Radio Carbon Arts Hand Launch Building DVD

George Voss provides us a detailed look at this exciting new educational release from Radio Carbon Arts, including multiple preview videos!

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Venue:North America
Media:High Quality DVR
Format:DVD from Digital Master
Packaging:Standard DVD Case w/ Color Artwork
Runtime:Over 3 1/2 Hours
Manuf.:Radio Carbon Art
Available From:Radio Carbon Art and selected distributors

It’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to review one of Radio Carbon Art’s DVDs. Paul Naton has been putting out high quality soaring and electric videos since the late 1990’s. He has tackled subjects like “Redline Sky;” a very interesting project on full size soaring and “Endless Lift 1-3” where he and his wife Aimee traveled across the United States, flying and taping at scores of flying sights, some never before having had a sailplane traverse its face. Even the Capitol in Washington DC was fortunate enough to get a visit from Paul, Aimee and a CR Climax.

This review covers the latest DVD from Radio Carbon Art, “Hand Launch Building Clinic.” This DVD takes the builder from box to field, using two of today’s hottest DLG’s (Discus Launch Gliders), the XP-4 from, and the Raptr from Both planes are considered state of the art discus launch sailplanes, featuring carbon/Kevlar/foam wings, carbon pod and boom fuselages and fiberglass sheeted balsa tail feathers. The two kits are within $61 of each other with the XP-4 coming in at $389 and the Raptr is a penny short of $450.

I’m not about to tell you everything that is in this nearly four hour DVD, but I will touch on a few items to whet your appetite. Below are the chapters in this DVD set.

Disk One: Disk Two:
Beginning Beginning
Tool Time XP-4 Tail Mount
Weigh In Pushrod Class
Wing Maker Raptr Aileron Linkage
Servo Bays Tail Control
Hard Points XP-4 Tail Linkage
Glue the Joint Raptr Tail Linkage
Cut the Glass Center Of Gravity
Dry Lay Up Radio Prep
Wing to Fuselage Wire to Wire
Mounting the Raptr Wing Fuselage Installs
Needs Tail to Fly Custom Battery Pack
Raptr Details
XP-4 Details
Range Problems?
Throwin’ Peg
Final Touches
How High?
Ballast Up
Final Weigh In

Extra features include how to remove dents in a composite bagged wing, and trailers from Radio Carbon Arts “Hand Launch Pro Clinic” and “Secrets of Thermal Soaring”.

DLG’s are pretty much in a class of their own when it comes to design, construction, and thermaling capabilities. These designs have to be very light so they will climb in the lightest of thermals. They have to have “legs” to get back from down wind situations. They have to be strong and durable since they are launched with ferocity and yet spend much of their life below 50 feet, dealing with trees, bushes, and other sailplanes.

Since they have to be capable of so much, their construction differs greatly from your basic 2M or 100” sailplane. Paul has built close to 40 HLG/DLG planes in his 16 years in the hobby. He is a consistent “Top 10” finisher at the prestigious International Hand Launch Glider Festival held each year in the suburbs of San Diego California and he has won many HLG contests, including the World Soaring Jamboree HLG contest in 1994. It’s safe to say Paul knows what he’s doing when it comes to DLG’s.

Of course, weight is always an important subject when discussing modeling. Paul uses a digital gram scale throughout the building process to keep track of the additional weight added to the plane. During assembly of the two planes, each and every item was weighed and checked against other similar items. Some wires are heavier than others; some receivers are heavier than others and so on. In the end, Paul was able to calculate how much “stuff” was added to the plane. The ‘stuff’ I’m referring to is things like solder and glue weights. By taking the total weight of the finished plane, and subtracting the known weights of the radio and other components, you can come up with how much ‘stuff’ you add during assembly of an airplane.

After showing you the necessary tools needed to assemble a DLG, Paul starts right in on construction. When cutting the servo bays in the Raptr’s wings, you may get the impression the servos are being installed in the top of the wing. This is due to decals on the wings. The Raptr has decals on the top of one wing and the bottom of the other. The Raptr’s servos are installed in the lower surface like nearly all DLG’s.

Since any airplane construction utilizes some sort of chemicals, the DVD contains some very good advice on Epoxy and CA safety, and how to prevent having an allergic reaction to these chemicals. Not only is this advice given, it’s also followed.

Wing-to-fuse-to-tail alignment is critical and the DVD explains how to align these items so you come out with a straight airplane when you are done. It doesn’t take any fancy tools or gauges, but I’m not going to give away the method. You’ll need to buy the DVD to find out how easy it is to get a correctly aligned airframe! The DVD contains some excellent information on how to correctly size a drill to a tap, and multiple ways to cut threads into the hard points. The last chapter of disk one is installing the tail feathers. There is no magic here, but you will be shown a very easy way to align and install the tail feathers. There is even an explanation on how to correct a misaligned stab or rudder.

Disk two starts with the XP-4’s tail mount, followed by a fairly extensive discussion on “Z” bends and how to remove slop in your linkages. Since the XP-4 and the Raptr use different materials for pushrods, the DVD covers multiple ways to terminate pushrod connections. Once the linkages to the aileron servos and the ailerons and the tail surfaces have been installed, and the control rods are hooked up, it’s time to calculate where the radio equipment will be placed in the fuselage.

