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Thread: Hershel Toomin


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    Hershel Toomin

    Many here probably remember the Space Control, the worlds first commercially produced 4 channel full house proportional radio control system of 1959. This was the brainchild of Hershel Toomin who did all the pioneering work and ground breaking development on the Space Control at a time when nobody had even developed anything comparable in the hobby field.

    Hershel passed away 2 years ago, and is more well remembered for his pioneering work in bio-feedback.

    At the time that the Space Control was introduced, Hershel was a partner in an electronics firm in Van Nuys then known as Electrosolids Corp. They made DC to DC switching power supplies and other solid state components for missiles and government contracts. Along with those products, they also had decided to produce novelty solid state electronic consumer items such as a Space Phone walkie talkies, the Ranger horn bull horn, the Son-O Bouy fish attracting bobber, Ellie Echo the talking doll, the Treasure Finder metal detector, and the Space Control proportional radio system under the Solidtronics name, which was a take-off on the parent company's name. All were very innovative products for their time and years ahead of the competition, which was typical of everything Hershel did.

    If it were not for Hershel, R/C proportional radios would have been at least 5 more years in the making. Once everyone saw what was possible with the Space Control, the imitations and spin offs quickly followed, but it took Hershel to break the ice initially. Due to that the R/C community owes a lot to Hersh....he set the stage for all that followed and often, people associate names like Bonner, Digicon, Sampey, F&M, Orbit and Kraft with the early proportional radios as they were more successful, but they were followers, not leaders. Hershel was the guy that caught everyone by surprise back in 1959, and he truly was the granddaddy of full house proportional.

    Happy Holidays,

    Jay
    Last edited by jaymen; 12-19-2013 at 05:25 PM.
    Did you charge the transitory remitter batteries ?
    ( Big John Eliot quote. )

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    Jay,

    You may recall that I introduced you to Dan Garrabrandt, who worked as a technician at Electrosolids on many of the products that you mentioned. Dan and I worked together for NASA in the 1960's and 1970's. Dan held Hershel in very high esteem, and many times opined that Hershel was the smartest person he ever knew.

    Dick Fischer
    Last edited by otrcman; 12-19-2013 at 07:27 PM. Reason: incomplete post

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    Hershel Toomin was one of the unsung heroes in the field of model radio control

    Alan

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    Well, Toomin may have been a pioneer and all round genius, but I first bought a Space Control when I saw it demonstrated by Zel Richie at the DCRC Symposium. It was 695 bucks in yesterday's dollars and I emptied my hobby piggy bank to buy it. It promptly crashed the first plane I put it in. I sent it back and after months of waiting and calling and begging and always being told both of these "gentlemen" were always "in a meeting", I finally got it back. It crashed my next plane I built for it also. Back to the factory and the same long, long wait and never able to speak to anyone but the phone operator..after it tore up about five planes and never getting satisfactory repair from the factory, I sold it for little or nothing. It never flew a complete flight without failing and tearing up a plane.....so much for Toomin and Ritchie...both bums, in my opinion....
    I went back to reeds and finally bought the Bonner System which never, ever failed...
    Frank Schwartz AMA123
    Building and flying for 78 years (I am 88) and still doing it.....now with 2.4ghz..how far we have come!!!
    Frank Schwartz

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    Yep, and Frank Schwartz and Bill Carrol were two of the best Reed pilots around.

    Bill Hurt AMA 4720
    Its easy, just glue all the pieces together, and sand off everything that doesnt look like an airplane.

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    Hi, there, Bill...thanks for the compliment....glad you are still out there....
    I suppose you didn't know that Billy Carroll passed away last year. He was a real fine fellow and he is missed.
    Frank
    Frank Schwartz

