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Friday, January 28, 2011

HEAD-2-HEAD: UMX Beast vs. TechOne Eagle



After my Beast review came in at a sorry D+ primarily for the ridiculous price tag, one attentive storefront immediately slashed the price by $40 to align the plane with its build quality and 3D abilities.  That was an excellent move, but Horizon quickly caught up to them and canceled the deal for crossing the picket line.  Now its time to see if their high priced Beast can earn it's place on the eye-level store shelf...

Price as tested:
UMX Beast BNF = $170
Time to assemble = Charge battery and insert, bind
TechOne Mini Eagle Bipe "BNF" = $105
Airframe = $30
Mini Flight Pack w/C10 motor, ESC, 2 props, and mini servos = $70
OrangeRx receiver = $8
7.4V 300 mAh 2-Cell = $12 (w/standard connector)
-$15 Tower Hobbies home page discount
No charger, but the E-Flight AC adapter costs as much
Time to assemble = 6 hours

Build and Ground Testing:

First, some static, installed thrust numbers and stats:

Test Area
Result
Eflight UMX Beast
Empty Weight
2.0 oz
Flying Weight w/120mAh 2-cell
Wing Loading (oz/sqft)
2.2 oz
3.78
Installed Thrust (5x3 prop) @ RPM
3.0 oz @ 10,310
Max T:W Ratio
1.36
1:1 T:W
80% Throttle
Run Time – Full Throttle
2:24 to LVC
Run Time – 60% Throttle
4:53 to LVC
TechOne Mini Eagle Bipe
Empty Weight
2.2 oz *
Flying Weight w/300 mAh 2-cell
Wing Loading (oz/sqft) 
2.9 oz
4.91 **
Installed Thrust (5x3 prop) @ RPM
Installed Thrust (4x2.5 prop) @ RPM
6.1 oz @ 12,480
3.9 oz @ 16,320
Max T:W Ratio (5x3 prop)
Max T:W Ratio (4x2.5 prop)
2.10
1.34
1:1 T:W (5x3 prop)
1:1 T:W (4x2.5 prop)
50% Throttle
70% Throttle
Run Time – Full Throttle (5x3 prop)
Run Time – Full Throttle (4x2.5 prop)
4:41 to LVC
4:59 to LVC
Run Time – 45% Throttle (5x3 prop) ***
Run Time – 60% Throttle (4x2.5 prop)
11:48 to LVC 
7:35 to LVC

























          * 0.7 oz heavier than spec   
          ** Spec is 3.22
          *** Similar T:W to the Beast set at 60%

So we can see already, the TechOne's Mini Flight Pack brings some serious game to their Mini Eagle. The quirky E-flight power system can't compete in the ground tests.  No doubt, the great looking Russian radial cowl shown off by the Beast steals more thrust from prop blockage than the clunky but narrow rectangular cowl that adorns the the Eagle.  Even so, it's clear the totally wimpy 2,300 kV E-Flight 180 Brushless motor can't keep up with the 3,400 kV TechOne C10 Brushless power package.

Perhaps most impressive, the Techone Eagle maintains greater than 1:1 thrust for the entire 4:41 minutes at full power, only LVC arrival cuts off the tremendous power of the C10 brushless system and the 300 mAh 2-cell battery.  And my slightly strengthened Eagle is weighing in almost an ounce heavier than spec. 

As I stated in my Beast review, Beast build quality is good for an E-Flight micro, which translates into: fragile.  Build time is agonizing for those who like to build stuff.  There is none.

The EPP foam Eagle is different, but not necessarily better.  The foam is blocky and a lot uglier, but doesn't crease when bent by miniscule mistake.  The Eagle's paint job resembles a fine pair of pre-washed jeans.  In final form though, the homely foam's strength to bounce ratio is basically impossible to break.  It begs to be tossed as a battery-off glider, and so I did that (a lot) without damage.  Out of control flight, to random crash onto a hard surface might generate 10% of the required force to create damage.  The little Eagle is ugly and unbreakable with a decently vague likeness to a Pitts for a flat foam build.

It took me about 6 hours of mostly thinking to build the little Pitts foamie.  The TechOne Mini Flight pack is a thing of beauty--everything you need but the battery and Rx is included.  TechOne's electric component quality is an order of magnitude better than the Beast's flimsy little bare circuit board devices.  The power system is also in a much higher performance class, Mini Eagle motor build quality has a visual edge--an intricate little jewel that screams at 16,000+ RPM.


