randall_l's blog View Details
Posted by randall_l | Oct 09, 2017 @ 05:17 PM | 2,858 Views
A while ago, I missed a catch with my GreenDog DLG (that's just what I called it) and dropped it on the vertical stabilizer, breaking it below the boom. I was going to wait and replace it during build season, but...

I really want to fly something better than my HK Versus, so repair it is. I'll deal with the extra weight.

With the rudder deflected, the stabilizer is held straight--and I added some tape for extra support while the epoxy that I massaged into the wound cures.

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Edit: Now that I've put it in the house, the natural lighting shows the damage better...

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Posted by randall_l | Sep 17, 2017 @ 04:32 PM | 2,453 Views
I had a collision with the family dog on Friday evening. I was picking up one of his toys when he blasted past me and the upswing of his head met with just below my funny bone. OWWW!!! Today wasn't bad, so I took some of the kiddies out--they've been wanting some air time.

The forecast was for wind and rain today--so far wind, but no rain.

Here's the group photo, taken after the fun and before the wind picked up too much.
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The GeeBee R3 had a rough landing, cracking the wing and breaking the fuselage, such is the risk with maidens. All the others came back without damage.

Posted by randall_l | Sep 10, 2017 @ 05:16 PM | 2,338 Views
The last few weeks I've done quite a few long waiting repairs.

First was the micro DLG from last year. It needed new rudder and elevator servos which had both developed some missing teeth--at centre. Fairly straight forward to remove the old ones and put in replacements.

Then the micro Alula from a few years ago that din't so much need repair as adjustment. I gave it a bit more down trim on the motor and it flies much better now. At least it did until I stalled it into the sand. I blew out the motor and it spins freely again, but I haven't flown it.

Then the Hobbyzone UMX J3 Cub from what seems like forever ago. I had added flaps and built a micro pod, similar to the FliteTest power pod that I had modified for my swappables (motor, rudder and elevator servos, pinouts for channels 4 and 5). Last week I took it for a go at first without the floats, which went fairly smooth, allowing me to get it trimmed. Then, I added the floats. It's a bit roll sensitive with those on, but was fine once I got used to it. Next will be some water take offs.

Also last weekend, I missed a catch up at the Dunes with my GreenDog and heavily creased the vertical stab. It'll be a replace, not a repair. It can wait.

Today, I split the pod (at the wing mount) of my HK Min DLG during an unintentionally hard launch. I got distracted and just gave it instead of taking it easy like I had been. Initially, I thought I had just hooked the launch. I didn't realize there was any...Continue Reading
Posted by randall_l | Aug 26, 2017 @ 01:09 PM | 2,514 Views
With all the ridiculousness of the MoT regulations, I've been reluctant to fly since my favourite ships are both more than 250g (and both DLGs). I had recently started flying at the local school yard, as it backs on to where I work and farm fields. Unfortunately, due to the wildfires and over watering, there are way too many mosquitoes there. I can literally slap my leg and kill a dozen.

So last night, we took the dog up to a place unofficially called "The Dunes", an area of crown scrub land on the edge of town. As we wandered around, I noticed some flat grassy spots (well, dead grass). I started checking them out and found a couple spots at least 1km away from anything where the ground wasn't too sandy.

This morning, I took the Versus up to retrim it after reducing the elevator throw a bit. Starting from the first hand toss, I noticed thermal activity. By the time I worked up to a full launch--yeouch am I out of practice--I almost couldn't keep out of thermals. I ended up rolling and flipping and messing with snapflaps and inverted flying--anything to lose altitude for the next round of trimming.

It's very much desert terrain--dusty and dry and prickly pear cactus everywhere, but what a thermal factory!

Posted by randall_l | Jun 28, 2016 @ 03:08 AM | 4,308 Views
With the arrival of the new servos for the Versus, I took the time to re-evaluate the electronics. It's a good thing too. The booster seemed like it was on the verge of failure.

I had noticed recently that it wasn't outputting the 4.97V-5.0V that I had become accustomed to seeing on my telemetry screen. It was above 4.8V so I wasn't concerned until tonight--funny story, at least to me...

