When I first saw
the VFO advertised, I thought now this is different. I love the
simplicity and bang for the buck that foamies provide and when I
got the chance to review the VFO, I jumped on the opportunity.
one word, the VFO is a totally "unique" foamy. I don't think any other
manufacturer offers anything like this. It is advertised as a
hybrid that is part plane and part heli. I was amazed to see the VFO
being hovered hands off in one of the advertisement videos and
thought to myself, I
gotta try this.
The shape reminds me of the XFY-1
Pogo from the 50s although there are no references to the actual
aircraft in any of the ads. But enough talk, lets put this foamy
see what it can do...
The VFO arrives
in a double boxed package with components individually wrapped and
securely taped down. The four main parts
that will form the fuselage/wing are wrapped together and taped
down to the bottom of the box. Another small bag contains the pods,
and the various bits of foam used to reinforce the fuselage. The carbon
fiber pieces used to create the push rods and reinforce the wings are
all packaged together. The wooden motor mount, several pieces of Velcro
and the control arms are in the last bag. The wings are already
beveled and taped helping to cut down assembly time. This build should
not take more than a few hours.
The manual is
written and illustrated quite well. Detailed instructions are given on
how to setup the proper mixes to achieve dual rudder and quad
surface aileron control.
manual gives specific instructions on how to take off, fly the VFO and
land it as it is
certainly not your average 3D foamy.
process involves using foam safe CA and accelerator to frame up the
fuselage and glue in the support pieces. The electronics are then
installed and control surfaces adjusted before finally fixing the
servos and push rods to the required positions.
The first step
in the assembly involves using the pre-cut pieces of foam to reinforce
the locations where the control arms will be glued. There are eight
pieces in total, which are glued to both sides of the control arm
mounting locations. This is followed by gluing another eight small
pieces of reinforcement to the trailing edge of the fuselage where the
carbon fiber rods are going to be inserted.
The four pieces
of the fuselage/wing are then glued together and the VFO starts taking
shape. I used ZAP foam safe CA and accelerator throughout the build
and applied glue to one side and wet the other with the accelerator to
make a strong bond. I followed this by running a small bead of CA along
the joint locations and sealed them with a spray from the accelerator.
reinforcement pieces (doublers) for the motor mount are installed.
These are already precut and are supplied in four long and four short
pieces. The manual is very clear as to how these need to be installed
so that they overlap to give a proper fit. The four pods are then
prepared by gluing the small carbon fiber strips to the bottom to act
as the landing gear.
The pods are
then glued to the fuselage and reinforced with the remaining eight
pieces of triangles. Make sure you mark and glue these in symmetrically
as the stiffening rods will be later glued to these locations. Any
will reduce the contact area to which you can apply glue.
circular wood motor mount glues directly to the reinforced foam tip.
motor for the VFO is the RimFire 300 and requires a bit of prep work
before it can be attached to the mount.
The motor is
shipped with the shaft sticking out the back. If you are going to use a
prop saver (which I recommend), you will need to remove the collar and
C-clips that hold the shaft in and drive it through the motor to the
front. You can then attach the rear C-clip and discard the collar.
The prop saver
is then screwed on the shaft and the motor can be attached to the mount
using the supplied wood screws.
prop is a 9x4.7 Slo-Fly prop. It will require a bit of reaming to seat
properly on the prop saver.
motor mount assembly with prop saver.
The 12A Silver
Series ESC is very light and can be affixed to the fuselage using a
small double sided tape. The supplied Velcro strips are used to attach
the battery to the bottom of the fuselage.
requires 4 micro servos. The Futaba S3114s are very small, light and
provide enough power to meet the demands of the VFO.
describes how the servos are fitted with the shafts facing down. The
servos are not glued until the radio system is set. The control arms
are glued in place such that the elevator halves face down and the
rudder halves face left.
push rods are assembled using two z-bend pieces and two pieces of heat
shrink tubing. Do not shrink bottom connection just yet, you will need
to adjust the center points first.
At this point, I
turned on the radio and set the directions to make sure that the
surfaces would move in the correct fashion. Then I moved the servo arms
get close to minimal sub trim as possible. The control horns have
to be drilled or reamed
with a hobby knife to accept the z-bends. Once the servos are centered,
the tubing can be heated to shrink it in
The receiver can
installed with double sided tape and the
servo wires routed through the pre-cut holes in the fuselage. I used
some small pieces of tape to make sure all the wiring was nice and tidy.
A big triangle
foam piece is supplied to be used as a carpenters square to make sure
the fuselage is assembled true as the carbon fiber support rods are
being glued. The carbon fiber rods have to be cut down to length and
glued in place. The same is repeated for the upper supports.
supports are glued in, the final piece of assembly involves gluing the
servos in place. I used a low heat glue gun to fix the servos in place
in case I need to remove them. With that, the assembly is complete and
we can move on to setting up the radio.
