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Friday, May 19, 2017

Working With Pull Cable Systems

Еще раз спасибо моим друзьям в России, которые читали блог 1428 раз в этом месяце. Большое спасибо за отличную поддержку и, пожалуйста, расскажите всем своим друзьям. Также, это специальный привет моему другу Терранозавру!

I've had so much fun with my 48" 3DHS Demonstrator Edge that I wanted to build another one. I've been threatening to write an article on pull cable set up and this gave me an excuse to build another Demonstrator even though my first one is still in terrific shape. Maybe I'm just greedy.

For those who have never done a pull system, it can be quite intimidating, but it's really just as easy as using a pushrod, just different. Like anything else, you need to know a few tricks and you learn those by doing them, and hopefully, from reading this article.

Setting Up The Pull System

My first pull system had me scratching my head and cursing a little, but I learned enough from that to make subsequent ones go smoother. It's not that hard and there are no mysteries. After you do a couple you will wonder why you were intimidated to begin with. What I'm going to try to do is show you some of the little tricks I learned the first few times.

If there are any hard and fast rules they are that you want a drag free and slop free system. The rudder has to move smoothly with no drag coming from a bad hinge job or ill fitted tailwheel assembly. The swivel connectors on the servo arms also have to have no drag on them, and as little slop as you can manage without getting them so tight they drag. If there is ever any doubt on any part of this, always go for smooth and drag free, slop free operation. This is critical for good rudder centering and makes for a good flying and nice tracking plane.

Cleaning Up The Cable Exits
The slots for the cable are already laser cut into the fuselage sides, and the covering is slit so the wires can pass through. The first step it to tuck the covering into the slot with a trim iron. Get them out of the way so they don't put any drag on the cables. You can either cut them flush with the edge of the slot or tuck them in, but tucking them in makes for a neater and cleaner looking job. Here you want to use low heat to avoid the iron sticking and pulling the printing off. Take your time, do a neat job. I think you'll agree this looks a lot cleaner than leaving it loose.

The Cable Ends
Now, thread the ball link onto the threaded connector piece. You can either hold the threaded connector with a pair of pliers and spin the ball link on by hand, or chuck the connector up in a small drill and spin it into the ball link. If you have arthritis, using the drill will make life a lot easier.

The connector will be easier to handle this way because it gives you something to grip. I suggest threading it on all the way, then backing it off five turns or so. This will give you some additional adjustment should you need it later.

With any operation, the cleanest and most tidy job is going to be the best solution. The least clean part of any cable installation are the cable ends and crimp pieces, and I've done my best to make that neater. Here is how the manual calls for the cable ends to be assembled. This works really well, though it's a bit messy for my taste. We are still going to do it the way the manual calls for, though we are going to tidy it up a bit.

Follow the manual and you will get what you see below. Again, this works well, but we're going to clean it up a little. I've put a battery on the ball link to hold it down and aid in getting a better photo.

We are not really going to deviate from the manual here. We are just going to go one step further in making it look better. Again, the cleanest solution is the best one. What I try to do is eliminate the loop in the cable and the extra wire sticking out. First, I pull the wire in the loop tight enough to take the loop out. This goes a long way toward a cleaner appearance. Then I move the crimp piece closer to the threaded end piece to make the whole thing smaller and visually less intrusive.

Once you get it all lined up. take a pair of pliers and smash the crimp piece flat. Just to be sure, put a drop of thin CA on the wire and hold the piece so gravity helps it run into the crimp piece. Snip off the loose end of the cable and the whole thing looks a lot better. It's still pretty ugly. but we're not quite done.

Finally. I use a piece of heat shrink tubing to cover the whole thing up and make a nice presentation.

Setting Up The Servo Arms
Now we take care of the other end.  Here I am using the standard Hitec double arm that comes with the servo and the 3DHS swivel connectors. These are nice because they afford easy cable tension adjustment.

First, drill the outer holes in the servo arm with a 5/64  size drill. I use a little hand drill from the Hobbico set, but in a pinch you can get away with hogging it out by spinning #11 Xacto blade in the hole. Drilling can leave behind some flash around the hole, and this can interfere with the swivels moving smoothly. I use an emery board to lightly sand the top and bottom of the arm. Good, smooth operation will help with proper servo centering.

On the newest 3DHS swivel connectors the threads on the end are a little tighter so the nut spins on a little harder. This is a good thing because it makes it harder for it to come loose. Get the nut as tight as you can get it without introducing any drag. Again, you always want smooth, drag free operation on any control system.

As you can see, the threaded end is a little long, and you have a few threads sticking out. The reason for this is you want to put to put CA on these threads to lock the nut on. I like to use a T pin to apply some thin CA to the exposed threads, and after that sets up, a dab of medium CA. This assures it's not going to come apart.

When you put the arm onto the rudder servo, use the sub trim in the transmitter to center it.

Hooking It All Up
With the cables attached to the control arm on the rudder and cables run forward into the fuselage, now it's time to hook them to the servo. Here I run the forward threaded end pieces halfway into the swivel connector,  and this gives me adjustment both fore and aft, and remember, we have some adjustment in the rear if we need it.

Now you want the rudder to stay centered so you can get the cable tension close, and for this I usually tape the rudder counter balance to the fin. Since the Demonstrator uses printed covering, I don't want to risk damaging it, so I have the wife or a friend  pinch the two together. 
I like to install one cable at a time because it's easier that way and you have less chance of mixing the cables up.  You want the cables to cross over top of each other inside the fuselage so they line up straighter to the servo. By doing one cable at a time, you simply start with the left cable and attach it to the right side of the servo arm and the right cable to the left arm. I don't know why, but I always start with the left cable.

 Make sure you slide the crimp piece onto the cable first.  Starting with the left cable, run it through the right side forward threaded connector piece. Pull the cable tight. You want to be careful that you don't pull so tight that you start breaking things, but you want it tight enough that you won't run out of adjustment later. Usually the cables end up not being as tight as you thought you had them, so get the slack out. If it's either too tight or two loose, we left ourselves some adjustment by centering the forward connector pieces in the swivel, and remember we also left ourseves some emergency adjustment at the rear with the ball links.

