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New to the hobby- somewhat overwhelmed

#1
Hey guys! I’m brand new to this and I’m excited to get started. I used to fly those cheap air hogs planes from the toy store when I was younger and recently have found my passion for flying again. I’ve never flown a “real” rc plane before so I’m not really sure where to start. Building my own or getting a cheap trainer to learn on? And reading about all the different electronics and transmitters and batteries and so on is a lot to take in! Any advice or guidance would be much appreciated
 

FDS

Well-known member
#2
Don’t panic! You can build an FT plane without any radio gear. The Tiny Trainer can be made as a chuck glider, 2ch glider, 3ch trainer and 4ch trainer. You can use a $6 servo tool to centre any servos enclosed in the fuselage.
If you are starting out then the power pack and speedbuild kit is a good way to get everything you need apart from a transmitter. Read the transmitter thread here first before rushing and getting an expensive TX or one that won’t be easy to learn with.
Looking for your local RC flying club is a good idea too, they will usually have Trainer planes and instructors to help you get airborne even if you don’t have a plane and are great sources of second hand gear.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#3
Hey guys! I’m brand new to this and I’m excited to get started. I used to fly those cheap air hogs planes from the toy store when I was younger and recently have found my passion for flying again. I’ve never flown a “real” rc plane before so I’m not really sure where to start. Building my own or getting a cheap trainer to learn on? And reading about all the different electronics and transmitters and batteries and so on is a lot to take in! Any advice or guidance would be much appreciated
Boy oh boy, those questions are some seriously loaded questions, and I'm going to apologize for the forthcoming novel.

Let's start with planes. There are a TON of different planes to learn to fly with. A lot of people here will recommend a Tiny Trainer, which will allow you to learn to build a plane. And that is a GREAT suggestion. Me personally, I would suggest the Simple Cub, only because it's a bigger plane. Bigger planes tend to do a little better in wind, and when you get them 50-100 feet up in the air, the bigger size makes it easier to see. That said, they ARE bigger and harder to fit into a car, and require more area to fly so you don't hit things like trees, cars, and humans. I would say it kind of depends on what areas you have to fly in (and fly in LEGALLY; some parks have signs posted that it's illegal to fly there as a violation of city ordinances/laws), and size your plane accordingly - if you can fly a Simple Cub sized plane, do it. :)

With this also comes down to build vs. ready to fly.

Building allows you to learn how to put a plane together, which means that if something breaks, you have an idea of how to put it together if things go awry and you have a crash or break something. A ready to fly aircraft, on the other hand, is ready to go, straight out of the box, much like your Air Hogs planes that you used to fly. But, if you break something there, you will have to buy parts or worse, buy a new plane if you crash. In addition to building your own planes, you can pick what motor you want to go with, which ESC, connector styles for batteries, receivers, etc. With that, though, it can be somewhat confusing too, because if you get too big of a motor for a particular plane, it may fly out of control, or might be too heavy; it might also pull too much power

However, a ready to fly plane will steer you into certain territory on other equipment. Many "Ready To Fly" (or RTF) planes come with transmitters, receivers, electronics, etc., all in the box, ready for you to pull out, charge the battery, and throw it in the air almost immediately. Some of those planes have a transmitter that can ONLY be used with that plane, so you are stuck with using that transmitter versus having one transmitter that can be used for multiple planes.

Now, transmitters can be a very ugly topic. This is a lot like comparing numerous products - Android vs. Apple, Ford vs. Chevy, BMW vs Mercedes, etc. Each brand has its own "flavor", if you will, and may or may not be compatible with another. For example, Spektrum radios are not compatible with FrSky radios, but FrSky radios MIGHT be compatible with Spektrum - if you can find a module that's compatible to attach to the radio (and depending on the radio, it might require some electronics "surgery"). In addition, look at what features are available with the different radios, even within that compatibility. I use Spektrum as an example on this because they've got several different bells and whistles depending on the model, and the model numbering is pretty easy to figure out. In the Spektrums, you have things like the Dx8, the Dx6, the ix12, the Dx6e, etc. Spektrum kept it simple enough to determine how many channels each radio supports with those numbers; DX6 supports 6 channels, 8 supports 8, etc. But, with the differences between the Dx8 and the Dx8e is features. The "e" is more of a simplified version, leaving out certain features like voice announcements for timers, and diversity antennas, which offer better, more reliable signal. More features means more expense; it's up to you to decide if they're worth it. In this respect, you get what you pay for; my best suggestion before you buy it is to do some research and ask questions, because there's a lot of consideration in buying your transmitter that will shape what you can and can't fly.

