Many of the more interesting review subjects I’ve encountered have come from overseas mail houses. Most have been entry-level quadcopters, but a few have turned out to be really nice park flyer-class aircraft.
With that, it’s my pleasure to share my impressions of the plug-n-play version of the Volantex RC Ranger G2 757-6 from Banggood.com. The 1100mm wingspan Ranger is a multi-use, high quality EPO model suitable as a four-channel trainer, a powered glider, an aerial photography platform, an FPV platform, line-of-sight sport flying or all of the above.
Banggood sells it in both a bare airframe version for US$63.99 or the version I’ll share here, a PNP for only nine dollars more. Those nine bucks net a 1400Kv brushless outrunner, 20A ESC and four nine-gram servos. The electronics are factory installed and the model needs only simple final assembly, a four-channel radio and a battery.
I’ll be flying the Ranger with my Airtronics SD-10GS radio and an Airtronics 92224 receiver. The Lectron Pro batteries were courtesy of Nathan Bannister and Kenzier Lemmons of Common Sense RC in Chatsworth, California.
Although the model comes with decals, it’s literally a blank slate for any scheme one can imagine. Therefore, the Ranger is wearing a phantom US Civil Air Patrol scheme courtesy of Callie Soden of Callie Graphics in Magdalena, New Mexico.
This is a tremendous amount of model for $72.99 with free shipping. It’s time to see just how tremendous and how much fun it really is.
Wingspan: 47.2″ (1200mm)
Weight of Bare Airframe: 24 oz (680g)
Length: 34.6″ (880mm)
Construction: Expanded polypropylene airframe, canopy and camera mount; carbon fiber wing tube; carbon fiber elevator, aileron and horizontal stabilizer spars; plywood wing spars; steel landing gear, tail wheel strut and pushrods with nylon clevises and servo horns; plastic wing quick release tabs; three 2″ plastic wheels with foam tires; plastic tail wheel with foam tire; aluminum prop adapter
Center of Gravity: 75 +/-5mm behind LE of wing
Servos: Four standard 9g micro; brand not specified
Transmitter as Tested: Airtronics/Sanwa SD-10GS 2.4 GHz ten-channel computerized aircraft
Receiver as Tested: Airtronics/Sanwa 92254 2.4 GHz six-channel aircraft
Batteries as Tested: Lectron Pro 1800mAh 3S 50C lithium polymer
Decals as Tested: Custom US Civil Air Patrol markings from Callie Graphics
Motor: Volantex 2812 brushless outrunner; 1400Kv
Propeller: APC “clone” 7×5 electric, standard rotation
ESC: Volantex 20A brushless
Operator Skill Level/Age: Experienced beginner; 14+
Manufacturer: Exhobby, 9/F Duoli Technology Building, Number 105 Meihua Road, Futian District, Shenzhen, China
Catalog Number: V757-6
Available From: Banggood.com
Price (USD): $72.99 with free shipping to the US
Fuselage with installed servos, motor, ESC and glider landing wheel
Wing halves with installed servos
Full hardware package with Phillips screwdriver
Steel landing gear with installed wheels and tires
Machined aluminum propeller collet
Canopy and camera platform
Pressure sensitive decals
Photo illustrated manual
In customary Banggood fashion, the package arrived wrapped instead of boxed once it had cleared customs in Los Angeles. As labor intensive as this may be, my guess is that doing so reduces shipping costs and allows for free shipping. As always, the corners of the very attractive display box were crushed as a result, but the contents were unharmed.
And what contents they were.
The fuselage was the only unwrapped part; it was beautifully and smoothly molded with, of all things, a bubble level on top! This is a nod to those who will use the Ranger for FPV and/or aerial photography to assure that the fuselage is level as the camera is adjusted on the ground. A hole in the nose allows for an FPV camera and there’s plenty of room as well for a camera battery and a short cloverleaf or pagoda antenna. The design allows for the use of both FPV and GoPro cameras. Just amazing.
Further investigation of the airframe parts reveled them to be just as beautifully rendered with clearly marked CG points beneath each wing and with neatly installed aileron servos. One of the most impressive details was the use of pinned nylon hinges helping to reinforce each control surface. The foam was a bit stiff at each hinge, but it didn’t take long to manually work them in.
I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that if this model had a brand name attached to it, it might be twice the price and deservedly so. I’d paid far more than 73 bucks for early micro quads!
I’ve read more than my fair share of machine translated instructions, so I was surprised and pleased to see how well written this manual was. True, there were a few minor typos, but overall, this is one of the best I’ve seen.
