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MotoCalc Technical Support

Help for using MotoCalc is available a number of ways, but before you e-mail, phone, fax, or write to us, please check the list of frequently asked questions below. The answer you are looking for may already be there.

The method that will get you the answers you need the fastest is to select E-mail Technical Support from MotoCalc's Help menu. We check our e-mail regularly. When e-mailing, please try to provide as much information as possible. If you are having trouble with a particular aircraft, please include the project in your message by making sure that the Automatically attach current project to e-mail check box is checked. That way, we can reproduce the problem here and see exactly what you are seeing.

If for some reason you are unable to use the built-in e-mail-to-support feature, you can use your regular e-mail software to send a message to support@motocalc.com. To attach your project to such an e-mail, open the project in MotoCalc, select Copy Project from the Project menu, and then paste it into your message.

You can also telephone us at 1-519-638-5470 with your questions, but please keep in mind that we are a small (but dedicated) company, and not always available by telephone. If you do get our answering service, please leave a message giving a brief description of the problem, your telephone number, and the best time for us to call you back (please tell us which time zone you are in too so we don't call you back at two in the morning).

If you want to send us some MotoCalc output that you have questions about, either e-mail it (most of MotoCalc's reports can be saved in HTML or JPEG format, which are easily attached to e-mail messages), or print it and fax it to us at 1-519-340-0272.

We also accept support queries sent to us by mail at:

Capable Computing
8150 Concession 5, R.R.#3
Moorefield, Ontario
Canada  N0G 2K0
Due to the (lack of) speed of the mail, please allow 3 to 4 weeks before expecting a reply. If there is an address to which we can fax or e-mail a reply, please include this information with your letter.

Support Policy

In general, we will answer your support query within one business day of having received it. From time to time, it may take a little bit longer, but if you haven't heard back after three days (or 3 to 4 weeks if by mail), then either your message to us, or ours to you, may have gotten lost.

Important: Occasionally we receive e-mails from users asking why we have not responded, when in fact we have. More often than not, this is the result of a mail filter mistaking our reply for spam (unsolicited bulk e-mail). If you have such a filter installed, please make sure that it does not block messages from either capable.ca or motocalc.com, or our replies to you will never arrive. We will never send you any e-mail except to reply to your messages, or a single message to announce a new version of MotoCalc.


Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some common questions we get in technical support, and the answers to those questions. Some of the answers refer to sections of MotoCalc's on-line manual, which you can access via the Help menu in MotoCalc, or view it here.

Where did the motor temperature column go in MotoCalc 7?

Why does the current go down as the airspeed goes up. Doesn't it take more power to go faster, not less power?

How do I use MotoCalc for a multi-motored aircraft or ganged motors operating each propeller?

How do I use MotoCalc to predict the performance of a biplane?

Can I use MotoCalc to predict the performance of a helicopter?

How can I change the project that's displayed when MotoCalc first starts up?

How do I determine the parameters for a new motor, cell type, etc., and add it to MotoCalc?

How does adjusting the motor timing affect performance relative to MotoCalc's predictions?

Why are the predicted level flight times so long? Why are they sometimes even longer than those predicted by earlier versions (before version 5) of MotoCalc?

Why does MotoCalc not need to know the number of blades of a ducted fan?

How do I determine the coefficients for a ducted fan?

How do I move my copy of MotoCalc to a new computer?

How do I get updates to the data provided with MotoCalc?

How do I get data updates if the computer I use MotoCalc on is not on the Internet, or if my firewall will not allow MotoCalc to connect to the Internet?

I've purchased a new computer, or I use more than one computer on a regular basis. Do I need to purchase additional MotoCalc registrations?

Is MotoCalc available for the Apple Macintosh?

Is MotoCalc available for Linux?

Answers

Motor Temperature

Question: Where did the motor temperature column go in MotoCalc 7 and 8?

Answer: The temperature data is still there, but in a less obvious, yet more meaningful way. Instead of appearing as a column on the static and in-flight analysis, it only appears on the Stats line of an in-flight analysis, next to the level and opt flying speeds. Furthermore, that temperature represents the temperature at the specified throttle setting (i.e. basically cruise throttle settings, the only ones that make sense for computing steady-state temperature).

