Juliet2 progress update #1

With the good season almost over, things are all but getting quiet. Even though this is usually the moment when the action moves from the field to the garage, we have been busy with the test flights of the Juliet2. The prototype has been logging flight hours until a small incident grounded it for a few weeks. At the same time, we made progress at the drawing board, where the future of the Juliet2 program is shaping up.

A little incident

Juliet2 damage
The damaged prototype

Flying the prototype of the Juliet2 is just as much fun as it is gathering data to improve the design. Both are good reasons to bring it to the field.  Unfortunately sometimes the conditions are not exactly ideal. Although the plane holds very well some wind, I was surprised by a gust just after touchdown. In the following crabbed bounce the landing gear detached from the fuselage, together with its support plate.

Due to the experimental nature of the prototype I opted not to reinforce that area with glass fiber like it’s usually done in this kind of models. This caused the incident in the first place, but also limited the damage. The support plate came out of the fuselage in a clean way, breaking only the covering film.  A few scratches below the engine cowling were the only other damage to the plane.

The repairs

prototype repairs
The new support plate in place, ready to be epoxied

According to murphy’s law, it all happened just before a busy period, in which I couldn’t make the necessary repairs to keep flying. After a couple of weeks I was finally able to make a new plywood support plate and glue it with epoxy resin to the fuselage. The difficult part has been to make the repair removing as little covering film as possible.  Then it has been just a little fabbrication task. This time the plate has been secured in position with fiberglass to avoid further surprises. Since I had the plane on the table anyway, I also decided to install a shorter (and lighter) landing gear and try a brand new Aerostar Carbon propeller.

The project continues

Juliet2 rendering
A rendering of the Juliet2

While not getting any new data out of the grounded prototype, we kept designing the final version with Sketchup. The main reason for the restyling was to use different materials, mainly plywood, in place of the carbon/balsa sandwich used on the first Juliet2. Another task was to design new, more conventional wings with built up ailerons. These should have been tested directly in the prototype before being included in the final version. Their debut just moved to the next airframe. The number of improvements has become so high we can hardly speak of the same plane. The nose section gained 5 cm, to help naturally balance the structure. Additionally it gives more room to move the battery (also allowing lighter packs to be used). The wing latching system has been revised, and the tail structure is new. To complete the list, the tail surfaces have been redesigned for better effectiveness.

Next steps

In the next weeks we will try to finish drawing this “pre-production” second prototype. Then it will only be a matter of getting the parts laser-cut and assemble at least one airframe to validate the design. Deadline for the maiden flight is the beginning of next flying season, which is quite tight, considering the other ongoing projects.

Juliet2
The Juliet2 at the field

In the meantime we will continue to discover what the prototype can (and can’t) do, and have lots of fun with it!!!

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