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Old Feb 04, 2013, 02:25 PM
WINS - Winch In Nose Sailplane
jaizon's Avatar
USA, NH
Joined Mar 2008
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Buy cheap buy twice

Many of us in R/C have heard the old adage "Buy cheap, buy twice".

Is this really true? What have your experiences been...pro or con? Details, baby, details.
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Old Feb 04, 2013, 07:09 PM
Hot Dawg Glider Pilot
schrederman's Avatar
United States, TX, Weatherford
Joined Nov 2002
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I bought a charger for $19- shipped... 5 years ago and still works great!
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Old Feb 04, 2013, 08:11 PM
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Joined Nov 2005
3,589 Posts
Got stories on both sides, and if you are in this long enough everyone will.

Marc
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Old Feb 04, 2013, 09:34 PM
Lou
Well, that should buff out.
United States, VA, Waynesboro
Joined Dec 2005
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Yeah ... stories from both sides of this topic for me as well. Depends on the item to some extent I suppose and the value of the plane it is being put into. Then factor in the risk of say a 5 dollar servo in a 300 dollar plane.

Even 60 dollar servos will fail and when they do, you would feel no better about the situation if it were a 5 dollar servo that failed.

You roll the dice, you takes your chances.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 04:58 AM
Intermediate Multi
Trisquire's Avatar
Columbus, OH
Joined Mar 2005
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I thought the saying was, "Buy cheap, because by next week you will have lost interest."
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 10:27 AM
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South Africa, GP, Pretoria
Joined Jan 2012
97 Posts
I think you have to weigh up the value of the plane, your experience level and what you can justify spending. You're not investing in your business or career here, you're flying a model plane (awesome as that may be!), and that in itself is financially a dead loss the moment you pay for it.

When I started a $200 2 meter electric foamie was what I could afford, appreciate and confront.

Now, 16 months later, I fly a $2000 Xplorer glider. Between the foamie and the Xplo went hundreds of hours of learning NOT to crash, learning to launch and thermal, learning to land, learning to recover from a panic, learning how to build and reapir, and learning to program my gear.

Had I started with the Xplorer I'd be crying over a very expensive wreck right now.


Buying cheap rubbish-, no-name or damaged gear is however just plain silly, expensive in terms of loss and dangerous to you and others. So I guess due diligence also comes into it.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 01:06 PM
Flying = Falling (Slowly)
dharban's Avatar
Tulsa, OK
Joined May 2004
2,691 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obake View Post
e.

Even 60 dollar servos will fail and when they do, you would feel no better about the situation if it were a 5 dollar servo that failed.
I suppose, though I would not feel as silly about a 60 dollar servo failing in a 2000 dollar airplane as I would a 5 dollar servo. Just sayin'.

Happy Landings,

Don
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 02:23 PM
WINS - Winch In Nose Sailplane
jaizon's Avatar
USA, NH
Joined Mar 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dharban View Post
I suppose, though I would not feel as silly about a 60 dollar servo failing in a 2000 dollar airplane as I would a 5 dollar servo. Just sayin'.

Happy Landings,

Don
Last year I saw a fellow put one of those $7 orange servos in the nose of an old, but flyable, Pike (?). Everyone suggested that this might not be a good idea. He did not listen. He launched and at the top, before the zoom, lost the plane. It came off the line and made a very nice arc straight into the ground. No one was in the least bit surprised.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 03:40 PM
Lou
Well, that should buff out.
United States, VA, Waynesboro
Joined Dec 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dharban View Post
I suppose, though I would not feel as silly about a 60 dollar servo failing in a 2000 dollar airplane as I would a 5 dollar servo. Just sayin'.

Happy Landings,

Don
Oh, I agree. You will never see me put an inexpensive servo in anything but a cheap foam plane. Most of us have seen the person bragging about how much money they saved by buying inexpensive electroincs, only to watch their plane at some point crash, due to those electronics.

