Hobbico Flyzone Park Pilot problems/experience

I am a complete newby, now with 2 (!!!) Hobbico Flyzone Park Pilots that DON'T FLY.
I had bought the above RTF airplane for my son for Christmas of 2002;
the first flight attempt in spring ended in deseaster. Instead of buying the broken bits and pieces, and bought a complete new set from Towerhobbies, but we never "dared" again to try.
This week, I finally gave the unupened box to an experienced RC airplane and helicopter pilot. He assembled, balanced and setup the plane, and we tried to fly it yesterday. Several hand start attempts ended after approx. 30 ft or so, with slowly getting lower and lower.
We tried again after fully charging (again) the battery pack. Same result. We tried using more or less rudder. Same result.
A minute ago, a passerby watching us talked to us, saying he has the same model, and also never got it off the ground.
As a longtime customer of towerhobbies, I know they would not sell a product (they must have this particular model in their catalog since 3 years or more) for so long (and sell it probably quite often) if it wouldn't fly. Also, a company like hobbico would not be in business for long if they continue to sell junk that doesn't fly.
Since my friend is quite experienced in R/C planes, I rule out "stupidity" on my side.
So here are my questions:
a) What could prevent the plane to fly at all? b) What is the groups experience (and collected feedback from other users of this model)? Any help, suggestions, comments are welcomed.
Volker
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Ted shuffled out of his cave and grunted these great (and sometimes not so great) words of knowledge:
Chances are the plane doesn't have enough power and/or flying speed to actually fly. Many of these type of planes will just barely fly as they come from the manufacturer (the only one I am aware of that will actually fly under average conditions is the Easy Star).
There are a couple of things you can try.
1. Go to a 6 cell 600 - 720 ish mah battery. The ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) is USUALLY able to handle 1 more cell and the added "oomph" from the extra cell may do the trick. You will probably need to slightly enlarge the battery compartment (carve the foam out a little) to accomodate the larger battery.
2. If that doesn't work, you can try either a gear box with a larger diameter prop or a speed 400 motor in place of the 280 motor that it comes with.
In either case, balance the plane BEFORE you do anything and mark the balance point on the underside of the wing. To balance the plane, support the plane by the wing tips and adjust the location of the supports until the plane is level or VERY SLIGHTLY nose heavy.
After you have made any changes (battery, motor, gear box, etc) rebalance the plane.
When you launch the plane the following need to be going on ALL AT THE SAME TIME:
The elevator (the moveable part on the tail) should have 2 clicks of up elevator - do this from the transmitter. This will allow the plane to "climb out" at a gentle angle.
The motor MUST be running wide open - full throttle AND the battery MUST be fully charged.
When you launch the plane, the plane MUST be level and as you are running forward with the plane, give the plane a GOOD forward push with your arm - remember, keep the plane level.
Do not try to turn the plane until it is about 15 - 20 feet off the ground. When you do try to turn use VERY GENTLE movements of the control stick - you do not want to move the stick very much.
Hope this helps.

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An additional thought. What is your altitude? Where I live at 5,500 feet, these small electrics don't have enough power to overcome their weight. Try Ted's suggestions to boost the voltage. It worked for me.

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I used to live at 6,500 ft elevation, now I live at 4,300. What I found out with my Cox .049 powered Black Widow on an Airtronics Q-Tee 36" span plane is it would fly okay at the higher elevation if I used a 6x3 prop, but a 5-1/4-4 was a dog. It barely lumbered along. At sea level there was no appreciable difference from using those two different props.
I'm not an electric flyer, but wondered if others have experienced similar with electric motors. From a theoretical standpoint, an electric motor at altitude will move with same amount of CFM (cubic feet per minute) of air as at sea level, but at altitude it will be at a lower density (air pressure), so generally an electric motor will not suffer performance losses one encounters with internal combustion engines.
6,500 ft, I was dealing with around 11.5 PSIA, at sea level it is 14.7. At my current elevation it is around 12.6. At 4,300 ft, one will oversize a furnace around 17% so firebox is big enough to provide enough heat but air conditioning equipment is oversized around 9% to make up for the convective losses through the air cooled condensor section. (This is why having an oversized oil cooler on your RV or trailer towing rig is important, to prevent overheating your auto transmission. Thinner air doesn't cool as efficiently as at sea level. I've seen my share of brakedowns from others who didn't realize this.)
But I'd think that with the right prop for power versus speed would get a slightly bigger bite to move the plane a little quicker to support its flight load. But then, the plane may be marginally equipped to begin with.
Any experts out there (I'm a former drip under pressure.)
-- HPT
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Thank you for the tips. Today, the weather is better, so we are trying it one more time with the standard setup, with totally full battery, new prop (just in case). Note: the standard battery has 7 cells (not shure whats in there regarding mAh) which comes up to 8.4 volts. Since weight/power seems to be an issue (?), which would be the next step: going to 9.6 Volts (but adding weight), larger prop (if motor is strong but slow), 400 motor (can someone send me a link of the 2 motors mentioned?), which is faster or stronger (?), same prop or larger (size?).
I will report back tonight after the final trial with "standard" setup.
The question remains: how can a respected (?) manufacturer like hobbico continue to sell a product that is at best marginally equipped to meet even the low expectations of a newbie starter????
Volker
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Ted shuffled out of his cave and grunted these great (and sometimes not so great) words of knowledge:

