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Posted by rclad | Aug 16, 2019 @ 12:52 AM | 563 Views
We finally had beautiful weather for an IMAC contest last weekend, my fifth one of the year. Read more on the Cincinnati IMAC Burnit Challenge, and the results, here.

Below is Ben Batts flying freestyle after the contest on Sunday, August 11, with one eye closed!

Cincinnati IMAC Burnit Challenge Freestyle Show 20190811 (3 min 57 sec)


Cincinnati IMAC Burnit Challenge Freestyle Show Part 2 20190811 (1 min 52 sec)
...Continue Reading
Posted by rclad | Jul 24, 2019 @ 11:40 PM | 1,933 Views
More storms and the results of the KRAM Grand Rapids IMAC Challenge can be found here.
Posted by rclad | Jul 23, 2019 @ 11:43 PM | 2,088 Views
The weather was hot, humid, windy, wet and wild for an IMAC contest in Alto, Michigan, this past weekend. Read part one here. You can learn more about derechos and their destructive power here.
Posted by rclad | Jul 15, 2019 @ 09:59 AM | 2,467 Views
I should know better by now not to fly when I'm tired. After more than 460 flights on my 95" Extra 330SC-E I finally buggered up a landing so bad yesterday that I expected some serious damage to the airframe. It was 95 F with light winds and clear skies, but I caught a bit of updraft on the approach as I came over the end of a cornfield with stalks about 6 feet tall. The black geotex runway must have been generating some thermal activity as well. The plane wasn't descending as it normally does, even with power at idle.

I didn't notice how slow the plane was getting until it was too late. By the time I started to advance the throttle the left wing stalled and immediately fell. The plane dropped out of the air from about 5 feet up, came down on the left wing tip and smacked down hard on the landing gear. That was the first tip stall I have seen on this plane, and I practice stalls on every flight (for IMAC). This is not a design issue. I was drifting to the right side of the runway and must have applied some left rudder to stop the drift. After careful inspection I found no damage. This is a very strong airframe!

After swapping out batteries I got right back in the air and flew the same approach. This time I kept the nose down through the updraft, then brought it back to level once over the runway. I ended up landing midway down the runway, but I greased it in just above stall speed, so the rollout was completed before the end of the 600' runway.

I got off easy this time. Don't get complacent on landings!
Posted by rclad | Jun 18, 2019 @ 12:06 AM | 2,182 Views
Air Masters RC Airfield
North Bend, OH
Friday, June 14, 2019


Hang on for a fun ride! I was flying my best inside/outside loop yet, with a 2 of 4 point roll at top, when things went horribly wrong.

IMAC Practice Flight - Intermediate Sequence - June 14, 2019 (10 min 15 sec)

Posted by rclad | Jun 16, 2019 @ 01:43 PM | 1,418 Views
Air Masters RC Airfield
North Bend, OH
Friday, June 14, 2019


It was a windy day - 30 degree crosswind at 15 mph - but I wanted to try out a second camera on my EF 95" Extra 330SC-E. This one was taped to the top of the canopy facing the tail.

This was the fourth flight of the day, the third with cameras. It wasn't my best sequence work - the negative snaps exiting the P Loop were both off - but it was the only flight that I remembered to clean the splattered bugs off the canopy before takeoff!

These videos help me spot all of my errors that I miss from the ground.

IMAC 2019 Intermediate Practice - June 14 (10 min 7 sec)

Posted by rclad | Jun 08, 2019 @ 08:31 PM | 1,309 Views
#IAmIMAC

Our club had an aerobatics primer today, and Ray, the Unlimited IMAC pilot who put it on, challenged me to try a 360 degree turn with four rolls to the inside. I usually decline the challenge to try something new with my plane, saying I'd like to try it on the simulator first. For some reason today I simply said, "OK."

This isn't the first time Ray nudged me out of my comfort zone. Just when I get comfortable with my current aerobatic skills he asks me to try something different: a slower aileron roll, or opposite aileron rolls back to back, or a snap roll in the opposite direction from how I normally do them, or a tailslide.

I've been flying scale aerobatics for almost three years now, and Ray has been a great mentor. He has given me the confidence to move up to a more difficult class every year, from Basic to Sportsman, and now Intermediate. The Intermediate class introduces the roller, but it's only a 90 degree turn with one roll to the inside. I practiced it many times on the simulator before I ever attempted one with my plane. Today, having flown the 90 degree roller more than a hundred times with my 95" EF Extra 330, I was finally getting comfortable with the maneuver. When I executed a near perfect roller on the first flight today (after three attempts), Ray must have been thinking of a new challenge for me.

