RCU Review: Great Planes Matt Chapman Eagle 580 ARF 50

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    Contributed by: Chris Batcheller | Published: June 2009 | Views: 85337 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of Great Planes Matt Chapman Eagle 580 ARF 50" Class Aerobat

    RC Universe Forums:
    Email: chris@nolapilot.com

    Great Planes Model Distributors

    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    Telephone: 800-637-7660

    Web: http://www.electrifly.com
    E-mail: gpinfo@gpmd.com

    • Great Looking Airplane
    • Excellent Finish
    • High Quality Parts
    • Excellent Flying Airplane
    • Easy to Transport

    • Weak Landing Gear Structure
    • Weak Elevator Joiner Structure

    Skill Level:
    Low to Moderate

    Time Required to Build:
    2-4 Hours

    Frustration Level:
    Low to Moderate

    Degree of Difficulty Explanation

    I jumped on the chance to review the Eagle 580. Not only is it a high-performance aerobat, it's painted in the colors of my alma mater, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). Matt Chapman represents ERAU at airshows with the full scale Eagle 580. He calls his CAP 580 the Eagle 580 because the ERAU mascot is an Eagle.

    As usual, the folks at Great Planes have produced a great looking airplane with performance to match. The Eagle 580 is constructed from laser cut wood and covered in genuine MonoKote. The airplane also features carbon fiber laminated parts to yield a strong yet light airframe. The finished appearance of this model is very clean thanks to the pre-installed magnets that hold the cowling and canopy in place.

    This model is designed to fly with a brushless LiPo system for maximum performance and minimum fuss. The Rimfire .32 (42-50-800)kV Outrunner Brushless Motor is designed to plug and play with this airframe to minimize building time.

    • Stock Number: GPMA1573
    • Wingspan: 50 in (1270 mm)
    • Wing Area: 494 in² (31.9 dm²)
    • Weight: 3.25-3.5 lb (1475-1590 g)
    • Wing Loading: 15-16 oz/ft² (46-49 g/dm²)
    • Length: 47.75 in (1215 mm)

    Needed to Complete:

    • Minimum 4-channel radio w/4 micro servos (5-6 channel recommended)
    • Receiver
    • 45A ESC (A bigger ESC is recommended for 3D)
    • Outrunner brushless motor
    • Minimum 3S 11.1V 2100mAh LiPo battery (4S 14.4V 2100 mAh LiPo battery recommended)
    • Servo Extensions ( 2 - 6" long, 1 - 12" long)
    • Tape, Thick and Thin CA, Zip Ties, Thread Locker
    • Tools:
      • 1/16", 3/32" drill bit
      • 1/16", 5/32" hex key
      • 8mm Open End Wrench
      • Hobby Knife
      • Hemostats or long nose pliers
      • Small Phillips Screwdriver
      • Propeller Ream
    Manual: http://manuals.hobbico.com/gpm/gpma1573-manual.pdf

    The Eagle 580 comes well packaged in a full color box. The MonoKote covered parts were wrinkle free and individually wrapped in plastic. The kit comes with an airframe, landing gear, wheel pants, wheels, hardware and decals. The cowling and canopy both snap into place thanks to pre-installed rare-earth magnets. The magnets are so strong, removing the cowling for the first time broke part of the bulkhead in the cowling. I would recommend that you check the bulkhead to make sure it is secure. If you add some additional glue, make sure that you don't get glue on the side where the magnets are exposed, as you may affect the fit of the cowling.

    Assembly of the Eagle 580 doesn't take long and it can easily be completed in 3-4 hours. The fuselage, wings and tail are all pre-covered in MonoKote. The first step in the manual is to install the aileron servos in the wings. The wings come with a string through the ribs to make installing the servos easy. Just tie or tape the string to the servo wires and pull the wire through to the wing root. I did find that the all the servo cutouts were a little undersized in width for the Futaba S3115 servos. The hardware kits includes small carbon fiber plates to hold the servos down in place of the rubber and grommets that are supplied with the servo. The manual does show the included nylon clevises being used on the ailerons, but I substituted all the nylon clevisis for metal clevisis.

