Starlite (oz14236)


Starlite (oz14236) by Tom Herr 1999 - plan thumbnail

About this Plan

Starlite. Radio control sport plane, for electric power. Mini RC Backyard Flyer. Wingspan 36 in, wing area 216 sq in. For Wes-Technik DC5-2.4 motor with 1:8.3 gearing.

Direct submission to Outerzone.

Note this plan is available as a free download from the (now defunct) RC Micro Flight site, see for a working link to the original GIF and DXF plan files.

Article is available online at:

Quote: "Hurricane Floyd was battering us with 85 mph winds as I finished the prototype StarLITE and it had been several frustrating days waiting for the weather to cooperate enough to allow me to make the first flight. Finally the sky was clear, calm and the first rays of the sun piercing the morning sky. Not having a proper charger for the Ni-Cd batteries I had planned on using I decided to make the first flights using a 9-volt lithium pack.

The parking lot at work was deserted as I advanced the throttle and the StarLITE leaped into the air. Climbing quickly above the light poles and palm trees my concerns about having enough power to fly vanished. After a little trimming the model settled down into level flight at something less than half throttle. The controls responded well as the model circled and flew figure-8s. It was a simple matter to stay within the50' by 150' area that was free of obstructions.

Caught up with flying the StarLITE and talking to people coming into work I was not initially aware of how long the model had been in the air. I looked down at the timer that was clipped to my shirtsleeve and was surprised to see that the model had been airborne for just over 20 minutes. There was still plenty of power available to climb and half throttle would still maintain level flight. I decided to see how long I could keep the model in the air.

At the one-hour mark I started to think about landing. The parking lot was now full and the sun was well above the horizon. A slight breeze had picked up and I was keeping the model slightly above rooftop level to avoid any turbulence.

Finally, even though there was still plenty of power available, the sea breeze started to strengthen and it was time to land. The turbulence rocked the model gently as the throttle came back. Control was still precise as the model was guided down between the rows of parked cars. Just a touch of power was needed to reach the intended landing area. The StarLITE touched down gently and rolled to a stop in less than one fuselage length. As I reached to stop the timer I was surprised to see that it was showing a total flight time of one hour and 25 minutes. This was without a doubt the longest first flight that I had ever made and the model flew better than predicted.

The next day I decided to see what the maximum flight time would be with the lithium batteries. The flight started earlier to minimize any wind problems later in the flight. This second flight on the model lasted one hour and 47 minutes. The model still had plenty of power left but the flight was ended owing to concerns about the transmitter battery life. I feel that with higher capacity transmitter batteries the model could easily fly nonstop for three hours or more on the lithium battery pack. Subsequent flights with the Ni-Cd packs produced 5-minute flights with the 7-cell pack and up to ten minutes with the 8-cell pack.

The basic design concept of the StarLITE was to build a small conventional looking backyard flyer. The airframe is built using mostly traditional materials and techniques. The lightweight and excellent performance is realized by careful wood selection and from the use of some rather amazingly small airborne electronics combined with a highly efficient motor and propeller. In fact, the quality, size, performance and reliability of the radio and power system used are truly remarkable. The receiver used is the Sky Hooks & Rigging RX72-HYB (reviewed by Don Edberg in this issue of RC MicroFlight). This postage stamp sized 4-channel unit weighs only 4 grams and features a built-in electronic speed control with BEC function. Hitec HS-50 Feather servos were chosen for their light weight and small size. These servos provide the precise control needed to maneuver small models in limited areas. The WES-Technik 5-2.4 1A power system has an 8.3:1 gear reduction and turns a 23X12 cm carbon fiber propeller. This combination runs very smooth, produces plenty of power and is highly efficient.

Several different airborne battery packs may be used with good results. Traditional 50mAh Ni-Cd packs with 7 or 8 cells will power the model well for regular flying. For maximum duration flights use a pack made from 3 CR2 lithium cells rated at 750mAh. These are 3-volt cells which bring the pack to 9 volts. These cells are not rechargeable but you could also use the Tadiran lithium cells that are rechargeable. The initial flights of the StarLITE were made using lithium batteries because of the lack of a charger for the 50mAh Ni-Cd packs and the search for a suitable unit was surprisingly difficult. I therefore jury-rigged a system to charge the batteries, noting to myself, after some investigation and a few phone calls, that a number of vendors will shortly bring suitable chargers for these small packs to market. (Editor's note: see the AstroFlight 110 charger noted in our Micro Scoop section in this issue - AstroFlight comments that it safely peak charges 50mAh packs at 100mA or 200mA charge rates).

Construction: Building the StarLITE is rather simple. Carefully select light weight wood and use traditional model airplane cement such as Testors or Sigment for construction. CA glue should not be used for general construction as it will add too much weight and makes sanding difficult on the small sizes of wood used in this model. CA may be used to glue the landing gear, elevator joiner and pushrod ends.

The tail surfaces are built from 3/32 balsa. If you look at the photos you will see that the prototype model used slightly different construction of the tail surfaces than what is shown on the plan. After covering the model, the plywood control horns are glued into slots and the rudder and elevator are hinged with small strips of tape.

The wing is built in two halves. The lower trailing edge and lower main spar are pinned to the building board. Then the tip rib, the second rib and the shear web SW-1 are glued into position. Now the first W-1 rib is glued into position using the angle on the shear web to set the angle for the dihedral. Finally the rest of the ribs, the trailing edge, the top spar, the leading edge and the remaining shear webs are glued into position.

After both wing halves are built they are glued together and then the center ribs are notched to accept the top and bottom plywood dihedral braces that are glued to the front of the shear webs directly in front of the spars.

The fuselage is a simple box structure. First glue the doublers, 1/16 sq braces and the 1/4 in balsa motor mount triangles to the fuselage sides. Then assemble the four formers. Glue formers F-5 and F-6 to one side and then add the other side. Pull the aft end together and glue in the two remaining formers and glue the tail post. Now sheet the top and bottom with cross grain 1/32 balsa sheet..."

Update 15/12/2022: Added article, thanks to theshadow.

Supplementary file notes


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Starlite (oz14236) by Tom Herr 1999 - model pic


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