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Tian Sheng ME109

lobstermash

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#1
So, following on from the Leader Hobbies thread... I got a ME109 for under $12. It's EPO, fully painted, complete with hardware but no electronics. Like Guan Li and Lanyu, this is a GWS clone. I've had a Guan Li P51 before, and it wasn't too bad.

The first impression of the plane out of the box was good, but as I picked it up and inspected it, the foam is pristine but the paint is hard, glossy stuff. There are cracks in the paint all over the plane, where under a small amount of stress it has flaked off. Aside from that, the pushrods are a nice heavy gauge and the clevises are reasonable enough to not bother changing. As I installed the servos, I was even more impressed that the clevises needed very little adjustment to bring the control surface to neutral.

The build was very straightforward, although I built without a ruler and got the horizontal stabiliser wrong by a couple of millimetres. I don't think it'll hurt the flight too much and it's too hard to unstick and reset. Some sort of centre guide would have been nice, I guess (most planes I've done recently have just screwed together or had nice and tight fitting grooves).

Two issues arose from the origin of this plane in GWS plans... It has a stick mount, on which most common motor mounts won't put the motor in the right place (designed for a geared brushed motor system). I improvised using an aluminium stick mount and gluing various sections of the mount to the firewall to make it, in my opinion at least, sturdy. This also let me fix the next problem: CG.

The combination of a geared brushed motor setup and NiCads must have balanced this plane, but to do it with a brushless system and Lipos, you either need to add lead or remove some foam to get the battery forward. I hate dead weight, so I removed the foam. Trouble is, you need to remove a lot of it from a very tight space. I used a very long handled screwdriver, heated using a stove element, to melt away the foam, a couple of cm at a time. I ended up removing all the foam so that the end of the battery is sitting flush with the motor bay firewall! I can fit a 1600 3s with a cg of about 48mm from the leading edge (found the ruler today...). I can even get a 2200 in there, although when I tried this with my (late) P51 it significantly degraded flight performance.

The 10x4.7 props that come with the kit feel a bit fragile, but they're balanced to perfection right out of the box! With the KD-A2210 1200kv motor I'm running, the plane tugs hard with loads of torque. I'm using a cheap 30A ESC from Leader Hobby, which doesn't like turning the motor from stationary, no matter the timing or start settings. This can be worked around by rapidly moving the throttle between off and half until it catches the rotation properly. In regard to servos, I'm also using a very cheap set sourced from Leader. I wouldn't test them out on much other than a scratch build or a cheap airframe like this, but so far so good, noting I haven't flown yet...

Fitting all the electrics in was a bit of a challenge too. There's space for everything except the rx... In the P51, the centre tray was ply, but this one is foam and leaves little room for even the servo leads. I took inspiration from my Mig-15 and cut a hatch into the canopy to fit the bulky 8ch 9x rx.

It's been windy here all day and is likely to be tomorrow, so the maiden will have to wait. I did a taxi across the lounge room floor and got an awful wobble. Upon inspection of the wheels, I discovered that the tires were really uneven, so I changed them over to another set and it's tracking fine now.

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lobstermash

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#3
Three weeks later and the maiden is made! Glydr has a couple of pics, though we didn't have much gear with us.

Last week I attempted to fly with the 10x4.7 prop. The motor cut out at 3/4 throttle, so I aborted the takeoff and shelved it. When I got home, I tried a couple of different ESCs, but all did the same thing, no matter the timing setting. I then noticed that the motor was a bit hot. I then tried an 8x6, which went up to full throttle on the ground a couple of times, but the motor was getting hot and after a minute or so started cutting out at full throttle. Next prop on the list was a 7x6 APC. The motor ran fine on this, so on stayed. The motor got warm-ish on the ground, but it was OK.

On the maiden, my guess at centre for control surfaces was marginal. The rudder and ailerons needed a fair amount of trim, but the elevator wasn't too bad. The ailerons were a little over-sensitive (maybe because I've been flying the Bixler a lot), so I added 30% expo with 70% throws upon landing. Power with the setup was a little better than marginal, with loops needing a bit of a dive. Rolls are easy though, and it does nice, scale stall turns. There's a hint of tip-stall on taking off if you go too early, so I was ready to land it hot. I came in with a bit too much though, and too aggressively on the angle, and didn't have enough juice for another pass. Nose over on the grass, although there wasn't any damage.

