1) Beginner issues
4) Electric motors
5) Speed controllers (ESC's)
8) Model info
9) Electrical formulas
What special tools will be useful for electric flight ?
Q. What special tools will be useful for electric flight?
There are many normal modeling tools like knives, wrenches, abrasive paper etc that are as useful to us as to any other modelers. You can get started in electrics with very few specialized tools. But there a few that will make life so much easier that you will soon wonder how you did without them.
The few tools you really should have are :
(NOT a soldering gun). Essential for general wiring. If you only have one it should be around 25W. If you are going to make your own battery packs a larger iron will help, preferably at least 40W (I use a 100W Weller iron, carefully).
It is not worth buying an analog meter. You can get a simple digital multimeter for very little money from stores like Radio Shack. If you can get one that will read DC current up to at least 20A that will be helpful (or see Wattmeter below). But even the simplest will let you measure voltages accurately so you know what is going on in your power system and will also provide a way of checking continuity so you can make sure all your wiring is intact.
Other potentially useful tools include :
A device which simultaneously measures and displays voltage and current and will also show the total energy used. It is very much like the displays on most good chargers but with the great advantage that you can put it anywhere in the circuit and so measure EXACTLY what is happening. It is unbeatable for finding out (rather than guessing) what current you are using and how the battery voltage goes down as the current increases. It will also allow you to measure your own motor constants which is very useful if you want to experiment with odd (perhaps cheap surplus) motors.
Depending on what type of connectors you decide to standardize on you may
find it worth getting a crimping tool. The one I use for Power poles is quite
expensive but makes it so much easier to fit the connectors and makes a much
better joint than a soldered joint.
A good tachometer is very useful if you want to do some investigating of electric power sources. Even the most basic of motor parameters involves knowing the speed at which the motor is rotating.
All planes fly better if the airframes are light and this is especially true of electrics where the power package makes up such a high proportion of the overall weight. It is probably most important to get scales that can weigh small amounts fairly accurately (down to 1/10 oz) since you will be saving weight wherever you can. Some of the best value to be found is the used postal scales that are sometimes available.
These will be fine unless your ambitions lie in the direction of very small and light indoor models. Since the lightest of these have a total flying weight of well under 1 oz you will need jewelers scales for models which are considered to be in the micro class.
Some modelers use scales to measure the thrust of motor / prop combinations as well. These setups know as thrust rigs or thrust meters, help in determining useful setups for a model. Electric models are subjected to weight concerns. Having the best power system with the least amount of weight is the goal of most electric flyers. A thrust rig can help in this determination. More information on thrust rigs and how digital scales are used can be found in the "How do YOU measure thrust?" thread.