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Nov 28, 2016, 10:47 AM
What could possibly go wrong?
Build Log

BTE Venture 60 kit "Samsara"

Hi, this will be the build log for my Bruce Tharpe Engineering Venture 60 kit. This will be my 2nd RC model, not counting when I was into it 30 years ago and completed a CG Gentle Lady glider which never flew. My 1st is an RCM Trainer 60, which has flown and crashed already and has been repaired. I'm still learning with an instructor, but when I get my solo wings, this Venture 60 will be the model I really want to fly.
I'll be fitting it with the following equipment:
- Engine: Saito FA-82B, glow igntion, 13.5x6 prop (Bolly)
- Hitec Optima 9 Receiver
- Hitec HS-5485HB digital servos for rudder & elevator
- Hitec HS-5085MG digital mini-servos for ailerons, x2
- Emax ES3103B analogue mini-servo for throttle
- Hitec Telemetry gear inc. GPS, airspeed and engine temp.
I might end up using the same analogue servos for ailerons as the throttle, as they worked well for me in my trainer and they're cheap and reliable. It's just that I've got one of the 5085MG's already and can get another one at a good price. I'm considering going digital for all the servos in this model, as I've got a servo programmer on the way and it would be good experience for me.

I ordered the dual aileron servo conversion with this model, and also the Sullivan Sky-Lite wheel set. I'd already bought the plans for this model and intended a plans build, then got cold feet and decided I needed a trainer so I built an RCM Trainer 60 first, which you can see at and has flown, crashed, been repaired and is just on the brink of flying again. I've got more training to do but I want this model to by my main flyer when i'm ready for it. Notice the post down the page about snakes, we were emailed a warning with that photo, and one member's already been bitten and had to go to hospital, fortunately it was a non-venemous snake. But that's one reason I've decided to get telemetry for my radio gear, especially the GPS - at that field beyond the cleared area it's trees and thick scrub, and it's summer here so it's snake season. If this one comes down I want to be able to go straight to it using the last known GPS coordinates and my phone. I've been bush-bashing twice in a week for over an hour each time looking for crashed models and it's already no fun, that in the heat of an Aussie summer day with poisonous snakes to boot, I'd rather minimise that!
This model will be built exactly per the plans, with the exception that I'm going to reduce the wingspan by one rib bay from each panel. This is a common modification for the V60, and endorsed by BTE.

This model and build log are dedicated to my dear friend Karen "Sam" Parnaby, who bought this kit for me as a gift, shortly before her sad passing, caused by problems with her prescription medications. She was the best and most loyal friend I still had left, and on the last night of her life, she suggested a name for this model, and I said I'd be happy to use it. So this model will be named "Samsara". I didn't know it until later but is a Sanskrit word which means the circle of birth, life, death and renewal, and when I found this out after Sam's passing I was glad I'd agreed to that name.
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Nov 28, 2016, 11:15 AM
What could possibly go wrong?
By the way I should have said, it'll be at least a few days before I'm ready to start construction as I've got some other commitments coming up, but I'll be working on this as I can. I won't be rushing it, I'll do it at a comfortable pace, I'm not ready for it yet anyway as I'm still learning to fly RC on my RCM Trainer 60, which was built from plans. I learned that I'm a good builder, not a fast one, so I'll make an effort as before to build the best model I can, but you'll have to be patient! If there's anyone who's built one of these before I'm inviting you to post pictures of it to this thread, as I'd love to see your colour schemes, finish and fit-out.

The BTE Venture 60 is a great design and an attractive model, I've heard it flies very nicely, and just as I was told to expect the quality of the kit and all the parts in it is absolutely first class. It really is excellent, right down to all the printing and accessories. The edges on *every* wooden part are absolutely sharp and square. Accuracy is just about perfect, the fit of the pieces to each other is as good as it gets. Every piece has literally been hand-selected for density, hardness and grain and is matched to each job. All the hardware is quality brands like Sullivan and Du Bro. And when you consider what you're getting, the price is remarkably good, and I believe hasn't risen in many years.

There aren't many construction kits on the market any more, ARF has really taken over. But building yourself has many advantages, you retain control over the materials, parts and glues you use, you have the opportunity to ensure everything is built correctly and aligned accurately, and if you care about that sort of thing then you know it didn't come from some 3rd-world sweat shop. People think it's hard and slow, but it's not really, once you're set up for it. Soon as you've got one under your belt, that experience makes it easy from then on. People regard ARF as convenient, and it gets them flying sooner with less effort, but you miss out on a lot too. When I turn up with my plans-built trainer, there's a buzz about it, "hey, that's that newbie guy who built his own trainer from nothing but downloaded plans!". Who does THAT any more? They're curious about it and they're supportive. I can also tell you this - the feeling of seeing it finally fly after all that work is fantastic!! You get the chance to pay attention to detail and get everything dialed in just right. A construction kit to me is an excellent compromise - the hard work of carefully preparing the parts accurately has been done, and you still have control over the quality of construction. If you want to alter it to suit yourself, go ahead. I heartily recommend building a wooden model if you haven't yet. That's the way it was done until the ARF revolution, and the hobby has really lost something good since that happened.

