Beginner's Guide: Choosing Equipment
By Andrew Gibbs
3 or 4 channels?
I feel that particularly for mature modelers, a 3 channel model is more than enough of a challenge to be going on with. In contrast, introducing ailerons straight away is perhaps a more suitable approach for young pilots. That said, my own experience was that I started RC flying as a teenager with a 3 channel model, and personally I think I might have found 4 channels to start with a bit much. The choice is yours!
choice - ARTF, or build
from a kit or even from
The big advantage of ARTF models is that they can be assembled relatively quickly, so they allow a rapid start to flying. Also, the emotional investment in such a model is much less, so should the worst happen and your model becomes badly damaged, at least you won’t have invested a lot of time and effort in building it. The choice is yours, and either approach can give you a great start to electric power flying.
Another possible approach is to buy both types – perhaps start with an ARF to allow you to start flying with the minimum of delay, and then find a kit to build in the meantime.
One final possibility is to buy a second hand model. This has the potential to offer a significant time and cost saving, especially if it’s offered with all the equipment necessary to go flying. However, purchasing a second hand model is fraught with potential problems. To avoid these it would be wise to recruit expert help to guide you.
Well, that’s covered model selection fairly thoroughly. Let’s now move on and discuss electric power systems:
However, brushed motors may still be used successfully for certain models such as vintage types and powered gliders, so if you already own a brushed system there may be no need to replace it just yet.
However, for several reasons, most especially to do with safety, LiPo batteries must be handled with more care than other types. From this perspective, they are perhaps less suitable for beginners than any other battery type. However, many LiPo batteries are in use by beginners and problems are relatively uncommon, especially if the time is taken to learn how to use them properly. LiPo batteries require the use of a balancer. The Gibbs Guide to LiPo batteries is highly recommended for anyone using LiPo batteries (well, I would say that wouldn’t I?!).
As a beginner, if you want to go the LiPo route then its probably best to avoid the larger size of trainer both because the associated smaller battery will withstand crashes much more readily and because a smaller LiPo is inherently less risky than a large one. If you have experienced help to assist you in leaning to fly this issue is less important but it’s still worth bearing in mind.
If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of LiPo batteries, then NiMH types are a perfectly practical alternative. They weigh a bit more, but they are much more tolerant of mistakes and won’t catch fire. Their weight can actually be an advantage in some short nosed models (such as certain vintage types) where nose weight would otherwise be needed anyway. Also, they don’t require the expense and complication of a balancer and they will withstand the physical impact of crashes and the mistakes of rough handling much better.
A third choice is also available. These are known as A123 cells, and are a form of lithium cell. These are nearly as light as LiPo cells, extremely robust and don’t carry a significant fire risk. However, they are bulky, not widely available and are only available in one size.
Safety wise, probably the most important issue to take care of with any battery type is to avoid short circuits by (a) the selection of a suitable connector system and (b) taking care in use.
and motor combination
When training, the prop may be expected to make frequent contact with the ground, for example in less than perfect landings. A rigid, easily broken prop is therefore a bad idea for beginners. A flexible alternative is probably a better choice. The possible reduced efficiency of a flexible prop is of no real significance with training models and may be ignored. Folding props are another solution to the issue. Do make sure that your props are balanced. Out of balance props can produce a surprising amount of vibration, which will waste power and perhaps cause damage to your model and its equipment.
and using a fast charger
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