RCU Review: Greg Covey's Amp'd Issue 11: Indoor Flying ROCKS!

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: April 2009 | Views: 38788 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

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    Issue 11
    Article By Greg Covey

    Print Issue 11 "Indoor Flying Rocks!"

    Advances in all facets of technology from Lithium batteries to spread spectrum radios to tiny brushless motors, controllers, gyros, and servos have all combined with new techniques like thrust vectoring, coaxial blade rotation, plastic, carbon and foam construction techniques to make an exciting new generation of indoor flying models.

    From easy flying RTFs like the ParkZone Vapor or E-flite Blade mCX to skillfully hand-built rubber-powered conversions and precision flying 3D "mined" foamies, the culmination of increasingly larger gatherings like the Great Planes E-Fest, ETOC, and Heli Smackdown events all mean only one thing...that Indoor Flying Rocks!

    No Experience Needed

    One of the largest growth areas in R/C has been to utilize advances in technology and construction techniques to attract new customers. By creating inexpensive products that are Ready-To-Fly, include everything you need to fly, and can be flown without any experience, some manufacturers have expanded their target markets well beyond the traditional R/Cer.

    The ParkZone Vapor RTF is an exciting innovation from Horizon Hobby that offers both convenience and ease of flight. It is truly an ultra-micro flyer for everyone! The Vapor is small enough, and slow enough to be flown in a basement, garage, living room, or other indoor spaces as well as outdoors in low wind conditions. The charger and batteries are all included inside the box, making it easy for anyone to get the Vapor off the ground. Its carbon fiber composition represents the ultimate in lightweight design, helping it deliver the best in flight quality, value and, most importantly, fun.

    The E-flite Blade® mCX is an ultra micro-sized helicopter offering first-time pilots the ability to learn how to fly with ease and experienced heli pilots the ability to fly anytime, anywhere indoors. The Blade mCX offers unsurpassed stability and incredible control through the coaxial, counter-rotating head design and Spektrum? 2.4GHz DSM2? control. With a rotor span of just 7.5 inches and one-ounce flying weight, the Blade mCX can be flown indoors almost anywhere?from an office to a small bedroom or living room.

    Lightning Fast 3D Flying

    The Fancy Foam Models Yak55M was designed by Champion Pilot Gernot Bruckmann. This model finished 2nd at the 2007 E-TOC and Andrew Jesky flew this plane for freestyle and won the 2008 E-TOC! The kit is perfect for hardcore indoor 3D or just messing around in the gym. It weighs only 5oz and has landing skids (no wheels) so outdoor flying will be limited. The bright graphics only add 9 grams to the weight of the plane. Build and flown by Team JR's Devin McGrath, this model sports the absolute fastest air radio on the market with the most consistent response; the Spektrum DX7 Special Edition radio system.

    With an 11msec frame rate, the DX7 SE provides unprecedented responsiveness. The increased ultra-high 2048 resolution of the DX7se makes the difference between standard control and gliding smoothness, eliminating any notched feelings or hesitation. Watch Team JR's Devin McGrath as he puts the DX7 SE to the test on his Yak55M.

    Devin's Yak55M uses an AXI 2203/46, JR 188 servos, Spektrum AR9000 receiver, E-flite 10amp ESC, CC BEC at 7.5v, GWS 8x4.3 prop and a ThunderPower 3-cell, 250mAh LiPo pack.

    Team JR's Devin McGrath
    (9 meg)

    3D Flying - Smackdown Style

    One of the wildest forms of indoor flying I have seen has been watching the young 13 year old, Kyle Stacy, perform unbelievable maneuvers to music with his Furion 450 from Miniature Aircraft USA. Kyle, and his Dad, Ray Stacy, live only 15 minutes from my house so I have seen him perform many demos at the local shows in upstate NY. Ray is also an accomplished heli pilot and I still remember the first time we were watching a noontime demo five or six years ago when we realized that it wasn't Ray flying but rather his three foot high son, Kyle.

    Fresh off two back-to-back wins, the 2009 Great Planes E-fest Indoor Heli Smackdown and the 2008 iHobby World Micro Heli Championships, Kyle has been flying his Furion 450 for Team Futaba with exceptional consistency. For more information, you can visit Kyle's Web site here.

    I recently had an opportunity to speak with Kyle and see him perform an amazing 3D demo at a local indoor flying event in Rochester. I did my best to keep the camera on his Furion 450 during the routine, but as you'll see, it isn't always easy!

    Kyle Stacy 3D Heli Demo

    Kyle's Furion 450 uses the new Futaba GY520 Heading Hold Gyro due to be released this June. This ultra small and light weight gyro is contained in one single unit so there is no separate sensor and control unit.

    The GY520 features the latest MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) which allows complete control system on one chip. The gyro delivers superior performance with analog servos and excels with digital servos. The user can select either F3C or 3D modes, and then program up to six parameters for unmatched tail holding ability.

    "Farming" for Foam

    Although Depron foam is already very light in thin sheets, the technique called foam "farming" has taken light weight planes to a whole new level. For a great Do-It-Yourself article on this technique, read Michael Ramsey's "Flat Foam Farming" write-up in the AMA's March edition of Model Aviation.

    Fancy Foam Models - Osiris

    The Fancy Foam Models "Osiris" on the left was designed by Andrew Jesky but build and flown by Team JR's Devin McGrath. This model can be purchased with either standard 3mm foam or milled as a feather-light version for F3P competition.

    The Osiris comes with the wing mounted drag plates and multiple side force generators for constant velocity in all attitudes. Check out the amazing slow flying characteristics of this world class mono-plane as Devin and Ashley prepare it for a round of test flying.

