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Old 12-04-2012, 11:09 AM   #126
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I don't think the radio needs of an electric pilot are all that different from a glow pilot, but it is still the key piece of equipment.

How to select your first radio.
http://www.Wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=68741


EDIT: Decided to post the article here and add it to the TOC. See a few posts down.

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Old 12-04-2012, 05:45 PM   #127
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Originally Posted by AEAJR View Post
I don't think the radio needs of an electric pilot are all that different from a glow pilot, but it is still the key piece of equipment.
IMHO, the radio needs of an electric model are a little more modest than the radio needs for the same model with glow/gas power.

I did some checking on this awhile back. One of my club members had a giant scale model with a twin cylinder gasser up front. My home made vibration "G" meter showed vibration levels at the wing servo location of over 25 G's while the engine was idling. It smoothed out as the engine RPM was increased.

Vibration levels at the tail were about 1/2 of that value.

These electric models don't shake, so your servos will last longer. At any rate, the servo torque for the model will be similar in requirements.

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Old 12-05-2012, 07:47 PM   #128
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AeJr
Would it be posible to put sleevs in the non beering servos to
boost thier service life ?
I have an 00 press here at home that would handle inserting them if it could be done with brass or aluminum tubeing .
I will have to see if I can make that work !
George
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Old 12-05-2012, 10:33 PM   #129
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Damned if I know. Give it a try and let us know in a year how it worked for you.

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Old 12-06-2012, 04:20 PM   #130
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If I get a chance to try it I will let every one know how it works and how to add the
berring to them !!
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:22 AM   #131
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Default Nitro to electric Lazybee

Hi What do I need to convert a scratch built Lazy Bee 50 in. with ailerons from nitro (OS .15) to electric? The book looks interesting and I want to read it.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:16 PM   #132
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Originally Posted by bgchip View Post
Hi What do I need to convert a scratch built Lazy Bee 50 in. with ailerons from nitro (OS .15) to electric? The book looks interesting and I want to read it.
You need a motor - see chapter ( post number) 3, 23 and 43

Electronic speed control/ESC - See chapter (post) 5

and a battery - see chapters 10 and 11

We don't pick parts for people here. We teach them how to pick parts. However you may wish to post a thread with a title something like, "Need help converting from Nitro to Electric.

Help will come a running. Meanwhile, read the chapters and you will understand more about the info you will receive.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Post# ..... Topic

1 ............Preface
2 ............Amps vs Volts vs C
3 ............Sizing Power Systems
4.............Props vs. Amps
5 ............What is an Electronic Speed Control
6 ............The LVC, Low Voltage Cut-off
7 ............Who Needs a Wattmeter?
8 ............Why Use a Gearbox?
9 ............Extended Flight Times and Balance
10 ...........Battery Basics
11 ...........Lithium Batteries, Chargers and Balancers
12 ...........Six Keys to Success for New Pilots
13 ...........Things to Check on an RTF
14 ...........Now its Your Turn!
23 ...........The Role of the BEC in your ESC
24 ...........The Mythical Best First Plane
33 ...........What You Need to Know About Receivers
43 ...........WHAT DO THE KV RATINGS ON MOTORS MEAN?
51 ...........A DOWNLOADABLE EDITED VERSION OF THIS E-BOOK (editing by Ken Meyers)
71 ...........Estimating Battery Run Time

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Old 01-18-2013, 04:29 PM   #133
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Originally Posted by bgchip View Post
Hi What do I need to convert a scratch built Lazy Bee 50 in. with ailerons from nitro (OS .15) to electric? The book looks interesting and I want to read it.
Just about any glow type model can be converted to a very effective electric model now days. These electric power systems are that good.

That said, it's a good idea to buy quality equipment for the conversion. This quality stuff is a bit more expensive, but will be much more trouble free than some $5.00 motor from you know where.

One good place to start is one of those computer programs such as www.motocalc.com that allows you to select from a wide variety of motors, ESC's, Batteries, plug them in from the "Drop Down List", and see what the motocalc opinion is.

If you want recommendations on power systems, IMHO you can't go wrong with the $$$$ Hacker motors and the Castle Creations ESC's. As for batteries, most all of my models fly with A123 cells, so can't help there.

Don't know the wing area or weight of your model. But an Hacker A30 or A40 would be in the ball park. Also the Scorpion motors have a fairly good reputation. One clue to the quality of the motors available is their specifications on how many watts they are good for, along with the motor weight in ounces. So if you have a motor such as the Hacker with a 400 watt rating, and 4 ounce weight, that's 100 watts per ounce of motor weight. A reasonable value. Some of those (cheap) motors are claiming 1000 watts on a 5 ounce motor, or 200 watts per ounce. That motor is going to run hot, and might even let out the magic smoke if ever run at their supposed maximum rating for more than a half second.

https://www.aero-model.com/8_66_883/...-16M%20V2.html

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Old 01-18-2013, 05:17 PM   #134
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The brass replacement idea went bad -it ends up that the press is too big
and crushed the case of the servo every time or the brass tubeing bent from
the force it took to push it into the case
So ends an idea that would have helped our hobby and kept the cost down for
parts in our planes .
George
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:24 PM   #135
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Originally Posted by AEAJR View Post
AMPS vs. VOLTS vs. C
By Ed Anderson
aeajr on the forums

This brief discussion is intended to clear up a few terms and concepts
around electricity as it applies to electric airplanes.

