October 30

Radio Control Airplanes Safe Flying Practices

Over the years that I have been flying model aircraft I have observed that there model landing approachare basically two kinds of pilot in the field of model aviation. 1) Those who almost expect to crash their planes and don’t seem to care or accept it as an inevitable part of the hobby. 2) Those who see crashes as upsetting, remorseful and a wasteful occurrence.

This difference is all down to ones attitude to adopting radio control airplanes safe flying practices.

Let me give you an example. Some years ago I was watching an experienced very competent flyer making a fully controlled landing approach. As he brought his model over the threshold of the field a wind shear caused his plane to suddenly drop into the long grass a few yards short of the landing strip.

“Oh dear! that was bad luck” was my immediate comment. “No” he responded, “My bad flying.”

This sort of honesty and acceptance of responsibility for the mishap typifies the attitude of an accomplished pilot.

Attitude To Model Preparation

What we are really talking about is ones mental attitude to flying.

If you have the opportunity take the time to watch experienced display pilots and the way they approach their responsibilities. From building to maintenance to pre-flight preparations followed by post flight examination, the approach of such calibre pilots is exemplary and focussed totally on SAFETY.

You will find that if there is anything about their model or the prevailing flying conditions that doesn’t comply with their safety requirements, they will not fly. Every aspect of model safety will be checked and double checked.

If action can be taken to rectify whatever is abnormal, it will be undertaken so long as the final pre-flight checks can be satisfactorily completed.

Now compare this with the average club flyer whose pre-flight checks comprise banter with his flying mates, emptying his bladder behind the nearest hedge, mounting the wing on the fuselage, fuelling up for a nitro/glow model or fitting a lipo into an electric model.

Next he grabs his transmitter and heads for the starting area or straight to the take-off point (electric). Next minute he’s up and away. For some unaccountable reason, the plane suddenly rolls inverted and plummets to earth.

Oh! shock, horror, what a shame, Oh well, these things can happen at any time eh?

These two examples, although the latter maybe a little exaggerated, typify the difference in attitude between the two pilots. Display pilots models rarely crash because they take all necessary precautions to prevent them doing so. Many club pilots, on the other hand, crash frequently because they allow it to happen.

Check And Double Check

There is an old saying that goes “Accidents don’t just happen, they are caused”. The causes may be numerous but by taking every precaution to eliminate as many as possible we can reduce the chances of accidents happening.

Your checks should begin before you even leave home. Examine your plane(s) and radio transmitter. check that you have fully charged batteries in the transmitter, the receiver battery(s) are charged and, for electric flyers, check your lipos have all been charged.

Once you have arrived at the field and unloaded your kit, check every single piece if your model before attempting to assemble it.

Check all the servos are tight in their mounts, output arms and servo installationlocating screws are all tightly screwed in, clevises are properly connected and retainers are in place. Check the integrity of the pushrods and ensure there is nothing fouling their movement. Make sure all wires and servo leads are correctly connected and tidy inside the fuselage. Make sure none of them can interfere with the servo output arms or pushrods.

If your plane is nitro/glow powered ensure there has been no ingress of fuel within the fuselage. Check for anything that may have worked loose since the last flying  session so there should be no unidentified rattles or bangs. In other words check and check again.

This is your model that you have spent good money on and there is no excuse for you neglecting to ensure it is ready to fly safely. My advice would be to make a list of the checks you need to do at each flying session and mount it  on a card to be kept in your flight box. This is exactly what full size pilots are expected to do.

The hardest part of all this is that if you do find something that may cause a problem, unless you can effect a fully acceptable repair at the field, you must resist the temptation to fly.

If you find anything loose or insecure and different to what it was at the last session, DO NOT FLY until you have found out why, rectified it to your satisfaction and obtained a second opinion as to its safety. Your plane is a mechanical contraption that cannot repair itself. You are responsible for making sure it is totally safe to operate.

