RCU Review: Hobbico Superstar - EP


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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: October 2005 | Views: 158739 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    Review by: Greg Covey

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    Dealer Info

    Hobbico Superstar EP
    Distributed exclusively by:

    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    Website: www.hobbico.com



    Ratings
    Quality
    Performance
    Ease of Assembly
    Looks
    Price
    Manual


    Hits

    Complete RTF Package
    Stabile Flying Traits
    Spare Parts Available
    Easy to assemble, repair, and upgrade



    Misses

    Small wheels
    Short flights with stock battery



    Hobbico Superstar EP

    My review of the Hobbico Superstar EP ARF will focus mainly on the newest RTF version but will also cover the differences between the three available versions; original rudder-only ARF, Superstar EP ARF w/ailerons, and the Superstar EP Select RTF w/ailerons. Additionally, I will be test flying the model in stock form first and then suggesting several simple hop-up modifications to get optimum performance out of this most "modeler-friendly" trainer in the industry. The Superstar EP has the same reliability of the larger glow-powered SuperStar 40s but with quiet and clean electric power.

    The Superstar EP Select RTF package also includes a version of the Futaba 4YF radio system with S3003 servos which makes it an incredible RTF package value at about $250.



    Specifications

    Package Name: Hobbico Superstar EP Select RTF w/Ailerons
    Price: $249.99 retail

    Features:

    • SuperStar EP uses only high-quality wood components, and comes precovered in a durable plastic film.
    • The SuperStar EP ARF is ready to fly in just 3-5 hours (2-3 hours for Select version)
    • Roomy radio compartment is plywood reinforced and allows for easy installation of standard-sized onboard electronics.
    • One piece wing half with ailerons and metal joiner rod
    • A flat-bottom airfoil supplies excellent lift at slow speeds and also helps keep the model level.
    • Landing Gear: Two piece pre-bent wire 0.098" (2.5mm) in diameter
    • Wheels: Two 1-3/4" (45mm) diameter foam construction
    • Highly efficient 9x5.5 composite prop.
    • Hobbico includes a high-performance Electrifly T-601 electric motor, propeller, Electronic Speed Control (ESC) with metal heat sink, Battery Eliminator Circuitry (BEC) and Kyosho type connector, and 7-cell, 8.4v, 2100mAh NiCd battery (w/standard Tamiya connector).
    • Ninety day limited warranty

    Specifications:

    • Wingspan: 48.75" (1240mm)
    • Length: 36.1" (917mm)
    • Wing Area: 402 sq in. (26.dm)
    • Weight: 3.1lb (1.4kg) Ready To Fly (RTF) or 2.7lb (1.2kg) for non-aileron version
    • Wing Loading: 18oz/sq ft (54.9g/dm) or 15.8oz/sq ft (48g/dm) for non-aileron version



    Superstar EP Select RTF Package
    The Superstar ARF comes with the motor pre-installed and you must install the included ESC along with your own radio system components.
    The Superstar Select RTF version comes with everything pre-installed. Note the Kyosho-type battery connector and the servo lead extension to connect to the aileron servo.
    A T-601 Speed 600 motor comes pre-installed to directly drive a 9x5.5 composite prop and adapter.
    The Select RTF package also includes a version of the Futaba 4YF radio system with S3003 servos.
    Note that the radio system includes a rechargable transmitter battery and wall charger.
    In addition to a complete 16-page manual, the Superstar EP ARF comes with a video to help you assemble and make your first flying experience a successful one.
    An ESC set-up guide for first power-up throttle stick position learning and battery position improvement sheet are also included. The Superstar ARF fuselage is already modified for the improved battery position.
    The battery bay has pre-installed runners to position the battery perfectly. The battery pack is then held secure by a single Velcro strap. Air flow comes through a large opening in the firewall to pass over the battery and keep it cooler during flight. The air exits via the many holes in the fuselage bottom hatch.


