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Topics - Deerslayer

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FPV at KRCM / A loss, with a dramatic ending!
« on: July 10, 2018, 11:41:13 AM »
"My purpose in Life is to serve as a warning to others".

Well, here is a little story which may actually have some benefit to someone else that is mucking around with FPV and perhaps other forms of RC flying.

This past Saturday, I lost my Penguin FPV plane.  :o  :'(  :'(  :'( Very disappointing, to say the least, as we watched (or more correctly, DIDN'T watch) about $800 disappear. As well as that loss, a sense of fear sets in - what if it comes down and hurts someone or causes some kind of accident due to some driver(s) becoming distracted?

In the aftermath of this loss, I did a lot of thinking and wrote down my analysis. I have now decided to share it with whoever may care to read.

Oh, by the way, a strange thing happened later that same day! ;D  ;D  ;D  ;D

 After I had left the field, a farmer named Kyle (did not leave his full name, unfortunately) showed up with my FPV plane in his possession. One of the fellows now has it and we will be reunited. I wish I knew how to locate the finder as I would like to offer some sort of reward. As well, I am curious as to just where the plane went down. All we know is that he was out working in a field and saw it land. Apparently, it was in a location where it would probably never have been observed, had he not happened to be nearby! It's a Festivus Miracle (a few months early, but I'll take it anyway).

My analysis has caused me to rethink a lot of things that I have done, or failed to do, and will now apply to this and other FPV (and soaring) flights from now on.

I made a  number of mistakes. The bottom line was - Complacency! Things had been going too smoothly for us and I lost my "edge". Perhaps that edge is a bit duller that I would like to think?

1. My Vector controller has been flaky w.r.t. retaining its GPS-based Home position. I could not figure out why. Again yesterday, after I powered up, it found the satellites and set its Home. Great. Then, just before launch, it reported that it had lost that lock. I should have stopped right then and got it reset - open up the plane, recycle power, etc., bit of a pain. Instead, I flew, knowing that RTH was not likely to work. Besides, I was only going to be flying close to home and with an experienced spotter. What could go wrong?

2. I have not been testing RTH recently, even if the Home fix was believed to be OK, as I had been keeping fairly close to the field. For FPV, this should really be tested EVERY flight. Similarly for the Loiter mode on the Vector. This would also make it more likely that, in a panic situation, I would think to use one or both of these modes. That is why you practice emergency actions in fullsize aircraft, even as simply touching any control or item which may suddenly become very important to activate.  I did eventually try Loiter, after the plane had disappeared but far too late. I never even considered RTH, even though it MIGHT have worked - I will never know.

3. The Vector is quite complex and I have been learning/trying various features over time - a rather slow learner here! I never did set up Failsafe such that it invokes RTH. There are different approaches to setting this up, and I could not decide upon the best strategy. In fact, I just figured out how to do it. I even had my little procedure in my book of field notes and was thinking of testing it yesterday . But, I got enthusiastic and Dumb! The downside of having such a capable and complex system is that you can easily lose track of the fundamentals.

4. I lost Situational Awareness during a great flight. I realized too late that I was flying too high to expect you to keep the plane in constant sight. A couple of times, my spotter mentioned having difficulty in locating it, mostly due to sun glare, but I got preoccupied with the video getting fuzzy and I locked into that problem. Note: the 5.8 GHz video link has MUCH shorter range than our 2.4 GHz control link. I lost track of where I was, becoming further distracted by the video issue while circling to try to locate familiar landmarks. We got concerned about being too far out, downwind and possibly too low. I was trying to fly back home, as I knew the general sector in which I was flying. I did not realize that I was probably in a strong thermal. the Vector was reporting about 1000 feet AGL, which would still have been well below cloudbase but near the limit of visual location. Cloudbase was likely at 3000 feet AGL or higher, but condensation can begin to form much lower, further obscuring things, especially as we get drifted downwind.

5. I completely lost video and my spotter lost direct visual contact at about the same time. I delayed much too long in giving up on the video, hoping it would return and perhaps I could figure out where I was. When I finally gave up, it was obvious that neither of us would be able to acquire the plane again. Game over!

6. As expected, yesterday was good and improving throughout the day. I had earlier done some RC soaring with my Heron sailplane. The ground wind switched to SW, which fooled me, as in my full scale days at Gan airport this has always meant the thermals get killed due to the lake effect wind. This does not really occur, or not as much, out at our field. I never really considered the possibility of encountering strong thermals at the start of my flight, as the wind had switched from NW to S quite awhile ealier.

