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Looking for first plane

#1
I've always been a big fan of aviation and recently I decided I want to get into rc. Eventually I'd love to do some crazy fpv but I know I gotta start small. I don't really know to much about the market of rc planes and the only sites I'm familiar with are horizon hobby and hobby king. I've been looking around trying to figure which plane I should get. However I should say that with winter coming I'm probably going to hold off flying or buying for a while, but I am very excited about this so I might not be able to contain myself :p

I definitely want something easy to start out with. I'm not new to flight and the concepts, but I've never flown an RC before. I'm also not sure how small I want to start out with, because I do want something that won't get tossed around in light wind. I've looked around but haven't found anything that screams "this is the one". Right now I'm considering the Apprentice S 15e, Champ, Super Cub, and Duet. I think the Apprentice would be my best bet with the SAFE modes which could help me fly as a noob and I could start turning off the instructor as I get better, and it comes with what I assume is the best radio out of the bunch, but it is $300 which is pretty steep for me. But with that being said I think I'd get the most life out of it. The Super Cub is $200 which isn't as bad but still not awesome, and I think it might be short lived due to it being 3-channel as I'd want to have full aileron control. The Duet and Champ are much cheaper so I'm not as concerned about them being short lived, but I am concerned that they will get tossed around too much. I'm also not a fan of the Duet not having rudder or ailerons, but it is only $60.

If anyone has any info on any of those models that could help sway me towards one, or suggest something better I'd gladly listen. Also I know most people on here suggest noobies try simulators, but I'm reluctant to spend $100 of dollars on it. So if you could recommend a cheap/free sim and a cheap radio to use with it so I could practice over winter that'd be great too. Thanks in advance!
 

rcspaceflight

creator of virtual planes
#2
www.rcdeskpilot.com is a free sim. It's for Windows only. I use it and it's okay. I have yet to try it with the wind on, but sims are for two things: 1) so you know which stick does what. You can grow muscle memory with the Tx. 2) so you don't turn the wrong way. So when the plane is coming towards you, you don't turn right when you meant to turn left. Really any sim will help you with this and the quality doesn't really matter. No sim can replace real world experience, it's just a tool to make it an easier transition and to learn a few things.

I know Hobby King sells a crappy cheap Sim package that is a USB game controller that could never be used as an actual Tx, which almost makes it a waste of money. A better way to go, if you're going to scratch build, is to buy the Tx you want, and if that Tx can't be hooked up to a computer, then get this: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=43335 Most Txs CAN be hooked up to a computer without that, but the $30 Hobby King Tx can't.

I think with scratch building you're going to end up spending about $150 for everything. And that's buying the cheapest Tx they make. Scratch building has its problems, mainly that you're not going to build your first plane that well and you can never fly a crappy plane well. Plus you can't fly well when you first start, so it can be a disaster. But it's cheap. You can build whatever you want and it's cheap.

Before I get into too much more, where do you live? I want to know if I can/should recommend things that are only available in the USA.
 
#3
Yet another vote for the sim, even if it is only one of the free ones with one of the options rcspaceflight mentions. Personally, I think there is a lot to be said for the $14 controller dedicated to simulation use. I am using a dx5e + one of the dongles, but if I had it to do again, I'd probably go the dedicated simulator route. Not least of which because you can lend it out to friends who want to learn.

FWIW, even though I have sim option, I am seriously considering the purchase of RealFlight 7.
 

eagle4

New member
#4
Hey Tommy, welcome to the forum, and welcome to the hobby :)

I agree with whats been said, the simulator is definately something to look into.

If you're wanting a cheap plane, have you looked at the bixler? its just over $100 for the whole thing. battery, transmitter, plane. everything. The transmitter isnt super good quality, but it'll work great for a beginner.
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/...o_1400mm_rtf_mode_2_throttle_left_radio_.html
 
#6
I had a bixler-like plane, which was the Dynam Hawk Sky.

This type of plane is really good for a beginner, because it's fairly durable and easy to fix.
Mine took a nose-first dirt nap at WOT (wide-open throttle, a.k.a., pedal to the metal), and just experienced a crack in the side of the canopy and a bent nose. Some boiling water (expands the air bubbles and makes the foam ductile, basically resetting the foam to the original shape -- can only be done a couple times though) and hot glue later (along with reconnecting some wires inside) and it was back up in the air!

