|Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: August 2005 | Views: 34066 | Email this Article
9 33% Edge 540 plane* = $850
1/3 Scale Hardware Package* = $150
MatchBox Twin Pack* = $110
Seven DS8411/8611 Servos* = $805
Wing/Tail Cover Set* = $75
G62 Engine* = $425
Pro Receiver Battery* = $32
Motor = $250
Jeti 90-amp ESC = $250
FMA Power Force regulator = $80
per gallon = $15
Gas Fuel per gallon = $2
10s 6AH Lithium pack** = $800
30-cell GP 3700NiMH pack***= $327
* = Horizon
Hobby Street Price
** = cost based upon $40 per Kokam 3.2AH cell at Horizon Hobby
Kokam 3.2AH pack at Horizon Hobby
*** = cost based upon three 10-cell packs at Diversity Model
GP 3700 Packs at DMA
- Note the lower cost of gas over glow fuel.
- The approximate gas usage is about 1/3 gallon per flight.
- Note the lower cost of NiMH over Lithium although only 1/2
2 of 2
I started working on my new approach to convert the Hangar 9 33%
Edge 540 to electric power, springtime was just around the corner.
Our thoughts in the northern U.S. and Canada were turning from
building to flying. The Nuremberg Toy Fair had just been held
in Germany, the WRAM Show was the following weekend in New York
City, and the Toledo show was at the end of the following month.
Manufacturers, vendors, and hobbyists were all starting to buzz
about the new products for 2005.
part 1 of my conversion article, my goal for the project was to
achieve aerobatic performance on a 20lb plane at a more reasonable
cost and lower level of complexity; hence the theme, "1/3
scale at 1/3 the cost". Although I came up a bit short on
my first attempt, I was not discouraged. In fact, I was very pleased
with the Edge 540 design and ease of assembly. My power system
was simple and cost-effective. It seems to only have one flaw;
an under-rated ESC. This was not the fault of the ESC design but
rather my inexperience with giant-scale power systems.
Kit Name: Edge 540 33%
Wing Span: 97 in
Length: 87.9 in
Wing Area: 1760 sq in
Glow Flying Weight: 22-24 lb
Engine Size: 62 - 80cc
Radio: 4 channels
feeling is that most pilots fly only aerobatic patterns
and giant scale 3D is best left for the professionals
like Mike McConville or other IMAC competitors. If we
only want this level of performance, we should be able
to achieve it at a more reasonable cost.
was time to start "Part 2" of my quest for "1/3
Scale at 1/3 Price" on the Hangar 9 33% Edge 540
conversion to electric power. In part 2 of my conversion
article, in addition to my ESC upgrade, I'll cover some
new advances in R/C technology that will not only simplify
the design even further but also continue to reduce the
cost or provide more alternatives to choose from. I will
also have some exciting new flight performance video showing
the electric Edge 540 in many aerobatic maneuvers.
reference, here is the link to my review article on Part
1 of the conversion in the
Online Magazine: Hangar 9 Edge 540 E-Conversion, Part
is an overview of some of the areas that will be covered.
of Actro 60-175 and AXI 5330 motors
90-amp Opto ESC
Trap from JL Power Products
cell alternatives to Lithium
but not least, the plane just never flies right without
a pilot. Over the Winter, I painted the 1/3
Scale Civilian Pilot from Horizon Hobby to go in my
Edge 540. Now we're ready to go flying!
in the Conversion Design
cowl is now fully "dressed" with the official
RCU logo made by RC Graphics Zone
Note the "Danger High Voltage" label to
keep my glow-powered buddies at bay
Parallel Connector Modules have been re-fitted to
allow a spare plug on each bank, 6s and 4s, for easy
charging. After the hatch is removed, you simply pull
the ESC connector and then plug into the 4s module
for charging and the 6s module for charging. The packs
up front are secured on both sides by Velcro so I
can adjust the CG as needed for testing the 1/4lb
heavier AXI 5330 motor. Additionally, the 2.1AH cell
packs can be easily swapped with newer SKYVOLTS packs
from FMA Direct when they become available.