7. When I finally dumped the goggles, I assumed that the plane might still be receiving commands, despite possibly having gotten near or into cloud. Note: Our 2.4 GHz stregth is greatly attenuated by moisture. I did briefly set the Vector into Loiter mode, hoping that we might get some glimpse. I never even considered trying RTH. Why? Lapse of thinking, perhaps, or figuring that it wouldn't work properly anyway. Worry about the plane coming down and possibly hitting someone or something weighed heavily on my mind. I had much earlier commanded the motor to disarm. I had gone through the motions of forcing it to spin. (I have done that in a full scale sailplane after having entered cloud in extremely strong lift. Initiate a spin, wait until you fall out of the cloud and then do the recovery.)

8. Identification. I never did get around to putting my name and telephone # somewhere on the plane. Inside is probably not the best place, at least for this plane, as someone might not think to look for it.

Well, that is about all I can think of now!!!!

Upcoming Events at KRCM and elsewhere / Deseronto Float Fly - July 21
« on: June 22, 2018, 06:52:47 PM »
Great news! Everyone is invited to another Float Fly at the ***NEW***
Deseronto float flying site. Saturday, July 21.

For those who missed the first one, come out for this one. This is an excellent site with unlimited parking and setup area right up to the water's edge.

We expect to get more info very soon regarding some special features. Stay tuned.

General Discussion / New World Speed Record!
« on: June 17, 2018, 08:20:13 PM »
Great achievement, excellent video of something that is almost impossible to track. The discussions in the forum are also interesting and informative.

Plans, Projects, Building and Flying Tips / Waterproofing electricals
« on: June 14, 2018, 08:46:40 AM »
Float flying, along with winter flying, is a popular part of our RC flying, especially with electric airplanes. Things can sometimes get a tad damp or messy. There are some simple things that we can do to protect our equipment. Here are a couple of them:

First of all, check out this product, Corrosion-X. On their site is a description, along with a couple of videos. Of particular interest to us would be the one where the whole mess - motor, ESC, battery, receiver, little chopper - are thrown into a fish tank and operated. The FliteTest guys strike again!

This convinced me to try to get some and use it. I have not found a local supplier but managed to get a can from an AME who services all kinds of aircraft and buys the stuff by the case.
Check it out, and let please others know if you find a local or nearby source:

I squirt the stuff liberally into both ends of an ESC and let it drip back out. Do the same to the receiver, if it may be exposed to severe dunking. It wouldn't hurt to do the same with your power connectors, but make sure that they are clean first. Use some spray contact cleaner; I found some at my favorite Home Hardware store in beautiful downtown Odesa!).

What about motors and servos?

Well, you can spray the motor if you like, but there is dubious benefit for brushless motors, as there is nothing to be affected by water - unless you are flying on and around seawater. But, go ahead, if it makes you feel good.

Servos could be sprayed, but again, they are pretty well sealed, with some grease inside and spraying the exterior may not accomplish much. But, it can't hurt, I suppose. I am one of those rare people who often repairs servos which have stripped gears. When reassembling them, I apply some DuPont Teflon-based spray-on lube prior to reassembly (Lowes sells it, but make sure it is the version with Teflon, not the similarly packaged Lithium-based one.) I would do that anyway, regardless of whether the servo might be at risk of taking a bath someday.

So, what happens if you drown your plane and rescue it, only to find that nothing seems to work. Narf! You never did anything special to try to make it water resistant. Well, here is what you do:  Give the ESC to me and the go out and buy a new one! (Or, continue to read this and you may find a cheap solution to your problem.)

At a recent float fly event, one of our guys submerged the business end of his Fun Cub and it no longer wanted to run. Drat! Double drat!

There is no logical reason why anything should have "burned out", but some electronics probably got a bit upset by seeing a low resistance between some foil etchings or component contacts. So, I got a can of WD40 and sprayed the #1 suspect - the ESC. Despite what many folks think, WD40 is NOT a lubricant! Per its name, it is a Water Displacer. I sprayed from both ends of the ESC, top and bottom and water poured out. Gave it a shake and then let it sit for a couple of minutes. We then powered up the system and all was well again! No big surprise here. He got to return to the fray, hopefully got to spray his reborn ESC with some Corrosion-X or other suitable protectant.

General Discussion / Spektrum history
« on: May 01, 2018, 05:57:33 AM »
Many of us know of, and have received help directly from, Andy Kunz. He is the team leader for Spektrum's Development Team, that fellow who seems never to sleep!

On several occasions, like other customers, I have placed a query regarding a function or problem and received an almost immediate response -  typically within an hour! Where else can you get that kind of help?

