Happy New Year everybody! I hope you all had a good Christmas and made the best of it despite the restrictions. We’ve finally reached the end of an awful 2020, surely 2021 can only be better can’t it? It will obviously be several months yet before the vaccine roll-out has much effect on the virus and I suspect we won’t be flying normally again for quite a while. December was a strange month, when Lockdown 2 ended on 3rd December the whole of the local area was placed in Tier 2 and flying was allowed, albeit with social distancing and the rule of six. Some of us flew on the 3rd and several times after that whenever the weather was reasonable. On the 4th we saw a lovely sunset.But on the 19th Portsmouth, Gosport and the Havant Council areas were switched into Tier 3 and just 24 hours later into Tier 4. This meant that members in those areas were not allowed to fly but members in Tier 2 could carry on as before, effectively cutting the club in half. Then on Boxing Day the whole of Hampshire was moved into Tier 4 so none of us could fly except with just one other. Those in the WhatsApp group will have seen that Iven booked a slot and went flying after lunch on Christmas Day! He reported back that it well and despite not having flown for six months he didn’t break anything. He also said the patch seemed to have shrunk somewhat…yes Iven that’s what happens after a six month break! Captain Slow has continued to regularly change the fence battery throughout the various restrictions and some of us were able to mow the patch at the start of December so it shouldn’t need much attention for a while now. I was especially upset by the new restrictions as I’d been looking forward to impressing you all at the field with my classy new Christmas jumper. Never mind. You’ll just have to make do with a photo:
During the lockdown Bob the Builder spent some time knocking up a new model that he’s named Lockdown Two.Bob says it draws inspiration from the new Eachine Razor and the Dream-Flight Alula from about 10 years ago.I can see where he’s going with that. The wing is made from two layers of 5mm Depron with a flat bottomed aerofoil and an Alula style plan shape. An 8mm square section carbon tube is combined with a fuselage front section built from balsa. All the materials were bits Bob already had kicking around. The motor from Banggood is an 1800kv 2 or 3 cell one, the same as Bob uses in his small yellow basher. He has fitted aileron and elevator control only, no rudder and has managed to keep the flying weight to 520 grams using either a 1300mAh 3s battery or an 850mAh 2s with 50 grams nose weight. Bob said he built it to be a slow flier that he can fly in a small area. I did the test flight and I’m pleased to report that apart from being too twitchy on elevator it flew brilliantly. You can see it in this month’s video. The first flight was using a 2 cell battery a later Bob flew it on a 3 cell one which proved to also be good. Bob added a bit of colour after the first outing to aid visibility. I’m not sure quite why but on the second outing Bob had a bit of trouble with it and did a little damage but once 1066 had trimmed it out again all seemed well.
During December Chas flew his ex-Gentleman Jim Wildcat a couple of times and seemed to be enjoying it a lot.But back in the workshop Chas has been busy working on his Lysander which is coming along well now. With the aid of his lathe he’s sorted out the motor mount and spinner and has managed to mount a Top Flite Pratt & Witney engine moulding in the cowl. It’s an interesting choice of engine as Lysanders were all powered by Bristol engines but needs must! The engine will be fitted with a home-made aluminium exhaust system in due course. Chas has also been working on the woodwork and the tail feathers look to be pretty much complete now. The fin is laminated from two pieces of 6mm sheet balsa whilst the rudder has a core of sheet balsa with riblets on either side. The elevators are built in the same method as the rudder whilst the tail plane is all built up with obechi spars, ribs, leading and trailing edges and then sheeted with 1.5mm balsa and laminated tips added to both the tail plane and elevators. It is built upside down so that when turned over it has a flat top surface and dihedral on the underside. The wing struts are made from two laminations of lite ply and one of balsa with a stud at the lower end and two aluminium plates at the upper ends. The struts are there just to hold the wings against the fuselage. As Chas has now fully retired I expect work on the Lysander will move on swiftly although there is still an awful lot to do. There’s no hurry anyway as it’s unsure when he’ll be able to test fly it with the Covid restrictions.
We haven’t seen Gorgeous Gary for a while and he emailed to explain it’s because he’s had an operation on his wrist. That sounds like a pathetic excuse to me, just fly full throttle out and ignore the rudder, same as always! Gary’s been having trouble with his wrist for some time and he’s hoping that the operation will have resolved the problem. He says he has very little movement in his thumb but that’s it’s a lot better than it was a few weeks ago. He’s still managing to work though and hopes to be back flying with us quite soon. All the best from PAM Gary.
