PBY Catalina

January 27, 2015

All shiny again!

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January 27, 2015

Today my replacement plastic parts arrived … a new canopy and a new hull shield.  It wasn’t too hard to pry the old shield off, and the new part is already to slap on.

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January 26, 2015

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Here is a quick snapshot showing the new orange color on the engine cowls, the upper side wing tips, and also notice the tail stripes have been repainted orange (originally red.)  I’m just waiting on a replacement canopy which will hopefully arrive tomorrow and I should be able to completeley reassemble the model and re-maiden it after the crash.  Oh, I also have soldered up the led landing lights and will have those illuminated now just for fun.

January 23, 2015

Repair status update:  The crash repairs continue at a slow but steady rate; I am hoping the result will be better than ever!

Here is a picture showing the motor nacelle damage.  This has now been reglued and is as strong as ever.

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The next picture shows the repair process of the wing center pylon. This got shredded when the wing ripped off.  2 pieces have already been attached in this picture (with a battery on top to weight it down) and I am holding the final piece in it’s approximate location.

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My repair plan includes adding some orange color to the engine nacelles, the top of the wing, and the tail for enhanced visibility.  In the next picture I have removed the cowls before painting them.

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Now we see the cowls painted orange and reattached.  I think the final result will look nice if I can get some orange stripes on the wing tops and tail and do it cleanly.  In this next picture you can also see a view of the repaired wing center pylon (with some white filler that still needs to be painted.)  I found some flat gray spray primer at the hardware store that is a pretty close match to the factory paint, but it is cheap paint and covers poorly and requires a couple coats.

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I have ordered a replacement canopy and replacement forward hull shield because these thin plastic parts were substantially damaged in the crash.  Grayson hobby had these parts in stock for $9.99.  If you are frustrated because nitroplanes.com is always out of stock of the airplane or part you want, check out grayson hobbies online.  They have a wide range of dynam stuff.

January 4, 2015

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More detailed damage assessment:

  • The fuselage center wing mounting pylon is pretty shredded.  I’m hoping I can glue the parts back together to get the shape, and then do some reinforcement to get the necessary structural strength.
  • The right wing tip float broke off.  I’m strongly considering a mod to convert this model to retractable wing tip floats.  There are a few people on youtube that have done this and it turns out pretty cool.
  • The canopy got shattered into dozens of bits.  I need to either buy replacement plastic parts or carve a replacement from something.
  • The left engine nacelle got completely ripped off.  I think this will go back together again ok with enough surface area to be structurally sound.
  • The right front bottom of the nose took some damage I just now noticed.  That’s probably something I can just glue back together and it will be ok.
  • I am thinking about getting out my can of orange spray paint and doing an outboard section of the top of the wing in high visibility orange (and maybe a couple other bits while I’m at it.)  Part of the reason for the crash was that I completely lost orientation on the model, and part of the reason for that (I think) was flying an all gray model on an overcast day.

January 3, 2015

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I went out to fly this off the lake this afternoon (frozen this time of year.)  I did one good flight, switched batteries and midway through the 2nd flight some winds started to come up a bit. Then I did the unthinkable … I lost my perspective/orientation with the model, executed one of those dumb thumb moves, and corkscrewed it right in.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a crash I couldn’t blame on mechanical, electrical, or weather factors.  This one was just dumb thumbs and it was over before I could figure it out.  Now I’m really bummed.  Here is a picture of the wreckage I carted home.  Major damage includes the center wing pylon sheared off (foam/structural), the canopy shattered to bits, one of the wing tip floats broke off (plastic part broke), one of the engine nacelles broke off, and probably a few other odds and ends I’ll find if I dig in further.

I think the engine nacelle and center wing pylon will be repairable.  I don’t know what I will do about the canopy … maybe I can buy a replacement?  Same with the wing tip float mount?  I suppose I’ll set it to the side for now.  Usually after a few days I start to get a bit curious and dig in and often a lot of the damage is quickly repairable.  Some of it might be a little harder though … guess I’ll post a repair log if I think I’ll be able to fix it up and fly it again.

