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Posted by minivation | May 04, 2013 @ 03:07 AM | 3,593 Views
Well, not quite yet.

My senior year in high school is soon coming to and end and I'll be selling off pretty much most of my R/C stuff to various people around this community. One customer who is very interested is a pilot-mechanic (but not an R/C pilot), and another one majored in engineering, so I am confident that they won't take my precious planes and pull the "it goes 100 miles per hour" move. I would love to train them but (1) I personality type is not that of a trainer, and (2) thanks to the 3 AP courses I'm undertaking, tests are pushing my brain over its limited capacity.

On that note I haven't flown in quite a while (maybe around for 3 months now) and now that I'm starting to pack things up to move onto college life in America (I'll be studying aeronautical sciences in Longview, Texas) what will be happening to my R/C hangar? Luckily, I've heard that there is a good R/C community in the college I'm going to and so I'll probably pack up my most valuable plane (my kit-built "Spirit of Paul Westlund" PC-6) and the rest will be history. Because now I'll be reduced to a poor college kid, the expansion plans for my new hangar most probably will be humble compared to what I possess right now.
Posted by minivation | Oct 10, 2012 @ 09:58 AM | 4,427 Views
I've written ... uh ... two blogs so far regarding my awesome 55" BlitzRCWorks Cessna Skylane, which is somewhat similar to the Airfield/FMS version of the plane just to pick a brand amongst quite a few. So I've been following and commenting on this thread called the "Airfield Sky Trainer 55" Cessna" on the Beginner Training Area.

It looks like a lot of people are doing a whole bunch of cool modifications of the versatile airplane, all the way from new wheels to lights to onboard camera stuff. One of the modifications that really caught my eye was that those who have the 4-ch (not 5-ch with flaps) version of the plane have gone ahead to install flaps for themselves.

Did I mention that the plane is a bit difficult to bring in for a good greaser? I'm not an expert in aerodynamics, but it seems like the plane handles like a giant pancake that sort of flops around in the air when flying at the lower end of the flight envelope and at this point the flight controls are pretty muddy (I know the plane is a tad bit tail-heavy, and I'll fix that, but still...). So it's sort of hard for me to judge when exactly to flare so that the plane doesn't slam into the relatively bumpy earth below (yes, you guys in America with large flat club airfields have it nice, except for the regulations. )

So several days ago, I did yet another series of hard landings on the unforgiving terrain in our so-called "...Continue Reading
Posted by minivation | Jul 07, 2012 @ 09:34 AM | 4,073 Views
I will be leaving for Korea tomorrow at 2 PM. So that means I still have time to fly that morning. So I have to charge up some batteries to go fly the Telemaster.

I started charging about an hour earlier. I had two packs to charge - one 1300 mAh and the very-reliable Powerwing 1500 mAh that has never puffed up or failed me once. But then when I plugged in the battery into the Accucel-6 charger, this is what the LCD screen on the charger read:

11.81V ... 11.82 V .... 11.81V ... 11.84V ... 12.05V ... 12.32V ... 11.99V ... 11.71V ... 11.47V...

Then the cycle would repeat again. Something was seriously wrong. The charger reported "finishing charging" at 11.49V. Once I spotted this abnormality, I immediately stopped the charging process and unplugged the battery to see if it was alright. The cells weren't hot. I didn't recall any exposure to rain, moisture or severe heat when I took out the battery to fly this morning.

Then I found that the yellow wire on the balancing lead disconnected from the battery. Maybe this happened when I accidentally used the battery wires to pull out the pack from a tight compartment. So this meant soldering.

I took the battery down to my hangar, removed the plastic covering on the battery, picked up the solder gun and started to heat up the solder joint where the yellow wire disconnected from. After 20 minutes of heating up, the darn "RoHS silver-bearing" solder wouldn't even budge. "Silver-bearing solder." What an oxymoron! Thankfully, I found a small spot on the joint where the original factory solder didn't touch, so I took out my beloved 60/40 solder and proceeded to bring the yellow wire "back home." Worked like a charm. The 60/40 soldering process took 2 minutes at most.

Brought the battery pack back up, tested it with a voltmeter to check if everything was okay, and once that was confirmed, I plugged it back into the charger. Now it's back to normal. Whew! It's at 12.33V right now, charging at 1.5A.

