Basic Electric Flight for Gas Pilots
Gas-to-Electric Conversion Guide
Face it. There are a lot more kits designed for gas power than
for electric power. Fine! But that needn't stop you from picking out
that perfect plane and building it with electric power in mind!
Have you seen our Electric kit (and
glow-conversion) Reviews page?
Picking out a good plane for conversion
Nearly any gas plane can be converted to electric power effectively. But
some designs are better than others. Here's an idea of what to look
- Type of plane: Any plane with 'plenty of wing' makes an excellent
choice for conversion since the wing loading will still be reasonable even
if the plane turns out a little heavy. If the plane will fly at high
speeds (i.e. a sport-aerobatic design or pylon racer), a low drag
design is desireable. Simply put, an effective electric plane is
one that flies nicely at 1/3 to 1/2 throttle. If the plane
you envision needs full or 2/3 throttle all of the time, it will make a
poorer electric choice since the flight times will be quite short.
Type of construction: Most gas planes are hideously overbuilt.
Many popular 'easy to build' kits make use of heavy plywood fuselage
sides etc etc where it is not needed or wanted in an electric. Some kit
designs are better than others. For example, Carl Goldberg, Great
Planes and Sig make .40 sized Piper Cubs. The first two use heavy
ply construction throughout and are targeted at 7-8 lbs. The Sig kit
uses conventional (but more time-consuming) stick construction and is
targeted around 5 lbs. The Sig kit makes a good conversion for an
electric! The other two kits are fine, but much more kit-bashing and
wood replacement is needed to fly really well.
What motor? What prop? Which batteries?
Suppose you want to convert a .40 sized Cub to electrics. You've picked
the plane. What now? How does one convert this .40 cubic inch
displacement engine into the world of nicads and windings?
a list of motors, their closest glow counterparts, and their specs here.
Read up on the section on nicad batteries, and you'll be able to estimate your flying time too!
Back to the Electric R/C page