Anyway, bear with me and this model will go together soon. I'm told it's easy to construct, and that it's a sweet flyer too. I'm looking forward to adding this to my RC equipment and it should make a great 2nd model.
Nov 28, 2016, 12:01 PM
Registered User
Nergall's Avatar
I would highly recommend you pick up a foam trainer while you repair your trainer. Getting out and flying regularly is key to learning. You, obviously, won't enjoy flying it as much as your built balsa trainer, but if you're making the occasional mistake, as most of us do, then the foam trainer will be easier to repair.

No doubt your Venture will ultimately be your favorite airplane for some time to come. I'm definitely subscribed. I had a Four Star 60 at a similar stage of training myself. I must've put over 300 flights on it before it finally succumbed to a mid-air collision. I wish I had known about the Venture, because it fixes a couple small issues I had with the 4*.
Nov 28, 2016, 01:08 PM
What could possibly go wrong?
Thanks Nergall and welcome. Yes I'd like to do a foam trainer of some sort, something where I don't care if it crashes, that would be very worthwhile. I had in mind a T28 from here: For anything more elaborate I'll stick to traditional style. Not saying either is better or worse than the other, that's just my preference. I'm not particularly interested to make elaborate projects in foam, I respect those who do but it's not for me.

The Trainer 60 is fully repaired, trimmed and has passed a safety inspection, it's ready to go but at the field yesterday my instructor and I couldn't make a buddy-box connection work and I wasn't willing to fly it without. You've got to take SOME risk, but I don't want to make the same mistakes and be repairing it for weeks again. I really can't spend the money on a motor, ESC, new Rx and feather servos to make a foamie right now, so I'll just have to wear the risk and fly what I've got. But that's a good trainer and should be excellent to learn on, and if I crash it I crash it, I've rebuilt it once, I don't want to have to again but I'll do it if I have to.

It's now lighter, stronger and better built, and it has a different engine. With a Saito FA-82B it was heavy and overpowered, even on almost no throttle I couldn't slow it down enough. The controls, esp. elevator, had far too much throw, it was tail-heavy and altogether just too much for me. All those hard lessons have been re-built into the model, it now has an FA-56 which should be a better match, weight distribution now is much more like the plans, CG and lateral balance are now dead on, and I've set up switchable high/low rates.

After training I think a Venture 60 will be the ideal next model. It should be my main flyer from then on. I've read about the 4* and Mr. Tharpe did design several versions of it, but not the 60 version, which he considers the Venture 60 to be an evolution of. There's something about this on the BTE site. This Trainer 60 is an advanced trainer anyway, so I've got to be on my toes, but at least it can grow with me. When I'm good enough I'll put the 82 back on it, it's meant to be good fun. That test pilot gave it a workout and it looked great up there, doing tight loops, spins and rolls, it's no slouch! But it wasn't the trainer I needed, so hopefully now that's changed.
Last edited by BernardW; Nov 28, 2016 at 01:18 PM.
Nov 28, 2016, 01:43 PM
AndyKunz's Avatar
I bought my son an E-Flite Mini Apprentice a few months back so we could have a beater plane while on an 11-day road trip. He hadn't flown in several years (college, Basic Training, etc.) so I wanted something he could destroy with no emotional involvement ... just in case.

As it turned out, it was a delight to fly and has suffered no damage. He was back on "full control" on the first flight, although I must admit we had a ton of fun watching it snap itself out of weird orientations with the Panic button.

I'd encourage you to get one from Model Flight or your local shop. It will be a good investment in your skillset.

Works for Horizon
Nov 28, 2016, 01:51 PM
What could possibly go wrong?
As I'm using a 4-stroke, I'm considering 2 methods for getting the weight distribution correct. The first is setting the firewall back a little to compensate for the cylinder placement being further forward than in a 2-stroke. As the carburettor is behind the cylinder on a 4-stroke that puts the cylinder ahead. A lesson I learned on my trainer after rebuilding it was that this makes it much easier to balance according to the plans. I used a smaller engine but it wasn't that much lighter, according to the spec's the Saito FA-82B is 462g and the FA-56 is 410 (I forget the exact number but the current OS 2-strokes around 60-ish size, such as the .65, were quite a lot heavier than either of these engines). The extra 25 or 30mm that the engine's mass sits forward, due to the carby position, can be tricky to balance, so on my trainer I moved the firewall back by that much and it made life easier when it was time to set the CG.

