Stack Talk – Vol.2 Issue 3


The calendar says that Spring has officially arrived.  I think Mother Nature needs to get a new calendar!  It’s still snowing outside as I write this.  Oh well, warmer temps really are just around the corner – we can tell by all the R/C car and truck activity that we have seen lately.  Cars and trucks are coming out of storage from the long winter and receiving cleaning, repairs, and updates by our expert team.  If you have a long unused vehicle, or one that simply needs some TLC after last seasons use, bring it in and let our repair department work its magic on it.

Another sign of Spring is the ever increasing sightings of the G scale model railroader.  This creature emerges from a long winter hibernation and starts to work on the outdoor version of what so many of us spent the winter on.  Ground must be prepared or cleared of debris, track must be laid or rehabbed from the winter elements, and trains must be prepped and run.  We can help!  We have many new items in stock in G scale, from locomotives and rolling stock, to figures and structures, and of course track.  You can see some examples in the Arrivals section.

Coming in early May we are planning our first annual Smoke Stack Hobby Shop Swap Meet.  We will provide further details soon, but our initial plans are for an all scales, all vehicles, all trains, all anything swap meet.  If you got it or need it, bring it and swap it, sell it, or buy it.  We will also have the grill fired up and have hot dogs, chips, drinks, and popcorn for a nominal fee.

April 11th and 12th we will be having our Customer Appreciation Sale.  We will be offering double Smokey Bucks on all purchases.  Mark your calendar and stay tuned for additional details.


Baldwin 4-6-0 by Bachmann

Warmer weather promises to be just around the corner, and we have just the ticket for it.  In G scale we we some beautiful offerings including the gorgeous Bachmann Baldwin 2-6-0 in the classic Bumble Bee livery. It’s compatible with any G scale equipment and has an operating headlight, smoke and speed-synchronized sound, metal gears and an updated lead truck. It also comes with metal siderods, separate piping and all metal handrails.

crossing gate
Bachmann large scale crossing gates

Also from Bachmann is the large scale crossing gate.  Made of durably molded plastic construction with steel tubular rails and life-like crossing gates. The gates automatically lower as a train approaches. It can be painted and decorated to simulate ground cover and is designed for use with Bachmann’s Large Scale Track. This will add animated excitement to your outdoor layout.

Power Edition
AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition

Finally we have the AR.Drone 2.0 Quadricopter, Power Edition in stock. The Power Edition includes two 1500mAh HD batteries that provide up to 36 minutes of flying time (18 minutes per battery). You can also customize your AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition with the three included additional colored propellers. And the Drone still includes HD photo and video capability. This quadricopter is controlled intuitively using a Smartphone or a tablet. The ultimate flying experience! View the Earth from above, in high definition, and share your experience on the Internet with people all around the World.

fire truckIn closing, while we are not a toy store, we do make an effort to get children and young adults involved in the hobby world. We have a large number of Snap-Tite model kits from Revell which are great for children. They are easy to assemble, require little to no glue, and in many cases can be done without adult supervision. We also have a number of Tamiya kits which require assembly, but when finished, give the builder a working crawler, walker, dozer, etc. These are great for science projects, 4-H, or anyone just wanting to try their skills at building a mechanical kit.

track vehiclewheel walkerdozer
or those who want to build a little differently, we have a nice selection of entry level train sets which are easy for youngsters to assemble and allow them to experiment with their own vision of what a train layout should look like.  And to assist with that initial set, we always try to keep a fair selection of gently used items on hand. This can range from locomotives to rolling stock to figures.  In some cases many of the items are still new, but we acquire them at great prices and pass that savings on to you.  While we can never predict the amount of bargain items on hand, we do make an effort to have items in all scales. So get your kids involved in a hobby. Most kids love “building” and will surprise you with what they can do with a little encouragement.

Parrot A.R. Drone 2.0 Review

by Don

Let me start by saying that I am not an R/C air guy.  If it runs on rails, that’s more my thing.  However, I decided to take a stab at the Parrot A.R. Drone, and I was pleasantly surprised.  After checking this quadricopter out, I believe it may be the easiest aircraft we have in the shop to fly.

