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WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

Tis book is a joy to read! Te writing style and wit add


dimension in a way that is rarely found in todays reference
materials. lf someone has considered designing their own
airplane and been put o because of complicated formulas,
vocabulary and reference style that would bore even an
engineer, this will convince them to go ahead and try it.
Wriuen with real people in mind and not engineersand l
mean that in a good way. Tis is a book that will reside along
the other favorites on my bookshelf. Carlos really managed to
produce a book that will last a long time and become one of
the standards for modelers.
Greg Gimli
Electrics columnist
Model Aviation magazine
Tis book is denitely needed by anyone geuing into R/C or is
a veteran ight fanatic! Tons of good info that racs my brain
and gets me thinking.
Jamie Burke
Host
AllThingsThatFly.com
A comprehensive look at what you need to know to design
and build your own RC model aircran. Carlos has distilled
his many years of aerodynamic study and model airplane
experience into one easy to read book.
Ri Witter
Engineer and Private Pilot
RCAdvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy is the
ultimate model airplane design book for both beginning and
experienced modelers. lverything you need to know is right
here with clear, easytounderstand content that you will refer
to again and again. Your understanding of what it takes to
design a model airplane will be greatly enhanced by reading
this book.
Riard Kline
Inventor
KFm airfoils
RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy is a real con
tribution to the worlds literature on the subject. lt provides
an excellent bridge between full scale aviation and aeromodel
ing, showing the relationship between the two, for beuer un
derstanding of the dierences and similarities whid should be
applied for good model performance.
While thorough in detail, the book is also easily readable so
that the information is simple to understand. lt is a very
good combination of theory and practical application. Nicely
illustrated, the book is also full of common sense explanations
and references to other sources of information.
John Worth
former President and Executive Director of the
Academy of Model Aeronautics and currently Executive
Editor of RC Micro World, an online monthly maga
zine about the smallest and lightest of model aircra:
www.cloud9rc.com
lf youve ever thought about designing your own models
lf youve ever thought it would be nice to have alternatives to
expensive model building materials
lf youve ever tried kitbashing
lf youve ever looked for a source that could explain the basic
principles of aerodynamics clearly and concisely without resort
ing to complex mathematical formulas
Ten RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy is the
book for you.
lts a great commonsense guide to the rulesofthumb of
aerodynamics and aircran design.
Roy S. Stone
years of modeling experience
Carlos Reyes personably leads the reader through some basic
aerodynamics, materials considerations, electric power system
planning and a practical application of theory as it is applied
to a nished ying model. Te bacground history of various
types of aircran shows the development of aviation and how
it relates to the models that we build and y today, as well
as how models have inuenced general aviation. lt is always
exciting to nd some new to me concepts and theories, and
there were several in this wellwriuen narrative.
Ken Myers
Editor
Ampeer electric ight newsleer
No mauer how long youve been aeromodelling, or what your
interests are in our great hobby, the greatest thrill of all is stand
ing behind a unique model that youve designed and built your
self, froma blank sheet of paperor even a blank CADleand
preparing to make that rst take o.
So sit yourself down in a comfy dair, read RCadvisors Model
Airplane Design Made Easy and set o on aeromodellings
greatest adventure.
let Carlos Reyesan aeromodeller of long standing and great
talenttake you through the mysteries of how to arrive at the
point that every lover of model aircran should experience.
Dere Woodward
aeromodeller, designer and
magazine writer for the past y years
RC~ivisois
Moiii Aiiii~xi Disicx
M~ii l~sv
The Simple Guide to
Designing R/C Model Aircraft
or
Build Your Own
Radio Control Flying Model Plane
Carlos Reyes
www.RCadvisor.com founder
RCadvisor.com
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Copyright ioo, by Carlos Reyes. All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any elec
tronic or medanical means including information storage and retrieval
systems, without permission in writing from the author. Te only exception
is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Published by
RCadvisor.com
iioo llizabeth St Nl
Albuquerque, NM c,io,
,o,ioo,o,
carlos@rcadvisor.com
lSBN ,,co,ciioi
library of Congress Control Number ioo,,oo,,
Iibrary of Congress subject headings
AirplanesModelsDesign and construction.
