F3 Building Clinic DVD Review

Previously, there were no real instructions on how to set up a molded or pre-built aircraft. Radio Carbon Art's F3 Building Clinic filled that void. Paul Naton shows what tools and processes are needed to assemble a high performance molded sailplane. Of course, the information goes beyond molded airplanes.



Venue:North America
Media:High Quality DVR
Format:DVD from Digital Master
Packaging:Standard DVD Case w/ Color Artwork
Run-time:Over 2 Hours
Price:$24.95 US
Available from:Radio Carbon Art

The opening sequence of Radio Carbon Arts latest DVD states the following: ďInformation presented on this DVD are for entertainment purposes only.Ē This isnít entirely correct. True, the DVD is entertaining, but itís much more than that. Itís a tool the modeler can use to outfit a new Molded or other high-end sailplane.

FLASH:In my teens of years writing, Iíve never made the following statement, but thatís how confident I am of this DVDís information....To save yourself a lot of time, stop reading this review. Go purchase this DVD right NOW. Iím so confident that you will benefit from this DVD, that Iíll guarantee you'll learn something new from this DVD. No matter how long youíve been modeling, youíll benefit from F3 Building Clinic.

F3 Building Clinic is a two hour long DVD that takes you from box opening to flying, using the Soaring USA distributed Trinity F3F slope racing sailplane. Itís a common fact that many of todayís molded sailplanes have little or no instructions. There are a few planes, the Icon for example, that have excellent instructions, but they are the minority. And while one-line instructions are fine for those of us with years of assembly experience, itís not for the modeler buying their first molded plane. Also,written instructions are fine, but there is nothing like seeing the work performed in video vs. still photos. This is the video you've been asking for!

The F3 Building clinic offers information on custom wiring harnesses, correct servo geometry, custom battery pack construction, slop free linkages, servo installation in molded wings and fiberglass fuselages, nose weight and ballast installation, radio programming, tools and soldering, preflight and flying trim.

Tons to Learn!

The Right Stuff follows by showing the necessary/recommended tools for radio and ballast installation. The recommended tools are pretty much standard and the modeler will certainly have the majority of the recommended tools. While the builder may not have exactly what is recommended, some of the work can be completed with what you have on hand. One tool recommended is an automatic wire stripper. They are available at Radio Shack for about $12. Iíve had one of these for years and it sure makes prepping the wiring for soldering easy.

F3 Building Clinic opens with a short flying clip of the Soaring USA distributed Trinity slope racer and explains whatís in store for the rest of the DVD. Not only is Paul an excellent builder, he's a very smooth pilot too as can be seen in the opening sequences.

V-tails can be difficult to set up properly. Paul starts the assembly of the Trinity with V-tail installation. Even thought the actuator rods are installed at the factory, Paul explains how to install the rods in kits that donít have the rods installed. Soldering the balls to the actuator rod at the same height can be a problem for modelers. Paul shows an easy way to get the balls at the correct distance and without burning your hands or the model.

Slop-Free Linkages: Getting slop-free linkages is required for an airplane to respond and react the same way every time. The Trinity has an unusual feature in that the fuselage comes in three pieces, the nose cone, the nose section and the wing/tail section. The nose section is held on the wing/tail section via the wing bolts. Due to its narrow fuselage, Paul installs servos that normally would be mounted in the wings, as the servos are very thin. Honestly Iíd never even thought of installing that type of servo in the fuselage. It really is a great idea, typical of the type of ideas available in the DVD.

Unusual Sized Packs:

There are times the typical square or flat type battery packs just wonít fit properly in a sailplane. The 5-cell pack used in the Trinity falls in this category. Paul shows how to properly assemble an unusual shape 5-cell pack. While he uses tape to finish up the battery pack, I would have rather seen him use heat shrink tubing to seal the pack once itís finished.

The ďSoldering 101Ē chapter , is out of sequence in my opinion as it should have come before battery pack assembly. Still, excellent information is given in this chapter. I know many people have trouble soldering. I did too until about 3 years ago when I learned more about tinning the wire, the use of flux and having a high quality soldering iron. Youíll have all of that information after watching this chapter.

