Welcome to Jazzy's Flight Deck!

Are you a beginner RC airplane flier? If you are, I hope to provide valuable information to help you get off the ground! RC flying can be very frustrating, and this is quite normal, so don't let it stop you from enjoying this wonderful hobby! Once you get your plane up there, I promise you will be happy you did it! Please let me know if there's anything you'd like to see here or if you have any questions.

Aircraft listed in bold now have mini-reviews and/or videos.

Over and out!
jasmine2501 at "don'tspamme" netzero dot com

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Align Trex 250

This is the Align Trex 250 micro 3D helicopter. It is a fully 3D capable micro helicopter, and since it's small and has no momentum, it can fly some impressive punchy moves.

Here's some videos of mine.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Flying Videos

My flying videos. I'm flying all these aircraft. Just kind of testing out the "widget" feature from Vimeo.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

E-Flite Blade 400

This is my E-Flite Blade 400. On the second flight, the tail servo stripped in mid-air for some reason, and the pitch servo stripped on the resulting crash. I replaced the cyclics with Hitec HS55 servos, and I replace the gyro with a GY401. The overall feel and performance of the helicopter was vastly improved by these upgrades.

Stock ESC and motor
HS55 cyclic servos
GY401 Gyro
Thunder Power 2100 3-cell
JR 290G tail servo
Align tail hub and carbon blades
Thunder Power Carbon main blades
Spektrum DX7 radio with AR6100e receiver

Here she is in flight:

And here's a photo of the new color scheme. I crashed it into a fence one day and had to re-build the whole thing. Instructional videos of how to build it are on Vimeo (search "Blade 400 Rebuild").

Here's the videos - first one is recently, but before the crash. After the videos are my radio settings for the Blade 400 and DX7 radio.

Blade 400 Light 3D from Jasmine2501 on Vimeo.

Radio settings
Aircraft Type: Heli
Model Name: Blade400
Swash Type: 3 Servos 120 degrees
Thro recovery: INH
Trainer: INH
(Is it possible I actually have 17 hours on this thing?!)

OK then on the flight settings I have this:
OK on the dual rates screen, I have 30% expo on all three channels. VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure to switch the dual rate switch for each channel and program the same expo again. You will use the dual rate switches for other things and it's pretty important that you don't end up changing the expo when you do that, so program both options to the same expo and rate (100%) on all three channels.

Timer: 6 minutes - gives me time to land
No programmable mixes are entered.

OK, "Gyro sens" screen: Set it to Auto - then next to the "0:" set your gyro gain rate for normal mode. Then next to the "1:" set the gyro gain you use for idle-up. Mine are 74% and 71%, but I'm using a GY401 and these numbers are never the same for any two people, so you'll have to figure out the numbers for yourself. They may be different from the gain settings on your DX6i, but that's a good starting point. OK, then on the side I set NORM: 0, STNT:1, and HOLD:0.

No revo mix is used - I'm not even sure what it is.

Pitch curves are:
HOLD - 0-25-50-75-100
ST-2 - 0-25-50-75-100
ST-1 - 0-25-50-75-100 (these are all three the same, important for autos)
NORM - 35-INH-50-75-100 (INH lets it calculate the line for you)

Throttle curve for ST-1 and ST-2 are both set to 100% all the way across.
Throttle curve for normal mode is set to 0-50-85-100-100, with "exp" activated which smooths out the line. You may want something different - don't be afraid to experiment. I'm at high altitude, and I find that this setting gets me off the ground nicely and pretty much eliminates any jumping when I switch in and out of idle-up mode.

Thro Hold: -5.0% SW:GEAR (you could adjust this for your personal preference)

Swash mix: AILE:-65% ELEV:+65% PIT.: +85% (again, personal preference, and checked to eliminate binding on my bird - I had to reduce the aile and elev channels. I may change that around though and reduce the pitch channel and increase the others. Just make sure you don't get any binding)

My travel adjustments are all 100% at the moment. I've some CCPM coupling though, so I'll be messing with that eventually.

I have the subtrims set to various numbers - I replaced the servos, so these numbers will be different for you. NO subtrim on the rudder... !

