Phaedra's blog View Details
Posted by Phaedra | Oct 04, 2021 @ 01:32 AM | 13,852 Views
The new Frsky Tandem X20S is a very tempting new radio, but it is still missing some features that are essential to me personally, like the Companion software.
I still like my X10S very much , and feel no need at all to replace it for the time being. But it started to bother me when buying new receivers that I am in fact investing in a receiver range that is going to be discontinued anytime soon, and replaced by Access (Archer) receivers.
I don't want to jump on another bandwagon or follow any hypes, but it is clear that Frsky is heading in that direction, and that all new development will be done on the new technology.
Adding to that, I also followed the Accst V2 saga from the beginning. I never had any issue at all with the V1 version, so I took my time to follow closely what was happening with the development and testing of V2. Version V2.1 has been out there for a while now, and I read multiple reports about it being absolutely trouble free by now, and so I am confident enough to switch to it now.

And so I bought the ISRM update kit for my X10S a couple of months ago, and studied the procedure for installing it. As then the new flying season was in full swing, I had no intention in performing such a major change to my radio.

But yesterday, the weather being just awful, I finally took the courage to do the ISRM upgrade. If it failed, I could take my time to take any corrective measures or even order a new radio.

I did find a lot of information about the...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Apr 08, 2020 @ 05:33 AM | 9,012 Views
For my Windrider B737 model, I decided to design my own lights controller, mainly because most commercial kits that I found do not offer the features that I want.

Light outputs can be configured as one of the following:

- steady light

- strobe light (white LEDs in video, shifted in time for increased realism)

- rotating beacon (green LED in video)

Any light output can be triggered by an RC ppm input value, for instance:

- steady landing light can be triggered by the landing gear channel (ON when gear down)

- strobe lights can be triggered by engines on.

A first prototype of my RC aircraft lights controller is ready (see video), currently with 1W LEDs.

3W and 5W LED version will follow (parts ordered)

RC aircraft lights controller (0 min 15 sec)

Posted by Phaedra | Jun 03, 2019 @ 04:22 AM | 4,784 Views
Yesterday, I had a bad glitch during a flight with my E-flite Hurricane, which I couldn't understand. Since I had some more snags to attend to, I did an overhaul on the model, and tested it again.
When I wanted to unplug the battery, the receiver suddenly shut down when I touched the wires. I wiggled them again, and it came back to life.
When I pulled the connector, the XT90-to-XT60 adapter that I used just came apart in 2 pieces. This is as scary as it gets for me...this cheap part could have cost me a model, or worse, damage to people or things.
I opened it up to inspect it, and was shocked by the bad quality soldering: the whole thing is kept together by 2 blobs of solder, and the quality of the soldering is really bad (cold bonding). No mechanical stress relief around this poor soldering, so every time you manipulate it there is a risk of breaking it.
This was an accident waiting to happen, and it is a small miracle that the accident didn't happen.
I now removed the adapter, and soldered an XT90 plug to that model. I opened a claim with Hobbyking, and wrote a review (which hasn't been published just yet) for the product.
If anyone is using these in a flying model, better open them up and inspect.
Posted by Phaedra | May 22, 2019 @ 08:43 AM | 6,229 Views
A couple of weeks ago, I made the mistake of bumping the antenna of my old trusted Taranis into the kitchen table. A horrific message "Tx antenna problem" appeared on the screen, making me expect the worst. After restarting the radio, the message disappeared but it sure did hurt my great confidence in this radio, even after successful rage testing and everything.

I really don't want to lose any of my models over this glitch/problem, and so I decided to replace it and only fly a couple of cheapo models with the old radio.
When comparing features and prices, I quickly ended up with the Horus X10(S). I didn't want another Taranis, because I was always very disappointed in the hardware quality of the push-button switches near the display, and the screen itself. I really wanted to stick to OpenTX, because in my opinion, it can't be beaten on price/performance, and the almost limitless possibilities it offers.
I never craved a color screen, and most certainly not a touchscreen, but from what I read bout the Horus display, it was quite clear to me that this would really fit my bill: large enough, clearer text, sunlight-readable, crisp.
The use of widgets is also a big added value: plenty of screen area available to display data, fully customizable screens,....

