Electric flight progression - How far has it come in just the last few years? - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales
Thread Tools
Feb 12, 2006, 08:48 PM
Giddy up!
Sal C's Avatar

Electric flight progression - How far has it come in just the last few years?

I searched to see if someone has started a thread like this but have come up empty so here goes...

Having never flown r/c aircraft as a kid but always wanting to I searched the internet looking for a electric indoor heli after seeing one in a SkyMall magazine on an airplane six years ago. I stumbled upon this website and was immediately intrigued by electric flight. After researching and coming to my senses that helis were not a good start I decided to try an electric airplane and never looked back.

Today however I did look back, back to the summer of 2000 when I flew my first electric (a DMA Dragonfly). Satisfied with a successful first step into r/c I wanted something that looked more like a "real" plane and would also take more of a beating since I decided to teach myself how to fly, enter the JKA T-52. Now this was the plane responsible for the real start of my addiction.

Anyway moving closer to the topic at hand. When I started flying back then I basically flew S400 can motors running on 600AE Nicads. I was getting 2-3 minute flights and I thought it was great, I said to myself 2 minutes is fine with me for a flight. I brought 6 or 7 packs with me to the field (along with a charger running off my car battery). Brushless motors were around but back then were for the rich and famous. Probably a year later is when I decided to try brushless. What an improvement, got much more power and longer flights because of efficiency. About at this point it's summer 2002 and yet another technological marvel, NiMH batteries capable of delivering more current. These were the Wattage branded HECell 1100's (remember the "Powered by HECell" slogan?), same size and weight as the 600ae's but more power and almost twice the flight time. Now this was the cat's meow - 7 to 8 minute flights! How can is get any better? Lipos were on the horizon, tons of new and cheaper brushless motors (remember the Mega 16/15/x series entry?), better esc's, etc. Look at our sector of the hobby now, it's come a long way in a little time. That's where I stop and leave it up to you fellow Ezoners / RCGRoupers (remember we were Ezoners back then?) to chime in and reminisce. But let's keep it to the "explosive" phase of electric's, the recent years not twenty or thirty years ago. My point is how far it's come so fast. Also don't be afraid to tell where you think it's going from here...
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Feb 12, 2006, 08:52 PM
Giddy up!
Sal C's Avatar
I start it off, remember this thread?

Feb 12, 2006, 09:59 PM
D.W. Schmidt
I agree! My first electric was in 1989 - a Kyosho Cardinal 3 channel ARF with a geared, brushed 05 motor, Futaba electric radio and 1200 mAh 7 suc-C cell pack. I was in high school and had little extra money to spare, so a peak detector charger was still a dream. At the time, an Astro Flight Cobalt 05 was top of the line and I still remember when dad suprised me with one! (I never really played sports, so R/C airplanes was how dad and I bonded.)

When Aveox came out with their first brushless motor, I thought there could be no further improvement in electric flight!

I actually never had a Nimh pack. College, pilot training and endless TDY really took a lot of time. In pilot training, I built a Hanger 9 cub, Maxcim motor system and 21 - 2000mAh Nicads, and a Astro 112D peak detector. Once again, I thought I had peaked in electric flight. Then I bought a little Elfi park flyer and a small geared Hacker brushless motor with some 350 mAh Nicad packs. Last summer I finally took the plung and went Lipo. Now the Lipos are getting cheaper, lighter and more powerful for the money.

If I could have seen what is available today as a 16 year old kid, I probably would have died of anticipation.


Feb 12, 2006, 10:03 PM
characters welcome!
Mark Wood's Avatar
I bought a Zagi as my second plane. The first was a Multiplex Teddy but I had a real hard time answering my friend's questions, "What's it called?" Quickly on to the Zagi.
Soon after I built the Zagi we discovered the Radio Shack 1420mah AAs that they were selling for their cars. Some character named AndyW I believe was one of the first so I followed and amazed folk in the PacNorWest at my long flight times. Not long after that, the same AndyW comes up with this flat-sided little motor called a Turbo 450 and we used 800ARs and 1400AEs to feed the little beast spinning Aeronaut carbon 6.5x4s or 6x5s. Another mega leap. Now mind you this is only six years ago. We now have flying wings ala Chris Klique doing over 170 mph!
I was actually a follower getting on the brushless bandwagon and distinctly remember Sal and the T-52 days but oh we have caught up to the point where not only am I a diehard LiPo user but also recognize and use the great high end nimh coming from GP and IP when appropriate. I still have a T-52 kit and a couple JKAerotech E-plane kits stashed. During the Garrison Aerodrome days of the great Push-E-Cat I also stashed a Manx which I also remember Sal building and flying with great success. This one however will be using a Neu 1105/3.5y to see if it will explode in mid air.
Extra strapping tape anyone?


(Btw: I still have that Kyosho Zero kit stashed, Sal.)
Feb 12, 2006, 10:28 PM
Heli's rule!
dacaur's Avatar
Well, the other day I was reading an old copy (july 2003) of backyard flyer.... all of the reviews use brushed motors and nimh's..... on only 2 of 8 chargers they have listed the "charger basics" article even support lipo batteries....

nowdays some reviews dont even test performance with the included brushed motors with some kits and jump right to brushless....
Feb 12, 2006, 11:04 PM
Giddy up!
Sal C's Avatar

I never really thought I'd say it here but we go back aways don't we? (ok six years at least). I still have my original T-52 and the Manx is still flyable only I haven't flown it in a while. The old Multiplex Turbo 450 huh? That was a pretty powerful little bugger...