Posted by minivation | Jul 03, 2012 @ 10:17 AM | 5,386 Views
I live in Sentani, Papua - home to ... what ... at least 6 Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porters. This makes it impossible for me to not like the very famous Porter - it is one amazing airplane that can carry almost a tonne of baggage and land it in just 300-400 feet of tough grass runway. Although the Porter may not win the "World's Most Beautiful Plane" or "World's Fastest Plane" award, at 56 knots or so for landing (stall at 52), it is a beautiful sight to see it on approach.
Having been around these airplanes for so long and having had the chance to fly one, I absolutely NEEDED a RC model for the Turbo Porter. Thus my search for one started late 2010. Since I fly all-electric with 3S LiPO, I needed my plane to be in the 40-60" wingspan range, preferably made of balsa for good, responsive flight characteristics. Of course, there were models from Seagull and I-Care, but they all turned out to be too large, of the wrong powerplant type, only 3-channeled, or simply not realistic (scale) enough.
Until I happened to pass by Thai Scale Models. After a tad bit of trouble trying to find the company's website, I soon found that its PC-6 was just perfect for me. 44 inches of wingspan, balsa, 450-size motor @ 3S, and not too hard to build. I soon contacted the company's owner, Chinathon Akarapat (hence, aka "Chin Models") and a friend and I decided to put in an order for two kits - one for me, one for him. The friend's father put in the order via email.
...Continue Reading
Posted by minivation | Jun 08, 2012 @ 09:44 AM | 4,530 Views
Now I got my third airplane up in the air as well.
I took delivery of the H-L Mini Telemaster March 6, 2011, but it ended up flying less than 10 times before it was stowed away in my hangar corner because the radio that controlled it (my old Optic 6) had battery issues. To add to that, the old Corona AR620's also had severe issues with reception, so I was quite lucky to actually get some flights out of those nightmarish receivers.

The other day, my friend Mark offered me to share his Optic 6 with me until I get the battery issue figured out. So out went the ch14 crystal and Mark's receiver I've been leasing for almost a year, and in the ch44 crystal on my new Hitec Electron 6. With Mark's radio then I programmed flaperons in - I had originally bought the two-wing set from Hobby-Lobby (one is a normal aileron wing, the other without ailerons), but after the aileron wing gave me serious warping issues, I took apart the aileron-less wing and converted it to a flaperon-compatible one.

FLPT was initially set to 45 so that I wouldn't run into serious tip-stalling trouble at lower approach speeds. Instead of using a 9x6 prop, I opted in for a 10x4.7 so I could get more thrust.

The return-to-service flight couldn't have been better. Although I had revamped the tail feathers and gave it a completely new wing, the only trims I needed was 10 down elevator. Flaperons were well set with their extension not affecting the airplane's pitch. The Telemaster had a surprisingly wide...Continue Reading
Posted by minivation | Jun 07, 2012 @ 11:27 PM | 4,708 Views
That plane's been sitting in the hangar corner for nearly a half an year. Up till now I had been flying the Lanyu TW 747 Cessna because of its compact size and simplicity of maintenance. However, my increasingly growing pity for the lonely Skylane grew until several days ago when I finally decided to get that thing up in the air. The only issues I had to fix were two clevises that I broke when I accidentally took the *relatively* large plane and smacked it into the door-frame.

New batteries popped into the transmitter, all electronics in the plane inspected, (and oh, CG checked!) I gave the plane a fly and it did great back up there. I previously noted that I would appreciate expos - now I wouldn't care much about the ailerons, but as for elevator, please. Ground roll was at around 10 feet (I also previously mentioned dropping wings during takeoff; the extended takeoff roll eliminated that problem), and the rotation was abrupt, so I had to feed some down elevator for the initial climbout. Landing was not easy as the wheel pants suggest that the Skylane is not optimized for bush flying. Unfortunately, all we RC fliers have here are bumpy, sloped patches of grass. The smoothest of landings would be an otherwise "hard" landing.

Yet another issue I mentioned in the previous post was the lack of motor power and vibration issues. I was scrolling through the original BananaHobby product site and they listed the prop as 11x4.7. I was using 10x4.7. That realized, I...Continue Reading
Posted by minivation | Mar 20, 2012 @ 06:54 AM | 4,633 Views
I see that my last blog entry was made, what, early December.

Yes, I had a nice little trip to Korea, and finally after 8 years I got to experience the freezing cold winter temperatures there. Hey, I discovered something called "snow"! Visits to friends and family went great, and I would say that my family all got to get a well-deserved rest for about a month or so.

Unfortunately, I did not bother to drop by the local hobby shop to pick up a motor or a couple of servos. Since this was a 4-week stay and we had to roam all around the peninsula, things went rolling fast. And by the way my precious capital was spent instead on the latest addition to my photography equipment, the Canon EF 70-200 f/4L "white baseball-bat lens".

