Blu-Baby build guide: start to finish - RC Groups
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Apr 09, 2012, 10:29 PM
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mr.michael.2468's Avatar
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Blu-Baby build guide: start to finish


hello everyone that's either in the process of or beginning a build on the most typical size of the Blu-Baby, 32in wingspan. i began my scratch build journey back in january. i really started getting into rc as a hobby in december with helicopters and soon after getting my first 6ch helicopter and swearing to never fly planes (that lasted a long time ) i started researching to find a good plane to build that would be easy to fly, durable, and easy to build. i was told that someone as young as myself and inexperienced would have a really hard time with this project, I'm here to tell all of you that are on the edge of building one of these, DO IT!!!!!! seriously, as someone that does hobbies for a hobby, i've never had more fun and self-fulfillment in any other project i've done, including making a chainsaw bike last summer, this tops even that. that being said, this guide will include the following:

1. reasons to build in the first place, introduction to scratch building

2. a big one, typical cost i'll tell you right now, you'll probably end up spending about $60-80 on the plane, i didn't own a real li-po charger before so my cost came out to more like $130, also i already owned a dx6i controller, thats another cost to factor in.

3. what i think is the most important, a detailed list of WHAT to order and WHERE to order it from, for now this will just be what kit i used, but

4. materials and building technique,what you're going to want to do, and not do

5. build process, for awhile this may just be a a very detailed how to with a few pics and a link to another build process that i looked at because i don't have the supplies or desire to build another plane at the moment.

6. some flight tips, as an update i would consider myself pretty good at flying this model and i've moved on to the km3 aileron wing which i consider alot more fun than the cambered wing.

7. modifications to the original plans, this is where some people that already have working models may want to start reading. i made A LOT of modifications to the plans to make a working, truly crash proof plane.

yes you can find the plans here: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=681556

while these are the exact foam cuts, it doesn't tell you how to put them together, what to buy for electronics, materials, and building supplies. thats where i come in
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1. reasons to build a plane in the first place

this is where people that are just thinking about build an rc plane should probably start reading. i'll try to keep it short-winded because i know how hard it is to read pages of solid text lol.

those of you that already fly rc planes especially but helicopter guys too have a little bit of an advantage over new guys for a few reasons:

-you probably have a lot of the equipment necessary to really fly a scratch built plane

-another is you're probably use to the ideas of orientation and controller layouts, this isn't something hard to learn, but it will take some serious practice if you intend on flying with the first model you build for more than 30 seconds. it may not be as critical as some people say, i never owned a simulator, or trained with a pro, and the only exposure i had to rc before i starting flying was like i said before with 6ch helicopters and going to a few local events for rc flyers.

that all being said, i don't think its possible to build a plane that fly any slower than a blu baby, so if you're going to kinda just go for it, this is you're best bet.

if you're here to just start off your career as a scratch builder, i again say go for it, actually building a plane allows you to see and problem solve around things that you never have to think about with a BNF plane. i'm planing on using the skills i've learned by building a blu baby to of course build bigger and better planes but also rig remote controls to a whole host of things.

all in all if you're going to take anything away from section 1 is that i highly recommend going with the build as long as you have the financial means to do it and also the determination to keep at it, its quite a large some of hours to put this thing together.

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2. cost

this is probably where a lot of you are going to head straight to, as you should, because if you really don't feel putting in maybe $200 to really get into this hobby and you're going to be bitter about spending so much, then simply don't do it. to put in perspective you can buy a complete kit for a very small plane called the champ for $90 ready to go. now remember that you're getting a product that was put together as cheaply as possible, has a fly weight of 1.3 oz (can't fly outside in more than like 2mph of wind) and has a brushed motor ( just take it as a bad thing, it'll be discussed more later). but if that's all you're willing to put into it, than again go for it, because you won't be happy with a real plane if you feel you spent way to much on it.

with this kit that i will lay out in the next section it's important to note a few things:
- you'll end up with a charger that you can use pretty much on any model you'll ever fly unless you get into some crazy huge stuff
-hopefully you'll choose or have a dx6i or better, which you can use to fly pretty much anything that needs 6ch, very few planes and helis have more than 6ch.
- the system you're putting into this blu baby might literally last forever (as opposed to a brushed system which i've heard can have seriously limited lives).


now the actual cost of the thing,

total comes to: $99.57 + $5 for shipping = 104.57. this is excluding a controller and including a charger. not including the charger is $59.87.