The alternative is to just mount it on the firewall in the usual manner, letting it have its mass forward, then compensate by shifting other mass to the tail. On the Venture 60 the most common method it to mount the rudder and elevator servos well to the rear, rather than add a heap of ballast. I know many V60's have been built this way, I haven't managed to find any close-up photos of their servo installations yet but I'm hoping to. If anyone has pictures they can post I'd really appreciate it, it can be from a different model if it's similar.

The 2nd method, rear-mounted servos, is probably what I'd prefer, because it doesn't eat up any space from the front end which would otherwise be for fitting the fuel tank and hoses etc., and I found that a bit tricky when I had to reduce that space on the trainer. The easiest way around it was to use a smaller tank, something I'd prefer not to do. And, with rear-mounted servos, I can avoid having long pushrods or control cables, and having short-acting rods would be a good thing... less opportunity for slack and play, easier access to the servos and links, etc.

I guess I can put this decision off for now until the fuselage starts coming together, but I'll be looking around to see how other people have dealt with this on their Venture 60s. Any photos or ideas would be very welcome.
Nov 28, 2016, 01:55 PM
What could possibly go wrong?
Originally Posted by AndyKunz
...I must admit we had a ton of fun watching it snap itself out of weird orientations with the Panic button.
A Panic Button? Wow, that could be handy. I'm not enough up on new developments to have seen that but it sounds like a good thing to have! OK, sounds like it's worth checking out, I'll look into it. Work has owed me some back-pay for a while and it's well and truly time they coughed it up, when I get it that might be a good way to use it.

The other thing about such a model is that I have friends who get very interested in my new hobby, but unfortunately when they ask if they can have a try, I have to tell them no. It'd be nice if I could offer them a chance on something like that, with a way to get out of trouble if they need it, and without having to worry about writing off a large investment. OK thanks for the tips Andy and Nergall, got some homework to do!
Nov 28, 2016, 02:17 PM
Registered User
Good luck with this build Bernard. I followed your RCM Trainer build and repair. I will follow along on this one. Looked up the Venture 60 and it looks like a nice plane.

We seem to share some of life's travel. I began RC back in the 70-80's. Then I left until July 2014. Since then I have been just a scratch builder. I use computer print out plans and mod n change as desired. My first build was an Ugly Stik. But, fears of crashing it got me looking for an alternative. The SPAD type airplane was my answer. Easy to build, tough to destroy. I've managed to bang up my Spad n rebuild parts. It is the only plane I've been flying. Lots of flying in 2015. This year is a wash. I decided to catch up on my many home projects. So no flying this year. I'm just about to get started flying again. With my current build I'll have 4 planes to maiden. once I am comfortable flying again. .

I enjoy building and also reading these build threads. I learn a lot. Will follow along.
Nov 28, 2016, 02:21 PM
AndyKunz's Avatar
Check out the video.

HobbyZone Mini Apprentice® S RTF with SAFE® Technology (2 min 30 sec)

About 1:40 you can see Panic.

Nov 28, 2016, 02:37 PM
Registered User
Nergall's Avatar
You might be missing the point of an Ugly Stick if you're afraid of crashing it! But, yeah, a SPAD would be even more "Ugly Stick" than the original.
Nov 28, 2016, 02:47 PM
What could possibly go wrong?
OK I found that the Mini Apprentice S is handled here by the same distributor who did my radio set, those guys are fine. The price and value are pretty good really, but still kind of up there for someone in my position. If I find myself with that in my pocket soon, I'd definitely consider it. But I'd have to weigh alternatives... for example, maybe I could achieve some of the same with a gyro added to my trainer, I've only read a little but I know I could get one to limit bank and pitch, not sure about a panic button but I should be past needing that mostly. Certainly that model is worth bearing in mind and the video makes it all obvious. Nice that it's ready to go. Actually I should have priced a BNF version since I can use my radio for that, it's got whatever that system is called I'm pretty sure and that should save some money. That or something a lot like it is on the shelf at one of the LHS's I like to go to, so I should have a talk with them about it.

ETPilot, welcome again and yes I saw you post to the T60 build log several times, nice to see you around again. You do seem to have walked a similar path taking many of the same turns. SPAD was the acronym I was trying to think of, thanks for that (not to be confused with the WW1 type ) and I think they're a good thing. I've been looking into it on and off and I think one of those could be put together quite cheaply, if you're OK with Hong Kong imports of the most basic gear, but for what I want to do with it that's probably fine.

