Archives for October 2014

Aircraft Three View to TurboCAD

Top view of the Fokker Spin RC model

Top view of the Fokker Spin RC model

Many folks have purchased my TurboCAD training videos to quickly learn how to use TurboCAD to draw a model airplane plan. Note that the three hours of video training is available via e-mail. I no longer need to send you two CDs via postal mail. I’ll e-mail you a Dropbox link and you can get started immediately with viewing the video files. There is no need to have TurboCAD installed on your computer, as you will view the files on a media player.

Following is a nice note Peter B. sent to me regarding the TurboCAD training:

“Tim: I just finished up the last of your videos. What a wonderful tutorial. I don’t think I’d be able to learn 1/2 of what you go over in months of noodling around. What a great value!

1911 Fokker Spin radio control model airplane in flight

1911 Fokker Spin in flight

One thing that I did want to ask though is about a technique or approach to using a 3-view drawing (in JPG) format of a real aircraft and using that as a basis for CAD based model plans. I’ve tried to pull a JPG into the application and size it up roughly to the size I want my model to be.

I find it tricky however because construction lines and other drawing artifacts seem to always get placed behind the JPEG image. I haven’t figured out how to use a Z order or similar analogy in TC to keep the JPG at the bottom of the stack and the drawing artifacts on top. Any suggestions?”

As I get this question a lot, I plan on making a short YouTube video that will show this process in action. This is the method I used in creating my Fokker Spin plan with TurboCAD.

First, make sure you have a JPEG file of the three view you would like to use. I found the Spin three view via a Google image search and saved the file to my computer.

JPEG image of a Fokker Spin three view

JPEG image of a Fokker Spin three view

Then, in TurboCAD, go to “Insert” on the top menu bar, then “Picture” on the pull-down menu, then “From File.” Choose your JPEG three view as the picture from the file, and click Open.

Now go back to your TurboCAD plan. Nothing will happen until you left-click in TurboCAD, hold the left button down and drag a box. Your JPEG file should then show up on TurboCAD.

You can rotate and resize the JPEG three view as needed until it is the correct size, as TurboCAD “knows” the size of everything it is drawing.

Once the three view is the correct size, I draw a few lines from TurboCAD over the picture until I have what I call a “CAD sketch” of the three view. This CAD sketch is what I want, as I can now fill in all the details that are needed for a complete plan. The key point is the CAD sketch, traced over the three view image, is the correct size of your final aircraft.

See below for the three view I used for the Spin and the resulting CAD sketch. This outline of the aircraft was all that I needed to fill in all the remaining structural details to come up with the final plan.

JPEG three view of the Fokker Spin, with a traced TurboCAD sketch in the middle.

JPEG three view of the Fokker Spin, with a traced TurboCAD top view sketch in the middle.

Construction plan for the Fokker Spin fuselage

Construction plan for the Fokker Spin fuselage

 

Flying Alien Sphere Video

As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently purchased the Flying Alien Sphere for $20 at Costco. The Flying Alien Sphere is truly remarkable. The package contains everything needed to fly to include a 3 channel transmitter and built in flight battery charger. The only items you need to add are six AA batteries.

Flying Alien Sphere hovering indoors

Flying Alien Sphere hovering indoors

Oftentimes with these lower priced remote control aircraft the flying qualities leave a bit to be desired. I have had several more flights with the Alien Sphere, and my initial impressions remain the same – this is a high quality, well flying little aircraft.

There are some sort of built in gyros that provide remarkable flight stability. The infrared control link is positive and responsive. Even the trim works as advertised, with no sense of sloppiness as any slight rotations are synched out.

Three channel IR transmitter and Flying Alien Sphere

Three channel IR transmitter and Flying Alien Sphere

I did have a chance to make a short video of the Flying Alien Sphere, please see below. There is nothing to assemble other than inserting six AA batteries to the transmitter. Just take the Sphere out of the box, turn on the transmitter first followed by the Sphere and go fly with whatever charge remains in the flight battery.

The first flying tip I can offer is to practice smooth control inputs with the throttle (up and down flight). The key to flying any of these smaller hovering RC aircraft is getting the feel of the throttle input and response, to prevent the aircraft from jumping up and down.

The Alien Sphere is good in this area. Once you learn to modulate the throttle for a smooth hover it is a simple matter to focus on the rotation and fore and aft movement. Remember that the right stick allows for forward flight only. To have the Sphere move backwards just leave the right stick (controlling the vertical forward movement prop) to the down or off position. The Sphere is trimmed to slowly move backwards, until the forward movement motor is turned on again.

 

Check Out the Flying Alien Sphere

Flying Alien Sphere in a close in hover

Flying Alien Sphere in a close in hover

I just purchased a remarkable indoor remote control product – The “Flying Alien Sphere.” Maybe not the most descriptive name, but this creation consists of a three channel infrared controlled hovering sphere and a transmitter with a built in charger. Incredibly, the entire package costs only $20 at Costco. Note that the Sphere can be ordered on Costco’s website (as well as Amazon on line) or purchased in the store.

Three channel IR transmitter and Flying Alien Sphere

Three channel IR transmitter and Flying Alien Sphere

I have made numerous flights with this Sphere and I am most impressed. A full report will follow to include a video. The Sphere includes a rechargeable battery that provides flight times of up to seven minutes. The charger is built into the transmitter, with the transmitter light going from red to green when the charge is complete.

Detailed photo of the Flying Alien Sphere

Detailed photo of the Flying Alien Sphere

The Sphere appears to be very well constructed. Two contra-rotors provide steady vertical lift and turn capability. A separate miniature vertical electric motor and prop provides forward thrust. A nice feature of the Sphere concept is that the rotors are protected in the plastic cage to prevent damage when you bump into walls or other objects.

The Sphere truly flies well. You slowly add power and the Sphere lifts off. The Sphere is stable, has plenty of power and provides an exceptionally solid feel in its flight responses.

Close up view of Flying Alien Sphere

Close up view of Flying Alien Sphere

There is an easily located trim button on the front of the transmitter to keep the Sphere from rotating. It is the nature of infrared controlled flying products that the trim needs to be tweaked just about every time the transmitter is turned on. No matter, this takes only a moment and allows for steadier flight.

The Sphere is best flown close in so you can orientate yourself to the pusher prop. The prop, when pulsed on with the right transmitter stick, bumps the sphere forward. When the pusher prop is off the Sphere tends to settle in a slow backward movement. In short, this is just what you want to maintain full flight control with three channels.

In summary, for $20 you cannot go wrong with this well made and smooth handling Flying Alien Sphere. A full report will follow soon!