How does the regular day at an RC workshop starts?
You take all your tools and start building, right?
The right tools can make all the difference in the building process.
A sharp hobby knife is essential for cutting and shaping the materials, such as balsa wood and foam.
Adhesives, such as cyanoacrylate (super glue) and epoxy, are crucial for joining the parts together.
Additionally, sandpaper is necessary for smoothing out any rough edges and surfaces.
Electronic tools, like soldering irons and multimeters, are important for installing and testing the electronics in the glider.
A well-equipped RC tool kit can make the building process much more efficient and enjoyable.
So if you are building something from scratch or assembling an ARF kit, having the right toolkit can help ensure that your RC glider is built to last and perform well in the air.
So in this article, let’s take a look at the ultimate RC Toolkit for every RC glider workshop.
Nice To Have In Every RC Tool Kit
Since every hobbyist understands the importance of a sharp hobby knife and a precision screwdriver, I’ll leave my recommendations on these to the end.
You can check them out in the last section of this article.
Instead, let’s start with the things you might be thinking about but haven’t got yet.
Xiaomi Mi Precision Screwdriver Set (24bits)
You will need screwdrivers for a lot of purposes, i.e. installing a servo, taking apart a radio transmitter, fixing a servo arm in place, etc.
And each task, usually, will require a dedicated screw bit to fit the proper screws.
Since usually, these are small in size, a mini screwdriver set with 24 bits will cover most of your needs and will save some space for the other tools as well.
A Hobby Cutting Mat
A lot of RC glider pilots sometimes underestimate the importance of a quality cutting mat in their workbench.
In reality, this is not only an extra layer that saves your desk but also a way to keep your knife blades sharp for longer.
Usually, these cutting mats have multiple layers and the top one is relatively soft and doesn’t influence the sharp edge of the knife blade while cutting. Especially compared to the wood or laminating materials of the work desk.
At the same time, it helps with rough measuring of masking tape, thread, etc, while building via the guidelines printed on the surface. This may quickly play a part of a ruler, or an angle ruler when you need it and it’s always at hand.
Cutting mats come in different sizes, so you can easily pick the one that will fit your desk well.
Master Airscrew Razor Plane & Spare Blades
A wood plane is a tool used for shaping and smoothing wood surfaces and comes extremely useful while assembling balsa glider kits. Get one for yourself along with a set of spare blades in case you are planning to build a glider with solid control surfaces.
It will make shaping of these parts very fast and accurate.
The best application method is to get the basic shape done with a plane and then, finish the surface with fine sandpaper.
The #1 recommendation here is a unit provided by Master Airscrew.
Mute FPV Solder Practice Board
To be honest, you won’t need to know how to solder building the most of RC gliders on the market.
Especially if you buy Receiver-Ready models 😉
Usually, you can use servo extensions, pre-pinned receivers, etc, but when you will need to switch the connector or repair a wire…
As well as with the smaller DLGs, sometimes you will need to remove the pins from the receiver and solder your servos right on the Rx board to save space and weight and fit everything into a tiny fuselage.
So you will need to know how to solder right.
And with this task, get a practice board to train your soldering skills with something dumb, and not ruin your expensive electronics instead.
DuPont (BLS) Connector Crimp Tool
A crimper or a crimp tool will help you make up connectors, just like JR-style, your servos usually have from the factory.
It is extremely helpful for creating full-house glider wing harnesses, like the one used for Maverick Electric Glider.
Make sure to get one that is capable of crimping 1.3mm wide connectors.
26-30AWG Silicon Servo Cable
In case you would like to create custom length and configuration servo extensions, you will need some cables.
One of the easiest ways to source good quality servo cables or pigtails (cables with a connector on one end) is to get long servo extensions, say 500mm or 700mm long. And cut them according to your needs.
On the other side, you can just have a roll of a single conductor silicon cable of various colors and use it instead.
