Purchased from Gliders UK some time ago this 3 metre span sail plane had been unboxed and the bits standing in the back of the garage. The early 2015 weather being rather inclement at present I decided that I would make some more effort to get this glider put together. Previously I had fixed the stabiliser and rudder fitted their servos and connectors and installed servos in the wings. Although designated ARF this model is far from that!
You can either motorise it or make it slope only. The white fuselage is really smooth grp and the wings are traditional balsa / ply, white film covered and the wings do pass the "squeeze" test well. The squeeze test using thumb and forefinger tells you if it has plenty of ribs to support the balsa sheeting. The hardware comes in various bags unmarked and the manual is non existent. Just a parts list on a exploded plan. Not a big issue if you have built scratch models before or had some experience of numerous ARFs.
I had planned to make it a slope soarer but the last year in my area of Dorset has proved a little sparse with regards to slope friendly winds. So, I have decided to make it motor powered, at least I can fly it from our airfield most often. So, on to the build because that is what it is in reality rather than an ARF.
The GRP fuslage is very well made, extremely smooth and pure white. The interior has a ply servo / battery tray. The wings pass the squeeze test and feel solid. Fully sheeted and film covered. The outer wing ends are finished off with optional grp wing tips which are included. Maximum motor size is 35mm outrunner due to the small space in the pointed nose of the fuselage. It can only be secured by two small 3mm screws, 25mm apart. There are various bags of hardware, plastic servo covers, screws and landing gear/wheels. Control surface hinging is accomplished by the film covering.
Motor and Prop: For purposes of this review I also used the FlyFly Electric Kit. This is purchased separately and contains a 35 mm outrunner and 11x7 folding prop. This B36 500 - 750 watt 1200Kv motor with 5mm shaft is supposedly good for a 5 cell LiPo pack and a suggested capacity of 3200maH.
To fit the 35mm motor I had to cut off about 12mm of the nose so the motor shaft protruded enough to get a folding prop adaptor to fit on. The motor is secured by two 3mm short machine screws which just come through the motor casing but very close the the windings, so care had to be made here. I am not sure about the thrust line due to the motor mounting being glassed in at production. If it requires adjustment then a bit of shimming may solve this issue if there is one. I have mounted a Hobbywing Platinum 60 amp ESC on to the side wall of the fuselage just into the cockpit area. I may have to cut an air intake on the underside of the fuselage and also in the rear to cool the ESC. The recut nose may not allow sufficient air to pass through. Albeit this may not be an issue in use because the motor would be used only to take-off and climb up to height.
Rudder and Stabiliser: The tail fin is integral so fitting the rudder is a simple job. Supplied are those common CA hinges, three required and the rudder was slotted for two! The tail fin had none that I could find but this is not a problem. Before fitting the rudder I would secure the contoured horizontal tail plane, the elevator is already fixed using the covering film. The tail plane has an area of film to cut away for installation of a mini servo. On removing the film it is just a hole and supposedly you secure the servo using the cheap and useless servo covers supplied. That's a no no! Finding a mini servo man enough and just the right size was time consuming and I gave up. I opted to cut a rectangular servo size slot in the side of the fuselage just under the tail plane. I then glued 5mm ply pieces into the back of the hole (no mean feat either). These ply backings will take the screws that secure the servo. The servo arm when fitted will line up with the elevator arm. I used the supplied arms which require a slot, glued in with a plastic backing plate which is more than adequate for this model.
It is supposedly to be fixed using two screws which fix into the fuselage which should have captured (spike) nuts installed. There was nothing and anyway it would not be that strong enough fix. After considering various options I went for glueing it using epoxy resin. The tail plane butts up against a location at the base of the tail fin. I checked to verify if the tail plane sits flat and square on the fuselage tail. A bit of filing and sanding, the latter needed to be done anyway and recheck. The only issue that concerned me is holdiing the stabiliser in place whilst the adhesive cures. I overcome this problem by using short, fat self tapping screws into the holes that were originally supposed to have captured nuts. At this time I am hoping that the incidence angle of the stabiliser is correct. Only flying and amount of elevator trim required will prove either way.
