RCU Review: RC Smoke Smoke System

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: November 2003 | Views: 221019 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    Review by: Greg Covey

    RC SMOKE is a division of
    Regin HVAC Products, Inc.
    273 Canal Street, Suite 222
    Shelton, CT 06484


    A smoke system for glow or electrics? You bet! My .60-size Graupner ShowFlyer 3D model airplane not only runs on quiet and clean electric power, it also has a remotely-activated smoke system that is safe to use.

    The RC Smoke cartridges from Regin HVAC Products have earned a reputation all over the world for safety and reliability. A complete range of non-toxic smoke products are available for your personal sky writing needs in rich white or colored smoke.

    The RC Smoke system is designed for outdoor use on R/C Model Airplanes, Cars, Boats, Snow Boards etc. The cartridges are available in a wide range of colors, and several different sizes that affect smoke volume and duration. They can be ignited before take-off by a match or lighter flame or remotely activated by electronic igniters. The RC Smoke cartridges are available in White, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, and Yellow colors.

    In slow flying planes like the electric parkflyers, slowflyers, and gliders, the RC Smoke can be activated during flight by one of the electric start fuse kits sold at RC Smoke.com. The focus of my review will be in creating a remote control activation for these electric start fuse kits in a plane designed for electric flight.

    RC Smoke offers several types of smoke cartridges and holding pods
    The smoke cartridges come in two different styles; RC104 (left and center) and RC105 (right). The RC104 cartridge can range from 1-3 minutes of smoke delivery depending upon length and the PC105 cartridge can range from 1-4 minutes depending upon length. The length can be cut with a fine-tooth saw or Dremel tool. The thicker RC105 cartridge can produce much more smoke volume than the thinner RC104 cartridges. The color orange is dominant in a blue or overcast sky setting.

    Two RC104 wing tip cartridges
    on a Kavan Wingo
    The Wing Adapter Mounting kit (RC900) weighs only 1oz with an RC104 cartridge. By adding a smoke trail to each wing tip, you add about 2oz to the total flying weight as shown on the Kavan Wingo.

    One RC105 cartridge on
    a Kavan Wingo
    When using the Belly Tank Adapter kit (RC910) with one RC105 smoke cartridge, you add about 3oz in flying weight. Note that the smoke volume is much thicker using the RC105 cartridge.
    Electric start fuse kits are
    available for either cartridge

    Igniter assembly diagram
    The RC920 (left) Electric Start Fuse kit is compatible with the thinner RC104 smoke cartridges and the RC930 (right) Electric Start Fuse kit is compatible with the thicker RC105 smoke cartridges. The kits come with igniters, fuses, and appropriate size plastic caps for the corresponding smoke cartridge. A 9v battery is all that is needed to activate the igniter.

    The smoke cartridge is prepared before flight by assembling the electric start fuse kit. It is a simple 4-step process that makes it easy to use micro clips to apply the ignition voltage from an external source. The fuse aids the entire cartridge in getting started and the custom plastic cap holds everything securely in place.

    I used a 1-1/8" micro smooth clip set from Radio Shack (p/n 270-373) for my project. A box of 10 clips costs $2.69 and they are re-usable.
    The RC910 Belly Tank is mounted on a piece of thin plywood.

    For the remote activation project, I used my .60-size, 7.7lb, Graupner ShowFlyer 3D airplane. It has a 60.5" wingspan and a powerful MaxCim 13Y brushless motor that delivers 1200 watts to the APC 20x11 e-prop.

    I mounted the RC910 belly tank to a piece of thin plywood. This would become both my method of attachment to the plane, using Velco strips, as well as a safety firewall for added protection.

    The Great Planes ElectriFly Electronic On/Off Switch was used
    activate the smoke.

    To activate the Electric Start Fuse Kit, I used the Great Planes ElectriFly Electronic On/Off Switch sold at Tower Hobbies. This Switch is very small and lightweight making it perfect for triggering the smoke system with an extra receiver channel. It can handle 6-12 cells (7.2V-14.4V) and the 35 amps continuous rating greatly exceed my needs to power the electric igniter.

    I decided to connect it to one of my 10-cell flight packs in the Graupner ShowFlyer using a plug-in adapter that I made from two Dean's Ultra plugs and a Tamiya connector. This allowed me to tap into the voltage of a 10-cell pack. The current draw is so low that it does not affect the receiver or servo performance during the ignition period. The BEC feature must be disconnected assuming that you already have receiver power from another source. I hooked my Electronic On/Off switch to receiver channel 5 because my plane had no retracts.

    The Great Planes Electronic On/Off Switch has its own enable slide switch that can be used to arm the smoke system after power has been applied to the receiver. After measuring an initial turn-on "glitch" voltage whenever enabling the Great Planes Electronic On/Off Switch, I decided that it was best to connect the micro clips to the fuse last.

    A 2-pin, non-polarized, connector and cable ran through the wing to the cartridge

    I ran power from the igniter fuse to the Great Planes Electronic On/Off Switch via a plug-in cord that had the Radio Shack micro clips on one end and a Dean's 2-pin connector on the other. Note that polarization is not important here and the wires I used were larger than needed for the low ignition current.

    First Flight Test
    The initial test proved to be safe and lots of fun!

    I didn't really know what to expect my first time out so I optioned on the safe side for a thin 1 minute white smoke cartridge. The last thing I wanted to see was my flagship going up in flames!

    As it turned out, the smoke cartridge burned very evenly and contained. It didn't even discolor the underside of my plane. The smoke was a thin trail for this .60-size ship but I had renewed confidence now. My next test would be with the thicker orange cartridge.
    The spent cartridge was still intact after the flight. I was happy with the initial test results and eagerly wanted to test the larger cartridge.
    The second flight testing was performed with the larger orange cartridge. I tried several cartridges on different days and noticed that the amount of visibility changed depending upon the weather, or more precisely, the background colors and amount of wind.
    Another parameter that affected the amount of visible smoke was humidity. I had accidentally left a cartridge out of the plastic bag for several weeks in rather humid summer air. The cartridge became difficult to ignite and had only about 1/2 the normal smoke volume. It is important to store the smoke cartridges sealed in plastic bags.
    On sunny days, the white cartridges appeared to have better visibility than my orange or red cartridges. On cloudy days, the opposite was true.

    The RC Smoke cartridges from Regin HVAC Products worked very well with my remote ignition scheme. The cartridges appeared to be safe with a very docile burn and little to no discoloring of the bottom of my plane. The variety of cartridge colors and sizes offer flexibility in usage for a range of plane sizes and weather conditions.

    Whether you use a remote activation scheme like I did, or, you simply light the cartridge on the ground before take-off, the RC Smoke system adds a new dimension of fun for your demo flights and club gatherings.

    RC SMOKE is a division of
    Regin HVAC Products, Inc.
    273 Canal Street, Suite 222
    Shelton, CT 06484


    Hobby-Lobby International
    5614 Franklin Pike Circle
    Brentwood, TN 37027


    Tower Hobbies

    PO Box 9078
    Champaign, IL 61826-9078


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