Btw for you: I sold both of my Zero kits and missed them enough to pick one up here in a swap meet (lucky find). What say we build 'em?
Feb 12, 2006, 11:30 PM
Registered User
BEC's Avatar
I don't think you really want me to get started along these lines....seeing as I've been flying electric power since - oh - 1980, with aspirations to do so before that. Things have changed so fast in the last couple of years that it's become impossible to keep up. A meet I started not long after that will have it's 24th annual outing this summer (though I stopped being the CD after the 20th anniversary).

The thing that boggles my mind is that e-power is now becoming the dominant type, at least if one goes by the proportion of ads in the magazines. I didn't think I'd ever live to see THAT day.
Feb 13, 2006, 08:13 AM
Registered User
My local hobby shops business last year was dominated by electrics.
Feb 13, 2006, 08:35 AM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
Well electric power systems seem to have now 'advanced' to the point where any 'thing', made from almost any material, can be made to 'fly', just put a powerful enough motor and lightweight lipo's on it.

Thankfully there are still a lot of modellers out there that can still design and build models that can fly because of their aerodynamics, and can select just enough power to show their models flying capability.

What!!!!, me not liking profile deprons, flying 'boats', models that gyrate like 'helicopters' but with wings on, ?

What ever gave you that idea, the're advancement in modelling, aren't they?
Feb 13, 2006, 08:39 AM
Giddy up!
Sal C's Avatar
Originally Posted by BEC
I don't think you really want me to get started along these lines....seeing as I've been flying electric power since - oh - 1980, with aspirations to do so before that. Things have changed so fast in the last couple of years that it's become impossible to keep up....

This is exactly my point for starting this thread. "Things have change so fast in the last couple of years...".

You are one of the guys that have been around this site for a long time, you know what I mean.

Maybe I should have titled this thread "Remember the old days of the Ezone?" ...
Feb 13, 2006, 09:46 AM
Registered User
Want to hear something funny, I was in a local hobby store a few weeks ago helping my buddy get started in the hobby. We picked out the slow stick and I suggested the 2100 mah Li-po pack, but the owner of the store said that pack is much to big and weighs too much for that plane!! Back in 2000 my I bought my first Pico Stick and it flew on a nicad pack that could of weighed as much as that that li-poly pack. (For those of you who don't pre date the Slow Stick, the Pico Stick is less than half the size of the Slow Stick)

I think in a sense people have gotten totaly spoiled with very light li-po packs and think that models could not even fly without them. I have a 40 size conversion where I'm using 12 sub C nimh cells. I've had countless people tell me that I need to upgrade it to li-polys. I ask why, and they state those cells are too heavy. But little do they know I have the pack up against the firewall just to balance the model out.

But back to progression, I was able to convert a 40 size to electric with an investment not much more than the glow equivalent, and still having the power of brushless. Ten minute flights without the oily mess, got to love progression.

PS, I remember the "Throw away your S400" thread like it was yesterday
Last edited by fill; Feb 13, 2006 at 09:51 AM.
Feb 13, 2006, 10:23 AM
characters welcome!
Mark Wood's Avatar
I liked the comment in the first part of that thread from Stregone:

"I wonder when someone will make some real tiny brushless motors like those in the ips systems. Imagine being able to run 8-10 cells no problem in a TM and still never have to replace the motor? Now that would be cool ."

I've got the little Feigao and it's in my Tiger Moth.

Feb 13, 2006, 10:59 AM
A Clinger
rclark's Avatar
I started in 2001 with a Firebird XL, then the eternal Sky Scooter Pro, and then the 'ultimate trainer' the Switchback 3D (still have that plane ... actually still have all three of the above) ... and in that short time period we've went to 'some' choices to, well, almost 'to many' choices (motors, batteries, ESCs, etc.) . With the 'good' NiMh cells and LiPo our power source is no longer and issue ... lots of choices here. BL Motors for every type of plane are available. With Spectrum ramping up, the Freq clash issues are being addressed. Come a long way for sure.... All we need is more kits! Not that I am running short mind you (I have 5 yet to build) and several I have an 'eye' on LOL ....

Mega 16/15/x series entry
And I bought a /5 not to long after. Still one of the best 400/480 replacement motors out there in my experience... Have /4 now as well.

Speaking of which, I just saw an article in one of the airplane mags (forget which now) for a 32" bipe plan built plane powered by a glow motor that weighed in at ~50oz AUW . My JB bipe weights in at 24oz with a 37" wingspan, and my 55" CAP comes in at 46oz ..... Makes one wonder which direction the glow part of hobby is heading! Anyway ...

Anyway, looking forward to more flying in the near and far future. Performance anymore is not an issue nor is flight time.... The only thing that could be better is prices for LiPo .
Last edited by rclark; Feb 13, 2006 at 11:04 AM.
Feb 13, 2006, 11:05 AM
Registered User
Just by reading the first few pages of the "Throw away your S400" tread, I've noticed a couple things that have changed in the last few years.
1) efficiency and flight time are no longer a major topic of discussion.
Out runners pull more current, but we don't care because of the extra juice li-polys gives us.
2) $50 was considered "dirt cheap" for a cobalt brushed motor, and $80 was a major bargain for a brushless motor, boy have the times changed.
Feb 13, 2006, 11:15 AM
Giddy up!
Sal C's Avatar
Don't forget advances in airplane technology either. Shockflyers changed the world of foam forever. Guys like Bill Stevens changed balsa kit thinking by not making planes of heavy plywood. Depron and blue-cor planes are not just flat foam anymore. Planes being made from thin light EPP and taking scale shape as well. Basically these planes are getting better looking and lighter by the week...

Let's not forget edfs either...

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Brushless motor how to in Jan 05 Quiet & Electric Flight Mag rockbus Power Systems 0 Jan 11, 2005 09:30 PM
How far are you in LSF? SkyPyro Sailplane Talk 50 Jul 12, 2004 11:07 PM