The best one I seen was a guy putting a cheap BEC on a 6 servo/4s setup. 11 dollar BEC downed a near 500 dollar plane. always carry a plastic bag with me, just for guys like that.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 11:14 PM
Balsa addiction since age 3
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Upstate NY
Joined May 2005
1,275 Posts
So I will speak from the other side of the chasm...

Servos - I cheap out ONLY on the ones that are used for spoilers on my sailplanes and on electric foamies. $3 servo per wing for spoilers - HXT900's - overkill. All others are name brand that I trust - typically Hitec HS-81 or 81mg or 65 (not used yet, but like the specs). There is a reason for this, servos are made with many names, some are quality, some are quality on thursday and not friday (depends on whom makes them if you get my drift), some just don't have adequate wire strain relief and are susceptible to vibration and WILL fail more likely over time - even in a glider.

ESC's... I use Hobbywing (and various different renamed Hobbywing - the majority ONLY with switching BEC vs linear). I have great experience with them, no failures (many planes, 3-4 years) but always put in a far greater size than I have MEASURED that I need for a motor/prop/battery. 60A vs 40A and they don't break the bank compared to some name brands. Yes, the are little heavier - I am ok with that 20 extra grams of excess capacity. Given that these appear to be fully automatically made (ie production line, automatic insertion equipment), I have no qualms about their quality and ability to safely fly my plane. Board quality and parts layout is very similar to other "name" brand. I had a 40A that I inadvertently drew 80A out of for 1 year (less than 30-40 secs at a time) PRIOR to realizing I needed an ammeter. (I swear by them now, electric fliers substitute for the old expanded scale voltmeter and recyclers).

Batteries - I have only used HK brand OR hobbypartz or Value hobby - NEVER a name brand. The only battery failure I have had was my first electric (moved from nicad) when I did not know to discharge to mid voltage for storage AND did not have proper ESC setting - yes, I lost a plane and learned from that experience. I have 0 qualms about using these batteries and again I don't approach the C rating in use except for one instance with a 1300 nanotech HK battery - and it is just fine - no swelling, no loss of capacity, etc. I set my ESC to cutoff at 9.9 under load for 3 cells and use my teletry system to verify that - see below. Kudo's to those people that use the more expensive name brands (balance of $ vs capability) but I am not sold on them simply because I would rather place my money elsewhere - this is just a hobby BUT I insist on safety.

Transmitters/RF solution. I have used Futaba, Hitec, Aristocraft, Polk, Cirrus over the last 30 years - never had a problem. Take the back off of them, they are built as you would expect, the boards are top quality, auto insertion used, wires are neatly twisted, tied, strain relieved, etc. As 2.4 became popular, I started with Fly Dream 2.4 mod to my Hitec - why? $ per receiver. About 20 receivers ~$24 a piece, the only issue (never a crash, never a problem per se) was when I didn't have antenna properly set - again, I was new to 2.4.

I now use FrSky 2.4 solution on a "$49" transmitter made by FlySky - the 9X with open9x software. Why? I have full telemetry which I personally feel is a SAFETY thing, I know how well my transmitter signal is being seen by each plane - no if's, and's or buts!. I know what my pack voltage is! I know what my ESC voltage is - while under flight load for both. Oh yea, I know how high my plane is (altimeter) and see the result on my transmitter screen. Lastly - $18-$28 a receiver....

So quality of the FlySky (Not the FrSky RF solution) 9x Transmitter is marginal. I don't recommend to anyone that is not comfortable taking the back off and inspecting for poorly soldered wires. The board quality is pretty good (but not quite as good as name brand). The point to point wiring is the weak spot. I also have Hitec Aurora 9 gimbals to put in this year. I would NOT likely trust this radio for a heavy duty helicopter or 3D flier where the gimbals get used a lot (unless swapped out). I have two of these and flying electric sailplanes, I will never wear them out.

