SMALL - espritmodel.com SMALL - Telemetry SMALL - Radio
Reply
Thread Tools
Old Nov 17, 2011, 03:41 PM
Registered User
Joined Nov 2011
7 Posts
Mini-HowTo
Getting into RC flying on the cheap.

I'm trying to help my dad and another friend get into RC flying. I wrote up an email on how to get into the hobby on the cheap to test it out. "If you like it from there, great, upgrade and get some serious gear. If it's not for you, then no big loss." This is actually a "you will need this" type instructional, but I put in a little detail on "why" you need these things. Since I took the time to compile this together, I thought I'd share. Hopefully some other beginners will appriciate this.

**Disclaimer: This is not to bash or endorce any particular hobby shop, these are just my oppinions and what I found quickly and cheaply.

------------------
Rx/Tx –

These are actually a re-brand of the same radio. It’s no-frills, but super cheap. You’ll need the USB programming cable also. As I understand it’s included with the Tx at HobbyPartz. With HobbyKing you’ll need to order it separately. The reciever comes with it. You'll upgrade this quickly when you get multiple planes, because it's a pain in the rump to switch the settings between planes (requires a PC).

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=15140
http://www.hobbypartz.com/fsaircontrol.html

Plane –
The GWS Slowstick. It’s a 3 channel plane (throttle, elevator and rudder), and super easy to fly and repair. You’ll outgrow it quickly, but it’s a great trainer. This plane also has an extremely low "wing loading", so it can carry a ton of extra weight. Don’t worry if you don’t get the exact parts it calls for, it will carry more weight easily. I’d get the “brushless” version that includes the motor and motor mounts.

http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXAAAA&P=7

Here’s the “slope glider” version that comes without a motor. You could easily put your own motor on this, but to make things simple, I’d stick with the kit. This also allows me to skip the 45 minute conversation on why to get a "brushless outrunner" motor.

http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...&I=LXHCJ3&P=ML

ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) –
This drives the motor and provides power to the receiver (if it includes a BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit)).
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=17793

ESC’s rarely come with connectors (from HobbyKing anyway), so you’ll need some of these:
http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXJPY3&P=M

The motor usually comes with connectors, but just in case:
http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXJPY2&P=M

Servos –
Two of these would probably work well. The description of the plane will tell you how many you need and what size/torque.
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=18067


Battery -
Avoid NiMH if you can, it's old. Lipo is a MUCH better battery. They're easier to charge (properly), last longer, and weigh less. HobbyKing puts their weird XT-60 connector on all their batteries (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...idProduct=9572). I cut all that crap off and put on Deans plugs (requires some soldering). One isn’t really any better than the other, but Deans are pretty much the standard in the US for medium size planes. Most people try to keep their connectors the same so you can use the same batteries with multiple planes, since batteries are one of, if not the most, costly investment in electric RC flying. I bought a big bag of Deans plug pairs from somewhere for cheap (ValueHobby maybe? Their site is down for maintenance today or I'd give you a link) The male goes on the ESC, and the female goes on the battery. I usually get batteries in groups of 2 to 4. You usually get 10 – 15 minutes per flight, and it takes about an hour to charge a battery.

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=20636

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=16778

http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXKX39&P=M – Shop around, you can get these cheaper elsewhere.

Charger –
You could get by with something like this:
http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXAUPF&P=7

I’d actually recommend you get something a little better like this:

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=15165

A little primer on LiPo batteries … All LiPos come with 2 connectors, a JST-XH (usually) for balance charging, and a Deans (or something else) for charging and discharging. The Deans has all the cells in series, so you get the full voltage of the battery pack, which is what you use to plug into your plane. The JST-XH goes to each cell in the pack, so you can individually charge the cells and make sure they’re all at the same voltage (called balance charging), which is pretty important for Lipos. Chargers up to 2A usually use the JST-XH plug to charge and balance the LiPos. For higher current chargers, it will use the Deans for most of the charging, and the JST-XH for the balancing part. This charger only goes up to 2A so it only has the JST-XH, which makes it easy. Most cheap LiPos charge at 1C, which means if it’s a 1500 mAh pack, you charge at 1.5A max. I have the charger below, and it requires a bunch of crazy adapters and stuff.

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...dProduct=19676

Most RC Lipo chargers are DC power only and don’t normally come with AC adapters (because people like to charge their batteries at the flying field). I rigged up an old PC power supply to give me 12V DC at home (http://web2.murraystate.edu/andy.bat...owersupply.htm), but you could use a simple 12V 2.5A AC/DC adapter if you have an extra laying around.

Other stuff:
You’ll want some thin CA glue (super glue), 2 part epoxy(I like the 5 minute epoxy), rubber bands, Velcro and some other misc tools. With the misc extras and shipping, you're probably looking at less than $150 to get a plane in the air.

