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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Laser Crash Testing

Well, no. We don't actually crash test the planes on purpose.  Enough of that goes on that you really don't put any additional effort into it. It's better that crash testing happens naturally and organically. Otherwise you mess with Mother Zen and all, which isn't very nice.
Occasionally we have a problem and capture it on video. In instances such as this, I post the footage to show you how tough these planes are. They are not designed to be treated this way, and I certainly suggest you don't. However, in the rare event you slap your EXP off the ground, it is good to know the plane is built so well.
I was testing an off brand of ESC and it simply failed. To make matters worse, I used a parachute maneuver to kill the altitude and speed. With no power to rely on the plane surprised me by how much lift it blew off in the rotation. Simply put, she was a dead duck, falling about 40 feet, right on the cowl and main wheels. You can hear how sickening the sound was in the video.
Astonishingly the plane was undamaged except for a few scratches on the cowling. It didn't even hurt the wheel pants. One of the SFGs was cracked, but I shot CA  onto the break with a hypodermic needle right through the covering. All I had to do was wipe it off and you would never be able to tell.
I looked the plane over extremely carefully. After a shot like that it is hard to believe nothing broke, but it appears the plane was not even fazed by all of this. Astonishing, actually.
 The second video in this article was from the very next day, and all I really had to do to it was change out the bad ESC and fix the SFGs. I think that impact would have outright killed a lot of other planes.
Again, please don't try this with your EXP. 

ESC and BEC Set Up
I was lucky this time because I could have very easily destroyed the plane. If the BEC in the ESC had fried I would have lost control of the radio too, so I'm not letting this upset me and am taking it as a good lesson, which is, don't try new stuff on a plane you can't afford to wreck.
It was also such a surprise that it destroyed my confidence, but the best way to get that back was to use another ESC that has never failed me... the Airboss Elite 45.
Fortunately I had one that I cut the switch off a while back, so I simply soldered a Castle 10 amp BEC (set to 7.4 volts) to the deans plug on the ESC.  Remember, this Laser uses HS5070MH and 5087MH high voltage servos, so I needed bigger power than the Airboss' currently has, For now I have resigned myself to running a separate BEC so I can keep using the Airboss.
This is how I always mount my Airboss in an EXP, so you might think this is nothing different until you turn the plane over. I mounted the Castle BEC on the bottom of the motorbox, right in the airflow coming in the lower cooling hole. Hopefully this will keep the BEC cool and happy.
I hate running separate BECs because of the additional wiring, complexity and having more potential failure points. However, this is the only way to do it with an Airboss ESC right now. After this recent experience using something else, I am never again using anything but an Airboss ESC. For now, I will just hold my nose and run a separate BEC.
My soldering is actually pretty decent, but on things like this I am loathe to trust my own work. I managed to keep this installation reasonably tidy, and this is how I will do it on all my 7.4 volt planes until/if we get a 7.4 volt Airboss.
Servo Update:
This is the same plane as featured in January's "Laser In High Voltage" blog article. astute readers will remember this plane features Hitec's HS5070MH servos on the ailerons and rudder, and an HS5087MH on the elevator, all run on 7.4 volts. You can actually run them on 8 volts, but they were a little faster than I liked. At 7.4 volts they are still very quick and pack more torque than I can use.
This, along with my recently departed 48" Yak, has been my primary plane since December, so it has seen a lot of hard use. The servos have stayed tight, center strongly, and do everything I ask from them. I am very pleased with them.
This plane gets flown fast a lot because the servos make it so crisp at high speed. We were getting a slight degree of stalling and blowback on the 6 volt servos, but at the time it was the best thing we had. We sort of lived with the because we didn't know any better, that is, until we tried MH series servos. They have so much speed that I had to turn the voltage down to keep up with them, and so much torque that I had to turn my low rate ailerons back because it was rolling too fast.
Stalling and blowback can score the potentiometer, weaken amplifiers and burn servo motors up outright. Once you damage a servo from stalling, it becomes weaker and even more prone to stalling an even more damage. It is a self perpetuating cycle that you can put a stop to with MH series servos.
Since the MH series  servos have so much torque, they are better suited for the harsh environment of extreme aerobatics. With stalling and blowback eliminated, so is a source of potential reliability issues, and I expect this will result in the servos having a much longer lifespan than their 6 volt counterparts.
I plan to use up the HS65MGs that I already have, but any new 48" plane I build will get HS70MH and HS5087MH servos.
The servos are performing brilliantly, but I am worried that the last impact may have damaged some of the gears. This is not the servos fault because you aren't supposed to crash them! Since I am planning a new Laser I will just send them in to Hitec service for inspection. Hitec usually doesn't charge for servicing a servo outside of the cost of replacing metal gears. That's cheap considering they will come back with new gears and freshly serviced in like-new condition.
This Laser is working out especially well. Since January I have been flying it as my primary plane, which means abut 25 flights a week or so. Here you can see I recovered the SFGs in yellow so they would be more visible. the white roundel is from the red 48" Yak EXP.
Above you can see I have been tinkering around with the racing wing tips from the 48" MXS. They bolt right on and make the plane much more groovy at high speed. Smoothness at high speed is ridiculous. You give up a little tumbling ability with the tips, but over all the plane seems a little better with them. Anything that adds stability is a good thing. That, and they look so cool I am leaving them on.
Here camera guy Mad Marty prepares for the next shoot steadyng his nerves with a stiff shot of nicotine.
Just in the last two or three flights with the tips I have become really, really comfortable using them. I always liked the extra stability, but now I am figuring out how to get the plane to snap more violently in spite of that. As you can see, it's pretty lively



