Estes RC Plane - First Impressions

After reading the latest edition of RC Microflight, I ran off to Wal-Mart to look for a new Estes product which appeared in one of the magazine's columns. Estes now sells a small, 14" span, single channel electric airplane, vaguely resembling a Monocoupe (for those of you familiar with that aircraft). I plunked down my $20, got some C cells and a 9 vt battery and went back home to see what awaited.

The RC system is one that's a throwback, but making a resurgence in small RC plane communities. The system is 27 Mhz single channel; I didn't experience any interference with the system. The plane is set up such that if you do nothing, it pulls a constant left turn. The transmitter consists of a handheld unit, slighly smaller than a TV remote, with one button on it. You push the button to drive the rudder full right, and by pulsing it, adjust the rate of turn. Range reported in RC Microflight was 100' on the ground, which means more in the air.

A charging unit takes 6 C cells (which tells me you could substitute a

7.2V RC car or plane pack if you soldered in the supplied keyed charging jack). You make sure the sliding switch on the plane is set to off, plug the charging unit into the plane, then hold down a pushbutton for 45 sec. Unplug, flip the switch on, and launch. The motor had a surprisingly decent amount of thrust produced by a supplied 3" prop of unknown pitch.

The plane itself is foam, decorated with stickers, and all tail surfaces pre-installed. The wing is a one piece, undercambered, rather thin foam design, eliplictal planiform. To "build" the plane, you attach the wing with rubber bands. There's also a display only landing gear, and a replacement prop.

The instructions were vintage Estes rocketry, clear directions, step by step with profuse illustrations. There's a preflight checklist, a bit of problem debugging hints and an 800 number to call during Mountain timezone business hours for problems and replacement parts.

There's a decent set of trim instructions, the most innovative of which tells you how hard to throw the plane. Estes recommends practicing with an empty soda can, until your tossing motion lands the can 5-7 feet from you. Clever.

My first two flights were cut short however by busted props. My plane didn't exhibit an agressive climb. The trim adjustments recommended in the instructions said to bend the stab to increase the climb rate, and I didn't get that right before I busted both props. I"ll try the 800 number tomorrow and see how the replacement process works.

Also of note, even though the plane seemed to land pretty hard (well, hard enough to bust props anyway), the model itself was undamaged. I was a bit surprised by that, particularly given the thinness of the wing. The slide switch is installed such that momentum moved it to the off position both times, preventing damange to the motor. Replacing the prop was simple; pop the old one off, push the new one one.

Overall, this thing looks like:

(a) a pretty well designed piece of work for $20,

(b) to be a whale of fun once I get the trim sorted out and

(c) it's dying for someone to open it up and convert the control portion of the beast to a very low investment A BG RC system. If somebody doesn't show up at a launch in the next 6 months doing that, I guess I"ll give it a go myself.

Anybody else try this little cutie yet?

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = Mark B. Bundick mbundick - at - earthlink - dot - net NAR President www - dot - nar - dot - org

"The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest - by the myth - persistent, persuasive and unrealistic . . . We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - JFK

Reply to
Mark B. Bundick
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Nice review Mark. Have you submitted this excellent review to EMRR yet?

Jerry

Reply to
Jerry Irvine

Haven't tried a R/C one, but I bought one of the 7.00 re-charge planes at wallyworld. Seemed like it would fly well, busted the prop on the first go-round though. You think they could make the prop out of something less fragile.

-- Joe Michel NAR 82797 L1

Reply to
J.A. Michel

Holy Galloping Ghost !

, and for only $20.

Art

Reply to
Art Upton

Yup, that's what I discovered via rcgroups.com parkflyer secion.

Right now I'm thinking ruddervators A/B RCRG.

Ted Novak TRA#5512

Reply to
the notorious t-e-d

Gotta agree. I'm working on an Executioner, and the joke of a shockcord it came with was the first thing to go. Much to small and short even for a rocket half the size. The only impressive parts in the kit were the fins.

-- Joe Michel NAR 82797 L1

Reply to
J.A. Michel

Nice review. But one channel!? YUCK! I have been doing park fliers lately. But that is at least 3 channel and more of an investment, but worth it for anyone wanting to try RC. I am also building a GWS corsair and expect it to do well.

Hey maybe I can duplicate of on Mr. Gassaway's shuttle launches. That would be very cool.

Reply to
Greg Cisko

I think I'd stick with rudder only for starters, just to get an idea of how difficult the conversion might be. Looks to me like you'd have to gut the system, discard the motor from the circuit, then figure out how long the charge lasts. Then set up the mechanics for the flight control. Lastly, couple the package to a BG and test fly. Rudder only would be simpler.

