GimpyPilot's blog - RC Groups
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Posted by GimpyPilot | May 29, 2011 @ 01:09 AM | 4,735 Views
I got a fair bit of work done on the Bug today, and I made my first trip to the LHS to pickup the Power 25, navigation and position light components, some paint, 5-min epoxy, some light ply and birch, X-acto blades and the pushrod and sleeves I will use for the rudders.

I got the flaps and slats cut into both wings, and rehinged - trim paint remains.

This was interesting as I found there is a 3rd carbon spar in the wing that stretches from an unknown place inboard on the wing to very far outboard.
...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | May 24, 2011 @ 12:58 PM | 4,768 Views
Well the time has come and I am about to begin the next Funscale build in my tribute to the Centennial of Naval Aviation.

Subject for this next build is the F/A-18C Hornet.

I ordered an airframe only Starmax/Blitz RC Works 90mm F/A-18C in Jolly Roger scheme from Banana Hobby this morning.

I will build this plane as a pusher instead of as an EDF, because the 4 minute flight times are just too low for me.

Power will be courtesy of an E-Flite Power 25 and 9x?? pusher prop, driven by a Turnigy DLux 70A ESC. Juice will flow from Turnigy Nano-Tech 4S 3000mAh 25-50C battery. I expect 8-10 minute flight times.

I have ordered HXT-900 and HXT12K metal gear servos from Hobby King for the control surfaces.

Changes from the stock Starmax/Blitz RC Works kit will be flying tail (independently actuated by HXT12K metal gear servos), rotating retracts with semi scale struts (the X-Flight struts), flaps and slats, and drooping ailerons when the flaps are deployed.

I estimate flying weight at between 5 lbs and 5 lbs 4 oz.

I will also weather the plane and intend to install a full-house scale lighting setup, and the Hyperdyne RGB color changing afterburner effect lighting.

Between completing our move to San Diego and upcoming vacation to Galveston, I expect to finish the build in late June.

Waiting on confirmation from Banana Hobby and about to pull trigger with Hobby King.

Stay tuned for updates.
Posted by GimpyPilot | Jan 19, 2011 @ 02:55 PM | 4,759 Views
Well, now that my fleet has expanded to 4 (PZ T-28 Trojan, PZ Extra 300, E-Flite UMX Beast micro, E-Flite/Blade 120SR micro-heli), I have enjoyed some tremendous flying days.

I also recently added PhoenixPro RC Simulator since GimpyWife and GimpyDaughter have expressed an interest in learning how to fly, expanding my virtual fleet to some 120+ aircraft.

The weather here in San Diego has been tremendous and so I have been flying the 120SR just outside the front door as well as inside the RV, and also the UMX Beast when winds allow. The Trojan just keeps on keeping on and remains a joy when flying at dusk and into night.

I recently picked up the PZ Extra 300 again and have been flying it hard in preparation for possibly adding the new Carbon-Z Yak-54. I have seen this plane flown by several pilots now of varying skill and have all but decided to add it to my stable.

I am really enjoying the heli flying, both the real 120SR as well as in the Phoenix simulator and will probably add a larger CP heli later this year, for an eventual scale build (either an MD500 or Airwolf, not decided yet). Since I have had such great luck with HH products (all 4 aircraft, both radios, and the simulator), I am leaning towards the Blade 400 right now.

Looking forward to a great year full of RC and full scale aviation.
Posted by GimpyPilot | Jan 03, 2011 @ 05:37 PM | 4,619 Views
Well, I and my new Blade 120SR have both survived a week of flying.

I really like the challenge from flying the heli, even though with fixed pitch and a 45 degree flybar it is fairly benign. I have nose-out hovering, and nose-left hovering down pretty well. Nose-in and nose-right are still a struggle, as is flying outdoors, but it is a tough little bird.

I have hit 40 flights now, about 4 hours of flight time. I can take off and land from small areas (maybe twice the size of the rotor disc).

I finally managed to throw a control link from the flybar to the rotor head in a crash in the living room, and have had to replace one lost body grommet, but other than that it just keeps on ticking.

Great little bird, I recommend it for anyone wanting to get into heli flight.
Posted by GimpyPilot | Dec 28, 2010 @ 10:17 AM | 5,021 Views
So I was at the mall in San Diego recently when my wife came out to see my daughter and I, and we noticed a sign that read the following:

'I will not be vague about my wants, because vagueness leads to socks, ties and underwear.'

So, this year I informed GimpyWife that I would handle the gifts she and GimpyDaughter would be getting me for Christmas.