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Extra SHP__Flying On 3s__All New Video Showcase

Yesterday we flew so much and videoed so much that I was too beat to write anything until now. In fact, I was not really planning an article, but with four solid videos the plane certainly deserves some accolades.
I've really been enjoying my Extra SHP for it's carefree and easy flying nature. Since the plane is so forgiving I am using this opportunity to try a few new things, including getting my sloppy rolling harriers down a bit lower. I am trying more things and trying to expand my skills. I think it is helping because when I go back to a bad ass 4s EXP I seem to fly it a little better than before. Some times your game just needs a little shaking up, and flying this plane has been the perfect opportunity to do that.
We shot four brand new videos, and you will find those below. I also offer a few thoughts on batteries, propellers and flying in general.

Extra SHP Too Easy from Doc Austin on Vimeo.
Why 3S Batteries?
Tastes seem to vary, but my experience is that a plane does the most effortless 3D with a power to weight ratio of 180 watts per pound. This is not really my idea ... I learned this corresponding with the great Andrew Jesky. We ran the numbers years ago and this combo comes out at about 200wpp. It's not exactly dead on at 180, but it is close enough with a little extra. I will run some numbers later on this week when we fly the SHP again. I might be getting a little more with these batteries.
At 180wpp you have enough power to punch out of hovers and go vertical, but it is not so much that power modulation is difficult. At the reduced voltage of a 3s pack (as compared to a 4s), power is much more deliverable, both in a linear movement of the throttle, and in short bursts. It also helps that the plane is no so over powered that it is always trying to jump out from under you, especially if you are a newer pilot.
On 3s the SHP is crazy easy to fly. It is light on it's wings and the power system is balanced perfectly to delivery the grunt smoothly. The whole idea of a 3s SHP is to set up a plane that almost any sport flyer can pick up and have instant success with. The plane is so friendly and effortless to handle like this that it gives more people a chance to sample some 3D and enjoy it enough to want more.
For the more adventurous, 4s delivers blistering power and insane speed. this is a good way to go too, but you probably need to have some stick time on 3s before you try something as ballistic as that. Later down the road I will be building a new SHP to fly with 4s 2700 70C Pro Power packs, but we need a little time to put that together. For now I want to air out my 3s Lightning packs

