DismayingObservation's blog View Details
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 11, 2015 @ 07:03 PM | 10,232 Views
I've been doing official reviews for this site for a long time, but one upcoming review in particular has been a big undertaking, so much so that I split the reviews of both an airframe and engine in two parts.

The airframe is the large scale Nitroplanes Pitts Model 12 biplane with a 20cc gas engine, J'tec Pitts muffler and 17x6 prop from Valley View RC up front, held in place by most of an Aeroworks mounting kit. Guidance is via an Airtronics SD-10GS radio and the Pitts Python graphics are from none other than Callie Soden at Callie Graphics.

The second parts of each review should be ready within a couple of weeks; I wasn't able to get video of the maiden flight earlier today. My club's president did the honors of the maiden flight and yours truly snapped some pictures.

All I can say is, this combo simply rocks. Full details soon to come here at RCGroups and Flyinggiants.com.

Enjoy the photos!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 22, 2015 @ 09:22 PM | 11,016 Views
Half the fun of this site is meeting new users. Case in point: Joe Kwok, aka "Hansondiandian" who is the "Joe" half of Joe-Hanson Aircraft Co. in Texas. Joe is a twelfth-grader who has been designing and building model aircraft for the last several years.

I'd contacted Joe via a private message soon after he'd blogged about his new hand-cut foam sheet kits. As a result, I received a kit to assemble and test for an upcoming RCGroups.com review. It wasn't until later that I'd learned just how young this model's designer really is.

I couldn't send this sample photo via a private message, so I'm sharing it here on the blogs. I had intended to fly it today, but two things got in the way. One, it was kind of windy. Two, I left my radio at home.

Moot point.

This was shot on the back of a flatbed utility trailer parked at a nondenominational church which allows electric flight over its parade grounds. It's a site I often use as part of testing models for the review process.

So, please welcome the loftily named Joe-Hanson Aircraft Company JH-21A Vesper II utility airplane. Designed to haul a small camera or FPV system aloft, I'll be flying this (hopefully tomorrow) as a fun flyer. All of the electrics are courtesy of Global Hobby Distributors.

Keep an eye on the electric flight page for all the details!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 07, 2015 @ 12:52 AM | 11,406 Views
After a few emails to and from my contact at Gearbest.com, I have a couple of RTF quads which are about to be officially reviewed for RCG.

One is just too darn cute.

It's the Floureon FX-10, the world's smallest quadcopter. It's so tiny that it's actually stored in the transmitter!

No pix yet, but I'll have a bunch in the review.

Looking at the other end of the size scale, my Nitroplanes Pitts Model 12 biplane with its Valley View RC 20cc gas engine is nearly ready for its first flights. I've already written reviews of my initial impressions of both the airframe and engine with the latter currently showcased both here and at Flyinggiants.com.

How tiny is the FX-10, you might ask?

Its diameter is just a bit larger than that of the prop retaining washer on the 20cc engine.

Large and small, indeed. Stay tuned to the electric flight, large scale and gas power pages here at RCG!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 02, 2015 @ 12:47 AM | 11,720 Views
Or more accurately, drive and dump?

Frustration abounding with the ECX Beatbox 1/35 truck I purchased last Christmas for my grandson.

Back when I bought the truck, the hobby shop told me that no parts were available.

This being Horizon Hobby, I thought that rather unusual and hoped some parts would be in the pipeline before long. Right?


The onboard li-po will no longer take a charge; the truck has been sitting idle for a few months. Online searches turned up nothing and neither did a call to Horizon.

For the very first time, Horizon Hobby's peerless customer service turned up absolutely zilch on a current product.

So, the truck is about to go under the screwdriver, as it were. I'll find a li-po somewhere.

If anyone has a suggestion, I'm certainly up for one.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 31, 2015 @ 01:28 PM | 11,650 Views
...while you're making other plans.

That, by the way, is a quote from Allen Saunders and not John Lennon. Lennon used the quote in the lyrics of "Beautiful Boy," one of his last compositions.

That said, I haven't made any progress on the little Thunder Tiger Bearcat since last we met here on the blogs. That missing motor bearing might be an unusual 3.17mm version and there were none to be found at the hobby shop. I'm just going to install an E-flite and be done with it soon.

Lots of professional stuff has kept me busy, but in a remarkably nice way. Details to follow.

