Top 30 Tools of the Trade

Fa­vorite tools and gear that make build­ing and fly­ing more fun

Electric Flight - - CONTENTS - By the Elec­tric Flight crew

Fa­vorite tools and gear that make build­ing and fly­ing more fun

When it comes to get­ting our air­craft from the work­bench to the fly­ing field, there are plenty of tasks and ad­just­ments in­volved. This guide to our fa­vorite field and bench tools in­cludes 30 gad­gets and equip­ment that make our hobby eas­ier to en­joy and let us have more fun in the process. From must-have work­bench items to fly­ing field favorites, you’re go­ing to find some­thing here that you’ll want to add to your tool­box.

XICOY Dig­i­tal CG Me­ter Pro $275.00 Ideal for big­ger air­planes, the Dig­i­tal CG Me­ter Pro from Xicoy in­cludes three weight sen­sors, a touch­screen con­troller, and three long male-to-male servo leads for con­nect­ing it all. Xicoy also of­fers a Blue­tooth ver­sion, which works with a smart­phone app in­stead of the con­troller. The CG Me­ter Pro is easy to use. Just set your model up in one of the con­troller’s 100 avail­able mem­o­ries, mak­ing a pair of ac­cu­rate mea­sure­ments be­tween the land­ing gear and cen­ter-of-grav­ity lo­ca­tions, and then put a weight sen­sor un­der each wheel. The con­troller ac­cu­rately com­bines the weights on the three load cells, in­di­cates if the plane is nose- or tail-heavy, and cal­cu­lates how much weight needs to be added at the pre­vi­ously in­put cor­rec­tion point. xicoy.com ZAP Sin­gle-use CA Glue | $4.99 Ever break some­thing at the fly­ing field and need just a lit­tle glue? Now pack­aged in five 0.01-ounce (0.5g) sin­gle-use tubes, you can now use Zap-a-gap CA+ glue a lit­tle at a time when­ever you need it. It’s ideal for the flight box or the work­shop. zapglue.com HITEC S60 Cam­era | $299.99 ($469.99 S60 full pack­age) This rugged pro­fes­sional-grade ac­tion cam­era is de­signed to cap­ture 16MP still pho­tos and HD 1080p/60fps video. It comes with a wa­ter­proof case and a de­tach­able 2-inch LCD back screen for view­ing your footage. It’s Wi-fi en­abled and can be con­trolled with your mo­bile de­vice us­ing a down­load­able app. hite­crcd.com

