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RC Photo Plane Reconsidered - Electric BUHOR


 After thinking about this project for quite a
while, it finally came to mind, why not just
make the plane big enough that the camera weight
is no issue? Like, say, no more than 10% of the
plane's weight? That is, build a plane that
weighs at least 10x the camera weight. And
maybe make it crash-resistant and simple to fly?
[read more]

After a few months of reading every aerial
photography posting on every RC forum I could
find, one thing became glaringly apparent.
Namely, it'd probably be a waste of time and
energy to try to design my first plane from
scratch. Too much like reinventing the wheel.
Better to start with a proven design that is
known to be airworthy.

That got me looking around for what's on the
market in this niche. The best looking option
appeared to be the Hawkeye system sold by a kite
designer in Texas. [link] If you've got the
money -- $675 for an RTF version ($709 with
elevator option) at last check -- this could be a great way to
go.

As my budget didn't go that high, I considered
buying just their wing and building the rest. Not
a bad deal --- $150 for the wing (sail with
frame) only -- but still a bit beyond my
available funds. I'd also come to wonder about
how that cloth wing design would perform in
gusty wind conditions. Seemed to me that a
traditional airfoil wing might do better in the
wind.


At this point I had one of those mental
light-bulb insights, one that probably should
have been obvious from the beginning: I should
probably learn to fly first and think about
flying with a camera only after developing some
reasonable level of competence.


So it's time to think TRAINER. First thought
was to get a simple RTF powered glider, but the
aerial photo bug was still active in the back of
my mind, and none of the RTF powered gliders in
my price range (nemely, cheap ones!) would have the
weight-carrying capacity to add a camera once
I'd (eventually, after a few crashes?) mastered
basic flight control.

Next candidate! How about the old RC standby,
a .40 size trainer? These seemed to come in the
right weight range -- 5-6 lbs -- to make my
camera weight a pretty minor addition. Pursuing
hobby retailer web sites soon convinced me that
these planes aren't necessarily cheap nor all
that durable looking. I wanted something dirt
cheap to buy / build and crash-resistant enough
to protect the onboard electronics (and
eventually, to protect the onboard camera too).


After much more reading and ruminating on the
subject, these two requirements seemed to be
well answered by so-called SPADS -- Simple
Plastic Aircraft Designs built (mostly) of
coroplast (that corrugated plastic like they for
political lawn signs). And of the SPAD trainers
I reviewed, the simplest and most congruent
with my requirements (cheap & crash-resistant)
seemed to be one called BUHOR -- Big Ugly Hell
On Rails. http://spadtothebone.net/SPAD/Buhor

Next step -- building the .40 glow-powered BUHOR
as an electric BUHOR.

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