Open Flight Stabilizer Update

Recently I wrote up an article about how to flash the Open FlightStab software to the Orange RX RS3X. I’ve sense flashed the open source program to another standalone stabilizer and one integrated receiver/stabilizer combo. Each one was pretty easy. With the cost of the RS3X and DSM2 receiver being so low it doesn’t hurt having a couple of these around for that next “project” that comes along.

How Does It Fly?

Flashing the Open FlightStab is one thing, but how does it fly?

Today I got a chance to fly two of my airplanes with the stabilizers. I’ve been flying a P-511D Mustang that I bought from HobbyKing for a while. It flies rather nice but can be a bit touchy at times, especially it gets a little gusty. I haven’t had the stabilizer in it because I have gear and flaps which need more than the six channel receiver that I had sitting around.

Quick side topic: I got the OrangeRX DSMX 8Ch recevier and one of their DSMX satellites. I’m normally kind of sketch on getting off-brand products such as in when it is not 100% clear that OrangeRX’s receivers are licensed to work with DSM2/DSMX. However, I can say that the 8Ch receiver and the satellite work very nicely. Everything bound and worked 100% right out of the box. Range check worked great and I didn’t have any issues even with having 9 or so pilots at the field.

Today was the perfect day for the test. There was near zero wind with an occasional breeze of  5-7 MPH. I got the Mustang off the ground with the stabilizer in OFF mode. I don’t think stabilization is a good idea for take off. I highly recommend NOT using HOLD mode at all for takeoff! After banking out over our field I moved the gain over to HOLD mode. I put the plane in a bank and was amazed as it held that position. It actually was a bit unnerving.

By this time I was coming back down the length of the field. A slight cross wind came up. It was quite interesting watching the plane crab down the runway with having any input by me! For a “scale” type warbird the HOLD mode was not the way to fly. The control surface throws aren’t that large in order to present scale type flight. What was more interesting was RATE mode.

On the next bank out over the field I moved the gain down into the RATE area. The plane instantly became much more responsive. I was surprised at how nice the plane flew. The control inputs I normally had to provide were lessened by a considerable degree. I could now concentrate on flying my pattern vs. working the controls to keep the plane going in one general direction.

After a couple times around the field another gust of wind came up while I was making a pass down the runway.  I could watch the Mustang shake a bit from the gyro as it was trying to correct for the wind. I probably had a bit too much gain turned in on the AUX channel.

HOLY CRAP

After a couple of flights on the Mustang I was ready to try the stabilizer in my 300 Extra profile foamie. I kept thinking I was doing something wrong to get the stabilizer to arm. When the stabilizer arms correctly the control surfaces move 3 times. This signals that the stabilizer is calibrated and ready to go. When I was in the pits it seemed like the control surfaces wouldn’t move. Finally they did. This should have been an omen.

I did the same procedure with the foamie as I did with the Mustang. I took off and banked out over the field and then switched the gyro to HOLD mode. The control surfaces seemed a bit sluggish but it was working.

All of a sudden the ailerons started fluttering. The first thought that shot through my head was, “oh no. The gyro’s gain is way overboard or I configured it wrong!” The ailerons stopped fluttering briefly. I quickly attempted to flip it over to RATE mode then to off.  This is where a 3 position switch would have made the procedure a little easier.

Anyhow, during this time I was trying to get back to level flight. Finally it seemed like the ailerons “stuck” and I was able to make meandering circles till I got it safely back on the ground. After a sigh of relief I ran out and got the plane.

During the postmortem I found that the nice HiTec metal gear servos stripped the plastic splines on the control horns. The gyro was probably doing its job just fine. The control surfaces probably would have moved to show calibration, but it was all for not.

Hopefully I’ll get some good horns and have the foamie setup next week. I’ll get back with a better review for 3D style flying then.

Overall I am very happy with the Open FlightStab programming and highly recommend you try it out!

About Mike

I'm a software engineer. Look into the about page for more information about me.
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