Products - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
I really like your kit, but I'd like to (insert change here). Can you help me modify your model to (insert changes here), such as installing a larger engine?
We cannot recommend exceeding our engine recommendations or making other modifications to our models. Power recommendations are made based upon a variety of factors, including size, weight, fit, thrust, torque, and stress testing of the model. Even if a larger engine may fit on the airframe, that does not mean it is a good choice for the aircraft. Exceeding our engine recommendations voids your warranty and exposes you and those around you to additional risks. Likewise, chosing to use an engine smaller than our recommended engine range may provide the aircraft too little airspeed to fly safely and again voids your warranty and creates unnecessary risk.
When will you come out with a (insert model type here)?
Unfortunately, we are not able to provide any information on future releases or planned future kits. However, please use our Product Suggestion Form, which will be forwarded directly to the appropriate product managers for future consideration. Thank you for your time and interest! We take your suggestions seriously, and use consumer's suggestions in our considerations for future products. Please note that our design cycle is long and planned well in advance, and that a model needs to have good popular appeal for us to seriously consider it.
I heard about a new product which is not yet listed on your web site. How can I get more information?
If a product is not yet listed on our web site, chances are good that we do not yet have information on that newly released product. Please visit your favorite hobby shop and our web site regularly for new technical information as it becomes available.
Can you tell me more about NiMH batteries and proper charging?
NiMH batteries are a viable new option for R/C power which provide much longer run time than similar capacity NiCD batteries. The only real concern is proper charging. NiMH, if it is to be fast charged, MUST be fast charged on a specialized charger called a delta peak. The normal peak process of a NiCD charger will overheat your NiMH batteries and dramatically shorten their life span before it ever recognizes the cells are properly charged. NiMH will slow charge just like NiCD cells.
Can you tell me how fast this model goes?
Unfortunately, we cannot estimate speed of our models. Speed is dependent on a large variety of factors, with the key one being engine and prop selection, but also including engine break-in, altitude, humidity, temperature, fuel and plug, assembly accuracy and, of course, pilot skill. Please remember that if your model does not fly as quickly as you had anticipated that prop selection can make a huge difference. High diameter low pitch props are like low gear in your car - providing you lots of pulling power off the line (great vertical) but very little forward speed. Low diameter high pitch props are like high gear in a car - lots of top end speed, but poor acceleration off the flight line and poor vertical climb.
The manual for my model tells me to balance the plane laterally by picking it up by spinner and fin and seeing if it drops a wing tip, then add weight to the light tip to balance. Why do we do this?
Many things can cause an airplane to be out of balance laterally (from left to right), but usually the reason is very simple - an engine does not weigh the same from left to right of the aircraft because of mufflers, etc, and therefore the other side needs to be weighted appropriately to balance the plane this way. Balancing laterally is very important because an airplane that is balanced laterally will usually stall straight ahead and be very predictable and easy to handle at landing speeds. An airplane that is heavy on one side will drop that wing when it gets too slow to fly, increasing a possibility of a crash.
The model I am building says to place the spinner nut X distance from the firewall. I am using an engine with a small, light case which is not long enough and I can only get Y distance from the firewall. What do I do?
Most manufacturers try to provide a universal engine mount which will fit all engines in the size range at the time of the production of the model; however, in our quest for lightness, many manufacturers are now managing to produce ever smaller, lighter engines. Simply place shims between your firewall and motor mount to properly position your engine as instructed.
I am looking to get into flying remote control airplanes. How do I get started?
WELCOME TO THIS GREAT HOBBY!!
The first step is to locate a hobby shop in your area (use the dealer locator and enter your U.S. zip code), and to ask the local shop to refer you to a club in your area as well. In major metropolitan areas there are usually several, so you often have several places and groups of people to choose from. These 2 contacts will be invaluable to you in gaining first hand knowledge and support.
The next step is to visit the local field and watch people fly. Some clubs have a club trainer plane so you can gain a few flights before expending any money to find just how much fun this hobby is.
At this point it is time to join the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics, www.modelaircraft.org), which provides you insurance in case of accident or property damage with your model as well as an excellent monthly magazine. The cost is small and the protection is very important. Don't miss this vital step.
We STRONGLY recommend a simulator to help you learn to fly. Great Planes RealFlight R/C Simulator (www.realflight.com) is the best simulator and if you use it as a real training tool can save you a lot of time, money and frustration in learning to fly.
Once you're ready to 'take the plunge', we recommend you select an aircraft, radio and engine that best equates what your selected instructor uses. This will make it easier for him/her to assist you along the way. In particular, be sure to select your radio so that it is compatible with your instructor's radio so that you can use a trainer cord to help you learn to fly and help protect your investment. There are many directions to go in selecting a plane – for some modelers building is the most exciting part, and they select aircraft such as the Great Planes PT40 Mk II model kit to assemble. For others, they want to get in the air fairly quickly but are on a budget. In those cases, a plane like the Hobbico Superstar ARF makes a great choice. Others are short on time and want to be flying as quickly as possible, so they select an aircraft such as the Hobbico NexSTAR, which is almost entirely preassembled, with engine and radio already installed!
Please recognize that leaning to fly a model aircraft is a very challenging skill. Just as it would not be a good idea to try to teach yourself to drive an automobile alone in city traffic, it is an equally poor idea to attempt to teach yourself to fly. Model aircraft are amazingly responsive, and it is easy to get disoriented and lose control of your aircraft. For your safety and enjoyment, and for the safety of those around you, we strongly recommend you join the AMA, find a local club, and work with an instructor you trust. Similarly, it is always best to begin your instruction on an easy to fly trainer type model, and not attempt to fly more complex models until you've mastered the basics.
Good luck and again, welcome to our great hobby!
I used to own product X. I can't find it on your web site now. Do you still make it? If not, will you produce it again?
If the product you are seeking is anything other than an accessory or repair parts for another item, then unless a product is brand new, if it is not listed on our web site then the product is no longer produced. Unfortunately, we cannot answer whether or not a product will be reproduced in the future.
I just installed a Hobbico Power Panel. The jack for the starter says, "start/external charger." Can I charge the battery in the flight box through these jacks? It sure would be nice not to have to remove the battery when I need a charger.
