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FT 3D Indoors?

Hi everyone!

Quick question. Is the FT 3D too big to fly in a decent sized school gym?

I'm looking to get my flying fix amid winter's wind and cold.

Haha. Okay. :)

Any suggestions then about a fun 4ch foam scratch build that's more gym sized?

I know the Ft Flyer and it's friends are good in a gym, but I don't want to get bored with it after investing the money for electronics.
Cool! That looks like a neat plane!

How about building one though?

Could I build a light 3D plane out of foam board that'd be small enough for a gym?

Two reasons for building: 1) I'm cheap. 2) It'd be fun.

And also, when it brakes, I can fix it easier. :)


creator of virtual planes
It should be possible to scratch build an indoor flyer. The FT Flyer is supposed to be decent indoors. I think the biggest thing is getting the right electronics. I've never messed around with indoor planes, especially 3D ones, but with the right electronics it would be possible. I think you could get away with a normal Rx, but you'd need the lightest ESC that is big enough for the amps the motor is running. You definitely need micro servos. Definitely a small, light motor. And the battery would have to be 500mah or less.

I've found that the lightest way to build is to use Dollar Tree Foam Board, remove the paper, and replace the paper with cheap packing tape. When Scotch brand claims that their tape is 30 times stronger, that isn't a lie. They do make some very cheap, thin, light stuff. DTFB is actually lighter if you remove the paper and replace it with the cheap packing tape and will take a beating better and last longer. I'm sure if you found a "profile" type plane and made it smaller, the size you want, you'd have a great indoor flyer. Again, as long as you use the right electronics.


creator of virtual planes
This sounds like a good motor with an 8x4 prop: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__26482__2205C_1400Kv_Brushless_motor_USA_Warehouse_.html

Get the smallest, lightest servos you can. Get the lightest 10-12amp ESC you can. And use a Zippy 500mah 2 (or 3) cell battery.

Then build a plane that kind of looks like this one:

But you could probably do it with two pieces. One piece will be the fuselage and rudder. The second piece would be the wings, a narrow fuselage, and the elevator. Make sure you have a really good "+" shape for the nose so you have plenty to mount the motor/firewall to. Maybe even mount some zip ties to the firewall and glue them to the foam board so you have a really good connection. (The zip tie would run down the fuselage.) You don't want the motor to pull out and the more surface area of the hard firewall and zip ties you have on the foam, the better.

You shouldn't need any airfoil. It's just added weight. You'll just have to fly with the nose up, which you might want to do with 3D anyway.

But you should be able to just make up a quick design for the plane. You could probably get away with leaving the paper on the foam board and using it for the hinges, but I think you'd be better off removing the paper and using packing tape to cover the plane and use the packing tape for the hinges. The lighter the plane is, the slower it can fly, and the easier it will be to keep it in a small space.
Awesome! Thanks for the help you guys!

A couple questions about the above.

1) I seem to have a bit of trouble getting perfectly flat foam board. Is that going to be a problem? Or will removing the paper, and re-taping it make it basically straight again?

2) You mentioned an 8x4 prop. The hobbyking description for that motor mentions a GWS9050 or a APC8x8.3. Are either one of those the same as what you mentioned? Or are you recommending something different?

I'm looking at one of these two props:



creator of virtual planes
I think the warping of foam tends to be the paper. So removing it will help to straighten it out. But I've build a few planes with warped foam board, not severely warped, and I didn't have any issues.

GWS9050 means that it's a 9x5 prop. When I said to go with the 8x4, I was going with what everyone else was saying about the motor in the discussion. That's usually the best place to look for info. Hobby King gets it wrong sometimes. But really most people said to go with an 8x3.8, but that's close enough to 8x4. I have some of those 9x5 props and then are very thin, which is good for such a small motor. So those might be fine.

Either prop you linked to should be fine. Maybe even order both and try both. But it looks like you linked props that are in the international warehouse. When dealing with Hobby King, it's a lot better to get everything from the USA warehouse. Shipping is A LOT less and takes much less time for your order to show up.

GWS props should work great for your applications because of how thin and light GWS props are. They break easily, but they're cheap and worth the weight savings.

Oh! Awesome. :)

I figured out how to search HK for just USA warehouse stuff. It looks like their selection is a bit more limited, but I found what I wanted I think. Will the increased price for some of the items be made up for in the saved shipping costs?

