RCU Review: Hangar 9 Edge 540 33% Prt III

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: August 2006 | Views: 65342 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    Review by: Greg Covey

    Motor Photos: Paul Weigand
    Flying Photos: "Papa Jeff" Ring

    Video 1 Pilot: Lynn Bowerman
    Video 2 Pilot: Devin McGrath

    Hangar 9 ARFS
    Distributed exclusively by:

    Horizon Hobby
    4105 Fieldstone Rd..
    Champaign, IL 61822 USA
    Tel (800) 388-4639


    Ease of Assembly

    Awesome 3D Power
    Superb Flying Performance

    Very low vibration

    Multiple Chargers Needed
    Dual AXI motors require dual power systems

    E-Conversion Part 3D

    After a very successful Hangar 9 33% Edge 540 - Part 2 project, I have received many e-mails from R/Cers using the same or similar power system in their own giant scale models. Even a year later, the AXI 5330 motor and Jeti 90-amp ESC are still the value frontrunners in the R/C market although many newcomers are now challenging this position thus adding more choices for the electric enthusiast.

    On my 20lb Edge 540, I had plenty of power for sport aerobatics with the 3500 watt burst setup. We flew demo flights using this setup at the 2005 NEAT Fair. Now that we've done the low cost thing to help people jump into giant scale electrics, I wanted to double the power using two 5330 motors on a single shaft and do some 3D flying!

    There are several ways to double the motor power without using a gearbox. My choice was to use a solution that was professionally engineered right from the manufacturer, Model Motors, in the Czech Republic and available through reputable vendors in the U.S like Hobby Lobby. The solution is costly since it uses dual power systems and requires a well designed motor mount for the tremendous power level. No manual exists for this application so I communicated directly with the motor designer at Model Motors for various suggestions.

    My initial prop choice was to use an APC e-prop. I wanted to display the wide dynamic range of flight that electric power systems provide so I positioned my largest and smallest props together at the time. My smallest prop is a U80 (or 3x1) that is used on my 0.9oz Hangar Rat with an RFFS100 module for indoor flying. My largest prop (at the time) was an APC 26x15 e-prop available at Hobby Lobby. Since the photos were taken, the APC prop was replaced by a 28x10 hallow carbon Mejzlik prop available at Desert Aircraft.

    Here were some of my target goals for this project:

    • 7000 watt (9h.p.) burst power level
    • 22.5lb all up weight
    • 300w/lb
    • 3D performance
    • parts available from multiple vendors

    Dual AXI 5330:

    Christmas 2005 came a few days early for me as my Dual AXI 5330 motor arrived from Hobby Lobby on December 23, 2005. The single shaft, dual 5330/20 motor is available special order from Hobby Lobby for $790. Note that the motors come bolted together to drive a single long shaft. The mounting ears make it a near drop in replacement for a single AXI 5330 setup.

    The motor Kv is 235 RPM/V and it weighs 56oz (3.5lbs). The "Double 5330" is designed for aerobatic flying with about a 26" prop and around 6000RPM. The recommended max. current with a 10s LiPo is also about 70A burst per motor. As you may be aware, my single AXI 5330 power system would burst over 100amps to provide 3500 watts for short periods. This makes my target goal around 7000 watts (or 9.3h.p.) using the dual motor.

    By positioning the new double AXI motor on top of my existing mount, you can see that the 4-3/8" PVC pipe assembly ( called 4" ) may still work as an inexpensive mount with a few modifications. Initially, I intended to reinforce the 4" end cap and provide air cooling for the motor inside the PVC can.

    After some discussion with my friend who is both a modeler and a retired machinist from Eastman Kodak, we decided not to use the PVC mount for fear that the needed cooling holes would weaken the pipe. We have also decided not to use aluminum tubing or metal standoffs due to the tremendous rotational torque or twisting action that could focus forces in small areas.

    Our approach will be a more traditional technique used in giant scale engine mounting. We'll use aircraft grade birch plywood available at most hobby shops to build a box extension that will fit over the existing motor mount box. This box will use two layers of 1/8" aircraft grade plywood epoxied together for tremendous strength. Short #10 screws will connect the motor mount ears to blind nuts on the new box front wall. The bigger box will be easier to drill cooling holes in for the inside motor and the process will be easily repeatable by others. I'll show the exact dimensions needed for the box extension later on in my review.

    Tthe local hobby shops will usually carry SIG or Midwest brands aircraft grade plywood. Tower hobbies sells the aircraft grade 1/8" birch plywood on-line. We glued two layers of 1/8" together for a 10-ply total which is stronger than the 5-ply 1/4" plywood.

