Old 02-23-2008, 05:25 AM
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Cool Everything You Wanted To Know About Electric Powered Flight

Note that even though this was originally posted in 2008, this gets regular review and updates to keep the chapters current and relevant and I add new chapters from time to time.

An E-Book by Ed Anderson
Updated November 2021


A number of people have suggested I write a book on the topic of electric flight. I would, but I find the electric field is changing too fast. Paper based books go out of date too quickly. Instead, I am going to create a thread that is my version of an e-book on the subject of electric powered flight. This e-format allows me to provide updates and to answer questions, things I can't do in paper form.

Whether you are a new flyer, a wet fuel pilot, or a glider pilot who wants to add an electric motor to your glider, I hope you find value here. Of course, I will fail to live up to the title as you can't know everything, but I will try to hit the essentials. I am also going to provide an index for your convenience.

The principles of weight, lift, drag, stall, and all the other things we know about flying apply the same regardless of what motor or engine the plane may have. The power systems may differ, and each has its unique benefits and quirks, but the principles of flight remain the same.

For new pilots who have no background, just relax, take a breath and read. I have tried to put it all in one place for you. Don't expect to know it all in one reading. After you take your early flights, come back and read again as you will now have some real-life experience to compare to what is contained here.

If you are starting with an RTF electric airplane, you really don't need to know all this stuff. However, be sure to look at the articles on RTFs and the Six Keys to Success for New Pilots. I think you will find them helpful.

For wet fuel pilots coming into electric, the first problem is terms and their meanings. The first two articles are specifically focused on this need.

I want to change your question from "What is the electric equivalent of a .40 glow engine?” to "What electric power system would be right for a 40 size glow plane?" The first question is VERY hard to answer, the second is not. I am going to ask you to put aside what you know of wet fuel systems and look at electric power with a fresh mind.

Electric motor systems are both simpler and more complex than wet fuel systems. It is just a matter of looking at them in terms that make sense for electric power and not trying to make them fit the wet fuel framework.

What about batteries? How do I choose the right battery?

Battery chargers are a mystery too, yet they are an integral part of electric flight. We will cover those.

What about tools to tell what is going on in your electric power system? Yes, we will cover that also.

I will be adding new chapters and topics and will reorganize the articles as makes sense. For example, I added an article on the ESC and placed it before the articles on the BEC and LVC, where it made the most sense. So visit again and check the table of contests as you might see a new topic that interests you and it might not be the last post.

If you post a question or a comment, you will be "subscribed" and will receive a notification when I post new articles. And don't hesitate to suggest topics that need to be covered.

I invite others who have experience in this area to add their knowledge and become co-authors of this e-book. If you have an area of expertise, share it with us. If you come across a good discussion or a reference source somewhere, post a link to it and tell us why you found it helpful.

Take notes of the date

You will find my articles and posts rich in links to other resources. Be sure to take a look. Note the
date they were posted and whether I have posted a revision or not. Some information changes fast
and some remains valid for years. However when a specific product is mentioned note the last edit
on that article. That product may no longer be available. Don't hesitate to post a question, reference
the article and ask about current models that would replace it.

If you have a question, by all means, ask as others will have the same question.

I hope you find this helpful. I hope you will contribute your knowledge as well.


Post# ..... Topic

1 ............Preface
2 ............Amps vs Volts vs C
3 ............Sizing Power Systems
4.............Props vs. Amps
5 ............What is an Electronic Speed Control
6 ............The LVC, Low Voltage Cut-off
7 ............Who Needs a Wattmeter?
8 ............Why Use a Gearbox?
9 ............Extended Flight Times and Balance
10 ...........Battery Basics
11 ...........Lithium Batteries, Chargers and Balancers
12 ...........Six Keys to Success for New Pilots
13 ...........Things to Check on an RTF
14 ...........Now its Your Turn!
23 ...........The Role of the BEC in your ESC
24 ...........The Mythical Best First Plane
33 ...........What You Need to Know About Receivers
43 ...........What Do kV Ratings Mean?
51 ...........A DOWNLOADABLE EDITED VERSION OF THIS E-BOOK (editing by Ken Meyers)
....................the .pdf was current as of 2009 and does not contain updates or new chapters
71 ...........Estimating Battery Run Time
147 .........How to Select Your First Radio
148 .........What Goes on Which Stick?
150 .........Basic Servo Set-up Process

As the book progresses, I have expanded the range of the discussion beyond strictly electric topics but I have tried to stay within those topics that I feel are relevant to electric flyers. For example, the electric "parkflyer" class of planes has a large number of rudder/elevator/throttle planes. As pilots move from 2 or 3 channels to 4 channel planes sometimes people get confused as to where the rudder should reside on the radio. The article at post 148 addresses this question.

Post 43 addresses a question that comes up over and over related to kV. and 147 talks to the subject of picking your first radio. Note that this is slanted to electric and glider pilots more so than to glow or gas pilots.

Looking back, I would have organized the chapters/articles in a different order, but I am not going to trash the thread to do it, so I hope you will not find it too confusing as it appears here.

This book also appears on RCUniverse though it is no longer receiving updates. For the latest updated chapters, come to Wattflyer.com

Last edited by AEAJR; 11-02-2021 at 07:04 PM. Reason: A few updates and edits
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