RC Micro Spitfire airplane build log

I was digging up my photo archives and stumbled upon pictures of some  RC micro airplane models that I built long time ago as a hobby. I will start posting pictures of my micro airplanes along with details about them, maybe this will inspire you to build some models like this or at least give you an impression of what a person could build at their home these days.

So here it goes, some preliminary info :

Model name : Spitfire (Ukrainian paint scheme)
Weight : < 3 gram
RC System : DIY 2 Channel infrared receiver  (0.1 gram)+ DIY IR transmitter, PCB Layout by Billy Stiltner, Code by Koichi Tanaka.
Motor : 4mm brushed micro motor (from DIDEL)
Actuator : DIY copper wound actuator
Battery : 10 mah Li-Po battery

And here’s the gallery full of pictures about the parts of the plane and the plane itself:


Info about the RX and the TX for the micro airplane :

Receiver

The assembled receiver weighs only 0.1 gram

The heart of the receiver is a small PIC microchip 10F200 containing a program written by Koichi Tanaka that processes the commands from infrared transmitter.  The Layout of the PCB was posted by Billy Stiltner on RCGroups.com in 2006. The details about programming the chip with PicKit1 are found here (use google translate to translate into your language) : http://www7b.biglobe.ne.jp/~toko0131/pic/0070/index.html

The code for the chip is located here (I think I used Futaba code for mine) : http://www7b.biglobe.ne.jp/~toko0131/pic/0071/index.html

Transmitter

I built my own transmitter according to Koichi’s drawings and schematics. I used a case from electric shaver to fit my transmitter circuit board (PCB) and the glued the high-power infrared LED array on the front (of course it is connected by wires as well).

The schematics for the transmitter and the code for the PIC chip are found here: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/toko0131/e/39f6e7535affc1efe75f875fb61323b9

Soon I will be posting more pictures and information about the RC projects that I’ve done, there’s lots of inspiration coming so please subscribe to this blog!

Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

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  • Thank you very much for Providing an IR Receiver Circuit.
    I am a beginner in RC Airplanes, but have quite some knowledge about Electronics and was looking for a way to build the circuit instead of buying them at expensive prices. So I can see that you have posted the IR Receiver Circuit. What about the Transmitter Circuit? Please provide a photo of the DIY Transmitter Circuit also, it will be very helpful. And is it possible to use a more Ampere Rated Li-po Battery if the weight is exactly as the 10mah Li-po battery?? Thank you.

  • maxoffsky

    You got it! Please check this blog post again to see the information about the RX and TX. It can all be done at home! Yes you can use more than 10mah to power the airplane, it would be no problem at all!

  • Fantastic.
    Is it possible to use normal resistors and capacitors components instead of SMD components?

  • maxoffsky

    Sure thing ! That’s no problem at all.

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  • I am currently buildining a PIC programmer..got loads of stuff on the net. got the parts for both the Programmer and the Reciever. Now to build these two Gadgets. After that will be the Transmitter. But got a question, is it possible to power the Tx with a 9volt battery? According to the website given they are using Li-po(i dont wana buy them, they scare me and they are expensive..for the Rx i already got one), or can we use those normal 6 NiCd Rechargeable Battery that give good miliampere rating??

  • maxoffsky

    I do not recommend powering the TX with 9 volt battery, the IR LEDs will burn out. I think you can try using 6 NiCd rechargeables, I haven’t tried that but the voltage should be the same.
    Why do LiPo batteries scare you? In fact they are very cheap right now, much cheaper than NiCd or alkaline batteries. Here’s a cheap 2 cell battery that would work for a transmitter: hobbyking li-po battery

  • By KipKay!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DcpANRFrI4

    If it bursts on the airplabe while its flying is fine, coz the airplane will be flying away from you..
    But imagine it bursting in ur hand while controlling the Airplane through the transmitter!!

  • HI,
    were you gonna type a link to a cheap Li-po battery store, after

    “Here’s a cheap 2 cell battery that would work for a transmitter: ……. “??

