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.


Monday, February 22, 2016

A smart Digital Incidence Meter

Let me introduce my version of the Digital Incidence Meter. The idea was certainly not to develop any electronic device but just to use what now everybody has: a Smartphone !!!

Over the past weeks, I tried several android applications and discover recently "clinometer" that is perfect for our use (

This is a free App: Because it is free, you will have some ads, but this is still only a small banner.
With my smart phone and this App in hands, I just needed to create the rest of the tool around it, which I did this week end. The tool is 3D printed and use a square tube 7.5x7.5 from Alfer.

Clinometer is precise enough (~0.1°), it is smooth, and you can calibrate it, so it is easy to measure the V-angle of a plane by setting the zero for the wing, then measure the tail angle.

The mobile holder can receive a smartphone up to 6 inches. This is a great re-use of you old smarphone for example !

Hope this will help lots of people !

Here are the STL files for download

Note: The STL files are free for personnal use, but any commercial use is stricly forbidden.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Monteynard Village and the lake from the sky

Monteynard is a small French village, located in the department of Isere and the Rhone- Alpes region, 787 meters above sea level. Its inhabitants are called the Monteynardons and Monteynardonnes . The municipality covers 10.7 km ² and 506 residents since the last population census dates back to 2007.

The village overlooks the lake of Monteynard-Avignonet, an artificial water reservoir for the Électricité de France power station on the Drac River. The lake was created in 1961, when the 145-metre-high dam was built. The lake is 10 kilometres long, and in some places up to 300 metres wide.

This lake is often windy and wavy. It is considered to be one of the best places for windsurfing and kitesurfing in Europe. It is also an important site for fishing, as it has a great variety of fish species. Swimming in the lake is permitted.

This afternoon, I drove there and had a super flying session with my Heron by a wonderful day and no wind at all. I did some aerial pictures with the mobius action cam.

Friday, February 19, 2016

[Review] Vagabond XL from Hacker Model


One year after releasing the successful VTPR EPP glider Vagabond, Hacker Model decided to create a revisited and larger version with a wingspan of 2 meters. When I saw first the specs, I told to myself, will this version still be a VTPR plane (Voltige très près du relief), which means "aerobatic maneuvers very near the ground")? What is the benefit is a larger wingspan? This is what I propose to discover in this review.

What is different?

Apart the wingspan, the length of the fuselage is the same. Comparing the fuselage shape side by side, the XL version has a bigger lateral area, a bigger fin and rudder. The elevator servo that was located at the front moved to the rear boom, close to the tails. This is a bit of deception, because first specs and pictures where displaying a pulley. I don’t know why this has been abandoned to be replaced by a more conventional control command. The wing features the same airfoil, with the wing tip extended to 2m. Ailerons are nearly 50% of the chord at the tip end! Finally, the Vagabond XL only exists in covered version unlike his little brother.

Kit Overview 

As expected with Hacker Model, the top quality is here and the kit is complete! First the wings are almost finished, covered with laminate film, just needing the servos, control horn and linkage installation. The fuselage arrives uncovered and needs some work: insert the carbon rods for the stiffness, the sleeves for the rudder and elevator control rods, the servos tray, the root section in the middle of the fuselage, the fin and the tails. It now has a tunnel in the boom for the elevator servo wire to reach the front servo tray where will be located the receiver. The tail re-uses the same principle, is still not removable, with some minor difference on the control horn. Overall, apart the elevator servo, the rest is the same, and the assembly is similar, but why change a well thought design?

Google photos album: Kit Overview

A quick assembly ...

The assembly is very similar to the Vagabond. Given that the fuselage needs more work, I started with it, by inserting and gluing in place some carbon rods to stiffen the boom. The fuselage must stay straight during this operation. The root rib is positioned carefully at the exact center of the fuselage line before to be glued with cyano. There is an additional plywood part on top of the rib that provides guiding to the locking inverted U part. The servo tray is then glued in place. I used an old 15mm metal gear servo for the rudder. I also glued additional small pieces of wood around the receiver to immobilize it well. I did a small support for the on/off switch.
On the tail, this time, I have been lazy and just glued the 2 halves together without making it removable. It is carefully glued together on a perfectly flat table with the center part, the control horn in place. Once finished, the tail is fixed on the fuselage with Cyano, then the fin.
The elevator servo is a digital 9gr and metal gear in order to provide speed and accuracy. The control rod is made from a piano wire. I glued the servo in place with cyano. The elevator servo mount would have been better secured I think with a small servo tray.
Let’s switch to the wings. This time, given the control surface area, I used strong 15mm servos, metal gear, even if they are not completely inserted in the wing thickness. As I had still some big and robust servo arms, I didn’t need to use the one provided in the kit.
At the opposite of the Vagabond, the XL accommodates itself very well with a 4 cells 2000mAh Eneloop battery which will give you plenty of flying time!
Final weight is at 830 grs, which is a bit above the indicated weight, but still light for this plane.

Flying the Vagabond XL

End of the summer and fall has been pretty nice for flying in the French Alps so I could fly it often, and compare it with the standard version of the Vagabond.
To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about the larger wingspan combined with the same fuselage length. From the very first minutes my doubts have flown away. The Vagabond XL is still very agile, but need a little bit higher speed to perform like the small version, this is normal.
In light conditions, the Vagabond XL shows better capabilities than his small brother, but compared to the SKG Swift from the same manufacturer, we can say that it is still not a marginal-lift flyer.
It performs best in vertical lift and light to medium breeze when it can chain all manoeuvers easily, carve along the slope edge, and fly inverted for ages. Wings are not bending thanks to the spar.
Vertical manoeuvers have a bit more amplitude. Knife edge flight is better and easier thanks to the larger lateral area of the fuselage. The flip is still not possible, the tail movement being limited by the servo maximum rotation.

Overall, I would say that the Vagabond XL has a larger flying envelop than the standard version, but at the opposite is a bit less VTPR or in other words “in-your-face” flying. This said, finally, I prefer the XL version over the standard Vagabond.

Google photos album: Flying the Vagabond XL

In conclusion

Finally, Hacker didn’t replace the Vagabond, but added a new plane to its product range, with little differences in term of flying performance. The kit quality is without any surprise. I only regret that the tail is not removable and that there is no pulley. Now it remains that this Vagabond XL is still very addictive and delivers tons of fun and pleasure. I often like to land my F3F competition planes to fly the Vagabond and “relax” …


  • Wingspan 2010mm 
  • Lenght: 990mm
  • Weight: 830gr
  • manufacturer: Hacker Model 
  • Price: from 150 euros 

My Settings :

  • CG: 100mm (92 to 100mm)
  • Ailerons : 40 mm up, 30 mm down
  • Rudder : + / - 60 mm
  • Elevator :  + / - 70 mm (Exponential mandatory)

Again, better than 1000 words, here are 2 videos filmed this autumn that will give you a good and unbiased idea of its flying capabilities.