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Posted by mechmove | Nov 15, 2021 @ 01:23 AM | 6,015 Views
Range check: I ranged checked both my Explorer and Pulsar to 186 ft. Fellow pilot held up and rotated the model. RSSI stayed at 35 for a long period of time as I walked away. I got “RSSI low” and “RSSI critical” before it went to 0. We confirmed main surfaces moving just before RSSI went to 0. Trying to move controls at RSSI 0 yields nothing. At some point there is “telemetry lost”. Then as I move closer, I will get “telemetry recovered”, control is reestablished. I find this an interesting series of events, I would be curious if there were any RSSI alerts prior to loss of control on my Explorer last week. I’ll have to ask the pilot flying next time.

Based on 186 ft, the assumed range would be from 1,900 to 5,600 ft, with attenuation factors of 10 and 30. This is more than enough for anyone. But today was a clear and sunny day. I’m wondering how much this would change in different sky conditions. Perhaps this is another range test. I was surprised my Garmin 96c couldn’t find enough satellites, so I used my smartphone to measure distance.

I am uncertain if I will install satellite antenna on my Explorer. Perhaps extending the antenna did the trick. It would be a simple install since the aerial mount is already provided. With so much carbon, this would be good insurance in a competition environment. But I don’t compete nor will I fly too far out due to limitations of the flying environment. I can certainly see flying in Visalia California there are virtually no...Continue Reading
Posted by mechmove | Nov 13, 2021 @ 07:37 PM | 6,027 Views
Today I spent time with my hand-launch. I forgot my batteries for my electrics.

Even though I couldn’t range test and fly my Explorer, I was able to discuss the incident with my fellow pilots. Regarding my recent posts about the loss of control of my Explorer comes a plausible theory about what happened that fateful morning. The upshot, frSky is probably not to blame. The aural warnings provide so much great information, we can probably rule out a bad controlling signal. Another possibility: spatial disorientation by pilot flying caused by flying at a distance, resulting in loss of control.

I was some distance from the pilot flying (my new plane) when things didn't look right. I went over to the pilot but the plane was already out of control. I don't know what warnings he got, if any. Since all I ever heard was “telemetry” warnings, RSSI could have been intact the entire time. Only reason I was able to recover the plane was because I ran closer to it and got a better visual perspective. I was running thinking there was a problem with the controlling signal. So the telemetry warnings were purely coincidental, but not the cause. This is a reasonable explanation that makes perfect sense. I was advised in this situation, bring down the flaps. This will minimize damage by lowering speed.

If this is in fact what happened, I don’t blame the pilot flying at all, any one of us could make this same mistake, I’ve probably made it myself in my early days of flying RC.

I will still commence with a thorough range check tomorrow!
Posted by mechmove | Nov 13, 2021 @ 12:27 AM | 6,202 Views
Tonight, my lipos are charging. Below is a pic of the antenna aerials exiting my Pulsars’ 4m fuse. The aerial mount is from SoaringUSA. I was originally planning to route with heat shrink, but this is a more permanent solution. I also used blue loctight to secure the screws holding the prop. Brake is set to 100% hard. Motor on tests result in plenty of pulling power even at 1/2 throttle. Seems like too much torque, I hope this plane stays right side up on launch!

For my range checks, I will be using my Garmin 96c to determine distance traversed. My WAAS-enabled GPS is accurate to less than 3 meters. The frSky range check mode attenuates the signal by a factor of 10 in the worst case up the 30 for the best case, according to the gr8 documention. This means if telemetry is lost at 100ft, your assumed range will be anywhere from 1000 ft to 3000 ft +/- 10 ft fudge factor. Always go with the lowest number. Remember this is distance from the radio to the airplane. The altimeter is reading changes in pressure and reporting height above ground, if you reset before flight. Otherwise it will boot up at a non zero altitude, in my case it tends to be 30 meters.

Also regarding range, I read 2.4 ghz signals can be subject to the effects of temperature and humidity. So on an overcast day with moisture in the air, the signals will have a harder time traveling to the aircraft. But I am no expert, we have to assume the worst. If true, a range check cannot possibly account for this.

...Continue Reading
Posted by mechmove | Nov 06, 2021 @ 09:48 PM | 14,127 Views
I am about to document a near disaster. I got lucky. I am uncertain about Frsky now.

