Got Planes on the Brains

So I’ve been having a lot of fun flying my current set of planes, each one offers something the others don’t, so once I’m tired of flying the one, I swap my only receiver into another plane and fly that for a few days. A couple of weekends ago the weather was so nice I was able to take out the Brio, the 300S and the Stryker for a couple of flights each and had a blast. The Styker is great for just high-speed, high-flying, no-frills, no-worries flying. It’s also the best plane for those extra-windy days when my other planes are better off grounded. It’s definitely the loudest and fastest plane but also the least aerobatic. You can only do so many rolls, spins and loops before you start wanting to do knife edges and inverted harriers. It flies awesome since I got the new TP 2200 V2 battery pack. What a huge improvement over the 8-cell pack I was running as well as the old 8C 2100 PolyQuest pack I have. The motor and pack come down cool every time. I’m thinking about bumping up the prop from 6×4 to 6×5. People say the stock electronics and motor can handle it, just be a little conservative on the throttle. As it is, I never fly around at full throttle anyway, except for a few seconds. I think it’s the battery that limits the max prop with this plane, but with the 55A capability of the TP pack, it definitely is not the limiting factor. The fun thing about that plane is working on it – making it faster, making it better. I finally replaced the stock servos with a pair I pulled out of my old Losi Mini LST truck. I have no idea what the specs are but they are awesome, and work way better than the stock ones. Probably about the same speed but they have lots more torque and holding power. Anyway, so the Stryker is still fun to fly and is actually quite relaxing. I like taking it up about as high as I can still see it and then cut the throttle and just float all the way to ground seeing how long I can keep it up. It’s no 78″ wingspan glider, but manages to do pretty well. But when it gets close to the ground I just throw the throttle all the way and she whines back up into the sky.

I’ve probably been having the most fun with the Great Planes FlatOut Extra. That new KDA motor made a huge difference in performance. Running the 9×3.8 prop is perfect, it’s got plenty of power to pull out of almost any botched maneuver (of which I do a lot of). There’s definitely more coupling when doing knife edges, so much that I couldn’t even do them the first few times I flew it. The weight of the motor is so much higher and more up front than it was with the geared brushed motor. I kinda wish I had bought an inrunner BL instead, just for that. But with a little bit of elevator, I can maintain a pretty decent knife edge and then with some rudder I can pop the front up and get into a high-alpha flight and just hold it there while I go around in circles. It’s probably one of my favorite things to do. I’ve gotten a lot more confident with some maneuvers, like inverted harriers at only 6-8 feet off the ground (hey, that’s low for me). I did crash it the other day doing that though, but it didn’t do much damage, just cracked the foam fuse a bit near the wings. I glued it back together and she’s flying good as new. I like that I can fly the 300S without even leaving my backyard and it’s such a slow, floaty plane, that there isn’t a whole lot to worry about while flying it, probably because I don’t have a whole lot of money into it. And I’ve got a spare one in my garage just waiting to be built if (or, when) I total this one. But it’s just a relaxing plane to fly also and yet still poses a challenge to fly with all the tricks I like to think I can do. I think it’s time to get a simulator. I just can’t get that rolling harrier thing or a good solid hover to save my life. But still what a great return on investment, and just an overall great plane.

Lastly comes the Brio 10. This plane is about to become a hanger queen. I’ve got probably 30 or so flights on it and I am still not comfortable flying it. Either it’s just too much plane for me, or I simply cannot get over its bad tendency to snap on me at almost random times during flight. Every time I go out to fly I fully expect to bring it back in pieces. And almost have every time I’ve flown it. And it’s not for trying to do anything crazy at all. Quite the opposite, I don’t do anything crazy, I just fly it, nice and high and do some rolls, and snap rolls and whatever, because the second that plane starts the drop on me, and I give it some elevator up to pull out, it rolls, and drops, and rolls. The last time I flew it, it went into this dive roll that I nearly didn’t recover from. And the scary thing is that you feel completely out of control. The more you try and pull out, the worse it gets. I honestly don’t know how many more times I can risk throwing that thing in the air knowing full well that all it takes is one snap from too low and it will nose into the ground so hard that I might not salvage anything from the plane. And right now it’s my best-looking plane! Mostly because it’s the only one not made out of foam. I love the way it flies though, the way it handles and responds 90% of the time. It flies infinitely better than any of my other planes, but it’s also so unpredictable in that one regard. I should take it to a local flying field and get some expert advice on it. I don’t want to not fly it ever again, but man, the day it goes down will be a sad day indeed. This is definitely not my Sunday-afternoon-just-chill-out-and-fly plane. It’s more like my holy-crap-holy-crap-don’t-crash-don’t-crash-whoa-that-was-close plane. I did fly it again the the other day and really enjoyed it. It’s got the precision for sure and definitely keeps me on my toes.

Which brings me to the start of this blog, what’s next on the agenda for Dan? Right now I’ve got my eye on the E-Flite Tribute FX 3D. It’s got a vacuum-formed fuselage, so it’s intended to be the best of both worlds – light and floaty like a foamy, but rigid and precise like a balsa plane. It’s not too expensive either at about $65. All I would need to pick up is a motor, the rest of the parts I can steal from my other planes. Though I may buy a full set of HS-55’s anyway, swapping servos is much harder than swapping an ESC, a battery pack or a receiver. It looks like a really fun plane to fly and should be a step up from the FlatOut but not quite as much as the Brio. Also I should be able to fly it in my backyard instead of walking around the block to the undeveloped neighborhood nearby. I’d probably power it with a MicroDan 2510 “3D 970kv” BL motor that just about everyone who owns this plane just raves about how great it is. It’s a good-looking motor with some great specs and a price tag that makes it exactly the same cost as the plane itself. Which I think is fair. A $10 plane deserves ad $10 motor (i.e., FlatOut + UnitedHobby motor) and likewise a more expensive plane a more expensive motor. So we’ll see. I’ve been reading up about it over at RCGroups.com and though it’s not the most popular plane, those who have one love it. And it seems on par with my skill level. My birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, now to drop a hint or two to the wife – if only I could just get her to read this blog….

Now as far as my ultimate wish list, or possibly what I might be looking at for a 6th plane later this year, would definitely be something from either the 3DHobbyShop.com guys or the Ausie team Precision Aerobatics. They are about to release a 48″ wingspan 955g Extra 260 that looks absolutely amazing. By far the best-looking, most feature-packed plane I have seen from any of the major manufacturers. I know it’s too much plane for me, but it’s just soooo good looking. I want to get one just to hang in my garage, even if I can’t afford to buy all the parts to her up in the air right away. The pics I see of it, the more I think I must have it. I must fight off the initial impulse urge to buy (fortunately it’s not on sale, yet) so maybe in a couple of weeks I won’t be as excited about it, or if I can somehow satisfy that urge with the Tribute 3D (not likely) I may just make it with my wallet intact. It’s those stinking tax returns that will be hard to hang on to in the next month or two.

Anyway, that’s what I’m been thinking about lately. On another note, I need to post some pictures of the 15″ TC Sounds 1,000W subwoofer I’ve been building for Joe, a colleague from work. This thing is an absolute beast and is going to knock his socks off and his walls down. It’s funny how different building a 200 lb. subwoofer compares to building a super-light balsa wood plane. They are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. At least I know the sub can’t be destroyed in the blink of an eye from dumb-thumbing the controls. It’s more likely to stay in one piece throughout its life. Which is nice to know, since the time and money that goes into designing and building a sub far exceeds the time and money put into any plane I’ve ever built.

About Dan

For a complete biography, stop by www.danmarx.org and click around for a while.
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