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Low tech thermal soaring - RES?


StraightEdge
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StraightEdge

I'm interested in getting (even building if I really have to?) a 2-3m rudder/elevator/spoiler flat field glider for bungee launched pure enjoyment, rather than an expensive full-house mount with powered winch gear for contest work or a fashionable electric launch thermal soarer.

I know its a retrograde step, but are there any good designs still available in the UK or from Euroland, either ARTF with modern materials or more traditional kits?

The only current option I've found so far is the Circle Dancer (based on the Drela Bubble Dancer) from Hyperflight. Not cheap, but at least it looks good-to-go and I'll only need three servos!

Would also need to source suitable bungee, line, reel, etc.

Any help/advice/pointers/prejudices would be most welcome.

Jon

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Hi Jon,

 You're looking at the 100S (100 inch span/2.5 metres) class, there is an active competition scene.

At competition level the glider mostly used is the 'Tracker', British made all composite.

Kits that should still be available are the Cambrian Elan and Flair Albatross, both quick builds and good flyers.

Chris Foss Centi-Phase can be built from plans, an old design but good.

All are RES, apart from the Elan which has no spoilers.

If you could make it to Bicester on  a Thursday evening I could show you all four and let you have a fly.

 Cheers

   Gary

Edited by Gary B
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I missed the West Wings Lancer, no experience of this apart from it's a relatively expensive kit and from reviews likes to fly on the fast side.

GB

Edited by Gary B
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StraightEdge

Gary

Super advice thanks, and I'd like to take up your offer to join you at Bicester (about an hour from here depending on traffic). PM with time, location, etc - and whether or not the current windy weather will be too much this Thursday!

So far I've flown some slope and 1m mosquito class DLG, but my dicky ankle is beginning to make proper 1.5m discus launches a bit painful...!

Jon

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Will the wind ever drop?!

If you can drive 12 miles further to Brackley I could show you these models and current F3J/F5J ones as well.

I'm usually free Monday to Thursday.

GB

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StraightEdge

That would be grand!  Google shows 47mins in current traffic... which reminds me that its waaay past my nod time and I've got the school run first thing!

Touch base tomorrow.

Jon

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Hi Jon,

I built an Allegro-lite, similar to the Bubble dancer, only not quite as big (2m span). It's absolutely awesome! It is solid as a rock on the bungee and is designed for a full winch launch, if you make the spar correctly.

I highly recommend having a go at this - all the parts are available and there is loads of on-line information about the build.

If you want to get flying sooner, then go with what the 100s fellow suggest - perhaps a tracker - but for an easy to fly, top performance RES model, you can't go wrong with the Mark Drela designs. If you don't have time to build something (the AL does take a bit of patience) then I'm quite sure the Circle Dancer from Hyperflight will be fantastic.

If you'd like more info about the Allegro build, let me know.

cheers,

Chris

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Jon,

I have had great times with my old 100" Algebra. Mine has a fibreglass fuselage and built up wings. However, the plan is still available for r the 3m version with wooden fuselage.

Martin

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pete beadle

Hi Jon

I too was intrigued when Gary made no mention of the Algebra range, especially the 100" and 3 metre RES ones

Just in case you might fancy an Algebra 100S I have one going cheep, cheep(!)  (£50.00 plus postage/collection), with glass and white foam wings in RTF condition, with towhook,, or alternatively I have an Algebra wooden fus and a pair of white foam/veneer wing panels, which I'm assured were from an Algebra, collectable and FOC, so it'd be petrol cost only

Alternatively I have a very nice Veron Vortex sitting in the loft, in RTF condition and complete with brand new and unused glass fuselage, for £75.00 the pair, if a true classic takes your fancy

PM me if you want my address, pics or more details - whatever you DON'T have/want, will go on the forum's "For Sale and Wanted" once you're "suited" OK?

Regards

Pete

BARCS1702

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StraightEdge

Hi Jon,

I built an Allegro-lite, similar to the Bubble dancer, only not quite as big (2m span). It's absolutely awesome! It is solid as a rock on the bungee and is designed for a full winch launch, if you make the spar correctly.

I highly recommend having a go at this - all the parts are available and there is loads of on-line information about the build.

If you want to get flying sooner, then go with what the 100s fellow suggest - perhaps a tracker - but for an easy to fly, top performance RES model, you can't go wrong with the Mark Drela designs. If you don't have time to build something (the AL does take a bit of patience) then I'm quite sure the Circle Dancer from Hyperflight will be fantastic.

