Welcome to The RC Geek Blog

Featured

The RC Geek Blog is your place to learn about all aspects of the RC hobby.  Learn to build, design, drive or fly that RC project you’ve always wanted to build, but have been intimidated to try.  This blog is here to help you on your journey and provide tips and tricks as you go!  My hope is to inspire builders both experienced and new!  So, welcome, please look around, it’s an exciting beginning!  I’m currently documenting my latest competition scale RC jet build, a Mark Frankel F4D Skyray, along with some other fun tips and videos.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for on this front page, click on any of the categories to the right and it will show just posts related to those categories.  Please feel free to add comments and/or contact me directly if you have questions, I’m here to help!  And don’t forget to check out my YouTube Channel, I post new videos every week!

Chris Wolfe (The RC Geek)

 

Spektrum AR10360T Receiver Review, E-flite F-16 Custom Programming, & AS3X Setup

10 channels of power…and 1 receiver to rule them all!

I personally love having the option for more channels, especially when building my own scale aircraft.  While not always necessary, having channel options available is almost always helpful and it opens up opportunities to add scale functions and/or customize the controls more to your liking.  And that’s not to mention having individual servo setup across the same functions.  So, I was excited to finally see the AR103060T and AR10100T 10 channel receivers released from Spektrum.  It opens of channel options in a lighter weight package while also supports all of their new technology.  Having been flying the NX10 for some time it is nice to finally be able to utilize all of those 10 radio channels.

My goal in putting together this review is to introduce the receiver and some of its key features and then from there run through some programming and then talk through setting up AS3X.  The subject for all of this is the E-flite F-16 80mm EDF as I had been wanting to try out a more scale flaperon type control setup that included tailerons to help recover the loss in roll authority when the ailerons are deflected as flaps.  Spoiler alert, I really like the result with that airplane!

A QUICK RUNDOWN OF THE AR103060T RECEIVER

In short, the Spektrum AR10360T receiver is a full range 10 Channel AS3X/SAFE Telemetry Receiver compatible with a DSM2® and DSMX® (note that the AR10100T is the same, but does not have AS3X/SAFE).  While many of the standard features of the receiver is similar to the current Smart/SAFE 6 channel and 8 channel receivers, the 10 channel receivers feature integrated barometer and vario telemetry data as standard.  Additionally featured is an SRXL2 port for an SRXL2 Remote Receiver (SPM9747 or SPM4751T) to add Continue reading

Scale Squadron Warbirds & Classics 2021

Good times and Warbird Flying are back!

Needless to say, the last year and a half plus has been hard on all of us.  With so many of our normal routines and activities disrupted, it has only brought that many more challenges it seems.  This hobby is not just about the airplanes and flying, it is about the friends and comradery that can be enjoyed together with others as well.  So, when the Scale Squadron’s Warbirds & Classics came up again this year after being cancelled in 2020, I was beyond excited to go; it had been almost 2 years since the last event I went to!

If you’re unaware, the event takes place at the OCMA field near Irvine Lake.  The backdrop at the location is fantastic making for great pictures and video and the runway is 600 ft of pure paved goodness.  While the event has taken place in early June in years past, this year came up in mid July based on the timing of when events were allowed again.  This provided us a nice and sunny weekend that did get a bit hot in the afternoons.  Regardless, the heat didn’t preclude anyone from getting all the flying in that they could handle!

There’s always a really great collection of airplanes at the event and this year was no exception.  There was a great showing as a whole with nearly 70 registered pilots Continue reading

Refinish a Foam Jet Ep 4 – Freewing F-14 Tomcat Low-Viz Navy Weathering

How low can you go?…a little low-viz Tomcat weathering.

Finishing up the refinish work on the Freewing F-14 Tomcat, it’s time to apply some characteristic low-viz Navy weathering.  The Flir Cat paint scheme is from the mid 90’s at a time when the Tomcats in service were painted primarily in Dark Ghost Grey (FS36320) with variations thereof.  They were high maintenance workhorses at this time and the aircraft got extremely dirty during operation.  This opens up lots of opportunities to apply different weathering techniques on the airplane to simulate those years of service on the carrier.

