At the February 5, 2013 meeting the members voted to hold the Heli Jamboree again this year. See the Events page for more info.
To make your Deans connectors easier to disconnect apply some powered graphite on both the male and female ends. This is the same product that you put into locks to make them work easier.
I’d like to expand a bit on the excellent tips offered by Phil Laperriere in the July 2010 edition of the AMA Insider, entitled “Understanding Deans“. As someone who has been involved in electronics since I was a teenager, I get a lot of requests from the members of my own R/C club to help them with the same kinds of soldering issues Phil discussed in his article. The recent boom in the popularity of all-electric planes and helicopters, and the ever-increasing size and capacity of the batteries, motors, and speed controllers they use has made what used to be fairly simple tasks very difficult for a lot of modelers. So here are a couple of my own soldering tips.
1. Use a smaller gauge solder. Solder comes in different sizes, just like wire does, and a small gauge solder will melt more quickly and flow much better than a thicker one. I use .032 gauge solder (available at Radio Shack) for all my electronic soldering tasks. It takes much less heat to melt it, which helps reduce the damage excess heat can do to terminals, connectors, and insulation. And the smaller gauge solder has a greater percentage of flux, compared to a larger diameter solder, which helps it stick better to the joints. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to use.
2. Use a bigger soldering iron. A larger soldering iron (measured in Watts) will often make a better joint quicker, and with less damage to the terminals and wire. If your iron is too small, you’ll be forced to leave it against the joint way too long, which will allow the heat to travel up the wire and into other parts, causing damage. The bigger iron will heat the joint quickly, resulting in much better, more electrically reliable joint. For most R/C tasks a 35-40 watt iron is ideal, for larger joints on heavy gauge wire, including connections to large ESCs and battery terminals, a 50 watt or larger is even better.
3. Get yourself a flux pen, also available at Radio Shack, or from any good electronics retailer. They’re made like a magic marker, but contain the same rosin flux that’s in the center of the solder. Coat the wire and terminal to be soldered with flux before you “tin” them, and your solder will adhere and flow much better, making a stronger, more reliable connection. Use only rosin core flux on electronic wires, NEVER acid core!
4. Use the soldering iron to heat the joint, not to melt the solder! This is a big one, and very important. The job of the iron or gun is to heat the wire and/or joint to a temperature hot enough so that it, the joint, can melt the solder. Don’t place the solder against the tip of the iron and try to drip it onto the joint. Place the iron against the joint, let it heat the joint, then let the joint melt your solder. Once you get the joint hot enough, the solder will flow over the wires and connectors, coating everything evenly. This is the only way to prevent a cold solder joint, which can rob you of performance and may even break loose completely. Remember, use the iron to heat the joint, not melt the solder. Let the joint do the melting. It takes practice, but it works.
5. Wear a glove. How many times have you had to turn a hot wire loose before the solder had cooled enough to hold it well? How many times has the heat from the joint traveled up the wire and shrunk your tubing before you were ready? Use a pot-holder type glove, or whatever you have, to protect your hands while soldering. You’ll be able to hold the wires longer and more steady while soldering, and they will help cool the wire more quickly once you’re done, which will save your heat-shrink.
I’d also suggest you invest in one of the small devices that have 2 or 3 alligator clips to hold your wires and terminals, sometimes called a “Helping Hands”. (They often also include a soldering iron holder.) Cover the alligator clips with a piece of fuel tubing to pad them and prevent them from marring your wires. They’re great for holding things steady while you apply the heat and solder. Good Luck!
Falling Water Radio Control Flying Club
I recently discovered a great way to mount canopies, cowlings, hatches, virtually anything that requires a mounting screw to attach it to a plane. I’d like to share it with the rest of my modeling friends.
As anyone who’s ever tried to mount a fiberglass cowling or a plastic canopy on a balsa wood plane knows, one of the most difficult things to do is to get the wood hard enough to reliably hold the mounting screws so that they won’t vibrate out in flight and allow the part to crack or fall off. In the past, the best method has seemed to be to use hardwood or plywood blocks, pre-drill the holes, and then harden them with CA. While that may work for a while, if you have to remove the screws a few times they eventually get loose again and you’re right back at square one. Often, the next step is a bigger screw, which adds weight and looks crummy! So here’s my solution….
Cut a small piece of plastic antenna tubing slightly longer than the length of the screw. You can use any hard plastic tubing you have (not fuel tubing), just make sure the I.D. (inside diameter) is slightly smaller than the body of the screw. Antenna tubing is a perfect fit for the small allen-head servo mounting screws I like to use. Now drill a small hole through the part and into the mounting block (or balsa) as you normally would. Next, enlarge the hole to the O.D. (outside diameter) of the tubing. Make sure you’re accurate with size of this hole, it’s important that the tubing fit snugly into the wood before gluing. You should have to tap the tubing into the hole with a small block or tool. If it’s loose, drop down a size on your drill bit. You may want to practice on a scrap of wood at first to find the right bit sizes. Now, use thin CA to secure the tubing into the wood, and give it several minutes to dry. Your mounting screws will bite into the plastic tubing much better than they do into wood, and you can remove and replace them as many times as you need to. The friction of the tubing on the screws’ threads will act like “lock-tite”, and they won’t vibrate out or loosen in flight. I keep several sizes of plastic tubing handy to match the various sizes of screws I use on my planes. You can use pan head, socket head, or flat head screws, whatever you prefer, they all work equally well with this method. And it’s easy to modify an existing mount to use this method, too.
Falling Water Radio Control Flying Club
Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379