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FireFly

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We turned this rubber powered free flight into a 4ch RC Plane. Lyonaeec free flight planes are high quality pre cut kits which are perfect for conversion into RC planes with a bit of work.

Specs
Dtrx35 Receiver: DTrx35     Flying Weight: 29 g
        Airframe Weight: 14.7g
AP-03 Motor: AP-03     Wingspan: 31cm
GWS 3020 Propeller: GWS 3020     Length: 29cm
FullRiver 130Mah lipo Battery: 100Mah     Bracing: 0.5mm carbon
  Airframe: Lyonaeec V Series - Homepage     Undercarriage: Original
       

Kit price : $8

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Seen here ready to go, the firefly is set up with rubber installed. Construction of the plane as a free flight model is quite straight forward and easy to do. All the parts clip together and there is no need for gluing.
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The body section is actually split in two to allow the rubber band to pass through the middle. These large plastic braces front and back supply strength – and of course extra weight.

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The prop which comes with it is well designed for a lot of chop at low revs but doesn’t cut it for what we want.
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Side View - Those wheels are super strong and ½ mm wire adds weight. But it looks so good with them on, so I’m leaving them there. Besides it may even take off from the ground.
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You can see that the plastic brace which fixes the wings in place underneath actually pushed them up and gives some dihedral.
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Nice shot from the rear shows the FireFly logo.
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This is a good shot to show the wingspan and area which to be honest isn’t much. You start loading this plane up with radio gear and batteries and you’ll end up with high wing loading – Oh well….
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Artistic shot
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Top View
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Okay so here’s where we start the mod. First, I have cut the shaft holding the prop in place and removed it. This housing is 4mm in diameter and will be perfect for mounting a brushless out runner or bored out to be a tight fit for a 6mm brushed motor.
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Okay so this is the motor / gearbox combo of choice. It’s a AEO- 6 with a 6mm brushed motor and the unit puts out about 16 grams of thrust. Just a note, I later replaced the motor with a brushless setup for more power. However you could power this plane with the AEO-6. To do so, you would need to lose the wheels and maybe go for 2 servos instead of 3.

Related Products
AEO-6 AEO-6 Gearbox with 6mm brushed motor

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The housing after being bored out with a drill. Best to do the drilling by turning it with your hands as not to rip it apart with a power drill. My drill bit was a little too thin so I finished off with a burring tool in my Dremel like kit.
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In the top on the housing I have burred out a gap to fit the end of the drive shaft.
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The motor mounted.
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I have used a little super glue to fix the motor in place.
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The tail plane is probably where the most work needs to be done. Of course this plane was never designed to have movable tail surfaces and the tail surface sits flush down on a piece of plastic which holds it in place. I’ve cut off the elevators and glued them to a piece of 1mm carbon rod. Then there is a V shape brace made from 0.35mm piano wire which is bound with cotton where it meets the carbon rod.

 

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Here you can see better the V shaped piece of piano wire.
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Here I have has to notch out a piece of the fin to allow the elevators to pivot up. The elevators are hinged by the top surface with Blenderm tape so as they pivot up the leading edge lifts. You can see how the notched piece allows the elevators to pivot up if you look at the picture 2 down.

 

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Also in the brace which holds the tail I have had to cut a space for the elevators to pivot. As I said before, this plane was not designed to have movable control surfaces.
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So above the carbon rod in this picture you can see the piece I have cut out of the fin and then to the right you can see the part I have burred out of the plastic tail brace.
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Another shot

 

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For this project I have chosen the orange 1.7 gram Hobby King - HK 5320 Servos. They are good performers and quite cheap. The advantage is also that for the aileron servo I don’t need a bell crank as I would with a linear servo. Additionally, these servos can be reversed which allows me to mount them where I want to.

Related Products
HK5320 Servo HK5320 Servo

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The servos are mounted directly to the fuselage with fine double sided servo mounting tape. This keeps the profile thin and gives good airflow.
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The fuselage is about 3mm thick and made from light Bulsa like wood which is actually a bit stronger than bulsa. But this 3mm gap is a perfect space to channel the servo wires through and keeps everything nice and tidy.
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A shot with the pushrods fitted. These are made from 0.35mm piano wire.
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Rudder
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Okay so here’s my preferred option for linkages. For most of my planes I gave up using linkages a long time ago and have found the old method to be the best. For those who have never seen this before you insert the end through the hole in the servo horn by twisting the pushrod 90 degrees.
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I always attach the Z bend to the control surface horn as this is fitted first and you can do it gently. Then the twisting and pushing into the hole is done at the servo horn end which is much stronger than the horn attached to the control surface.

