Building a Flite-Test Flyer Airplane from Speed-Build Kit and from Scratch - RC Groups
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Apr 11, 2018, 04:10 PM
Nu2RC
BSquared18's Avatar
Build Log

Building a Flite-Test Flyer Airplane from Speed-Build Kit and from Scratch


Hello, this build thread will describe the process I use to build two Flite-Test Flyer foam models, the first from Flite-Testís speed-build kit and the second (for my wife) from scratch. If you are a beginner and not familiar with the Flite-Test store, I suggest you google it because itís an excellent resource. The videos are great.

Please donít hesitate to offer advice as this build thread develops. My solutions may work but may not be the best solutions. Or you may see where I am going astray.

Since I havenít built a foam RC airplane before, my first task was to gather or purchase the tools and other items I would need. These included a cutting board, glue gun, soldering iron (which I may be using as a foam-cutting tool at some point), hobby knife with extra #11 blades, volt meter, and various other odds and ends.

When I opened the parcel containing the speed-build kits for Flite-Testís three swappable airplanes, I had a mild shock. Instead of being white, all the foam pieces were covered with brown paper (Fig. 1.1). I wanted the surface to be white so that decals, paint, and/or colored tape or other colored covering would show up well. I found a thread at the Flite-Test forums where the pros and cons of removing the paper are discussed. I realize that the paper adds strength to the foam, and if white paper had been used I probably would have left it on. Instead, Iíll use some other type of covering(s), yet to be determined.

I found discussions online about various methods for removing paper from foam. I discovered that carefully lifting the paper while pushing the thumb of my free hand underneath and against the paper and carefully peeling up at about a 45-degree angle worked well.

Once the paper was removed, I wanted to make a pattern to use for building the second model from scratch (or to build replacement pieces after a crash). I printed out the tiled pattern downloaded from the Flite-Test store and tried to match up the sections with the pieces from the kit. On the whole, the pieces and printed pattern matched up, but there were a few places where the tiled sections didnít quite fit together. So, using pieces of card-stock paper taped together, I traced the shapes of the foam pieces from the kit. I found that a mechanical pencil with the graphite extended out further than the thickness of the foam worked well because the graphite could be held up against the foam for a more accurate tracing (Fig. 1.2).

Between the tiled print-out and the traced pattern, I was able to create outlines that should work well when time comes to build pieces from scratch (Fig. 1.3). I think using card stock provides less flimsy, more durable cutouts from which to trace made-from-scratch pieces later.

I purchased four Turnigy 1000mAh 2S batteries on Amazon. Although 1000mAh, they each weigh only 1.9 ounces, including the leads. Time will tell what kind of endurance they have. Because the ESC I purchased from the Flite-Test store has an XT60 connection and the batteries do not, I replaced the battery connectors with XT60 ones.

Several YouTube tutorials were very helpful in learning how to solder new connectors to battery leads. For example, it was the first Iíd heard of heat-shrink tubes. Nevertheless, my first effort was less than stellar and required a re-do. After that, the process went smoothly. The attached image shows one example of the result (Fig. 1.4). A few things I learned from experience: (1) Buy extra connectors in case one or more get messed up in the process. (2) Slide the heat-shrink tubes on the leads first, so that they arenít forgotten until after the soldering is done. (3) Keep a heat-shrink tube slid away from a freshly soldered connector until the connector cools; otherwise, the heat may cause the sleeve to shrink prematurely. (4) Hold the heat-shrink tube firmly against the connector, such as with pliers (Fig. 1.5).

Next step: Build the power pod that is common to the swappable planes.

Regards,
Bill
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Apr 11, 2018, 04:28 PM
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What model are you building? What speed controller. Xt60 seems overkill for such a small batterry.
Apr 11, 2018, 05:02 PM
Nu2RC
BSquared18's Avatar
Quote:
What model are you building? What speed controller. Xt60 seems overkill for such a small batterry.
As I mention, it's the Flite-Test Flyer, one of a bundle of three described HERE.

The ESC included in Flite-Test's recommended power pack is the EMAX BLHeli. The recommended battery size is 2S 500mAh. I went with a 1000mAh because the ones I bought are very light.

Since I'm new to RC-building, I have no idea if the connector is a bad choice. It was the size on the ESC, so I matched the batteries to it. Is that going to be a problem? Anyone?