So after our 1400 mile cross country journey in my trusty V8 Grand Cherokee, we stopped into a small hobby shop and I picked out the first of two new additions to my fleet, an E-Flite Beast UMx biplane.

I had seen one of these great little flyers in the able hands of one of my friends at the field in San Diego recently, and I simply had to have one. The Beast is highly modified Pitts S12 biplane, the last plane designed by Curtiss Pitts, yes, that Pitts. It is a large plane and is powered in full scale by a 360-400hp Russian 9 cylinder radial. If you have never seen one of these in person, you simply must do whatever it takes. This is pure, smoke and fire, stick and rudder, round engine aviation goodness.

So E-Flite has previously modelled The Beast in a large size electric, and earlier this year added the micro size. This thing is NOT your father's micro, it is of extremely high fit and finish, has a great looking clear canopy, a powerful tiny little brushless outrunner, and it flies great. I have one battery through mine as the conditions in Wichita KS have been cloudy and F'ing cold with a chance...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Nov 12, 2010 @ 12:46 AM | 5,709 Views
Flight Operations Update.

The Trojan now has 25 flights on it, half of them at night.

I recently finished off the installation of the new wing mounted landing lights and the E-Flite Power 10 motor. With the Power 10 installed the cg worked out to 2" from the LE instead of the desired 2.5"

To work the balance issue out I installed a light ply plate with some velcro and a velcro strap so that I could install the battery further aft. Works like a champ. AUW with a 2200 mAh 25C battery is now 39 Oz, 9 Oz heavier than stock - balanced right at 2.5". I can feel the weight difference, seems more stable in the wind and a little more ballistic when maneuvering but not quite as light on the controls as stock.

I also switched over to my new DX7 and must say I am impressed, range checked great - programming is a bit tougher than what I am used to on the DX6i but I will get used to it. It is nice having up to 7 custom mixes, plus auto-trim for flaps, etc. The ratcheting throttle is nice too.

Flight performance with the APC prop is outstanding. Acceleration is great, certainly better than I have had a need for when flying scale.

I had to use a washer and cut down a bronze bushing, but I am now able to make the Corsair prop work on the Power 10 prop adapter - looks great, and runs smooth. I used a good Sharpie and put a black band across the yellow tip to get the double stripe appearance -- really happy with how this looks now. It is a little slower...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Nov 04, 2010 @ 11:59 AM | 5,658 Views
Well it has been getting darker earlier as we head towards Daylight Savings Time, and knowing that it was coming (plus wanting the challenge of the build) I included a scale lighting system on my fun scale T-28 build.

I now have about 8 dusk/night flights on the Trojan and am happy to report that things are working pretty well. Orientation has not been an issue in any way, even flying into dark after sunset. I did not intend for this to be a true night flyer, but it is pretty easy to fly - I have been flying it a little later each of the past 3 nights, and it is working out pretty good, even as it gets darker.

That said there are some limitations. The nose gear landing light has been functioning very well - it is pretty bright, and being attached to the nose gear steers with rudder input. However, finding the optimum angle for actually illuminating the ground has been tough so far.

This is important because I need to be able to judge height above ground during the flare accurately. This is a result partly of the angle of the light, and partly it is a candlepower issue. So I am thinking about mounting a second LED to the nose gear for more illumination, and I may also add some wing mounted landing lights.

The wing mounted lights are interesting because to be scale the left wing light would be mounted in the leading edge about 2/3 span out, and the right wing would be a retractable style light that sits about 1/4 chord back from the leading edge, also...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Nov 02, 2010 @ 12:37 AM | 6,659 Views
Well, I maidened my fun scale Parkzone T-28C Trojan 'Slinghsot Johnny III' over the weekend, and after some minor tweaks have it pretty well trimmed out. It flies very nice, especially when the gear are tucked up.

It is flying so nice in fact that I flew it in the low light of dusk this evening to check out the lighting. All went pretty well.

Still some adjustments to be made with the prop and the retracts, but it is very solid. With the gear down and the flaps at the landing setting, it settles into a wonderful descent profile that makes every landing a greaser, and it looks awesome making the dogleg to final with everything hanging.

I have decided that the next plane in my TRAWING (training wing) will be a T-45C Goshawk in the same/similar scale. Looking around, I have found that the Global Fly/Hobby King EPO T-45 is roughly the right scale (1:9.4 for span, 1:12.6 for length, averages to 1:11), and it can be had in a kit form which is very attractive since I have decided to build it as a pusher prop rather than an EDF to give better performance and longer flight times.

