Tips for Building Your Own Model Airplane
Building your own model airplane from scratch is both time consuming and rewarding. I am not going to lie to you; building one from scratch is pretty though endeavor and most people will not be able to complete it. Before you actually start building one, you need to consider a few things.
First and foremost, you need to understand how an airplane flies.
Basically, the principle is very easy to understand yet extremely hard to implement. The upper part of the airplane, the one “facing the sky” must be as smooth as possible, and should not have too many rough edges. Why? Because the air flowing on that surface will generate lift, which keeps the airplane flying. Usually, wings are used to generate more than 90% of the lift. The bigger and smoother the wing, the more likely your airplane is to fly. However, you must also keep in mind that bigger wings make the airplane more susceptible to wind. Therefore, big wings are not necessarily a good thing. You will have to find the perfect balance between wing span and their susceptibility to wind. Using the model of an already existing air plane (fighter jets are best) is probably the best way to get started. Sites like Wikipedia provide the sizes of the real world aircraft and all you have to do is maintain the ratios. Of course, you can create your own model if you wish, but this is something only senior model builders should do.
Once you have a model to follow, you need to decide which materials will be used for the airplane.
Again, there must be a balance between things. If you plan on using wide wings, you can reduce the susceptibility of the plane to winds by increasing the mass. Adding too much mass will make the airplane stay quietly on the ground. You need to decide what kind of engines you will use, and how much weight the engines can lift. In addition to that, the materials need to be resilient enough to withstand crash landings, impacts with birds or other objects in the air. There are resilient materials available on the market, such as carbon fiber, which are both strong and light-weighted.
As a matter of general consent, the airframe of the plane must be made of a light-weight material. This is because engines, their power source and other electronic hardware devices will provide the extra mass to reduce wind susceptibility.
Tips for choosing materials:
• Electrical engines are the best solution, as the batteries do not add up too much weight, and you can use one big batter for both the engines and other hardware components.
• Remember to use batteries capable of generating enough voltage for all the electronic hardware devices.
• The radio emitters and receptors must have at least 25 meters range
• Carbon fiber is best to use for the airframe, however, other materials such as wood can be used as well.
• Turbines provide better lifting force than propellers.
• Do not use bolts; glue is best for assembling the air plane.
• Use as few metallic components as possible. Static electricity can build inside the airframe and damage the components if discharged.
• You will need a building board. A building board is a surface that stays smooth regardless of atmospheric conditions.
• Always buy more materials than you would need for building one airplane. It is likely you will do some mistakes in the first attempts.
• You will need measuring instruments, small screwdrivers, a glue gun and cutters.
• The best way to use microchip devices is to have them already assembled.
• You will need at least 3 engines: 1 for generating thrust, and two “servo-engines” for altitude and direction control.
• You will need a remote controller adequate for controlling the airplane thrust, direction and altitude. Additional controllers such as engine power control and adjustments in direction/altitude sensibility are optional but nice to have.
Once you have all the tools and materials, you can start building the airplane. It is best to have a blue print nearby for reference. It is important to note that symmetry is very crucial when building an airplane; especially when it comes to wings. If the wings are not symmetrical and identical, the airplane will display some strange behavior while flying. Avoid angles smaller than 90 degrees. They reduce lift and overall plane stability. The wings must always be placed near the center of gravity. If the center of gravity is not between the wings, the airplane will likely not take off and if it does, it will be extremely vulnerable to any outside disturbance.