Electric rc airplanes

-- by Andre McFayden

Until recently, most rc airplanes were powered by small two-stroke engines, using liquid fuels. Models powered by electric motors were very uncommon, due to the excessive weight of the power system and battery. However, the electric rc airplane has become commonplace, especially in models meant for beginner pilots.

Electric power advantages include reliability, convenience, low noise, low vibration, and clean operation. The disadvantage of early systems was low power relative to weight. However modern electric airplane motors, combined with advanced batteries, have increased the performance of electric rc airplanes by leaps and bounds.

In the more common Brushed motors, current switching is done using sliding contacts known as brushes. These brushes get hot and wear out over time. In Brushless motors, the switching happens electronically using a special speed controller. This second type of motor and its controller are more expensive to make. Its advantages are no maintenance and higher performance.

There are three main types of battery packs in use for electric airplane motors. These are Nickel Cadmium (NiCad), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Lithium Polymer (LiPo). LiPo batteries are lighter for a given application, but are more expensive than NiCad or NiMH.

Electric rc airplane types include powered sailplanes, indoor flyers, scale models, aerobatic models, and ducted fan (jet-type). Virtually any type of rc model can now be electric powered. Even electric helicopters are now a practical reality. For the beginner, something slow and stable is recommended for a trainer aircraft.

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Copyrightę2005 RC Airplane Advisor

Andre is a regular contributor to the RC Airplane Advisor: http://www.rc-airplane-advisor.com

 

 

 
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