Monday, July 31, 2017

The Ridekick Power Trailer For My Velomobile Arrives!

Great news this week for the workshop!  It was just like Christmas this week with the arrival of the new Ridekick power trailer for the velomoble.  Here is what it looks like and how it will look once I get the modifications made to it for this project.

This is the latest and greatest from the Ridekick company.  I was very happy to see some changes had been made to the design or at least the color scheme with the trailer.  All of the images I had seen of the trailer online had the framework of the trailer painted in orange!  Not a color that I was particularly fond of as it would not look good with the red and white velomobile.  The body of the little trailer also has been changed with it now being a beige color instead of a light gray.  I could have lived with the gray but again I plan on making a color change there as well so this is not an issue.

The little trailer sitting here on my work table stands 16" tall, 39" long, and 24" wide sporting nicely chromed five spoked 12.5"  wheels.

 The cargo capacity of the trailer has a very spacious  41.8 liters for such a little carrier.  Mark Wanger the CEO of Ridekick International told me when I visited with him on my recent motorcycle trip to Colorado that he was able to carry at least three bags of groceries in the power trailer.   With a carrying capacity of 75 pounds this is one nice little hauler.  The trailer also has a 500 watt electric motor using a LifePO4 30Ah lithium battery with a range of 35 - 40 miles.

But with all of this goodness I am still planning on making changes to better fit my vision of the little trailer for use with my velomobile.

This is my vision of the conversion that I will do on the little trailer.  With the trailer frame already being black instead of orange in color it has saved me a bunch of work to get the trailer in the shape that you see here.  I will only have to paint the body of the trailer starting with the bottom tub.  This I plan on painting gloss black.  I was worried about the process of dismantling the trailer for painting until I saw it first hand.  There are only a three screws that hold the tube to the metal frame along with few more that hold the electrical controller for the battery set up.  The wiring unplugs easily and is idiot proof so there is no worries that I will mess things up in prepping the trailer for  paint.

As is most obvious the color of the trailer will be changed to a nice bright red with a white racing stripe for the lid and of course the addition of color matched fenders and new rear reflectors.

I have the mounts for the new reflectors already 3D printed and am prepping them now as of this writing for paint.  Once I get them all put together along with the new trailer hitch that has come together for the velo I will post about them when I am farther along with them soon.  In the meantime enjoy the latest update and plans for this great addition for the velomobile!

Monday, July 24, 2017

My Radius T-T Velomobile Will Get Power Assist!

Hard to believe it's been three years since I completed my velomobile project.  In all this time it has been sitting mostly covered up in my garage to keep it as clean as possible.  It has seen very few miles in all that time simply because of circumstances mostly out of my control.  Major hour renovation, street reconstruction,  just to name a couple of big things that have kept the velo sequestered to a corner in my garage all this time.  

But things are about to change rather quickly now as I have placed an order for an electric assist to be used with the velo that will help me finally get the project out of the garage and on to the street after way to many years of sitting idle. 

One of the main problems in adding electric assist to the velo was simply finding something that would fit inside of the body shell, be easy to install, have decent power and rand plus be cost effective. These issues have been sorted out with the finding of a small powered trailer that is currently on order for the velo from the Ridekick company located in Fort Collins Colorado.  

The reason for my recent motorcycle trip to Colorado was to speak with Mark Wanger the designer of the trailer and owner of Ridekick International.  I met up with Mark shortly after I arrived in Ft. Collins and we set down and discussed his little lithium powered trailer.  I had contacted him last winter about the idea of using the trailer to help climb hills with my velomobile.  Velo's are notoriously slow going up hill as are most recumbent trikes as well so the idea of have a power assisted trailer seemed like a good idea.  Mark agreed with me on that so I was very happy to get his approval.  He had been reading my blog and seen the velomobile and thought I was on the right track.  

In the photo above you can see how small the trailer is.  Inside is a rechargeable lithium battery capable of moving an average person at speeds reaching 20 mph up to 35-40 miles on a standard bicycle.  This will change of course with the weight of the rider, the size of the hills, and of course the weight of the bicycle.  In my case the velomobile adds even more weight so the range I suspect will never reach the 35-40 mile mark.  I would be happy with half that distance as I need it mainly for climbing hills.

Another plus to the trailer over an above making things easier to move up hills is the fact that the trailer also has a generous amount of cargo space even with the battery installed.  I asked Mark at Ridekick about this and he said that you can easily hold three bags of groceries inside the trailer.  So it will be a plus again with the velo's limited storage capacity.

Also as you can see from the photo above the trailer is attached to the rear axle of the bicycles.  This was and issue for the velomobile as access to the rear axle is limited due to the body of the velo being in the way.  The tongue of the trailer would hit the body either in trying to hook it up or making a turn with it even if you could get it attached.