Go ONE CELL more. The additional weight is more than offset by the additional power generated by the motor.
larger prop (if motor is strong

If you go to a larger prop, you should have a gear box. A 4:1 with an 8x6 WIDE BLADE (Slow Flyer type) prop will help - use the stock battery. If you go this route, make sure you get the adapter for the output shaft of the gearbox and a prop to fit the adapter. The prop is going to have a much larger hole in the hub for mounting and will be secured by a screw and washer. Also make sure the gear box is for the size motor you have. Different size motors have different size shafts and the gear that goes on the shaft needs to be the proper size.
400 motor (can someone send me a link of the 2 motors

The power being used by the speed 280 direct drive is about 12 watts/4 amps - 3 oz thrust. If you use the gear box, the power will go to 19 watts/3 amps - 7 oz thrust with a 4:1 gearing and 8x6 wide prop or 9x7 regular blade prop.
A LONG CAN speed 400 geared 4:1 with an 11x7 uses 103 watts/8 amps - 20 oz thrust. To use a speed 400 motor, the opening in the fuselage that the motor fits into would have to be enlarged because the speed 400 motors have a larger diameter and you will probably have to change the ESC also.
I was wrong about just dropping in a speed 400 motor. After doing some research, I found the ESC would most likely also have to be changed as it will probably not handle the power output for a speed 400. You would need an 8 amp (or larger) ESC for a long can 400.
It may not be feasible, from a cost stand point, to change the motor AND ESC. If you do go this route you should have an ESC rated for AT LEAST the amps needed by the motor (I suggest a higher rating to minimize/avoid burning the ESC out).
Links to motors: http://www.hobby-lobby.com/speed400.htm
Gear box: http://www.hobby-lobby.com/gear280.htm
Adapter: http://www.hobby-lobby.com/propadap.htm
Props: http://www.hobby-lobby.com/elecprop.htm http://www.hobby-lobby.com/slowprop.htm http://www.hobby-lobby.com/camfold.htm
ESC: http://www.hobby-lobby.com/jeti.htm
The gear box USUALLY fastens on the front of the motor with 2 small screws (take the gear box apart to mount the box to the motor, then reassemble). Since many gearboxes are not lubed, a SMALL amount of lithium grease on the gears is a good idea.

As I said initially, most of these planes have marginal power to fly. This power/ability to fly is based upon use at sea level. At sea level, they will fly - usually (IMHO) poorly, but they will fly. At higher altitudes, the power available from a stock set up is inadequate. By higher altitudes as little as 400 - 500 feet above sea level can make a big difference.
As a prime example, I live about 400 ft above sea level and have a Sky Scooter Pro. With the stock set up the plane would barely fly. By using a gear box and larger prop the plane flew half way decent.