I usually go to bed earlier so I can wake up early to putter or go flying before work. My wife comes in around 9:30PM and says she thinks she heard a rattler (Northern Pacific Rattlesnake). We have them in the area, but I've never seen one. Having a 4-year old, I immediately picked up my smartphone and googled it so my wife could confirm or dismiss her suspicion (yay YouTube)--but she's not sure either way. So, woken up with a startle, here I am...

Back on the booster subject, when I plugged the battery into the Versus tonight to reset the trims, it read 3.68V... What the? So, I removed it and tested with a fresh battery... 3.68V. Huh... Well, now that I know that these servos (ScannerRC 9103MG) can handle lower voltages, I took the opportunity to finally remove the booster from the equation. Now all my ships are 1S.

The question is going to be whether--now that I've had interrupted sleep--if I can wake up early enough to give it a few tosses in the morning before work.

EDIT: The answer is no, but that's the great thing about getting up early--it's optional.

Posted by randall_l | Jun 27, 2016 @ 09:04 AM | 3,926 Views
On the advice of my colleagues, I borrowed the canoe that hangs out in the wilds at work. No one left knows who it belonged to or where it came from. It's been there for just over 10 years.

It's a 17-foot Frontiersman, it's fibreglass and it's an awesome canoe. We took it to Crown Lake on Sunday and had a blast paddling around the lake. My daughter was reluctant at first after watching me tumble out of the in-laws canoe last weekend so it took some convincing.

Once she saw the 'forests' of plants on the lake floor, fish, water snakes (Garter snakes I think) and other wildlife, she was hooked. My wife even had to stand up at one point and the old Frontiersman was still stable.

From where we launched it we picked up a young female Mallard, who followed us around the lake and back to where we had set up. She hung around for a while, then swam off.

On the RC side, I decided to take the Aquaholic, Monsoon and Swamp Dawg. Once at the lake and we had started to unpack for the day, I realized that one very important item was missing--the mast for the monsoon--insert string of expletives here. Perfect weather for sailing too.

First out was the Swamp Dawg. It wasn't windy at that point and the lake was smooth, but on a straight run, the starboard side of the bow came up and it flipped over. There were fish jumping all over the place (Damselflies are mating), so it's possible that's what caused it. I can't think of anything else that would have caused it....Continue Reading
Posted by randall_l | Jun 21, 2016 @ 09:12 AM | 4,074 Views
Had a great weekend for RC.

On Saturday, I went to the park before my wife and daughter woke up for some Green Dog and Versus goodness. I hadn't fully secured the new vertical tail on the Versus so I could still do some manual trimming if needed. Turns out that it was a good thing as the tail came off, rather than snap in half. Darned long grass.

Later on, my daughter wanted to go to the park, so off we went. I got a few tosses on the mini-ELF and the Green Dog, but the weather was turning.

Sunday morning everything was wet from rain during the night, so I opted to save my shoes and socks from getting soaked. The clouds were clearing so I figured I'd get out in the afternoon after things dried up a bit.

Instead, we decided to go up to Barnes Lake for a picnic lunch. I'm glad I've got 4 chargers now, so it wasn't a problem getting all the packs I wanted charged in time.

I packed up the Aquaholic, Mini Trooper, Monsoon and Feiyu Tech FT009 (brushless). I meant to take the Swamp Dawg, but somehow forgot it.

We borrowed the in-laws canoe for the summer and strapped that to the roof as well. Off we went to the lake.

First thing was lunch. We tried out the new Coleman camp stove we bought for our summer excursions. I had expected it to be like pretty much every other camp stove I've seen--a circle of blue flame around the burner. But, there were no flames at all, just heat--weird.

After lunch, we decided to try out the canoe. It's a RAM-X...Continue Reading
Posted by randall_l | Jun 15, 2016 @ 07:06 AM | 4,075 Views
Yesterday morning, I managed to get to the park before work for a few tosses.

First up was the HK Mini-DLG. It's kind of nice to fly now that I've straightened out the ailerons again. Next, I finished trimming the cruise and float flight modes on the Green Dog.

