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The Dawn Of Electric-Powered R/C?

Old 04-20-2008, 07:25 AM
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Sky Sharkster
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Default The Dawn Of Electric-Powered R/C?

Many flyers have predicted that this era will come to be known as the "Golden Age" of electric-powered R/C. From the humble beginnings of heavy brushed motors using direct drive, then gear reduction units. Powered by heavy NiCads, next (somewhat) lighter NiMh packs, using a servo-actuated on/off switch. Chargers with a dial for "timing" the charge, no peak detection.
Now we have LiPos, do-everything chargers, ESCs that provide (in addition to throttle) BEC, LVC, thermal overload protection and more. Brushless inrunners, outrunners, special "Electric" props.
All this, and we're only celebrating our 50th year of electric powered R/C.
FIFTY years?! Yep. Here's an article from Model Airplane News, December, 1959. It's titled "ELECTRIC POWER!" written by Doris and Ed Yulke, and in addition to providing info about the latest small electric motors from Germany and Japan, has a photo of an electric R/C model from Taplin. The model had a 90" span and weighed 8 lbs.
Maybe there IS nothing new under the sun!
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Old 04-20-2008, 07:49 AM
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gzsfrk
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There's certainly been some incredible technological breakthroughs in recent years in R/C flight, but I think almost equally important has been the economic breakthroughs. When you can purchase an everything-you-need-to-fly 3-channel RTF kit for $65 shipped (or even a decent 2-channel vector thrust model RTF for $30 at Harbor Freight or Wal-Mart), then you open up a whole new demographic to the hobby.

I remember growing up that I always thought about how cool it would be if I could afford a radio control plane of ANY kind. But money was always tight, so I ended up settling for the little hand-tossed foam profile planes or the wooden rubber band flyers. But now, when adjusted for inflation, an entire RTF kit costs what one videogame used to cost when I was growing up.

Of course, I gets that's somewhat offset by the fact that I had to pay $3.35/gallon for 15 gallons of gas today.
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Old 04-21-2008, 06:29 PM
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Default More E-R/C History?

Hello Gzsfrk,
I agree the newer low-cost ARFs and RTFs open up a new group of buyers, and it also greatly enlarges our choice of where to fly. I remember as a kid, seeing guys flying Control line models in a local park, and they were happy to give me advice and answers. They even took me to the local Hobby shop in their car, it was too far to ride my bike. You can guess where my allowance went from then on! Balsa, glue and razor blades.
Anyway, here's another bit of history from the "Electric R/C" saga-
A feature article from July 1973 American Aircraft Modeler by Bob Meuser with photos and specs for the electric motors and planes available at the time; All photos and drawings by Bob Meuser.
Ron
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Old 04-22-2008, 05:12 AM
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I think we are part of more than just a change to this hobby. I think RC suppliers and hobbyists are reflecting what people are doing in general in the rest of the world. We are learning to use energy more efficiently, to cause less pollution, and to take greater advantage of electronics to make life easier. It seems natural that hobbyists would want to take advantage of these advances, and they create demand which is met by suppliers very nicely. Personally, I get a little bit of a 'green' feeling when I mention to people that I only fly electrics. I also enjoy the general cleanliness and low sound levels of electric aircraft - again, just taking advantage of technology to make my life easier and causing less pollution in my home, car, etc...
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:38 PM
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SARG 5 HERE
I AM TRYING TO LEARY MORE ABOUT E-FLIGHT. I have been flying nitro a little for the past 35 years. Not been active for the past 25 years. I have 4 nitro. All trainers, I still am trying to learn more. Sure wish that I had found this site 6 mo. ago before I rebuilt my old nitro stuff and started trying to get back into the fun. I have built a local flying field at my farm out north of Russell, Ks. I still think that E-flight is the way to go.
I will continue to read, read and read some more about E-flight. Hope for the best.
Stielow from Kansas
SEEING THE COUNTRY WE DEFEND
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Old 06-05-2009, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by jasmine2501 View Post
Personally, I get a little bit of a 'green' feeling when I mention to people that I only fly electrics.
Unfortunately, unless you are charging your batteries from something other than house current, like a solar panel or hydrodynamic or wind generators, you actually use more energy and cause more pollution with an electric motor than with an IC engine.

