The Midge: 5.6 gram palm-sized living room three channel airplane - RC Groups
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Jul 13, 2003, 02:36 PM
Living Room Aviator
drliu's Avatar

The Midge: 5.6 gram palm-sized living room three channel airplane

I've been pretty swamped at work, but slowly pieced together my fourth carbon fiber/mylar living room flyer (see my earlier posts on the Wisp, Gazer, and Cherub for the others). The goal of this effort was to create the smallest possible plane that could still fly in my living room. Based on the other three planes, I estimated that I could go down to about 6-7 inches of wingspan provided that I used a triplane configuration like I used in the Wisp, and provided that I kept the AUW below 6 grams. This would represent a wing loading level of about 0.5-0.6 oz./sq. ft., which in my experience is close to the limit for living room flight.

The wings are similar to those of the Wisp, with slightly altered aspect ratio and relative spacing. The rudder and elevator are the aesthetically-pleasing wrap around horns design that I used on my Cherub. The electronics are the Nick Leichty 3 channel 0.5 gram receiver, a pair of the awesome Didel Picobird actuators, a 40 mAh Kokam LiPoly, and the new Didel 0.2 mod 1:25 gearbox driven by a 4 mm short pager motor (also carried by Didel). I cut down and reshaped using heat a larger CF prop (originally from propmaster Gordon Johnson) into one that is 3.7" in diameter, and shaved it down to about 250 mg.

Final specs are:

5.6 g total AUW including battery
6.7" span
7" long
0.53 oz./sq. ft. wing loading
dubbed: The Midge

Even though it isn't fully tweaked, the Midge flies very well in my living room. It flies much faster than the Wisp, as theory would predict, but slow enough to handle in a 15' x 25' space (with furniture). It requires quite a bit of runway for a takeoff (6+ feet), in contrast with the 0.20 oz./sq.ft. Wisp, and can climb (or dive) much faster as well. It purrs like a Porsche with the new Didel gear box and motor! Crashes-- even horrific looking ones-- rarely do any damage at 5.6 grams of mass moving not very fast.

Tweaks I would like to do:
- The turning radius is too large (~ 4-5 feet), so I may try lengthening the tiny rudder (currently only about 0.6 sq. in.).

- The theoretical AUW including glue is about 5.4 grams, so I need to figure out how 200 mg snuck into the Midge and ditch the extra baggage.

I'll post movies as usual when I get the chance-- in the meantime, here are a few pictures:


The images in this thread have dissapeared as they were stored on a server that was hacked rather than uploaded to the Ezone. David has sent me one midge picture, which is less than the original four in this post. Since I cannot add a picture where there was not one before, I have added the picture David sent me in a new Post #29.
-- Gordon, 3/24/2004
Last edited by Gordon Johnson; Mar 24, 2004 at 09:56 AM.
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Jul 13, 2003, 03:27 PM
Only nerd in the village

Look forward to the videos.

Michael (green with envy)
Jul 13, 2003, 04:21 PM
Las Vegas Realtor
Inari's Avatar
Awesome as always, David. I expect nothing less from you.

Jul 13, 2003, 05:30 PM
Registered User
WOW i've never really seen just how small micro flyers were!
Jul 13, 2003, 05:55 PM
Thats NOT indestructible
j8m8l's Avatar
Amazing David.

As per usual I am amazed by your work.
I just done know what to say!

Jul 13, 2003, 06:32 PM
Crashmaster Extraordinair
I think planes like this need their own forum. I am tired of having to wade through dozens of posts about 1000+ gram planes when im looking for info about <100 gram planes.
Jul 13, 2003, 06:57 PM
Only nerd in the village
Originally posted by Sparr
I think planes like this need their own forum. I am tired of having to wade through dozens of posts about 1000+ gram planes when im looking for info about <100 gram planes.

Most of the models discussed in this forum ARE under 100 grams.

Jul 13, 2003, 09:09 PM
Tee Sqaured
Thomas Manson's Avatar

I never knew you cold make an RC plane to small and light!!

What will one of theres planes cost you? probly alot right?

Jul 13, 2003, 09:47 PM
Las Vegas Realtor
Inari's Avatar
I'm envious. Nice job, Ralph.
Jul 13, 2003, 11:43 PM
Registered User
Like always, some great work there. I hope to be able to watch it at the next indoor fun fly.
Jul 14, 2003, 08:20 AM
Crazy Cessna Owner
Robbie d's Avatar
that is awesome, just remember to turn the fan off and don't sneeze!
Jul 16, 2003, 01:13 PM
Registered User
Dave Wulff's Avatar

Beautiful work as usual. Why do you use brass watch gears instead of the Didel nylon, and where or what kind of watches or clocks do you find them in? Thanks.

Jul 16, 2003, 01:22 PM
Zoom, zoom...
Trikster's Avatar
Both of those planes are very cool. I have a living room, dining room that is about 16 x 30 ft. One of these would be awesome! Hopefully I win DWE's contest so I can venture into this realm.
Jul 16, 2003, 06:13 PM
Who Says Penguins Can't Fly?
aeropenguin's Avatar
I am really impressed!!!!! I just wish I had the money for Nick's equipment recievers and act.'s.

Originally posted by Ralph B
Good luck with the contest.

Ralph, may I ask - what contest?

Has anybody ever had successful living-room flight with an RFFS? I am thinking something along the lines of the Midge, but from balsa, and with a little-bit larger wings to allow for my much heavier equipment.

Jul 16, 2003, 06:49 PM
in persuit of low wing loading
Gordon Johnson's Avatar
Sure, Dave Robelen's "Walker" in the current issue of RCMF is one example. Note that since he used heavier equipment he scaled the plane way up. That would be hard to pull off with David's Midge sized plane since an RFFS with two DU actuators weighs ~3.7g or so. Also, David's first version of the Wisp flew with RFFS equipment if I remember correctly.