Raining Raining Raining Raining

Actually, I think it was snowing for a bit. Oh, well, it doesn’t matter anyway as I’m busy converting and fixing quadcopters for the next workshop in February.

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I’ve been working on the Honey Bee model and managed to get the frame weight down to 13g, so it should fly well. The interesting part is where the air from the two front motors blows through the wing detail. On one of the failed prints I cut out some bigger holes which improved its stability in the hover. I might do a bit more tweaking around the aerodynamic flow to improve it a bit more, but it’s probably OK as it is. Then I’ve got 6 flight controllers to fix and about a dozen new motors. It’s been a long weekend with the soldering iron while the rain hammers down on the skylight.

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First Flight of the Year

It was a very grey day, but hardly a breath of wind for once, so I finally made my first flight of 2018. Actually, I flew somebody else’s Ares Taylorcraft UMX plane first, having not flown since mid December. It appears I can still do it as I had four flights with the RS352 and another with the Taylorcraft. That is until the transmitter started making a really shrill beeping sound. We couldn’t figure out what it meant but thought it a good idea to land as it’s probably a battery warning. Whatever it was, it was really annoying me.

There were a lot of people around today. First, there was a new E-Flite Valiant flown by the guy who had the Fly Baby lookalike and Opterra wing. Another guy and his son were getting back into the swing of flying after a break as they had a new foam Spitfire waiting back at home. They were flying a Carbon Cub, but I think it was having some balance issues. On the first flight, a perfect take off from the ground was followed by a vertical climb, then left hand circles always losing height until it came back down to earth. It seemed to be tail heavy, so, after some fixing, the next flight was a lot better. I’m not sure if they’ll fly the Spitfire next though. We also had two guys, both with Mavics and a lot of FPV kit. One had a ZOHD Dart while the other was managing to fly a small T-Tail foam pusher around for what seemed like ages. Another Dart also turned up while I was leaving and I also saw another guy with his son walking across carrying a DJI Phantom drone. Apparently, there were a lot of them around right after Christmas. Anyway, the final drone flyer turned up with another Mavic, but couldn’t fly it because it had decided to do a firmware update. Personally, that puts me off ever owning one of those things.

 

As you can see, I’ve started re-covering the Autogyro. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of silver blue, so this one is going to be red up to the canopy line and blue on the upper sections. I’m not sure I like the red all that much, but it should look like my Extra when I put a white line along the join. I really just want to get it flying again at this point, but I’m currently trying to figure out where the best place to source the 0.8mm fibreglass head plate from. I also need to make another blade, so I’m not quite there yet. However, once all those bits on the table have found their way back into the fuselage, then I’ll feel like I’m almost finished.

Honey Bee

I can describe today’s weather very easily: bright and sunny, 20 mph wind, sub-zero wind chill. I’m staying inside as I’ve got loads of work to do anyway.

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One thing I’ve been up to this week is 3D printing the new design for a “Honey Bee” quadcopter for the drones for good master class that we’re running in February. Later on I need to test out all the kit to see what’s left after the last lot of kids destroyed everything. The first flight of the honey bee will be the only flying I get up to today.

 

The Fuselage is Finished

The last day of 2017 and the weather is wild. Wind and rain makes it a building day, but I’ve finally finished the repairs to my autogyro’s fuselage.

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It’s standing on its own two legs again, in amongst all the left over debris from the crash in October. All I need to do now is a bit of final sanding and then cover it. What I’m going to try and do, though, is to recover enough of the metallic silver blue film to cover the inside surface of the left fin. This blue film was left over from my first electric model, a Galaxy Models Aerojet from about 20 years ago. I used the last of the left over bits on the original covering, so I’m going to see if I can use some of the removed bits to cover the fin, using a bit of extra adhesive applied to the balsa first. This is so I don’t have to re-cover the whole tail section, as the right fin still has the blue on the inside and I’d rather not have to remove it, but two different colours would look decidedly odd. On the outside left and right fin, I’ll probably use something visible and different, like a bright red. The remainder of the fuselage will get the deep blue left-overs from my Extra 300. Anyway, that’s this afternoon’s job.

Here are some of the inter-repair photos on the tail end:

 

After the ply doublers had set, I sanded them back to expose some of the grain of the ply, as I really loved the look of the spruce grain longerons that I had just covered up. The ply grain doesn’t look as good as the spruce, but it will have to do for now.

As for the main part of the the fuselage, I finally relented and added some sensible 1/32 ply reinforcement to the inside where the two side pieces are grafted together:

 

There, that makes me feel like the fuselage isn’t going to snap in two. Now I’m going to use my covering iron on a low setting to try and peel away some of that remaining silver blue film to see if I can recycle it for the fin. Just in case you’re wondering why I haven’t removed the film on the fuselage bottom and sides before this point, I’ve always found that it acts as a useful protective covering while I’m doing any major work on an aircraft. Leaving the covering on can prevent a lot of dents and scratches that the exposed balsa can pick up on the workbench if you’re not careful, and, when you know the repair is probably going to take months, it’s a sensible precaution to take. As for accidentally dropping glue on the fuselage while you’re sticking the tail back together, nobody would ever be that stupid, but we all know that the glue won’t stick to the film anyway.

OK, so let’s see what scraps of film are still usable.

