Jun 04, 2003, 07:09 PM
Who Says Penguins Can't Fly?
aeropenguin's Avatar

The ULTIMATE SS help thread! First-Time-flyer must-read!

Hello! I do not have the fingers to count the number of people who have asked about the GWS Slow Stick, and what to buy, and how, and why, etc. So, one day, I typed this up, and later thought it deserved a thread of it's own. I know it is long - but for those considering buying their first airplane, PLEASE read this! Do *yourself* a favor. And now, site back, and read on! Everything here is my advise, and I am not promising it will work for you. It worked for me, and I am passing down the knowledge.

I say that if you buy a radio, none of them better AND cheaper than a Hitec Flash 5X. First of all, it's got loads of features, and you can get one here on the ezone from somebody for about $65 or less. I got mine in an extremely good deal for $30, but that's the cheapest that one has ever sold in history. That just says that if you look long and hard, you'll find a good deal too. A few places to look are at ebay, here on the ezone, on www.RCUniverse.com , and a any other RC chat site.

I recommend buying something like a Hitec Flash 4X, 5X, or Futaba 6XAS Super, or a Hitec 7 channel (forgot the name, there's only one), or Futaba 9C is you want a crazy cool radio that professional flyers use, or, if you are filthy rich, go with the Airtronics 10X, 10 channel transmitter, for about $1,200, which is what the pros of the pros use.
Just get a Hitec Flash 5X Ya won't be disappointed.

There are many radios out there, and all have their pluses and minuses. I see a lot of people using GWS transmitters, but in my opinion, anyone who is serious about the hobby will crave a better one soon. They are very cheap. Futaba and JR also make a lot of good transmitters, but I am not familiar with them. Any GWS transmitter... Well, I really recommend against it. I've heard a lot of bad things about it, and if something is that cheap, I'd be weary anyway. You get what you pay for...

Flight packs....
Any RC airplane gear can "fit" on a SS! There really aren't any guidelines!
Okay, well, you see, there is never the flight pack that is perfect for your exact model and needs. Period! Here is what I, personally, myself, recommend, and it'll all have to be bought separately (maybe at the same store or URL, but added to the cart separately). There are many, many other good items out there, and they might even be better than these, but the following are the best I've heard of, and I can recommend them myself from either seeing them in use or using them myself.

Buy the kit, for $30. That is the "official" price, so don't buy one for $50 - keep looking...

The GWS R4P 4 channel receiver is a good one, although some say that it is not as "trusty" as others. The range is far more limited...It is, again, one of the cheapest ones available. Perfectly fine for those who prefer to save... or will fly close in and not too high or too far away. Hitec 555: very long range, and is very well known for it's trusty-ness. I haven't heard of anybody losing range with this receiver - SUPER long range! Over a mile! OR, even better in my opinion - it's cheaper, lighter, smaller, and even more reliable, the Berg 5DSP. Make sure you get the kind with the servo pins coming from the side – trust me, this is much better. I really wish mine was that way. I'd say just get one. Most will NOT regret it! If you've got some green you're not afraid of spending, go ahead and get one of the Azarr antennas – they are a lot shorter than any regular Rx antenna, and they'll give you a *lot* less hassle - furthermore, if you'll be using the same receiver in multiple planes, re-attaching and re-routing the antenna would become un-necessary. You'll have to search around for either - best idea is to as here on the zone.

Awesome thread for retailer links:

Hitec HS-55's are good if you do not plan on doing anything crazy(such as long dives or a motor upgrade), and if you like doing long power dives and pulling out super fast or want to upgrade the motor, go with the Hitec HS-81. Both are great matches for the SS. As before, there are hundreds of good servos out there, but these seem to be the most popular. Also, the GWS pico micro BB servo is nice too - probably better than the 55's in that their gears do not strip nearly as often. Hasn't been a problem though - I've never stripped a servo in my SS. Anything works, and no modifications are usually needed to mount bigger servos, if you've got any lying around anyway.

