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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Needle 100 DSL maiden flight

Last week-end, I took the oppurtunity of the F3F contest of Séderon to maiden the Needle before the competition, in a 6m/s wind. Lift was not yet consistent but I immediatly felt that the Needle 100 is a pure racer sailplane. Cruise speed is already very high, and the plane doesn't slow down when putting some thermal flap.

The needle accelerate very fast, and the first thing that is apparent is the first time you pull the stick, with some ailerons to engage the turn. The energy retention is massive. Where other planes will just not maintain the speed, the Needle, also because of the wing load is just absolutely not decelerating, even while climbing to do an Energy Management turn. The ability allow it to maintain the overall run speed longer.

Unfortunately, most of the tiem the wind was crossed, so right turn was a bit challenging, but I finally found that I could pull harder on the elevator to do a tighter turn and this was better that keeping the usual radius. The up wind turn was in that situation a piece of cake, allowing the plane to gain some altitude to convert in speed in the downwind turn.

I also found the rudder quite reactive, and I would recommand to program on the radio a sort of dead zone on the stick to avoid to active the rudder by mistake during the banking turn, that put the nose down immediatly.

Overall the Needle DSL, at 2.6 kg for 2.5 m remains a heavy plane and despite it can sustain in the air with little wind, it definitively prefers medium to strong conditions.

The second day, I again flew it on another slope with again crossed wind, but when the thermal went, the needle was blistering. At that time I was doing laps in parallel with a FS3, and during the thermal, I just blowed up the FS3 and took 2 laps to it.

I was not able to try it in DS as the slope was not suitable for this, but I think I saw a bit the potential of this machine. Compared to my D60, I think that the Needle will start to DS earlier and be much more confortable and stable in medium to hard DS, which is exactly that I wanted just because very strong wind is unusual in the alps.

My clubmate Joël Marin filmed some laps, that I propose to you in the short video. I will definitively more video in a near futur.

My CoG is 86 to 87mm. Thuro recommended me to try a CoG between 83 to 85mm that will make the Needle 100 more polyvalent in various conditions.

Last point to notice. My needle is fully equiped with one SBEC for each servos. Like this I don't need any voltage regulator and the LiFe battery is directly connected to the receiver. We will see with time, but for now the solution works great. As I said in a earlier post, I feel more secure with a SBEC per servo than a single voltage regulator before the receiver.

More to come in the coming weeks !

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