I was very lucky to find a second-hand X10S with long sticks with integrated 3-position switches and pushbuttons, exactly what I needed. Since I'm a tray-flyer, I needed to mod the radio:
  • designed my own
...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Aug 08, 2017 @ 05:49 AM | 7,792 Views
Had some great one-hour flights yesterday with my Topmodel Ka8! At some point, when it passed 330m (telemetry showed a peak of 340m), I had to deploy the spoilers to stay within (or get back inside) the airspace restrictions....
Thermals were strong at the higher altitudes, but weaker and more wide-spread at lower altitudes.
In the evening, I decided to make one more flight, when one of the 3D flyers suddenly shifted his activities to the other side of the flying field, just when I was getting low.
Result: mid-air collision. We heard a very loud bang, I saw my glider being knocked off-balance and going straight into an almost vertical spiral dive from around 20 to 30m up. The 3D plane got chopped into 3 pieces by the very sturdy Ka8 wing.
I was barely able to recover from the dive, just before it hit the ground, when I pulled it into some sort of high-speed stall, resulting in a wing drop, and the model touched down hard, upside-down.
I was amazed that the only damage to my model was a broken canopy and 3 dents in the wing planking. All very easy to repair. All flight controls are still ok, motor and prop are still ok. Very glad I kept flying and was able to save the plane!
The guy with the 3D plane was very upset and he apologized for the collision. I even felt bad for him, his plane was literally a total loss, even servo cables were severed, motor destroyed from the impact....what a sturdy plane my Ka8 appeared to be.
Foamie versus planked wing: 0-1
Weather's very bad today, so time for repairs.
Posted by Phaedra | Aug 28, 2016 @ 03:45 AM | 11,667 Views
When I saw Ethanís thread 1/25 Depron Boeing 737-200 Pusher I knew I had to build one of these myself.
He had the brilliant idea of sizing up a paper model of a 737-200 and building it in depron at a scale of 275%.
Itís the ideal parkflyer for those windless evenings. Which is also its downside: you canít fly these things when itís windy.
But the upside is that you donít need half an hour of assembly and disassemblyÖjust put it in the car and go flying.
I ended up some 520g ready to fly, which is better than Ethanís :-)

I didn't bother documenting the first detail building steps, since Ethan already covered that with lots of pictures. It basically comes down to printing the paper model at 275%, including cut lines, then taping all the A4 pages together, then cutting out the different parts, laying them on a sheet of 3mm depron (6mm for formers) and finally cutting the depron parts with a razor-sharp knife.

First big challenge was to shape the depron to fit around the formers. I used plastic tubes of different diameters and roll the depron over it. It worked like a charm. After a while.
I did the horizontal stabs in two parts, top and bottom at first, but for the vertical stab I tried to do it in one piece and fold it completely. It worked a bit, but the top part cracked when folded.

I later improved on the folding technique, by using a smaller plastic tube for rolling, and then, no kidding, breathing on it while folding. I ended up folding 3mm...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Feb 12, 2016 @ 03:46 PM | 14,978 Views
Last year, I was able to buy a second hand Twin Otter model, and I immediately was delighted with the quality and the flight characteristics of this model.
I decided to prepare this model for flight as soon as possible, and fly it unmodified during the 2015 season.
I quickly discovered that my ex-airline, Sabena, used to operate Twin Otters, and so the decision was easy to restyle my model to the Sabena livery.

I looked up pictures of the actual aircraft, but it's been very hard to get top- and bottom views to get the exact details.
Starting from these pictures, I ordered a set of decals from Callie Graphics, awaiting the great makeover.

And that day finally came...
Inspecting the standard finish of the model, I considered different options on how to tackle this.
The final livery is almost the opposite of the standard model finish. The belly is dark blue, where it needs to become light gray. The middle has to become blue and white.
The tail and rudder have 3 different colors, and has to become white and blue.