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Schwartz View Post
    Well, Toomin may have been a pioneer and all round genius, but I first bought a Space Control when I saw it demonstrated by Zel Richie at the DCRC Symposium. It was 695 bucks in yesterday's dollars and I emptied my hobby piggy bank to buy it. It promptly crashed the first plane I put it in. I sent it back and after months of waiting and calling and begging and always being told both of these "gentlemen" were always "in a meeting", I finally got it back. It crashed my next plane I built for it also. Back to the factory and the same long, long wait and never able to speak to anyone but the phone operator..after it tore up about five planes and never getting satisfactory repair from the factory, I sold it for little or nothing. It never flew a complete flight without failing and tearing up a plane.....so much for Toomin and Ritchie...both bums, in my opinion....
    I went back to reeds and finally bought the Bonner System which never, ever failed...
    Frank Schwartz AMA123
    Building and flying for 78 years (I am 88) and still doing it.....now with 2.4ghz..how far we have come!!!
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Frank,
    I know you personally and I met Zel Ritchie once and I think you are pretty harsh calling him a bum. As you know I was in the business of building model radios for 16 years and I am sure somebody had the same experience with my radio as you had with Space Control. I can assure you one of the hardest things to do in the radio business was face someone who had lost a prized model due to radio failure. Every now and then a potential customer would state " I want to buy a radio that will never fail" My answer, "Our government can't even guarantee that after spending millions on the space program."


    Frankly I wouldn't want to be in the model radio business today in light of the cost and work in some of todays models.
    SidGates
    Web: http://www.sidgates.us

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    Sid....yes, I remember you most pleasantly, and am glad to see you are still active. I built and used some of your stuff and never, ever had a complaint...and if I had a question, I could call and always speak to you or someone who could help me....However, on the contrary...in the almost three years I struggled with the Space Control, and countless phone calls to them, I was never, ever, exteneded the courtesy of being able to speak to Toomin or Ritchie, as they were always "in a meeting"..it almost became a joke...I always had to tell the lady phone operator who, supposedly, would give my message to one of these demi-gods. This was a time when most of the R/C business was with small companies and you always could get a personal response.
    I remember Phil Kraft, when he first started. I wrote him about a technical matter, and got a long letter back from him. One of the nicest and most friendly letters I ever received from anyone in the industry. I lost it over the years, sadly. My main complaint with Toomin and Ritchie was that they took my money, gave me an inferior product that never worked, took months to get it back each time it carashed, and was not ever shown the decency of being allowed to speak to anyone at Space Control other than the phone operator. So, based on how they treated me...yes, both are and were bums.....
    Frank Schwartz

  9. #9
    I spent many days out at Sepulveda Basin watching him, we were probably around 12 years old my buddies and me, he would take the time to chat with us about his system, and we of-course would try to pretend we could understand him, he flew a Red meteor, had a fiber glass fues that could just hold the radio end to end, I still think about that system, it was beautiful to us as we struggled with our single channel stuff, those were the days long summers spent in the grass try to get a Mccoy .19 to start, then chasing the airplane sometimes a mile away.....

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    It is not surprising to hear someone had a problem with the Space Control, it is inevitable that will happen. I worked in customer service for Cox, Airtronics, Futaba, Tekin, and other electronics companies and I can honestly say there are problematic electronics, and problematic end users. Put more simply, some people seem to never have a problem, while with others they never seem to be satisfied, and there is no pleasing them. I have had real tough customers complain bitterly and I would replace their entire system only to have them say it did not fix their problem. At the end of the day, after replacing everything, sometimes more than once, the only common ingredient left in the equation is the user. Of course, the owner/user will never come to this obvious conclusion as that would mean having to re-think their position and they may have to actually find out what it is they did wrong, but they have convinced themselves otherwise so it's a mute point. It is especially obvious when you give someone else the system that customer was convinced was faulty, but you could find no problem with, and the other flyer has no problems with it. Some people just are not willing to accept they may be part of the problem, and/or they are doing something they are not telling you about that is causing the problem. Often, they have no idea what they have done is the source of trouble, which makes it even more difficult to resolve. Of course, the dissatisfied customer then goes and buys Brand X and says that it worked fine, so of course they surmise your product was to blame. The good thing about that is that now the problematic customer becomes your competitions nightmare and leaves you alone!!! And I will say that PIA customers that raise hell with customer service often do not get their calls returned once it becomes apparent they are argumentative, or never going to be satisfied. We were told if you cannot make them happy, leave them alone.

