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Kickin' it old school with a Tower Vista BL ARF

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Old 11-25-2015, 03:41 PM
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Sportflyr
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Default Kickin' it old school with a Tower Vista BL ARF

First off...LOVE IT! This my return to flying after close to 4 years. Made a move from FL to Sedgwick, ME about three years ago and the flying environment here is treacherous this time of year! Beautiful sites, but cold and turbulent air at least for this FL guy. This is my first sailplane and I had absolutely no problem flying it once proper trim was set. First flight was like a rocket assisted takeoff on half throttle. Looks gorgeous in the air and the supplied BL motor and esc are well paired to the model.

The only issue I had with this model was my ESC being wired backwards. Blew everything off the friggin walls when I gave it juice for the first time...calendars, tools, pictures etc.. Easy enough fix. Exchange two of three wire rule in this case they are the two outside wires. ESC was just flipped over basically. Oh and the steel 4-40 pushrods which are a little overkill and my antennae caused a tail-heavy situation which required almost 1.5 oz of lead to the nose to balance on recommended CG.

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Old 11-25-2015, 03:55 PM
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When I said "old school" I meant old school which in this case was a huge selling point to me. Classic balsa and ply construction and only 3 channels. To add to the effect I opted for older 72Mhz equipment. I am fairly certain that my choice in servos added to the tail heavy situation too. I used a couple standard Futaba S3151 Sport Digitals for the tail feathers which work awesome albeit a little heavy. Wasn't sure about the RF environment so I went PCM on this. Again, Full-Sized! There is a ton of room for it too.

Rudder is VERY effective and can be set for some impressive spins for a 3channel sailplane.

Like I said, love this thing. Flies like a dream, penetrates winds amazingly and just doesn't want to land...ever! Something I had to get used too from flying club-sized glow models.

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Last edited by Sportflyr; 11-25-2015 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 11-25-2015, 04:11 PM
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Second time up. Different part of blueberry field.
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Old 11-26-2015, 08:51 AM
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I'm glad to see somebody having fun with a Vista BL. I have one ready to go, just haven't had time to maiden it yet. Over on RCG several guys have said bad things about the stock motor/esc. I guess time will tell.

For what I paid Tower with all the discounts, even if I did just buy a good airframe I'll be happy.

Roy
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Old 12-06-2015, 07:07 AM
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Excellent value for about $115. Yeah, Tower's price is $129 right now, but the coupon I could use was $30 iirc and I got two. I'm teaching a guy to fly who has a junker and I got one for him and one for another flying buddy to whom I owe a debt.

I put one of them together the day it was delivered. It's closer to being ARF than any other ARF I ever bought. Even re-ironed it that day.

The maiden flight was 2 days after it was delivered. First "maiden" was a simple glide to trim. Motor wasn't even armed. It's a glider after all.

Then the maiden: Launched level and rolled the motor in. The trim was already close, very close to true thanks to the power off glide. Gliders are the lowest stress models we got. And then....

Climbed to about 100'. Saw that it takes a little "down" stick for the climb, amount depending on what amount of throttle you're holding. Did a couple of landing pattern circuits to verify the trims. Noticed I was still at 100'. !!! OK, it's a 50F day and zero clouds, so I wasn't expecting booming lift. In fact, wasn't expecting much lift at all, maybe none. So I paid closer attention while going around the field's power circuit (there was a fuel plane up there with me). Noticed a wing tip bump and turned into it. There was some lift, lame but usable. Turned out it wasn't very wide, but the model was climbing even when circled tight. Got to about 300-400' and lost it. Moved away from the field so the power flyer had room, and found a bit more lift on the way out. The maiden turned out to be maybe 20 minutes with two 5 minute stretches of "thermal" in it. Now that's a good beginning to what promises to be a good life for that model. I decided to give the student pilot the Tower Hobbies link instead of passing the plane on to him. That was Friday. Couldn't fly yesterday, but in about 2-3 hours..... hehehehe...... we got the same conditions today as Friday.

It's a hell of a value. Motor, ESC and real decent airframe. Hinged, horned, and honestly almost ARF.
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Old 12-06-2015, 07:30 AM
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It's a major positive for sure, but there were a couple of things that missed the boat. Easy fixes however.

