How to Make an Onboard Glow Heater

List of Materials:

  • 1x Voltage Regulator: Lineage Power APXS006A0X-SRZ, $12 on
  • 2x Blue LEDs., Under $1
  • 4x 160 ohm resistors. Under $1
  • 1x Package of 2mm banana connectors. Mpi #2854, $3
  • 1x Toggle Switch. $3
  • Random stuff: servo connector, servo extension, epoxy, CA and blister packaging. I scavenged the glow plug connections from my Hangar9 remote glow setup.
Glow heater parts

The voltage regulator is the heart of this project. The manufacturer's spec sheet has lots of useful information, it can be downloaded at:

Basically we need to connect the "sense" pad to the "Vout" pad, and connect the "trim" pad and "gnd" pad with a 6.8K ohm resistor. Might as well connect your wires at this time too. I used my Vout wire to connect the sense and Vout pads ... keep things simple.

Back view of regulator

The sense pad tells the voltage regulator what voltage it sees, and since we are not doing anything complex it just needs to be connected to the Vout pad. The resistor between trim and gnd tells the regulator what voltage you want. A table of common voltages and corresponding resistors is available in the spec sheet, as well as a formula to let you pick an exact voltage. I picked a 6.8K ohm resistor because it was the closest to what we wanted, yielding ~1.3V for the glow plug.

I coated the toggle switch with some black connector coating because my first attempt at the project resulted in a failed switch when epoxy seeped in through the sides or bottom of the switch. Any glue can be used to seal up the switch as long as it has a high viscosity and does not conduct electricity.

Each LED needs a ~300 ohm resistor to limit current. I had a bunch of 160 ohm resistors, so I used two of those for each LED, then wired the two LED assemblies in parallel.

LEDs assembly

To keep things compact I glued the regulator to one side of the toggle switch with a dot of Shoe Goo, then glued the pair of LEDs to the other side of the switch.

Glow heater assembly

The rest is easy, you just need to connect the wires correctly, and keep it compact whenever possible. Here is a doodle showing the circuit layout... I'm not too good with schematics so bear with me.


Now cut the slot and holes in your blister package to accept the output connections. Slide your creation into the housing, slide the connections into the slot and holes, then seal the openings with a little thick CA or quick curing epoxy. If you skip this step the 30-minute epoxy will seep through. Give it all a final test to ensure it works correctly, then mix up some 30 minute epoxy and pour it in. Try not to cover up the threads of the toggle switch with epoxy, or you will not be able to securely mount it to your model.

Let the epoxy cure, then trim the excess blister packaging with a hobby knife or file. Do the trimming after the epoxy is no longer tacky. If you wait to long, the epoxy will approach a full cure and be hard as a rock.

When you mount the onboard glow heater to your model, I would suggest using a little servo tape to reduce the strain on your toggle switch. Just use the toggle switch nut to keep it secure.

Here is the end result. An earlier version is temporarily hooked up to show the effect.

Glow heater hooked up to a glow plug

My Cypher's New Canopy In Action

I finally got the fiberglass canopy mod done. It turned out great!

Cypher helicopter side view Fiberglass canopy side view

The stock canopy mounting posts were moved to the holes in front of the upper bearing block, and modified to allow the new canopy to properly mount to it while also allowing full servo arm movement. Harbor Freight drill press + Dremel = Poor Man's Lathe :)

The stock posts have a thin cutout to accept the plastic canopy, this was shaved down a lot to allow the fiberglass canopy's grommets to have a place to catch. Then another grove was cut behind that to allow the servo arm to clear at full deflection, and a little was shaved from the remaining portion to have added clearance for the ball link at full deflection:

Canopy mounting posts

The bottom of the canopy is held on like the T-Rex does it, I just trimmed a sheet of 1/8th inch Lexan to form a strip that catches the bottom of the canopy:

Bottom canopy mount

This was a fun project, and I think it turned out awesome! If for some weird reason I wanted to go back to the stock canopy all I would need to do is buy a new $2 set of canopy mounts, and remove the bottom Lexan strip. No major parts were permanently changed...

This project was finished after sun down, so here's the maiden flight on the new canopy:

Flying my Cypher

Until next time...

Cypher Fiberglass Canopy

It's been a while since I painted the last canopy. This one is for my EF Cypher. At this time a fiberglass canopy is not available for that heli so this canopy will be modified to do the job. Align's T-Rex 450 canopies can be mounted as long as you mount a strip of material to the front landing gear strut, so the bottom of the canopy has something to hold onto. The problem is that with the stock holes in Align canopies you can only fit a typical 3S 2100mAh pack ... very snugly. So the stock holes were covered up, and new ones will be drilled once the clear coat has fully cured.

