• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

Tips for a newbie (experience talking)

mayan

Well-known member
#1
Yesterday I have ended a journey, the journey I embarked upon when I came across FT and this wonderful hobby. You can read the 46 page of my journey here. That thread is long but shows every step of the way I went to get to where I am today in this hobby, and it might save you some bumps on your learning curve.

When I was writing my final post on that thread yesterday, I reread the entire 45 page that it was and decided I'd bring up a list of some tips that might help you. I posted it on that thread but was recommended to open up a new thread just for these tips so here it is again (moderate please excuse me for re-posting :)).
# On any build you do I recommend that you reinforce the holes where the BBQ skewers go through using an old credit card, gift cards, plywood, or poster board; reinforcing these holes will make things last longer. I personally use post board as it’s cheap and easy to find.

# Have spares! Spare power pods with firewalls and with or without a motor and ESC connected to them, servo arms, wing sets, basically anything that you can break and can easily be replaced at the field. Ain’t nothing more annoying than having charged batteries and nothing to fly while at the field.

# CRAP check before every single flight and after every single crash. If you don’t there will be consequences, you have been warned.

# Embrace your crashes. Understand that a crash is not a failure but a lesson to be learned and a way to improve and get better.

# Build, Fly, Crash, (Repair), Repeat! The more you do this the better you will get at everything; building, flying and not crashing :).

# ASK! Use the forum to ask questions, if something doesn’t work or you need advice post it on the forum. Everyone here will be happy to help with knowledge or even just motivation.

# A plane doesn’t have to look good to fly good, it hurts less when an ugly looking plane crashes.

# Share! We all love to see what you are up too and love giving a good word and advice too, so don’t be shy :)! Plus it helps with one’s moral.

# Read the forum, you’ll always find something interesting to read and something new that you can learn.

# Experiment! Try things on your own the more you try the more you’ll learn, lessons learned alone are lessons learned for life.

# Have fun! After all that’s what it’s all about! If you are not having fun anymore something is wrong; stop think and rethink how to bring back the fun, come back when you’ve found it.

# Explore! Understand that every model you’ll fly will have a different flying experience, will handle different, and react different. After all the more models that you’ll fly the more experience you will get and understand what models you like more and which less.

# Learn to fly straight while staying leveled making shallow left and right turns , it seems easy but it’s not! Try it and you’ll find out.

# Learn to fly inverted if you’ve mastered this with a model you are in control of the model feel free to move on.

# When crashing take notice of a couple of fixed scenery in the field it will help you find your plane and / or use a lost plane buzzer.

# Don’t drain your battery voltage too low so you won’t ruin them. Draining a battery to low will make it not charge any more.

# Learn to fly in wind, you can’t keep waiting for the perfect sunny windless day, you might be waiting forever :).

Here are a few more that one of the my many dear friends on the forum also suggested and I totally agree with him.
# If possible share a video of your efforts at flying because then you can examine the flight to see what the plane was doing and how it was responding OR NOT as the case may be.

# Use the forum mentors as a sounding board to assist you in analyzing flight problems and possibly even setup or piloting errors. Trying to fault find on your own with limited knowledge can result in much frustration AND WRONG diagnoses.

# If you do not understand the advice given ask for an explanation. Often the original advice given was correct but ignored because it was not fully understood until much later when the learning caught up with the explanation!

# Use a good and modern radio system. A good radio can make a poor pilot look good and a bad radio system can make an expert look like a very poor pilot! There are plenty of good radios available and some are quite inexpensive! Also learn how to setup your radio properly.
This is very important changing my radio system soon.

# Follow recommended settings for the FT planes you build. More control deflection does not improve performance!

# Be patient and if possible start at the beginning! Trying to learn on a warbird or similar performance model can add time to your learning to fly and lots of frustrating repairs and rebuilds.

# There is NO post of SHAME on the forum! We have all crashed models and most if not all of us still do, even the so called experts! Remember the forum is here to help you get in the air and stay there hopefully at the lowest possible cost!

Hope this helps. If anyone has more tips to add please do. @Arcfyre, @PsyBorg, @FDS, @CarolineTyler, @buzzbomb, @kilroy07, @Kendalf, @Jimun, @d8veh, @Hai-Lee, @FastCrash45, @daxian, @rockyboy, @Grifflyer any the manys others whom I might have forgotten to tag I know you all have a lot of knowledge and experience to share too, so don't be shy.
 

FastCrash45

Well-known member
#5
Yesterday I have ended a journey, the journey I embarked upon when I came across FT and this wonderful hobby. You can read the 46 page of my journey here. That thread is long but shows every step of the way I went to get to where I am today in this hobby, and it might save you some bumps on your learning curve.

