The flying monkeys got me...

Helis and fixed wing

AMA 957918
IRCHA 4345
AMA Intro Pilot Instructor

Monday, February 28, 2011

My Portable Charging Station

I decided I wanted a bit more LiPo fire safety, and transportability of my charging station since I am joining the Mississippi Coast RC Club (MCRCC) and will need a portable charging station. I had seen this idea on Helifreak done by tptomkins, and have been thinking about it ever since. I had seen a nice all steel toolbox, including a steel handle, at Harbor Freight for $30, and today I decided to make my own portable charging station, so I picked one up. It came out really great and took only an hour or so not counting waiting for paint to dry.

The Harbor Freight steel toolbox that became my portable charging station, on top of my Craftsman 3 door storage cabinet. Nice combo! Labels were made using a Brother P-Touch PT-2430PC label printer.

The steel top pull-out handled drawer holds the P350 Power Supply and my iCharger 208B (from ProgressiveRC), velcroed in using 3M Dupont Dual Lock "velcro". My Hobby King battery voltage monitor is regular velcroed next to the charger so I know where it is. There are two storage compartments separated from the center part where I store the connecting harnesses (parallel multicharger harnesses and the multi-balance harnesses, also from ProgressiveRC), as well as an extra balance board in. I painted the area where I drilled the holes fluorescent orange and edged it with white electrical tape for a clean appearance. The drilling and grinding messed up the original paint a bit. I also think it just looks nicer. I like this design as should a LiPo ignite I can pop the leads, remove the top drawer saving my PSU and iCharger, close the box and chuck it or run away.

Close up of the work I did to make this shelf. I drilled four holes, two up close together, the two below a few cm apart, then Dremeled out the piece between to two farther spaced holes to fit the balance board lead using a reinforced cutting blade. I also Dremeled the resulting holes to make them more uniform and dull the edges using a grinding stone (deafeningly loud...). I filed then sanded the edges. To protect the wires from cutting I placed a thin lip of Liquid Tape rubber stuff to the edges (the greenish edge... didn't have red). To further protect the wires out of the charger I made an extension (see below), and from the connectors down far enough to pass through the holes I shrunk some yellow shrink wrap. To protect the balance board leads I Gooped in a piece of yellow fuel line I cut to fit and split down the middle to fold over the edge. Nice and clean appearing!

Here I've tilted the removable top drawer up so you can see the underside where the charger and balance leads come through. You can see the balance board attached with VHP tape to the underside of the drawer. I put the felt feet to keep the banging down...

LiPo Safe bag is stored in the bottom, and acts as a floor. I will transport batteries in this bottom section and will likely line it with rubber drawer non-skid for appearance, to dampen noise, and to keep the batteries from bouncing around. Discharged batteries will go in the LiPo safe bag and in the bottom compartment. Here you can see the EC5 single charge harness (I was discharging the battery) and the single JST-XH connector from the battery plugged into a ProgressiveRC multibalance harness for 3S batteries.

I love this set up and am pretty pleased with how it came out!


I made the charge lead extension using an extra Alligator Clip charger lead I had. You can see that under the rubber handle what is essentially a female banana connector pin that accepts the male banana plug.

The extra Alligator Clip charging cable.

This is a different, larger, Alligator clip from which I have removed the plastic handle so you can see the banana plug connector (forgot to take pics of the small one I made). The small one I use is the same, but smaller. I cut the Alligator clip off the wires. I used my Burnzomatic torch to melt the solder and remove the pin from the harness; it fell right out.  I then soldered the wires back onto their pins using the torch. If I had just melted the plug off the Alligator clip the solder in the pin cup would have melted and separated anyway, so this was a more controlled and easier way to do it.

I shrink wrapped the pins individually (red and black) and then used yellow shrink wrap to hold them together at the female end to prevent play and secure them. You can also see the yellow shrink wrap around the male pin ends to protect the wire as it passed through the steel drawer.

A close up of the female ends in their shrink wrap. Whichever charge harness I am using now plugs in here instead of directly to the charger.

Here's what the extension (right) looks like connected to an EC5 charge lead (left). I had made this lead previously, with a loose shrink wrap (black) holding the wires together. Everything fits nice and snug!

If you have any questions feel free to contact me!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stearman Build Day #2 - almost done

Essentially finished the Stearman today. I need the motor and the receiver to complete the build. She is huge, and a thing of beauty.

Aileron servos setup, preparing the wing.

Servos in. I forgot to snap a pic of the install, but it went pretty much by the book.
Hinges in the aileron, preparing to join it to the wing.

I was worried about losing the aileron servos leads in the wing, so I used the string they provided for the install, just kept it tied to the plug, but ran the bitter end through the frame and tied it off. This part is in a hole in the frame so the string does not interfere with the wing install

Both wings done.

Pilot figure. I was going to make him a Kamikaze, but thought that might be a bit prophetic... Luke and my names on the cockpits since fling is becoming his thing too.

Finished, except for the motor and receiver!