Extra SHP Too Easy 002 from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

More On Lightning 55C Packs
Every time I take the SHP out I put 6-8 flights on her, so the total number is adding up pretty quickly.
All of my Thunder Power 2250 55C Lightning Series packs now have about four or five flights on them. I am quite pleased with the power I am getting from them. While I have not weighed them, you can tell by holding them that they are light packs. Power and lightness are probably the two things we chase most in setting up a good extreme aerobatic machine, so this is a good start.
Thunder Power has deeply discounted the 55C Lightning series to get them in the hands of the people. The 3s 2250 packs retails out at $36.99, which is favorable when compared to all but the cheapest batteries.  Since you have already spent about $425-450 setting this plane up, to me it doesn't make sense to risk  compromising performance by buying a $20 pack that has no warranty. While this is an easy, inexpensive 3D machine, it still makes sense to get the most performance you can afford, and that starts with a good battery. For about $74 you can set the SHP up with two light weight, high performance packs, and this plane absolutely deserves it. 
I find it amusing (as well as highly convenient) that I can charge these packs so quickly. On my Thunder Power 610C AC/DC charger I can pop one out in about 14-16 minutes, but that is charging only at 8 amps and is very conservative.  This is so quick that I can hardly fly fast enough to get behind on my charging. 15 minutes or so is enough time to put fresh pack in the plane, get something to drink, check the plane over, and clown around with the guys a little. Like this you can almost get away with having only two battery packs and rotate them all day. No matter how much I fly, I almost never have two packs on charge.
One time I did get vehind because I forgot to push the button to start it, so just for grins I pulled my Thunder Power TP820CD (nicknamed "Mongo") out of the trunk and nuked the pack at 20 amps. It says right on the pack that you can go to 24.9 amps, so we were safe. That resulted in an 8:16 cycle, which I find to be simply amazing. Back in the old Mini Ultra Stick days, a 2200 15C pack would take a full hour to charge, and any faster was unsafe!
If I noticed any difference between these packs and my 70C Prp force packs it is that power fades a little in the last half minute or so of a flight. This is not dramatic or anything ....... it's just enough that you are aware of it. With the 70C packs, they would deliver full amperage until after you had run them down below the rated voltage, which you don't want to do. You might not think I would like the pack to drop a little power like that, but the fact is sometimes I fly harder and run the pack lower. The slight power drop off acts simply as a warning.  I land when I notice the drop off, and usually I still have about 11.5 volts in the pack, which is a nice, fat margin. You want to quit at 11.1 volts, but leaving more voltage in the pack is much easier on them and helps them live longer.

Final word on the Lightning packs is that I believe this is not only going to be a huge battery for Thunder Power, but for electric pilots in general. Everyone is trying to save money, but now you can do that and still fly high quality, high performance batteries from a company that will take care of you.
Those of you who have moved to other brands might want to take another look now that the numbers are so much more vastly in your favor. Compare my videos with other SHP videos and I think you will agree the Lightning packs offer very satisfactory performance. These are probably the perfect 3s packs for this plane.

Propeller Choices
Initially I flew with an APC 14/7, but it is so hot outside I am switching to an APC 13/6.5. The 13" has a few advantages, mainly les amp draw and higher top speed. I feel like you give up just a bit too much speed with the 14/7, and the 13/6.5 has the right balance for high performance sport style flying and 3D. It's just very nicely balanced all the way around.
For 3D, the 14" prop is better because it gives you a full 1" more of vectored thrust to blow over the control surfaces, thus giving you more control. If you are going to fly mostly 3D, the 14" prop gives you superb post stall control.  
 I like this set up too, but top speed suffers just a little too much for my taste.  For now I am sticking with the 13/6.5.  When it cools off a little I will try the 14/7 again. Right now it's 94 degrees every single day and I don't want to torture the equipment quite that hard. Like with everyone else, money is getting tight and I need to stretch as much life out of my packs as I can.
I wanted to run some APC propellers on this plane, but the cut outs in the spinner I am using are way too small. That, and the hub on those props is so thick that you can't get the cone on! As it is, with the 14/7 the spinner cone is about 1/1000th" away from being perfectly seated in the back plate. I have flown it like that and it's fine, but it's not the right way to do it. I'll have a good solution by the time the weather cools off. 

