Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mikey's RC

Over the past decade, the remote controlled hobby industry has seen incredible advances in electronics. Not only are motors and batteries becoming more powerful and efficient, with the proliferation of brushless DC motors and lithium polymer batteries, but everything from radio systems to servo motors are becoming increasingly affordable.

While RC electronics have improved, so has the availability of quality information for scratch building RC airplanes. Thanks to some very generous people posting on websites, blogs, and YouTube, anyone can scratch build their first RC airplane.

Will at has an entire site dedicated to the construction of RC airplanes out of affordable and easy to work with, foam board. He makes free PDF plans available so that anyone can print out the templates, tape them together, and cut the parts out of foam board. He also has a YouTube channel that has both step-by-step build instructions and flight videos. There is a link on his site to purchase all the electronics needed for his planes at decent prices.

I built the MikeysRC sport trainer to re-familiarize myself with flying--it had been a while. It was incredibly easy to build and was a very forgiving flyer. Check out my first couple flights here:
Sport Trainer Maiden Flights
Once I became more confident in my skills, loops, rolls, and controlled stalls were no problem with this plane. The best part about these planes is that they can take a beating and are easily repaired at next to no cost.

Check out and start your own plane. Beware, though, it is addicting.

The Basics: Voltage and Current

For those people not familiar with electronics and electricity, the concept of voltage and current can be a very difficult thing to comprehend.

Fact 1: Voltage and Current are not the same thing!

I have heard people use the two terms interchangeably and when confronted with his/her error the response is simply "Ah, same thing." Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Analogy is one of the easiest forms of explaining difficult concepts, so I will try that here. Electricity is like water. Think of a waterfall. there is a certain amount of height to the waterfall and the higher it is, the more violently the water hits the pool at the bottom. Also, there is a flow rate associated with the waterfall. A small waterfall may flow at only 10 gallons per minute and a large one at 10million gallons per minute. The larger the flow also contributes to a more violent or powerful impact at the bottom.

Now here is the key: Voltage is like waterfall height and Current is like waterfall flow rate.

They are most certainly not the same thing, but are part of the same idea. The combination of Voltage and Current indicate the Power of an electrical component in the same way that height of a waterfall and its flow rate determine the power or intensity of water impact.

FYI: Voltage is often represented by the letter "V" and current is represented by the letter "I" in equations.