Tower Hobbies first order: Piece O' Cake!

Today I received my first order from Tower Hobbies, and it is a Dynaflite Piece O' Cake glow powered sailplane. This will be my first radio controlled model
plane, although I have built one die-cut free flight glow powered sailplane already. The day after I placed my order for the Piece O' Cake, I noticed that the price had been reduced to a couple of dollars less than what I had sent. Because of this, I was curious to know how Tower would handle the situation. Well, first of all, I was given the plane at the new reduced price, and then I was given a two dollar credit for a future purchase. In addition to this, I was sent what the invoice refers to as a "new customer package", which includes a 288 page color catalog. In the back of the catalog, I notice it says "at your request, we will issue a refund check for any outstanding credit". Well, I am very happy that I was sent the package as quickly as I was, so I have decided to let that two dollars ride, because I certainly will be placing additional orders with Tower in the future. More specifically, It was just eight days ago that I mailed the check, by traditional mail, not email, requesting the kit, and I included the standard eight dollar shipping and handling fee. Well, the package was Sent by Federal Express! I suspect that since I am a new customer, Tower was only trying to impress me. Well, all I have to say about that is _it worked_!
Before I mailed the letter, I read every newsgroup posting which has ever been made about the Piece O' Cake several times over, so I like to think that I am launching into this project with my eyes wide open. For example, I know that there other similar kits on the market which are laser cut, and I know that the first flight attempts with the Piece O' Cake should be reserved for calm days when the wind is five miles per hour or less. I also purchased a couple of books at my local hobby shop. They were "Radio Control Sailplanes", by Alan Gornick, and "2-Stroke Glow Engines for R/C Aircraft", by David Gierke. These books have information that I think I would not be able to do without, such as information on ballasting and break in.
There is one thing which has me curious, though. According to the instruction manual which comes with the plane, the Piece O' Cake landing gear is "not intended for taking off (from) the ground". The plane is designed to be hand launched. Can anyone here give me some insight into this situation? I understand about hand launching, but if I tried to take off from the ground, would I be asking for trouble? By the way, I am very impressed by this kit so far. The rolled three-foot by four-foot plans lay down accurately, without a crease, and the seven-inch by eight-and-one-half inch forty-four page instruction manual appears to be very detailed. The good wood is well cut, and includes balsa, bass, and ply wood.
Michael
Michael Mandaville Austin, Texas We have our own independant power grid!
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Hi Michael,
Welcome to the obsession. I ordered my first plane from Tower in 1999, a Kadet Senior. I don't have any experience with the Piece O Cake, but according to one of my flying buddies, sailplanes are a great way to learn as that's how he learned some 20 years ago with a Sig Riser. My personal favorite is a Soarstar, sold by Horizon. It comes with almost everything, it's electric, it will fly for 45 minutes or more on a NiMH pack, and it will thermal forever. Well... I've drifted as usual.
The best piece of advice (which will no doubt be repeated) is to find an R/C club and ask someone for flying assistance after you've built your plane. I had help from guys in our local club and still managed to destroy a couple of planes. The members of the club can offer building advice as well. Most clubs are very helpful.
Another big help in learning the coordination necessary to handle the transmitter controls is Real Flight flight simulator. I would recommend Real Flight G2 as it has an option called "look at ground" that really gives you the perception needed to practice landing, which is the hardest part of R/C.
I'm sure you'll be happy with Tower. They're not perfect, and some guys complain about them at times, but they're a good company. I've had a few problems with them, or rather their choice of freight companies, but Tower has always corrected any problem - every single time...
Good luck.
Randy Baker
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (MichaelMandavil) wrote in message

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As plenty of folks will tell you, your best bet is to get into a club or at least let an experienced RC flyer help you. A simulator is a very good investment in getting started. If RealFlight, the best one out there, is too pricey for you, you can download FMS for free. Doo a Google search for FMS simulator and you'll find the site. You'll have to get or make yourself an interface cable for it, though, and the planes don't exactly fly like the actual models. There are also other commercially-available sims that are not as expensive, or as good, as RealFlight, but you can learn on them.
I agree the POC should be hand launched. It's a hard plane to handle on the ground, and the little .049 probably doesn't have the oomph for good ROG (rise off ground) takeoffs. Most entry-level powered sailplanes have engines/motors have just enough power for slow, gentle climbs. The landing gear is on there mostly to keep the prop from hitting the ground when it lands.
-- Morris Lee snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net

