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Posted by mandevil | Jan 19, 2014 @ 06:32 AM | 4,450 Views
I had two more flights with my SSS. The latter ended with one of the flap servos breaking (gear breakage). So I decided to replace all servos. After long search I settled on Power HD 1711MG's I ordered locally. Also I have received YEP 60A ESC which is going to replace the stock ESC. As for the servos, I have found that the supplied arms are too small (I guess they are "micro servo arms") and the arms from the stock servos don't fit very well. So now I'm searching for suitable arms. If I have to order them from abroad, this will add few more weeks of no flying. Sigh.

Also, Hobby King drives me mad. The web site timeouts often (with Cloud Flare error message...). When I get through, however, I find that half of the stuff I need for my build is backordered in EU store (things like 14 AWG wire, connectors etc.) So it's mid-January and I don't even have my order sent off.
Posted by mandevil | Dec 30, 2013 @ 02:39 PM | 3,376 Views
Today I have maidened my new Super Sky Surfer plane. The maiden was successful, the plane is still in one piece. I plan to do some work on it (replace at least ESC, if not servos as well), but nothing major. I can't wait to put my GoPro on it and take it for a camera flight!

Super Sky Surfer Maiden Flight (4 min 5 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Aug 20, 2013 @ 09:18 AM | 4,542 Views
I finally got to compile a video from my last year's vacation in my favorite place, the NP Bohemian Switzerland in the north of the Czech Republic. This was the vacation where I crashed my Bixler and almost lost my GoPro cam (see previous entry).

Aerial from NP Bohemian Switzerland (Bixler / GoPro HD) (4 min 33 sec)

As always, better quality file can be downloaded here.
Posted by mandevil | Nov 20, 2012 @ 07:51 AM | 4,084 Views
Video from my recent Bixler crash (caused by flying to far away downwind and subsequent breaking of LOS).

Bixler Crash (3 min 18 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Oct 06, 2012 @ 04:39 PM | 4,138 Views
Today I barely escaped total loss of my Bixler with GoPro HD Hero with it. I am on a vacation and have made number of camera flights without a hitch. Today I saw the morning is nice and bright and so at 8am I was in the field ready to fly. I launched, there was not much wind on the ground level, but in height there was quite strong wind. I ascended as high as I dared (about 300 m I guess). It was pretty difficult to keep the plane's attitude and it was clear that the video is not going to be very good. Anyway, I switched off the motor and hoped some usable footage during gliding descent. Because of the trouble holding the plane flying straight, it was steadily drifting downwind. Very soon it was so far away, that I started to have severe trouble controlling the plane. Keeping the plane flying straight into the wind requires fine control which was impossible without seeing the plane clearly. I struggled for about 2 minutes trying to get the plane closer to me, but all I managed to do was to lose more height. I knew I was in trouble. Soon the plane disappeared behind the horizon.

I went home and consulted on-line map to see the crash area. It was mostly forest -- the worst possible case. Nevertheless, we searched for about three hours in vain, hoping to hear the plane's beeping. The outlook wasn't good at all. In the end I went to check one meadow and found the wreck there. The plane was mangled less than I expected and I believe the damage is repairable. More importantly,...Continue Reading
Posted by mandevil | Aug 26, 2012 @ 05:14 AM | 4,570 Views
Here's new video from last Sunday (as usual, I recommend downloading this file instead of watching it mangled on YouTube). The air was completely calm so I managed some quite stable shots, including this 1 minute long straight take it's probably as stable is it ever gets with 1400 mm wingspan EPP plane.

Ústí nad Labem From RC Plane (Bixler / GoPro HD) (4 min 33 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Jul 22, 2012 @ 05:49 AM | 4,405 Views
Here's new video I made with my Bixler / GoPro HD. I dared to fly in urban environment and I pushed the altitude as high as possible. Higher flights are not really possible without FPV, it seems. The weather was nice clear, but rather windy, so the video is not very stable. Below is YouTube video, but make yourself a favor and download and watch original full quality file, instead.

Ústí nad Labem, Severní Terasa From Above (Bixler / GoPro aerial video) (3 min 41 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Jul 08, 2012 @ 02:00 PM | 4,396 Views
Today, after more than month my Bixler has flown again.

