Acuity 62″ Pattern Plane – AJ Aircraft

So after about a year back in RC,  I got bit by the pattern bug. I looked around and contacted some friends to see what I might have been able to buy used from someone, but didn’t really find exactly what I wanted.

On the recommendation of a friend, I looked at AJ Aircraft’s Acuity. It comes in a 2 meter version as well as a 62″ version. For many reasons, mostly because this will be my first season to fly pattern, I went with the 62″ version. Also, I already had the 6s 5000 mah batteries that I needed to run this plane as it would be set up.

I set this plane up with a Hacker A50-16s. I used a Castle Creations Edge 100 amp esc, which is too much, but again, what I had and perfectly suitable for that setup, so on it went.

I propped it with a XOAR 16-10e wooden prop for now. The 16-10 seems to pull it just fine. It is not fast and I do use WOT in an upline, but it has plenty of power and great flight times. After 7 minutes of pattern flight, I still have about 20-25% of my battery left.

I moved to this plane from my Kaos. It is much different than the Kaos. After flying this plane for a while, the Kaos feels like it weighs 3x as much, even though it doesn’t. AUW on the Kaos, with the 6s/5000 is 7lb 14.6 oz. AUW on the Acuity 62″ with the same battery is 6lb 15.4 oz, so it’s really only about a pound lighter. The Acuity is so much more maneuverable and so much more agile… it’s a joy to fly. Learning to fly the pattern with the Acuity in a crosswind is more tricky as it is more susceptible to deviation from crosswinds. It “weathervanes” more than the Kaos did. A wise person told me that learning to fly pattern is all about learning to use the rudder, and that is correct in my experience.

WEIGHT BREAKDOWN

Fuselage (rtf no batt): 3 lb. 14.4 oz.

Canopy and thumb screws: 5.6 oz.

Right Wing: 8.3 oz.

Left Wing: 8.4 oz.

Wing Tube: 1.2 oz.

Gensace 6s/5000mah Lipo: 1 lb. 9.5 oz.

Total AUW RTF: 6 lb. 15.4 oz. 

The CG is supposed to be about a half inch behind the wing tube. With my 6s/5000 all the way forward, mine balanced perfectly. This is great because when I move the CG back later on as I set it up for snap rolls and other maneuvers that perform better with a CG further back, I simple will move my battery back on the tray. There is a good 3-4″ to do this. I’m not sure if this was incorporated into the design, but it worked out perfectly at least on my model.

I set my plane up very simply with a Spectrum AR610 receiver and Hitec Digital Mighty Mini servos for elevator and ailerons and a full size high torque Hitec digital rudder servo. I am not running a separate receiver battery.

Overall, I love this airplane. For about $450 delivered, I found it to be a great value for an entry level pattern plane. It will no doubt carry me much further than the Sportsman class as well.

It was packed brilliantly in a large box with lots of compartments and using lots of tape… instead of styrofoam. It had foam where needed, but it is very smartly packed in a non-wasteful (and easy to dispose of) way. Assembly is very simple and straightforward using the PDF building plans available on AJ’s web site.

Below is an eCalc report on the setup of my Acuity 62″.

eCalc result for Acuity 62″ setup with Hacker A50-16s on 6s/5000mah lipo with 16-10 prop

 

EDIT 5/31/18

I’m a little over 100 flights in and loving this plane. I haven’t pushed it aerobatically. I’m sticking to perfecting the Sportsmans pattern with it. It’s competitive against the litany of 2 meter planes that i have faced in competition as long as my thumbs are cooperative.

I’ll soon be ordering the 2m version and moving the 62” to backup status.

 

Tower Hobbies WW II Foamies: P-51, Corsair, Hellcat

Tower Hobbies makes a line of foam PNP airplanes at the $105 – $120 price range that are really good planes for the money. My Millennium Master is the civil aviation part of that line. The warbirds are a Corsair, four flavors of P-51 and a Hellcat. These are plug-n-play foam planes that fly well on 3s and are tough. The Corsair seems to be the toughest, as you can see by the number of them in the photo below.

Smiling faces. Before the Gaggle. Photo: Dave Schaefer



We fly them aggressively, all at once and generally in the same area. This presents several challenges to the pilot and generates lots of energy among the group. Just keeping up with your own airplane is sometimes a challenge. It is inevitable that two of them share the same airspace at some point. These planes are amazingly tough and still fly well after multiple major repairs. This is defined at our club as a Gaggle.


