RCU Review: Greg Covey's Amp'd Issue 10: EDF off the Beaten Path


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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: January 2009 | Views: 56705 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

     

     

     

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    Issue 10
    Article By Greg Covey

    Print Issue 10 "EDF Off the Beaten Path"


    In 2008, Electric Ducted Fans (or EDFs) started flooding the market at a faster pace than ever. Mainstream EDF models under 3lbs and 500 watts continued to be released by major distributors. We saw the transition from 50mm to 70mm ducted fans in greater variety and some of the models were even made from fiberglass instead of less expensive foam. Included in this mainstream rush to market new models was a category of Ready-To-Fly (RTF) EDF models that came complete with power system, radio, and battery. Novice EDF enthusiasts, and even novice R/Cers, were all but guaranteed success with their first electric jet model.

    Since mainstream EDF is relatively new, if you are a real jet enthusiast, it doesn't take long until your interest goes off the beaten path. You want a larger

    model with more power or maybe a good building fix. You can't see spending thousands of dollars on an R/C model but you want something between 3lbs and 10lbs with enough power to get noticed or even take-off with functional retracts.

    At this time in the EDF revolution, you have a handful of U.S. distributors selling unique products from around the world. These smaller distributors support a niche part of the market and often represent a company overseas. Some specialty places make their own R/C support products as an offshoot of their main business. The choices for these EDF products range from smaller 50mm (2") ducted fans on up to a more powerful 120mm (5") unit. The prices go up with size and power but new entries in the market are constantly lowering the cost through competition. There are some very innovative and popular designs taking on this smaller portion of the market.

    My focus in this month's issue of AMP'D is to introduce newer EDF enthusiasts that want to advance faster than the current mainstream market allows without breaking the bank. The choices for EDF are both vast and exciting when you start to venture off the beaten path.


    Choices? What Choices?

    Here is a list of some vendors, in alphabetical order, that provide EDF solutions...off the beaten path.

    EDF Power & Efficiency - Thrust vs. Watts

    The general "watts per pound" rule of thumb still applies to EDF which makes it easier to select an appropriate power system based upon the models weight and desired performance. Although individual preferences vary, these numbers are what I use:

    • 150w/lb for Fair EDF performance
    • 200w/lb for Good EDF performance
    • 250w/lb for Great EDF performance
    • 300w/lb (or greater) for Extreme EDF performance

    The WeMoTec Midi Fan pro 90mm ducted fan comes with a dynamically balanced, 6-bladed, glass filled nylon rotor.

    It is conservatively rated for up to 1000 watts input power and a maximum of 35,000 RPMs.

    When using brushless motors and LiPo batteries, you are already starting out with highly efficient components compared to the old days when brushed motors and NiCd cells were used. There are other areas that affect EDF efficiency to a lesser degree. Inrunner motors are more efficient than outrunner motors and not all ducted fan units are equal. The rotor blade count and shape can affect both efficiency and power draw for a given setup.

    The graph on the right was created by Carl Rich. He is the type of hobbyist that has an enthusiastic drive to gather data in a self-less manner that helps the entire hobby. Carl has become a respected source for EDF data and graciously allowed me to display his findings.

    The information displayed on the right shows that not all DFs are created equal. The Wemotec Midi Fan pro 90mm ducted fan has greater thrust than other DFs for a given power level. This means longer run times


    Thrust vs. Watts for 90mm DFs

    and cooler components from the increased efficiency. I have tried all the brands in Carl's graph, as well as others, and found that they also work fine. Sometimes, a different blade count can be a better fit for your choice of motor and cell count. More blades, more cells, and more size all draw more current on a given motor. These parameters, along with the motor Kv (RPMs/volt), will allow you adjust the power system. You may not even care or notice a loss of efficiency in other brands of DFs but if you plan to push the limits, it is good to know that not all DFs are created equal.

     

    Large Foam EDFs


    When you venture off the beaten path, you will find several larger foam models available at a lower cost than fiberglass models of similar size. Versatile foam models allow the builder in you to either use it as is, or treat it simply as a base for glassing and customizing to your own vision.