Preparing To Fly

At the risk of becoming tedious, once you have fully assembled your plane, check it again. Correct wing location and security, control surface connections all solid, covering intact and tail assembly all sound and secure.

Don’t forget the electrics, a radio failure is almost certain to result in re-kitting your plane. Although you checked that your receiver battery was charged when you left  home, be sure to re-check it before you fly. NiCad and NiMH Batteries can fail to hold their charge so put your battery checker across them to be certain they have held up. You do have a battery checker, don’t you? If not, get one, it will be money well spent. Battery Tester

If you are in the USA you can purchase this item on-line by clicking on the image to the right. UK purchasers need to click on this link:-

Battery Checker/ Capacity Controller

Control Checks

Now is the time to do a range check. The last time out everything was fine but don’t assume that nothing has changed since that time. Remember, safety is paramount!

Solicit the help of another flyer and carry out this check in line with the instructions with your radio gear.

OK, that done, now you can check that the control surfaces are all moving in the correct orientation. Ailerons are particularly susceptible to becoming reversed. Left stick movement should cause the left aileron to rise, conversely right aileron stick should cause the right aileron to rise. Now operate the rudder left and right and make sure that is correct. Finally Elevator, up is up and down is down.

Whilst making these checks ensure that there is no binding or excessive strain on the servos. A stalled servo will very quickly drain your receiver battery or put extra load on the Battery Eliminator Circuit (BEC) in an electric model.

Only one more thing to check before you fire up and that is the integrity of the propeller. Are there any chips or nicks on the blades. Anything that causes the propeller to be out of balance can result in excessive vibration that will be detrimental to the airframe and possibly the radio gear.

If you find any such damage change the propeller immediately. What do you mean, you don’t have a spare! Propellers are disposable items prone to damage so you should always have at least one spare for each model in your fleet.

For students Only

If you are learning using a ‘buddy box’ system ensure your transmitter is set up exactly as your tutor’s transmitter. It is not unusual for one or more of the controls to be reversed on the slave compared to the master transmitter so check each one.

Flight Ready

Now, providing you haven’t found any reason to ground your plane, you are ready to go fly – OR ARE YOU?

Just because your model is in flight ready condition, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are. You need to be in that state of mind we call ‘Positive Mental Attitude’ together with adequate training.

Let me explain; I was once asked to teach a young guy how to fly an rc plane. He had bought a smallish electric Piper Cub in ARTF format (approximately 1M wingspan). I suggested we take it to the flying field and I would test fly it for him first of all.

The plane proved to be a nice little flyer and having trimmed it out I let him take over the transmitter for a minute or so whilst being ready to take it from him should the inevitable emergency arise. He coped reasonably well at first but as soon as the plane turned to fly toward him he naturally became disorientated so I quickly took over.

After this first trial flight we discussed the effect of reverse orientation and he seemed to grasp the concept. He only had the one battery so there was no chance of a further flight on this occasion. we agreed to meet again in a weeks time for further tuition.

The evening before our next session I  called him to confirm arrangements. He was distressed to tell me he had tried to fly the plane himself and had totalled it during an attempted hand launch.

This example just demonstrates that although attitude is important, so is experience and capability. This guy had seen me fly the plane and, not wishing to crow, made it look easy. He believed he could emulate my skills and (despite my warnings not to try going it alone) as a result wasted his model.

Ways To Crash

  1. On Take-Off   This usually happens for one of three reasons:

             a) By hauling the plane off the ground before sufficient airspeed has been attained.

             b)  Losing control to difficult wind  conditions.

             c)  Mishandling an engine failure after take-off (EFATO).

     2.  Disorientation or Structural Failure   The first of these comes down to insufficient training and practice whilst structural failure is incurred because of the pilot’s failure to appreciate the limitations of the model or because it has not been adequately checked for structural integrity prior to flying.

      3.  During the Landing Phase   Again, this is often as a result of disorientation, lack of or excess speed on approach or lack of appreciation of the prevailing air flow across the landing strip.bad lnding approach

Overcoming these problem areas is in essence a matter of Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) and Training.

