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Old Oct 01, 2013, 08:18 PM
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Fixing RC Thermal-Soaring

Another launching-high and dorking season is almost over, and this year we exceeded the $2500 price-point for the latest and greatest Open-class launch-rockets. If you're fine with this, skip this thread. Else view the attachment for a detailed and comprehensive fix for what's ailing RC Thermal-Soaring.
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Old Oct 01, 2013, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by weathershiptd View Post
Another launching-high and dorking season is almost over, and this year we exceeded the $2500 price-point for the latest and greatest Open-class launch-rockets. If you're fine with this, skip this thread. Else view the attachment for a detailed and comprehensive fix for what's ailing RC Thermal-Soaring.
Thanks for the post. Im an old slope/thermal guy who is thinking of getting back into the sport. Ive lurked on the forum and its a nice forum but it is very discouraging at the same time. It seems whether you fly slope or thermal everyone has a F3B/J/F style plane. As you mentioned they are hideously expensive they have almost cartoonish flight qualities with the zoom launches and the dork (Which is really just a crash and requires no skill) landings. I watched a few vids posted by a Davy and most of them where a plane flying diagonal circles against a hill at some ungodly speed with an obnoxious screeching. Looks like it would get boring in just a few minutes. I mean if your plane can do ANYTHING and do it at 100+ MPH where is there any challenge? Do RC pilots catch thermals anymore?
In the May issue of MA the soaring editor made a plea for money for the US team, as if the pilots who can afford a $5K model need a handout, and even the author made a point that it was technology and not skill that made modern competition. Ive got a basement of old gliders (Several Charlie Richards planes, a Chuperosa, Sagitta, Harlequin, and a Talon) and based on what I have seen in these forums I would probably be embarrassed to show up at a local club function with one of these. And, there is no way I can swing 2 and a half grand for a airframe and another several grand for a radio and winch (What ever happened to high starts?) so I guess l'm probably done in this sport. Fun while it lasted. Maybe the kids can get some paintball practice with my old stuff.
Wonder how much RC sailboats run
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Old Oct 01, 2013, 11:25 PM
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Adelaide, Australia
Joined Jan 2008
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Nah man, if you're a glider pilot, it doesn't matter what you fly. Turn up at a slope somewhere, toss that old gasbag off and enjoy yourself. It's all good.
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Old Oct 01, 2013, 11:57 PM
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agreed. build yourself a nice woody kit or get an affordable arf and find a secluded spot and just enjoy it. there's nothing like soaring
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 12:04 AM
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So. Cal
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[QUOTE=DougCorrigan;26261377.
Wonder how much RC sailboats run[/QUOTE]

Not any less expensive than a sailplane at the competitive level.

Anyways, rc soaring is about fun and friends. The plane is the glue that holds it together.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 07:51 AM
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United States, NM, Albuquerque
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougCorrigan View Post
Thanks for the post. Im an old slope/thermal guy who is thinking of getting back into the sport. Ive lurked on the forum and its a nice forum but it is very discouraging at the same time. It seems whether you fly slope or thermal everyone has a F3B/J/F style plane. As you mentioned they are hideously expensive they have almost cartoonish flight qualities with the zoom launches and the dork (Which is really just a crash and requires no skill) landings. I watched a few vids posted by a Davy and most of them where a plane flying diagonal circles against a hill at some ungodly speed with an obnoxious screeching. Looks like it would get boring in just a few minutes. I mean if your plane can do ANYTHING and do it at 100+ MPH where is there any challenge? Do RC pilots catch thermals anymore?
In the May issue of MA the soaring editor made a plea for money for the US team, as if the pilots who can afford a $5K model need a handout, and even the author made a point that it was technology and not skill that made modern competition. Ive got a basement of old gliders (Several Charlie Richards planes, a Chuperosa, Sagitta, Harlequin, and a Talon) and based on what I have seen in these forums I would probably be embarrassed to show up at a local club function with one of these. And, there is no way I can swing 2 and a half grand for a airframe and another several grand for a radio and winch (What ever happened to high starts?) so I guess l'm probably done in this sport. Fun while it lasted. Maybe the kids can get some paintball practice with my old stuff.
Wonder how much RC sailboats run
I guess I don't get some of the reasons why you guys are so.