    Index of Plywood at Tower Hobbies

    Motor & Prop Mounting :

    The Dual AXI adapter is 12mm and tapers out to 17mm.

    Although the APC 26" prop looks ok in the spinner and prop adapter, we have decided not to use it for safety reasons. Our concern is that the prop may be severely weakened after drilling the four holes needed to mount it on the spinner.

    I have decided to purchase a Mejzlik carbon 26x10 prop from Desert Aircraft. The carbon prop will be easier to drill and retain its strength as it has a much bigger hub area. These props from the Czech Republic are top notch designs that have come down in price due to competition from other manufacturers.

    Motor Box Measuring:

    drawings made by Paul Weigand

    After measuring the stock motor box, the new box extension design can be started. The distance from the main fuse firewall to the back of the spinner backplate is 13.0"

    Motor Mounting:

    The motor mounting project began by using two layers of 1/8" aircraft grade plywood epoxied together for tremendous strength.. Note the plywood ring reinforcement on the back side of the new firewall to keep the T-nuts flush with the front side. The T-nuts are also the version that use screws to hold them in place so that no large prongs exist to tear and weaken the aircraft grade plywood. We also removed the existing 5330 motor and PVC parts from the stock motor box.

    Prop & Spinner Mounting:

    As you can see, whenever my friend Paul Weigand gets a hold of the project, it turns into a work of art! To create the precise bolt pattern needed for this prop and spinner, Paul has the proper mill and lathe needed to do the job. We are also supplying the bolt pattern to TruTurn so others can simply order the proper backplate for this motor.

    The all aluminum TruTurn 4" Ultimate Menz spinner (p/n TT-4052-B-M-L) weighed only 4-1/4oz compared to my 6oz red plastic cone CBA spinner. The TruTurn spinners and Mejzlik carbon props are truely well crafted parts!

    Here is the bolt pattern for those that wish to make their own backplate.

    New Motor Box:

    The new motor box assembly seemed to work well. The outer box was epoxied around the stock Edge 540 motor box. It's a great honor to have a dedicated craftsmen and modeler like Paul Weigand help me out. With the tremendous power of this double AXI 5330 motor, we wanted to make sure that there are no weak points in the assembly.

    Motor Cooling:

    The back of the motor box, once the stock firewall, has been removed. There are large air holes in the front directly in the air flow from the cowl openings and more on the side so some air movement will exist. For normal flight, each motor will likely draw only 20-30 amps so they will not produce any significant heat. Since the workload is shared between two motors, I expect little heating to occur unless flying a 3D routine. There is a photo of my air exit modification after the summary section.

    If you watch the videos from either my "Part 2" review or the SKS NEAT Fair 2005 video, you will see that the Edge 540 was decently powered with only a single 5330 motor and performed sport aerobatics quite well. The additional second motor power will only be needed on occasion for hovering and vertical pullouts, etc. For the most part, each motor will see only half the workload as before for normal flying and aerobatics.

    ESC Mounting:

    We decided to mount the two ESC?s on standoffs so they could be wired up to the motor and mounted without the cowl in place. We also added a hole behind the motor mount so the wires can be attached to the ESC?s without extensions. The cowl then slips on and the heat sinks are exposed to direct air cooling as before.

    ESC Setup:

    I tested the motor/ESC wiring on one motor at a time. Also, both ESCs programmed and worked fine by doing one at a time. It also allowed me to test the motor direction before taping up the connectors and trying both motors together. You want each motor to spin counter-clockwise when viewed from the front of the plane.

    I used the following setup on my Jeti Advance PLUS Programming Card.

    • Li-XX
    • Low Cut-off
    • Slow down
    • Brake OFF
    • High Timing for Outrunners
    • Linear Throttle


    I added a few extra decals as I waited for my BalancePro HD packs to arrive.

    Rx. Battery:

    To keep the two power systems as equal as possible. my receiver and servos are no longer fed from one of the 4s flight packs. I now use a 2s 3300mAh Cellpro Lithium pack to feed the Power Force Regulator. The Dean's Ultra connector plugs right into the regulator and I can still balance the pack on every charge using the Cellpro 4s charger.

    Dual Rudder Servos:

    Expert 3D pilot from Team JR, Devin McGrath, suggested that I add a second rudder servo to handle the additional demands of 3D maneuvers. The Hangar 9 Edge 540 is already designed to handle a dual push-pull setup (the second servo bay is merely covered up).

