• Tiger Moth Finished

    This has taken an embarassing amount of time to finish, so long in fact that I had to go back through my photos to figure out when I bought it and actually started it, rough timeline is as follows:

    • Purchased at the May Fly in 2017
    • Started almost immediately
    • First flown without any decals or details at the May Fly in 2018 - discovered it was very tail heavy.
    • Finally finished in May 2019 - too late for this years May Fly ️️☹️

    Phew, oh well other things got done in the mean time and its finally finished. I’ve added the windscreens and the decals and tidied up the odd little bit here and there. It ended up weighing 32g with a single loop of 3/32” rubber (as specified in the kit), needing 8g of nose weight to balance. I used the Delux Materials Liquid Gravity, which I poured down a straw into the base of the nose, fixing in place with some thick cyano.

    Now I’m waiting for some time and weather to go and test fly it again ;)

    I’ve added a little gallery of the finished thing over on the dedicated page.

  • Blackjack 29 First Run

    I can’t believe this has been 3 years coming 🙁. It was May 2016 when I bought the hull of this boat up at the May Fly. I fitted it out with an 120A AquaStar ESC and suitable motor, sorted all the wiring and the plumbing. Then sort of forgot about it, eventually getting moved from the shed into the loft which is the death knell for any model around here. This was partly compounded by our local boating lake springing a leak and being left empty by the local council for 18 months!

    We noticed a month or two ago that the pond was now full again plans were made to take the boats out again.

    The Sea Rover and Sea Nymph performed as well as they ever do - which was to say faultlessly. The kids soon got back into things and were happily chasing each other around the lake.

    While they were at it I grabbed the Blackjack, plugged in the packs (2 x 2s LiPos) and put it on the water. I was a little worried the pond wasn’t really big enough so caution was the name of the game on the throttle. I needn’t have worried however, it performed brilliantly. The pond is big enough for short full power bursts, helped a bit by the rate at which it sheds speed when you come off the power and it drops back onto the hull.

    My wife shot a little video of it which you can see below, amusing moment in this is I had forgotten to tape the hatch down and towards the end of the video it came flying off! Whoops

    Then I wondered how to get my now stranded hatch back? No need to worry, the kids jumped the challenge and were soon taking turns to push it a little further to the shore!

  • Thumbs Oops

    I’ve just noticed that for none of the big photos on the site, thumbs wern’t being loaded. So the browser was having to load the massive original image and then scale it down. Some of the original hires pictures are 10MB or so, this was having a huge impact on page load times. Fixed now!

    Also that makes me think I ought to resize the really big photos, nobody needs a 10MB image for display on a screen. Another day perhaps :)

  • Hpi Bullet New Body


    Its been a couple of years now since we bought the Bullet, its been a right blast in that time, normally being our first choice of car if we are going to the park, the woods, or the skate park (!). It has stood up really well to anything we’ve thrown at it having only broken a couple of bits in that time; We broke a front hub carrier in an argument with a football goal post, and weirdly a diff shaft snapped which meant we also lost the drive shaft.

    However, the one bit of it which is increasingly looking very mangled is the body shell. It has a tendancy to wheelie if you apply full power from a standing start which catches the back of the body on the ground and mangles it up a bit, also after a lot of jumping and landing on the roof the top is starting to crack. So given its having its second birthday we figured it deserved a new body. Originally I planned to buy the same again but when I got round to looking for the finished body, everywhere was out of stock so we grabbed the unpainted and untrimmed plain shell and set to painting it ourselves.

    After painting my B64 and using masking tape I wanted to try something I had seen on YouTube, namely Liquid Mask. It looked like a really good solution to the problem of getting the tape around both the curves in the body and the curves in whatever design you want. I bought a bottle “Pro Mask” from a local RC car shop (DMS Racing in Watford) and set to it.

    The mask is quite thick so I thinned it out a bit, but I found spraying it on with a normal airbrush just wasn’t cutting it, to get a good build up would take hours. So I grabbed a much bigger paint gun for about a tenner on Amazon. That was much better, I sprayed on 2-3 good thick coats then let it dry. While it was drying I marked out a fairly simple design on the film which HPI put on the outside of the body to protect it during spraying. Then I got to work cutting out the bits on the inside. Yellow first, backed by white, followed by orange and then red, back each with white as I went. I had some window tint left over from the B64 which I used to dark the windows a bit.

    After all that it was with some trepidation that I pulled off the protective film from the outside. But as you can see I needn’t have worried, it came out looking pretty good. The lines between the colours are clearly defined with no bleed and overall I’m pretty stoked with it.


    I learnt a few things along the way:

    • Really needed more coats of mask than I used. In some places it was really quite thin and a right pain to get off.
    • Don’t be so eager to get on with the next colour, I knocked the yellow while removing the mask for the orange, going through the dry but not completely set paint meaning I had to go in and re-do that bit. Even using a hair dryer I should let each colour cure properly before doing the next.
    • A hair dryer really helps!
    • The paints I used definitely don’t need thinning, I thinned the yellow by too much and had to put on about 10 coats. I didn’t bother thinning the orange or red and they went on really well straight from the bottle, amazing coverage.
    • Cut the body out first! I’ve seen some people cut it out later, which is what I did but its hard going when you are trying your upmost to avoid damaging the paint.

    I took a few shots along the way, you can see those below. For reference, I didn’t actually paint it in the kitchen, it just happened to be one of the few clear surfaces I could put the body to photo it!