    I made two modifications to the airframe to make it more durable. Both were made after the original airframe proved too weak. The first modification is the landing gear mounting area and the second is the elevators joiner. Both modifications are easy to do, especially if you complete them before the airplane is completely assembled.

    The gear area of the fuselage is too weak. A bounce on landing broke the attach plate rearward into the fuselage. Some searches on the forums revealed that I wasn't the only one with this issue.

    I peeled back the covering just behind the landing gear attach plate on the bottom of the fuselage. Then I installed (5) pieces of 3/32 lite plywood. The first two pieces of 3/4" wide lite plywood go on the fuselage insides just behind the landing gear mounting plate up. An additional two triangular pieces were also installed.

    The last piece was a 1-1/2" wide piece of 3/32 lite plywood installed from the rear of the landing gear mounting plate to the battery tray. This piece was glued on top of the original structure.

    All these pieces were glued in place using thick and thin CA. I then added some balsa to the bottom of the fuselage and covered it with some MonoKote.

    The wheel pants are easy to assemble to the gear legs. The manual does a good job of pointing out which gear leg goes to which wheel pant. The next step is to attach the gear to the fuselage. The gear attaches with 4-40 screws and lock washers. I used a dab of thread locker for some additional security.

    Next the rudder is installed with thin CA and CA hinges. The manual shows a great tip, to push a pin through the center of the hinge when installing. This will keep the hinge from going too deep on either side. After the rudder is installed, the tail wheel assembly can be installed. Looking down the inside of the fuselage, you can see the carbon fiber laminations that add strength to the airframe.

    The elevators are connected with a wire joiner that slips into balsa wood on each elevator half. This setup worked for a while, and then some slop developed. This modification is easier to do before the horizontal stabilizer is glued to the fuselage.

    I drilled the holes that the elevator joiner slip in out to a 1/4" diameter hole. I drilled the hole out using several drill bits, stepping up in size 1/8" or so at a time. Then I inserted a 1/4" hardwood dowel into the hole and glued the dowel into place with thin CA. Next I drilled the dowel out to the original size of the elevator joiner wire. Then I filed the hardwood dowel to match the profile of the elevator leading edge.

    The last step was to cut away some covering and epoxy 1 layer of fiberglass over the elevator joiner wire. If you do this modification before gluing the tail in you can do all this on your workbench. Otherwise you will need to complete this with the elevator joiner through the fuselage. This modification made a stiff connection to both elevators.

    Next it's time to glue the horizontal stabilizer in place. Fist the manual has you install the wings by sliding the canopy off and slipping the carbon fiber joiner tube into place. Then the wings can slide onto the joiner tube and get secured with a nylon thumb screw. After the wings are installed, the horizontal tail is fit checked against the main wing. Remember to slide the elevators or wire elevator joiner in the slot before the horizontal stabilizer is glued in. Remove the covering from the center section as indicated and slip the horizontal tail into the fuselage. It's important to make sure that the wing and horizontal are parallel to guarantee straight flight characteristics. Once the tail is square with the wing, the horizontal tail can be glued in place with some thin CA. After the tail is glued in place the elevator can be installed. The elevator installs the same as the rudder with CA hinges.

    The next steps are to install the motor, ESC and the remaining radio gear. The ElectriFly Rimfire .32 (42-50-800)kV Outrunner motor simply bolts on to the motor mount without any modification. The ESC installs with Velcro that is included in the kit. I installed the ESC a little further back to allow some additional surface for the Velcro to stick to. I then secured the ESC with 2 zip ties. Snap the cowling into place and install the propeller and spinner.

    The rudder servo is installed in the fuselage and the elevator servo is installed in the tail. The rudder is set up with push-pull cables that work very well. To get the cables down the nylon tubes, I used a piece of music wire to push it down the tube. When installing the threaded rudder control horn, the control horn should be installed 19 mm, not 21mm from the bottom of the rudder as the manual indicates. You will see a hole cut in the rudder for the threaded rudder control horn. Also, when installing the rudder it is easy to confuse the threaded control horn nuts and the nuts used on the push-pull cables.