Absolutely! The starter jacks are directly wired to your 12v battery, so feel free to use your banana plug charger to charge your 12V battery directly through this connection.
I am replacing the motor mount, or making other repairs to the my built aircraft. How can I install new blind nuts since I can't get my hand to the back of the firewall?
This is a fairly common problem when installing a new engine, or completing repairs. To install new blind nuts, drill your new holes if needed. Slide a long pushrod which is the same thread as your engine mount bolts through the hole in your firewall far enough so you can access the end of the pushrod easily from your wing saddle. Screw the blind nut onto the pushrod (now in your open radio gear area), and pull the blind nut into position in the firewall. Use your engine mount bolts to pull the blind nut securely into position.
The kit I am building calls for metal pushrods from the rudder and elevator to the servos. Am I going to have problems with the antenna running through the tail of my fuselage with these metal pushrods?
You've asked an excellent question! Metal pushrods are a standard of this industry and are not a problem whatsoever, SO LONG AS you do not get your antenna intertwined with the metal pushrods or with servo leads. If you cannot run your antenna on the outside of your aircraft, run your antenna through a plastic pushrod outer or paper tube to keep it away from the metal pushrods and any servo leads you may have extending through your aircraft.
My expensive, ball bearing servos 'buzz', 'humm' or 'chatter', especially when I first turn on the receiver. My standard servos never did this. What's wrong? What do I need to do?
We often receive calls from customers who will mention that they notice "servo chatter" in their ball bearinged servos.
Always check your linkages and set ups for binding, servos fighting each other on the same working surface, and bad extensions to be sure that there's no problems in your physical system.
Assuming there is no binding or other issues, buzzing is a common and harmless occurrence, and indicates that your servo is "checking" itself for true center. There will many times be an audible "buzz" from their servos, even when there is no noticeable movement. And this is also harmless, as when the plane is airborne, the wind over the control surfaces, and thus load on the servo itself, will correct this small amount of vibration and noise.
Many times if a modeler is using a 6 Volt receiver battery, or a completely fully charged battery, they will notice buzzing, but, when the voltage drops slightly with some amount of load, the movement and noise subside. This is commonly known as 'a hot charge' and again is perfectly normal and will subside under loads and particularly in flight.
I am interested in a motor which rotates the opposite of a standard motor. Can I just reverse the polarity to reverse the motor's direction?
Because of the timing of the magnetic field with respect to the brush orientation it is not recommended to just reverse the polarity of the motor to run it backwards. This will cause the motor to run hotter than normal, it will be less efficient and its life will be shortened. To safely run the motor in reverse you would have to adjust its timing, which is only possible on certain motors. If the motor you have does not provide instruction to do so, then do not attempt to reverse the direction of the motor. Purchase a reverse direction motor for your installation instead, or consider a different gearing combination to provide you the right end result.
I love my Action Series airplane! But I've used it so much I need to replace the fuselage. How can I do that?
Please visit our tech notes page for detailed instructions.
I am thinking of installing an engine inverted. What do I need to know?
There are a few things to know about the nature of setting up and running any engine inverted. RC engines are small, lightweight and fairly simplistic engines. They do not have all the complex equipment available to competition aerobatic full size aircraft engines or similar machines; therefore, when asked to run in inverted mounting, sometimes they can be a bit more challenging to set up than an upright installation.
First, realize that your engine may be full of fuel PRIOR to starting, risking hydrolock which can do severe damage to your engine, especially if the aircraft has been stood on its nose or even just nose low during transportation. Always flip the prop over to check the compression prior to using a starter. If it seems harder than normal, remove the glowplug and flip through several times or spin the engine with an electric starter to clear it and avoid the possibility of hydrolock.
Next, ALWAYS follow your manufacturer's instructions on engine break-in. In almost every case, the engine should be broken in on a test stand where it can be properly watched, cared for, fueled, drained, and adjusted easily and safely. If your manufacturer recommends in flight break-in, just be aware that it will be soft on power until the break-in period is completed and always be prepared for a dead stick landing during those break-in flights.
Then, once it is broken in, it can be installed. In some cases tuning in the inverted installation is a little more challenging due to the tank/carb relationship combined with the inverted mounting. If this is the case, tuning with the aircraft inverted/engine upright will help get the engine running flawlessly, then it can be run inverted.
Finally, some engines, especially inexpensive bushinged budget engines, will not like to start in an inverted position, again due to carb/tank positioning and fuel flow. In those case, you may need to start the aircraft inverted and turn upright to fly when running.
I am building my aircraft, and can't seem to find the hinges. Were they missed in my kit?
It's possible your hinge material may not have been packed, but many people just don't recognize the hinge material. CA hinges come in a 3" x 9" strip in your kit and must be cut to size for use on your model. You may confuse this for fiberglass reinforcement tape, as it is fairly thin and somewhat flexible. CA hinges are an exceptional hinging material which fits in a thin slot, bonds very well to balsa with CA, and remains flexible and operational for a very long time if properly installed and cared for.
How do I use CA hinges? Is there anything I need to know to use them properly?
The CA hinges work wonderfully – if used properly, they have minimal gap, require little effort in installation, and are super strong and durable.
Things to remember:
- Never just slop a hobby knife in to make a slot. Always clean out the leftover wood to get a good socket. Don't over-enlarge the hole or the hinge will not fit snuggly and get a good gluing surface. The Slot Machine will cut perfect slots for you every time.
- If you are not using the Slot Machine, drill a 3/32" hole 1/2" deep into the socket prior to installing the hinge. This will allow the CA to travel the length of the hinge.
- Never install with medium or thick CA, or epoxy. Always use thin CA.
- Never apply 10-15 drops on the center. Always apply only the amount called for in your specific installation (this will vary by hinge size, but is usually 6.)
- Never try to install and glue one side at a time. The CA will wick and stiffen the rest of the hinge, which will not mount properly later.
- ALWAYS flex the surface as the CA is drying to keep the hinge from stiffening.
- NEVER use kerosene based or similarly corrosive products on or around your CA hinges.
I don't understand how the airflow inside a cowl works, how an engine is cooled, or what baffling does.
