Brian Johnson

Ah, the VIP. Some time ago I obtained one of these Speed 400 pylon racers. Very nice. There are 9 bits in the kit, 1 wing, 1 fuselage, 1 elevator servo mount, 2 screws to hold it in, 1 elevator pushrod (already set to length in my case), 2 aileron pushrods (they need adjusting on the screw thread for length) and 1 wing bolt.

The wing is fully moulded with a very good finish; the tailplane and fin also glass skinned balsa are already mounted on the fuselage, and the whole thing feels very light. This model is designed to use Nano servos or their equivalent. Luckily for me I had two on the shelf (a fairly rare occurrence as I usually have the ones I don't need). As I said earlier, this model is designed for a Speed 400. I haven't got one of those on the shelf, so put the aeroplane away, do something else and ponder the problem (who is going to get my fiver).

Difficult one to solve this as a couple of weeks went by before an idea came into my head. The plan was formulated. In for a penny, in for a pound. Motor, speed controller, and Rx were now decided.

The Rx was to be a Schultze mini alpha 435 (£29.00 approx, PLUS £9.00 for a mini crystal) but I was assured that this was a full range 9 gram Rx. For those of you unfamiliar with this it is about 30mm long, the width of two servo plugs, and the thickness of the same two plugs. Looked awfy wee to me!

As for the power train, well, I just happened to have a 45 amp brushless speed controller not paying for it's keep, but unfortunately to use it I needed a brushless motor. When changing from brushed to brushless, the motor can size reduces, but to get one of the small can motors meant a Hacker B20 or similar. Light, fast, but circa 70 quid. Rapid thinking now, a glimmer of light, Mega 16-15- 3 wind!!!! The same size as a speed 400, 3000 rpm/volt, only 48 quid, that'll do nicely.

I know you're not supposed to do this sort of thing but this is my toy, not a serious model at all, just a bit of fun.

Oops, nearly forgot, 7 cells will be a bit sluggish, go for 10 x 500AR's.

Now this here VIP only takes an hour or so to assemble ready to go, so get on with it. First fit motor and ESC, drill the elevator servo mount and fit the servo and pushrod, this whole bit is then wangled into the fuselage and screwed to the side (holes already drilled), shove the Rx into the tailboom beside the elevator servo and fit the power supply. WRONG! The damn battery pack will not fit. Much scratching of head, more hair falls out. The only solution is to start again (don't you love it when a plan comes together).

So the assembly time just went into overtime, back to the start. First fit the 10 cell pack that caused all this trouble, push that as far back as possible and the motor will only just fit through the gap. Only just is good enough for me, motor and ESC mounted, battery pushed as far forward as it will go, and the real neat trick is the Chinese puzzle of how to get the elevator servo and pushrod in. Believe me it's not hard once you've practised a bit. Rx in last and the fuselage is finished.

Next sort out the wing, drill 2 servo screw holes in the nicely moulded mount, fit the servo and pushrods, adjust for length and we can now set it all up ready to go and test fly. Don't ask where the CG is, it's immobile, but the truth is about 3mm too far back and I can live with that.

I set the elevator movement to about 2mm each way, and the ailerons about 3mm each way and hoped that would do. Prop is a Graupner Cam speed 5.5 x 4.3, so charge off to the field and charge the model. Will it work? How fast will it go? It's very small, will I be able to see it OK? What if it's slow? All of these and more questions going around my head while that 500AR pack takes what seems like a fortnight to charge.

To repeat myself, in for a penny...... fully charged, launcher at the ready, range is OK (that was a surprise), nothing left but - what WAS the name of that Indian? Then it was gently moving away from the launch with steady acceleration until about 30 feet away, then -- WARP 9!

Yes it's fun. It seems quite rapid, and I almost forgot, I had to fit a 0.5mm trim tab about 30mm long on the underside of one tip to counteract the torque roll. The performance really is good, but I will leave that to Mr. Barnes to describe. He who refused to fly it at the Scottish Nationals.