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FMA Skysprite RTF

Old 12-19-2004, 12:43 PM
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Greg Covey
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Default FMA Skysprite RTF

Hi,

I'm reviewing the new Skysprite from [link=https://www.fmadirect.com/site/home.htm]FMA Direct[/link].

The Skysprite is a mini Ready-To-Fly (RTF) plane with a 14 3/8" wing span. All the electronics, including a 27MHz transmitter, are part of the kit. The 3-cell, 150mAh NiMH battery pack is also included which will allow 5 minutes of flying time. The charger for NiMH battery is built right into the transmitter case. The transmitter operates on 6 AA Alkaline batteries (not included). This airplane is equipped with a unique, proprietary tiny fan in the tail to control yaw (rudder left or right). The motor for propulsion is on/off type controlled by a trigger on the transmitter.

The complete package includes the fully assembled plane, 2-channel transmitter w/ charger, spare spinner and propeller, front and rear landing gear, rechargable NiMH battery and wind tester ribbon.

An optional Skysprite Lipo Package is also available that includes a 350mAh Lithium Polymer Battery and Charger to double your flight time!
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Old 12-19-2004, 12:56 PM
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Greg Covey
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

In the Box:

The Skysprite arrives well protected in a custom box that also acts as a carry case for transporting. The landing gear mains simply pull out when storing the plane back in the box.

The package comes with a well written manual and a decal sheet to add some final touches to your plane.
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Old 12-19-2004, 01:09 PM
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Greg Covey
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Assembly:

The first step of the assembly is to cut some slots for the trim tabs in the wing, rudder, and elevator. I decided to skip this step for now as I would likely be test flying it indoors fo rthe first time and could easily make adjustments at that time, if needed.

The gear mains and tailwheel simply press into place.
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Old 12-19-2004, 01:11 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

The transmitter is loaded with 6 AA-size Alkaline batteries. The proper orientation is shown in the manual and on the transmitter case inside.

I had some difficulty getting the battery cover back on after inserting the batteries but it finally seemed to work.

The 3-cell, 150mAh NiMH pack simply plugs into the charger socket on the transmitter. You press and hold the charge button until the charge indicator changes from red to a pale blue or white color.

The transmitter has a battery status indicator to determine the strength of the 6 AA cells. When you turn on the transmitter, the three status lights above the On/Off switch tell you the following:

Red Green Red Voltage (Status)
ON...ON....ON....9.0.....(Ready)
ON...ON....off....7.5.....(Ready)
ON...dim...off.....6.5....(Marginal - Airplane Battery takes longer to charge)
ON...off....off.....5.5....(Poor - Don’t charge or fly off)
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Old 12-19-2004, 01:27 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

The charged battery pack fits into a custom compartment with hatch on the bottom side of the plane.
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Old 12-19-2004, 01:32 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Note the unique tail fan for steering the plane to the left or right. This is often seen in a helicopter but not so often on a plane. The design allows for simple tail control without the need for linkage rods or rudder hinging.
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Old 12-19-2004, 09:45 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Any vids of it flying? That's a pretty unique steering system, I'd like to see it in action.
Old 12-20-2004, 09:13 AM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

There will be video after our next indoor meet on January 9th.

My Skysprite is RTF at 1.6oz with the 0.5oz 3-cell NiMH pack.
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Old 12-21-2004, 10:41 AM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

The new Skysprite is shown next to my [link=http://www.gregcovey.com/micro_taxi.htm]Micro Taxi[/link] that I converted from electric free-flight to R/C using an RFFS100 module. The size of the two planes is very similar and the wing design looks identical.

Although the Skysprite does not have proportional control of the throttle or rudder, it also costs only about 1/4 the price.
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Old 12-30-2004, 11:54 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Hello Greg -

Have you flown your Skysprite yet? If so how did you like it, and how would you compare its performance and desirability with the Wattage Micro Flyer? Any other micro cheapy rtf's worth considering? The Skysprite looks like a fun little plane.

