Thursday, February 28, 2008
I'm a foamie freak, I love all the new foamie jets coming out, I get them all, and this one is my current favorite.
It's fast, maybe 70mph, has plenty of power, and makes a really cool twin sound. The foam is very tough, and CA safe.
It's very stable, in spite of the forward-swept wings. It's very very maneuverable, you need to watch out, it reacts really fast. The roll rate is unbeleiveable, fastest I have ever seen.
Takeoffs are about 75 feet off pavement, or you can hand launch it easily.
Flight times are maybe 6 minutes.
I'd stay away from the version that includes the radio, as it really helps to have a good computer radio with expo and dual rates.
The CG is set at the factory, you can't go wrong that way. But you need to watch out, the plane is very agile and might surprise you on the first takeoff. It's not for beginning pilots, but it turns in a really sparkling performance for more experienced guys.
It only takes an hour or so to put together. Contact cement is included, but five minute epoxy works better and faster. Be sure to secure all screws and connectors with CA or locktite, and make sure you have no slop in your control system.
Anyway...I cannot say enough nice things about this plane. I have about fifteen flights with not a scratch on it, the sound and shape are fantastic in the air, and the performance good enough to keep me interested and excited.
I have a lot of planes, and most of them nowadays are electric. It generally costs a bundle to do large electrics, so I am always looking for ways to reduce the costs, without taking big chances on losing an airplane. Last year, I rolled the dice and ordered up a pair of Monster Power 46 motors. I set my expectations low...I had never heard much said about these on the internet or magazines, there were pretty much no flight reports around, so I had no real idea of what I was getting into. Let me say in no uncertain terms that I have been beyond pleased, and very surprised.
The motors come very neatly packaged, in tight form-fitting foam holders, in cardboard boxes. There is a sheet of motor specs inside, but not a lot in the way of instructions. A ton of accessories are included...there is a sturdy cross mount, a set of quality bullet connectors, a special collar for the shaft to keep it from sliding forward, a very brawny bolt-on prop adapter, a prop washer, a prop nut, a really nicely done anodized prop spinner/nut, and every bolt and screw needed to get it together. You can either use it as it comes, with a rear firewall mount, or loosen the allen grub screws holding the motor to the shaft and push the shaft through the motor using gentle pressure in a vice to reverse the mounting and mount the motor from the forward end. I think you will have to use a different prop adapter, though, as the included one mounts right to the front of the motor case with four provided bolts, and you may need a collet-style prop adapter that goes directly to the shaft. I do not know, I have not tried. It's really great that everything is included...I had problems before with motors I ordered from overseas having missing prop adapters, connectors, or screws, and it's been a real headache. That's not the kind of stuff you will find at most hobby stores, so you will spend your time arguing with vendors overseas to send you the stuff you need to mount your motor and make it work.
What really struck me, though, at first impression, was the quality of the machining. It's not cheap Chinese junk. It's Mercedes-class machine work. And the motor is anodized a nice blue color. Ball bearings, too. I'm an old-school engine freak, I have had everything from 1930's Brown Junior ignition motors to Jetcat turbines, and one of the bummers about most electric motors is they generally have a sort of purposeful, semi-disposeable feel to them, but these ones just feel different, they are a nice, QUALITY feeling piece of machinery, and I spent a certain amount of time just flipping them over and feeling the way they rotate, just like I would enjoy with a good glow motor. Sorry, I'm a motor nut, I can't help it.
I don't go in for all the weird new metal or plastic mounts they have nowadays for outrunner motors...I simply made up some 1/4" plywood boxes for mounting my motors, with a hole drilled in the firewalls for the rear shafts to protrude. My test bed was a new Nitroplanes P-82, and the electric conversion was dead simple, the longest part was making up the motor mounts. I mounted two TowerPro 70a ESCs right to the side of the box motor mounts I made up, no problems there, and used Exceed Fusion power 4000mah 5s lipos, one per side. 4s would have been enough for this plane, too.
