RCU Review: Hobbico Electristar Select


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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: February 2007 | Views: 119528 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Hobbico ElectriStar Select

    Review by: Greg Covey
    Flying Photos: "Papa Jeff" Ring
    Video Pilot: Lynn Bowerman

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    Manufacturer
    Electristar Select RTF
    Distributed exclusively by:

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

    Website: www.hobbico.com

    Available at your
    Local Hobby Shop



    Ratings
    Quality
    Performance
    Ease of Assembly
    Looks
    Price
    Manual


    Hits

    Brushless motor, ESC, prop, and spinner already installed
    RTF in very little time
    Great Flying Performance
    Includes Futaba 4EXA Computer Radio System



    Misses
    No issues with the ElectriStar but the NiMH packs need 3 or more cycles before performing well

    Electristar Select

    Performance meets convenience when a traditional .40-sized trainer is redesigned to use today's advanced electric flight technology. The all-new Hobbico ElectriStar Select uses clean and quiet electric power, making it economical to operate and ready to fly in under an hour! Unlike other smaller or underpowered electric trainers, the ElectriStar Select flies just like a .40-sized glow-powered trainer! The ElectriStar Select was engineered from the ground up as an electric-powered plane, so unneeded weight could be removed from the airframe without compromising structural integrity. The factory-installed, high-performance ElectriStar C-42 brushless out-runner motor provides the performance you would expect from a conventional .40-size glow engine. The ElectriStar is stable, strong, and with a wingspan of more than five feet, it's easy to see in the air!

    Key Features:

    • With the computer radio and brushless motor already installed, final assembly takes less than an hour!
    • The two-piece wing slides onto a strong aluminum joiner tube, to speed assembly.
    • A bolt-on tail makes the ElectriStar Select quick to assemble, yet is easy to remove and replace if required.
    • Includes: Futaba® 4EXA 4-channel computer radio w/R168 receiver and 3 servos, 42 mm brushless out-runner motor, Great Planes® ElectriFly 45A brushless ESC

    Specifications:

    Package Name: Hobbico ElectriStar Select RTF
    Price: $349.98 retail

    • Wingspan: 63 in (1600 mm)
    • Wing Area: 709 sq in (45.7 dm2)
    • Weight: 6-6.5 lb (2720-2950 g)
    • Wing Loading: 19-21 oz/ft2 (59-64 g/dm2)
    • Length: 53 in (1345 mm)

    The Electristar requires two 7-cell 8.4v 3000 mAh NiMH battery packs (GPMP0355) or two 7.4v 3200mAh 20C Li-Po discharge batteries with balance connector (GPMP0622) and an appropriate charger. When using the two 7-cell NiMH packs, the recommended Hobbico Dual DC Peak Charger (LXPRL3) can recharge both packs at the same time (Ni-Mh batteries only).

    The included ElectriFly SS-45D Brushless ESC provides superior throttle control and is compatible with either NiCD, NiMH or LiPo batteries.


    RTF Package

     

    The ElectriStar Select comes very well packaged which keeps the parts in perfect condition during shipment. The Ready-To-Fly (RTF) Select version includes a Futaba® 4EXA 4-Channel FM Computer Radio System. With the Futaba 4EXA FM computer radio system, you'll enjoy the performance edge and ease of digital operation. With simple programming operation, you can navigate menus and select your set-ups using just two keys. There's no inconvenience of "trading up" to a new radio in the future — the 4EXA is as useful tomorrow as it is today.

    The all-wood plane comes almost fully assembled and expertly covered with a MonoKote trim scheme. The assembly time is quick because all the servos, linkage, and control horns are already installed and hooked up!

    The landing gear mains, wing mounting parts, prop adapter, and spinner come packaged in groups that are easy to find. The kit also includes an 11x7 e-prop.

    Manuals are supplied for the ElectriStar assembly and Futaba radio setup. A data sheet is included for the installed R168DF dual-conversion, full range 8-channel receiver and an addendum showing proper installation of the prop adapter onto the motor shaft flat spot is also supplied. Note that channels 5-8 on the receiver are not used in this model.

    Fuselage:

    A closer look at the fuselage reveals that most of the assembly and installation has been already completed. The fuselage construction is very solid and feels like a traditional .40-size trainer with the open motor compartment, standard servo bay, and dowel slots to strap on the wing with rubber bands.