It takes more than three gallons of fuel at the power plant for you go get one gallon of equivalent power into your plane's electric motor because of energy lost during the generation of the power, transmission and conversion losses on the way to your house, inefficiency in the battery charging process and of course inefficiency within the planes batteries themselves, which yield less power than is put into them.

The picture is much better when you charge from your car battery, so long as the automobile is charging it. If you were to have solar panels or your own hydroelectric dam the inefficiency wouldn't matter because the ultimate source of your power is free and for our purposes unlimited. THEN we can feel "green" about our electric planes.

Until then we're making false claims, since we have merely transferred the pollution to another location and multiplied it.

We could talk about catalytic converters on power plants and no pollution controls of any kind on models, but the feds may be watching and..... Let's not talk about that!


Hey Sarge! No effort is wasted. Conversion to electric is possible with most models. You had to get back into RC somehow, and you chose the means you were familiar with. Now learn the better way!
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Old 06-05-2009, 03:30 PM
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Unhappy Strictly Electric

I partially agree that it may not be truly green to use electricity to charge batteries, but I am strictly an ELECTRIC RC Flyer. I have three planes, all electric (LiPo battery) powered. I see first hand what gas / glow flyers do to the asphalt pit area by spilling raw gas and softening up the asphalt and "sliming up" the wooden airplane stand / tables with oily exhaust. Then to see the glow Heli's running rich as all heck and smoking the atmosphere as if they were spraying for mosquitos compared to the "clean burning", non poluting electric powered Heli's. One must think of this also when calling electric "green", which I truly think it is !!

(By the way, we own and drive an '07 Prius...... talk about "green" !!)
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Old 06-05-2009, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by floridawen View Post
...I am strictly an ELECTRIC RC Flyer. I have three planes, all electric (LiPo battery) powered.
As am I. I do have some IC powered planes but don't fly them. Maybe I'll convert some to electric. I don't fly electric for ecological reasons, I fly electric because in a hundred ways IT"S JUST PLANE (yuk! couldn't resist) BETTER! Now I can see a day when flying fields or even individuals will have large solar panels to charge their flight batteries, either directly or indirectly through an intermediary battery. Maybe some will use wind power. That will be a bonus, but I'm flying electric because it makes sense, is more fun and less hassle.

Originally Posted by floridawen View Post
I see first hand what gas / glow flyers do to the asphalt pit area by spilling raw gas and softening up the asphalt and "sliming up" the wooden airplane stand / tables with oily exhaust. Then to see the glow Heli's running rich as all heck and smoking the atmosphere as if they were spraying for mosquitos compared to the "clean burning", non poluting electric powered Heli's.
That slimey glop is castor oil most of the time, a product of biomass that is even ingestable....allegedly. You have to grant that it is "green" slime all over those airplane stands, tables, hands, transferred to car steering wheels, car seats, etc. Hope they feel all green, warm and fuzzy about it.
Originally Posted by floridawen View Post
(By the way, we own and drive an '07 Prius...... talk about "green" !!)
Now THAT's green because you make the power close to your batteries so you toss out much of the power loss inherent in the home power grid. And you can directly measure the gain in energy efficiency by comparing gasoline mileage with another automobile of similar weight and performance. You're approximately twice as efficient as a strictly IC engine.
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Old 06-05-2009, 05:51 PM
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If it where not for electric power I would not be in the hobby. After 19 years of commercial flying I was grounded for medical reasons. I had always wanted to get into rc planes so now seemed like a good time. I fly at my house because I just don't have the time (i have a real job now) to join a club and drive miles to a flying field. I live out of town but do have neighbors about 1000' on all sides. The electrics are great, I can fly around and not bother anyone with the noise!
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Old 06-06-2009, 08:56 PM
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Hey, what about the FACT that by merely moving that throttle forward you WILL have engine power. We have the ability to totally shut down engines on our sailplanes and restart them in flight. How many IC engines have self-starters on them?