AirplanesModelsAerodynamics.
AirplanesModelsRadio control.
Cover design by Tammy Crespin. Book design by Carlos Reyes.
Typeset using the amazing l
A
T
l
X system.
Tis paper meets the requirements of ANSl/NlSO Z,.c,,i
(Permanence of Paper).
Version .o
To Tammy and Autumn,
the ladies in my life.
Summary Table of Contents
Preface :
1 Fluid Dynamics Boot Camp :,
2 Airfoils
3 Propellers o
4 Structures ,
5 Wings 8,
6 Airplanes
7 Power Systems
8 Design Process
A Inexpensive Design Tools o,
B Free On-line Resources ,
C Where to Buy Stuff ,
Glossary ,,
Annotated Bibliography 8
,
o RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy
Index ,,
Colophon :o
Contents
Preface :
1 Fluid Dynamics Boot Camp :,
. lntroduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i,
.i Viscosity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ic
. Viscous and lnviscid llows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ic
. lin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ic
., Drag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i,
.,. Skin lriction Drag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i,
.,.i Separation Drag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
.,. lnduced Drag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
.o laminar llow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
., Separation Bubbles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
.c Chaos Teory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
., Turbulent llow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
.o Dimensionless Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
.o. Reynolds Number . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
.o.i Mad Number . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
. Boundary layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
.i Micro Vortex Generators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
. low Reynolds Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
. Golf Balls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
2 Airfoils
i RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy
i. Key Performance Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
i.. Minimum Drag Coecient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
i..i Maximum lin Coecient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
i.. Maximum lin to Drag Ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
i.i Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,i
i.i. low Reynolds Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
i. Xloil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
i. Summary Table . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
i., Klinelogleman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
i.,. History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
i.,.i Variations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
i.,. Published Researd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
i.,. Teory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oi
i.,., Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
3 Propellers o
. History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o,
.i Bacground . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o,
. Diameter and Pitd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oo
. Problems Analyzing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o,
., Spinners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oc
.o Mad lects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o,
., lciency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
.c Zero Airspeed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
., Advance Ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,i
4 Structures ,
. Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
.. Material Properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
..i Polystyrene loam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
.. Polypropylene loam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
.. Wood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
.., liberglass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
Contents
..o Aramid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
.., Carbon liber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,c
..c Metals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,c
.i Adhesives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . co
.i. Cyanoacrylates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . co
.i.i Polyurethanes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
.i. lpoxies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ci
. Wing Structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ci
.. Bending Moment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
..i Main Spar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
5 Wings 8,
,. Aspect Ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c,
,.. lnverse Zimmerman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . cc
,.i Wing area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,i
,. Taper Ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,i
,. Sweep . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,.. Wing lences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,., Washout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
,.o Wingtips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
,., Multiple Wings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,.,. History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,.,.i Disadvantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o,
,.,. Advantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o,
,.c Tailless . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oc
,.c. History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o,
,.c.i Twist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o,
,.c. Disadvantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
,.c. Advantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,.c., Airfoil Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6 Airplanes
o. Stability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy
o.. Up and Down . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
o..i Turning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
o.. Side to Side . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
o.i Control Surfaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
o.i. Horizontal Stabilizers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . io
o.i.i llaps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . io
o. Trailing ldges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
o. lluuer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
o., Wing incidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii
o.o Scale lects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
o., Visibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . io
o.c lciency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i,
o.c. Minimize Zero lin Drag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i,
o.c.i lower the Span loading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ic
o.c. lncrease the Oswald lciency lactor . . . . . . . . ic
7 Power Systems
,. Gas lngines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,.i Baueries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,.i. Ai Cells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,. llectronic Speed Controllers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,. llectric Motors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,.. Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,..i Motor Constants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,.. Termal Capacity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
,.. Windings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,.., lciency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,., Te Problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,.o Carlos Power Rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,., Tradeos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,.c Brushless Motors and liPo Cells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,., Connectors and Wiring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
,.o Power System Calculators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
Contents ,
8 Design Process
c. Te Dangers of Uncertainty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
c.i A Practical Approad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
c. Dene Goals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
c.. Ungoals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,c
c..i Airplane Size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,c
c.. Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
c.. Construction Diculty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
c.., Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oo
c. llight Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oo
c.. llight Test Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oi
c..i Robustness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oi
c., Design Best Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o,
