My extraordinary plane build ...

Discussion in 'Member Project Logs' started by cheapracer, Apr 5, 2016.

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  1. Apr 5, 2016 #1

    cheapracer

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    Well after an unexpected couple of very frustrating years of delay, finally I am freeing up and able to now move forward to new horizons.

    I am quietly excited to be starting on a new 2 seat, low wing, aluminium plane build that will explore ideas not seen before to enable unparalleled reductions of time and cost to build a plane. I have dropped other things I am involved in and given myself a window of 6 months full time starting from this week at which time I will assess where I will go from there with it. I hope to have a finished plane at that stage, but that isn't actually the primary goal, the primary goal is to develop and optimise the new build system that might be the foundation of the world's fastest and easiest to build, cheapest aluminium kit plane ever. Time will tell.

    So I grabbed a little factory for this project last week, threw a painter at it on the weekend, got to get some new glass and other fittings this week, and yesterday arvo ordered some 4 x 1.2 build benches which to my delight, I received a picture message at 9am this morning on my phone (see attached picture). Not bad for $150 each, add some wood tops later. Hmm, I had better organise some racks for the aluminium tomorrow as well.

    I have ordered and paid for my aluminium which 3/4's of it has arrived at the source and waiting for the other 1/4 on it's way. Some other metal items are already built (ok, ok, I started last week!) while other items will be sourced along the way.

    Going to be a fun 6 months, so onward and upward!

    factory paint.jpg

    new bench.png
     
  2. Apr 5, 2016 #2

    cheapracer

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    Oh, and one thing I should mention, this build will be based on being completely done using only hand and electric tools, along with the "Weekend Handyman" skillz levels found in anyone's normal garage, that is part of the point.

    No special tools, no outsourcing, no special skillz required.
     
  3. Apr 6, 2016 #3

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    I had a busy morning doing other stuff which will also kill Thursday and Friday for me, but that's ok as my other 1/4 of the aluminium order hasn't arrived yet.

    I did manage to draw up and order some wall racks for the aluminium, noticed my 2nd bench almost finished and found an hour to nick around the corner and get some cheap 600 x 600 floor tiles 'left over from a job' for the benches and silastic them down onto bench number 1 ... Tiles are nice and flat, solid, and if you happen to break one, very easy to replace - and so many colours available!




     

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    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
  4. Apr 6, 2016 #4

    cheapracer

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    I like the Members Projects Forum having the inability to reply and think it has more advantages than disadvantages, and prefer it that way, but sometimes questions get asked that you didn't think of, or what people might be wanting to ask you.

    Here is one of them from elsewhere ..

    "This is like playing guess the aircraft.... Need more clues !"


    - I thought I was clear in the OP; Low wing 2 seat, predominantly aluminium (fiberglass nose and other bits as per standard), bigger than a Sonex, smaller than a Vans. Nothing particularly special or radical about it other than the build system and cost.


    It's the build system and cost that's being tested and optimised here, the plane is almost secondary to that.

    Adjustable width, if required, for 'larger' gentleman might be considered a special feature I guess.
     
  5. Apr 11, 2016 #5

    cheapracer

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    Yesterday coming back from a 3 day meeting I dropped off at the aluminium extrusion company and picked up a sample extrusion from my newly designed mold. Very happy with the results as the extrusion is a key element in saving a massive amount of time in initial construction.

    The extrusion aids in being jigless and making life wonderfully easy yet requiring some work to be done with simple tools by any handyman in any garage. This work is a requirement of the 51% rule but is being made easy, logical with a feeling of satisfaction that you built it, so the builder understands and deserves his repairman certificate.

    I have approved the mold and in 7 to 10 days will get my extrusions. My other extrusions are already done and waiting at the factory, nothing special there as they are stock box and angle sizes pretty much available anywhere. I'll go grab them when my wall racks are done. All aged 6061 of course.

    When I get that main extrusion lot in about a week, I'll explain the foundation of the system - besides actually start building it.


    Edit:
    In other news just in, my extrusions will be done "in less than 15 days", darn it, I was under the impression of 7 to 10 days. [​IMG] .... Still, a lot better that I am getting them locally, rather than getting them from the East Coast with shipping delays and what to do if material spec is wrong.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
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  6. Apr 12, 2016 #6

    cheapracer

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    So as mentioned, I got my sample extrusion so as I can check the extrusion mold. I picked up some scraps today after cutting and mucking around with it more and noted that the material was very soft and could bend it between my fingers, anyone who knows 6061 knows also you cant do that (like the difference between mild sheet steel and spring steel).


    I wasn't concerned at all, logically near the end of a normal extrusion run, the techs would have thrown my molds in and run through whatever they had left in the press to create my sample, they are not going to melt down 6061 ingots to form a slug, heat the slug just for a 500mm sample. It is just to check the mold dimensions after all.