DURATRAX 32-Tip Multi-driver $24.99 You can stop bor­row­ing every­one else’s tools at the field with this an­odized-alu­minum super tool. It works with the hard­ware fas­ten­ers most com­monly found in pop­u­lar RC air­planes, drones, and park fliers. Its han­dle con­ve­niently holds 15 short-shank, dou­ble-tip bits, with a bit stored in the “in-use” po­si­tion. Sizes are clearly marked on all bits, which pro­vide a wide se­lec­tion of tips for slot­ted, hex, Phillips, Pozidriv, and Torx (or “star”) heads. Ro­tate the end cap of the han­dle to re­move the bit you need. Added bonus: The han­dle’s shape pre­vents it from rolling away when not in use. duratrax.com SULLIVAN PROD­UCTS Ball Con­nec­tors $5.99 to $7.69 Color coded for easy iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, the Sullivan Prod­ucts Ball Con­nec­tors are avail­able in three ba­sic sizes: 4-40 (blue), 2-56 (red), and 2mm (green) to mate with threaded wire pushrods (also avail­able from Sullivan). These con­nec­tors are based on strong ball links that can be eas­ily threaded into your servo arms and con­trol horns, or used with your en­gine’s throt­tle arm. A heavy-duty 3mm (gold) ver­sion is also avail­able. The ball con­nec­tors pro­vide flex­i­ble ge­om­e­try to al­low the pushrod to move and pivot dur­ing op­er­a­tion while hold­ing the lock­ing sleeve se­curely in place. The lock­ing sleeves are spring loaded, so be­sides pro­vid­ing a bul­let­proof con­nec­tion, they are also ex­tremely easy to re­lease by hand. sul­li­van­prod­ucts.com GREAT PLANES Prop Ream­ers $10.99 to $14.99 Avail­able in var­i­ous sizes (met­ric and stan­dard SAE), these stepped T-han­dle pro­pel­ler ream­ers are a must-have for your work­bench. Ream­ers ac­cu­rately size the holes in pro­pel­lers, so they will pre­cisely fit your en­gine. They also make bal­anc­ing your props more ac­cu­rate. great­planes.com BAT-SAFE Lipo Pro­tec­tion | $59.00 Mea­sur­ing 12x9x7 inches, the Bat-safe is a Lipocharg­ing so­lu­tion that can be used to charge and store up to 12S 5Ah packs. Weigh­ing 4 pounds, the Bat-safe has dou­ble-wall con­struc­tion; fire­proof seals; a spring-loaded latch for se­cur­ing the lid; and a spe­cially de­signed, air­tight, syn­thetic wire­way seal for the charg­ing and bal­anc­ing leads. Also in­cluded are a handy cloth car­ry­ing strap for easy trans­port and a me­tal at­tach­ment bracket to safely sup­port your charger. The lid fea­tures a spe­cial fire­proof fil­ter ma­te­rial and 60 vent holes. The Bat-safe is a great in­sur­ance pol­icy against faulty battery packs, which could cause dam­age when you least expect it. bat-safe.com ACTUONIX RC Lin­ear L12-R Ac­tu­a­tor $70.00 The Actuonix L12-R, L16-R, and PQ12-R series of lin­ear ser­vos op­er­ates as di­rect re­place­ments for any stan­dard ana­log ro­tary servo and uses stan­dard three-wire (ground, power, and sig­nal) con­nec­tor leads. There are 21 mod­els of RC lin­ear ser­vos for use in any RC project. De­signed to work with typ­i­cal RC re­ceivers and battery packs, they are also com­pat­i­ble with Ar­duino con­trol boards, VEX Mi­cro­con­trollers, and many other sim­i­lar con­trol boards de­signed for ro­bot­ics. The L12-R series is the stan­dard range of mi­cro lin­ear ser­vos, and it comes in three stroke lengths (30mm, 50mm, and 100mm) and three gear­ing op­tions, for mov­ing forces be­tween 2 and 17 pounds. The L12-R ac­tu­a­tors are ideal for mov­ing scale canopies, doors, drag flaps and spoil­ers, or other scale func­tions where a stan­dard servo setup can’t pro­vide the re­quired power or stroke length. actuonix.com

MER­CURY ADHESIVES CA Glues, Ac­cel­er­a­tor, and De­bon­der | $4.99 to $5.99 Pro­vid­ing the high­est-qual­ity glues, Mer­cury Adhesives are backed by an un­con­di­tional un­lim­ited re­place­ment guar­an­tee. Fea­tur­ing an in­no­va­tive cap de­sign, Mer­cury Adhesives guar­an­tees your glue will last longer than any other CA. All are med­i­cal-grade qual­ity and engi­neered to min­i­mize fumes and odor. Avail­able in sev­eral for­mu­las and bot­tle sizes, the CA prod­ucts in­clude Mer­cury Thin (M5T) for wick­ing and bond­ing of close-fit­ting parts; Medium (M300M); Thick/gap Fill­ing (M1100G); and High Per­for­mance (M100XF) for close-fit­ting parts, in­clud­ing plas­tic, rub­ber, me­tal, wood, leather, fab­ric, and com­pos­ites. Also avail­able are Mer­cury Adhesives Ac­cel­er­a­tor (MH16) and De­bon­der (M68DB). Prices are $5.99 for 1-oz. bot­tles of CA glue and $4.99 for 2-oz. bot­tles of ac­cel­er­a­tor and de­bon­der. mer­curyad­he­sives.com DU-BRO Tru-spin Prop Balancer | $39.14 One of the most pre­cise bal­ancers avail­able, the Tru-spin Prop Balancer fea­tures a spe­cially de­signed lock­ing cone to se­curely cen­ter and lock the prop on the bal­anc­ing shaft. For use with air­plane props as well as spin­ners, he­li­copter ro­tor heads, ducted fan jet im­pellers, and fly­wheels, each balancer comes com­plete with as­sem­bly in­struc­tions and prop­bal­anc­ing tips. shop.dubro.com VAL­LEY VIEW RC Safe-t Air­plane Holder | $49.95 This 14-inch-tall, 100 per­cent stain­less-steel holder will keep your air­plane sta­tion­ary while you start it. When your model is ready to go, sim­ply pull it back and the holder will fold down and al­low your plane to taxi to the runway. This tool has even been tested with 35%-scale air­plane at full throt­tle! val­leyviewrc.com HORI­ZON HOBBY An­glepro II Dig­i­tal Me­ter $59.99 Re­plac­ing the orig­i­nal 4-in-1 An­glepro Dig­i­tal Me­ter, the new An­glepro II uses a CR2032 lithium battery and has an auto power-off fea­ture. The in­ci­dence at­tach­ment al­lows pre­cise dig­i­tal mea­sure­ment of air­plane wing, tail, and thrust an­gles, and al­lows for easy cal­cu­la­tion and ad­just­ment of con­trol throws. The An­glepro II at­taches to most con­trol sur­faces and re­sets to zero at any an­gle, so there’s no need to level the air­plane. It also works as a pre­ci­sion level. hori­zon­hobby.com TRU-TURN Turbo-cool Elec­tric Spin­ners | $32.95 to $64.95 Have an over­heat­ing is­sue with your plane? Tru-turn Turbo-cool Spin­ners fea­ture vented pre­ci­sion cone de­sign with Tur­bo­lite back­plates that drive cool­ing air into the elec­tric-mo­tor com­part­ment. For elec­tric use only, these prod­ucts help your mo­tor and speed con­troller re­main ef­fi­cient un­der load, plus they are light­weight, so they do not rob from the max­i­mum power de­liv­ered to your pro­pel­lers. tru­turn.com SHARPRC Arm­safe | $13.40 Equipped with 12-AWG wire, the Sharprc Arm­safe kit is a great way to add safety and con­ve­nience to your elec­tric RC air­plane. All hard­ware and arm­ing plugs are in­cluded. Sim­ply re­move the Deans con­nec­tor to make it im­pos­si­ble for your plane to accidentally start. sharprc.com

