Turquoise Energy Ltd. News #110
  covering March 2017 (posted April 1st 2017)
Victoria BC
by Craig Carmichael


www.TurquoiseEnergy.com = www.ElectricCaik.com = www.ElectricHubcap.com = www.ElectricWeel.com

Feature: Ground Effect "WIG" Craft: Fast, smooth marine transport: aircraft speeds just over the waves; 1/3 the fuel of an airplane. [see Month in Brief]

Month In Brief (Project Summaries)
- House Move Proceeding - Fastest Water Transport Technology: "Ground Effect" Low Flying Craft - Bixel WIG Craft (a better design!) - Bixel WIG Craft Project?... Just RC models?

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
- More on Arctic & Global Warming

- In Depth Project Reports (NONE this month) -

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems (no reports)
Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects (no reports)
Electricity Generation (no reports)
Electricity Storage - Turquoise Battery Project (NiMn, NiNi, O2-Ni), etc. (no reports)



March in Brief

House Move Proceeding


Early March: 8' of 20 filled, working on the middle 4' section.
The shelving unit on its back on the floor, covered by plywood, is the "fragiles" section.

   Preparations for the move to Haida Gwaii pick up speed and unrelated things are sidelined as time gets short and the dates for motion approach. By month's end the 20' shipping container was getting pretty full with more tools and materials still to go, and I was starting to think I'd be leaving a lot of furniture behind.


Later, 12' filled, working on the rest.
My new "Solexx" greenhouse material,
a flexible sort of coroplast that came in a roll,
is at the ceiling cut into 4' x 12' pieces.
(The radio is to keep rats away when the door
is open - I have some stored food in there!)

   I found a large utility trailer for a low price - an 8' x 10' tent trailer with the top chopped off. I can tow this behind the Dodge Caravan, stuffed with lightweight but bulky furniture. First it will make a test trip - a big load of decades of accumulated yard stuff to the dump.
   I'll be doing a lot of packing in April and finally leaving Victoria northbound. I'll be on the road at the end of the month and into May. No renewable energy or other projects besides those related the move can be considered until I'm moved in at Lawnhill starting after the 10th of May. Thus, for the first time since 2008, there will probably be no monthly Turquoise Energy News for April, and maybe not for May either.

Kelly Controller Repair: Virtually Impossible?


   Over several occasions in February (if not January) I tried to repair the Kelly 300 amp BLDC controller board. It was the one last project I wanted to do, and test it out in the Sprint, before my move. But it was the most frustrating board I've ever worked on, and in the end it proved almost impossible to the point I gave up. First it was all covered in silicone gunk that had to be painstakingly scraped away. Then the transistors were bolted to a clamp that was difficult to access and remove. Then each fried transistor not only came out in pieces, but very unwillingly. In fact, some of the through-hole plates pulled out with the pins, and three of the 'source' pins simply broke off in their hole in preference to coming out. Part of the trouble was that the board very effectively drew away the heat from the soldering iron, preventing getting a good melt along the pin. I gradually learned and turned the iron up finally to nearly 800°F. That's pretty hot for a delicate PCB! Some of the pads around the holes melted off.

   One of the broken off leads came out with enough solder sucking, and then pushing with a knife tip and melting at the same time. The other two simply wouldn't, and I finally had to retrieve my dremmel tool from the shipping container and drill new holes through or beside them.
   Then I discovered the almost microscopic gate resistor to the first transistor. The pad being gone, there was nowhere to solder a wire to connect it to the gate pin, unless it was to the miniscule end of the surface mount resistor itself. That seemed virtually impossible, and I would never trust the tiny solder join not to break. That would mean I would be driving with a motor controller that might potentially crap out at any moment. Well! What about leaving that transistor out altogether and just having 3 instead of 4? But the one at the other end was similar. 2 transistors instead of 4 would make it likely that the controller would blow in normal use. I tried hard to solder a wire to the first one, but it was too small to see what was happening, and every time I removed the iron and pulled, the wire came away without any indication that it had been connected to anything. On further checking, it appeared that the entire metal end of the resistor had been pulled away with the transistor pad, and I had been trying to solder to the plastic(?) resistor body.