    One example of a large foam model is the Hayoe F-18 twin EDF kit made by Tak Lee Industrial Company in China. This kit is sold by several U.S. distributors (listed above). It comes with little instruction and many ways to power it.

    This F-18 kit can be powered by twin EDF units, a single larger EDF unit or even a pusher prop setup.

    The EPS foam kit comes in many pieces so there is plenty of work required to complete it. It can be fit with retracts, fixed gear, or nothing but a hook for bungee launching.

    My Hayoe F-18 was finished in a Blue Angles color scheme. It uses two Ammo 28-45-3600 Inrunner Motors with the MPI EPF69BL 5-blade 70mm fans equipped with the EPF69-3 Rotor adapter for 1/8" shaft.

    Using a 4-cell pack like the ThunderPower eXtreme V2 3300mAh (14.8v) LiPo battery, I measured 55 amps at 700 watts on each EDF.

    The maximum constant current rating of the AMMO 28-45-3600 Inrunner Motor is 600w so its not being pushed too hard for 700w bursts. The FlightTech 60A ESC and TP eXtreme V2 packs can easily handle the 55 amp bursts at full throttle. My F-18 was ready to fly at 102oz (6.4lbs) with the two TP V2 3s 3300mAh packs. The combined 70mm EDFs created a 1400 watt power system that provided 219w/lb which allowed the big F-18 to lift at a lower speed than if it had been fitted with retracts and heavier 90mm EDFs or batteries.

    The finished Hayoe F-18 weighed 6.4lbs Ready-To-Fly.

    The F-18 is bungee-launched from a machined foot launcher (detailed below)

    The BAe Hawk is another example of a large foam EDF model. It is one member in a series of Styrofoam EDF jets from FlyFly Hobby. These models are distributed overseas by Hobby88.com or here in the U.S. by Electric Jet Factory (EJF.com).

    If you are not familiar with FlyFly Hobby foam jet models, they are uniquely engineered designs that are made from EPS foam. The large jets are designed for 90mm EDFs and fit together like a precision 3D puzzle piece. They come with the ducted fan unit and fixed landing gear. They can be hand-launched over grass or fitted with optional retracts.

    The BAe Hawk is powered by a single 92mm ducted fan unit that uses a B36-class 1000w brushless motor. The kit comes with the scale aluminum suspension (Oleo strut) landing gear and the fuselage is separated by 4 pieces for easy shipping. The Hawk is designed for both fixed and retractable gear. The fuselage has enough room for high capacity battery packs for longer run time and higher air speed.

     

    My Hawk was powered by the following components listed below. The AMMO 36-56-1800 motor is $20 less than the Typhoon EDF-600-32 motor and has a higher Kv for greater speed. The FlightPower ESC can be hammered hard even in heli applications up to 80-amps and doesn't need a separate BEC for up to a 6s Lipo. However, it is always safest to use an external BEC on most ESCs running a 5s or 6s LiPo pack.

     

    The 5-cell FlightPower pack weighs 21oz compared to the 18oz 6-cell pack. The higher capacity 5-cell pack will provide longer flights but not fly as fast as the 6-cell pack.

    The AMMO motor mounted easily using the 5mm adapter that comes with the Hawk. Note that the motor wires are extended to 23" lengths. This allows the ESC to enter the battery compartment under the canopy for easy access. I tested the completed assembly before mounting it in the fuselage. It ran very smooth with almost no vibration.

    There was plenty of room for my FlightPower 30C 5s and 6s packs. The model balanced well being slightly nose heavy. The battery to ESC connection is easy to make due to the quick canopy release so I removed the On/Off switch and soldered the wires together.

    My FlyFly BAe Hawk was Ready-To-Fly at 83oz (or 5.2lbs) with battery pack. The plane without a pack weighed 62oz. The power level was 775w at 47amps using the 21oz FlightPower EVO30 5s 4500mAh pack and 1200w at 64amps using the 18oz FlightPower EVO30 6s 3200mAh pack.

    We test flew the Hawk in some pretty harsh conditions during the winter. The cold winds gusted from 15-25mph but didn't seem to faze the Hawk on either a 5s or 6s LiPo pack. This plane is an impressive flyer and can easily be hand-launched.

