Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sunday Drive to Check Solar Panels and Lake Zumbro

Last Sunday I decided I would get a little closer look at the solar panels along Highway 52 near Oronoco Minnesota. This solar farm generates 517 kilowatts which should be able to power 60 homes. The project is the result of three electric cooperatives working together. After getting some pictures from well back from the fenced in area I decided I would drive out to Lake Zumbro which I had not seen in over 40 years.   

Lake Zumbro is located about 12 miles from Rochester Minnesota, you pass over the Zumbro River and drive through the tiny town of Oronoco. Oronoco’s claim to fame is that a small amount of gold was actually found there in 1857 but mining equipment there was washed away in two floods and there really wasn’t enough gold there to try again.  The road to Fishermen’s Inn where there is a private boat landing and a restaurant has changed. The famous White Bridge which was in this area is missing after a car struck the bridge in 1972 doing considerable damage to the bridge. There is a public access shore fishing area there which is really nice. In the short time I was there I witnessed a white bass being caught.

In reading about the fishing on Lake Zumbro I thought it interesting that musky had been planted in the lake and some of them were tagged and most of those were found to be below the Power Dam which is the dam that created the 5 mile long lake. The Power Dam still is producing some electrical power. Ahead of the dam is the deepest area of the lake at 42 feet but many areas of the lake are much shallower because of the sediment filling it in.  There is a restoration project in the works  which will most likely require dredging in the lake.

In the short time I was there I observed watercraft of all types and sizes. From kayaks and jet skis to large pontoon boats and fast good size V-hulled boats. When I was young my family had a pontoon boat that was docked at the lake. My father had used wing tip tanks from jet aircraft for the pontoons. He wanted to make sure it couldn’t sink so put Styrofoam inside of the tanks and fiberglass under the bottom for reinforcement.

It was fun to revisit the past and check out what is new.

Bill Kuhl

Related Links

Friday, May 27, 2016

Flight Club UK After School Program

The following synopsis goes along with the theme for my new website domain name when I updated my website from Scienceguy.org to Ideas-inspire.com.  From a construction article on my website for a rubber powered model airplane constructed mainly from thin foam sheet I named the “Fantastic Foam Flyer” I gave someone in another part of the world the inspiration to start a model airplane club known as Flight Club.  Check out the website here: http://flightclubrc.net/index.php/category/school-club/

Flight Club Member building foam gliders

First Gliders

In the beginning they would build a glider version influenced by my rubber powered design and then later add rubber power through propellers to their foam airplanes.

Glider Flying

Jon Kemm teaches STEM and computing in the ancient town of Rye, East Sussex in the UK. Like me Jon also flies RC slope gliders and RC electric model airplanes. The free flight aspect is somewhat new to Jon but he is catching on fast and so are his students.  He has documented much of the club activities on a website that contains a series of flight reports which include pictures and video. Jon often contributes to the Facebook page I had started known as “Simple Foam Free Flight Airplane” https://www.facebook.com/groups/425811714235246/

In watching the videos it appeared that when the progression to rubber powered models occurred, some of the models were stalling after launch or did not have enough power climb. Ronnie Espolt from the Victor Valley RC Flyers Club in the USA has built the foam planes with student groups also and provided suggestions over the Internet too.  As the weeks progressed the improvement in the flights did too.   Ronnie had come up with the idea for a postal contest for the rubber powered foam planes, contest rules appear on my website at http://ideas-inspire.com/postal-contests/. Jon’s club intends to enter the contest that is running this month, a postal contest you record flight times at your location and send them in.

It is interesting to note finding the supplies differs throughout the world. In the USA most people are building these airplanes using the common foam plates found at every grocery store while these are hard to find elsewhere and the foam known as “depron” is ordered to build the airplanes.

  The best news came in a message from Jon today:
The head of STEM wants us to build foam plate flyers with the year 6 students arriving in sept. I've been asked to order materials for 60 models.
Spreading the joy of model flying!”

Update 5/31/2016 from Jon Kemm

Jon Kemm created another report in the form of End of the Easter Term Email

One highlight is they have been invited to write an article for a national model magazine called Aeromodeller. 

Bill Kuhl

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Much to Learn About E36 Free Flight

I do like a challenge but this one is getting to be a bit much.  Advancing from small rubber powered and glider free flight models to tip launch gliders and electric E36 models has been trying at times for me. Before I had the Maxima and now Dynomite tip launched gliders adjusted and learned the launching technique I stuck them into the ground on multiple occasions. Maybe only once with the Dynomite as I am learning from previous mistakes.

