Flying the Roprey

Flying the Roprey

How do I start?

We’re often asked how difficult it is to pilot Roprey. This is a difficult question to answer, they’re as difficult as similar model planes. Some people take to it immediately and have no problem flying simple circles after little instruction. Others take a while to get the hang of it, but we have never come across someone that couldn’t eventually pilot well enough for the falcon to chase. Occasionally we come across somebody that insists that they won’t ever be able to pilot Roprey, yet when we ask how they got here, they tell us they drove a car!

Computer simulators are very helpful for beginners who can crash repeatedly without having to repair a real aircraft. They needn’t be high end expensive versions, programmes costing £20-£30 are available that are very suitable. They consist of a disc and a transmitter that plugs into the computer via a USB lead. They’re especially helpful when it comes to practicing your left and rights when the aircraft is flying towards you!

If you would like to practice on a real model plane before flying Roprey, inexpensive trainer aircraft, often called “foamies” in the RC world, exists just for the purpose of training beginners. They tend to fly very slowly, be very lightweight, and be exceptionally stable meaning they can’t be inadvertently rolled and plunged into the rising ground.

Those of you already involved in the RC world will be aware of how big the hobby is. For those of you new to the RC world, there will likely be an RC club within a 30-60 minute drive from your home. Many clubs have highly skilled resident pilots with a number of relevant qualifications. They can be a great resource when it comes to aircraft information and flying advice, also most memberships to these clubs include insurance against RC related mishaps.

Should someone be absolutely convinced that they couldn’t be a pilot, and yet still want to participate in Rofalconry, an experienced member of such a club would take your hand off for the chance to fly for you! Equally, those of you with young kids born in the Xbox generation will already know that using electronic devices is in their DNA!

Pre-Flight Checks

Pre-flight checks must be undertaken before every flight to ensure it can be carried out safely and without incident. A copy of the pre-flight check list can be found on the outer sleeve of the Rofalcon Box.

1. MOTOR AND FAN

  • Does the motor look, sound and feel like it is running well?
  • Have you accidently run the engine for a moment when it was stuck in mud or sand?
  • Is the fan clean and spinning freely?
  • Are the edges of the fan blades becoming worn?
  • Is a blade loose or missing? If so, replace the fan.
  • Is the engine securely in place and in proper alignment?
  • If it has shifted forward, put hot glue under the rim and push it back into line.

2. BATTERY

  • Check the battery is fully charged using a voltmeter.
  • Is the battery puffed, swollen or damaged in any way?
  • Old or weak batteries can greatly decrease power and shorten the flight time.
  • Have you used an empty battery instead of a new battery by mistake?

3. RECEIVER AND TRANSMITTER

  • Is the transmitter charged?
  • Is the receiver bound to the transmitter?
  • If not: Turn the transmitter on, turn the model on. Press and hold the little black button on the back of the receiver for 3 seconds. Then turn everything off and on again.
  • Are all electrical connectors tight, secure and in good repair?
  • Is the stabiliser exactly horizontal and secure?
  • Does each control give the right response from the model?

4. SERVOS AND LINKAGES

  • Do the servos move smoothly without grinding?
  • Do the servos give the right amount of movement on the flight surfaces?
  • Is the reflex trimmed properly with the elevons slightly up?
  • Are the servo wires in good repair and well-secured?

5. MODEL INSPECTION

  • Is there any structural damage to the model that needs to be repaired?
  • Is the rubber band secured and still strong enough for hard flying?
  • If the rubber band is weak, you will see wing flutter during hard manoeuvres.
  • Are all of the horns on the surfaces intact and well secured?
  • Is there smooth airflow over all wing surfaces?
  • If any fluttery feathers are added they must be on the head or trailing behind, but NOT on the wing.
  • Are all repairs strong, smooth and correctly aligned without adding weight?
  • The all up weight should not exceed 650g.
  • Did you hold the fuselage level when connecting the battery, until the stabiliser established?
  • Have you checked that the stabiliser is working by tilting the model?

6. PROPER TRAINING

  • Do you need some help to fly this type of model?
  • Have you spent time on a buddy cord or simulator with a similar model?
  • Do you have a qualified trainer who knows what they are doing?
  • Do you understand what they are telling you?
  • Do you know how to launch your model properly?
  • Can you handle a radio controller in one hand while you launch the model with the other?
  • Having an assistant to launch the model in the early stages can be very helpful.

