Working with composite materials can be a very satisfying experiance, but at the same time it can be a very frustrating one too. .. just have a stickup on the mold you have been working on for the past few months and you will know exactly what im talking about

but as with pretty much anything in life, time, practice and some patience and results start becoming a very satisfying experiance .. however we dont all have the time to learn all the ins and outs of working with composite materials

i remember one of my first stickups was molding a rc helicopter canopy , i really thought some sort of wizardry was required in getting the parts to seperate, needless to say the whole part ended up in the bin

times have changed , i still get the occasional stick up, especially on using new products that im not familar with, but they tend to be minor and repairable



MY BLogger


About time i get a new machine !! a few renders of what is to be :D

The tough machine is this one
Cut size is 900x900x300
Gonna use a 3kw spindle to start with, but who knows maybe one day a ATC (auto tool changer)
750w DMM servo package on each axis and a 400w on the 4th axis (still to come)
All ground ballscrews

And for the larger pieces being a bit more light weight , boards etc , this render ...
Same DMM kit but this one has a 2400x1200 cut size and running on rack and pinions with 10:1 step down boxes



Second one out the mold ...

and soo much better, a few flaws in the carbon exspoed area , need to work the carbon more to get all the airbubbles out, but otherwise real happy with it


First one is out the mold

Ive learnt quite a bit with this molded wing , dont use cheap paint ! rattle can paint just doesnt work. Once demolded pin pricks of the paint stayed behind on the mold , you could wipe them off like a powder left behind. if i used 2k this would never have happened , but hey no spray gun !

Dont stick the balsa in on the first vacuum, vacuum skins down and next layup put the balsa in ... i was just trying to cut corners and was curious why not to do it that way ... so we learn (the balsa soaks up the epoxy)

other than that, im real happy with it ! its come out okay, but the next one is gonna be perfecto !

the patches arnt visable, but i think thats because the paint work is poor , but even if the are visable the marks will polish out super easy.

Did i mention the fuse mold popped :( , gutted , didnt even take a bar and ~POP .... managed to get a poor part out of it and again, lots learnt .... dont expect the corian adhesive to hold the pieces together. It doesnt.
Using 5x M6 bolts in each mold half i have bolted the pieces together to prevent this from happening again, and glad to say it works.


Molds are done !!! wahooo

The wing molds came out real nice even with the two patches , im very impressed with the finish... but i guess the proof is in the part ... coming soon !

Ive also done both fuselage halves, this was a time consuming task as i needed a 50mm thick slab and had to laminate 20 pieces of corian together to make the slab. The reason i didnt laminate from top to bottom only requiring 4 layers is because i didnt want any bubble's between each layer.Only now that ive done the lanination i can see that laminating the 'other' way would have worked just as well and saving a huge amount of time .. so we learn

The one thing that im looking forward to on the fuselage mold is the addition of wing saddle inserts, ill have to take some pics showing this ... this makes the fillet from fuse to wing thicker so that it seats nicely on the wing and makes the fuse alot stronger at the same time


AArrgg not a good day .... top half didnt come out very well .. the coutout insert wasnt big enough and i milled into the MDF , gutted
So what now, start over or insert two patches ? this wing is gonna look like a quilt by the time its done !

this pic shows the insert quite nicely , click the pic for the mistake



Progress at last !

First half, or bottom half of the wing is done ... tomorrow top half !

The problem with corian here in SA is that you can only get it in 12mm ... and the bottom wing mold that i need to machine, needs a piece double that thickness .... Simple eh, just laminate two pieces together ! not so easy. The chances of having an air bubble is real good unless you got a million clamps , or a decent vaccum bag (which i have neither right now ... i dont even have a phillips screw driver !)
The other problem, the bigger problem, is when milling corian very thin is it tends to erm, splinter ? and this is what will happen when having the two laminated together.

