One thing to note: In order to utilize the full power output capability of this charger, you need a really good input power source! Ideally, you want something that is at least 18V, and ProgressiveRC can help you out there with some heavy-duty power supplies at reasonable prices. I ended up getting a 24V 20A unit from eBay for a reasonable price, but it'd be easier to just get everything from David! There is one more thing I do want to talk about, and that's how to connect batteries to the balancer board when serial charging! I was under the (mistaken) impression that my 8S pack, which consists of two 4S packs in series, could just be connected any old way to the balancer board. Uhhh.... well let's just say I had a 50-50 chance of hooking them up the right way. And I chose poorly! A big spark and a melted pin on the balance board and battery balance connector immediately indicated I'd done it wrong! This picture in my album should clarify how the connectors need to be arranged. Note that I color-coded my board and battery connectors to help avoid the magic smoke! The important thing to note is the relationship between the main battery positive / negative and the balancer tap positive / negative in relation to the wires coming off the balancer board. Keep everything going in that order and you'll be fine. Conclusion If you are looking for an "all in wonder" charger that can top off just about any battery type you might possibly have, as well as log your data and even run your hot-wire cutter, then the iCharger 208B may be just what you need! Combine excellent features and performance with great support from David at ProgressiveRC and it's a very appealing package. This is a parallel charging thread on RCGroups.com Specifications Unpacking: Building: Next up is the ESC and motor. If you notice I have the ESC laid up against the side of the fuse. Don't do that. It will be in the way of the upper fuse when it's time. Lay it down and use hotglue. Motor was easy to do. The brick of solid EPP is great and makes the nose really stiff once it's in. I lubed it up with goop and slid it in. I made it sit at a slight angle. It seems every plane I have the right thrust mod really helps. We will try here too. Once the plane is about done, take a good look and make sure things are lined up and square. I found my horizontal stab to have a slight droop on one side. This is probably a feature due to my awesome building skills. So I used a small piece of zip tie, cut a slit in the epp and placed it in to wedge that side down a bit. Works great as I have done this on a few builds. Flying: Video - Coming soon! (when the sun is out and I have a camera man)
Sun, 20 Jun
By Jamie "GFBurke"
Type: Electric Elaper delta wing.
For: Beginner to advanced pilots
Prop: 9x6 folding prop
Radio: JR9303 with Assan Module. Assan 4ch RX. 2 Hitec MG servos.
Tuning Power System: Himax C 2816-1220 motor / Multiplex 30A ESC / 3s 1300mAh 18c lipo
- WOT 20A @ 200w - on a fresh lipo. (peak)
- 820g with 3s 13oomAh lipo/700g no lipo
Deans Connector Housings - By DJMoose
Wed, 02 Jun
Battery wire larger then 16 AWG might not fit
Thu, 20 May
By Jamie "GFBurke"
Type: Electric foam biplane.
For: Beginner to advanced pilots
Power system: 140 watt 1200kv motor, 15a ESC, 1000mah 3s lipo, 9x4.7 prop
Here is what the goals stated with the SlowBipe where:
Well worth the money invested for many possibilites. I can see people creating their own modifications to this plane and I look forward to seeing them!
Century Radikal G20 Review
Fri, 15 Jan
iCharger 208B Review
Mon, 07 Sep
Chris "JustPlaneChris" Boultinghouse
Manufacturer: Shenzen Junsi Electronic Co, LTD
Distributor: Progressive RC
Price: $169.99 (as of Sept 2009)
Type: synchronous balance charger / discharger
Input Voltage: 4.5 - 32.0 VDC
Charge Current Range: 0.05 - 20.0 A
Maximum Charge Power: 350W @ input voltage > 18V
(see the user's guide for full specifications)
After getting my Compass Knight 600E, I realized I needed a charger capable of putting out more watts than my TME Xtrema (which is a great charger, but only 180 watts). The Xtrema does a great job, but when you're charging 8S 5000mah packs, it just takes a long time!
The iChargers had been catching my eye recently, especially after a friend of mine bought the 1010B to use on his 10S A123 packs. A chat with a fellow Knight owner and iCharger user at a fun fly convinced me to give the 208B a try, and he also pointed me to David at ProgressiveRC as a great vendor from which to purchase it.
I sent an inquiry to David, at which time I found out he's an old online acquaintance from back in the fixed pitch Honey Bee flying days! We had a fun conversation and soon there was an iCharger 208B in my mailbox.
A charger is something you need to use for a while to really get a feel for how it works, so I've been delaying this review until I got a bit of use on the charger. Well, here we are!
First things first: This charger is tiny! I was really surprised when I opened the box and saw how compact it is. It comes nicely boxed, and in fact I used part of the foam padding in my charger carrying case. You get a nice set of alligator clips for connecting to a 12V battery, a temperature sensor wire/probe, and also included is a USB cable and PC software. This is used not only to update the firmware, but also for the data logging capability. More on that later.
There are three different balancer boards available to suit the different connector types available. One comes with the charger, and David sells extras for a very reasonable $9.95 (with free shipping). Yes, I needed all three to be able to charge the variety of packs I own. Just as a sideline gripe: Why the heck can't the lipo manufacturers get together and standardize the connectors and wiring for balance taps? Come on people, it's really not rocket science. Pick a connector type and use it!
Anyway, moving along....
Using the iCharger 208B
Due to the timing of my purchase, my charger didn't come with the latest firmware installed. David was very apologetic about this, but I had no worries. Besides, it would be a good test to see how easy it is to update the firmware, right? As I suspected, it was very easy to do and the instructions at ProgressiveRC's website worked perfectly. Don't be afraid to update the firmware on this unit as new versions come along. It's easy!
As mentioned earlier, the iCharger can be connected to the PS via USB cable so that you can log your recharge data using LogView software. This is German-developed software, but is multi-lingual enough to understand how it works. I have used it to log the recharge data for several battery packs, and while I'm not a complete data-freak, it is definitely cool and could be useful to track battery performance over its lifespan.
In addition to Lipo / A123 batteries, the 208B can charge Nicad / Nickel Metal batteries, as well as lead acid batteries. It has a setting to measure internal resistance (IR). It can power brushed motors for break-in, and it even has a setting power a hot-wire bow for foam cutting! Truly, this is a versatile little box.
Actually charging a pack is very simple. Connect to the main lead, connect the balancer (if desired) and select the charge mode. Setting the rate and cell count is easy and the charger will double-check your selection for cell count (voltage checking) to be sure you're not trying to do something foolish. A long press of the start button does the voltage checking and gives you a chance to verify the settings. One more quick press of the button and you're charging.
Of course, there are tons more things you can do with charge / discharge modes as well as saving up to 10 configurations for easy use later. This review isn't going to tell you step-by-step how to do those things, that's what the manual is for. ;^) If you really get stuck, David is only an email or forum post away.
Threads, Photos, and other resources
There really isn't much to see when it comes to photos of a charger, but what I did take you can find in this online photo album. We discussed the iCharger in three episodes of InsideHeli Podcast. Here are direct links to all three shows (mp3 files):
This is an active discussion thread for the iCharger on RCGroups.com
LAHeli Ricco SE Review
Sat, 20 Jun
Chris "JustPlaneChris" Boultinghouse
Distributor: ElektroRC.com and GotHeliRC.com
Type: micro electric aerobatic helicopter
For: intermediate to advanced pilots
Flying weight: 379g to 415g (depending on pack / blades used)
Rotor span: 620mm (280mm blades)
Radio: JR X9303 transmitter, Spektrum AR6100 receiver, 3 Hyperion DS09 AMD servos on cyclic, and a DS09 GMD on the tail (Futaba GY401 gyro)
Power system: AXI 2208/20 outrunner, Castle Creations Phoenix 10 ESC with ParkBEC, and either ThunderPower 1320mah or Hyperion 850mah battery
Okay, I admit it. I have a weakness for small helicopters! I know they typically don't fly as well as larger ones, and often the quality of the micro machines leaves much to be desired. For the last several years, the undisputed "best of the best" in the micro (300 size, if you follow the arcane naming conventions) has been the LAHeli MaxiR. It was (is) a relatively unknown and somewhat expensive micro made in the Czech Republic that has the reputation of being what others like the Honey Bee CP2 or Blade CP Pro could only dream to be. Unfavorable currency exchange rates and a perceived lack of parts support seems to have kept the MaxiR in the shadows. Also, for some reason beginners seem to flock to micros.... the worst thing you can try to learn to fly with! But I digress.
Last year LAHeli released the Ricco, which is based largely on the MaxiR but with improvements in the frame design / servo layout and with a much more attractive canopy design. This new design is really sharp looking, and finally pushed me over the edge. I had to have one! A few emails with InsideHeli show sponsor Pete at ElektroRC sealed the deal, and a black Ricco SE was on the way. (For those of you who like colored anodizing, you can also get red or blue.) I also ordered the plastic blades and "base model" paddles so I could sample it as a more tame setup.
A friend and fellow Ricco owner had a spare AXI motor, so I picked that up from him. The ESC and servos were already in my stash of stuff, so it was time to build.
First things first: It is a builder's kit! About the only pre-assembly that's done for you is the head block is already pinned to the main shaft. Everything else you get to assemble. While this is not a difficult kit to assemble, I would not consider it suitable for a first-timer. You do need to know your way around helicopters, or have someone with some building experience to assist. The manual, while it does contain good CAD drawings, is somewhat lacking in text and explanations. Again, if you know how a helicopter goes together you can probably manage without help, but you may find yourself scratching your head a few times along the way.
The tail rotor on the Ricco is shaft-driven via a 2mm carbon driveshaft. The forward and aft gears (plastic) are pressed onto the driveshaft. The shaft is supported in the tailboom with two ball bearings.
One interesting thing about the tail is that the grips are driven via small wire pins, rather than more traditional ball links. It seems unusual, but it's very light and it works very well. Resist the temptation to modify it until you at least try it! The same thing goes for the way the tail blades are retained. Instead of bolts and nuts, there are pins pressed in place.
Now, about my choice of servos: Don't use them. It's not that the Hyperion servos are poor quality, in fact they are excellent. But the DS09 is taller than the ubiquitous Hitec HS-55, for which the frame was designed. This causes some issues with servo fitment and CCPM geometry, so I advise sticking to servos that are the same size as the HS-55. I was able to work around the fitment and geometry, but it added unnecessary complication to the build.
I used a Futaba GY401 gyro, which looks really huge on this heli! A smaller (and lighter) gyro would be more appropriate, but I used what I had on hand. Eventually I will probably replace it with a Spartan or GY520. So far the Hyperion servo is working well for tail duty.
As mentioned, the motor is the AXI 2208/20. This is the "hotrod" choice, so if you are wanting more sedate flying and longer flight times the AXI 2208/26 (or equivalent) would be a better choice. Whichever motor you choose, make sure the shaft size is the same as the AXI since the Ricco pinions are plastic and press onto the shaft. More on this later.
One of the unique aspects of the Ricco frame design is that the motor can be mounted either ahead of or behind the main shaft to accommodate the weight distribution of different equipment combinations. If you use a light receiver and battery packs in the 65-90 gram range, along with a big gyro like I did, you will probably want to mount the motor in the forward position. (The photos that accompany this review show it in the rear position, but I have since moved it forward.) The motor pinion is pressed onto the shaft, and is plastic! Yes, plastic. It seems odd, but it works very well and is extremely quiet in operation. The pinion also acts as a fuse in the event of a crash and strips to save the main gear from damage. They are cheap and easy to replace, so I think this is a neat feature. One thing worth mentioning: Do not set the gear lash as loose as you would a traditional setup. Mesh it up tight and let it wear in.
The ESC I chose from my spares bin is the Castle Creations Phoenix 10. This unit can easily handle the current draw requirements, but the onboard BEC cannot handle a full digital servo setup on a helicopter. To power the radio, a Dimension Engineering ParkBEC is fitted and works well.
