With the Laser 200, Towerhobbies reintroduces a formula that was huge over a decade ago, when the humongous torque-to-weight ratio of the brushless outrunner DC motor was first combined with the high-power density of the Lipo on feather-light depron planes. These acrobats, nicknamed “Flatties”, are made of flat pieces of foam and brought the flight maneuvers to a new dimension, quite literally. These are also known as shockflyers for their remarkable whirling flying patterns. The 3D realm has widely expanded since then and is now comprised of planes of many different sizes, including larger scale models, but there is still room for these indoor long-time-favorite fliers.
The Laser 200 comes as a kit, with all the main components already painted and the control surfaces hinged. The motor and radio equipment must be purchased separately, allowing the user the ability to pick and choose his favorite power system and control gears.
All the depron components are painted by the manufacturer and the control surfaces come attached and hinged. Towerhobbies included all accessories needed to build the plane with exception of the servos, receiver and power equipment. Linkage, control horns, motor mount, landing gear etc. are all part of the kit.
These are the gears we used for the review. When selecting your equipment, make sure to take into account two often contradicting requirements: it must be powerful enough for 3D maneuver, and light enough not to overload the plane. The Laser 200 uses micro-sized servos able to deliver high torque for the demanding 3D flight. A torque around 1.5 kg.cm is recommended.
The assembly process is very straight forward, and could be done in one evening. The building manual is available online with all details, and the below pictures highlight a few of the steps. Although not a challenging build, it is important for the plane to be assembled straight and sturdy for optimal performance.
Preparing the Laser 200 for flight is as succinct as it can be, since the plane does not need to be disassembled for transportation. This Flatty is small enough to fit in any car without a problem so the fact that the wing is permanently attached really is a non-issue.
The Rimfire 250 and the 8×3.8 propeller pulls the plane with authority and the take-off from the ground is as easy as it gets. The large control surface of the rudder and the wide fuselage limit the propeller wash and torque effect. The pilot just has to open the throttle to see the plane goes straight and takes off within a few feet. Another way to get the plane airborne is to hold the plane with one hand on the back side of the cockpit with nose to the sky, apply power and start with a Harrier maneuver. The plane is stable enough for this method of take-off making it safe and easy to perform.
As expected with the flat profile and the 0-degree wing incidence, the plane keeps a slight nose high attitude for a straight flight. The perfectly symmetrical air frame makes the inverted flight rigorously identical to the right-side up position. A very slight pull (or push while inverted) to the elevator is required to keep the plane level at constant altitude in normal flight. Nothing out of the ordinary: the Laser 200 behaves like the Flatty it is! The recommended CG seems right, and that will later be confirmed by the stability of the model in a torque roll.
The Laser 200 performs every figure in the book: roll, loop, knife edge, spin… The torque roll and Harrier are stable and easy to control, thanks to the generous control surfaces of the aileron, rudder and elevator. The plane holds the position with 1/2 to 2/3 of the throttle, and full throttle will bring the plane straight up. There is enough power to recover easily from an “oops” moment.
The ailerons have a strong bite and bring fast rolls at full throttle. So fun! The spin is moderately fast, and it helps to keep some power and rudder to keep the rotation going. The snap rolls are crisp and, with a little bit of practice, can be stopped very accurately in any position.
The plane has virtually no mass, so maneuvers that require build-up momentum such as the pop-top are not part of this Flatty’s agenda.
The Laser 200 “Flatty” brings back the joy of the shockflyers, with its ability to perform any maneuver in a very tight space with exception of those needing too much inertia. This is a fun plane to keep around for winter indoor sessions or summer days with very little wind.
Towerhobbies did a good job in designing the Laser 200 which performs well in the air, is easy to build, and won’t break your wallet.