I flew my Explorer F5J 3.8m for the first time on my new frSky setup. It flew great, but I kept it close in. I landed, changed batteries, then let my friend who sold me the plane fly it. He flew it in competition with his Futaba. He was working a thermal, and ended up losing control of it at a fair distance (he was well within 2km, the specified range). He didn’t know what to do, so he handed me the controls, and the only thing I could do was run towards the plane. It worked, “telemetry recovered”, glider landed without incident.

I don’t know what to think. I thought frSky would be my final system, but it just might be the end for me.

Some details, receiver is an frsky GR8, Radio is Taranis X9D Plus 2019 ACCESS. I did lower my telemetry alarm values for access protocol to 32/35 as recommended. Full disclosure, I did not do a range check.

The way it failed was interesting, the plane was looping out of control and losing altitude at a distance and my transmitter was yelling “telemetry lost”, “ telemetry recovered”, quickly and repeatedly, until I came within range to get a final “telemetry recovered”. I have failsafe as HOLD. He has flown the same plane much further out on his Futaba system, which is also many times the cost. 

I have the same set up in my other electrics, the Supra and Alpha 2m, I fly those fairly close in, I did not encounter that problem. However my Supra did...Continue Reading
Posted by mechmove | Nov 05, 2021 @ 09:43 PM | 20,737 Views
I purchased my Pulsar 4m from SoaringUSA back in July. I had planned to get it flying not long after that. But wired one of the MKS servos backwards and ended up sending it back in to MKS USA for repair. This after I had someone do a great job with the radio installation. Then I had an opportunity to purchase an Explorer F5J 3.8m. The seller let me fly it prior to purchase, I knew it was for me.

As of this evening, I completed the OpenTX radio program for both ships. Both have frSky gr8 receivers with all the telemetry required for safety. The Pulsar still needs the antenna routed outside the fuse.

My configuration:

Explorer F5J 3.8m, sharp wing tips
Flying Weight: 41.4 ounces
CG: 118mm from LE with tail weight.
control throws:
Batteries: 3s 850mA, motor and receiver.
Issues to be ironed out (future): some double neutral on flaps.
Comments: The test flight was with tail weight. Since I like the way it flew, it will stay. Same battery. The flaps are not moving with ailerons in normal flight, this is recommended setup according to Nan models. The throws look way too extreme, but I don't have experience with this glider. This glider came with a ALTIS NANO programmed for F5J. I removed it for the time being, I don't want any restrictions on the maiden flight.

Pulsar Pro 4e Compact 4m
Flying Weight: 65.4 ounces (1854 gms)
CG: 100mm from LE
control throws :
Batteries:...Continue Reading
Posted by mechmove | Oct 28, 2021 @ 09:46 PM | 21,576 Views

I had some reservation about moving my electrics to my Taranis X9D, but I'm glad I did. My main concern was having crow on the throttle stick and motor control on the left slider, which I used as camber on my Futaba. I was afraid it would cause confusion. But the eSoar download makes this conversion easy. The esoarplus_300 program is perfectly adapted to electric gliders.

I like the elaborate motor arming logic, very little possibility of an “accident”. Since the throttle stick is held by elastic band in the full UP position for crow, the motor on the left slider switch works much better than I expected. With the slider detent, I can easily choose between low and high power settings. To enable the motor, the plane must be on the ground, while you press and hold controls. A distinctive siren indicates an armed throttle, along with a beep every few seconds, just like a Castle speed controller.

If the throttle is armed, and you start engaging throttle from closed, there is a “Power” callout before the dead zone terminates and the prop starts spinning. If the throttle is not armed, that is called out as well, so there’s no doubt if you keep moving the throttle forward. This is a very clever “last minute” safety feature.

The entire motor logic is optimized for safety and ease of use. On my Futaba I had a two position switch as “safety”, no wonder I was so nervous!

...Continue Reading
Posted by mechmove | Oct 28, 2021 @ 08:16 AM | 18,584 Views
The takeaway, OpenTX and frSky!

After experiencing the OpenTx world on my DLG, I’ve started the process of migrating from Futaba. I installed a gr8 ACCESS receiver in my Supra Electric with full telemetry. Although the Supra still experiences rare and unresolved launch issues, it seems to be flying fine with the new radio and receiver. I setup an altitude alarm to trigger at 400ft. Now there will be no doubt about flying within limits of the field!

