Comparing RC plane Assembly Options

Published on
4 min read

Comparing RC Plane Assembly Options

In the past, RC hobbyists were largely limited to kits—putting together just one RC plane took hundreds of hours of painstaking work. A newly-constructed plane's maiden flight was a moment full of butterflies, and a buddy box could only do so much for a beginner pilot's nerves. Today, there are lots of different build options, depending on what kind of experience you're looking for!

cartoon figure with six thought bubbles surrounding him, with the abbreviations ARF, RTF, PNP, BNF, WDT

Aside from kits, ARF, RTF, PNP, BNF, and WDT are all available for the pilot that wants a new RC plane. Each holds unique attributes and considerations, so let's explore the specifics of each type to help you make an informed decision based on your interests and expertise!

| Assembly Type | Description | Who It's For | Pros | Cons | | ----------------------------- | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ | | ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) | ARF planes arrive partially assembled, necessitating additional components and assembly before becoming flight-ready. These kits typically include the airframe but require adding your choice of radio system, engine/motor, servos, batteries, and ESCs (Electronic Speed Controllers). They offer flexibility for customization and are perfect for hobbyists eager to build and fine-tune their aircraft. | Experienced enthusiasts who relish the assembly process, possess specific preferences for components, and have a good understanding of RC plane mechanics. | 1. Electronics Customization: Allows personalized selection of components. | 1. Assembly Required: Time-consuming and might require technical skills. | | RTF (Ready to Fly) | RTF planes are comprehensive packages that come fully assembled, including everything necessary for immediate flight—plane, radio transmitter, receiver, battery, and charger. They're designed for convenience, enabling beginners to start flying almost immediately after unboxing. | Beginners and individuals seeking a hassle-free flying experience without the need for assembly. | 1. Convenience: Ready to fly out of the box, minimal setup required. | 1. Limited Customization: Less room for personalization or upgrades. | | PNP (Plug-N-Play) | PNP planes come pre-assembled without essential components like a receiver, transmitter, battery, and charger. They offer an intermediate ground between ARF and RTF options, providing a pre-built airframe while allowing pilots to select their preferred electronics. | Intermediate hobbyists seeking some assembly and customization without starting entirely from scratch. | 1. Limited Electronics Customization: Allows for choice of electronics and components. | 1. Additional Costs: Need to purchase separate components. | | BNF (Bind-N-Fly) | BNF planes are similar to RTF models but lack a transmitter. They're fully assembled and include all necessary onboard electronics like receiver and servos. However, a compatible transmitter is required to 'bind' to the plane's receiver before flying. | Pilots with a preferred transmitter or those seeking compatibility with specific controllers. | 1. Convenience: Ready to fly after binding with a compatible transmitter. | 1. Need for Transmitter: Requires a compatible transmitter for operation. | | Kit (DIY from Scratch) | Kits involve building an RC plane entirely from separate components and raw materials. They provide the utmost customization but demand extensive technical know-how, time, and effort. | Experienced hobbyists that enjoy the assembly process and have experience in aeronautics and engineering. | 1. Familiarity: Assemble the plane from scratch, knowing the exact placement of every part. | 1. Extensive Assembly: Time-consuming and demanding technical expertise. | | WDT (WavRC Design Tool) | Our design tool allows you to easily design your own plane using easy-to-use drag and drop, scaling, and leveling features. Choose your own materials, price points, size, and level of assembly with this novel option. | Intermediate to expert hobbyists craving complete control over every aspect of their aircraft, from design to assembly. | 1. Complete Customization: Create and order a unique plane, tailor-made to your preferences. | 1. Reduced CAD Learning: Modeling a plane on traditional CAD software such as Fusion 360 or ShapeWorks can be an enriching process. |

Choosing the right type of RC plane depends on your experience level, desired level of involvement in assembly, and customization preferences. Beginners might prefer the ease of RTF or BNF models, while seasoned hobbyists may relish the customization options offered by ARF, PNP, or WDT kits. Meanwhile, experts seeking more control might opt for building from scratch with a kit.

Ultimately, these diverse options cater to a wide spectrum of RC enthusiasts, ensuring there's a perfect match for everyone's flying ambitions!