Searching Z8RC.com for the best match.........

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Z8RC Breaks 100,000 Views

I would like to extend a warm welcome to Z8RC's 100,000th visitor!  It's good to know so many people crave honesty and upfront RC product reviews. 

The days of RC vendor-owned, aggressively policed RC forums posting covertly compensated sales pitches parading as "glowing reviews" are numbered.  The public has caught on.  People want 100% honest, 100% unpaid, 100% unsponsored RC "review" sites such as Z8RC.  

(In my best Barack Obama voice) "Let me be clear," if you see an online RC forum or mag with advertisements plastered all over the place, reading the "reviews" and the permitted postings is a total waste of time--you are literally chatting with the manufacturers and resellers unethically pretending to be consumers.  This low-life brand of scam artistry is as old as business itself.

Z8RC guarantees full objectivity and no vender or reseller compensation, merchandise provision, or sponsorship, whatsoever.  Anything less is fundamentally dishonest.

Soon

Now we're talkin'

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Head2Head - E-Flite UMX Gee Bee R-2 with AS3X vs. Great Planes Gee Bee R-1

Two new Gee Bees are available at about the same fly-away price, it's time to compare the E-Flite UMX Gee Bee R-2 BNF (EFGBR2) to the new Great Planes Gee Bee R-1 RxR (GPGBR1). I took the opportunity to fly them both back to back in light wind for an apples-to-apples test. Here is how they stack up.
The $170 street price E-Flite UMX Gee Bee R-2 (left) has a more graceful, rounded cowling.  E-Flite contrived the wing ribs, presumably to strengthen the micro's thin undercambered foam wing.  The $140 sreet price Great Planes Gee Bee R-1 (right) includes a thick airfoil cross-section and scale black cheater lines between red and black
GPGBR1
First, the most obvious difference is the size and quality of construction. Fit and finish is a contest between the EFGBR2's fluffy, pebbled-finish beer cooler Styrofoam and the GPGBR1's tough and durable, smooth finish EPO hobby-grade aircraft foam, which is no contest.
EFGBR2


Component quality is simply night and day. The EFGBR2's receiver, 5A ESC, AS3X gyros and servos are all on the same ($90) board which is only replaceable as a single unit. It also ties the plane to only one type of radio. The ESC is overstressed as shipped, occasionally shutting down on takeoff and making a reasonable life expectancy suspect. The ($30) 2S 180-size motor is fairly specific to micros, though it is modular if de-soldered. The two ($13.50) external servos are delicate with exposed gearing and a very poor record of reliability.
The AS3X gyro system is an interesting addition to the EFGBR2, it will be discussed in the flying qualities section.

In contrast, the GPGBR1 uses industry standard components: a ($26) 3-4S 3530 light weight motor, a ($50) Silver Series 3-4S 35-40A ESC with switching BEC, and standard ($8.50) entry-level servos. All are much higher quality then the UMX equivalents and can be replaced or upgraded individually.
GPGBR1 (I painted the radial)
While the build quality and workmanship of the EFGBR2 is impressive for a micro, the of the GPGBR1 is bigger and better in basically every respect. Additionally, the EFGBR2 is only semi-scale, the wing planform and airfoil cross-section is not true to the original, though it has a vintage look. The GPGBR1 is an excellent scale rendition, with a lot more detail enabled by it's larger size and mass.
EFGBR2

The GPGBR1 wields a huge advantage in overall quality. You get roughly 10x the airplane for the money: 3.6 oz compared to 36 oz (in 4S form).

In the air:

Competition is a great thing. Without both of these planes the full range of RC possibilities would not be shown. The two share their color scheme; that's where most similarities end.

Overall Impressions:

The E-Flite R-2 is a miniature technology demonstrator. Amazed that this micro can fly at all, innocent bystanders stare in shock as the bouncy red bauble pops off the ground and bee-lines for the tree tops. It’s vintage portrait looks unnaturally solid in the air, as the 3-axis gyro computer stabilization system adds to the high tech feel of the tiny plane. With an ultra micro roar, a full throttle buzz zips by in frantic slow motion. The pass takes enough time for the battery to slightly flatten its pitch, sounding audibly weaker. But like an energetic flea at the circus, the eager little bug ups the ante by performing effortless loops, rolls and poses.

