Tag Archive: flight


Hello!

I had quite some pause in my RC activity. My daughter had priority over RC stuff, so please excuse my lack of posts.

Now the indoor season is going, so we can join in a school sports hall on Friday evenings for one and a half hours.

Outdoors flying is probably getting very problematic in the future, our club is being kicked out from our flying field by the municipality. Unfortunately there is quite some politics and corruption involved, so we don’t really have much of a chance in this game.

My 10th flight was rather boring probably. I haven’t been flying for quite some time, so I tried to freshen up my reflexes.

My latest indoor flight was the 11th flight with my Extra300. I used a new camera for recording, purchased recently an SJCAM SJ4000 action camera. It is basically a copy of GoPro3, with some attractive pricing.

The camera is rather okay for my application. I knew that it has some limitations, so I was not expecting it to beat the latest GoPro4 series. For instance it has some issues with white balance and it would not work so fine for FPV either. It cannot do 60 fps, only 30 fps. But it is fully compatible with GoPro accessories and has a rather okay picture for the price. I made some very simple reviews of it, you can find some videos below.

I look forward to fly a bit more during the winter season.

With best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

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Hello,

It was quite some time since I reflected on my Extra300 EPP indoor plane. The build was rather long and I had many questionmarks. I think this happened partly due to my inexperience in building and due to the manual being written by a very experienced senior pilot who mentioned only the most important aspects of the build. I am not even novice in building, so I would have needed a lot more detail in building instructions.

Anyhow, the plane is ready and it flies well. I tried to take a stepwise approach with flying. I knew that indoor flying would demand constant usage of rudder. While flying my Easystar I started to turn with rudder and aileron together. So I made some rudder practice to prepare myself for indoor challenges. However I knew that playing with rudder while having “the whole sky” to my disposal is rather easy. I was prepared for some crashes as I knew that indoor will be a lot more difficult.

To not ruin the plane within 10 seconds of flight I tried to practice on the ground first. That said applying a fraction of throttle and “driving around” in circles rather than lifting off. This was more difficult than I have thought it would be, since nothing was trimmed and I had a new radio system even. As result I had some occasional unintended takeoffs. These were aborted mostly, that said I crashed the plane nose-in to the floor. Like a warbird tip. I consumed propellers at some rate 🙂

Maiden flight:

2nd flight:

3rd flight, I started to enjoy high angle-of-attack slow passes. Not easy, but fun. Tried to mix directions, figure 8 and slalom flight. Very exciting to do, maybe not so exciting to watch, though.

4th flight, I tried to transition to hover.

5th flight, with hovering practice.

6th flight, more hovering and fun flight.

7th flight. I started to grow devil horns, had some “moments” of daredevil actions. Landed on the wall for instance.

8th flight, my first roll indoors. Scary but fun.

I skipped last weeks flights as I was fortunate enough to have my daughter born. She was born at 1:30 on the 20th of January 2014. A real miracle, 49 cm and 3230 grams of new life. Funny enough it is my birthday, I received the best possible present ever! I stayed home to help my wife and the baby, no flying right now. I will regain action soon, just need to sort out the first few weeks with helping around.

I am not sure what will happen to our outdoors flying. The flight club is going through a very difficult time period. The council announced that they will remove us from our flying field. As from 1st of February 2014 we are no longer allowed to use the field, we have to clear the area and cannot return. We haven’t received yet any other area to use, so the very existence of the club is in danger.
Our flight club and cross motorcycle (dirt bike if you like) club is removed from the area. The cause for this unfortunate decision is that an investment group tied to some politician tries to build a set of luxury golf flats in the area. It is rather interesting, since the golf club itself went bankrupt several times during the last few years. Besides that there are many issues around the build plans, as it seems politics and corruption got mixed up things quite a bit.

The club tried to apply for a negotiation, but the council does not really listen. So as for new it looks like that 1st of February is the end of our current flight activity.

