[Headline: Happy holidays and year-end wrap-up]
Happy holidays to everyone and best wishes for the new year.
It’s been a busy year and my mailbox is still crammed with stuff I never had page space for. I try to promptly reply to all emails, but sometimes things fall through the cracks or are of such wide interest, I prefer to cover them in columns. I’m taking this month to catch up!
Wow, this topic got responses for months after I first covered it in the December 2013 “Electrics” column. The DX6i still poses a challenge to people, and possible solutions seem to work for some and not others.
One thing that repeatedly came up was getting to the flightline and finding that the motor wouldn’t arm. Guess what the common problem was? Yup, people configured a throttle-cut/hold switch and had activated it, but forgot to turn it off when they got to the line.
Head scratching and cussing ensued only to find out that if they flipped the switch back to “Arm,” the motor came to life. Oops! Several even admitted to swapping out ESCs before they realized their mistake. No sweat! I still occasionally do it.
There’s always debate over the use of a BEC vs. receiver batteries and I don’t know that there is any “right” answer. I use both and have for years. On my larger airplanes, I use a receiver battery and always use LiFe packs. I recently bought a Scorpion Backup Guard from Innov8tive Designs for my 97-inch AGwagon, and it gives me piece of mind.
This is a gem for $25! It’s a 500 mAh 2S LiPo pack with a circuit that detects low voltage at the receiver and turns on the LiPo pack if needed. It’s capable of a 10-amp peak and supplies a regulated 5 volts to the receiver. There is a small switch on the side to activate it before flight.
Here’s the biggie though. You can also use it with an airplane utilizing a BEC. The fear most people have about BECs is that if the ESC fails, so does the BEC and the airplane is lost. By using the Backup Guard, you turn it on after the BEC is armed and if, for any reason, the ESC/BEC fails, the Backup Guard will kick in and supply power to get you safely back on the ground.
The unit is slightly more than 1 inch wide and 2 inches long and weighs 36 grams (1.3 ounces). That’s a lot of piece of mind for next to nothing!
Whether you’re a kit builder, scratch builder, or an ARF flier, eventually you’re going to need to work on something. I recently landed a deal on a Dremel table saw.
These are still one of the best little saws around. The problem is that they’re discontinued, but after-market upgrade parts abound and the saws are in demand. I bought several items for mine that were designed and produced by Bill Wilson and couldn’t be happier. The parts are beautifully done and the quality is excellent. If you’re looking for Dremel saws or parts, check out the website listed in “Sources.”
The second item I use most often is a stand on my bench to stabilize airplanes when I work on them. I have a couple of worn-out foam stands, so I found Ronnie Garris who builds some gorgeous stands. I stumbled across him at a swap meet and bought the last table-top model he had. The adjustability of these stands is incredible. Ronnie also builds floor models.
These quality stands are reasonably priced. Check out the photos, contact Ronnie, and tell him I sent you. His contact information is listed at the end of this column.
I love the table-top stand that I bought. It’s steady, strong enough to handle my largest airplanes, and adjustable enough to clamp down on my little Discus Launch Glider’s fuselage when I work on it. It’s the best I’ve ever found.
“But It’s a Car Charger!”
That’s what a buddy said when he saw my new charger on the bench and I quickly let him know that my batteries don’t know that! In fact, when I tell them, they don’t even care.
There is no difference between chargers for model car LiPos and airplane LiPos. My new TrakPower VR-1 is marketed to the RC car guys, but it’s a dual-port charger capable of providing up to 20 amps for 6S on one side and 6 amps for 4S on the other.
It has three cooling fans and can mount on top of its own power supply. There is memory to store 40 programs for the ones I use most often and does everything from charge to balance charge to storage charge and discharge. It supports all of the currently used chemistries and will handle your Ni-Cds and NiMH cells too.
I’m still exploring all of the things it will do, but first impressions are good! Watch for a full report.
I’m lucky that I get to attend many large electric meets, but it can be expensive and time consuming. This summer I attended two local electric fly-ins that were as much fun as any large meet.
Don’t think you have to go somewhere that has several hundred pilots to find a great meet. Some of the best fly-ins in the country are smaller ones with 30-50 pilots. They offer more flying time, more visiting time, and fliers you’ll get to see more often.
Don’t forget about what’s within a couple of hours of your own home.
Wrapping It Up
That’s it! Another year in the books and a new one to look forward to. Thanks for all of the emails and support. It sure makes this job fun and keeps me motivated!