John's model airplane projects
Last Down XL (from Dymond Modelsports)
I purchased my Last Down XL (110" wing span) at Dymond Modelsports while on a visit to San Diego. If you are in the area, I highly recommend that you visit their store - they have a good selection of ARF gliders of all varieties, and stock a lot of hard to find glider/electric specific items. The Last Down XL is Czech made, and I have subsequently discovered that Dymond is about the only US supplier of this kit. The plane comes almost completely assembled, and it wasn't too hard to get into flying condition (although the instructions are in German so you pretty much have to go by the pictures). For my purposes this is an ideal model: it has a thin wing section, giving it good penetration in wind, and yet the plane flies with a surprising docility and stability. The construction is strong and rugged (wing is sheet balsa over built-up wood), and the cockpit in the fiberglass fuselage is unusually roomy (plenty of room for extra avionics!). For power, I installed a Hacker B-40+gear drive pulling an 18X10 prop, with 4 or 8AH X 11V LiPoly battery packs. With the 8AH battery pack, I estimate that the glider could stay aloft for 2-3 hours.
Below are some images I captured when I installed a wireless video pod on the Last Down and flew it at Lake Burnaby Park in Vancouver BC. The video quality is not great - partly due to the low camera resolution, and partly because the video signal was poor (broken antenna lead)
HiFlight Mirage (short kit from Isthsmus Models)
The stock Mirage is a 112" “floater” designed in the 1970s. It has a super lightweight all-wood construction, and is very stable. The boxy wooden fuselage is very roomy, especially with today's RC harware. I modified the design a bit: added spoilers on main wing panel and 6” to each tip to bring the WS up to 124”, converted to a composite re-inforced V-Tail, and added a Hacker B-40 power system to the nose (running off high discharge LiPolys). Despite all the mods, the plane still flies very much like the stock version I built when I was a kid. The high wing loading brings up the speed a bit and it isn't quite so forgiving on tight turns, but is very stable and glides a long time.
A Todd's Models kit. The Tiny X is a lightweight, highly aerobatic plane that can be flown indoors, and outside in very constricted spaces. I am using a GWS twin motor EPU.
A 1.5m Polish kit I purchased from SOBOX planes at the NEAT fair in the fall of 2002. This little guy is very tough, fast, and maneuverable – not exactly a thermal ship, but if you can find a slope with decent lift, watch out! The kit comes with two nose cones: one for gliding, the other for an electric motor mount (glider nose shown below). I direct drive Mega motor with Graupner CAM 7-4 folding prop in the motor nose. Not much room in the fuse though – even without the case, my Hitec 555 RX barely fits in there!
Bought and assembled in the summer of 2002. I have had a lot of fun with this little foamy plane! Now, after some hard flying it's a little banged up, but still flying strong.
In the fall of 2002 I purchased a 2.4GHz wireless video system from Black Widow AV. This is a nice system and has good range (at least 500').
I put the camera in a cockpit mount for the Zero:
Here are some videos I recorded recently:
10/15/2002: First video flight, not much going on, just buzzing around a big field at low altitude. Some good scenes of Bob Chiang and I standing by my car. WARNING: this is a big file, not recommended for people with modem connections!
10/18/2002: Second flight of the day in a smaller field than the previous recording. It was really windy and bumpy that day, and my landing was, well, shall we say not one of my best! No harm done though. I encoded this video at higher compression, but it's still big, so be prepared for a wait if you are on a modem.