Ben-M's blog - RC Groups
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Posted by Ben-M | Sep 08, 2010 @ 08:21 PM | 2,576 Views
I received a 2.4GHz Twister Skylift a couple of weeks ago as a birthday present from my mother (God bless her).

rcg review here (and here, for the older 72MHz version)

While it's hardly the helicopter I'd been daydreaming about, I've managed to have a little play with it, a little modding, and formed a few opinions.

The Good
- It looks cool. At least to my mother, who loves to see it fly (she should, that's $200 of her money floating around the garage)
- It's relatively simple for the beginner to assemble and set up.
- The kit comes with a USB flight simulator adapter that will work with most trainer plugs (including the one on the Tx in the box)
- After bolting on the blades and charging the battery it's RTF.
- The kit radio is mode changeable (see below).
- Complete set of spare blades included.
- Having wheels allows a novice to 'drive' it around at first to familiarise themselves with the controls.

The Bad
- The Radio is non-standard, so it will take some mods (see below) to switch to DSM2 or a radio of your choice.
- The helicopter is prone to tipping in the roll axis on landing.
- Flying outdoors it is extremely sensitive to wind
- With the stock radio it is quite difficult to trim, and the slider trims can easily get knocked out of trim between flights, making your entire next flight a retrimming exercise.
- Yaw trim seems to vary with battery power (I'm yet to play with the gyro gain to see if this can be remedied)
- The flight times are...Continue Reading
Posted by Ben-M | Jul 15, 2010 @ 09:12 PM | 2,584 Views
So, I have another plane in the stable. And with it comes the question: Should I model this plane for my flight simulator?

The flight simulator I'm using is ClearView - it seemed priced at the right price point and seemed very capable when I bought it, offering photo fields and (importantly for me) the capability to model my own planes. I modelled my last plane because the 'closest' plane to it that someone had contributed was a very boxy underrepresentation generated from a photo 3-view (the problem with 3-views being, of course, that compound curves are often then poorly interpreted).

Unfortunately, I came across a number of issues, mostly to do with documentation of the simulator and unexplained bugs (plane explodes randomly, simulation engine 'freaks out' and plane squirrels everywhere and then the simulator crashes, simulator just gives up and displays a black screen, parts not defined as 'breakable' break off, parts that are 'breakable' don't keep their child objects attached, etc). So the question I ask myself is whether I should even bother to model another plane.

I probably will, but then, should I share it? Having to waste hours trying to guess what the programmer is doing with the configuration, or to ask how to do something a bit more complicated and get the answer in an email "You will have to start from simpler models that do not use [advanced features] ... [These] are complex, take a lot of time to set and are doable, but require a lot of patience and...Continue Reading
Posted by Ben-M | Jul 07, 2010 @ 10:56 PM | 3,571 Views
This morning I ordered the ST Model Cessna 350 as my second 4-channel plane. I wanted another plane as a backup - I would prefer to design and build my own after this point, but at least this keeps me flying if my trainer has any problems. Plus, for a foamie it looks gorgeous. Pics & Videos coming soon. I hope!

[Note: this plane is now also sold as the Flyzone Cessna 350 Corvalis, Hype Cessna 400 Corvalis, T2M Columbia 350 and probably a few other brandings as well. I really like the colour scheme T2M's chosen - you can see an example here]

Quick Reference:
Wingspan 1435mm
Length 970mm
Weight 980g
Wing Loading: 44g/dm2
Wing Area: 22.3dm2
Posted by Ben-M | Jul 05, 2010 @ 12:46 AM | 4,299 Views
My first four-channel plane is still in service - an Art-tech Cessna 182 (distributed as EGO in Australia). This is a 1m wingspan four-channel foamie, and seems moderately good value.

So far, I have 2:06 flight time and 20 flights on the clock. Bearing in mind that my opinions depend heavily on my own RC flying background, here's what I think the pros & cons of this plane are:

Relatively inexpensive. I bought this for AUD$275 RTF, which is a very decent price. I actually had a $500 budget, however I really wanted a DX6i, so I decided to buy a cheap RTF plane, ditch the receiver and replace it with the Spektrum DSM2 gear. The RTF transmitter and receiver I sold on ebay for $50, so the plane ended up being a ~$225 ARF. For something that wasn't a planned purchase (I didn't heavily research planes at all) it worked out not too badly. The cost of the plane + radio ended up less than any RTF which included Spektrum gear that I could find retail.
Stall. Doesn't tip stall, just mushes over. Makes for very unexciting landings, which is great.
Flight Time. Does 14 minute flights easily, put-putting around on half throttle with occasional full throttle aerobatics. I've timed the motor at 21 minutes running at half throttle, however I don't fly for this length of time.
Flight Characteristics. The aircraft will fly itself out of trouble given enough room. This makes for relaxing circuits and docile landing approaches.
Scale Look. It looks pretty, which has to go some...Continue Reading
Posted by Ben-M | Jul 05, 2010 @ 12:28 AM | 2,666 Views
Bought 2005. Currently for sale.

I decided to get back into the hobby gently after a 10 year break. The Slo-V seemed slow and robust enough that I couldn't easily break it and end up with the same problems I had with my first two channel glider.

It delivered - though maybe too gently. It required a very calm day to fly, and while I never had any crashes with it, I probably only flew her at the park on five occasions. After the first three park visits, the weather picked up, and the plane got packed up - for a long time. Flight times were short, and it never seemed really calm enough to fly. I flew her again a couple of months ago over a couple of weekends, and found much the same problems, as well as, well, it was just boring.

At a grand total of 45 minutes flight time, when I finally shelved the plane and upgraded to what I hope will be a more permanent setup, I estimate that the Slo-V cost around $2.50 a minute before I got bored.

The other issue for me with this plane was that it was "sort of" Mode 1, whereas I feel Mode 2 is more natural for how I want to fly. The "Sort of" is because the throttle is on a slider at the back of the controller, which is just a bit weird. So I don't fly it any more, because I can't bind it to my 2.4GHz system, and it's up for sale on ebay (at least, at the moment).

It did exactly what I wanted though, which was to get me to overcome the fear of crashing that I talked myself into after my first plane.
Posted by Ben-M | Jul 05, 2010 @ 12:19 AM | 2,554 Views
circa 1995

In the interests of full disclosure, this was my first RC plane. It flew for approximately 30 seconds, stalled on the downwind turn, and disintegrated. I rebuilt her and never had the guts to fly her again.

I sold her to a friend, including the radio gear, and then walked away from the hobby for fifteen years.

Great kit though, and looked very nice.
Posted by Ben-M | Jul 05, 2010 @ 12:17 AM | 2,542 Views
So I've decided to use the blog here to provide data and history on my individual RC planes. This is as much for my own records as your enjoyment.