The VFO is a
aircraft with two rudders that can also act as ailerons. To
achieve proper control surface deflections, radio mixing is required to
slave certain channels to each other. I first started out by connecting
the channels in the following fashion:
The first thing that has to be done is to enable the elevon function so
that both elevator halves can function as both elevators and ailerons.
This is no different than setting up a delta wing.
Following this, the first mix (MIX1) is used to make sure that the
rudder follows the top rudder. I used a mix to set Ch4 as master and
Ch5 as slave making sure that the rudders were moving in unison. At
this point, you have a flyable VFO. In order to get the max roll rate,
the rudders can be slaved to the ailerons.
To achieve this, two additional mixes are required. One of these mixes
(MIX2) controls the top
rudder and the other (MIX3) controls the bottom. The second mix
uses the Ch1 as master and Ch4 as slave. The third mix is similar
except that the slave is Ch5. Assign both mixes to a toggle switch and
you are done.
attempt to fly the VFO, read the manual and watch the available videos
to get familiar with how it behaves. The real tricky part is of course
the take off and landing.
I waited for a nice and calm day and took the VFO to a small park for
the maiden flight. My first take off was less than stellar. As I gave
it throttle to see when the VFO would start getting light, I directly
toppled over to the front. The suggested take off method is to take off
and immediately get free of the ground effects, which seem to throw the
VFO around quite a bit. This is where the prop saver actually saves
your flying day.
For my next attempt, I gave throttle till the VFO got light and
immediately pulled up a couple of feet. If you have a helper, it is
recommended that you have the helper hold the VFO while you trim it
out. I decided to trim it out in flight and it really did not require
much of a trim. The VFO is very sensitive to the CG point though. The
two recommended batteries (300mAh and 640mAh) cannot be placed in the
same location as one is heavier than the other. Before you take out
your VFO, mark the locations that the battery gives you a CG 12" back
from the nose. In the manual, the diagram that shows the CG almost
looks like it is measured from the tip of the propeller, however I
that you should measure from the tip of the motor mount instead.
Once you get your CG and trim set, the VFO is an absolute pleasure to
fly. It hovers very easily and harriers are a breeze to perform and the
VFO looks great doing them. I did have to keep my quad aileron mix on
all the time as I did not like the roll rate without it.
If you keep your nose high and manage your throttle, you can cruise
around in high alpha all day long at crawl speed. If you decide to
drop the nose, be careful as the VFO picks up speed at a fairly high
Knife edge flight and inverted flight did not really thrill me as much
since the airframe is symmetrical and there is really no difference
flying on its side than right side up. I must admit that I was
initially very disoriented with the VFO due to its symmetry. It is
very easy to miss which side is the top especially when
trying to perform rolling maneuvers. If I were to build another one, I
might consider painting the bottom and top halves in different colors.
The rudder is very effective. You can perform flat turns with the
rudder alone in very tight circles. The loop or more like flip rate is
not bad either. I was actually expecting the VFO to flip in place but I
was treated to more of a tight loop instead. I might need to increase
throws a bit more.
Where the VFO really shines is of course hovering and high alpha
flight. It is very easy to transition from one to the other and the
ailerons are very effective in controlling rolls induced by the torque
of the motor.
is easy to build and a blast to fly. I particularly enjoyed watching
the VFO go past me nose high at crawling speeds. It was almost
like watching something floating underwater. I would not recommend this
novice as it is not that easy to fly but if you are comfortable with
sport flying, just getting into
3D or are looking for something unique, I would say give it a try.
It is not
without its weak points though. Since the airframe is very light and
has a lot of surface area, it does not like even the slightest wind.
Landings are a bit hard to get used to but not a problem overall. If
you do however drop the airframe even from short distance, expect to
break something. I am not sure why there are no horizontal or vertical
carbon fiber support rods built into the foam as I think that would
help in the overall rigidity especially in the motor mount area.
However, if you
carry some foam safe CA and accelerator with you, it will not be a hard
get back in the air after a small mishap.
The day we
recorded the movie for the review was near zero wind, which gave me
an idea of how the VFO should handle. I did not
get a chance to try the VFO indoors where it is really meant to fly.
I expect that the VFO can be flown with a lot more
confidence indoors. Also, I was not able to hover the VFO hands off as
I was hoping to do so but I may have better luck indoors with no wind
and possibly a more tail heavy configuration.
Overall, I am
very pleased with how the VFO turned out and look forward to taking it
with me to some indoor flying sessions. The performance vs. price
or simply the "fun factor" of the VFO is very high in my opinion. If
you are looking for something unique, you might want to give the
ElectriFly VFO a try.
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Distributors 2904 Research Rd.
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Phone: (217) 398-8970 www.greatplanes.com
Futaba Radios Distributed Exclusively by Great Planes Model
Distributors 2904 Research Rd.
Champaign IL 61826
Phone: (217) 398-8970 www.futaba-rc.com
ZAP and Pacer Adhesives Distributed by Frank Tiano Ent.
3607 Ventura Drive E.
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Phone 863-607-6611 www.franktiano.com
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.