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4 Months In: a newbie’s perspective on starting in the hobby.

#1
4 Months In: a newbie’s perspective on starting in the hobby.

I decided to dive into the RC hobby about 4 months ago. I have learned a lot and have a lot to learn. I wanted to write a quick post about my experience so far and a few tips and tricks I have learned along the way.

First of all this is my first post to the Flite Test forums and I am excited to join the community. I stumbled upon Flite Tests YouTube channel about 6 months ago. About 4 months ago after watching 100’s of FT videos I decided to dive in head first. I found an ad on craigslist for a sweet mini Hawker Hurricane for $60 with battery. After I bought the plane I waited for my Flysky I6 transmitter to come in from Amazon and practiced on RC Desk simulator with a PS4 controller. Finally after a couple of days of practice I plugged in all my electronics and went to the park behind my house. I did a simple preflight check and threw my plane into the air. To my surprise I was able to keep it up for about 10-15 seconds before pile driving it into ground. After about 4 more days of attempted flying with no success my Hurricane was not airworthy any more.

I then decided to order a powerpack and the mini warbird pack from FT. I loved building the planes and found the build videos amazingly helpful. After destroying both the Mustang and the Corsair in a short amount of time, I decided that the 2 FT Joshes probably knew what they were talking about in their beginner series on how to pick a plane. I smartened up and downloaded the plans for the FT Tiny Trainer. I learned a lot from my first scratch build and this was the first plane I had success flying with. Since then I bought a Darafly Tundra, scratch built an FT Sportster, FT Scout, and made an extended version of the FT Tiny Trainer I use as a powered guilder. I have recently bought a Mobius action camera and have been taking arial videos. This hobby has been very gratifying and I have really enjoyed it even with the steep learning curve.

I wanted to help others that are getting into the hobby with a couple of tips that I have found. I also have some questions for you experts that I have had trouble finding answers for.

Newbie Tips and Tricks:

1. Take your propeller off when setting up anything on your plane.(Propellers hurt)

2. When you cut foam board put your ruler on the part of the foam that will be the plane. That way if your razor slides off track it just goes into spare foam because your ruler is protecting your model.

3. Make the foam work for you. I found myself trying to cut at weird angles instead of just turning the foam board to make it easy on myself. This will make your lines come out much more consistent.

4. Electronics need ventilation. I have blown up 2 ESC’s now because they were not properly cooled. Make sure you cut a couple of holes to get airflow over ESC’s and other electronics. Foam is a great insulator and these things get HOT.

5. Touch up on your plane. Don’t be afraid to add access points in the fuselage if you need them or trim down the area around the control surfaces to make them move easier. These foam board plane are very resilient.

6. Paint after your maiden flight. I made the mistake of spending hours on a paint job for the mini Mustang before I flew it and if it flew so terribly all that work was destroyed in the first 2 or 3 throws.

7. Study your plane’s stall characteristics. This seems to be something I did not pick up until I started stalling my planes on purpose. When you watch a video on stalls they use a lot of language that a new pilot might not understand. My advice is to take your plane up very high and stall it intentionally to see how it handles a stall and it will also give you a feel of where the stall threshold is.

8. Start bleeding off speed and elevation early when you are approaching for landing. It is much easier to add a little throttle if you are coming in short than it is to safely drop speed or elevation quickly. I have overshot a few landing strips because of this. Also do not be afraid to bail on a landing and make another pass.

9. Have a real preflight checklist. There are many things that have resulted in destruction of one of my planes and most of them could have been prevented with a better preflight checklist. There are many great resources for checklists on Flite Test but I would like to add one thing to it, wear your sunglasses. I have lost multiple planes into the sun because I had no sunglasses on.

Newbie Questions

1. What are the signs that I am swinging a prop that is too big? Will it just blow the motor ESC? What about signs that I can go up in prop size?

2. CW and CCW props, motors and prop adapters. I want to make a dual motor plane for my next project and want to have opposite spinning props. I can not find prop collets that have a CCW thread. I am afraid to lose a prop in flight if I use the incorrect thread.

3. Landing gears are hard. I have not had much success with landing gears. They tend to be a little lopsided or bow legged when I make them. Any advice for a noob?

4. Are there any GoPro mounting options that give you a better view? Right now all of my planes are puller props and the prop is always in the way of the camera. Is there a huge downfall of making a raised platform on the back of my glider to get the camera higher and to a better angle? Or do I just need to make a pusher?

If you have made it this far into my post thank you for reading this. I hope this can maybe help a newcomer avoid some of the mistakes I have made and also maybe help me become a better pilot and builder in the meantime. I live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and if anyone is in my area that would like to fly together please hit me up.Thanks!

Below is a link to a couple of my recorded flights and some pictures of previous builds.