ESC: I highly recommend getting one that you'll use for most of your other models, so it has to be able to handle a lot of amps - or at least the most you think you'll need in the near future. I highly recommend Castle Creations ESC's - www.castlecreations.com get either a Pixie 20 or Sprite 35, depending on the max that you think you'll ever need in the near future. I own a Sprite 25. Also, if not, then the GWS ESC's are a *lot* cheaper, and probably just as reliable as well. But, forget about any second chance.

There are a lot of choices here!
I say that if you want ~45 min. flight times and have a Lithium Polymer charger, but are willing to sacrifice some power, a 2s E-Tec 1200mAh, 7.2V, ~2oz pack would fit the bill perfectly.
OR, if you want more power and smaller flight times, or do not want to buy another (or more expensive) charger, get a KAN-1050, ~6oz, 8-cell pack. It is quite cheap and is considered among the best parkflyer batteries! And, The Kans are very versatile – I plan to use it in many planes. As always, this plane can haul up almost any battery. I'd say that anything approximately anything that weighs from 10 ounces down, has between 7.2 and 9.6V, and 500mAh or higher, will be fine in the slow stick.

This is an area where a lot of variety is available, and everybody has his or her preferences. The main thing to look for in a charger is the maximum amount of cells it will charge, and if it will peak charge. Peaking is when it does not charge for ever until you take the pack off, not on a timer so that it will always charge for, say, 2 hours (timer charger), but it sees how much juice is in the pack, and then just adds on how much is necessary to fill it up to the top without spilling over (no, not literally ). This is called a peak charger. Lithium polymer (known as lipoly or lipo) batteries are growing in technology at a giant rate, because they are a *lot* lighter, and have a lot more voltage - 3.6 volts per cell. Get this: three nicad or Ni-mh cells have the approximate power of one lipo cell, but that one lipo would have about double the mAh for the same weight as maybe 2 of those cells. So, for extremely lightweight or small planes, li-polies are the only way to go. The only minus here is - they cannot take much current. The latest cells on the market are called E-Tec's and they take more amps for their size than any available cell that I know of. For the Slow Stick, an E-Tec 1200mAh 2s pack is extraordinary. It weighs about 2 ounces (as a pose to 8 with nicads or Ni'Mh's, yields about 45min run times (As a pose to 10m), and even makes the plane more nimble and a bigger joy to fly because it weighs less... Anyway, if you plan on using Li-poly cells in the near future, get a charger that can accommodate them as well - I own the Maha C777 PLUS which charges anything you will ever think of. If you'd like to only charge nicads or Ni'mh's, then I do not really see a point in buckling down giant money for a good charger - the Hitec CG-340 does everything you'll need, for a very, very good price. ServoCity sells them at the lowest price - $35 shipped. Check out a few other Hitec chargers, and see which you like best. Again, every dollar you spend will be very worth it in the long run. A few high-end GWS chargers are good too, I would look into that as well.

Crystal? Frequency?
Yes, you have to get the exact one necessary for each transmitter, and the channel of the transmitter and receiver crystal needs to match. Ex a ch29 tx Xtal (crystal) goes with a ch29 rx Xtal. You see? For the Hitec Flash 5X, you'll need a Hitec dual conversion transmitter crystal, whatever channel you choose, and for the 555 as an example, you'll need a Hitec dual conversion receiver crystal to match the channel # of the tx.
All transmitters come with a crystal installed, so just choose the channel # on your transmitter, and use it for ever after, on every other receiver. All crystal #'s are equal; none are better or have better range. OH, and DO NOT buy a radio or receiver or anything on ch. 20, +/- 3, since I've heard it interferes with the television ch4 or something else similar. Ch20 is banned at my flying site...