In the meantime: Lots of great hobby stuff is on its way to the electric flight review pages! I'm covering the HobbyKing Super-G autogyro, the HobbyKing micro B-17 and the Joe-Hanson Vesper II utility airplane. The latter is a foam board model designed and produced by an RCGroups.com user, namely "Hansondiandian" out of Texas. It's a very utilitarian model which can be used as an FPV platform, camera platform or even an aileron trainer. I'm simply waiting for parts and supplies to complete all three models.

Watch this page and the electric flight page for updates!
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 19, 2015 @ 10:40 AM | 11,863 Views
I admit it. I enjoy a good challenge, especially where getting my money's worth is concerned.

To wit, the continuing saga of the little Bearcat park flyer which has been the subject of my last few blog postings.

I sent it up for a test flight and as luck would have it, the elevator was way out of trim. Far too much up, which wasn't an issue on the previous flight.

This, of course, made it difficult to fly...

I brought it around for a landing, bounced the landing and broke what was left of the original wooden motor mount. A close inspection revealed that the plastic factory motor adapter was damaged from the previous mishap.

Another thing which was readily apparent was far too aggressive a prop for the old motor I installed as a temporary measure. More on that in a moment. What to do? The answer came in the guise of the parts removed from the Flyzone Cessna which had given up some of its components.

I already had most of what I needed from an E-flite firewall stick mount adapter system; the mount itself was cut down to fit the Cessna and was too short for the Bearcat.

Five bucks later, I had the adapter and the strongest possible motor mount. It looks like a factory setup, in fact.

Another test flight, another mishap. The Bearcat was ballistic! Maybe too much so. One of the screws holding the prop adapter shaft worked loose, causing the shaft to cock over to one side. And boy, was that motor hot. As I'd pointed out, too much prop on a high-revving motor with an unknown Kv rating. That's what I get for not checking the setup with a wattmeter beforehand.

Conclusion: The airframe is dialed in. I just have to get the other motor back from the hobby shop and I'll be in business.

I'll post some photos once it's all together.
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 06, 2015 @ 12:04 PM | 12,169 Views
Warbird fans, listen up:

The new FMS Kawasaki Ki-61 High Speed PNP from Diamond Hobby is a blast!

An official RCGroups.com review is waiting in the wings for public viewing. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, more weirdness regarding that doggoned little Thunder Tiger Bearcat.

I swung by Pegasus Hobbies a couple of weekends ago since I happened to be in the area. Tony at the airplane desk is a terrific help. He sold me a brand new cowl and told me that he had a lot of those planes on hand for parts. Cool!

On went the cowl, up went the Bearcat.

It flew great, but the elevator was acting twitchy. I brought it in, added some more expo, took off and all seemed well for the first few seconds.

That's when the motor's endbell decided to part company with the rest of the motor.

It isn't often one has to do a dead stick landing with an electric, but I did. Good one, too. No damage other than some minor breakage of the wooden motor mount due to the forces involved.

Everything is back together, but the motor is missing a bearing. I've left it with a buddy at the hobby shop who'll check the parts bin for a replacement.

I also have a no-name brushless outrunner I used to use on my ancient (and recently dissected and discarded) E-flite Blade CP. I've ordered a prop adapter; we'll see how this one works.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 22, 2015 @ 03:37 PM | 12,704 Views
Wouldn't you know it? The battery compartment door for my OrangeRx transmitter seems to be lost forever. I went to the field today (with a couple of planes in tow, natch) so that I could look for it.

No luck.

However, I did happen to see a new FMS P-40 high speed like the one I'd reviewed for this very site! Deja vu! The new owner is still somewhat nervous about flying it, but one of the club's flight instructors was on hand and he declared it to be a blast. This from a guy who was zipping a 150 mph Habu all over the place. I happened to mention that I'd soon be receiving a new FMS Kawasaki Ki-61 High Speed.

When I got home, sure as heck, that new Ki-61 was waiting at the door. Not deja vu, but pretty good prescience, no? This is one highly anticipated model and I'll be giving it the full RCGroups.com review treatment, so please stay tuned!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 21, 2015 @ 11:28 AM | 12,532 Views
Yup, one of those nagging little voices tried to tell me something important and I ignored it.

This past Sunday, I had the Thunder Tiger Bearcat with me along with some other models.

I never really trusted the bizarre factory aileron hinges which consisted of decidedly unsticky clear tape across the tops of the wing and ailerons.

Meh. Should be fine. Checked the controls, lined up for takeoff, gave it the gas...