    The dual rudder servo system will now provide 520oz/in (260 x 2) on my 6v supply from the Power Force Regulator. A JR Matchbox is required to keep the two servos from fighting each other and drawing excessive current. The Matchbox also allows for servo reversal so you don't need a special "reverse" servo. The pushbutton setup on the JR Matchbox is very convenient!

    JR DS8611a:

    Note that the new JR DS8611a digital servo design has an incredible 320oz/in. torque on a 6v supply. This increase in output torque is now the standard servo when ordering a DS8611.

    Canopy Thumbscrews:

    I re-tapped the stock 4-40 holes in the Edge 540 canopy for 6-32 so I can use the nylon thumbscrews from Home Depot. No more tools needed at the flight line!

    Dual Rudder Linkage:

    My dual rudder servo project started by removing the existing control horn and installing the threaded rod that also comes in the Hangar 9 (HAN3614) 8-32 Swivel Clevis Horn kit. It's a dual kit so you get two of everything and then a choice of threaded rods or screws. I also used a second Hangar 9 (HAN3557) Titanium Pro-Link 4-40 x 5" and another (HAN3616) 4-40 HD Ball Link.

    BalancePro HD Power System:

    My existing battery packs were re-configured into 6s2p and 4s2p BalancePro HD packs. These are older Kokam 2100mAh (20C) cells that were rated at a 20C discharge rate or 80amps in my 2p configuration. They never sold well due to their weight and shape that we called "Pop Tarts" after the famed breakfast food. The cells were discontinued and I was fortunite to be able to mix some left over stock with my pre-enjoyed packs.

    Each 10s configuration weighs 55oz for a total battery weight of 110oz or 6.9lbs. Every pack gets plugged into a BalancePro HD 6s Discharge Protection Module (DPM) with the optional LED/Speaker modules. The 6s and 4s Dean's Ultra connectors will plug into a Series Connector Module so there is a complete 10s power supply for each motor. The throttle channel output from the receiver is then split using a "Y" adapter cable and then daisy-chained through each set of DPMs on its way to the ESC.

    If the 4200mAh capacity (for each motor) is not enough flight time, or the 80 burst rate is not sufficient, I will then upgrade to the new 5AH cells also rated at 20C discharge. Since I originally started this project in late 2005, I have acquired several new 5AH packs for comparison. Upon measuring the weight of the old 4s packs and my new 4s 20C 5000mAh pack, I determined that the drop-in weight loss will be an incredible 21oz (1-1/4lb) by switching to the new BalancePro HD 5AH cells. Further, the 20% increase in rated flight time will likely provide 6-8 minute flights. Something to look forward to (and save for) in the 2007 season.

    Final Wiring:

    I wired up my Series Adapter Modules after splitting a single Series Connector Module from FMA Direct into several double sections with a Dremel tool. These adapters are used to wire my 6s and 4s packs into a single 10s pack.

    Both motors were tested individually and then together. Note that the LED/Speaker modules from the DPMs are placed near the big opening in the cowl (when it is attached). My initial flight test will have the DPMs disconnected from the throttle channel (like the heli guys use it) so that only an audible alarm will sound if the packs have a problem with discharge current or duration. The DPM control lines will then be attached in series with the ESCs and throttle channel after the first few flights.

    Initial Power Test:

    The inside of the fuselage shows my 4 BalancePro HD DPMs set on an angle bracket for easy connection/disconnection of the 4 batteries. The receiver and servos are powered by a separate 2-cell Cellpro 3300mAh pack feeding the FMA Power Force Regulator.

    When I initially tested the power system with the prop installed, it was scary powerful! My intent was to measure the current so I left the cowl off for access to the ESC using my wattmeter. I never went above 1/2 throttle because the power felt so strong I was afraid that the anchor would pull out or break. Perhaps when I have a group of people at the field, I will revisit the current measurement since it is easy to remove the spinner, prop, and cowl.

    Even with10lb weights on the anchor, the plane looked like it was moving. The grass was bent straight back behind the plane. The prop and spinner appeared perfectly balanced as there was little vibration. I'm ready to test fly!


    I was fortunate to have Team Futaba's Dan Landis and his father, Richard (left) fly the Edge 540 during one of the local summer events where Dan was a guest demonstrator. Both Dan and his Dad are very knowledgeable on high power electric flight systems. After test flying the Edge 540, Dan offered several suggestions for fine tuning the power system. Standing next to me is my friend, Paul Weigand, who designed the motor mount.