Think of electricity like water. Volts = pressure Amps = flow

Volts is like pounds per square inch, psi. Says nothing about how much
water is flowing, just how hard it is being pushed. You can have 100 psi
with zero water flow.

Amps is flow, like gallons per hour. You can have flow at low pressure and
you can have flow at high pressure.

Amp hours is how much flow can be sustained for how long. It is used as a
way of measuring how much electricity is in the battery. Like how many
gallons of gas in your tank. It is a capacity number. Says nothing about
flow or pressure, it is about capacity.

Amps and mili amps? We are just moving the decimal point around.

1 amp (short for ampere) = 1000 miliamps (mili means 1/1000 amps)

Examples

So a 7 cell NIMH or NICD pack provides 8.4V (pressure).

The motor will draw electricity from the pack at a certain flow rate, or
amps.

If you have a have a 650 mili amp hour pack, it can deliver a flow of .650
amps (650 miliamps) for one hour. If you draw it out faster, it
doesn't last as long. So your motor might pull 6.5 amps for 1/10 of an
hour, or about 6 minutes.

A 1300 mah pack has double the capacity of the 650 mah pack, so it should
last "about" twice as long.


What is C in relation to batteries?

C ratings are simply a way of talking about charge and discharge rates for
batteries.

1C, = 1 time the rated mah capacity of the battery. So if you charge your
650 mah pack at 1C, you charge it a 650 miliamps, or .650 amps.

1C on a 1100 pack would be 1.1 amps.

2 C on your 1100 pack would be 2.2 amps

Motor batteries, especially lithium batteries, are often rated in Discharge C and charge C.

So a 1100 mah pack (1.1 amp hour) might be rated for 10C discharge, so you
can pull 11 amps ( flow ) without damaging the battery.

Then it might be rated at 2C charge rate (flow), so you charge it at 2.2
amps (2200 mah)

How did I do? Things clearing up? Terms starting to make sense?

If you have a 500 mah pack - any kind - and it is rated at 16C that means it
can deliver 8 amps.

If you have a 1000 mah pack - any kind - and it is rated at 8C that means it
can deliver 8 amps.

If you have a 1000 mah pack - any kind - and it is rated at 12C that means
it can deliver 12 amps

If you have a 1500 mah pack (1.5 amp hour) - any kind - and it is rate at 8C
that means it can deliver 12 amps (1.5 X 12 = 8)

If you have a 1500 mah pack - any kind - and it is rated at 20 C that means
it can deliver 30 amps.

If you have a 3000 mah pack - any kind - and it is rated at 10 C that means
it can deliver 30 amps.

So, if you need 12 amps you can use a pack with a higher C rating or a pack
with a higher mah rating to get to needed amp delivery level.

One last point. Motor batteries vs. receiver batteries

Some batteries can sustain high discharge rates. Other batteries can not.

Those used as transmitter/receiver packs typically are made for lower flow/amp
rates while those made for motor packs can sustain higher rates.

Having a 600 mah pack does not tell you if it is a motor pack that can put
out 6 amps, or if it is a transmitter/receiver pack that would be damaged if
you tried to pull power at 6 amps. It is enough to say that they are
different.

Clearly a motor pack could be used for a transmitter/receiver job, but a
transmitter/receiver pack should not generally be used as a motor pack.

I suggest you size your battery packs so they run somewhat below their
maximum C rating. You will stress them less and they will last longer. For
example, if your motor needs a pack that can deliver 10 amps, getting a 1000
mah pack that is rated for 10C ( 10 amps ) will meet the spec, but it is
running at its limit. A 15 C rated 1000 mah pack would be better, or
perhaps a 1300 mah 10 C pack. In either of these cases, the pack will be
less stressed and should handle the load much better over the long term.

That's it for the first chapter. Hopefully some of the terms of electric flight
will start to make sense. If you are still confused, go back and read again.
Or, take a look at the links, they may help too.