Once the stabiliser was secure I then proceeded to cut slots with a craft knife for the rudder where necessary ensuring that the rudder top cleared the tail fin and at the bottom the tail plane. The bottom of the rudder is angled to allow clearance when the elevator is in the fully up position. Once I was happy with the rudder location I proceeded to fix the dual control arms. These also require a through slot to be made where necessary to align with the close loop wire outlet holes in the fuselage. The rudder arms are slotted in on either side and fixed using epoxy. At this point I took the opportunity to measure the distance between the outer holes of the arms so a suitable servo arm with holes of the same distance can be found. Once that job was done it was time to fit the rudder to the the tail. Doubly checking the alignment and the hinge slots and also verfiying that at full elevator the rudder will clear I proceeded to secure in place using good old CA thin.
- Elevator Servo Elevator Servo
- Landing Gear Landing Gear
- Landing Gear Landing Gear
- Rudder Control Rudder Control
I used a standard digital servo for the rudder control, the servo drops in nicely into the precut servo tray. With a suitable long servo arm fitted I made up the closed loop wire system usng a temporary receiver to centre the servo. Taking up any slack will be done by adjustable links at the servo end which I find easier to do due to the vast space available.
Binding a AR7000 receiver, the JR DSX9 set up for Glider which changes many of the output signals at the receiver and connected the rudder servo and the elevator servo, the latter using a 1000mm extension. The receiver was fitted just aft of centre of the servo tray/battery tray. Powering up the receiver I then proceeded to centre the servos and connect the elevator using my own 2mm rods and clips. Rudder was centred and the closed loop adjusted. Thats that bit done.
Note: For JR 9303 and DSX9 series the Transmitters Glider mode changes the output signals from the receiver as below:
1 = Left aileron 2 = Right aileron 3 = Elevator (or right ruddervator if you have a V-tail) 4 = Rudder (or left ruddervator if you have a V-tail) 5 = Right Flap 6 = Left Flap 7 = Battery (or speed controller if you have a motor)
The full details of programming JR 9 channel Tx's can be found here Easy 6 Servo Glider Set-Up
Cockpit: The large two seater cockpit is in two pieces. The clear canopy and the floor. These items had to be trimmed off as per normal. The cockpit floor I trimmed out slowly until it drop into the slight recess in the fuselage. Once that was done it was time to do similar to the clear canopy. A little bit more tricky as I was looking for alignment with floor and also the fuselage, the cockpit edges just slightly more overlap to hide the black colour of the floor. I fiddled for some time over this and in fact ended up cutting a little bit more than needed. Now I need a pilot and the only one I had available was Barbie or is it Cindy, ex of one of my MX2s. Got long blonde hair anyway! Trimming her off on the bust line and epoxying her down in the front seat. I used UHU Por to glue the two cockpit pieces together and taping the two items down on to the fuselage with masking tape until the glue cures. I prefer UHU for this job because a a push you can gently prise the items apart later if necessary to replace or repair.
There is no information on how the secure the cockpit so I glued some 3mm ply on the forward section of the cockpit floor then made up an angular piece support on both sides by fillets. The idea here is, as the cockpit is slids forward the angled piece will go under the fuselage and gradually pull it down till the cockpit is fully located. The rear was done by glueing the little ply hook found in the hardware bags and a backing plate. This was fixed to the rear cockpit floor and using a thick rubber band through one of the holes in the fuselage's ribs, the band hooked on and the band pulls the cockpit down. This should be adequate to hold down the cockpit hatch as the rubber band supplied is quite thick, although ovetime it will perish so a good idea to keep an eye on it.
