The flying monkeys got me...

Helis and fixed wing

AMA 957918
IRCHA 4345
AMA Intro Pilot Instructor

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lookin' for that lovin' feeling...

As I scrolled through my blog I realized I haven't done much of anything related to flight. Getting tucked into a new job with a lot less free time, weather windier than down south, and a general funk. This adds up to a pokey attitude and a whole lotta nothing going on. I've lost that lovin' feeling.
I went looking for it today. I put the EXI450 FBL on the lab table and let it sit there for a few hours this morning, waiting for the return of the love.
I thought I had mentioned that I had taken the EXI450 FBL out, was flying it and it started to spin down despite high throttle, and I had to auto to land in a thick weedy field. (I think it was on the same day I dropped my HK500 being stupid). Bent a swash control rod when a weed wrapped around it, and stripped a few teeth on the main gear. I hung it on the wall for several weeks during the funk... I took it down today and inspected it. I found out that, as I suspected, the main motor pinion had come loose and was spinning freely. Replaced the main gear, rolled the main shaft (no bend), reset and snugged the pinion, put it all back together.
The pic shows it displaced. Fixed the heli. Rezeored the blades. For giggles, I spun her up about 10-20% in my living room to check the disk, flat, vibration free, flight ready. Yeah, I was bored, glad it didn't get any more exciting.
Flew the sim today. Flew great. Now if I could just duplicate the hand shaking that accompanies real flight I would have the whole experience.
Stlii lookin' for love in all the wrong places. Noticed later my badly wrinkled HK500 found its way onto the lab bench.
Maybe I'll get lucky tonight?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Old Friends at MCRCC Fall Fly-In

I was fortunate to be home this weekend when MCRCC held its Fall Fly-In at Bob Miller Field in Gulfport, Mississippi. Kenny Chandler and the MCRCC boys put together a nice show. The field was gorgeous, the planes beautiful, and the weather could not have been more perfect! Luke, Aidan and I went by and I ran into a lot of my old friends. Kenny Chandler, Ron Johnson, Bill Page, Greg Reed, and Dickie Ober. I saw Jerry Gollott, Paul Verger, Al Warburton making rounds. It was good to see these guys.
Kenny, you did awesome! Bravo Zulu!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Syma Saga: Replacing battery and motors

My original, now about three years old, Syma S107G was having power problems: it had enough power to hover a few inches off the ground and that was it. I bought a replacement 1S 240 mAh battery, and removed the stock 150 mAh battery installing the new one as it was a cheap and easy repair. Its really easy if you can solder. I removed the canopy by unscrewing the two side screws on the canopy. Identifiy the battery wires and cut them close to the battery one at a time (so as not to short the battery and risk explosion), leaving the wires into the circuit board long. I soldered the new battery leads, covered the solder points with shrink wrap, stuffed the wires and battery in, and replaced the canopy. Charged it, flew it... This didn't solve the power problem, still couldn't get out of hover.
I figured it might be the motors... I found a pair of replacement motors for about ten bucks on eBay. I removed the canopy again, and examined the frame. I could see that the were a bunch of wires from lights going to the canopy and the motors from the circuit board. The board is attached to the bottom part of the frame, and the shafts, gears and motors are attached to the top part. Two screws, one fore and one aft hold the top to the bottom. I removed these and without cutting any wires I found the motors and their wires. The front main motor has a blue and red wire, as does the tail motor. The back main motor has a black and a white wire. I cut the wires close to the motors. The motors are held in place by a tab on the frame. I slightly pried the frame apart and using a pair of needle nose pliers easily pulled the motors out one at a time. The new motors slipped right in (they each have their pinions in place, came that way) and fit nicely under the tabs. I carefully soldered the wires back together, rather long now since I cut them long from the circuit board and the new motors had long wires. Easily done. It might have been easier to solder the wires, then install the motors. Stuffed the wires in, taped the battery in place, and replaced the canopy. Charged the battery and away she went! Flew perfectly! Problem solved!
Pictured above are the old motors. The black and white wires are the back motor, and the wires were very long to start with. Their magnets make them stick together.
Here's a half way done pic. Wires to the lights in the front of the canopy limited how far it could go from the frame, and the frames had their wires. The red and blue wires have been soldered and I used a small piece of electrical tape over the solders as I didn't want the heat from shrinking the wrap to part the solders, the wires being so thin. Here I am about to solder the black and white wires, jigged in the hemostat. You can see that the parts are all leashed to one another by wires. This looks hard but was incdibly easy!
I have two of these now, and they are so much fun to play with! Check them out!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Flight Mode and Hold are not compatible

