Aileron Servos on my Guillows Sopwith Camel

Figuring out the aileron servos for the Guillows Sopwith Camel 801 build (see the separate post here) has been a very interesting journey. So I’ve created this separate post to write it up. Hope it helps.

Direct Drive mounting of the Aileron servo

The out of the box plan has moveable ailerons, but only for static display. They are not intended to be functional. So I want to have ailerons and I want them on top and bottom wing. This discussion has gotten so interesting I’ve move it to a separate post which you can find here.

Both Cliff Harvey with his Guillows Spitfire, and Tim McKay who had a similar experience with the Guillows Zero, pretty much proved that the control of ailerons is going to be essential to making this plane behave nicely when it flies. So I have to solve two problems 1. Getting ‘control’ out to the end of the wings. 2. Getting the control up from the bottom wing to the top wing.

First I’m going to mount servos out on the wing. I’m actually thinking that because this is a biplane which will have 4 ailerons, the torque required for each of them is much smaller as its divided by 4.

So I’ve been doing more thinking and shopping and found some absolutely amazing tiny 1.7g AFRC D1302 digital servos that have torque of 0.15 kg/cm (0.014 Nm) which is exactly what is required for ailerons of this size according to at least 2 different surface area/torque calculators I have found online.

So I am going to do an experiment – using direct drive of the ailerons using these wonderful little digital servos.

Calculations

Trying to figure out exactly how much torque is actually required for a servo isn’t easy. What seems to have happened is that many years ago someone figured out that a 9g servo was “good enough” – and was pretty light compared to the weight of other components so everyone just kept using 9g servos.

But like most other areas of technology in this ever-changing world we live in, the technology of servos is improving in leaps and bounds. This is being driven by other uses of servos such as robotics. To me this means it makes sense to ask two simple questions:-

  1. How much torque is required for a particular purpose?
  2. What is the smallest servo I can use to give me that torque?

For the Sopwith Camel, I have a target weight in mind of 180g. If I don’t meet that, the absolute worst case I want is < 250g. This means weight is important, and if (for example) I can shave off 20-30g or more by switching out 4x or even 6x 9g servos for some much smaller digital servos, I’m all for it.

I did a lot of research (i.e. Googling) about this, with not a lot of results. I have basically found 2 web sites that seem to have usable and understandable formulas for calculating torque.

There is a calculator at Radio Control Info. This is ok but doesn’t explain its formula, so I am suspicious of it. I use it to validate my own calculations. This one is also very strange as it asks for all the input parameters in metric and then gives the results in “oz-in”. This is confusing and annoying.

Minnesota Big Birds has a page with a fully documented torque calculation formula by Chuck Gadd. I love this. The rational and mathematics are out there in the open and explained and I can put this into spreadsheet and do my own calculations and even tweak it. This is their formula:

Torque (oz.-in) = 8.5E-6 * (C2 V2 L sin(S1) tan(S1) / tan(S2))

                        Where:

§  C = Control surface chord in cm

§  L = Control surface length in cm

§  V = Speed in MPH

§  S1 = Max control surface deflection in degrees

§  S2 = Max servo deflection in degrees

Of course this is also frustrating because it uses “Miles per hour” (remember miles? – something from the old British Empire I think), and gives the results in oz-in instead of Nm or even kg-cm. But having the formula it’s pretty easy to update it to use modern metric units. Miles/hour to km/hour is easy – Just need to multiply by 0.621371^2, so that just changes the constant at the front. The result can be converted to km-cm by multiplying by 0.07200778893234 or 0.00706155 to get Nm which is actually the proper metric unit for torque. Most servos are sized in kg-cm (or oz-in, I’ll ignore that), so the new formula is

Torque (Nm) = 0.0000000231750630904477 * (C2 V2 L sin(S1) tan(S1) / tan(S2))

Torque (Kg-cm) = 0.000000236319937054984 * (C2 V2 L sin(S1) tan(S1) / tan(S2))

Lastly there is a pdf thoroughly documenting servo torque requirements by Andy Meysner of the Southern Ontario Glider Group, which is the one I like the best so far. It refers to the other two, but this explains how the formula works in details and it calculates using metric inputs, and gives the results in Nm. as it says:

Servo torque is usually specified in oz-in or kg-cm. To obtain the torque in oz-in or kg- cm, multiply the result in N-m by 141.6 or 10.2 respectively

https://soggi.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/ServoTorqueCalcArticle_App.pdf

The whole formula assuming a servo arm, control rod and control horn on the control surface is:

Ts = V2 x L x C2 x sin(αh) x tan(αh)/ (4 tan(αs))

(assuming Cd – drag coefficient = 1.0 and p = 1.2. Read the article for details)

V = Airspeed in m/s (multiply km/hour by 0.277778)

L = Length of the control surface in meters (3.5 cm = 0.035 meters)

αh is the rotation angle of the control surface from neutral in degrees

αs is the rotation angle of the servo arm in degrees measured from the servo arm position at 900 to the pushrod – I’m assuming αh= αs (I hope this is valid but I think it should be)

But here is where it gets interesting, Andy’s article also explains in detail how the calculation is done and as part of the calculation, it shows the calculation for the torque on the control surface itself as an intermediate step. This is fascinating because this would be the torque required for a direct drive servo like the one I plan to use on the ailerons on the Sopwith Camel. The formula for this would be:

T = ((Cd ρ V2 C L sin(αh))/2) C / 2

(again Cd = 0, p = 1.2)

Note that C appears multiple times, so this can be simplified to

T = ρ V2 C2 L sin(αh)/4

For the ailerons of the Sopwith Camel, which has:

  • Chord = C = 3.5 cm or 0.035m
  • Length = L = 14 cm or 0.014m
  • Speed = V = 50 km/hour (I’m making an assumption here)
  • Control surface deflection = servo deflection = 20 degrees

So the results for the Sopwith Camel ailerons are:

Torque kg-cm: 0.14 – which is less than the 0.15 spec for the 1.7g digital servos I’m using

Interestingly I did the calculations for the all the control surfaces and this is the result:

SurfaceChordLengthDeflectionSpeed
Km-hour
Torque
[Big Birds]
Torque
[Meysner]
Ailerons3.5 cm14 cm20 degrees50 km/hr.05 kg/cm
.005 Nm
0.05 kg/cm
0.005 Nm
Elevator3 cm18 cm20 degrees50 km/hr
Rudder4.5 cm8 cm20 degrees50 km/hr

Which was a very long winded way to show that the 0.15 kg/cm digital servos at 1.7g that I plan on using have approximately 3X the required torque for the Sopwith Camel Ailerons!

