My son and I have gotten into RC planes lately, with help from FliteTest.com and their free foamboard plans. We’ve built a few planes, but the one we’ve had the most fun with is the FT Flyer. It’s loads of fun, crash-tolerant and easy to learn on. It’s an older model, so the recommended equipment list could use some updating. Here I’m going to give you a parts list for building this plane on the cheap, in a configuration that I’m having good luck with. The great thing about Flite Test planes is that you can build them cheap, crash them, repair them cheap, and when you’re bored, move the electronics to another plane. If you can afford it, considering supporting Flite Test by ordering the kit and electronics. A Power Pack A will work nicely. But this list of parts I judge to be budget friendly, but also powerful enough to be used for many planes.
Most of this stuff is best sourced locally. Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Menards, Michaels.
- Two sheets of dollar store foam board. Get this from the dollar store, because the walmart stuff is heavy. $2
- Spring steel rod for pushrods:
- 3/32″-1/8″ Craft plywood for firewall and control horns. Hobby Lobby is a good choice again. You only need a few square inches. $2
- Two zip ties
- Packing tape
- Hot glue
- Bamboo skewers
Electronics and power system
I recommend searching Amazon, AliExpress, and Banggood. The latter two can have long shipping delays, but if you’ve got time, you can get a good deal.
- Brushless 1806 2280kv motor – it should come with a nut or spinner to hold your propeller – $7
- 5x3x3 propeller – I bought 20 for $10. You’ll break a few, so these will last you quite a while. Note: I tried an 8×3 propeller, and while it allowed vertical climb, it torque rolled more, and just wasn’t floaty and fun.
- 20amp ESC. This one has a JST plug, which will match the battery I’m recommending. $12
- Two 9G servos. SG90s work fine. If you can, buy like 10. They’re cheaper in larger quantities, and you’ll use them in the next model. 2 @ $1.75.
- Flight battery – 2s lipo 500-800mAH with JST plug. I like the Venom Fly 30C 2S 800mAh 7.4V. You can look for cheaper ones, but this battery treats me well. $15
- RC Transmitter – The FlySky FS-I6X works well for us. We have two of them. For the price, they’re hard to beat. You can get a higher end radio later if the hobby sticks. $55, includes receiver
- RC receiver – I like the FlySky FS-IA6B. It’s very flexible for later usage. Note: the radio I linked above comes with this receiver. $13
- Battery charger – I bought a Haisito C150, which can charge just about any hobby battery, as well as discharge and storage mode. $50
- I haven’t tried this cheaper alternative, but this one should work too. $7
- You’ll probably want bullet connectors to connect your motor to the ESC.
- As an alternative, you could just solders the wires directly.
- If you don’t want to solder, look for motors and ESCs with matching bullet connectors.
You’ll need a hot glue gun and a soldering iron. Even the Harbor Freight ones work OK.
Not counting the battery charger, you can get everything you need for around $100. Most of that is the transmitter. The nice thing is that even if you obliterate the foam into the ground, most of your electronics will likely be fine and can be reused.
Furthermore, the cost to add a second running plane (say, a Tiny Trainer), even if you keep the original one running, is maybe $40:
- More foam board, wire, skewers, etc.
- Propeller (but you might already have one)
You can most likely use your battery, charger, and transmitter.
Collect your building supplies (my advice is to order some extras, for your next project), and head to the FT Flyer page for plans and build instructions.