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Foam Glider conversion Tutorial

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Old 06-18-2013, 02:43 PM
  #1  
teknicali
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Default Foam Glider conversion Tutorial



Hello everyone,
I have been scouring the web looking for a step by step tutorial on how to convert a foam glider into an Rc. I am a complete beginner, but my son and I really enjoy watching them fly when we can. It’s really windy where I live and people do not get to fly them often. I bought a harbor freight p51 mustang and it lasted a whole of 2 min before I crashed and broke it. I salvaged the parts from it, and wanted to transplant them into a glider, but my problem is I cannot find a tutorial on how to do this. I find plenty of people showing off their conversions but no real step by step. Also it seems like the front propeller is not a popular type of plane. I know the very basics of flight controls, and am pretty mechanically inclined. Is there anyone that can help me by either teaching me how to do this step by step or point me, and everyone else that might bein the same predicament as me in the future,in the right direction please. I need to learn everything to finding the balance points to how to properly install the components so that it doesn’t get too nose or tail heavy. I want to be able to build a simple glider plane from the ones at the dollar store or the air hogs glider (preferably the dollar store one because i know i am going to be breaking alot of them). It does not have to go very fast or even that high I just want to “learn by doing” and want to be able to spend some quality time with my son building them. Again please remember I am a complete beginner so use laments terms please. I have knowledge of the components, because I have been repairing operating and repairing scales rc truggies for a couple of years now. So I know what transmitters, receivers, batteries, and servos are but besides that I am a total noob to any rc that flies.

sorry this is so long I would just rather give as much information asI can.

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Old 06-18-2013, 03:32 PM
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Default RE: Foam Glider conversion Tutorial

I recently converted a foam glider to non powered RC so the comments might help a bit. I chose the Ultra Flyer available at Hobby Lobby. It is made of large beaded foam and is not very strong so needs strengthening to withstand the rigors of being towed or piggy back launched aloft. I accomplished this by adding 2" wide strapping tape (the kind with imbedded strings) spars on the top and bottom of the wings. Other good choices would be to glue carbon fiber strips onto the wings for spars.

Very important is that the spars need to join in the middle and that was accomplished by folding them over the root of the wing where they would be glued back to back when the wings were glued into the fuselage. Popsicle sticks were imbedded into the wing halves for joiner spars.

The tail boom section also received the tape on both sides.

One inch wide strip ailerons were added using aluminum tape to hinge and fasten the ailerons to the wings. The same method can be used for the elevator, but first the horizontal stab will need to be straightened along the aft surface to allow a single elevator.

Elevator servo was placed in the top of the boom and ailerons servos in wing though one servo also in the top fuselage can be made to work.

The balance point with the added strip ailerons is 2.75 - 2.875 inches aft of wing leading edge at the root.

The glider flies well and will stay aloft without problem when finding thermal lift. We've been piggy back launching these gliders with an Ultra Stick 120 carrying them to about 700 ft for release. While I haven't been doing this long, it seems that thermals at our field are generally above 500'.

Weight is 9 oz for a wing loading of around 4 oz/sq ft, which I understand is a reasonable number. I'm not sure powering that glider would have the weight stay within reason.

Note: We've also been folding the wings during launching on those that didn't get adequate wing joiners.

Good luck with your project.
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Old 06-20-2013, 05:28 AM
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Default RE: Foam Glider conversion Tutorial

With the most goodwill I can muster, I am going to say that you're going about this with all the wrong mindset. Converting one of those foam toy gliders to RC is a novelty project that one does for the fun of doing it, not for the end result of getting a good flying airplane. As a beginner, you need a plane that flies well and is forgiving of pilot errors, not a homespun science experiment that even an expert pilot may have trouble keeping in the air. You've already seen what cheap and inappropriate planes are good for with that Harbor Freight ripoff, so how about going a different route this time?
What many beginners don't understand is that there are two parts to the hobby- the skill of putting together a good airplane and the skill of flying. In the old days modelers developed their building skills with free flight or control line planes before getting into RC, but hardly anyone is interested in that anymore. Free flight wouldn't be a bad place to start with your youngster though if you two really want to get your hands busy and learn about airplane design. The route that most of us go now though is to trust the experts on airplanes and get straight into building our piloting skills using a proven performer that is factory built. I'll make two recommendations for you on that- the Parkzone Radian and the Hobby Zone Super Cub. The Radian is a powered glider that is pretty slippery in the wind. Don't expect to go out and fly circuits in 20 mph winds with no instruction with it, but it is a consistent responding airframe that is appropriately powered and fairly forgiving of stalls and such. With some instruction and wisdom on choosing fairly calm flying days until you get the hang of it, you can gain proficiency in piloting pretty fast with a Radian. The Super Cub is a dedicated RC plane that is more maneuverable than the Radian and more self-righting but slower and less wind friendly. It was designed from the ground up to be a novice's airplane, even including an electronic recovery system that will return it to level flight if you get into a weird position and just release the sticks. Many pilots have started with Super Cubs and moved on to higher performing planes just fine.
With either of those choices, you have an honest chance at having a good flying experience, unlike what you'll get with another Harbor Freight plane or converting one of those foam gliders. The vast majority of pilots who decide to just try to engineer some original idea wind up creating a very inefficient drill for making holes in the ground. Starting with a proven good first plane gives you something that you and your son can really enjoy and build your skills on together.
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:05 PM
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Default RE: Foam Glider conversion Tutorial

Jester offers thoughtful comments. Our group is doing the RC conversions simply as a fun summer project and competition.

