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Hi-Performance and Sailplanes RC hotliners, electric pylon racers, F5B, F5D, sailplanes and gliders

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Old 01-28-2013, 01:49 AM   #1
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Default transparent film covering,does it help for visabilty or just cosmetic

getting ready to cover the bot sail plane and a lot of the ones if seen have transparent covering. is this just for the beauty of seeing the ribs or does daylight shining through the wing make it more visible when way high up.

my skimmer looks the same top and bottom when a shadow outline with no colors standing out. the patterns are bold strips on the bottom and sunburst on the topside.....both look dark and colorless when high.

i bought the last roll of transparent red monocoat at the lhs ,but realize i will need 2 rolls just to do the 118inch ws of the bot. i'm almost tempted to add black to the bottom so it stands out on a sunny or cloudy day.

so if your using transparent covering please share if the visibility is better than all dark. what transparent color is most visible? thanks,gang. stu

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:37 PM   #2
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It all depends on conditions. Nothing is perfect all the time. I usually do transparent. It does weigh less if you obsess about weight.
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:59 PM   #3
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I cover the bottom in something dark and put accent stripes on it to make it easier to see. High contrast colors are easier to see.

I think transparent colors are just to show off.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:09 PM   #4
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Hi Stuart!

I wish I had more than one flight on my Chrysalis with the trans. purple before putting it into a tree... Anyway, my Dandy has a trans red wing and I can't say that I've ever noticed that it is any easier to see while up high. Maybe while under some specific conditions when light bounces off the internal structure just right.... I wanted the trans. covering on my Chrysalis just for the looks.

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Old 01-29-2013, 01:04 AM   #5
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I have covered the outboard side of polyhedral tip section ribs with chrome Monokote and then used transparent over the tip section. At high altitude you can get some very visible flashes at times.
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:51 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by stuart View Post
getting ready to cover the bot sail plane and a lot of the ones if seen have transparent covering. is this just for the beauty of seeing the ribs or does daylight shining through the wing make it more visible when way high up.

my skimmer looks the same top and bottom when a shadow outline with no colors standing out. the patterns are bold strips on the bottom and sunburst on the topside.....both look dark and colorless when high.

i bought the last roll of transparent red monocoat at the lhs ,but realize i will need 2 rolls just to do the 118inch ws of the bot. i'm almost tempted to add black to the bottom so it stands out on a sunny or cloudy day.

so if your using transparent covering please share if the visibility is better than all dark. what transparent color is most visible? thanks,gang. stu
Back in the middle 1980's I built up two Viking 10 foot wingspan sailplanes. Both of them were covered with transparent yellow. When the sun hit those wings, they lit up like a stop sign. Those two models were by far the most visible in the club I belonged to back then.

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Old 01-29-2013, 12:47 PM   #7
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Yes, sometimes it works superbly, and other times not as well. It does make it much easier to inspect for damage.
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Old 02-04-2013, 11:26 PM   #8
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I find it hard to maintain orientation of a plane that is covered in transparent covering. I have two and I am thinking of recovering one of them.

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Old 02-05-2013, 01:49 AM   #9
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I have tried it. I found that once the plane is a couple of hundred feet away, the fact that it was transparent made no difference to visibility at all.

I now use high-visibility colours that aren't often found in the sky - no whites or blues.

Red, yellow, green work well. I put a stripe of checkerboard pattern in black on the underside of one wing. Helps with orientation. You may not see the colour, but you may notice the pattern.
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:50 AM   #10
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thanks for the suggestions gang,I've decided to return the trans red color film an buy something bright for the top of the bot and monocoat solid red for the bottom surfaces.

my experience with the skimmer 600 is the same as everyones described ,but even with broad stripes in florescent colors i couldn't see patterns way up high...one really has to pay attention to orientation rather than counting on film patterns or guessing which way the birds going.

that said,i may do some sort of broad stripe panels on the top of the wing for looks at lower altitudes.....but the bottom will be a solid dark color that isn't the same color as blue sky or white clouds...lol...[red it is].

thanks again! next to do on the bot is the spoilers ,then it's time to cover.

narrow is the place to land...wide is the space to crash....choose the narrow way!
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Old 02-05-2013, 12:37 PM   #11
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I use solid on the fuselage and forward of the wing spar. If the tail surfaces are solid, I also use solid. The leading edge of the wing should be a light color so it can be seen against the trees while landing.
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:46 AM   #12
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When flying sailplanes Ive stopped relying on color to maintain orientation. At long distances ALL colors and ALL patterns and ALL contrasts are invisible to the naked eye. Its just going to be a dark spec out there.

Unless your doing wild aerobatics - which I dont tend to do with my sailplanes at extreme altitudes - all you have to do if you loose orientation is think "What was it doing 2 seconds ago?" Chances are its still doing exactly the same thing on exactly the same course or in exactly the same turn.

So if you loose orientation in a turn as it comes around head on to you and disappears for a second or so, just remember what it WAS doing and you will know what it IS doing now

Also, assuming the model is trimmed for positive stability in all axis, just let go of the sticks and wait - the model will take care of itself shortly.

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Old 02-07-2013, 12:48 PM   #13
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Colors are more important near the ground while landing.
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:06 PM   #14
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I could see this one okay,, sure was and is a pretty thing, built it 20 years ago, bubsteve


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Old 02-07-2013, 11:01 PM   #15
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It's really a personal thing. Everyone's eyes are going to see things differently, and just to make it even more compicated everyone's brain is going to interperate what their eyes see diffrently as well. However it's a fact that no mater howit's covered at a certain altitude your plane is going to be nothing more than a speck of indeterminate color (usualy black) Because it reflects rather that transmits light, an opaque coloring will do this at a lower altitude than a transparent one.

As to which colors are the most visable, that too is up to the person. Many fliers will swear against this combination, but the most visible plane I have ever seen was/is a small (20" WS) electic Lil' Rascal. The fuse and sheeted parts of the wing were opaque white, the ribbed setions of the wings Trans. blue! Yet no matter how far away it was or whatever color the background was, clear sky, cloud or trees, I never lost sight of it or it's orientation. Go figure.

My recommendation? If you are a member of a club, or just know of a place where you can watch other people fly model aircraft go and watch for a while. If you notice a plane or planes that are particularly visible to you, take note of how they are covered.

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Teach a man to build a plane and he'll fly for a lifetime"
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:04 AM   #16
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thanks for the suggestions and advise,I've flown the skimmer 600 to the speck in the sky height and know its all about keeping ones focus .the first high flights had me nervous and always watching closer than needed . now i relax and sit back in a chair for the search of thermals. our club field is located on top of a hill above tree line ,but the suggestion to keep the wings Le bright is a good idea.

the only reason i asked about transparent covering is because I've never used it and most all the bird of time kit builds i see on line are covered in trans covering. I'm already decided on red for most of the bot and possibly a large decal design on the top side of the wing just to dress it up a bit. still going to be a while till covering starts.

narrow is the place to land...wide is the space to crash....choose the narrow way!
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Old 02-08-2013, 04:07 AM   #17
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Just realized I didnt answer the original question

The "general consensus" is that dark solid colors on the bottom of the wing work best for visibility at a distance. However, as you have seen, opinions vary

Like I said, I dont worry about that any more. I cover for esthetics instead of visibility and just make sure I know what the plane is doing. I havent lost orientation in a long time. of course, that may be because Im a lazier flyer than I used to be too

My newest bird is an E Bubble Dancer and its covered in 100% trans Ultracoat lite. The other model I spec out often is my Mirage. It has some solid dark colors on the bottom of the center section and i cant honestly say it helps that much.





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