c.o linal Toughts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oo
A Inexpensive Design Tools o,
B Free On-line Resources ,
C Where to Buy Stuff ,
Glossary ,,
Annotated Bibliography 8
Highly Recommended . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c,
Aircran Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . co
Aerodynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
Aerodynamics History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,i
Propellers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
Sailplanes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
Tailless . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
Scale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
Power Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
o RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy
Index ,,
Colophon :o
About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . io
RCadvisors Calculator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . io
Website . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ioo
Tis Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ioo
List of Figures
o. Model helicopter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i,
. Bristol Boxkite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
.i Transition to turbulent ow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. Micro vortex generator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
i. Sopwith Camel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
i.i lokker DVll . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
i. Airfoil geometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
i. NASA lS()o airfoil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,i
i., Guingen ,, airfoil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
i.o lppler l, airfoil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
i., North American P,D Mustang . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
i.c Klinelogleman paper airplane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
i., Klm airfoils . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oo
i.o Clark Y airfoil with Klm step . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
i. Propeller with Klmi tip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
. Jodel Dauphin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c,
,. lnv Zimmerman wing planform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
,.i Zimmerman dihedral . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,. Supermarine Spitre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,. Raked wing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
,., Crescentshaped moon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
c RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy
,.o llying bird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oo
,., Hrner wing tip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oo
,.c Rutan Varilze . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oi
,., luroghter Typhoon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oi
,.o lokker Triplane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,. Mignet llying llea (PouduCiel) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o,
,.i Rutan Qicie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oo
,. Dunne Tailless Biplane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,. Messersdmiu Me o Komet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,., lMXo, airfoil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,.o MH, airfoil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
o. NACA ooi airfoil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
o.i Piper Super Cub . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i,
o. Model warplane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i,
o. Wiuman Tailwind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,. Twostroke glow engine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
,.i Diesel engine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
,. lourstroke engine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,. Transmiuer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
,., llectric motor windings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,.o Brushed can motor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
c. Handling qualities scale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
c.i launding a new model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
C. Carlos Reyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . io
C.i RCadvisors calculator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . io,
List of Tables
. Air drag on exposed wire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
i. Airfoil properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,c
. Change in wood moisture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
.i Material property ratios . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
. Wing loads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
,. Cl_ loss due to wing sweep . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
o. Scale factors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
,. lngine/Motor tradeos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,.i Bauery types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
,. Bauery tradeos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,. Speed control tradeos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
,., Motor tradeos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
,.o Gearbox tradeos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
,., Propeller diameter tradeos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,.c Propeller pitd tradeos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,., Connectors and wiring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,i
c. Airplane log . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,o
c.i llight log . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,,
c. llight testing declist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
List of Equations
.i Reynolds number . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
. laminar boundary layer thicness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
.o Turbulent boundary layer thicness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
i. Required lin coecient . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,i
. Propeller advance ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,i
. Wing bending moment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
,. Wing aspect ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c,
,., Zimmerman planform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c,
,.c Zimmerman dihedral . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c,
,., Taper eect on stall start . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,.o PankninSdenk tailless twist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
o. MAC size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
o.i Dihedral . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . c
o. Airplane scaling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . io
o. Airplane span loading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ic
,. Motor resistance from voltage and current . . . . . . . . . . . .
,.i Motor resistance from power curve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
,. Motor voltage constant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
,. Motor current for maximum power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
List of Equations i
,., Motor stall current . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,.o Motor power loss due to current . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,., Motor power loss due to voltage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,.c Motor maximum eciency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,., Motor current at maximum eciency . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,.o Motor RPM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
,. Motor eciency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,.i Motor target current . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,
,. Motor symbols summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . o
Preface
lf we are what we eat, then some pilots need to eat more
dicen.
Anonymous
lm a licensed fullsize glider pilot with hundreds of hours of experience.
l enjoyed ying these majestic birds immensely, but l havent done so for
about four years now and l dont regret leaving the sport. How come` lm
having a ton of fun with what lm doing now.
l used to belong to a large soaring club that has been around for over ny
years. One of my fellow club members had actually built his own berglass
glider. As l recall, it had taken him about ve years of fulltime work. Half
way through he developed an epoxy allergy, so his retired wife had to nish
the berglass work for him. Te nished glider looked and ew beautifully,
but puuing it together was an ordeal that he did not wish to repeat.