Hope this helps, and I apologize about the direct drop in for a speed 400 motor.
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Our test will be done here in Montreal, maybe 10 ft higher than the St. Lorenz River. Not sure how many feet above sea level.
Adding 1 cell is possible. Gear Box plus larger Box maybe possible.
Anything else is not worth the extra investment/effort in my mind for this model.
I would then recommend my son to stick to the Traxxas E-Maxx truck and give up on R/C planes.
Volker
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an
battery.
going
secured
watts/4
9x7
Motor is 380 size. No tech data. Prop is 7 inch diamm, unknown pitch. Motor shaft is 2.3mm
---> Recommended prop or props for direct drive? (need more thrust, not speed), standard 8.4 volt 1300 mAh NiMH
---> Recommended gear reducer that fits motor and cone, and the prop or props to match?
THanks.
Volker
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Still looking for the recommended gear reducer/adapter/prop (order) info so I can get it. I would accept flying without the nose cone (can later modify it to fit the new set), but the rest should be plug and play.
Volker
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I wrote to TowerHobbies, since I know them as a distributor who actually gets their hands dirty on the model they sell. Here is their response:
"Thank you for your recent e-mail. We are sorry to hear that you are having problems with one of our products. Our R&D department tested this plane and found it to be a good flyer."
Comments please!
You guys (and me and my experience R/C plane friend) are obviously doing something wrong. It IS a good flier.
Volker
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Option 1 To get your plane to fly Volker you first need to weigh your model "ready to fly". If under a pound then 3 watts/ounce is fair. Example: 3oz times 15oz (weight of model) = 45 watts of input power. Go to www.andersonparkflyers.org and use there free motor calc program to figure out your stock setup. You will need information about your motors specs, type of battery, and prop. Try different prop/pitch combnations and/or motor to achive the current necessary to produce the watts you need.
Option 2 Buy a GWS Slow Stick ARF...$30.00........you already have the radio, micro servos, battery, charger, ESC ( need about 10A to be safe ). Just drop them in. The Slow Stick is one of the best begginer planes for "wet behind the ears r/c pilots"
Option 3 Brushless/lipo setup........less weight with the lipo batterys and better efficincey/power with the brushless motor.
Any questions please email snipped-for-privacy@netzero.net
Hope this helps Mike
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Flying weight: 635 grams or 1.4 lbs".4 onces? Its over 1 lb, so we should have more than 3 watss per pounce? At 3 w/oz, this would lead to 67.2 Watts.
The motor is:
Hobbico 380 Motor Aero Cruiser/Speed Pilot
I have not found any technical details on this motor.
This plane does not have an ESC
Battery is 8.4 Volt 1300 mAh NiMH.
I have not info on the prop, but it is 7 inch in diameter. If the pitch is measured in mm, it is approx. 5 mm.
The radio is only 2 channel (no room for speed control or motor on/off switch).
Volker
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Volker wrote:

Yes, you do need more watts, and if that is a speed 280 motor in the nose that is probally why it barely flys. They may have installed the wrong motor. You need a speed 400 class motor.

380 is a basic speed 400....shares the same size motor can. If you could measure the diameter of the motor I could tell you if it is a 280/300 class motor or 380/400 class motor

probally is made by Maubuchi....NOT HOBBICO... They make electric motors for a wide varity of products that we use every day.....can openers, power tools, ect..... I believe www.maubuchi.com is the correct addy. They have technical data on there motors.

plenty of battery

pitch
6 by 3 , 5 by 5 , 5 by 4.7 , or 5 by 4.5 seems to be the correct props for direct drive motors in the 380/400 class. I good prop to use for your plane would be a Graupner 6 by 3 folding prop. They fold when you shut your motor down. Check out www.hobby-lobby.com, I belive they have them. The prop you have sounds a bit on the large side for direct drive applications.
Mike

on/off
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Update: Today, we had fully charged batteries, straight prop. Medium wind. We gave it a really hard push when doing the hand start, and we got it into the air (not me, my experience colleage). It stayed up there, but was barely able to cope with the wind; in the few minutes of flight, we had at least 3 near death crashes, that my colleage was able to master. Landing (no speed control, no motor kill) was difficult (lost the wheel and mountings again). According to my expert, the chassis felt ok (but definately not a good starter chassis), but more power is needed (Note: motor is a 360 (or so) size, not the previously mentioned 280!).
So going to 9.6 Volt with 8 cells. But this would INCREASE speed (not necessarily something to be desired for a starter pilot who needs to land at full speed all the time). Better choice: more pull.
Choices: - Roughly same diameter prop with steeper angle (assume load will slow motor to lower rpm)? - Large diameter prop with roughly same angle? (Can't be too much larger, otherwise the prop is damaged during landing) - Combo - No easy fix: gear and prop (no space in nose for gear), cost.
Ted (and Group): What is the current prop specs of my plane (diameter, shaft, angle, etc?)? What steeper angle would you suggest (specs and place to get such a prop from)? What diameter (with current angle) would you suggest (specs and place to get such a prop from)?
There is renewed hope that this thing might be flown by me (and my son???)
Volker
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Ted shuffled out of his cave and grunted these great (and sometimes not so great) words of knowledge:

You do have a speed control. On the back of the transmitter (usually on the left side when looking at the transmitter from the front) is a sliding lever. This is the speed control. When the lever is moved all the way to the left, the motor should be off or just barely turning over. When the lever is slid all the way to the right you have full throttle (wide open) for the motor.
was difficult

Tower Hobbies web site states the motor that comes with the Park Pilot is a 280 motor. Unless you or someone else has changed the motor is should be a 280 motor. The motor MAY have a manufacturer's label/stencil on it saying 300, however you would have to remove the motor from the fuselage in order to see if a label/stencil is present.