     

     

    Fiberglass EDF Models

    If cost-effective fiberglass models are your preference, then High End Technology RC (or HET) is the place to check out. HET specializes in manufacturing Electric Ducted Fan Jets and accessories such as ducted fans, brushless motors and ESCs.

    HET has many single EDF models to choose from and several twin EDF models like this F-18.

    My HET F-18 uses twin 70mm power systems to create 1400 watts total power very similar to my bigger foam Hayoe F-18. I use the cost-effective ElectriFly AMMO motors as they are less than comparable motors with seemingly equal performance. The FlightPower ESCs can be hammered hard even in heli applications up to 80-amps and don't need a separate BEC for up to a 6s Lipo.

    Here is what I used to power my HET twin 70mm model:

    • Two HET 6904 DFs
    • Two Great Planes AMMO 28-45-3600 motors
    • Two FlightTech 60-amp ESCs
    • Two FlightPower LiPo 14.8V 4s EVO30 3200mAh packs

     

    The V-Pro Mig-15 EDF Jet ARF from Advantage Hobby boasts speeds of over 120mph! The painted fiberglass fuselage comes with the 69mm fan unit and motor pre-installed. The sheeted wing and tail halves are pre-covered, making assembly time quick!

    The model comes with a 7-page construction guide, decals, linkages, hardware, Tamazo DF-69 Fan Unit with mounted brushless motor, and a "sling-shot" starter set.

    The 33" long, pre-painted, single-piece fiberglass fuselage also contains the vertical stabilizer. The sheeted wing halves were rock-solid and perfectly covered. The ARF jet package comes with a minimum amount of parts.

    V-Pro MIG-15 EDF ARF

    Specifications:

    • Length: 33.3"
    • Wingspan: 32.9"
    • Wingarea: 222 sq. in.
    • Flying Weight: 39 - 42 oz.


    The bottom "cheater" holes (shown on left) allow more air into the ducted fan unit for increased thrust.

    The power system was completed with the E-flite (EFLA1060) 60-amp Pro Brushless ESC that has a switching BEC regulator which allows you to operate up to 7 analog or 6

    digital standard-sized servos on any recommended input voltage. No external regulator is needed with the 4-cell LiPo pack. The pre-installed E-flite ESC motor connectors fit the pre-installed Tamazo motor connectors perfectly. It was a simple plug and play solution with no programming needed.

    The FlightPower (EVO2537004S) 25C 4-cell 3700mAh LiPo Pack provides a perfect CG balance of 70mm from the trailing edge at 13oz. The pack can deliver up to 90-amps continuous, if needed, so the 42-amp demand will not stress it even if the entire flight is at full throttle.

    The MIG-15 was Ready-To-Fly at 46.5oz (2.9lbs) including the 13oz FlightPower pack. The power system measured 600 watts at 42-amps for a power level of 207w/lb.

    The Mig-15 flew fantastic! It rolled nicely and flew inverted. It does land at a quick pace until you get some experience with it so a long field is needed. We used 300' to 400' to land.

    Although the Mig-15 flies fantastic, I would only recommend this model to the intermediate to advanced level pilot because it really moves out and can literally disappear in a grey sky. This skill level requirement is typical when you go off the beaten path.

    For a complete review on the MIG-15 from Advantage Hobby, click here.


    The EDF Predator UCAV from Nitro Planes is a large fiberglass jet model with sheeted wings. It comes complete with landing gear, fiberglass canopy, missiles, and all hardware. The model can be powered by a 90mm to 101mm ( 3.5" to 4" ) EDF unit.

    The fiberglass canopy is pre-finished and only needs the latch mechanism attached. The landing gear are fixed with a steerable nose wheel assembly. Two sheets of finishing decals are supplied and the 7-page manual, although sparse, provides sufficient photos and text to complete the model by an experienced assembler.

