RCU Review: ElectriFly E-Performance Series Yak-55M


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    Contributed by: Burc Simsek | Published: April 2011 | Views: 24098 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of the ElectriFly Yak-55M E-Performance Series ARF
    Burc
    Simsek





    Welcome to Hobby People Stores!
    Distributed exclusively by
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Phone: (800) 338-4639
    www.electrifly.com




    The Yak-55, which was already a winner of several World Aerobatic Championships, went through a series of structural changes in 1989 resulting in the Yak-55M. The end result was an airframe with an increased taper on the wing but reduced wingspan and area that allowed for higher roll rates. When I first saw the Yak-55M being announced by ElectriFly, I was very excited and could not wait for the day where I could get my hands on this great rendition of the legendary aerobatic champion.

    First of all, the Yak-55M is not advertised as a 3D airframe. It is meant to be a precise acrobatic airframe that gives you the feeling of flying a much larger airframe in a more manageable 50.5" wingspan. It can be powered by the RimFire .32 and a 4S2200mAh batteries which should be common in any electric fliers battery box. With it's great looks and promise of performance, I cant wait to get started on this Yak55M and see what she has to offer. So lets dig in...





    • Incredibly precise for 50" wingspan
    • Magnetic Cowl
    • Pre-hinged ailerons
    • Quick assembly
    • Great looks
    • Latching canopy
    • Ample space for Battery


    • None Found


    Skill Level:

    Time Required to Build:

    Frustration Level:

    What do these ratings mean?


    Name:ElectriFly E-Performance Series Yak-55M

    Specs:
    • Price: $169.99 (Accurate as of review date)
    • Stock Number: GPMA1186
    • Wingspan: 50.5" (1285 mm)
    • Wing Area: 508 sq in (32.8 sq dm)
    • Weight: 3.5 - 3.75 lb (1590-1700 g)
    • Wing Loading: 16-17 oz/sq ft (49-52 g/sq dm)
    • Length: 47" (635mm)

    Equipment Used:
    Features:
    • Lightweight 
    • Magnetic canopy with latching mechanism for added safety
    • Two-piece wing for quick field assembly
    • Pre-installed ailerons
    • Air foiled horizontal and vertical stabilizers
    • Fiberglass cowl with which attaches with powerful magnets
    • Genuine TopFlite MonoKote covering





    The Yak-55M arrived in a colorful and well packaged box which contained individually wrapped components all taped down to survive the rigors of shipping. Once all the items were removed and laid out on my workbench, I had to check the box again to see if I was missing something as there are very few components required to complete the Yak-55M.  Initial inspections showed no damage to any of the components and the covering looked good with no major issues. 



    One of the first things that strikes your eye with the Yak-55M ARF is the magnetically attached cowl which employs four strong magnets to hold the cowl in place. The magnets are attached to an inner ring, which mates to the magnets on the firewall, making a very clean installation. In addition to the cowl, there is a plastic grill and spinner included. Although the real Yak-55M does not have a spinner, I think the white spinner looks great on this model. 

    The wings and stabilizers were flawless. The ailerons come pre-hinged from the factory but the elevator and the rudder have to be hinged by the modeler. I was actually very excited to see the beautiful airfoil on both stabilizers. This Yak-55M should fly very precisely with these surfaces.



    The canopy is held in by two carbon fiber rods on the front and a powerful magnet on the back. Additionally, the canopy has a little wooden latching mechanism that allows it to lock in place. The way to remove the canopy is to push it towards the nose and de-latch it first then lift it off. I almost broke the canopy the first time I tried to remove it as I was not aware of this latch.  The canopy also comes with a very detailed dash sticker and a plastic canopy floor that is left off to allow the modeler to install a 1/5th scale pilot.

    The landing gear is aluminum with fiberglass spats, which in my opinion is the only thing that should be put on the end of a Yaks landing gear. The tail gear is the type that is inserted in the rudder to provide the steering mechanism. It should work nicely with a model that is so light.

    Finally the items that were supplied for the review include the 4S2200mAh battery, the 45A Silver Series ESC, the RimFire .32 motor and 4 S3150 servos. I've used all of these items before and know from personal experience that they all work very nicely together and expect to have zero issues with them in this build as well.


    Manual


    The manual contains clearly documented steps to aid in bringing the Yak-55M together. Detailed instructions are given for each step of the assembly process and the recommended CG and control surfaces directions are clearly documented.

