Friday, July 27, 2012

GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team

The World Famous GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team is a flight squadron of six vintage WWII airplanes performing precision flight maneuvers at select airshows across the US. The diverse flying expertise of the team members aligns perfectly with the unique components of their overall performance.

  • Team - They are the only civilian squadron currently appearing at airshows and flying WWII aircraft
  • Aircraft – SNJ-2 – of the 11 remaining planes still in existence, the team uses six of these
  • Performance – Low level precision formation flying combined with a thrilling aeronautical demonstration highlighting the unique capabilities of the aircraft while adding a richness to the history of aviation and its core foundation
  • Skytyping – like nothing else – giant billboards in the sky precisely painted by a team of expert pilots

(This link will take you to our YouTube Channel)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Piper Cub... The Worlds Best Airplane! AND Some Piper Cub Swag!

Courtesy of
 I got an email today from a friend with a link to this Piper Cub video from Sleeping Dog Productions... wow, these guys have done a really great job capturing the essence of the Cub. So it was an easy decision to let y'all know about their work. Click either of these two screenshots to go directly to the video on their website. (lots of other great vids there too)
 This video does a lot to help explain the kinds of things I've shared over the last two years about what makes the Cub so special. All of my Cub time is actually in a 90hp Clip Wing version, but everything that makes a full span Cub so fabulous is still there in the short wing conversion... and then some in my estimation.
 Seeing the joy that people experience in the Cub is exactly why I think we need a real Cub revolution in America. We need lots of flight schools all over the country teaching people to fly in simple, cheap-to-operate original J-3 Cubs that cost $50,000 or less, and that's in good enough shape to work their tail off. With super-low operating costs and more smiles-to-the-hour than any Cessna 150 could ever deliver, a Cub revolution could inject the big missing element in modern General Aviation... pure passion for the simple beauty of flight.
 Maybe it's just me, but modern LSA's just can't inspire the same love for flying that a 1940's yellow Cub can. So I'm still hoping someone will spark a nostalgic revolution of authentic Cubs that are affordable, beautiful, and most of all - a perfect joy to fly.

Get Some Piper Cub Goodies from Paul's Hobby Hangar



Sunday, July 8, 2012

FPV Made Easy!

DIY: The RCModelReviews FPV Backpack


By now most readers will have seen the RCModelReviews FPV backpack in action and many of you have expressed an interest in building one for yourselves.

Well here is where that information will be published.

What does it do?

The FPV backpack is a simple device that contains a 200mW 5.8GHz video transmitter, a 5V UBEC, a voltage regulators, a voltage dropper/filter for popular 9V-12V cameras, a low-cost board-camera and an optional microphone.
In its cheapest form, this will probably cost you little more than $50 to build but if you want best results, I highly recommend investing an a decent board-camera -- which will likely bring the price closer to $80 or $90 - but the results will be stunning!
By building all this functionality into a single unit that can be attached to virtually any model by a strip of velcro, it becomes cost-effective to fly a whole bunch of different RC planes (or boats or cars) using FPV.
The system is designed to work from a 3S lipo, usually the same lipo that powers your ESC and motor but in the case of a larger model that might have an IC engine or a 4-6S lipo, a small separate 3S pack can be used.

What you'll need

The heart of the system is the tiny 200mW 5.8GHz video sender modules which can be purchased online from a number of sources. The price of these modules varies from US$15 to US$20, depending on your source.
It is this module that converts the video and sound signals into a radio-frequency transmission that is received on the ground and used to send the video to your FPV glasses, visor or screen.
Although these modules claim to be 200mW, I'm not so sure they're actually that powerful but right now I don't have any equipment to confirm that suspicion (test gear for working with 5.8GHz signals is very expensive). Never the less, these modules work very well for the kind of short/medium-range FPV for which this system is designed.
These modules require 3.3V of power -- any more and the magic smoke will come out -- any less and the range will be considerably reduced. For that reason, the backpack has a 3.3V regulator on its circuit-board that ensures the modules are properly fed and watered (so to speak).
While this regulator could have been designed to accept the full 11.1V of a 3S lipo, that would have meant making it bigger, heavier and wasting more of your battery's power as heat. For that reason, a cheap 3-5A SBEC is used to drop the full battery voltage down to 5V before it goes into the 3V regulator on the backpack. A simple solution to an otherwise complex problem.
The circuit board also contains a second regulator, this one delivers a safe and constant 9V for the camera. By using this regulator, the problem of interference from the ESC is eliminated, where the backpack is powered by the main flight battery. It also means that the camera tends to run a little cooler -- which is a good thing.
Of course no FPV system is complete without an antenna and the RCModelReviews FPV backpack uses the popular clover-leaf, circularly polarized antennas developed by a gentleman calling himself IBCrazy. These are super-cheap to make and work much better than the traditional black plastic-covered dipoles that ship with most commercial FPV systems.
And, of course, you'll need a camera. See the RCModelReviews YouTube channel for the reviews of several cameras and decide for yourself whether you'll be able to get away with a cheap "under $20" camera, or whether it's worth spending an extra $30 for the "top of the line" high-resolution CCD camera with "wide dynamic range".
Finally, there will be a few cables and connectors to make up -- but these are pretty straight forward.

Why the delay?

Right now I'm finalizing a couple of small but important details in respect to the backpack design (testing, testing, testing) to ensure that it's as close to a 100% reliable design as is possible to produce.
To this end, I have removed one of the regulators and replaced it with a simpler and more reliable method of reducing the voltage fed to the camera.
Under extensive testing at elevated operating temperatures I found that there original 3-terminal regulator was getting too warm -- so I've ditched it in favour of a charge-pump setup using a diode and capacitor (don't worry -- unless you have a background in electronics your eyes should have glazed over just then).

So, bookmark this page now and come back in a day or so when the final design, bill of materials and other details will be posted.
Discuss this subject in the RCModelReviews Forums