I over sanded the first coat of clear and broke through to the candy blue in a few spots :( ... so excuse the poor cover ups ... when I'm flying I will not notice it anyway.

Cypher canopy angled view Cypher canopy top view
  1. Reinforced the edges of the canopy with some extra fiberglass.
  2. Fill the stock holes with microballons and flexible CA (bSi Insta-Flex+).
  3. Thoroughly sanded the canopy, then primed with DupliColor sandable primer. Two coats.
  4. One coat of Sprint White paint from Pactra.
  5. Drew the curves with a 4B pencil. Don't make the mistake I did: A mechanical pencil's lead is sharp and will spear into your nicely sanded and primed surface. Heart breaking...
  6. Washed the canopy with warm soap and water. No, this does not remove your drawing unless you scrub really hard.
  7. Shot the color coats. Pactra's Fluorescent Yellow, Fluorescent Orange, Fluorescent Red, Indy Silver and Candy Blue.
  8. Masked off the entire canopy with Hobbico Liquid Mask. Let dry for a few hours in the sun.
  9. Used a Sharpie to draw the black outlines, then cut out the outlines with a fresh #11 blade.
  10. Shot the black, then peeled off the remaining mask.

This is where I am sometime surprised. Wherever the liquid mask was laid on thicker I get a blue tint left on my surface. The tint does not disappear with soap and water, but it disappears after anywhere between 10 minutes and 10 hours... so I waited. This is probably because I do not always let the mask completely dry.

  1. Shot the first layer of clear. I use a two-part clear from Virtus. High solids 2K...
  2. Let it cure for 24 hours, then sanded it. I over sanded and broke through the candy blue :(
  3. Fixed my mistake as best I could, then washed and applied a second coat of clear.
  4. Done

Now wasn't that easy?

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4

HPI 1/10th Baja Bug Body

I got around to painting another body, this one will probably go on my Stampede or T4. It's an HPI 1/10th-scale Baja Bug body, which is one of my favorites. I'm not too happy with how it turned out.

Finished body, angled view

The two mistakes were the overly-dark hood / window outlines, and the devil tales on the doors. For the outlines I was hoping for a slightly darker "candy blue" than the rest of the body. I could not get the candy blue to darken enough, so I had to back it with a really thin "outlaw black" then back it all with silver. I used too much black, so you can hardly see the blue :(

I messed up on the masking for the devil tales, so there was a lot of bleed through. I was hoping to get a nice vibrant candy purple by mixing candy blue and candy red, but it didn't turn out much like a candy, and I put on too much so it turned out dark :( Oh, and my shadowing was horrible. I will have to practice the shadow effect for a raised up object.

Finished body, side view

The following Pactra colors were used on this body: candy blue, candy red, indy silver, outlaw black, sprint white, fluorescent orange, racing red, and metallic black. House of Kolor RU311 (reducer) was used as well.

Since I like to plan out my paint jobs, I took a photo of my unpainted body and traced it. If anyone wants to use my trace, have a look.

My First Airbrushed Car Body

After more than a month of indecision, I finally settled on a theme for my first attempt at an airbrushed r/c car body. It turned out very well for a "first" however I took some time to practice before hand which rewarded me well. Here is the end result:

The checkers are actually a nice deep and shiny color, but my workbench's white surface is being reflected making it look lighter than it is. I painting the body with Pactra lacquer-base colors, and House of Kolor RU311 reducer. The colors used are: metallic blue, metallic red, spring white, outlaw black, indy silver, fluorescent yellow and racing red. The orange is a mix of the fluorescent yellow and racing red, while the dark silver in the checkers is a mix of indy silver and outlaw black. The RU311 reducer from HoK is a dream come true... the paint dries incredibly fast. It's a night-and-difference from the Pactra thinner, and cheaper too!

Here is a photo of the body midway through the job:

Below is my very first practice piece. It was a sheet of scrap 1/8" polycarbonate I had laying around. I wanted to see if I could shade my paint drips decently, and get a feel for painting from the "inside." I learned about the importance of not laying on too wet of a backing color or it will bleed through. The blue background should be an even blue color, but the Indy Silver was laid on too thick and bled through the Candy Blue.

Now comes my second, more ambitious attempt. This was shot on a 8x12" sheet of glass I bought. I did this planning to reuse the glass after practice sessions... but the glass is so cheap I just threw it away :) This design was my very first plan for the body, however I did not like how it looked or the color selection. I got some good practice shading, and it showed me how imperative shooting your lighter colors last becomes. Here's photos showing the progression:

Lastly here are some of my doodles that helped me select a theme to try...

Now my Hot Bodies Lightning buggy no longer has to run the tattered original body. The next body for paint will be a Baja Bug for my Stampede...


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