How do I break the 80/20 rule and become a better builder? - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales
View Poll Results: Can I become a better builder??
Hell no, you're stuck as you are 1 2.86%
Maybe, if you put in a lot of work and effort 9 25.71%
Hell yes, anyone can become a master builder 19 54.29%
Why do you care, they FLY don't they? 5 14.29%
Stupid question, stupid poll 2 5.71%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 35. You may not vote on this poll

Thread Tools
Oct 23, 2008, 08:51 AM
Twisted and Confused
flyonline's Avatar

How do I break the 80/20 rule and become a better builder?

Don't get me wrong, I normally love the 80/20 rule - I am one of nature's 80/20 adherants. This means though that I'm good at most things, crap at some and great at only a few.

My planes show this perfectly, most are built to a flyable state and then get to the stage of 'I'll do that when I get a chance', though of course that rarely (never ) happens. Repairs are fix-it-til-it-flies course of action, which turns into a fix-it-til-it-flies-in-big-lift and the plane then progresses to the fly-it-til-it's-dead state.

So I want to turn out some nice scratch built stuff for a change, sure I've built 'em that fly but I must admit to excusing them to all that see them (usually involving a "lack the LHS" or the ".....wanted to get it sorted before I painted it").

Some of you out there are master craftsman building museum quality plugs, molds, planes and gear so I'm after some tips, suggestions, tools, whatever to help improve my building so I no longer have to think of excuses while pulling my planes out of the car.

Can it be done or am I stuck as I am??

Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Oct 23, 2008, 08:55 AM
Registered User
The more you do, the better you'll be

Of course - this will (in time) morph slowly into 'the older I get the faster I was'
Oct 23, 2008, 08:59 AM
Deniable plausibility
Shedofdread's Avatar
Keep at it, work, work, work and never give up. If you want to do something bad enough, you get there in the end.

Also ask lots of questions, decent people will if possible answer.

Best of luck,

Oct 23, 2008, 10:21 AM
The Predator
The Predator's Avatar
I used to be very similar, just enough building to get it in the air. . . I crashed lots doing that with poorly operating ships that quickly went to "not operating ships."
I finally learned this," go the extra mile for your ship early, while you can still steer it well. That way it has a chance of not crashing and thus staying steerible. That inturn ends up getting you way more air time and with a ship with true response." you'll improve way faster doing it that way. As for building, the guys above cover it perfectly.
Oct 23, 2008, 10:26 AM
trying to kick the habit
What you have to remember is the last 5% of the build to "make it nice", as Samotage says, takes 95% of the time. If you are OK with that, you can become a master builder. Otherwise, its 80/20.
Oct 23, 2008, 10:44 AM
Taranis Tyro...
MattyB's Avatar
Originally Posted by Crashaholic
What you have to remember is the last 5% of the build to "make it nice", as Samotage says, takes 95% of the time. If you are OK with that, you can become a master builder. Otherwise, its 80/20.
Soooooooo true. In most cases the difference between the master builders and the rest of us is not that they use fundamentally different techniques - they just spend more time learning how to do them really well, and then do lots of practice!
Oct 23, 2008, 10:55 AM
Registered User
Chief High Horse's Avatar
I never have and probably never will build "museum quality plugs, molds, planes", but I do try to "step it up"


You and I both know that we cut corners. Thoughts like "good enough" It will look good in the air" "nobody will ever see that" all have to be replaced with....


Put little signs up around your shop to remind you as you build. It sounds like some lame corporate managers motivational hooey, but it does work. IF YOU WANT IT TO.

good enough
Oct 23, 2008, 11:46 AM
Go fast, turn hard
Tailslide UK's Avatar
There is another way that may lead to less frustration. When you spot someone who builds nice models on your local slope, ask for help. In 35 years of flying RC, I have had a number of blokes come and build along with me. It makes a nice break from being alone in the workshop to have one night a week when people come to learn new things. You make new friends and get to put something back into the hobby. Don't be afraid to ask. The worst that can happen is that the person you approach says no. (But I doubt it).

I am helping a guy now who did not grow up using tools. His initial attempts were pretty crude until he learned how to sand, file, saw, dremel, etc. He is now well on his way to becomming a "master builder". All of the skills are learned. You can't learn how to sand on RCG. Yo just gotta make some dust. Watching someone who has been doing it 25 years can cut the amount of dust required by a factor of 10. The same applies to all of the other stuff.

Proper hand tools are all you need. Spend your money on quality, not quantitiy. Other than a dremel, power tools are not required. They save time once you have he skills in place, but those skills are best learned by doing it manually. Power sanders and the like can save time, but can also ruin what you are doing quicker.

Looking back over the years of helping out peope who ask (I don't say a word unless asked), I think the most valuable lesson each person has learned is control linkage geometry and radio installation. With nearly everyone I have helped, this has made the biggest difference in the performance of the end result. The rules of geometry for a no slop/ low current draw linkage are easy to understand and apply. No one I have met was born with the knowledge though.

Go for it. Don;t shoot for the moon. focus on making each model a bit better than the last. In a year or two some bloke may just walk up on the slope and ask for your help .

Good luck,
Oct 23, 2008, 12:20 PM
auto-tune remix
slopemeno's Avatar
Like life, craftsmanship is "choices and discipline".