Whodda thunk? My beloved HK 500 died a miserable pilot induced death today. My favorite helicopter ever... I betrayed her today. So this is how it went down.
Lift off, hover, looks good, hit flight mode a couple of feet AGL. Wha'? POWER LOSS, tail drops, I compensate but over do it trying to auto and a blade strikes. It was over in seconds. 6S is a whole lot of power and she pretzeled something fierce. I was in shock. It was clear she went into hold becasue that's what happens when you hit the hold switch. As I thought about it I realized I had hit Hold and Flight Mode (opposite sides, same switch position index finger tip) and when she didn't spin up but instead spun down, my inexperience and lack of focus failed me and I flew her into the ground. Right now it looks like blades, tail boom, canopy paint cracked and chipped, missing tail boom support rod, split the landing gear (tube is fine), snapped a servo arm, but the servos seem fine. I will be surprised if there isn't something else broken... like my heart. Well, tomorrow morning I will start on her rebuild.
I have everything I need to rebuild the HDX 500, but am not looking forward to the labor of taking it completely apart to replace the frames. I love that old heli, so I am sure it will be next on my list.
I took the EXI 450 Sport out, and for some frickin' reason her tail belt is binding. Plan to take the tail apart and figure that out tonight, if I can find the energy.
Lastly, I flew the ill fated Sbach. I flew her with a 3S and she seemed anemic... she was twitchy on 20% rates, but once I got her trimmed she flew pretty well. She had a strong tendency to dive despite her CG being centered. Adapted. Powered off, she glided fair. I did a touch and go, seemed fine. I flew around a bit more and when I came back around on final I stalled her in a turn (she got rocky in the turn) and she landed belly down, stripping her gear, poked a whole in the wing, and that was it. Her gear are not well secured after multiple pairs, but still, it was a pretty abrupt landing. I fixed that this evening. They are held in with epoxy, no real wood to wood contact. This thing is almost ridiculous... Tomorrow I will fly her with a 4S, and try to remember to land her hot. More so because she will be heavier with the bigger battery. I honestly don't expect it to come out well.
At least I met some great guys today! Frank, Don and Jerry were there and made me feel welcomed. I need to work on learning how to line up with the paved runway, and to come down lightly as the runway is not as forgiving as grass. But then, it is sweet landing smooth instead of watching the grass try to pull the gear off. Add to this that I am not flying as much as I was, and my skills are way behind the plane. Practice...
It was not my best day of flying. I am having trouble adapting to my new field, all psychological. Working on it.
ADDENDUM (9/30/12): Oh, almost forgot. I also flew the PulseXT 25e. I had a problem keeping her steady on final, I think coming in too slow, and she would drop her nose and prop strike the ground. Went through a couple of props (12x8e), in fact the last couple I had. I also skinned the wing tip. So proud of myself.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. I think it was Albert Einstein who said that. Well, yeah, I'm insane. Just before I left Gulfport the Hobby King Sbach 1000mm crashed, not so bad, fixed pretty quick. It did its usual, a dive of death from on high. Its done it before, and in the week before I left, it did it again. It was crushed, the nose shoved in crushing the motor box and caving in the firewall, bending the motor shaft, badly folding the gear, and crushing the cowl itself, fracturing it in three places pretty severely, and badly damaging the fuse in several places. Since I was moving, I piled it together and let them ship the pieces you can see in the lower left corner of this pre-move pic.
Its been laying in my apartment, the body in the lab, the wings under my bed, shattered. A couple of weeks ago I started reworking the frame. I had to rebuild the fuselage behind the cowl, the underside and back behind the canopy, recote it, and rebuild the motor box and the firewall. That took a cuple of weeks of slow work. I then rebuilt the cowl, using epoxy and Bondo, and sanded it down to the fiberglass. It still has some imprefections. I primed and repainted it in a similar, if not exactly the same pattern as the original. It came out pretty well, if I do say so myself! I am worried she's added some weight though.
Today I finished her. I drilled the new cowl mounting holes, lined up the motor, and drilled the firewall support holes for it. I found the motor shaft bent on the HURC Power Up 15 motor. It was jammed solid in the outrunner and I ended up having to cut the shaft at the top of the outrunner, and pound the other end out with a hammer. Replaced the shaft, rebuilt the motor, and installed it. Put the wings on after fixing some cote damage (minor, from the crappy packing job the movers did). I had to take the AR500 from the Hangar 9 60 sized Sopwith I have museumed. I would prefer a AR600 so I could prgram flaperons, but its what I've got. It took me a while before I realized it was an AR500 and not an AR600... when I couldn't program the left aileron I realized it (the Aux slot is actually Aileron, and acts like a Y with the regular Aileron channel.
Last time she seemed to fly well with 3S batteries. The 4S batteries give a lot more power, but the weight penalty bogs her down and she flies heavy. I have no idea why she cannot come out off some dives. Many people have found this fatal flaw, so its something about the design. The first time it happened to me I put larger mini servos in for the elevator, but that hasn't made any difference. I still don't know why... I will always fly her aerobatics high from now on.
I wish I had taken pre pics of the cowl and fram damage. Here's the FINAL rebuild. FINAL. I MEAN IT. This week, possibly tomorrow weather permitting, I will find out if she will die one last time... but then she's sooo pretty...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


