Sheldon Aubut's R/C

R/C Diary


November 11, 2012  I'm just starting on this diary of my R/C experience and I don't know just how detailed I want to make it.  Probably not anywhere near the daily detail as my other diaries found at but enough that someone might learn from my experiences being mostly new to the hobby.  I've always wanted to do R/C since I was a boy in the 50's but I either didn't have the money for it or I had other priorities.  For many years I had hot cars that I raced or always had a few motorcycles around.  The racing really sucked up all my time and resources so there was nothing left over for other hobbies.  From the age of six I had built model cars, airplanes and ships and from ten to eighteen I was at Gillette State Hospital for Crippled Children about once a year for from two months to nine months with not much to do other than reading or building models.  I continued to build models well into my 30's.  I was quite good at it and had even won a class in a national model car contest put on by a paint manufacturer.  My first real experience with R/C was in 1979 when I was living in Tucson Arizona.  I was the night manager of a large and very busy convenience store and every night the local police would come in for coffee and sit and chat.  I got to know some of them very well and it turned out that the Tucson police had an "air combat" club.  Air combat is when the R/C airplanes have a streamer on the back and with multiple aircraft flying they try to cut each other's streamers.  One of the guys knew of my model building and asked me if I'd build a new kit for him so in only a couple of days I'd assembled the plane for him and he gave me a few dollars for doing it.  These guys crashed their planes just about every time they had one of these events so pretty soon I was spending a few hours every day either building or re-building their planes.  Don't know how many I built or fixed but it was a bunch.  But...  I never flew one of them.

I really enjoyed the building but the flying part just wasn't on my agenda.  At the time I was big into photography and when I moved to St. Paul Minnesota in late 1980 I started a photography business which then took all my time.  Flash forward to the spring of 2012 when I happened on a YouTube video of Team Black Sheep flying FPV (First Person View) which is flying the aircraft from a camera mounted on the plane and using either a screen to see what the camera sees or using a pair of goggles which video screens in them such as the "FatShark" goggles.  This is that exact video that got me hooked:


For the first month or so I just watched videos of R/C airplanes and helicopters, but with not much money as I'm retired, I really couldn't afford to go out and buy systems.  Helicopters really start at about $400 and you also need a transmitter and receiver which is usually about another $400 or so.  Mostly the cheapest airplanes cost about $120 plus transmitter and receiver but I really wanted to start with helicopters.  I bought several of the micro-helicopters such as the Syma S107 coaxial helicopters  (two contra-rotating rotors which are easy to fly) which are very cheap and come with a transmitter, although it is infrared and not true radio/control.  Had a lot of fun with them but you can only fly them indoors or outdoors on cloudy days and they only have about a 30 foot range.  Next I bought a JXD 4 Ch Indoor Infrared RC Gyroscope Helicopter "Drift King" which, being a "4 channel" in addition to the throttle, rudder and elevator it has ailerons which makes it perform more like a real helicopter although it is still only infrared.  But flying it around taught me one more step in the learning to fly an R/C helicopter. 

 Then I discovered the Double Horse 9053 Volitation helicopter at  At the time it sold for about $60 and it came with a transmitter and receiver but I quickly learned why it was so cheap; it was almost unflyable as it came from the factory.   But parts for it are very cheap and all are available at or dozens of other sites and there are many sites and YouTube videos that show what modifications need to be done to make it flyable.  After buying the copter, parts and making the modifications it flies and is a great cheap learning tool which my total investment was about $90.  I flew it for some weeks and in reading the posts at I ran across a guy who flies an  Easy Star II Airplane Kit mounted on floats, with a GoPro camera with which he makes some great videos.  Check out Karl's YouTube videos here.  I went out with him a couple of times and got even more hooked and then one Saturday morning I picked him up in the Crossfire and we drove to Owatanna Minnesota for the annual "Watts over Owatanna" electric powered aircraft event.  One guy there was selling a used EasyStar I very cheap so I bought it.  The first time I tried to fly it Karl went with and he first flew it to make sure everything worked.  He was up for about 5 minutes and brought it in so I could give it a try.

The first time I tried to fly it he took off and got it to altitude.  Now this was my first time trying an airplane, ever.  I took the transmitter and applied a bit of power and flew straight ahead for about 20 seconds, then started a bank to the left and all of a sudden the thing just rolled over and started towards the ground.  The battery had gone dead but I handed the box back to Karl and he was able to glide it in for a safe landing.  Seven minutes battery life was terrible and I'd charged it up before we went out.  Unfortunately I'd forgotten the spare battery at home so we called it a day.  A couple of weeks later I discovered Rick's Hobby Farm about 15 miles from home, just south of New Richmond WI, and took the EasyStar there for a try by myself.  Rick's Hobby Farm is naturally owned by a guy named Rick.  Yup.  And he has made an incredible place for R/C on his farm.  There is a flying field, a pond for R/C boats and float-planes and a dirt track for R/C cars.  He also has a barn with what I'm told is an incredible model railroad build.  He has viewing stands, toilets, and all kinds of amenities for folks in the R/C hobby, and it is all FREE.  Here is an aerial view of the grounds

The first time I stopped by Rick's Hobby farm I'd just stumbled on a fly-in.  I stuck around and watched for a couple of hours then remembered that I'd told Patti I was just going for a little ride so headed home.  Had the chance though to chat with a few of the usual suspects and really had a great time. 

When I went there a week or so later on a weekday I was alone so I tossed the EasyStar in the air for a lousy hand-launch but it flew about 100 feet and the thing went dead again and dropped nose first to the ground.  So I guess these batteries were at the end of their life and wouldn't hold a charge.  If I'd been any kind of flier it would have glided in but as some guys say, "Learning one crash at a time."


September 4, 2012
Made a test wing which turned out great but I only made it with a five inch cord, so…

September 12, 2012
Made a 7” cord wing which turned out almost perfect. Was so happy about that that I…

September 29, 2012
Made another wing. When done I put them together to think about connecting them…
Discovered I’d made it with an 8” cord Dang!!!!!!!!! So, started making another 7” one with the thought that I could save the 8” for later. Then ran out of Hot Glue… So started to work on the copter…

October 2, 2012
Did the binding with my receiver and everything clicked, except the throttle and elevator were crossed, so started to change that and decided to instead go back to the stock receiver and see if I could get it working. Put it in then went to bind it and went to plug in the battery and as I was reaching to the other side of the copter I put the plugs together and they touched reversed. Heard a little spark as I did and immediately looked and reversed them. They should not have been able to connect reversed but the plug is crap! Don’t know what that blue plug is but it is not an XT60 for sure. After that the copter was completely dead. I guess I must have fried the ESC.

October 3, 2012
Then decided I wouldn’t let that happen again so started to solder Dean’s connectors on all my 11.1v batteries, and my soldering gun died. It used to be my Dad’s and it was at least 40 years old, but it was a very good Weller 200/250w and it picked this time to die too. Just not my day.


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