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Advice to Firebird/Aerobird series pilots

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Old 04-20-2003, 05:06 AM
  #1
aeajr
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Default Advice to Firebird/Aerobird series pilots

I fly an Aerobird which is the top of the line in the Firebird Series from
HobbyZone. It is a great plane, but there is a weakenss in the motor mount on
all of these planes. Read my post, see what happend to me and what you can do
to prevent this from happening to your "bird".

Last week I took a good shot in a rough landing and the motor broke free of
its mounting and shifted forward inside the plane. I have since learned that
this is not uncommon. Also, while mine was dramatic, if it is only a small
displacement, you might not notice it, but the motor can get out of the proper
thrust line.

After some experimentation and excellent advice from other threads, I have
begun to rebuild the Aerobird and repair the damage done by the forward
shifted motor. A tip on how to prevent this on your plane is at the end.

Here is what I did.

Several people who had had this same problem put various types of plates
behind the motor inside the body. Then I recalled seeing someone drill holes
from the sides, right behind the motor and put a tie wrap there. This holds
the body tight to the motor AND blocks it from shifting backward. That is what
I did as part of my repair. The holes are 1/2" apart centered on the motor. I
used an 8" tie wrap, but a 4-6" wrap would probably be better as they are a
little less bulky.

Here are pictures of the damage and the repair.
http://www.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=...21b338b02ba4af

The photos show a yellow tie wrap, but that was just for pictures. I cut this
out and replace it with an orange one that looks much better on the plane.

After putting this tie wrap in place, there was no longer a need to put any
kind of bracing plate by the prop area. This tie wrap really holds the motor
solidly AND prevents it from moving forward.

Recommendation to all Firebird, Firebird XL, Fighterbird and Aerobird flyers
and those with similar fuselage planes:

I love the Aerobird and think the whole "bird" series is fine. However a weak
motor mount exists in all the planes. One good crash and the motor gets out of
alignment, or breaks free, like mine. I would recommend this modification be
done on ALL new "birds" BEFORE the motor mount is challenged and repairs have
to be done. If the motor shifts far enough, it will hit the control board and
wipe out all of the electronics. If it only shifts a little, the plane flies
badly, commonly to the left or right and can't be trimmed properly.

You can do the drilling and insertion of the tie wrap without having to take
the guts out of the plane. Just be careful to limit how far the drill bit goes
inside the plane. There is enough room to do this, just be careful.

When you put the tie wrap in, it may have to slip under the noise suppression
components that are soldered between the motor terminals. You can see them in
the photo. A 4" tie wrap is not as wide as the 8" wrap I used, so it will fit
more easily with less displacement of the components however I am confident
that it will be strong enough to get the job done.

To avoid the electronics on the motor, you could shift the holes about 1/4
inch away from this part of the motor so you don't have to go below the
components. Either way, just take your time and don't over tighten the tie
wrap. Just make it snug, don't distort the body of the plane.

I plan to send a note to the manufacturer and advise that this should be done
at the factory. Don't get me wrong, I like these planes, but they have a weak
motor mount. This will take care of the problem before it becomes a problem.

I hope you find this post and the photos useful. Thanks to everyone for their
advice and tips.

Don't wait, do this mod now on your Firebird, XL, Fighterbird or your
Aerobird, before you need it!
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Old 04-25-2003, 09:10 PM
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Default Advice to Firebird/Aerobird series pilots

I'd love to see your modification! I had the ground jump up and attack my plane a couple of weeks ago, and my motor mount seems kind of wobbly now.

However, when I try to view your link, it tells me its an incomplete link. I assume because it was too long when you posted it, and the ... was added in the middle.

Please post a working link! I wanna see!

Craig
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Old 04-25-2003, 10:26 PM
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Default Advice to Firebird/Aerobird series pilots

This link to the photos should work. Sorry



If you want pictures of the guts of the plane removed, let me know. Send me your e-mail and I will send them to you, but they are abou 700KB each so if you are on dial-up they will take a while.

Photos of damage and repairs
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Old 06-14-2003, 10:48 PM
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Default Advice to Firebird/Aerobird series pilots

I have been flying my bird for three months and 50+ flights and just lovethe plane. I have pounded the plane into the ground, destroyed three wings, and a tail. I had to build a new motor mount because I destroyed that too. All this, and the plane flies great, but it has taken a real beating. That is what makes it such a great three channel trainer.

Along the way I have had to solve many problems brecause I was so reckless with it while I was learning to fly it. So, I pass on what I have learned.