This can be confusing. It can really seem backward, as air opening is one place where in some cases less is better. Regarding cooling inside a cowl, you must force air over the engine, otherwise it will escape around the engine (taking the path of least resistance), creating a stale pocket of air over the engine which never gets cool air and so the engine overheats. A properly shaped cowl or a baffle forces the air over the engine area, not giving it an easy escape route otherwise.
If you have an overheating problem, consider creating a baffle so that only 1/4" all the way around your engine is open to allow fresh air in, to properly force cooling to the engine.
Another good rule of thumb is to have at least three times the exit area as the inlet area, again to help encourage air into the cowl to flow over the engine.
The air is forced through it....kind of like a velocity stack, which because its so narrow at the bottom it increases the air pressure coming through. This does the same thing. All that air hits the baffle and MUST go somewhere....so it goes through the much smaller volume opening with much more pressure.
How do I solder heavy gauge wire?
Soldering heavy gauge wire is one of those things that is an acquired skill. Like many things, once you learn it, it becomes relatively easy.
Silver solder will produce a MUCH stronger joint. It comes with a liquid flux. It is more sensitive to the correct temperature and it is also more expensive.
Start by making sure the wires are very clean. We recommend sanding them where they are to be soldered with 150 grit sandpaper. Then clean them with alcohol (isopropyl, rubbing alcohol). After they dry, tack glue the wires together, using as little CA as possible.
Next, coat the wires with a paste type of flux in the areas to be soldered and then wrap them with the wrapping wire. Coat this assembly with some more paste flux.
A 100 watt soldering iron will not get the assembly hot enough. A small propane torch will work well. If you have a larger household type of torch, don't turn it on full force. A flame about one inch long should work well. Heat the joint with the inner blue cone of the flame. The flux will bubble and start to burn off. When you think the joint is hot enough, remove the flame and apply the solder. Most types of solder will work. We usually use rosin core as that is what we usually have out.
If the joint is hot enough the solder will flow into the joint. If it doesn't flow, the joint is not hot enough. If the joint gets too hot, the flux will completely burn off and you will have to start all over again. If you do not remove the flame the solder will melt before it touches the wire, making it very difficult to get it to flow into the joint.
Done correctly, the joint will cool slightly as the solder flows in. When this happens the solder will stop flowing. Remove the solder and reheat the joint a little. Remove the heat and flow some more solder in. You might need to do this two or three times.
When you have enough solder in the joint, lightly wipe it with a wet rag to remove any excess solder.
I am interested in using a 3-or 4-bladed prop for a more scale appearance. How do I decide what size prop to purchase?
Please be aware that 3-bladed props are less efficient than a 2-bladed prop, so you are going to lose some performance. Additionally, 4-bladed are less efficient than 3. If your model is already marginal on power on a 2-blade, we strongly recommend against a 3-blade prop.
If, however, you have plenty of power and are willing to give up some performance for scale look and sound, then a 3-bladed prop is for you. You will want to start with a prop with either 1" less diameter or 1" less pitch than your 2-blade prop as a rule of thumb. For example, if your engine happily turns a 13x6, try a 12x6 or 13x5 to start with. Then adjust from there as needed.
To go to a 4-bladed prop, decrease an additional inch in either dimension. If your normal prop choice is, for example, a 11x6, you would begin with a 10x5 and work from there to find a 4-bladed prop that best fits your circumstances.
When should I use a 2-stroke engine vs a 4-stroke?
A 4-stroke gives you more torque, more power off the line, better vertical performance, and slower more scale flight speed because it turns larger diameter, lower pitch props. A 2-stroke is generally lighter and more powerful for the same displacement (not always) and goes faster, turning higher pitch lower diameter props.
My servos work backwards on my new model. What's wrong?
There are two possible answers to this question:
1. Moving control A activates the wrong servo. In this case, please unplug all servos from your receiver, check your model's and radio's instructions, and reinstall. Note that some manufacturers use different designations for which slot controls which channel so when in doubt follow your radio's manual.
2. When you move control A the servo goes the wrong direction. For example, moving your rudder stick right causes the rudder to move left. This is an installation or set up problem with your model. If your radio has servo reversing switches or computer radio programming, reverse the direction of that servo. If it does not, you will need to purchase a reversed servo, a servo reversing lead, or change your linkage so the pushrod works from the opposite side of the arm so that the linkage operates properly.
This aircraft has dihedral or polyhedral in the wing. I want the model to be aerobatic. Can I remove this?
We strongly recommend against modifying the designs. Each aircraft is tested extensively and set up based upon a specific design parameter. For example, removing dihedral in the GP CAP 232 will result in the model having a noticable roll reaction when rudder is applied.
My model's engine is not placed dead center on the firewall. Why?
Most aircraft benefit from having right thrust or down thrust built into them. (Note that some models because of their wing configuration require upthrust.) The model's engine is pointed right and or down slightly (a few degrees) to counteract certain aerodynamic forces which occur from the force of the engine and propeller. The engine's position on the firewall is usually shifted just enough so that the spinner backplate will still be centered on the aircraft.
We strongly recommend not changing or removing the thrust angles built into your model, as they are extensively tested and were specifically selected to provide specific flight behavior. For example, removing the up thrust in a GP CAP 232 will result in the model having to carry positive elevator for full throttle flight and the pitch trim setting for full throttle will result in a balloon at other throttle settings.
No matter what throttle setting I have, my tach always reads approximately 3600 RPM. What am I doing wrong?
Your tachometer is very likely reading flourescent lighting. Please note that your tach cannot operate properly in flourescent lighting. Please try using it in natural light.
My new NiMH batteries don't seem to be charging to their full capacity. What's wrong?
When charging NiMH battery packs, assuming you are using a proper charger it can take several charge and discharge cycles before the battery packs will hold their full rated charge. You should find that the capacity of the NiMH battery packs will increase their capacity as they are run through several cycles.
If, after several charge/discharge cycles, the packs still don't form up and hold their full capacity, you may have bad packs, and they should be sent to us for checkout/replacement.
I cannot get my engine far enough forward on the mount to reach the measurement called for in my plan's instructions. (For example, 5-3/4" from the firewall to the back of the spinner.) What can I do?
