Welcome To RC Flying! [A Beginners Guide]
I am a beginner just like you, and I would like to share my experiences so that you can get in the air quickly and without wasting your time and money. First you should know that this community here at RCGroups is a great one (on average) If you have any questions don't be shy, throw up your question and there will be several individuals with the knowledge that can help you!
Please note that if you use this guide and cause damage to property other humans and or mammals alike you do so at your own risk and all information posted here should be used under your best judgment, remember to fly safe!
This hobby is a fun one and one of the fastest ways to kill fun is an injury or damage to others, or your own, property. There are a few safety guidelines that keep us all safe!
A. Fly over underpopulated areas, A quick search on youtube will reveal hundreds of videos of people flying over densely populated areas, This is extremely dangerous if anything were to happen to the plane, RX/TX communication loss, stripped servo, video up-link failure, and hundreds of other smaller problems the odds are that plane would fall onto something of value, and that brings a bad name to all of us RC pilots! Find a nice field that is not being used and fly there!
B. Fly in control. Sounds like a stupid one, but only fly in conditions that you are positive you can control your plane, If its too windy stay on the ground and find something better to do. If you are just getting started and sometimes have trouble remembering which way your control surfaces invert as your plane flys to, and or away, from you flying in wind is a bad idea. It will probably end with your plane damaged and you in a foul mood.
C. Fly smart, get some education and try to learn from others mistakes. Make sure that you understand some of the key principals of flight and physics, some understanding of electronic devices, and a understanding of others mistakes can help you immensely! A list that is more expansive than the scope of this article can be found here at RCGroups, several people have made these mistakes and crashed their plane, try not to do the same! Six Keys To Success : https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355208
Just because I am paranoid: The above guidelines are presented as a non exhaustive list and do not cover all the possible problems that can occur while flying and should not be used as an exhaustive list! Always fly in compliance with your countries / states / counties regulations!
2. Picking A Plane:
The plane is the second most important part in RC Flight! This first is by far the pilot, having a good plane and flying in the right conditions helps in leaps and bounds also! So the first big choice to make is if your building your plane from plans / scratch or if you are purchasing a RTF / Some assembly required plane. Usually a plane from scratch can be fixed for less than those of their RTF brothers but require more time from you as your building the part yourself. This is a good thing as foam is usually cheap and you can build an entire new plane in the cost of a single replacement part from your local hobby shop. A scratch built plane is going to require you to purchase your own transmitter, this can be good or bad but take a look at section 3 for that list. A RTF plane usually is close to being ready to fly, plug in the battery to charge and attach the wings and your done. Most come with a complete kit with everything you need, charger, battery, transmitter and the plane with all its internal components. If you are still undecided just read both of the subsections and hopefully your indecision will be fixed!
2.1 Ready To Fly Planes:
A. Hobby Zone Champ:
A slow, that's a good thing, Trainer that almost flys itself, Perfect for teaching yourself how to fly! It comes from Hobby Zone so your local hobby shop should have some replacement parts for it. It is capable of clipping along at a relatively quick rate and has the power to complete some rolls, takes the wind well for a aircraft of its size, but lands easily and is controllable in slower flight speeds. It comes with a DSM2 RX meaning that if you were to eventually purchase a DXi6 or DX7 controller from spektrum it would bind with this plane perfectly. More on this in section 3.
Here are reviews for the Champ:
RCGroups - https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show....php?t=1252858
RC Universe - http://www.rcuniverse.com/magazine/a...rticle_id=1252
B. E-Flite Apprentice 15e:
This plane is larger than the champ by almost double and has the power to keep up, this larger plane still is capable of doing some basic 3D acrobatics when you get to that level and is made out of durable foam so unless it gets planted full speed into the ground it will live to fly another day. This larger plane is ready to fly with just a few things to take out of the package and clip together. One of the better pieces that come with this plane is the DX5e transmitter, it has that large remote feel to it with the functions required for a starting pilot, It doesn't have all the fancy bells and whistles but its more than you need to get started and have a blast!
