Propeller Cubed


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.




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.



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.


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