Introduction: Beginners Guide to Connecting Your RC Plane Electronic Parts

I'm into building RC planes. One problem I had was that couldn't find a guide to the basics of connecting all the electronics parts together (on instructables). Hopefully this I'ble will help you get started with your RC plane.

My goal is to give you a general idea of what each component is show you how to hook them up.

Biolethal made a very good instructable on a COMPLETE guide to RC electronics so for more detail on each part please read his i'ble. While he thoroughly explains each component, he doesn't explain how to hook it all up. That is the goal of this i'ble to explain how to connect everything.

See his i'ble @ https://www.instructables.com/id/The-Complete-Guid...

Also another good place to get started with RC is http://makezine.com/makerhangar/, but I don't recommend making the plane he made. His plane is big and bulky. I recommend your first plane to be something similar to Experimental Airlines https://www.youtube.com/user/ExperimentalAirlines/videos . He has a lot of good planes for beginners but I do not like his style of building fuselages. They are weak and flabby. I will post another i'ble hopefully soon on how to make your own beginner RC foam board plane.

Don't forget to check out flitetest. Those guys are simply awesome! flitetest.com

All the parts are from HobbyKing.com So far all of the parts that I've gotten from there are very good quality despite their super low prices. Thanks hobbyking!

Step 1: Transmitters

The transmitter is what you use to control your plane with. This is usually the most expensive electronic component that you will buy.

Most modern transmitters us a 2.4 Ghz frequency. These new ones have shorter antennas and are easier to work with as opposed to the oder FM radios.

The transmitter that I use the HobbyKing's transmitter. It cost 25 dollars for the transmitter AND the receiver. Its probably the cheapest 6 channel radio on the market today. I've been using this transmitter for about a year and a half now and the only downside to it considering it's price is that it eats batteries. You might consider making it run off of a lipo battery.


Speaking of a 6 channels what does that mean? There are 3-,5-,6-channel transmitters and so forth. Channels are the amount of things you can control. For instance a three channel transmitter means you can only control three motors/servos/accessories. A standard RC transmitter you buy for a RC plane has 6 channels. These channels are controlling the rudder, elevator, ailerons, motor, Aux 1, and Aux 2. So basically each channel controls a different motor.

Aux 1 and Aux 2 are reserved for different features on your plane. For instance you could have 2 bomb drops, or 1 bomb drop and a set of lights. The auxiliaries are usually controlled extra switches or knobs on the transmitter.

Step 2: Receivers

The receiver is what goes into your aircraft and controls the servos and motor(s). You can see from this receiver that it is a 6 channel receiver. The BAT slot is not considered a channel. The receiver shown above was only 10 dollars as opposed to around 20.

The receiver above connects wirelessly to the the transmitter using a 2.4Ghz frequency. 2.4Ghz frequency is the standard frequency for RC planes.

The receiver runs off of 5v, and sends signals the the servos to turn them. It also sends a signal to the ESC (we'll talk about that later) to tell it how fast the run the motor.

Now you may be wondering were the receiver gets it's 5 volts from. It gets that from the ESC's BEC, or battery elimination circuit. Keep reading to find out more about the BEC.

The anttenas on these guys like to break, so I suggest covering the part where the antenna meets the receiver wih a bit of hot glue to relieve the strain on the wire.


Make note: Each receiver will only bind with a specific brand and type of transmitter. Make sure you buy a matching pair transmitter/receiver.

Step 3: ESC (Electronic Speed Controller)

ESC basic info

ESC. An Electronic Speed Controller does several things. First, it converts your battery voltage down to 5v which is what your receiver runs off if. Not all speed controllers have this capability. When buying one what you are looking for is and ESC which says on it BEC or UBEC. This stands for [ (Universal) Battery Elimination Circuit.]

The second thing the ESC does is it converts the DC power from your battery to an AC current which is required by the motor. Brushless motors run off of AC current.


Choosing an ESC.

When picking out and ESC there is one very key feature to look out for. That is the amperage rating. Each motor will take a different amount of amps. Say I have a motor that pulls 10 amps. I do not want to buy an ESC that is rated for 10 amps. I would want to get an ESC that is rated for 15 or 18 amps. It is always good to go higher. The higher amp-rated ESC you get the less heat will be radiated.