Hopefully this info
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
#4
My advice is more of a caution than an instruction.

Do your research and whilst advice will be offered, some advice will be wrong for your situation or path to learning to fly properly. You will learn more from what others did wrong than their claims of definitive knowledge.

Ask questions and keep asking questions until you have the knowledge you require. Plug into a local club if you can! Club members can provide real assistance and sometimes even a few used gifts to help you on your way!

Take it slow if you want to keep the costs down. A rush to get a keep airborne can be very expensive and can cause you to lose heart and quit without much progress. For some people if can come quickly and others will find it to be a real battle, so do not be discouraged if it takes you longer than some or even most.

Building your own can be cheaper but a longer or steeper learning curve. If you have not built before I would recommend a simple build first like the Mini Scout as it flies quite well, (even though it is quite small), and the folds etc are less than most models. In addition the battery is small and the other parts used are quite inexpensive. The Tiny Trainer is a component plane so that parts you damage can be removed and replaced without a full rebuild. The Simple cub is OK but for a beginner it can be a daunting build with much that can go wrong!

Finally if you can afford a flight sim then it could pay for itself many times over in repairs that you do not have to perform!

Have fun!
 

Merv

Well-known member
#5
The best thing you can do is join the local rc club. The forums are great but there is just no substitute for in person contact. An experienced pilot will be able to correct things far more effectively than the forums can.
 

Jaxx

Posted a thousand or more times
#6
Hey guys! I’m brand new to this and I’m excited to get started. I used to fly those cheap air hogs planes from the toy store when I was younger and recently have found my passion for flying again. I’ve never flown a “real” rc plane before so I’m not really sure where to start. Building my own or getting a cheap trainer to learn on? And reading about all the different electronics and transmitters and batteries and so on is a lot to take in! Any advice or guidance would be much appreciated
We have all been there, and know the feeling. The following link will take you to a series of videos that Flite Test put together for this very reason. I believe it's a great place to get started. Additionally, you could not have joined a better community to help you along the way. Don't hesitate to ask questions about things you don't understand. We are all eager to assist, and by the way, welcome to the forum!

https://www.flitetest.com/articles#/textSearch=Series: beginner series

Edit: Another great video from Flite Test
 
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The Hangar

Well-known member
#7
Welcome to this awesome hobby! I tried to learn on the simple cub with limited success. I really learned how to fly when one of my friends “buddy boxed” (two transmitters connected to the plane so experienced pilot has full control unless he flips a switch, and then the learner has control) with me, saving me from many crashes. Personally, I would recommend the FT old speedster over the cub since it is super easy to build and fly! If you go with a flitetest model, the old speedster is 100% the way to go, IMO. I fly the FT cub, and it’s a super plane, but the old speedster is the first plane I was actually able to fly by myself. I have trained friends who have never flown before (just a few minutes on a simulator) on the old speedster, and they have had great success in their very first flight. I recently purchased a Hobbyzone champ for flying in small spaces, and I am really impressed. If you are looking into buying a rtr plane, look no further that the champ. I like it because it is super easy to fly, and if you do crash, it is super light so it doesn’t break easily, and the propeller doesn’t break hardly ever, if ever (I have hit a tree straight in the trunk with literally no visible damage). The propellers do add up when you are learning to fly, so if you do get a plane like the FT cub, stock up on cheap props because you won’t be able to tell a performance difference until you are much more experienced. That being said, I might go for the sport cub s because it has the panic recovery mode, and it is pretty similar to the champ. Another + is that the champ comes in at under $100 completely ready to fly! That way when you have mastered flying it, you will easily be able to upgrade to the FT cub or FT scout. Please let me know what you end up getting! Good luck - I’m sure you will get the hang of it soon!
 

basslord1124

Well-known member
#8
I'm on the same page (sort of) as @FDS and @The Hangar .

From a more ready to fly (RTF) approach I second the yellow 3 channel Champ (first plane that gave me success in flying) or the WLToys F949 3 channel. Both are small planes that can take a lot of abuse. Champ is around $100 and the WLToys runs about $50. You will actually get longer flight time on the WLToys too. Both come with basically everything you need to get flying.

