About A470 Soaring


This is the blog for a few guys who spend their time flying radio controlled gliders, or slope soarer's, from the many and varied slopes around SE Wales.

This usually begins at the northern end of Cardiff, driving north up the A470 up to the Heads of the Valley's and the southern fringe of the Brecon Beacons. But the A470 road continues its windy way all the way to N Wales.

There are many slopes available for most wind directions, the most famous being the area between Nant-y-Moel and Treorchi known as The Bwlch, which has some of the best slopes and flying in Europe with many F3F competitions being held there each year and visited by many fliers from Europe and around the world. At 1500 feet (450m) above sea level, there is usually more wind than not, and certainly more than at sea level.

If you require any further information, are new to slope soaring or are visiting the area, please contact Steve at steve.houghton59@gmail.com . I look forward to hearing from you.

Take a look at Page 2 (look below and to the left here) for Google maps of our most popular Flying Sites.


Friday, 4 December 2020

MPX Heron & Radian Pro on the slope in light conditions

 Following on from my last post where I was flying the MPX Heron, Josh his Radian Pro & Clive his Manta. A sea breeze began to pick up and Clive went home so Josh and I stayed on and decided to fly off the slope. Here is the video of how we got on.


Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Radian Pro - MPX Heron & Mantis

 Three weeks ago the Welsh government released Wales from COVID lockdown #2 and so plans were made by the local slope fliers to have a days flying on the following weekend. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and any plans to fly were scrapped, and so we waited for that all important weather forecast later the following week. 

The following Sunday the weather was lovely with sunshine and barely a breath of wind, which isn't good for slope soaring but very nice for a spot of themal soaring, and with that the guys decided to fly on the top of Meio.

Now I hadn't flown Meio this year as in February the weather was attrocious with heavy rain and localised flooding, and the road leading up to Meio had been all but washed away, and then we went into lockdown #1. 

The last time I was on Meio the flat top of the hill was about 3 feet deep in ferns and other rough vegetation but, according to one of the guys, this had been mostly cut down and there was a very nice landing strip as long and as wide as you like. Even I couldn't miss that runway! 😂

When I arrived Clive and Josh were already there, Josh flying a Radian Pro and Clive a Mantis and I had brought my MPX Heron. The Mantis is a old design with a 3m pylon mounted foam wing with flaps, a carbon tube boom and Clive had made up a fuselage pod to house the motor etc. 

There was very little in the way of thermal activity and any we found were weak and only allowed us to maintain height. We were only 30m from the slope and did manage to get a little lift from the tinyest amout of breeze there was.

We did have a good couple of hours flying and Clive decided to go home. By this time a sea breeze had picked up and so Josh and I decided to move over to the slope and fly from there.

Check out the following video of the thermal soaring section of the day. Part 2 of the video will be available soon.


Friday, 11 September 2020

Banging Slope Soaring session on Mickey's

What a fun days flying that was!

I arrived at the lay-by at The Bwlch at 10 AM on Saturday and waited for a bunch of other guys to arrive and, they duly did in dribs and drabs over the next 30 minutes or so.

The forecast was for a NW breeze of about 16 mph at Bridgend, so I was expecting about 20 mph in the compression zone on the slope as we marched in single file along the narrow track to our flying spot. On arrival the wind was slightly more westerly than we'd have liked, and it would come and go a bit, which was fine for flying foamy models but no one wanted to risk launching an expensive moudie. 

So after about an hour a couple of the guys decided to head off to Mickeys, the westerly slope to see if that was any better and, after about 30 minutes we received a phone call to say that Mickey's was flying very well and so we packed up, decamped and trundled over to the far westerly slope.

This was a good move with the wind being bang on square to the slope and about 18 mph, so all the big guns were brought out, including a 1/4 scale ASW20 belonging to Mark, one of the two visitors flying with us that day.

Check out the video of the days flying activity and don't forget to subscibe to my YouTube channel.


