RCU Review: Great Planes Edge 540T - EP


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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: February 2009 | Views: 80027 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Great Planes Edge 540T

    Review by: Greg Covey
    Assembly Photos: Greg Covey
    Flying Photos: "Papa Jeff" Ring
    Aerobatic Pilot: Lynn Bowerman
    3D Video Pilot:
    Mr. Quick Thumbs


    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Telephone: 800-637-7660
    Telephone: 217-398-3630

    Web: www.greatplanes.com
    E-mail: gpinfo@gpmd.com



    Complete Kit with hardware
    Easy to build with an excellent manual
    Superb Flying Performance and great looks
    Durable Firberglass and carbon parts
    Removeable Wings
    Matched Power Set

    Some Soldering Required
    for external BEC
    Great Planes ElectriFly Edge 540T

    Great Planes has introduced a new E-Performance XLC (Extreme Light Concept) Series that features advanced ElectriFly engineering and pre-fabrication. The new Edge 540T is the first model in the E-Performance Series. This 50" class electric-powered scale model is slightly smaller than traditional .40-size glow-powered models but boasts many sophisticated features that discriminating pilots look for in an aerobatic ARF. The Edge 540T is the new pinnacle in mid-sized electric aerobats!

    Specifications:

    • Wingspan: 49.5" (1260mm)
    • Wing Area: 490 sq in (31.6 sq dm)
    • Weight: 3.25 - 3.5lb (1470 - 1590g)
    • Airfoil: Fully symmetrical, mid wing placement
    • Wing Loading: 15 - 16oz/sq ft (46 - 49g/sq dm)
    • Length: 48" (1220mm)
    • Center of Gravity: 2-13/16" (71mm) back from the leading edge of the wing at the side of the fuselage

    Key Features:

    • Construction: Balsa and ply with prehinged ailerons and rudder and airfoiled control surfaces, motor box pre-installed with blind nuts providing perfect spacing for spinner backplate - no need for measuring; cowl ring also preinstalled
    • Wings: Two piece with carbon fiber wing joiner
    • Covering: Top Flite MonoKote
    • Aileron Control: Dual servo
    • Cowl, Wheel Pants, and Landing Gear: All Pre-painted fiberglass
    • Wheels and Plastic Spinner Included
    • All Hardware Included
    • Building Time: Approximately 6-8 hours
    • Warranty: Great Planes Model Manufacturing Company guarantees this kit to be free from defects in both materials and workmanship at date of purchase.
    ARF Contents:

    The Edge 540T came well packaged and had no damage or covering wrinkles. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers were both airfoiled control surfaces. The ailerons and rudder were pre-hinged. The cowl was pre-painted and came with air-cooling openings.

    The fiberglass wheel pants had self-aligning holes to match the fiberglass landing gear. The wing tube joiner is made from carbon fiber material. It aligns the wing automatically and allows for easy transport to the field. A 24-page instruction manual comes loaded with photos and details to help insure a successful assembly.

    It wasn't until I lifted the fuselage that I noticed something very different. It weighed almost nothing yet was incredibly strong! I then saw the carbon bars infused with the balsa and light plywood. I had only seen this type of construction once before and immediately knew this new design was something special. I twisted the fuselage and applied pressure in many directions but there was no give and no creaking noise.

    Not only was the one-piece canopy held by powerful magnets but so was the light-weight fiberglass cowl. This gave the Edge 540T a very clean and quality appearance!

    The motor box is pre-installed with blind nuts, providing perfect spacing for the spinner backplate without the need for any measuring. Even the proper thrust angle was already built into the firewall.

    Powerful magnets keep the one-piece vacuum-formed canopy/turtledeck securely in place. Front and rear guides provide automatic alignment. Removing the canopy provides easy access to the battery compartment which is roomy enough for 4-cell Lipo packs.

    The included stock self-aligning wheel pants and landing gear legs are made of lightweight fiberglass. Low profile axles eliminate bulky bolts and give the wheel pants a super-clean look. For even more style and lighter weight, carbon fiber wheel pants (GPMA3320) and landing gear (GPMA3319) are available separately!

    Power System:

    The recommended power system components are as follows:

    • Great Planes Rimfire 42-50-800 Out-Runner Brushless motor
    • Great Planes Silver Series 45A Brushless ESC
    • Great Planes ElectriFly LiPo 14.8V 2100mAh 20C Power Pack
    • APC 12x6 e-prop
    • Futaba S3115 Micro Precision Servos

    The Deans Ultra connectors are already installed as are the motor to ESC connectors. No soldering would normally be required for sport flying.

