RCU Review: The Wing Maker Commander EP


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    Contributed by: Laurent Caekebeke | Published: August 2013 | Views: 15028 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of the Wings Maker DF032

    • The power system - very powerful and efficient
    • The flight envelope - the perfect aerobatic tutor!
    • The look
    • Overall quality

    • It would be real plus if the stickers were applied by the manufacturer, or at least pre-cut.
    • The canopy magnet are not strong enough and it will pop in flight on hard snap-roll.
    • Out of balance spinner
    Precision aerobatic is without a doubt one of the most challenging and demanding disciplines in RC flying airplane. It is not a question of being bold and doing inverted flight right above the runway or torque-rolls with the rudder touching the grass ? that can be left to the skilled 3D pilots. Precision aerobatics, or pattern aerobatic, is about announcing what you will be performing and delivering it with perfection. In a sense, we could compare pattern planes to classical music, where the partitions are well known, and the orchestra has to reproduce it, respecting every note, every pause, and every emotion that could be embedded in the masterpiece.

    When you want to perform at this level, you need a meticulously designed plane, and the high-end ones tend to come with high price tags. Wings Maker decided to build a plane which incorporates numerous qualities these high-end pattern planes have without the hefty price tag. This affordable model is named the Commander, which we are reviewing today.  


    The transportation box is simple, with a picture of the finish plane glued on the front. Keep the picture! It will come handy when it will be time to stick on all the decals.


    The package is dense, with little-to-no space left between parts. Less volume means less packaging which reduces the transportation cost and helps protect the environment! Let's encourage the manufacturers to use this type of packaging.

    Here is what you will find in the kit: 

    • all the main body parts (fuselage, wings, canopy, tail) 
    • langing gears, 
    • stickers, 
    • battery attachments,
    • spinner,
    • The motor and servos are already glued in place.
    • manual
    Manufacturer Information
    Price:
    Kit: $89.99
    Pre-assembled Combo: $159.99

    Description:
    Features:
    - The plane that truly follows your command.
    - You owe yourself a Commander to prove that you can fly just as good as the guy out there.
    - Doing perfect loops or axial rolls will no longer be a challenge.
    - Symmetrical airfoil wings with precision control surfaces for F3A maneuvers.
    - Carbon fiber wing joiner and landing gear for optimum performance.
    - Plastic hinges specially designed for foam models ensure safe and smooth operation of control surfaces.
    - Powerful outrunner motor (optional) enhance unlimited vertical aerobatic performance.
    - Durable foam construction takes care of un-intentional touch downs.
    - Kit and pre-assembled combo version available.

    Kit requires:
    • Requires : 4 Mini Servos (SV3031),
    • Brushless Outrunner Motor 37/48 Deluxe-750Kv (KM0374811),
    • Propeller Adaptor (HW2340102),
    • 4-channel radio,
    • 40A Brushless ESC,
    • 4 cells 14.8V 3200 mAh Li-Po battery & charger.
    Pre-assembled Combo requires:
    • 4-channel radio,
    • 40A Brushless ESC,
    • 4 cells 14.8V 3200 mAh Li-Po battery & charger
    Specifications:
     
    Wingspan
    52"- 1320mm
    length
    53" - 1345mm
    Weight
    62oz / 1760g
    Battery (recommended)
    3200mAh 4 cells
    ESC (recommended)
    20A
    prop
    11x8
    motor
    brushless 37/48 750Kv
     







    The kit we received came with this note, requesting to replace the washers with wider one. It might be a case of an importer trying to improve the kit, or a temporary manufacturing patch.

    The ESC-to-motor connection is propriatery. The pin used in this connector are standard in diameter, and one could choose not to use the plastic protection.

    The aileron, rudder and elevator hinges are interestingly made. The foam bends to form a sealed hinge all way long, and it is re-enforced with plastics pivot glued in place, as shown on this picture.





    There is an undercut on both side of the fuselage to mount the wing - that is nice and allows for a gapless assembly.
    The tail is ready to receive the rudder and the elevator. Note the servos are already installed by the manufacturer.





    I placed the light in such a way the surface finish would show on the picture. You can see the difference between the top of the stab (right) and the bottom (center). The vents used during the molding process to let the air out of the mold left slight impressions on the parts. There are some way to reduce this effect, but it can hardly be removed entirely. Overall, the parts show a good molding and finition quality.






    Building the Commander is very straight forward, and completing it should cause no trouble at all. All the parts come together easy. There are only three things that I found which could be improved:

    • The manual does not cover the pre-assembled combo version, only the kit version. Therefore, you will have to read through all the steps and check if that step has already been done by the manufacturer. This is particularly cumbersome as the kit comes with a few un-used parts, and I had to read through the manual several times to ensure I did not miss a step during the assembly.
    • The stickers! The pleasure to add the final touches on the plane quickly faded when I realized that every single piece of decal had to be cut and applied individually. We are looking roughly at a couple of hours of work for any one with two useable hands. The end results, I have to admit, is quite pleasing.
    • The washer for the prop is too thick and will have to be replaced with a thinner one.

    Every thing else is very straightforward and will not cause any issues for anyone who has built an ARF before. Only a few parts had to be glued in place. I recommend using CA and kicker for all needed gluing where foam is involved - epoxy will just not bound well on this foam.



    The only left thing to do to install the landing gear is the mounting onto the fuselage with 4 screws. Easy!



    The canopy/battery hatch provides a fairly wide access to the fuselage. There is a lot of room, so installing the radio, the ESC and the battery is very easy. I found the model CG to be right when the 3300mAh battery was placed just behind the motor.