After landing, replacing batteries, and pushing my plane back to the runway, he said, in his usual direct and nonchalant...Continue Reading
Posted by rclad | Jun 05, 2019 @ 11:20 PM | 1,147 Views
A rain soaked field threatens to rip off the gear of the 43% giants. See the latest entry in my IMAC log here.
Posted by rclad | Jun 05, 2019 @ 10:16 PM | 1,130 Views
More 20+ mph winds! See the latest entry in my IMAC log here.
Posted by rclad | May 27, 2019 @ 11:38 PM | 1,572 Views
See the latest entry in my IMAC log here.
Posted by rclad | Jan 16, 2019 @ 01:16 AM | 2,640 Views
To determine the minimum thrust I need (or would be happy with) for my 104" Extra 300 V2, I needed an accurate measurement of the thrust I have been getting out of my 95" Extra. The electric set up in that plane has been very good for most conditions in which I practiced and competed in 2018, flying scale aerobatics. While the thrust could have been improved with a different prop or bigger motor, that setup struck a good balance between weight, thrust and flying time. After more than 150 cycles on the batteries, I can still get a ten minute flight performing two Intermediate IMAC sequences (#IamIMAC), with time left over for extra maneuvers.

Once I knew what thrust I was currently getting and happy with, I could calculate a thrust to weight ratio, then work backwards from an expected all up weight on the 104" to calculate the minimum thrust I would need from an electric power system. Adding 2 lbs for the additional parasitic drag of the bulkier airframe should get me close to the same vertical performance I had with the 95".

After borrowing some climber's tubular webbing from a co-worker I finally had what I needed to stake the 95" Extra to the ground and run her up to full throttle. Unfortunately, the weather turned cold and more than half a foot of snow landed by Sunday morning, so I moved the test indoors. Here are the results:

95" Extra 330SC-E
Motrolfly DM5335 189Kv
Jeti Mezon 135 Opto ESC
Falcon 24x10 CFE
2x Glacier 6s 8000mAh (...Continue Reading
Posted by rclad | Jan 02, 2019 @ 08:55 PM | 2,912 Views
After purchasing my second giant scale plane last year, I hoped it would be a while before having to make another investment in a big plane. I've been enjoying flying and competing with my electric EF/3DHS 95" Extra. It's a very capable plane, and would be competitive through the Intermediate class in IMAC (#IamIMAC). I began thinking, though, that a 35% plane would perform a little better than my 30% did against the 43% giants, especially in the windy conditions that are inevitable at a contest, and be easier to see and judge.

So, here it is, another Extreme Flight plane! The 104" Extra 300 V2 will be electric powered, and it's going to carry 10,600 10,000 mAh of capacity from 35C Glacier 65C Dinogy batteries (4x 5300 mAh in 14S2P 2x 10,000 in 12S configuration) for an estimated AUW of 30 28.5 lbs. The extra capacity (over a typical 3D setup) will allow me to fly two Intermediate sequences with plenty of time to spare for practice at home, or loitering in the air for those contests that run dual flight lines.

The motor setup on this plane will use Aeroplayin's belt driven gear reduction unit, or GRU, that will allow this plane to use an inexpensive brushless heli motor rather than an expensive direct drive system. The combined weight of the GRU and heli motor will be less than a direct drive system and be more efficient, up to 91%! The numbers from eCalc indicate this setup will give me up to 10 minutes of flying time doing IMAC aerobatics.

See the pic below for my wiring schematic and components. [EDIT: See next comment with revised schematic for lighter setup.]

Stay tuned for the inevitable customization to make the conversion to electric and make life at the field easier.
Posted by rclad | Dec 28, 2018 @ 08:01 PM | 2,477 Views
The end of the year is always a good time to look back and reflect on where you've been and where you're headed. Hindsight also helps us see moments of crisis from a different perspective. I've had several of those RC moments in the past two years that could have discouraged me from further competition. I didn't give up, and I'm grateful for that. Competition is really good for revealing what you're capable of achieving, and what makes a person tick. Working through those setbacks in preparation for competition has improved my flying skills and confidence. To recap, here is where I've been and where I'm hoping to go in 2019:

The Apollo XI airfield, situated in the Sepulveda Basin in the San Fernando Valley, part of Los Angeles County, was a busy RC airfield to fly from on a Saturday in summer! It sits next to Van Nuys Airport, one of the busiest general aviation airports in the world. (I have flown out of both as pilot in command, and they are challenging! I highly recommend the documentary about the airport, called One Six Right.) Watching the pattern pilots practice and compete at that field in the 1980s inspired me to dream of competing someday myself.

I was just out of college and had no money back then, so that dream was put on hold for more than thirty years. After settling down and raising a family, I finally got back into the hobby in 2016. In a short time I was back to flying an aerobatic plane and eager to improve my skills. One day, after...Continue Reading
Posted by rclad | Nov 17, 2018 @ 10:30 PM | 2,965 Views
I've flown the 2019 Intermediate IMAC (#IamIMAC) sequence many times now, and one thing that leaps out for me is that this class requires a lot more practice than Sportsman - and every day - to get decent at it!