Wrapping Up My Presents on Christmas Day

Well, that’s the tail fixed and (almost) covered. The left fin has had two triangular fillets added for strength. The right hand half, which is still covered on the inside with film, I’ve decided to leave as it is. It already had a triangular fillet added on the top after the first crash. It’s a lot of effort to add a bit on the lower left, for no real benefit, so I’ve decided to leave it uneven. I fixed the top part of the right fin, so that will do. If you look at the left and right photos below, you’ll see what I mean:

 

Right, so now it just needs some covering on the vertical pieces, then I’m on to making a new rotor blade.

 

Merry Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Here’s hoping that there’ll be a lot more flying done in 2018 and that I finish the autogyro repairs over the Christmas break so I can fly it again early in the new year. Who knows, I might even buy myself that little biplane I’ve been looking at?

Misty Dragonfly

 

It started out misty this morning, then the Sun came out for a bit, but not for very long. After that the clouds filled the sky, it got really cold and rain took over for the afternoon. At least this way round I could finally get some flying in before Christmas. It’s been ages since I’ve flown and this is probably my last opportunity as next week is Christmas Eve.

When I arrived there were two youngsters with a DJI Mavic which had obviously never been flown before. They seemed fairly intelligent about all the rules and regulations, which is a nice change from the normal. Once they had warmed the batteries up to the point where the computer would let them fly, and also done the whole IMU thing, it flew really well. This is to be expected really as it’s all done by computer. I had my first couple of flights with the RS352 while they were messing about. Having tried both of my older LiPos, I’m now sure they’ve both had it and need recycling. Neither would have got me into the air, so the actual flights were with my two remaining LiPos. Over the course of the morning I managed four flights, so two full recharges. It turned into a good opportunity for trimming the aircraft as, for once, the air was almost completely still. It’s just a shame it was absolutely freezing.

Later in the morning, another guy arrived with a Mavic, but the rain was starting by this time. I could see the first spots on my glasses as I was having my final flight and he was trying to film over the top of me. My timing this morning was perfect, as the rain became very heavy on the way home.

If you look very closely at the first picture of the RS352, you might just see a small quadcopter sitting on the wing. This was the first outing of the new Dragonfly2 which we’re going to be using for the Drones4Good masterclass in February. It flew very well too.

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Dragonfly2 100mm quadcopter against the now darkening sky. Still taken from my runcam’s video footage of the first outdoor flight.

 

OK, so I’ve got snowed under with work again, but I’m determined to finish the rebuild of my autogyro and get it flying again early in the new year. Only the tail section, spare rotor and associated bits left to go now.

Rain, Cold, Wind, Snow

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Any outdoor flying you can get during the Winter is a bonus. Needless to say, the weather wasn’t cooperating again this week. It was bitterly cold with snow and sleet for large parts of the morning.

On the plus side, this week I’ve renewed my BMFA membership, got another Drone Masterclass to run in February and finished the front section of my Autogyro.

 

Now I’m working on the tail fins, which weren’t damaged much, only half split along the grain of the wood. Given the extensive damage elsewhere, I might as well do things properly and take the film off completely so I can glue them back together and add strengtheners.

I’m also in the process of designing a 3D printed dragonfly quadcopter for the drone workshop, then I have to check out all the kit from the last one we ran to see what’s left after the kids destroyed everything. It looks like the only flying I’m going to get to do today is indoors checking out the 3D printed micro quadcopters.

 

Constant, Light, Drizzle

I’m reminded of the bit in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where the lorry driver is driving through the rain and listing his 231 different classifications of precipitation [link]. Light misty rain that makes you wet but isn’t really rain at all is his least favourite and it’s also mine too. Today was one of those days when it was just soggy and those of us who wear glasses to fly can’t see because of the light mist that’s in the air.

It’s time to rebuild an autogyro.

 

The pictures above show the internal ply reinforcing plate for the undercarriage being glued in place. Once that’s dry (in about a few minutes now), then I can work on the top front section and most of the fuselage will be done. If you look at the pictures, you can see that I’ve used Gorilla Glue again by the amount that’s bubbled up through the cracks. Bearing in mind that the only glue was on the bottom floor of the fuselage, it has expanded by a prodigious amount. You can probably see that I’ve tried to wipe away the seepage as it’s drying, but not altogether successfully. It’s a real shame that the glue goes like this because it’s very good otherwise. You just can’t control how much escapes around the edges. Otherwise I would recommend it as its crack filling properties are excellent. Without being able to reliably limit the glue area to just where I want it on the joint, in other words hidden between the two bits of wood that I’m joining, I just can’t see how I can use it. I’m going to have to buy some of the Deluxe Materials wood glue as that’s excellent.

OK, so that’s all I’ve done so far this week, but I’ve got the rest of the afternoon and evening to make some progress on the autogyro. Also on my list of things to do is to pick up the flight simulator again, now that the opportunities for real flying are getting limited, build a dragonfly quadcopter and have a look at modifying a drone camera to capture an NDVI image to detect plant health.

Let’s hope we can get some real flying in next week before Christmas sneaks up on me.

Downtime

I haven’t been able to do anything flight related this week due to pressures of work again. There’s a presentation that I absolutely need to finish before Monday morning and it’s soaking up all my spare time. The weather outside was bright and sunny, although it turned cold yesterday, so it was close to freezing. I must be getting lazy, as the wind forecast was about 11mph and I would have had to cycle this morning, so I didn’t bother. The flying wing doesn’t go well in the wind and it would have been absolutely freezing. I spent the whole day working instead. I haven’t even touched the autogyro all week. It’s sitting there waiting for me to glue the top on, so the fuselage is almost done.

Oh, well, I’m looking forward to Thursday when some semblance of normality should return.