Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Discovering a new slope


Well, to be exact, this is a new slope for me, but this slope is well known by the local fliers for ages. With my F3F mate Serge Delarbre, we met Arnaud Vincent to visit and try this slope (Puy de Manse) located near Gap.

You cannot miss it as this mountain can been seen from very far on the road when you approach the city of Gap. The site faces a large valley and take benefit of the venturi effect created by the mountains. the scenery is absolutely amazing, with the "Massif des écrins" on the north, with its national park, high summits, sky resorts, etc ...

The walk to access the slope is a bit hard, and so during 25 minutes, but the reward is real. The slope is very suitable for F3F with a sharp edge, and deep slope. The landing area is not large, but easy, and rotor free.

We spent the afternoon practising F3F, changing ballast, CoG, turn style. The flying space is really huge.
Here is a short video I did during this session. For sure, I will return there !


Monday, July 30, 2012

1st Qualifier for 2013 F3F French Team

Last week-end was the first qualilfication contest for the team who will represent France in Slovakia for the European championship. The french qualification is based on the National championship (May 26 to 28th 2012), the FAI of Briançon (July 21 to 22th 2012). A second qualifier will be organised mid september. The 3 best results (with ponderation based on the number of rounds in each contest) for each pilot are kept to determine the ranking.


This 1st qualifier was on a new F3F spot, at the border between Italy and France, north to Monaco. We booked the Saturday and Sunday, just in case, but the objective was to finish on Saturday. We met around midday, and at the briefing, we decided to have 15 rounds maximum, in order to better balance the final results.

We managed the 15 rounds in 4 hours, with 8 pilots. This was possible only because of generous people who did the base judges and CDs during the whole afternoon. A huge "thank you" to them !

The slope was very homogeneous  with time between 34s and 45s, but most of the time, the difference between the best time and the worse time was around 5s.

The landing was a bit problematic and was needing to be very precise to avoid stones and rocks here and there. I found a small area with grass, and no rotor at the second round and I did the 14 landings there.
After doing my best time in the very first round with a 35s flying my Pike Precision, I had a hard landing, hopefully with no damages apart few scratch on the fuselage. So I switched to the Needle 100 to not take more risk with the Pike. It has been a semi-suprise to do so well with the Needle againts some FS4, Alliaj HM during 12 rounds. I flew it empty (2600g) all the time, and had to switch back to the Pike when the wind decreased temporarely.

There were plenty of Sub-40s during the contest, and personnaly, I did 13 sub-40s over the 15 rounds, and many 37s or even 36,99, so my new surname was Mr "37" during the week-end.


In the evening we had a very nice BBQ at Denis's house, before to camp there. We returned home on Sunday, with a long road through Italy and French alps.

Overall, I'm very please with the result, which was a good practice session for the preparation of Rügen. The Col de Tende will be definitively on contest of the french league next year, becuase this spot is so promising !!!

Below is a small video I did on Saturday.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Caussols FAI video

Martin Ulrich (His blog) posted this nice video that captures well what was the Caussols FAI. Enjoy !

Monday, July 23, 2012

French Alpine Cup photo album

Tomáš Winkler sent me the link to his photo album on Picasa. This nice album make you really feel the particularities of the contest: high mountain, difficult access, challenging landing zone, superb landscape.
Nicely done Tomáš !

https://picasaweb.google.com/tomwin2/F3FContestFranceBriancon2012?authuser=0&feat=directlink#


Eurotour F3F: 1st French Alpine Cup in Briançon


This week-end was the very first edition of the French Alpine Cup in Briançon, in the heart of the Alps, close to the Italian border. Briançon is well known because it is the highest city in Europe, and Briançon claims to be the sunniest place in France with 300 days of sun per year ( A day is declared as sunny when there is more than 2 hours of sun during the day). Briancon is a very lovely city with its old fortified city. You can find more information on Wikipedia.