Speaking of photography, I betcha that it's definitely a compelling hobby (and occasionally a money-maker) and you betcha that it's a darn expensive one too. It's surprising how much 21 glass lenses and 1 fluorite chunk costs as much as a Hangar-9 Piper Pawnee! My main point, however, is that it's somewhat threatening my RC plane flying hobby. You see, I'm a high school junior, and in no time I'll be in college. Unfortunately, I obviously can't take all my toys overseas again. So it looks like it's time to slowly sell off my stuff then. Poor Telemaster - ended up with an Optic 6 with a problematic battery - didn't even get to fly 20 times before I now have to send it off.

Now that all the dust from starting a new school semester is settling down, I may be able to squeeze in a few hours before the ACT, the SAT and AP tests start raining down on me... No guarantees, but let's see how it goes.
Posted by minivation | Dec 18, 2011 @ 05:29 AM | 4,822 Views
Many things have happened since my last blog post at ... what - September or October?

22nd of September marked one of the most tragic days ever. A week after that a major event happened at our school, leading to the expulsion of 3 students, plus 1 suspension. (Luckily, not drug/violence related) Being part of the Student Council (or Student Government, whatever you call it), we had to organize and coordinate several annual events, such as the usual Sadie Hawkins and Christmas Banquet. And now it's finals week, so right now I'm actually supposed to be studying for Pre-Calc and Physics.

With the extra fact that after September 22, there have been two other fatal plane crashes, one a SusiAir Caravan and the other an AMA PAC-750XL (the latter occurring just yesterday), my friends and I have had virtually no time to fly. Every weekend was occupied either by a party preparation, school-sponsored event, or last-minute "duty calls" from Yearbook to make use of my photography skills (ooh, getting prideful here, are we?) so the only think I could rely on to "keep current" was to enjoy 10-minute fragments of RealFlight. But of course, RealFlight never gets even close to "real flight."

Another major threat to my RC flying hobby is the introduction of CounterStrike onto my laptop. What - CounterStrike!? The thing is, I've never tried any sort of 1st person shooter game in my life. So one day some of my friends recommended me to "get a life...Continue Reading
Posted by minivation | Oct 17, 2011 @ 01:18 AM | 5,181 Views
Having dropped my Balsa Helio idea, I decided to bring my first plane, a Riccs TB-20, back up in the air.
I don't know exactly when, but somewhere in October last year, I was turning final when a gust of wind picked my plane over and smashed it against a cliff made of hard clay.
Still a beginner back in the day, I deemed the plane, in pieces by now, written off, beyond repair.
This month marks a year from that incident, and yesterday I was sitting in my workshop staring blankly at the wreckage I had stored all this time in the corner of the room. Light bulb moment, and I brought out my tools and some sheets of Depron and went to work. The wings were in horrible shape, so I cut out big portions of the wing root, where I previously applied gallons of glue in an attempt to put it together (the wings had broken before the crash too).
Big chunk of messiness out, and neat slices of Depron in - these are the results so far:
Posted by minivation | Sep 23, 2011 @ 04:10 AM | 5,688 Views
Tuesday, September 22, 2011, 1:03 PM, a PC-6 registered PK-UCE crashed into a mountain near Wamena, Papua, Indonesia. The rescue team found all three people, the pilot and two passengers, dead.
The pilot, Paul Westlund, was my friend's dad. Having more than 20000 hours under his belt, he was working as a missionary pilot in Papua. A certified instructor, he had flown many types of general aviation aircraft, ranging from the typical Cessna Skyhawk to the Piper Tomahawk, from the Helio Courier, Piper Aztec to the Pilatus PC-6B2/H4.
A razor-sharp accurate pilot of real planes, "Uncle Paul" was nowhere close to "expert" when it came to RC flying, as he didn't really care. He simply grabbed a transmitter, a plane (having so many rubber bands so that it would be dubbed "the flying rubber ball" and a few battery packs and ran up to the flying field whenever time permitted.
"Nothing can wreck my day," he said. Winds knocked his plane off course and wing broke off on impact? No problem. He went back home, simply splatted some duct tape on, and returned with a huge grin the next morning.
Uncle Paul never was mad. With such great patience, he was a paradigm of "the good personality". An avid surfer, he never scorned anybody for running the board aground and breaking the fins.

Sadly, there's no more "Uncle Paul" here. There's no more of that fun guy who would show up at the flying field, mow the grass, chop down obtrusive trees, and fly his cobbled-up UltraStick with the rest. There's one less guy at the beach, giving up his rides so that another newbie could get help on his first ride.