The previous method of computing the full-throttle steady-state temperature was not as meaningful, because most motors would not reach this temperature during the period of time that a battery could actually operate the motor at full throttle.

Even in a Limited Motor Run (LMR) model, which is operated at full power, the new method gives more meaningful results. The temperature that MotoCalc computes, both in version 6 and now in version 7, is steady-state temperature. This is the temperature that the motor reaches after operating for some period of time (generally 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the motor).

Few pilots operate a motor at full throttle for this length of time. Thus, steady state temperature is never reached. In a sport type aircraft, calculating the steady-state temperature at a "cruise" throttle setting makes a lot more sense. If a model really does require full power to remain airborne, MotoCalc will know this, and cruise throttle will be full throttle.

In an LMR model, calculating steady state temperature doesn't really make sense at all, since the motor is run for such very short time periods, with long rests in between. However, using the "cruise" method will still give you a more meaningful result than the old full throttle method, because effectively, you are operating at cruise power on average. Think of the short bursts of power with long rests in between as a very low rate speed control.

Nothing was lost in MotoCalc 7 with regard to temperature calculations. If anything, the results are now more meaningful, even for LMR applications.

In MotoCalc 8, full throttle temperature has returned, but it only appears in the "Possible Power System Problems" section of the MotOpinion report, and then only if there's a possible problem. For instance, if your plane will maintain level flight at half throttle, but might overheat the motor at full throttle, a note to this effect will appear.

Current Versus Airpseed

Question: Why does the current go down as the airspeed goes up. Doesn't it take more power to go faster, not less power?

Answer: Yes and no. Remember that the predictions are all for a given throttle setting. If you just let the plane fly, it will settle in to a certain speed, and the amount of power consumed will be reduced because the propeller will unload. Now if you want to make it go faster, you have to put in some down elevator. This increases the speed of the plane, reduces the rate of climb, and thus further reduces the load on the propeller.

Multiple Motors

Question: How do I use MotoCalc for a multi-motored aircraft or ganged motors operating each propeller?

Answer: The Drive System section of the MotoCalc Workbench window has three fields for this: Series Motors, Parallel Motors, and Num Props. If your motors are wired in series, enter the number of motors into the Series Motors field. If they are wired in parallel, enter the number into the Parallel Motors field. If you have a series/parallel or parallel/series set-up, enter the appropriate numbers into both fields. The total number of motors is then the product of these two numbers. The Num Props field indicates the number of propellers (for propeller drive systems only of course), which by default is assumed to be the same as the number of motors but can be less for ganged drive systems (multiple motors driving each propeller).

An easy way to do most of the above is to use the Wiring Wizard, which lets you lay out your motor, battery, and speed control wiring graphically, and then automatically fill in the appropriate fields (except the Num Props field) in the MotoCalc Workbench window.

Biplanes

Question: How do I use MotoCalc to predict the performance of a biplane?

Answer: Everything is done the same way as for any other plane, except for the following: In the Wing Span field of the Airframe section, enter the average span of the two wings. In the Wing Area field, enter the total wing area of both wings. This will cause MotoCalc to think you have a plane with one very low aspect ratio wing, which will closely approximate the lift and drag characteristics of the biplane, with its two medium aspect ratio wings and four wing tips. If your biplane has struts or bracing wires, be sure to select the appropriate item in the Protrusions section of the Lift and Drag Coefficient Estimator window.

Helicopters

Question: Can I use MotoCalc to predict the performance of a helicopter?

Answer: MotoCalc does not, as yet, provide support for helicopter performance modeling. However, you can make use of it to do some rudimentary predictions.

The MotoWizard and MotOpinion features won't be of much use, but if you can determine the blade pitch at 75% diameter, you can use this, and the rotor diameter, as the propeller pitch and diameter in MotoCalc's main input window. Then, you can experiment with different gear ratios for a given motor and battery to find a combination that will provide a higher static thrust than the helicopter's weight. Note that this will still only be approximate, because a helicopter rotor has a variable (with respect to time), yet constant (with respect to distance from the hub) blade angle, whereas a propeller has a variable blade angle but constant pitch.