Finally, I moved to the Versus. I did a couple overhand tosses to make sure it wasn't going to do anything crazy with no trimming. Then. I did a half-circle and just when I let go, a major migraine hit. I mean hard! I felt like someone had stuck steel spikes in my skull. I dropped to my knees and, straining to keep a hand on the transmitter and an eye open a bit and on the plane, got it down. Unfortunately, the way too watered and not frequently cut grass grabbed a wing tip and spun it around, causing the bottom part of the balsa tail break.

Once I got home, I took my usual migraine cocktail and sequestered myself in a dark quiet place for the day, not going to work. A major storm front moved through the area during the day and we got hail--that explains the migraine. I always get them when there's severe weather coming.

Of course, sleeping and resting all day meant that I didn't sleep at night. Burning a few hours of midnight oil, I replaced the tailset with one I had purchased from DLGJunkyard a while ago (Thank you!). It now weighs 288.2g AUW. I wasn't sure how initially, because I only removed 15.3g (3.5 from the tail and 15.3 from the nose--smaller battery) and it used to way 309.1g. Then, I remembered that I had replaced those crappy BlueBird BMS-306BB's with ScannerRC 9103MG's.

Looking forward to trying it out, but it won't be today. The wife took the car in to get repaired and didn't put me on for the loaner. We'll get that taken care of today.

Driving to the park before work, works for me. Once I get more planes, we'll see how keeping one or two at work goes.

Posted by randall_l | Jun 12, 2016 @ 08:40 PM | 4,196 Views
The weather cooperated for some DLG goodness today at the park before the wind picked up. My daughter was really excited to go with me.

I was taken aback--more like astounded, dumbfounded and thoroughly yell-from-the-rooftop joyous--when she did several near perfect right-handed tip launches of the left-handed FF DLG I built her last year.

All this time, I had thought that since she displays definite left-hand dominance, that she'd throw left handed too. It turns out she's exactly like me: write and fine control with the left hand and everything else with the right. She chickened out when I offered her my mini-ELF (with the 800mm wing now) to throw. I was hoping she'd take me up on it--maybe next time.

I managed to get launch and speed mode trimmed on the new program for the Green Dog. I really love the simplicity of it. I also love that all my DLGs will be the same, no trying to remember which ship has what different.

There was a birthday party over at the playground which kept my daughter away from that area of the park, definitely my gain. Just like me, she doesn't like large crowds. Our activities attracted quite a large crowd who fortunately kept their distance. Parents kept telling their kids to get back over to the party. I can't help it if gliders are so entrancing.

After a few launches with each the mini-ELF, HK Mini-DLG and Green Dog, it was time to get the catapult launch gun and glider out to run around the park shooting and throwing gliders to each other. Those EPP catapult gliders from HobbyKing are indestructible. I can't count the number of times it's been stepped on and it's still going strong.

Posted by randall_l | Jun 11, 2016 @ 07:10 PM | 4,269 Views
The weather so far today has been constantly in flux, so it's been a no-fly day. I have however, managed to stop all the leaks in the sprinkler system and mostly (local hardware store didn't have everything I needed) build a second pair of valves to separate food and decorative plants.

The closest to flying I think I'll get is finding a discus in the shop. It must have been fate that a local school was throwing it out a couple years ago and I decided to bring it home. This was before I got into DLG.

I'll use it to practice my steps. Slowly at first concentrating on foot work, then work on speed. As well as training my muscle memory (since it's 3+ times heavier than any DLG I own), I hope it will help build strength. I don't know why I didn't think of it before.

I had my wife act as coach, comparing my footwork against YouTube videos--I'm getting more repeatable.

I burned a couple hours of midnight oil last night, duplicating and rough tuning my new DLG program for the Versus and Green Dog. I was hoping to try it out. Maybe tomorrow.

Posted by randall_l | Jun 04, 2016 @ 11:05 AM | 4,812 Views
Ug. A bit sore last night and this morning. It was tough to sleep with the right side of my torso so sore. I felt like someone gave me some good punches to the side. I hope that's how proper technique is supposed to feel in the beginning. The last couple years it's been my shoulder and neck that were sore, but not this year.

It only took 41 launches this morning to trim out all the flight modes on the HK mini-DLG. It's turning into a decent flyer. I noticed that during full launches, there's some flutter from the covering, which wasn't very well done. I may have to redo that as well.

