A practical approach to RC planes
Category Archives: RC Plane
August 17, 2013Posted by on
Today Austin and I started the rebuild of my old EDF TwinStar II. Back in 2011 Todd’s Frankenplane and the TwinStar EDF had a mid air collision on it’s first full day of flight. The only damage was from a direct prop slice on the left aileron. You can see the collision here (1:20 into the video).
Even with the direct hit I had no problem bringing her in for a safe landing. SInce then I’ve had it a handful more times with a horrific looking field repair including ripped cardboard and tape.
Here you can see the prop slices in what remains of the aileron. A good inch and a half is missing and another 5 inches torn. The hinge is completely pulled away for about 7 inches.
First the section of damaged aileron was cut off and a matching section cut from a spare TwinStar wing.
From here we hot glued the new section in. A super thin line of glue along the hinge edge and a glob on the end. After paint the hinge will be reenforced with packing tape.
In the spirit of salvaging and rebuilding we dug out the old Coast Guard TwinStar that crashed after the elevator servo stripped while inverted. This old plane had a ton of flight hours on it. Amazingly the landing gear held up even thou it was just held on by sandwiching the foam belly between the gear and a section of balsa.
So we pulled out the poor man’s landing gear leaving plenty of cleanup. (In a future build I return to the landing gear mod for the TwinStar II with fully laser cut balsa subframe. But more to come on that on another day)
Then we decided to paint the wings to match the fuselage with matching red and blue stripes.
We finished up the day with matching stripes on the right wing. Next up is to reinstall the electronics, patch up the holes in the belly, and head out for some test flights! As soon as we have this bird back in the air we’ll be sure to post about it.
August 9, 2013Posted by on
Tonight was spent printing the last of the parts for the new quad. I still have a few hours of assembly and testing before a scheduled test flight at old Delps Airfield tomorrow. So for now it’s just a quick post and back to work. I can’t wait to write up the full build and share the first flights!
June 26, 2013Posted by on
If you haven’t done so already, take a look at our YouTube Channel. It is filled with build videos, flight footage, and a ton multimedia odds and ends. One of our more popular videos is our Ardupilot telemetry synced with FPV video. Check it out HERE and if you enjoy it please let us know with your subscription!
May 31, 2013Posted by on
Late last week (before the F22 CAD craziness) I continued the build of the new quad. It went fairly straight forward and smoothly. I used an old CD case as a base of the build. Scavenging old hardware and spare parts I added no cost the build. The airframe build time came in just under 2 hours.
First round of bolts and everything is rock solid.
A big part of the DIY ethnology is reusing old stuff in new and innovative ways. It much like the old saying: One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
With the board centrally mounted there is still a ton of room to run the motor, ESC, and battery leads. But this if going to require a bit of cutting through the deck of the CD case.
I am really happy with the outcome. The CD case turned out to be a great clean compact base to build upon. I still need to come up with an anti-vibration solution for the Ardupilot. Please post any ideas in the comments below.
Next up is all the wiring of motors and ESCs. With any luck the first flight will be only a week or two away 🙂 The real question will be will it lift my GoPro?!?
Follow the full build process from the beginning:
May 28, 2013Posted by on
What I found was quite amazing. The airframe is horribly lopsided. The dimensions lack any consistency in symmetry from the left to the right. It’s as if the designer free-handed the whole plane. I’m really disappointed in 6mmFlyRC. I know they give their plans away for free but that is no reason to half-ass the design.
I guess I’ll just have to draw up my design from scratch…. As always I’ll share my design and work as it progresses.
I best crack open another beer and fire up a clean Solidworks file.
May 11, 2013Posted by on
Today brought more rain and more time indoors. It also brought and opportunity to add some artistic touches to my original F22 Foamie.
My girlfiend’s son received a Crayola marker airbrush kit for his birthday this year. So while we had it out we took the time to stencil my nearby plane. We started with a test run on a scrap of paper. Then onto the plane. The results look fierce!
May 8, 2013Posted by on
Last week I finished cutting all of the foam and this past Sunday afternoon I assembled the main airframe. So let’s review.
Step Three: Airframe Assembly
Before gluing down the FK airfoil cut a 45 degree angel on the leafing edges of the narrow forward section. It’s much easier to do now before it’s glued in place.
Staring with the main airframe glue the KF airfoil in place. Focus on aligning the leading wing edges. Any hangover on the wing tips can be trimmed as soon as the glue drys.
The next step is to cut the leading edges of the wing. With a NEW blade cut near a 45 degree angle through both the main deck and the FK airfoil. Use a straight edge for best results.
The next step is to attach the upper and lower vertical sections.
Once in place start test fitting all of the lower structure. Take your time to make sure everything fits snugly and aligns true.
I’ve come to love the zippy 4000 mah 4 cell batteries. The pack a punch, give decent 16-20 minute flight time, and are a good weight for this airframe. So on this build I decided to build a custom battery holder in the main cavity.
Cutting the lower vertical to fit the battery I then build guides for the sides of the battery. Finally I tied it all together with the lower deck.
It’s now time to glue the runners and lower deck into place. It’s great to have an extra set of hands to hold it all together. Also don’t be afraid to toque the runners inward to meet the lower deck. This will give you a firm solid fix.
