A return to model building and flying. Part 76

Note: if you follow any external links from this page that do not open in a separate page, use the browser back button to return to this page.

October 2012

What a difference the weather makes!

After a couple of year s of bordering on  deciding not to  enter the Nat's because I was  certainly not  enjoying  the  awful flying conditions, we were finally blessed with good weather. True there were some heavy showers on the Saturday afternoon, but I can live with that, especially as I had got my flights in for that day :)

Carrier had a very good entry as well, I don't know how many of those were on the day entries taking advantage of the weather, but it really doesn't matter if everyone had a good time. Oh what a joy to be bathed in sunshine on a calm day and place the model where I wanted to, not have the experience of holding an angry tiger by the tail, swinging round it, and expecting to get bitten at any moment! How was I doing at that point? I didn't care it was just fun chatting and watching what was going on. As always with the Nat's there is so much to see spread over such a large area, that unless you drive drive around or have  a particularly strong constitution, you aint going to see much. As competitor and travelling to and from the site every day, I'm at disadvantage in that respect, so didn't get any meaningful pictures.

Day 2 saw the unusual spectacle of the swap-meet being held in the open air, as the usual hangar was unavailable. The day before I had done a quick round of the trade tents, and noted with some alarm that there were no IC engines for sale. Only PAW turned up on the Sunday. If you want a an ARTF electric model there are hundreds to choose from. This does not make me rest easy.

The swap meet was the usual load of old rubbish with nothing that was much use to me. One incident did stand out though. I was browsing a ST34, it's a nice engine, I have one. The seller pounced. "Nice engine, never run." Hmm, I thought, that looks like carbon around the exhaust. "Good compression." he added. Again I thought, that's bit difficult to tell if hasn't got a plug in it, and I also know most of the tricks make an engine feel like it has compression. However this one did feel pretty good. The clincher for me was the, " Never been used," just as I turned it over and found myself staring at some prominent thread gouges on the transfer port side of the engine. With that I put it down and walked away. The stupid thing was, if the guy had been honest I would probably have bought it. Quite why people think they have to big up things to a ridiculous level in the mistaken belief they will sell something eludes me, or maybe there are just a lot of gullible people in the world?

The Sunday was glorious again and I just enjoyed being there, flying, watching the carrier event, talking to people, with the unearthly sound of pulse jets and speed models near by mingled with the sound of stunt models, teamrace heats and combat mayhem. it's about as close the heaven as I am likely to get. I can't imagine what it would be like if all you could get was electric motors; soulless. I think, I would hang up my handle for good!

I managed my first ever over 200 point score with a 207, and with the old Hellcat and British made Irvine 40. It's frustrating that I can't get the new OS made one to work. The end result was a 9th place out of a field of 28, just beating Rob Shultze of Germany, one of our welcome European contestants, by 0.3 points. He will never let me live that down. But don't worry Rob, you will probaly trounce me next time LOL.

Ian Gilbert managed to put in a staggering 280.3 points to win, but still has to go a bit to beat Jan Odyen's probably world record standing at 300, it that's possible at all?

All in all a weekend that that must have been the most successful UK Nat's for years, be interesting to know how many thousands of visitors turned up.

Old Warden

A couple of weeks later found me at Old Warden with another beautiful day. I can't believe my luck. Wasn't trying very hard so used the Bearcat with SC40, It's steady and reliable, except when I called an attempt and tried to restart it hot, they don't like that, then also forgot to fill the tank at the same time loosing me a flight. Duuhhh!

It's great pity that the Bearcat is such a crap kit/design, the model itself when airborne is quite stable. One day if I can work up the enthusiasm I may build another, but much simplified and built properly!

The rumours of the Old Warden meetings ceasing, seems to be unfounded, which is a blessing as they are something special. If you have never been, make the effort and see such line-ups as this magnificent bunch of vintage CL models.

vintage line up

hall racer

Whilst I was wandering about I came across this beautifully built and finished Frog 150 diesel powered Hall Racer CL model. It's rather special to me as it was a plan in the Eagle Book of Model Aircraft that I had as a child (I still have it). I used to gaze at it over and over again, and still do. If anything got me hooked on aeromodelling all those years ago it was that book, Ray Malmström has a lot to answer for. It's a totally impractical design, but boy oh boy does it look good! the one I build in my 20's was powered by a an old OS15. On short lines it flew.. just! Three times as big with a 60 to get some prop blade area outside the cowl and it might have chance of flying and landing reasonably?

And how's this for a comparison a 0.13 cc Mills 1.3 replica compared to a Nelson 2.5cc team race diesel. I was tempted to run off with both of them.

Mills replica and Nelson

Well that's another season out of the way for me; all that remains is to start on the new models. That's going to take an effort of will as you can see after the following tit bits I have, finally,  got round to placing here.


