Fixed wing remote control planes are ridiculously overpowered. Whereas normal, manned fixed wing aircraft need to take into account things like density altitude, angle of attack, and weight limits, most RC aircraft can hover. This insane amount of power means there’s a lot of room for experimentation, especially in new and novel power plants. [Samm Sheperd] had an old squirrel cage fan taken from an electric wall heater and figured one man’s trash was an integral part of another man’s hobby and built a plane around this very unusual fan.
The only part of the squirrel cage fan [Samm] reused was the impeller. Every other part of this power plant was either constructed out of foam board, plywood, or in the case of the brushless motor turning the fan, stolen from the ubiquitous box of junk on every modeller’s workbench.
The design of the plane puts the blower fan directly under the wings, blasting the air backwards underneath the empennage. During testing, [Samm] found this blower pulled around 350W from the battery – exactly what it should draw if a properly sized propeller were attached to the motor. The thrust produced isn’t that great — only about 400g of thrust from an airframe that weights 863g. That’s very underpowered for an RC aircraft, but absurdly powerful for any manned flying machine.
Does the plane work? Of course it does. [Samm] took his plane for a few laps around the neighborhood and found the plane flies excellently. It is horrifically loud, but it is a great example of how much anyone can do with cheap RC planes constructed out of foam.
Continue reading “Flying Planes With Squirrel Cages”
One of our avid readers, [Niklas Melton] loves RC planes. After getting into 3D printing, the next logical step was to start building is own planes… And now he’s done it!
He calls it the Air-Form 1 Micro RC plane, paying homage to the FormLabs resin printer he used. All of the parts except for the electronics were printed using a tough resin. It’s designed to take balsa wood wings into clips he designed into the parts. A 150mAh battery provides the power with a motor that exerts about 54g of thrust — not bad considering the entire thing only weighs 60g! Unfortunately he doesn’t have any video clips of it flying, though he assures us it does indeed fly — if you’re interested in building your own, he’s uploaded all the files to a page on Thingiverse.
As more advanced 3D printers come down in price, like the SLA technology, it becomes possible to design and 3D print even more complex parts. Some of the resins available have now some pretty amazing properties. One of our readers replaced a servo spline gear with one he printed — which works even better than the original!
Not many people will argue with flying RC airplanes is super fun. One big bummer is when a crash damages a part beyond repair. Sure, the RC pilot could keep buying replacement parts but doing so will add up after a while. RC plane builder and general guy with a cool name, [HuckinChikn], decided to build a hot wire foam cutter so making replacement wings would be quick and cheap.
The actual hot wire part is nothing special, just some wire pulled taut across a frame and a 24 vdc power supply pumping out current and heating the wire so it melts any foam in its path. The unique part of the build is that one side of the hot wire frame is secured in place and only allowed to pivot about that point. The other side of the frame traces an airfoil-shaped pattern. This setup allows [HuckinChikn] to make tapered wings. The difference between a straight wing and a tapered wing is similar to that of a cylinder and cone.
Check out the video after the break for a quick demonstration how easy it is to make a wing when you have the right tool!
Continue reading “Move Over Red Bull, Hot Wire Foam Cutter Now Gives You Wings”
Out in the RC Airplane world, there is a great airframe called the Slow Stick. There is not much going on with this plane as it only has the bare necessities, a motor, wing, tail and a fiberglass tube (hence the ‘stick’ part of Slow Stick) as the fuselage. Yes, and as the name suggests it is slow. Although it’s intent is to be a starter plane for beginners, even experienced pilots like it because it is cheap, easy to repair and fun to modify. [StephanB] is the type of guy who likes to modify things so he set out to convert his Slow Stick to an Autogyro.
An Autogyro can be described as a cross between a plane and a helicopter. Like a plane it has a propeller that provides forward thrust. Unlike a plane, it does not have a wing. To provide lift, there is a large helicopter-like rotor on top of the craft but this rotor is not powered. It only spins when the craft is moving forward. Lift is created when the rotor is spinning, allowing the Autogyro to take off.
