Towel #168 Checking In!


Hats off to Darin from Queens for detailing his experience with the kit. He’s given us great photos and narration and I want to include all of it so keep scrolling!
Now, here’s Darin:

Hey Breck and friends!

I wanted to check in Towel #168 and share some build details with the group. This is the first RC plane I’ve built, and I’m very excited. Saw you guys at last year’s Maker Faire but there was no kit at the time. After seeing the kit at this year’s Faire, I couldn’t resist.
Being that I live in a tiny apartment in NYC, I had some concerns about the portability and storability of an RC aircraft. The biggest change I made to the design was giving the towel the ability to be broken down for transport, taking advantage of the removable deck. A hinge was created at the centerline of the airframe with tape so that the whole thing can be folded in half. In addition to the deck with zip ties, Velcro strips are used to lock the airframe open for flight. Quite strong. The process of breakdown will cost me 12 zip ties, but oh well. Next build I may attach the entire deck with Velcro. The whole kit can now be bundled up in/on a backpack for fly days.
Also used some wide drinking straws to build a leading edge, for aerodynamics and strength.
Went with a red color scheme, as this matched the components and leading edge reinforcement, and adds visibility against blue skies. I figure spray paint won’t add much weight.

Decided to run the electricals underneath the deck. Might make things tougher to repair, so to solve this issue I just won’t crash. 🙂 Initially ran the servo cables forward through a common hole but they were just too tight and I had concerns about interference with the antennas, so ran them sideways. Also snipped the corners off the motor mount for safety and aesthetics. Receiver is mounted on Velcro for easy removability and a little padding. Single dedicated zip tie holds it in. Wanted to attach the motor mount under the deck, but forgot… The prop hole was cut with rounded corners – a bit rough but just don’t look closely.

Complete deck. Left speed controller above for cooling.

Cable routing underneath deck.

In videos I watched, the pointy nose was the first thing to go, and I know that curves tend to fare better. Reinforced the nose with hangars. Actually found some purple clothes hangers, which were easier to spray paint red. One of the hangar curves happened to match the nose shape perfectly, so no bending was needed.

Makeshift jig I had to put together to slot the straws perfectly. (Very difficult without jig).

When lining up the elevons for taping, I found that a few straight pins did a great job of holding things right where I wanted.

Decided to go with a Batwing-like shape for the tail, similar to the Make magazine build. (Got my trusty April 2012 edition sitting here.)

Detail of airframe – you can see that the wings fold downward with no deck attached.

Detail of leading edge.

Detail of kung-fu-folding action.

Full build, top view.

Full build, front view.

Some problems I ran into:
  • The included double-stick tape did not work – the wax paper side did not come off at all. Luckily I had some extra of my own.
  • Had to build my own 12V power supply for the charger. A bit disappointing that this doesn’t come with the kit, considering its completeness otherwise.
  • Found that the control wires rubbed up against the airframe on full extension. Had to cut some ugly slots.
  • Can’t tell from either the videos (which are great) or documentation what my flight time or range is with the Optic 5.
I’m working on an idea to attach skis to the bottom, in order to protect the vertical stabilizer mounts, but didn’t finalize a solution yet which would be strong and still allow for the folding. Also plan to figure out a way to use the rudder or landing gear control to light some LEDs for night flying. Someday.
Thanks to Brooklyn Aerodrome for making a simple and affordable kit for beginners! Hope to be able to make it to next week’s fly class to give this thing a maiden flight. It’s aching to be flown!
Thanks for the report and detail pics of that sweet looking airplane, Darin. Commentary will be forthcoming.
We are currently in class (!). but wanted to get this up where people could see it asap.
Great job!












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