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Old Jan 11, 2007, 10:38 PM
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Chantilly, VA
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Learning to Fly: EasyStar

This is the first branch of a larger project I started over in the Beginner forum. Over there I sort of ran through my thought process on selecting a plane that would be forgiving of my inexperience.

At some point in December, Aeropal had posted a link showing that EasyStar RTFs were going for ~$150 at Tower Hobbies. That looked like a good deal, and within a week, my early Christmas present to myself arrived.

Now, perhaps my commentary on the EasyStar belongs in the "Megathread," but the Megathread is a happy place, and I have a few things to get off my chest first so I'd rather not spoil the mood in there. I doubt Tower is the culprit as my issues probably are with the manufacturer and not the distributor, but at any rate, let me have my little rant. If you don't want to read it, then move on. I'll let you all know when its over. Things will get happier I promise.

First, the instructions. My guess is that a key constituent of the RTF market is the "absolute beginner" who may know little about the intricacies of model airplane building--so as someone who used to write lab procedures, I was particularly offended by this document.

For example:
"3. Adjusting the servo linkages
Set the servos and control surfaces to "neutral" (centre), then tighten the screws in the pushrod connectors to secure the wire pushrods."

After spending a few weeks lurking I had picked up on some of the lingo, which was fortunate because I just know there are folks who buy one of these for Christmas and scratch their head, "What's a servo? Pushrod?" There's not a single illustration of this rather important step or how its performed (with the cool little allen key in the plastic baggie).

There may be some helpful illustrations (Fig A, B, C, through F) on how to operate the EasyStar, but they are cited in text and do not actually appear in the instructions A google search turned up a page of illustrations, and I believe that they were at the Multiplex website, but how this page or its figures do not end up in the manual is curious to me.

And as another beginner (whose name escapes me at the moment) also noted, if you follow the instructions to the letter, you may find your aircraft curiously wingless That's right no mention of the how to connect the wings with the spar.

Another problem was the radio instructions. They were for a Hitec Ranger III. The Hitec Neon that was in my kit. These instructions were very good, just the wrong radio. I had to do some more google snooping to find the appropriate pdf. That reminds me, <pause rant> a hearty thank you to the thousands of you who have written so much about your hobby over the years! The acquired wisdom has been a huge help! <resume rant>

Now for the workmanship of my RTF. I would have probably been better off with an ARF based on the quality of the construction. I must have gotten the factory newbie. At this point I had probably read about 1000 posts in the EasyStar Megathread, and I knew that the spar would be a tight fit. Sure enough, it is giving me a lot of resistance. I persistently finessed it until I realized that my spar had perforated the top of my wing. DOH!

As I quickly withdrew the spar, I realized it was now caked with a gummy substance which I will assume is excess adhesive. I cleaned the spar with goo gone, and then dug the blockage out of my wing with a hobby knife. (The spar continued to get gummed up for several removal cycles.)

When it came time to attach the rudder and stabilizer, I found absolutely zero adhesive on three of the four surfaces I needed to properly attach the rear structure. This would be an easy fix if I had CA, but I didn't have CA since I was not that far along with this project and why would I need CA if I had ordered an RTF? I had read that Gorilla Glue was acceptable, and luckily I had that in the house.
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Old Jan 11, 2007, 10:52 PM
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Chantilly, VA
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First Flight: 12/16/06

It was a clear day so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and take my plane and telescope out into the country where I could have my first embarrassing flying moments all by myself.

The range check went well (to the best of my knowledge), and then I proceeded to do some short test throws. I seemed to be nose heavy and tried to correct by moving the batteries back toward the rear. The first powered flights were me just flying 100 yards straight and trying to land. Those went OK, but I thought it might be coming down a little rough. As daylight waned I decided to let her rip. The plane gained altitude quickly, and I decided to bring her back around. Halfway through the turn, I appeared to stall so I gave it more juice and tweaked the elevator.

Bad move.
Lawn Dart at full speed.

The first thing I noticed when I reached the wreckage was that the tail assembly had broken off, and I begin to suspect that would probably explain my rapid midair failure. I began to kick myself for not driving over to the hobby shop and picking up some CA. The canopy now needs its well documented mod. Battery has crashed through the fuse, and now my fuse is cracked and bent. It was a pretty sorry sight.
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Old Jan 11, 2007, 11:07 PM
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Chantilly, VA
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RTF (Ready to Fix)

I was bummed about the condition of my plane, but I did not despair. I was aware of Elapor Soup and boiled my fuselage a week later. It didn't come out perfectly straight, but it was close enough based on the photos I had seen of other EZ* veterans' "used" planes.

