Building a Flite-Test Flyer Airplane from Speed-Build Kit and from Scratch - Page 5 - RC Groups
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Jun 02, 2018, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by BSquared18
Do you read tea leaves too?
Bill
Only if the tea bag splits, otherwise stick to coffee....
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Jun 13, 2018, 11:17 AM
Nu2RC
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Building’s Done; Flying’s to Come


The final build step was to add a canopy and interior features (pilot, etc.) to the model. As with many other steps, this one required a lot of research (and some failures) along the way. The process and discussion are detailed in my thread, “Feedback Wanted on a Canopy-Building Project.”

You can read about the whole process in that thread, so I’ll focus here on what worked. First, I have to give credit to the YouTube video that finally showed me the path that accomplished my goals: “How I do it - Vacuform Canopy for my CL-41 Tutor Paper Model.” Thanks to davescardcreations.


Step by Step

Fig. 2 shows the main components of the process.

The Plug. As you may know, a plug is the male counterpart to a (female) mold. I didn’t know that before starting my research. If you press a plug into soft material, you create a mold. Conversely, if you pour a substance into a mold and harden it, you can have a plug.

After considering a variety of materials for the plug, I settled on clay—specifically, Super Sculpey 50/50 regular and firm polymer bake-in-the-oven clay. I hadn’t worked with clay since a teenager, but after watching a few YouTube tutorials, I got the hang of it.

Using polymer clay has several advantages: after being softened by rolling, etc., it becomes very pliable; it can have a very smooth surface, eliminating sanding; it bakes rock hard, so it can withstand pressure; it doesn’t shrink while baking; and it doesn’t dry out when stored.

I decided to fashion something that resembles the canopy of an F-16. It won’t be to scale, of course, because to do so would have required a much larger version.

I won’t go into the details of how I fashioned the plug, except to mention one trick that worked well. After creating a rectangular block of clay the same height as the canopy, I plunged into the clay a stiff cardboard cutout of the canopy’s profile (Fig. 1). Then, it was just a matter of shaving away clay until I reached the end of the indention made by the cutout. That gave me an accurate profile to start working with. (As shown in the image, I often use arrows to help avoid getting things wrong.)


The Plastic. I learned from the Tutor-Paper-Model video that the heavier version of page protectors works well for making light-weight canopies. And, needless to say, they are much less expensive than the specialized plastic you find online and in hobby stores. I happen to have a lot of those protectors lying around, so I can practice and experiment to my heart’s content at no additional cost. (Would anyone like to buy the eight-dollar-and-change piece of SIG plastic that I bought right before I discovered the cheaper alternative?)


The Former. For lack of a better name, the former (Fig. 2) is the cutout, usually made from hard wood, that is pressed down over the heated plastic and plug to simulate the pressing process done by a vacuum. Mine has very little space between the plastic and the former’s edge. It worked well.


The Process. Again as shown in the Tutor-Paper-Model video (minus the vacuuming part), the steps are: stretch the plastic tight in a wooden frame (I used an empty picture frame and metal thumbtacks); lay the stretched, framed plastic on top of the plug; start softening the plastic with a heat gun; after the plastic begins to sag over the plug, press the former down over the plug to stretch the plastic against the plug; allow the plastic to cool before removing the former.


The Canopy Support. The canopy support consists of two pieces—a U-shaped brace and a strip that goes around the canopy’s base. Both are made from polymer clay. Fig. 3 shows the two parts. The base strip clearly shows how irregular the canopy is shaped. I’m sure additional practice will improve that outcome.

These parts provide support to the thin plastic canopy and enhance its appearance.

The U-brace is glued to the inside, not outside, of the canopy, nestled in the bulge created during the pressing process. I think it looks much better than it would have on the outside of the canopy.

To make the base frame, I created a thin strip of clay and formed it around the canopy in the glass dish used for baking. Then, I removed the canopy, careful not to change the shape of the frame. Finally, I baked the frame.


The Pilot and Instrument Panel. The pilot, pilot’s back rest, and instrument panel are made from—you guessed it, clay. I was even able to include an oxygen hose coming from the pilot’s face mask (Fig. 4). The image shows an F-16 canopy/cockpit I used for size and positioning reference.


Black Decal. The decal is shown in Fig. 3. I wanted the area under the canopy to be black. Instead of painting the area, I created and applied a black decal, using the same process described in an earlier post. With a decal, I could exactly control the size and shape to fit the canopy. See fig. 5 for the result.

All the cementing was done with marine-grade, fast-cure epoxy cement. Very strong. No fumes, and, unlike hot glue, you have a few minutes to make adjustments before the cement begins to cure.

Fig. 5 shows that completed canopy/cockpit. I realize that the structure is fragile, and one flip-over during landing may mean starting over again. So be it.

That completes the build. The next time we meet, I should have a maiden-flight (and/or crash) video to show you. Keep fingers crossed.

Thanks all for your support and advice,
Bill
Jun 13, 2018, 05:33 PM
Registered User
Ugly servos sticking up behind the cockpit. What about doing what they did to the Skyhawk to cover those? OK it was a fuel tank but looks OK.
Jun 14, 2018, 11:18 AM
Nu2RC
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Quote:
Ugly servos sticking up behind the cockpit. What about doing what they did to the Skyhawk ... .
Thanks for the input. We apparently share an interest in appearance, thus the decorative decals and canopy on my model.

But this plane is intended for slow, stable flying by low-time flyers like me. That's why I bought this particular kit. I have to balance looks with performance. The more weight, the faster the plane needs to fly.

I've been told this model is "disposable" and therefore extras aren't important. It also has been suggested that to reduce weight, every non-essential thing, even the landing gear, should be eliminated. Obviously, I haven't gone that far. Hopefully, I haven't gone too far the other direction. We'll see.

This isn't a scale model, so I can live with the exposed servos and control rods; and, by the way, the battery hung onto the bottom, which some would consider even more ugly that the servos.

Bill
Jun 14, 2018, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSquared18
Thanks for the input. We apparently share an interest in appearance, thus the decorative decals and canopy on my model.
Bill
Quick and dirty has been the approach to that model so my canopy is all foam with black or blue felt tipped "windows". Used to cover the Rx. The Skyhawk hump I was told last night was avionics and not needed later as these got smaller. My servos stick out the sides under the wing.

U/C or no U/C - I should actually remove all of mine as the grass is too long unless I walk another 100 metres to a cricket pitch runway - which I usually miss. They can be used for take off OK.

Disposable - yes - except I've found I take home the load of foam "rubbish", glue a bit on here, a bit on there and it is back flying again, despite being right-off. Uglier but flying.
Jun 15, 2018, 09:57 AM
Nu2RC
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Quote:
I should actually remove all of mine as the grass is too long
That makes sense. One nice thing about the Flite-Test power pod is that the landing gear can be easily removed. Might have to change the position of the battery to bring the CG back where it should be. I have installed a long strip of velcro and can install more if necessary, so that adjustment should be no problem.

My current flying field has close-cut grass, but who knows what we might run into when traveling.

Bill


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