Onlookers involuntarily clap and smile. Girlfriends cling to boyfriends and shriek, “Isn’t that CUTE??”

After pushing the battery way too far for the pure fun of it, you bend the gyro stabilized arc toward high key, then trim and float around to a forced landing. In the flare you request any left-overs the motor might give-up for a tad more rudder control as the wheels tap pavement. Roll-out is a little longer than the 5 feet you planned, it takes like 10 feet to stop.

Cut.

The Great Planes R-1 is a true-to-scale Golden Age racer. Takeoff is reminiscent of a warbird, you won’t feel comfortable challenging its slow speed rudder effectiveness with the motor at full grunt. Balance rudder with rising throttle to get ‘er moving with enough directional control. It’s all pretty tense as the plane lumbers airborne, part throttle and already gathering speed. At that instant all RC fliers have the same thought, “Landing could be interesting, I should’ve driven to a dry lake bed.”

As the plane builds momentum and bends back around to nose-on, you can’t help but push it up to feel the crescendo. The plane streaks by like a wild boar in Italian bicycle racing apparel. Pulling into the vertical trades kenetic for potential fast and furious. Before pulling the plane onto its back and over the top, you ponder the wing area, is it sufficient to keep Pumba from borrowing into the ground on the backside? Turns out, it's not a problem. At full sprint the plane is as nimble as a pig in hula skirt. Trim way forward and it blows by with a nasty growl, just a few feet off the ground with the nose slightly below level.

Onlookers involuntarily seek cover. Girlfriends cling to boyfriends and shriek, “Isn’t that DANGEROUS??” 

Step by Step Breakdown:

Both planes are easy to take off, with the UMX being the easier of the two as AS3X effectively helps compensate for the Gee Bee's large right-rudder requirement.

Once airborne, both planes are surprisingly nimble and highly aerobatic. The EFGBR2's flight path is clearly gyro-guided at times, removing some feedback and feel, but the plane flies very well in little or no wind.  Loops, rolls, hammerheads, inverted flight, knife edge flight are excellently handled. Stalls are a different story, the plane becomes unruly, particularly in yaw when it gets too slow. High speed passes are surprising fast, at least for a pip-squeak.

The GPGBR1 is big and it flies even bigger. It's legitimately fast for a parkflyer, and very well controlled at speed. Aerobatics are surprisingly nimble at cruise speed and higher, but the plane also gets mushy when slow.

Reynolds Number makes the larger plane more controllable than the micro. AS3X is helpful to the micro in that respect, but it is no substitute for larger scale.  The GPGBR1 flies a lot better and more predictably in virtually every category of flight.

The tiny EFGBR2 is obviously more affected by winds, and it doesn't handle wind particularly well for a 2S micro. AS3X is supposed to help, and it probably does help, but not enough to let the little blow fish frolic in turbulent air. Instead it weather vanes and the nose sways left-right.  The Gee Bee's primary aerodynamic challenge is a loss of rudder authority when slow due to the large fuselage blanking the rudder, resulting in uncommanded left yaw. This results from a lack of airflow, not a lack of control movement, so AS3X is ineffective in countering it.

The GPGBR1 takes moderate wind (10+ mph) in stride, with plenty of mass, speed and power to plow through.  It is also clumsy when slow, but developing stalls give plenty of signals and time to recover before dropping both a wing and the nose.

Landing the UMX is much easier than the parkflyer.  AS3X provides compensating rudder control until authority is lost, making the plane easier to keep straight as long as you keep part throttle.  The plane is very easy to land unless you approach a stall before the wheels start spinning.  If you try to flare high and slow, the UMX will formally to introduce you to whatever is well left of course.  Hopefully it isn't too hard. 

