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Foam-Planes flyer wants to start in balsa kits

MarioGdV

Active member
#1
All the plane's I've flown are made out of foam. I was thinking in build a balsa plane after designing my own foam plane, and that's what I was doing until my PC crashed. I'm currently getting it repaired, but it will take a few weeks and I surely won't be able to recover the data, including the plans I was making. So I decided to make a balsa plane now, and later build the foamie I was designing.
The problem is that I don't know where to start. I've seen a few post with tons of balsa kits, but all of them are trainers. I think my flying skills aren't bad at all, so I'm not looking for a trainer, just a easy-to-build plane. I really like the Piper Cub J-3 and I would love to do the 1200mm kit from Banggood since I can use the 3S 2200mAh batteries I already have, and maybe put a FPV System inside it, like in this video.
I've read in the posts that those cheap kits are always a bad option due the quality and instructions.
So, what do I do? Is it too soon for the 1'2m kit? Should I buy another kit before that? I don't want to have many planes either. Maybe there's a easy-to-build plane that I can also use for FPV?
 

Turbojoe

Active member
#2
My experience for the last 30+ years has been balsa. I've looked at a few of the foam plans thinking they would be nice if drawn up for balsa. They may or not be easily convertible...... It could be more work than necessary for substance vs weight. WOW!!!!!!
 

Paracodespoder

Well-known member
#3
Check through over here first, even if you don’t want to scratchbuild it, it is a great place to see what kind of balsa planes are out there, plus it might convince you to scratchbuild one ;).
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#5
All the plane's I've flown are made out of foam. I was thinking in build a balsa plane after designing my own foam plane, and that's what I was doing until my PC crashed. I'm currently getting it repaired, but it will take a few weeks and I surely won't be able to recover the data, including the plans I was making. So I decided to make a balsa plane now, and later build the foamie I was designing.
The problem is that I don't know where to start. I've seen a few post with tons of balsa kits, but all of them are trainers. I think my flying skills aren't bad at all, so I'm not looking for a trainer, just a easy-to-build plane. I really like the Piper Cub J-3 and I would love to do the 1200mm kit from Banggood since I can use the 3S 2200mAh batteries I already have, and maybe put a FPV System inside it, like in this video.
I've read in the posts that those cheap kits are always a bad option due the quality and instructions.
So, what do I do? Is it too soon for the 1'2m kit? Should I buy another kit before that? I don't want to have many planes either. Maybe there's a easy-to-build plane that I can also use for FPV?
Hi @MarioGdV ! I'd like to introduce myself as... (drumroll please...) RockyBoy's Balsa Kit Finding Service!:p

But seriously, there's a great thread on Balsa Kit makers over here: https://forum.flitetest.com/index.php?threads/balsa-kit-manufacturers.35042/ where we talk about what you can expect from each manufacturer in general, and I LOVE helping people find kits! :love:

The downside is I usually end up buying more kits myself whenever do it... :eek:

So let's get started!!

First, for anyone building their first ever Balsa kit these are manufacturers I recommend these days.

https://www.stevensaero.com/
http://www.mountainmodels.com/
http://lainesplanes.com/
http://hobbyexpress.com/airplanes/telemaster/ - but only the Telemaster line here - their other stuff gets advanced very quickly
http://oldschoolmodels.com/rc-kits.htm

These folks know their stuff - the designs take full advantage of the precision of laser cutting and the parts fit together like a puzzle, and you don't have to pin each piece to a building board to keep it aligned. In most cases, you can almost assemble the entire plane without a drop of glue to make sure you have the parts in the right place, and then go back and wick in a little thin CA to lock it all in place. I even met a guy at Flite Fest who built a Laine's Planes Cuda on the table in his RV (caravan) while they were driving to the event - and it came out straight and flew great!

Don't get me wrong here - there are other manufacturers with great kits, and some of those great kits are even easy for a beginner. But with a Sig or Dumas kit you will much more likely find a design where you need to pin all the parts in place cut pieces to size and glue together each part of the assembly - keeping everything aligned to the plans - before moving onto the next step. We all love this type of construction too, but I recommend saving that for your second kit.

To keep using the investment you've got in 3s2200 batteries, you're probably in that 1,2 meter size range. If you like the styling of the classic Piper Cub I'd recommend looking at..
All of these could be modified to add FPV gear, but I've seen it done and it's very easy with the Cuda - nothing in the way of the view either!

Let me know if any of these suggestions are helpful, or if looking over these gives you different ideas of what you might be interested in.

