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Friday, July 8, 2011

Yak vs. Yak Standings

7/6/2011 - 3:00PM 
Street prices include shipping
Art-Tech Yak 54 (37")
Highlights:  You can't have much more fun for the money.  Incredible floater.  Perfect Yak CG out of the box at 40% chord line.  Cheap enough to throw in a brushless .10 motor upgrade and still be 40% less than the next lowest price Yak (which used the same motor).  Phenomenal roll rate for foam.  Best thrust to weight ratio and lowest wing loading of the group.  Excellent slow flyer; floats like hydrogen dirigible.

Lowlights:   Foam airframe needs a carbon wing slat (added for $5) but still isn't very precise.  Hinges are foam and should be taped.  Cheap nylon gear servos are overtaxed, especially the single aileron servo.  Without reinforcement the landing gear is so pliable the prop is very vulnerable.

Great Planes Yak-54 (41")
Highlights:  Light wing loading made it "feel" like it could be the flight characteristic winner every time it took off.  Incredibly strong one piece airframe, though the elevator is a bit thin.  Fantastic floater with good speed and violence.  Great control surfaces with 45 degree+ throws.  Looks the part.  Superior ARF workmanship for under $100, before Tower's typical 15% club member discount.  Best point in the value curve for limited space and budget, and arguably the best Yak hands-down. 

Lowlights:  The smaller scale makes it struggle for precision in wind, though it handles wind well for its light wing loading.  Slight wing rock when fully stalled in a down elevator.  One piece plane once assembled.  Difficult color scheme for orientation.  Cheap wheel pants that aren't true to the plane anyway.  Need to add your own tail wheel.

E-Flight Carbon-Z Yak-54 (48")
Highlights:  Great static thrust and hovering power.   Great looking color scheme.  Great control throws and hinge assemblies for a foamie. 

Lowlights:  Still has the usual carbon-reinforced foamie lack of precision.  Roll coupling from it's non-symmetrical Extra 200 airframe and erroneous low mounted wing--doesn't fly like a Yak.  Battery compartment is far forward of the CG so you are limited to one size.  The motor pulls hard, but reliability as shipped is questionable and likely unsafe.  Flies nose heavy especially inverted, with limited interior options for CG movement.  Least stable in slow flight.  Lots of noise with limited speed.  Huge control throws on the ground, but those big throws didn't seem to show up in the air like the others.  Metal gear servos exhibited poor centering requiring endless trim clicks; probably contributed to the plane's imprecision while maneuvering. Weak fuselage with no foam reinforcement, carbon, ply or otherwise--typical Horizon Hobby "in your face" false advertising.  The finish gets dented and paint marked up just by looking at it.   Expensive choice for the aerodynamic performance and cheap components.  

Great Planes Yak-55M (51")
Highlights:  Astonishing pattern precision and perfect tracking for a Yak, while retaining excellent 3D violence--the foward/aft CG limits change that behavior, with both ends of the spectrum providing uncompromised performance.  GP says it has a big plane feel in a relatively small package, I found that true.  Awesome flexibility with the Rimfire 32--from monster truck low pitch speed static pull to high speed Dopplers with a faster prop, all with causal amps.  Incredible airframe value at $140, with superb workmanship. The aerodynamic dominance of this Yak could be due to the 55 airframe. 

Lowlights:  Stunning stability in slow flight steals stall cues and could make it easy to run out of airspeed and ideas.  6 minute flight times with the recommended 12 x 6 prop and 2200mAh battery, but a 12" prop can't tax the motor nor provide the most satisfying 3D experience--needs a 13"+ with a bigger battery to stay up longer.

HobbyKing  Monster Yak-54 (59")
Highlights:  $139 pricetag ($204 shipped to the US).  Tons more carbon fiber and wood reinforcement than the "Carbon-Z" Yak:  a 37" carbon fiber tube for a 59" span, or 63% (the "Carbon-Z" tube is only 24", or 50% of the wingspan).  Built like the Russians actually designed it, extremely sturdy with lots of plywood in all the major pieces and parts.  Great hardware kit: every control surfaces is pre-hinged with pivoting nylon hinges; all the control horns are infinitely adjustable 1/8" wide steel rods with three steel screws instead of the usual two; all the servos are metal gears with a dedicated servo for each half-surface--two aileron servos, two elevator servos (allows you to run elevons), and one rudder servo; massive steel landing gear. 

Lowlights:   Too tail heavy as shipped.  Battery compartment is far forward of the CG so you are limited to one size.  

Obtaining a larger battery to fly with proper balance....




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