Distributed by: Great Planes Model Distributors
P.O. Box 9021
Champaign, IL 61826-9021 www.flyzoneplanes.com
When I was a kid, I had a crazy idea (Ok, I had a LOT of crazy ideas, but this was one of the few that had merit, yet never reached fruition). I wanted to build a plane that could convert from a high-wing trainer to a low-wing sport plane. Wouldn't that be great? A plane that a beginner could learn to fly with, and then upgrade to an intermediate plane as they progressed!
Well, like so many of my other great ideas (which I will save myself the embarassment of mentioning), I never got around to building it.
But now Flyzone has incorporated this concept into their new "Switch EP". The Switch is a 45" foam airframe electric that can do just what I had envisioned. What's more, they have made this a fully RTF model by including a Tactic TTX404 2.4GHz radio, a Super Tiger brushless motor and an 1800MAh LiPo battery with charger! This is literally everything a beginner needs to go from training to basic aerobatics with one purchase!
Also worth noting is that the included Tactic radio has a built-in WIRELESS buddy box function. The only down side to this is that like all 2.4 radios, it is only compatible with another Tactic radio, but at under $80 buying a second TTX404 is far from out of the question!
Flyzone is so confident about this airplane's role as a competent trainer that they even give a guarantee of success. Click here for details.
Price: $329.97 Stock Numbers: HCAA2530 Wingspan: 45" (1145mm) Weight: 2.5lbs (1130g) Wing Loading: 14oz sq/in (43g sq/dm) Length: 42" (1065mm) Center of Gravity (CG): Between 2-7/16" (62mm) and 3-1/2" (89mm) from the leading edge of each wing panel measured at the fuselage sides Radio Used:Tactic TTX404 (Included) Motor & ESC: Included Battery Used:Super Tiger 1800MAh 11.1v 15C 20Wh LiPo w/ Charger(Included) Channels Used: 4 total - Elevator, Aileron, Throttle, Rudder
As you can see, the packaging is excellent. The box is fully occupied by a foam cradle which holds the airframe components, transmitter and accessories firmly in place. And being a typical polystyrene foam, it really lets you appreciate the difference between it and the AeroCell? Foam from which the Switch is constructed.
One of the first things you'll notice is that there are two canopies, one for each wing configuration. A notable thing here is that the black windshields are not just decals, but molded plastic and the canopy used for the high-wing configuration has a plywood reinforcement tab. Other notable items are the pre-installed motor, servos, receiver and ESC.
With all parts inventoried, it was time to begin!
While the manual is excellent overall, there were two problems worth noting. Both of these are covered in the online addendum which you can download below.
The first step is to assemble the main gear. The Switch uses a unique system where the axle is pre-installed inside the wheel and you only need to place a screw through the gear and pant and screw it into the axle. This greatly simplifies what can often be a tricky step to accomplish. The pant is then further secured to the gear with a self-tapping screw, and since the tail wheel is pre-installed, the Switch will be standing on its own in no time.
There is a clear, plastic tube glued to the bottom of each stab and each elevator. You start by inserting the carbon fiber joiners into one stab/elevator, sliding them through the fuselage, and then attaching the second half. Now the elevator pushrod can be attached to the control horn. Note: as mentioned in the manual's addendum, you will need to remove the elevator servo arm to accomplish this.
The rudder pushrod was already attched.
HIGH WING CONFIGURATION
Note: It is always recommended that beginners start with a High Wing arrangement. A high wing airplane offers more stability and easier handling and visibility than mid or low wing airplanes. Furthermore, a high wing plane has better self-righting characteristics and gives the pilot better visual orientation.
Select the canopy that is designed for the high-wing configuration. Slide the carbon fiber wing tube through it and add a wing panel to each side being sure to guide the servo wires through to the inside. The wings have a pin for alignment and magnets will hole them in place once fully seated.
Join the two servo wires with the included "Y" cord, plug the cord into channel 1 on the (pre-installed) receiver, fit the tongue on the front of the canopy into the front of the radio compartment opening and secure the canopy with a single screw at the rear.
PROP AND SPINNER
After disassembling the prop/spinner, fit the prop adapter to the output shaft on the motor, and tighten the set screw against the flat part of the shaft (an Allen Wrench is supplied). Now the spinner backplate, prop, washer and spacer can be installed and tightened. Finally, the spinner is installed with a single screw at the front.
At this point, the Switch is ready to be flown in the High-Wing configuration. All-in-all, assembly took less than an hour! (And that includes having to stop to take pictures along the way)
LOW WING CONFIGURATION
A Quote from the Manual:When you have mastered the high wing configuration and are ready for a more aerobatic flight experience, then it's time to convert your Switch Trainer EP into the low wing configuration. The low wing configuration will be more agile in the air, roll more axially, and perform inverted flight with ease as well as many aerobatic maneuvers not possible with a high wing model. The low wing configuration will NOT, however, possess any of the self-recovery characteristics of the high wing configuration. We strongly suggest climbing to a high altitude after takeoff with the low wing configuration for your first few flights to become accustomed to the differences between the wing positions.