    Cooling Modifications
    To help assist in cooling, I decided to remove the foam surrounding the receiver and stick it to the fuselage side using servo tape. On electric powered planes, the vibration is greatly reduced so the foam is not really needed. If you are a first-time flyer, you may want to leave the receiver foam on to protect it in the event of a crash. You can remove it later once your flying skills improve.
    I also moved the position of the ESC up front just behind the firewall opening. This allows the cooling air to flow directly past the ESC on its way to the battery. I CA'ed a few pieces of balsa to keep the wires in place so that the ESC stays put. A cooler ESC will work best as I have a hop-up for the flight duration later on in my review.
    The prop mounts directly to the Speed 600 motor shaft using the supplied collet-style adapter. Note that you should run through the ESC throttle stick calibration before mounting the prop.


    Tail Assembly

    The tail assembled very easy without any glueing. The Superstar RTF Select comes with the control horns premounted. The horizontal stabilizer slides into the rear of the fuselage first and then the vertical stabilizer locks both pieces to the fuselage. The threaded rods are secured with washers and nuts.

    To attach the control rod, first remove one screw from the control horn and twist it to accept the "Z" bend in the rod. Secure the control horn and you are ready to tighten the screw on the servo arm quick link. I decided that my control rods were a bit too long so I cut off an inch.

    The Select RTF wing on the left comes with the aileron servo and linkages pre-installed.
    The wing halves slide together with a metal support bar and thinner trailing edge alignment bar. Although the fit was sufficiently tight so that it won't fall apart in flight, I added the recommended white tape strips for further security.
    It was easy to align the ailerons by twisting the clevis on either servo arm.

    The wingholder rods had plastic tips that screwed in place. These were nicely done my Hobbico and made a secure holder for the rubberbands.

    The CG range was 2-1/2" to 2-7/8" back from the leading edge of the wing. My plane balance perfectly near the 2-1/2" mark. To help keep the pack from shifting sideways, I wedged small foam pads on each side.


    Ready-to-Fly

    My Hobbico Superstar EP Select was RTF at 48oz (3lbs).

    The 7-cell, 2100mAh NiCd pack weighed 13oz and the RTF plane without battery weighed 35oz. I used 6 rubberbands to attach the wing.

    Here are the component weights for the Hobbico Superstar EP:

    • Superstar w/o battery = 35.0oz
    • 7-cell 2100mAh NiMH pack = 13oz
    • All up RTF = 48oz (3lbs)

    I was able to maiden the Superstar EP a few times when it was rather calm and later flew it twice for the video in some wind. All four times, the stock setup worked very well with my only complaint being rather short 5 minute flights. The plane glides well and lands easily without power. The plane steers well on pavement take-offs as long as the power is kept high.

    During the video, the winds were about 10mph. We took off pavement and landed in grass due to the rather short parking lot runway. The Superstar EP had no problem looping or rolling. The plane is designed to be a stabile trainer so it doesn't really care for inverted flight as it tries to upright itself. The lazy rolls (in fact all rolls) were done with aileron, rudder, and elevator control. The EP RTF Select version comes with ailerons.

    See the stock Superstar EP in action!
    CLICK HERE

    Hop-ups:

    Since I really liked this plane for some relaxed flying in the evening, I decided to try several hop-ups on my Superstar EP.

    First, I increased the wheel size from the stock 1-3/4" to 2" and finally to 2-1/2". My 2" wheel upgrade didn't feel quite large enough and the wheels I had found at home were poor quality so I decided to buy some Du-Bro 2-1/2" (250SL) Super Lite Wheels with tread. The center holes were too big for my Superstar gear mains so I used some 5/32 diameter round aluminum tubing for inserts.

    The goal here is to improve landings and allow take-offs on grass. With my Jeti Phasor motor upgrade, it should easily take off from grass now.

    I ordered a Jeti Phasor 30-3 brushless inrunner motor from Hobby Lobby as a powerful maintenance-free replacement of the stock Speed 600 motor. An inrunner is like an outrunner in that it is a direct drive solution but there is no spinning can so it can be mounted right in place of the Speed 600 motor using the same stock mount. The Jeti Phasor weighed 0.3oz lighter than the stock Speed 600 motor at 7.8oz.

