Yard Ace Fuselage Construction

First side of the Yard Ace fuselage under construction.

First side of the Yard Ace fuselage under construction.  8″ ruler shows true size.

I am making good progress on a park flyer size variant of my Yard Ace design. All fuselage and wing structures are built and ready for covering.

As I discussed earlier it is fun to make a different size version of a previously flown model. Part of the process is incorporating design features as you do construction. In the case of the smaller Yard Ace I need to modify the sizes of the balsa wood used in the original version. The challenge is to ensure sufficient strength without adding too much weight.

One important change I had to make when constructing the fuselage is to increase the width slightly to accommodate the ParkZone electronics brick. This was discovered as I laid the electronics onto the fuselage plan top view.

I also had to consider adding a tray for the electronics as well as a custom balsa motor mount in the nose of the fuselage.

Both sides of the Yard Ace fuselage complete

Both sides of the Yard Ace fuselage complete

Adequate strength is important for these smaller models. I intend to use a lightweight iron-on plastic covering. These coverings are used by modelers everywhere, but they do shrink a lot and can induce warps should the structure be of insufficient strength. On the upside, a completed structure (wing, fuselage, etc.) can be much stronger once the covering is in place.

Yard Ace fuselage under construction over plans

Yard Ace fuselage under construction over plans

For the tail control surfaces I think that I will just cover one side to save a little weight and minimize inducing warps.

I know from experience that three ounces is about the upper model flight weight limit for the ParkZone prop and motor combination. A requirement for anyone constructing smaller models is the use of an accurate scale to actually weight the parts.

Yard Ace fuselage nearing completion

Yard Ace fuselage nearing completion

I purchased a digital scale on Amazon and it works great. Simply push a button and you get a numerical readout down to tenths of an ounce. If nothing else you can track the weight increase as you build and cover the various components.

Fokker Spin in flight

Fokker Spin in flight with spoke wheels

This attention to weight saved the day on my Fokker Spin model. For the initial test flights I had a pair of lightweight plastic wheels. The model flew well but the wheels looked horrible on this vintage flyer.

I had a perfect set of spoke wheels in my parts bin, but they certainly added weight. Luckily, the total of weight of the Spin with the new wheels was just a tad over three ounces. The model flew well, but the extra weight was certainly evident on model flight performance. The digital scale helped a lot with ensuring success with the heavier set of wheels.

 

Initial fit of ParkZone motor and electronic control brick

Initial fit of ParkZone motor and electronic control brick

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!

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

More Valkyrie Pictures!

Side view of full scale Valkyrie B - note drooping ailerons, held in place by the airstream during flight

Side view of full scale Valkyrie B – note drooping ailerons, held in place by the airstream during flight

Werner kindly provided me with some additional information and photos on his remarkable model of the British 1910 Valkyrie B “Racer”.

Front view of the full scale Valkyrie B aircraft

Front view of the full scale Valkyrie B aircraft

Sadly, Werner does not have a set of plans for this exceptional aircraft. Depron 6 mm foam is used extensively with balsa ribs to form the wing and canard airfoil shape. The fuselage is constructed from 5×5 mm pine strips.

Below photos offer some additional detail of this one of a kind model.

Note also some photos of the full scale Valkyrie series of trainer and exhibit aircraft. As I mentioned yesterday, it took a remarkable pilot to climb into the “cockpit” of one of these early flyers for a trip around the airport traffic pattern!

Nice front quarter view of Werner's Valkyrie B RC model airplane

Nice front quarter view of Werner’s Valkyrie B RC model airplane

Detail of the pilot position and front fore plane of the Valkyrie B

Detail of the pilot position and front fore plane of the Valkyrie B

Werner's Valkyrie B next to the Fokker Spin

Werner’s Valkyrie B next to the Fokker Spin

ASL Valkyrie B. “Racer”

One of the pleasant aspects with hosting a website on electric radio control aircraft is hearing from folks literally around the world on their modeling activities.

A great example is Werner from Germany. Earlier, Werner took my plans for the Fokker Spin and enlarged them, making for a very nice scale model of this historic aircraft.

Werner sent me a photo of his latest model, that of a British experimental aircraft, the Aeornautical Syndicate Ltd. Valkyrie B., or Racer.

Plan notations for Werner's Valkrie RC model plane

Plan notations for Werner’s Valkrie RC model plane

This line of canard pusher-motor aircraft was designed by Horatio Barber and constructed by Howard Wright. The first in the series, ASL Monoplane no. 2 was first flown at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain in 1910.

Subsequent Valkyrie variants were produced over the next few years, all offering the same general arrangement with a pusher motor, a pair of fore planes (one fixed and the other moveable) and twin rudders.

At least 12 Valkyries were produced from 1910-1912. ASL set up a flying school at Hendon using these aircraft for training and demonstration purposes. I cannot imagine what is must have been like learning to fly on an aircraft like this, sitting in the open with an engine roaring right behind you.

Four of these aircraft were offered to the War Office for evaluation regarding military missions. While a successful design for the period, the Valkyrie was consider challenging to fly and the War Office did not pursue the model type further. During this time great advances were made with tractor mounted engines and more enclosed cockpits that eclipsed the unique setup of the Valkyrie.

Werner did a superb job capturing this one of a kind aircraft with a successful RC flying model. Note the fixed upper forward canard with the controlling surface located underneath, and three rudders installed behind the wing.

