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!

E-Fest Dates for 2014


The next E-Fest (electric festival) will be held at the University of Illinois indoor track and field house on February 15 and 16, 2014.  E-Fest is held every year at this location in late January/early February.  E-Fest is, in my opinion, the premier indoor electric model airplane show in the country.  E-Fest is well organized with a large number of interesting attendees.  You really need to keep this show on your list of modeling events.

 

Inside the E-Fest Armory Field House at the University of Illinois Champaign

Inside the E-Fest Armory Field House at the University of Illinois Champaign

There are a wide range of indoor electric RC models at E-Fest.  Scale, ready to fly, acrobatic and special interest (such as a flying aircraft carrier) can be seen.  Numerous major vendors set up booths.  There are also a variety of smaller companies and individuals offering model airplane kits, plans, motors and other accessories.

The University of Illinois Armory and field house is an ideal venue for RC flying.  There is a huge, sunlit open space with easily a dozen or more models flying at any one time.  With the advent of 2.4 GHz radio technology there are no delays with obtaining a frequency pin, let along the worry of getting accidentally downed by someone else using your radio channel as in the old days.

 

Attendees at E-Fest indoor RC model airplane show

Attendees at E-Fest indoor RC model airplane show

The part I really enjoy with attending an E-Fest is a chance to view the incredible selection of models and have a chance to chat with the pilots and designers.  Many of the major mail order companies, such as Horizon Hobby and Tower Hobbies have their plant locations just a few miles from the E-Fest site.  Their presence and informed staff members add a lot to the event.

Electric RC opens the door to a range of aircraft subjects that could not reasonably be attempted with gas engines.  As you know from this website, I enjoy the aircraft designed and flown during the first decade of flight.  E-Fest has all sorts of examples of Wright Flyers, Antoinettes and Bleriots to list a few.  These aircraft have the lightweight, open frame structures that lend themselves so well to vibration-free electric power.

 

Superb engine detail on Antoinette radio control model plane

Superb engine detail on Antoinette radio control model plane

As I wander around the flying areas, I learn a lot regarding construction techniques, scale detailing and tricks of the trade that assist with my model design and building efforts. 

For example, one modeler used foam to replace normal balsa parts for a smaller biplane, which he named the Ghost.  I had not thought of this approach, making ribs and formers from foam, while maintaining balsa for a few key structural components such as the main wing spar. 

If nothing else, E-Fest is a great source of inspiration for future projects.  It’s amazing the new design approaches you can devise as you review the photos taken at the event.

One area of electric indoor flight that I need to further develop remains my foam building skills.  There are numerous examples of foam model aircraft, from ducted fan F-117s to four rotor tilt-wing hovercraft.  Foam is a quick and easy way to build and fly a prototype of a new design.  This is a smart way to sort out wing incidence, center of gravity and motor mount settings before going to a final version.  At the 2013 E-Fest, there was a great example of a 1909 Antoinette made completely from foam.

 

Vickers Vimy World War I twin engine bomber

Vickers Vimy World War I twin engine bomber

E-Fest also has a remarkable collection of one of a kind flying models.  The 2012 show had a flying radio controlled aircraft carrier.  This unique aircraft had a set of four vertically mounted electric motors in a quad-copter arrangement put around a hull of a carrier.  The model took off, hovered and allowed smaller micro-models to take off from the air. 

Other originals include a Spiderman superhero with moveable feet and hands for control surfaces, and a motor and prop cleverly installed in the head region.  Plus, Spiderman looked great looping around in the air.

E-Fest is fun for the entire family.  Kids get to build and fly hand launched models.  And there is always something going on in the air to entertain the younger crowd.  Getting new blood into the RC modeling scene remains a top priority for all of us, and we should embrace events such as this to help meet this goal.

Champaign, Illinois is easy to get to if you are in the Chicago area, just about a two hour drive south from Chicago.  As I mentioned earlier, E-Fest is well worth a trip from wherever your location might be.  Don’t miss it!

Author:  Gordon McKay

Back in the Saddle


Hello everyone.  I have been away from the website for a month, but I am happy to now be back.  The November 9th wedding of our son, Michael to his new bride Katie could not have gone any better.  We are so happy for the new couple.  Right after the wedding I had a few business trips.  But I am home for a while and can catch up with modeling and website issues.

 

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

The first item of good news is that my design of the 1911 Fokker Spin will be included in the January 2014 issue of Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine.  Tony Van Geffen, the editor of Q&EFI and I have been in contact through the magic of e-mail. Tony’s United Kingdom based group has the CAD plans, a construction article and a set of pictures.  I am looking forward to seeing how this comes out.  The Fokker Spin will be my 6th published radio control model airplane plan.

Speaking of the Fokker Spin, Werner has created a one of a kind variant of this model.  Werner lives in Germany and has a stable of early aviator radio control model aircraft that he has constructed.  Werner is a world-class builder, and this is evident in all of his modeling projects.