Designing model airplanes is fun. Tey provide an incredible creative
outlet, unmatded in fullsize aviation. A very dedicated individual could
perhaps design, build and test y one fullsize airplane per decade and it
would cost many thousands of dollars. On the other hand, a model airplane
can be designed and built in one day for very liule money.
l founded RCadvisor' out of my love for aviation in general and model
airplanes in particular. With thousands of registered website members, l see
rst hand the dallenges faced by modelers every day. Puuing together an
ecient power system for a model airplane is not easy. Designing your own
original model airplane is not easy to do well. Today, RCadvisors online
'www.RCadvisor.com
i
i RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy
calculator helps you with the rst task. Tis book helps you with the second
one.
Overview of the book
Tis book consists of a broad overview of a series of topics important to
model airplane design. A lot of theory is covered, but always with an eye
strictly on its practical application.
Appendices contain various resources that lve found useful.
l also enjoy ying model helicopters (see ligure o. on the facing page), but
they, unfortunately, do not lend themselves easily to homegrown designs.
Tey will not be discussed directly, though mud of the book is relevant to
understanding how they y.
Te dapters in the book follow a logical progression. You may have dif
culty understanding the material in a later dapter if you are unfamiliar
with the subjects covered earlier on.
A lot of ground is covered very quicly. Dont let the short length of
some sections tricyou into believing that they are not important and can be
skipped. lverything in the book is here for a reason, and it is onen because
the information is important and it is dicult to nd elsewhere.
At the same time, l gloss over information readers may already be familiar
with or that a quic lnternet seard will yield dozens of explanations. A
favorite resource of mine is Wikipedia, usually providing just the right level
of detail.
Tink of the book as a set of recipes. Regardless of the specic goals for
your design, you will nd mud information that can be leveraged and ap
plied successfully. At the very least, my hope is to get the reader to consider
all of these dimensions of their design.
Te dual goals of targeuing a global audience and staying away from the
cluuer of units of measure proved to be a dallenge. Where no units are
specied, it is imperative to use a consistent set of units. lf you decide to mix
www.wikipedia.org
Preface i,
Figure o.. Model helicopter
Mud of the book applies directly to model helicopters.
together centimeters and indes, you are on your own. Angles are always
in degrees unless specied otherwise.
Dimensionless quantities by denition have no units associated with
them. Sometimes all the units of the values they are derived from do not
entirely cancel out. Tat is ne as long as the units were consistent with
ead other to begin with.
Disclaimers
Tis book is designed to provide information on designing, building and
ying model aircran. lt is sold with the understanding that the publisher
and author are not involved in rendering professional services. lf expert
assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be
sought.
lt is not the purpose of this book to reprint all the information that is
otherwise available, but instead to complement, amplify and supplement
other information sources.
Trademarked names are used throughout this book. We are using the
names only in an editorial fashion. Te usage is to the benet of the trade
mark owners and there is no intention to infringe on their legal rights.
io RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy
lvery eort has been made to make this book as complete and accurate
as possible. However, l am not perfect. Tis book may contain both typo
graphical and content errors.
Te purpose of this book is to educate and entertain. Te author and
RCadvisor.com shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person
or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to have been
caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained in this book.
Acknowledgments
l have not auempted to cite in the text all the authorities and sources con
sulted in the preparation of this book. To do so would require more space
than is available.
When l decided to write this book, l gured l would be the only person
that would read it all before its release. lmagine my delight and dismay
when most of the recipients of early rough drans proceeded to read it cover
to cover! ln no particular order, the reviewers were Rocy Stone, Derec
Woodward, Greg Gimlic, Jamie Burke, John Worth, Ken Myers, Ridard
Kline, Ric Wiuer, ldgar Reyes, and Tammy Crespin. Te book is mud
improved because of their many thoughtful comments. Tank you.
1. Fluid Dynamics Boot Camp
1.1. Introduction
A ight instructor named Al Santilli used to live near me, here in Albu
querque, New Mexico. He died in ioo, at the age of ,. Why am l telling
you about him` He was the i private pilot licensed in the United States.