So to solve the problem you need to do a 'cut out' section so that you dont end up with very thin slither of corian

click the pic to see the cut out drawing and progress on the bottom half of the mold


Im so frustrated ! i have access to a large shopbot machine but the software it uses is frustrating to the extreme ! i cant compile G code that its happy with. Ive got a few things working, but on some small stuff it just doesnt want to play ball. Wish it used mach3 so much easier !

I have been given a whole bunch of corian worktop off cuts which are great to use for molds ...

Oh and Hermanus, where we at .. ... sposed to be a great place to go slope flying ... during the months of december and january ? cause right now there is ZERO wind in the remotely right direction.

anyways here is my next endevour ..

Also been playing with the idea of a geebee racer ...

if i can only get this router working ... did i mention frustrated ?

click pic for a few more


Had to sell my router as we moving ... :S ts just to big to hog around. As soon as we have settled down and things calm down a bit i will get started on my new machine, give or take a few years ....

ive already had a crack at drawing it ... ive got the base already ... just need somewhere to keep it

ill do a build log as i progress , but its gonna be S_L_O_W , click the pic to see the slab ;-)




My mini quad is done

i couldnt wait for the drive and electrics to arrive so i have assembled it with old motors and ESC's i had lying around.
unfortunately the ESC's i have are huge (30A instead of 10A) so they add extra weight and take up space ...
pretty much the same thing with the motors, the max size of the props is 9" but i only had 10's lying around so had to chop em

a quick vid of the mini with a gopro in the nose


ive had some time in the furnace too :D and managed to cast some wheels for my belt sander ... pretty stoked for my first time
click pic for a few more

top wheel was first cast, bottom was 'third' cast as my second cast didnt quite come out right ....



ok so have been thinking of different layups on the quad sandwich , obviously lighter and stronger is the key

So what i have tried to do is a bleed , the way you would do when you do vacuum forming over a mold, but in the quad layup this would be using the bladder to push the absorbent material (kitchen roll) against the mold with a layer to stop the kitchen roll from getting stuck this is the pink perferated plastic which has tiny holes in it to allow the excess epoxy to bleed thru.

success!! i did my standard layup which is 1 carbon kevlar and 1 carbon, and then extra 2 layers on the arms ... its its weighed in at a super light 160 grams ! (without the canopy)

this frame i didnt first coat the mold in epoxy before i did the layup so it has thousands of tiny pinpricks, cosmetic not very pretty.



Its been nine months !!!!

Alot has happened ! CNC router is working great, very happy with the results im getting , the more familiar i am getting with the machine the more i am using it to do jobs around the house ... cant see life without CNC ;-)

first up is my Quadcopter , one piece monocoque frame , my personal one is entirely carbon , but im making mostly carbon/ kevlar mixes , click pic for more



iv also started work on a 3 axis camera gimbal for a light aircraft ...

it uses brushless motors for the drive , and so far its looking great


Have also been trying different speeds and feeds on aluminium

The above piece was a small block that i cast, it however is riddilled with air pockets , you can see how porous the metal is ... Reading a few threads on the net about metal casting really made me wonder if i was going to be able to machine this 'backyard' piece. apparently home poured ally is very difficult to machine as its very soft and it clogs up the bit. so far i think its great !

just need to add some HTH to my next pour to degas it


So finally got round to trying out a one way flight using two transmitters ...

It didnt work out as there were too many 'other' things that went wrong , and by the time we were ready to go the wind was against us and the battery was quite empty already . Next time



At long last, first foam cut is done , and im very excited to do some proper shapes now

I did a quick pod and wing saddle model to try out the router ... its just a very simple model just to try and get my head around the whole toolpaths etc

Click on the pic for the result



Wow , soo many things have happened over the past few months , am employed now so dont have the free time that i used to :D but thats a good thing

Okay , first update is prolly my CNC router ... its taken a few months to build and will take a few months more to finish it

