Mini Weasel

[belly of the Weasel]My first slope glider:  the mini-Weasel

(The videos on the site sold me -- they're great!)

It's small and light enough to be carried on a hike.  Good thing, since all the local slope sites require significant hiking (but maybe that's actually a good thing).  Bummer that the transmitter weighs about five times as much, but that's not the Weasel's fault.

My husband liked the kit so much, he bought one.  These were our introduction to slope soaring (see my tips page).

Oh, yeah: it's cute and it flies great.


The kit arrived two days after I'd ordered it.  The quality really impressed me.  Detailed instructions with pictures, ailerons already bevelled, and they even included small parts like control horns and wires, mini ez-connectors and micro ez-links.

Joining the wings and getting the dihedral right was hard.  I ended up with almost no dihedral.  I hope it doesn't matter too much.  Otherwise I really liked the spar installation technique, which went just as smoothly as the instructions implied.

[Weasel at White Sands]The instructions talk about using packing tape, yet the photos all show a weasel apparently already decorated.  I was going to use colored Zagi tape in the steps where they said to use packing tape, but Dave said no, use packing tape first, then Zagi tape on top.  Sounded heavy to me, but he was vehement about this being the right way (he's built EPP planes before and I hadn't) so I followed his instructions.  My weasel came out a bit heavy at 5.5oz.  Then Dave started talking about how his of course would be lighter and we'd see whether that mattered.  Sheesh!

Mine is way prettier, though!  It has totally different patterns top and bottom, and I find I like that -- there's certainly no difficulty telling which side is up.

It came out quite a bit tail-heavy.  In the flat grass field it seemed to fly best with two nickels taped to the nose.  Adding an additional quarter didn't help things.  Part of the tail-heaviness problem is due to the heavy coroplast vertical stabilizer.  They offer the option of a lightweight depron stabilizer; my advice is, take it.  I didn't, because I figured durability was more important than weight; but having to tape coins to the nose is silly, and I ended up making ailerons and a depron stabilizer out of a restaurant take-out container.  The depron tail is straighter than the warped coroplast piece, anyway.  My only regret is that I'd already used the cool-looking "" logo sticker on the coroplast piece.  Maybe I can persuade them to send me a few more stickers.  It looks like tails will be frequently-replaced items, especially if they're depron; they get munched pretty quickly.

I ordered a receiver battery along with the plane (4-cell 300mAh NiMH), because nobody here sells receiver batteries and theirs fits the Weasel's pod nicely.  I added a switch, though, and didn't glue in the battery the way the instructions suggested.


[Flying the Weasel at the Salton Sea]I'm guessing that it's normal after buying a new slope glider that the wind dies completely for weeks.  It was a long time before we were actually able to try our new miniWeasels in actual slope soaring conditions, with wind and a slope and all that.  But we found other ways of having fun -- for instance, we tossed them in the car when we went on vacation.  We also discovered that it's possible to have fun with them using a "discus launch" technique, or by what we dubbed "Weasel hiking", hiking up a hill then flying the Weasels along the trail as we hiked back down.  More techniques like this discussed in my slope tips page.

Like other flying wings, the Weasel apparently needs a transmitter which not only does elevon mixing, but can properly handle setting small throw on elevator and a bigger throw on ailerons.  I can't overstate how important this is for the mini Weasel -- it's incredibly sensitive to elevator throw, and stalls at the drop of a hat if you give it too much throw, but you can give it tons of aileron.  My old JR XF421 can't do this; or rather, it seems to, but the throw adjustments apply to the servos plugged in to the aileron and elevator channel, not to the logical functions.  So, in other words, if I set 50% throw on elevator, then the right servo's travel will be half the left servo's travel.  But I needed to upgrade anyway, for several reasons, so I upgraded to a JR6102.

How do you know when there's too much elevator?  I haven't seen this on other planes, but the Weasel starts porpoising -- it flies a mini-stall-and-recover sawtooth pattern which is very noticable once you realize what it means.  This is very helpful (at least to a beginning slope soarer) when you're trying to feel out the lift.

Anyway, get it all tuned, and the miniWeasel flies great!  Reponsive and aerobatic, but smooth and not twitchy.  On a reasonable slope with the right wind, it dances and plays.  It does beautiful rolls and split-esses.  I haven't managed a loop yet (can't seem to build up enough steam) but but they show loops and vertical rolls in the videos, so I know it's possible.


I put a "Crashing" section in all my plane pages, but I hesitated to put one here, because it seems like bonking the Weasel into things is just part of flying it (at least for beginners like us in a time of no wind at all).  Fortunately, the mini Weasel is all EPP foam, and has a soft foamy EPP nose that sticks out front.  It can scream straight down, hit the dirt and bounce.  Good thing!

It's also relatively soft when it hits people.  Practicing hand launches, I've hit myself several times, and Dave and I have hit each other.  If it hits you at full speed, it can leave a bruise, but that's about it.  So far we haven't hit anyone else, and I hope that continues. :-)

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