Reversing: THRO:N, AILE:N, ELEV:R, RUDD:R, GEAR:N, PIT.:R, AUX2:N (again, this might be different for you because I use different servos.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Align TRex 450

Align TRex 450 - Custom Decals came out a little light. This is the most solidly built aircraft I have owned, but also the most expensive by far. If you count the battery and don't count the radio, it was a little over $700 all up. WELL WORTH IT!!!

Spektrum radio - DX7 + AR6100
Align 35 ESC
Align 430L motor
Futaba GY401 Gyro
JR DS285 Cyclic servos
JR DS3400G Tail servo
Thunder Power Extreme 2200 battery

Video of the maiden flight.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Blade CP Pro

E-Flite Blade CP Pro with carbon fiber main and tail blades, and metal swash plate. Also, I set this up to fly with my Spektrum DX7, and it flies a little better with the expo and other features of the DX7 radio.

Seagull X-Ray

This is my best 3D plane to date. It flies very nice and is way more durable than it looks. I did biff it in to the dirt one day pretty hard and all that broke was the wheel pants and prop. Pikachu is permanently mounted in the cockpit :)

E-Flite Funtana 300

This plane exploded in mid-air (kinda cool actually, hehehee), so I returned it for store credit. It flew wonderfully though... one of the best planes I've ever flown. It just needs reinforcement around the motor mount.

Airfoilz Extra 260

Airfoilz Extra 260 - I have crashed this plane 3 times fairly badly. It flies so well it tempts you to try moves you can't do. Click here for video where I didn't crash it :)

Pink Lightning - SIG Hummer Electric

This is my SIG Hummer which I converted to electric. It goes over 100mph and is very aerobatic as well. Here's the video of the maiden flight, in which she reached 86mph!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Brio 10 Flying - Crash Landing

Flying my Brio 10. When I was landing, the wind was blowing and it suddenly stopped, stalling my plane. There wasn't much I could do. The whole bottom of the fuselage needs to be re-built now....

Airfoilz Extra 260 - Lazy Aerobatics

Video of my Extra 260 - I'm flying lazy aerobatics because I broke the wing completely off a couple weeks earlier and wasn't sure about the repairs.

SIG Hummer Maiden

SIG Hummer Maiden Flight

Friday, March 21, 2008

Be someone's inspiration

I have only been flying RC about a year if you don't count a few hours as a kid, but after you read this, you'll know why I think it counts. I have been building (flying) model airplanes all my life though mostly free-flight stuff, paper planes, and I built my own free-flight helicopter as a kid (a modified Guillows glider). When I was maybe 7 until I was 12, I would often be cared for by the town mayor and his wife, Lester and Mary Rogers. He was the mayor, and one of the coolest people I'd ever met. He built and flew model airplanes which were all gas-powered, and he invented a thing called a "ufo" which is a bizarre free-flight vehicle, and he also built a lot of 'toys' which were technologically interesting to me at that age.

This was Kansas farm country in the mid to late 1970s, and technology was nearly non-existent, and Lester (Mr. Rogers?) had HAM radio and other fun stuff. I remember he taught me how to make a pop gun with a manilla folder some typing paper and some tape. We must have killed each other hundreds of times with those things! Anyway, I must have annoyed the heck out of the guy, always begging to go fly planes, so he came up with other fun things to entertain me.

I finally understand what he meant by "it's too windy, maybe later" - but when it wasn't, we would go fly planes and always had a good time. You know, in all those years I didn't actually see him crash once, but my dad tells me now that he used to crash all the time and tell funny stories about it. I do remember people in town finding his UFOs on their roofs and in their yards and stuff. It was a free-flight vehicle made from pie plates, and (I think) powered by a .049 motor, and designed to fly in one direction - straight up. Needless to say they almost always disappeared, but it was a small town and I'd like to think he probably got most of them back. He was the mayor after all.

These days I know how amazing all this was at the time. It was 1976 and he was flying big 4-channel gassers, presumably with home-made equipment. Watching those airplanes in the beautiful Kansas skies at that age, I instantly fell in love with aviation. Ever since those days as an insufferably precocious child begging to go fly planes, I've been building airplanes in one form or another. I organized a paper airplane contest at my grade school one year, I've built hundreds of rubber powered planes of all kinds, and I've experimented with electric free-flight planes.