Oh Man, this is a really hard question. For general building, you'll need one hell of a lot of tools! For the Slow Stick, I'd recommend the:
Wire cutters (small, the cheapest avail. will do just fine)
Pliers (same as wire cutters)
A screw driver (you should have a good set anyway)
A larger cutting knife (at the local hardware store, tell them you want a black utility knife; this is cheap, the best, and they'll know what you mean)
VELCRO, that's a biggie. Make sure it says "industrial strength". This is better, and a lot stronger. If you cannot find anywhere, anything will do, really...
Deans Ultra connectors (overkill, but trust me, wait till your friend is flying with Tamiya style, and midair, everything turns off and he crashes for good- I am serious, I hear of this happening often, an even had it happen to me ). But, as always, anything will do.
Soldering iron (30 watt will do, anything - even that $2 iron will work great) and heat shrink wire tubing...
An Ex-Acto N.11-blade knife. Make sure that the blade can be taken out and replaced. Go ahead and buy that replacement set.
Last edited by aeropenguin; Aug 12, 2003 at 12:31 PM.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Jun 04, 2003, 07:09 PM
Who Says Penguins Can't Fly?
aeropenguin's Avatar


Glues? You can practically get away with none of these at all, but you'll quickly find you're glad you bought them. They will drain like a faucet on your next balsa ship.
Thin CA
Thick CA (both should be odorless foam safe CA). Even though these might not be extremely useful for this plane, I assure you you'll use them a lot in most other planes. In balsa planes, I usually drain a bottle of each per model .
5min epoxy
20min epoxy (I recommend buying modeling epoxy, it does not shatter, stronger, etc, such as Great Planes pro epoxy, although that is not a necessity).
De-bonder (a small bottle will do - again, not necessary, but you it's nice to have around when you get your fingers glued together (And yes, I've done that too ).
Accelerator (for when the CA is not drying for some weird reason, but you can do without this and the above. This is just "auxiliary", but very much not needed. I keep some around because usually I am impatient. If you are planning on building a balsa plane next, definitely get it. I lived without accelerator for a while, but once I got some, it became the biggest necessity ever.
You probably already have a lot of the above, so you won't have to worry about that.

"How much will everything cost me?" This will vary depending on what products you will choose, but I'd say that if you stick with fairly good equipment, $250- $400. Trust me, that is not too bad - some planes alone - just the airframe, cost $2K. Some transmitters cost $1.2K. So, gulp it down, don't show your wife, save up a week or two, and get it over with!
Oh, and the transmitter, ESC and receiver, battery, and charger can be used in most of your other planes too, so this is just a one-time thing. If you buy another completely set up SS, it would cost you around $80-100, depending on servos, and a few other little things...

"Now I am returning to this thread, a SS veteran. I'm bored - what do I do!!!???"
Put on a bigger motor, and go have some more fun! This plane can get quite aerobatic! Out of ideas? Look here: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...729#post924729
It can carry a fairly large payload.

"Somebody told me about motor timing...what's that?"
In a nutshell, timing a motor is turning the end-bell for maximum performance...I am not a timing wizard, so don't ask me questions about it. But, I'd stick to this documentary for your first (or every!) try. I do not think that timing is necessary for the SS, but if you'd like to do it, go ahead! try...

"Yippee! I've finally got my SS and built it! What's the average SS weight without any onboard cameras or heavy lights, etc?"
I'd say anywhere from 11-13oz is fine without a battery. With KAN's, you should expect around 19oz, Lithium Polymer cells, around 14oz, depending on which ones are used, and which modifications to the airframe are done. Do not sweat it if your SS weighs in at a bit more - the SS can still fly great and climb marginally up until 25oz.

"The Wings ripped in flight (that is called folding)!!! How can I reinforce it?"

"What modifications do *you* recommend?"
Here's my list of modification MUSTS, that I chose and that I think are necessary for a "perfect" plane. It'll be too good stock, but it'll blind you with all these mods!
MUST mods!!:
1. screw on the motor, *don't* use glue. The best way I've found is to have a long M-3 metric screw or something similar in standard go all the way through from one side to the other, and a nut at the end. that way, you don't have to worry about wood screws coming loose, and there is only one to worry about.
2. on the dihedral joint/aluminum bent tube into which the fiberglass rods slip into, replace it with a much heavier material. Everybody who I've ever talked to used brass, which is approx. twice the strength, but, while I was at it, I might as well use stainless steal, so I did. Also, which you're at it, you might as well make it a little longer than the stock aluminum part.
3. use epoxy, thoroughly, to glue the fiberglass and brass/aluminum/stainless) stiffeners onto the LE and TE of the wings. That tape isn't good enough.
3. substitute ALL tape provided with your own, ultra strength packaging tape. The GWS stuff is really bad!!
4. on the tail feathers, it tells you to either double-sided-tape them on, or screw them on. Do both, but instead of double sided tape, use epoxy. Well worth it, and one of the most important mods.
5. use Velcro - not some junk, but look for "industrial strength" Velcro. This stuff is better. Use it to secure things in place, such as the reciever, ESC, etc. Since I placed my reciever on the bottoms of the servos, I needed more velcro to both hold it on, and for a strap that goes around it for reinforcement.
6. use a prop saver - https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...&postid=153984. 1206, whatever If your plane weighs more than around 16oz, then I highly recommend the upgrade prop. Warning: you'll get spolied. Bought some more 11x4.7 props, and couldn't fly, but did before I had ever tried the prop upgrade