Thursday, 3 September 2020

New Glider Project - Part 3 (Streamline 350)

 Light north to north east winds were forecast for last weekend and so I put the call out on Facebook to see where people were intending to fly as I wanted to give the Streamline 350 its maiden flight, and flying buddy Nigel came back and invited me along to fly at the Eglwysilan model flying club near Pontypridd, so how could I refuse. 

Sunday was bright but windier than expected although the forecast was for the wind to ease during the day as I assembled the Streamline. One thing I did notice with the assembly was connecting the aileron servo wires together using the JST type connectors as the servo wires are too long and are difficult to tuck into the wing cavity. I could just cut the wires short and reconnect but it may actually be easier and a neater finish to replace the JST's with the MPX 6 pin plugs & sockets.

Eventually the wind eased and I couldn't put off launching any longer. Nick was volunteered to do the honours and I asked him to perform a power off throw, just to ensure that I hadn't got the all flying tailplane, (horizontal stabiliser), position terribly wrong, or anything else for that matter. And just to ensure the 1st throw wasn't a fluke, the 2nd throw was equally as good. So without further ado Nick launched the model and I fired up the motor and away it went, albeit a bit sluggishly, and she struggled to climb so I gave it full throttle, which it didn't like at all and the prop was making one hell of a racket, and after climbing to a safe altitude I turned off the motor and managed to gain a little extra height using natural lift before bringing her downwind and into base for a landing. I had plenty of room so I didn't have to worry about using CROW braking at this time and she landed well.

After chatting with the lads we decided that the 13" x 6" propeller was too big so I fitted a 12" x 6" and we did a ground run for about a minute, which was much better and with no sign of the ESC even getting warm, so with that we launched her a 2nd time. This was much better! She climbed steadily but was no rocket ship, which I sort of expected because I wasn't using the recomended motor, just one that I had spare in my box of bits that had been bought for another project, trying to save a few £, and this model is quite a heavy lump, (which reminds me that I need to try and find a way of weighing it). Anyway, I flew it briefly, testing the controls and concluded that my control settings weren't far out with only minor elevator compensation adjustments being required for the speed and thermal flap settings and CROW braking. On my landing approach I came in a bit high but CROW soon brought that down to land just a few meters from me. 

I made some adjustments to elevator compensation and also added aileron differential, something I'd forgotten to do on my initial setting up on the transmitter and launched her for one final flight. Everything went to plan this time and I managed a good flight. For such a heavy model she doesn't lose height too rapidly at all, and although thermals helped her to maintain height, she wasn't climbing away in the thermals. Whether this was because I wasn't locking in to very strong thermals or because there weren't any strong thermals at this time in the afternoon, I don't know? I'm sure future flights will shed more light.

So the question at the end of the day was, do I splash out and purchase the recomended motor, along with the recomended 6 cell 5000mah LiPo to help with the climb outs or, do I leave it as it is? After all, I bought this model with the intention of flying it from the slopes on light/marginal wind days, and the motor is a get out of jail clause. But if I want to fly it on slightly windier days from a flat field then the extra pulling power of a bigger motor would be advantageous.  After watching the video footage I took I decided to purchase the motor and battery pack. But this also meant I've had to also purchase a new battery charger as mine only charges up to 4S packs, but hey, it's only money, right! 

So check out the video, hit the LIKE button and please subscribe to my channel and hopefully I can produce some more videos of this fine bird. 


Monday, 17 August 2020

New Glider Project Part 2

 It's been a few weeks since I've done anything much on the streamline 350, partly due to me being side tracked by completing the Bird of Time and partly due to other commitments, but I did manage to get some work done to it a few evenings ago after work.