Speaking of heat, this ESC can get very warm at times! That's why it is important to get a ESC with an amperage rating higher than your motor or your motor will pull too many amps through the ESC and cause the ESC to overheat and possible catch fire.

Then you risk a fire and burning up your RC plane! That would be horrible! Then your plane would go down in flames onto your neighbors hay barn, catch that on fire, then a the fire starts spreading. . . I'm just kidding, well about it burning everything up part :D.

The ESCs should be placed in such a manner that they get sufficient airflow to keep them coo.

Step 4: Battery

Batteries have several different characteristics.
LiPo (Lithium Polymer) batteries are standard for the RC hobby.

The first thing to talk about is the battery's voltage. While the batteries exact voltage may not be printed on the battery itself but it will tell how many cells the battery has. LiPo batteries are made up of cells. Each cell is 3.7 volts. for example the battery shown above is a 2s battery. This means that is has 2 cells, which would give it a total voltage of 7.4 volts. These cells fully discharged should NOT go below 3.3 volts and the cells fully charged should not go 4.21 volts. So for a 3S battery fresh off the charger it will be about 12.4 volts. You can drain that battery all the way down to 10.6 volts. The less you drain the battery the better.

The next thing is the Amp capacity. The battery shown above is a 2200 Mah battery. This means the battery can supply 2200 milliamps over a 1-hour period.

Finally there is the discharge rate. This particular battery has a 25c discharge rate. This is how much current the battery is able to supply. The higher the discharge rate, the more power you will get from your battery. In order to see how much current your battery can deliver, multiply the C rating by the capacity of the battery in amps. For instance the battery shown above is a 2.2 amp (2200mAh) battery with a C rating of 25. 25 x 2.2 = 55. This means during it's lifetime 12.6 volts down to 10.6 this battery can constantly supply up 55 amps of current. This is plenty enough to power any foamboard planes.

Step 5: Motor

You motor is the power plant of your plane. The motor will turn your propeller at a high speed to propel it through the air!
The standard motor that you put in your RC plane is brushless, which means it runs off of AC current. This is why you need a speed controller to convert the battery's DC power into AC.

When choosing a motor there are two basic things you need to look for.

RPM. The motor above runs at 1400 KV. KV means that for every volt applied motor will spin 1400 times. If we use a 2s battery (7.4v) then our motor's RPM is 10,360 ( 1400Kv x 7.4v = 10,360 rpm).

Power rating. The motor below is 52 watts. In order to find the wattage of the motor multiply the max current of the motor by the voltage applied to it. This motor pulls 7 amps and uses a 2s battery (7.4v) so 7 x 7.4 = 51.8W

This motor is suggested for a 275 gram plane.

Step 6: Servos

Servos are what move your control surfaces. The servos plug into the receiver. The ailerons plug into channel 1 on the receiver and the elevator plugs into channel 2 on your receiver.

Step 7: Soldering

When you get your speed controller it will not have all the connectors necessary to hook everything up so you will need to pull out your soldering iron and heat shrink and get to work! The speed controller hooks up to three things, the motor, the battery, and the receiver. With that in mind. . .

First find out what type of battery connector is on your battery. The type of plug that was on the battery shown above was an XT60 type. This means you will need to buy one male XT60 connector for your ESC. (the two big wires from the ESC connect to the battery)

Make sure when you solder the wires on that they are in the correct polarity. You can 'half plug' the two connectors together and make sure that the red and black wires match. Make sure to cover any exposed wires with heat shrink.


Now you need to add the connectors that go to the motor. On the specifications for your motor it should tell you what type of connetors are on. For instance, the motor shown above comes with 3.5 mm 'bullet' connectors. In order to connect this to the ESC, you will need 3x 3.5mm bullet FEMALE connectors. Solder these three onto the three wires coming out of the ESC. Again, make sure all exposed wires are covered in heat shrink. Now slide the male connectors from the motor to the three female connectors coming from the ESC. Make note, it does not matter which order you plug them in for now. See the last image to see the motor attached to the ESC.

Refer to pictures for further instruction.

Step 8: Connecting It All Up!

Make sure when you connect anything to the receiver that you push in the servo leas so that the brown wire (negative) faces AWAY from the text on the receiver.

  1. Connect the battery and the ESC
  2. ESC servo lead to channel 3 on receiver. You plug this into channel three and NOT the BAT slot. You would plug the battery into the BAT slot if you were making a plane without an motor, i.e. a glider.
  3. ESC to the motor. Connect the three wires in any way. You can change this later.