Still-very-worth-it mods:
7. Fill in the holes in your gearbox that are right under the motor with epoxy. This will save you a box or two!!! Also, on the propeller, add epoxy where the blades meet the hub – this is the weakest spot, where they usually break.
8. add about 3-4* right and down thrust differential. That means that from straight and level, the motor should point 3* or 4* down, and 3 or 4* to the right. This might sound ridiculous, as it did to me, but a lot of planes have this to correct out the motor torque spinning it to the left.
8. Use the 12x6 prop! 1206, whatever If your plane weighs more than around 16oz, then I highly recommend the upgrade prop. Warning: you'll get spolied. Bought some more 11x4.7 props, and couldn't fly, but did before I had ever tried the prop upgrade

9. place a steal wire or thick string in between the main wheels from keeping them from sliding apart on landings, and replace the tailwheel wire with some stronger material. I see some very heavily upgraded planes that weigh about 40oz or so, and their entire weight in the back area is nesting on the poor elevator, because that little wire cannot hold anything!
10. replace the wheels with something sturdier or prettier (or both ). The most popular ones for the SS are the "parkflier wheels" sold at www.aircraft-world.com .
>AND<, there you have it! My top ten mods list!!! If I were you I would not even consider thinking about not thinking about not doing these ten awesome mods!!!

"Will I need a flight simulator?"
Well, some swear by sims, and some hate them. I think that you should not pay for a sim. They are not very realistic and do not fly like in real life, although they help with other things such as orientation and that when going inverted towards you, left makes the plane go right, and even more importantly, up makes the plane to down during inverted flight . The most I'd do is download the free one: http://n.ethz.ch/student/mmoeller/fms/index_e.html , get used to it for about 4 hours, and I'd say that it won't help you much after that. That's enough - you'll fly fine! I haven't even downloaded that! Plus, isn't it more fun leaning in real life?

When people say that when you fly for the first time, fly with someone experienced helping you, *they mean it*!!! If you have to drive 50 miles to see your friend who is good at flying, do it! It will take a long time to find out by experimenting what he can tell you in 10 minutes. Also, if you can, take a video of yourself flying, then watch it so that you can look at yourself like a spectator, and criticize yourself. This is especially important when you begin aerobatics, whether it's with the SS or not.

"Can you tell me just a few words of what to be thinking about right before the first flight ever?"
Yeah, sure. Here are the main points....
For the first flight, don't go for a time record. Just bring it up, do what you have to keep it up for about 20 seconds, and bring it down. THEN correct it (expect a bit of right and down if mod. No. 8 wasn't done.
Stay far away from trees
Fly only in NO wind for the first few flights - this is usually in the early morning and around sunset. If visibility is low, wait. If the dew is on the grass, wait.
Give it VERY little control movement; it'll be enough.
If you have ATV (adjustable travel volume) on your radio, move it down so that you have only about 70% rudder and 70% elevator. That'll be enough. Again, trust me. Also, I find it very, very useful before all flights after not flying for a while to just close my eyes, and while holding the transmitter, pretend the plane is on the ground and I wiggle the sticks and pretend I am flying. I give myself a lot of hard situations to make it harder...I did about 5 2-minute "flights" before my first, and I really think they helped. It is a lot cheaper, easier, and quicker than a flight sim, too! Well, a flight sim is exactly that - it visualizes and tries to estimate where the plane would be just with a screen showing it to you.