Installation

I’ve started installing the first of possibly 4 aileron servos directly inside the wing next to the ailerons. They will be direct drive which cuts out a lot of weight and inefficiency. These will be 1.7g digital servos. It seems to make sense. Stay tuned.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20210702_123640.jpg

Wires

Running the wires from the aileron to the fuselage is an interesting challenge. I see most people end up putting holes in the middle of the ribs. It struck me while I was doing this that I was weakening the weakest part of the rib by doing this. Why not, I thought, run the wires along the spar, which is the strongest part of the wing, and would make for the easiest place to run the wires while also making them less visible if I use tissue paper for the covering (which I haven’t decided on yet). This is how it looks.

Guillow’s Sopwith Camel 801 RC Conversion

I just opened [20 June 2021] my “new” Sopwith Camel kit from Guillows. I say “new”, but I bought this off eBay because at the time I ordered it, the Guillows website was Out of Stock. So the “new” kit I bought from eBay is actually pretty old. It’s well preserved, but the paper is yellowing and the box doesn’t have the “Laser Cut” sticker that the new models have. So this model is die-cut, the old way, pre the modern days of laser cut balsa.

This is quite fun because some of the things included in the box are things you will never see any more. Like a paper order form for ordering replacement parts by sending the form and a cheque (remember cheques?) to Paul K. Guillow Inc. Box 229, Wakefield, MA, 01880. Luckily all of the wooden pieces are well preserved, except for the plywood containing some of the slats and frame pieces. I’m soaking this in water and trying to dry it flat.

Review of Instructions

Having opened the box, the first thing I did was read the instructions. There were some very interesting things in these instructions, not all relevant to building the plane, but I thought I’d just note them as I go.

Copyright 1973

The copyright on these plans is 1973, and the copyright on the little “Catalog” included in the box, is 1974. Now this doesn’t prove the kit is that old, but it is certainly interesting. I haven’t found anything dated more recently than 1974.

It’s also very interesting that included in the kit was an “order form” for ordering replacement parts.

U-Control

The kit is made for rubber powered free flight or “U-Control”. I didn’t know what that was, but I did figure it out. It is what used to do when I was a teenager building and flying “control line” planes – flying around in a circle controlled by wires and a little handle. You tilt your hand to make the plane go up and down. The kit even includes the handle (but no wires) and I didn’t know what it was at first. It’s for control line flying!

This confused me because there is a control horn and control rods, but only for an elevator. The hinge ailerons were never intended to be functional, which they will be when I convert this to Radio Control.

Wooden Wheels

There are some absolutely gorgeous solid wooden wheels included in the box. They seem to be made of some kind of hardwood – maybe cherry (I’m not really sure). They might be a little heavy for a flying model, but they will look great so I might use them, I’m not sure yet.

Turned wooden wheels out of the box

Planning for the Radio Control

This is just some notes. Kind of “thinking out loud” as I read the plans and try to figure out what I need to do to build the plane for RC.

Ailerons

The out of the box plan has moveable ailerons, but only for static display. They are not intended to be functional. So I want to have ailerons and I want them on top and bottom wing. This discussion has gotten so interesting I’ve move it to a separate post which you can find here.

Electronics access

The electronics – receiver (with built in ESC) and 2S Lipo battery will need to go in the front of the plane. Access is going to be a challenge. Even for accessing a battery, let alone if I need to plug or unplug a servo from the receiver for any reason (likely there will be lot’s of reasons). It’s going to be difficult to make the wing removable (as Cliff Harvey did on his Spitfire), because the bottom wing is connected to the top wing. It will be difficult to build an access hatch on the top of the plane (as Tim McKay did on his Zero), so I’m going to do this in 3 parts.