Werner’s model is a terrific example of what can be done with modeling distinctive full scale aircraft.  More information to follow!

Werner's scale model of the Valkyrie type B "Racer"

Werner’s scale model of the Valkyrie type B “Racer”

Enlarge Model Plans for Free!

Prototype of the Yankee Mike, my first model airplane design

Prototype of the Yankee Mike, my first model airplane design

One of the many nice things about radio control modeling and the internet these days is the abundance of model aircraft plans that can be purchased and downloaded on-line.

My site is a great example of this. I designed my first model airplane, the Yankee Mike, in 1998. RC Modeler magazine published the full size plan and construction article. Offering full size blue prints of various model aircraft construction plans was all part of the business model of RC magazines in those days. It was not uncommon to see three construction articles in a single issue.

As a side note I had to draw out, by hand, the full size Yankee Mike plan. Practical home use computer CAD programs just did not exist at that time. I mailed these depictions to RC Modeler magazine. A professional draftsman traced over my drawings to prepare the finished full size plan. Sadly, RC Modeler magazine went out of business several years ago.

On a happier note, you can still purchase many of these classic RC Modeler construction plans today.  A Google search will show several sources. RCM had some wonderful and original designs that would make ideal flyers today.

"Yankee Mike" construction article in 1998 RC Modeler magazine

“Yankee Mike” construction article in 1998 RC Modeler magazine

Since then I have had five additional model aircraft plans published in the modeling press and available for purchase on this site. For further details please see the Plans pull down menu on the home page.

But back to the subject of this post, how to enlarge a smaller aircraft plan drawing to full size. Any plan that you obtain from the internet typically will be a smaller size drawing that will need to be enlarged.

See my detailed page here on the subject of enlarging a model aircraft plan. The good news is that the free Adobe PDF reader has a built in function that easily allows you to set an enlargement ratio and print out 8.5” by 11” paper “tiles” on your home printer.

When all the tiles are printed out you tape them together for the full size construction plan. I’ve included Sheet One of the three Fokker “Spin” plan sheets for the demonstration that you can download and experiment with.

Following this method you can make any size plan you wish from a smaller PDF drawing. Recall that if a plan is downloaded in another format (say, a Word document) most programs have a “Save As” feature that allows you to save the file as a PDF document. Once you have the file in a PDF format you can use the enlarge (“Poster”) feature in the PDF Print dialogue screen to create the full size plan.

For those of you who have TurboCAD or some other CAD (Computer Aided Design) program installed on your computer I always include the full TurboCAD file when you purchase one of my model aircraft plans. TurboCAD has a built in feature that allows an enlargement of any plan with a tiling feature for the finished print out.

 

Spin Sheet 1 on a single page (left) and 150% enlargement (four tiles) at right

Spin Sheet 1 on a single page (left) and 150% enlargement (four tiles) at right

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

 

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!

Fokker Spin Enlargement and Video

 

 

Fokker Spin in flight

Fokker Spin in flight

Two updates added to the site this weekend. The first is a video of the final version of my 1911 Fokker Spin design, shown on the video page

The Spin is one of my favorite design projects.  The plane has a lot of character with its swept wings and flat frame fuselage, and the ability to easily add simulated rigging with the one of a kind fuselage cabane struts.  You can purchase a set of plans here.

As I usually do with my model airplane designs, I made two variants of the Spin.  The first is a prototype, to ensure the model will properly fly, has enough power, etc.  Once these details are squared away, a second version is built with all of the design inputs from the prototype incorporated.  I then add all of these improvements to the final set of plans.

The second item I added is a picture gallery of Werner’s wonderful version of the Spin.  Werner purchased a set of plans and enlarged them 225%.  This changed the wingspan from my design of 28 inches to Werner’s output with 63 inches. 

This larger model handles well and looks great in the air.  Plus, the larger size is ideal for adding details to the dummy motor, extensive flying wires and adding a pilot figure.  Enlarging plans is a great way to adapt any model airplane plan to create a personalized RC model.

 

View of pilot and dummy engine in Werner's enlarged Fokker Spin RC model

View of pilot and dummy engine in Werner’s enlarged Fokker Spin RC model

Fokker Spin Plan Published

 

 

1911 Fokker Spin front view showing dummy balsa engine cover

1911 Fokker Spin front view showing dummy balsa engine cover

My design of the Fokker Spin was published in the January 2014 issue of Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine.  The editor did a nice job putting together the article, which included a pull-out plan and detailed construction photos. 

See more details here on what steps you can take to get one of your radio control model airplane designs published.  The Spin is my 6th model airplane design to appear in the press.  It takes a bit of work reaching out to the appropriate people at the magazine to get this process started.  But the task can be done, and it is very rewarding to see the finished product in the magazine.

The Fokker Spin is an historic aircraft, paving the way for the numerous fighter aircraft Anthony Fokker later designed for the German Air Force in World War 1.  The Spin takes advantage of Horizon Hobby’s microelectronics which is used in their ParkZone line of foam ready to fly models.  This control and motor suite is small, affordable and ideally suited for indoor flyers like the Spin. 

Page 3 of Jan 2014 publication in Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine of the Fokker Spin

Page 3 of Jan 2014 publication in Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine of the Fokker Spin