CurmudgeonAir's blog View Details
Posted by CurmudgeonAir | Feb 24, 2016 @ 03:36 PM | 5,343 Views
Iíve been building and flying foam planes now for two and a half years, and I have enjoyed every bit of it. But after building nearly 15 or so planes, I wanted to do something a little different.

I wanted to build something that was a little more scale than most of the things I had been seeing designed for Dollar Tree foam. And I wanted another biplane. I decided to build a SE5a that looked more scale than most of the plans I have seen for foam while still retaining a relative ease of construction that would make it possible for most builders to replicate the design. I wanted something that could have as many scale details as the builder wanted, or that could be left relatively un-detailed and still look scale from any distance. I wanted ailerons on both upper and lower wings. It had to be relatively light Ė not much more than 25 oz., and it should have removable wings for transportation.

There are lots of plans out there for the SE5a. Itís a popular plane. The two problems with most designs Iíve seen for foam are the cabane and the landing gear. Iíve seen a number of cabane designs for biplanes and specifically for the SE5a, but I found none of them satisfactory for a mostly scale model that would be relatively easy to duplicate. I think I have come up with a design that looks right, is strong enough to hold up, reasonably light, and that can be reproduced at the bench with minimal tools.

Starting there, I gathered my research material and starting...Continue Reading
Posted by CurmudgeonAir | Mar 24, 2015 @ 04:15 PM | 6,071 Views
The methods I used for creating this decal art are very computer and software intensive, but many builders have access to similar software and should be able to adapt these techniques to their situations.

The hardest part is probably coming up with an overall design in the first place. It is invaluable to be able to take the DXF or pdf plans for the plane into some sort of software that allows for graphic experimentation. I use Adobe Illustrator for most of what I do and sometimes Adobe Photoshop. I do all of my CAD drawing in an old version of Rhino and it is easy enough to move a design from one of these to another.

Typically, Iíll do a three view drawing of the plane from plans to scale in Rhino and export that as an Adobe Illustrator file. In Illustrator I can simulate painting and create my decals to the precise sizes needed.

Let me be clear at the outset that the Curmudgeon Stik was intentionally very decal intensive, but the same techniques that I used here also work Ė with much less effort Ė for less complicated artwork.

For the Curmudgeon Stik I settled on a flame theme and went out on the web collecting graphics that lent themselves to that idea. All of the flames on the plane were finally derived from the sheet in photo 1 which was from a free vector art site. The patterns were stretched and modified until I got something I liked and then colored and overlaid to get the final pattern. I donít want to spend time here addressing the whole idea...Continue Reading
Posted by CurmudgeonAir | Mar 24, 2015 @ 03:56 PM | 5,829 Views
Name: Curmudgeon Stik II.jpg
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Description: The Curmudgeon Stik II

Once I decided to build a mono-winged version of Russ 40ís Trainer Type Plane, I developed several goals. I had built a biplane version using an arrow shaft fuselage (as designed) that flew wonderfully and I didnít want to replicate that. I decided on a box fuselage and I wanted something that looked good in the air and on the ground. I had been reading Fred Beckerís informative post on making tissue paper decals ( and was intrigued. I decided to see where that could lead. I was quite willing to spend more time decorating this one than actually building it.

The wing and tail on the Curmudgeon Stik are directly from Russ 40ís TTP thread ( ). The only innovation here is the fuselage and the decoration. I ended up doing things slightly differently than Fred did with the decals, and part II will go through that whole process.

In the prototype version of the Curmudgeon Stik, I cut lightening holes down the rear of the fuselage and ended up with something that was actually as light as the arrow shaft. Unfortunately, I couldnít land the plane without breaking off the back end! That was when I decided to stop worrying so much about the weight and just build it strong.

The photos below show the construction of the fuselage. I used white gorilla glue throughout, 1/16 ply for the landing gear reinforcement and the electronics tray, and a solid styrofoam nose section that glues inside the fuselage box for crash resistance. The landing gear was made from 1/16 by 1 inch aluminum bar stock from the hardware store.

The fuselage with tail section came in at 132 grams after covering and decoration.
Once the wing and the tail pieces were built and covered, work could begin in earnest on the decals.

I didnít paint anything at this point. You donít want to paint before you have all of your decals planned. There will be more on that in the next part.

