The flying monkeys got me...

Helis and fixed wing

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dead Castle Phoenix Edge HV 80 ESC

As you know I've been building the Trex 600 EFL I put parts together for almost 2.5 years ago. I am almost done, and today installed the Spektrum AR7200BX FBL/Receiver system, the BEC, and set up the programming (more on that later).

I then pulled the new-in-box Castle Phoenix Edge HV 80 ESC from its box, and installed the connectors on both ends. I then attached the Castle Programming Card, and used a single 6S battery, and... nothing. I tried a 12S and nothing. I downloaded the latest version of the Castle Link software and connected it to the ESC via computer, and nada. I used the Castle Program Card and connected the USB to the computer, nada. I used the Castle Link Connector to the ESC and computer, and still nada. I had already bound the receiver, so I plugged in the ESC as if for flight, and when I connected the battery as 12S, nada, no tones, no response to throttle. This ESC is non-functioning right out of the box. I have beenusing the same ESC on my other 600 for years, and its worked fine (it came with it).

I wasn't going to go with Castle, after hearing and seeing some spectacular fires, but I had heard on the blogs and Helifreak that they had pretty much become a thing of the past (though a SNHRCC member just flamed one and a plane a couple of months ago). This is disappointing.

I've submitted a repair request to Castle, so we'll see what happens (called, but they had closed). I don't have the receipt (a couple of moves, one loses things). It may be a $170 brick...

The only other issue is that in programming the BeastX at Point J where you set 6 degrees of aileron input and it determines the adequacy of the geometry, I got a fault (red or purple light). This is fully stock in set up, and the geometry is fine, so I have no idea how to address this. Working on it.
- UPDATE (9/29/16): Had some time last night and went back, moved the control balls on the pitch and aileron servos from the outer point to the inner point and got the blue light of happiness. Curious how that little change made a difference.

Sitting pretty, waiting for the Castle ESC issue to resolve.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Trex 600 EFL Pro Build Update

An update on the Trex 600 EFL. The pinion for the motor came in from AMainhobbies a couple of days ago, so I installed it and the motor back then. Servos have been in a few days before that. Today I finished up the elevator transfer mechanism, the entire tube driven tail assembly, the main rotor and the main gear installation including the control rods for the swash.  All that is left are the electronics including setting up the Spektrum-BeastX FBL system, and the tail stays.

Servos in.

Almost done!

Earlier I took the Trex 600e and the Trex 500(HK) and the Frankenheli 450 out. 

The 600 still has a tracking problem I could not fix. I think its the feathering shaft or bad dampers, so I will replace them and see how she tracks then. I flew a couple of figure 8s and decided to drop the expo to 25.

The 500 has a BeastX on it. When I had the 4 blade head on her she pretzeled herself just starting her up. This time her head spun up fine but when it got up to full speed the disk went uncommanded hard right roll. I was ready for it expecting something wacky, but still broke a blade.  Need to figure that out.

The 450 has a persistent inconsistent ESC problem. Got the continuous-beeps-of-death. Will replace the ESC and try again.


Perfect maiden weather.

I took the VQ Models P-51 Mustang that I finished rebuilding months ago out for a first flight. OMG, what a flier! Power! Grace! Control! Balance! Speed! Acrobatic! Stable! Flying 6S she was an absolute pleasure from takeoff, to the lack of any trim needed, into advanced spins, rolls, inverted flight! Everything works! Landing gear go up, go down, do up and down again!

Brought her down in a Bahgdad Spiral and lined her up for a landing. She comes in with a lot of speed, we'll bleed some off in level flight a foot off the ground.

BAM! Right into the fucking soccer goal. Are you f%*#ing kidding me?

She needs a new wing, replace two prop blades, replace the landing gear, that's it. Fuse is without a blemish.  Two warbird maidens, two amazing first flights, two bad crashes.

I've emailed VQ Models to see if they can help me find a replacemrnt wing. This model has been discontinued...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Big Stick Ain't Ugly No Mo'!