I don’t know yet how we will do. There are some locations where I can fly, but the club itself will not be able to survive without a flying field. We will see.

An article from local newspaper.

With best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello,

I was participating at Winter indoor flights earlier but never could fly for real. I made some practicing with my Lama v3 helicopter and watched the others fly with their special indoor planes.

Now the time has come for me to join as a flying participant. I ordered a nice indoor plane and some matching electronics.

The plane is an Extra 300 made from EPP material. Has 830 mm wingspan and a high visibility colour scheme.

ap-e300-epp-3_9628 ap-e300-epp-1_9626

According to the description this can take some crashes without being converted to confetti. In my case this is not only a good plus point, it is more or less a basic requirement. I think I will need to get some good practice in simulator.

I found a clip where a really expert level pilot flies such a plane indoors. Amazing piece of piloting.

I will be happy to just fly around without touching the walls or other hard surfaces.

As for the electronics I went for the following list of components.

Turnigy 19 gram brushless motor.

2S 370 mAh battery.

HXT900 servos.

10A ESC.

GWS propeller. A lot of them to have spares 🙂

I planned to use my existing Turnigy 9X v2 radio with it. I have 4 extra receivers, got them together with the radio. Then I have got some second thoughts.

I was watching a lot of reviews about FrSky radios earlier and started to be interested. Rc Model Reviews had some great reviews of FrSky. They just launched a new transmitter, it looks like a very capable piece of kit. Maybe a bit too much for me right now, but I keep it in mind as a possible upgrade for later. My current knowledge and experience does not really need such a high spec radio.

Then I came across a nice review of Turnigy 9X radios and how they can be upgraded to a much more flexible system and also software. The original firmware of 9X radios is a bit cumbersome to use. Rather illogical menu system and some limitations. The receiver is huge and heavy for a foamy plane (18 grams). However it is possible to modify it with some cheap items. The result is a very capable radio unit that still has an exceptionally low price.

With FrSky DIY kit you can actually convert your 9X radio to FrSky protocol. A more robust protocol with great range and features.

With a clever little programming card called SmartieParts 9X it is possible to reflash the radio to er9x firmware even.

This will enable unlimited swith mapping. Anything can be assigned to any switch on the radio. Also it extends model memory to 16 planes (originally 8 memories). And with er9x software you get a more logical menu system.

To be able to fly my Easystar with FrSky radio protocol I need to retrofit it with a compatible receiver. So I purchased a receiver with telemetry. A nice feature, I could for instance see the battery voltage while flying. As I understand I can set a warning even for low voltage. Will check how this works.

For the indoor plane I bought a small 5-channel receiver. It weighs only 2 grams (!!!)

5-channel

This unit is so small that I will need to solder micro servo connectors onto the servos.

To really upgrade my radio I also bought a LiFe battery specially made for transmitters.

Transmitter battery pack

This battery will replace the current array of 8 AA cells. Charging 8 pieces of Ni-Mh AA batteries takes ages and they are hard to maintain on the long run. A TX battery on LiFe will give true voltage reading for the radio and it provides 10V against LiPo batteries which would overdrive the radio circuit board.

I will have a major upgrade when everything will be ready. First I need to get hold of the packages. Chinese celebrations mean that hobby parts are delayed. Now the celebrations are already over, so hopefully next week my package will get posted and travel to Sweden from Hong Kong. Exciting it is.

Weather is turning into Autumn, so indoor flight season is soon to be started. As I understand from 1st of November we can fly again at the school sports hall. Not much time left to build my plane.