Sure, it is expensive to get the latest and greatest model. Many people opt to do this because it is their hobby, and well, they want the best toys to play with. I'm guilty, but I fall somewhere in the middle-of-the road. I don't have many sailplanes, but a large percentage of them fall in the $1-2K price bracket. I choose quality used models and fly the wings off them. While I'm talking about the prohibitive cost of entry to be "competitive," let's talk about the other things related to price that I see occur. The "bind-n-fly" ARF/RTF approach as well as inexpensive sources (HK, R2 Hobbies, etc) has many people flying crippled aircraft with no appreciation for the magic of flying machines - just as a disposable commodity. They buy many, often substandard gliders and never really learn to fly them. I see so many people in my club with dozens of foamies and warped woodies that would have been so much happier with one or two proven moldies. You get what you pay for, and in this case, I paid for flying. I'm not constantly fiddling around with the airframe out of necessity to keep the thing airborne. I'm out flying. The same models. Everyday I can. Those models I do have, despite the price, feel like an extension of me.

Old-time traditions. I feel like I started to address this point above, but modelers always like to say "back in the old days" - hell the mean age of the soaring club here is between 65-70. I think for the large part it is resentment of the ARF era and people just buying airplane performance. I'm actually building my first woodie (Chrysalis 2m) and it is humbling coming from molded composite airframes. I can't achieve perfection, the parts aren't +/- 0.002" toleranced, wood bends, etc. What I imagined would be a leisurely and relaxing thing is about the furthest thing from it. I'm hunched over my bench sanding/fitting/sanding/gluing. I guess the point is that I think they are almost distinct hobbies: Flying and Building. It is likely that the fusion of both results in spectacular thrill, seeing your machines come alive. But we don't need to have both simultaneously. We're in it for fun, do the parts that make you happy.

I find it amusing that you feel the F3J format is "float nearby" and "dork landings which require no skill." Sure, the high launches make maxing more attainable. It is easier to stay up than it is to get up. Dork landings make sense to me, and you absolutely do need proper energy management. It is a two-fold task - precision timing and precision placement. Anyone can do either of the two, but combining them is quite challenging. Seeing the top guys at a contest within a second of the buzzer with 99 and 100 point landings is incredible. And without energy management, you don't make full points, you may land late and be penalized, or break your airplane. And who do we see winning TD contests? Still, the world champions. If it were truly a trivial contest those weekend warriors would be consistently up there. I do agree that the points spread is very close but the cream always rises to the top. Also, in the fly-offs for these contests, it is anything BUT a float contest. Short tows and 15 minute working times...I'd love to see someone float a 15 minute time from a 200' launch.

As for being competitive and requiring a $3k airplane...not necessarily true. My favorite airplane is a beat-up $600 Supra. You can fly whatever you want as long as it has wings and a hook on the bottom. In ALES, I prefer flying my spray-painted Radian as it makes the challenge and wins so much more gratifying. It flys, but face it, most airplanes are much better. The point is - use what you got or can afford. It's not like we get paid to fly well (not most of us anyway), so why stress about it?

I don't own a winch, I have a short bungee and that is it. That isn't dead at all, and much easier and builds skills faster than winch IMO.

In any case, your proposed contest format is very similar to the FAI F5J rules. I agree for the most part. I'm a gamblin' man when it comes to sailplanes, and the option of launching low and taking a point bonus is very appealing. Or accepting bad conditions and opting for a high launch in the hope of being the only to max. But winning a modern TD contest is no walk in the park just because you may have an expensive sailplane.

The best pilots always win, that is the way it has always been and always will be. The airplanes are just a tool, and the shoddy carpenter always blames the tools.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 09:13 AM
Flying = Falling (Slowly)
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Tulsa, OK
Joined May 2004
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Reasonable people might differ on whether there is a need to "fix" TD flying, but it might be of interest that some of our european friends have experimented with using their F5J altitude switches to measure launch altitude for an event that more or less scores like F5J.