It came around hard left and crashed into the flight line. Upon removal of the tape, it was barely sticky enough to lift the paint and yes, those horrible quality factory strips were all that were serving as hinges. The motor mount broke, the cowl was crushed, the propeller broken, there were surprisingly few and clean breaks in the fuselage with no crushing and the right horizontal stab was snapped off.

A quick assessment of the damage showed me that it was repairable, so out came the epoxy, CA and paint and an old metal pushrod cut into reinforcement spars when I got home. I was even able to pop the cowl back in place and tape it from inside. I'll replace it soon if Pegasus Hobbies has it in stock. For now, it's doable.

I picked up some E-flite park flyer CA hinges yesterday and I properly hinged the ailerons this morning. I also found that the thin plastic plates atop the ailerons which were supposed to hold the torque rods in place were held down by little more than some weird, brittle glue.

The Testors Insignia Blue Model Master acrylic paint I used is at least a close match to the factory finish, if slightly darker. The prop should arrive at the hobby shop later today. In the meantime, the end result is nicely repaired, cosmetically acceptable and perhaps most importantly, the ailerons are properly hinged with the torque rod plates epoxied in place.

If I'd listened to that nagging voice telling me to re-hinge the ailerons, I would have saved myself from a lot of work.

Now all that's left is to fly it. Properly.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 06, 2015 @ 12:17 AM | 12,771 Views
Today was just one of those days which felt good. I got some stick time this morning with some recent review subjects, namely the HobbyKing DC-3, FMS/Diamond Hobby P-40 and the Nitroplanes Dynam Bf-109.

I think I have the tail wheel situation nearly dialed out on the DC-3. Still a bit wobbly, but taking off with flaps lowered allowed it to track much better. However, the flap switch is in a terrible position above the throttle stick. Trying to raise the flaps nearly caused a crash since I was having to really grope for the switch without taking my hands off of the stick at the same time.

I'll be mixing the flaps and the retracts on the radio before I take it up again.

That P-40 is one screaming fast bit of foam. The batteries are now somewhat seasoned and the punch is just incredible. Chalk up a winner to DIamond Hobby and Predator batteries!

Maybe I'm just spoiled after blasting the P-40 at nearly 100 MPH, but the Bf-109 feels, well, slow. That's with a Master Aircsrew prop on an otherwise stock bird. It flies beautifully and with no bad habits whatsoever. So, the perceived lack of speed isn't a problem. I just have to remember not to fly it after low passes o'er yonder runway at triple-digit speeds with the P-40.

Just got through watching "The Ten Commandments," something of an Easter tradition for my wife and I. Cecil B. DeMille was a genius.

Happy Easter, all. Christmas may get the hype, but this is the holiday which matters most. Back to work tomorrow!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 11, 2015 @ 07:23 PM | 13,883 Views

My buddy wasn't kidding when he told me that his own Thunder Tiger Bearcat park flyer was a sweetie with brushless power.

I took it with me this past Sunday along with some models I'm reviewing for RCGroups. I needed to get video and I thought this would be the perfect time to fly the Bearcat as well, this time with a computerized radio.

To be sure, it needed trimming, but once trimmed, what a fun and fast little plane. It still wanted to nose over on landing, but that was simply due to the landing gear being bent too far backwards. Once that was fixed, boom. Perfect three-pointers.

Was it worth the money? I think so. I could have saved ten bucks by buying the receiver-ready version, but then, what would I have done without the 27MHz radio system, brushed motor, gearbox and NiMH batteries languishing in a drawer?

If anyone wants the unloved radio and power stuff, please feel free to drop me a PM. It works, it's new but nearly obsolete and I will likely never use it again.

As for the plane itself, well, she's a keeper.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 19, 2015 @ 10:00 PM | 15,109 Views
Well, sorta kinda.

The Thunder Tiger Bearcat park flyer I've been blogging about had, as I suspected, far too much control surface throw and no expo which meant some really gut-wrenching moments after takeoff.

Hoo boy, did it boogie when I settled down on the sticks. Fast, smooth and fun.

In all honesty, I can't help but wonder how many folks might have picked one up as a first plane and who soon discovered that flying it with the supplied radio and power system was unlikely to happen.

Result: Scores of disgusted hobbyists who lost interest in model aviation then and there.

The modified version is a whole 'nother deal.

