RCU Review: Ultra RC Icepoint E-Conversion


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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: June 2005 | Views: 33810 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

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    Manufacturer Info



    Ultra-RC, LLC.
    250 Old Marlton Pike
    Medford, NJ 08055
    609.714.0040 (v)
    800.567.4079 (f)

    www.ultra-rc.com
    sales@ultra-rc.com




    Hits
    • Complete RTF package
    • Well integrated design with one-piece wing and superb fiberglass belly pan
    • Flies great even in wind
    • Easy to see orientation in flight
    • Excellent value for FAI competition


    Misses
    • Wheels rubbed on pants
    • Elevator "Y" linkage installation


    Introduction


    Ultra-RC has a fantastic looking 2-meter pattern plane called the Icepoint. The design was based upon the success of their 3D Quest, to cater to the flyers wanting a cost effective alternative to the more expensive artistic freestyle type designs. The construction consists of the traditional ?built-up? balsa and ply techniques but the building time is greatly reduced as the wing is pre-mounted, joined, and, glassed. The stabilizer is an adjustable two-piece design.

    The Icepoint hovers and 3D?s very well, but you have the best of both worlds in that it flies competitive FAI with the best of them. A key trademark of this plane is that it is very light and has superior knife edge performance with very little (if any) knife edge coupling required. Although the model is typically powered by a YS 1.40 or OS 1.60, I will be converting it to clean, quiet, and, most importantly, highly reliable electric power!



    Specifications


    Model: Icepoint
    Wingspan: 77.5?
    Wing Area: 1100 sq. in.
    Ready-to-fly weight: 9 - 10 lbs.
    Length: 78.75?

    Includes:

    • Pre-built & covered wings, tail assemblies, and fuselage
    • All necessary hardware including pushrods, landing gear, wheels, servo trays, wing joiners, and a photo illustrated instruction manual.

    Read Eric "Evil" Henderson's review of the Icepoint
    powered by a OS 1.60 FX.



    E-Conversion Power System

    Special Features:

    • Construction: Laser-cut balsa & plywood construction.
    • Wings: Once piece wing (pre-joined, glassed, and pre-mounted) and built- up two ? piece stabilizer.
    • Double beveled control surfaces.
    • Covering: Factory applied Oracover covering with vinyl graphics.
    • Belly Pan / Cowl: Precision matched pre-painted fiberglass.
    • Wheel Pants: Pre-painted fiberglass.
    • Canopy: Pre-formed and tinted.
    • Landing Gear: Molded pre-painted composite. (Fixed to the fuselage)
    • Dual Aileron Servos / Pull-Pull Rudder
    • Hinge Slots: Pre-slotted for ?easy-type? CA hinges
    • Building Time: Ready to fly in 10 ? 12 hours.

    Since I won't be competing in FAI world-class competitions, I can take advance of using some cost-effective parts. Typically, the power level requirements for competitive F3A are an incredible 230watts/lb to 250watts/lb! My setup will provide about 160-170 watts/lb which will reduce the cost considerably while still providing my Icepoint with an impressive power level for maneuvers.

    Here is my power system setup:

    • Actro 40-4 motor
    • Jeti Advance PLUS 77-amp Opto ESC (modified)
    • FMA SKYVOLTS 8s 3.2AH packs (two 4-cell packs in series)
    • Hitec HS-5645MG Programmable Digital Servos (168oz/in)
    • 6v UBEC
    • APC 16x10 or 17x10 e-prop

    For my initial Icepoint setup, I am trying to extend the operation of the Jeti 77-amp Opto ESC by using a few suggestions from our friend in Finland, Hannu Vuorinen. In order to push the Jeti 77-amp Opto ESC to the limits, I attached an extra 0.1oz finned heatsink using JB Weld.

    First, I removed the shrink wrap (which will help cool things already) and sanded the surfaces of my Jeti heatsink and the finned heatsink. The JB Weld is like a metallic epoxy that dries super hard and is conductive to heat. While this procedure voids the Jeti warranty, I have never needed to return any of my dozens of Jeti ESCs. You can purchase light aluminum heatsinks like this one at Radio Shack or surplus electronics stores.

    The Icepoint has a large belly pan that air flows through for the tuned pipe so I will use this to both hide and cool the modified ESC to provide burst performance up to 2000 watts.

    The BIG Box:

    The Icepoint arrives in one BIG 7' long box! Initially, I thought there may have been shipping damage because the outside box had several large holes in it. After I removed the outer box, I opened the inner box and was surprised to see such amazing quality in the packaging. The inner box was framed with crate wood. The Icepoint fuselage and one-piece wing were tightly wrapped in protective bubble-wrap and then supported by custom foam ends.