Ace GLH Electric Conversion

One of my favorite planes to fly back in the day was the Ace GLH with a Cox Tee Dee .051. Of course those planes are long gone now… or are they? At a swap meet I discovered short kits. Because of the affordability of laser cutters these days, there are lots of guys out there cutting these old kits that are no longer in production. The selection seems nearly endless.

I found the GLH short kit at Balsa Workbench. I got great quality parts for two GLH planes. Dealing with Rob was easy. The short kits include basically all curved cut wood. The sheeting, leading and trailing edges and spars are not included. Still, for a $20 short kit and a bit of balsa stock, I’m flying a fast blast from the past.

I found the plans on Outerzone. You can also download the GLH plans here. I opened them in Adobe Reader and printed them from there. Adobe gives you an option to print a large document in tiles and you can even include cut lines so you can assemble the full-size plans with accuracy.


The Power Setup

For the first one, I ended up with a 2450 kv, 18.5 mm Lumenier drone motor. I run it on a 3s/1000mah 25c lipo with a 6-5.5 APC prop and it checks out perfectly on the meter and runs great. It generates ~35 oz. of thrust and flies the plane in the 85 mph range. It’s a handful to fly and took several flights to get it trimmed out nicely, but once that’s done, it’s really a smooth flyer and handles wind amazingly well for a 19 oz. plane.



GLH II

I built this one a little differently. I used a motor from an EDF. Details on the setup are in the slideshow. Ecalc was spot on in the calculations for this power combo. It’s a screamer!

Tower Hobbies Kaos 60 ARF – Electric Power

The Kaos is a classic style for sport/pattern flyers. It’s stable, aerobatic and the long moment really makes this a predictable and smooth flying plane.

I have never bought an ARF and assembled it. I bought my Tucano used but not flown, so the Kaos was my first complete ARF experience.

There are at least three of these that I know of in my club. I wanted to make mine different and the modeler in me told me that if I didn’t have a substantial time investment in the build that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. For those reasons, I decided to remove the covering on the ARF and make this plane my own.

I went with metallic finish Monokote for the job. Removing the old covering was very easy. The first step in the assembly process for this plane is to heat up and make sure the factory covering is all stuck well. They don’t get too detailed making sure everything is stuck well from the factory. For this reason, the old covering came off very easily with my heat gun.



I fitted this plane with the Rimfire 80 from Tower Hobbies. It’s a lower RPM motor than the 60. At a 500 Kv rating, it will swing a larger prop at a lower RPM. I installed a Castle Creations 100 amp ESC to go with it and fitted it with a 15-8 prop and powered it all with a 6s 5000mah lipo. It has about 2″ clearance with the larger diameter prop.

It flies very well. It is quiet and has lots of reserve power. Flying weight is 7 lb 14.6 oz. and it took 4 oz in the nose to get the CG to the 4.5″ location I wanted.

The Bolt-on Tail

The plans for this plane tell you not to glue the tail together, but to use the bolt to bolt it down. It all fits together very well, but this goes against everything I have ever learned about RC aircraft. I called Tower Hobbies and spoke to their support people. What I got was that they have not had problems with the bolt-on setup, but if it were his own personal plane, the guy I spoke with would glue the tail together. That was enough for me to mix a batch of epoxy and do just that.

Phoenix Models Tucano GP/EP ARF

I rescued this airplane from hanging from the ceiling in my local hobby shop on consignment. It is an ARF (Almost-Ready-to-Fly) model. It had the electric motor and the speed control and all of the radio equipment installed.

This airplane is made to accept retractable landing gear. Today’s modeler can get all kinds of landing gear that don’t require any outside servo. They just plug right in to the radio and mount onto the plane and you’re off and running with retracts. The problem is, you hear people complain about them a LOT. You see them fail a LOT. Tower Hobbies had these retracts that are made just for this airplane. They require servos to do the work, but I find them a lot more reliable and durable than the cheaper servoless models. Plus they are kinda old school, so I went with them.