With best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello,
My 7th flight has happened. As one of my favourite bands say: “7th son of a 7th son”. Look it up, great song.
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This time the flight took place at our club field. Weather was not really promising, we were anxious about rain. Not without reason as it turned out. The whole week was more or less rainy and weather prognose did not really calm us. However it looked like that between 18:00 and 20:00 it should not rain. And finally after long weeks of misfortune the prognose was aligned with reality. I think the guys at Weather Institution were doing their best 🙂
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I made a sketch of my flight profile for better illustration. I call it a Hi-Lo/Hi-Lo profile, I lended this expression from military terms. There you can have different techniques for ingressing and exgressing from the hot zone, depending on the altitude profile these are called similarly. Anyhow this is a peacful mission, so no weapons are on board of my humble Easystar.
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What I do you can see on the graph. Horizontal axis is time, vertical is height. I take off, do maybe a quick round and then climb against the wind as steep as possible. This phase is on full power, the plane climbs at maybe 60 degrees against the wind. I gain height and climb as far as I can see the plane against the sky or clouds. This is approximately 250-300 meters. I estimate it based on the sound delay when I chop throttle at the end of the climb. Sound travels at 340 m/s roughly, so 1 second delay would be approximately 340 meter distance. As I can only estimate the angle I am above horizon (the azimuth) height would also be a guess only. But something like 250-300 meters. Quite high actually, you can see very far away on a clear day from that height.
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When I am up there I close the throttle and start gliding. I do some circles as well to record as much of the sight as possible. Then I glide along the field with the wind, do a turn and glide against the wind. And repeat this as long as I have altitude left. To lose altitude quicker I can do some loops or half rolls. Quite fun. Since I have stiffened up the wings doing a loop will not bend them so much as without stiffening.
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When I am close to the ground I do a school turn (an oval above the field) and then turn into the wind and climb again on full throttle. This enables me another climb to altitude. Then I glide down and land. These 2 climbs and glide sessions fit into the 7 minute window that is advised, I drain the battery to something like 3.8-3.9V per cell. This is a comfortable storage voltage. Then I can change battery and take off for a new round.
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I managed to fly 5 batteries then it started to rain. The last flight was almost in the rain, I bled altitude with multiple loops to not get the plane soaked. Could record some other flights meanwhile, a Sukhoi-29 and a QuadCopter among others. The Sukhoi was a big aeroplane, built from balsa with film cover and a massive 6-cell setup. The battery is like a half brick, the electric motor is of size of a tomato. Impressive. Even more impressive is the noise of air whistling around the plane as it travels. Very nice exprerience.
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I had one small incident, managed to do a faulty start in the beginning. I did not have the hand on the yoke, just launched the plane and then it fell on the grass. Stupid mistake. It did not crack, but anyhow rather embarrassing. The next start I had the hand on the yoke, so I could recover from the dive and do a proper takeoff.
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Thank you,
Best regards,
Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

My 6th flight was a special one. My wife joined me this time. She is not really interested in RC, but wanted to give me company so she did. While being there she recorded some of my flying even. This gave me some funny footage of me launching the model and landing.

On the other hand she became very bored after a while so this flight was shorter than I anticipated. I could only fly 4 batteries instead of 6. Anyhow it was a good flight, I could do what I wanted during this shorter session.

What I aimed for:

– to fly higher and further away than before,

– to do some basic acrobatic flight

– to not crash on a treetop 🙂

I am proud to tell that I managed all these above-mentioned aims. Despite the strong wind gusts I could fly really high this time. I had difficulties to see the model, I was so far up. Could record some remarkable footage from the area of Arendal. This is the industrial port of Göteborg (Gothenburg) city. On the footage you can see Volvo Bus Corporation head office building, Volvo Museum, and numerous industry buildings along with the container buffer outside of the port. Very exciting location with all the wind mills.

I am getting very good results with my 180-degree fisheye converter. The field of view is good, it really opens up the horizon. When soaring with the plane there are no vibrations that mess up the image. I am getting more and more into gliding actually. The sensation of using the wind and gliding without vibrations from the motor is attracting. I will need to experiment more with gliding.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

I was honoured by being invited to Balltorp field as a guest flyer. I could do my maiden flight there. I took my 2 keychain cameras (fixed on the plane) and my hat cam.

