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Posted by schrederman | Dec 24, 2012 @ 10:55 PM | 26,805 Views
We are alone this year. Our 3 children have things set up so that this year they are with their in-laws for Christmas, but were all here at Thanksgiving. So, sitting here after giving Dee Dee her gift, I was just thinking about this crazy hobby. I had just read a bit more about the Houston Hawk and the most recent build. It just won't die... But... that's not a bad thing. It's really amazing when I think about it. It all came down from my own impatience. I wanted others to have the satisfaction of flying their own creations, but they seemed to lack the confidence to try. My mission in that project was to give others the skills and confidence to build their own. Probably the most striking of these was AJ... as he had never built a model before. We, as a club, got him through it, and he is still flying #2 in Houston on a regular basis.

I didn't plan for this to make me well-known, or (in)famous in the R C Soaring world, etc... but that came about through these forums. It happened... I have friends, though I've never laid eyes on some of them, all over the world. Others I've flown with in my moving around I miss a lot. This part has been completely rewarding. I remember my friend Chuck in Houston telling me that this was a big deal. I dismissed that at the time. However, when I arrive at a new field, and introduce myself, and someone says... " Oh, I know who you are..." and vigorously pumps my arm with a smile... well, it finally sinks in.

How many of you could help others in the same way? Pass the baton along so everyone will not be flying just what the ARF manufacturers will put out. Think you can't design...? Have you tried...? Give it a whirl... I had just about given up on the Journey and El Jefe, but tonight my fond thoughts of my good friends has spurred me on... It's the BEST!!! That feeling of having good friends....
Posted by schrederman | Oct 23, 2012 @ 05:18 PM | 26,300 Views
We have moved and been in our new home for a month or so. I have decked our attic and we are beginning to actually be able to see the garage floor! Seriously, we have a lot to do to be settled, but I took a break this past weekend to attend TNT and see a lot of friends. It's always great to see everyone. A man isn't much if he doesn't have friends...

My niche in the hobby world always seems to revolve around building, and designing. Admittedly, I am not much of a designer. I am OK at seeing other folks ideas and incorporating them into my stuff. I have been exposed to some of the best ideas, going alll the way back into the '70s. That has given me some level of infamy... but more importantly... made me a lot of friends...

Todays materials and techniques are really beyond the scope of the average builder, but some of this stuff is actually quite doable. So, don't be surprised if you see me out with some new stuff. Granted, it will not be finished models, but parts, short kits, etc. should be available within a couple of years... or...

I was musing about fuselage designs while at the TNT, and it kind of hit me. A kit manufacturer back in the '80s made some stuff that the builders all loved. The models had a hybrid glass/wood fuselage and they flew well, looked good, and seemed to last. With todays materials, and some of todays techniques, this form of fuselage would be a fit... maybe...

Anyway, look for a build thread early next year for the wood version of the Houston Hawk fuselage... and who knows what after that...
Posted by schrederman | Jul 31, 2012 @ 06:41 PM | 26,409 Views
Hello sports fans.... Well, my job sorta went south on me. As of 7-16-2012, I'm a technician again. I retreated by my own choice and I'm currently working 15-hour days and living in my RV in Weatherford, Texas... and driving back to Amarillo on weekends to mow and pick up a load to place in storage. The wife is packing all her books so my truck was squatted a bit coming back Sunday. I had wanted to remain a Telecom Manager until I retire in about 5 years, but my BS meter got pegged a couple of times... and the last time was all I could stand. It would be a bit of a cut in pay without overtime, but there's so much to do that I will not suffer loss... if I can hold up to the hours... Well, I'm actually working less hours, but actually working. After 17 years as a manager, this took quite a few in our upper management by surprise... but the peace of mind is well worth it... I actually look forward to coming in each day... I'll be back to building and flying soon... Someone need a home in Amarillo with a 7-acre home flying field?
Posted by schrederman | Jan 17, 2011 @ 10:45 PM | 28,683 Views
Being a telecommunications professional... and a technician... I was a little skeptical when the manufacturers came out with this new-fangled 2.4GHz stuff... We use a lot of frequency-hopping 2.4 and 5.8 GHz equipment where I work, and we DO get interference, sometimes. I have to say that it was hard for me to give up old reliable... my JR XP-9303 on 72MHz... and all those trusted receivers, but the time came. I found a SD-10-G from Airtronics a few months ago at a good price, and jumped on it. I was horrified when I heard about the problems at the NATS. Was it no good?