On the far side (oops no picture), the transistor holes are recessed within a slot in a 3-4mm thick aluminum plate
covering much of the board, about 4-5mm wide. I could hardly squeeze the tip of the solder sucker into it.


   I decided I had put far too many hours into it - into what should have been maybe a 2-3 hour job. And there was no guarantee that even if all was successful, the unit would work - the blown transistors might have damaged other components. It would be easier and better to redesign my own controllers and get them working than to dubiously fix this one. At least in mine the transistors could be easily replaced! Or perhaps I'll order another Kelly controller once I'm established. Truly I'd rather spend time on a redesign of a new [permanent magnet assisted] reluctance motor controller, which seems to be the way of the future, and being new it's probably not something one can buy at any economical price.


Fastest Water Transport Technology: "Ground Effect" Low Flying Craft


Wingship 500, prototype 50 Passenger Craft
(All images are photos of actual craft unless otherwise indicated.
Some copied from videos are poor quality.)


   In looking for catamaran ideas on youtube, I ran into a new (for me) concept, the
"WIG" or "Wing In Ground effect" craft. In the "ground effect" or "surface effect", air becomes somewhat compressed between the underside of the wings and the ground or water close underneath, and this thickened air provides extra lift. Owing to this, aircraft have more lift when flying very close to the ground or water surface than when higher up - even up to 2.5 to 3.5 times more. Since only "X" lift is required to support "X" weight, it effectively gives the same lift with less drag. Then it's a multiplying effect: smaller wings and smaller engine(s) reduce weight, further reducing fuel and power requirements to well under half of what a regular airplane carrying the same load requires, and much less than what a speedboat or helicopter uses. While no transportation using petroleum fuel could be considered "green", this would at least be "substantially less grey" than any other rapid transport over water.
   That such a phenomenon might have a really useful application seems counterintuitive, since a plane flying at very low altitudes over land and unable to climb would run into trouble very quickly. This may partly explain the little attention given to the whole technology. But viewed in a marine vessel context, it's an exciting concept with a whole host of advantages. Instead of either riding the waves, cutting through them, or having thin twin "submarine" hulls under the surface, WIG "vessels" have wings and an aircraft type propeller. They glide over top of the waves, not even touching the water.

   Using much less fuel per kilometer than either boats or small aircraft, they could fly at speeds similar the latter on routes that might usually be plied by float planes or ferries. (If there were very many of them, designated sea lane routes and rules would be a must.) But given that, it is surely safer than a regular aircraft. The advanced pilot skills required to take off, climb, bank, descend, round out and land aren't needed: ideally, when speed is increased sufficiently, they lift off, maintaining level flight just over the water, and when speed is reduced, they drop down and land. There's no chance of collision with other air traffic crossing from above or below. In general they go around obstacles like a boat does, but they can pass right over shallows, logs, deadheads, whales, and even low sand and mud bars and ice above the water. In that respect it's safer than a boat or ship. It would of course have collision avoidance radar to help spot even such relatively small obstructions. It would pass above sea birds on the water before they could react and fly up, and birds in the air would doubtless fly out of the way well enough in advance. If the engine quits or the wings ice up it will land on the water and may need rescue, but it won't sink, and a free fall or dive from a big height is impossible.
   Typical flying heights over the water are centimeters to several meters. Typical flying speeds are 100 to 180 Km/Hr, tho down to 65 and up to 400 Km/Hr are mentioned. They are considered by regulatory agencies to be boats rather than aircraft. They don't get up to a height to be of concern to air traffic control - ships' masts are taller. Larger craft having flying heights of several meters could give a smooth, fast ride over choppy waves, potentially even in storms that would stop ferry and ship travel.

