This blog is in reverse order so that regular readers can easily find the latest entries. If you are new to my blog and want to read from the begining, please scroll to the bottom and begin there.

17. Wild Hawk Nicknames

Posted on March 26, 2009

Lots of folks like to play with the Wild Hawk's name especially Billy D. Here is a list of nicknames I've heard:

  • WH
  • Wild Squak
  • Wild Honk
  • Wild Hog
  • Night Hawk
  • Wild Cat

16. Wild Hawk in Need of a Tim Allen Makeover

Posted on March 16, 2009

I continue to practice flying the Easy Star on the ClearView simulator, I increased the control surfaces of the Wild Hawk, I adjusted the CG of the Wild Hawk and I fly once a week. I used to crash alot! I have gotten better and really don't crash much now. The control surfaces and CG adjustment have really allowed me to call what I do flying. So now I'm pretty sure my last problem is really not about me. It the Wild Hawk's fault; well actually, a lack of power.

Before getting the Wild Hawk I read a wide variety of opinions about the Wild Hawk. Some said it is perfect, some said it needs a bit of adjusting and some really complained that it had no power. Dave Powers said it does not have alot of power but it has enough. So I thought that the reason it falls out of the sky so easily was just me and it was for a while. I figured the guys complaining about power were old hands at RC and were used to high performance planes. But now I am thinking a bit differently.

I'm not saying that all Wild Hawk's are poorly powered but I think my power plant is bad (as in defective). Too late to take it back for an exchange and beside I eventually want crazy amounts of power anyway. So I'm shopping Grayson and NitroPlanes for the right motor, ESC, prop, Lipo and charger. I'm hoping this will allow me to have some good climbing capability or be able to power myself out of trouble. When I look at other guys videos on YouTube they show the stock Wild Hawk with some respectable climbing capability and even the ability to loop with a slight dive. I can do neither so as Tim Allen says "More Power!".

15. Wild Hawk Nose Weight

Posted on March 14, 2009

After increasing the size of the Wild Hawk's rudder and elevator I found I had much more control of the plane. However, it still did not seem to respond as it should. Realizing that the CG seemed like it was nearly at mid-wing I consulted the experts on Dave Power's chat and they said unless the plane's instructions said otherwise that the center of gravity should be about 1/3 back from the wing's leading edge. The instructions said nothing about this and so I shifted the battery forward and added 1.5 oz to the nose of the Wild Hawk. It is a much improved and almost completely different airplane yet still a forgiving trainer.

UPDATE: I have since moved the CG to 2.5 inches from the leading edge of the wing, the nose weight down to 1 ounce and the stock battery as far forward as possible.

14. Wild Hawk Tail Feathers

Posted on March 4, 2009

I know I'm not the greatest pilot but I'm also realizing that the Wild Hawk is not the perfect plane. Turning left and right seems sluggish and after some research I think it is time to increase the size of the rudder and elevator. Being a cheap-skate, I'm taking a somewhat different approach to doing this than other people might. It ain't pretty but it works and, besides, they don't call it a Wild Hawk for nothin'.

There is a very cool guy that has done all the possible upgrades to a Wild Hawk so check out BillyD's Wild Hawk Upgrade video. He shows you all the upgrades in one shot. While you're there check out Billy's other videos, they are great.

13. Wild Hawk Twins

Posted on March 2, 2009

I've been flying the Wild Hawk for a while. On Dave Powers' Ustream chat some folks have had trouble finding a supplier that will ship to them. This tends not to be a problem for folks in the USA however people in other countries have expressed problems. I have only found the Wild Hawk offered in the USA but there are twins of it under different names. As far as I can tell it is exactly the same kit. Below are links to the Wild Hawk, the Icon Jr. Hawk and the Merlin Condor 1380. Check the links and I believe that you find a supplier that will ship to you.

I have no relationship with the following suppliers nor do I endorse any of them. Please use reasonable care when dealing with any internet vendor.

12. Wild Hawk Soup

Posted on February 15, 2009

Have you dented and compressed the foam on your Wild Hawk? Glue and Tape won't fix that. I compressed the nose so bad on my Wild Hawk that I was actually yawing to the left. Time to get a new Wild Hawk? Absolutely not! That would cost money and there is an easy way to fix it. I give you Wild Hawk Soup.

This is based on an idea I found over at RC Groups to fix a similar problem with the Multiplex EasyStar (the Wild Hawk's older and richer cousin). Better get your wife's or mother's permission or just do it when she is not looking.