Landing Gear: The main landing gear is a spring loaded leg with a fork at one end for the soft rubber surrounded wheel. The leg has at the fixture end a rectangular steel plate with four 3.5mm holes. There did not appear to any likely machine screws and nuts in the hardware bag to attach this to the aircraft. I used my own 3mm machine screws and nyloks to fix the main gear to the pre-drilled ply mounting plate within the fuslage. Here I had to make some little adjustments to the GRP surounding area to allow clearance.
There have been reports by other pilots of this gear folding backwards against the fuselage and therefore jamming the wheel. I feel the consensus here is that the surface they are landing on is not that good and virtually all reports where from slope users. The landing on our well cut and rolled field at Cashmoor will prove whether there is an issue or not. A workaround should be easily found if this is an issue. The wheel itself is held within the forked end by a 3mm machine screw which screws into one side of the fork and then locked by a nylok nut. A small tail wheel is supplied which is located by a machine screw passing through two holes at the rear of the fuselage. Very basic but should help keep the tail end of the landing strip. It may be in the future that these holes will open up and the need for little beefing up using some ply added into the slot.
Servo Installs: These were rather frustrating to say the least. There are no pre-made hatches to fix your servos to. The wings have four cut outs in the sheeted wings that you have a feel around for. Outer for aileron and inner for flap. This was easy enough. Once I had the servo bays opened up, I puzzled over how and what would go in them. I did not want to use 9 gms micro (too small), 16 gm mini servos possibly but they would stick out proud of the wing surface badly. There was also the possiblity of glueing the minis to the awful servo covers supplied. I discarded that idea and instead went for Hitec HS125MG Slim Wing servos expressly designed for thin wings of sail planes. These were undeniably hard to locate in stock and took some serious surfing around. Two from supplier and two a month later from another source. But theyare capable of handling the control surfaces as they are high torque , metal geared but maybe a bit overkill.
- Wing Security Wing Security
- Access Holes Access Holes
- Slim Wing Servo Slim Wing Servo
- Slim Wing Servo Slim Wing Servo
To secure these servos required cutting out the servo bays a bit larger and then laying in some wood fillets for the servo screws to pull down into. I had thought of just "sticking them down" in the wing recesses but was thinking of replacing or repairs in the future. With this job done the servos are only just above the wing surface and I will make up some covers from packaging at a later date after maidening the Fox.
The wing joiner is solid 16mm carbon rod and I found I had to polish it down with wet-n-dry until it slid reasonably in and out of the wing tubes. It did slide neatly through the fuselage. A trial fit found that one of the wings at their root have a metal dowel (made from 3mm bolt cut offs). These engage as anti-rotation pins. The right wing aligned perfectly with the fuselage but I had to open up the left wing's fuselage hole by about a millimetre for it to the locate.
In the hardware bags are two grp wing tips that are contoured to suit the wing. They are handed so take care. These also come with one metal dowel (same as wings above) in each tip. There is in each tip another hole which I assume is an option. In the wings themselves there are pre-drilled holes and I did not expect them to be accurately drilled and I was found to be right. Not an issue. I made up two more pins, there fore two for each tip them made adjustments in the wings so the tip fitted correctly and in alignment. Once I was happy with this I carefully sliced off the covering at the wing tip to expose wood and roughened the grp tips. I then used epoxy to secure these tips in place verifying that they were staying in alignment.
Also supplied are wing tip wheels, these are small wheels sat in a plastic housing which has to be epoxied on to the underside of the wing just inboard of the grp wing tips finishers. I opted not to use these but found some nice round plastic tear drop shaped skids cut out from food packaging and stuck on with UHU POR.
The ailerons are only 30% of the wings length, the flaps 60% and I would think that for a glider there is not enough aileron surface for authority over decent rolls and turns. Flaperons the option here. As I had already set up the DSX9 in Glider mode this option was automatically added to the menu list. Placing the wings back on to the fuselage, I temporarily plugged in the wing servos into the receiver and powering up with a 4.8v battery pack plugged into the receiver. Centering their servos and then setting up the flap servo arms just slightly forward and the ailerons in centre. Now I connected the servo arm to the control arms using again my own made 2mm rods, swing keepers, etc.
