Honey Bee

I can describe today’s weather very easily: bright and sunny, 20 mph wind, sub-zero wind chill. I’m staying inside as I’ve got loads of work to do anyway.



One thing I’ve been up to this week is 3D printing the new design for a “Honey Bee” quadcopter for the drones for good master class that we’re running in February. Later on I need to test out all the kit to see what’s left after the last lot of kids destroyed everything. The first flight of the honey bee will be the only flying I get up to today.



The Fuselage is Finished

The last day of 2017 and the weather is wild. Wind and rain makes it a building day, but I’ve finally finished the repairs to my autogyro’s fuselage.



It’s standing on its own two legs again, in amongst all the left over debris from the crash in October. All I need to do now is a bit of final sanding and then cover it. What I’m going to try and do, though, is to recover enough of the metallic silver blue film to cover the inside surface of the left fin. This blue film was left over from my first electric model, a Galaxy Models Aerojet from about 20 years ago. I used the last of the left over bits on the original covering, so I’m going to see if I can use some of the removed bits to cover the fin, using a bit of extra adhesive applied to the balsa first. This is so I don’t have to re-cover the whole tail section, as the right fin still has the blue on the inside and I’d rather not have to remove it, but two different colours would look decidedly odd. On the outside left and right fin, I’ll probably use something visible and different, like a bright red. The remainder of the fuselage will get the deep blue left-overs from my Extra 300. Anyway, that’s this afternoon’s job.

Here are some of the inter-repair photos on the tail end:


After the ply doublers had set, I sanded them back to expose some of the grain of the ply, as I really loved the look of the spruce grain longerons that I had just covered up. The ply grain doesn’t look as good as the spruce, but it will have to do for now.

As for the main part of the the fuselage, I finally relented and added some sensible 1/32 ply reinforcement to the inside where the two side pieces are grafted together:


There, that makes me feel like the fuselage isn’t going to snap in two. Now I’m going to use my covering iron on a low setting to try and peel away some of that remaining silver blue film to see if I can recycle it for the fin. Just in case you’re wondering why I haven’t removed the film on the fuselage bottom and sides before this point, I’ve always found that it acts as a useful protective covering while I’m doing any major work on an aircraft. Leaving the covering on can prevent a lot of dents and scratches that the exposed balsa can pick up on the workbench if you’re not careful, and, when you know the repair is probably going to take months, it’s a sensible precaution to take. As for accidentally dropping glue on the fuselage while you’re sticking the tail back together, nobody would ever be that stupid, but we all know that the glue won’t stick to the film anyway.

OK, so let’s see what scraps of film are still usable.

Wrapping Up My Presents on Christmas Day

Well, that’s the tail fixed and (almost) covered. The left fin has had two triangular fillets added for strength. The right hand half, which is still covered on the inside with film, I’ve decided to leave as it is. It already had a triangular fillet added on the top after the first crash. It’s a lot of effort to add a bit on the lower left, for no real benefit, so I’ve decided to leave it uneven. I fixed the top part of the right fin, so that will do. If you look at the left and right photos below, you’ll see what I mean:


Right, so now it just needs some covering on the vertical pieces, then I’m on to making a new rotor blade.


Merry Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Here’s hoping that there’ll be a lot more flying done in 2018 and that I finish the autogyro repairs over the Christmas break so I can fly it again early in the new year. Who knows, I might even buy myself that little biplane I’ve been looking at?

Misty Dragonfly


It started out misty this morning, then the Sun came out for a bit, but not for very long. After that the clouds filled the sky, it got really cold and rain took over for the afternoon. At least this way round I could finally get some flying in before Christmas. It’s been ages since I’ve flown and this is probably my last opportunity as next week is Christmas Eve.

When I arrived there were two youngsters with a DJI Mavic which had obviously never been flown before. They seemed fairly intelligent about all the rules and regulations, which is a nice change from the normal. Once they had warmed the batteries up to the point where the computer would let them fly, and also done the whole IMU thing, it flew really well. This is to be expected really as it’s all done by computer. I had my first couple of flights with the RS352 while they were messing about. Having tried both of my older LiPos, I’m now sure they’ve both had it and need recycling. Neither would have got me into the air, so the actual flights were with my two remaining LiPos. Over the course of the morning I managed four flights, so two full recharges. It turned into a good opportunity for trimming the aircraft as, for once, the air was almost completely still. It’s just a shame it was absolutely freezing.