Some engines have very short case lengths and so cannot meet the measurements given. Simply use washers or plywood spacers to shim the motor mount away from the firewall until you can mount the engine properly to the mount and match the desired measurement.
How should I fuelproof my firewall or fuel tank area?
There are a variety of ways to do this. One way is to fuelproof it with iron-on covering such as Top Flite MonoKote. That is to say, cover the entire firewall (but not the engine compartment) or interior of the tank area, then just use small amounts of thin CA or thinned epoxy to fill in around any openings.
Another way to do so is to paint with fuelproof paint or with thinned epoxy.
I am having difficulty painting on my fiberglass parts. What am I doing wrong? Is there anything special I need to know?
All fiberglass parts are made in a mold which was coated with some kind of mold release, some of which would undoubtedly still be on the surface. This must be fully removed or paint will not stick or will react because of residual mold release. Before painting, one should first clean the surface thoroughly, possibly using a solvent, such as mineral spirits or naptha (lighter fluid). Depending on the type of glass and release agent, the solvent could attack the surface, so a test should first be done in an inconspicuous area. If that doesn't work, then perhaps a light sanding of the area to be painted, followed by a thorough cleaning, may work. If the mold release (possibly silicone, to which nothing sticks) somehow was partially absorbed into the surface, it's going to be difficult to paint without first sanding off the outer layer.
What is a 'retract servo'? How is it different from a standard servo? Should I use it with mechanical or pneumatic retracts?
A retract servo is specifically used for mechanical retracts. It is a non-proportional servo which only moves 180 degrees. That is to say this servo is either "off" (gear up and fully locked) or "on" (gear down and fully locked). No ATV, EPA, or AST adjustments can be made on these servos because they are not proportional. The linkage must be set up properly to allow this servo to operate at its full range and do its job—securing your model's landing gear in a gear-up or gear-down position.
My new model calls for the servos to be mounted on the exterior of my aircraft (sticking out of the wing or tail.) Is this okay? Will the fuel and dirt damage my servos?
Most current-generation servos are sealed well enough, so that a small amount of dirt, fuel, and such are not a concern unless you have reason to anticipate dead stick gear up or similar landings, in which case you might damage your servos with ground contact. Otherwise, external exposed servos are very common and easy to service/inspect, and are quite common in today's larger ARFs. However, it is always a good practice to wipe your exposed servos down after each flying session to prevent degradation of the plastic or problems with the output shaft.
Are your batteries charged or discharged when new?
All rechargable batteries are shipped in a discharged state for safety. Please charge your batteries fully and properly per the instructions prior to attempting to operate your model.
How do I apply the decals included in my kit? Do I need to use water? Do I need to protect or seal the edges?
These are pre-adhesive decals. Simply trim around the decal shape with a hobby knife, lift carefully, (be sure not to stick it to your fingers!) and position the decal in the desired location. HINT: round edges rather than sharp points will minimize the chance of catching and peeling the decal back up.
To give your decals—and your covering and seams—the best possible protection you may want to consider covering the entire model in a thin layer of clear coat paint. Be sure to test the clear first to confirm it is compatible with your covering (for example, LustreKote and the paint on Coverite fabric are NOT compatible) and your decals.
I have higher torque servo(s) to put in my scale, aerobatic, or 60+ sized model. Where would you recommend I install it (them).
This will depend upon your specific aircraft, however, here are some general rules of thumb. In most applications where the model will be asked to perform any type of aerobatics, the most powerful servo(s) should be applied to rudder. For non-aerobatic applications, the most powerful, best centering, most reliable servo(s) should always be put on the elevator.
My manual says my model should have washout of x degrees. What is washout and how do I tell if my model has the proper amount?
For a definition of washout, please see our glossary.
You will want to utilize an incidence meter to determine the washout of the wing of your model. To do so, set the incidence meter on the root of the wing, and read the angle of attack of the root. Write this down. Now measure the angle at the tip of the wing and write this down. The washout in your wing is the difference between these two measurements (root - tip = washout).
Note that washout means the leading edge of the wing tip is lower than the leading edge of the wing root. If it is the opposite, the model has washin, which is desirable in certain types of aerobatic models for extreme performance, but not in most other models due to decreased stability.
I am building a small model. Should I leave the antenna hanging out the back of the plane or wrap/fold/cut it?
Never shorten your antenna by cutting down its physical length or by folding it back upon itself. Always allow the antenna to extend its full length, even if it means having a 'tail' hanging out the back of your model. You might also consider running it out the wingtip rather than down the fuselage.
My engine is overheating or running hotter than I would like. How can I get it better cooling?
Most people make the mistake of thinking more is better when it comes to the air INLET at the front of the cowl. This is a common error and while it seems logical the reverse is actually true.
To properly cool your engine you need more OUTLET not more inlet. You want at least 2:1, preferably 3:1 air out to air in otherwise it makes a 'dam' and the air can't come into the cowl because it has no where to go OUT of the cowl. If your engine is not cooling properly, try blocking off the other air inlet or opening the belly of the cowl further to better cool your engine. See the instruction manual for the Top Flite Corsair (pages 35, 40) for an example of making a baffle to properly cool your engine.
Can I use a gyro in an airplane? When is it a good idea?
Aircraft gyros are fairly new, and some people consider them a bad idea while other people consider gyros to be the perfect tool for just about everything. Let's take a look at some of the common uses along with the pluses and minuses associated.
Will they help me learn to torque roll?
The most common request is how to set up gyros for learning to torque roll. (Don't know what a torque roll is? Please consider purchasing GPMZ0220, A Look at Aerobatics.)
One modeler describes torque rolling as the equivalent of balancing two plates on top of broom sticks, with your eyes closed, while bouncing a top a large rubber ball. So, if it doesn't come quickly and easily, don't fret! It takes a lot of time and practice. And don't be upset if a gyro doesn't suddenly make your model torque roll alone—it won't. But it will help a little to a lot, if everything is set up properly.
Using gyros in an aircraft to aid in torque rolling has its advantages and its drawbacks. Gyros can assist a modeler in learning to torque roll because it will correct SOME to ALL (depending on the type, quality and settings of the gyro) of the yaw and pitch movements caused by the torque and instability of the aircraft in this precarious position; however, it will also be countering corrections made by the modeler so the modeler has to think and move even faster and give even more input to make corrections against the gyro and the aircraft.
