A few months ago, Jez Newsome introduced
me to the world of indoor RC flying. To be honest, itís not something
Iíd really shown much interest in before as part of the appeal of RC
flying is being out in the fresh air and also having to cope with
different weather conditions. However, curiosity got the better of me
and I went along one Monday night in September 2010. The BAE SYSTEMS
Model Aircraft Club, of which Iím still a member, rents the sports hall
in the Lightning Club at Warton every fortnight for a couple of hours
and have quite a flourishing indoor scene.
Having stuck my toe in the water so to speak (thanks to Harold for
letting me fly his machine on that first visit), I can now see the
appeal, especially during the dark winter months. There are no weather
limitations, itís at a sociable time (7-9pm) and you are guaranteed
flying. You do however require specialized gear as a sports hall is no
place for anything of any size and weight.
There are several options available, from
micro helis, through scale aerobats to so-called Ďshock flyersí or Ďshockiesí.
All are either of foam or depron construction and obviously electric. If
you use Spektrum or JR 2.4GHz radio equipment, you have a big advantage
as most of the Ďbind-and-flyí models use micro DSM2 receivers.
Unfortunately, Iím a dyed in the wool Futaba man, which limited my
options. Having surfed the net, I settled upon a Kyosho Minium Edge 540
foamie, which comes complete with its own 2.4GHz transmitter and LiPo
charger. It cost £80 from Steve Webb Models and is a 3 channel (elevator
/ aileron / throttle) mid-wing semi-scale aerobat.
The flying arrangements at the Lightning Club are friendly and informal,
if youíve got something to fly, get stuck in! You have to maintain good
situational awareness as you are flying in a confined space with several
other models. That said, you do have to be philosophical about mid-air
collisions as its part of the indoor game. Fortunately, the speeds and
energy levels are low and so thereís usually only the odd scuff and
nothing serious to repair. A blob of cyano and off you go again.
When I used to play 5-a-side football, the Lightning Club hall seemed
pretty big, requiring a bit of effort to get from one end to the other,
however, for flying models like my Edge 540 itís suddenly not that big
at all. The walls and rafters donít take prisoners. In fact, it reminded
me of sailing my model boats around Fairhaven, where you have to operate
in a confined space and anticipate the turn radius to avoid the sides,
especially with the fast stuff.
I think the Kyosho Minium range of models
provides a good starting point for indoor flying if you donít already
own a DSM2 tranny, as once you have the transmitter, you can buy other
Minium models to bind to it. In addition to the Edge 540, they do a very
nice Christen Eagle amongst others. The Edge does fly very well and will
loop and roll. ROG take-offs work but prop hanging is a bit difficult
without rudder control. Itís also pretty robust having collided with the
walls, floor and other models on a number of occasions. In short I like
it a lot but it is fairly fast for the space available. The other models
in the Minium range are slower and so would probably be a bit more
relaxing. Top tip though Ė buy more flight batteries as the single unit
supplied takes 20 mins to re-charge and that seems an eternity.
Unfortunately, Kyosho have engineered their models such that only a bone
fide Minium battery will fit the aircraft connector. However, the good
news is that a Minium battery will fit any of the Parkzone or Eflite
products, so itís still a sound investment. The regular flyers have
boxes full of the little Li-Po flight packs so they minimize their down
Jez and a couple of the other flyers have Eflite Ď4 Siteí biplane shock
flyers, which are incredibly manoeuvrable and make full use of the space
available. They will knife-edge forever, in fact itís easier to fly
knife-edge than conventional flight. Prop hanging is also a piece of
cake. Due to the extreme nature of these models, you really need a
computer tranny to be able to use mixers and exponential, which means
Spektrum or JR. My Minium Tx would not be suitable as itís just a basic
Moving on to helicopters, the model of
choice at the LC is the Eflite Blade MSR, which is a beautiful little
piece of micro engineering. Itís a proper heli, with a single main
rotor, Hiller-Bell head and an electric tail rotor. It also has a
heading gyro, making it very stable in the hover. It does not have
collective control but itís still great fun to fly, even for a
non-helicopter aficionado like me. The package comes complete with its
own basic DSM2 transmitter and a Li-Po charger.
I managed to get one on Ebay for under £65 but if you want to buy from
new, the set is about £110. Of course, if you already have a DSM2
transmitter, you can just by the heli, saving a few pennies.
Finally, some of the guys fly what Iíd
call Ďfloatersí, which are minimalistic high wing rudder and elevator
jobs, such as the Park Zone Ember 2 or Night Vapour. These have
incredibly light wing loadings and so they just float around the hall
with small corrections from the pilot Ė very relaxing. Again, you can
buy them as Ďbind and flyí where you supply the Tx or as a complete set.
Iíve given you an insight into another branch of our hobby. I have to
admit I was skeptical at first but I now have the bug and once a
fortnight, Iíll be heading down to the LC for a fix. Indoor flying will
never replace the outdoor experience for me but it is a rewarding and
fun way to keep your flying skills up to scratch during the winter
evenings or when the weather is poor. Itís far more fun than a simulator
and having to manoeuvre accurately in a confined space can only hone
your overall model flying skills. Itís also relatively inexpensive; I
got into the game for less than £100 and each session costs between £4
and £5, depending on how many people turn up.
As usual, the Gilly Tube film unit has been out and about, so if you
want to see some indoor action of all the models Iíve described above,
check out the following link:
(More Video Links below)
If like me, youíre a member of the BAES MAC, you already carry the
necessary 3rd party insurance. You also need to be a member of the
Warton Sports and Social Association and hold a playing permit to use
the Lightning Club facilities, which most BAES employees are/do.
So, if all of the above applies to you and you want to give it a go, get
in touch with Paul Whittle by email: "firstname.lastname@example.org"
Alternatively, why not just put your head around the door and see what
itís all about.
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