Other Resources

Basics - article is more than 5 years old but still useful.
http://www.modelaircraft.org/mag/FTGU/Part8/index.html

Lithium Batteries - again a few years old, but it marks a breakthrough in electric flight
http://www.rchobbies.org/lithium_battery_breakthrough.htm

Lithium Balancers and Balancing Chargers
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=599287

New Electric Flyer FAQs
http://www.ezonemag.com/pages/faq/a105.shtml

A series of posts on electric power system basics
http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1933
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=417868

MotoCalc
MotoCalc will tell you everything you need to know: Amps, Volts, Watts, RPM,
Thrust, Rate of Climb, and much more! It is a popular tool for predicting
the proper motor, prop, battery pack for electric planes.
http://www.motocalc.com/

e-CALC - A free power system sizing tool
http://www.ecalc.ch/



Electric Motors Described
http://adamone.rchomepage.com/guide5.htm

< Message edited by aeajr -- 2/19/2008 9:44:08 AM >

_____________________________
OK I am an old electronics guy. I understand everything here so far except for WHY have a C rating. In order to do anything meaningful with this C rating I must do math to find my maximum charge/discharge rate, which is really what I wanna know anyway....

Confusion
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:47 PM   #136
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Default again why?

Originally Posted by AEAJR View Post
PROP vs. AMPS

Your electric motor draws a certain amount of energy to do its job, which is to turn the propeller. With no prop attached it draws very little energy. If you put a big prop on the motor it draws a lot of energy.

This is similar to pulling a boat trailer behind your car. The car might get 20 mpg normally, but put a boat on a trailer behind the car and mileage will drop off to perhaps 15 mpg because the motor is using more energy just to maintain the same speed and travel the same distance. However as long as the boat and trailer are not too heavy, no real damage occurs, you just use more gas.

If you put too big a trailer behind your car, something will break. The motor may fail, the transmission may fail or something else. That is because you are asking the drive train to produce more work, use more energy then it was built to handle. Fuel mileage goes way down and then something breaks. You have over stressed things.

Back to your plane.

Your electric motor needs to "draw" a certain amount of energy in order to turn a given propeller at a given speed. Let's use a speed 400 motor as an example and let's say you have a 6X5 prop on it. That means the propeller is 6" across and has a pitch of 5" per revolution. Pitch indicates how far the prop would move forward through the air if there was no slippage. As either of these numbers go up, the motor is asked to do more work.

Now let's apply some numbers. These are made up numbers for illustration only. Don't assume that these are accurate for your motor in your plane turning your prop.

Let's say that, to turn that 6X5 prop your speed 400 motor draws 6 amps of electricity using a battery that delivers 10 volts, just to make the math simple. That would be 60 watts of energy that the motor consumes to turn that prop. (6 amps X 10 Volts)

If we go to a larger prop, say 7 inches and keep the pitch the same 5 inches, the draw might go up to 8 amps at 10 volts or 80 watts.

Likewise if we went to a 7X6 prop, the draw would go up again, say to 9 amps or 90 watts.

In each case we are increasing the amount of work the motor has to do to turn the prop. The harder it works the more electricity it draws. This is also placing an increasing amount of stress on the motor causing it to generate heat and placing more pressure on the bearings. If we push it too far, the motor will be unable to turn the prop fast enough to be useful in flying the plane and/or it will fail from stress, just like the car example above with the trailer that is too big.

What we try to do is to get the best balance of propeller and amp draw so that the motor operates efficiently without being over stressed.

Likewise if you have that same speed 400 motor and keep the prop at 6X5 but increase the electric pressure, volts, to 12 volts it will try to spin the motor faster causing it to draw more amps into the motor. This would be like putting a supercharger on your car's motor which forces more fuel/air mix into the car's engine. It will produce more power so it can do more work. However if we exceed the amount of power it was designed to handle, it will fail. It might not fail right away, but over a very short time it will start to degrade, perform badly and perhaps suddenly fail all together.

If we push the voltage up too high or the amp draw too high, we will over stress the motor and damage it.

The goal is get a good balance of propeller and power draw.


OTHER RESOURCES

A comparison of Glow vs. Electric power
http://www.maxxprod.com/mpi/tips3.html

Electric Motors Described
http://adamone.rchomepage.com/guide5.htm

MotoCalc
MotoCalc will tell you everything you need to know: Amps, Volts, Watts, RPM, Thrust, Rate of Climb, and much more! It is a popular tool for predicting the proper motor, prop, battery pack for electric planes.
http://www.motocalc.com/
Why does this have to be so complicated?
It seems to me that every motor should show whats generated at a specific voltage with a few different prop options. and it's efficiency. They would be crazy to recommend props that make them inefficient. I just don't understand why they even bother with the kv rating as it is only relevant for picking a prop. This all seems like the industry is Trying to make it all complicated when it really doesn't need to be. I can't even begin to express how irritating it has been to try and find a motor prop combo by going to various websites. Some places have good prices on motors and all you get is.... 100 watts... No reference to prop size etc.I
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:53 PM   #137
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Drummaker,

All good points. If you can get all the battery and MFG of motors to follow your recommendations we would be all very pleased., but that is not the way of the world.

If you can understand the analogy, I don't make the weather, I just report it.

You will note that only Lithium batteries have C ratings. I have not see NiCd or NiMh batteries with C ratings so I have no idea what they can deliver reliably other than by trial and error and experience. At least the Lithiums give me a guideline.

And don't forget the different standards for battery connectors for both motor connection and balance plugs. Isn't that fun? There are at least 5 different motor to battery conectors and at least that many for balance plugs.