Back when I was a gunsmith, I learned a lot about cranking out great looking work while on the clock. Thge guys who are really good at this sort of thing have a lot in common:

1) They have what they need handy. They don't have to go down to the basement to find that old can of bondo, they already have a second can ready by the time the first one is 1/2 gone.

2) Economy of motion. Their workbench has the essentials without clutter. The file is here. The fordham tool is there. They know where they are going right after they finish with this process.

3) It's not so much the time it takes to DO a task, it's the time you waste between it and the next task. At the time I was a gunsmith I shot a sport called IPSC/USPSA. The sport was shooting pistols as fast as possible, as accurately as possible, and the people who did it well didn't squeeze the trigger any faster, or really line the sights up any faster, they just didn't waste ANY time between the required tasks. Plan your work, execute, and move on quickly.

4) Work in parallel. Paint can dry while youre working.
Last edited by slopemeno; Oct 23, 2008 at 08:19 PM.
Oct 23, 2008, 12:23 PM
Mach 0.261 ... Hiccup of Wiggy
Geo420's Avatar
Good words Mr Tailslide!
I think that it takes about 500 goes at anything to be pretty good at it.
After 100 you have an idea.
After 250 you are pretty efficient and just learning the finner points.
By 500, your all over it!

Thats my experiance anyway. Each model will nearly always be better than the last (if your like me anyway) and hopefully you and it will fly better!

Keep on trying to improve and you will.
When was the last time you 'Failed' at somthing you want to be good at? Exactly. It dont happen does it?

Keep on trying, ask the guru's and maybe one day you will be a master builder too...

I'm not but I would like to be.

Use the Force!
Oct 23, 2008, 02:35 PM
Long to be flyin'
Antonsoarer's Avatar
Steve, you may be stuck as you are (but then again I donít know your age! ) but you should be proud and to £$Ē%% with the audience/critics!

Back in the 70ís I built a couple of RC kits (after youthful years of designing and building lethal catapult launched devices), since then I have not built a kit; I even have an original Coyote, still not built (a present).

Scratch designed and built an average of over 8 models a year since the 70ís. Many have looked awful; I place function well above form and pragmatism above a pedantic obsession with detail. I got use to chequebook modellers (as they were known way back then) sneering at my ugly duckling creations and also got use to the bemused looks as the performance often belied the appearance.

If the way your model looks/is finished effects performance to unacceptable level then plan to eliminate that element next build or clean it up if you think it deserves your time.

I find if a model performs well and proves durable I tend to spruce it up. I have high performance conventional designs that started out uncovered and with several lash ups that have been covered and cleaned up and have flown great for many grin-inducing years, many have gone the other way Ďinto the bits boxí, I consider both outcomes a success as I usually learn a lot.

Donít let the cosmetics stifle your creativity or peer pressure mess with your head, the only benchmark for success is the one you set when you first start scratching out the design.

Oct 23, 2008, 07:00 PM
Registered User
yellowblue's Avatar
To make a model took good you need to know how to get a good finish on it...and to get a good finish you have to build it well.
Oct 23, 2008, 09:07 PM
Twisted and Confused
flyonline's Avatar
Well thanks guys.

Actually, I'm old enough to know what I need to do, and young enough to hopefully be able to change

I've found that the times I've had the best results I've built it a little at a time over a longer period. I'm one of those people that put something away for a while then pull it out and work feverishly until I get stuck then put it away for a while until I get inspired again. I think that doing a little each day rather than a lot once a week is better, gives things like glue etc time to dry and gives more time for thought rather than a cut followed by "crap, shouldn't have done that" followed by a fix...

The suggestions on time saving are great, my building area does tend to be a little 'crowded' though up until now I've been reduced to working in 3rd rate conditions (i.e. loungeroom floor), however the house we are about to move in has 2 large areas that I can build in!!!!!!!!!

My linkages have gotten better over the years and I now consciously trying to create them as well and as accurate as possible.

I'm never going to try for production stuff, just to get my models looking (and hopefully flying) better as a result. I've learnt so much so far, just starting on vac bagging and have produced a few parts and wings so hopefully it will be onwards and upwards from here.

thanks for the support

Oct 24, 2008, 12:28 AM
ajroahkni's Avatar
I would really liek to know what 80/20 means.

But I do think that expertise is learned, not borne. So there's my pull on the poll.
Oct 24, 2008, 05:34 AM
Twisted and Confused
flyonline's Avatar
There are 2 80/20 rules, both applicable here.

80% of the wealth is owned by 20% of the population (the original 80/20 rule).


You pay 80% more for a product/service/whatever to get 20% more return than the original (more useful for me as I'm in the other 80%). I think that there is another less vaunted 60/40 rule that should come before the 80/20.

In relation to this poll:

80% of the awesome planes are built by 20% of the builders


In this case, I would need to spend another 80% of my time/money/whatever getting a 20% better result.


Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Question So how do you break into the miniature helicopter business? sharky47 Electric Heli Talk 9 Jan 31, 2006 11:14 AM
How do you break a Rotorworkz Frame? tbeine Mini Helis 5 Jun 12, 2005 03:21 PM
How do you clean up those 20 years old IC's pin lazy-b DIY Electronics 12 Mar 31, 2005 05:27 PM
Yippee! How do i break in my new ducted fan motor for tail? haddorh Micro Helis 3 Jan 12, 2005 07:43 PM
Low Mah Batteries (50-500mah) . . . How do you break them in??? EFoil Parkflyers 10 Aug 01, 2001 10:34 AM