The maiden was divided in two parts actually. HaBoRC kindly offered me to have an instructed maiden and a demo before I do my actual maiden. As I was way too excited to fly I was glad to follow his instructions. We had an average wind with some sudden gusts, you can see the direction on the map in the video.

First HaBoRC checked the CG balance on ground. Was okay, I set it as good as I could. Then he took the plane up in the air and checked if it needs trimming. It was difficult to tell due to the wind, but looked neutral.

Then he checked if the plane is easy to land and drove around with it several times so that I can see how it reacts, how the sight changes with distance, how it “feels” up there. As he made some rounds I got calmed down (somewhat), and then we gave it a try.

I could choose between two options. Either HaBoRC takes off and handles over the radio in the air or I just take off myself. We took one round with the first option for the sake of safety. I landed the plane in the bushes at this point, drove it in the wind (against wind direction to minimise ground speed) and then “dropped” it from 1.5 meters into the higher grass. With a foam plane you can do that unless you do it from higher altitude. No damage on the plane, this time I did not dare to land on the real landing area.

Next time I took the cameras, set up everything during HaBoRC flew with his planes. Had one keychain camera on the nose of the plane. One under the wing, facing backwards and my trusted hat cam, that always gets some smiling faces when people see it. It looks “deeply professional” 🙂

So unless you fell asleep in the first few paragraphs you can see that my maiden was actually several maidens together. The one that you see is a semi-maiden, I gained some bravery and went for it. This time I aimed for a proper start and a proper landing. I was extremely cautious with the wind. My fighter plane simulator experience echoed in my head along with the comments from HaBoRC.

You have 2 types of energy. Height and speed. You can convert one to another. Unless you are low on both you are mostly okay. If you have height and lose speed you can always convert some height into speed through diving. So I tried to fly somewhat higher and medium throttle. I have a 2200 kv motor in the plane with a 6×4″ propeller, this delivers insane power at full throttle. So I had reserve there. The bottleneck is my inexperience and my lack of control.

The control: what needed setting up was the radio actually. I needed to dial in some expo, so-called exponential setting. This makes the center of the yoke movements less sensible, you can control fine movements easily, there is no worry for hard inputs. And with full deflection you have full control surface action. I added 33% on all controls and 20% on aileron due to wind gusts. So I had less sensitive action on elevator, rudder, but a bit more sensitivity on aileron. This helped a lot as I explain it with my funny language.

I took several flights, 5 in total. Practiced round flights, some 8-figures and tried to turn left and right. The Easystar glides so well that I needed to extend my turns above the small lake so that I gain more length. Otherwise I glide over the whole field and cannot slow down.

Later the wind picked up and I almost crashed into the depo area. That one was tricky, I flew against myself and then I had to save it with low altitude and close distance to the obstacle. The camera doesn’t really show the distance due to the 28 mm wide lens setting but it was close enough for me.

This time I landed and decided that it is going to be enough for the day. I flew 5 rounds, gained amazing amount of experience and had great fun. I need to keep up the practicing, I need to have same respect towards the wind and the plane, I think.

Thanks again for the great instructions and the possibility for the flight as a guest.

I think I need to consider joining the club (www.mmflyg.se), flying is great fun 🙂

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

We travel in time, this time it is October of 2009. I just bought my Lama in September, so with total lack of experience I bravely started indoor flight exercises. And to be able to reconstruct my mistakes I tried to record as much as possible. The other reason for recording is to show off my skills on Youtube. What skills 🙂

Maybe it is time to tell about my recording platform. Calling it recording platform is maybe an overkill. I use my camera tripod, an older Manfrotto 190DB tripod that is similar to this one.

As a camera I use my wifes small digital camera, a point&shoot category Fuji F480 camera. It can record 320×240 pixel clips with 30 fps. Not a very capable camcorder, however it features an equivalent focal length of 28 mm in wide setting. This is good for indoor shots. As long as I don’t have anything better I use this camera. It gives nice recording if it has enough light, outdoor shots are quite nice.

