Post Autogyro

The weather wasn’t very good this week, so I didn’t get to do any flying. The forecast was for heavy localised showers and, right on half past twelve, it rained. A lot. I might have got wet, or I might have got lucky, but, either way, it was just as windy as last week. If the weather had been calm, then I would definitely have had another go with the autogyro, but there didn’t seem much point with the weather like this.

I’ve been looking into the problems with the autogyro and come to a number of conclusions. Firstly, the video I captured was rubbish and didn’t tell me anything. If I try that again, then I’ll have to get the camera higher up. The next thing is that I don’t think I got the rotors up to flying speed as everything I’ve read says that there is a characteristic “whirring” when this happens. It’s supposed to take off at walking pace, which I achieved, but I think there might be something wrong with the rotor head. I went round all the factory fitted bolts and discovered that some of them were quite loose, which was causing a lot of play in the head. In addition to this, I’ve been reading the “Cruiser” autogyro build article from the November 2015 RCM&E, which is basically the same design as the earlier Atom. There is also the larger “Panther” autogyro article from the Model Flying Workshop Special, published in 2015, which contains all the original articles which were serialised in RCM&E from March 2013. These all contain basic instructions on the design of the head and how to test fly an autogyro. However, while they advocate short hops to ascertain the trim, I’ve seen a video on YouTube where an Atom was hand launched in almost gale force wind. This is something I’d never seen before, but you can apparently hand launch an autogyro very easily: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdrfQxKu1Ik

This video is also interesting, as it suggests that the left wheel sticking to the ground is normal and that you can power on past it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OVpcZOvsOs

If the camera I was using had worked, then this is a carbon copy of my experience last week, except that I wasn’t brave enough to get it into the air. After some playing around on the ground, my feeling is that the left wheel coming up last is due to the anti-clockwise direction of the main rotor.

This is the other hand launch video of an Atom that I found: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bVkgLwmBAc  I’m just not sure I’m that brave.

Anyway, I’ve checked the balance by measuring the hang angle using some rulers and a bit of trigonometry. By my calculations it’s 18.5 degrees, which is spot on. I’ve also modified the 0.8mm shims on the underside of the rotor mounts as they were getting caught every time the blades got tangled up last week. I’ve now lengthened them and covered over them, but I suspect that this might be where my problems lie. When I spin up the rotors on the ground, I just don’t feel like I’m getting much movement of the air. Now, the HK head has a known problem in that it’s constructed upside down and shipped in a state where the rotors would give no lift (souce: modelflying.co.uk Atom build thread). I took it apart as directed, fitted the fibreglass triangle to replace the plastic one which breaks and rebuilt it the other way up. I’ve added the shims as instructed, which put the blades at a more negative alpha and aid in spinning up the rotors. I’m not convinced that this is right, though, so I’m going to do some more investigating before I try and fly again.

That’s it for this week, but work is taking over again, so I’m not sure how much I’m going to be able to do on the autogyro. I’ve got this close to getting it in the air though, so I’m not going to give up now.

First Autogyro

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I was determined to test fly the Atom autogyro this weekend and I finally managed to get everything together. I don’t know whether this is the first autogyro that’s been flown at this site, but in all the years I’ve been flying here, I’ve never seen another one. I also don’t know whether this counts as a flight, because the left wheel never actually left the ground, but this was my first attempt.

My first flight of the morning was with somebody else’s UMX Champ. Weighing only about 35 grams, this was probably a stupid idea in the steadily increasing wind, but I’ve flown it perfectly well in windy conditions before. This time, though, a gust flipped it upside down and I crashed into the ground. I was able to partially rescue it, so there wasn’t much impact and it was undamaged.

Then I put the rotors onto the autogyro and had run out of excuses for not flying it. Although, it was a close call as the wind was way above the recommended “light winds” stated in the magazine article for the first test flight (RCM&E Autumn 2015 Special). I was determined to give it a go and try running it along the ground and “hopping” when the rotors began to lift. The rational behind this is to trim the head angle, but I didn’t have much luck. I had the foresight to take a GoPro Hero 4 Session camera with me and record the flights so I could watch them back later, but I had it in the wrong mode for the first set of flights and only ended up taking stills. I really don’t like that camera, but I had lent my preferred RunCam to somebody on Thursday.