While adding an extra cell will increase the speed of the plane, it does this by increasing the speed of the motor. With a direct drive motor and the small prop they use, this will also provide more pulling power.

Prop that came with the plane is a 5x3 - 5" diameter x 3 pitch(angle)

I would not go to a higher pitch (steeper angle) unless the plane has inadequate speed (a 3 pitch is less steep than a 4 or 5 pitch and as such has more pulling power, but less top speed). Your RC friend can tell you if the plane needs more speed in order to be able to fly.
A gear box and prop will provide twice the thrust you are presently getting from a direct drive. This will provide more "pulling" power.

It depends if you are going to stay with direct drive or put a gear box on.
If direct drive, I would use a 6x3 or 6x4 MAXIMUM PROVIDED it is a 380 motor (basic speed 400 motor). Direct drive motors/props are very INEFFICIENT in this type of plane when compared to a gear box setup.
To get the performance (pulling power) I would use a gear box. See my previous post for gear box ratio and prop size.

I feel that a gear box and appropriate prop is most likely going to be your best bet for getting the plane flying with the least amount of money and/or aggrevation.
Tis is not an overly expensive outlay considering you already have $120 for the plane and transmitter and another $40 - $50 for the second plane. It is about $20 total for the gear box, adapter and prop.
One other thing. While this type of plane can handle wind better than a Slow Stick (max about 3 mph), it is happiest with a breeze/wind of about 2 mph to 5 mph. This amount af wind will help the plane fly, without being a problem to fly in. Winds of this speed are USUALLY found in the early morning (from dawn to about 9 - 9:30 am) or early evening (5 pm and later).
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Will it fit into the nose cone? I looked at gear adaptors for the 380 motor, but felt that modifications are needed to get the extra length under the nose cone.
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on
all
No, I don't have speed control (I wish). This is a 2 channel setup. You may refer to another plan where I saw the slider on the back side of the remote.
Volker
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Ted shuffled out of his cave and grunted these great (and sometimes not so great) words of knowledge:
Exactly which plane do you have ?
You initially said you had you had a "Park Pilot" http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXCGR1&P=7
Now you are saying you have an "Aero Cruiser" http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXUG60&P=ML
or possibly
a Sky Pilot http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXXE10&P=7
These are 3 totally different planes.
The advice I gave you was based on your telling me the plane was a "Park Pilot".
If it is one of the others, please specify which one so we can provide the correct information to help solve your problems.
Ted

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It is a:
Hobbico FlyZone Speed Pilot EP 2Ch RTF 37.5"
http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXXE10&P=7
Other descriptions occured when I referenced links to parts (like motor), because they are used in different models, and towerhobbies then often names it for just one of the models it fits.
Volker
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Ted shuffled out of his cave and grunted these great (and sometimes not so great) words of knowledge:
OK. The gear box should be ABOUT a 4:1 ratio with a 10x6 or 10x7 prop. http://www.hobby-lobby.com/gear400.htm The prop adapters are also on this page.
Due to your limited ground clearance you will have to hand launch the plane with the 10" prop. Unfortunately, the way the plane is set up (no speed control) you will need to fly the plane until the battery runs down.
One thing you can try is:
Support the plane on a flat surface so the fuselage of the plane is level and measure the distance from the output shaft of the motor to the ground. Deduct 1/2" from this distance and then double the measurement to find out the largest prop you can use. For instance, with the fuselage level, it is 5" from the output shaft to the ground. Deduct 1/2". This leaves 4 1/2". Double this and you have 9". In this scenario a 9" prop would be the largest diameter prop you can use.
A good general rule of thumb is: To obtain the same power as the recommended prop, fro every inch you go down in size, increase the pitch by one. If you went from a 10x6 to a 9" prop, you would go to a 9x7 prop.
As long as the gear box ratio is close to a 4:1 ratio, you should have no problems with a 10x6 or 10x7 prop (or the comparable prop if the size is smaller). You will have almost double the thrust you now have. The plane will fly a litter faster, however, the added pitch (angle of the prop) is not really going to come that much into play. If you are concerned about excessive speed, stay with the same pitch on a smaller prop and/or consider a higher ratio for the gear box (for instance 4.5:1) to slow the prop down.
This will take care of the inadequate thrust problem. As for the throttle control, unless you want to spend more money for a transmitter, receiver and ESC (Electronic Speed Control), there is nothing you can do.

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