Month: June 2017

Unsettled Weather

At 8am this morning the wind was already blowing the trees around and making the neighbour’s anemometer go crazy. I would have been on the bike this week, so I decided to stay indoors instead. I’m a bit annoyed with myself for not going flying, but I wouldn’t have got much actual flying in because of the weather.

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Instead of flying, I thought I should finally have a look at the 3D printed “Whoop” frame that I’ve had on the bench for the last few months. As always, I underestimated how hard it is to get all the electronics and wiring into such a small space. In the end I cut up another failed 3D print and glued the extra bits onto this one to make a base underneath. This will allow me to fix the flight controller with double sided foam tape and also attach the battery underneath. The FPV camera can go on top. The sellotape in the picture shows where I’ve glued the new bottom piece in place. The PLA material used in the 3D print can be a bit temperamental with cyano, so I’ve left the tape in place for now. With a bit of luck I’ll get it all working later and be able to fly it around the house.

Also, last night I made some final changes to the rudder control rod on the ATOM Autogyro and glued it in position. This now means that all the control surfaces work and I just need to do the final tweaking to make it flight ready. Could it really be that I’ve finally finished it? I’ve only taken about 2 years. My thoughts now are whether I can build an autogyro flight simulator as I’ve never seen one? It looks like I might just have to test fly it the old fashioned way.

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Too Darn Hot

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The picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s at least 30 degrees in the shade and probably more like 40 out in the open. I managed to beat the weather, though, and got six flights of the RS352 this morning and one flight with somebody else’s UMX Carbon Cub.

There was me, the UMX Carbon Cub and a guy with his son who had a slightly off trim high wing pylon racing type. I’d seen this model fly a few weeks ago and it went really well then, but has since had a bit of a coming together with the ground. He said it was rolling left quite badly and it did look as though the tail was now out of line. I don’t know whether this is a commercial model or an own design, but it was sorted out and flying again quite quickly. I had my first flight with the Carbon Cub, then flew the RS352 for the rest of the morning trying to get it trimmed out again as this was one of the very rare days with no wind. I say no wind, but when a bit of a breeze did blow up it was very welcome. I nearly crashed the RS352 into the ground at one point which was down to pilot error. I think the heat must have been getting to me as I got the harmonisation between the rudder and aileron wrong and nearly put it into the ground. At low level I rolled into knife edge, messed up the coordination with the rudder input, decided to abort and only just about levelled off and pulled away from the ground. Don’t do that again…

We also had the guy with the FPV wing from a few weeks ago, but this time he was flying a Yuneec hexcopter with RealSense collision avoidance.

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He demonstrated the “follow me” and collision avoidance functions, plus the “wand” controller which allows you to fly it without the radio transmitter. We had an interesting discussion about mapping with drones, point cloud cameras and time of flight Lidars, but I still say that flying a little Carbon Cub is a lot more fun than a computerised drone.

After they left we had a family turn up with a high wing foam cub (it might have been the Multiplex one) and another UMX Carbon Cub. He proceeded to teach his young daughter how to fly the UMX Cub, which she did really well. Then he had a flight with the bigger one and ended up losing one of the wheels while in the air. I was flying at the time, so could only look around quickly and estimate roughly where the aircraft was when he cried out, “my wheel’s just come off”. I was landing then anyway and went over to the spot with his wife and kids while he was still in the air. I got the position just about right, but his wife found the wheel before me as it was lying on the edge of the path.

That was two and a half hours in an oven, so at this point I was glad to be going home. I know I still haven’t finished the autogyro, but it’s been too darn hot this week. All I need to do is to epoxy the rudder link stops, velcro the battery, find some bolts for the rotors, check the controls and do a hang test for balance. It really should fly soon.

Very Hot, Very Humid and Really Very Windy

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The weather’s going crazy at the moment. On Tuesday we had torrential rain and gale force winds that brought all the trees down and caused chaos on the roads. Yesterday and today, we’ve had at least 30mph winds along with extremely hot sunshine. This is probably because the wind is blowing all the clouds across the sky at a rate of knots. The picture above shows a sweeping curve cut into the cloud by an A380 heading off on its holidays. In real life, this looked absolutely stunning with the sun, the plane cutting an arc in the cloud and the vapour filling in slightly behind the plane. Of course, by the time my Android phone had booted up, the plane had gone and the wind had shifted everything and filled in most of the trail.

Anyway, there didn’t seem to be much point in trying to fly today, unless you had a big glider to play with. That would have been a lot of fun, but I picked up two new tasks for work this week, which prevented me from finishing the closed loop rudder links on the Autogyro. Now I’m thinking that I’ve got some extra time and I can use that to finish the building. I haven’t actually made a closed loop rudder like this before, so I’ve been reading some articles on how to do it. It all looks fairly simple, though, so I should have it working soon.

Wow, It’s Hot

It’s been really hot this week and part of me is relieved that there’s a running race this weekend and all the roads are closed, so I can’t go flying. It would have been 40 Celsius at least in the sun, which causes big problems with battery charging and overheating. In this sort of weather I usually bring a sun shade to keep the batteries and electronics cool and just overheat myself.

Anyway, as I said last week, this gives me the opportunity to finally finish building the autogyro. I had a bit of a setback last night, though, as I broke the rudder link rod. If you look at the main picture above, it’s the metal rod linking the two rudder horns horizontally, connecting to the bell crank in the middle. You can see that it’s now got an adjustment bend on the right hand half, which wasn’t there before. The reason for this is that I broke the rod last night when I was trying to adjust the rudders to be central. Originally, I made the rod the perfect size, just as in the instructions. Except that it wasn’t quite perfect and I didn’t like how the rudders weren’t aligned straight, so I tried to put a tiny adjustment kink in the rod and snapped it. To be fair, I should have made it with an adjustment z bend in the first place, but figured that I could do it the hard way and make it a perfect fit. To be fair, it was only about 0.5mm out and I could easily have lived with the rudders both pointing slightly outwards, but I had to tinker with it. Then I made another stupid mistake and put both 90 degree bends for the left and right control horns into the rod before I pushed it through the bell crank collet in the middle. Of course, the hole in the brass collet is only just enough for the rod, so it’s impossible to push a 90 degree bend through the hole. What I did was to gently radius the 90 degree bend to a curve and force it through the collet hole. Then I tightened up the radius back to 90 degrees, taking care not to snap the rod for a second time. The left hand bend where the rod goes into the horn is now more rounded than a square 90 degrees, but it works. By the way, if you’re wondering why I put a loop into the rod for the adjustment rather than a tight triangle bend, I was worried about snapping the rod again, so I just made a nice easy looped bend. I knew I was only going to need 1 or 2 mm of adjustment, so this works fine.

After all that I now need to connect up the closed loop rudder and then all the control surfaces will finally work. I guess that will mean that it’s flyable, assuming the balance is right?