You WILL crash. Don’t be surprised, just have the stuff you need to fix it, which usually is just glue or clear packing tape.

Also HobbyKing and ValueHobby are two of the cheapest places around to get parts, by far. There's a reason for that. Their service sucks and their products are crap. In this hobby you really do get what you pay for.

For instance, I got the HK rebranded 4 channel charger, and one of the channels went out already, but for the $75 I spent on it, I still have the equivalent of 3x 5A chargers, which would normally be $50-$75 each anyway. How can I complain about that? I could return it, but their RMA process takes several weeks from what I hear.

When you decide you want to get serious about RC flying you'll start paying more and get more. For instance, I got my Spektrum DX8 Tx from HorizonHobby and I paid through the nose. But with all the extra features and settings on it, that radio almost flys the plane for you. When I had a programming issue with it, they litterally came to my house and wiped my ass (not really), but they went far out of their way to help me, and I think they're also sending me a new antenna (which I broke) when they're in stock again, for free.

If you want a fun “kit”, I built one of these (http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...idProduct=9572) and still enjoy flying it. It’s a little more advanced than a slow stick, but still cheap. You literally build the plane from precut pieces of balsa, and cover it with plastic film. I "modded" mine and put a working rudder on it (easily done when you're building from a kit like this).

When you get all this stuff and want to learn to fly it, give me a ring. I'll show you how to trim it and get the center of gravity correct (I wish someone had mentioned how important CG is when I first started!!) and we'll go out to a field and crash it a few times
lunarnexus is offline Find More Posts by lunarnexus
Reply With Quote
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Old Nov 17, 2011, 06:18 PM
all crash, no burn
Joined Aug 2011
336 Posts
Or $89 for a Champ. Best way to test the water with little investment and very low risk of destruction.
cardnation is offline Find More Posts by cardnation
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 17, 2011, 07:14 PM
Live to ride... and fly!
Tres Wright's Avatar
Forney, TX
Joined Mar 2002
15,165 Posts
Oh man, this reminds me of the days when we used to have to explain all this stuff to anyone that just wanted to try R/C to see if they liked it or not. It didn't take long for people's eyes to glaze over, you could see it written on their face- "Oh, I had no idea it would be THIS complicated." Now you just say "go to the hobby shop and buy "____" (fill in the blank with the RTF foamie trainer of your choice)
Tres Wright is offline Find More Posts by Tres Wright
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 17, 2011, 09:03 PM
Registered User
jeb6684's Avatar
United States, PA, Gettysburg
Joined Mar 2011
346 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by cardnation View Post
Or $89 for a Champ. Best way to test the water with little investment and very low risk of destruction.
+1 on the champ. Start simple and then expand your horizons!!
jeb6684 is offline Find More Posts by jeb6684
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 17, 2011, 09:51 PM
Registered User
ausf's Avatar
United States, NY, CENTRAL VLY
Joined May 2011
1,029 Posts
You could be doing touch and goes with your Champ quicker than it took to write that email...
ausf is offline Find More Posts by ausf
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 17, 2011, 10:22 PM
Registered User
PyroMan's Avatar
United States, KY, Paducah
Joined Mar 2011
590 Posts
You can even do touch and goes with the champ with one of your arms tied behind your back :P - as proved on flitetest.
PyroMan is offline Find More Posts by PyroMan
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 17, 2011, 10:52 PM
Ego varius quis.
Cheesehead's Avatar
Wisconsin
Joined Nov 2003
1,923 Posts
Here's a few significant corrections:

1. The best bang for buck is in DSM2 straight off the bat. A DX5e - a name-brand hobby-grade transmitter - plus generic OrangeRX is about $66, but the extra expenditure is worth it. Or, just buy a Champ (though, to be fair, the included DSM2 tx is kinda crappy.)

2. Smaller models are very cost-effective. The best "bang for buck" is likely on a ~3-4oz model using the $8.50 1811-2000 motor - The "mini-size" OrangeRX is $4 more, but the rest of the components are significantly cheaper. Expect to pay $10 (shipped!) for the XP-7A ESC, ~$5 each for a ~360mAh lipoly, $4-$5 for servos, and next to nothing on the rest.


3. There's some debate on the practicality of building vs. buying, but building is definitely cheaper (especially if you have someone to help.) Most trainers will require at most two $1.50 sheets of depron and a few dollars more in carbon fiber.

5: Much more difficult than building the model is dealing with connectors. Many cheap motors, batteries and ESCs have different connectors, and some have none at all. If you don't want to solder, buy an RTF.