That experience as a child gave me a real love for science and technology, and as I grew older I spent a lot of time learning about airplanes and other technologies. In the 1980s I became positively obsessed with computers and this led to my current career as a programmer, but I have always also loved electronics, physics, math, and of course, aviation. In 1999 I graduated from Hastings College with a degree in Biology, but I only worked briefly in that field before I went into computer programming.

Now that I'm old enough to afford it, I have taken up RC airplanes and I really love it. It is the perfect way to combine my love of technology with aviation, and get out in the world and participate in a healthy hobby in the great outdoors, and meet other people who love it too! I have had the good fortune to meet many inspiring people over the years, but I credit Lester Rogers with starting a trend that has lasted a lifetime and has provided a lot of happiness, and led to a career that I enjoy. I sincerely hope that everyone has an opportunity, no matter what age they are, to meet inspiring people like this, and I hope that people will continue to take advantage of the opportunities to be inspiring and helpful to others as well, in this hobby and in all of life's endeavors. So get your neighbor, friend, or kid and get out there and fly some planes!

(If you haven't already done it, you should join one of the forums on Wattflyer or RCGroups and try to help out when you can, and if you can instruct, please sign up for the AMA Park Pilot Partners Program (I think they need more P words in that name)

Over and out!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Predator Bee

This is a slope glider. That's right! No motors!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Practicing with a flight simulator

Practicing with a flight simulator such as FMS or Realflight can make a big difference in your skills advancement. For beginners it can make the difference between crashing on your first flight and NOT crashing on your first flight. For experts, it can improve your precision and reactions with more advanced maneuvers and teach you how to "feel out" a new plane much faster.

These are not necessarily in order, but they do get harder as you go down the list. The first few should be done with 3-channels planes if you're new, and 4-channel planes as you get better... the last ones will require 4-channel planes.

1. Taking off in a straight line without stalling - practice this with an under-powered plane that stalls easily. Try it with different wind directions and try to do it with the plane out of trim.

2. Left turns and right turns - they are different. Try these coming toward you as much as possible. Learn to do it without losing altitude. Try big turns first and then make them sharper until you can do it in all 4 directions without losing altitude. Do this until it is second nature - until you don't have to think about it. Practice this with 3-channels first, then go up to 4-channel planes where you'll "bank and yank" - rolling and pulling up to make the turn. Return to straight and level flight after each turn. Then when you are good at that, practice linking your turns without flying level in between each turn.

3. Landings - same as take-offs - try it with different wind settings and try it with the plane out of trim. Try landing with an over-powered plane that glides well, and then try it with an under-powered plane that stalls easily and needs to be landed at a higher speed. The Pitts in FMS is good for this... you can't just cut the throttle and let it float down like a Slow Stick.

4. Practice flying a pre-determined flight path beginning with a take-off and ending with a landing. The take-off and landing should be in the same direction. Try it with different wind settings. Try figure-8 patterns and left-hand and right-hand circles. One of the mistakes I made when I was learning was to always fly left-hand patterns - this became a small problem at the club one day when the wind was blowing the other way... I had to fly a right-hand pattern, and it actually did mess up my thinking a bit. Practice both directions equally.

5. Practice simple loops - get some airspeed and pull full up elevator and stop when the plane recovers back to level flight. Gradually make your loops bigger and learn to reduce the throttle at the top of the loop to make a more perfect circle. Some planes can not do a big loop - learn to recognize this. Learn to recognize when your loop is not going to make it, and figure out how to "roll out" of a loop that is not going to end well. You will know what I mean when you practice it.

6. Practice recovering from trouble. Stall the plane and recover. Put it into a spin and recover. Get a 3-channel plane on its side and recover. Have someone move your trims to a weird spot and practice taking off and trimming the plane and then landing. If you have RealFlight, you can program it to simulate problems with the plane - this is very helpful, since problems during flight do occur and this feature can help you learn to save a plane that is not functioning correctly.

(Those are the basics - for the rest of these you will want a 4-channel plane)

7. Try simple rolls using ailerons only - point the nose slightly up and roll the plane all the way over and back to upright and level flight - then get back into the pre-determined flight pattern. Your rolls will make an arcing path (gaining and losing altitude), but this is ok at this point.

