Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sportube upgrade for slope soaring

Many F3x pilots who occasionally travel with their cherished models to attend competitions know the usefullness of the large Sportube. The Sportube is a hard case transportation system primarily intended for snowboards or skis. The large model I've acquired some weeks ago has volume for 3 pairs of skis or 2 snowboards including boots and bindings. Of course, I bought it because it's a handy way to transport my composite model gliders!
First time I saw one was at the F3F French Cup race in Briançon this summer. There, we had four all-track vehicles to transport our gear and ourselves to the slope for the competition. While most of us struggled to have our rucksacks/snowboard bags/other quivers not too deep down in the heap of gear loaded onto the pickups , Pierre Rondel had a good time because he knew his models were safely protected in a rugged Sportube case!
Picture by P. Rondel 2010
There I knew I wanted one myself. After asking Pierre, I ordered mine in France from Telemark-Pyrenees. Those people at this excellent shop gave an perfect and very fast service, and I had my case in a week or so through regular mail for very adapted shipping costs.
When I received my Sportube, I filled it with wings and fuselages. The handy pull-handle I ordered as option was perfect for dragging the long tube around on its wheels. Both top handles are good to carry the tube around up and downstairs, and to load and unload the car. If the longer shoulder strap is nice for short hauling around, it's not good enough for carrying a fully loaded Sportube for longer walks or climbing some slope to the take-off site. But it's true, in the domain of F3F, the Sportube is not much intended for field use; it's mainly made for transporting sporting gear in cars, buses, airplanes, etc.
At the Wasserkuppe in Germany, when we arrived on site, it was raining a little bit. Since the nearest flyable slope was, at this time, just a short walk across a grassy airfield landing strip, I decided to get there pulling my Sportube. This was a perfect situation and my gear was protected from the rain. In fact I could have left it in the rain for hours without the fear of getting water in contact with my gliders! there I understood this tube has also advantages in the field, especially when the weather is not perfect.
The main disadvantage of the Sportube is its overall carrying weight when fully loaded. But then I thought I'd had much more weight during some hikes, when we went around with camping stuff, tent, sleeping bag, matrass, food, cooking gear, headlamp, photographic camera stuff, spare socks, raincoat, etc. All this stuff was weighting up to 25-30 kg (ok, 30 kg was probably in the army, not on holiday!). In what sort of container had we all this? Yes: in a convenient rucksack! That's the best way to carry things up to the slope. And that's what I've done since I do RC slope flying: everything in a high mountaineer rucksack, so I've got empty hands to take some picture... or [rarely] for having a smoke while climbing (I know, bad!)
Since I wanted to be able to carry my Sportube in the field, I had only one possibility: to transform it into a rucksack!

So there I went tonight. I needed following stuff:
- one nice Series 3 Sportube
- one old rucksack to scavenge the carrying straps and the belt
- 4 M6 x 25mm screws with rounded head
- 8 M6 nuts
- 8 30mm washers with 6mm hole
- 4 M6 nylon-stop nuts
- some paper tape and a pencil
- my drill with a 6mm bit
- my Galaxy S to take pics

I placed four 6mm holes in the top half of the Sportube, two on each side near the base and two about one arm+hand length higher on the back, about one hand apart. Then in each holes I inserted a rounded head screw with one large washer from the inside of the Sportube. On the other side came a second washer and a nut. The end of the carrying straps were inserted onto the screw fillet and secured by a nylon-stop nut.

In less time than I thought, my Sportube was reloaded with 3 gliders, both tube halves sled together and I was there, in the middle of my living room, very conveniently carrying my Sportube on my back!

In a few days I'll be able to report field usage. So now: are you ready to drill holes into your Sportube?

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