 One neat trick here (see above) is to get the cable tight, then bend it backwards at the connector. This will help it stay tight and not slip while you are running the wire back through the crimp piece. You can see I pulled the wire tight and then folded it over the connector. You can pinch the cable down on the connector with one hand and it's not going to come loose. Then you slide the other end into the crimp piece with your free hand (which has slid back out of sight in the photo).

Like so............

Now you do the loop, which I did not get a picture of, but it's the same as we did on the other end and the same as in the manual. Again, I like to pull the loop tight,  but also again, be careful you don't slip and start breaking stuff. If it's all good and still tight, smash the crimp piece down to lock that part of the adjustment in. Apply some thin CA to the crimp like you did on the rear and it's almost done. Put a paper towel in the bottom of the fuselage just in case you spill any CA. From there, snip off any excess wire, remove the threaded end pieces from the swivel and use heat shrink on the end and crimp pieces.

Do the other side exactly the same way and you're almost home. Yes, I am well aware the rest of the radio installation looks like a rat's nest, but we'll clean that up later

You may notice that my connectors did not even need adjusting. I got the centering and tension
perfect just by pulling the cables tight. Like I say, they normally come out a little looser than you planned, and keeping the slack out to begin with made it perfect. After you do one or two of these you can expect the same kind of results. None of this is a mystery. You just need to do one or two to get used to it, and then it's easy as pie.

Now all  the hard stuff is all done now. All that is left is the final adjustment.

Odds are pretty good you have it almost perfect. You want the cables tight enough that there is no sag in them, and there is no slop in the rudder. On the other hand, you don't want to get the cables guitar string tight either. That will kill the centering. Just adjust the cables so there is no sag in them, and no tighter. Assuming the rudder and swivel adjusters move smoothly with no drag, the rudder should center perfectly. if not, you probably have it too tight.

Slide the forward threaded connectors in or out of the swivel connectors to get the rudder perfectly centered, then tighten them down.  Generally, you don't want the cables so loose that you can move the rudder, and you don't want them so tight that the rudder doesn't center properly. The best rule of thumb is to get them tight enough that they don't sag, and no more. If you get them guitar string tight the rudder will center poorly and eventually the servo will burn out. If you get them too loose the rudder can move when the servo doesn't and it will center poorly to boot, which is never good.

Another good rule of thumb is that if the rudder centers well, you are pretty close. Finally, as long as the rudder will repeatedly center, leave it alone!  If you get it right now, you may have to adjust (usually tightening) the cables once or twice over the lifetime of the aircraft, but outside of that, it's pretty maintenance free. A little patience in getting it right now pays the dividend of you not having to mess with it later.

Generally I try to take a little pride in my writing, but this procedure has been challenging to put into written word. I tried to explain this to a friend out of state over the phone and I did a poor job. Later he visited me and brought his new Demonstrator. It was finished except for the pull system, and I showed him how to do it in five minutes. Showing was a heck of a lot easier than explaining, and infinitely easier to understand, and I tried to keep that in mind when I wrote this. I hope you will find this clear and helpful.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

52" Slick 580 EXP___Hail To The Zonker!

Еще раз спасибо нашим друзьям в России, которые в этом месяце опережают американцев, посетив наш блог 566 раз в первые три дня апреля. Спасибо за вашу поддержку и, пожалуйста, расскажите об этом блоге своим


As much as I enjoyed my red/white/blue Slick 580 EXP, I still wanted a yellow one, simply because I am a little weird for yellow airplanes. Those seem to serve me really well as evidenced by my original Extra SHP, and later, my yellow 64" MXS EXP. That, and yellow is very easy to see.

Almost everything I wrote in previous article on this plane is the same, though there are a few little changes worth noting.
One thing that certainly has not changed since my red Slick is how well the plane flies. In fact, with a little familiarity, this one came off the bench a little more cleanly built and set up. She came off the bench requiring one click of up trim, and that was with my trim sensitivity turned all that way down, so that equates more into 1/4 of a click of trim!

I got pretty much what I was expecting based off my experience with my red Slick, though now with a little familiarity I am much, much more comfortable and in control of the plane. The red Slick was great from the beginning, but you always have that new plane fear going. Now that I have a second one, all that is left to do is enjoy them safe in the knowledge a crash won't put me out of the Slick game.

Again, and maybe even more so with the newest Slick, there is some sort of intangible I can't quite explain. The plane is very similar to an Extra, though it just feels incredible. Like the Extra, it goes and stays where you put it, except the Slick seems to do this with much more authority. This adds to the confidence I already had in the plane and from here it's just going to be a matter of learning the intricacies of the plane's behavior and working on things like snap timing.

The Slick's snap behavior is a little different from the Extras in that it seems to be a little more willing. For example, you need some momentum to wind the Extra up into a violent snap or tumble, but the slick is happy throwing the tail over the nose even at medium speeds. The Slick also seems to tumble a little more gracefully, but then again, that's always been a hallmark of the Slick.

As far as super high speed full deflection death tumbles, I don't think anything can touch the 48" MXS, but the Slick is still very respectable here and a little better than the Extra. This plane is so nice you probably won't want to abuse it like that anyway.

If you do, however, the Slick does a nice blender. I got my timing wrong on one blender and actually dove it at high speed into a full throttle KE spin with all the momentum behind it. For a few seconds it was whipping around so quickly I did not know which direction it was going! I will try to duplicate that on video once one of my Slicks starts to show some age. Right now I like them so much I am just treating them nicely and trying to preserve them a little, though they are certainly built well enough to take whatever you dish out on them.

Both the Extra and the Slick do sweet, straight, tight waterfalls, so there is nothing to separate them here.

Perhaps the original Slick's best attribute is it's harrier manners, and that's been brought forward into the Slick 580 EXP. You can see in the video I drag the Slick around pretty slowly, nose up, and on the deck in 15mph crosswinds, so clearly this was a design priority when the Slick first went into CAD.

