Palm Z Foam Flyer
The Palm Z micro plane uses infrared guidance to fly in your living room!
- No additional equipment needed to fly
- Two channel control - proportional rudder and throttle
- Skill level: Beginner to advanced
- Flight characteristics: 9.5 out of 10 (great fun!)
- Where to buy: www.amazon.com
The Palm Z electric RC airplane comes as a complete, ready to fly package for under $40. The Palm Z is made of foam and is exceptionally lightweight.
The proportional rudder is controlled by a magnetic actuator which is common in smaller model planes. An actuator differs from the more normal servo by providing the control input as part of the control surface.
Palm Z transmitter
Note that I mention the Palm Z RC plane is remote control, rather than a radio frequency controlled model airplane. The Palm Z's transmitter operates on the infrared frequency band, much like the remote control for a television set.
You can see the three small clear plastic antenna knobs on the top of the transmitter for the IR signal. The vast majority of remote controlled planes operate on radio frequencies. There are a few other remote control systems that operation in the IR spectrum. The Havoc Cyclone is a good example.
The chief attraction of using an infrared control system is low cost. The IR system of the Palm Z provides positive control of the airplane.
There is one key item you must keep in mind always when flying this ready to fly micro model. The IR signal from the transmitter is very directional. You should keep the transmitter pointed right at the Palm Z at all times for effective control.
With the other RC airplane systems the radio frequency signal tended to propagate in a wide pattern from the transmitter. The transmitter could be held in a variety of positions, and the control signal usually got through to the model fine. ParkZone aircraft use radio frequency for precise model airplane control.
Loss of IR signal
With the Palm Z, especially when the model is flying close to you, it can get out of an area where the airplane's receiver "can see" the transmitter's infrared signal and the plane will not respond to your control inputs.
Once you understand the requirement to always point the transmitter at this Palm Z these problems are minimized. The Palm Z flies very nicely.
An interesting feature of the Palm Z is that the airplane battery charger is part of the transmitter. There is nothing extra to purchase or carry to your flying location.
An innovative charging jack is built into the face of the transmitter. Just mount the Palm Z on the recharging jack and you are ready for another flight with fully charged flight batteries in about 15 minutes. You cannot get any safer or convenient charging process than with this method.
Throttle and rudder
At a given throttle setting (airspeed), the Palm Z will maintain altitude. Increase power, and the aircraft will climb. Decrease power, and the model will descend.
The rudder provides positive turn control inputs. Remember that for any airplane you should slightly increase power during any turn to maintain altitude. Be sure to reduce the power slightly when the turn is complete, or you will climb a bit.
With three channel RC control you can use both the throttle and elevator for precise altitude and airspeed control.
The Palm Z's motor is surprisingly tiny but is geared to the large propeller to provide plenty of thrust. The transmitter has a spring loaded throttle control on the left, and rudder control on the right.
Larger propellers moving at slower rounds-per-minute give good efficiency to the smaller models. You will not get top speed with this arrangement, but good power from miniature motors.
The key trick in learning how to an IR controlled model is to keep the transmitter pointed straight at the Palm Z where ever it might be. This is especially important when flying close to you.
If you ever sense the Palm Z is not responding as it should to your control input (usually going into a tight, uncommanded turn) the answer almost always is that the infrared signal is not getting a clear view to the airplane.
The Palm Z's very light weight provides enjoyable flight characteristics, especially with slow flight. You'll soon be very comfortable flying close in.
Author: Gordon McKay