    The motor, ESC, receiver pack, receiver, and servos are already installed and hooked up. Even the keepers are in place on each clevis. The motor keeps cool from the open compartment. To keep the flight batteries cool, an air flow system has been built into the ElectriStar with an opening for air in up front and another for air output behind the gear mains. The air flows through a lower deck right over the battery packs to keep them cool which makes them last much longer.

    To show the level of completeness on the ElectriStar design, the On/Off switch has already been mounted in the side of the fuselage and an extension cable is already plugged into channel 1 on the receiver to connect to the aileron servo in the wing. A steerable nose wheel comes pre-assembled with all the linkage attached. The rudder is also ready to go and only the horizontal stabilizer needs to be glued in place, and linkage attached, to complete the tail assembly.


    Assembly

    The assembly begins by pushing the gear mains in place on the bottom side of the fuselage. One side of the nylon strap is already screwed in place so you simply swing it out of the way, insert the gear mains, and then add the second screw to the pre-drilled hole to secure it.

    The wooden wing holder dowels are inserted with the longer one up front. I secured them in place with a small amount of CA glue. Either medium or thin will work fine here. The 4 plastic covers are then screwed over the dowel ends into pre-drilled holes.

    If you are just starting out in R/C, the Tower Hobbies Easy Tote Kit is a low cost solution to organize your tools and hold the plane fuselage upside down for easier assembly and maintenance.

    The horizontal stabilizer slides into the slot in the rear of the fuselage and is secured with two screws through the pre-drilled holes.

    The clevis is then clipped onto the control horn and secured by a snap fit as well as the safety keeper tubing.

    The prop adapter was secured to the flat spot on the motor shaft by first applying some ZAP Z-42 thread locker to the set screw and then tightening it with the supplied hex wrench.
    The prop, spinner, and backplate all fit perfectly without modification. The prop is secured by a second larger supplied hex wrench.
    The spinner is secured by two supplied screws.

    The wing halves slide together using an aluminum rod and wooden dowel to align and support it. The latches are then secured with screws into the pre-drilled holes.

    I connected the aileron linkage up and tested the electronics using the supplied receiver battery that I charged overnight along with the transmitter. The Futaba radio comes with a dual wall charger to charge both the receiver battery and transmitter at the same time. Remember to turn on the transmitter first and then flip the receiver switch on the side of the fuselage second.

    To my surprise, not only were the elevator, rudder, and ailerons all going in the correct direction but I didn't need to trim any of the surfaces!

    Battery Options:

    The Electristar is designed for several battery options. You can use either two 7-cell NiCd/NiMH packs in series or two 2-cell LiPo packs in series or a single 4-cell LiPo pack. When using a single 4-cell LiPo pack, you need to create a shorting stub for one side of the existing dual battery connection scheme. I created one using a mating Dean's Ultra battery connector. The shorting jumper wire was then covered with black shrink wrap tubing. I measured the current and power using two 7-cell 3000mAh packs and a single 4-cell 3200mAh (20C) LiPo pack.

    • 27amps (190w * 2=380w) w/two 7-cell 3000mAh NiMH packs (30oz total)
    • 30amps (440w) w/single 4-cell 3200mAh (20C) LiPo pack (14oz)

    Note that the power level was higher using the 4-cell LiPo pack due to a slightly higher voltage output under load. Also note that the LiPo pack weighs a full pound less than the two NiMH packs! This will drastically increase your watts per pound rating.

    • 380w/6lb = 63w/lb using two NiMH packs
    • 440w/5lb = 88w/lb using a single LiPo pack

    The 63w/lb power level of the two 7-cell NiMH packs should provide good trainer power with some limited aerobatic capability. The 88w/lb level using the LiPo pack will provide the ElectriStar with strong aerobatic performance. A good scenario here might be to first learn to fly the ElectricStar as a trainer using less expensive NiMH packs and then upgrade at a later time to a LiPo pack (or packs) to make the ElectriStar fly like a sport plane and push your skills to a higher level.

    My ElectriStar was Ready-To-Fly at 73oz (4.5lbs) without the flight battery. The all-up weights are as follows:

    • 73oz + 30oz = 103oz (6.4lbs) using two 7-cell 3000mAh NiMH packs
    • 73oz + 14oz = 87oz (5.4lbs) using a 4-cell 3200mAh LiPo pack




    Test Flying

    We flew the ElectriStar on a relatively calm December afternoon with winds from 5-10mph and it performed very well. The maiden flight was performed using the two NiMH packs and the second flight used the lighter LiPo pack. Both flights were caught on video. Even though the grass was rough and muddy, the ElectriStar handled it well. We could loop it, roll it, and fly some very low passes. The plane flew stabile and landed easily.

