Monday, May 23, 2016

Flying the Weasel TREK !

The maiden flight happened on a south slope by a sunny weather, but when I arrived at the top, the wind was more from west, and very weak. I moved to the west side of the slope where the slope angle is almost flat. Anyway, I could test the Weasel in pure thermal flight conditions and have been very positively suprised. From the first launch, she flew like a charm, no trim needed, recommended settings are perfect. Despite the light weight of 290gr, she has a better lift-to-drag ratio and penetrates better thanks to the combination of the light weight and lower camber of the airfoil, so I could fly very far, transition from one thermal to another very easily, cover lot of distance, like I was piloting a larger sailplane. During the afternoon, I did some very good gain of altitude starting from very low and finishing at 100 to 150m few minutes after. It is true that weasel is desmontrative and indicate clearly the lift which make the thermal hunting easier. In addition, the finger hole at the bottom of the skid provides a very good grip and allow to launch very strongly which help in small conditions. The lift-to-drag ratio is very noticeable with the ground effect when you land and can surprisingly cover a longer distance than expected.

In higher wind condition, the Weasel TREK shows her DNA and wilder temperament. Here again the low camber section provides a better speed range, in all situations. Nose and control surface weight reduction improve the pitch response, so give more manoeuvrability. Same on the roll axis with a crisper response. As you can guess from this, aerobatic capabilities are therefore very good, with much easier and effortless inverted flight, more axial rolls and step rolls, loopings , reversal. But also all these improvements make the Weasel TREK easier to fly VTRP (aerobatics close to the ground), helped with her compact size. In top of this, I found her to have a much better energy retention, in turn and also for vertical manoeuvers, despite her light weight. This is a very good characteristic, which is not easy to obtain ! She carries the 50gr ballast easily but could carry much more weight when the wind is above 10+ m/s.

Finally this new Weasel TREK is a "boosted" and "over vitamined" Weasel version with a wider flying envelop from low conditions to medium breeze, more agile, faster, more aerobatic and provide the same amount of fun and adrenalin whatever the lift ! The Weasel remains definitively one of my favorite slope glider !

and a video filmed the same day:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Weasel TREK: Light speed assembly !

In fact we cannot really talk about assembly as it takes 25 minutes to have it ready, no glue is needed. This is faster than some RTF kit.

The work consists mainly in

  • installing the 2 servos in their location, servo arm at the neutral position. I use some UHU glue to secure, but this is not necessary, there are 2 transparent tape pieces to cover and maintain in place the servos.
  • route the servo wires to the radio compartiment
  • tape the velcro on the nose and on the battery to secure it
  • install the plastic clevises on the control rods.
  • install the 2 screws on the joiner lock system (same as the Alula TREK)
  • No lead needed in the nose for the CG balancing, I even had to move back the battery by 5mm.

If you want some colors, acrylic paint in spray will do it easily. I used some masking paper tape. This is clearly longer than the assembly itself, but she deserves it !

On the balance, she weights 290grs vs the 330grs of the Weasel Black Edition. Additional ballast is about 50gr, perfectly centered on the recommended CoG.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Weasel TREK: Kit Overview

I just received one of the very first kit of the Weasel TREK. She arrived in a very nice orange box, that will be much more convenient to carry it.
This new weasel seems very similar in term of planform, but probably has different airfoils. The visible differences are:

  • Elevons are moulded, not balsa. they seems stiff enough when I manipulate them.
  • Like the Alula TREK, she has a canopy giving a full access to the radio compartiment and a plastic landing skid to protect the underside of the nose. the canopy is maintained in place by several magnets.
  • The spar is no more integrated during the moulding, but added/glued after.
  • The locking system is the same than the Alula TREK, and the joiner too.
  • The skid integrate a ballast compartiment able to receive 50g of lead. It also keep the finger recess for better launching
  • The fin is secured with a magnet.

In term of construction, spars, control horns, magnets, skid are all in place, which means a speedy assembly, around 30 minutes like the Alula TREK. The longer will be once again to decide about the color scheme and the painting :) ! I have few hours to think about it before to start the assembly.

Quality of the moulding and fit is as good as the Alula TREK, with a nice surface finish.

As option I received also the 750mAh NiMh battery and the 2 metal gears servos (12gr class servos), and the lead extension between the receiver and the battery.

The weight of the frame + radio equipment is 280grs, compared to the 360grs of my Weasel EVO (made from EPP). Light flying weight means better capabilities in light conditions, and better agility. I anticipate the Weasel TREK to be a nice aerobat, VTPR capable.

