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Old 21st November 2022, 18:32   #1
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Default Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes

I have had a thing for aeroplanes since childhood, thanks to my parents who have worked for an airline through which I had early exposure to flying, etc.

I remember how flying used to be in the mid and late 90s, it had very less crowd, nicer meals, toys, Boeing 747s and much more. It has really become just another thing now but more on that later.

In the early 2000s as a kid, I wondered if there is some sort of a small plane which could be flown with a remote but I could never find one till the year 2012 when I was in Hyderabad for a short visit and I came across a shop which had RC planes, Cars and more, checked the prices and realised that as a student I simply couldn't afford it.

Life moved on and I completely forgot about it until recently when I was casually reading things on the internet and somehow was navigated to a forum where RC hobbies were being discussed and then I started to dig more.

I was hooked on to the internet for a week and kept on watching videos about the same and reading about it.

As an absolute newcomer, I realised I had a lot to learn in theory before I could think of actually flying.

The thing with this hobby is you don't know where to start and who'll help and the fact that it is a rare hobby also doesn't help the newcomers at all.

I am so excited to share my learnings and findings with you all over here with the hope that it helps people get into this hobby, also because I think we all are a community of like-minded people and it just feels so good to share this with people who can relate to it.

I'll try and keep it very simple and write it in pointers so that it is easier on the eyes.

Types of RC planes :


  • PnP - Plug and play, these types of aircraft come with everything except transmitter, receiver and batteries.
  • ARF - Almost ready-to-fly models need additional components before you can fly, common additional items may include, an engine/electric motor, servos, transmitter, receiver, DIY skills and time.
  • Kits - These are laser cut sheets and everything has to be pasted and put in place together, this will for sure need good DIY skills and more time as well.
  • RTF - Ready-to-fly aeroplanes will have everything included in the box, just unbox and fly.

Types of Internal Combustion engines :



Nitro engines (2 strokes & 4 strokes) - can range from anywhere as small as 1.5 cc to as big as 120cc or even more, the size of the engine is chosen according to the size of the plane and the purpose. These are powered by special fuel which is a mixture of methanol, oil (castor, synthetic or both) and a small percentage of nitromethane, a lot of people also blend their own fuels.

Gas engines - These run on the usual petrol and are costlier than the nitro engines, they also come with an ignition module which takes care of the correct firing order and other things.

OS and Saito are some of the famous names which manufacture these engines, both are Japanese.

A lot of hobbyists are moving to electric motors from engines. Most of the models under PnP, RTF, and Bundle to fly will have mostly electric motors, if you want to go the engine way, you'll have to choose an ARF or a Kit.

Starter accessories for engines :


  • Electric starter or starting stick
  • Glow plug igniter
  • Fuel tank
  • Silicone tubes
  • Lots of skill
A plane with an internal combustion engine will need much more skills to be built and flown as compared to an electric plane but at the same time, it makes it much more genuine and appealing.

I was totally inclined towards an IC engine and never thought about an electric plane at all. I then started to research the size of the plane & engine and didn't know where to start.

So I thought I'll buy the engine first and then choose a suitable model for it, I placed an order for an OS 55 AX online after a discussion with the seller and a propeller of size 12x6 for the same.

It looks very well made and weighs 512 grams.

Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6224.jpg

Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6231.jpg

Now the hunt for a plane began, through the research, I got to know that for new flyers, a trainer model with high wings(wings above fuselage) is suggested as it is easier to fly, so that is what I started to look for and I came across Seagull planes.

Seagull planes are handmade in Vietnam and are made from Balsa wood, which keeps them light and durable.

After a lot of thought I ordered one online from a seller based in Hyderabad, yes it is the same seller, whose shop I visited in 2012.

Meanwhile, I thought of breaking in the engine on a stand, that's how people usually do it, so I made a makeshift stand for the engine and bolted the engine nicely so that it is safe and doesn't move.

I followed the instructions available everywhere on how to start the nitro engine but wasn't able to do so even after trying for the whole day, it got me really bogged down and frustrated.

The next day I spoke to my seller, and he suggested that I might have flooded the engine with too much fuel, he suggested a way to correct it, I tried and I was able to start the engine and everything was back on track.

A word of caution: The propellers can be extremely risky and should be treated with the utmost caution, if you happen to start with this hobby, please be very very careful. I've read about people losing their fingers, etc.

It took my seller more than a week to ship the plane and another 3 days to reach me via courier. I was surprised to see the packaging, it was much bigger than I thought and the moment I got it out of the box, I was simply delighted to see the workmanship, it is very nicely made.

I couldn't get to work on it immediately because of Diwali and other commitments.

A few days later though I was ready to go.

For ARF models you would need two types of glue: Epoxy and CA glue for wood, which is a little thicker so that it fills gaps and doesn't get absorbed by the wood.

So I pasted the vertical stabiliser and the horizontal stabiliser, there's a cut-out already made for it from the factory, and the plane also comes pre-installed with metal pushrods for all the control surfaces.

Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6888.jpg

Engine mounting :



The RC planes have either a plastic or a metal mount for engines, mine came installed with a plastic mount, while mounting the engine, the distance of the engine from the fuselage is crucial as it directly affects the centre of Gravity, for my plane the manual suggests the distance of the faceplate of the engine to be 11.2 cms from the firewall and that's what I followed.

This is what the firewall and engine mount look like :

Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6795.jpg
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6794.jpg

Made drilling marks with a pencil and drilled with my small electric hand drill:

Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6796.jpg
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6797.jpg
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6798.jpg

I had specially ordered hex screws for this purpose as they offer more grip while tightening :

Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6799_2.jpg

And this is how the engine looks like on the mount:

Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6891.jpg
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6890.jpg
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_6889.jpg
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-c9bb5e969b3f4d2b8852f6bfa10a3c34.jpg

I am taking this build slow as I would want to avoid as many mistakes as I can, my target time to fly is in December end and I intend to fly with a trainer at least the first few times.

Meanwhile, I have to order a transmitter, servos, battery and charger, once I have all of these, the plane should be all set.

I am contemplating buying a Futaba T10J transmitter along with Hitech D625MW and the research is still on.

This is an ongoing project and once I complete this, I would want to have a nice collection of planes with different specs and purposes.

Also thinking of getting a wooden rack built for safe storage.

I firmly believe that one should have as many hobbies as possible, they can be amazing stress busters and also a very good way for us to indulge.

I shall share more as the project progresses.
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Old 22nd November 2022, 09:11   #2
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Default Re: Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes

Mod Note: Thanks for sharing! Moved to "Shifting Gears" & will go to our homepage this week
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Old 22nd November 2022, 11:58   #3
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Default Re: Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes

Thanks for this elaborate write up. I have never flown a RC model plane myself, but I have seen them quite a bit.

Here in the Netherlands we have quite a number of RC plane clubs. Some might even have their own little airstrip!

There is another type of RC plane that I find fascinating, the completely self build.
My brother in law builds his own model completely from scratch. He even makes the drawings himself, using photographs and or visiting aviation museums.

Enjoy your hobby

Jeroen
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Old 22nd November 2022, 12:27   #4
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Default Re: Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes

On my son's insistence, I once bought a RC engine. Don't remember the make but was some Chinese 2 stroker. It costed around 4.5k. The general idea being bonding over a father son project during the weekend and imparting my knowledge of IC engines to my son.

We got the fuel, Spare glow plug and the lighter too. It did run for a while and then refused to start. No matter how much I tried, it just died on me. So to save my face, ended up working on actual bike IC Engines with him which were more fun. The RC engine is still lying somewhere in the cupboard.

I hear the critical step is the run-in of the new engine and the propeller length and weight are critical.

Last edited by srini1785 : 22nd November 2022 at 12:43.
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Old 23rd November 2022, 09:02   #5
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Default Re: Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes

Wonderful, thanks for sharing. Do share some approximate costs so someone interested is able to understand the budgets needed.
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Old 23rd November 2022, 12:28   #6
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Default Re: Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes

This brings back the memories of my college days. As a child I wanted to become a pilot, but luck was not on my side at that time. So once in college I decided to pursue aeromodelling as my hobby.

I started with electric RTR plane which my cousin got from Singapore. It was a beginners plane which could be also flown indoors like large gymnasiums. The plane had flight time of about 5 - 7 minutes and charging would take long since there were no fast chargers. Batteries were very small capacity Ni–MH cells but these days we have high capacity LiPo batteries and quick chargers.

After a year 1 got a bigger powerful electric plane from India Hobby Centre. Flight time was about 20 mins and had extra batteries too so I could fly for and hour or so. I used to fly at Mumbai Race Course with other enthusiasts who had much faster and larger powerful planes with IC engines. Some planes would cost north of 5 lakh rupees.

Finally I decided to have a IC engine aircraft but that project never took of due to cost constraints at that time.

But since few years India’s aeromodelling fraternity is upset with the aviation body. New rules DGCA drafted has made aeromodelling a dying hobby. At least in cities like Mumbai after 26/11 attack, cops have become very strict as to where and when you can fly model planes. Best place now would be to fly in some rural area or away from the cities.

But still Sunday mornings one can see couple of model planes flying around Mahalaxmi Race Course. I do stop by to take a glimpse and cherish happy flying memories I have.

Attached is picture of my plane which I still have it and hope to see it fly again. As the quote says "Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly."
Attached Thumbnails
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-e6hltzgvuaa2crb.jpg  

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Old 23rd November 2022, 12:32   #7
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Default Re: Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes

I have been building and flying RC planes and drones since 2013. I started off with a RTF 4ch glider (powered) made out of foam, Sky Surfer from RcBazaar. Highly highly recommend something like this if you have never flown before. From that, I moved to building planes out of depron sheets since you get a lot of free plans for the same on the internet (most are designed to be made from either 3mm, 5mm, 6mm depron sheets which are easily available in India as well).

