Flying Alien Sphere Video

As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently purchased the Flying Alien Sphere for $20 at Costco. The Flying Alien Sphere is truly remarkable. The package contains everything needed to fly to include a 3 channel transmitter and built in flight battery charger. The only items you need to add are six AA batteries.

Flying Alien Sphere hovering indoors

Flying Alien Sphere hovering indoors

Oftentimes with these lower priced remote control aircraft the flying qualities leave a bit to be desired. I have had several more flights with the Alien Sphere, and my initial impressions remain the same – this is a high quality, well flying little aircraft.

There are some sort of built in gyros that provide remarkable flight stability. The infrared control link is positive and responsive. Even the trim works as advertised, with no sense of sloppiness as any slight rotations are synched out.

Three channel IR transmitter and Flying Alien Sphere

Three channel IR transmitter and Flying Alien Sphere

I did have a chance to make a short video of the Flying Alien Sphere, please see below. There is nothing to assemble other than inserting six AA batteries to the transmitter. Just take the Sphere out of the box, turn on the transmitter first followed by the Sphere and go fly with whatever charge remains in the flight battery.

The first flying tip I can offer is to practice smooth control inputs with the throttle (up and down flight). The key to flying any of these smaller hovering RC aircraft is getting the feel of the throttle input and response, to prevent the aircraft from jumping up and down.

The Alien Sphere is good in this area. Once you learn to modulate the throttle for a smooth hover it is a simple matter to focus on the rotation and fore and aft movement. Remember that the right stick allows for forward flight only. To have the Sphere move backwards just leave the right stick (controlling the vertical forward movement prop) to the down or off position. The Sphere is trimmed to slowly move backwards, until the forward movement motor is turned on again.

 

Check Out the Flying Alien Sphere

Flying Alien Sphere in a close in hover

Flying Alien Sphere in a close in hover

I just purchased a remarkable indoor remote control product – The “Flying Alien Sphere.” Maybe not the most descriptive name, but this creation consists of a three channel infrared controlled hovering sphere and a transmitter with a built in charger. Incredibly, the entire package costs only $20 at Costco. Note that the Sphere can be ordered on Costco’s website (as well as Amazon on line) or purchased in the store.

Three channel IR transmitter and Flying Alien Sphere

Three channel IR transmitter and Flying Alien Sphere

I have made numerous flights with this Sphere and I am most impressed. A full report will follow to include a video. The Sphere includes a rechargeable battery that provides flight times of up to seven minutes. The charger is built into the transmitter, with the transmitter light going from red to green when the charge is complete.

Detailed photo of the Flying Alien Sphere

Detailed photo of the Flying Alien Sphere

The Sphere appears to be very well constructed. Two contra-rotors provide steady vertical lift and turn capability. A separate miniature vertical electric motor and prop provides forward thrust. A nice feature of the Sphere concept is that the rotors are protected in the plastic cage to prevent damage when you bump into walls or other objects.

The Sphere truly flies well. You slowly add power and the Sphere lifts off. The Sphere is stable, has plenty of power and provides an exceptionally solid feel in its flight responses.

Close up view of Flying Alien Sphere

Close up view of Flying Alien Sphere

There is an easily located trim button on the front of the transmitter to keep the Sphere from rotating. It is the nature of infrared controlled flying products that the trim needs to be tweaked just about every time the transmitter is turned on. No matter, this takes only a moment and allows for steadier flight.

The Sphere is best flown close in so you can orientate yourself to the pusher prop. The prop, when pulsed on with the right transmitter stick, bumps the sphere forward. When the pusher prop is off the Sphere tends to settle in a slow backward movement. In short, this is just what you want to maintain full flight control with three channels.

In summary, for $20 you cannot go wrong with this well made and smooth handling Flying Alien Sphere. A full report will follow soon!

Extra 300 and Flying Update

Hello, everyone. Two updates. The first report is on my full scale flight training and the second on my maiden flight of the UMX Extra 300 micro flyer.

Gordon by Cessna 172 at Daytona Beach airport.

Gordon by Cessna 172 at Daytona Beach airport.