WARBIRD PI­LOTS Light­weight Pi­lot Fig­ures | $69.99 to $174.99 There is a suitable and proper scale pi­lot fig­ure for ev­ery scale cock­pit, and if you are look­ing for light­weight poseable pi­lots with ac­cu­rately sewn cloth­ing and gear, Warbird Pi­lots is for you. Avail­able in sev­eral styles and scale sizes, pi­lot fig­ures come in World War I, World War II, civil­ian, and mod­ern jet and he­li­copter styles, each out­fit­ted to fit your needs. Scale sizes in­clude 1/6, 1/7, 1/8, 1/4, and 1/4.5 scale. WW I pi­lots are also avail­able in 1/3.5 and 1/5 scale. Pi­lot busts and custom servo-equipped pi­lots are also avail­able. Prices range from $69.99 to $159.00; WW I 1/3- and 1/3.5-scale pi­lots are $174.99. war­bird­pi­lots.com BSI Quik-cure, Mid-cure & Slow-cure Epox­ies $8.76 to $9.53 (4.5 oz.) When you want a bul­let­proof, no-ques­tions-asked glue joint, two-part epoxy is the an­swer. Bob Smith In­dus­tries has epoxy with three cure times: Quik-cure (5 min­utes), Mid-cure (15 min­utes), and Slow-cure (30 min­utes). Quik-cure epoxy cures to a slightly flex­i­ble con­sis­tency to form a last­ing bond in ar­eas sub­jected to high vi­bra­tion or stress. Mid-cure is the most flex­i­ble and is ideal for work­ing with fiber­glass and over a larger area. Slow-cure works best for form­ing re­in­forc­ing fil­lets on joints, and it has the high­est strength; it is best to let Slowcure epoxy cure overnight. Also avail­able in 9-oz. bot­tles. bsi-inc.com SPEKTRUM Al­pha-6 Sta­bil­ity Sys­tem | $129.99 Ready to go straight out of the box, the Al­pha-6 Sta­bil­ity Sys­tem comes with all the ba­sic sta­bil­ity set­tings al­ready pro­grammed. Fea­tur­ing proven AS3X tech­nol­ogy, you can use the Al­pha-6’s set­tings or take ad­van­tage of its ad­vanced func­tions with a free PC in­ter­face. It fea­tures seven in­puts and eight out­put ports, and sup­ports Spektrum SRXL se­rial in­puts. Two rud­der out­puts share the same gain in­put, so you can con­trol both the rud­der and the nose­wheel steer­ing servo with sep­a­rate ports. spek­trumrc.com SONIC-TRONICS Land­ing-gear Door Hinges | $1.35 to $25.95 It’s said that there’s a so­lu­tion for ev­ery job, and when it comes to in­stalling tight-fit­ting land­ing-gear doors, you’ll want the hinges that will get the job done. Avail­able in sev­eral styles, the door hinges from Sonic-tronics are strong and in­jec­tion-molded in the cor­rect shape to make flush-fit­ting doors op­er­ate smoothly with­out bind­ing. Spe­cial in­jec­tion-molded hinges are avail­able in molded ny­lon hinges as well as car­bon-fiber-filled de­signed hinges for use on flaps, spoil­ers, land­ing-gear doors, and many other unique ap­pli­ca­tions where ex­tra strength is wanted. Prices range from $1.35 to $6.29, de­pend­ing on the type and num­ber of hinges; the tri­cy­cle door kit ($25.95) in­cludes all the hinges, springs, and spe­cial items to create op­er­at­ing wheel doors on your air­craft. son­ic­tron­ics.com