Step 9: Binding the Receiver to the Transmitter

So now you have everything hooked up, but when you turn on the transmitter, nothing happens! Well this is because you haven't bound the receiver to the transmitter.

Binding the receiver.

When you get the receiver it has to be bound to the transmitter. If your transmitter is not bound to the receiver than you will not be able to control anything. The steps below are for binding this specific receiver, but works with others too. Consult your manual for further instruction.


    1. Plug the bind plug into the BAT slot.  
    2. Plug in the power connector from your ESC. Make sure you have the ESC connected to the motor and the battery.
    3. The red light on the receiver should start flashing
    4. Turn on your transmitter holding down the bind switch. The bind switch must already be pressed before transmitter power-up.
    5. Wait a few second and if you see the red light on the receiver stop flashing then you have successfully bound it!

Step 10: Where to Buy Parts

RC electrons have been continually been getting cheaper. All the electronic shown in this instructable were taken from HobbyKing. Hobbyking is one of the cheapest web sites online. Please visit www.hobbyking.com to check out their incredibly low prices.

Step 11: Conclusion:

I hope this has been helpful to you in understanding what parts need to be connected to what. If you have any question feel free to PM me or to leave a comment! Don't forget to vote!

Comments

author
LeighR13 made it! (author)2017-07-03

Very, very helpful. Thank you!

author
ZeeshanA57 made it! (author)2017-03-18

May peace and prosperity be with you!

Hi, i am new to custom rc models. I build a F-16 weight (640g including battery) and its is hovering or stalling here is the video link
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdWn8m0xiFo,
Specs:
Plane material :5mm foam board,
Size: (L*W) 1025mm (41in)* 787.5mm (31.5in)
Motor: Racerstar BR2212 1400KV (40g),
ESC: 30A,
servos: 9g*3,
Tx,Rx: FlySky fs-i6,
Battery: 1800 Mah 11.1v, any suggestion to stop the stalling

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2017-04-02

That jet is not balanced, it's too tail heavy. Google how to balance a jet or a flying wing and you should be good to go.

author
RussellL26 made it! (author)2017-02-10

Can you take any transmitter and program it to work on other rc devices?

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2017-02-14

No lol. Each brand usually has its own protocol

author
clgevent made it! (author)2017-02-11

sir i hv a 1800kv brushless motor. so how much it spin in a minute which is connected through a battery of 2.2A

author
Norm1949 made it! (author)2017-01-27

Is there a rule governing servo and battery voltage.

author
StevenB246 made it! (author)2017-01-19

Thanks for the instructions. Definitely found them very helpful. Would like to ask one question. I would like to build a plane to fly long range, what would be a good combination of electronics to use? Thanks again

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2017-01-19

Search the threads over at RCgroups.com, they'd be much more help than I can be.

author
DaveS121 made it! (author)2016-03-16

Hi. Great instructable! This was very helpful. But I have a question. My airplane (which I'm currently making) has a four channel receiver. I plan on using one channel for the motor, another for the ailerons, another for the elevator, & another for the elevator. Will that work? Will I need an extra channel for the ESC or battery?

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-03-16

Yeah that'll work just fine!

The ESC is what controls the motor, so it will go into the motor channel, and the battery plugs into the ESC. Goodluck!

PM me if you have any other questions.

author
DaveS121 made it! (author)DaveS1212016-03-18

Thank you. One more question. Are NiMH batteries a wise choice, or should I go LiPo? The battery I've purchased is NiMH, it's 4.8 volts & 2000mAh. My airplane has a 24" wingspan & it's balsa. In your estimation, would my battery do the job?Here's more information: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003BHIOCU?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00

author
AdityaK108 made it! (author)AdityaK1082016-07-01

No bro.....for flying a balsa one with a 24" wingspan....u will have to look for the lipo's with around 9 to 12v of output...or u can make a lighter plane.....otherwise if u wanna make a glider then NiMH batteries are perfect

author
BarryD43 made it! (author)BarryD432017-01-04

there is no such thing as a 9 volt lipo and a 12v lipo which is actually classed as 11.1v is way too heavy for a 24 inch plane, as the author stated above, know your stuff before spouting off at the mouth and giving false information

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-03-18

LiPos, they are the standard for the RC industry.