The training aspect comes down to getting loads of practice, listening and learning and PATIENCE. There is no excuse for neglecting any of these  components.

An important part of good training is the PMA taught by your tutor. No student should be exposed to the attitude that if a model crashes although it shouldn’t have happened, its only a model. ONLY A MODEL?

What about the waste of time, money, materials, etc. that comes from crashing an ARTF trainer. This alone is painful enough. Consider if it was a larger plane that crashes into an innocent bystander who could well be killed!

Do we still use the excuse -‘Its only a model?’

For this dramatic reason it is absolutely essential that the last check you should make is your own ATTITUDE.

To emphasise this point I will refer back to the first section of this post and the example of our experienced pilot. He demonstrated an exemplary attitude by accepting responsibility for the poor arrival of his model in the long grass despite the adverse conditions. He didn’t shrug his shoulders or try to pass the buck.

I hope there is some information above that will help you approach your flying with a great attitude that causes you to consider not only your needs but those of the public and other flyers in your proximity.

Food for thought:- The majority of insurance claims in modelling circles involve planes landing on cars!

Please feel feee to share this post with anyone you think it could help. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to visit my website: www.rookiercflyer.com especially if you are a ‘rookie’!

Chat soon.

Colin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 23

RC Brushless Outrunner Motors Testing – Wattmeter

The Essential Digital Power Meter

Digital Wattmeter
Digital Wattmeter

A “Wattmeter” is an invaluable, and inexpensive piece of measuring equipment. It is the best way of ensuring that your rc brushless outrunner motors and associated electric power train is correctly matched.  All of the components within an electric power train (Motor, ESC & Lipo) are designed to operate within specific parameters, and we need to ensure that our system is going to produce the power we are looking for without exceeding the upper limits of these parameters.

In order to test your setup before you commit the model to flight you need to have some method of checking the various power consumption components. This is exactly what a Digital Power Meter or Wattmeter does.

Using Your Wattmeter

Here’s how it works. You will have seen in the main website under “Installing Electric Motors” how the motor, battery and ESC all connect up.

The Wattmeter is temporarily inserted between the battery and the speed controllers’ main cables and will provide you with a readout of exactly how much Current your power train is consuming, how many Watts of power the system is providing, and also how many Volts the battery is maintaining when under full load.

watts up meterIf you look at the image on the right you will see that the meter is reading a Voltage of 11.93V. This probably tells us that a 3cell lipo battery is supplying volts to the circuit.

Next we see that the current being consumed is at 2.87 Amps. So if we multiply 2.87 x 11.93 we get a value of Watts = 34.2391 Watts. Our meter only has three digits to display the watts so it gives us 34.2W. this is more than adequate for our purpose.

You can ignore the Ah figure at this stage but for the inquisitive amongst you, this is the value of current being consumed each hour and is determined by the length of time this current has been drawn from the power system.

Let us  quickly look at the circuit that is used to take these measurements.Wattmeter Diagram

This simplified diagram shows the supply from our Battery and the load which comprises the ESC and Motor. The current (A) in Amps is measured in the positive line. The Voltage (V) is measured across the positive and negative lines. The product of these two values appears as W (Watts). All of this takes place inside the Wattmeter and is shown digitally in the display.

A Practical Exercise

Normally the rig is secured safely on the bench or in the plane, and the throttle is advanced (ensure you stand behind the prop / fan and that if the worst happens and the prop flies off, it will not damage anything).

The following diagram shows the correct position of the Wattmeter in relation to the other components.

Wattmeter circuit

Let the motor run for around 30 seconds or so, and make a note of the figures mentioned above as shown on the wattmeter display.

Current (Amps) =

Volts (V) =

Watts (Volts x Amps) =

The figures are likely to fluctuate a little during the test, but you will get the trend. One of the main things this will show for you is the power (Watts) that the set up is producing. You will see that I have given you the components that need to be multiplied together to give the Watts

Watts are derived from multiplying the Volts of the battery (under load) by the Amps consumed.