Back to Lama flight. I tried to improve my skills and learn how to hover. This looks the more basic thing but is also the most difficult. It requires to find the perfect balance between forces acting on the helicopter. Even if the heli is stationary it requires constant control input.

What control inputs do we talk about?

There are 3 main control items on a helicopter. You have cyclic control, this tilts and banks the heli in all directions along horizontal plane. Then you have collective control, this is height basically. To complete you have pedals for controlling yaw.

On a helicopter whatever you do with one control all (!) other controls need some complementary input. Let’s say that you want to just go forward from hovering. First instinct would be to press forward cyclic and hope for good luck. This will result in the heli banking forward, then loosing altitude gently while it picks up speed in forward flight.

If you don’t want to lose altitude (for instance there are trees or houses around) you want to “get more engine power” and add some collective. Let’s assume that the engine control compensates for this action and we don’t consider now engine RPM. So you add some collective to compensate for height loss as you transition from hover to forward flight. We would think that this is perfectly okay, we have the heli under control.

But we have to cope with yaw control. As the main rotor rotates it generates torque that needs some countering force. Tail rotor does this, it counters torque coming from main rotor. As the RPM of main rotor changes we need to adjust what amount of thrust we generate with tail rotor, otherwise the helicopter will start to rotate along its Z-axis.

I think a visual illustration makes it much easier. Mikey’s RC has several great tutorials.

A good tutorial from Nightflyyer.

and

As I started with a simple coaxial heli I had little easier, the behaviour of a coaxial heli is much different of a collective-pitch helicopter. To illustrate how they fly I could say the following. A coaxial heli is more like “hanging” on its rotors, it always want to return back to vertical. A collective-pitch helicopter is more like “balancing” on top of an invisible air cylinder, it tries to “fall off” this cylinder, tries to escape balance all time long.

As a beginner coaxial is more practical. You don’t really have to care about maintaining the helicopter in the air, you can concentrate on flying it.

How difficult it can be after all?

It is still quite difficult. Even though that it is stable in flight, you are still drifting around in air. If you start to fly forward it is drifting on an invisible cushion of air. If you want to stop forward flight you have to decrease speed and try to stop. If you give too much input you will drift backwards. And there is always some amount of side movement, that you have to keep track of.

For me flying was very challenging and a lot of fun. I managed to find the right balance of challenge and excitement, I could still enjoy flying and get the blast of challenge that pushed me towards exploring more.

Here is how I managed.

You might ask some question. Like why do I slam the heli to the table? Why do I land so poor?

To answer this I have to refer to my inexperience and to ground effect. When you are flying low with a helicopter you gain lift compared to flying higher. Approximately at a height of rotor diameter this starts to be noticeable. As you get into this ground effect height you have to decrease throttle to maintain altitude. When you get above this height you have to add some throttle to have same altitude. If you are inexperienced you can have same problem as me, you just cannot handle throttle as needed and get into some oscillation of height. Practice helps.

At the end of the clip I crash even. This was my first crash being recorded. Some explanation here as well. When you crash a fixed-pitch helicopter (or you can see that crash is imminent) it is actually better to take away throttle and just let it fall down than trying to save it and max the throttle. This might sound crazy but is true.

On a fixed-pitch helicopter you have very basic rotor head, very little amount of moving parts. They are quite durable and easy to fix.

A collective-pitch rotor head looks more complicated.

If you crash the rotating blades struck some object and cannot rotate any more. If you add throttle during this the motor still tries to rotate them but they are blocked so something will let go. Either the blades crack and/or the motor burns down (or you crack some cogs). As these helis are so durable crashing from 1 meter height will probably not cause any major damage.

In my case the flybar weight popped out of its place, this can be popped back and I was ready to fly again.

Later I will tell about collective-pitch helicopters, crashing is totally different there. Yes, I will crash 🙂

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot