Journey for a beginning R/C addict - RC Groups
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May 22, 2001, 11:58 AM
soholingo's Avatar

Journey for a beginning R/C addict

Hello all,

I have been lurking on this board for about two weeks, and I figured it was time to come out of hiding. I am new to the RC game, and I have dreamed of flying my own RC since the 3rd grade (some 25 years ago). I was recently rebitten by the bug, when a friend of mine purchased a soarstar. It's an odd looking plane, but it appears to be a good plane to learn on. After watching my friend, who is also new to the game crash two soarstars, and pay almost $700 in the process I was a bit nervous about entering into the rc arena. He asked me to follow him to the Hobby shop, and I watched as he, with the help of some of the people there put his machine back together. So I was no longer worried about the crashing aspect as I have found 5 minute epoxy is the life's blood of foam models. There was however the issue of cost. No way was I going to be able to afforad $700 or even $300. So I decided the soarstar wasn't the plane for me. After much looking around, and lurking on the board I decided on a sky scooter pro. Reasons should be obvious...

1. Comes with everything, including a radio.
2. It's inexpensive. I am going to get everything for $165!! Leaves me $35 for props, and an extra battery.
3. People say it's easy to fly, yet it won't become boring (ala the firebird (xl)).
4. I have received wonderful advice on how to upgrade and make the machine more enjoyable (thanks tic).

So with that I put down my $35 downpayment and I am waiting for the machne to come into the shop. Should be here by Wednesday.

But since I am going to forgo any instructor and teach myself I needed to get some sort of practice in, and I don't have any real planes (or any more money) so I decided to use a simulator to help me. I downloaded the free sim FMS, and it has been a Godsend. It let me know how difficult it is to fly a plane, and why everyone suggests that you get an instructor. I crashed my first few flights, and it appears that I was never going to be able to land. I have seen all of the pitfalls that you guys warn us newbies about, climging to fast, turning to sharp and into a spiraling crash, the importance of getting altitude, little movements to make adjustments, etc... I have even seen why you guys say that you should start flying with something simple. I would suggest the FMS program with a regular $20 analog joystick (the type with two joysticks that simulate an rc transmitter) for anyone who is trying to go it alone. The true test won't happen until I get my plane and start flying this weekend. (Luckily the wife and kid are going out of town so I can fly all weekend!!!!)

Well I have written enough for one post. I will keep everyone updated on my progress and I am open to any and all suggestions for my adventure...

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May 22, 2001, 12:49 PM
Registered User
bozmonster's Avatar

Welcome to the Ezone! I know you'll love your SS Pro, Ive got 2, a direct drive and a geared. I've got a few other planes as well, but I always come back to my trusty SS. A few tips, if I the torque pull to the left, its really bad. Lots of times I find myself holding it all the way to the right just to get it to go straight. Compensate by adding a few more twists to the right aileron control horn for trim. Once you launch, just keep her straight and level, built up some airspeed before you start a shallow climb. This plane can be a handfull because of the ailerons and torque pull, so stay on top of it. One of the best things to do is to add a stock gearbox and swing a larger prop, thats what I do on one of mine. The climb is twice as good, and the torque pull isnt nearly as bad, and I just seem to have more control over mine. I really recomend this, especially if your just starting out. The gearbox only costs $10.00 bucks, and just screws right on the front. You will also need to reverse the polarity of the engine. Switch the wires going to the motor, red to black black to red, as the gearbox makes the prop turn the other way. You will also need a prop adapter too. All up cost, $20.00. I think that would REALLY help you alot. One more thing...turning. This plane wants to turn left, and does not want to turn right nearly as well. Fly it like a pylon racer, go straight, turn left, go straight turn left etc..The best thing to do is position your self in the middle of the "circle", so the plane is always in front of you and the left wing is always facing you. ALso, when you turn, the plane will lose alot of airspeed and almost like a Road Runner cartoon, stop in mid-air, then turn, then keep going. Watch the torque pull when this happens. I learned to fly last fall with a SS, and while I did eventually learn to fly with it, the plane has more tape and exoxy on it than foam and has been retired to the bone yard for spares. The SS is ALWAYS fixable, no matter how bad the damage might look, you have that going for you, and it sounds like you've really done your research, I think you'll do just fine. 5 min expoxy, light packing tape and toothpicks will fix anything. And get at least 2 more batteries, a half hour to recharge is a long time to wait when you want to fly, so you have one in the air, one charging and one cooling. Once you go to land, the closer it gets to the ground the better it glides....Hope you have fun, and let us know how it went!........Chris
May 22, 2001, 12:53 PM
Registered User
Welcome to this hobby, Soholingo! Hope you have LOTS of success!

Be aware that flying a flight sim is not the same as flying a real model! You've increased the odds of success dramatically with the sim, but you can still expect to dork it a couple times. The perspectives and visual cues are all different.

