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Old Jan 06, 2013, 03:30 PM
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Newb Questions: Planes that won't break

So, not new to the hobby because based on my disappointments thus far, probably won't be getting into it at all, but I thought I'd at least give it a fair shake.

I want an R/C plane that flies easily (beginner), and won't break, that doesn't cost a million dollars. Does such a thing exist? If it doesn't, I'm happy understanding that maybe the skills needed to fly a plane are more than I'm willing to try to learn at this point and I'll forgo the hobby.

Here's the background:

Bought a Champ and Ares Trainer 100 for Xmas for my sons. Maiden flight: broken wing on the Champ; motor assembly pushed into the fuselage on the Ares rendering both unflyable without repairs. Wing on the Champ was taped which lasted for a few more flights until replacements came, and the motor on the Ares could be pulled out (all the way out the first time!) and "re-seated" to get more flights out of it. However, both planes suffered tail damage rendering them unflayable on their first real flying day.

When I opened the boxes to get them out for Santa to leave, I saw that these were basically the same styrofoam that styrofoam plates are made from (maybe even coarser meaning less strong). I knew they would be delicate. But based on reviews and videos, they *seemed* sturdy enough to with stand a few bumps and bruises, and even possibly a few "less than 3 point" landings.

No. They won't. Simply put, unless you know how to fly already, these planes will not survive a single crash (if they do, you simply lucked out and the next one will get you).

I was under the mistaken impression that a "hobbyist grade" plane would be more flightworthy and stable than a toy store plane (plenty of experience with Air Hogs) and the higher cost would equal durability. I also thought that the availability of replacement parts and the simple fact they can be repaired would also be a plus (unlike Air Hogs which you really can't repair).

It's apparent to me that these planes need to be flown indoors in a huge (I mean like the Astrodome without any seats in it) space with no obstacles and no air currents until such time as a pilot learns to control them well enough so that if there are obstacles, or there are air currents, they can bring the plane down safely - because, anything other than a safe landing means damage that could (and likely) will render it flightless. It's also apparent that a plane made out of Styrofoam is simply not a good idea for the "casual" flier.

Now, 180 bucks lighter of wallet, I'm not really interested in spending more money and time to get these flying (as both now need at least a new tail assembly) not to mention my sons' disappointment.

Also, I'm not interested in doing a virtual trainer program to learn to fly. That's just more money thrown at not flying with the knowledge that even if you do go on a maiden flight fully prepared, a stray gust can still cause a crash and destroy a styrofoam plane.

Now, I realize this is an R/C forum (I participate in a guitar forum where everyone is into mods, upgrades, bickering about best gear, etc. etc. so I'm no stranger to those kinds of responses) and you guys are probably into top quality equipment and even "boutique" gear (as the guitarists are). But I'm hoping that some of you also have experience with "toy store" planes or things you can buy that will fly easily, withstand some crashes without being destroyed, and don't cost too much.

Just as an example, last year one son got a Syma S107G heli - 25 bucks. Broke Christmas Day from another child using it, but replacement parts available on Amazon (not only through Hobbytown like my latest acquisitions). Once repaired, it lasted a good 6 months surviving all kinds of minor collisions (it was so easy to fly though that on the first flight it was hovering and moving perfectly until the other child got it). It is made of metal and has plastic blades.

I was happy enough that I found two rebranded ones at Best Buy which were brought by Santa this year. They're doing great.

I'd rather buy a $30 Air Hogs and get 5 flights out of it than buy a $90 champ and not even get one (the Ares by the way wouldn't bind with the controller on Christmas morning after having worked fine Christmas eve). I can buy 2 more Air Hogs for that. Not that I want to buy Air Hogs mind you, but they too are basically foam designed so that it's a little more rigid and dense. Sure they don't fly "like a real airplane" with elevators and all that, but, at least they fly. And a single crash doesn't bring them down. It usually takes pretty significant damage (I've realized the benefit of a rear mounted prop now).

