OuterZone Free Plans

OuterZone homepage showed latest plans added

OuterZone homepage showed latest plans added

I added a page today on a website offering over 8,700 free plans for vintage model aircraft. The site is OuterZone.

A wide range of model aircraft plans, drawn from 1913 to the 1970 are available for download. Models include free flight, radio control and control line aircraft.

The site offers plans that you will have to enlarge to full size. But these are complete model aircraft construction plans, not simply three views.

Back in this era of model aviation Almost Ready to Fly models did not exist. Everyone had to either build their own aircraft or acquire them at a swap meet. There was a thriving business with numerous aircraft plans offered for sale. As modelers could construct their planes from kits, most modelers could build from a set of plans as well.

The neat thing about these plans is the opportunity to build a model not usually seen at the flying field. Plans offer an easy route to make the necessary modifications for electric flight, as well as a change in the size of the model from the original.

All in all, another great way to explore the hobby of radio control model flight!

 

RCM Southern Gentleman plan, a perfect candidate for relaxing electric powered RC flight

RCM Southern Gentleman plan, a perfect candidate for relaxing electric powered RC flight

Stevens Aero BuzzBomb 400 Kit Review

I added a page on my construction of the Stevens Aero BuzzBomb 400 radio control model airplane. The kit went together like all other Stevens Aero kits, that is to say just as the instructions showed.  The laser engineering employed in all of the Stevens kits comes through with the BuzzBomb.

I ran into a few challenges with the alignment of the outer wing panels as well as the placement of the landing gear. In the page I discuss fixes for these issues.

The completed BuzzBomb makes for a fun sport flyer and manages to capture the inherent stability and sound flying characteristics of the original free flight inspiration. The photo illustrated construction guide walks you through each step.  The end result is a well flying model that is different from the various ready to fly models at your local flying field.  Do give this model a try!

Front view of the completed Buzz Bomb

Front view of the completed Buzz Bomb

Buzz Bomb First Flight!

Stevens Aero Buzz Bomb now complete, ready for first flight

Stevens Aero Buzz Bomb now complete, ready for first flight

I am happy to report that I had a successful maiden flight this afternoon of my Buzz Bomb at the Stone Mountain RC Flyers club field.

Today was a first on several fronts.  This was the first time I had flown outdoors with a club in around 11 years.  Previous flying in Chicago was indoors due to the cold and windy weather.  This was also my first time with multi-cell lipo batteries.

View of the Stone Mountain RC Flyers paved runway and pilot area

View of the Stone Mountain RC Flyers paved runway and pilot area

The Stone Mountain RC Flyers have a great facility with an ample number of setup tables, covered work areas, electrical plugs and even newly installed cooling fans.  Plus, a paved runway to boot!

After an inspection by club officers, the Buzz Bomb was ready to fly.  I was a bit nervous as I set everything up.  But the wind was right down the runway and the initial take off and flight went very well.

Maiden flight of the Buzz Bomb is complete

Maiden flight of the Buzz Bomb is complete

The Buzz Bomb has a nice a positive feel, although George mentioned a bit of expo would help smooth out the flight.  I agree and will act on this when I return home after a six day United Express trip that starts tomorrow.

I also need to do something regarding the landing gear.  As the Buzz Bomb is a recreation of the 1940s classic free flight design, the landing gear in those early days of flight, for whatever reason, extended forward.  This always makes for tricky ground handling characteristics with radio control variants.  I think I will work something to make the landing gear more straight down at the attachment point, as well as to add in some toe-in to assist with straight ground tracking.

In any event, I am very pleased with today’s Buzz Bomb first flight and look forward to working out the minor kinks. I’ll provide a full update of my building experience with the Buzz Bomb in a later update to the website.

Maiden flight of Stevens Aero Buzz Bomb

Maiden flight of Stevens Aero Buzz Bomb

Electric RC Beginners

One of the neat items with working on a website like this is the various e-mails I get from visitors.

Following are two great examples:

Initial placement of the motor and RC electronics in the Guillow Lancer

Initial placement of the motor and RC electronics in the Guillow Lancer

Hi Gordon,

I stumbled upon your website as I am looking for some advice. I recently bought this old vintage plane model which actually used to fly with gas.
I’d like to restore it and make it fly again, but I have no idea where to look for help.

Do you have any direction/ recommendation?

Do you think it is worth trying to make it fly at all?

Thank you!

S.