Thanks and a fine 2005 to you.
Old 12-31-2004, 08:54 AM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Hi,

Our last indoor meet for December was cancelled so I'm waiting for the second week in January to fly it. This time of year, I really want to see what it can do indoors. I expect it to fly much like my Micro Taxi did, perhaps a little hotter since it weighs 0.3oz more.

If we can get a decent day, i'll try it outside. Since Winter has not settled in yet, the weather conditions change every day.

Happy New Year!
Old 01-11-2005, 01:47 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

My first two attempts with flying the Skysprite were not successful. The first was outside in a breeze and the second was indoors in a basketballl sized court.

After breaking two props, I decided to go back and follow the directions for the trim tabs which was purposely omitted to see what happens since I felt that most people would likely skip it as well.
Old 01-11-2005, 02:00 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Hello Greg,
I spoke at length last week with the tech support person at FMA direct and he gave such a glowing report of the Sysprite that I decided to order one. Should be here in the next few days. Hmm..I'll have to be careful about the problem you are having. I'll report in when I have flown mine.
Old 01-11-2005, 04:43 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Sounds good. It will be interesting to see what happens once we both set the plane up using trim tabs. I had to first treat it like a normal person would buying a $40 or $50 RTF plane. Now, we can see how it performs under more skilled conditions.
Old 01-12-2005, 10:40 AM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Greg- I bought a Skysprite at the AMA show and waiting for the wind to die down so I can try her out. You said you couldn't get yours to fly,but you don't give any specifics. Did it nose up and stall? Roll right or left? Dive? I believe that "forewarned is forearmed" and I'm itching to try mine. Thanks for all you do,Steve Corbin
Old 01-12-2005, 11:29 AM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Steve,

Mine wanted to pitch up and then stall. When outdoors, the breeze would prevent it from flying, and, without any elevator control, it would simply stall and dive to the ground breaking the prop.

A similar thing happened indoors but without any breeze. Since the wingloading is a bit high, it cannot recover from a stall quickly. To add to the situation, the bang-bang (on/off) throttle control allows for little control on elevation.

I'll try it again after setting the trim tabs for level flight under very calm to dead wind conditions but my gut feeling tells me that it will never be an indoor flyer like my proportional control version. Then again, it was only meant to be an outdoor flyer in no wind conditions.

If you set the trim tabs for just a little up when flying with full throttle, it may work fine in a small field outdoors. The tail rotor may not allow for sharp turns, only gradual turns.
Old 01-13-2005, 06:24 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

I flew my Skysprite today and really had a great time. I flew at a golf course at an elevation over 5000' without the landing gear. Glide testing showed insufficient incidence so I bent the elevators up about 1/32", I also added a small amount of left rudder to yield the "hands off" slight left turn recommended in the manual. After launching with power on I just watched the plane climb out to about 50-75' in a left circle of about 100' dia. I then experimented with controlling the "rotor-rudder"and found that while there is a "lag time" the control authority is adequate. After a few flights I was able to loop and barrel roll and guide the plane right into my hand. I do recommend taking a repair kit along as in the process of pushing the envelope I broke both wings off, which I repaired in 5 minutes with tape and toothpicks. For those who appreciate doing more with less I highly recommend this little plane. An understanding of how rudder-only aerobatics are performed will add to your enjoyment, but it's also fun to just circle around, I even thermalled a little bit.
Old 01-14-2005, 04:35 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

I'm glad to hear that you enjoy the Skysprite, Simpleton. How did you manage areobatics with it? I am pretty new to the sport.