W =V x I (I is the symbol for current, or amps).

The more Volts you have the higher the Watts or the more Amps you have the higher the Watts.

Selecting A Propeller Using Your Wattmeter

Assuming that the battery you select is not likely to be changed for a higher voltage version, then changing the propeller is the biggest single factor in affecting the current that the motor will consume.

Let’s say your motor is designed for a 6 X 4 prop, on the chosen battery, but you want to try and get a little more thrust, or climbing performance from your setup. With the meter in circuit, you could now fit a slightly larger diameter propeller, and monitor the current being drawn.

Now you can watch the display and see the Amps that the motor is pulling and the Watts being produced, and therefore ensure you do not “over prop” the motor to the point where the maximum figures allowable are exceeded.

These maximum figures are also applicable to your battery, and your speed controller, and indeed exceeding any or all the limits of these items could prove very expensive, or even dangerous.

Saving Money

The modest cost of a suitable digital power meter or wattmeter will be recouped the very first time you use it and discover that your current consumption and resultant power figures are beyond the maximums allowed for your power train. Without it you could be in for a great deal of heat and smoke and a major replacement expense for your rc outrunner motors circuit components.

You can obtain a Wattmeter on-line by clicking this link:-

RC Wattmeter (USA) or RC Wattmeter (UK)

This is probably one of the most important posts I will offer, especially if you intend to fly electric planes. I hope you have found it useful and will share it with others. Please don’t forget to visit my website: www.rookiercflyer.com for everything you need to know about starting up with RC model planes.

Be safe and Enjoy your flying.

Colin

 

October 16

How To Solder Wires

 

There is going to come a time when every RC Rookie, especiallySoldering Bullet connector if going down the Electric Power route, will need to put a new connector on a Battery, an ESC or a Motor so this post is aimed at giving all the information you will need to become proficient in the basics of how to solder wires.

This guide focuses on soldering for the beginner and explains how to solder a variety of plug, sockets and wires using a standard soldering iron and the essential accassories. Soldering can seem daunting at first but if you give it a try you will see that it’s quite simple to do.

  Soldering a Bullet Connector

Soldering is the process of joining pieces of metal together. Soldering occurs at relatively low temperatures  as compared to brazing and welding, which are processes where the metals are actually melted and fused together at higher temperatures. In soldering a filler material called solder becomes liquid, coats the pieces it is brought into contact with, and is then allowed to cool. The two materials are joined as the solder cools and hardens.

Soldering creates an electrically conductive strong bond between components and can be separated or desoldered if you should ever want to disconnect two items previously joined together. It’s great for joining electrical components and wires together. Almost every joint and component assembly in your Radio Control and associated equipment involves soldering.

What You Will Need

Having the right tools for the job effects the quality of the work being done. You will need solder and a heat source to melt it. The following are the basic items you will need.

1. Soldering iron
Although not the only way to solder, most people opt for using a soldering iron. This is a great heat source that heats up and cools down reasonably quickly and can maintain a pretty constant temperature. A medium wattage iron (around 40 to 60 Watt) is what I use for the gauge of wires most commonly associated with model plane power systems. With careful application this type of iron can be used for most of the situations you will encounter. You can buy one on line by clicking this link:- US soldering Iron 60W or from a UK supplier through this link:-  UK Soldering Iron 60W

Typical Soldering Iron & standA Typical Soldering Iron and Stand

2. Solder
There are many kinds of solder available. They come in different thicknesses  but for most modelling applications a reel of 1mm to 1.5mm is most suitable. Most solder is made from a combination of tin and lead – it’s about a 60% tin, 40% lead mix depending on what solder you are using. Recent legislation has ruled that the lead content should be phased out of commercially available solders and it is now easy to find the lead-free versions which are safer to use.

Some solders will contain a small amount of silver. This pushes the melting temperature up a bit, but the silver helps the solder to flow and makes a stronger joint. When buying solder check that the type you are buying is a “rosin flux cored” version. This avoids the necessity of buying a separate rosin flux to encourage the solder to flow between the components being joined.