The assembly steps are accompanied by excellent engineering drawings, but some of the steps are, in my opinion, reversed. Steps one and two involve first installing the tail section followed by the control horns. Likewise reversed are steps six and seven regarding wing installation followed once more by the control horns. Missing from the text is the installation of the tail wheel even though step one shows it in place. It was easy enough to figure out how to properly install the tail wheel, so I won’t belabor the point. Beyond those issues, final assembly is quite literally a snap.
The wings are held in place by nylon clips with quick release tabs. No screws! One wing didn’t want to engage its clip, easily remedied by slightly bending the tab on the fuselage outward with pliers.
With the servos electronically centered, on went the pushrods, clevises and even some short lengths of silicone tubing to act as safety retainers per standard practice. This was a really welcome touch and spares are provided.
While the manual clearly shows into which holes the clevises should be inserted, neither the manual nor anything online turned up information on control throws or expo. I’m guessing that Exhobby/Volantex had users with sport radios in mind; the settings looked to be about right for a model this size once the receiver was hooked up.
That lead me to a problem; the servo leads coming up from the tail and wings are very much on the short side. Compounding the problem was how the plugs didn’t want to fit in the Airtronics receiver.
That was easily remedied by gentle use of a sanding block, but if I had it to do again, I would have purchased four standard 3″ servo extensions. Doing so would have made mounting the receiver much easier; there’s a ton of room under the Ranger’s canopy for batteries, the receiver and other equipment. Anyone considering the purchase of this model would do well to pick up some extensions.
On the subject of extensions, there’s an error on the Banggood ordering page. The recommended battery has an XT60 connector, so that’s precisely the type of battery I requested from Common Sense RC.
The model arrived shortly before the batteries did – and the model had a Deans Ultra-Plug connector instead of an XT60. Fortunately, I had a homemade adapter on hand.
With everything working, on went the propeller. Supplied with both the PNP and kit is a nice looking 7050 standard rotation prop which does one heck of a good job mimicking an APC unit right down to the font for the size number. The aluminum collet is a standard piece as well, but mine lacked the thrust washer between the hub and nut. The parts bin was “in for the win” with a proper washer salvaged from a years-old, stripped propeller adapter. That washer was the reason I kept it in the first place and it worked perfectly.
Decals and Camera Mount:
Since the Ranger G2 is a sort of blank canvas in its all-white EPO finish, it practically screams for a set of quality decals and graphics.
My go-to source for all things graphic is the one and only Callie Graphics. Callie Soden and her husband Matt were enjoying a three-day holiday vacation per the automated response I’d received, so I thought I’d give the factory decals a try.
Not fun. Not fun at all.
It took seemingly forever to get the decals to lay down properly using the soapy water method of application. Even when the decals were fully set, it took some work with a hobby knife to smooth them out. While the end result looked good, the graphics bordered on the silly with such proclamations as “first person view” and “remote control airplane.” There was even a stand-alone decal for the elevator proclaiming the G2 as a remote control airplane. Tempted as I was to apply it, common sense prevailed.
Callie got back to me as soon as she returned and asked what I might like in the way of decals. I hadn’t given it much thought, so she offered to surprise me.
Surprise me she did! She sent a series of decals with a phantom Civil Air Patrol scheme including a tail number. By the time I was ready to apply them, the factory decals were long since set. They came off, but not without roughing up the smooth finish of the foam as I’d expected. The results, however, were worth it. I kept the “Ranger G2” decals in place at the nose and while the livery isn’t an exact representation of a CAP aircraft, the scale look they afford to a decidedly non-scale subject is priceless, especially in flight. Should one wish to replicate a genuine CAP aircraft scheme, all Callie would need are some photos.
Attaching a GoPro or similar action camera is going to require the use of an adhesive backed base, whether from GoPro or another source. A set of mounts via Amazon Prime set me back eight bucks. Two mounts from GoPro retail for twenty.
Between unending days of high winds and record-setting desert heat, it took some time between the model’s completion and its maiden flights.
I had a narrow window of opportunity one morning to fly it before the heat settled in. The place was the grassy parade ground in Indian Wells, California shared by the famous Indian Wells Tennis Garden and Southwest Community Church. While I was taking some beauty shots, I got into a pleasant conversation with a security guard making the rounds on a rather nice golf cart. The gentleman was a full-scale pilot and was fascinated by the Ranger G2. Soon after, it was time to fly.
The wind direction forced me to do a crosswind takeoff practically with the wind. The grass hadn’t been mowed and it was just long enough to cause a couple of nose-overs. Another thing which absolutely did not help was the tail wheel. A tiny hub and a big foam donut with no reinforcement do not a good combination make.
Once airborne and trimmed, the fun was underway.
It took some fiddling with both elevator and aileron trims to get the G2 flying properly. My initial elevator setting could have used a touch more expo, but it was otherwise as smooth as it could be. It was also much faster than I’d anticipated, a very welcome surprise indeed.