Me and the RCGF-USA 10cc Big Stick flew the crap out of each other today! Dialed in differential for the ailerons and increased the limits on the ailerons. We are getting along just fine! Fast, slow, high, low. I did have to tune her again to keep the idle from stalling. Hopefully for the last time.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Align Trex 600efl Heli Project

About 2.5 years ago I accidentally bought a Trex 600efl Super Combo without the electronics for about 1/3 of the Super Combo price. At the time I didn't know that stripping the electronics out to sell separately was a thing on eBay, but shortly after I bought it I read the rather clear print indicating that it was sold that way. It took another year or so before I bought all the electronics at once because I could. That was over 2 yrs ago. I picked up the Spektrum AR7200bx Flybarless BeastX with a Spektrum DSMX 7 channel receiver, all Align Digital servos DS615s on the swash and a DS655 on the tail. A Castle 80A HV ESC for the Scorpion HK-3536-510kv motor.

I've opened the boxes a couple of times, but never committed to the build.

This morning I brought out the boxes from the corner where they have been gathering dust and set out the parts for inventory. There was a moment of panic when I thought the seller had removed the rotor head and swash plate. I looked everywhere, no bag of parts for the head... I was pissed, I should have opened the box completely a couple of years ago, or did I? I couldn't recall, but if I had surely I would have noticed the missing parts. I looked online, and I was going to be out about $100 at least. I just didn't feel like spending the money, having just dropped a lot on the 26cc engine and the Waco F5C (more on that later).

I went to toss out the boxes and it just felt wrong, so I reopened it and as I went through the smaller boxes in the kit, I found it. It was in the box marked clearly for the 3GX, and on the edge something about the head. There is was. Happy dance!  It would turn out that the only thing I am missing is the 13T pinion and the mounting screws for the motor, as these were likely in the bag containing the original motor. I ordered a helical 13T pinion from the boys at AMainHobbies for $8.

So I started the build.

Took apart and rebuilt the rotor head with Locktite. The main bearings were well greased.

The frame comes in many pieces and connectors, screws and bars. I have the frame ready for installation of the servos, and will build and install the tail assembly tomorrow. I will likely install the electronics, awaiting the pinion before being able to install the motor. This is going faster than I expected.

Yesterday and the day before I installed the new tail control assembly on the Trex 500e, and completed the see-saw installation on the Trex 600e, and replaced the receiver on the Frankenheli 450 with an HK Orange DSM2. All of my existing heli's are flight ready except for one 450 that needs some programming and its tail belt to be replaced.

Tomorrow, we build some more.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

BANG! Trigger pulled Waco F5C

Probably the most beautiful plane out there, today I ordered my Phoenix Models F5C Waco from Tower Hobbies!  I am working on getting a used RCGF 26cc gas engine for her.  It will take me a bit to get all of the other requried parts. PSYCH!

Trex 600 Cage fixed, Sukhoi Perfected

Good day.

The parts for the Trex 600 flybar see-saw came in from HeliDirect today. Easy install. I pulled the build guide out and realized I had built the head incorrectly last time, having several linkages reversed. In addition to rebuilding the flybar cage I reorganized the linkages. The head is back together. Time to check the CCPM and fly.

This afternoon I took the 10cc Sukhoi out and she flew great. Put in some aileron differential, brought down the idle. Impracticed landings and got a couple good long flights in before the Bedford Soccer team areived and I had to leave.

A good day indeed.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Trex 600 Flybar See-Saw Arm Issue

I took the Trex 600 Flybar up today. It seemed odd that I could not get the tracking of the main blades to hold in flight, they went way off one another, but at zero pitch they matched. During the flight I suddenly developed very wishy-washy control and auto'd her to a lamding.

On inspection of the head she had thrown the see-saw screw and flange bearing... This was the same thing that happened before and I thought repaired. I took the entire flybar cage apart and found that theatttachment for see-saw screw that secures the flange bearing is stripped. It barely holds the screw. It seems snug, but a gentle tug pulls it. I need to replace the see-saw.

Parts for the flybarred Trex 600 main rotor system are getting very hard to find. You can't find a replacment head. Even HeliDirect is NIS for many of the parts, but I did find a new see-saw, but got the last of their replacment flange bearings. I am about to start the build on my Trex 600 EFL, so really dont want to conver this one to flybarless. I really like the old school flybarred heli.

Friday, September 9, 2016

I'm not afraid of no wind...