Flux Cored Solder

A Coil of Rosin Cored Solder

3. Soldering Iron Holder and Cleaning Sponge
It is helpful to have a safe place to put the soldering iron down when not in use. A soldering stand safely holds the iron and gives you a place to clean the tip. Some soldering irons come with their own holders.  The stand isn’t a necessity for learning how to solder, but it certainly helps.

soldering iron standSoldering Iron Stand With Bit Cleaning Sponge

4. Tools to Work with Wires
You will need some basic tools to help you when soldering. These consist of wire cutters, a wire stripper and needle nose pliers. Wire cutters and strippers can be obtained as a single tool.

5. “Third Hands”
You have to hold the soldering iron with one hand and the solder wire in the other, so it really helps to have something else to hold the components you’re actually trying to join. You can use a small vice, alligator clips, clamps, or even some tape to hold things in place if you need to. The third hand is generally a good investment if you are going to be soldering regularly. You can purchase one in the Us from this link:-  US Third Hand  or from a UK supplier here:- UK Third Hand

Third Hand

The “Third Hand”

7. Ventilation
It’s really not a good idea to breathe in the fumes produced during soldering. Any kind of natural ventilation or a small fan set to blow away these fumes will help. Even leaving your work area door open helps.

8. Safety Goggles
Although not essential, safety goggles are a good idea. Little molten bits of solder tend to fly out of the soldering joint when you’re feeding in the solder, and if they were to land in your eye they could cause damamge needing medical attention. Better safe than sorry.

Lets Get Started Learning How to Solder Wires

Once you have all your tools and materials ready, lets pretend that you are a pilot and carry out a pre-flight/solder checklist.

First things first, plug in the Soldering Iron and wait for it to get hot. The tip of the soldering Iron gets quite hot – up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit (427 degrees Celsius), so don’t touch it. I know this seems obvious, but people do seem to burn themselves at some point while soldering. 

If you’re using a new soldering iron you will need to “Tin” the tip. Providing you keep the tip of your iron clean, you should only have to do this the first time. To “Tin” the iron apply a small amount of solder to the hot tip of the iron before you start working.  Once you start using the iron, it will usually have some solder on it already and be ready to go. All it will require is a wipe clean on the wet sponge in your stand so that the solder is bright and shiny.

Now that your iron is hot you are ready to solder. Let us start by doing a very simple joint with two pieces of copper wire and twisting them together. First you need to remove about 1 inch (25mm) of the protective sleeve from each piece of wire. You will notice that the cores are bright and shine because there is no oxidation to dull them. It is important that the cores remain like this so the sooner you can make the joint the better and it helps if you can twist then together with a piece of cloth between your fingers and the wires or use a pair of pliers to make the twist. This ensures that impurities and dirt from your skin do not contaminate the joint area.

Twisting wires togethercool.Twisting Solid Core Wires for Soldering

Having twisted them together as shown here you are ready to solder. Take a short length of solder from your reel and wind it into a coil so that you can hold the coiled bit. You should have a short lenght protruding so that you can touch this to the wire joint. Put the two twisted pieces of wire into the jaws of your “Third Hand”.

Clean the tip of your soldering iron on the sponge and immediately place it under the twist in the wires. Allow a couple of seconds for the heat to permeate the wire then touch the solder to the top of the joint. If it is hot enough, the solder will melt into the twisted joint and coat all of the exposed wire. Remove the solder and the iron tip and wait a few seconds for the wires to cool enough for the solder to reset and become hard.

Don’t be tempted to touch the joint at this point, it will still be too hot to handle. Once it has set you can speed up the cooling process by placing the jaws of your pliers aroung the joint to act as a heat sink. When it is cool enough to handle remove the wires from the jaws of your “Third Hand” and give the wires a good pull to prove that the joint is solid.

soldered twisted wires

Well done, you have made your first soldered joint!

