AMP'D

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Welcome to AMP'D; the on-line column all about electric flight! A continuous flow of new technology has rapidly changed the scope of electric flight such that formal organizations, manufacturers, vendors, hobby shops, and most of all, users like us are having a hard time keeping up. Even when your hobby is an obsession, as it is for me, the new products and changing technologies appear so fast that it can make most people confused. The flooding of various brand names from overseas helps provide competition that lowers prices and increases choices but it is often at a cost of confusion, service, and quality. At AMP'D, we will try to sort out these issues while focusing on electric flight. AMP'D will sometimes address social or organizational issues related to electric flight, but mostly, it is about new products and the application of new technology. Please feel free to ask questions or make suggestions by e-mailing me at greg@rcuniverse.com

Issue 23 Issue 23 - Today, the vast choices for electric power conversions not only decrease noise and vibration, but the cost has dramatically dropped. In this month's issue of AMP'D, we'll see how converting a 27-year old Culver Dart to clean electric power has revived the model for a second life.
Issue 22 Issue 22 - In the past, many R/Cers just didn't have the budget for giant scale projects. If you enjoyed the benefits of electric flight, the cost was even greater than a gas power system. A cost comparison of the power system used in this column with a few existing gas-powered alternatives reveals an interesting paradigm shift. In this month's column, my 42% Ultimate takes flight for only half the cost of its gas engine equivalent!
Issue 21 Issue 21 - One of the revolutionary changes in electric flight was the introduction of brushless motors and controllers to our hobby. Before brushless motors arrived on the scene, we struggled with various sizes of less efficient brushed motors that were often doomed to a limited lifespan from our abuse. Although commonplace in today's market, understanding how a brushless motor or controller works, is often a mystery to many users. Originally published in the AMA's Model Aviation Magazine in November, 2010, we rejoin Castle Creations's Lee Estingoy as he takes us through the brushless basics to inside the electronic speed control.
Issue 20 Issue 20 - When technology and globalization change at a rate that is faster than we can adapt to, we often find new choices in our hobby that simply didn't exist the year before. In the past, many R/Cers just didn't have the budget for giant scale projects. Perhaps this will change soon...
Issue 19 Issue 19 - Flying an R/C plane off water can be one of the best experiences you can enjoy in our hobby. When done correctly, the site of your plane gliding across the water is both mesmerizing and a great deal of fun! In this month's issue of AMP'D, we'll cover some of the key points in adding floats to any plane as well as some tips on successful flying off water, snow, and even grass!
Issue 18 Issue 18 - The Parrot AR.Drone is the first quadricopter that can be controlled by an iPhone, iPod Touch, or even an iPad. It is a groundbreaking device combining the best of many worlds, including modeling, video gaming and augmented reality (or AR). Equipped with two integrated video cameras, ultrasonic altimeters, gyro sensor, an accelerometer, and an intelligent autopilot, the AR.Drone is incredibly easy to fly both indoors or out. In this month's issue of AMP'D, we test the AR.Drone, and meet the gamers head on, as they invade the world of R/C!
Issue 17 Issue 17 - In the Northeast, the winter months tend to be long and cold. After the holiday season is over, the short and uninspiring grey days can take their toll if you don't keep yourself occupied. When springtime finally arrives, my buddies and I are very excited to get outside to fly our new models and favorites from the past year. In this month's issue of AMP'D, we test planes from the last few issues and give tribute to what we call, the flying season!
Issue 16 Issue 16 - A business jet is a smaller size aircraft designed for transporting groups of business people or wealthy individuals in a more private environment than a commercial airline. Sometimes referred to as a private jet, corporate jet, executive jet, or even a "bizjet", these types of aircraft may be adapted for other roles. In this month's issue of AMP'D, we look at several lower cost scale jet models that not only use Electric Ducted Fan (EDF) power but fly Business Class!
Issue 15 Issue 15 - Normally, this would be a loud cheer for a sports team, but in this column, "Go Panthers!" is all about EDF. If you're a fan for those early jet designs from the 1950s, you can build or assemble your own electric-powered F9F Panther from numerous types of materials. New, lower-cost EDF components are providing incredible power levels in any size R/C model. In this month's issue of AMP'D, we'll assemble several different types of Panther models ranging from lower cost foam designs to a higher-end German-engineered fiberglass model that will break 150mph!
Issue 14 Issue 14 - Although new market trends are lowering prices, most of us consider the cost of Lithium batteries to be a significant part of our electric flight setup. When our batteries loose capacity over time, or from abuse, we start to realize that it is important to maximize our investment. As I prepare for a long cold winter here in upstate, NY, my focus in this month's issue of AMP'D is to show some simple preventive measures that anyone can apply to slow the aging process of Lithium packs, especially during the off-season months when they may not even be used.
