Stratos SLe
with Toyota hybrid Prius

eSpiro with vidcam xmtr

Just got this 3m sweetie in the air today 2/4/2001. Prius in January. Currently tested on 10 cells, Kontronic 500-52 system with 15x8 prop (prop size will change). Hitec 85mg+ servos in the wing, 81mg's in the tail. 1600mah Nimhs for the rcvr battery, with a Hitec slimline 8 ch rcvr. Flies NICE and slow in float mode. I set up the flaps to do aileron as well, to pick up the roll rate. Still need adjusting. Flaps drop to just shy of 90 degrees - I didn't fully deploy them on the first landing. Not very visible is the pylon wing and V-tail mount. Makes a very nice heft in the hand. Launches very easily at this weight. CG ended up right at the LE of the main wing spar - which seems pretty good! I had too much up elevator at launch - for such a big bird it really wanted to climb! Once I trimmed and a check after landing it seemed the V-tails where even with the fixed surfaces - to me that is generally a good sign. The canopy is a very cool looking carbon piece that slips over the hatch space with a spring wire - very slick.

A little bit closer up.

Here is the latest incarnation - a Sony DSC-F505V digital camera, with 5X optical zoom, 64Mb memory, the 900Mhz video xmtr w/ sound, strapped to the wing of the Stratos. First flights were with the above 10 cell combo at the Albany marine park. Banos flight with 18 cells of 2400mah, Maxcim D wind motor with 3.7:1 planeta gearbox, and a 12x8 prop (the flight was never flown over 1/2 throttle). Zoom wasn't functioning on the Albany flight, but operational on the Banos flight. Zoom is on the rudder, shutter on landing gear.
Total weight above is 9lb,12oz (156oz). Surprisingly, the camera has virtually no affect on the turn - I didn't need to change the turn trim at all. Even though the CG didn't move with the added batteries, it seems to act more nose heavy - I had to add more up trim for level flight. CG is at something like 75 mm - Dieter recommends 100mm, so it's way nose heavy.
  You may be wondering what took this picture - well, it's a Nikon 990 Coolpix digital camera - actually a much nicer camera for several reasons - but the Sony has the 5X optical zoom, vs the Nikon 3X. The Nikon has a viewfinder in addition to the LCD screen. In bright sun, it's just about impossible to frame shots on the Sony with the LCD screen - it's too washed out . So this is a perfect application for the Sony - I frame the shots by televideo thru the VR glasses!

Close up of the camera, with shutter servo and zoom servo.

When a runway or pavement is available, I'm now using this dolly made out of PVC pipe, and the remnants of a gas plane's tricycle gear. This version of the plane has the high power xmtr linear amp on the right wing - 10W - 12V@2A, plus a 1600mah Nimh battery to drive the xmtr and linear (for abt 45m). The linear is the blob with the big heat sink (it doesn't get very hot). Should be good for up to 5 mi range or so with the 8 element Yagi.

Front view of dolly. I glued the side structures of PVC together, but left the horizontal tubes with the "take-off" gear and wheels seperate.That way the dolly breaks down into 4 pieces that lie flat. This also adds a bonus feature in that you can rotate the tail wheel tube to adjust the angle of attack of the wing. I considered making the tailwheel steerable, but decided to try it without it. To keep the plane on the dolly, we added a folded roll of strapping tape (a tube of tape inside out), and pushed down over the bars that the wing sits on (NOT touching the flaps of course). Just enough stickiness to keep the plane on the dolly, but the dolly is heavy enough to drop away once up to speed.
The maiden flight was flawless. I was able to correct for drift with ailerons (I don't have rudder available - it's being used for the zoom), and the plane lifted off smoothly in about 100'.

In the following pix, select the pix to see the high res (2240x1680) version.

Albany marine park 2/16/01. First test flight of the camera. Got there, unloaded, discovered that I had wired the V tail such that the servos cudn't be just Y harnessed together, so cudn't fly the zoom function (rudder and elevator were on the V tail servos). Then discovered I had forgotten the camera battery. 30 minutes later and a trip into Berkeley got a partially charged (new) battery, enuf to do one flight.
Murphy and Fred were out flying there powered beauties (their planes are visible upper right center), so Dan did the launch honors. Ooops, didn't mount the camera tight enuf on the wing. Plane flies beautifully (without camera) - camera lands unceremoniously, but fortunately undamaged!
 Some CA and LOTS of tape later, and we're ready to fly again. Fred launches this time - success!!

The park peninsula is surrounded by water, and to the east is 880 freeway. Note the channel cut by the freshwater. I have forded this channel in pursuit of the Blade Ray - it's not very deep but you REALLY sink like crazy in the mud. That story ranks right up there with the retrieve of my first Zagi in the Bay - yes, the water is VERY cold.