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3. parts and materials list this really kinda goes along with section 2, so bare with me as i kinda separate the two.

ordered from: http://www.hobbypartz.com/

free shipping over $50 in USA. a lot of great deals and high end parts on this site

Thunder AC6 Smart LiPo Thunder-AC6-Charger-Power 1 44.70
Balance
Charger/Discharger w/ AC

Sky Lipo 800mAh 7.4V 15C 77P-800mAh-2S1P-74-15C 1 4.67

2 Set x SG90 9g Mini RC 2x-Servo-Tpro-SG90 1 5.25

the rest was order from: headsuprc.com

they have a lot of middle ground quality stuff, perfect for this project, also they ship pretty much everything for $5 which is awesome cuz everybody hates paying more for shipping than what you actually bought right?

power up 6ch receiver 11.95

towerpro 9gram servo 4.50

hurc 2712-12 outrunner brushless motor 12.95

Emax Budget 18 Amp Brushless Motor ESC 12.95

APC 9 x 4.7SF Composite Propeller 2.60


a few notes, you really only need 2 servos at first, eventually you're probably going to want to build a wing with ailerons, so a third servo is necessary for that.

the charger i picked is really a steal, i looked long and hard to find that kinda deal, your local hobby town will charge probably closer to $100 for that guy... and just trust me, you want a nice charger.

the esc is a bit overkill, but like i said before, this system is built to last forever, and you will never burn this esc out even at max throttle with a 3s battery.

this is kinda important for those of you that already own a controller:
this receiver is just for dsm2 controllers, if you don't have a spektrum branded controller (or jsr i think)? IT WILL NOT WORK!!!!!!!!

you have to buy a receiver that is made to work with your controller! so if you use a futaba controller or whatever you have to buy a receiver to match... got it? good.

all in all, this is the complete parts list for electronics, a few things you may need for tools, and also hardware. this part dips into section 4 a bit as well, if you've read this far, you're probably going to read the whole thing anyways haha....

1/2in pink foam sheet 4x8' $10

(30inx20in dollar tree board) $1

3/16 hardwood dowel 36in $1

gorilla glue, hot glue, 5min epoxy $3-$6

music wire for control rods ~$2

bamboo skewers not really sure, there's a good chance you already have them but there probably less than $5 for a bag

packing tape $2

packing tape with fiber in it ~$3

bag of rubber bands ~$3

something to make the control horns out of, i used a left over sheet of acrylic, but i've heard people even using the plastic out of a peanut butter jar, be creative

depending on what you have laying around you're house i came out to about $24 total, but thats assuming you don't have any of this, you are going to probably have to buy the sheet of foam, this stuff is a $*%$* to get home when its windy outside or if you have a small car... may want a buddy with truck to get it home.

im experimenting with dollar tree foam at the moment, so far i like it a lot, right now its on the ailerons of my Blu baby, and i like it a lot, at some point i may recommend this foam over the pink stuff. (you dont really need foam cutting equipment if you use this stuff)

now for tools, this is a pretty important section because this is where this could get expensive fast. this is kind of a bucket list of what i can think of off the top of my head as to what i used to build it. you may have other tools in your arsenal to make this easier than i did...

-hack saw
-xacto knife
- a nice bench area to work
- preferably a power sander of some kind
-drill
-*foam cutting equipment*
-file set
-needle nose pliers

that's kind of it... again you probably don't need all of these tools, but some of them like the *foam cutting stuff* is highly recommended, I'm not sure how to do this build without them.

***** ok here's the deal with the foam cutting equipment...

if you really want to do this right, you're suppose to go out and buy a huge roll of fan-fold foam thats a 1/4in thick, perfect right? unless you're like me and didn't want to buy enough foam to make 100 blu-babies and pay like $40 for it. i decided it would be easier to just buy 1/2in thick stuff and slice it down and laminate it to get what i needed. i will detail how to build a very basic but very effective cutting and planing set up for a lot less than $40.