11. Billy D's Plan is for Me!

Posted on February 8, 2009

So Billy D (BillyD's RC) just did a bunch of upgrades to his Wild Hawk that match my vision. Incremental in complexity and cost. His steps were as follows:

  • Battery (buy LiPo Battery and LiPo charger) - He added a 3 cell 11.1V LiPo which made the brushed motor scream. The ESC seemed to be able to take it and though it might burn out the brushed motor, a later step will take care of that.
  • Ailerons (buy two servos and a Y-harness) - He cut two ailerons into the wing and drove them with two separate servos. He stayed with the stock radio and since it is only 3 channels he disabled the rudder and uses the rudder channel to drive the aileron servos.
  • Brushless Motor (buy motor and ESC) - Now he gets even more power with a brushless motor and a brushless ESC.
  • Full Control (buy a 4+ channel radio) - Finally, he abandons the stock radio and puts a Spectrum DX6i in the Wild Hawk so he gets the rudder back and has better control.

If you head over to Billy's website he has videos and pictures that take you through the upgrades.

10. Wild Hawk Wing Tube Repair

Posted on January 30, 2009

I have now performed 3 vertical landings! Unfortunately, the Wild Hawk is not designed for that kind of a maneuver. Luckily the light foam construction has saved me from horrible damage. However, I did snap the wing tube that helps hold the wings together in flight. Here is how I repaired the damage and ensured that my repair does not lead to greater damage in the future.

9. Correcting a Permanent Left Bank

Posted on January 25, 2009

My Wild Hawk developed a nasty left bank recently. I tried giving it all the right stick I could and it still loved to bank left and with determination. I checked the wings, then the trim on the rudder and the vertical-ness (Is that a word?) of the vertical stabilizer but could not figure it out. The nose has a little bend in it but that does not explain it. Could the motor be angled? Well it has a little bit of an angle. To take the motor out of the equation I hand launched the Wild Hawk with the motor off and just glided it. Now it really wants to bank left! I picked it up and looked at it head on at the field but everything looks fine. Rats! So I took it home to find out what is going on.

After inspecting it at home I still saw nothing. So now I suspected a twist in the body or in the wings. I ended up making a balance (couple of nails in a wood stand) and put the Wild Hawk on it at its CG and began looking at it. Again, it looked fine from the from and from the sides. When I looked at it from the back I now saw that the horizontal stabilizer is cock-eyed. That it!

Without the balance and concentrating on the rear view I would have never seen it. The left side of the stabilizer is low and the right side is high relative to the wings. Holding the Wild Hawk by the fuselage prevented me from seeing the wing-stabilizer relationship. I must have damaged it in a hard landing (most people would call it a crash). So now all I have to do it true up the horizontal stabilizer and all should be well.

8. Wild Hawk Transmitter & Rechargeable Batteries

Posted on January 17, 2009

Rather than go through a bunch of alkaline batteries I popped in some Sanyo NiCd batteries. However, after doing so the transmitter would not power-up. Hmmm... Put the alkaline batteries back and all is well. Hmmm... Upon further inspection I found there is a slot that the tab of the furthest right battery must fit into in order to make contact and complete the circuit. The Sanyo NiCd batteries' tabs are ever so slightly wider than a regular alkalines'. Rather than widen the slot I bent the contact out a bit so that the NiCd battery's tab can now make contact. Works like a champ.

If you are just learning about the Wild Hawk's transmitter you will note some confusing language in the manual. "When the battery begins to reach the end of its power, the red LED light on the Transmitter will light up, indicating low transmitter power." Which makes you think that if you see the red LED then your batteries are drained. But a little later the manual says "Red LED light on Transmitter is flashing. This indicates that the batteries have reached the end of their power.". So what is going on? Well the the red and the green LED light up anytime you turn on the transmitter. If both LEDs are solid then all is well but if the red LED is flashing (you hear some beeping too) then the batteries are low and need to be replaced or charged-up depending on the type of batteries you are using.

7. Ailerons - Dave's & Keith's Advice

Posted on January 13, 2009

I sent Dave and Keith a question last Sunday about progressing to ailerons from the Wild Hawk and they did a very nice job of answering me. I asked if I should modify the Wild Hawk or just start with one of their plans. You can watch the video of their answer here but fast forward to 35:50 (it runs until 39:20).

Dave touched on the Extra 300 but then both he and Keith sort of went back to the Wild Hawk and suggested the following. Start with the Wild Hawk and fly it as-is, next upgrade the motor and ESC and fly it that way for a while, finally cut in ailerons, add servos and a new radio (the Wild Hawk only comes with a 3 channel radio) and fly it all up. From there I guess my first home build could be the Extra 300 but, from my previous post, Caleb jumped right to the F-117 (very cool). If I pick my components just right, I should be able to gut the Wild Hawk and with the new motor, ESC and radio, build almost any of Dave's plans.