  1. The battery will go at the front. I’ll build an access hatch in the side of the plane between B1 and B2. The battery I plan to use is a 2S 850 mAh battery that is 52mm x 28m m x 15mm. It will fit nicely across the plane if I build a little shelf where the fuel tank would have been for the glow-plug (gas) engine. The 50g will mostly be in front of the centre of gravity and should mean I may not need any other weight. This will go at the bottom in a shelf between “upper side keel A6” and “lower side keel A8”.
  2. The receiver (with built in ESC) will also go at the front. This will be in a 2nd shelf above the battery to allow the receiver to connect to the motor. I may build a drawer for this so the receiver can slide in and out. (not sure if this is overengineering, we shall see what happens when I get to it. The receiver will at the rear of this space up against B2 which should put it directly over the CoG. I might make the access panel for this on the opposite side of the plane from the battery access. The power wire from the receiver thought does need to be able to easily feed down to the lower compartment so it can easily be connected/disconnected to the battery. The receiver I think I’m using weighs 6.4g so if it’s close to directly above the CoG the impact should be negligible.
  3. I’m planning to install an NX3 Gyro/flight stabilizer to hopefully protect the plane from my amateur attempts at piloting. This must be mounted at the CoG. This weights.
  4. The servos for the elevator and rudder will probably be mounted between B3 and B4. I’m going to use 3.7g digital servos, and ideally I want to be able to replace these later if whatever I try first doesn’t work. Access to this part is tricky because the space between B3 and B4 is right below the “P13” plastic piece for the cockpit which goes back to B4.
  5. I’m going to try to make the cockpit/pilot plastic assembly removable and attached with magnets. I’m not sure if this is doable yet. Stay tuned.
  6. I might have thought putting an access panel at the top of the fuselage would make sense, but this will not be easy, so the alternative is a drawer again – sitting on “side keel A8” between B3 and B4. This will have the servos sitting quite low, but the horn at the top will sit above the level of A8 which will line it up quite well with the bottom of the elevator and rudder for connecting a rod to the control horns. That will make connecting a new servo wire tricky if I decide to switch servos as I’ll need to fish it though the space between B2 and B3 to get it to the receiver. This also puts around 8g of weight around 120mm behind the CoG, but with a 50g battery at the front I’m thinking it will be ok.
  7. The alternative would be to put the servos for elevator and rudder between B2 and B3. The only way to do this would be to make the P13 plastic cockpit (with guns, pilot and windshield) completely removeble. This would give access to the receiver and servos from the top, but would require figuring out how to attach P13, because the standard build has the struts for the upper wing feeding through P13 and having P13 glued onto the fuselage. Maybe some judicious triming and some magnets might do the trick. If I do this, the receiver and servos mount under the pilot and removing the pilot/cockpit assembly gives easy access to everything, but because it’s underneath the main wing, working in that space might be difficult.
  8. So there is another option. This one came up from watching the recent video from Tim McKay about his Beechcraft Staggerwing Foamboard model. Tim made the bottom wing removable by putting slots in the bottom wing for the wing braces. It’s probably not that simple for the Sopwith Camel, but I did think – what about putting magnets on the bottom of the wing braces? Then the bottom wing could clip off and on. It probably needs to be fixed more firmly at the fuselage (like rubber bands), but this would make it doable.

Building

This is notes from building. I’m not doing a detailed build log but just noting important things I find as I go.

Wing Blocks

The instructions say to block up the leading edge when building the wings. From what I can see this doesn’t make sense. So I’m blocking up the trailing edge and the rear spar instead. This gives me a much better match with the wing cross section shown on the plan. After building and sanding the lower wing using this approach, I’m very happy with it.

Wing Carbon fiber

I’m adding some 1mm carbon fiber rods to the wings for strength at very little cost in weight. I’ve put one behind the leading edge by putting a groove behind the leading edge and gluing the rod into the groove. I will add a second rod on the 2nd spar that the aileron servos will be mounted to. I decided to do this because I had to trim out a slot in the spar for the servo and that weakened the spar. So having to strengthen it anyway, I decided to take it all the way from the fuselage out to the wing tip.

Covering

The kit comes with some pretty basic white/translucent tissue paper. I am still considering using this, but I have two other options. I like the idea of building a “naked” model with all the structure visible. This is kind of driven by the wheels – if I want to keep those beautiful wooden wheels visible, I think I should do the same with the rest of the model. What holds me back is the electronics, because it will also be visible and that might make a naked model kind of ugly. So I’m also considering:

  1. Coloured tissue. I picked up some very nice dark green tissue paper from Michaels. I think it might look quite nice and be very close to a realistic look.
  2. I’ve ordered some silkspan. I like the idea of covering in cloth because that’s what (I understand) was used on the real planes. I think it was canvas. So I might try silkspan. I could do a naked model with the silkspan which will mostly hide the electronics, since the silkspan isn’t transparent, or I could paint it.

My plan at this point is to build 3 test panels and do the 3 different coverings and see how it comes out. I’ll update when I’ve done that.

Jumper T-Lite Open-TX transmitter

In my journey from building balsa free flight models to getting into radio control, the Jumper T-Lite will be the next step. After deciding to get into RC, I bought some second hand planes and two second hand transmitters, a Turnigy TGY 9X and a Spectrum DX4e. These have been great to learn on, but I want something that I’m going to be able to use for all my models and neither of these is going to cut it.

Enter the Jumper T-Lite.

Jumper T-Lite version screen.

As at 25 May 2021, this is a very new machine. There is a lot of excitement about it in the community, and there are a number of videos on YouTube with reviews and analysis of the machine. A lot of this is focused on quad/drone usage, but even the fixed wing fliers like myself come at it from years of experience and skip over some basic steps.

Of course you would expect this basic information to be “in the manual”, but it’s not. The 4 page “quick start” guide that comes with the T-Lite has one single page of actual instructions which pretty much focus on binding with a receiver, but don’t say what do do with the setup after that.

It’s also important to note that the version of Open-TX used by the T-Lite is pre-release. The current “stable” version of Open-TX is 2.3.11 while the T-Lite uses 2.3.12 and is dated 2021-01-14 with EEPR 219 (is that the build #? Not sure).

The Open-Tx documentation online is about version 2.2 predating even the 2.3 major release that includes the T-Lite. This is open source software of course, so its not really fair to criticize, but it is important to understand what this all means. It mostly means that to ge the most out of this very powerful gadget, you need to find bits and pieces of information all over the internet, including on YouTube, forums and blogs (like this one).

So what I’m going to try to do here is distill what I have found helpful into a bit of a real “Quick Start Guide” that hopefully will help you to get started using it. This isn’t intended to be comprehensive documentation, I hope it helps. It’s helping me to write it!

Initial Setup

Most of the unbox videos you see online cover the basics of turning putting on the antenna (VERY important) and putting the correct 18650 lipo battery (flat top not button top) in the right way round (Positive to the right if you have the T-Lite open in front of you – check this very carefully). These batteries are pretty easy to find, I bought mine from Battery World in Vancouver.

Yes – the USB cable does charge the battery! (but it takes a few hours). You can charge batteries in a separate charger, but you don’t need one. The internal charger won’t overcharge the battery so leave it charging till the light goes off.