The fact is there is no industry standards committee on how things will be done. Everyone does their own thing and the public votes with its $$. Standards, to some degree, start to emerge based on market adoption, not any driving standards committee.

For example, the Deans Ultra Plug, sometimes called a T connector, has emerged as one of the major motor/ESC to battery connectors. EC3, from Horizon Hobby, has become another just because HH is such a dominant force in the market. That's how it goes. But you still have to check to see what connector is on the battery and have to be prepared to cut and solder a different one if that is what your ESC needs.

All of my batteries are standardized on the Deans Ultra Plug. If it comes with something else, I cut it off and put a Deans on it. And I made up a Deans to EC3 adapter so I can do some temporarly mixing. I have a whole pack of connector adaptors made up for all kinds of connections.

When I started almost 10 years ago, even the Watts/pound discussion was not all that common. People were struggeling on how to describe how to power things. Then brushless became reasonable in price and input watts had a different meaning due to the change in efficency from brushed motors.

Well today we pretty much assume brushless motors and Lithium batteries so that helps a lot. Things are much more standardized today then when I started. I am sure you find that hard to believe.


Keeps things interesting.

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Old 03-18-2013, 06:06 AM   #138
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You have provided very useful information. I have never seen a more detailed about Electric Powered Flight. You are absolutely right that If we are starting with an RTF electric airplane, we really don't need to know all this stuff.I have learned something new here, thanks for sharing....

Regards,
Barry Martin
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:39 PM   #139
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Originally Posted by Barrymartin View Post
You have provided very useful information. I have never seen a more detailed about Electric Powered Flight. You are absolutely right that If we are starting with an RTF electric airplane, we really don't need to know all this stuff.I have learned something new here, thanks for sharing....

Regards,
Barry Martin
Once you get into models with perhaps one kilowatt or more of motor power, then it becomes important to be familiar with this electronic stuff.

First, the cost of the motor/ESC/battery gets expensive, and making a mistake on to small of a prop size can result in a model that won't get off the ground. Or if the prop is to big, the model will take off like a rocket, and you will see smoke trailing from the motor in flight.

This is where one of those wattmeters such as Astroflights wattmeter is almost required, when using different props on your $$$$ motors.

Wattflyer.com has a lot of information in many different threads on putting your own motor/esc/battery setup into an existing model airplane. It isn't hard to install a modern electric power system in a model that will outperform the same model with a glow engine. The big difference is the glow powered model can fly longer than electric. My models typically have a 6-7 minute flight time with a 3 minute reserve, in case some one is on the field, or whatever.

Here are only a couple of them.

Great Planes Giant Big Stick Electric Conversion
http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=65052

Thread on 70 size glow engine conversion to electric
http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=45222

Hacker 6S2P A123 powered Models
http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44686

Hangar 9 Kantana Model
http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=68844

AEAJR's Site on Electric Power
http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18521

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Old 04-25-2013, 05:15 PM   #140
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I'm not much on this comptuer. All that I have is E-mail, I guess.
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Old 04-25-2013, 05:18 PM   #141
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The information that I have recieved already is great. Didn't know that you had even ask me a question. Been doing some reading.
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Old 05-02-2013, 06:26 PM   #142
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Ed thanks so much for all info in this E-Book. It takes a lot of effort to share knowledge, experiences. Allows beginners, like me (64 yrs young), not to look to silly or misunderstood. I do thank you for guiding those which would be out there alone and unaware. Proned to makeing bad mistakes. To those who might otherwise ridcule or scoft, I laugh. From Texas, where its great Edward 2
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:13 PM   #143
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Originally Posted by Edward 2 View Post
Ed thanks so much for all info in this E-Book. It takes a lot of effort to share knowledge, experiences. Allows beginners, like me (64 yrs young), not to look to silly or misunderstood. I do thank you for guiding those which would be out there alone and unaware. Proned to makeing bad mistakes. To those who might otherwise ridcule or scoft, I laugh. From Texas, where its great Edward 2

Glad to be of help. Feel free to ask questions. Your questions will add to the knowledge base of the book.

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Old 05-03-2013, 02:37 AM   #144
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Aeajr
you are a nice fellow and a great supplier of info to new builders , I am glad to
know you are here !!
George
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Old 05-03-2013, 09:25 AM   #145
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:31 AM   #146
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c+v,keep it in my computer! thank you!
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:24 PM   #147
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Originally I was not going to include this in the book so it was posted as a separate thread. But since many pilots are entering RC flying with RTF electrics I have decided to include this as part of the book. Hopefully you will find it useful.



How To Select Your First Radio
by Ed Anderson

If you go through the beginner section on any of the major forums you will see this question, or some version of it over and over again. And you will see it in the advanced flying sections too. That’s because the radio is the single most important tool you will use to fly your model aircraft. Without the radio control system there is no radio control flying. So, how to choose?