When I was writing my final post on that thread yesterday, I reread the entire 45 page that it was and decided I'd bring up a list of some tips that might help you. I posted it on that thread but was recommended to open up a new thread just for these tips so here it is again (moderate please excuse me for re-posting :)).
# On any build you do I recommend that you reinforce the holes where the BBQ skewers go through using an old credit card, gift cards, plywood, or poster board; reinforcing these holes will make things last longer. I personally use post board as it’s cheap and easy to find.

# Have spares! Spare power pods with firewalls and with or without a motor and ESC connected to them, servo arms, wing sets, basically anything that you can break and can easily be replaced at the field. Ain’t nothing more annoying than having charged batteries and nothing to fly while at the field.

# CRAP check before every single flight and after every single crash. If you don’t there will be consequences, you have been warned.

# Embrace your crashes. Understand that a crash is not a failure but a lesson to be learned and a way to improve and get better.

# Build, Fly, Crash, (Repair), Repeat! The more you do this the better you will get at everything; building, flying and not crashing :).

# ASK! Use the forum to ask questions, if something doesn’t work or you need advice post it on the forum. Everyone here will be happy to help with knowledge or even just motivation.

# A plane doesn’t have to look good to fly good, it hurts less when an ugly looking plane crashes.

# Share! We all love to see what you are up too and love giving a good word and advice too, so don’t be shy :)! Plus it helps with one’s moral.

# Read the forum, you’ll always find something interesting to read and something new that you can learn.

# Experiment! Try things on your own the more you try the more you’ll learn, lessons learned alone are lessons learned for life.

# Have fun! After all that’s what it’s all about! If you are not having fun anymore something is wrong; stop think and rethink how to bring back the fun, come back when you’ve found it.

# Explore! Understand that every model you’ll fly will have a different flying experience, will handle different, and react different. After all the more models that you’ll fly the more experience you will get and understand what models you like more and which less.

# Learn to fly straight while staying leveled making shallow left and right turns , it seems easy but it’s not! Try it and you’ll find out.

# Learn to fly inverted if you’ve mastered this with a model you are in control of the model feel free to move on.

# When crashing take notice of a couple of fixed scenery in the field it will help you find your plane and / or use a lost plane buzzer.

# Don’t drain your battery voltage too low so you won’t ruin them. Draining a battery to low will make it not charge any more.

# Learn to fly in wind, you can’t keep waiting for the perfect sunny windless day, you might be waiting forever :).

Here are a few more that one of the my many dear friends on the forum also suggested and I totally agree with him.
# If possible share a video of your efforts at flying because then you can examine the flight to see what the plane was doing and how it was responding OR NOT as the case may be.

# Use the forum mentors as a sounding board to assist you in analyzing flight problems and possibly even setup or piloting errors. Trying to fault find on your own with limited knowledge can result in much frustration AND WRONG diagnoses.

# If you do not understand the advice given ask for an explanation. Often the original advice given was correct but ignored because it was not fully understood until much later when the learning caught up with the explanation!

# Use a good and modern radio system. A good radio can make a poor pilot look good and a bad radio system can make an expert look like a very poor pilot! There are plenty of good radios available and some are quite inexpensive! Also learn how to setup your radio properly.
This is very important changing my radio system soon.

# Follow recommended settings for the FT planes you build. More control deflection does not improve performance!

# Be patient and if possible start at the beginning! Trying to learn on a warbird or similar performance model can add time to your learning to fly and lots of frustrating repairs and rebuilds.

# There is NO post of SHAME on the forum! We have all crashed models and most if not all of us still do, even the so called experts! Remember the forum is here to help you get in the air and stay there hopefully at the lowest possible cost!