5330 = 23oz
40 = 19oz
power guru, Steve Neu, published information in his
"Power On" column in the March 2005 issue
of Quiet Flyer magazine which plots the AXI 5330 and
the Actro 60 motor power curves. (see page 60) Both
motors had efficiencies around 87% at 50amps on a
10s Lithium voltage under load of 35 volts. This provides
an output power to the prop of 1522 watts with an
input power of just 1750 watts. Note that Steve's
50amp (1700 watt) limit was likely due to the Jeti
77-amp ESC on a 10s Lithium voltage of 35v (been there,
done that in Part 1). He suggested that the AXI motor
can likely handle higher currents if you keep an eye
on motor cooling.
reading Steve's column, I was now convinced that the
AXI 5330 motor is the correct choice for my Edge 540
conversion. For only $249 at Hobby
Lobby, including several prop adapters, this motor
will be hard to beat for reducing the cost of giant
scale conversions to electric power. The AXI 5330
motor runs at 87% efficiency for just under 2000 watts.
This means that little power is being lost as heat.
I expect to easily have 3000 watt burst power levels
which will provide 150 watts/lb. on my Edge 540. I
selected the 5330/18 because it will have thicker
wires to handle more burst current.
my conversion project, the theme is about lower cost
and the AXI 5330 at $250 U.S. is much lower in price
than even the smaller Actro 40 motor at $350 U.S.
The Actro 60 is even more costly at $480 US at Hobby
for the Plane:
help protect my 1/3 scale Edge 540 during transport
or even when moving it through doorways, I used
the Wing and Tail Cover Set (HAN6010)
from Horizon Hobby. Each set includes nylon padded
bags for two wing halves, the horizontal stabilizers
and the vertical stabilizer. The wing bags comes
with a Velcro strap for a secure fit that won't
let the bag slip off. An additional strap is used
to help carry the bag. Big models are a big investment
and Hangar 9's wing bag set is a handy way to
help protect that investment while still looking
for the Packs:
lithium packs can be risky. You risk damaging the
pack in the event of a crash which reduces your investment
security at the same time as it increases the risk
of fire. I still crash on occasion so my plan for
protecting the exposed packs is to wrap them in a
super impact absorber from FMA
Direct called IMPAD. It is packaged in 12"
x 6" sheets and can protect an egg from cracking
when dropped at four feet off the ground.
pack heat is not an issue (e.g. you are not stressing
the pack in the application), the pack can be wrapped
in an IMPAD pouch using a simple Velcro strap to hold
the pack inside the pouch. When pack heat is an issue,
IMPAD end-caps can be made to allow air flow through
the cells in the pack while protecting it from a blunt
force. For either technique, I used clear shipping
tape to form the pouch or caps.
mount my AXI 5330 motor, I took my usual trip to the
local home improvement store. I found that 4" PVC
caps (Schedule D) were flat on the ends. If I connected
two caps to a custom cut section of 4" PVC pipe,
I could extend the motor to the required 5-3/4"
needed for the spinner backplate when using an AXI 5330
concept was simple, light, solid, adjustable in length,
and most of all, very inexpensive!
AXI 5330 motor comes with a sticky back template for
mounting. I simply placed the decal on a 4" cap
after first sanding the lettering on the surface flat.
some added support, I used two small metal strips
in addition to using washers with my M4 screws. Locktite
was used on all threaded surfaces. I pulled as hard
as I could on the motor and it would not budge. I
felt confident in the ruggedness of my PCV mount.
mounted the other end cap to the firewall using the
same 1/4-20 t-nuts from my original mounting scheme
but with some short screws and washers instead of
the long bolts. I didn't glue the PVC pipe to the
end cap because the fit is so tight that it must be
tapped with a hammer to be fully inserted. I did,
however, secure it with four #8 sheet metal screws,
one in each quadrant.
that the mount may not look centered but the thrust angle
built into the plywood motor box makes the prop adapter
come out centered through the cowl.
finished mounting the AXI 5330 motor by tapping the 4"
PVC end cap onto the pipe with a hammer. I then added
the four #8 sheet metal screws to keep it secure. The
alignment to the cowl was perfect but I needed to open
the holes on my red CBA 4" spinner aluminum backplate
and APC 20x11 prop to the wider 12mm shaft on the prop
adapter. This will require using a drill press or lathe
to keep the holes centered. Since the AXI prop adapters
are already tapped for a M4 spinner cap , so no adapter
is needed. To drill out the perfect size center hole in
my prop, I used a 15/16" drill bit for my 12mm adapter.
