What do we have here? A highly welcome replica of the most commonly used airframe in the world of Red Bull air racing in a conveniently sized electric ARF form factor should be all the information an enthusiast needs to give the Flitework Edge 540 a deeper look.
The Flitework Edge 540 is an electric only ARF airframe with a generous wing span of 66.9″ and also beautifully dressed up in the Red Bull scheme which is painted Oracover. It is meant to be assembled quickly and flown fast so without any delay, lets see what is provided, put her together and get her out to the field for some heart pounding action.
- Printed Oracover Red Bull Scheme
- Nice Performance
- Large easy access hatch
- None found
The Flitework Edge 540 arrives in a modestly decorated box with all of the components of the airframe individually wrapped and taped down for security. The box performed its task of protecting the contents during shipment quite well as there was no damage to any of the components during my first inspection.
Price: $399.99 (at time of review)
- Fuselage, wings, tail panels and control surfaces factory-assembled from laser-cut wooden components
- Ready-made GRP cowl, wheel pants, painted
- Vacuum-molded canopy
- Aluminum landing gear and light wheels
- All components covered with printed Oracover
- Comprehensive illustrated building instructions
- Wing Span: 1700 mm
- Wing Loading: 71 g sp dm
- Wing Area: 50.2 dm2
- Fuse Length: 1570 mm
- Weight: 3600 g
The first thing that will catch your eye as you start to remove the components from the box is the painted Oracover that the Edge 540 is dressed up in featuring the highly sought out Red Bull scheme. The fuselage is built from laser cut parts and built fairly light and strong with a lot of space to place your electronics inside. The hatch is vacuum formed and painted. It is held on with dowels in the front a sliding latch on top of the turtle deck which is also backed by light foam. All of the access holes for servos, leads and wing and stabilizer tubes have been precut.
The wings of the Edge 450 are absolutely beautiful. They feature the rich Red Bull graphics along with the swept and curved wing tips of the full scale Edge 540. The control surfaces all feature pin type hinges. The horizontal stabilizer and elevators are air foiled which is a plus for a model of this size.
There are only a handful of bags containing the parts required to assemble the airframe. While the Edge 540 can be powered by a variety of motors and ESC combos out there, Tower Hobbies also stocks the perfect setup (LXEYKJ) for this airframe which includes a FW5065/380 Brushless motor, 80A ESC, 17x10E propeller and all the nuts and bolts and connectors to assemble the setup in the airframe. Even though it is not shown in the picture of the power setup, the box that I received also contained a spinner which was a plus. The recommended servos for this airframe are the Tactic TACM0245 full size servos for the rudder and ailerons and the TACM0225 mini servos for the elevator. While the full size servos have metal gears, the recommended elevator servos are plastic gears.
The manual for the Edge 540 is brief but detailed enough where anyone with any ARF building experience will only use it as a reference as the small part count and the design of the airframe lends it self to an intuitive and easy assembly process. About the only issue I had with the build of the Edge 540 was the installation of the wheel pants. As can be seen from the above pictures, when the wheel pants were installed, there was a significant gap between the wheel pant and the aluminum gear. This was mainly due to the precut slot not being cut high enough in the wheel pant. After I enlarged the slot, the fit was much better. The manual also recommended that a wood screw be used to hold the wheel pant in place however, I opted to drill a larger hole and use a 4-40 bolt and blind nut.
The main and tail gear are then attached to the fuselage and the airframe is on its feet in not time at all. The rudder can be hinged and wired up using the supplied pull-pull assembly.
The recommended servos fit in the pre-cut slots with no issues and getting all the control surfaces setup with the provided linkages posed no challenges. All surfaces except the rudder pull-pull system feature short and slop free control linkages. I used Du-Bro heavy duty control arms to get maximum deflection from all surfaces.
