Project Dune Buggy (AKA Bonzai Buggy)
I have been rolling this idea around in my mind for a while but haven't had the chance to put foam and glue to the concept until recently. I am a big fan of flying things and have made many flying cars. I was getting ready for a trip out to the desert for some camping at Glammis and our good friends have an amazing sand rail (aka dune buggy). Having gone flying through the air 5-6 feet off the ground and being called back to earth by gravity, I have always been impressed with their suspension design and how much it saves my back. My other cars had suspension but it was more for preservation of the depron airframe and not so much for off roading... although they do pretty good on dirt and grass.
I studied the front suspension of my buddy's sand rail and was also inspired by Leadfeather's Mario Cart and a mod C/F did to one of my GTP cars a while back for light and easy rear suspension. I used the existing planform and parts from my GTP kits and scratch built the 4-link suspension using some 3/16" aluminum tubing, .060 carbon rod, piano wire, Dubro ball links, and some ABS plastic. The actual shock is aluminum tubing with a carbon tube inside with assorted pen springs for rebound. They work fantastic and the geometry is amazing to see in action. The rear suspension is a sudo trailing arm configuration using rubber bands for spring and tension.
The airframe itself is chopped and simplified, while the motor mount was raised to gain a little more ground clearance. I also had to move some servos and linkage around.
I was really hoping that I would be able to ROG off of the sand while making the maiden flights at Glamis over the weekend. I quickly found out that the narrow wheels were digging in despite a light wing loading. I was able to drive in some areas of hard pack but anything too fluffy and the dips and valleys would catch the wheels.
I hand launched for the maiden and all other flights over the weekend. There were too many vehicles and RVs in the hard packed areas to do otherwise.
The flying went very well. I was nose heavy on the first flight and slowly moved it back until the elevator gained better pitch authority and overall flying qualities improved as well. It was about 1" further back than the original GTP due to some planform changes. I feel a slight difference with the motor and prop up higher, but will continue experimenting with some 3-bladed props to hopefully lower it down some while still keeping prop/ground clearance.
The LEDs work great at dusk, but pitch dark flying proves difficult in maintaining orientation. I did enough laps to impress the campers and freak the dogs out before I decided to call it quits.
I can't wait to get out locally in some dirt and grass to do some actual ROG flying. I am also working on a decent color scheme as I cannot fly unpainted foamies... I know the club flyers will like this one for sure!
Hopefully I will get some video in the next week or two and continue tweaking the design.
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