The secret of good soldering is to allow your iron to get as hot as possible, ensure the surfaces to be soldered are completely clean and remove the solder and  heat as soon as the joint is coated.

Now you know how to solder wires together and to connectors. Next time we’ll look at some of the specific joints and other situations that you will encounter that require soldering when preparing electric flight components.

I hope this post has been useful for you. Please feel free to share it with others and don’t forget to visit my website: www.rookiercflyer.com especially if you are new to flying RC planes.

Colin

October 9

Understanding Wire Gauge Current Rating

The wire most frequently used, and recommended, for electric motor power systems is often just called Silicone Wire.

8 awg silicone wire

The wire is a flexible, multi-strand wire with a silicone insulation sleeve that gives it its name.

This post is aimed at you understanding wire gauge current rating when connecting Lipo Batteries to Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs)

Determining Wire Gauge Rating

The size or “gauge” of the power wires between the Lipo Battery and Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) is based on:

1)  The application

2)  The anticipated Maximum current

3)  The length of the wire from the BATTERY TO THE ESC AND BACK TO THE BATTERY ( In other words, it is the total length of the positive and negative leads combined).

This is an important consideration because the resistance of wire is directly proportional to this length and is responsible for reducing the voltage (volt drop) over longer lengths.

 Electrical Wire Gauge Chart

In North America and the UK, American Wire Gauge (AWG) is used to identify the wire ‘size’. The table below gives the conversion from AWG to Metric cross sectional area.

American Wire Gauge
(AWG)
Diameter
(inches)
Diameter
(mm)
Cross Sectional Area
(mm2)
0000 0.46 11.68 107.16
000 0.4096 10.40 84.97
00 0.3648 9.27 67.40
0 0.3249 8.25 53.46
1 0.2893 7.35 42.39
2 0.2576 6.54 33.61
3 0.2294 5.83 26.65
4 0.2043 5.19 21.14
5 0.1819 4.62 16.76
6 0.162 4.11 13.29
7 0.1443 3.67 10.55
8 0.1285 3.26 8.36
9 0.1144 2.91 6.63
10 0.1019 2.59 5.26
11 0.0907 2.30 4.17
12 0.0808 2.05 3.31
13 0.072 1.83 2.63
14 0.0641 1.63 2.08
15 0.0571 1.45 1.65
16 0.0508 1.29 1.31
17 0.0453 1.15 1.04
18 0.0403 1.02 0.82
19 0.0359 0.91 0.65
20 0.032 0.81 0.52
21 0.0285 0.72 0.41
22 0.0254 0.65 0.33
23 0.0226 0.57 0.26
24 0.0201 0.51 0.20
25 0.0179 0.45 0.16
26 0.0159 0.40 0.13

You will notice that the smaller the gauge number, the larger the wire diameter.

Large gauge wire (small gauge number) can safely handle more current, over longer distances, with less voltage drop than smaller gauge (large gauge number) wire, but it is heavier. Wire that is capable of ‘handling’ the current (amps) without too much voltage drop also has to be sized for the aircraft.

Selecting Wire Gauge Amp Rating

AWG 12 wire would be useless in an indoor flier requiring only a couple of amps of current as it would be far too heavy. On the other hand, a giant scale model requiring 100 amps at full power would not work with AWG 12 wire. The resistance of the wire would create an unacceptable voltage drop and, depending on the wire’s insulation, it could melt.

Because we are usually running only a couple feet of wire in our applications, we can get away with using much smaller wire than we would if we were installing long cables.  The cross sectional area of cables is measured in “Circular mils”.

The ‘Circular Mil’ unit is calculated by taking the diameter of the wire, in thousandths of an inch, and multiplying it by itself. This gives a value that accounts for the cross-sectional area of the wire without involving π (Pi – 3.142). For example, a 20 gauge wire measures 0.032″ in diameter which is 32 thousandths of an inch, also known as 32 mils. If we take 32 x 32 we get 1,024 circular mils.)