My only caution on this size of plane is that they need a fairly large and open space to fly in, unlike a lot of the scratch-built foamies that FliteTest designs, which are (can be) much slower planes and can be flown in tighter spaces.

That's my two cents, and I'm pretty much a newbie myself. I am going to build a swappable FT flyer and Nutball, and probably work my way up to something more Bixler-esque (the FT Simple soarer, with motor).

The great thing about the Bixler is that the price cannot be beat. I spent a lot more money on parts for my first scratch build (eagerly awaiting several boxes from UPS! :) ), BUT, I used higher quality components than what comes with the Bixler (especially the transmitter, I splurged a bit on that).

SO… I would highly recommend a Bixler, OR one of the beginner FT scratch builds (or kits), if you're feeling adventurous to build your own (and the beginner series are drop-dead easy to build, compared to some of the more complicated planes).

Have fun!!!
 
#7
Before I get into too much more, where do you live? I want to know if I can/should recommend things that are only available in the USA.
I'm currently in up state NY. Binghamton University student living off-campus. From what I see in Google maps I don't have many options but my campus has some large areas, about 5 soccer fields in size, so very large assuming none of the fields are taken. There's also a football field/track that's not used that often.

Also in response to the earlier part of your post, I'm trying to avoid buying anything other than RTF so if I have to buy a separate radio for a sim I'd rather buy the cheapest one (as long as it works)
 
#8
In response to the last 3 posts about Bixler: I've found some negative posts about the Bixler shipping. Something to do with China and LiPOs which is causing people to not get their planes. In the comments on hobby king there was a post that said someone ordered it Oct 10 (or sometime in Oct, I don't remember the exact date) and the plane never shipped. He contacted the company and all they said is they would contact him once it ships. So I'm sure the plane is awesome as I've seen fantastic reviews about it, but idk if I'll ever get it lol.

Has anyone else heard of this problem?
 
#9
In response to the last 3 posts about Bixler: I've found some negative posts about the Bixler shipping. Something to do with China and LiPOs which is causing people to not get their planes. In the comments on hobby king there was a post that said someone ordered it Oct 10 (or sometime in Oct, I don't remember the exact date) and the plane never shipped. He contacted the company and all they said is they would contact him once it ships. So I'm sure the plane is awesome as I've seen fantastic reviews about it, but idk if I'll ever get it lol.

Has anyone else heard of this problem?
This bixler ships from the USA: http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor...ode_2_Throttle_Left_Radio_USA_warehouse_.html

The only gotcha that I know of with the Bixler is that it doesn't come with an AC adaptor with the battery charger. You need to scrounge for one with the appropriate voltage and amp rating, or order one from HK or ebay.
 

RoyBro

Senior Member
Mentor
#10
I am not a fan of the radio that comes with the Bixler RTF. It is only 4 channels, which you will outgrow fairly quickly. I know you said you didn't want to buy anything not RTF, but it also sounds like cost is a concern. Your first radio should have at least 6 channels and have a couple of built-in mixes. I would recommend the Bixler in ARF form and spend a little bit extra on a radio that will grow with you. The Turnigy 9x is a little over $60 and is fully programmable. Yes, you have to buy your lipo, charger, and power supply separately, but that just gives you the opportunity to choose items you won't outgrow in short order.
Buy everything you can from the hobbyking US warehouse or another US store.

If you need help with choices, just ask.
 

rcspaceflight

creator of virtual planes
#11
Basically, it's a horrible idea to ever order from Hobby King's international warehouse. You avoid most, if not all, of Hobby King's issues when you order from the USA warehouse. From the USA warehouse, shipping is reasonably priced and usually arrives a few days after they actually ship it. (It usually takes 2 full days before then send it out, but even that isn't bad.)

I think your best bet might be to order the RTF Bixler from the USA warehouse and order the device I linked earlier so the Tx that comes with the Bixler is guaranteed to work with a sim. (I actually linked the one in the USA warehouse.) Then when you get everything, at least fly the rcdeskpilot.com sim for a few minutes before you ever take the Bixler out. You'll quickly realize just how bad your first flight would have been and you'll probably end up flying the sim for a few hours before you ever attempt to fly an actual plane.
 