[StephanB] started by removing his Slow Stick’s wing. This takes all of 2 seconds and consists of only removing 2 rubber bands. Next he built a frame for the rotor. It was made to fit the wing mounts of the Slow Stick so that it could be quickly converted back to a plane. With a spinning Autogyro rotor, the side that the rotor is traveling in the forward direction creates more lift than the side of the rotor traveling rearward. To compensate for this unequal lift, [StephanB] added a sideways tilting rotor mount. An RC servo is connected to the mount and allows remote control of the rotor to balance out the lift.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Conversely, if you have the right tool for every job, it makes the difference between pro and amateur. [ftregan] needs to cut perfect V-grooves in foam for many of his projects, especially building RC planes. He wasn’t too satisfied with the results using his Xacto knife. And a proper tool was going to set him back by almost $25, but following that example he built his own version of the tool for much less.
Two pieces of wood cut at a 45 degree angle are held between two flat support pieces. A pair of regular shaving blades form the cutting elements. While it looks simple, it’s important to get the angles and blade directions correct. A central wooden wedge holds the two blades in place. He also added a small guide marker that let’s you cut precise straight grooves. [ftregan] built the tool to allow cutting 6mm thick foam but given that it’s so quick and cheap to build, we guess it’s easy to make a few of these to allow cutting different thicknesses of foam. We’re sure that many of you will find different or better ways of doing this, but considering [ftregan] spent just 15 minutes cooking this up, it’s not too bad, especially since the results are mighty good.
Another method of cutting foam is with hot wire. Check out this DIY Foam Cutter that we featured earlier.
That’s not a jet jockey making a low altitude turn up there. In fact, the pilot has his feet planted firmly on the ground. [Reliku] has built a radio controlled BAE Hawk which is flown via First Person View (FPV). FPV models often have a small camera mounted on the exterior of the craft. This camera gives a great field of view, but it isn’t exactly how full scale planes are flown.
[Reliku] took it to the next level by creating a scale cockpit for his plane. The cockpit is accurate to the real BAE Hawk T2, and features back lit simulated screens. Even the pilot got the FPV treatment. Micro servos move the pilot’s right hand in response to aileron and elevator inputs from the radio control system. The pilot’s head has been replaced with the FPV camera, which is mounted on a pan tilt unit. Pan and tilt are controlled by a head tracking system attached to [Reliku’s] video goggles. The entire experience is very immersive.
All this is built into a Hobbyking BAE Hawk Electric Ducted Fan (EDF) model, so space is at a premium. Even with the Hawk’s relatively large cockpit, [Reliku] found he was tight on space. While attempting to keep the cockpit scale from the pilot’s view, he found he was barely able to fit a single seat cockpit into a space designed for two! Adding all these modifications to a plane and still keeping the model flyable was not easy, as displayed by [Reliku’s] earlier attempt with an F-16.
The ends do justify the means though, as the final model looks great. We’d love to see those static cockpit displays replaced with small LCD or OLED panels for an even more realistic experience!
Continue reading “R/C Plane Flies with a Cockpit View”
A student team has successfully designed, built, and flown a 3D printed RC plane using only $16 of plastic with a consumer-grade 3D printer (Makerbot), plus the necessary electronics and motor.
The folks over at the Wright Brothers Institute (WBI) have a great program called the AFRL Discovery Lab which brings teams of students, businesses, researchers, and government together to work on a specific challenge or opportunity.
One of the programs this year was the Disposable Miniature Air Vehicle, or DMAV for short. The student interns [Nathan, Ben, and Brian] spent the first 5 weeks at Tec^Edge designing the plane. The team went through 5 revisions before they settled on a design they believed could fly. The final plane weighed 1.5 pounds, and on its first flight… plummeted into the ground. Good thing they printed a second copy! After some more practice [Stephen] got the hang of it and was able to fly and land the plane successfully.
According to the WBI, this is the first functional aircraft that has been fully 3D printed (sans electronics) using FDM technology, and the first low wing 3D printed plane to be flown. Hate to burst their bubble, but 3D printed quadcopters have been around for quite a while!
Test flight video is after the break.
Continue reading “Students build a 3D printed plane”