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Archive for March, 2006
Posted by GRW3 | Mar 30, 2006 @ 12:39 AM | 12,474 Views
Thanks to everybody reading this blog.

My life has been hectic lately. My son is working on a movie and I've been taking him to his sets. It's an independent film and there's no money for the actors up front. Struggling actors value face time more than dad's money or time. Anyway, we were sitting in Whataburger digesting his last shoot when my wife called wanting the number for our road service. She had a flat. Please see below for her definition of a flat...

The best tool I've found for saving time for modeling is Tivo. A TV recorder saves time? You bet! I don't watch any live TV to speak of and that saves fifteen minutes or so an hour. Further, I don't watch everything I record. Somehow just the fact I have it is enough and after a while I just delete it, unwatched.

I saw this little plane at the LHS and it was just too cute to pass up. It's sitting on the plans for my Eindekker. It's a two control R/C from FMA. Power motor and steering motor. I've not flown it with power, just a couple of trimming tosses (and it glides very well), but I have crashed it. I fumbled it and it fell on the tail rotor ring, breaking it. I glued it back with foam CA but you can tell it happened. I also managed to break the charging jack from the transmitter. As delivered, you use the transmitter batteries to charge the 150mah NiMH battery. I pressed too hard and it popped out. The transmitter still worked so I just soldered the jack to a lead for my Hobbico fast field charger that works with NiMH batteries.
Posted by GRW3 | Mar 23, 2006 @ 11:02 PM | 12,905 Views
Over the years I've run the gamut on field boxes - none to small to big to small. When I was a kid flying "Li'l Jumpin' Bean"s all I needed was a paper sack to hold the control lines and prop/glow plug wrench. Maybe a spare prop but plane usually broke at the same time as the prop.

In college I used a wooden box I built in Jr. High shop class. Eventually though I started to use my grandfather's tackle box as my primary tool box. It's one of the few things I've ever been sentimental about.

At some point a few years back the rage became the big folding leg, hold a gallon fuel can, detachible starter box, airplane stand on top field boxes. It was big enough to comfortably hold a (then very large) sixty size plane. I lost my thrill with it one day when some choppy air came through the pits and made it and the plane that was on it do a snap roll with the plane ending up on the bottom. I didn't quit using it completely but it was doomed.

The boxes got smaller with time. I abandoned the concept of bringing enough supplies to rebuild a plane at the field. (I do carry supplemental supplies on road trips.) So in the end it was just Grandpa's tackle box, a Dave Brown fuel can and self powered starter.

Now that I'm flying again, I've restocked the tackle box and repainted the fuel can. My starter is dead but I haven't replaced it yet. I am very interested in e-flite and I know the tackle box won't hold a battery suitable for recharging flight batteries. With that in mind, I snapped up the rolling tool box below at a recent swap meet.

Will the roller be my main device or will I stick with my minimalist approach? Don't know for sure. It's always a struggle. Will you regret not having that special part when you get to the field? Sure but why not make sure the plane is ready before you leave home? Try to strike a balance. (What's the furthest you've gone without a transmitter? My personal record is 50 miles but only because I checked at a rest stop.)
Posted by GRW3 | Mar 14, 2006 @ 03:34 PM | 8,428 Views
As you build, kits or from plans, you will find you accumulate excess building supplies. I just hate to throw these away but you just can't let it stack up or you would be buried in it. I took a good sized kit box and started sorting out my left over building materials (balsa, hardwood, plywood, carbon or glass fiber, plastic) into logical groupings. I then put the material intended to keep into an old kit box. I keep the materials separated with paper (silkspan actually) but it could be more or less formal. When I finish a kit project I evaluate the excess building supplies. The valuable parts go in the box. The rest go in the garbage. (The latter is key to keeping a reasonably clean shop.)
Posted by GRW3 | Mar 13, 2006 @ 12:52 PM | 8,529 Views
Ones Good To Have but Not Necessary

The only power tool you need is a good drill, cordless preferably. I would follow that with a hand held Dremel Tool or one of the copies that are available today. (I got a new All Trade with 200 accesories at COSTCO for $26. Good thing too, my ancient Dremel had spun its last.)

Over time I acquired several other useful tools. A Dremel Scroll Saw, a 10" Drill Press, and smal Belt and Disk Sander.