    Download the manual





    I started the build of the Yak-55M with the tail section so that I could get all of the required gluing out of the way. The horizontal stabilizer inserts in the opening of the rear of the fuselage and is epoxied in place. The stabilizer was perfectly parallel with relation to the wing right out of the box and I did not have to mess with any adjustments which made me pretty happy. The two elevator halves are connected together with a pre-bent metal rod that has to be installed as the stab is being glued in. I placed a little oil around the metal to make sure that epoxy would not stick to the metal and that it would have a full range of movement afterwards. The elevator halves can then be CA hinged, and the metal connector epoxied, to the stabilizer.






    With both elevator halves hinged, the rudder can be installed by first installing the tail gear and then the CA hinges. The whole tail section comes together very quickly and looks great once it is done. One thing you will realize here is that the rudder throw is limited by the elevator on both sides. If this was a 3D airframe, it could pose a little problem but as I discovered while flying the Yak, the amount of rudder throw is more than enough for precision flight allowing for some very nice knife edge passes. 






    The main gear also comes together very quickly as there is no drilling or tapping required. Once the axles are bolted in place, the spats simply install with two screws and bolts through pre-drilled locations. No messing up the angle of the spat here. The wheels are held in place with four wheel collars. The whole assembly slides into the side of the fuselage through pre-cut slot and then bolts in place using six metal screws. I first had a problem installing one of the screws as the washer was making contact with the fuselage till I discovered that in the parts kit was a supplied washer that was half cut which I assume was specifically put there for this location. A bonus indeed.

    That is essentially the bulk of the build. The rest of the build involves installing the radio and power system and getting the Yak-55M ready for flight.



    RADIO SYSTEM


    The Futaba S3150s are installed in the wings by removing some covering and drilling and hardening the locations for the screws. You will need two 9 - 12" servo extenders for this step.



    The manual specifically instructs you to not install the plastic grommets on the servos but instead use a simple wood screw and washer to hold the servos in place which makes for a perfectly flush installation. The control horns are then simply screwed in place into the hard wood locations on the ailerons. You can harden the wood here with some thin CA to make sure that they wont ever back out again.

    The push rod connection is made by placing a bend in the rod and routing it through the servo horn. They are locked in place with a plastic retainer. The supplied rods fit perfectly through the long arms of the S3150s with zero slop.


    Robart Retracts Closer Look

    Key Features

    The 7C sits squarely in the middle ground in computer systems. It's a system that offers much of the 9C's set-up versatility matched to 4-channel ease of use. Like all other computer systems on this page, it offers Dial 'n Key? simplicity for programming, and the 2.4GHz FASST system for an unparalleled RF link.
    • Dial 'n Key programming
    • Airplane/heli software
    • Assignable switches/functions
    • Up/down timer
    • Large 72 x 32 LCD screen with adjustable contrast
    • 10-model memory
    • 6-character model naming
    • Digital trims, trim memory, EPA, sub-trims and servo reversing (all channels)
    • Dual/Triple rates* (aileron/elevator/rudder)
    • Exponential (aileron/elevator/rudder)
    • Adjustable throttle cut
    • Fail-safe
    • NT8S600B 600mAh Tx NiCd w/dual-output charger
    • Trainer system (cord required)
    • Flap switch
    • Retract switch
    • Variable rate knob (channel 6)

    • Speed: 0.24 sec/60 @4.8V
    • Torque: 51.4 oz-in @4.8V
    • Dimensions: 1.2 x 0.4 x 1.1" 
    • Weight: 0.81 oz




    Both the elevator and rudder servos are housed in the tail section. The same method used to install the aileron servos is employed for the tail servos by cutting, drilling, tapping/hardening the wood and installing the servo with a screw and a washer. The control horns are then installed into the hardened wood sections of both the elevator and the rudder. I really like the fact that there is only one servo for the elevator making it a light, no fuss installation.






    The linkages for the rudder and elevator are the same as the ailerons. I was pleased to see that the finished assembly was completely slop free. At this point, I also installed the R617FS receiver by using some double sided tape and small piece of hook-loop tape to attach it to the vertical member right below the wing tube.





    MOTOR/ESC


    The RimFire .32 which was supplied for this review mates perfectly to the holes that have been pre-drilled and prepared with blind nuts on the firewall. All that is left for the modeler to do is to attach the X-brace to the motor and attach it using four screws.



