DismayingObservation's blog View Details
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 06, 2019 @ 09:06 PM | 673 Views
You'd think that cleaning old castor oil off a glow engine would be no big deal, right? Conventional wisdom states that the engine be torn down and baked in a crock pot full of antifreeze.

Thanks to a thread here at RCG, I solved the problem for a buck.

A concentrated spray cleaner is sold at Dollar Tree under the unlikely brand of LA's Totally Awesome.

Guess what? It is. Some of that cleaner with help from an old toothbrush cleaned the O.S. .25 on the Spitfire like new! It also did an incredible job of cleaning the little "rat plane" .25 high wing in my last blog. I'm going to buy an soft scrub brush and really give it a once-over.

The FlyFly Duke build is proceeding nicely and I was reminded of a couple of things. For starters, I recall scrounging the main retracts for use in another model after they both stopped working. The ones from the crashed model worked fine and just for looks, I'm using the three new struts from the kit.

One of the motor cowls had a small chip in the paint; the inspection number is from the review model. I used one from the kit for looks so that there wasn't a little white spot jumping out in the photos. Some small disc magnets from Harbor Freight will hold those cowls in place once I get the ESCs. The magnets work perfectly!

Photos on the way. Getting these models ready has been a ton of fun so far!
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 02, 2019 @ 07:16 PM | 833 Views
While waiting for the parts for the FlyFly Duke about which I've recently blogged, I decided to do another project which has turned into two!

By the way, it was a failure of one of the ESCs which led to the crash of the first Duke. The signal wire and its PC board pad lifted clean off the board and there's no trace. Besides, something caused the problem in the first place, right?

Project number one is a Great Planes .25 Spitfire sport plane with its inverted O.S. Max 25. I bought the airframe after I stuffed in my Nitroplanes Zero and I haven't flown it in many a year.

It's complete down to the Futaba FASST receiver which somehow avoided being scrounged for another model at some point. The carb is now free and parts to complete it are on order.

The big news is the mystery .25 which I got several years ago from an RCG poster. It was either come and get it or it's going in the trash! The OP lived near my brother who picked it up and brought it to me. Prior to today, I hadn't even tried to clean it. Fabuloso is great stuff if you don't mind a model which smells like lavender potpourri and old wood...but it isn't quite strong enough in diluted form to cut the crud on this poor little plane. The engine has like-new compression and a freely moving carb. I'm going to keep the "rat rod patina" but I'll replace all of the hardware, install a fuel tank and install new electronics. The airframe is wonderfully solid and well built. A friend sent me a couple of stickers which depict a truly bizarre online cartoon character which can be found here. One might find its way onto the wing, but we'll see.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 29, 2019 @ 06:41 PM | 984 Views
Normally, blogging about the assembly of a foam model would be something I probably wouldn't do. In the case of my new/old FlyFly Beechcraft Duke originally from RC Aerodyne, it's interesting to see how far such models have come in the last few years.

It's an interesting mix of nice molding, not so nice wooden parts and just plain bad instructions. The paint job is nowhere near the quality of a Horizon or Multiplex product, let alone the nice paint jobs which have been appearing on HobbyKing offerings. Let's just say it's stand-off scale. Way off.

In fairness, RC Aerodyne had the ARF versions with retracts done at the factory and the manual didn't reflect that. Even so, it didn't show such important details as the orientation of the motor firewalls. Found a photo on an old Duke build log right here on RCG and sho'nuff, I did it right! I checked using the surviving cowl from the wreck and the prop shafts lined up perfectly.

Since the photo below was taken showing the completed fuselage and partially complete wing halves, the wing has been joined and it's nearly complete. I have some E-flite 50-amp ESCs on backorder. Those should be here in a couple of weeks as will my new Callie Graphics decal set!