While Futaba's and Hiteks are great premium radios, they come with a lot of struggles because of being a closed eco system. Their receivers are very expensive, availability in india is very limited etc. I would recommend you take a good hard look at the TX16s from Radiomaster. They have two variants of that radio, one has is a 4-on-1 module that can basically work with 4 different brand and protocol receivers and the other variant has an ELRS module. Both of these radios come with and extra RF module bay so you can put in any protocol module in that and it'll work. Do not be fooled by its cheap (when compared to futaba) price. The community for these radios is also very active on the internet. I am using the FrSky Taranis X9D since 2015 now and am very happy with the radio for the most part. Though the bug to upgrade to the TX16s is bitting me even though I am not flying as much lately.

With work and other responsibilities now taking most of my time, I am unfortunately not very active in this hobby but hope to carve out time for these again since they are so satisfying and you are constantly learning something. Attaching some pictures from those good old teenage days!

Learnt to fly on this Sky Surfer.
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-u_dsc0235.jpg

It is as much fun to build these machines as it is to fly them,
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_20170221_165743.jpg

Build complete and ready to fly!
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_20170227_074442.jpg
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_20170304_075914pano.jpg

Such models are fun to build and learn the basics of flight on. You can play with them in your room and apply what you've learn back out in the field,
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-uimg_20160918_205524.jpg

Practising on the simulator before going crazy on the field with your beloved plane.
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-uimg_20130520_193747.jpg

Started out with kk 2.0 board and kept upgrading this 650 size quad till it had fully autonomous flight capabilities using the initial Ardupilot boards which were based on Arduino Mega along with a stabilised gopro. This was years before we had all these drone laws.
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-uimg_20160323_135752.jpg
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-uimg_20140712_184802.jpg

Are you even a teenager if you dont put LED on absolutely everything??
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-uimg_20130613_202421.jpg

RCPowers F35.
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-uimg_20150122_014433138_hdr.jpg
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-uimg_20150129_130524391.jpg

Me and my friend even designed and built this model which had the fuselage made from depron and the wing with laser cut balsa for the Techfest at IIT Mumbai.
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_20161208_024306.jpg
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-img_20161207_233506.jpg

This PT20 Ryan is still the most beautiful RC plane I own.
Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes-uimg_20150208_172541922_top.jpg

Feel free to contact me if you want any help whatsoever. Like you said, it is a rare hobby so its always fun to interact with people, newbies or veterans alike.

Happy landings!

Last edited by NerdyMillennial : 23rd November 2022 at 12:36. Reason: Spelling mistake
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Old 23rd November 2022, 19:14   #8
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Default Re: Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
There is another type of RC plane that I find fascinating, the completely self build.
My brother in law builds his own model completely from scratch. He even makes the drawings himself, using photographs and or visiting aviation museums.
Completely self build is the way to go sir, I would really want to do that someday.

Quote:
Originally Posted by srini1785 View Post
We got the fuel, Spare glow plug and the lighter too. It did run for a while and then refused to start. No matter how much I tried, it just died on me. So to save my face, ended up working on actual bike IC Engines with him which were more fun. The RC engine is still lying somewhere in the cupboard.
Wow!
Yes the break in seems to be an important step for engine's long life and performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by surfatwork View Post
Wonderful, thanks for sharing. Do share some approximate costs so someone interested is able to understand the budgets needed.
I think I'll be looking at around 90K once this project is complete.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RM Motorsports View Post
Attached is picture of my plane which I still have it and hope to see it fly again. As the quote says "Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly."
I agree that it is a dying hobby and that makes me very sad, one of the reasons why I chose to bring this subject up on Team-Bhp. I hope you fly your plane very soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NerdyMillennial View Post
While Futaba's and Hiteks are great premium radios, they come with a lot of struggles because of being a closed eco system. Their receivers are very expensive, availability in india is very limited etc. I would recommend you take a good hard look at the TX16s from Radiomaster. They have two variants of that radio, one has is a 4-on-1 module that can basically work with 4 different brand and protocol receivers and the other variant has an ELRS module. Both of these radios come with and extra RF module bay so you can put in any protocol module in that and it'll work. Do not be fooled by its cheap (when compared to futaba) price. The community for these radios is also very active on the internet. I am using the FrSky Taranis X9D since 2015 now and am very happy with the radio for the most part. Though the bug to upgrade to the TX16s is bitting me even though I am not flying as much lately.!
Thank you so much for your transmitter recommendations, I'll check it out.
Your PT20 looks so good. I'll surely write to you, if I need any help with this.

Thanks for the warm welcome !

Last edited by Rehaan : 24th November 2022 at 06:52. Reason: Shortening quoted posts :)
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Old 23rd November 2022, 22:45   #9
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Default Re: Beginner's Guide | Flying RC Planes

I still have my beaver model with the Thunder Tiger pro 46 engine. Haven't flown it for many years. The airframe has taken a lot of beating, had to be repaired multiple times, but I suppose is still in flyable condition. Need to take out the engine and see if anything has corroded/jammed and may be preserve it properly, not likely to find time to fly it in the near future . Thanks to this thread for reminding me of the long forgotten hobby of mine. Beginners should go with electric powered models is what I would advice considering the hassles of maintaining and running an RC engine.
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