Build plan is as follows:
* Build the airframe from kit only, replace EDF with a pusher prop setup that can use the 2200 mAh 3S batteries I use in PZ T-28C and PZ Extra 300
* Cut trailing edge to have high throw ailerons and semi-scale flaps
* Cut leading edge to have semi-scale drooping slat (operate off of flaps...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Oct 31, 2010 @ 12:42 PM | 8,247 Views
The build is complete. I started the build on October 16th and wrapped it up on October 30th. I finished with about 25 hours worth of pre-build, modifications, paint and graphics.

I began with new spare parts for a Navy T-28 and a Park 480 motor from the LHS, and added panel lines, scale flaps, mechanical retracts and a full house E-Flite light setup. This necessitated removal of a lot of foam from both the wing and the fuselage.

Fresh wing with panel lines applied by pen

Wing and fuselage with panel lines

Wing and fuselage cut for flaps and retracts
...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Oct 27, 2010 @ 12:36 PM | 5,209 Views
Fun scale PZ T-28 Build Update

Nearly complete - almost finished off paint and graphics this evening - all that remains is to add the last couple decals, paint the yellow band on the vertical, add some black for the oil cooler inlet on the front of the cowl, and lastly to add the heater exhaust vent on the port side in the exhaust panel. Then I will spray the whole thing with Minwax Polycrilic Satin Clear.

The decals came out a little opaque but look OK, maybe even better once the Satin Clear is on. I used Avery Clear Decal paper from Staples. I was hoping for a more gloss finish like waterslide material. I tried the Testors waterslide paper from the LHS but found that even after a coat of Minwax Polycrilic Clear Gloss they were not truly colorfast. Also, some of the decals for this scale model are so big they would not come off the backing cleanly and there was stretching. In fairness to the Testors product, I had never tried it before and suspect there may have been issues with my technique.

I spent some time on the cowl with dark grey on the gearcase and silver on the cylinders, and I am really happy with how it looks. I glued in some aluminum foil into the exhaust bay, and I painted the exahust ports silver as well.

I am not really happy with the panel lines but first attempt by hand so I will chalk it up to a learning experience. They looked great when I first put them on, but after I applied the paint they looked very ragged. The issue is that I...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Oct 19, 2010 @ 01:39 PM | 5,260 Views
Well I don't have photos to post but I have been taking them along the way.

Completed the wing modification and basic paint (Intermediate Blue spray on main wing structure, wing tips, flaps and ailerons left white - lots of contrast and similar to my previous Trojan).

Flaps are in and hinged (tape), flap coves are painted red and look awesome when the flaps are deployed. Flap servo pockets have been routed and dry fit, servo wires are run - control arm and operating rod installation remain to be completed.

The Nav and Anti-Collision lights are installed, and the wire has been hidden in a shallow x-acto slit under the skin - all lights checked out good and they look sick!

Cutouts are in for the Thunder Tiger .10 size main retracts. Going to try and use a single HS65MG servo center mounted in the wing to operate the gear. Location of the servo required some fancy bends for the operating rods, and cutting out some foam in the center bay of the fuselage to clear the servo arm. Installed some light ply reinforcements on both sides to keep servo from twisting when operating. Initial functional/operational tests and adjustment of the mains could occur this evening. The retract units will screw in to the light ply mounting plates I glued into the depression from the stock fixed gear plates.

At this time I am leaning against putting a speedbrake in - challenges are the hinging due to the curvature of the under side of the wing, as well as where to put the...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Oct 16, 2010 @ 08:38 PM | 6,630 Views
My trusty PZ Trojan 'Slingshot Johnny II' suffered a pretty good crash a couple months ago and I recently decided to salvage as much as I could and to build another one.

This one will have flaps like the previous, but I will also add mechanical retracts and possibly a speedbrake, since when I picked up the parts for the new build I also picked up my new planned DX7. I may also include a non-actuated tailhook which would make it a T-28C.

I picked up a crapload of E-Flite lighting components. It will have semi-scale navigation and anti-collision lights (steady red on left wing, steady green on right wing, steady white on tail, two flashing white on wingtips, 2 flashing red, one top, one bottom) on one controller, and then a second Y'd into the retracts to activate a landing light on the nose gear when the gear are extended. I am putting in a Castle 10A BEC to handle the extra load.

This plane will be set up for a much more scale appearance, so the first thing I did was research panel lines, and external markings. Here are a couple of my references:

Like Slingshot Johnny II (named in honor of my Grandfather's nickname when he was in the running for the Heisman playing at Creighton back in '41), this new Trojan will once again be setup in VT-2 Doer Birds markings.

Attached are a few photos showing progress today on the panel lines and a gratuitous shot of Slingshot Johnny II when it was completed a year ago.