The GPGBR1 is a lot more challenging to land, especially right-side-up (see more on that in my review).  But it is also a lot tougher and takes low speed abuse in stride.  Establishing a proper glide path is tricky.  Using idle power can cause an alarming sink rate to develop, resulting in a hard high bounce.   Leave-in too much power and you'll have too much speed, resulting in a soft higher bounce.  In fact, just about every technique results in a high bounce.  Then another, and another.  Eventually, the bounces get small enough to call it a landing.  Just remember, the landing isn't over til the Gee Bee says it's over, and there always seems to be just enough speed left over to do one more outside loop.

Results:

I've summarized and quantified the world as I see it in the chart below:
The Great Planes Gee Bee R-1 RxR wins this H2H with a slam dunk--unless your flying space is smaller than a football field.

Reference:
E-Flite UMX Gee Bee R-2 BNF - Flight Review
Great Planes Gee Bee R-1 RxR 38.5" - Flight Review

Friday, February 17, 2012

BlitzRCWorks Silver Nano P-51D Mustang PNP Flight Review

Gorgeous scale details for a $69 base price, 21.5" Nano.
Update: After getting this model flying, I'm moving the Nano Mustang to Neutral. With a CG slightly in front of the wingtip LEDs, this plane finally flies great on a 3-cells. 

The working CG is not abnormal at all for a warbird, I think my earlier problems stemmed from a slightly aft CG, plus control surface positions that needed a ton of airborne trim.  The combined effect of those, along with the plane's naturally high wing loading made it difficult to isolate the source of difficulty.

It is such a well priced, great looking and tough little plane that it merits another round of testing. I think this model could still turn out to be a great flier with a few minor adjustments, now that I have a validated CG position.  Some dialed-in spoileron to increase washout and normal flying AOA should increase tip stall resistance and slow down controlled landings. 

The plastic landing gear and props are a weak point and difficult to protect given the high WCL.  Those flying from a large runway area will have a lot more fun.

Dinging props wouldn't be so bad if small Mustang spinners were easy to find, or if the plane looked normal without one--but neither is the case.  The stock prop has too many blades to get out of the way, so every ding costs you the prop. 

Still looking for practical way to exploit the breakthrough in flying quality.  More to come. 

----- 

Banana Hobby has been unleashing a host of Micro aircraft to go toe to toe with Horizon Hobby's line of Ultra Micro airplanes.  One of the latest is the Nano P-51D Mustang RTF.  Banana's nanos are generally bigger and heavier than Horizon's UMs, and they come in RTF or PNP form.
Airframe assembly takes 15 seconds, Rx takes 5 mins.
Factory Specs:

  • Wingspan: 550mm (21.5 inch)
  • Length: 480mm (19 inch)
  • Flying Weight: 190g (6.7 oz)
  • Drive System: Brushless OutRunner 2350KV Motor
  • Propeller: 4 Paddles
  • Speed Controller: 12A Brushless ESC
  • Servo: 4X 2.5g high speed micro servos
  • Battery: 7.4V 450mAh 25C Li-Polymer (2S is too underpowered; I used a 3S which is listed in the manual as an option)
On the Ground:
The Nano P-51D comes as a PNP in two pre-assembled pieces and it goes together with a single screw in about 15 seconds.  For the PNP version, the receiver of your choice will drop in under the canopy, which doubles as a battery hatch.

Unlike the Nano Corsair, the Mustang apparently has no ballast in the nose, so the resulting flying weight matches the specs exactly.
After plugging the servos into the Rx and binding it, the only thing left to do is choose a battery and position it in the long nose compartment.

Since warbirds generally like to fly nose heavy, I shoved my battery about halfway between the front edge of the canopy and the firewall.  The resulting CG is slightly in front of the wingtip LEDs--picking the plane up by the LEDS dips the nose slightly. The one page manual is no help here, it lists the recommended CG at 160mm back for the leading edge, but the entire wing chord is about 140mm.
Overall, the build quality is of a level the Horizon's Ultra Micro P-51D cannot come close to matching--the Nano Mustang is of massively higher quality, detail, and durability  I added an $8 OrangeRx and a $11 Thunder Power 350 mAh 3S battery for a flyaway cost of $88. 