While the original Slick was a bit draggy and not especially impressive on top speed, the Slick 580 is much different. The new slick is long and sleek, like a high speed pattern plane, and it can chew up the real estate pretty quickly. Speed is stability, so the Slick 580 now has improved precision manners to go along with it's huckability.

This plane does superb slow and point rolls, and I am sort of playing around with consecutive rolls using the rudder instead of the elevator. You will see a few in the video and they sort of look like rollers at flying speed. very different.

The Slick's KE manners are so good that I have total confidence flying it out of a stall on it's side. last year I had one of my other planes snap out on me like this, but admittedly I was asking for it and flying stupidly. Still, you would think that would be a lesson capable of dissuading me from trying it again, but like I say, the slick feels so good I am not afraid to do anything with it.

While my rollers are nothing to brag about, they look pretty ok with the Slick. The wing and stab are closer to the thrust line than they are on the original slicks, and this makes everything roll around the same axis and gives very axial behavior. Only the Yak seems to do this any better, but it's a slim margin. I'm very comfortable rollering this plane, and in fact, was instinctually doing them even before I really understood the plane well enough to try that sort of thing.

A plane that feels good can be very encouraging.

I know people expect a detailed analysis from me, but it's pretty straight forward with this plane. If the Extra does everything the way a plane is supposed to do it, the Slick does it just as well and some things better. As an Extra man this sort of pains me a little, but I could turn into a Slick man pretty quickly.

Don't get me wrong........ the Extra definitely still has it's place. It's just the Slick is rather similar and does some things better. The lines are just blurred a little more as we edge closer to having the plane that does everything perfectly. I need to fly them both a lot more to gain a better understanding of them. I'm not rushing it, though. This is a journey I plan to relish.

Nothing was really different from the first Slick except I went in with a very high degree of confidence. The first one came out perfect with a minimum of effort, so why not?

Something I feel needs to be illustrated again is just how revolutionary Extreme Flight's self jigging (self aligning) stabilizer installation is. This is normally the most critical part of the build, but the Big X has reduced the hardest part of this to simply not spilling a lot of glue on the plane. if you can avoid that, you are assured of a straight, clean build.

Determined to trust the new technology incorporated into the Slick's unique self aligning horizontal stabilizer, I jammed the stab all the way forward, did not measure it, and simply glued it. Now, it makes sense to check it since it only takes a few seconds, but again, I wanted to demonstrate how well the self aligning stab works. After the glue set up it measured absolutely dead on, so now that's two of them that came out perfectly with this system. This will give me the confidence to do them all this way and save myself the agony I used to put into tinkering with getting the stab straight.

I'm going to cheat a little and use photos from 52" Slick EXP__ The New Classic to illustrate how simple the stabilizer installation really is.

I explain the stab installation in detail in 52" Slick EXP__ The New Classic , but the short version is that the front center part of the stabilizer is flat. When you shove the stab all the way forward, that flat part butts up against the alignment formers, and a straight build is virtually assured! From there you simply run a bead of thin CA along the joint, wait for it to set up, then do the other side, wait for it to dry, then flip it over and repeat on the bottom side. It couldn't be any more simple or goof proof..
 For the new guys, this system simply eliminates a critical step that can screw them up. The plane goes together absolutely straight with a minimum of building skill or effort, so from that standpoint alone the Slick makes a good first 3D plane. There are other attributes as well, but this one is really going to help the inexperienced builders crank out a perfectly assembled airframe.

The rest of the build went pretty much like the first one, which you can read about in 52" Slick EXP__ The New Classic . With the new construction techniques and Xcessories, the builds have never been easier nor more fun than they are right now. It's hard to imagine how it can get any better, though my source deep within Extreme Flight has shared a few things with me, and it is indeed going to get very much better. Each new release will be better build and easier to assemble than the last.

Pilot X!
One really nice surprise is how well the small Pilot X fits the new Slick. I had a yellow/blue left over from my sadly departed and beloved 60" Yak, so I thought it was worth a try. The pilot was still mounted on the balsa plate I used in the Yak and it fit perfectly. This tells me that at least the cockpit of the Slick is as wide as a 60" Yak, and that's probably part of why it floats so well and flies so lightly. The fuselage is so large it creates a lot of lift, and that's how the Slick has closed the gap somewhat to the larger planes.

The small canopy of the slick simply demands a pilot, and this one surprisingly is the perfect size. he doesn't look too big or too small. it was almost like he was made for this plane and I am delighted with the look.

Just a few changes on this plane but nothing earth shattering. The second one of any build usually comes out cleaner and more well prepared because you have a better idea what you want from the plane and how to get it. That was also true on this plane.
I used the Xcessories 1.25 arms on my red Slick, but that was so much throw I had a little trouble being smooth with it. Since my radio only has a high and low rate, there is no mid rate for me to use. I either have high or low, and I set up my high rate so I can fly it for everything but precision work. This time I used the Hitec PN55709 set and maxed my travel adjustment (end points). This gives me about 37 degrees of aileron, which is fine for me. I can fly this smoothly, so this was a good adjustment.
If you have triple rates I suggest you use the Xcessories 1.25 arm with all the throw you can get for high rate, then turning the mid rate back to something a little less instense like say 33-38 degrees or so.
I played around with running the full 1.25 Xcessories arm on the elevators of my 52" Extras, but for the Slick I stayed with the G10 arm as specified in the manual. I figured I could always use the long arm and get more throw later, but I was really happy with the plane this way. The pitch authority does not come on with a horrendous bang like it does when running 88 degrees, but is more progressive and easier to modulate.  
The Slick snaps and tumbles just fine with the G10 arm and pitches about as hard as my planes with 88 degrees do. This has me rethinking my previous views on big elevator throws. I may be getting away from the big 88 degree deflection I have used in the past on my 48" planes as I look to fly more smoothly and in control. This seems to be a good start.