The guy who put it together mounted an Elite Power 52 Brushless motor on it. This motor is rated at 590 K/V and will take a 6S battery. With the extra weight of the two retract servos, I opted for 6S power. I propped it with an APC 12-10. It has a Castle Creations Lite 100 ESC that seems to work just fine. It has a consistent beep every few seconds to let you know that it is armed. The instructions say you can remove that beep if you use Castle’s programming interface for the ESC. Problem is, this works only on Windows computers and I haven’t had a Windows computer in my house since the early 2000s. So I live with the beep.

With the Power 52 motor and the 6S 45C 5000mah battery, I get crazy fast flight for about 5 minutes. The plane sets up and lands better than anything I have. It is smooth and very, very stable on landings.

I added 3.5 oz to the tail to get it to balance.

Overall, I really like this airplane. It’s very aerobatic and has lots of reserve power. I get lots of comments on it.

E-flite UMX Pitts S-1S

I’ve always loved the Pitts Biplane. It’s a great looking airplane and quite popular in the world of RC.

After such a great experience with the UMX A-10, I got the Pitts, hoping that it would be as much fun… and it is. It’s a great flyer, very nimble and has plenty of power to get through most any maneuver right out of the box.

Like the A-10, this one is also Bind-n-Fly. The battery that you fly it with only has ne connector, so you do have to buy a special splitter to be able to connect to a balance charger via the power port and the balance port. That connector was $5 I think.


It flies on a 2s 200 mah lipo. Flights aren’t terribly long, maybe 4-5 minutes at full throttle. This one also has the ASX3 stabilization and it works beautifully. For being as quick and as tricky as this plane is, it is still pretty stable… incredibly stable for a plane this size. It’s tiny at just a hair over 17″ wingspan.

Again for the $125 or so that this thing will set you back, it’s a great buy. I managed to fly this airplane into a chicken wire fence at full throttle on a downwind run. It literally slammed head on in to this fencing. I had to buy a new hatch cover. That cost $8 and I was right back in the air. It’s tough!

Tower Hobbies Millennium Master EP – Foamie Paint Job

I’ve always liked Tower products and this Millennium Master plane looked like fun for the money. It flies really well for a foam plane. It actually flies as well as any of the wood planes I have. It’s small and lightweight, so winds over 10-12 mph keep it in the hangar.

I did a little research on painting foam aircraft and found that Krylon Short Cuts seemed to be what I needed. It’s gentle on foam, but if you spray too close to the foam, the accelerant will eat the finish off of your foam, so be careful.

My plan was to cover the existing scheme. The purple covered very well in two coats. The yellow didn’t cover at all. After several coats of yellow and the stock trim still showing, I had to paint the fuse purple as well and do it that way. So the paint covers well in dark colors at least.



A roadblock I encountered in doing this is that masking tape, even the soft blue tape, pulls the original paint off of the plane. So if you mask it and paint it, everything between the tape and the foam comes off on the tape. A little more research and I saw about people using Post-It Notes to mask with.

I grabbed a stack of Post-It Notes and to my surprise, I realized that the notes of today are all sticky on the back with only a small edge being not sticky. They used to be the opposite of that, with a row of sticky across the top.

So I laid out about ten Post-It Notes sticky side down, in a line, overlapping them by about a quarter inch. Then I put regular masking tape on the non-sticky side to hold them all together. Then I was about to cut that to make straight lines or whatever I wanted to do, essentially making masking strips out of Post-It Notes. I didn’t take any photos of that process. I will the next time I paint foam and will post them here.

Carl Goldberg Jr. Tiger – Electric Conversion

I went to a swap meet Saturday. There were LOTS of airplanes in many forms and states of repair and disrepair. This Jr. Tiger caught my eye.

Goldberg made this airplane for .15 – .25 glow power back in the 70s and 80s. It’s still available in the .40 size and the .60 size today.  Eddie Taylor of Lazer-Works.com cut this plane as a parts package. He removed some of the ply from the fuselage and added cutouts in a few locations on the fuse to save weight. He built this plane himself and I have to give it to him. This plane is built beautifully. Everything fits well.

I’m running a Great Planes Rimfire 35-30-1450kv motor (also bought at the swap meet) with a 3s 2600mah lipo and a 60 amp ESC and an APC 9-6E prop. The motor is only rated at 30 amps, but I had the 60 amp ESC so it goes on. It is my understanding that going up a little is not a problem in ESCs.