Good luck to you, and enjoy!
May 22, 2001, 02:57 PM
I'm disoriented!
ChrisD's Avatar

There's a big Electric Fly held at the CASA (Capital Area Soaring Association)field in Rockville, MD, just south of you. Here's the link to Dereck's web site for info:

Those guys, including Dereck Woodward, could help you fly that plane in a heartbeat, and avoid a broken prop, or worse.

Check it out. As much as you think you cand do it, reality has a way of changing your mind. Let an expert check it over, hand launch it, and get it airborne for you.

I have a Soarstar, and I know what you mean. The Scooter is a good first choice. Good luck,


May 22, 2001, 03:10 PM
Registered User
bozmonster's Avatar
[QUOTE]Originally posted by soholingo:

Thanks for the tip. I had heard about turning left vs. turning right and now I know why. where did you get the gear box for $10? I know where I can get one for $19. Also is this the 3:1 ratio gear box? And I guess while we are at it where did you get your batteries and propellers? Price is important to me...

Yea price is important to me too, this hobby can be a big black hole you throw money in to :P The gearbox for the stock SS is the one I use, its 3:1, picked it up at my local hobby store for $10.00. I use APC slowflyer props, 10x4.7 and 9x6 work best, (about $4.00)and you'll need a $5.00 prop adapter. Lots of guys talk about cheap batteries from Radio Shack, I havent looked there myself, but might be worth looking into. But a $20.00 investment to keep it from crashing to its doom seems like a worth while investment to me...
Any decent hobby store should stock this stuff, if not ask them to order it, or order the stuff off the net. Theres lots of reputable sites out there. Glad I could be of help, this site has helped me more than I could tell you, even I feel like a pro now! chris
May 22, 2001, 04:10 PM
soholingo's Avatar
Originally posted by ChrisD:

There's a big Electric Fly held at the CASA (Capital Area Soaring Association)field in Rockville, MD, just south of you.

Thanks for the info. I will check it out this weekend. (Anyone ever hear of serendipity?!!!!!!)

Check it out. As much as you think you cand do it, reality has a way of changing your mind. Let an expert check it over, hand launch it, and get it airborne for you.

I won't have a choice I will be compelled to fly it as soon as I get it.... However, after crashing a few times, and a few sessions with the epoxy, I will show up at the show on Saturday, and graciously ask for help....

I have a Soarstar, and I know what you mean. The Scooter is a good first choice. Good luck,

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I am going to the hobby shop in a few minutes. To check the status of the Scooter. And to price some propellers and the gearbox....

May 22, 2001, 06:30 PM
Human Like You
NewbieX's Avatar
Hey Scholingo,

Check out the T-52 as well. You can probably save some cash over the Sky Scooter and get a 4 channel radio and Hitec cg-330 or similar charger (which you will eventually want anyway).

Search T-52 in the foamies and training sections and I'm sure you will agree it is the best option for beginning. It's cheap, indestructable, glides well and can be converted to full house for an aileron/sport trainer as well.

I tried a soarstar first, but it wasn't hardy enough for beginner mistakes. The T-52 also gives some experience with building, mods, etc where the soarstar and sky scooter are more pre-built.

Whatever you decide, try to meet some local folks and just remember that everyone crashes sometimes.
May 22, 2001, 06:54 PM
tic's Avatar
I get all my scooter parts from they are fast and inexpensive.. They have received an order from me and shipped the same day a few times.. amazing...
May 22, 2001, 08:26 PM
Registered Snoozer
Neil Morse's Avatar
Originally posted by soholingo:
But since I am going to forgo any instructor and teach myself ...

Welcome to the E Zone and the hobby. I think you've got a good plan going, but I'm frankly a bit concerned about the idea of your going out there with an aileron plane and no instructor. Are you sure you can't find someone just to help you with the maiden flight of your Scooter? It can make a tremendous difference to (1) have someone experienced fly your model to make sure it's built and trimmed right, and (2) to get some basic information about how to fly.

I was distressed to hear about your buddy going through two Soarstars. (And I have to admit I'm mystified as to how he managed to spend $700 in the process.) The Soarstar is a fantastic flyer, and with even just a little bit of help he should have been able to fly one without destroying it, let alone destroying two of them. Didn't his experience suggest to you that there might be a better way?

I taught myself to fly with a Wingo, so I know it's possible. But I had an experienced person help me get started on my first flight, and in retrospect I wish I had gotten a bit more help after that.

Also, with due respect to bozmonster, I wouldn't recommend trying to fly a circle around yourself. Just pick a nice big open space and try to fly a nice oval pattern in front of you. Letting the plane get behind you can be pretty disorienting.

So I don't want to pour any cold water on your plans (and I know how impatient you are because I was there once myself), but keep in mind that waiting until you can find someone to help you out may give you a much better experience in the long run.

