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Back to the basics and on to the next level-The next phase of my RC Experience(learning diary)

Vimana89

Well-known member
#1
I feel that I'm at another critical turning point in the hobby/journey of designing, building, and flying RC aircraft, and that with the experience I have now and the direction I want to head in, it is the perfect time to share my experiences, lessons learned, challenges, etc., as well as some of the random RC related musings, ideas, and future plans I may have, in a fashion similar to how @mayan and @basslord1124 have been doing it.

For those who might know nothing about me, I'll give a brief summary. I joined in late 2018 with absolutely no practical experience in RC design, building, and flying(but wanting to do all three), having simply seen a lot of YouTube videos, flown a couple cheap RC planes as a teen. I have also been around full scale aviation to some degree or another for all of my life, so I have some passing knowledge of planes here and there, and had made many fancy paper planes as a kid, but at the time I joined FT, I had forgotten everything I may have ever picked up about aerodynamics, including even the names of different control surfaces and how they worked. All that considered, I came in right from the start wanting to work with my own(rather unconventional) design ideas right off the bat, without having bought a ready to fly trainer, built a kit, built off a plan, or even used a simulator. I'm sure most people who don't know the whole story can guess how that went, so that's why I came here to the forum looking for help.

When I first joined, I was(and still am), not at a great place in my life. I had an awful attitude about my experiences with the hobby up to that point, the learning process, and life in general, though I was desperate for a fulfilling hobby, sense of accomplishment, and creative outlet, and RC seemed like a good thing for all of that. I was stubborn at first, impatient, and desperate to prove myself and jump right into my own designs. Despite my bad attitude and approach, I got nothing but enthusiastic help, constructive criticism, and encouragement here, so much more than I would even have expected, and it softened my attitude a bit. I started listening to some advice, making some compromises(that actually turned out to be shortcuts to my goals rather than detours), used a sim, bough a simple trainer, and actually started to see some success, including with a few of my own designs!

Now, here I am, a few months after my first successful flight with a trainer and some of my first designs earlier this year. I can now reliably record footage and have a YouTube, though I'm still not the best at editing and filming. Since my first successes, which were low aspect 3ch RET planes, I have sort of gone on a stint of obsessively slapping together quick, simple, RET planes, and trying a lot of different low aspect designs, usually quick stuff that takes a single evening to make, like Nutball and Flyer level stuff. I've gotten pretty good at building and flying those Nutbally type planes, and even got a slender delta build to fly well on RET(actually one of my first designs to work), but I've had a bit of trouble trying to design and build more "conventional" types of planes(although I can fly store bought ones like the Champ fine) and in moving out of RET and into 3ch AET(ailerons). I've also definitely hit a wall with the slender delta trying step up to elevons.

Why did I start hitting these walls? Well, I have a way of putting the cart in front of the horse and jumping ahead into stuff, and going my own way before learning all the basics. So far, in balance and with a few compromises, that method has actually been pretty successful in getting me very far very fast, but I'm at a point where I'm going to want to drop back and shore up some holes in my basic knowledge base and methods, some of the "little stuff" I overlooked early on, like not discharging batteries past a certain point or storing them charged past a certain point, and having the tools like battery alarms and a watt meter, for example, as well as some basic aerodynamic related stuff. I'd like to avoid getting stuck in a rut and still only be able to build and fly low aspect RET planes with no air foil(as awesome as those are!) a year from now, while a lot of other people who took a more conventional approach are already building and flying much more ambitious and complex planes.

Anyway, long spiel over, thanks for listening. Time to set a few goals and objectives for moving forward.
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#2
These are the current objectives I'll be focusing on:

1.) get comfortable with ailerons(and eventually even do rolls, 3ch elevons, and move up to 4ch)
2.) learn how to best maintain and get the most out of all my equipment
3.)try some different varieties of plane(more straight wings, different varieties of delta besides slender, etc.)
4.) get my knowledge of aerodynamics and electronic parts to where I can better predict how a plane will perform before I fly it, and build a plane better around a certain setup and predict how it will perform rather than having to experiment with different props and batteries, CG and weight, etc. after it is already designed, built, and flying.
5.)quick builds are good and worth cranking out from time to time, but I want to slow down a bit and try some more, complex, ambitious projects sometimes as well. Also, even with my quicker builds(at least the ones that have been more or less perfected), I'd like to take more time on the fit, finish, and durability of my builds.
 
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Vimana89

Well-known member
#3
The new tailed delta is definitely getting me a feel for ailerons. What's more difficult for me about ailerons, is RET with dihedrals and rudder lets a plane sort of cheat potentially fatal stalls, and since it isn't as "real time", the turns sort of pull themselves through somewhat, and if you over bank you just Dutch roll rather than a crazy stall. There's also the auto-leveling which adds to the effect. With ailerons, banking too drastically at low speeds almost always stalls the plane out, as have some drastic maneuvers at moderate to higher speed. What I can say about this new plane is that I've found a reliable way out of those ugly death spiral stalls, and maybe it would have saved more of my early AET birds: throttle is the panic button! Every time I've entered that ugly downward spiral and gunned the throttle, she came out straight and level or straight at a slight climb. I will look at potential improvements to this design in its own thread.
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#4
For anyone unfamiliar with Dave Herbert, YouTube Channel NightFlyyer https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvPYY0HFGNha0BEY9up4xXw, his channel is totally worth a subscribe. He's been in the hobby a long time, but I only stumbled on his channel recently and commented back and forth with him on a couple of his vids. He built the most scale replica of the "Ancient Aliens" plane I've seen, and has been flying what most of us today would refer to as a Nutball since the 70's! From what I know, he was one of the first if not the first to rig lights to an RC plane and night fly.