The Slick still does really solid wall maneuver's, so monster throws don't seem to be necessary. The Slick's precision manners sort of preclude me wanting to beat it hard and pitch it like crazy, and I am finding better ways to bleed off speed other than big throws. You just have to plan it all out a little better in advance, but that too makes for a smoother presentation.
An unexpected benefit from this is that even running the same elevator deflection on low rate as before, now the elevator operates much more smoothly and again, progressively on low rate as well, and the servo also seems to center more precisely.
Yes, I am cheating by using a photo from my red Slick, but the set up is the same. Extreme Flight was out of Xessories arms when I built my red, so again I used the short  Hitec PN55709 arm. With my end points at 140 I am nearly touching the elevator halves with the rudder, so you can't get much more throw than that.


Yeah, the Slicks have always been one of the darlings of the 3DXA world, but the EXP treatment with it's long and sleek lines really blinged this plane out. It's simply sexy and swoopy and a fine looking plane. KM's modernized traditional scheme (very well done yet again, Aron) works well with this plane and really accentuates it's unique lines. Maybe the best looking plane I have ever owned next to the 52" Extra EXP, and even then it's a close call between those two.

 New Propeller Partner
Thanks to Bob's Hobby Center for providing the Falcon Propellers we used on this project. Bob's Hobby Center is the US Distributor for Falcon Propellers and they have a huge inventory of Xoar propellers as well. Generally I can't tell a Xoar from a Falcon when I am flying them, and they look very similar too. With Bob's I have the choice of either brand, and they usually have every prop I need in stock. Bob's is about 2 hours up the road from me in Orlando. so I usually get my props the next day.

Falcon propellers have served me so well that I am going for consistency and switching to them completely.

There are probably going to be a few partner shakeups this year, though I hope to remain with Extreme Flight for the rest of my life. We have a lot of new things in the pipeline getting set up for the 2018 Doc Austin Retirement Tour. I'm hoping to hit a few events and keep doing what we've been doing, then settle down into old age with the soul mate and maybe fly RC just for grins. No matter how much I try to retire there are still going to be guys who need help, so you won't be completely rid of me until I really go home for the last time.



Sunday, March 12, 2017

52" Slick EXP Flight Report__Simply Superb

Еще раз спасибо моим друзьям в России, которые в очередной раз возглавить иностранный контингент в блоге хитов за этот месяц. Вы, ребята, рок! Yeshche raz spasibo moim druz'yam v Rossii, kotoryye v ocherednoy raz vozglavit' inostrannyy kontingent v bloge khitov za etot mesyats. Vy, rebyata, rok!

The wind conditions I experienced my first day out with Extreme Flight's superb new 52" Slick 580 EXP did not let up the next day, so we just had to shoot the next day and be a little more careful. I certainly didn't want to re-kit the plane before we had video and have to explain that to "The Boss." This happened once before on a project and he just laughed at me because I was so stressed out about it, but that didn't make me giddy to do that sort of thing again.
Of course, that was not as big of a worry as I thought it might be. Back at my home field on a beautiful (but windy) day with all my friends, one lap around the field was all it took for "The Red Mist" to set in and I was right back into my groove, even though my experience with this plane was two tentative warm up flights in bad conditions. My two previous flights the day before revealed there were no surprises, and I knew exactly what to expect from the plane. I had the confidence to fly it hard even in bad conditions.
But then again, that gets back to this plane being so ....  Simply Superb.
Click To enlarge On All Photos

That really is the only description that fits this plane, from the moment you open the box, through a seamless, almost effortless build, right through a calm, collected maiden flight in bad conditions with the only surprise being how good the airplane really is.

Normally it takes a few flight for me to completely mesh with a plane, but not this one. I knew what I had as soon as I checked the trims, which was zero. It was dead straight right out of the box, perhaps in part because of it's revolutionary self centering stabilizer. You can't get it wrong, and this showed up when I leveled the plane with no trim and it tracked like it was on a rail from one end of the field to the other.

That was the first day, but I have to admit I flew it a little feebly  because of the conditions and more importantly we had no camera guy on hand. You can't get crazy until you have a video or two stashed away, so accomplishing the mission on day one meant simply to get out alive.

Day one, however, was much more than that, though. I fell in love with the plane instantly, ran out the pack and sat down to think about what I wanted to change. Generally each new plane has a list of loathing points that you want to tweak out, be it a CG change, control deflection change or even a mix. This time though it was no trim and no changes., I could not think of anything I wanted to do the plane at all except maybe hit it with another coat of wax.

I scratched my head a bit and thought carefully, and this couldn't be right. How can the plane be perfect in every respect right out of the box? How could I mesh with it instantly and know instinctually how it was going to behave, almost as if it were anticipating my next move?

If course that would take a very special plane, one that is ....

Simply Superb
Click To enlarge On All Photos 
This morning the wind had laid down really nice, so I threw everything in the car and called my buddy Ken to meet me at SPARKS for a video shoot. Ken has been shooting video with me since the early 3DHS days and my first SHP, and he has always been a great friend.
Of course, once I got there the air was howling and it didn't look like a good day. Still, we were here for a shoot, and if there was any plane you could trust in these conditions, it would have to be simply superb.

Since I had not been to SPARKS in a few months, everyone stopped by to visit when I was putting the plane together. It was great to see everyone again, but in the process I plugged the left aileron servo in backwards, and then I forgot to check it! This showed up on take off with one aileron not working and slightly deflected, so I had to fly it in like this in ripping wind. No issue, though because the plane is solid, stable, forgiving and predictable. I instantly knew what I had done wrong, and the plane is so simply superb that I just held opposite aileron and flew it back in. I turned the plug around and finished the flight, and even with everyone wanting to see the Slick fly and watching breathlessly, no one picked up on what I had done wrong! Even in an emergency situation, the plane stayed composed and got me home so smoothly everyone was oblivious to how much trouble I had gotten myself into.

Suitably scared witless, I leaned enough to know how hard I could push in the conditions, and then we shot the first video. This was my third ever flight with the plane, and considering the lack of time and poor conditions, I think you can easily see how simply superb this plane truly is.

On the next flight I had one dicey moment when a big gust blew the plane overhead in a four point roll. I got into that area of disorientation that's 75 degrees above your head and, well,  lost orientation. I gave it the wrong direction rudder on the third point. I nearly got the hill, and a big groan from the gathered throng. After that I pulled my head out and flew a little more sensibly. 