Some of us find the product line and naming of Spektrum radios to be rather strange and confusing, especially the reuse of portions of the model names. For example, which DX7 are we talking about? What is the difference between the "Stealth" or "Black" version and the original DX9?

Well, here is Andy's summary of where we are and how we got here:

Buy, Sell, Trade or Give Away / OMP 60" Sbach Electric For Sale
« on: April 24, 2018, 04:54:52 PM »
I am posting this on behalf of Dan. I have the plane in storage here.

Here is a video which shows what this plane in the hands of a good pilot is all about:

Here is an RCGROUPS thread:

Note from Dan:

Ohio Model Products (OMP)
60” Electric Sbach
Converted to e-Flite Power 60 (470KV)
80 Amp ESC
Spectrum Rx
Hitec Servos
Spectrum Servo for Rudder (needs installation)
Airplane is in good shape. It had 1 hard landing that knocked the gear off and put the wheel-pants through the bottom covering of the wing. No damage to the wings at all - just the covering.

If you are interested, contact me (Gary) and I can put you in touch with Dan.

Buy, Sell, Trade or Give Away / Aeroworks Pro X260
« on: April 24, 2018, 03:31:05 PM »
This is it:

This plane of Dan's has seen less than a  dozen flights.
Ready to go, it has:
OS 55AX engine, only run twice!
High quality metal gear servos - HiTec 645MG.
Spektrum receiver.
Wing covers.

While capable of 3D and generally wicked sport flying, this plane is rock steady and can also be handled well by a low time pilot. It has no trickiness, great in high winds and turbulence, high visibility and looks good in the air and on the ground. High quality workmanship, durable, as expected in an Aeroworks plane.

This is what it can do!

Let's talk!

Buy, Sell, Trade or Give Away / Carbon-Z Scimitar for Sale
« on: April 23, 2018, 07:02:11 PM »
Check this out. These have had a strong following and lots of complaints when Horizon stopped production. I am willing to part with it for a very flexible, negotiable price.

This has retracts, independent rudders/airbrakes, vectored thrust. The plane can be flown with all of this stuff operational, using 7 or 8 individual channels, or use fewer channels by Y-connecting the nosewheel steering and rudder servos, etc. It is not hard to fly, yet can be quite exciting to really wring it out. I flew it on 6-cell battery.

I have owned the DX9 for about a hundred years (as my late friend Flypaper would say!) and am still discovering what certain things do and can be used for. Here is one situation that presented and which a simple combination of Flight Modes and Digital Switch Setup functions provided the solution. This is applicable to any of the DX-series, later generations of transmitters, which run the common Airware operating system.

The problem was, the Vector flight controller/stabilizer in my plane has a large selection of Modes. You can select up to 5 Vector modes (not to be confused with Flight Modes, which pertains only to the transmitter setup.). These can be assigned to one or more switches, commanding a specific channel which is connected from the receiver to the Vector.
Setting up 3 conditions on a 3-position switch is easy, but I wanted to use 6 position across two of my switches. As well, I wanted settings of these two switches to be mutually exclusive.

First, you need to understand the Vector's Mode protocol. They look at the Mode channel and enable 1 of the 5 possible Modes depending upon what is the pulse length. Don't worry about how you figure out how to convert Pulse width to the % values the transmitter shows, I will explain it later on.
Here is the table showing which Mode the Vector is in, as determined by the Pulse width
1 < 1250 microseconds
2 1250 - 1400
3 1400 - 1600
4 1600 - 1750
5 > 1750

Now, a word about Flight Modes. I have a very simple set of Flight Modes for this aircraft - only 3, so it only requires one 3-position switch. they are 1,2 an 3, which I call Normal, Cruise and TO/GA (takeoff/go around). Certain control mixes may, or may not, be enabled when each Flight Mode is selected. When I establish the Mixes for my two 3-position Vector Mode switches, I select which Flight Mode(s) will enable that switch and, therefore, the 3 Vector Mode settings allowable within that Flight Mode.

I use the GEAR channel for my Vector Mode. As with all my aircraft, a Channel Assign moved control of that channel away from the default A switch, as that is my Throttle Cut; I assigned the Gear channel to the F switch.

Now, I have already created the 3 Flight Modes, so it is time to set up the Mixes. 
1 = Normal   No Controls mixing
2 = Cruise    No Controls mixing
3 = TO/GA   Lots of Controls Mixing (for Crow, etc.)