Following Caussols the week before, The French Alpine Cup was also over 3 days, and welcomed lots of foreign pilots taking benefit of 2 Eurotour contests in 10 days. Countries represented were UK, Czech Rep., Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, and France.

Saturday was initially the most promising day, with south breeze, but finally was a bit disapointing. After meeting at the car park, we continued the drive with 5 x  4*4 Pick-Up to transport the 28 competitors + organiseres and all the planes et equipment. After a quick installation and short briefing, we started to fly on the southern slope. The wind was steady but the lift was very variable, and the right turn could be sometimes very challenging with very few lift and some cross wind. No huge differences between the times, but some pilots taking benefit of temporarely improved lift and straight wind could fly faster by about 5 seconds compared to the average.

We manage 4 rounds, and were in the middle of the 5th round when the rain came with the thunderstorm. We got only one lightning, but shower was cold and "wet". The organiser decided to end the day because other thunderstorms were approaching. By the way, we had showers all the evening and all night long.





Saturday morning, the sky cleared, and weather forecast indicated that the wind was switching to the north. After the usual drive to the slope with the 4x4 pick ups, we waited 2 hours for the wind before to resume the comp and start round 5. Conditions growed continuously all the afternoon, starting from 7 to 8 m/s to finish at about 13m/s. The slope is at 2400m of altitude, and pilots discovered that, at this altitude, it is not good to ballast too much. Where you fly usually with 1.2, 1.5kg, here you fly with 750g to 900g, not more. The lift is in fact lower than we could expect because of the lower air density. But at the end the speed can be the same of even higher. At that game Sebastien Lanes, Matthieu Mervelet, Reto Blumer, Frederic Hours, and myself did well, achieving some sub 40s. At the end of the day, we managed 6 rounds, so a total of 10 rounds already with one more day to come ! Not that bad ... After 10 rounds Sebastien Lanes was first with a comfortable margin, Matthieu is second, I'm third followed very closely by Fred Hours and Reto Blummer.

On sunday, the wind was supposed to blow stronger than Saturday, so we were expecting to fly earlier. But the North wind decided to blow from 2pm only, so we have been able to complete 2 extra rounds, but with strong conditions and blistering times under 40s. The battle at the top of the ranking was at its maximum. Reto shooted first and flew in 39s, like myself later, when other top pilots were around 44 / 45s including Sebastien, but he was untouchable. With this 39s, I was second bypassing Matthieu, keeping Reto behind but still closed to me, and Reto bypassed Matthieu and Fred. In the last round Reto did a cut so finishes with a 43s. Fred did a 39s, but few minutes later Matthieu exploded the chronometer with a 34s, followed by Sebastien with a 37s ! Difficult situation for me before to fly. I launched for this last round with the idea in mind to limit the damages, but I was lucky enough to have good air, and this made my Pike very happy (and very fast), so I achieved a 34 also, beating Matthieu by 0.2 s and wining the round, with the fastest time of the competition as a bonus !

Ather completing the second and last round of the day, we drove down to the car park around 4pm for the results and price giving. And the winner is ? ...  Sébastien Lanes  fly seriously F3F for few years only, but follows his father Philippe who is a piller of the French F3F community for years. He won or did very well already in few comp of the french league, but recently started to participate to Eurotour events in Austria and France. Sebastien flew very consistently over the week-end, didn't cut even if he played with the base (according to him), found quickly the right flying path and the best turn style for each slope, and finally managed very well the pressure of the end of the contest. Sebastien flies a Target and likes it very much ... well given the final result, I can understand ! Congratulation Sebastien !

This first Alpine Cup has really been a success with a little help from the weather. Alain Gallinet and Frederic Hours really did a great job to organised this comp. A big thanks also the the judges, to the young course directors Thomas Delarbre and Joël Marin. For information the Alpine Cup will now be every 2 years in alternance with Laurac/St Ferriol FAI.