Full scale flight training is going very well. The time needed for this preparation is the reason there have been so few modeling updates to the website, as I am 100% focused to see if I can become a regional airline pilot. Hope to add more modeling updates in the very near future!

Cessna 172 on the ramp at Daytona Beach Airport.

Cessna 172 on the ramp at Daytona Beach Airport.

I returned last week from two weeks of flight training at Airline Transport Professionals flight school’s Daytona Beach location. I was most impressed with their setup at Daytona. ATP had numerous planes on the line to include the Cessna 172, Diamond 40 and twin engine Seminole model.

Garmin 1000

But the important item for me was the Garmin 1000 integrated flight deck in the C-172. This training, 27 flight hours over 12 days, was a perfect chance to sharpen my instrument flying skills while learning the procedures associated with employing the new Garmin 1000 “glass cockpit” architecture.

Garmin 1000 glass cockpit flight display

Garmin 1000 glass cockpit flight display

Between ATP’s thorough series of iPad training videos and the Red Bird simulator, I am caught up on what I need to know to fly under instrument flight rules with the new cockpit displays.

Next training event will be a 7 day Regional Jet certification course with the ATP folks at Jacksonville, Florida. That will begin on 18 Oct. Lots to study and memorize for this simulator training on the CRJ-200 aircraft. Airline applications will be submitted the first week of November. Looking forward to it!

Extra Maiden Flight!

Gordon showing the underside of the Extra 300.

Gordon showing the underside of the Extra 300.

I did get a chance to test fly my new E-flite UMX Extra 300 airplane as the winds had finally died down enough to allow an outdoor flight. Happily, our indoor flying will commence on Sept 22nd at the nearby Forest View Field House.

The Extra 300 is a new ready to fly model from E-flite. The well-constructed plane uses advanced built-in stability augmentation systems as part of the receiver, hence the AS3X descriptor of the model. It is a bit complicated to set this up as you need to ensure your transmitter has the appropriate switches to allow you to move between the various flight modes.

Extra 300 ready for an outdoor flight.

Extra 300 ready for an outdoor flight.

The AS3X modes make automatic and continuous control inputs that allow for steadier flight in light wind conditions as well as various “heading hold” and “hover assist” modes. Key item is that if you take off with the wrong mode set on your transmitter, unexpected flight responses will follow! I found this out the hard way on my initial flight.

Nice view of the Extra 300 inflight

Nice view of the Extra 300 inflight

 

 

On Monday I’ll make a few adjustments and chat with other Extra 300 fliers. Full flight report to follow. Key thing is the model flew very well, in quite bumpy wind conditions, on my first test hop earlier this week. Plus, the model has all the power needed to hover and do various vertical maneuvers.

Full Scale Flying Update

Hello, everyone. Good grief, it has been almost four (4) months since my last update to this blog. Yikes!!!

But, all good at this end. A bunch of things have happened since February. To make a long story short I have decided to try and obtain a job as a commercial pilot. Over the past few months I have been very busy with figuring out how to do this, getting the necessary medical and FAA certificates, along with mapping out a flying currency training course.

Gordon standing in front of a Cessna 172 at Aurora Airport, IL

Gordon standing in front of a Cessna 172 at Aurora Airport, IL

Some background. In addition to my interest in radio control models, I have also enjoyed being a pilot in full scale light aircraft. I have been a pilot for a number of years, to include four years as an FAA Certificated Flight Instructor.

I realized in early February 2014 that there were significant changes coming to the U.S. airline industry due to heightened hiring requirements for pilots (safety issue and laws passes by Congress) combined with a large increase in pilot retirements due to the new FAA requirement for all airline pilots to now end their flying at the age of 65. In short, the timing was perfect to see if a return to commercial flying was possible.

Everything is going well so far in this adventure. I have had several training flights at nearby airports. I am learning new technology, such as the Garmin 1000 “glass cockpit” flight and instrument displays and enjoying a lot of time studying all the various regulations and technical handbooks on commercial flying. The flying skills gained over my 1,600 hours of flying are coming back nicely.