Compare to Horizon's Parkzone Ultra Micro P-51D:
Feature
Parkzone UM P-51D
BlitzRCworks Nano P-51D
Price BNF
$100
$88
Motor
Brushed - Geared
Brushless - Direct
Prop
One, 2-blade generic
Two, 4-blade scale
Wingspan
15.8"
21.5"
Weight/Size
1.3 oz
6 oz
Channels
4
5 (4 with Y connector)
Lights
None
Wingtip
Wheels
1/2" Foam w/foam hub
1.25" Rubber w/plastic hub
Durability
Styrofoam - Anemic
EPO - Outstanding
Servos
Linear PCB
Conventional Sub-micro
Power
1S - 3.7V 120mAh
3S - 11.1V 350mAh
Wing
Undercamber
Semi-sym Airfoil
Scale Detail
Poor
Very Good
Wind Resistance
None
Fair
Top Speed
Poor
Good
Agility
Very Good
Good

In the Air:

After success with the Nano Corsair, I thought the Mustang might be an easy win.  Unfortunately that hasn't been the case.

I'm not sure if the problem is my set-up or airplane fundamentals, so I'm going to withhold final judgement until I can sort out the issue(s).

Unfortunately, the Mustang needs OEM components to look right, so I had to order more props and landing gear as a result of "testing" (otherwise known as crashing).

Blade 400 Low Cost CNC Tail

Recently, I've noticed a lot of very inexpensive CNC helicopter heads and tails popping up online, so when my Blade 400 blew its plastic tail apart I decided to give one a try.
Overall, I have been happy with my B400.  It was reasonably priced when I bought it, and I've put a lot of flights on it.  I haven't crashed it (yet) and it flies well with the upgrades I've slapped on.  With the exception this blown tail, it still flies brand new.  

 I was very fortunate that the tail failure happened as I was landing--Booooooshhhhhh--caused by a hot bearing that failed and melted through the cheap plastic tail rotor housing, like butter.  A replacement plastic case only cost me a few bucks and was available locally, so I fixed the the tail with original parts.  But to avoid dodging another bullet, and to learn more about heli upgrades and maintenance, I ordered a metal part.

The E-Flite CNC part is expensive and 
doesn't include a shaft which was 
damaged in the blowout
Originally I was thinking about ordering E-Flite's metal tail to minimize hassle and potential flight control issues.
But after talking to local B400 gurus, they unanimously trashed E-Flite's CNC heli parts as imprecise and poorly designed.   Since I've already upgraded my B400's cheaper components and sloppy analog servos to about the limit of cost-effectiveness, I thought I would try a cheap CNC part.  If that didn't work out, I'll just buy a new and better helicopter--an Align 500-to-700--before throwing more money at the Blade.  Until then, I'll keep my upgraded B400 til I get better with bigger copters.

$12 bucks later including shipping, my generic CNC tail arrived.  Too bad I already bought Blade metal tail rotor grips for more than the cost of this entire rotor housing including it's own metal grips.  Oh well, lesson learned.

Available on ebay from $3 to $20.
Replacing the tail section was no problem; I learned the basics by replacing the plastic housing.  The only tricky part is keeping the belt's half-twist properly oriented by inserting a screwdriver to serve as a temporary rotor shaft.

The only concern I had with the CNC casing is that no thread locker was used during assembly, so I removed and replaced each bolt with Lock Tight.  I think there are 5 or 6.

Another oddity with the part I selected is that it is primarily TRexx 450 part, so although it is compatible with the B400, there is no inside flange to align with the hole in the tail boom that calibrates the position of the tail casing.  It was easy to match the previous position and belt tension, but it would be better to have confirmation.

