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Jun 03, 2009, 01:57 AM
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How long does it take to get good at understanding this stuff?

Wow, sometimes I think I should have stuck with gas! When my little plane quietly drifts overhead I know why I like electric but I'm a little fed up with the learning curve. I almost wrecked a good lipo and the hobby shop guy bailed me out. Are lipos so fussy that they convert some people back to gas? Does anyone else feel overwhelmed by dos and don'ts and high tech electrical engineering talk? Is there a point when it gets simple and low maintenance?
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Jun 03, 2009, 03:17 AM
Reduce the drama...
rick.benjamin's Avatar
Hi Andrew;
Are lipos fussy? Absolutely
Some people go back to gas? Absolutely
Overwhelmed by techie talk? Absolutely
Is there a point when it gets simple and low maintenance? Absolutely
BUT Achieving that level of knowledge requires lots of study.
The beginners forum
is a great place to learn lots of information. Look for stickies listed first in line.
In fact, each and every forum has stickies to more fully inform the members.

BTW, Big Cheer for the hobby shop guy!

You only mention a lipo related issue.
That could be "over-discharged" from flying,
"over-charged" from any number of reasons.

IF you share more information, someone will chime in to help.
Jun 03, 2009, 03:51 AM
Registered User
It already is simple and low maintenance for some people. They just ask for advice, take it and are careful to follow the instructions they're given. A bit boring maybe but they're the people we don't hear from a lot because they're just out there flying .

BTW the high tech electrical engineering talk is interesting to many but it's no more necessary than it was necessary for you to learn all about torque curves, BMEP, Schnuerle porting, compression ratios etc to fly your fuel planes.

Jun 03, 2009, 05:07 AM
Registered User
Sound like it's a great hobby shop you're using

LiPos have been know also to drive some flyers to alternative "fuel" sources, such as A123 batteries. They're much more tolerant of physical and electrical abuse and can be stored fully charged so you can fly without having to prepare. I have a couple of LiPo powered models that will have A123s in them when the LiPos eventually die, because at the moment they need lead in their noses to balance them My T-Rex 500 might get A123s after I've learned to fly it, and when my present LiPos die; and a couple of small foamies might get Saphions (similar to the 1100 size A123s) when their LiPo dies.

As you'll have guessed, I'm really hooked on A123 or similar batteries because of their relative safety and the fact I charge them straight after a flight and they're ready to go next time .... whenever that is. And I learned about them by reading this forum

No way I'm going back to gas. My next project, when I get the money, will be converting my 1.20 size Carl Goldberg Sukhoi SU26 to electric -- should go well with 10S or 12S A123 made up from 6S and 5S packs that I already use in my smaller models.

Edit: With reference to your title, what took me longest to grasp was the relationship between prop size and motor amps. Once you've got that, the rest is mainly matching components and allowing sensible margins in their ratings so that they don't get overloaded
Last edited by abenn; Jun 03, 2009 at 05:13 AM.
Jun 03, 2009, 08:26 AM
AKA Terry Till
ex-racr's Avatar
You're doing the right thing by posting your questions here. If there are other local electric fliers ask them for help or copy their setup. With electric, once it's set up correctly, that's it! No cleaning oil, no fussing with needles, etc. Also, you can test everything right in your house (not flying of course). Check all the controls, run up the motor test different props- without ever making a trip to the field to troubleshoot. I think right now there are almost too many equipment choices without knowing what's the best value. IMHO, unless you're competing, you want the reliability of a Honda; not the performance/maintainance of a Ferrari. If you are within the limits of your equipment, you should have no trouble. FWIW also, things do break- but that's no different than gas/glow- but they'll also last longer if you eliminate vibration at the onset.
Jun 03, 2009, 08:53 AM
Man, you think its hard at your age? Wait till your 80 then try to figure it out.

One thing that drives me nuts is the suppliers lie on every thing. Bought an airplane advertised as 3 lbs flying weight. Well it weighed 4 lbs and that was not good. Spent hours ripping it apart and rebuilding.

Trying to get good data on motors is hard. I generally have to buy at least two motors to get the right KV. Just bought 3 from a well know supplier that I have used with good success. Every thing was junk. Magnets installed cock eyed. Metal shield inside flopping loose. The shafts were so short on one end that that props kept flying off and etc. Ruined about $15 worth of props and almost lost a plane in flight. Going on 6 weeks latter mfg will not return my motors or answer when I can get them back. Great! If this guy doesn't get off his [email protected]#$ I'm going to name him!!

I guess the real way to learn is to ask really dumb questions and hope you get decent answers. Out of 10 answers however 4 of them are wrong. If you complain about really rotten service everybody jumps on you and says- Gee I never had any problem and there for you are an idiot. Invest in test gear and test every thing before you fly A Watt meter is a absolute must. A test /thrust stand is easy to make and is a must. If your planes are over 3 lbs switch to A123's. Under 2 lbs Lipos are the only choice. Buy quality and buy once. Hurts to spend the extra but it pays off. ESC's? Castle Creations costs a lot more but is the only way to go. Know nothing about Lipo's but from the posts this is really a crap shoot.

Anyway play around with a watt meter and test stand and various props. After a while you will pick up an intuitive feel and know what to do and who is selling you junk!

So Gas which is well worked out is sure easier but not nearly as much fun.

So ask the really dumb questions before doing anything. Who cares? we really don't know who anyone is anyway.
Jun 03, 2009, 09:35 AM
FASST flyer
KatManDEW's Avatar
It gets easier... I was overwhelmed when I first started flying electric, and I almost gave up. But that was back in the days before lipo batteries, and it was harder to get good performance from an electric setup in those days.