Print out the two final checklists near the end of the above thread. If your SS checks out against the pre-first-flight checklist, then you are ready to go! GOOD LUCK! Before every day of flying, check against the pre-not-first-flight checklist. I hope you enjoy flying, and I hope that your crashes are minimal and fun is at the max!

Hope This Helps!
Last edited by aeropenguin; Aug 13, 2003 at 11:55 PM.
Jun 04, 2003, 10:11 PM
Rehab is for quitters
LuckyArmpit's Avatar
A slow stick is a very good 1st plane. But, me thinks the T-52 from JK Aerotech is much better. Why? Much more durable. You can fly it when the wind will ground the slow stick. Did I mention durable? T-52 can be retro-fitted once you get bored with it (add mag mayhem reverse motor, 3 to 1 gearbox, 12x8 folding prop,
take out the dihedral of the wing and convert it to aileron control).
Wah-hoo!!!!! Mucho fun!!!! PLus, you learn how to fly ailerons!
Oh yeah, durable too!!!! I would have went through a dozen slow sticks when I learned. My T-52 is retired except for the wing.
It is used on a T-44 Xtra (05 powered). BTW, T-52 kits sell for $35 from JK Aerotech.

Jun 05, 2003, 11:27 AM
Smooth Air
Morb's Avatar
Great post Aero!
Jun 05, 2003, 03:06 PM
Registered User
The links don't work in the post.
Jun 05, 2003, 04:47 PM
Registered User
Great to see your post after we maidened SS #2 on Monday night. Has the 555 Rcvr, Hs 55 servos, Pixie ESC and E-Tech 1200’s . The reduction in weight (AUW is 10.8 oz) offsets any loss in power compared to 7 cell Nicads. This setup is great. Plane is much more agile and nothing but FUN. Flew over half an hour on one battery (forgot to actually time it) and still had power left. The low voltage cutoff on the ESC cut in at about 25 minutes and we landed just to check everything out. We still had ¾ throttle available and since most of the flying had been done at ½ throttle, I tossed it out again and Tom took it up to 150’ at the reduced throttle setting. I couldn’t see any significant difference in the climb over WOT. We finally quit flying as it was getting too dark to see. Battery still had 7.07 volts in it the next morning.
I intend to offer this bird to club members that don’t have anything suitable to show newbies and to use it as a trainer. I know from experience how much punishment a slow stick can take. I am also converting #1 to the E-Tech 1200’s and will probably retire my T52 for a couple of reasons as soon as I decide on a suitable replacement.
Jun 05, 2003, 06:07 PM
Who Says Penguins Can't Fly?
aeropenguin's Avatar
Lucky, thanks, but this is not the thread for that. This is a thread of what to do to get started ****with a SS***, in MY opinion.
Thanks Morb!

Mr. Speed, thank you very much for pointing that out to me. Shame on me! I edited all links and went over them twice to check. If anyone could tell me if they all work now, I'd be very grateful.

Defranci: as far as on-board equipment (not taking about the charger, transmitter, etc) I'd say that is THE best combo one can have on their SS. WEll, maybe a Berg reciever would benefit, but that doesn't make that much a difference.
10.8oz AUP is really amazing! Mine, with a few heavy mods, and an 8 cell KAN pack is around 16oz... but it still flies like a dream! I too lend it out to anybody who is serious about RC airplanes...it has gotten two of my friends hooked...SO FAR!

Thanks all, glad I could help!

ALSO, please check - I added in another section to PART II.

Jun 06, 2003, 05:53 AM
Registered User
fixwingagain's Avatar

Nice to see all that info together.
Jun 06, 2003, 06:10 AM
Registered User
Terrific post Aero. Should save a lot of everything you mention.

This should be a Sticky.

Jun 06, 2003, 10:21 PM
Who Says Penguins Can't Fly?
aeropenguin's Avatar
thanks guys, I am really glad that some peole appreciate help!

