I am tired of expensive RC airplanes for beginners, and I want to teach my boys to fly early, so I decided to throw some electronics onto cheap foam gliders from toys-r-us. The results have been a lot of fun and my boys have started to learn the basics of flight very inexpensively.
This is my first successful attempt at using salvaged RC electronics to make a working aircraft. The foam glider cost $11, and the electronics where all salvaged from a 4-Site RC biplane that could not be repaired anymore.
It was a little underpowered, but if you kept it from having a steep angle of attack it flew great! One great feature is that the engine is protected from crashes. I have flown this thing over 30 times, and both my boys have tried and we have all had some big crashes. Because it is so light and underpowered it never even broke the foam body, the wings would just pop off and sometimes the tape or hot glue would let go. The engine only had one impact in all that time, and it was very minor, just had to hot-glue the motor mount a little.
My second attempt was a $15 toy that is 50% larger. I used left over components that have way-way-way too much power, so I adjusted the transmitter throttle travel to only use half of the available throttle range, and it is still way to powerful. At 1/4 throttle it flies perfectly, it was a super easy first flight. The amazing thing is that it flies fantastic at low speeds. It only has a rudder and elevator, but the steep upward angle on the wings keeps the aircraft level even in gusty conditions. I even was able to attach a stuffed toy to the bomb drop servo and take it up nice and high before dropping it, all the while never exceeding 1/4 throttle (1/8 of the maximum available). It was very windy on the maiden flight, and I crashed a couple times bringing it in for a landing due to down-wind turn stalling. The 3rd crash was pretty bad and broke a lot of the plane.
With a quick trip to the hot glue gun and tape dispenser it is ready to fly tomorrow! I reinforced the body with long strips of tape to strengthen it. Hopefully there will be a lot less wind for the next flight.
I think most of the damage is because the 1300mah battery and motor are a bit too heavy for this thing, also the foam quality is not nearly as good as the cheaper (but smaller) glider I used for my first attempt.