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Old Nov 23, 2010, 12:01 AM
Airplane Dope
AddictedToRC's Avatar
USA, WI, Rio
Joined Nov 2009
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Scratchbuild vs. Kits vs. ARF vs. RTF

Hi, I was wondering what are the pros and cons etc of doing scratchbuilds,kits ARFs and RTFs(price and everything)
Thanks!
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 06:16 AM
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DeeBee1's Avatar
United Kingdom, England, Brighton
Joined Apr 2007
1,138 Posts
Very good question and one that will probably start a lengthy forum thread

It is a very personal thing - some people prefer building to flying, some hate building and just want to fly and others like both. Here is my opinion on all three types:

RTF - RTF packages will get you flying straight away. All the parts (model, motor, battery, radio etc.) should be matched to work together and if you don't have any equipment to start with, an RFT is a good place to begin. There are some great packages available these days and (despite what you may read) many of the far-eastern products are well built and fly great. The downside is that, to keep the cost down, the radio equipment is usually 'entry level' although it usually works well. Many of the RFT packages come with radio equipment that can be used in other models (although some don't).

ARF - Again, there are many great ARF packages out there. If you already have some radio equipment, or maybe want to buy a multi-model radio that you intend to use for several models, then an ARF is a good choice. Many ARFs also require a motor, speed controller etc. although some come with these items. Find out the total cost of all the required bits before buying an ARF plane. I prefer to stick to the manufacturer's recommended motor etc., but many people try different combinations as this can be cheaper or give better performance.

Scratch/Kit Build - Well this is my favourite option. There is nothing like flying a model that you have built from bits of balsa or depron or whatever. It takes patience, tools, more patience and lots of work, but you will learn a lot about model planes and new skills. Some people will say that 'scratchbuilt' models are also designed by the builder. My view is that 'scratchbuilt' just means that you cut out all the parts yourself. You will need basic tools but you only need buy these once (check the Builders Workshop thread on this forum). Glue, covering material etc. will also need to be purchased. If you crash the model you will be able to repair it yourself (this is also true of the other types of course, but you will probably do a better repair job and you can only repair foam models so many times before you end up flying a blob!).

If I had to give advice I would say maybe start with a simple foam or balsa RTF that contains radio equipment that you can re-use and if you like flying then try a simple, inexpensive kit. If you find you hate building but want to continue in R/C, go for an ARF.

As it sounds like you new to the hobby, get a transmitter that can be used with a flight simulator on your PC (many RTF packages come with this and also include a cable to attach the transmitter to the PC). Practice and practice and practice again on the sim until you feel comfortable flying your RTF/ARF/scratchbuilt model).

Good luck.
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 07:07 AM
Da' Cajun
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Lake Charles, Louisiana
Joined Jun 2009
2,891 Posts
I love to scratch build. ...and I love ARF's.

One is not "better" than the other, they just give the hobbyist a different avenue to enjoy the hobby.
Just the idea that you are considering building is great! Go for it.
Start with a kit build though and get a few builds under your belt before trying to scratch build. That will give you some idea on construction and engineering techniques.

In the mean time have a foamy or balsa ARF on hand to satisfy the flying itch.
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 09:27 AM
It's just a plane.
ZackJones's Avatar
USA, SC, Goose Creek
Joined Aug 2010
2,104 Posts
My .02 worth:

Scratch builts are fun for a while but I quickly grew bored with them.

RTF/PNP - My current favorite. I have the UM Champ RTF, T-28D and F4F Wildcat planes and I love flying them all.

ARF - Will be giving this a try soon. I picked up the $69 PT-19 from E-Flite and that will be my first ARF build.
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 09:35 AM
Canadian Bacon
flypaper 2's Avatar
Kingston, Canada
Joined Jun 2004
13,033 Posts
Then there's the butcher jobs. Take a perfectly good flying machine and mod it to suit yourself. Took my Zoombi and made a flying stab for it. worked so well I did the same with the Flash.

