RCU Review: ParkZone Night Vapor BNF

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    Contributed by: Andrew Griffith | Published: September 2010 | Views: 35566 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Parkzone Night Vapor BNF/RTF

    Review by: Andrew Griffith
    Andrew Griffith




    Distributed exclusively by:
    Horizon Hobby
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, IL 61822
    Phone: (877) 504-0233
    Website: www.horizonhobby.com

    RTF is completely ready to go.
    BNF sets up in seconds.
    Cute and fun!

    Click HERE for explanation

    Skill Level:

    Time to complete: Minutes

    Frustration Level: None

    Parkzone has wide variety of model aircraft to choose from, ranging from the Habu electric ducted fan jet, warbirds, and aerobatic planes, to the slow flying Ember and Vapor.  Their models are available in PNP (Plug and Play), BNF (Bind and Fly), and RTF (Ready to Fly) completion levels and offer something for everyone.

    The Plug and Play aircraft are your typical ARF models that need the radio equipment and battery purchased separately.  While they require some minimal assembly, they can be in the air fairly quickly and the pilot has the choice of which radio equipment to install.

    The Ready to Fly models come complete with a basic transmitter and in the case of the Vapor, require only installing the transmitter and charger batteries, charging the included LiPo and heading out to the yard. 

    The Bind and Fly models are a Ready to Fly model less the radio transmitter.  This offers the modeler that already owns a JR or Spektrum DSM2 radio the ability to simply bind the new model to his or her existing transmitter, charge up the battery, and go fly.

    The subjects of this review are the Bind and Fly and Ready to Fly models of the Parkzone Night Vapor.

    My first experience with the Vapor came two years ago at E-Fest where Horizon was allowing the spectators to fly them due to their docile and forgiving flight characteristics.  Many of the people I spoke with that weekend said that it was their first hands on experience with R/C modeling.  It might be interesting to note that I saw several of these same people at the AMA booth later with sign up sheets in their hands and smiles on their faces.  I have since seen several of the Vapor models that were modified with LED lighting systems and decked out for night flying.  It seems that the same flight characteristics that allowed so many people that day to get their first R/C stick time make the Night Vapor an ideal way to transition to flying at night.

    Kit Name: Night Vapor BNF / RTF
    $99.99 BNF / $129.99 RTF
    Wing Span:
    14.8" (389mm)
    Flying Weight as tested:
    Radio equipment:
    JR 11X DSM2 (BNF) / Included 3 Channel (RTF) 

    • RTF - Nothing!
    • BNF - DSM2 compatible transmitter.

    Charger and LiPo
    Install 4 AA batteries
    It's almost time to fly!

    This is a combined review of both the Bind and Fly (BNF) and Ready to Fly (RTF) Parkzone Night Vapor planes. 

    When I received of the Night Vapor models I inspected them for damage, opened the kits, extricated the instruction manuals, and sat down for a little light reading.  I was a little shocked at first to find a 100 page manual, but I quickly realized that the included instructions covered both the BNF and RTF versions and the instructions came in 4 languages.  Of primary interest to me was the English version that encompassed the first 25 pages.

    I thought that even 25 pages were a lot considering the airplane is completely built and can be ready for flight in just a few minutes, but as is typical for products distributed by Horizon Hobby, they take nothing to chance.  This is especially true when the product may end up in the hands of a beginner.  The instructions contain everything that a good manual should: A complete kit inventory, safety instructions, detailed battery handling information, lots of helpful pictures, a repair parts listing, and contact information.

    I unpacked and inventoried both kits and found everything very well protected in a styrofoam cocoon with the airplanes secured in the middle with a piece of foam that is taped in place.  In consideration of the Vapors delicate airframe, the tape only makes contact with the packing material and not the model itself.

    The Night Vapor BNF includes the airplane itself, the manual, a LiPo flight battery, a charger, 4 double A batteries to power the charger, and a small bag containing some VERY small screws and linear servo retainers which I assumed to be common crash parts.  The RTF version includes all of the above plus a 2.4Ghz transmitter and 4 additional double A batteries used to power the transmitter.  The Nite Vapor RTF comes bound to the included transmitter, so the longest step in the assembly process is waiting for the flight battery to charge up which in my case took under 10 minutes.

    Fully assembled for you
    Bound to my 11X
    Programming complete
    RTF radio and charger
    I tend to have a lot of R/C stuff around so the BNF models from Parkzone offer an ideal way to reduce the clutter around the office (and bedroom, garage, living room, kitchen...) by allowing me to use my existing DSM2 radio equipment.  This provides two primary benefits.  First, I can use dual rates, exponential rates, and other features of the more advanced radios.  Second, you save money but not having to purchase equipment that you don't need.  This of course frees up some cash for a few extra batteries and other stuff that you really DO need! (That's my story anyway)

    Preparing to fly the RTF Night Vapor takes just a few minutes.  There are 8 AA batteries included, four of which go into the included LiPo battery charger with the remaining four getting installed in the transmitter.  The flight battery slips in to a keyed slot on the charger and the light comes on red.  When the battery is nearly charged the light will begin to flash and when it goes out you're ready to fly.  The manual states that it takes upwards of 35 to 40 minutes but if you land the Night Vapor when power starts to noticeably drop off the most it took mine to charge was around 20 minutes.

