Steelhead FRY Micro SAL glider build - RC Groups
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Feb 01, 2005, 09:15 PM
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Steelhead FRY Micro SAL glider build

I paid a visit to Dean Thomas of Steelhead Products on my way back to San Jose State for the second semester. He set me up with a kit for the FRY, a 30" Side Arm Launch glider Steelhead Products is developing that can be stored and flown just about anywhere. The glider's wings and fuselage are included in the kit, and are cut out of blue foam with a computer controlled machine that makes parts with fraction of a millimeter precision. I wanted my glider to be sleek and pretty, but also durable enough to put up with my failed attempts to impress the girls on campus with foolish tricks. After reading all of the posts on other threads about building the FRY, I felt prepared to start putting together my own.

Building the FRY-
Before leaving to college, I rummaged around my garage and found a 1/4" diameter hollow graphite arrow shaft with 1/32" wall thickness- a perfect specimen for the tail boom on my new glider. I attached the tail feathers with the horz. Stab. on the bottom of the boom instead of the top so that the control lines would be protected from the ground etc. I also made my rudder 1.25" wide instead of 1" so that I wouldn’t need to rotate it as much to turn left and right (resulting in less drag in turns.) Keeping the durability factor in mind, and also trying to promote slickness, I decided to completely cover the wings with Monocoat. I covered the sides of the Fuse. with packaging tape to keep the glider nice and cleen even after landing on wet grass and mud, and mounted all of the electrical stuff to the top of the glider to avoid breeching the balsa sides. The servos were sunk almost completely into the fuse so that I could rout the control wire (.032 piano wire) cold be routed through the hallow boom. I cut a slot in the side of the boom for the wires to come out of, and re-enforced the whole with thread saturated in epoxy. For a finishing touch I decided to make a cardboard canopy that would go over all the electrical gear. While the canopy added a few grams in weight, it made the plane more aerodynamic, and I needed a bit of nose weight anyway.

Flying the FRY
I don't have scale here in the dorms, but I'm sure my glider ended up a bit on the heavy side. My graphite tail boom is about 1 gram heaver than if I had made it out of balsa, and the fully covered wings, excessive use of glue and tape, and cardboard canopy probably added an additional 7 or 8 grams to that. As I walked to the nearest grassy area, the wind was strong enough to lift the glider out of my hand if I aimed it right and let it go. I had a lot of fun with that but soon realized that the same wind was going to make it harder to fly once I got to the field. I decided to give her a few tosses anyway to see how she behaved. -- I was happy to see her glide about 75' on my first light toss. I immediately went to SALing it. Throwing the plane Side Arm Style wasn't as great as I thought it would be. With another plane Dean and I had built, we were approaching 100' launches, but for me... 50' or maybe 60' was the best I could get, then the FRY would turn upside-down and loose all it’s airspeed. More importantly though, I found that the FRY had major trouble turning without lots of airspeed. This led to several crashed that quickly made my fry a 'seasoned' plane. I realized that I had not cut my wingspan down to 30" like the other SALs had been, but rather left it as 32". I got back, cut off an inch from each wingtip and rushed back out to the field. Bingo- my FRY was turning like a champ. I'm still working on finding time to fly my FRY more (the first week of school is kind of hectic) but I'm very happy to have such a fun, and stress reveling plane in my dorm room ready to go in a moment's notice.
Last edited by eerrp; Feb 01, 2005 at 09:19 PM.
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Feb 01, 2005, 10:40 PM
Registered User
Cool... is this already available? How much was the kit? I made a similar glider from Bluecor and pink foam with carbon spars. It comes in at just over 4 oz with a 38" WS - the aspect ratio is much higher though, so total wing area is just over 1 sq ft. I could probably lose .4 oz by switching to lighter batteries and ditching the ESC. How did you set up the battery?

Also, how does the boom attach to the pod, and how do the pushrods exit?
Feb 02, 2005, 10:51 AM
Magicsmoke maker
Inflexo's Avatar

Looks like you did a nice job overall there. The inflight-pictures sure came out fine. Did you take them while controlling it or someone else?

What's it like to fly when thermals appear?

Feb 05, 2005, 04:50 AM
Registered User
Hay guys!
Sorry it took so long to reply; I've been trying to add classes and get every thing set up this first week of school.

