Mr Akimoto's Fabulous and Free RC Training Course

Duraplane Blues or You Can Fly Too!
The process of becoming an R/C pilot can be a long arduous journey filled with many disappointments with the result that many aspiring
pilots give up and abandon the pursuit. There are many reasons for this, and I'll discuss a few. First the traditional advice given by veteran flyers, hobby shops, and many forums is inconsistent and confusing. Price can be a big factor often beyond the means of many. Good instructors who have the patience and skill to teach a usually diverse group of people are rare. But probably the biggest barrier to entry is the nature of our society.
However, before I go on, I should answer some questions about myself, because you're probably asking yourself, "Who the Hell is this expert?" Well I'm a retired Navy pilot with some 40 years of experience flying military aircraft. When I retired a couple of years ago, I took up R/C models. Without Uncle Sam footing the fuel and maintenance bills ignoring the costs of the aircraft, I wasn't going to reach into my own pocket.
We live in a society where many folks want instant gratification. The idea of pursuing something that takes more than a few hours to learn and costs more than the price of a video game is a very foreign notion. When these people realize what R/C flying involves, they go back to their Sony PSPs.
The typical advice given by the cognoscenti is to get a RTF and find an instructor. If you're lucky, you might find a patient helpful individual who can spend the time to solo you. I wish you luck in this regard. The knucklehead I had managed to destroy my plane due to his incompetence in our second session. He thoughtlessly lifted his thumb off the trainer button when I was making an approach!
There is another side to the student-instructor relationship. As the student, you have to make the time to show up for your lessons. That might seem obvious, but in a busy world, you might find it difficult to fulfill your role.
I have a beef with hobby shops. They know that the sport is a revolving door. After the novice crashes his first ARF or RTF, he likely will give up. Hence they have only one opportunity to make a sale, and they are going to recommend what can put the most bucks in their pockets.
So my purpose is to give you an alternative to the traditional flight path (pun intended). I'm going to recommend an approach that will not only cost you practically nothing but you'll learn if the hobby is for you. Instead of getting a RTF, an instructor, and all the ancillary garbage you'll need at the flight line, get a flight simulator. There is a free one, and I use it. It's called the Flying Model Simulator (FMS) that you can obtain here:
http://n.ethz.ch/student/mmoeller/fms/index_e.html
If you have a fairly modern computer, get the latest download (Ver 2.0 Alpha 8.5). You'll need an interface or controller to the program, and I advise you to read my two posts in the Joystick-Interface Forum for a cheap and effective solution.
Here's the deal. A flight simulator is an efficient and cost effective solution to learning to fly not only models but full-scale airplanes. I should know, because I have spent thousand of hours in them. Also you'll quickly find out if R/C flying is for you. If you don't enjoy flying on the simulator, you won't like the real thing!
To get the most benefit from your experience, you'll need to set up a training program. If all you plan to do is burn holes in the sky, you'll be wasting your time. After you become familiar with the program, set the wind and gusts to zero. Next select a training aircraft. I recommend the Ultra Stick 40 as an excellent trainer. Next develop your regime:
1. With the throttle set to about half, trim the aircraft so you can maintain straight and level flight.
2. Practice flying a pattern (left and right). When you get good, you can alternate them.
3. Take offs are very natural - power, takeoff roll, and then rotation.
4. Landings aren't so intuitive, but you'll quickly get the hang of them after a bit of time. Remember that power determines the sink rate and pitch airspeed. If you are sinking too fast, just add some power. If your airspeed falls off, just point the nose down.
5. Learn how the sticks operate when the aircraft is heading towards and away from you. Correct manipulation of the controls will become second nature in short order.
6. Crank in some wind and gusts. It's paramount you learn to fly in wind, because it is nearly always present except in the early morning and late evening (wind is created by the heating of the atmosphere).