As far as the test “hops” went, the rotor would spin up fairly easily in the wind, but I’m not convinced I was getting up to full flying speed before running out of runway (for “runway”, read “patchy bit of bumpy grass”). I wasn’t able to steer effectively with the rudder and it seemed to be yawing to the right. When it did start to lift off, the left wheel seemed stuck to the ground and it wanted to roll over onto its left side. I thought this might be a head trim angle problem, so I progressively added right aileron trim, up to the point where I had 15 clicks right trim and there seemed to be no difference, even when holding right aileron while it ran along the grass. The airframe is impressively resilient though. I had it tip over on its left side numerous times and tangled up the rotor blades, but it still went home in one piece. I think that, in all the years I’ve been flying, maybe I’ve learned how to crash well?

After resting the autogyro for a bit, we then had another go with the Champ. This time it went really well, much more like I would expect, so either the wind had eased off a bit, or it was just less turbulent than before? However, while I was flying the Champ, the Atom got blown over onto its side twice, tangling up the three rotor blades again. Luckily, there was no damage, but, with its three rotors now attached, the wind was causing them to spin very fast, resulting in it tipping over. I would have said that it was at flight speed at one point, they were spinning that quickly in the wind. Seeing this happening, I brought the Champ down for an almost perfect landing and rushed over to the Atom with the transmitter still in my hand to assist the owner of the Champ who was trying to figure out how to stop the blades. This confused him completely as he missed my landing and thought his aircraft was still in the sky. Anyway, still no damage to the Atom or Champ. The RS352 tried to take off on its own as well, but it’s fairly indestructible. I’m starting to think that maybe this wasn’t the best day to test fly an autogyro?

At this point a couple of guys arrived with a chair and a drone and proceeded to sit right where I had been doing the Atom test hops before. I’m not sure where they were from, but their English wasn’t great. There was also another drone flying right up the far end of the field, ignoring us completely. This was an East European couple and their son, as the lady did come over to us later on to borrow a screwdriver to change the battery in her son’s mini drone.

OK, so having had a think about the autogyro, and with the wind lessening a bit, I had another go. This time, though, I managed to get the camera in the right mode, so I’m hoping there should be some video there for me to review later. This went the same as before, trying various directions into wind and trying to get forward speed and rotor speed for flight. Along the ground it was yawing to the right if the rotors were spinning, but tracking more straight if the head didn’t spin. The ground handling wasn’t good enough to to keep it in a straight line along the runway I was now using, which was almost directly into wind, but narrow and with stubby grass either side. I kept ending up in the grass to the right. Moving to another area didn’t really help as the aircraft would never pull its left wheel off the ground. In the end I gave up, which was very disappointing. I would have taken any sort of air under the wheels, even millimetres. So, to review, rotor spinning means yawing right on the ground and left wheel won’t unstick despite extreme right tilt and good rotor speed. I need to go away and do some research for next time.

After that I had 3 flights with the RS352, which loved the conditions on its new batteries. I had one of the older batteries (3S 1100mAh, 18 months old) in the Autogyro, which showed 50% full when analysed after the test flights. The other one I flew in the RS352, but it just didn’t have the punch of the newer cells. As I had the GoPro set up anyway, I decided to point it at a patch of sky and film myself flying the RS352. I don’t know what footage I got yet, but maybe I got something good with the wide angle lens?

While I was flying the RS352, we had another person arrive with a drone who I’ve never see before. She also wasn’t like all the other drone flyers as she knew what an autogyro was, even if she didn’t know the English word for one. My guess is that she was East European from her accent, with bright red hair and a mini drone which she had constructed from bits herself. It was a bit bigger than a 100 size (but not by much) and had tiny brushless motors and FPV. Unfortunately, she had forgotten to charge the goggles, so couldn’t fly with FPV and didn’t feel confident enough to fly with line of sight because of the orientation. She apparently files bigger drones too, but she obviously knows what she was talking about as we were discussing why neither of us would do some of the stupid things the other guys were now doing with their DJI Phantom. After that a husband and wife also turned up with a Mavic, but I had to go at this point.