Here at RockyBoy Balsa Kit Finding Service, we're not happy till you're building! :p
 

jaredstrees

Well-known member
#6
If you don't mind sourcing some 1300mah 3s, the switchback sport from mountain models is a fantastic flyer that makes a pretty good low wing trainer, also the dandy from mountain models would be a great choice as a high wing plane. Again, you'd want some smaller batteries. The switchback was my first balsa kit, and I would build another in a second. It was also an easy build, so as a first kit it helped me be successful! Good luck!
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#7
If you don't mind sourcing some 1300mah 3s, the switchback sport from mountain models is a fantastic flyer that makes a pretty good low wing trainer, also the dandy from mountain models would be a great choice as a high wing plane. Again, you'd want some smaller batteries. The switchback was my first balsa kit, and I would build another in a second. It was also an easy build, so as a first kit it helped me be successful! Good luck!
Excellent suggestions! The EVA from Mountain Models is another excellent one with the 3s1300 to 3s1800 sized batteries. When I finished building my first EVA I bought a second kit right away - love how it builds and flys! The 2200's would be a little to wide and heavy for these though.
 

MarioGdV

Active member
#8
Wow, thank you all for the help. I didn't expect so much attention.
I entered in this post and I think I'm going to get a plane from the Manzano Laser website. They look nice and cheap, and there a lot of planes to choose. The batteries required are 2S, but I think using a 3S is not going to be a problem. What do you think? Is 2200 mAh too heavy? I have a 3S 1800 mAh battery I can use as well, but is just sightly smaller. My second option is the Robin Hood 25, from Old School Models (that @rockyboy recommended me). I'm going to keep searching more options anyways. Thank you!
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#9
You're welcome! It's fun to help enable another builder :D

I have my first kit from Manzano Lazer works on the shelf and the quality looks great. The cuts and wood quality looks very nice and the plans printing is good. Because the planes are all from different designers I think there will be a wide range of difficulty levels for their kits, but don't let that stop you from ordering from them. If you run into any problems just ask - lots of us here to help! Please start a build thread even if you aren't have problema and post pictures so we can all cheer you on, drool, and offer advice anyway. :D

As far as running a 2200 vs 1800 it all depends on the design - some will have plenty of space and not mind the weight, others might not have room. Which Manzano kits were you looking at?
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#11
Radical RC Stik 400 sure looks like an easy building starter kit for people new to balsa. There’s a recent thread in this forum.
I haven't built any RadicalRC planes but I am in the middle of building their dual transmitter case. And the instructions level are not for beginners . It's a picture of all the parts in an exploded view and two pages of text. Yes it is possible to build the case from these but I made two errors in assembly. Luckily I was able to deal with the errors and still have a good looking case - but it's enough to make me want to buy a second kit so I can assemble it better the second time.

I am not sure if their plane instructions are better suited for new builders - which sounds like a good reason for me to buy one of their kits! :D
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#12
I haven't built any RadicalRC planes but I am in the middle of building their dual transmitter case. And the instructions level are not for beginners . It's a picture of all the parts in an exploded view and two pages of text. Yes it is possible to build the case from these but I made two errors in assembly. Luckily I was able to deal with the errors and still have a good looking case - but it's enough to make me want to buy a second kit so I can assemble it better the second time.

I am not sure if their plane instructions are better suited for new builders - which sounds like a good reason for me to buy one of their kits! :D
Umm.... yeah. I now have a Radical RC Stick 600 kit coming in the mail! Not sure what happened :unsure: I must have blacked out for a moment :p
 

MarioGdV

Active member
#13
Okay, I checked all the links in the balsa kit manufacturers post, and these are the ones I've chosen (I was looking for a J-3, so most of them are that model):

- Alienaircraft Piper Cub J-3 42". Uses a 3S 1250 (or more) mAh battery.
- Manzano Laser C-170b 44”. 2S 1500 mAh. However, I saw the build thread and it looks way more difficult than the Banggood kit I was going to buy in the beginning.
- Manzano Laser Piper Cub J-3 40". 2S 430 mAh battery. I guess it doesn't have enough space for the 3S 2200 mAh I want to use.
- Manzano Laser Piper Cub Pa-12 Supercruiser 44". 2S 1500 mAh.
- Old School Models Robin Hood 25. It has 52" and capable of 3S batteries (it doesn't show the mAh, but it looks big enough. The problem is that it cost 100$, and I guess the shipping to Spain is going to be expensive as well.
- Banggood Piper Cub J-3 1'2m (47"). It supports 3S 2200 mAh, and I can put the FPV system on it. The only problem I see is that maybe it's not a good option for a first build, but I think it's the one I'm gonna buy. There's also a 1180mm model that cost 50$, but the wind shield (is that how it's called?) is black, so I can't do FPV.