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Michael,
Welcome to the hobby. I agree with the previous post about finding a club, instructor, and using the flight simulator for a few hours before you fly the actual model. The good RC flight sims do help with establishing the specific eye-hand coordination for RC. The issue of right-left control movement when the model is coming toward you is often the first stumbling block a student needs to climb over. If you have experience with RC cars or boats you have already seen that.
The Piece O'Cake is a neat airplane. Those long double dihedral wings must be built without ANY twist, so I hope you have a very flat building board. Read the section of the instructions where they talk about getting the wings and tail feathers true to each other and the fuselage and the CG position. It is also a really good idea to make sure the aircraft balances right-to-left so that it doesn't want to fly with one wing low.
Also, follow the instructions for the "test glides" to make sure everything is correct and the trims are set. I hope the instructions still ask you to do that. If they have changed the instructions, send me a direct email and I will list the procedure for you.
Does your radio have dual "rates"? If it does, set up the low rate for the reccomended elevator and rudder throws and the high rate for as much throw as the airdraft's control surface assemblies will permit. Start your flying at low rate. Once you are comfortable with the aircraft, you will find situations when having the extra control throw is nice to have.
The advice about not flying in much wind is good when you first learn on this airplane. Later, you will find that flying in some breeze is fun if you have the space to land directly into the wind.
The "landing gear" on the aircraft is more-or-less just just landing skids with wheels. They do not handle the side-loads of a powered take-off at all well. Adding "beefier" landing gear adds too much weight and drag.
Hand-launching by your self is not that difficult if you have the trims set properly. That is one reason you want to do the glide tests. When you do the first powered flight - if you have the aircraft built "true", the trims are set correctly, and you launch directly into what ever breeze there might be, the aircraft will fly straight out of your hand at a >slight< climb angle and will be stable until you can take control with the TX that you have been holding in your other hand.
This brings up the transmitter stick arrangement. If you have a "standard" U.S. market transmitter, connect the rudder servo in the aircraft to channel #1 (aileron) of the receiver and the elevator channel to the regular elevator channel. This makes your pitch and yaw controls to be both be on the right stick for learning. Also, this set-up helps you transition to an aircraft equipped with ailerons. With the Piece O'Cake, the turns are accomplished through the roll coupling you get with the use of rudder on this double dihedral wing.
There are only three building modification that I would suggest.
Buy some Dave Brown 1/4" wide carbon fiber tape and glue it across the joint between the left and right elevator halves before you put on the covering.
If you want a real strong wing, buy another 72" length of the CF and glue it to the bottom of the main wing spar up to the outer panel dihedral break. Glue a short piece to the front and back of the spar across the joint at the dihedral break at each tip panel.
And, you will find that there are places at the outer wing tip dihedral break and the wing tips where they get scuffed up when the aircraft tilts over during landings. I just use a thin bead of silicone caulk at these areas to take the abuse rather than just the surface of the covering.
You didn't mention if you had bought the "bundle" with the .049 engine. The .049 will fly it well in low wind conditions. However, you may find that you will later want to build one with a higher performance engine. I had one flying with the Norvel .061 that I really liked when there was stiffer breeze. I used a after-market engine mount and intended to use this engine from the start so I could make the fueslage modifications to accomodate a small, cylindrical fuel tank and a micro throttle servo. The biggest advantage of this set-up was the ability to use power to climb, throttle back to idle and glide - or catch a thermal - and then power back up to climb again. I also have a Goldburg "Gentle Lady" with a very old OS .15 on the nose that flys very much like the Piece o'cake, but with a lot more power in the climb.
This is a great hobby. There is one piece of advice I can add about the selection of aircraft. "If you can't afford to crash it - you can't afford to fly it." I say this only because almost everyone ends up putting one in the "circular hangar" (trash can) every now and then. I learned early on that it is better to say, "Oh neat, that is cool! Look at all the pieces and the size of the hole I made in the ground." rather than, "%#*^$&!^!" I guess that is why, even though I like to fly "1.20 size aircraft", I even now try to limit my total cash investment in any one aircraft, engine, servos, and receiver to a level that I can afford to replace without any financial pain or comments from my "significant other".
Have lots of fun..
J