There is something to be said however for letting ones creativity air out. With school out, we had two of the grandkids with us last weekend and they got digging in my balsa scrap can at which I offered to build them a plane from scrap. It was simple, a piece of 1/16 x 2 x 16 for the wing glued to a 1/4 x 1/2 stick and tail feathers all of which simply looked about right.

Then the important teaching moment about balance and we taped a long screw forward that could be screwed fore or aft to adjust the balance. It took at the most five minutes to build and fifteen perhaps to get it in good flight trim and the six year old boy likely flew it several hundred times last Sunday. Some times a lot of fun comes from simple origins.
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:34 PM
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Default RE: Foam Glider conversion Tutorial

Nice You can learn an awful lot about trimming, etc from the windup simple 2.99 jobs as well... and they fly great. I prided myself on steep climb, long glides to nice wheel touchdowns ! Simple can be best.

Converting the foam gliders is easy.. just go for it
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:10 AM
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Default RE: Foam Glider conversion Tutorial

@teknicali
I'm not sure if you are still monitoring this forum/post but…
It's interesting that you should mention you are looking for a tutorial on how to create foamy fliers because that's exactly what I'm doing. I've done a few builds over the years using the foam gliders you find at an AC Moore or Michaels hobby store. I find it really enjoyable and think it's a great way to "get your learn on" so to speak.A focus of the tutorial is highlighting cost effective methods to build (using common materials like a hot glue gun and packing tape) in ways that don't require a huge amount of prior building experience. Plus, I'm using low cost reusable components you could put into another model in the future.
All that said, there's no guarantee that my method is the right method and this is just one persons approach. But that's the fun of building, right!? I'm also trying to make the tutorial generic enough that you could use it for most any foam glider build (small or large size).
I'll post a link to the build once it's mid-way…
Cheers!
_andrew
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:26 AM
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"Converting one of those foam toy gliders to RC is a novelty project that one does for the fun of doing it, not for the end result of getting a good flying airplane." - jester_s1


@Jester

I'll refute that comment in good faith having just completed a very successful Air Hogs maiden this weekend. If done correctly, they are very stable and excellent flying machines. "Aerodynamics are aerodynamics", so my wife says (the pilot) and so long as you don't mess with what works, doing a foam build can be enjoyable and be a great learning experience. All that said, I do agree with you that one needs to be a proficient pilot in order to make one of these foam glider conversions a success. You can have the best plane but if you can't fly, well, .... you get my point.

I'm in the works to get an article published in the next few weeks which will document, in detail, the build and the process. The best part? All electronics aside (e.g., radio, battery, etc.) the parts for the build were approximately $20.

Please Note: The conversion I spoke to previously in this thread was a wonderful failure (above). I learned a lot, to say the least. The conversion/maiden I'm speaking to in this specific post (see attached image) was a success.
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Old 09-03-2013, 05:21 AM
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@all
For anyone interested, I've posted all of my build and ongoing modifications for an Air Hogs foam glider conversion on my website. I'm not trying to push my site (it's a personal hobby site anyway) but, there's about 40+ images and 2 video's showing how I built the plane. Attached are some of the highlights but full details are at: http://www.controlchat.com/air-hogs-...der-conversion

youTube vid of flight and modification 3: http://www.youtube.com/embed/EVsa6FTXYow
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:17 AM
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I have built a number of Frankenstein airplanes throughout the years the last one being a powered glider out of a hand me down fuselage, a wing kit, and power unit off a Radian. Its flies OK, but not like my Radian, or other gliders designed as a complete aircraft. The purpose of my build was to experiment in adding certain features to the aircraft to see the effects of different control placements.

With all that said you will learn a lot from your efforts, then again there are failures from which you will also learn. My advice is to get a decent flier in the air, enjoy it, add to your knowledge once you have gotten some stick time.

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Old 06-01-2016, 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by apwachholz View Post
@all
For anyone interested, I've posted all of my build and ongoing modifications for an Air Hogs foam glider conversion on my website. I'm not trying to push my site (it's a personal hobby site anyway) but, there's about 40+ images and 2 video's showing how I built the plane. Attached are some of the highlights but full details are at: http://www.controlchat.com/air-hogs-...der-conversion

youTube vid of flight and modification 3: http://www.youtube.com/embed/EVsa6FTXYow
I agree whole heartedly! I have heard so many people say that people should buy train or planes to begin with and so on and so on! Your design is a good trainer plane if you use the right motors and ESC and batteries, I started out with trainers and all of the conventional things and I like many others crashed it a bunch of times and wasted money! With your design it takes a novice or a seasoned pilot thru the steps that are needed to learn in how to build a good flying plane! Thank you!
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