VPS Torque Meter

A fellow Cloudbuster asked me to make him a torque meter for Indoor use.  He wanted a maximum of 2 inch-ounces and deflection in a single direction.  We discussed and we thought a dual-use meter might work best.  I plan on designing a mount for this so he can clamp it to a table and wind motors externally.  As it is now, he can put this between the winder and the motor, like the larger Wilder and Tyson outdoor torque meters.

This is just under 3″ overall length, made with an 0.015″ wire, 2.06″ (approximately) under torque, and it weighs less than 2.5 grams.  The dimensions were generated from Herb Kothe’s formula that can be found online.  I will soon have a spreadsheet available in the How-To area to help others calculate what dimensions to use, if they want to make their own.

I might be convinced to make these for others…

That is a KP 10:1 hand held winder for size reference.



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WANTED – Photos of Your Models!

I rarely get to see what becomes of the kits that I send out.  That’s a shame, because I’d really like to see your builds.  I will post them online and give you proper credit.

Today, fellow Cloudbuster, John Jackson did just that – he sent me 3 photos of his current build.  He is building a Peanut Chambermaid from our Laser-Cut Short Kit.  It’s looking great so far and he says it was a snap to build.  I look forward to seeing it fly this summer.

Here is the link to the Short Kit:  VPS Peanut Chambermaid

CMpeanut-JohnJackson01 CMpeanut-JohnJackson02 CMpeanut-JohnJackson03

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Testing the Chambermaid NoCal

I drove up to Potterville, MI today for a short indoor testing session on my Chambermaid NoCal.  It was very stable.  I had this outside in December, but under very limited testing.  With light breezes and very low winds, I couldn’t really test it beyond knowing it would fly reliably.

Today was really limited testing also, but with more power and no wind.  I flew one flight with the 7″x7P prop and didn’t care for the way it zoomed up to the ceiling, so I swapped the prop for a 7″x10P prop, gave it some minor thrust adjustments and got some very stable flights

I put in about 1250 turns on the ~24″ loop of 1/8 rubber and watched it cruise around very smoothly.  Here are a couple photos followed by a video.

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2015 NEW PRODUCT #5 – 1/2″ Balsa Gussets

The last product for today is a continuation of my “gusset series”.  These are the largest ones to date: 1/2″ on the short side, made from 1/16″ sheet.  These join the 1/4″ and 3/8″ gussets.  Once again, this was a recommendation from a customer.

Since these are quick and easy and sometimes there might be a scorch or two (or maybe a line not cut through), I almost always double up your order!  You can’t go wrong for $1.50 a sheet for any of the three sizes.

Coming next – I’ve got TWO kits out there being proto-typed by friends.  Once they have verified that everything goes together well (or point out errors?), I will get them packaged and announced and available.  Stay tuned!

12 gussets

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2015 NEW PRODUCT #4 – KP Dual Ratio Winder

Here’s a BIG new product.  I decided to start carrying this winder, just in case some of you might want one.  KP dual ratio winder – Per KP themselves: “…suitable for larger models. Sturdy construction, smooth running and featuring an innovative dual ratio gearing system that combines 10:1 & 4:1 ratios in one winder.”  Switch the handle from side to side to change ratio.

I’m offering this 3 ways:  the Winder, the Winder with Counter, and the Counter separately.

Check them out in the basement under – you guessed it – Winders!


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2015 NEW PRODUCT #3 – 2″ Balsa Wheel Kit

Similarly, a customer wanted laser-cut wheels for his Jimmie Allen Skokie.  This is a set of 6 discs, laser-cut from 1/8″ balsa.  Laminate 3 together for a 3/8″ thick wheel.  Enough for 2 wheels (that balsa sheet is 12″ long!)

$3 – Find them in the Basement, under VPS Laser Cut Stuff, and then Accessories.


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2015 NEW PRODUCT #2 – 1/32″ Balsa Embryo Wheels

January will see several new products – and  they are coming in a hurry!  We already saw teh Chambermaid NoCal Short Kit – here is Product #2

By request from a customer who primarily flies Indoor – “could you cut your Embryo Wheel kit from 1/32″ Balsa instead of 1/64″ ply?”  Well, surely.  By the way, these are 3/4″ in diameter.

Since these are a bit fragile, you will get “this many” for one price (see picture).  I still recommend cross-laminating them for strength, but they are way lighter than the ply wheels.

$3 for this – find them in the Basement under VPS Laser Cut Stuff.

