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Posted by rclad | Jan 16, 2019 @ 01:16 AM | 1,882 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 | 2,110 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 | 1,722 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 | 2,130 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 | 2,190 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 | 2,636 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 | 2,339 Views
See the latest entry in my IMAC log here.
Posted by rclad | Sep 08, 2018 @ 01:10 PM | 2,657 Views
You can read my latest report posted under Incidents and Accidents here.
Posted by rclad | Sep 08, 2018 @ 01:39 AM | 2,503 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!

Posted by rclad | Sep 02, 2018 @ 11:24 PM | 2,170 Views
See the latest entry in my IMAC log here.
Posted by rclad | Aug 13, 2018 @ 12:25 PM | 2,415 Views
Click here for the latest entry in my IMAC log.
Posted by rclad | Jul 29, 2018 @ 10:17 PM | 3,133 Views
I started this blog with a full-scale aviation story about my first solo cross-country flight and why I fly model planes. The piece is titled, “Why I Fly RC.” Now that I’ve been flying scale aerobatics in competition for nearly two years, I thought it might be time for a follow up article on why I fly IMAC.

As a Navy Flight Officer in training in the 1980s, I sat in the back seat of an A-4 while the pilot flew through combat maneuvers (before long range air-to-air weapons systems made close range dogfights obsolete). Experiencing the g-forces that occur when pulling out of a dive or turning rapidly at high speed made me appreciate what aerobatic pilots experience when they compete in the International Aerobatic Club (IAC). Flying with precision through these difficult maneuvers while experiencing high g-forces takes tremendous skill and physical strength. Watch the 2010 Unlimited World Champion Renaud Ecalle fly his Free Program, with a 9 g push from inverted at the beginning of the sequence, and you can begin to appreciate the art of scale aerobatics.

IMAC, the International Miniature Aerobatic Club, is inspired by and modeled after the full-scale IAC. The word “miniature” is a bit of a misnomer. Indoor micro scale RC planes are closer to what I think of when I see that word. The typical IMAC plane is a giant scale model of the full-scale planes flown in the IAC, and they are often 35-42% in size. My Extreme Flight Extra 330SC is small at 30% scale, but it’s...Continue Reading
Posted by rclad | Jul 01, 2018 @ 10:07 PM | 3,884 Views
Click here for the latest entry in my IMAC log.
Posted by rclad | Jun 10, 2018 @ 08:28 PM | 2,784 Views
Click here for the latest entry in my IMAC log.
Posted by rclad | Jun 04, 2018 @ 01:30 PM | 3,230 Views
June 24, 2018

Learning new aerobatic routines is difficult under the best circumstances. Attempting to do so low to the ground with little sleep on a windy day - with a direct cross wind - and a bright early morning sun silhouetting your plane makes for a dangerous combination. My "Battery Low" alarm also went off just seconds before entering the final figure of the second sequence of my flight, one in which I had re-flown a difficult figure several times, climbing to 900 feet or more and using up my reserve capacity. This morning, on the 51st flight of my new 95" Extra 330SC-E, that combination had me resigned to an impact with the ground as my plane augered in.

My aerobatic mentor, Unlimited IMAC pilot Ray Morton, has been talking me through a new Unknown sequence on every flight. We do a short brief before the flight to go over each figure in the sequence. We determine, based on the current wind conditions, which direction to roll for the cross box elements. Then I take off, fly my Known sequence, then fly the Unknown with Ray calling each figure and the elements in it.

I was going into the last figure, an easy 270 degree aerobatic turn, but I entered low - between 50 to 100 feet - and close to the deadline, which is parallel to the runway, just 100 feet out from where I was standing. I started the maneuver about 400 feet past me and to the east. The crosswind was blowing in at 17 mph, so I should have done an easy pull on the elevator after...Continue Reading
Posted by rclad | May 30, 2018 @ 01:24 PM | 3,201 Views
Click here for the latest entry to my IMAC log.
Posted by rclad | May 22, 2018 @ 12:57 PM | 4,369 Views
See here for the latest entry in my IMAC log.
Posted by rclad | May 16, 2018 @ 04:45 PM | 3,833 Views
I worked hard over the last few days and all through the night on Monday to finish my new Extreme Flight 95" Extra 330SC-E for a maiden flight Tuesday morning (yesterday). I tried to minimize modifications to make the build go faster, but couldn't resist a few changes. One of the time-consuming mods I made was to automate arming of the ESC. That added a total of 1.5 ounces to the AUW, which came out a bit heavier than expected at 20.6 pounds. That's with 5 pounds of batteries! (8000 mAh Glacier 30C LiPos) At least it's lighter than my 87" Extra, which has 6000s.

ESC arming is controlled by a micro DPDT switch mounted to the fuse right below the fail safe pin switch. The pin has a "Remove Before Flight" flag attached to it, which covers the arming switch when the receiver power is Off. That provides a reminder not to arm the plane until I pull the pin and power up the receiver. The ESC arming switch has no power, though, until the pin is removed, so there is some redundancy there.

Fail safe was checked and tested this time!

A couple other minor mods was adding a nylon spacer to extend the wheel axles. That provided a resting point for a support block glued to the inside of the outer wall of the wheel pants.

I didn't add a custom battery tray to this plane to save weight, and I miss that already after two flights! To avoid the hassle of removing batteries stuck tightly to the deck with velcro, I used rubber stops supplied by Aloft...Continue Reading
Posted by rclad | May 06, 2018 @ 01:59 PM | 2,909 Views
The weather is perfect now for flying, but I'm grounded until I finish my new plane, a 95" EF Extra 330SC. I hope to fly it in the first IMAC contest of the season (here in the Midwest) May 19. With all the work that goes into building and preparing it for the maiden, then trimming and tuning flights, it sometimes feels like I'll never cross the finish line, like running a marathon.

Cincinnati just had the twentieth running of the Flying Pig Marathon today. If pigs can fly, anything is possible, right? I've run many 5K, 10K and 15K races, and a couple mini-triathalons, but never a marathon. My son ran it for the first time today and finished in about 4.5 hours. Congrats, Aaron!

Now, back to my build....