I like the new program. I've always had to think a bit with the one I've been using for the past year, but this new program is... instinctive. It may have helped that I put some heat shrink tube on the important switches: timer pause, launch, flight mode, and of lesser importance--vario mode. In fact, the only thing I remember about the radio this time is turning vario mode to reading altitude every 10 seconds.

One thing I need to add to the list of field-stuffs is water. I always seem to forget that and thirst cuts my flying sessions short.

By the time I got the HK mini-DLG flying decently I was already thirsty, but did a few tosses of the Green Dog anyway. Launches and flights were getting more sloppy each time, so I decided that it wasn't worth damaging my expensive plane and called it quits.

The rest of today will be installing a sprinkler system and packing for a work trip so no more flying for the next few days.

Posted by randall_l | Jun 03, 2016 @ 02:32 PM | 4,238 Views
Second day driving to the park in the morning. It helped that I took today off work so no rushing--gotta love banked time!

With me today were the Green Dog and Versus.

Of the 17 launches I got off with the Green Dog, I managed 6 QTs. I'm starting to be able to line it up where I can grab the peg, adjust my grip and launch without having to adjust my footing. I also managed my first 40m and 41m launches as well, so I'm fairly excited about that. Of course, I've only recently put the vario back in, so who knows what I've been getting for height. It definitely seemed higher today.

The wind started to pick up a little, so I switched over to the Versus for 14 flights before I noticed I was getting tired. Seven of those flights were from QTs. The Versus is a slower flyer, so it's easier to line it up and get a good grip. The peg is harder on my hand. The Green Dog has one of Eitan Ro's seagull pegs that I could launch all day with, but the Versus has the stock straight peg that I've sanded the edges round. I'm going to have some bruising.

My highest launch with the Versus today was 38m, lowest was 32. I noticed that my launches are higher off a QT than a standing launch.

It was a good day to test myself. My side hurts a bit from yesterday and that's how I developed the bad habit of using my arm to swing. I managed to keep it loose for the entire session today, so I'm happy about that.

The rest of my morning, I've spent essentially rebuilding the HK mini-DLG. I re-taped (using decent tape) the ailerons, adjusted the pull strings for rudder and elevator and glued the aileron servos in (removing the cruddy double-sided foam tape they used). I also started from scratch on the program for Taranis. I've checked out others on forums here, but they don't work the way I think and my current program isn't quite as flexible as I'd like it to be.

When I get it flying and tweaked, I'll post the program for anyone who wants to take a look.

Posted by randall_l | Jun 02, 2016 @ 11:11 AM | 3,970 Views
Today was the first try of the drive-to-field, fly, drive-home, pack-up, cycle-to-work method.

I got to the park at around 6:25 and flew until 7:08 with around 22 launches on the Versus and 7 launches on the mini-ELF.

It was a bit cool and mosquitoes were out, so I had to wear a jacket. It's amazing how much that affects launch height. With the jacket on, I was doing 26-28m. After I took it off, I was back to 36-37m.

Thanks to the easy tracking of the brilliant orange launch pegs (Thanks again Bruce Davidson for the idea), I managed my first clumsy QTs. On the first one, I lined it up just about perfectly, but had to take a couple steps to get my feet in the right position. The second one, I slipped on the wet grass causing me to hook the launch. The third one (I was getting tired), I just about tripped over my own feet. It's a start.

I was getting tired around 5-to-7:00, so I switched to the mini-ELF. Normally, I only do 180-turns to launch it, since it's mostly Depron, with 1/32" ply and CF strip for reinforcement. Today, I was doing full-turns and getting some good height too--around 25-26m. On the 7th launch, the wing folded and broke away immediately after I let go. Fortunately, I still had control and guided the fuselage turned lawn-dart to a soft landing and no damage was done to it. The wing ended up a few steps from the fuselage, but I carried it and dropped it next to the fuselage for the photo.

Home I went. My shoes, socks and pant legs were soaked from the morning dew on the grass--possibly also leftover water from sprinklers. I had enough time to change into some dry clothes before leaving for work.

I'd say that it worked fairly well for me. The other method will require me to keep a change of clothes at work, but we'll see how that goes next week. I want to try this method a couple more times before I change things up.

