Information Page: Applies to all kits, each kit has it’s own specific build instructions but read this page first. Please note you must be comfortable flying an aileron controlled fixed wing RC aircraft that flies around 60 mph before you attempt fly one of these kits.
If you are looking for kit instructions go HERE:
Items needed for assembly:
Foam safe CA+ with accelerator for most glue joints. I use Bob Smith super gold + with the black cap. You must use a foam safe CA and test on scrap if not using the recommended brand.
Items needed for flight: (these are what I use and recommend, there are always cheaper components but I have not tried them, I use what works for me, saving $20 on servos on a model with $150-$200 invested is not worth it to me)
Depending on the model you may also need 2 servo extensions from 12″ to 24″ length to mount the receiver in the nose cone or forward end of the body tube which helps CG and also makes it easy to attach the battery and access the receiver if needed. Try to avoid heavy weight wiring if possible. These extensions can be found online, or at most hobby shops. The length depends on the model and the length of your servo wire.
These are the best I’ve found and are are very inexpensive, lightweight and have clips that prevent the wire from slipping out of the servo plug,
You may notice some of the foam has a bit of waviness or some small dents/dings, on the surface, that’s just the way they make it, I try to put any blemishes on the bottom of the wing so it isn’t noticable. I’ve also chosen the best surface to be UP, and put the spar on the bottom of the wings, if you see the black spar that’s the bottom of the wing.
Finishing Materials and painting:
The kit tubes, cones and foam are white and do not require painting. Any pictures you see of my prototypes that are white are unpainted to save weight. I have personally used and recommend ONLY model master and testors enamel small rattle can paints. If you are masking over painted foam, the tape tends to pull up the paint, in addition when you tape over the foam and remove it it pulls a bit of surface skin off the foam surface and even when using model master paint, if you try to touch up or spray over the foam it can eat into it, and will show up as a different texture. So, I avoid color schemes that require masking over painted foam or painting where you have applied tape and removed it. You need to be careful not to spray too close or the spray solvents can melt the foam. Use many light coats, not one heavy one. If you have an airbrush, acrylic water based paint should work but I’ve not personally used it.
I use self adhesive vinyl for accents on my personal models I buy in sheets from Stickershock23.com. They also make the excellent cut vinyl markings that I designed for my kits. I’ve tried to keep the decal design and prices reasonable so the decals may not have every little detail I put on my prototypes.. The link to the specific kit decals is included in the kit directions page. It comes on transfer paper, you need to press and carefully roll the transfer paper back, not pull straight up or it will pull the marking and/or paint off. Once applied, use a hot hair dryer to heat and press the markings down to set and secure them. Do NOT apply markings over the blenderm tape if painted, it will pull off the paint. Stickershock can customize colors and include extra markings, just contact him.
To add a little extra detail you can use sharpie pens and a straight edge to draw panel lines and details lightly on the foam.
It’s recommened using ONLY the single use or reloadable 24mm E-6 motor in all but the full fuse X-15 1/14 and 1/21 scale kits, since it gives the slowest and easiest to control boost. The reloadable motors are easy to use, just grease the inside of the case, o-ring, and forward end of the propellent and outside of the liner(I use synthetic SuperLube) , insert propellent, insert nozzle, insert o-ring, screw shut. I use a baby/handy wipe and paper towel to clean inside the case every three flights or so or after I’m done flying. Here’s a video showing how to reload the 24mm aerotech motor. Single use are more expensive but you don’t need the special RC casing.
See the Ordering Tab above for ordering kits and motors.
Installing igniters into your E-6 rocket motors:
The igniters for these motors are small and it is easy to damage the tip if you aren’t careful. I don’t carry spares and Aerotech charges a lot for them. You need to secure the igniter in place, touching the propellent and keeping it from blowing out on initial firing before it truly lights the propellent. You also need to make sure the leads don’t pull the igniter out and that you don’t block the small nozzle but that the igniter can pull out when the model lifts off. These motors don’t have a large thrust spike so if you use too much tape it can actually yank the model instead of releasing it. I simply insert the igniter carefully till it just touches the bottom of the propellent slot, and then fold the igniter back over the nozzle and secure it with a 1/8″ wide strip of masking tape and make one and a half wraps around the nozzle. This holds it securely but makes sure the igniter can pull out after liftoff.
This video shows loading the 18mm D-2.3 rocket motor and igniters:
For the 1/21 scale X-15 I recommend the reloadable 18mm D-24 or D-13 motors with the plugged forward closure. If you have older D-21 or D-10 single use motors, those will work as well but you need to make sure you seal off the forward end of the motor after removing any ejection charge to make sure any burn-through of the delay does NOT melt the internal foam structure.
