I thought I'd post some build photos and progress on my current project, the Stevens AeroModel G400x Stella. Back in March Stevephoon started posting his build of an SA G-480 Groove. Along the way he passed along the info that Stevens AeroModel was having a 15% off sale. Since I'd been hankering to build one of their 300, 400, or 480 series kits for some time, and since I happen to have a young granddaughter named Stella, it seemed the perfect time to grab one!
I've been busy with a few repair projects and various other things, so I'm only now getting a real start on the Stella. As others have described before, the SA kits are first rate, with excellent laser cutting and extremely well thought out part design. They use keyed joints that fit together perfectly, and allow assemblies to be dry fitted first, then you go back over the joints with thin CA. The system works so well that building over the plans is often pretty much optional.
Here is a pic of the "Box Art" and few illustrating the laser cutting and keying of the joints.
As you can tell, I've started with the tail feathers. A few more details on these parts in the next post.
Framing up the tail feathers of this SA Stella goes really quickly. Hats off to Mr. Stevens for doing his design work so well with the keyed and precisely fitting joints. So far it almost doesn't feel like building, i.e., "When do I get to start scratching my head?". Seriously though, this kit is a pleasure to build, and could be a perfect, non-intimidating kit for a first time builder. I believe all of SA's kits are similar in this regard.
A nice element is the design of the elevator joiner. Small aluminum tube bushings are provided that are captured within cut-outs in each elevator half then covered over on both sides with pieces of lite-ply. These bushings then receive a U-shaped elevator joiner wire in the usual way, but are much stronger, more durable, and more precise than the common "drill and glue" approach. The photos below illustrate this better than my words.
At this point I just need to sand the leading edges to shape and cut the hinge slots. I don't remember off-hand if SA provided any hinge material, if not I'll probably cut some from old floppy disc material. Then it's on to the fuselage!
Quick little tip: Using CA, assemblies sometimes stick to the wax paper a little. Rather than lifting and risking breaking the part, I slide a thin steel rule under to break any stray bonds.
The tail construction looks the same as the G480 Groove. I finally got a couple of real flights in on the Groove last week. It's a great flying plane, even when there is still some wind. That part surprised me, because it's such a light weight plane. 1st plane I've been able to get into a flat spin.
I bet the Stella will be a good flyer as well.
Also.... I have the other emax 2215/25 (950 kv) in my Stevephoon 3D bashed plane. It's been nearly indestructable.. Many mishaps and nose first landings, but never any issues with the motor. It must be 4 to 5 years old now as well. It's also slightly overpropped....
Good info Steve, Thanks! It does look like a pretty nice motor.
My best aerobat to date has been the Formosa, and while standard spins and snaps are great it seems that no one is able to get one of those into a flat spin, and certainly not me! I'm hopeful the Stella will be able to do them, and based on your experience I'd be surprised if she can't.
Been a little busy this week but hope to get some more building done this weekend.
I made some decent headway on the fuselage this weekend. The wind was blowing like stink this morning, so if I couldn't fly I could at least build! There is not a lot to comment on as far as the build goes, as this kit continues to fall together exactly according to plan. The fuse isn't finished yet, but here is a sequence of photos showing the progress.
All the parts for one fuselage side laid out, and assembled.
I really like the Stevens Aeromodel planes, I am building a Heath UMB-41 micro and the fuse went together like a 3D puzzle. Didn't use a building board or plans, just a flat desk. I will be looking for another SA model soon.
I'm either going to get good at flying em, or get good at fixin em!
The last major step of building the fuselage is sheeting the upper portion forward of the cockpit, along with the separately framed battery hatch.
Here you can see the formers and keel pieces in place that support the 1/32 sheeting. The hatch frame is also sitting there.
The sheeting is laser cut to size, and each piece is marked with an arrow to indicate orientation. Like everything else in this kit, they fit perfectly. The bottom edge is tacked in place, then the piece is wrapped to the former and the center keel. You can see how nice the fit is, leaving a little bit of gluing surface for the mating piece on the other side.
Voila! One basic fuselage. All it needs at this point is final sanding, the addition of a small skeg that the tailwheel mounts to, and the motor mount. This is one fast building kit, especially considering I'm not spending as much time building now as I might in the wintertime. Almost time to start on the wing.
Got a start on building Stella's wing over the weekend. The pictures here represent probably less than an hour of total work, but scattered over many short sessions - all those summertime distractions getting in the way!
No need to build over the plans to get this wing straight. The carefully designed keying of the parts and precise laser cutting take care of alignment. I admit it feels a little strange if you're used to traditional stick building, but the system works out very well. On the other hand, if the design and execution of the kit were sloppy it could be a nightmare, but that's not the case. And the plans are there to fall back on if needed.
Ribs lined up along the spar.
The aileron servos will go into these nice little pockets built into the wing.
The basic structure of the wing. At this point the only glue used was to join the individual sections of the spar, cap strips, and trailing edge. Otherwise at this point everything is a friction fit, allowing all the parts to move and settle into alignment before final glueing.
