Building a Flite-Test Flyer Airplane from Speed-Build Kit and from Scratch - Page 4 - RC Groups
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May 02, 2018, 11:59 AM
IMO ( In My Opinion ) →
balsa or carbon's Avatar
For setting up receivers & servos ( and other 6v accessories ) on the work bench , you can use a 6v receiver battery . That way you don't have to use your ESC ( BEC ) & flight pack battery , and risk accidentally spinning up your motor/prop . This is the receiver battery I use :

Your local RC hobby shop may have one .
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May 03, 2018, 10:59 PM
Registered User
No one has mentioned that there is also the XT30 connector, the little brother to the XT60 connector. I would have chosen that over the XT60 and the JST, it seems there is a movement towards consolidation in the battery connector field, or at least I hope there is !
May 04, 2018, 09:20 AM
springer's Avatar
On that control rod issue, My fave way of doing them is a Z bend at servo, V bend near control surface for micro adjust and modified Z bend at control surface horn.

control wire bends (2 min 29 sec)
May 04, 2018, 10:35 AM
IMO ( In My Opinion ) →
balsa or carbon's Avatar
Originally Posted by Steelydanfan
No one has mentioned that there is also the XT30 connector, the little brother to the XT60 connector. I would have chosen that over the XT60 and the JST, it seems there is a movement towards consolidation in the battery connector field, or at least I hope there is !
XT30 was mentioned in post #15 .
May 04, 2018, 11:37 AM
BSquared18's Avatar
you can use a 6v receiver battery
Thanks for the tip, BorC!

May 10, 2018, 11:17 AM
BSquared18's Avatar

Power Pod, Part One

I thought I’d better update my build thread so folks don’t think I’ve given up.

For anyone who may not be familiar with it, Flite-Test’s power pod is the guts containing motor, ESC, servos, etc. that can be swapped from one airframe to another. In past discussions on these forums, it had been suggested for more than one reason that the pod should be dispensed with. Being new to all this, I decided to go ahead and build the pod. At some point down the road, I may decide, as others have, not to keep using it.

I started the YouTube video titled Flite Test - Power Pod - SBK - BUILD and tried to follow Josh’s instructions for removing the foam from the pod’s grooves. I quickly found that because I had replaced the foamboard’s backing paper with a packing-tape strip, the foam strip did not separate the way shown in the video; the packing tape’s adhesive is much stronger than that of the paper backing.

Side Walls

First, I removed some of the groove material with a blade (Fig. 1). But I quickly realized the blade might cut into the tape hinge backing. So, I hot-glued a thin strip of sandpaper to a piece of foam that is the same width as the groove (Fig. 2). I sanded the foam out of the groove (Fig. 3) until it was possible to bend the sides of the pod to a 90-degree angle.

Aside: The Flyer’s fuselage is similarly constructed. I decided (unless someone suggests otherwise) to use a different method when I get to that step: bend a section until it breaks apart (Fig. 4), remove the groove filler, position the two pieces so that they are the correct distance apart, and then add the packing-tape hinge (instead of adding the tape at the beginning).

Back to the current build: Once the pod’s grooves were cleaned out, I folded and hot-glued the pod’s sides as instructed in Josh’s video.


In the FT video, attaching the firewall takes a few seconds. It turned out to take a lot longer for me. My research found a lot of people on forums and YouTube videos who felt the default firewall setup was too weak. Numerous solutions were proposed for strengthening the firewall.

I started a discussion thread titled: FliteTest-Powerpod-Firewall-Reinforcement. The thread generated a lot of very useful information.

Balsa or Carbon makes a very good point: “If your plane goes into the ground nose first, the first thing to hit the ground is going to be the motor/prop. If the firewall and its attachment to the foam airframe crumple, it may absorb the impact.... and prevent damage to the motor.

If the firewall and its attachment to the foam airframe are reinforced (more rigid) to prevent crumpling..... the motor is more likely to be damaged.” (In other words, when building the front of the plane, you may have to choose between saving the motor or the frame.)