This model is being assembled with far greater care than the review unit and it will feature such niceties as magnetically attached nacelle tops. The kit came with eight disc magnets which are perfect fits in the dimples between the tops and bottoms. I hadn't noticed them until just yesterday! The rear of the tops are held by the magnets and the fronts are held by the firewalls and cowls. The cowls look as if they can be attached magnetically as well, so I'll play with that. Worst case would be having to attach them with a bit of foam glue.

I have a pair of nav lights from an FMS warbird, but they glow steadily and don't flash like those on a civilian aircraft might. I'll get some E-flite LEDs so that I can plug them into the E-flite controller I bought.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 22, 2019 @ 05:57 PM | 735 Views
The instruction manual for these models is, at best, a guideline. Lots of out-of-the-box thinking is a must when assembling one.

So, I took it upon myself to wire together the tail before attaching the forward halves of the fuselage. Since taking this picture, I've completed the entire fuselage save for a few minor details. I changed out the ez-connector on the rudder left over from the wrecked Duke to a new/old Great Planes part. Much better setup which does a superb job of holding the pushrod in place. It was slipping through the original no matter how tight I cinched down the setscrew.

The really alarming thing was the poor quality adhesive used by the factory. I'm surprised the thing didn't self-destruct in midair!

This is no longer a problem.

Fresh thirty-minute epoxy is the main adhesive of choice and it's all going together nicely. Lots more to tell soon!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 11, 2019 @ 05:51 PM | 7,846 Views
...all is not lost.

The model in question is the FlyFly Hobby Beechcraft Duke B60 once sold by the great folks at RC Aerodyne in Kent, Washington. The original review is here.

The first flight that day was on the same old 2DogRC.com packs from the original review. The second was on two newer packs, but which I knew were in questionable condition. Turns out I should have listened to that little voice in my head because one of the batteries cut out early turning from base to final and caused this wonderful model to spiral in. Ker-splat. So close, yet so far.

Here's the good news.

RC Aerodyne mistakenly sent a kit version without the electronics. The model in the review is the PNP version which was forwarded as a replacement. Shipping the first kit back would have cost a fortune; RC Aerodyne let me keep it! Since then, it's been in the box in case the unimaginable were to happen. Turns out it did.

Since the review was published, no one seems to carry the model anymore, let alone replacement parts.

Rather than fly a glue bomb, I made the decision to strip the electronics from the crashed model for use in the new one. FlyFly did, quite honestly, a horrible job of opening up the holes at the tail for the twin elevator servos and single rudder servo. Good thing the openings were hidden since they looked as if they'd been done with a dull butter knife.

Except for a couple of decals I stole from the kit's decal sheet, it's a complete kit which includes a bunch of extra hardware, almost none of which are for the model.

That decal sheet is going to be mailed to the one and only Callie Soden of Callie Graphics and some spare LED nav lights are going in the wingtips. The ridiculous multicolored LED serving as a tail beacon will be replaced by a proper unit.

I have one chance to get this one right, so wish me luck!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 05, 2019 @ 06:59 PM | 11,260 Views
I mentioned in my last blog that I was the proud new owner of two old ParkZone airplanes, a P-51 and a first-generation Cub.

Since then, I had to give back the models.

Until recently.

A communication breakdown led me return them to the fellow who sold them to me who in turn returned them to the local hobby shop. That is, until I got a call last week.

The hobby shop and the original owner (I think) didn't want them! So, they were given back to me. El freebo!

The photo below shows the P-51 after its first flight while in my possession. I didn't fly the models when I had them the first time. Honestly, I don't know why Horizon discontinued this model. Sure, it'd be yet another P-51D if they did, but this model with landing gear, optional retracts and in receiver-ready trim would be a blast. This is one fast little bird on a simple 1300mAh 3S li-po! It handles and flies very well, despite a 27MHz FM radio. Yessiree, here is a prime example of the transition from PPM to spread spectrum and it works beautifully.

I may or may not switch over to, say, a Taranis, but the model is such a nice, original, low-time example that I'm really loath to do so.