His ight instructor was Orville Wright, the coinventor of the rst success
ful powered airplane.
Te history of manned ight is barely a hundred years old. Aerodynamics
is a fairly new science. Tere is mud that we understand, but there are also
many mysteries waiting to be solved. l have a shelf full of aerodynamics
books whid lm constantly consulting. Several of these books contain over
,ooo pages. Te purpose of this dapter is not to try and summarize every
thing that lve learned about this important subject. lnstead, l want to give
you a avor of the aerodynamic dallenges faced by ying model airplanes.
Along the way lll share some rules of thumb that lve found useful and you
might want to apply to your own designs.
Te concepts explained in this dapter are critical to understanding how
airfoils, propellers, and wings work. lt is impossible to make rational de
sign decisions without at least a basic understanding of the aerodynamics
involved. Model airplanes face unique aerodynamic dallenges because of
their small sizes and slow speeds, making this basic knowledge doubly im
portant.
i,
Index
Ai cells, ,
adhesives, co
adverse pressure gradient, o, i
Aerospace Web, ,i
AlAA, ,
airfoils, ,, o,
design, ,
dierences, ,o
Klinelogleman, ,o
laminar, ,o
low Reynolds numbers, ,
maximum lin coecient, ,
maximum lin to drag ratio, ,
minimum drag coecient, ,o
moment coecient, ,o
pitding moment, ,o
stall, ,
airplanes, ,
control surfaces, ,
eciency, i,
longitudinal stability, ,
roll stability, c
scale eects, i
stability, ,
yaw stability, ,
Alibre, o,
All Tings Tat lly, ,
AMA lnsider, ,i
Ampeer, ,
aramid, ,,
Audubon, James, oo
Autodesk, ,o
balsa, ,,
bamboo, ,,
baueries, ,, o,
bird, ,,
Blenderm tape, ,
boundary layer, ,
brushed motors, ,
brushless motors, ,
CA, co
canards, o
carbon ber, ,c
cells, ,
center of lateral area, ,
Century of llight, o,
daos theory,
ClA, ,
Collins, Midael, oi
control surfaces, ,
Cransman, ,o
critical Mad number, o,
cyanoacrylates, co
,c RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy
design process, ,
airplane size, ,c
best practices, o,
diculty, ,,
ight testing, oo
goals, ,,
materials, ,,
performance, oo
practical approad, ,
risks, ,
robustness, oi
test plan, oi
uncertainty, ,
ungoals, ,c
design tools, o,
dimensionless numbers, ,
directional stability, ,
dogs, c
Dollar Tree, ,,
Douglasr, ,,
drag, i,
induced, o
separation, o
skin friction, i,
Dunne, John William, o,
Dutd roll, ,
Dyneema, ,,
lBay, c
linstein, Albert, ,
electric motors, o
electronic speed controllers, ,
energy density, ,
epoxies, i, ,, ci
lPP, ,,
lPS, ,
lSCs, ,
luler number, ,
liberglass, ,o
ight testing, oo
uid dynamics, i,
lroude number, ,
gas engines,
Gimlic, Greg, ,
golf balls, i
Google SketdUp, o,
Gorilla glue, c
graphite, ,c
Hrner wing tip, c,, ,c
hand launded gliders, ,
Harbor lreight, ,o
heat, i
HlG, ,
Hobby City, ,c
Hobby King, ,c
Hobby lobby, ,o
Home Depot, ,,
Horten brothers, i
inrunners, o
lnventor lT, ,o
inviscid ows, ic
Kevlar, ,,
Klm, ,o
Kline, Ridard, oi
Klinelogleman, ,o
Krazy glue, co
KRC, cc
laminar ow, i
langley, Samuel Pierpont, o
Index ,,
lateral stability, c
len and right stability, ,
lin, ic
lining stabilizer, o
lilienthal, Ouo, o
liPo cells, ,
lippisd, Alexander, o,
liule, Harold, oi
low Reynolds numbers, o