    The receiver is Velcroed to the bottom of the fuselage in an open bay. This means the receiver is stuck to the MonoKote. While I would prefer a piece of wood to mount the receiver to, this worked well. Velcro is also supplied for the battery, and the plate that the battery sits on holds the battery securely.

    Now comes the fun part, installing the giant decals that come with the kit. The Embry-Riddle on the bottom of the wings is pre-applied, but the decals need to be installed on the top of the wings and sides of the fuselage. The decals are easy to install if you follow the directions in the manual. A mild dish soap solution and water will allow you to position the decals. I used a ruler and a marker to make very small marks on the MonoKote to help me position the wing decals. The fuselage decals install easier because the fuselage structure gives you a good reference to where "straight" is. On the rudder it may help to use some clear tape to help the decals stick close to the hinge. I ran a piece through the hinge line from one side to the other to keep the decal pressed against the rudder.

    Some of the decals were not illustrated well in the manual (this is my only complaint about the manual since overall the manual is excellent). The pictures here will help you place the decals. One note of caution, you may want to look at Matt Chapman's web site (address at the bottom) to place some of the decals if you're picky. The Lycoming Engines decals are in a different position on the full scale plane. The full scale plane also has Goodyear logos on the wheel pants that were included with the kit but not shown in the review photos.

    Once the decals have dried, it's time to begin those final checks before you tear up the sky. The C.G. came out perfect at 3 1/4" back from the root leading edge per the manual after adjusting the position of the battery. It's a good idea to put a mark on the battery tray so you know where to put the battery after you've take it out to charge. Set up your control throws and complete a range check. Complete the rest of your preflight checks, and this thing is ready to fly!

    Power Package Summary

    This combination of motor, Electronic Speed Control (ESC), battery, and the 12 x 6 E propeller worked great for sport and acrobatic maneuvers. The 13 x 8 E propeller provided for 3D work pulled more amperage than the ESC is rated for (45 amps), so all the flights on the video were made with the 12 x 6 E propeller. If you plan on doing a lot of 3D type maneuvers with the 13 x 8 E propeller, then I would bump up to the SS-60 ESC from the SS-45 that was tested here or try a few different propellers.

    The Silver Series 45A ESC has a built in 5 volt, 2 Amp Battery Eliminator Circuit (BEC). An external BEC is optional and recommended by Electrifly, however the manual has a table that suggests the ESC will drive 4 non-digital micro servos. I flew it stock using the BEC in the ESC to test its capabilities. If you plan on flying 3D, add the BEC.

    The motor mounts to the airframe with no fuss and 4 screws. The ESC is very simple to use and all the programming is done with the throttle stick. I would recommend turning the "brake" function on. While landing this will keep the airplane from slowing too quick and bouncing in. The battery performed excellent and provided reliable power. The APC propellers worked great! They come with precision inserts to keep the propeller centered on the shaft. A propeller reamer is required to ream the hubs to fit on the Rimfire Motor. These products were easy to use and performed beyond my expectations.

    ElectriFly Rimfire .32 (42-50-800)kV Outrunner Brushless Motor, GPMG4700
    The ElectriFly Rimfire .32 (42-50-800)kV Outrunner motor is a high performance outrunner motor that is made with high powered rare-earth Neodymium magnets. It has a 42mm diameter motor, 50mm motor length with 50A of continuous and 80A of surge current. Weight is 7 oz and the input voltage is 11.1-18.5 volts. The Rimfire .32 (42-50-800)kV has a kV rating of 800 rpm/volt. During my testing the Rimfire .32 (42-50-800)kV performed flawlessly. The motor comes with a propeller adapter, motor mount and hardware.