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4. materials

again this is going to be tied into section 3 but just go along with it and pretend with me that this is logically organized

this will also detail a bunch of nit-picky things that i specifically remember from the build that worked well, and also things that didn't work. a lot of this will probably over lap with the build guide, but this is kind of a nice intro to the build process so you're not blind going into it.

i highly recommend using the xps, extruded polystyrene, pink stuff, blue stuff, whatever you want to call it. its awesome building material, easy to work with, cut shave, carve, glue, and most importantly, REPAIR...

for your support rod through your wing, go with a nice piece of hardwood dowel. my first wing is literally the reason my first plane is in 20 pieces, the wing construction is very very very important.

glue is kind of a big discussion topic, but honestly i think hot glue is the best to work with, its cheap, quick setting, but not to quick, and rather strong. the only beef i have with it is that i burnt my fingers a lot lol. if you use gorilla glue you're going to kinda be gluing a piece and letting it sit for a day because the cure time is just that long. its much much stronger, but most likely not necessary because i've found the foam gives before the glued seems with hot glue. the 5min epoxy is also great stuff, and definitely has its places. i used it to glue the wooden block with the motor attached to the plane and its holding very nicely, hot glue didn't hold in that position...

sanding is pretty important, especially if you want all your rough cuts to look good as a final product. also some good fine sand i think any way should reduce air drag over the whole body. but you have to be careful with the foam its not a block of wood, and can't be treated as such. i used like a 60 grit for very rough sanding, usually just taking the planing cut lines out of the foam to make it look uniform. don't use the 60grit for corners or edges all you're going to do is tear and chip it. use something more like 200grit and be very careful, its kind of a feel thing, practice on some scrap pieces first.

control horns are very important, along with the control rods. if you do a good job with the rods and horns, the plane will be much more responsive, and able to act to a much greater degree of movement. one big problem i had with the rod was that it liked to flex inside the plane, this could probably be solved by just using a real control rod kit, but i actually ran the rods through small triangle pieces of foam in the corners of the fuselage to strengthen the body and also act as guides for the control rods. for the horns, drill a hole in them just large enough to fit the wire, if the hole is to big, it will create much more slop than you'd think. also place them right in front of the joint, if you put them to far back they will be ineffective.

now for plan changes...
because i didn't use fan fold i had the option to vary thickness of parts, i had problems with the tail and rudder breaking on my old plane and being rather flimsy, so i beefed them up, maybe by 130%. for the top and bottom of the fuselage, just cut them to fit nicely, i don't think the ones the plan details are a very good fit... it might be that i did a 1.5in monoblock instead of the 2in one detailed, which i thought was great to work with. also another great little addition was a battery door that got glued under the monoblock and extended to cover the battery compartment, then i ran a rubber band from the back wing anchor to a skewer piece that held the door shut. works very well. otherwise the plans work great, so just follow the rest of those.

***ok now time for foam cutting stuff***
basically foam cutters are just wires that get hot from electrical resistance. usually people use guitar wire, but i've heard of other types of wires being used. if you play guitar, use you're old e and b strings as wire or use this as an excuse to change you're strings lol, otherwise run over to guitar center and grab the cheapest bag of strings, they're like $5.

this is somewhat complex and then again not really, you're going to need some scrap wood and plywood... and some carpentry skills. i built a table that runs a wire from an overhanging boom arm down through a hole in the piece of plywood to a screw that connects to a copper wire that runs over to the side of the rig. i also made a bow saw sorta shaped one, you might be better off anchoring this to the end of your table saw styled one and having an adjustable height to it to plane pieces of 1/2in foam to whatever thickness you want as i never really used the bow saw styled one for anything but planing the foam. i made the bow saw styled cutter but cutting out a piece of wood that sorta looked like a bow saw with a handle, put a screw in each end and ran a wire between the two with copper wire running up the handle to the power source. i recommend the e string for the table saw one, and 6v of power. the gap should only be like 6in, i cant imagine cutting anything taller than that. for the bow saw one, use the b string wire and 12v of electricity, this one tended to snap with thinner wire. my cutting length was close to maybe 15in? if you go a lot shorter than that go with 6v. forgot to mention that i run all these off of dc 6v brick batteries, the cheapest ones you can find at menards.