The motor and ESC supplied in the power setup (LXEYKJ) for this airframe are then installed using the bolts and spacers supplied with the kit. Adjusting the cowl spacing only required the use of one set of spacers. The ESC was taped to the side of the battery compartment with double sided tape. When installing the cowl, make sure you cut out the hole in the bottom (as it is not mentioned in the manual) for cooling. Also, install the hatch and make sure it can be easily inserted and removed before drilling the holes for the cowl. The cut on the bottom of the cowl will help with that.
One of the coolest features of the Edge 540 is the sticker that is provided to place on the bottom of the airframe which is a photo taken from the full size airframe. Make sure you adjust the location with the wing installed as you do not want this to be covered by the wing. There is ample space to install your receiver and flight battery. I was able to achieve the desired C.G. with the battery positioned as shown in the picture above which allowed for easy removal from the airframe for charging.
The Edge 540 is very easy to transport and setup at the field due to its plug in wings. The hatch is easily removed and two servo connections and wing bolts are all that is required to be assembled before flight. The flight battery is easily installed in the generous nose area but trying to push it further in the nose presents a small challenge to strap it in since the cowl is right over the area where you would want to place a strap.
With all of the typical field preparation and checking out of the way, the Edge 540 was ready for its first flight. With a fully charged flight pack, we took the Edge out to the runway, lined her up and advanced the throttle to bring the tail up and take to the skies for its first flight. Roll out and take off did not pose anything out of the ordinary and it was noted that the steerable tail gear was pretty solid for the brief time that it was actually making contact with the ground.
Once in the air, we trimmed out the airframe and started to experiment with its flight envelope. At full throttle, the Edge 540 and the recommended power system really pulls this airframe around which is fitting for its racer nature. The color scheme is very visible and it was easy to differentiate top from bottom when the airframe was at a distance from us. The pitch was right on during various different passes at varying throttle settings which is a sign of a good airframe.
After a few more passes, we rolled the Edge on its side and noted that knife edge flight was a breeze. There was minimal coupling from the rudder which was easy to fly out with minimal inputs from the ailerons and elevator. Attempting a knife edge loop though was where the coupling was more exaggerated and we had difficulty keeping the airframe in a perfect knife edge throughout the maneuver.
Snaps, stall turns, point rolls were all easily performed and did not present anything out of the ordinary. The Edge 540 performs a very nice Avalanche with the wings leveling out pretty well after the snap on the top of the loop most of the time.
When it was time to slow the airframe down for some high alpha, we were immediately greeted by an unwelcome wing rock. For the most part, it was easy to compensate for however when we were trying to steer around in high alpha using the rudder, the airframe felt a bit too ready to tip stall. Quick burst of power from the powerful motor would easily bring the nose up during these situations but over all it could be described as a bit mushy and I believe this is an artifact of the narrow wings and the speed of the servos that were used. I think the recommended servos are a bit on the slow side, and that coupled with large amounts of exponential on the control surfaces made 3D flight not very enjoyable.
Bringing the nose up vertical and attempting some hovering and torque rolling, the effect of the slower servos were more noticeable. This was most apparent on the rudder servo. On later flights, I changed the rudder servo out for a faster, more powerful servo and it was significantly better for controlling the rudder during hovering. In general, the Edge 540 is 3D capable but seems to be happier flying fast and precise. Shifting the CG back helped in this manner but this made the airframe more sensitive to rudder coupling. Overall, not a big deal as this airframe is really a racer anyway.
When it came down to landing, the Edge 540 exhibited a very predictable and controllable glide ratio as all that was required to land it perfectly every time was to simply line her up with the runway, cut the throttle and watch her glide in for a smooth landing.
Kudos to Flitework for bringing us a rare Red Bull schemed Edge 540 which is a very nice scale replica of the full size racer. The airframe is built light and well and assembles quickly with almost no issues observed. When flown at speed, the flight envelope of the Edge 540 is very pleasing and does well in allowing us modelers to feel at least a fraction of what the pilots of these real airframes could be feeling as they are risk their lives while flying their airplanes at neck breaking speeds though the pylons of the race course.