Monday, August 31, 2015

30 Seconds in Winona Film Festival 2015

This year I entered two videos in the 30 second film festival that is part of the Frozen River Film Festival organization in Winona Minnesota. Last year which was the first year, I had been part of the entertainment before the showing of the videos outdoors at the band shell. I had flown model airplanes and launched water rockets which was popular with the kids and was planning to do that this year. Unfortunately for the event this year it rained most of the day and was held indoors in the Masonic building. Just to feel like I really was trying to demonstrate I flew my new rubber powered foam airplane outdoors in vacant lot, this airplane was the subject of my video Fantastic Foam Flyer. I had also created a video about the radio control sailplane event I had observed near Owatonna Minnesota this summer.

Film Festival Held at Masonic building 

People Just Coming in Music Just Starting

I was really amazed by the number of people that attended the event this year, just before the showing of the videos almost every seat had been filled. The quality of the videos appears to be improving and I was impressed last year.  My fascination was with the stop action, animated video, and the creative camera angles used in some of the videos.  The category Marshmallow and a Ruler I didn’t realize there actually had to be both items included so I added a slide with the marshmallow at the last minute which did make sense with the video and made a good point for the tutorial. 

A Few Flights of Fantastic Foam Flyer Outdoors

Face Painting Before Films
For me one of the most important aspects of the entering the event is that has inspired me to create other short videos.  I am finding that video linked from and linked to my website and blog is increasing the Internet traffic to get the word out about simple physics related projects and my model aviation hobby. Working with the short format I am experimenting with editing techniques to get as much across in a short time span as possible. In another building tutorial for my foam airplane I had a friend take video while I built an airplane, cut the segments to the most important elements, and then increased the video to four times normal speed.

Fantastic Foam Flyer Video

Aerotow Video

Marshmallow  and Ruler

Multiple Building Steps on One Slide

I am really looking forward to this event next year. It was announced that Frozen River Film Festival is hoped to have more activities going on all year long. That would be great.

Bill Kuhl


Frozen River Film Festival website

30 Second Film Festival 2014 Blog Post

WSU College for Kids 2015

Scienceguy Org Blog

20 Second Build Video of Fantastic Foam Flyer

Fantastic Foam Flyer Construction Article

Thursday, August 27, 2015

New - Old RC Glider Flies Like a Dream

I recently acquired a couple of radio control sailplanes that had belonged to a modeler that has left this world. My memory of him was from possibly 10 years ago flying at thermal duration sailplane contests. One glider is a 2 meter glider with spoilers and the other one is larger, possibly 3 meters. In looking over the gliders I determined the 2 meter glider required less work to put in the air. In my workshop I happened to have a new 2.4 ghz receiver and a new nimh battery pack, servos were left in the gliders. With the equipment installed I took the glider to a park for some test glides, minor tweaks to the trim and it looked good.

Yesterday was the first day in awhile with very little wind, I just had to try flying from a hi-start launch. Just so happened I had a new hi-start to test out as well because my older small hi-start was getting many breaks in the rubber. The reel that came with the hi-start didn't look good to me so I purchased a reel for electric cord to wrap it up on.

With the new hi-start strung out I was ready for some real flights with my new glider. I happened to bump the rudder and noticed there was no resistance but when I turned on the radio equipment the control was solid. Now what to do, I decided to fly the glider. Pretty wimpy launches to start with but it was flying great, no lack of control. I pulled back harder on the hi-start and get a pretty high launch. Make a turn to the right and notice the glider is going up, make a gentle circle and it is still going up.

What model this glider is I am not exactly sure, it does look like the Sagitta from pictures I have seen. It is not real light but it flies like a dream, completely predictable. I just keep doing wide circles and giving a small amount of up elevator. I wanted to take some video of it flying so I completely released the controls and let it fly free flight for a couple of circles. It was too high for cellphone video but I was amazed how stable the glider was. I tried to find stronger lift to go up even higher but I didn't find it, considering it was after 5 p.m. I thought the flight was amazing. For the landing I tried the spoilers and it slowed down in a hurry.

The rudder servo losing all resistance bothered me so I tested it at home more in the evening. There was only one place in the throw where all resistance to servo arm would disappear but that came back when the radio was turned on. I found a new metal gear servo in my basement and replaced the servo in the glider. The rudder pushrod was unsupported in the fuselage so I put stiff plastic tubing over that. I am so ready to fly this wonderful glider again.

 Bill Kuhl


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Multiplex Dart Hits the Slope

Some projects take me a long time to start and to finish.  When I was first starting to fly radio control gliders I purchased a hand launch radio control glider kit for what seemed like a good price. Only problem was although the glider kit was high quality it would have been very heavy for thermal hand launching, so it sat on the shelf for years. 