Continued in Part 2
Posted by CurmudgeonAir | Sep 01, 2014 @ 05:36 PM | 5,539 Views
The OB2 needs a pilot! I'm currently training this guy:
Posted by CurmudgeonAir | Aug 05, 2014 @ 09:07 PM | 6,863 Views
I made any number of flights with the ďblue wonderĒ motor and a variety of props from the original 8 x 4 APC up through a 10 x 4.7. Just as Josh says on the Flitetest site, the Baby Blender flies on a BW, but it doesnít have much penetration in any wind at all. In the end I traded the Blue Wonder out for a Firepower 400 sport I had from a previous build. I tried the 8 x 4 APC prop but settled on a GWS 9 x 5 that is the recommended prop for that motor.

Itís a heavier motor and I was able to move the battery back a bit from the very front of the power pod. That combination seems to work well with this plane.

The biggest problem continued to be that it would not take off or land in grass. As you can see in the video (below), it would take off from asphalt (or even the roof of my van), but not grass. The wheels were just about right at the CG and by the time the tail left the ground on take-off, it just tipped over forward. Finally, I had to move the landing gear off the wing. Mounting it directly in front of the wing shifted enough weight behind the wheels to solve the problem for good. You can see that in the video.

At this point the OB2 is a nice little plane. It has a character all its own. Many of the modifications Iíve seen that make it longer lose that character even if they fly better. I like the look, and thatís what drew me too it in the first place.

Different people want different things out of their planes. Iíve learned to build a new design...Continue Reading
Posted by CurmudgeonAir | Aug 03, 2014 @ 03:15 PM | 6,146 Views
Hereís a video of the second ďmaidenĒ flight. The CG is spot on, but the throws were way off and I had not added any expo at this point. It made for an interesting flight. The landing gear is in the originally designed position on the leading edge of the bottom wing. There was work left to be done, obviously.
Solutions in Part 3.

OB2 The Maiden 2 (2 min 40 sec)

Posted by CurmudgeonAir | Aug 01, 2014 @ 02:02 PM | 6,825 Views
In March I decided that I wanted to build one of the designs that had intrigued me ever since I started building RC planes about a year ago. The ďBaby Blender,Ē designed by Josh Bixler at, had a lot going for it. First of all, it was just plain cute. Secondly, it was not all that hard to build, and there were enough videos out on the web of it flying that it seemed a safe bet that it was a well-designed plane.

The designs are based on a few simple principles: A build should be quick and easy. Most of the time, Josh Bixler builds one in a 40 minute video. Materials are cheap Ė Adamsí Redi-Board from the Dollar Tree Store is the material of choice. Almost everything is fastened together with hot glue. The idea at that site has always been to encourage people to build planes and fly! And I like that and think these guys are great.

Thatís all well and good, but like everything, there are tradeoffs. To make things easy and add strength, the designs leave the paper on the Redi-Board. In my shop Iíve weighed the paper at half the weight of the foam board. If you want to build light, you need to get rid of the paper. Actually that isnít at all hard to do. As a matter of fact, if you leave it on the foam and build per instructions, it will start peeling off shortly after the first time your plane gets wet in the morning dew. Youíll then spend a good deal of time after every flying session...Continue Reading
Posted by CurmudgeonAir | Jul 31, 2014 @ 07:27 PM | 6,607 Views
"Curmudgeon" - noun; a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man. I guess that about sums it up.

But it was not always thus. There was a time when I had no idea what a curmudgeon was. I was in Jr. High School and a friend of my father's gave him two U-control line planes that he no longer wanted and told my dad to give them to his boys. They were wonderful things. Both bi-planes, they had wingspans around 40 inches. One was a Spad and the other may have been Sopwith Camel. It was a long time ago and I’m not sure any longer. They had balsa frames covered in silk span and dope. They also had very noisy gas engines (one was a .35 and the other a .19), and my brother and I were afraid to fly them for fear we would crash and ruin them.

We would take them out in the back yard now and then and fuel them up before scraping the skin off our fingers trying to get them started. Once running they filled the yard with smoke and made so much noise you couldn't talk to each other.
I bought model airplane magazines and poured over them trying to figure out how to fly these things. And it was there that I got my introduction to radio controlled model aircraft. But this was back in the late 50’s and early 60’s and RC was an expensive proposition back then – especially for a kid.

When I was in college my mother said she would like to have those planes gone, so my brother and I took them out to a big open field and, without much of a clue about...Continue Reading