The conditions improved a little for flight two, plus I was into my groove a little more. I was able to push a little harder and find what the plane likes, which is pretty much everything. We wrapped up the day because people were anxious to see the video, and that was it. Another successful mission.
Flying Specifics
Overall the Slick is stable and forgiving, but it's also micrometer precise in big sky maneuvers. The power system is perfectly matched to these 52" birds and doing large maneuvers is just easy. When you pull up into a big climb or loop. the plane doesn't lose any speed, so it's not going to fall off or torque over to one side. You don't have to correct the tracking with rudder, which gives the pilot one less thing to do. The less you do with this plane, the more it does for you and the better you look.
Tracking in knife edge (KE) maneuvers is most excellent. The plane just locks in and flies straight, so with point and slow rolls you simply get your rudder and elevator inputs timed right and the whole thing looks like it's on a string. The Slick slow rolls simply superbly, though in these videos I am giving the ground a little room. We'll get her on the deck first nice day out.
The Slick snaps superbly and is a little cleaner here than the Extra. The Slick seems to lose a little less "oomph" at the end of the snap, and maybe carries out a little more speed, but either way, it is easier to position your exit where you want it and fly it out where you want it, almost like you planned it that way! Snap timing is not really any different than the Extra, but the Slick seems to be just a little more willing to wrap itself up and throw the tail over the nose. It's just fun to tumble it, and even more fun to fly it out because it stays so firmly in control. You fly it in, wrap it up and it comes out the other side calm and composed, and it makes you look good.
KE spins are just effortless. Just jam the sticks in position from any sort of entry and after it thrashes about a little it just drops in automatically. If you are more careful and try to carry momentum into the spin from something like an outside snap or pop top, the Slick goes right in with zero fuss, almost like that's what it wanted to do anyway. Previously nothing rivaled the Edge for this, but the Slick makes it really close, if not even a little better.
While not on the videos, the first day I tried a full rudder and elevator spin with a little power and opposite ailerons. The slick just pivots around it's center, nearly flat and barely losing any altitude. The only other plane I have flow that does this as well is the 60" Laser, so clearly the slick is flying bigger than it really is.

Today was a poor day to be testing harrier manners but by now I was so confident with the plane I just went for it and the Slick responds very well to this. I could see by putting the Slick into the car that the rudder is taller than the Extra, which keeps it in cleaner air when you are in harrier. This allows you to carry the nose even higher and maintain rudder control, while the Slick does seem to be a little less prone to wing rock than the Extra when you fly it sloppily. If you are precise with either one they fly beautifully, but we aren't always precise and the Slick is probably a better bet for the new guys who want to work on their harrier skills.
I'm not one to brag about my pathetic harrier rolls, but with the slick they seem to be much easier and less threatening, especially on the deck. Maybe I am starting to get my stick stir down a little better, or more likely the Slick doesn't fall out nearly as badly as some other planes, and because of it's generous side area, floats better instead dropping. When you start working your rollers low, that first 1/4 roll to KE is terrifying because the plane is going slow and you just know your going to run out of ailerons and lift at the same time and simply cartwheel the thing to it's death. For whatever reason, after one or two harrier rolls that fear disappeared and I was happy doing rollers at least as low as on my best day. I was using less rudder and elevator, and even a little less power, so on a nice day I am sure I can do these slower and lower. In rollers, the Slick just feels good.
Another maneuver you won't see me bragging about much is hovers, but I didn't look real bad with the Slick. The rudder has so much authority you have less chance of getting behind and over controlling trying to bring it back. I'm not sure if it locks in better or it is just easier to keep there because of the authority, but also, here the Slick feels good.

In general, More than any plane I have flown yet, the Slick does everything the way it's supposed to do it. It responds to exactly what you are telling it to do. It goes where you point it and it stays where you point it.
The most overriding thing I can tell you about the slick is something I can't quite quantify. I am just confident in the extreme with this plane. I already know it's character, maybe because it matches my style so much, or maybe because it's just that damm good. Even when I got into trouble, it didn't really frighten me. I just calmly flew it out and only got scared when I had time to think about it later. While I am flying the plane, I tell the plane to go from A to B, and the plane goes from A to B with no fuss. It just flies right. It just flies superbly.
It's Simply Superb

Unfortunately my trunk is only 51.5" wide! Since I want a 74" Slick 580, I'm working on getting a bigger car!


Friday, March 10, 2017

52" Slick EXP__ The New Classic

It was a sad day for everyone when the original 3DHS 51" Slick sold out for the last time, the end of an era, really. Thousands of pilots were left without their favorite plane, and while there were plenty of other righteous 3DHS and Extreme Flight planes, for many there's nothing quite like a Slick. There were also Slicks in many different sizes, though the original remained the most convenient and affordable version. Overall the Slick developed an almost cult-like following (in a positive sense, that is), and plenty of other size Slicks remain in the lineup. With all this to consider, the market sorely needed a replacement for the 51". Now we have it in the Extreme Flight 52" Slick EXP.

Probably the worst thing you could ever say about a 51" Slick was that it was really too nice to be considered a disposable four foot class plane. I loved my Slicks, but I could never bring myself to treat them with the same disdain I applied to my other four foot planes. For years the 51" Slick was the 3D standard. It was a benchmark of excellence that has been sorely missed.

Now that almost a couple of years have past and the dust of the merger has settled a little, it was time to bring it back, only in a new and improved 52" form. The entire plane has been lightened, strengthened, stiffened, and just all-around made better than the previous Slick, which couldn't have been a easy job. Having been without a 51" Slick for a few years, I was pretty anxious to get started on this one. I saw the first pictures a few months ago and have been champing at the bit ever since.

Color Scheme
Again, 3DHS graphics artist KM has penned another winner. I can't say for sure what his thinking is, but to me it looks like he combined his own style of wild design with Extreme Flight's understated elegance and come up with a look that rivals the 52" Extra EXP for cutting edge, though traditional beauty. Both schemes are stunning, and I really can't decide which one I like best. As of this part of the writing, I don't know which one I am getting, and I don't care. Whichever one I don't get I will buy later! The top of the plane is a very sharp contrast to the checkerboard  bottom, which aids greatly with orientation. If you can see it better, you can fly it better.

