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Hello FT World!

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#1
Hello everyone!

Guess I'm the new guy around here (for the moment).

A little background. I live in central California and I'm actually a degreed mechanical engineer.

Off and on for years I've had an interest in RC. Growing up I had cheap RC cars (the good ole 49 and 72 MHz days). Around 2010 I started dabbling with RC planes. I bought a Ready To Fly high wing foam 3-channel from a local hobby store and proceeded to crack the wing and fuselage more times than I can help. I finally abandoned the plane when no amount of CA glue was going to fix it and I was tired of sinking money into replacement parts. I also realized I had issues judging distance and when to turn with RC planes.

A couple years later I decided I would try my hand at helicopters, I figured it was worth the learning curve because I could keep the craft in a smaller area. I bought a RTF Blade CX2 and had some fun, got decent with hovering and then decided to mod the heck out of it. After considerable research I decided to try and make the jump to a full collective pitch 450 size heli. I bought a Hobbyking 450GT kit and parts and bought a brand new Futaba T7C (helicopter configured) radio. 2.4 GHz edition.

I had some success flying the 450 until a set screw came loose on the tail rotor and the head rotor was utterly destroyed on impact. I decided this was a decent time to convert it to flybarless. Then my senior year of engineering school hit me and I shelfed all RC activities.

Somewhere in there I bought a FlySky TH9x radio, a programming companion board, loaded custom firmware on it and installed a Futaba compatible transmitter pack (since all I had at that point was Futaba receivers). After that, the radio sat. This was before the FrSky Taranis was a product.

I've tried to get back into the hobby a couple times but have found myself overwhelmed because I can't recall where I left off on my projects. I also get discouraged by the prospect of sinking money into brand name models and cracking them up.

Recently I discovered the FliteTest YouTube channel and have really enjoyed the DIY builds, in particular the cardboard planes. I have LOTS of cardboard and I could even get dollar store foam board if needed. I have some brushless outrunner motors leftover from my helicopter projects and some ESCs.

So I'm hoping to find a nice SLOW flying park flyer plane I can build with readily available materials that I won't be afraid to hit the ground with.

I'm also curious if I should consider buying a new transmitter or if I should stick with the Futaba T7C.

In any case, that's my long story. Anyone have some quick thoughts on the transmitter front? Keep or sell?

-Mad Mechanic
 

Paracodespoder

Well-known member
#2
Welcome, you've come to the right place to learn how to fly ;). Good luck flying. On the topic of the radio, not sure, if you want a different one, the Taranis qx7 is a good radio that gives you plenty of room to grow (and it's sort of cheap at about $140).
 

Headbang

Well-known member
#4
Welcome!

Use what you got! Do things the best way to make it fun for YOU. No point in sinking a bunch of money into something until you get more experience under your belt. There will plenty of time later to spend many thousands of dollars lol

Best part about fixed wing is it does not take much to get in the air. You can strap a few servos and a motor onto a pizza box and make it fly (not well, but it could fly!)
 

Arcfyre

Well-known member
#5
Welcome!

Try a FT Storch. It's a bigger bird & if you paint it some bold colors it should be fairly easy to maintain orientation. It flies extremely slowly, I think FT made a video of it flying backwards on a windy day. Also has robust landing gear and can definitely take some hits.
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#6
Thank you all for the warm welcome!

@Arcfyre - I will check out the FT Storch, sounds like it might be what I'm looking for.

As for the radio, I suspect it is probably better for the time being to use what I have. It would be cheaper this way (at least for now) and I do already own two good radios.
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#7
@Arcfyre - I'm looking at the FT store and I see the 'Simple Storch' ($39 speed build kit without electronics) which specifies a 'Power Pack C'. That's a pretty sizeable wing it has at basically 1.5m (about 5 foot). I bet it would be pretty stable in the air. Is this the airframe you are referring to?

https://store.flitetest.com/flite-t...electric-airplane-kit-1460mm-flt-1016/p673680


I also see they have a FT Simple Cub which uses a power pack B and has a smaller wing at ~1m (about 3.25 ft). I'm guessing this would be a bit less stable in the air?

https://store.flitetest.com/flite-test-simple-cub-electric-airplane-kit-956mm-flt-1053/p675949
 

FDS

Well-known member
#9
The Tiny Trainer has been good to me and many others. It’s easy to repair, store, transport and mod.
The Mini Scout is reputedly very nice, it’s also ideal for smaller spaces and flying fields. It’s next on my build list! It’s very forgiving, the big one is less fun, I have made it and flown it but it’s huge and floaty, which is fine until the wind gets up or you have to put it in a car.
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#10
I don't mind big and floaty if it's beginner friendly, however I'm also intrigued by the FT Explorer. The high mount pusher configuration looks like it could save me on buying replacement props constantly.