You’ll no doubt be amused to hear that I managed to knock the tail off the Max Thrust Riot that I purchased in the sale of Gentleman Jim’s goods. Yes I know it’s just a reasonably aerobatic trainer but it was a windy and very turbulent morning and I was practising touch & go’s, doing very tight turns at low level when I got caught out.That’s my excuse anyway. Captain Slow was kind enough to snap a photo of the damage and insisted that I include it for your viewing pleasure (swine!). Gluing the tail back on was barely a few minutes work but both the rudder and elevator control horns had snapped and it took me much longer to find some suitable replacements from my stocks and get them fitted. Never mind, it was ready for the next flying session when it performed perfectly once again.Young Charlie was flying his Wot-4 in exactly the same conditions that morning and managed four flights, including all the take-offs and landings, with no problem at all. He’s continuing to progress well and once the restrictions are over and the weather improves it won’t be long before he’s ready for his ‘A’ test. On a different December morning Charlie’s mum Nadine filmed him taking-off and landing which I’ll include in this month’s video. The landing was the worst one he did that particular morning but it was just on the patch and in one piece so all was well.
New member Ben (well he will be in January) brought along an FW190 one morning but was unable to fly it as he discovered there was a problem with some of the controls interacting. Ben uses a Taranis transmitter and the problem might have been down to something in the very capable but also very complicated open source software.I expect he’s got it sorted now and we’ll see the FW in action soon. But he was able to fly his Gee Bee R3 which he’s fitted with FPV gear. Ben uses a very neat looking FrSky gamer style transmitter for the Gee Bee, I bet Dougal wants one of those! Ben flew normal LOS (line of sight) first and trimmed it out before trying the FPV on the next flight.All seemed ok at first but then the model started drifting away downwind and Ben was struggling to bring it back so he removed his goggles to fly LOS again. Both Bob and Dougal were helping with the spotting and giving directions (no further explanation required then!) but Ben was obviously in trouble as the Gee Bee was getting further and further away. Eventually the Gee Bee came down a long way off over the bottom fields. I was busy in the pits at the time and couldn’t figure out why Ben was struggling but Dougal told me later that the lipo had coming out and was swinging around beneath the model. A constantly varying centre of gravity would explain a lot!After a bit of searching the model was found to have landed safely almost 900 metres away. Fortunately it had cleared a small wooded area and was just sitting completely undamaged in an open field waiting to be retrieved.
Back to Chas’s workshop now and some information he sent me about his battery driven power tools: Something a little different. What can be done to your old power tools when the NiCads no longer function?The mini drill, scissors and screwdriver are all now fitted with a 1s 1000mAh lipo. The Skil drill has a 2s 2000 mAh lipo and the vacuum cleaner has a 4s 1350mAh lipo. I’m sure the vacuum works better now than it ever did.The screwdriver’s epicyclic gearbox and locks fell apart when the unit was stripped down. Very fiddly to reassemble!! When not in use the lipos are put into storage mode and then charged when a building session is anticipated. Thanks for that Chas.
The saga of Dougal’s Jumper T16 transmitter continues, or rather it ends with his latest news: My Jumper T16 had one final insult for me – even having changed all the ribbon cables for the gold-plated ones, the USB charging didn’t work. I may sell it, or I might keep it for doing my own software experiments without buggering up the transmitter which (I hope) I’ll be using for regular flying sessions. What transmitter is that I hear you ask? I’ve lost count of the number in his collection now but it is somewhere in the mid-thirties I believe. Well now it’s plus one as he’s bought a shiny new RadioMaster TX16S. I’m very confused about the links between Jumper, RadioMaster, and RadioKing transmitters, Jumper appeared first and the others seem to be further developed copies of the Jumper transmitter. Dougal’s initial reaction on opening the box was that the transmitter was a little smaller than he’d expected.But delving deeper he found the real thing, so how’s he getting along with his new one: I’ve only played with the hardware so far – I intend to get the software updated over Xmas & get some planes configured. I changed it from Mode 1 to Mode 2 by swapping the stick units over, which was quite a straightforward operation.The connectors seem a lot better than the flimsy ribbon cables in the Jumper T16, so I hope the reliability will be a lot better. The Hall sensor sticks feel a bit weird as the pivot point is a bit higher than I’m used to. I felt I wanted to make the sticks longer, which was a bit of a shame as they are not really adjustable. I solved this problem by unscrewing the stick ends, adding a bit of plastic tube as a spacer, then screwing them back on.Old school modellers will recognise the plastic tube as Sullivan Gold-n-rod outer! Curiously I found a YouTube video by someone who details a modification for making the sticks shorter! He also used a 3D-printed spacer to lower the stick units in the case. Sounds promising Dougal, just a RadioKing transmitter required now to complete the set!
