New Yard Ace Page

I added a page on my build of a park flyer sized version of my Yard Ace design. Very pleased with the outcome, see details here.

Front view of the 24 inch wingspan version of the Yard Ace design

Front view of the 24 inch wingspan version of the Yard Ace design

The Yard Ace is an easy to build RC model plane that makes for a perfect first build from a set of plans. In this case I demonstrated just how easy it can be to make a smaller version of a model from a set of plans. Same goes for making a larger version, should you wish.

The neat thing about being able to “design as you build” smaller or larger variants of a model from a set of plans is the large universe of new radio control model designs that become available to you.

In a future project I will do just this. First, select a plan of a model designed and built many years ago. Then rebuilt with today’s electric power systems and control electronics. And finally take this “new” model for a flight!

I enjoy Almost and Ready to Fly model aircraft as much as my fellow modelers. Still, it is nice to be able to build something on your own, and have a distinctive aircraft at your club flight line. More to follow!

Park Flyer Yard Ace Test Flight

View of the Parkzone powered Yard Ace on first test flight

View of the Parkzone powered Yard Ace on first test flight

I had a very successful test flight of my smaller version of the Yard Ace last night!

The total weight of the airplane came in at 2.3 ounces, well below my maximum target weight of three ounces (upper weight limit for the Parkzone motor). I had to add a bit of weight to the nose to provide the proper center of gravity balance.

Park flyer sized Yard Ace prior to test flight

Park flyer sized Yard Ace prior to test flight

The plane had plenty of power and flew right out of my hand. Control throw was good, although I think I’ll add either a bit more rudder area or throw to the final version. Handling in the air was smooth ad positive just like the larger version. There was no problem keeping the plane within the confines of my smaller test flight area.

Next steps are to draw up a set of CAD plans for this smaller variant with correct wood sizes as well as modified fuselage and wing layout. As you recall, I used the regular plan to construct this version and adapted structure as needed for the smaller prototype. For example, I’ll lengthen the nose a bit to help reduce the need for nose weight to keep the model within center of gravity limits.

I’ll include this new plan with the regular Yard Ace plan. I also intend to offer a video showing step-by-step how to draw the Yard Ace plan, now that my new Mac offers the capability of screen recording.

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

Yard Ace Construction Begins

Yard Ace three channel RC plane front view

Original size Yard Ace three channel RC plane 

I have started construction on a smaller version of my Yard Ace model airplane design. This variant is sized to accommodate the ParkZone line of electric motor and an electronics brick that contains two linear servos, a receiver and and electronic speed control.

Initial fit of ParkZone motor and electronic control brick

Initial fit of ParkZone motor and electronic control brick

From experience I know that a final model weight of around three ounces works well for the ParkZone motor. As discussed in an earlier post, I enlarged a set of plans to a smaller size from the original Yard Ace to be a better fit for the ParkZone set up.

Fit check of paper wing rib template

Fit check of paper wing rib template

As you build a smaller variant of a model there is an aspect of “designing while you build”. The original wood sizes will no longer be accurate for the new model and must be adjusted accordingly. You will have to consider the need for a strong wing and fuselage structure yet at the same time working constantly to keep weight at a minimum.

Front view of completed Guillow Lancer

Guillow Lancer offers useful insights to wood size needed for smaller Yard Ace variant

In addition the use of lightweight iron-on plastic covering has shown to add a lot of overall strength to the covered structure.

As the target model weight will be under three ounces, the model does not require the robust structure typically used in a larger aircraft. Gaining experience building other examples of indoor models such as the Stevens Aero or Guillow line can give useful insights as to just what size of balsa wood is needed for a successful variant.

More to follow as i complete the wing and next tackle the fuselage!

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

 

Huge Indoor A-10

Technology has truly revolutionized radio control model airplane flight. Indoor electric flight has been a specific beneficiary of these incredibly rapid advances.

A-10 Warthog in flight

A-10 Warthog in flight

As recently as ten years ago it was a remarkable accomplishment to simply fly a model airplane inside a local gym. Batteries and radio control hardware were heavy and the models generally underpowered.

All this changed rapidly with the introduction of micro RC gear and ready-made affordable foam model planes such as those offered by ParkZone. Suddenly, modelers had well flying aircraft that opened up an entire world of indoor RC flight to everyone

Modelers took advantage of advanced technology with light-weight building materials, advanced lipo batteries, micro RC hardware and small electric ducted fans to create advanced and well flying model airplane designs.