I finally decided to either sell the 9303 and buy some Rxs or sell the SD-10 and forget about 2.4 for a while. The 9303 went up for sale. I got enough out of it to buy 3 of the new 6-channel Rxs that are FHHS-3, and then of course work happened. I finally had the time and weather to get deeply into this over the past weekend. I have to say, it's an adventure going from one programming scheme that you're used to... to another. However, I've flown all my models on this wonder of the marvelous modern age... and I love this thing!

That being said, if you're just getting into this portion of the hobby, there isn't a much better radio for you than the JR 9303... that's now the 9503 if you buy new. Great deals can be had on gently-used 9303s, even the 2.4 models. I paid $579- for mine about 3 years ago, and sold it with some Rxs for $250- shipped... and it could be converted to 2.4 easily and cheaply...

I am glad I picked the new Airtronics. I like the fact that I'm not looking for a spot to place a satellite Rx... and that as my amigo Dan put it... it's Marine proof...... It's a great radio for the money... Enjoy!
Posted by schrederman | Jul 13, 2009 @ 10:09 AM | 31,149 Views
It's Mid-July, and my throat is dry, and... no, that's not the subject of this.

I first got back into this seriously in early 2000, after piddling with it, and flying full-scale gliders for 20 years. When I first started in the early '70s, my first glider was a Windfree. So, I had decided that's where I would start again. I bought a laser-cut Windfree kit and built it. I had been thinking about this for some time and so I modified it slightly. I extended the top sheeting 1" further aft of the spar. It seemed to improve the performance somewhat.

Over the next few years, I progressed rapidly in the hobby, and I wanted to get my (now deceased) brother involved again. We had flown R/C sailplanes together some in the '70s. I was, at the time, the president of the Houston Hawks, a post he had held in the '70s. I was trying everything I could to get the membership up. I gave him the Windfree. To make a long story short, his widow gave it back to me after he passed away.

I have had it all this time and put it away, not thinking about it much. The rudder and 1 stab were slightly damaged, and the Monokote had loosened up, and it was pretty dirty. So, on a hot, windy Sunday afternoon, I was looking through some pictures, and came across a picture of my brother with this model. Just on that whim, I went and got this model down, cleaned, repaired and reshrunk it, checked the wing for warps and proper washout, and installed the radio gear. I still had the servos and receiver...Continue Reading
Posted by schrederman | Mar 16, 2009 @ 11:26 AM | 31,722 Views
Once upon a time, there was a glider boom... It was the '70s and sailplane popularity rose to unprecedented hights. This was spurred on by the likes of Lee Renaud, Cecil Haga, Ed Slobod, Hugh Stock, Mark Smith, Bob Dodgson, and many others. There were many choices available, and everyone that flew, had to learn to build. Recently I learned how many kits were sold in that era and it's staggering. However, along came bagged wings, molded models, and ARFs in general. There are holdouts, in fact quite a few of us, but enough to support a new kit business? I think not. With the few kit manufacturers left, the builders have fewer choices than in the past, but the market just isn't there. Now, if a modeller wnats to build something that's not available, he either designs and builds it, or orders plans and scratches it out.

The new modellers, and in fact, the majority of the old modellers no longer want to build. Many won't even install radio gear in their new moldies. They buy it and have it shipped to someone that will do that for them. That's not some kind of negative remark, just the facts... that's just the way it is. In the olden days, the builders would modify kits in the process of building, and some of those mods became improvements that we all enjoyed. Now, with moldies, if you modify it, you get labeled as some kind of nut... See some of the "winglet" thread comments if you don't believe this.

The unfortunate piece of this is that innovation suffers. When...Continue Reading
Posted by schrederman | Mar 07, 2009 @ 09:01 PM | 32,659 Views
Well, I have to admit that I wasn't all that impressed with my first molded sailplane. I had a built-up ARF that I liked just as well at half the money. I had a Dragonfly Strong that flew at least as well as my Onyx JW. Unfortunately, at first I made the mistake of judging all moldies by this one. I was ready to give up on the molded model thing all together. Then I had an epiphany as I was remembering the old days of Legionairs, Grand Esprits, and some of the other stuff. It was obvious then that some models fit my flying style and some just didn't. I remember guys talking about how great their Vikings were, but I built one and flew it 10 times, before selling it. It was a fine sailplane, but I didn't like it.