Ancient Aliens

Elevon "Nutball"

Massive Cub

He also flies nitro helicopters very well, even does stunts and 3d, but not recklessly, which is something I'd be pretty terrified of, and you have to be very good to do safely.
 
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Vimana89

Well-known member
#8
I'm going to order a few rather inexpensive items here soon. Foremost, I want some battery voltage alarms. It's time I start maintaining my batteries right. Those are cheap, and I remember at least one may have come a while back with a battery I ordered for something, but I probably stashed it away somewhere or lost it. I'll look around. I also want to pick up some props, I need more 6x3 and I want to try some more powerful six blade props on my beat up big slender delta to get it really flying right.

I think 6x4x3 will be strong, but maybe a bit much? I couldn't find 6x3x3, I'll look harder. Maybe somebody makes a 6x3x4, would suck power but be interesting. I could go straight up to 6x4x2 or 6x4.5x2, but these really slender designs tend to do better with a three blade prop. Another thing, I want to try double sided servo tape for prototyping and easier builds. Salvaging glued on servos can be a hassle, and wears them out. Either way, the slender delta design won't be seeing much more development and innovation until I've rounded out my skills. It will stay in its RET fun flyer phase for now, and I'll just be doing further flight tests and possible rebuilds.

My main design and build projects right now are to continue flight testing and polishing my new tailed delta design, start working on hand drawn and possibly other methods for plans for my Floating Kidney for FTFC20, take another shot at improving my other FTFC20 entry('39 P.A. Special) and making plans for it too. RET slender delta rebuilds for both size versions are sort of the filler/side projects at the moment.

For flying, continue flying with ailerons. Slow, fast, a little more daring...maybe try some loops or rolls now that I can throttle out of an otherwise fatal stall. I also want to set down a surface for smooth landings some time on a nice, calm day and practice landing with gear and hitting the mark with my Hobby Zone Champ and possibly the Floating Kidney with its jury rigged Cub gear, and also attempt to land on the runway with my belly landers. Longer, straighter passes might be another good thing for me to practice with every plane I have to the best of its ability. It will reveal any subtle trim slop too.
 
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Vimana89

Well-known member
#9
I'll definitely be watching, you've done some awesome work so far, and I'm there is more incredible stuff to come!!
Thanks! I wouldn't be as far as I am without all the encouragement here. You have been extremely helpful since the very beginning, both of you that have commented so far, and many more. I definitely wouldn't have a published resource without @Grifflyer ! That will be a side project here soon, a rebuild of the original V Sliver, using the those extremely nice plans you made for it. I'd like that to be my first build using a printed template.
 

basslord1124

Well-known member
#10
Hey sometimes it's good to step out on a limb and just go for it. I commend you for that. To be able to do something different, unconventional, and strictly your own...that's basically creativity and using your imagination. Which I think in the newer generations they need more of that. And really being creative is part of what makes this hobby fun too. I say keep doing what you are doing...learning, flying, crashing, innovating.

I'm not sure what in the world I have to do with this but thanks for the tag lol. :p
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#11
Hey sometimes it's good to step out on a limb and just go for it. I commend you for that. To be able to do something different, unconventional, and strictly your own...that's basically creativity and using your imagination. Which I think in the newer generations they need more of that. And really being creative is part of what makes this hobby fun too. I say keep doing what you are doing...learning, flying, crashing, innovating.

I'm not sure what in the world I have to do with this but thanks for the tag lol. :p
Hey, thanks! I tagged you and @mayan for one because I commented on how both of you have similar logs/diaries to what I made this thread to be, and also because both of you have been fun and encouraging to talk to since pretty early on near when I started.
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#12
Gonna take out the tailed delta today. Another thing that might be coming up soon as something I want to try:a prop slot fighter,either profile or a basic folded fuselage. The three main ones I've been thinking about are the F-94,F-104,and F-5.
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#14
Today I will order me some new props and a couple battery alarms. I will also get a roll of double sided servo tape and see how I like that. I may try shortly to fly the arrowhead with some wind interference, but nothing too extreme. Learning to fly ailerons well opens up a lot of doors to me. I can try a fighter jet, something classic civil aviation, a warbird, or something a little less conventional as there are some sort of Nutballish AET builds and stuff out there too. I'd like to polish up my '39 PA special, but after that, not quite sure what direction to head.
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#15
Didn't get around to ordering the accessories yesterday. Will try today. Got some new foam, blue paper on one side white on the other, same brand as the other colored/white ones I've used. Heavier papering than Adams but stronger and more scratch/wrinkle resistant. I may try my hand at a quick profile build to continue my journey with ailerons. I want a wing almost like the FT flyer/f-104, very long airlinerish nose for easy CG, and a prop in slot.
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#19
That looks really cool, getting proper CG should be super easy:p
CG was not hard to attain, that's why I did the long nose(besides looks)but this had numerous other issues that made it fly bad(just tested). It flew better with the nose ripped off, but still prone to the most random stalls. I think it was a combo of structural integrity,size,motor mount, overall slop, and the control system layout is also a bit suspect. Cool diversion, but it's time for me to put the random experiments on hold a bit and double down on the good designs. Arrowhead and '39 are going to be polished up next.
 

Vimana89

Well-known member
#20
Cleaned out my scrap foam, tossed the bent and really warped pieces and ones too small or skinny to make stuff. Realized how wasteful I've been with my whole process. Going to store my foam better and cut it more efficiently and not waste as much. This is part of the whole process of going back to the basics and being more efficient with my equipment and resources.