Month: May 2015

Weather Not Conducive to Flying

In other words it’s raining and blowing a gale again. No flying this week, so it’s a building day.

I’m balancing blades for the ATOM and fixing the motor mount in place.


Back in the Air Again

After not flying anything for about a month, I finally got back in the air with the RS352 again.I really should have balanced the LiPos the night before though, as I only got in three flights, not the usual four, due to taking longer than normal to charge. It was a good morning’s flying though, and very busy with lots of people and different aircraft. No quadcopters though, which defies the recent trend.

When I got there this morning, there was a guy already there flying a small foam aircraft that looked like an Extra. I’m not sure what this was exactly, but it was very quick and agile in what were really gusty conditions. He was practising his prop hangs, but that’s really difficult to achieve with such a small model in those conditions. Loops, flicks and spins looked really goo though.

Then we had the Xeno flying wing and another Multiplex glider (Solius?), plus a brand new EFlite Whipit hand launch which I got to fly. It’s an interesting little handlaunch glider of the UMX ultra micro size, but it was too windy for it to really show what it can do. I ended up flying with the elevator pushed forwards trying to make it penetrate the wind. It should be really good in clam conditions though.

Next up, two of the regulars arrived with an entire car full of aircraft including a Fun Cub, Parkzone Radian Glider, Champ, Hobbyzone UMX Beast Biplane and an Ezee Bee. This is the one which really interested me as I flew a foam version once and couldn’t get it down for about an hour! There is a plan of something called a “Lazy Bee” here which is a variant on the “Bee” range:

I tried to get some flying pictures, but it’s next to impossible with a camera phone. I just loved the fact that it had a cabin with glass windows that you could see right through when it was in the air:

The Easy Bee in flight

The Easy Bee in flight

The one and only flight didn’t go according to plan though, as it looks like it stripped the gears on the motor and landed with no thrust despite still making high pitched whining noises. There was no other damage though.

The next flight was with the Beast, which I hand launched. Unfortunately, the power died at the exact moment it left my hand, but I had given it a fairly significant push, so it came to rest in the grass ahead of us without any damage. The second flight with a fully charged LiPo wasn’t so good, with the aircraft continuing to turn left from launch despite full right being applied. This ended up in the grass again, but with some damage to the inter-wing struts and ailerons. The thing I don’t like about this aircraft is that the control surfaces are very difficult to centre and the control rods get bent very easily in transit, resulting in an aircraft which is always out of trim every time you fly it.

Anyway, that’s enough for this week, I still need to finish off my ATOM Autogyro blades, but I’m getting ever closer to something that might actually fly.



I was on the bike again this week and I was determined to go flying after not going last week.

The flying wing is in the rucksack.

The flying wing is in the rucksack.

I shouldn’t have bothered though, as I never got the flying wing out of the bag to assemble it. By the time I got there it was really windy with a very cold north westerly blowing despite the sunny conditions. I gave it until 10:30 and nobody else turned up, so I just went home.

The one unusual thing to happen was two Apache helicopters flying over and heading off towards London. They both followed the same flight path a few minutes apart and were visible for quite some time as they circled around and negotiated their route through the London airspace.

An Apache helicopter (yes, a real one).

An Apache helicopter (yes, a real one).

I’m off to do some blade balancing on the autogyro. That would give the Apaches an unusual view if they ever flew overhead again.

To Fly or Not To Fly?

I decided on not flying as the wind yesterday was gale force and, while today’s forecast was for only 10-12 mph, I only have the flying wing which needs calmer conditions. This is currently looking like a good decision as it does look very windy outside and lots of grey fluffy rain clouds are whizzing across the sky. It’s one of those Sunday mornings which are really annoying because one minute it looks like a bright sunny day, perfect for flying, then the clouds get blown in and the wind really picks up for a bit. Also, maybe I’m just getting lazy as I’ve only got the bike this week and the flying wing in the rucksack? It’s a nightmare trying to extract the bike from the shed and the cycle over to the flying field is quite an effort. It really is looking too windy though, so it’s probably better to spend the morning on the autogyro’s blades.

Over the past week I’ve produced four profiled blades for the ATOM project using the blanks I made last weekend.

That's what I call a kit of parts.

That’s what I call a kit of parts.

I’ve found that it takes about an hour to shape the profile on each blade from the square blanks. The profiles are drawn onto the ends of the blanks using felt tip pen, then the excess wood is removed using a plane. Final sanding is using my Perma-Grit file and a tool I made up to get the profiles consistent. You can just see it in the picture underneath the “ATOM Special” logo. I took some 6mm Ply and cut the blade profile into it, then stuck some 120 grade wet and dry paper into the profile using double sided flooring tape, allowing for the extra thickness in the profile I cut. It seems to work very well as both a guide to show any imperfections along the length of the blade and as a sanding block to remove the excess.

Viewed from the front, you can just see the profile on the blades.

Viewed from the front, you can just see the profile on the blades.

Close up of the hardware.

Close up of the hardware.

I’m on to the blade balancing and hole finding part now. Once the head has been modified and installed and all the servos connected up, it should all go together fairly easily. I still have to make the motor mount, cowl and canopy though.


Make Blades While the Rain Falls

If the Sun was shining I would be on the bike with the flying wing, but it’s grey, windy and drizzling, with the forecast for it to continue that way until mid morning.

Yesterday I started making the blades for my ATOM autogyro. It’s all a bit confusing as the commercial AJ Blades ones are 450mm x 44mm:

There are also a number of PDF documents online at RCGroups which were produced by Rich Harris and which show 450 x 60mm blades:

Various people on the RCM&E ATOM thread have different blade designs, but the consensus seems to be to use either the AJ Blades 44mm ones or the 60mm ones. Having decided to go with the 60mm design, the first thing I discovered was that I only had one sheet of 5mm balsa left and it was 100mm wide. The 60mm blades need 450mm x 54mm balsa blanks plus a 6mm spruce leading edge to make the 60mm, so I decided to alter this to three 450mm x 50mm blasa blanks which I could get from my last remaining sheet of wood. It probably doesn’t make that much difference (let’s see it fly first), but using the same sheet to make all the blades must be a better option in terms of density matching rather than using two different sheets. Anyway, from my piece of wood I made four blades, of which I will pick the best matched three. The pictures show the progress so far:

450 x 50mm balsa blanks waiting for the 6mm spruce leading edge to be added

450 x 50mm balsa blanks waiting for the 6mm spruce leading edge to be added

Leading edges epoxied and taped in place waiting for the glue to cure

Leading edges epoxied and taped in place waiting for the glue to set

The finished blade blanks trimmed to length, ready for the profile to be sanded

The finished blade blanks trimmed to length, ready for the profile to be sanded

I now have four square blade blanks waiting for me to figure out how to sand them to the correct profile. The silly thing is I don’t have a printer here, so I can’t print out the aerofoil from the PDF. What I might try is copying it onto a piece of paper by tracing from the computer screen. Not exactly high tech, but without a printer or projector I can’t think of any other way to do it and I would like to get this done today. As for the sanding, I have a number of razor planes I’ve been wanting to try out, along with all my trusty Perma Grit files which I could never do without.

Let’s go create some dust…

(balsa dust is dangerous if inhaled, so always use a mask)