There are no prop recommendations with the motors, but the specs for the entire line seem to match up with the E-flight Power series of motors, so I used E-flight's advice on prop choices. I picked something in the middle of the range, a pair of 13/8 APC props. Well...in the air, the plane has unlimited vertical, and is almost dead silent. Takeoffs are in 50 feet. The motors easily meet or exceed the power of a pair of 46 glow engines, only no noise, dead reliability, no fuss starting a twin. Many flights, zero service issues, the motors are still going strong.
Since then, I have tried some of the others in the range...some of them I have gotten airborne, others, the projects are still on the bench, but I have the Monster Power 15, 25, 46, 60, 110, and also a new 160 on the way, which I will be putting into one of the FlyModel F-86D propjets. The 110 is in a Sea Fury that is almost ready to go. I have flown the smaller ones(if you can consider the 60 small!) in a bunch of projects, and have had nothing but positive things to say. So, I'm really happy, as I am getting very high quality motors at stupid low prices, and not having to deal with ordering from overseas.
If you want to try a large electric conversion, you might want to give these a shot. Me, I have been very happy with what I have gotten, no complaints at all. And I'm a picky guy....
The ailerons and elevators are linked by pushrods. Make sure there is zero slop in the system. Make washers out of the spare control horns included, if you need to take up any slack. Make sure all of the nuts on the EZ connectors are CAed or locktited for safety. Make sure you turn your radio on and center the servos before you put the horns on, as they are hard to access once you have glued the wings on. There was a little bendiness in my ailerons due to the pushrods themselves flexing, but this has not proved to be an issue in flight. I added a strip of carbon fiber to the bottom of each stab, as they felt a little floppy, but I don't know if that's really needed...it just made me feel better. A couple of cocktail sticks would do the same job, if you don't have any carbon fiber around. I moved the nosegear steering to the inner hole of the servo and the outer hole of the steering arm to reduce the sensitivity of the nosegear. Both main gear legs have the shock-absorption coil going the same way, so one goes forward and one goes back, this works perfectly. Only three screws are provided for the main gear mounting for each side, three screws is plenty, even though there are four holes. I changed out the provided bullet connectors on the ESC and battery to Deans connectors, to make it compatable with the rest of my fleet. The bullet connectors came off with a touch of my soldering iron and went into my scrapbox for future use on something else. I used only five minute epoxy for construction. The provided contact cement works, but I don't like the stuff, and it takes too long to dry. The whole assembly of the plane took about an hour.
I used a Spektrum radio with an AR7100 RX, which may be overkill, but I had it on hand. You need to set up your radio for Delta mixing...if you cannot get the surfaces moving in the right direction, try switching the two servos into the opposite ports on the receiver...instead of left on aileron and right on elevator channels, plug the right into aileron and the left into elevator, and everything should work fine. I used the control throws shown in the manual, and used a bit of expo, which I highly recommend for the first flights. I ran the motors up slowly for the first time, to make sure the fans were balanced and to get them "bedded in" properly. There were no issues there, and they really howl. I mean, LOT of power. There are neat little blow-in doors on the bottom made out of flexible plastic, to get extra air to the fans at full throttle...they are very clever and work perfectly.
So...off to the field...
First takeoff took about 75 feet of pavement, then she was up and climbing at a 45 degree angle. She needed down trim...I flew a couple of circuits to get some altitude, then reached for the elevator trim...and switched off my transmitter instead. I did not realize that is what had happened...I thought the radio link was lost somehow. The motors stopped, there was no control, and she settled into a nice turning glide and landed in a tree with no damage. Stable airplane. Got her back down and tried again, this time without turning off the transmitter, and she flies beautifully. Quite fast, at least 70mph, with excellent vertical, great roll rate, very aerobatic. Not a difficult plane to fly, but fast and small and silver, it keeps you on your toes. Landings are dead easy, just keep a little power on and fly her down to the runway. The gear system is excellent, capable of taking some pretty rough landings. I have not tried her without the gear yet...while I think the hand-launch would be very easy, I am afraid of the landing, as the bottoms of the intakes are made of sheet plastic, I am afraid of damaging them, my grass is pretty rough.