And finally, power supplied by either ThunderPower 1320 Prolite packs, or the new Hyperion G3 850mah packs (ordered from RREModels.com). I have also used G-Force 1000mah packs (same size and weight as the TP1320) and they work well. More about battery choices in the next section.
Now for the fun part! Even with the larger battery packs, this little guy typically weighs in under 420g even with the heavy plastic blades! To put that in perspective, realize that it has more disk area than a Honey Bee King, yet weighs about 100g (or more) less than the typical King. My Ricco, with carbon blades and Hyperion 850 packs, weighs 379g.
When using the plastic blades, you need to keep the headspeed at 2200 rpm or less for safety. This seems low, but because of the incredibly light disk loading it flies great at that speed (or less). With the plastic blades and solid plastic paddles, the Ricco feels like a much larger helicopter than it is. The really surprising thing is how well it handles wind! With the heavy blades / paddles, it can be flown in 10-15 mph wind without a lot of stress.
When you are ready for crazy fun, swap on the fiberglass or carbon blades, install the light paddles and crank the headspeed up to 2500. Just be ready for it, because it becomes a 3D rocket that can do anything you ask it to do (or more, in my case!) and it handles it with style. And the amazing part is how little power it takes to fly it. At 2200 rpm, the TP1320 pack is good for 12 minutes of sport flying (loops, rolls, flips) and the 850 pack will net you 8 minutes. Crank up to 2500, and the 850 will still deliver 6+ minutes of 3D fun!
The LAHeli Ricco is a blast! It's freakishly quiet, so it makes a perfect yardbird for those early morning or late evening sorties. At 2000 rpm you can cruise around the yard in a relaxed manner, while still enjoying solid and predictable handling.
While true this isn't a beginner helicopter (at least to build) I can honestly say it is far easier to fly than the Honey Bee CP2, Blade CP / CP Pro, or even the Honey Bee King. Some will balk at the price, and exclaim "Why would I pay $180 for the Ricco, when a King is only $80". Truth be told, you will probably end up spending the $100 difference (or more) on the King just to get it to fly almost as well as the Ricco does right out of the box. We won't even talk about what it would take to get a CP2 / CP Pro to fly like the Ricco, because frankly it just ain't gonna happen. :)
If you are looking for a true 3D capable micro, one that can deliver long flight times on small inexpensive battery packs, and isn't run-of-the-mill, look no further than the LAHeli Ricco or Ricco SE.
Videos, Podcasts, Photos, and other resources
I took quite a few pictures during the assembly, and you can find them all in this online photo album. We discussed the Ricco in three episodes of InsideHeli Podcast. Here are direct links to all three shows (mp3 files):
This is an active builder / discussion thread for the Ricco on RCGroups.com
This is the walkaround video:
This is the flight video:
This is fellow Ricco owner Kyle, showing what it can really do:
Assan 2.4Ghz X8D hack
Wed, 22 Apr
This is not really a "review", more of testing and I had no place to put my thoughts and pics down, and maybe it will help others.
I just felt this needed a short review since many are interested in a cheaper alternative to 2.4Ghz radios / receivers.
I bought the X8D hack for my Airtronics RD6000 along with two of the mini 4ch 2.4Ghz receivers.
The RD6000 is a great radio, I like it. Having many berg receivers that I've never had an issue with, I didn't see the reasoning to acquiring an expensive "big name" radio and all new receivers. I would have bought the new Airtronics 2.4Ghz radio, but the receivers are MASSIVE and expensive!
With the X8D hack, there are only 3 wires to solder onto your existing transmitter. Typically this is easy and with forum help the chances of someone knowing your radio is great. I had help from Agrabusic since he has done this to his RD8000 (same thing really). So thanks to him!
Assan makes snap in modules for the guys that have the futaba, JR, etc. type module on the back of the radio. For everyone els, this X8D hack is the way to go.
Here is how my hack went. But first, take a look as these receivers next to my berg.
Tiny. Like gum.
Taking apart the transmitter is simple. Remove the battery (no you wont loose your model memory), unscrew the main antenna and remove that too. There should be phillips screws around the edge of the unit for you to remove (be sure to get them all). Then just un-snap the casing apart.
The RD6000 has pretty easy acces to everything.
Here is where I need to solder my X8D to my PCB.
For the negative, there is no solder point. I just scratched away a spot on the PCB (remove some green). Made a nice shiny circle and heated a spot of solder to it.
I then cut off the stock little pins that come on the hack module leads, stripped the 3 wires and tinned them with solder.
Once you know where your +, -, sig connections are - solder up. I think this is my trainer port wires..
Plug up the lipo and test the TX. The normal TX sound should happen and a couple seconds later you should see the light on the X8D and hear a loud BEEP.
Once I tested, I decided to find a spot to land this module. This spot is fine and the battery bay just barley touches it once everything is put back together.
At this point you can use a zip-tie, hotglue or reinforced packing tape all which are non conductive to make it stay. But even if it's not "tied down", this thing wont be able to move anyways.
Be sure to test the 72mhz antenna in place while finding a space for the X8D.
Once I knew things where going to sit properly, it was time to make the external antenna for the X8D stick out of the TX. To do this, use a 1/4 drill bit -it's a perfect fit.
Just screw it on and test the fitting. One nut for the outside and one for the inside. Tighten down once you have the proper length sticking out for the duck antenna.
It works as it should. To "disable" 72mhz broadcasting, I will just pull the CH crystal out.
Here are other options you can do during this procedure:
* Make a physical switch for "72/2.4" on the outside. (I wasn't sure where the wires for the 72 where..)
Here is a diagram for this mod:
* Make the LED from the X8D to the external of the casing (It's a loud beep, not needed for me)
* I wanted to make a physical switch for "throttle hold". (so the TH trim pot just wont work - I wasn't sure how.)
So far, I have not yet flown with this but just bench testing it works great. The old worn SuperFly will be the test subject.
- Very cost effective 2.4Ghz "freedom" ($60 for module and $20 for RXs)
- Very fast controls (over my 72mHz)
- Small light RXs
- Easy to install
- Support is great
- You will have to void your warranty on your TX (ahhhh)
- Not quite as "smooth" control surfaces as my bergs (although throttle is smooth)
- The system only works with a PPM radio and in PPM mode
- They don't offer a long antenna 'full range' 4ch RX (why not?)
The pros outweigh the cons for me. I will still use long antenna Bergs for my gliders and sailplanes. But.. I think the smaller planes will be slowly moved over to 2.4 as I test.
I will update this page once I get to really try this out.
If you need specific help here are two threads that can help you.
thread how it bench marks
thread specific radios
JS Models TZ-V2 Frenzy
Wed, 15 Apr
Specs (as reviewed)
Manufacturer: JS Models
Distributor: A Main Hobbies
Type: 50 Size Nitro Helicopter
Flying Weight: 8 lbs 8 oz / 3,855 grams ( fueled )
Engine: OS 50 Hyper
Pipe: CY MP5
Fuel: CY 20% and 30% ( normally 20% )
Main Blades: CY Radix 600 mm
Tail Blades: Stock and KBDD 95 mm
Electronics/Radio: TX - JR x9303 2.4ghz, RX - Spektrum AR7000, Cyclic servos - Hyperion DS20-FMD, Throttle Servo - JR DS537, TJ RevMax Rev Limiter, Gyro - CY Solid-G, Tail Servo - Futaba 9253, Regulator - Align 2 in 1, Lipo - GeForce 2250 2S
I am always on the look out for good performing RC Helicopters that are priced right. I was surfing around on HeliFreak Forums one day and saw a post about a new 50 size nitro RC Helicopter that was selling for $219.99. WOW! So I immediately headed to A Main Hobbies website to check it out as they are the distributor for this helicopter in the US. I was shocked to see what they were offering for that price. The helicopter design looked great in the pictures. The rotor head has the mixers on the grips which I have come to really like after owning other helicopters with this type of head. The servo and frame layout was nice. There is CNC aluminum bits in the head in all the right places. JS Models had pulled together some good designs from other RC helicopters and put them into one package. When talking with Chris about this helicopter, we both agreed that if the quality was there then this would be one really nice 50 size helicopter. So after a few phone calls and emails with Dan Smith at A Main Hobbies, they agreed to send me a kit for review..
Wanting to keep with the "low cost" theme, I decided to not fit out this model with a bunch of "high-end" and high priced components. With a little bit of shopping around and/or looking in various forums classified sections, you can easily fit out a 3D Frenzy for the same cost as a typical 450 class electric build. That is saying A LOT considering we are talking about a helicopter that is considerable larger then a 450 electric. The only thing I did not "skimp" on was the Gyro. With the level of flying I am doing these days, I want to have a Gyro on my helicopter that I am confident in.
There is really not much "building" when putting the 3D Frenzy together. When you open the box you will find that all of the sub-assemblies are already built at the factory for you. All you need to do is fit all the sub-assemblies together and install your engine, radio equipment and main blades. This is becoming more and more common these days.
The manual covers building the 3D Frenzy as if you were building it from a "bag-o-parts". So you will skip around in the manual a bit when putting the 3D Frenzy together. I found the manual to be pretty much on par with every other RC helicopter manual I have seen. Not great and not bad. Dan told me that they are working on a new manual for the 3D Frenzy that will be better than the one provided from the factory.
The only "issue" I had when putting the 3D Frenzy together was with the links that you install on the model, those from the servo to the bell cranks and from the bell cranks to the swash. None of them measured to the listed sizes in the manual. It is my understanding that the frame has been thru numerous revisions and I believe that the manual was printed for one of the earlier revisions. This is not too big of a deal as the sizes listed give you a good starting point to set up the head. Also, with different servos, the sizes of links can change as not all servos are built to the same specs. I have never really considered a manual's listed link lengths to be gospel anyway. I typically just set the rotor heads up on my helicopters the same and size the links as needed. While we are on the subject of the links, make sure you have a GOOD set of ball link pliers. The links snap on and off the balls with quite a bit more force then I was used to. I was a little worried that this would stretch out the links and cause some slop, but that is not the case. While removing a link with my "home made" ball link pliers, I broke one of the bell cranks. So heed my warning, make sure you have a good set of ball link pliers!
Included in the kit is an updated tail drive set. From what I have read, the original set's top bearing was wearing out prematurely. They have now put a bigger bearing in the top block and this should take care of that issue. It was nice to see that they included the updated part in the kit and did not require you to purchase it. JS Models and A Main have been very good about taking care of a few minor issues that have come up with this new model. Do not let these minor issues sway you in any way, all new kits will have a few "teething" issues crop up here and there. What is more important is how the manufacturer and distributor handle the issues. Without a doubt JS and A Main are doing a top notch job!
Servo installation on the Frenzy was thought out really well. Installing servos is the one part of a helicopter build I truly hate. Usually within 20 minutes I am screaming at the helicopter when installing servos. With the Frenzy, I was done before I knew it. They have put holes opposite the servo mounting holes on the frame so you can easily get to the bolt while installing servos. Oh, did I mention that they include nylock nuts and bolts to install the servos rather then screws and plastic mounts? They also include servo mounting plates! Very nice touch! To make your servo installation even easier, insert the bolts from inside the frame with the nuts on the outside. This way, you do not have to fight getting the nuts on the bolts between the frames. Just a little build tip!
The rotor head has adjustable ratios on the washout arms, mixer levers and flybar carrier. Out of the box, they have it setup for what I would call an intermediate setup. The manual does not touch on the different possible setups. Hopefully this is something that A Main will address when they put together the new manual. I am not going to go into detail as to what each ratio does as there is plenty of info on various forums that will explain it to you.
Installing the engine was quite easy to do. Mount the clutch and fan onto the engine crank shaft and then just slide it up into the frame. You need to do this before you install the landing gear and bottom plate. The bearing block that holds the clutch bell and start shaft is adjustable. After you get the engine in place, you can then adjust the clutch bell to get it properly lined up with the clutch. The process is really quite simple and covered well in the manual. Since the clutch threads onto the engine crank shaft, there is really no need to dial indicate anything. It is one of those "it is what it is" type of setups.
