As I often do this time of year, I become somewhat reflective on the past year as I look forward to turning the corner into another, the year 2016.
It of course has been a very exciting year for us here at NAMC with my partners Stephan and Dave. We launched this website, released the Mig-35 and the Mig-FA and in the last couple months have been busy with a couple of new projects we hope to release before summer 2016. Although at times the "design, test and validate" portion of our motto has been somewhat quiet, the "think" part of our process has always been in "full afterburner" as we continue to learn from our own designs, research new theories and continually think of ways we can make our next NAMC plane that much better not only in scale looks, but most importantly in flight performance.
The data base of information we have collected on hundreds and hundreds of flights with our Mig-35s and Mig-FAs continues to teach us and prove that the scientific approach to park jet design allows us to really dial in and focus on making our planes better. I continue to learn so much from my partners Stephan and Dave about the theory and then as I understand more of the science, I'm able to better evaluate these principles in my role as the main NAMC test pilot.
Of course every design is subtly different, but when we understand and employ relatively simple scientific principles of best balance in all three axes, precise and efficient movement in those axes and optimum size of control surfaces and airfoils, we start to see not only vast improvement in performance but a trend in solid, repeatable, scientific results in how our planes perform. Of course there is still a small percentage of how our planes work that ends up being a bit of luck or experimentation, but when employing and verifying simple, proven scientific principles in each new design, it strips away much of the guess work out of the process and we end up with exceptionally good flying planes.
On a personal level, I took a bit of a break from flying over the summer to recharge my personal batteries. I was getting burned out a bit mentally with RC and a bit physically as well as we had one of the hottest, driest summers on record here on the west coast of British Columbia. Just wasn't that fun standing in the sun at temperatures up around 32 C/90 F. I am very happy to say that the break was well worth is as I have returned to flying with a renewed vigor to test new ideas and work on new projects.
In January of this year (2015), I had written an article on our old blog called Scott's RC Goals for 2015. My main goal this year was to become a better RC pilot and I set these for sub goals to achieve that
- Balance all my planes on or as close to neutral CG as possible;
- Set up my servos and linkages to optimize precision of control;
- Reduce the amount of expo I use in transmitter setup to again optimize precision and feel for my plane; and
- Learn a better way to handle my transmitter and sticks to maximize my feel for the plane and increase precision in my control inputs. Essentially use the "two finger" or finger/thumb method of flying.
As mentioned many times in articles and videos written and produced on our old and new blog, our NAMC "bible" is Dave Scott's Airplane and Radio Setup manual. By adopting Dave Scott's principles along with a few others like the arc test for determing best CG, it allows all three of us to be working from the same "sheet of music" since we set up our planes, transmitters and ourselves the same when we approach flying our planes. Without sounding too evangelical, if you are looking to really getting back to basics with how you set up your plane, your transmitter and yourself, this current (2014), well written manual can help you get there. All it takes is a willingness to change and an open mind, that is where I was just over a year ago and since adopting the principles from this manual, my flying has improved and is at a much higher level than ever before in my RC career.
As the "keeper" of the NAMC Recommended parts list, I am always on the lookout for what might be a good component or prop to add to the list that isn't too expensive and just works well. As I have learned through a lot of experimentation, some successful, some not so much, just a different motor, prop or combination of the two can breathe new life into a plane or my flying experience, without a huge outlay of money.
Although none of these components have been added to the list, there are some potential candidates as I continue with some of the testing in and around testing NAMC and other planes. I have tested and RC Timer 40A ESC which does have some application for our "mild" setup, but I don't think it will make the cut because of it's inability to properly handle amperage up to and above 40A, you can read my findings in this thread on our blog.
A motor candidate that might be added to the list is the Gear Best 2212/5T 2700 Kv motor which I think will bridge the gap between our "mild" and "medium" setups, you can read about my testing thus far in this thread. Based on bench and field test performance thus far with the 6x4 APC and 6x3 EMP props, I am quite impressed with this motor's performance. Once I get some good speed data collected at the field, as well as some good durability testing, I am thinking it will get added to our list. It is tough to beat the price, currently a $6.21 USD for a nice, lightweight, peppy little motor.
I have been experimenting also with a 7x3 EMP prop and our "mild" motor setup, specifically the Turnigy D2826/6 2200 Kv motor at the field, and I have also bench tested it with this motor and our "hot" motor, the NTM Prop Drive 2700 Kv motor. You can read my findings thus far on this thread. What impresses me thus far at the field is the mid range speed and efficiency this prop gives me with the "mild" motor. Again, once more data has been collected, I think this will also be a good candidate to be added to our parts list. It is certainly a much "beefier" prop as the picture below shows comparing it to the 6x3 EMP and 6x4 APC.
I was also given the opportunity to help test and validate a very unique plane called the F16XL Garuda which was co-designed by Ian Bott (from the UK, bogusbandit56 on the RCP forum) and Bimo Adi Prakoso (from Indonesia, also of the same name on the RCP forum). Some pictures of it below. I was able to help them through testing and validating a couple areas they had not tested and also learned a considerable amount from the unique cranked arrow delta wing and some of the unique characteristics of a single fin/tail park jet. You can read more at this post.
So I don't necessarily have any solid goals to achieve, but rather have formed some principles over the past year to help keep my RC experience fresh, fun and educational.
- I need to remind myself more often that this is a hobby, it is supposed to be fun. So when I read something on an RC forum that I don't agree with or is based on conjecture, not fact, I need to not let it bother me, or consider the source and just move on without it interfering with my mindset. Although I love to test and evaluate planes and gear, sometimes I just need to remind myself to go to the field with no agenda and just have some fun. I can't change the world, nor can I test and know everything;
- I need to continue to keep as open a mind as possible and continue to break down my "RC paradigms". I have come a long way since becoming part of NAMC and learning so much from my partners Stephan and Dave, but I need to remind myself regularly not to fall back into old mindsets. Sometimes the greatest discovery is sitting right in front of me, I just need to be open to it and take a chance that it might work great; and
- Stick to the basics. As you often hear coaches of teams that are struggling say, "we have to get back to basic fundamentals". I need to continue to do the same. As mentioned about our NAMC designs, we have been having amazing success continuing to employ simple, straight forward, repeatable scientific principles. As we continue to find ways to incorporate these into each of our designs, we find exceptional results without over sized control surfaces, huge throws and expo. Science working for us is always better than science working against us. Personally, I will continue to use straight forward precision set ups on my planes, in my transmitter and with my flying. No more huge throws, large amounts of expo for me, ever. By sticking to the basics this past year, my flying skills have improved in one year faster than they did in the two years prior by keeping things simple and focussing on precision set up and flying techniques.