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My First Foray into Electric Power

November 08, 2007



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 Larry Sward
Lexington, KY
Posted:July 29th, 2015
11.54 AM
My experience with Electric planes

Obviously, a lot has changed over the last several years concerning electric technology. I have been flying electric almost exclusively since 2000 after flying gas for more than 40 years. Love it. I have found electric to be less expensive, and more fun. Performance with a good brushless motor and LiPo batteries give spectacular performance if you pick the right motor/battery/ESC combination!

Case in point. I built a Goldberg Mirage electric plane about 1990. Used a brushed motor and nicad batteries as recommended. Totally lackluster performance. Weighed about 4.5#. It flew about 4 minutes straight and level if I was lucky. When I built the model I made provisions to install a gas motor. Put in a OS 25 gas motor. Weighed about 3.5#. it flew well. After a while I got bored with the Mirage so I put it on the shelf. Built some other models.

About 3 years ago I resurrected the Mirage and put in a brushless E-flite power 15 ($65). Installed a Castel Creations Light 50 ($80) ESC. Bought two 2200 mah/35c/4S lipo batteries from Hobbyking (now $25 each). Also bought a Astroflight 109 charger ($100).

The performance is SPECTACULAR!. Can take off in 15 ft, climb verticle, and fly for 15 minutes doing aerobatics or almost 20 minutes if I am just loafing around doing touch-and-goes. A few air holes in the hatch for the battery that was the hatch used for access to the fuel tank. and an air exit hole in the tail. Battery stays cool. Total plane weight is 3.5# (same as with gas) but performance is much better than with OS25. Also, at the end of the flying session, I just take off the wing and go home. No cleanup of the messy oil. My wife likes it because she never liked the smell of the fuel exhaust residue I would get on my cloths.

I have no built about 15 electric models over the last 10 years. Some scale, some spot, some aerobatic, and one electric sailplane.
I started out with the small ones (42" wing spans or less and less than 25oz total weight) using the geared brushed motor gearbox but then switched to the brushless motor/LiPo battery and performance became spectacular. I use the same motor, speed controller, radio, and batteries for the smaller models and I use the E-flite power 15 power system for the larger models (up to 4#/60" wing span). So I have two systems that I can switch into a variety of models that I have built. I am now starting the conversion of several of my gas to electric.

So once I spent about $450 on the electric conversion hardware (for two systems, one for small models, one for larger models), there is no reoccurring cost to buy fuel and go plugs. I find electric much cheaper than gas, and a lot less wear and tear on the airplane due to lack of oil soaking and low vibration. Been getting 2-3 years on the LiPo batteries for my small models and still using the same 2200/35C/4s batteries I bought three years ago for the larger model system.

Best of all, it has open up a lot more places to fly! There is a large church parking lot 3 minutes from my home i now fly at. It is too close to the local houses to fly gas due to the noise.

I also have several of the planes equipped with night lights. I can fly after dark at the church and no one even knows I am there because the electric have such low noise.

Our club flying field we have for gas models is 40 minutes from my house. With the electric I can put in 2-3 flights with my electric plane in the evening and be gone for an hour. With Gas it would be all afternoon to put in the same number of flights due to the round trip drive time to our GAS field. As a result, most of my flying was reserved to the weekend. Now I can fly at a momentís notice when the weather is good.

The new electric hardware is great. Prices are now reasonable. Batteries continue to improve and prices are coming down rapidly. Planes perform spectacular and the new LiPo batteries allow flight times of 15-20 minutes.
What is not to like??

Electric planes "ROCK" . I now fly more (2-3 evenings a week), spend less time away from home, spend less total money on my hobby, and love it a whole lot more.

Love flying electric!
 Larry Sward
Lexington, KY
Posted:July 29th, 2015
9.50 AM
Obviously, a lot has changed over the last several years concerning electric technology. Been flying electric almost exclusively since 2000 after flying gas for more than 40 years. Love it. I have found electic to be less expensive, and more fun. Performance with a good brushless motor and Lipo bateries give spectacular performance if you pick the right motor/battery/ESC combination!

Case in point. I built a Goldberg Mirage electric plane about 1990. Used a brushed motor and nicad batteries as recommended. Totally lackluster performance. Weighed about 4.5#. It flew about 4 minutes straight and level if I was lucky. When I built the model I made provisons to insall a gas motor. Put in a OS 25 gas motor. Weighed about 3.5#. it flew well. After a while I got board with the Mirage so I put it on the shelf. Built some other models.

About 3 years ago I resurrected the Mirage and put in a brushless E-flite power 15 ($65). Installed a Castel Creations Light 50 ($80) ESC. Bought two 2200 mah/35c/4S lipo batteries from Hobbyking (now $25 each). Also bought a Astroflight 109 charger ($100).