Next up will be the Cub. Total flashback for me; my second ever R/C plane was one of these. I'll have to run it off of a 2S li-po. Carefully.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Dec 26, 2018 @ 07:07 PM | 42,458 Views
I admit it.

I was a bit spooked to send up the rebuilt Sparrow after its masterful repairing at the hand of its builder; see my previous blog if you wish.

Original plans called for the reinstallation of a simple sport radio, but the elevator interfered with the newly rebuilt and extended rudder. On top of that, the pushrods were flexing excessively. In went a Hitec Optima receiver bound to a Hitec Flash 8 radio. I programmed both surfaces with as much throw as I could manage and tossed in a bit of exponential as well.

When it took off from the runway at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club, it did so with sheer beauty. Plenty of power, but by no means is it a speed demon. It's much like flying a powered glider and I'm looking forward to taking it up again soon. It landed like a glider, too. I didn't think Anakin wanted to come down!

A visit to the field the next day came complete with what I thought were free models on the free stuff table, a table which netted me about 20 nine-gram servos and some servoless retract mechanisms a couple of weeks prior. Instead, these newest additions to the hangar were very low cost, sold by a friend of mine. Thirty bucks for the pair of old ParkZone models in the photo below. That little J-3 Cub, identical to the second R/C plane I ever owned and wore out, is in outstanding condition other than a bit of fading. It's since been cleaned up and some minor repairs have been made. It's almost like new and while the...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 21, 2018 @ 07:30 PM | 47,018 Views
Whenever I see Buzz Waltz's incredible work, it's little wonder that he used to work closely with Soar Birdy and Big Birdy designer and champion R/C pilot, Joe Bridi. They still stay in touch, in fact.

When Buzz first gave me what he called The Sparrow, I was speechless. I'd seen this three-channel beauty fly and its resemblance to a Fokker Eindecker makes it that much more spectacular in the air.

Of course, when young Anakin Skywalker is in the cockpit ready for the big Boonta Eve Classic Podrace, how can I lose?

This was a model he banged out on his workbench one day and was later very tempted to produce it as a kit. It never made it to the kit stage, so I now own the one and only example with extra rudder area added to prevent the steering problem which may have resulted in a crash and less the semicircular decorative panels on either side of the motor. I have them; Buzz simply forgot to add them before he recovered the fuselage.

I haven't yet flown it. Buzz added an additional balsa bulkhead in front of the Anakin bust which may have to come out before I can fit a 1300mAh 3S battery. I have to remove the motor and drill out the hole in the firewall through which the motor shaft retainer passes.

The original Tower Pro 9g servos flew that model well and still work well, but they're very basic and I don't know how well they'll hold up to the extra rudder area. I have two brand new Tower Pro 9g metal-geared analogs which I will swap in once I get some...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 13, 2018 @ 07:10 PM | 47,376 Views
...and revisit a damaged model at a later date. Works every time.

After doing precisely that regarding the damaged little Harbor Freight P-51, the damage isn't all that bad. The canopy suffered a couple of wrinkles and the underside of the cowl area is little more than a "scraped chin," easily repaired. I thought for sure that I had destroyed the model. It hit asphalt, but I might have been able to pull back the elevator far enough to avoid little bits of EPO scattered all over.

Instead, I do believe I can fix it.

First things first and that will be the removal of the wing spar and restoring the dihedral. Once I attach a new prop and collet, I'll try again.

I was going to take it apart last night and now I'm glad I didn't.

As for the crash damaged homebuilt "Sparrow," I'm told that I should have it back by Saturday, repaired and with additional rudder area. I also have a bit more info on the glider in the photo below.

It was built by a gentleman named Arlo Larson, an engineer whose most recent work includes the development of both fiberglass and carbon fiber blades for wind turbines. My friend Buzz who gave it to me never flew it; he saw it cleaned up and flown for the first time this past Saturday. I solved the sticky folding prop blade problem easily enough by hogging out the mounting holes with a hobby knife.

