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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

48" Extra EXP__Old Faithful


After nearly two and a half years of flying the Extreme Flight Extra EXP as my front line plane, it's a bit difficult to come up with something new to say about it. I've got a lot of great airplanes, but this is the one I always come back to.  The Extra is the perfect match for my style of  flying, which is mixed precision and violent hard charging aerobatics, with a little 3D thrown in. Everything I ask from the Extra EXP, she delivers.

 In my view, everything about this plane is absolutely perfect, from the way it is constructed, to the way it fits in the car, and absolutely the way it flies. It's just perfect. Everything about it.

I am currently flying a newer red model, but below is a remix from footage we shot last October or so. Oddly, as much as I fly the Extra EXP, there almost never seems to be a camera there, so we are hoping to shoot some new (and hopefully even more epic) footage when I get my new blue Extra EXP finished up. We are just waiting on a few decals and for (camerman) Kevin's schedule to lighten up enough for him to get out.

More Fun With Graphics
Once again, thanks to B and E Graphics for quick service on my latest graphics packages. I wanted something a little different, but I also need to stay fairly close to the scheme that The Boss envisioned for this plane.

I told Eric at B and E what I wanted and here is what we came up with. We had to go through a little bit of a process because a few of the things I wanted to try didn't work out so well, but I think we are locked in now and this is pretty much the way my Extras will look.

With B and E's air release vinyl, I've gotten really good results just peeling off the decal from it's backing and sticking it down. With Rapid Tac these decals don't stick that well until they are dry and all the fluid has had a chance to work it's way out or evaporate. It's a little harder to get the outer transfer tape to come off without also lifting up the decal with it, but it is much better applying it dry. Of course, applying dry you lose the ability to slide the decal around and get it exactly where you want it, but sponsor type decals like these are so much smaller than decals seen on, like say, the Laser, that it's easy to get them positioned right, and then rub them down.

Here, we changed the colors and font to match the way it appears on an Extreme Flight hat. This has got a little more "pop" than the stock decal's black lettering.

Here, B and E downsized the aileron decal to fit the stab, so now the plane has a more symmetrical look. We have also added stars on the fin to match those on the wing and stab, but I am not sure if I want to keep those. I want to see it in the air first and then decide.

B and E made a special decal for the SFG. This is solid white and the lettering is very fine. I'm sure Eric was cursing me when  he was weeding out the cut vinyl from around the lettering, but it definitely came out beautifully. This is a very nice decal, and it is excellent work. On this decal, I just peeled the backing, lined it up, and stuck it down.

Of course, We had to get some Thunder Power signage on the plane too, but since it is on the black lettering I wish it had a little more pop to make it stand out. I will probably ask B and E to make the white border larger on the next set. 

For the nose we are sporting our usual Old Glory, and will continue to do so until all our sons and daughters come home. We'll probably even keep it there forever, just because I like it.

In addition, B and E made up a nice torque decal for the nose in white with gold borders. Gold always sets off red and black very nicely and it's very rich looking.

Ooops. Looking at the picture I see I did not get the "Extreme Power" on quite straight, but I have time to fix that before we fly this afternoon. It was 3am when I finished the plane and I was probably not building real well The nice thing about these graphics is that with a small mistake like this, if you are careful you can peel it up, line it up and put it back down straight.

Edit: Centering the decal wasn't a bad job at all. I simply held down the inside letter on each word, then lifted the rest of the decal up and straightened it. These decals are really easy to work with. They are a little rubbery so they are quite forgiving. You do have to be a bit careful not to stretch them, but then again, the best bet is to get it on straight to begin with.
What tripped me up is that I originally did not intend to use that decal and cut it out of the sheet. Then I changed my mind and decided to use it. If I had left it attached to the Torque decal it would have been perfect.
Finally, an Extreme Flight decal for the black stripe on the fuselage side. This is, again, white with gold bordering, so it sticks out nicely.

It took a little tinkering to get everything exactly the way I wanted it, but now I have both planes finished. B and E went back and forth with me trying to get just the exact look that I was after, and I thing we got it.

Thanks B and E. They look great.