If you are totally new, never flown, and if you are going to learn without using a buddy box, I usually recommend an RTF, ready to fly package that includes the airplane, radio, all the electronics already installed in the plane. It usually includes the battery and charger too. This eliminates so many decisions and considerations and points of confusion. This lets the pilot focus on learning to fly. Which RTF? That is a question for another discussion but there are lots of good ones out there. They all come with a radio that should be adequate to the task of flying that plane. And the value of the radio, in that package, is typically so small that even if you never use it for anything else, that’s OK.

Once you have your basic flying skills down, NOW we can start to discuss what you want and need in a radio that will carry you forward. You will have more time to read and talk to other pilots so you will have begun to learn about the aspects of RC flying. You will be better prepared to understand the information below and to address the questions we will ask as we try to guide you.


Standard vs. Computer Radios

A standard radio is one without model memories and usually very little, if any mixing capabilities. The Spektrum DX5e or the Hitec Laser 4 would be examples of standard radios. Standard radios are fine when you get them in RTFs or if you plan to have a dedicated radio for each plane. Otherwise get a computer radio that has model memories, usually called a computer radio. Enough on that topic.


Brands vs. Off Brands

There a lots of good radios out there. The major brands in North America are Futaba, JR, Spektrum, Hitec and Airtronics. I am going to add Tactic here as it is sold and supported by Hobbico, a major distributor/retailer that also distributes Futaba. I don’t think Tactic’s market share is all that big but I think it is going to grow.

All others have relatively small market shares, but that doesn’t mean they are bad. The major brands are all safe bets and all have great service. You will find those who love one over the other and those who hate one vs. the other. But in the end, they all have good products. If you go outside these brands you may get a great radio too but the level of service and support may not be up to the standards of the brands. So if you go outside the brands, consider where you will get help if you need it. Going “off brand” can be quite easy if your friend has one or if you a member of a forum with lots of users of this radio.


Budget

How much are you willing to spend? As you shop for radios notice that radios often come packaged with other stuff. That might be receivers, servos, cables, switches, etc. When you evaluate the price of one radio vs. another you MUST take into account what is included in the package. A $150 radio is not cheaper than a $180 radio package that comes with a $50 receiver.

The more you can spend, the more capable radio you can buy and the less important the rest of the questions become. Once you get over $400 for one of the brand name radios, they all pretty much can do what you are likely to need to do to fly almost anything, as long as they have enough channels. You will get all kinds of opinions from advanced pilots as to what is better for what, but they are talking shades of gray here. If you can spend $400 or more on a major brand radio, then buy whatever you like or whatever your friend has or what you see in the champion pilots flying in the radio ads.

If you don’t have $400 for a radio, then you have to be more selective. But you can still get a very capable radio for under $250. You just have to be a little more specific as we start finding limitations. Of course these limitation may not matter to you so don’t feel you are buying junk. Just maybe you are not buying a lot of stuff you don’t need.

When discussing budget, state a number. Asking for an inexpensive radio means nothing. When considering my needs, I consider $250, for the radio alone, an inexpensive radio. How about you? No matter what it is, start with a number. Does you budget include a receiver? Servos? State a number and then define it.

Naturally there are lots of used radios. Buying used radio is like buying a used car, it may be great or it may be a dog. When you buy used you take a risk. As long as you accept that, you can consider used. My two main radios were purchased used.

Last, forget about the “best” radio or the one that will last you the rest of your flying career. There is no best and we all tend to want to trade up after a while. But even a basic 6 channel computer radio can serve you for decades of flying fun if your needs are basic. I have friends who have been flying for decades, who are instructors and who are flying radios that they love but that would not meet my needs at all.


Trainer Port

Trainer ports have two main uses, working with a simulator and attaching to a buddy box. Will you be working with an instructor using a buddy box? If so, what radios will work with your instructor’s radio? If you are buying a simulator and want it to work with your radio, make sure the trainer port on your radio will work with that simulator. Buying a cool radio then not being able to get flying instructions or working with our simulator really doesn’t work well.


Types of Aircraft



Computer radios typically have some level of software for airplanes and most include some type of helicopter software too. This software can go from basic to advanced and usually the more advanced the software the higher the price of the radio. Many do not include specific software for sailplanes/gliders which are the same thing for the purposes of this discussion. That does not mean that you can’t use them to fly gliders. Gliders are just specialized forms of airplanes. What it means is that the radio’s software will not include the special mixes that many gliders pilots want. So, if you plan to fly gliders you may wish to look for a radio that includes glider mixes. If gliders/sailplanes are in your plans then read this article:
http://www.flyesl.org/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=223


There are also quad copters, aerial photography and first person view as other forms of flying. They may require special software or they may require extra channels. Before you buy a radio, talk to people who do this kind of flying. It would be very disappointing to buy a radio only to find it can’t fly the aircraft you just purchased.


How Does it Feel in Your Hand?