Hope this helps. If anyone has more tips to add please do. @Arcfyre, @PsyBorg, @FDS, @CarolineTyler, @buzzbomb, @kilroy07, @Kendalf, @Jimun, @d8veh, @Hai-Lee, @FastCrash45, @daxian, @rockyboy, @Grifflyer any the manys others whom I might have forgotten to tag I know you all have a lot of knowledge and experience to share too, so don't be shy.
Excellent post my friend.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#7
Before you Fly
  • Before flying a new model, check and DOUBLE CHECK the controls move in the RIGHT DIRECTION, sometimes you need to reverse the servos. Elevator should go down (viewed from the back) when you push the stick forward, up when you pull back, rudder turns to the left (viewed from the back) when you turn the rudder stick left and right when you go right. Ailerons are tricky, when you turn right the RIGHT one comes up and the LEFT goes DOWN, then the opposite for turning left. Your radio should have the option to reverse any servos that are ‘wrong.’
  • Set up the CG on the bench, mark where the end of the battery goes to get a little nose down on the balance, so when you get to fly it’s easy to line it up, then DOUBLE CHECK the balance on your finger tips and that all the controls work.
  • You should set up ALL the rates and expo BEFORE you fly. On the TT I would set everything on the low deflection (use the supplied gauge) rates then put 40% expo on the AILERONS and 30% on the rest. I then lowered my aileron RATE a bit more, I took 20% off its travel. If you are flying on the 3 channel wing for the first flight, then set low rates up and 30% expo as per video.
  • Set your failsafe and an arming switch, see Hai Lee’s post below. If using OpenTX set the TX failsafe to “no pulses.”
  • Make a couple of spare power pods and bring them with you, plus at least two spare props.
  • On the high rates set using the high part of the gauge and 30% expo. Put them on a 3 position switch, with the switch down for low rates, middle for high rates and up on position 3 is 100% movement no exp.
 
Last edited:

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
#8
Help me fill it up with some more wonderful tips like you’ve already started doing and it will be even better.
Learn about what "Failsafe" is and how to set it up on your transmitter! (It will stop your model from flying great distances away from you and where you are flying).
Set up a throttle kill switch and learn to use it properly. (It will save your fingers and model damage).
Learn about Expo and how to set it on your transmitter!

Have fun!
 

FDS

Well-known member
#9
Your First Trip to the Field
  • Pick a sensible place to fly. At least two soccer pitches wide and long, ideally with a softer surface (not a parking lot!) and preferably free of trees and pylons. DO NOT FLY ANYWHERE NEAR electric lines or infrastructure. Likewise avoid telegraph wires and poles.
  • Never make flights when time pressures mean you will rush, mistakes will be made, crashes will happen.
  • Check the field for people, pets, animals and other non fixed hazards (other users.) If at a club they will sort out rules etc, so this guide is for lone pilots.
  • Observe the SUN ANGLE and POSITION. You do not want to take off INTO the sun (even aviator shades won’t help) or fly ACROSS the sun. Try to fly with the sun on your back, then you can always see. In the UK this is rarely a problem!
  • OBSERVE THE WIND DIRECTION and SPEED. If it’s over about 10mph and you are new to flying, DON’T fly. Wait for better conditions, wind drops at dawn and dusk, an hour either side (the golden hour) which can mean better flying even on days when it was a bit gusty.
  • Try to get a feel for wind direction. I launch with the wind blowing on my face. Toss some light twigs/leaves/grass in the air to check the wind direction. A bit of ribbon or a strip of garbage sack tied to a garden cane or old fishing pole can help you see the direction when you fly. Put the end in the ground or bungee cord it to a fence post/sign etc.
  • Now look at the area UPWIND of where you want to launch. Don’t take off with trees, people, family members INFRONT of you cos that’s where the plane will go if anything bad happens. If you think “hey I can dodge that tree at my 1 o’clock, surely my skills are good enough” then that tree is where your plane will go.
  • Think about where you launch vs the edge of the sensible flying area. For example I have a solar farm on two sides of my nearest field, so when the farm boundary is UPWIND of my “runway” then I walk as far DOWNWIND as I can to give room for accidents AWAY from the field boundary.
  • Then when you have a good “runway” planned, facing into the wind, with room UPWIND for “manoeuvres” look over your shoulder and DOWNWIND to do the same check. Planes travel much faster over the ground downwind and when you are new, fast moving stuff leaves no time to correct. Plan to have space behind you in case you get out of shape and fly over your head (bad, but it happens.) You will fly downwind, so watch that boundary too.
  • Field recon BEFORE flying will save you from crashes and losing planes.

First Flight Tips
  • Never plug a battery in until you are just about to launch and ALWAYS unplug it the minute you land, put the TX on the ground beside you whilst handling the plane. I set an arming switch for my planes, just like a quad, that turns the throttle to zero so I can’t catch the stick on my clothes and set off the motor.
  • Hand launches are useful on the first flight, use them. Throw with the throttle hand if possible, so you can move the elevator and aileron/rudder stick if the plane nose dives or goes sideways because your trim is off. Set throttle with some other part of your body. There’s videos on hand launching. You can use a catapult like Hai Lee does too, they work and you then have both hands on the TX. Just don’t try taking off on the undercarriage for your first flight.
  • When the plane leaves your hand, it will move, the nose may rise, don’t go above about 40 degrees climb as you can stall, make VERY SMALL elevator corrections.
  • Try to climb to at least 60ft or close to three stories above the ground before turning at all. That way if you turn too much then there is room to correct.
  • If your trim is messed up, correct with the sticks and get STRAIGHT, then climb a bit, then try turning and getting straight again BEFORE trying to trim. I usually make a short circuit then trim on an upwind pass.
  • Make the first turn gentle and be aware the nose will dip as you turn, so apply a little elevator.
  • Trim order (thanks Josh & Josh) is E.A.R. Elevator, Aileron, Rudder. That way you should be able to stay up even if you fly in circles.
  • If things go wrong THROTTLE BACK. Less speed means more time to react and less damage if you hit the ground.
 