The quality of the parts is very good. Much better then I expected when considering the price of the kit. The aluminum parts are not polished, but they do not look bad at all. The plastic molded parts are very nice as well. They are also very "stout" to say the least.
For the first few flights I left the 3D Frenzy in its stock "out of the box" form. Out of the box the 3D Frenzy flies great! The collective and cyclic response is very good. The cyclic is not super fast, but more than adequate to pull off just about any 3D maneuver you can throw at it. It tracks very well in both forward and backwards flight. The 3D Frenzy settles into a hover very nicely from both take off and forward/backward flight. It is a very stable and smooth helicopter. I had no problems performing smooth loops and rolls as well as doing quick flips out of the box. For the beginner or intermediate flyer, I see no reason to make any changes to the 3D Frenzy out of the box. You will have a hard time "out-flying" it.
For my head speeds, I setup FM1 at 1950 rpm and FM2 at 2100 rpm. In flight mode one, I found when doing maneuvers that required a lot of pitch or cyclic that the engine would bog a bit. This is due to the 8.5:1 gear ratio of the 3D Frenzy. At 1950 rpm, the OS 50 is running below its optimal rpm. Switching to FM2 took care of this as now the OS 50 is running just above its optimal rpm. Now when you load up the head, the engine will fall into the optimal rpm and maintain head speed better. I kicked the head speed up to 2200 rpm for a couple of flights and the 3D Frenzy maintained head speed even better. If you are looking to do some hard 3D, then I would suggest you run the head speed above 2100 rpm. For general aerobatics and forward/backward flight, 1800-1900 rpm will be just fine as you will not be loading the up the engine.
The stock tail blades are more than adequate and handled just about anything I could throw at the tail. I could not get the tail to blow out even once. The winds were blowing around 10 mph with 25 mph gusts on this particular day. Doing tail slides from 100+ feet with a cross wind did not even phase the tail on the 3D Frenzy. You will see in some of the pictures and the flight video that I swapped out the stock tail blades for a set of KBDD yellow tail blades. I did this because I like how visible the tail is with those particular tail blades. I also swapped out the stock landing struts for the same reason.
After a few flights with the stock setup, I then put on a set of KBDD paddles. I was looking to increase they flip and roll rates a bit. These paddles did just that. They are lighter and smaller then the stock paddles. So with a few inexpensive changes, you can turn the 3D Frenzy into a quick 3D machine. A longer flybar and changing the mixing ratios will improve the flip and roll rates even more. I have not experimented with these two things yet, but will update when I do.
To sum it up, it did not matter if I was flying slow, precise, fast or hard, the 3D Frenzy performed great.
There is really only one thing I would change on the 3D Frenzy. The gear ratio. For the "3D Monsters" out there, the 8.5:1 ratio is perfect. They can run up the head speed to 2200 rpm and let her rip. But for the "mere mortals" such as myself, a ratio of 8.7:1 would be better. This would allow you to run the head speed around 2000 rpm and provide more than enough pop and keep the engine running just above its optimal rpm. Being that the clutch system is pretty much a Raptor 50 setup, I am going to try the optional 8.7:1 gearing that can be purchased for the Raptor 50. Again, I will update later when I have chance to install them..
The JS Models TZ-V2 3D Frenzy is a very well rounded helicopter. Out of the box, it will be a great machine for the beginner as well as the intermediate flyer. With a few changes to the mixing ratios and swapping out the flybar and paddles, it will please even the best of the 3D flyers out there. With the low purchase price and replacement parts cost, the 3D Frenzy makes a wonder model to train on. A typical crash, if there is such a thing, will not cost you much more than crashing a 450 size electric helicopter. So if you are a beginner looking for a good trainer or an intermediate/advance flyer looking for something to learn new maneuvers, then look no further then the 3D Frenzy.
Since originally writing this review, I have a few updates that I would like to address. The first one is the lengths of the links as supplied to me by the factory. Dan has informed me that this issue has been addressed at the factory and that now all links are coming in the kits sized properly. He mentioned that he is hearing from many customers that when they put their Frenzy together, they do not have to adjust any link lengths. Just snap it all together and fly with proper blade tracking and pitch ranges. This will save you some time as well as sore fingers! Another nice touch with this kit.
Also, I got around to installing the Raptor 50 Optional 8.7:1 gear set into my Frenzy. This is just what it needed if you are wanting to run your Frenzy around 1900-2000 RPM head speed. This now had the engine running just above it's optimal operating RPM and will fall into that range when you load up the head. Before this change, when I would do anything that loaded up the head, the head speed would decay throughout the maneuver and I would have to back off my collective to let the head speed build back up. I am no longer having to do this. If you like to run a 2200 RPM head speed, then you would not really need to be looking at doing this change.
You can hear more about the Frenzy by tuning in and listening to our show. Currently the following shows we talk about the Frenzy and there will be more later as I spend more time with the Frenzy.
Picures and Videos
Pictures of the build can be found in my Picasa Picture Album.
This is the Walk Around Video
Here is one of my Flights at the Austin Fun Fly, man was it windy!
Here is a video of Ben Storik working the Frenzy HARD! A Main has signed Ben up as Sponsored Flyer for them.
Compass Knight 600E
Sun, 05 Apr
Chris "JustPlaneChris" Boultinghouse
Manufacturer: Compass Model
Distributor: Common Sense RC
Type: 600 electric aerobatic helicopter
For: intermediate to advanced pilots
Flying weight (review model): 7.9 lbs / 3.58 kg
Radio: JR X9303 transmitter, Spektrum 7000 receiver, 3 Futaba 9452 servos on cyclic, and a JR on the tail (JR 770 3D gyro)
Power system: Stock 790kv outrunner, Hobby Wing Platinum 120A-HV ESC, and CSRC 8S 3700mah battery
Those of you who follow InsideHeli.com podcast probably know that I’ve been pondering the purchase of a 600mm electric helicopter for quite a while. I already have a 550mm heli (Century Swift) and the fact that it was almost as big kept me away from them for a while.
However, time goes on and after flying my nitro Compass Knight 3D for a while and feeling the goodness of 600mm blades I started looking seriously at the E-version again. Why the Knight 600E instead of the more popular Align T-Rex 600E? Several reasons:
Once the decision was made, it was time to see about getting one. As luck would have it, a conversation on HeliFreak regarding the Compass helis put me in touch with Dick at KBDD, LLC – then the US distributor of Compass products, and also their own line of excellent tail blades, dampers and paddles. One thing led to another, and Dick offered to send me a Knight 600E (8S version) to review for InsideHeli.com! He also included a set of dampers, tail blades and paddles. More about those items later.
One thing to note is that during the course of this review, the US distributorship has changed from KBDD, LLC to Common Sense RC. This does not reflect poorly at all on KBDD, in fact they did a lot to get the Compass name out there. CSRC is simply in a better position to further the brand and get them out to the hobbyists through their substantial local hobby shop network. This also frees up KBDD to continue development of their own product line.
Since CSRC was now involved, they provided a pair of their excellent 4S 3700 mah 35c lipo packs to use in a serial configuration for this review. These packs are loafing along in this application, and run so cool it’s hard to even tell they are warmer than ambient temperature after a flight!
The Knight kit included the Compass motor, but of course I still needed a speed controller – and a high voltage one at that! That means it was time to ring up my friend Greg Alderman at HeliDirect.com and see what neat goodies they have. Greg told me about the new Platinum series from Hobby Wing, and said that the Outrage team had been flying them for a while and really were impressed. That’s a good enough endorsement for me, so Greg worked a little pricing magic for me (thanks Greg!) and soon a Hobby Wing Platinum 120A-HV arrived at my doorstep.
That just left me needing cyclic servos, gyro, and a way to power the radio. To save time (and money), I just “borrowed” the cyclic servos and gyro from my nitro Knight. To power the radio, I ordered a Medusa HV regulator from my friend Bobby Smith at RREModels.com. And while there, I just couldn’t resist a shiny new Fusono Knight canopy. (There’s that vanity thing again….)
Okay, all the bits and pieces were in hand, so I was out of excuses. Time to build this thing!
The Knight comes largely pre-assembled, so this will be a rather short read. The frame is assembled, the head is assembled (only needing flybar installation) and the tail mechanism is pre-assembled as well. What I’ll do is just touch on things that I had trouble with, or that needed some clarification. Speaking of clarification, if you haven’t already seen them be sure to check out Finless Bob’s Knight 600E build video series on HeliFreak.com. Between his videos and the pictures that accompany this review, you should have no excuses when it comes to putting this thing together correctly!
First, a few words about the manual: While it’s not horrible, it’s not fantastic either. Unfortunately, this is typical of many helicopter kits. If you’ve built a few helicopters, this won’t bother you at all. And frankly, if you haven’t built a few helicopters you probably shouldn’t be building this one! The information you need is all there, but sometimes requires a bit of study and pondering before the light bulb comes on and you say “Oh, I get it!”
There is one thing that really annoyed me though: If you follow the sequence of assembly steps in the manual, you’ll be removing the motor later on in order to install the tailboom and belt assembly! Silly me, I followed the instructions and then had to remove the (already loctited) motor assembly later on. Bob didn’t have that issue in his build videos, because he followed a different assembly sequence for clarity during filming.
Onward! Everything goes together very well, and I had very few issues. I did need to shorten two of the link rods by about 2mm on each end to allow the links to thread on further, but that may or may not happen when you build yours. Link length is a very individual thing, and may vary slightly due to differences in servo arm geometry, etc.
Servo installation is straightforward, though there is a trick to getting the upper left servo into the frame. See the online photo album for a sequence of pictures showing how to work it into the frame without having to take the frame apart.
I did find aligning the flybar control arms to be frustrating at first, but then I realized it was much easier if I pivoted the arm all the way against the seesaw, snugged it down, then did the other one the same way. This assures they are parallel with each other, then you can simply adjust the paddles to align with the arms. Neat!
One other noteworthy item: The spindle bolts are not loctited, and this is clearly pointed out in an addendum to the instructions. I just want to be sure and point it out again for safety’s sake!
Other interesting or important things to note:
That’s really about all there is to the assembly. Please browse through the online album for plenty of pictures taken during the assembly.
As mentioned, the motor was included with the kit. It is a Compass-sourced outrunner of unknown manufacture. There is a sticker on the side that lists it as 760KV, and the headspeed measurements show that to be reasonably accurate. Note that it’s 8 pole, not 16 pole as written on the label in the photos. The motor has a 10 tooth pinion factory installed, and nice gold bullet-connectors are soldered onto the leads.
The ESC is the Hobby Wing Platinum as mentioned in the introduction. This is a large unit, with a beefy heat sink. I like the mounting bracket, as it allows one to bolt it to the frame. I had to slightly enlongate one of the mounting bracket holes for alignment, but the location is just perfect for nice wire routing. Programming was done with the “stick and beep” method since the programmer box was out of stock at the time of this review.
The BEC / voltage regulator is a Medusa Potencia 3.5A 5/6volt unit. While this may seem a bit on the low side, it has proven itself quite capable of handling the power needs of a 50 size helicopter by many owners.
Cyclic servos are Futaba 9452, while tail duties are handled by a JR 7703D paired with the JR 8900G.
And finally, power to the whole thing is supplied by a pair of 4S 3700mah 35C CSRC packs, connected in series. This is very easy to do since I use Anderson Powerpole connectors. Charging is typically done in parallel, since this equalizes voltage across the packs automatically. These batteries are beasts, and the 35C rating is actually overkill for a HV power system like the Knight. However, overhead is a nice thing to have since it keeps everything cool and un-stressed.
Be honest, you skipped right to this section didn’t you? Don’t feel bad, I do it to. Just be sure and eventually go back and read the rest of it, ok?