The switch (actually a digital measuring device) measures the highest altitude achieved within 10 seconds of release from the winch line. I don't know how they are scoring it in the glider application, but in F5J you are deducted 1/2 second for each meter up to 200 meters and 3 seconds for each meter above 200 meters.

While the F5J is new and guys haven't yet figured out how to wreck it, it appears to be very "thermal" oriented and involves a new degree of strategerizing. It is not uncommon to see most of a launch group to launch to 80 or 90 meters for a 10 minute task (or even 12 minute tasks). You don't need to be faster than the bear to win a round, just faster than the slower bears

Happy Landings,

Don
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 10:17 AM
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I went through a similar "sharing of opinion" several months back and some people got a little miffed because they thought I was devaluing their particular interest. So you do have to be careful how you word things, to make up for the lack of communication that might occur on this 1-dimensional method of sharing.

You just have to fly how you like, and if others are doing something you don't like then don't participate, but let them have the full enjoyment of what they are doing. It's sad to hear of anger blow-ups at club fields over silly stuff.

I like things really simple, for me the object in soaring is to just try to stay in the lift as long as you can, (in my full size DG-100 then I try to go as far as I can) and outclimb everyone else or outclimb yourself. I like to try to stay up until I run out of battery or my neck gets sore. My neck is fused so high thermalling is not my most favorite soaring technique, I like slope/thermal where I can keep it right in front of me.

Landings- I remember the "spot landing" days when you had to gauge your approach to touch down and then slide to a stop within a white chalk circle. To me, it's a much more humane way to treat a sailplane. But things change, things evolve and that's the way they want to do it. I'm happy if they are happy. If we take the time to look at what the new techniques are, we will see certain skills being used. Maybe not a skill we have or like to use, but nonetheless a skill. I don't really like the way an RC helicopter looks as its flying around backward doing combinations of rolls and other gyrations, but the more I watch the guys who do it I have to say they have a skill that I don't.

I think this flying thing is an art form, and there is room for all sorts of differences in expression.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 10:44 AM
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United States, CA, Paso Robles
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Soaring is an incredible hobby. There is a reason that there are so many forms, from hand launch to F3X, Scale, XC, Nostalgia...there is something for everyone! I hope the OP doesn't quit this wonderful hobby. I have certainly gotten more out of my love for soaring that I can possibly describe!
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 11:33 AM
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United States, TX, Weatherford
Joined Nov 2002
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TD is......TD. I have been doing this off and on since the early '70s. Flying a glider is initially the easiest flying to learn... so simple. Flying a glider WELL, on the other hand, is very difficult to master. I have seen some guys master it quickly and go on to astounding competition records. I have seen some struggle with it for a lifetime, with much frustration. It comes down to the fact that competition drives improvement... i.e. the advancements in aerodynamics and carbon construction. But watch out... Joe Wurtz might show up with a Gentle Lady and beat your Xplorer...

I hate skegs. I always have. I always will. I love TD and F3J, so I have removable skegs. I had thought for a long time that TD needs to be "fixed". However, all the arguments against changing the landings, etc. have merit. Unless you or someone can come up with a better plan that is objective rather than subjective, you will get nowhere with your change proposals. I would only devalue them to 10 points max. That gives a needed tie breaker, without devaluing the soaring aspect. As to launches, shorten the lines...

TD can become boring and people can burn out. I did in 1980 and missed 20 years of development until I got back in in 2000. I am also a full-scale glider pilot and so I was never far away from soaring...

So... fix away if you must. You will meet huge resistance. You will be ridiculed by some, but I salute you for your efforts.

As to the gentleman that is debating getting back in... well... to each his own. I am still designing and flying wood-wings, and enjoying it immensely. I have won contests with my models flying against molded carbon. It truly is a "to each his own" situation. Do what you like. You'll be surprised... you may develop something that others will enjoy.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 11:54 AM
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United States, OK, Moore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougCorrigan View Post
Thanks for the post. Im an old slope/thermal guy who is thinking of getting back into the sport.....
Doug, just jump on in. There may be widely varying opinions, and even heated arguments sometimes, but at the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun..... and usually is.