Extra SHP Too Easy 004 from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

With a light weight battery a big propeller, and the power system balanced out at around 180wpp, the SHP is simply delightful to fly. It hangs and hangs and hangs there well after the stall, which gives you plenty of time to do maneuvers or make corrections. From a flying standpoint, things seem to slow down to where everything is easier to deal with, which is exactly what the new guys need. 
You may have noticed that I fly the SHP in a more controlled and composed fashion than some of my other planes. Part of this is because I only have one of these and it's still fairly pristine. Also, the plane is just so easy that I feel like I have all day to set my maneuvers up and execute. This is helped by  the comparatively lower top speed of the 3s pack, and since 3D is not about top speed, this was a righteous compromise.
I am also playing around with a 25% spoileron mix on this plane. The SHP is so light on it's wings and floaty that it doesn't want to drop when you stall it, at least not as much as I am used to. The spoileron mix allows me to bleed off altitude without a speed build up, and I can control the placement of the airplane better with the throttle.
I think newer pilots could benefit using the mix once they have a basic harrier established. From there, you just have to work your harriers until you are sick of doing it.....and then do it some more. Everyone wants to hover the first day, but harrier flight is the building block to all 3D and you will have more success faster if you master this aspect first. The SHP is so easy and gentle that it is perfect for harrier practice.

Break Time 
We are going to take a short break because August is the most brutally hot month of the year in Florida, and I have already gotten dehydrated once this summer. We will probably shoot video on rainy days between showers, but I just can't stand out in the sun and 95 degree heat/99% humidity all day any more. This wasn't an issue when I was 30 years old, but then again, that was 30 years ago.
Probably in early September we will try to build a new SHP and run it on Thunder Power 4s 2700 70 Pro Force packs. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 27, 2015

MXS EXP__Before The Storm.

All of the EXPs have been around so long there's not much to write about except how great they fly. This is my back up MXS with Hi Tec HS65MG servos on the rudder and ailerons, and an HS85MG on the elevator. Along with the Torque 2814/820 and Airboss Elite 45 combination, this is all standard, off-the-shelf stuff and I haven't done anything to trick it out except being really meticulous about all the details.

If there is anything trick on this plane it's the same Thunder Power 4s 2700 70C Pro Power pack that is another off-the-shelf item. With this pack and the Torque/Airboss combination I don't believe there are many people who benefit from as much blistering power and dead solid reliability I enjoy.

With this power system I can run it as hard as I want for about 4.5 minutes in the Florida summer blast furnace with no heat issues and no worrying about draining the pack too much. I have generally been coming down with over 15 volts in the pack, with 14.8 being as low as you would want to go. This is a good safety margin and will help increase the lifespan of my packs.

There is always a lot of talk about servos and which is best, but at least for the foreseeable future the 6 volt servos seem to do a credible job. I think if the planes become any more powerful we will have to jump to 7.4 volt servos. As it stands, I have to use up the standard servos I already have, but anything new I build will get Hitec 5070MH and 5087MH servos.

Fun things to notice on this video is the bonus footage after the credits. That was from 1/2 of a flight we got when the camera crashed on us. It came out really dark because that was right when the storm started moving in, and since the footage didn't really match what we took earlier, I just tagged it onto the end with no soundtrack.

Here's an older video of my #1 MXS that uses the Hitec 5070MH and HS5087MH servos. I run this with a Castle BEC set at 7.4 volts. I tried it at 8.2 volts, but the servo were so fast that it was messing with my timing on some maneuvers. I dialed it back to 7.4 and it feels the same as the 6 volt servos except it is much more responsive at high sped, and generally all around it feels more solid.
There are a few fun moments, but I surprised even myself when I left a high speed parachute a little late and was thoroughly convinced the plane was going in the ground. I yanked the stick and the plane just stops. This tells me that we are probably getting a little stalling on the older servos, but the new 7.4V servos simply won't take no for an answer.
Still, it's all things you adapt to. I leave myself a little more margin with the 6 volt planes and I push the 7.4V planes as close to the limit as I can.