So, I soldered an XT90 LiPo connector to the ESC, (I'd had to order that connector) and fitted the ESC into the model. I'd also ordered a RX and fitted this temporarily and then came the job of setting up a new model on my Hitec Aurora 9 TX. Now if you're not familiar with this TX, when you set up a new model the TX asks you what kind of aircraft it is? I clicked on glider, then it asks how many ailerons & flaps it has, whether it has spoilers, retracts, a motor and whether it has a normal tail or a V tail, then once that has been completed it automatically asigns a channel for each control. I then needed to bind the RX to the TX and that was all done.

Then I needed to calibrate the motor so I switched on the TX and pushed the throttle stick all the way to the top and plugged in the LiPo to the ESC but all I got was a continuous beeping, which was not what I was expecting. I checked and I'd plugged the throttle lead from the ESC into ch8 of the RX instead of ch7. Doh! I switched it all on again and I then heard four beeps, indicating the 4 cells of the LiPo, but nothing else and it didn't calibrate.

I did a lot of head scratching and then decided to look at the TX programming for my Multiplex Heron, which should be the same. All appeared OK. More head scratching. I then clicked on the monitor funtion on the TX which shows sliding bars whenever a control stick, slider or switch is moved. The throttle on ch7, (throttle) moved OK so I then checked this on the Streamline program, but when I moved the throttle stick (J3) nothing happened and the bars didn't move. So I went back to look at the channels again and saw that the throttle had been allocated to ch7 but, the TX didn't automatically allocate the stick. Once I selected the left stick (J3), the sliding bar in Monitor was working so I tried to calibrate again and bingo, it worked, although the motor wouldn't turn, so I swapped two of the wires around at the motor end and the motor turned, and in the correct direction also, hooray 😊. All I needed to do then was set the brake and that was all done.

My next jobs are to connect the rudder and elevator control rods to the servo arms, fit the wings to the fuse and work out which of the wires already pre installed from the Multiplex connector in the wing root into the fuse controls which aileron and which flap, if that makes sense, so I can plug them into the RX. I then have to set up the control linkages on the wing servo's with power to the servo's and attach the servo covers, then I think that's it apart from setting up expo, dual rates, crow or butterfly. All I will need then is a suitable day to give it a throw into the wild blue yonder. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Soaring Mickeys & Valenta SB9 Crash

 Hi all and welcome back. Here is my latest video which was filmed during a weekend afternoon session on Mickeys slope at The Bwlch. Weather wise it wasn't a bad day although when I 1st arrived the slope lift wasn't great although there were lots of thermals working through, but an hour later the slope lift had improved enourmously.

Nick flew his Valenta SB9 for the 2nd time but unfortunately by this time the slope lift had begun to deteriorate, and then he flew into a huge patch of sink and it tip stalled, and then a little over correction of the controls didn't help although Nick did manage to regain control quickly. He decided to return to the slope asap and decided upon a downwind landing. Unfortunately he deployed the spoilers and a wing tip stalled again and he crashed. Fortunately the damage was minimal, but watch the video all the way to the end to see how it all panned out.


Friday, 7 August 2020

Dynaflite Bird of Time ARF

 A couple of years ago I picked up a second hand Dynaflite Bird of Time from a guy down in Paignton, Devon with the intention of fitting a motor to it. Well I never got around to that and then it got lost in a cupboard until a few weeks ago when I was having a clear out. 

The model had already been fitted with a rudder servo with linkage and a elevator servo and linkage. That elevator servo had been positioned just behind the rudder servo up front instead of at the base of the tail fin (vertical stabiliser) as per the instructions, with a bell crank taking that servo's place. The wing joiners had already been assembled also. I had to modify the control rods a little to make them the correct length and solder snap clevises on. I found a 5 cell, 6V NiMh battery pack in my box along with a switch and took a receiver from another broken model, then when it came to balancing the model I had to add another 50 grams of lead into the nose. 

So now I just need to find the time and a suitable light wind day to fly this from a local slope, because that is where I am intending on flying this, on those days where there is marginal slope lift and I can hunt out the thermals. So hopefully it won't be too long before I can post a Bird of Time maiden flight video.