More to follow!


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New Year – New Kit: Chambermaid NoCal

Between Work, Holidays, and Inventory, I’ve been able to finish up the details on the latest kit:  a Chambermaid NoCal SHORT KIT for outdoor flying.  This was based on Bernard Guest’s Dime Scale (one of our best-selling kits) but required drawing a new plan and new laser-cut parts.

For $10 you get a 13″x19″ plan and two laser-cut sheets of 1/16″ balsa; you supply the stick wood, the prop, hardware, and rubber. Winn Moore and I have built four of these.  Mine have weighed 16 and 14 grams; at least one of Winn’s weighs 9 grams.  My prototype flew OOS on its third official flight (over 6 minutes up and away) and won the NoCal event this fall.

With about 67 square inches of wing area, this produces less than 0.25 grams per square inch wing loading – wonderfully light for Outdoor Flying.  You might even think about putting a DT on this one!

Click CHAMBERMAID NoCal to go to the item in the Basement.

Here are some images:

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Flying into 2015!

Well, I’m starting off 2015 in just the right way – with some outdoor Free Flight!  This year wasn’t snowy like last year, and it was cold, but not frigid.  Unfortunately, it was pretty windy.  Given that, I decided to get out my “Shaft”, a durable OT Stick from 1944 with a wing span of about 13″.  I popped in a short loop of 1/8, gave it about 600 or so winds and headed out to the back yard with my son Jack acting as videographer.  As you can see in the video, the plane got up, flew well in the wind and didn’t get stuck in a tree.  I call that a success!

Here is hoping that all of you have an equally successful 2015, with great models and great flights.  Don’t forget to stop by whenever you need to replenish your Free Flight supplies.  See you on the flying field!

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As 2014 Winds Down…

Here we are on 20 December – only 11 days left in the year.  Where did it go?  I clearly remember eagerly waiting for outdoor flying season to start – it doesn’t seem so long ago.

I haven’t posted for awhile.  November was a busy business month with just under 90 orders received.  That kept me hopping, I tell ya!  It stalled my building, that’s for sure.  I had/have great plans for new ships over the winter, but I am already behind the curve on that schedule.  I’ve got to get back on track!

Also in November, my “local” club, the Cloudbusters wrap up the flying season, in a way.  They have a meeting where various club awards are awarded.  I diligently strive for the Top Gun award by recording and submitting all of my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd placings at contests throughout the year.  It seems I am always getting beat by a guy with the appropriate name of “Winn Moore” (yes, that’s his real name).

I cannot attend the regular Cloudbuster club meetings as I live about 2 hours from the meeting location and it would require a 4 hour round trip in a weekday evening just for an hour or two of meeting and socializing.  Well, I guess “can’t” is not the right word – I choose not to do that.

Club President, Mike Welshans, called me after that November meeting and congratulated me for winning the Bill Adams Memorial Trophy – for Service to Model Aviation.  I didn’t even know that I had been nominated!  At the annual Holiday Party that Mike hosts, he presented me with the trophy, which I am to keep for a year and return to the club so that it may be awarded next year.  My name has been engraved on the trophy, along with the names of all previous winners.  This club trophy goes back to 1965 – that’s 50 years.  I’ve been flying with the Cloudbusters since our move to Michigan in the mid ’90s (excluding that 10 year break I took) and I am humbled that they have seen fit to honor me and what I do – and they have preserved that recognition for as long as there will be the Cloudbusters Club (75 years so far!)

People might ask me (I have asked myself) “why do you run the business?”  Well, I struggle to find an answer for that.  I certainly don’t do it to collect trophies or other accolades – I always feel awkward when receiving such praise.  I don’t do it to make money, but the money does allow me to participate more actively in the hobby.  The only answer that seems to fit is that I do it because I enjoy it.  I don’t “enjoy” packing orders in the evenings or restocking supplies, or any of that – I enjoy the hobby.  Coming back after 10 years off, I realized that I truly missed building and flying.  I am not a very social person and I don’t do a lot of things outside of work and family.  I have tried some other interests and hobbies, but when I came back to Free Flight, I really, truly appreciated its place in my life, the activity it provides, and all of the camaraderie with all of my flying friends.  In this way, running this business is a way to “give back”, I guess.  It is something that I can do to show MY appreciation to the hobby.  I appreciate the trophy (thank you Cloudbusters), but I appreciate everyone involved even more.


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