Turning on the Transmitter

Things like what comes up first, “Throttle warning” (mode 2). etc.

Using the Keys on the T-Lite

One of the nice things about the T-Lite is the “keypad” – the keys on the receiver. They are labeled, but it’s not really intuitive and apparently the labels rub off over time, so I’ll give you this quick reference table that might help.

Key LabelFunctionUsage/Comments
ENTEnterSelect an item for editing, select an item from a list. Confirm action or entry
RTNReturnNot “return” like on a computer keyboard, return back to the previous step, of exit out of what you are doing.
UP UpThis one is pretty straight forward, move up a screen, move up a list, move to the previous item when you are selecting options. Sometimes “up” means “up the alphabet”, which intuitively seems to be going backwards because up from “F” is “E” (previous).
DNDownOpposite of UP
SYSSystem or LeftDepending on the context, this button can mean “System” or “Left”. For example when you first turn on the radio you will be in a Model. Press SYS to take you to the main SYStem setup menu for the radio. Once you in the setup menu, MDL and SYS will take you forwards in backwards through the setup pages. Sometimes this can be confusing because you might expect “RTN” to be “go back” but sometimes it might be the SYS button you need to “go left”. So the SYS button will sometimes work as “move left” or “page left”.
MDLModel or RightWhen in a particular model, the MDL button will take you to the model selection screen. But if you are navigating on various screens, the MDL button will usually be a “move right” or “page right”.

Selecting a model

When you turn on the T-Lite you will be “in” the model that you were in last time you used it.

This usually makes sense, the transmitter assumes you want to control/fly the last model you were working with, but If you want to change to a different model or create a new model, press the “MDL” button. This takes you to the model selection screen.

If you are on one of the setup pages for a specific model, you need to press “RTN” first to take you back to the main model screen. Then you can press MDL to get to the model selection screen.

Creating a new model and binding to a receiver

The quickest and simplest way to set up a new model to fly is this:

  1. Get to the model selection screen – usually by pressing MDL from the main model screen or system setup
  2. Press and hold ENT – this pops up a menu. Use UP/DN to select “Add Model”, press ENT
  3. You are now in a new model – you can change the name now, but its not necessary. You can always change it later.
  4. Press MDL to go to the “Model Setup” page.
  5. Press DN to move down to an empty slot.
  6. Press and hold ENT to popup the menu and select “Create Model”, again using ENT.
  7. Follow the prompts through the wizard. What is weird about the Wizard is that on each page, when you are done with the page you actually press RTN to go to the next page.

New Firmware – should you? (I say don’t for now)

At this point (25 May 2021), I’d say don’t update the firmware. The version that comes out of the box is good and it works. I flashed a new ‘nightly build’ firmware I downloaded using Open-TX companion and all the gimbals and switches stopped working. I had to “Factory Reset” (see below) in order to get it back from the dead.

Open-TX companion

The standard Open-TX companion (stable release 2.3.12 or earlier) will not work with the T-Lite as at 25 May 2021. Until Open-TX officially declares 2.3.13 or higher as a new stable release version, T-Lite is not available as an option and you won’t be able to use it with your radio. If you do (I tried) you might even brick it. Recovering is doable but not fun, so just don’t try.

Update as at 24 June 2021 2.3.13 has been released and the Jumper T-Lite is now supported by the Open-TX companion.

One thing to watch out for (maybe only on the Mac), when you first plugin the transmitter to the USB port it can take a long time for the “T-LITE” drive to mount and show up as a device on your Mac. Until it does, Companion will not be able to read or write models. It says it can’t find the radio. Just be patient. Sometimes VERY patient, but it will get there eventually.

Factory Reset

If you are hooped – your transmitter is messed up and nothing seems to be working. You get multiple warnings when you boot and you don’t know what is going on, it might be time for a “Factory Reset”. Luckily this is easy – but its tricky to find. This is how you do it:-

  1. Power off and restart your T-Lite
  2. Press SYS to go to the Radio System menu
  3. Press MDL (how many times) to get to the Radio Setup page.
  4. Press DN to go to the Factory Reset option
  5. Press ENT to select Factor Reset – you are not done yet.
  6. Press ???

How to bind Jumper T-Lite with a Turnigy Receiver

I bought 5 second hand RC planes to get me started in Radio Control plane flying. 3 of them had Turnigy equipment with a Turnigy TGY 9X transmitter (with a Turnigy RF 9Xv2 protocol module) already bound.

But then I bought the new Jumper T-Lite transmitter with the JP4IN1 (multi-protocol) module from BangGood and I decided I wanted to stop using the clunky old 9X, and switch those planes over to my wonderful new T-Lite.

I thought – great, it’s “multiprotocol” – this should be easy, but when I tried to set the T-Lite to “Turnigy” – well it wasn’t there! No such option. No “Turnigy” at all not even close. So I got online, went to google, YouTube, RCGroups.com and I could not find anything that would tell me how to bind my T-Lite to the Turnigy 9X8Cv2 receivers that I got with those 3 second-hand planes.

I looked for binding the Jumper T16 – still no luck. Of course there was lots about binding the T16 in general, and lots of great info about binding the T-Lite to all kinds of receivers, but nothing about binding them with Turnigy receivers.

I did figure out that the Turnigy probably used AFHDS or AFHDS2a and I found this website that has a comprehensive list of all the possible protocols, but I still couldn’t figure out which protocol to choose. It was tantilisingly close, and I tried the two FlySky protocols that listed “AFHDS” but … no joy, and the light kept blinking and the receiver kept beeping.

Then I found a wonderful article on the FliteTest forum that gave me the final clue. It was just by pure chance, or persistent searching, because this article doesn’t say anything about Open-Tx or binding or any of those things, but a user called lrussi750 says one very important thing.