After this build, I plan to get one of...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Oct 01, 2010 @ 12:50 PM | 5,594 Views
As I have mentioned before, I fly full scale as well as RC. This past weekend my daughter and I flew from San Diego to Albuquerque to spend some time with my wife who is at our house there while my daughter and I live in our RV in San Diego (I am here for work).

About 2 months ago I started flying again after a 5 year hiatus. I made a couple short trips (breakfast at Flo's Cafe and the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA which I highly recommend), getting ready for a solid long cross country trip.

We departed KSDM (Brown Field, San Diego) at 4:02 last Friday afternoon, and 5 hours later arrived at KAEG (Double Eagle II Airport) outside Albquerque. Below are a couple shots from the flight out.

...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 24, 2010 @ 01:28 PM | 5,924 Views
Conditions were good for the maiden on Wednesday afternoon so after a warm-up flight in the Extra I put the charged battery into the F-5 and set about going on a maiden.

AUW was 41 oz, I had set cg limits between 700 and 720mm from the nose, and this flight was towards the forward limit (700-710mm). Flight control check was good but in hindsight I realize I had never measured actual travels.

I set dual rates with some expo on the low rate, pulled out on the runway and put the coals to it, and it took off, leisurely. The ship was slightly nose heavy and seemed to be getting a slight roll with pitch input which I attribute to what must have been slightly assymetric deployment of the independent elevators. I felt the pushrods from the elevators to the servos were too long and soft, and will probably go up a guage or two on the next plane.

As I climbed away from the ground it seemed a bit draggy because I had a flap mix with the gear, so I tucked it all up and then she flew a little cleaner but I lost orientation, not a little, completely. I had some altitude so I didn't panic, and I put in up elevator and then a roll to the right, figured out where it was pointed, and put some power back in to climb up a little more. It took several dangerous turns and pitch ups to regain confidence in orientation. I thought I might lose it into the bay.

Because I had totally lost orientation (never happened to me before), I was a wreck - my hands were literally shaking and I was...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 22, 2010 @ 12:36 PM | 5,774 Views
After the issues with the gear collapse during taxi tests on Monday afternoon, I resolved to replace the stock main gear mechanisms. I stopped by the LHS and picked up a set of Thunder Tiger .10 Mains and spent a couple hours last night in minor surgery.

Removing the stocks wasn't as bad as I was afraid it might be and the Thunder Tiger mechanisms mount to the stock top plates but are WAY stronger and much more stable.

I removed the allen head set screw in the mechanism axle/pivot, pulled out the TT struts and then drilled out the base enough to accept the slightly wider shock struts. I then aligned the struts as best I could, reset the set screw, and put on a dab of CA to secure the struts. I am a little concerned because the shock strut features a flat surface that is inboard, while the TT base set screw is from the FWD/AFT side - that is part of why I hit the joint between the base and strut with some CA.

I adjusted the gear servos and zero point on the gear to a point where I get a little chatter/draw when retracted but they are locked down good and solid. The downlock is super solid, I am really happy with that, but the uplock is difficult at best.

Will maiden this afternoon if conditions permit and then continue adjusting the gear until both the up and down don't chatter but are solidy locked. This may be an issue with the retracted position because the wider shock strut seems to interfere with the operating rod, preventing a solid uplock - we will see.
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 21, 2010 @ 11:16 AM | 5,681 Views
Well I finished buttoning up the F-5N after work this afternoon and went out to the field - it was gray out and slightly dark but almost no wind, which would have made for great maiden conditions.

AUW with 4S 35C 2200 mAh installed is 41 oz, 9 oz over the claimed stock weight (which seems light to me - not sure where I added 9 oz, I can only account for 2.5 oz before battery), cg is between 700 and 720mm, call it 710 with the gear retracted. Unless I find something nasty on first flight I will be flying with no ballast.

I put a battery through the PZ Extra to warm up, then put a 3S in the F-5N to get some taxi practice and verify the gear were in good shape while the 4S finished charging. It is a good thing I did. Made minor adjustment to the down and locked position, then taxied my little heart out. That is until the set screw on the shock strut let go and the left main gear wheel turned 90 to the direction of travel.

Some CA acting as Loctite and back on the gear again 5 minutes later, still with the 3S. Did a couple high speed taxi runs and a range check, then on the way back to the pit to change in the fresh 4S battery and fly the maiden and the left main collapses when I hit some very loose dirt. I walk out, and check the plane, minor scrapes no damage, except the plunger on the gear which had snapped.