I haven't been flying much since Regionals in mid-September - just once or twice on the weekends - so my last flight this past Sunday wasn't very good. But I mounted a Mobius I camera in the cockpit in place of the pilot figure to see the view of the sequence from the plane. This ain't precision flying, but it's a lot of fun to watch from the pilot's point of view. The airfield is Flying Cardinals in Hebron, KY. They have a geotex runway. I used Dashware to add the telemetry data. I forgot to turn logging on for the variometer, so no altimeter! This sequence typically takes me to about 900 feet AGL.

There was a direct cross wind (about 5 mph on the runway and stronger above), and temperature was 42 F.

In the first sequence I forgot the 2 point roll at the top of figure 4. and then had to break sequence as I approached the top of the cross box Humpty when I heard a POP! I thought the ESC blew. Once I realized everything was good to go I resumed the sequence - kinda sorta - with the next figure. (It is supposed to be an inverted entry to the P-Loop, then a half roll on the upline.)

A rear view camera would help to see the rolls on the upline when there are no clouds in the sky. I'll have to add that next time.

The camera really helps me see all the...Continue Reading
Posted by rclad | Nov 05, 2018 @ 10:27 AM | 2,915 Views
I bought a Mobius I camera and HK gimbal a year ago and finally got it installed in the IMAC plane I flew in Basic last year. I hadn't flown the plane since April, and it was badly out of trim, and I hadn't flown the Sportsman sequence since September, so I was out of practice. This is sloppy flying compared to what I can do with some practice and warm up, but it's fun to see what the sequence looks like from the cockpit. It also helps to see what errors I'm making on a consistent basis, like coming out of a half outside loop with right wing low. Most errors I can see from the ground, but this was one error I was missing.

The camera is mounted on a gimbal that tilts up and down with elevator input, and rotates with rudder - only the 9g Spektrum gimbal servo rotates opposite from my rudder servo. They share a Y connection, so I will have to put the gimbal servo on a separate channel to get it to rotate correctly. There is too much slop in the gears to hold the camera steady, so an upgrade to better servos is needed. This was mainly a proof of concept flight to see how much a video could help improve my precision. It looks like there is much to improve!

87" Extra 300 Flying IMAC Sportsman Sequence for 2018 (9 min 56 sec)

Posted by rclad | Oct 03, 2018 @ 11:44 AM | 3,430 Views
My Taranis Plus has been dutifully logging telemetry data for a couple years. I stopped reviewing and removing the log files a while back, so the files have been accumulating for two years. I didn't give that much thought until recently. An "SD Card Error" notice popped up on my transmitter screen during the last two flying sessions. I finally duplicated the error on the ground by flipping the throttle safety switch off and advancing the throttle. As soon as I moved the stick forward the error notice appeared.

Apparently, as soon as the throttle is advanced a telemetry log file is opened on the SD card and data for that flight is stored there. But why the error just appeared now is not clear. There is plenty of free disk space remaining, about 75% on a 1 GB card. The solution to the error was simple. I just downloaded all the log files - about 180 - from the SD card to my PC and deleted the original files from the SD card. No more error!

Kudos to OpenTx for designing firmware robust enough to handle this simple error without crashing. All controls continued working normally despite the error in logging flight data.
Posted by rclad | Sep 18, 2018 @ 01:48 PM | 3,071 Views
See the latest entry in my IMAC log here.
Posted by rclad | Sep 08, 2018 @ 01:10 PM | 3,379 Views
You can read my latest report posted under Incidents and Accidents here.
Posted by rclad | Sep 08, 2018 @ 01:39 AM | 3,226 Views
I loved listening to Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, broadcast Car Talk on the radio on Saturday mornings for many years. Although Tom and Ray were both MIT graduates, they never got too serious and were always good natured with their callers. Tom’s infectious laughter brightened my day. The puzzler they did every week was a challenge and never easy. But it was fun to try. It was a sad day when Tom died and the show eventually went off the air.

I posted a puzzler recently on the Taranis Plus thread, with a not-so-hidden reference to Car Talk, and was surprised how upset some folks got. Seriously. I’m not sure what people are doing in this hobby, if they’ve become so serious they can’t handle a little fun. I set up a game with a real prize for the winner. I asked people to PM me with their answers to the puzzler, so it wouldn’t clutter up the thread. People posted directly anyway, which turned out to be very helpful, at least to me. I learned some new things about the Taranis radio, and hopefully others did as well.

There are many different ways to learn. Not everyone learns the same way. So we have multi-media to help reach as many people as possible. Sometimes we learn best by making a mistake, or grappling with a problem until we figure it out on our own. That’s true for me. It’s also true that when there are many problems to solve, or the learning curve is steep - as with the Taranis OpenTx software - we often rush to the internet to find a quick answer. With so many resources at our fingertips, why not?

RC Groups has been a great resource for me. I hope that is true for everyone who drops in here. I really appreciate all the people who take the time to share their knowledge and wisdom acquired over many years in the hobby. I hope it remains that way.

To that end, please assume the best in each other, not the worst. And stay positive, respectful of others, and like Tom, ready to laugh.

Happy flying!

Greg