After work today I took my HK500, my HDX500, the EXI 450 Sport and the EXI 450 FBL out, along with the Stearman and the Cosmic Wind. I flew the Cosmic Wind first, and after a bit of tweaking trim, she flew great. The winds were picking up, so I flew the HK500. I tried two seperate packs of 6S (two 3S in series), and both went to low power shortly after takeoff. Both were fresh, and after a couple of minutes of hover they were down to around 3.7V per cell. Shortly after lift off you could hear her spin up to full power, lift off, then immediately the head speed dropped audibly. I landed her after but a minute and checked the voltage. These were almost full charge at takeoff, but down to 3.7V. I tried a 4S and she flew great, no power drop off. Later I tried a third and fourth 6S set and it flew perfectly. Not sure what that was all about. Will need to check those packs.
I set up the Stearman, and realized I had not plugged in the aileron servos on my post-move repairs. This is going to take removing the wing and fishing out the leads, putting the extensions on, and putting the whole thing back together. I set her down and put her away. I will deal with that when I get home.
I took the HDX500 up, and shortly after takeoff I noticed a sudden power loss, and she seemed to bend in the middle as she came down hard. Turns out she split her frame. I knew there were a couple of cracks, but had repaired them, and since I don't 3D and the rest of the stress points were fine, I didn't think it critical. Guess I was wrong...
She cracked through and through at the two repaired points, and all of the other weak points. These frames were the original and are over 5 years old, so I am not surprised. Flybar is bent, and she snapped the tail boom, tossing one of the boom supports to who-knows-where, but other than that she is intact. I debated if this was the time to replace her with another HK500, but its cheaper to buy new frames. So I ordered new ones from CNChelicopter, for about $17 a side, and new 500 class tail boom supports from Helidirect for $10. It will be laborious, taking apart the scrambled parts bolt by bolt, and then rebuilding the entire heli from scratch. Oh well... needed a good project. I am kinda fond of her...
I took up the EXI 450 FBL and she too lost power, not completely, and I was able to hover her down. She stripped a few teeth on the main drive gear on landing in the weeds, so that will need to be replaced. Not sure what was wrong, good battery. Will need to fix her and trouble shoot that too.
No longer optimisitic, I took the EXI 450 Sport up, and found out her tail boom was slipping back and forth, so she could not maintain her tail rotor headspeed. Grounded for repairs.
This sucked. Power issues...
Took the HK500 back up with another 6S pack and she screamed back and forth, circles, figure 8's, fun stuff! Its amazing the power difference between 4S and 6S. I don't 3D so I won't make another 6S, but wow, the power is stunning. I can only imagine what my Align Trex 600 will be like if I set her up 12S... Maybe I will just make her 8 or 10S? Naw... 12S! The wind had picked up a bit, and I didn't want to keep flying the HK500, so I decided to call it a day.
Tomorrow night is the Wingmasters meeting. I need to go to get a key for the electric power and learn how to turn it on. Bet you money the guy with the keys either doesn't show up, or doesn't bring the keys... I doubt I will fly, don't like flying in front of crowds of people I don't know.
Repairs on the Sbach 342 are underway. I had to repair and refinish the cowl, and painting it slowly. If it crashes again I will be done with her. I am looking at getting a 60 sized one... later.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

That's how its done!

