Short Finals No.36

As I was saying...

Following the comments made in the January issue, I find that I was most remiss in not wishing you all a Happy New Year in November so that you could read it in January in the February issue. However, this is being written in early January, so it makes sense to me. Humble apologies and a Happy Easter.


Graphics are here

The latest generation of R/C transmitters incorporate some means of visual indication of the different values set for the various functions. Initially this took the form of a digital readout of the numerical values only. One of the disadvantages of this system was that the effect of trims was not directly indicated and it was necessary to make a careful note of exactly what was being entered. In several cases it was possible to increase both the servo travel and the rate switch setting of a given channel beyond the normal travel. The overall effect of this was not directly apparent, and it was necessary to mentally multiply the two values.

Now we are seeing some form of graphic representation of the throws, rates, etc. This is becoming increasingly sophisticated (my dictionary says that 'sophistication' means 'debasing the purity of anything by a foreign admixture') and even allows you to see the effect of the trim lever as it is actually moved. The whole thing is even further dressed up by an 'entry screen' which includes the manufacturers logo and a picture of the model type catered for. This also allows you to indicate the number - or even the name - of the selected model, together with the length of time that the transmitter has been in use since its last charge. Thinks: a built-in weather forecasting facility would be useful!

Originally, all of the information was entered via pushbuttons, but a number of contest flyers insisted that they still needed some form of manual 'fine tuning'. This has led to the reinstatement of some of the discarded trimmers but with the provision for them to be 'inhibited' or even have their travel range programmed into the computer. One very welcome idea is to allow you to decide exactly what each switch on the transmitter can do. Another is the facility to centre the trim levers electronically, without having to adjust the model. Like most good ideas, however, this is capable of abuse and can run out of servo movement if overdone.

The very latest innovation is to incorporate the pushbuttons into a membrane over the screen so that the actual point to be depressed is indicated directly on the screen itself. This has been seen before, but only on very expensive instrumentation.

There is no doubt that, for the handful of people who actually need it, this equipment will fill a long felt want. What's more, those who need it will almost certainly be able to understand it. We dealt at length with the further ramifications of that thought, last month.


Who reads it anyway?

When it becomes difficult to find material for this column (i.e. every month), it often pays to peruse the pages of recent copies of RM. All the other magazines take themselves far too seriously and are better left alone - unless things become really desperate. Come to think of it, I don't read very much of the others either - unless....

I read with some amusement the letter from A.A.C.Jordan (aluminium, aluminium, chrome? - no, perhaps not) querying whether there was anyone in the Argus office with a working knowledge of English. A silly question - we all know that there isn't (get that apostrophe in the right place!). What's more, there is no accepted standard for spelling or grammar - as in many publishing houses. The real question, however, ('however' should always be preceded, and followed, by a comma - unless it's [careful] preceded, or followed, by a full stop, that is) is would it make any difference if there was?.

The fact is that those of us who submit their copy in immaculately typed, double spaced, spell-checked form, usually tear out our rapidly thinning hair when we see the result. Those who submit copy in a hastily scribbled state tend to find that the results don't (watch it) look too bad - assuming that they can tell the difference anyway.

No matter how carefully you may consider your prose in an attempt to make it as unambiguous and foolproof as possible (except that bit two paragraphs back), the fact remains that one comma or letter can sometimes alter the whole context of what you are saying. The more crafty editor will often send the writer a proof, or galley, to read and check for himself, but this system is far from foolproof for a number of reasons. There simply isn't (that's an abbreviation of 'is not' - OK?) time to send a proof of the corrected version for rechecking.

A certain Argus managing editor once insisted that the word 'and' should never be preceded by a comma! Incidentally, I believe that it is high time that a preservation order was slapped on that poor defenceless object!

I can cite a recent case where four apostrophes went missing from one line - and the writer checked a galley copy himself.

Anyway, have you checked the opposition recently?

I am filled with admiration for Alain Vassel's Piaggio-Pegna PC7 Schneider racer (December issue). The rules for the model Schneider meeting allow such a model to compete and few would argue with such an achievement. The snag is, of course, that in a scale contest it would present the judges with some fascinating decisions. If they were to insist on a true scale performance it would be restricted to chugging round the lake in a semi-submerged state. Do the scale rules specifically state that the prototype must actually have flown?

Regarding the strange case of the missing 'Lancaster' (December 'Write Hand Circuits'), my understanding was that it flew into the back of a van some ten years ago and hadn't been seen since! By the way, did you all see Julie Lever on 'Bob's Full House' recently? I always knew that somebody in that household had brains.

Question 1: Why does 'Superplan 3' on the cover - and plan - become 'Superplan 2' on the article heading?

Question 2: Why does a helicopter fuselage which is subjected to no load require strengthening?


I wish I had said that

The great pre-war Italian racing driver Tazio Nuvolari was lying injured at the side of the road following an accident in the Targa Florio road race. A priest approached and asked him why he did this dangerous thing.

"Tell me, Father," asked Nuvolari, "do you expect to die in bed?"

"Of course, my son", came the reply.

"Then tell me," inquired Tazio, "where do you find the courage to climb into one every night?"

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