   Original development of the huge Ekranoplan WIG craft was in Russia in the 1920s or 1930s, and a very few people or groups have worked on developments since the 1960s. There is some good footage on youtube of both earlier and more recent WIG craft models. Obviously there are design challenges unique to such craft. Movie footage from the early 1960s shows one that gets too high and then drops back down a few times, finally going quite high and then diving into the water. Ouch! But the developer, Lippisch, continued working for over 10 years (followed I believe by Fischer) and performance was soon much better. He figured out that a reverse delta wing shape is perhaps the most stable: as the craft lifts, the tail also seems to come up and prevent it from possibly flipping (perhaps the high-up elevator, situated more above the ground effect, does this). As it slows or descends, the long front edge comes nearer the water, increasing ground effect lift at the front more than at the rear and preventing it from coming down nose first. But two units made by GM seemed to work well with pretty straight wings. (Why did GM, with such seemingly successful prototypes and all its resources of those days, not continue to develop the product to manufacturing and sales? lack of imagination at the top? the corruption that has long characterized GM?) A foreign language news item (with equally illegible subtitles - Korean?) showed a cracked up WIG craft being towed, about 2012. There are a number of more recent projects, but I found nothing from the last 3 or 4 years. It seems to be a potentially great but long overlooked and still neglected technology.
   One type, a combined WIG and hovercraft, can start on land and drive up onto the beach at the destination. (and perhaps take off on a flat stretch of beach if the water is rough?) Some have variable angle front propellers, which aim at an angle down to blow air under the wings to assist with takeoff ("RAM").
   Some types are able to "jump", using a controlled rear elevator to fly up over taller obstacles and then 'drift' back down. Somewhere the line between ground effect and "real" aircraft starts to blur.
Aron-7 climbing well above the water

   At the other end are more boatlike craft (as developed by Joerg) like the Airfoil Flugboot RR8030B with stubby, boxed in "tandem" wings front and rear, as wide as they are long, which fly barely above the water, sometimes skimming it. This seemed to have hovercraft capability. It started up from on the beach and drove itself into the water.
Flugboot Tandem Wing - not at its cruising height here, but it doesn't get far off the water


Wingship 500, a Korean 50 passenger delta wings WIG Craft prototype 2013

   It sounded like one could buy the Wingship 500 or Wingship 1500 (www.wingship.com), being developed in Korea a few years ago. They look great, and either model can carry 50 people and cruise at 180 Km/Hr, at 5 meters above 4 meter wave tops. But the date on the website says 2013, which doesn't bode well. An e-mail to their address wasn't returned. I have found in my own work that early enthusiasm at having a working model doesn't make it a product ready for marketing, or even a marketable product. My first Electric Hubcap motors ran in 2008, but it took a couple of years of development and then several more years of occasional improvements before I had what might be considered a probably viable product that wouldn't let people down. Even now I have a concern about gradual deformation of the body material.
   Another type that may be available is the Airfish (or is it Airboat or Flightship?). The small prototype was made from aluminum and dacron, powered by a 70 HP motorcycle engine, and held only a very few passengers. A later development from that was the Flightship-8. The company had been bought and sold (was Australia with German designer - now in Singapore?) but its website seemed a little old too.

Airfish-8 or Flightship-8 (take you pick of names) with reverse delta wings,
Eight passenger prototype. 2008 or earlier.

   And there were others that sounded like budding businesses like Aron-7 and Hoverwing, but again without "add to cart" on their websites. One shown called Sea-Eagle was apparently for sale in 2008, but their web site sea-eagle.org couldn't be reached. And seair.com, said to have been started in 1986, had tested many scale models and done much theoretical simulation to determine optimum boat and wing shapes and forms, but the website says "2003".
   
WIG designs envisaged by SeaAir Craft
(computer renderings)

   A big problem is that many larger developments that require considerable capital and time to develop run out of money after successful prototypes but before they work out all the bugs and have production. Financiers seldom seem to have much vision. But too, it may be because so many promising projects seem to be sabotaged financially or otherwise in the bud by the corrupt, to protect their existing oil, big business and banking interests.