It's impractical for me to find any indoor space with no wind other than our family room which is not all that huge (about the size of two standard bedrooms). We live on a cul-de-sac and though lined with trees at one end, is surburban houses, parked cars, etc. and that's the biggest open area I have in the immediate vicinity. We can go to a park with a HUGE amount of space but there's always the chance for wind and I can't wait for perfect weather conditions to happen at the same time as me and the kids are all off from work/school and can get a few hours to fly.

And, we're learning. It's going to hit the ground. Asphalt in the court, grass in the park. I don't mind having to drive to the park (it's not far) but again, I don't want to have to wait for "perfect" conditions. The winds were rated at 5MPH and less when we tried the planes yesterday and neither of them would fly into the wind. It basically just blew them around and rather than "flying" it was "keeping them from hitting the ground". No way to dial in the trim, etc.

Let me know if there's something inexpensive (I'd be willing to go $60 now) made of plastic, metal, or other impact resistant material that's also flexible so it bends and flexes rather than breaks, that will fly in some wind (still I understand it's going to have to be a "light breeze" not "windy") and that stays aloft, goes straight, and at least can be turned. If it can ascend and descend that would be OK too.

And maybe I'm asking too much for an "airplane". I want something that flies forward through the air creating lift as it goes and is maneuverable and is FUN, with little or no learning curve.

Thanks.
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 03:39 PM
DJO
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There are planes that are basically unbreakable out there, but not made for the beginner, and can't really be built for $60. I understand your frustration as I was frustrated in the beginning too. And it's not a very smart move to completely skip a simulator. I fly on my simulator at home here basically every day and it teaches me a LOT about flying, and it continues to help me, even after a full year and more of flying. I've been using the same $15 console that I bought a year ago and it's still working.

UNbreakable R/C planes are ALWAYS made of a certain type of foam called EPP.

The CrashTestHobby Pelican is nearly unbreakable, made of EPP, and is made for the beginner. HOWEVER... it costs more than $60 to set up and also requires a build process that may be difficult for a beginner.

http://crashtesthobby.com/products/pelican

Here's a good example of an unbreakable plane. It's made of EPP:

Assassin vs Brick Wall 3-12 (4 min 14 sec)


However, that is not a good beginners plane. But the Pelican is made of the same type of foam.

My suggestions:

-Get a simulator. Best $15 you'll ever spend for a simple, cheap simulator that'll teach you the basics.
-Buy something EPP, or learn on the simulator first before trying the Champ or the other plane again.

Hope this helps!



Dan
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 03:45 PM
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Little planes with light wing loading don't like wind, period. Your going to break them, no way around it, and the smaller they are, the harder they are to learn on. Rc sims can be had for about 20 bucks, and may not cure all dumb thumbs, but will at least get some muscle memory and will help a bunch. Plastic=weight, so not to many made out of plastic. There are some planes made out of flexible foam (EPP?) that survive much better, but I don't know of any for 60 ready to fly. I pay more than that just for the airframe.
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 03:52 PM
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Where are you at?
Flying RC is not as easy as most think.
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJO View Post
There are planes that are basically unbreakable out there, but not made for the beginner, and can't really be built for $60.

http://crashtesthobby.com/products/pelican

Dan
I'd be willing to go the price of this plane plus some more to get it pre-assembled but I guess what you're saying is there aren't any EPP planes meeting my needs pre-assembled and under 60 bucks. What about 100 bucks? I'd go 100 if I was sure it would be RTF and pretty durable as these appear to be.

Sim is funny to me. I'm trying to think of any other activity one has to train virtually to do before doing the real thing...I can't think of any outside of maybe bull riding machines (which seem to be no less violent than the real thing, albeit controllable). Maybe they do that in driver's ed now given technology but when I was a kid I learned behind the wheel ;-)

In other words, if I have to go through that much trouble just to do it, it's too hard to do, and not worth doing unless I'm smitten with the field. I think R/C flying would be like owning a boat - a hole in the sky into which you pour money!
Thanks for the quick response Dan.