    Preparing the BNF Night Vapor takes even less time.  Install the four batteries in the charging base and charge up the flight battery.  When that's ready, connect the flight battery and the receiver light will flash.  This is important, there's no bind plug, if you power up the receiver first, it comes up in bind mode.  Hold the bind button down on your DSM2 transmitter, and after several seconds the light will come on solid.  Verify the controls are operating in the correct direction and it's time to fly.  I own a couple of Spektrum and JR radios but my newly arrived JR 11X 2.4Ghz DSM2 transmitter was a blank canvas waiting for it's first splash of paint.  While it may be a bit overkill for this model type I couldn't wait to play with it either so I bound it to the new Night Vapor.  The process worked perfectly, the controls checked out and I was ready to go.  I discovered a side benefit, the back lit display makes for flashlight free radio tinkering (as does the new 9503) at night.

    They advertise the Night Vapor as being able to fly indoors.  That may be true for some people but my apartment has relatively small rooms and I just couldn't make it work inside.  Waiting for the sun to set and darkness to arrive to fly the Night Vapor in the dark had the same feel of waiting for it to get dark enough for a fireworks display to start.  I couldn't wait to get these little guys outside and fly them at night!

    RTF battery installation
    Look Ma, it's twins!
    Motor and prop

    Tiny DSM2 receiver

    Flying at night using LED lights, as I found out a few years ago, is a lot different than traditional flying during daylight hours.  Not that it's much more difficult, but it's an exciting and different aspect to the hobby that turned out to be a lot of fun.  Given the visual differences, even for experienced pilots, its a good idea to have a tame and forgiving aircraft to learn how to fly using the aircraft lighting system as the sole reference.  With the addition of a full lighting system to the existing Vapor, Parkzone has answered the call for a slow, stable, plane that makes learning to fly at night about as difficult as getting off the couch and heading outside.

    First up for a test flight was the RTF mode.  This took me a short acclimation period because I'm used to the rudder on the left stick.  After wondering why the model wouldn't turn a few times I got the hang of it.  I noticed on the first flight that the Night Vapor appeared to fly like it was tail heavy so I landed it and slid battery mount as far forward as it would go.  This instantly transformed the Night Vapor into the docile flyer I knew it to be. 

    The Night Vapor is lit by 6 LED's.  Three white lights span the leading edge of the wing while set of green and red lights on the wings and a blue LED on the tail boom provide orientation information.  The green and red wing lights flash in an alternating pattern and are even installed like their full scale cousins with the red on the left wing and the green on the right.  The blue bind light on the receiver is also clearly visible so there's actually 7 lights on the model.  The front facing lights appear to be directional so it's not very difficult to track which way the Night Vapor is going unless you get it too far away from you.

    Since the included radio doesn't offer any rate adjustment I found the RTF Night Vapor to be a bit twitchy.  Nothing I couldn't get used to but it took a few flights to get comfortable with the control rates and the fact the rudder was on the right stick.  I flew around for 6 or 7 minutes getting a feel for the Night Vapor and flying at night in general.  When I felt the power start to drop off I made a quick landing on the sidewalk and got the BNF model ready.

    When it came time to give the BNF Night Vapor it's maiden flight I applied three lessons that I learned while flying the RTF Vapor.  First I added 35 percent expo to the rudder and elevator and then slid the battery all the way forward.  Since you can't remap the primary flight channels I went into the P-Mix programming (without a flashlight!) of my JR 11X and setup a mix from the rudder stick to the aileron channel at 100 percent.  All three problems were solved and the BNF Night Vapor flew beautifully!

    You won't be setting any speed records with these planes.  You also won't be winning any aerobatic competitions but the Night Vapor will loop well enough with a fresh battery.  I decided to give inverted flight a try; don't bother, it resulted in the wing shuddering and an alarming descent rate!  Flying around in lazy circles above the little pond in apartment complex was relaxing and the looks and comments I got from my new neighbors were priceless.  Touch and goes on the picnic table were challenging and fun and the occasional ramp strike (undershooting a carrier landing) didn't result in any damage.  Speaking of that, despite bouncing off the side of the building once or twice, and being retrieved from the top of a tree (the only tree) the Night Vapor is so light, and so slow, that it has yet to sustain any damage.

    *While most of the flying we did with the Night Vapor was done in total darkness, the flight photographs were taken at sunset to highlight both the model and the lights.


    Download and Watch in Windows Media Player here!


    Parkzone has taken the Vapor to the next level, night flying, without sacrificing any of the charm of the original Vapor.  With the addition of a factory installed LED lighting system system that even includes a built in alternating flasher, you can now enjoy your R/C modeling 24 hours a day. 

    The Night Vapor allows you to learn to fly at night with a stable, slow flying, low risk plane without having to fuss with finding and installing a light system.  Either version of the Night Vapor can be ready to fly in the time it takes to charge the included flight battery.

    If you've already got a DSM2 Spektrum or JR radio, Bind and Fly is the way to go.  If you don't have one, don't worry, the Ready to Fly version includes a 2.4Ghz transmitter that will get you in the air for a very reasonable cost.  Incidentally, if you purchase the RTF and at some point down the road purchase a better DSM2 radio (like, when you get addicted), you can rebind the RTF Vapor to your radio with a few simple steps outlined in the common instruction manual.

    If you're looking for cheap, lazy flying fun, day or night, then the Parkzone Night Vapor is for you!


    Distributed exclusively by:

    Horizon Hobby
    4105 Fieldstone Rd.
    CHAMPAIGN, IL 61822
    Support Phone: (877)504-0233
    Sales Phone: (800)338-4639

    Website: www.horizonhobby.com
    email: support@horizonhobby.com

    Comments on RCU Review: ParkZone Night Vapor BNF

    Posted by: BarracudaHockey on 09/27/2010
    I had an absolute ball with this at Hodges Hobbies All Electric Fly in this weekend! I think about 10 different people flew it while we were hanging around the camper at night
    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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