This concept became my guiding principle for trying to minimize damage to the motor and plane’s front end. Of all the ideas presented, the one I like a lot is described by rotagen. He glues the firewall to a piece of the very spongy foam sometimes used to pack sensitive items. That foam in turn is glued to a piece of regular foam shaped like the firewall (Figs. 5, 6 and 7). That piece of foam is attached to the power pod the same way the firewall normally is (Fig. 8). Thus, there is a light-weight cushion designed to crumple in a crash, absorbing some of the impact.

Psychedvike mentions that Gorilla glue bonds hardwood to spongy foam much better than hot glue. I tested both methods and found that to be the case. Hot glue didn’t work at all well. So I used Gorilla glue for firewall to spongy and spongy to regular foam.

Another change I made was to replace the plywood firewall with one made from Masonite hardwood. I chose hardwood because some users have mentioned that the plywood firewall provided in the FT kit tends to delaminate (separate). The hardwood weighs a bit more than the plywood but not much more. Hopefully the additional rigidity won’t cause a problem in a crash.


To add some eye appeal without adding much weight, I printed a red decal rectangle on a scrap of decal paper (Fig. 9). From this rectangle, I cut out a strip to wrap around the firewall, spongy cushion and regular foam piece; let’s call those parts the cowling.

I scored the decal’s backing paper so that it could be bent at right angles at each corner of the cowling. I was careful to avoid cutting into the decal while scoring. Following the same decaling procedure described in an earlier post, I sprayed adhesive on the decal face, wrapped the strip around the cowling, dampened and removed the backing, and used a hair dryer to dry the decal. The decal adhered very well to the surfaces. In my opinion, the decaling gives the cowling a more professional, unified look (Fig. 10).

Next, I attached the newly decaled cowling to the pod. Instead of using hot glue (as suggested in Josh’s video), I used Gorilla glue for greater strength. It did an excellent job.

Packing-Tape Reinforcement

On the Flite-Test power-pod build video HERE at about 2 minutes 30 seconds, the use of packing tape to reinforce the power pod begins.

Instead of the heavy, reinforced packing tape shown in the video, I decided to use light-weight clear tape to save weight and improve the pod’s appearance. I also took a bit more time than Josh trimming the tape so that it fit better.

The Motor

The next step was to mount the motor onto the firewall. First, I threaded the three motor wires through the hole in the lower-right-hand (when looked at from the front) corner of the cowling. (Previously, I had tested to make sure the hole was large enough for the three wires. They need to be threaded one at a time.)

The motor provided in the Flite-Test kit is different from the one shown in the video. Unlike the video one, the screws for the provided one are inserted from the rear instead of the front. Two things helped me with this step. First, I rubbed a magnet on the Allen wrench to magnetize it so that a steel hex screw would stick to it (Fig. 11). This step made it easier to insert the Allen wrench through the opening in the back of the cowling and line up the hex screw with the screw hole.

Another help was using painter’s tape to hold a small LED flashlight at the rear of the pod so that it illuminated the screw holes while I lined them up (Fig. 12).

Keeping the first screws a bit loose helped for positioning the motor to insert the other screws.

Lemon Receiver

The next step shown in the Flite-Test video is connecting the ESC, receiver and battery together and testing the motor.

But first, I needed to decide what to do about the Lemon receiver. Although the Lemon is very highly regarded, it’s also very naked. A little research turned up several options for protecting the RX, including heat-shrink tubing.

Some searching in my boxes of this-and-that found a plastic case for a microcassette tape. With a little cutting and taping here and there, I was able to turn it into a protective case for the RX (Fig. 13). I added a label to help me remember which prong goes with which operation (Fig. 14). At about 0.20 ounces, the case seemed like a worthwhile addition.

Motor Runup

I connected the motor to the ESC, receiver and battery, bound the transmitter to the receiver, and, hurray, the motor responded as expected (Fig. 15).

Power Pod Build to be continued.

Last edited by BSquared18; May 10, 2018 at 04:58 PM.
May 11, 2018, 08:59 AM
Registered User
I think that's cool that you are sharing your experience with FT builds BSquared18. Especially good for new people stepping on board.

So far I'm on FT build number 5 and no doubt, other folks have built more than me. Not sure why some would want the power pod to be dispensed with but then again, I'm not sure why some people think the earth is flat either. I'm sure they have their reasons though. I initially thought of of having a power pod for each plane (I'm setting out to build a bunch of their airplanes) but with the way things are right now with finances and life changes, I'm going to swap the power pod to different airframes. More or less, what Josh's intention on the design was.

