Perfect Trainer. - RC Groups
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Feb 23, 2010, 03:52 PM
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Perfect Trainer.

A buddy of mine (Mike) has been designing and building rc planes for decades. I've enjoyed watching but have never tried it myself. Then a couple weeks ago he invited me over to try flying. He had built a foam biplane kit and wanted to put a total newbie on the controls. Having never flown I was a bit reluctant. He gave me a 5 minute verbal crash (pardon the pun) and then handed me the controls. My only experience with something like that was with my xbox controller, I play halo occasionally and am told that having my xbox controller configured to play inverted would help. I did not share their confidence. Mike re-assured me and even showed me that as long as the plane had 30+ feet of altitude he could set the controller down and the plane would land safely on the grass completely unassisted.

What happened next really blew my mind. Mike held the plane for a hand launch, I ran up the power to 2/3 and up it went. Keeping my head wrapped around left and right as I made passes left and right was a bit confusing (one direction left meant the plane would fly away from me and the other left would point the plane to me). Though the audion is not real clear, you can hear me commenting about it to Mike as I try to make my flight. You can see how I did here or under his SlowBipe post. Totally amazing to me just under 2 minutes of flight for a complete first timer and it was very cool!

Mike tells me that the secret to his trainer is:
  • It flies slow enough to give a first timer plenty of time to react.
  • The motor is overpowered providing enough thrust to get out of trouble (didn’t experience that with my first flight as I kept the throttle pretty fixed).
  • Control surfaces are huge (Mike warned me to make small movements with the joystick cause full rudder would move a lot of air).
  • Lots of lift, (It totally floated to the ground for me when I powered down for landing).
  • Crashes don't result in major repair bill or replacement (I can attest to this as my subsequent flights haven't been nearly as clean as my first solo, I fly a little more agressively... its too fun)
  • It's simply fun to fly, even after learning a bit about flying.
I was so impressed that I bought one if his kits and have been flying it for the past couple weeks. I purchased an extra Lightmax LiPo 1000 battery so I can have about 30-40 minutes of flight time each time I go out. It’s a TOTAL blast. My only instruction was the 5 minute lesson I got before and during my first flight. All subsequent flights were at home.

I’ve nosed in at least a dozen times. Total damage, 3-4 props (they are easily replaced, kit comes with 2, purchased 5 more for $7.5 at the hobby store. The other thing I’m suggesting he include in his kit is a tube of epoxy, a couple crashes were under full power in winds gusting > 20 Mph, yeah that was stupid on my part. That said, 2-3 minutes with 60 second epoxy and my plane was up and flying again (I really like the 60 second dual epoxy from Walmart, comes with 2 self mixing nozzles for around $3.5, making major repairs cost around $1.75). More important it took less time that it takes to drain my lightmax 1000 Li-Po battery. Mike tells me hot glue is as effective, though I don’t expect the hotglue drying time to be as quick as the 60 second epoxy.

Over the past 2 weeks I’ve charged and drained my two batteries, 8-10 times each and it’s a total hoot. The power is amazing I can point it vertical and fly it till it’s almost too small to see and then circle it down with no power. In fact on one flight I didn’t get the battery all the way into the nose and after a couple hard loops I could see it dangling by its connector. I east it level and prayed the connector would hold… it did not. The crazy part is that under zero control (no battery) it just floated down and landed no damage.

He's got a site up (in the past couple weeks) and has posted some killer video including video of his HUGE foam biplane (wingspan around 6-7 feet). Take a look i didn't realize it initially but SlowBipe is short for Slow BiPlane. Yeah I'm a newbie.
Last edited by KTRC; Feb 23, 2010 at 04:54 PM.
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Feb 23, 2010, 05:25 PM
Formerly bUd~Fokker
vvV FANG Vvv's Avatar
Interesting to see that your only posts are spamming this plane.
Whats it made of? Couldnt find it listed.
Seems a little pricey for what looks like a profile plane made from blue foam.
Feb 23, 2010, 06:09 PM
Registered User
My only post are related to this plane cause its the only thing I've flown, didn't mean to offend. Call me a bit zealos but I've wanted to fly for a long time (visited an RC Airshow west of Mesa AZ in 1988), but have resisted becuase I there saw a handful of crashes that resulted in total plane replacement. And there were some amazing planes there. I've always worried the learning curve required multiple expensive repairs.