Got to 0:30 to see the insane parachute. There is also an insane parachute into a landing at the end.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

100,000, A Video Showcase

We are finally about to reach 100,000 hits on Extreme Aviation. Thanks to everyone who visited the blog and made it possible. We also passed the 100 articles milestone, which I wasn't even aware of until someone else pointed it out to me. I find all of this to be remarkable because I would have never believed there was that much to write about, or even that I would live that long!

Of course, we didn't get here alone. From the very beginning Advanced Energy, through their Thunder Power brand made sure I had the tools to get it done. I've always had the best batteries and chargers to work with and I believe that performance has always showed up in the videos, and certainly in the longevity and reliability I get from these products in my day-to-day, every day flying.

Right now I am flying Thunder Power's 55c Lightning packs in my little SHP and in my 60" EXPs. I save a little weight, a lot of money, and still get about the same power as with my 70C packs. So far, I have been impressed and pleased.

A big thanks to Mark M at Thunder Power. When I started electrics I didn't know how to take care of my lipos, and I messed a few of them up. Mark got my stuff replaced and then taught me how to take care it, and from there on out, I was a Thunder Power customer for life. Of course, my relationship with Thunder Power blossomed from there, which is a really good thing because I can't do what I do without their support and without having the best energy products.

I hear their headphones are pretty sweet too, and since I just bought my first cell phone I plan to get a pair so I can rock out while I am flying.

It's also a good time to thank the Boss, Chris Hinson, at Extreme Flight. We ran into each other at an event at Triple Creek, Fla, and we had so much fun flying and eating and hanging out that it eventually turned in to my being on Team Extreme Flight in 2011. We started off with just power systems and I have been flying Extreme Flight Torque motors and Airboss ESCs exclusively since June of 2008, which also coincides with my 100% power system reliability run.

When the EXP series came out, I had owned all of the 3DHS planes in the 40-57" span size, and had flown them so much that I was a little burnt. Essentially I needed a change of scenery, and the timing just happened to be perfect. In the very beginning, the EXPs needed a little promotion, and I needed a new challenge. Hooking up with Team Extreme Flight was a great move for everyone concerned, and it has worked out to be something even better than I ever dreamed..

The move to Team Extreme Flight gave me a unique opportunity. I now had a platform, sort of official, to help the new guys get the most from their planes, be it through set up or flying coaching. While I am not necessarilly the best at these things, I had the time to reach out to the new guys instead of working a full time job too like the other team pilots have to. That sort of became my little niche and I am very comfortable with that. I sort of had to grow into it, but it was not that bad, especially considering how much fun I have been having.

Thanks to Curtis and Melissa for keeping me in good equipment and getting it to me fast. I'm also looking forward to working with Zack because I hear he's a pretty good guy.

Hitec RCD have become pretty good friends too. While we do not have an official relationship outside of business/customer, occasionally they will help me out when I need servos that I can't afford or have a special project. Mike Mayberry is a fountain of radio systems knowledge and it's good to know someone who has the answers whenever I run into a radio or servo problem.

Also thanks to Suzanne Lepine for her time and generous support.

We were hoping to do more with Hitec this summer and try one of their Flash Seven radios, but the merger caught everyone flat footed and I won't have the time to give it an honest evaluation until after we fly the new Slicks and maybe one of those 3DHS Yak 55s. I do plan to try a Hitec radio soon. I just want to be able to concentrate on that and give it a fair shake.

One last thing on Hitec, thanks to their sterling service department for keeping me tight in the servo department. I tear up a lot of stuff and I usually send them 10 servos at a time. They never complain and just turn the stuff around in like new condition. About the only thing they ever make me pay for  are replacing metal servos gears, but that just encourages me to stop beating the rudder on the ground!

Thanks to Ben Fisher of 3DHS, who took an interest in my success, and not only taught me about flying 3D, setting up the planes and getting the most out of myself, but also how to carry myself as a Team representative. Pretty much most of what I know came from that source, and I hope once the merger mania passes we will get a chance to work together again, or if nothing else, share a good laugh together again.