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Last edited:

foamtest

Toothpick glider kid
#2
Prop question.
For most motors you can look online to see what the proper size and pitch prop your motor and esc can handle. Those diagrams usually list amps so that is how you can determine if your esc can handle the prop. Another way is to just fly it and if the motor or esc is too hot to touch the prop is either too large or the pitch on it is too steep.

Prop nut question.
I have had no problems with using the stock prop nut in both counter clockwise and clockwise directions. The only time it came off is when I crashed the plane. You can also go to the hardware store with the motor and get some lock nuts if you want to make certain it does not fall off.

Landing gear question.
I would try and find some thick wire (I am unsure of the correct thickness unfortunately) to use for landing gear instead of the 3d printed ones. However I bet that there are some really good 3d printed options for landing gear I just don't know of any off hand.

Camera question.
If you don't want to see the prop then a pusher is the right way to go, and for your tractor airplanes I would recommend just pointing it at cool angles to try and get some interesting shots. I personally like pointing mine at the tail from the fuselage or the wing tip. I will warn however if you try the wingtip option make sure that you put something of equal weight on the other wing about the same distance out from the fuselage as the camera is.

I hope this helped!
 

PsyBorg

Wake up! Time to fly!
#6
Welome to Flite Test mate.

Seems you came outta the gate hard n fast. Welcome to the overzealous club. I have yet to graduate myself as the few plank threads I have started prove.

Glad you stepped back and started at the beginning and are able to enjoy flying.
 
#9
Wow, thanks much for the feedback "post-experience". Your list is very helpful.

I was planning on diving in on my first build (Storch) this weekend but now I'm taking my time looking soaking up as many vids as I can so I know what to expect. Particularly because the full-build Storch video from Josh is very fast-paced for a newbie builder like me (almost fast forward, in pace) and it's easy to get lost in what he's doing as he covers so much ground in only 1hr. I was anxious to get up in the air but now I really want to take my time and enjoy the build process.

By the way, question regarding cameras. It seems the Mobius is a popular camera option. I already own a gopro knockoff - is there any reason to go with a Mobius over a Gopro? The Mobius seems more compact, but already owning a gopro, is there a practical way to mount that on a storch?
 
#10
Thanks for your kind words. I actually own a Mobius Maxi and an old GoPro. I prefer the Mobius for the price. I am not sure on the mount for the Storch as I have not built one but I am sure someone on here has.
 
#13
Thanks for the thread JamesonOKC....always love hearing people share their experiences, good and bad. I still feel like a newbie even though I have some experience with flying and FT models, but I do think you've even taught me some things with your post. There's always room and time for growth and improvement.
 
#14
Thank you basslord! That's why I joined the forum. I thought the best way to better myself is to surround myself with people with different experiences and expertise and try and learn from them. Love your avatar BTW
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#15
Thanks for the thread JamesonOKC....always love hearing people share their experiences, good and bad. I still feel like a newbie even though I have some experience with flying and FT models, but I do think you've even taught me some things with your post. There's always room and time for growth and improvement.
That's half the fun of these discussions - something might take a bit of a birdwalk, but you learn some valuable information. :) Like, for example, how to tell if a prop is sized correctly; there's a tool out there called a watt meter. You can connect up in-line to your battery (and here's where it gets tricky), lock down your plane (gas/glow engine planes usually have a table that has restraining posts that they use to test their planes before putting them up in the air), and then throw a couple of quick bursts up to 50-75% throttle. If you start exceeding the max wattage of the motor within that range, stop and change out your prop to something smaller or lighter pitch. Otherwise, you're going to burn up something electrical, like an ESC or motor, mid-flight, and turn your plane into a lawn dart. :(
 
#16
Love your avatar BTW
Haha Thanks. :D My wife created that using watercolor painting. I just scanned it. It's a cartoonized version of a Hobbyzone Champ, one of the main planes that got me flying. I nicknamed my Champ Teddy (after Teddy DuChamp from Stand By Me). He's kinda become my mascot lol.
 
#17
That's half the fun of these discussions - something might take a bit of a birdwalk, but you learn some valuable information. :) Like, for example, how to tell if a prop is sized correctly; there's a tool out there called a watt meter. You can connect up in-line to your battery (and here's where it gets tricky), lock down your plane (gas/glow engine planes usually have a table that has restraining posts that they use to test their planes before putting them up in the air), and then throw a couple of quick bursts up to 50-75% throttle. If you start exceeding the max wattage of the motor within that range, stop and change out your prop to something smaller or lighter pitch. Otherwise, you're going to burn up something electrical, like an ESC or motor, mid-flight, and turn your plane into a lawn dart. :(
I actually picked up a watt meter today thinking I could use that but had no idea how. Thank you for the info!
 

mayan

Legendary member
#18
For the landing gear I found that 1.6 steel wire does the trick even on large plans like the Simple Cub. Had a few issues with that myself until I tried the 1.6mm steel wire.