BSI Ul­tra-cure Tire Glue and In­sta-clean Sticker Re­mover $7.05 & $8.25 Have you ever taken off and seen your air­plane’s rub­ber wheel pop off its rim and run down the runway? Then you know your next land­ing is go­ing to cost you a pro­pel­ler. BSI Ul­tra-cure tire glue (BSI-130, $7.05) works on all types and makes of rims and rub­ber tires, and bonds in 5 to 10 sec­onds. What about clean­ing off those price stick­ers plas­tered on hobby-shop pro­pel­lers? Re­move them eas­ily with BSI In­sta-clean sticker re­mover (100H, $8.25). Avail­able in a 2-fl.-oz. pump spray bot­tle, In­sta-clean works on glass, card­board, plas­tic, fiber­glass, and ev­ery­thing else. bsi-inc.com HITEC epower­box | $279.99 A power sup­ply is a great ac­ces­sory to have in any mod­el­ing work­shop be­cause it al­lows you to power a DC field charger on your work­bench. This 1200-watt, 50-amp power sup­ply has an in­put­volt­age range of 100 to 240 volts of AC power and an ad­justable out­put of 15 to 30 volts of DC power. It de­liv­ers ex­actly what you need when­ever you need it. Its easy-to-read back­lit dis­play screen shows volt­age and am­per­age out­put. hite­crcd.com MAXAMPS 1S Multi-charge Adapter $11.99 Charge up to three 1S Lipo packs at once. A great ac­ces­sory to keep in your charg­ing ac­ces­sory box, this par­al­lel-charg­ing adapter is specif­i­cally de­signed for use with Maxamps’ 1S 400mah packs for the pop­u­lar He­li­max 1SQ, 1SQ V-cam, and 1Si series of quad­copters. maxamps.com PROGRESSIVERC Multi-charge Cable | $16.99 Con­structed out of high-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als, this mul­ti­ple con­nec­tor lead in­cludes 18 of the most pop­u­lar con­nec­tor types, all wired in par­al­lel to one set of ba­nana plugs for at­tach­ing to your charger. Heavy­duty 10-AWG sil­i­cone wire makes up the main charge lead, while the in­di­vid­ual con­nec­tor leads use var­i­ous gauges of the same-qual­ity wire. progressiverc.com ZAP Zap-o Foam Safe CA Glue and Kicker | $5.95 & $10.07 If you’re build­ing molded-foam air­planes and need parts to be glued to­gether, look for the pur­ple Zap la­bel. With the same gap-fill­ing prop­er­ties as Zapa-gap CA+, the medium-thick Zap-o for­mula cures in roughly 15 sec­onds and is an odor­less CA. To cure prop­erly, Zap-o Foam Safe CA must be used with Zap Foam Safe Kicker. It also works great on balsa, ply­wood, bass­wood, and most other mod­el­ing and hobby ma­te­ri­als. The glue and kicker combo works great on EPS foam, cell foam, car­bon fiber, foam­board, poly­styrene plas­tic, balsa, and ply­wood. Give Zap-o Foam Safe CA Glue (PT-25, 0.7 oz., $10.07) and the Zap Foam Safe Kicker (PT-28, 2.0 oz., $5.95) a try. They are also great items to keep in your field box for quick-and-easy field re­pairs. frank­tiano.com HOB­BICO Mini Dig­i­tal Ta­chome­ter | $29.99 Hob­bico’s Mini Dig­i­tal Ta­chome­ter pro­vides ac­cu­rate read­ings of dy­namic and peak rpm. The results are dis­played on an easy-to-view back­lit LCD screen. Sim­ply aim the tach at the prop to as­sist in op­ti­miz­ing your power sys­tem. Com­pact in size, the Mini Dig­i­tal Ta­chome­ter takes up very lit­tle space in your field box. It works on 2- to 9-blade pro­pel­lers and mea­sures up to 99,999rpm on a back­lit LCD screen. It in­cludes a CR2032 Li-ion battery. hob­bico.com

