Thursday, December 31, 2015

FrSky Horus X12S officially released today !

Official message from FrSky:

"We are excited to announce FrSky Horus Radio is officially released at the last day of 2015.
FrSky is continuously adding features and improvements to our radio systems at past years; we are convinced that the Horus X12S is one of main representative product in FrSky radio series product, which built-in new FrTX operation system and integrated many wonderful features.
More information about Horus X12S can be found on: 
http://www.frsky-rc.com/ad/X12S.html "


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

[Video] Needle 100 DSL

My latest video filmed the 28th of December and the last for 2015, as the weather is now wet and some snow is finally expected in the next days. October to December have been crazy with plenty of nice flights at col de faisses in very good conditions, so I could do lot's of nice pictures and video.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

[Video] Weasel Trek

I have missed this video posted few weeks ago, showing the Weasel Trek in flight. Watching this video, it seems this new version of the Weasel has better aerobatic capabilities and is lighter than the previous EPP version, the one I have. The bad news is that we will need to wait as the release date has shifted to the 1st quarter of 2016.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Last slope flight of 2015

Global Warming ?

The 28th of December, at 1700m of altitude, no snow and 12 degrees ! We could reach the slope easily and had an exceptional flying session with 10 to 15m/s of wind. I flew and enjoyed a lot my old and brave Needle 100 DSL (triple carbon version of the Needle 100), recently upgraded with HV servos (MKS HBL 6625). A great day to end the 2015 slope season !


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas time !

Ok, ok ...the picture I chose is maybe not very representative as there is no snow on the french alps at the moment. Anyway, I wanted to wish you all and your family a Merry Christmas !


[Breaking news] New Dynamic Soaring world record !




Spencer Lisenby established a New Dynamic Soaring world record 513 mph flying his Kinetic 130 at Weldon, with a wind up to 60 mph. 513 mph is 825,6 km/h, an impressive 229 m/s. This is just insane !
Congratulation to Spenser for this achievement !



Monday, December 21, 2015

[RC Soaring Digest] Rreview of the Vagabond XL from Hacker Model

My review of the Vagabond XL  from Hacker Model has been published in the January issue of RC Soaring digest. In this issue, there is also a nice report about the slope meeting at Monte Cucco 2015 and last bu not least, the report about the Typhoon Race 2015 in Korea, by Stanley Chan, photos by Pang Yong Wee. You can download the magazine here:





Sunday, December 20, 2015

[update] BQ Hephestos 2

I'm still learning, between temperatures, speed, and other settings in Slic3r to generate the GCode. But I'm progressing and made a  good production today :  Ballast spacers, Mobius supports, servo frames. 3M BlueTape is providing good results and can be reused several time if you don't damage it when removing printed parts.  At the moment, the ideal temperature for my Orange PLA is now 215°C. Speed is at 50 mm/s.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

[Essai] Mini-Epsilon de Staufenbiel



Introduction

Comme la plupart des grand distributeurs, Staufenbiel a, depuis quelques années déjà, développé sa gamme propre de planeur et moto-planeur. Les kits proposés sont fabriqués en chine, ce qui permet de proposer un prix compétitif quel que soit la version. Le mini Epsilon de Staubenfiel est le petit dernier de la large gamme Epsilon qui va jusqu'à une envergure de 4m pour la version XL. Il s'agit d'un planeur de 2.5m d'envergure, ni trop petit ni trop grand donc, à mi-chemin entre un hotliner et un planeur voilier plus grand, équipé d'un RG15, profil assez ancien mais toujours performant. Planeur à tout faire par excellence, disponible en version ARF ou PNP, c'est cette deuxième version que je vous propose à l'essai aujourd'hui.


Le Kit PNP

Le kit PNP (pour «Plug and Play») est livré avec moteur et servos mais il ne s'agit pas pour autant d'un modèle prêt à voler car il manque le contrôleur et la batterie de propulsion, et il reste quelques opérations d'assemblage à effectuer. Regardons ce kit de plus près: Les ailes sont coffrées en obéchi et entoilées d´un film Oracover, et déjà décorée, sobrement. Le saumon est une pièce moulée en fibre de verre, rapportée à l'aile avant entoilage. Chaque aile est en 2 pièces, donc démontable avec une clé carbone et 2 tétons de centrage en fibre au niveau de la jonction. Ce concept est curieux car les panneaux sont finalement courts en envergure, mais ceci s'explique sans aucun doute par le double dièdre et le désire de simplifier la fabrication dans un certaine mesure. Les servos pignons métal et roulements à billes, sont posés dans des cadres en CTP. Les rallonges sont posées et les prises verte sont installées à l'emplanture, aucune soudure n'est plus a faire ce qui est bien appréciable. Les guignols sont des vis à œil en aluminium et sont déjà posées, ainsi que le système Multilock de verrouillage des ailes. Il ne reste donc que les commandes à installer.
Le stab est monobloc, lui aussi coffré obéchi et entoilé Oracover comme les ailes. Les clés de stab sont en carbone. Avec les variations de température subies par le kit, j'ai noté quelques plis sur l'entoillage vite rattrapés avec un petit coup de fer à solar.

Le fuselage est, quant à lui, en fibre de verre avec quelques renforts carbone, peint, donc ne laissant aucun plan de joint apparent. C'est joli certes, mais il semble d'entrée de jeu assez lourd car chargé en peinture avec une mauvaise répartition des masses, plutôt situées à l'arrière.
Dans cette version PNP, la platine en CTP, le couple moteur sont posée, les servos de direction et profondeur sont montés, le moteur également. Les prises vertes sont posées à l'emplanture et les rallonges de servos vers le récepteur aussi. Les systèmes multilock est également en place sur le fuselage. La dérive, en balsa entoilée Oracover blanc est à poser. Les commandes de profondeur et direction sont à installer.
Une mise en croix rapide du planeur montre que tous les éléments s'ajustent parfaitement, aucun décalage à noter, que ce soit entre les 2 panneaux d'aile, ou entre l'aile et le fuselage, bref, du travail propre.
Les accessoires incluent les caches servos la clé d'aile en jonc carbone, la visserie, la corde à piano pour les commandes d'ailerons, les chapes, et un joli cône en alu et l'hélice blanche donc discrète. Une notice, malheureusement en allemand, mais cependant avec quelques photos explicatives, accompagne le kit.

Un montage rapide

Commençons par l'assemblage du fuselage : Celui-ci se cantonne à l'installation de la dérive, des  commandes, et a l'installation du contrôleur (60A), du récepteur et de la batterie de propulsion (3S 3200 mAh). Débutons par poser la dérive: Les charnières sont collées du côté dérive, à l'époxy rapide, puis une fois sec, du côté puit de dérive en prenant soin d'avoir suffisamment de débattement et de ne pas trop enfoncer bord d'attaque de la dérive dans le puit de dérive. Dans la foulé, on coude la corde à piano à la bonne longueur en ayant préalablement connecté l'autre extrémité de la commande au servos. Après avoir coupé l'excédent de corde à piano, on l'insère dans le trou de la vis à œil et on sécurise avec les petits clips plastiques livrés pour cela. C'est simple, et efficace. Même punition pour la connexion de la commande de profondeur au renvoi en fibre de verre déjà installé dans la dérive. Là aussi on connecte la commande coté servo, puis on mesure avec précision où coudé, puis avec une petite pince, on coude, on coupe et on connecte au renvoi puis sécurise avec le clip. La trappe est fermée avec un bout de scotch transparent. Passons côté cockpit : Utilisant un contrôleur 60A assez volumineux, j'ai décidé de le glisser sous la platine ou il est à son aise et correctement refroidit. Le dessus de la platine est donc occupé par la batterie de propulsion, sécurisé à la fois par du velcro fourni dans le kit, ainsi que par un bracelet velcro à boucle. Ce dernier est un peu grand à mon goût. Le récepteur vient prendre place derrière les servos de dérive et profondeur et est immobilisé avec un peu de mousse rigide. Le cône et son hélice se positionne parfaitement sur le nez de planeur.