This will be the solution to the velo trailer hitch problem.  In the image above is the new hitch that I have designed for the new trailer that will move the mounting point rearward to allow easy access for connecting the trailer to the velo.  I spoke with Mark about the design and he again saw no problem with the setup so this will be the plan of action when I want to use the trailer. 

I had planned ahead with this portion of the project and completed construction of the velo hitch last winter.  The hitch arm is made up of several layers of plywood wrapped in fiberglass and then painted gloss black.  I have done this type of construction on earlier projects and the mount is very strong.  I think I could run over it with a car and still not break it.   The mounting holes have already been drilled into the arm for the steel vertical mounts so now it is just a matter of getting it put on to the velomobile.  This will take a little work but nothing that will be a real issue.

While visiting with Mark I made the remark that the trailer would be even better if it had fenders.  Mark said he had not gotten around to working on that idea but it had crossed his mind as well.  So this will be the first order of business once I get the trailer into my hands.  Pictured above is what my trailer would look like after I get the new fenders made for it.  The body will be painted red with a white racing stripe to somewhat match the color scheme that I have going on with the velo.  Along with possibly painting the tub and tongue black.  This part of the plan all depends on how difficult it will be to disassemble the trailer for painting.  Something I will not find out about again until it arrives in my hands.

The fenders  will be made of fiberglass with small reflectors at the rear. The fenders could even have signal lights on them but for now the reflectors will do nicely.  The signal lights could easily be added later if I decide to go that route. There are 3D printed mounts that will hold the fender to the hood of the trailer that will need to be made.  But I see no real issue again with this portion of the design. Again it will take some time but the design is simple enough to make and get the look that I have shown here.  Also the weight that will be added to the trailer is minimal so this will not be a problem either.

The plus side to having the fenders mounted to the hood is that should either tire need to be repaired because of a flat the fender will not need to be removed to fix it.  

I sent the these images of the trailer with my fender design to Mark at Ridekick and he once again has give a big thumbs up on the design.  So I now just have to wait hopefully only a few more weeks and I will get started on my upgrades to the trailer.  This will finally help me get the velo out of the garage and moving down the road after all the delays I've had over the years. When the trailer arrives and I start construction of the new fenders, paint and what not I will get another update put out. 

For those of you who are interested, here is a link to the Ridekick site for more information about this wonderful little trailer.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mitchell U-2 R/C Plane Project Pt. 4

I wanted to get this out today as the R/C plane project has started to really take shape.  So with that in mind I am still hopeful that this project will literally get off the ground someday soon.  Here is where I am at with it as of this morning.

After my recent motorcycle trip to Colorado I was overjoyed to receive more filament for my 3D printer so that I could complete the construction of the fuselage for the plane.  Pictured above is the front and back halves of the fuselage.  The rear section with the blue tape on it had been curing over night so now I was ready to join the two parts.

These two photos of the final assembly of the fuselage worked out rather nicely as the 3D printed parts only need to be held together with a couple of small clamps while the last joint of the fuselage was epoxied and again cured over night.  The fuselage shown above is 16.5 inches long 4.5 inches tall and 4 inches wide where the wing meets the fuselage.  Lots of room inside for extra weight to be added so that I can get it balanced for it for glider test flights.

I then only had to put the canopy on the fuselage and insert the pins installed in the wings into the mounting holes on the fuselage.  It looks pretty impressive already.  With a wingspan of 68 inches and total weight at this point at 2 pounds I am more than happy with the end result even if it is just a static model so far.  The 3D printed parts (fuselage, canopy, wing root edges and the wing tip vertical stabilizers) took 40 hours to make with my 3D printer.

I blocked up the plane on both side to get this shot and looking at it I think that would be exactly where the main landing gear would be mounted.  

I have the fuselage and the canopy pretty well smoothed out at this point. The wings and the fuselage I will not paint until I am sure it actually flies.  No point in going crazy over making it look pretty at this stage of the project.  That can wait till later if all goes as planned.

Inside of the fuselage the wings are held on with some odd shaped washers that I found at my local builders store a couple of weeks ago.  I think they will work out pretty well to hold the wings on when I do the test flights. They are a nice snug fit so I would be really surprised if the wings moved much at all when mounted this way.

I still will have to work out the details of mounting the canopy to the fuselage.  I plan on using magnetic mounts for this part of the construction.  I ordered the neodymium magnets I need a couple of days ago and I suspect it will be next week before I have them in my hands. In the meantime I will work out the 3D printed mounts for the magnets so I can install have them ready when the magnets do arrive. 

