nov 11, 2012, 07:45 PM
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United States, CT, Fairfield
Joined Mar 2012
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Yeah that was fun today, great to have a big fur-ball battle-royal. A few of us even scored some kills (streamer cuts). Its possible we're getting the hang of this. I'm totally looking forward to the next round-o-carnage.
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Old Nov 16, 2012, 03:38 PM
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Fairfield County, CT
Joined Mar 2010
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Improvement

Well I had some time to try and make my 109 fly correctly. I had a few things to try and I made several changes at once. The good news all the initial changes made no difference so although they were all worth doing I do not have to figure out which one fixed the snap problem.

After the first test flight the tendency to snap left seemed to have gotten worse. BUT, I noticed the plane needed rudder for coordinated turn right and no rudder turning left. I then tried a little right rudder trim. Some improvement. Then a little more right rudder and suddenly no bad habits.

Rolls, loops, inverted flight; no surprise movements, NO SNAP to the Left!!!!!!!!

I think there may be some other minor changes that will help and I'll test those later.

This might explain why some of our planes fly great and others are just terrible. I am talking about a minor amount of rudder trim to make a significant improvement.

Next step; add a streamer and into the fray.
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