Bill
Apr 11, 2018, 05:39 PM
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HOLY S**T …They ripped off Everybody !!!!
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Apr 11, 2018, 06:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSquared18
The recommended battery size is 2S 500mAh. I went with a 1000mAh because the ones I bought are very light.
Way over sized for that size of battery. They usually come with a small one JST(?), about 1/4" wide.
Quote:
Since I'm new to RC-building,
Bill
The right hand one is a Smart Dart XS
https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...-Smart-Dart-XS
and I'd recommend making the nose longer as I've ended up doing on all of mine. That allows placing the battery further back, on the CoG.
https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...866980-Dart-XS

A glue gun means hot glue which means weight. I never use hot glue, either use a sand-able PVA or Gorilla glue.

Fly at half throttle unless you really want to throw it all over the sky, madly. The motors ~20 gram?
Apr 11, 2018, 07:05 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by BSquared18
For example, it was the first I’d heard of heat-shrink tubes.
Bill
Only been in use for 4 decades. "Heat-shrink tubing was invented by Raychem Corporation in 1962." - wiki

"Best thing since sliced bread" as they say. Basically it has replaced insulation tape for wrapping joins. The trouble with tape is the glue fails over time.

I'd recommend buying a good range of heat shrink tubing as it has lots of uses around the house. Black is probably the best general purpose colour. Red and green for specific polarized leads is good to have too.
Last edited by Mac50L; Apr 11, 2018 at 07:21 PM.
Apr 11, 2018, 07:17 PM
Registered User
The Smart Dart XS or FT Flyer -
Weight, just measured 3 of mine, 20", 160 g, 186, g, 184 g. The last one is the extended span version.
The 2 slightly heavier ones have embedded wooden wing spars, western red cedar cut to the thickness of the foam. The first to the original design with a bamboo external horizontal spar.
Apr 11, 2018, 07:21 PM
IMO ( In My Opinion ) →
balsa or carbon's Avatar
The brown paper skins on the FT foam board are the new "water resistant" skins . The earlier FT speed build kits were made out of "NOT water resistant" white-paper-skinned Adams Readi-board ..... the same thing you can get at the Dollar Tree Store .

The FT construction techniques ( A-fold , B-fold , etc ) utilize the paper skins , and the paper skins add a lot of strength . If you have already removed the paper skins , you can still assemble the planes with lightweight packing tape and/or hot glue . You may have to reinforce the airframe for flying forces in some places to replace the strength you lost from removing the paper skins .

For best ( flying ) results , I recommend making your planes as lightweight as possible ( light wing loading ) . Do not add anything that it doesn't need to fly , such as : swappable pod , landing gear , decorations that add weight , "crash-proofing" reinforcements .



As an example of building with "light wing loading" , here is a modified FT Old Fogey I've built :



FT Old Fogey-ish with 60" wingspan (1 min 56 sec)






Just curious , will you and your wife be using these planes for learning to fly RC for the very first time ? If so , will you have the assistance of an experienced RC flyer ?
Last edited by balsa or carbon; Apr 11, 2018 at 07:28 PM.
Apr 11, 2018, 07:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balsa or carbon
and the paper skins add a lot of strength . If you have already removed the paper skins , you can still assemble the planes with lightweight packing tape and/or hot glue.
I run a bamboo skewer along the inside of each side to stop the tail tearing off. The same on most of my builds, all without paper.

The bamboo is unburnt carbon fibre if you really feel bad about not using hi-tech.
Apr 11, 2018, 07:41 PM
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rickp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BSquared18
.........
When I opened the parcel containing the speed-build kits for Flite-Testís three swappable airplanes, I had a mild shock. Instead of being white, all the foam pieces were covered with brown paper (Fig. 1.1). I wanted the surface to be white so that decals, paint, and/or colored tape or other colored covering would show up well. I found a thread at the Flite-Test forums where the pros and cons of removing the paper are discussed. I realize that the paper adds strength to the foam, and if white paper had been used I probably would have left it on. Instead, Iíll use some other type of covering(s), yet to be determined.
...................
Regards,
Bill
Hey Bill,

Thanks for starting your build log - I'm sure it will help others just getting into this.
Here's an interesting way to cover your foam - print your paint scheme on paper and then glue it to your uncovered foam.

http://forum.flitetest.com/showthrea...ize-Skin-Index

Note that I have not tried this myself - I left the brown paper on my Tiny Trainer and am considering how to apply a scheme.
Lots of debate around the relative weight of this method vs paint.