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Even More Miscellany

Right now we're waiting (sadly) for our replacement Yak. I killed  the first one when I flew it on the deck in 25 mph winds. I guess I just got too comfortable, too crazy, and let my common sense fly (so to speak) out the window. It could be a lot worse, though. I saved the wings, tail,  and canopy, along with the LG and SFGs. I do plan to fly this airframe very often, so it will be good to have a few spares.

However, I am still furious with myself for flying so stupid and bashing a plane I like so much. I'll get over it just as soon as I open the box on the next one, which should be a week or so, depending on when they come in.

Something about the Yak's big cowling begs for a bunch of bling. The first feature to draw my attention was the big oil cooler scoop mounted on the bottom of the cowling. The front is simply painted silver instead of being open like it is on the full scale Yaks. For this it was a simple matter to cut a rectangle out of black Ultrakote and apply it with a trim iron set on low. It's a small detail, but it helps the appearance a lot. I think on the next one I will try some 3M high performance vinyl in a carbon fiber pattern.

Next is the front of the cowling. The full scale Yaks use a set of vanes, sort of like front mounted cowl flaps. They open and close to let air in or block it, depending on what the engine needs. This is too intricate to make on a 48" model, and leaving the cowling completely open is too much drag. Extreme Flight came up with the ingenious solution to make the cowling as one piece, with the front featuring slots that simulate radial engine cylinders. This keep the cowling rigid, the drag down, and still lets enough cooling air in. Simple, but again, ingenious.  Since it is painted white, it was begging for some love.

For the first Yak I had my local graphics place cut out a circle of gold 3M high performance vinyl for me. We measured the cowling and his machine cut it out. With a little Rapid Tac decal application fluid I was able to slide it into place. After it dried a little I cut all the openings into an "X" pattern and folded all the vinyl into the vents.

The hard part was eyeballing the circle to make sure it was perfectly centered. Even that was not so bad because I got it off a little, but used scrap gold cut into 1/16 strip and applied it like you would a pin stripe. Came out perfect, but then again, 3M vinyl is pretty easy stuff to work with.

I think our good friend MLT is planning to jam a dummy vacuum formed radial in his, so that will be interesting. Since I had to get my Yak built fast for the report there was no time to play around with that sort of thing, and then I killed it, so experimenting will have to wait until the next one.

As you can see, the little details make a big difference.

Even More Extra At The Triple Creek Wattfest
I absolutely love to go to Triple Creek RC club in Riverview, Florida. This is absolutely the most beautiful place I have ever flown at. The facility is kept spotless and they really know how to throw an event there. The last time I was at Triple Creek was at the 2010 Flying Giants Huckfest, and I was there all five days, which is indicative of how much I love going there. Unfortunately because of a combination of timing, health and other issues, I haven't been able to get down there since, so I was really looking forward to this event.  
The Thursday before the event, I took my #1 blue Extra EXP out for a last minute shakedown. You want to go into an event with your best plane, and you want the confidence of having it fully sported out. I cleaned everything up to spotlessness and checked everything over and over. I replaced a few things, made a few adjustments and wanted to male sure it flew perfect before I opened up in front of a big crowd.

It just happened that my camera guy, Kevin Corson, showed up that day with camera in tow. At this point it made sense to shoot some video. I was showing off and going for it when I double water fell the Extra into the ground hard and broke it. It's always that last damm waterfall that gets you!

With the event only two days away, I really should have know better than to fly like a bonehead. I am still furious with myself. However, I still had my trump card, which was a nearly new red 48" Extra EXP. This plane had two shakedown flights on it, whereupon it was retired to backup service. Good thing, because I sure needed it now.

Unfortunately I did not get another chance to go out due to bad weather. We had to roll into TCRC with a relatively untested newer red model.  At least we had a few flights on the plane and it checked out fine, but it had been six or eight months since I had flown it.

