|Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: March 2005 | Views: 79583 | Email this Article
A Horizon Hobby, Inc. Brand
Horizon Hobby, Inc.
Champaign, IL 61822
Toll-Free: (800) 338-4639
the Super Decathlon
over weight specification
power in cold climates
seeing this great looking plane in the magazine and on-line
promotions, I decided to review the ParkZone Super Decathlon
RTF plane. The covering scheme not only looked fantastic but
it is just the right combination of colors that I love to
see for great flying orientation!
won't need anything to get this plane up and into the sky.
ParkZone has included everything right in the box.
are the features of the Super Decathlon:
Realistic features and scale appearance
elevator, rudder, and throttle
Flight Control System allows users to fly in two modes
components needed for flight are included in one box so
you can get up and fly fast!
flight characteristics allow you to do large field moves
within a small field of space
27 MHz proprietary radio system with Rx/speed control module
and separate 5-wire servo motors
wing with scale wing struts
370 class motor with large propeller
steel landing gear, including wheel pants
Span: 35.4 in (900mm)
Overall Length: 25.3 in (640mm)
Flying Weight: 16oz (450g)
Motor Size: 370 class with gearbox
Radio: Proportional 3-channel FM
Trim Scheme Colors: Red Fuselage - Blue Trim with white
Recommended Battery: 8.4 V 600 mAh Ni-MH
Approx. Flying Duration: 13 minutes
Approx. Assembly Time: 5 minutes
Transmitter Range: 2500 feet (762m)
Available Frequencies: 6 Frequencies on 27 MHz
Smart Trak: No
Charger: DC Peak
Landing Gear: Stainless steel with wheel pants
you need is supplied in the box. This includes the RTF plane,
transmitter, flight pack, peak charger, and support hardware.
The box even includes AA-size batteries for the transmitter!
takes longer to charge the 7-cell, 600mAh NiMH flight pack
than it does to assemble the plane. I simply installed the
eight AA batteries into the transmitter and then pushed
on the pre-finished landing gear into the fuselage bottom.
control linkage comes ready to go on the lowest throw setting.
Since the transmitter has a dual-rate switch, I decided
to increase the throw range by moving both the elevator
and rudder clevises to the 3rd hole from the end of the
control horns. The clevis was re-adjusted outward (by unscrewing
it a few turns) to re-center the control surfaces after
first centering the transmitter trim tabs.
look around the fuselage reveals the radio components and
geared power system
look inside the fuselage reveals the radio components. The
ESC is integrated with the receiver in an assembly that
can be pulled up for changing the jumper settings. The Super
Decathlon stock settings were what I wanted to use so no
jumpers needed to be changed.
settings were provided for the following features:
1- Mix of Elevator and Rudder:
You can add the jumper to utilize software that will allow
a slight mix of elevator and rudder. In this mode, when
rudder input is given, a slight amount of up elevator is
added. By doing this, the nose of the airplane will be more
likely to stay up when rudder input is given.
This can be of great help to pilots that are transitioning
from 2 to 3 channel aircraft and are not used to pitch control.
2 - V-Tail/Standard Tail:
Tail control: Your Super Decathlon comes with the plane
set for conventional T tail control. If you
remove the jumper, you will switch the control to V
tail function. This would allow you to transfer the radio
system to a V tailed aircraft, such as the ParkZone
Slo-V, or elevon equipped aircraft such as the ParkZone
3 - Auto Cutoff:
Auto Cut-Off: Your Super Decathlon comes with the jumper
included in the third port. This sets the auto cut-off to
function with 6-8 cell Ni-MH battery packs. If you remove
the jumper, the auto cut-off will function with a 9 cell
Ni-MH battery pack or a 3S LiPo battery pack.
When your Super Decathlon goes into auto cut-off, prepare
to land immediately. You will maintain control of steering
and pitch, but not have access to throttle at this time.