If you’ve listened to the podcast, you have no doubt heard James and me ramble on and on about how incredibly well the Knight 3D flies, so take all that and apply it to the Knight 600E – minus the engine noise and smoke trail. With the headspeed dialed in at 1950, the cyclic and collective response is (not surprisingly) just the same as my nitro-powered Knight 3D at the same headspeed. Flight times on the 3700 mah pack are a comfortable 6 minutes, without breaking the “80% rule” of the battery capacity.
Due to the design of the battery mounting area, you can run much larger packs if you so desire and get longer flights. Simply shift them fore / aft to get the CG where you want and strap ‘em down. In fact, I recommend larger batteries just because they will work less and last longer!
But wait Chris, only 1950 rpm you say? Not enough for you, Mr. Headspeed Junkie? No problem! Just dial up the throttle curve a little and go nuts! My initial spoolup with an 80% transmitter setting in governor mode netted a scary 2550 rpm! While that’s certainly not necessary (or recommended!) it’s good to know the power system has the guts to really crank those big 600mm sticks.
The Compass Knight 600E is a fantastic machine! In the right hands it is capable of the most hardcore smackdown 3D imaginable. Not my hands, of course. But even for my more sedate flying style, it’s a very enjoyable machine. I can honestly say I’ve never flown any other helicopter that has this same seductive mix of power, stability, and agility. Every flight brings a perma-grin to my face, and that’s what this hobby is all about. If you are in the market for a 600mm e-bird, do yourself a favor and find someone who has a Knight 600E and check it out. I think you’ll be impressed.
Videos, Podcasts, and Photos
I took quite a few pictures during the assembly, and you can find them all in this online photo album along with a couple of Eagle Tree data logs from the first couple of flights. We discussed the Knight in three episodes of InsideHeli Podcast. Here are direct links to all three shows (mp3 files):
This is the walkaround video:
Here's a video of the 2nd flight, with the stock plastic canopy and one of my "trademark" dayglow paint jobs.
And finally here's a video with some more aggressive flying (not me!), and shows the Fusono canopy:
MS composit Swift II
Sat, 31 Jan
By Jamie "GFBurke"
Name: Swift II Dragon
Type: Electric EPP foam wing.
For: Beginner to advanced pilots
Flying weight: cca 300 g (10.6 oz)
Radio: Airtronics RD6000 Super / Berg4 / 2x 7-9g servos
Power system: SCM-3223 motor / Scanner RC SCS-15A ESC / Dualsky 3s
CG: 180-185mm from nose tip
The swift series has been one of the best selling series in RC wings across the board. With many modifications, a wide variety of power systems to choose from and unique flying characteristics setups, the swift platform is a very affordable RC plane. Also make note, there are a wide variety of custom printed wings to choose from (even plane white).
The Swift II is the middle man in the swift wings. There is also a Swift Mini and I currently own and fly the Maxi Swift. The Maxi Swift is a bit slower and "floatier" then the II and mini.
Everything you need in the wing kit is included for the Swift. Take a look at these pictures for a close up as to what you get. Really, you will just need electronics and CA (or goop). Control horns, rods, tubes (etc.) and manual are all here. I decided on going with this Dragon scheme. MS Composite also sent me this motor and speed controller. This combo is esthetically sexy being red and black. I've never used Scanner products before, but I'm already a fan.
I always start off by laying everything out so I can see it. Read through the manual (5 times) to make sure I wont miss anything. The first step was to put the two halves of the main wing together. Be sure the bottom the wing is facing up when you join them. I used a thin spread of goop, then some CA and kicker around the edges to make it stay while the goop dried.
While the main wings where drying, it was time to get my electronics laid out, tested and soldered together. I don't use bullets any longer, I would rather solder the motor to the ESC directly.
The motor and the Swift kit did not include long enough screws to go through the motor mount and into the motor. Luckily I found some screws that where a bit longer and the same thread type for the motor.
(In some of these pictures you will notice I did attempt to put the motor inside the motor mount - this would have worked, however I would have had to use a tiny prop)
The pre-hinged EPP planes are great. I'd rather have them do it then me attempting to make hinges. The swift series all have pre-hinged control surfaces. One issue that we find with pre-hinge, is that the control surface is much to stiff of the box. Some attempt to cut and re-hinge, some say to bend them back and forth to loosen them up. However I found a method that didn't take ANY work and made them feel like tape hinges.
Just fold the surfaces up under the plane. Let sit over night. When you go to test them out, you will be amazed on how they feel. The stock control horn will no longer be an issue (some where putting larger horns on attempting to get a better throw).
It's really nice of the manufacture to make holes where the electronics go. The placement and size of the holes may have made since at one point in time, however the electronics used today will not work with the stock cutouts. I do like the fact they show you where to put the servos, but beyond that, they cut outs are not much help.
You will have to cut the holes larger depending on what electronics your going for. Lay them all out and decide where to put things. Remember, on a wing you want everything up front as far as you can.
Glue in the motor mount with the motor set in. Put your servos in where they should go. Then you will see where to put the rest.
Once things are laid out well. Cut your holes out the exact size you need. I used some of the EPP that I had to cut out and used it to fill in the part of the holes I didn't need.
Next up was figuring out where and how to mount a lipo. I'm going with a 1000mAh 3s lipo. The instructions are not much help (generally) and after you see how others are dong it, you will come up with a method. Some mount the lipo on top of the plane, some don't for cosmetics reasons. I'm one of them.
Find out where you need your CG with the battery. I then cut out the battery compartment so my 3s would have a snug fit. It's very hard not to cut all the way through the wing when doing this.
I then took some Gorilla Glue and made a thin layer on the inside of this compartment. Then laying down some velcro, let this sit overnight. When you come back, you will notice you have a very hardened compartment.
I then took some very strong 3M reinforced tape and layered it to make a door. It's about 4 layers of this really strong tape. I then glued one side into this compartment I made. Placed my lipo inside and found where the tape went over the lipo and touched the EPP on the other side. Once determined, I made a velcro spot on the EPP for the door. I did end up using staples on the velcro and tape door. Then tape over the edges.
This is a very strong door and I will only be landing in grass.
The other mod I had to do was to make protectors for my servos. Again, this may be why many builders put the servos on the top of the wing. But again.. I wanted to keep the top really clean. So I found some round servo horns and slid them half way into the EPP with CA. These should work fine as they are taller than the servo arm.
It was time to find my CG and do the bench tests. Finding out the power pull and figuring flight times. Here is where it came out:
18A @ 204w with 8x6 GWS HD prop - 3s Xpower 1000mAh 25C
14.6A @166w with 8x4 GWS HD prop - 3s Xpower 1000mAh 25C
308g RTF (with lipo)
218g (no lipo)
I figured to go with the 8x4 prop since I'm using a 15A ESC and for longer flight times.
Here is the finished look
(next to Maxi)
The very first maiden of this craft was amazing. My building skills must be getting better because I did not have to touch trim or move CG - it was perfect. Gave it an underhanded toss at around 1/2 throttle and the swift just lifted up. I was able to maintain flight at around 1/3 to 1/2 throttle. This kept it nice, slow and floaty. Once I got the real feel of her, I punched it. The 14A of power made it go from slow, to ballistic! Really, this did not look natural transitioning to full throttle. It took off so fast, it really did remind me of a UFO video when the little dot just zips away! BAM - gone. I was blown away at the preciseness even after the speed boost. Still, no trims needed. Pointing the nose to the clouds revealed she didn't care and would just keep going. Taking it to a speck, then cutting the throttle and floating around is just 'fun'.
Landing on grass is what I do. She has no issues coming is slow and plopping down at your feet. All around.. just what I've wanted from RC flying. Slow and floaty if you want. Fast and furious if you want. Then easy landings.
A beginner aircraft?
If you have help from someone that has a delta wing and could assist in building, CG, trimming. Yes. I have taken this from 7ft up, full throttle into the ground nose first. It bounces and laughs. Of course fly in a grass field and you should be fine. I see no reason why this could not be a second plane to an RC enthusiast if you have your orientation down.
Things I would have done differently now that I've built one:
This is the first time I can say this - NONE.
Now that I have an airbrush, I may go over the bottom electronics with white paint. :)
-Buy one. Buy two. You need this.
- MSComposit should give us the cut out EPP chunks that they have removed
- Scanner RC should give longer screws OR MSComposite should include the screws needed for this setup
- How do you program this ESC? Manual does not make since (to me).
I enjoy this much more then I do the bigger brother - the Maxi Swift.
Soon! When the weather is liking me!
random swift vids
e-foamies: EPP Edge 540T ARF
Sat, 10 Jan
Name: EPP Edge 540T ARF
Type: Electric foam 3D Edge 540T.
For: Intermediate to advanced pilots
Flying weight: 12-14oz AUW
Size: 34in wing
Radio: Airtronics RD6000 Super / Berg4 / 4x 7-9g servos
Power system: Xmotor 2826CA-18T / 18A ESC
CG: 1-2in behind the wing spar
Looking at the long list of foam 3D planes, there seems to be only a handful that incorporate a full fuse and airfoil design. The Edge 540T from E-foamies is just that and looks great out of the box. Here is a nice list from e-foamies planes to choose from. It seems this Edge and the Revolution are quite popular and everybody who has them - flies them for years. The EPP construction is a great feature that allows people like myself to fly without much worry. I've heard nothing but good things from this line, so I decided to give the 540T a go!
My 3D experience so far is a Flash 3D and a ParkZone Typhoon 2, so I’m looking forward to a full fuse 3D-capable EPP model.
I'm used to getting fed flat pieces of EPP foam and having it called an "ARF". Almost ready to fly meant one thing to me until I got into RC. But wow! Opening the box I seriously thought my shipment was opened up during a UPS shipping operation and the employees started to build my plane. But looking closer I have learned that this is the way they come! Check out the photos - Main fuse about all put together, wings with CF spar and tape, nice airfoil and painted. The work alone in getting this part done would justify the cost of this kit..
Well since the build was almost done (I opened the box) it was time to put those finishing touches on her. I will try to follow the manual, but I do things a certain way. This comes from building a few planes and creating your style.
First things to do were to get the main wings on. Slider her in and glue it down. I used standard CA on this since it's EPP. Be sure to measure wing tip to fuse on both sides so you know you have it in even.
Next up was the tail. Use the vertical stab as the template just like the instructions say to do. It doesn't have to be perfect, but you can see how I lined up the template to the fuse in the pictures Also what you can see I have done is made my tape hinges on the control surfaces. I used this method to do so. Works out great! Although, do leave a small gap between the surfaces when taping.
If there were a difficult spot of the build, your at it now. The spot where you have to get all your hinges, control horns and tail setup and square. Take your time and do use a square. If you do, your flights will be much smoother and happier. Remember to only use "foam safe CA" for this area. Depron will melt with normal CA.
Continuing on the controls (since I have the tools out) we hit the ailerons now. This is how I do my 45deg angles. Use a new blade and lay the foam on a table. Not a brown coffee table that's expensive and nice. or your wife will let you have it later..
I used the same tape hinges here. It was time to put in the electronics now. Be sure to always test your electronics outside of the craft. You don't want to glue them in to find out a servo doesn't work. I did follow the instructions on placement for the servos. But if you know me, I have a stack of typhoon control rods laying around - so I used these. The kit does come with CF and bits to make your own rods, but these typhoon ones are just too easy (but if you do notice from the pictures, I did end up having to use the 'glue some CF' to make my ailerons control rods a bit longer.)
The bottom fuse piece takes some time. Line up the tail end and slowly with foam safe CA and accelerator work your way towards the front. It was too long, so I did cut the larger end off. You will see it when you get to it. Take your time here.
Once this was on, I cut a door in the bottom for the battery. I used CA to hold the velcro to the tape, then tape over velcro. The tape is strong and can be used like a hinge. I had a piece of coroplast, but cold not find it. But that makes a great door too. I used gorilla glue to hold down the velcro for the lipo.