    The original test flight using the Dual AXI powered Edge 540 used a Mekzlik 26x10 hallow carbon prop. We measured the current to be about 63 amps per motor which provided about 4500 watts total. Although it flew well, the Mejzlik 26" prop was not big enough to bring the real power of this system out. While this is more power than my previous single (low cost) AXI 5330 system, it was not sufficient for 3D maneuvers.

    Test Flying

    Edge 540 Mejzlik 26" Prop video.
    CLICK HERE (12meg)

    We succesfully tested the Dual AXI powered Edge 540, and, although it flew well with sport aerobatics, the Mejzlik 26" prop was not big enough to bring out the real power of this system. I measured about 63amps per motor and about 4500 watts total. While this is more power than my previous single AXI 5330 system, it was not sufficient for 3D. Since I am not taxing any part of my setup, we decided that my next change will be to try a Mejzlik 28" prop and raise the ground clearance of the gear mains by an inch. On the video, you can hear the impressive amount of air moved by the 26" prop.

    Edge 540 Mejzlik 28" Prop video.
    CLICK HERE (9meg)

    The new Mejzlik 28x10 prop proved to be a winner by providing my Edge 540 with 3D power. The current measured 83amps on both motors and the plane can now hover and has unlimited vertical.

    We video taped Team JR's Devin McGrath practicing on the Edge 540 for his demo at the upcoming 2006 NEAT Fair. Now that we have a larger prop and increased aileron gain, the power level and roll rate look good. Devin wants more elevator throw as he had difficulty holding the hover in wind. I realized that my limited 30 degree elevator throw had never been increased for 3D flying. These type of iterative changes are a normal process for fine tuning a plane to your preference.

    Here are the final numbers...at least for the 2006 season.

    Multiply 36v (10s voltage under load) x 83amps (measured) = 2988 watts (confirmed by wattmeter). The result is 3000w x 2 motors = 6000w = 8h.p.

    My best estimate when adding up the weight changes from the single AXI to the double AXI power system has the all-up weight at 22.5lbs which gives me a power level of 266w/lb. If I replace my rather heavy and older 2p 2100mAh cells with newer 1p 5000mAh cells, I can drop 21oz (or 1-1/4lbs) while increasing the flight time by 20%. This would increase the power level to about 282w/lb. The additional 3/4" extension to the gear mains really helped the ground clearance using the 28x10 Mejzlik prop.


    As I watched Team JR's Devin McGrath fly the Edge 540 well beyond my own skills, I can't help but think what new electric flight technology is just around the corner. Over the winter months, I will likely replace my older worn out cells with newer, lighter cells that will increase performance and flying time. I can now safely recharge and balance my LiPo packs in the plane using the BalancePro HD 6s chargers from FMA Direct. Newer 12s (12-cell LiPo) ESCs are already on the market and we know that Jeti is testing their own 12s and 15s ESC designs in Europe. We have also heard reports of people breaking the 10,000 watt power level. The possibilities for electric flight are endless and it is an exciting part of the hobby to help push the envelope and work with others that share your enthusiam.

    33% Edge 540

    Gear Mains Extension:

    I made a 3/4" extension to my gear mains out of a solid piece of oak finishing wood. This will mostly negate the added 1" from the new 28x10 Mejzlik carbon prop. I then cut the front section off the cover plate now that the gear mains are flush with the fuselage bottom.

    Dual Regulators:

    On a tip from Team Futaba's Dan Landis, I installed dual 10-amp Power Force regulators to provide more current to the dual rudder servos. The regulators are positive controlled and they will work fine with common ground. Since they are push type only, they can also be paralleled on the positive side too. The second regulator tip from Dan is an easy solution to eliminate blowback on my two rudder servos.

    Air Exit:

    To keep things cool during the heavy demands of 3D flying, it is important to have good air flow. I cut the covering away from the bottom side of the fuselage for an air exit. This allows the incoming air from the cowl through the holes in the firewall to flow through the plane during flight.

    Hangar 9
    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
    Website: www.horizonhobby.com

    FMA Direct
    5716A Industry Lane
    Frederick, MD 21704
    Website: www.fmadirect.com
    Sales: 800-343-2934 or 301-668-7614

    Hobby Lobby
    5614 Franklin Pike Cr.
    Brentwood, TN 37027

    Desert Aircraft
    1815 South Research Loop
    Tucson, Arizona 85710
    (520) 722-0607.

    JR Digital Servos and Matchboxes
    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
    Website: www.horizonhobby.com

    ROMCO Manufacturing, Inc.
    100 West 1st Street
    Deer Park, Texas 77536
    Website: www.truturn.com

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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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