    Although it is still a work in progress, my planned power system will be a WeMoTec Midi Pro 90mm EDF, a new AMMO 36-88-1280kV Inrunner Brushless motor, Castle Creations HV85 ESC, and an 8s FlightPower LiPo pack. At only $100, the AMMO motor appears to be a great fit for high-powering a low-cost 90mm EDF. On an 8s LiPo supply, it can provide burst power up to 2000 watts at a 74amp burst current. This delivers 6.9lbs of EDF thrust and is within the AMMO 36-88-1280kV Inrunner specifications. One of the fun parts of going off the beaten path is to try new combinations.

      Predator UCAV Power System:
    • WeMoTec WMD0015 Midi Fan PRO for 5mm Shaft Motors
    • Great Planes ElectriFly Ammo 36-88-1280kV Brushless Electric Motor
    • Castle Creations Phoenix HV85 ESC
    • Two FlightPower LiPo 14.8V 4s EVO30 3200mAh packs in series

     

    EDF Launching Methods

    Unless you are fortunate enough to have a paved runway to fly off of, or don't have any smaller sized EDF models, you will need to consider other methods for launching these planes. Some jet designs are surprisingly adaptable and can be modified to take off of grass or even your hand! If hand-launching doesn't work or it is just out of the question, consider a bungee launch system with wheels, dolly, or catapult ramp.


    Don't Fear the Bungee!

    This bungee launcher system is manufactured by MBM Jets and distributed by DuctedFans.com. It is designed to keep the nose of the plane up and off the ground for easy launches. Various cord sizes and lengths can be purchased for planes ranging from 2lbs to 12lbs.

    The bungee pedal release unit is produced by manufacturers like MBM Jets and Wemotec. Both DuctedFans.com and WarbirdsR-C.com distribute the launcher. The spike is built into the bungee pedal release unit making it very easy to setup in the field. The design allows the pilot to launch his own jet.

    I used an old drapery hanger as a tow hook on my big Hayoe F-18. The pull force is distributed by plywood pieces that were epoxied in place just in front of the CG. The foot-release launcher allows me to get all set up at my leisure before the flight begins. I used the 6-8lb cord on my 6.4lb model.

    Bungee Catapult

    This PVC ramp "Bungee Catapult" from ClassicFlyingMachines.com is available as a short kit (90% complete) which saves you both time and money because all the hard work is done. The original launcher, designed by Brian Riddell around 2002, used to be available on the E-Zone (RC Groups) as a construction article.

    Click here to see the Bungee Catapult in action.

    Mini Bungee - The "sling-shot" starter set (shown right) came with the V-Pro MIG-15 ARF and worked perfect every time. It is a great mini-bungee launcher for models up to 3lbs. You pull the bungee back (using the model's tail) as far as it can go and then let the jet go when the motor is up to speed.

    The key to a successful bungee launch is to get as low as possible to the ground and pull the cord back just short of all the way. This technique can be seen several times on the MIG-15 video here.


    Take-off Dolly


    This wireless take-off Dolly was designed to be simple and flexible. I made it from 1-1/4" PVC pipe, three end caps, a "T"-coupling joint, Dubro 3.35" wheels, and gear mains from an old .40-size Skylark pattern plane.

    The Spektrum AR6100 receiver could be bound to another club member's DSM2 transmitter which would then follow the rudder channel for ground steering.

    The Velcro mounting technique allowed others to make their own custom foam base and easily swap it without tools.

    I used a digital servo that could run on 3-12 volts so a regulator was not needed. Both the receiver and digital servo could run directly on a 2-cell LiPo pack.

    The disadvantage of a take-off Dolly is that it needs plenty of plane power to get going. Thick grass provides excessive resistance so it works best on dirt or pavement.




    Hand Toss

    The trick to determining whether you can successfully hand toss a model is by looking at the wing loading, power level, and thickness of the wing (or lift). If an EDF jet model is designed to go over 100mph, you will not likely be able to hand toss it. Smaller designs like the Exceed F/A-18C (above) from Nitro Planes can easily be hand tossed because it weighs only 2lbs and has plenty of power. Larger models like the 5.2lb BAe Hawk (below) from FlyFly Hobby can also be hand tossed because the wing loading is light and the thick wing is designed for lift rather than speed.