Next, comes the Digital Switch Setup. Digital 2-position and 3-position Switches by default have  +100, 0, -100% as their command outputs, Digital Switch Setup allows you to change each of these individual positions to anything from 0 to 150%. I want my switches to operate in the Normal and Cruise Flight Modes, as follows:

Switch E -
Pos 0  = Vector Mode 1 = Loiter
Pos 2  = Vector Mode 2 = 3D Heading Hold
Pos 3  = Vector Mode 3 = OFF
Switch F -
Pos 5  = Vector Mode 5 = RTH TEST
Pos 4  = Vector Mode 4 = 2D Heading Hold
Pos 3  = Vector Mode 3= OFF

So, within the Digital Switch Setup, I have set Switch E to have 0, -45 , -100 as its three positions and Switch F as 0, 45,100 as its states. (I have already translated the requires Pulse widths to determine the +-45% settings.

Then, we set up two simple Mixes:

Switch E is mixed to GEAR  with its default 100,100 values,  active in Flight Modes 1 (Normal) and 2 (Cruise), disabled in 3 (TO/GA).

Switch F is also mixed to GEAR exactly as with Switch E.

Now, in either the Normal or Cruise Flight Modes with both Vector Mode (E & F) Switches in the Down position, the Gear channel is outputting  the "0" or Centered command, so the Vector is in its OFF Mode. In TO/GA Flight Mode, these two Switched are inoperative and the Vector is in OFF. This means that, at any time, pulling both E and F back will turn the Vector OFF, regardless of Flight Mode.

This is simpler than it may sound. This particular need and the specific settings of Switches is just one example of what can be done with two very powerful functions on Spektrum and other systems, once you get the basic idea. I have done a lot of Mixing, etc. across many aircraft of different types and with varying setups, yet I am still learning new stuff all the time.

If this gives anyone some ideas or questions, please let me know. I may be able to help you, or at least point you in the direction of someone who knows a lot more about it and is very patient and willing to assist.


Addendum - Translating % to Pulse Width

Spektrum defaults to Pulse Width range of 900 to 1900 as -100% and +100%, respectively.  You can set Servo Travel to as high and low as -150% and 150%, respectively. Pulse Width = 1500 is 0%, or Center, regardless of the range setting. For my Vector control example, I Ieft them at the defaults.

My test setup consists of a receiver, digital servo tester and servo attached to a degree wheel. The latter is just for interest, only the receiver and digital readout on the servo tester is required. For this test, and in the eventual aircraft setup, make sure that there is no unwanted Mix or Trim settings lurking in the background to interfere with your required operation. (Experience speaking here!)

Pulse Width = 1500 is 0%, or Center, regardless of the range setting.

I set up my test channel such that it was on the Throttle, as that enables more precise adjustments which stay in place while taking various readings. In the Trims menu, I had set Throttle Trim to "0", to ensure that I got clean readings, with only the stick movement. From there on, it is simple:

1. Go to the Monitor screen on the transmitter.

2. Set the throttle stick in various positions, taking readings of both the % on the transmitter and the Pulse Width microseconds on the servo tester. If you are really interested, as I was, plot them and convince yourself that they are linear, and/or  have your servo degree wheel hooked up and watch it wiggle around. Do not worry if the digital readout is slightly different from expected; mine read 17 microseconds high at the Center and the endpoints, I do not know why, but it is a trivial error.

3. My Vector modes required it seeing the following Pulse Widths:
1 < 1250 microseconds
2 1250 - 1400
3 1400 - 1600
4 1600 - 1750
5 > 1750
So, via Digital Switch Setup, I set Switches E and F to have "0" at their same position, pulled fully back. That gives Mode 3 on both.
Then, I set Switches E an F to be at -100 and +100, respectively, in their furthest forward positions. Modes 1 and 5 are now taken care of.
Mode 2 and 4 are the ones where you need to know the correspondence between % and Pulse Width, as these activate within narrow ranges of values. I found that +-45% values were fairly centered within these required values, so those will be the Switch midle positions.

Therefore, my Digital Switches are set up as E = 0, -50, -100 and F = 0, 50, 100.

The servo tester with a digital readout is my most valuable gadget in the shop or at the field. This is one example where it was essential. I use it to check out every new servo immediately after purchase and every servo prior to, and immediately after, installation in an aircraft, or when a malfunction occurs or is suspected. Get one for yourself!

FPV at KRCM / Some FPV Ramblings
« on: April 14, 2018, 11:36:18 AM »
Attached is a summary of some FPV-related stuff I have been doing. I hope it give someone some ideas, or can start a discussion.

It surprises me that Flypaper never showed up with one of these ... or did he?

VIDEOS and PICTURES from KRCM Events and Activities / Levin's Hotts
« on: April 12, 2018, 08:38:46 AM »
Harold and Levin have been at it again! They dug out what is claimed to be a Hotts sport airplane from way back in time, cleaned it up and fitted a new ASP .46 engine.