Flight tests have been perfect so far, the tail is as precise as stock, maybe a little more so.  It is hard to tell because the gyro and rudder servo seem to be the limiting factors when it comes to locking-in the tail.

The most interesting change is the noise and friction reduction.  I had no idea that the Blade's plastic tail rotor casing whirred so loudly, and the whole rotor system spins more freely with the new tail.

Thumbs up so far for this quick and easy upgrade.  I think it was worthwhile based on the noise and friction reduction alone.  There is nothing like a machine you are used to suddenly running a whole lot quieter and smoother.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

AS3X Flight Control Problems From Low Frequency Resonance

Changing the UMX Gee Bee's prop to a 5 x 2.75 reveals that AS3X can induce substantial, spurious flight control inputs just like the Blade mCP X helicopter with AS3X 

This development validates and confirms that AS3X is in fact what is inducing a loss of model control:

I first noticed a near total loss of flight control induced by AS3X when my mCP X helicopter would try to careen out of control at certain throttle settings and/or blade loads.  But I didn't fully understand that the issue was caused by low frequency structural resonance until I discovered a massive improvement in heli controllability after the addition of the Z8RC boom truss modification. The Z8RC boom truss functions in the harmonic space to suppress standing sine wave resonance.

Now the UMX Gee Bee suffers from the same AS3X-induced loss of flight control in certain resonance bands.   This is not typical of other 3-axis gyro systems.  It appears that AS3X sensors, gains and/or logic are especially susceptible to low frequency resonance, causing compounding amplitude oscillations and loss of flight control authority. As a result of the multi-model manifestation of this problem, I am issuing the following warning:

WARNING:  In certain structural resonance bands, AS3X may induce increasing flight control oscillations.  An immediate change in throttle setting is advised to avoid loss of model control.

This warning should accompany further sales of AS3X-enabled models until E-Flite resolves their defective control logic.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

E-Flite UMX Gee Bee - Z8RC 100% OCP Fix

Here is a simple, 10 second cure for the OCP manufacturing defect that all Gee Bees have when using a properly functioning 2S battery under normal flight conditions:

Using any pair of sharp scissors, clip a tiny 45-45-90 triangle from the trailing edge of each propeller blade tip.  The two equal sides of the triangle are equal to one-half of the propeller tip's chord.  This fix tests 100% good for OCP elimination, plus adds a bit of thrust and speed.  
If you clip both tips anywhere close to similarly, the pieces removed are so small that there is no need to re-balance the prop.  If you are concerned about prop balance and do not have a magnetic prop balancer or a set of magnets and a drill bit to re-balance (the Z8RC EDF balancing method (see Update 1) works great for props too), just mark and snip one blade slightly less so you know which way to adjust as you test balance by slowly running up the throttle.

How simple is that?  Problem solved. 

Complete Review: http://z8rc.blogspot.com/2011/12/umx-gee-bee-r2-bnf-flight-review.html 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

AnyLink Tx-R Revoutionizes RC Compatibility

Great Planes' new fleet of universally-compatible 2.4GHz  Transmitter-Ready (TxR) aircraft include a revolutionary concept.

These parkflyers and micros come with installed receivers that can fly using just about any popular brand of transmitter via your existing Buddy Box port. 1024 and 2048 Rez modes are supported. Some Transmitters require a $3 cable adapter.  Perhaps oddly, the $15 TACM0005 cable adapter also includes a tiny LiFe battery.

Full Range Tactic Receivers are available under $30 (6ch). In addition to better Rx affordability, Spectrum/JR users may wish to switch to an AnyLink Rx for valuable airplanes, since like Hitec and Futaba AnyLink binds are unaffected by voltage sag or brown-out, and instantly relink after a complete Rx power loss.