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<wrote>
Hello again, fellows...
..and thanks for the warm welcome. Although I identified myself as being from Austin, Texas, I actually live outside of the Austin city limits, and I am a long way from the nearest club, which is one of the reasons why I chose the Piece O' Cake to be my first radio control plane. I just spent several hundred dollars on a metal working lathe, though, so that should give you an indication of just how serious I am about this hobby. I'm still just a beginner, of course, but I just mean to show that I have identified this hobby as being one which is worthy of my thoroughgoing attention.
Jay, you have mentioned the subject of building boards, and since this seems to be the next item on my agenda, I have already given this matter a considerable amount of thought. After reading a large number of newsgroup postings about this, I have decided to build a steel top building table which will be in the general form of a drafting table. Of course, this means that I will be using magnets to hold down my wood. As soon as the television program which I am now watching is over, I will be driving down to get the wood.
I don't yet have an engine, though I am planning on purchasing the Norvel .049. I already have a tool stand which should make a good foundation for a break-in stand. I'm sure you must already know that this engine has a throttled carburetor. Although I plan on getting started with two channels, I probably will eventually add a third channel to the Piece O' Cake. That way, I should be able to climb to altitude, search for a thermal, and then hope that my airplane doesn't get lost! Well, maybe I'll get micro servos, and add some spoilers :-)
I don't yet have a radio, although I will probably just get one with two channels for this year, since I already spent so much money on the lathe that I want to watch my spending as closely as I can for awhile. Also, my mowing season will be over in a couple of months, and then I will have no income until the beginning of next season. I have already made a lot of progress this year, though, so anything else which I might be able to accomplish could almost be thought of as a bonus. I expect to be making my own engines before long!
Well, I want to get started designing my building table, so I guess I will just leave it at this for now. Again, thanks for the welcome, and I really am looking forward to participating in this fascinating hobby. This is also certainly one of the best newsgroups on the internet.
Cheers!
Michael
Michael Mandaville just west of Austin, Texas
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I don't yet have a radio, although I will probably just get one with two

that I

Bad move getting a two channel. You will have something that will be useless after this model. Plus the fact that you will be wasting money buying batteries, instead of charging battery packs. Get a 4 channel with a buddy chord attatchment built in. Tower makes a real cheap setup.
--
Jim in NC--



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| ..and thanks for the warm welcome. Although I identified myself as | being from Austin, Texas, I actually live outside of the Austin city | limits, and I am a long way from the nearest club
There's two clubs in Austin -- HCAM and ARCA. I doubt any is really *too* far. But of course, they'll require that you at least be an AMA member to fly at either field, and that's $58/year or so. And then they'll want you to join the club, another $50/year ...
HCAM doesn't do much in the way of gliders, however. Dunno about ARCA ...
Most of the glider fliers fly at Zilker park or at one of the local slopes. I don't know of any laws that prohibit IC engines at Zilker park, but I've never seen one in use there so even if there isn't such a law, it might not be a good idea. I assume you've got a good place to fly near your house?
| I just spent several hundred dollars on a metal working lathe, | though, so that should give you an indication of just how serious I | am about this hobby.
Hmm, not really sure what you need it for, but ... :)
| I don't yet have an engine, though I am planning on purchasing the | Norvel .049.
Seems awfully small. But then again, I have a Dynaflite Butterfly, and it's got an 0.20 -- plenty of power. It's a bigger plane, however.
| I already have a tool stand which should make a good foundation for | a break-in stand. I'm sure you must already know that this engine | has a throttled carburetor. Although I plan on getting started with | two channels, I probably will eventually add a third channel to the | Piece O' Cake.
I'd suggest doing that right off the bat. It won't cost much more.
| I don't yet have a radio, although I will probably just get one with | two channels for this year, since I already spent so much money on | the lathe that I want to watch my spending as closely as I can for | awhile.
Bad plan. Get a 4 channel radio, at least. You don't want something that you'll outgrow in a few weeks.
I'm in Austin. I'll sell you used 4 channel transmitter, receiver and three or four standard servos for $40 or so. (Email me if you're interested.) I'm not much of a builder, but if you like I may be able to help you check your plane before you fly it the first time, and can give some pointers on your first flight.
| I expect to be making my own engines before long!
Ahh, that's what the lathe is for. Most people don't have one :)
--
Doug McLaren, snipped-for-privacy@frenzy.com Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition !

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I have seen the larger Butterfly rise off ground quite well with a .25 engine . Pretty tough bird. I would have gone for the Butterfly. Get a good radio if you can afford it. Think ahead if you are hooked by the hobby.
MichaelMandavil wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@frenzy.com (Doug McLaren) wrote:

Just a quick note here I have a Futaba Attack 4 AM72 radio I could sell cheap. Unit is on Channel 42 (72.630) and works fine.
The unit is an FPT4NBL 4 channel and the Receiver is an FPR7H 7 channel.
Comes with TX and RX crystals for channel 42 and a good TX battery.
I'll sell it for $48 shipped
Mark
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