Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hobby Zone Super Cub Final Report

About 6 months ago, in the middle of a MN winter, I decided to learn to fly R.C. planes, which was a dormant passion from childhood that was sparked on a business trip to Japan when I saw a Fatuba 6+ channel TX in a display at Narita Airport! Have you ever had the desire to do something or learn some thing new but you just don't know why?

For those following my blog, you will know that I chose the Hobbyzone Supercub as my training plane. When I started my adventure I decided to attempt to achieve the following goals using the SuperCub:

# of Flights: 100
# of Flight Hours: 16hours (each flight is ~ 10 minutes with stock Battery)
# of Landings: 100

As of now I have achieved most of these goals- and what I believe are the mots important- stick time and landings. Here are my current stats, which are ever evolving- I just did over 35 successful landings on the T-28 in the last 2 days!

R.C. Flight Log

Super Cub Cumulative Flights: 38
T-28 Trojan Cumulative Flights: 26
F4U Corsair Cumulative Flights: 6
Total Flights: 70

Total Fight Hours 18.2
Total Landings 203

One thing you will notice is that a substantial number of my flights where in fact, not on the Hobbyzone SC. Also, if you are a reader you'll know that of the 36 SC flights listed, over half are on my heavily modified SC 2.0. I'll address this further...

I think the most important question is: Now that I have over 16 hours and ~150 landings do I feel like a competent R.C. Pilot? The short answer is: Yes, but I'll still continue to improve and in that improvement there will be more “hard landings”.

Now on to the question you have all been asking: “Is the SuperCub a good trainer.” Interestingly enough my answer here has evolved since the Interim report.

My answer now is: it depends.

Before I explain let me say that in preparation for this report, I dusted off SC 1.0, otherwise know as Rain. I charged up a NiCD and pulled out the old cheap TX and headed to the field. To my dismay, I actually found the SC 1.0 difficult to fly!! I have become so used to the crisp response using the Spektrum electronics and the extra power of the LiPo and T-28 powerplant that I had some trouble getting the old SC in the air. Truth be told, it took about 4-5 launch attempts. I figured out that I was trying to do to much controlling before the SC built some airspeed. Well I finally got the plane in the air and even with the old familiar glitcing of the stock ESC, I was able to make a few circles around the field. My final landings yielded no event. However, I had enough of the romance and walked back for the Spektrum and the F4U.

To be honest this experience surprised me as I walked off the field thinking that I had had enough of that plane. But this was the plane that launched my R.C flying career. I was actually a little sad to be let down by my trusty old SC 1.0. I'll make a final comment on this but here is my revised recommendation for what to start your R.C. flying career with. Here goes:

If you are working on a tight budget (~$150) and want to get started in R.C. flight or if you are unwilling to spend more than ~$150 in R.C plane / equipment I recommend the Super Cub for you first plane. This is the best option to cheaply learn what R.C. flight is all about. I will not say it is the best platform, just the cheapest I know of and you will learn from this plane and have fun.

If you are willing to spend a little more and recognize that fixing the plane when you crash- you will crash- will cost more than with the SC, I recommend buying the Parkzone T-28 RTF. This Plane sells for about $250. My belief is that for $100 more you are getting substantially more plane than with the $150 SC. If I had learned on this plane my estimate is that I would have spend ~80 to fix the plane vs the ~$50 I spend in parts on the SC. This may be a little over what you will experience. I am pointing out that parts for the T-28 are more expensive than the Super Cub. One note- I have not used the TX that comes with the RTF version of this plane, so I can not comment on the quality.

Finally, if you have decided that you are committed to R.C. aviation and if you recognize that, like any hobby, you are likely to spend substantially more than your first foray, I recommend the following: buy the T-28 plug and play version, and the following:

Spektrum DX7 ~$200
AR6200 Receiver ~$80
Turnigy Accucell-6 (or similar) ~$40
2 (minimum) Flightmax 2200 mah Lipo (or similar) ~$40

This last approach will cost you about $500 to start. The advantage of this approach is that everything- except of course the plane itself can be taken to the next plane. This last option will be more cost effective in the long run than option 2 if you think you will take to the hobby and if you plan to purchase additional planes. It will also give you some of the best performance in control and the confidence that you will not be interfering (or get interfered with ) with your fellow blog reader at the next park down the street who is also living the dream of R.C. flight- hey it could happen!

So, I have thrown a lot at you and hopefully gotten some of you off my back by answering the questions I have :).

Here are 2 last points- 1 on the T-28 and 2 on the SC.

On the T-28:
It is a stable flier that can handle slow speeds. It is great to fly around the field at ½ throttle and know that you have reserve to get you out of a bind. I'll write up a few quick tips on using the T-28 as your first plane in a follow on post. If you are hesitant about ailerons consider investing in the clearview r.c. flight simulator and download the T-28 model- it is pretty accurate.