4. Secondhand E-flite chargers are about $10, and are a bit more reliable than the generic option.


Total cost (estimated):
$60 - DX5e
$10 - OrangeRX R15
$10 - two "3.6g" blue arrow servos.
$5 - battery
$10 - motor and prop
$10 - XP-7A ESC
$10-ish - charger
$10 - Depron, CF, and misc:

~$125 all up. (About half of this is the transmitter, of course.)
Cheesehead is offline Find More Posts by Cheesehead
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 2011, 03:19 AM
Registered User
United Kingdom, England, Poole
Joined Jan 2011
123 Posts
Your link to "I built one of these..." is to deans connectors, not to a plane kit.

I have to disagree on the Champ - people say it costs $89 (about £69 in the UK) but that is total rubbish. My Champ cost me well over £400 this year alone because there was the cost of the Champ, then the P-51, then the BF109, then the two full sets of electronics for scratch foamies, then the DX6i, then...

In my opinion people should be banned from selling Champs within 1 square mile of a school. And there should be an addiction support group.
JasonStonier is offline Find More Posts by JasonStonier
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 2011, 07:35 AM
all crash, no burn
Joined Aug 2011
336 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheesehead View Post
though, to be fair, the included DSM2 tx is kinda crappy.
There is nothing "fair" about that statement.

Is it a DX6i? No.

Does it work perfectly for flying a tiny 3ch plane at a distance appropriate to easily maintain orientation? Absolutely it does.

It simply don't get this perception that the UM DSM2 Tx is so bad.

If someone is flying at a distance that causes signal loss, that is the fault of the pilot.
cardnation is offline Find More Posts by cardnation
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 2011, 08:28 AM
Ego varius quis.
Cheesehead's Avatar
Wisconsin
Joined Nov 2003
1,923 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by cardnation View Post
Does it work perfectly for flying a tiny 3ch plane at a distance appropriate to easily maintain orientation? Absolutely it does.
Unless you've damaged your hands at some point. And you're using it to try to fly a Blade MSR. Then, many crashes will occur.
Cheesehead is offline Find More Posts by Cheesehead
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 2011, 08:44 AM
all crash, no burn
Joined Aug 2011
336 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheesehead View Post
Unless you've damaged your hands at some point. And you're using it to try to fly a Blade MSR. Then, many crashes will occur.
I didn't see where the OP said anything about damaged hands, nor anything about an mSR?
cardnation is offline Find More Posts by cardnation
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 2011, 09:28 AM
Ego varius quis.
Cheesehead's Avatar
Wisconsin
Joined Nov 2003
1,923 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by cardnation View Post
I didn't see where the OP said anything about damaged hands, nor anything about an mSR?
He didn't. However, I can say from personal experience that it's much easier to control a model with a full-size transmitter.
Cheesehead is offline Find More Posts by Cheesehead
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 2011, 09:40 AM
all crash, no burn
Joined Aug 2011
336 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheesehead View Post
He didn't. However, I can say from personal experience that it's much easier to control a model with a full-size transmitter.
I don't think anyone would dispute that a DX6i or other full-size tx are preferable as a pilot progresses.

But you can not label the UM DSM2 Tx as "crappy", just because you prefer a bigger Tx.

All in all it does its intended job very well.
cardnation is offline Find More Posts by cardnation
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 2011, 01:15 PM
Registered User
Joined Jul 2011
721 Posts
Pulling out the .

I'm in the buy a Ember II or Champ camp myself.
Madratter is offline Find More Posts by Madratter
Reply With Quote
Old Nov 18, 2011, 04:25 PM
buyer of the farm
United States, FL, DeLand
Joined Mar 2009
4,061 Posts
If you want to learn to fly you deserve to have learning to fly be the only thing you have to worry about. The Slow Stick is my favorite plane in the world, but I would never recommend one to a newbie. There are a hundred ways to build it so it won't fly for an expert, and only a couple ways to build it so it will fly properly. If you try to learn to fly a rock, you will not succeed.

If you have an RTF Champ, you know the plane will fly right out of the box. Since you are not worried about the plane's capabilities, you can concentrate on your own. The stock TX is just fine, dual rate, very precise, what's not to like? Just keep the champ closer than 200' and you're golden.

The Champ is also more crashworthy than a Slow Stick, although it is slightly harder to fly than a properly constructed and trimmed Slow Stick. That is actually good, as you can hardly hurt it and after you are used to the twitchiness of a Champ, moving to a larger plane will be very easy.
Rockin Robbins is online now Find More Posts by Rockin Robbins
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Discussion Getting back into flying ... sam-smith Electric Plane Talk 3 Aug 08, 2011 01:32 PM
Question Thinking about getting into RC cars... suggestions on first vehicle? NeveSSL Car Talk 7 Jul 06, 2011 05:01 PM
Help! getting into pattern flying cotturj F3A Pattern 3 May 06, 2011 03:02 PM
Discussion Getting back into flying after 10 years sir_crash_alot Beginner Training Area (Aircraft-Electric) 3 Apr 02, 2011 07:47 PM