I found an amazing ESC, motor, battery, prop calculator. This takes some of the guesswork out of pairing components for electric RC.

This plane balances just a little back of where I like a plane to balance. Determining the CG for this plane is fairly simple because it has a constant wing cord. It should balance about 25% back, usually just on or barely in front of the main spar. This one seems to be at about 30%. I’m going to fly it once before I add weight. There is nothing I can do to shift existing weight forward. I haven’t checked yet, but I’m probably an ounce to an ounce and a half of nose weight from being just where I like to be.



She weighs 3 lb. 4 oz. ready-to-fly, with the 3s 2600mah battery. The rule of thumb of having 100 watts of motor output for each pound of airplane is in play here. 100 watts per pound of plane is plenty of power for aerobatic performance, but not 3D.  With a draw of 30 amps on the 11.1V 3s battery, output watts are 333 (11.1 x 30). A ratio of 100 watts per pound would be 325, so it is perfectly in the correct power/weight range.

All in, including the obligatory trip to the hobby shop for spinner, a random servo and a few EC3 connectors, this plane came in right around $190 and it’s a quality plane.

I’ll post an update after I fly it. It should be a gentle flyer with plenty of power. I hate underpowered airplanes 😉

8/9/17

Maiden flight required two clicks of aileron and three clicks of elevator trim. As expected, very predictable and easy airplane to fly. This plane is so much fun to land. I’ll mostly shoot landings with it. Had a 15 mph direct crosswind today. No problems really. I won’t fly it in much more wind that that. It’s light.

Great Planes Super Sportster Bipe – Electric Conversion

I bought this Sportster Bipe on eBay. This post will chronicle my journey in getting it in the air. This is the first RC plane I have built in 20 something years. Things have changed… and changed for the better.

This airplane is rated for a .35 to .45 glow engine. There was also plans for a 4-stroke conversion to mount a 4-stroke engine. It was kinda fun to see the plans from the 1970s or 80s knowing what we know today.

I went with a Great Planes Rimfire 46 size electric brushless outrunner. I have a 60 amp Hitec ESC and will use a 6s 5000mah battery. I’ll probably start with a 10-7 prop, but will play with props until I get it just right. This plane should have PLENTY of power. The plans call for it to be 5 to 6 1/2 pounds. Mine came in at 5 lb. 14 oz with the 6s onboard, so I am loaded with power and well within suggested weight.

As for the CG, I built the plane the only way I could that allowed me to get a battery in and out without having to take off the bottom wing. The battery had to be all the way forward. I really just built the plane and laid out the inside the best way I could. I was shocked when I checked the CG and it balanced perfectly at the middle of the suggested CG range. This was GREAT news. No added weight. With this plane with a 6s 5000 battery, there is no room to move the battery backward or forward to achieve a CG.



Edit 8/2/17

I flew this thing on Monday. It shocked me that it lifted off in about 10 feet when I hit the throttle. I didn’t get to fly it much. The speed control heated up and the motor started varying speed without input on the second flight. The speed control was very hot and the cover had burned off of it. I’m going to swap out the Hitec 60 amp with a Castle Creations 100 amp. I thought the Hitec might not have the ability to handle this motor with a 6s battery. Lesson learned. While I’m fairly experienced on the airplanes, radios etc., I am still somewhat of a newbie on the electronics of it all. This has all changed so much.

During the flight time I did get with the plane, it flew well. I set up the throws as lined out in the instructions. Roll rate was good and it needed for elevator for my liking. It needed a lot of adjustments and I never really got it trimmed out before I had to park it. I’ll get it trimmed out the next time I fly it. It was very fast with the RimFire 46 and the 6s. It’ll be even faster with the more suitable ESC. I’m running an APC 10-5 on it. I’ve got a 11-5 I’m going to try next time as well.



8/9/17

I flew her with the new Castle Creations Edge 100 ESC today. No more throttle problems. Consistency in power all the way through the range and as much vertical as I could ever need.

2017-08-04 12.48.43

8/12/17

I officially finished the covering job on this plane. I checkerboarded the bottom of the top wing and the bottom of the fuse and horizontal stab and I striped the top of the bottom wing. This machine is easy to see 🙂