I also have two gliders by Mr. Larson, one of which is an incomplete "Bird of Time." I can say with confidence that Mr. Larson is a top notch builder! A canopy for that multicolored model is being whittled out by Buzz.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 08, 2018 @ 06:33 PM | 47,256 Views
What goes up must come down.

The little Harbor Freight P-51 project went up for a test flight last week and it didn't end too well.

It acted tail heavy even though it wasn't and kept rolling on the ailerons. One thing for sure is that adding the carbon fiber spar to the wing took out a lot of dihedral. My guess is that's what caused it to crash.

Interestingly, it remained in one piece for the most part. The cowl is a loss and I'm not sure from whence it came. It might be an E-flite part.

It's battered and beaten, but I'm thinking of removing the spar, restoring the dihedral and giving it another whirl just for laughs. I mean, what could happen?

Stay tuned since this might be interesting.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 18, 2018 @ 10:10 PM | 48,239 Views
I didn't mention the model in the photo on my last blog because I hadn't yet flown it.

This, I must say, was among the most pleasant surprises I had in a long time.

This was one of four models given to me by a friend who had a kit manufacturing company at one time. The proliferation of ARF and RTF models, while expanding the hobby as a whole, hurt his business.

Anyway, two models were complete and this was one of the two complete models. The other was a three-channel airplane of his own design called "The Sparrow." I'd seen this model fly and I now own it. Unfortunately, the servo arm for the rudder broke in flight. I'd never seen one fail! Damage is done, but fixable since it crashed in thick grass. We're getting together soon to assess and repair the damage. It's just too cool not to. It strongly resembles a Fokker Eindecker with a toy bust of Anakin Skywalker in his podracer goggles at the controls.

As for this powered glider with a brushed Jeti ESC and motor, an ancient ArtTech 1300mAh 3S li-po and an even more ancient three-channel Hitec 72MHz AM receiver, I dragged it into the house to investigate the possibility of a brushless upgrade.

Cleanup began right away and while I had a hunch the glider was in good shape, I didn't know just how good. Revealed beneath the dust was a nearly new, magnificently constructed model lacking only a canopy. No scratches on the wing and almost none underneath the fuselage beyond what one would...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 12, 2018 @ 06:31 PM | 47,636 Views
...and it's so far, so good!

The rebirth of the Harbor Freight P-51 is coming along nice with all of the painting completed except for the anti-glare panel atop the nose. According to Greg Kenny, director of education at the Palm Springs Air Museum, the paint shop painted that panel of their real Bunny with Oak Green #212 from Poly-Fiber aircraft paints. Photos for the upcoming Callie Graphics decals won't happen for another couple of weeks while Bunny makes the air show rounds. I'm going to see if I can find a suitable military flat acrylic at the hobby shop.

I'm very happy regarding the "re-maiden" of the Adagio 280! That poor little model had been languishing in a hot garage for heaven knows how long and then incorrectly repaired. Getting the micro bind plug was easy; getting a new canopy and wing spar, not so easy since the model is out of production. The spar came from Amazon Prime and the canopy from Graves RC in Orlando, Florida. The binding plug was ordered by Rise Up HobbyTown in Palm Desert, California.

Today was its first flight in years and it didn't disappoint! All I need to do is add a bit more low rate rudder throw.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 05, 2018 @ 06:37 PM | 47,396 Views
In the last couple of months, I've done pretty well regarding the acquisition of castoff models.

In my last blog, I mentioned how I had received a couple of small foam P-51 Mustangs from Jimmy Dixon, a fun user here on RCG who goes by the handle "jdixon."

Of the two, one is flying again and the other is undergoing a major refinishing job. The latter is the one which will be representing Bunny, the Tuskegee Airmen tribute at the Palm Springs Air Museum. A link to that flying exhibit is in my previous blog entry.