That was quite an eventful day of flying, so now I’ve got to go away and do my homework on autogyros.

Funny Old Weather

There was a forecast of sunshine and 8mph winds this morning, but it seemed more like a 15mph wind sneaked in when nobody was looking. It was an odd sort of day where, one minute the Sun is burning you through the back of your shirt, then great big black clouds came over looking threatening. It never actually rained, but the occasionally overcast conditions and breeze made for a cool respite from the relentless heat.

The first flight I had this morning was with a Radian electric glider, which the owner also flew himself on a couple of occasions during that one flight. There were already two people there when I arrived, one flying an Inspire while the other was watching the FPV from under a cover. There was also another guy with what looked like a Mavic drone flying from about 20 metres away, not wanting to be friends with us. Later in the day we also had one of those moments when you say, “if we’re all here, who’s that flying a drone above us?”, then realised that there was a guy standing at the very edge of the field with a transmitter. In addition to the two anti-socials, we also had two regulars with a Nieuport biplane, Ripmax Transition VTOL and a small quadcopter.

In addition to the Radian and 5 flights with my RS352, I also tried out some FPV with my 3D printed micro quadcopter. This was a bit of a last minute addition to the kit this morning, as I just threw all the bits into my bag as I was leaving, but it was certainly worth it. I’m not a big fan of FPV, but it was quite fun to fly the 45g quadcopter in circles around where we were standing. Looking back at myself through the eyes of the aircraft nearly made me fall over, but you soon get the hang of it. Judging speed, distance and height is very difficult because of the camera’s field of view. You always look like you’re doing about Mach one over the grass because you’ve suddenly been shrunk down to the size of a bird. I still think doing slow, lazy aerobatics with the RS352 is a lot more fun, but I’ll give the quadcopter another go in its natural habitat – indoors around the furniture.

All in all, it was quite a good flying session this morning. I would have been annoyed at not being able to get the autogyro ready to test fly if it hadn’t been for the wind. The forecast was perfect for a test flight, then a rather hectic week at work took its toll and I couldn’t get the aircraft ready in time, then the conditions turned out to be rather less than perfect. Having spent so long building it, there’s no point in rushing into a test flight in the wrong weather conditions. During the week, I discovered that it’s actually a lot harder to get the blades to attach to the head than I realised. I’m also going to have to do some further reading about the various “shims” people have added to get the blades at the right alpha to generate lift. Then I need almost dead calm conditions to do some runs up and down the runway. Anyway, I’m off to do some reading about autogyros and I might even try and write a simulator to practise flying one – that’s something I’ve never seen. Here’s to next week’s weather and an easy week at work.

Only Me

I thought the weather forecast was for heavy rain to clear early on, leaving a dry day with 10mph winds. When I looked out of the window this morning, the anemometer on the house over the back was spinning like a crazy thing. It was just as windy as last week and bright and sunny with it. Obviously the gale force wind had blown all the clouds away, leaving a clear blue sky and 25 degree sunshine. This is precisely my least favourite type of weather, because it looks like a nice day to go flying, but you know you shouldn’t.

I went flying anyway, working on the basis that the wind would decrease throughout the morning. It didn’t, so all of the four flights that I had with the RS352 were a bit hairy. When I tried any sort of aerobatics containing a vertical manoeuvre, the aircraft got blown about 10 metres towards me. In the end I decided to try and solve the problem I’ve always had with this aircraft, where outside loops go completely screwy. I know, trimming an aircraft in 20mph winds isn’t recommended, but I tried a couple of clicks of left rudder to see if it helped straighten the loops. From inverted, it makes no difference, but from the right way up, I think it does help leave the nose pointing in the entry direction on exit. I’ll have to work on this when there’s no wind, but I noticed that my current trim has the ailerons almost exactly level with a small amount of right rudder. It does seem to have a much more central trim than before, which might be due to the motor change a while back. Swapping out all the servos at Christmas must have had an effect too, but you wouldn’t expect the control surfaces to be in a different position, just the servos in a different position to achieve the same control deflection. Whatever the reason, I now seem to have a more balanced trim than before. So, why does it roll horribly on the initial quarter of an outside loop? I need to investigate this a bit more.

