Back to building

 Acroduster  Comments Off on Back to building
May 012020

I got a nice envelope of Bling last week. The process of getting from the parts I drew to something in my hands is not that complicated. Submit a dxf file, receive a quote, say yes, wait a few days, done. And the good part is, it is not breaking the bank!

The one thing that I had to learn is that a ‘part’ is a single dxf file. What you see here is a single file. Why is this important? The handling and preparation fees deal with single parts. There appears to be no limit to how complicated the parts is (apart from obviously the amount of time the laser needs to cut).

To keep it simple, stick as many individual bits together as you can, to produce as large a part as possible. That gives you the cheapest part. Unless of course you want a 1000 of each individual bit, but then we talk something else.

All I had to do is cut the bits apart, do a bit of filing and sanding an you’re done.

nice little puzzle

So next is doing some trial fitting, and start building the center section of the top wing. Once that is done, the cabane structure etc. At the moment there is a build thread on biplane forum, at just about the right stage. I’ll add some of these here for comparison

 Posted by at 6:42 pm

Lining it all up

 Acroduster  Comments Off on Lining it all up
Feb 182020

Getting the cabane structure built was always going to be one of the challenging bits of the build. So, off we go. With the aid of my trusty 0.01 degree level, I’ve now lined up the fuse and a flat plate that will serve as the build-reference surface. As we speak, I just finished setting up the main center spar. Last week I bought myself a bandsaw from the interwebs. It was advertised as B-Ware, but since the price was right, I figured I probably could fix whatever minor ailment it suffered from. As it turned out, the power switch wiring had come lose inside the frame. I could fix that in about 5 mins. From the same lot I got a disc/beltsander. Also B-ware. The table in front of the disc had some boltholes drilled out of alignment. Yup, big job again. Clearing space for the toys took more time then the repair!

Which all leads up to: I need to cut some metal. I have asked for prices for laser-cutting the parts, but likely I can cut them just as well with the bandsaw. For which I of course need to locate the not so standard size saw. Luckily they can be made to order and do not cost the earth. (as in 15 Euro/pce, made in Germany.)

camera and lasers don’t go together..
fuse is at all the zero’s, now locate the main center spar.
Center spar, with printed attachment plate.
now I need to cut some real metal
 Posted by at 12:12 pm

TLAR (that looks about right)

 Acroduster  Comments Off on TLAR (that looks about right)
Feb 112020

That’s the way we used to (and still mostly do) design our stuff. If it looks right, it will fly right. Works since the days of the Wright brothers (and all those that went before and came after them.)

However, fun has to be had! I need to sort of start thinking about the wings in order to build the center section so that I can finish the pcovering of the front section. Given that the plans show a nice 1:1 rib, and given it is often stated to be a ‘Modified M6 profile’, I want to find out what Lou Stolp was thinking.

The short story: Take a picture, turn it into a black and white image, remove all noise, fiddle some more and import the result in Profili. Then say you want to find similar airfoils, job done.

It does not take long to come up with a list. We’ve got a NACA0013, a RAF30, a Goetingen 459 and an Ultimate profile, that all are very similar. Mix NACA0013 with RAF30 and you are 99% close to what Lou made. Running the results through XFoil shows characteristics that are somewhere between the 2.

full size profile drawing.

Before anybody asks: I haven’t got a clue what I am doing, but the curves look pretty! But I did have to go and find mr. Reynolds to figure out what I was looking at. (He says his number is somewhere between 300 and 500k for the speeds I guess this will fly.)

Given that the Ultimate is a known well flying Biplane, and the RAF30 profile is:

The basic symmetrical section ( R.A.F. 30 ) was calculated by the method described in R. & M. 911, using the constants k = 1.08, n = 1.95, B = 0. The aerofoil shape so obtained ends in a sharp angle, and so the last 1 percent of the chord was cut off in order to avoid a thin trailing edge. The form of the aerofoil was also adjusted slightly towards the trailing edge in order to remove a slight reflex curvature. The aerofoil has a maximum thickness of 0.13 of the chord at a distance of one third of the chord from the leading edge, and its shape approximates closely to the symmetrical Gottingen section 459 which was known to possess good aerodynamic characteristics.

Yup, that’s good enough for me..

In my younger days I did not have all this fancy stuff, I drew profiles that looked nice, and all those contraptions flew, so actually, this is just a fun exercise, that probably does not add anything to the overall results. But it looks good when you say you figured out what Lou Stolp did!