  • maxoffsky

    It would never burst in your hand unless you do a short circuit or plug it in to a wrong charger.
    Also the batteries don’t just suddenly explode, they swell first and that takes a long time, you would notice that something is wrong.

  • maxoffsky

    Yes I put the link now, check it out!

  • Got the Link!!

    If its not much to ask, could you please upload an image of the PCB (the soldering side) of the Transmitter? I am not being able to create the proper board with the Eagle Soft (total newbie)…

    Thank you

  • Thanks for the PCB!!
    Got all the parts for the IR Receiver, for its Programmer…and all parts for the Transmitter except a
    38Khz Crystal..Do u know where I can get it?
    And dont tell me Digikey coz their shipping is Flat 40$ to India..
    The crystal is a very cheap component..
    I could only find 32.768Khz to be closest..
    Where did u get the 38Khz crystal?

  • kiran

    hi how can i make one?i have these thing with me to make this is it possible? because i have tried many times but it was a failure.
    4mm motor
    20 mah battery
    micro actuator
    micro infrared heli’s receiver[2 channel]
    is there a tx and rx circuit without using a pic because i dont know to program.i think my receiver needs more milliamps to drive the motor fast.but if i use a larger capacity it may be heavy.
    thanks

  • Maks Surguy

    I don’t think the heli receiver will work for this, it is actually pretty easy to program the PIC chip yourself, you don’t need to know how to write the code, you can see how to connect the PIC chip to the programmer here http://www.oyajin.jp/~toko/pic/0070/index.html and then follow my link for the code for the program…

    I think 20mah battery will be too heavy for this…

  • kiran

    do you have another circuit.i am getting confused.i saw the link but do i need to program the pic using that type of programmer and do i need to program the pic used for transmitter?please help

  • Maks Surguy

    Unfortunately I don’t have any easier way to do this than make your own or pay a lot for the ready made circuits…
    You can try finding a nice RX and TX combo but that comes with a price, check out http://www.microflight.com/ for some options…

  • Tom

    Been looking up on this and i’m trying to figure some things out before I actually start buying the stuff. Been looking all over plantraco, micro-plane.com, hobbyking.com, all the different radios and all. I think Infrared would be best to start and the most inexpensive. I’ve got about 8 scrap IR TX radios I want to use parts/shell from. Other than those I like the idea of using old game controllers. Looking at microchips site the PIC10F200 has a few different chips listed. what one do I get? http://www.microchipdirect.com/ProductSearch.aspx?Keywords=PIC10F200
    BTW I really like your airframe model. Is there any video of flight?

  • Maks Surguy

    Basically you need SOT 23 package size, here is the one I used I believe: PIC10F200-E/OT. I don’t currently have a video in flight but I think soon I will shoot one, it just flies so beautifully!!! It does need some airspace though, like a small gym because it flies pretty fast!

  • Tom

    Hmm I just got some PIC10F200T-I/OT from Digikey I can’t find what the difference is though. Hope it works. I’m looking at the most inexpensive solution for programming atm. looking at getting this http://www.piccircuit.com/shop/pic-programmer/25-icp01-usb-pic-programmer.html

  • Maks Surguy

    Wow, that’s very cheap! I used PicKit 2 programmer from the manufacturer of PIC chips, but I’d love to hear if this cheap programmer will work ok for you!

  • Tom

    I hope it does. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes. Also I got these little boards to adapt instead of making one. http://www.ebay.com/itm/280817219646?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649
    Should work ok instead of the 8 pin right?

  • Maks Surguy

    Yep! This should work totally fine!

  • Tom

    Maks,
    Is there any way you can assemble a parts list. I’m looking at things needed for the TX now plus on the RX I still don’t have those other components other than the PIC10 and the IRLML2502. The TCM809T is not really needed unless I want an led right? The TX Schematic looks a bit different on http://micro-plane.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9&Itemid=8&amp;
    They use the same pic and code from the indoor airplane world.
    I’d like to have a list and try and get everything I need at once rather than paying shipping for a few things at a time.
    Can communicate by email if you like with tomsvortex@gmail.com.