Or this note from Mike:

Gordon: Thanks, I received the Yard Ace plans fine.

Detailed view of the nose section of the Stevens Aero 1919 White Monoplane

Detailed view of the nose section of the Stevens Aero 1919 White Monoplane

Having been out of modeling for years, I am “re-learning” techniques, etc. It’s all new for me. I have grandsons who are interested in modeling. Having no experience for electric motors, where and how can I learn about them, especially where to look for a motor for a 10oz. model.

Or any resources on small radio contol electronics. I am a wakefield/free flight guy, and no experience with RC.  Thanks!

Mike

It is fun to see modelers reentering modeling and radio control fight, working to learn about electric power systems.

I was in the same situation when I first flew electric powered model aircraft in 2000. Everything, and I mean everything, was new at the time. Back then it was nicad batteries, brushed geared electric motors and building models as light as humanly possible to ensure any type of successful flight.

Close up of the Finch nose section and fuselage underside

Close up of the Finch nose section and fuselage underside

Today, with the use of lipo batteries, computer controlled chargers and balancers combined with an incredibly wide range of electric motors, just about any model plane can be successfully “electrified” and truly fly well.

The question remains, with this wealth of information, where to start?

I’ve added a new section on Beginners which will attempt to answer some of these questions, and more importantly provide a framework to seek further answers as new hardware and software items become available.

The first entry covers motors and electronic speed controls, plus the selection of a lipo battery and charger. More to follow!

Modeling Tools

I’ve added a new section to the website pull-down menu bar on useful modeling tools.

I like to build RC model planes and I certainly encourage others to give this aspect of the hobby a try. With the proliferation of almost and ready to fly radio control models there is a distinct lack of kit and plans build models at your typical flying field.

Interestingly enough, with the universal use of computer aided design and laser cutting machines, there is a wide range of high quality model airplane kits available. It really is very easy these days to find and build your own kit. Stevens Aero with their step-by-step photo illustrated guides is a perfect example of this trend.

All metal "The Jigs Up" jig used to hold electrical components in place for precise soldering

All metal “The Jigs Up” jig used to hold electrical components in place for precise soldering

As you build a model airplane it is imperative that you have the right tools for the various tasks ahead. There are a range of tools needed and some modelers have more than others. But is it necessary to have at least the basics to get the job done.

A great example of this discussion involves electrical soldering. If you fly electric radio control models, at some point you will have to do some basic soldering. This can involve hooking up electrical plugs such as Dean connectors or putting gold bullet plugs to connect the motor to the electronic speed control.

While I will not go into the details of how to solder on this post, it is vital that you have the correct tools, such as a hot solder iron and fixture jig.

You can see here a neat tool that is an immeasurable assist with soldering, and that is a jig to hold the wires and connectors in place. Soldering a joint involves a rapid application of heat to the connection as solder is flowed on. There is no way to simply put the pieces in place on a table and hope the solder joint comes out well. You have to have some sort of jig to properly hold everything precisely in place.

I found this Whats Up soldering jig via a Google search, which is an great method to search for anything related to RC. A few clicks later and the device was in my workshop.

In summary, you absolutely must get the right tools to build any model airplane correctly. Tools are a perfect investment, last a lifetime and produce superior flying models.

Stevens Aero Buzz Bomb Almost Complete

Nearly completed Buzz Bomb fuselage

Nearly completed Buzz Bomb fuselage

I am making significant progress on completing my Stevens Aero Buzz Bomb!

The fuselage and wing are covered as are the tail surfaces. I managed to figure out how to charge my Thunder Power lipo batteries with the wonderful Thunder Power TP610C-ACDC charger. I’ll add a separate page on this charger as it looks to be an ideal charger for small to medium size batteries.

All metal "The Jigs Up" jig used to hold electrical components in place for precise soldering

All metal “The Jigs Up” jig used to hold electrical components in place for precise soldering

I also purchased a neat jig to hold various electrical connectors in place for soldering tasks. When I first started in electric RC flight 15 years ago (with nicad batteries), I constructed a balsa wood jig using a clothes pin to hold wires and connectors in place for soldering.

A quick search on Amazon came up with the “The Jigs Up” all-metal jig device which works out perfectly. Again, more details to follow on this very useful tool.

Thunder Power TP610C-ACDC lipo charger with included balancing board

Thunder Power TP610C-ACDC lipo charger with included balancing board

I must say that Amazon is a great place to search for RC related items, from tools to servos. You get the usual Amazon fast service, as well as a chance to read the all important customer reviews.