June 21, 2013

This is the PBY from nitroplanes.com.  It is a relatively big airplane compared to most ‘foamies’ these days with a 57-7/8″ wing span.  It is also a twin and a seaplane.  I have nothing but good things to say about it.  For the cost and the effort to assemble it, it looks really great!  On the ground, in the water, in the air, sitting still, water taxiing, flying … it just looks great.

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I purchased the PBY in January of 2012, so my first flights were off a snow covered lake on a bitter cold January afternoon.  I fly it with a 2200 mah 3 cell battery and that provides tons of flight time … probably pushing 20 minutes or more of relaxed flying.  Relaxed is the key word. There is nothing white knuckle about flying this airplane.

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One of the fun things I did this day was to snow taxi downwind a bit, turn back around into the wind and give it about 3 notches of throttle.  It began to slide across the slick snow and pick up speed slowly.  Little by little it accelerated and before I thought it would be ready to fly, it slowly lifted off on it’s own.  It passed in front of me about eye level, still climbing out at a very slow, very scale looking flight speed.  There are moments that are so perfect you always remember them, and in the context of flying RC airplanes, this was one of them.2012-04-19

She handles water operations just as effortlessly as flying off snow.   There is a little park with a dock at one corner of this lake in walking distance from my house.  It’s a perfect place to go fly a park-flyer seaplane on a nice calm summer evening.  The twin engines, the big wing with slow flight characteristics, smooth water handling … it just makes for a calm, relaxing fun evening of flying.  At the park, the PBY always seems to attract an audience too.

If you are into aerobatics, the catalina can do all the basic loops, rolls, inverted flight, wing overs, etc.  It can, but for some reason, I’d rather watch it do slow, scale, near perfect fly-by’s all evening long, mix in some touch and goes off the water … it’s really pretty!IMG_20120811_111738

For whatever it’s worth, the Catalina has plenty of power to do dry grass takeoffs from the RC club field.  I try to be extra careful keeping the wings level on landing so I don’t catch one of those wing tip floats.  The ground is a little less forgiving than water.

Just to summarize.  This is a very scale looking airplane.  It has a big fat wing and is lightly wing loaded (just like the real thing.)   It can fly amazingly slow in the air.  If you just want to enjoy a beautiful scale looking/flying aircraft, this one is hard to beat!

Sonic 64

Hobbyking Sonic 64

This is 1230mm (48.4″) wing span flying wing.  It is powered by a 64mm electric ducted fan.  It is a simple build and flies great!

Here are a couple pictures before the maiden flight (temperature was about +18F, winds were calm, skies had a medium thin overcast.)

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My one gripe about the Sonic 64

Of course we buy airplanes like the Sonic 64 because they are inexpensive, quick to assemble, and fast to get out to the field and up in the air.  It doesn’t hurt that they look great and are a lot of fun to fly!  But in the case of the Sonic 64, perhaps it is a little too inexpensive.  The servos that came with the kit were utter garbage.  One of them was completely useless and unsafe to fly.  It couldn’t hold a position, and it had a lot of trouble with it’s potentiometer.  The other servo probably could have been able to fly safely, but not fly well.  I submitted an RMA to Hobbyking where I purchased this ARF, and to-date they have not responded with an “initial evaluation.”  Typically the stuff I get from Hobbyking works and meets expectations, but this is pretty poor customer service to not even acknowledge my RMA request after a week and a half of waiting.  So I gave up, dug out the original servos, and replaced them with Hitec HS-55 servos.  These are $10 servos and far better than the $0.50 servos that came installed with the kit.  Unfortunately the servo leads on the Hitec servos were shorter so add two $3 servo extensions.  And finally add the cost of some glue to install the servos properly … altogether that added about $31 to the cost of the airplane … and Hobbyking still has yet to respond to my RMA.