That little Suppo outrunner pulled it with real authority as a Bearcat should and it glided forever on final approach. The touchy elevator made it difficult to flare and it came down kind of hard, but there was no damage other than a scratched cowl when it nosed over.

I do believe that I'll be flying the whee out of that little sleeper for a long time to come, that is, once I set it up on a computerized radio. The transplant was a raging success!

Now all I have to do is figure out what the heck I'm going to do with the original radio, batteries and motor...anyone?
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 05, 2015 @ 01:53 AM | 15,296 Views
When last we met here on the blogs, I wrote about my attempts to get a new Thunder Tiger Bearcat park flyer airborne.

To wit, a 370 brushed motor, ESC and gearbox, a delicate four-blade propeller and an eight-cell, 600mAh NiMH battery do not make for a rocket. In fact, it made for a model which patently refused to lift off. Good thing I tried an ROG takeoff as opposed to a hand launch. Would have been bad.

That's about to change.

Cap'n Eddy is just about ready to rock. After widening the inside of the wooden gearbox mounting plate with a Dremel, in went the nearly new Suppo 1450Kv brushless outrunner and 18A ESC combo I'd bought at the AMA expo about four years ago. Pegasus Hobbies in Montclair, California sold the Bearcat to me at this year's AMA expo as well as the Thunder Tiger brushless motor mount via mail order.

The Suppo had been languishing in a rebuilt Flyzone Cessna 182 park flyer. That model was at one time another great example of why brushed motors can't compare to brushless.

Once severely underpowered, the Cessna became a lively, fun-to-fly model with one major design flaw: Banking too far - and it didn't take much - would cause the wing to stall and there was no way to get control once that happened. It was flown on another nearly new item, a Tactic TTX404 sport radio and receiver with no means of adjusting the servo end points. I had grown more than tired of fixing or replacing parts.

It's been stripped and the foam components await their ultimate fate out at the recycling bin. Requiescat in pace.

I'm awaiting the arrival of an APC 7x5E propeller at the hobby shop on Friday. I already have some 1000 and 1050mAh 3S li-pos which are a perfect fit and which allow the model to balance properly.

The overall combo is similar in size and power to the Ares Decathlon I'm reviewing for RCG. I'll simply say that the Decathlon is not only fun, it's fast. So too was the Cessna.

Cap'n Eddy is just going to have to wait until the weekend. Stay tuned.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 22, 2015 @ 10:24 PM | 14,839 Views
When in doubt, go to the source.

I bought that little Thunder Tiger Bearcat I've been blogging about from the Pegasus Hobbies booth at the AMA expo. They just put the receiver-ready version on their website, in fact.

Gave 'em a call with the part number...success! My credit card is only eight bucks lighter.

It'll get the Suppo outrunner and ESC I used in my Frankensteinian Flyzone Cessna, now retired after its final crash. For that matter, I got that motor and ESC at the AMA about four years ago and it has very little runtime since that Cessna spent more time tip stalling and crashing than it did flying. It just isn't worth repairing, but it was fun while it lasted.

Oh, and I'll fly it with a computerized spread spectrum radio. 27MHz is so 1990s.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 21, 2015 @ 11:48 AM | 13,962 Views
Well, I did it. I assembled the Thunder Tiger Bearcat park flyer I wrote about in my last entry, charged up the batteries and headed to the field.

My gut feeling was that it wasn't going to have nearly enough power to lift off.

I was right.

It rolled along the runway just inside the safety line and veered off course into the dirt shoulder which caused it to bounce just enough to lift off for a moment before coming down. The tail wheel is fixed in place and there's no rudder, so there wasn't much I could do.

No damage, glad to say. One of the landing gear blocks delaminated (the five-minute epoxy hadn't properly set) and the motor mount popped loose. It had been glued in place at the factory and apparently not too well.

Oh, and one of the prop blades snapped like a twig at the two-piece hub. Meh. It'll get an APC or Master Airscrew prop before long.

The good news is that I have the necessary electrics on hand and a proper 2.4GHz radio. Even better is my having learned that Thunder Tiger has a new distributor in the US. It's located in Utah, but I don't recall the name. I learned that during a phone call to the hobby shop.

They're going to contact that new distributor in the hope of getting the TT brushless motor mount. My contact at the hobby shop has the Rare Bear version and he says it's a superb flyer with a brushless up front.