    I talked with Great Planes about the need for servo power and they recommended using an external BEC on this application, like CC BEC, due to the 4-cell/4-servo combination. They said while the 45A ESC BEC should work ok, it is not optimal if you plan to fly 3D.

    Since I am now going to use a CC BEC, I want to crank it up to 6v so I will now use some Futaba digital servos because my Futaba S3115 Micro Precision Servos are not rated for 6v. The S3115 servos may work fine on 6v but there is no guarantee for their longevity.

    Assembly:

    The assembly starts by installing the aileron servos. My Futaba S3115 Micro Precision Servos fit perfectly. Two retaining plates are supplied in the kit for every servo and are used in place of the rubber grommet and brass eyelet. The plates hold the servo securely flush to the surface so that they cannot wobble.

    The manual has excellent assembly photos and instruction. All the hardware was supplied including the silicone clevis retainers.

    Landing Gear:

    The main landing gear installed easy and all the hardware was supplied. I did have to open up one of the wheel pants so it could properly lay flat against the mains. This was easily done with a razor knife on the fiberglass pant opening.

    I weighed the fiberglass gear mains and they are less than 1/4 pound. They are solid, seem to work well, and look great! I am not certain what the optional carbon fiber gear and pants weigh.

    The tail gear uses a nylon bushing to swing the wire on and a metal bracket and wheel collar to hold it in place. The key here is to align the metal bracket properly before drilling the holes to secure it. The assembly is light yet sturdy. I used medium CA to glue the nylon anchor and post.

    Wing:

    The wing halves are installed next using the carbon fiber wing joiner and black nylon thumbscrews. The guide pins provide perfect alignment and the seam along the fuselage side was perfectly sealed.

    Tail:

    The horizontal stabilizer is glued in place first along with inserting the elevator joiner rod at this time. The covering is removed from both top and bottom sides of the stabilizer after marking it along the fuselage once properly aligned.

    The elevator installation is a combination of epoxy on the joiner rod and thin CA on the hinges. The hinges have been updated from the manual description to 3 larger pre-cut pieces of hinge material for each half. I had no problem with the installation and the alignment was perfect.

    Motor:

    The RimFire motor comes with the x-mount already installed so you only need to attach the prop adapter using the supplied screws. The Edge 540T is designed for the RimFire 42-50-800 outrunner motor so it simply screws onto the motor box using 4 screws supplied in the kit.

    Instead of using the supplied hook and loop material to mount the ESC, I used two tie-wraps.

    Linkages:

    I used the Futaba S3150 Slim Digital Servos on the rudder and elevator. The extra torque and precision of the S3150 servos comes with an extra cost. Since they are not rated for 6v either, I will likely program my CC BEC for 5.5v to half the difference between 5v and 6v operation.

    I used the outside hole on the longer servo arm and second hole from the base of the nylon control horn as recommended in the manual to achieve a +- 45 degree swing in the elevator.

    The pull-pull rudder assembly is used when the design cannot tolerate additional weight in the tail (for proper balancing) and for precise aerobatic control. Other designs put the rudder servo in the tail with a short strong control linkage. Both ways work great so I am using the pull-pull installation because the Edge 540T will balance perfectly using the recommended RimFire motor.

    The only change I made from the manual instructions was to eliminate those tiny metal crimps. Since the pull-pull "cable" is really reinforced string, the crimps are not needed as you can more easily tie a knot in the string and secure it with a small dab of CA.

    On the inside fuselage photo, you can see where I installed the first crimp before I decided it was too much work. After the lines are all connected and tightened, unscrew the nut and add some thread locker to the rigging coupler threads and tighten the nut back up.

    Component Locations:

    Shown here are the general locations for my components. I added the CC BEC which required soldering the leads to the Dean's connector on the ESC. I programmed my voltage for 5.5v using the CastleLINK USB Interface Adapter. I also needed to move the ESC aft so that it was easier to plug into the battery. The Futaba FASST (R617FS) receiver was secured to the bottom of the fuselage using double-sided servo tape.

    The pack position in the photo gives me a balance around 77mm which is about as far back as they recommend. By moving the pack forward about an inch (2" forward was available), my Edge 540T balances at the recommended 71mm. Keep in mind that where you like your CG, within reasonable limits, is a personal preference. For 3D flying, we generally keep it further aft and have all the control surfaces swing about 45 degrees (minimum) in either direction.

    Spinner:

    The spinner backplate and APC 12x6 e-prop were drilled out with a 5/16" bit to fit on the motor shaft. I had no installation issues although the backplate ended up quite close to the cowl. I used the recommendation in the manual for taping the cowl you if plan on "performing violent maneuvers". Initial motor testing showed no excessive vibration.