Basically, a torque roll is an extremely unnatural action for an aircraft which requires incredible pilot skill to maintain and complete. The model is being suspended solely by the power of the engine/thrust from the prop, with just the right amount of throttle being given to keep the model from climbing or tail sliding. The torque of the engine will pull the model around to the left, with no amount of aileron input in the world being able to stop the rotation UNLESS the model has ailerons extending all the way in against the fuselage or has ailevators functioning as ailerons. This torque, and gravity, are also twisting the model on both the yaw and pitch axes, which requires extreme skill by the modeler to correct.
If you wish to use gyros to help ease the difficulty of this complex maneuver, you will want to install one gyro each for the elevator and rudder surfaces. Note that if your model uses twin elevator servos which are plugged into separate ports you will need a product like the Hobbico Aircraft Gyro (HCAM4010) or the Futaba GYA351 (FUTM0817) which supports 2-channel input and output for a single axis.
We used to recommend AGAINST heading hold gyro settings for torque rolling, as the gyros sometimes seemed to lag behind, and improperly correct as the model got farther and farther into the torque roll. However, the new Futaba GYA350 and 351 gyros have changed our minds! These specialty gyros specifically for aircraft use perform superbly in AVCS (heading hold) mode in torque rolls and similar circumstances. (Always remember to switch out of AVCS mode for 'normal' flying.)
It is important to remember that, while heading holds are the only gyros which will truly return the model to its initial orientation (other gyros just correct for movement, but not necessarily back to the starting point), there are MANY situations in which you and your model can be unintentionally in danger when the heading hold returns the model to a position you did not intend.
Please remember that normal gyros will not 'do it for you'. They are not a 'missile lock' or 'heading lock' and do not fixate on a position in the sky and maintain it. They simply dampen unwanted (and wanted!) motion, so they will not make torque rolling suddenly easy. But depending on your skill, your model, and your understanding of the dynamics, they can be a good training aid for torque rolling.
How about other maneuvers?
Gyros ARE a great aid in many other aerobatic maneuvers. They are amazingly beneficial, for example, when used during maneuvers such as snaps, tumbles, and stall turns. In some cases the heading hold or AVCS option will be beneficial, and in others not. Always remember....if you try to change your yaw line without moving the rudder servo and have a heading hold gyro on the rudder (for example, doing a banked turn with just aileron and elevator), the heading lock gyro will immediately return the model to the initial direction of travel! Therefore, it is best to leave the gyro in standard mode, not heading lock mode, except in specific circumstances where you want the 'dead on tracking' of heading lock mode.
- A gyro on the rudder will minimize the yawing caused by torque on a slow up line such as entry to a stall turn, and minimize the tail wag on the exit.
- A gyro on elevator and rudder will cause snaps, spins, rolls and tumbles to stop essentially instantaneously when a modeler releases the inputs with no over rotation.
- A gyro on elevator and rudder can dramatically decrease the pilot inputs required to slow roll, and other precision rolling maneuvers such as ratchet rolls, rolling circles, 4-point rolls, etc.
- Straight lines of all types—whether horizontal, vertical, or anything in between, can benefit from the aid of a gyro.
Lastly, gyros are extremely popular on the rudder of scale aircraft, especially complex nostalgic aircraft which are notorious for difficult ground handling. In this case many modelers DO use a heading lock gyro or AVCS (heading hold) mode in a switchable gyro, but then turn off the heading lock feature the moment the model breaks ground. This way the model will literally track perfectly straight with no rudder input from the pilot whatsoever.
What is battery cycling? How important is it? How often do I have to do it?
Battery cycling is the use of some type of loading device (ideally a calibrated charger with a discharge function) to drain the current from a battery pack until it approaches the lowest safe voltage for the pack, then recharging the pack back up to its peak capacity again. Often 3 complete cycles are done to help 'condition' a battery, ensure that it is capable of holding a complete charge, and to help maintain/increase the life and reliability of the battery pack. Cycling does not need to be done frequently.
What is the difference between a direct drive and gear drive electric motor?
Direct Drive- has less moving parts, less complication with meshing gears, less expensive.
Gear Drives- turn larger props and get more speed out of a motor if you gear it up. They usually draw less current then a direct drive system as well.
When my transmitter is off, my servos act crazy. What's wrong?
In AM and FM radio systems, if the receiver is not getting clean data from a transmitter then the servos will respond relatively randomly. Only a PCM system (or a system with a fail-safe unit installed) will hold the last known position.
For this reason, ALWAYS turn your transmitter on first, then receiver, And when turning off, always turn off receiver first then transmitter.
HOW TO MAKE "SOFT WEIGHTS"
Weights are needed for a variety of purposes during the model building process, especially when setting wing washout or if you need an extra pair of hands. We made some 2 and 3 pound "soft weights" for use in our shop as follows:
A. Obtain four smallish, but sturdy plastic bags (freezer bags work well), four old tube socks (preferably laundered), and 10 pounds of buckshot, available at sporting goods or gun stores. Sand can also be used, but the weights become pretty bulky.
B. Use a scale to measure out two 2Lb bags and two 3Lb bags of shot (or sand). Seal the bags with masking tape, without compressing the contents. Soft weights work best if they are floppy like bean-bags.
Keeping Wheels in Place on Axle and Model Tracking Straight
Install the wheels on the landing gear using two wheel collars per axle. Grind or file a flat spot at the point of setscrew contact for each of the outer collars. This provides a better area for the setscrew to bite and helps keep the wheels in place.
NOSE GEAR FLAT SPOT
- When everything is aligned and the model tracks in a straight line when rolled along the ground, tighten the screw on the steering arm tight enough to leave a mark on the nose gear wire. Remove the nose gear from the engine mount and remove the steering arm assembly.
- As mentioned, a flat spot is required on the nose gear wire. This flat allows the nose gear steering arm to be positively locked onto the nose gear wire providing a "no-slip" steering linkage.