Thankfully, however, we know that he's at a better place. As for the missionary community, they know that he's flying and surfing all day long up there.

He will be missed.
Posted by minivation | Aug 21, 2011 @ 08:21 AM | 7,158 Views
10 months after its initial order from BananaHobby, I finally maidened the BlitzRCWorks 55" Cessna Skylane today.
Although there were some issues with assemblage such as the battery bay, main landing gear struts, and motor vibration, things were figured out one by one and the plane took to the skies 2 hours ago.
Contrary to how rectangular-wing planes handle, the Cessna obviously had a tendency to break lift and drop a wing if not rotated properly on takeoff. However, things were mild and I was able to recover with right rudder, despite my modest flying skills as of now.
Typical of Chinese RTF foamies, there were absolutely no CG location mentioned. I guessed using my common sense and deemed the plane well-balanced but during the flight, my judgement was proved wrong, as the plane was slightly tail heavy, and imposed some wishy-washiness during climbs and turns.
Until now, I have found no use of expos - until now. Ailerons were rather sensitive and the slightest roll input sent the plane careening to the direction specified.
The motor was underpowered, so I'll have to replace that with a E-Flite 450, 480 or an equivalent, along with the ESC, which I cannot really trust on the long run.

On the overall, the plane was beautiful to see in the air, and as the manual has stated, it flew in a very scale manner. Compared to its physical size, the airspeed was low, so the plane looked like a real MAF Cessna flying overhead (red paint). Unlike my original assumptions that the plane would be hard to land, the plane simply floated in and flared without any problems. The nose gear didn't loosen up although landings were all made in grass on rough grounds. All I had to watch out for was the airspeed to avoid a stall spin into the earth.
Posted by minivation | Jul 29, 2011 @ 09:24 PM | 5,451 Views
Strolling around the RCG forums, waiting to pounce on the Chinese store spammer... These spammers are so resilient, like cockroaches.
Posted by minivation | Jul 19, 2011 @ 08:35 AM | 5,018 Views
I made a grave mistake.

Large sheets of Depron bought, enough to make two planes, and with many other stuff, ranging from CA hinges to nylon clevises to new brushless motors, there's only about a week until my return to Papua.
Airport Limousine Bus tickets were bought yesterday, and I have my last 5 days to pack up, make a custom box to put all my stuff in, and say my bye-byes.

Great, I have all these done, but my sister and I have my DSLR bag, my laptop bag, a clothes bag, a backpack, my sister's guitar case, and some more to bring. Then add another large cardboard box to lug along...
Posted by minivation | Jul 14, 2011 @ 06:01 AM | 6,132 Views
Yesterday, I returned home, all fatigued, after walking almost a mile in the heavy monsoon acid rain, through the sauna-like humid, hot atmosphere.
Upon reaching my laptop, I promptly opened up the EMS Tracking site and found no entries after "Arrived delivery office". My package was essentially 20 minutes away - so close yet so far. Then my sister stepped in, her being all dry and clean because she had an umbrella to help.

She said that she got her new watch from the delivery man that day.
"What?" I asked in surprise, because she had ordered her stuff later than I did, and hers arrived first. "Did any of MY stuff come?"
"Um... look up, and look if there's any difference in the room."
I looked up, and sure enough, there was a large box with some "Fragile" and "EMS" stickers and signs all over it.
I took my exacto and carefully but quickly opened the box - and there it was. motors, covering film, ESCs, tires, pushrods, servos, camera, and more. I scrutinized every single product and made sure everything arrived without getting left out.
The only problem was the Turnigy camera, which became unresponsive in the middle of the second test run. The problem was fixed without much hassle.
Posted by minivation | Jun 27, 2011 @ 09:54 AM | 6,206 Views
I have previously posted in a "Rant" that my laptop's AMD is running at an average of 90* Celsius.
Today, I went downtown to buy myself (1) 20-minute epoxy, (2) enamel copper wire to rewind some brushlesses and (3) a can of compressed air.
After catching a late night city bus back home after eating dinner out with my sister, I went directly to my computer and pulled out my weapon - the air can. I resumed to spray essential parts of the computer, first being the CPU fan, which had a bit of dust clogged up. So I sprayed away, and to my surprise, a cloud, literally, a cloud of dust went flying out through the other vent. After several coughs and sneezes, I sprayed more, this time, longer, and there came out the desert storm again, even larger. Eventually I got all the dust out of the fan bay, and proceeded with other dusty parts, such as the keyboard, USB ports, and sound jacks.
So far, Piriform Speccy reads 65*C average, down from 90. I'm happy so far.
Posted by minivation | Jun 24, 2011 @ 09:44 AM | 6,196 Views
The long-awaited 55" Cessna Skylane, ordered last November from BananaHobby, has arrived after 7-8 months of sitting around without an owner!
Unfortunately, the plane is at my real house in Papua, and right now I'm in Korea to study over the vacation. But anyways, I am very excited to see the plane for myself, assemble it and get it in the air.
Also, to make things even better, my parents made me a new RC workspace. Now I can actually hang my planes and their wings in a designated area, not just plopping them on a bed in the room (the place used to be a guestroom). Gotta love your parents especially when they're so kind to do this!