DO NOT STICK THE WIRES IN AN AC OUTLET!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!
I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY IDIOTIC ACTIONS TAKEN BY PEOPLE FROM THESE PLANS!!!!! IF YOU DO, YOU HAVE A REALLY GOOD CHANCE OF DYING, THERES A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 6V DC AND 120V AC!!!!! OBVIOUSLY THE WIRE WILL BE REALLY HOT, DON'T TOUCH IT
!!! IN SOME CASES IT GETS RED HOT AND WILL CUT RIGHT TO THE BONE IF YOU'RE NOT CAREFUL!!!


that warning being said, i have seen some really nice ac/dc converters that people have put together to reg down the ac voltage and save themselves some money on batteries. but i figured it was more work and money to do than i'd every use in $2.50 batteries.

this will be extended later, for now i feel like it gives you a good idea of what's going on.
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5. build process

alright, this is where the fun begins, first you need to get your hardware around and your electronics ordered. you can build the plane about 60% without your electronics so if you want to compact this build into the shortest possible time that's how you do it. so first cut out all of your paper guides from the blu baby original page, i'll probably have a link too it on this page eventually. now your going to need to cut out all the pieces in 1/4in foam, whether it be fan fold, dollar tree foam, or planed down 1/2in. once you have all you foams cut out, its time to start gluing.
**note about gluing**
i've found that regular old hot glue on low temp is one of the best ways to bond foam together, foam safe ca glue may top it but it has its pros and cons and is much more costly, i'd say just go with hot glue because most people have a hot glue gun

its pretty obvious how the plane goes together, but there are a lot of little things that i had to figure out that could have been easily spelled out in the first place and thats what im here to do.

1. the wing, this is one part of the plane that is completely hardware and foam, no electronics to worry about, so its a good place to start. first grab your two reflected pieces for the wing and measure out your spar, whatever you chose to use, carbon fiber is of course preferred but wood works too. glue the two half's together down the seam between them. now find a rounded edge like a counter in your kitchen or something like that. now just take the foam piece and begin to roll it over the edge and work the camber into it nice and slow, you'll eventually have the foam completely bent 90 degrees around the bend of the counter at all parts of the wing to get it to hold the correct camber. after you have the foam cambered you can glue in the spar, take an xacto knife and run it along the lines you drew in, not all the way through the foam, just score it. then take the spar and use it to scratch out the remaining foam. this should leave a pretty good spot for you to glue in the spar. after you do that, i recommend taping the whole front edge of the wing with packing tape. packing tape dramatically strengthens foam, its quite ridiculous. this might save you a lot of heart ache during crashes.

2. now that you've got you wing done, now its onto the fuselage, or the rest of the plane

its easiest to start from the monoblock and build around that, but, all of your electronics go on the monoblock, so its easiest to have your electronics ready to go at this point. grab your motor and your piece of mounting board your going to use, typically a small piece of plywood. the hurc motor or the "blue wonder" that i used is super easy to mount and use. take off the base of it which is held in by a set screw, DONT LOOSE THE SET SCREWS! place the set screws off to the side, and take the little piece and screw it into place onto the plywood and make sure its level and straight in every direction once on the plane, remove it and glue the board in place, and attach the mount for the motor and mount the motor to the plane. now that this is set, you'll have 3 wires sticking out of the motor, i cut a slot along the monoblock to run the motor wires back to where the esc and all the other electronics will be situated. taped down my esc to the top of the monoblock and then taped the rx on top of that for easy access to the wire pins. leave room in the back of the monoblock to mount servos. you'll need to cut one more slot down to the battery compartment, you'll run the leads from the esc to the battery through this cut. i would recommend putting a small amount of glue on each of these wires to hold them in place while gluing the fuselage bodies over the top of them. now glue the fuselage body sides onto the monoblock, be careful to line this up carefully, you don't have long to position the glue when gluing larger pieces into place, so be careful to line it up closely in the first place.