Mostly, though, it's just breathtaking to look at.

The Kit
Those who have not built a 52" Extra EXP are going to be surprised by the level of quality and execution here. Previously the 60" EXPs had been a notch better on build quality, but now the four foot class airframes have been elevated to the same standard. The fit and finish is absolutely spot on and it's nice when everything slides together with a satisfying click. Since you don't have to tweak the parts to get them to fit perfectly, the build becomes less work and more fun.
This is what comes in the box:


While the covering on the 60"s has always been superb, the 52"s are now at that level. The factory has mastered the art of getting the covering down on the wood and tight better than ever, and the corners and seams are better sealed down. While I enjoy every aspect of the build process, not having to go back over the wrinkles and seams is something that helps the whole experience go a lot smoother. Again, since I built three of the 52" Extras, I was not surprised, but it's still not something I take for granted.

The big things you notice right away. The wings slide on first time with a satisfying click, the canopy seats perfectly and all the paint lines on the cowling lines up with the lines on the covering. The covering is tight with only a few loose seams around the corners that need a little touch up with the trim iron.

There are lots of new carbon fiber reinforcements on this plane. It goes from nose to tail in places like the motorbox, full length longerons, cowl mounting tabs, servo, mounts, anti rotation pin holes, and wing tube mountings. I mean, there's a lot of carbon fiber in this plane.

Carbon Reinforced Cowl Mounting Brakets

Pre-Cut Air Exhaust 
                    Carbon Reinforced Aileron, Elevator And Rudder Servo Mounts                          

Carbon Stringers and Balsa sheeted Fuselage 
Carbon Reinforced Wing Tube and Anti Rotation Pin mounts 

Paying attention to the smallest details pays off big in the finished product. The Slick features new Xcessories titanium colored cowl mounting and wing allen head bolts that match Xcessories servo mounting screws. The titanium color adds to the hi tech look of the whole package

Xcessories cowl mounting and wing bolts

Like on the 52" Extra, every hole you need in the covering is pre cut from the servo openings, wing tube hole, anti rotation pin holes and even the holes in the wing tip for the SFG bolts. It's all done which will save you about a half hour of tedious work that's in the way when you really want to just get on with the build. The servo mounting holes are already pre drilled, or maybe more correctly they are already laser cut. The hole for the switch is cut in a convenient location, but the covering was left intact for those who don't want to run one. Usually I like to do all this work myself because I could do a cleaner job myself, but not any more. The factory has raised the bar to the point I am happier with their work freeing me up to worry about things like getting the tail on straight and the hinges right.

Speaking of which, brand new for this plane is Extreme Flight's self jigging stabilizer. We will go into this a little deeper later in the article, but for now just know this takes a big chunk of stress out of the build and assures a good, straight assembly. The stab slides in straight and you don't even have to measure it.

Quality like this jumps right out at you, but when you dig deeper you find the thousands of other little things that add up to so much. Having less piddly things to worry about makes the build go much more smoothly. When you look through the whole plane you will discover little things like hooks on the formers to secure servo wires, and even the rear bottom corner of the canopy (where they are most often chipped or broken through mishandling or outright dropping)  is reinforced with G10 composite material.

Mostly I would have been happy if the Slick was manufactured to the same level of completeness we saw in the 52" Extras, but Extreme Flight has improved on even that. The addition of the self jigging stab is yet another step forward in both improving quality and assuring the plane goes together correctly. Hard to believe any kit could be even more complete with less work than the 52" Extra, but the proof is going to be in the build, which we will get to a little deeper into this article..

There is always great comfort working with things of familiarity and the hardware package is just that. These are the same quality items we have used for years in the 48" EXP series. They go together right, work perfectly, and none of these pieces has ever given me a problem. I never have to worry about any of these things coming apart when I am pushing the plane hard and on the deck. People ask me if I worry about breaking things on the plane when I fly them so hard, but that's never a worry,
simply because I have so much faith in the equipment and especially the hardware. I don't have to worry about important stuff falling off the plane, so I can zone in on flying the plane.

The pushrod assemblies are the same steel rod and ball links we have been using to great effect for years on the 48" planes, so one less thing to fret over here. The wheels and axles are the same that have proven themselves on the 48s and also the 52" Extra EXP.

Of course the hardware pack features the solid and reliable Extreme Flight tailwheel assembly, One previous area that required a little tinkering was the two piece tiller arm, but that's been replaced with a one piece machined and polished arm. I tested a few of the pre-production units and on one I smashed the crap out of the plane so badly that it ripped the entire assembly right out of the plane. The arm was twisted up like a pretzel, but I put it in a vice and hammered it back into shape. It's still on one of my planes somewhere. The only concern during assembly is to grind flat spots where the arm and wheel collars bolt to the tailwheel wire, and to be sure you get the wire centered over the hingeline. If you do those two simple steps the arm will work perfectly and never fail you.

The wheel pants are also the same ones that have proven so durable on the 48"s. You might think they would not look right on the slightly larger plane, but they still seem proportioned just right. This is nice for those of us who have a collection of spares from our 48"s.
Part of what made the 52" Extra build experience so satisfying was how well the new lineup of Extreme Flight Xcessories worked and how well they integrated themselves into the whole package. All of this stuff was made to work together, and as a result it all goes together pretty effortlessly.

The Socket Head Servo Screws make servo installation a snap because they fit snugly on an allen driver and you really only need to use one hand because they won't fall off. Their titanium color also looks really good. This is a seemingly insignificant thing, but it's just one small part of many that make a complete, high quality package.

 As noted earlier, The Slick came with Xcessories style titanium colored allen bolt for both the wing and cowling. Now everything on the plane matches, and it hi tech titanium color too. When you combine the titanium hardware with all the carbon in this plane, it sure looks like a modern spaceship. It's a very cool look.
I also like Extreme Flight Xcessories Twisted Servo Extensions. These are listed in the  appropriate length on the plane's web page and make for a really clean looking and professional installation. I used these on all my 52" Extras and really like them.