    Most all of the radios I have I did not buy, they were "dog" radios customers said were defective and had problems, crashed planes, glitched, intermittent, or just plain did not work. We replaced them, and I kept their radios and have flown them for years. I also gave away many of these "dog" radios to fellow flyers and they had great success with them. What does that tell you?
    Did you charge the transitory remitter batteries ?
    ( Big John Eliot quote. )

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    Having been in the model radio business for 16 years I too had experience with customers who never had anything work right for them. I learned one lesson, don't ever tell a customer something is " not possible"

    One customer phoned to report he had a servos reverse directional response in the air. I told him it wasn't possible. He sent the radio in and we found the servo motor manufacturer had changed the way they anchored the magnets in the motor case and the magnet were coming loose and spinning around 180 degees in the air.

    A local modeler reported had was loosing elevator control while flying. We checked the radio and did not find anything wrong. He got it back and still had the same problem. I went to the field with him and was holding the model while he started it. When he ran it up to full throttle the fuselage vibrated so hard it hurt my arm to hold on to it and the elevator did quit working even on the ground. Easy fix, balance the prop.

    A local modeler bought a Proline radio because he thought it was the best made. After it destroyed the 5th airplane all shortly after takeoff he ask me about buying a Royal. I had wanted to test the Proline receiver circuit so we worked out a deal to trade. The receiver never failed during my eval tests. We used the transmitter for a signal source on our repair bench. One day about 5 yrs later one of my Tech's reported to me he found the problem with the Proline Tx when it went dead on the bench.The short piece of hook up wire that ran from the antenna to the Tx PCB was never soldered in the board. The solder joint looked perfect on the clad side but the wire had never tinned but was sticking the proper hole in the PCB. Apparently when the Tx antenna was extended and the flyer changed positions while flying the connection would break and another crash.

    More than once I had a potential customer say "I want to buy a radio that never fails", my answer was I can't guarantee that.

    Sid Gates
    SidGates
    Web: http://www.sidgates.us

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    All well and good and I know what the problems with customer service are as I was in the electronics business. However, the Space Control never gave me a complete flight and tore up numerous planes...I was flying pattern with reeds and home made receivers so I was not a "Novice" the six month plus service and the fact that I was never allowed to speak to anyone other than the telephone operator was my complaint....rotten long, long long service and it never worked. It never worked for the fellow I practically gave the unit to....Space Control= Slow to non existant service...and a radio that never worked. That was my complaint...and for 695 dollars in yesterday's money...I think my complaint and bad feelings for Mssrs Toomin and the other jerk are justified.
    Frank Schwartz

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    Well Frank, you just had /have bad luck. Many others flew the Space Control and later Orbitrols quite successfully, and I have one that still works great here in my shop. Too bad you did not call me when you were having those problems, as I have a guaranteed permanent fix for radios that act up.......and that is to smash them with a an 8 pound sledge and toss them in the trash. This guarantees that particular radio will never give you another problem, period!!!!

    We once got in a 4 channel AM Futaba Attack system at Futaba, it was chopped to pieces and a note with a drawing of battle ships, aircraft carriers, and a Kamikaze plane was included that said "Remember Pearl Harbor!" The servos had been literally chopped in half with a hatchet, along with the batteries, Tx and Rx, it was destroyed. We sent the customer a new radio.

    The first Aitronics radios, the XL series, back in 1980, had some real issues. Turns out the president of Sanwa made a deal with one of his buddies to buy wire for a really low cost. Turns out the copper strands were recycled form old wire and not made from continuous virgin copper. it would work for a while, but once flexed, the strands would come apart internally and you lost the connection, your plane crashed! This caused a huge problem for Sanwa, and it took several years for them to recover and in the meantime Airtronics became known as Air-tricks, it was a fiasco on a huge level.