The (FlySky) TH9X and the (Turnigy) 9X are the same radio and the only difference I’ve seen is color. I have both radios. 

FliteTest Forums – FLYSKY FS-TH9X Vs TURNIGY 9X

Eureka! So – this should mean that if I select “FlySky” on my T-Lite it should be able to bind. Well I tried it and it works! This is a screenshot of the protocol setting I used to bind the Turnigy 9X8Cv2 receiver to my Jumper T-Lite.

Use FlySky – subtype (subprotocol) Std – and it will work!

I do feel kind of silly that I didn’t get it when I figured out that Turnigy uses AFHDS, but I am just so happy!

And – very happy with the Jumper T-Lite – what a great little radio.

Sopwith Pup by Dancing Wings Hobby

I ordered the “micro” scale model of the Sopwith Pub by Dancing Wings Hobby from Amazon as a kit in including an electric motor, ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) and 2 servos. All I need to buy (I thought) was a receiver and I’d have everything I needed to build my first complete radio controlled model from scratch.

And so the journey began.

A lot of the details you can see on my YouTube channel “Tim the Plane Man”. The playlist is here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9Qx6K4kAW68N7ubtBHgx95-xxovnWLq-

But there are some details that make more sense to post as text, so I’m including them here.

Build Order

As I worked through building the model, I realized that the numbered instructions should NOT be followed “step by step”. It’s not a big problem, just follow these steps and you will find that the model comes together much easier.

  1. Install the mounting base for the motor and power system as per the plan at 1.
  2. Install the electronics in the mounting base. The Instructions have this at step 6. Do the first few items from Step 6, but do not connect the servos to the pushrods yet, and don’t connect the elevator and rudder at the end of Step 6. Test the electronics with a transmitter – make sure the servos and motor are working.
  3. Assemble the fuselage – but don’t put on the bottom yet. First insert the pushrods for elevator and rudder and connect them to the servos as per the pictures in Step 6. These can be connected to the elevator and rudder later, but it’s much better to connect to the servos now. Put on the bottom of the fuselage _after_ testing again that the electronics are working and the pushrods move back and forth, even though they are not connected to the rudder and elevator yet.
  4. Don’t install the magnets in the fuselage in Step 2, so don’t following the printed instructions for this. Wait till you have the cowling finished.
  5. Build the cowling, then line up the magnets in the fuselage with the cowling. Make sure to get the polarity of the magnets right so they click into place instead of pushing apart. This is covered in detail on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/RJmyAGB5h34
  6. Build the wheels, but don’t put the undercarriage on the fuselage yet, wait till you have put on the wings first.
  7. Assemble the wings. Instructions Step 5. If you are going to paint. Assemble but don’t install on the fuselage!
  8. Optional step – if you want to paint, do it now before you put everything together.
  9. Install the wings on the plane (this is the second part of Instructions Step 5).
  10. Assemble the elevator and rudder and install on the plane, connect the control horns to the control rods as per the picture at the very end of Instructions Step 6. Test it again, make sure everything is working smoothly.
  11. Install the undercarriage and wheels and put on the propeller.
  12. Congratulations! Gong xi! You are done!

Corrections/Suggestions

There are some things in the instructions that are not clear, missing or in a couple of places, just plain wrong. These are some key things you need to know.

Screws on the power frame go on the bottom.

If you need to remove the mounting base later for whatever reason (perhaps something isn’t working or you want to change the hole position you are using on the servo arms), then if the screws are put in from the top you will have to cut a hole in the top of the fuselage to remove the screws and slide out the mounting base. I did this, it wasn’t pretty.

If you put the screws in from the underside, they are easily accessible via the hatch on the bottom of the fuselage.

This one picture is with the mounting base upside down. All the others are from the top. You might not notice it, but it is very important.

There are four “j” pieces to install on the power system mounting base.

The Instructions only show 2 – actually the picture shows all 4 pieces, but only has 2 red arrows showing 2 “j” pieces to be installed. Find all 4 of these and install them now. It will be very difficult to fix this later if you miss it now.

These two “j” pieces at the bottom are where the undercarriage screws onto the fuselage. If you miss these now you will not be able to install the undercarriage unless you cut open the fuselage and put the “j” pieces in.

Also – install the “j” pieces before you install “I”, so reverse these pictures.

Don’t put the tail peg in right away.

This is more of a suggestion, but I found it so easy to accidentally break the tail peg when doing other parts of the plane. Perhaps delay installing it until just before you put on the elevator and rudder. Also – soak the tail peg in CA glue/super glue for strength. It is very fragile and needs beefing up.

Watch out for the Q ribs

When building the wings there are whole lot of “R” ribs, but only 2 “Q” ribs which go on the very inside of the lower wing. Pay attention to this and don’t accidentally put the Q ribs somewhere else.

How to connect the pushrods to the servos

The Instructions at Step 6, picture 5 shows how to connect the “6” wooden pieces to the end of the pushrods and then attaching them to the servo arms. But the picture is all you get and it’s really not clear how to connect the wire pieces provided to the servo arms. Zooming in the picture on the instructions doesn’t make it clear, because the picture is so grainy.

So I made my best guess and here are pictures showing how I did it. Take note of the two pictures showing the pushrod connection to the servos. One works and one doesn’t. I tried the first and it seemed fine, but the plane flew around in a circle because the pushrods were catching on the inside of the fuselage. Do it the second way, this brings the rods down lower and away from the fuselage.

It works! (Maybe there is a better way, but this way works).

The picture from the Instructions is not very clear.

I glued the small wire pieces to the wooden “6” pieces on the end of the control rods.
Don’t do this. If you do this, the rods might rub or stick against the fuselage.
Do this instead – not a huge difference, but might affect how the plane flies

Glue the wheels (carefully!)