4, 6 or DB9 Pin?

4 and 6 pin and DB9 (computer) connectors are the normal connectors used to handle 4 or more servos in the wing, the following chapters are for you. I like the fact that he shows not only installing heat shrink tubing over the soldered area, but adding an addition piece of heat shrink over the soldered wires and then use hot glue as an additional strain relief. This will keep the soldered wires from breaking off due to side loads on the solder.

Wire you here?

A Wiring Harness need to be made in virtually every 2-4 or even 6 servo wing. If the manufacturer hasn't included one with the kit, you'll be required to make one. This can intimidate the new builder. Itís not really that difficult to make, but it does take some time and soldering skills. The soldering skills needed have been shown earlier. Now itís time to put the knowledge to work. The DVD covers how to create a wiring harness from scratch and how to get accurately aligned the wiring pins and receiver so when the wing tip is plugged in, it automatically plugs in the aileron servo.

OHM my

An Ohm Meter; do you know you should own and use one each time you assemble an aircraft with extended leads or modified wires? They are available for less than $4 but can be a requirement when installing servos that need extension wires soldered to them, or connections such as the Deans 4-pin connector. Youíll see exactly why and how to use this multifaceted tool in this chapter.

Direct Connection!

Another item Iíve never seen explained is how to power your servos directly off of the battery pack, without going through the receiver. I know there are commercial products available for too much money IMHO, but Paul shows how to wire the servos so they go through the switch and then the power comes directly from the battery without going through the receiver. A complete wiring diagram is shown in the DVD and a mock-up is also shown. I think this is a great idea. Following the above, the fuselage wiring is covered.

Nearly assembled

We are getting close to the end of the assembly portion of the DVD as Paul provides some excellent info on dealing with ballast tubes. Potting the nose cone allows the fuselage and nose cone to fit more closely together thereby increasing the strength of the front end of the fuselage.

Even though the Trinity is designed as a slope plane, itís strong enough to handle a winch or heavy duty zip launch. If you are going to use those methods of launching, youíll obviously need a tow hood installed. Many planes have issues getting a tow hook installed if the ballast tube is already installed. Paul shows an easy way to install the tow hook and still have a functioning ballast tube. Construction on the fuselage is just about finished. Using heat shrink and foam to secure items in the fuselage, the Trinity fuse is ready for wing installation and balancing.

The DVD recommends installing the servos and linkage in one half of the wing before setting up the other side. This is an excellent idea since it gives you an example to go off of when you finish the second side.

What's all the flap about?

Flap servo installation comes next. The Trinity comes with pre-routed servo openings. If your plane doesnít have the openings already cut, Paul shows how to use a Dremel with a router bit set to a shallow depth so you only go through the bottom skin and not the top skin. There are basically 4 ways flap linkages are installed; servo arm on the bottom with either top or bottom driven flaps, or servo arm on the top with either top or bottom driven flaps. The Trinity uses bottom driven servo arm and a top driven flap. Through the use of templates and a clear plastic square, the slot for the pushrodís clevis and control horn are cut with a Dremel. Once one of the flap servos is installed, a clear piece of mylar is used to make a template to show the control horn height and hole location, and the size and location of the clevis relief slot so they can be duplicated on the other wing. The initial idea was to use a nice servo mount for the JR 368 digital servo, but this caused the servo to hang below the wing surface. Instead, they were just epoxied in place. Donít worry about epoxying the servo in place. They actually come out pretty easily if they have to be removed.

The JR 168 digital aileron servos are installed using the correct sized servo mount from Craig Greening, which allows the servo to be removed with the removal of 3 screws. Again a template is used to assure the second aileron servo and control horn are installed in the same location. Having symmetrical servo installation makes trimming the plane easier as you wonít have to use some wild off-set or strange shaped mixing curve to deal with uneven servo hookups.