Here are the reviews of the Apprentice:
RC Groups - https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=915223
RC Universe - http://www.rcuniverse.com/magazine/a...rticle_id=1041
Here is the Discussion of the Apprentice:
RC Groups [discussion] - https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=864901
C. Hobbico NexStar Mini EP:
This plane is a predictable and stable trainer, It wont do anything sudden without your permission and has the ability to turn up the trows from the servos and do some basic 3D, This is a stable platform that tends to not spin allowing you to focus on flying where you want not where the plane wants.
Here are the reviews for the NexStar Mini EP:
RC Groups - https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show....php?t=1178468
RC Universe - http://www.rcuniverse.com/magazine/a...rticle_id=1166
2.1 Scratch Built / Kit Planes:
A. EzFly Trainer :
This is a foam trainer that is easy to build and durable, This is the plane that I personally built and it has nearly the same handling characteristics as most of the trainers above, being stable but quite maneuverable and having the ability to take a few hits is a plus. You can get the plans for free, or purchase a kit of pre cut foam from Motorhead (the owner of fancy foam) from here:
The Plans: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show....php?t=1174874
The FancyFoam Precut: http://www.fancyfoam.com/index.php?m...ex&cPath=12_14
B. RC Flight Test - Slow Trainer:
This is a simple to build stable and easily repairable plane, the main perk with this plane is there is a complete set of build logs that will allow you to build and watch as one is built at the same time! If you unsure of the way to build your EzFly this is an alternative!
You can get the build logs and plans as well as parts listing from here: http://rctestflight.webs.com/slowtrainer.htm
Depending on your budget and willingness to continue in the hobby there are a few choices for good transmitters, and it really depends on what you want to do with the hobby. If you want to go into FPV flying you should ask over in their form about what kind of radio you should get, generally the newer 2.4ghz radios dont play well with the video transmitters this is outside of the scope of this article and if you have further questions please direct them here: https://www.rcgroups.com/video-piloting-fpv-rpv-469/
Anyway there are 2 main competitors in radio today, spektrum and futaba there are some off-brands and there are some competitive deals but they come and go, and as they say, you get what you pay for. I am going to break this down into 2 categories for each, one being the low end something that you should look at if your testing the waters of this hobby and dont know if you want a controller to grow into, or your budget is strictly limited. The second group will allow for some growth and will be capable of more advanced functions.
A. Touching the waters, how cold are they?:
The futaba 4YF is the entry level 2.4ghz frequency hopping transmitter, it will fly most starting planes and allow for some growth, you will note that it does not support some of the more complicated features that you might want later in your flying career. For full technical specficaions you can check out futaba's main site here: http://www.futaba-rc.com/systems/futk4200.html
The Spektrum DX5e is the entry level 2.4ghz frequency hopping transmitter from Spektrum! Much like the futaba it allows for some growth but you get limited as you get more than one plane, as the trims are not digital for full technical specifications you can check out spektrums website here: http://www.spektrumrc.com/Products/D...ProdId=SPM5510
A Review Of The DX5e - https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=947709
B. Your positive you will be doing this for awhile!:
The futaba 7C is a good place to grow into, it has everything you need to fly almost anything, enough channels for most planes there are few exceptions but there are workarounds to this (usually) if you know your going to in this hobby and flying with different planes this is a good transmitter for you, you can see all of futaba's technical specifications here: http://www.futaba-rc.com/systems/futk7000.html
A Review on the 7C 2.4ghz - https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=709587
The spektrum dx7 is another alternative to grow into, much like the futaba it has full digital trims and has 7 channels, This transmitter will allow for growth and wont let you down. It has 10 more models that it can hold in memory than the futaba 7c. For full specifications take a look at spektrum's website here: http://www.spektrumrc.com/Products/D...ProdId=SPM2710
A Review on the DX7 - http://www.rcuniverse.com/magazine/a...article_id=856
4. Some Final Thoughts:
Many intro welcome informative posts leave out some of the most critical and frustrating things! I am going to break down a few problems I ran into and concerns that I have noted from other individuals.
