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  1. #1
    five-string's Avatar
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    J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    I am curious if anyone has had any hands-on with the J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight. I don't know a manufacturer's name, but Harbor Freight has the planes on sale right now for $79, complete with everything you need. It lists as a three channel.

    I bought a Yellow Bee from them last Fall but never flew it. It was purchased for a raffle and I wanted to fly it soo bad but left it new in the box. I read another post on here that says the Yellow Bee is a blast. Hey, for $29.99 complete kit, you can't go wrong. Extra wing and tail kit is $10.

    By the way, don't discard those old Harbor Freight sale flyers. They will honor any sale price, any time, if you bring the ad with you, no matter how old the ad is....just f.y.i.
    Never, ever take a laxative and a sleeping pill on the same night.

  2. #2

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    Dont ya just love harbor freight...
    Thats like an adult toy store.

    I got my airbrush and compressor from them, zipties, mini screwdrivers, ball end T-handle hex wrenches, all those aluminum briefcases that I carry my tX's in, and tons of other stuff. That store rocks.

  3. #3

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    Sure looks like an SDM Piper to me. If it is, and it's on sale for 80 bucks with the gear reduction motor, it's a good price from what I gather from the SDM Piper thread.

  4. #4

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    Yes but be carefull, there are a lot of them that LOOK like the SDM, and yes if it is SDM with gear reduction that would be a great price but as they are not at dealers yet and are still bidding to over 100.00 on E-Bay I don't think it is. The only way to be sure is if it say's SDM on the box. And remember not all Cubs are made the same
    AJ
    Well I flew it up there... now how am I supposed to get it down

  5. #5

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    LOL---...I SAW THAT PLANE....actually One that was Hanging out of the box.

    I will put my 2 cents in and let you all go with it.

    A LOT Of stuff at Harbor Freight "LOOKS" Cool...and is Inexpensive. and For instance A Specific "TOOL" Or something that You Will be using VERY RARELY Or for some casual Light duty It may be somewhat Useful. BUT....From My personal experience ...(and I have Given them a Dozen or so tries with Many different items) 90% of EVERYTHING I have Bought and used...or a family member or friend has Bought and used from Harbor Freight has Broken in half..LOL..or fallen apart or simply just laughed at me like the third time I try to use it...LOL....Dont get me wrong...SOME STUFF Is well made....My Electric FLYSWATTER That I Paid $2.99 for is Still MY preferred Sidearm of the backyard grill area...LOL...But I wouldnt waste a whole lot of time with a plane and/or radio system from harbor freight... at least the time I SPEND with RC is valuble enough....I wanna have stuff that works and is reliable....Spend a few extra bucks and get yourself a Parkzone...or hobbyzone./....If the RTF plane is your cup of tea. and if not...PLEASE Let us know How it flew...or crashes..
    Happy holidays
    DV

  6. #6

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    A few pics of my Harbor Cub landing gear and semi-steerable tail wheel mod. Solid brass with custom balsa wheels! The landing gear is what makes a Cub, IMHO. It also provides a nifty place to anchor the antenna. I use the fishing line mounted at the CG and hanging from the ceiling to trim her out under full throttle.
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  7. #7

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    I have one of those Harbor Freight cubs. Mine says β€œSDM” on the receiver so I guess it is a genuine SDM cub. Mine has a direct drive 370 motor swinging a 7 x 4 prop (if I remember right). Also came with an 8.4v 700 mah , 7-cell NiMh battery pack. The plane was a gift from my father, to see if I was interested in flying RC. I’ll tell you right away, I am not really happy with it.

    First off, I assembled it according to the instructions, made sure the controls worked in the proper orientation, and that the control surfaces were neutral. I did not check the CG because I figured that the since the kit was ARF, the CG would be correct. Boy was I wrong. First flight I hand launched at full throttle, airplane took off, climbed to 20 feet and stalled - fell off on the right wing, went inverted and crashed. Broke the nose off the fuselage. After repairs, I searched the forums on RC Universe, Wattflyer and others web sites for suggestions. Seems others had the same difficulty as I did in that the CG was way aft as assembled out of the box. What was needed was to carve out the foam in the forward battery box bulkhead and push the battery into the nose. Once this was done, the CG fell in the correct range, (from my understanding the CG should be on or about: 1 7/8 in from the leading edge).

    Once I had the CG corrected, the aircraft flew much better. It no longer stalls on launch and can be flown normally. It flies straight and can be trimmed out, but it flies quite fast, and with only 2 axes of control, is quite a handful for a new flyer. Also the battery life on the direct drive motor is only about 5-8 minutes.

    The cub now sits in my garage and I am flying a GWS Slow Stick (much better for a new flyer). Someday when I get to be more adapt on the controls, I will resurrect the cub and fly her again, but first I will replace that underpowered 370 motor with a brushless Lipo combination.

    Sorry to say this, but save your money for a β€œreal” RC plane and radio, you will be many dollars ahead and not have to deal with the frustration that I did.


  8. #8

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    Well, I have the Harbor Cub. Looks cool. Can't get this thing to stay in the air. Any suggestions? It seems way.....underpowered. The hobby zone piper is sooo much easier than this model. Any ideas to get this in the air would be appreciated.