You can blip the throttle to try to re-arm,
but only attempt this once as you are preparing to land.
was happy to see that the flight pack was positioned
near the CG. This meant that a change in the pack weight
by changing cell type or battery technology would have
little impact on the balance.
the plane was suppose to weigh 16oz (flying weight),
I measured 15.6oz for the empty plane and 3.6oz for
the 7-cell, 600mAh NiMH pack. My plane weighed 19.2oz
ready to fly. This additional 20% in weight could play
a factor in how well the plane performed with a geared
Speed 370 (aka Speed 300) power system.
Super Decathlon was ready to fly before the battery finished
charging. It looked great right out of the box and I was
anxious to give it a test fly. The wing measured 35"
by 6" so the wingarea was about 210 sq. in. The wingloading
would be 19.2/(210/144) or 13oz/sq. ft. which is a bit high,
but functional, for a geared Speed 300 plane.
maiden flight was on a cold grey day with temperatures around
flew the Super Decathlon on a cold grey day with a moderate
wind. The temperature was around 35 degrees F. The wind
seemed to change directions and the speed was 5-15mph. Obviously,
these conditions were less than desired.
my maiden flight, I was both impressed and a bit disappointed.
I was impressed that the plane flew straight with neutral
trim settings on the control surfaces and transmitter trim
tabs. Since most of the flight was at full power, I was
a bit disappointed in the power system.
I knew that the plane would fly better under nicer weather
conditions, I decided to investigate the power system.
single screw holds the cowl in place along with some double-sided
tape on the sides
prop removes easy by pulling off the spinner and unscrewing
the nut. The cowl can be removed with a single screw after
first peeling off the black sticker. The side decals must
be either cut or peeled back. I choose to cut mine at the
cowl edge. The cowl sides must be pulled out to break the
hold of the double-sided tape.
power system looked neat and easy to repair. Note that the
motor is reversed so that it can still spin in the forward
(CCW) direction in the gearbox. I thought this was a clever
0.1oz nut was wedged onto a plastic post in
the front of the cowl. This was most likely
a fine adjustment to the CG. Since my plane
flew perfectly straight when the control surfaces
were at neutral, I feel that ParkZone did a
good job in both balancing the plane and obtaining
the correct thrust angle.
noticed that my prop was not perfectly balanced
so I added a small piece of masking tape to
the back side of one blade. This eliminated
the "double vision" seen when watching
the prop from the side at full throttle and
also reduced the vibration felt from the fuselage.
I could not easily measure the current with the 7-cell,
600mAh NiMH pack, I decided to put the front end back together
and give it another test flight. Perhaps I would see more
power once the NiMH pack and gearbox had a few flights on
found a way to connect my watt meter using a series of adapters.
The stock ParkZone connectors are not my normal choice for
stock setup measured as follows using the 3.6oz, 600mAh,
5.8amps, 43 watts, stock prop (perhaps an 8x6)
43 watts, GWS 9x4.7 SF prop
47 watts, GWS 10x4.7 SF prop
essense, the stock setup, although properly designed, is
a bit low in power for this plane at 36 watts/lb. The change
to a GWS 10x4.7 prop provides an additional 10% more power
but also taxes the motor more. This may be ok due to in-flight
unloading of about 10%.
also tried a few 2-cell Lithium packs with the GWS 10x4.7
6.3amps, 40 watts using 3.0oz Kokam 1500mAh pack
40 watts using 1.6oz ThunderPower 860mAh pack
the two Lithium packs I tested, the lighter weight ThunderPower
pack reduces the flying weight by 2oz or about 11% at 17.2oz.
the plane would certainly fly easier in a calm summer morning,
the cold temperatures in a New England winter season put
greater demands on the power system. Perhaps a GWS 10x8
prop combined with a lighter 2-cell Lithium pack would supply
the easiest upgrade for increased power and reduced weight.
The upgraded power system could deliver about 50 watts/lb.
with a lighter wingloading.
Super Decathlon sat on the frozen tundra of
upstate NY waiting for better weather conditions.
