Workshop Update

Cleaned up workbench

Happy to report that my workshop is finally cleaned up and all of my modeling supplies are inventoried.

I did some repairs and adjustments to the Stevens Aero Buzzbomb. Main item was strengthening the landing gear installation. The original design had rubber bands holding the landing gear in a slot in the bottom of the fuselage.

Buzzbomb nylon landing gear straps

Buzzbomb nylon landing gear straps

I imagine this approach was brought over from the original free flight version of the airplane. The idea being that a free flight model could land anywhere after a flight and you wanted to ensure the landing great could easily break away without causing damage to the aircraft.

Older Spektrum receiver in Blackburn fuselage

Older Spektrum receiver in Blackburn fuselage

With the repeated landings of radio control flight this is not a good idea as the rubber bands are just not strong enough to keep the gear in place. The nylon brackets on either fuselage side should fix this problem nicely.

It is also time to resurrect my Blackburn design! I originally used nicad batteries in the original model. Plan now is to use my Thunderpower lipos. The two cell pack fits nicely in the battery area.

The receiver, however, is for the first generation of Spektrum transmitters. I needed a newer receiver that can bind to a DMS2 signal used by my current transmitter. The new receiver is on order. Once that is received and installed, I should be able to get this very nice flying model back in the air . . . calm winds only!

Vintage Model Aircraft

Bleriot during a fly-by

Bleriot during a fly-by

I enjoy designing and building RC models based on aircraft from the first decade of flight. Sig offers a superb kit of the Demoiselle and I offer original designs of the 1909 Blackburn Monoplane and the Fokker Spin.

Many of these early flyers share flight characteristics that are not common with today’s more advanced aircraft. Issues such as adverse yaw and high-drag characteristics are a common theme.
Aerodynamic knowledge has advanced considerably since those pioneering days of flight a century ago. Engineers and pilots simply know a lot more about aviation and aircraft design.  This is reflected in today’s aircraft that fly in a predictable and safe manner.

Nose detail of the Blackburn RC model plane

Nose detail of the Blackburn RC model plane

When designing and flying model airplanes based on these early layouts, oftentimes the inherent adverse flight characteristics of the full scale variant can creep into the model’s flight behavior. RC pilots need to have an understanding of these issues in order to successfully fly model aircraft from this era.

I added a page discussing the issues of flying and designing vintage aircraft. This is based on my experiences with the Sig Demoiselle kit, as well as my designs of the Blackburn Monoplane and Fokker Spin.

In short, there are numerous ways to make a successful model of these aircraft that fly in a safe and predictable manner. Best of luck with your efforts regarding these true Pioneers of Flight.

Brian’s Chickadee

I always enjoy hearing back from modelers who have built planes from plans offered on this website, and better yet from those who have experimented and made improvements.

Top view of Brian's Blackburn showing rigging and ample wing and tail areas

Top view of Brian’s Blackburn showing rigging and ample wing and tail areas

Brian earlier successfully built and blew a Blackburn Monoplane. He then tackled the Chickadee. Note how Brian used the Blackburn wings for the Chickadee, a smart move that saves building time.

Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine published the Chickadee plan in their Sept 2009 issue

Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine published the Chickadee plan in their Sept 2009 issue

The Chickadee was an experiment in design for me regarding wing and tail surfaces moments, areas and incidence settings. These parameters were adapted from the Sig Demoiselle kit. The Chickadee allowed for a quick built and the open layout of the wing mount allowed for easy adjustments on critical items such as the wing incidence.

My Chickadee prototype flew just fine. With the magic of TurboCAD I kept the rough wing area and incidence settings, easily grafting them onto the side view of my Blackburn plan. The result is a nice flying semi-scale model of an historic British aircraft.

Brian’s note follows:

Hi Gordon,

First, I want to tell you how enjoyable it has been to cruise lazily around the sky with my Blackburn on some calm summer evenings. A very realistic looking “days gone by” scenario.

I decided to take advantage of the Chickadee plans that came with the Blackburn but thought I would use the Blackburn wings instead of making a new, dedicated pair for the Chickadee. The Blackburn wings were a little heavier than the Chickadee plans called for of course, and I altered the wing mounting locations to suit the Blackburn wings. I did keep the wing location as shown on the Chickadee plans.

All went well. The weight before battery was 10.0 oz. However, the assembled fuse and wings was quite tail heavy and I had to add 3 oz of lead up front in a little “baggage compartment” under the nose and a 2s 800mah battery close behind the firewall to bring things in line.

