Before I joined up with RC Universe, I had the pleasure of writing online reviews of four Hacker Model Production model aircraft some years ago. I also got to know world champion R/C pilot and designer Karel Hacker himself via email.
I had nothing but praise for this brand based in the Czech Republic and I still do. I’m pleased to say that not only do I still have all four models in perfect flying condition, I’ve now added a fifth to the lineup which I’ll share here.
This latest review subject is the Hacker Model Production Edge 540-V3 Race 1000mm ARF semi-profiler, available in the modeler’s choice of red, blue, green, or in this case, pink. The entire Hacker lineup is now distributed by Hobbico, meaning world-class parts availability and customer support. It also means an all-Hobbico build with Futaba servos, a Great Planes Rimfire outrunner and Castle Creations ESC, FlightPower battery, APC slo-flyer propeller and even Hobbico’s new Star brand battery connectors.
Although this is listed as an ARF, this is not a model which will go together in an evening. That said, assembly is otherwise quite easy…and fun!
Wingspan: 39.3″ (1000mm)
Wing Area: 284.4 sq in (18.35 sq dm)
Weight: 13.7 oz (390g)
Length: 39.4″ (1005mm)
Construction: CNC-milled expanded polypropylene airframe and side force generators; carbon fiber landing gear, pushrods and reinforcements; laser cut lite ply parts; CNC-milled plastic parts; 1.8″ plastic wheels with foam tires
Center of Gravity: 9.2-9.6″ (235-245mm) behind LE of wing
Servos as Tested: Four Futaba S3107 standard 9g micro aircraft
Transmitter as Tested: Futaba T6EX 2.4 GHz FASST protocol six-channel computerized aircraft
Receiver as Tested: Futaba R6106HFC 2.4 GHz FASST protocol six-channel aircraft
Battery as Tested: FlightPower FP30 3S 11.1V 1000mAh 30C lithium polymer with Hobbico Star Plug
ESC as Tested: Castle Creations Talon 25
Operator Skill Level/Age: Intermediate/advanced; 14+
Catalog Numbers: HC1702A (red); 1702B (blue); 1702c (green); 1702D (pink)
Available From: Tower Hobbies or any hobby shop which stocks Hobbico products
Price (USD): $71.99
CNC-milled, ink jet printed EPP airframe parts
CNC-milled plastic parts
Carbon fiber landing gear, pushrods and reinforcement rods
Laser-cut lite ply parts
Full hardware package including wheels and tires
Photo illustrated, multilingual manual
Let me begin by saying that a Hacker model is not ones’ typical foamie. Everything is beautifully machined right down to rounded leading edges on the wings and horizontal stabilizer. Hacker also does a lot of industrial work including 3-D modeling and prototyping and that attention to detail really shows in their model aircraft.
Those parts are carefully packaged in the colorful and attractive display box with nothing damaged in transit. One thing which I immediately noticed is the greatly improved English on the box and in the manual; the English instructions for the previous models appeared to be machine translated. All of the English safety and operational instructions in the manual appear to have been written or rewritten by a native speaker. Further simplifying things are the step-by-step assembly guides, also greatly improved with better photographs and pictographs since my last go-round with a Hacker model. These are welcome improvements since these changes add to the perception of quality.
Since this is a review and not an assembly guide, I’ll keep it simple and point out what I learned during the assembly process along with any problems I may have encountered.
Aside from the usual hand tools, soldering equipment (depending on the choice of motor and ESC) and such, the Edge requires a lot of thin, foam-safe CA, a lot of kicker and a lot of new #11 hobby blades.
Hacker tends to depart from the common wing/tail/fuselage/final assembly order found on many RTF models and a few ARFs. The first eight steps of the manual bear that out by instructing that the mounting tabs on the servos first be cut off. Really. I hated cutting into four brand new Futaba servos, but such is life.
The CNC-cut plastic servo arm extensions are installed per step three with the help of the supplied thread and some CA. Strange setup, but it works well and it’s a lot stronger than I thought it might have been. I opted for regular thin CA to glue the thread to the servo arms.
The next steps involve prepping the landing gear strut and its mount by drilling mounting holes and attaching the wooden reinforcements to the mounting plate.
Airframe assembly is next; step ten shows the control surfaces fully extended back and held down with weights for a minimum of two hours. Personally, I believe that should have been the first step, but it gave me a chance to run errands. When I returned, the hinges were nice and supple.