If you'd like more info about the Allegro build, let me know.

cheers,

Chris

​Chris

This is valuable input, thanks.

I'm attracted to the simplicity, stability and visibility of a large polyhedral ship.  Although I 'wasted' my early teenage years by building rubber-powered scale from kits and plans, I've come back as a middle-aged person who has only been RC flying for a couple of years (like learning to drive when you're fifty!) and into thermal soaring for but a year now (like learning to read the road and struggling to anticipate the flow of traffic for the first time at such an age and with less than keen eyesight!).  So I'm inclined to something that can be flown with minimal input, especially at a distance, whilst I concentrate on what the air is doing, and where and which way my glider is pointing within it.

That's not to say I mightn't eventually graduate to a more modern F3J ship and the contest classes that predominate for these here, but for now my instinct is towards the simpler 'aesthetic' of the Bubble Dancer, Allegro, etc.

I'm also short of time to engage in a building project (self-employed, single-Dad, that sort of thing), so my ration is for flying.

I might yet speak to Neil at Hyperflight about the Circle Dancer 3000... but also hope to pick up Pete's Algebra 100s as a second mount.

Cheers

Jon

Edited by StraightEdge
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Those teenage years with rubber power models are never wasted!

I had exactly the same ambitions as you a year or so ago when I started the Allegro build - I wanted something to move on from DLG to a bungee/winch capable model to work on my thermal searching abilities. There's loads of models that will be good for this, but I am a little biased now toward the Mark Drela designs - he's a engineer I find very inspiring, so it felt like embracing a bit of history to build the AL. 

If you are short on time, the Allegro build may not be for you, as the construction takes some effort, particularly the carbon capped spar with its kevlar wrap and the fiddly little tip joiners. I think it is great now that the Circle Dancer is available, as this means the model type is an option without putting in months of build time. I think the construction of the Circle Dancer is perhaps less involved than the original Bubble Dancer plan - no kevlar wrapping I suspect and no tapered carbon spar caps (which, as for the Allegro, you have to order in from the USA). If you're not planning on full winch launches, this won't matter.

One thing going for the more modern models (build yourself or "ARTF") is that they will benefit from advances in both aerodynamics and materials research. The AG aerofoils and others have been developed specifically for thermal flying by model sailplanes. Many of these sections are possible only because of the readiness of carbon fibre and kevlar that has occurred in recent years, along with improved manufacturing techniques for mouldings and so on. These developments allow for bending and torsional stiffness without the need for a deep spar or large d-box.

No doubt at all that the older models, such as Algebra, will be good, but things have moved on a little in the years since these models were designed. Add to this the fact that so many models are coming out of Eastern Europe and China to a very high standard, means that exotic materials and complex construction need not cost the earth - just look at the work involved in, say, the Circle dancer or the Skymaster (other sailplane vendors are availlable ;-)) and they start to look very cheap at the price. If I factor in my time to build my Allegro, I stagger to think what it stands me in at!

Whatever you go for, I wish you lots of luck and fun with it. I find flying off the bungee or into a light slope upcurrent the most relaxing of flying. I time my first flight and then set a countdown timer to a duration a minute or so longer than this and spend the rest of the evening/afternoon, trying to make it to that time. It's good to know others out there are still looking for this kind of aeromodelling fix.

all the best,

Ribs

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pete beadle

Hi Ribs

Can I firstly say that I agree wholeheartedly with the majority of what you say - BUT -

If you remember, the header on this string is "Low tech thermal soaring RES" and, although I agree with you that "exotic materials and complex construction need not cost the earth" I also agree with the statement that you (usually) get what you pay for.....

Secondly, if you take a quick look at Rob Thompson's comments on the FPV section regarding the HobbyKing "Aether" you'll be referred to the string on the "other" soaring forum which is currently well over 60 pages in length, where the first twenty or so are concerned with the fact that even the tech support guys at HK couldn't confirm which "high tech" materials and construction were utilised in the Aether, and the answer had to wait until guys had taken delivery of their big boxes to actually reveal the true situation

Lastly, I too would love one of those beautiful Mark Drela designs but we skipped pretty quickly from my suggested offering of a £50  Algebra to the Bubble Dancer and similar designs at £500 (and more) didn't we? Yep, if you build it yourself it might not end up costing as much, but it is going to take a lo-o-ong time to make one yourself, something StraightEdge assures us he hasn't got at present, and it'll take building skill that the majority could only aspire to, wouldn't it? 

