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Help Me Build My First RC Balsa Plane!

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  • Help Me Build My First RC Balsa Plane!

    I am building my first RC circuit for a small 3 channel balsa Cessna that I made. I have flown RC planes and helicopters before (although it was quite a while ago), but this is my first build. During quarantine, I decided I wanted to build a balsa plane but I was never planning on flying it. I originally planned on putting an Arduino in it so I could program it to function (turn on the motor, move the rudder and elevator, etc.), but never had the intention of getting it into the air. I had a great time building it and have decided I want to fly it, but I have no setup, nor much of an idea of how to setup the RC circuit.

    Here is a link to the plane I bought (and made). I fitted it with this motor, and these servos (just to control the rudder and elevator). I imagine there are different components you all would recommend, but like I mentioned, I never had the intention of never flying it, so I just went with what was cheapest.

    So my question is, what else do I need to buy to get this thing to fly? It is a very small plane, so I imagine the lightest build possible is essential. On the website I bought the balsa from, they recommend buying this, which supposedly will act as the receiver, controlling the motor (I believe without an ESC, but correct me if I am wrong) and servos. I think I may be limited by the 1.0mm plug of the servos and will need to buy this receiver and won't have much luck connecting it to any other receiver. Can I connect this to any transmitter, and if so, does anyone know where I can find the cheapest possible transmitter that will work? Also, what kind of battery do I need? I'm definitely on a limited budget and was never planning on doing anything more than having the propeller spin and the servos move, but if I can give flying it a shot without breaking the bank, I feel like it would be a lot of fun!

  • #2
    It appears that you have purchased most everything that is recommended to almost get this thing in the air. The receiver has a built in ESC.
    The only things you need to fly this is a battery or 2 and a transmitter. The description says that the receiver/controller/ESC is a Spektrum compatible type. The cheapest Spektrum transmitter (TX) can be found on the Horizon Hobby site and most local hobby shops sell them. The cheapest being the DXe for $70.00. Being the cheapest, it won't be very versatile if you should decide to go further in this hobby. You could also check out any local flying clubs in case someone has a used one for sale.
    As for batteries, it says the recommended one is a 1S 3.7V 150mAH 1.25 JST. Most local hobby shops will carry these, they cost about 5 bucks. It'll probably fly this plane for about 3 to 5 minutes each so get a few. Also get the little USB charger stick.
    Have fun.


    • #3
      Thanks for the help!

      Do you think it is possible to get a different transmitter/receiver and use the other receiver instead? I was thinking about getting this one, because it is available for a great price and I am thinking I could eventually use it for another build if I decided to make another plane. I have a few concerns that come to mind though... One is size. The plane I made is quite small, so I am concerned the receiver/battery/esc will weight too much and the plane will never make it into the air. The second is the size of the ports, and whether or not I will be able to fit the servos and motor I already have installed in the plane into the receiver. If those things check out, can anyone recommend an esc and battery (and for that matter, another transmitter and receiver if I picked a bad one) that would work for my build?


      • #4
        That would complicate matters somewhat. That RX won't hook up to the servos or motor that you got. You would have to get different servos AND a different, separate ESC and a different motor. The components you bought already were made for each other and are matched to each other. That TX/RX combo (Turnigy) is an entirely different protocol (FHSS).


        • #5
          Okay, I see how it gets complicated quite easily. I like the idea of getting a transmitter that would give me the flexibility of being able to build another plane in the future... But I obviously want to try out the setup that I already have too! When it comes to actually looking for a transmitter, what do I need to look for? I looked up the one you recommended and the only ones I can find are no longer being made. What other options do I have? And what sort of cost am I looking at to reasonably get a transmitter that can work with the setup I have and potentially another plane in the future.


          • #6
            If you want to stay with DSM2/DSMX protocol, you're limited to Spektrum and a couple of other brands that can have modules added onto them to make them Spektrum compatible, like the Taranis brand.
            Since the DXe is backordered to the end of summer, your next jump up the ladder is the $170.00 DX6e, which be arriving mid-July. Other than these, you're looking at some big bucks. Like I said before, you may be able to find a used TX on Kijiji or the like.
            In the world of transmitters where typical prices are in the hundreds of dollars and well over $1000.00, this one would be considered "cheap", but again, they are out of stock.
            You would do well to go to your nearest hobby shop and talk to them to see what they have in stock. Most shops also do consignments of customer equipment and they may very well have a cheap used TX that will suit your needs.