Assuming you like it, you'll need a plane and some field equipment. You can be looking for this stuff while working on the simulator. I recommend Ebay for some really good deals. Tower Hobbies also has a lot of good buys if you're willing to spend the time looking.
However, I have very specific recommendations for a plane and engine. Your plane needs a high quality reliable fuel efficient powerful engine. Only the OS Max machines truly meet this intimidating list of demands. The OS engines cost a couple of bucks more, but they're worth every penny. The difference in price between a Max and the rest may be ten or fifteen dollars or chump change. I recommend the OS Max 40 LA (or FX) as the perfect engine for a 40 sized trainer. It develops one hp, will give you approximately fifteen minutes of flight time with an 8 oz fuel tank (running at half throttle). I use a kitchen timer set for 15 minutes and bring her in when it starts to beep.
Go out to any flying field nearly any day, and I guarantee you'll see plenty of crack ups. I seldom see any with minor damage. Most need extensive repairs, and if they were mine, I'd pitch them. I just don't have the interest or patience to fix them. Beginners and experts alike bash 'em in. What a novice pilot needs is something that takes a beating and keeps on ticking. Fortunately there is one such plane that meets the challenge - the Duraplane Trainer 40.
This is truly a great little plane that is practically indestructible. Minor mishaps that would disable the typical balsa model barely faze the Duraplane. I have had dozens of little incidences simply to walk over pick it up and keep on flying! Once I let it get out of my sight where I couldn't tell if it was coming or going. I just shut down the engine and let it land itself. It didn't have a scratch on it!
The Duraplane requires some very simple assembly, three wheels (2.75" recommended), 8 oz gas tank, and two rolls of Econocote or Towercote. The only difficult part of the build was making the hinge slots, and for this, I recommend the Great Planes Hinge Slotting Tool. I did them by hand, and that's why I recommend it!
Folks buy ARF or RTF to avoid building, so why buy a Duraplane kit ($55 from Tower)? Well after you crack up that pretty RTF, you'll be doing some serious building while the Duraplane guy is happily cruising the warm blue summer skies laughing the whole time! It's either build today or tomorrow (and many thereafter).
Finally, I have some suggestions about radios. You'll need a simple 4-channel unit. The major makers are Futaba, JR, Airtronics, and Hitec. The first three are Japanese while Hitec is German. All are good quality, but there are other considerations. First Futaba and Airtronics only have a one year warranty. JR has a three year while Hitec has a two. Warranty work on the Airtronics can only be done at their facility in California while the others have warranty stations. For example, I live in Indiana and there is a warranty station in Champaign, Illinois for Futaba and JR. Unfortunately I own an Airtronics VG400 that I had to send in twice for warranty work. Turnaround was two weeks for each repair!
I have followed Ebay for quite some time, and I can tell you there are a lot of really good deals on the low-end systems (four channels) of the major brands. Less than $50 will get you a complete system (Tx, Rx, 4 servos, switch harness, aileron extension, charger, and battery packs for both Tx and Rx).
When you become really good with your simulator, you'll be ready to hit the flying field. You'll only need a couple of hours of an instructor's time, and you can then quickly dispense with him.
Well that's it. Happy trails partner!
Ciao,
Mr Akimoto
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Good pointers, but I started out back in the early '70s without simulator or instructor. My learner was a 1/4-A airplane, the Top Flite Schoolboy and .020 PeeWee and single channel. Over time one thing I found out about the 1/2-A airplanes, they don't handle wind as well as the bigger ones, but because they didn't rekit themselves if flown over tall grass, one could do his fair share of crashing. Also, one could get gutsy with the wind because of the lower investment, one was not as afraid to take chances.
With the newer electrics supplanting the 1/2-A's and larger, electric flight opens up new horizons. An airplane that uses a 400 speed or 280 that weighs under a pound or pound and a half will not blow apart as easily as a 4 - 5 pound airplane.
Two channels (rudder/elev) or 3 (REM) is easier to learn on than full house.
Anyway, there are other planes out there to learn on.
I'm sure others out there feel I was an eejit for not seeking out a club and finding an instructor, but back in Li'l Creek AMPHIBASE then there were none.
--
HPT