For many pilots this is the deciding factor between multiple radio choices. Let’s face it, we each have different hands, different size hands and how the radio feels in our hands matters. One of my good flying buddies purchased the same radio I have. I love it. However he hates how it feels in his hands so he purchased something else. If possible, try to pick up several different radios and see how they feel. Can you easily put the sticks in the far corners? Are the switches convenient? If it has side or rear sliders, are they convenient to work and reach? Don’t overlook the feel. For many this is the key factor.


How Many Channels?

While there are some interesting four and five channel computer radios, I am going to recommend you get a computer radios with six or more channels. I don't see any real benefit for having less than six channels, as the cost difference is small and the benefits of 6 or more channels is high. Even if you are flying a rudder elevator glider or 3 channel electric airplane today, next year you may be adding ailerons and flaps and landing gear. So get a radio that can handle at least that, and that would be 6 channels.

Why would you ever need more? Here is a typical channel breakdown, regardless of whether you are flying electric, glow, gas or gliders, giant scale or highly detailed scale models. Jets, advanced helicopters, first person view (FPV) may have other needs, but it still comes down to channels.

Rudder – 1 or 2
Elevator - 1 or 2
Ailerons - 1 to 4
Spoilers - 1 or 2
Flaps - 1 to 2
Tow hook - 1
Landing gear - 1
Motor – 1 to 2
Smoke, lights, Other – 1 to ?

That makes 4, 5, 6, up to 18 channels depending on what kind of aircraft you have and how you set it up. So how many do you need?

In my opinion, most sport flyers will be well served for a long time with a 6 channel entry to mid level sport computer radio but more channels could come in handy in the future. If you are planning to become a more serious competition pilot, plan to fly giant scale, full house sailplanes, jets or are very interested in having cameras, lights, smoke or other things on your plane, that you can control from the radio plan for more than 6 channels.


Basic Features

Most currently available new computer radios offer the following features. Regardless of what you are flying, I highly recommend your radio have these features.

* Model Memories (at least 10)
* Low Battery Warning
* Trims on the channels controlled by the stick(s).
* Timer – highly recommended but not required
* End Point Adjustment/Adjustable Travel Volume
* Subtrim (fine centering on the servos during set-up)
* Dual Rates and/or Exponential on ailerons and elevator.
If you are flying 3D you want it on the rudder too.
* Elevon/delta wing and V-tail mixes


If it doesn’t have at least these, don’t buy it!


Model Memories



How many planes do you plan to own and fly? Twenty years ago, when everyone was building kits, when electronics were costly, you might have 2 planes flying and maybe 3 in the hanger without servos, receiver or a motor. Oh, there were always guys with 30 planes, but if you had 3 models flyable then 3 model memories were plenty. Today, I would consider 10 the minimum. Planes are cheap, electronics are cheap and “bind and fly” types are so easy to pick up and take flying. Some radios will now let you save models to a memory card or to download them to your computer. If you can save aircraft profiles outside the radio, 10 model memories are probably plenty to hold what you are currently actively flying. If you can’t save them then I would consider 10 an absolute minimum. More is always better.


Type of flying and surface mixes

After model memories, surface mixes are one of the great features that computer radios bring to the game. Input to one control can move 2 or more servos in a coordinated fashion to create the kind of surface control you need. I use some mixes that move 5 servos at once. This can reduce the pilot's workload while providing very consistent behavior. In some cases these mixes can be overridden during the flight or can be turned on and off.

In the list below, where two surfaces are listed, the first is the master and the second follows, sometimes called the slave channel. The following list is what I would consider the minimum set I would want in even an entry level radio. They may be named mixes or they may be able to be created by “user mixes”.

* Flapperon - requires two aileron servos on separate channels
* Aileron to rudder mix (coordinated turns)
* Flap to elevator mixing for landing and glide path control.
* At least 1 user defined mix after the above.

You should find these on even the most entry level computer radio. If it doesn’t have these, I would recommend you don’t buy it.

For many pilots this is all they will ever need. But if you plan to get into full house sailplanes, competition pattern flying or other advanced forms of flying you may need other mixes. Talk to friends and people on the forums to ask them what mixes they use. Some are only available in those much more expensive radios so don’t put them on your required list unless you have the budget and REALLY need it. Remember, people flew RC aircraft for decades with 4 channel radios without any surface mixing, and so can you.


Receiver Selection


Without the receiver, the radio is useless, so receiver selection is important. If you are flying larger planes you may have lots of room for the receiver, but if you are flying small planes, the size and weight of the receiver can be critical. Putting a 1 ounce receiver in a 6 ounce plane just doesn’t make sense and it likely won’t fit. If you are into indoor flying or micro planes you want them really small and light. Some brands offer “bricks” that are ultra light packages that combine the receiver with the ESC and perhaps servos. If this is your interest, make sure your radio brand has these available.

If you have a 6 channel radio you can use a receiver that has more than 6 channels. Sometimes we use those extra slots for things that the radio does not control, like plane finders. So having receivers available with more slots than your radio can control might be useful.