In the last case, you can play around with colors as you like as well 😉
DuPont (BLS, BLD) Connectors
And to complete the kit for making your own RC glider wing harnesses you will definitely need some connectors, compatible with the ones your servos have.
There are some various configurations of these connectors, check the pin count, male-female parts, etc., and get what you need.
My common choice is a single conductor, and 3-, 4-, 6-pin single row, and 8-pin in two rows for various tasks.
Arduino Nano Board
Nowadays some of the drone part offer so good quality for the money that a lot of them are used in RC gliders.
Especially, drone motors and ESCs are often used in F5K gliders and other small models like Shaka Flying Wing.
If the use of the motors is pretty straightforward, some drone ESCs are running advanced BLHeli_32 software and can have a lot of settings configured.
While in drones there are Flight Controllers handling the connection to the ESC, in RC gliders we usually don’t have these.
And this is where Arduino Nano Board steps into the scene.
It can play a role of an FC creating an interface for accessing the ESC settings and programming. With its help you will be able to set up breaks, cut-off voltage, motor timing, configure ESC to work through SBus, and even set up a custom startup tone😉
Get yourself one in case you would like to explore the full capabilities of your RC glider ESC.
A Kevlar Thread
Gluing the servos to the fuselage of a DLG can be challenging and there are a few approaches to it.
Some people are scrubbing the casing and gluing it straight on, the rest are using some other techniques.
My preference is wrapping the servo body with masking tape and adding a few lines of thin kevlar thread on top of it before gluing it in place.
This way it makes it way easier to replace the servo if needed by cutting the thread and the masking tape. After it, the servo just slips out of its place freeing up the space for a spare one.
So it’s good to have at least some kevlar thread in the workshop as well.
RC Glider Repair Kit
In case you would ever need to repair a composite RC glider, first, you should have the skills to do so, and second, you will need the right materials to use.
Since RC gliders are lightweight and strong, there is a specific set of materials used in the construction.
The best way to get these materials for repair is to get them from a manufacturer.
So, if you’ll ever need a spread carbon cloth or a Rohacel brick to repair your damaged wing, pick up an RC Glider Repair Kit early to have the materials in place.
Practical Electronic Devices
ToolkitRC M7 Multifunctional Charger
If you are flying RC gliders, you would definitely need a battery charger to top up your flight packs either at home or in the field.
But since the recent technology developed, the market now is full of multifunctional devices, which ToolkitRC M7 is.
This is a battery charger, servo tester, signal measuring device, ESC tester, configurable power supply, and the list can go on.
Also, considering the reasonable price of this device, it’s hard to beat the features packed in it with separate items specified in all these.
There are also more and less powerful ones, depending on your needs, and some with a built-in AC power supply which will be great for the workbench.
So you can easily pick the one that suits your needs best.
SC100 cable by Toolkit RC
If you will get ToolkitRC M7 or other portable chargers that require a DC power input, then the SC100 USB-C to XT60 cable will be a great addition.
With its help of it, you will turn any USB-C power supply in your house into a power source for your charger.
Also, it can work backward and power up your USB-C devices from an M7 or other ToolkitRC charger where you would configure the exact Current and Voltage.
GaN Wall Charger with USB-C
To complement the above, get yourself a GaN wall charger.
GaN chargers are power adapters that use Gallium Nitride (GaN) as the main component to convert AC power into DC power.
GaN chargers are smaller, lighter, and more efficient than traditional silicon-based chargers, making them well-suited for use in a variety of applications, including mobile devices, laptops, and other portable electronics.
Some of the GaN chargers listed below feature a USB-C interface with Power Delivery (PD) protocol and are capable of providing 20V 3.2A.
This will be enough to charge most of the LiPo batteries used in RC gliders as well as your other USB-C compatible devices like Pinecil Soldering Iron, or your laptop.
Pinecil V2 Soldering Iron
A soldering iron is another must-have tool for soldering wires, servos, receivers, sensors, flight controllers, and any other RC electronics.