While I have done a few videos on weathering, it’s such an important step in the completion of a scale model in what ultimately gives it that realism you otherwise wouldn’t get.  That being said, there is always a balance because too much weathering and the model will look toy-ish just the same without it.  So, my MO for weathering is “less is more.”  To understand how aircraft dirty up in operation, it’s best to look at pictures of the full size and see where the dirt and grime accumulates most.  In the case of the late operation F-14 Tomcats, they were quite a mess.  They faded dramatically and had regular touchups on the ship.  So, as a result you ended up with mottled paint in addition to a significant amount of dirt, oil, and grime that collected everywhere.  This actually quite difficult to simulate effectively, and while I don’t plan to go excessive with it, we can still get something that looks right and not overdone.

 

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

As we approach weathering, my goal is to “simulate, not replicate.”  That’s the best we can do since we’re not going to operate our models in the salty sea air for years on end.  Ultimately, the best weathering process is the one that provides you with the results you’re looking for and there’s no one way to simulate weathering.  It’s a process of employing Continue reading

Refinish a Foam Jet Ep 3 – Freewing F-14 Tomcat Paint, Markings, & Panel Lines

Making the Flir Cat…Tomcat nose art FTW!

In my previous articles, we talked about the refinish process and making a highly detailed cockpit for the Freewing F-14.  Now, it’s time for paint!  I will say, I have a love/hate relationship with painting models.  Most of the time, I love it, but when there are issues that arise, that’s when I hate it, haha!  However, being patient, having the right materials and ensuring the proper preparation is done can usually keep those issues to a minimum, but sometimes you just have to improvise.  In this case, the vinyl markings I had made decided to curl up and not want to stick to the airframe which had me thinking all of the markings would need to be completely replaced.  As it turned out, at the suggestion of a friend, a little low temp heat with an iron cured the issue (saving huge time and aggravation) and all was right with the world again!

In painting a model, one must first choose a paint scheme of course and this not something I take lightly. :p  I knew that I wanted to do something different and rarely modeled and that I also wanted to do a later low viz Navy scheme because it would be fun to weather (they got crazy dirty).  In my research, I found a scheme from VF-103 dawning a unique and rare nose art carrying the moniker of “Flir Cat.”  As it turned out, this aircraft was used in 1995 to prove out the LANTIRN pod integration and was the first to drop bombs from the Tomcat platform which paved the way for the F-14 “BombCat” which proved quite effective.  That’s not to mention too that the aircraft was flown in part by Capt. Dale “Snort” Snodgrass (highest flight time Tomcat pilot ever) as a part of the testing which provided additional appeal.  So, it was decided, Flir Cat she will be!

A quick note regarding the Flir Cat nose art.  While nose art was a regular occurrence on bombers in WWII, it’s since become a rare thing to see, especially on the more modern fighter jets.  The Flir Cat artwork itself was designed and painted by artist PEL during his service in the Navy in the mid 90’s.  He chose the artwork color scheme from each side based off of graffiti color palettes of the day and had to use different colors on each side for the lettering due to having an insufficient quantity of paint for both sides (hence the two different colors of font left to right).

 

THE PAINT PROCESS

A good paint job starts with a good foundation which is what is done during the refinish and primer process.  Once  the desired smoothness and finish was achieved through the primer/sand/primer process, the model was wet sanded with 600 grit sand paper in Continue reading

E-flite Viper 90mm EDF Jet Assembly & Flight Review

If the E-flite Viper 70mm EDF is great, then the E-flite Viper 90mm EDF is even greater-er!

The Viper Jet as a design is about as a perfectly proportioned jet for a model as one can get.  It flies well on the wing giving it a really wide speed envelope while also having a nicely sized empennage that helps keep it stable and responsive on the controls.  So, it’s no surprise that it’s been a popular subject within the jet community for a while as they are great flying models and the E-flite Viper 90mm EDF is no exception!  I can only imagine how nicely the full scale Viper Jet flies!

The E-flite Viper 90mm EDF stems from the lineage of the E-flite Viper 70mm EDF which has been my go to recommendation as a first jet since first flying it a few years ago.  The primary differences are of course size, but also some additional accoutrements in the form of lights, shock absorbing landing gear, gear doors, and full Smart telemetry.  In terms of performance, they both offer a similar flight envelope while the 90mm flies bigger and heavier having overall more speed and vertical performance.