8. Fly inverted in a straight line for short periods. Roll the plane upside-down and use up-stick to hold it level. Then roll back to upright straight and level flight.

9. Practice perfectly straight and level flight. This is harder than it sounds. Learn what a plane looks like when it's flying level. If you are seeing the wing edge-on, you are not level. A plane that is higher than your head and flying level will show you a little bit of the bottom of the wing. Learn what this looks like. At this point, you will be practicing more precision flight, where before, you were just noodling around getting your reactions straight. Try this inverted as well, and in various wind conditions. Learn to use the rudder to keep your plane tracking straight.

10. Practice rolls using the rudder to keep the plane tracking level during the portion of the roll when it's on its side. For a left-hand roll, the sequence is this: holding left aileron through the whole roll, first apply right rudder as the plane gets on its side, then apply a bit of down elevator when the plane is inverted, then a little left rudder as the plane is on the other side, then return to level flight. You may want to break this up into a 4-point roll to slow things down, but eventually you should be able to do a smooth roll without stopping and without gaining or losing altitude.

11. Practice flying the pattern inverted. Learn to make turns when you are inverted, using the rudder and ailerons to bank and turn. Learn to control the throttle and use down elevator to keep the plane from losing altitude.

12. Practice knife-edge flight. Use the rudder to hold altitude and the elevator to make turns. Try to fly figure-8 patterns and try rolling from side to side. Practice entering the knife-edge from upright and inverted positions. When entering the knife-edge from upright flight, you will "cross the sticks" with the rudder and ailerons, but when you enter from inverted, your aileron and rudder direction will be the same. Do this until it becomes instinct. Learn the exact right moment to apply the rudder... too soon and your plane will not track straight... too late and you'll lose altitude. Try to slow down the knife-edge flight until you enter a knife-edge "harrier" maneuver. This is one of the easiest of the "3D" moves to do. Learn to control the throttle to hold the plane in the knife-edge at about a 45-degree angle, still moving to the side, but very slowly. This will help you to learn to hover later.

13. Try precision "pattern flying" - this involves doing loops and rolls and combinations of those while making very precise straight lines. You will be drawing patterns in the air, with smooth radii and straight lines. This is a competitive style of flying, and it is difficult, but it allows you to judge your progress because it is very easy to see when you've gone off line. The basic pattern maneuvers for the Beginner (or Sportsman) level of competition are listed here. Learn to do these moves perfectly. If you have Realflight, you can record your flight and play it back later. I find this very helpful in judging how well I did. As you progress, look up the advanced pattern sequences and practice some of the more advanced moves. Pattern flying is a never-ending challenge - you can never be perfect.

14. Practice harriers and other "3D" moves. There are entire articles about this. When you get to this point, you will know what to do. Learn to hover and harrier, and learn the flat spins and other fun moves. In my opinion, this is the pinnacle of precision flying. If you can do this stuff, get the hell off the simulator and go out and fly already. Or if you have Realflight, go online and find me and show me your stuff!

This by no means is a set order of learning. You can practice the advanced stuff in any order you want. This list is not intended to be a step-by-step lesson plan, but is more intended to help you identify specific areas where the simulator practice can help you improve your skills for real-life flying. Most of all, have fun!

Over and out!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Energy usage and motors and propellers

(this is in response to this thread - questions about props and pitch and diameter and so on)

You're correct so far about props, but it's fairly complicated. Here's the long explanation...

We know that energy can not be destroyed, right? So that means that any electricity you send into a motor will either be turned into kinetic energy by spinning the prop, or heat, which is the enemy of metal parts. That's beside the point really, but keep it in the back of your mind for when I talk about efficiency, because the losses due to lowered efficiency show up as heat, usually in the motor wires, some in the bearings too.

First some definitions:
A Newton is a unit of force - it is the force required to accelerate a one kilogram mass by 1 meter per second squared. So, if you apply 1 Newton of force to a 1 kilogram mass for one second, it's final speed will be 1 meter per second faster than it was before you started applying the force.

A Joule is a unit of energy - it is the amount of energy expended by a 1 Newton force over a distance of 1 meter.