On larger sailplanes, it’s not unusual to have to add nose weight to balance the plane correctly. DLG’s however are designed with specific equipment in mind and can almost always be built without the need for adding lead to the nose. Utilizing a simple CG gauge, you can temporarily install your equipment to see where everything will need to be placed to provide correct balance. The odd thing about the XP-4 was it needed its battery pack moved back under the wing to get proper balance!

"How High" and Data Loggers

You probably noticed the chapter entitled “How High?” If you’ve been in this hobby long, you’ve already figured out that regardless of how light your particular sailplane is, everyone else’s plane is lighter than yours. Also, no matter how high you launch, everyone says they out launch you. While it’s true that some people may have lighter planes, and some people launch higher than you, it’s more likely that the difference is in the scales used, and in most cases difference in launch height is purely speculation. Well not any more!

The above graph shows four zoom launches of one of the popular open class sailplanes, the Icon by As you can see in the graph above, the start of the zoom portion of the launch occurs at roughly the same height, 425 feet. The time and altitude lost in the bucket range from as low as 30 feet to about 250 feet . Three of the four launches end up about the same height at roughly 650 feet. The deepest bucket resulted in the highest launch, and the shortest bucket resulted in the lowest launch. The other two buckets were somewhere in between, yet still resulted in roughly 650 foot launches. Graph courtesy of Jim Bacus.

“How High” won’t solve the weight discussion, but it will end the discussion on the height issue. In this chapter, Paul discusses the use of an altitude logger, specifically the Alti2 Data Logger sold by YNT Design. An altitude logger is a recording device that takes pressure measurements at predetermined times. The times can be as little as 0.1 seconds up to every 10 seconds, depending on the unit. The recording rate can be set by the user.

Altitude loggers can be invaluable in maximizing launch height, and helping the user to get a better grasp on his ability to guess how high his sailplane really is. The thing that amazed me is that Paul is getting up to 150 foot launches with a DLG!

There is a minor discrepancy in the “How High” chapter. Paul states the Alti2 can be purchased for less than $100 when in fact the Alti2 currently sells for $154.95. There are other altitude loggers that are less expensive, but they have somewhat lesser capabilities.

Pre-Flight and Flying

From here, the DVD discusses the use of ballast, pre-flight, proper fine tuning of the CG, CG tips and then it’s on to the field to watch these two sailplanes in action. There is a minor discrepancy in the preflight chapter where he mentions he is flying on Mode One, when if fact he’s flying Mode Two.

Video Previews


Is This For a Beginner?

Absolutely, this video would be great for the new sailplane modeler. But don't experienced model builder will still learn new techniques about building.


Other than the two very minor errors mentioned previously (which I’m told will be corrected in future recordings), this DVD set is excellent in describing the building techniques of a modern day DLG. As always, Paul’s work is well organized, properly sequenced, and timely. Anyone watching this video will be able to build a lighter, stronger discus launched glider.

The information presented on this video isn’t limited to DLG. It’s not only excellent info for DLG builders, but builders of many 2M, 100” and unlimited size sailplanes can use much of this knowledge. This DVD, along with “HLG Pro Clinic” and “Secrets of Thermal Soaring”, are the ultimate tools to make you a better DLG builder and flyer. And, if you buy all three, you get a substantial discount! As usual, Paul has done an outstanding job with this video and I can recommend it highly!

Thread Tools
Nov 24, 2005, 08:08 AM
Soaring Circuits
rcbrust's Avatar
In the review, Mr. Voss states:

"Paul states the Alti2 can be purchased for less than $100 when in fact the Alti2 currently sells for $154.95. There are other altitude loggers that are less expensive, but they have somewhat lesser capabilities."

I would like to respectfully disagree with this statement. At $99, the RAM2 altimeter is a fully capable unit which uses the full version of the pressure to altitude algorithm determined by the International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) and not a simplified approximation.

Since the ISA model (which all barometric altimeters use) is only valid at 59 degrees F (15C), the RAM2's FlightView software also includes atmospheric temperature compensation, allowing the user to enter flight day temperature information for maximum altitude accuracy.

Randy Brust
Soaring Circuits
Nov 24, 2005, 06:48 PM
Registered User
gavoss's Avatar
Thread OP

Thanks for setting the record straight. My point is, you can't buy a new Alti2 for less than $100 as stated in the video. It was in no way attended to insinuate that your unit, or anyone elses was inferior to the Alti2.

Thanks again for your comment. gv
Dec 03, 2005, 07:06 AM

Great review. It has convinced me this is a must have for my growing DVD collection.

Well done!!

Dec 03, 2005, 10:46 AM
Registered User
gavoss's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks Sonny. It's always nice to hear from the readers, with good or even shall we say, constuctive criticism.

Paul is a master at giving us what we need in the soaring world, whether it's purely for entertainment, or for educational purposes. I simply get each new DVD he comes out with. I always learn something new, even after nearly 40 years in this great hobby.

Glad you enjoyed the review.

Aug 08, 2010, 07:39 PM
Registered User

Still Relevant?

I'm considering the purchase of "Radio Carbon Arts Hand Launch Building DVD" but given that it was produced in 2005 is it still relevant?

I'm sure it was great in the day but I imagine a lot has changed in the lat 5 years.


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