    Devin McGrath's Osiris

    Devin's Osiris is powered by an E-flite Park 250 brushless outrunner motor, E-flite 10-amp Pro Brushless ESC, and a ThunderPower Pro Lite V2 20C 2-cell 250mAh LiPo pack.

    Scale Microflight

    For many R/Cers, there is a real passion to only fly scale or semi-scale models. This is also the case when flying indoors. An indoor flying model is not necessarily a micro-flyer, which in turn is not necessarily a scale model. In the last decade, the scope of indoor flying has expanded so much that we are no longer limited to just free-flight or rubber-powered models. In fact, we have many different categories of indoor electric-powered R/C models that must sometimes be protected from larger or faster indoor models. Even the term "Microflight" can have a different meaning between groups of flyers. In this manner, the term "Indoor Flyer" can be as elusive to define as the "Parkflyer". In any case, we are no longer limited to flying sticks with a profile fuselage.

    One example of a scale indoor flying model is this Bede Jodel. Originally a rubber-powered kit from Micro-X Products, it was recovered with Solite and converted to electric-powered R/C by Jim DeTar of Rochester, NY.

    The Bede Jodel has gone through several evolutions of conversion and still uses the original GWS geared LPS B2C brushed motor and 7x6 prop.

    The receiver has been upgraded to a Spektrum AR6100 and the model is powered by a 2-cell ThunderPower 250mAh pack.

    You can see the Bede Jodel fly in my video collage below.

    Keystone Indoor Electric Fly

    The Keystone Indoor Electric Fly (or KIEF) was hosted in October, 2008 by the members of the Muncy Indoor Flyers Club as they were able to obtain the use of a new sports dome located in the town of Muncy, PA. For an excellent example of the wide range of indoor flying models, read Bob Aberle's KIEF Report hosted by RC Micro World.

    The World of Indoor/Micro Radio Controlled Model Aircraft

    What happens when you team two AMA "Hall of Famers" together, with a combined experience of over a century? You get the most comprehensive write-up on Indoor/Microflight ever seen!

    Bob Aberle's latest book is published on CD by John Worth's Cloud 9 RC Micro World. The CD contains 118 pages of text with 138 color photos. It is the latest and most complete document detailing the world of micro flight as we know it. The CD is full of single-click access to dozens of other Web sites or sources of further information. A "must have" for all micro flight enthusiasts!

    Indoor Flying for Fun

    Most of us did not enter the R/C hobby to compete in skilled flying or scale accuracy...we simply fly for fun! Even if you fly giant-scale models, there are always times when having a smaller plane or heli comes in handy. We often bring out the smaller models, meant for indoors, on a calm summer evening after dinner. It is a great way to relax and enjoy some stress-free group flying. The advancement of Spread Spectrum radio systems has made this group flying experience even more enjoyable! We sometimes have 6 to 10 ParkZone Vapors flying around in a "swarm" where the main concern is to keep track of your own model. The point here is that you can have plenty of fun with an indoor model in calm conditions outside.

    Creating your own designs can be a great deal of fun. This 3D model on the right was designed and flown by Charlie Scholeno. Charlie was recently presented with an AMA District II Service Award and has been president of the Flying Aces in Jamestown, NY for over 30 years. You can see his slow-flying 3D design fly in my video collage. It uses an IMAX 2212 motor, MPI 72MHz receiver, and a 3-cell ElectriFly 350mAh LiPo pack.

    Indoor Flying Collage (27meg)


    The tiny 1/48th Semi-Scale profile Zero A6M2 on the right, held by William "Billy" Stauber, is one of the many new "Classroom Fighters" from Plantraco. These semi-scale profile models look incredible in the air and come with everything installed, trimmed and tested at Plantraco. They are easy to fly and are great for beginners!

    The evolution of electric flight has allowed for anyone to fly with friends in the gym or outside on calm days. Indoor and micro flight allows you to discover the wonder of precision R/C flight on a small scale and a small budget. Models like these weigh only 4 grams, or about 1/8 of an ounce! They are so little that you don't have to worry much about crashing into things.

    The advances in Lithium batteries, spread spectrum radios, and tiny brushless motors have created an exciting new generation of indoor flying models. From beginners to competitors, everyone has enjoyed the lighter, more powerful, and less expensive products that hit the market. Perhaps most of the benefit has gone to our hobby itself by once again expanding the scope of R/C through electric flight.

    When you fly electric, fly clean, fly quiet, and fly safe!

    Special thanks for contributions by:
    "Papa Jeff" Ring

    This section of AMP'D covers some of the questions that our readers have sent in and I thought would be interesting for others.

    Greg: There were many questions about my Byron A-4 conversion to electric power revealed in the last issue of AMP'D. EDF is a hot topic and converting the old glow-powered Byron models has caught the attention of many readers. Instead of answering the questions individually, I plan to have a future issue of AMP'D devoted to EDF conversions.

    One of new chemistry Lithium packs now available on the market is the FlightPower EON series. These packs offer a higher discharge rate and a longer cycle life so they are perfect for high-performance EDF applications.

    Ask questions by e-mailing me at greg@rcuniverse.com

    ParkZone Sukhoi Su-26m BNF

    Spektrum AR6400 DSM2 6CH Ultra-Micro Receiver/ESC

    FMA Cellpro Multi4 charger and CP125ADP adapter combo allow
    you to charge up to three of the tiny single-cell LiPos at once!

    Bob Aberle's New Book on CD from Cloud 9 RC Micro World

    Print Issue 11 "Indoor Flying Rocks!"

    Comments on RCU Review: Greg Covey's Amp'd Issue 11: Indoor Flying ROCKS!

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