Out to Wingmasters again this morning, and it was a blast! I was the only one there for the first hour, which was what I hoped for. Last time I flew here was the first time. I was nervous, new field, new friends. Today I took the Alpha Sport 450, my first plane, my trainer, my go-to when I get dumb thumb and loss of confidence. She did not disappoint.
I flew five packs, one after the other, practicing basic airmanship, learning the edges of the field, working to conquer the ever present cross wind. It all came back! Again and again, takeoff, landing, basic maneuvers, some basic aerobatics. Crabbing and slipping into the corsswind for sweet landings. Loved every minute of it!
By then some guys had shown up, but no problem, my confidence was back. Took the newly repaired Pulse up and flew the crap out of her. I tamed my inner beast! I decided to go back to flaps with her after coming in with spoilers, and set what had been spoilerons back to flaperons, with much more success. I am getting used to finding the runway. And... I found out where the tree that stands out at the west end of the runway really is. I was turning in when bang, it reached out and grabbed the left wing with a loud crashing bang, turning her 360 in a flat spin. The guys yelled, "You got her! You got her!" and I realized I did! She was saucering down in slo-mo. I firewalled the throttle, leveled out the control surfaces and she was still flying, coming out from under the trees! I completed the turn between the trees staying focused and clamer that I felt, and took her up to altitude checking out control. Everything seemed fine. Brought her back around, away from the tree, and landed her perfectly. Taxied over, checked her out, pulling a stem out of the elevator. A few minor dents on the left leading edge, but no damage! Took her back up and kept on flying! Sweet!
I broke out the HK500cmt, realizing I had not brought the higher C 3S 3300's I connect in series, so threw a couple of the 25C 3S 2200's together. I started her up, took her to hover and made sure I felt comfortable. Gotta love the BeastX for stability! Perfect in line disk! A bit of a breeze, total control. Took her around for a few laps, figure 8s, hands shaking like crazy, then hovered her back in for a spot on landing as the batteries waned; short flight of about 5 minutes. I counted my blessings, and put her away.
All in all, a great second day! Got my thumbs back! Next time I plan to take the cantankerous Stearman out to play.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

First day, first flight, first crash

Today I loaded up for flying! My apartment living requires I adapt to loading my car.
I took the Ultimate with its funky rudder and the Pulse which seemed fine and headed out to Wingmasters field. Met a handful of members, all with really good skills and pristine aircraft... Nice, welcoming guys!
I set up my stuff, and took the Pulse up. There was a brisk crosswind, but nothing I have not flown in before. It was like I had never flown in my life... I took off heading askew down the paved runway, and managed to putz her around in the pattern. Then well before she was due, her power started to drop off, and full throttle did not give me much. I had checked the battery before flight. I was at the wrong end of the field. I brought her around, and managed to head her into the wind, AND SHE WOULD NOT COME DOWN! I was so psyched out by my poor flying that I failed to try the spoilers. She overshot the runway and I knew I did not have enough power to go around. I put her down, not too hard, nice and flat, but the off field cabbage has big chunks in it and she tore off her landing gear, which as always rolled under her and punctured the wing, this time taking out a spar... Her battery was actually fine at 3.75V per cell. WTF.
Crap. Very first flight. Surely they think I'm a twit.
She threw the gear forward after rolling over them.
You can't tell but both wings were punctured through and through by the wheel pants flipping underneath.
Fours hours of work and she is no longer pristine, but looks pretty good:
The Tail vert stab was cracked, I think before the flight, but loosened in flight. I replaced it with one I had from a previous Pulse. I am out of 12x8 Xoar eprops, so I put a 12x6 on her. Wonder if thats a mistake? Ordering more 12x8, and it will be a while until I can fly again.
Mike, Steve, and Jon (and one other guy whose name I missed) were kind to me, and I decided to take the Ultimate up, and flew her better, but still without confidence or my usual skill, for several packs. She survived and I handled the cross wind much better. I learned to put her down on the runway, which while not particulalry narrow, required a finer degree of airmanship than landing on a wide field as I have been acustomed to. It also required better to touchdowns as the asphalt is unforgiving.
Thank goodness I did not bring a heli.
Now that I have my "first Tee jitters" behind me, hopefully my next flight will be more enjoyable!

Will it work?

Rudder straightening. I tried to get the twist out of the rudder during the repair, but it still has a wave. Between setting the frame and shrinking the cote, I got most of it straight. I set this up. Popsicle sticks and clamps overnite. Will it work? Better ideas?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Oh, the humanity!

