South Coast Sailplanes
They do say that virtue is it's own reward, but sometimes a more tangible reward for doing some good comes your way. This recently happened to me.
A flying buddy of mine was in Sri Lanka soon after the Tsunami. He was particularly struck by the devastation done to the schools, over 200 of which were destroyed or damaged. He decided to raise funds especially for this, bypassing the Governments and Charities who have "Administrative overheads", "business costs" and "Commissions" by sending supplies and money to friends who live there. I thought that this was particularly important, as without schools, a whole generation is condemned to poverty because they do not have the education to get decent jobs. I decided to help.
Our club "Bring and Buy" was being held later that week, so I phoned the Chairman and got permission to hold an auction, then went on the scrounge round local model shops and DIY stores.
At the venue, I arranged all the goods on two tables. The lads from South Coast Sailplanes were there, and they donated a model. I ended up buying it as no-one else bid against me! I only bid to get it going!
The result was that I acquired a Mini Tornado, an epp delta wing with a 280 motor. The model is supplied with the motor, mount and 3:1 gearbox, Graupner 8x6prop, epp elevons and wingtips, pushrods and elevon linkage.
Wingspan is 930mm, Wing area 26sq.dm. Weight 300-350g
The construction is very simple, with reasonably clear instructions and diagrams, (although the translation is a bit dodgy in places!).
The interesting variation in the construction is that when joining the wings, you put them upside down and weight the trailing edge flat to the bench. This gives a built in anhedral.
The equipment I chose was as follows:
Jeti 8amp ESC
Futaba R114F Rx
2x Hitec HS55 servos
Smartech 8.4v 700mah battery
I made a few minor modifications to the design. I found the recommended method of putting a bend in the piano wire pushrods only succeeded in flexing the wire, so I eliminated the bend and fitted a conventional screw on link. I had to increase the size of the hole on the elevon fitting, this was accomplished by heating a wire with my lighter and pushing it through the hole.
The other modification was caused by my deciding not to wait for a special order battery costing £26 to arrive. The design calls for a flatpack, but for under a tenner, I bought a 4+3 piggy back pack. I modified the battery slot by deepening the centre, and instead of a flat cover, I used a piece of Corex from which I removed part of the bottom layer. I used a piece of Velcro to secure the battery in place, put Velcro on the ends of the cover and hinged it with tape. The result protrudes slightly, but is secure. It will come out with a heavy landing or crash, but is secure in loops and rolls.
The first flight occurred on a day that had a little more breeze than I would have preferred, but the model flew amazingly well straight away. It was quite tricky in turbulence from the nearby houses, but was otherwise faultless. A little tinkering increased the throw of the elevons, and it was a joy to fly! The stall is almost non-existent unless deliberately provoked. Loops and rolls were easy, the roll rate is a little slow, but it does go round smoothly. The rate of climb is excellent, and inverted flight is easy - it is the first model I have been able to do this with for any length of time! It will climb inverted, and is very steerable. This brought to light a minor problem - as the model is uncovered, it breaks when you put up in when inverted at about twenty feet at full throttle! However, I glued it back together and put in a pine reinforcing spar, taped the centre and it is as good as new! I have since learned to perform bunts and can do a passable hammerhead, not easy with a pusher with no rudder!
Flight duration is a little over 10 minutes at full throttle, and very much longer if there is any lift at all! Conditions today were ideal, a light breeze on the slope, insufficient for my slope models, but ideal for electric gliding. I flew until forced to land by darkness, my last flight being an hour and a half!
I am primarily interested in slope soaring, but my interest in electric flight has been rekindled by this excellent little model. I already have the larger version slope soarer, which I am very pleased with. I would also be interested in a larger powered model from the same designers, and there are several available at very reasonable prices.
Would I recommend this model to a friend? I don't have to! 3 of my friends have flown it, and two of them have bought them! The other is thinking about it.
Bad day at work? This would be the perfect model to keep in the car for a quick flight at lunchtime or after work. Throw it around the sky pretending your Boss is a passenger, you'll soon be grinning from ear to ear! It is fun to fly, easy to build, and reasonably aerobatic, will fly in surprisingly strong winds and is easily fixed if it is damaged. In turbulence it is challenging to even the most experienced flyer, the light weight keeps you on your toes, but it is possible for someone like myself with less than a year of experience. In light winds it is very well mannered, an ideal model for training. Over the last few days, this little model has brought me a great deal of pleasure. And the price is, at £30, a gift!
PS I have now been flying this model for several weeks, and it remains a delight. It will fly when very few models of this type will fly in quite strong breezes, and is really terrific fun in any conditions. One of my mates has built his with an 8 cell 800 mah battery and a full range receiver, he gets nearly a half hour flight times and astonishing altitude. One of the manouvres I most enjoy is to put the nose down for a little speed, then climb vertically, trying to balance her for as long as possible until the nose drops and she goes down vertically in a roll, looks spectacular from the ground!