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Caussols FAI / Eurotour F3F

In 2012, the 2 french FAI/Eurotour contests are over 2 following week-end to allow foreign pilots to travel once and attend twice, with some tourism between. LAst week-end was the FAI in Caussols on the cote d'azur near Cannes/Nices. 34 pilots were present from several countries during the 3 days of contest (Czech Rep., Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France).

Saturday, we went to the west slope. After a short breifing, we started the round 1 that stops before the end with the wind starting to blow from the left. we cancelled the round, moved to the main slope but quickly understand that the sea breeze will not win over the strong west wind, so we moved back to the west slope. This slope is in fact a south west slope, but the west wind is redirected by the valley, so it is possible to fly.





After doing round 1, we immediatly started the round 2 with some reflights because of marginal conditions. During round 3 we had some interruptions but never more that 20 minutes so we could resume the round.

We finished the day around 8pm.

Sunday, the west wind became north west wind and getting stronger. This is problematic because the wind is now very crossed to the slope edge. Beginning of afternoon, the wind direction meter and anemoter indicating a valid wind (following the definition given by the FAI, less than 45° and more than 3m/s). The 4th round was a nightmare for most of the pilots. Most of the time, the plane was almost stopped on the edge from left base to right base, giving time over 70s and sometime over 100s !!! Few time the wind was less crossed, allowing the pilots to be betwee 50s and 60s, and very rarely, when a thermal was popping, the wind was almost straight, so time was under 50s. the next round was even worse so the CD decided to stop the round after a pilot landed at the bottom of the slope in the valley.

Monday has been much better after the wind returned to its normal direction for the season, taht is to say, sea breeze from south, south-east. We have been able to do 4 additional rounds, so a total of 8 rounds. Caussols is a very thermal slope so time to time pilots could achieve very fast times.

Overall, to be in the top 5, you should fly very well, but also be very well served by the flying conditions. Lukas Gaubatz, Sebastien Lanes, Jean-Bastien Deguelle, Jean-Luc Foucher, Allan Cohen were very lucky. Lukas has been imperious all over the week-end, flying very consistenly, and even achieving his personnal best with 30.34s in the last round. Sebastien Lanes, a young pilot flew great on monday, and jumped in the ranking. Stefan Hölbfer, Martin Ziegler, Matthieu Mervelet had much less luck, which explain their ranking.

Personnaly, after a good first round, I got marginal conditions in the second round, was the last pilot to fly at 8pm in the third round with again marginal conditions. I did well in the "nightmare" 4th round. On monday, after a good 5th round, I got only average air for the next rounds so I finishes at the 8th position.

On the plane side, we saw lots of Pike Precision, Freestyler 4, Freestyler 4.3 (FS4 wings on a FS3 fuselage), Alliajs HM, Stingers, Needle 124. This week-end is the second round of the french circuit with Briançon. We will fly at 2400m of altitude !

You can find more pictures on  Tomáš's picasa album:


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Update: XG8 to XG11 memory transfer

After reading some posts on RCgroups, I discovered that it is possible to copy memory models from the XG8 to the XG11 by using the SD card. I did the exercice and can confirm that it works great. See the screen below just after the completion of the copy from the XG8 SD Card to an internal memory of the XG11. This is certainly due to the structure of the menu which is very similar and also a proper syntax into the model memory file. Apparently this is also possible from the small sister XG6 to the XG11. Well done !


JR Propo XG11 overview



The newest XG11 from JR Propo is the current top end of the DMSS XG radio product range. This is a 11 channels radio with 30-aircraft model memories, powered by a LiFe batteries and a SD card slot to extend memory capacity or for firmware upgrade. It comes with dedicated sailplane functions.

In the box

The XG11 comes bundled either with the 11 channels RG1131B receiver or the 8 Channels RG831B. It exist in 2 versions: One with a throttle analog trim, the other one with digital throttle trim. I have the digital trim version. You will also find the AC/DC adapter to connect to the radio for charging, as the transmitter use LiFe batteries, and includes the charger built in, like the XG8.