In the last couple of years I have been slope soaring from smaller slopes, I got to thinking the Multiplex Dart has a very clean fiberglass fuselage and the wing is foam covered by obeche making it very rigid, this could make a great slope flying glider.  I cut into the wing to install aileron servos but reinforced the wing with carbon and covered with Monocote. For the V-tail I created a pushrod to join the two elevator halves, the glider has only aileron and elevator control to keep it simple. All the radio equipment fits through the opening in the wing so no other hatches are needed. I found a 1600 nimh battery that would easily fit through the opening.

Now that the glider was finished, the wind didn’t blow much or come from a direction for a slope I could use. Last Saturday this changed and I was able to make test flights although it was gusty. First launch it didn’t seem to turn; better check aileron direction setup, yes it was wrong. Fixed that and it was off and flying.  The Dart flew pretty fast as I had hoped and the trim wasn’t too bad. I landed a little hard and it cracked the fuselage which seems rather delicate in that I had a small crack before from a test launch on level ground over tall weeds, I will try reinforcing some.

There were other glider friends there also as Wayne was going to attempt a one hour slope flight. His foam Highlander glider was bounced around a good deal and just wouldn’t stay up at times. I recruited other people to video my flying including some DS with my foam Super Scooter.  When I am more comfortable with flying the Dart I want to try DS with it.

Bill Kuhl


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

MRCSS / Rochester Team Sailplane Contest

For the last several years there has been a group of people in Rochester Minnesota that meet one Saturday a month to have a thermal duration contest of model radio control sailplanes. It seemed the first couple of years our skill was such that if it was windy at all we would not attempt to fly.  I think partly because of the competition everyone in the group has improved their flying ability greatly and we now do not let a little wind stop us from flying.  Several pilots from the MRCSS sailplane club based out of the Twin Cities area have come to our events also and some of us have gone to their events as well.

Last Saturday August 15, 2015 we had a joint contest between the two groups with a pairing of a Rochester pilot with a pilot of the MRCSS club at their field. The skill level of many of the pilots from the MRCSS club is equal to some of the best around the country. In my opinion this was an excellent opportunity to learn from an expert and just get to know a person from the other group a little bit better.

The flyer I was paired with Brad; is an amazingly talented sailplane pilot. I had met him for the first time this year at a discus launch glider contest and then again at another thermal duration contest. One of the techniques I had watched him use at the DLG contest I had used at one of our local contests to come very close to winning.  At the thermal duration contest I had marveled at how he had managed to fly over some trees far downwind and made it back for a good landing.

In the joint contest he flew his Xplorer sailplane with amazing skill and most flights he would land it within the landing circle at exactly 10 minutes.  I was flying the Allegro Lite 2-meter sailplane in a contest for the first time with not much total stick time on this glider. After spending so much time building the Allegro I have always been nervous flying it.  In the contest it launched and flew pretty well but just wasn’t staying up long enough in the thermals. Landing in the wind was really giving me trouble, it would appear to not want to turn going downwind but when it finally turned I couldn’t get it to straighten out again. 

When I started flying RC gliders in the late 90’s I would fly as much as I possibly could but the last few years I have not put the time into it to remain very proficient. I was really shocked when Brad told me he had only been flying radio control since 2012, while I have been flying for 40 years but not just RC sailplanes. Brad has put a great deal of time into flying including almost everyday during the winter and had the chance to fly against the best pilots in the country.  I would have to believe experience that is more intense might be more beneficial than when spread out over many years and greater exposure to flying with more high level pilots is a huge help also.

What is so impressive to me about both groups as how they try to be flexible and let as many types of sailplanes fly as possible. In this contest there were electric gliders, basic training gliders, and super high performance gliders all flying.  

Bill Kuhl

Related Articles

Flying F3K Contest – RC Discus Launch

Watching the Super RC Sailplanes 

Allegro Lite Sailplane Finished and Flying


Monday, August 10, 2015

Memorable RC Thermal Flights

This weekend I continued testing of the Spektrum telemetry and vario installed in my Gentle Lady 2-meter sailplane. My previous blog post about telemetry had a large number of views.  Last Saturday I flew in not so great conditions until it was time to leave, and then the weather was improving. There was only one flight where the glider was climbing slowly in a thermal but I lost the lift before getting very high. I did get the vario unit changed to output in feet instead of meters however.

Gentle Lady in Flight

Really Low Wind

Sunday there was a forecast of sun and very low wind of only 2 mph in the afternoon. This time I used my longer hi-start with heavier tubing. On the first launches I did not pull back near enough to get much altitude at all but I did not want to break the wing. With an older larger glider I had, that is exactly what happened, pulled back just a little farther to get more altitude and snapped the wing. The heavy tubing on this hi-start also seemed to be hard for a 2-meter glider to lift launching into almost no wind. Many of the launches were 100 feet or less.