Compatible transmitters include:
Radio
Requires no cable
Requires TACM0003
Requires TACM0004
Requires TACM0005*
Requires TACM0006
Futaba®
4YF/YBF, 6EX/J, 7C, 8FG, 9/10C, 12FG & 18MZ
4VF, 5U, 6A/DA/H/ YF/YG, 7NFK, 8U & 9Z

12Z & 14MZ
Hitec®

Neon, Flash 4sx/5/5sx, Focus 4/6, Laser 4/6, Optic 5/6, Eclipse 7 & Prism 7/7X
Aurora 9


JR®
Quattro, XF421, XP6102, XP783, X3885, XP8103, X9303, X9305 & 10X




Spektrum®
DX6/6i, Dx7


DX4e/5e, 7s, 8 & 10t

Tower Hobbies®
4TH & 6XM
4/6FM

























Tx-R aircraft ship with an installed receiver and a free transmitter module that plugs into your Buddy Box port. The Tx-R airplane line-up currently includes:










Look for a review of the F-86 micro jet via Any-Link on both Aurora 9 and Spektrum Dx6i right here on Z8RC as soon as the first samples are available!

Monday, February 6, 2012

New FAA Legistion Avoids Regulating "Modelers"

Good news!  Despite concentrated efforts by the AMA to make it illegal for non-AMA members to fly RC models in the United States, new FAA legislation does no such thing.

I've documented the entire FAA rule set, below.  The most important parts to read are the final two paragraphs in blue, below, which state the current FAA Policy as it applies to RC modelers.  In summary, as a "modeler" your legal authority to operate radio control aircraft within the U.S. National Airspace System is FAA AC 91-57

That is all you need to fly.  Enjoy!!





Documentation follows, the underlined text was emphasized by Z8RC and the blue text is what applies to RC modelers:

Current FAA Policy divides all UAS Operations into three (3) overarching categories:
  1. Military/Public/Government Aircraft
  2. Civil Aircraft
  3. Model Aircraft
FAA Policy Statement
The current FAA policy for UAS operations is that no person may operate a UAS in the National Airspace System without specific authority. For UAS operating as public aircraft the authority is the COA, for UAS operating as civil aircraft the authority is special airworthiness certificates, and for model aircraft the authority is AC 91-57.
    Within the three categories, the FAA has defined sub-categories.  The FAA's FACT SHEET on UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (UAS), Updated July 2011 defines both "Military/Public/Government Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)" and "Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)" sub-categories for this purpose:
    "Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) come in a variety of shapes and sizes and serve diverse purposes. They may have a wingspan as large as a Boeing 737 or be smaller than a radio-controlled model aircraft. A designated pilot in command is always in control of a UAS.
    Historically, UAS have mainly supported military and security operations overseas, with training occurring in the United States. In addition, UAS are utilized in U.S. border and port surveillance by the Department of Homeland Security, scientific research and environmental monitoring by NASA and NOAA, public safety by law enforcement agencies, research by state universities, and various other uses by public (government) agencies.
    Interest is growing in civil uses, including commercial photography, aerial mapping, crop monitoring, advertising, communications and broadcasting. Unmanned aircraft systems may increase efficiency, save money, enhance safety, and even save lives.
    In the United States alone, approximately 50 companies, universities, and government organizations are developing and producing over 155 unmanned aircraft designs."
    For the sake of absolute clarity, the FAA-stated sub-categories to "Category 1. Military/Public/Government UAS Operations" and "Category 2. Civil UAS Operations" are:
    1. Military and security operations overseas with training in the US
    2. U.S. border and port surveillance by the Department of Homeland Security
    3. Scientific research and environmental monitoring by NASA and NOAA
    4. Public safety by law enforcement agencies
    5. Research by state universities
    6. Other uses by public (government) agencies
    7. Commercial photography
    8. Aerial mapping
    9. Crop monitoring
    10. Advertising
    11. Communications and broadcasting
    12. Part of a company, state university, or government organization
    In summary - if your model aircraft does not fall into one of the sub-categories for Category 1 or Category 2, then you can operate it under Category 3, Model Aircraft.  As a modeler, your sole legal authority to integrate with the FAA NAS comes from FAA AC 91-57.   