I found it easier to just to purchase Flitetest laser cut firewalls rather than cutting my own. You can get like a pack of them for $5.

Yeah Lemon receivers like to be naked don't they? lol. I use Lemon receivers too...never had an issue. I ended up using a big piece of heat shrink tubing for mine.
May 11, 2018, 03:41 PM
BSquared18's Avatar


Before continuing with the power pod, I decided to finish working on the wing.

As instructed in the FT Flyer video, I used the power pod to determine the wing’s dihedral and placed a bead of hot glue along the space on the bottom side of the wing where the two wing sections connect.

Reinforcing the Wing

In my thread titled Microlite Ironed onto Foam?, balsa or carbon suggests that because I’ve removed all the backing paper from the wing, it might be a good idea to reinforce it with carbon-fiber rods. He says, “I attach the spar with three spots of hot glue (left side, center, and right side), then tape it down with Scotch Extreme Shipping tape.”

Having read on some forum thread that 2mm carbon fiber rods are sometimes used for wing spars, I ordered a bunch of them.

I started another thread yesterday titled Feedback on Wing Strengthening Idea. A lot of very useful information was provided by several forum members. Among the comments: 2mm may be two small; the supports are better positioned on the top of the wing; and hot glue may not hold.

However, I decided to live dangerously a bit: 2mm carbon rods attached to the bottom of the wing with hot glue and joined by a bent tube made from a small wall anchor (Fig. 1). My thinking is that because of the light wing loading and relatively slow flight of this bird, I might get away with hot glue and thinner carbon-fiber rods. We’ll see; to be reported down the road. The rods are cemented into the bent tube with strong epoxy (Fig. 3.)

I chose to place the rods on the bottom of the wing instead of the top because one forum member had indicated (not in the thread cited above) that they would be more effective there. Whether or not that is true, at the very least the bent tube will be out of sight and out of the wind stream.

Fig. 4 shows the finished wing temporarily joined to the power pod. The hot glue can clearly be seen. I cut small notches in the power pod to seat the carbon-fiber rods.

Last edited by BSquared18; May 11, 2018 at 04:03 PM.
May 15, 2018, 08:53 AM
BSquared18's Avatar

Power Pod, Part Two

The next step was the landing gear. I discovered right away that because I used light-weight packing tape on the pod sidewalls instead of the heavier tape shown in the FT video, when I tried to stretch the landing-gear rubber band over the BBQ skewers, the pressure caused them to start tearing the sidewalls. A drop of hot glue here and there reinforced the area around each skewer and solved the problem.

Fig. 1 shows the rubber band landing gear tie-down recommended in the video.

Fig. 2 shows the tire/wheel setup: a small piece of tubing between the wire bend and the wheel, and a small glob of hot glue to hold the wheel on its axle. As you can see, I chose to use commercial light-weight foam tires instead of the ones supplied with the kit. Just personal preference.

UPDATE: Later, I decided to replace the glob of hot glue with a thin strip of electrical tape wrapped around the axle and reinforced with hot glue.

Before installing the electronics in the pod, there are some items yet to be delivered. So, I’m going to work on the rear section of the Flyer in the meantime.

Last edited by BSquared18; Jun 04, 2018 at 12:45 PM.
May 18, 2018, 08:14 AM
BSquared18's Avatar

Flyer Rear Section

Improved Method for Removing Groove Strips

As I mention in Post #51, I decided to use a different method to remove the groove strips:

- Use a blade to separate the groove strip from the rest of the foam (Fig. 1).

- Place a strip of packing tape on the cutting board, adhesive side face up. Anchor both ends with painterís tape.

- Place a straight edge on the tape, tilted so that it doesnít grab the tape.

- Cut a narrow strip of tape.

- Center the groove strip on the tape without pressing it down.

- Butt the adjacent parts of the fuselage up against the groove strip and press them down on the tape.

- When both sections are positioned, carefully remove the groove strip (Fig. 2).

Fig. 3 shows the rear fuselage ready to fold and glue.

