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Dec 10, 2019, 03:20 PM
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Do Flight Computers Enhance Flying Skills ?


Gentlemen :

A bit of nostalgia on my part lately recalling my humble start in RC flying back in 1972 when I was a kid . Started with an OS Max single channel pulser in a balsa constructed plane . Learned a lot in those early days about the finer woodworking of balsa construction and was 'blown away' when I could fly a new 4 channel World Engines radio . Wing coverings like MonoKote were in their infancy but I could wager that the use of alternative construction materials and plastics was to become the norm .

As an electronic engineer , I tend to use micro-controllers in a lot of my CNC and test gear designs . I am adept at the programming of these guys and am not opposed to their use for most things . As I fly a lot of multi-rotors , the use of the flight controller is mandatory as there are too many paramenters all changing rapidly during the flight to keep track of . As for fixed wing having micro-controllers to 'soften / compensate' in flight has me wondering though . As these flight controllers more take over the functions , are they aiding the pilot ; or are more of a detriment to the pilot ?

At the peak of my fixed wing days , I was heavily involved with F3A pattern flying still with balsa constructs . Had balsa planes everywhere in the house . Nowadays , only a TeleMaster 60 and a new Scat Cat 500 pylon are the only models which have any modicum of balsa included . Most of the current models are made of EPO or other plastic foams , carbon fiber or 3D printed plastics . The comparitive weight savings over the more traditional materials make them a blast to fly . Yet I still wonder about my flying skills and if they are getting better or worse overall . I can still 'yank and bank' as well as the next guy .

Sure , this is a personal opinion ; But , has the advent of computerized RC models made for pilots of more superior flying SKILLS ? I guess that I would temper my response having watched a few vids of the 3D airplane pilots . A better question would be that if a pilot were to givve up a computerized model , would he be able to fly it nearly as well ? Hmmmmmmm

Regards to all of my readers and the CMAC mates in Cairns . Best wishes for the holidays . RIckC_RCAV8R
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Dec 10, 2019, 10:26 PM
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Ditto 1972 age 12, done everything R/c over the years, I currently fly Graupner rx with Heading Hold internally to rx, in heading hold its a bit different I call it "perfect trim", now you must fly it to perform each manuver but........
You work hard to get an upright level trim model using the trims and such, then you set up the balance to optimize inverted because you cant keep retrimming tabs.... BUTTT what IF the gyro know the attitude you want to maintain perfect trim because you released sticks to center???

I offer up heading hold perfect trim, put it in a knifeedge let sticks center and perfect trim, I want to get into the EF1 class pylon racing again to see how a newb old man can compete, set the knifeedge and just, pull, pull, pull, elevator as needed.

I cant hardly fly a traditional reciever be it none or yaw dampening ie Aura any more. Even a 5oz foamy all distorted from sun heat on the car ride will still maintain a perfect up line and down line.

ITs a great time to R/c................
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Dec 11, 2019, 05:44 AM
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It definitely depends on how the system is being used.

There are whole new areas of flying skill that have developed as a direct result of the new electronic hardware - LOS quad 3D and FPV racing just wouldn't be possible at all, and the same technologies have taken flybarless heli 3D to levels it never would've reached using traditional rotor head designs.

Of course there are systems that can basically fly the craft autonomously and accept occasional commands from the PIC, and there are less aggressive formats that just provide a strong helping hand. They don't require the pilot to develop skills, but that doesn't mean they can't be used for that purpose. For instance, the newer generation of BNF/PNP/RTF micro helis are all coming equipped with full self-leveling capabilities, but they can still fly 3D. A person can practice complex maneuvers and the FBL controller will bail them out into a hover as fast as they can hit the panic button. Alternatively, a total beginner can learn their tail/side/nose orientations without battling the twitchy, darting, unstable tendencies of a traditional micro heli. So from that angle, they're a huge benefit to flying skills.

Obviously such a system can become a debilitating crutch if the pilot doesn't make an effort to develop manual flying skills, but RC flying skills aren't exactly critical for survival. If someone gets enjoyment from their hobby by directing a semi-autonomous aicraft in circles around a field, more power to 'em.

Certainly, if nothing else, these systems have increased the overall number of people who have any sort of RC flying skill, so the worldwide average skill level must be going up. Whether that trend is good or bad remains to be seen.
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Dec 12, 2019, 09:58 AM
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I say this all the time...

(From someone who started on a mini aprentice then moved to unstablized dlg)

A gyro does not replace skill but it can increase your ability to fly.
Ie. Lets talk spektrum as3x which is a gyro system designed to buffer a light/mid strength breeze, (ill leave safe for a nother post when i have time.) You still need to know how to fly the plane but it can and does help a greeny progress thrue the stages of noob much quicker then they used to. As you can trust that the plane wont fall out of the sky so you can focus on other tasks like turning.

