Flite Test is all about getting people into the RC hobby and doing it affordably. Often times you will hear them mention that you should trace out the parts of your speed build kits so you can make another, or make replacement parts if you crash.
If you spend any amount of time on the Flite Test forums, you would know that a topic of discussion that comes up frequently is how to make templates from printed plans. If there is a deisgn that you think that you might build more than once, or you've crashed and need to rebuild a wing or part of your fuselage, having templates can save you a lot of time. There are many techniques that have been discussed. Some of those techniques include using foam board templates (or using your speed build kit as the template), laminating paper plans, printing plans on card stock, or using poster board. Personally, I prefer to use poster board. In this article I will describe the method I use to create my own templates.
- Poster Board (white is usually cheaper but you can use any color you like)
- Scotch Tape
- Spray Adhesive (3M Super 77/Loctite General Performance 100, etc.)
- Mechanical Pencil (.7mm works best)
- Straight Edge (preferably metal)
- X-Acto or Utility Knife
Making Your Templates:
- Print out the full-sized or tiled plans. For this example, I will be using my plans for the Baby Baron, but the same principles will aplpy for any Flite Test plans and most of the plans you will find by other designers that contribute here such as nerdnic, ALP, and Hotwax to name a few.
- If you are printing the tiled plans you will need to cut and tape together the individual tiles.
- Cut-out the individual pieces from the paper plans leaving roughly 1/2" - 3/4" around the outside of each piece
- Glue the individual pieces to poster board with spray adhesive (I use 3M Super 77). Use a generous amout of glue on the backside of the paper and carefully place them on the poseter board.
Note: Most of the poster board that I use is 22 in x 28 in. Foam board is usually 20 in x 30 in. In some cases, there will be parts that can fit on a sheet of foam board but cannot fit on a single piece of poster board. You can splice two pieces of poster board together with tape for these larger pieces.
- Cut out the poster board templates for each piece on the cut lines using an X-Acto or utility knife. Take your time with this step. Use a straight edge to cut the straight sections for the best results.
Note: Any mistakes you make here will be repeated with every airplane built from these templates. So, take your time.
- Cut out any openings on the inside of the part (i.e. servos, formers, etc.)
- Poke pin holes through the score, crease, reference and control horn lines. At a minimum, put two holes in each line near the ends of the line. I place a scrap piece of foam board under the poster board to make the pin holes.
- (Optional) Label each piece with the plane name, part name, quantity, left/right hand, etc. This will make it a lot easier to know what parts go to what airplane if they get left out or mixed up later on. If you are using any of my plans than I've already done all the work for you.
Once you have all the templates cut out, you are ready to use them to trace out the patterns on your foam board. You will also use the templates during the build as your instructions for your folds, score lines, referenece lines and cavities.
Transferring to Foam Board:
- Position the poster board template onto the foam board
- Pin the template to the foam board using at least 2 pins to keep it from moving. Only pin through the top paper and part of the foam. Optionally you can use weights to help hold the template in place for tracing.
- Trace around the outside of the template onto the foam board with a mechanical pencil. Also trace any cutouts on the inside of the part.
- Mark all the holes (score, crease and reference lines) in the template with a mechanical pencil
- Remove the pins and the poster board template and check to make sure your lines transferred. If you missed anything, you can easily realign the template using the same pin holes to locate it.
- Connect the dots for your score, crease and reference lines using a straight edge and a mechanical pencil
- Once the part is fully transferred to the foam board you are ready to cut it out.
Storing Your Templates:
I also use poster board to make a folder to store my each of my templates in. Simply fold a full sheet of poster board in half to make a folder. I tape one of the loose sides together to keep the pieces from falling out easily. You can easily label the template folder using a sharpie.
Creating your own templates with poster board is relatively easy and inexpensive. It does take a little more time upfront before you can get that first plane built. But, if you build more than one, or need a replacement part or two, you will be saving time in the long run.
If you enjoyed this article please take the time to rate it. Also, if you have any questions, corrections or comments, I'd appreciate your feedback, so please leave a comment below. Thanks.