   Notwithstanding, it seemed puzzling and unfortunate that such a promising technology seemed to have been sidelined and was so little known. Late in the month I found a more likely, stability related reason none of the past designs have seen production. It's common to high flying aircraft too, but in that case it only makes takeoffs and landings trickier. But a new design with a fresh approach fixes this (see the next article below, Bixel WIG Craft).

   Because of where I'm moving to, my thoughts turn to transportation between Haida Gwaii and the mainland. Prince Rupert is about 170 Km away - just an hour at 170 Km/Hr instead of 7 hours by ferry. A passenger and fast "air cargo" service would be wonderful, a "flying leap" to bringing everything closer together! It should substantially cheaper than by airplane. Economies of scale say a large 'wingship' ground effect ferry to carry vehicles and passengers should use even less fuel per weight per kilometer than smaller ones.
   Something like the Wingship 500 seems like an ideal vehicle for traversing relatively long stretches of open water including pretty rough water, doubtless stopping somewhere well short of whole oceans where jetliners take over. It doesn't need an airport: minimally, just a dock at a marina. Like a float plane, it does need stretches of relatively calm water for takeoff and landing. Early target routes might be Haida Gwaii to Prince Rupert (especially!) and the islands of the BC and Southern Alaska coasts, the Azores and Canary Islands, and between the Hawaiian Islands. And there are numerous possible routes to many and various Pacific islands. (Woow, one could build this into an actual business proposal!)

   In boating it's a rough rule of thumb that gasoline use is "one [imperial] gallon per hour per 10 horsepower." So if the small Airfish prototype had the 70 horsepower motorcycle engine going full bore and made the 170 Km crossing in an hour, it would use just 7 gallons (32 liters) of fuel. I suspect it would more typically cruise at 60% throttle, so (still assuming 170 Km/Hr) 19 liters. That's about the same as a small to medium car - but covering the distance in half the time! If that's unrealistic, maybe it's 100 Km/Hr at 60%, so 1.7 hours and 32 liters. Surely that's still far less than any other reasonably fast water craft or airplane.
   Well, that was for the prototype. (Apparently the Airfish-5 and later the Airfish-8 (8 passengers) was in low volume production since about 2003(?), but it didn't look certain if it still is. And it's pretty small for a regular passenger service. But it had a bigger engine.) From the website, the 29 meter long Wingship with twin turboprops burns 460 Kg (575 liters?) per hour at 175 km/Hr, for 50 passengers. Hmm... it sounds perhaps less fuel efficient than the fast catamaran ferry, which is said to use 5000 liters/hr hauling 200 cars and maybe 500 passengers. This is perhaps comparing bananas and fruit bats, and it must be noted that the ferry is less than 1/2 as fast, so it burns more than 10000 liters in the crossing compared to under 575. People would pay a premium for the speed, especially if it happens to run at a more convenient time.

Bixel WIG Craft

   I thought I was through with the topic of WIG/ground effect craft at least for a while, but on the 17th in a youtube "suggestion" titled "Bixel WIG Craft Footage" (2011, by youtube name "iSturz") I ran into a very different WIG craft design, a small "Bixel" radio controlled model. The stability of this "foot square" vehicle floating an inch above the street - or flying higher into the air - was amazing.


   I thought "Bixel" must be some acronym, but it turned out Chuck Bixel was the name of the original aeronautic engineer inventor and developer.
[see http://twitt.org/Bixel_WIG.html Evidently he died some years ago, so there's probably no point e-mailing to the address given.] He took out patent US 5105898 A in 1992, where additional info is to be found. (Later patent US 5611294 (1998?), a craft by Donald E. Burg, combining features of a hovercraft, hydrofoil and WIG, may possibly inspire an improvement or two on Bixel's design.)

   I think the RC model is actually better than Bixel's designs as shown: the slope built into the catamaran hull or body shape puts the wings at a good angle to automatically lift the craft when the speed is sufficient.