I say as long as you can get out of trubble i the air if needed your an expert!

The way i teach i can get a greeny taking off and landing my trainer halfway thru the day.
Last edited by sparrow1; Dec 12, 2019 at 10:05 AM.
Dec 12, 2019, 11:02 AM
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If you only fly in smooth air it won't make much of a difference. When I'm flying 3d I don't want to be constantly be giving stick inputs to correct getting bounced around by the wind.

If you fly a big airplane it doesn't get bounced around as much but a flight computer makes UMX 3D airplanes (like the UMX Pitts) viable. They wouldn't be much fun otherwise.
Dec 12, 2019, 01:29 PM
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I guess I'm one of the old guy's I've never used flight controllers and honestly not quite sure what all they do. I tried expo once and didn't like it; felt like drunk flying.
Dec 12, 2019, 03:11 PM
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As far as computerized radios are concerned (as opposed to computerized airplanes) expo allows you do do more. For instance in the same maneuver you may want to snap hard at first then make a fine, precision movement on the back half of the maneuver. It's really hard to flip a dual rate switch part way through or have the fine stick control to have both big movements and fine control.

My latest toy in airplanes with no rudder is to have the aileron stick set to be very precise precision (low throw) then have the rudder stick act as the "medium aggression" stick then the combo of both aileron and rudder stick to corkscrew at ballistic speeds.
Dec 12, 2019, 04:09 PM
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Gentlemen :

Thanx for these comments so far . Kinda opens my eyes a bit more . Also makes me go back to my first flights with trainers having gone thru several crashes trying to figure out RC by myself in that my instructor ALWAYS made me fly ending with a dead stick ! May as well learn how to handle that right away ; he said . Was never scared of dead sticks ever since . No worries now ; any attitude , any height . Computer or not , preferrably not as they can get in the way . Trading speed and height for attitude and alignment within a split second takes thumbs and the #1 computer which is on the shoulders . Just my opinion .
Dec 12, 2019, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickC_RCAV8R
Gentlemen :

Thanx for these comments so far . Kinda opens my eyes a bit more . Also makes me go back to my first flights with trainers having gone thru several crashes trying to figure out RC by myself in that my instructor ALWAYS made me fly ending with a dead stick ! May as well learn how to handle that right away ; he said . Was never scared of dead sticks ever since . No worries now ; any attitude , any height .
You made me relize that what i do as well, lol
But i do it for two reasons. One, the trainer i use float forever. And two its just one less thing for them to worry about during landings. Ie. Aiming the landing, keeping wings level, not diving into the ground ect.
Dec 12, 2019, 07:22 PM
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Nobody is flying unstable RC aircraft. Be the stabilisation electronic or aerodynamic, we're all flying RC craft that have stabilisation built in.

Electronic stabilisation allows the aircraft to fly truer and the inputs to be purer than what aerodynamic stabilisation can allow, and that difference simply reduces pilot workload so the skill requirement to perform a certain maneuver can be lower. Great for Heli's as pure inputs mean the rotor disk can be travelling through the air at any angle/speed and it should react to the pilots input in a consistent, neutral and predictable way unless you hit a mechanical limit.

I'm not so sure for fixed wing as I still like to "feel" the aircraft's response to my inputs change as the aircraft changes it's speed/attitude. It helps me gauge the airspeed, it's attitude and how much reserve control authority I have.

Stabilisation that corrects pilots inputs is a whole other ball game reducing the pilots workload to simply "guiding"the plane around, not much skill needed there..
Dec 12, 2019, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by bjr_93tz
Stabilization that corrects pilots inputs is a whole other ball game reducing the pilots workload to simply "guiding"the plane around, not much skill needed there..
That is kind of what i wanted to get at with the safe system. You basically give it power to clime, and use rudder to keep it 'near' you. The benefit at least as a beginner, is that you can focus on learning what the different controls do in air, while not having to worry about, ya know crashing :P.
so i see gyros as mainly a training aid and a benefit in difficult conditions.
Dec 13, 2019, 04:42 PM
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Maybe I was spoiled a bit in learning to fly and later on F3A pattern as our club had 2 members who were on the Canadian National teams in the 70s and were always ready to give lessons . The stress was for 'precision' in all manouvers so getting good on the stix came with practise . Flew an Ultimate KAOS with a Webra Speed 61 and pipe in those days . The Kaos flew as if it were on rails as I could 'feel' the airplane thru every manouver . Flying a pattern bird with computerized help would be cheating ; wouldn't it ?


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