Servo Installation in foam wings

My new favorite glue for installing servos into foam wings is: E6000 (available at Michaels and probably lots of other places.)  It is not a quick dry cement (let it dry over night) but the result is solid, it seems to be foam safe, it dries clear, and according to the video it’s pretty easy to cut through with a knife to later separate the glue joint.
I ran up to Michaels last night and got a small tube to try on my Sonic 64 and I’m really pleased with the results this morning.  I’ve tried different techniques over the years, but I’ve had hot-glue and double sided tape be wiggly or just pop out.  Epoxy is a bit too permanent when you are talking about cheap servos … E6000 seems to be a really good balance between creating a solid glue joint between a servo and foam, but then being able to separate it later if needed.  Here is an in depth how-to video (not mine) with a bunch more explanation.

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Variants

This same design is sold under the name “Neptune” by Nitroplanes.com (but was out of stock when I was interested in ordering it.)  The manual still has at least one reference to Neptune that hadn’t been updated. 🙂

Launching

The Sonic 64 is hand launched.  This can be a little tricky if you are flying by yourself or need to get help from someone who doesn’t have a lot of airplane hand launching experience … so be cautious, things can go wrong quickly.

The manual suggests running the throttle up to about 50% (that feels about right) and then running 2-3 steps and giving it a good firm level throw (wings level, nose level, throw direction straight and level.)  I had one good launch, one bad/failed lauch (no damage, whew!), and a 2nd good launch on my 3rd try.  I noticed the left wing would really drop quickly.  I made every effort to make a straight level through, but maybe my technique is flawed?  Maybe there is some torque or spiral thrust issue going on?  Hopefully I can learn to do this more reliably on my own.  Often I’m out flying by myself, and then no offense to any of my fellow RC club members, but many of us don’t have much hand launch experience.

Next time out I think I may try to run the throttle up a little higher (maybe 2/3rds) and try to release it on an upwards trajectory … maybe 15-20 degrees up?

Flying

My maiden flight was on a dead calm afternoon and the Sonic 64 flies beautifully.  It is stable, tracks nicely, and responds well to control inputs.  It has no rudder, but it can do all the bank and yank type aerobatic maneuvers you can think of.  I attempted a high altitude stall to see what kind of craziness would happen and it was boring … it just dropped the nose and kept flying.  I’m sure I could get it to spin if I stalled it out in a steep turn, but I didn’t want to push it too hard on my first time out.  One thing I did manage to do was a sequence of really graceful wingovers.  I could fly a fast eye level pass, climb out steeply, and then as speed bleeds off, roll into a bank (maybe 10-20 degrees) and hold that as you run out of airspeed.  The airplane naturally does a wing over and comes back flying right past you the other direction.  It’s really graceful.  If you hold the throttle fixed through the maneuver, it tends to kick you over just a bit faster when you are at the apex and have minimal aerodynamic control and the thrust starts to dominate.  If you pull the throttle back at the apex, then it’s a bit more lazy and graceful.

I was flying a cold day (+18F) so the air was relatively dense.  As a result, top speed didn’t seem too fast, even though the motor was really wound up.  I expect on a warm summer evening it will zip by much faster in hotter, less dense air.

Landing

The Sonic 64 is a flying wing and behaves exactly how you would expect.  It has a relatively long, flat glide, and if you carry any speed over the threshold, it will glide forever in ground effect.  So there really isn’t anything difficult or unexpected, just be ready for a fairly long, flat approach and be ready for it to carry during the flare as it wants to just keep flying forever in ground effect.

Conclusions

This is a great flying, inexpensive airplane that goes together quickly (probably an hour or two maximum.)  It is appropriate for a moderately experienced sport flyer.  It’s also a big bundle of fun and looks really cool in the air.  However, I am now aware that if I do have any problem with something ordered from Hobbyking, I shouldn’t have high hopes for their customer service and for their response times.  That’s unfortunate because I actually like Hobbyking otherwise and everything else I’ve bought from them has met expectations.  In this case the problem was easy to fix (yeah model making skills) but that was an extra chunk of money out of my own pocket.

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