Who would have thought that I could walk my Vapor like a dog around the block, with people five feet under it completely unaware of its presence because it is so nearly silent. Who would have though of a less than 3 gram battery that supplies flying power for over 20 minutes to a grossly overpowered aircraft? Who would have thought about the ability to fly without all that smell getting back in your car?

There a hundred reasons electric is the best way to fly!

Here's what happened when IC flyers were told to race for free fuel! Sorry, couldn't resist:

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Old 06-06-2009, 10:00 PM
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Laggard
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Electric is cool. Combustion engines are horse and buggy. Inefficient, stinky and crude.
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Old 06-07-2009, 12:16 AM
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Rockin Robbins
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Originally Posted by Laggard View Post
Electric is cool. Combustion engines are horse and buggy. Inefficient, stinky and crude.
Well, that is taking to too far. It is not crude if you've seen any of the high tech radial engines or the Pico racing engines. Can an electric pylon racer keep up with a glow powered one yet with comparable airframes? I bet they're close but I wouldn't bet against the stinky one.

No I'd say they can be efficient, elegant, modern but still stinky. And you forgot noisy and more difficult to operate.

Part of the reason electric is cool is that it is rapidly progressing, where IC has stagnated for 20 years at least.

When it comes right down to it, I love just opening the back door to my house chucking the plane into the air and flying. That was never possible before electric in my neighborhood. The general public is actually benevolently curious instead of hostile too!
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Old 06-07-2009, 02:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Rockin Robbins View Post
Unfortunately, unless you are charging your batteries from something other than house current, like a solar panel or hydrodynamic or wind generators, you actually use more energy and cause more pollution with an electric motor than with an IC engine.
....
The great green myth has been going around for decades. My favorite is the new electric and hydrogen cars that cause more pollution to create their "clean" power than for all the muscle cars of the 60's and 70's! It is all marketing and BS to sell these over-priced vehicles. It is the modern perpetual motion machine scam.
I like the electrics because they are quiet, easy to maintain and far less messy on my end of the energy chain. Our coal burning electric plants are causing more pollution making hydrogen for car fuel cells than our flying will ever do, so I have no guilt what-so-ever.

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Old 06-07-2009, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Sky Sharkster View Post
Many flyers have predicted that this era will come to be known as the "Golden Age" of electric-powered R/C
Maybe there IS nothing new under the sun!
I agree! And I'm enjoying the show!
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Old 06-07-2009, 03:36 AM
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iflyrc1012
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i fly nitro, gas and electric. each has its own advantages, but i've never had a gas or nitro plane come alive on the bench(due to an elbow nudging the throttle stick while adjusting servo throw) and try to slice me to ribbons!!
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Old 06-07-2009, 04:03 AM
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Originally Posted by iflyrc1012 View Post
i fly nitro, gas and electric. each has its own advantages, but i've never had a gas or nitro plane come alive on the bench(due to an elbow nudging the throttle stick while adjusting servo throw) and try to slice me to ribbons!!
Ouch!!! Hopefully that was a lesson that didn't need repeating.
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Old 06-07-2009, 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by iflyrc1012 View Post
i fly nitro, gas and electric. each has its own advantages, but i've never had a gas or nitro plane come alive on the bench(due to an elbow nudging the throttle stick while adjusting servo throw) and try to slice me to ribbons!!
Maybe there aint nothing new under the sun!?
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Old 06-07-2009, 04:16 AM
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well i know now that when working on electrics at the bench, the props come off!! lol!!
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Old 06-07-2009, 04:28 AM
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I remember reading RC model magazines back in the early 70's but actually owning an RC plane was just a dream.

20 years later in the early 90's I bought a 2M ARF from Electrasoar with 550 can motor, 7 cell 1500 MAH NICAD battery and 4 channel Hitec Focus 4 radio. Unfortunately this was a marginal combination in terms of power/weight and coupled with my lack of experience and wind was a disaster.

15 years later, I got back in the hobby after I bought a 2 channel thrust vector plane and spent more time flying than fixing. Then I bought a 3 channel HobbyZone Aerobird Challenger and now have a prettly large hangar of planes and helicopters.

Lipo batteries, brushless motors, computer radios, low cost miniature receivers and servos, RTF planes under $200.

We have come a long way in the last 35 years.