- Remove the steering arm from the nose gear wire and locate the mark left by the screw. Now, with the mark facing up, clamp the nose gear in a vise and use the side of a flat file or a Dremel® Moto-Tool® with a narrow grinding wheel, to make a flat spot at the mark.
- Reassemble the nose gear and install it. Tighten the steering arm screw directly over the flat. Your nose gear steering will always remain positive, even on the roughest of surfaces.
Proper Servo Mounting:
The proper way to mount a servo is as follows:
- Insert a rubber grommet into each of the four servo holes.
- Insert a metal eyelet from the bottom side of the rubber grommet. This way the wide portion of the eyelet will be in contact with the servo tray when mounted.
- Test fit the servo in the tray, and enlarge the openings so the servo will not touch the tray. The rubber grommets will isolate the servo from the hard vibration of the airplane's structure.
- Position the servo, then mark the location of the mounting holes. Drill pilot holes with a 1/16" bit at each mark.
- Use the servo screws supplied with your radio to mount the servo(s) in the servo tray. Tighten the screws until they just touch the top of the metal eyelet.
Important things to check in Pre-Flight:
No list is all inclusive or fits all models, but here's a good starting point:
Charge the batteries- Follow the battery charging procedures in your radio instruction manual. You should always charge your transmitter and receiver batteries the night before you go flying, and at other times as recommended by the radio manufacturer.
Balance the propeller- Balance your propellers carefully before flying. An unbalanced prop is the single most significant cause of damaging vibration. Not only will engine mounting screws and bolts vibrate out, possibly with disastrous effect, but vibration will also damage your radio receiver and battery. Vibration will cause your fuel to foam, which will, in turn, cause your engine to run rough or quit.
Ground check the model- If you are not thoroughly familiar with the operation of R/C models, ask an experienced modeler to check to see that you have the radio installed correctly and that all the control surfaces do what they are supposed to. The engine operation also must be checked and the engine "broken-in" on the ground by running the engine for at least two tanks of fuel. Follow the engine manufacturer's recommendations for break-in. Check to make sure all screws remain tight, that the hinges are secure and that the prop is on tight.
Range check your radio- Wherever you do fly, you need to check the operation of the radio before every time you fly. First, make sure no one else is on you frequency (channel). With the transmitter antenna collapsed and the receiver and transmitter on, you should be able to walk the distance prescribed by your manufacturer and still have control. Have someone help you. Have them stand by your model and, while you work the controls, tell you what the various control surfaces are doing. Repeat this test with the engine running at various speeds with an assistant holding the model. If the control surfaces are not always acting correctly, do not fly! Find and correct the problem first.
Important Engine Safety Precautions
No list is all inclusive, but here are some basics to watch for:
NOTE: Failure to follow these safety precautions may result in severe injury to yourself and others.
- Keep all engine fuel in a safe place, away from high heat, sparks or flames, as fuel is very flammable. Do not smoke near the engine or fuel; and remember that the engine exhaust gives off a great deal of deadly carbon monoxide. Therefore do not run the engine in a closed room or garage.
- Get help from an experienced pilot when learning to operate engines.
- Use safety glasses when starting or running engines.
- Do not run the engine in an area of loose gravel or sand; as the propeller may throw such material in your face or eyes.
- Keep your face and body as well as all spectators away from the plane of rotation of the propeller as you start and run the engine.
- Keep items such as these away from the prop: loose clothing, shirt sleeves, ties, scarfs, long hair or loose objects (pencils, screw drivers) that may fall out of shirt or jacket pockets into the prop.
- Use a "chicken stick" device or electric starter; follow instructions supplied with the starter or stick. Make certain the glow plug clip or connector is secure so that it will not pop off or otherwise get into the running propeller.
- Make all engine adjustments from behind the rotating propeller.
- The engine gets hot! Do not touch it during or after operation. Make sure fuel lines are in good condition so fuel will not leak onto a hot engine causing a fire.
- To stop the engine, cut off the fuel supply by closing off the fuel line or follow the engine manufacturer's recommendations. Do not use hands, fingers or any body part to try to stop the engine. Do not throw anything into the prop of a running engine.
Quantity/position of rubber bands to secure my model's wing?
If you are using rubber bands to attach your wing, the rule of thumb is to use two #64 rubber bands per pound of model weight. If your model tipped the scales at 7 pounds, you need 14 rubber bands. It doesn't matter too much how many you run straight across the wing or how many are criss-crossed, so long as the last two are criss-crossed. This trick stops the other bands from popping off. Do not use oily rubber bands for more than a few flying sessions. Check each rubber band before using it, watch out for cracks. Rubber bands can be conditioned by storing the oily ones in a zip-top storage bag partially filled with talcum powder or corn starch. Both products will absorb the oil.
Basics of Flying – IncludingTaxi/Take-Off/Landing
Of course, no brief written guide can replace an instructor in safely teaching you to fly. This guideline is intended only to help you understand the steps to come and practice in simulation when your instructor is not available.
Start the engine and set the throttle trim for a slow, steady idle. Have your instructor or a helper hold the plane while you work the controls. Upon release advance the throttle slightly to start rolling, then back-off the power to prevent going too fast and possibly taking off. Stand behind the plane as it taxies away from you and note the direction it turns as you move the rudder control. One thing to keep in mind with R/C models (whether it be cars, boats, or planes) is that the steering controls may seem to "reverse" when the model is moving toward you. For example, if you are flying toward yourself, and you give a right control input (ailerons or rudder), the model will move off to your left. The fact of the matter is of course, that the controls are not reversed and the aircraft did actually enter a right turn. The plane does move off to your left from your vantage point, but if you imagined yourself in the cockpit you would realize the plane turned to the right as commanded. All it takes is a little practice to maintain proper orientation of your aircraft ( it sometimes helps to face the direction of movement and look over your shoulder), but that's why we recommend finding an instructor. When you feel comfortable, advance the throttle a little while standing behind the plane to get the feel of a takeoff roll, but pull back on the power before the model lifts off. Try this several times, adding a little more power each time. If the plane starts to veer off, immediately cut the power to prevent a mishap. Although many R/C pilots have taught themselves to fly, we strongly recommend that you find an instructor to help get you started. Although trainers offer the greatest opportunity of success for the self-taught, there is a high probability that you will crash your airplane on the first flight. Protect your investment of time and money—obtain the assistance of an experienced R/C pilot.