    The Silver Series 45A ESC can then be taped/strapped to the side of the motor box and the leads routed inside the fuselage through the air holes. I used a piece of double sided tape again to first stick the ESC in place, then I wrapped the whole assembly including the slack of the wires with a piece of hook-loop tape.



    The recommended 4S2200mAh battery straps nicely in the fuselage. There is ample space to move the battery forward and aft to make fine adjustments in CG.  Note the aluminum thumb screws that are used to hold the wings in place. I really like these screws as they are very easy to attach and remove without any tools and they are very light.



    Power System Closer Look


    Just as Ammo motors have revolutionized brushless inrunner technology, RimFire motors have done the same for outrunners! The combination of superior performance and a competitive price makes these power plants a great value. Plus, the wide selection means there's a RimFire motor that's ideal for whatever the application, including brushed-to-brushless upgrades as well as glow-to-electric conversions. Equip your airplane with a RimFire, and watch it reach new heights!

    • Engineered for explosive acceleration and maximum torque.
    • The lightened aluminum motor can houses high-torque, "rare-earth" Neodymium magnets.
    • Better cooling means 50% more power than many others outrunners of similar size.
    • Dependable and virtually maintenance-free; no comms or brushes to worry about, and bearings are double-shielded.
    • All include hardware, gold-plated bullet connectors (male connectors are installed; female connectors are included) and a motor mount.
    • Diameter: 42mm, Length: 50mm
    • kV: 800, Constant Watts: 850W, Burst Watts: 1480W
    • Weight: 198g, Shaft: 5mm

    With Silver Series brushless ESCs, the only way their performance would be any easier to enjoy is if they came already installed. As it is, hook-up takes only seconds ? and set-up takes no time at all. Silver Series brushless ESCs do it automatically on hook-up, and offer the option to use brake (or not) with a flick of the throttle stick. And with seven affordable models to choose from, there's a Silver Series ESC for almost any airplane and brushless motor combination.

    • Compatible with LiPo, NiCd and NiMH batteries for maximum versatility.
    • Ready to use, with leads and Deans® Ultra Plug® Connector, gold-plated bullet plugs for motor and universal radio connectors already attached.
    • No set-up. Detects starting voltage at hook-up ? and sets the low-voltage cutoff automatically!
    • Superbly smooth, precise and responsive throughout the throttle range. Transition from instant full-power thrust to all-power off in the same heartbeat and enjoy longer flights and cooler operation in the long haul.
    • BECs deliver true rated current and the extra amps that digital servos ? or extra-servo setups ? require. (Except SS-45D & SS-60)
    • Brake/No Brake operation. Stop folding props cold ? or let fixed props freewheel.
    • Protect pilot, plane and ESC with Safe Start programming, and automatic heat and current overload features.


    FINAL ASSEMBLY





    In preparing the canopy of the Yak-55M, I decided to install the optional 1/5th scale pilot figure. The provided canopy floor is prepared by attaching the dash sticker and the pilot can be glued on with some medium CA. The whole assembly can then be installed and glued in place from the bottom of the canopy. The completed canopy really looks great with the 1/5th pilot figure. 






    As mentioned before, the cowl is attached to the fuselage using magnets attached to an inner wooden ring. Do a test fit first to make sure that all four magnets are making contact. I noticed I had to move a portion of the inner ring a little close to the edge of the cowl to make a perfect fit. Since it is attached with CA, it is relatively easy to break the original bond, move it a little and then fix it in place with some thin CA. The engine grill can then be cut and glued to the cowling. Make sure you place the spinner backplate on the motor to determine how much of the grill you need to cut. I used a rotary grinder to get as close to a perfect circle as possible after making the center cut.






    With everything in place, the final bit of assembly is to mount the 12x6E propeller to the motor and attach the spinner. With the battery placed midway in the fuselage, the Yak-55M balanced very close to the recommended CG. The completed Yak55 looks fantastic and I cant wait to get her in the air.





    The maiden flight of the Yak-55M happened to land on a nice but windy day for Houston. The Yak-55M fits nicely in the back of my SUV so I do not have to take the wings off for transportation. However field assembly would be very easy as the supplied aluminum wing bolts are very easy to work with and you only need to make two servo connections to get the Yak-55M ready to fly. 