I realized that I haven't yet shared the outcome of my move on my aircraft. The helis survived without any issues because I packed them. My airplanes were suposed to be individually wrapped and packed, and the ginormous 60 sized Hanger 9 Sopwith was to be crated. I should have watched the packing. Every plane took a hit.
The mover's truck would not start the morning after they crammed everything in, so he rented a U-Haul trailer and put what wouldn't fit into the back of a pickup...This is how my stuff came up. In the truck from Biloxi to Jackson, Mississippi. Like this from Jackson to Dayton, Ohio.

Yup, that's really how they packed them.
The rudder is wacked, and the left elevator is fractured.
Nearly every plane had damage. I repaired all of them, and they are all in flying condition, but the Hanger 9 Sopwith was badly damaged, more than shown, and the wing is torqued. It is flyable, but not in a funway, si right now its hanging on the wall in my office at work. The most damage was to the Ultimate, which I repaired tonight. Still trying to get that twisted rudder straightned out. I still need to fix the tail on the Skytrain. Bad, bad, bad.
But I packed the helis...
Arrived in perfect shape, every single one.
I charged the mover a couple hundred for the damage. The rest of my stuff got here in perfect condition, and he was already losing money on the move. I chose not to dicker with his insurance and we trimmed the bill. All fair.

Welcome to Wingmasters, Dayton, Ohio!

Well, I am settling into my apartment and my new job, and today made a trip out to Wergerzyn Gardens and the Dayton Wingmasters field. It was cloudy and a tad drafty, no one was there and the gate was locked. I marked it on my GPS, and called The Hobby Shop, which is an application center for the club, and learned I could drop by, pay my fee, show my AMA license, and receive a key to the gate. Another key, given apparently only by the club, is required to access the electric power station. So, I am charging my batteries and fixing the badly damaged Ultimate, with a plan to visit the field tomorrow and fly the Ultimate, the Pulse and a heli, weather permitting.
What I could see of the field was impressive. The grass is green and cut, the strip is dark and lined with white paint, and the building structures are clean and well kept. I don't recall seeing a closed in walled structure, but that's okay. I am not sure if there are bathrooms either.
I am really looking forward to flying tomorrow! Its been a couple of weeks, so I will take it easy. I am most nervous about bending a heli... but I really want to take one up. I hope to meet someone there!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day Before...

Took the planes down and with the ones I could removed the wings, repaired the Stearman, and flight tested the repaired HDX500, and dismantled the flight lab. Packed the helis wrapped in bubble wrap. Busy day in preparation for the movers coming tomrrow for my move to Dayton. Kinda sad...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Good nite, you Princes of Gulfport!

Last day at BMF, cloudy, gusty. Stearman put down by a microburst (wicked cool, caught as I come out over the tree tops, blew her sideways, down, up, took several trys to get her down, another gust threw her 20 feet SIDEWAYS a foot off the groung, tearing off her landing gear, again, and breaking the wing tabs. It was something else! Storm front continued to move in as I was flying the HDX 500 and she had a similar flight as the Stearman when the gusts carried her away, threw her down after carrying her away, and she ended up a pretzel. Two years with this heli, never crashed, so she was due... After the thunder storms moved off and the rains passed, things cooled down, settled down and the boys flew in fine conditions. Alas, I had broken my two aircraft, and my EXI 450 Sport had a technical issue, so I had nothing to fly... So Kenny broke out cigars and we ended the day as gentlemen! Said my goodbyes, packed up, and drove away.
HDX500se before...
and pretzeled... (Already fixed, pics tomorrow).
Yeah, sexy and we know it...
Kenny and Ken

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CopterX 250 Tarot ZYX Redux

This evening I completed the build, and the programming of the Tarot ZYX stabilization system on my CopterX 250. She is tiny, and she is now flybarless... She was a lot to handle before, as I was just learning. I am hoping that with my developing flight skills and the stabilization system she will be much more settled down. Tomorrow I shall find out!
She seems heavy. Her CG is good, but I did have to move the ESC to the side, out from under the battery tray. The canopy doesn't come all the way back, so I used rubber bands to secure it. I chose to use a voltage regulator instead of the installed BEC on the RSC as I am driving digital servos and the Tarot ZYX, so I wanted more than 2 amps. I don't know if it is necessary, but it works for me.
Did I mention I hate Torx screws?
There were just so damn many wires...