  9. #9

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    radio there are a few mods that will make your plane fly well, but if you realy want good solid performance you will need to convert it to brushless power. The Shun Da cub thread is the best place to go and ask for suggestions as to how to get it flying good. If you have time to read through it there are some good suggestions there.

    couple quick tips, carve out the wall on the forward side of the batt bay so you can move the batt into the area behind the motor, this will correct your CG, the SD cub always comes tail heavy. and it will not stay airborn tailheavy. I used a 9.6 batt rather than the 8.4 that it came with also. you can use a slightly larger prop if you increase your batt size.

    The SD Cub is a great little plane but sadly needs to be modded to become that way, unless it's the geared setup it is a marginal flyer at best in it's stock config

    Good Luck
    AJ
    Well I flew it up there... now how am I supposed to get it down

  10. #10

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    THanks,I'll try to carve out the foam a bit. I already had to replace the motor since I bent the shaft, so this mod doesn't sound too bad. It's a great looking plane,just a bummer it doesn't fly stock. Thanks for the info!

  11. #11

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    Is there a "checklist" on the mods needed to get this cheapo in the air? I don't want to take out too much foam,etc. I don't mind tinkering with this plane in order to get it to fly. Ideas?

  12. #12

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    I don't think we ever actualy created a list of mods per say, but if you will tell exactly what you want it to be capable of we can make a list to custom fit your wants. there are quite a few tricks
    I think the 2 best ones I made after I went BL was to add ailerons and steerable tailwheel
    AJ
    Well I flew it up there... now how am I supposed to get it down

  13. #13

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    Well,for the moment,I just wanna get this thing in the air.I have done 4 repairs already and it has never flown. It cant stay up. I don't know if the motor is too underpowered,center of gravity is off, wrong propeller,etc.It just falls to the gorund when I try to hand launch at full throttle. Very puzzling. Any advice would helpful. Thanks

  14. #14

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    OK couple quick questions and offers to correct each

    when it falls does it tip to one side and spiral in or does it just land after a short almost flight

    how far will it go before it falls

    OK make sure the prop is on correctly, the numbers on the blade need to face the front
    next if it tips and spirals it is 1 of 2 things, 1) it is still tailheavy 2) you are trying to force it into climbing too soon

    on the cub and stock setup you have to let it gain speed from the launch untill it begins to climb on it's own, then gently use elevator input to gain altitude

    take the cord of the wing, from leading edge to trailing edge ad devide that by 3, the CG is 1/3 of the wing cord. I think the CG on the SD is 2 1/4 inches from the LE

    make sure your batt is full charge riht before you fly, a nimh batt looses charge in a short time

    last but not least if your using a 7X4 prop go up to an 8X4, this will give you more thrust, it will make your motor run harder hence heat your batt more and shorten it's life so be carefull how hard you push it.

    I hope this will help
    AJ
    Well I flew it up there... now how am I supposed to get it down

  15. #15

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    when it falls does it tip to one side and spiral in or does it just land after a short almost flight

    how far will it go before it falls
    ** As far as I can hand throw, that's it

    OK make sure the prop is on correctly, the numbers on the blade need to face the front
    ** I will check

    next if it tips and spirals it is 1 of 2 things, 1) it is still tailheavy 2) you are trying to force it into climbing too soon
    ** Haven't gotten into air yet long enough

    on the cub and stock setup you have to let it gain speed from the launch untill it begins to climb on it's own, then gently use elevator input to gain altitude
    ** Got it

    take the cord of the wing, from leading edge to trailing edge ad devide that by 3, the CG is 1/3 of the wing cord. I think the CG on the SD is 2 1/4 inches from the LE
    ** Anypics to demonstrate available?

    make sure your batt is full charge riht before you fly, a nimh batt looses charge in a short time
    **`Okay.

    last but not least if your using a 7X4 prop go up to an 8X4, this will give you more thrust, it will make your motor run harder hence heat your batt more and shorten it's life so be carefull how hard you push it.
    ** This plane was onlyt $50. I have already put in a new 380 motor.Bent the old shaft when I crashed for the 9th time trying to get into air. If I toast a motor, I have a spare, so I don't mind. I'll try 8x4

    I guess I get what I paid for..It's just a cool looking plane and I am dyin' to fly it.




  16. #16

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    OK first thing, the SD Cub is one of the best out there in it's size, I have had 2 and even though I never had a lot of luck with my first one (due to my being a total newby) I did fly it some before destroying it, my second one was great, it had the geared motor setup and flew real good right out of the box, after modding the batt bay to get the CG right. I modded it to brushless power and lipo, added ailerons to the wing and made the tailwheel steerable. it was one of my best flying planes, but I have a hard time with orientation on smaller planes and instead of fighting with keeping up with it I gave it to a freind.
    OK enough RahRahRah

    on the CG I can take a pic showing that later and post for you

    sadly the direct drive motor set up is very underpowered, a geared set up works pretty good and brushless is balistic
    I have found one of the biggest mistakes people make with the cub is trying too hard to make it climb, try this after checking your prop for being the right direction