    Kit Parts and Quality:

    The model is built strong yet light. I observed no defects in either the construction or finish. The Icepoint construction is highly integrated so there are few parts in the kit.

    The manual was carefully written and contains clear color photos. The Icepoint building time is very short so it can be made ready to fly in only 10 ? 12 hours

    Assembly:

    The Icepoint is designed for a YS 1.40 with a tuned pipe in such a way that only part of the engine resides in the main balsa area.

    To start the assembly, I jumped to my favorite part of mounting the motor. The Icepoint is designed for a YS 1.40 with a tuned pipe in such a way that only part of the engine resides in the main balsa area. This design, combined with sturdy plywood formers, left a smaller than usual space available for an outrunner. Another good choice for this model would be an in-line geared motor like the Hacker B50 or C50 Acro. Fortunately, my Actro 40-4 motor has a thinner profile than the AXI 5330 motor and just fits inside perfectly!

    I started by removing the thin plywood brace across the bottom and marked the position of the plywood mount for my Actro 40-4 motor.




    I mounted my Actro motor using the Actro Rubber Damper Shock Mounts and some 4mm t-nuts for the plywood end.

    I used 4mm nuts with washers on the G-10 (circuit board) end that comes mounted to the Actro motor.

    I ordered a 2-3/4" White CBA Spinner from Tower Hobbies to match the nose. While I wait for my spinner to arrive, I decided to get back on the manual assembly sequence and start the rudder/tailwheel assembly. The tailwheel assembled without issue and the rudder was attached to the vertical stabilizer using the stock CA hinges.

    The rudder uses a pull-pull control system with steel cables. My Hitec HS-5645MG servos provide 168oz/in torque on 6v so i'll have plenty of power and accuracy for my rudder control.

    The elevator assembly is quite easy. I like the idea of hidden control horns from a top view. The elevator was glued in place using two drops of thin CA on each side of the hinges. The seam between the elevator and the stabilizer was straight and tight.

    The Icepoint horns mounted easily by first drilling some pilot holes for the screws and then gluing them in place with either CA or white glue.

    The 6v UBEC is wired in parallel with the battery connector. The higher voltage makes the servos stronger and faster. I add a second layer of shrink tubing around the Dean's Ultra connectors to assist in unplugging them. Typically, I run the output of the UBEC to a Tower Hobbies System 3000 On/Off Switch assembly since it is a "plug-n-play" safety solution. The motor will remain disabled when no voltage is fed to the Opto ESC control inputs.

    The Jeti Advance PLUS ESCs are extremely easy to program. You first set the jumpers on the Programming Card for your preferences, connect the ESC control cable to the Programming Card, and power up the ESC. In about 1 second, the ESC beeps and it is ready to go!

    I mounted the ESC directly in the air flow where the tuned pipe would normally go. A few pieces of plywood were epoxied in place to hold the ESC. An opening cut in the front of the fiberglass bottom will force air through the tuned pipe area cooling both the ESC and the motor.

    For my aileron linkage, I replaced the stock hardware with some Hangar 9 3-1/2" Titanium Pro-Links and 4-40 HD Ball Links. A Hangar 9 3-32 Swivel Clevis Horn was also used along with the Hitec aluminum arm that came with the HS-5645MG servo. The result is a tight and precise linkage that is easily adjustable for fine tuning.

    • HAN3554 Titanium Pro-Links 4-40 x 3-1/2"
    • HAN3614 3-32 Swivel Clevis Horns
    • HAN3616 4-40 HD Ball Links

    I needed to cut some plywood blocks to secure the servo in the bay.

    I used the stock gear mains hardware but ran into a spacing problem when following the assembly technique in the manual. My guess is that the plywood bracing was thicker on my pant set causing the wheel to rub.

    The easy solution was to cut away some of the plywood to allow the nut hub to sink slightly into it. This freed up sufficient space to allow the wheel to spin properly.

    The pants look great and the composite gear mains mounted easily to the fuselage using the supplied t-nuts. After the gear mains were mounted to the fuselage, I positioned the Icepoint on the floor and aligned the pants before drilling the hole for the second set screw. The second screw locks the pant into position.

    The canopy required some cleaning to remove the sticky tape residue before mounting. It mounted easily to the fuselage using the supplied screws.

    I ran the receiver antenna wire into a plastic tube and then inserted the tube into the fuselage.

    To mount the battery packs, I glued some Industrial Strength Velcro pads onto the plywood area at the bottom of the plane meant to house the fuel tank. The two 4-cell Kokam 3.2AH packs fits perfectly in this area and will be easy to recharge by simply removing the fiberglass bottom piece. The two packs plug into a Kokam Series Connector Module to make an 8s configuration that weighs about 1.5lbs.

