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Old 07-10-2019, 02:31 AM
blackshire's Avatar
blackshire blackshire is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
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Default LED night B/Gs & RGs?

Hello All,

An interesting new feature for boost-gliders and rocket gliders (either R/C [Radio-Controlled], or F/F [Free-Flight]) would be multi-colored LEDs set into the wings and/or fuselage and tail surfaces, with lighting pattern circuitry to make them flash in various sequences. Such a model rocket could easily be built (or modified to be that way), and it would be great if one or more of the manufacturers offered such kits (or lighting system "add-on" kits for their existing B/G and/or RG kits). Watching the short video of E-flite's "Night Radian" 2 meter RTF electric motorglider *here* (the video is about halfway down the "screen-page"), it inspired the following thought:

Imagine how, on a dark night (especially a Moonless one with a high overcast), such an LED-equipped boost-glider or rocket glider would look from a distance, rising into the sky on a line of brilliant light and then flashing or pulsating in strange patterns of multicolored light. In the darkness, no shape would be visible, and any observers might well suppose that the source of the lights might not be terrestrial... An R/C boost-glider or rocket glider could utilize radio control of the lighting system; so could an F/F one (a single-channel R/C system would suffice for that), or the lighting system could be pre-set before launch. And speaking of radio control, in connection with Free-Flight models:

RCAFF (R/C-Assisted Free-Flight) model airplanes were developed many years ago (Bob Eberle's modified Midwest Models "Sniffer" F/F plane may have been the first), and the concept would work just as well with F/F boost-gliders and rocket gliders (today's tiny micro-size receivers, servos, and airborne battery packs will fit in very small models). In the RCAFF set-up, the model is usually controlled only occasionally (to keep it from flying or gliding off the flying field, or into a patch of woods or other obstacles), although the model can be piloted continuously if desired. Such models are usually rudder-only, single-channel ones (just rudder control is sufficient). Most minimalist, starter models are two-channel ones (either rudder/elevator or ailerons/elevator), and in an LED-equipped RCAFF B/G or RG, the second channel could be used to operate the LED lighting system.
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:07 AM
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georgegassaway georgegassaway is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2008
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I did an R/C R/G for the night launch at NARAM-51 (10 years ago). It used a number of super-bright individual LED's. Some were "flashlight beam" types, shining horizontally onto the top of the wing panels, and also on the wingtips and nose pointed forward to light up the ground ahead of it during landing. I didn't know much about "Strip" LED's before (they certainly would use up a lot more battery current than the LED's I did use). A lot of info and pics beginning here:

Before liftoff:

Almost all of the illumination is by the model's LED's

Video of the last minute of glide, by Chris Taylor:

If I did it again, I'd use strip LED's along the fuselage sides and in a few strategic places. But not across the wingspan due to the disruption of the airflow over the wing, not only would performance be hurt really badly but the handling and trim would suck terribly.

I'd use the same kind of super-bright LED's as before for the rest of it. To do LED strips inside the wing would either require building in or cutting out a shallow channel for the strips, then covering them over with something transparent. Or building an open-bay balsa wing covered by something like Monokote, which I'm not keen to do again (much less for rocket boosted gliders). My last open-bay balsa wing was a sailplane (my own design) over 25 years ago.

BTW - I used two batteries onboard. One for most of the lighting. The other for the receiver and just enough secondary lighting to try to fly it back if the primary lighting went out. I figured the primary battery would go dead before the receiver and secondary lighting battery went dead. Never had that happen. I would also repeat that double battery strategy if I did it again.

Unfortunately the model was destroyed a few years later, used a Quest D5 which took off too slow. It pitched down and crashed before getting enough airspeed to be controllable. Normally used a reloadable D7 or E6.
Contest flying, Sport flying, it's all good.....
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Last edited by georgegassaway : 07-12-2019 at 12:43 AM.
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Old 07-12-2019, 04:05 PM
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ghrocketman ghrocketman is offline
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Michigan
Posts: 9,148

Rudder-control-only even on the simplest of models just plain sucks even if only for trim the elevator gives.
When in doubt, WHACK the GAS and NEVER touch the brake !!!
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If you are NOT FLYING LOW in the left lane, you need to GET THE #$&@ OUT of it !

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, if you have to ask, you probably aren't
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Old 07-12-2019, 07:24 PM
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georgegassaway georgegassaway is offline
Contest, Sport, it's all good......
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Homewood, AL
Posts: 402

My first R/C gliders, and first R/C Boost Gliders were rudder-only. Having a 2nd channel for elevator too is ideal, but I'd never say rudder only "sucks".

Some of my early models models used Ace's Pulse Commander single channel R/C gear, with a magnetic actuator. "wacka-wacka".

Video of the system in action:

Pic found on the internet:

In the 1990's, I did a twin boosted glider project where both gliders had rudder only steering (using one servo). People with no R/C flying experience, but with R/C car "driving" experience, were able to steer them pretty well (One of the hardest things to get used to with R/C is the apparent "coming towards you" reversal of control. R/C car experience solves that issue).

I have an extra Guillows' foam shuttle orbiter, which makes for a nice piggybacked B/G on suitable rockets. Sometime I may finally get around to adding rudder-only R/C to it if I can spare the ultra-light R/C gear to do it with.
Contest flying, Sport flying, it's all good.....
NAR# 18723
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