Beginners Guide

Recommendations for beginners equipment

We have been able to negotiate a special extra discounted price for beginners who require to purchase a complete package. This price is not only extremely competitive but has the additional advantage of only having one p&p cost. If purchasing from lots of suppliers the p&p can add a significant proportion of the overall cost. If advantage is taken of purchasing a complete package from our partner supplier then the overall cost will be less than those sown below.

The following is a list of recommended items for someone starting up in the hobby. The items are ones that have been found from experience to be very good for the beginner but they also will continue to give scope for progression once flying has been mastered. Too often equipment is purchased that is grown out of, or is inadequate for someone once they progress into the hobby. While the items below are not necessarily the cheapest way to start they will save money in the long run and are all worth the investment. Items with an * are perhaps the best overall buys.

Additional items will be required over and above those listed (e.g. propellers, servos, motors, speed controllers [esc’s]) but further advice can only be given once initial choices are made and dependant upon the choices these may already be supplied with the model.
Another decision that the beginner needs to make is the power source. The choices are basically petrol, glow or electric. All have pros and cons. All will need their own set of additional equipment requirements. All probably work out much the same cost over time, though petrol is now much cheaper than glow fuel and small size motors are readily available. Discuss your choices BEFORE you buy (not all planes can accept an IC motor!). We will assume that the electric route is chosen initially for the advice in this document though this does not mean we do not recommend the use of IC engines. The advantage electric models do have is the speed at which the plane is readied for flight which can be advantageous for the beginner who needs to maximise their time in the air.

Other items may be required but these are the main items. As an indication the minimum cost of getting airborne with an electric setup is about £410, but if it can be afforded, the advised setup would cost £625 but this would be providing future proofing and greater diversity. Of course second hand equipment may be available for reduced prices but be very careful if going this route.

Always talk to your trainer and other club members BEFORE making a purchase.

All guide prices as of document date at foot of page.  Check to see if any of our suppliers who give us discount (see members only section) stock the items you require (or can order them for you)

Transmitter 

The transmitter is perhaps the most important purchase.  Initially you will not need many of the facilities they can provide but before long you will almost certainly be wanting to expand into planes with flaps and retracts, maybe lights or multi servo planes etc. You may also wish to utilise the telemetry now available to report on flight battery voltage, power consumption, altitude, rpm, engine temperature etc. You will also appreciate the Tx being able to speak the amount of flight time left so that you do not need to take your eyes off the plane. It is therefore often worth paying a little more and buying something that you can grow into. A 6 channel model should be the minimum you consider, but do also think about an 8 or even 9 channel model if you think you will be buying more complex models in the future. The make is also important since once committed and as your fleet grows it will become difficult (costly) to change completely. All of the well known brands (Spektrum, Futaba, JR, Hitec etc) offer good products but another consideration is what the other members of the club use. To buddy box you almost always need to be using the same make (all of out trainers use Spektrum and the club Tx is also Spektrum). Well informed advice is also easier to get where many others have the same make. In our club over 70% use Spektrum.  Whether you get Mode 1 or 2 is also a decision you need to make. At our club 90% + use mode 2, though most modern Tx’s can now be user swapped and wireless technology permits a mode 1 to mode 2 and vice versa connection for training.

Warning – Check the part no. of the item you are buying. Many shops are selling old equipment which have very similar names. Only the part number differentiates.

Spektrum DX6G3 (SPM6750/SPMR6750)
Guide price £140 without receiver, £160 with receiver

*Spektrum DX8G2 (SPM8000/SPMR8000)
Guide price £170 without receiver, £220 with receiver

Spektrum DX9 (SPM9900/SPMR9900)    Guide price £255

We do not recommend buying anything less than the DX6 though by all means discuss this with your trainer for the reasons (basically the cost savings are outweighed by the loss of functionality for future development)

Receiver 

Basic models such as the WOT4 only require 4 channels. The bigger Riot XL recommended below has flaps so will require a 6 channel receiver. The new AR6600T receiver (for Spektrum) has inbuilt telemetry so is very worth considering as it is relatively cheap

4 channel AR400 (SPMAR400)  Guide price £21

6 Channel AR6210 (SPMAR6210) Guide price £45

6 Channel AR610 (SPMAR610)  Guide price £35

*6 Channel AR6600T (SPMAR6600T)  Guide price £48

Plane

Many guides recommend a high wing plane specifically designed for training with plenty of dihedral providing stability to learn on. We however feel that the planes below are perhaps better than outright trainers in that they offer relatively easy planes to fly as a beginner with the rates set low but will enable the pilot to stretch his wings once he has mastered the basics and provide a model that will not become redundant after learning. We have a number of members who have trained very successfully on these models. Do check however what the model includes. While one may look cheaper to start with, if you then need to purchase a motor, servos, propeller, spinner etc as well then the price soon climbs against one that includes these items. Three of the planes listed are foamie models while the fourth is a more traditional ply and balsa model.