    Ready-To-Fly:

    My Edge 540T was Ready-To-Fly at 53.3oz (3.3lbs) including the 8.3oz 4s LiPo
    pack.

    I measured 510 watts at 35amps using the APC 12x6 e-prop which will provide 154w/lb. This is just about perfect for 3D flying!

    Test Flying

    Our first opportunity to test fly the Edge 540T came on a weekend in the winter. Even though my 3D pilot was not available, and the winds were 15-25mph, we decided to give it a tough maiden flight on the frozen tundra in upstate NY. The pilot, Lynn Bowerman, did a good job controlling the Edge 540T in the wind, using the low rates, performing an aerobatic routine. We decided to abort the ground take-off in the snow so I hand-tossed it instead. The 30% exponential in the low rates needed to be increased to 50%. Even on low rates, the Edge 540T was very responsive. In the high wind conditions of our initial test flight, the sturdy design of the Edge 540T did not even creak and it flew great!

    We used the recommend 3D setup on low rates with the 12x6 e-prop and 4-cell 2100mAh pack.

    Edge540T Maiden Flight Video (16meg)

    3D Flying

    Edge 540T 3D Flight Video
    CLICK HERE (16meg)

    Our opportunity to test the Edge 540T for 3D flying came on a relatively calm but cold day. The winds were about 5mph and the temperature about 20 degrees F. We used the recommend 3D setup on high rates with the 12x6 e-prop and 4-cell 2100mAh pack. I put the pack up further after my last pilot said it was a bit tail heavy, but after the 3D flight, we decided that it was fine where I show it in the earlier photo in the "Component Locations" section.

    In short, there wasn't anything that the Edge 540T didn't do well. The power level was good, and the sturdy yet light design allowed the Edge 540T to perform perfectly...even in the cold!


    Summary

    The Great Planes ElectriFly Edge 540T is the first model in the new E-Performance XLC (Extreme Light Concept) Series that features advanced ElectriFly engineering and pre-fabrication. It weighs almost nothing yet is incredibly strong due to the Carbon fiber, hand-selected woods, and lightweight fiberglass parts.

    I had no issues with the assembly other than the soldering required to add the external BEC. Although the assembly was very easy, I would only recommend this model to intermediate and advanced pilots because it is extremely response and powerful.

    The Edge 540T exceeded all of my expectations and is truly the new pinnacle in mid-sized electric aerobats!












    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Telephone: 800-637-7660
    Telephone: 217-398-3630

    Web: www.greatplanes.com
    E-mail: gpinfo@gpmd.com

    ZAP Glues On-line at Frank Tiano Enterprises

    Pacer Z-42 Thread Locker
    5-minute Z-poxy
    Pacer POLY ZAP(tm)

    Comments on RCU Review: Great Planes Edge 540T - EP

    Posted by: boex on 02/12/2009
    Nice plane and awesome 3d flying in that frigid cluttered tight airspace.
    Posted by: Canuck on 02/24/2009
    Looks great... and a bit like the precision aerobatics mini-katana.... eitherway... to liven up that cockpit - check out www.wrightrc.com
    Posted by: archer789 on 03/26/2009
    Thanks for the work you put into this review. I have one in the mail, and seeing your expirence with this airplane has me glad I bought it. -Steve
    Posted by: rhatcher1 on 08/18/2009
    I HAVE ONE ON THE WAY AS WELL. CAN ANYONE TELL ME IF MY EFLITE POWER 10 ,50 AMP ESC AND 3C 2450 LIPO WILL WORK WITH THIS PLANE ..THANKS IN ADVANCE
    Posted by: gjcarr on 03/11/2010
    likes to land at 45 degrees....a big problem since the included landing gear is so much more rigid and heavier than the undercarriage it is bolted to...think the cg should be moved to rear about an inch (am using the recommended motor which is heavier than others of that size),,,also both canopy and cowl must be bolted down even though I have not done any violent maneuvers both have come loose in flight...been building from kits and plans for 66 years and this is the worst.
    Posted by: emederos on 11/20/2010
    Great edge
    Posted by: mharshey1 on 02/11/2011
    I picked one of these up at our swap meet new in the box. I wish I had looked at it closer before handing over my money. The air frame is fine, but the covering is ghastly. It looks like someone threw a bed sheet over it. The three layer covering scheme is gorgeous, but it made getting the wrinkles out impossible. I have assembled numerous ARFs and kits from various manufactures, and I know touch up of the covering is normal, but this kit was the worst I've ever seen! It's a shame because, as I said, the colors very nice. I think it will, but I hope it fly's better than the covering job.
    Page: 1
    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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