Most 2.4 GHz radios have very specific protocols that are used for the radio to talk to the receiver. In many cases you must buy the same brand of receiver as radio. And in some cases there are different protocols within the brand. For example, Futaba has FASST and FHSS radios in their line. The receivers are specific to the protocol. So a Futaba FHSS radio can’t fly a Futaba FASST receiver even though they are both Futaba 2.4 GHz systems.

In the 72 MHz days it was common to find “compatible” receivers. For example, you could buy a Hitec or Berg receiver to use with your, Futaba, JR or Airtronics radio. That went away with the dawn of 2.4 GHz, but compatible receivers are now becoming available. Today there are compatible receivers for Spektrum/JR DSM2, Futaba FASST and Hitec AFHSS 2.4 GHz radios. There may be others as well. If the cost of receivers is important to you, and you would consider compatibles, then this may help influence your choice of radios.


Bind and Fly/TX-R/others

In the old days, 10 years ago, you purchased a plane and put a receive in it that worked with your radio. Today you can buy planes that are all set to go including servos, and receiver. That is great, but you have to have a matching radio in order to fly them. Horizon Hobby has a huge line of BnF, Bind and Fly planes. If you have a Spektrum or JR DSM2 or DSMX radio you can just buy these planes, bind them to your radio and go fly. Hobbico has come out with the transmitter ready, TX-R, planes. In this case they sell an external module, the AnyLink, that will work with many radios. Once you have an AnyLink module can fly any of their TX-R planes.

If BnF or TX-R matters to you, then you want a radio that will work with these aircraft. Not everyone cares, but if you do, take this into consideration.


Other Features

There are all kinds of special features appearing on radios. Telemetry, touch screens, the ability to update the software over the internet and so on. How important are these? You decide. Talk to those who love them and those who laugh at them, then make your decision.


The Best and the Last

People ask which is the best radio. There is no best. The best is the one that you can’t afford or that will be released 6 months after you buy the one you bought. So don’t worry about the best, concern yourself with what will work for you, your budget and your flying style. All of the major brands are good. And there are many “off brands” that are good as well.

Some people want to buy the radio that will last them a lifetime. Well, even and entry level computer radio can fulfill that, if your requirements never exceed the capability of the radio. But the fact is that we all get the bug to upgrade. So my suggestion is to look at something you feel will last you 3 to 5 years. Who knows what you will want in a radio 5 years from now. Ten years ago we did not have 2.4 GHz radios or radios that could be upgraded over the internet. So forget the forever radio. In the world of computers and electronics, 5 years is forever.

Now that we have covered the basics it is time for you to ask questions. Read the advertisements, look at the boxes, talk to friends and ask your questions. We are all here to help.


Resources:

Most of the major radio makers have a customer support forum on RC Universe.
Good place to see what kinds of questions/issues are being discussed.
http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/forumid_52/tt.htm

Radio Discussions – Some of the threads are HUGE.
It can be hard to separate fact from opinion or outright fiction but
at least you can see what is being discussed. Great place to ask questions.

RC Universe
http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/forumid_224/tt.htm
RC Groups
http://www.rcgroups.com/radios-135/

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www.lisf.org
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www.flyesl.org
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Old 08-12-2013, 03:26 PM   #148
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What Goes on Which Stick?
by Ed Anderson

aeajr on the forums

If you are flying an RTF electric plane, your radio and servos are already set-up for you.
However if you are setting up an ARF or finishing a kit, you will be installing your own radio
equipment. So, which stuff goes on which stick, and why?

We usually talk about what surface is controlled by what stick. However,
that is not really the right way to look at it.


First, the control axis:

Pitch - nose up/nose down - usually controlled by the elevator or elevator function
of elevons

Roll - rotation of the wings around the fuselage - controlled by ailerons or the aileron
function of elevons.

If the plane does not have ailerons or elevons, then roll can be controlled by the rudder
or the rudder function of a V tail rudervators, depending on the design of the plane. On
rudder only planes the rudder works with dihedral in the wings, the upward slant of the
wings, to roll the plane.

Yaw - movement of the nose left or right - controlled by rudder or the rudder function if V
tail ruddervators.

Speed - throttle control

If you are in a different part of the world, you may be flying mode 1, 3 or 4. I live in
North America where Mode 2 is the standard, so the rest of this post will be referencing mode 2 control positions.

Note that I mention Mode 2, which is marked with the * below.

Left stick ...............Right Stick ..................Mode

Pitch and Yaw .......Speed and Roll ..............1

Speed and Yaw*......Pitch and Roll*..............2*

Pitch and Roll ..........Speed and Yaw ...........3

Speed and Roll ........Pitch and Yaw .............4

For a power plane, landing gear, flaps and other such functions are assigned
to switches, buttons, dials, sliders or levers, but are not defined as part of the
mode definitions.

For a two stick radio, used in mode two format, the standard format in North
America, pitch and roll are on the right stick with roll ALWAYS being your
primary turning control. Yaw and speed control are on the left stick.

