RCU Review: Greg Covey's Amp'd Issue 9: The Need for Speed

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: November 2008 | Views: 45986 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

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    Issue 9
    Article By Greg Covey

    Print Issue 9 "The Need for Speed"


    From the moment we start to fly, exhilaration is felt that becomes our addiction to the hobby. As soon as we master our first R/C trainer, we're on to the next level. Our excitement for an ever increasing challenge was what attracted us to this hobby in the first place. Every flight is a different experience and there are no guarantees.


    For some of us, the challenge must remain scale while others focus only on the technology and end result. Today's radio controlled models and advanced technology allow us to choose whatever aspect we are interested in. On occasion, others can inspire us to enter a new aspect of the hobby but it is our own passion deep inside that really keeps it going.

    My focus in this month's issue of AMP'D is to reveal a few fast setups that range in cost and complexity but all with a common goal...to inspire your passion by creating an R/C model that satisfies the need for speed!

    The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (or FAI) is the world governing body for air sports and aeronautical world records. Founded in 1905, it is a non-governmental and non-profit making international organization with the basic aim of furthering aeronautical and astronautical activities worldwide. FAI activities include the establishment of rules for the control and certification of world aeronautical and astronautical records. FAI establishes regulations for air sporting events which are organized by member countries throughout the world. FAI also promotes skill, proficiency and safety in aeronautics. The US participation in World Championship events is under the auspices of the FAI and uses the rules put forth in the FAI Sporting Code. For more information on FAI-based competitions in the U.S., read the AMA's Competition and Technical FAQ.

    Aeromodeling is just one of the many air sport disciplines (or classes) covered by the FAI. In this sub-set of disciplines, various types of aeromodeling are included such as Free Flight, Control Line, RC Flight, Electric Flight, and many more. Some of the more familiar disciplines we see in our hobby are listed below.

    • F1A (Gliders)
    • F1D (Indoor Model Aircraft)
    • F2A (Speed Model Aircraft)
    • F2B (Aerobatic Model Aircraft)
    • F2D (Combat Model Aircraft)
    • F3A (Aerobatic Power Model Aircraft)
    • F3B (Thermal Soaring Gliders)
    • F3C (Precision Model Helicopter)
    • F3D (Pylon Racers)
    • F3K (Hand Launch Gliders)
    • F4B (Control Line Flying Scale Model Aircraft)
    • F4C (Radio Controlled Flying Scale Model Aircraft)
    • F5B (Motor Gliders)
    • F5D (Pylon Racers)


    About 6 years ago, I first saw Steve Neu demo his Surprise 9 at the 2002 NEAT Fair. While I had little interest in the skeleton-like motor glider, Steve revealed a power level that I had never seen before in such a light low-drag plane. Recently, I was impressed by another Surprise 9 demo from Frank Fontana at the 2008 NEAT Fair. Like Steve Neu's plane, it had the fastest acceleration I have ever seen! RCU's Matt Kirsch captured Frank's demo flight on RCU Videos here.
    While the goal of F5B is not in measuring speed, it is certainly one of its assets. Basically the pilot stands at a designated point and is allowed to climb 10 times in the F5B course to get as many laps as possible around two pylons. Once you pass the first base on the return leg you are considered out of the course and can run the motor. The idea is to get back into the course as quickly as possible but to also build up enough speed with the climb to maximize the number of legs where a lap is considered two legs. Part of the leg contains a thermal duration.
    After the distance task you climb to altitude to start the thermal portion of the competition which can be anywhere from 5-10 minutes. You can use your motor to climb as much as you want but you are penalized a point for every second of motor run time. The last task is landing at whatever the thermal task duration was set to for the competition. Every second under this time, a point is subtracted. Landing zones, like 10, 20 and 30 meter circles, are used to score more points as you strive for the center.

    F5B competition is a combination of piloting skill, high-end aeromodeling technology, and experience. Even if you don't compete, it will definitely satisfy your need for speed!