Click the pic for a few pics on the build


Have done my first cut , and i gotta say its WOW , very happy with it so far

This is about 60mm in height, 3mm cutter was used


Another new PC , the phenom didnt last long , but now got an 8 core number cruncher ... works great with the demands of 3d moddeling , just need to learn how to do that now :D

Models, so we have bought a few skywalkers to mess about with, do the whole formation flying thing, test out gear etc , i gotta say its a great plane to use as a beginner fpv model .... ive got a v/bagged 2.4 meter wing on mine with barn door flaps, it can descend like a hawk going for the kill . It doesnt have the efficeincy of a flying wing though, its more like a brick .... a lead brick .... imo ofcourse





What an exciting past week , i managed to do some demo flights at a local game reserve to gauge interest on the new plane.
Its a bit sensitive at the momement so i wont go into too much detail , but the interest is there and hopefully i will be in the position to fund further development on the aircraft.

Flying in front of 30+ people is great fun ! haha not! , but seriously it went very well except for landing in a cross wind and nosing over knocking the camera's out, no damage fortunately.
I look forward to flying an actuall objective , a fence patrol , road run , etc rather than just flying about aimlessly , and with no distractions so i can actually concentrate on what im actually looking at.



So ive been a little quite over the past few weeks .. its all due to my new project 'the anti-poacher'

Click on the pic for a few build pics

Still lots of work to do, im not crazy about the V tail , so am looking at changing it to either crusifix or to T tail. The RVOSD doesnt support V tail mixing so to get around this a seperate mixer is required but the resolution on the mixer isnt great. Also , dutch roll is quite apparent when applying rudder , more testing required



Stock has arrived , some Dragon Links and some RVOSD's have arrived, please mail me for more info .. beat customs and a long wait



Sheeesh , no pc for over a month !! replaced the graphics card only to have summing else blow ... so decided it was time for an upgrade , AMD Phenom yes please !

Anyways, a few weeks back, we did a few range tests , 63kms on the Dragon link and 42kms on the 1w lawmate @1280mhz and the picture was pretty perfect, slight drop out on polarization mismatch but nothing serious.

this was the dragon link range test, Alex (in the picture) on the phone to me and Vaughan taking the pic ... i was sitting on my balcony in Jeffrey bay 60+kms away and we had a bind and full control.


This is a vid that Vaughan took a couple weeks later, the idea was for me to fly normal FPV at a field close to my house and for Vaughan to try intercept my video signal while he was 40+km's away , the video pretty much speaks for itself !

Other than that i been working flat out on my new project , 'the Poacher'
Pictures coming soon



Wow , i cant believe a week has gone by so fast, my dads red dragon flew ... but not very well

On launch it shot straight up but pulled quite bad to the left , after flying around for a few mins at half throttle i got it trimmed out, it needed ALOT of right trim to keep it straight and level. The feel of the plane wasnt great, summing didnt feel nice about it, admittedly i was flying without wingtips , but still summing wasnt quite right.
As i approached for landing all hell broke loose as the plane dropped a wing as it slowed down, what the ? i powered up and instantly it straightened itself out like nothing had happened ....

pass number two and the exact same thing again, as i started to slow down the left hand wing would start to drop to a point were i couldnt give enough right elevon to keep it level, so had to power up again....

after pass number 4 or 5 i got her down safely ... walking over to the aircraft i could see i must have had 3-4 millemeters of trim on either wing , WOW i thought , summing really not right here

onto a few more flights and still not sure why it was flying so bad, moved the CG forward to try again, but then due to a pathetic throw i cracked the spar and called it a day



Yup just got back from a flight and she is purring like any red dragon would with a few heartburn pills , she has been tamed to a docile slow flyer , the changes and the faults .......

after inspecting the wing twist (which i thought i got the wrong way, i thought i molded in 'washin' instead of 'washout') it showed a huge flaw , the one wing had about 12mm more washout than the other ? how could this have happened i thought ? and how could i fix it ? after a few Google searches i found that this is a common problem with 'green' or newly made fibreglass parts. All i can think is that i had the wing lying against the wall and the weight over the past few days twisted it.
So to fix it, i added a 2kg weight on the wing root trailing edge, and a 1kg weight on the opposite wingtip leading edge laying on a flat table, over night it straightened out and is within 1mm of he other wing.