The repair consisted of gluing back the broken horizontal stabilizer, gluing broken elevator into one piece, gluing together the nose and gluing it back to fuselage. I decided to hinge torn ailerons and elevator with proper hinges. I used 1128 mm plastic hinges, three per aileron, four on elevator. I made slots with Excel knife and glued the hinges in with CA glue (which is BAD idea, it allows essentially no time to work). Hinged surfaces work beautifully -- much easier movements than with original attachment and also the servo chatter is no more. All electronics seems to be working OK (ESC needed soldering of snapped lead). Here is a gallery with some captioned photo documentation.

The repaired plane itself.

Posted by mandevil | Jun 04, 2012 @ 02:48 PM | 4,794 Views
Well, recently I've been gettin too confident with my ability to handle the plane and today the inevitable has happened.

I was trying to turn the plane on its back at too low altitude and too much speed and did not quite succeed. I hit ground at speed and the plane is fairly heavily damaged. The nose is in shreds, battery is deformed, aileron got torn away and its servo dislodged, one of the ESC leads snapped off, half of horizontal stabilizer broke away. The good news that the wings are otherwise intact and the fuselage past the nose seems to be good.

Posted by mandevil | May 25, 2012 @ 03:12 AM | 4,638 Views
Posted by mandevil | May 07, 2012 @ 04:02 PM | 4,523 Views
This weekend was the second extended 5-day weekend, but I went flying only once and used up only one battery.

Mostly I practiced basic aerobatics: rolls and inverted flying, with some attempts at "rolling ascents" (near vertical ascents with the plane performing rolls). Also, I tried to get hang of using brakes (ailerons extended up). They surely work, but they definitely make controlling the plane fairly finicky. It's very easy to exceed the stall speed with brakes on and then one may not have enough time to get the plane up to speed again, and it means the plane goes down hard. I definitely need more practice with brakes to actually be comfortable to use them to land in tight quarters.
Posted by mandevil | May 06, 2012 @ 02:49 PM | 4,165 Views
This is the first of the three videos in my editing pipeline -- not the best one, maybe it should be shorter, but I can't stand editing it any longer.

Střížovický vrch (Bixler / GoPro HD Aerial Video) (5 min 51 sec)

Posted by mandevil | Apr 27, 2012 @ 04:46 PM | 4,066 Views
I took a leave from work on Friday and spent much of the time flying. I have drained my set of three batteries twice. Great time.

As I mentioned, with the new transmitter I have full range on ailerons available. With this I can actually do rolls with Bixler and that was what I practiced a lot. Suprisingly, with some care and little help of headwind, one can make vertical rolling ascents. Impressive.

I also have mixed rudder into ailerons and set up differential ailerons. Honestly, I don't see much difference.

I also shot aerial video on two location and have one in backlog from the last weekend. Good stuff is coming, especially the last video looks much more stable than all previous ones.
Posted by mandevil | Apr 22, 2012 @ 06:14 AM | 7,291 Views
Yesterday I took my Bixler to test my new FlySky TH9X transmitter. Conditions were rather windy, making the plane's handling quite difficult at my first location. Then I moved to different place, which was as windy as the first. On the last flight I managed to soar for 11' 40" after one minute climb. I just kept flying into the wind with no attempts to circle. I guess there must have been some thermal in there, despite it being almost 7pm. Funny thing.

At any rate, the TX works fine. For the benefit of very first timers I detail the basic setup I did prior the maiden flight below.

1. The first step was to make ailerons work. I use two-channel aileron setup, with ailerons on the usual channels 1 and 6. The first 4 channels are default, the channel 6 needs to specify source AIL. Also I needed to reverse ailerons and rudder, which is done by setting their values to negative.

2. The next step was finding a way to be able to cut off throttle and make this default after the TX is switched on. Well, turns out that ER9X has specific function for this: "Safety switches". So I specify a setting for channel 3 (throttle), that makes the TX override the channel value with -100 when throttle switch is in OFF position (that's the !THR). Optionally, you can enforce the position of this switch on power up (in screen 2)

...Continue Reading
Posted by mandevil | Apr 20, 2012 @ 11:03 AM | 4,144 Views
Yesterday I picked up my FlySky FS-TH9X. It now has the latest stable ER9X firmware, programming connector outlet in the body and also processor-controlled back-lit display (which is really good investment, the readability in indoors is way way better).

Hopefully I set it up today for tomorrow's flight test!
Posted by mandevil | Apr 11, 2012 @ 06:22 AM | 3,789 Views
So this is second week of no flying. The last time I forgot to take wing spar with me, this time it was too windy. Too bad.