Back to Normal:
Wing assembly is covered in steps 11 through 18. Lots of cutting was necessary to slice the top and bottom of the wing to make way for the 770mm CF reinforcement spars and for the 200mm CF reinforcement rods diagonally across the tip of each aileron.
I had a “Simon Says” moment after slicing the top of the wing and gluing in the top spar in step 15. I then sliced the bottom of the wing per step 16. I went ahead and glued the bottom spar in place…which is something I should have done many steps later! Step 16 simply instructs that the cut be made. This didn’t turn out to be an issue later on, but forewarned is forearmed for your benefit, dear reader.
By the time steps 19 through 28 are completed, the Edge is starting to look something like an airplane with the nose, wing assembly, central fuselage, horizontal stabilizer and elevator spar glued together.
More Cutting and Gluing:
The 710mm CF reinforcement spars which run down each side of the central fuselage are installed by first carefully slicing through either side.
Something I’d complained about during my previous reviews is the lack of a printed guiding line to assist with long slices. Hacker is certainly capable of doing so, but without them, the builder should exercise extreme care in order to make accurate cuts. Those hobby blades will come in handy; it required two new ones to complete both cuts. The first one dulled near the end by the tail, went off course from the metal ruler I was using as a guide and sliced through to the outside.
If there’s one thing about EPP, it’s very forgiving to repair even if it eats #11 blades rather quickly. By the way, step 30 is where the lower wing spar is installed, but still, no glue.
Step 31 was rather interesting. It instructs the builder to use business cards or equivalent as spacers between the model and work surface. This is to ensure that the assembly to this point stays straight while weighted down and the spars glued (including the wing spar) in step 33. I’m pleased to report that it worked. The result was a perfectly straight assembly.
Continued assembly remains straightforward with separation of the top and bottom fuselage halves which, thankfully, are precut nearly all the way through. With the lower half squared up and glued in followed by careful squaring up and gluing of the black foam diagonal reinforcements, I found myself with nearly three-quarters of a model airplane. Still much to do after much having been done, but I still had a sense of accomplishment.
Servos, Landing Gear and Upper Fuselage:
Not much to report here; everything was simple and straightforward. While the aileron control horns are glued in place with CA, the servos themselves are not, requiring clear foam glue such as Beacon FoamTac, UHU Por or Bob Smith Industries Foam-Cure. The latter is generally found in hobby shops under the store’s own brand. By the time step 52 rolls around, the airframe is basically complete.
I should point out another mistake of mine; I’d cut out the marked openings on one side of the fuselage for the elevator pushrod guides. There are in fact precut slots per the manual and, to my relief, I was still able to obtain a proper fit. The prebent pushrod ends are secured with a combination of CA and the lengths of supplied shrink wrap tubing.
My onl real assembly issue began with the wheel pants at step 66. When assembled per the instructions, the bolt holding the wheel is too short for the outer locknut to properly engage. The wheel pants themselves interfere with the wheels during a test fit. It looks as if the problem is easily solved with a longer bolt and some sort of spacers between the wheel pants and the milled plastic backings. For now, I’ve left them off.
There isn’t a tail wheel, but rather a clear plastic skid. This worked well on both grass and asphalt thanks to the generous rudder area.
Less cosmetic and definitely functional are the side force generators installed at this stage. Those on the elevator and rudder are keyed to fit, but the ones on the wings are not and no measurement is given. It was easy enough to arbitrarily measure the outer SFGs based on the photo and then to use the supplied cardboard spacer to perfectly align the inner SFGs.
Installation of the motor, ESC, receiver and cutting an opening for the battery complete the Edge. If the builder decides to use the Rimfire 370 outrunner per this review, a cross mount adapter is required.
The Rimfire uses a three-point “Y” mount with only three mounting holes in the motor case, but only two of the mount’s tabs align with the firewall. Necessary as well are spacers between the motor mounting screws and the firewall; regardless of the mount used, the screws aren’t countersunk. Some nylon propeller adapters from a universal set I had on hand proved to be perfect for the task at hand, but any similar nylon spacer from a hobby or hardware store will work. The supplied screws were long enough to work well. The two-point mounting seemed secure enough for test fights, but I hasten to point out that while I had no problems, I wouldn’t recommend that a customer do so. I had some difficulty in matching up a spinner at the hobby shop, but an email to Natalie Rodrigues at Hobbico solved the problem. Her tech staff recommended a 1.5″ ElectriFly GPMQ4700 electric spinner which arrived just prior to the video shoot. This is a really nice piece of work with an aluminum backplate and a transparent black acrylic spinner cone. No drilling was necessary since the 3/16″ (5mm) hole was a perfect fit.