So, GP .10 mains are going in tomorrow - I was willing to give the stock gear a shot and the right main has been solid as a rock, but the left has been...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 19, 2010 @ 07:39 PM | 6,262 Views
Made major progress on my F-5N project in the last 30 hours or so.

Put power on for the first time, and then spent time identifying the rats nest of wires to my AR6200 Rx - checked all servos and they seem decent - still will replace the stock servos on the primary flight controls whenever I get my order from HK.

Replaced the main gear retract servos with HS65MG's - put light ply runners under the operating rods from the retract servos to the plunger, this keeps them from digging into the foam and stalling out which will strip the gears on a regular cheapy servo (ask how I know....)

Also used some light ply to reinforce the servo boxes for the mains - there was way too much movement of the servos after I removed the stock ones.

Adjusted, adjusted and adjusted some more to get the mains to appear to be achieving positive lock on the down position - the right main is the master, the left main is the slave, and I installed a reversing Y when I went with the upgraded servos - might need to tweak it a bit yet on the slave potentiometer.

Disassembled the nose gear, lubed it up and had to work it for a while to get free steering but it works great now.

Cut in flap servos and then spent some time making them work with the DX6i so that I have 3 flap positions - took some creativity. With the Gear switch and Flap switch up, the flaps are fully up, with the Gear or Flap switch down they deploy to a mid-setting (takeoff or approach), with the Gear switch down and then...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 16, 2010 @ 04:51 PM | 5,581 Views
Here are some pics of the F-5E, which I will call an F-5N going forward, taken at my office this morning in the daylight.

I really cannot say enough good things about how fantastic this thing looks given the $135 price point. The EPS is every bit as brittle as I feared compared to ParkZone's amazing Z-Foam, but handling the jet with care will be key to a long flying career.

I stopped by the LHS today looking for servo slows and a reversing Y, no joy - guess I can add them to my HK order but kind of a disappointment. I did manage to pick up supplies for my scale main landing gear outer doors, AIM-9L Inert and AN/ASQ-T50 AIS Pod.

The Sidewinder and instrumentation pod will be magnet-mounted to the missile rails with a small peg to keep them from moving fore/aft. If that goes as easily as I hope, I will carve up some additional magnet-mounted pylons for the other 5 stations from 6mm blue FFF, and may even make up a Centerline drop tank and a couple AIM-7 Sparrows or possibly AIM-120 AMRAAM's for posing when in the pits.

Starting to look into the modular e-flight light setup for my landing and nav light setup. Iam interested in the color-changing afterburner LED setup from Hyperdyne Labs but haven't found any pricing info for it - sure looks cool and I typically fly my last flight about dusk so it would be a great way to end the day with some burner passes down the runway.

Here she is out in the southern California sun:

...Continue Reading
Posted by GimpyPilot | Sep 15, 2010 @ 07:22 PM | 6,914 Views
This blog will cover the build-up and modification of the Starmax/Blitz RC Works F-5E 70mm EDF.

Recently I decided that I was ready to build and fly an EDF and I knew that I wanted a military aircraft, not something like the Habu, even though my first two planes were from Parkzone. I searched various marketers like Toysonics and Banana Hobby, and did some research here as well.

Further, I wanted an aircraft that was similar in scale to my PZ T-28C if possible, which I could fly with my DX6i, and which would fly well on a 4S setup since I already have a PolyCharger4 which can only go to 4S batteries. Every dollar I spend on RC planes is a dollar I don't get to spend flying the real things, so I am sensitive to having to start over with any technology.

I looked into the aircraft and found that although there were many complaints about the retracts and servos, reports were that the Starmax 70mm F-5E was a solid airframe, and best of all, it was nearly the same scale (1/10.9) as my PZ T-28C (1/11) - so I decided to buy one.

Being a bit of a guy who roots for the underdog, I decided to give Banana Hobby a shot at my money after sending out questions to Toysonics, Banana Hobby and the newly introduced Hobby Shop Warehouse. Only Banana Hobby answered my e-mails (hat-tip to Lauren in Customer Service).

My plan initially was to build this plane as a tribute to VFC-126, the Bandits, who flew the F-5E as the Pacific Fleet Adversary squadron from NAS Miramar. I currently live and work in San Diego and wanted to pay homage to the local boys (Miramar is now a Marine Corps Air Station).

I ordered the plane on Friday September 10, and it arrived this afternoon at my office in San Diego.

Initial inspection and inventory found a beautifully molded airframe, in great colors, with decals for VFC-13 The 'Saints' from NAS Fallon already installed. I decided that beyond some simple color modifications (white on the underside) and additional decals/markings, the jet will remain essentially as shipped.

Updated to add photos from last night's build session.