    The only issue I saw was some pulsing on the maiden flight takeoff. It appears that the NiMH packs had a problem delivering the current at full throttle after their first few charges. The initial flight time was only 7 minutes. However, they did improve after a few cycles. The issue was not seen using the (20C) 3200mAh LiPo packs that can deliver 64 amps.

    The first video shows the maiden flight of the ElectriStar using the two 7-cell NiMH packs in series as a stock configuration. The take-off used 3/4 throttle as we noticed some motor surging likely due to the new NiMH packs still needing a few cycles to gain strength. Flight times were eventually about 10-13 minutes (after a few battery cycles) depending upon aerobatics performed. The pilot for my video flight was Lynn Bowerman.


    See the stock ElectriStar EP in action!
    CLICK HERE (10meg)

    The second video flight used a 4-cell 3200mAh (20C) LiPo pack which weighed 1lb less than the two NiMH packs. The short take-off used only 1/2 throttle. Although the plane flew fine using the two NiMH packs, the lighter LiPo pack really gave the ElectriStar extra spirit. Using a plug-in LiPo pack makes for a great (and easy) upgrade once you have mastered the ElectriStar as a trainer.


    See the LiPo-powered ElectriStar in action!
    CLICK HERE (12meg)

    Summary

    The brushless electric-powered Hobbico ElectriStar Select is a complete Ready-To-Fly package needing only the battery packs and charger. This traditional .40-size trainer design flies quietly and without needing a clean-up. The maintenance-free brushless motor and controller system provides plenty of power for either sport aerobatics or basic trainer fun.

    The manual calls for using 14 rubber bands which are included in the kit. The last 2 rubber bands are crossed over to help keep the others on. This redundancy of 7 bands per side offers good strength and stability so I usually do a visual check for cracked or dried out rubber bands when I put them on. If they are marginal, they usually break when you try to apply them. Sometimes they last for a few weeks or a few flights depending on the storage conditions and weather conditions. When not in use, I keep the rubber bands in a sealed plastic bag.

    RCU's Matt Kirsch remarked, "Hobbico has a history of providing excellent parts support, so if you do break a major part of the plane so badly that it isn't worth repairing (no such thing as "can't be repaired" with a wooden-framed plane), you will be able to buy major components. Should you totally destroy the plane beyond reasonable reparability, that power system will transfer to other .40-size trainer and "second" planes with some minor modifications."

    ElectriStar parts are available at Tower Hobbies.

    The ElectriStar makes a good first plane when trained in the traditional R/C club manner of having an instructor for help. If you have already flown an R/C plane then the ElectriStar makes a fine second plane for aerobatic sport flying. The included Futaba® 4EXA 4-channel computer radio allows up to 4 different model setups to be stored in memory, making it a great radio system for additional planes.

    ElectriStar Select














    Manufacturer Info

    Hobbico Home Page

    Hobbico ElectriStar Select
    Distributed Exclusively by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Available at your Local Hobby Shop

    Website: www.hobbico.com
    Distributor: www.TowerHobbies.com

    ZAP Glues & Pacer Z-42 Thread Locker at
    Frank Tiano Enterprises


    Comments on RCU Review: Hobbico Electristar Select

    Posted by: jpjamie on 06/11/2008
    This model with a "hacked" five cell pack of A-123 batteries is a great way to go.
    Posted by: gabriel alain on 07/25/2009
    I would like to know if I can buy only the fuselage of my electristar... If it is possible ... where and how it will be the price....? I am in problem...
    Posted by: gabriel alain on 07/25/2009
    I would like to know if I can buy only the fuselage of my electristar... If it is possible ... where and how it will be the price....? I am in problem...
    Posted by: Greg Covey on 07/26/2009
    Tower Hobbies has the fuselage in stock for $36. Simply use the link below or type "Electristar" into the Tower Hobbies search window. http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXRAX2&P=ML
    Posted by: jcjr7 on 11/05/2009
    Any one out there be willing to solder up two a123 5 cell packs for me? I have all the parts,shrink wrap,deans plugs on wires, balancing taps and battery bars. I am in NC or could ship stuff.
    Posted by: jcjr7 on 11/05/2009
    Any one out there be willing to solder up two a123 5 cell packs for me? I have all the parts,shrink wrap,deans plugs on wires, balancing taps and battery bars. I am in NC or could ship stuff.
    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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