It was a beautiful day for a test flight. Yesterday Troy, “The Krazy Kracker“ and I installed Robert Kittila’s Throggle. A throttle that has the brake toggle fixed to the body of the throttle body allowing the pilot to start the engine after he has the risers in hand ready to launch. Visually it’s a work of art. A black matte handle contoured to fit the hand with a groove cut for the brake toggle. The start, kill button and throttle/cruise control are molded into the top so that all the controls are within reach of the thumb. The cruise control is an aluminum tab that is easy to adjust and engage.
The first flight was cut short when I noticed a line tangle right after lift off but everything worked as advertised. The second launch was also a short flight but it allowed me to test the throttle.
I hope Robert finds a market for the throggle but it’s not me. After a very short flight I found a couple of things that were show stoppers. Probably the biggest is that it’s not easy to clip the throggle to the risers and I’m not sure they would stay attached in every situation. I like to park the brakes and give my arms a rest. Theoretically, with the throggle you set the cruise control and park the brakes but that doesn’t work for me because even when I’m out of the brakes I like to have control of the RPMs. It’s cumbersome to keep reaching over to adjust the cruise tab especially when it’s attached to the magnets. Incidentally the cable is too long and it looked like if it came off the magnet, it could easily be sucked into the prop. So …. I stopped testing parked brakes right there.
One issue was during the launch. I like to have my hands on the A lines during inflation. It’s possible to hook the #1 A with the thumb and control the throttle but once the wing is up, the A needs to be released and the thumb lever also gets released when that happens. So… for a moment the thrust is reduced. On a hard surface, like this morning, it was no big deal because the cart had very little drag but on grass the cart would slow immediately causing the wing to surge, forcing me to brake at a low speed to keep the wing overhead. It would delay the launch and add unnecessary complexity. The A assists can do the job without me being in the A’s but I like to feel the wing during those crucial seconds.
The thumb throttle control works fine but the spring tension had to be reduced to accommodate the short lever weaker thumb. I can imagine that without using the cruise control the thumb could get pretty tired.
Another problem was the way we wired into the motor. The starter can be engaged at any time whether the key is in or not. It can be tapped during a flight or perhaps while we’re standing around in the garage. It would be much better if it only engaged when the key was turned to run. That can be fixed if I change my opinion and decide to continue with this throttle. As it is, I’m going to have to rig some kind of mid-cable leash that will prevent a lost cable from going into the prop.. I’d like to put a Velcro hand strap across the body but I’m afraid that the toggle Not In the nifty groove would be too thick for my small hands. Plus …. Velcro adhesive doesn’t want to adhere to the 3D printed nylon.
I might have a couple more flights with the throggle but right now I’m pretty sure I’m going to re-install the old lever and be on the lookout for a new one with a start and kill integrated to the body of the throttle.