My 2 pesos....
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 11:54 AM
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Just another "I think you should change the whole thing because I think its broken". If you truly believe this, then sell your concept to your local fliers, test out your fix on your local circuit, then report back with real data. There is already way too much "you gotta do this because I think its better" on these forums, and not nearly enough real life experimentation and reporting of results.

Why would anyone take your changes seriously if you don't know if/how they will work?

JT
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 01:04 PM
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You gotta love these threads about fixing things, I have several top of the line new ships, and guess what, I do one contest a year, they are mostly sport flown and I enjoy them immensely, they rarely get a "dork" landing, and I like the challenge of short lines, I also have several woodie or vintage models, they are what they are for the period and I enjoy them a lot as well, but they have limitations.

And the price of the new ships as relative to what! The price of a new car now compared to 1980? Or the price of gas now compared to then?

According to the above sentiment, we should be absolutely horrified at paying $40,000 for any new car right now when in 1980 you could buy one for $10,000. Progress happens, and prices go up, some people just can't handle it.

Frankly I think the typical Explorer, Aspire, Perfection are a bargain for the fantastic technology and level of finish they offer, same as the newer cars with all the safety, power and handling, of course I still see some driving Pintos and old VW bugs.
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Last edited by s2000; Oct 02, 2013 at 01:17 PM.
Old Oct 02, 2013, 01:15 PM
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I am always interested in new games to play with my toys, so this is interesting.

The idea that everyone makes their time and landings because they have a molded carbon glider is .... very cute. .

Maybe some day me and my expensive moldies will see the reality of that but it has not happened yet. I attend a lot of Eastern Soaring League contests and somehow, there are a LOT of people who do not make their times and who do not score high landing points on every flight. I wonder why that is? Perhaps our moldies don't cost enough.


As for fixing American TD, I don't think it is broken. But that does not mean you can't propose a new format. So give up the idea that you are fixing something and just develop a new format. Call it altitude limited pure sailplane, ALPS. No need to call someone's kid ugly.



I have noticed, at our club ALES contests the moldies seem to have less of an advantage. Here the launch height is electronically limited. I have placed in the top 3 with a Radian against e-xplorer and e-graphites.

Yes, in tough conditions these larger F3J type planes have an advantage. And when the lift is off the filed they can run farther and faster than my Radian. But in "average" conditions it is more driven by pilot skills. First place has often been 2M foam or wood gliders flown by a talented pilot.


ALPS

Use the F5J type electronics to measure the launch height and see how it goes.

The one issue here is that, in ALES and F5J you can set the height so you have real control of the launch. When coming off a winch you have much less precision as to how high you launch. You are guessing. You may target 300 feet but hitting that number is much harder to do with a pure glider coming off a winch.

There are height limiting devices that will actually operate the elevator so you could dial in a more precise launch height if you like. The practical side of that would have to be measured. The Sky Limit is such a device. It can hit the elevator to stop a climb beyond a certain height.
http://www.wingedshadow.com/skylimit.html


The high strength, high launching planes will still have an advantage as they will change that zoom energy from height to distance so they can RUN to the lift. So the advantage of advanced planes won't be eliminated, it will just be changed, and so the planes will evolve.

Likewise, ALES has not eliminated the value of a powerful motor. It has just changed it from height to distance. Climb for 10 seconds then run for 20 instead of climbing for 30. Launch height will be limited but run time can still be used for competitive advantage.

I like the larger landing zone. F3J and ALES both use larger landing tapes and landing zones so that there is a lot less need for dork landings. Frankly I never liked the 100" tape. It almost demands a dork landing.

Why not make the landing a "runway" landing? Frankly I always thought the runway landing was the fairest landing method as it most closely simulated the landing of a full size glider. But they are a pain to set up and measure.


I don't think I like the required slide landing. With flaps and a bit of headwind you can land without much of a slide and still not dork the plane. To have to land in the circle and slide seems unduly restrictive and kind of odd. Just spread out the graduations from inches to meters and the dork will go away.

Just my thoughts. I am open to new games to be played with my toys! There is no need to FIX what I enjoy today.
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Old Oct 02, 2013, 01:23 PM
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so. cal.
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One last thing, thumbs up to trying any new type of contest task, give it a go and keep at it, maybe it will be like the Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come! ( or maybe not )
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