The performance is SPECTACULAR!. Can take off in 15 ft, climb verticle, and fly for 15 minutes doing aerobatics or almost 20 minutes if I am just loafing around doing touch-and-goes. A few air holes in the hatch for the battery that was the hatch used for access to the fuel tank. and an air exit hole in the tail. Battery stays cool. Total plane weight is 3.5# (same as with gas) but performance is much better than with OS25. Also, at the end of the flying session, I just take off the wing and go home. No cleanup of the messy oil. My wife likes it because she never liked the smell of the fuel exhaust residue I would get on my cloths.

I have no built about 15 electric models over the last 10 years. Some scale, some spot, some aerobatic, and one elctric sialplane.

I started out with the small ones (42" wing spans or less and less than 25oz total weight) using the geared brushed motor gearbox but then swithced to the brushless motor/lipo battery and performance became spectacular. I use use the same motor, speed controller, radio, and batteries for the smaller models and I use the E-flite power 15 power system for the larger models (up to 4#/60" wing span). So I have two systems that I can switch into a variety of models that I have built. I am now starting the conversion of several of my gas to electic.

So once I spent about $450 on the electic converison hardware (for two systems, one for small models, one for larger models), there is no reoccuring cost to buy fuel and go plugs. I find electric much cheaper than gas, and a lot less wear and tear on the airplane due to lack of oil soaking and low vibration. Been getting 2-3 years on teh lipo batteries for my small models and still using the same 2200/35C/4s batteries I bought three years ago for the larger model system.

Best of all, it has open up a lot more places to fly! There is a large church parking lot 3 minutes from my home i now fly at. It is too close to the local houses to fly gas due to the noise.

I also have several of the planes equiped with night lights. I can fly after dark at the church and no one even knows I am there because the electric have such low noise.

Our club flying field we have for gas models is 40 minutes from my house. With the elctric I can put in 2-3 flights with my electic plane in the evening and be gone for an hour. With Gas it would be all afternoon to put in the same number of flights due to the round trip drive time to our GAS field. As a result, most of my flying was reserved to the weekend. Now I can fly at a moments notice when the weather is good.

The new electric hardware is great. Prices are now reasonable. Batteries continue to improve and prices are coming down rapidly. Planes perform spectacular and the new lipo batteries allow flight times of 15-20 minutes.

What is not to like??

Electric planes "ROCK" . I now fly more (2-3 evenings a week), spend less time away from home, spend less total money on my hobby, and love it a whole lot more.

Love flying electric!
 hankg
Illinois
Posted:December 15th, 2008
12.19 PM
Yor site is great - well layed out and the information is presented beautifully.

I retired 3 years age and started flying electrics because they were simple to build (a 12'x36" sheet of epp foam plus a few pieces of carbon rod for stiffeners). I can put a 1500Kv motor on it with a 450mamp battery for $20.00 esc for $10.00 and a receiver for $25.00. I can fly in a park just down the street with my grand kids and if I crack it up, I can have it up and flying within a day under the worst conditions. If I would crack up one of those gas powered beauties, I would probably go into a state of depression.

Keep up the good work and scatch the cat under it,s chin for me.
 Bob Imp
South Wales UK
Posted:March 6th, 2007
10.04 AM
After many years of IC engined flight, I too was very sceptical about the idea of electric flight. There`s certainly nothing new about the concept, electric powered models were flown sucessfully in the early 60`s! but when I did finally take the plunge it was a revelation to me! No more oil soaked structures or covering,no more oil stains in your vehicle, and no more toxic fuel to handle! All of my current crop of aircraft are electrics, models such as Brooklyn Dodger, Scorpion, Southerner, Wren, and several of the Col. Bowden designs.
I wouldn`t go back to IC if engines were free!!!
 Charles Hall
Raleigh, NC
Posted:August 10th, 2004
3.42 PM
Yes, the electrics are getting interesting. To me, the advantage over glow is pretty subtle. For one thing, I can leave the plane and gear in the car without worrying about a jug of flammable liquid. And I can walk to the flight line with less gear, leaving the chargers back at the car. The 3D flyers at my field have really taken to electric foamies. I'm not sure electric will displace all glow, but a portion, and it will bring in new fliers who would never mess with glow engines.
 MikeWhaley
Florida
Posted:July 29th, 2004
7.46 PM
Enjoyed the article. I, like many folks, started with glow planes. Eventually I moved to gliders and then tried electrics... I have no further desire to mess with glow at all now. (I'm not a glow-basher at all, there's a place for everything!) I don't even do brushless or Lithium batteries yet, and still find that electric is more interesting. I hear that Jason Schulman just won F3A pattern at the Nats with an electric plane... I think that speaks to where the future of the hobby is. The fact that you can go out and buy something like a Slow Stick or Tiger Moth and use pretty much standard equipment and be successful with it is pretty encouraging. We didn't even dream of it being so good back in the 1980's. We can only imaging what wonderous new R/C things will be commonplace in 2014?
 
 

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