The transmitter case

First of all, the look influenced by the transformer movie is modern and great, and the bronze color finish is very new and unusual, and its red color anodized sticks too. Very Nice looking. I really appreciate the XG8 for its shape and the ergonomics, so I was a bit worried with the larger case of the XG11. will it fit in my small hands ? The first time I holded the XG11, I felt immediatly very confortable. Even if the case is higher and larger, the thickness of the case is comparable, and even thinner where the sticks are located. The prehension of the XG11 is just perfect. On top of that the light weight makes to forget the size. Sticks, with double ball bearing, are very smooth and precise and can be ajusted. I personnaly like the shortest length for F3F. The large backlit LCD display at the bottom really make the difference while programming.





SD card

I used initialy an old 1Gb SD card, but conclude quickly that is was not recognized by the radio. Hopefully, SD cards are very cheap now, so I bought a Sandisk Extreme III, 4go and it works great. So my advise here is to not use "no name", "low class" SD Card. Class 6 or Higher is preferable.

First charging

Well, this was a surprise, because after reading the user manual, I was expecting the same behavior than the XG8, that is to say the front LED to switch on, purple color while charging, and switching off when charged. But no LED at all when I plugged the adapter !! Then I have been informed few hours later that the charging LED was in fact in the back of the transmitter, and was red. I noticed that the mistake has been found in the user manual section and there is an official warning on JR Propo website.

Let's have a look to the programming




We retrieve the same programming philosophy than the XG8, but with enhanced capabilities, few new functions, but first of all with more confort thanks to the large screen that display in one page all flight mode parameters of a single function, so you don't need to play with the switches to jump from one FM to another FM during the programming. I will not go through each function, but will give a overview of the main sailplane functions. The main screen (initial info screen) is of 2 pages, displaying the trim position, voltage, model name, or by rotating the dial you can display a configurable screen where you can see up to 6 information among a list including telemetry, timers, voltage information. This second screen is using large font for instant reading while flying.

MyList

Like the XG8, the XG11 allows to compose your prefered function list grouped on one page for faster access. Typically for sailplane, I put the Model selection, the sub trim, the flap rate menu and snap flap menu.

Glider flight modes

The XG11 provides 6 flight modes that can be renamed freely depending of your needs. As I'm not flying f3B or F3J, I used the launch or distance mode to have several speed modes with different camber position and more or less snap flaps, so I can adapt to the condition of the moment.

Travel and Limit adjust

This is the usual function but which is important with sailplane for the crow brakes, when you play with the neutral position and travel to obtain more deflection down. The Limit adjust allows to set the electronic limit corresponding to a mechanical limit of the linkage.

Sub trim

The subtrim is also very important when setting the crow brakes because it allows to shift the neutral position so you can obtain an asymetrical travel. I noticed that the max value with is 340 steps is modifed automatically if you change the Travel value to go up to 510.

Combi switch

you can set independent mixing rate for right and left Aileron to Rudder in each flight mode.



Balance function

This is one of the new function proposed by the XG11. This function is used to correct for individual servo characteristic to equalize the travel of each control. This is useful when using Four Ailerons, Dual Elevators, and Dual Flaps or dual Rudder. It is useful when more then two servos are used per control surface on large semi scale sailplane. For each servo, five points can be adjusted, which includes the neutral position but also intermediate and full deflection position.

Flap Rate

This Flap Rate function sets the maximum up and down movement of the flap control surface angles for each Flight Mode when using the Flap Lever (Slider on the right bottom of the case). Please note that you can achieve this function with the camber menu per flight mode. The Flap lever being proportional, you can adjust the flap angle while flying.

Camber system

Using this menu, you can set a fix camber (ailerons + flaps) for each flight mode, with the possibility to have a delay for smooth transition, and also a (delay) break function on the elevator stick by setting a value. Personnally, I use the delay but the elevator break function.