7. READY?

Go through this checklist before you fly, and go through it again after any accident or model modification.

For more information regarding everything you need to know about the Rocrow see the video below!

Flying your model

To ensure that every flight is successful, it is sensible to carry out a few pre-flight checks. At first this list may seem long and laborious, but after a few flights it will become a very quick process.

A sample of a few checks:

  • Is the battery is fully charged?
  • Are the wings straight and level?
  • Is the head firmly attached?
  • Check that there is no gap between the body and the wings
  • Check for any damage to the Roprey, especially the elastic bands
  • Are the control surfaces trimmed correctly?
  • Do all the control surfaces move smoothly and in the correct direction?
  • In the case of the robara, are the battery wires the correct side of the elastic, away from the fan?

Launching

Roprey, like any aircraft, must always be launched into the wind. For beginning pilots, it’s best if someone else launches the model. The pilot can stand directly behind the launcher, both facing into wind.

The model must be held flat and level. The Robara must be launched at 100% power, but the lighter Rocrow should be launched at 50-100%. The launcher must throw the model horizontally. The temptation is to throw the model steeply up, the nose pointing skyward. This is unsuitable, and the model is likely to stall, turn sharply and fall to the ground.

When the pilot is more experienced, the model can be launched by one hand, the other holding the transmitter. Attaching a lanyard to the transmitter to avoid it being accidentally dropped is a good idea.

Don’t forget your pre-flight checks!

Basic Manoeuvres

For the first few flights, start the flight in the middle of the biggest space possible, above a soft surface such as grass. It is advisable to take the model up to a height where a mistake doesn’t immediately lead to a crash. Beginners often try and keep the model as low as possible but this can be counterproductive.

Always start with smooth and gentle turns. Aim to apply gradual pressure to the sticks, rather than poking and jabbing at them. When it comes to steering the model, it’s very much like a car. When turning a car left, the wheel is turned left. When you’ve turned enough you must start turning the wheel to the right, or else you will continue to turn left! Like a car, when steering the model one way, be sure to straighten it up again to avoid flying in circles.

Inexperienced pilots should avoid flying in the early morning or late evening. Although it may be light enough to easily see the falcon, low light levels can quickly make the pilot lose his orientation, as it’s difficult to tell which way up the Roprey is. These times of day also have a low sun, which can make flying difficult.

As the pilot becomes more experienced, more daring manoeuvers can be attempted. These should be practised at height initially, so that any mistakes can be corrected before the ground rises to meet you!

Landing

The great thing about Rofalconry is that you hardly ever need to land the model, the hawk tends to take care of that part for you! However, when practicing, landing is required.

Always land into the wind, this makes the flight more stable. Pick a landing area, approach it into the wind, and shut off the throttle. In most conditions the model will continue to glide forward. In very windy conditions, a small amount of throttle may be required to stop the model from stalling.

As the model moves towards the ground, an especially soft landing can be produced by pulling the nose up. Slowly pull the nose up, gradually applying more pressure. A perfect landing would see the aircraft touch the ground at the exact same time as the right stick meets its lower limit.

Try and land on a soft surface, such as grass, whenever possible. Always check the opening towards the fan after every landing to ensure nothing is causing an obstruction. Experienced pilots can often catch the Roprey rather than having it land on the ground, but mistakes can be embarrassing!

Like many practical skills, it can be more confusing reading the techniques than seeing them. Outside the world of Rofalconry, RC flying is a hugely popular hobby, and there are many clubs to be found. These clubs often provide beginners with opportunities to learn with trainer aircraft and experienced pilots to help.

Weather Conditions

Wingbeat’s Roprey models are designed to fly in the weather conditions that would be possible for the falcon. The Roprey have been flown in wind conditions where both the prey and the falcon are stationary despite going full guns ahead!

As has always been the case, it’s important not to over face a young, unfit or inexperienced hawk. Slipping a youngster in a gale at quarry it’s very unlikely to catch is fruitless. The same goes with the pilot! Asking an inexperienced pilot to fly in strong winds, or in turbulence, is going to result in knocked confidence and an hour in a dark room with the glue gun. However, watching an experienced falcon fly against an experienced pilot in strong winds can be a real spectacle.

