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First FPV flight and Explorer maiden!

#1
A momentary break in the terrible weather! From -25C to +1, for a single day. Not even any wind. Storm rolls in tomorrow and it's back to -25, but with blowing snow as well! Between all the rushing to complete farm chores and fix the tractor up with non-numb hands, I found time to both maiden the Explorer and fly my first FPV flight.

First, the FT Explorer. I'm sorry to any Explorer fans, but this is the biggest pig I've ever flown. I'm not saying there aren't bigger pigs out there - but I've not flown them. Launching it, I'm glad I fly off a hilltop, as on each half-throttle launch I lost about 10' of altitude before gaining enough airspeed to pull up. I suspect the high thrustline design drives the plane downwards until it has enough airspeed to generate lift. The thrustline angle is perfect though, increasing throttle doesn't change the attitude at all. I kind of wonder if I'd be better off with straight thrust and throttle/elevator mix like I've used on some other planes, though.

Once in the air, it bumbles through the sky like a fat, lazy bee. Which is exactly what I was looking for for my first FPV experience. It can fly impressively slow and doesn't hog up much battery to cruise. I'm swinging 8x4 on a 1400Kv motor, 3s 1300mAh. Flew 10 minute flights to be safe and had to put ~600mAh back into the batteries. Unfortunately, it flies nose high and it can't be trimmed out - trimming for level attitude does not result in level flight. Is this thrustline related again or is it geometry?

After landing from the maiden, I mounted the camera, put on my goggles and got ready to fly. Turned out the elevator servo horn had pushed through on my landing flare. I usually use plastic clamp style horns, this was my first time trying plywood horns. The elevator looked fine but was flopping. My launch turned into what the FAA would probably call a "power pushover", but I would just call it a big doink right onto the nose at full throttle. I sure felt like a big doink, anyways, for not checking my control surfaces.

The camera was mounted far enough back that everything was fine, so after re-gluing the elevator horn it was time to hit the skies with a slightly shorter nose.

Setup: FXT Viper goggles, Wolfwhoop RHCP Pagoda, Turbowing Cyclops patch. Wolfwhoop WT03 camera w/builtin RHCP cloverleaf.

First thing I found out is that 25mW doesn't go anywhere outdoors. I made it maybe 50m before I had to turn around and land. This was a big plus to the Viper goggles as I didn't have to paw them off my head or take my hands off the transmitter - I just looked out the edge. Top notch.

Up to 100mW. The image was pretty good, but the incredible glare of prairie sun off of snow from all sides made me wish the screen was brighter. Occasional bars rolled by and at about 3-400m I was getting breakups, some sustained for long enough that I wondered what my attitude would be when I got to see again. Breakups are scary. Back to boost the power to the max.

200mW. As we all know, doubling the power does not double the range, it mostly just chews up more battery. The cam stayed nice and cool in the airstream, as this camera got hot enough to burn my fingers at 200mW indoors. Made it about 500m out when I realized that I should not be doing this with the old radio from an RTF parkflyer that I dropped in because I was too lazy to swap a FrSky receiver out of another plane. It's pretty easy to just... fly wherever you want with FPV. The plane was a speck to the naked eye, and I was getting occasional breakups again, but nothing unbearable. I did notice that the breakups were often better if I wasn't facing straight at the plane? In fact, it was often better if I faced the other way! Maybe that patch antenna, the only one available on Amazon.ca, is not so hot. There are no markings telling you which side the beam is directed out of...

After I got the hang of it, I found the view from the Explorer was bobbing pretty bad, so I looked at it outside of the goggles. It turns out that I kept hauling the nose down to try to see something other than sky... then releasing it because I was going into a dive. I'm going to have to try shimming the wing as someone posted here to change the AoA and get the tailplane to follow the wing.

Overall a good experience. I didn't find FPV disorienting or difficult to fly at all, nor did I get any motion sickness. The open sides of the Vipers probably really help with that. I really liked the goggles, they were comfortable both on the head and the eyes. Besides that, flying an airplane FPV, is like flying an airplane. What is missing from the airplane is the avionics and the stall horn. It's REALLY hard to tell how fast the thing is going, and coming in to land I barely made it over the fence each time. I can see why often the first thing people add to their FPV setup is an OSD. Navigating even a small area of snowy terrain was surprisingly hard with no compass, and a couple times I had to resort to spotting the sun or peeking at the plane out of the goggles.

Anyone who made it to the end, thanks for reading my novel. When I get to writing, I tend to go a little overboard, partly because the log is for myself as well. Hope to get out again soon for more FPV flight, weather permitting!
 
#2
Unfortunately, it flies nose high and it can't be trimmed out - trimming for level attitude does not result in level flight. Is this thrustline related again or is it geometry?

To point the nose downward, simply had a shim (spacer) between the front of your wing and it's seat so that when the fuselage is level, the wing as 4 or 5 degress of angle of attack. You don't have to hack into your explorer and can make adjustment easily by switching for a thinker/thinner shim.

Also, to know when good weather is coming your way, open a free account at www.windy.com than setup an alert to know when the winds will be calm in your area.
I did it and I get an email, 2 days in advance, anytime the wind will be between 0 and 3 mph. Their prediction model is excellent!

Au revoir
Guillaume
 
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#3
Thanks for the tip, I'm going to give it a shot. Did you adjust the tailplane as well, or just the wing?

Unfortunately here on the prairies the wind changes from minute to minute... I've been a kiteskiier for years and have given up on trying to forecast it in any way! The only thing for sure is that it usually dies down after the sun goes down.

The big issue right now is not wind, but that it's been around -30C for a week. I've been flying simulators in the house. I'm considering hooking up my goggles to the computer so I can practice flying with them on...
 
#4
Simply ajust the wing, no need to modify the tailplane.

Really think you should give Windy.com a try. At least you will know in advance which days COULD be good flying day, and prepare your gear in accordance.
Hope you get warmer the temperatures soon! Hang in there.

au revoir
Guillaume