Summer 2011 Issue
Prop Spinner Rumblings
Bob 'Commodore' Wilson
Some members have asked!!
"A couple of newbies in our club brought up the idea that we should have more information in our Web Site that will help them have a better day at the flying field. Perhaps some of you will benefit from what I am about to say. Our models crash for a ton of reasons. Fuel powered models have their own set of problems and electrics have their distinct set of problems but each have a few common threads that I will attempt to join into useful information.
I have on occasion, been unable to start my gas engine in airplane. In one instance, I had reason to remove the canopy and discovered, to my embarrassment, that I had failed to connect the battery to the ignition system. Dumb, in fact very dumb. When I was flying full scale aircraft, we usually used a "check list" which was a list of things that needed to be done before take off or before landing. It was usually a plastic covered sheet of paper and called for such things as lowering the landing gear before landing. Now this might, on the surface, seem like a reasonable thing to remember to do but aviation history is filled with stories of pilots forgetting to lower the landing gear. The pilot might have to deal with turbulence, weather, lots of traffic in the pattern and all this can lead to distraction. In some cases, I flew less sophiticated aircraft where there were only a couple of things to be done and if I had flown the aircraft a lot, I had the procedures memorized anyway. Even when flying a fixed gear aircraft, I always pretended to lower the landing gear so that it became fixed in my brain, such as it is.
Much of this information can be applied to model aircraft as well. Generally, I've never heard of anyone using a "check list" but by golly it might not be a bad idea, however I doubt if anyone will ever use one. Actually, a check list begins when you first start putting the aircraft together. It is, however, a mental check list and much of it comes from things you have learned, often the hard way but mostly from reading and picking up information from one or more of your fellow flyers. It's the little things that are so important and for instance how many of you remember to round off the ends of the brass tubing on your fuel tank in order to prevent the sharp edges of the tubing from cutting into the fuel line?
How many of you put padding around the fuel tank so that vibration won't cause the fuel to foam up and cause the engine to run lean?
Did you install a heavy duty RX switch or are you still depending on that Mickey Mouse switch that came with your radio and is about ready to fail? If you are using NiCd's, have you recycled them lately? If you use NICd's throw it away if it reads below 80% of capacity when you cycle it. When was the last time you did a range check to make certain the TX is putting out a signal? Have you located the sweet spot on your 2 stroke engine? This is, by the way, where you find the peak RPM and then richen the mixture enough to lose about 200 rpm. When the engine unloads in the air, it will re-gain that RPM as it unloads and won't be prone to leaning out and quitting in mid air.
I rarely get even slightly nervous when testing a new aircraft because I have usually done everything right before I even get to the field with a new ship. (Some smart alec may ask why then, did I forget to bring the TX but I won't go into that now) Are your controls moving in the right direction? I once did a control check, but mentally I did them backwards, and crashed on take off. If you have a computer radio, make sure you call up the correct model.
Taking off requires a mind set different than getting into your car and turning on the ignition. While taxiing to the runway, one must study the entire spectrum of the airplane and noting such things as putting the rate switches into low rate, listening to the engine, double checking control movement, checking for wind conditions, taking a deep breath and preparing one's self for any un-expected thing that may come up. You may note that I pause for a few moments before beginning my take off run and this is to gather my wits together and again checking to make sure I have forgotten nothing. From then on, my entire focus is on the take off.
Above all, I don't let the airplane control itself, I control the airplane, from take off to landing.
I can't really go into the electric stuff but there are some things I have witnessed that can be brought to light. Most often, I have noticed cold solder joints. If a solder joint is dull looking, do it over and do it until it has a shiny finish to it. Cold solder joints are caused by a number of factors but foremost is moving the solder joint before it is completely hard. Or, using too small a soldering iron is also common. Anything less than a shiny solder joint causes resistance and may fail.
Although I have been flying RC since 1959 (but I'm only 39?) I read everything that I can get my hands on when it comes to flying RC. In fact, I read AMA's Model Aviation magazine cover to cover and often read about rubber powered models and even about the film covered models. Why? Well, I've never failed to learn something new, some little trick that the control line modelers have passed on in an article, or some little trick that the rubber modelers use. All I know is what I have read in the magazines.
The most valuable pointer I can give the Newbie is to read, read everything you can get your hands on and read not just about the stuff you are doing right now, but read about the other interest groups of aviation modeling. By all means, read the articles written about the new ARF's coming out and read the pilot report and how the model was put together and what problems they may have had in assembly. Read enough and you will soon find that you have a very good data base and will become successful at the sport of flying RC. But remember that successful flying depends on when you first open that box with the new model in it.
See you at the field!!
Macon Aero Modelers, Inc.
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