DO NOT USE BLACK POWDER or More powerful composite motors in these kits!! Most kits are designed specifically for the E-6 because it has a gentle burn rate and keeps the speeds around 60mph/88fps or less. The models are much easier to control on boost.
- I would never trust one of the estes 24mm BP motors as I’ve just seen too many fail and Estes won’t replace your RC model:) I’ve never had a reloadable e6 motor fail in over one thousand flights
- Epoxy plugging bp motors is not manufacturer approved and so not NAR/TRA legal. AMA approved flying sites require the use of unmodified commercial motors.
- I would definitely not use composite E-11/E-12/F-12/E-18/E-20/E-15 P-W motors because the speeds expected with those motors are twice what you get with the E-6 and you risk flutter and the boost is so fast it’s very hard to control. Due to drag of the large wings and the light weight of the kits, higher thrust motors do not yield higher boost altitudes.
Here is what happens when you use a 24mm Estes black powder motor and it fails…
Notes on radio equipment and flight battery(many radios will work, this is what I use and know will work)
Flight battery: I recommend a 500mah 1s lipo battery for power, this will work if you use the recommended receiver and servos. I would not go smaller than 500mah, the model is designed to balance with that battery in place and it will give you plenty of margin for many flights.
The kit comes with an adapter wire to connect a red jst connector from that battery to the receiver via an RX plug. Your kit may come with a pre-assembled wire. At this time, I’m unable to get these pre-built at a reasonable cost any more so I will provide the JST connector and the RX connector and you must solder the red to red and black to black yourself. If you use a battery with a different plug then you can solder that plug to the RX connector. For kits that come with the separate wires I’ll also include the opposite polarity connector for adapting to your charger if you don’t have a jst adapter for your charger.
Transmitter: I use a DX8gen2 radio, but the new DX6 has most of the same features, 250 model memory, mixing, flap switch for glide trim…pretty inexpensive. These models require mixing of the aileron/elevator channels to provide control. Simple 2-5 channel radios usually do not provide this feature. You also need to be able to put in trim for glide. The 6 channel radios and higher usually include both the mixing feature and the ability to program up trim on the flap switch which allows easy setting/resetting of the glide and boost trim position on a switch.
Receivers. I fly spektrum and use the full range micro AR410 receiver.
These receivers can run with 3.5V or better input so a larger capacity 1S battery(500mah) works fine. Servos may run a tad slower but not enough to matter in this application. The kits come with an adapter wire to connect a red jst battery connector to your receiver, if you use a different battery wtih alternate plug you will need to provide your own.
Radio Install Video:(radio install is nearly identical in all of my kits other than actual placement of the servos)
Launch Pad and Controller: The igniters need a good high amperage 11-12v source, I made my own using a 2100mah 3S lipo battery pack I had from one of my RC planes that allows me to launch by myself, but one of the pratt hobbies controllers or Aerotech controllers available, for example: Pratt Hobbies controller that can attach to a car/motorcycle type 12v battery will work, however it will require a second person for launching since you need your hands free for controlling the model.
For flying at my local RC field I made a very simple pad. Since I boost straight up and then can steer into the wind if needed I didn’t need any angle adjustment. I simply used 2″ sch. 40 black abs pipe available from the local home depot, with legs about 2′ long with end caps on one end and put some threaded ends on the other. I bought a “+” shaped intersection and put threaded couplers into each inlet of the intersection. That way I can screw the legs in or take them out for transport. To mount the rail I bought a 8″ by 1/2″ bolt. I drilled through the intersection in the middle for the bolt to pass all the way through and secured it with a nut and washers. I used two hose clamps to clamp the rail to the bolt in two places. The bolt naturally tends nest in the rail slot and keep it straight. I put another 1″ hose clamp on the rail about 1 foot up from the bottom to keep the rocket exhaust off the ground and snugged it up tight, the model will stop against the screw portion of the hose clamp, and the E-6 motors don’t make a lot of flame so I don’t use a blast plate.
Notes on Flying
It is recommended you use a 6′ rail to launch your model to avoid any flex/whip which can happen with a rod. If you do use a rod, make sure it is at least a 6′ 1/4″ rod to give sufficient airspeed on launch, you’ll need to add a 1/4″ launch lug to the model centered on the CG location at least 5″ long. The rail buttons are designed to be used with standard 1010 rail that can be purchased online and from the 80/20 corporation on ebay/amazon.