They suggested that I go back and take a look and what they did to their Wild Hawk and watch the video from Ron J to get ideas for myself. I think that this a strategy that will work for me. $85 for the Wild Hawk gets me in the air cheap and if I walk away from this hobby then no big deal. Most of the motors and ESCs are in the $30 range (I'll probably need a LiPo too) so a nice incremental step. Finally jump in with some servos and a kick-ass radio and I'll be ready for just about anything in the future.

Thanks Dave & Keith! You guys are great.

6. Caleb's Website

Posted on January 12, 2009

I've noticed that one of the moderators on RCPowers is a guy by the name of Caleb. It appears that he is somewhat new to flying but has progressed very fast from trainers to the Dave Powers F-117. He has a really extensive website called CM Reel where he is also documenting his adventurers in this hobby.

He has a page called RC Ground School with lots of links and information on how to progress and develop your flying skills. Check it out.

5. Trainer Plane - The Wild Hawk

Posted on January 10, 2009

Once I'm ready to move from the RC flight simulator to real life, I have to choose a trainer plane. Trainers are built to be rather stable in flight and usually only come with 3 channels of control (throttle, rudder and elevator). I want to transition easily without spending all my time building so I'll be getting a RTF (ready to fly) kit which means it is basically assembled with the radio included, servos and motor installed. Usually you snap on the wings and tail, charge the batteries and off you go.

Prior to finding RCPowers I was seriously looking at the Easy Star from Multiplex. As an RTF it costs around $200 but if you want to supply your own battery, transmitter and receiver then you can get it for about $130. It is very popular and some people are using it as a camera platform for aerial photography and even as a remotely piloted vehicle. This is about half the price to start flying that it cost me years ago and that's not even considering inflation!

However, Dave Powers turned me on to the Wild Hawk. Its basically an $80 knock-off of the Easy Star and according to Dave it flies great for the price. You can find the Wild Hawk off a link from Dave's website or you can buy it through your local Harbor Freight store. If you purchase it at your local store it will be priced at $100 but if you print out the online price and take it with you they will match that price in the store.

4. Simulator to Real Life Transition

Posted on January 18, 2009

I've been flying the Easy Star in the ClearView simulator and have really gotten good. If you go to the "Settings" menu and select "Weather Setup" and set the "Wind Speed" to 2.25 m/s and the "Wind Gust" to 20% you will be challenged. If you can fly this well then I think you are ready to buy the Wild Hawk and start flying for real!

In the U.S we tend to think of wind in miles per hour and elsewhere in kilometers per hour so here is a quick conversion chart to meters per second.

3. RC Simulators - More Info

Posted on January 8, 2009

I've pretty much fallen in love with the ClearView RC flight simulator. It works really well with my E-Sky 0905A 4 channel simulator transmitter. I found a model for the Multiplex Easy Star airplane and have been "flying" it for a couple of days. I can circle the field, loop, roll and land with only a rare crash. I've even flown with 2 to 5 MPH winds and gusts of up to 50%. I've tried my hand with a couple of other 3 channel trainers but I know I have more to learn before I get my real plane.

I discovered something about simulators; disconnect and mute your microphone. My E-Sky simulator transmitter connects via USB but other transmitters can connect via the microphone port of the PC. The simulators are always "listening" to the microphone port so if you are connected via USB but have a live mic, the simulator gets confused. So unplug any external mics and mute any built-in mics.

2. RC Simulators

Posted on January 7, 2009

Something that did not exist the first time I learned RC is a flight simulator. I'm not talking about software like Microsoft's Flight Simulator but one that simulates the experience of standing on the ground and flying your plane in the air. Crash all you want because there is no rebuilding required. There are some great simulators out there but they cost a bit so I tend to agree with Dave Powers that visual fidelity is not the most important thing.

FMS is a free flight simulator with hundreds of free models all over the web. The flight dynamics are pretty good and mimic the real thing. The most important thing is not really how good the plane looks on the screen, its getting confused and loosing sight of you plane and getting yourself out of trouble. Another good one is Clearview ($40) which is higher fidelity and allows you to program in wind and gusts like you will have to deal with in the real world. You can use a game controller or buy a "fake" transmitter ($20) that looks and feels like the real thing. If you already have a transmitter with a buddy/trainer cord you can hook that up to FMS and Clearview directly with a simple cable.

Dave Powers has a video where he talks about using simulators. I think the key points are:

  • Fly circles around yourself to keep your orientation when you begin.
  • Fly all the models you can starting with 3 channel trainers and ending with advanced flyers.
  • Purposely get the plane into trouble and then try and save it before you crash.

1. Let's Get Started

Posted on January 4, 2009

This website is under construction. I plan on blogging my adventures in learning to fly and build radio controlled airplanes constructed out of foam.