In the end it comes down, as most things do, to personal preferences and personal choice and you really do "pays yer money and takes yer choice" pity, but there it is.......

Regards

Pete

BARCS1702 

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Totally fair points Pete.

I guess what I was getting at is that RES models or non-moulded molded models may be perceived as low-tech, when in fact they are simply optimised for a different kind of flying and may have received as much 'tech' advancements as the bigger, more complex ships. 

Yes, you are right, there is a big jump between a second hand Algebra and the £500 (for the airframe only, not forget) Dancer.

I agree that, in general you get what you pay for too, the point I was making is that even £500, though clearly a lot of money, is getting you an awful lot of airframe. I think we live in an unprecedented age in aeromodelling, where the range of models and equipment available is staggering and at a quality and price that is amazing.

Anyway, to topic, perhaps the best plan for Straightedge is to get a good cheapo second hand model to start with, then save/build/procure as suits.

Right then, I'm off to Westbury where there's a light Northerly to play with...

cheers,

Ribs (Chris Lamming WSRFC)

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pete beadle

Hi Chris

Happy flying at Westbury

Here we've got low cloud and drizzle to contend with so I'm really, really envious

Now, what next - Aerofly or workbench..........decisions, decisions.....

Regards

Pete

BARCS1702

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  • 3 weeks later...

Late to the party again, but for what it is worth...have you seen the plans of the Philip Kolb Miles 2M?...looks like this would make a good low cost ship ,easy to transport, quick to rig and reasonable performance. Might also be a candidate for a scale up to 100" just to make it easier on the aging eyeballs. I think the plans were on the rcgroups forum as pdf so should easy to find (if not I did grab a copy so shout if you'd like hem emailed through).

There was also the 100" version of the multiphase that Chris Foss did, although that was a foam wing I believe, but it wouldn't be hard to sketch up a build up wing for it (use the fendon wing as the basis - scaled down of course)

Hope this helps

Timbo

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pete beadle

Hi Timbo

The Miles is a brilliant design, well worth a look at

The CentiPhase with glass fuselage was always better on the slope, its extra weight (not that it was a lot extra) acted as ballast and made you keep the speed up, performing well on any hill. It never really reached the giddy heights of sales that the HiPhase and Multiphase did though. There was just too much opposition/variety in the 100" class for that!  In those days most people entered something with 12 feet of span in "Open" and, unlike now, kept their 100S as a "spare"/reserve rather than a second big'un

Just a thought, if you can find an Eliminator 100" that'd be better than good, and it's built up......

Back in the day entries for comps had very "regional" leanings, with the bulk of the Midlands flyers using John Stephens designs or EMP products (Algebras) Southern League was mostly wooden Centiphases and OD's with polyhedral foam wings (2 x 48" panels) I had a Caldercraft "Vega" 100" which served me well, and a spare "Proton" pod with 100" foam wings design cribbed from the late Neil Webb - yes they were indeed the days - Northern League?, Mr Bernie Henwood was "the man" there, as I remember......

There days I often trot out my Brian Austin Trilogy 7 when the wind drops, a superb 100" design and just as efficient/effective as any modern design, or perhaps one of my (two) "Birds of Time"....looked like a Minimoa, flew like a bird, just over  the 100S limit at 108" but you could take a couple of panels out of the parallel chord centre section......also one of the truly great designs.....I could go on....anyway, that's enough nostalgia for one day and so, luckily for you all, I'll come out of my reverie now before I am tempted to mention the entire bewildering array of models suitable/available for 100S back then

Today, it seems it's a Tracker or a Tracker.......now that's real choice........

Regards

Pete

BARCS1702

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  • 2 weeks later...
StraightEdge

Well folks, Pete very kindly sorted me his old fully-loaded moulded-fuselage Algebra (with two pairs of extra wing blanks, one with ailerons for later maybe, also a tailplane and spare balsa fuselage), a Spektrum carbon-friendly RX, plus a bungee and line on reel, all for a completely fair quantity of beer tokens.

The main question now (in order to get the old bird in the air) is what control throws on rudder and elevator... Pete?

And a secondary question (less urgent):  I've never used solarfilm or similar coverings, so what is the method of removing old covering and applying new?

Cheers

Jon

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