TRAKPOWER TK950 Solder­ing Sta­tion | $79.99 For both fine elec­tron­ics and wiring solder­ing as well as heavy-duty sol­der joints for heavy-gauge wire land­ing-gear and wing struts, noth­ing beats a good solder­ing sta­tion. And for a range of work from fine to heavy duty, you need an ad­justable solder­ing sta­tion. The Trakpower TK950 Solder­ing Sta­tion is well made and is a pow­er­ful 60-watt de­sign; more wattage means more heat and quicker heat-up time. It has a tem­per­a­ture-se­lect dial and a heat range of 392°F to 896°F; it has a pre­cise set­ting hold of within 1.8°F when idle. It also has a slen­der, com­fort­ableto-grip in­su­lated han­dle for less hand and wrist fa­tigue. The iron’s power cord is long enough to eas­ily ma­neu­ver around the work­bench for any solder­ing job. The main base unit has a five-year war­ranty, and there’s a one-year war­ranty for the iron han­dle. The TK950 comes with the solder­ing iron, sup­port stand, a clean­ing sponge, the tem­per­a­ture-con­trol unit, plus a chisel point and fine pen­cil tips. trakpowerusa.com E-FLITE Power Me­ter | $44.99 A must-have for any elec­tric pi­lot’s flight box, the E-flite Power Me­ter is de­signed for in-line mon­i­tor­ing for volts, amps, watts, and ca­pac­ity, with a se­lectable dis­play shown on the dig­i­tal LCD screen. This me­ter is de­signed for pi­lots who de­sire ac­cu­rately set up air­planes and max­i­mum per­for­mance. The Power Me­ter comes with EC3 con­nec­tors in­stalled on the me­ter’s leads. Cur­rent dis­play range is 100 to 120 amps, and the volt­age dis­play range is 4 to 50 volts. e-fliterc.com DU-BRO Super Strength Servo Arms | $10.42 to $13.13 Avail­able in sizes to fit all ma­jor brands of stan­dard ser­vos, Du-bro Super Strength Servo Arms are made out of long car­bon-fiber com­pos­ite for added strength. Pack­aged in eight-count bags, they are avail­able for Futaba, Hitec, JR, Airtron­ics, Tower Hob­bies, Hob­bico, and Com­mand ser­vos, and they come in as­sorted lengths to fit your spe­cific setup needs. shop.dubro.com VENOM Pro Quad 100W X4 | $239.99 Fea­tur­ing four in­di­vid­ual charg­ing cir­cuits, the Venom Pro Quad is built in a work­bench-space-sav­ing ver­ti­cal lay­out and is easy to use, with each charg­ing out­put hav­ing its own in­te­grated 100W power sup­ply. In­tended for se­ri­ous elec­tric-air­plane builders who have a large se­lec­tion of battery packs to man­age, the Venom Pro Quad is a mul­ti­ple-chem­istry bat­terycharg­ing sys­tem, which can charge Li-ion, Lipo, LIHV, Life, NIMH, Ni-cd, and lead-acid (Pb) battery types. It mon­i­tors and bal­ances in­di­vid­ual cells within Lipo packs in ei­ther charge or dis­charge mode for up to four 6S Lipo battery packs at a time. It comes with ev­ery­thing you need to start charg­ing all your battery packs, and can also safely charge and dis­charge up to 15-cell NIMH or Ni-cd battery packs. ven­om­power.com FUTABA BR-3000 Battery Checker | $49.99 Great to keep in your flight box, the com­pact Futaba BR-3000 Battery Checker quickly dis­plays volt­age lev­els of battery packs. Easy to use, it shows the to­tal volt­age and re­main­ing ca­pac­ity on a bar graph and as a per­cent­age. It can be used with 2- to 7-cell Life, Lipo, and Li-ion packs as well as 4- to 7-cell Ni-cd and NIMH packs. futabarc.com

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