Ultra Micro Radio Control Electronics


ParkZone ESC brick and lipo battery

ParkZone motor, ESC brick and lipo battery

ParkZone’s line of ultra micro radio control electronics is ideal for equipping a wide range of smaller radio control model planes.

ParkZone’s electronics are matched with a tiny geared electric motor and a lightweight single cell lithium polymer battery.  This provides a “one stop” control and power solution for RC model planes weighing less than three ounces and with wingspans under about 30 inches.

ParkZone’s “brick” contains an electronic circuit board with a six channel receiver, integrated electronic speed control (ESC) and two linear servos.

The brick is 0.92 inches in length, 1.09 inches wide and has a height of 0.32 inches. This ESC/receiver weights 3.9 grams. This system is ideal for use with numerous model aircraft that were planned for free flight yet can now be converted to radio control.

The Spektrum radio system features 2.4 GHz DSM2 technology and is compatible with all Spektrum, JR, E-flite and ParkZone receivers.

I have designed several RC models using the ParkZone micro radio control hardware. I also completed a successful conversion of a Guillow free flight airplane kit to radio control. Following are some thoughts and observations as you tackle various design projects with the affordable and versatile ParkZone electronics.

TurboCAD design tool

TurboCAD is an invaluable tool with design tasks of this nature. Note that once you sketch out the various control components TurboCAD maintains them in their actual size. You only have to draw the RC electronics once and save the files. You then copy the drawing modules and paste them into plans for future projects.

ParkZone electronics on nose of Robin RC model plane

ParkZone electronics on nose of Robin RC model plane

Using TurboCAD’s precision I obtained useful insights such as the need to keep the ESC brick close enough to the motor to allow for the length of the motor wire connection. The wire from the motor to the ECS is not very long.

I essentially “design my model planes around the ParkZone system.” Based on my experience operating various ready to fly models I had a rough understanding of the airplane size I could design to for these control systems.

My first model plane design attempt was with the Finch. I decided on a 20 inch wingspan and an exceptionally light weight structure. Based on my experience a 20 inch wingspan is about the minimum for the weight of the ParkZone system.

Geared electric motor fitted in Finch nose

Geared electric motor fitted in Finch nose

The Finch’s fuselage is an open frame setup that allowed for a simple installation of the radio gear. I installed the ESC on the fuselage top to take advantage of straight control rod runs to the elevator and rudder.

Fuselage width

I determined the fuselage width to allow the electronic speed control brick to fit in place. For follow on projects a rule of thumb for a minimum fuselage width when using these electronics is 1.5 inches.

The lipo battery should be installed as far forward as possible to assist with the proper aircraft balance, yet be close enough to the ESC to allow for the battery connector wire length. These experiences were important for my follow on designs and RC conversions.

ParkZone micro radio control electronics are ideal for converting various free flight models to radio control. As mentioned earlier a model airplane with a wingspan less than 30 inches and a weight less than three ounces should perform well with this system.

There are hundreds of free flight airplane plan designs drawn over the years that would be ideal candidates for radio control flight. In addition, just about any Guillow kit can now be converted to RC flight.

Guillow Lancer - free flight kit converted to radio control

Guillow Lancer – free flight kit converted to radio control

I had great success with my RC adaptation of the Guillow Lancer. The Lancer was designed in 1964 for rubber band powered free flight. The Lancer seemed like a good candidate for this effort.

The plane has a long nose moment so there were no concerns over a tail heavy condition. The airframe is lightweight but strong and the polyhedral wing offers stability for a three channel control scheme.

An interesting design detail emerged regarding the width of the fuselage. The Lancer’s narrow fuselage turned out to be less than the 1.5 inches needed to normally mount the ESC brick horizontally. The solution was easy. I mounted the receiver vertically against the fuselage interior side. The control rod runs were clear to the tail and the side mounting scheme worked without problems.

1911 Fokker Spin

My most advanced model design for the ParkZone electronics is the Fokker Spin.

I sketched out a Spin prototype plan with TurboCAD. I lengthened the nose about half an inch from the full scale design to help with the center of gravity. I mounted all the electronics on the top of the prototype’s fuselage to ease installation and adjustment tasks.

1911 Fokker Spin radio control model airplane in flight

1911 Fokker Spin in flight

The prototype flew fine. The Spin’s wingspan of 28 inches and weight of 2.8 ounces were near the upper limit per my rules of thumb yet the motor provided plenty of thrust.

For the final version of the Spin I decided to move the electronics and battery to the fuselage underside. This was purely for appearance sake and helped a lot with the appearance of the final build and display of this historic Dutch flight trainer.

Today there are a number of high quality laser cut balsa kits expressly designed for the ParkZone electronics. Perhaps the best of this genre is from Stevens Aeromodel.

I have built several of their micro kits to include the Pietenpol, Liddle Rod and Hummingbird. The kits quickly go together with a dry fit of the precisely laser cut parts that you glue together once assembled. The electronics fit accurately in place and all of the models fly exceptionally well.

The availability of the ParkZone line of micro RC electronics provide an easy, affordable and inexpensive method to design and build a wide range of smaller model airplanes for radio control flight. You really cannot go wrong using these remarkable components.

Author: Gordon McKay