 

Werner's 225% enlargement of the Fokker Spin showing structure details

Werner’s 225% enlargement of the Fokker Spin showing structure details

What is interesting with Werner’s approach is that he will take an existing design and enlarges it to meet his requirements.  Werner took my design of the 1912 Blackburn Monoplane and enlarged it to 125% of the original size.  Per his YouTube video, the model flies exceptionally well.

Werner then took my 28 inch wingspan plan for the Fokker Spin and enlarged it 225%.  The pictures speak for themselves.  The pictures also provide a learning experience in the design work that must be done to adapt the structure to the higher flight loads with these heavier models.

The final result produces a Spin with a 1.6 meter wingspan and a weight of 610 grams.  This larger size allows the addition of much more scale details, to include the distinctive side radiators, a very attractive dummy engine and a full figure pilot. 

Werner’s Spin has not yet flown.  I am certainly looking forward to hearing about the first flight, and will let you know the moment I learn about it.  Hopefully, Werner will include another video!

A final news item that everyone needs to be aware of is the date for E-Fest!  The next E-Fest will be in Champaign, IL on February 15 and 16, 2014. 

E-Fest is probably the world’s best indoor electric radio control model event.  I have been to three previous E-Fest shows.  Well organized, tons of flying (especially with today’s 2.4 GHz radios), lots of static displays and numerous vendors.  Champaign is just a two hour drive south from Chicago, not hard to get to if you are in the area.  Please don’t miss it!

Detailed underside view of Werner's 225% enlarged Fokker Spin

Detailed underside view of Werner’s 225% enlarged Fokker Spin

Model Design, Top Flite DC-3

 

I added two items to the website this week.

Electric powered Top Flite DC-3

Electric powered Top Flite DC-3

The first is a page on design procedures to draw up an RC model plane. This will be the start of several pages and postings that will provide specific information on what size model to build, setting fuselage length and determining the proper wing span.

As you gain design skills you will learn that there are exceptions to every rule. But these guides are a starting point.

I do mention (and use) the TLAR method for model airplane design. TLAR stands for That Looks About Right. As a general rule, if an airplane “looks right” there is a good chance it will fly right. Sometimes you just have to take a look at a finished design and make changes based on inspection.

Retro RC electric powered model airplane

Retro RC electric powered model airplane

Thus a good design approach is to use the dimension rules in the article on model airplane design and see it the finished product looks right.

I had this situation happen to me during the design of my Yard Ace. The prototype’s wing was just a bit too short. The model flew well, but had to be flown at a high airspeed to prevent a stall. On the final version I added two inches to each wing. The result was a much smoother flight at a lower airspeed, all due to the increase in wing area.

The second item added is a video from the Rock Valley RC Flyers All Electric model airplane meet held on August 18, 2013. This was a fun gathering of RC flyers featuring kit built and ready to fly electric models.

Of note was a very nicely done Top Flite DC-3. Darryl finished his DC-3 in American Airlines colors. This is a most appropriate choice as Darryl is a Captain flying for American Airlines out of Chicago. Darryl installed retracts made for the Top Flite kit and follows a flight profile just like the full scale bird.

 

TurboCAD, ParkZone and Fond du Lac

 

I made three new additions to the website over the past week.

The first item is an updated video on using TurboCAD to draw radio control model airplane plans. TurboCAD is a sound computer aided design (CAD) program choice for the RC hobbyist who wants to prepare a set of model aircraft construction plans.

ParkZone combination receiver, two servos and electronic speed control

ParkZone combination receiver, two servos and electronic speed control

TurboCAD is affordable at around $130 for the deluxe version (includes 2D and 3D drawing tools). TurboCAD is easy to learn once you understand some of the fundamental tasks that any CAD program employs, such as trim, snap and mirror.

The video gives an introduction to the TurboCAD user interface. You will see a demonstration of the thought out and flexible user interface, such as floating tool bars. You will also understand that you need to learn just a few basic commands (lines, circles and curves) to draw a set of plans. There is no need to study every nuance of this mature CAD program.

I added a page on the ParkZone line of ultra-micro radio control electronics. The ParkZone RC gear is installed in their popular Bind-N-Fly line of ready to fly foam micro RC models.

Albatross WW-I fighter at Fond du Lac RC Airshow

Albatross WW-I fighter at Fond du Lac RC Airshow

The ParkZone combo has a “brick” that contains a radio receiver, electronic speed control and two linear servos matched with a tiny geared electric motor. This unit makes a compact power and control solution for models weighing less than about three ounces and having a wingspan of under about 30 inches. You really cannot go wrong using the ParkZone electronics unit in your next indoor flyer.

Although this website is focused on electric radio controlled model aircraft, I do like to cover other interesting RC models and events. On Aug 16th I had the chance to visit the Fond du Lac “Warbirds and Classics Over the Midwest” model airplane meet at Wellnitz Field. This superb flying facility is located about a 2.5 hour drive north of Chicago.

The four day fun fly, held in August each year, was well run. Lots of pilots flew an interesting mix of large scale military aircraft. The craftsmanship and flying were exceptional. Jet turbine, gas engine and electric powered models were airborne at all times. Below is a video of my tour of the flight line and pit area.