*While these models are very easy to fly and boost, they are not intended for a novice flyer. Initial flights may require minor trimming to be done both for boost and for glide. It is best to use one of the low thrust long burn motors for these initial trim flights to give time to react to any trim adjustments needed. It is best to have an experienced R/C pilot do the initial flights/trim and fly with a buddy box with you for subsequent flights until you are comfortable. Even though they boost with little to no input once trimmed, do not assume that you can leave your radio off and/or not touch the controls. It is hard to judge winds aloft and you must be ready to keep the model boosting straight if needed. I prefer to launch away from the wind as it prevents the model from blowing back at you during lunch, don’t let the model get too far down wind however make sure you keep the model going relatively straight up, and turn into the wind as soon as the motor is burned out.
Turn on your transmitter and then receiver. Install a loaded motor. Ensure your balance is still correct and all control surfaces are in the correct position for boost and are moving the right direction.
Check your glide trim setting is correct if you have that on a switch, but make sure you switch to boost setting for launch!
Be sure to use a standoff with at least 12” from the blast deflector or pad to avoid any hot particles from bouncing back and melting the foam.
Do not put the standoff directly below the nozzle for the same reason.
I prefer to launch downwind, that way the model tends to pitch away from you instead of toward you and makes it easier to control, simply roll into the wind once you get some altitude. Try to do initial flights in zero wind conditions to make sure trim is correct before trying windy days. In extreme winds greater than 10mph the model may bind on the rail due to the force of the wind on the wings, try to wait for a lull in the gusts before launching.
Once the model boosts, react quickly in either pitch or roll to keep the model pointed straight up or slightly away from you so you can see it. As the model reaches apogee, push the model over to level flight to keep flight speed and then switch in the trim setting. If you let the model get away from you it can get very small quickly and be very hard to determine orientation. Sometimes it helps to turn yourself in the direction of the flight of the model to avoid getting confused. For the first flight you may have some roll or pitch trim that needs to be set for boost and/or glide depending on how straight you built your model. Adjust as needed.
Once gliding, circle your landing spot while not banking too sharply which causes the model to lose altitude. Do not let the model get too slow till you have a feel for how it flies. Set up for landing into the wind. If you find you are slightly high, it is better to make gradual S turns back and forth keeping the model pointed into the wind slightly to lose altitude and avoid a downwind turn. When about 20 feet off the ground start to level the model and let it settle, if it gets too slow, push the nose forward slightly. About two feet off the ground pull back slightly to flare and soften the landing. If you have a model with fully movable surfaces it is a good idea when landing on grass to relax the up elevator just before touchdown to prevent the tips of the controls from catching on the grass/dirt and damaging them. It may take some time to judge your landing spot so fly in an large open space till you are confident in your landings. If you keep the model overhead you can always adjust your altitude with S turns. If you let the model get very far away it can be hard to judge orientation. If there is a headwind, launch up wind and make sure not to go too far downwind or you won’t be able to make it back to the launch site.
Be sure to check the controls, battery attachment, wires, launch lug or buttons before each new flight to be sure nothing loosened.
If you have any slight damage you can use the spare depron to repair it. Simply cut the damaged piece out, cut a new piece, insert and glue in place. You can use the blenderm tape to give extra strength if needed. If the depron gets cracked, and it is a clean break, you can re-glue and tape as well.
Can I learn to fly RC using a rocket glider? Short answer is not really, unfortunately. Even though these are relatively easy to fly, they don’t have an on off switch and you need to do some trimming during the first few flights. It is nearly impossible for a new flyer to keep his left/right straight while trying to trim a model going 60 mph straight up in a few seconds. There are a few micro rocket gliders available that can boost hands off and have only yaw/pitch control, but flight times are very short and it’s hard to gain the skills you need in that short of a time. If you have an rc club near you, you could have someone experienced do the first few flights for you to get it trimmed, but you still should fly with assistance/a buddy cord till you are confident. There is simply no point in destroying a nice model learning how to fly. If you have no help or clubs nearby I recommend the eflite radian or radian umx. The latter is a smaller lighter/cheaper version, it can’t be flown in much wind though due to the light weight. These are good models to learn to fly with and when you have confidence in your abilities, you can move to rocket gliders. If you get the spektrum radio suggested in my information page it will be usable for these models and rocket gliders.
When flying, practice chopping the throttle and doing deadstick landings, judging your decent rate and airspeed beause that’s what you will have to do when flying the rocket gliders. You should still have someone experienced help you set up and do the first trim flights if you aren’t comforable. Simulators are also a good way to get experience. I’ve found that it really helps when people are trying to learn. When I was doing instructing, people that would come back for lessons each week that were doing simulator practice often had improved their flying skills, while others had to re-gain a bit each time they came back. One thing I feel though, is that simulators, as good as they are, aren’t great at helping landings, since it is very difficult on a simulator to judge distance and perspective/altitude, but they are great tools.
RC rocket gliders should be flown responsibly as you cannot turn off the motor after ignition. Do not fly in front of large crowds and in high wind until you have trimmed your model. Here is the NAR recommended safety code .