Open 9x SW is the reason for using this transmitter - there is nothing that this SW can't do. Many kudo's to several open source teams for this development - it is different than "name" brand but virtually unlimited in capability. The Turnigy 9xr can use (more correctly ER9X but can be updated) and the future FrSky X series of transmitters are supposed to support this as well.

Quality of the FrSky and Fly Dream RF solution? Performance is as you would expect - they work very well. Weakness of the FrSky in my humble opinion - they use a push on connector for the antennas (to allow replacement or longer antennas - which is a good feature) and I worry about them coming off - so I use an adhesive. No issue with FlyDream at all - very nice quality throughout.

Spinners - I pay less than $8 per spinner - most US places are just stupidly priced. Propellers - I only use Aeronaut from Esprit Be wary of RPM limitations of these or any prop - at least Aeronaut specifies...

Scott
PS - take a look at my blog for the planes I fly - I have built 1 plane in 10 years - the point is I am incredibly careful to try to ensure that if a plane crashes - it is NOT "likely" due to anything other than my dumb thumbs.
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 12:36 AM
IT'S NOSE HEAVY!!!!!!!
cityevader's Avatar
United States, CA, San Jose
Joined Mar 2012
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I phrase it "I can't afford to buy cheap".

There is a point along the graph of actual quality versus price paid, upon which one gets the "best quality" for the "best price". Thing is, one cannot directly use price determine quality, and vice versa.
Unfortunately, it requires an actual personal experience of those levels of product quality in which to become familiar with the intricacies of the price/quality curve. And this can be quite a process! Anyone's advice is just that...advice...based on someone else's opinion.

Being a mechanic, when it comes to tools, I don't D.. around. Top quality is priority unless there is a predetermined reason to have a one-time use tool that might not even work that one time.

Right tool=productivity because not having the right tool for the job costs time which is a whooole lot of money if your trying to D.. around to rig something up to merely get the job done...somehow.

When it comes to RC, everyone's personal "perfect value" is meaning less to anybody else, because it's a personal decision.

Myself...I'll put cheapy $3 servos in a $100 airplane. Good value. One can/should disagree as to the "perfect value". We're all right/wrong equally.

Edited to add: I also have three $30 servos in a $40 plane. So value is clearly a decision that is made.
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 11:56 AM
Will fly for food
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Bellevue WA,
Joined Dec 2003
7,092 Posts
Price does not always equal quality. I've had several high quality servos fail from most major brands. I sold an airframe to a buddy who installed very inexpensive servos in it. He let me fly it and it was no where near as good as when I had it with medium quality (HS85's) servos. He let me fly another one of his ships with the cheep servos that he is so proud of an it was not stable. You could tell the servos were not centering well. The air was calm but plane acted like it was in turbulence.
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 01:13 PM
Flying = Falling (Slowly)
dharban's Avatar
Tulsa, OK
Joined May 2004
2,691 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottSails View Post

Batteries - I have only used HK brand OR hobbypartz or Value hobby - NEVER a name brand. The only battery failure I have had was my first electric (moved from nicad) when I did not know to discharge to mid voltage for storage AND did not have proper ESC setting - yes, I lost a plane and learned from that experience. I have 0 qualms about using these batteries and again I don't approach the C rating in use except for one instance with a 1300 nanotech HK battery - and it is just fine - no swelling, no loss of capacity, etc. I set my ESC to cutoff at 9.9 under load for 3 cells and use my teletry system to verify that - see below. Kudo's to those people that use the more expensive name brands (balance of $ vs capability) but I am not sold on them simply because I would rather place my money elsewhere - this is just a hobby BUT I insist on safety.
There ARE applications where high C batteries are necessary and appropriate. Some of the ALES planes out there require small battery packs because of physical space limitations and to keep weight in the nose down. (It doesn't make much sense to put big bucks down for a light weight plane and then to stuff lead in the tail to balance a heavy battery.