Pas plus de travail du côté des ailes, il faut repercer les palonniers de servos à 1.5mm. Les servos sont ensuite mis au neutre avec un léger décalage pour les servos de volet afin qu'il puisse avoir plus de débattement vers le bas. On connecte la commande coté servos, puis on la coude à la longueur exacte coté guignol de gouvernes, avant de couper l’excédent, connecter et enfin sécuriser avec le clips. La dernière opération consiste à découper les caches servos et les fixer en place avec du scotch. Coté extrados, 2 petits caches sont collés à la cyano sur l'entoilage et viennent cacher la sortie de commande de flap. Globalement, l'opération d'assemblage prend environ une soirée et ne réserve aucune surprise.

Sur la balance, aïe ...

Je l'avais pressenti et cela se confirme car il me faut encore ajouter 110gr de plomb à l'avant en plus de l'accu de propulsion de 3200 mAh. J'aurais vraiment espérer avec le moteur et la batterie obtenir un centrage sans plomb. Du coup quand on rajoute le poids des ailes du fuselage et du plomb de centrage, le poids en ordre de vol atteint 2460gr. Maigre consolation, c'est le poids indiqué sur la notice. C'est dommage car ceci restreint d'autant le domaine de vol qui est justement en théorie le point fort pour un planeur de ce gabarit.

En vol

Autant dire que les essais ont mal débuté avec tout d'abord un récepteur sans porté qui a failli couté la vie du planeur lors de la première tentative, puis un pilote qui n'avait pas suffisamment serré le cône d’hélice, ce dernier s'étant fait la malle à la première occasion, et n'a donner aucune nouvelles depuis ! Bon on se ressaisi, on achète un cône et des pales équivalent et on retourne au terrain.
Depuis, ces premiers déboires ont vite été oubliés et je dois dire que le Mini Epsilon m'a agréablement surpris par ces qualités de vol. 
Tout d'abord la motorisation est excellente, donnant un taux ascensionnel d'environ 9 m/s, mesuré avec la télémétrie et l’altimètre. Ce bon rendement associé aux qualités de vol du Mini Epsilon permette de faire durer l’accu une après-midi sans problème pour peu qu'il y ait quelques thermiques.

Ensuite malgré on poids, le Mini Epsilon se défend très bien par petit temps. Il transite bien, est efficace aux volets, spirale bien et décroche tardivement et gentiment grâce aux larges saumons. Sa taille permet de couvrir un bon volume de vol, donc de s'amuser. 
Le stab monobloc a pour avantage de supprimer tout problème de calage contrairement aux stab a volet. Il se cale parfaitement quel que soit le régime de vol. La dérive, efficace est appréciable en toute circonstance. 
Le moteur est là au cas où, donc on se pique d'avantage au jeu, en mettant la limite un peu plus bas, tout en sachant que l'on pourra remonter dans le pire des cas, un exercice vraiment plaisant et pas du tout stressant.
Quand on pousse sur le manche, le planeur ne rechigne pas à accélérer, atteignant de bonne vitesse, et restituant bien. On évitera tout de même les ressources trop violentes, genre à 90°, pour soulager la clé carbone qui ne semble pas dimensionnée pour cela. La voltige de base passe sans soucis: Tonneaux, tonneaux à facettes, looping, renversement, renversement sortie dos, vol dos, etc. … sans être un planeur de voltige, le Mini Epsilon s'en sort plutôt bien, le stab en croix étant un avantage certain  pour le découplage entre la profondeur et la dérive. L'atterrissage avec les quadroflaps est une simple formalité, permettant d'atterrir court et en sécurité. 

En conclusion

Le Mini Epsilon s'avère être au final un bon modèle, polyvalent, à l'aise dans les différents compartiments de vol, et ce malgré son poids un peu élevé à mon goût. La construction du planeur est propre, sans mauvaise surprise, les éléments tels que le moteur ou les servos sont de qualité.  Bref, un bon choix pour qui recherche un planeur de taille raisonnable à emmener partout, en plaine ou à la pente, avec un bon domaine de vol.



Caractéristiques: 
  • Envergure: 2500 mm
  • Longueur:1285 mm
  • Poids en ordre de vol : 2460 g
  • Surface de l'aile: 47,48 dm²
  • Profil: RG-15 mod
  • Cordes ailes: 220 / 210/ 150 mm
  • Type de construction: Aile et stab en Styrofoam coffrée Obéchi, Fuselage Fibre peint
  • Prix: 449€ en version PNP, 299€ en version ARF

J'ai aimé
  • la motorisation
  • les qualités de vol
  • l'envergure passe partout

J'ai moins aimé
  • le fuselage peint 
  • le poids trop lourd
  • pas de système de verrouillage du stab

Contenu du kit PNP:
  • Moteur: Himax C3522 1000KV
  • Hélice 14x8" et Cône Aluminium
  • Accessoires: Multilock
  • Fonctions R/C /accessoires: 
  • Profondeur / direction : 2 x D 260 
  • Ailerons et Volets: 4x DS 1550 (incl.)

Réglages :
Note : (-) vers le haut, (+) vers le bas
  • CG : 80 mm
  • Profondeur : + /- 13 mm
  • Direction : + / - 40 mm
  • Ailerons : + 10 / - 20 mm , flaps + / - 5 mm
  • Volets position thermique : flaps + 4mm, ailerons alignés
  • Butterfly : Ailerons : -20 mm , flaps +35 mm, compensation profondeur +8mm
  • Snapflap : flaps + 4mm, ailerons alignés

Sunday, December 13, 2015

3D printer: BQ Hephestos 2

Christmas is earlier this year ! I bought the very new and just released spanish 3D printer BQ Hephestos 2. It is a RepPrap Prusa I3 type printer. According to the specs, print dimension is (x)210 mm x (y)297 mm x (z)220 mm. Packaging is very nice and everything is made for an easy assembly.


Assembly:

The advertising says that it can be completed in less 2 hours. Well, to be honest, they must be super-humans, because it took me around 4 hours non-stop. I would say that the mechanic part is well thought and assembly went well. Wiring is another story. It could be better I think. Overall I'm satisfied with the kit. I switched it on and it said "hello world", and it speaks several languages. Below are all the detailed pictures I took during the assembly.