  • Maks Surguy

    I don’t have the part list at hand but you can figure it out from the schematics, I think most of the parts don’t really matter what specifics they are, just the values have to be correct…

    Yes the TCM 809T isn’t needed unless you want the low power LED indicator.
    If there was real demand I would sell very very small IR receivers to anybody who wants them =)
    I can go under 100mg with the 2 channel RX.

  • Tom

    At 40-60 dollars each a RX and TX its too much. I figure If I learn how to make them I can make a few different planes. If you have a parts package to sell I might be interested in buying it from you If you have the parts already. I already have 10 PIC10F200 and 2 IRLML2502 on the way. Still need the TX components and small .1uFs for the RX. I want to try to make it without a board like at micro-plane.com curious how much would you sell a RX and TX board already done as well? I do want to learn and put my own together though.

  • Maks Surguy

    I will check for the parts, maybe I can send you a nice package for a good price. Do you want to make the RX without the board?

  • Tom

    Do you have a board already made?
    I ordered some more stuff from Digikey after researching indoor airplane site.
    Still would like to know what price you come up with on your package.
    Especially if there are things I missed. You have the experience with
    this. So if there is anything I’m missing for TX and RX let me know. I
    need to get one working first then I can replicate and modify from
    there.
    Here is what I got coming so far and what I have to work with.
    http://tomsvortex.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/IR-RC-parts.pdf Also that iCP01 pic programmer without the zif socket is coming from Malaysia.

  • Maks Surguy

    I don’t have a board already made.

    I highly recommend this cheap service to make the boards : https://www.batchpcb.com or http://oshpark.com/
    http://www.slugsite.com/archives/1285

    Ps I see that you ordered rather large IR sensors. You can sand them to a small size but there were some new sensors that I’m using now from Sharp (gp1us301xp) But i can’t find them on Digikey or anywhere else. I have some extras that I can sell for $1 a piece.

    I don’t see the parts for the TX on the list you sent in the PDF… You need a MOSFET to drive the IR array, or do you want to use your existing remotes? I haven’t played with reusing the parts from the existing remotes so I can’t offer any advise on that.

  • Maks Surguy

    I do have the boards already made for the IR receiver, VERY small size and a regular size.
    I also suggest you order more MOSFETS to build the IR receivers.

  • Tom

    I’d be into 3 or 4 of your sharp ir sensors 1 or 2 each of your rx pcb small and very small. The tx board I’d just use a general board to start like they have on indoor airplane site to start and graduate to building more compact for a ps2 game controller or wii nunchuck. What is the MOSFET for the array? I was thinking of trying to reuse what I can but would like to build one from stock first and adapt and learn from there.
    I only got a few of the IR MOSFET I see now. I guess I will have to do another order. Do you have any of either if I buy a package from you? also the emitter LEDs for array what part # are those? The existing IR controllers and game controllers I have I find at the .59 cent a lb thrift store.
    My dad knows electronics but is 68 with bad eyes and he never got into programming micro controllers.
    I live on the east coast US and can pay you with PayPal. Put together a list of cost for items and if you have those others I would need. I don’t want to end up going to put stuff together and be missing 1 thing I have to order and wait for. I’m getting extras of things thinking that it is likely possible I will mess a few up too. LoL The whole programming thing will be another challenge in it self.
    Thank you for your time, advice, and help.
    Tom

  • Tom

    Did you say RX boards already made only PCB or Components and all? Prices?