IDK because I don't know how much your plane weighs, or the motor. I'm assuming it's not going to be enough because it is only 4. 8 volts

author
marcus de caux made it! (author)2016-12-25

verygood help

author
SnorkBiscuits made it! (author)2016-11-22

Thanks this is great. My issue is I have a two wire motor with no plug on the end that I need to plug into a regular receiver. What plug do I need to put on the wires? What's it's name? ( I guess it's a JST plug but there seem to be so many different types of JST plugs).

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-11-24

If you have a two wire motor than it's a brushed motor, and you need to look to buy a brushed ESC

author
SnorkBiscuits made it! (author)SnorkBiscuits2016-11-24

Thank you. Why do I need an ESC for a brushed motor? I thought they were just for brushless. Can I plug a brushed motor straight into the receiver?

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-12-06

Well you can run a DC motor (brushed) off of a straight voltage, but if you want to be able to control the speed you need an ESC. NOOOOOOO!

author
szu75 made it! (author)2016-11-20

Hi there. I thought this was one great instructable!! Great advice and tips.

Anyways, back to my point. Im new to this RC planes and all that so i was wondering if you could help me figure out my problem. I am using the same receiver and transmitter as you. So i put my ESC on my receiver on channel 3 (the throttle right? to power the prop?) and it works fine and all that but my problem is that the motor goes both ways. And the neutral position of the motor (not moving) is right in the middle of the stick. Any idea how to fix this? I want to make it so that it will be only one direction and the neutral position is at the lowest position of the stick and 100% is at the top. Another minor problem i have is the servo direction. Since this transmitter has no reverse switch, so you have a quick and easy solution for reversing servos? Thanks so much for you help!!

author
PayceA made it! (author)PayceA2016-11-20

I have been doing RC for a few years now. The ESC you have is for a car or a boat. A normal airplane receiver only goes in one direction. Depending on what brand/model ESC you have you will either need to program it or buy a new one. Your problem is not the transmitter.

For the servo reversing problem, you could try holding the stick of the channel you want to reverse at the lowest or highest position and turning the controller on. If this doesn't work simply take the servo out and turn it around so that it turns in the right way.

Send me an email at payceorion@gmail.com If you need any more help.

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-11-24

. . . what he said! Yeah, figure out to how to program your ESC so that it only goes in on direction

author
Berallan made it! (author)2016-09-27

I am trying to learn what I can so I can build my own custom systems for both air and surface. I have read this guide and understand most of it but there are a few things I would like to know that haven't been mentioned.

1. The batteries come in 3.7v increments so you can get 3.7v, 7.4v, 11.1v and I believe 14.8v for a 4s battery. The ESC regulates the voltage to 5v for the receiver but how do you know what voltage the ESC can handle as the input voltage from the battery? I have read that the ESCs can only handle between 3.4v to 9.6v and if that were true then the 11.1v and the 14.8v batteries would burn out the ESC. My plane uses the 11.1v so something isn't right there.

2. The brushless motor you said is AC and is the preferred motor these days but some motors being sold are still brushed. From what I can find out brushed motors are DC. So how do you control the speed of a brushed motor? I would imagine you could use a rheostat with a variable voltage regulator and control it by a servo but I'm sure there would be better ways of doing it these days. I have been told that you still use the same ESC but I don't understand how you can use the same ESC for both AC and DC motors.

3. My plane came with the motor, ESC and receiver (BNF) but didn't say if it was a brushed or brushless motor, so how do i find out what type of motor it is.

Can you shed some light on these questions for me please?

One day I would like to restore an old 1960s balsa and ply RC Elco PT boat with full movement to AA guns and Turrets, but I have to learn all this first.

Thanks.

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-10-12

Sorry It took me so long to get to your question man!

1) When you buy an ESC it'll say something like 2-4s compatible.

2) You can't use the same ESC for a brushed and brushless motor. The are specific brushed ESCs and brushless ESCs. Yes, the brushless use AC in a sense, but the ESC handles all that. The ESC controls the speed of the motor based on the input you give it over it's signal wire.

3) If the motor has 3 wires, it's brushless.

author
Dermo21 made it! (author)2016-09-16

Hi,newbie looking for some advice!!