Calibration and first print:

Calibration started badly until I understood that I shifted the 3 end course switch connectors. After fixing this the calibration went OK and is quite simple. I interrupted the first print attempt the offset of the nozzle was wrong. Then I also stopped the next 3 prints because the first layer doesn't stay on thé plate. I tried with some paper masking tape, but same result. Then I used some hair spray but again same result. I therefore ordered a buildtak and 3M Blue tape on Amazon. But I didn't want to end my day on a failure, so I decided to simply use double face tape, and could print a Jedi ballast spacer. Result is nice. Then I tried a mobius camera mount, but quality was not good, the part had no integrity, like it was made from noodles. Is it a problem of temperature? Speed? GCode ? No idea. I will do some more test when receiving the buildtak and tape. For the rest, the printer is pretty easy so use, the interface is very intuitive and the rotary/push button very convenient. Overall, I'm satisfied, but there is obviously a learning curve and I'm at the beginning.

The printer in action:


Saturday, December 5, 2015

[Review] Swift from Hacker Model, Fly EPP with style !


Introduction

At the last toy fair 2015 in Nuremberg, and following the success of the Vagabond, Hacker Model had plenty of new gliders to display. This is actually a original proposal where the same aerodynamic concept is available in 4 different semi-scale models (Blanik, Swift Fox, Lunak) and available in various colors to suit all tastes ! I propose you today the review of the Swift from this SKG product range.

Kit Overview

The Hacker Model Kit is without doubt what is the best in the world of hot wired cutted EPP models. Carefully packed, we discover firstly the wings, decorated covered wings with a laminate film, pine spar and plywood root rib already in place. Servo prints are done and the servo wires tunnel also.



The fuselage is also decorated but not covered with laminate film. Various cuts are already made, either for the fin or the tailplane, for the wing root print and the radio housing. The tailplane and fin are delivered articulated but uncovered.
The complete hardware includes CTP laser cut parts, thermoformed canopy in black plastic, screws, the piano wire joiner, a plastic and foam wheel, without forgetting the piano wire control rod and plastic sleeves.
As is often the case for Hacker Model kits, assembly instructions consists of mounting pictures without text. It is easy to follow and clear.

Assembly

Assembly is done in 2 or 3 evening, without stress. I did all the gluing with “foam safe” cyano except for wood parts where I used normal cyano.

Because of the position of the radio housing and canopy, the swift proposes an interresting mounting and locking system, rather sophisticated but very well designed (see pictures). The assembly starts with the wings locking system that is to be assembled from parts ctp laser cut. We must be careful to mount the blank to verify the perfect alignment of the rooms in which the CAP will slide to lock the wings, which is the main difficulty of assembly. Do not forget to prepare and glue the servos extensions in place.

Let's continue with the fuselage. First proceed to the alignement of the wing and glue the wing mounting system in place. Next, insert and glue the reinforcements along the fuselage, taking care that the fuselage stays straight, then cut an opening into the fuselage to insert the wheel. Ditto for elevator  and rudder control sleeves.

Next we can move to the tail and fin: They are reinforced with a carbon flat rod inserted in a cut made with a cutter. Then we can proceed with the gluing of the tail and fin on the fuselage, using  cyano and activator, and being cautious with its positionning and alignment, just to have a well balanced and symetrical glider that will fly straight.

The rest of the work consists mainly in the radio installation which remains very usual. A plywood tray receives the 9 to 12 gr servos (Tower Pro MG90 Servo 9g metal in my case). The receiver is located behind the servos and should be small size.



On the wings, very few work apart preparing the servo lead extensions and glue them in place, then finish the control command with the accesories.

To obtain the right CoG, I had to use a pack of 4 NiMH AAA batteries, contrary to what is indicated in the instructions (ACCU 4x AA NiMH 1900) and which is far too heavy for the plane.

It is interesting to stiffen the wing servo extensions at the root so that they can move easily into the wire tunnel. For this I used some heat shrink.

Good surprise on the scale, with a flying weight of only 702g to be compared with the 780gr mentionned in the building instructions. It's rare enough to be reported !

At the slope

The maiden took place on a nice slope but with a strong wind. Not ideal for this light Swift but it fighted with honors. This already helped to see that there is not enough aileron and elevator movement  and also the CoG a little too forward.

Other sessions were held in ideal conditions, from very little wind to medium breeze. I was surprised by the  thermal capabilities that I do not necessarily expect on a model like this one. I remember a flyin session in the Vosgen with many Alula EVO and TREK around, and the Swift was doing rather well, far from ridiculous.



Its preferred conditions remains the light to medium breeze. The swift then delivers lot's of fun, first of all by its presence in the air and its semin scale look.  I'm never tired to do low altitude fly by in front of me.

Control on all axis is precise and efficient but not violent. Piloting remains easy. The dihedral and lateral surface of the fuselage provide good stability in trajectory.

The rudder is effective under all circumstances and especially when circling or doing aerobatics. Despite its name, the swift is not really an aerobatic model, but is capable of all basic academic aerobatics: rolls and inverted flight is no problem. The vertical manoeuvers like reversals, looping, lack of amplitude due to the low weight of the machine, nothing abnormal.

The landing even without airbrakes is very simple, because the glider 700g are easy to slow down.

Finally, nothing better than a short video of  the Swift in his element:



Conclusion

The Swift from Hacker Model is a very nice glider, the kit of very good quality. The plane is intermetidate level pilots who are looking for a compact glider, which looks great in the air and with good handling qualities. And if the Swift does not catch you, you still can choose a different look like the Fox, Blanik, or Lunak.

I liked :
  • Very nice looking EPP plane in the air
  • Wing mounting and locking system simple and efficient
  • Integrated plug in the wing root

I disliked:
  • Tail not removable
  • Ailerons hinge working a little vertically with time

Characteristics:
  • Wingspan: 2000mm
  • Length: 995mm
  • Chords: root 22mm, 11mm salmon
  • Flying weight:  702g (780g indicated in the building instructions)
  • Price
  • Manufacturer: Hacker Model




Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Baudis ASW 22



Last week-end, my mobius action cam and its pod jumped on another plane today ! We went to the col de Faisses and met with Martial Faure who flew his Baudis ASW22. It is a 1/5 scale glider, with the following characteristics:
  • Wingspan 5300 mm
  • Wing area 68 dm2
  • Aspect ratio 41,3
  • Length 1600 mm
  • Wing loading aprox. 74g / dm2
  • Airfoil HQ 2,5/13 - 1,5/10
Conditions where smooth, but very nice, and especially warm for november. Here is my photo album on this plane that I could pilot few minute: very different from my usual F3F plane, believe me !


And the video made from the 8 minutes of rushes I got before the Mobius battery dies.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

[Video] Vagabond XL from Hacker Model

Second video of the Vagabond XL, at col de Faisses, with some onboard video sequences. Overall, I have prefered the XL version compared to the standard version. I found it more polyvalent, with a wider flying envelop.


Monday, November 2, 2015

[Video] A Sky Full Of Alulas

A short video clip, a slow motion exercice, while playing with Alulas (both EVO or TREK) with friends !


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

[Scoop] Multiplex new SX 7/9 middle class transmitter



Breaking news !  Next friday, Multiplex is going to announce/release a new 2.4 GHz M-LINK middle class transmitter COCKPIT SX 7/9 for thumbs flyers. With a weight of 846g, it features a 3.5 inches large TFT color touch screen with telemetry display and day / night switching, allowing easy programming like on a smartphone.