You don’t want the wheels to stick, they work and I got some really nice takeoffs from the kit wheels. I guess it should have been obvious, but the wheels need to be glued to the nylon bushes and the o-ring “tires” need to be glued to the wooden rims. If you don’t you run the risk of them popping off on the field. I used “super glue” (CA glue) because it is plastic to wood and rubber to wood. Be very careful not to get any glue inside the bush so that the wheel can spin nicely on the axle.

Reinforce the undercarriage

I flew my plane on a wonderful field with some very thick grass which cushioned my many crashes while I was tuning it. What did happen a number of times when crashing or even having a good landing, was the undercarriage would break off when it hit the grass. So I reinforced it with 4 pieces of carbon fiber rod. This also helped with the centre of gravity because the undercarriage is mostly forward of the CoG.

If using a brushless motor don’t install the lead weights as per the Instructions.

If you put the lead weight at the top of the special mounting base shown in “8. Assemble the Brushless Motor”, you will not be able to put the cowling on. Following the build instructions for “brushless motor”, the weight wrapped around the screw gets in the way, preventing the cowling from being clicked onto it’s magnet.

Instead, I suggest you install any weight required in the bays behind the motor, there is one at the top and one at the bottom.

You will need a lot of weight. The included weight was not enough to get the centre of gravity right for me. I had to add more, for a total of 12g, to get it the centre of gravity to where it should be according to the instructions.

This is for brushless motor only. I don’t know what happens with a brushed motor.

I actually needed a lot of weight to bring the centre of gravity forward in order for the plane to fly. I didn’t keep track of it all, but here are some pictures. The weight that came with the kit + two pieces of solder + some ‘white tack’ plastic putty packed into the cowling. I’m sure it’s more than 10g all up.

Installing the recommended brushless MM1104 motor is tricky

There are combo packs online (e.g. Amazon where I bought mine) that include the recommended MM1104 motor from AEORC. When you try to screw the motor onto the provided special mounting base, it will not fit cleanly. I had to drill new holes because the provided ones didn’t line up with the holes on the triangular engine mount. Even then, one of the screws barely has any purchase on the mounting plate. It does work though, although it doesn’t look tidy, and the plane will fly with this motor mounted to the mounting base. Here are a couple of pictures that show how it looks:

Brushless MM1104 motor mounted on the mounting base.
The screw on the bottom left barely has any purchase on the mounting base.

Specifications

This is what I used to build the plane.

Motor: Brushless Motor: MM1104 3700KV (included with the kit from Amazon)

Receiver: AEORC Rx144-E DSMX compatible mini micro receiver with built in 5A/1S ESC. Note the “E” – this is the one with the built in brushless ESC, without the E, you will need an external ESC.

Receiver manual at http://bit.ly/3estN0J

ESC: Not required because the Rx144-E has a built in brushless ESC

Servos. 1.7 g micro servos x2 (included with the kit from Amazon)

Battery: 150 mAh 1S 30C Lipo 200mAh 30C 1S recommended. I got this one from BangGood

Total weight for these electronics is 15g.

Jumper T-Lite OpenTX transmitter settings

I found transmitter setup was critical to getting the Sopwith Pup to fly well. The elevator is very twitchy, so I reduced the rate (weight) on the elevator to 66% and with a 35% exponential (expo). The rudder on the other hand needs all the throw it can get, so I have the weight at 100%, but the expo at 30% which worked quite well.

Final Comments

The model as built following these instructions, with painting, looks great! I am very happy with the look, everything is working and with some tuning after the maiden flight and some additional test flights.

But it’s very heavy. 65.5g total weight. The specifications for the plane say flying weight is 42-50 grams, so it is 15.5 grams overweight.

If I weight the model with the painting that I did, it comes out to 70g. I built the same model again without painting – 65g, but I don’t think I could get it any lighter.

I don’t want to break my lovely plane, so I have ordered a new kit, and I’ve built it again, bare bones, following my instructions above. So the extra weight isn’t a problem, it really does “fly like a bird”.

[And I’ve updated this blog based on the second build, so the hints and suggestions you see are what you need to build your own].

Dancing Wings Fokker-E build

Dancing Wings Fokker-E box (Fokker E.III)

When I built the Dancing Wings Hobby Fokker-E (the small 420 mm wingspan version), I learned a lot of very interesting things. Well, I find them interesting. So I thought I would share them in case anyone else finds them interesting or even helpful.

Instructions

The instructions are cryptic. A single page with lots of colour pictures and some limited and very tiny writing. I needed a magnifying glass to make sure I didn’t miss important details. There are lots of comments about the instructions from buyers, so I think others have the same problem I did.

You have to read and follow the instructions very, very carefully. I missed one piece, which I didn’t find before it was too late, simply by failing to notice the tiny label on a one of the picture steps.

The instructions also don’t include what you might think is very basic information. Glue is a good example. They don’t say anything about glue. I mostly used standard white wood glue, but sometimes Superglue (CA some people call it). For example I glued in the magnets using Superglue. I guess I made reasonable assumptions, and I think I got it right, but nothing – absolutely nothing in the instructions about what glue to use and where it should be used.

Electronics

There is very little information in the instructions about electronics. The kit I ordered included a brushless motor, but the instructions which described how to install it described a different one, so I had to “figure it out”. There was nothing about how to install an ESC, receiver or servos.

The instructions do say which electronics to buy – but nothing about how to install them.

Youtube Video

There is a Youtube Video! This was a great find, and very, very helpful. There is an animated video from Dancing Wings Hobby, that kind of shows how to put the kit together. Again it doesn’t mention basics like glue, but it does show the order very well, and even gave some additional hints about installing the electronics that you don’t get in the printed instructions. I built the plane with the video open on my laptop and paused in my browser. At each next step, I would hit play, wait a couple of seconds and pause again so I could see the next step. You can find the video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfIsc5mL2WM

Decoration – Paint, Decals etc.