Brake system

This menu, composed of 3 pages is dedicated to thebutterfly or crow brake settings. The first page of the menu allow to set the spoiler/flap positoin when deploy. The second allow a fine setting of the aileron (flaperon), and the 3rd menu propose the same fine setting of the elevator.

Flaperon menu

It allows to use the flaps as Ailerons, and set the rate for each flight mode, but it also allows to set the rate of Flap-> Ailerons, to use the ailerons as flaps.



Snap flaps

This menu allows to set up and down the amount a flap and ailerons when using the elevator. You can also set an offset, and activate (Snap Activation function) the snap from this offset. Never set SNAP as active when the offset is 0. I made the experience and the result is that because the stick neutral position can fluctuate a bit, it create very strange behaviour like glitches. Anyway, as I don't use the offset, I let SNAP inactive.

Drag rudder

It is sometime used on flying wings (on the Alula for example) to create a virtual rudder just by moving up one spoiler. The rate can be set for each flight mode.

Free mixers

The XG11 provides 6 free mixers with linear or curve mode possible. Two of them can be activated by switch or/and by flight mode. The switch selection menu is very detailed in fact. You first select which flight mode(s) activate the mixer, then you can select the AND function and go to the switch selection and decide which switch and what position activate the mixer. This is very flexible and powerfull.

Timers

The XG11 provides 3 fully configurable (countdown, stopwatch, timer) that can be a great help during practice session, when you are alone without any helper. They can be reset by pressing the CLR key after moving the cursor to the Timer display on the Information and Timer screen. To have a more complete view on the XG11 possibilities, I invit you to download the user manual in PDF.

I'm going to continue to explore the XG11 capabilities, but overall, I'm very please with it. I like the menu structure which is intuitive, the large screen, and the ergonomy of the case which is from my point of view one of the best.


FUNCTION LIST

DUAL-RATE & EXPONENTIAL

Limit Adjust
Sub Trim
Reverse Switch
Servo Speed
Program Mixing: 6 systems
TIMER: 3 Selections
MIXING MONITOR
SERVO MONITOR

SYSTEM LIST
30-model internal memory
Model data copy & erase :copy (Inside TX)(Between TX and TX)(Between TX and SD card)
Model Type Select: 3types, Heli,Acro, sailplane
Model Name: 10characters
Flight Mode Name
Trim System
Stick Position Switch
Trim input Switch
Stick Alert

Transmitter Setting

LCD back light
LCD contrast
Idle Alert
Low battery warning
Audio Mode
Software version
Servo Hold Warning
Model Link Bind
Stick Calibration
Trainer
Bind and Range Check
Telemetry System:
   - Receiver battery / No Link Alarm
   - Temperature
   - Revolutions Per Minute
   - Altimeter
   - Climb Indicator
   - For Motive Power Battery(Motive Power BatteryAlarm / Nominal Capacity Value / Battery Capacity Alarm)
All Servos Hold
Device Select
Swash type
Wing Type
Fail safe
Throttle Stick Direction
Stick Mode

ETC

My list
Touch select function
Telemetry indication: Customs sub-information display
Advanced Digital Trim on each flight mode
Trainer jack
SD card slot
Graphic dispaly with back light LCD
Charging circuit integrated for Li-FE battery (standard TX pack)
Stick tension spring adjustment

SAILPLANE FUNCTION LIST

Flap rate
Motor System
Camber System
Brake System
Differential
Flaperon MIX
AILE to RUDD MIX
ELEV to CANB MIX
RUDD to SPOT MIX
Balance


SYSTEM LIST
Wing Type
V-Tail
Dual ELEV
Dual FLAP
Dual SPOI
Dual RUDD

ETC

Flight Mode
Dual Aileron



Friday, July 13, 2012

They are here !