  • Wingspan: 900 mm (35.4 in)
  • Wing Area: 23.42 dm2 (363 in2)
  • Weight: 312-395 gm (11.5-14 oz)
  • Wing Loading: 13.3-16.9 gm/dm2 (4.6-5.6 oz/ft2)
  • Controls : 2 Channels (elevons)
  • Assembly: Under an hour (I would say 30 minutes)
  • Flight Style: Slope thruster
  • Wind Speed: 3-12 m/s (7-25 mph)
I'm very exited to test this new Weasel TREK as I really loved the previous versions. I had one Weasel EVO EPP in 2009, and I still have my Weasel Black Edition, so it will be an opportunity to test them side by side. Stay tuned for the assembly and the maiden that should happen this week-end !

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Flying session at Puy de Manse

Very nice but freezing flying session with friends near Gap last week-end. 15 to 20m/s of wind, with some gust at 25 m/s, and around 2°, but negative values with the wind. 1.5kg of Ballast in the Shinto, and some ligthning fast runs when the thermal was popping up. Landing was ok.

We got the snow on the way back to Grenoble near La Mure.

It is funny to see that camera cannot capture excatly the fluo orange color, making it darker and less flashy that it is in real. Something wrong with the camera sensor ?

Below is a short video showing the Shinto in a very fast run :

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Electric Sailplane Clinic 3 video review

This second educational video from Radio Carbon Art "Electric Sailplane Clinic 3" is dedicated to ALES/F5J and is a good prolongation of the F3X Building Clinic video I covered few weeks ago. This time, Paul Naton focuses on everything specific to this rapidly growing category that becomes, as it is based on simple rules and is, from my point of view, less elitist thant F3J. The video doesn't come back on wing servo installation for example as it is considered as "learned" thanks to the first video.

The video introduction is few secondes of nice action footages, with some onboard sequences. The plane presented/used in the whole video is an Explorer 3.8m from Nan Model. Then Paul covers a certain numbers of topics:
  • choice of suitable motors presentation, considered as references, evenf if today, the choice on the market is now plethoric, and fortunately for all kind of budget. Same for the ESC to associate with the motor. 
  • Few words on Lipo battery Backup Guard, if you are using a BEC and in case of BEC failure, so the 5V output will allow your flight system to land safely with total confidence, and avoid the low voltage and failsafe on the receiver. 
  • Then Paul speaks a bit about propellers, then presents some adequat servos to be installed in the fuselage, the receiver (and satellite) 
Before to start the installation, Paul determines the adequate layout to obtain the correct CG and avoid any post assembly balance lead,  and for this, go through a very detailed flying weight estimation. Then he presents the "Aluminium firewall", a robust and light aluminium motor mount and how to install it. The power setup installation (motor and ESC) follows, then the spinner with some hit and tips to obtain an efficient propeller retract along the fuselage, the same I used on my Electro Pike :)

Then comes the fuselage radio installation under the wings. The part will differ from one plane to another depending if a special compartiment exists or not. The present example is with a simple carbon plate servo tray.  The assembly being finished, the weight checking allows to compare with the initial estimation.

The second part of the video focuses on ESC programmation, how to choose the Lipo batterie (Curve, Reserve, Safe capacity) , voltage or HV / internal resistance / C discharge.
Then Paul presents an interesting tool called "Lipo ESR meter" to measure internal resitance and true C discharge, a good investment for people taking ALES and F5J very seriously.

After few words about charging technics and modern chargers, Paul explains how to track/monitor battery perfomances easily.  The following sequence is about Alti V4+ for ALES and F5J, Alti Micro, and CAM height limiter. Next is the presentation and use of ECalc for performance simulation based on the plane motor, etc ...

Before to go flying, Paul is doing a preflight checking, static test and result comparison. The last minutes of the video are again some flying nice action at the field, with an onboard camera with some close fly by or agressive short climbing to desmontrate what is achievable with a good power solution.

Like the first video, this second educational video is at the same level of quality, which means very professional, with very clear explanations, plenty of advises or recommendations. This is the perfect video for the modeller who has some basics in E-gliders but wants to start with a serious electro glider setup or even start ALES/F5J competition.  Electro Gliders require even more rigor and attention in their assembly and settings, because of the motor and associated power. If you do it right from the beginning thanks to this video, then you will be rewarded with many trouble free flights and will enjoy your plane !

