It has been refreshing to see traditional building making a small comeback, even more so over the last few months where a little bit more building time has been available. In turn this has encouraged small UK kit manufacturers to revitalise older classics with more modern construction techniques, and with fresh new designs springing up for budding builders to tackle.
One such company is Angel Wing Designs, who are more noted for their participation in the indoor aerobatic scene dating back to 2006. Their designs became popular in the early days of F3P competitions within the UK, and for which they have been making kits ever since.
AWD are now in the process of producing a new line of fun sized laser cut designs from wood. These models will be rolled out through 2020/2021. Initial offerings will include multi-motor flying wings, along with a micro DLG glider.
First to be released is Blink, a neat little high performance 600mm wingspan delta with a clever interlocking egg box type construction that produces a light and rigid airframe. AWD claim that it can be built off any hard-flat surface, making it an ideal introduction for any experienced pilot who fancies dipping their toes into model building for the first time.
With these assurances, a kit price tag of £35 and an empty coffee table in front of me, it wasn’t long before I had convinced myself enough to buy one, along with an optional extra decal set from which there are a number to choose.
Box Of Goodies
My kit arrived in a timely manner and on opening the no-nonsense box I was hit with that distinct aroma of freshly burnt wood. I was presented with a well-protected set of cleanly laser cut wooden parts, a couple of 6mm balsa dowels and four magnets.
One thing that struck me was the lack of printed instructions. However, they are available to download from the AWD website to view or print for yourself, like I did.
The step by step instructions include many 3D assembly drawings that are clear and easy to follow. I found it well worth taking the time to familiarise myself with the build and to identify all the parts before I set about making a start.
Coffee Table Build
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As with most laser cut kits the parts simply press out from their sheets, requiring the lightest of sanding to remove any remains of the location tags.
Due to the interlocking construction AWD recommend using either thin CA or Deluxe Materials Superphatic for all of the spar/rib joints, with medium/thick CA or PVA for everything else.
It’s worth noting that the two main spars have jigs attached to their lower faces, which must be left in place. It’s easy to miss this and break them away, which I nearly did!
Construction begins by slotting the 12 main ribs into the two main spars sat on a flat surface. This is done dry, with the exception of the two outer ribs that can be glued. The four remaining spars are then slid into position from above and alignment is considered correct when all the leading edge (LE) holes and slots are level with each other. Using one of the LE dowels as an aid helps here. Once everything is straight and true all of the joints can be glued.
Birch ply is used for the motor mount, which is predrilled for the suggested motor, with an additional clearance oval hole cut out for the motor wires to pass through. It matters not on which side this lies.
Each LE dowel can then be fitted. A note on AWD’s instructions suggests that the dowel diameter may alter from their supplier, so the ribs semi-circular cut outs may need opening out a touch. I did this anyway, with a piece of 6mm hardwood dowel wrapped in fine sandpaper used as a round sanding tool, giving an accurate seating for the balsa LE dowel to affix to.
Whilst in this area I made a bit of a modification by adding a soft balsa infill piece at the LE to inner rib joint. This was sanded to conform with the overall shape, hopefully adding a little extra strength and giving better adhesion for covering.
The servo plate fits in between the two main spars. It’s wise to pre-fit your chosen servos before mounting it. Shelves are provided to mount the ESC and receiver, which attach to the same inner ribs.
Following the natural curvature of the top of the ribs are the 3mm trailing edge sheets. These are added next, followed by the upper centre section 1.5mm balsa sheeting.
The front part of the top centre section sheeting is formed by the 1.5mm ply battery hatch, along with its magnet mounting formers and its frame. In order to make a workable open compartment the two front spar tops are cut off in this area using a razor saw. Three interlocking birch ply pieces make up the battery hatch. The slots are offset so that the rails can only go on one way, creating the correct curvature.
A magnet is pushed into each holder before they are mounted, leaving a 1mm gap on their upper faces. Into these gaps go the second lot of magnets, with a drop of thick CA applied to each before the hatch is located on top and put to one side for the glue to bond. If done correctly you will get a quite satisfying click when the hatch is shut.