I use a lot of small (850 and 1300 mah) high C packs in my planes. The best, by far, that I have used are the TP 65C packs. They deliver the goods and they last a long, long time -- even when you hit them hard on every launch. I generally run these packs at 50C for 40 percent of their capacity in a single launch and then recharge them at 5C. I have been using them since they came out and have hundreds of flights on them without a single failure. Most of my rechareges are logged on my computer and I have yet to see a pack which showed any deterioration of capacity or internal resistance. I have measured the temperature rise on these packs in actual service and they still stay below the 140 F max that manufacturers recommend for LiPos.

I realize that this is a special application (much different from your applications), but I have looked at some of the cheaper packs and their C ratings are generally overstated. Given the temperature ranges I see when I run my TP's at 50C for 40 percent of their capacity, I am fairly certain that there are guys running some of the cheaper packs at higher temperatures than they should be.

If you are running cheaper 45+ C packs close to their C rating, you may be playing with fire -- literally. (BTW -- on warm days, I have seen my TP packs run MEASURED temps approaching 125F -- and before I started measuring actual temperatures, I would have called that "warm to the touch"). 140F is not as hot as you might imagine.

There may be nothing wrong with running cheaper packs substantially below their ratings (probably in the range of 1/2 of their continuous max. C rating), but if you are buying cheap 45+ C packs with the notion of running them close to their ratings, you may not end up with the savings that you expected.

Happy Landings,

Don
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 01:19 PM
Flying = Falling (Slowly)
dharban's Avatar
Tulsa, OK
Joined May 2004
2,691 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidjensen View Post
Price does not always equal quality. I've had several high quality servos fail from most major brands. I sold an airframe to a buddy who installed very inexpensive servos in it. He let me fly it and it was no where near as good as when I had it with medium quality (HS85's) servos. He let me fly another one of his ships with the cheep servos that he is so proud of an it was not stable. You could tell the servos were not centering well. The air was calm but plane acted like it was in turbulence.
Besides the improved performance that you sometimes get for a little more money, you almost always get improved customer support. One of my buddies flew his glider into a power line and exploded the whole thing. The electronics were fried. And he sent the cinders that were the remnants of his NOT CHEAP servos back to the manufacturer and they simply replaced them.

Happy Landings,

Don
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 02:54 PM
WINS - Winch In Nose Sailplane
jaizon's Avatar
USA, NH
Joined Mar 2008
3,109 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharban View Post
There ARE applications where high C batteries are necessary and appropriate. Some of the ALES planes out there require small battery packs because of physical space limitations and to keep weight in the nose down. (It doesn't make much sense to put big bucks down for a light weight plane and then to stuff lead in the tail to balance a heavy battery.

I use a lot of small (850 and 1300 mah) high C packs in my planes. The best, by far, that I have used are the TP 65C packs. They deliver the goods and they last a long, long time -- even when you hit them hard on every launch. I generally run these packs at 50C for 40 percent of their capacity in a single launch and then recharge them at 5C. I have been using them since they came out and have hundreds of flights on them without a single failure. Most of my rechareges are logged on my computer and I have yet to see a pack which showed any deterioration of capacity or internal resistance. I have measured the temperature rise on these packs in actual service and they still stay below the 140 F max that manufacturers recommend for LiPos.

I realize that this is a special application (much different from your applications), but I have looked at some of the cheaper packs and their C ratings are generally overstated. Given the temperature ranges I see when I run my TP's at 50C for 40 percent of their capacity, I am fairly certain that there are guys running some of the cheaper packs at higher temperatures than they should be.

If you are running cheaper 45+ C packs close to their C rating, you may be playing with fire -- literally. (BTW -- on warm days, I have seen my TP packs run MEASURED temps approaching 125F -- and before I started measuring actual temperatures, I would have called that "warm to the touch"). 140F is not as hot as you might imagine.

There may be nothing wrong with running cheaper packs substantially below their ratings (probably in the range of 1/2 of their continuous max. C rating), but if you are buying cheap 45+ C packs with the notion of running them close to their ratings, you may not end up with the savings that you expected.

Happy Landings,

Don
Excellent advice, Don. I concur 100%.
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