Ben dragged me into 3D against my will by sending my first SHP (by surprise), and since it was yellow I couldn't say no. Ben wanted me to buy one and I kept saying no because I had no interest in 3D. Suddenly one day an SHP shows up on my doorstep. I had no interest in it until I opened the box and started looking at it. After that it was so nice that I figured I would just sport fly it, though that didn't last long.

Ben encouraged me to shoot video, write reviews, and later to start a blog. Ben pretty much created the Doc Austin monster, and with the merger the monster is coming home to roost! In the move to Extreme Flight I never got a chance to thank Ben for all he taught me and the opportunities he presented to me. I hope he either sees this or someone sends him a link to this. Thank you so much, Mr. Peanut.

Extra SHP Wicked from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

With the merger complete I am able to fly all the 3DHS planes I care to, and the announcement wasn't a whole day old before I sent out a message to Ben to get me a red SHP. Over the last five years that is the one plane I really missed flying, and I am trying to make up for it now.

While we are waiting for the 44" Slicks I am trying to scratch together a second SHP to fly on Hitec's 5070MH 7.4 volt servos and 4s batteries. That one should be a jolly good fire breathing monster. For now, I am flying this one on 3s and it's such a wonderful little plane. Now when I get new students I will have the Edge EXP and the extra SHP to recommend for a first 3D balsa plane, so you can expect us to do a lot more with this plane soon.....maybe even another sport report if enough people are interested.

Extra SHP Wicked II from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

Finally, In the end I hope all my work will have me remembered as a regular guy who worked hard at having fun, and spreading fun. When I started flying radio control I thought I would have to pay for lessons, and my instructor told me that I would pay for the rest of my life by teaching new pilots and helping out those that needed it. Considering how rewarding all of this has been, I'de say that was a pretty good deal.


Friday, July 17, 2015

3DHS Extra SHP__Lightning strikes

Today was a big day for my new Extra SHP and also my new Thunder Power 3s 2250 55C Lightning battery packs. The Lightning series is very competitively priced, and work well in my 60" planes. Since the Extra SHP  can fly well on something as small as a 3s 2250 pack, putting Lightning packs in one was an ideal combination.

The Excuse Paragraphs
The day did not go as well as I had planned, though. Like almost everyone else, I've been finding financing a bit tight lately. As such, I was forced to use a lot of equipment from my recently crashed Yak, otherwise known as "El Diablo." It turns out that crashing El Diablo was the best thing I ever did because all the gear was absolutely beat.

That plane had hundreds and hundreds of deliberate beat downs on it, plus dozens of hard hits, repairs, and even more beating down. Very simply, once I broke the plane a few times I decided to simply abuse it and see how long it lasted, which considering the treatment was well beyond considerable.

Unfortunately the crash damaged the bearings in the motor, and it was down on power a little, and also running hot. Down on power and running hot are not two things you normally associate with a Torque 2814, but this motor was driven straight into the ground at full throttle and full speed. It's also got hundreds of flights in my Yaks, and Lord knows how long I had it before that. Torques are sort of interchangeable to me. A five year old is as good as a new one to me, so I never keep track of when I bought motors or what plane they have been in. I just hammer them hard and am still waiting for one to blow up, which may never happen.

If nothing else, considering how gnarly the motor was sounding because of the bearings, it's amazing the thing ran as well as it did without blowing up.

At the end of the day the elevator servo started jittering at center. I changed the servos about five times and still had the problem, changed transmitter and even the extensions and still had a jumpy elevator. Finally in desperation I pulled the receiver out of my #2 Edge and that fixed it.

I thought I was having a case of new plane jitters and not flying that well, but now I am certain the receiver was giving me trouble. I traced the Yak crash to a fried rudder servo extension, and I can only guess since that was a dead short it probably affected the rest of the components. Either way, that receiver is now marked and I am debating whether to send it to Futaba for post mortem, or smash it with a hammer. The last time I send a receiver in for an antenna replacement it was $60, so I may as well just buy a new one instead.
 Click To Enlarge