Some other features:


  • Intelligent Speech (D, E, F) via speaker or earphone jack
  • Model Wizard: Predefined templates for nearly all common wing and helicopter models
  • IOAT antenna - integrated emission optimized antenna technology with extremely high range
  • High precision stick units from the PROFI TX, 4 ballraces
  • MSB / SRXL DVR technology BUS integration of sensors and servos
  • long battery life
  • Future-proof thanks to an upgradable software!
Prices:
  • Cockpit SX 7 Sender only - EUR 379,90
  • Cockpit SX 7 Set / TX + Receiver RX 7 DR - EUR 399,90
  • Cockpit SX 9 Sender Only EUR - 439,90
  • Cockpit SX 9 Set / TX + Receiver RX 9 DR - EUR 479,90
Now let's wait Faszination Modellbau :) !!!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

[Video] Font d'Urle 2015

Probably the best video I did this season. It was at Font D'urle, during the french league contest. I used my GoPro in rotating timelaspe and my Lumix FZ 1000 Bridge which has 120 images/seconds 1080p slowmotion capabilities. Few hours of editing and this is the result. Hope you will like it !


Angle of incidence calculation

This spreadsheet developped by Attila Laczko in 2003 is on planet-soaring server for a while. I have translated it in english so everybody can use it. It allows to calculate the angle of incidence between the wing and the tail. You just need a ruler !

http://rcsoaringpictures.free.fr/incidence.xls


Staufenbiel Mini Epsilon review in Modèle Magazine

My review of the Mini epsilon from Staufenbiel has been published in the November issue of Modèle Magazine. As a guest star in this article, my friend Alfio Origlio, a famous jazz pianist (http://alfioorigliopro.wix.com/alfio-origlio) who love Slope Soaring during his free time. He is an excellent pilot and it has been a pleasure to give him my transmitter while I was shooting with my DSLR.



and at the same time, one of my pictures taken this summer has been published in Aufwind in the Pictorial pages:



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

[Video] Flying the EPP Swift from Hacker Model

Video of the Swift from Hacker Model, filmed last Saturday at the col de Faisses, with excellent conditions :


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Flying with vultures !

Yesterday, while flying at Col de Faisses, some vultures came to visit us. They arrived from the other side of the valley, and using thermals and wind transited to the Obiou summit. I was flying with my Jedi, using the Mobius on the excellent mount/pod printed by Thomas Delarbre. I suceeded to fly very close and got these 3 pictures.






Too close ?!!!

Maybe a bit too close with the Vagabond XL ....
Well, the truth is that I've been destabilized, I falled on the grass, but kept piloting and recovered hopefully !
Lot's of fun for this picture and video session with the Vagabon XL and the Swift from Hacker Model. More to come !




Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Eurotour F3F 2015

This is now official and published, I'm the happy and proud winner of the Eurotour F3F 2015 !
It was my secret objective of the year, because it was the first time I was participating to 4 eurotour contests in the season, giving me the possibility to have a Joker. But there is always a part of chance, unexpected event, etc ...

But this year, everything went well: After winning the 20th edition of La Muela (Spain), I finished third at Col de Tende, then won the first RC-Network open of Vosgen and ended the season with again a third place at the Pyrénées's cup, taking the lead. I couldn't participate to the last Eurotour contest in Denmark, so followed it on F3Xvault with the worry that my friend Inaki Elizondo or Radovan Plch who were both still in position to win the Eurotour could make enough points and beat me at the very last contest. Hopefully for me, it didn't happen. My teammates Philippe Lanes finished 6th and Matthieu Mervelet 8th, so we are 3 frenchies in the top 8, a very good result overall !
Personnaly, I would like to warmly thanks my sponsor MKS, who believes in me since 2010, and has been very supportive from the beginning ! The new HV servo HBL6625, HBL6625mini and DS6125HV are just monsters of precision and speed, and combined with LDS are from my point of view the only possible choice for a competition plane. So thanks MKS for your constant innovation and great products you design and manufacture !

As you know, beginning of the year, I switched to the Taranis X9D running OpenTX. It was clearly a kind of bet to rely on an Open source firmware, but being able to do in flight tuning and ajustment ( and much more) is really a plus, and I want to thanks all the people involved in this nice OpenTx sucesstory ! OpenTx just rocks !!! I'm therefore dedicating this eurotour 2015 victory to the Open TX development team, and to celebrate it, I did a second donation to them !!! (http://www.open-tx.org/donations.html)




Pyrenees's cup

(25th to 27th of September)

Nice weather during all week-end, but we didn't get the massive wind we like on this slope. Consequently, It has been a very challenging competition with very variable conditions with crossed wind from the right. Every round was a fight to gain altitude, then to manage the lift and crossed wind, especially at base B. Arnaud Leger came from the bottom of the ranking and took the lead few rounds before the end to brillantly win the contest, followed by Aubry Gabanon (991 pts). I finished 3rd with 989 points. Many thanks to the small organising team who operated 3 days long at the bases, safety plan or chronometer !



Some pictures of the contest:


First RC-Network F3F open of Vosgen

(28th to 30th of August)

2 days of flying over 3 days, 43 pilots and friends coming from all over Europe, 8 rounds in very variable and challenging conditions, lots of laugth during the free flight day. After a slow start, I also got my luck with some thermals and managed to climb in the ranking from the 36th position after round 1 to the first position at round 8, finally beating Markus Meissner by 4 small points over 7000 pts !!! I'm pretty happy with this second win on the Eurotour F3F after La muela in Spring.



Col de Tende / Limoncello cup

(17th to19th of July)

Maybe the best competition for this year with 26 rounds over 3 days, 30 Pilots from all over Europe, an epic battle for the lead, the fastest time of the Eurotour by my friend and teammate Matthieu Mervelet.


Some pictures here:


La Muela (Spain)

http://planet-soaring.blogspot.fr/2015/04/la-muela-2015-20th-anniversary.html

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Innovation: Flexing wing trailing edge

Jaro Muller, the weel known manufacturer of the Ellipse family is currently experimenting a new technology of flexing trailing edges replacing the traditional control surface with hinges. A first video has been released. We cannot see well in details, but it seems to work.



Does it use a kind of Fish Bone Active Camber Morphing Concept (http://www.rc-network.de/forum/attachment.php…) ?
No idea.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Vagabond XL update

And as we are in the updates, I maidened the Vagabond XL yesterday afternoon. Being alone on the slope I couldn't do any pictures despite the weather was OK and the scenery great. So, instead, I used a tripod, my Gopro and my Lumix FZ1000 to film my maiden flight.


Update on the Swift from Hacker Model

I apology for being late on my reviews. I have maiden the Swift first this summer. A gentle glider, capable of aerobatics, with a great presence in the air. To wait the complete review, here are the pictures of the maiden flight session. We had lot of fun, despite it was a bit too breezy for the Swift.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

A nice pod for the mobius cam

Thomas Delarbre created this nice 3D printed Mobius pod with the objective to tape it at a wing tip or at the middle of the fuselage and provide nice view angle video. The overall weight including the cam is about 60g. The cam can be secured with a strap, and the cam head can rotate horizontally to ajust the angle. It is designed for a 8mm carbone tube. thomas will make available the file online for those having a 3D printer, but for others, will propose the lower and upper support, including the 2 screws for 8 euros only (shipping excluded), a very good deal.

