Rage R/C Tempest 600 EP RTF

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As much fun as it is reviewing the really hot, advanced models out there, I have just as much if not more fun reviewing simpler models.  The subject of this review is such a model. It’s the new Rage R/C Tempest 600 EP RTF pusher prop sailplane from Hobby Recreation Products of Salt Lake City, Utah.

When I first saw the model on an online banner ad, I jumped to the conclusion that it might have some Nine Eagles DNA, much as a number of models under the old Hobbico banner had.  This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t apply here.

In this case, the designers at HRP started with a clean sheet of paper; this is an original design penned at the company headquarters in SLC.  The result is a remarkably fun model which is not only a great beginner’s platform, but one which many advanced pilots will enjoy as well.  This is due to Rage’s PASS system, or Pilot Assist Stability Software.  This is a user selectable, gyroscopically controlled system which limits control inputs for first-time pilots, or can be switched off for unassisted control.  Nice stuff for an affordably priced model and I’ll discuss it below.

Specifications

Wingspan:  23 5/8″ (600mm)

Length:  18 1/8″ (460mm)

Flying weight:  2 1/8 oz (60g)

Construction:  EPO airframe with carbon fiber spars; plastic propeller and optional protector; plastic and steel hardware

Motor:  7mm coreless direct drive

ESC:  Rage four-in-one control system with two integrated 1.3-gram servos

Propeller:  Rage 2510 direct drive pusher

Radio:  Rage 2.4GHz four-channel aircraft with digital trim tabs

Batteries: Rage 360mAh 1S 25C lithium polymer with Losi/JST Micro 2.0 connectors

Operator skill level/age: Beginner, 14+

Available from:  Hobby Recreation Products, 2034 South 3850 West, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104 USA

Any hobby shop which carries HRP products

SKU:  RGRA1108

Suggested retail/Sale price (USD):  $129.99/$79.99

The Tempest comes as a complete package:

  • Fully assembled and decorated model
  • Four-channel 2.4GHz transmitter
  • Two lithium-polymer flight batteries
  • USB charger
  • Illustrated instruction manual
  • Optional prop protector
  • Spare propeller

All that’s needed are:

  • Four AA-cell alkaline batteries for the transmitter
  • Computer with open USB port or USB wall adapter for charging the flight batteries

Unboxing

To begin, the artwork on the display box is stunning.  It shows not only the model in flight, but good info as well including lots of special features.  It’s also an excellent carrying and storage case.

Two foam blocks secure the Tempest in its tray; once they’re removed, it lifts right out.  The transmitter is snugly nestled in the tray as well and it’s typical of small models such as this.  Stick feel is good and the three-position PASS switch at the upper right corner is easily accessible when flying.  One thing it lacks -and I’m glad it does – is the generally useless LCD display one often finds on affordably priced RTF transmitters.  Instead, a bright red LED indicates the power is on.

The Tempest is a good-looking little plane straight out of the box:

I have often griped at how so many otherwise wonderful models have the poorest documentation imaginable.  Not so with the Tempest.  It’s extremely well written, easy to understand and chock full of photos.  Here are some examples:

The model has a smooth, glossy foam finish which wouldn’t be out of place on a more expensive model.  Decal application is nice and straight and the brightly colored decals present beautifully in flight.  The only thing marring the overall effect is a lot of small injection molding marks all over the model.  These are a necessary part of the molding process, but I wish there weren’t so many.  Just a small gripe and these are of course invisible from a few feet away, let alone in flight.

The EPO canopy/battery hatch cover clips in place in the front and there isn’t a pull tab.  This means very careful lifting of the canopy at the front to remove it.  Time will tell how well the clip will hold up and how many times I’ll be able to remove the canopy without crushing it.  The trick seems to be getting a fingernail under the front lip and lifting gently.  Once open, there’s plenty of room for the battery and the control board is easily accessible:

Speaking of batteries, HRP provides two flight batteries in their small RTF models and the Tempest is no exception.  The box art and text say that 300mAh batteries are provided and that the airframe is made of EPP when in fact they provide 360mAh batteries and the airframe is actually EPO as per the website and the HRP tech crew.

I found out later the 360mAh batteries provide excellent flight times and recharge in less than an hour with the supplied USB charger.  Since the Tempest is largely aimed at beginners, the charger operation is simple.  The body glows red while charging and goes out when charging is complete.

What it doesn’t have are transmitter batteries and I’m not complaining.  AA-cell alkaline batteries are not exactly a rare commodity and I’m thrilled to see that extra cost transferred over to a second flight battery.  I honestly would like to see other manufacturers take this lead.

Since there isn’t any assembly required, it’s a simple matter of installing transmitter batteries, charging up the li-pos, double checking for proper operation and going flying.

Getting Ready

It’s important with any RTF to do a quick preflight check and the Tempest is no exception.  The manual devotes three pages to instructing new users how to do so. Importantly, it’s done with the PASS switched off and the motor armed.  This is a simple as advancing the throttle to full and pulling it back to the bottom.  The transmitter beeps when this is done; the motor will now run when the throttle is advanced.  The transmitter won’t be confused with a high-end unit anytime soon, but it gets the job done:

I read an online review where a disgruntled user had problems with the model going into a steep dive whenever he went into full manual control.  I knew right away what happened.  He didn’t check the control surfaces with the PASS disabled.  PASS will nevertheless assist with straight and level flight but if the basics aren’t done first, well, prepare for issues when switching it off.

In the case of my sample, direction and centering were right on the money, needing a bit of up elevator trim during its first flights.  Should the control surfaces be out of whack out of the box, the U-bends at the ends of the pushrods may be bent to the proper adjustment, the servo arms can be relocated to different splines, or both.