    AMA membership is irrelevant to the FAA to operate a model aircraft in the NAS, but make no mistake, AMA members and all permanent club locations must comply with FAA AC 91-57 or they may not legally integrate with the NAS.  My advice to all permanent AMA club flying locations is to post a copy of FAA AC 91-57 where your AMA members can see and read it.  If you cannot reasonably clear the location IAW 91-57 guidance, halt model aircraft operations until you can obtain an FAA waiver.

    Any modeler flying from a non-permanent location should clear that location under 91-57 guidelines and carry a copy of 91-57 to document general FAA compliance.   You should not fly in areas prohibited by 91-57 without an FAA Waiver.  

    Note that the word "should" is not legally prohibitive in FAA FARs.  However, just because a person is legally operating a model aircraft under 91-57 doesn't mean they are immune to a safety violation by the FAA.  

    The new FAA regulations, often cited by the AMA in an attempt to bolster plunging memberships, only attempt to regulate and integrate "CIVIL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (UAS)" into the National Airspace System (NAS).  Those laws apply only to Category 2, Civil UAS Operations not modelers, so most won't care. 

    The AMA was successful in inserting a "Special Rule" under the Civil UAS regulatory bill using a "notwithstanding" clause. "Notwithstanding" simply means "nevertheless" or "all the same" or "with no change to the previous."  Since the governing FAA Policy for Civil UAS Ops does not apply to Category 3 Modelers," as a modeler you will never need to invoke the AMA-dictated Civil Aircraft Special Rule unless
    1. You fall into one of the Civil UAS Operational sub-categories (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
    2. You require a FAA Waiver to FAA AC 91-57 "Model Aircraft Operations"
    Examples of those who might try to invoke the Civil UAS Ops Special Rule would be one doing beyond of light-of-sight FPV flying (not allowed under stated FAA expectations to fall under 91-57) or advertising for a company as a company-sponsored RC team member (Sub-Category #10 falls under Civil UAS Operations). 

    Interestingly, company-sponsored RC team members (those compensated with pay or other legal consideration) are excluded from the Special Rule, meaning they need to become FAA licensed as a Pilot in Command (PIC) and obtain an FAA Waiver because they do (#10) advertising for (#12) a company.  People or RC clubs that interface with commercial entities during RC modeling activities should contact their local FAA representative to obtain the Waivers they need to fly in the NAS.

    FAA Advisory Circular 91-57 governs Model Aircraft Operations.  Additionally, the FAA recorded their opinion (here) that FAA AC 91-57 is not applicable to any of the 12 sub-categories.  Here is that language, for those interested: 
    "Recreational/Sport Use of Model Airplanes
    In 1981, in recognition of the safety issues raised by the operation of model aircraft, the FAA published Advisory Circular (AC) 91-57, Model Aircraft Operating Standards for the purpose of providing guidance to persons interested in flying model aircraft as a hobby or for recreational use. This guidance encourages good judgment on the part of operators so that persons on the ground or other aircraft in flight will not be endangered. The AC contains among other things, guidance for site selection. Users are advised to avoid noise sensitive areas such as parks, schools, hospitals, and churches. Hobbyists are advised not to fly in the vicinity of spectators until they are confident that the model aircraft has been flight tested and proven airworthy. Model aircraft should be flown below 400 feet above the surface to avoid other aircraft in flight. The FAA expects that hobbyists will operate these recreational model aircraft within visual line-of-sight. While the AC 91-57 was developed for model aircraft, some operators have used the AC as the basis for commercial flight operations.
    FAA Policy Statement
    The current FAA policy for UAS operations is that no person may operate a UAS in the National Airspace System without specific authority. For UAS operating as public aircraft the authority is the COA, for UAS operating as civil aircraft the authority is special airworthiness certificates, and for model aircraft the authority is AC 91-57.
    The FAA recognizes that people and companies other than modelers might be flying UAS with the mistaken understanding that they are legally operating under the authority of AC 91-57. AC 91-57 only applies to modelers, and thus specifically excludes its use by persons or companies for business purposes."
    Print your copy of FAA AC 91-57 here to carry or post it at your local flying club; comply and you are 100% legal.  Fly safe!