Test Area
Score
Weight %
Beast Pts
Eagle Pts

 (1-10)

55.80
59.36
Assembly, Build & Appearance (20%)
Eflight UMX Beast
Ease of Assembly
10
5%
5.00

Component Quality
2
5%
1.00

Projected Durability
4
5%
2.00

Appearance
10
5%
5.00

TechOne Mini Eagle Bipe
Ease of Assembly
3
5%

1.50
Component Quality
10
5%

5.00
Projected Durability
6
5%

3.00
Appearance
4
5%

2.00
Power/Battery System (15%)
Eflight UMX Beast
Battery System
3
5%
1.50

Installed T:W Ratio
7
5%
3.50

Run Time - Max Power
2
3%
0.60

Run Time - Sport
4
2%
0.80

TechOne Mini Eagle Bipe
Battery System
8
5%

4.00
Installed T:W Ratio
10
5%

5.00
Run Time - Max Power
5
3%

1.50
Run Time - Sport
8
2%

0.16
Flight Test (40%)
Eflight UMX Beast
Straight Lines
8
4%
3.20

 Aileron Roll
10
4%
4.00

 Loop
8
4%
3.20

 C8
7
4%
2.80

 Hammer Head
8
4%
3.20

Torque Roll
5
4%
2.00

 Snap Roll/Spins
6
4%
2.40

 Knife Edge
9
4%
3.60

Hover
3
4%
1.20

Slow Flight
7
4%
2.80

TechOne Mini Eagle Bipe
Straight Lines
9
4%

3.60
 Aileron Roll
5
4%

2.00
 Loop
6
4%

2.40
 C8
6
4%

2.40
 Hammer Head
8
4%

3.20
Torque Roll
5
4%

2.00
 Snap Roll/Spins
10
4%

4.00
 Knife Edge
8
4%

3.20
Hover
3
4%

1.20
Slow Flight
3
4%

1.20
Cost (25%)
Eflight UMX Beast
Current Street Price
4
20%
8.00

TechOne Mini Eagle Bipe
Current Street Price
6
20%

12.00

Z8RC final grades -

Techone Mini Eagle: C+ (Neutral)
E-Flight UMX Beast: D+ (Avoid)

After flying these planes, it is apparent to me that neither is a particularly good deal--but for different reasons.  The Mini Eagle, as tested, has a ton of power and the price is right, but it really flies closer to sport than 3D.  The UMX Beast's aerobatic capabilities and precision are a little closer to a 3D plane, but it is priced higher than a fully capable 30-50" span, true 3D aerobat. 

Both planes are really fun and flywell considering their small size.  If you want a really fun micro that has unlimited vertical, good aerobatic capability, and flies arrow-straight with strong self-righting stability (the bottom wing has heavy dihedral), don't hesitate to pick up a Mini Eagle.  The Eagle is made of thick, near indestructible foam, through the gear is a weak spot which exposes the bottom-protruding aileron servo to ground strikes (fixed with the quick addition of another carbon fiber rod).  Overall, it is a much stronger kit than the Beast with your choice of high quality electrical components and radio.

If money is no object and you want a plane that can do some 3D maneuvers and fits in your passenger seat, the Beast could make sense.  But you get extremely weak PCB servos, all-in-one electrics, and an expensive proprietary battery system without a complete charger.  All this can be yours for more than a decked out, 41" span balsa and ply Great Planes Edge 540/Su-31/Yak-54, or similar.

Overall, I found this review enlightening but disappointing.  Both planes are not functional micros in that they are best flown in an area the size of a few adjacent tennis courts.  Neither plane is capable of indoor aerobatics, though both could fly circuits in a gym with low-intermediate skill.   Given its high speed, so-so 3D ability, and high price tag, I still can't think of a valid niche for the UMX Beast.  The only real strengths it displayed during test, compared to so many far more capable planes in its price range, were great looks and easy storage.  Its weaknesses are more formidable, including sky high pricing, plain lousy servo quality, and flimsy crash resistance.  The Mini Eagle has something of a niche: it is a low cost sport-to-3D aerobat that works in a  fairly confined outdoor space, with very high quality electrics.

January 28, 2011 Addendum: Both these plane fly much better slow speed aerobatics (harrier, hover, slow flight and coordinated turns) with the CG jammed back.  The Beast battery can majority disappear into the fuse, halving its easily controllable cruise speed with high alpha and solid rudder coordination.  The Mini Eagle batt can fold into the fuse around the landing gear attach point for much the same effect.

Of the two planes, the Eagle is the better slow flier, but requires exceptional rudder coordination given the amount of thrust and torque generated.  The Eagle motor and fan are so powerful that when in hangs on the prop, it simply can't turn right using aileron, rudder is not only primary, but the only way to wrench the nose right.  Thankfully, the rudder has extreme throw and is almost ridiculously effective (needs copious expo).

Both aerobats, once dialed in, are incredibly fun fliers.  The Eagle was a lot harder to set up, but is really coming into it's own and might be the more capable aerobat at this point.  It is definitely the better sportster, but can do some wild things for those with the skills to toss it while coordinating a very dominant  gyroscope on the nose.  The Eagle is an odd combination of extreme maneuverability and self-righting straight line stability.  The Beast is pure fun too, it seems the CG is simply way too far forward, as sold and documented.  Makes sense to keep the plane nose heavy, but it ruins most of the aerobatic prowess of the design to fasten the battery at the recommended location.
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