    At Futaba, they had a bad microprocessor program in the 1024 receivers, it crashed a bunch of really nice planes as the receiver would just lock up and quit responding. I was tasked with finding the failure mode and isolated it to the receiver, and the microprocessor controlled decoder board. I went to the stock shelfs to get a replacement decoder bioard and found there were two versions; Rev A and Rev B. The Rev B boards were sealed in a large bag with an update documentation package. I tried one of the Rev B boards and it cured the problem. Turns out that the lead Japanese tech, Tony Sendo, had a notification of the update that was buried in a stack of paperwork on his desk, and it had been there for over a year! Futaba Japan knew of the problem, and had sent us the boards and tech updates, but Sendo just threw the rev B update it on his pile and never looked at it, so in the mean time, planes crashed. Steve Helms had taken several problematic customer owned 1024 PCM radios to Sendo to have him try and figure out why they kept shutting off and trashing planes, but Tony , not being a flyer, found nothing wrong and told Steve they had tested OK. Steve, in frustration had me look at the radio, because he knew as a flyer, I would give it the once over. Steve showed me a video of it crashing a beautiful 1/4 scale Albatross DVa, so I knew the customer had a real problem.
    I found the problem by running the radio all day until it failed/locked up, which took it about 5 hours to manifest.
    Did you charge the transitory remitter batteries ?
    ( Big John Eliot quote. )

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    Hello Jay,

    I feel your comment regarding a technical expert that does not understand the actual use of R/C is dead on. Over here, in this club, I know of one very experienced R/C flyer (he began during the late 1950's) that had some very serious problems with his high tech German brand radio. He managed to isolate the problem to the tx. Sending the set in to the Swedish repair specialist was of no help. He tried two or three times, crashed every time after receiving the radio back. Every time he was informed the tx "was within specs". He gave up, scrapped the Tx and thus solved the problem, but my point is- if the repair expert does not know or does not understand that's it. You just cannot win.

    Doug

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    It is interesting to note that Don Mathes worked on the development of the Space Control radio in the late 50's. While he was working there, he developed in his spare time a reed radio that was later sold as the Deans DM-100, a 10 channel. His flying buddy Doug Speng used the prototype radio to win the Nationals twice with his Stormer (60 Nats) and next year the Flattop Stormer (with the then named DM-100).
    - Supplementary insipid innocuous inane vacuous proclamation

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    I always preferred to have Techs who were also model flyers, they understood the consequences better. I was fortunate to always have about 50% of more who flew as a hobby. If we received a radio back for repair a second time for the same complaint we always test flew the radio before return. Looking back it is interesting to note that I don't ever remember a crash during on of these test flights.
    SidGates
    Web: http://www.sidgates.us

  17. #17
    All Day Dan's Avatar
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    HighPlanes, Spreng published a construction article for the Stormer and/or the Flattop Stormer in one of the magazines. It may have been RCM. Do you know which issue? Dan.
    Dan

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    Both designs were published a few years before RCM came into existence. I think both were in Model Airplane News about a year apart. Somewhere, I have both issues, and no doubt others do too that are more organized.

    Thanks to Sid Gates and his website, he has posted links to the Don Huff videos. The part 6 video has footage of Doug Spreng with his Stormer which was presented in the issue after the '60 Nats win. Look for the 8mm color footage at the 6:09 mark on the video. A direct link to the youtube video is:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY1GU8IiJd4

    But I highly recommend going to Sid's website to see the entire series.
    - Supplementary insipid innocuous inane vacuous proclamation

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    Dan,
    Don Huff recently sent me a set of planes for both the Flat Top and the original round top. Also I recently got a PDF of the Flat top article/plans. If you want a copy of the PDF email a request to me at : sid@sidgates.us
    SidGates
    Web: http://www.sidgates.us

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by HighPlains View Post
    Both designs were published a few years before RCM came into existence. I think both were in Model Airplane News about a year apart. Somewhere, I have both issues, and no doubt others do too that are more organized.
    The Stormer was published in American Modeler April 1961 Hobby Helpers #461.
    Flat Top Stormer in American Modeler May 1962 Hobby Helpers #562.

    Flat Top Stormer plan http://www.outerzone.co.uk/plan_details.asp?ID=4829
    He's crazy Lew, he builds toy airplanes!"
    Frank Towns - Flight of the Phoenix (1965)

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    American Modeler, that the one that later was known as American Aircraft Modeler starting about 1968.
    - Supplementary insipid innocuous inane vacuous proclamation


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