Hand-Toss Foam Glider Conversion Fail
This article covers my conversion of a hand toss foam glider to a radio control (rc) powered airplane. Unfortunately, due to a severe oversight in understanding the concept of torque, the laws of physics prohibited my craft from taking to the skies (i.e., crash). All things considered, the build approach in this article is solid, fast, and relatively cheap, however, I recommend you use an electric motor more conducive to a aircraft of this size and weight; like a Park 250 Brushless Outrunner from E-flight.
When I came across a small 24 inch foam hand toss glider at a craft store I thought to myself, “I’ve converted a 4 foot version of this in the past so why not this small glider?” So without hesitation I snapped up the glider and had it on the workbench later that evening.
Wanting to keep the costs low, I decided to use what I had on hand from my past electric experiences plus only the items I had on hand at home. This included the use a glue gun (low temp setting) for all adhesion and using clear packing tape to hinge any surfaces (e.g., elevator). The electronics I used are the following:
- (2) Hi-tech micro servos
- (1) 25amp brushless ESC speed control
- (1) E-flite 450 890Kv brushless motor (Way too powerful. See Torque Matters)
- (1) 9×6 Slow electric APC propeller
- (1) 3-cell 1320mAh 11.1v Thunder Power LiPo
I knew weight was possibly going to be an issue for a conversion of this size, however, I’ve flown bricks in the past and was confident I could do the same in this case. Plus, I knew the power my motor would provide should solve any issues getting airborne. The total time it took to do the conversion was a paltry 6 hours over the period of a week. The weight was lighter then I anticipated and I paid particular attention to the center of gravity (CG) to ensure I would have a relatively stable thrust line.
While the approach for this particular build & conversion was relatively solid, the oversight regarding torque ended any hopes of seeing this hand toss glider soar into the skies.
I often hear pilots at the field talk about how large of motor or engine they have installed in their airplane. And after my own personal experience, I began to wonder how many rc pilots really understand the effects of torque on our aircraft. For example, I’ve seen beautiful airplanes crash on take-off and landing because the pilot didn’t appear to understand the effects of torque at slow air speeds.
Too much power can be a dangerous thing if you don’t know what it’s capable of doing, so be ever mindful when you decide to overpower your aircraft because, torque matters.