There is a minor problem with having 4 large holes in the bottom of a glider. I don't know many who fly them off of ice. Off of everything else is going to have some of that "everything else" throw bits and pieces of everything up into the fuselage through those holes every landing. And those holes have a tendency to hook on stuff that sticks up from the earth when landing. I fly at 3 different sites and every one fills wheel pants with abandon. I don't need them to adjust the balance toward tail heavy, nor expose the electric innards to damp grass you're trying to dump out. And off field landings suck thanks to the crops, bushes, sticks, etc that define "off field".

Ironing a patch of UltraCote over the holes is the simplest remedy for the holes. Putting one hole just aft of the rear rubber band peg is enough. If you don't like a hole in the rear deck, put a couple aft and slightly down behind the rear peg. Want it to actually improve things? Make a simple fairing for any holes you add. The fairing will then suck the heat out. Those 4 holes actually may trap the warm air inside with the cool flow going by outside. Cool moves warm quite easily. Warm can't move cool at all until it builds up enough force. Those holes suggest the designer doesn't fly gliders that land on their bellies, and doesn't know much about exhaust.

Also, placing a bulkhead between the rear of the motor (where the turning shaft sticks out) and where the end of your LiPo pack is going to ride takes about 4 minutes to do. Velcro is great stuff, but even great stuff sometimes fails. 3rd flight had some inverted flight and a couple of rolls in it. That's when I remembered the Velcro wasn't exactly aligned (if at all) in the new plane for the old packs.
We don't always get things right when aligning Velcro and such. I don't.

BTW, be careful ironing. Turns out the red and blue trim isn't iron on covering. It's paint. And the red melts about the iron setting that works best for tightening the covering under the paint.

It's one heck of a good buy.

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Old 12-06-2015, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by skyhawk172n View Post
I'm glad to see somebody having fun with a Vista BL. I have one ready to go, just haven't had time to maiden it yet. Over on RCG several guys have said bad things about the stock motor/esc. I guess time will tell.

For what I paid Tower with all the discounts, even if I did just buy a good airframe I'll be happy.

Roy
Over on where?

It's a non-branded motor, and from what you can see of the ESC it's in a plain black wrapper (heat shrink). Experience with all the cheap Chinese knockoff stuff shows the failure rate for such things often costs more than you'll ever save.

That said, I've never had a minute's delay getting replacements from Tower. And in fact, the included motor is 35-35-1000. For less than $20 more the Rimfire .15 is a 35-36-1200. And the included ESC replacement has no info other than it's 30A and $39. I've been using a couple of Hitec 50A ESCs that cost $1 more. And they came with full specs. Which mentions they can run from 2S to 6S.

The guys who talked about blowing those OEM parts were very quiet about what batteries they were using. Hmmmmmmm I think one of them even said Tower had brushed him off.... lol... really.
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Old 12-07-2015, 02:38 PM
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Not sure whether RCU will let you say RCGroups or not, but there it went. They may be the same posters on both forums, I'm not sure.

Anyway, I still haven't flown mine, in spite of having some great weather recently. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who thought the Vista BL is a good deal.

Roy
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Old 02-22-2016, 09:03 AM
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I FINALLY got to maiden my Vista BL, and sure enough, I had serious motor issues. Took a while to figure out, but it has 2 setscrews holding the propshaft in the motor, and they loosened enough to let the shaft free after about 45 seconds total run time. The shaft didn't have time to depart the aircraft, I shut it down very quickly when the noise occurred.

On the good side, I called Tower (before I found the loose setscrews) and had a new motor and spinner/prop in just a couple days. Called them back when I DID find the screws, but they said just keep the stuff. Do I have to say another 30+year Tower customer happy with their customer service and product support folks?

Maybe this rain will move out and I'll get to re-maiden the Vista and see how it really flies soon.

Roy
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Old 06-21-2018, 10:10 PM
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Got it pretty nose heavy for beach flyin'. Live in Cape Canaveral , FL and it flies like a gull on the beach. Probably have about 70 hrs on this airframe and I can perform a nice tumble on high rate as well as limited inverted flight. The rudder and wing is very well designed. Gentle Lady???
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