I'll await other suggestions as well.

Steve
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 04:14 PM
DJO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by levets View Post
I'd be willing to go the price of this plane plus some more to get it pre-assembled but I guess what you're saying is there aren't any EPP planes meeting my needs pre-assembled and under 60 bucks. What about 100 bucks? I'd go 100 if I was sure it would be RTF and pretty durable as these appear to be.

Sim is funny to me. I'm trying to think of any other activity one has to train virtually to do before doing the real thing...I can't think of any outside of maybe bull riding machines (which seem to be no less violent than the real thing, albeit controllable). Maybe they do that in driver's ed now given technology but when I was a kid I learned behind the wheel ;-)

In other words, if I have to go through that much trouble just to do it, it's too hard to do, and not worth doing unless I'm smitten with the field. I think R/C flying would be like owning a boat - a hole in the sky into which you pour money!
Thanks for the quick response Dan.

I'll await other suggestions as well.

Steve
For the Pelican, you're looking at like:

$50 for the airframe with electronics
$12 motor
$13 ESC
$10 servos
$10 battery
$5 propeller

About $100 not including shipping. But you'd also need a transmitter to control it with, and an RX. That'll be at least $40. Heck, I have a good Spektrum DX5e that I could probably sell to you real cheap! And, depending on the charger you have, you may need a new one, which could be as low as $20...

As far as I know you can't get them pre-assembled and ready-to-fly (RTF). However, if you want, I've built one for myself and it flies nicely, so I can always build one for you if you'd like, I'd love to help you out. This is a great hobby once you get started correctly

Here, I just flew it today and it flies great. But it'll fly better in times with absolutely no wind.

Pretty awesome catch at the end too, shows that it's pretty durable I guess...

CrashTestHobby Pelican Flight, Calmer Conditions... Flying Fast ;) (3 min 43 sec)




Dan
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 04:20 PM
Da' Cajun
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Quote:
I want something that flies forward through the air creating lift as it goes and is maneuverable and is FUN, with little or no learning curve.
The RC airplane hobby is not for you.

You want a toy for your boys that they can pick up and play with in between video game sessions. Not that that is a bad thing.

Flying RC is a skill that must be learned. Airplanes don't crash, pilots do.

Were you able to play the guitar the first time you picked it up?
I know I couldn't. It was years (been playing since '75) before anyone besides my Mom wanted to hear me do some pickin'.

Same thing with RC airplanes. You must learn how to do it. There are no short-cuts or "indestructible planes".
You complain about the Champ, etc. being delicate and easily damaged. Planes (even full scale) are built to fly, not to crash.

If you are not totally in love with mechanical flight the set backs will quickly take the wind out of your sails. ...which sounds like it has already happened.


The RC airplane hobby is not for you.
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 04:23 PM
DJO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogie_ View Post
The RC airplane hobby is not for you.

(snip)

The RC airplane hobby is not for you.
I wouldn't say that right away... believe me, I bought a jet as my first R/C plane (and it was a hobby-grade one, too!) and I had that thing slam into the ground RIGHT after launch because I honestly thought that pushing "up" on the right radio stick made the plane go "up". FAIL! That's how newb-ish I was, and crashed that thing a good 20 times before giving up and trying to figure out what was going on

Once I got the simulator and then a trainer plane that went a LOT slower... I was golden.



Dan
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 04:37 PM
An itch?. Scratch build.
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I would agree with Boogie. If the only convenient flying site is in the cul-de-sac, you will never really enjoy model flying, and always be limited to the 'micro' sized models.

