Beginners Guide to RC Aircraft


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I found this great series on RC aircraft which is useful for anyone looking to learn more about RC aircraft in general. The tutorial series is structured around building your own RC aircraft called the Make Trainer. You can find the PDF plans here

MAKE Magazine and Lucas Weakley have teamed up to bring you Maker Hangar, a 15-episode tutorial series that will teach you everything you need to know to build and fly this custom RC plane, the Maker Trainer.

This series is focused on Fixed wing planes, but many of the videos (like the ones on batteries, ESC, radios, receivers etc…) are still applicable to multirotors so worth watching if you want to find out more.

If you have any questions then please ask but clicking on the reply on the post you have a question about.

Videos will be posted below

Episode 1 Introduction


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Episode 2 - Motors/Propellers

In Episode 2 of the Maker Hangar series, Lucas Weakley walks us through the motors used in R/C hobby aircraft, the propellers that go with these motors, and why their sizes matter. We learn about the differences between brushed and brushless motors, and why brushless motors are more prevalent in R/C aircraft. Then we learn about the importance of propeller choice in scratch builds, as Lucas teaches about the types of props, for example large diameter, shallow pitched props vs. small diameter with high pitches.


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Episode 3 - Electric Speed Controllers

In Episode 3 of the Maker Hangar series, Lucas Weakley breaks down the important role electric speed controllers (ESC) play in RC planes. These components convert DC power into AC power and regulate power to the motor. But it’s important to pair the appropriate ESC to the right motor otherwise you’re headed for a meltdown. In this video, Lucas will also talk about battery elimination circuits (BEC) and what they do.


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Episode 4 - Li-Po Batteries

In Episode 4 of the Maker Hangar series, Lucas Weakley teaches us about lithium polymer, or li-po, batteries, used in R/C aircraft. Lucas covers the numbers and letters that classify these batteries, how to determine where to place the battery for balancing the plane, charging the batteries, and safety concerns.


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Episode 5 - Servos

In Episode 5 of Maker Hangar, Lucas Weakley teaches us about servos, these are the little motors that move the control surfaces on RC planes. We learn about the different parts of a servo, and what each of them do. We see how to classify servos by their sizes, weights, and strength. Lucas also goes over the different types of linkages and the techniques on hooking up control surfaces.


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Episode 6 - R/C Radios

In Episode 6 of Maker Hangar, Lucas Weakley shows us the radios for R/C planes. We learn what all the sticks, switches, and knobs do as well as what they can be used for. We also see a glimpse into the past with old radio technology and how today’s is much better. Lucas also shows us how to do some basic programming with our radios, and we see all the cool things we can do with R/C transmitters.


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Episode 8 - Electric Parts

In Episode 8 of Maker Hangar, Lucas Weakley shows us all the parts he chose to go on the Maker Trainer! We also learn how to solder the different R/C connectors onto the ESC. Lucas also goes over how to connect all the wires together and bind your radio so you can control everything.


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Episode 7 - Receivers

In Episode 7 of Maker Hangar, Lucas Weakley teaches us about R/C receivers. These take the signals from transmitters and allow you to control your plane. We learn how the channels on the receiver correspond to the sticks and switches on the transmitters. Also Lucas goes over how to power receivers, and how and where to place them on your plane.


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Episode 10 - Maker Trainer Assembly

In Episode 10 of Maker Hangar, the second episode of the build series for the Maker Trainer, Lucas Weakley shows us how to build the plane and get it ready for electronics to be installed. We learn how to fold and glue together the fuselage, how to build the tail, how to assemble the wing, and Lucas demonstrates how the plane folds together when not flying. So grab your hot glue gun and a bag of glue sticks and lets get making!

Other links in this video


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Episode 11 - Installing Electronics

In Episode 11 of Maker Hangar (the third episode in building the Maker Trainer) Lucas Weakley shows us how to install all the servos, the motor, the receiver, and rout all the wires in the Maker Trainer. These next steps require a bit of patience and precision so take your time and everything will come out just fine.


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Episode 12 - Programming Radio

In Episode 12 of Maker Hangar, Lucas Weakley shows us how to set up the radio for the plane. We learn how to zero out the control surfaces, how to check for the correct directions of all the controls, and how to program in the travel and dual rates for all the movements. So grab your radio, and lets get programming!


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Episode 13 - Flight Simulator

In Episode 13 of Maker Hangar, Lucas Weakley teaches us about the importance of R/C flight simulators. We also learn about the different types of flight simulators and which ones are the best. Lucas also shows us what to do when we get our flight simulators, so that we’re ready to do our first flights.


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Episode 14 - Flying

In Episode 14 of Maker Hangar, Lucas Weakley shows us how to fly the Maker Trainer! We learn how to throw the plane, how to practice flying in a straight line, how to turn, and many more things. Just remember to hope for the best and expect the worse. Hopefully, you didn’t spend to much time on your first build so that if you do crash then you’re only out a couple dollars in foam.


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Episode 15 - Modifications

In Episode 15 of Maker Hangar, the last episode in the series, Lucas Weakley goes over some additional modifications you can make to your plane to make it fly better and do more things. We learn how to install a rudder control, how to install landing gear (this is still a work in progress), how to install a bomb dropper, how to program flaperons, and we also see what other things to do in the R/C hobby that can add to your skills. And finally, Lucas shows us to some very cool R/C YouTube channels that make great videos.