For a better fixation, I recommend to glue a very thin and larger epoxy plate that will increase the contact surface of the lower support, and will also take the shape of the airfoil when taped. I know that Thomas is doing some attempt to create a larger base, and more flexible to suppress the need of this epoxy plate.

Finnaly, I use duct tape for the fixation on the wing, whatever the material used, composite or elapor/EPP, it gives good results.

contact: delarbre.thomas (at ) free.fr




What kind of video you can do with such pod:

Weasel TREK in approach !!!

After releasing the Alula TREK, Dreamflight (Michael Richter and George Rodriguez) is currently evaluating the very first prototype of the new and awaited Weasel TREK. From the pictures we can see, the shape is very similar and it use the same skid than the Alula TREK, so we can guess it will feature a canopy for quick and easy access to the radio.

The Weasel EVO has been like a revelation for me few years ago because of its wide flying enveloppe from thermal flying to strong wind flying thanks to the possibility to ballast in the joiner. Its agility, stability is a joy for slope flyers. I still enjoy my Weasel Black Edition !

If the improvement between the Weasel EVO and TREK is about the same than between the Alula EVO and TREK, we can expect something brillant !

Release Countdown started !

Courtesy of DreamFlight.com

Friday, October 2, 2015

Baudis Jedi onboard video

Onboard video with the Baudis Jedi, at Puy de Manse near Gap:

Pioupiou, a fully autonomous and connected anemometer

A very smart and fully autonomous anemometer that can be useful for our hobby. It features a compass and GPS, and connects automatically to a global cellular signalling network dedicated for the internet of things. This technology is developped by a french company located in Toulouse and called Sigfox (http://sigfox.com/en/). 

It uses UNB (Ultra Narrow Band) based radio technology and requires a very low energy consumption. The SigFox network currently covers France and Spain, but I understand that some new countries are developping the network. The "Pioupiou", name of this connected anemometer (pioupiou.fr), has been designed and developped in Grenoble by a paraglider pilot. It costs 325 Euros and includes the life subscription (40 euros) to the signalling network. Once installed, it calibrates and then connect to the network and start to talk over the network. Its battery can last 3 to 4 years before to be replaced. From any internet browser, it is easy to reach its dedicated web page and get the wind direction and force with a history of 2 hours. Our club invested in one unit that has been installed today on our local slope. I can now know the wind on the slope before to devide to go there !


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Vagabond XL & Swift S1 from Hacker Model

2 new kits for review arrived yesterday from Hacker (Czech Republic) ! The Vagabond XL , and a Swift S1. Both have 2 meters wingspan and feature a laminated film covering.

More info here

Assembly will start in the coming days, Stay tuned !




Friday, July 10, 2015

F3F French League: Col de Tende

This week-end was the french league contest of Col de tende at the border between Italy and France. We got light conditions on saturday, but managed 4 rounds on the south slopes. Unfortunately on Sunday, the wind stayed too light and from the north so we couldn't resume the contest. Best time of the comp in 38s by Frédéric Hours. Stay and camping on the slope would have been perfect without an army of flies and mosquitos which just eated us !
A big thanks to Sébastien and Philippe Lanes, the organisers !

More pictures here:





Below is an aerial Footage of the Central Fortress of Tende (Alps) between Italy and France.
Remnant of the 1st world war. Altitude 2000m/6000fts. Thanks to Aubry Gabanon:

F3F league contest in Ardèche

This week-end was a F3F league contest in Ardèche. Unfortunately, the stormy weather that is on the south of France fro few days didn't allow to valideta the contest. Saturday afternoon, with warm temperatur and low wind, we did 1 round and half before the end of the day. Strong storm and heavy rains arrived in the evening and didn't stop during the night. Today, same scenario with no wind and wet air, and again storm tonight. We couldn't add new rounds. With 1.5 rounds the contest is therefore not valid. Next contest is in 2 weeks.

F3F French league: Vosgen

End of May was the french league contest in Vosgen. Nice conditions, with plenty of wind, 15 rounds flown over 2 days with 20 pilots. I've flown my Shinto and Jedi and got the fastest time of the comp in 36s with the Jedi (1.2kg of ballast). I won the contest, followed by my friend and MKS team mate Reto Blumer. Jacques Marczak finished third. A big thanks to the organisers Renaud and Stéphane !

More pictures here:


The evolutive ranking:


[Essai] Héron de Multiplex, Les volets font la différence !



Deux ans après la sortie du populaire et réussi Solius, Multiplex récidive avec une nouveauté présentée à Nuremberg, dans la parfaite lignée du Solius avec ce planeur de 2.40m d’envergure baptisé Héron (Nom de l’échassier), équipé de volets. Disponible en version kit à construire ou en version RR prêt à voler, c’est cette deuxième version dont je vous propose l’essai aujourd’hui.

Un Solius en à peine plus grand

En fait en y regardant de plus près, à part 24 cm de plus en envergure et l’ajout de volets, il faut bien le reconnaitre, rien de diffère si ce n’est le stab un poil plus grand. Même longueur de fuselage, même motorisation, même batterie recommandé, un poids en ordre de vol à peine plus élevé, ainsi que la charge alaire. D’ailleurs le Héron ne s’en cache pas car en dehors de saumon de l’aile lui donnant plus d’allongement et d’effilement, l’esthétique est la même.
Donc la grande nouveauté, ce sont ces fameux volets qui vont permettre, combinés aux ailerons, vont permettre d’élargir notablement le domaine de vol en permettant de jouer sur la courbure pour creuser le profil en position thermique, ou au contraire relever légèrement le bord de fuite pour obtenir une meilleur pénétration dans le vent. Sans oublier la phase d’atterrissage qui devrait être considérablement plus simple grâce au mixage « butterfly » (volet vers le bas, et ailerons vers le haut). Nous verrons lors de l’essai en vol si le Héron tient ces promesses.

Un kit plus abouti

A l’ouverture du carton qui pourra servir d’ailleurs boite de transport, on trouve les différents éléments soigneusement emballés dans du plastique à bulle. On commence par déballer les 2 ailes. Dans cette version RR, elles sont entièrement terminées, décorées, et équipées de 2 servos par demi-aile. La qualité de moulage est impressionnante, pas de trace de buses d’extraction, ou de points d’injection. La surface est parfaite, légèrement « glossy ».  A l’intrados, on devine le longeron qui cette fois ci est en alu autour d’un tube  en carbone (contrairement au Solius ou le tube était en fibre de verre). Autre point, le longeron court jusqu’aux winglets et ne s’arrête pas au 2 tiers de l’envergure comme sur le Solius. Ceci présage d’une meilleure rigidité. Les gouvernes ont également un insert en alu jouant le rôle de raidisseur. Les servos Tiny-S sont parfaitement intégrés dans leur logement, avec un carénage protégeant le palonnier et la commande. Cette commande est en corde à piano et est un poil long, nécessitant un petit ajustage à la pince coupante, un détail. Les fils sont proprement routés dans leurs saignées et recouvert d’un adhésif transparent. On retrouve à l’emplanture la grosse nervure en plastique qui intègre le logement pour la clé d’aile opposée et le système de verrouillage, tous les 2 repris du Solius, on ne change pas quelque chose qui fonctionne. Un petit regret pour les pinailleurs, les 2 prises de servos sont séparées et n’ont pas été regroupé sur un seul et même connecteur.