Will I need any small carbon fiber rods for re-enforcement? I've seen some people just tape them on top of the wings across the whole way. If so, what size? Something around 1-2mm?

I also think I need to get different packing tape. After what you said, I'm pretty sure mine's too thick. :)


Old age member
For indoor planes - you will need really light foam without any paper or packing tape. The carbon fiber rods are really thin - max 1 mm and fixed "kriss-kross" to make the plane ridgid. I do not know if you can see the rods on this pic .

You will find lots of plans and instructions to download on the net if you want to build yourself.


creator of virtual planes
I wonder if you cut a few holes into the foam and then covered it with saran wrap would work. Saran wrap doesn't weigh much and will fill the holes as far as the air is concerned. If the saran wrap isn't tight enough, a heat gun or blow dryer will shrink it tight. 1mm carbon fiber rods would probably be an improvement. One sheet of foam board tends to bend if your wings get too big and the bigger your plane is, the more "lift" it would create.

To be fully 3D you'll need your plane very, very light. But just to have something that can do a few basic aerobatics indoors, I don't think it needs to be super light. Especially if you have a good sized gym to fly in. You're plane might not be perfect or the best, but it should (at least I hope it will) be what you're looking for.

And yes, the USA warehouse can be a bit more for items, but you do save a lot of money on shipping and you'll get your stuff a lot faster. The USA warehouse doesn't have everything, but it has the most popular items.
Okay, guys!

So here's an update.

I did buy all the parts, and built it off the pattern of the Yak in this thread: http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=63237

THE PLANE FLIES GREAT. I love it! Only problem is, I'm just not skilled enough to fly it in a basketball gym. >.<

Oh, yes. I tried. For a whole afternoon. I had my hot-glue gun running in the corner the entire time, fixing something after each flight/crash. :p I went through about four props that afternoon. :p

Here's some pictures.
My kitchen at 2:30am:
2013-11-21 01.25.44.jpg

And here is the plane completed:
2013-11-21 02.37.52.jpg

The general construction was: foam board with paper removed, hot glue, and carbon-fiber struts. It's surprisingly sturdy! And it bends well in a crash. Which is good.

Just this week I colored it with Sharpies:
2013-12-03 22.16.02.jpg

Outdoors on a calm day, THIS PLANE IS A BLAST. It loops, it rolls, it knife-edges, it hovers, you name it! I just don't have the skills and the high-alfa practice for a basketball sized gym. :(

So, it's a really fun plane, but mission not quite accomplished. Thus my question is, is it possible to build a plane that will be even slower, and lighter, and more suited to the gym size? Or should I just wait till spring? :'(


Monkey/Bear Poker
Wow, what a rudder on that plane!

I think you need to start cutting holes wherever you can and cover with something. I am sure if you just lose more weight, you should be fine. Very much like what PGERTS showed in the post above.


creator of virtual planes
What size prop are you using? A bigger prop with less pitch might help. But less weight would be even better. I'm guessing that your electronics are the majority of the weight, but the real light stuff is expensive and might not be worth the extra money. Cutting some holes and covering the entire plane with saran wrap should lighten it. Hot glue is heavy, I'm not sure if you added much during your repairs. If you did, building a new plane with a bunch of holes in it and wrapped with saran wrap might be your best bet. Or practice flying in a small area some more.
I'm using a GWS 8x4 prop.

I think you're right about the electronics being the majority of the weight. I feel like, with more skill, this would be a fun plane in this gym size. Or, if I were to build a plane that wasn't as aerobatic, and had more wing area, that might be pretty easy to fly too.

I added a bit of glue in repairs. Not globs though.

I'm afraid that with more holes, it just wouldn't have the strength necessary.

Maybe my electronics are just a bit oversized for the room size.


creator of virtual planes
You're probably right about the holes weakening the plane too much to be worth it.

I know you need a rudder to do 3D, but if you made a simular plane that is just bank and yank, you'd save some weight and would hopefully have something that would be better for indoors. But having something simular that is easier to fly in your gym might be a good solution because you can practice in the small area. Once you get comfortable, then you can try this faster plane again.

I doubt it's worth the money for lighter electronics. If you got good enough with a plane that can hover, you should be able to do quick turns, hover, then fly a bit, hover again type of pattern. But that sounds really hard to get good at.


creator of virtual planes
If I remember right, the motor you're using can supposedly handle a 9x5 prop. That would be faster, but having more surface area on the prop should let you be able to fly slower. Might be worth a try. Might.