Thanks for the feedback, John. It really is a nice build that goes together quickly. If it were wintertime I'd probably already be flying it, but this time of year the time spent at the build table goes way down! By the 4th of July is possible, but I'll be away that week so I'd have to be flying before that!
No build thread is complete without a few pics of the completed airframe prior to covering. So here we are, the current state of the Stella build. The wheels are from my GWS P-38, exactly the same style as the kit wheels but a little bigger, so better for the rough grass field I fly from.
This continues to be a very pleasurable build. I'll be covering it with SolarFilm (AeroFilm), which will be my first time with that though I have used Solite. I expect I'll like the SolarFilm better. Then I'll really start looking forward to getting this bird in the air!
Well, I know this build's gone quiet over the last month, but I haven't fallen off the world! I had a week away after the last post, and have another starting tomorrow. Just before leaving for the first trip my flying buddy Chris, who mostly flies RC helis, corrupted me with a freebie Blade MSR micro heli. This led quickly to a new-in-box Thunder Tiger Mini Titan 450 with running gear, servos, gyro, and receiver scored off of E-bay. Building that and learning about heli set-up and flying has been a fun and interesting diversion for the past couple of weeks. It really is quite a change of pace from airplanes, and a steep learning curve. But it's flying well and I can now take-off, hover, and land fairly reliably. After I get back from this next trip I'll be looking forward to getting the Stella covered and rigged for flying. More in a week or two!
I have been making some progress on the Stella lately. The wing is basically finished, covered and with the ailerons hinged and servos installed. I just need to add the links out to the control horns. I'll also probably add some black stripes or something to the bottom for visual contrast. I also got the fin and rudder covered and hinged last night.
What are you using for covering. I used the SoLite/AeroLite type coverings on my G-480, but I don't think there is an orange in that. Like you are thinking, I also need to add some black (or something) to the bottom of mine. The transparent red on the wings just doesn't cut it for orientation.
Steve - I used Solarfilm/Aerofilm sourced from SA. I'm finding it much nicer to work with than Solite/Aerolite, and not much heavier, certainly not enough to worry about on this size airplane. The backing is easier to get off, and it's not always trying to curl around and stick to itself! better selection of colors too. Like Solite though it shrinks up nicely (I use a heat gun after bonding the perimeter with the iron). Very forgiving of a few extra wrinkles, they'll shrink away without problem (within reason of course).
Thanks for the compliment John. Try some Solarfilm. It'll make you look good!
Continuing the summertime pattern of less than regular building sessions, but I got the tail feathers and fuselage covered over the weekend. Now it's just down to mounting the elevator halves, final assembly, and installing the radio and running gear stuff. Unfortunately the camera didn't render the fuselage color very faithfully, it's a much crisper green than it appears here.
The plans call for a pull-pull rudder. That will be a first for me, but I don't anticipate any particular difficulties with it.
I've got the Stella all finished up and ready to fly. If the weather holds as forecast I hope to get the maiden flown tomorrow morning. Here are a few final detail pics and some poor attempts at beauty shots.
The Stella uses a rear mounted external servo with a push-pull linkage on the elevator, while the rudder uses a pull-pull set-up with an internal servo mounted just forward of the cockpit. This photo shows the elevator linkage and one side of the rudder:
In this bottom view you can see the aileron control horns, the pull-pull cables exiting the bottom of the fuse, and just make out the elevator servo and horn. The pull-pull cables are ground wires from some shielded instrument cables I salvaged from work:
Here's a view showing the rudder servo and the receiver, looking into the the fuse through the wing saddle area. The cables aren't really as slack as it appears here:
Your plane looks good. I hope you like building yours as much as I did building my G-480!
I saw that on the SA Groove-480 (the one I built) you can mount the rudder servo in three different places. Internal (like yours), a little further back in the bottom of the fuselage upside down still using pull-pull cables, or in the rear of the plane using a pushrod (this is what I did.) I had read the the G-480 tends to come out nose heavy so I mounted the rudder servo in the tail... I came out only slightly tail heavy this way and by moving the battery forward some, it balances fine.
As advertised, I maidened the Stella this morning, and it went great! This kit was so well thought out and executed by SA that I really didn't have the usual pre-maiden jitters. It would take real effort to build it crooked! It flew right out of my hand (grass is too thick for ROG) and instilled confidence from the get go.
Only a couple of clicks of trim were needed to settle into a nice groove. During the first battery I was already trying loops and rolls. Although I'm not a 3D pilot, by the second battery I was flying knife edge, hovering briefly, and trying some tentative Harriers. That's how good this thing handles.
The worst glitch of the whole thing was the first landing. As I said, the grass is really too thick for the wheels. Oops.
No harm done. The only reason I'm using the landing gear at all is to avoid dragging the aileron servos through the grass. In subsequent landings I found I could slow it down to where it touched down with almost no forward speed at all.
I've been truly impressed by the quality of this kit, and thoroughly enjoyed the build. Based on first flying impressions I'm going to enjoy flying it even more, and am looking forward to letting it teach me about 3D aerobatics.