Topic: equipment

Flying season 2010

Here’s an update about what’s going on in the 2010 season. The integral is pictured here with a new undercarriage which was violently torn off minutes after the picture was taken.

The Integral is the best flying plane I’ve seen. I just love how it presents itself in the air and the color scheme is brilliant. The CDI engine is really easy to operate and is very fuel efficient. It’s also one less thing to charge before I go flying since there’s no glow driver involved.. I typically charge about 600 mAh after four flights in the combined RX and ignition battery pack. At the annual Løten F3A cup I experimented with my own blend of fuel with 10% oil. That definitely did not work well, it overheated in both rounds and stopped. After a forced landing the undercarriage mount was badly damaged and is currently being repaired. I have changed to the taller ZN landing gear that is used in their electric models like the Xigris. It looks really nice and gives better prop clearance so that I can run 19 inch props if I want to. I have had some hysteresis problems with the throttle servo which gives an unreliable idle so I’m changing the throttle servo position and will be using the Futaba 9650 servo.

150 km/h into a wall of grass. Integral does not approve.

While the Integral is undergoing undercarriage surgery I have flown and trimmed the Lorenz Laser. It hasn’t flown since I broke an undercarriage leg last year and now has a stronger, lighter undercarriage and it’s converted to Futaba 2,4 ghz. Trimming it with the new radio and receiver should have been uneventful but it was rather terrifying when the elevator horn broke. Nothing raises your pulse like seeing your elevator flapping freely in an untrimmed plane. To top it off, a wheel fell just when I was touching down. I got some applause from rolling out perfectly with one wheel and one elevator. Every dog has it’s day! Upon inspection, the other elevator horn was fractured and broke off with a light twist. A light surgical procedure involving 5-minute epoxy later, the Laser flew two trim flights and one P-11 schedule successfully.

I have swapped the lovely little T8 Futaba radio for it’s bigger brother, the T12FG. It offers more programming ease with it’s larger screen and also has logical switches which I find very helpful for switching flight mode from normal to snap roll using stick positions. I also have a flight mode called “IGN ON” which powers on the ignition. It’s a non-standard flight mode which means the radio gives and alarm if switched on when the ignition switch is on. I have installed a 2800 mAh Robbe Li-Ion battery and updated it to firmware 2.1. It’s a superb radio but sadly it lacks the trim position reset feature and the superior ergonomics of the T8. And I really miss the backlit display, it’s almost impossible to see the screen in poor lighting conditions. It’s always nice to have an excuse to upgrade your radio if something better comes along…

Backup battery FAIL

The idiot does it again. Although the battery change worked (I bought two just in case) I had a little accident. The battery blew up in my face during soldering so I had to spend a couple of minutes picking plastic bits from my left eye. All the while my safety goggles were hanging from the shelf in front of me. They say there’s one born every minute so I guess I’m not alone. Idiot.

Backup battery change

This radio was a christmas present given to me by my parents in 1991 and has seen extensive use. After being replaced by the MC-22 it has served as a backup radio. I planned to start using it again as an easy to carry indoor and small electrics radio when I noticed that the backup battery was empty, it deleted all settings each time it was turned off. That’s a bummer after you have just set up a model. The radio is worthless without backup battery so I started taking it apart and here’s how it went.

Removing the screws in the backplate and taking off the two main connectors between the transmitter module and the main circuitry leaves no clue as to where the battery is located. But I suspected it was attached to the main circuitry surrounding the display, so…

Removing the screw holding the main circuit board did not allow me to get it off so I had to remove all 8 screws that hold the stick assemblies in place to get some more clearance.

Turn the circuit board around, and voila! A very dead, almost 20 years old 3V lithium battery (CR2032). To my great surprise, the bastard battery was not meant to be replaced, it’s soldered to the battery clamps! I had to remove the battery clamps by de-soldering them from the circuit board (easy does it!) and then pry them off by force. The clamps survived and although not looking like a basket of fruit anymore, soldering on a new battery should pose not problems.  What thoroughly scares me though is getting the circuit board back in place, in front are 6 buttons with metal springs for the buttons in the front panel and you have to work blind while installing them. 


Wooden transmitter tray

I fell for this very simple plywood transmitter tray from Berger Modellbau. The tray is cheap, easy to assemble and very useable. I got one for my dad’s Graupner MX-12 too. I Don’t know if I’ll use it since I am satisfied with the Graupner original but the construction is clever and I’ll make a copy and modify it for my old JR X-347 radio which I plan to use for indoor and small electrics.

Auto 4C Glow-Pro

Have you ever primed the engine, connected the glow driver, flipped the prop only to have the &%¤%¤##%!! engine lock up, backfire, toss the glow clip, loosen the prop nut and generally misbehave? Of course you have. This is something we all live with. With 2-strokes ist just annoying but with 4-strokes it can be lethal. So when a friend of mine said he would make a glow driver that would end my troubles I was first in line. And what I received blew me away – this is THE mother of all glow drivers. I thought I was getting something homemade but this is a professional product. It’s called the Auto 4C Glow-Pro and is handmade by Audun Thinn and Sverre Johannesen, both seasoned pilots who know the demands of trying to start a psychotic 4-stroke while the judges are timing you.