Now it's time to check center of gravity (CG) and test your control surfaces. Do this with no prop on the motor. This Edge was pretty simple to set CG just right due to following the basic placement of the electronics via the instructions and other pictures I've seen. I always make a mark for CG points on the planes. I did add a bit of paint and tape to the plane. The canopy was painted from the inside out then glued down with normal CA. Again I use a prop saver and fly in grass so I don't use the landing gear. Although the wheels that came with it are nice!
Power specs: 14.4A @ 165 WOT
All up weight with lipo (rtf) = 419g
- Need to set CG back a bit. Had it up closer to the 1in mark. A little nose heavy.
- Need to lower the expo a bit. I have 70% on surfaces. Almost too squishy controls.
Maiden part two:
- CG is perfect at 2in behind CF spar
- Expo is great at 50%.
This is a great plane for a 3D trainer. It feels much more "loose" than the Flash3D. She will fly slow or a bit quick if needed. The Xmotor 2826CA-18T, 10x4.7 prop, prop saver and Dualsky 3s lipo all do a perfect job. I am very happy that snap-rolls and harriers are simple to do, again assuming you have a perfect CG. Mine could be a bit lighter, however I wanted this to really last. It's a beautiful plane and flies as such.
As the instructions say, DO make your control surfaces fly as much as they physically can without binding onto something.
A beginner aircraft?
I'd have to say the building part of the plane could be done by a beginner as long as they had somebody who had experience helping. Also, taking the time and not rushing really helps out. But you may be better off having one or two EPP planes built first - it will really help in the build process (practice on something cheaper). Flying the aircraft as a beginner again could be done provided the beginner had 3D sim experience. My first plane was a Typhoon II. Yet I practiced the Typhoon on the sim for many hours so I was able to do it out of the box. But not a person that's never felt a real TX before. If anything, a person that is experienced in CG, control surfaces, lipo management is helping out on the buddy box, sure.
Things I would have done differently now that I've built one:
Every plane I've built, I've always found myself thinking "I'd do that differently". In the Edge 540's case, I would probably try to make her even lighter. Not that it's heavy, but maybe using less glue in some places. Also, taking even more time to make sure that tail is lined up before the glue dries. I'm not awesome at cutting out plastic canopies, so I did rush just a bit. I suppose I would scoot the aileron servos back just a bit so the stock typhoon control rods would have reached.
If you have a bit of 3D flight or 3D sim flight experience, then this plane is a wonderful addition to your fleet! You would be hard pressed to match the build quality, resilience to damage, fun and price. If you want to get into 3D, do practice on the trainer for a couple hours a day for a week or two. That's what I've done and I'm happy diving right into foam 3D.
but here is anthers video for now
Aerofly Pro Deluxe Sim review
Sun, 14 Sep
Developer: IKARUS and IPACS
Distributor: Hobby-Lobby, International
MSRP: $229.00 USD
• CD discs
• instruction booklet
• USB “Transmitter” controller
• Add-On Vol. 1 & 2
Minimum system requirements
Recommended system requirements
A flight simulator is a wonderful tool that can either help a beginner learn to fly, or a seasoned pilot learn a few new tricks. I started flying RC with a Picco Z knockoff and then a Blade CX2. I really didn’t need a sim for this, but eventually wanted to fly something a bit more realistic. I did a lot of reading and discovered that a flight sim was available to help an aspiring pilot by saving him some time repairing and some cash from replacing. I went out and picked one up and it did help me greatly. While I never mastered flight with a helicopter, I could do some basic sport flying and hovering. Then I moved to fixed wing, and after a couple of weeks on the flight sim, I was ready for the real thing and did exceptionally well my first time out.
Jason of Hobby-Lobby was gracious enough to join us for an episode of ATTF earlier this year and while we were interviewing him he mentioned Aerofly Professional Deluxe Flight Simulator (AFPD for short). I have tried most of the well known sims, but never had a chance to fly AFPD. Jason mentioned Hodges Hobbies Field and that the USA edition Add-On included Hodges field as one of the scenery options. I was fairly excited about the ability to fly virtually at Hodges without enduring the 10 hour drive from Raleigh. A few weeks following our interview with Jason, a package from Hobby-Lobby showed up on my door step with Aerofly Professional Deluxe and the USA Edition Add-On5.
Installation and Packaging
Aerofly Pro Deluxe can be purchased with or without a controller. The version I received included a USB controller. At first I was not thrilled at the included controller and considered picking up the USB adapter cable that would allow me to use my own transmitter. After the first few flights, I was for the most part convinced that I would in fact purchase the adapter so I wouldn’t have to use the provided stiff and featureless controller, I really didn’t like it. Well, a few weeks later I gave it another try and found that after getting used to it, I prefer it. I don’t have to find my TX or keep it near my PC. I also don’t run the risk of leaving my TX on and running down the battery. While trying some 3D moves, I found that I do better with the high tension sticks since I don’t tend to drift my thumbs. You must make very deliberate moves with this controller and it prevents your thumbs from drifting left or right when you are moving the sticks up and down. I am a thumber, not a pincher and I think I am going to add even more tension to the sticks of my DX7 after using this controller.
The install goes quick and smooth. I had no issues at all. I didn’t even open the manual. Simply drop in the CD and follow the prompts. I tried running the program before updating it. I found that without the patches it runs well. However, I did update it by going to the AFPD website and downloading the latest update. It included all previous updates which makes it easy. Just download the latest version. Once the download is completed simply double click the file and follow the prompts. It is very easy to install and update AFPD. Even a technophobe could do it.
As for the instruction manual, it seems to be very thorough. I didn’t spend a great deal of time with it, but it does seem to answer any question you would have about the install or the controller. And it does a very good job of showing you where items are in the menu system of the sim itself.
Features, Flying and Graphics
The AFPD site provides a great list of features, and here is a slightly edited rehash.
• 84 aircraft models: aerobatic airplanes, 3D-funflyer, 3m-TOC models, 15 helicopters, Jets, VTOL-Harrier, Gliders,
Biplanes, Slope-soarer, Shockflyer, Pylon-racer, Slowflyer, multi-blade helicopters, and much more...
• 28 beautifully designed sceneries (including 14 photo-realistic sceneries)
• USB interface to connect your own transmitter (adapter for many common radios is included).
• Full collision detection with all objects in the scenery, including trees.
• Realistic simulation of the airplane sound in 3D, like the doppler effect
• Simulation of retractable gears and moving wings
• 2 player split-screen mode allows you to fly AeroFly with your friends on the same computer.
• Recording/Playback and Saving of flights.
• Torque-Roll training with many different models, like the Cap232, Giles202, Extra 330, Shockflyer.
• Autorotation practice with the helicopter.
• Hundreds of free user made models available.
• Many free user made sceneries available.
• Simple file format for creating your own sceneries and aircrafts.
• Different contests like balloon popping, drag racing, pylon racing or spot landing a 2nd view window.
I have flown many RC simulators. Real Flight, Phoenix and Reflex are all installed on my PC. I have found likes and dislikes with each of them. I wouldn’t classify myself as easy to please when it comes to a RC flight simulator. AFPD had some big shoes to fill in order to make the cut and stay installed on my PC. After starting the program, I was in the main menu system. I took a few minutes to setup the options to suit my system and my taste. I also went through the controller setup and did the calibration. Took just a few minutes to complete and then I started to look through the available aircraft. My first impression was not that great. Most of these are gas or glow engines and not electric. The electric planes tend to be tiny. I was also a bit disappointed that I couldn’t find anything that I have actually flown except the little profile shockflyer. There is a nice selection of planes and helicopters to fly, but not what I was hoping for. I would like to see more electric planes with the base install.
On startup, the graphics are very impressive. I love photo realistic fields. It doesn’t look like a cartoon and is more like being at a real field. I was testing this on a PC equipped with an 2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo. 2GB of RAM and dual nVidia 88OOGTs in SLI mode @ 1920x1200 on a 24 inch Dell LCD. It looks great and will hold its own with any of the competitors products.
Jamie has been building a GeeBee and I noticed one very similar to the one he is building in the list. I thought I would give that a try and just see what I thought of the GeeBee. Wow, this thing is a handful to say the least. Landing planes in other sims can be extremely simple. I really hate it when you can cut the throttle on a simulator and just glide a plane in to an ultra smooth landing surface with ease. Well, AFPD quickly showed me it is not like that. I simply could NOT land the GeeBee. I noticed I even had to be careful while taxing the plane down the runway. This is not what I was expecting, and I was very happy to see ground interaction when landing and taxing for take offs. I also love how you have to really work at landing the plane. Now a GeeBee from what I understand is not simple to fly nor land. The model in AFPD is also very hard to fly and land. I bet it took 8 approaches and attempts before I successfully landed the GeeBee!
From there I thought I would try a little 3D. I found a big 79” GS Yak-54 Profile plane and loaded it up. It is a glow plane, but I wanted to try a hover and see how close it matched my hover at the field. I did a nice quick take off with this powerhouse. Did a few laps to get the feel of it and then popped the nose up. Yep, pretty close to the real deal. The ailerons seem to have a bit more authority than they should, but just like in real life, my hover sucks! I did some snap rolls and knife edges and AFPD doesn’t make you falsely feel like Andrew Jesky. My 3D moves in AFPD look as bad on my PC as they do on the field. AFPD is very true to actually flying an RC plane.
AFPD allows you to set basic environmental variables like wind speed, turbulence, thermic, wind direction and surface roughness. All of these settings are metric and it would be nice to have an English Standard option as well. I would like to see them add an option for random wind direction so you would have to deal with wind shifts like you do in real life, but the wind settings are enough to help you with learning to fly in windy conditions. I was able to do a few vertical landings with the right wind speed. This seemed very accurate based on the few vertical landings I have done at the field.
After this I decided to install the USA Add-On 5. Of course the first thing I did was load up Hodges Hobbies Field where SEFF is held each year. I was amazed and slightly sad at the same time. The photos are a bit dated and the first thing you see is the old Cub sitting there at the end of the pits. Sadly the Cub was involved in a crash and is no more, but it was cool to see it, but still a little saddening. It is great seeing that someone is sitting in one of the many rocking chairs on the porch and the pitts are in use. I would buy the USA Add-On 5 just for this reason!
AFPD does what it was intended to do and does that very well. I started this review with a simulator that was my clear favorite. Did AFPD change that? Yes, but it doesn’t take the top spot all alone. I now have 2 Sims that I enjoy a great deal. I really didn’t expect AFPD to even come close, but it shocked me. The initial things I didn’t like about it were caused by my own lack of knowledge of this product. I thought you could only use the supplied controller, but found out later it was available with a USB adapter that will connect to your transmitter. I also thought that AFPD didn’t have any free models or scenery available. Well, a bit more research shows me it does have and there are even fan sites out there with some very good models.
Overall, AFPD is a great sim. It ranks up there with my other favorite and as its user base grows so will the downloadable models. That is really the ONLY thing holding it back from being my favorite. As far as function goes, it is just as good if not better than any other RC Flight simulator I have tried!
Hobby-Lobby F/A-18 "Red Viper"
Tue, 24 Jun
By Jamie "GFBurke"
Name: F/A-18 "Red Viper"
Distributor: Hobby-Lobby, Intl
Type: Electric foam Ducted Fan Jet
For: Intermediate to advanced pilots
Flying weight: (review model): 19-3/4 oz. (560g)
Size: 28" (686mm) wingspan, 37" (980mm) long
Prop: 5 blade ducted EDF
Radio: Airtronics RD6000 Super transmitter with Hitec 6s Receiver, 4x 9g Servos.
Power system: MOTOR 14L inrunner EDF, 25A ESC, 3s 1300mAh 18C lipo.