 Finally, Extreme Flight's excellent Xcessories Aluminum Servo Arms are listed on each plane's webpage in the appropriate size. These are anodized in the same beautiful red as the Xpwr motors, and are top of the line quality. Ball links bolt to these with the same 2mm hardware that comes in the kit, so all you need to buy are the arms themselves. They slip on easily, fit perfectly with no slop, and come off with a gentle tug. These arms solve all the problems we used to have with extended servo arms and the quality sets the whole package off very nicely.

While not part of the Xcessories lineup, it's still worth noting that Extreme Flight now carries the superb Radio South CA Hinges. I have been using these almost exclusively since the early eighties because they are absolutely the best you can get.

The whole lineup of Xcessories is so nice I plan to use everything that will fit on my planes. One nice side benefit is that with Extreme Flight's near one-stop shopping you can get everything in the same order, and most times it all fits in the kit box so you only pay shipping once.

You can also get the proper servos off the plane's order page, so if you already have a transmitter and receiver, you can get everything you need directly from Extreme Flight. About the only thing you can't get from Extreme Flight is your radio equipment, but I would not put it past them to be working on solving that.

Kit: Final Notes
In general, when you combine this level quality of kit and Xcessories, the entire build process goes so smoothly it's almost over before you are were ready for it to be. Part of this is offset by the kits being so damm nice to work with, and with this plane and my Extras, when finished I was a little disappointed there wasn't more to it. Since I enjoy building so much, I get around this by simply building more planes, but for those who want to get it over with and go flying, you will really enjoy these planes.

Power System
The new Xpwr 3910 motor signals a new dawn for the four foot aerobatic 3DXA class airframes. We first saw this motor in the new 52" Extra EXP, and it's been so good that Extreme Fight is building an entire new generation of airplanes around it.  The motor runs cool, even in the Florida summer heat, and has blistering grunt and speed. Acceleration is so intense and instant that you kind of have to readjust your flying style to make best use of it, Along with lift, power is your best friend, and it's so readily on tap with this motor that the plane simply responds. As with any kind of power, you have to wield it responsibly. We're not playing with toys any more.

It's still a bit early and we have only had two 3DXA airframes designed around this power system.
One flight on the 52" Extra EXP told me the revolution was well underway and we can expect Extreme Flight to provide us with many exciting new airframes in this size class. The Extra and Slick are just the beginning.

Propeller Choices
My own personal numbers on the motor is that it pulls 1068 watts at 73 amps with a Xoar or Falcon 14/8 prop, which is crazy power for this size and weight plane. I prefer the additional thrust of a 15/6 because it pulls a little less amperage, and with it's larger diameter blows more air over the control surfaces to provide better post stall control. I have not actually done an amp draw test on it yet, but I definitely get cooler motor and battery temps, plus some more run time. It taxes the whole system a little less, which is never a bad thing.

In the air the difference between the 14" and 15" props is as follows: The 14/7 or 14/8 provide blistering, almost unusable top end speed. People asked for stupid power on these 52" planes and they are not going to be disappointed. Flying off of smaller fields with tighter airspace restrictions, a slightly slower plane works better for me, which is where the 15/6 or 15/7 comes into their own. You give up a little speed that you don't really need and get big diameter vectored thrust, which means a bigger cone of air blowing over the control surfaces and better control in post stall 3D flight.

To shorten this up a little, if you want blistering speed, go with the 14", but if you want better 3D, the bigger prop wins. The plane is great either way and propeller selection is going to be a personal choice depending on how you want to fly the plane.

I have not tried any propellers in this size than Falcon and Xoar simply because we have seen non-
wood propellers larger than 13" simply come apart. You spend a little more money with wood, and they don't take a ground strike as well, but I think the peace of mind is worth it. Wood propellers also seem to run more smoothly and sound better.

Speed Controller
Coupled with Extreme Flight's venerable, but dead solid reliable Airboss 80 ESC, you get blood curling primal horsepower and the kind of surreal reliability we have come to expect and demand from Extreme Flight power systems.

On the speed controller front, the airboss 80 ESC has worked so well in my 52" Extras there was never a thought of using anything else. With this being a completely integrated package, the motor and ESC work together perfectly. Even on fully charged 70C packs there was never a hint of squeal or hesitation, and throttle response is smooth and linear. This is what I expected from the Airboss ESC and what I've become accustomed to with Torque motors. Xpwr certainly got everything absolutely right on this package.

Here I have the Airboss mounted on the bottom of the motorbox where it sits right in the cooling air flow from the Slick's chin mounted snorkel.

When I run a separate BEC, I  do not like to use the switch. The power from the radio will be coming from the separate BEC, so the switch doesn't work anyway. If anything, it gives you a false sense of security when you plug the battery in. I cut the switch off, shorten the wires, solder them together and use heat shrink over the joint. Then I stuff it under the clear covering on ESC. This gets the switch wires out of the way, but if I ever need to go back to using Airboss' on board BEC, I can just solder the switch back on.
Power Systems Savings
While we are all trying to save a few dollars, it's worth noting that you save about $45 when you order the Xpwr/Airboss power system with the kit. You'll find that on the plane's order page under "Choose Options." Here you can also order the servos, spinner, and right length servo arms and extensions. The only thing you will need to leave the page to order will be for the servo mounting screws, so it's hard to be more convenient than that.
 The Extra and Slick are enlarged just enough to be able to take advantage of the power and torque provided by the slightly larger and more powerful Hitec HS5087MH  servo. I have used the HS5087MH to great effect for years on the elevators of my 48" EXPs and they are smooth, powerful and center very well. Because they have performed so well over such an extended period of time, I have zero concerns about their reliability, and I already know about their performance.