I have not flown it yet. The all up weight is 15 oz., quite a bit more than the 9.5 stated on the plan. I know it will fly, just a bit faster than a lighter one. The motor is a Twisted Hobbies Crack Series 2203 – 1750kv with an 8 x 3.8 s.f. prop. I get 67 W @ 9.5A which works out to about 70W/lb. I won’t need all of that I’m sure.

I had another rare moment of genius as I wondered how I could carry it around without breaking it. I decided to modify the transport rig that I made for the Blackburn so that it could accommodate both planes (2 fuselages and one pair of wings). It works great.

I look forward to trying out the Chickadee soon. I’m sure I will love it. Thanks again, Gordon, for creating both of these aircraft.

Take care, Brian

Brian had an inspiration with his unique design of a lightweight foam carrying case.

We all know that the larger, lightweight electric models can be a challenge to transport with any amount of wind present. Brian took advantage of a common wing set for his build of the Chickadee and Blackburn, plus the fact that the wing panels are removable due to the fixed metal friction-fit mounting tubes. Note that the carrying case has the Blackburn fuselage (lower one), both wing panels and the Chickadee fuselage all in one unit. Brilliant!

Brian, thanks once again for a great recap and pictures, as well as sharing an original and innovative model transport scheme. Best of luck with your Chickadee test flights!

Close up of Chickadee nose section

Close up of Chickadee nose section

 

Chickadee fuselage under construction

Chickadee fuselage under construction

 

Detail of Chickadee fuselage, motor mount and wing tubes

Detail of Chickadee fuselage, motor mount and wing tubes

 

Innovative use of foam to make a lightweight model carrying case

Innovative use of foam to make a lightweight model carrying case

 

Jim’s Planes

One of the nice aspects of hosting a website is hearing from other modelers regarding their radio control flying and design experiences.

Jim getting Bleriot ready for a flight

Jim getting Bleriot ready for a flight

A great example is a note I received from Jim T. Jim enjoys flying aircraft designed and flown in the first decade of flight.  Those early aviation pioneers were still working to figure out what worked to make a practical flying machine.  The designs had a lot of character.

Best of all, due to the underpowered engines available at the time, the planes usually had sufficient wing area to fly low and slow.

I built a model of the Sig Demoiselle as well as created original designs such as the Blackburn Monoplane and the Fokker Spin. Jim actually designed a larger one quarter scale Blackburn as you can see in the pictures below.  Note that Jim used a convention Clark Y airfoil for his wing on the Blackburn and it worked out just fine.  This is a great example of doing what is needed to make a successful flying model.

Jim with Bleriot awards

Jim with Bleriot awards

Jim wanted to experiment with some smaller, electric powered models and he ordered my Blackburn plan. I cannot wait to see the results of his masterful craftsmanship with his build of the electric Blackburn.

Below are Jim’s remarks regarding his design and experience:

Hello again Gordon.  When I became fascinated with these old aircraft about 15 years ago no drawings were available anywhere so I obtained some early information on the Bleriot from mostly just hand sketches.

The information was all in the German language. After many one word at a time translations via the internet I drew up a workable plan.  I like to call this approach “cave man engineering” as in both aircraft I forgot about the 7 to 8 degree positive wing incidence characteristic of these underpowered planes.

I decided to use a more modern Clark Y wing for my quarter scale Blackburn, all in all fortunate for me as the plan worked out very successful.

During the first few flights of the Bleriot I had to forget all that I learned about radio control flying and start a new learning curve using cross control to counter adverse yaw during turns as well as employing rudder only and power-on landings (Editor’s note: The high drag inherent with these early designs mandated using lots of power for landings.  Any attempt to glide in would result in a very sudden drop for a hard landing).

As for the Blackburn that aircraft was a dream to build using my own plan. The flight characteristics were miles ahead of the early Bleriot.  I have won many awards and accolades with them both.  I must confess they are not 100% scale.  Here are some more pictures for you.

Cheers, Jim T.

 

Front view of Jim's 1912 Blackburn Monoplane

Front view of Jim’s 1912 Blackburn Monoplane

 

Detail of the Bleriot landing gear

Detail of the Bleriot landing gear

 

Front view of Jim's Bleriot

Front view of Jim’s Bleriot

 

Getting ready to taxi the Blackburn

Getting ready to taxi the Blackburn

Low flyby of the Blackburn Monoplane

Low flyby of the Blackburn Monoplane

Brian’s Blackburn

Side view of Brian's completed Blackburn

Side view of Brian’s completed Blackburn

Brian recently purchased a set of Blackburn CAD plans, completed his model and was kind enough to share the results. Executive summary:  Brian’s Blackburn looks great!