CG: 580mm from nose tip
The new F/A-18 "Red Viper" from Hobby-Lobby is decorated in the scheme of the The "Diamondbacks" of VFA-102, complete with decals!
I have never flown an EDF jet before, but I love the idea of not seeing a prop sticking out and not having to worry about being hit by it! And of course, the sound is very appealing.
Upon opening the box, everything seemed to be in order. All the parts were wrapped individually in plastic, then placed into a nice egg carton container.
All four servos are already glued in place with the control horns tightened on. The motor and ESC are at home and ready as well. The airframe is molded of a hard foam much like that of the Stryker.
The two servos that stick out of the fuselage are "Y'ed" together. These two servos control the elevator and move together on the same channel. The nose carries the steerable front wheel, so there is nothing to do to set up the ground control. I cannot get a close shot of the motor or ESC, so I'm not so sure what name brand they really are. Deans connectors where already soldered on the ESC and lipo (yea for me!).
I noticed the nose cone is made of a very soft material, as shown in these pictures. I'm sure this is for weight reduction, however I'm not so sure it's going to withstand my awesome landings.
The instructions say to glue the fuse halves together, however this was already done for me. Not only was the main fuse together, the 4th (aileron) servo is hidden in the fuse. This one servo connects to the rod going through the fuse, then into the main wing rod setup.
Step one was to put the landing gear in place. The design of the holder would allow the gear to be placed on backwards, since the hole for the aluminum are in front and in back. I studied the pictures of completed models, and set them up correctly.
The next step says to "put the control horns in". Well, that's about all the help you get! As you can see, the job requires a bit more thought on just how to make this all work. In the picture below, you can see that you only get 8 screws so that means 2 screws per horn. For extra peace of mind, I used the goop that was included on top of the 2 screws to really hold in the horns.
Designing this mechanical movement with just "install the control horns" takes some thinking. Not a big deal once you see it, but no real pictures were included to show you how. So this is what it looks like when it's good to go. All in all, it's a very cool design and unlike any setup I've seen before. The short rods are used for the ailerons, and the longer rods are used for the elevator. It works very smoothly.
I found it was easier to put the goop on the wing, then insert the aluminum stick that comes out of the fuse into the screw holder. Basically, thread that stick in the hole while gluing on the main wing. Otherwise, you will have to remove the screw that holds that strange "two-armed horn" then thread it through.
Be sure to get all rods and threads the same length on each side. Of course, turn on the radio and zero out the servo then align your control surfaces, then tighten up the screw that holds the threaded aluminum rod.
The next step is to put on the wings. This part was simple because everything fits nicely together and is obvious where each part goes. Again, I just used the standard goop that came with the kit (this is the same as the GWS goop).
Now we need to put the nose section onto the main fuse and body. Make sure all your and servos are working! Plug everything in and do a quick test to avoid pain later.
The fuse and nose fit together perfectly. You will need to decide on your electronic equipment placement before you glue this in. There are two opening doors, but the manual doesn't state what is for what item. However, to get the CG properly set you really only have one option: Put the lipo up front. In order to place the included lipo in the front hatch, you must cut a little bit of foam to get the deans and wires through. The front wheel servo will also be going into this area to reach the back hatch and RX.
I pulled my wires where I wanted them, then put glue on the nose piece and slowly placed the nose while pulling wires at the same time being sure nothing was going to get pinched.
Yes the plane now has proper center of gravity (per instructions) with the 3s 1300 in front and the RX in the back hatch.
I didn't install the drop tanks for now, but I may later since it will give it a better scale look. I wish it came with a couple of Sidewinders for the wing tips! That would be cooler than drop tanks. Incidentally, the manual states these are "missiles" but no, just drop tanks. I can guess where they go but nothing is stated as to where to install them anyways.
24A @ 259W WOT
Plane starts to roll @ 1.5A
All up weight with lipo (rtf) = 584g
The jet taxis on the ground with ease. Lift-offs are smooth, and roll rates are solid and quick. The jet feels good in the air and moves quickly on low passes. It loses speed really quickly on tight turns, however in an easy turn you retain most speed. This is probably a feature of most EDFs, but I have nothing to compare to since this is the first one I've flown. The way it is out of the box, it is slightly nose heavy. This can be fixed by moving the lipo back slightly.
As with many military models, orientation is easily lost if you fly out too far, and that is a scary feeling! If you know the craft well, then you should be ok taking it out further.
Landing are nice and smooth. You can take her in slower than you think and almost "harrier" it in. I was quite amazed as I attempted to stall the jet facing into the wind. It almost came straight down on the wheels! It is very easy to land, even for somebody like me.
A beginner aircraft?
The plane isn't designed for a beginner flier. However, since most everything is already done for you, a beginner could probably put it together if somebody with some experience was there as a mentor. I think with better instructions a beginner could do it just fine, but as it is the instructions consist of about 5 steps. The pictures are tiny and one whole step is dedicated to setting up all horns and controls. It states "Connect the control rod with clevis". That's really not adequate for someone who hasn't put together a few models already.
As a side note: What year is this? I understand that full graphic images can be costly to print, but a URL in the manual to a wiki or some other collaborative build guide would be very helpful for everybody. Most RC models suffer from inadequate instructions, but a wiki is free. Ok, off the soapbox and back to the review.
- The manual and paper-thin nose cone.
- The CG point is not correct in the manual. You need it about 5mm back from the specified point.
- The clevises need to be secured more than just the "snap in place" method provided.
This model is an amazing value. For under $200, all you need to add is your own transmitter and receiver. If you heed the cautions on center of gravity and securing the clevises, you should be just fine. We chose to put some mechanical "up" in the elevator and used a bit lighter lipo in the front to get proper CG. I think many people are making both compartments together as one, then mounting the lipo in about the middle of the chambers. Keep her in close if you have orientation issues or older eyes. The landings are super easy!
Things I would have done differently now that I've built one:
1: I may leave off the lading gear entirely since I fly in nice grass. Remove the 4th servo and LG to save some weight.
2: Could be possible to setup that 4th servo to do a rudder or a thrust vectored mod.
3: Find some Missiles!
>>> HD Video <<<
Hobby-Lobby F5B Tiger Review
Sun, 15 Jun
by Chris "JustPlaneChris" Boultinghouse
Distributor: Hobby-Lobby, International
Type: Sport or F5B Competition
Flying weight: 38 oz. / 1077 g
Length: 36.5 in. / 927 mm
Wing span: 67 in. / 1701 mm
Wing area: 330 sq in / .212 sq m
Wing loading: 16.5 oz/ sq ft / 5.03 kg/ sq m
Radio: JR 9303 transmitter with DSM2 module, Spektrum AR6200 receiver, 2 Hitec 125MG thin wing servos on ailerons, and a Hitec HS65HB for the elevator
Power system: AXI 2217/9D + PG3 outrunner motor w/Gearbox, Jeti Spin 44 ESC, and PolyQuest 3300 3S Lipo. Prop is Aero-Naut 14x12 carbon folder.
Power output (static): 46 amps / 527 watts, 5200 rpm
MSRP (airframe only): $339.90
Price as tested (not including transmitter): $970.20
The F5B Tiger, distributed by Hobby-Lobby, International, is a fully-molded electric-launched sailplane. This type of model is often referred to as a "hotliner", and is similar to the models used in F5B competition. For those not familiar with F5B competition, the models are required to fly both distance (speed) and duration tasks, with the caveat that the motor cannot be run while on the course. This means the models must possess incredible rates of climb, since they must streak back to altitude as fast as possible before re-entering the course, as well as the ability to go fast and glide for long distances. Of course since they need to make "pylon racer" turns at both ends of the distance course, the models must also be extremely strong to withstand the g-loading. The Tiger fits the description! Soon after Hobby-Lobby contacted me to do this review, a large box arrived at my door. Having built and flown many models over the years, I have pretty high standards when it comes to fit and finish so I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the box. I am happy to say I was very impressed with the workmanship and quality. All the details were there - from the wing bolt sockets to the "wipers" on the ailerons and elevator. The airframe is of absolutely stunning quality, with no imperfections in fit and finish to be found no matter how close you look. Let's get on with the build!
There is really no "building" to be done with the Tiger, since the airframe is completely molded and arrives fully assembled. The wing and tail are bolt-on affairs, so the only tasks left up to you are the installation of the servos and the motor. Hobby-Lobby provided a fiberglass firewall with my Tiger, but unfortunately the bolt pattern of the AXI motor did not match any of the holes. Upon further measuring, even had I slotted the mount for the bolts, there would have been very little material left around the bolt holes. Since the mount is also too large to fit inside the nose without sanding, I simply made a mount from 1/8" aircraft plywood. The mount was then bolted to the motor and slid in from the wing opening. Once I was satisfied with the fit and position, I mixed a batch of 30 minute epoxy and milled glass fiber to a thick consistency and epoxied the firewall in place. A neat trick is to use the prop hub/spinner assembly to assure the mount is parallel with the front of the fuselage. Simply slide it onto the gearbox output shaft until it touches the fuselage, while pushing the motor forward from behind (use a stick to reach it). Tighten the retaining bolt and let everything cure.
Servo installation may be a bit of a surprise to some folks, since they are epoxied into the airframe! The first step is to remove the mounting lugs, since not only can they not be used, but they also simply won't fit if you leave them on. There are no pushrods supplied with the Tiger, so I picked up some 12" standard pushrods and Sullivan clevises from the hobby shop. The aileron pushrods are quite short, with Z-bends on the servo end and a clevis for the aileron horn. Speaking of the horns, these are nice brass units that thread into sockets that are molded right into the ailerons! All I had to do was drill out the hole slightly so the clevis pin would fit, then they were threaded into the ailerons.
Fishing the servo wires down through the wing is made easy with pre-installed pull-strings! Just plug in a 12" extension cable, tape the string to the end, and pull it through to the opening in the center of the wing. Here's a trick: Use a length of waxed dental floss to tie the connector together on the extension so it can never come unplugged.
The servo horns must be trimmed quite short in order to fit everything under the supplied servo covers, but that doesn't present any problems since you don't need much control throw anyway. One item to note: You will need to notch the lower wing skin so the aileron horn can move forward, otherwise you won't be able to get any downward aileron travel. A rotary tool made short work of that task.
Once I was satisfied with the linkage geometry and operation of the servos, I cleaned the servo case with denatured alcohol, then carefully wrapped the servos with good quality clear packing tape. The seam is on the upper side of the servo, and the bottom side was carefully scuffed with a scouring pad to promote adhesion. This is done so that if the servo ever needs to be removed, one can slit the tape and (eventually) peel the servo out. I then mixed up a batch of 30 minute epoxy, thickened it with colloidial silica, and epoxied the servos in place. Be sure to clamp the ailerons level when doing this. Care taken here will assure a first flight that brings no surprises with out-of-trim ailerons. When the epoxy is cured, make sure your ailerons still wiggle the right way, then tape the servo covers in place with bits of clear tape. The wing is now complete!
Installing the elevator servo proved to be trickier than the aileron servos. There is no horn provided for the elevator, so I made one from a bit of carbon fiber plate I had in my scrap bin. You could also use a scrap of printed circuit board, or even 1/16" aircraft plywood (though I'd soak the pushrod hole with thin CA for durability). The pushrod simply has a 90 degree bend on the elevator end, and a Z-bend for the servo. Obviously there is no way to adjust it, nor can you remove the servo arm once it's installed, so be sure you get it right the first time! The elevator servo arm must be trimmed even shorter than the ailerons, so you must be very careful with the Z-bend geometry to allow proper elevator travel without binding. Again, just take your time and make sure it's right before you epoxy it all in place. As with the aileron servos, the elevator servo was wrapped in tape before being epoxied into the fin. A nice cover plate hides it when installed.