She is fragile. It will be some time before I am ready to fly her. Want to work out my piloting bugs on the Alphs Sport 450 first. This plane is pretty big, not sure she is a park flyer, per se...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Stearman Build Day #1

This afternoon after getting home from work, I decided to start the E-flite PT-17 Stearman build. It has been a very easy and smooth build. This is a very nice kit!

Initial step, installing the Futaba MN48 Mini servos for rudder and elevator.


Installing the elevator hinges. The horizontal stabilizer with a center portion of the Ultracote peeled off as per the instructions.
I remain baffled as to why this was required.

Using a fine tip applying CA to the hinges. I did so to both sides.

Horizontal stab and elevator installed, preparing the rudder. 
My AMA license number as per regs.

Installed the linkages after connecting the receiver and ESC to center the servos.

ESC velcroed with Dupont Double Strength "Velcro" under the motor mount.

Tail wheel installed, linkages before shortening. These were quite long and I had to cut them. When I was trying to screw the rudder clevis into place before I decided to cut the rod, I accidentally popped a hole in the Ultracote. I came up with a rather nice fix, as seen below.

Using a cutting blade, covering the fuse, cutting the linkage to fit with a Dremel cutting blade. I decided to do them in situ as it was easy.

After cutting. Note the angle of the rudder control rod as per the instructions.

Using a Dremel grinding stone to smooth the jagged edges.

Lining up the rudder linkage with the rudder hinge. The white tape is to cover a hole I poked in the Ultracote... I later re-did this tape and it looks much cleaner.

Preparing to drill and install the rudder control horn.
I found locking the tail with a black metal clip very useful.

Rudder and elevator control horns and clevi installed. See the cleaner white tape repair.

Attached the cabanes and the middle upper wing section. This was a little harder to do as the pan head screws are US standard units and not metric. I don't have any US standard ball drivers or Allen's so I had to screw them in by hand and then tighten them with needle nose pliers.

I decided to stop here tonight, after about 6-7 hours of work. Went by fast! In the next day or so I should finish most of the build. Installing the wings and ailerons, their servos, and the cowl. I was waiting for an Exceed MonsterPower 15 or the Hobby King G15 motors to come back in stock, but they just weren't coming in over the past month. So I ordered a very nice motor from and it should be here early next week (today is Saturday). I used the counterfeit AR6100 from my SimStick to drive the servos; I need to order a AR500 from Horizon Hobby. Installing the motor, the receiver and the pilot figure, and that will just about do it! Then its getting up the nerve to fly it!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cubby's ESC burns up...

Almost forgot to mention... Yesterday I finished repairs on the Cubby. I had run the motor a couple of times during this repair, about 5 minutes before this last spin up. This time I smelled an electrical fire. I turned everything off and inspection revealed a capacitor on the generic ESC had burned up. I removed it from the a/c and have asked Nitroplanes to replace it. Damn, otherwise Cubby is ready to fly!

UPDATE: Wow, now that's service! I asked Nitroplanes to replace the ESC, and Eric is sending me a new one, within 30 minutes of my posting the service request on, their forum for service etc. I have always had excellent service with them, and will continue to be a customer of NP, Hobbypartz and Xheli!

Eflite Alpha Sport 450 High Wing Trainer

I did some research looking for a good high wing trainer, since the Cubby really isn't a trainer. I decided on the beautiful and well respected E-flite Alpha Sport 450, here seen after completing the build It wouldn't fit over the shelf!  I purchased it from Horizon Hobby.  I love this plane and can't wait to fly it. Its a balsa/ply Ultracote aircraft, not a foamie, so I am a little nervous about the prospect of crashing it...

I was surprised at what I suspect is a less than optimal quality of the application of the Ultracote. In comparison with the E-flite PT17 Stearman kit (also from Horizon) I am about to embark on, this was very wrinkled. The Stearman is flawless. I am going to have to learn how to smooth it out...

I put the Alpha together in one evening. A very easy build being a plug-n-play (PNP). I added a Spektrum AR 6100e receiver, but everything else was stock. The E-flite servos were all centered, and I only had to adjust the linkages at the servo arms. Programmed easily into the Dx6i, even set up dual rates. Expo at 30%. I noted that the servos give a good and complete range of motion, except the rudder. The servo is centered, and moves through its full range, but it moves the rudder fully right, only partially left... Its not binding. I don't know if that's the way its supposed to be. As I said, the servo and linkages are moving fine... Not sure what's up with that.

So, here are the pics of the wrinkles, and the fully assembled, still beautiful aircraft!

Under the landing gear on the fuse

Underside of the elevator

Starboard side

Inboard right wing

Outboard right wing

Inboard left wing

Mid left wing

Outboard left wing

Underside right aileron. Similar wrinkles on the topside of both ailerons (no pics).

Underside mid right aileron

Inboard underside left aileron

Underside outboard left aileron

Continues all the way outboard left aileron

Left wing fillet. The right is fine.

Sweet! E-flite Alpha Sport 450!