Passons au fuselage : Celui-ci reprend la même structure que celui du Solius, c’est-à-dire fait appel à la technologie M-Space qui consiste en un gros tube de section hexagonale dans la poutre arrière ainsi que des renforts en jonc fibre de verre sur le dessous et dessus de la partie avant du fuselage, ainsi que verticalement dans la dérive. Cette dernière reçoit les 2 servos Nano-S pour la profondeur et la direction. Le sommet de la dérive se termine par une assise en plastique recevant le Stab en T, sécurisé par 2 grosse vis plastique. La commande de profondeur se terminant par un coude, est d’une simplicité et d’une efficacité mécanique juste parfaite, sans jeu, tout comme sur le Solius. Une fois la verrière/baquet enlevée (Mr Multiplex, pourquoi le siège du baquet de verrière est-il désespérément vide ! un pilote même  silhouette suffirait amplement, quel dommage, cela rajouterai bien plus de réalisme) on découvre le même agencement que sur le Solius, avec le moteur brushless à l’aise dans son logement en plastique, puis le compartiment principale qui est bien profond puisqu’il court sous l’aile jusqu’au bord de fuite. L’ESC se situe à l’avant de compartiment, sur le côté. La batterie prend place juste à côté et devra être avancée ou reculée pour conserver le centre de gravité. Le récepteur, quant à lui, trouvera sa place tout au fond de se compartiment, ce n’est pas la place qui manque.
Je reviens sur la verrière. Le système de verrouillage est le même que sur le Solius. Je trouve qu’il manque un peu de fermeté car j’ai déjà perdu ma verrière en vol avec le Solius. Pour les courageux l’ajout d’un petit aimant à l’avant peu sécuriser sa fermeture.

Passons rapidement à la programmation de l’émetteur pour profiter pleinement de cette configuration quadroflap, ce qui commence par 3 phases de vol avec changement par interrupteur : Une phase normale avec les ailerons et volets en lisse, une phase thermique avec les gouvernes alignées mais légèrement baissées, une autre vitesse avec les gouvernes légèrement levées de 1 mm, pas plus. Un mixage quadroflap (ailerons vers volets) pour avoir un excellent taux de roulis. Le manche des gaz gère le moteur et permet de doser, un interrupteur temporaire active les aérofreins. On rajoute un interrupteur pour avoir les snapflaps, et un autre pour enclencher  le mixage ailerons vers profondeurs parfois intéressant quand on vole loin ou bas à la pente. Nous voici parés pour les premiers vols. 

En vol

J’avais bien aimé la motorisation du Solius, et savoir que c’est la même sur le Héron m’a tout de suite rassuré.  Et cela se confirme dès le premier vol, le taux de montée est excellent à plein régime. Cette fois, grâce à la télémétrie (vario et altimètre, avec annonce vocale) j’ai pu mesurer une prise d’altitude de 65m en 10 secondes, soit 6 à 7 m/s de taux ascensionnel. L’autonomie avec un accu de 2200mAh dépendra évidemment de la météo et de comment vous lui tirerez dessus. Disons que par temps neutre, il doit être possible de faire 15 minutes de vol.

Coupons le moteur et observons le comportement du planeur. Première constatation, sa vitesse de croisière est plutôt élevée, avec une très bonne finesse. La réactivité en roulis est franchement bonne et ne manque pas de mordant, merci le quadroflap. La stabilité est au rendez-vous grâce à la présence des winglets. Le planeur marque clairement les zones de portance. Le Héron donne  l'illusion d’un planeur bien plus grand tellement il avale les distances, traversant facilement les zones d'air descendante. Si l'air est vraiment mauvais, on peut même s'en échapper rapidement avec la position vitesse. Le Héron permet ainsi de couvrir un volume de vol très important, ce qui fait tout l’intérêt du vol thermique et met en exergue la stratégie de vol.

La tenue en spirale est très bonne dès lors que l’on garde de la vitesse. Par contre si l’on ralenti le planeur en serrant trop la spirale, le décrochage guette, donc il faut rester doux sur la dérive particulièrement efficace. Le décrochage est franc, sort facilement après un demi-tour, mais néanmoins surprend la première fois, vous voici prévenus !

En vol thermique à faible incidence, Il est possible de piloter le Héron uniquement à la dérive, la remise à plat se faisant alors sans problème.

En mettant en peu de volet, le nez du planeur remonte immédiatement, donc quelques crans de trim à piquer sont nécessaires pour retrouver une attitude de vol correcte pour cette phase de vol. L’augmentation de la courbure (volet et ailerons alignés) permet d’augmenter la portance dans le thermique, mais également la trainée. J’ai trouvée qu’il fallait limiter son utilisation à l’exploitation des thermiques, le reste du temps le profil en lisse donne un meilleur compromis. Si votre radio le permet je vous recommande de programmer 2 positions de volets thermiques ce qui vous permettra d’avoir une position avec très peu de volet vous permettant d’explorer une zone large, et une deuxième position pour exploiter une zone de portance plus franche.

A l’opposé, la position vitesse accélère le planeur. Le Héron file encore plus vite, toujours aussi stable. Cette position permet en autre de mieux remonter le vent, de s’échapper d’une « dégueulante », ou alors pour faire un peu de voltige.

Justement passons à la voltige: Bien que le Héron ne démérite pas dans ce domaine, je dois avouer que je m'attendais à mieux. Les winglets qui sont un plus dans les autres phases de vol handicapent légèrement le planeur dès que l'on attaque la voltige. Ainsi le tonneau doit se travailler un peu pour rester dans l'axe. Tout comme le Solius et d'autres planeurs en « mousse » les figures verticales manquent un peu d'amplitude ce qui se compense aisément en trichant avec le moteur. Un petit coup de gaz dans la partie ascendante permet de gagner quelques mètres. Le vol dos nécessite un manche à piquer avec le centre de gravité d'origine, mais s'améliore si l'on recule celui-ci. Les ailes sont plus rigides que celles du Solius, mais les ressources ou sorties de figure montre cependant un peu de flexion, et c’est bien normal, on ne peut pas demander la même rigidité à un modèle en Elapor qu’à un modèle avec des ailes coffrées ou composite.

L'atterrissage: C'est sur cette phase de vol que la différence avec le Solius est le jour et la nuit. Alors que la plupart du temps l'atterrissage pouvait s'apparenter à un appontage avec le Solius et ses ailerons relevés qui augmente le taux de chute mais pas la vitesse horizontale, l'effet des volets vers le bas et ailerons vers le haut du Héron ralenti le planeur de manière évidente ce qui permet en dosant d'atterrir en toute sécurité au pied à tous les coups. Si vous êtes en altitude et que vous désirez atterrir rapidement, il suffit de tout sortir, décider de la pente de descente et le Héron s’exécute sans accélérer jusqu’à l'arrondi final, le pied !
J’oubliais, cela n’a pas loupé, j’ai perdu la verrière en vol. Heureusement qu’elle est tombé à quelques dizaines de mètres dans une zone dégagée … Donc pensez à sécuriser sa fixation, soit par des aimants, soit par un bout de scotch.