However, I could see it being a more complicated build than the storch or a tiny trainer.

Anyone have any experience with the Explorer?
 

Arcfyre

Well-known member
#11
I've never built an explorer, but based on what I've read here, they seem to consistently have two main problems.

1. When finished, they often turn out tail heavy requiring a nose extension to balance properly or an overly large battery.

2. The stock wing seems to fold in flight. The solution here is apparently to build the wing with carbon or wooden internal reinforcement.

Other than that, the pusher config is nice because it does save props. The downside is you can't swing a big, slow, and efficient prop like you can on a tractor like the Storch.
 

kilroy07

Well-known member
#13
I’ve built both. If you want to go smaller the tint trainer is a great starter plane.

Bigger planes fly better however and the Storch is a great flyer. It is a slightly more difficult build than the tiny trainer.

Another great flyer that will use the same power plant as the Storch is the simple scout. The mini is a bit more of a handfulll flying so (for a first flyer) I recommend the full sized version.

That said, these are just my opinion and from my experience. Yours might vary.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#14
Another point, if you have undercarriage you won’t buy props. I have never needed a new prop, in 4 months of crash based learning. Unless you come down full throttle at high angle. If that happens the prop is the least of your worries. The Scout has undercarriage and the TT can be adapted to take it, either rubber banded on the bottom or slotted into the fuselage.
There is lots of transmitter chat on the forums! Everyone has a preference. Choice depends on budget, what planes you want to fly (Bind N Fly particularly) and how much learning you want to do. Don’t just pony up for Spektrum because it’s “what everyone seems to use” and DO research thoroughly, as a good transmitter will get you up quickly and last a long time in the hobby, a bad one will be frustrating and potentially expensive. If possible get hands on with your choices to see if they fit your hand and control style too. A store is good for that.
 
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mayan

Well-known member
#15
You do have flying experience which is good. I’d also go with the Tiny Trainer. Which is a great fast or slow flyer. Easily modified. And is overall very fun. If you want a bigger model than I’d go for the Storch which from what I have been told is very similar to the Tiny Trainer in flight, just bigger.
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#16
@FDS - I certainly appreciate the value of doing research on transmitters. Before I bought my Futaba T7C I remember doing a lot of reading over at the HeliFreak forum, this was in 2012. There were two things that sold me on the Futaba at the time. First (as memory serves), this was in the earlier days of Spektrum where they were prone to signal issues and brownouts. Also, the T7C was the transmitter used in a very good video series on setting up a 450 class helicopter. I liked the idea of having the same exact transmitter that the video used to avoid confusion of hunting through menus.

I later bought a FlySky TH9X (same as a Turnigy 9x and others) because I like tinkering. I installed a backlit screen, a Futaba FASST Tx module, and lastly a no-solder reprogramming board. I put the ER9X firmware on and was able to use this radio for a couple test flights with helicopter models smaller than the 450, but beyond that I haven't done much with it.

I completely agree with the sentiment of don't just buy what everyone else is using just because that's what everyone else is using. All of my local stores are Spektrum dealers and I actually had to special order the Futaba, which earned me a few funny looks from the employees at my local hobby store. They didn't understand why I would specifically want a Futaba when they had all these brand new Spektrum transmitters on their shelves.

Clearly it has been years since then and I'm not trying to say that Spektrum is bad stuff, quite contrary they have a large following and there are many pilots out there that love them.

Here is what would interest me in a new radio if I decide to sell my Futaba T7C and the FrSky 9x.

#1 - Screen Size - I would love to have a larger LCD screen to make reading the screen easier. The 7C has a smaller screen than the 9x does.

#2 - Programming Ease - I'm not going to pretend that there is a computerized radio that any novice can pick up and program without looking at a manual, but one of the things that kinda turned me off of the 9X after I installed ER9X was the shear overwhelming programming potential. That's where the 7C is actually rather nice.

#3 - Radio Signal Strength/Integrity - As we all know, nothing is more frustrating than loosing connection to the model and watching it sail off into the sunset, a tree or the ground. I can honestly say that for as long as I have been using Futaba Tx/Rx setups I have never lost contact with a model. I'm not going to say it isn't possible for Futaba to suffer signal loss, but it hasn't happened to me so I've been very happy with their FASST system.