The one and wholly inadequate photo found of one of Bixel's prototypes leaves more questions
about what is in the view than it answers. Is that Bixel, wearing a hat, or just the end of the
row of trees? Is the craft moving? If it's an unpowered glider, how? Or is that an engine and
propeller in the middle? Are there inverted "V" shaped slots at the back of the two hulls,
similar to the Burg patent, and is there anything between the hulls at the back? Why does a
wide 'cockpit' thing interrupt the flat 'lifting body' airfoil shape?

Later I found a 2015 video of a similar model (probably inspired by the first): "RC Ground Effect Vehicle - RCTESTFLIGHT" by youtuber "RCTESTFLIGHT". This maker flew it over snow and water, and he tried several variations such as adding outer wings it didn't originally have, adding hull 'steps' for water takeoffs, adding a hydrofoil, and adding some other in-water lift sticks. The video was more informative than the others because the maker narrated it to explain it.


The angle of the motor/propeller helps to blow air under the wings to assist with
take-off. On some full size craft they can be rotated from angled to straight.
(The dog gave chase with boundless energy and enthusiasm,
but he flew it up out of reach whenever it got too close!)


It often dipped a float in the water.
No ducks were harmed in making this video. (AFAIK)

   Another pair of 2015 videos, "Bixel WIG / Ekranoplan" and "Bixel WIG / Ground Effect Vehicle", both by "LegalTender91", showed a third similar craft but with two motors, again with great stability. It too did some high flying well out of ground effect, also coming down with some scrapes across the gravel surface but not stopping.

   Notwithstanding the amazing stability, the second two fliers did manage to flip or crash them flying high, with maneuvers that would probably be termed reckless if they were manned craft. (...the "legalTender91" one crashed with a FPV camera on board - perhaps the camera itself altered the balance. It's a good reason to start with a small RC model.)

I think the 2015 models were inspired by the 2011 one, as there was discussion about the subject on an RC model interest group website.


   Perhaps the reason Bixel's design was little known was because (or so it was said) he didn't actually make a powered flying unit, only some catapult launched styrofoam gliders. And he worked before the advent of digital photography. Thus there are no videos of a prototype winging its way effortlessly and stably over the water to excite the interest of the potential enthusiast - or even of his gliders. The little RC models are the greatest development so far of what appears to actually be much the best type of WIG craft! They're refining my ideas for designs to try out! I rather like the wedge shaped hulls, with the front of the wings tilted up (presumably set to take-off angle?) and the rear down at ground (water) level.

   On the topic of airfoils, NASA engineers were asked why paper airplanes were so stable in flight. One confessed he didn't know, while another offered some convoluted explanation. (Bafflegab?) When Bixel started looking into it, it seemed it was the cross section of the wing chord itself: flat instead of cambered "wing" shape. In a typical wing profile, as the angle of attack increases, the center of lift shifts toward the front. This is inherently unstable, because the attack angle increases as the plane slows down. So as it slows down, the center of lift shifts forward, trying to tip the nose up into a stall. This is a positive (runaway) feedback loop, usually compensated by a rear elevator whose downward 'lift' stalls first, configured thus to tip the plane forward. (Yes, with a typical plane, while the wings are trying to lift it up, the elevator is trying to push it down! That is surely not good for fuel economy, but it keeps planes from losing control and stalling, or causes them to turn nose down for recovery of control if they do. Early planes were notorious for stalling and falling out of the sky without being able to return to a controllable orientation.)