A Watt is a unit of the rate of energy usage - it is one Joule per second.

The units of electricity usage were set up deliberately such that 1 volt times 1 amp will be one watt of energy usage - 1 Joule per second.

So, if you have a 1 kilogram airplane, and you want it to accelerate at 1 meter per second per second, you need to have one watt of power. If there was no drag or gravity or anything, your theoretical plane would be going 1 meter per second after 1 second of time, and speed would be 2 meters per second after 2 seconds of time, and so on.

When you measure the wattage of your power system, this is exactly what it means... so for example, my Brio draws 250 watts, and it weighs about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds). This means that if all the energy put out by the battery were used to accelerate the plane, it would have acceleration of 125 meters per second per second. Obviously, the Brio doesn't go that fast... so there is some huge losses going on there.

The losses are due to the efficiency of the motor (about 85%), giving approximately 40 watts lost as heat in the motor. If you've ever put your hand on a 40 watt light bulb, you know that's a lot of heat. The rest of the losses are due to the drag of the plane and the propeller itself. Propellers are not very efficient - anywhere from 10% to 50% loss. On small planes at normal speeds it's closer to 50% losses. So now my Brio has about 100 watts remaining, and that is being turned into kinetic energy...

However, it is not all turned into forward momentum... some of it is lost to drag, and some of it is turned into lift by the wing. An airplane must consistently overcome the force of gravity time its own weight. That is 19.8 Newtons for my 2-kilo plane... every second - meaning I need 20 watts worth of lift just to stay in the air. Wings are horribly inefficient, so I'm wasting a ton of energy just turning forward momentum into lift.

It was a long journey, but here's where the propeller comes in...

A propeller has two measurements... diameter and pitch. Diameter is obviously just the length of the thing. Pitch is a little more complicated... it is defined as the linear distance that the propeller would move if it was turned one revolution in a thick fluid (air is not a thick fluid). A 10x6 prop will move 6 inches forward in one revolution, but a 50x6 prop will also move 6 inches forward in one revolution, but it will use a lot more energy - but it will use it more efficiently.

Thrust is the acceleration force of the propeller - it is the amount of Newtons that the prop creates. Multiply that by a distance, and you have Newtons times meters, and remember, that is the definition of a Joule. Multiply that by a unit of time, and you have Joules times seconds, which was the definition of a Watt. So, to bring that full circle, the Watts used by the prop are directly related to the thrust it creates, bigger diameter props use more Watts, have more Newtons, and we call that more thrust. The 50x6 propeller is going to have more of that, even though the pitch is still the same as the 10x6.

I know that was a convoluted explanation, and for those who don't want to know why things are the way they are, it's simple enough to say what Sir Raleigh said... more diameter, more thrust, even if the pitch is the same.

Pitch is indirectly related to speed, but it's fairly complicated. If the RPM is kept the same, more pitch will result in both more thrust and more speed, because the speed if there was no slipping or drag or anything, would be the pitch times the RPM... it would be 6 inches times the number of rotations, divided by a time period, and a distance divided by a time period is the definition of speed. It is not that simple though, and more pitch will only create more speed if you can keep the RPM the same. Due to losses from efficiency problems and drag and lift and so on, there is never a direct relationship between pitch and speed. Speed comes from thrust, so if you want the plane to go faster, you need more thrust (more Newtons of force). In practice, what we see is that increasing the pitch gives more force, and we realize an increase in speed, but it is not that simple. You only get more speed (which requires more thrust) when you can keep the RPM the same. With electric motors, the RPM will drop a little when you increase the pitch, but not by much, so we do see more speed.

I know that is more than what you wanted to hear, but these things are never simple. I just hope that if you could stand to read that all, you'll understand more why we have to measure things. It is not a guarantee that increasing the pitch will give more speed, but if you increase the diameter, you will have more energy usage, and that always translates to more power, more speed, more everything... but it also means you may overwork the motor.

Monday, January 7, 2008

SIG Riser

This is my SIG Riser - it was fun to build and I covered it myself. It is a 2 meter glider, but I'm going to put a motor on the front. This is the first plane that I built and covered myself, and I think it came out pretty good!