    The motor, ESC, and battery packs will all be in the air flow from the front opening in the fiberglass cover to the rear opening meant for the tuned pipe.

    I installed some #4 T-nuts in the belly pan for a simple technique to hold it in place. I used a dap of epoxy to help secure the T-nuts. The #4 socket head screws can be tightened (or removed) by finger or a 3mm hex wrench for easy battery swapping in the field.

    Elevator Linkage:

    The elevator "Y" linkage is assembled from a carbon tube and metal rods. I drilled a hole through the carbon tube and then inserted the end of the metal linkage rod which was bent at a 90 degree angle. The two rods were first wrapped by thread and then glued with CA and kicker. I added some heatshrink tubing around the area for additional support.

    To help feed the "Y" linkage assembly through the Icepoint fuselage I first ran some of the Sullivan yellow inner nyrod from the rear of the plane into the open wing saddle area. The nyrod was then screwed onto the metal rod ends of the "Y" linkage after first opening up the center holes with a drill.

    The "Y" linkage was then pulled through the plane out the slots in the rear. Note that by following the pictures in the manual, the "Y" assembly is too long by about 5". This can be easily solved by first measuring the length needed and cutting the carbon center tube shorter by about 5".

    In my case, I will simply cut the metal rod shorter by the elevator servo, bend a right angle into the end and use a snap link to secure the linkage to the elevator servo arm.


    Flight Time

    My Icepoint was ready to fly at 10.43lbs. The plane balanced perfectly at 7.5" back from the leading edge at the root using the two 4-cell Kokam 3.2AH packs.

    Power System Testing:

    Here are my measured weights:

    Plane RTF w/o batteries = 8.81lbs

    Two 4-cell 3.2AH packs = 1.62lbs

    I was able to test the power system on my Icepoint by myself using the Tail Trap from JL Power Products. I measured 2100 watts at 88amps with the APC 19x10 e-prop. This is a bit more than I planned for the Jeti 77-amp ESC so I will reduce the prop size by 1" and re-measure. If I was using the new Jeti 90-amp Advance Plus ESC, then this power level would not be a problem.

    I made some more measurements with difference prop sizes. Unfortunately, I didn't have a 17" prop. I was surprised that the readings were so high with the 18" prop but it was not balanced before testing. The 16" prop was balanced first and seems to fit my target goal of around 1700 watts. Keep in mind that the limitation in my power system is the Jeti 77-amp ESC. Depending upon the flight performance, I can change it out in the future for the new Jeti 90-amp ESC and then push the motor to 2000-2500 watts burst. I will also measure the motor temperature after a flight with the current setup.

    My Icepoint with the 16x10 APC e-prop has about 160 watts per pound.

    • 2100w, 88amps, 19x10 APC e-prop
    • 2000w, 83amps, 18x10 APC e-prop
    • 1900w, 78amps, 17x10 APC e-prop
    • 1650w, 68amps, 16x10 APC e-prop

    Although I forgot my RPM measurements, everything else was perfect for the Icepoint maiden voyages. My pilot was local pattern expert, Scott Miller from the RCCR club.

    We waited for our turn to hit the runway and never looked back!

    After some slight trimming, Scott put the Icepoint through a light workout that lasted about 6 minutes and we brought it back in to measure the pack voltage. We discovered that we used only about 1/2 of the 3.2AH capacity.

    We quickly felt the motor, ESC, and two 4-cell Kokam 3.2AH packs. Nothing was more than warm and the ESC was actually cool. I was very happy!

    Our second flight with the new packs was a bit longer at 8 minutes and Scott made the Icepoint work harder this time. At the end of the flight, the voltage still measured only about 2/3 capacity. This makes the Kokam 3.2AH cell look very promising for FAI competition.

    Scott said that the Icepoint is a magnificent flyer! He said that I need a little more power to match the 1.40-size glow engines used in competition. This will not be a problem because my current limitation in the power system is the Jeti 77-amp ESC (although it seems to be running very cool with my modification) at 1700 watts. By the time this review is published, the new Jeti 90-amp Advance Plus ESC that can handle over 4000 watts will be available at Hobby Lobby.

    Watch the Icepoint in Action

    UltraRC Icepoint Video
    Windows media

    Icepoint - Lost Belly Pan
    Windows media

    Icepoint - Lynn Bowerman Pilot
    Windows media

    During the videos of my UltraRC Icepoint, the winds gusted from 10-15mph so you can see the pilot, Scott Miller, correcting the flight pattern at times. On the second video (which was actually flown first) my belly pan blew off due to the air vacuum created so my hold down technique of using #4 screws and T-nuts was insufficient. We found the belly pan unharmed and I taped it in place for the second flight.