lowes, ,,
M cells, ,
MAC, o
MAC location, o
Mad number, o
magazines, ,
Magnus eect,
MAN, ,
materials, ,
properties, ,
MAV, ,c
mean aerodynamic dord, o
Messersdmiu, o,
metals, ,c
methanol,
Midaels, ,o
micro air vehicle, ,c
micro vortex generators, ,
Mignet, Henri, o
Model Airplane News, ,
Model Aviation, ,i
ModelCAD, ,o
Molicel, ,
motors, o, o,
multiple wings, o
advantages, o,
disadvantages, o,
history, o
problems, o,
MVGs, ,
Mylar, ,o
NASA, ,i
Newton, lsaac, i,
NiCad, ,, ,
nicel cadmium cells, ,, ,
NiMH, ,
nitro,
Nomex, ,,
Nurugel Page, Te, ,
Oswald eciency, ic
outrunners, o, ,
Panknin, Walter, o,
Peyret, louis, o
pine, ,,
pitd stability, ,
polypropylene foam, ,,
polystyrene foam, ,
polyurethane glues, c
power density, ,
power rule, o
power systems,
Ai cells, ,
doosing, o
problems, o
tradeos, ,
Prandtl, ludwig, ,
propellers, o,, o,
advance ratio, ,i
analyzing, o,
bacground, o,
diameter, oo
eciency, ,o
ioo RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy
history, o,
Mad eects, o,
pitd, oo
spinners, oc
zero airspeed, ,
PUR, c
Qcad, o,
R/C llight Cast, ,
RC Modeler, ,i
RC Soaring Digest, ,
RCadvisor, i, i,, , io
calculator, ,o
RCGroups, ,
RCHangOut, ,
RCSD, ,
RCTalk, ,
RCUniverse, ,, ,
receivers, ,
retailers, ,,
Reynolds number, ,
critical, o, i
Rutan, o
scale eects, i
Sdenk, Helmut, o,
Sears, ,o
separation, i
separation bubbles, i
Shaw, Keith, ,, cc
side to side stability, c
Slolly, ,
sources, ,,
Spectra, ,,
speed controllers, ,
spiral instability, ,
spruce, ,,
structures, ,
Sumo glue, c
sweep, ,
tailless, oc
advantages,
airfoils,
disadvantages, i
history, o,
wing twist, o,
tandem wings, o
advantages, o,
disadvantages, o,
history, o
problems, o,
taper ratio, ,i
thermal capacity, i
Tird law of Motion, i,
Torp, John, ,,
Toyota Prius, ,
trailing edges, i
transmiuers, ,
TurboCAD, ,o
turbulators, ,
turbulent ow,
turning stability, ,
Twaron, ,,
TWlTT, ,
up and down stability, ,
vertical tail moment arm, ,
viscosity, ic
viscous ows, ic
visibility, io
vortex generators, ,
VTMA, ,
Index io
Walmart, ,,
washout, ,,, i,
Waullyer, ,
weight, o,
Wikipedia, ,
Wing is the Ting, Te, ,
wings, c,, o,
aspect ratio, c,, ic, o,
bending moment, c
design lin coecient, ,
aps, io
uuer, i
incidence, ii
inverse Zimmerman, cc
Oswald eciency, ic
span loading, ic
structures, ci
sweep, ,
taper ratio, ,i
tips, ,o
washout, ,,
wing area, ,i
zero lin drag, i,
wingtips, ,o
Wiuman Tailwind, ic
wood, ,,
Wright brothers, i,, ,, o,, o
Xloil, ,
XPS, ,
Zimmerman, cc
Colophon
About the Author
l founded RCadvisor.com in ioo,. Born in Puerto Rico, l grew up in New
York City.
lve had lifelong love aairs with airplanes and computers. As a dild, l
built and ew many rubberpowered model airplanes. l then moved on to
small gas controlline models. ln the mid,os l helped pioneer the electric
revolution by ying a .o size electric model. l hold a Private PilotGlider
license and once owned a fullsize ASW io high performance sailplane. lm
currently very active in my local model airplane clubs, recently accepting
the position of Vice President at one of them.
l bought my rst personal computer in ,c and got my rst paying job as
a computer programmer in ,c. l received a degree in Computer Science
from Columbia University and have extensive experience in the eld.