    ElectriFly Silver Series 45A Brushless Electronic Speed Control, GPMM1840
    The ElectriFly Silver Series 45A Brushless ESC (Electronic Speed Control) weighs only 1.76 oz and is 2.76" x 0.39" x 1.3" with pre-installed receiver plug, a Deans Ultra Connector and gold plated 4mm female bullet connectors. This ESC sports a 2A BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit) that can power 3-4 standard servos. This ESC also features a motor brake and does not require a programming card or software to program. It also features a safety circuit that requires you to arm the ESC before the propeller will move. This is easy to do, just bring the throttle to full, then the ESC will beep. Bring the throttle back to idle and the ESC will beep again. Now the ESC is armed and you are ready to fly.
    ElectriFly 14.8V, 2100 mAh, 20C LiPo Battery,GPMP0618
    The ElectriFly Power Series Lithium-Polymer Battery is a balanced 20C Discharge, 2100 mAh, 14.8V battery. It comes with a balancing tab and deans connector installed. This battery weighs in at 8 oz.
    APC Composite Thin Electric Propellers
    Two propellers were tested for this review. The fist was an APC Composite 12 x 6 E Thin Electric propeller and the second was a 13 x 8 E. These propellers are noticeably lighter than their gas and glow counterparts and are marked "Not for gas engines"
    Futaba S3115 Precision Micro Mini Servo
    This review used 4 Futaba S3115 Precision Micro Mini Servos. Two servos were used on the ailerons, one for the rudder and one for the elevator. The Futaba S3115 Servo is ideal for electric planes and small electric helicopters. It comes with a one year warranty. This servo uses precision nylon gears and it replaces the Futaba S3101 Servo.

    SPECS at 4.8V
    Torque: 39 oz-in (2.8 kg/cm)
    Speed: 0.15 sec/60°
    Dimensions: 1.1 x 0.5 x 1.2" (28 x 13 x 30mm)
    Weight: 0.60oz (17g)
    Lead Length: 6.5" (165mm)

    These servos proved to have enough power and speed to complete any of the maneuvers that I could put the Eagle 580 through. The 2A BEC on the ESC was able to power four of these servos with no problems.

    Performance Results
    at 76 F Air Temp, 3 Lbs 8 Oz Takeoff Weight
    12 x 6 E
    13 x 8 E
    Max Volts
    Max Amps
    Static Thrust
    4 Lbs, 11 oz
    5 Lbs, 12 oz
    Lbs and oz
    Max RPM
    Thrust / Weight
    Watts / Lb

    With the C.G. checked 3-1/4" back from the root leading edge, and the control throws set to the recommended high and low settings it was time to see what the Eagle 580 could do.

    Control Throws
    3D Rate
    High Rate
    Low Rate

    The Eagle 580 accelerated quickly down the runway and with a slight tug on the elevator it was airborne. It didn't take long to figure out that this was one smooth machine. After a few minutes I switched to the high rates (middle columns in the chart above) and kept them there. The ElectriFly Rimfire .32 (42-50-800)kV Outrunner motor and APC Composite 12 x 6 E pulled the Eagle 580 with authority.

    Flight Report
    Takeoff: The takeoff is short as seen in the video and a little rudder was required to maintain a straight takeoff from the grass field.
    Slow Flight, Stalls and Spins: Slow flight is very good. The ailerons have good authority in slow flight and the model comes to a predictable nose up attitude. Stalls are mild with little tendency to drop a wing. Upright and inverted spins had a tendency to come out after a 1/2 - 3/4 turn. All the flights were flown with the C.G. at the recommended location. As you get more comfortable with this plane, you can probably move the C.G. back to increase the spin performance.
    Basic Aerobatics (Aileron / Elevator): The Eagle 580 handles all the basic loops and rolls with ease. Rolls are very axial and smooth. Loops from level flight are nice and round.
    Advanced Aerobatics (Aileron / Elevator / Rudder): The airplane knife edges well, with a little tendency to drop the nose. Point rolls are very crisp with almost no tendency to overshoot. For 3D flying, take advantage of a radio with programmable exponential and set the rates to the 3D settings when the sticks are moved to the extremes. The plane hovers well, even with the 12 x 6 E propeller.
    Go-Arounds: Go arounds are predictable with no bad habits.

    The Eagle 580 will make nice smooth landings with the ESC brake on. The airplane glides well, slipping the plane on final helps to steepen the approach.

    With the brake function off, and the propeller windmilling, the Eagle 580 will slow down fast and bounce in on landing. If you fly with the brake off, bump the throttle trim up to keep the plane from slowing down too fast. See the instructions with the ESC about enabling the brake function.