The instructions say nothing about paint or other decorations. The video does show some things like Iron Cross decals and a white rudder that are not in the instructions. They look great. So I painted the rudder white and made some iron cost decals by cutting out some Cricut black vinyl. I’m not sure if that’s what I was supposed to do (there are no decals in the kit), but I think it looks great.

After finishing and trying to paint the wheels, I realized that I should have painted them before putting them on. With all of the very fine detail, such as the rigging and struts, it’s almost impossible to paint after everything is connected, so ask yourself at each step – will I want to paint this? If so – paint it now before installing it. Some things I wish I had painted first:

  • The wheels
  • The landing gear
  • The rudder
  • The frame in front of the cockpit that holds up the rigging
  • White stripes on the wings to frame the Iron crosses (see some original pictures)
  • The pilot
  • The railing around the cockpit

Magnets

There are several small magnets included and the instructions are very precise about where they need to be placed, but gives no hint about polarity. For example it says to put two magnets on the underside of the cowling. This is to hold the cowling in place. Then somewhere else in the build it says put two magnets on the brackets at the front of the frame that hold the cowling. If you don’t think ahead, you could install these two magnets so that when you try to put the cowling on it will bounce right out, rather than clicking into place. You need to get the polarity right for each and every one.

The thing is – the different pictures and sequences don’t really join this together, so unless you hunt down the “other end” of the magnet you are installing, you won’t know which end is which. So here is what I do:-

  1. Take the magnets apart in pairs.
  2. Mark each magnet with a ‘dot’ using a sharpie to show sides that need to be apart
  3. Find both sides of the magnet connection on the plans.
  4. Make sure to install each magnet with the dot (from step 2) away from the other magnet.

The magnets are also a bit small. I guess this is my opinion, but there are two hints that I am right. The first is that the holes in the balsa for the magnets are far too big for the magnets provided. Around half the size. So even with copious Superglue, the magnet sort of floats in the hole for it. The second hint is that when clicking things like the electronics hatch on the underside of the plane in place, the hatch seems very loose. It feels like it might drop out, the magnet isn’t holding it very tightly. I bought some larger magnets and replaced some of those that came with the kit and got a much more satisfying “click” and much more satisfying and firmer hold.

Continued …

I’m still building this model, so likely there is more to come. This is where I’m at so far:

Dancing Wings Fokker E.III as at 19 April 2021

Maiden Flight and Lessons Learned

Well it’s 7th July 2021 and this plane has flown! You can see the video on YouTube.

I learned a lot of things from building the Dancing Wings Sopwith Pup K06 and I figured out the electronics, the videos for this are also on YouTube.

I learned 3 things from the maiden flight

  1. The carbon fiber rod in the kit that is for the elevator is very important. This should be the thicker 1.5mm rod and I used the thiner one. I had to fix that.
  2. The rudder was very twitchy. I think this is because the rudder was not stable and was kind of flapping around a bit. The “paper” hinge for the rudder specified in the instructions needs to be fairly strong paper or thin plastic. I replaced the paper I had used with hinges left over from the Sopwith Pup. They are perfect – it would be great if they get included with the kit.
  3. Center of Gravity is very important, I had to include a lot of weight inside the cowling in addition to the lead that came with the kit. Don’t worry, getting the CG right is more important than the total weight. My model is 68g and it flies just fine.
  4. The plane tends to fly up and to the left. There is no down thrust or right thrust on the motor mount in this model, whereas the Sopwith Pup motor mount has a definite down/right angle to the mount. I added some packing on the motor mount to try to point the motor down and to the right.

I never expected the Spanish Inquisition! 😀

Packing under the engine mount to add down thrust and right thrust.
New axle for the elevator and hinges for the rudder.

Australian Racism

19 years ago I became a Canadian citizen. I was sworn in by a Sikh Canadian wearing a turban. It was one of the proudest moments in my life. Canada isn’t perfect, but I have never once heard a Sikh called a “rag head” – which I was shocked to hear when I was last in Australia, only 2 years ago. 

Racism in Australia is nasty. It’s everywhere. Implicitly and explicitly. If you are white in Australia you experience white privilege every day, whether you know it or not.

Racism in Australia is deep, widespread and affects everyone who is not white anglosaxon. Yes seriously, “Real Australians” are better than anyone who:-

  • Speaks with any kind of non-English accent
  • Uses a non-English language ‘in public’ – even a native Australian language for god sake.
  • Is not from a “white” country (Australia, South Africa, UK, Canada, USA)
  • is from non-English speaking European countries.
  • Has non-white skin or features. 
  • Doesn’t follow a Christian religion
  • Has special needs like autism, downs syndrome or cerebral palsy
  • Came to Australia escaping fascism, war or persecution etc.
  • if they were forced to escape on a boat thats even worse.
  • Even if they’ve lived in Australia for 60,000 years – not good enough, and actually – thats the worst.

As an immigrant in Canada I had it easy. I came from a “white” country – Australia. I saw what happened to other immigrants to Canada with more experience and qualifications than me but not lucky enough to be white. I experienced white privilege and I know how lucky I am. But no matter how bad it is in Canada – Australia is worse.

Australian racism is tiered. It is worse for some than for others. If you are from Europe but have white skin, you are almost ok, especially if you learn to drop your accent. Darker skinned Europeans are worse but still not too bad. Asians are probably next- and black skinned people are probably almost ok if they come from the USA, but less ok if they are from Africa or PNG or New Zealand.

But everyone in Australia knows – the Aboriginal people of Australia are at the bottom. Those who came first, who lived in Australia for 60,000 years before the whites arrived, who have their own “Australian” languages and culture, and who had their lives and land taken so that “real Australians” could have a place to live, they are looked down on by everyone else.