I got my new Spektrum Dx6i transmitter up and running and binded to the receiver. With the lipo battery charged and connected to the electronic speed control, the motor ran fine and the servos worked properly.

The outrunner motor and electronic speed control (I used the ones recommended by Stevens Aero) mounted easily onto the Buzz Bomb. I plan to finish the last bits of installation tomorrow.

The kit has been a pleasure to construct with no major surprises. A full build and flight review to follow after I get her airborne!

Buzz Bomb Update

Construction is progressing well on my new Stevens Aero Buzz Bomb. All of the balsa wood aircraft structures are now complete and ready for a final sanding. Covering and installation of radio equipment and the motor will be the next building agenda items.

Buzz Bomb fuselage nearing completion

Buzz Bomb fuselage nearing completion

The kit has gone together exceptionally well to date. The only issue that I ran into regarded alignment of the wing tips. The model uses a polyhedral concept with the outer third of the wind having extra dihedral to provide lateral stability. This was a very common technique in the early days of free flight model airplane in an attempt to come up with a more inherently stable design.

Initial construction of wing center section

Initial construction of wing center section

The issue with the kit is that the wing end sections are butt-glued in place to the end of the wing inner section. The outer third of the wing is dry assembled. It is fairly easy to have a wash in or wash out twist, whereby the wing’s outer section is not aligned with the inner wing sections. This is evident when the wing is carefully laid flat on the building board.

Luckily I spotted this early on. I made a few breaks where the wing tip section was glued to the main wing, aligned back to the proper incidence (no wash out, same incidence as the main wing panel) and glued in place. The follow on installation of the upper stringers made the entire structure complete and strong.

View of photo illustrated Buzz Bomb construction manual

View of photo illustrated Buzz Bomb construction manual

Bottom line, for a three channel model such as this (i.e. no ailerons) where the wing is constructed in three segments, ensure that the completed wing is flat and at the same incidence. Note that any final adjustments on the wing’s incidence can be taken care of with final sanding as well as even installation of the heat shrink covering.

Do note the photo illustrated construction manual, a standard feature with all Stevens kits. This covers every single step with a dedicated photo and clear instructions of what needs to be done. The manual is so thorough that full size plans are not included, really quite amazing for any kit. But the unique Stevens Aero interlocking build process works out just fine.

 

Completed Buzz Bomb wing structure

Completed Buzz Bomb wing structure

Start of the Buzz Bomb!

I am happy to report that my new RC workshop is “open” and airplane construction has commenced!

Front view of an ignition engine powered Buzzard Bombshell free flight model airplane

Front view of an ignition engine powered Buzzard Bombshell free flight model airplane

For my first build I will construct the Stevens AeroModel Buzz Bomb. The Buzz Bomb is a modern retake of a free flight classic, the Buzzard Bombshell, designed by Joe Konefes in 1940.

View of my new model airplane workshop

View of my new model airplane workshop

Joe did a remarkable job creating this aircraft. Using an ignition gas engine, the first flight at the 1940 Nationals marked an impressive world record flight time of 49 minutes and 40 seconds. Remember, this was in the age before CA glue, the internet to share learning experiences, reliable glow engines, any sort of radio control system, etc.

Nice stack of premium grade balsa as well as photo illustrated build instructions for the Stevens Aero Buzz Bomb

Nice stack of premium grade balsa as well as photo illustrated build instructions for the Stevens Aero Buzz Bomb

A nice aspect of these early free flight models is that they really had to have sound design and flight characteristics as there was no chance to correct a build or trim error with a radio control system. In short, these planes just had to fly right and exhibit no bad habits.

Stevens Aero adapted the basic outline, areas and moments of the original Buzzard Bombshell in their remake of the Buzz Bomb. The Buzz Bomb should fly in a close-in, slow and realistic manner. In short, an ideal first plane for my foray into larger size electric models.

Buzz Bomb fuselage 50% complete

Buzz Bomb fuselage 50% complete

So far the construction is progressing as with other Stevens Aero kits, i.e. with no problems. Every step is clearly outlined with an accompanying photo. The balsa is top quality and the laser cutting extremely accurate. The fuselage is nearing completion and the wing will be next.

Looking forward to a nice flying electric model and a “shout out” to the free flight pioneers of model airplane flight from 75 years ago.