My Alpha 2m was just migrated, will be flown this weekend. My new Pulsar 4m will be setup with the same when the new receivers arrive. I also acquired a Explorer 3 electric, waiting receiver installation.

Nothing but good things to say about OpenTX and associated hardware.
Posted by mechmove | Sep 04, 2021 @ 11:39 PM | 26,813 Views
I had the servos and motor installed by an experienced builder, this is my first attempt at CG. Looks like lots of nose weight required, or better yet maybe a larger battery. Was planning on using my 3s 1.3aH tp pack, but too light. This is turning out to be a lot heavier than I wished for. Currently at 57 ounces with out battery.

Also, look closely at the tail, it’s slightly lopsided with respect to the wing, it may be difficult to notice in the photo, but its quite apparent . The elevator hinge came glued to the tail boom. I wouldn’t have expected this.

UPDATE 11/22, its had several flights, it’s not an issue. I’m leaving it the way it is. It’s an ultra low speed floater with CG at 100mm, or it appears to be flying slow due to its size. Just like watching a a380 landing.
Posted by mechmove | Sep 03, 2021 @ 09:59 AM | 27,887 Views
I am not compensated for this!

29 USD, plus a section of old PVC pipe, plus three dollars worth of pipe insulation from Home Depot. Handling my planes is so much easier with this small investment!
Posted by mechmove | Aug 26, 2021 @ 08:39 AM | 13,656 Views
They fit in my Prius, but why not upgrade them to First Class? Last day with the Yukon, so much easier to load my planes. The irony, no one complains when I drive this car slow.
Posted by mechmove | Aug 25, 2021 @ 11:09 PM | 11,028 Views
This morning, I departed for Long Beach in my rented GMC Yukon. This SUV is very comfortable for long drives. I feel as if I am arriving into Long beach as VIP. I never felt like that in my Prius, its a struggle to drive that far, although the gas mileage is very good, I usually arrive tired and a little beat up.

Big SUVs... I get it.

When I arrived, the flying pilots, an experienced DLG guy and (2) competition grade pilots flying electrics. I always get a kick out of talking shop with fellow pilots. I managed to do some flying with my Alpha, but spent most of the time talking and learning. The DLG pilot gave me some good hints on DLG repair. Wet paper towel and a hot covering iron to remove kinks and creases. Works like a charm. Also an added benefit, it helps to cure CA to its maximum strength, and he confirmed the BCH DLG can accept foam-safe CA. Since I keep the CA in a refrigerator, it never cures on its own. The heat acts as a kicker. The CA was used to join the broken bits, and tighten up spots of delamination as a result of impact. I decided to reinforce the broken area post-repair with thin clear tape to smooth it out even more. The final result is rock solid, not perfect or pretty by any means, but I am ready to throw again tomorrow morning.

Looking forward for my final commute in the Yukon, I might have to sell my Prius and get into something that is more comfortable for longer drives.
Posted by mechmove | Aug 24, 2021 @ 08:40 PM | 15,172 Views
This morning, I arrived at Long Beach around 9:45am, unpacked my Alpha 2m and sun screened up. Two pilots out in the field, one DLG and an electric polyhedral (I found out this one was built from a kit made in America). Both were climbing like crazy, the DLG was probably higher than the electric! I launched and found plenty of unstable rising air. I had to employ steep wide turns several times to avoid busting the 400ft altitude restriction. Had a nice conversation with the electric pilot. He has a glider and ppl rating, also teaches instrument flying. The glider is a kit made in Arizona. You assemble and cover it. The fully built ship flys great.

After completing flying, my plan was to go out to eat, then return to the park to fly my Supra. I found a Mexican place with lots of good ratings, “Str8 Up Tacos” in Lakewood. If you come out to Long Beach to fly, there is chance you might hit this place up. I highly recommend the food, BUT be careful driving into the parking lot!

I ended up driving up the curb and destroying my front tire and rim. Est. a day in the shop. I wonder how I might have misjudged it, but others who heard the accident told me it happens all the time. There is an optical illusion, the opening for the driveway appears to be where it is not. The actual opening is off to the side. I witnessed another driver do the same thing 20 minutes later, but her car survived. While the car is in repair, I took the opportunity to rent a GMC Yukon, my accident car is a Prius C. I feel as if I am living in the lap of luxury, powerful AC, my 2 planes fit in the car with no issues, room for a lot more. Plus a comfortable and easy commute to Long Beach. And I sit higher than everyone else in traffic. Too bad for the gas mileage.