Anyway, I had an interesting conversation with the man who collects the dustbins, as it turns out that he used to fly here many years ago too. I thought I was going to be on my own for the whole morning as nobody else was stupid enough to fly in the windy conditions. Then, right at the end, a guy with a camera came over and sat on the bench. It was only after talking to him for a while that I realised the rucksack he was carrying was the DJI Mavic one. Sure enough, he had a Mavic in it, but initially didn’t fancy flying it in the wind. I had to leave before seeing it fly, but I’m fairly sure he got it into the air, so it wasn’t only me flying this week.

On a drone related note, I also got my 3D printed micro FPV drone to fly during the week. I managed to get the FPV power lead soldered on and gave it a go in the house. This is using the F3 EVO Brushed controller and my Futaba transmitter, so it’s much more professional kit than the HubSan’s we’ve been flying. Even so, it was very hard to achieve a stable hover, although I could fly it up and down the hallway and through the doorways quite easily. More practice is needed I think.

Finally, the ATOM Autogyro is almost flight ready. All it needs is a final control check, some bolts for the blades, keepers tightened up on the head and a way of holding the canopy in place. I’m thinking tape for the canopy and everything else is just tightening things up. I had wondered whether this week would be a good week for a test flight, but I’m glad I rejected that idea. What I need now are clam conditions so I can run it up and down the runway to get the head sorted out before committing to the air for the first time.

Unsettled Weather

At 8am this morning the wind was already blowing the trees around and making the neighbour’s anemometer go crazy. I would have been on the bike this week, so I decided to stay indoors instead. I’m a bit annoyed with myself for not going flying, but I wouldn’t have got much actual flying in because of the weather.

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Instead of flying, I thought I should finally have a look at the 3D printed “Whoop” frame that I’ve had on the bench for the last few months. As always, I underestimated how hard it is to get all the electronics and wiring into such a small space. In the end I cut up another failed 3D print and glued the extra bits onto this one to make a base underneath. This will allow me to fix the flight controller with double sided foam tape and also attach the battery underneath. The FPV camera can go on top. The sellotape in the picture shows where I’ve glued the new bottom piece in place. The PLA material used in the 3D print can be a bit temperamental with cyano, so I’ve left the tape in place for now. With a bit of luck I’ll get it all working later and be able to fly it around the house.

Also, last night I made some final changes to the rudder control rod on the ATOM Autogyro and glued it in position. This now means that all the control surfaces work and I just need to do the final tweaking to make it flight ready. Could it really be that I’ve finally finished it? I’ve only taken about 2 years. My thoughts now are whether I can build an autogyro flight simulator as I’ve never seen one? It looks like I might just have to test fly it the old fashioned way.

Too Darn Hot

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The picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s at least 30 degrees in the shade and probably more like 40 out in the open. I managed to beat the weather, though, and got six flights of the RS352 this morning and one flight with somebody else’s UMX Carbon Cub.

There was me, the UMX Carbon Cub and a guy with his son who had a slightly off trim high wing pylon racing type. I’d seen this model fly a few weeks ago and it went really well then, but has since had a bit of a coming together with the ground. He said it was rolling left quite badly and it did look as though the tail was now out of line. I don’t know whether this is a commercial model or an own design, but it was sorted out and flying again quite quickly. I had my first flight with the Carbon Cub, then flew the RS352 for the rest of the morning trying to get it trimmed out again as this was one of the very rare days with no wind. I say no wind, but when a bit of a breeze did blow up it was very welcome. I nearly crashed the RS352 into the ground at one point which was down to pilot error. I think the heat must have been getting to me as I got the harmonisation between the rudder and aileron wrong and nearly put it into the ground. At low level I rolled into knife edge, messed up the coordination with the rudder input, decided to abort and only just about levelled off and pulled away from the ground. Don’t do that again…

We also had the guy with the FPV wing from a few weeks ago, but this time he was flying a Yuneec hexcopter with RealSense collision avoidance.