I mean, F3F French Team T-shirts arrived and will reach their owners and new home very soon ! 


Sunday, July 8, 2012

RDH and external bearing kit installation




I finished the installation of the RDH and external bearing kit from Sloperacer in the wings of the first Pike. I'm pretty satisfied because I obtained the deflection I wanted, and a very tight command, with absolutely no slop. As you can see on the pictures, I used the MKS wood servos frames as I'm very happy with them and the screws provided with the servos. The external bearing is maintained by a wood frame, in order to increase the gluing surface. I decided to fix the bearing only on one skin, for maintenance reasons. Time will tell if it was a mistake or not. Each part is removable, but need some method and sometimes is a bit challenging. What is really nice is that you can ajust the pushrod length very precisely. I filmed the following short video to show the RDH and external bearing kit in action, once installed in the wing.

Weekly practice at Col de Faïsses


South wind was lower that expected at Col de Faisses for the weekly F3F practice session (with Joël). We have been however able to fly well, with up do 670g of tungsten ballast. This was the first time I was using them.
The afternoon was a bit disturbed by the precense of tons of horse flies, because of the cows staying there all summer. they were absolutely huge and aggressive. Standing in the wind was fine to keep them away. Here are the pictures taken by my clubmate Joël.

Friday, July 6, 2012

RDH and Fu-Fix External Bearing Kits (Sloperacer)

I discovered the RDH system concept with the Rotmilan, which is designed especailly to use it in the sense the pushrod are made from carbon, at the exact length, ailerons and flaps include factory installed the removable axis to connect the control rod to. And of course the Rotmilan came with the very special servos arms, milled in aluminium.
All this is already a big improvement over standard linkages but what was missing is the possibility to ajust the length of the llinkage, and also be able to use it with standard clevises on the ailerons side.




Sloperacer improved the system by proposing RDH adapters made from brass to use the RDH arm with conventional pushrod, 2mm Stainless steel 303 grade pushrods of different length. Used in combination with standard M2 clevises and metal horns, it is now easy to install RDH easily everywhere.

On top of that Sloperacer proposes also to enhance the servos installation by mounting Fu-Fix External Bearing Kit, in order to maintain tightly the servo arm, reduces head wear and slop.

I have purchased complete kits to equip my 2 new Pikes Precision including:

- Fu-Fix External Bearing Kits
- RDH servos arms for MKS servos
- RDH adapter
- M2 Multiplex clevises
- metal control horns

I'm currently installing the wing servos in the first Pikes, and will do pictures that I will share with you. My constraint is that I want everything to be removable for maintenance/repair or replacement, and this on the field. I'm progressing slowly but. More to come !


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Second training session of the french F3F team

End of April, beginning of may, the French F3F team met again at Oleron island on the west coast of France after a long drive to practice F3F on similar slopes that tha one we will possibly fly in Rügen. 2 entire days of intensive flying in strong conditions the first day and very light the second day. Very useful and instructive for the pilot ! Here is a short video clip:



You can visit F3F French Team website at the following URL: http://f3fteamfrance2012.blogspot.fr/

Monday, July 2, 2012

Aeromodelling a the french TV news !

A nice report about aeromodelling at the french regional TV news (south west), featuring my friend Michel Etchart.


To watch it, follow the link:   http://www.pluzz.fr/jt-19-20-aquitaine-2012-06-30-18h59.html

After the advertisment, move the cursor to 15min30 and enjoy !

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Col de Faïsses

I drove to the Col de Faisses again yesterday where I met several clubmates there. The wind was blowing at 75 km/h average, with some dust at 95km/h. I flew my Pike Precision with 1.2 kg of ballast and my Needle 100. A good practice session for F3F in big conditions. Here are the pictures taken by Pascal Tournache:


Mistral Soaring - Rognac

Yesterday we had a good friendly winter contest in Rognac, between Aix en Provence and Marseille. I left Grenoble aroudn 7am under the sn...