The ideal RC models for a cul-de-sac are RC cars. That way you can all drive them at the same time, have races etc. spend any additional money on 'tuning' them. They can be great run, especially with young boys.
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by levets View Post
I'd be willing to go the price of this plane plus some more to get it pre-assembled but I guess what you're saying is there aren't any EPP planes meeting my needs pre-assembled and under 60 bucks. What about 100 bucks? I'd go 100 if I was sure it would be RTF and pretty durable as these appear to be.

Sim is funny to me. I'm trying to think of any other activity one has to train virtually to do before doing the real thing...I can't think of any outside of maybe bull riding machines (which seem to be no less violent than the real thing, albeit controllable). Maybe they do that in driver's ed now given technology but when I was a kid I learned behind the wheel ;-)

In other words, if I have to go through that much trouble just to do it, it's too hard to do, and not worth doing unless I'm smitten with the field. I think R/C flying would be like owning a boat - a hole in the sky into which you pour money!
Thanks for the quick response Dan.

I'll await other suggestions as well.

Steve
You would apparantly be surprised to know how many hours of sim time full scale military and commercial pilots go thru dealing with manuevers that would put 10's of millions of dollars of hardware at risk if they just went out and tried it for real. Not to mention the medical field where operations and procedures as simple as intubating a patient to heart surgery are performed by students on a sim before ever touching a patient. Would you want them "practicing" on you??!!
It is no different with RC flight. Your beat chance of success is using an experienced flyer to help train you or if you must go it alone, a sim. As previously posted, there are a lot muscle/reaction memory paths that have to be ingrained to a certain extent to be successful.
I was a semi-pro musician for over 30 years playing a half dozen instruments and RC is no different. You have to put in the time and have the drive and interest to make it happen. You'll be just as proud of yourself when you can fly RC successfully as when your mom was willing to hear you play guitar in the same room!
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 05:13 PM
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Get a hobbyking atom if you can find it in stock. Costs $36 dollars and is almost indestructible, and flies nicely in wind. It's still a hobby grade plane because it uses control surfaces with servos. I have a champ, and I agree that it's somewhat fragile for a beginner plane. The atom is EPO which means that if you crash, you just put the dented foam in hot water and it goes back to the original shape. Any cracks can be fixed with some hot glue.
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 05:58 PM
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The main problem is that a large segment, perhaps the majority learn on their own these days. Sometimes you get unlucky and totally smash up a champ in a couple flights... sometimes you do not quite enough damage to put it out of commission and actually earn your wings before major repairs. In this age a flight sim is IMPERATIVE for the DIY beginner. I still tell people to try and find someone to teach them the basics on a buddy box, but that's just not convenient enough for most people.
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 06:13 PM
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Joined Dec 2010
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I tell ya what I haven't seen I mentioned here yet but I have a firebird stratos that I have beat the heck out of and learned to fly on through multiple hard crashes and just had to buy my first replacement part. And that was a set of props because the originals were nicked up and I thought I deserved some new ones not needed them lol. I would highly recommend this plane to any beginner. It's a bigger plane and can handle some wind, you wouldn't regret getting this. I also have a champ and wouldn't let my brother in law with no flying experience fly it but had no worrys giving him a shot with the stratos. He handled it fine had a rough landing that broke away the wing, but it just snaps back on and was ready to go again. That same crash would have ruined the champs day lol.

http://secure.hobbyzone.com/HBZ7700....FcaiPAodO3AAHQ
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 06:24 PM
Teddy Ong
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Some "beginner" planes aren't beginner enough at all... They are like a scale plane and requires very good hands-on repair skills.
Our school always let us start on gliders, then control line, then RC.
It lets you get a grip on almost everything. The CG, repairs, material, motor power, etc.

Calm down and take a few deep breaths.

Good. I would recommend a EasyStar or a clone of it because all damages only need glue and hot water.
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Old Jan 06, 2013, 06:25 PM View Post
btown2
A moderator felt this post violated the following rule: Trolling (Provocation). It is temporarily hidden while btown2 edits it. Show it to me anyway.
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