On the SC:

On reflection, I don't regret buying the SC. I always feel you can't appreciate higher quality or higher performance if you have not experienced something else. This is not a slam against the SC. How can you compare a $150 all one package that gets you in the air to one that costs over $500? Well you can compare them, but you shouldn't.

I still think the SC is a great plane to start with, but I think one has to think of it as a step in the training. I can not honestly imagine doing 100 flights on the plane and not getting bored. The truth is I did just that and began modifying the SC with Ailerons. By the time I did all that I spent as much as had I just opted for option 3 I mentioned above. However, this journey was well worth the price of admission and I picked up some hangar skills from these modifications!

My last word on this topic: the fact that I am flying the T-28, My modified SC with Ailerons, and the Parzone F4U competently speaks volumes on the effectiveness of the hobbyzone supercub as a self-teaching R.C airplane trainer- go buy one (and start saving for option number 3).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Maiden Flight Parkzone F4U Corsair


Flight Dates: 16,17 May 2009

Equipment: (F4U Corsair)
WX: Wind 5 mph, Temp ~65 F
Ground Conditions: grass
Field: (#1 )

I picked up a new plane a couple of weeks ago- the Parkzone F4U Corsair. I struggled deciding between this plane and the E-flite Mini Pulse XT. The reason being that I knew the F4U would be similar in flight characteristics to the T-28 Trojan. The deciding factor was partly cost but also the fact that I seem to keep breaking the T-28 despite being relativity competent behind the sticks. The styro-models are tough and easy to fix. I fear a balsa plane may get destroyed too quickly.

The first flight was a quick one around the field on the evening of the 16th. It was getting dark, but I wanted to try the plane out. It flew pretty well and predictable. Although it seemed to turn a little strange. I landed and realized the ruder was reversed!

The following morning I got a lot more flying time with the plane. It is another fantastic flier. With the ruder functioning correctly the plane turns very nicely! There where a few times during my flight, when the plane past in front of a wisp of clouds and the early morning moon in the background, that I could have sworn the real thing was passing high over head. The planes looks very nice in the air.

The Plane turns very well and has predictable flying characteristics. I feel it has very similar flying characteristics to the T-28. In terms of maneuverability I give the F4U a slight edge. I was able to pull of a couple of nice tight rolls which I find harder to do do with the T-28.

I find this plane actually easier to land than the T-28. I think this has mostly to do with the type of gear. The F4U is a tail-dragger and for some reason I find it easier to land conventional gear. I had about 12 very nice landings during my flights on to the packed earth around the base ball diamond. I had a blast flying the pattern with this little war bird.

The F4U is similar to the T-28 but different enough in styling and landing characteristics to make it worth having both. Besides it is good to have a back up when one is in the hanger being repaired! The only damage on these flights was a propeller due to a hasty take off attempt.

Parkzone F4U Corsair Stats
F4U Cumulative Flights: 4
Cumulative Hrs: 0.9 hr
successful Landings: 12
Maintenance / Repairs ~$3

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

T-28 Trojan Re-Make

Flight Dates: 03,09,10 May 2009

Equipment: (T-28 Trojan)
WX: Wind 5 mph, Temp ~50 F
Ground Conditions: grass

Field: (#1 )

I had a couple of great flights in very nice- almost still- wind conditions. I was enjoying my newly repaired T-28 which was fully rehabilitated from a wing separation that occurred the prior week. Unfortunately towards the end of the 2nd flight I had a similar event to the prior week- only worse.

I was executing a low pass at full throttle to see how fast the plane looked at WOT. As the plane was coming towards me I lost control and it crashed into the ground at near full throttle. The opening pictures is a recreation of the crash sight. The following carnage resulted from the disaster:

  • Canopy popped off- pilot tried to eject!

  • Front cowl separated from the fuselage along with the motor

  • Severe damage to the tail section

  • Separation of the wings from the fuselage

  • Bent push rod for front gear and Bent prop

The remarkable thing is that I was able to re-make the T-28 with only a little patience and new tubes of Devcon 2-part Epoxy.

I had to take the gluing in steps to get it right, but all in all it came out well. I did drop the steerable front gear since the front push rod was bent very badly. I don't really use the steerable gear since it doesn't work well in grass. Usually I hand launch the plane.

Here is a shot of the re-make, good as new-- almost!

Post crash I have flown the T-28 3 flights and about 55 minutes. It still flies well. It was a little gusty so I will reserve final judgment on the success of the fixes. Currently all systems are go! I made about 10 touch and goes on the 3rd flight. Lots of fun!

SC 1.0 Cumulative Flights: 15
SC 2.0 Cumulative Flights: 21

Total: 36
Cumulative Hrs: 8.3
successful Landings: 80
SC Maintenance / Repairs* ~$54.5

T-28 Cumulative flights 22
Cumulative Hrs: 6.2
successful Landings: 55
T-28 Trojan
Maintenance / Repairs* ~$19

*Cost to replace items broken in flight