RCadvisors Calculator
Some of the website visitors are very curious about the story behind the
calculator. Here is a summary of that story.
lve been a computer programmer all my life. l got my rst personal
computer in ,co and got my rst paid job as a computer programmer a
couple of years later while still in high sdool. lve also been a fan of aviation
for as long as l can recall. While growing up, l always dreamed of becoming
an airline pilot. lve been straddling these two elds my entire life.
During the summer of ioo, l was puuing together an electric power sys
tem for a new model airplane l had just purdased. l was very disappointed
io
io RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy
Figure C.. Carlos Reyes
with the power systemcalculators available. lt looked like the time was right
for a shakeup in the model airplane calculator market. lve been working
on it fulltime since then. l dont have mud time to go ying right now!
l wrote the rst version of the calculator using Dojo', a web browser AJAX
toolkit whid uses JavaScript. l liked how it was coming together, but ran
into a problem when it came time to do the darts. You see, there are no
good solutions for doing interactive graphics from JavaScript today. Te
best solution l found was a llash dart control. lt worked ne, but then l
started thinking. Why not do the whole application using llash`
l nally seuled on Adobe llex, a very powerful application framework.
llex is compiled and runs inside llash. lt looks great (see ligure C.i on
the next page)! lm only using the open source core of llex. lronically, l
ended up writing my own darting module. Te calculator was at about
io,ooo lines of source code the last time l deced. llex is a very highlevel
computer programming language, so that actually is a lot of source code.
'www.dojotoolkit.org
www.adobe.com/flex
Colophon io,
Figure C.:. RCadvisors calculator
ioo RCadvisors Model Airplane Design Made Easy
Website
lt sounds funny to me now, but my original plan was to keep the website
around the calculator as minimal as possible. Similar to Googles` landing
page, it was going to consist of not mud more than the calculator. About a
week before the ocial laund on January , iooc, l decided that the calcu
lator merited a fullblown website.
Te web server runs Drupal, a great open source content management
system. lve customized it with about ny addon modules and mud elbow
grease.
This Book
Tis is my rst published book. l decided to do all the work myself. l wrote
it using l
A
T
l
X, an incredibly powerful open source document processing sys
tem with an equally massive learning curve. Te entire book is just one
large plain text le of about o,,oo lines with the contents and all the l
A
T
l
X
commands all mixed in together.
As you can probably guess, lm a big fan of open source sonware. lve
been running linux as the primary operating system on my desktop for
several years now.
Regrets` Never.
`www.google.com
www.drupal.org
www.linux.org
Crafts & Hobbies/Models
You Can Do It!
uild and fly your very own model airplane design. Using clear explanations, you
will learn important design trade-offs and how to choose among them. The latest
research and techniques are discussed using easy to understand language. B
You will discover:
The special challenges faced by the smaller models and how to overcome them.
How to choose the right material for each part of the airplane.
Easy rules for selecting the right power system, gas or electric.
When it makes sense to use one of the innovative KFm airfoils.
Pros and cons of canard and multi-wing configurations.
A step-by-step design process that includes goal setting and flight testing.
In-depth discussions of important topics like airfoils and wing design.
The sources of air drag and how to minimize their impact.
A perfect complement to RCadvisor's online model airplane calculator, this book stands
completely on its own. All of the formulas included can be easily used with a hand-held
calculator.
RCadvisor's easy to use calculator is the leading online tool for model airplane building and
design. Numerous ToolTips, interactive tutorials, and real-time graphs make understanding
easy.
Carlos Reyes founded www.rcadvisor.com in 2007. He's had a
life-long love affair with aviation, building and flying model
airplanes since childhood. He holds a Private Pilot-Glider
license and is the Vice President of his local model airplane
club.
This book is a joy to read! The writing style and wit add dimension in a way that
is rarely found in today's reference materials. If someone has considered designing
their own airplane and been put off because of complicated formulas, vocabulary
and reference style that would bore even an engineer, this will convince them to go
ahead and try it. Written with real people in mind and not engineersand I mean
that in a good way. This is a book that will reside along the other favorites on my
bookshelf. Carlos really managed to produce a book that will last a long time and
become one of the standards for modelers.
Greg Gimlick, Electrics columnist, Model Aviation magazine