Monday, December 20, 2010

Mega-Review: Art Applewhite Delta Flying Saucers

At the time of this posting, Art Applewhite is offering no less than 10 versions of his Delta Saucer design, two of which are free downloads.  This is a cluster of reviews covering three of them:  13mm Delta, 24mm Delta, and the 24mm Ultra Delta.  I also have the big 38mm/54mm Delta but I will add the write-up separately.  Although it is shaped the same, its construction is far different from the smaller ones.

13mm Delta Saucer

The main difference between his Delta saucers and his standard line is that there are no fins, and both the top and bottom shrouds extend to the motor mount. This makes them simpler to construct, less expensive, and fly higher than the standard saucers. This 4" Delta saucer flies on 13mm mini motors. When I built mine, it was offered as a kit and thus had different patterns/colors available. It is now a free download and is even simpler that what's presented below.  This new version is actually closer to the Ultra Delta, which is also discussed below.

Parts
* One sheet of cardstock - top and bottom shrouds
* One ~ 4" square piece of foam board - center plate
* One 1.75" 13mm motor mount

Tools and supplies required
* Scissors
* Exacto knife
* White glue
* Sandpaper
* Clear enamel spray paint

The 13mm Delta saucer came nicely packaged in a ‘food saver' type sealed bag. The saucers were packaged in the shipping box with large plastic bubbles also made with a sealing machine. The three pages of instructions for the Delta saucer are well detailed and include lots of photos.

Construction of this saucer is really simple. You first cut out and form the top and bottom shrouds. On this small saucer, I found it difficult to cut the 13mm and launch rod holes with scissors so I used an Exacto knife for these cuts. You then cut out the center plate form the pre-marked foam board. There is an inner mark around the outer rim, where you only cut through the top layer. You then form a beveled edge by cutting at about a 30-degree angle and sanding the edge smooth.

Assembly consists of gluing the top shroud to the plate, adding the motor tube, and finally the bottom shroud. You must ensure that you align the launch rod guides on all three components. Also, make sure the motor mount extends through the front shroud so that no paper overhangs the end of the mount. On a home-grown paper saucer, I left some overhanging just a bit, and the gasses from the motor charred the paper, leaving a hole in the front.

Finishing:
As with Art's other saucers, there is no finishing required, other than sealing the printed cardstock with a clear coat.

Flight/Recovery:
In the instructions, Art says that you shouldn't fly these saucers in winds over 10 mph. This weekend the winds were over 10 mph, and several days of rain had left the field a swampy mess. The latter at least made saucers a perfect choice, as the area surrounding the pads was high and dry. And hey, if I've drive almost 2 hours to a launch, I'M GONNA FLY SOMETHING!

I loaded this saucer on a standard Estes 1/8" rod. Note there is no lug, rather the rod fits through gaps in the top, center plate, and bottom shroud. The boost of this small saucer was almost perfectly straight despite the winds.

24mm original Delta Saucer

This 6" diameter Delta flies on a wide variety of 24mm motors.  The build is almost identical to what was described above.

Parts included:
* One sheet of cardstock - top and bottom shrouds
* One 7" square piece of foam board - center plate
* One 24mm motor mount

Tools and supplies required:
* Scissors
* Exacto knife
* White glue
* Sandpaper
* Clear enamel spray paint (not required for the Gold metalized cardstock)

My Delta saucer came nicely packaged in a food saver type sealed bag. The saucers were packaged in the shipping box with large plastic bubbles also made with a sealing machine. The three pages of instructions for the Delta saucer are well detailed and include lots of photos.

Construction of this saucer is really simple. You first cut out and form the top and bottom shrouds. On this small saucer, I found it difficult to cut the launch rod holes with scissors so I used an Exacto knife for these cuts. You then cut out the center plate from the pre-marked foam board. There is an inner mark around the outer rim, where you only cut through the top layer. You then form a bevelled edge by cutting at about a 30 degree angle and sanding the edge smooth.

Assembly consists of gluing the top shroud to the plate, adding the motor tube, and finally the bottom shroud. You must ensure that you align the launch rod guides on all three components. Also, make sure that the motor mount extends through the front shroud so that no paper overhangs the end of the mount. On a home-grown paper saucer, I left some overhanging just a bit, and the gasses from the motor charred the paper, leaving a hole in the front.

Mirror Gold Flying Saucer Finishing:
On Art's saucers, there is typically no finishing required, other than sealing the printed cardstock with a clear coat. Note that the gold saucer uses metalized card stock and no clear coat was required.

I cannot say enough about this mirror gold card stock. It is both beautiful and is a little thicker than most, making for a nice sturdy feeling saucer. The photos I provided do not do it justice. In the one attached photo, you can see the reflection of the smaller Texas Special reflected in its finish.

Flight/Recovery:
I flew this saucer for the first time at the windy launch mentioned above. The winds were pushing the 10 mph limit of what Art recommended.  I flew the 24mm Delta saucer off a 3/16" Estes rod. It was a bit wobbly on the way up, but just like the smaller Delta the trajectory was almost perfect. I am anxious to try it on an E9 with calm winds. The wind caused the saucer to tumble end-over-end on the way down. Nevertheless, the recovery was fine.

I have now flown this saucer 12 times on 'D' through 'F' power as well as a Microhybrid.

24mm Ultra Delta Saucer

This is a simplified version (if you can believe that) of Art's 24mm Delta Flying Saucer. The kit is all cardstock and can be built with either an 18mm or 24mm motor mount.

Construction:
The kit contains two sheets of cardstock, containing seven parts to be cut out.  Materials required are scissors, hobby knife with new blade, Elmer's white glue, new or used engine casing, cellophane tape, and ballpoint pen.

This will be a short description. All you have to do is cut out the parts (following the 18mm or 24mm guides, as appropriate) and glue them together per the instructions. The Art Applewhite Ultra Delta Saucer instructions say to use white glue not Carpenter's glue, so that's what I used. If you intend to use longer motors (over 2.75"), you leave out the motor block.

I'll offer two tips. First, don't use too much glue. I have the propensity for using too much and the glued areas tend to look a little warped. Second, if you have Aerotech 18mm and 24mm SU cases, use these to form the motor mount. If you use Estes casings, you will need to wrap them with a layer of cellophane tape.


Finishing:
Finishing involves only a few coats of clear coat.

Flight:
The recommended motors are:

18mm A8-3, B4-2, B6-0, B6-2, C6-0, C6-3, and Aerotech RMS 18/20 reloads
24mm C11-0, C11-3, D11-P, D12-0, D12-3, E9-P, E9-4, Aerotech F21W and RMS 24/40 reloads

Flight prep includes friction fitting the motor and, if you elected to leave off the motor block, a masking tape thrust ring.  I flew the 24mm version at the 3rd Annual TRF Reunion at Whitakers, NC. On the first flight, it flew on a D12-0 alongside a standard saucer, a Delta saucer, and a Super Cinco. It was a fast, straight flight with less weathercocking than the others I compared.


I flew it again on an E9-4. Not much to say here but it really zipped on this motor. Ejection was well before it landed.

Summary:
This is one simple, inexpensive, high performance saucer kit. I think it is faster than his other designs, but they are so close it is hard to tell without a drag race (with simultaneous ignition to boot). When I built the saucer, I was thinking that the all cardstock 24mm design may not be as sturdy as the Art's other products. I know I only have two flights on it, but I now don't see that as an issue.