But flying, that still scares me.

I flew more flights than ever today in a light gusty wind out at Joppa that grounded a pair of Timber drivers for whom it was too much. I took the 30cc MXS-R up and trimmed her out a bit. She still rolls with full elelvator at high rates, even though I now have the elevators tracking precisely. I need to learn to throw in a aileron mix on my DX8 to take the right roll out. Its kinda disorienting when she comes out.

Clearly have my landing mojo back, all perfect.

But I still shook like a leaf and held my breath for the entire first few flights...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Replaced Prop Hub Assembly

Flying with Gary Hoffman the other day out at Joppa Field as he was helping me get my windy day mojo back, I mentioned that I had snapped off a prop mounting screw in the prop assembly hub of my DLE 30. He noted this was an easy fix, about $20. Later he sent me link for the part ffrom Valley View, $21. I ordered it and today in 20 minutes it was installed.

Old prop hub assembly off. Took some oomph...

New prop hub assembly on.

That was easy!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Solid flight, solid flier.

It kept calling so I finally gave is and headed back to Joppa Field with the Big Stick 10cc. Started her up and had to re-tune her as the idle, set fine last time in the garage, was running very high. Played with the low throttle servo limit and the needles. Same gambit of low acceptable idle would stall if running half throttle and cut to idle, try to if pulling back from full. When pulled to idle it dips briefly and rebounds to idle. If it dips too far she quits. Found a nice balance where the idle and the needles are all happy, though the idle is still a tad high. The engine runs a bit rich in the mid range and maybe a little at full throttle but leaning out the high drops the rpm, and she needs all she can get. She flies solid, is so incredibly stable on landing, but loses velocity in vertical. She flies sport just fine, is fast, but lacks power. A 15cc motor would do well on her. I flew for a tank and a half to an audience of a family that I then invited down from the parking lot for show, touch and tell. The kids loved it! I put her through some simple aerobatics and when he called out hoping to see her land I brought her down for a sweet one. She comes in on rails!

I love this plane! With some more time she will be very predictable.

The engine running for 7 seconds. Doesn't sound too bad for a gasser.

Road flying and Rockets

I got it in me to try flying off the road at Joppa Hill Fields. Across from the sports fields is a huge field they just mow once or twice a year and do nothing else with. I wondered last night if I could take off and land from the road and fly over the field. Turns out yes, quite easily. I parked at the lot entrance, and would walk my plane or taxi to the main road, and take off, walk across the street to the field and fly, reversing the process on landing. Of course the traffic, normally sparse, picked up. I brought Luke along as a car spotter. It worked out pretty well, but I would need a spotter as its impossible to fly and check the road for cars, bikes and people. I meant to have him video, but forgot to ask. I found it was best if he gave me a running description of the traffic while I was flying, which was no fun for him. If I decide to do this again I will need a spotter.

I was doing this flying the new HobbyKing Edge 540 EPP, and pulled a blender into an inside loop and the right wing came clean off. It was kinda cool as it didn't just drop out of the sky. The wing fluttered down and the rest came down in a slowish roll that impressed even Luke.

Of course nothing survived of the airframe... When I get home I'll take a closer look at the electronics. The battery is toast.

With that done, Luke and I launched rockets for a couple of hours. We went through a package of dud igniters (not enough of the burny stuff to ignite the motor), but got in over a dozen awesome launches. The Bulldog likes to arc, I think by design with the weight they have you put in the nose, and the Crossfire reaches at least 1000 feet, or so it seems. All came down, with some trajectory managment, on the field.

I'm walking back from a recovery, Luke is preparing another launch.

Luke waiting for the gust to drop.

My favorite is the USAF Bulldog.

I maidened the Slipstream Extra 540 with the Stabilizer system and she flew very nicely! I had found a nice patch of dead grass without clumps to fly off and land on. It was a touch gusty, and by then we'd knocked a fin or two off, and burned out one parachute, so called it a day after a single flight. The 12x6 worked fine, will probably keep it on.

Other than the Edge committing seppuku, it was a nice day. May go out later with the Ugly Stick. I had been eyeing the Hobbyking 1200mm Sbach EPP made the same way this one is, but with how easily this one came apart I think not...