The next big change was dehidral , i added in about 40mm of dehidral to the wing , this was alot easier than i thought it would be to do. The pic below pretty much explains it all. You MUST wrap the joiner tube with aramid (kevlar) or it will simply split open and the wing will fold.




After writing off my dads old big wing uavr , we built another, this time we watched the weight. (spektrum lockout, we think , thats what you get from park flyer receivers, oops)

The span is a touch under 1.8 meters and weighs in at 2kgs ready to fly with a 6s 3.3A pack , no FPV gear yet
The previous wing had immense thrust with the 12x8 folding prop and deffinately the way to go with heavier setups , it climbs straight out your hands. Other changes include a slight decrease in wing sweep , but the same wing root/tip size as the original. Amazingly the CG stays in the exact same place according to my wing calculator.

Really am hoping to get it maidened this week, if the weather allows

Did a few range tests over the weekend, 26kms out i had a friend (Charl) connect up my plane while i was on my dads balcony back in Jeffreys bay, the weather was great and LOS was straight as i could see him through my telescope flashing a mirror in the sunlight ........
the video screen light blinked waiting for a signal ... a few seconds later it went solid and a fuzzy but ok'ish picture showed on the screen .. hmpft i was hoping for better. Tiliting the plane from side to side caused the video to drop completely, the mismatch in polarization was to great over that distance. 'oh well' i thought walking over to my yagi , that must be the limit.....

clicked on the diversity and my dad yells 'its crystal clear" ... i dunno why the diversity didnt click over, i think i need to make sure its set into diversity mode each time i use it. so that was 26kms on my patch antennae , wow ! with the yagi the signal was clear and had no problems with tiliting the plane thru to inverted.
however, the dragon link wasnt too happy though, as the plane passed 45 degrees failsafe kicked in, i really thought it would be fine as the last time i tested the dragon to 42kms, but never tried tilting the antennae .... hmmm yagi for the dragon, or a 7w booster ?



Had an awesome days flying yesterday and i gotta say im pretty impressed with the RVOSD so far (v5) Set it all up on a polystyrene foam wing and hit the field. The first flight was great, the plane launched easily and tracked great with correx wingtips. I flicked over into fly by wire and the plane immediately straightened itself out and flew like it was on rails ... with FBW you can still control the aircraft but it dampens out your inputs (adjustable) so that if you want to do a right hand turn you can give FULL right and the plane will only turn to a set banking degree and stay there, it will not go any further. Releasing full right and the aircraft returns to straight and level flight, i didnt however calibrate it 100% so i had a little left hand drift, but i think this is an easy fix

Next flight , just about to take off and the motor wouldnt spin up, the esc got wet from the previous flight landing in long wet grass...

Later in the afternoon we went out again .. my dad had two 20-25 minute flights and i showed him how the RTH and the FBW fuction worked ..

While banking hard , i would click FBW and the wing would level out immediately, so i thought i would try catch it out ... i went into a 90 degree climb and hit the FBW and again straight ... a 90 degree dive , yip straight ... inverted ! yip straight ! i think what impressed me was the speed that it got the wing into level flight, it seemed instant

Changing into return to home function is very easy in the menu , and to engage it i use right hand rudder stick, as a wing doesnt have a rudder

so we flew out 700-800 meters and engaged RTH , i was ready for the aircraft to go into a spiral , but ... it slowly did a turn , about 50 - 70 meters ish diameter and came straight back to us .. impressed !

so now with the wing going over our heads we both asked .. "whats it going to do now ?" as we watched it fly over and start to bank again into a 50m -70m diameter circle it loitered above us ..

impressed ? you betcha !





My RVOSD has arrived yay ! but am still waiting for my other dragon link receivers so it still might take a while before the 6s ship takes off.