To start with, it has an extremely rugged aluminum case that feels as solid as it is. On the inside theres a print plate with all the electronics (and lots of it!) plus tree LEDs, two dials for adjusting timing and current and the on/off switch. Standard power is a 3-cell 2400 NiCd battery but you can fit just about any battery in there, even up to four cells. Typically you can recycle your old receiver batteries should have have some lying around ( I know I do). It will run on anything from 2 to 6 volts and any type of battery including LiIon and A123. It has 4mm banana plug out for the glow clip, and a 2,1mm plug for charging. This is the same as the plug you use to charge your transmitter so there’s no need to make a new plug.

Here’s how it works: Connect the glow clip, and the yellow LED glows to signal a good plug connection (no need to light the plug just to check if it works!). Then press the start button, spin the engine with the starter and the glow driver will delay the power to the plug as indicated by the green and red LEDs, giving the engine a soft start AFTER it has started spinning. Presto! No more burned plugs, backfiring engines and shamefully missed rounds in F3A. The timing and glow heat can be adjusted to suit your engine using the potmeters that you access from the front (covered by rubber seals to prevent dirt inside the case). Once set, you do not need to adjust them again. There is also an option to have it fitted with a buzzer at extra cost. The buzzer signals the end of the timing, it beeps when you start, when the timer is ready and signals glow power is on with a constant tone. I do recommend that since you often watch the prop and not the glow driver when you start. The buzzer

And the best part is: This limited production item is for sale. Get yours today! You will not be sorry. Contact Audun Thinn at if you want to buy one. They have a limited number already produced but they will also make to order. The price is 1295,- NOK plus shipping. That includes a fully charged battery and the glow driver as shown in the picture.

The glow driver has been tested by all the top Norwegian and Swedish F3A pilots flying YS (and amateur-me with my OS 1.60) so we know it works – don’t take my word for it, buy one for yourself.

Electrics you say?

I may fly glow engines but when I’m in the workshop all I ever do is charge things! Not visible in the photo is the Laser being charged by a Schulze Lipo card. I’m also charging my DeWalt drill all the time too. I say, I’m as electric as the next man!

New fieldbox

A new box! Smaller, lighter but even more room for tools than the previous one. It’s a Graupner “starterbox” # 1691, found in the 2008 news catalog. It has a sort of false bottom where you can put a 12v NiMh battery and lots of stuff you don’t dare to leave behind but never use. 

New charger

I am now the proud owner of a Schulze LiPo Card 2 field charger. It can charge one lipo pack at a time, up to 4 cells and 3850 mAh charging current. The beooootiful thing is that is has a built in balancer and auto-detects cell and battery type when balancer is connected. Very nice gadget to carry in the field box now that LiPos are used for receiver batteries in many of my models. 

And the best thing is, it can run off anything from a 13,8 volt PSU or car battery to a 3-cell lipo battery using the low-voltage setting.

Selbst ist der Mann

What am I doing? Lots! 

– Repairing the Saphir II: New Tru-Turn spinner, new prop (APC 13×10 turning 9800 rpm), new covering on the wing (AGAIN!). And taping and sealing off every damned piece of covering I can, a piece flies off every time it flies.

– Repairing the red Laser, fitting new wheels (lost one in flight) and fixing a crack in the undercarriage, new bolts, fitting a Perry pump (damned 3,5 mm tap-stuff!) , moving the tank and moving and fitting a new throttle servo.

– Blue Laser – Fitting a perry pump on the OS 200 FS, attempting to fit a Hatori pipe in the nose (Damn that nose)

– Building a new fieldbox with space for 18 inch props. Pictures coming soon

– Buying stuff – a Proxxon table saw, Graupner fieldbox (I must have two dammit) and a Schulze Lipo Card (nice to carry in one of the new fieldboxes)

In addition to that my two kids are not in kindergarten this week so I have my hands full from 6 in the morning to 8 in the evening. And we’re tidying up the house, cleaning out the attic, moving the lawn, painting the damned pipe and every other task that can fit into my cramped short-term memory. And tomorrow evening I’m going flying the Saphir. Gotta love flying!

PS- notice the kid behind the plane?

Double the fun?

In theory, it should provide double fun, double thrust, require twice the power and produce half the noise. Nothing of that will be true, but a better gadgetfactor-to-dollar ratio than a four blade APC 15,5×12 and matching Tru-Turn spinner does not exist, not in this life or on this earth! Central hobbies stocks both and they are very reasonable when seen in context – gadgetfactor and quality…
I’m hoping the OS 200 will run with this prop, and that it will be nice and quiet, and I guarantee it will be a conversation piece at the flying field.