That'll leave me with the existing electrics including two new NiMh batteries, but I'll find a use - or a home - for them.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 14, 2015 @ 04:19 PM | 13,659 Views
Having the AMA Expo each year here in SoCal makes it worth living here.

Of course, the deals help and do I ever have an unusual one for you...

I picked up a factory sealed Thunder Tiger F6F Bearcat park flyer for fifty bucks, tax included. With a radio. And a battery. And a charger.

Here's the rub: It has a 370 brushed motor with a gear drive, a three-channel 27MHz AM radio, a NiMH battery ( I purchased a second pack from the store itself later that afternoon) and a DC charger.

With a mechanical timer.

It's pretty much ready to fly out of the box save for the horizontal stabilizer, the propeller and whether or not one wants to put it together with extended landing gear for ROG or simulated retracted gear for hand launches and belly landings.

However, the EPS model looks well made as one might expect from TT. There's even famed Ace R/C mascot Cap'n Eddy installed in the cockpit. Not so well made are what passes for aileron hinges. They're little more than shiny strips of 3/4" clear tape across the top of the wing.

Weird, but that's what the manual calls for.

Not that it matters: Hobbico discontinued the Thunder Tiger and Ace R/C brands on December 31, unbeknownst to me until moments ago.

I was considering slapping a brushless motor in place once I had the proper mount in hand. However, I think I'll just enjoy it the way it is.

If it flies well - and I have no reason to believe otherwise - it'll make a fun Saturday flyer over at the nearby grass field.

I'll just have to explain that long, shiny antenna atop the transmitter.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 18, 2014 @ 08:42 PM | 16,531 Views
After solving a few technical issues mostly involved with setup of this model, not to mention moving into a new place, the upcoming reviews of the affordably priced Nitroplanes Pitts Python are moving along. Chief engineer Roland of Nitroplanes is one knowledgeable dude.

Once more, Callie Soden of Callie-graphics.com came through with the decals; the Pitts comes undecorated other than the covering and trim.

The fuselage looked so good after I applied the decals that I had to share it with our audience earlier than normal. These are the photos I sent to Callie this morning just because I wanted to share how nice this model is going to look when it's finished.

Nitroplanes stocks the Pitts right here.

As for other details, well, I don't want to spill too much before the reviews are finished. This'll be done in two separate reviews, one for the basic build and the other for the engine installation and flight characteristics.

Stay tuned to RCGroups!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 03, 2014 @ 08:54 AM | 17,176 Views
...but a welcome pain.

After two months of packing, tossing out stuff and giving away the rest, not to mention the seemingly incessant rounds of paperwork, my wife and I are finally in a new home. This one's ours!

So, once we finally unpack, one of the first things I'm going to do is to build racks for some of the models. One of the bedrooms is now the "hobby room" and I have a place to work on projects and to put up some small foamies. Larger models can be racked up in the garage and let me tell you, I have some plans for that garage.

Now if I can only find the power cord for my charger...
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 06, 2014 @ 06:45 PM | 17,404 Views
Now that I've had some time banging the sticks, I can honestly say I love this little quad! Again, I'm glad I spent the money to get the electronics after I'd gotten a bare frame for review here on the site.

Thanks to my buddy "TheOne420," the low voltage alarm now works, but it comes on a bit too soon. It's good for the batteries, so all is well for now. I'm going to arrange to have him give me a bit more bank and pitch in self-leveling mode; before long, I'll break down and buy the USB cable and download the software. Armattan has an excellent video tutoral on their site dedicated to setting up the Naze Afro Acro board. Like the Naze-equipped CF 258 tricopter, it's a real handful with the self-leveling switched off, quite the opposite of my KK 2.1 quads. The self-leveling practically removes the bank and pitch.

The fun continues!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 20, 2014 @ 01:35 PM | 17,596 Views
Well, I promised a photo in my last blog and I always keep my promises!

To recap, I just completed this very morning what had been nothing more than a frame provided by Chris Leroux at Armattan Quadrocopters for use in a "mini-review" here at RCG. He later sold me the DIY components so that I could complete the model.

The review may be found here for those interested in seeing what I had to start with.

I did a somewhat gentle test flight in the driveway with the self-leveling engaged. Like all of Armattan's designs, the CF 226 with its Naze Afro Acro board flies like the state-of-the-art machine it is.

That frame just beckoned me to hang some electrics on it and I'm honestly glad that I did. It was worth every moment of the work I put into getting it together.

Of course, Chris will gladly sell an RXR or TXR version.