    Sport Motor Gliders

    For those pilots that do not wish to compete or want a model that does not have such extreme performance, there is a wide variety of sport motor gliders available. SoaringUSA.com has models in various sizes, materials, and price ranges.

    The Ion 2006 (or Ion Warmliner) on the left is a 79" wingspan model designed by 5-time world Champion Rudi Freudenthaler.

    The Ion 2006 has 528 sq.in. of wing area, a MH30 airfoil, and flies at around 55 oz. It can fly at high speeds just over 100mph, has great thermalling capability, and is very easy to fly. This type of model can climb quickly to 500 feet at around 1900 feet per minute. You can then either soar on thermals for hours or roll into a Split-S and do a 100mph fly-by.

    The Ion Warmliner can be powered by a range of systems that vary in cost and performance. An AXI 2820/10 motor, Jeti 40-amp ESC, and 3-cell (20C) 3200mAh Lipo pack provide the 420 watts at 39 amps shown in the video on the right. This 152w/lb system also uses a Graupner CFK 12x7 folding prop.

    For even higher performance, the Neu 1509/1.5D/6.7 motor with a FlightTech 80-amp brushless ESC controller on a 30C EVO30 3s 4500mAh FlightPower pack will triple the power!

    Ion Warmliner Video (6.8meg)


    Multiplex Cularis

    The Multiplex Cularis can get you into sport motor gliders with minimal cost, reduced effort, and a lower risk of breakage thanks to the robust ELAPOR Foam construction.

    With a flying weight around 3-1/2 lbs, this full-house model with ailerons, flaps for full trailing edge camber and reflex, plus CROW capability for accurate landings is a great choice for more relaxed fun.

    Powered by a Himax 3522-0990 outrunner motor, 13x8 folding prop, FlightTech 60A Brushless ESC, and a EVO25 3s 2500mAh FlightPower pack, the Cularis has 134 w/lb.

    Multiplex Cularis Video (6meg)

    Scale Speed

    F5D Pylon Racers

    Lil Toni Cosmic Racer

    The Little Toni is known as one of the famous Formula 1 racers of the 1940's. Sleek, and slender, this little racer is a champion on looks and in the air. Better known as the Cosmic Wind, there were three variants - The Little Toni, Minnow and Ballerina.

    The "Cosmic Wind" series of racers were developed and built by Tony Levier and associates for entry in the Good Year trophy races of the late 1940´s. Due to their excellence in construction and design they have continued to be flown in races both in England and the United States since then.

    We recently clocked my Great Planes Lil Toni Pylon Racer at 197mph off a dive across the flying field using a Garmin Fortrex 101 GPS receiver inside the fuselage. These Garmin GPS devices are very accurate and the top speed was likely at the beginning of a pass just after leveling off from a dive with the aid of 10mph wind. In any case, it is impressive speed for this ARF model using off-the-shelf components. I measured 104amps at 2200 watts static which provides a whooping 244w/lb.! Since I expect 10%-14% unloading in the air, the full throttle current is likely only 90-amps.
    Power System:
    • 27.5% scale (IMAA legal)
    • Fiberglass fuselage
    • Balsa and plywood, one piece wing
    • Wingspan: 63" (1600mm)
    • Length: 56.5" (1435mm)
    • Weight: 8.5lbs.

    Watch the videos below as Team JR's, Devin McGrath, puts the Lil Toni through some high speed passes and pylon turns that really show just how well this Great Planes ARF was put together. The second video is courtesy of RCU's Matt Kirsch from the 2008 NEAT Fair. The Garmin GPS unit installed in the plane indicated only 144mph in the thick humid air with no breeze.

    Lil Toni Speed Video (16meg)

    Lil Toni Demo Video (NEAT 2008)

    Scale Speed - BVM Style

    When I grow up and make lots of money, I want a BVM Electra Jet powered by a factory-assembled and test run Viofan. Bob Violet Models or BVMjets.com is the place to go for extreme EDF. The Electra Jet provides top of the line EDF performance with speeds greater than 150mph.

    Not only is the Electra available now in ARF form, it comes in many different color schemes. BVM Jets is also planning a new release of an EDF F-86 Sabre Jet ARF model.