Later in the morning, another guy arrived with a Mavic, but the rain was starting by this time. I could see the first spots on my glasses as I was having my final flight and he was trying to film over the top of me. My timing this morning was perfect, as the rain became very heavy on the way home.

If you look very closely at the first picture of the RS352, you might just see a small quadcopter sitting on the wing. This was the first outing of the new Dragonfly2 which we’re going to be using for the Drones4Good masterclass in February. It flew very well too.


Dragonfly2 100mm quadcopter against the now darkening sky. Still taken from my runcam’s video footage of the first outdoor flight.


OK, so I’ve got snowed under with work again, but I’m determined to finish the rebuild of my autogyro and get it flying again early in the new year. Only the tail section, spare rotor and associated bits left to go now.

Rain, Cold, Wind, Snow



Any outdoor flying you can get during the Winter is a bonus. Needless to say, the weather wasn’t cooperating again this week. It was bitterly cold with snow and sleet for large parts of the morning.

On the plus side, this week I’ve renewed my BMFA membership, got another Drone Masterclass to run in February and finished the front section of my Autogyro.


Now I’m working on the tail fins, which weren’t damaged much, only half split along the grain of the wood. Given the extensive damage elsewhere, I might as well do things properly and take the film off completely so I can glue them back together and add strengtheners.

I’m also in the process of designing a 3D printed dragonfly quadcopter for the drone workshop, then I have to check out all the kit from the last one we ran to see what’s left after the kids destroyed everything. It looks like the only flying I’m going to get to do today is indoors checking out the 3D printed micro quadcopters.


Constant, Light, Drizzle

I’m reminded of the bit in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where the lorry driver is driving through the rain and listing his 231 different classifications of precipitation [link]. Light misty rain that makes you wet but isn’t really rain at all is his least favourite and it’s also mine too. Today was one of those days when it was just soggy and those of us who wear glasses to fly can’t see because of the light mist that’s in the air.

It’s time to rebuild an autogyro.


The pictures above show the internal ply reinforcing plate for the undercarriage being glued in place. Once that’s dry (in about a few minutes now), then I can work on the top front section and most of the fuselage will be done. If you look at the pictures, you can see that I’ve used Gorilla Glue again by the amount that’s bubbled up through the cracks. Bearing in mind that the only glue was on the bottom floor of the fuselage, it has expanded by a prodigious amount. You can probably see that I’ve tried to wipe away the seepage as it’s drying, but not altogether successfully. It’s a real shame that the glue goes like this because it’s very good otherwise. You just can’t control how much escapes around the edges. Otherwise I would recommend it as its crack filling properties are excellent. Without being able to reliably limit the glue area to just where I want it on the joint, in other words hidden between the two bits of wood that I’m joining, I just can’t see how I can use it. I’m going to have to buy some of the Deluxe Materials wood glue as that’s excellent.

OK, so that’s all I’ve done so far this week, but I’ve got the rest of the afternoon and evening to make some progress on the autogyro. Also on my list of things to do is to pick up the flight simulator again, now that the opportunities for real flying are getting limited, build a dragonfly quadcopter and have a look at modifying a drone camera to capture an NDVI image to detect plant health.

Let’s hope we can get some real flying in next week before Christmas sneaks up on me.


I haven’t been able to do anything flight related this week due to pressures of work again. There’s a presentation that I absolutely need to finish before Monday morning and it’s soaking up all my spare time. The weather outside was bright and sunny, although it turned cold yesterday, so it was close to freezing. I must be getting lazy, as the wind forecast was about 11mph and I would have had to cycle this morning, so I didn’t bother. The flying wing doesn’t go well in the wind and it would have been absolutely freezing. I spent the whole day working instead. I haven’t even touched the autogyro all week. It’s sitting there waiting for me to glue the top on, so the fuselage is almost done.

Oh, well, I’m looking forward to Thursday when some semblance of normality should return.

Perfect Weather

Brrgh, it’s cold, but it’s bright and sunny and there’s absolutely no wind for a change. The conditions are perfect for flying and when I arrived at the field this morning, there was already a professional drone pilot there practising with a new aircraft. I’ve know this guy for ages now and he usually flies an Inspire 1, but has now switched to the new Phantom 4 Pro which he says is a lot faster and more manoeuvrable. It’s a lot cheaper than the new Inspire 2, although the optics aren’t quite as good, but then it does have all the new features like collision avoidance. For the purposes of testing, we walked in front of the aircraft while it was locked in a hover just to see that it detected us on the screen and knew it couldn’t move forward.