To venture into performance electric free flight I decided to purchase the Pearl E202 and all the electrical components from Texas Timers. I started building the Pearl but I was really building slow, so thought I would put the electric in an old glow free flight someone had given me, a Starduster 350. That worked pretty well but this model had been flown before. On one occasion it had too much right turn and crashed into the ground, other times it dt-ed rather hard and did minor damage. 

Free Flight Side

Flying the Pearl E202 which I knew would go up really fast had me scared and most of my flying sites are so small. I decided to add a single function RC to the model so I could at least keep it over the field and hopefully save it if going into a spiral dive. The RC portion was on the outside of the pylon and could easily be removed when I had the chance to fly from a larger field.

RC Side

Yesterday was a perfect day so I had to try it, just glide tests to start.  The glide was not great but I thought the extra weight from the RC was the cause, it was pretty straight so no major warps. I gathered my nerve and decided to try a short power flight.  It went up like a rocket from what I was used to, some turn to the left which I corrected and then it comes down. No indication it was going to recover and the grass wasn’t tall enough to save it from damage. The pylon ripped apart and the wing had minor damage.  I thought I had lost the battery after I picked it up and started to panic about that but after 10 minutes of looking found it by the wing and transmitter.  Put out the hi-start for my Allegro Lite RC glider and 
realized it had to be bound to the transmitter so went home.

Battery in Bottom Right of Image

Last Crash

Repairs to the Pearl were pretty easy so decided I would add more incidence and try it again before lunch. I had a small shim under the stab and a good sized shim under the front of the wing. In glide tests the glide had more of a float to it.  OK time to try another power test, up it went, I turned it more to the right and it went into a glide; brought it down in one piece.  Thought I had it adjusted now but next flight it went into a dive again and no sign of it pulling out. This time the pylon ripped apart even more, think I will use light fiberglass on it instead the tissue.

Repairs are pretty much complete now, the pylon was epoxied back on with more positive incidence. I have not recovered the pylon with fiberglass but I think it needs it. I have thought of adding elevator control also until I can get the trim sorted out, I hate to break the model again.  My fear is with too much climb the model might go into a loop, it climbs very steep now.  The Dynomite TLG needed a lot of up too but finally I had enough.

Bill Kuhl

Related Links

Pearl E202 Website

Texas Timers

Electric Free Flight Test Model

Dynomite Tip Launch Free Flight Glider

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hot Curve on Foam Plate Model Plane

No one I know has more passion for promoting the simple rubber power and glider free flight models to anyone that might show interest than Neil Dennis aka wombat. It seems wherever he goes he is trying to give a model to someone that might have children in their lives that might like a model airplane. In 2013 I had written about Neil but recently he had sent me some foam wing panels that he wanted me to try in a model.

What makes the panels unique is a curve was permanently put into a section of foam plate by heating the foam that was in a jig. The resulting foam section has a perfect curve to it without the bend marks and it feels more rigid than panels shaped by bending. In the following text, Neil describes the process:  

“For the warped foam, I cut two of the airfoil shape I want in pieces of 1 x 4 pine on the band saw, that gives me the top and bottom of the jig.  Then I cut a piece of aluminum flashing about 1" wider than the blocks, bend a right angle lip on each side (that stiffens the sheets so they hold the shape) and staple them to the form blocks. This makes a light metal jig with the "foil shape.  I use hooks and eyes on each side to clamp them together, two tiny screw eyes on each side with a 1/32 music hook to clamp the jig together.  The foam blanks will bend with no trouble. 

I "cook" the loaded form in the oven for about 10 min at around 200 f or a little less, let the jig cool and Voila, a warped wing section!!😉”    Neil Dennis

From the foam sections Neil sent me I built another Fantastic Foam Flyer but rounded the corners of the flying surfaces some.  I have flown this airplane many times and it flies great, but as of yet I have not done flight time testing to compare the stock FFF airplane. My observation is the new plane flies slightly slower. When the airplane goes into the glide phase it begins to stall right away and the entire glide down is a series of small stalls with recovery. I am thinking slightly less bend in wing would be better in the glide.

It is great to see innovation in small foam model airplanes, great job Neil.

Update 5/19/2016

The advice I was given to move the wing back which moved CG ahead was correct. I also had to shim up the front of the wing slightly. There is no stall in the glide at all now.

Bill Kuhl


Related Links

Neil Dennis - wombat

Fantastic Foam Flyer

Slime Recovery of Foam Airplane  - my tale of retrieving from swampy pond

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Foam Glider Event at Nursing Home

As the start of National Nursing Home Week I was asked to put on a program on Mother’s Day. This was the third time I had been there to present and this time I wanted to have the residents build a simple project. Previously I had done a history of aviation through model aviation and a program on non-aviation projects on my website http://www.ideas-inspire.com. These programs went well but I thought a build project even if only some residents could complete it would be good. I had foam plates traced to be cut out and also pre-cut foam pieces.  