    Digital Servoless Retracts

    The Digital Servoless Retract (DSR) system from Sonic Electric is a revolutionary design suitable for R/C models around 4-6lbs. (1.8-2.7kg) The retracts move in a scale speed instead of the fast bang-bang manner that air-powered systems exhibit.

    The DSR system is controlled via a Digital Control Box which plugs into your receiver gear channel. You no longer need an air canister, hand-pump, or controlling servo for your retracts. The new metal arm version comes complete and ready to use!

    This DSR-46C-A retract system comes with a metal arm pre-installed on both the nose and main retracts. The metal arm is made from light weight aluminum alloy which increase the system's maximum loading and impact capability (over the older plastic version) from 7 to 10lbs. In addition to the metal arm version, the nose strut length has been increased and allows for some adjustability. The main struts diameter also has been increased and adjustable in length.

    There are three independent control circuits to detect the status of each retract. An auto cut-off function will be started if a retract is jammed after 20 seconds to avoid draining the current from your Rx battery or BEC. You can use one servo to connect to your rudder and the steerable nose unit. The rudder will act independently while the strut is up because the strut disengages. Nose struts can be turned 360 degrees to suit most airplanes and the shock system is spring loaded.

    The photos on the right show the DSR system installed in a FlyFly F-86 Sabre. A separate Hitec HS-55 servo is used for steering the nose wheel. Although the retract assembly will fit perfectly in the FlyFly model, the lower right photo shows how to distribute the landing forces into the foam with thin plywood pieces. The plywood can also be used to achieve the proper height for the mounted retract. You can watch the DSR system operation in our inverted FlyFly F-86 Sabre here.


    EDF Conversions

    Not all jet models are created equal. Some of the reasons for these differences are due to the unique needs of different power sources. An EDF-powered jet needs more air intake area than its turbine-powered counterpart. The turbine engine also creates tremendous heat so the design must be capable of insulating or deflecting areas that are sensitive to high temperature. A GDF-powered (Glow Ducted Fan) jet needs to be built to handle extra vibration and residue from the fuel oil. It also needs more air intake than turbines.

    This Byron A-4 on the right belongs to Mark Willey of Erie, PA. Mark completely refurbished his A-4 model including a new Byron fan and O.S. 91. They were considered high-end for their time.

    The Byron A-4 above was also originally flown with the O.S. 91 engine shown. The stock 6" diameter fan put out between 10-12 lbs of thrust. This 15-20 year old fiberglass model is now being converted to EDF. One reason that makes this model attractive as an EDF conversion is that they can usually be picked up at auctions for a relatively low cost. The air intake openings for GDF are larger than needed for turbine-powered jets but are a great fit for EDF. The new EDF components weigh less than their original glow-powered counterparts. The engine and fan shown above weigh in at 1.5lbs. When we added the tuned pipe, Rx. battery pack, Byron duct unit, extra servos for throttle and fuel mix change, we eliminated over 3.25lbs not counting the slimy exhaust tube, 24oz fuel tank and 2oz header tank. All in all, we estimate removing about 5lbs for the GDF power system.

    There are many ways to convert glow-powered Byron jets to clean and reliable electric power. Some can even exceed the original performance. One way that is both cost-effective and similar in power to the original glow-powered design is to simply replace the glow engine with an electric motor while keeping the Byron fan unit in place.

    The Byron fan was designed for about 20,000 RPMs using the O.S.91 engine or about 24,000 RPMs with a Hurricane rotor upgrade. The design had plenty of static thrust but lacked on high-end dynamic thrust. Still, the Byron F-16 could approach maximum speeds of up to 120mph which is still respectable today.

    This Scorpion HK-4035-630 outrunner motor is available at Electric Jet Factory. When combined with the FS-ADAPTER1 CNC adapter (shown right), spacer, and spinner, you can easily convert the ICDF Byron Fan to EDF. Power system setups vary based on application using ESC's between 90amp & 110amps on 10s to 12s LiPo setups with a pack capacity of between 5AH and 6.6AH. The result is a clean and reliable electric-powered thrust from 10 to 12lbs.


    Another way to convert a Byron GDF power system to EDF is to completely replace the 6" fan with a more powerful and efficient 5" fan. The E-Turbax fan from Jet Hangar International can be purchased as a fully integrated system or as individual components.