After that we had loads of people turn up, mainly with drones, so it turned into a bit of an infestation. First, there was the Mavic, who flies the same route around the field a couple of times every week as he’s making a timelapse of the conditions over the whole year. Then the lady with the micro FPV drone, my friend on his electric bike with a FlyZone DR1 triplane, two large groups of friends who met up with a DJI spark and another drone, somebody else was flying an Inspire from about 50 metres away and another person with a Phantom in a backpack arrived and flew from about 20 metres in the other direction. There way also my friend with the Xeno flying wing and finally, my other friend with the Multiplex Easy Star from a few weeks back, but this time he brought his UMX biplane and a Faze(?) electric glider. I still don’t know what type of plane the biplane is, so I need to do a bit of research. It looks Czech to me and around early WW2. Unfortunately, in the walk across the field he had broken the fin and tail off it, so it was going to need some cyano before it took off.

As for flying , firstly, I had a flight with my RS352. I’m down to just two battery packs now as I think the 2 year old ones have puffed up and had it completely. My next flight was with the FlyZone DR1, which I absolutely loved. The first launch with the dud battery we’ll ignore, but I missed the post when it veered sharply right and landed fine. The real flight was better, but still down on power. I flew the whole flight with about 50% down elevator as the box kite wanted to loop on me. This is after pulling the throttle right back, so it wasn’t entirely happy aerodynamically. The red baron and me had great fun doing strafing runs on the drone pilots half way down the field. No, I’m joking really, they were so far away I could never get anywhere near them with 30 grammes of depron drag chute. The landing was a bit of an event as the motor cut rather abruptly and it glided a lot further than I anticipated. We all had to jump out of the way to let it past, but it was a perfect landing. It was great fun though and now I’m thinking seriously about getting my own WW1 biplane.

I actually managed to get four flights with the RS352, managing to charge each of my two good packs once. The aircraft was flying really well in the still air and I spent a lot of time practising cuban eights to get the centre point right in front of myself. Once you get into the swing, it’s all about timing. I do need to do some re-trimming with the aircraft, though, as inverted, if you push down into an outside loop, it screws out badly, suggesting that the elevators or some other part isn’t straight.

I didn’t take any pictures from the field this morning, but I do have an update on the ATOM autogyro.


As you can see, Pete the pilot is back in his office and everything fits back together very nicely. The two fuselage sides are stuck, but the firewall has yet to be glued in place. I’m going to make the holes for the motor wires before sticking it in this time around. Once that’s in place, then I can glue the top piece back on and the front fuselage will be all finished. I’m actually quite impressed that the original canopy still fits as well as it does. Although the tail still needs some work, that should be easy to fix. The most time consuming bit is going to be finishing the replacement rotor blade.

It’s Really Very Windy

It’s a building day today as the outside wind speed is around 25mph. I have been making progress with fixing the Atom autogyro this week though.

I’ve fettled the base, firewall and left fuselage side into perfect position and glued the left side into place.


It’s not easy fitting everything together at the front end, but achieving a perfect fit pays dividends in terms of strength. With the left fuselage side in place, the dry fit of the firewall and fuselage front top is very good. There’s also an additional plywood undercarriage strengthening plate that fits to the bottom front of the fuselage that you can’t see here.


I’ve even managed to make a new left hand half of the steering wheel, which I never recovered from the crash. This has been grafted on to the recovered bit of the steering column and glued in place to complete the cockpit section.


Now I’m just waiting for the glue to set on the steering wheel before fixing the cockpit floor back into the perspex canopy. I’m going to wait until the front fuselage section is finished first, as I need to check that it all still fits together.

As for the firewall and fuselage top, I’m not sure how I’m going to glue it at the moment. I have been using “Gorilla Glue” for the side pieces, but the expansion of the glue is such that it squeezes out of the gaps and leaves big blobs of hard glue behind. You can see this on the pictures of the fuselage side above. If I used this for the firewall, I would need to stick the top and internal ply plate at the same time. If not, then the glue would seep out inside the fuselage, where I couldn’t sand it away, and stop the ply plate from being fitted. I’m going to have a long, hard, think about this before I go ahead. I also need to start looking at the motor mounting and three ESC wires, as it’s still bolted to the surviving part of the old firewall.



There are plenty of building hours still left in the day, though. Let’s hope the weather improves for next week.