Detail of Blackburn cockpit and after servo installation

Detail of Blackburn cockpit and after servo installation

The 1912 Blackburn Type D Monoplane was one of the first aircraft designed and built by an Englishman and then flown in the United Kingdom. With its front mounted engine and aft tail surfaces, the Blackburn has a surprisingly modern layout for an aircraft conceived just nine years after the Wright brothers’ first flight.  The generous wing and control surface areas as well as the substantial nose and tail moments make for an ideal radio control model aircraft.

Front view of the Blackburn, ready for takeoff

Front view of the Blackburn, ready for takeoff

Brian’s reports that his model finished out a bit tail heavy. Brian wisely added the correct amount of nose weight to bring the model with the proper center of gravity range.  It is absolutely critical that any aircraft balance within the correct center of gravity range prior to any test flights.  A model will be uncontrollable if flown with a CG out of limits as there is simply not enough control authority to override the resulting uncommanded pitch changes.

Top view of Brian's Blackburn showing rigging and ample wing and tail areas

Top view of Brian’s Blackburn showing rigging and ample wing and tail areas

As to why the model came out tail heavy, there is no certain answer. What I do is to always attempt to “build in lightness” as I construct the model.  I try to employ the lightest weight balsa for any fuselage structure aft of the cockpit, to include the tail surfaces, to minimize the possibility of a tail heavy aircraft.

Nice job with simulated spoke wheels and landing gear arrangement

Nice job with simulated spoke wheels and landing gear arrangement

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a model will come out slightly tail heavy. One of the reasons I selected the Blackburn is the generous nose moment (distance of the propeller to the center of gravity) to make the most use of any weight added to the nose to move the center of gravity into the correct place.

Custom built foam carry case

Custom built foam carry case

The slight added weight for Brian’s model (about five ounces) should have no appreciable impact to the Blackburn flight characteristics. The full scale Blackburn had ample wing area, as the aircraft of those initial days were woefully underpowered due to the early state of aviation engine technology.  In a sense many of these early flyers were powered gliders.

This plentiful wing area makes the addition of some extra weight essentially not noticeable. The added mass will likely make for a smoother flying aircraft in the end.

Detail of custom built foam carrying case for the Blackburn Monoplane

Detail of custom built foam carrying case for the Blackburn Monoplane

Brian also took the extra step of constructing a custom designed foam carrying case for his Blackburn. As per the plans, the Blackburn’s wings friction fit into metal tubes mounted to the fuselage.  This makes it a snap to disassemble the model for ease of transport.

Brian did a superb job of tailoring his foam carrying case for the Blackburn. This is a great idea I had not thought of, and I will for sure employ this approach for future model aircraft designs.

Brian, thanks again for sharing the photos of your finished aircraft and carrying case.  Good luck with the test flights!

 

 

Build a Rough Prototype

ParkZone electronics installed in the Spin prototype

ParkZone electronics installed in the Spin prototype

I added a page today discussing the concept of a “rough prototype” for model aircraft design.

Aviation has always embraced the idea of a prototype with any new aircraft design, power system, construction method, etc. Perhaps one of the most interesting examples of this is the first Boeing 707 jet airliner.

There were so many new techniques and procedures with constructing and flying the world’s first swept-wing jet powered airliner that Boeing elected to not certify the initial B-707 aircraft with the FAA. Boeing kept it as an “Experimental” aircraft with no FAA issued “N” registration number (and of course no ability to carry any passengers), just so Boeing could figure out if this type of design was worthy of a full production variant.

This historic B-707 is on display at the Smithsonian Museum Udvar-Hazy Center aircraft collection outside of Washington Dulles Airport. Worth a visit.

The idea of using a prototype for model aircraft design makes full sense. I advocate the approach of using a “rough prototype” to work out aircraft sizing, incidence settings, surface areas, etc. before taking the time and effort for a fully finished product. See further details here!