Even the best of kits sometimes require the builder to trim the servo cover before they can be installed properly. There is some good info given on how to get accurate fitting servo covers.

Get the lead in!

Raise your hand if you think you can just glue in the ballast tub and install the lead and fly? I used to think that too. However, the ballast weight has to be installed so it doesnít change the CG. As you can see, the ballast location is CG dependent. As an example, if you buy a plane from me and change the CG, youíll need to change the location of the ballast weight too. This is done with spacers. They can be made from wood, foam and other materials. The point is, know make sure the CG isnít changed when the ballast is installed.

Paint No Thang!

Since molded planes come in very few color variations, itís a good idea to add some type of graphics to differentiate your plane from other. This can be done through painting and colored vinyl tape. There are a number of modelers that can cut vinyl designs for you or you can make up some graphics on your computer and cut them out yourself. Itís your option.


The last things needed before the Trinity is ready to fly is to make sure the incidence is correct, the control throws are correct and symmetrical and that the plane is balanced properly. This is shown using commercially available hobby tools. There is a reference to another RCA DVD, Performance Tuning. I also recommend this DVD.

Actual Clips Off the Video, Courtesy of Radio Carbon Art


Servo Setup  1.98 MB
Soldering  3.09 MB
Nose cone  6.20 MB
Flight  5.38 MB


There you have it; as they say, ďfrom soup to nuts.Ē I've reviewed a number of Pauls DVD's and I think I own virtually every one he's made except for some of the early VHS copies. They are always informative and entertaining. This DVD though, is much more than entertainment. There are many years of experience shown in a 2-hour time span. Consider F3 Building Clinic a ďmust haveĒ tool in your modeling arsenalÖitís that good. And don't forget to tell the wife or girlfriend that they make a great Christmas gift!

Last edited by AMCross; Dec 17, 2006 at 04:59 PM..
Thread Tools
Dec 18, 2006, 06:44 AM
Registered User
Andy W's Avatar
Looks like another must-have for the collection!
Dec 18, 2006, 09:38 AM
RC Veteran
Jeremy Z's Avatar
To save yourself a lot of time, stop reading this review. Go purchase this DVD right NOW.
This part sounds more like an advertisement than a review, but the rest was very good. Nice job!
Dec 18, 2006, 10:38 AM
Registered User
R.M. Gellart's Avatar
I will back up George on this review, this video is great. Granted there are things i might do different, but i always like watching something like this just to see how someone else does things, and i can go back on this. It is like getting a set up for a radio from another guy, always different ways to do things.

Dec 18, 2006, 02:55 PM
Registered User
Another positive review here - when we will see some negative ones? But seriously, I think Paul Naton made another very good DVD (I haven't watched it).

The opening sequence of Radio Carbon Arts latest DVD states the following: ďInformation presented on this DVD are for entertainment purposes only.Ē
This is a little bit strange to me... So for what purposes we can't use those information?
Dec 18, 2006, 07:47 PM
infopimp's Avatar
How many moldie pilots-in-waiting got their first kit and were shocked at the lack of documentation? Pretty much all of them.

I have bought Paul's previous videos and will buy this one from him as well.

I think the only thing missing in these videos is scantily clothed babes. Other than that, they are perfect (and babes might be distracting actually).
Dec 19, 2006, 12:13 AM
RC Veteran
Jeremy Z's Avatar
Last edited by Jeremy Z; Dec 20, 2006 at 11:14 PM.
Dec 19, 2006, 05:50 AM
turn, turn, turn.
Kenny Sharp's Avatar
I own this DVD as well, and I must say I'm impressed too.

Keep them comming Paul. I, for one, will keep buying them.
Dec 19, 2006, 01:06 PM
Registered User
gavoss's Avatar
Thread OP
Jermey Z et al., Reviewers get paid exactly zero to write reveiws here on RCGroups. This of course means our salary doubles with each review we turn in. Not only that, we'll have infintely more when we finish than from when we started! (Billy Preston's tune "Nothing from nothing leaves nothing chimes in in the background) Sometimes we purchase the product and sometimes we get them gratis. Either way, the many hours it takes to write reviews, photograph the parts during assembly etc take much addional time above the normal time it takes to build.

