Planes I’ve bought and built

All the hints from few colleagues who were already flying RC planes pointed me to EPP planes, which can be crashed and fixed easily. That’s why I got my EPP electric glider Beta 1400.

After few weeks of learning to fly with it and some training on simulator (which helped a lot, as simulated planes don’t need gluing back together after each crash) I’ve found out that the original motor, ESC and battery are too weak for a guy who learned to fly good enough to drain a whole battery and not crash the plane. So the first upgrade was more powerful motor and ESC and larger battery (or few of them) and also a better LiPo battery charger (which showed progress, allowed dis/charging the LiPo to storage voltage). That was a nice upgrade – for few weeks. Then I’ve realized that it would be nice to do some aerobatics and it took only one or two flights with the upgraded EPP glider to find out that it basically can’t do aerobatics – it doesn’t want to roll, it doesn’t have enough thrust for loops, so it was time to get another plane.

I thought that the aerobatics capable planes were more expensive than they need to be (~150 Euro), I saw some DIY plans on the internet and thought I could build one myself and cheaper. So I’ve downloaded plans for Edge 540 plane from styrofoam, I’ve spent around 2 months to finish it (with the little spare time I had), it crashed and broke in half, and repairing seemed like waste of energy – it wasn’t flying as nice as I would expect, plus the whole DIY build was probably more expensive than the ready made planes, so I’ve failed on the construction side and also on the price side of the build. It could be made cheaper if I would buy more components online in one bigger order (e.g. hinges, servo push rods, push rod connectors, …), but buying it in more smaller orders added the cost due to postage fees for each package, plus added delay before I could continue to work on it; and buying components from local shop (there’s only 1 in our town) was much more expensive than buying stuff online.

…but hey, at least I’ve learned something, right?

So then I decided to build a different plane – I was watching many Flite Test videos, so I’ve decided to build a FT Versa Wing plane, which could carry a HD cam onboard for flight recording and offline viewing, and possibly – one day – maybe – be converted to FPV plane. I’ve built it with larger middle part where the HD cam and other gear would be placed, and as you attach battery and other stuff to the plane when it’s on the ground, I’ve decided to put all those things on top of the plane. This turned out as a major flaw – having most of the weight above the wings / Center Of Gravity caused that the plane was flying fine when it was flying perfectly horizontally, but once you tipped it just a bit nose up or nose down, it immediately pitched way too much up or down. This was caused by the weight above the wings / center of gravity to be on the opposite side – it was trying to rotate to be bellow the wings. So once I’ve noticed this (and crashed due to this a couple of times), I’ve remade the mid of the plane to have storage space for all those things (battery, cam, …) bellow the wings, and it flew better.


On this picture above you can see the modified version of FT Versa Wing with the heavy things below the wing. After few times of flying this plane I’ve noticed that this kind of plane was more aerobatic than my electric (trainer) glider, but you basically can’t do real aerobatics with it – compared to all the figures you can do with a aerobatic plane with a tail (with rudder and elevator). So flying with it was same as with the electric glider (didn’t add much to it), so I didn’t keep this plane, even if it was still working. It was disassembled, with electronics kept for later use and the styrofoam thrown away. But hey, at least I’ve learned something, again, right?

So that was the time when I though – okay, maybe I should try some FPV flying, as I’m not getting an expensive aerobatic plane, but I already have some skills on flying and building (ugly) planes. As a FPV platform I wanted to use something stable, so the electric trainer glider was a candidate, but I didn’t want to modify it any further, so I’ve decided to build a very similar glider, with easily attachable FPV components. So I’ve built this unnamed poor bastard:


It flew nicely once, but on the 2nd flight the push rod of the elevator broke off, I couldn’t pull up and I’ve hit a high tree near my airport (Terrain, terrain! Pull up, pull up!). I tried to climb the tree, but with branches too far apart to reach them, I could climb to get the plane as I imagined. A friendly neighbor helped me to get it down (he does rock climbing as a hobby, so he had the skills, muscles and equipment to climb that tree). The plane was partially broken and I’ve decided not to repair it, but again, to plunder the electronics and bin the foam.

This was a moment when I realized that ready made (foam) planes are:

  • about as expensive as those DIY (or cheaper, if you mess up the DIY components buying)
  • more durable – EPP is more flexible than styrofoam
  • easier to repair
  • fly better than the ones I’ve built
  • look much better than the ugly bastards I’ve made
  • take way less time to assemble – assembly time is critical when you’re a snowflake like me who likes to fly only during those few warm months of the year, and thus not waste them on trying to put something together

So that was the time when I decided I’m not going to build more DIY planes anymore. I don’t feel like planes modeler guy, I do not find joy in the assembly of those planes which do not fly well. I enjoy flying planes. So in the end I think of myself more of an (not very good) RC pilot than a RC plane modeler.


I wanted to do some aerobatics with the RC plane then, as it went okay (not great) in the simulator, but I didn’t have any aerobatics capable plane yet, so I’ve bought myself H-King Wargo YAK55 – it’s a EPP aerobatic trainer plane, so it can be glued back together in case of crashes, and the simulator with similar model promised some fun with basic aerobatics (aileron roll, inner loops, inverted flight, flat spin).


Everything was looking fine, but the flight wasn’t half as enjoyable as in simulator. I’m not sure if it’s due to some gluing of the plane (first flight ended up with nose ripped off), or is it due to bat balancing of the plane in one of the two axis, but in the simulator the plane keeps flying more ideally after leveling off the plane or during some aerobatic figures, but the real plane feels like moving slightly here and there instead. So this one didn’t bring the expected level of joy.

The large ailerons and elevator also taught me what is a servo with metal gears good for – after some harder landing (but not a crash!) when those ailerons and elevator were submitted to some sudden downward force, 2 servos had some plastic teeth broken in them. So I’ve bought replacement plastic gears, fixed the servos, had another harder landing and had another servo gear broken…. This was the moment when I bought servos with metal gears instead and they didn’t broke since, even with harder landings.

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