    The motor washers before replacement (left), while being replaced (top) and after replacement (right).

    One advice: replace them one by one, so the motor stays in place and you won't have to re-align it.

     



    The propeller washer is too thick for the collet length. There is barely enough threaded length for a nut. However, the nut used with no washer would be too small for the prop, and it will bite into the plastic with time. I use a thin washer, and it was fine.
    Some soldering was required to mount the propriatery connector onto the ESC.Better not forget to slide the lower part of the connector before soldering the female socket.The finish connector is pretty clean. Note that it can be plugged backward as well, so the direction of rotation can be adjusted at a later time.

    The ailerons servo are mounted, with the linkage already installed. They were pulled out here to have a look at the servo itself. No problem there, all is firmly attached.

    The two half-wings are held together with a rubber band. It doesn't have to be super-tight. Here is an easy three steps to put it on. Start with the provided rubber band folded in two, and put it on the front side of the hooks, which are easily accessible. No need to fold the rubber band in three or four, two is already good enough.
    Once you have the rubber band on one side of the two wooden hooks, just slide your finger under the top part of the rubber, and bring it to the other side.

    Now bring the other side of the rubber band underneath the second hook, and you are done.
    (And I am very glad I have pictures to explain that!)



    The flight recorder shows current spikes up to 52A, and averaging 48A at full throttle.
    This is very comparable to the measurement made on the ground (46A).



    After taking some time capturing still shots of the plane on the runway and admiring how the Commander indeed looks like a modern pattern plane, it was time to let the electrons flows, and get the plane airborne.
    The tail wheel does a good job at steering the plane on the ground, and taxiing the Commander on the runway is very easy. It is better to keep some up elevator to firmly keep the tail on the ground. The plane is very light, and lifts off very easily.

    Take-off happens at around 20ft at half-throttle, with no tendency to veer to the right or the left. This is a nice feature as it reduces the work load for the pilot. The plane required only four clicks down on the elevator to fly neutral, and one click to the left on the ailerons.

    The Commander is very well behaved and accepts to be slowed down without showing any intention to stall?its light weight and large wings must have something to do with that. Inverted flight tells us that the recommended center of gravity is right, since only light pressure on the stick is required to keep the plane level. It might be pushed a little rearward to improve the controllability when flying at a high angle, but not much further. This is not a 3D plane!

    It is time to test the plane against its vocation: being a precision aerobatic plane for wannabe pattern pilots! The aerobatic figures follow one another with ease. The plane recovers from all manoeuvers quickly. To get out of a spin, the pilot just needs to center the stick, and the plane centers almost immediately.
    The knife edges are as simple as it gets: the Commander has no tendency to roll in or out of it. The pilot only has to focus on the rudder and the throttle to keep them straight and leveled. With the rudder on the highest rate, it will even be possible to pass a loop on the edge.
    Snap-rolls are sharp and clean. It takes practice to stop at the position we want the plane to be, but that is true for any plane. The little something that bothered me is that the canopy has tendency to fly off on very hard snap-rolls. I eventually used tape to hold it in place after being tired to walking across the field to retrieve it, and that fixed the issue.

    Most of the flight happens with the throttle between 1/3 and 2/3. Only the fast climbs are done at full throttle. There is more than enough power to fly all standard figures properly. The airframe is very efficient, the low drag helps reducing the power consumption. All flights were done with the timer on the radio set to 7mn. The charger consistently charged the battery back to 3300mAh by injecting around 1600-1800mAh. That is very safe on the Lipo! There is one thing to notice however: the manual recommends a 40A ESC, and the current log clearly shows that this is exceeded every time the plane is going at full throttle, whether it was level or going vertical. (see chart below)

    After a couple of flights, an odd sound started coming from of the motor, and it quickly became a nasty vibration. The spinner and propeller assembly was oscillating so badly the throttle had to be cut, and the plane was dead-stick landed. The prop was balanced, the motor inspected and tightened, the shaft measured for wobbling and the spinner thoroughly checked, but nothing helped: as soon as the spinner was put back on, the whole rotating assembly was oscillating. I even bought a new spinner from another brand, just to end up with the exact same issue. Eventually, I used the propeller directly mounted on the hub without the spinner and it worked fine. That is how I fly the plane now - a little less pleasing for the eyes, but far more the ears!

    We are lucky enough to have a very wide hard runway for our reviews, so there is no need to take off from grass. The commander EP 40 has fairly small wheels, with low wheel pants, and despite of that, I believe the power is there to lift the plane off any surface, including grass. As long as the propeller does not have to cut its way through the grass, that is!










    The Wings Maker Commander EP40












    The Commander EP 40 reached its goal of being an introductory airplane to aerobatic pattern flying. It flies great, and has the power to perform all maneuvers in the book. The model is strong and will take a few "learning mishaps" for the pilot to fly it like a pro.

    There are a few details that we would like to see improved, and we can only encourage the Wings Maker to build from the knowledge gained with this already good plane and propose many more pattern planes in the future. The Wings Maker Commander EP 40 is a plane that will help any intermediate pilot sharpening their aerobatic skill, it is easy to build and very robust. And, at a recommended price of $159 for the pre-assembled combo, it is hard to compete with!
     



    Flyzone Home Page


    Pictures and videos were shot at:
    http://www.bayoucityflyers.com/



    Comments on RCU Review: The Wing Maker Commander EP

    Posted by: Fixit49 on 11/23/2013
    Great review I was in the market for a inexpensive beginners pattern aircraft and this fits the build exactly. A plus is I can fly it at more fields because it is electric.
    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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