I let Glydr have the next flight, as he didn't have any gear with him and he seemed pretty impressed with it. His landing was also a little hot, and the plane rolled over the edge of the landing strip. I had another fly and, after several botched approaches, I finally touched down and copied glydr's landing almost exactly!

For a plane like this, for the price, the mods I made are a small detraction from something that flies this well. Unfortunately Leader are very good at being sold out of planes and not so good at restocking.

All up cost of this model, servos, motor, ESC and shipping (1500-1999g to Aus) was around $50. Pretty good for a nice looking, good parkfly-sized warbird.
 

glydr

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#4
I finally touched down and copied glydr's landing almost exactly!
No - you went for the larger puddle!

:D

This plane rocks.

I've been hunting the net for a $12 plane just the same all day and haven't found any. :(

It's not the best but it's cheap and looks great. There is a spare motor kicking around my parts drawer and I think it could work well.

(PS - Media will have to wait until I'm at work with the phone cable)
 
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glydr

How many letters do we ge
#5
PS - that TX of yours.... the throttle stick is hopeless! Much prefer my Spektrum with ball bearings on the throttle!

;)
 

lobstermash

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#7
Alright, kids went to be early and the wife is having a soak. Time to change the motor on this baby to something the Hun wished they could match! I've changed my poor old KD-A2210 1200kv (or at least, that's what it used to be before I 'fixed' it), which can't handle more than a 7x6, to a 2208 1400kv beast, which happily spins an 8x6! This thing is going to rock now... No more scale turns, floppy loops and neatly executed stall turns. It'll be vertical performance, split S and roll-out from dives.

I've also tested out whether I could fit a 1300mAh 3s instead of my practically dead 1600s... they're a little trickier getting in and out, but I can get them far enough forward to balance the plane OK. I'm going to have to look for a (calm and sunny) day off this week methinks...
 

glydr

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#8
Mate, it was fine. Now it will be too powerful.

Back in my day we made do with a 5x3 on a brushed can 400 and if we needed more urge put in an 8 cell pack for 3min of flying.
 

lobstermash

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#9
Luxury! Back in my day, we had to get sunburnt to peel off our skin to stretch it over the bones of sewer rats that we'd assembled to a plane shape, and who's guts we dried to make a rubber band-like propulsion system turning a prop made from toenail clippings! And if you tell that to the kids of today, they won't believe you...
 

glydr

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#10
I don't know what is more disturbing; reading that post or knowing that being during your lunch break you would have been eating at the same time as writing that post (or soon after).
 

lobstermash

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#11
OK, first flights with the faster setup today. I started the long weekend early. I went out after dropping the oldest kid at school. There was still frost all over the grass and the sun was rising through the trees. I went down the end of the oval where I could fly without the sun in my eyes.

Just after I took off, the canopy partially came off (hung to the right). I landed on the next pass through and made sure the wires and stuff were all out of the way. When I put it up again however, the canopy came off and was hanging far out to the side of the plane. My first attempt at the runway (cricket pitch) was thwarted by the drag to the right (you could say it swung like a banana (cricket joke)), so I tried bringing it around again. The plane had other ideas and I got trapped into flying straight into the sun. The plane, bereft of meaningful control input, dove into the ground between a couple of big gum trees.

The hard, unplanned and uncontrolled descent caused the plane to break in half about mid-wing. Also the motor mount (metal stick mount) pushed back a little and the aileron servo arm was broken. Amazingly the damage was repairable in much quicker time than my pride and confidence (about 1 min with the hot glue gun and another minute finding where the spare servo arms were). The flaky paint, however, shows where the stress points were in the crash. To stop the canopy coming off again, I chucked on a couple more rare earth magnets, going for overkill this time around.

In the early afternoon, I headed back out to see how many batteries I could put through the plane and if I could put the new setup through its paces properly. I'm happy to report I used all the batteries I had on hand (just 3) and the plane flew like a true sportflier. The plane happily flew inverted without need back pressure, split S comfortably and performed lovely wide loops. Vertical was impressive but not unlimited. I even tried a knife edge, and while the plane holds it really well, things get a little scary pulling out of the manouvre.

For the second flight, I reduced the elevator to 80% with 10% expo. I changed the ailerons to full throw and kept the 30% expo. The rudder could do with some taming too, but I'm sparing with it anyway and play it gentle.

I had a few people come through the park and watch for a bit the whole time, but the entire second flight was observed by a young boy walking his grandpa. Both of them sat riveted the whole time. I love having an audience....
 
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