mayan

Well-known member
#10
@FDS and @Hai-Lee thanks for the wonderful tips. Keep them coming you all.

@FDS some of the tips on your second post made me giggle, others made me think what I want to do with my new more configurable Tx.
 
#13
I suppose I'll write down a couple tips here:
  • Reinforce the edges of the paper with CA so it doesn't peel (really only applies to control surfaces)
  • make sure to check your skewers to make sure any rubber bands will not fly off mid-air, the worst thing that could happen is to lose your wing completely.
  • ALWAYS check your CG. never use a different battery type without doing a glide test as well.
  • don't go full throttle all the time, you really don't have to on most trainers. once you feel you are skilled enough, feel free to pin the throttle if nobody's around.
  • don't be lazy with your linkages. I know it seems tempting to trim the ailerons out so that they are just slightly up on both sides, but that will create some major instability and you will end up having to bend a new linkage anyways.
  • Flying patterns helps a lot. if you know the four main sides of your plane well enough, it makes all the other angles way easier to learn.
 

CarolineTyler

Well-known member
#14
* Check your transmitter battery before going flying - its so easy to forget this and had fully charged flight batteries and no way to use all that juicy power.
* Check your transmitter output power - you may have turned it low for indoors checking and forgot to bump it back up (did this on Saturday....how I managed not to totally crash that plane I don't know. transmitter was on 3mw rather than it's 150mw flying power :eek: )
* Keep an eye on foamboard and other 'living hinges' for planes - they can easily crack or delaminate.
* Join a local club if you can - so much sage-ful advise is available
* Don't push yourself to fly more - I still end up so nervous on maiden flights that my fingers start to shake. Land and relax
* Keep landing approaches long and steady, use a lower power and fly the plane to the landing, cutting power at the last moment. It's far easier to 'go around' if your plane isn't on the verge of a stall when still 10 metres in the air
* Learn to solder! Especially if quadcopters are your thing.
 
#17
Enjoy the flight! I've completely ruined several flying experiences because I wouldn't calm down and simply enjoy what I was doing. Usually this is because I've got more money or time into a plane than I should have. That being said, and if you can afford it. Find yourself a good "beater" plane. Not only will it lessen the stress knowing you've got a total of $5 and a few hours invested, but it makes a great "finisher" plane. If I crash or just can't seem to get my landing right on "plane A" I always finish up the evening with my beater. So I guess that makes 3 tips
1. Smile when you fly (should be involuntary if you're having fun).
2. Get a beater plane.
3. Try to end the day with a good landing.

Best of luck, and remember crashes suck but they're also tremendously cool to watch!
 

mayan

Well-known member
#19
Thanks @CarolineTyler adding a bit to what you said.

Check your transmitter battery before going flying - its so easy to forget this and had fully charged flight batteries and no way to use all that juicy power.
I recommend taking spares to the field.

* Keep landing approaches long and steady, use a lower power and fly the plane to the landing, cutting power at the last moment. It's far easier to 'go around' if your plane isn't on the verge of a stall when still 10 metres in the air
Adding to this if you are completely new turn off the motor high and glide it down if you are short throttle up just a bit to give yourself some extra power.

* Learn to solder! Especially if quadcopters are your thing.
A must!
 

mayan

Well-known member
#20
Enjoy the flight! I've completely ruined several flying experiences because I wouldn't calm down and simply enjoy what I was doing. Usually this is because I've got more money or time into a plane than I should have. That being said, and if you can afford it. Find yourself a good "beater" plane. Not only will it lessen the stress knowing you've got a total of $5 and a few hours invested, but it makes a great "finisher" plane. If I crash or just can't seem to get my landing right on "plane A" I always finish up the evening with my beater. So I guess that makes 3 tips
1. Smile when you fly (should be involuntary if you're having fun).
2. Get a beater plane.
3. Try to end the day with a good landing.

Best of luck, and remember crashes suck but they're also tremendously cool to watch!
That’s the FT spirt. Build, Fly, Crash, Repeat!