    Finished body

    After giving the car a good clean and installing the new body mounts I shot a few pics of the finished body. We think it looks great, all ready for another year of bashing!

  • Nuala Practicing Laps

    Both of the kids have been enjoying racing their B64 at our local buggy track recently, however my daughter has been having some issues steering properly around some of the tight corners. This weekend we thought we would practice a bit in a local car park. She has had my M05 on a shelf in her bedroom for a couple of years, lovingly referring to it as ‘My Mini’ :), and often asks if we can take it out so we figured it would be cool to take it out and let her race around some cones. We grabbed some little cones from the garden to mark out a track and set off for a carpark I thought would be deserted. She had loads of fun driving around, getting better as time went on.

    I shot a little video of her early on in the morning, you can see she is clearly having difficulty in keeping the car going the way she wants it! But things improved the more laps she did.

    I took over control for a bit and I have to say, compared to the buggys I found the handling of the M05 very different, being just 2WD and front wheel drive at that, it is a very different beast. I do wonder if practicing with the Mini will not help her when she comes back to driving the buggys so next time out I’ll swap the Ballistic Buggy Spike tyres on their B64 with a set of Proline Side Locks I have spare.

    They are the closest I have to an ‘on road’ tyre, and will save the soft spikes from being worn down on the harsh tarmac of a carpark. We also destroy a couple of the little Nerf cones, so we’ll have to find something else to mark out a track. Hopefully we’ll get out again soon!

  • Instagram

    I’ve always liked Instagram for taking and sharing photos with quite a few now up on my profile. A couple of weeks back I got to wondering how I could get them into this blog. With Hugo this is pretty simple, it has an inbuilt shortcode which does all the work for you if you pass it in a photo ID.

      {{< instagram BuTYsdHAx_W >}}

    Is all you need in a post and the shortcode will do the rest (see an example here).

    Old Posts

    That all seems pretty simple, so its just a job of pulling all my old posts from Instagram and making new posts for them in the right places in my timeline of blog posts. I turned to Python for this and the InstagramAPI package, that made it pretty trivial to pull out the caption, date and photo id for each of my old posts, then I used pystash to render a little template of each post with all the fields and save it into the tree of posts.

    The code is pretty hacky, but if anybody wants a copy please drop me a line (my email is in the footer).

    New posts

    While that took care of the old posts, I wondered about how to handle new posts. I’m still now 100% on this, but I’ve rigged up a ifttt ‘app’ which posts to a web hook on my server whenever a new instagram post is made. That then tries to render the same template I used for the old posts and git commit and publish the site. We’ll see how that goes, there are too many moving parts in that for my liking, but we’ll see :)


    For now, you can see all my old Instagram posts by checking out the category.

  • Broke the Reedy Esc

    I’ve not written about the Team Associated B64s we now own yet, which I’ll get round to at some point but suffice to say the kids have one and I have my own. When I received mine, the ESC case was broken with signs of it being cyno’ed back together at least once. I did the same again hoping it would last for a good while. I’ve since heard anecdotal evidence that these Reedy ESC’s are known to have weak cases.

    Well… Last weekend we went racing with the guys from my flying club. Who it turns out mostly run 1/8 scale cars and, unlike the car club we also race with, were mostly bashing around the track. I got a few good laps in, the Ballistic Buggy Spike tyres giving good grip on our astro turf runway.

    And then the inevitable happened, I flipped the car, there was no marshalling so the car sat stranded upside down, then 💥 I got hit hard in the left hand side by a big truggy going at speed. Immediately I noticed that applying throttle had no effect so I feared the wost.

    Back at home it was clear the ESC case had broken again but this time when I lifed the PCB out of the case one of the little yellow transistors (maybe? I’m no electronics expert) was sitting in the bottom of the case. Oh well ¯\(ツ)/¯ you live and learn.

    Asking some of the members of our car racing club, the suggestion was a Hobbywing Quicrun 10BL120 Sensored ESC would be a good replacement, so I placed an order with Modelsport and got one sent.

    Last night I got it installed and soldered to the motor, it all seems fine we are back and ready for the next outing.

  • New Compressor

    For various reasons, I’ve been contemplating a new compressor for a while now. The current one is very small, mainly designed for small airbrushes and the like, while fine for its intended purpose, painting larger areas with a small airbrush was becoming a bit of a chore. What I really wanted was a larger paint gun, which meant a bigger compressor. Of course once a decent sized compressor was installed it would find other uses, like cleaning the cars or driving small tools around the workshop.

    I’ve seen the Lidl one a few times now, but have never quite felt up to taking the plunge, it is quite big and my shed isn’t, but this weekend while having a general tidy up and moving a few things into the loft, it dawned on me that a space had opened up where I thought it would fit. Hmm, thats one less reason to not do it then!

    One impromtu trip to Lidl later and I had one in the boot, along with a cleaning gun set (including a handy tyre inflator) and a nice wall mountable reel hose. The plan is to mount the reel on the inside of the shed near the door which means its easily long enough to reach outside for cleaning things, or the bench for spraying.

    I need to get a moisture/oil trap at some point and wire a few more sockets in the shed but its all looking good. Long term I have a vague plan of moving it into the second shed and running a air hose through the small gap between them into the main shed, that’ll certainly move the source of noise away from where I’ll be working. But for now I can put up with the noise. Running some structured air hose around the shed presenting a quick release socket near the bench might also be a nice idea, something to ponder later :)