I really hated to go into a big event, around a lot of people with an otherwise unfamiliar airplane, but for the most part with every Extra EXP I fly now days, I know exactly what I have when I open the box.
Adding to the comedic urgency, we were a bit late. I was met at my car by the event director,  my buddy Steve, informing me that the noon demos were almost over, but they had enough time to work me in if I got on it. There was no time to put the 60" MXS together. I had to grab the assembled Extra EXP and go now.
And that's how we rolled into the gate! It was certainly an interesting way to open the event.
We need you to fly NOW!
It was a pretty simple matter to fly it straight out, check the trims (which were perfect), and then I simply forgot about this being a new plane and started hammering it hard. Coupled with this being at TRCR, I had what was probably one of my most enjoyable flights ever.
This Extra flies essentially like the one before it, and the one before that.

 The event finished up a little early so the sport fliers from the club could join us and we just flew and flew until everyone was exhausted. Normally at these events everyone is fighting for airspace, but this time we just took turns and there was more than enough time for everyone to fly until they were exhausted. I could fly almost any time I wanted and had the entire flight line to myself, which at a place like TCRC is a very special experience.
I'll try to write a little more about the following plane later, but for now here's the TCRC shots of my MXS. Thanks to Greg Karpey for the awesome photos. Thanks, as always, to TRCR for such a great event and such a good time.
Another Remix
While we're talking about Extras, here's some old footage that I remixed with a song from a Live Moody blues album we found in the close-out bin at Walmart for $3. Sometimes the music fits like it was written especially for the footage, and it seems like that to me on this one. The two go together eerily well.
Thrashing the Thunder Power 610C AC/DC Charger

I've always loved my little Thunder Power TP610 AC/DC charger because it is so convenient. I can use it off of my car battery or any other 12 volt power supply, and I can use it on 110 volts at home or any other facility that has 110 volts. Basically, anywhere you go, the 610C AC/DC is ready to rock and roll on whatever power source is available. This unit is so versatile and adaptive that it is essential to have at least one of them.

I flew most of last summer and winter at SPARKS while testing the 4016/500 Mk II prototype motor. For the big 6s 65C packs I needed lots of electricity to charge them in a reasonable amount of time, and SPARKS is a great facility with 110 volts available at every work bench. This worked out very nicely because I could use my high power Thunder Power TP820CD charger and zap out a 6s 3850 pack in about 15 minutes.

Unfortunately my other club lags behind in the 20th century as far as getting electricity, but they do have solar power charging some big 12 volt batteries. Sadly this system is only good for 30 amps total, so we have a gentleman's agreement to limit our charging to 5 amps. That way we can have 6 guys charging at once. 110 volts seems a lot more efficient to me.

So, for largo, it is not worth dragging a 60" plane out and having to assemble it at the field for only two flights. When I go there I merely fly my 48s with their 4s 2700 packs. I can charge one of those in about 30 minutes at the agreed-to 5 amps, so the little Thunder Power  TP610C AC/DC is absolutely perfect for this. It will only pull 6 amps with those batteries anyway.

The TP610C is a dainty little unit. It is so compact that it will drop right into the top of a Goldberg Handi-Tote flight box, and it also doesn't take up a lot of room at the crowded charging stations at the field.

Right now I have four 4s 2700 65C Pro Power packs, and unless I relentlessly fly all of those back-to-back, I just about can't keep up with the charger. I will usually fly for three or four hours taking turns with the rest of the guys, checking the plane over, BSing around, and when I go home I rarely have more than one pack to charge, if even that. That's when I simply plug my 610C AC/DC into the 110 outlet on my work bench and zap it out at home, ready for tomorrow.

I think I could probably get away with just taking two packs to the field if I am careful to manage the charging a little better, which means getting it out of the plane and on the charger faster instead of loafing around.

I love this little charger for it's fuss free and easy operation. It's versatility makes it an essential piece of charging equipment.  Once you charge a few packs you can figure the 610C out almost without opening the owner's manual, which is a big plus for the tech impaired or the new guys. This charger is going on three years old and it has operated flawlessly, so I am extremely pleased with it. I'll probably get a second one the next time I order anything from my friends at Thunder Power.

Desktop Wallpapers For Yak EXP Fans
I managed to put together some more Yak artwork, so feel free to click to enlarge and then "save as." They are 1920 X 1080 resolution, so you can use them for desktop wallpaper.