The A.R. Drone requires a user supplied Smartphone or Tablet to fly.  It works on Apple and Android devices and the app is a free download.  The Drone supplies its own Wi-Fi signal, so no internet connection is required.  You can fly this quad virtually anywhere.

AR Drone Freeflight App

Once the app is downloaded to your device, simply plug the battery into the quad, go to your devices Wi-Fi settings, and connect to the Drone.  Then open the Freeflight app and you are ready to go.  You will see a real-time First Person View (FPV) on your screen.  In other words, you get a high definition live video stream right to your Smartphone or tablet as you are flying. See a clean, sharp image just as if you were in the pilot seat.   Once you have experience, you will be able to fly the Drone in out-of-sight situations simply by using your screen as your eyes.

AR Drone
Parrot A.R. Drone 2.0

The Drone comes with one 1000mAh HD battery that provides up to 10 minutes of flying time.  If you purchase the Power Edition, you get two 1500mAh HD batteries that provide up to 36 minutes of flying time (18 minutes per battery).  The Power Edition also comes with 3 additional colored propellers.

Flying is simple.  Simply tap the Take Off button on your screen and the Drone will rise about 3 feet and wait for further commands. That same button becomes the landing button and with a touch you can automatically land the Drone.  On your screen are two control “buttons”.  Touch and hold the left button with your thumb and tilt your device in the direction you want the drone to head.  Touch the right button and slide your thumb up or down for power (altitude) adjustments or slide left and right to rotate the quadricopter,  You can also set absolute control, which means that you can send the copter in the desired direction no matter the quad’s orientation.  So if the quad is facing you and you tilt your device to the left, the quad will move left, instead of to the right as it would in the normal mode.  All of the flight characteristics are fully configurable, from vertical speed to horizontal speed, maximum altitude, and rotational speed.  The Drone can even do flips with the touch of a button on the screen.

With two cameras, one forward facing and one downward, you can capture all of the action via video or still photos.  A touch of a button on your screen selects which camera to use and another button will snap a photo or start video recording.  Video storage is on the fly with Wi-Fi directly on your remote device or on a USB Key connected to the USB slot in the battery compartment.

The Parrot Drone also has an available flight recorder. This new accessory improves the features of the AR.Drone 2.0 and records more than 350 flight settings. It is the black box of your AR.Drone 2.0. This new accessory improves the features of the AR.Drone 2.0 and records more than 350 flight settings. It is the black box of your AR.Drone 2.0.  What can the GPS do?

– Geolocation using the GPS module
– Select your destination on the map
– Record flights and videos using 4 Gb Flash memories
– Review your flights modeled in 3D on the AR.Drone Academy map
– Make the AR.Drone 2.0 automatically return to its take-off point
– Improve stability in flight

– Select the destination on the map
– Set the altitude and cruise speed
– Click “GO”
– The AR.Drone starts its flight (operates within the limit of the Wi-Fi connection with the control device)

As I said at the beginning, I am not an R/C Air enthusiast and have minimal exposure to anything that flies by remote control.  However, I was able to immediately take off the Drone and navigate it around the shop.  And at any point that you feel like you are getting out of your element, removing your thumbs from the screen will stop the quad and put it into a stable hover, from which you can resume your flight.  I was able to increase altitude, spin the drone, start a recording, and land it without incident.  We have even had a number of customers that have never flown before come in the shop and take the Drone for short test flights.  The ease of control is remarkable, but with all the user defined settings, the quad can be set up so that even an experienced flyer can have loads of fun.

We even stock add-on light kits for the drone so that you can turn it into a flying light show!!  The Parrot A.R. Drone is a fun, easy-to-fly quad that allows novice and expert alike to fly and film.  The only negative I have on it is the limited flight time with the stock 1000 mAh battery.  8-10 minutes is good but not great.  Although given the size of the quad and the power demands of lights and video, 8-10 is still a reasonable flight time.  Add the two 1500 mAh batteries in the Power Edition (or purchase them separately) and you now have a quadricopter that can fly for a satisfyingly extended period of time.  We here at the shop love it and give it a 4.5 star rating.