Swedish Chickadee Pictures

Top view of Stefan's completed Chickadee

Top view of Stefan’s completed Chickadee

Stefan, hailing from Sollentuna, Sweden recently completed his build of the Chickadee. Following are some details of Stefan’s useful modifications to the original airplane. Chickadee CAD plans are included with the Blackburn plan set available here. The Chickadee sizing, wing incidence and moment setup were the prototype basis for my Blackburn plan.

The Chickadee is one of my early designs. The model uses a simplified construction method detailed here and is easy to modify as the builder sees fit. The Chickadee is a great choice for a first time RC model airplane builder.

Top rear view of Stefan's Chickadee

Top rear view of Stefan’s Chickadee

Stefan did a wonderful job with his Chickadee modifications. Further insights follow:

1. Stefan elected to keep the wing spars square instead of sanding them to a round shape. Stefan added a matching notch to the wing ribs to account for the square shape of the spars.

2. Stefan employed sheets of 0.4 mm carbon for the wing spar reinforcements instead of the plywood strips used in the original. He also wrapped the inner 10 cm of the wing spars with some Kevlar thread, wetting the assembly with thin CA glue.

Detail of string control setup for Stefan's Chickadee

Detail of string control setup for Stefan’s Chickadee

3. This was Stefan’s first time covering the wing and tail surfaces with Japanese tissue, looks like it came out very well.

4. Stefan decided to go with pull-strings made from Kevlar thread for the rudder control instead of pushrods.

5. Stefan used a Dualsky XM2215RTR-17 20 gram electric motor with a built in electronic speed control. He added a 2S-360 mAh Lipo battery for power the arrangement.

Detail of nose section of Stefan's Chickadee showing engine installation and wing attachment

Detail of nose section of Stefan’s Chickadee showing engine installation and wing attachment

The resultant savings in weight meant that he had to move the wing to the rear 10 mm and the motor 5 mm forward to achieve the correct center of gravity location. The final flight weight is a very respectable 194 grams.

Stefan offers an excellent example of the benefits of constructing an RC model from plans, with the ability to make simple modifications as desired to personalize your version of the aircraft.

As a final note, Stefan’s eight year old daughter came up with the neat idea of using a ping-pong ball as a pilot figure. Well done!

 

Top view of Stefan's ping pong ball pilot figure

Top view of Stefan’s ping pong ball pilot figure

 

Top view of Stefan's Chickadee

Top view of Stefan’s Chickadee

Chickadee Prototype Design

Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine published the Chickadee plan in their Sept 2009 issue

Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine published the Chickadee plan in their Sept 2009 issue

Front view of the completed Chickadee park flyer

Front view of the completed Chickadee park flyer

I added a new page to the website, under Design, that discusses my approach to laying out the plans for the Chickadee. This method to come up with an original aircraft design can be of use to any new RC model plane designer.

With the Chickadee I adapted some construction and sizing techniques from an earlier kit-built model (Sig’s Demoiselle) and employed them with the Chickadee. The Chickadee uses a straightforward and uncomplicated structure to permit quick modifications. Once the design parameters are confirmed during test flights, follow on model plans can be drawn using these aircraft constraints.

 

Chickadee in flight

Chickadee in flight

For example one item that needed adjustment on the Chickadee was the wing’s incidence. The prototype had plenty of power from its brushless electric motor, but would not lift off during the takeoff run.

The solution was easy with an increase wing incidence by raising the wing’s leading edge. As the construction was open frame this modification entailed lengthening the two forward wing mounting posts. The result was a smooth takeoff and a pleasant flying model.

These dimensions and settings were transferred directly to my Blackburn design, to include the same motor and battery arrangement. Interestingly, the handling and flight characteristics of both models are remarkably similar.

The idea of using a rough prototype that can be readily modified, to iron out the proper aircraft parameters, is a sound way to design RC model aircraft and can be used for a variety of model airplane designs. I will expand on this concept in a later update to this blog at the end of December and show how I used this same approach with the Fokker Spin.

 

Detail of the Chickadee nose section and control system layout

Detail of the Chickadee nose section and control system layout

Swedish Chickadee

Mountain Models Mini-Flash (circa 2003) on garage workbench

Mountain Models Mini-Flash (circa 2003) on garage workbench

We are getting settled in to our new house and I even have my new work table set up in the garage. Note the Mountain Models Mini-Flash on a pile of modeling supplies. Looking forward to getting this very nice model back in the air soon!

One of the fun items related to working on this website is the wide range of modelers I come into contact with.

Below is a nice note that came in yesterday from Stefan in Sweden, looking to purchase a set of Chickadee plans.