   Bixel was taught in class never to design an aircraft using a flat or symmetrical airfoil, that they were only shown for reference. But he could never remember a reason being given for that! Apparently it was just one of those "givens", passed down for generations without examination. No doubt the reason is that the cambered wing shape has the most lift for its size, so the smallest wing is needed. But it appears there are other design factors that have long been overlooked by aircraft designers.
   With flat or narrow symmetrical wings, it seems the lift shift is opposite, toward the rear with increasing attack angle. With this negative (corrective) feedback loop, the paper plane finds a natural downward glide angle and speed, and follows it. That's its stability secret. Adding power can make this angle flat. More power can make it climb. And that should be the optimum scenario for WIG craft stability. Barring applying so much power that it climbs at a steep angle and then suddenly cutting it (there are limits!), the craft should never stall or go into a steep dive. According to Bixel: "We (mostly old military and airline pilot friends), were able to fine balance the gliders until very little or no pitch control or elevator trim control was needed for safe flight." So in theory there's no need for an elevator control, but even if it's trimmed to one position for a flight and left there, it's probably helpful or needed, to compensate for distribution of the weight of passengers, luggage and fuel on board. And (bonus!) the flat wings need less power to take off, shrinking the required engine size. Furthermore (unintuitive surprise!), while the actual lift per wing area is lower, it has a higher lift to drag ratio, so it will go faster for a given power. (Hmm... could the larger wing end up having as much drag? No, I don't think that would make sense - if the lift to drag ratio is better, it must have less drag for the same lift. Now... what about the propeller? Would a flat blade propeller take less power to provide the same thrust?)
   In his patent description Bixel claims ground effect provides 2.5 to 3.5 times more lift, and that WIG craft in general only use 1/4 to 1/3 as much fuel as a conventional aircraft. His is probably at the lower end of that.

   With the "normal" wings, making them wide front to back exacerbates the changing center of lift problem, making the craft very unstable. Bixel disparaged the lifespan of such WIG craft, saying they usually crashed before any aging effects could be noted. Perhaps here is the real, hidden, reason why they have not become popular or gone into commercial production despite the hype of each new design over the years. This problem is common to regular aircraft too, but they fly high above the ground and straying up or down a feet meters is of little consequence, takeoffs and landings being the main dangerous points requiring special pilot attention. A ground effect craft can't stray up or down without consequences.
   But the flat wing becomes more stable with longer chord instead. Thus, the paper airplane with its delta wings flys pretty nicely, and the "lifting body" of the WIG craft can be its entire length. Also the height of the ground effect is proportional to the front-back length ("chord") of the wings, so the Bixel designs can ride the highest over the waves for their size and applied power. And it is capable of climbing out of ground effect for higher level flight without losing stability. Posters to a radio control discussion site were impressed with the stability of the Bixel models, while someone said the tandem wing ones, very stable to a point, tended to suddenly flip over longitudinally at too-high speeds. (Well, that's turned me off the tandem wing design!)
   Then, of the cambered wing designs, the reverse delta was said to be the most stable. What if one reversed the flat wing configuration and had more wing at the front instead of more at the back? with appropriate weight redistribution, of course. Could that be even more stable? One would doubtless also have a rear elevator higher up, getting less ground effect.

Using standard airfoil performance graphs, Bixel noted:


Notes for Very Low Aspect Ratio Double Wing Designs
1. Reversed CP characteristics between flat and standard airfoils
[reversed forward-to-rear change of center of lift, with changing angle of attack]
2. CP travel on flat/symmetrical airfoil automatically and continually corrects pitch angles to match airspeed
3. Higher lift to drag ratios for flat airfoil(!), plus higher stall and flight angles

   Bixel made and tested many models out of 1" thick styrofoam sheets, finding the designs that flew best. Small models of Bixel's designs seem to fly quite well. And they look like they should scale quite well, from small models to the large passenger/freight "liners" Bixel drew.

Bixel WIG Craft Project?