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He demonstrated the “follow me” and collision avoidance functions, plus the “wand” controller which allows you to fly it without the radio transmitter. We had an interesting discussion about mapping with drones, point cloud cameras and time of flight Lidars, but I still say that flying a little Carbon Cub is a lot more fun than a computerised drone.

After they left we had a family turn up with a high wing foam cub (it might have been the Multiplex one) and another UMX Carbon Cub. He proceeded to teach his young daughter how to fly the UMX Cub, which she did really well. Then he had a flight with the bigger one and ended up losing one of the wheels while in the air. I was flying at the time, so could only look around quickly and estimate roughly where the aircraft was when he cried out, “my wheel’s just come off”. I was landing then anyway and went over to the spot with his wife and kids while he was still in the air. I got the position just about right, but his wife found the wheel before me as it was lying on the edge of the path.

That was two and a half hours in an oven, so at this point I was glad to be going home. I know I still haven’t finished the autogyro, but it’s been too darn hot this week. All I need to do is to epoxy the rudder link stops, velcro the battery, find some bolts for the rotors, check the controls and do a hang test for balance. It really should fly soon.

Very Hot, Very Humid and Really Very Windy

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The weather’s going crazy at the moment. On Tuesday we had torrential rain and gale force winds that brought all the trees down and caused chaos on the roads. Yesterday and today, we’ve had at least 30mph winds along with extremely hot sunshine. This is probably because the wind is blowing all the clouds across the sky at a rate of knots. The picture above shows a sweeping curve cut into the cloud by an A380 heading off on its holidays. In real life, this looked absolutely stunning with the sun, the plane cutting an arc in the cloud and the vapour filling in slightly behind the plane. Of course, by the time my Android phone had booted up, the plane had gone and the wind had shifted everything and filled in most of the trail.

Anyway, there didn’t seem to be much point in trying to fly today, unless you had a big glider to play with. That would have been a lot of fun, but I picked up two new tasks for work this week, which prevented me from finishing the closed loop rudder links on the Autogyro. Now I’m thinking that I’ve got some extra time and I can use that to finish the building. I haven’t actually made a closed loop rudder like this before, so I’ve been reading some articles on how to do it. It all looks fairly simple, though, so I should have it working soon.

Wow, It’s Hot

It’s been really hot this week and part of me is relieved that there’s a running race this weekend and all the roads are closed, so I can’t go flying. It would have been 40 Celsius at least in the sun, which causes big problems with battery charging and overheating. In this sort of weather I usually bring a sun shade to keep the batteries and electronics cool and just overheat myself.

Anyway, as I said last week, this gives me the opportunity to finally finish building the autogyro. I had a bit of a setback last night, though, as I broke the rudder link rod. If you look at the main picture above, it’s the metal rod linking the two rudder horns horizontally, connecting to the bell crank in the middle. You can see that it’s now got an adjustment bend on the right hand half, which wasn’t there before. The reason for this is that I broke the rod last night when I was trying to adjust the rudders to be central. Originally, I made the rod the perfect size, just as in the instructions. Except that it wasn’t quite perfect and I didn’t like how the rudders weren’t aligned straight, so I tried to put a tiny adjustment kink in the rod and snapped it. To be fair, I should have made it with an adjustment z bend in the first place, but figured that I could do it the hard way and make it a perfect fit. To be fair, it was only about 0.5mm out and I could easily have lived with the rudders both pointing slightly outwards, but I had to tinker with it. Then I made another stupid mistake and put both 90 degree bends for the left and right control horns into the rod before I pushed it through the bell crank collet in the middle. Of course, the hole in the brass collet is only just enough for the rod, so it’s impossible to push a 90 degree bend through the hole. What I did was to gently radius the 90 degree bend to a curve and force it through the collet hole. Then I tightened up the radius back to 90 degrees, taking care not to snap the rod for a second time. The left hand bend where the rod goes into the horn is now more rounded than a square 90 degrees, but it works. By the way, if you’re wondering why I put a loop into the rod for the adjustment rather than a tight triangle bend, I was worried about snapping the rod again, so I just made a nice easy looped bend. I knew I was only going to need 1 or 2 mm of adjustment, so this works fine.