A key piece of my lower cost power system for giant-scale
conversions is now sold through Hobby Lobby. The new Jeti
Advance 90 PLUS ESC is a solid 4oz controller that should
handle continuous power levels up to 4200 watts with little
the other Jeti Advance PLUS ESCs, the 90-amp ESC comes without
shrinkwrap for superior heat release and mounting tabs with
my Kokam 10s3p 6.3AH Lithium pack is also rated for 4200
watts continuous (35v * 120a), the weak link in the power
system is now the AXI 5330 motor. By weak, I mean that the
motor will handle 2000 watts continuous and probably up
to 3000 watts peak based upon reports from competitors in
Europe. The overall result will provide a power level of
150w/lb to my 1/3-scale Edge 540 at an unprecedented lower
set out the components for my power system and started preparing
the ESC by soldering the mating connectors for the AXI motor
and a Dean's Ultra connector for the battery. The ESC mounted
easily with some servo tape and a screw through one of the
grommets into the wooden motor box. The wires were not long
enough to use the other eyelets and I felt that they were
not needed. The ESC was now positioned directly in the air
flow through the cowl.
6s and 4s battery packs mounted as before except this time
I used some Velcro straps to secure the outer packs. I had
an additional 8oz up front over my last power system due
to the heavier AXI motor and Jeti ESC. This could only help
move the CG toward the recommended spot as I was a bit tail
heavy with my old setup.
new Jeti Advance PLUS ESC was easy to set up with the compact
Jeti Programming Card. You simply set the jumpers, connect
the control cable, and power up the ESC for 1 second until
you hear a beep. The credit card size programming device
can be easily stored in your field box for future changes.
used the following settings.
Timing for Outrunners
made up some EPP foam caps to cover the extra connector
pins when not recharging the Lithium packs. My 10s3p 6.3AH
Lithium pack is split into a 4s section and a 6s section
which requires two chargers to recharge the pack. This same
setup can be used when I switch to the newer Skyvolts packs
from FMA Direct with taps for cell balancing. One advantage
of using the 4s/6s split configuration is that I can supply
power to my FMA Power Force regulator to test the servos
without arming the powerful motor. This level of safety
is required for indoor testing of the control surfaces.
aluminum backplate and prop fit perfectly after boring them
to 12mm (15/16") for the AXI shaft. I discovered that
the center of the shaft is tapped for an M4 x .7 screw.
To mount my large 4" diameter CB/Tatone spinner, I
would need an M4 screw about 90mm long!
a 90mm long M4 screw proved too difficult in the U.S. I
gave up after only finding a 70mm length and changed my
technique to use a #10-32 screw. The length needed is 3-1/4"
long but 3-1/2" long will work also. I decided that
re-tapping the M4 threaded hole in the AXI 5330 prop adapter
is not all that unreasonable. A size #10 is the next larger
American size from an M4 thread. The adapter was easily
re-tapped to the American standard size #10.
connected my wattmeter and it appeared that my APC 20x11
prop was a reasonable choice after all. I measured 2700
watts at 86amps consistently on four 10 second bursts of
full throttle. I was ready for my maiden flight with the
new power system!
flew the Edge 540 yesterday for the first time with its new power
system and it performed flawlessly! Our first flight was a basic
trim and a few simple aerobatic maneuvers before landing just
to get "the monkey" off our back from last fall. The
second flight was without charging and we spent some time learning
the plane and getting more comfortable with it. We brought it
in early so we could get to know the flight duration by measuring
battery voltage. The first two flights were about 7 minutes total
and we used about 1/2 the 6AH pack capacity. The new Jeti 90-amp
Advance Plus ESC seemed to work great!
charging for about 30 minutes, we had a third flight and pushed
the plane harder this time. The power system appears to provide
stronger aerobatic maneuvers like giant loops, knife edge, hammer
heads, and such, but does not have sufficient power for good 3D
hovering and pullout. This was not too surprising considering
the small size of the 20" prop. Again, about a 7 minute flight
used only about 3AH. The planes cruises along nicely at only half
throttle. I was a bit nose heavy this time after the power system
changes using the heavier AXI 5330 motor and the fact that I added
6oz of lead inside the cowl. I will try removing 3oz of the lead
for the next test flights.
are my measurements from the first series of flights:
watts at 86amps
landing, I felt the AXI motor with my fingers, and, although it
was hot, I could keep my fingers on the motor so it wasn't really
hot in terms of the motor temperature. This was a good sign for
a quick charge off my truck battery, the big Edge 540 was sent
on its third flight.