The only way to get away with this and get consistent colors all over the fuselage, is to strip the orange and blue covering, and replace it all by white Oracover, in order to get an even color base.

And so I started stripping of the original covering, which didn't always go as easy as I thought.

...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Jan 16, 2016 @ 01:32 PM | 10,417 Views
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Posted by Phaedra | Jan 11, 2016 @ 03:11 AM | 10,916 Views
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Posted by Phaedra | Jan 02, 2016 @ 10:06 AM | 10,705 Views
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Posted by Phaedra | Dec 08, 2015 @ 03:00 PM | 12,579 Views
Haven't been really progressing on this build lately, or on any rc-model-related things for that matter. Too much stress at work, too long hours, draining all energy.
And so I'm taking this one small step at a time, just to keep my sanity, I guess...

First thing I really wanted to tackle were the engines. I did a dynamic balancing with the tool I bought a while ago. Every time I do balancing I run into the same problem: getting consistent measurements. This time around I figured out that the very crude thrust stand that I built was causing this; the friction between the EDF housing and the metal retainer brace was the culprit. And so, after getting this tackled I was able to reduce vibrations with a factor 2 to 3.

And then came the long feared moment of cutting the flaps. After long pondering and doubting, I decided to use inboard and outboard flaps, and to have "fake" (i.e. inoperative) spoilers, mainly to cover up the fowler gap between flaps and wing.
I wanted to create the spoilers by using very thin plywood pieces, cut to size indicated by the panel lines on the wing. To transfer these panel lines to the plywood, I used an old child's trick with paper and pencil: tracing:

I then cut the plywood pieces and laid them up on the wing:

Once this was done, everything was ready for the first cut. I decided to make a slant cut from above, joining a straight cut from below, such that the flap already has its basic fowler shape, and leaving a...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Oct 04, 2015 @ 02:10 AM | 12,671 Views
Topmodel Ka8 3m (1 min 8 sec)

About a year ago, I bought a second-hand Ka8 model in Germany. In a previous blog entry of mine I already stated my doubts whether it had really flown as the previous owner claims.
And so I removed about 200g of lead from the nose to get the CG right, struggled to get a towhook installed next to the motor, and I went about maidening this beautiful model.
Performance wasn't exactly what the previous owner described to me.
On 4S with a 13x6 prop, this thing should rocket skywards. But all it did was climb steadily at an acceptable rate.
And then, from the second flight on, a problem developed. Whenever I opened the throttle more than half, the model started howling with a sound that best can be described as a howling cow, or the horn of a freight train.
The loss of power was so sudden that the model stalled several times during initial climb.
I thought I found the culprit when I discovered that the motor firewall had come loose on one side, but after fixing that, the problem still persisted.
So, last week, I decided to dig into this problem, and did some research.
Apparently there are two versions of this model: 3m and 3m20 of span. And I have the 3m version, which has a recommended 35mm motor, with a 14x8 prop, on 3S.
But I got a 4S battery with this model! And so I measured the motor, and sure enough, it's a 35mm one....which I tried to operate on 4S. A miracle that this motor even survived this treatment.

And so I...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Sep 25, 2015 @ 04:20 AM | 12,250 Views
It has taken a while (a rather shabby flying season coming inbetween), but I'm back at the Marchetti.
The last straws before covering took ages! It's the finishing that takes up all the time, getting all the pits and the wrinkles out.
So first up was to add some sort of smoother transition between wing and fuselage at the bottom. The standard kit leaves you with this:

Not really pretty....
And so I started by glueing on some lightweight and soft balsa:

And since it was soft balsa, it was fairly easy to shape and sand:

...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Aug 31, 2015 @ 09:38 AM | 12,152 Views
I happened to witness this at the Genk - Zwartberg airfield last Saturday:

T28 landing and taxi in (1 min 58 sec)

