Electric Flight in Australia


How can I start in electric flight?

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Take one lightweight sailplane of 1.5 to 2.0 metre wing span – and build it light making room for the electronic components.

Suitable Aircraft: If you want to build from a plan, I recommend the Electra 7 (1.88m) electric glider plan available from the Ozzie Radio Control Model News magazine (03) 5966 7287

Suitable kits include the Quiet Advancer, Defender, Albatross.
And the list could go on. The key is: the aircraft must not be too big and it must be light.

Take one lightweight radio outfit – minimum 3 channels. Servos should be minis, and it is preferable to have a small receiver and use a small battery pack such as 250 mah (if you are going to use a receiver pack - see controllers below).

I am often asked if standard size radio gear can be used. The answer is "yes" - if you do not have small gear, do not let that deter you from flying electrics. Many people have successfully flown electrics with standard size servos, receivers and battery packs. You just have to be conscious of the need to keep the weight of your aircraft down as much as possible to achieve successful electric flight, especially when using small motors.

Take one ferrite electric motor designed for cars (choose one with 22 to 25 windings - not a hot version) – either a 600 size motor or Leisure Sport is recommended – and bolt it to the front bulkhead of the aircraft. The nose may have to be shortened slightly to help with balance. Add a prop adapter and a 7 x 6” or 8 x 4” prop.

Add a gearbox if possible. A gearbox with a bigger prop will give you more torque. The aircraft will fly slower, but climb better. With the advent of in-line gearboxes it is now much easier to use a gearbox, even if you are adapting a standard glider. The Astropower-Leisure Defender recommended already comes with a gearbox supplied. In other gliders a Graupner 600 with in-line gearbox already fitted will bolt in the same place as a 600 motor, and will swing a 14 x 8.5" prop. The cost will be slightly higher, but you will find success comes more easily. (Outrunner motors nearly always replace 600 motors these days - no gearbox needed - see a list here).

Take one good quality speed controller. For a standard buggy motor you will need a controller that will handle 30 Amps. It is common today to use a BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit) controller so that you do not have to carry a receiver battery. The power for your radio comes from the flight battery via the receiver lead. Read the instructions for your controller carefully, and whatever you do, do not reverse the polarity of the cables going to the battery. If you do, that will be the end of your controller. I recommend that you solder the cables from the controller to the back of your motor, thus eliminating a connection. Then use polarised connectors to link your controller to the battery. I recommend that you take a little trouble to understand your controller, and spend a little more money to buy a good quality unit. Use a good controller and you will have solved one possible area of frustration! (Note - you will need a brushless controller for an outrunner motor),

Take one 7 cell battery pack of Sanyo CP1300SCR Ni-cad cells and add plugs/sockets, to the wires leading from the pack (thick, highly flexible wires) – keep the wires as short as possible. (LiPo cells nearly always are a better option these days - see price list).

Take one Automatic Ni-cad Fast Charger to charge your cells. One with a trickle charge facility is better – so trickle charge your cells first time up and preferably each time before you go flying. This is the second area where it is worth while spending a little more money. Obtain a good charger and your electric flying will be painless!

Now you have all the ingredients to enter the quiet, clean world of electric flight. Before you rush off to the flying field read on a little and try to understand what you are going to do – obtain the help of an experienced electro-flier!

Click here to go to a web site by Ian Pullar devoted to answers for those just starting in radio controlled flying.