Gord.
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 09:48 AM
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Orleans, MA
Joined Feb 2007
2,093 Posts
Great advice above. Scratch building is my favorite too, although it definitely takes more time. It's fun to optimize a design for best performance and to experiment with different materials and building techniques. That said, it's no fun to immediately "re-kit" a model after hours and hours of work. Wait until you are a "safe" pilot and are not consistently damaging planes if you are not intentionally pushing the envelop.
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 10:56 AM
So broke I can't pay attention
Naples FL USA
Joined Mar 2009
490 Posts
As far as these three options go, it depends on experience, personal choice, handy skills and the most important to some, cost.
Many folks make the mistake of getting a first plane that is too advanced or complicated for their needs, and could end up getting turned off by a bad experience. A clear perspective is required, and common sense must prevail when deciding which version is best for each individual.
RTF models are generaly designed with the novice in mind, but not always, the included literature and insructions should indicate the skill level required, beginner, intermediate or expert. This is often the least expensive choice for a beginner.
ARF's, require some experience with hand tools, and at least a basic degree of RC electronics knowledge and assembly skills. Some of the parts can be delicate and require good hand eye coordination and a light touch. This version is more expensive because all of the parts required to complete the model, are not included, unless you already have these on hand the cost rises.
Scratchbuilding, is the most rewarding aspect of the hobby, but requires a whole set of skills, which takes time, a lot of knowledge, research and practical experience. This is also the most expensive way of going about getting into this hobby, some special tools, equipment, supplies and hardware are needed. A good starting point would be a kit, even a stick and tissue model would help to hone the skills and understanding of whats needed to take on a scratchbuilding project.
Just my two cents, that's probably all it's worth anyway.
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 12:09 PM
Airplane Dope
AddictedToRC's Avatar
USA, WI, Rio
Joined Nov 2009
329 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeBee1 View Post
Very good question and one that will probably start a lengthy forum thread

It is a very personal thing - some people prefer building to flying, some hate building and just want to fly and others like both. Here is my opinion on all three types:

RTF - RTF packages will get you flying straight away. All the parts (model, motor, battery, radio etc.) should be matched to work together and if you don't have any equipment to start with, an RFT is a good place to begin. There are some great packages available these days and (despite what you may read) many of the far-eastern products are well built and fly great. The downside is that, to keep the cost down, the radio equipment is usually 'entry level' although it usually works well. Many of the RFT packages come with radio equipment that can be used in other models (although some don't).

ARF - Again, there are many great ARF packages out there. If you already have some radio equipment, or maybe want to buy a multi-model radio that you intend to use for several models, then an ARF is a good choice. Many ARFs also require a motor, speed controller etc. although some come with these items. Find out the total cost of all the required bits before buying an ARF plane. I prefer to stick to the manufacturer's recommended motor etc., but many people try different combinations as this can be cheaper or give better performance.

Scratch/Kit Build - Well this is my favourite option. There is nothing like flying a model that you have built from bits of balsa or depron or whatever. It takes patience, tools, more patience and lots of work, but you will learn a lot about model planes and new skills. Some people will say that 'scratchbuilt' models are also designed by the builder. My view is that 'scratchbuilt' just means that you cut out all the parts yourself. You will need basic tools but you only need buy these once (check the Builders Workshop thread on this forum). Glue, covering material etc. will also need to be purchased. If you crash the model you will be able to repair it yourself (this is also true of the other types of course, but you will probably do a better repair job and you can only repair foam models so many times before you end up flying a blob!).

If I had to give advice I would say maybe start with a simple foam or balsa RTF that contains radio equipment that you can re-use and if you like flying then try a simple, inexpensive kit. If you find you hate building but want to continue in R/C, go for an ARF.

As it sounds like you new to the hobby, get a transmitter that can be used with a flight simulator on your PC (many RTF packages come with this and also include a cable to attach the transmitter to the PC). Practice and practice and practice again on the sim until you feel comfortable flying your RTF/ARF/scratchbuilt model).

