There are different types of support equipment need for R/C this article will concentrate on field equipment needed to
fly your plane once its built and ready to go.
The Field Box. You will need a field box to hold all the support equipment needed to run and maintain your plane at the field. The
first field box I ever used was a cardboard box with all my R/C equipment contained inside. I then progressed to a fishing
tackle box for some time, but finally broke down and bought a dedicated R/C field box. If a cardboard box or fishing tackle
box is what you use or start out with fine. There are some other great options though. Your local hobby store or on-line retailer
has field boxes especially designed for R/C use. There are many shapes and sizes to chose from. Remember one thing. The larger
the box, the heavier it is to carry. Field boxes are a personal choice, buy what you want or what will work best for you.
A large box can hold a lot of tools for field repair. A small box is light and carries the bare essentials. They range from
small boxes with one slide out drawer, a spot that will hold your fuel, power panel and some props, to a large box that has
fold out legs, special holding clamps to cradle your plane during assembly or maintenance and enough drawers and space to
hold most of your building equipment.
Power Panel. Most field boxes have an opening cut out on one side or in the middle for a power panel. When combined with a 12volt
power supply, It will distribute power to your electric field equipment. Though you’ll only need one of these if you
plan to run power to items like Glow power clip, electric fuel pumps, electric starters or battery charges. Most of the electric
support equipment offer other options which doesn’t require a power panel.
12 Volt Battery. If you chose to run a power panel, then it will need a power source. There is room usual under the power panel to
house a small 12volt motorcycle battery or one of the gel-cell types. Gel-cells are a nice safety feature, if the flight box
is turned over, there is no battery acid to spill on you or your car.
Electric Starter or Chicken Stick. An electric starter is a nice luxury. It uses 12volt power from ether a power panel or even your
car battery and spins the propeller to start the motor. When a motor is very cold or even very hot, they can be difficult
to start with a chicken stick. The electric starter will save your arm form a good workout. Most electric starters can be
outfitted with a rechargeable battery system that is attached to the bottom of the starter itself making it cordless. This
save the hassle of having to hook up to your power panel or automotive battery to start your plane and like a cordless phone,
opens up a world of freedom. A wooden dowel or chicken stick as most call them, can be used to flip the prop over starting
the motor also. A 9 to 12inch section cut from a garden hose works well.
Ni Starter Or Power Clip. A glow driver clips on to the motors glow plug and helps with starting the motor. Glow drivers have built in rechargeable
batteries freeing you from having to draw power from a power panel. A power clip is a long lead of wires with a glow plug
adapter much like a glow driver. The wires attach to a power panel. These work just fine, but are not a safe as a glow driver.
The wires can become entangled with the prop and has been know to short the field box battery. always be sure to keep the
wires clear if you use a power clip.
Fuel Pump. You need a way to get fuel form the fuel bottle to the planes tank. There are several type of fuel pumps available to the
R/C modeler. And electric fuel pump is easy to use, but there are some draw backs. If the field battery dies, you can’t
fuel your plane. less expensive fuel pumps tend to burn out and you lose more fuel as it jets out of the vent line when the
fuel tank is full. They do make fueling quick and easy though and a quality pump will last many a session. There are the hand
crank pumps. Turning a handle draws fuel from the bottle and in to the tank, simple easy and reliable. Inside the hand crank
pump is usual a polyurethane tube with a rotating wheel. As the wheel squeezes the tube from front to back it draws fuel in
or when you turn the crank the opposite direction draws fuel out. This mechanical turning action will eventually ware and
create pinholes in the draw tube. Even more reliable are the squeeze pump bulbs. The squeeze bulb is simple to use, it has
a ball bearing inside so when the bulb is held up and squeezed it fills the tank. Turn it upside down and it will empty your
tank. Each squeeze delivers about 1 ½ half ounces of fuel. If you use a very large tank ( like gas planes) again you have
a work out ahead. On the other hand there is no battery power needed or to die at the wrong time.( like when you want to fly)
They also seem to last quite a long time. Mine has lasted over 12years and is still working as well as the day I bought it.
4 way wrench. A 4 way wrench looks like a mini cross bar used to remove lug-nuts from a cars rim. It comes with the most popular
sizes to remove glow plugs, different size prop nuts and socket head wing bolts. The simplicity of this tool makes it a must
have. Though you can use a socket set, when using a socket set it is to easy to strip the glow plug threads in the motor head,
crush the balsa with wing bolts and even the prop hub which weakens small wooden props. With a 4 way wrench you get a much
better feel as to how much pressure is applied while tightening prop nuts or glow plugs. Some 4 way wrenches will also carry
extra glow plugs, this is a nice feature.
Small, Medium and Large Screw Drivers. Small screw drivers like the inexpensive jewelers
type are needed to adjust the low end needle valve (usually a straight edge) or mini servos (usually a Phillips) a medium
sized Phillips is needed to remove servo screws. Large screw drivers (usually straight edge) may be needed for wing bolts.
Glow Plugs. Not much to say here. The minute you don’t have an extra glow plug
or two. You will need one.
Extra Props. Again, the minute you don’t have an extra prop or two.
You will need one. Especially when your learning to land. There are many props on the market. Wood props offer the best response
time when throttling up, but are much easier to break then other types. Nylon props are softer, but very durable and withstand
more abuse. Nylon glass fiber reinforced props are strong and have a much better response time when throttling up then just
Prop Balancer. Every prop you use should be balanced before installing it
on your motor. This save wear and tear on your motor, radio electronics, plane structure and may cause your fuel to foam in
the fuel tank if you don't. Fuel foaming will cause your motor to lean out and make it almost impossible to set your motor
for reliable operation.
These are the basic essentials. There are other items that you’ll find useful at the field. Look
at the different options available to you and make a choice as to what you want to use. the main point to this hobby is to
have fun. I use items that make things simple or easy. This will cost a little more, but can be built up as time and money
My personal choices are this: Medium sized field box made for R/C, this is really up
to you! A box or fishing tackle box will work great. Glow plug driver, easy to maintain, fits in your pocket and no wires
to get entangled with the prop. 4 way prop wrench with glow plug holders, makes life much easier. Dubro E/Z fill fuel pump,
simple to use and does not require power or batteries. Will also last a very, very, very, very long time. Electric starter
with rechargeable battery pack. Like a wireless phone, makes life easy. 4 step prop reamer, has always had every size I’ve
needed, form glow motors to medium sized gas engines. APC props are some of the best props I’ve used. I use these on
every plane, with the exception of 3D planes without landing gear. Nylon props are weaker and do not have the quick response
time that I get form APC. Nylon props are much, much harder to break and I use them on planes that are not equipped with landing
gear. e.g. flying wings. Since I use support equipment that does needs power form a field box. I do not use a power panel.
This makes my field box much lighter and easier to carry.