I'm very pleased with this bird, it has exceeded all my expectations, particularly in the air. I feel no need to upgrade the motor system at all, the performance is more than adequate to me. The plane is very tough, very easy to assemble, looks good, is very inexpensive for what it is. Particularly exceptional is the performance...if you are used to EDF jets that just sort of fly around, this will be a big change for you, because this thing really FLIES. It's certainly not for beginners, but intermediate pilots will have no problem at all.
This plane is absolutley outstanding, particularly on two fronts...flyability and scale appearance.
What's in the box? Motor and 64mm fan and 25a ESC, already installed. Five servos, already installed. 2200mah lipo battery. A very useable balance charger that will peak and balance the battery to 12.6v exactly, just like my expensive charger does. A screwdriver, a package of good quality five minute epoxy. All hardware and landing gear. All foam components prepainted and predecorated. A canopy with the frame painted on. Everything you need except a transmitter and receiver.
Construction took about 45 minutes, with no problems and no surprises. Do check the fit of the foam parts, and sand away any paint where you are gluing. Keep in mind that both elevator control horns need to point towards the same side of the aircraft, so the elevators go up and down together. The main gear gets glued into place...there is no real easy way to change that(maybe with some plywood plates?), so you need to make the choice of either gear up or gear down and live with it. I got one and flew it with the gear on, and was so pleased that I ordered a second one so I could have another with the gear off for hand-launching over grass. Frankly, there is not much to say about building it, it's dead simple to get together.
So...off to the field. First takeoff took about 100 feet. It was obvious that it was at flying speed long before that, and that the slightly negative angle of attack from the small nosewheel was keeping the plane down, and I needed to apply elevator to get it off the ground. I suspect the designers did this deliberately, to make sure that beginning pilots would have adequate speed to avoid a slow takeoff and tipstall. If you put on a bigger nosewheel or bent the main gear forward a bit, it would take off a lot faster. Ground handling is exceptional. It will also go from a really easy hand-toss, or will even take off from its belly on smooth grass. Landings are super easy...just leave a little power on and fly her down to the runway, then cut the power. Don't try to "flare" her in, you would not do that will a full-scale F-15(stall a few feet above the runway!), you should not with the model, either. Again...it's really easy to land.
In the air, with the landing gear on, she likes a little dive before performing a loop. With the gear off, without the extra weight and drag of the wheels, she will go up and over with no issues at all. Rolls are just great, very axial and very scale. Speed is decent, no barn burner, but maybe 50mph. It's not "nominal" in any way, it has plenty of power to fly around with authority. Above all things, it's a very EASY plane to fly, dead stable, a perfect first jet, perfect for anybody with a little aileron experience. And it looks just awesome in the air.
On the scale front, the plane is really exceptional. The outline looks great, and there are lots of panel lines and details molded in to the airframe. Even better, there are some really great decal(well...not waterslide decals, but stickers, anyway) sheets included, with dozens and dozens of little grates and "no steps" and details included, and the instructions show where every one goes. I spent an extra hour or more putting all these on(after I test flew it) and they really add a lot of texture and make the model come alive. So far, nothing I have seen on the foamie EDF front has come close to this F-15 on scale appearance. Both paint schemes available are nice, too.
It flies very nicely on the stock power system, but advanced pilots might want a little more urge...it's easy to modify. On the bottom of the plane you will see a hatch right beneath the motor, if you run a sharp razor around the edges, you will cut the glue joint and you can get to the fan to change motors. The battery holder is a simple and clever velcro strap, and I had no problem fitting in a 4s battery instead of the 3s provided. I flew around for about 3 minutes with the 4s, and it was a dramatic difference in speed and climb, but the motor was not made to take it, and burned out after three minutes. So...you will need a different motor, and perhaps a different ESC. The airframe is plenty strong to handle a lot more power. Fly it first, stock, you might be surprised at how able it is in the air, but feel free to upgrade it further, it's a good airframe for that.
At any rate, this plane is a real winner, and a perfect place to get your feet wet in jets...I can put in 5 quick flights on my way home from work, no maintainance, no problems, and fun in the air.