Startup Project

Question: How can I change the project that's displayed when MotoCalc first starts up?

Answer: When starting up, MotoCalc always loads the project that was open when you last exited from MotoCalc.

Adding New Components

Question: How do I determine the parameters for a new motor, cell type, etc., and add it to MotoCalc?

Answer: First, you have to determine the appropriate parameters for the type of component you wish to add.

For motors, please refer to Measuring Motor Constants, Entering Motor Data from Tests, Entering Motor Data from a Catalog, or Using the Motor Designer. For cells, please see Measuring Cell Impedance.

For gearboxes, just enter the gear ratio as provided by the manufacturer, and specify the gearbox efficiency.

For propellers, specify the diameter and pitch, and the propeller's power and thrust constants. The Propeller Constant Estimator can help with the latter two.

For ducted fans, it is easiest to use the Fan Coefficient Estimator.

Data for speed controls is generally provided by the manufacturer. Check the documentation that came with the speed control, or the manufacturer's web site.

Airframe information is easily measured. Please see Lift and Drag Coefficient Estimator.

Once you have the data you need, simply enter it into the fields in the appropriate section of MotoCalc's Workbench window, give the component a descriptive name, and click the Save button in that section. The data is now a permanent part of your MotoCalc database.

Motor Timing

Question: How does adjusting the motor timing affect performance relative to MotoCalc's predictions?

Answer: The motor parameters (motor constant, no-load current, and armature resistance) of a motor are measured with the timing set to neutral. However, the predictions that MotoCalc makes assume that the timing is set appropriately for the predicted operating conditions. So if you set the timing properly, the motor should operate as predicted. Otherwise, the predictions will be off.

Level Flight Times

Question: Why are the predicted level flight times so long? Why are they sometimes even longer than those predicted by earlier versions (before version 5) of MotoCalc?

Answer: The predicted level flight time is the absolute longest time that the plane could maintain hands-off level flight at the indicated speed and throttle setting. This assumes that the plane is launched into level flight (i.e. no power is used for climbing), at the right speed (i.e. no power is used to accelerate). Actual start to finish flight times could be shorter (due to increased power needed for take-off, climb-out, turning, aerobatics, etc.) or longer (due to assistance from thermals). The predicted flight time is only a rough guide line. MotoCalc 5 and up will predict even longer level flight times for high-rate speed controls, since these operate more efficiently than low-rate (frame-rate) controls. Earlier versions of MotoCalc computed level flight times based on the (inefficient) way a low-rate control operates. MotoCalc 6 and up generally produce lower predictions than version 5, due to a more accurate mathematical model for in-flight propeller unloading (MotoCalc 5 was overly optimistic).

Number of Fan Blades

Question: Why does MotoCalc not need to know the number of blades of a ducted fan?

Answer: The mathematical model used by MotoCalc for ducted fan calculations is based on the fan's swept area (rotor area minus hub area) and the pitch. In this simplified model, the number of blades does not matter. The differences in efficiency for different numbers of blades can be adjusted for in the Power Coeff and Thrust Coeff fields.

Ducted Fan Coefficients

Question: How do I determine the coefficients for a ducted fan?

Answer: This requires either doing some tests, or finding published test data. Then, use the Fan Coefficient Estimator to compute the coefficients from this data.

Moving MotoCalc to a New Computer

Question: How do I move my copy of MotoCalc to a new computer?

Answer: If you simply want to run MotoCalc on your new computer without preserving any components or projects that you've entered, just install MotoCalc on the new machine, either from your CD if you purchased it on physical media, or from a downloaded installer (www.motocalc.com). If you do not have a CD, please contact Capable Computing for a new license key (at no charge). Please note that in order for us to create a new key, you will need to provide the serial number that MotoCalc displays (in the Registration Reminder window) on the new computer.