Last edited by aeropenguin; Jun 08, 2003 at 12:01 AM.
Jun 07, 2003, 07:06 AM
Registered User
Nothing causes more debate more than a "what should me first plane be" thread.
Jun 07, 2003, 04:00 PM
Registered User
goofup's Avatar
It took a while, but the glow guys settled years ago on the “4- channel, 40-size trainer” as The Standard Trainer. Period. There may be different manufacturers, but if you pull the decals off, you couldn’t tell these planes apart- they all pretty much look, cost, and fly the same. (You’ll never hear them recommend a little 2- channel, .049 Lanier Indicator trainer to a newbie who “wants to try RC out”, “only has $120 to spend”, or is looking for an “cheap, indestructible trainer”.)

Over the last year I noticed that the Slow Stick has become THE most recommended plane for beginners to start out with. Hopefully, in time, it will become our version The Standard Trainer for those getting into electrics. Period.

Aeropenguin, you have put together a excellent post! Congratulations.

Beginners: here it is- in black and white. Here is what plane to get, what standardized components to use that are readily available (and that can be easily transferred to your “next“ plane), realistic costs, “necessary” mods, and excellent first flight tips.
Jun 07, 2003, 07:41 PM
Registered User
You will need 5 extra props to start with, even with a prop saver.
Jun 07, 2003, 11:55 PM
Who Says Penguins Can't Fly?
aeropenguin's Avatar
thanks the both of you...
somehow people got pissed off at nothing in the post over at the park flier forum, and things are going nice and thankful here.
goofup, I read your page for newbies - I really liked it, although I wasn't a "newbie" err....well..maybe I still am anyway, it was actually the partial inspiration for this...
I am glad that folks appreciate my efforts to eliminate many problems, time, money, and broken hearts for those starting off. I feel that once you are started, you can learn and expl\and knowledge, and in time, find out of new and different manufacturers too, and become a great, professional level pilot - BUT, without any guidance at all - even from the internet or folks or the LHS, you'll never get anywhere. Anybody who has been on the home page of RCGruops has already learned a lot - about thermals (there are forums called thermal talk in the glider forums), all kinds of sizes of crafts are available, the fact that turbines are used, and much more stuff than you can think of.

THEN, those lucky enough to read my thread are already on a fine start with lots to think about and toss around...


P.S. I have edited the first two threads to cover more material and be a bit more general - I am not saying, "use a 555 reciever only, that's it, period." It changed it to more of "there are many recievers you can use, and one of the most popular ones is the 555, akthough almost any one will work great".
Jun 08, 2003, 06:44 AM
Registered User
I have edited the first two threads to cover more material and be a bit more general - I am not saying, "use a 555 reciever only, that's it, period." It changed it to more of "there are many recievers you can use, and one of the most popular ones is the 555, akthough almost any one will work great".
Indeed. One of the fun things about this hobby is the research.
For my slowstick I chose a GWS flight pack with a 600mah battery and a hitec focus 3 fm radio. Total cost was less than $140. I bought the radio on ebay in like new condition. I was looking for "affordable excellence"

The reason I went with mostly GWs gear is that I knew all components would have the same connectors and were made for each other. Can you mix and match from different manufacturers ? Sure thing.

aeropenguin suggestions are a great idea. At this time I wish I had a radio with dual rates and expo and could hook it upp to my simulator.

Oh ....my charger. A wattage PF12. I like it since it can be used from the car or home since it's AC/DC input.

I also have a 2s/2p set of kokam 1020's.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The Ultimate Slow Stick Help Thread - Part 6 Ron H Beginner Training Area (Aircraft-Electric) 544 Feb 16, 2005 09:59 AM
The Ultimate Slow Stick Help Thread - Part 5 boomerace Beginner Training Area (Aircraft-Electric) 793 Sep 13, 2004 08:01 AM
The Ultimate Slow Stick Help Thread - Part 4 Martin Hunter Beginner Training Area (Aircraft-Electric) 824 May 31, 2004 01:00 AM
The Ultimate Slow Stick Help Thread - Part 3 Martin Hunter Beginner Training Area (Aircraft-Electric) 639 Apr 11, 2004 11:17 AM
The Ultimate Slow Stick Help Thread - Part 2 Martin Hunter Beginner Training Area (Aircraft-Electric) 565 Feb 17, 2004 10:35 AM