Heavy Tubing on Hi-Start

Result of Too Much Tension on Hi-start

After at least a dozen launches I managed to launch to 120 feet and encountered lift right away. The vario was constantly beeping. I kept the glider circling as smooth as possible and it kept gradually working upwards. As the altitude passed 200 feet or so the rate of climb improved somewhat also. I was starting to draw attention to a family that was bike riding in the area and turkey vultures flew in closer to join my glider briefly. The last altitude that I remember hearing was a little over 390 feet, after that the altitude was slowly decreasing. I started flying in a different area of the field looking for another thermal.

At about 60 feet of altitude the vario started beeping again so I started the glider in a circle. Circling rather tight seemed to work better now. The highest it reached from this thermal was about 260 feet but it was such a thrill to climb from a fairly low altitude. Soon after landing the gaps between clouds closed in and the sun went under.  I had one the nicest thermal flights I had in a while so decided I had enough flying for the afternoon.  Whether having the vario helped on this flight I do not know, it did help to be able to tell the story without having to use complete guesses to the altitude of the glider at different points in the flight.

Sun Goes Under a Cloud

Bill Kuhl

Spektrum Telemetry and Vario Module First Experiments

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Spektrum Telemetry and Vario Module First Experiments

New technology can be fun to experiment with; I recently made some test flights with the Spektrum Telemetry Module connected to the Aircraft Telemetry Variometer in my Gentle Lady 2-meter sailplane. Originally I had planned to install this in the Sig Riser 100 I am constructing but with the nice weather lately I would rather fly than build. Several years ago I had installed a Multiplex Vario in a glider which only gave a tone that varied when rising or descending; it did not give actual altitude data.  

Modules Connected to Receiver in the Airplane

Multiplex Vario

When you purchase any kind of vario device I think you hope that it will give you some magical insight into thermal air currents that you are not spotting by purely visual cues. As many people besides me have pointed out with some experience flying radio control sailplanes you have a pretty good idea when your glider is going up in rising air.  After a while the constant sound of changing tones and voice messages of current altitude may start to disrupt the tranquility of silent flight.

Modules Connected to  Receiver 

In the brief time I have used the unit I did find it helpful to give me some idea how high I was launching and also how fast I was going up in thermal lift.  The further away the glider was the more helpful the feedback was.  What amazed me was how fast my glider was ascending in thermal lift, at times in the process of making a circle in 15 seconds it had gained 20 meters of altitude.  Although these flights were made around 5:00 p.m. it did appear to be a good day for thermal activity.

Everything Stuffed in the Nose

Gentle Lady and Dx9 Spektrum Transmitter

I feel that working with the modern tools for data feedback in radio control is a help learning how to interpret data for many modern devices in the digital world we live in.  For example I drive a hybrid car that outputs so much data on gas mileage, understanding this data helps you refine your driving habits to optimize gas mileage.  

Graph Data from Hybrid Car

When I use this unit for more time over more flying conditions I plan to write another blog post. At this point I do not have the electronics properly installed as far as routing of wires but it appears to be working fine. There could be settings on the transmitter that could be helpful in refining the telemetry, I will explore this further. 

Bill Kuhl

Memorable RC Thermal Flights

Video of Flying, Turn Up Your Volume to Hear Audio Feedback

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pointour - Winona Walking Tour

Last week I had the pleasure of taking the walking tour of downtown Winona from young entrepreneur Bailey Bestul through his business Pointour. I have lived in Winona for over 20 years and have studied much of the local history but there was much that I learned from the walking tour.  I would think the tour would be more interesting for the people that live in Winona but Bailey said the majority of the people that take the tour come from out of town. 

Bailey Describing Unique Architecture at Winona Water Works

Part of what comes out in the tour is of course facts about the architecture of the various old buildings. I walk downtown almost everyday but there is much I miss when walking. More interesting to me was the history of the people and businesses that we passed on the tour. I now have a better appreciation to the really brilliant and ambitious people that have shaped Winona throughout history. A more recent example which has evolved over many years now is the Fastenal story which Bailey told in front of the site of the company museum building in downtown Winona.  

With a background in speech and theater Bailey does a wonderful job of keeping the presentation lively and interesting at all times but he also was responsive to the comfort of his clients and tried to schedule stops in shaded areas. There are options to take a shorter or longer tour and the fee is adjusted accordingly.  I hope many people take this opportunity to learn something about Winona, Minnesota.

Bill Kuhl

Additional Resources