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Archive for December, 2012
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 31, 2012 @ 02:35 PM | 7,918 Views
Man oh man, this is one crazy year I'm glad to see go away.

The nice thing about a brand new year is the psychological relief of knowing the calendar has changed. With it comes the promise of a lot of new and/or changed things.

Will I finally get around to finishing my nearly complete R/C plane projects? I'd like to and I probably will, time and budget allowing. However, I can't recall ever having kept a New Year's resolution, so I'm not about to start now.

Perhaps I'll compromise and say that I promise to try and finish the projects.

Happy New Year, all!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 21, 2012 @ 09:42 AM | 8,385 Views
...and all I got was a lousy T-shirt.

Guess I'll have to send off the car payment after all!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 17, 2012 @ 01:25 PM | 8,042 Views
I had the genuine pleasure this past Saturday of participating in a terrific event at my club.

The Coachella Valley Radio Control Club near Palm Springs did a warbird fun fly to support Toys for Tots. The "landing fee" was a toy valued at $15 or less and a number of flyers from nearby Hemet swung by to share the fun.

I brought along a few recent RCGroups electric review subjects including the Microaces Focke-Wulf on the current Ezonemag.com home page. With me as well were the MyRCDesigns.com flat foam P-51 and P-40, the Yardbird RC Mini Su-30 pusher prop jet and the old E-flite P-47 I used as a test mule for a motor I reviewed for Nitroplanes. The only non-review model was a World Models P-51 electric in Bob Hoover racing trim, a rebuilt and upgraded model I blogged about a while back.

Nothing too elaborate and my Great Planes .25 Spitfire stayed at home with a bad battery in the field box.

However, I did very little flying and that was my intent.

I'd arranged to host some boys and staff from a nearby group home so that they could swing by to see the event. One of the staff is a friend of mine and she was more than happy to bring the kids over for a field trip. These terrific kids had never seen model aircraft of this caliber in operation, up to and including a turbine-powered Boomerang.

The looks on their faces, their inquisitive nature and the pure fun of the day made me stop and realize just how important R/C clubs can be. We all gave back to the community and we did so with joy. It was a day to remember and I'm looking into the possibility of having those kids back for their own event, including some buddy box training.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 13, 2012 @ 01:00 PM | 8,384 Views
...but hey, that's what makes it fun!

The magnificent technology which allows me to post this blog entry is something we now take for granted, but it really came through the other day on a search for a song I was certain I wouldn't find.

It was 1968, the year my dad bought some nice stereo components. I still have all but the speakers, in fact.

To me, the beat-all end-all of the bunch was the Sony TC-350 reel-to-reel tape deck. Stereo. Sound-on-sound. All solid state. Three heads so you could listen to recordings as they were being made. One of the inspirations for me to enter the broadcast industry later in life. Prior to the Sony, Dad had an enormous tube-powered Webcor portable reel-to-reel tape recorder he used for dictation when he worked as a newspaper photographer. Huge, heavy and it smelled like burning hair whenever it was running, that is, if it were even running in the first place. The motor worked fine; the amplifier was hit or miss. Mostly miss.

Fred Flintstone, meet your iPod.

Dad and I used to go to the public library to check out records. He'd spin them on the Garrard Synchro-Lab 95 turntable (probably the ultimate bachelor pad accessory back in the day) while rolling tape on the Sony.

Christmas music was always the most fun and the time of year when the Sony really got its workout.

Of all the music we ever transfered to tape, a somewhat strange version of "The Little Drummer Boy" became a personal favorite.

...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 13, 2012 @ 10:42 AM | 8,240 Views
I don't know how widespread the Circle K chain of convenience stores is across the US, but I know they're all over the place out my way.

Tucson sometimes has two at the same intersection, at least they did the last time I was there. Today, they probably have three per corner.

They are now selling a rather interesting impulse buy at the registers.

Syma 3.5-channel IR controlled coaxial helicopters.

Thirty bucks.

Of course, they have to go through such hype as "originally $99.99" which is actually printed on the box and "professional quality" on the signs.

I asked my buddy behind the counter how they were selling. As of this morning, they were on their fourth case of fifteen units.

I'm somewhat glad to hear that since a decent-flying little helicopter such as this one might well spark an interest in more advanced models. It's a far better machine than the $20 random example I reviewed, a review which asked whether or not a toy helicopter was a good introduction.

In the case of my dearly departed Picoo-Z clone, no. In the case of these little Syma specials, yes. They're even gyro stabilized. I wouldn't hand one of these to a small child, but an older child will probably forego the Xbox 360 for quite a while in order to fly his or her Syma.

However, I can't help but wonder how many parts requests are going to come into the local hobby shops.

It looks as if some Nine Eagles Draco or Solo Pro parts will fit if necessary, but that's a maybe. Helizone RC, for whom I just reviewed their V911-based Lightning Bird probably has parts; it looks to be the same as their Firebird.

Anyway, it would be interesting to revisit one of the sixty lucky owners at some future point to see how many have graduated to an SAB Goblin, a T-Rex 600 or some similar machine.

Gotta start somewhere!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 04, 2012 @ 01:52 PM | 8,467 Views
I got a kick out of getting a free plane from the free classifieds.

A cordial member of the RCGroups family who lives in my old home town was giving away an old plane. It was local pickup only...or it was going in the trash.

Fortunately, my brother still lives in the area and I arranged to have him pick it up. Our family got together for Thanksgiving and he brought it to the party.

She's grungy, but she's all there short of an rudder/elevator servo mounting stick inside of the fuselage and it's undamaged.

It's a box fuselage high-wing sport plane with an O.S. .25 up front, one which hadn't run in years.

Nevertheless, I have to say again that it's all there. The photos show it totally in as-received condition. The engine bearings were gummed up, but within a few minutes of these photos being taken, I'd managed to free up the bearings and carb with some after-run oil and WD-40. The glow plug is an ancient four-stroke and the prop an equally ancient Master Airscrew 9x6.

It also has oodles and gobs of compression.

Since I've been flying electrics almost exclusively as of late, I wasn't able to start the engine since the battery in my field box was too weak. I may have left it on the charger for too long and it's going to need replacing.

I plan to post some pictures once it's cleaned up and operational. I don't plan on recovering it since the covering's in good shape. I'll definitely have to install a slightly smaller fuel tank since it interferes with the nosewheel arm.

I still have the engine from a used, long-retired combat fighter. Same as the one in this model and I can tell you from experience that little sonofagun really hauled. I think this one will do so as well.

Stay tuned!