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I was following your advice:

I downloaded the new FMS V2.0 Alpha 8.5 flight sim and it seems very limited with regard to included aircraft models. Is there somewhere I can download extra planes? I have 3 planes, 1 glider, and 2 helicopters to choose from and none of them are the Ultra Stik 40. The Pitts Bipe and the SU-26 are both a lot more aerobatic than the typical trainer.
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Did you check the FMS site?
http://n.ethz.ch/student/mmoeller/fms/links_e.html
--
Grant Edwards grante Yow! I am having a
at CONCEPTION--
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The FMS site has a link called "Models" that simply shows some models from Beta 7, there is nothing to download.
I did a little more searching and used the "Links" link and found some additional models. Unzipping them to the FMS/Models subdirectory was simple and straightforward.
I'll follow Mr Akimoto's advice and search the FMS forums for additional models. Thanks for the help!
wrote:

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There is a Models Forum where people give links to models and ask questions and so on. A fellow named GGunners will usually answer questions if you're humble enough.
I can give you a copy of the US 40, but I'd have to mail it to you on a 3.5" floppy. I'm sure you can find it somewhere. Also note there are several websites with loads of models. All you have to do is sign up. Also note that there are models written specifically for the newest version, but all models will work with it.
FMS isn't perfect, and you'll find some flaws in the software. However, I can guarantee you that none of them will detract from the software being a very useful tool for learning to fly RC. One example is while on the runway, the tail of some models will sink below the runway. The US 40 will do this. If it bothers you, just add a little wind down the runway. Also the forum probably has fixes, but I have never bothered to look.
One nice feature is the new software is very stable (you will get an occassional glitch), and it doesn't require a super computer to run (my computer is an AMD 1.4 Mhz Athlon). Some of the commercially available flight simulators require a very fast processor and graphics card. Also besides costing a couple of hundred bucks, they want fifty bucks for each upgrade.
Mr Akimoto
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Do not dispair! Since FMS is free, you'll have to do a lot of things for yourself. None of this stuff is very hard and you'll be rewarded with a very excellent flight training program.
The download only has a couple of models. In the forum, you'll find links to "model" files. Thes files are packed, and you have to unpack them with www.winzip.com. You also have to install them in the "Model or Models" file of the download.
I highly recommend the US 40 as your training aircraft. Go to the Models Forum and ask for a link to the file. I believe a fellow by the name of Gunners has it. Also you can use your TX as an interface to the program or you can follow the advice given on the Joystick Forum in the following two posts:
1. Oh the Joy!
2. More Joy!
If you're interested, I have a new 3-axis analog joystick from CH products that works superbly well with the program that I'll sell you. For an additional few dollars, you can easily and cheaply convert it to a USB controller (it tells how in the first post). I am using the interface described in the seecond post.
There are too many details to go into here, but the solution is to get involved in the forum. You'll find it a lot of fun!
Mr Akimoto
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You make many good points, but please check your comments re: 1. < "The major makers are Futaba, JR, Airtronics, and Hitec. The first three are Japanese while Hitec is German"> Please note Hitec is a Korean Company. Hitec has made OEM products for other companies including Multiplex. (e.g. even some of the Tower brand servos etc are simply rebadged Hitec.) Multiplex de was recently purchased by Hitec, this takeover may have led you to think of Hitec as a German company. Hitec make all their RC systems in their own factories with own employees whereas the other brands mentioned either rebadge products from OEM sources or have outsourced manufacture and packaging. Futaba product is now labelled "made in China" and shipped direct here from China. Both Acoms and JR are OEM in Malaysia. Airtronics (known as Sanwa outside USA) are labelled "made in Singapore". 2. <"You'll need an interface or controller to the program, and I advise you to read my two posts in the Joystick-Interface Forum for a cheap and effective solution."> many posts from other people, I was unable to quickly locate those mentioned by you.- under which heading? Perhaps you may care to check out all the items under the sub section "Buddy Boxes. Servo Leads.Simulators.Interface" at Alan's Hobby, Model & RC Web Links http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~atong / e.g. TX 2 TX *** http://users.belgacom.net/TX2TX / Hitec USB Flight Sim Interface (for Hitec Futaba JR Transmitters) + FMS *** http://www.acehobby.co.nz/ossb2/root/OSSBEC1/showitem.asp?PIDR310 For those with late model Futaba TX which have the square trainer socket, new adaptor cables are available from rc-circuits http://www.rc-circuits.com/Interface%20Adapters.htm#null and elsewhere. Note: when using own TX for most systems, remove the Module or Crystal (if no module) from - TX whilst operating FMS or similar programs with TX. TX battery will operate several hours more as it is not generating RF and the other advantage is you will not be interfering with other electronics surrounding you. e.g.ghosting/background noise on nearby TV and radio. regards Alan T. Alan's Hobby, Model & RC Web Links http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~atong / .................................................................

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The subject of controllers is quite complicated and confusing which explains the multitude of posts on the FMS forum. I did some research and came up with a very simple interface using two analog joy sticks made by CH products. I also found a way to use a 3-axis joystick made by CH Products too (It's for sale if you're interested). You'll find these posts in the Joystick-Interface Forum:
1. Oh the Joy!
2. More Joy!
The author is Eagle Al my pseudonym.
Both of my solutions work extremely well and are super reliable. I've been using my CH Mach I joysticks set up for a year now without a hint of a problem. Incidentally, with some work, you'll find them on Ebay from time-to-time. I bought my second one for only dollar! I bought my original one over 20 years ago which should tell you something about its quality.
Mr Akimoto
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