 

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The elevator
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To get the servo down and in line with the ailerons you need to cut out a bit of the frame. Just make sure it’s a snug fit and glue it in with UHU Por glue so you can remove the servo later if needed.
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A little bit of 2mm Depron acts as an additional brace.
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The pushrods to the ailerons are once again made from 0.35mm piano wire.
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Showing the Allignment.
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For a receiver I have gone with a DelTang DTrx35 with JST ZH connector plugs. I also had to cut off the Molex connectors from the servos and rewire the JST ZH ones on. Also, note that the wire order is different so make sure you test the wires to make sure you have them correct. Also notice that the red and black wires with the white heat shrink on them supply power to the Rx unit directly into the plug which plugs into the throttle servo plug.

Related Products
DTrx35 DelTang TDRX35
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All wired up
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For bracing of the wings I have used a 1mm carbon rod which I have glued and tapes into the part where the wing turns down at the front. You really need this additional support as the plane will be twice the original weight when finished.
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Showing the ailerons marked and ready for cutting. On reflection these ailerons were too wide at 1cm. they should have been 5mm to 8mm wide.
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So here’s where I decided I needed more power and just to make sure I’ve decided to go with an AP-03 motor. Using some J B Weld I have attached a piece of 6mm aluminum tube to the mounting plate.

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AP-03 AP-03 Brushless Motor
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Mounted and with the 3 wires going from the brushless motor over the top to the ESC unit on the other side.
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Another view
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Here’s the ESC Unit. It’s a 5Amp bare unit and I have soldered wires and connectors directly to it. I maybe didn’t need a 5Amp ESC and could have used a 3Amp Esc instead to save on some weight.

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Another shot and this time we can see how the motor on that 6mm tube is held in place. There is one small screw in each side which goes through the housing and into the aluminum shaft inside.
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Finally done and readt for flight testing.
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I’ve chosen a GWS 3020 prop or at a stretch a GWC 3030 prop. But the 3020 is the best one. It allows the motor to rev out and also produces adequate thrust and good flight speed which is important for this heavy beast.

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GWS 3020 GWS 3020 Prop

GWS 3030 Prop GWS 3030 Prop

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Finished

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A short video showing operation of the motor and servos.

Set up on a thrust meter showing output of 28grams of thrust with a 160Mah battery. This thrust meter is a rather crude setup and has measurement losses in the system so actual thrust would be more like 35 grams.

Flight Video
(This video was taken with our 1080P HD Flight Camera mounted to the frame of a pair of sunglasses)

Short Flight Video (with landing)

Reflection:

Overall I’m quite impressed with how this build turned out. The FireFly was relatively easy to convert to an RC model and the wooden frame and solid plastic end pieces made for a good solid frame to attach everything to, even if it did add considerably to the weight. The Lyonaeec airframes use good strong foam for the wings and tail surfaces which can easily withstand the forces once converted to RC flight.


Weight: Once stripped of rubber and prop the airframe comes in at 14.7 grams. However, with the addition of RC gear, battery and AP-03 motor the all up flying weight increases to 28 grams making this a heavy little bird. In fact the wing loading on this plane is considerably higher than a pylon racer, so you do need to be careful not to overload the wings in turns and also keep it straight when turning with addition of rudder. So in conclusion, probably not a plane for an inexperienced pilot.

Speed: With this plane speed is your friend!. Drop the speed in flight too much and you can easily end up in a stall. Luckily the AP-03 brushless motor and GWS 3020 prop provide ample power. Landing also requires at least 1/3 throttle and ample speed.

Alterations: The only alterations I would recommend for this model is of course to reduce weight. The undercarriage could be removed and possibly instead of 4 channels, a 3 channel setup would further reduce weight allowing a standard 3A ESC and AP-02 motor which would further reduce weight. This would also allow for use of a 130mah battery instead of the 160mah battery I have used with this one.