There is a variety of choices here, but with the raise of portable soldering irons that can work from various power sources, I strongly recommend Pinecil by Pine64.
It is powerful up to 88W and portable to work both at a workshop and at the field.
For the last option, it can work out of the USB-C PD capable power bank or a 3-6S Lipo. Isn’t it great?
Fine Digital Scale
A digital scale is one of the things that you will only need to find out the weight of your complete model 😉
Jokes aside, if you are planning to work with composite materials, carbon fiber, fiberglass, epoxy resin, etc, the fine digital scale will be the first tool you’ll ever use. Epoxy is very sensitive to the proportions you mix it with and scales will help you do it right.
We recommend choosing some with a fine sensitivity for these tasks.
On the other side, if you are trying to roughly understand how light your complete glider is, the kitchen scale will do the job just fine. And if you haven’t got them in your kitchen, it’s a good time to get them and make your wife a little happier 😉
CA glue, also known as cyanoacrylate glue, is a type of fast-drying and strong adhesive that is commonly used in RC glider building.
There are three main types of it: Thin, Medium, and Thick.
The main feature of a Thin CA is the ability to soak through the materials it’s applied to. I.e. when you apply a good drop of a thin CA on the balsa wood, it will immediately disappear, as the wood will soak it.
This can be used when you need to deliver glue to places that are hard, or even impossible to reach. Say, gluing a T-peg into a wing of a DLG.
Medium CA is often used when you need the most accurate application, and have good control over the amount of glue to apply. This and any other type of CA is great for sticking different materials to each other, say:
- Metal to wood
- Wood to Carbon
- Plastic to wood
Lastly, a thick CA is great for making fillets and sticking big parts together.
Recently, pilots started also using a CA glue to remove slops in their pushrod linkages as it doesn’t stick to smooth and glossy surfaces. Like music wires or plastic servo arms.
A combination of CA glue can also remove slops on pushrod connections, so it’s always good to have a tube both in a workshop and at the flying field.
A CA Kicker
CA glue cures fast, however, sometimes it can be just a little not enough fast for glider building 😉
This is where the CA Kicker steps in. This is usually a splay that you can apply either on the CA you just applied or on the area that will contact the other with applied CA glue.
CA Kicker makes CA glue cure immediately, leaving no strains, and securing your connection in seconds.
Comes very handy for quick repairs or assembling the parts of your glider in the fastest way.
An Epoxy Resin
Epoxy resin is another common adhesive used in RC glider building, known for its strong bonding properties.
For small tasks, like gluing the control horns or a firewall the 5-minute or 30-minute epoxy will do the job great!
However, in case you are into more complicated stuff like wing molding there is a bunch of various epoxy resin variations to fit your purpose.
A Goop Glue
Goop glue is more a universal glue, so it’s commonly used for cable management inside the fuse and other secondary purposes.
Also can be great to support the torsion springs inserted into the control surfaces.
A Masking Tape
Masking tape is used for temporarily holding parts in place while the glue dries. It doesn’t leave the sticky glue strains on the surface and is easy to remove.
It is also useful for marking and labeling parts during construction without damaging the original details.
3M Blenderm Tape
Great for hinges on foam and some balsa models and can also fix a hole in the wing on a field quickly and securely. Make sure to get a roll laying in an easy-to-reach place.
Lastly, here are the basics that literally every hobbyist should have in their RC tool kit.
- A Hobby Knife & Blades
- An Office or Box Cutting Knife & Blades
- A Set Of Pliers w/ Heavy SideCutters
- A Fine Side Cutters
- A Metal Ruler
- A Set of Fine Diamond Files
- A Sandpaper
- A Hand Drill
- A Hand Saw
To sum up, all these are just a fraction of the tools, devices, and supplies that you can have in your workshop.
Experiment, choose what you like the most and please, share your favorite items in the comments to this article.
Happy building and see ya at the field!