After all that I now need to connect up the closed loop rudder and then all the control surfaces will finally work. I guess that will mean that it’s flyable, assuming the balance is right?

Variety in Flight

It was a perfect sunny morning this week and looking around at the models on display it made me realise how much variety was being flown. Firstly, I got to do the first ever flight of somebody else’s FlyZone Fokker Dr1 (Baron von Richthofen version in red). It looks absolutely amazing, but, like all biplanes, triplanes and quadriplanes, it wants to go straight up vertically with even a small amount of power because of the lifting area. You just have to control the throttle and pitch to keep it flying forwards. It’s also a bit weird because it’s shaped like a box kite and has a high centre of gravity. Turning can be a bit slow with the rudder only control, then you have to be aware of the spiral dive. It’s a very draggy airframe, so it doesn’t glide very well with the power off and takes its time to build up speed again when you put the power back on, so smooth and gentle flying is recommended. I got two flights with it this morning, but it does have a rather strange arming sequence which we took a while to get right. You have to power on the tx, then the rx. Next, go to 100% throttle until the prop buzzes, then go to zero throttle and the prop buzzes again. It’s now armed and you can fly. I think our problem was with the throttle trim being too far down and it not being high enough for the computer to detect the 100% throttle threshold. This was cured with some throttle up trim.

During the rest of the morning we also had the Ripmax VTOL Transition from the other week and also the Opterra. So that’s a Triplane, VTOL tilt rotor and a big flying wing. How’s that for variety? In addition to this, we also had a guy with a micro quad and a Parrot Bebop quad, another generic quadcopter, which kept flying downwind, and a rather errant DJI Mavic, which we eventually determined was being flown by a teenage girl with her family. We could see it in the sky, but it took us a very long time to identify where the pilot was as they didn’t want to come over and say hello.

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As for me, I also got 5 flights with my RS352 now that I’ve fixed the issue with the prop coming off. I bought another spinner nut, which I screwed up nice and tight, plus I needed the original red spinner cone as a spacer. You can see most of this in the picture above.

The strange thing is that, with no wind and perfect conditions, the first flight had the trim almost perfect. Then I launched on flight two with the second of my identical 1300mAh packs and it was pitching down very noticeably. I landed after a couple of circuits and double checked the battery position, moving it back about 5mm, but the nose down pitching moment was still there. I ended up adding 3 clicks of up elevator to correct it. Other than that, the aircraft was flying really well. The next two flights were with different packs (1100mAh), then, for the final flight, I was back to the same pack as flight 1. Logically, this should have been pitching up and I think it was slightly, but not enough to be an issue (if flight 1 flew level, flight 2 pitched down, then I added up trim, going back to the flight 1 pack should pitch up). I’m going to weigh all my packs and see whether I can get to the bottom of this trim difference as it’s got me stumped at the moment.

That’s all there was this week, except to say that the AutoGyro is nearly ready. I spent my free time during the week fixing the prop nut on the RS352, which is why I didn’t do any more. Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday and there’s no flying next week due to the roads being closed for a running event, so I should be able to get some building time in.

Lastly, the weather is unbelievable. It’s been 30 degrees and sunny all week, yesterday it was blowing a gale, this morning was perfect and now I’m sitting here writing this with heavy rain drumming on the roof. The promised storm isn’t far away now, which makes flying on the Bank Holiday out of the question. I got lucky this morning, but any drop in temperature is welcome.

Propeller Cubed

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Look, no propeller!