Issue 13 Issue 13 - If you want a larger model with more power or maybe a good building fix, you don't need to spend thousands of dollars on an R/C model. With the right skill set, and attitude, you can create something impressive enough to get noticed at any flying field. My focus in this month's issue of AMP'D is to show some higher power EDF models that, without breaking the bank, can be flown off grass, have functional retracts, and provide enough thrust to make that awesome jet sound!
Issue 12 Issue 12 - Our R/C hobby has so many facets that sometimes it can become overwhelming to take it all in. Recent advances in technology have allowed many of us to enjoy the hobby without being skilled in all aspects of it. Today, we can learn almost anything about R/C from the Web. We have on-line communities, clubs, cliques, forums, marketing, and sales. We can easily go on-line and spend our entire R/C budget for the season! In this months issue of AMP'D, we'll see how electric flight has improved the performance and appearance of several scale aircraft. Originally flown using glow engines, these beautifully detailed planes are now scale electric conversions.
Issue 11 Issue 11 - 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!
Issue 10 Issue 10 - Since mainstream EDF is relatively new, if you are a real jet enthusiast, it doesn't take long until your interest goes off the beaten path. You want a larger model with more power or maybe a good building fix. You can't see spending thousands of dollars on an R/C model but you want something between 3lbs and 10lbs with enough power to get noticed or even take-off with functional retracts. My focus in this month's issue of AMP'D is to introduce newer EDF enthusiasts that want to advance faster than the current mainstream market allows without breaking the bank. The choices for EDF are both vast and exciting when you start to venture off the beaten path.
Issue 9 Issue 9 - From the moment we start to fly, exhilaration is felt that becomes our addiction to the hobby. As soon as we master our first R/C trainer, we're on to the next level. Our excitement for an ever increasing challenge was what attracted us to this hobby in the first place. Every flight is a different experience and there are no guarantees. My focus in this month's issue of AMP'D is to reveal a few fast setups that range in cost and complexity but all with a common goal...to inspire your passion by creating an R/C model that satisfies the need for speed!
Issue 8 Issue 8 - In a fast-paced world, where our hobby time is limited, the invasion of Almost-Ready-to-Fly planes (or ARFs) has been a real blessing for many R/Cers. Other models are so popular that they may get lost in a "sea" of similar ARFs at the local flying field or R/C event. With only a minor change, here or there, your plane can stand out from the rest. My focus in this month's issue of AMP'D will not be to convert an ARF to compete with the Scale Masters or Top Gun craftsmen, but rather to inspire your imagination to create your own simple model changes that will help scale it up!
Issue 7 Issue 7 - VTOL is an abbreviation for Vertical Take-Off and Landing. VTOL describes fixed-wing aircraft that can lift off vertically. This classification includes only a very few aircraft like helicopters, autogyros, jump jets, and tiltrotors. Helium-filled balloons and airships are not normally considered VTOL. The following project was dedicated to our passion for making a functional VTOL design for the hobbyist using conventional components available at multiple vendors.
Issue 6 Issue 6 - I recently had an opportunity to see Dave Mathewson at a local club meeting where he was invited to give a presentation on his objectives and long range plans for the AMA. With an average AMA member age of about 58, has technology or social change outdated the need for the AMA? These questions, and many more, are investigated in this month's AMP'D as the AMA Gets Electrified!
Issue 5 Issue 5 - With brushless motors sustaining 30,000 to over 40,000 RPMs under load, EDF units started performing very well. We first saw a series of "fun" jets where the EDF unit was merely used to replace an existing prop design, almost as an afterthought. We also saw many streamlined jet designs that were powered by pusher props. Then, it finally happened...the first high performance ARF ducted fan jets hit the market. This month's issue of AMP'D is all about jet fever as EDF goes mainstream.
Issue 4 Issue 4 - One of the many advantages of electric flight is that we can tap into the main battery pack to supply power for the receiver and servos. Most Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs) have a built-in Battery Eliminator Circuit (BEC) that eliminates the need for a separate receiver battery pack - thus reducing weight and adding the convenience of recharging only a single battery. In this month's issue of AMP'D, we explore the need and advantages of why we use regulated power.
Issue 3 Issue 3 - For years now, I have heard concerns about motor cost and complexity from many R/Cers wishing to try electric-powered flight. The market has responded with lower prices through competition, reduced complexity through outrunners, and even “combo” packages of matched components that work together. This month's issue will address motor selection confusion.
Issue 2 Issue 2 - When it comes to making electric conversions easier, I am always eager to use new products in my next project. This month's column shows a few of these items that have helped make it easier for me to fly electric and "arm the big boys".
Issue 1 Issue 1 - Welcome to the first issue of AMP'D; the on-line column all about electric flight! A continuous flow of new technology has rapidly changed the scope of electric flight such that formal organizations, manufacturers, vendors, hobby shops, and most of all, users like us are having a hard time keep. At AMP'D, we will try to sort out these issues while focusing on electric flight.