Edge 540 looks fantastic against the blue sky!
I was pulling some video off the camera for another review,
to my surprise, someone had grabbed the camera during the
Edge 540 maiden flight and started taping. Although only
the introduction part was planned, I figured that I would
show you the maiden voyage of the AXI-fied Edge 540 using
a 20x11 APC e-prop. Oddly, we left off last Fall with a
nice take-off without a landing. This Spring, we start with
landing but have no take-off.
Edge 540 Maiden Video 10 MB
project goal was to accomplish strong aerobatic capability at
1/3 cost of other dual motor configurations. Although this had
now been accomplished, I decided to test some larger 21"
and 22" props to see if the increase in thrust level allows
for proper hovering.
increased the prop size and the Edge 540 flew stronger with the
21x14 prop. After the flight, we temperature tested the motor
and the hottest part (we think was the coil) was only 90 degrees
F. The temp gun should spot the hottest temperature and keep the
peak reading. The outer rotating can was barely warm due to the
cool day and open air flow in the cowl. I didn't measure the RPMs
this time out, only the power level. Although it was a cool day,
we discovered that the motor got very hot when pushing the plane
harder on a much hotter and humid day.
at 113amps w/ APC 21x14 e-prop
photos by "Papa" Jeff Ring.
did get some video but could not recharge the Edge 540 due to
a very unusual situation. Both my Astro Flight Lithium 109 chargers
blew out at the beginning of the charge. I was somewhat perplexed
as I triple checked all my connections to the freshly charged
car battery in my trailer. Nothing looked wrong. Unfortunately,
my other chargers only go to 4s so I could not recharge my 6s
photos by "Papa" Jeff Ring.
some further test flights with the 21" APC prop, we decided
that the ESC was getting too hot which meant that it was not
really in the air flow within the cowl. I used a position modification
to get direct air flow on the ESC by protruding it below the
cowl. I cut a slot into the cowl and drilled two holes to screw
into two of the three rubber grommets. It still allows for easy
flew the Edge 540 four times on the APC 21" prop without
issue. Upon landing, I felt the ESC and it was just about ambient
temperature so dropping it down to where the heatsink fins extended
just below the cowl bottom was a great success. We flew several
demo flights each day at a local show when the field temperature
reached 108 degrees and everyone was amazed that the 1/3 scale
aerobatic giant was powered by a $500 motor and speed controller.
Astro Flight Lithium 109 chargers worked fine after they returned
from a $50 repair journey to California. You need to remember
to turn the current knob to minimum before starting the charge.
If you keep this procedure in mind along with watching the cell
count during mode 1 (first 3 minutes) the charger appears to
photos by "Papa" Jeff Ring.
project goal to provide strong aerobatic capability in a 1/3 scale
plane at 1/3 cost of other dual electric motor configurations
had now been accomplished. My feeling is that most of us only
need this level of performance and we can now achieve it at a
more reasonable cost. For a comparison of power system components
and cost, see the Edge 540 Cost analysis at the beginning
of this article.
cost reduction can be accomplished if the Lithium packs can be
replaced with NiMH packs. I think 30-cells of NiMH is a viable
low-cost solution that would still provide 7 minute flights. If
you make your own pack or put three 10-cell packs in series, it
cuts the cost considerably. The GP3300 or 3700 cells should be
able to handle the bursts to 80-90amps without issue. Although
the flight times will be shorter, the weight of these packs up
front won't hurt you since the giant-scale planes are meant for
heavy gas engines.
combination of the AXI 5330 with two prop adapters for $250 and
the new Jeti 90-amp Advance Plus ESC for only $249 has set the
bar for converting giant scale airplanes to clean and quiet electric
power without breaking the bank!
Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A. by:
Horizon Hobby, Inc
4105 Fieldstone Road
Champaign, IL 61822
Ph: (800) 338-4639
Toll Free: (800) 338-4639
Fax: (217) 352-6799
4105 Fieldstone Rd.
Champaign, IL 61822
Ph: (800) 338-4639
5614 Franklin Pike Cr.
Brentwood, TN 37027
Ph: (615) 373-1444
P.O. Box 9021
Champaign, IL 61826-9021
5716A Industry Lane
Frederick, MD 21704
Ph: (800) 343-2934
Tech/Service: (301) 668-4280
2322 W. Gore Blvd.
Lawton, OK 73505
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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