Good luck.
Thanks, and LOL about the lengthy forum thread. Okay, I'll probably bookmark this thread, as it has a lot of useful stuff, especially your thread. I have built many foam Dollar tree foam board gliders(by the way you said "favourite" I assume you are not in the US) and I have even made a successful scratchbuild freeflight(electric), and the power system had barely enough power to power the original, so I made my scratchbuild a tailless jet, tailless to keep the weight down. I have researched and tested quite a bit about airframes etc(I'm an aircraft freak LOL) and made dozens of foam plate gliders, 80% successful, and I love it, so I'm looking to go the scratchbuild route....more freedom.
EDIT: I already have a simulator with a USB "transmitter"(its FMS.)
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 02:37 PM
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DeeBee1's Avatar
United Kingdom, England, Brighton
Joined Apr 2007
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Yes, my reply did turn into a bit of an epic but I wanted to give a good idea about the differences between the types of model

I'm glad you found it useful - you seem to have some experience already so I'm sure you will find the model type that you like the best. As Boogie metioned, many of us have a handy ARF to fly while we build our latest masterpiece.
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 02:59 PM
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USA, MI, Grand Rapids
Joined Apr 2007
1,819 Posts
Start with an RTF
crash it
now it's an ARF
re-assemble it...RTF
crash it...ARF

If you crash it and rebuild it enough times, most of it will end up being scratch built
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 04:28 PM
Airplane Dope
AddictedToRC's Avatar
USA, WI, Rio
Joined Nov 2009
329 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Schmoekel View Post
Start with an RTF
crash it
now it's an ARF
re-assemble it...RTF
crash it...ARF

If you crash it and rebuild it enough times, most of it will end up being scratch built
Hahahahaha LOL even my Mom laughed at that one! XD
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 07:02 PM
RC Adddict
Wilfor's Avatar
Canada, BC, Williams Lake
Joined Jan 2010
4,314 Posts
If you used to playing with dollar store Rediboard Then there are some great scratchbuilt trainer planes you can build that fly great . If thats the way your thinking of going then you need to know what size area you'll be flying in , indoor or outdoor and if outdoor what kind of wind conditions , preferably no wind . I would start with a proven design such as the Blu baby or EzFly and then venture into you own designs once you have the basics down .
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 07:44 PM
Airplane Dope
AddictedToRC's Avatar
USA, WI, Rio
Joined Nov 2009
329 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilfor View Post
If you used to playing with dollar store Rediboard Then there are some great scratchbuilt trainer planes you can build that fly great . If thats the way your thinking of going then you need to know what size area you'll be flying in , indoor or outdoor and if outdoor what kind of wind conditions , preferably no wind . I would start with a proven design such as the Blu baby or EzFly and then venture into you own designs once you have the basics down .
Yeah, that's what I was thinking too(about the proven designs). I might go with the rctestflight slow trainer. Either way, I'll probably make it 4ch, because on the simulator I'm better with the maneuverable planes.(I wont make it too maneuverable though. I live in the country so I have pretty much as much space as I want.
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 08:40 PM
Ex Thud Driver
billrcpilot's Avatar
USA, OK, Crescent
Joined Oct 2003
636 Posts
I am 69 years old and have been flying for over 50 of those years. and i too take pride flying a plane that i have built, now don't get me wrong AFT or RTF planes, i myself have all types. that is why this sport is called a HOBBY. No matter what you perfer to flying, go out there and have a ball.HAPPY THINKSGIVING TO ALL
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 09:08 PM
Airplane Dope
AddictedToRC's Avatar
USA, WI, Rio
Joined Nov 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billrcpilot View Post
I am 69 years old and have been flying for over 50 of those years. and i too take pride flying a plane that i have built, now don't get me wrong AFT or RTF planes, i myself have all types. that is why this sport is called a HOBBY. No matter what you perfer to flying, go out there and have a ball.HAPPY THINKSGIVING TO ALL
Yeah, that's really true! Happy Thanksgiving to you(and all)!!
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