AN-225 "Dream"

AN-225 “Dream”

Below are two examples of these pioneering aircraft. The first video demonstrates one of the largest indoor RC aircraft I have ever seen, an A-10 flown in Germany.

The A-10 is an ideal candidate for an electric ducted fan model. The straight wing offer plenty of lift at low airspeeds.  Twin rudders combined with ailerons allow for tight turns required for a constrained flying space.  The model has full-span flaps for added indoor slow flight capability.  This particular variant even has retractable landing gear.  This plane is simply an incredible modeling and engineering accomplishment.

The second example is a smaller model of the Antonov AN-225 Mriya (Dream or Inspiration). The AN-225 is a strategic airlifter built in the Soviet Union in the 1980s to transport the Buran space shuttle aircraft.  Only one AN-225 was ever built.  It was powered by six jet turbofan engines, and the AN-225 is the longest and heaviest airplane ever constructed.
The indoor AN-225 is another remarkable example of today’s RC pilots pushing the limits of model aircraft design and performance. It is hard to imagine what future types of advanced model aircraft will show up on the flight line.

 

Electric Indoor A-10 from Germany

 

Electric powered AN-225 indoor model airplane

RC Guillows Jetstream

One of the nice aspects producing a website on radio controlled model aircraft is hearing from various folks who have made original designs and modifications of their flying aircraft.

I recently heard from Bruce regarding his modification of the Guillows Jetstream free flight rubber powered balsa stick model airplane.

Bruce used the ParkZone ultra-micro brick system to power and guide the Jetstream. As you can see in the pictures, there is not much room to install the control hardware. But Bruce made it happen and flew several successful flights.

Initially the center of gravity was not in the correct location and the Jetstream had a few “stability issues.” Bruce sorted through these on the early test flights. We have all been there with finding the correct CG location for a new model. Bruce fixed this out with a relocation of the receiver/servo brick location and the model performs well.

I have modified one Guillows kit for radio control flight, the Lancer, but not an aircraft this small. It is a testament regarding today’s lightweight RC gear that a project such as this can even be attempted. Good job and thanks for sharing, Bruce!

 

Front view of Jetstream RC modification

Front view of Jetstream RC modification

 

Jetstream side view

Jetstream side view

 

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

Enlarging Yard Ace Plans

Yard Ace electric powered RC model airplane on a fly by

Yard Ace electric powered RC model airplane on a fly by

Yard Ace three channel RC plane front view

Yard Ace three channel RC plane front view

I took the first step on my next aircraft modeling project, making a smaller size version of the Yard Ace.

The Yard Ace is one of my earlier radio control model airplane designs. The Yard Ace uses a simple layout and is easy to build.  The model makes for a great first time plans build modeling project.  Many site visitors have made their own versions of the Yard Ace, to include such adaptations as all-foam construction.

I decided to make a version of the Yard Ace that will be around 75% smaller than the original design. The idea is to build to a size that can use the ParkZone line of ultra-micro radio control electronics and motor.

FedEx plans scanner and enlarger

FedEx plans scanner and enlarger

I really like the ParkZone electronics brick that includes within one unit two servos, a receiver and an electronic speed control. Several of my designs, such as the Fokker Spin and a Guillows conversion have successfully used the ParkZone hardware.

From experience I know a 28 inch wingspan is about the right model size for the thrust put out by the system’s electric motor. I figured out the appropriate enlargement conversion factors to the plans as printed out on my computer’s 8.5” by 11” printer (Yard Ace plans are available here).

8.5" by 11" print out of Yard Ace plans next to enlarged version

8.5″ by 11″ print out of Yard Ace plans next to enlarged version

The next step is to enlarge the plans to produce a full size version for construction of the model.

For this I checked with a nearby FedEx Office store. They have a wide format scanner that will scan in the paper print out of the plan and enlarge to a percentage that you type in.  It really could not be much easier.  The paper roll on this printer was 36 inches wide, so no problem with this smaller size enlargement.

As you can see from the photo, the enlarged plan came out just fine. I am still quite busy with my August United Express flying schedule.  Hope to start building this new version of the Yard Ace during the first week of September!