My $0.02; YMMV.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = Mark B. Bundick mbundick - at - earthlink - dot - net NAR President www - dot - nar - dot - org

"The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest - by the myth - persistent, persuasive and unrealistic . . . We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - JFK

Reply to
Mark B. Bundick

Which was the point. For $20, if you get enough RC stuff to do simple BG's or planes without having to get uptight about crashing it. If you decide after the experience to do more, then you can up the ante for more robust equipement.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = Mark B. Bundick mbundick - at - earthlink - dot - net NAR President www - dot - nar - dot - org

"The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest - by the myth - persistent, persuasive and unrealistic . . . We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - JFK

Reply to
Mark B. Bundick

Sounds likke Tripoli.

Reply to
Jerry Irvine

At NARAM one night, I took the five kids (my two kids, their friend, and two, uh, older "kids") to WalMart to buy one of these. My son spent most of the next day playing with it in the field. While it would fly through the air OK, he could never control it. The plane would always circle (as Mark said, it comes trimmed to fly in a circle).

While he hasn't busted a prop yet, he broke most of the rest of the plane. However, packing tape worked fine to put it back together. This was the biplane version, and the struts fell off, so I replaced them with solid basswood struts.

Later, back home, we tried it in the local park (where the county has a field set aside just for RC flying, though one has to be an AMA member to use it). We re-trimmed the plane to fly straight, which it would, but still we weren't able to control it much.

The rudder control is very wimpy, to my RC-unexperienced eye. It barely twitches, moving maybe 3 mm UNattached to the rudder and less than that when attached. The servo appears to be a rotational device, which rotates a very thin piece of music wire. The wire has a right angle bend near the end, where it slides into a slot in the rudder; when the servo rotates the wire, this bend should push the rudder over. But the wire is so thin that it bends rather than pushing the rudder. Part of the problem here may be that my repairs stiffened the rudder. Out of the box the control surface was attached to the fixed vertical fin with a very small hinge--a piece of tape. The rudder control surface would flop around quite a bit, as this tape wasn't long enough to span the length of the rudder. So when the original tape hinge fell off, I put down a full-length piece of packing tape.

The idea is great, the price is right--but the darned thing doesn't quite make the grade. My son is interested in learning RC flying and I thought this might be a simple--and cost effective--introduction, but this plane didn't help. Fix the tail hinge and use a stiffer wire control rod and it might work, though it may need a stronger servo.

Steve Humphrey

Reply to
Steve Humphrey

You are correct sir but I kinda sorta had a head start on this last winter. Over at

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parkflyer section someone did a full review of the product and IIRC he was able to gut it the stock plane and make a decent flying wing with Epower. My thinking was to duplicate his efforts sans the Epower and use A's or B's for the boost.

But since I haven't done RC/RG in 18 years maybe it would be better for to stick with rudder-only control.

What exactly do you have in mind?

Ted Novak TRA#5512

Reply to
moonglow

Lots of cities are restricive of R/C. But no one is going to be tossing kids flying battery powered $20 light planes in parks in jail.

Reply to
AlMax714

Nope. They give them tickets like in skate parks. There is no end to police in our daily lives anymore.

Jerry

Reply to
Jerry Irvine

really? built my Ex stock. just flew it on a F21 (or was that my maxi clone?) no problems.

Reply to
tater schuld

Yep. Actually, I just used the shock cord from my Executioner in my latest Der Red Max clone. I considered it barely long enough for that rocket. I'm not saying that the Ex's stock shockcord would not work on that rocket, I'm just not real fond of 'Estes Dents'.

-- Joe Michel NAR 82797 L1

Reply to
J.A. Michel

But it sounded like the one channel route was just a button. That is not exactly RC if you know what I mean (and I think you do).

Reply to
Greg Cisko

It is indeed a button. But the plane has a control, and it's via a radio link, and therefore it's RC, in my opinion.

/rant mode on

What is it about this hobby that leads people to conclusions that becasue something doesn't meet their fixed definition of an activity, that they immediately demean it, even though it can be done safely, people learn stuff from doing it, and they have fun with it?

Saying the Estes plane isn't RC becasue it doesn't meet some fixed, personalized definition of what constitutes that hobby misses the point of hobbies entirely!

/rant mode off = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = Mark B. Bundick mbundick - at - earthlink - dot - net NAR President www - dot - nar - dot - org

"The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest - by the myth - persistent, persuasive and unrealistic . . . We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - JFK

Reply to
Mark B. Bundick

It is the way NAR has been treating non-NAR defined rockets for years. It is NAR/Estes enculturation. Congratulations. It worked.

It is NOT a surprise and NOT a miracle.

Stop claiming 62.5g exists in federal law for adults. It does not. Kill 62.5g in the safety code and the NFPA codes even if you rejected this sensible proposal at the BoT meeting. But we do not yet know if you did, do we?

Jerry

THIS is your NAR President ranting above. THIS is your NAR President stating 62.5g exists in current federal law. Stop the madness!

Reply to
Jerry Irvine

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