After a lot of investments and 1 1/2 years of REAL RC flying (2007-2010 was a failure), I think I'm officially in the flying groove.
Posted by minivation | Jun 11, 2011 @ 05:25 AM | 6,371 Views

My long-awaited pushrods and landing gear wire (simply music wire of various diameters) were purchased today at the local stationery store. How simple is that? All I have to do is bring it back to Papua, and bend and cut it as necessary.
I purchased two meters of each of those wires. I'll buy more of the pushrods. I think it'll make at least 8 landing gear sets with the thicker wires, though. It's interesting how I couldn't find the appropriate wires even though I searched all around Papua. And then move to Korea and BAM! All your RC building material, in front of your eyes at a store near you! I am planning to return to stockpile on some more stuff, such as balsa sheets, sticks and aluminum tubes (for spring-loaded landing gears). Had I lived in Korea for a long time, I would have done myself a favor of buying some sheets of foam and building a nice simple foamy, and fly it at a nearby rice paddy! (I am staying at a suburban area)
Alright, excited talk over.
Posted by minivation | Jun 01, 2011 @ 04:01 AM | 6,560 Views
This is the second time I've personally heard of a balsa wing fall apart in flight.

First occurrence was when a friend was flying his UltraStick, doing hardcore aerobatics with it. At the end of a lomcevak, we could both see that the plane's right wing had significant dihedral. (The UltraStick's wing has no dihedral.) After a safe emergency landing, we found out that one of the rib-spar connections had failed and cracked in flight, causing it to fall apart. The only thing barely holding the two parts together was the ultracote covering.

Then, on May 29, that friend (F1) was training another friend (F2) on his Taylorcraft 450. (F2's) After doing some aerobatics training, F1 noticed that his aileron trims were continuously going out of trim, so that eventually, he ran out of aileron trim space and had to correct it with rudder. (I would have landed immediately at this point, but F2 was really eager to get some more stick time.) F1 decided to do a slow flyby to inspect if anything was wrong, and did not notice anything eye-poppingly wrong. So he let the controls over to F2 who did a fast flyby. Right at the end of the flyby, F2 pulled out to avoid a tree, and at that moment, the right win assembly gave in and separated from the craft. The airplane was at about 30 feet in altitude at this point, and damages were heavy.

Lesson learned from another's loss. Will periodically check my Telemaster's assembly from now on.
Posted by minivation | May 07, 2011 @ 05:27 AM | 5,965 Views
...And Oops,
I was trial fitting my elevator for the Helio this morning, and was holding the fuselage assembly by the thumb and index finger. The index finger is bandaged up because the exacto knife was too efficient and cut more than just balsa. And the plane slipped out and divebombed for the tile floor, exactly nose-down.
But thankfully, only minor damages are done, compared to the airplane's last drop. 4 sticks had to be glued back on.

Elmer's ProBond Wood Glue really did the job. I used to join the wood with all-purpose UHU, but after the switch, as I just said, only 4 sticks were loosened (compared to the whole fuselage last time). And the 4 sticks were assembled with UHU, BEFORE my dad graciously bought me the big fat Elmer's from Jakarta. All the assembly glued with Elmer's stayed put.
And I also gotta say, crossbars helped too. After the other drop (story in my first blog entry) I added several crossbars to strengthen the structure up, which they did.
Posted by minivation | May 04, 2011 @ 09:00 AM | 6,062 Views
I recently took delivery of the Chin Models PC-6 Kit, and because of all the new-presents excitement (including a new DSLR camera), I had temporarily "forgotten" the Helio project.
Yes, thanks to my extra carefulness, the Helio is still intact and it's ready for its left wing. Since I'm too busy doing homework during weekdays, I spent just 20 minutes tonight trimming excess or uneven wood on my center and right wing sections. Let's see how it goes Friday, when I'll start to make my left wing section.