Month: November 2014

Misty, An Inverted Heli and Two Crashes

It’s the last day of November and it’s been quite an eventful morning’s flying. First there was the helicopter guy doing some inverted circuits:

A helicopter, the wrong way up

A helicopter, the wrong way up

The forecast for early morning mist and no wind duly materialised, giving a spooky feel to the conditions with shafts of sunlight trying to penetrate mist that was drifting slowly across the sky. You could hear full size aircraft overhead, but not see them, while visibility was good enough to fly models as long as you kept near the ground and didn’t go too far away. Once the Sun finally did break through, it was actually a very bright, calm day.

Very spooky conditions

Very spooky conditions

A 360 degree view

A 360 degree view

As for the flying, after an initial flight with the RS352 in the mist, the heli guy had packed up and left me on my own, but soon after that two other people turned up. The mist was mostly lifting by then and I ended up flying a HobbyZone Super Cub. This was on 27MHz, but, after a perfect launch, things started to go wrong and I found I couldn’t turn left. It seemed that the motor glitched just before I lost control, but that might not be significant. It ended up drifting across towards some trees, but whatever I tried to do, I couldn’t point the aircraft back towards myself. I managed to place it in the gap between the two trees, but even turning right, with no left I couldn’t stop the turn. Now it was close to the ground I cut the only partially working throttle and let it come in for a landing about 200 feet away on the other side of the stream, so judging whether it was level and how high it was above the ground was difficult, so the landing was a bit of a bounce and spin around. It didn’t appear to do any damage, though, but on further inspection the rudder was no longer working correctly. Holding full right rudder, it would occasionally kick to the left (with full right still held) and not centre properly. Then left would refuse to work, so it was more than a double centre point or sticking push rod. The receiver was a one piece unit, built into the fuselage, but the problems seemed to be caused when you pushed it or poked it, leading us to conclude that the receiver was faulty.

After that, I had three more flights with my RS352, before somebody else turned up with a Cessna and a SuperCub. I helped him with the range test of the SuperCub as he had been having problems with it. Thinking of my own range tests with the Futaba FAAST system, it looks like the Spectrum radio he was using didn’t have as much range as my one. We couldn’t actually get far enough away with my radio for it to stop, while the Spectrum didn’t quite get as far as the road.

Then somebody else arrived with a helicopter and a quadcopter. When he was flying the quad he almost took out me and my aircraft in the pits. Flying much too close to us and himself, he flew out about 20 metres, then back to his starting point, but made the classic mistake of building up too much forward speed. As he tried to stop, the aircraft has to change direction abruptly in order to brake, but ends up flying through its own prop wash and overshooting the stop point badly. It’s the classic problem with a quad of going to fast and under estimating the space needed to stop. I could see this coming from a long way off and was ready to either run or hit the deck, but the pilot managed to go up and back using power and more tilt angle, so he missed me and all the aircraft in the pits.

The second crash involved the Multiplex Fun Cub when it clipped the top of a tree. I thought it was going to get stuck in the top, but a sudden kick of power and it went right through, unfortunately getting shredded by the branches of the tree on the way. When we got to the wreckage, all the gear was intact, so at least the owner could fit it to a new airframe as the old fuselage had got cut into three pieces. It was a real shame that the Fun Cub ended like that, still, he had a good flight with his Solius just before that. And just to finish up, the Super Cub was flying around happily as I left, so that was a success.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Met Office Rainfall Radar from the datapoint site, valid for 10:15 on 23rd November 2014

Met Office Rainfall Radar from the datapoint site, valid for 10:15 on 23rd November 2014

As you can see from the radar image above, the forecasts were absolutely correct and it’s raining very heavily this morning. It’s also going to continue to rain for most of the day, so any outdoor flying is most definitely cancelled.

I’ll probably give the Q4 quadcopter a go around the house later, but I’m off to build an autogyro and continue working on the flight simulator.

Where Did All the Sunshine Go?

Everyone who went flying this morning thought it was going to be a bright, sunny, crisp Autumn morning, then we got to the flying field and it was overcast and grey. We’re not sure what happened, but the low cloud and overcast conditions were there for the whole morning.

Anyway, there were a lot of aircraft. Three Cessnas, a Multiplex Cub, a Cularis that had its maiden flight, a Fat Shark Predator FPV setup in what looked like an Easy Star II, my own RS352 and apparently the Russian helicopter guy was down earlier. Two of the Cessnas were identical, but different scales with the registration N9258. The larger of the two also had its maiden flight, which looked like it went rather well. I’m not sure that the two red Cessnas were both Art-Tech versions of the Cessna 182?