These are key, even if you have a RTF plane you are going to want a good screwdriver, the worst thing you can do is strip your crews by using cheap tools and a bad screwdriver. If your plane uses any specific tools like an Allen wrench getting the proper size so you dont strip them is helpful and keeps your frustration down.
Also in the realm of tools a soldering iron is a key component, its not something that required if you have a RTF plane but eventually, if you keep in the hobby you will need to solder battery connectors or servo wires together. Knowing how to do this and having the tool is a good thing.
B. Parts and Who to buy from!
The key here is, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, and you always get what you pay for. Now there are exceptions to this but also remember that low sample rates lead to inconstant data.
Mainly what I am saying here is that if you purchase cheap parts, odds are they are going to be cheap, they still might perfectly work for your application, but dont go buying the cheapest thing you can find and expect it to compare to the more expensive and higher quality brands.
Also watch orders when you need shipping from international warehouses, these usually take a while and although very rare your package can get lost or damaged, this is mainly due to the fact that its going around 1/2 the world or more to get to you. Just keep that in mind!
C. Double Check Everything!
My biggest problem was that I left a few simple parts out, Like my battery connector between my ESC and my Battery, these little things can keep you grounded and waiting for parts to come through the mail, so just make sure that you have everything you need.
5. A Thank You To RCGroups:
Without this forums help I would have never gotten airborne and I hope the best of luck to you!
I would also like to note that this is NOT the only way to get started in this hobby, this is just how I started! Look around and get a grip on exactly what YOU want, thats what this hobby is! It wont be fun if its not what you want to do. Keep that in mind and have a great time!
blackboots1337 You are very welcomed to the board, and seeing you are new, and already giving back, you are going to make a perfect fit here!
I can tell, it's not going to be long before I'll see some build logs from you, doing all sorts of cool stuff, and keeping in mind the guys new to this, to help them along their journey, just awesome!
This is an excellent writeup and contains solid advice for starting out, but so have all the other countless threads like it. It's pretty uncommon for these all-in-one beginner training threads to last longer than a few replies at most, and then they drop off the face of the earth, which is sad considering the amount of work that well-meaning folks like you put into them.
The problem, I think, is that beginners will tend to start a new thread to ask their question(s) rather than reading through one of these guides. Why scan through and digest all this information when they can just type up two sentences and have ten replies within the hour? When they have another question, they'll usually post it in that thread or just start a new one.
I could be wrong.
Nice write up, blackboots1337. I'm new to this hobby and been having a blast. One thing I would suggest adding to your list for beginners to join a club or make friends with other pilots at the flying field. I have learned so much and avoided disasters by joining a club. These guys have looked over planes before first flights, spotted/co-piloted for me, given me flying tips, and much more.
I would also add to spend some time on a simulator. No, its not the same as flying at the field, but its a great way to learn how to maneuver the plane and reduce crashes due to "dumb thumbs".
This following is my personal opinion. I would not get the DX5e if I could go back. I would get a computer radio as my first TX. The reason is that the DX5e doesnt not have expo. Although it does have low rates, it is still wayyyy to sensitive and had been a challenge to fly my planes. I had a chance to use a friends DX7 and what a night-and-day difference. Not to mention that computer radios had built in timers, mixing, model memory, etc. I'd like to learn to land with flaps, but I'm limited because all my planes have retracts.
Last edited by AJ5000; Sep 25, 2011 at 01:02 AM. Reason: added model memory!
The DX5e is in there because its cost, I was trying to convey a 2 option approach, allowing those with a little extra money to be able to purchase a TX with growth room, and those without a transmitter that would allow them to see if the hobby is for them.
Hopfully this thread will not get lost (although it probably will) and It saddens me to find that people would rather just post a question than attempt to find it themselves, That is the wrong mindset for working through life (in my humble personal opinion). If an individual doesnt have enough want to do a little research, I think they are getting into the wrong hobby.
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