Sunday, July 27, 2008

US Nationals 2008 - Thoughts

Well the 2008 US Nats are all over. I have not made it home, but am spending a week relaxing at my parents house. I quit my job before I left for the Nats and don't start the new one until the 5th of August so I decided to take a bit of time and spend it here.

This year the Nats was a big success for me, I accomplished many of the things that I set out to do this year, namely flying consistently, and making the finals. I have struggled in recent years with having consistently good flights, which was something I worked at this year. Although not all my flights were the best flights, they were all good flights. This is important at events like the US Nats where everything is very close.

There were a few new things at the Nats this year, being an off year most people are still flying gear from last season. Quique was flying his modified Euphoria which include a bunch of changes to the fin area and wing area. As well he has removed the quad servo setup from the wing and went with single 42 in-oz mini servos (don't remember the model) to drive both the lower and upper ailerons on each wing half. He said he cannot tell the difference between that and the quad servo setup, and it saved a huge amount of weight. He was also running the YS 170 on the CDI (capacitive discharge ignition) system, and I think a 19x11 prop (custom prop) at about 72-7400 rpm. This seemed to work well for him, his flying style was to fly in close with a slow but powerful style. I don't think this style would suit a monoplane very well, but the biplane presented nicely when flown like this. He unfortunately had a number of issues with what I think was the ignition system during the finals which cost him both his second F and unknown flights. He accepted his position at the Worlds as the current world champion so his 4th place finish did not affect him flying at the 2009 Worlds.

I was using a couple of new items as well, firstly being some new Thunder Power Prolite 2600 cells. These cells were used to make a 10s 2p 5200 mAh battery. These cells are 18C and the pack weighs approximately 1180 grams. I am not exactly sure when or if these will be available but they are very impressive cells, I was able to log some flight data on the cells, and during a normal P-09 flight the packs never drop below 35V, even after 8 minutes of airtime and 70A loads. The performance of the packs is higher than anything I have ever flown, and flight time is easily 9 minutes with excellent voltage remaining after the flight.

Also I was using the RASA folding 21x15 prop this year. I mount my motors to a firewall so I had a special hub made to allow me to run this prop without having my motor in the spinner. This setup provides much smoother power delivery than an APC, is approximately 2 dB quieter than a 21x14 and extremely quiet in flight. I think the folding prop has the advantage of absorbing flight loads by moving during the flight, this has the benefit of not reacting these loads into the airplane which reduced torque effects during corners etc. I notice a definite reduction in the torque reaction with this setup and am extremely pleased with it.

Some interesting news was that Jason Shulman was running the Plettenberg Xtra 30-10 Evo motor this year. I finally convinced him :) He is very happy with the motor, his feeling is that it is more powerful than the Hacker 14xl motor with about the same battery usage, and runs at the same temperature. The benefit is that there is no maintenance. I think its important to note that only Jason and I were the only two pilots in the finals to bring ONE airplane to the flight line. I think this shows the confidence we have in our equipment, the Plettenberg motor is nearly flawless.

The flying at this event was very high, Jason is a machine, I think he needs to get a job so the rest of us have a chance! Everyone in the finals flew great, and the talent pool is very deep. Its only going to get more difficult as the years go by.

Sorry I dont have any pictures, my good friend Dave Reaville is the man at taking pictures and keeping the daily blog going. Dave is absolutely superb at this, no one does it better IMO. Every spare second he has is dedicated to keeping the world informed, and I think we all owe Dave a big thanks for that.

His pictures are here,

If you have not seen his blog I have a link posted on the left to it.

A bit about my setup for those wondering,

Comp-ARF Integral - special "Chad" paint scheme
Plettenberg Xtra 30-10 Evo motor
Schulze 32.80KA controller
Futaba R6014 Rx
Futaba servos - BLS 451 on ailerons, BLS 351 on rudder, 9650's on elevators
Futaba 14MZ transmitter
RASA 21x15 folding prop, approx 6500 rpm @ 72A static, special hub for mounting
Thunder Power 10s 5200 (2600 Prolites, 2P)
Thunder Power 2s 900 Rx pack
Tech-Aero Regulator

All up weight was 4780 grams

Well thats enough for now, I have to thank all my sponsors those guys are a huge help all the time, no way to do it without their support. I also have to hugely thank Jason Shulman and Comp-ARF for their help in getting me the Integrals for the Nats, Jason is a super guy to deal with a great rep for Comp-ARF. The Integral is a fantastic airplane and I am very pleased with it.

Also thanks to the Canadian crew, Dave, Mark, Dez, Harry for their help at the practice field and "motivational" speeches during the contest, and also to my caller Nedim who does a great job and helps me out a bunch.

Last but not least my wife and son Agnes, and Matthew, for putting up with "dad" being gone flying all the time.