By now I had some CA and repaired my fuselage. I also followed Sarge's pointers on the Canopy Mod. As he mentioned, once you wreck, its just not going to fit right anymore. I finally got around to painting my canopy as well (Testors Flat Black from my plastic model supplies).

After reading a few more thousand Megathread postings I began to see a recurring pattern of folks complaining about reversed servos. A lightbulb went off in my head. I turned my plane back on, pulled the elevator stick towards me, and the damn flap goes down! I didn't do a poor job of gluing my tail; I just didn't recognize a reversed elevator. I wasn't stupid--just dumb! I'll share the blame on this one with the slob that put my plane together.
(OK, now my rant is officially over)
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Old Jan 11, 2007, 11:15 PM
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Chantilly, VA
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Second Flight: 1/7/07

The family Christmas, some bad weather, and a post-Christmas bug kept me from flying for a couple of weeks as I repaired the EZ*. I found a decent sized park while I was out running errands on Saturday and snuck out of the house early Sunday before the wife and daughter woke up. The weather had been unseasonably warm, and the parks were far too crowded in the afternoon for me to fly so I figured a sunrise flight would be the safest.

All the aggravation of the last month melted away as the EZ* responded and forgave me for my feeble skills. There was something very satisfying about cutting the power and just gliding for wide expanses of the field. I finally understand what folks might mean about "pushing the envelope" as I found out by trial and error at what speeds and angles my EZ* might stall. I managed to keep the plane aloft for a couple of minutes at a time before I would stall and lose control. However, the landings were much gentler than the one described above! I only have one battery so I knew my time was limited. I need to spec out a 7-cell and figure out what kind of connectors I actually have to get more time.

Second dumbest thing all day: Realized on one sortie that I couldn't turn right. Basically had to spiral around with left turns only. After finally landing, I just happen to look down at the radio and notice that I had inadverdently slid the trim all the way over. I can't be the only noob to pull that stunt am I?

As the morning came to an end, I had a perfectly undamaged plane and decided to do "one more last one." This seems like a good opportunity to introduce myself to the Megathread with the dumbest thing of the day
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Old Jan 12, 2007, 12:19 AM
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Angels Camp, California
Joined Jan 2006
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sounds like things are coming together for you now.
A good habit to get into is to pre-flight the plane. Go over everything. See if the CG is correct, the servos move in the correct direction and that they move the right amount each way. No loose parts, etc.. Its so easy to think all is fine because it was last time.....but you bumped the tail getting it out of the car and its now loose. Things like that happen. A servo reversing switch moved by a child in the house or a friend who was looking at the radio. Or a screw came out of something. Get into the habit of preflight and it will save you down the road sometime.
You are learning a lot. Keep it up!
LannyG
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Old Jan 12, 2007, 01:56 AM
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The BA
Joined Oct 2006
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Looking at that nose damage reminds me to remind y’all that keeping the canopy on good and tight is necessary to provide the structural integrity needed to survive those lawn-dart maneuvers.
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Old Jan 12, 2007, 02:44 AM
dmt
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near Gangneung, Korea
Joined Jul 2004
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Sounds like you're teaching yourself to fly, which is indeed a painful process. Glad to hear you chose a surviveable plane and stuck with it long enough to taste some success. If it makes you feel any better, it took me years (at a rate of about one flight/crash every 6 months or so) before I was able to fly on my own!

You should check, among other things, that your controls are free (not binding, servos not complaining too much) and correct (moving in the proper directions in relation to your transmitter control inputs) before every flight. Before that, when you check your general aircraft condition, make sure that the cables are attached at both the servo and control horn end, the control horns are attached to the control surface, and the control surface hinge is undamaged (sounds complicated, but takes approximately two seconds to do, total!).