*WOT 4
Note: This will require a motor, ESC, servos, propeller, spinner in addition to the receiver and batteries and either the IC or electric pack
Guide price £95

WOT 4 foamie
Note: This will require a receiver and batteries  Guide price £115

*Max thrust Riot XL
Note: This will require a receiver and batteries   Guide price £185

Can now be purchased through RC World – just call

Max Thrust Riot 
Note: This will require a receiver and batteries Guide price £126

Can now be purchased through RC World – just call

Battery tester

This is a necessity to check on the state of your batteries before and after flight

*Smart Guard 2 Lithium Battery Checker & Balancer   Guide price £16.50

Charger 

Be warned! Most chargers require a DC power source and LiPo batteries take 1 hour to charge. Unless you have a spare 12V leisure battery and it’s associated charger or a hefty DC bench power supply you will need to buy these too if you get a basic charger. We normally suggest you have a minimum of 3 batteries for your plane to ensure you get a reasonable amount of flying each session. A single charge would therefore take 3 hours to charge them all back up again when you get home. Also many chargers only have a 50W output. While this may be adequate initially you will probably rapidly outgrow this very quickly. We recommend a minimum output of 100W. A charger that is capable of accepting a 240V AC or a DC input is really worth considering but there are not so many of these around.

A charger that is capable of charging 2 or 4 batteries simultaneously is very well worth consideration and the one recommended below is excellent value.

*Horizon Prophet Sport Quad 4 X 100W AC/DC multi charger (can charge up to 4 batteries simultaneously)

Guide price £145

If going for a basic DC powered charger the range of choice broadens considerably (but bear in mind you will need a suitable supply). A real quality purchase which offers many facilities not available on many of the others are the Junsi icharger range that permit measurement of the battery IR and logging to a PC amongst other qualities.

Junsi icharger 106B+      Guide price £80

Other options

Single battery AC/DC 90W charger      Guide price £56

Twin battery AC/DC 100W charger      Guide price £108

Batteries 

These need to be chosen very carefully to suit the chosen plane. Obviously they must physically fit but the rating must also be suitable. The number of cells (e.g. 3s, 4s etc) will be determined by the motor and ESC. The greater the capacity the longer the flight time possible but bear in mind increased capacity will increase size and weight. The ‘C’ rating is perhaps the most difficult. If the quoted ‘C’ rating were reliable it would be easy to choose but they are rarely anywhere near realistic values and some manufacturers are more optimistic than others! A good rule of thumb is to work out the actual required ‘C’ rating then multiply by 1.43 to 1.66. This should ensure that the battery is not being discharged at too high a rate and should consequently last much longer. Often the information required to work out the ‘C’ rating required is not readily available. However, a very rough rule of thumb to use would be as follows: The manufacturer will nearly always quote the ESC rating and the number of cells required. So, using the equation ((ESC rating *1500)/chosen battery capacity in mAh) for a 2650mAh battery and an esc rated at 40A we would get 40*1500=60000 and 60000/2650=22.7 In this case a ‘C’ rating greater than 23 is required so a 25C rating would be the minimum to use. This should build in suitable safety margins.

3s 2200mAh – 3300mAh

4s 2650mAh – 3000mAh

Accessories required for IC petrol and glow engines

Glow stick    Guide price £12

Electric starter + Battery    Guide price £23

Chicken stick      Guide price £2.80

Fuel pump manual or electric     Guide price £8.70  or  £19

 

Receiver battery

This is required for IC powered planes and may be needed for electric planes if you opt to use a separate supply for your receiver other than that from the ESC. (see our training notes for the pros and cons of a separate Rx power supply). There are a number of ways to go for this supply but predominately either a NiMh or a LiPo battery (with a stand alone UBEC) can be used. Either way you will also need a suitable charger. If you don’t have any electric planes then a NiMh with a cheap mains charger is probably the best option. The choice of voltage will depend upon your servos – ask for advice if unsure.     Guide price £8.30, £8.70

Fuel tank

Needs to suit plane and fuel but readily available

Propeller

The size of propeller will depend upon the motor chosen but readily available. Different types of propeller are used on electric models to those on IC so it is important to not only get the right size but also the right type.

 

Prices as at November 25, 2016