Find some heavy objects to hold it all together and let the rig rest for 10-15 minutes. During this time the glue will harden and set.
At this moment I took time to cutout the control surfaces on the tail, add some camo duck tape details, and then glued on the verticals. Take a scrap of foam and cut a 60 degree angle to help old the tail verticals in place. Keep this template for future builds.
Step back and enjoy. The final airframe looks great.
Next week we’ll move onto building the motor mount and control surface linkage.
May 3, 2013Posted by on
One of my favorite scratch built planes is 6mmRC’s F22. This easy to build, cheap, light aircraft is a blast to fly. Over the next few posts I’ll be taking the time to document the build process. We’ll start with my version of modified plans and walk through the full process to the first flight. So lets get started.
Living in an apartment in Brooklyn adds some extra challenges to the process but highlights the limited space needed for the build. Currently all my build magic takes place on the kitchen counter. Not a glamorous workshop or hobby space by any mean but functional in all the right ways.
What you’ll need to build your airframe:
- Foam board – easily available in most craft stores; I like to use Staples 40×30 inch board as I can cut all of the parts from a single sheet. 1 Sheet = 1 Plane; approximately $7
- Exacto knife and blades – I use cheap knifes and #11 blades. Nothing fancy here
- Cutting surface – hobby cutting board (not needed but really extends the life of your blades)
- Hot glue gun – steal you moms or get your own; the whole plane is held together with hot glue
- Plans – Download your a few and see what you like. I recommend these plans for a first go at a scratch built plane; but I’ll be using these plans from this build (6mmFlyRC.com).
Step One: Print/cut out plans
Assuming you have downloaded and/or modified your plans print them. I recommend taking the files to Kinkos or Staples and having them printed to scale on one sheet. This allows you to cut them into single reusable stencils used to mark the foam board. And only cost about $5.
Take extra time to cut each stencil with care. The more accurate you are from the start the easier the entire build and repair process will be for the life of the plane.
Note :when cutting the interior slots the plans are created for a certain thickness material. Foam board is much thiner than the 6mm Depron foam intended to be used in the default plans. Cutting too wide of slots leads to a need of excess glue and therefore excess weight on your airframe. Mark and cut the thicknesses using a scrap of foam board.
I have spent much of my time modifying the plans. With revisions after each build I can tighten tolerances, add additional adjustments, and cleanup the plans. I am currently at version 6 which includes corrected slot sizes for staples foam board, modifications to accommodate a new enhanced motor mount, enhanced battery protection, KFm2 Step airfoil, servo installation points, CG markings, and electronic placement indicators. In a future post I’ll share these plans, highlight these enhancements, and show the software I use to keep it all up to date.
Step Two: Mark and cut all foam parts
The key here is to take your time and use sharp blades. Typically I go thought 2 blades just cutting out all of the parts. Then another 2-3 cutting and fitting all the parts together and a brand new blade for cutting the final wing edges.
Tech Tip: Mark the coroners of your plans only with a pen and use a straight edge to cut from mark to mark. Marking full lengths and free hand cutting makes for a very unfinished look.
Once you have all the parts cut. Start to align the upper and lower vertical parts. Taking time to trim until there is a nice solid fit.
Next week we will move on to fitting all of the pieces together.
CHeck out part two here
April 30, 2013Posted by on
Over the past few years there has been an explosion of RC ParkJets. Many manufacturers have started selling EPO foam EDF jets. These beautiful planes come fully loaded with details. Scale decals and paint, armaments, landing gear that all add up to truly realistic scale fighter jets. Unfortunately it also adds up to an expensive, underpowered plane with horrible flight characteristics. Now there are a ton of sites that can help you buy one of these jets and mod them to be stable reliable birds.
But there is another option for awesome ParkJet fun: Home built or DIY Foamies. There are a plethora of plans out there on the web. Sites like 6mmflyrc.com, RCPowers.com, and flitetest.com all have free plans. I’ve built about 15 ParkJet foamies to date and have found a platform that I love. Starting with 6mm fly RC’s F22 plans I have modified them through a few versions to come up with my own plans. Each build hones my building skills, improves the plans, which increases performance, reliability, and enjoyment.
Built from light, durable, and easy to obtain foam board, these airframes are cheap to build. With a total DIY airframes cost around $5-$8. Add in control surface hardware, 9 gram servos, cheap motor, ESC, and receiver you can build a ready to fly plane for under $45.
Not only have a built a number of these beauties I have also crashed a bunch of them. And I can attest they really do hold up well. Often in small or light impacts no repair is needed. For harder hits sections of the plan can be cut off, replacement panels constructed, and then re-glued into place. Also the box-like design naturally protects the electronics, motors, and batteries from nose first “landings”.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting a complete build process of my tweaked F22 design. Followed by some first flight posts focused on trimming and tuning. Finally some flight footage of the new plane.
April 16, 2013Posted by on
This past winter I had this crazy idea to make a no-budget documentary on RC flight. A timeline of a novice building up to an experienced pilot. Using my beloved GoPro cameras I have a pile of video from my first flights to today.
I quickly tossed together a trailer. In the end it just turned into funny clip and inside jokes but who knows maybe someday.
Tell us what you think.