#12
I third or fourth the "Bix" as a good option for first plane. It should be noted though there are a great many Sky Surfer clones floating around out there to chose from. BananaHobby has the original Sky Surfer version 5, Nitroplanes has the Wing Surfer and ValueHobby has a slightly smaller craft called the Easy Trainer. Absolutely nothing wrong with the Bixler from HK, just giving you point of purchase options. As a side note, I sorta surprised no one has mention the AXN Floater Jet as a good alternative. I agree the radio supplied with RTF bixler lacks in many ways, better to buy your own TX system like the 9x or 9xr. I also will advocate the purchase of a kit rather than an RTF. These kits are super simple to assemble plus there is a great deal more knowledge to be garnered from picking and choosing all the components required. There is a ton of online step by steps for building these craft and motor/prop ESC suggestions.
 

RoyBro

Senior Member
Mentor
#13
Plane Packages Pros and Cons

Before we confuse the snot out of you, I thought I'd throw together a quick table describing what each is along with the pros and cons. I need to mention that depending on your source, these terms may mean something complete different. So I will be defer to the way that Hobby King uses these terms with their Bixler and Bixler 2 airplanes.

Package

Description

Pros

Cons

RTF

Ready To Fly - Contains everything you need to get you in the air

Everything is included and everything works together.

Cheap radio and LiPo charger included to keep cost down

BNF

Bind 'n' Fly - Contains everything you need except the transmitter

Very convenient IF you have the right kind of radio

Requires a matching Transmitter to be able to bind. Usually a Tactic brand radio.

ARF

Almost Ready To Fly - Includes plane, servos, motor, everything but your RX/TX, Battery & Charger

You are not paying for cheap components that you will abandon sooner than later

You have to have your own Transmitter and Receiver, Battery Pack and Charger. Maybe that's not such a Con afterall

Kit

Just the plane. No electronics, motor, TX/RX, etc.

Lets you customize the plane with your own choice of electronics, more powerful or better quality motor, etc.

May be more expensive once you've purchased the required parts.



you may also see designations such as PNP (Plug 'n' Play) or PNF (Plug 'n' Fly) which is very similar to the way Hobby King uses "ARF".

I hope this helps.
 
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RoyBro

Senior Member
Mentor
#14
Lonewolf is absolutely right. The Bixler belongs to a class of plane that is part glider, part trainer. The Sky Surfer, AXN, and others belong to this class and you may be able to find one of these costing less than the Bixler. We just tend to be favor the name sake of our beloved Josh Bixler of Flite Test. Not that he gets any royalties for Bixler sales (an oversight on the part of Hobby King if you as me). But you may opt for a smaller version of this type of plane. The AXN is quite popular with those who follow Xjet (Bruce Simpson) of RC Hobby Reviews YouTube fame.
 
#15
Before we confuse the snot out of you, I thought I'd throw together a quick table describing what each is along with the pros and cons. I need to mention that depending on your source, these terms may mean something complete different. So I will be defer to the way that Hobby King uses these terms with their Bixler and Bixler 2 airplanes.

Package

Description

Pros

Cons

RTF

Ready To Fly - Contains everything you need to get you in the air

Everything is included and everything works together.

Cheap radio and LiPo charger included to keep cost down

BNF

Bind 'n' Fly - Contains everything you need except the transmitter

Very convenient IF you have the right kind of radio

Requires a matching Transmitter to be able to bind. Usually a Tactic brand radio.

ARF

Almost Ready To Fly - Includes plane, servos, motor, everything but your RX/TX, Battery & Charger

You are not paying for cheap components that you will abandon sooner than later

You have to have your own Transmitter and Receiver, Battery Pack and Charger. Maybe that's not such a Con afterall

Kit

Just the plane. No electronics, motor, TX/RX, etc.

Lets you customize the plane with your own choice of electronics, more powerful or better quality motor, etc.

May be more expensive once you've purchased the required parts.



you may also see designations such as PNP (Plug 'n' Play) or PNF (Plug 'n' Fly) which is very similar to the way Hobby King uses "ARF".

I hope this helps.
Thanks Roy! I was thinking that table would be helpful but since I typically drive with my knees while typing out forum posts I opted to let someone address the finer details
 

RoyBro

Senior Member
Mentor
#16
Thanks Roy! I was thinking that table would be helpful but since I typically drive with my knees while typing out forum posts I opted to let someone address the finer details
I usually reply to posts from my Galaxy tablet, which explains why some of my responses lack detail. But when I'm sitting at a computer I tend to get a bit on the verbose side. As for the Table, I've never done one on this forum and wanted to see what it was like. I had to dredge my manual HTML skills to get it formatted correctly.
 