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Old 06-07-2009, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by iflyrc1012 View Post
well i know now that when working on electrics at the bench, the props come off!! lol!!
HeHe, I flew of the bench (kitchen table) and the prop came off in the chair chunks.
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Old 06-07-2009, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Laggard View Post
Electric is cool. Combustion engines are horse and buggy. Inefficient, stinky and crude.
I love electrics too, but the smell & sound of glow will always be special as well, even if only for nostalgia. There's a talent being demonstrated in just knowing how to prime, start, & tune a combustion engine. I will admit that due to my flying electric more & my glow engines sometimes going for extended times without starting it seems to make them even more difficult to keep running smoothly. Maybe it's partially because the more I fly electrics the less I'm honing those glow skills.

Also, it's a good feeling to be able to land, refuel, & be back in the air in about a minute or so (repeatedly) if you want, without having to have multiple battery packs. I know most don't do this anyway, but when flying alone especially, it just feels good.

As has been stated so many times before, there's plenty of room for both power systems!
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Old 06-07-2009, 03:19 PM
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With the exception of the tree huggers, who as outlined above, are actually discrediting the cause they claim to be dedicated to, we're just rooting for the team. There's no real rancor there, just good-natured competition.

We're lucky to be in a fast-advancing area of a hobby that tends to be very conservative. Electric flyers tend to be younger (I don't really fit in there), more adventurous, less hide-bound by rules, less likely to be members of AMA (hence some of the IC hostility), more likely to be more oriented toward flying than building.... you get the picture.

Because of all that we view ourselves as the future of the RC hobby. They view us as the destruction of the hobby.

I've seen much more hostility from the fossils than from the electric side of the tapestry.

Personally, who cares? I freely acknowledge the scratch building heritage of the fossil fuel guys as I acknowledge that my electrics burn more fossil fuels in a flight than they do! I look forward to pulling out my collection of early 1980's Model Builder magazines and building those free flight scratch build plans as RC planes, something never dreamed of by the originators. Model Builder is my favorite hobby magazine of all time, the last that wasn't strictly about selling products. But in spirit, I'm an electric flyer. My collection of fossil fuel motors is for display only. I can't see ever flying them again.
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Old 06-07-2009, 03:55 PM
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Many electric flier build their aircraft from "stick and tissue" and many nitros are RTF/ARF so that doesn't seem to separate nitro from electric.

This whole thing reminds me of the Align vs every other heli silliness. After all it is the same old "my toy is better than yours" from when we were children. I don't really mind because the whole point for me is to feel young again. Is it any surprise when we do and say childish things?
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Old 06-07-2009, 04:48 PM
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Biggest benefit of electric to me is the early Sunday AM flight when I am not bothering anyone in the world. IC is fine at an RC field but draws ire (and unwanted official attention) in most neighborhoods. (Unnortunately, I have met a few IC folks that just don't care if they are bothering people with the smoke and noise.)

And lest we forget, the name of this site is WattFlyer and this thread is Electric Airplanes > General Electric Discussions > The Dawn Of Electric-Powered R/C?



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Old 06-07-2009, 05:00 PM
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Hello Rockin Robbins,
Ah, yes, Bill Northrop's GREAT magazine. I remember when he left M.A.N. to start his own magazine. I have several issues but not a complete collection.
Full-size Peanut Scale plans, "Airfoil of the month" (mainly Free Flight), Pylon News, Plug Sparks (Old timer) Column, Scale 3-Views after the other mags had ceased publishing them, Control Line and Free Flight columns, Hannans' Hanger, Chopper Chatter, R/C Soaring, and genuine construction articles for all types of models. And, Boy, does Bill love Bipes!
He occasionally had Sailboat and powered boat construction articles ("Strictly Sail") and other unusual projects, many of which he tested himself.
I'm proud to say I had a small part in the beginning of the magazine. Along with Tom Hutchinson and Jean Andrews, we co-wrote the Free Flight column (1972-73) until Bob Stalick took over permanently. Tom and Jean did the "West Coast" column which alternated with my "East Coast" version.
Anyway, here's a few photos, including Astro Flight's + V-L Products ads from 1975-76.
Ron
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