Your first flights should be made in little or no wind. If you have dual rates on your transmitter, set the switches to "low rate" for takeoff. Taxi into position, pointing directly into the wind. Although trainer models have good low speed characteristics, you should always build up as much speed as your runway will permit before lifting off, as this will give you a safety margin in case of a "flame-out." Advance the throttle smoothly to the wide open setting. When the plane has sufficient flying speed (you won't know until you try), lift off by smoothly applying a little up elevator (don't "jerk" it off to a steep climb!), and climb out gradually, trying to keep it straight and the wings level. The model should climb at a 20 or 30 degree angle under full throttle. Climb to about 100 feet before starting a VERY gentle turn by moving the aileron stick. Apply a little more back pressure on the elevator stick as the plane turns. Stop the turn by moving the aileron stick in the opposite direction until the wings are level then return the stick to the neutral position. Pull the power back to 1/3 throttle.
We recommend that you take it easy with your trainer for the first several flights and gradually "get acquainted" with the plane as your engine becomes fully broken-in. Most trainers are designed to fly level with neutral elevator trim at approximately 1/4 to 1/3 throttle—this is the best speed for learning to fly. On later flights, if you want the model to maintain level flight at full throttle, you will need to give it a little down trim.
Your first flights should consist of mostly straight and level flight with gentle turns to keep the model over the field. These flights will give you practice at coordinating your control inputs and maintaining the proper orientation of the airplane. As mentioned earlier, turns are accomplished by banking the aircraft with the ailerons (rudder will accomplish this on a 3-channel airplane) then gently adding some back stick (up elevator). Enough back stick should be held in to keep the aircraft at a constant altitude. To stop turning, apply opposite aileron (or rudder) to level the wings, then release the sticks. There is a memory aid that may help keep you out of trouble when the plane is flying toward you—"put the stick under the low wing." In other words, move the stick in the direction of the low wing to raise that wing. When you are comfortable flying the aircraft, you can practice using the rudder along with the ailerons to 'coordinate' the turns—usually, a small amount of rudder applied in the direction of the turn will keep the tail following the same track as the nose.
The most common mistake when learning to fly is "over control." Think of pressure instead of large movements of the control sticks. Remember nearly all trainers will recover from almost any over control situation within 50 - 100 feet if you simply let go of the sticks.
Add and practice one maneuver at a time, learning how your plane behaves in each one. For ultra-smooth flying and normal maneuvers, we recommend using the "low rate" settings as listed in your manual. High rate control throws will give your model enough control for loops, barrel rolls, and many other basic aerobatic maneuvers.
After you have several flights on your trainer, its time to reward yourself with your first aerobatic maneuver—a loop. Climb to a safe altitude and turn into the wind. Apply full throttle, level the wings, then slowly pull back on the elevator stick to about 1/2 to 3/4 up elevator (depending on your throws), and hold this control input. After you go over the top and start down the back side of the loop, pull the throttle back to about half, this will keep the stresses on the airplane low and the airspeed relatively constant. Keep holding "up" elevator until the plane is level, then slowly release the sticks. You're done! It's really that easy!
(THIS APPLIES TO ALL R/C AIRPLANES): If, while flying, you notice any unusual sounds, such as a low-pitched "buzz", this may be an indication of control surface "flutter". Because flutter can quickly destroy components of your airplane, any time you detect flutter you must immediately cut the throttle and land the airplane! Check all servo grommets for deterioration (this will indicate which surface fluttered), and make sure all pushrod linkages are slop-free. If it fluttered once, it will probably flutter again under similar circumstances unless you can eliminate the slop or flexing in the linkages. Here are some things which can result in flutter: Excessive hinge gap; Not mounting control horns solidly; Sloppy fit of clevis pin in horn; Elasticity present in flexible plastic pushrods; Side-play of pushrod in guide tube caused by tight bends; Sloppy fit of Z-bend in servo arm; Insufficient glue used when gluing in the elevator joiner wire or aileron torque rod; Excessive flexing of aileron, caused by using too soft balsa aileron; Excessive "play" or "backlash" in servo gears; and Insecure servo mounting.
When it's time to land, fly a normal landing pattern and approach as follows: Reduce the power to about 1/4 and fly a downwind leg far enough out from the runway to allow you to make a gentle 180 degree turn. As you make the turn into the wind for your final approach, pull the throttle back to idle. The PT-60 has a lot of lift so you will need a slow, reliable idle in order to achieve a nice slow landing. Allow the plane to keep descending on a gradual glide slope until you are about 3 feet off the runway. Gradually apply a little up elevator to flare for landing. You should apply just enough up elevator to hold the plane just off the runway while the excess speed bleeds off. The trainer should settle onto the runway for a slow, slightly nose-high landing.
How does motor choice affect my model's performance?
In electric motors, an increase in winds means an increase in top end speed. A decrease in winds means an increase in torque, or acceleration. Conversely, more turns means more torque/acceleration, while less turns means more top end speed.
Pinions and spur gears work the same as turns—more teeth, more torque, less teeth, less torque but more speed.
Model snaps, tip stalls, or loops off to one side. What can I do?
There are a variety of causes of this behavior.
- CG: A tail heavy model will snap on elevator input, particularly aerobatic models such as a giles, cap, or extra. Additionally, they will tend to go nose up at an idle, causing the model to stall unexpectedly. For example, the Great Planes Giles G202 .46 sized model is DESIGNED AND INTENDED to snap on elevator input alone when using the high rates, which are solely for 3D flight. Be sure you are flying on a low rate intended for normal flight performance.
- Lateral Balance: The #1 cause of a tip stall or unexpected snap is improper lateral balance. If one wing tip is heavier, it will stall first and drop first. Be sure to lateral balance carefully, actually suspending the model off the floor and measuring the tips' distance from the floor. See other areas of our FAQ for more info on lateral.