Here's my own preflight checklist, including field considerations, since i don't fly off a dedicated field (Not claiming it's perfected, but hopefully this will at least help you think about the issues involved for a safe and successful flight):

FIELD

1) Determine Flying Field
2) Check for Any Other RC Use -- if so, Check Frequencies
3) Consider Power Lines and radio frequency Transmitters or receivers
4) Determine Wind direction and speed, gusts if any
5) Locate Obstacles, Landing Area (consider surface condition and small obstacles) and Emergency Landing Areas ahead and to the sides
6) Consider thermaling and slope lift areas
(thermal signs include: birds, smoke, clouds, dark ground;
downdraft signals – open water, light ground, fresh vegetation, areas adjacent to updrafts)
7) Wind Flow patterns around obstructions
(7x height downwind of obstructions; upslope drafts, down-slope drafts, rotors)
8) Consider Angle of the Sun and other Visibility Considerations


Checklist -- EasyStar

PREFLIGHT

1) Check General Aircraft Condition (including control surfaces, cables and hinges)
2) Check Wings are Fully Inserted
3) Check Battery and Receiver are Secure and In Position in Cockpit
4) Check Approximate CG

5) Transmitter Setup and Activation
a. Antenna Down
b. Trims Set to Tabs
c. Motor Power set to Off
d. Transmitter Power ON
e. Transmitter Voltage Check

6) (hands clear of prop) Connect aircraft Battery to ESC, listen for beeps
7) Secure Cockpit Cover

8) From rear of aircraft, check Control Movement (free) and (correct) Direction
9) Check Motor Response (direction of rotation and power)

10) before first flight: Range Check at 35m (100’), repeat with Motor On
(slight range reduction possible)

BEFORE TAKEOFF

1) Fully Extend Antenna, re-check Transmitter ON, Voltage Good
2) Check All Clear (no people or other obstacles have entered the launch area)
3) Motor Power Full On
4) Launch Into Wind


AFTER LANDING

1) Aircraft battery disconnected
2) Transmitter Off
3) Antenna Down
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Old Jan 12, 2007, 02:54 AM
dmt
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Oh yeah, for the "Trims Set to Tabs" part above, I got the plane [over a number of flights] trimmed for a nice straight, not too steep, takeoff climb. It's also a reasonable trim for a glide if I turn the power off or inadvertantly lose power. I then used some WhiteOut correction fluid to make a dot on each trim lever, and then also right next to it on the scale that shows it's degree of movement. These are my "tabs". Before each flight, I just look down and make sure the trim levers are aligned with the white dots I made (that is, in proper position for takeoff or, in the event it would be needed, a power-off glide).

The advantage of using WhiteOut (or similar product) is that it's well visible and stays on a good while, but is easy to scrape off if you change your CG or motor, or plane that you use with that transmitter, etc.). Checking your trims set properly before your flight can save you a lot of misery! Only takes a second to check, maybe even less!
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Old Jan 12, 2007, 03:01 AM
dmt
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near Gangneung, Korea
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Oh yeah, another big lesson I learned is to keep the aircraft upwind of you if there is any wind more than the very lightest of breezes. If you let the aircraft get downwind of you, chances of losing it greatly increase.

(a downwind leg for the landing will be the first exception to that rule, and as you gain experience you may choose to fly downwind for various reasons, but as a beginner, keep it upwind).

And as a very beginning beginner, fly only on calm days for your first few flights. As you gain experience, comfort and skill, try flying in a light breeze and so on, gradually expanding the conditions you can fly in.

Good luck!
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Old Jan 12, 2007, 07:56 AM
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Chantilly, VA
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Wow, great feedback guys!
I'm definitely incorporating that preflight checklist into the one I found elsewhere. Heck its so simple I may just use that one! I did learn how important Field #8 (Sun location) was the hard way during the second flight. I lost half the field since the sun was so low in the sky.

Of course to clarify, my preflight check back in December...I did check my connections, I just didn't recognize that the action on the elevator versus my desired radio action would be...well, opposite

Although I've done two solo flights, I am looking for some folks to fly with. I've contacted some local people, but with a pregnant wife, I've had little luck on getting my own "playdates."
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Old Jan 21, 2007, 11:41 PM
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Chantilly, VA
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More Experience

The weather got much colder but fortunately dryer this weekend so once again, it was off to the park for an early morning flight. My 7 cell battery from cheapbatterypacks.com had arrived so I was looking forward to having more flying time as long as I could actually stay in the air (and out of the trees).