Posted by randall_l | May 31, 2016 @ 09:23 AM | 4,537 Views
Sitting at my kitchen table, browsing and responding to RCG threads and watching as the sun moves shadows across the floor I suddenly think, "You idiot! You should be out flying!"

As the mornings get earlier and I sit wasting time before work (if I go out to the shop, I'll get busy and be late for work), there comes a point where there's enough time that I could throw some planes in the trunk and head to the park for some launch practice before work. That point was yesterday.

It would have been easy to do that today, as I was finishing up breakfast at 5:45am... ready for work and to the park by 6:15... head home at 7:20... leave for work (I cycle to work) at 7:40... or...

Just a stream of consciousness here...

Even better would be to get a rear rack for my bicycle and make a plane holder for it--but it's a minimum 5% grade up to the park, 3km. I'd be exhausted by the time I got to the park, 20 minutes later. Electric assist maybe? Hmmm.

Definitely would be more efficient to cycle to the park, since it's that same minimum 5% grade down to work. No--I don't like the idea of travelling so much with my plane(s) on the outside of a vehicle--too much risk for how much they mean to me.

Or, I could keep a plane (or two) and radio at work and leave early. Fifteen minute cycle to work and it's only a quick jaunt (3 minutes) up the hill from work to the secondary school field... but the park is so much bigger... but the school is next to work and backs on to farm field... what to do.

Obviously the thing to do is to try out both and see what works best.

I'm going to need more planes if I'm going to be leaving one (or some) at work.

Posted by randall_l | May 30, 2016 @ 09:02 AM | 3,873 Views
I recently purchased a couple of video sets from RadioCarbonArt, namely the HLG Master Class set and the Thermal Soaring set.

The HLG Master Class set came bundled with Secrets of Thermals and the Thermal Soaring set came bundled with High Performance Thermal Soaring.

Paul Naton put a lot of effort into those videos and I'm better for purchasing them. Thank you.

That said, I'd like to share my novice thoughts, starting with the Thermal Soaring set.

The first 35 minutes of the first part of the High Performance Thermal Soaring video seemed like a summary of the Thermal Soaring Master Class. The second segment of the videos with David Hobby, while entertaining, didn't teach me anything that I hadn't already learned from here on RCGroups and up in the air.

The Thermal Soaring Master Class was hard to watch. It was long and dry--and didn't really increase my understanding of thermal activity more than the first segment of High Performance Thermal Soaring did. I think that's partially because it was hard to watch. One positive thing I learned from the class was to head back upwind when trying to get out of a boomer--could have used that bit of knowledge last year.

Now, on to the HLG Master Class set.

Produced in 2009, the HLG Master Class is a bit dated. Bruce Davidson gives some advice that's contrary to GT's Initial Programming of a DLG thread, namely differential and aileron-to-rudder-mixing. I tried it over the last couple weeks and let's just say...Continue Reading
Posted by randall_l | May 29, 2016 @ 04:06 PM | 4,007 Views
There haven't been too many opportunities to fly recently. Fortunately, the past couple weekends have been among them.

Last weekend, I got a few flights with both the HK mini-DLG and Versus before the wind picked up too much to be safe.

Yesterday, I took the HK mini-DLG, Versus and Green Dog with me, but only flew the first two. I'm really not impressed with the handling of the HK mini-DLG--I think it's going to become a hangar queen.

Today, I took the the mini ELF, Versus and Green Dog and got to fly all three before it started to sprinkle. I've been trying to correct the bad habit of keeping my arm stiff while launching. It started when my side hurt from a long sessin last season and stuck.

As a result, I'm in the upper 30's (36m average the last two days). As I lose the weight I gained over winter, I hope to increase from there.

Posted by randall_l | Feb 14, 2016 @ 07:52 PM | 4,970 Views
There was an opportunity today to head to the park for some fun in the sun, so off we went.

My wife went with us today, so we all played for a while, then I took a break and flew my new Mini-DLG (with ailerons) from HobbyKing. It's not great and I would have preferred that it came as a kit--mostly because I've had to rebuild most of it and it would have been easier to do it during the build process.