Everything seemed to be coming in threes this week. On my first launch with the RS352, the propeller came off as I was about to throw it. I re-fitted it and went again, only for it to come off 20 seconds into the flight. The propeller was recovered and fixed on the aircraft again, resulting in a successful 8 minute flight on the third attempt. After that, the next flight was uneventful, then, on flight 3 on my third battery pack, I lost the prop about a minute into the flight. By this point I was getting quite good at landing with no prop, which is not the same as a normal landing with the motor off and the prop windmilling. As soon as the prop came off, I immediately powered down and circled around the point in the sky where the prop was slowly falling to earth so that I could see where it landed and recover it easily. Without a prop the RS352 actually glides very well, so you can stay in the sky a lot longer than you would expect. So, with both prop and aircraft safely recovered, I decided to cut my losses at this point and not fly again.

Prior to all this excitement, I also got to fly a Silverlit V-Jet Mini. This is a very strange “toy” aircraft in that there is no pitch control. The left stick only has throttle, but the right is split into lower and upper sections (elevator axis). In the lower position, the wings are vertical and the aircraft can take off from the ground vertically. Move the elevator stick forward to the upper position and the wings move into a more horizontal position for forward flight. Left and right control in either the upper or lower position manoeuvres by changing the power to the motors. We had a play with this for a while, and it was quite windy, but it was virtually impossible to control. The first thing to realise is that there is no pitch control, so you have to use the throttle to control the rate of climb. The temptation is to move the elevator, but there isn’t one and that just moves the wings to the other position. Left and right took a lot of effort to start it turning, followed by an overshoot because then you couldn’t stop the turn. It was very windy, though, and this type of aircraft might work a lot better in dead calm conditions because of how the wing is always at a high alpha position, even when set horizontal. It still looked to have about a 30 degree incidence when horizontal. It was fun learning how to fly it, so maybe we should have another go in the Summer?

Returning to the number three, I also launched an FPV flying wing three times today. The owner was having problems getting it to fly, but launching is difficult because of the rear facing motor. All I could suggest was holding the leading edge and doing a partial discus style launch. The motor was powerful enough that it just needed a shove into the sky, so my first launch was really quite good. Unfortunately, it crashed because the pilot had no elevator control. He made some changes, we tried again and the result was the same. On the third attempt it flew for longer, but still no authority on the elevator and this time it did more damage. The motor mount broke and he only had cyano to fix it with, which didn’t want to set.

We had an interesting discussion about FrSky radios while trying to sort out the FPV wing as he was using the new Horus transmitter. His opinion is that the European firmware in all the FrSky radios (Taranis and Horus) has a reduced range compared to the US firmware and has other bugs in the telemetry and radio link, not forgetting the lack of support for the full range of receivers. So, he was using a brand new top of the range FrSky Horus, but with an 800 MHz transmitter module so he didn’t have to use the rubbish tx module in the Horus.

In addition to all these aircraft, we also had somebody with a “Faze” electric glider. At least I think that’s what it was called. It flew really well in the now deteriorating conditions. Look at the photo below and take a close look at the wheels. That’s the wind again.

 

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We also had a Horizon Hobby mini helicopter (~50g) which flew insanely well in the conditions, a Multiplex Twinstar and a Blade 350QX drone. The drone’s return to home is interesting as it finds its way back a lot faster and with more authority than the DJI ones which I’ve always found are very hesitant to set back down on the ground. Talking of DJI, we also had a youngster with a Mavic, but he didn’t want to talk to us.

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I also had another stroke of luck this week and I’ve found the missing motor from when I was making the micro drones for the workshop back in March. I was using my hand drill to open out the holes in some brass collets to hold the wheels on my autogyro and there it was stuck to the drill body. At least now I know that I’m not going mad and it didn’t just disappear into thin air. I must have put the motor down close to the drill and the two got stuck together. Anyway, as you might have guessed, I’ve actually made some progress with the Autogyro this week. The blade balancing is done, the wheels are on and I just need to sort out the controls. With the blade balancing, I couldn’t manage to bolt two blades together as the film is far too slippery. Eventually, I hit on the idea of using the double sided sticky foam pads from the quadcopters to make the blades stick together so that I can balance them.

That’s it for this week, I’ve got to figure out how to make an autogyro work.