I'd like to do an Ugly Stik myself, I've thinking of one of those for my first non-dihedral model, and they can be found already translated to just about any size you can think of. There's a twin-engined version on my simulator which I really enjoy playing with, one of the easiest non-dihedral models in it and a lot of fun. Enough to make me consider getting another of either of my Saitos just to build a Twin Stik! I've got a YS FZ-91AC waiting for a model to fly in, whatever I use it in it'll be something I build myself for sure. A Stik is pretty versatile, you can make them work with just about anything. There's a video of a guy, I believe he was a former Royal New Zealand Air Force pilot, who had an Ugly Stik which had originally flown with a radial, then he got one of the new model turbo-shafts to put in it! Wow, how'd you like options like that? There are still some available as nice kits, but they're so basic and well-known I might as well just go ahead and build my own.
Nov 28, 2016, 03:07 PM
AndyKunz's Avatar
This is much more than a gyro - it is an 3 gyros, plus 3 accelerometers, plus some pretty cool software that it uses so it always knows which way "up" really is.

The Apprentice needs a DSM2 or DSMX transmitter. Do you have a Spektrum module for your Hitec? You can't use a Hitec RF deck with it.

Nov 28, 2016, 03:11 PM
What could possibly go wrong?
Little detail question if anyone would like to field this one for me, since I'm already in esteemed company! This model's instructions are written around CA as the primary construction adhesive, and I haven't used it before that way. The way the fuselage parts fit together so tightly, I think it's probably ideal there (assuming I don't turn out to be someone who gets sick from the fumes), fitting the parts together then allowing thin CA to wick between them. But the wings go together just like my trainer's did, so I was thinking of using my trusty aliphatic for that.

My question is, will the balsa shear webs bond properly to the spruce spars any better with either of these adhesives over the other? No problem with aliphatic between balsa and the harder spruce? If I use CA for the webs to the spars, would thin or medium be best?

I know I do get overly into detail like this but I like to ask first rather than make mistakes because it's something I haven't used before. There were maybe 10 drops of CA on the whole trainer, most of those to harden some threads and the rest to repair splits. I've used aliphatic for general woodworking for years and know it well, though I've rarely had to use it between woods so dissimilar as soft balsa (webs) and spruce. Just wondering if you guys would do it differently.
Nov 28, 2016, 03:15 PM
Registered User
Nergall's Avatar
I also ignored the instructions and used Titebond II for my 4*, and it came out fine. Lots of people who are irritated by CA fumes do this.
Nov 28, 2016, 03:36 PM
What could possibly go wrong?
Originally Posted by AndyKunz
This is much more than a gyro - it is an 3 gyros, plus 3 accelerometers, plus some pretty cool software that it uses so it always knows which way "up" really is.

The Apprentice needs a DSM2 or DSMX transmitter. Do you have a Spektrum module for your Hitec? You can't use a Hitec RF deck with it.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for here. It doesn't have a physical separate module on it, but I was under the impression this particular Tx achieved the same thing. There are these points on its feature list:
36MHz Spectra Pro Compatible (Module available separately)
Secure Link Tech. (is that the key thing here?)
Built in AFHSS 2.4GHZ / SLTTM Module (Single / Bi-Directional Selectable)

First, I thought the module being available separately meant that unless I bought it I missed out on some features, but as best as I can work out the A9X being their top Tx has all their best stuff built in, including the module's features. This is the manual for the Hitec Spektra module anyway, if that helps clear it up, just a single page:
I believe this is a device to suit 36MHz module-compatible radios and convert them to 2.4GHz. One feature it adds is Smart Link, but that is a built-in feature in my radio, definitely... however maybe it only talks to Hitec or Multiplex-compatible BNF's? I'm not educated on this stuff. Note mine is an Aurora 9X as opposed to Aurora 9, so the 9 might use this module but the 9X, AFAIK, doesn't need it. I was under the impression that since my Tx has SLT it can talk to Bind-N-Fly models such as this one, but could that be wrong? EDIT - I don't really get why the Aurora 9 would use the module, but it can. It doesn't seem to be an option for the 9X.

This next do-hickey, so far as I can see, is the type of flight control system the Apprentice S has, give or take a feature or 2. It's a 3-axis gyro and flight controller, and it has to be mounted flat and level then calibrated so it knows where Up is, so it seems to me to be a similar system to that on board the Apprentice S. And it's something I could use as an accessory with my Optima 9. It's got "angular motion detectors" and 3 axis trim-pots, so AFAIK it's that type of system. But, if I'm under the wrong impression about it I'd regard it as a favour if you could explain it to me (and anyone reading).
The manual is available at:

EDIT - One more thing to say, this is a native 2.4GHz AFHSS radio, and I take RF in this context to mean FM such as 36, 72 or 75MHz. To my knowledge this radio doesn't do those at all (I was surprised to see the older Aurora 9 appears to do so)

EDIT - PS there's a product comparison chart here, about the only point I can see on it that matters is that the 9X has SLT and the older 9 doesn't.

Nergall, I always used Titebond Original, never tried TB II but they seem to be compatible.
Last edited by BernardW; Nov 28, 2016 at 03:55 PM.

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