The first changes were to convert it to pull/spring and add a rudder and lighter (and stronger with better balsa) vertical stabilizer. Next, I straightened the warped ailerons and repaired some of the non-stuck covering.

It flies okay, but it would be better suited to slope soaring than DLG--it's too heavy. With the changes I made, it's 6g lighter than stock. I'm sure I could lighten a kit more.

Next was time to take the Turnigy Mini-Trooper for a spin. It's a great way to tire my daughter out while she chases it. She occasionally stops and asks me to drive the truck between her feet.

It's been great so far, I'm really impressed with the torment that it has taken. It's completely understandable that the point of impact during a full-throttle drift turn, turned curb-check broke the rear right hub carrier and bent the dogbone.

I've been looking for an opportunity to order some aluminum parts anyway.

Also on my recent acquisition list are a Monsoon sailboat, Bat-1 land yacht and an Aquaholic. Now my daughter wants her own truck and boat so there's another excuse to place an order--this time with the wife's approval.

During a recent trip into town, I picked up a 40W solar panel and a sleeping bag. I've also ordered a DC-DC converter to take the solar panel down to 12V and made adapters to plug in a charger. The plan is to get some camping gear and a canoe and head out to local lakes this summer. I'm really looking forward to getting out there and having an array of RC things to do.

Posted by randall_l | May 10, 2015 @ 02:18 PM | 4,789 Views
It's that time of year again...

Same weather as last year: warm, sunny with a hint of cloud. There were a couple more AT-6's and a couple of Yak 52's as well as the former Mayor's Yak 18T and a bunch of civil aircraft (a Bellanca Citabria, some Cessna's and Pipers).

I think I've lost a lot of passion for powered aircraft. I ended up watching the eagles, hawks and crows thermalling over the nearby landfill. They were much more interesting to watch. Loop, roll, Immelman, whoop-dee-doo... try cutting the power and see how well you do!

My daughter said to me, "Can we just go to the park and have our own air show?" I love her so much for saying that!

Posted by randall_l | Feb 13, 2015 @ 10:01 AM | 6,390 Views
I just couldn't resist anymore!

In a moment of weakness, I set up a card table in an unused part of the upstairs and started working on the new glider. Taking a break, I checked RCG and saw the news post about E-flite's Whipit.

I've always had a fascination with small planes--most of the one's I've built are sub-700mm. In the past year, I've started building lighter and lighter models.

So, I took the Whipit as a challenge--to build one of my own. All that's left is to make a cover for the pod, which I already have a foam-core covered with clay drying.

Name: Chukar (Ironically after birds that would rather run than fly)
Wingspan: 638mm
Length: 468mm
Flying Weight: 34.4g without pod cover
Electronics: frSky VD5M receiver, 2x HK-5320 servos (ailerons), 2x HK-5330 servos (rudder, elevator), 160mAh 1S LiPo

Construction: Balsa and packing tape for the pod, wing and tail set. The boom is paper drinking straws with a plastic drinking straws glued inside for extra rigidity. The wing is held on with 2, M3 nylon bolts and is as close as I can get by eye to a Zone V2 airfoil.

It's only had a couple tosses inside so far, but glides much better than I had hoped. A light toss took it the entire length of the house (around 40-feet) with an almost indiscernible loss of altitude. It scared the heck out of me when it hit the window frame--I was expecting a much higher rate of descent.

I may take it to the park this weekend if the weather's nice and it's not a muddy mess. It'll take another few days for the clay to fully dry before I can begin sanding the plug down for the pod cover.

Posted by randall_l | Dec 22, 2014 @ 10:34 PM | 6,047 Views
Sunday was the first day since the end of September that I was able to take some "me" time. Even though it was only for an hour, it was great to get out of the house and back in the air.

My companions were Junior and the Old Fogey. The goal was some relaxing sky tootling without much risk of the Oops! factor--mission accomplished. It's been years since I went more than a few days without flying and I was getting a bit grumpy. Not good timing with Christmas a few days away.

Not much modelling going on without my shop being set up, but there are more urgent things to deal with in the new house. If I get desperate in the colder weather, I'll borrow an unused room until spring.

Happy flying and Merry Christmas!