Flash forward to 2008 and I placed my Onyx JW up for sale. I thought I would maybe try the hottest brand going and see if I liked it better. I crashed it instead... Amazingly enough, I almost crashed the new Xplorer right out of the box. I had tried hard to diagnose what happened to my JW and thought I had a wiring chafe. It turned out to be a bad servo on the right aileron, and I had installed the same thing in my new Xplorer. I got lucky. On the first launch, I could tell I had everything very close to right. I flew for 25 minutes from a 150' launch. However when I touched down, the right aileron went full down and locked. When the JW crashed, it had entered a left turn that I couldn't coax it out of... and it went in hard from about 100'. Well, I went through my...Continue Reading
Posted by schrederman | Oct 23, 2008 @ 09:57 PM | 32,547 Views
Unfortunately, I have the largest, most complex territory of the 22 people within my company that share my title. It encompasses West Texas and most of New Mexico. Double track and all, it encompasses about 3,000 miles of railroad. Luckily that is shrinking. I am losing most of New Mexico and El Paso. That being said, I expect to have time to build some this winter. I have a large tower project to complete prior to turning over my favorite, and yet most hated, portion of my territory to a new guy...(poor sap).

So, on to projects. I have a Houston Hawk almost finished, (rebuilt from the blue one I was flying in Houston). I have a Super-V fuselage and a Houston Hawk rib/web set. Looks like those will be married up for a V-Hawk with a flat center section and ailerons, and I'm retaining the spoilers. I have a Legionair 132 and a Grand Esprit. I have a Soarcraft Libelle kit with no ribs. I have a PIK 20 fuselage with plans and canopy.

And to top it all off, I have 2 new designs done that I am jumping up and down about. Journey is a slightly larger, stronger version of the Yardbird. It has a slightly longer wing with increased area and chord. I'll probably use one of Mike Lachowski's Supra fuselages with this one. Then there's El Jefe, (the Boss in Espanol), is done in concept. This is a true builder's model. I will be doing the forward fuselage somewhat like Bob Dodgson's Windsong, but tapering and rounding down so a boom can be plugged on. That will allow for airfoil...Continue Reading
Posted by schrederman | Jun 08, 2008 @ 09:59 PM | 33,668 Views
I built many of these models. I lived pretty close to the designer and kit manufacturer, Cecil Haga. These models were large area, thin airfoiled models that flew well if built light. However, I saw more that one of them that just didn't fly worth squat! Without exception, these models all had decalage problems. Setting the stab absolutely parallel to the flat surface of the wing behind the spar was the most critical part of building these models. On my later personal models, I set the stab with 1/2 degree less positive decalage than the designer called for. They were almost 0/0, but not quite. After all was said and done, I then trimmed the flight mode of these models by removing nose weight until they were pretty squirrilley, and then I added back 1/4 to 1/2 oz. I never tripped this airfoil. I could climb with just about anyone and out climb most.

Another secret that I learned quite by accident... Blunt the leading edges, slightly... ie... make the leading edge radius slightly larger and use 1/4 sq. instead of the 1/8 X 1/4 of the original. If this is done, the tail saddle will have to be modified to give no more than 1 degree positive decalage, and the trimming by CG will have to take place all over again.

Trimming by CG... what? Here's how... Measure from the CENTER of the leading edge radius and the trailing edge of the wing to the table. Continue to move stuff around until the centers are equal distance from the table. With the wing at 0 degrees with the table,...Continue Reading
Posted by schrederman | Jun 07, 2008 @ 12:49 PM | 33,499 Views
I have seen a lot of change in my life, due to my profession. We have gone from rotatry-dial phones to cell phones, and from 6 MHz wide, analog television stations to digital video and audio. I have personally gone from flying an E-K Logictrol Ranger, 3-channel radio to a JR 9303. I resisted the moldie movement a bit, but not really. I am still convinced that an accurately-built wood wing with some carbon enhancements can be competitive. While I lament that most of us don't design and build anymore, I am not someone that seriously bashes those non-builders. Tease them a bit, yes... but they always know it's not serious.

Take, for instance, the Houston Hawk. From conceptual talks to full-size CAD plots, one week in the making. My original is still the best flying model I own. It has, at the time of this writing, 261.5 flight hours, and 1401 launches. It has been crashed and repaired twice. It is competitive, though that was not really it's purpose when it was designed. When I went to Houston, I was surprised to find the old Hawks club to be just a shadow of it's former glory. Being a prolific builder, it became habit for many to gather at the back of my vehicle to see if I was dragging out something new. That led to a club building project. That's what the Hawk was... a teaching tool. We had 17 people in my garage for a wing-building session. A teaching tool... yes, but it is competitive, too, and it has proven itself.

Progress... ah, progress.... How far we've come!...Continue Reading