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

 

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

Wing Incidence and Blackburn Gallery

 

I added a page today discussing an airplane’s wing incidence angle setting. Getting the wing incidence right is an important part of any aircraft design, whether model or full scale.

Bleriot nose detail

Bleriot wing incidence setting

Most sport radio control model aircraft do well with around 1 to 2 degrees of positive wing incidence. For a variety of reasons this setting will make for a more stable model, one that will not hunt around seeking a pitch attitude.

Many of the newer, lightweight 3D aerobatic models come with flat airfoils and a zero degree wing incidence setting. This works well for these unique flyers in that the aircraft are rarely flying “on the wing” but rather maintaining flight directly from engine thrust.

BlackburnTopView-1000Hovering flight is an excellent demonstration of this concept. When an aircraft is hovering the wing is not producing any lift. The entire aircraft is held aloft by the thrust of the motor alone.

I discuss my experience determining the proper wing incidence during the design of the Chickadee, Blackburn and Fokker Spin. I went through an interesting trial and error process during test flights. This investigation was prompted by Werner asking a question on the differing incidence settings for the Blackburn and the Spin.

As an aside, from my USAF time flying in the F-4 Phantom, the example of a hovering 3D radio control model is a case where the thrust-to-weight ratio of the aircraft is greater than one. With the light aircraft weight compared to the power of today’s model aircraft engines, it is not at all difficult to exceed a 1:1 thrust ratio.

Chickadee electric RC plane front view

Chickadee electric RC plane front view

Some military jet fighter aircraft can exceed a 1:1 thrust ratio. This is typically at a lower fuel weight, soon before a landing is required. Due to the lack of airflow over the control surfaces typically found on a turbine powered aircraft, there is no way a full scale jet fighter can hover even though it might have enough thrust.

I am unaware of any full scale piston powered propeller driven aircraft that have enough engine thrust to hover. There is one group modifying a turboprop Super Tucano acrobatic biplane that will attempt this feat. We’ll see!

I also added a new picture gallery of the Blackburn. The photos show the Blackburn under construction, details of the wing, fuselage and landing gear, the aircraft in flight and some views of Werner’s version. Werner enlarged the plans 125%. The result is a well handling model that flies in a scale-like manner. Do check out the YouTube video.

Chickadee Gallery Added

Chickadee RC model plane front view

Chickadee RC model plane front view

I added a fourth picture gallery to the site today, this one on the Chickadee three channel RC plane.

I designed the Chickadee in 2009 to experiment with the construction techniques I learned while building the Sig Demoiselle.  The Chickadee has a similar wingspan at 44 inches, and refined the design concept of using fuselage mounted metal tubes for the wing dowels.

The Chickadee flew fine and gave me further insight at how much wing positive incidence to set for these slow flyers.  The general outline and proportions of the Chickadee were replicated in my Blackburn plan.

The Chickadee to Blackburn is a great example of incremental design steps.  The Chickadee is a simple build with its open fuselage framework.  CAD plans are available when you purchase the Blackburn plans.