Sunday, 25 January 2015

Venturing into business

I have decided to start selling glider related RC bits and bobs.
Skipsoaring is the trading name and at the moment I am using Facebook as the platform.

I am selling KST servos and PracticalRC magnetic switches to start with and am working on expanding my product line.

Check out the Skipsoaring facebook page and feel free to let me know what you think. Contact Skipsoaring at

Our Website will be at although online shopping won't be available just yet.

A flame re-kindled......

I cartwheeled my F3B Skorp back in  June 2011.  It broke my heart and I had not worked up the courage to tackle the necessary repairs until recently.
She is all repaired now, although in desperate need of some tarting up!

I was so nervous about flying her again that I had been procrastinating consistently for the last month or so and although she was ready for a thrashing, I just couldn't bring myself to let her out.

Well after using her ugly stepsister (DSL) in my first recent comp and managing to come second to last, I bit the bullet and had a day of testing and comparing the two Skorps in marginal conditions on the Icecream slope yesterday.

The difference between the two gliders was astounding!! The DSL felt handicapped compared to the F3B and is now taking a back seat until the conditions are too strong for the F3B and the DSL will be loaded to the hilt and thrashed!

Just need to set up the F3B on the Taranis and give her a well-deserved paint and polish.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Welsh Winter League 2015 round 3

It was a wee bit chilly this morning but the views were spectacular and there was a bit of a breeze, so it was looking pretty good!

John Philips was first up and was whizzing around getting us all excited about some great times. It ended up that there was a bit of a thermal lottery going on and I had some dud tickets. Joel West had the golden ticket and the thumbs to go along with it although he only just pipped JP for the win with Tony Livingstone grabbing third overall.
 I managed to be the best placed welsh resident with thanks to Clive H Jones letting me just beat him to the second last place!
I've got to get the settings sorted. The air I got wasn't as bad as my times suggested and I think my thumbs were getting a bit excited.

Speaking of excited........ I'M GOING TO RUGEN FOR THE GERMAN OPEN!!!!!!
Lots of practice between now and then.

Massive thanks to Andrzej for his selflessness today to sit in the middle without flying and running the comp.
It was awesome to see everyone again today and I'm looking forward to more abd more great times on the slopes.
 See Andrzej's  blog for the results here:
It's good to be back

Thursday, 8 January 2015

18650 LiIon batteries as receiver packs

I had an issue recently with my receiver packs which was caused (I believe) by my lack of understanding regarding the do's and don'ts of batteries.
I had heard people talk about cycling their battery packs to give them a bit of a tidy up and with my fancy-pants charger I set the packs to do 3 cycles.
What I didn't realize is that you should never discharge batteries below certain voltages and I set the cycle to 0.0v. I also left the battery packs in my drawer and fuselage (disconnected) for about 3 years of inactivity. 
This short story is becoming a tad lengthy, so to wrap it up, the 4 cell NiMh battery pack failed recently leading to a catastrophic meeting of terrain and a baffled Aussie. What the heck had happened? What had I done?

After some research and some advice, I chose to install the same set up as Reto Blumer with 2 x 18650 LiIon batteries (Panasonic NCR 18650PF 2900mAh). These two batteries deliver 8.4V fully charged when configured in series which is a bit too much for standard servos requiring the voltage to be dropped down by the time it gets to the servos.

There were 2 options for doing this. The first was to install UBEC's  in the wiring of the wing and fuselage just prior to the servos that converted the high voltage to 5V, guaranteeing to not burn out your servos. This option also allowed your receiver to receive the entire voltage from the pack which is excellent if you have telemetry sent to your transmitter with battery voltage.
Even though the ground had kindly disassembled my wing and given me access to the wiring, I chose to install a single UBEC before the receiver which converts the voltage to 5V (you can choose 6V if you like). This negates my in-built telemetry for battery voltage (I can buy a sensor to give the telemetry back) and also creates a little headache for the fuselage installation with 2 issues.