During the last week I received new radio, the SkyFly FS-TH9X (from Giant Cod, really quick delivery). I am little underwhelmed, the quality isn't that great (the display glass fell off, the battery compartment cannot be closed with AA batteries, the original software has lot of limitations). I switch the TX to mode 1 and used the AA battery cage connector to attach LiPol 2500 mAh TX battery. The last mod to do is, of course, to flash ER9X software. But I cannot really do this myself as I a) don't have the ISP programmer and b) I really don't know how to solder the cable necessary for the flashing. Therefore I'll use the service of more experienced guy to do this.
Posted by mandevil | Mar 25, 2012 @ 04:41 PM | 3,452 Views
Last weekend I cracked Bixler's tail. So during week I glued the crack and applied hot water. There still remains some bend, but it's fairly minor I don't think it has any bearing on actual flight. Also, I glued 3 mm carbon rod into the groove in the bottom of the fuselage with epoxy resin. Never worked with epoxy before, but it seems to hold fine.

OK, repaired plane goes to the nearby slope on Saturday. There's quite fresh wind and I go on slope soaring for the next three hours. I mostly try to just soar, with only occasional bail-out with motor. I try to get the hang of slope soaring, I try quick turns along the slope edge (no, that doesn't seem to go very well with Bix, I don't seem to be able to do them fast enough and I lose lot of altitude, I try to do gentle circles (seems to limit altitude loss, but wind is often too turbulent and changable to do this well), I try to keep plane afloat at all cost, as if I don't have motor (which inevitably leads to crashes when I try to turns when too low or too late). At any rate it's fun and learning experience. I only use about 600 mAh of battery, I'd say about 80% of the flight time is completely unpowered. I probably could use little stronger wind with more intense lift. Bixler is no fast glider so you really cannot gain too much kinetic energy from the wind, which limits its slope abilities.

My girlfriend was kind enough to shoot some nice in-flight pictures. See more pictures in gallery.

When I was almost ready to...Continue Reading
Posted by mandevil | Mar 18, 2012 @ 04:34 PM | 3,431 Views
On Saturday I did some video flying under castle ruin Blansko and took about 25 minutes of footage, but unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be any good. I have no idea why, but the flight is very jerky. It's as if the plane is constantly being upset by something. With my previous plane (which had the exact same airframe) the flying seemed smoother (though still far from ideal).

On Sunday I took Bixler to a slope. I didn't expect slope soaring, but actually the wind was fairly favourable and I managed to keep the plane in air for a while. After some time I noticed that both my ailerons are little up -- both the same amount. This looked strange and I suspected something wrong with servos. I readjusted the clevis/pushrod linkage, but after more flying the ailerons were up again, this time little too much for comfort. I thought the session's over and started packing, but then an idea flashed in my head. I turned the right knob on my TX and indeed, both ailerons raised and lowered as the knob was turned. I completely forgot that I still have active setting, that allows to adjust the ailerons symetrically when the right switch is on (that is either as spoilerons or flaperons). Oh well, I readjusted the aileron linkages again and continued flying. Unfortunately the wind was quite changeable and I suffered few light crashes. It all ended up when I discovered that my tail is crooked from a crack in the rear of the fuselage.

Note the raised ailerons. This was the moment when I decided that something is seriously wrong and decided to stop flying.

This is how I ended the day; the crack in fuselage is barely visible right below the horizontal stabilizer on the right side. Inevitable when you fly too carelessly.
Posted by mandevil | Mar 13, 2012 @ 05:59 AM | 3,581 Views
On Saturday I did some powered flying, mostly training catching the plane on landing (with not that much success). I discovered quite strong tendency of the plane to turn to left with high throttle. Nothing unmanageable, but fairly noticeable. The wings have tendency to unlock on harder landings and also catching the plane by wing is not good thing to do, but the wings seem to hold well during flight.

On Sunday the wind seemed to be quite strong, so we went to a nearby slope. Even if the wind direction wasn't optimal, there was lot of lift there and it was fun soaring for about 20 minutes. Then the wind picked up enough that I started to have problems staying on the upwind side and also worried about the integrity of the plane as I saw it being buffeted by strong gusts. Fortunately I managed a perfect landing by snatching the plane from air in mid-flight. Quite a stress test, but a successful one.