Overall handling was excellent, but it does like some rudder in turns. It turned with ailerons only, but not well. Goosing the throttle caused the nose to pitch downward momentarily, later dialed out with a bit more trim and a repositioned battery.
My new friend came back around as I put the Ranger through its paces and he was beyond impressed. Frankly, so was I. Here is was a model which sells for well under a hundred bucks acting as if it were a brand name model.
I didn’t try any aerobatics beyond simple rolls and loops. Loops require some more airspeed than one might assume (unless one were doing hammerheads) and rolls on the recommended aileron settings are on the slow side, but in both instances, it tracked perfectly.
I even tried catching some thermals and while I was unsuccessful, the G2 does in fact make one heck of a good glider. That was especially apparent on landing since it seemingly will glide forever. Keeping some power on kept some air flowing over the tail which resulted in a perfect, pinpoint landing exactly where I’d wanted to land.
Several days of high temperatures were to follow before I could get both ground and onboard video. As always, I used the facilities of my local club, the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club in Thermal, California east of Palm Springs. On hand for a pleasant early summer morning was the club’s longtime videographer, George Muir.
Conditions were almost perfect with a slight breeze coming in from the south. This was the first time I’d flown the Ranger off of asphalt and while it tracked well on grass, the tail wheel once again caused problems. Although I’d lightly glued the tire to the wheel, it wasn’t enough to keep it from partially separating (where, um, I’d failed to glue it).
I replaced the tire and while taxiing out, it came loose once more. Nothing I could do, so into the wind went the model and up went the throttle.
The incredible power and torque got the model airborne in moments, but the tail wheel made for a rather hairy ride before liftoff. The paved runway allowed the Ranger to accelerate far quicker than on grass; it took off as if it had been launched with a slingshot.
This time, I didn’t go all out with aerobatics and such beyond a loop. That was primarily because I felt the need to dial in a bit more expo on the ailerons. No matter; I had a great time! The CAP graphics made the airplane really stand out in flight, making it look almost scale.
Landing was as simple as before with a slight bounce on the mains; recall that this was my first time flying this model off of pavement. The wobbly tail wheel made taxiing back to the flight line somewhat of a challenge but beyond that, I was very pleased with its performance.
Now it was time to send it aloft with the GoPro.
If there were ever a reason to mount an action camera on a model airplane, this is that reason.
The Ranger balanced perfectly on the CG points once I’d scooted the battery rearward. This flight would only be my second off of pavement – and the first with a GoPro Session stuck to the canopy.
That aerial photography canopy has a rather ingenious latch similar to those on the wings. It snaps on behind where the regular canopy clips in place and it does so much more securely. In other words, I was confident that my camera would stay attached to the model once I got it ready to fly.
To my utter delight, the model flew better with the camera in place! Again, nothing fancy, just a few laps around the pattern with a low pass thrown in for fun. The resulting video was simply awesome. GoPro makes a truly first-class product, but all of that technology does no good when attached to a shaking, vibrating model.
Such, I’m pleased to report, was not the case as evidenced in the video below. Stock propellers are often wildly out of balance, but if the “APC clone” was imbalanced, I certainly couldn’t tell on the raw footage.
Though its name may be a real mouthful, the Volantex RC Ranger G2 757-6 can easily be summed up in a single word: Fantastic!
It’s well made, flies great and is a good a camera platform as one can find anywhere, especially at a low price such as this. Two thumbs up just as high as I can give them. This model is a must for virtually any pilot!
My sincerest thanks first go to “BG Tobey,” my contact at Banggood.com. He’d offered this model for review and believe me, I’m glad I took him up on that offer.
A tremendous thank-you is due to both Nathan Bannister and Kenzier Lemmons of Common Sense RC. I’ve worked with Kenzier on a number of reviews, but this was my first time working with Nathan. Both are delightful people and their products are top notch.
If ever there were a first name in model graphics, it’s “Callie.” There are a ton of reasons why Callie Soden of Callie Graphics is quite possibly the world’s leader in model graphics. Suffice to say that when it comes to jaw-dropping quality and world class customer service, few do as well.
As for yours truly, I’ll be flying this model almost every chance I get.
Pros and Cons:
- Excellent overall product quality
- Fantastic flight characteristics
- Incredibly low priced
- Electronics are standard, discrete units available in any hobby shop
- Excellent, inexpensive parts selection
- Excellent user manual
- A multi-purpose platform that really performs in multiple ways
- Tail wheel is just plain awful
- Factory decals are difficult to apply and look like those one might find on a toy
- Some of the assembly steps are reversed
- Servo leads need to be longer for ease of installing the receiver