- now you'll have a monoblock with the side pieces of the fuselage glued to the sides and the motor and esc installed. now you can start to put all the guts in, your rx can go wherever it will fit nicely, but put it in a position that all the pins are easily accessible for servo leads. servos will be mounted in the back of the monoblock, i simply cut out slots on each side of the monoblock and fit one about 1/2 in lower than the other to allow for the two to run without catching. face the servo arms in towards the middle of the fuselage with the bodies being glued down towards the sides of the inside of fuselage. remember to leave room behind the servos to allow play in this direction, so pack the esc and rx tight up against the front of the monoblock. i put the esc on the bottom of and just taped the rx with the pins facing the back of the plane to allow for super easy servo hook up. after this you'll just need to put in the tail, with elevator and rudder control. you just need to glue in the horizontal tail into the slot previously cut into the fuselage sides. glue in the vertical fin at the the same time.

**it may be easier to cut the control surfaces and tape them now then once the plane is completed, i waited until the plane was completed.

now that you have the plane mostly built you just need to think about the control horns and the control rods, my suggestion on control rods is definitely carbon fiber, i tried music wire ones before and had alot of problems with them flexing. go onto youtube and look up videos on how to make control horns, control rods, and how to correctly cut flaps for control surfaces, its hard to describe in words, the videos are very explanative and its really pretty easy. install your control rods and control horns, now you're ready to test and center the servos. if you are using the "power up" rx that i suggested, simply put the binding plug into the battery port of the rx and put your tx into bind mode, plug in the battery to the lead from the esc and wait for the beeping to stop, the servos should twitch and then it will be bound to whatever channel on your remote (if its computerized) that you bound it to. this is where you check to see how well you centered the control arms, if the flaps on the elevators and rudders are pulled or pushed far from center, change the direction the that the arm is facing, and if you need further changes, do it mechanically to be as close as possible to centered, if you use your trims to fix something more than a few clicks in either direction you are losing stick control in that direction, you can change the length of the rods by heating the shrink tubed parts and sliding it further up the piece of carbon fiber, the opposite goes for pushing the flap down.

now that you have your control surfaces eye-balled to center glue the top and bottom pieces of fuselage pieces on. and thats pretty much it. after that you can pretty much rubberband on the wing and take it out for a maiden flight. pictures of my model will be coming soon to help explain some things.
Last edited by mr.michael.2468; Jun 14, 2012 at 02:39 PM.
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Apr 10, 2012, 12:55 AM
Zen in the art of foam
djacob7's Avatar
A great beginning! It's like reading "Gone With the Wind" all over again LOL!
Apr 10, 2012, 01:53 AM
sir_clive's Avatar
A very nice start! I'll send a few tips for poor souls living in Europe (like me ), where the choices are much more scarce and the prices for electronics are usually 4-5 times higher if one doesn't know a few good addresses.

Also coming from a 6ch helis (what a waste of money THAT was! ), and also being one who used to jump from one hobby to another, I can only wholeheartedly agree to what you said here - it's a wonderful hobby, go for it people, you won't regret!
Latest blog entry: Wing Helper 1.3.0 Released!
Apr 30, 2012, 11:36 AM
Registered User
Kindly help me if possible i am using Emax Budget 18 Amp Brushless Motor ESC it was working fine yesterday but when i connected this today it is not arming brushless motor...not even giving any beep and only showing permanent red led on esc...

regards
Apr 30, 2012, 05:17 PM
Registered User
Try rebinding the tx to the rx
Apr 30, 2012, 11:31 PM
new kid on the block
mr.michael.2468's Avatar
hmmm thats weird, i don't think my my esc (same one) has a light on it... if it doesn't beep or anything its probably a connection or battery problem.. my first battery was toast and i had the same deal.

under a normal situation it beeps like crazy until it recognizes the tx, then it gives a chirp and beeps how ever many times as to how many cells are on your battery.

i haven't had a single problem since i bound my rx to my dx6i, i've had it and its been fine for months. check your connections to be sure everything is still good, and did you happen to crash your plane and have this problem? it shouldn't have caused a problem but you never know.

other than that go through the manual that came with the esc and look through anything similar to a troubleshooting section, its probably a signal for some error.

hope that helped, let me know if it fixes it, and just wondering, did you use the kit that i provided?
Jun 10, 2012, 07:09 PM
Registered User
how are people cutting FFF? alternatives to a hot-wire cutter?
Thanks!
TC
Jun 14, 2012, 12:19 AM
new kid on the block
mr.michael.2468's Avatar
TC, a sharp exacto knife works well also


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