Depending on the phase of the moon, the prevailing wind, stock market activity, or the color socks I have on, my interest in airplane activities alternate between radio control, free flight, control line, static display, or any other aspects of modeling. Over the years, I have designed and built probably four or five different field boxes to accommodate the mood du jour. Each was sold before moving on to the next design iteration. Finally, I decided that rather than keeping on making new field boxes, it would make more sense to design a one-size-fits-all version. The Chameleon Field Box™, as I have dubbed it, comes pretty close to achieving that goal.
The design work was done on Autodesk's AutoSketch release 6. I still have the file, but upon opening it again after many years, I discovered that I never did put in all the detail for the hardware. All the dimensions are there for the wooden pieces, but that is as far as I got. Update: Now that I have 64-bit Windows running, I cannot open AutoSketch anymore, so it seems the file is useless at this point. I'll try to find someone with a 32-bit version of Windows to be able to create a PDF file. The overall size of the main box is 17" long x 8-3/8" wide x 17-1/2" to the top s of the dividers. A 1" diameter dowel is used for the handle, and 4-ply 1/2" plywood is used for construction.
As can be seen in the photos, there are accommodations for just about everything that a small to midsize model might need. The photo to the right shows the configuration set up for nitro powered control line flying. For radio control flying, there is a removable transmitter tray that hangs onto either the side or back end of the field box. When doing electric flying, the Royal power panel is replaced with a Great Planes Triton battery charger.
There is a 1970s era Royal power panel on the end where the launching stooge is attached in the stowed position. The power panel has jacks for an electric starter, a glow plug clip, and electric fuel pump. A rheostat adjusts glow plug current, and a forward/reverse switch control the pump. A 12-volt sealed cell battery is in the compartment below, with cooling/ventilation holes on both sides.
On the other end is where the fuel bottle is stored. Since my models have never used more than a Super Tigre .46 for power, a quart of fuel is plenty for any one trip to the flying field. Accordingly, a cleaned out plastic auto oil container is use. I could never see the sense in lugging a gallon jug around when most times I never even came close to using a full quart. The electric fuel pump is mounted to the inner end bulkhead.
Anyone who has flown control line airplanes knows what a pain it can be winding the lines in after a flying session. My simple solution was to mount the line reel to one of the field box bulkheads in such a manner as to allow an index finger to spin the reel. A lead-out guide was formed from 1/16" music wire to keep the leads within the realm of the reel. It works very well.
Even though Melanie is almost always with me on my flying excursions, and is a willing holder and releaser of the airplane, I though it would be spiffy to design a launching stooge. The picture at the right shows what I came up with. It uses common modeling supplies. A piece of high visibility string is attached to the release mechanism trigger and run out to the center of the circle. The airplane is set with the horizontal stabilizer behind the two wire retainers (covered with blue fuel tubing). When the line is yanked, the retaining wires are free to flop forward to release the model. Works like a dream. As shown in the picture, the launching stooge is attached to the field box, but I soon learned that it is not a good idea for a nitro powered model unless you do not mind having a thick layer of fuel all over everything in the field box. After a couple times of wiping everything down (yeah, sad that it took a couple times to learn), I began using a long spike through the center hole in the bottom (it need to be enlarged a bit).
Here is my Sig Akromaster control line airplane sitting in the launch position on the launching stooge. You can see the bright orange release line that runs out to the center of the circle where the handle is waiting. I have never had a problem with the wheels getting caught in the string during landing. Truth is, even if it did catch the line, nothing would be hurt.
This was probably one of the first uses of the launching stooge, because the stooge is attached to the field box.
Here is the Sig Akromaster right after being released from the launching stooge on my Chameleon Field Box. You can see the orange release triggering line still in my hand.
These next two shots are of the Chameleon Field Box set up with the control line launch stooge attached to the front. No tools or equipment has been loaded other than the power panel and the electric fuel pump.
Stooge, Power Panel, Transmitter Cradle Top View of Main Box
Stooge Release Mechanism C/L Sig Akromaster Model on Stooge
Completed Chameleon Field Box
The photos below shows the Chameleon Field Box configured for supporting electric flight. The Royal power panel has been replaced with a Great Planes Triton charger, and the fuel bottle and pump have been replaced with a multimeter. Not having to haul an electric starter, glow plug clip, and other heavy duty tools for nitro power really lightens the load. This has worked out very well.
Here is one of my other custom field boxes that was in service in the early 1990s.