Fig. 4 shows the rear fuselage section completed.

Removable Fin/Rudder

My wife and I like to carry some of our planes with us when we drive on long trips and stay at a destination for an extended period. Out minivan usually is very full. I'd like to be able to pack up the Flyer to bring along. One problem is the vertical fin, which as designed is permanently installed. If there was a way to build the Flyer so that the fin could be removed, then the model could be packed in a much smaller space.

After not finding anything at forums about a modification, I came up with a method that seems to work (Fig. 5). On each side of the fin is a strip of spongy foam made wide enough so that it puts pressure to hold the fin securely. there are notches in each piece of spongy foam. The notches are located where the zip-tie strips pass through from one side wall to the other.

Two sharpened zip tie strips with the fastener ends cut off are pushed through one side wall, the fin, and the other side wall. The unsharpened end of each zip tie has been scored and reinforced with packing tape so that the end can be bent down. The bendable end serves as a basic but effective stop to keep the zip tie from being pulled through the side wall.

All the parts of the modification are shown in Fig. 6. The pieces of foam and the two zip ties weigh a total of 0.1 ounces.

The steps are:

1. Pass the zip-tie strips in one side wall, through the fin, and out the other side wall. To equalize wind resistance, push the second zip tie from the opposite direction of the first zip tie (Fig. 5).

2. Make sure the bendable end of each zip tie is bent down and pushed up against the side wall.

3. Insert the spongy foam cushions as shown in Fig. 5. They are notched where the zip ties pass through.

4. Slide a zip-tie fastener on each of the two zip ties.

5. Push the fastener toward the side wall. When it is flush, push it a bit more until you hear a click. That means a bit more tension is being placed on the spongy foam and the fin.

6. To remove a zip tie, straighten the bend in the bendable end and push/pull the zip tie out from the side that has the fastener on the zip tie.

For a discussion on this topic, go to: Flite-Test Forums: Removable Fin on Flyer?

Zip-Tie Tail Skid

For the fin to fit through the slot in the horizontal tail, the tail skid needs to be as narrow as the foam it is attached to. Instead of the BBQ skewer that Flite Test recommends adding to the foam tail skid, I used a section of sturdy zip tie cut narrow enough to pass in and out of the fin's slot. For added strength, I glued a second layer to zip tie to the first one. The tail skid is shown in Fig. 6.

One advantage, I think, over the BBQ skewer is that the zip-tie skid has spring to it to help absorb shocks.

Figs. 7-9 show a few views of the assembled model.

The next step will be to add the electronics and control devices.

Until then,
Last edited by BSquared18; May 19, 2018 at 07:43 AM.
May 18, 2018, 11:55 AM
IMO ( In My Opinion ) →
balsa or carbon's Avatar
Flight report please , with video if possible !
May 18, 2018, 12:58 PM
BSquared18's Avatar
Looks like you're providing the popcorn. Great!

Once the guts of the plane are installed, we'll see how this sucker flies. But outdoor yard activities take priority for a while; otherwise, it will be winter again. That's life in the great North-Central.

I'll be sure to post a maiden-flight video and link it in this thread, with all the warts.

Jun 02, 2018, 02:28 PM
BSquared18's Avatar

The Guts & Enhancements


It’s been a while since my last post. Spending more time building than writing.


The next build step was to add the ESC, RX and battery to the power pod.

I had noticed that without these components the model was very nose heavy. So, I decided to first tape the electrical components and control rods to the outside of the model to get an idea of where the electrical components will need to be positioned inside for proper balance (Figs. 1 and 2). Naturally, the battery, being the heaviest component, has a major effect on the CG. Therefore, it ended up far aft on the model. (I’m not sure why, in the FliteTest build video for the Flyer, they were able to place the battery so far forward.)

Velcro was used to attach the ESC, in case it needed to be repositioned in the future.

The RX, being so light-weight, can either be left unattached to the pod or minimally attached with something like a loop of painter’s tape underneath it.
After moving the components around some, I was able to achieve an acceptable CG balance (Fig. 3).

I chose to place the RX as far away as possible from the ESC. I had read that an ESC can interfere with an RX; not sure it that’s a big issue but wanted to err on the cautious side. Also, my understanding is that the ESC can generate heat that could damage a nearby RX.

