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Watt Watch........trends in model flying

Is your club flightline turning electric?

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David Ashby - Moderator25/05/2007 14:56:00
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In the July issue editorial we've been deliberating on the trend towards electric flight as Graham and I noticed that (seemingly all of a sudden) that our club flightline one Sunday was almost exclusively electric.

What's your flightline doing?

Chris Collins25/05/2007 15:04:00
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Ours tends to have a majority of ic, with a few electrics dotted around. A couple of the members are electric only.

Personally, whilst I like the idea of electric, the cost of having enough batteries to get a days flying is too much for me. With a bottle of fuel, all of my planes can be flown all day at a cheaper cost.
FLY ELECTRIC25/05/2007 19:33:00
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When Gordon Brown gets into power he will no doubt be looking very closely at ANYTHING he can either tax or ban - and with methanol/castor oil powered i.c. engines being probably the most pollutant by miles, don't think for a moment he will miss them out!
There is no doubt that the fuel versus battery argument will grumble on for a long while yet but looking to the future I think we will see the balance swing towards Electric eventually.
Many Electric flyers simply LIKE the simplicity, cleanliness and reliability of this power type and I think that explains the fact that flightlines are seeing more of them.
Nige.
Phil Meredith25/05/2007 20:33:00
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our club is starting to drift towards electric more and more,
i prefer the oily smelly side of the hobby, just recenty i was setting up my trex heli for a flight, you know, stick to the top, plays a tune, stick to the bottom, plays another tune, we ready for the fun to start, credit card clenched firmly between butt cheeks, spool her up and "poof" cloud of blue smoke, and the speed controler is a gonner, sixty quid just like that, if it was a throttle servo a fiver would have fixed it,, it has its fore and againsts
phil
Tim Mackey26/05/2007 00:07:00
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Yes but Phil, obviously something was not correctly researched / matched, and it sounds as if the ESC was overloaded. I fthere was no user error or mismatch, then a refund is due. IF a good quality IC installation had an error resulting in a deadstick ( almost unheard of in leccy flight ) the resulting damage could easily top 60 squid...
Peter Miller26/05/2007 08:38:00
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Our small club has a couple of pure electric flyers who turn up occasionally when the weather is fine and one or two of us who fly EP gliders when the mood takes us, which is not often.
The great majority of the members do not have even one EP model
Personally I am a great believer in low wing loading and object to lugging batteries round which provide less power than an engine, especially when the cost of a powerful motor and batteries is more than a four stroke engine.
I fly an electric powered glider on a weekday in a field at the end of my lane or, after the harvest in front of my house but I also fly the odd power model on these fields as well.
Dead-stick26/05/2007 14:30:00
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I have heard more than one person comment about electric powered aircraft and windy conditions not being compatable; utter tosh! This is no more so than with an ic powered plane. Too many people are ignorant about the capabilities of electric powered aeroplanes, and this includes the myth that electric planes usually have high wing loadings. Welcome to the age of Lipos and brushless motors!


David Ashby - Moderator26/05/2007 19:31:00
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The thread was more about the fact that when a change is predicted (ie. electric flight being 'the way ahead') often nothing seems much different until suddenly one day you turn round and suddenly without you realising everyone actually HAS gone electric! Something we noticed recently at our club.
Peter Miller26/05/2007 20:35:00
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I was not saying that electric can only be flown in calm weather. I was commenting on the club members in our club who do fly electric.
FLY ELECTRIC26/05/2007 21:13:00
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Lugging heavy batteries around? LESS power than an i.c. engine? Electric models with higher wing loadigs?
Sorry Peter but where have you been the last few years?
Not one of my Electric designs exceeds 20 oz. per square feet loading which is far less than the majority of i.c. "bricks" at my club; most of my models have incredible vertical performance the like of which only the most sporty of i.c. models exhibit; and a motor/ESC/Li-Po set-up these days weighs pretty much the same as an i.c. engine/tank of fuel/RX battery/throttle servo. Why would anyone convert an i.c. model to Electric if it didn't result in less weight and more power?
I wish people would stop seeing the hobby as "i.c. versus Electric" and regard the expansion into different power systems as a way of broadening the way in which we can all enjoy flying!
Nige.

flytilbroke26/05/2007 21:52:00
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Most of the guys I know are mainly IC, although there are electric power planes about. size for size and performance V duration IC still seems to be well in front. Add the cost ballance,,,, I can fly 15/18 mins with IC .46 to .61, land, fuel, five flights rapid, for far less cost than with anything of equal size and similar performance uing electric power.