UMX AS3Xtra and Spektrum DX6i transmitter

UMX AS3Xtra and Spektrum DX6i transmitter

Now that things have settled down a bit I am starting to catch up with RC flying! Two days ago I finally received, from back order, my E-flite UMX AS3Xtra indoor RC model plane.

I saw this great model at the February 2014 E-Fest show and knew that I had to have one. I ordered from Horizon Hobby and the plane was put on back order until a few days ago.

The AS3X looks great. I will use my existing Spektrum DX6i transmitter to control it. The instructions are clear. I’ve binded the aircraft to the transmitter and set up the dual rates. Note that with the AS3X technology, built into the receiver, there is no need to program exponential control.

Side view of the UMX AS3Xtra indoor flyer

Side view of the UMX AS3Xtra indoor flyer

I am looking forward to the first flight, but I am not sure when that will occur. Our winter/spring indoor flying sessions recently finished up so I’ll need to wait for a calm wind day to fly outdoors (always a challenge in the Chicago area).

In the meantime, I did find a great YouTube video on programming the DX6i transmitter for the dual rates. Dual rates are required to successfully fly a model like this. Setting up the dual rates on the DX6i is not intuitive the first time you read the manual. The video does a great job walking you through the procedure.

The learning point here is that for just about any challenge you face with RC flight, a YouTube video is out there somewhere to assist you.

 

 

Author: Gordon McKay

Two New Videos Added!

 

I added two videos to the website this past week.

Top view of the Ares Tiger Moth 75 RTF biplane

Top view of the Ares Tiger Moth 75 RTF biplane

The first one is on the Ares Tiger Moth 75.  Ares did a superb job creating this remarkable RC model. The plane looks great and truly captures the character of the original aircraft. The model weighs an incredible half ounce yet has three channels of control.

The Tiger Moth comes completely assembled. The main components, to include the landing gear, lower wing, battery and four wing struts are all held in place by tiny magnets. With this scheme, any inadvertent bump causes these components to simply pop off with no damage.

As a matter of fact, you can see an accidental midair at the end of the video. The Tiger Moth was reassembled and back in the air five minutes later.

And did I mention the Moth flies great?

Front view of the ParkZone Mini Vapor

Front view of the ParkZone Mini Vapor

The second video is on the ParkZone Mini Vapor. The Mini Vapor is, from my calculations, the lightest ready to fly RC model you can purchase. The Mini Vapor weighs just a third of an ounce and has three channels of control.

The Mini Vapor has large all-moving control surfaces for positive flight control. The model is exceptionally well made with every attention to detail to keep things light.

The model normally maneuvers at a 45 degree nose high pitch attitude during slow flight. The Mini Vapor is a fun, easy and stable model to take in the air.

ParkZone Mini Vapor First Impressions

 

I flew my new ParkZone Mini Vapor for the first time this past Monday. See my write up here.

Front view of the ParkZone Mini Vapor

Mini Vapor front view

I am extremely impressed with this remarkable little model. It flies and handles like a much larger and heavier aircraft. The Mini Vapor has plenty of power, exhibits balanced controls and is great fun to maneuver close in.

The Mini Vapor has a wingspan of 8.7 inches and weighs a mere 8.5 grams. I am quite sure this is the lightest production ready to fly RC model airplane available.

The Mini Vapor uses three channels of fully proportional radio control. Two linear servos connect to the all-moving rudder and elevators for positive control authority. The tiny brushless motor is operated by the receiver’s electronic speed control.

Mini Vapor demonstrating close in flight

Demonstrating close in flight

Design attention to detail clear as you examine the aircraft. All efforts are focused on keeping the weight to an absolute minimum. Lander gear placement, wing post attachment tail surface connections are delicate, yet secure. There is even an airfoil shape built into the film covered wing.

The Mini Vapor can takeoff from the ground or start flight with a hand launch. The model is very maneuverable and has a crisp response to control inputs. Nose high slow flight is the Vapor’s forte. With practice, hovers of a sort can be demonstrated. An occasional loop/flip can be flown as well.

The Mini Vapor is an affordable addition to anyone’s indoor flying fleet. The model’s slow flight characteristics make for a great trainer. You cannot go wrong with this fun and ready to fly ultra micro indoor RC model plane.