Often, in RC applications, we can use 100 “circular mils” for every Amp of current or even 75 “circular mils” per Amp is acceptable in some circumstances.

Based on 100 circular mils per amp, an application requiring a maximum 50 amps needs 5000 circular mils of wire ( 50 x 100), which is equal to a 13 gauge wire. (From the above chart we can see that 13 gauge wire has a diameter of 0.072″  or 72 mils so 72 x 72 = 5184 which is the nearest size to the 5000 we require).

To be on the safe side, I would step that up to a 12 gauge wire which has 6,530 circular mils, and would provide 130.6 circular mils per amp with minimal weight penalty.

Wire Gauge/Current Rating

The above table gives wire gauges for specific current carrying capacity based on a very conservative 120 circular mils which give a very safe margin for error should larger currents occur in extreme circumstances.

The Power Wire and Power Connector Relationship

The list below shows the maximum wire gauge a given connector will physically accept. The manufacturer or supplier does not specify the current rating of their connectors based on the wire gauge current rating they accept. These ratings are specific to the connector only. It is always acceptable to use a smaller gauge wire with most connectors.

AWG       Name Of Connector
4              Progressive RC (PRC) 10mm bullet
6              6.5mm Castle polarized bullet, PRC8 polarized bullet, PRC6 bullet
8              PRC 8mm bullet, PRC6 polarized bullet, 6.5mm Castle bullet, 8mm Castle bullet
10            HXT 6mm, 6mm bullet, EC5, Anderson Power Pole (PP45), 5.5mm Castle bullet
12            Deans Ultra, XT-60, HXT 4mm, 4mm bullet, EC3, PP30
13            4mm Castle polarized bullet
16            PP15
20            JST-RCY
(PRC = Progressive RC)       (PP = Anderson Power Poles)

Additional Information

Anderson Power Poles call their connectors PP15, PP30 and PP45 and they are all rated to 55 amps

PP15s are suitable for AWG 20 -16,

PP30s are suitable for AWG 16 – 12,

PP45s are suitable for AWG 14 – 10,

Most ESC suppliers DO NOT state the wire gauge of the power leads. Some Lipo Battery suppliers DO advise the power lead gauge.

I hope this information will prove useful for some of you. If you like this post you will probably like my website: www.rookiercflyer.com especially if you are new to our hobby. Please feel free to share this with anyone you think may find it helpful.

October 2

RC Planes Beginners Choice – Seagull E-Pioneer

Seagull E-Pioneer

Electric flight grows stronger and stronger as each month passes. The new E-Pioneer from Seagull EP E-PioneerSeagull addresses the needs of the rc planes beginners fraternity who want a trainer that has the appearance of a typical Nitro/Glow powered model.

Even electric flight cynics and die-hard petrol heads are starting to admit that the gulf is narrowing and many are embracing the attraction of clean flight.

Seagull have made a few adjustments to reduce airframe weight a little. The E-Pioneer could just as easily have been designed for nitro/glow power, but isn’t.

This model has been designed as a dedicated electric powered trainer from the outset and despite the built-up construction, it lacks the fragility often associate with electric powered models of this class.

This Is Different

There is no foam in this plane, it is totally built up from balsa and ply. E-pioneer Nose attachmentThere’s a substantial dedicated space for the battery and motor drive components. This is definitely an out and out electric design.

As you open the box you’d be forgiven for thinking that you had received a damaged kit. Not so! It is intended that this model be broken down into its component parts for transport or storage.

The design of the model demonstrates some innovative thinking. Take, for example, the way the whole front-end of the fuselage (forward of the wing seat) is removable.

Similarly, the rudder and elevator servos are contained within the bolt-on fin and tailplane assembly.

The two-piece bolt-on wing panels and the large central fuselage access hatch all contribute to one of the most easily built aircraft I have seen.

Assembling the E-Pioneer

Our motor of choice, the N3548-800KV is ideal for this plane and E-pioneer Motor installationwas fitted to the set of pre-fabricated motor mounts  supplied to suit either an inrunner or, as in this case, outrunner motor. An APC-E 12″ x 6″ propeller was fitted.