#17
I ran across this thread because I am looking to purchase a bixler. I have been building multirotors recently and very new to the sport. I have really begun to enjoy flying my 550 quad with Crius board. I have gotten into the mission planning and all of the pains that come with it. I would really like to do a pretty decent distance flight with a bixler. So, I have a couple of questions, not to hijack the thread but to help this guy out.

If I am looking at it right the ARF kit will require an ESC and receiver set. I have 4 spare 20a escs from my first quad build. I also have a 9x with FR sky module so I will need another 9x receiver - a wopping $10. If I am looking at this right this will be all that is needed (maybe batteries) to get flying and be cheaper and better than the RTF kit?

How hard is it to put togehter?

Is it easy to take down for travel?

Has anyone slapped an APM in one of these? It should just be a think of putting it between the receiver and all of the controlls right? The RTH feature will be nice for a beginer.

What batteries do you all recommend and how much flight time will they get?


As for hobbyking, I have had zero problems with their international wearhouse. I had a small complaint once that the order I placed didnt ship soon enough after purchase which was only a problem because I was going to be out of the country in the revised window I thought it would show up in. They apologized and explained that it was a holiday in china that weekend. Completely understandable. Anyway, it came from the singapor wearhouse and made it in time before I left. I dont care for the additional wait from international but it can be understood. To put things in prospective on some other US based companies, I ordered a slide for my M&P pistol the first week in September 2013. I was told they had 25 in stock and it would ship in two weeks. I called three weeks later and was told two more weeks. As of today this slide has never been delivered or to my knowledge shipped. So, waiting two weeks for something in the mail from china is not a big deal to me.
 

RoyBro

Senior Member
Mentor
#18
I put together the Kit version of the Bixler 2. The motor I had intended to use wasn't going to work so I had to buy a different motor to fit the included motor mount. Also my servo leads weren't nearly long enough. I opted to solder longer leads rather than using extensions because I didn't want to have a server plug come loose in the wing after it was glued down.

Other than that, it was pretty easy to put together. Are you looking at the Bixler 1.1 (1400mm) or 2 (1500mm w/ flaps)? I opted to add servos for the flaps and use a channel reverser with a Y cable for the flaps rather than use two channels for flaps. I might want to use them for something else.

I'm sure your 20A ESC would be adequate. It wasn't flashed with SimonK for your Quad, was it?

Which FrSky receiver are you buying for $10 and where? I'm always in the market for cheap receivers.
 
#19
Last one I got was off of ebay and it was very cheap. I will look again and provide a link.

I think the 2 is what I want to get but I dont know about doing the flaps right now. It is an option to keep the things without servos to start right?

As for the ESCs, I never flashed them. When I purchased my 30 amp ones I got them from EBay already flashed. I dont mind flashing stuff but from what I can tell most of the connectors are different and the one for the chip I had was like $25. Just asumed get it already done. I dont really see much difference in the performance between the two flashed and non. Might have to do with that I still dont have the tuning where I want it on the quad.
 

RoyBro

Senior Member
Mentor
#20
I think the 2 is what I want to get but I dont know about doing the flaps right now. It is an option to keep the things without servos to start right?

As for the ESCs, I never flashed them. When I purchased my 30 amp ones I got them from EBay already flashed. I dont mind flashing stuff but from what I can tell most of the connectors are different and the one for the chip I had was like $25. Just asumed get it already done. I dont really see much difference in the performance between the two flashed and non. Might have to do with that I still dont have the tuning where I want it on the quad.
Flaps on the Bixler 2: You don't have to set up the flaps. Unfortunately, if you choose not to install servos for the flaps, you would have to cut into your wing to add them later on. The foam strip that covers the servos for the flaps and ailerons is part of the structure of the wing and has to be solidly glued down. It is not intended to be removable at all. So I think it would be better to set up the flaps and not use them, then have to compromise the integrity of the wing to add them later.

Flashed Servo: The reason I ask, is that I believe that part of the difference between ESCs for planes and multi-rotors is the voltage cut-off. When the voltage gets down to a certain point, it cuts out to save the battery. This feature is turned off for multi-rotors because they don't glide. This is how I understand it, but if I'm off base, please someone correct me.
 
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