The rest of the building is simply installing the receiver, ESC and battery pack. Initially I was concerned that the motor wires might try to rub against the outrunner motor, but their stiffness combined with the location of the ESC keeps them tucked tightly against the inside of the fuselage. Just be sure to check yours, and if they try to rub use a bit of double-stick foam tape to hold them to the inside of the fuselage. The battery pack needs to be just about as far forward is it'll go (without touching the motor) to get the CG in the correct position. Hobby-Lobby recommends the CG be set at 2.5" aft of the leading edge at the root, and I found that to be a nice setting based on how it flies.
The weather here in Central Texas has been abnormally windy this year, putting a damper on flying anything other than larger helis and planes. Add to that the record-setting heat, and we decided to go for an early morning first flight for the Tiger. We arrived at the Austin Silent Flyers field at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning and set up the Tiger. After the obligatory pictures, range check, and camera-person briefing it was time to put this beauty into the sky. My friend and fellow aviation addict Rob had the honors of tossing it for me while my lovely bride Liz filmed. After one final control check I added about half throttle, Rob tossed it, and away it went. After it left his hand I rolled on full power and pulled it vertical. I think I can summarize the climb in one word: Yeeeeeehaaaaaa! After climbing for only 5 or 6 seconds, I shut down the motor and pushed over at the top. The aileron trim was perfect, but I did need to add a few beeps of down elevator for a hands-off glide. The first turn revealed a bit of adverse yaw, which was easily corrected before the second flight with a bit more aileron differential. Other than that, the flight characteristics are simply amazing. It is smooth, it is fast, and it has no bad habits at low speed. Even though it was early morning, I was able to find and work a couple of small bubbles of lift. I can already see that it is going to be one of those "fly it till your neck hurts" planes, with such good thermalling ability from only a 5 second climb! Of course, the most fun part of a plane like this is to convert altitude into airspeed, and show off with fast passes, large loops, and other smooth aerobatics. The Tiger excels at this, and emits a very pleasing whistle (no doubt from the cooling hole in the spinner) as it screams by in a fast pass.
I can honestly say this is one of the more enjoyable planes I've flown in my 28+ years of RC flying. While certainly not cheap, the Tiger is a stunningly beautiful model that flies as well as it looks. The power system that Hobby-Lobby recommends pulls it vertically without effort, and is a fine choice. However, if you are on a budget, you could certainly use a lower-priced low-kv outrunner direct drive and still have a lot of fun. A search of the electric sailplane section of some of the online forums will reveal several power system options to consider.
While we did get video of the first flight and some flybys, my camera people had a very tough job. This is a very fast model, and it gets small very quickly. Combine that with the white wings and cloudy sky, and they had a nearly impossible job trying to follow it in the viewscreen. So please do keep that in mind while watching the videos, and don't think badly of their camera skills.
If you are an intermediate to advanced pilot looking for something different, or are a dedicated sailplane guy who wants to try a self-launcher, please do give the F5B Tiger from Hobby-Lobby a look. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Note: If you would like to see all of the 100+ photos that I took during the build process, check out my Flickr album.
Hobby-Lobby Mini Reno Racers
Fri, 30 May
By Jamie "GFBurke"
Distributor: Hobby-Lobby, Intl
Type: Mini electric EPP 3ch plane
For: Beginners to advanced pilots
Flying weight: (review model): 3.8 oz.
Size: 20-1/2" wingspan, 17-1-2" long
Prop: 4.9x4.3 Prop & Spinner
Radio: Airtronics RD6000 Super transmitter with Berg 4 receiver, 2 HS-55 Servos.
Power system: Potensky POT 20W OUTRUNNER Brushless Motor, Jeti Advance PLUS Mini 8 Amp ESC, and "Twenty" 2 Cell 300 mAh 7.4V Li-Poly Pack
CG: 35mm to 40mm back from root of main wings
Many of us know that Hacker makes some wonderful R/C products ranging from large to small. With the addition of new products and the hype of the larger models, the little planes may be overlooked. I enjoyed my Hacker Reno Racer EPP Midget Mustang so much, that the next rendition of the Reno Racer called for a review. We welcome the new Mini Reno Racer.
This is a very small plane made for indoors or in a small park. No, it's not hairy - it's EPP! We love EPP because they are hard to break and even if you did, it just takes a little bit of hot glue or super glue to fix and your as good as new. No landing gear with this plane, but it's trivial to add if you really wanted. Landing gear is not needed since I fly on grass or come in slow and low and plop it down on concrete.
Received the package from Hobby-Lobby. Everything is in order and well packaged. I now realize just how small this EPP plane really is!
This thing is small! Very cute and colorful. I like the detail in the art work for the wings - makes it look more real. The quarter does not come with the plane, just there for size comparison. :)
Pictures of the electronics.
The first few steps explain on how to setup the main wings. Gluing them together with normal CA and getting them to bend up (dihedral) at a certain angle. Be sure when gluing them together that they match up and should not be flat. Then inserting the aluminum spar and bending them so one side is off the ground at 45mm.
Then, we install the aileron servo. Since the instructions say to setup the control surfaces with the included heat shrink and aluminum sticks, I did it that way. I've seen this in instructions before and I've never attempted to do it this way until now. More on that later.
While my main wings where drying, I constructed the motor mount with the supplied wood and plastic shim. Be sure the plastic shim goes on the proper side as shown in the picture.
The instructions say to cut a slit in the EPP and hide the ESC. This is probably okay, however, I chose to mount my ESC flush with the plane so it could breath. It's only going to be pushing around 5A so hiding is sure to be okay. I used a solder iron to burn out the ESC mount hole and the elevator servo hole.
Placing the servo and checking position with the elevator, I glued the elevator and rudder in place. The two sides of the elevator are attached to each other with an aluminum bar (so when the one moves, it moves the other side).
The motor and prop combo that came with the plane work fine. However the stationary shaft with threads was much to large to get the prop on. So, I drilled the prop hole larger so I could get it on. In the next picture, the one I modified is on the bottom and the stock is on top. Maybe I was confused, but that large threaded shaft would not come off the motor.. .so, I'm not so sure the prop and motor where made for each other (thus the drilling).
The motor has no leads on it. Since the motor and ESC would be so close together, I just chopped down the length on the ESC wires, then soldered them to the motor. Be sure the motor turns CWW when looking from the front of the motor!
Placing electronics is not wonderfully clear in the instructions. I don't like to see wires and things handing down. All these mini Reno Racers are similar. However, the RareBare cannot have the aileron servo where the instructions say to put it without some modification to the lower EPP that holds the wings on. I chopped a piece of the EPP off from the bottom of the plane. Then, I took a small piece of EPP and honed it out so I could hide my receiver in it.
Without cutting all the wires down to fit exactly (one could/should) after hiding the RX, I bundled them up and used hotglue spots to hold them neatly. Always check your power system and get all the electronics working before permanently putting them into place!
5A @ 36W WOT
All up weight with lipo (rtf) = 112.90g
Quick for it's size. Keep her in a close proximity for easier orientation. An easy under-handed toss at 1/2 throttle and she will take right off. Affected by the wind if 10mph breeze or more. However stable and solid otherwise. Great for an indoor gym or a calm day outside. Easy to pack around everywhere you go. Loops are simple to do at high speeds. Roll-rate of ailerons is snappy and amazingly solid and fast. Setup the ailerons throws on high rate, but use some expo until you get the hang of the twichyness of a very small aircraft. Landings are easy, bring her in and plop it down on the grass. The use of a prop saver will save you big time here-not only for the prop, but the motor mount and EPP. A fun bird to fly. People will be asking "How you are doing that on such a small wing?" It cuts through a breeze with no issues. If it's too windy to fly your Pico Tiger moth, it's not too windy for the RenoRacer. This is due to the nice airfoil built into the EPP wings.
A beginner aircraft?
I'd have to say that the build of the plane is not for a beginner. If you have a few EPP planes under your belt or are looking for your first build after modifying a few planes then it's just fine. As for flying, if you have orientation down (practice with a simulator or have other planes) then yes, it is for a beginner. It is light-weight and made of EPP so a beginner would be hard pressed to really break this thing. If you do break it, just use some CA or hotglue and it's good to go. A beginner that has someone helping them get this plane setup properly, could take it to a grassy park and bang it around without much incidence.
Not too much on the downside of this plane. Sure, you could have issues if you fly this plane in 10mph or more wind, but it's only 117g RTF (it's expected). I also think the HS55s might be a bit heavier (weighing in at 8g) than I would recommend. The instructions are not as clear as they could be, there are some minor details that could be clarified. I personally believe that using heat-shrink and aluminum as control rods may not give you the best results. Again, there is nothing wrong with the plane or how it flies. I would only change some of the setup options. This is why the build part may not be suited for a beginner.
I am a huge fan of EPP planes as well as Hacker products. The mini RenoRacer is no exception. For me, it is a bit more difficult to properly set the CG on small planes. Once you do, your good to go. This little guy fits in any car seat or trunk and is a little breath of fresh air to fly! Not having to worry much about a crash (yeah for me!) and being quick and maneuverable is a showcase marque. It is great bringing this plane to the field and having other RC'ers say, "It's so tiny, can if even fly?" This is especially fun when you let her go from your hand and do maneuvers close to the flight line. Many people at the fly field where blown away when they saw it fly and witnessed just how stable and solid it flew for it size! Listen for background comments in the video. I think anybody who gets a kick out of a Cox war bird or Hyperflea would feel at home. If you like war birds and the way they fly, then this is a must! The high detail of printing on EPP is amazing. I would like to experiment with a 4ch modification to see what could be done.
Things I would have done differently now that I've built one:
1: I would have used normal control rods and control horns. (I have now done this)
2: Moved the elevator servo up further above the wing (easier CG)
3: Trimmed all the wires so they fit to the exact length (less weight and no dabs of hot glue)
* Other options: One could simply leave the dihedral out of the wings, cut the rudder for a control surface and made this into a 4ch plane with rudder and have no extra weight. The 2 servos included where 8g servos. Just adding one more that is 6g and making the other two 5-6g would be just as light. It's not needed, just fun playing with other options.
Updated photo of how my control rods are, this way was used during the video shot below.
>> 5min HD video of flying <<
Hobby-Lobby 6ft Telemaster E.
Thu, 14 Feb
By: Edge5foamy(PJ Horne)
Distributor: Hobby-Lobby, Intl
For: Beginners to advanced pilots
Flying weight : 88oz
Wing span: 73-1/4''
Wing area: 848sq. in.
Wing Loading: 15 oz. per sq. ft.
Radio: Futaba 7C Tx, Hitec Electron 6 Rx, Four HS-322 Servos
Power system: Axi 2826/12 Outrunner Motor, Jeti Advanced 40A ESC, PolyQuest 3s 3700mah Li-Po
*Axi 2826/12 Outrunner
*Jeti 40A ESC
*Four HS-322 servos
*Hitec Electron 6
*Two 12'' Servo Extensions
*5 minute Epoxy
*APC 13x8 prop
The package arrived double boxed, and very well packed. The manual is clear, easy to follow, and has plenty of pictures!
The build was pretty simple, and took about 2 evenings(or 1 day) to build.
<---First off was to install the aileron servos!
Next was to epoxy in the spar joiner--->
After that I had to install the tail feathers!
There are two wooden dowls that go in the top front, and back of the canopy area. These are what the rubber bands strap to, to hold the wing on
The electronics installation is very easy. The HS-322 fit perfectly in the servos slots. If you wish to add flaps, there are servo mounts already in the wing, for the flaps servos!
Before the electronics
I cut a whole in the side, and put the switch on the outside, instead on on the inside.
This plane flys very good! It will slow down to a crawl, and float forever. Its not a park flyer though. only takes about 10 feet(if that) to take off, but it floats so much, it takes alot of room to land, but once you get used to landing it, you can grease it in every time! It does very nice, tight loops. It will do somewhat of a knife-edge, but its not real pretty. If you do a half loop you can fly it inverted, but you half to hold full down elevator, and it is not something I will do very low.