I thought it was a little breezy and even noticed that the clouds were hauling "posterior" across the sky but calmly went about my preflight. Once the EZ* left my hand and headed out over the soccer fields, it immediately got hit by a cross wind and pushed about 150 yards sideways before cartwheeling into the ground. Once I stepped out of my alcove and into open space, I could feel the wind. "Feel" is an understatement. It was freaking cold and a bit more substantial than a "little breeze."
Lesson Learned: Actually verifiy the mph on the local weather channel before leaving house

My fuse had cracked again, I wasn't properly clothed for the wind chill, so I decided to wait until Sunday. BTW, when I did tune in to the weather channel, there was a wind advisory 15-25 mph. Duh!

This morning was calmer as I threw the EZ* into the 0-5 mph wind. It wasn't flying well at all. The CG felt fine when static, but once in the air, the plane drifted. It had trouble turning to the right. I got treed again but fortunately only 8 feet up this time. My depth perception really sucks!

I took out the stock 6 cell battery and hoped that the extra cell of my new battery would help. I could feel the difference in the hand launch, and the EZ* performed better, but the turning to the right thing was coming and going. One of my sorties in which it was turning well was flawless. I circled around, did some 8's, and had a perfect landing within 20 feet of me. That was quite satisfying.

This time instead of pushing my luck I decided to go home with an intact plane. That was satisfying as well.

However, I do need a larger field...AEAJR is right about the 4 football fields. I've got the luxury of two and feel claustrophobic.
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Old Jan 22, 2007, 08:50 PM
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Northfield Ohio
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That sounds like my first flights with my Easy Star. I to had the reversed servo on the elevator. After my second failed attempt at flying and the nose broken off of my plane I placed a post on the web page of a group of guys that fly at the park I was flying at. One of the guys who has a Easy Star took me under his "wing" and helped me learn to fly. If it was not or him I may have thrown in the towel.
I now have a E-Starter and a Funny Park. But I still love to fly my bashed up Easy Star. It is a great flying plane. I was also having radio problems with the Hitec radio so I replaced it with a Spektrum DX6 and the problems went away.

Good luck with your Easy Star. If you could find someone in your area to give you a hand it would help a great deal.

Roger
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Old Jan 23, 2007, 11:12 AM
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Twin Cities, MN
Joined Feb 2006
287 Posts
congrats

Just a preface, I own both a slow stick and an easystar. I fly my slowstick more often than my easy. This thread continues to enforce in my mind the superiority of the easystar for self teaching. I will be excited to see the day that a new slowstick owner can dip the busted gearbox into a pot of boiling water and make it come out good as new. You don't yet realize the warded off frustration you may have had with a different first plane. All you needed was a little time and glue to do all of your repairs. I don't see people asking where to find replacement parts for E* often...thats because no replacement parts are needed.

Congrats on your string of initial learning flights. The only thing I might suggest for you is to download FMS for free and get a cheap controller and then download the easystar model. This is for the sole purpose of getting your orientation worked out. This causes many crashes at the beginning. You get confused which way is up, down, left and right.

My first flight with the easy was short lived as well, due to a backwards rudder, fortunatly I didnt have to head home with damage and got it figured out after the first crash, success after that...

Keep it up!
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Old Jan 23, 2007, 04:24 PM
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Joined Feb 2006
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If you have the rtf that I have it came with AM electronics.That was (I Think)part of my problem with the Easy Star.I had some great flights,but then sudden stalls or loss of control.I going to install fm gear in my new fuselage and try again.Me thinks there is a big difference in the kit and the RTF.Also I bought a MPX Space Scooter and had the same problem with the reversed rudder.But I got it straightened out and I HIGHLY recommend the Scooter RTF Kit,with better batteries than the stock that it comes with,I am using 1650s.Thank you and good night
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Old Jan 23, 2007, 09:28 PM
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Joined Dec 2005
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I just bought an RTF EZ from Tower and it came with the Hitec Neon SS FM frequency model radio, I am having a blast with this model! I have been taking my first real flying steps, after a bad experience witth a SS. This plane is alot of fun and tonite I flew in 20 MPH wind gusts but I must say that as a rookie I was taking a chance, so I didn't stay up long cuz I like to fly very low to the ground. Keep at it Controlled Fall, it gets better!
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