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.
Night Vapor BNF / RTF Price:
$99.99 BNF / $129.99 RTF Wing Span:
14.8" (389mm) Flying Weight as tested:
16g 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!
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.
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.
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
RTF radio and charger
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.