I will continue enjoying my time off, can’t let these things take you down.

Thanks for reading.
Posted by mechmove | Aug 24, 2021 @ 09:20 AM | 17,124 Views
Yesterday, I did notice several real aircraft flying low over the field. Going to sky vector, the TAC chart does not have this field mapped. This means the VFR pilot flying into Long Beach will not be aware of radio control aircraft below 400 feet. Since these planes are landing at Long Beach, they are allowed to go even lower! I do not know if these pilots are given a warning by the tower they’re about to cross a radio control field. Since we are allowed up to 400 feet, the TAC chart should have a warning not go any lower when landing at Long Beach. Next time I will have my PCAS MRX to get an idea about how low they actually are.
Posted by mechmove | Aug 24, 2021 @ 09:11 AM | 17,089 Views
Yesterday morning, I went to my local park around 9am to catch the rising sun. The field was nearly empty. I launched a few times, then as the winds from thermal generation picked up, I was able to stay aloft longer. I’ve caught many a thermal with my electrics in the past, but this was different, purely out of my own power. My final launch was downwind for speed, then coming upwind to penetrate any thermals. It worked pretty good, but it ended with the dumbest move I’ve ever made in my flying career, I attempted a downwind landing, and the ship came in faster than anticipated, I ended up jumping over the plane, and I cleared it, but the fin snapped! I bent it back into place, but need to attempt a repair. I was informed by the previous owner any type of CA will not work, I need to go in with epoxy. The epoxy needs to be low viscosity since I will be poking small holes for the glue to deep in and harden. I want to do this repair right.

Despite the bad landing, I am very happy about the DLG thing. To think a spent on a 4m Pulsar (installation in progress), I could have had a very nice DLG.

I went to Long Beach in the evening to fly my electrics. The wind was constant. I would not have enjoyed as much with my DLG, this is where a motor helps to extend flight times. At least you get extended stick time.

I assembled my Supra for a trial run, it was 7:15pm and getting dark. I did a fully assembled motor on trial launch, but no flying. I couldn’t tell how the ship would respond after letting go. I might have someone launch it for me so I can be on the controls ASAP.
Posted by mechmove | Aug 23, 2021 @ 09:07 AM | 13,922 Views
For the next launch, I will not be using any wing camber, will set CG to 100mm, and elevator to -1 degree, UP. I will check “pulling” power regarding what attitude the plane will want to climb prior to release. I do not know if that is it good indicator, it could have been coincidence I ‘felt’ the plane wanted to climb more vertical rather than horizontal. I should have stopped the launch right at that time.

I’ll see what kind of trim will be required at altitude.

I want this to work, I need to move on to other things.
Posted by mechmove | Aug 22, 2021 @ 10:05 AM | 20,946 Views
Any day I can fly is a good day, but there are rare occasions where I am able to experience something in RC that will change my future as a pilot. I had such a day yesterday when I was able to fly my new DLG with assistance from some of the experienced folks in Long Beach.

I started the morning early to download and install Adrians’ 5.1 version of his DLG software, available right here. Installation worked like a charm, and most things were set almost immediately. The power of open source! I drove to Long Beach in light rain. Everyone was flying and picking up thermals in moisture!

One thing I learned, the launch button needs to be on a momentary switch. After an inverted launch, I practiced without it. My launches were more horizontal, but didn’t cause a problem in a empty field. I was able to engage 1 low level thermal, but didn’t stay with it since I am still learning the plane.

After coming home, I enabled the new Sl switch on my new x9d + 2019, for launch mode. I was able to figure out the location of the momentary button being far to the right means you have to hold the transmitter vertical during launch so your thumb does not accidentally engage the rudder. It also prevents the right arm from engaging the primary flight controls during launch. This is a very clever design!

Still, I am considering upgrading the existing leftmost switch to a robust momentary, the same one some guys at the field have installed on their transmitters. A few also installed a hand harness using a dremal tool so a neck strap is not needed.

I am very grateful to one of the DLG pilots on this forum who sold me his BCH DLG. Without this, my future in RC wouldn’t have taken this turn.
Posted by mechmove | Aug 19, 2021 @ 11:50 PM | 34,086 Views
After installing the latest firmware updates to my radio and receiver, these are my first impressions. Pretty cool to have "out of the box" telemetry in a tiny receiver which displays signal strength and a vocal "telemetry lost / recovered". What I would have given to know this when I lost my AVA back in 2013.