Now back into the Transmitter's menu for Launch, Cruise and Land modes and set up all the servo travels, flaperon mixes, butterfly, etc. I verified that that in each mode the servos travelled in the right direction, the rates changed, etc. Takes some time to fiddle with settings for the initial flights.
Fitting the wings to the fuselage entails sliding the carbon rod through the fuse (I marked mine with some little saw cuts so I know when it is centred) and then slide each wing onto the rod and push up the fuselage at the same time feeding the servo leads through the fuse also until the wings butts up against the fuselage and the anti-rotation pind are located also. The wings are secured by, one for each wing, 4mm wing nut screws from inside the fuselage and I can tell you it's a bit of a battle to do this simple job, especially if you have big hands. I would be more inclined to these wing screws with thumbwheels, a bit easier to wind in and out and unlikely to over tighten.
A Note of Warning: The screws fittings inside the wing root are NOT captured but basically a nut embedded into the wood and I found that the nuts fell out eventually. The anti-rotation pins also used the same fixing and one of them came out too. Grrrr! To get round this I had to cut some little wing surface away on the underside about 6mm in from the wing root panel and above the problem area. I only found one of those nuts! Anyway, using long nose pliers I dropped some 4mm spike nuts in through the cut aways and using the wing bolts and a pile of washers to draw up the spike nut into the ply root rib. A lot more secure and replaceable. I took some white Pro-Film and ironed on two strips to cover the "access areas".
In the box also came a large decal sheet, all the self-adhesive clear backed decals have to be cut out and are in one colour, orange. The fuselage decoration has to cut out and the centre also cut out to clear the wing root protrusions of the fuselage. This is going to be fun and it was! Trying to keep the decal aligned and not letting it stick down too early, keeping the decal fairly taut to reduce wrinkles, etc, etc.
Rather than decals, I had considered spraying the fuselage with acrylic motor paints to give it a custom look and a one of a kind model. Printing some identifiaction numbers (GB ones) using self adhesive vinyl sheet and any other glorification too. Apparently there has been some argument over the production of the fuselage, that early versions where molded then spray painted and later versions the final gel coat was coloured.
Centre of Gravity: With a 3300maH 5 cell Lipo (GensAce) sitting on the forward part of the servo tray as far as possible the model balanced at 80mm although depending on your choice of flying style the recommendations are 75mm - 80mm bck from the leading edge, bearing in mind that I had added a little more weight to the tail end with that elevator servo.
Excellent fuselage and finish. Wings appear to be well made and man enough for the job. The downside in my opinion is servo install and useless servo covers. Other than the control arms and main landing gear most of the hardware can be junked. Hence my suggestion that this model is far from ARF, as you will need your own supply of decent bits-n-bobs and previous experience of assembling ARF's. However, with some decent gear fitted this turns out to be a nice scale model of it's full size big brother. You do need to be able to adapt or modify as you feel necessary.
Other reviews mainly from slope users say it is a great glider on the slope and with the option of flaperons giving the good authority.
Update: August 29th 2017
Two years and half years later it finally was maidened. Had been sitting in the corner of the "hangar" forgotten due to lot's of other planes to fly. On the day it was light breeze of about 6mph, suny with some high cumulus. Forgetting the 5 cell battery I had to use a spare 4 cell Lipo pack. Another club member held it high and launched it into the wind as i pushed the throttle up to about 2/3rds. It gently flew off and I started to climb adding more power to get height more quickly. Now at "safe" height I powered off and it glided really nice. Hardly any trimming needed. Completed a number of circuits to get the feel of the control surfaces. no nasty tendencies so far. At this time I have not tried the air brakes (Crow). However, my landing should have been with a little more speed, stopped flying and landing a little short of the main field. No damage though.
For the price it is a nice scale model.