My Skysprite should be arriving today, and I'm really looking forward to it. I ordered mine with the Lipo battery, which the FMA tech guy said will increase the flight time to about 8 minutes - does anyone know of a higher capacity battery that would fit in this plane to increase the flight time even more?
Old 01-15-2005, 01:21 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Redwoodflyer: I hope you have as much fun with your Skysprite as I have. I'm already"hacking" mine,just can't seem to leave well enough alone! You say you're new to the sport so I'll describe rudder-only aerobatics as I would to a raw beginner. Your plane is designed to be stable in pitch,if the plane is flying along at it's"trim" angle-of-attack and it gets disturbed from that condition it will try to get back to it. So let's get some altitude and try some stuff. We will deliberately "disturb" the plane from it's trimmed condition and see what happens.We'll go ahead and assume that your Skysprite is adjusted to fly in a gentle left turn and at an airspeed that allows a decent climb rate while in the"hands-off"condition. So at altitude(minimum 50') we give a right rudder command and hold it long enough to give us about 30 degrees of bank angle,then we let off.The plane will have picked up some extra speed as a result of our spiral,and because she is trimmed for a left turn will level her wings,and as she does so will nose up in an attempt to get back to her original wings-level trim airspeed. We can just watch her nose up into a stall,or we can give another rudder command and let her use that nosing-up energy to carve another turn. What we are doing is controlling airspeed by managing the bank angle. If we hold rudder until the plane picks up a whole bunch of speed and then level the wings we'll get a loop,or if we hit rudder again when she's climbing at high speed at about 45 degrees nose up we'll get a barrel roll. I recommend starting out with gentle "lazy eights".
Old 01-15-2005, 01:39 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Redwoodflyer: I forgot some things I wanted to tell you. Buy extra propellers or learn how to either re-inforce them or repair them. Be sure and perform the glide tests as described in the manual,for these tests you may want to remove the propeller,if you're concerned about the affect on the cg just tape the prop on top of the nose. Adjust the glide with small adjustments of the elevator,and set her up for a gentle left turn(approx.100'dia.)using the rudder tab.For glide testing launch about 5 degrees nose down,practice the gliding launch to find the exact speed that results in the smoothest glide with no oscillations and use the same speed for powered launches only for these use a level or 5 degree nose-up atitude. Fly ing without the landing gear reduces weight and drag and improves performance.
Old 01-15-2005, 01:51 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Thanks so much for the information, Simpleton. That was very generous of you. My Skysprite arrived yesterday (DHL shipping is slow - took nearly two weeks to reach me here on the West coast). It certainly is a cute little plane - can't wait to get it into the air. I'll be flying it this afternoon - nothing fancy, just circles and some figure-eights.

I look forward to hearing about how you hack the Skysprite. I know well the tendency to look at something and say "Hmmm-why not more...? Do you know if it is possible to use a Lipo battery with a larger capacity in this plane than the 350mA that is sold for it?

I'm off to the airfield within the hour..
Old 01-15-2005, 02:27 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Redwoodflyer: I used a lipo cell of unknown capacity(mah) that measures 1 1/4"x2" and weighs I think 15 grams.
Old 01-15-2005, 09:32 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Well, how'd it go?
Old 01-15-2005, 10:06 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

It was exhilarating, hilarious and only slightly tragic. My fiance and I took turns from the hill at the edge of the large forest clearing that we live within. The plane flew quite well - very responsive in making turns (just like the tech guy at FMA direct said), and the only problem was the squirrely little intermittent pockets of breeze that would arrive unbidden here and there in various configurations and directions, taking the plane suddenly off course and into trees, the shed, the southwest fencepost, etc. We broke both wings, the nose cone, and the tail rotor shroud, but clear packing tape and toothpicks kept in in the air! Too bad the plane couldn't be a BIT more rugged. I think in retrospect it would have been a good idea to cover the entire wing and tail surface area with packing tape right out of the box. But what a sweet flyer! My fiance had the best flights, and I think she really got a taste (as did I) of how fun this hobby can be... Tomorrow we'll try it again!
Old 01-16-2005, 03:39 PM
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Default RE: FMA Skysprite RTF

Today's flying was not as steady as yesterday, despite better wind conditions. When I glide test the Skysprite, it seems to be fine, but when I fly it the plane wobbles and noses up and down - it doesnt stall, but just goes nose up and wobbles around. Steering is erratic, and any right turning makes it want to nosedive except for the slightest touch on the controller. Today we're calling it "The Drunken Wasp". Have I thrown the cg off with the tape and toothpicks? How do I get it right again - where should the cg be measured at?

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