   Among my many rather tentative thoughts are that there are actual electric airplanes. (There are Videos of them on youtube.) And the RC models were electric. Elon Musk once tentatively figured that battery weight would have to come down considerably to make manned electric aircraft practical. But a craft requiring say 1/3 the power would also require 1/3 the battery storage, effectively tripling the "power to weight ratio". But I'll simply assume the required range couldn't be attained for the target 170 Km trip with the present highest storage-per-weight lithium batteries. (I will however hope it could with nickel-air cells if I get those working.)
   For a government or commercial project on this particular route at present, a natural gas engine would seem well suited, given that that fuel piped to Prince Rupert will be looking for customers. Alas, such a project is unlikely to happen. For a personal craft gasoline and a "regular" type of engine is doubtless the only realistic choice.
   I could also see such a craft being made out of foam sandwich with polypropylene-epoxy skin, with some wood (spruce?) or aluminum stiffeners - just about like my catamaran ideas. Or maybe some simple, lightweight plastic skin? However, pleasing as it would be to have such a craft and to fly to and from Prince Rupert rapidly myself (doubtless mostly to buy parts and materials for projects), another thought is that trying to design and build one would be a huge undertaking. It's one of those things that would be great if someone had already done it and the fast passenger service was available.

   So my original thoughts were that I'd stick to making some sort of catamaran craft, if I made any watercraft at all. But I checked whether maybe someone had plans for a small WIG craft available... did it look straightforward enough...? There was one website saying "plans" for a combo WIG/Hovercraft for several hundred dollars, but underneath it said "Plans not yet available". There was no date on the website.
   Then, I thought (before finding the Bixel ideas), there was the tandem wing idea. Not so good for rough weather, but more like a boat to build. In fact, it could be a catamaran with front and rear wings between the two hulls. I might build a planing hulls type catamaran with adjustable mountings for the wings or center deck. Different wings at different angles and heights could be tried out seeking adjustments that worked well. Finding the Bixel type seemed to revolutionize the picture, saying a single center "lifting body" deck the whole length, along with a couple of stubby side wings, should be flat. And the stated stability, visible in the RC models, was very reassuring compared to other types.

   A successful Bixel WIG craft would give me aircraft speed mobility over Hecate Strait to the mainland, for 1/4 or 1/3 the fuel of an aircraft and far less than a powerboat or any other fast sea transport. Never say Never! Trying to do things in a new and better way is right up my line, and while I would never undertake commercial production, a successful craft would inspire others.

   But I was getting ahead of myself... RC models would be the easy, safe and sensible thing to make first, tried out on small, calm bodies of water with a chase boat (my aluminum boat with Electric Caik outboard, of course) to retrieve them if required. or even on flat land. First little ones like those on youtube, testing out various configurations such as propeller positions and angles, and "reverse delta" sorts of wing shapes, then larger scale models of the most promising. Only when satisfied that a full size craft was likely to perform as desired should it be attempted.
   So the next question was whether to interrupt my increasingly frenzied packing up job for yet another 'extra' shopping expedition, to the hobby shop, or to try buying what I needed on line after I got up there. I checked on line and of course there were items to be had, but there was no real descriptive info. I wasn't familiar with the whole field to know what to order. No doubt I could have found some info by searching. It seemed easier to go to the hobby shop where they would have a good idea what it would need. I went, explained the project, and got:

* A four-channel transmitter-receiver pair (135$C). The transmitter had two up-down, left-right joysticks. The left one would stay up-down wherever it was set. The other three were spring loaded back to center. (I really wanted (I think) to trim the elevator to a balanced position and leave it there, so I'd rather have had the right vertical also non-spring loaded. Hmm! Either horizontal could be used for the rudder. I think I'd rather have a 'steering wheel' rudder control, separate from any other control.)


   The receiver, having 6 channels while the transmitter had only 4, had 7 sets of three .1" header pins all in a row. The first set (looking the same as the rest) was the power connection. Servos and the 'ESC' motor controller plugged into the others. But the motor controller can apparently power the unit, so it would seem each set of 3 pins must have common +5v and Ground, and an individual analog voltage output pin.


* A very small (not to say tiny) 220 watt (over 1/4 HP!) motor (80$C). I was offered a couple of smaller motors first, but I went for this model, and I wonder if I should have gone bigger. The black outer case is the supermagnet(s) rotor and spins along with the whole axle end. The stator coils are inside from that. The motor is face mounted from the short end piece where the wires attach.