I downloaded an excellent DLG template by jfrickmann on Github: I removed the tail weight, and set CG to 76mm from leading edge with the new receiver mounted in the nose, and the battery under the wing.

I was able to dial in elevator and rudder. I still need to fine tune the ailerons, and assign flight modes to the desired buttons. I downloaded some voice files for each mode. FrSky seems to be the best of the Open Source concept, affordable price and good support from the user community.
Posted by mechmove | Aug 18, 2021 @ 08:52 AM | 21,535 Views
I’ve always been a simulator person. Even before I got my PPL, I was doing desktop flight simulators. This makes me a gamer. I believe simulators can make you a better pilot whether are you are a real world or RC pilot.

Consider what happened to me last Saturday at El Dorado State Park. When the airplane flipped on its back and started climbing upside down, it was instinctive for me to dial in the correct control inputs in order to climb to a safe altitude, without thinking too hard about it. I could’ve cut the power, or attempted recovery way too low and had a bad outcome. For any pilot who has practiced aerobatics, this is a no-brainer. But for someone like myself the only way I could become acquainted with inverted flight was with Real Flight and the USB control. Last month, I started doing aerobatics in the Mistral glider purely out of fun. I never actually thought I would fly any of my gliders in such a manner as my interest is in thermal duration flying, not aerobatics.

When I put the entire thing in context, I was actually practicing unusual attitudes in Real flight. If you have a PPL, you probably considered spin training even though it’s not part of the FAA exam. Even though you know the theory, you would be safer knowing how to recover an airplane in a spin in a controlled environment with an instructor. Before I got my PPL, I was flying in a Virtual air traffic control environment with full voice. My flight instructor did comment that my radio work was excellent. It’s not about me, but how I practiced. These techniques which are available to everyone. Many real world pilots today use Microsoft flight simulator to practice approaches into new airports.

Every RC pilot should spend time playing in the simulator as a matter of keeping skills up. Make sure to go out of your comfort zone. You never know what you’ll encounter at the field.
Posted by mechmove | Aug 16, 2021 @ 09:16 AM | 23,307 Views
Sunday, El Dorado State Park, arrived at 3:40pm. Weather was clear and hot and some wind. Flew my Alpha 2m, relaxing, fun, no surprises. I specd out once, needed reflex and steep wide turns to lose altitude. Comes down fast.

I worked on fine tuning crow settings, which is on my left camber slider switch. Previously had flaps only. Dialed in some spoilerons for steeper approaches. Probably need more for better short field performance. The steeper the approach the more difficult it is to flare for a soft landing. Although the fuse is lined with carbon for hard landings, a thick grass field helps.

I also configured a tiny amount of up elevator for launch on the left momentary switch, just like the hand-launch folks. Will experiment with adding launch camber for medium power climb-out next time.

This is what flying should be, learning with no hassles or headaches.

My frSky gear arrived today from FedEx. I expect to have my DLG up and running sometime this week.
Posted by mechmove | Aug 15, 2021 @ 12:59 AM | 17,572 Views
After coming home from dinner, I dispatched myself to the garage and started my formal inquiry regarding tonight’s Supra incident. The initial problem: the motor ON hand launch resulted in a backwards inverted climb-out. Maybe it will become “a thing”, its not a bug, it’s a feature!

Almost everything was where I had expected it, I was on the correct radio program, stab trim was zero and matched the wing incidence. One thing was off, my battery was positioned for cg at 108mm from LE which is considered way aft. That was not intended. But I was able to fly the ship with lots of forward elevator pressure after turning it right side up.

The question is how much down-trim would be required for a safe and predictable climb-out? I shouldn’t have to guess this number.

Previous launches had about - 7 degrees of trim, and it stayed there. Negative pitch on a full moving stab means UP trim,

With CG way aft, it appears zero stab trim results in too much UP. It was as if the elevator was in the full BACK position for a straight up, then a pitch backwards climb. Never saw an airplane do such a stunt. Did the rearward CG contribute? I would have expected a downward pitch when going from -6 to zero degrees on a full moving stabilizer.

When I looked at the stab at the field after landing, it looked like there was too much UP elevator. I never changed the stab trim, there was no time during the flight. Based on this visual, I would have known that down...Continue Reading