I've just built my first foam plane and need some advice on how to get it in the air!! It's built for two motors,one on each wing with ailerons and elevator. The wingspan is 40" and the current weight is 18 oz. Can you recommend a battery/motors/esc/props to get this going. Also anything else I might need. Thanks!!

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-09-18

Sure, why don't you send me a PM and we'll work this out.

author
NC FPV made it! (author)2016-08-17

Trying my first 433mhz setup. Using Hawkeye open LRS. Can the ESC power the receiver or will it have too much power? Keeps saying something about how more than 3.3.v can damage these types of receivers. Or, do I need to use a seperate power source? Can't find out much about Hawkeye regarding installation or anything..

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-08-20

If it says it needs 3.3v then give it 3.3. Get a voltage step-down for it. You can find them cheaply on ebay. Just google dc buck voltage step down.

author
AdityaK108 made it! (author)2016-08-19

Brother do u have any guide on how can i repair my burnt esc?

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-08-20

Sorry no man. Usually you can't.

author
ManuC20 made it! (author)2016-08-03

Hi guys just need some help, I am making a plane and i have 1 bl motor 1400 kv, 30A esc with bec, 2 servo. now i want to know how and where to connect all these wires (What do u call that board where all the things are connected). and what else do i need to make a plane?

Thanks

Manu

author
csiebe made it! (author)2016-07-30

How do I power my receiver if my ESC does not provide power? Thanks

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-07-31

You have to buy a BEC

author
PerrieI made it! (author)2016-07-11

I have a somewhat unusual use, and need help to modify the wiring for this use. I am planning to use a brushless motor for my Nerf guns, i have hi-power 18650 (30A continuous) and wish to control the speed via a pot - can i do this directly or do i need some form of signal conditioner - is it pwm, anologue or something else.... Am not familiar with the wiring i/o on them so very interested. motor is a RCer BL4-15-2 currently using rhinos, run around 40-45Krpm . load would not be great, so hoping i can push to 45,000 - about 11.6V. I need to run 2 of these, the are flywheel motors, looking at possibly 2 sets - are there any high speed RC motors, say, 60-80,000 RPM ?? (set 1 30-35K, set 2 60-70K )

Any help greatfully accepted...

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-07-12

Yes, search a hobby sight for brushless inrunner. They usually have very fast kv as opposed to outrunners.

author
PerrieI made it! (author)2016-07-11

Nearly forgot, one has to run in the opposite direction !

author
adamsey made it! (author)2016-03-30

Can I connected more than one motor to an esc?

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-03-30

No

author
AdityaK108 made it! (author)AdityaK1082016-07-01

U r wrong bro......some esc's are available for multirotors which can connect more than 1 motor to them

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-07-02

Ok this guy was not talking about quad ESCs, he's talking about 1 esc. Quit going through all my answers and giving bad advice AdityaK. Know your stuff.

author
RendellR made it! (author)RendellR2016-07-08

How can you tell which pin on the receiver is neutral or ground? Someone told me that the middle pin is positive.

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-07-08

You need to look up the pinout on your receiver. Yes, positive is in the middle, with GND and singal on either side.

author
hamza shahab made it! (author)2016-03-02

hi!

can you plz tell me that how can i know that how much weight my motot can lift? for example i have 750Kv and 850Kv motors?

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-03-02

You have to look up the datasheet of your motor, what battery voltage you are using and what prop. KV tell you almost nothing about a motor.

author
AdityaK108 made it! (author)AdityaK1082016-07-01

Boy kv tells everything about a motor.....after knowing the kv and the size we can assume the thrust

author
HavocRC made it! (author)HavocRC2016-07-02

No it doesn't. KV tells nothing about the power/torque of the motor. Using your logic, a 1400kv motor would be better than a 660kv motor. Well the 660 kv motor is meant for spinning a 12-14 inch prop with MASSIVE thrust, and the 1400kv is just for a 7-9 inch prop, with much less thrust. You can't assume anything from KV, you also need to know your prop size and your battery voltage. Check your motor's datasheet for all the info.

author
NakshatraR1 made it! (author)2016-01-16

where to attach the servo in the whole process?

author
AdityaK108 made it! (author)AdityaK1082016-07-01

To the servo port in the receiver.. :)

author
hamza shahab made it! (author)2016-03-19

hi! can anyone tell me how can i take 25 amp current from nicd and nimh?

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