    Although the Electra Jet was not designed solely for speed, you can see that it recorded a 211mph pass on Bob's Speed Run page.

    The BVM Electric VioFan uses a Neu 1521 motor, Castle Creations HV110 ESC, and FlightPower EVO 30C 12s2p 6400mAh batteries to exceed 200mph!

    The research and dedication that Bob has put into EDF technology has given him the reputation as a master of quality, precision, and detail. All the BVM products come with excellent instruction and photos. His use of quality matched batteries like the Flight Power 30C Saddle Cells and attention to details like maximum cell temperature, flight times, charging techniques and cycles all help insure that your investment lasts as long as possible.

    I have found his "Success with Lipo Batteries" page with links to Chris True's "Battery Basics" to both be excellent reads.


    Non-Scale Speed


    RiteWingRC is dedicated to creating the exhilaratingly fast R/C wings. The founder of RiteWingRC, Chris Klick, is obsessed with his continuing quest to build the fastest and most durable wings. With every wing he builds, he keeps trying to perfect the process and find new ways to make the aircraft lighter, stronger, and faster.

    The Ritewing Demon 40 high-performance wing is designed for higher speed and larger power plants. The Demon 40 is the fastest Ritewing achieving speeds up to 180mph. It is designed to be a high speed aircraft trainer and includes a comprehensive build video. This highly agile wing is the fastest of the Ritewings and has been flown on 3s to 7s lipo setups.

    ProJeti Electric Jet Wing

    The ProJeti Electric Jet Wing has a 32" wingspan and is distributed in the U.S. by Hobby Lobby International. The foam parts don't need finishing as the self-adhesive decals provide both a colorful finish and added strength to the structure. The small wing is easy to build and comes with excellent instructions. Recesses for the elevon servos are molded in as are the balancing point tabs. The ProJeti delivers incredible jet-like speed and arrow-straight tracking through huge loops or around pylons.

    Many years ago, my first ProJeti flew on a Speed 400 motor and an 8-cell NiCd pack. Since then, I have gone through several ProJetis and many different power system upgrades as technology advanced.

    My latest ProJeti hop-up uses the Mega 16/15/3 brushless motor, Graupner 5.5x4.5 CAM Speed prop, FlightTech 60A Brushless ESC and a 30C EVO30 3s 3200mAh FlightPower pack. Since the full throttle draw is around 50 amps, there is little voltage drop in the the 30C FlightPower pack. Further, the 60-amp ESC can handle up to 80-amps burst current so there is no cut-off due to over-heating.

    This little wing was too small to fit our Garmin GPS device but it looked even faster than the Lil Toni racer. You can check it out yourself in the video below where the ProJeti is flown by Team JR's Devin McGrath.

    ProJeti Speed Video (6meg)



    Some of us like to compete in FAI events while others simply fly for fun or thrill. Whether you are a scale aficionado or just a speed freak, the choices made available by today's R/C technology can keep us all challenged in this great hobby.

    This month's issue of AMP'D revealed a few fast setups that range in cost and complexity. My goal here was to inspire your R/C passion by showing just a fraction of the possibilities that may satisfy your need for speed!

    When you fly electric, fly clean, fly quiet, and fly safe!


    Special thanks for contributions by:
    "Papa Jeff" Ring, Paul Weigand, Devin McGrath, and Matt Kirsch


    This section of AMP'D covers some of the comments that our readers have sent in and I thought would be interesting for others.


    Finally read your most recent column on scale detail. I suspect you know about this site listed below, but just in case, take a look. Click on the plane and it will show you the cockpit! Special Cockpit Edition

    Bob Aberle

    Greg: Hi Bob,

    Awesome site! Code One Magazine is a quarterly publication of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company. The Special Cockpit Edition is a great source for any scale enthusiast.

    Thanks for sharing...

    Submit feedback by e-mailing me at greg@rcuniverse.com


    This section of AMP'D covers some of the questions that our readers have sent in and I thought would be interesting for others.

