Electric Tips




A recent RCM&E poll showed that in the UK electric powered planes are now more popular than I.C. ones.  I have been flying solely electric for almost three years now and, although no expert, I have picked up some useful tips that I have listed below.  Hopefully these can save you some time and maybe even a plane or two



Power train

Before fixing the power train into an ARTF, lay all the components on your workbench and test them there.  With the motor (without prop), ESC, receiver and lipo not secured in your plane, it is much easier to find what is wrong with the power train if it is not working.


Motor direction

With the power train working, now is an excellent time to ensure that the motor is rotating the correct way.  I mark both sides of the connectors between the motor and the ESC with coloured insulating tape.  This ensures you get the same wire to wire when reconnecting the components after fitting them to the plane.


Throttle trim

One reason why the power train didn’t work took me a long while to figure out.  ESCs usually won’t arm unless the throttle stick is at its lowest position.  I have now discovered that some speed controllers won’t even arm unless the throttle trim is also brought right down.


Air exit

Ensuring good air intake to assist the cooling of the ESC, motor and battery may necessitate opening areas in both the firewall and the cowl.  It is recommended that an area twice the size of the intake should be made to allow the air to exit.  This is usually built into foamies but requires cutting away some covering in a balsa model.  I like to do this at the rear of the fuselage on the underside.  If there is a central longeron, cut out the small “triangles” either side of it.  One larger area can be cut if there is no central longeron.


Satellite receiver positioning

If your receiver has a satellite, you have now created an excellent position for it, well away from any electrical gear such as servos.  I buy my long connecting leads from HobbyKing.  Look under Radios and Receivers and then JR.  Below is the link.




Balance plug savers

The balance leads on your batteries get much use.  Firstly there is checking the battery status before flying and then again post flight.  Also when the battery is put onto the charger for bringing the battery to storage capacity and then of course balance charging before flying. In the past I have pulled wires out of the plugs.  I now use Balance Plug Savers, available from my favourite online warehouse.  These come in different sizes for batteries from three cell to six cell and work out at approximately seven pence each.  Look under Chargers and Accessories and then Balance Leads.  Below is a link to the three cell Savers.





Lipo batteries are most unstable while either being charged or discharged.  Whilst we all take all the recommended safety precautions during charging, most people ignore the possibility of a lipo exploding during transport.  To ensure safety whilst transporting batteries, many Leckies use ex army ammunition boxes that are readily available on the net.  I bought mine from Charlie Keenan’s shop in Toomebridge.  Don’t forget to line the boxes so that if there is a faulty battery connection, it won’t touch the metal interior of the ammo box.  I used sticky backed felt, although I have seen cardboard being used.


Battery status identification

Have a system for identifying the three different stages of a battery’s capacity.  I use an elastic band wrapped around the battery to show that it is fully charged.  If the elastic band is along the battery the battery has a storage charge and if there is no elastic band at all, the battery has been used.



Throttle curve

This is a tip that Matthew Poots wrote in an article published in a national magazine.  If your transmitter has two adjustable throttle curves, change one of the linear lines so that instead of it going up at the forty-five degree angle, it lies along the bottom of the graph.  By doing this, a flip of you throttle switch will kill all power to the motor. This is an excellent safety precaution.



RC Electric Power

Unfortunately there appears to be little information for electric fliers in book form.  Whilst there is much available on the net I am a traditionalist and like curling up in bed with a good book.  AirAGE Media publish excellent RC magazines in the States.  It has also published a book called RC Electric Power that consists of articles previously written for its magazines.  Unfortunately it is only available in book form from the USA but it can also be purchased as an e-book.  I thoroughly recommend this publication.



I hope that maybe some of the above tips can be of help to either budding electric fliers or even those who have already ventured along this route.


Mike 'Sparky' Braithwaite

January 2015

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