If you also want to preserve the components and projects you've created, follow the steps above, and then copy the following files from the MotoCalc user data folder on your old machine to your new machine (using a disk, CD, USB stick, local area network, e-mail, or whatever method you prefer):

AIRFRAM8.DBF
Airfoil.lst
CELL8.DBF
DRIVE8.DBF
ESC8.DBF
FANDRIV8.DBF
GearboxEff.lst
FILTER8.DBF
Manufacturer.lst
MOTOCAL8.DBF
MotoCalc.ini
MOTOR8.DBF
Notes.lst (may not be present)
PropConst.lst
ThrustConst.lst
Tips.lst
WizardCells.lst

The location of these files depends on which versions of Windows and MotoCalc you are using:

  • MotoCalc 8.08 or newer with Windows Vista, 7, 8, or newer:
    C:\Users\YourUserName\AppData\Roaming\MotoCalc 8
  • MotoCalc 8.07 or older with Windows Vista, 7, 8, or newer, on a 64-bit computer:
    C:\Users\YourUserName\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files (x86)\MotoCalc8
  • MotoCalc 8.07 or older with Windows Vista, 7, 8, or newer, on a 32-bit computer:
    C:\Users\YourUserName\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\MotoCalc8
  • MotoCalc 8.08 or newer with Windows 95, 98, 2000, or XP:
    C:\Documents and Settings\YourUserName\Application Data\MotoCalc 8
  • MotoCalc 8.07 or older with Windows 95, 98, 2000, or XP:
    C:\Program Files\MotoCalc8

Please note that some of these folders may be hidden by Windows. You will have to make them visible in Windows Explorer by enabling Show hidden files and folders in the View tab of the Folder Options page (accessible by pressing Alt+T and then selecting Folder options... in Windows Explorer).

On-line Data Updates

Question: How do I get updates to the data provided with MotoCalc?

Answer: Very easily. To update only one part of the database, click the Open button in the appropriate section of the MotoCalc Workbench window, and then click the Update... button in the database browser for each type of component (motor, cell, speed control, etc.). See Updating a Database Table for more information.

To update the entire database at once, select Update All... from the MotoCalc window's Update menu.

Both of the above methods assume that your computer is connected to the Internet. If it is not, see the next question.

Off-line Data Updates

Question: How do I get data updates if the computer I use MotoCalc on is not on the Internet or if my firewall will not allow MotoCalc to connect to the Internet?

Answer: First, if the problem is a firewall, you can probably get MotoCalc to connect to the Internet either by configuring the firewall to allow it to do so, or by setting up MotoCalc to use a proxy (please see Internet Connection Proxy).

If that fails, go to the MotoCalc web site's data page at http://www.motocalc.com/data.htm with a web browser on a computer that can access the Internet, and visit each component page for the data you wish to update. Use your browser's Save As command (usually on the File menu) to save each page to a location on your computer (or to a USB stick or other removable media you can later take to the computer with MotoCalc on it. on it).

Then, in each component browser in MotoCalc, click the Import... button, browse to the saved HTML file, and click OK to import the data.

New or Second Computer

Question: I've purchased a new computer, or I use more than one computer on a regular basis. Do I need to purchase additional MotoCalc registrations?

Answer: No. Please see the appropriate section in the Registration section of the manual.

MotoCalc for Macintosh

Question: Is MotoCalc available for the Apple Macintosh?

Answer: No. There is no version for the Macintosh at this time, and we currently do not have any plans to produce one. However, many customers report that they are successfully running MotoCalc using Parallels, VMWare Fusion, and Codeweavers CrossOver Mac. The first two require a licensed copy of Windows, and the last allows you to run MotoCalc (and many other Windows applications) directly on your Macintosh.

MotoCalc for Linux

Question: Is MotoCalc available for Linux?

Answer: No. There is no version for Linux at this time, and we currently do not have any plans to produce one. However, some customers report that they are successfully running MotoCalc using the Windows emulator, WINE. Since we cannot guarantee compatibility, we suggest you download and try MotoCalc for a free 30 day evaluation before purchasing.

MotoCalc is also known to work with Codeweavers CrossOver Mac, so it is very likely that it will also work with Codeweavers CrossOver Linux.

Please refer to R. Gritzo's document, MotoCalc8 on Linux Mini-HowTo, for details on how to install and run MotoCalc on Linux.


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