First - RTFM

If you lost your manual, you can download it here:

http://www.hobbyzonesports.com/Produ...uctID=HBZ6000#


Respect Wind

This plane can fly in winds up to about 12 MPH and I have flown in 15 MPH winds. However wait till you have mastered it. Most of my crashes came from flying in too much wind before I was ready.

Always launch into the wind and land into the wind. And, with the wind blowing toward you, the wind
will not carry your plane away, it will tend to bring it to you. Once you master flying the plane, the wind can be your friend. Respect the wind, don't fear it.


Motor Mount

This is the first thing you should do. Before you take a hard nose hit, reinforce the motor mount. I will not elaborate here, visit this thread to find the information. It contains advice from other pilots and what I finally did to reinforce the mount. You should do this before you need it.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...187#post922187


Plane Does Not Fly Straight

Assuming you have not displaced the motor (see above), and you are having problems with the plane turning to one side, check the following:

a) is the wing crooked or too damaged - try a new wing.

b) Check the trim adjustments. They may have been moved from center. Set
them to center and make all adjustments assuming you will fly with the trim
set in the center.

c) Check the tail. The foam is attached to the center plastic brace by small pieces that punch through the foam. This can loosen up and the tail fin can move slightly away from the plastic brace. On the ground you might not notice it, but in the air the pressure can move this around causing the plane to turn to one side or the other. Tape or glue the tail fins to the center
plastic brace. Also, look for creases in the foam. If there is a weak spot, it will cause the tail to flex causing the plane to turn. mine was creased at the meeting point where the plastic support meets the tail, so did not see it. Looked fine on the
ground, but it was flexing in the air causing a hard right turn leading to crashes. I replaced the tail.

d) Make sure the moveable surfaces are even with the fixed surfaces on the tail when the stick is centered and the trim levers are centered. You MUST check this with the transmitter on and the battery attached. If they are not even, adjust them with the screws on the control horns. If they are not even when the stick is centered, then the plane will not fly right, ever. The
procedure is in the manual. RTFM

Note, there is a tiny phillips head screw on the back of the control horn on the tail. Tighten it or the spool could unwind while the plane is in the air, causing a crash. (Guess how I know this!)

e) If none of the above are not a problem, then check to see that the boom is
solidly attached at the body of the plane. If this comes loose, it can move
around while the plane is flying causing all kinds of problems. It can also
twist so that the tail is no longer aligned. This links shows you how one
person
secured the boom on their plane using screws. One concern with this technique
is that the threads of the screw could abraid the control lines or the
receiver antenna. This might not be the best approach

http://rclibrary.com/viewtopic.php?p=34#34

If you look at where the boom is attached inside there is a pinced area. I
drilled a small hole through the top of that area and through the boom. Then
I put a 4" nylon tie thorugh to help secure the boom. I also put packing tape
around the boom and the back of the body where the boom exits. Between the
two, the boom is well secured.



The Porpoise

When you apply power the plane starts to climb then noses up, then the nose drops and it does it all over again. The problem is that the tail needs to be trimmed. There are two screws on the tail. The procedure is in your instruction book. RTFM


Center of Gravity

If you are using a 7 cell battery, you will get a faster plane and better climb. However you will also shift the center of gravity forward slightly. Not enough that the plane won't fly, but enough that it will seem to be nose heavy. If you are an aggressive, full throttle flyer, you probably won't notice. If you are more of a half throttle cruiser, like me, you will find the plane needs up trim all the time. Here is how you fix it.

The foam that sits between the battery and ahead of the electronics puts the 6 cell exactly where it needs to be to balance the plane, but the 7 cell is heavier. Remove the side pins and pull the foam out. Now, cut it from top to bottom about half way in, just in front of where the pins that hold it in-place enter the foam from the side. Now put the remaining piece back in the plane. When you fly the 6 cell, put the moveable piece behind the battery in its normal place. If you are flying the 7 cell, put the moveable piece forward of the battery. This will shift it back 1/2 inch and put the CG right where it should be. The plane will fly better at all speeds and will launch much better as well.


Longer flights

Bback off on the power. Both the 6 and 7 cell battery will last five to seven minutes at full power. However, if you back off to half power, your flights can last 10-12 minutes depending on the wind. If you back off to 1/4 throttle or glide, you can stretch beyond 15 minutes.

Also, when you charge your batteries, charging at a lower rate gets fuller charges. If you are not at the field, but are charging up after the day is over, or the night before, charge at .6 to .8 amps instead of the full 1.2 amps. It will take longer, but will heat the cells less and will more fully charge the battery.