For those that don't know this already, the AMA has uploaded a collection of Model Aviation (about 300 issues) from 1975 onwards


At present it’s free access but will be restricted to AMA membership sometime in the future.


Again if you interested in carrier in the UK and  have no found it yet go here. , and my sincere apologies for not mentioning it for so long, this site deserves a lot  of support.



The following will be completely meaningless to any of you that are not interested in computers. I am only writing it to show where all my time goes and why modelling has been taking a back seat for some time. I you do read it, it may enlighten you a little, even if you don't understand or grasp what I am saying. If you don't read it, I won't lose any sleep :)


This is where it all happens

Virtual worlds and delving into the server side of my interests, is occupying huge amounts of my time, also when you get a broadband up grade supplied by that nice Mr Branson for freel, it's very welcome, I now have something that is insanely fast and soon to be even faster, how does 120Mb grab you? The down side was the suppied, made on the cheap, Netgear modem router, you wont find it listed on Netgear's website? took two solid days to get to work properly. That takes it out of you.

As I have often mentioned my main interests these days are split three ways: The Linux operating system and associated software, Virtual Worlds and  Aeromodelling. The first two are linked as I happen to use a Linux operating system to connect to these virtual worlds, and the third is also linked as I use a Linux system to maintain these web pages.

Now this all works reasonably well together most of the time, so I can concentrate on content creation for the cyber worlds I inhabit (and maybe if all is peaceful, even do a bit of modelling). This sounds fun, and it can be. If you are content to connect to a closed commercial grid like Second Life or the growing number of independent ones and eventually keep digging your hand deeper in your pocked. Closed means the access is controlled by the owners of the grid, and content is also controlled by them. If you purchase an object in such a grid, be it a space ship, a dress, or a beefy male avatar, you cannot take it out of that grid and use it in another. This is something I have strong feelings about but won't go into here.

I don't believe the future lies in closed grids, there are alternatives, and the most developed is the Opensim server which is almost the same software that Second Life uses to run their servers but nowhere near as refined. To cut a long story short anyone can install it on a PC and together with a standard viewer have their own little grid all to themselves. They can even be made accessible to the  outside world. Imagine a world where every PC has the capacity to let your friends, someone on the other side of the world wander round in your own pc and meet up with you there and visa versa. don't be fooled in thinking instant messaging, smart phones and facebook or online gaming, et al are doing this already, this is something completely different as there is no gaol to achieve and no prizes to be won. It's more akin to both you, and a friend who is sitting on the other side of the world, both simutaiiously wandering around the planet Mars together, terrafoming bit's of it and buiding a city in any way your imagination can think up and your knowledge will allow. Food for thought, and I can assure you that until you experience it, it means very little as mere words?

The normal method of getting around a big grid is to do what's know as 'teleporting', you literally click somewhere on a map of the grid and are transported to that location; but this can only be done in that grid! The technology already exists in it's early stages to teleport to any other grid, whilst keeping you appearance and belongings intact on the journey.

These concepts are very big in scope, and technically challenging. Most virtual users don't even think how this could affect how the internet could potentailly be used at some point in the future.

Having got interested in Opensim over two years ago after leaving Second life in a disgruntled Huff! then moving to an independent grid and saving a lot of money in the process. I had other issues; nothing to do with the management I might add, who's heart was in the right place. After that I manage to set up my own localised world using an Opensim sever, and then advance to connecting my Opensim server to the very big OSGrid, which is actually a test grid for the Opensim software. Cost, almost zero, only the electricity to keep my server running about 80W at a guess. BUT! The learning curve was horrendous, this not like just installing a piece of software and saying go! It's bit like a man from the NASA IT department turning up with satellite control software and leaving you to figure out how to use it. It involved learning how to configure it and set up a MYsQL database, something I have never done before in my life! Simple things are not done for you like off line email forwarding, It's not really needed, but I like to know by email if someone has left me a message inworld when I am not there, which involves also setting up an apache websever and php. things I had to go back to basics to learn how to do and I am still not finished, this was only touched upon on my OU course. Even controlling all that has to be learned. This is all server side stuff that normal users and mortals are not even aware of when they view a web page, send an email,  stuff something into the cloud, or watch an online video, the list is endless. This is what happens at the other end behind the scenes. But like all things the the hard graft brings understanding and rewards: basically being almost totally independent of any commercial interest and mistress of my own destiny, at least for what I want to accomplish, and for now at least.


Three weeks ago:

Because my server is an OSGrid customised Opensim server, the updates are frequent, about once a month. As I wanted to incorporate all the other stuff I needed, it seemed like a  good time to do everything by install it all on separate drive then  just swap the hardware  I use a separate PC just for the server which runs 24/7 to allow access to anyone that that visits OSGrid to have access to my world. So down time is something I don't want.