    OK fresh charge on the batt, now trim the elevator up,,, just a little up, now after giving it full throttle give it a good solid throw with just a tiny tad of up angle, not level, just a tad up, then reframe yourself from pulling back on the stick, let it level out and fly, Don't touch the stick, I know this is hard because you want it to lift but make yourself do it, if it drops and lands then there is a possibilty that your motor is bad

    Oh there is one other mod, Water Break In on the motor, may not help now but wouldn't hurt to do it. this is a simple mod

    Take the prop off and the cowl, now get a big enough glass to let the nose of the plane down into untill the whole motor is submerged, do not go past the firewall or get the ESC wet. now hook up the batt and just barely bump the throttle till it just does turn, wait till the water is real gray and cloudy about 10 to 20 min sometimes, empty and repeat 1 more time, now dry it out real good using a hair dryer set on low, a couple drops of oil on the bushings front and rear and your good to go
    I know sounds crazy but it works
    the water needs to be disilled water, no metals in it
    what this does is curve the brushes to match the armiture and create less arching which intern generates more effeciancy from the motor
    AJ
    Well I flew it up there... now how am I supposed to get it down

  17. #17

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    Well, I had gone to a local hobby shop and they set me up with a 8x4 prop. I actually got it in the air! Of course, I crashed within minutes (too excited that I finally got it flyin). I broke the nose off and chopped the back of the body. After some careful gorilla glue, body back. I had a spare 380 motor, so I replaced (bent the shaft when I crashed). Now I am ready for my next attempt. I will chill on pulling up on the stick and not get too excited this time. Thanks for the advise. I would really like to upgrade to a brushless motor, but it isnt easy to figure out the right combo. I went to a few websites, but they don't explain what you need to upgrade. Thanks for the tips on the Cub. I'll let you know what happens on next flight.

  18. #18

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    Radio, glad to here she flew, now that you have that first real crash out of the way take your time and let her fly. Good luck and just FYI the Shun Da thread is still alive with a few guys that have been there and done that Lots of good tips and advice to be had for the asking
    Just remember slow easy turns, when she is stock it stalls easy and is hard to recover due to the lack of extra power. when you get ready to go brushless say the word and I can help you get there for around 40.00 to include a decent 3S lipo for it and it will fly like a dream with the extra power
    AJ
    Well I flew it up there... now how am I supposed to get it down

  19. #19

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    AJ,

    It's been too "gusty" to fly here.Thanks for the feedback.I can't wait to fly it again (now that it's repaied).
    I am very interested in getting a brushless w/lipo in this thing. What would you recommend? Is there a "how-to"to install.I imagine it can't be that bad.

  20. #20

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    My brother bought the same plane.Then bought a super cub. needless to say, he gave upon his SD and I now have a full set of spare parts!

  21. #21

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    Sounds like a good deal for you extra parts always comes in handy.

    To come up with the right set up there are a couple questions

    1 how do you want it to fly, scale, fast or balistic

    2 do you think you would consider modding it such as steerable tailwheel, ailerons and or trike gear with steerable nose wheel in the future

    3 are you set up for charging lipo's now

    we can come up with a good set up from the answers of those Q's

    I have had mine from both sides of the scale, I had one that was just balistic, it could ROG in less than 3 feet and go totaly vertical from the launch
    then I converted it to a more scale flying but it still had lots of thrust and was pretty fast
    AJ
    Well I flew it up there... now how am I supposed to get it down

  22. #22

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    AJ,

    1 how do you want it to fly, scale, fast or balistic
    I would like it to be quick,but not like a stryker 27 or anything..

    2 do you think you would consider modding it such as steerable tailwheel, ailerons and or trike gear with steerable nose wheel in the future
    Naa,Iwouldn't do that with this particular model.

    3 are you set up for charging lipo's now
    I use 2 cell Lipos for my helicopter. I have a Modified Lama V4.

    I guess I would look for a "middle of the road upgrade"

    Yours sounds really fast. That 380 standard motor just lacks power. I have to fly with 80% > throttle to keep it in the sky.

  23. #23

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    OK then, a good combo would be a 2410-09 outrunner with a 18 amp ESC spinning a 9X4.7 or 9X3.8 prop, a 2S will work here but you realy would want to go with a 3S batt for best performance
    You can buy the motor ESC combo for about 18.00 at a couple sites and pick up a decent 3S batt for about the same at bidproducts.com
    Installing the motor is fairly simple as you just have to build some standoffs or just extend the firwall with some lite ply, you can still use your original cowl with no prob
    the biggest thing is either using a big enough batt or having to add a little weight in the nose to get your CG right
    The difference is night and day once you do go brushless
    AJ
    Well I flew it up there... now how am I supposed to get it down

  24. #24
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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    nice job AJ, the student has become a teacher. Now that's paying it forward.
    Missing Man Formation, Looking heavenward you can't help but shed a tear, mournful, lonesome, a hole that screams out at you.

  25. #25

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    RE: J-3 Cub from Harbor Freight

    Thanks for all of the info. I will see if I can track down the goods and convert this bird. I'll let ya know how it goes.


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