To start the presentation I talked a little about my interest in model aviation. I had my Sig Riser 100 RC sailplane along so I showed that and also a rubber powered free flight the Peck Sky Bunny. Next I showed how I had started with the FPG-9 glider and then came up with other more complicated foam gliders such as the Foam Jet II and Hammer Down Catapult Glider. One of the residents I had worked with before building various projects such as foam model planes and a mousetrap car.  He really had fun at the event too and told me it was the most fun he had at the nursing home.

Everyone either built a glider, decorated it, or just flew one in the distance contest that we had at the end. The group was fairly equally divided between men and women.  The first launch of contest was the best as the glider flew perfectly straight across the cafeteria area. Taking a clue from bingo I had a stuffed animal toy for the winner.

Bill Kuhl

Related Links

Model Aviation Demonstration for Nursing Home

Another Nursing Home Presentation

Hammer Down Catapult Glider

Foam Jet II Catapult Glider

Friday, May 6, 2016

The First Foam Plate Rubber Powered Airplane Contest

Last evening as part of my model airplane flying I thought I would put up some flights for sample entry in “The First Foam Plate Rubber Powered Airplane Contest”. On the scorecard you are allowed six flights but I only made four, the best three flights are counted in the score. I used the Fantastic Foam Flyer design with an orange propeller and 1/8” rubber strip.

For the first flight I wound in 500 turns, the airplane was circling too tight and as it reached the top of the climb it started a spiral dive to the ground, duration only 31 seconds. I adjusted the vertical fin to widen the turn and increased the number of winds to 600. Much better climb and the flight lasted for 48 seconds. For the next flight I increased to 700 turns but the flight duration was only slightly better at 49.52 seconds but for scoring purpose you round down to whole number which gives 49 seconds.

Even though at this time in the evening the chances of thermal air currents to increase the flight time were slim, I thought a better flight was possible. After winding to 800 turns I headed farther upwind to launch. The breeze was starting to increase, I was wondering if I should cancel the flight but no I let it go into the wind. Higher and higher it went but also downwind heading over a veterinary clinic; where was it going to land. I was so afraid it would be on the roof but instead landed in a fenced in area.

After that close call, I called it enough flying and recorded the flight times. The last flight was slightly over 1 minute, this shows up on the watch as 1:00.11. This was recorded on the scorecard under “Time on Watch” but converted to seconds for 60 seconds under “Total Seconds” column. I took a picture of my sample scorecard and it appears to be readable.

Bill Kuhl

Related Links

Foam Plate Postal Contest Webpage

Fantastic Foam Flyer 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dynomite Tip Launch Free Flight Glider

Over the course of the last couple of outdoor flying seasons I have been expanding my free flight model aviation hobby beyond the simple beginners’ model to slightly larger competition models. In 2014 I flew a tip launched free flight glider the Maxima 30 until losing it in the fall of that year when the DT failed.  It is a miracle that I did not lose it earlier flying from small fields. I wrote about some of my adventures with the Maxima in previous blog posts and had a huge number of views.

This past winter I built another TLG (tip launch glider) the Dynomite by Stan Buddenbohm, my primary reason for purchasing this glider kit was the DVD the National Free Flight Society had produced featured the Dynomite and the Scout CLG also a design by Stan. I purchased the Scout also which flew wonderful but I lost it in a pond. The video gives instruction on building and trimming the gliders. 

Note: Tip Launch or Discus Launch is where you grab a wing tip and spin around releasing the glider when facing forward again. It should give larger glider a higher altitude launch than throwing overhand as was done with conventional hand launch gliders.

Building the Dynomite went quicker than the Maxima 30 which had a built up wing while the Dynomite wing is solid balsa and comes tapered.  In addition there are more aspects of the Dynomite kit that are already done for you like in the front of the fuselage which comes with the DT built into the fuselage. Part of the boom pivot is also completed.  This model cants the wing and the stab slightly a technique the video brought out.  I finished the model with clear dope and spray paint as shown in the video.

So far flying the Dynomite has been hand glides to check the primary trim and some full discus launches with the DT set for no more than 30 seconds.  The launch appears to be higher than the Maxima but I do not have consistent transitions yet.  I really want to try this model on a larger field with longer DT time.  I plan to write further updates as I get more experience with the Dynomite.

Bill Kuhl

Related Links

Order Stan Buddenbohm Products

National Free Flight Society Website

Scout CLG Drowns

Unwinding with Free Flight Discus Glider

Free Flight Discus Glider Update

Tip Launch Glider Slow to Come Down