So, the original comment this response is answering (To save yourself a lot of time, stop reading this review. Go purchase this DVD right NOW.) are my words and they haven't been purchased. I simply felt that this DVD is a must have for any new comer.

I've been in the model airplane hobby since the late 60's and I started building from scratch with no real instructions. If you hand me a set of plans and a box, I can build the plane. Heck, if you show me a photo and tell me how big you want the plane I can do that too for that matter. However, I know there are those that don't know how to scratch build or can't get along without a set of building instruction. This DVD is as close to a generic set of building instructions as I've seen.

If you thought it is all hype, I'll make a challange: buy the DVD and watch it. If you don't learn something from it, return it to Paul and I'll pay the cost of the DVD, and it's shipping both ways. I'm that confident that you will learn something new. I figure if I learned something after 48 years of gluing balsa, ply, tissue and dope, monokote, FG and virtually every other normal (and some not so normal) hobby related materials, I learned a bunch from the tape. I know you will too!

Szymon Bartus, thanks for checking in from Poland! As for it being a positive review, I always allow the manufacturer an opportunity to correct a problem I found in the review, before completing the review. As an example, if a series of bulkheads are too narrow I send a note to the manufacturer and tell them they have a problem with them and allow them to make the corrections and then send me the new parts so I can verify they made the corrections. This does a couple of things. The most important is THE PROBLEM GETS FIXED BEFORE THE REVIEW IS TURNED IN!

Next, there are ways to say something was wrong and it was corrected without making the manufacture look bad, and then there are other ways!

Example Problem: the ribs on a kit with a constant chord wing are of varying height.

Good response: "The #4-6 ribs are larger than the rest of the ribs. They needed a lot of sanding to get them to their correct size. Since the wing is of constant chord, where all the wing ribs should be identical, this is a major problem considering today's manufacturing techniques. The manufacturer has been notified and corrected the problem in the next kit run."

Bad Response: "The only reason I finished this review is because the editor made me. Several of the wing ribs required an excessive amount of sanding to make them work properly. The wing needed nearly 1/2 an hour more labor sanding the incorrect height rib. Come on, the ribs should all be the same height! You'd think the company could at least get that part right.

Both responses tell you that a couple of the ribs need sanding and the problem needs to be corrected. The first answer benefited everyone, including the modeler.

The second response, may also have caused the problem to be corrected, but caused the manufacture to pull thier advertising from the magazine.

Note: This is a real example, not something I've made up!

Have a great Christmas!

George Voss
Associate Editor
RC Groups

OK Paul, Please send me the title to the new Ferarri since I've fulfilled my contract. ...JUST KIDDING!
Last edited by gavoss; Dec 19, 2006 at 04:50 PM.
Dec 19, 2006, 04:21 PM
RC Veteran
Jeremy Z's Avatar
George - that was a great response. I know how you feel, as I'm a reviewer here too.

Anyhow, my point was that if you straight out tell someone to go and buy something, you lose a bit of credibility even if it came from your heart, because it raises eyebrows. (as demonstarted by Szymon's post) I believe you, as I've been in your shoes. I may just buy that DVD before I purchase my first "proper" sailplane.

I was trying to give constructive feedback. I just wanted to point out that from an outside viewpoint, it raises eyebrows. The fact that you are willing to put your money where your mouth (fingers) is, just proves that it came from your heart.
Dec 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
Registered User
gavoss's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks for the kind comments. Actually I wanted to put the guarantee in the text but the managment said they weren't entirely comfortable with the statement. We have to give our opinion of the products we review and honestly, this was the best bit of information I've seen, so I put my $ where my mouth was so to speak.