Conclusion

Que dire au final de ce Héron si ce n'est que le kit RR met la barre haute que ce soit sur le choix des composants embarqués, une bonne motorisation ou la qualité indéniable de fabrication et d'assemblage. Il s'agit d'un vrai planeur RTF, premium, pas un kit au rabais. L'esthétique avenante du modèle aussi bien au sol qu'en vol en fait un planeur attrayant. Et puis la présence de volet permet réellement d'élever le niveau de performance en élargissant le domaine de vol, et surtout rendant l'atterrissage une simple formalité. Certes, le Héron ne s'adresse pas au débutant, mais se positionne plutôt comme planeur de transition ou perfectionnement, avec de réelles capacités, et plus planeur que « mousse ». A titre perso, cela me change de mes "suppositoires" tout plastique et je dois dire que je prends un réel plaisir en vol loisir avec le Héron comme j'en ai pris avec le Solius.

J’ai aimé

  • Look très réussi
  • Qualité d’assemblage de la version RR
  • Motorisation


J’ai moins aimé

  • Fixation verrière aléatoire
  • Absence de pilote dans le baquet

Friday, May 22, 2015

F3F French league: Séderon

French F3F league, contest of Séderon in the south alps. On Saturday, we went to the north west slope, but wind was blowing north. Conditions were hyper variable. We managed to do 5 rounds with some reflights. Sunday, the wind didn't start to blow before we ended the contest so we couldn't do more rounds. Philippe Lanes won this competition with very nice flights, followed by Fréderic Hours and Arnaud Léger.


Monday, May 11, 2015

F3F national championship not validated

Last week in Panat (Rodez), the French F3F national championship finished with 2 rounds over 3 days so is unfortunately not validated. Even the 2 rounds flown were a super lottery with times from 53s (best time) and 80s, from one flight to another . This is the first time in 11 years of existence we don't have a valid championship, but this can happen. Anyway, we still had a great week-end with friendly atmosphere and good food, lot's or FPC quad, lots of Alulas, while waiting for the wind. A big thanks to the organisers who tried everything they could to make it and also the club who hosted the event for their kindness and sense of hospitality !


F3F in Auvergne

French league stopped in the country of volcanos (Auvergne). New slope for our F3F category, good wind, nice landscape. 9 rounds flown in the afternoon with 18 pilots on Saturday. On sunday, we had only a light wind from south so couldn't resume the competition. Consequenctly it was sport flying for everybody and exploration of new F3F spot around. In a 1 to 2km distance we now have a west slope, 3 south slopes, 1 south east to east, one superb north to north east slope. All slopes are within 30 minutes easy walking distance. A great place with a awesome scenery all around as you will see on the picture below.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Magnet Holder from Zepsus

Zepsus, the manufacturer of the now very popular magnetic switch, released a new magnet holder with a stronger magnet, attached to a 75cm line from a auto roll up unit.
You attach this magnet holder to your pant or jacket. The new magnet extends the activation range by 3 times which is good for large scale gliders, but also for F3X planes where there is no more need to locate the magnet very accurately to swithc on and off. A simple pass is enough, and this changes your life ! Personnaly, I use the Zepsus magnetic switch on all my competition plane. They work flawlessly for few years already, are very tiny, accept high current draw and are HV ready.


F3F French league, Esculliens

First competition of the french league 2015, 29 pilots, a new slope, replacing Laurac, 7 rounds in an afternoon, no round on sunday because of the rain. Frederic Hours won the competition with 3 or 4x 1000. I missed the podium after a buzzerman forgot to beep the end of my flight that was in 36 or 37 and a 1000. I got a reflight but did only a 44s. Very nice slope, and good day with friends.

Evolutive ranking and final result below:


Some pictures here where you can have an idea of this new slope, from the bottom included:




and a video of a run of JB Deguelle with hisTyphoon+ from RCRCM:


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

MPX Heron review

You can read my 5 pages review of the MPX Heron in the april issue of RC-Pilot International:


The Baudis Jedi in flight

Some pictures of the Baudis Jedi in flight:


And a video:



La Muela 2015, 20th Anniversary


20 years ago, I discovered for the first time this curious hill, flat at the top, accessible by car, with all wind orientation slopes. It was also my first international competition. I was flying an Ellipse 1 at that time. I won this 1995 edition so I won't forget.  It was also the opportunity to visit some part of this beautiful country, Toledo, Cordoba, Madrid, Aruanjuez, the Sierra Nevada. In 2015, it was therefore impossible to miss the 20th edition !

52 pilots engaged, from Germany, Norway, Switzerland, England, France and of course Spain. As it was early april, we could expect some low temperature and why not some some like in 2012 for example. But weather has been very good this time with some worries regarding the low wind predicted.

I arrived on Wednesday, driving from Barcelone. On the slope, the wind was blowing around 13m/s and already lots of competitors were practicing intensively. But with the rotation, it was possible to fly. The wind was from North so we were flying above the village of Alarilla.

The first day of the competition, flights started around 2pm as planned, but the wind that was still blowing in the early norning started to decrease a bit, with the sunshine. This made the conditions very variable, with thermal popping time to time. I got one in first round, Inaki got it in the second round. The rest of time the air was average with sometimes sink air. We managed 3 rounds the first afternoon, which was good considering the 52 pilots. Inaki was leading, followed by me and Jose Luis in 3rd.


The next day has been more complicate. Air was stable, with very little to no wind. We spend the major part of the day enjoying thermalling, looking at Storks, flying with bungee, electro glider. But we also succeeded to do one round, which was very important to validate the competition. At the end of the afternoon, we moved to the south slope where the breeze was trying to blow a bit, because of the sun, but we couldn't start another round.

The third and last day, forecast was better with some stronger wind from north again. We did 4 additional rounds before to stop, then cancel the round as the wind dropped. Again conditions were very variables. I got another big thermal and achieved the fastest time of the competition with a 33sXX . Matthieu Mervelet did another 33s in the last round. Inaki missed a great opportunity to take some points by ending his course at lap 8, before to realize his fault an re-enter the course. I did the same in the last round, finishing by a roll at lap 8, then heard my team mate shooting at me, re-enter the course and finish in 47s. Hopefully it was with no consequence on the result for me.
Following the interruption, the organisers tried hard to resume then launch another round, but the wind decided different. Finally the organiser decided to end this 20th edition.  I won the competition by a good margin over the second. Inaki after being 3rd, finally finished 2nd, followed by José Luis. Angel López is 4th and Arnaud Leger 5th. The points are decreasing very quickly after the first places. Full result can be seen here.

Overall it was a great competition (I couldn't say the contrary), the organisers once again did a great job, and extracted the maximum of flights possible from the conditions and time they had. I want to say a big thank you to the base judges (Piloneros) who stayed the whole week-end as buzzermen, Miguel Medina, and Miguel Torra, at the course direction, with the help of Iñigo Herrera.

This competition became a must over the year, in a unique place, with friendly people, and F3F mate from all over europe. Again a big thanks to the organizing team for this great competition !

See you next year for sure !