Attaching the motor mount to the front bulkhead is the one and only necessary gluing experience in the entire build.

The lightweight wide chord wing measures over 61” in span making the E-Pioneer a good sized model.

The heavy duty undercarriage wires, decent size wheels and steerable nose leg mechanism all feel right for the model. There’s a reassuringly feeling of strength in these key areas. All of these features result in a model fit for purpose, be it bumpy grass strip or tarmac runway.

The removable front section, two-piece wing and tail mounted servos mean that you will need extension leads for your servos and possibly to take the signal feed from the receiver to the ESC. Be sure to use extension lead retainers on these joints to avoid loss of control mid-flight should connectors separate accidentally.

To avoid having to use a servo reverser you will need to select two servos that operate in opposite directions for the rudder and steerable nose wheel if you wish to operate them via a “Y” lead from the rudder output of the receiver.  Alternatively you can use one servo but ensure that the rudder horn is mounted on the appropriate side of the control surface to give the correct movement.

Nose wheel/rudder servo

Holes for the plastic control horns are pre-drilled and hidden under the covering so you’ll need to look closely to find them.

With the captive nuts for the tailplane pre-fitted and the top fuselage centre-section fitting nicely onto its magnetic catch, the model can be rigged in a little less than five minutes.

Select your servos carefully to fit the pre-cut holes in the airframe. The servo mounting plates are made from substantial plywood so enlarging these holes would not be easy.

Power Considerations

A three-cell Li-Po and a 12 x 6” prop needs a speed controller that will handle the job. A 60 Amp ESC is ideal for this power train and has proved to be so, providing a good margin for overload should it be necessary.

Seagull’s stated flying weight of 4 – 4.5 lbs is a little on the conservative side but so long as you achieve a weight of around 4.5 – 5 lbs you will be absolutely fine. In actual fact, the 600+ square inches of wing still make the E-Pioneer a bit of a floater.

 In The Air

The model is ideally sedate on three-cells and this would be my battery recommendation. The light weight and the low inertia means the E-Pioneer can be really flung around and a rookie pilot will have no difficulty in progressing from the first flight at the patch right up to ‘B’ certificate level. E-Pioneer in flight

The low weight means that the effect of low level turbulence in higher winds has to be watched. Aileron authority afforded by the narrow control surfaces mean the requirement to suddenly pick up a wing can cause moments of consternation when landing. Having said this, the yaw and pitch controls are very crisp, so the rate switches were employed for the first flights. The E-Pioneer’s direct rudder and elevator to servo control linkage system to allow a smooth, accurate feel when flying. 

The model tracks well and is easy to land. It is well suited for use on club grass strips and firm smooth runways alike and with its direct linkage steerable nose wheel, the ground handling is excellent.

It’s a little more control sensitive than an equivalent i.c. powered model which is down to the lower weight, but the smooth reliability of the electric powertrain generates real confidence.

The landing flare-out can cause the model to float on a little in a low headwind. Be aware that the externally mounted elevator servo is open to water spray. I gave it a quick spray of a silicone based spray to prevent ingress of any such water. Other than that the Seagull E-Pioneer is a fantastic model for the newcomer who wants to follow the electric route. Sticking with three cells and sensible servos will provide an ideal rc planes beginners choice.

 Datafile

  • Name: Seagull E-Pioneer
  • Aircraft type: ARTF electric trainer
  • Manufactured by: Seagull
  • Wingspan: 61/2″ (1560mm)
  • Wing area: 606 sq. in.
  • All-up weight: 5 lbs
  • Wing loading: 19oz / sq. ft.
  • Functions (servos): Aileron (2); elevator (1); rudder (1); nose wheel steering (1); throttle (0)

Should you wish to purchase this model, you can do so by clicking this link:-

Seagull E-Pioneer (UK)

or

Seagull E-Pioneer (USA)