Because I was placing the RX far aft in the pod, I had to cut out a section of the fuselage to accommodate the RX (Fig. 5).

Even with that change, I decided that the RX’s plastic case that I had built to protect it (discussed HERE in this thread) was too bulky. Having seen a video on using heat-shrink tubing to protect the Lemon RX, I decided to go that route (Figs. 6 and 7). The process is discussed in detail in my thread “How to Shrink Large Heat-Shrink Tubing?” The first image shows before the shrinking. Note the notches to accommodate the antennas. The second image shows after shrinking. To provide additional strength, hot glue was added where the antennas protrude from the wrap.

To do the heat-shrink job, I added to my arsenal of tools a heat gun (Fig. 8). The gun has a rheostat rotary dial, which helps to set the desired temperature. I’m sure I’ll have more uses for it down the road.

Near the RX, I added a cheat sheet to help me remember the sequence of output ports (Fig. 9).

The battery was secured with velcro to the bottom of the power pod. Being a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy, I took advantage of the protruding BBQ skewer to add a rubber band for additional support (Fig. 10).


Next I added the control horns, servos and control rods.

Fig. 11 shows another memory aid of mine: “E” for elevator and “R(A)” to remind me that the rudder output uses the aileron channel so that both controls are on the same stick.

As is recommended on a forum thread, I used low-strength, purple LocTite 222 to secure the nuts and screws on the servo linkage stoppers. I found that using a round toothpick with the ends clipped off worked well for getting small amounts of liquid out the LocTite tube without spilling (Fig. 12).

With everything installed, the CG balance was where I wanted it to be (Fig. 13).

Additional Insurance Measures

I inspected the model, looking for potential weak points. I came up with a few additions:

Wheel Hubs. In the power-pod build video, they suggest using drops of hot glue on the landing-gear axles to retain the wheels. I didn’t trust hot glue for that job, so I wound a narrow strip of electrical tape around each axle and reinforced it with hot glue (Fig 14).

Rear-Skewer Holes Reinforcement. I’ve seen a couple of different suggestions for reinforcing the rear holes that a skewer goes through to hold the power pod to the rest of the plane; for example, using a piece of a plastic credit card. I chose instead to use a small amount of hot glue around each hole (Fig. 15).

Tail-Fin Foam Retainers. As mentioned in an early post to this thread, the tail section has been modified so that the vertical fin can be removed for travel.

The spongy-foam retainers (Fig. 16) are held in place by the force of the tightened zip ties. In addition, I decided to add a strip of low-strength double-sticky tape to the bottom of each foam retainer to further prevent them from shifting.

Additional Wing-to-Pod Support. The default design has the wing/fuselage/tail assembly attached to the power pod with two skewers at the front and one at the rear. I decided to add a third support, a piece of fish line tied to each carbon-fiber rod support under the wing and then those strings tied together under the fuselage (Fig. 17). They add no weight and cannot be seen, but they may help to prevent the assembly flying off the power pod.

Tube Retainers on Rear Skewer. The power pod is attached to wing/fuselage/tail assembly at the rear by a BBQ skewer. As mentioned earlier, I’ve attached a rubber band to the skewer to help support the battery. I wanted to add a cap to each end of the skewer to retain the rubber band and keep the skewer from sliding out. Because I didn’t have any tubing of the correct diameter. I took some heat-shrink tubing and shrank it in steps on a piece of skewer until it reached the correct tightness so as to not slide easily (Fig. 18).

Figure 19 shows the nearly-completed model hanging from the ceiling in my office/workshop. I say “nearly completed” because there is one more step, which I’ll discuss later.

Until then,
Last edited by BSquared18; Jun 02, 2018 at 02:34 PM.
Jun 02, 2018, 06:08 PM
Registered User
I hope you are going to fit a canopy? The notch along the bottom edge was for a control rod. On the completed Dart you can just see the ejector seat sign, recommended for beginner pilots....
Jun 02, 2018, 06:54 PM
BSquared18's Avatar
I hope you are going to fit a canopy?
You guessed my secret "next step"! I'm in the process of making the canopy now. Will report back. Do you read tea leaves too?


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