 

Chickadee RC model plane

Chickadee with Spektrum transmitter

The Chickadee was my first indoor electric radio control model design. I use an evolutionary approach to model aircraft design, in the sense I gain knowledge and insights from earlier models that I make, from kits or plans, and incorporate these various design elements into my aircraft layouts.
In the case of the Chickadee I had just built the Sig Demoiselle kit. I was impressed with Sig’s use of the wing construction method taking ¼ inch square balsa stock and sanding into a round dowel shape, and using these as fore and aft spars for the wing. I also gained understanding as to wing incidence settings that worked out well for this slow flyer.

This is a strong and light weight method to construct an indoor RC model’s wing. I used this technique on the Chickadee as well as the Blackburn.

I wish Stefan all the best with his build of the Chickadee and look forward to seeing some pictures of the finished model!

 

Gordon holding the Chickadee electric RC plane

Gordon holding the Chickadee electric RC plane

E-mails from yesterday:

From: Stefan
To: chickadeeplane <chickadeeplane@aol.com>
Sent: Sun, Nov 1, 2015
Subject: Re: Chickadee plans for download?
Hi Gordon,

Thank you for the plans.

Svenska Modellflygförbundet, SMFF (the Swedish version of AMA) will have a flying session next Friday at an indoor soccer field. I will try my best to have the Chickadee ready for that occasion. If not – there’s a new opportunity just after Christmas.

If I get her finished I promise to have some pictures for you.

Stefan
______________________________________________________

Chickadee RC plane nose section

Chickadee nose section

Den 2015-11-01 19:20, chickadeeplane@aol.com skrev:

Stefan,

Dropbox link just sent, plz share any pictures, will include on my blog!

Gordon

Gordon McKay
www.ElectricPlanebyGordon.com
www.IndoorFlyingModel.com
__________________________________________________________

—–Original Message—–
From: Stefan
To: chickadeeplane
Sent: Sun, Nov 1, 2015
Subject: Re: Chickadee plans for download?
Gordon,

Thank you for your prompt answer.

The purchase is made. Thanks again for an excellent site with lots of inspiration.

Stefan

_______________________________________________________

Chickadee RC model plane front view

Chickadee RC model plane front view

Den 2015-11-01 18:10, chickadeeplane@aol.com :

Stefan,

Glad you like the site!

The PDF of the Chickadee plan is a package included with the Blackburn plan.

On www.ElectricPlanebyGordon.com click on the “Store” pull down menu, and select the Blackburn plan ($7.00). The Chickadee plan is part of this offering, and will be sent to you via e-mail.

Regards,

Gordon

Gordon McKay
www.ElectricPlanebyGordon.com
www.IndoorFlyingModel.com

___________________________________________________________

—–Original Message—–
From: Stefan
To: chickadeeplane <chickadeeplane@aol.com>
Sent: Sat, Oct 31, 2015
Subject: Chickadee plans for download?

Hello

I found your excellent site while looking for an easy built indoor

model, and I fell totally for the Chickadee. I don’t mind purchasing good
work, but I could only find the plans available as printed plans.

Therefore, I would like to ask if the plans are available as pdf-purchase to save a lot of time.

With Kindest Regards

Stefan
Sollentuna, Sweden

World War I Aircraft Details

Interesting view of an early model World War I Bristol fighter. Note absence of a cowling.

Interesting view of an early model World War I Bristol fighter. Note absence of a cowling.

One of the neat things about the internet are the various websites you can discover that can assist with your current modeling efforts.

One such site, pointed out to me by one of my readers, is this one specializing on static (non-flying) “Great War”, or World War I aircraft. The site is extremely well done and contains a great amount of information on building and detailing 1:32 scale WW-I aircraft.

Details of rigging on aircraft tail section.

Details of rigging on aircraft tail section.

Although these models will not take to the air, these types of sites can be very useful to radio control modelers, as they demonstrate some easy to do actions that can aid greatly to the overall appearance of any model that we build and fly.

I like early era model aircraft such as the 1911 Fokker Spin or the 1912 Blackburn Monoplane. For my initial build of the Spin, it was not too much effort to add some thread rigging wires and a dummy motor. But after reviewing this site, I am inspired to make another version of the Spin with greater rigging detail. It really is not that difficult and the results speak for themselves.

And the section on the custom made spoke wheels is almost enough to design and build a model around these remarkable wheels!