My own flying consisted mainly of snap roll practice and prop hanging, which I can almost do reliably now. My problem is actually translating out of the prop hang or using too much power and climbing. I also practised inside and outside loops, which left me wondering why pushing down from inverted always resulted in a right roll which needed to be corrected? There must be some way of trimming this out, but a loop from level is fine, while a loop from inverted results in screwing out to the right. It might be as simple as not having the aircraft level on entry due to the different orientation and not being used to judging it from that viewpoint. The RS352 is very sensitive to small deviations from level on inside loop entry anyway. Also, I had the CG slightly to the rear for the snap rolls as there was comparatively little wind today. The weather has been so bad for so long that I’ve got used to flying with a nose heavy balance.

Finally, I think next week I’m going to bring the AcroStik out of retirement, so I’m going to have a look at the 2200 batteries which I haven’t used for some time.

… and the flight simulator is nearly working again!

 

9th November

After yesterday’s torrential rain, the weather has really improved today. I managed three flights with the RS352 and another with somebody else’s ParkZone Radian. The Radian actually flew twice as there was a problem with what sounded like the motor rubbing on something at full throttle. Despite cutting the power quite early into the first flight, it just did not want to come down. That, coupled with the very weak rudder response made for a very slow, flat, glide back down to earth. We never did find the cause of the problem, despite dismantling the rather interesting ParkZone spinner arrangement. Back in the air again, and the problem re-occurred, so the answer was to avoid full throttle. I also too the opportunity to increase the rudder throw while we were on the ground, so the second flight had much more harmonised controls. This made it very easy to just cruise around the sky using no energy most of the time and occasional bursts of 50% power to get back up. There is a tendency to go very nose up with this aircraft on high throttle, so the climb has to be managed. It’s trimmed to fly perfectly as a pure glider, which is what it does amazingly well.

As for the RS352, I’ve fixed the problem with the prop spinning off centre, which was caused by the plastic prop insert having worn down and no longer being central as it was slightly too big for the adapter. The thread on the prop adapter must have worn the plastic insert to a slightly bigger hole size over the last two years of flying, so it pays to perform some routine maintenance checks occasionally.

Today really was a sunny, clam day, so I took the opportunity to re-trim the RS352 which has been gradually getting further and further out of a neutral time because of all the rough weather I’ve been flying it in recently. After that, it was back to prop hanging, spins, stall turns, cuban eights, rolls and snap rolls as normal.

A lot of other people also turned up today, in particular the guy with the foam board Mustang, F22 and HobbyZone Easy Star II clone. I’ve lost track of all the Easy Star variants, but this one had the smaller solid foam and clear plastic canopy, as it fell off during one of the flights and I had to retrieve it. Later in the morning it was a pleasant surprise to see another chap turn up with his two sons, as the last time I saw them I was trying to help them retrieve a ParkZone Delta Ray from a tree. This time they had a ParkZone Soprt Cub which was flying very well, if a little too fast as it sounded like something was fluttering. When I left they were dismantling the flaps as these had apparently been stuck fast since the last flight. Just to round things off, I finally met the guy I just missed last time with two Cessna like aircraft. The smaller one could have been an FMS Cessna 182, which he didn’t enjoy flying, calling it “nasty” and “twitchy”. It looked OK in the air though, but the take-offs from the ground were a bit hairy. The other aircraft was a bit bigger and might have been a HobbyZone Cessna 182, but I’m not really sure. That one flew for around 20 minutes, which was impressive. Finally, the guy with three pure gliders arrived and set up his bungee, which isn’t something you see much any more I must remember to ask him whether they are own designs as the three all seem to be variations on a theme. Unfortunately, he broke the tail off of the yellow one, but it is repairable. Just to round things off, there was also somebody with a DJI Phantom Quadcopter a long way off who looked like he was trying to fly it into a tree at the edge of the field. I never got to speak to him as he didn’t come over to say hello.

With the post-flight tasks now complete I can start thinking about the RCM&E Atom AutoGyro project again:

IMG_20141109_164359

Windy with Pulses of Rain

The forecast of strong wind pushing through pulses of heavy rain has materialised this morning, so I’m staying indoors. In short, it’s grim out there, dark with the rain beating down on the roof as I’m typing. Today is going to be a building day as I’ve done precious little construction in the past few months. I’ve cut out a kit of parts for my Atom, although I’m still missing the spruce booms and mast, blades and rotor head.

IMG_20141102_101510

I’m starting to think about building my own rotor head and have drawn up some plans, so I’ll have to see how that works out. After looking at some commercial units there seem to be two basic designs, which don’t look too difficult to replicate.