After a successful build of an Air Hogs foam glider to RC, I decided to create another foam glider airplane only this time using electric ducted fans (EDFs) that I pulled from 2 Kyosho Illusion kits. The inspiration for this build comes from my fascination with the NASA B-57 Canberra research plane.
This build was done under a tight budget with the goal of making this conversion happen using as much of my own existing materials as possible. The total build cost was approximately $45 because I had to purchase 2 additional 30amp brushless ESC speed controllers. The build materials I used were:
- Store-bought foam glider
- Two (2) 45mm EDF motors (Kyosho Illusion units)
- Two (2) Hobby King 30A ESC 3A UBEC
- Two (2) Hitech micro servos
- 2200mAh 11.1v LiPo Battery
- Scotch Heavy-Duty strapping tape
- 5-minute hobby-grade epoxy
I hope you find this how-to build information useful when venturing to create your own RC foam airplane.
The fuselage design was more complex because this foam glider had a much thinner fuselage profile than my previous Air Hogs kit. To make room for the electronics and battery, I had to build a belly pod. This worked to my advantage because the belly pod not only created a perfect grip for hand launching it also kept the EDF motors clear from ground debris on landing. I strengthened the pod with balsa wood sides because after coring the foam for the battery and electronics, it became too thin and brittle. Coupled with wrapping it in packing tape, the belly pod is now very strong and very durable.
I decided to use two 45mm ducted fan units (EDF) as my power plants for this build which were leftover from past Kyosho Illusion kits that I owned. Although it looks simple, coming to a solution was not. The challenge is that most EDF systems I’ve seen were installed inside the aircraft or inside a large foam housing unit. I had neither. Additionally, I wanted to be able to quickly remove the EDFs for other projects so adhering the motors directly to the fuse was not an option I wanted to entertain. My solution for a motor mount came in the form of a paper towel cardboard tube that I wrapped around the motor.
Additional Build Items
The following photos show close-up shots of the battery bay, ESC installation for the motors, and the wooden servo horns I made from popsicle sticks. For those questioning why I mounted the ESCs the way I did, the reason was simple: No room. The upshot? I know for certain that overheated ESCs will not likely be an issue.
The maiden flight of the twin-engine EDF went as well as could be expected. As you can see in the video, the aircraft’s center of gravity (CG) needs further testing. Additionally, I’m not sure if the issues are
- too little power from the motors or,
- severe drag from the design of the glider but, at full throttle, I was simply staying afloat.
My plan is to adjust the wings leading edge (LE) to create a more streamlined wing geometry thus, hoping to increase lift. I’m hoping this design adjustment will also allow for a heavier payload (e.g., larger batteries) which, would equal longer flights.
After a few more test flights, I began to wonder how much of these EDFs flight issues were related to the wings leading edge. Compared to the Air Hogs wing, this model’s leading edge was far more rudimentary. I decided to re-shape the leading edge, re-affix the wing, and give it another try. The flight with the new reshaped wing performed far better than any flights to date.
Unfortunately, the EDFs that I’m using don’t make the cut with regards to power, however, this plane is still fun to fly even if it’s slower than I had anticipated.😄