    Skyvolt System Hop-up:

    I was able to beta-test the new Skyvolt system for my Icepoint. The new 4-cell, 3.2AH Kokam packs are pre-wired to a special connector so that each cell can be monitored during charge and discharge for optimal safety, longevity, and investment security. This new approach in Lithium cell safety and protection will be available soon from FMA Direct.

    The Cell Pro 6s Discharge Protection Module (DPM) can monitor up to a 6s Skyvolt pack to provide a warning when the voltage gets low and use any ESC to cut off the voltage to the motor. There are two dip switches on the DPM but Switch #1 currently has no function. The units will work out of the box without doing any setup, but they perform optimally when you tell the units which way low throttle is using Switch #2 and use the learning procedure mentioned in the manual.

    Note that two DPMs can be daisy-chained for up to 12s configurations.

    The Cell Pro Charge Protection Module (CPM) is used with any Lithium charger to monitor individual cell voltages and disconnect the charger when the first cell reaches 4.2v. This extends pack life by preventing overcharging. Note that this does not balance all the cells in the pack, only the Skyvolt Charger (not shown) provides true cell balancing during a charge.

    Here is my Skyvolt system installed in the Icepoint. The packs are mounted as before but they now connect to the Cell Pro 6s Discharge Protection Module (DPM) instead of directly to the ESC. The ESC control line is then routed through the DPM to control the motor shutoff. Since everything is mounted with Velcro, I can easily swap back to my non-Skyvolt packs and continue flying. The ESC simply reconnects as normal to the receiver.

    Setup was easy since everything was plug-n-play. The DIP switch #2 is enabled the first time to learn the off position of your transmitter so that the DPM can properly pulse the motor when the first cell goes below 2.55v under heavy load. Note that the DPM can both monitor and alter the throttle signal so it knows when the motor is at or near full throttle and it can softly warn the pilot that the batteries are low without an abrupt motor shutdown.

    The optional LED/Speaker module appears to be quite useful as it relays visible and audible problems. It will be interesting to check if I can hear it in flight but I will most likely rely on the motor pulsing feature. If you leave accidentally your battery connected for an hour with the transmitter off, the audible alert will let you know about it. The LED/Speaker module has many other alert features like checking to see if all the batteries are properly charged and testing for brown out conditions that may mean a loose connection.


    Summary


    For the second round of flights, the 16" prop was replaced with a 17" prop. We flew the Icepoint three times with the 17" prop and it was noticeably stronger. In fact, it climbs on a knife edge so we could do a knife edge circle. I measured about 1900 watts at 78amps with the 17" APC prop. Upon landing, the motor and battery packs were slightly warm and the ESC was cool. Although an 18" prop may work as well, I will leave that for a future test when the new Jeti 90-amp ESCs become available at Hobby Lobby about mid-May.

    On our third and hardest run, we flew the Icepoint in heavy wind performing knife edge loops and strong vertical runs. Under these conditions, our flight duration would not meet the 10 minute FAI routine. For people thinking about a competition setup, the Actro 40-5 motor on a 10s Lithium configuration would likely provide a longer flight duration.

    The Icepoint lands surprisingly slow and handles windy conditions with ease and grace. Everything fit very well in the Icepoint assembly with the only problem areas being the wheels rubbing on the pant and the "Y" linkage installation for the elevator halves.

    Overall, the Icepoint is a complete winner! We had two pilots fly one with an electric power system and a third fly one with a glow-powered engine. Everyone was very satisfied with the performance of the Icepoint and would recommend the model to any pattern-flying enthusiast or competitor.




    Manufacturer Information


    Ultra-RC, LLC.
    250 Old Marlton Pike
    Medford, NJ 08055
    609.714.0040 (v)
    800.567.4079 (f)

    www.ultra-rc.com
    sales@ultra-rc.com


    FMA Direct
    5716A Industry Lane
    Frederick, MD 21704
    Ph: (800) 343-2934
    Tech/Service: (301) 668-4280
    www.fmadirect.com


    Hobby-Lobby
    6535 Premier Drive
    Brentwood, TN 37027
    615-373-1444
    sales@hobby-lobby.com
    www.hobby-lobby.com


    J&L Power Products, Inc.
    Colgate, WI 53017
    262-628-3506
    www.jlproducts.net

    contact@jlproducts.net

    Comments on RCU Review: Ultra RC Icepoint E-Conversion

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    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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