    But I need to be careful of course, so rang the sales girl and mentioned this to which she replied "oh it's 6061, we send the samples out to your full spec". Now I know it wasn't so that had me concerned, so straight into the car with a pair of tin snips, straight to the factory to check my other 2/3rds of the order with the girl to find all is just fine, my extrusions are most certainly made from 6061 :ban:

    - The salesgirl needs a little more training about these processes!

    But my heart was beating when I snipped that sample with "what will I do" thoughts running through my mind!
    :gig: Pieces of any extrusions or sheet will always be sent to Australia for material confirmation testing as well just as security back up.


    So anyway, was nice to see my extrusions sitting there all ready to go, even if it is the minimum 500kgs (better than 5 tonnes for most factories!), not much I can do for the build until the next lot is finished (another 500kgs!), in "less than 15 days", hope it's closer to a week so I can get into it.


     

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  7. Apr 17, 2016 #7

    cheapracer

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    Just hanging around waiting for my extrusions to be done so I made these wall hangers to store the extrusions off the ground. Will chuck a few dyna bolts in this afternoon.

    I did get a bit unlucky with aluminium spot market prices, 1 day delay paying cost me a 40% hike - still relatively cheap though so not a deal breaker. Apparently Alcoa is saying there's no way they can keep up with demand in 2016 so expect the prices will be high throughout the year.






     

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  8. Apr 21, 2016 #8

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    Well sorry to say haven't got much to show except more boring pictures of the factory with it's new lights.

    New windows get fitted tomorrow and I'll get onto a dividing wall for the build area so I can throw in an airconditioner for the very humid Summer days we have here.

    Of course I would like to start building but until I get the main extrusions I can't, news today is early next week - to be honest I was expecting them 2 weeks ago immediately after I approved the mold based on the sample. I did a bit more tool shopping today but nothing special worth mentioning.

    So a few more days yet til it all begins ....
     
  9. Apr 26, 2016 #9

    cheapracer

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    Well just got the news that my extrusions are ready, I need to get to the factory in the morning to appraise them before wrapping and delivery.

    By the end of the week should be in my factory, got a young Chinese bloke hired and a New Zealand bloke arrives this week. Hmm better get a translator ... so I can understand the New Zealander.
    :gig:

    I also purchased a number engines to evaluate for the purpose, or not (that's why it's called evaluation). I need engines in the interim until I can get back into my own engine project.
     
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  10. Apr 30, 2016 #10

    cheapracer

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    Well 330 or so extrusions arrived this morning, I guess I had better start doing something with it towards the end of the week, still got a bit of factory setting up to do and it's a 4 day weekend here so can't do much til Tuesday about that.

    Hmm, might not look it, but that's about 2 kms/1.2 miles of extrusions there, hope it's enough .... ;)

    extrusions arrived 1.jpg

    My press drill/mill arrived also today, small crane, drop saw and bench saw besides various hand tools mid-week.

    So another wad of cash spent and more to go, all from just one pocket ... mine. I tell you, this scamming gig is costing me a pretty penny, I thought I was supposed to be raking it in from suckers ... :lex:
     
  11. May 6, 2016 #11

    cheapracer

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    As I said in my opening post, the purpose currently is to do a proof of concept finding optimizes and develop my system along the way.

    When you transpose a design from 3D to real world, there are often snags that can't be seen and I have come across one of those immediately, while it does work well in theory, the steel test frames proved that manufacturer's tube tolerances and distortions from welding, make it laborious and unpleasant to achieve a result to match up with the extrusions and takes away that satisfying feeling of achievement.

    So I spent a few days at the start of the week with 3D in the evenings and at the factory during the day, trying many alternates until the penny dropped and I came up with a winner. The last few days I have been waiting for my new frames which will be ready tomorrow.

    As soon as I confirm they are all sweet, I'll start posting some pictures to show the paths I'm following.
     
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  12. May 11, 2016 #12

    cheapracer

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    The XPB, "Extraordinary Plane Build", is termed so because I believe this will lead to a kit manufactured to a price and build speed not seen very often in the world of light aircraft.

    I will repeat that this is very much work in progress to develop the build system first, the plane itself is of secondary importance at this time but of course that is the ultimate aim. At anytime I reserve the right to run into a dead end, be completely bamboozled, and completely change what you might be seeing in these early days.

    Here I present the basic theme of stage 1, the frame construction method. Please note that I am actually building this now and as I feel I have proven each step's foundation to myself first, then and only then will I post the results. I would expect to have a freestanding frame complete by this weekend. "Freestanding" means the frame stays together by itself without and fasteners (rivets or bolts etc).

    During stage 2 you will see my answers and methods for fastening.

    I currently have everything I need in materials, extrusions, modules, braces and laterals in the factory, just taking longer than expected to set up some tooling and people.

    [​IMG]
     

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  13. May 12, 2016 #13

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    Well I should have spend the time sorting out a few other things, but being an excitable chap I couldn't wait to see my concept tested ... and as you can see for yourself, it does.

    There's a couple of little niggly bits I need to sort out, but the main technique is sound.