 Technical Specs

• HD Camera. 720p 30fps
• Wide angle lens : 92° diagonal
• Video storage on the fly with Wi-Fi directly on your remote device or on a USB Key
• H264 encoding base profile
• Low latency streaming
• Traveling, Pan, Crane predefined autopilot modes for video recording
• JPEG photo capture

Trying your most daring tricks won’t even challenge this cutting edge design which is made to last.

• Foam to isolate the inertial center from the engines’ vibrations
• Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) hulls
• Carbon fiber tubes : Total weight 380g with outdoor hull, 420g with indoor hull
• High grade 30% fiber charged nylon plastic parts
• Liquid Repellent Nano-Coating on ultrasound sensors
• Fully reparable: All parts and instructions for repairing available on the internet

AR.Drone 2.0 on-board technology gives you extreme precision control and automatic stabilization features.

• 1GHz 32 bit ARM Cortex A8 processor with 800MHz video DSP TMS320DMC64x
• 1Gbit DDR2 RAM at 200MHz
• Wi-Fi™ b/g/n
• 3 axis accelerometer +/- 50mg precision
• 3 axis gyroscope 2000°/second precision
• Pressure sensor +/- 10 Pa precision (80 cm / 2.6 feet at sea level)
• 60 fps vertical QVGA camera for ground speed measurement
• 3 axis magnetometer 6° precision
• Ultrasound sensors for ground altitude measurement
• Linux 2.6.32
• USB 2.0 high speed for extensions

Fly high. Fly fast. Far away from the ground.

• 3 elements 1.000 mA/H LiPo rechargeable battery
• Specific high propelled drag for great maneuverability
• 8 MIPS AVR CPU per motor controller
• 4 brushless inrunner motors. 14.5 watt and 28 500 rpm when hovering
• Self-lubricating bronze bearings
• Tempered steel propeller shafts
• Low noise Nylatron gears for 8.625 propeller reductor
• Micro ball bearing
• Rare earth magnets
• Emergency stop controlled by software
• Fully reprogrammable motor controller
• Water resistant motor’s electronic controller
• Download AR.FreeFlight 2.0 control application for free on the App Store or the Google Play.
• Tilt your Smartphone or tablet to pilot the AR.Drone 2.0.
• Includes several control modes from beginner to expert including the new patented “Absolute Control” mode. Be a flying ace in 5 minutes!
• Record and share videos on YouTube and pictures on Picasa directly from the piloting interface.
• USB key recording option.
• Access the exclusive acrobatic flip move, letting you perform barrel rolls as you are flying!
• Store and share your flight data (time, speed, altitude …) to unlock community achievements*.
• Geolocate your flights and connect with a community of pilots to discover the best flying spots and videos from all over the world or check who is flying in your neighborhood.

— without the hull: 366g
— with indoor hull: 436g
— with outdoor hull: 400g
— without the hull: 45 x 29 cm
— with indoor hull: 51,5 x 51,5 cm
— with outdoor hull: 45,2 x 45,2 cm
— Lithium polymer battery (3 cells, 11.1V, 1000 mAh)
— Charging time: 1h30
— Running time: 12 mn
Embedded computer system
— CPU OMAP 3630 1GHz ARM cortex A8
— NAND Flash memory 128MB
— Wi-Fi /g/n
— Linux OS
Ultrasound altimeter
— Emission frequency: 40kHz
— Range: 6 metres
Front Camera
— 90° wide-angle diagonal lens camera, CMOS sensor
— Video frequency: 30fps
— Resolution: 1280×720 pixels (720p)
Vertical Camera
— 64° wide-angle diagonal lens camera, CMOS sensor
— Video frequency: 60fps
— Resolution: 320×240 pixels (QVGA)
AR.Drone 2.0 operating temperature
— 0°C – 55°C

Stack Talk – Vol. 2 Issue 2


Guess what? Spring is just around the corner (about 3 weeks away as I write this). That means all of you R/C enthusiasts will soon be coming out of your long winter hibernation to take up your throttles and fly that plane or drive that car. And we have been busy preparing for that. We now have in stock a nice selection of R/C airplanes, cars, and trucks to choose from. And while the snow may be slowly melting away, we hope our railroading and modeling friends are not. We continue to get many new arrivals on the modeling front, including many beautiful pieces from HK, Kitty Hawk, Amusing Hobby, and Takom. For the Sci-Fi and Fantasy folks, we have some really interesting new arrivals. See the Arrivals section below for a sampling of our new stock. We have also added a nice new line of acrylic paints from Life-Color. We have a large selection of colors in stock. Murph has personally tested the paints and gives them high marks. We have added quite a few new modeling tools (files, brushes, tweezers, etc.) and have also expanded our selections of K&S metals and Evergreen styrene.