 

AIRCRAFT ASSEMBLY NOTES

The E-Flite Viper 90mm is a good sized model that comes well packed and assembles quickly.  Assembly begins with installation of the horizontal tail which is held in place by two screws.  From there, the wings slide into place over two carbon Continue reading

Refinish A Foam Jet Ep 2 – Freewing F-14 Tomcat Cockpit 3D Printing, Painting and Moving Pilots

Are you looking at me?!

In the process of getting the Freewing F-14 ready for paint, a full cockpit had to be built.  I had peeled off the canopy while working on the preparation and realized that it was the primary structural member for the hatch.  So, since the canopy was off, it was the perfect time to build a nice cockpit for this refinished Tomcat.  I designed up a few parts in CAD, 3d printed and painted them and then installed it all into the stock cockpit tub.  The result completely changed the look of the cockpit and once painted really added to the realism considerably.  Oh, and I figured it would be a good chance to show making pilots with movable heads also. 🙂

A nice cockpit is something that really changes the looks of a scale model.  For me, it’s part of the build process I’ve always enjoyed, though I don’t always go to the extent of completely redoing a cockpit.  Even just some simple additions and a little painting is all that is needed.  But, if there’s nothing out there available for the subject you’re working on, then it’s time to scratch build it.  I’ve been leveraging 3D printing more and more for that which is the process I took for the F-14 cockpit including the pilots.

 

A LITTLE CAD DESIGN & 3D PRINTING

Generally, the cockpit is an area that tends to get glossed over on most foam aircraft and the Freewing F-14 is no exception.  Mostly, it’s a lack of detail and the tendency to reuse the same pilots that may or may not be the correct scale to the airplane.  So, to Continue reading

Refinish A Foam Jet Ep 1 – Freewing F-14 Tomcat Assembly Mods & Paint Prep

Fill…sand…poly…sand…primer…sand…aaaannnnddd repeat…

You’ve probably figured out by now, I have many favorite aircraft. 😉  However, if I was to put together my top 5 favorite aircraft of all time, the F-14 Tomcat would probably be at or near the top of that list.  The airplane was one of brute force, but packaged in an elegant and distinct looking airframe that truly personified its name, Tomcat.  And that’s not to mention, it was an extremely capable fighter that filled many roles through the years that operated from the early/mid 70’s into the mid 2000s.

So, after putting together my Freewing twin 80mm F-14 Tomcat review a few years ago, I always wanted to come back to that airframe and give it a good refinish.  To date, it is still one of my favorite Freewing aircraft and I regretted letting the one go that I had.  So I decided it was time to revisit this model and picked up an ARF plus along with some Freewing 9-blade fan systems for a special refinish.  This really has been a few years in the making.

The end goal with this refinish is to build the airplane into a low vis Navy camouflage.  Though, I do like the more colorful schemes of the 70s and early 80s, there’s just something about a dirtied up ghost gray painted cat from their later years of service to me.

 

FILLER TIME!

Seeing as though I’ve already reviewed the model (albeit a few years old now, but still valid!), let’s jump right into it!   The first item of business in the refinish is Continue reading

E-flite F-16 Falcon 80mm EDF Assembly & Flight Review

The 80mm Falcon Cometh!

There’s something about F-16’s and how they fly that I really like.  To me it blends the traditional flying on the wing type jet with the more flying on the thrust type delta wing configuration.  To me, it means you get something that flies quickly, maneuvers really well yet has the slow speed characteristics of the delta being able to hit the high alpha.

So, when I learned about the E-Flite F-16 Falcon 80mm EDF I was quite excited, especially seeing all of the added details in the design.  I knew that if it flew anything like the E-flite 70mm Thunderbird, it would be a blast…and I think it’s safe to say that it has exceeded my expectations!

 

 

AIRCRAFT ASSEMBLY NOTES

The E-Flite F-16 80mm is a very complete kit that includes all metal scale landing gear, full lights, and external weapons/stores and assembles very quickly.  Also, all of the servo attachments have hard mounted connectors, so there’s no loose wires to have to contend with either.  The assembly process starts with installing the horizontal tails.  They have a pre-installed shaft that slides into the fuselage and is then held in place by a screw on each side (servo attachment is a traditional Continue reading