Florida Jets 2020

Model Airplane Custom Servo Installation

Model Airplane Custom Servo Installation

This neat workbench trick is the work of Ken Park, who worked out his servo installation issues while working on an electric jet with relatively thin wing panels. Here’s what Ken has to say.

Workbench Secrets -- Custom Servo Installation

Well, it’s been a lot of fun getting into RC Jetsbut what I have noticed is that the really impressive ones come mainly as an empty shell with little or no instructions on how to install your hardware, an example are servos.  Since everyone uses different types and brands, things like servos vary in height, weight and size.  So you can see why the companies simply instruct you to fill this space with your servo!

Workbench Secrets -- Custom Servo Installation

(Above) Here are some of the tools needed for the job.


My Viper Jet EDF kit is beautifully built but it has a nice hole in each wing for both the aileron and flap servos.  The wings top surface has the airfoil shape and they instruct you to mount you servo so it is level and flush just under the bottom surface of the wing so the hold down plate can be attached.  So you can see you got to fit a square shape into an area that is far from square.

Viper Jet EDF kit

(Above) Out of the box, the Viper Jet’s wing panels are assembled and covered, but servo installation methods are up to you.

To proceed the first finding to is to figure out the exact contours of the space my servo is going to occupy.  The light went off in my head and I used an old school Carpentry wood workers tool known as a  wire profile gauge.  I placed tape over the wing where I wanted to use the device to prevent it scratching the wings finish.  I then pushed down on the wires to get an exact depth gauge and profile.  I then transferred the profile from the gauge onto a sheet of paper.  I did a left and right side profile and found both to be nearly exact in profile front to back.

Workbench Secrets -- Custom Servo Installation

(Above) This is a Carpenter’s “Wire Profiler.” It’s great for duplicating shapes during a modeling project.

So working from my side profile I can now lay my servo on its side in its simulated location that I want to fill so it fits flush under the 1/16-inch ply hold down plate.  In this case I am using Hitec 225MG servos.  From this you can now see the area and profile contour shape left that needed to be filled.

Workbench Secrets -- Custom Servo Installation

Using a pair of scissors I cut out this bottom area profile and simply use its shape to make 3 little ribs that I wanted making a shim plate ramp.  I notched the ends so they would self-align with a top plate of the ramp.  The entire shim plate ramp was all made from 1/16th ply.  Each ramp for each wing used 3 ribs.  Each rib had the proper contour of the top of the wing and was found to be an excellent fit when inserted into the model.  I finished of each shim plate ramp at the front of the wing with some scrap 1/16-inch to complete the ramp shapes.

Workbench Secrets -- Custom Servo Installation

(Above) Here’s the full size profile traced onto paper to form my cutting template.

Canada Install Servos

Workbench Secrets -- Custom Servo Installation

(Above) I used 1/16 inch ply to make a ramp that matched the contour to match the interior wing shape, using the paper template.

So with each ramp made it was slipped into place and each servo was then checked to see if it would fit flush with the bottom hold down plates.  Sure enough it worked great and all is left to do is permanently gluing each ramp into its location and then mounting the servo’s in a fashion so you can gain access if need be.  Tam Jets have some nice L-brackets that let you screw in each servo on its side and would work very well in this application.

Workbench Secrets -- Custom Servo Installation

(Above) Ready to test fit in the wing.

Workbench Secrets -- Custom Servo Installation

(Above) Hitec aileron and flap servos attached.

You can follow the rest of the photos to see how I went about fine tuning this building task and I am sure, the technique can be applied to other similar models. Like they say, building a model is really building a bunch of smaller projects and then when you run out of the small stuff, your model is ready to fly!

Workbench Secrets -- Custom Servo Installation

(Above) Servos and Ramp epoxied into place so the arms line up with the control horns.

Canada Install Servos

(Above) use some tape to workout the size and position of the servo hatch slots. You don’t want them to interfere with the servo arms or the clevises.

Workbench Secrets -- Custom Servo Installation

Completed servo installation with linkages for the aileron and flap installed. For a neater, smoother hatch cover, I use clear tape to secure it in place instead of screws. Remember, the servos are attached to the wing structure not the hatch cover.



Add a Comment
  1. Wire profiler is a super tool, never thought of using it this way. Great tip Ken well done!


  2. Thank you, very good information

  3. Man, that survey pop-up is annoying!

    Super clean installation and a great tip.

  4. Mike I am with you….that survey pop-up IS ANNOYING!

  5. So, is that flap servo even removable?

    Good idea for using the tool.

  6. Fabulous push rods. You should do one of these instructional clips on making these perfect push rods.

  7. For you Canadian folks…6″ contour gauge at Princess Auto $13.99! I need one!

  8. Great, practical tip(s). Loved the photo documentation. Good excuse to purchase another tool on my wish-list – the profile gauge.

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