RCU Review: Fliton Icon 312


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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: February 2005 | Views: 37969 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

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    Manufacturer Info



    4790 Irvine Blvd.
    Suite 105-299
    Irvine, CA 92620
    (P) 888.473.0856
    (F) 888.473.0856
    http://www.fliton.com




    Hits
    • Stunning Appearance
    • Custom ARF composites
    • Great Flight Performance


    Misses
    • Needs Brushless Power
    • Original Gear Mains were weak but Fliton has changed composite material mixture to add strength



    Introduction

    The Fliton ICON 312 is a 95% pre-built covered-balsa design meant for 3D flying. It is built lighter than previous models and comes with pre-painted cowl, canopy, and wheel pants. The ICON 312 is produced with carefully selected high quality AAA balsa and covered with Oracover from Germany.



    Specifications


    Kit Name: ICON 312
    Manufacturer:
    Fliton

    Wingspan:
    37.6" (955mm)
    Length:
    35.9" (912mm)
    Weight:
    16oz (455g) w/o battery

    4-channel using 4 sub-micro servos
    geared Speed 300/400 or 200 watt brushless power system

    Features:

    • Step-by-step manual
    • Custom Decals
    • Interlocking Joints
    • All laser-cut AAA premium balsa
    • Sealed Seam Oracover
    • Molded Plastics, custom gear mains
    • Duralumin linkage horns

    Assembly

    The model comes very well wrapped and protected in the box. The parts are pre-fabricated, pre-covered, and pre-painted. Note that the underside of the plane has a contrasting color scheme for easy orientation during 3D maneuvers.

    A generous decal sheet allows you to custom finish the plane for a spectacular look! The kit comes complete with wheels, fiberglass pants, and custom gear mains. The fuselage is built extremely light with a mixture of light plywood and balsa. The ICON 312 has a beautiful turtle deck made from sheeted balsa.


    The one-piece wing has a contrasting color scheme in the covering. The ailerons are easily connected by wicking a few drops of thin CA onto the pre-cut fiber hinge material.

    A look at some of the supplied hardware reveals the four Duralumin linkage horns. I needed to slightly enlarge the holes in the horns before the control rod "Z" bend would fit. Note that easy links are supplied for the servo end. All four control rods come pre-bent and cut in the kit. This was a nice added touch by Fliton!

    Although some drilling was needed to mount the wheels, pants, and gear mains, the result was a spectacular look!

    The tail assembled easy but I found the images reversed in the instruction manual for many parts and for placement of the control horns. It was obvious from the pre-installed control rods where the horns should actually be placed so I will suggest to install the metal rods first. The instruction manual may already be corrected by the time this review is published.

    The pre-bent tailwire installed by drilling a hole into the angled bottom piece of the fuselage. I glued it in place with 5-minute epoxy.


    Initially, I used a geared Razor 400 motor and GWS EPS-350C gearbox. To eliminate the characteristic orange prop, I used a Wattage 10x4.5 prop from Hobby People. These props use the same footprint as the GWS prop and are used on the Live Wire power system. I later discovered that this motor was not sufficient power to provide 3D performance.

    I found the 3-cell ThunderPower 2100mAh pack fits very well after a small cut on the balsa motor mount post.



    Flight Time

    My ICON was Ready-To-Fly at 20oz with a 5oz 3-cell ThunderPower 2100 pack.

    I checked the CG before flight, and, although it was tail-heavy, we decided to try it anyway since most of my 3D planes are tail-heavy. It turned out to be excessively tail-heavy as the elevator was difficult to control. We measured 115mm back from the LE at the fuselage. The manufacturer recommends 95-100mm back from the LE.

    The manual has no reference for where to place the battery but there is only one obvious place where it will fit. The rear motor mount fits into a custom cut slot in the fuselage so it will be important to know that this slot must not be used. The rear stick holder is too far aft which forces the battery in a small area that cannot be moved.

    My guess is that the position may have been designed with a heavier brushed Speed 300 or Speed 400 motor in mind. The lighter brushless motor made the plane tail-heavy.

    I plan to cut the stick 1" shorter and move the rear mounting plate 0.5"-0.75" forward. This will allow my 3-cell ThunderPower 2100 pack to move up to 1" forward to balance the CG. I will let you know how it works out and post some photos.

    Shown in the photo is my modified battery compartment. I supported the balsa stick about 1" forward with some balsa sheets and then cut out the original plywood brace with a Dremel tool. My 3-cell ThunderPower pack was moved an inch forward.

     

     

     

     

    After a second flight test using the new CG setting, we decided that the Razor 400 motor is too light and does not have sufficient power for 3D maneuvers. This is likely the reason that I was so tail-heavy, even after moving the pack forward. I am still about 15mm away from the manufacturer's recommendation.

    The Razor 400 weighs about 1oz and the Razor 2500 about 2oz. An extra ounce in the nose along with more power is what this plane needs.

    I upgraded my ICON 312 power system to a Lehner 1020/15 motor. The Lehner 1020 series is a 300 watt class "top of the line" motor available at Bishop Power Products. It is similar to the Razor 2500 but can sustain more continuous current. Notice that it fits into the same GWS EPS-350C gearbox and therefore the same motor mount.

    The new motor/ESC/gearbox and 11x4.7 prop combination weighs 4.6oz compared to the lighter 3.0oz Razor 400 setup using the 10x4.5 black Wattage prop. This extra 1.6oz allowed me to balance perfectly from 96-106mm depending upon the pack position.

    The Cobri Aluminum Gearbox has a sturdy aluminum case will not warp under heavy 3D stress and strip the nylon gears like the GWS plastic gearbox.

    The Cobrii 20 Aluminum Gearbox is possibly the best spur/pinion GB ever made for our hobby and is one of the best upgrades you can do for serious 3D flying! The gearbox is precision CNC machined from T6061 Aluminum and fitted with a Stainless steel hardened shaft. The Cobri 20 fits Lehner 10xx/xx series, Hacker B20L & S series, Astro 010 & 020 series, Himax 2015 & 2025 series, Elight Park 370 & 400 series, Razor 300, 350, 400, 2500, Mamba & Nemesis brushless motors. The sturdy aluminum case will not warp under heavy 3D stress and strip the nylon gears like the GWS plastic gearbox.

    As seen in the photo, my APC 11x4.7 SF prop still has 1.5" ground clearance when the fuselage is parallel to the ground.

    The ICON does appear to slow down much better than the Flubber, which is a nice characteristic for 3D flying. I recommend a lower pitch prop like the 11x4.7 SF prop instead of a 10x7 prop. The current draw is similar but the reduced pitch speed and increased thrust is better for 3D.

    We had some excellent weather on Friday so I took some video of the maiden flight on my ICON with the Lehner power system upgrade. We were on a private grass flying field so I had to hand launch it first time on video with the new power system. I got caught off-guard as the plane had so much power that it ripped out of my hand before I could toss it. I managed to save it as it veered one way and then the other and finally when up. In hindsight, I should have only used half throttle. Since everything worked out well, the launch seemed rather humorous!

    About this time in the flight testing series, we had broken the gear mains several times now on what should have been acceptable landings. I felt that the material used in the mold was the real issue and submitted my findings directly to Fliton. After further testing, Fliton promptly changed the material used to make the custom gear mains. The quick solution from Fliton was further proof of their commitment to quality! See the summary section for replacement or spares information.

    I liked the way the ICON flew. My plastic GWS EPS-300C gearbox will need to be replaced with my new aluminum Cobri gearbox soon. I decided to wait until it was needed.


    Watch the video of the ICON 312

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