With this plane and 5 minutes of instruction I've been able to put in over 130 minutes of flight time with additionall spend of around $15 (epoxy, props). Yes it's made of foam and maybe the initial price seems high but I would count the costs based on dollars/fligth time and to me it seems pretty good.

Best thing for me is that I've been able to try and enjoy something that I've wanted to do for many years.
Feb 23, 2010, 06:34 PM
Registered User
surely an easystar would be the best beginners plane,

you can nose it in as many times as you like and never break a prop, that's cos it's a pusher, prop and motor nicely out of the way on the naecell above the fuse.

you can nose dive it into the ground and it may break a little, but you just glue the bits backtogether with super clue (cyano)
tho 99% of the time it just bounces instead of breaking, thats the beauty of the elapor it's made of.

i learnt to fly on an easystar, practiced a little on fms, bought the plane, built it in an hour, was flying it with absolutely no instruction from anyone,

after a few weeks i swapped the motor out for a brushless set up, doubling the power and halving the current consumption, thus almost doubeling my flight times,

wanted to add aelerons, so did, bit of cutting with a shart knife, bit of cyano, and i was all set.

then i got a camera and mounted that on the easystar and started playing with aerial photography,

not bad for a 50 quid plane that i bounced along the ground a good 50 times before putting wheels on it,
Feb 23, 2010, 09:01 PM
Formerly bUd~Fokker
vvV FANG Vvv's Avatar
Yeah hard to beat a good old easystar for a first plane, and one that you can really grow with as you progress.
Feb 24, 2010, 12:45 AM
Registered User
Good info I took a look at the easystar on hobby-lobby. I like the idea of a pusher. I would add landing gear to my SlowBipe, but I fly/land over my back yard so I'd be worried about having small wheels stick into the grass. I'm most interested in adding a camera to be able to shoot some arial stills or video.

Bud~FokkerU2, I also compared the easystar RTF kit to the SlowBipe (189.99 to 149.99, $40.99 difference). The easystar kit comes with a radio and the SlowBipe doesn't. If the slowbipe comes with HQ components like (LiPo battery, Brushless Motor, etc.) does it still sound overpriced to you?

BTW, I decided to test my skill (or lack of common sense) in the wind today. I make several flights in some killer wind. My only hard landing was due to novice error (forgot to raise the antenna on my radio so the servos went haywire when it got about 150 away). No major damage though. Even got a subsequent flight on video. Don't have tool to measure wind speed but the flags in the video give a pretty good indicator of what was happening.

Flying my SlowBipe BiPlane RC Trainer in hard winds (1 min 26 sec)

Best viewed in 1080p as most the video is shot pretty wide
Feb 24, 2010, 04:57 PM
Formerly bUd~Fokker
vvV FANG Vvv's Avatar
One thing i forgot to add about this plane, i think its a tad ugly!
Feb 25, 2010, 06:55 AM
Sussex, UK
RobinBennett's Avatar
KTRC - I know you're stoked about being able to fly (I still remember bouncing around the house after my first slow-stick flight) but this model isn't all that unusual (except in style).

Slow, stable planes make good trainers, provided there's no wind. They pretty much fly themselves and you don't have to work very hard to keep them from flying away. Also they aren't going fast when they do crash, so the damage is limited.

However, if you live somewhere that doesn't get lots of calm weather, they aren't much use. Any wind will blow them away down wind, and the stability works against you when there's any turbulance, as it changes the direction of flight in response to every change in the oncomming air.