More information on Radio Carbon Art website where you will find a wide choice of educational video covering almost all aspect of RC soaring, available in DVD or for download.

You can find a trailer of this video here "Electric Sailplane Clinic 3" Preview Trailer:

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Dream Flight Weasel TREK is landing soon !

The release is now iminent and the Weasel TREK should reach your prefered RC shop in the coming weeks (second week of May). My Weasel Black Edition will have some company soon !

Dream Flight released tonight the flyer that give some indications: Ailerons are moulded, not balsa, the canopy give an easy access to the radio components, it is possible to ballast. And the battery is NiMh 800mAh so plenty of flying time.

And better than a doc, a short video that says everything ! tons of fun in perspective !

[Video] Brive / Pinsac F3F league contest

Nice video clip from Thomas Delarbre done with a smartphone about the Brive / Pinsac F3F league contest.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Brive / Pinsac F3F Contest League

Super french league contest this week end in the west center of France in a new location (Brive / Pinsac). On Saturday, we got low wind, wrong direction and rain, but Sunday the sun was back and we could run 9 rounds at 21 pilots with strong wind from south east. According to the organisers we flew on the worse slope of the area but despite this, Julien Honor did a 30.17s time with his Alliaj HM. I can imagine the north slope with its 100m cliff émoticône smile !!!!
Thomas Delarbre finished 1st with a confortable margin, followed by me. Serge Delarbre, the father, completed the podium. Lots of sub 40s. New faces also who enjoyed F3F for the first time. Hope we will see them again this year.
I will be back next year for sure. Many thanks to Arnaud Leger and his club "Les Milans" for the organisation.
Anyway, the french league has a very nice selection of places/slopes/landscapes that make F3F a unique categorie unlike any other soaring categorie. Next stop of the league is in 4 weeks in Auvergne (Volcano area) at col de la croix Morand !

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Launching !

Arnaud Léger, THE launcher of the F3F french  national team in 2012, launching a 18kg Pilatus B4 at Pinsac slope in the west center of France after the F3F league contest. Arnaud is just an exceptionnal launcher combining the technique and the power.

La Muela F3F

After 21 years, La Muela is now for me a sort of pilgrimage. 1200 km from my home, but nice country with very different landscapes, very nice people, good food. This year I took some more days before the contest to visit Madrid and Aranjuez.

I also could have a practice day befoer the contest. Hopefully, I could arrive early because then the wing dropped, then raised, before to become crossed from the left. I could manage 2 hours of practice with my 2 Shintos.

Day 1 at La muela, and very challenging condiitions for the organisers. We installed the camp on the north slope before to move around midday on the south slope, start a round, stop the round, cancel the round, then move to the west slope and manage 2 rounds in very variable condition with some cross wind from the left. On the slope we can also follow because the organiser installed a Wifi router to conect directly to a web page and load the result few seconds after the end of the round. This is great !

Day 2: Despite the weather forecast was not encouraging we could complete 4 additional rounds on the south slope light to very light conditions (4m/s to 8m/s). Best time of the day is Gerardo I think with a 49s. The ranking has changed at the top with Carles Aymat taking the lead followed by Alvaro Silgado. I falled to the 3rd place but not far from the lead. As we say in french, "I eated by black bread" today, and flew a very nice 73s joker including a cut, with no ballast at all in the plane. Tomorrow will be the jugement day as conditions should be nice with more wind, still from south. Miguel told be he would like to do 6 additional rounds. Below few pictures taken today.

Day 3: The wind started slowly around 11am then raised progressively until we got massive air around 3 pm. We could do 7 rounds, so a total of 13 rounds. Some big thermals popped up time to time on top of the big air (between 11 to 15 m/s I think, as the anemometer was behind the edge). Alvaro Silgado, who flew consistently well, won the competition logically, followed by Carlos Cantero who started the contest with a zero flight after hitting the edge during the first round. I finished third after staying second for a while and fighting to go up, but I didn't get THE big air that could allow me to do a sub 40. Congratulations to the winner and also many thanks to the organisers for the excellent job during the 3 days ! La Muela remains THE contest to be at Easter ! See you next year !

Below is my photo album. For some of them, I used my 4K photo feature of the Lumix FZ1000 and it is so easy to catch the right instant and save the picture.

Carlos Cantero also posted a nice album:

Also below a nice video clip, thanks for sharing Carlos !

La Muela'16 from Carlos Bisky on Vimeo.