I was quite anxious to try these new 55C Lightning packs in the SHP. I think this is going to be a big battery for Thunder Power simply because so many guys stepping up to a balsa 3D plane already have 3s 2200 packs from their Mini Ultra Sticks, Mini Pulses, Visionaires, T28s, and similar planes. When they need new packs they can get a high performance Thunder Power lipo for $36.99.
Right away I knew I was in trouble with the motor. As soon as it spooled up to full throttle I could hear the bearing were damaged. This did not show up on the bench, but then again, I don't run the motor up full throttle in the garage with a prop on the plane. Power was still very good, though I know the 2814 well enough that I am convinced a healthy one is capable of more. Still, I think even this much performance is enough for most people.
I am getting a list of parts together for all my other planes, and I plan to pick up some bearings. I've damaged bearings before and they are relatively easy to change out. The biggest headache is the little C-clip on the backside of the motor. If you don't have the right tool for that you will either never get it off, or it will snap in a fashion that sends it flying into that place where lost things go. I really need to just go buy the right tool for the job. That or stop driving my motors into the ground.
Still, even a damaged 2814 flies pretty well. This one just doesn't have the same edge it had before, but then again, we know who's fault that is.
The first three videos are when I flew the plane with the bad receiver. You can see me struggling to be precise with it, but the trim kept changing and every so often the elevator would just plain glitch. In the last video I got everything right and now she flies rock solid.

Extra SHP Lightning Strikes from Doc Austin on Vimeo.
The SHP is just like I remember it. Right away I was on it and flying it like it was my primary plane. I've been without one for awhile and it's really great to have another one. I just need replace the bearings in the motor and it should be golden.
I especially like the landing in this video: 

Extra SHP Lightning Strikes Again from Doc Austin on Vimeo
Lightning Pack Evaluation
Just like with my 6s 3300 Lightning packs, I am delighted with my 2250 Lightning batteries. After handling those monster 6s bricks, these little packs sure seem dainty. I usually take four 4s packs to the field, and it is surprising how much lighter my flight box is when I take the SHP and it's 3D packs.
EDIT: With the elevator glitching it was impossible to get the CG dialed in. Once I changed the receiver the battery ended up about an inch behind when you see below. Every plane is going to vary a little, but that's where my last one ended up too.
I believe that since last flying an SHP,  I have grown to like the planes a little bit more tail heavy than before. This is pretty close to neutral, though I am still moving it a 1/4" at a time. when I get it too far back I will move it to where it was the flight before and mark the location on the tray with a sharpie pen.
I knew I could not resist flying this plane hard, so to take it a bit easier on my brand new packs, I settled in on a 4 minute timer. I was coming down with more than 11.5 volts in the pack every time. You want to stop before 11.1 volts, so this is a good margin., I am guessing I will be able to fly the plane really hard for five minutes and not run the pack too low.
Even with the motor struggling with bad bearings the Lightning packs still performed very, very well. Just like it is right now, the plane has just about the perfect balance of. I replaced the motor for the last video and you can see a pretty big difference, but again, power is still in that 180-220 watts per pound range that gives you really easy 3D control.
Lower C rated batteries tend to be a little more stable than high C rated.  For example, I could run my 15C packs down to where it hit the low voltage cut off every single time and those things lasted forever. Not knowing any better at the time, I over amped them until they were too hot to touch,  repeatedly, and they still held up. On a 70C pack you might get away with that once or twice. but they live longer if you treat them better. Once I started taking better care of my batteries had much better life expectancy and reliability.
The 70C batteries are almost bulletproof, so I am expecting these 55C packs to be like Vampires and never die, as long as I treat them with a reasonable amount of care. So far, power is really, really good, though not what I have become used to flying 4s for the last five years.  It was a bit of an adjustment at first, but once I got a feel for the different power to weight ratio it was no problem. You just have to be a little quicker on the power and stay ahead of it better. It's not harder. It's easier in fact, though you do have to adjust your style a little.
I went to 3s on this plane for a reason. This plane flies exceptionally gentle on 3s and is almost painfully easy to fly, which is exactly what I want from it. It's designed to be that way so it can be a perfect first 3D plane.
But, back to the Lightning packs, so far I could not be happier, especially considering I still fly a high performance Thunder Power pack, have a great warranty, and saved a lot of money on them.