From a FT perspective, I second the Tiny Trainer. Pick up a speed build kit of it, follow the build video, and put it together. It can grow from being a chuck glider to a full 4 channel RC plane. This will help teach you the build techniques PLUS teach you how to repair your plane and you can make extra pieces in case you crash.

I think the FT approach though will teach you more. Especially since you will manually be picking everything. Plane, motor/speed controller (although Flitetest has a good system of "power packs" to help you there), radio, building, etc. This is kinda how it used to be anyways...pick up a plane kit, put it together/build, check everything, then go fly. :)

Hope this helps, if you have any major questions, feel free to ask.
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#10
Welcome to the hobby and the forums @Colemanw ! :D

There is a whole lot of stuff to learn in this hobby which is both an amazing opportunity and a challenge to get started. Lots of good advice coming at you in the responses here so far. I figured sharing my story of learning to fly RC just 4 or 5 short years ago might help you decide which way to proceed.

When I was reintroduced to the RC hobby, FliteTest was going strong, and all of the equipment available then is still available now, and still relevant to a beginner. I started by printing out Tiny Trainer plans, and bought a FlySky i6 radio, and other cheap components from Hobby King. I first made the Tiny Trainer Chuck Glider and had fun tossing that around the park with my daughter, and then put on the motor and had a hard time finding a place I could legally fly at. And when I did find that first place to go fly, I crashed, and crashed, and crashed again - sometimes even staying airborne for 30 seconds! I was hooked! :love: And my power pod and nose were smashed up really good and needed to be replaced, which I did using templates I made from the printed plans.

At this time I started to wonder if the reason I kept crashing so much was from not building the plane well. So I bought the HobbyZone Duet as a "ready to fly" plane and found out that I could crash it quite nicely too! :ROFLMAO: So the problem wasn't how I built the plane, but just needing more experience.

So I download a free simulator software and crashed in the simulator a whole lot. Started to wonder if the free simulator was junk, so I bought the Phoenix simulator - and crashed just as much in that one too! :ROFLMAO:

Starting to see a pattern? I finally did! :LOL: I kept at trying all three, and in about a month I could fly until my battery was empty about half of the time - the other half I crashed early! But I learned to put reinforcement on the inside of the Tiny Trainer fuselage so when I crashed it was usually just the power pod that took the damage. So I'd bring two or three with me when I went flying.

Then I finally got up the nerve to go visit my local RC flying club. And the very first visit, a club member talked to me about the plane, and how I was flying, and taught me a whole bunch (including adjusting the throws on the plane) and by the end of the day I was flying way better!

So the key things I recognize looking over my story:

1) Building or buying didn't really change the learning curve for me - the challenge was more about learning the controls and less about the plane (this only applies if all the planes are "trainer" type planes - don't expect the same results if you buy a jet first!).

2) Simulators can help, but not for all people - for me I just get annoyed at them. For some people, they spend 20 hours on a simulator and then have a perfect first flight in the real world and are ready for acrobatics right away. I am very jealous of those people. :p

3) Finding people who can help you is a huge boost to learning - not the only way, but the easiest way.
 
#11
There is a lot of good caution and advice here already. I flew a few things poorly but had my first real success with the Tiny Trainer. I built from the free plans and covered the foamboard with a very light packing tape (much like the method used in Experimental Airlines videos). The tape not only adds some decoration and a hint of water resistance -- dew-covered grass or misty conditions -- but it also makes the plane much stronger. Even the very light stuff will add some weight, but I've found it to be worthwhile when I nosedive into the ground...hard.

Another suggestion that hasn't been made yet is a pusher like the FT Explorer or a Bixler or Bixler-style plane. The FT Explorer is actually really versatile, much like the Tiny Trainer, and even potentially more so if you're creative. The biggest advantage, though, is the dramatic drop in repair costs (time and money). You're keeping the motor, prop, and power pod away from the nose, which is the most prone to meeting the ground -- intentionally or otherwise. On my tractor style planes, I haven't damaged a motor yet but I have gone through piles of props and built many power pods. In my experience, it gets tedious to replace firewalls in particular. I only just got an Explorer kit at Flite Fest so I can't attest to the ease of build or how well it flies from experience, but there are many people who have been quite successful with them.

The big thing others have stated and I will reiterate is the advantage of having a more experienced pilot around. They can help check your controls, advise you on any problems you encounter, and even take the maiden flight for you. It's very useful to have experienced hands on the controls to trim it out and catch and correct any problems before they become catastrophic.