Here's Banos BASH 2/18/01 - only 5 of us (my car is not in this pix). Not much wind, so BASHing meant trying to fly thru the nearest HV power pole. Score: HV pole - about 35, Zagi's - 0. Oh, and it fried a servo in my Panther, when I decided to slide along one of the power lines. ZZZAAAPPP..

Charlie's holding the yellow Zagi - the Panther and Diablotin are on the ground. This shot is from a lot higher than it looks.

This is the parking lot across the reservoir. Love the ripples on the water.

Juuustt missed the gang. This is about 3X zoom, almost max - the video goes to max zoom shortly after this. Compare this with the first shot - they were taken at about the same altitude.

Los Banos BASH 2/18/01 - video from flight - 33Mbyte 3:35 - 320x240

Here's an edited video of the flight, downlink video from the camera. Video quality is not as good as a straight camera, but not bad at this res.

Berkeley Marina - 2/20/2001

View towards Berkeley.

More towards Emeryville

The repair lot at the Marina.

Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz just to the left of it, and Angel Island (big island) to the right. The Berkeley pier extends out on the left.

Albany waterpark peninsula. There are many wonderful and mysterious art works spread around this hidden treasure of the East Bay.

View just east of the above view. The concrete structure is a small ampitheatre.

Golden Gate Fields racetrack - view towards the South.

Golden Gate Fields racetrack - view towards the East.

Virtual Death at 150mph.
Hold on to your seats. This is it. The most horrific crash of all time.  Crank up the sound. Be sitting down. Try not to wince.

The video to end all crash videos. 24Mbytes 2:37 from launch to impact.

Mission Ridge - Stratos on Li-ion cells! Launch is right hand side - you can see vehicles and gliders parked. You can see the gliders in the air in the hi-res pix.

I loaded up the Stratos with 64 Li-ion 1.85Ah cells, configured as a total of 8x8, made up in 4 packs - 2 4x4 packs in the fuse (hinged in the middle for easy insertion) and 2 8x2 packs taped to the side of the fuse. Total of 14.8Ah at 33V!
Thanks to Greg K at - superb job! $710 including assembly and ship.
Motor is a Maxcim Y wind, currently with 3.7:1 gearbox and a 13x7 prop.
These are underrated cells, too - Greg said 3A max, I'm getting better than 4A per cell! Full throttle test yesterday on a partially charge pack (30V), gave >9000 rpm or >100oz thrust. Plane weight with digital camera, xmtr and whole nine yards is abt 202 oz - 12.6 lb - not too bad - of this batteries are 6.2 lbs.
Motocalc says I should get a staggering 26 minutes of full throttle (100 oz+) - 34A, and 54 minutes of half throttle at 64oz thrust! Full should yield 670 ft/min, half something like 310. However, full throttle of 4A is likely only to yield 80% of full capacity.
 I dumped the batteries to abt 22V yesterday, running the motor for 15 minutes at 1/2 throttle. The Orbit charger had trouble starting the charging when the pack had more than 24V in it. Total charge it took was an awesome 15Ah - this took 6 hours, altho most of it was done (like 80%) in the first 3hrs - also this was only 3A charge rate. Greg says I cud charge these at 14A, and get 80% in the first hour! IF I had such as charger.

On to flying!!

I started out hoping to go out to Antioch, but the wind was SW - and noone was there! So I also noticed it was looking mighty fine for hang gliding down at Mission, so I went home, loaded up the glider on the Prius, and headed S. I got there just in time to miss a ride, so I figured I'd fly the beastie while waiting. There was a nice moderate breeze of 5-10 from the WNW, so I walked out to the windsock, set up, took a deep breath, and gave a good run, hit the throttle and a decent heave - it flew off like it was on rails.


The camera tilt angle is a bit more steep on these shots, as I anticipated a fairly steep climb out, and I planned to try to switch to full VR mode if I got it high enough. At one point early on at about 1300 AGL and out about the same, it got so small I lost sight of it, and when I looked in the video I said - gee, it's flying awefully smooth - yeh a little TOO smooth. I'd left the shutter switch on, and in that mode the camera image stays locked in the last frame shot. Yikes! I switched it off, everything returned to normal, I was able to figure out where it was, turn it back towards me ( it was heading up towards the hang gliding launch). I got a couple nice pictures of launch and a number of gliders in the air, then the cell phone rang. I had a ride to the top! Time to get down quick. Landing was a piece of cake - with the flaps on -even so heavy - it lands nice and smooth and slow.
I couldn't have used more than a few minutes of full throttle. Wow! 4 straight flight days of no broken planes! I'm on a roll....

BTW - I had a very fine hang gliding flight as well - got abt 1000' over launch - broken thermals, tho - mostly ridge lift. Note to self - don't get low behind ridge - VERY nasty down.

This is a little to the west of the LZ looking west. The NUMI plant is top center. Start making hybrids, dude!

Over LZ looking north. Ohlone College top right.

The video - 3:18 30Mbytes - edited down quite a bit from an 8m flight - no sound