An Aerobatic Design for Indoor Flying
One of the few kits that I have ever built is the Tiny from Todd's Models. I am mainly an ARF flyer but in my search for indoor aerobatic models, the results were slim. The Tiny came up as a choice for a proven outdoor performer in light winds. By building a kit, I knew that I could make it light and incorporate my own design changes.
After building my kit, I discovered an almost identical ARF version of the Tiny called the Triangle RC Street flyer. This is manufactured by TelTech in the Czech Republic and distributed in the USA by Hobby Lobby Int.
I wanted to use my spare Astro Flight "Firefly" motor to power the plane and I felt that if I kept the design very light that it should work just fine. The new metal gearbox on the 4:1 Firefly has doubled the power output of this tiny coreless motor. By choosing to use only 2 servos, one for both ailerons and one for elevator control, a light Firefly coreless motor, and 2 of the new 3.6 gram, 140mAh LiPoly cells, my Tiny was RTF (Ready-To-Fly) at only 3.6 oz!
Framing the Wing:
The instructions that came with the Tiny contained details for multiple variations to be built. The design itself allowed plenty of freedom for the builder to do their own customizing. In my design efforts to keep the plane light, I choose to use only a single servo for the ailerons and another for the elevator.
The wing is built up from CNC cut parts and checked for alignment
Building the Fuselage:
The carbon rod fuselage was very light yet strong. Initially, I mounted my Astro Flight Firefly motor using a rubber band, but later, after I discovered that I had a problem balancing the plane, I replaced the rubber band with some black trim tape and a little epoxy. This gave my model a better look and the motor a better mount. To combat my heavy tail balance problem, I extended the motor forward by inserting a second piece of carbon fiber tubing inside the main tube. This balanced the plane by extending the weight of the motor and 2-cell Lithium pack.
The carbon fuselage runs through the center of the wing
Using Lithium Polymer Cells:
I recently received a pair of the new Lithium Polymer (LiPoly) cells from Bob Selman Designs. One of these cells is almost equivalent to 3 of the 50mAh NiCd cells but only weighs about the same as a single cell. Put 2 of these LiPoly cells together in series and it can suddenly power my Firefly motor with only a 0.3oz increase in weight. Very light!
compliments of Graham Stabler)
When you compare this LiPoly pack to a 6-cell 50mAh NiCd pack that weighs 0.8oz, you can see why this new technology is exciting the world of micro-flight. My Tiny Ready-To-Fly at only 3.6oz including the LiPoly pack I was happy with this good start for my little indoor aerobatic flyer project.
My 2-cell 140mAh "LiPoly" pack weighs 0.3oz
For more information on the LiPoly cell and some other international charger vendors, please visit the Web site of Graham Stabler. LiPoly cells can also be purchased from Graham Stabler, Dynamics Unlimited, and Dynamic Web Enterprises.
Potenski Lithium Ion Charger for 1 or 2 cells
To charge my 2-cell LiPoly pack, I used the Potenski Lithium Charger sold at WildRC.com. This is Dan Kreigh's newly named company at the well known www.flyifo.com site. Same great service and management!
The Potenski 2-cell charger is also available at Hobby Lobby Int. (POT010)
Only two servos are used; one for the elevator and one for both ailerons
My finished Tiny from Todd's Models weighed only 3.6oz Ready-To-Fly (RTF)! The plane itself weighs 3.3oz and my new 2-cell 140mAh Lithium Polymer (LiPoly) pack a mere 0.3oz.
component to my very light Tiny is the 4:1 Astro Flight Firefly motor. It draws
about 700-800mA with a Gunther (5x4) "spoon" prop. It made for a perfect match
with the new 140mAh LiPoly cells since they can deliver up to 1000mA.
The Firefly-powered Tiny uses a GWS 6x3 prop
My new GWS 6x5 prop has perfect balance and feels like good power when throttled up. I measured the current draw at 850mA on a DC power supply with full power on the GWS 6x5 prop. This also includes the R4-P receiver and AF ESC since the measurement was done at the battery connection. The current rose to about 950mA when I moved both servos together at full power. This looks like a good design for both the Firefly and the LiPoly cells.
Another plane that
I often fly indoors is my 5.8oz Ultra-Lite Stick (ULS). The GWS S1 powered ULS
has more power than my AF Firefly-powered Tiny but my goal here is to create an
indoor aerobatic flyer than can be flown very slow yet still perform some simple
aerobatic rolls and loops. The ULS has rudder/elevator controls.
The 3.8oz Tiny sits next to my 5.8oz Ultra-Lite Stik and 5.9oz Tilde wing
The back parking
lot where I work is about twice the size of a full court basketball gym. I can
fly my ULS within the paved area very comfortably and within 1/2 the lot with
concentration. I had flown this model indoors last winter very successfully. My
Tiny can comfortably fly in 1/4 of the lot! It can fly very slowly due to the
light wing loading. It is a similar size to my ULS but has slightly more wing
area, more lift, and weighs 2 ounces less.
I could loop in a 3' diameter and easily circle in a 30' diameter. By using the dual rate settings, I could perform some rapid rolls and loops without losing much height. For normal flight, I would switch back to the reduced rates for more relaxed control.
I measured the LiPoly pack when I got home and it was still at 7.5v. Nowhere near the 3v cutoff mark (7.5/2cells=3.75v). This was the same experience that I saw with the Ultra-Lite Stik the day before using my 950mAh LiPoly pack. It stopped flying the plane well at around 7.5v. This data makes the LiPoly cells look very promising.
Verification with the Astro Flight Micro-Wattmeter:
I had ordered a new Astro Flight Micro-Wattmeter, and when it arrived, I re-measured the current draw using several props and the 2-cell 140mAh LiPoly pack. I also measured the current using a 6-cell, 50mAh NiCd pack.
PROP PACK CURRENT
I decided to use the GWS 6x5 prop. If it proved to be to brittle on those unexpected nose-ins, I would switch to the more durable Gunther 5x4 "spoon" prop.
I felt that I could actually fly my Tiny in a half-court size gym using the Astro Flight Firefly coreless motor. I was very happy with the duration and it ability to slow fly in a very small area. The light ship was not very powerful but had enough to perform simple aerobatics for indoor flying.
At quick check of the voltage on the 2-cell LiPoly pack after a 10 minute flight showed that it had a great safety margin from the cell bottom threshold of 3.0v. Using the 2-cell, 140mAh LiPoly pack would not be a problem for either current delivery at 1amp or for a minimum discharge limit of 3v.
I had a great deal of fun with this project! My rare opportunity to build a kit from balsa parts and then cover it felt very rewarding. Using a new combination of power components proved to work very well on the model and transform it into the indoor aerobatic flyer that I had been searching for.
Todd�s Models at: www.toddsmodels.com/index.html
Astro Flight Inc. at: www.astroflight.com/
Hobby Lobby International at: www.hobby-lobby.com/
Gordon Stabler at: www.indoor.flyer.co.uk/
Dynamic Web Enterprises at: www.smallrc.com/
Bob Selman Designs at: http://users.joplin.com/~bselman/
WildRC.com at: www.flyifo.com/
Birdworks at: www.harborside.com/~birdworks/bwtilde.html
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