Light drizzle is normally shrugged off by both falcon and Roprey, but any more tends to detract from the flight. The electrical components in the models are reasonably well protected from the rain, but if they become wet they may fail. After a crash in the mud, Nick has on occasion sprayed a hose pipe through the centre airway in the Robara & Rocrow to clean it with no ill affect, but we certainly don’t recommend it!

Flight Exercises

Launch Practice

It is always best to begin your RC flying journey with a simulator and/or a trainer plane. This will help you get started and means you won’t have to make your first beginner mistakes on your brand new Roprey! Once you start with your Roprey, there are some simple flight exercises that you can do to help you get a feel for it. Be sure to start with your battery fully charged, and be sure to keep your model level and still for 5 seconds after the battery is connected to ensure the stabiliser is set up correctly.

Now it’s Time to do some Flight Excercises

Select full stabiliser, face into the wind, select ¾ throttle, and launch hard and level into wind. Don’t throw the model up, throw it flat! Let the model travel a short distance, turn the throttle all the way down, and allow it to land. Repeat this process a number of times, allowing the model to go further each time. Be sure to always throw it directly into wind, walking back to the start point if necessary.

As you do this, take note of what the model is doing in flight. Is it going left, right, up or down? This can be corrected by using the trims on the transmitter. Change the trims until the model flies dead centre and slightly up once it is thrown.

Once you are comfortable flying the model in a long straight line, it’s time to turn in a circle! Set up and launch as before, but this time as the model flies forward pull back on the stick and allow it to climb. You may want to move the power up to full. Once you are “2 trees” high, steer the model to the left or right. It’s important to commit to the turn. A small press on the stick will do very little with the stabiliser on full, after all it’s supposed to make the controls numb and more forgiving of twitchy fingers! Move the right stick ¾ or all the way to the side, and hold it there until the model does a full turn back to the original direction. If the model starts to lose height in the turn, pull it gently up by moving the right stick down.

Once the model is facing back into wind, turn the throttle down, maybe off, and glide the model into land. Congratulations! From here it’s just a case of building up the flight time, getting more of a feel for the model, and getting your falcon started.

Figure of 8

Once you are happy flying a few circles, it’s time to try figure of 8’s. Flying this pattern makes you practise flying the model when it’s facing towards you as well as away. When the model is facing you, the lefts and rights are reversed so it’s important that you have practised on a simulator first!

Keep the model in front of you at all times, not over your head or behind you. Also try and keep the model at the same altitude the whole time. This will test your ability to manage the throttle.

Launch the model, and do a complete circle back round to straight. Then turn a complete circle in the opposite direction. These imaginary circles should only just touch, and should be the same height from the ground all the way around.

Predator and Prey

When two pilots get together, one can act as the predator, and the other the prey. One must lead and the other follow. The leader may only use ¾ throttle, and must move smoothly and gently to begin with. The follower may use full throttle, and has to stay as close to the leader for as long as possible. Be sure to know which model is yours, confusion can make for a spectacular crash!

With practice, the flights start higher, go faster, and get closer to the ground. Sometimes there is contact, and both pilots must act quickly to regain control. A great display can be put on with two skilled pilots, one Rocrow and one Rofalcon.

Combat practise

When two pilots get together, one can act as the predator, and the other the prey. One must lead and the other follow. The leader may only use ¾ throttle, and must move smoothly and gently to begin with. The follower may use full throttle, and has to stay as close to the leader for as long as possible. Be sure to know which model is yours, confusion can make for a spectacular crash!

With practice, the flights start higher, go faster, and get closer to the ground. Sometimes there is contact, and both pilots must act quickly to regain control. A great display can be put on with two skilled pilots, one Rocrow and one Rofalcon.

Weather Conditions

Wingbeat’s Roprey models are designed to fly in the weather conditions that would be possible for the falcon. The Roprey have been flown in wind conditions where both the prey and the falcon are stationary despite going full guns ahead!

As has always been the case, it’s important not to over face a young, unfit or inexperienced hawk. Slipping a youngster in a gale at quarry it’s very unlikely to catch is fruitless. The same goes with the pilot! Asking an inexperienced pilot to fly in strong winds, or in turbulence, is going to result in knocked confidence and an hour in a dark room with the glue gun. However, watching an experienced falcon fly against an experienced pilot in strong winds can be a real spectacle.