    Click Below to View the Videos:

    11.2 MB
    45.2 MB

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    The Matt Chapman Eagle 580 50" EP ARF is a solid plane. It combines high performance aerobatics with a great looking airplane. This airplane will appeal to a wide range of modelers. Not only can this plane work as a sport flier, it will also please someone looking to learn or perform advanced aerobatics and 3D. Great Planes has added some nice extra touches with this airplane. The carbon fiber laminations in the fuselage add strength with minimal weight. The cowling and canopy both have magnets pre-installed, making it easy on the modeler and giving the finished airplane a very clean appearance.

    The Eagle 580 delivers all this with clean and quiet electric power. The fit and finish is excellent and is up to the usual high Great Planes standards. I was disappointed with the landing gear attachment structure and the elevator joiner structure, as both required reinforcement. The landing gear structure would have been a great spot for some carbon fiber. The elevator joiner wire slips into soft balsa on the elevator, within a few flights slop developed between the elevator halves. Installing a hardwood dowel plug and securing the joiner wire with some fiberglass made a slop-free connection.

    The Rimfire motor, Silver Series ESC and ElectriFly LiPo battery handled the Eagle 580 with authority. The APC Composite 12 x 6 E Thin Electric Propeller worked great for aerobatics while the 13 x 8 E propeller is the obvious choice for 3D with a thrust to weight ratio of 1.64. Without question the Eagle 580 will have everyone's attention, either in flight or standing proud on the flightline.

    This review would not be complete without a shameless plug for my alma mater. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is widely recognized as the world leader in aerospace and aviation education. Graduates train for all disciplines of aviation and aerospace careers in the schools 30 plus degree programs. Programs are offered in undergraduate, graduate and PhD levels. Embry-Riddle has two main campuses and many more with the worldwide extended campuses, often located on military bases. In addition, ERAU offers online learning programs.
    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical sponsors Matt Chapman to fly the Eagle 580 (a Cap 580) at airshows across the country. Matt has been awarded the Hilliard Trophy and also won the prestigious International Aerobatic Club Championships in 1994 and the Fond du Lac Cup in 1995*. Much like Matt is highly decorated and well respected aerobatic pilot, Embry-Riddle graduates are respected in the professional community because of their achievements.

    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    Telephone: 800-637-7660

    Web: http://www.electrifly.com
    Web: http://www.futaba-rc.com
    E-mail: gpinfo@gpmd.com

    APC Propellers
    Landing Products
    1222 Harter Ave.
    Woodland, CA 95776

    Telephone: 530-661-0399
    Fax: 530-666-6661

    Web: http://www.apcprop.com
    Email: APCProp@AOL.com
    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

    600 S. Clyde Morris Blvd.
    Daytona Beach, FL 32114

    Telephone: 386-226-6000

    Web: http://www.erau.edu

    Matt Chapman Airshows


    Written: 06/10/2009

    Comments on RCU Review: Great Planes Matt Chapman Eagle 580 ARF 50

    Posted by: av8tr on 06/30/2009
    Nice review but I would not keep the brake function on in this application. The brake function is best used in such things as powered gliders or where folding props are used. One should be able to land a plane just fine with the prop windmilling (brake off) as with the prop on.
    Posted by: Taildragger726 on 07/02/2009
    What? No rolling harrier??? Matt does it,, without a brake!
    Posted by: robert commodore on 08/16/2009
    can you put a pilet inside this plane. and what esc do you need for 3D ? 45 or 60 esc
    Posted by: batchelc on 08/17/2009
    Yes you can put a pilot in the airplane. You may be able to do 3D with the 45A ESC, but you will have to change props. In the review I mentioned that the 13x8E prop pulled too much current for the 45A ESC. You may be able to try a few different props and get right to the limit with the 45A ESC.
    Posted by: marchambault on 08/30/2009
    Um... the watts calculation is completely messed up ... somehow I doubt that the 4s lipo is holding 16.9V @ 38.8 Amps turning a 16x6 prop... Also the static thrust numbers are too low for those prop / rpm combinations.
    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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