Converting the Switch to the Low Wing configuration is as easy as removing the wings from the High Wing Canopy, placing the wing joiner tube through the holes in the fuselage, and re-attaching the wings to the tube as you did earlier, but now you will add the other canopy which is provided.
Flyzone also recommends moving all pushrods to the outer holes of the servo arms for more control.
The Flyzone Switch comes with a Tactic TTX404 radio. I have been using the TTX404 for about 5 months now and I can honestly say that this is an excellent, basic radio. While it does not have some features like Dual Rates, Expo, or EPA, it does have Servo Reversing on all 4 channels, Digital Trims on Aileron, Elevator and Rudder (analog trim on throttle), AND it has some features you wouldn't expect from a radio that sells for under $80 - Features like V-Tail and Elevon mixing, and a WIRELESS Buddy Box System!
I have used the TTX404 in everything from small foamies to a 120-size 4-Stroke aerobatic biplane with excellent success. I have also used the Elevon function and since I have a second transmitter, I have been able to try out the Wireless Buddy Box! What a great feature - No more cable between the instructor and student!
Additional 6-channel receivers can be purchased for under $30 and binding is as simple as pushing a button and you're in the air!
Here's what the TTX404 has to offer!
Digital* Trims and Servo Reversing on all Channels
Compact, Lightweight TR624 Receiver
Power LED and Low-Voltage Alarm
Adjustable Stick Lengths
4-cell ?AA? Battery Holder, Adjustable Neck Strap, On/Off Switch Harness with Charge Lead and Instruction Manual *on elevator, ailerons and rudder.
Wireless Trainer System
V-tail and Elevon Mixing
Built-In Charge Jack
Modulation: FHSS spread spectrum
Input Power: four ?AA? alkaline, NiCd, or NiMH cells (3.8-8.0V; not included)
Output Power: <0.1W
Power-On Indicator: red LED, with low-battery indicator
Audible Tones: low-voltage alarm; digital trim adjustments
Rx Dimensions: 1.77 x 0.98 x 0.5 in (45 x 25 x 13 mm)
Once the battery had fully charged I brought the Switch to a park near my house. There was a fair breeze blowing, but it was steady, so I decided to go ahead with the maiden flight.
I installed the battery and plugged it in, and then I attached the wing. It was then that I realized that to disconnect the battery, I would have to remove the wing. The wing only uses a single, nylon bolt to secure it, so it's not a matter of being difficult, more of a minor annoyance that once the flight is over, you can't just pop a magnetic hatch off, but instead, you need to pull out a screwdriver. Again, not a huge deal, but it could be in the rare emergency when you might need to disconnect the battery quickly.
In any case, I sat her down, powered up and she was off! I only added a click or two of trim here and there, but noting notable, and in no time, I was just enjoying the flight. The Switch flies very well in the high-wing configuration, no bad habits, no noticeable adverse yaw and in general, a pleasure to fly. The breeze, while steady was really more than I should have been flying in, so I decided to bring her in and call it a day before switching to the low-wing setup.
Landing into the wind, I was almost able to bring her to zero ground speed as she settled in. It was really a lot of fun, but then I realized that I had better stop playing lest the ground reach up and smite me (Which I would hate to have happen before the review was done) so I set her down and headed home to wait for a better day.
The next day was much calmer, so I headed out to the park again, this time with the Switch in the Low-Wing mode. For the first flight, I decided to keep the rates where they were instead of zipping them up as the manual recommends. Again I powered her up and again she took off effortlessly. I really wasn't expecting much more performance, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that with the low wing, the Switch was a real aerobat! I was putting her through loops, rolls, Cubans, etc and she handled them like she was made for it. When it came time to land, the Switch still floated in as nicely as you could ask for. On the next flight, I increased the throws and enjoyed it even more!
When it came time to shoot the video, I asked my buddy Jon to join us. Jon is my 9-year-old student, who only recently soloed. As you can see in the video, we set up the wireless buddy box and Jon took the Switch right off from the ground and flew it around easily, but he was reluctant to try any maneuvers with a plane that wasn't his, so after a bit, I took over and did a few basic aerobatics. Then we switched to Low-Wing and I put here through a few more paces.
Check out the video to see her in action!
Flyzone Switch EP RTF Or, Download the Video (24meg) CLICK HERE
There's no doubt that I like this plane a lot! The concept of an airplane that converts from a High-Wing Trainer to a Low-Wing aerobat works as well as I had hoped and even better than I expected!
Aside from the obvious situation of having a plane someone could start with and advance with as their skills increase, I can think of so many other scenarios where this would be the ideal plane to have. Like maybe a dad who wants to get his son or daughter started, but is afraid they might not stick with it and who doesn't want to be "stuck" with a beginner's plane, or even someone on a budget who wants two planes in one.
Whatever the case, the Switch can fill a variety of roles. As for me, the Switch has earned a permanent place in my hangar. Its only downfall is a lack of easy access to the battery, but I guess there's always the possibility of adding a switch to the Switch!
Great Planes Model Distributors
P.O. Box 9021
Champaign, IL 61826-9021 www.flyzoneplanes.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.