Friday, September 2, 2016

Slipstream Extra 540 EP 450 Done

Today the Emax GT2218/09 motor arrived today from HeadsUpRC today, always quick shipping. I installed it with only one issue: the mounting screws are not included and the M4's I started with were a little longer than I needed so that trapped the outrunner. I replaced them and the motor runs fine. Other than that, it went well for once.

By the way, looks like Hobbypartz is sending me a replacement servo for the D654 that arrived non-functioning! Sweet.

Its AUW was 2.2 lbs. With a 10x6 APC prop and a 3S it pulled 260W something like 24A, not what I wanted. I put a 12x6 APC on it and its pulling 363W and 32 amps. Now that's what I am talking about!

Looking forward to the maiden (realize I still haven't maidened the Mustang...)!

This is a big 450 motor... and the requisite long shaft to get past the firewall.

The motor mount is installed. This whole plane is light and fragile.

All done.

Sweet lines!

So, Gary, how long before I bend it?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Slipstream Extra 540 1000 mm 450 size

(Gary Hoffman pointed out to me this is a Extra, not an Edge).

A few weeks ago I bought a Slipstream Extra 540 450 size (you won't find a link, I think they don't make it anymore), an Eflite 450 motor and a Castle 35A ESC from my friend Gary Hoffman. It was lived in by a chipmunk, both other than that was new and unbuilt. I bought it as I was looking for a light weight plane to toss around (when I got my Hobbyking Edge). I can't program the ESC (tried using both my Castle program card, and my Hobbywing program card.

I finally ordered the servos (see my last post), and set about putting this thing together. It came with the Chinglish instructions on CD which weren't very helpful. Its a nice plane, but its very light and I think not long for this world for being so fragile.

The only annoying thing about this plane is the motor box. Its designed such that the firewall is immediately at the end of the cowl. Its not the easiest design to work with as it requires the shaft pass through the firewall so it needs to be longer, usually requiring replacing the shaft with a longer one if its not designed to fit this way. The Eflite motor isn't, so its shaft is too short. I tried changing it to a longer one, but it would not run, and on replacing the shaft I found it wound not run. I did when I first set it up to test the Castle ESC and the motor, so I have somehow bricked it. I have changed a lot of shafts from my early flying days, and with the original shaft the motor manually turns clean, but it just sits and jitters like its out of sync... I looked, the inside of the outrunner has no metal parts stuck in there, the connections are good, and it doesn't matter what ESC I use. I also tried the motor on other ESCs.

I purchased an Emax GT2218/09 1100kv motor from HeadsUpRC, my go to electric motor guys. This is a powerful 450 sized motor, generating 300W on a 3S battery with about a 10x6 prop. This plane come in under 2 lbs AUW, so this will be very nicely powered. Its designed for both through the firewall and standard shafting, so it should do nicely. If there are any issues I will build a new engine mount.

I used the stock tailwheel, the gear of which is flimsy, so its going to need to fly off very good grass or the Geo-tex. I did replace the tiny stock wheels with slightly larger ones, so won't be using the wheel pants.

The geometry on the ailerons is off. If you put it straight-ish like I did here, the control horn, which presses in on two plastic pins and is not screwed in, it lies at the edge of the hard point on the aileron. You can see the wrinkling of the cote where the right pin on the horn is just in the wood.

I installed the other one stock, and its angled funny, but the pins for the horn are both in solid wood.

I have everything on board except the motor mount and the motor, which should be here in a day or two. Pretty plane!

I took the 3-axis stabilizer from the Cornell, which I rarely fly, and put it in the Edge. I programmed it and its all set. One precess is to turn the gain up on each of the three axes one at a time to magnify its behavior so you can see that it responds opposite to the "unstable" movement. For example, if you roll the plane right the ailerons should move to roll it back left. There are small switches on the gyro that you move to change the direction, easily, then turn the gains down to barely move. If they are too high you'll get a lot of oscillation as airflow alone causes subtle changes in pitch, yaw and roll, most notable during a dive.

I like these 3-axis systems from Hobbyking which incorporate a Spektrum compatible receiver. For some reason they are NIS at their warehouses, so I need to wait to buy replacements.