Once I get everything assembled I plan on shooting video of the first test flights.  I say flights in the hope that the plane will actually fly.  It could be test crashes for all I know.  Actually I think I have a pretty good shot at getting the project off the ground. I will have to balance the plane so the center of gravity is correct then I will have much better odds of actually getting the plane to fly. 

I flew  large R/C gliders years ago so I have a pretty good idea of how the plane should be set up to fly.  The gliders I flew had wingspans of over 7 feet.  I loved flying them so now to have a model of the actually plane that I built will be even better yet.  Hopefully it will all work out in the end.  Again as before I am still keeping my fingers crossed on the this project just to be on the safe side. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Mitchell U-2 R/C Project Update Once Again!

Sorry for not posting anything over the past couple of weeks. I have been on a major road trip this past week doing research on parts for another project that will be happening very soon.  I don't want to get into it at this point but I am sure a lot of you who read my blog regularly will be excited by the project when I do post it in the coming weeks.  So let me get you caught up at least on the Mitchell U-2 Project.

As most of you have already read in the past couple of posts I have been working on a R/C model of the airplane that I built years ago called the Mitchel U-2.  A 34 foot wingspan flying wing.  I have not found any models of my plane so I decided to try and make a radio controlled model of it myself.  I was finally able to get back to work on the project today.

Here once again is an image of what the R/C plane will look like once it is completed.  It will have a 68" wingspan. 1/6th scale of the full sized plane.  If all the test models work out ok this will be the end result of my efforts.

Here is the canopy that I have pretty well smoothed out.  I will have to do some wet sanding yet on this part and figure out the magnetic mounts that I will need to hold it in place for the plane but so far I am very happy with the shape and smoothness of the part.

Here the first two sections of the fuselage have been joined together.  I used epoxy/micro-balloon mixture at the joint along with several layers of fiber-glass on the inside to hold the nose section securely in place.  I will use the same process on the remaining two sections of the fuselage to put it all together. It should do the trick nicely.

This is one of the inner wing sections being assembled with the mid-wing section.  Again I used the epoxy/micro-balloon mixture to join these parts together.  The sanding block was laid on top of the inner wing section just to hold it flat against the table while the putty mixture dried.  You can see a small piece of wood on the outer edge of the of this assembly.  This will keep this wing section tipped up at the right angle while the resin mixture cures.

Here is a view of the opposite wing with the outer wing section and wing tip being attached to the inner and mid sections of the wing.  Again pieces of wood were used to hold the outer wing tip at the correct angle so the dihedral on the wing could be created and matched on both sides of the plane.

Once the wings assemblies had cured properly I was able to take these four shots of the wing to show you what dihedral is. With the wing tips tipped upward as you can see in the photos the wing becomes more stable and the plane will want to fly level.  I had to place a small 2 X 4 piece of wood where the fuselage would be to keep the inner wing section flat against the work table.  Then the wing tips would be in the right orientation as shown in the photos.

In order to hold the wings on to the fuselage I needed to mark and drill two holes in each wing to hold dowel pins for this task.  I used my drill press and managed to get the 1/2" holes drilled accurately as I could. Surprisingly drilling Styrofoam worked.

I drilled the holes four inches deep and then secured the pins in place using the epoxy/micro-balloon mixture once again.  I poured enough of this mixture into the holes and then slid the pins into place so they could cure overnight.

To make sure the pins would match up exactly with the mounting holes that will be in the sides of the fuselage I 3D printed an exact template of the fuselage side where the airfoil shape meets the wing.  The holes are exactly the same in the template and the fuselage.  Should work perfectly.

After the mounting pins had been installed and cured I mounted an additional 3D printed plate that will match up with an identical surface on each side of the fuselage.  This will help make the end of the inner wing safer from accidental damage due to either flying or even assembling the wings to the plane.   

Lastly I decided to add a 3 ounce layer of fiberglass over the joints where the wing sections meet.  It will add very little weight and give the wing much more strength when flying the model.  

I just received an order for more 3D printer plastic today so I will be able to continue my work on the fuselage.  Hopefully I can get this completed in the coming week and get the glider test model ready for it's first flight.  I also have figured out the center of gravity (CG) for the plane so this will help a lot in making sure that the plane is neither nose or tail heavy. 

I don't plan on covering the wing at this point.  Hopefully I will have some successful test flights for the glider version.  Once this works out then I will figure out battery, radio, and servo locations and get that all working properly.  So one step at a time.  Once I am certain that all will work out as planned then I will think about possibly covering the wing to make it even stronger and give it a nice finished look.  Again just will have to see how testing goes on the glider version first.  Keep your fingers crossed.