  • Tom

    Check out this one at 1:50 in video.
    http://youtu.be/q1rUdu364aE

  • Maks Surguy

    Here is the price list :

    2 Channel IR RX PCB – small (board only) – $1 each
    Same as above but already completed with all parts – $15 (have only 1 for sale)

    IRLM 2502 Mosfet – $0.5 each
    Sharp sensors – $1 each (have only 2 on hand)

    2 Channel IR RX PCB – ultra small (board only) – $0.5 each
    MOSFET for the ultra small RX – $0.5 each
    Caps and resistors as well for the ultra small RX – $0.2 each

    I also have the stuff for the transmitter – what exactly you need, all parts?

  • Tom

    Your site is down for me. Guess my ISP is being crappy. Had to use tablet off my wifi.

    Yes, I need Transmitter parts.

    Transmitter:
     I have 4 PIC12F629 coming but I’d like 2 pre programmed if you could. 1 of everything else for transmitter.

    Reciever
    2 x IRLML2502 
    1x Small IR RX PCB

    2 x ultra small RX PCB
    2 x all components needed for ultra small PCB include PIC10 Pre programmed if you could.
    Include those sharp sensors in that.
    Email me the list with prices and a total with packing/shipping. 
    tomsvortex@gmail.com

    BTW. Did you use EPP for your airframe?
    Also Check this motor building out. 
    http://www.westknoxrc.com/index.php/topic,625.0.html
    Cool EDF jet. 
    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1513139

  • Tom

    We’re the caps and resistors I already ordered from Digikey ultra small?

  • Maks Surguy

    Here’s a smaller JET – http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1606841 =)

    Yes I have seen that motor building thread and I’ve built one of the motors like that way before the person on that forum did =) I didn’t have it documented until almost a year and a half later – https://maxoffsky.com/maxoffsky-blog/single-phase-micro-brushless-motor/

    For the Spitfire I used very thin foam that was only available from one source – it is called Durobatics. I have some of that foam if you need any, although it is not cheap. It is almost as thin as paper and very lightweight. The process of making it is pretty complicated and nobody wants to go through this hassle to make it – maybe there are other sources for it but I am not aware of them.

    About the parts I’ll send you an email today – I do have everything ready to go, just need to put it into an envelope and send it to you when I get the payment (I’ll tell you the final price in the email).

    PS I have one more spitfire with all the parts already in it – it just needs to be painted. It’s got the coil, motor, IR RX, it flies well, only needs to be painted. I’d give it away for $40 (I’ve spent lots of hours making it so it is a real bargain). Let me know if you are interested!

  • Tom

    The Durobatics looks neat but one site I saw it was out of stock and I only see one size here on Plantraco http://www.microflight.com/Durobatic-Foam-Uncoated-3-Sheets
    What thickness is your foam?
    It is kind of tempting buying your plane but I’m into building skill trying to build myself. Also I don’t have a whole lot of money to spend. I already spent $35 on components I can’t do anything with yet. lol I wan’t to work on the soldering stuff and the TX and RX first. One reason I’m interested in a few pre-programmed PICs even though I already have some. I’m going to wait a bit for the PIC programmer to come from Malaysia and that’s going to be something to learn in itself I think.

    I messed around and carved out a 6 inch wingspan spitfire out of dry foam. The stuff they stick plants in and crumbles. Thought of coating it with something. I put a pager motor on it and a 75mah lipo and was trying to freefly it. It glided a little but was heavy because of battery. after about 10 trys in my living room the wing broke off I sanded it too thin by the fusalage trying to get it to match up. Reminds me…Thats yet another thing I need to get 10mah batteries. they are like $15 that I can find.
    Check out my broken toy LOL
    http://tomsvortex.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/IMG_0530.jpg
    I will likely build something stick like and basic when I finally get a TX and RX going. Maybe even try a small basla chuck glider if it will work.
    Hit me up on the email with what you got for me so far and a price on the foam and size. I think that will impact the shipping though. Let me know how much with and without.
    I really would like to get going on the TX and the RX from the already proged chips and I’ll tinker with the pic programming later after I get the programmer which could be 15-20 days.