SEFF and New Workshop

Unique direction indicator at SEFF

Unique direction indicator at SEFF

I had a chance to visit the Southeast Electric Flight Festival, held at Hodges Field in Americus, Georgia on April 13th.  SEFF is one of the country’s premier electric flight venues with a range of electric powered models on display and doing their thing in the air.

Southeast Electric Flight Festival flightline

Southeast Electric Flight Festival flightline

Due to work commitments we could only visit during the start of the Festival on April 13th, with folks arriving to set up their tents, models and flying support stations. The main body of flying started the next day and continues through the weekend.

Hodges field is a perfect location for this sort of event with huge grassy runways, plenty of flying areas, on site camping and even a pond for water flying. I look forward to a longer visit in 2017!

Workbench with pegboard

Workbench with pegboard backing

Back on the home front we are making great progress with the refinish of our basement. It is just about complete as the pictures of my new work shop will attest.

Newly installed workshop shelves

Newly installed workshop shelves

I purchased the Stevens Aero BuzzBomb 400 old timer RC model plane and will begin building soon. I also ordered a Thunder Power RC charger with lipo batteries.  I need just a few more supplies and a couple of days off from work before construction can commence.  Will keep you posted!

Kit Bashing and the Dreamlifter

Korean Air B-747-400 touching down

Korean Air B-747-400 touching down

A great way to begin with radio control aircraft design is to “kit bash” a model made from a kit or set of plans. The idea behind “bashing” is to make simple changes in an aircraft’s shape and dimensions such that the overall flight characteristics will not change yet you have a plane that differs in appearance from the original version.

Bashing does not require drafting skills as you can eyeball the various changes. Examples would be changing the shape of the rudder and fin, perhaps lengthen the wingspan or add an upper deck.

Singapore Airlines B-747-400 on landing approach

Singapore Airlines B-747-400 on landing approach

As a general rule it is acceptable to change a control surface outline if you maintain the same surface area. Same goes for the wing.  For example you can increase the wing span without any harm to the flight handling characteristics.  On the other hand you could run into problems if you reduced the wingspan, as the smaller wing area would now have to support more aircraft weight per square inch.

Side view of the Boeing Dreamlifter

Side view of the Boeing Dreamlifter

Once you bash a few of your models it is a logical next step to consider designing an original airplane of your own!

Believe it or not, “bashing” occurs in a similar vein with full scale aircraft. The changes could be a simple as adding a canopy to an open cockpit homebuilt to a fuselage stretch of a jet airliner.  Perhaps one of the best examples of “bashing” a full scale aircraft is Boeing’s B-747 Dreamlifter.

Swing tail assembly on the Boeing Dreamlifter

Swing tail assembly on the Boeing Dreamlifter

When Boeing designed their new B-787 Dreamliner, ANA (All Nippon Airways) was one of the initial customers with an order of 50 aircraft. As part of this initial launch ANA built the wing for the B-787.  Fuselage production was also planned for the B-787 in Italy.

Boeing was faced with the problem of how to safely get these very large sub-assemblies to the Boeing factories in Washington and South Carolina. It would have taken up to 30 days to ship these items overseas via cargo ship and rail.  There was debate if this would even be a feasible approach due to the huge size of the assembly.

Boeing Dreamlifter taking off

Boeing Dreamlifter taking off

Boeing’s solution was to “bash” a B-747-400 to allow carriage of the fully assembled B-787 wings and fuselage sections. This entailed detailed engineering studies that created the Dreamlifter.

Four of these huge cargo aircraft exist and they are used solely to fly B-787 sub-assemblies from Japan and Italy to the United States for final assembly

The Boeing Moscow office did some of the initial Computer Aided Design work for the enlarged fuselage with a Spanish company devising the swing tail. Modifications of the B-747-400 were completed in Taiwan.

At 65,000 square feet the B-747 Dreamlifter’s cargo hold is the largest of any aircraft in the world, and three times larger than a B-747-400 freighter.

Interestingly enough, even after all of these changes the Dreamlifter flies much like an unmodified B-747-400.  Pilots who are type rated in the B-747-400 are fully qualified on the Dreamlifter with no special FAA check ride required.

There is a lesson to be learned here that with this amount of outline and fuselage volume changes to the Dreamlifter with minimal impact on flight characteristics, the same approach can be applied to changes with our radio control model aircraft. Go ahead and give it a try!