Based on mode 2 it is very easy to move from a dual stick to a single stick radio
as the right, or the only stick, always have has your primary fight controls of pitch and roll.

Primary Speed control

Since this is written for electric flyers, we will assume you have an electric motor.
On a two stick radio, the speed control is on the left stick and is controlled by the
motion that goes toward you to turn the motor off and away from you to give full
throttle. For a single stick radio the throttle control is usually on the left side and
will be a slide, switch or lever.

Where does the rudder go?

Confusion often exists around where to put the rudder. Depending on the design
of your plane, the rudder can play different roles so its placement can change. On
a three channel electric plane without ailerons, the rudder is your primary turning surface.
It provides both roll and yaw control so it goes on the right stick for roll control, as the
primary turning surface. This stick also has pitch control provided by the elevator. The
rudder will work with a feature of the wings, called dihedral or polyhedral, to roll or bank
the plane when you want to turn.

What if there are ailerons, or elevons?

Primary flight controls of pitch and roll are always on the right stick, or the only stick.
If this is a 3 channel plane with throttle, aileron and elevator controls only, like a flying
wing that has elevon controls (combined elevator aileron in one surface), now where do I
put things? Think of function rather than surface and you will know immediately. Which
surface provides roll control? In this case it is the ailerons, so they go on the right stick
with the elevator which provides pitch control.

If this is a 4 channel plane that has ailerons and a rudder, the ailerons are your primary
roll control, so they go on the right stick. The rudder moves to the left hand stick to provide
yaw control, which helps the ailerons turn the plane smoothly.

If you are flying off a runway, the rudder can be very valuable as it helps control your path
down the runway during take-off and landing. If you have a steerable ground wheel it is
usually attached to the rudder or the rudder channel. The rudder, in this configuration, also
plays a valuable part during landing when we may wish to redirect the nose of the plane without
tipping the wings using the ailerons.


Moving from single stick to dual stick radios

Some people feel it is confusing to move from a single stick radio to a dual stick, radio,
however, if you are flying mode 2, it really isn't confusing at all. If you think of your radio
and your controls in this manner, there is no confusion moving back and forth between single
stick and dual stick radios or between three channel R/E/T planes and A/E/T planes or planes
that are A/E/R/T.

On a single stick radio, pitch and roll are on the single stick, which happens to be oriented to
the right side of the radio. If this is a dual stick radio, pitch and roll are still on the right hand
stick. It doesn't matter if it is a rudder/elevator plane or an aileron/elevator plane. Pitch and roll
are on the right stick, or the only stick.

Think of your controls this way and there is never a doubt what goes where or which controls
to use when you switch between radios and planes.

I hope this was helpful.

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Old 04-09-2014, 11:31 PM   #149
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I have posted updates to some of the articles. I do that from time to time to keep them current.

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Old 06-07-2014, 03:57 AM   #150
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This book has extended beyond the strict focus of electric power system and
electric powered flight. Here, again, I will add an article/chapter that will be
helpful to the electric pilot but is not unique to electric. This is the same
process I use for gliders and the same process that one would use for glow, gas
and jets. I presume it applies to quads and copters too.


BASIC SERVOS SET-UP PROCESS

by Ed Anderson

If you are using a computer radio, establish a new model in a new memory slot
-Bind the receiver to the radio or memory slot

Before you put the servos in the plane connect them to the receiver on the channel
they will be on when mounted. This will center them and you can confirm they work
properly. Better to find out BEFORE you mount them. If you are going to have a
matched pair, such as two flaps servos, see if they move together exactly the same.
There can be slight variations between servos.


-Mount the receiver and servos with the control arms off or in a way that you can

remove them if possible. This allows you to re-position the servo arms as part of
the trimming set-up but make sure you can get the screws on the servo arms after
you are done.


-Mount the receiver and servos
-Connect the servos to the receiver

-Confirm you have each servo on the correct channel
-Confirm it is moving in the correct direction – use servo reverse if it is not.
-Connect the servo to the control arm

With the radio on, confirm that all the trims are centered.

Check to see that the control surface is centered and the servo arm will move freely
.....check for binding
.....check for flex of the control rod
.....check for restrictions that might block the servo from moving smoothly

If the surface/servo are not properly centered don't go to the radio first, center the servo mechanically as much as possible.
..... Lift the control horn off and reset it so that the surface is centered
......Adjust the clevis to center the surface.

Set your control throw using mechanical linkages as much as possible
...... use the control horn hole that is closest to the surface for the largest throw – furthest to reduce throw
.......use the servo arm hole that is furthest from the servo for the largest throw – closest to the servo for reduced throw
.......Only after doing this should you use the radio's subtrim, ATV/EPA features to do any centering or control throw adjustments.

When you have one servo right, then do the next till you have them all working correctly.

If you have flaps, make sure they move together, smoothly.

If you have flapperons, make sure they move as flaps together, smoothly.

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