A much larger Fry thread can be found at

Dean's not selling kits for the Fry just yet, but he will be very soon (so keep your eyes peeled.) The nice thing about the Fry -and all of the other kit's Dean sells for that matter- is that he sell's them for dirt cheep. I think I heard a number for this kit somewhere around $20.

In this plane, I hid my battery under the receiver to save space. The fuse is pleanty deep enough for that, and the configuration works well for getting weight up in the nose. To attach the boom, I simply cut out a slot about the leangth of the wing cord on the top of the fuse and epoxied it in. The reason the slot is so long is so that I can have the servo rods go directly into the boom. If you look closly at the bottom photo, you can see the control rods coming out of a epoxy/ dental floss enforced slot in the side of the boom which was cut with a dremal. The antenna for the recievier is also routed through the boom and comes out of the very back. Routing everything through the boom makes the plane really streemlined and unsnagable.

Yes, I'm very proud to say that those picture where taken by me while flying the plane at the same time. My trick was just to take as many pictures as possable while flying and sort through them later for the good ones.
As for thermals, I havn't really experinced any just yet with this particular plane, but there's a great video floating around (no pun intended) of someone else playing in thremals with a Steelhead Fry. Here's the URL:

Since I last talked to you guys, I've gone through a few pritty extreem crashes, but the plane is still very flyable- it's amazing how buff this Fry can be. I have, however, replaced the blasa/foam nose with a more bouncy type of foam that I got at a packaging store. Here are some more pics (this time taken by a second person) to further wet your pallet.
Eric L. Stackpole
Last edited by eerrp; Feb 05, 2005 at 04:54 AM.
Feb 05, 2005, 03:23 PM
steelhead's Avatar
The FRY is available, but isnt a completely polished kit.

Until the FRY appears on the website, it is available for $15.00 plus shipping. It will include written instructions and drawings, foam fuse pod and foam wings.

We are working on full size folded plans, but no one has had any trouble building the FRY from the provided drawings.

Do not mistake the "Mosquito" airframe for the FRY on the webpage.

Grea photos Eric!

Feb 16, 2005, 09:04 PM
steelhead's Avatar
I finally found a carbon boom that we can sell along with the FRY kit- should work out great. I will post more about this later-

Eric- Give me a call- cant get through your phone #


Feb 17, 2005, 03:19 AM
Registered User
ycc's Avatar
I still waiting anxiously for mine to arrive. Dean please check your PM.
Apr 25, 2005, 09:53 PM
steelhead's Avatar
So Eric- the thermals must be getting better in your neck of the woods by now?

Jul 08, 2005, 10:34 PM
Registered User

My 1st Fry

WT: Heavy 6.75 oz. I will make my next one a lot lighter.
Battery: 160 mAh NiMH

This is my first HLG and with my limited experience I think it flies great even though it is so heavy.
Jul 08, 2005, 11:18 PM
Registered User

It looks real nice. They do fly amazingly well for the size. Also launch very high for the weight. I just pulled the wing and tailfeathers off my ex-gfriends and am rebuilding the fuse which got trashed due to forgetting to turn on the reciever last summer. This time Im trying a T lamination of balsa for the boom. Heres a pic of the new pod and boom. Also used PU glue for the first time on this.

Shooting for 4.5 oz!

Jul 08, 2005, 11:34 PM
Registered User
No offense, but what could you do to make a 30" WS glider almost 7 ounces? Your equipment seems pretty small/light.
Jul 08, 2005, 11:50 PM
Registered User
No offense taken.
First off I used a cheap food scale to check the weight not the most accurate. I covered wing, fuse, and tail surfaces with econokote, I also used epoxy for the glue, spruce for the boom, metal screws to hold the wing on, and $1.00 in quarters in the nose to balance on the spar. I did a whole bunch of little things that add up to a lot of extra wt. I will work on trimming down the weight on my next one.
Jul 09, 2005, 12:09 AM
Registered User
Ah, econokote must add a significant amount of weight. In my experience with these small gliders, if you put a full spar in the wing, no covering is necessary, especially with the thicker airfoils.
Jul 09, 2005, 12:16 AM
Registered User
I will remember that for next time. I just liked the protection that the econokote gave me.
Jul 09, 2005, 01:11 AM
steelhead's Avatar
No, its the dollar in quarters that added the weight. The spruce spar is a little heavy, and required more noseweight.

The Ekonokote doesnt add too much weight. I've flown these just fine anywhere from 3.5 ounces to 5.5 ounces. More weight, higher launches

Great looking plane!


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