A friend of mine who, sadly, is in poor health, gave me some models of his own design. He used to design and manufacture kits. A beautiful little one-off model wound up crashing due to a failed servo arm, but it's repairable. I haven't heard back from him regarding a visit so that we can fix it and I hope and pray he's ok. It'll be a real privilege to learn some wood modeling skills with the help of a master. The other models are gliders, both powered and unpowered. My goal is to get the big 2m unpowered bird ready for the big glider tow event my club holds every December. The powered models are total "old school" with brushed motors and old 72MHz receivers.

Finally, please see two of the three models I scored at the club when one of our seasonal visitors announced that he was giving away some old models. Two are shown below, cleaned up and ready. The E-flite Mini Ultra Stick is back in flying condition, but it'll need a...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 11, 2018 @ 08:26 PM | 47,946 Views
Not long ago, I put out some feelers in the classifieds for a Harbor Freight P-51. I'd always wanted to convert one to brushless power, but even with a famed Harbor Freight discount coupon, the $100 price tag was a bit much, especially since all I wanted was the airframe.

Enter RCG user Jimmy Dixon, aka "jdixon" who had not one, but two Mustangs up for grabs.

The first was a complete Ares P-51 less its motor and props. My local HobbyTown franchise was unable to get the parts, so I found them on Amazon. Pictures to follow; it's untouched cosmetically. It is one of the sweetest flying small models I've ever flown and should anything happen to it, I'll buy a new one right away.

That second P-51 was a well used Harbor Freight version, complete with a handful of spare parts and a complete if damaged airframe.

My original goal was to upgrade the HF version and do it up like Bunny, the Tuskegee Airmen tribute P-51 at the Palm Springs Air Museum. That's exactly what I plan to do as work progresses on the model as shown below.

A 1000Kv brushless outrunner and an E-flite stick mount adapter along with a 20A ESC are lined up and ready to go once it's finished. A visit to the air museum is in order once Bunny returns from the Reno Air Races. From there, photos will be on their way to the one and only Callie Soden of Callie Graphics for her peerless custom decals.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 24, 2018 @ 09:11 PM | 47,576 Views
In this case, the blog is "Adventures in Jeff's Land" at www.jeffbrock.me.

Jeff and I have been friends for more than forty years. While he doesn't participate in the RC hobby, he does share a keen interest in what I do both here and elsewhere online with product reviews.

Here's a CGI-animated short with an RC theme:


Anyway, please enjoy.
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 29, 2018 @ 05:45 PM | 47,967 Views
27MHz two-channel radio!

Ni-Mh batteries!

Brushed motors with differential thrust!

No control surfaces!

What was I thinking?

During holidays, Harbor Freight often sends out coupons for 25% off regular prices. I thought, heck, why not pick up an example of the infamous Yellow Bee two-channel powered glider?

I did. Yesterday. I returned it today. Unused. When I read some of the threads here and after seeing some videos, I decided I'd rather have my $32 back. There's always their four-channel P-51 for use in a project, but I'm not spending $100 just to throw most of it away.

Besides, I have some other projects, not to mention the 32 clams.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 09, 2018 @ 06:25 PM | 49,008 Views
It's alive! ALIVE!

My resurrected Rotor Concept HPQ-1 (aka the LotusRC T380) is finally back among my operational models! The replacement motor endbells and their tendency to pull shafts upward when tightening props were fixed once and for all by Diego, one of the techs at Rise Up Hobbytown. I had mounted the motors facing downward, an interesting feature of this model. I didn't like the looks and it was noisier. The photo shows it connected to Cleanflight while I was tuning the PID settings after I faced them upward.

There's still a hint of wobble while banking, but it flies and quite well! The frame baseplate, battery straps, landing gear, two of the arms and all four motor bases are original. I was able to retain the very nice hard-shelled carrying case as well as the original radio! It works well for this application. I'll soon be adjusting the PID a bit more until I'm totally satisfied, but for now, it's a real joy to see it fly again. Some LED strips might be called for.