Catapult King has also been busy during the lockdown and he sent me information and photos of his latest creation. Catapult has never been one to go for an easy option and his new F14 proves that! I started to build the F14 years ago but I never finished it before the Depron had dried out. So this year I decided to give it another go only this time with some modifications from the original Steve Shumate plans and using the original model as a template. The original plans will make a perfectly good flyable representation of the aircraft but as usual my goal was to go a little further on an already good design. Having found out a lot more about the flying surfaces it had to have the front looking ‘Gull wing’ shape, I just had to change ailerons for flaps and spoilers (front slats and glove veins were out due to not enough radio channels) and it just had to have EDF’s. Other than that there was nothing to it, Ha Ha!How do you turn a square engine intake to a round exhaust, whilst flaps were straight forward spoilers are not especially as they’re just in front of said flaps and then creating the ‘Gull wing’. I started with the motors and had two 50mm 10 blade 4s EDF’s which supposedly produce 650g of thrust each (should be enough I thought) and created the nacelles by setting up formers on a square length of wood and using strips of Depron strips to form the shape making sure there was enough room to put the motors and a long thrust tube taking the FSA to circa 90%.The wings were next and were made from two layers of 6mm. The general shape cut, I removed the area for the flaps then cut a section out of the top half for the spoilers (needless to say I made two right wings here) but how do you hinge spoilers and then and how to move them when the you need the mechanism to slip (up and no down can be programmed in the radio)? Sorted in the end by filing out all the holes in a control horn so that when the arm moves up it pushes the surface up but the wire slides back in the slot. This might not have a lot to do with the actual flying but the aesthetics should look good. The bulk of the flying controls will be done by the elevons.The ‘Gull wing’ effect was created by lowering where the wing root meets the fuselage. Having put the various parts together in principal and all appearing to work as planned (swing wings work, flaps and spoilers work, rudders work and elevons work and an awful lot of air comes out the back (Is that merely wind or thrust)? I then had to start the covering. Heat shrink on Depron is without a doubt a pain (Me thinks a lesson from Norwegian Nick would be useful here as the photos look good but close up??). The covering pulls the foam out of shape. Subsequently the nearer I get to finishing this thing the more unforeseen problems there are to solve. Close but no cigar.The power train is as previously mentioned two HK 50mm 10 blade EDF’s, two good old Hobby King 40 amp ECS’ and the flight weight, close at 1190g as I would like it to go vertical. Four 5g servos in the wings the rest are HK900’s so I hope the swing wing survives. Even when I do finish it how am I going to launch it? Throwing it doesn’t appear to be an option so I might need to create a trolley dolly (oops, launch dolly it is Xmas).In the meantime I got the P51 for Xmas, 400mm wing span and an absolutely horrid radio but it does look fun and looks like it should go like a little pocket rocket, just as well it has a gyro. Thanks Catapult, that F14 is quite a build!
The last new model to feature this month is another one that’s been pretty much completed but not flown yet, and this one is Captain Slow’s: It’s a Multiples Mini-Solius chuck glider that I bought at least 3 years ago to play with at the Club’s chuck glider competition; in which it was useless achieving the lowest score. (Workman & tools maybe?!)It has a wing span of 655mm, is 490mm long and with its 1S 150Mah battery, weights 80g. The radio brick is 4 channel and came from an E-Flight UMX AS3Xtra that died after too many indoor collisions at Havant.This works with my – whisper it – Spectrum Tx and has stabilisation. I plan to use the Velcro method of tow release as the spare (rudder) servo doesn’t really have enough throw or grunt. It’s intended as a proof of concept before converting my Lidl glider to RC. Captain Slow is thinking about using a Hummer for an aero-tow launch. My first thoughts were that a larger tow plane with a bit more power would be needed but reading the size and weight of the Mini-Solius I think he’s right. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this little model will perform with radio fitted.
Video time now, this month with extra contributions from Captain Slow and Dougal Entendre. Please watch the video full-screen, it’s so much better with small models flying around.If the video won’t play for you please click HERE
This month’s ‘joke’ is a Christmas cracker special:
Why don’t aeroplanes ever study for exams?
Because they just like to wing it…