All Australians know; white, European, Asian, African, Middle Eastern – they all know they have someone else to put down. Australian indigenous people are at the bottom of the pile. They are abused, tortured and killed by police with impunity. They are treated with disdain, ignored, insulted, manipulated and used. They are ridiculed in public but more in private by people who should know better.

It’s Australia’s shame. I’m ashamed of it. It’s really way past time to start doing something about all tiers of racism in Australia, but especially when it comes to first Australians. 

Why not start with the most meaningful thing that needs to be fixed? Make the change first that will matter the most. 

Indigenous Australian lives matter!

101 Street at 111 Avenue

Update: The city has fixed this! WOW! Sometime in early 2012 it changed (I was away so I don’t know when), I have to give kudos for fixing the problem, but the messages still has to be – think about this in the first place, please!

If you drive north or south on 101 Street through the 111 Avenue intersection you will know what I mean.

Not that I’m saying it’s happening, but is it possible that someone might design an intersection like this to cause fender bender’s? Hypothetically it might be someone who knew someone who worked for an insurance company! Not that I’m saying that’s what’s happening of course, but just trying to figure out any kind of logical explanation for the design (I’ll try to describe it below), it just seems like it’s only purpose is to cause accidents, but not serious ones. I’m just saying …

So imagine if you will, driving in the left lane down the road. The right lane as usual has cars parked, so you usually can’t drive there except during peak hour, normal Edmonton stuff. You approach 111th avenue going South. You’re going downtown. As you approach, slow down, light is red. Ooops – whats going on … this lane doesn’t go ‘straight through’ suddenly you realize that this lane has become a left turn lane. What? Damn! Ok – and a bunch of other people have the same problem – ok now everyone is trying to merge – lotsa unexpected merging. How many fender benders here? Insurance companies- kaching!!! But wait – thats not all!

Ok – you’re merged over, whew! Ok, light changes, into the next lane going south. WHOA what the? After you get through the intersection the lane does this weird wiggle back left to where it was, as if the ‘straight through’ you thought you were on kept going straight through. If you don’t wiggle you hit the guy in the right lane. Bang!, another fender bender, because of the cars parked along the right hand side even during peak hour. Wow – way to cause damage guys.  So – what is that for City Transportation Department? Saved some money? Can’t figure that? Traffic Flow? Dunno? Might have something to do with the buses? Definitely not safety for sure!

I just think the cost of insurance and accidents should be included when ‘costings’ of road decisions go to council!

Bill C-30 Section-34 without a Warrant

Copied and pasted direct from the bill, English and French – find the word “warrant” – anyone?

Paraphrasing:

“An inspector may enter any telecommunications service provider, examine any document or  information and take copies of anything they have without exception and without a warrant.”

Don’t beleive me? It’s right here – you can read it yourself if you don’t believe me – tell me that it doesn’t say pretty much exactly that? Find the word “warrant”? You won’t!  (You can find the entire bill here at the Government of Canada website if you want to check).

Really? And that’s ok with you?

If you don’t agree you might want to sign this petition:

OpenMedia Petition

34. (1) An inspector may, for a purpose related to verifying compliance with this Act, enter any place owned by, or under the control of, any telecommunications service provider in which the inspector has reasonable grounds to believe there is any document, information, transmission apparatus, telecommunications facility or any other thing to which this Act applies.
34. (1) L’inspecteur peut, à toute fin liée à la vérification du respect de la présente loi, entrer dans tout lieu appartenant à un télécommunicateur — ou placé sous sa responsabilité — s’il a des motifs raisonnables de croire que s’y trouvent des installations de télécommunication, des appareils de transmission, des documents, des renseignements ou des objets visés par la présente loi.
Accès au lieu
Powers on entry
(2) The inspector may, for that purpose,
(a) examine any document, information or thing found in the place and open or cause to be opened any container or other thing;
(b) examine or test or cause to be tested any telecommunications facility or transmission apparatus or related equipment found in the place;
(c) use, or cause to be used, any computer system in the place to search and examine any information contained in or available to the system;
(d) reproduce, or cause to be reproduced, any information in the form of a printout, or other intelligible output, and remove the printout, or other output, for examination or copying; or
(e) use, or cause to be used, any copying equipment or means of telecommunication at the place.
(2) Il peut, à cette même fin :
Autres pouvoirs
a) examiner les documents, les renseignements ou les objets se trouvant dans le lieu et ouvrir, directement ou indirectement, tout contenant ou autre objet;
b) examiner toute installation de télécommunication ou tout appareil de transmission ou matériel connexe s’y trouvant et lui faire subir, directement ou indirectement, des essais;
c) faire usage, directement ou indirectement, de tout système informatique s’y trouvant pour vérifier les données qu’il contient ou auxquelles il donne accès;
d) reproduire ou faire reproduire toute information sous forme d’imprimé ou toute autre forme intelligible qu’il peut emporter pour examen ou reproduction;
e) faire usage, directement ou indirectement, du matériel de reproduction et des moyens de télécommunication se trouvant dans le lieu.
Duty to assist
(3) The owner or person in charge of the place and every person in the place must give all assistance that is reasonably required to enable the inspector to perform their functions under this section and must provide any documents or information, and access to any data, that are reasonably required for that purpose.
(3) Le propriétaire ou le responsable du lieu, ainsi que quiconque s’y trouve, sont tenus de prêter à l’inspecteur toute l’assistance qu’il peut valablement exiger pour lui permettre d’exercer ses attributions au titre du présent article, et de lui fournir les documents, les renseignements et l’accès aux données qu’il peut valablement exiger à cette fin.
Assistance
Inspector may be accompanied
(4) The inspector may be accompanied by any other person that they believe is necessary to help them perform their functions under this section.
(4) L’inspecteur peut être accompagné des personnes qu’il estime nécessaires pour l’aider dans l’exercice de ses attributions au titre du présent article.