Posted by Phaedra | Aug 18, 2015 @ 01:44 PM | 12,738 Views
After a pretty shabby flying season so far, weather contiuously being too hot, or too much wind, or having to work on those rare days when the weather does cooperate, I spent more time building models than flying them. Oh wellÖ
And so I picked up the Marchetti again, much sooner than anticipated (I was thinking rather in terms of "next winter"Ö). I want to get my woodworking skills up, and this is a very good opportunity to do just that.
Where to start, or should I say resumeÖ.?
Well, first thing to tackle are the wing-fuselage fairings. I already did one side the last time, so now I need to do the other side too.
This is how it looks when you build the model according to the manual: nasty:

And so I start by cutting out a piece of very soft and light balsa, in which I make a cutout for the wing leading edge:

...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Jun 15, 2015 @ 01:53 PM | 12,588 Views
After a long break, I picked up the work on the ASW22 wings again. Lots of things came inbetween, but now that the weather is finally changing for the better I really want to fly this beautiful bird again soon.
Extending the ailerons presents a special challenge mainly because it wasn't designed to do this.
One big problem I encountered was about the steel rond-and-tube to allow the wingtips to be removable. They are very close to the trailing edge, and thus leaving almost no space for hinges.
Second big problem is the thinness of the aileron near the wingtip. Inserting a hinge always causes a bulge on the aileron. When I try to take out a bit more wood from the hole for the hinge, the knife comes right through.
I did cut out all holes for all hinges, but then I was faced with the problem that I just couldn't get an even gap across the length of the ailerons.
So after a lot of trial and error, I decided to change the strategy, leave the plastic hinges out, and use a combination of fiberglass cloth and PU varnish for hinging.

I applied the fiberglass and varnish on both sides of the ailerons, and then applied Oracover for finish.

I had to give up the plan to keep the wingtips removable, because that would mean I would have to make the aileron in two pieces that can slide into each other. But the aileron is so flimsy at the wingtip that this would make it too weak, especially with the torsional forces in mind.
And so I took the easier and more sensible...Continue Reading
Posted by Phaedra | Apr 19, 2015 @ 12:48 PM | 12,871 Views
Last weekend I did the last details to get my trailer ready for the new flying season.
I installed my modular model rack, made from PVC tubes and isolation foam inside, containing my Hurricane, Spitfire and Mosquito.
It leaves plenty of room for another rack next to it.
And then it was time to fix some rack rails to the walls, so that I can insert supports wherever I need them.
On the pics you can see that I used those to securely stow my 3m Ka8 glider and its wings above the model rack.
Pretty happy with this result, now it's time to use it and find ways to still improve its versatility. I need a safe way to add another couple of gliders and the wings of my Twin Otter, which are hard to transport because of the three-blade props.
Posted by Phaedra | Mar 17, 2015 @ 03:06 PM | 13,720 Views
The new outdoor flying season approaching fast, it is time to set some priorities on the maintenance and building activities.
At the end of the previous season I made an extensive list of those, and it turned out to be a multi-page document! But since there's more to life than RC models, I barely got anything of that list done last winter. Most of my time was spent on two new models (Ka8 glider and Hangar 9 Twin Otter) and the continued build of my SF260 model.
So now it's time to prepare some models for the new season, and very high in my priorities sits the ASW22BE 4m glider that I gave a midlife update of motor and electronics more than a year ago. I re-maidened it after almost 20 years of sitting idle, and last summer it flew like never before. Details of its resurrection can be found in previous blog entries.
The upgrade made it lose some weight, and at 3,5 kg at 4m span the low-speed characteristics surely improved.
But one thing I didn't like was the lack of decent roll control. When turning final once I had to apply full stick deflection to counter some crosswind influence
And so, thanks to some tips of one of our senior instructors and experienced model glider pilot, I got the idea to extend the ailerons.
The problem here is that the wings have slide-on extensions, and the ailerons need to be extended up to almost the wing tips to be more effective. So I need a way to split each aileron into two pieces with also a slide-on capability.

But first things...Continue Reading