    The E-Turbax fan is a drop-in fit into any aircraft designed for a 120mm (5") glow ducted fan. With the recommended Neu motor (1521/1.5Y or 1524/1.5Y or 1527/1.5Y), Castle Creations Phoenix HV-110 ESC, and 10s to 12s 6AH battery, this setup can provide over 30,000 RPMs at 4500 watts for up to 15lbs of thrust!

    Although still a work in progress, I expect my Byron A-4 to be tearing up the skies in the 2009 flying season.


     

    Summary

    The choices for EDF are both vast and exciting when you start to venture off the beaten path. Newer EDF enthusiasts that want to advance faster than the current mainstream market allows can use the information in this column as a introduction to some of the choices that are available today. The FlyFly F-86 Sabre (on the right) has been re-painted and fitted with the DSR retracts (discussed above) to demonstrate one possible option of many that exist for these larger flexible foam designs. One of the real joys of our hobby is that you can tailor it to fit your own needs and desires.

    High-powered EDFs and Do-It-Yourself conversions aren't for everyone as they can push the limits of today's technology, and your skills, so always keep safety in mind! The on-line world has plenty of experienced members that can help you when needed, but it is usually best to look for a consensus of opinion rather than listening only to the loudest voices.

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

     

    Special thanks for contributions by:
    "Papa Jeff" Ring and Lynn Bowerman

     

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

    Roger H. asks:

    Hi Greg,

    I need some advice as I am very new to electrics. I recently purchased a GWS Tiger Moth 400 and enjoyed reading your review. I purchased a Thunderpower 3-cell LiPo 1300mAh pack as suggested in your review. Here is my question...I have a Triton Jr. charger and while reading the instructions it mentions a cell balancer is required for LiPo batteries. The Electrifly balancer has a certain connector as part of the balancer. Will the Thunderpower connector fit? Is there a pinout diagram somewhere so I can make an adaptor? Is there another comparable priced balancer that would work?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks, Roger

    Greg: Hi Roger,

    The ElectriFly node connector is not compatible with the ThunderPower connector. ElectriFly is compatible with E-flite and ThunderPower is compatible with FlightPower. To allow your Triton Jr. charger to charge/balance your 3-cell Thunderpower pack, you will also need to purchase the Great Planes ElectriFly Equinox LiPo Cell Balancer and the Equinox 3s Adapter to FlightPower.

    To Charge/Balance ElectriFly and E-flite packs or ThunderPower and FlightPower packs, I would also recommend the following chargers and adapters.

    • E-flite (EFLC505) 1-5 Cell LiPo Charger with Balancer
    • E-flite (EFLA229) Adapter Cables for ThunderPower/FlightPower
    • FMA Cellpro (LIPOCH4S04-A123) 4s Charger with Balancer
    • FMA Cellpro (CP-GP/KO) 4s Charger to Great Planes, E-flite, or Kokam Adapter
    • FMA Cellpro (CP4S-TP/PQ4S) 4s Charger to ThunderPower, FlightPower, or PolyQuest Adapter

    Regards.

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

     


    FlyFly F4 PHANTOM-II 90mm DUCTED FAN JET


    E-flite BAe Hawk 15 DF ARF


    F/A-18 Blue Angels single 90mm EDF



    Exceed RC F/A-18C - 70mm EDF Jet 'Ready-to-Fly'

    Print Issue 10 "EDF Off the Beaten Path"

     
    Comments on RCU Review: Greg Covey's Amp'd Issue 10: EDF off the Beaten Path

    Posted by: lilbanchee on 01/20/2009
    Wow, great EDF "tutorial" I guess you could call it.
    Posted by: GATTUSO2170 on 01/24/2010
    great read a+++ very informative. thanks for all the infovery well put together.
    Posted by: ACES&8s on 06/23/2011
    Can you provide an article, to get more informative about control surface throws, the rates/or exponential, and the meaning of large throws? That is to say, what about airloads on control surfaces at higher airspeeds, as with EDF and other (turbine) jets?
    Page: 1

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