Hi everyone! I’m back with another installment of “How do I…” I won’t pretend to know it all, but I like to share what I do know with my fellow modelers. Some of you may be just starting out and looking at what you need to start flying. If you are going to fly an airplane with a power source other than electric, you’ll find that having an electric starter is a real time saver! It will also save your fingers, hands and arms as well! Often times, these electric starters have a long coiled cord attached to them with battery clamps on the end. This is fine, I guess, but I prefer to have a cordless starter. Not only is it MUCH more convenient, I find that the cordless starter is much safer as well! Have I got your attention? Read on!
What do I need?
Obviously, to make a cordless starter, you’ll need a few things – mainly, a starter, a battery, and a container for the battery. The starter is a new 12 Volt Power Pro HD starter from Hangar 9. I burned the brushes out of my last starter trying to start too large of an engine, but this starter will handle a 30cc engine or smaller. The battery I’m using is an older E-Flite 4S 3200mAh LiPo. I really like the 4 Cell on a 12 Volt starter – it gives you a little extra ‘kick’ when starting an engine! The battery container is a ‘project box’. I picked this one up at Radio Shack a few years ago, but you can find one very similar to the one I used here: Hammond Project Box
I like to protect the LiPo battery inside the box with some foam rubber – you’ll need various sizes and shapes, and this will depend on your individual battery. I grabbed some salvaged 4-40 machine screws, washers, and nuts from my hardware box, along with a couple of battery connectors. In this case, I’ll be using a pair of 3mm bullet connectors to match the EC3 connector on the E-Flite battery.
You’ll also need a couple pieces of shrink tubing to cover the bullet connectors.
To get the job done, you’ll need a few tools. You’ll need the following:
Dremel Tool with Rotary Cutting bit
Allen Head for machine screws
Needle Nosed Pliers
Let’s Get Started!
The first thing I need to do is get rid of the cord. I like to leave about 4″ of cord at the back end of the starter housing – this gives me enough room to work while keeping the cord out of the way. I removed about 1/4″ of insulation off each wire using my wire stripper, and then soldered the bullet connectors to the wires.
With the shrink tubing in place, it was time to check the rotation of the starter. The positive battery connector goes to the white striped wire on the starter. With that, the wireless starter was actually functional. Now, I have seen people simply zip tie the battery to the side of their starter. Yes, it’s functional, but it doesn’t look very nice, and it provides no protection to the LiPo Battery pack. Let’s face it – once the engine is running, it has all of my attention – not putting the starter down carefully.
The Hangar 9 starter has holes pre-drilled in the base. With a couple of quick measurements, I was ready to lay out a few lines and drill holes in the project box!
The holes were drilled to match the dimensions on the starter. I had to cut a hole in one end of the project box to allow the battery’s wiring out of the box. This will let me connect the battery to the starter and charge the battery without removing it from the box!
I then attached the box to the bottom of the starter using the 4-40 machine screws, washers, and nuts.
The battery was padded by the foam rubber – the thick green foam protects the battery from the machine screws, while the side and ‘top’ pieces keep the LiPo pack from sliding around in the box.
The bottom was then attached using the four screws that came with the box. That’s it – the final connection was made, and my new starter was ready to use!
As I said in the introduction, I find that it is MUCH more convenient and much safer to use the cordless starter. No cords getting into the propeller arc now! I hope that this idea will help some of you not only be more aware of the propeller arc, but also help reduce the clutter of having an entire field box or carrying a large 12 Volt battery to the field. -GB