    Paul Rogers of Honolulu asks:

    Hi Greg,

    I've read your VTOL Part 1. and am really enthused. What a project!

    I remember another VTOL that I think was in the RCM modeler magazine that used a gas powered ducted fan on a servo / gyro controlled swivel. in a twin tailed model with a wingspan of about 70 inches. I never heard that anyone ever built one or that anyone was every able to fly it if they did build it.

    Your magistar is a far better project taking advantage of ten years in technology and electric power. The gyros help solve the problem of attitude and drift. The distributor says the kit is out of production. I don't know if it will ever be back in the stores, but it might be possible to order enough parts to be able to follow your lead. If not, I think I could probably find another ARF (whether it is as good for the purpose is another question.) (Something like a Falcon 56 - just a good basic airplane. But the Falcon is wood, not EPP and EPP is more economical in the long haul - especially while trying to get the idea to fly reliably.)

    Has Part II and or later ever been published? Where might I find the article?

    Question or two. Why couldn't or wouldn't one be able to use an electric motor and prop at the nose of the airplane at a low power settings to control pitch and yaw using the deflected forces from the elevator and rudder?

    How did using the aluminum tube work out? Could one epoxy two carbon tubes (one inside the other? or is that too much weight? Should one use bearings at the swivel points and servo control in the center section rather than light ply or aircraft plywood?

    Was your final choice of all gyros Futaba? And a total of how many? two or three? You're satisfied with the Futaba 9C radio? My understanding is the (9C is/will be replaced with a series 10 channel on 2.4 GHz FASST.

    Judging from your comments towards the end of part one, the power combination selected is at least satisfactory. Would you power it differently? I'm no expert on electric power but I think a "watt" is a "watt" and if you need a given amount of power to lift something, then it is going to take that many watts to lift it. The choices come to selecting efficient use of the "watts" and not loosing power to poor bearings, wire resistance, heat or in-balances.

    I suspect you're a busy person. If you can find time for a short answer I'd be appreciative.

    Most Sincerely,

    Paul F. Rogers AMA 36894
    Honolulu, HI

    Greg: Hi Paul,

    I'm glad you enjoyed my article and share an enthusiasm for VTOL projects. The Multiplex Magister is being replaced by the Mentor. The Mentor is similar in size but weighs 10oz less than the Magister. It is a tail-dragger and has design improvements in the motor mount area (for stock single motor flying). Multiplex and Tower Hobbies still have a stock of the Ready-To-Fly Magisters but parts are becoming no longer available. I haven't decided yet if I will switch over to a Mentor for my VTOL project but you can look for my review of the Mentor on RCU soon for more details.

    Project VTOL - Part II has not been published yet as it is a work in progress. Due to limited free time and many other R/C obligations, the project has slowed quite a bit. I have recently replaced the tail pitch control motor with a VPP V-Pitch setup from Great Planes. This upgrade has improved my hovering control.

    A pitch control motor in the nose may work but it will need to create plenty of forward thrust to be effective. My aluminum tube is working great and I see no need for bearings; but they can't hurt. One of the goals stated in the opening paragraph was to keep it simple and repeatable by others...until I prove a need to upgrade.

    The Futaba gyro was the only good one I can find that doesn't require an extra channel for gain control or mode switching to rate mode. The 9C transmitter is all filled up with channels and mixes so any further needs will force the use of another transmitter. I am currently using the Futaba 9-channel PCM receiver but discovered that the 9th channel is only On/Off, not proportional like I had wished.

    The power system looks good. My only change there may be to use a bigger 3-cell Lipo pack. Perhaps a 6000-7000mAh pack instead of my existing 5000mAh pack.


    Multiplex Mentor

    Ask questions by e-mailing me at greg@rcuniverse.com


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    HS-5065MG High Performance Digital Micro Servo

    FlightPower EVO30 Series
    Extreme power for EDF and heli models. 3C Fast Charge approved. 30C continuous discharge, 60C burst discharge.

    E-flite BAe Hawk 15 DF ARF

    Print Issue 9 "The Need for Speed"

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