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December 30, 2011

Progress may involve some compromise and some discovery.  I have been designing another vehicle to cut weight while keeping strength up.  Construction might be wood or foam with fiberglass offering a smooth finish.  Along the way I built a small test vehicle of foam and fiberglass.  It hasn’t flown so well, but it is extremely durable.  After many hard landings it is still ready to go again. 


Design is aided by CAD data which suggests that a hybrid construction may be my best method.  One experiment with the little bird is interesting.  I made the avionics cover of foam and covered it with fiberglass.  An experiment with acetone washed the foam away, leaving a light fiberglass cover.


After designing a simplified model it appears that wood construction can be lighter than foam in some applications.  The current design still needs a smooth airflow to the fans, so foam is my best tool for those compound curves.  So the new design combines both methods.  Foam is the center section, but thin ribs and bulkheads augment that in the outer areas.  This requires a few parts to be hand carved foam, but many are plywood now.


If time is saved by simple forms, it is still functional without landing gear.  We did well with skids in the desert, so we will go with carbon fiber skids again.  Take off by a rail launch is an area of interest to NASA, so I will go this way on one prototype.  This one will use launch buttons like the high power rockets use.  But this rail will be on a gentle angle, not vertical. 

Well I need to get back to work, it isn’t easy aiming to build uglier airplanes than Mr. Rutan!



One Comment
  1. chancwj permalink

    I dig your technique for fiberglass on foam mold, then dissolving the foam with acetone. It reminds me of the “lost wax” casting process. I wonder if this could be made even easier and more environmentally friendly? Can you buy blocks of that starch-foam they use for environmentally friendly packaging peanuts? That stuff dissolves with water!

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