However, how we go from a M6 profile to a symmetric one remains a mystery for the moment. Searching some more I find this remark on The new airfoil is the RAF 34, which is similar to the M6 airfoil used on the Pitts. Searching for RAF34 on indeed shows a profile similar to an M-6. The original Pitts did not have a symmetrical airfoil! Ok, happy with that. I’ll stick to what I have 😉

I could figure this out if I want to, but at the moment I’m not interested. I want a symmetrical profile, that is what I have, and how they got there is not really important.

 Posted by at 6:39 pm

A day figuring out the center section.

 Acroduster  Comments Off on A day figuring out the center section.
Feb 102020

Making the top wing center-section is a bit of a challenge. The drawings are not very clear. I started by making some fake parts, and see what makes sense. There is also no need for the wing-tank, which saves a bit of hardware. Given that the original construction was usually very clever, it pays to make things as the designer intended.

I also spend quite a bit of time digitizing the wing-profile, then trying to find an equivalent that is easy enough to make. Profile is very close to a standard NACA0013, so I will go with that. If I change my mind for a fatter profile, I need to adjust those plates below. A profile that came very close too is the one from an Ultimate. Either way, I’m close.

Some of the hardware for attaching wings to the centre section. The drawings provide a full size template. These plates are 4mm something strong enough. (1.5 mm Stainless will do fine)
purple is wing side, green bottom attaches to cabane struts. The pin is what holds it all together.
Grey tabs are connecting to the cabanes. This extra tab at the bottom of the blue part is the rear spar landing wire attachment point. The brown plates are extra plywood shims to prevent the wood of the spar splitting. Clever boys they were!

There are lots of notes on the drawings, several pages of part descriptions, but references are not always consistent, so lots of fun to figure this out!

But I think the method above should work. It’s drawn upside down. The main spar dimensions are 107 * 20 mm (yes folks, that is all!) scales down to 35 * 7 mm ( ’cause I found a stash of 7 mm rectangular pine sticks). Just needed to glue them together, and job’s done.

After this is all done, I can use this as a jig for building the cabane structure. Below is e real one. As you see the front attachment point is slightly higher then the rear one. As in it is a straight line offset from the center of the profile. It could also simply be to make life easy for the builders, because you need to have the attachment points parallel to the main frame top.

..a real life example.
 Posted by at 6:27 pm

Random stuff.

 Acroduster  Comments Off on Random stuff.
Feb 082020

Had some issues with the 3D-printer. Sometimes it would tell me the bed was not heating at the required rate and shutdown unceremoniously. Not Good. After the usual suspects were proven to be innocent it was the ntc resistor under the bed. Tiny as it is, it is a vital bit. Why oh why it would work for hours on end when I watch it, but throw a fizzy when I was not, is something only known to it’s designer. Anyway, after 4 years or so, it’s been retired. Since then, no more failed prints. So, to sensibly waste some plastic I quickly drew some parts for testing. Below you see a false former to support the front plating. Later the plating will be supported by the firewall. After my ABS adventures, I am now using ASA from FormFutura. (The light grey stuff). It has all the good habits from ABS, none of the bad. And indeed, shrinkage seems to be absent. This long part just fits the print-bed. With ABS I would not be able to print it without popping loose. (yes, this give me ideas for a future project 😉

false former for the front plating.
something to keep the driver busy.
Full size dimensions versus 1/3rd scale

And next.. Before i do the front paneling I need the cabane struts on the frame. Before that I need the hardware to mount it, so let’s see what I can cook up. This part is drawn full size on the plans. It is basically a bit of tubing (11mm diameter) with a 1.6mm sheet wrapped around it. This is really all that holds the top wings on the fuselage. For convenience I make mine from 4 mm tube (so I can use M3 bolts) and 0,8 mm sheet. I did some calculations, and if I am not too far of, that little thing can hold over 300 kg before it breaks apart. Actually, the weakest part is the soldered joint. Silver solder (worst case) has 300 N/mm2 tensile strength, the soldered area is 10 mm2. I think I’m safe enough with this.

The temptation is still there to make the tabs per full size, just need to find a method to keep things light enough and easy enough to fabricate. In fact, I don’t need to do the whole fuse, just this cockpit area… The method used at the tail end is way too difficult, mostly because I can’t source plain simple 2 mm strip..

Full size (image source:
or like this: a strip.

A nice in between job will be the throttle quadrant, and instrument panel.

