Month: September 2016

Breaking the Duck

I don’t think I’ve flown the RS352 in September, having only taken the flying wing out a few weeks back. I probably shouldn’t have flown it this week either because it was stupidly windy, but I got in three flights between the gusts. We used to have a saying that when the leaves were blowing along the ground it was too windy to fly. Well, the wind had blown all the leaves away so I couldn’t tell any more.


An interesting Met situation

OK, so it was very windy and it threw the aircraft against my flight box and broke a bit of the trailing edge at one point. The only other person to turn up this morning had a couple of DJI Phantoms (2 and 3) that he wanted to test. They went very well in the wind, while I sneaked in a flight in a period of calm, warm air that came over briefly. It also rained a bit, just for good measure.

My remaining two original 1300mAh LiPos are now at the end of their usable life, not taking the full charge this morning. On each, one cell managed 4.22v, while the other two hovered around 3.9v, not going any higher. It’s time to get rid of them and buy some new ones.

Apart from today’s outing, on Thursday I also managed to fly a very quickly built micro FPV quadcopter using the Hyperion integrated camera, 5.8GHz transmitter and clover-leaf aerial. I made a couple of loops of plastic to form a camera mount, added it to one of the HubSan H-frames that we 3D printed a while back, soldered up a power lead and flew it. I can’t get past the view you get of the rotors spinning in front of you and the World moving around. It just looks crazy, but I need a bit more practice flying it. Preferably in a much larger space. I’m also annoyed because my Black Pearl FPV screen’s battery is also wrecked, not charging at all. I had to keep it plugged into the mains adapter to make it work.

The Autogyro’s still sitting on the bench untouched this week as work got in the way again. We were filming yesterday with a drone operator and a DJI Inspire, so I need to catch up on my weekend now.

Weather’s OK, Roads are Closed

We didn’t think they were going to run the Duothon event this year, but all the roads are closed this morning, so getting to the flying field would have involved a long hike. I haven’t seen this advertised anywhere, so it came as a bit of a shock.

Anyway, I guess I should be finishing off the AutoGyro? This week I’ve been playing around trying to get my Taranis transmitter to work as a joystick with Windows 10. When you connect it via the USB it installs the Taranis driver perfectly, the calibration was spot on, then I tried using it with the Unity simulator and discovered that Unity’s InputManager is broken. They don’t read the calibration data properly so the Taranis won’t work with any program written using this package. I’m going to write my own InputManager utility for Unity to get around this problem. What I really want to know is how the simulator feels to fly with a proper joystick rather than a gamepad where I can feel the slop in the sticks and the huge deadband.

OK, only virtual flying until next week when, hopefully, the weather will be good again. The Sun’s just come out and it’s looking like perfect weather now just to annoy me.

What a Difference a Brake Makes

The weather is perfect this week and I took the mini flying wing. Last night I reprogrammed the ESC so that the brake works and I had two 20 minutes flights this morning.

When I got there the Xeno wing was flying, so we had two wings. Then somebody else turned up on a bike and we had three. He couldn’t get his to fly though, which was a shame. It had a lot of FPV gear on it and was one of the Zagi types.

There was also a UMX biplane which I couldn’t identify, but looked like a Bucker Jungman. It had an interesting penguin logo under the cockpit. Actually, it landed a long way out on the first flight and the pilot had some trouble looking for it as he was looking much too far out. We managed to recover it first and were shouting to him to come back as he was twice as far from the flying area as we were. We had a good look at it while he was working his way back as it’s a really nice little black/brown biplane. When it was flying it went really well. His other plane was a Hyperion Sniper, but that had a rather unfortunate incident and smashed the nose on take-off. It might have been due to the controls being the wrong way around, but I was flying at the time and didn’t see what was described to me as “somebody waggling the sticks around in all directions”.

Another guy also turned up who out did me in terms of how much aviation you can cram into something you can put on your back. He had a snowboarding bag and proceeded to build first an old-timer high wing aircraft, then a Cessna type trainer. Both about 80cm span at least and both flew really well.

I also managed to get in one flight with a UMX Carbon Cub and the UMX Beast. The Cub is just fantastic with ailerons, rudder and elevator, plus flaps. I rolled it, looped and even flew it upside down, it’s a very controllable little aeroplane. The flaps are a bit strange on something this small and deploy to about 30 degrees with the flick of a switch, resulting in the model climbing vertically. Once it’s settled down, they do work well to slow the approach, but I didn’t use them when I landed. I’m told I was in the air for over 10 minutes which is remarkable for a 180mAh battery. The beast was a completely different proposition, but I was really enjoying it this time out. I had to progressively feed in up trim as it was trying to fly into the floor, but I managed the best spin I’ve ever done. The wing was properly stalled, not just turning tight, and it looked amazing. I did most of the usual stuff rolling, loops and cuban eights, up to the point where the owner caught me doing a knife edge with it. He then said, “I thought you didn’t like it”, which, usually, I don’t. Maybe it was just the completely calm conditions, but I really enjoyed flying it this time and only landed when the power went after close to 10 minutes.

The second flight with the flying wing was a bit scary on the launch. It rolled right quite violently for now reason and I had to manage the throttle and elevons to keep it flying. After that it was OK, but the landing is a big issue. They’ve cut the grass now, so I just had to use the whole length of the field and run it along the ground. The second landing was actually quite good, even if the speed was scrubbed off by the ground with the elevator on full lock. The landing on the first flight, I found I couldn’t make the final turn to approach slow enough and even after three attempts had to resort to flying past myself at speed and dragging it along the ground. The idea of flaring out on landing just doesn’t happen and even waggling left and right doesn’t lose and speed. With the prop folded away it’s got even less drag, so a low throttle approach might be the best idea. Anyway, I’m happy with two 20 minute flights and a check of the batteries shows them down to 10%, so that’s its maximum duration.

Finally, we had a couple of guys with drones turn up and then another couple of guys with really good hand launch gliders. I had to go by this point, which was a shame as some more people could be seen coming across from the car park. Maybe some day I’ll manage to fly in the afternoon? Let’s hope next week is just as good.


This is Autumn

It’s blowing a gale this morning. Then it started raining. The type of light misty rain that means if you have to wear glasses to see the aircraft, like I do, then you need windscreen wipers. I’ve missed three weeks running because of the weather now.

Anyway, I’ve finally covered the AutoGyro. At least I think I’ve covered it. I’ve never know an aircraft like this. Normally you cover the bottom of the fuselage, then the sides, top, bottom of wing and top. There are so many awkward bits to cover on this that it’s taken ages, plus the 35 degree ambient temperature hasn’t helped. When I put it all back together I keep finding bits to cover that I hadn’t realised needed it. The front face of the main former holding the mast is a case in point. It’s highly visible because of the cut-out for the head control rods. I didn’t know whether to do it black or the silver blue colour, so I opted for blue in the end. With all the exposed wood, I don’t know what to cover and what to leave, so I’ve just been doing a bit at a time and then seeing how it looks the next morning. This is why it’s been taking so long, but it’s been quite fun to do.

I really like the silver blue, but I think I need some white trim in places. Now I need to put all the radio gear back in and make it work again. That only leaves the balancing and covering of the blades as the last major item.