Light drizzle is normally shrugged off by both falcon and Roprey, but any more tends to detract from the flight. The electrical components in the models are reasonably well protected from the rain, but if they become wet they may fail. After a crash in the mud, Nick has on occasion sprayed a hose pipe through the centre airway in the Robara & Rocrow to clean it with no ill affect, but we certainly don’t recommend it!

Selecting a site

Although Rofalconry can be carried out on ground that is too enclosed for real hunting, the selection of good quality flying ground will help you achieve the highest quality flying. Essentially, the bigger and more open the ground, the better. In theory, as long as the pilot ensures that the Roprey is caught less than tree height, flights can be carried out in the middle of a small clearing. In the real world it’s advisable to give as much room horizontally as we do vertically. So, if we are flying to 500m altitude, we want 500m of open space in every direction. This helps to ensure that if the Roprey is caught at great height, the falcon still comes down in a safe place. All the usual hazards should be avoided – fences, electricity wires and pylons, bodies of water, etc.

Consider how the wind is behaving at your flying site. If the wind is blowing over a wooded area just before reaching you the air will be turbulent and very unpleasant to fly in. If you are at the bottom of a sloped field with the wind blowing down it, you will find yourself in a down draft and the wind will fight you.

Wind can either be “dirty” or “clean”, turbulent or laminar. Laminar wind, regardless of strength, allows for smooth controlled flying for both the pilot and falcon. Beginners of both should be flying in pleasant conditions until both gain experience.

It’s also important to consider the airspace you are flying in. Airspace use in some areas is limited, often due to the proximity of airports or other airspace users.

Flight Simulators

Flying a remote-control plane is like driving a car. The vast majority of people can do it very well, but they need to learn the right way first – very few can do it innately. A flight simulator is like a computer game that lets you practise flying a model plane. They can be very high-end with perfect graphics, or they can be cheap and less pretty. The cheaper ones are perfectly good enough to teach you how to fly.

A simulator will allow you to practise various flight exercises, like those described here. One of the trickiest thing to get the hang of is steering a plane that is flying towards you. This is because left and right are reversed. A sim will allow you to learn and make mistakes before you start flying your Roprey.

Basically all flight simulators that you can find online are perfect. You can buy a load of cheap chinese copies at ebay. Cables are provided and you can use them with our transmitter.

Very common simulators are Reflex and Phoenix, but others will work just as well. There are also a load of simulators that you can download for your phone. It’s a good place to start and doesn’t cost you anything! For phones and tablets we reccommend PicaSim. You can always send us a email if you want to find out more about simulators.

Finding a lost model

It’s always recommended to fit a falconry transmitter to your Roprey. Each model comes with an internal transmitter mount. Should the pilot make a mistake, or the falcon carry the model into the distance, having a transmitter fitted makes recovering the model quite straight forward.

If the model comes down out of sight, try to mark where it was last seen – what can you see in the distance behind it to use as a reference point? Where possible, walk in a straight line towards the model, a second pair of eyes walking alongside you can be a great help!

Often the model can be recovered by listening to the sound of the engine. Walk to where you think it may be and rev the engine for just a second, listening closely. Try and rev it as little as possible, you don’t want debris being sucked through the fan blades. With a bit of luck, you will find the model before it gets dark!

Repairs

The Glue

Included with each model is a tube of super glue and a spray can of accelerator. This glue is fantastic for repairs in the field. The bond is very quick and durable. This glue works best on foam when repairing breaks in the wings and the tail.

The Wingbeat glue allows you to make repairs to the model in the field, allowing you to fly the next falcon without delay. The glue is for use on broken foam parts, and sticks to the raw exposed surface. The glue does not stick to the shiny outer surface, meaning it can be flaked off once dry keeping the model looking good.

To fix a repair using the super glue, first apply a small amount of glue to the two pieces to be bonded. Press them together and wipe away any excess. It’s best to use latex gloves for this if you can. Take the two pieces apart and spray the accelerator directly onto the glue. You now have around 10 seconds before the glue is completely dried, so put the pieces back together straight away! The glue can get hot once activated, so avoid touching it wherever possible. If you find you’ve used too much glue and it’s escaped the crack and dried on the outside, use some rough sandpaper to smooth it over.

For some repairs, hot glue from a glue gun is the most suitable option. Hot glue provides a more flexible join and is best used for securing the electrical components, such as servos and EDFs, in place.