Biggest thing with lipo batteries is to treat them with respect and care. Don't over discharge them, and do NOT overcharge them. It's best to not discharge them any more than 80%. So if it's a 1000mah pack, don't pull more than 800mah out of it when you fly. That's hard to tell if you don't have a charger that shows you how much you put back into a pack when you recharge it.

Over charging can be very bad, and can easily cause a fire if you overcharge too far. Keep a close eye while charging to make sure the charger peaks at 4.2 volts per cell, and the current starts dropping from there.

Don't let your lipo's get too hot while flying. You can measure the pack temp, but if they don't feel alarmingly hot after flying it's probably OK. Temps over 125 to 130 F will shorten the lifespan.

I've been flying lipo's since they first became available, and I have packs from back in those days that still work. I only discharge packs for storage during the winter months. I leave them charged during flying season. I have a massive number of lipo's in all sizes of for everything from indoor foaimes to 35% scale planes, and I've had very good luck with them.

A little bit of basic knowledge and some common sense will go a long way. It really helps if you have some friends locally to trade notes with. But if not, just keep asking questions online and you will eventually get the hang of things. The signal to noise ratio online is pretty bad, so you will have to weed through the information you find to get what you need.
Jun 03, 2009, 09:39 AM
You WILL learn to love me!
Jun 03, 2009, 10:27 AM
Registered User
I am an electrical engineer but I will not speak technical in this post. Just some simple facts.
I am an old time gas flier and went electric out of curiosity. I only use A123's because I am afraid of LIPOs, and NICDs and NIMH's don't interest me.
Leaving gas I discovered :
1) No needle jets to play with.
2) No carburetor to fool with.
3) Lots and lots less vibration.
4) The props seem to last longer and are much cheaper.
5) No starter to carry around.
6) Its never necessary to finger the prop.
7) No fuel to buy.
8) No fuel to mix.
9) No fuel can to carry around.
10) To clean my plane all I have to do is dust it.
11) No glow or spark plug to carry around or fool with.
12) No ignition battery to charge.
13) No ignition noise to shield.

All I have to worry about is the charger doing its job.
I have a copy of Motocalc. It takes care of technical questions so I don't have to think.
I can stop and start the engine in flight and it never fails.
Jun 03, 2009, 10:50 AM
Registered User
flydiver's Avatar
Those are the long answers. Short answer is it depends on how much time you give it. You won't get it by just flying. You DO have to study. I'm 61, started 2 years ago and I'd say it too 2 months of some serious reading before the foundation was established. On top of that I was learning to fly-sounds like you don't have that 'impediment'.

I've got 2 older buddies (70) that JUST want to learn to fly. They are constantly frustrated by 'screwing up' the electrics. They NEVER check motor specs, they break a prop they throw WHATEVER is in their box on it. They don't have a clue about figuring out power/KV/weight requirements. I've pointed them plenty in the right direction. They don't even try. They pay the price, then are annoyed about it. I think it feels so overwhelming to them they don't know where to start.

These guys are not dummies. They both have college degrees and are no where near 'doddering' yet.

Pick an area you feel weak in, find the 'basic' info, and start in. Like ANY completely new subject it won't make sense at first. After awhile it will. You have to learn the terms, then the concepts, then the details. Then you get it.
Jun 04, 2009, 09:58 AM
That's a funny word
If you are asking directly about lipos , for me it took a "hands on" approach since I read,studied,learned on the internet for over one year BEFORE jumping in. Yet, then asked some of the very basic questions when I actually go them in my hands. That's my learning style though.

I think it would be better to not know much about NI batteries and start with lipos. They are easier to grasp.
Jun 04, 2009, 10:48 AM
characters welcome!
Mark Wood's Avatar
The search function is your best friend in this aspect of the hobby. Most of the questions have been answered a dozen times each already. All one has to do is find them. Half the work has already been done.

Jun 04, 2009, 10:53 AM
Pursuit of Happiness
Ron101's Avatar
One good bit of advice I can give is always fly with a timer.
I have a countdown timer set to start with the throttle is above about an 1/8 inch.. this way the timer stops if I'm gliding or on down lines

On all new planes start with a short timer 3:30 .. fly and charge see what you put back
Increase your timer slow until your just about 80% with enough for a good around... it may take you 5 or 6 flights to find that sweet spot

This one rule alone can really save your packs and get many flights... overdischarge your packs a few times and they don't hold up for long
do it right and you could see 200 + cycles

Jun 04, 2009, 12:36 PM
Registered User
Andrew, I'm going through the same thing. After years of nitro and gas flying I tried a foamy EDF jet - little did I know what I was getting into. The learning curse is a little long. My biggest problem is separating the BS from the useful information; that, and being able to separate the crap products (and there are a LOT of them) from the good products. But as stated someplace above, it sure is nice to go fly without all the 'extras' of gas and nitro; and the rush from flying a jet fast and low is pretty neat. Because I'm a 3D addict also, I got a PA Addiction coming. But the electronic crap is a pain to learn and does take a lot of time and dffort. Probably took just as long to learn gas and nitro - but it sure doesn't seem like it.
Jun 04, 2009, 06:36 PM
Registered User
Here is a thought: If you are new to electrics and don't know exactly what you are doing stick with A123's. They are hard to ruin and they don't explode or burst into flame.
When you know what you want and need the last bit of performance go to LIPO's

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