Radio Controlled flying is not just a hobby for me - it's almost like a religion! No, I don't worship my airplanes, or any other "false idols", but I have sacrificed a few nice planes to the evil god Terra Firma!
So here we are in August 2012 and we are doing a really cool contest where the prize is a MiniBipe from our friends over at SlowBipe.com. All you need to do to enter this contest is to share with us your favorite RC Tips. Some of the tips that we have received are best described with pictures, so I am putting up a couple of those here.
The first one comes to us from our friend Korey...
DIY FPV GOGGLES
Picked this up off FPVlab and am currently in the process of building my own pair but thought i would submit it for the tip/trick contest you have going on right now.
This is perfect for people who have CNC foam cutters
3.5" mini TFT LCD monitor 640x480 resolution (commonly found on ebay for about $20 under backup monitors for cars)
AV cords male - male (adapt the screen to your Video RX
Most people are cutting goggles out of EPP foam or building something off existing ski goggle. The screen sits at the back with the magnifier about and inch in front of it. Clarity is great, personally i plan on using these for ride alongs as they go black screen when they lose signal but you really cant beat this for about $30 invested.
Images attached are from the originator of this setup.
Here’s a tip for flexible placement of lipo batteries in rc planes where the battery needs to be placed in an inaccessible location. I used this while building several different sizes of foam F-117s, which require the battery to be placed far forward in the fuselage where it’s impractical to have the usual Velcro and tie downs as one can’t reach there. It’s a battery tray of sorts, but bit difficult to describe so I’ve attached pictures.
The battery is attached to a light plywood stick with a Velcro tie down glued at one end of the stick (battery end). At the other end there is a Velcro strip on the bottom of the stick (anchor end). My sticks are 7” to 12” in length.
In the fuselage are one or two light ply fixtures, depending on the size of the battery and the plane. The forward receiver is an open box with a pocket in the bottom, and the aft anchor plate is a ply square with Velcro on the top and a Velcro strap passed through slots in the ply. The forward receiver is glued down in front of the most forward battery position, and the aft plate along the midline far enough back to mate with the end of the battery ply stick. To mount the battery in the fuselage, attach the battery to the stick and insert the “battery end” of the stick into the pocket in the lower part of the receiver. Attach the “anchor end” to the Velcro on the aft anchor plate, and secure it with the Velcro tie down.
The high sides of the forward receiver in the picture hold the battery stable from side to side, and forward-aft movement is constrained by the anchor plate. For smaller models, the forward receiver need be only a ply pocket without high sides, and the aft anchor plate can be replaced with a piece of Velcro on the fuse bottom. If needed, the battery can be shifted aft (down the stick) to adjust the center of gravity.
I received the email below a few days ago and I just had to share it with everyone! Anatoly shares some great tips for the first-time balsa builder...
About five years ago, I helped a friend assemble an ARF. I guess he noticed my skill, because he suggested that I should build my own plane. Having just started in this hobby myself, I immediately thought "balsa" and "crash == pile of toothpicks", until I learned how easy it was to build with and repair foam.
Your eQSC build last year got me thinking about balsa again, and I probably would have built one if I didn't already have a very similar foamie in my hangar. (Plus I was already working on my 55" Edge 540T foamie at the time; photo attached.) But I always knew that a balsa build was in my future.
In late July, I listened to the very first episode of the RC Today Show (formerly Inside Heli) where JustPlaneChris was talking about how he got into discus launch gliders, and he specifically mentioned a thread on rcgroups that had free plans for a balsa DLG, the MiMi. (http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=840763) After carefully reading through that thread, I decided I wanted to learn about DLGs, and that this would be my first balsa build.
There are two versions of the MiMi plans, one for a solid wing, and one for a built-up wing. I wanted to learn how to cover, so I made the built-up wing. I cut everything by hand, and built the airframe over a period of about 4 weeks, working 1-2 hours each night. The maiden was over Columbus Day weekend. (photos attached) I still have to work on my launch technique, and need more time to trim it out, but it flies very well!
Because I learned so much from the experience, I wanted to share a few of those things with your listeners. Maybe I should call this "balsa tips for foamie builders".
First, I wanted to make sure I had the right tools to make the process as easy as possible. I already had some tools from working with foam, but I found this site (http://pldaniels.com/flying/balsa/index.html) that has a lot of good information about working with balsa. I got several of the recommended tools -- razor saw, razor plane, and balsa stripper -- and found all of them very useful during my build.
One big thing I didn't know, which I learned from the folks in the MiMi thread, is how much variance there is in balsa density. Since the MiMi was supposed to come in at a particular target weight to get the desired performance, I wanted to get the lightest balsa I could find, so I bought a cheap 0.1g resolution digital pocket scale that I could take with me to the store. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001M5Q3YO) At first I felt a little silly sitting in aisle weighing every piece of balsa, but it really helped a lot, because in some cases there was as much as a 50% difference in weight between sheets of balsa of the same size!
Next: CA tips! I rarely used CA in my foam builds, so I didn't know how helpful CA tips are. This was also my first time using thin CA, which I often managed to get all over my fingers. So when I ordered the So-Lite covering (from one of your favorite shops, Radical RC) I added a package of CA tips to the cart, and found them invaluable.