General Repair Tips

Roprey are designed to be both soft enough to be safe for the falcon, and ridged enough to fly well in the wind. Although they are sturdy aircraft, with regular use your Roprey will start to show some war wounds. However, much more damage is caused by pilot error than by the falcon. Structural damage is the most common cause for repair.

Included with each model is a tube of super glue and a spray can of accelerator. This glue is fantastic for repairs in the field. The bond is very quick and durable. This glue works best on foam when repairing breaks in the wings and the tail.

To fix a repair using the super glue, first apply a small amount of glue to the two pieces to be bonded. Press them together and wipe away any excess. It’s best to use latex gloves for this if you can. Take the two pieces apart and spray the accelerator directly onto the glue. You now have around 10 seconds before the glue is completely dried, so put the pieces back together straight away! The glue can get hot once activated, so avoid touching it wherever possible. If you find you’ve used too much glue and it’s escaped the crack and dried on the outside, you can normally scratch it off.

For some repairs, hot glue from a glue gun is the most suitable option. Hot glue provides a more flexible join and is best used for securing the electrical components, such as servos and EDFs, in place.

Troubleshooting

Power

  • The charger is not connected correctly to the battery.
  • Ensure that the battery connects to the charger by both the XT60 connector, and the small white balance lead.
  • The small wires can be fragile, confirm they have not been disconnected to the white fitting.
  • Check that the battery has not fallen below its minimum voltage. If so, discontinue its use and dispose of the battery appropriately.
  • Ensure that the yellow connectors (XT60) have not been damaged, and that the battery wires are secured well at the solder joint.
  • Ensure that the power lead from the speed controller to the receiver is connected correctly.
  • Check that the battery is fully charged with a volt meter.

Propulsion

  • The Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) has detected throttle input the second the battery was connected. As a precaution the motor has not been armed. Move the throttle to the lowest position, and move the throttle trim down until the Rofalcon responds.
  • The battery is very low, and so as not to ruin the battery, the ESC has halted the thrust. Fully charge battery.
  • Check that the engine is connected to the speed controller and that there are no signs of damage to the 3 engine wires.
  • Disconnect battery. Disconnect the 2 of the 3 engine wires from the ESC. Reconnect them the opposite way around.
  • Check that the fan blades are intact and in good condition.
  • Feel the battery, is it puffy and worn out?
  • Calibrate the throttle: Turn on the transmitter, with throttle to the highest point and throttle trim in the middle, turn on Rocrow, wait for it to beep, put throttle to the bottom, wait for a beep.
  • Test the power output of the engine: Turn on the Rocrow and transmitter, leave the wings unconnected. Put the nose of the Rocrow vertically down on some digital scales and zero them. Power full throttle down into the scales, keeping the Rocrow balanced.
  • Record the weight in grams. It should sit around 630-670g!

Steering

  • The connectors from the wing to the fuselage are the wrong way around.
  • Check that the servo wire is connected firmly into the fuselage.
  • Unplug the wing and move the elevon manually. If there is resistance, or a grinding feel, the servo is damaged and must be replaced.
  • Check that the wing servo wires are firmly connected to the fuselage, and that the small double wire extension is connected to the top 2 ports on the stabiliser unit.
  • The double wire extension is connected incorrectly to the stabiliser. Ensure it occupies the highest two ports on the stabiliser unit.
  • Turn the stabiliser off and check that both wings move an equal amount in every direction. · Check the centre of gravity is correct. You can find more about the Centre of gravity by clicking here.

Stabiliser

  • Very gradually change the trims to correct for any deviation until the model flies straight into the wind.
  • Carry out pre-flight checks, ensuring to keep the model level and still for 5 seconds once the battery is connected.
  • The Roprey can be controlled up to a distance of 1.4 kilometers. However, this is significantly beyond the range a pilot can control the aircraft for a line of sight flight. In the event of the aircraft losing transmitter signal the engine will be stopped, and the stabiliser engaged. This will limit the distance the model travels and encourages a gradual, gentle descent. To reduce the risk of signal loss, ensure that the transmitter aerial is angled at 45 degrees and not pointing directly at the aircraft. Ensure the transmitter is kept switched on in the case of signal loss, so that it may be recovered. It is advisable to fit a falconry transmitter to the model so that it may be recovered in the case of signal loss or pilot error. Should the aircraft need to be re-bound to the transmitter, then please follow the procedure by clicking here