With the rates set per the “basic” and “aerobatic” settings – there’s a “crazy” setting for those so inclined – it was time to give it a try with the Edge’s first flight taking place a couple of days after it was completed.
After a few “beauty shots” less the spinner which were taken at Southwest Community Church in Indian Wells, California, I was ready to maiden the model over the church’s grassy parade grounds.
Throttling up, it was apparent that the Edge had a lot more power than I had assumed and it was airborne almost immediately. The only trims necessary were some down elevator and left aileron, but once trimmed, what a joy it was to fly!
Based on my previous experience with Hacker profilers, the Edge flew very much like a smaller version of the company’s Super Zoom 2.Or, nothing short of amazing.
After final touch-up of trim for straight and level flight, I began tossing a few aerobatics its way, first on low rates.
The recommended low rates are good for general flying, but rolls and loops weren’t as aggressive as I would have liked. Up went the control rates and up went the fun as a result.
Now the Edge was truly in its element with both large and small loops, barrel rolls, Immelmann turns and Cuban Eights. Not only was inverted flight as easy as standard flight, the Edge performs knife edge flight like few models I’d ever flown, thanks in no small part to the side force generators.
Some twisting of the tail was evident in turns, but again, that’s very much like my experience with the Super Zoom 2 and larger Super Zoom XL. It may be possible to further stiffen the fuselage with carbon fiber instead of foam reinforcements. However, there’s nothing wrong with the way this model flies.
With its generous wing area and light loading, the Edge practically floats in for a landing under minimal power. It’ll almost land like a Harrier with a bit of manipulation of the sticks. Despite the lack of a tail wheel, I had no problem steering the Edge back toward the flight line, even on grass.
A second, similarly sized battery went with me and I used this battery for the Edge’s second flight. This time, I cranked up the high rates shortly after takeoff and I went nuts with aerobatics for most of that flight. This model is by no means a trainer since it won’t right itself, but it does a superb job of going where it’s pointed. In short, this is a really fun ride for someone with decent flying chops.
Days of intense desert heat and wind were to follow before I was able to fly the Edge for its video debut.
George Muir, the longtime videographer of the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club east of Palm Springs and my go-to guy for video reviews met me at the club on a relatively cool, dry and calm morning in early July.
Once more, I found myself having an absolute blast with the Edge, pulling off loops, rolls, knife edges and even a hammerhead as easily as I might have done on a simulator. That sort of solid control instills a great deal of confidence, something which up-and-coming pilots would do well to consider when advancing to an aerobatic model.
At the start of this review, I mentioned how highly I thought of Hacker Model Production. The new Edge 540-V3 Race reinforces my belief in the company and this model flew every bit as well as I’d expected.
Perhaps even better.
True, there are a few oddities. The wheel pants presented a problem and the servo arm extensions are a bit less than conventional. While the instructions are a big improvement over those of previous models, a few minor details such as the precut slots for the elevator and pushrod guides should have been covered better. Given that it’s a profiler, hiding wiring is nearly impossible as well. Of course, this isn’t a scale model by a long shot and such exposed wiring is typical of almost any profiler.
All quibbles aside, I give the Hacker Model Production Edge 540-V3 Race as high a two thumbs up as I can muster. It’s an affordably priced yet sophisticated platform which will satisfy even the most crazed aerobatic pilot. Believe me, I’m satisfied!
My biggest and most sincere thanks go to Natalie Rodrigues, the peerless PR manager at Hobbico. Nat offered this great model for review and I couldn’t be happier to showcase this model on her behalf and that of Karel Hacker. Karel, my friend, you have another winner!
Nathan Maat is at the administrator’s desk on behalf of you, the worldwide audience of RC Universe. Thanks for stopping by!
Pros and Cons:
- High quality materials and hardware with sophisticated production
- Easily assembled, though not quickly
- Outstanding flight characteristics including outstanding aerobatic capability
- The side force generators do their jobs well
- Paint scheme is easy to track and looks great in the air
- Landing gear and instructions are a big improvement over earlier Hacker models
- Flies beautifully on affordably priced electronics
- World class support from both Hacker and Hobbico
- Hacker Model Production again sets the standard for foam profilers
- Wheel pants don’t fit properly