It is not unusual to have to cut plywood, hard wood or large chunks of balsa during a construction project. You can use coping saws, hack saws or jig saws for a lot of this but that can be time consuming or awkward. Faced with one kit that had a lot of this I borrowed an old Dremel saw from a friend. i liked the convenience but hated the noise of the vibrator used to displace the saw. I resisted buying one until Dremel brought out the modern version with a quiet drive.

The Drill press is important for easy placement of accurate holes. You can set depth and angle for precise control. Some pieces can be hand held but you should consider a drill press vise for better control.

The Disk and Belt Sander is a great combination for modeling. The Belt Sander is great for roughing out large pieces of cross grain or mixed assemblies where members of the plane family would not work. Finish the job with a block sander. The Disk Sander is a more precise device but cannot handle as much material. It can do angles, simple and complex. Which can be very helpful in getting tight fits.

The Saw and the Sander can generate a lot of sawdust. They are equiped with Shop Vac fittings if you need to do a lot of cutting and/or sanding indoors. I have to get a new Shop Vac so for now I am doing the heavy wook outdoors.

Your best bet with these tools is to use somebody else's to get a feel for their effectiveness. If I had to choose one, I would probably go with the Sander.
Posted by GRW3 | Mar 05, 2006 @ 12:41 AM | 8,025 Views
Today I drove to Dallas and back. Well over 500 miles total. Why? Well my wife's baby and my youngest son is an aspiring actor and he had an audition he needed to be at.

As I was planning my route I had the brilliant thought (well, I had a thought anyway) to look up Dallas hobby shops and try find one close by. The one closest to the audition was Mike's Hobby Shop. I haven't been to any in several years but I some of them from the past. I knew this one was pretty well stocked and the web site said it was in a new, bigger location. So Mike's was put on the list to visit.

On the way I decided to stop in Waco to stretch my legs. I hooked it out to the Lake Waco flying site. I knew things had changed but I did not know by how much. What used to be a public access site was now gated (and locked on this cool day). This certainly has plusses for the club but it's also sad in a way. (I do remember being at events there where they had trouble keeping the general public out of the pits because they had a belief they could go anywhere they wanted at a public facility.) Traffic moved faster than I thought it would so I kicked myself for not looking up directions for Max Blose's shop.

After the boy's audition we drove the 10 additional miles north to Mike's. I'll diverge here to discuss the shortcoming of mapping iprograms like MapQuest. If you have the time, or inclination, you should double check the route with a competitive program. Today MapQuest had me exit and do a U-...Continue Reading
Posted by GRW3 | Mar 04, 2006 @ 12:45 AM | 7,708 Views
Tools again. After years of trying to use my hands, rubber bands, blocks of wood, etc., etc. I bought some clamps. While I lost some of them during my downtime, they were among my first tool purchases. With balsa, I don't like the spring loaded clamps. I want to control the amount of force on the parts. Don't forget to have some wood blocks to augment the force of the clamps.

The picture below shows the clamps on the shelf that I have the stereo on. The stereo is a high powered Pioneer that I run through a couple of cheap Pioneer speakers. It may seem like overkill but it was just sitting in the attic after being replaced with a superior Yamaha unit. I have a CD player and an XM satellite radio attached. I love XM radio. Top channels - Bluegrass, XCountry (Americana), Frank's Place (American Songbook), Classical, Fox News, NASCAR.

I keep a guitar in the garage to play while I'm thinking about my next action or just hanging out. It's a cheap Chinese Martin copy but it's pretty good for the money. I will also carry this guitar to the field with me. I plan to make a Porter Wagoner mod to the guitar in the near future.
Posted by GRW3 | Mar 02, 2006 @ 10:39 AM | 7,191 Views
The latest issue of Model Aviation contains a note that there will be no "Grand Event" this year as there were no offers to host it. Well, it could be that people just don't think that putting on a extravaganza for non AMA members is such a Grand Idea!

The Grand Event was held in Waco last year and several people I spoke to were considering attending until they learned it was not for them. The flyer basically said not to bother bringing airplanes because the event was not for AMA member participation, it was to attract new AMA members.

Spending big money on an event for non members seems foolish to me. Particularly since some of the money went to things that don't fly like rockets, cars and boats. Maybe the trade associations picked up the tab for this but I'm doubting it.

I believe a proper Grand Event would be aimed at the members who foot the bills. The AMA could use some sort of event that is more akin to the EAA's Oshkosh than to either the Grand Event idea or the Nationals.