25km round trip . furtherest point out was 10km's

Had a few hiccups on the way, video signal went really poor and decided to turn back at about 6kms , but after moving the antennae the signal came back squeeky clean so decided to turn around again and carry on heading out. Then again on the return trip about 3 kms out my video screen died, fortunately i had the goggles or the plane would have gone down




Some pics of the latest UAVr , its almost complete, just needs servo hatches to be cut, elevons cut, and radio gear installed

Click on the pic for some more pictures



Updating my drawing in ACAD , will finish it soon. I will have this as a dwg or dxf format to download to help with the build



Aaarg im sick, caught a cold but i think im thru the thick of it, well hope so anyway.

The launch ramp is done, but now that i know what the cause of the random bad launches is i dont think it will need to use it. I will though ! I would like to stick a13.2A pack in the plane and see what it flies like with a heavy pack, obviously faster but how much faster and how much faster will the stall speed increase by ?

we will soon find out ;-)

I have taken out my Vtx camera and have decided to try use the Gopro as the Vtx camera , so far so good , had to change quite a few settings as the camera auto switches off after a given time, it also turned off once the SD card was full, NOT GOOD !

I am getting noise on the osd screen, but i think i can easily fix that with a filter (tarroid and capacitor)

Eagle tree telemetry is now working so i can plot live on google earth the flight , this should help for when getting lost :D just took a walk around the house and you can see how it plots the course.



Wahoo , i have found out whats causing my so called torque roll , its not torque roll but rather a poor setup

The transmitter for the video Vtx is mounted on the very tip of the right hand wing. this causes the aircraft to pull to the right, so to solve that i would just add left trim once in flight .. but ! this is the cause of the hard left roll that i get when launching , stupid left trim ! i did have a counter weight on the wingtip but took it off cause i thought it was making that side too heavy

next flight will prove if my theory is right

but a bungee launch is in the making, so maybe no more throwing will be required



Had a awesome flight today, i gotta admit i was pretty nervous with the launch as i wasnt sure how it was going to take off , would it pitch to the left like it randomly would ? would the torque at half throttle be too much ?

after posting my torque roll problem on RCgroups i had some great tips on getting her to launch

the most obvious , right hand trim ! duh

second , mix in ailerons onto rudder stick so i could feed in right hand rudder while launching

launch to the right of head on wind

smaller prop = less torque

well , she launched great .. too much right hand trim, but i was happy to see that it worked ! getting the trim back to where it should have been was a mission fumbling on the TX trying to find the trim slider , i know the feel of my DX7 but the FF8 is still a bit alien to me, but with time ill get used to it

up and away




Another roll into the ground :-S aarg

No damage , 'cept for a cracked spar , oh well ...

After driving around for almost 2 hours looking for somewhere to fly we stopped outside this farm and thought lets give it a go. The farmer said 'video of this farm ? huh ? erm... yea sure go for it' so with his permission we had a great flight .. ill take him a copy so he can understand what we were on about ;-)

Things i found out, sunlight, what a difference when the sunshine comes thru. The massive sprinkler couldnt be seen when the sun was behind the clouds on the osd video , all i could see were the wheels and a very feint scaffolding outlines of the sprinkler. The moment the sun came out the whole construction lit up




maiden launch , yay she flies !!!! one of the first flights of the UAVR

FPV gear is installed , but not flying FPV just yet, just getting a feel for the aircraft



6kms ! my furtherest flight yet , and it was easy ! could easily have done double the distance if i had both my battery packs on

This foam wing is soo much better than my last one, having a proper high lift airfoil thats designed for use in flying wings has made such a difference , i cant wait till i have a glass wing , its going to be so much better.



One of my first FPV flights since returning back to south africa , a friend of mine started flying and had a simple trainer type plane, so we strapped some of my gear that i had bought in 2006 onto it

Flying on 2.4ghz and having video on 2.4ghz just does not work





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