Sure, Paul and I are friends and I see him every 2-4 years at some event around the west-midwest, but the comments were entirely mine. I can see where it'll raise eyebrows but the good thing is we have this forum for our comments and people can ask questions or make comments, like you and Szymon made, and we can air the subject out. As a reviewer, it takes a lot of time to earn the public's trust. I've been writing for quite a while now and it's alway nice to hear from people at events and what have you, saying they read your stuff, used your suggestions and got along better with something.

Merry Christmas to all!
Dec 21, 2006, 05:40 AM
jcosta's Avatar

Never put vinyl graphics on a molded wing!!!!

You are completely changing the performance of the wing profile.

Do a search on "turbulators" and you'll see why this is a huge mistake...
Dec 21, 2006, 10:47 AM
Registered User
gavoss's Avatar
Thread OP
jcosta, we can all agree that adding something to the surface of any flying surface creates a turbulator, however some are good and some are bad as far as performance goes.

Typical vinyl graphics are .002-.005" thick. I'd venture to say that 99.9% of us will NOT recognize the difference that small of a change will make.

This is of course defeating the purpose of a molded wing since we want the airfoil to be as accurate as possible to achieve the maximum from the profile. On a built up or vacuum bagged wing, a single swipe of sandpaper will change the surface the amount a vinyl graphic will.

Excellent point though, thanks. gv
Last edited by gavoss; Dec 21, 2006 at 11:00 AM.
Dec 21, 2006, 11:05 AM
jcosta's Avatar
Originally Posted by gavoss
jcosta, we can all agree that adding something to the surface of any flying surface creates a turbulator, however some are good and some are bad as far as performance goes.

Typical vinyl graphics are .002-.005" thick. I'd venture to say that 99.9% of us will recognize the difference that small of a change will make.

This is of course defeating the purpose of a molded wing since we want the airfoil to be as accurate as possible to achieve the maximum from the profile. On a built up or vacuum bagged wing, a single swipe of sandpaper will change the surface the amount a vinyl graphic will.

Excellent point though, thanks. gv

Since we are talking about competition planes, some with very thin profiles, 0.002" in the wrong or right place can make the difference between a great plane and a bad one that anyone flying that sort of plane can notice. The thickness you mention is the same Thuro has told me to use for a turbulator on my Skorpion to increase the speed (one 3-4mm strip of thin sello tape or auto-trim tape) and improve thermal performance. Haven't done it yet because I want to time it in a race without the turbulator and then when the turbulator is installed.

I also have a remark on the DVD, but it's not exactly Paul's fault: the Trinity is one of the harder to assemble F3X planes, most are much easier. Some people may be scared by the amount of work needed to assemble a Trinity.

It takes me between one and two hours to assemble a Pike, or an Aris, or a Sting, including soldering the wiring harness (I use an X-Tra-Hand) and the battery pack.

A Trinity takes at least 2-3 times that.

Other than that, this DVD is great for people who are going to assemble a mouldie for the first time. For those who have done it a few times there are no surprises on the DVD. Except the use of servos with HS-125 mechanics (the DS-168 is an HS-125 with different electronics) when even Hitec aknowledges there is a problem with the outpur gear on these servos.

One missing chapter is a good chapter on repairs. I've seen many guys ready to throw away a perfectly repairable plane...
Dec 21, 2006, 12:05 PM
Registered User
gavoss's Avatar
Thread OP
A series of spoilers on the Eppler 214 on my Lovesong of 15 years ago transformed a very good flying plane into a race horse. However, they were .030-.040 tall to make the noticeable difference.

You are correct though that it will make a difference. If you can get the manufacturer to paint the model a different color or use a different pattern in the mold is certainly the best way to handle the graphics.

Before yellow became the popular color, I used it for all of my planes because everyone elses plane was white. Now, people are getting tired of yellow because there are many molded planes comeing out in yellow and everyone's plane looks alike. I'm sure you can see the need for non-identical color schemes. From your description it sounds like you like F3F slope racing where one pilot flies at a time, but a thermal plane is in the air with many at a time. Some different pattern will certainly help.

Have a great holiday and we appreciate your comments! Keep them coming. gv

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