I decided to upgrade the Opensim server and also install a LAMP server alongside it to handle the offline message forwarding in the process, it was all set up on another PC hardrive then swapped with the online server. This took a week a week of patient reading up and finding out how to do things. But the end result was successful. and about 15 minutes work to do the swap.

Two weeks ago:

Just as I was mentally patting myself on the back, and thinking about starting on the new carrier model.

I am stuck between having to use two types of viewer for virtual worlds, basically an old one that works reasonably reliably but is getting very old and soon will not be of any use. The newer ones that can handle advanced server features but have  problems of their own.

Suddenly I discover a load of bugs in the newer one I am using that irritate the hell out of me. I spend a week isolating them and compling evidence then submitting the bugs to the issue tracker trying to supply information to the developers of the software to help then find solutions. They are helpful and generally I get it back to usable state, also knowing that some of the bugs have been taken onboard and been worked on is comforting, hopefully they will be fixed in the next release There is pretty quick release cycle so it will be fixed in the very near future

One week ago:

Finally I think I might get some peace to think about this new model.

The Linux desktop has gone through some horrendous changes of late with the major players altering them to work on tablet PC's. All well and good, but a desktop PC is not a tablet, this has led to a lot of upset people and attempts to make alternatives (to alternatives that already exist). Windows 8 is made like this and I wonder how many people will feel the same way about that? One thing is for sure, the only choices they will have if they don't like it, are switch to a flavour of Linux, a Mac, or stick with what they have now until Microsoft axe it then be forced to use what you have no choice about. I use an updated forked version of a Linux desktop that everyone relied on and was very reliable, the the original project has dropped in favour of an all singing all dancing, shiny-shiny, half works  direction to go in. The old one was taken over by a new team of developers and improved, that's what I am using, So things are ticking along.... not perfect, but nothing ever is.

Suddenly, I have a Gigabyte of updates arrive down the pipe. which I then 'rashly' try to apply. This was a 'Version' upgrade, that means operating system, everything that makes everything else run, and the desktop, all at the same time, the equivalent of Microsoft going from Windows Vista to Windows 7, With Linux this can happen twice a year with some distributions, such is pace of change, There is no compulsion to do these upgrades, in fact it's recommended that you stick with what you have if it works, but that little button is so tempting when you know that something will work better in the end. These were not run of the mill ordinary updates. The Result:- the bulk still works, but two virtual viewers I rely on have stopped working. In the grand scheme of thing a success..... but from a  personal point of view a disaster :(

There followed three solid days of trying to get the old set-up restored and working again with it fighting me at every turn, I use Mint Debian, but it's been tweaked quite a lot which doesn't help. I could just bung in Ubuntu, or the the standard Ubuntu based Linux Mint and they would work fine, but all the customized things I have done to my set up for it to work the way I want would not!. I manage it in the end, but nearly lost my sanity in the process. I have also re-learned that old lesson, "If in doubt DON'T!"

Last Night:

I suddenly realise I have not got the web page upload ready. I'm confident that all I have to do is add a few links and that's it?

After recovering from the Nats and then all this messing about, I have not even got the magazine images ready. With my back to the wheel and two hours of automated work, I get the images into the required state and size. That is until I try to to open the web pages in a web bowser to check them..........?


I go to bed.


They look fine in an editor, or image viewer, but all washed out in any web browser. These are not my scans but ones kindly sent by other people in various formats and sizes, which I then have to manipulate into a usable form. This can sometimes take as long as scanning a magazine myself. There is no software that will automatically rotate and image to correct a twisted scan, or crop a lot of images that show potions of the adjacent page, or compensate for faded colours or yellowing pages that vary for covers to centre pages; that all has to be done by hand and individually.  I may seem a bit crabby about people sending me stuff at times, but truth is, if not scanned properly in the first instance, they can sometimes be more trouble then they are worth.

This was such a case, in changing from jpeg files to png, it had somehow messed with the grey scale images in a way the browsers didn't like (or there recent upgrades have introduced some new problem); strangely the colour was OK. In the end it was a case of loading around 150 images and saving them all again one at a time to correct the problem. And I still can't get the thumbnails right? ........................I was time to say Sod it! That will have to do!

So a whole afternoon disappeared, and this is where all my time goes..... and also why I don't have time to be bored. Now you know!

To get these frustrations out of my system I watch daft stuff like this, this first one has me chuckling ever time I watch it. If I was a gamer ii would be queuing up to buy it.  If you are sensitive about senseless cartoon violence accompanied  a catchy tune, DON'T WATCH IT! You have been warned.

And this has to be  a Classic. I defy you not to laugh!

Part 75left        right Part 77

Back to the beginning of the saga