The placement of the UBEC can interfere with the operation of the receiver. There is some techo reason for this, but it is irrelevant really. The fact is that you need to have the UBEC far enough away from the RX to allow proper function. this took some significant jiggery-pokery, but I did manage to achieve it! The second issue is the additional space required.

All the figuring out is worth it in the end though as I now have ample battery supply and power and a new, embedded charging regime. I also have a little voltage meter which which I can check the voltage of the pack before or after each flight.

I have done some more research on the batteries and I think I'll stick to the Panasonics and continue to get them from ECOLUXSHOP on Ebay. I got lots of information from The Battery University which I found I could understand after reading it a few times. The UBECS are available from T9Hobbysports for the inline ones for individual servos and the Single UBEC for the entire system I got from First Person View. One of my Skorps didn't have a switch so I got a magnetic one from Rich at T9 as well. I also mad a very cheap and basic voltage tester by soldering two male servo pins onto the wires of this.

I found a good list of precautions regarding LiIon batteries that I'd like to share with you here:

Never completely discharge li-ion battery ( below 2.5V ).Charge fully before first use.Never use force to install (insert) li-ion battery.Use only high quality battery chargers.Do not expose to heat. Do not short (connect) positive, and negative battery contacts. (Keep battery that is not in use in plastic holder)Do not charge battery over 4.29V (another reason to use good battery charger).Do not charge unattended.Do not store your li-ion batteries fully charged (for extended period of time).Store in cold and dry place at approximately 3.7V (storage charge).Never try to charge (or discharge) li-ion batteries with battery chargers that are not made for Li-ion batteries.- See more at: http://www.orbtronic...h.lECsV2VZ.dpuf

Hopefully some of this info will be helpful for you, however please remember that I am by no means an expert and am not trying to tell you how to set up your power supply for your planes. Copy my set up at your own significant risk!!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Glider Repair Lab DVD/Download set

I now have both my Skorpions in the air and am really looking forward to hitting the slopes for some long lost F3F competitions!

I have to give no small amount of credit to Paul Naton at RadioCarbonArt for his fantastic series of films called the Glider repair Lab.

There are three parts of 2 hours each giving an information and instruction filled 6 hours of eye-opening and confidence building repair techniques.

It is well worth purchasing the set which you can do at this link!

Here are a couple of preview from youtube to watch as a teaser too

Have a look and give them a go if you want to repair your precious gliders instead of leaving them in bin bags till you have a clean-out!!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Repairs page updated.

I've updated the repairs page with some pics and words describing my attempt at repairing the Skorp.

It'll be a bit weird to read in a years time, but I'll keep the newest updates at the top each time with the date of the updates in RED

Glider crash video.

Unfortunately, it was my glider and I was flying it, not filming it.

I think I can see that the battery did eventually give the servos some juice as it was my full down elevator input that caused it to dive in. Better that than the alternative of continuing on it's merry way to Nant-y-Moel.

I've started the repairs by removing the broken ballast tube and repairing it.

To do this I had to completely remove the nose from the skorp as it was only being held on by a couple of strands so that gives me the opportunity to remove all the material from the previous repairs and do a proper job.

The fuse aft of the wing is also broken, but that is only minor and an easy fix.

Apart from removing the control surfaces at impact, the wings really only need a clean, polish and a tiny bit of CA!

I'd like to try out my new paint scheme too, but we'll see what the weather is like and how much time I have left before the next comp (either 7th Dec or 21st Dec).

I have decided to upgrade my power supply for the receiver and servos. I will be using Panasonic NCR18650's (Li-Ion), a UBEC to get the voltage down to the appropriate 5 or 6v and the magnetic switch as previously fitted. not sure whether to run 2 or 3 cells and will see what fits and weighs the right amount as the voltage doesn't matter now that I can control the voltage supplied to the receiver.

One slight issue is that the telemetry for the Receiver pack voltage will need an external probe rather than using the inbuilt one.