Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Covering the Xigris C2

I thought I would post a small how to on covering while I am working on my ZN Line Xigris C2. I will share how I make my covering schemes, which are usually somewhat complicated. It is a fairly straight forward process and nothing to be afraid of trying.

First thing is the template. I take some time and accurately draw my color scheme fullsize. I use AutoCAD but any program that allows you do draw to scale will work fine. With AutoCAD you can plot to a DWF file, and then open with another bit of free software called Autodesk Design Review. In Design Review you can then print your drawing as tiled images so you can get full size images on 8.5”x11” paper.


Next I use a spray contact adhesive to stick the plan to heavy paper for the templates.


Now we have to let this dry a little bit so the paper doesn’t peel off the heavy paper. Don’t forget to label your colors so you get the scheme right!

While that is drying we can do some preparation that needs to be done before we do the major covering job. For all my covering I use the tools in the picture, two covering irons one with a sock and one without. The one with the sock is set to about 125 degrees C, and the other is set as hot as I can get it. A small trim tool for tight places, a heat gun which I didn’t use at all for this job. Various cutting tools, rulers, weights etc.


I always do my covering after hinging, so I do my gap sealing and some other trim details before I do the major pieces.

To do the gap sealing you first take a piece of white and crease it in half down the length. Make sure you have plenty of extra to cover the entire gap.


Then push that piece into the gap, and use the trim seal tool to iron it neatly in place.


Then using a sharp blade, trim the excess to be flush with the surface of the part. As a note, I gap seal both top and bottom so my hinge lines are completely weather proof.


Next apply the trim to the inner face of the elevator.


Thats all the trim work that I need to do on the stab. I don’t bother too much with the very root, as its all covered up once mounted onto the fuselage.

By now the templates should be dry. So you can cut out the individual pieces. Notice that I did not cut out the small silver and blue sweeps on the bottom right. This is because this area is going to be all white, so I will first cut the white covering out with the template, then cut the sweeps from the white portion after.


Now trace the white profile onto the covering. Do both sides at once to save time.


Now I freehand cut with scissors the white parts out. Since they will be the first color on you must leave an allowance for the next colors to overlap. About 2mm or 1/8” is fine.


Now in order to properly locate the colors I make a second set of template trimmed to match the stab size.


I overlay that on the part, and make small pin holes to give me reference points to place the covering.


I then locate the white and yellow (yellow is cut the same way as white), as they are the two bottom colors of the scheme.


I use some masking tape around the tip to protect the bottom colors from having adhesive stuck to them. After you trim the tip colors off then you just pull this off. I find that sometimes, especially red and blue leave a lot of adhesive when they get trimmed away if you accidentally heated past where you will trim.


Then its time to cut the red. Since the red overlaps it needs an exact cut. Its best to use a piece of glass and a sharp blade to trace along the template. Its important that this cut is clean as you will see it on the finished product.


Now apply the red using some guides to help with the alignment.


Now you have to pull the covering around the tip. I use my hot iron to help with this. A lot of patience, and allowing the covering to stretch makes the tip come out wrinkle free.


No trim the red and yellow along the masking tape, and peel the tape off. Be careful not to cut too deep into the bottom covering. You should be left with a nice straight line. I did this one freehand.


Next I trim the LE covering. Using the edge of the glass and a sharp blade you can get a nice straight cut where you want.


Finished LE


Now I do the blue, this piece is small and hard to keep still. So I cut an oversized piece and peel off the backing. I spray a little water onto my glass, lay down the covering and squeegee out with a card all the water. This sticks the covering down and allows you to make accurate cuts without it moving around.


Now iron the blue in place using some guides to keep it aligned.


Next cut the silver on the glass, and aligned and iron down much the same as the blue. The silver is the final piece so every side needs to be accurate as you will see all of them.


Now it is time to cut the little sweeps out of our white template.


Using the techniques above, cut the sweeps on the glass and apply them to the stab.


Now we have to split the covering down the hinge line. To do that I first fold the hinge line to give the covering a bit of a crease.


Then with a sharp blade, I split the covering down the hinge line. I keep the surface folded a bit to help guide the blade down the line.


Now use the trim seal tool to seal down the leftover in the hinge line.

Voila, you now have a cool looking stab :)


This is a quick way to get a cool scheme. All told I can do two stabs like this in about 3 hours once I have the drawing made in AutoCAD. Usually doing the drawing takes as long as covering!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

The next generation

Our boy Matthew (4 years) got very lucky this Christmas and Santa brought him a SkyFly Max airplane. Maybe in a few years he will be beating up on the old man in FAI :)


If the weather cooperates we should know how it flies in a couple of days!

My wife also got lucky, and Santa supplied her with a GPS so that she could take up the hobby of Geocaching. This is where you use a GPS to locate hidden “caches”. Its quite a popular activity around the world. Here are her and Matthew getting their first one together.



Sunday, December 19, 2010

2010 Coming to an end

Well the clock is ticking down on 2010. I hope that everyone had a great year for flying, I know that I sure did.

I started off the year getting my first giant scale model ready to fly. This was a PAU 30% Sukhoi SU-26. Instead of going the traditional DA-50 type powerplant, I decided to give a bigger electric model a try. This has been a fun model to fly at various events. Performance is outstanding, I think able to outperform a similar size gas setup. The only issue is the flight time, which is around 5-6 minutes depending on the style of flight.


I did have one issue with the setup though. I was using the Schulze 40.160-xl controller for the model, and at near full power it would lose synchronization with the motor and shutdown. I was able to work around this by reducing the ATV (as I am running fixed ATV) thereby reducing the top end power a bit. As I had no lack of performance (around 5500W), this was not a concern.