For those of us who like to see our models run on rails, we are starting to see some increased shipments of track. Some of those hard-to-get Walthers switches are now in stock. We also have a great lineup of HO engines. If you are in the area stop in and see our selection. Also be sure to check out our large selection of HO, N, and O scale buildings – both in ready built and kit form.

Coming up later this month is the FORKS 39th Annual RC Model Show and Swap Shop. The show will be held at the Fairfield County Fairgrounds on March 22. Doors open at 8 a.m. to the public. Our very own Butch will be there representing The Smoke Stack, so stop by and say hello.


Delta RayIn the aircraft department we have the truly exciting Delta Ray with SAFEtm technology from HobbyZone®. With SAFE™ technology and carefully engineered aerodynamics, the groundbreaking HobbyZone® Delta Ray™ aircraft provide pilots with a flying experience that is gentle and worry-free, even for total beginners! Plus, everything you need comes in one box, including a Spektrum™ DX4e transmitter, making it the ultimate beginner-friendly aircraft. With three flight modes (beginner, intermediate, and expert) and  “Panic Mode” that returns the aircraft to stable, level flight with the push of a button, the Delta Ray is a terrific bargain for the price – just $179.99.

TetonOn the ground, we now have the Teton from Traxxas. The Teton™ packs big all-weather adventure into a powerful 4-wheel drive off-roader that’s quick and versatile for radio-controlled fun anytime, anywhere. This tough rig checks in at 1/18 scale, yet its purposeful design easily tackles rugged back-road terrain.  It’s ready-to-run and comes in the same 4 colors (red, green, blue, and orange) as its big brother, the Telluride. At $159.99 it’s a great value!

For the Sci-Fi and Fantasy folks, we have some really cool kits in from Pegasus, Polar Lights, and Bandai.  The Pegasus models are the Galaxy Quest NTE-3120, the Apollo 27 Rocket, and the Area 51 UFO.
galaxy quest area 51 apollo 27

forbidden planetFrom Polar Lights we have the Forbidden Planet C-57D Space Cruiser that features pre-wired lights and a rotating motor!

Lastly, we have listened to customer requests and have started to stock Gundam. We now have a selection of kits from Bandai and more are arriving weekly.

Building the BDSRy – Part 3 Painting & Detailing Rocks

In this installment we will show how Murph details our rock wall.

Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement

Once the rocks have been painted to his satisfaction, Murph began the process of detailing them with small rocks, lichen, and branches.  The first step was to coat the area to be covered with Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement.  While the cement was still wet, he laid down a base layer of ground foam, dirt, ballast, and rocks.  He randomly sprinkled the items throughout to avoid getting a too uniform look.

Coat the area to be covered with scenic glue
IMAG0514 - Copy
Sprinkle a light coat of ballast, dirt, or stones.

IMAG0517The scenic cement dries clear, so there were no worries about laying down too much of it.  After laying down the ground cover, Murph moved on to adding some interesting details.  A quick trip outside the shop yielded a promising looking tree branch that could be modified for our use.  Murph trimmed it, coated the branches with more scenic glue, sprinkled on the desired amount, then mounted it to the foam scenery base.

Murph places some tall grass onto the embankment.

The final step was to add a variety of tall plants growing out from the rocks.  For this Murph used Woodland Scenics Field Grass.  Each piece was trimmed to the desired height, then a small amount of scenic cement was added to the spot he wanted to place the grass.  Using a tweezers, he applied the bundles and held them in place for a few moments.

The finished product is a nice rock embankment where our O scale Big Dog Scenic Ry runs.  This particular piece was placed just outside our tunnel.  A high-level shot gives a nice view of the finished product.

The Big Dog Scenic Ry exits the tunnel and passes our new rock embankment.IMAG0521