Organiser's web site here

Some video

The clip from Aubry Gabanon:



Jiri Hladky released these 5 videos about La Muela, giving a full coverage of the event. thanks Jiri !

1 part: training day and first race day warm-up
2 part: first race day
3 part: second race day
4 part: third race day part a
5 part: third race day part b

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Alula TREK ... same recipe but tastier !



When I first saw the picture of the Alula TREK, I found she looked like the Alula EVO, especially because the specs are very close if not similar. But in fact the Alula TREK is different on every aspect as we will discover:
  • Aerodynamic
  • Contruction / Assembly
  • Flying capabilities

What changed in the design ?

According to Michael Richter, DF (Dream Flight) worked on the following things with the new Alula TREK:

1) New airfoil: DF took what they learned from the EVO series and applied this to the new TREK series. They wanted to achieve trimmed flight with the elevons close to neutral position, at best glide. Both the evo designs always required a little trim to get it right. Basically, they took the best characteristics of the EVO airfoils and attempted to merge them, and at the same time thickness was reduced for the alula-TREK and camber was adjusted lightly as getting closer to the wingtip. This is very visible when comparing side by side the wing tip of the alula Evo and TREK, Alula TREK tip is thinner and the winglet is less prohiminent.

2) DF finessed the shapes and the thicknesses of the parts to reduce the volume so that they could use a little more dense foam for added durability. But this was a balance, since they did not want to affect the flight performance and style much. In the end these changes, in their opinion made the design better in flight too.

3) In addition to the airfoils, They made some slight changes to overall wing planform. Forward sweep angle was reduced slightly to reduce amount of noseweight, and the nose length was increased slightly for the same reason. The chord lengths are also a little different from root to tip than the EVO... a little less area at the tips, and with less wingtip up-turn. Elevon area has also been increased slightly, and the reduced hinge angle affects the flight and control slightly too.



4) A small ballast compartiment at the CoG location allows to put 20 gr to 30gr of lead, to improve the behavior in the wind.



Kit overview

Let's have a quick look to the kit now. The nicely decorated carbox is now rectangular and make the storage of the Alula TREK easier, without constraint that could deform the wing after a while. The two wings are finished with the carbon spar installed and also the control horn in place. Same for the interlocking system, which is light and very convenient, or the magnets.

The central part of the Alula TREK is also nearly finished and need only the radio installation. The plastic belly skid provide a nice reinforcement of the nose, and allows; like on the Libelle to have a canopy to easily access the radio. The canopy is maintained in place by 2 strong magnets.


The fin and the print on the "fuselage" make the fixation thighter so stronger. A pocket with accessories contains the control rods ready to use, the clevises (same as the Libelle), the interlocking screws some velcro adhesive. Another pocket contains the stickers and transparent stickers

In term of moulding quality, I found it much better, with no mark of injection nozzle, nice edges. Details are better respected and the surface finish is also nicer.

In oder to give you a better comparison, below are some picture showing side by side some details:


Now, there is a canopy on the TREK:



Here you can see the better moulding quality on the TREK

the interlocking system is simpler, lilghter and more efficient on the TREK


Below the junction between the wing and the fuselage with the smart lip that lock the wing in translation, excellent idea !


On the left, no remaining work !



30 minutes chrono

This is the time you will need to assemble the alula TREK,  as everything that was requiring some glue on the EVO is already in place on the TREK. On the wing, the only operation consists is puttng the interlocking screw in place, so let's say 20 seconds for the 2. On the fuselage, this is also quite fast.

If you have the recommended servo or the one sold in option by Dream Flight, then after installing the servo arm in place, at the neutral position, you just need to insert them in their servo print, route the wire throught the wing until the receiver location. a transparent sticker is applied on the servos to secure it's mounting.


The front of the radio compartiment is moulded for a 300mAh, NimH, 4 cells battery. The battery receives some velcro, before to be place in the fuselage. The receiver, a 4 channels from FrSky (D4R) with 2 antennas is located behind the battery. I placed the 2 antennas toward the nose, on each side of the battery. considering that the Alula won't fly far from tme, the range is not a real issue, and the fact to not respect the 90° between the 2 antennas is therefore not critical.

Not included in the 30 minutes, the painting. I used some paper tape for masking, and an orange acrylic spray to paint.

I needed 5grs in the nose on the side of the battery to obtain the market CoG. Finished, my alula TREK weights 172gr.



Flying the Alula TREK

First of all, I found the alula TREK easy to launch (PS: You certainly remember my great quality as HLG launcher at the end of a video about the Libelle ...). She is easier to launch because smaller, she takes the energy well, and you don't need a full armside  launch rotation to reach a confortable altitude allowing to glide, explore the field, or even catch a thermal ... yes yes, it can happens ! To obtain a better launch the Alula must be perfectly trimmed to not diverge and climb straight. the grip provided by the upperside and underside clear tape is satisfying considering you cannot "inject" the same power into the launch compare to a normal HLG.

In flight, what is immediatly noticeable is the natural speed which is high. At the field, it is better to let the Alula to fly. If you try to slow her down the sink ratio increases quickly. In the air, she is demonstrative and indicates the lift or sink air very well. Of course she will not be as competitive as a HLG in this excercice, but she is more than good enough to enjoy it !
Compared to the Libelle, she is easier to launch, has a higher cruise speed but sink ratio is a bit higher, so where the Libelle can come back to be hand catched, the Alula will miss it by few meters from the same distance.

At the slope the Alula TREK is a joy to fly. It looks like she borrowed some ADN of the weasel as she is fast, agile, and like to play. The Alula EVO was very sensitive to proper setup, and this is apparently not the case with the TREK !
The looping is easy, and nice, when it was nearly impossible with the EVO, looking most of the time as a "comma" if she had not enough speed and energy.  With the TREK, you can chain them without any problem which indicate that she doesn't dissipate her energy quickly. The roll can be quick or slow depending of your settings. With 10mm of ailerons, the roll rate is fine, but is more confortable with 13mm as indicated in the user manual. Inverted flight that needed a backward CoG on the EVO is a simple task with the TREK, even with a "out of the box" CoG. The Alula TREK penetrates well the wind, and with the small ballast compartiment where you can have 20gr (metal) to 30g (lead) of ballast, it is even better.

At the landing the wings have a tendancy to open rotate, so even if the magnet secure the wings well in flight you can add a bit of Blenderm tape underside on the junction to avoid this.
Several friends borrowed me the Alula TREK, either at the field or at the slope this week-end. They liked a lot and all said: "Wow ! there are noticeable improvements over the Alula Evo" for those who still have one.


Conclusion

Overall I found the Alula TREK better in all compartiments, thanks to a wider flying envelop. Therefore she can be flown more often in various conditions from no wind and pure thermalling to light breeze with the same joy and same smile on your face.

From my point of view, Dream flight succeeded to propose us a revisited Alula, reducing the assembly time, improving her flying capabilities to satisfy even more people. It is easy to guess that this alula TREK will be another best seller considering how big was the success of the previous version, and how much the new one is awaited !


Specifications:

WINGSPAN             900 mm
WING AREA           16.71 dm2
WEIGHT                  172 gr
WING LOADING    9.3-10.2 gm/dm2
CONTROLS             2 Channels (elevons)
PRICE                       90 $

The Mont-blanc

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