* The "ESC", "Electronic Speed Control", is actually a small BLDC motor controller (35$C). I got one a little larger than matching the motor, given my experiences with BLDC controllers so far. Of course, spinning a propeller the motor can't normally be held in a stalled position, so it should be pretty reliable unless something shorts. I wasn't impressed that while the motor has a connector pin on each wire, the "ESC" just had bare end motor wires (and power wires) instead of matching connectors.

* The two servos (for rudder and elevator control ~20$C each) had a "bolt head" sticking out one side, which presumably turns when appropriate signals are applied, to which a number of attachments could be mounted. Does it turn a specific distance? around and around? I guess I'll find out!
   They also had a wire with a 3-pin connector for the radio link receiver, from which they are powered.


* I also got a selection of propellers from 7 to 10 inches (3-5$C each), not knowing just what will work best. Not only did I get 4 different diameters, but they come in different pitches and separate models for "puller" and "pusher" motor configurations. I could have bought a dozen still without covering all the possibilities, and I hope one I did get is appropriate.

   As my plan evolves, I'm thinking of a model a little under 3 feet square with a lifting body between two hulls, configured much like the one flown on the pond in one of the videos, except I'd like to try the side wings near the front per the "reverse delta" layout and see if that provides "ultimate" ground effect stability. I have some lithium cylinder batteries about 2-1/2" long. Perhaps I'll set them up vertically in a cabin with windows, like seated passengers!
   After that's working and I've found the best design/layout I can, perhaps I'll make a larger one, maybe about 8 by 8 feet. Just so it's more impressive, and also it should demonstrate that it can fly smoothly over some actual waves. Two spruce 'beams' will go right across, almost wingtip to wingtip, to make a strong unit that can carry some weight. (It may need 2 or 3 of the strongest motors made for model aircraft?)
   Then the plan for the full size vehicle as I see it now will be to demonstrate this large, impressive, smooth running model, and speak of the potential for "Prince Rupert in an hour!", and try to inspire others on the island to take up the bigger challenge! One can only take on so much oneself.



In Passing
(Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)

More on Arctic & Global Warming

   On the 29th an article on TheWeatherNetwork.com noted what I noted in TE News #109: that the arctic is warming disproportionately to the rest of the world. But per my article, I think they have cause and effect reversed when they blame the unusual (not to say disrupted) wind circulation patterns on the heated Arctic. Why would the Arctic be heating so much -- unless the winds were blowing warmer air there from farther south? And if the Arctic was heating up by itself, why would cold arctic outflow winds cause temperate zone ares of very cold winter weather?
   Shrinking Arctic summer sea ice has set new records for 3 years in a row. People are now talking of an ice-free arctic coming soon in the summer. Perhaps oddly, the globe in the article didn't show the same warming trend in the Antarctic. Indeed, part of that region was about the only one anywhere with a slightly colder temperature shift.

   That's not to say it isn't warming most everywhere. Someone said that about 15,000 (or was it 'just' 1500?) all time high temperature records were broken in the USA in summer 2016. I also note that temperatures over 50°C were recorded on this planet for the first time (AFAIK) in a very recent year (2014 or 2015 or both?), in Northwestern India. It was hotter there than in the Sahara desert. Temperatures also broke that "half way to boiling" level in California in 2016. Both regions have also experienced severe drought in recent years. I feel blessed that here in the "Pacific Northwest" we have seen so little severe weather. so far. (Perhaps we will get "The Big One" giant earthquake sometime to make up for it!)

Skeptic's Guide to Abbreviations

NATO - New Atlantic Terrorist Organization
CIA - Cocaine Importing Agency
NSA - National Spy Agency
DHS - Dept. of Horrors and Scares

You call that Funny?

How many kilograms are in a telegram?

On many socket wrench drives are the letters "L" and "R". We suspect those are supposed to stand for "Left" and "Right". I prefer to think of them as "Loosen" and "Retighten".



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