Ares Tiger Moth First Impressions

 

I flew the new Ares Tiger Moth 75 this past Monday. See my write up here.

Tiger Moth 75 in flight

Tiger Moth in flight

I am very impressed with this remarkable ready to fly model. The Tiger Moth flies and handles like a much larger model aircraft. The plane has plenty of power and the controls have a positive feel.

The Tiger Moth uses an innovative combination of a linear servo for the elevator combined with a magnetic actuator for the rudder.  This attention to detail results in the lightest weigh possible for this semi-scale flyer.

Top view of the Ares Tiger Moth 75 RTF biplane

Tiger Moth top view

The Tiger Moth uses powerful tiny magnets to hold the structure together.  Magnets keep the landing gear, bottom wing, four struts and lipo battery in place.  This is a wonderful feature as the components simply pop off if you have a bump or hard landing, preventing damage.  And it takes just a moment to put everything back together.

The Tiger Moth can takeoff from the ground or start flight with a hand launch. The model is  maneuverable and has a crisp response to control inputs.  The larger rudder provides for tight turns with no indication of a stall.

The Tiger Moth is an affordable addition to anyone’s indoor flying fleet. You cannot go wrong adding this ready to fly micro RC plane to your model collection.

Mini Vapor and Tiger Moth

 

Ares Tiger Moth ready to fly RC model plane

Ares Tiger Moth ready to fly RC model plane

I recently purchased two ready to fly models, Horizon Hobby’s Mini Vapor and the Ares Tiger Moth. Both are interesting models and come from quite differing design perspectives. I look forward to the test flights when our indoor flying venue opens on Sept 16th.

My first impressions are positive. Both models are well made and very light weight. The Mini Vapor uses a lot of carbon rod technology and plastic film covering to achieve its weight goals. The Mini-Vapor uses a 30 milliamp lipo battery. This is one of the smallest batteries I have seen to date. As a general rule, you can get a good idea how serious the designer is by the size of the battery.

The Mini Vapor uses a ParkZone “brick” that combines the receiver, two linear servos and electronic speed control into one compact unit. The brick is located aft to ensure the correct center of gravity.

The Mini Vapor uses all-moving control surfaces which is a useful method for positive control with low flight speeds. There is even an airfoil shape via plastic ribs for the wing.

I made a short test hop in our indoor garage. The Mini Vapor handles well and will provide good practice on paying attention to slow flight characteristics. Learning how to handle an aircraft flying at low airspeeds is a skill sometimes not fully learned by the RC flying community.

Slow flight involves the use of pitch to control airspeed and throttle to gain or lose altitude. Becoming comfortable with slow flight, which is the flight regime for any takeoff or landing, makes you a better pilot. I’ll provide more information on the Mini-Vapor after I complete a few additional test flights.

The Tiger Moth is a great combination value with a 2.4 GHz transmitter, built in charger and a completely assembled aircraft. The Tiger Moth employs an actuator for rudder control and a liner servo for the elevator. The electric motor throttle is via an electronic speed control.

Mini Vapor RC model plane in flight

Mini Vapor in flight

A lot of thought went into the Tiger Moth ready to fly design. The aircraft is made from foam. The wings, struts, landing gear and lipo battery are all held in place with rare earth magnets. This is an innovative technique that I have not seen before.

The advantage of the magnets is their light weight while retaining the ability to allow a part of the aircraft to safely separate in the event of a bump into a wall or hard landing. Glue does not provide this option, while almost certainly adding more weight than the magnets.

The Tiger Moth’s wing incidence settings are precisely set in place via the length of the cabane struts. The foam wings have a well-defined airfoil shape.

All in all, two carefully designed ultra-light weight radio control models. More to follow!

I also added an updated video of my Electro Aviator RC model plane. The Electro Aviator is my second model aircraft design and was published in Quiet and Electric Flight International magazine.

The Electro Aviator is a good looking sport flyer and is an ideal first plans built aircraft. The construction is straightforward and you will be rewarded with an attractive model aircraft that flies well and stands out on the flight line. Purchase a set of CAD plans here.