I like this one, I can use some fancy displays for that!

Anyway, I guess I’ll have to build at a minimum a mockup of the center section, which means I need to think about the wing mounting.

All the images above are downloaded from, I hope they don’t mind, and if they do, I am sure they will let me know 😉

 Posted by at 6:28 pm

a good day was had..

 Acroduster  Comments Off on a good day was had..
Jan 122020

Since the winter appear to be absent in my shed, it is not too cold to make some good progress. Progress the last few days has been getting to grips with Shapr3d. I Mentioned before it is one of these bits of software that will change the way casual users are going to be designing their parts. Anyway, I need something to hold my skins on the frame. For the tails end I did not mind soldering, but preparing those bits is very time consuming. I also have it in my mind that I need to make some progress to get things flying soonish. Anyway, I figured I should try to make some clips to speeds things up.

Clips for 8 mm tube and M2 nuts, printed in ABS for the needed flexibility.

Now that I have the hang of it, it will take me 10 mins or so to ‘design’ these parts. Since this stuff is relatively small, I do need to keep the limits of the printer in mind. Still printing in 0.1 mm layers, It takes forever, but it looks nice!

This is the idea.
trying to match the original construction method and spacing.

Of course the Big Question is: will this survive in real life. I guess only time will tell. There are other, more stronger filaments out there, so I am not too worried at the moment.

Next weeks challenge, I need to support the elevator pushrod halfway between front and tail. This is a nice exercise 😉

This support is for the 6 mm carbon tube. The red tube is a 3 mm cross piece to mount it on. The complete contraption consists of 3 parts. Why so difficult? I told you, it’s all practice!

 Posted by at 5:52 pm

more tail-talk

 Acroduster  Comments Off on more tail-talk
Jan 062020

With the skins ready it is time to do another trial fit. And this is where I discovered a booboo.. The bolt that locks the elevator pushrod in place interferes with the skins.

Bolt interferes with skins.

Ok, don’t panic. Think. The 3mm bolt is not really 3 mm, it’s 2.9 mm. That introduces unwanted play, so it is no good anyway. The hole in the link ball is 3.0 mm. Sooo… a bit of 3 mm tubing locked in place should do. And so it was done. Actually this is a much simpler and secure solution. (for now anyway)

inspection hole for elevator linkage.

Last bit for now is the creation of better fitting hinge pins.

 Posted by at 6:08 pm

And a happy new year to you and yours!

 Acroduster  Comments Off on And a happy new year to you and yours!
Jan 012020

With all the good times behind us, it’s time to start work again. Santa was kind enough to bring me a handful of drills in all sizes from 1-2 mm. So it’s time to start drilling and tapping holes again. Officially I should drill a 1.6 mm hole for a 2 mm tap, but I find that in stainless steel that is too small. Drilling 1.7 mm works just great. And since there is not really a heavy load on the bolts, it all should work.

adding these little tabs is very time consuming!

Adding the little tabs is a lot of work, if I prepare a whole row it is easier to solder, but takes a lot of time to prepare. Making them individual takes less time to make, but is more difficult to solder. Ah well, it’s all part of the fun. I think this part of the build is the most challenging so far.

looking good! unfortunately that 0.2 mm plating is very easily marked. But I guess that makes it more ”scale”!

A man needs a seat

 Acroduster  Comments Off on A man needs a seat
Nov 262019

In order to fly by the seat of his pants, a pilot needs a seat. For weight saving reasons this one used aluminum straps. I am sure that solution was fine in sunny California, but I doubt it would be comfortable over here. Never mind, scale is scale! I might at some stage add the fake rivets that secure the ends around the tubing.

I just realize I forgot to add the attachment points for the safety belt.. Soldering stainless steel (750 C) and alu (melts at 350C) don’t go together. Guess I’ll have to fake soldering them (JB weld to the rescue)

The back support of the seat is made from heavy canvas, I must have a look if I can find some old suitable trousers!

I suppose it would also be a Good Idea to make sure you can reach the servo from the bottom of the fuselage. I can feel a non-scale access hatch coming up!

Not visible anymore is the connecting rod between stick and servo. I replaced the first solid version by one that can telescope. Just to make sure we don’t get any unwanted inputs from ye driver! It works like a servo-saver with 2 springs on either side of a solid point. I have approx 15 mm travel each way. I might do a drawing for that, lest I forget how clever I was.

 Posted by at 7:33 pm  Tagged with: