R/C Soaring Digest

October 1998

 

Gordy's Travels

Winch is it?

Or, Tension on the Road!

 

By: Gordy Stahl, Louisville, Kentucky

e-mail: Gordysoar@aol.com

Over the years, the "sport" winch has come and gone, the basic design parameters staying pretty much the same. That holds true for the Little Big Winch (LBW). Of course, improvements have been added!

Walt Dimick designed the LBW as a premium device, not down to a price but up to a quality. With neatly machined, anodized aluminum components, this winch is tiny and lightweight, yet extremely powerful.

Everything included is first class: foot pedal, battery quick disconnects, stakes for holding the winch in place and the turnaround.Wow! That turnaround is awesome! Aluminum and anodized to keep it resistant to oxidizing, it features a low mass, 3.5" phonelic pulley with a lifetime lubed military spec bearing, and comes mounted on a steel stake. The good news is that the turnaround is also available by itself.

So, what's a sport / practice winch all about? Convenience and Control. Yep, that's right. The LBWinch is small and light and nearly as easy to set up as a bungy. Bungies are cheaper, but a winch allows you to apply gradual and consistent force all during the launch phase. It allows you to have huge launches without applying a lot of force in windy conditions since you can hold tension, kiting your ship to altitude, hardly taking any line in. In light wind conditions, you can use more line speed, again without the heavy initial load, gaining altitude because you aren't carrying that dead piece of rubber up with your plane.

 

High-starts are elastic, they are powerful the first few times, and slowly but surely they die. They don't teach you anything about winching, the launch system used at virtually every contest. The LBW is a winch. Is it as powerful as a contest winch? No, but it can rip the wings off lots of planes if you really try, and it will safely launch any open class ship that I know of. Walt tells me that, as of August, all new orders will be outfitted with motors that are of an improved design. I am told that while this new motor is the same size as the original, it develops 40% more torque and runs cooler than the one I demo'd at the Mid-South, and we launched our contest ships on that one at the practice field most of the night.

 

Size does matte, I mean, take a look at the specs. It is a package easily carried in one hand. Even the recommended battery, lawn tractor size, is compact. That means one guy can go to the field, set up and launch all day, without straining his back stretching a 30+ pound package of battery and winch.

 

Oh yeah, it even has a brake system to help protect against the drum over feeding the line. The motor is a permanent magnet motor, unlike the big longshaft motors, which have field coils. So what? Well, a permanent magnet motor converts the magnet's energy into electrical energy, you know just like a generator. I know, what does that have to do with braking the drum?

 

Well, by shunting the output leads of a generator, the electrical energy comes to a dead end, and sort of like blocking off a water line, the magnetic energy causes the armature to kind of bind up, and the drum is connected to the shaft of the armature. Now if the output leads of the motor were dead shorted the brushes would be taking the entire load, causing lots of heat and destruction. So on the LBW, as on the past sport winches, an adjustable resistor is used to collect that output energy and dissipate it slowly in the form of heat, while braking the drum's centrifugal energy.

 

The bottom line is this; we have a small amount of time out of our lives to spend soaring. Each launch is important, cuz they eat up time. Being in control of the launch tension is important to your plane. Having one bungee doesn't really work for launching everything. The LBW lets you safely launch HLG's, 2m's, and open class ships up to and including a Sailaire.

 

Years ago, when the other sport winches were available, some of us put off getting one. We all knew we probably needed and wanted one, but put off getting one, and we all regretted it. Thanks to Walt for not only bringing it back, but for bringing it back with style. True, you could buy lots of new high starts for the money spent on the LBW, but not one of them will give you the consistent tension control, that only a winch can produce.

 

Word has it that there is quite a waiting list, so contact Walt ASAP if you have been thinking about making the step up to a winch.

 

You can reach him at Wdimick@aol.com, or at (503) 659-7883. He has a website at http://www.sigfilms.com/LBWinch .

 

You always hear that it's the little things in life that count; this winch is little! But with plenty of power.

 

Thanks as usual for taking this trip with me. See you on the road!

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