Regards, rick p
Apr 11, 2018, 10:55 PM
Nu2RC
BSquared18's Avatar
Thanks all. Lots of food for thought.

Quote:
Way over sized for that size of battery. They usually come with a small one JST(?), about 1/4" wide.
Yes, the ones I removed from the batteries are very small. So, I have a couple of questions. First, other than weight, is there a downside, performance wise, to using these large connectors? Unless there's a serious performance issue, I'll use them as they are since the deed is done. Second question: For future reference, should I instead have replaced the ESC's XT60 with the smaller connector that's compatible with the small ones that were on the batteries?

Quote:
Just curious , will you and your wife be using these planes for learning to fly RC for the very first time ? If so , will you have the assistance of an experienced RC flyer ?
Truth be told, I wouldn't call myself "experienced," but I have put some time in on a Horizon Super Cub S trainer and Radian UMX powered glider. Rick Purvis built a Phoenix flight-sim model of the Flyer for my wife and me, and both of us are putting in a lot of time practicing on the sim. I chose the Flyer because of it's slow-flying capabilities. Since my wife will be making her first flight (once I've built a model), I plan to have a buddy-cord setup so I can take over if necessary. And, of course, we'll fly on a large, grass-covered field.

Quote:
Here's an interesting way to cover your foam.
Thanks for the tip, Rick. I'll look into that.

Bill
Last edited by BSquared18; Apr 11, 2018 at 11:10 PM.
Apr 11, 2018, 11:09 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by BSquared18
Yes, the ones I removed from the batteries are very small. So, I have a couple of questions. First, other than weight, is there a downside, performance wise, to using these large connectors?
Only that every other battery you buy in future will need to be changed too.
Also safer, especially for someone not experienced, to change the ESC connector (1) than potential bombs (4), charged batteries.
Quote:
Second question: For future reference, should I instead have replaced the ESC's XT60 with the smaller connector that's compatible with the small ones that were on the batteries?
Yes.
Quote:
Since my wife will be making her first flight (once I've built a model),
Do NOT go over half throttle. Up a hundred feet and yes with controls all over the place it is wild - and exciting, fun to watch. Then kill the throttle and land gently and think about it.
Apr 12, 2018, 01:36 AM
IMO ( In My Opinion ) →
balsa or carbon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BSquared18

I chose the Flyer because of it's slow-flying capabilities.

Bill
The main ingredient for slow flight is light wing loading , but the design of the FT Flyer ( AKA Smart Dart XS ) allows for stable slow flight by means of flying with the nose up ..... high angle of attack .

Here is my Smart Dart XS ( FT Flyer ) , I consider the design one of the BEST 3 channel Rudder-Elevator-Throttle planes around .



40" RC Dart (1 min 31 sec)
Apr 12, 2018, 07:15 AM
Nu2RC
BSquared18's Avatar
Concerning the connector issue, live and learn. I'm sure by the time I've completed these builds I'll have made more mistakes and learned from them. Of course, I can't easily undo what is done, but I'll keep the lesson in mind for the future.

Now, on to the next step.

Bill
Apr 12, 2018, 10:21 AM
IMO ( In My Opinion ) →
balsa or carbon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BSquared18
Concerning the connector issue, live and learn. I'm sure by the time I've completed these builds I'll have made more mistakes and learned from them. Of course, I can't easily undo what is done, but I'll keep the lesson in mind for the future.

Now, on to the next step.

Bill
No problem using a big yellow XT60 instead of a small red JST ( except for the very minor increase in weight ) . It could be a problem ( heat/meltdown ) if it was the other way around : using a small red JST when you should be using an XT30 or XT60 or XT90 . It's all about amps ( flow ) , like trying to use a drinking straw when you should be using a garden hose . A good visual indicator of which connector to use is : if an ESC has thicker gauge wires ( garden hose ) , use a connector ( and battery ) that has the same gauge wires connected to it . If an ESC has thinner gauge wires ( drinking straw ) , use a connector ( and battery ) that has the same gauge wires connected to it .

I've settled on using small red JST for my smaller , lighter planes ( with small , light motors/ESC's ) ; and using XT60 for my larger , heavier planes ( with bigger , heavier motors/ESC's ) . Then when I buy batteries : I get small batteries with JST connectors , and larger batteries with XT60 connectors .


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