    Once at the field, I strapped in the 4S2200mAh battery in the center position and rolled the Yak-55M around the runway a little bit to observe its ground handling capabilities. The Yak-55M is very responsive on the ground and can be taxied without fear of tipping over. With all of the pre-flight checks done, I lined the Yak-55M on the top of the runway and started to apply throttle. Within a few feet, the tail lifted off and she was airborne. Coming out of the first turn, I had to apply a few clicks of right and down trim to get her to fly level. Once that was done, I started to realize how nicely the Yak-55M cuts through the air. The recommended S3150 servos do a great job of controlling the surfaces and what you end up with is a very precise airframe that stays where you put it and flies straight and true no matter what the orientation is. 

    After taking it easy for five minutes or so on the first battery and doing some simple loops, rolls and stall turns, I decided to land and check how much was left in the battery. I lined the Yak-55M with the runway and reduced the throttle and allowed it to gently glide in for a very soft landing on the mains. Very nice, I thought to myself. After checking the battery, I noticed that I had used approximately ~%65 of the battery so I decided to set my timer to 6 minutes overall.

    On subsequent flights, I started to really enjoy what the Yak-55M was capable of. Quick rolls are very axial, point rolls can be performed very precisely and slow rolls only require small inputs from rudder and elevator to keep the fuselage tracking straight throughout the maneuver. I found my self constantly over correcting as I tried to perform precise maneuvers and realized that the Yak-55M only needs the slightest touch. Even against a fairly strong 10-15mph wind, the Yak-55M flew very straight and precise and did not get thrown around like a smaller electric would. Knife edge flight had very little coupling towards the canopy which I easily mixed out and it was a true pleasure to fly the Yak-55M on its side all across the runway with nothing but the rudder. 

    Even though there is a reference to 3D rates in the manual, the Yak-55M is not a 3D airframe. I was however able to end up performing some very nice rolling harriers which especially looked good coming out of fast rolling circles. The limited throw on the rudder and the speed of the S3150 servos limit the amount of hoverbatics that Yak-55M can perform but again, that is not what this airframe was designed for. The Yak-55M also allows you to perform some very nice avalanches. 

    That day, we also had our friend Robert show up who is one of the better IMAC pilots that I know. I handed him control of the Yak-55M and let him take her up for three flights. It was a pleasure to watch Robert fly the Yak-55M as it was meant to be flown, fast and precise. Robert also commented on how precise the airframe allowed him to perform vertical climbs and rolls. Robert also performed some of the best looking flat turns I've seen being flown on a small electric while alternating from upright to inverted which unfortunately did not make it in the video.

    There is no doubt in my mind that this Yak-55M will be my one of my favorite airplanes going forward.

    Check out the video to see her in action!






    Yak-55M (Pilots: Burc Simsek, Robert Bryant - Stills & Video: Burc Simsek and David Smith)
    Download the Video (30.2MB)
    CLICK HERE


















    With every new airframe that comes to market these days claiming that it is 3D capable, it is nice to see an airframe that is specifically designed for precision. As advertised, the Yak-55M flies like a larger airplane, and with a 50.5" wingspan, is not really that small in reality. It is very precise and goes where you point it. 

    Regarding its durability, in one of my flights, I was not paying attention to the timer and hit the LVC. I was too far out to make it back safely to the runway so I decided to land it in the uncut grass. When the main gears hit, the Yak-55M came to an immediate halt and toppled over. I was pleased to see that there was no damage at all to the airframe from this minor incident. Of course this is not to say that the Yak-55M would survive undamaged from a more forceful impact after all it is a very light balsa airframe and not meant to be crash landed. But from what I have seen so far, it is one of my sturdier airframes.

    Overall, I am very pleased with both the looks and the performance of the Yak-55M. I think the optional pilot figure is a must for this airframe as it really pushes the scale looks over the top. The color scheme that was chosen is very visible on both sides, and the airframe can do any aerobatic maneuver you can throw at it. Having such a surgical instrument that is easy to transport, setup and fly will certainly push me to expand my piloting skills in the precision department. 

    Great job ElectriFly!




    Welcome to Hobby People Stores!
    Distributed exclusively by
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Phone: (800) 338-4639
    www.electrifly.com



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    Comments on RCU Review: ElectriFly E-Performance Series Yak-55M

    Posted by: kochj on 04/11/2011
    Best electric plane out right now... in this size. If Gp would get rid of the plastic control horns and music wire control rods, and replace them with un-dated stuff...It would be THE best..
    Posted by: p0stal on 04/19/2011
    Really easy build. Great looking also. tracks like it on rails. getting the cg neutral took some work... but once the cg is right this thing fly's itself. sweet bird I give it A 9 for scale acrobat.
    Posted by: bbobbitt on 10/26/2011

    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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