I've seen other good kits, but they're more expensive than the kits I've selected. Also, I need to buy the covering film and the iron. Maybe a heat gun too (I don't know if the heat gun is necessary).
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#14
The Banggood Piper looks pretty close to the price of the Robin Hood, but yeah - shipping could be expensive for the kits coming from the US.

The challenge with the Banggood kits is the instructions are likely to be a waste of the paper they are printed on. With both Banggood kits I purchased the instructions were incomplete, confusing, and just plain wrong in many cases showing parts that didn't exist in the kit and missing others, which lead me to believe the instructions were written for a different version of the kit than the ones they shipped.

I'd still recommend the Robin Hood, or the Alienaircraft / Sig one at the top of your list. With that one you can download the instructions before you buy it too, and it's going to be a great flyer.

If you do go with the Banggood one, there are lots of us here on the forums to help out - we're here for you :D Start a build thread, let us know where it is so we can follow it, and post lots and lots of pictures. :D

On the equipment side, a heat gun is not necessary, and very easy to burn holes in covering. I don't use mine very often. Just get a covering iron with an adjustable temperature and it will be able to do all the shrinking and attaching you need.
 
#15
I haven't built any RadicalRC planes but I am in the middle of building their dual transmitter case. And the instructions level are not for beginners . It's a picture of all the parts in an exploded view and two pages of text. Yes it is possible to build the case from these but I made two errors in assembly. Luckily I was able to deal with the errors and still have a good looking case - but it's enough to make me want to buy a second kit so I can assemble it better the second time.

I am not sure if their plane instructions are better suited for new builders - which sounds like a good reason for me to buy one of their kits! :D
I’m just finishing up my BMJR Stik and I kind of feel the same way about it. There ended up being some fairly extensive mods to make it work with the sport wing too. Mountain Models was the gold standard, but I’m not sure the customer service is where it needs to be with the owner working full time elsewhere and looking to sell.

Balsa has become a tiny niche market unfortunately.
 

jaredstrees

Well-known member
#16
I've gotten good responses from Mountain Models lately. If he's got it in stock, he usually gets it out pretty quick.

As far as Radical RC goes, Their mini stick went together great and flies well, but I've not been impressed with their customer service. I ordered a stick 400 in October and have yet to receive it. It was in stock when I ordered it, but received an email a couple days later stating it was out of stock. It's now been 5 months and they still say they are awaiting packaging. I'll get a response every time I send an email stating that they'll check, but never get a follow up email after that.

Good luck with whatever you choose!
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#17
My most recent order from Mountain Models was last summer, and I received it in less than 2 weeks.

I just ordered a Radical RC 600 Stick late last week and will let everyone know the shipping time when it arrives.
 

Chuppster

Well-known member
#18
I'm about 2/3 of the way done with my first balsa build. I decided to cut my own rather than get a kit. I found free plans for Das Ugly Stik (It's a 60" ws, quite a bit bigger than you're looking for) and it's been a lot of fun. I'm modifying a few things to give it a bolt-on wing and bigger control surfaces. It's probably not for everyone but I'm having a lot of fun so I'll recommend it.
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#19
My most recent order from Mountain Models was last summer, and I received it in less than 2 weeks.

I just ordered a Radical RC 600 Stick late last week and will let everyone know the shipping time when it arrives.
And I just received a shipping notice from Radical RC - order placed Friday March 8 and shipped Monday March 11 - pretty good response time!

I'm about 2/3 of the way done with my first balsa build. I decided to cut my own rather than get a kit. I found free plans for Das Ugly Stik (It's a 60" ws, quite a bit bigger than you're looking for) and it's been a lot of fun. I'm modifying a few things to give it a bolt-on wing and bigger control surfaces. It's probably not for everyone but I'm having a lot of fun so I'll recommend it.
Awesome!! :D

Do you have a build thread and pictures shared yet? We want to watch! :D :D
 

Chuppster

Well-known member
#20
And I just received a shipping notice from Radical RC - order placed Friday March 8 and shipped Monday March 11 - pretty good response time!



Awesome!! :D

Do you have a build thread and pictures shared yet? We want to watch! :D:D
I wish I had time to do a build thread, but I want to spend what free time I have building. Here's a few pics from progress.


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