May 22, 2001, 09:34 PM
Registered User
I started with a SkyScooter Pro, and I am now flying an Zagi400X. Do not be in to much of an hurry to make changes to your Scooter. I found the direct drive scooter easier to hand lauch than my later geared version, especially on calm wind days. The greater speed helped me get in the air. Plus, the little gunther props are cheap, compared to slow flyer props. I would suggest you use anywhere from 10-20% up trim on the hand launch. It buys you time untill you get to your radio. Initially concentrate on keeping your wings level. People may have differing opinions, but there are the main points that helped me. Most important, you will crash. Don't worrry about it, and have fun. Thats' why you are flying a foamie.
May 22, 2001, 09:46 PM
tic's Avatar
I found NOTHING easier about direct drive.. It was fast, seemed harder to launch and much harder to fly.. this was my experience. However, I taught myself to fly it... direct drive.. I bought 20 of those little gunther props. After breaking 2 in 2 outings, I figured I'd need them..I only broke one more gunther after that, figures.. Yes, the slowflyer props are more expensive and will most likely break on a hard nose first landing.. Oh well, I was slow to want to switch over to the gearbox, I finally did it and haven't gone back since.. Just the increased climb is worth it, not to mention the slower speed, easier aerobatics and less pronounced left turning tendency. Face it guys, he's gonna go fly it the first day he has it together even if it's blowing 20kts out.. I know the feeling, I think we all do. Oh, anyone want to buy 17 gunther props... cheap??
May 22, 2001, 10:11 PM
Registered User
Forget the Direct Drive! It will lead to nothing but frustration & lots of crashes.
Put a 3:1 Gearbox & an APC 10X4.7 Slowflyer Prop on your Pro & you won't be sorry! I love my Sky Scooter now & gets lots of compliments on how sweet it flys. The Gearbox is $20.00 from Hobby Lobby & the APC prop is like $2.75, well worth the mod!
May 22, 2001, 11:07 PM
ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι
Gerald's Avatar
I tried to teach myself how to fly with a 24" wingspan, scale Guillow's biplane I converted to 4 channel electric from rubber power. I crashed every attempt & repaired until it was so seriously damaged that it needed major reconstruction. I'm thinking about this now because I'm just getting back to the repairs on that plane after about 8 months. Its just about rebuilt now too.

Anyway, my next plane was a SR-X250. I have long been good at building models, just not at flying them. Well, I got the X250 built and smashed the nose in on the first attempt to fly it. I gave this up and began to practice on the simulator. I practiced til I could fly any of the planes in it with reasonable confidence.

The big test finally came when I had the X250 repaired and was ready to try it again. I was a little nervous but I tried to imagine that it was just the simulator and that calmed me a little. Well I took of and just kept pretending and you know what? I flew that plane with authority, did loops and rolls and landed on the paved strip just like I practiced on the SIM! First time off the SIM!

I'm totally sold on the Flight simulator being the #1 best way to learn RC before ever touching a real one. You increase your chances of success by 1000%. But don't just fiddle around with it, really master it first.

[This message has been edited by Gerald (edited 05-22-2001).]
May 23, 2001, 12:32 AM
soholingo's Avatar

I thought about the t-52 and to be honest if I was going to get a plane that I needed to build I think it would have been the push-e cat. I am still thinking about the T-52 for a second plane... And after that who knows?? But you think I can get a T-52, plus engine and radio gear for less than $165???? If I knew that I may have gotten the T-52 (even though I didn't want to build my first plane)

Neil Morse:

Yeah, he spooked me with that price, but he bought the soarstar, and crashed the first one, he didn't know how to put it back to gether and bought a second one for parts. Not to mention he bought a really nice 6 channel radio. His approach is nice because he doesn't have to buy any more radio equipment, but it was too expensive. As far as patience, if I find that I am way off, then I will get some help, but I feel that the flight sim has helped a lot...

I will definitely buy some of those props from you. Let me know how much. If you take paypal you can have money tomorrow...

I have heard others say the same thing about the trainers. And I see why it helps, because your expectations are appropriately modified. For instance, I see what people are referring to when talking about a slow climbing flyer, versus the fast gas powered plane climbs. It's incredible... But the true test will come when I fly on Thursday or Friday...

The main reason I put this post up was to relay my experience flying, with only input from this group, using a trainer for instructions, while spending only $200. If I go out and fly it without crashing then everyone will know that it's possible. And that is a heck of a story to tell to get people into this hobby...
May 23, 2001, 01:36 AM
soholingo's Avatar

Thanks for the tip. I had heard about turning left vs. turning right and now I know why. where did you get the gear box for $10? I know where I can get one for $19. Also is this the 3:1 ratio gear box? And I guess while we are at it where did you get your batteries and propellers? Price is important to me...


Thanks for the input about the visual cues... it's very difficult to follow some of the cues in the flight sim, and I suspect it will be even more difficult in the field. I imagine I will fly once a day everyday so long as I can.

Thanks for the help...