In this photo, the U-bends are clearly visible as are the carbon fiber spars:

The wing is reinforced as well:

Speaking of which, the clevises are each installed in the center holes of the servo horns.  This seems to give plenty of throw for most flying, but relocating to the outer holes will increase throw should one desire.  The risk might be some extra strain on those tiny servos, so be forewarned.  It’s something I don’t feel comfortable recommending.

This is where the pilot can decide whether or not to use the prop guard.  I believed that if one can flip this model on its head in a crash, there will likely be a lot more damage than a lunched propeller.

It doesn’t actually have to crash as I found out.  A gust of wind flipped it upside down after landing on grass and bent a blade, easily straightened.  I may install it after that experience.  With the propeller carefully pried off with a small screwdriver or prop removal tool (not included), the guard is a friction fit around the motor shell.  The prop is then replaced with its numbers facing forward.

Here’s a detail shot:

Flying

In my opinion, there are far too many small models which require binding to the transmitter before each flight.  The Tempest 600 EP isn’t one of those.  It’s bound from the factory and in the chance it needs rebinding or if either the motherboard or transmitter are replaced, it’s a simple matter to do so and the procedure is covered in the manual.

A large, grassy area is a must, one free from trees, power lines, etc.  My usual spot for that very thing is the parade grounds shared by the famous Indian Wells Tennis Garden and Southwest Community Church bordering Indian Wells and Palm Desert, California.  The desert in early spring tends to be a bit breezy, but that wasn’t going to stop me.  The factory video shows a Tempest being flown in 15 mph (24km/h) winds anyway.  Here are some beauty shots I snapped before the maiden flight:

Powering up is typical of most models.  Transmitter on, battery plugged in, wait a moment for the servos to initialize.  As I’ve already mentioned, moving the throttle fully up and back arms the motor.

Any checks of the control surfaces are to be performed with the PASS shut off.  The direction of rudder and elevator were correct and they appeared to be properly aligned.

I wanted to try the model without any assistance to get a real feel for it.  I’m glad I did.  It doesn’t need full throttle to launch; about half to three-quarters work great since this little model packs a surprising amount of power.  Once launched, I soon discovered that although the stiff breeze buffeted it about, this was one fun plane.  Throttle application was a balancing act since too much throttle when flying into the wind pitched up the nose.  Too little and it wanted to dive until I trimmed the elevator.  After that, it cruised quite well at about half throttle.

Switching between assist and unassisted modes was completely without drama.  Both modes reduced control throws as promised, returning the Tempest to straight and level flight simply by releasing the sticks.  Even in unassisted mode, at no time did it feel as if it would simply come around too far and spiral into the ground.  If it were to become discombobulated during unassisted flight, flipping the switch to either assist mode gets that straight and level flight right back.  Of importance is the fact that the system won’t work correctly if the model is out of trim in unassisted mode.  I would strongly suggest to any first-time pilot to get help setting up the model before attempting to fly; this is good advice for any RTF beginner’s model.  There’s a very real risk of the model pitching steeply either up or down when switching between modes.  The PASS works well once it’s set up, but it isn’t so much a stabilization system than it is a method for assisting first-time pilots.  As such, the wind caused some erratic pitching.  Nothing horrible since the model was otherwise stable.  It’s something to keep in mind if the Tempest is being flown in breezy conditions.

When a calm day arrived at last, I was back at the field with the Tempest and both batteries ready to go. Now we were talking!  No more pitching and twitching between modes and I even took it up high enough to catch some thermals; it’s a sailplane, after all.  With little to no throttle, the assisted modes were a hindrance to me since I couldn’t bank over far enough to turn.  In unassisted mode, it tracked as any three-channel powered glider might.

Regardless of the flight mode, landing the Tempest couldn’t be easier.  It’ll glide in very well, but using a bit of power helps it track more accurately for spot landings.  I was able to easily land it at my feet.  It’s small and light enough that I felt safe catching it in midair. It’s nothing I’d recommend, but it was certainly fun!

Videos

The factory video does an outstanding job of showing the capabilities of the Tempest:

I thought I’d give a self-made GoPro video a try.  Brief, but nice:

Conclusion

A lot of small, entry level models do well as trainers, but many pilots might find that same model relegated to the closet once his or her skills improve.  The Rage R/C Tempest 600 EP RTF is one of those rare models where advanced pilots will have a ball simply flying it as a relaxing, yet good-performing little RTF which is small and light enough to go anywhere.  I have a number of high-performance models and it’s all too easy to forget how much fun a stable pusher prop plane can be.  It needs some careful setting-up for the best results; it’s not a model you can simply toss in the air expecting the PASS to work properly without it.  I mentioned early on that an Amazon reviewer was dissatisfied with his because of, well, failure to set up the model properly before flying.

Two thumbs way, way up for the Tempest.  It’s too much fun and too nice a little model to give anything less!

My sincerest thanks to Scott and the crew at Hobby Recreation Products.  These guys have a lot of seriously fun flying toys in stock and I hope to work with them again very soon.  Nathan Maat mans the admin’s desk here at RC Universe and of course, no review is complete without you, our audience.

Regardless of your flying skills, the Tempest will prove to be one of the most fun models you can fly.  Have fun with yours!

Pluses and Minuses

Pluses include:

  • Fun to fly
  • Well made
  • Parts are plentiful and affordable
  • Model is shipped with two flight batteries instead of just one
  • The PASS system works well and unobtrusively
  • Outstanding documentation
  • Easy and fun with or without the PASS switched on
  • Relaxing, carefree flight for all skill levels

Minuses include:

  • Depending on wind, the PASS might overcompensate pitch

 

 

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