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May 22, 2018, 12:15 PM
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My New MPCNC - Might be time to try balsa

Video First. Blog post follows.
MPCNC Drawing Tests - Time Lapse Video (1 min 8 sec)

I love tech. I bought a Champ S+ just to try the safety features for beginners. I don't mind buying beginner planes because you can turn all the safety stuff off and fly like you don't care. With a few exceptions, I've stayed away from balsa and stuck with foam. This all started when I saw a guy with a beautiful little red bipe that turned into toothpicks during the first flight. After that I saw quite a few balsa crashes with some of them going in the garbage can. But just like I swore I'd never fly planes when I was a heli guy, I think it is time to start building and flying my own balsa planes.

This isn't a sudden decision. It's been coming for a while. I've seen what a talented guy with an iron can do with the coverings. I've seen some very nice scratch-built planes. One guy at the club even built a full scale bipe that he flies over the field with a few times a year and puts on a nice show with. Of course, all these guys have decades of experience. I'm about 6 or 7 years in. I have been repairing my own planes and learned as much as I can with them. I've been designing my own parts, 3D printing them, and installing them for a few years now. That has been working great. I was going to start making my own foam planes, but I think I need a bigger step. The problem is getting the time to do things.

When I first started flying foam, I took some PVC, guitar string, a 3S battery, and an old table to make a primitive foam cutter. It worked, but I never had time to make the patterns and use it right. With 3D printing, I only had to design the part once and then I could just make one whenever. And then about a year ago a fellow pilot and 3D print guy showed me the Mostly Printed CNC (MPCNC). He had his done in a few weeks. I had the machine part finished fast and bought the wood to put one together, but soon realized I had to room for it. Mostly because of all the planes, but also because I had other stuff all over the place. 3 workbenches littered with 20 years of cheap tools and quite a few of them were broken. So I spent a lot of time in the basement for the next few months organizing everything and getting rid of all the junk 2 or 3 contractor bags at a time while getting my planes off the ground and handing around the one room like a huge walk in closet full of airplanes. By the time I was done I had most of one of the two rooms in the basement cleared for the new machine. I've spent whatever free time I had the past 3 weeks doing the final assembly. I still got a lot of flying in, so not as much time as I wanted. But last night I finally have the machine calibrated so my designs will be scale and I'm almost ready to mill wood.

I've had an offer from one of the club member to go through his collection of plans he's collected for decades and pick something out to start with. I plan on getting something started soon. It might be a little slow going since it is flying season, but now I can do real winter projects and not just do maintenance on my foam planes repeatedly. Plus, I only have to have to do the CAD drawings once, so repairs and replacement parts will be a lot faster to replicate and only require minimal cutting and sanding. If I decide balsa is not for me, I'll just put a foam cutting needle on the MPCNC and make planes with it that way. If I ever get some money up, I totally plan on making it a laser cutter. That is the beautiful thing about this setup. It can do a lot of things.

The site for the MPCNC is and the one I built is on Thingiverse at Depending on where you live, there are 3 different versions and one should fit the conduit sold at your local hardware store.
Last edited by Micubano; May 22, 2018 at 12:16 PM. Reason: Spelling/Grammar
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