I did however involve Schulze with this problem, as not everyone wants to fiddle around to make things work, this is one of the reasons for using high end equipment. A short video of the problem and the ability to data log the performance with the new controllers helped to explain the issue. A couple of revisions to the firmware were provided by Schulze, and voila, the problem was resolved. I can now run the motor to absolute full power and rapid application of throttle without an issue.

It was not long and F3A airplanes were brought out of winter hibernation. I continued to fly the same Xigris that I flew during the 2009 season. As this is a very good model there was no reason to make any significant changes to it. As I needed some new canalizers to replace the ones I lost in Portugal I spent some time to develop a little different size and shape than in the past. The new size worked perfectly for me all summer long. Maybe this particular size and shape will be available sometime in the future? :-)


Nedim and I drove down to Wenatchee, WA for the first contest of the year in May. Normally we would head out to Vancouver, but as their field had been closed that contest was put off for a year. Wenatchee turned out to be a fantastic field, and we had a great time at that event. I am not certain time will allow me to attend in 2011, but I definitely plan to go back in the future.


I spent the next 6 weeks preparing for what I considered the most important event of the season, the US National Championships. Well Nedim and I made the long trip (2 days!) to Muncie. We met up with many old friends and also made some new ones. No matter how the results turn out meeting the people is one of the best parts. As this was the team selection for the US team, everyone who was there was there to win. In a big surprise (at least to me), Quique chose to not continue (for now) in F3A. I missed seeing him this year, and hopefully at some point in the future he will decide to make a return.

Overall I think I had my strongest performance of any US Nats. In previous years I have been on the bubble and struggling to make the finals. This year I finished the preliminaries in 4th place, and the semi-finals in 5th place making it a fairly strong entry to the finals. However, in the end I finished 7th (for the third time). My first round of F was quite strong, but I was up first (which is never good) and the visibility was poor due to the haze. The first round of unknown I fell victim to my own stupidity and flew half of a 3/4 roll as a 3 of 4 point....DUH! It didn’t cost me a zero, but serious downgrades and threw the rest of the flight off a bit.


After the Nats, we had two local contests one in Edmonton and our Canadian Nats. I won both of those events, even though I really didn’t fly after the US Nats because I was exhausted!

In that same time my wife and I bought a small RV to haul around to contests. With the kids starting to come along, this makes is much more tolerable to spend long hours at the field...as they have a place to sleep and a bathroom!


Shortly after we got the RV, we took a long trip out to Victoria BC for the Canadian team selection. We spent just under a week in Victoria and had a great time camping at the field with the local pilots, Dave, Mark and Hartley. I think the biggest news was that Mark Byrne came out and flew his butt off and beat out Dez Vaghy. I certainly was not expecting that and was happy that Mark was able to secure his first team spot. Dave Reaville who was on the team in 2007 also flew very well for the whole event, I think he missed making the team by only 6 points.


I had not flown much at all since the US Nats even at this point, and I think it showed. While I didn’t fly poor, I certainly was not up to pace with my best performances. At the end of the contest, I had won with Mark in second and Dez in third. This will be the team for the 2011 Worlds. This will be my 6th time to the Worlds, and I am going to be working hard to meet my goal of being in the finals.

My last event for the year was in Medellin Colombia! This was an absolutely fantastic event, and really exceeded all my expectations. It took me a few days to adjusted to flying again. Unfortunately we are not able to practice much in the month of October, so again I had to improve on the fly so to speak :) I think I started a little slow, but was able to put in some very solid rounds against the other pilots.


I was able to spend a lot of time with the local pilots from surrounding countries and hopefully helped them to better setup their airplanes and improve their own flying. There is a lot of talented pilots in South America, and its only a matter of time before they are pushing for the top positions in the Worlds. I really have to extend a huge thanks to all the pilots down there, especially Pablo Kuri and Eduardo for making that trip possible for me. Was one of the best times I have had at a contest. I made some new friends that hopefully I can see again in the future!

That was it for the flying, but things never end. Right now I am currently working on finishing up and test flying a Xigris C2. I have had this plane for a while, and should have flown it a long time ago, however with all the activity in life that did not happen. My goal is to get at least a couple of evaluation flights on this winter.

Also on the go is a Composite ARF Spark EDF jet. This is a plane I got used, but have done major work to in order to ensure that it is ready for serious speed. In a past life I did a bit of pylon racing, so some speed is still in the blood. It is equipped with a Schubeler DS-75 fan, Plettenberg Dinator 70/2, and 12S 5000 45C Thunder Power batteries. This setup is not just any DS-75, but a reinforced DS-75 so that it will be able to handle the 6000W that I plan to send to it :) I am hoping to be able to hit around 350-370 kph with it, which should make it one of, if not the fastest EDF in this part of Canada.

Oh and there is a bunch of indoor F3P stuff as well, but I will save that for the new year!

Behind any successful season are a lot of people that I need to thank, without their help I couldn’t do this

Agnes, Matthew and Thomas (wife and kids) for not killing me
Nedim Bek - for his non-stop dedication to coaching me
Jean-Pierre Zardini @ ZN Line
Frank Noll @ Futaba/Hobbico
Diana and Uwe Plettenberg - Plettenberg
Matthias Schulze and Ulf Herder - Schulze
Jason Merkle @ Thunder Power RC
Bob Obenberger @ Tru-Turn Spinners
Bartek @ Revoc Custom bags
Mark & Robyn Byrne @ CRC Products
Jack Price @ Duralite
Jon Harwood @ HCC Custom Composites

See you all in 2011!