Moving to the underside, both building jigs can now be detached from their relevant spars, lightly sanding the joining pips flush. The lower sheeting is added, which incorporates cooling and fin slots.
Each wing tip is made up from laminates of wood. When done they are sanded to shape to match the elevons, which can be temporarily taped in place for this exercise. Birch ply elevon horns are included, which I epoxied in place to be on the safe side.
Last to be completed is the fin. This is made up in sections, glued together before being put to one side for covering.
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The beauty of smaller models is that it gives you a chance to use up those odd bits of covering that we tend to collect over the years. Before covering commenced I gave the airframe the once over with a fine sanding block, then I painted the bulkhead area, cooling slots and elevon horns to roughly match the orange World Models Litex that I was planning to use.
All of the components were covered separately before finally assembling the airframe. Each elevon is hinged using Magic Tape top and bottom, although there’s no reason why you couldn’t use Mylar hinges.
My chosen decals were added to the top surface, which I think finish it off nicely.
Electrics & Setting Up
Blink is designed to be powered using a 2203 – 2306 brushless motor, of anything between 2400 – 2700kV. I went with an Emax ECO 2206 2400kV drone motor spinning a 4.5″ x 4.5″ propeller via a 20-amp ESC fuelled with a 3S 500mah LiPo, giving me a ‘middle of the road’ power output.
Any 9g servos can be used. Mine were cheap and cheerful MG 90s, which are coupled to the elevons via 2mm pushrods.
Be warned, it is tight getting the motor bolts through the bulkhead. Due to this I only used two in opposing directions, which has been fine.
As previously mentioned, the ESC and receiver sit on mounting trays located each side of the battery bay, held down with either Velcro or double-sided tape. My full-size Futaba receiver didn’t quite fit through the rib aperture so instead it lives just behind the battery.
Using an elevon mix, the maximum control throws for the elevator are 7mm up and down, with ailerons at 8mm up and down. Expo of around 45% is recommended to calm things down around the centre points but I didn’t feel I needed this on mine as I like plenty of movement with all of my models. The elevons have roughly 2mm of up reflex trimmed in and the CG position is set on the third spar from the nose.
Blink And It’s Gone!
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Frustratingly, I had to wait at least a month before the lock down measures were eased, enabling me to undertake the maiden. So, when the time arrived, I was up at the patch armed with a handful of charged LiPos.
Launching the Blink is a simple underarm affair, grasping the fin and pushing it forwards and slightly upwards into wind on about 1/2 throttle. Mine required just a few clicks of down trim before it was happily in neutral circuits.
It wasn’t long before I plucked up the courage to open the throttle to 100% and even with my lukewarm set up, I can see why its named Blink – it has quite an impressive speed so you must keep your eye on it!
As with all delta’s energy can soon be dissipated if you turn too sharply. With that in mind I kept mine smooth throughout the different speed ranges. Loops, rolls (slow and ridiculously fast), inverted flight and all the usual high-speed manoeuvres are easily achievable with the Blink
What impressed me the most is its varying speed range. Due to its light weight slow, high alpha circuits are good fun, kept within the confines of our patch. A quick bleed to full power and it will climb away almost vertically.
It does make me think what this would go like on a 4S set up? It’s not for the faint hearted but is clearly an option for the speed freaks amongst us – a predictable guess is that it will be ballistic!
I take my hat off to Angel Wing Designs. Blink is a well thought out design that is a pleasure to build and fly, so much so that it is a keeper within the Harris squadron – and that’s something of a statement for a fixed wing model!
Keep an eye out on the AWD website as they start to add more of their upcoming designs. If you do decide to build the Blink, then you won’t be disappointed.
Name: Blink Model type: Laser cut delta assembly kit
Manufactured by: Angel Wing Designs
Wingspan: 600mm (23.6”)
All-up weight: 250g (8.82oz)
Motor: 2203 -2306 brushless motor (2400 – 2700kv)
ESC: 15 – 20A
Battery: 3S 500mAh – 1300mAh LiPo
Functions (servos): Elevons (2), throttle (ESC)
Required to fly: Small receiver, 2 x 7.5 – 9g high res servos