Sunday, March 09, 2008

Nitroplanes Guanli PBY Catalina Seaplane

It's a wonderful plane. It took about an hour for me to get it together. There is nothing particularly noteworthy about putting it together, except things will go much faster with five minute epoxy instead of the provided contact cement. Every single item is included, even a screwdriver and glue. The only thing you need to provide is 8 AA batteries for the transmitter. does it fly? Just great. With the provided brushed geared motors and NIMH battery, it has adequate power to fly around nicely, and will loop from a shallow dive. It is extremely stable, and extremely easy to fly. It could be a first or second plane. Hand launching is very easy. It will also get off water or snow. If you plan on flying off water, you will probably want to add a water rudder to help steer it around after landing. If you are flying off anything but soft grass or water, you will probably want to add some clear packing tape to the bottom of the fuselage and wing floats to prevent them from getting scratched up. Do not attempt to fly it without the provided wing struts, they are needed, and stay away from any wild aerobatics that might give the wing negative G forces, it's not really stressed for that. The plane is plenty strong for normal flying, but it's not an aerobat, nor was the real PBY Catalina. It looks best doing a low pass or touch and goes off the water. It's extremely light, and will fly very very slowly, it's hard for beginning pilots to get into trouble with it, and the flight charachteristics are certainly suitable for park flying.

Flight times are around 8 minutes with the provided pack, and the wall charger takes about an hour to refill the pack. The 27 MHZ radio works fine, it occasionally glitches here and there, but recovers right away. Keep in mind that range is not unlimited, keep the plane withing 500 feet of you or so, and that you are subject to interference from many other toys and other devices out there. It would be very easy to install a different receiver, but, again, the provided one is perfectly adequate. Do make sure your receiver antenna is stretched out all the way to the tail, that you have fresh batteries in the transmitter, and that you range check your system before you fly it.

As far as upgrades go, if you change the installed connector, you can put in an inexpensive 12c 3 cell 2200mah lipo battery. It will fit flat on the tray right above where the NIMH pack went, and will stay where it is by just a friction fit between the tray and the fuselage and the pushrods. The extra power of the 11v lipo makes for a dramatic transformation...power is now much more than is needed, she will climb out at a 45 degree angle, and flight times are 12-15 minutes. Full throttle is rarely needed. Motor life may suffer in the long run, but mine has been fine so far, and it's a lot more fun to fly with the lipo pack. I feel no need at all to upgrade the motors to brushless, the provided geared systems are more than adequate to fly the plane very well.

It's a heck of a deal for $99, you really can't go too far wrong. I'm very pleased.

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