    The assembly as you see it here, is completely free of fasteners and only held together by the ratchet strap at the front. It takes less than 5 minutes to assemble this lot
     

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  14. May 12, 2016 #14

    cheapracer

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    I have been asked a couple of times about the holes being milled into the extrusions and concern of strength, the answer is a simple "no". The holes are only in the thin sheaths I included for anti-buckling only and not in the structure per say (I almost didn't include the sheaths) and that the load paths are spread through a large area through gussets which you will see later.

    Here is a "not to scale" visual approximation of the schedule where the braces meet,

    Again, NOT TO SCALE.

    brace schedule.jpg

    And here is another APPROXIMATE SAMPLE of how it goes together, also NOT TO SCALE and is NOT a sample from the actual aircraft design.

    gussets 1.jpg

    gussets 2.jpg

    I want to emphasis again that this currently is more about developing the build system, not the aircraft.
     
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  15. May 21, 2016 #15

    cheapracer

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    At the outset I said that "this is very much work in progress to develop the build system first, the plane itself is of secondary importance at this time but of course that is the ultimate aim"
    .. and ..
    " anytime I reserve the right to run into a dead end, be completely bamboozled, and completely change what you might be seeing in these early days".

    Well I have changed.

    Well it's been a long sleepless week and a bit, for me, designing new bits and crash coursing myself in a new 2D CAD to do the laser cutting files for those bits.

    While being very happy with the first concept in principle, I am not happy with the continuity of supply for material and especially welding to my standards, so felt no choice but to try a modification to the foundation. And here is some proof of what I have tried and discarded ...



    rubbish.jpg


    .... so the new system involves having some side plates laser cut to achieve the same result, today test ran the 4th design set (always amazing what seemingly small changes will make) and very happy with the result and will extend this method to the nose and tail through the week as well.

    Happy days, I might even sleep tonight ...
     

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  16. May 22, 2016 #16

    cheapracer

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    A question elsewhere ...

    "I'm a little puzzled here. You speak of "I am not happy with the continuity of supply for material, and especially welding to my standards" ...
    I was under the impression that Plan A involved inserting sections into stamped cut-outs in lengths of extrusion. I didn't see any welding involved in that design. Did I miss something?"



    Yes you missed the grey coloured, welded box sections at the nose, middle and tail holding it together. They are what I am not happy with to supply reliably to a standard.

    The side plates are riveted and bolted on and can be simply cut from which ever material I choose such as Chrome Moly, a 7000 series Al or Titanium sheet

    Have a look again at this picture then reference the "rubbish pile" picture just above ...


    first blood 2.jpg

    Also, finally my sheets arrived ...
     

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  17. May 23, 2016 #17

    cheapracer

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    "I like the flat plates over the welded frames because they are easier and cheaper to make."


    .. and a valid point is the laser will cut any material to the pattern, except carbon fibre which can be water cut. But I have a laser 5 minutes away so aluminium, chrome moly, titanium or stainless is the choice. Most likely Ti or stainless as they are at arm's length and available by the sheet. 440 stainless is stronger than chrome moly btw.



    So after another late night of designing nose and tail modules and today turning them into CNC files and sending them to my laser guy, hopefully tomorrow I will have some bits that look like this in real life ...

    nsp plate 5A.jpg

    In case anyone is wondering about the step in the frame where the 'X' is, that's where the landing gear goes.
     
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  18. May 24, 2016 #18

    cheapracer

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    So anyway, this morning had the new nose, new tail and slightly optimised center plates cut and couldn't be happier with the result. Note the nose plate will fold around the corner to support the firewall but is not folded yet in the pictures .. Very happy with the weights also, below target and lower than original concept.
     

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    Last edited: May 24, 2016
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  19. May 25, 2016 #19

    cheapracer

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    Today was important to me because I got the completely unskilled lad and another guy who has some trade skillz, albeit in another unrelated area, to put the other side together all by themselves. I wasn't at the factory and I told them under no circumstance were they allowed to contact me to ask questions. I asked them not to try to rush.

    3 hours it took them working it out as they went and I am pretty happy about that. There's a lot more going on between the 2 main center supports than you can see in the pictures btw.

    Point being that I wanted to see if it really is as easy to someone else as it is for me, apparently it is.

    (Note that the front supports are yet to be bent around for the firewall)
     

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  20. May 26, 2016 #20

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    Time to attend to the vertical and horizontal braces.

    One of the purposes of showing stuff on the net is to get feedback good or bad to aid in the decision making process and irrelevant of what is a good method or not, if people don't like it based on a feeling or lore then it's not wise to continue or argue the point.

    There has been one too many comments about me milling holes in the side of the extrusions, I can argue the point all day long but that doesn't mean a thing to those with a mindset that it's not a good thing, so with that in mind yesterday I drew up new vertical gussets with cute little fold out tabs to position the horizontal braces while the sides are drawn in towards each other.

    Tomorrow will have them laser cut out do a test run and see how they go ...
     

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