This set up will be perfect for the most extreme abuse-the-equipment style of pilots, but there are other benefits that will work to the advantage of regular every day sport 3DXA pilots.
Motor Type:3 Pole Ferrite
Bearing Type:Top Ball Bearing Support
Speed (6.0V/7.4V):0.17 / 0.13 second
Torque oz./in. (6.0V/7.4V):50 / 60 oz-in
Torque kg./cm. (6.0V/7.4V):3.6 / 4.3 kg-cm
Size in Inches:1.14 x 0.51 x 1.18 in
Size in Millimeters:29 x 13 x 30 mm
Weight oz.:0.77 oz.
Weight g.:21.9 g.
For the slightly insane over-the-edge type of pilots who love to do repeated full throttle blenders, full throttle walls and parachutes, and tear-your-guts-out type of tumbling maneuvers, the high voltage performance of this set up is ideal because of their enhanced speed, torque and laser like centering.

The laser like centering will also come in extremely handy for precision or IMAC style of flying because a perfectly trimmed plane is always going to be more precise. This will also really help the regular every day sport 3DXA pilot because a servo that locks in and holds it's trim and centering  will make the plane go and stay where you put it. This reduces the workload on the pilot and makes him look good. We can all use a little more of that.

Thanks again to my friends at Hitec RCD for their support and helping make this project possible.
Separate BEC 
You will need to supply 7.4 to 8.2 volts to these servos, and for this I trust the Castle 10 Amp BEC, which is fully adjustable using the Castle Link Programmer. 

The Build
Most of the Slick build is almost identical to the 52" Extra, so if there is something you are looking for that isn't covered here, check 52" Extra EXP__Synergistic Integration. 

New and much appreciated for this build is Extreme Flight's self jigging horizontal stabilizer assembly. As you can see, the leading edge is notched out, so you simply insert the stab from the rear, jam it all the way forward and glue it! This eliminates a lot of potential to get the assembly wrong.

Here's  how the self jigging stab works: The leading edge is notched back at the center. As you can see, the LE of the notch is straight.

When you jam the stab forward it seats against the front of the wing saddle. which aligns it with the wing. This is simply ingenious engineering.


With this being a new feature I wanted to check the measurement myself, and it was dead on. I checked it a several times and took the stab out, reinstalled and checked it again. I did this about three or four times, and as long as I jammed the stab all the way forward it came out straight every time. This tells me I probably don't even need to measure the next one I build.

 From there it's a matter of running a bead of thin CA on the joint, giving it a few minutes to set up, then flipping it over and doing the bottom side.

Essentially, Extreme Fight has taken the hardest part of building a world class 3DXA machine and made it as simple and easy as making sure you get the stab shoved all the way forward.

Stabilizer installation was always the part I hated doing because the were so many opportunities to get it wrong. I've said many times that any time you mess up almost anything, you can disassemble it and try again, but not the stab and hinging. If you get the tail on crooked you have to live with it, but now the chance of that has been greatly reduced. This finally takes all of the stress out of the build because you can hardly get any of the rest wrong. The only other part I worry about is the hinging, but I have outlined my technique here: (scroll down to "hinging").

Once you get the tail in and everything hinged, the rest of the build is simple assembly and as I have said, if you get it wrong you just take it apart and do it again. This is why I like to do the tail and hinging first, when I am fresh and less likely to make a big mistake on the only crucial part of the process. With the stressful parts out of the way, I just slow way down and enjoy myself. Now this part of the build is no longer stressful because you just about can't get it wrong. I can't wait to tackle another one because, with the new construction techniques, it's going to be nothing but fun.

Set Up 
No surprises here because you don't change something that works so well. As always, the best bet is to set the mechanics up like the photos in the manual say, and to adjust your radio to match the throws and expos as spelled out in the manual. Of course, you will probably want to tweak it to your own personal preference, but at least for the first few flights use what's in the manual because Extreme flight put a lot of time and effort into getting this part right.

Once again, you got love the Xcessories arm. It just bolts on. Here, note which side of the control horn the ball link is mounted on. This will look wrong to sport pilots who are used to making the pushrod as straight as possible when centered. In 3DXA we use so much deflection that it's better the pushrod is straightest when fully deflected.

Extreme Flight specifies the use of the supplied G10 composite servo arm extension. Here I did something a little different and used the anodized aluminum arm that comes with the Hitec 7245HM servo. It's the same spline as the HS5087MH we are using in this plane. By itself it's a nice arm that fits beautifully, but by itself it is also useless for 3D flying because it is too short. However, it makes a beautiful place to mount the G10 composite arm. It fits the spline tight and since it is metal it probably won't get any looser, which assured a nice, tight, slop free connection.

I'm getting about 70 degrees of throw, which should be enough. I can always switch to the Xcessories 1.5 arm if I want to peg the control to 90 degrees.

For now I am using the short single arm that comes in the PN55709  pack, and it works quite well.  I may later switch to an Xcessories arm, but I ran out of them for this project. I'm still tinkering with it. it's actually almost perfect the way it is and I hate to change things that are working.

 Again, the arm may look like it is not parallel, but that's not how you want to set a 3D plane up. Since we run so much throw the arm is actually straight at full deflection. This set up gives you the best mechanical advantage.

Radio Installation
This is much the same as the 52" Extra. The receiver mounts on the cross brace behind the wing tube and the only tricky part is the antenna installation for Futaba users. I use clear plastic tubes, glue them where I want them, and insert the antenna when they are dry.

Especially useful are the hooks cut into the formers for securing the servo wires. This not only keeps them from slopping around inside the plane and potentially pulling out of the receiver, but it makes for a much cleaner looking installation.

Wow, Was this ever a nice project. I was pretty amazed with the 52" Extras and didn't think you could make a plane much nicer, but Extreme Flight has done it again. They have made a better airplane. The build was a joy and I already know it's going to fly incredibly well. Now we just need to get out there and do it.

I will get better glamor photos at the field and will publish those with the video flight report, which will hopefully be tomorrow.

Keep an eye on the blog in the next few days for a flight report. I have found that the first day is not very good for making a video representative of how well any plane flies. It's better to take the first day to dial the plane in and learn it's subtleties, then sleep on it, come out the next day, and deliver it a beatdown worthy of capturing.