    I also tested the stock setup using a 2-cell Kokam 3.2AH Lithium pack before trying my Jeti Phasor motor and the weight reduction combined with the higher voltage under load provided a noticable increase in power. The 3200mAh pack capacity gave me an increase of 1-1/2 times the flight duration.

    My Jeti Phasor 30-3 motor mounted perfectly. I could even secure the front to the stock aluminum mount using two M3x10mm screws although this is not necessary. I also used a Jeti 40-amp ESC with BEC and a 5mm prop adapter that I had with a red spinner. Hobby Lobby also sells 5mm prop adapters and spinners, if needed.

    I tested the power system with my 3-cell Kokam 3.2AH pack and measured 280 watts at 25amps using an old Kyosho 9x6 nylon prop. Nothing in the power system is being stressed at that current level so even though full throttle will provide spectacular performance, you could leave the stick at full all day long without over-heating anything. Note the connector style change to Dean's Ultra to properly handle the higher current.

    Even with the 3-cell Kokam 3.2AH pack that has the equivalent voltage to a 10-cell NiCd pack, my Superstar was RTF at 3oz under stock weight (45oz/2.8lb) which is almost 1/4lb drop. My new power level is now a powerful 100w/lb which will provide strong aerobatics!

    After test flying my new power system using a pavement takeoff, the tail would often spin out when trying slower more scale takeoffs. I decided that my modified Superstar needed one last hop-up.

    I used an RA1300 Complete Tailwheel Assembly from Hobby Lobby to easily create a steerable tailwheel. By simply drilling a hole through the fuselage tail so that the metal wire was in line with the rudder leading edge, I made a few bends and epoxied it to the rudder. The tailewheel base fits in a custom cut groove and is held by the two supplied screws.

    Note that the actual position of the drilled hole was 2-1/4" from the rear fuselage tip and not where shown in the photo with the drill. After the epoxy had dried, I recovered the rudder bottom with some white Monokote.

    Since my new power system provided superb power and flight times, it was time for my second video! The wind was 0-5mph for this video. We took off pavement and grass that was rather long. It was not a flying field but rather an office park in need of a mow. The hop-ups really made my Superstar EP a great all around flyer with plenty of power and a 15-20 minute flight time with aerobatics or 25 minute relaxed flying.


    Superstar with Phasor/Lithium/Tailwheel upgrade!
    CLICK HERE

    Stock Pavement Take-off







    Grass Take-off Hop-ups




    A simple upgrade to the stock power system would be to replace the 13oz 7-cell NiCd pack with a 7.5oz, 2-cell, 3.2AH BalancePro Lithium pack or 2-cell Kokam 3.2AH pack available at Tower Hobbies. The voltage under load is slightly higher with the BalancePro pack than the stock NiCD pack and the flight duration is 1.5 times as long. The 5.5oz drop in flying weight will provide a great gain in power when using the stock Speed 600 motor.

    When used with the matching BalancePro Charger, the Lithium pack safety and longevity will be maintained for well over 200 cycles.



    Summary

    The Hobbico Superstar EP ARF is available in three versions to suit your needs and level of completeness. In stock form, the direct drive Speed 600 motor provides adequate power and flight times of around 5 minutes.

    By adding some simple hop-up modifications, you can get optimum performance out of this most "modeler-friendly" trainer in the industry. The Superstar EP has the same reliability of the larger glow-powered SuperStar 40s but with quiet and clean electric power. The Superstar EP is a great plane to learn about electric flight versatility while providing very stabile flight performance, and, is certainly not limited to my suggestions for hop-ups listed below.

    * Bigger 2-1/2" Dubro wheels
    * steerable tailwheel
    * Brushless motor replacement
    * Lithium battery technology


    Distributor Information

    Hobbico
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Website: www.hobbico.com

    Hobbico Superstar EP
    Distributed Exclusively by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    Hobby Lobby
    5614 Franklin Pike Cr.
    Brentwood, TN 37027
    Ph: (615) 373-1444
    sales@hobby-lobby.com
    Website: www.hobby-lobby.com

    Comments on RCU Review: Hobbico Superstar - EP

    Posted by: guapoman2000 on 11/18/2010
    Greg, Great Review! I am going to dust off my Super Star EP!! Guapoman2000
    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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