Back some 30 years ago, the Hotts was  at the top of the heap of fun flyers. Dan Santich designed the original one, followed by the Hotts II (two) and Midwest kitted it as one of their superb Success Series offerings. I had one of those and it was the most enjoyable kit I ever built, before or afterward. It was a terrific flyer and I would love to find on of those original kits to build again.

There were many variations of the Hotts that were created over the years, several of which even showed up in our Club. Giant scale, intermediate, biplane, SPAD, foamy, too many to recall.

This particular plane most be scratch built, as i has foam sheeted wings, no plywood sides or turtle deck and its fuselage shape differs from the angular slab facets of the original Hotts. The wing tips do not have the end plates which were very critical to taming the behaviour of the original Hotts II. But, who cares, let's call it a Hotts and see how it flies!

I was pleased to take it for the test flight. Wow! this thing really rocks and brings back some memories! After a quick try, I cranked in about 50% expo on the Ailerons and Elevator, eventually bumping it up to 60% on both after we did the second flight. We called it quits, as the wind was howling. I left Levin with a couple of suggestions, such as relocating the battery to move the C of G further back.

As this was the first flight for this plane and engine, in our hands, and it was a very windy and gusty day, I did the takeoff and the eventual landing. Levin took over in the air, once we got a bit familiar with it. He will have to be very careful, as it is a step change from the average airplane that scoots around these days but he is very capable of handing it. 

Some of you may know Levin, a.k.a. Flight Kid.

Apart from hanging out with us and flying, he leads a very challenging academic life. Recently, he participated in the regional Science Fair at Duncan Macarthur Hall.

Harold and I were privileged to obtain a sit-down VIP visit with Levin at his display. We were unable to stump him with our questions; he really does know what he is talking about!

Levin's project was the laser CNC system which he designed, built, programmed and documented. His dad helped with the cutting of the wooden components and perhaps in the de-bugging associated electronics, but L learned/utilized the GRBL programming language and all of the other associated technological aspects. The device works, although he was not allowed to activate the laser at the Fair, due to safety requirements, quite understandable, even though he currently has only a 5mw or such laser from a CD drive. He plans to purchase a higher powered laser and be able to cut foam for ... guess what ... flying machines!

I suggested that he bring his travelling road show out the to field sometime this summer (perhaps at the FDFF) and display it.

Harold and I were really impressed with the tremendous efforts and variety of projects at the Science Fair. We walked away feeling really positive about those who will be the future Engineers and Scientists and leaders. Great work and Good Luck to all of them!

Perhaps our guy will choose to comment in here, with more explanation, if he ever gets some time!

Meanwhile, here are a few pictures taken at the event.

Well, guess what I found out at the Toyground! (Pictures attached.)
Grasscutter was rootin' around with a digger that he "borrowed" from ... don't ask! So, what is he up to? Well, he started out strip-mining an area just east of the building (there is only one building now). He seems to have hit bedrock before encountering any gold or human remains.

You never saw a guy so happy as this fellow playing around in the dirt. By the way, who would have guessed that there is actually some high quality soil between the grass roots and the rock around here? Look at the giant pile!

His next step was to call in a load of crushed stone and start filling the hole up again.

So, what is he really up to?

This is the first step of expanding the dining/observing area. A concrete pad will be poured and, if the money doesn't run out, the clubhouse overhang will be extended over it.

This will provide a very nice shelter for the Peanut Gallery, as well as a place to set up or work on planes, as well as to prepare food and eat it.

KRCM owes Marvin a hearty thanks for scrounging up the excavation equipment and knowing how to use it.

As I was leaving, Mike was on his way out with a surveyor's level so that Marvin could begin the levelling and tamping of the stone. (It looked to me that a couple more loads would be needed to establish the base for the 5 inches of concrete to cap it off, so he may be at this for awhile yet.)

Marvin - how about an update?

General Discussion / Classic Canadian Test Pilot Documentary
« on: April 05, 2018, 07:15:26 AM »
This is a superb film, produced by the National Film Board with Fred Davis as the reporter. Some may recall Fred from his days as host of Front Page Challenge. DeHaviland's chief test pilot is featured. It is hard to realize that some of the air work overlooks the farmland area way out at Downsview (it was sort of Canada's Area 51)! In the segment on the water, you can pick out the old Five Roses (I think it was) grain elevator and the Toronto Island ferry scooting across the harbour. Some of us can, at least dimly, remember seeing some of these state of the art aircraft at places like the old Trenton Air Show. Fine viewing, hope you enjoy it!

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