  • Naman

    Mr Maks Surguy,
    i am talking about

    “The code for the chip is located here (I think I used Futaba code for mine) : http://www7b.biglobe.ne.jp/~toko0131/pic/0071/index.html

    given above by yours.
    when i opened that page, the three files named
    1. “irtx2-629f.HEX (Futaba)”
    2. “irtx2-629s.HEX (Sanwa)”
    3. “irtx2-629j.HEX (JR)”
    were not found (it said 404 not found, maybe broken)… can you send those 3 files to my email ?

  • Maks Surguy

    You can get those files from here:
    http://www7b.biglobe.ne.jp/~toko0131/pic/0074/index.html

    Enjoy!

  • Naman

    thank you very much sir for providing me transmitter section.
    im beginner at rc planes. i’ve never touched and even seen real rc plane…
    it will be very glad for me if you could give complete plan (dimensions, spans) for this rc plane…
    sorry for giving trouble and for my english.
    again thank you very much

  • Maks Surguy

    Hi !

    The plans could be found in this forum thread :
    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=611386

  • Naman

    ok thank you sir i got it.
    one more two questions :
    1. i’ve seen the plans, there is only one actuator for rudder (turning left or right) is there not any utility for lift up and lift down ?
    2. is there available plans of micro butterfly or the transparent wing planes given in above japanese links by yours (actually i needed that because im beginner) ??
    given link ( for photos ) :

    http://www.ohgizmo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/micro_butterfly.jpg

    http://bestrcplanesvideos.com/wp-content/videothumbs/1103.jpg

  • Maks Surguy

    Please look through RCgroups.com forums to find plans of planes, there’s lots there!
    The lift up/down is controlled by the speed of the propeller spin. Spin faster to go up, spin slower to go low =)
    Very easy controls!

  • SAM

    Sorry, but it seems that the PIC codes for the transmitter can’t be downloaded from this page you mentioned anymore.

    “The schematics for the transmitter and the code for the PIC chip are found here: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/toko0131/e/39f6e7535affc1efe75f875fb61323b9

    Do you know were I can get the code from?
    Also is PicKit 3 a good buy for this project.

  • Maks Surguy

    Please look in the latest comments, I have posted the links to the schematics and code there, will update the post soon too.

  • SAM

    Problem solved!

  • Naman

    Mr Maks,
    im here again to give you a trouble, can you give me full detailed tutorial for making wireless camera for my rc aircraft using zigbee,.. whatever.

    thank you.

  • Maks Surguy

    I use cameras from http://rangevideo.com , here is an example :

  • Naman

    Dear Mr. Maks,
    i ‘ve all rc planes foam pdf formatted plans, can i directly print on normal paper with print option (i mean no need to set page margin etc…) ?

  • Tassawar

    I love planes

  • Blackdemon

    For the transmitter, is there a substitute for the transistor 2SK2961? Can’t seem to find that anywhere.

  • maxsurguy

    Any similar transistor that can handle 2-3 Amperes of current will do.

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  • Blackdemon

    I just finished making this…and….As soon as I attached the battery to the receiver the motor went full speed and smoke came out from the receiver. I am not sure which component got fried but even though the motor kept running. What do you think went wrong? My Rx was the the one which has 2 transistor (IRLML2502 and TCM809-Same as Koichi) instead of one transistor like in your design. The battery I used is from an old china RC helicopter having 3.7volts and 180maH.
    Was the current too high? Could there be some short circuit? Its real tiny to find out now.
    Gonna make a new one (your Rx design). Any pointers?
    Thanks

  • maxsurguy

    Sorry to hear it got fried 🙁 I had it happen many times while building the working circuit. When I had it happen it was polarity (+ , -) on the battery that accidentally got reversed or a bit of solder where it shouldn’t be (hence short circuiting). I have found a few posts detailing similar problems: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=505053

    Also for the circuit that I used I got it from here: https://web.archive.org/web/20091027105312/http://geocities.com/billy_stiltner/infrared/IRXA261/IRXA261.html

  • wow…. its very nice.