Another one back in the hangar! It's a nice feeling.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 02, 2018 @ 08:00 PM | 48,549 Views
Tiny Whoop motors, to be precise.

These came from Rise Up Hobbytown and they were going to be used for an online review project. The FC I received from one of my overseas contacts arrived in inoperative condition and I haven't been able to get hold of her since.

Lots of turnover, it would seem.

In the meantime, I was sitting on twenty bucks worth of motors.

I did what anyone else would do, namely get the rest of the parts and build a Tiny Whoop at my leisure! Here's the parts listing:
  • Tiny Whoop "Special Sauce" motors; 17500Kv
  • Inductrix "clone" frame, FrSky BetaFPV FC and three-blade props from Multirotor Mania
  • Lectron Pro batteries from Rise Up Hobbytown
  • Crazepony camera/VTX combo from Amazon

Sadly, MRM is all but shutting down, but Brian has assured me that their fine multirotor frames will still be available. As for the camera, it's quite good for only twenty bucks through Amazon Prime. I had to swap the power pins since they were the wrong polarity. Other than that, I now have a terrific little machine which I can use to practice some acro and advanced freestyle.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 29, 2018 @ 08:22 PM | 48,101 Views
I never thought I'd ever see that old Flyzone SkyFly 2 fly again, but fly it did.

My choice of motor and prop seem a bit small; it took forever for it to lift off from a grass field. Once airborne, it flew perfectly! I added an ounce of lead weights to the nose to balance it on the recommended CG since both a 1300 3S and a 2200 3S were lighter than the old ni-cad pack which might have prevented it from rolling off. I'll fool with that once I bolt on the big Turnigy Park 400 (or 450) I'd used in its previous flight attempts. The other electronics have been totally changed with the model now sporting a pair of nearly new Ace R/C nine-gram servos, an OrangeRx receiver and a Spektrum DX6i radio.

The only other hitch was upon landing. It glided in beautifully, but it caught a wheel in the grass and it cartwheeled to a stop, breaking the brand new horizontal stab. The part is discontinued from Hobbico, but I ordered a new one from an eBay seller. I'll fix the one that's on it with some CF rods and some foam safe CA and keep it as a spare. It turned out so well that I don't want it to look like a glue bomb after only one flight.

With some more power on tap than it presently has, I predict it'll be a really fun flyer for a long time to come.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 21, 2018 @ 05:39 PM | 48,116 Views
No chance yet to fly one of them, but I now have two "new" models for relatively little time, effort and money.

The rebuilt Flyzone SkyFly 2 is ready to rock and roll! Weather, repaving of the club's runway and a major two-week tennis tournament which put the kibosh on an alternate field all came together to keep me grounded, but I hope to take it up on Sunday...if it doesn't rain. The very stiff control surfaces may have led to the demise of the original servos. No problem! I had two nearly new 9g analogs which not only fit, the control arms had the same splines. Hinging the elevator and rudder of the new tail section with CA hinges was easy enough to do and it stands ready for its maiden flight. I even found the original nose wheel in the parts stash. I thought I'd lost it.

Also reborn is a Rotor Concept HPQ1, better known as the LotusRC T380. It was my first big quad, I paid way too much for it, it's been a money pit since then, it's been sitting idle since goodness knows when and that same company has the gall to sell it on Amazon for 400 bucks as I write.

That love/hate relationship really began when the motor driving FETs fell off of the FC like so many rotten teeth. I won't bore you all with details, but it eventually wound up with a new FC from Multirotor Mania and ESCs from Armattan. The motor shafts kept pulling out of the endbells whenever I went to tighten the props, so I paid good money (waaay more than I wanted to spend) to have them pressed back in and secured.

The end result? Quite satisfactory! The PID settings needed attention, especially the proportional since it was constantly over-correcting in hover. Really twitchy. After some tweaks via Cleanflight, it's nearly perfect. The really nice thing is that I now have two models which had some money sunken into them placed back in service.

Pictures to follow.