[Headline: RC paper airplanes]
Q599: I saw a reference to a radio-controlled, electric-powered paper airplane on one of the RC forums. I believe this airplane was controlled by a regular smartphone. Could you please supply me with a website where I could gain more detailed information?
A599: PowerUp Toys is the company that developed this paper airplane and related equipment. I’ve listed its website in our “Sources” section.
The website provides excellent information. When you first open it, click on “How To.” This will get you to sections that describe folding the paper airplane and how to adjust and fly it.
You can download the PowerUp Guide by clicking on the word “Guide.” This section provides plans for constructing the paper airplane. It even tells you how to set up your smartphone so that it will act like an RC transmitter. The website provides many flying tips.
PowerUp sells the RC module and the electric motor/propeller. From what I read, it takes only 15 seconds to charge the battery. This charge provides a 30-second flight. (I hope I have that correct.)
It strikes me that this power and control system might be applicable to many tiny model aircraft designs. The website includes some interesting videos of the paper airplane in flight. It’s worth your time to look into it. I’ve included a photo of the RC electric-powered paper airplane, known as the PowerUp-3.
Q600: I would like to try CoverLite covering material on some of my small models, such as micro up through small park-flyers. Does this material have a built-in adhesive? After applying do you need to dope or paint it?
A600: CoverLite has been around for years. Originally it was known as Litespan. It was intended for micro-size rubber or gas FF models where weight was a critical factor. It is also been recommended for small park-flyer models.
CoverLite is an iron-on, synthetic tissue covering. It comes with a factory “doped” finish. It is claimed that this covering is stronger and more puncture resistant than regular doped tissue and it can be painted with most model paints.
Each sheet measures 36 x 19.5 inches. The claimed weight is 0.89 ounces per square yard. There is no adhesive applied to CoverLite. For that reason there is no backing paper to remove.
The manufacturer, Coverite, recommends using its Balsarite fabric formula adhesive, but after speaking with some experts, I learned that a water-based “heat seal” product called Balsaloc works best. The two products are very similar in name, so be careful when ordering. I get my Balsaloc from BP Hobbies.
The Balsaloc is brushed onto your model structure. Wait until it dries to a clear appearance before applying heat from your iron or gun. At that point you are finished unless your model needs color paint. CoverLite is available in white, yellow, orange, red, blue, cream, black, dark green, and silver. It is fuel resistant!
I also learned that BP Hobbies carries a product similar to CoverLite, known as Gas Model (GM) Tissue. It is only slightly heavier. You might want to look into that as well.
Sizing Power Systems
Q601: I want to be able to build some micro RC models capable of flying indoors or outside in perfectly calm weather. I know there are many published plans for this kind of aircraft for a scratch builder.
There are also kits with laser-cut parts available and many RTF micro aircraft on the market, but I want to do my own thing. Specifically, I want to explore micro-size rubber-powered models with the idea of converting these airplanes to electric power and with RC. Can you share some of your experience with these kinds of models to steer me in the right direction?
A601: I get asked this kind of question often. The best way to select the proper sized power systems for micro aircraft is to keep accurate records of all the parameters involved. You can apply this data to your next model, and so on down the line.
A good starting point is to build a few micro kits. Bill Stevens at Stevens AeroModel and Bob Selman at BSD Micro RC offer excellent laser-cut kits that are easy to build and well documented. They will tell you exactly what to buy, such as the motor, gear drive (if applicable), propeller size, battery, RC system, and ESC. Both Bill and Bob sell all of the necessary power and RC systems for their respective kits.
A practical micro model, as an example, might weigh between 1 and 1.5 ounces (28 to 42 grams), with wingspans of 12 to 20 inches and wing areas from 30 to 60 square inches. I reviewed BSD’s new laser-cut kit by Bob. It is part of his new “Peanut Series” of micro aircraft.
This first one was a reduced-size version of the Guided Mite (originally published in 1959). Bob reduced this micro version to a 13-inch wingspan, with 35 square inches of wing area. The total weight was to be in the range of 20 to 24 grams (slightly under one ounce). My prototype Mite weighed 26.2 grams, but needed an extra 8.3 grams to balance properly. Even at 34.5 grams, it flew well.
He selected the Horizon ParkZone Ultra Micro J-3 Cub 6mm brushed motor for this design, along with his specially designed 2.65:1 gear drive. The propeller of choice is 2.5 inches in diameter.
Bob will soon introduce a 4:1 gear drive for this same motor. It will allow a larger 3.2-inch diameter propeller. That motor should power up to 1.5 ounces in total weight. It would be perfect for the many Dumas 17-inch wingspan Scale Rubber model kits. They typically weigh 1.1 ounces (less the rubber weight).
The power system and RC for the Mite weighs 8.3 grams. That would bring a Dumas kit up to roughly 1.4 ounces. There are many more of these kits to explore. Let me know how you make out.[dingbat]
BSD Micro RC, LLC