Refer to this for detailed technical information and definitions for the various different parts on RC airplanes and multi-rotors.
Electric motors are made up of a motor can lined with a ring of magnets with a coil of wire in the center. When choosing a motor you have two choices brushed and brushless motors. Brushed motors run off of DC current w/ 2 wires and rotate the coil of wire in the center of the motor. Brushless motors run off of AC current w/ 3 wires and rotate the motor can and magnets around a stationary coil of wire in the center of the motor. For RC (remote control) we will only be using brushless motors.
To explain what the different numbers associated with the motor mean I will use the following motor as an example. Example: NTM Prop Drive Series 2830-1100KV Motor
The 2830 are the dimensions of the motor can and should be divided into two numbers (e.g. 28-30) and are represented in millimeters. Motor Can Diameter: 28mm Motor Can Height: 30mm
The 1100kv refers to the RPMs per volt, which can be multiplied by the battery voltage to give you the actual motor RPM. (e.g. 1100kv * 11.1v = 12,210RPM)
Propellers are the backbone of any RC airplane/multi-rotor build, arguably one of the most important parts. Props (propellers) typically come made out of one of three materials: molded plastic, carbon fiber or sometimes even wood. Of these the molded plastic is the most common and recommended for beginners, carbon fiber I feel are better props but break easier and cost more. Example: Gemfan 5x3 Inch Plastic 5030 Propeller
The 5 x 3 are two numbers representing the diameter of the prop (propeller) followed by the pitch, or how far the prop will move forward in one revolution under perfect circumstances. Both of these numbers are represented in inches. Propeller Diameter: 5in Propeller Pitch: 3in
Electronic Speed Controllers
Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs) convert DC power from the battery into AC power for the motor. ESCs are rated in amps and as a general rule of thumb you should choose an ESC that is 5-10A more than what your motor can draw at full throttle.
FT Versa Wing Mk1
This was my first attempt at scratch building. For simplicity I went ahead and used the FT Versa Wing speed build kit from Flite Test.