It was -1 degree F at the time and I wasn't
about to test fly it with the larger GWS 10x4.7
SF prop until it got warmer.
the weekend weather was much better! It was 28 degrees outside
with an easterly wind about 8-10mph. I had a relatively
clear parking lot at work on the weekend, which was mostly
snow free, so I ROG'ed it right from the pavement and easily
cleared the 8' snow banks created from plowing earlier in
finally had a good time with my Super Decathlon! I took
off into the wind with authority and I could throttle back
for some cruising around. After flying for about 5 minutes,
I decided to bring it in early so that I had enough power
for a safety pull-out, if needed. I managed to land the
plane right in the small parking lot without incident so
I took a chance and ROG'd it a second time, again with no
problem. After a few quick circles, I came in for a second
near perfect landing. Landings seemed very easy by simply
reducing throttle and watching the plane slowly descend
into the parking lot area. As the plane approached the ground,
I flared the elevator up a bit.
didn't have any problem with ground clearance when using
my 10x4.7 prop but the landing gear mains are a bit soft
requiring a reasonably soft approach. Overall, I walked
away pleased with the model and decided it was time to take
the video of the Super Decathlon
The video of me flying the Super Decathlon is stock
except for the GWS 10x4.7 SF prop. Since the parking
lot where I flew yesterday was loaded with cars, I
had to hand toss it in the field across the street.
The plane has sufficient power now in cold weather
to fly and a reasonable flight time. We don't get
much sun this time of year so I really enjoyed flying
Power System Modification:
stock motor was replaced with a Venom Fireball 370P motor
a tip from a fellow RCU member, I decided to try a Venom
VMG Fireball Micro 370P Motor from Tower Hobbies.
new measurements with the Venom Fireball 370P motor show
that it is only a slightly hotter wind. The construction
looked similar to the stock Speed 300 motor although the
Venom Fireball motor did have additional cooling vents in
the case which cleared the stock gearbox. This should provide
excellent cooling when pushing the motor for better performance.
Venom Fireball setup measured as follows using the stock
3.6oz, 600mAh, 7-cell pack:
6.3amps, 47 watts, stock 8x4 prop
47 watts, GWS 9x4.7 SF prop
52 watts, GWS 9x7 SF prop
motor swap did require the use of a pinion puller and some
green Locktite to keep the original pinion gear on the new
Fireball motor. This is not the easiest modification for
people to attempt so I recommend caution. The result appears
to be an increase of about 5 watts using a smaller GWS 9x7
prop which will help with ground clearance.
ParkZone Super Decathlon is a great-looking model that comes
in a complete Ready-To-Fly (RTF) package. The plane is RTF
in less time than it takes to charge the battery. I did
find the weight of the plane to be well over the manufacturer's
specification. The additional 20% in weight, combined with
the cold winter climate of upstate NY, created a marginal
amount of power requiring full throttle for most of the
flight. A simple prop change to a larger size produced much
better results without undue stress on the motor. Additional
modifications were tested and are listed below in order
Swap stock 8x4 prop with 10x4.7 SF prop for 10% increase
stock 7-cell battery with 2-cell Lithium pack for 11%
decrease in weight
stock motor with Venom Fireball 370P and 9x7 SF prop for
a 21% increase in power
my model required a minor increase in power to fly well
in cold weather conditions, I would recommend that you fly
it stock first before considering any modifications. Whether
airborne or on the ground, I love the look of my Super Decathlon!
It flies well in a small field and transports easily when
I see a good weather report in the morning before going
landing gear mains are a bit flexible requiring a soft landing.
If they do get bent, it is easy to straighten them out and
they can be removed from the fuselage with just a tug. The
rest of the plane is very rugged and the wing struts prevent
any warping in flight. The solid structure produces very
stabile flight at both low and high speeds. Since the plane
flies true to its scale heritage, I recommend it for intermediate
to advanced fliers only. The Super Decathlon is a good way
for seasoned pilots to enjoy a stress-free outing in the
backyard or just down the street!
A Horizon Hobby, Inc. Brand
Horizon Hobby, Inc.
Champaign, IL 61822
Toll-Free: (800) 338-4639
Horizon Hobby, Inc.
4105 Fieldstone Road
Champaign, IL 61822
Toll-Free: (800) 338-4639
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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