- Wing warp: Another very common cause of tip stalls is uneven washin or washout in a model. Use an incidence meter to check the incidence angles of the roots and tips of both wings, and a variety of points in between. The two wing roots should be identical when compared to the tail, and the two tips should be no more than 1 degree of difference between them. Even a model which should not have washin will perform better if the washin is even than a model which has no washin but has uneven washout. See other areas of our FAQ for information on adding washout/correcting uneven washin.
- Next please check that the elevator halves are perfectly straight to the stab. Next use a throw gauge to measure the actual elevator throw at neutral then at full travel. You may need to make adjustments to get these two identical. They MUST BE.
How long can I store unopened fuel? how about opened fuel?
- Unopened fuel which is stored out of direct sunlight is literally good for years. We have opened 10-year old containers and had the fuel be fully potent and usable. However, in general it is a good idea to use the fuel off your shelves annually, especially if exposed to sunlight.
- Once fuel has been opened, it has been exposed to air which includes moisture. Both water and sunlight are your fuel's enemy, so the more frequently or the longer it is exposed the more rapidly it will deteriorate. In general we recommend customers use all open containers of fuel in a single modeling season then properly discard any remaining fuel.
How do I check incidence on a park flier?
The Great Planes AccuPoint Laser Incidence Meter and the Robart incidence meter are not well suited for measuring incidence angles on small, flimsey airplanes such as park flyers and indoor flyers. The units are simply too bulky and too heavy.
One accurate way of measuring these angles is as follows:
- Block up the airplane until the stabilizer is level. (Use a small bubble level to check that the stabilizer is level).
- Take accurate measurements from the leading and trailing edges of the wing down to the flat and level table top. Using the difference between these measurements, along with the chord of the wing, one can compute the incidence angles (by trigonometry). You would divide the difference in measurements by the wing chord, and then use a calculator to find the ArcTangent of the result. This would be the angle of the surface, relative to the table top.
It's not an easy way to do it, but it is mathematically accurate.
How do I break in an electric motor?
Ideally you'd like to run the motor at about 1/3-1/2 it's rated voltage with no load (without prop) for an hour or two—long enough to wear the brushes down without arcing.
R/C car modelers have special transformers for optimum break-in on high performance motors. If what you're working with is a typical 05 can motor, you can make your own system that works fairly well. Start with 2 alkaline D cell batteries and some spare 12 gauge wire. Simply hook the batteries up in series so you have a 3 volt power source and hook the wires to the appropriate terminals on the motor. Let the motor run until the batteries are dead.
My switch stopped working, and when I checked it, I found the black wire all corroded. The copper part looked dark and was brittle. What happened?
This is a case of what's been called "Black Wire Corrosion". Over time, the negative lead from the battery pack, through the switch harness, to the receiver will corrode until the copper wire becomes dark, almost black, and brittle. It no longer has the bright "coppery" look, and is no longer flexible.
The cause is storage of the system in a damp environment with the battery installed. The effect of the wire being connected to the battery pack, and the environmental moisture, will cause an electrical effect to promote corrosion of the wire. The corrosion usually starts at the battery pack and works its way towards the switch harness.
A "damp" environment does not necessarily mean that it's particularly humid. Storage in a garage or shed provides enough humidity to allow the corrosion to happen. The wet that gets brought into a garage from your car is enough. It will happen faster if the battery pack is not maintained and allowed to go flat. Keep the battery charged and cycle it regularly to prevent or slow down the corrosion.
The net result of black wire corrosion is to make the battery lead act like a resistor, which will prevent proper current flow from the battery pack to the receiver and servos. In some cases, the resistance can be high enough that during aerobatics, with all servos moving, the voltage at the receiver can drop enough to cause the receiver to quit. The model crashes as a result.
What can make this baffling is the fact that the R/C system may operate normally when tested. That's because the tests don't involve high loads upon the servos, so the voltage drop caused by the resistance of the corroded wire isn't enough to cause the receiver to quit.
Transmitter batteries can also be affected, but usually not as much because transmitters are usually stored in a friendlier environment. They still need to be checked periodically, though. When the corrosion gets bad enough, the transmitter will just not turn on. It's not likely that the transmitter will fail during a flight.
The effects on the corrosion would also be seen on the transmitter's power meter as low output. The battery pack gets blamed, gets replaced, and the problem goes away. That's because a new battery pack comes with new wires. Corrosion may never even be suspected or found in these cases.
There is no cure once black wire corrosion starts. You can only replace the wires. Prevention requires that your equipment be stored in a clean, dry environment, and maintain your batteries. Store them fully-charged and cycle them regularly. If you can't do that, then at least remove the batteries from your models, and store them, along with your transmitters, inside, where the temperature and humidity are fairly stable, compared to a garage or shed.
How do I change the prop on the Aero Cruiser and similar models?
There is a small setscrew on the prop nut. You need to remove this setscrew, then the prop/spinner combination slide right off.
Is it ok to let my antenna touch the pushrods, servo leads, etc?
No. It is important not to let the antenna touch the pushrods, servo leads, etc. It is particularly important not to allow the antenna to make contact with anything metallic in the aircraft. We recommend running the antenna through its own pushrods tube to isolate it safely.
My airplane's electric motor runs in the wrong direction. What do I do?
First off, it's not the speed control. Model airplane speed controls have only forward, off, and sometimes propeller brake. The problem is elsewhere.
There are two things to check. First off, make sure your motor is wired correctly. Sometimes the "+" and "-" symbols on the motor are not correct for your installation, and you really have your motor wired backwards. You can easily check this with a tach. If your motor turns more RPM in one direction than the other, the higher-RPM direction is the correct direction.
If your motor is wired correctly, but the propeller still turns in the wrong direction, you may have to change how you're gearing the motor. This usually happens when a gearbox and motor are put together by the modeler, and the motor was not purchased specifically for the gearbox.
What if Accu-Cycle Elite shows a "time limit over" error message, even though it seems all parameters were correct? Is there something wrong with my battery?
Accu-Cycle Elite uses the battery capacity value that was entered by the user for certain calculations and safety protections. If the battery is actually capable of holding a higher amount of capacity than what was entered, this message may appear. Increasing the battery capacity value in Elite by 10% can help to alleviate this problem. This problem could occur with new NiCd or NiMH packs and is not a cause for alarm in most cases.
I did not find the answer to my question here. How do I get further assistance?
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