Neck Strap for the Control unit.

If you look at the high priced Futaba, Hitec and other radios, they have a place where you can clip a cord so that the radio can hang from it leaving you two hands to make adjustments on the plane. I have messed up the trim taps more than once and crashed on launch because I tucked the radio under my arm.

Take a large paper clip and bend up the center piece in the middle to make a place where you can clip a neck strap to it. Now take some sand paper and sand a spot in the center of the radio to the left of the stick and the right of the throttle slide. Mine is about 1/3 from the bottom of the radio. Sand the area, then epoxy the paperclip to the radio. Use plenty so you can really embed the clip in the epoxy. Now, when you are getting ready to fly, you can release the radio without putting it down.


Reinforce the Wing

Got to staples and get some glass reinforced tape. The 3M type that has a cross pattern is best. I think it is called extreme strength tape. Put a piece on either side of trailing edge where the prop wants to bite the wing if a landing is a little rough. Make sure you have a spare prop. Since the prop is less likely to cut the wing, if it hits the wing, it might pop the prop
off, or break it. However normally this does not happen.

I also reinforce the front of the wing with the same tape where the rubber bands come across the wing. This will help reduce denting.


Learn to Dead Stick Land

If you run the battery too long, the speed control will cut the power to the motor while preserving power for the control surfaces. If you learn to land with the power off all the time, then if you get caught in the air with no motor, you will have no problem landing. Dead stick is my standard way of landing. If I am 250 feet up and want to land, I just set the plane into a
landing direction then cut the power and glide it down. Also, since I fly on a grass field, I never use the landing gear. I just slide it into the grass.


Parts

These planes have a great distribution system. Parts are very readily found in most hobby stores. However if you can't get what you need, look here:
http://www.hobbyzonesports.com/Support/


HobbyZoneSports Frequently Asked Questions - Couldn't hurt to look!

http://www.hobbyzonesports.com/Support/FAQ.aspx


Summary

So, that is the sum total of what I know about getting a great plane through the phase where we pound it into the ground trying to learn to fly. Don't give up! Avoid the wind, take your time and you will get it! Oh, and RTFM ..... read the friendly manual!!!! :-)
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Old 06-16-2003, 03:33 PM
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Default Advice to Firebird/Aerobird series pilots

I found this thread very helpful. I've just purchased a new Aerobird and plan to make the modifications you outline BEFORE I fly her, but I do have one question. I'm sorry if it seems silly. What did you drill the holes with? Just a standard drill? Basically, your photos were a great resource, I can see the tie through the holes holding the motor in place--that's all there is to it? Just make the holes identical to the photo, slip the tie through as shown and close it up--all good?

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Old 06-16-2003, 10:06 PM
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Default Advice to Firebird/Aerobird series pilots

That's all there is, sort of:

You will probably have to take a screw driver and gently, gently, lift the noise suppressor which is soldered between the terminals. You know, those little orange things?

Then just slide the nylon tie through one hole and back through the other.

I just selected a standard drill bit that is just a little wider than the tie wrap. I also put a piece of masking tape on the bit to mark the maximum depth I want the bit to go into the plane. This way I don't accidentally go too deep and damage the motor.

Don't press hard, the plastic is soft and the bit, if it is sharp, should go in easily.

I guess you could also just cut two slits on each side, but I think it would be hard to thread the tie through the slits.

Enjoy the bird, it is a great first plane.
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Old 06-17-2003, 09:15 PM
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Default Aerobird

Hi All I have owned 2 Aerobirds

That is a good fix on the motor mount. I would also suggest making a mod to the carbon fiber boom. The Mfg didn't put enough glue in the body where the boom is secured. I ran a small screw across the top of the boom notch in the body. I have experienced that a hard landing will cause the boom to loosen and kick down causing a severe down tail section

Bill Boyer
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Old 06-18-2003, 01:29 AM
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Default Advice to Firebird/Aerobird series pilots

Thanks guys... I took the Aero out for the first time today, windless and warm... beautiful weather. Having only flown 2 channels before, I was a little reticent about the 3 channel, but I installed and played with the model flyer sim (program) on my PC for a few hours at work first, and that helped tremendously. Even braved the landing gear and did a rolling take off and a had a perfect landing afterward. I'm thrilled with the new bird. Can't wait to play some more!
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Old 06-18-2003, 04:27 AM
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Default Advice to Firebird/Aerobird series pilots

This is a real great starter plane. Virtually every person who has tried mine has had success with it right away.
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