Last item: I found a great covering tutorial on rcgroups. (http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=711624) In particular, the heat-and-pull technique for getting the covering around compound curves was easy to learn, and very necessary in my case because of the curved wingtips. I also bought a digital thermometer http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002YE3FS4) for making sure my iron was at the right temperature for covering and shrinking. Then I overcame my initial fear of covering by first building a simple test frame out of scrap balsa, and covering that. Afterwards, the covering job on the wing was pretty easy; I just took my time with it over a couple of nights.
My total cost for this airframe, not including electronics, was under $50, and I still have balsa and So-Lite left over for my next build. I very much enjoyed working with balsa for the first time, so I'm already on the lookout for something to build over the winter months.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share these tips with us, Anatoly (as well as the pictures - that MiMi turned out GREAT!).
Something worth emphasizing in your email is how much this project cost you. In these trying economic times, those folks with "strained wallets" might find themselves left out of all of the fun. However, scratch-building offers up some serious cost-savings that might allow some to stay in the game.
Balsa, Foam. or Corruplast - get out and build something!
Night Flying at SEFF - It's easier than you think!
Written by JohnB
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 10:17
I had seen a few articles around night flying and lighting up your aircraft, but it just seemed like a novelty that would quickly wear off. Well, I'm here to tell you it's the neatest thing I've ever seen! It's like watching a fireworks display that just doesn't stop.
I had the pleasure of attending this year's SEFF for a few days, and the night flying every night was one of the highlights of the event (and that's saying quite a bit, as I was walking around most of the time drooling at just about everything!).
What really amazed me was the creativity of the designs.
What's making night flying attractive is the availability of LED "strips" that can be cut to length and wired together into designs that are limited only by your imagination. I also saw extremely talented folks hand-wiring their designs into their aircraft, and some that actually incorporated their lighting into the airframe before they covered it! This gives a unique look to the lighting.
It's amazing how well the planes show up with these LED strips. This plane is covered in white LED's and it's pitch dark out. You can see how well it shows up, and there was no problem controlling it whatsoever.
What's it cost? As with anything, you can spend as little or as much as you can afford (LOL!). In keeping with the Quick/Simple/Cheap (QSC) concept, I didn't want to start with the $100+ controllers that do everything but make your evening coffee. Instead, let's keep it simple (and cheap!).
The simplest and cheapest is to simply tie your LED strips into your main motor battery (tap in to 2S for regular brightness or 3S for very bright). 4S is too much and WILL burn out a standard 12v LED strip quickly!
Basically, the diagram looks something like this:
A simple way to tie in would be to use a couple of your standard main battery connectors (Deans Ultra's shown) and make an in-line "tap" with a power lead for the LED strips as shown. A 2 battery "Y" connector would work nicely if you have one of those lying around.
A word of caution, before you start grabbing that 30 guage wire you might have laying around. A 1 meter LED strip will take about 380-400ma to light. So if you use 4 strips, you are at about 1 1/2 amps. I wouldn't use anything smaller than 18-22 guage stranded wire for your main LED power leads going to the strips. The controller board driver FET's that I'm using in my design below are each good for more than 30A (should be more than enough (LOL!)) and don't even get warm.
When the lights are turned off via the controller, there is ZERO current draw (ok, about 50 nano amps, but you get the idea).
I wanted to keep the circuit as simple as possible, but still provide the basics of an LED controller beyond the absolute simplicity of just either plugging the strips in (for ON) or leaving them unplugged (for OFF). The circuit has the following "features":
Plugs in to any RC channel and has a pass through so you don't lose a channel.
CH5 (gear) is the logical choice if you have it free. This will give you the basic ON-OFF functionality.
If you can assign a 3 position switch to CH5, then you will be able to turn off, turn on, or blink the main lights.
The "strobe" output flashes either about once a second or a double flash depending on where you put the jumper on the board.
The programming pins are available on the board in case you have a PIC programmer and want to write your own program or modify mine.
There are 5 sets of main light outputs, and 4 sets of strobe outputs, but you can put multiple strings on each output, so the only limit is the size of your battery!
The bare board actually has four circuit boards on it, that need to be cut apart. The completed board shows that it will fit in just about any size model. It's about the size of a 20A ESC.
This is a couple shots of the lights on and a quick video of the board in operation.
The files and program are available. If you need a programmed chip, or want a board, drop us a line, and if there is enough interest, we'll make them available. These are obviously super for multi-rotor craft as well!
If there is further interest in this type of circuit, I'm looking at making it a surface mount board with an additional channel. This would give you a few additional options in the light pattern (example, Body and wing lights lit, wing tip lights flashing, strobe lights double flashing, etc). Let me know if you have any ideas!
Now, get out there and let's see how many "UFO sightings" we can generate!
EDITOR'S NOTE: John has shared his ExpressPCB files with us HERE in case you would like to order your own boards to build for this project.
You'll wanna check out this page from time to time, as this is where I'll be putting little hints and tips that I've found work well in either CNC'ing with your PhlatPrinter, or anything that is RC-related.
Quite often I get emails from listeners of the podcast wanting some advice on some aspect of either of the two hobbies. I don't think it's right to make someone that is in need of information wait until the airing of the next show, so I usually just send them a detailed email with some potential solutions to their problems. The problem with doing things this way is that I usually forget to talk about it on the show, thus missing the opportunity to spread the knowledge to others in the RC Community that might benefit.
That being said, here is the area that I'll be parking information that I have shared with people!
Okay, so that's not really much of a tip, seeing as how there's no other information here right now, but it will be after the site is fully developed!