Taking up a new hobby or interest can be exciting and daunting at the same time. Lot's of questions run round in your mind. How much is it going to cost to get started? Where to start? Wimborne Model Aero Club (WMAC) offers help and advice in taking up radio control flight to all ages and abilities.
Whether you have flown before or not and do not have a model just yet then come along to our airfield for an introductionary flight with the clubs trainer aircraft and one of the clubs instructors. We do have"buddy box" equipment, this is two transmitters linked by cable, the instructor has the master and you take the slave. Once in the air the instructor can flick a switch and you will have control. Exciting!
After your initial flight the instructor will be able to give you some advice and judgement on how long before you can fly solo, which is all newbie pilots ultimate goal. Also at this time if you haven't purchased already, he will suggest a suitable model, radio equipment and basic tools to get started subject to your budget and whether you prefer electric or glow fuel power. Chat with other members for even more advice and recommendations although not always the same.
Read also Electric or Glow Engine Guides
Usually a first model will be a 40 to 50 size trainer high-wing which are quite stable in flight. These aircraft are powered by 0.40 to 0.55 size nitro two-strokes. A transmitter(TX) with a minimum of 4 channels, 35mhz is relatively cheap although 2.4Ghz is becoming cheaper as demand increases and is th enorm nowadays. A full range receiver (RX) and some servos to operate the control surfaces and throttle.
However there are a number of manufacturers who are supplying RTF's (ready to fly). This is the complete kit, a virtually pre-assembled model, servos fitted, suitable engine supplied, receiver and transmitter. Hangar 9 PTS is stylish and popular. It's a low wing warbird trainer and after mastering flight can be modified for all out flying. In the UK about £340 complete. Just add fuel! However, simple high wing trainers are recommended for new entrants to RC Flight
ARF - Almost Ready to Fly
You want to assemble one yourself? Why not? There are so many arf's out there it's difficult to say which is any better than others. However, popular models come from Seagull, Hangar 9 and Thunder Tiger. With a minimum of tools - craft knife, epoxy resin, cyano glue (superglue), small screwdrivers and pliers you can have assembled in a matter of two evenings. Most kits come with a suitable fuel tank which usually goes up forward against the firewall. (engine bulkhead). However silicon fuel tubing isn't usually supplied, neither is a propellor or though most kits supply a spinner. Engine mounting is supplied with most kits because the firewall is pre-drilled to take the mount in the right position. Propellor size is normally around 11x6 for 40 size motors.
Engines - Two Stroke Nitro
A good size engine for your trainer will be a 46 size. This has ample power to get your model airborne easily. Popular makes are OS 46LA, Super Custom (SC) 46 or maybe an Irvine too. These are simple engines for a beginner although four stroke might be your choice. However, a four stroke would need to be at least 50% more capacity than the two stroke for the same amount of power. Though the four stroke is more torquey and lower revving and will swing a slightly larger prop. Four strokes are a lot more expensive though so for a beginner on a budget stick with two strokes.
The easy route is to purchase a radio system, this comprises of a transmitter, a receiver, receiver battery pack, usually four servos and of course a charger for the transmiiter and receiver battery packs.
Popular brand names are Futaba, Spektrum DX6i, Sanwa and JR (Japan Remote Control), the latter the more upmarket and expensive sets. For your first delve into RC flight however, a 6 channel system would be the best start point although a minimum of four channels is required in reality for aileron, elevator, rudder (steering) and throttle. A six channel gives you the option of flaps and retractable landing gear.
Prices vary but for 6 channel you are looking at spending about £120 at the present moment for 2.4Ghz (recommended) and 35mhz, the latters prices now falling significantly. Bear in mind that at the field you will not have to worry about sharing channels with 2.4Ghz systems which means more airtime for you.
Now those four servos that came with the system will be needed in your model to operate the control surfaces. Usually the flyleads have flat plugs with three wires, black - common, red - power, and white - signal. however there are some systems that use different colours which are, brown - common, red - power, yellow - signal. The leads from the servos will plug into your receiver as will the battery pack usualy via a switch (supplied). The plugs are usaully non-reversible for polarity reasons (Futaba) but be careful, there are some third party stuff that have plugs that will go in either way. (JR, Hitec)
Note: A helpful guide to setting up your new radio system can be found in our Video Library - RC Self Help
Nearly There - What else?
It is most likely you will need the following too. Epoxy resin (Araldite for example) or the more popular Z-Poxy from Zap for glueing model parts together and probably some specialist CA glue, th emost useful and probably needed often is Zap Thin Superglue (isocynate) from your local model shop. This soaks through balsa extremely quickly and bonds in a second or two.
A fuel pump to fill the tank (the latter is usually supplied or pre-installed by model maker), fuel (5% nitro, 20% oil mix), spare glow-plug, fuel tubing and if it's not supplied in the kit a prop spinner. To make engine starting easier and a little more safer a starter which will run off a 12 volt car battery or similar. The starter is fitted with a replaceable soft rubber cone which is pushed on to the prop spinner to spin the engine up. Or you use a "chicken stick" to flick the prop over the compression for starting - never use fingers, the prop blades are not very forgiving!
You should now have everything to hand to complete the model. Next step is to arrange with the club training officer a date to make that maiden flight. He will check over the model carefully and give you advice and recommendations.