This seems to keep those who can, going for IC.
Myron Beaumont26/05/2007 22:12:00
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Doesn't anyone add a second "silencer" anymore ie a modified gas lighter refill (small one of course)a few bits of ali tubing ,a neat skim of epoxy on each join ,a length of silicon tubing and you've got a much quieter exhaust burble for very little power loss SO there 'lecky fans!I'm not really taking sides on this issue of course but I have to agree with IC users,& all the plus points they make all the time that I (unbiased naturally)must logically totally have sympathy with.
Peter Miller27/05/2007 08:20:00
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I am definately not one of the "them and us brigade"
I just like engines and will use engines until fulll size aircraft are electric powered.
Hey Nige, You state that your moter battery set up doesn't weigh any more than my .32 engines and tank etc.
Now tell me how much your set up will cost including enough batteries for an afternoon,s flying allowing for cooling between charges an the charger, balancer etc with a motor that will equal a good.32 (I won't ask about .40s or .60s) and how much the motor and speed controller would cost for each model. I have 10 ready to pick up and go flying.
FLY ELECTRIC27/05/2007 08:42:00
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Peter -
As previously stated the cost issue of batteries vs fuel will grumble on forever! All I would say is thet if you compare the parameters now with 5 years ago, the gap has closed beyond our belief at that time. Give it another 5 years and let's see where we are!
I would personally prefer for my flying to cost a little more knowing that my car won't stink of burnt castor oil and have a slimy boot, my models will stay immaculate for years and never suffer oil-soaking, my flying site will never suffer noise complaints, and I'm doing my bit for the environment.
During the steam train days there was a huge resistance to the advent of diesel locomotives but the far-sighted saw them as the power system of the future; now on my piece of Carlisle-settle railway line everyone comes out to see the rare sight of a steam train about four times a year!
Perhaps in 20 years time I'll dig out my one remaining glow-powered model and fly it - just for a touch of nostalgia.
Nige.

Phil Meredith27/05/2007 12:33:00
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firstly to timbo, it was not a mismatch that caused the esc to blow, or user error, it was a complete settup as supplied by align, but have read on other forums that a lot of people have had same problem with align esc's,, and as i was foolish enough to buy it of ebay direct from Ding Dong, there was about zero chance of a refund, Oh well we live and learn,,
but going back to the thread, electric is growing in popularity, because its clean, but i dont agree that it is always quieter, for fun fly and sports flying, electrics are ok ???? but seeing a nice spitfire or anything remotely scale flying about whining away makes me cringe,, its not just the look of the thing its the sound they make that adds to the realism, when they can make a brushless sound like a radial 5 cylinder and smoke, i will convert, until then i'll stick with the smelly, slimey, gooey stuff
phil
Peter Roberts27/05/2007 12:43:00
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To try to answer David's question. It is really interesting at our club and I noticed this on last Friday afternoon's meet that by coincidence 40% of the flight line pilots had brought an electric model with them. It caused the chief instructor's jaw to hit the floor. It is quite interesting to see what is doing it. The main reasons are
1. less noise - we have a noise sensitive site
2. We have a quiet electric only flight day - Sundays - which quite a few members prefer
3. Less mess than ic fuel
4. Duration of flights now possible and ability of batteries to handle larger models
5. Interest in EDF where members can't afford jets but like the idea
6. Existing radio gear can be used in leccy the same as ic except for bits like ESC (and that's regarded as battery)
7. Availability of internet means some import batteries, fans, motors etc from overseas dealers making them think it is a cheaper powertrain for the hobby.

Very few are about saving the planet and most realise that electric can often be more costly than ic - but they regard that as fairly even stevens as engines cost less but batteries more helps to balance things out.

Most people with electric do miss the engine sound (especially a nice 4 stroke) and currently most members with electric do still have both forms of power in use. I think we have one member who does electric only and is our club GURU on matters electrical.

It is interesting David to see it change. I also suspect that availability of foamies and similar with accompanying lower price might be having an impact for a few.

I want to have my cake and eat it. I like large 4 stroke ics but having made an initial investment in 2 sizes of batteries 4s1p 3700 and 3s1p 1800 seem to have a basis for a broad range of possible electric models.

My small stable of models is growing (good for UK hobby shops and trade shows where I spend far too much). Interestingly I certainly change my motors between models more in electric than I do with ic.

If I'm honest having electric and ic gives me the excuse to buy more and different models!
David Ashby - Moderator27/05/2007 14:09:00
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Yes agreed there Peter, my four 3S 2200mah packs seem to power a range of mdodels. At first I seemed to need to buy a few new packs with every model!
Dead-stick27/05/2007 16:03:00
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Noise sensitive site and electric EDF?
nasa_steve27/05/2007 17:33:00
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hi guys
my club is around 40% electric to 60% ic.i fly both but my ic models are petrol powered i now only have 2 glow powered models which have not been flown for at least 6 months. the rest of my modeling is electric and my electric range is increasing.
on the topic of the sound ic makes if you get chance get along to a show where Tony Nihuis is flying this year and listen to his electric Lancaster with its electronic sound card installed and listen to the sound of 4 merlin engines in full swing its awsome scale modelling reaches a new high me thinks!!
regards
nasa
Peter Miller28/05/2007 09:29:00
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Just a thought on another aspect. Nige says that everyone turns out to watch a steam train.
When diesel engines are as rare as steam is now, would as many tirn out to watch a diesel loco go past?
And this leads me to my main thought, model engine collecting is a big thing, even relatively modern engines becoming collectors items, Somehow I very much doubt is there will be many serious collectors of electric motors.

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