    E-Flite UMX ASK-21 BNF


    Great looking 34" span model handicapped by E-Flite's 
    lack luster UMX value proposition.
    Hmmm... high price, looks great, no motor, no battery, weak beer cooler foam and heavy Wing Cube Loading for a pure sailplane.  A 3-axis gyro system?  Huh?  Why?  This isn't going to turn out well.

    Wingspan:   33.9 in (860mm)
    Overall Length:   17.0 in (432mm)
    Wing Area:   80.4 sq. in (520 sq. cm.)
    Flying Weight:   2.56 oz (72.5 g)
    Recommended Rx Battery:   3.7V 1S 150mAh 25C Li-Po

    First things first.  I'm not giving poor Horizon Hobby a UMX pass anymore.  They are babied by industry reviewers like a butt naked emperor copping an attitude.   Listen, this for your own good:  Styrofoam is not acceptable in 2012 unless the price point is class-trailing.  Flaky, junk servos that cost as much as real servos are not acceptable in 2012.  Tiny brushed motors are unthink... oops, check that, you didn't even include a motor. 

    Second things second.  Great flying airplanes can make up a lot of lost ground from a loser value prop.  But not when the airplane is a pure sailplane with a Wing Cube Loading of 6.1.  That's not completely off the reservation from common WCL guidelines:

    Gliders - 1 to 4
    Trainers - 4 to 7
    Aerobats - 8 to 11
    Scale - 12 to 15
    Racers - 16+ 


    But this diminutive cutie has no motor and is pretty small for a sailplane, so you'll have to fight Mr. Reynolds and his one-size-fits-all air molecules all day, every day.  A WCL of 6 is an uphill battle for any sailplane.  Most sailplanes and gliders that reside on the heavy side of the WCL spectrum dwell there because of the weight of their pint sized motor.  Hmmm....
    WCL = 6 is heavy, even for a motorized glider.  
    Too bad, because the ASK has no shortage of motors.
    So I'm still wondering...

    UM"X"?  Really?  What's eXtreme about a pretty heavy sailplane with no motor?  AS3X to fight wind?  Don't  sailplanes play in wind?  Oh boy, I'm confused.

    The included highstart is a neat idea and it adds a slingshot's worth of value to the box.  E-flite's stratospheric price-tagged, 3.2 oz UMX Carbon Cub is another option for joint venture capital partners, it is comes all set up for towing the ASK-21:
    $169, 24" Span, diminutive 180 Brushless Motor, 180 mAh proprietary battery
    But why wouldn't I tow it with a 4-cell 55" Super Cub that's about same price with a 2.4 GHz 4 ch radio?
    $189 for 55" Span, 3745 Brushless Motor, 2200 mAh 4-cell and 2.4 GHz Tx/Rx included.

    Why, that 4S Cub could even tow this modest, 102" span DG-1000:
    Under $1 per inch of wingspan.  
    $100 buys 102" of fiberglass and balsa
    Or this or this or this:
    $99, 102" Span
    $85 for 80" Span with 200W brushless motor.
    $90, 102" Span, no included motor.

    Again, it's hard to imagine what the folks at E-Flite are doing each day, because it obviously isn't flying RC models on Planet Earth.  Time for more grades and less babying:


    Appearance: B+
    Cute and toy-like.  Lacks presence compared to 102" span competition.

    Airframe:  D+
    WCL is too high for a non-motorized sailplane.  Not enough airtime.  

    Power System: F
    Omitted but seems priced-in.

    Build Quality/Durability: D

    Low quality Styrofoam and not much of it.  Rube Goldberg servos.

    Value: F
    EPO foam glider convention is $1/inch.  Minus 30% for Styrofoam = $24 Street Price.

    Overall Grade:
    D-
    Hard to imagine a sensible buyer.  Are the adults on vacation, E-Flite?
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