Is it for a beginner?
While it is easy to fly, and is considered a "trainer" plane, I would not suggest it for a first plane. It would be a good 2nd aileron plane. For a first plane I would suggest something made of EPP. Although if you have a buddy-cord, and an excperienced pilot to fly with you, then it would be a good first plane.
Want to see more in-flight pictures? Go to my RCGroups Blog
>Here is my video of the 6ft Telemaster Electro!<
This is a great airplane! One of the best aerial video planes out there. Its good for nice relaxing sunday flying.
*Takes abuse pretty well for a balsa plane
*Uses rubber bands to hold on the wing, I would rather have a bolt on wing
Hobby-Lobby Dragonus II ARF
Sun, 06 Jan
Chris "JustPlaneChris" Boultinghouse
Distributor: Hobby-Lobby, Intl
Type: Mini electric aerobatic helicopter
For: Beginners to advanced pilots
Flying weight (review model): 27.9 oz. / 792g
Length: 26 in. / 660mm
Rotor span: 27.5 in. / 698mm (325mm blades)
Rotor disk area: 594 sq in / .38 sq m
Rotor disk loading: 6.77 oz/ sq ft / 2.07 kg/ sq m
Radio: JR 9303 transmitter with DSM2 module, Spektrum AR6100e receiver, 3 Hitec HS65MG servos on cyclic, and a Futabal 9650 on the tail (GY401 gyro)
Power system: Stock MTM 500XH 3300Kv outrunner, Jeti Spin 33 ESC, and PolyQuest 2150 3S Lipo
The RCer Dragonus II, distributed by Hobby-Lobby, Intl, has been gaining a lot of ground in the hot "mini" electric helicopter market. It has features typically only found in larger machines, such as adjustable Bell-Hiller ratios, and a belt drive that uses a pulley on the main shaft rather than a "double stack" main gear and secondary tail drive gear. While the Dragonus has been available for quite a while now, the subject of this review is an ARF version soon to be offered by Hobby-Lobby. So, let's dig in and see what's in the box!
Since this is the ARF version of the Dragonus, there really isn't much building to do. As you can see, the airframe is completely assembled, needing only radio installation. However, there are a few issues I encountered I'd like to address.
The first thing I noticed was that none of the frame screws had threadlock. You'll definitely want to remove the frame screws (one at a time) and apply a bit of blue threadlock to keep the frame from loosening over time.
As I dug into the manual (same one you get with the kit version) I noticed that the "A" linkages in the pre-assembled head were the wrong length and would not allow proper head movement. I sent an email to Hobby-Lobby, and they have contacted RCer to let them know about the problem. Luckily, I had a spare linkage set so I "borrowed" the correct link rods from myself and kept building.
Another "gotcha" that is fairly well known in the Dragonus community is the fact that Hitec HS65 servos are deeper than whatever servo the frame was designed for. As a result, the wires / grommet will rub the frame. This is easily fixed by modifying the frame with a few passes of a file or Dremel sanding drum. A bit of model airplane fuel tubing split and glued to the frame protects the wires from chafing.
I also noticed that there was a tiny bit of wobble in the center hub assembly. From what I read in the various online forums, this is fairly common and not considered a huge issue. I'm somewhat of a stickler about everything being super smooth though, and this wobble does induce a bit of vibration. I see a CNC center hub in my future not only to eliminate this vibration, but also so I can crank up the headspeed with some nice carbon blades.
Next up is the tail. If you choose to install a Futabal 9650 servo for the tail, you'll either need to purchase the optional 9650 basemount, or the excellent CNC tailboom mounts available from RC-Tek as the frame mounts are too small to accommodate the 9650. Since the basemount was on back order at the time we were collecting bits for this review, I chose to order the RC-Tek mounts. They are very nice!
The stock motor seems to be powerful and smooth. One thing I do want to mention is the pinion gear suggestions from the small leaflet included with the motor. In it they say "suitable pinions are 14T with 3 cell battery as the initial use for smooth yet very powerful combination for 3D flying. A 15T pinion can be used for very high rpm." Well, let me just say you do not want to use a 14T or 15T pinion for sport flying with the stock wood blades. Even with a 13T pinion, I tached 3200 rpm at 85% throttle! IMO, this is too fast for wood blades and plastic head parts. For the initial test flights I dialed back the throttle curve to 2600 rpm. Speaking of blades, the stock blades are beautiful, and seem to track and fly nicely. My blades were .3g out of balance, but the CG of both blades was identical. One wrap of clear packing tape on the CG of the light blade brought them into balance. A bit of "bling" was added in the form of dayglo orange trim Monokote and some holographic flash tape from HiLaunch.com
The rest of the setup went very smoothly. Wires were tidied up using waxed dental floss, and a hook-and-loop strap was glued to the front of the frame using GOOP adhesive to retain the battery. Programming the Jeti Spin 33 is a piece of cake when using the Spin Box unit. At the time of this review I have not yet enabled governor mode (as you'll be able to hear in the flight video below), but I do plan to try it. The Jeti Spin 33 has a wonderful soft start and slow spoolup, and (very important for Spektrum) it has a switch-mode BEC capable of driving 7 servos! This eliminates the need to use a separate BEC, and is something I wish other ESC manufacturers would start doing. It's worth the extra cost to avoid the hassle of a separate BEC.Look for a more in-depth review of the Spin 33 and Spin Box at a future date.
For the initial setup, I chose to configure the Bell-Hiller ratio for "beginner" level. Even with this setting, the cyclic is quick! If you are a beginner, you'll probably want to add some flybar weights and / or use some expo on your cyclic until you get accustomed to the quick response. My trim settings were spot on, and tracking was excellent as well. Despite the cyclic being really quick, the Dragonus is also remarkably stable for a mini. I suspect with flybar weights and / or longer and heavier blades, it would remain locked in during hover like my Swift. Collective response is smooth and powerful, and as you can see from the video it has plenty of "pop" even with wood blades and 2600 rpm headspeed. Average current draw for the first flight was 13.2 amps, based on recharge data. This will allow safe 7+ minute flights without pushing the pack beyond 80% of its capacity.
I'm impressed! While there were a few "out of the box" issues with this early release ARF, the problems were minor and quickly addressed by Hobby-Lobby. The flying performance is excellent, and will only get better as I become more acquainted with it's characteristics. If you are looking for something that's slightly off the beaten path, rather than "just buying a T-Rex", then give the Dragonus a close look. I think you'll like what you see.
If you'd like, you may download higher resolution versions of the walk around and flying videos from JustPlaneChris' website.
Hobby-Lobby Executive Jet
Fri, 14 Dec
Length - 53-1/4''
Weight - 47oz
Wing Span - 47''
Radio Used- Futaba 7C
Receiver - Hitec Electron 6
Servos - Four Scanner RC 9320MG (Six if using retracts)
Batteries - Two PolyQuest 1800mah 3s(11.1v)
Motors - Two SFM Outrunners
ESCs - Two SFM 30A
Retail Price - $146.00
Where to Buy - Hobby-Lobby
*Fixed Landing gear
*Two 66mm Ducted Fans
*Two BL DF Motors
*Two 30A ESCs
*Four 20g servos (Six if using Retracts)
*One Y-harness(Two if using retracts)
*Two 12'' Servo Extensions
*Foam Safe CA
*5 minute Epoxy
*Retractable Landing Gear
The build on this bird goes by pretty quick. It takes about 2 evenings to get it ready to fly! The surfaces are pre-hinged!
To Start off the build, I installed the aileron servos in the wing. The pre-cut servo slot are very small, so you have to cut it out to the size of the servo you are using.
Then I installed the motors
After that, I installed the vertical, and horizontal stabs
Next was the landing gear. The Jet comes with fixed landing gear, but you can order the optional retracts.
Stock fixed gear
There are pre-cut slots in the wing for the retracts, but not in the fuse. It does come with a sticker which you place over where the nose gear goes. (Note: This is only necessary if you are using retracts)
To finish up, I had to install the pushrods...
and glue the vortex generators on the wingtips.
The finished product!
Is this a good plane for beginners?
No, it's not. The Jet is easy to fly, but it does not have the self correcting characteristics that a trainer plane should have. Also, the build would be a little advanced for beginners.
The plane comes with pieces of wood pre-installed in the wings, that the landing gear screws into. They ripped out on my first take off, so just be sure to add some glue to them before you fly, and you should be good to go.
Also, when I got mine, the aileron hinges were loose, so be sure to add some tape to them just for extra security.
How well does it fly?
It flies great! It is very stable, and handles wind very well! It is not the fastest plane out there, but it does have some speed to it. Very scale flying! It can do loops, and rolls, but it needs a little more down throw to keep it inverted.
Pics, and Video
I still have not gotten the video, but I will this weekend. Until then, here is Hobby-Lobby's video!
Hobby Lobby's Executive Jet Video
Is it worth buying?
Yes!! If you dont have an Executive Jet in your hangar already, you should get one. It is one of the sharpest looking planes out there, it flies great, and the sound of those twin ducted fans is awsome!
CompyFP main blades review
Fri, 14 Dec
Review of the flat wood FP blades by Heli-Fever. These are the blades going on the upcoming CompyFP. A comparison between these and the popular M24 blades.
Freestyle belt HoneyBee FP
Arc110 inner-runner motor
10T steal pinion
Castle Creations 10A ESC
3s 10C 800mAh CSRC lipo
Here is the two part video review.
It would be nice to really get out and do some serious flying to put these to the test. But so far, I am liking the flat wood blades better.
*Same stick position for hovering
*They look and feel better
*Lighter than M24s
*No sound difference
*Will be cheaper in the States (soon) ;)
Thanks Ken from J-Team.
Next up from me will be the CompyFP.
Buy Kyosho M24 blades: (part# CA1015)
Buy other flat wood blades: (not reviewed here, but I did like them)
Buy Heli-Fever flat wood blades:
One thing to note: In order to utilize the full power output capability of this charger, you need a really good input power source! Ideally, you want something that is at least 18V, and ProgressiveRC can help you out there with some heavy-duty power supplies at reasonable prices. I ended up getting a 24V 20A unit from eBay for a reasonable price, but it'd be easier to just get everything from David!
There is one more thing I do want to talk about, and that's how to connect batteries to the balancer board when serial charging! I was under the (mistaken) impression that my 8S pack, which consists of two 4S packs in series, could just be connected any old way to the balancer board. Uhhh.... well let's just say I had a 50-50 chance of hooking them up the right way. And I chose poorly! A big spark and a melted pin on the balance board and battery balance connector immediately indicated I'd done it wrong! This picture in my album should clarify how the connectors need to be arranged. Note that I color-coded my board and battery connectors to help avoid the magic smoke! The important thing to note is the relationship between the main battery positive / negative and the balancer tap positive / negative in relation to the wires coming off the balancer board. Keep everything going in that order and you'll be fine.
If you are looking for an "all in wonder" charger that can top off just about any battery type you might possibly have, as well as log your data and even run your hot-wire cutter, then the iCharger 208B may be just what you need! Combine excellent features and performance with great support from David at ProgressiveRC and it's a very appealing package.
This is a parallel charging thread on RCGroups.com
Next up is the ESC and motor. If you notice I have the ESC laid up against the side of the fuse. Don't do that. It will be in the way of the upper fuse when it's time. Lay it down and use hotglue. Motor was easy to do. The brick of solid EPP is great and makes the nose really stiff once it's in. I lubed it up with goop and slid it in. I made it sit at a slight angle. It seems every plane I have the right thrust mod really helps. We will try here too.
Once the plane is about done, take a good look and make sure things are lined up and square. I found my horizontal stab to have a slight droop on one side. This is probably a feature due to my awesome building skills. So I used a small piece of zip tie, cut a slit in the epp and placed it in to wedge that side down a bit. Works great as I have done this on a few builds.
Video - Coming soon! (when the sun is out and I have a camera man)