#4 - Longevity - What I mean here is that if I'm going to invest in a radio, I would like it to last quite a long time, possibly my entire hobby life. With that said, I'm not willing to pony up for the super top end radios. Something mid-range would be good.

What I don't care about would primarily be Bind-n-Fly compatibility. If an off the shelf model really interested me enough to want to buy it and it was only available as Bind-n-Fly then I would not have a problem trying to figure out how to switch it over to whatever transmitter setup I choose.

Right now however, I really like what FliteTest has been doing with their foam board models. The idea of using dollar store foam board is awesome. For that matter I really liked one of the more recent videos where Bixler built a plane using cardboard pizza boxes, and I have a lot of nice large sheets of cardboard in my garage.

I also started taking an inventory of parts I have on hand and other than lacking control rods I have quite a few 9g servos (hobbyking stuff) and I even have some really nice Savox metal gear servos that I was using on my 450 helicopter (which is still in pieces).

Also, if I wanted to get really fancy, I have a brnad new, never flown Eznov Neuron gyro which supposedly works on Helicopters, Quads and Fixed Wings, so perhaps I could use that for some heading hold or bail-out flight function. If that doesn't work, I have at least 1 of the infamous HobbyKing 401B gyro which FliteTest did a video on for fixed wing aircraft.
 
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FDS

Well-known member
#17
Futaba was THE radio when I started in 1988. All the "serious" people had them.
If you are looking to just build and fly FT models, a simple, robust 8 channel would do the job. The only proramming I have found necessary to get FT design up and flying is bind, set dual rates and expo, sub trim then maybe a little mixing and easy Elevon settings for wings or some of the more advanced models. I have an Open TX radio but the learning curve for that is precipitous, which it sounds like you have been there and done that.
A decent 2.4ghz set up with a reliable receiver, the antennae set right in a foam plane will go well over a km, certainly above the statutory max altitude set by most countries. I am sure if your current Futaba set up works well then there is probably no need to change it. I would build some stuff with what you have already.
You can get modules for long range work that will maintain a reliable connection at over 20km, which I can't see any use for with foamy flying in most countries, specially those with LOS only flight.
 

basslord1124

Well-known member
#18
I won't touch much on the radio side of things...everybody has their own personal preference. I got started with a Hobbyzone Champ, so I've been using Spektrum ever since. Never had any issues *knocks on wood* and I've grown used to their setup, menus, etc. And I generally purchase the knock-off Spektrum receivers (shhh don't tell anyone) unless it's a nice expensive model.

As for beginner planes, best bet is usually always a high wing cub style. So the FT Simple Cub, FT Storch, FT Old Fogey, etc. And it helps more too if it has some dihedral in the wings so it can self right. The only one of those I have true experience with is the Storch and as you have already heard, is a good floaty flyer. I have built a Simple Cub but haven't had a good nice "warm" day to give it a good try...I built it as a 3 channel. Most of what I have seen on the Cub has been positive. Have no experience with the Fogey and I have heard some mixed reviews on it. There is someone over at rcgroups who built a larger Fogey and it flies super slow. Tiny Trainer is another one that's gotten a good review and you've already seen responses for it too.
 

jross

Well-known member
#20
The Tiny Trainer has been good to me and many others. It’s easy to repair, store, transport and mod.
Second that recommendation. My first plane. A treat to fly. I still take it to the field whenever I fly and use it to warm up. Three and four channel both work fine but I only flew the 3 channel wing once although it flew beautifully and flies almost the same as the 3 channel. If you want something a bit bigger to learn on, you can't go wrong with the Explorer which also has 3 or 4 channel wings.

I bought an A, C and F power pack to start. Used the A in the Tiny Trainer, the C in an Explorer and just now building faster small planes for the F pack. Figure after 5 weeks of flying and crashing, I'm ready for a faster plane and start crashing all over again. I love the power packs. For a greenhorn like me, soldering is another task on the steep learning curve I have zero experience with. I've soldered copper pipes but that's completely different. I want to start building custom looms for my planes and will eventually have to learn to solder but for now, I'm flying and that's pretty sweet. A lot to be said for plug and play. If you already know how to solder, that opens more doors but you still can't go wrong with the power packs.

Only other advice I have is purchase extra props. I went through 7 on my Tiny Trainer before I stopped breaking props every time I flew. Glad I bought 20 to start. Forgetting to chop the throttle before impact was my nemesis.
 
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