For now there's not much else to say other than it was great to have a nice, cool day that I could enjoy to test a new plane. It rained right when I got to the field, but SPARKS dries fast. The overcast stayed all day, which not only kept the sun out of our faces, but the temperature stayed cool. Being this is the middle of Florida Hell Days in July, the beautiful day was a wonderful surprise. We just had to dance around the puddles for a few flights and then it was perfect.

Extra SHP Lightning Strikes Three from Doc Austin on Vimeo.
This is the flight after I changed out the receiver and you can see how locked in the plane is now. I also found a spare Torque 2814 I had forgotten about and installed that. The motor made a huge difference as you can see in the video below.

I plan to be flying the SHP exclusively until the 44" Slicks get here, so stayed tuned for whatever good or bad misadventures I can have with this plane. If history is anything to go by, it should be nothing but fun.

Thanks to those who made it this far!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

3DHS Extra SHP__A Closer Look

 I covered so much ground on the last SHP report that there's really not much to do except post the set up pictures and talk about the plane a little bit.

Here's my new SHP that ready to go into action. I built it exactly a year to the day since I had my last surgery, without actually realizing that until my wife mentioned it. Generally I try not to build anything in July because Florida is deadly hot outside this time of year. I don't remember it being this hot last year, but then again, I was in an air conditioned hospital, so I should probably stop complaining about it and enjoy the heat!

I went for a slightly different look on this SHP. The wheel pants that come with the plane are beautiful three color paint job that matches the rest of the scheme. I can always use those later, but for now I went with the classic black Extreme Flight pant with Thunder Power decals.

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Also slightly different, but now appropriate are the Team Extreme Flight decals I had printed up. These are copies of the decals that come with the red Yak EXP, and used the just because I like them, and they do look really good.
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The spinner is a Great Planes polished aluminum but you might notice it is a lot more polished than they come out of the box. Thanks to my good friend Darnell Rodriguez for the special shine.
Ok, now I am cheating a little. This is a video I found of my last SHP. I just didn't have room for it on the last report. We hope to shoot some video as soon as we get some rain to cool things off. The Florida heat has really been unbearable this year.


Control Set Up
Generally I went with exactly what's shown in the manual. This plane has worked so well for so long for so many people that it's pretty well tweaked out. Those of us who have had this plane know it pretty well inside and out. I didn't do anything trick because I didn't need to.

Standard 3DHS extended arms with the pushrod adjuster in the middle hole. The inside hole is the same thing as using the outer hole on the Hitec arm that comes with the servo, which I don't think is enough. The middle hole is just right, for me, anyway.

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Here I used an extended arm strictly for aesthetic symmetry, or in simpler terms, it matches the other side! Even using the inside hole I had to turn my end points back to about 124% to keep the servo from binding
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You may have noticed I am using the Extreme Flight tail wheel bracket. I like this unit a lot because it is easy to set up, maintain, and even replace. I can change the whole thing in about 30 seconds at the field just by turning three screws.
Here it gets a little weird because I have ball links on both ends of the elevator pushrod. I just happened to have a pushrod that was the absolute perfect length to use here. The only problem is I don't remember where it came from. It was just in my junkbox so I thought it was worth a try.

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Power System
Here's another chance to use my favorite motor, the torque 2814. You could see in the previous videos that I had plenty of power on 4 cells with a 12/6 prop, and on 3s with a big 13/6/5 or 14.7" prop. This is the motor that I stuffed into the ground when I crashed my Yak. I checked the prop shaft and it runs true, so it must have been a perfect hit!

Also on board is an Airboss 45 Elite ESC.
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Of course I can us my Thunder Power 4s 2700 70 Pro Force packs on this plane, and it will be bad ass, but I also picked up some Thunder Power 3s 2250 55C Lightning packs. I'm flying Lightning packs in my 60" planes and am really pleased with their performance, so I have really high hopes for these packs.

These packs retail out at $36.99 which I think is pretty reasonable for a high end pack in this size. I'm going to be hammering them all summer in the SHP and the upcoming 44" Slick.

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