There are a number of trainers that use this idea (like my old slow-stick) but most are a little faster. It makes them a bit harder to fly in a flat calm, but the trade-off is that they don't get much harder in a gentle breeze.

Also, (speaking as someone who has taught quite a few people and flown a variety of trainers) some people learn much faster than others. Some would really struggle with even an easy model, repeatedly steering the wrong way when it's comming towards them and take hours of patient instructing with regular intervention. Others get the hang of so quickly they teach themselves to fly without any instruction.

Another factor is that even though your friend didn't have to take over the transmitter, he gave you a big help by picking a calm day, a big open space and ensuring the model was set up properly.

Basically what I'm saying is, congratulations on learning to fly, but your success wasn't entirely due to something unique about the model. There are lots of other great trainers out there these days and I don't think there's one design that could be perfect for everyone.
Feb 25, 2010, 07:27 PM
Registered User
Thanks for the feedback RobinBennett, I'll be the first to admit that I don't have any experience with other planes, there may be other planes out there with amazing abilities. Add to that how much fun I'm having doing something I've put off for years (decades really), it's easy to be enamored. I also don't underestimate value of having Mike get the plane setup right (I've launched with a tx battery that died mid flight, lowered tx antenna, and trim horribly misaligned).

However, after reading your post I decided to check a couple things I thought worth sharing...
  • Feb 8, 2010 - Date of my First Flight (caught the first one on video made one more around 2 minutes long), flight conditions were great 5 mph winds.
  • Feb 18, 2010 - Day I got my plane (after dark so I couldn't fly, Mike wouldn't let me have one on the 8th cause he was taking all his kits to an RC show in Washington, plus I didn't have a transmitter).
  • Feb 19, 2010 - First flight of my plane no supervision or training (broke a couple props that day figuring out my radios red light indicator meant that the battery was low not OK. green light=good, red light=bad
  • Have flown two 1000 Ma batteries down 1-2 times each day since then (no flying on sunday)
  • Feb 23, 2010 - Flew in MAJOR wind, 6-7 take off's and landings in this wind with 3-4 minute flights and only one hard landing, I forgot to raise my antenna and the servos went screwy when the plane was 150 feet off
    Flying my SlowBipe BiPlane RC Trainer in hard winds (1 min 26 sec)
  • If I do the math I have max 120 minutes of total flight time (4 days * 30 minutes) before my son shot the video of me in what appears to me as pretty ugly wind.
With all that there's either something special about this plane, I'm a complete Prodigy, or maybe a little of both... I can tell you I'm NOT the prodigy type, at mid forties and definately slowing down, though maybe all those years of anticipation rubbed off some.

Either way thanks for your thoughts I'm sure having a fun time in this new (to me) sport. In the long run having a GREAT initial experience may wind up being lots more expensive than an initial "crash and burn". Now I'm probably hooked! . Ah well it's just money right?

I REALLY can't wait to put the transmitter in my kids hands. I guess with that we'll see quickly if it's me or the plane. I'll have to shoot some video and post it.

Feb 25, 2010, 07:36 PM
Registered User
One thing I forgot to add about the windy day flight was that in that wind I was at about 75% on the throttle (battery burns much faster when I do that) just to keep up with the wind.

Usually when I'm flying even loops and stuff I'm around 30% throttle. If I go to 100%, which I frequently do , I usually have it pointed skyward and fly it to what appears like 400-500 feet before totally cutting the enging and forcing it over to nose dive to 60 feet or so.

You're really right though about mixing the rudder direction, I still get turned around when the nose of the plane is facing me. Over half the time when its flying that way I throttle back and turn slow so I can correct when I do it wrong.

I'm out of town at the moment but this weekend I'll shoot some more video flying loops, stalls, and climbs and use my laser range finder to see how high I can get it skyward.
Feb 26, 2010, 03:11 AM
Registered User
good post

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