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Monday, September 3, 2012

Durafly Edge 540 V3 Micro 3D (PNP) –Build and Flight Review



Update:  The Edge is insanely overpowered with an E-Flite 180 3000 kV motor.  I luv it.  Weight added: 6 grams.

This take off is at half power, followed by some full throttle high speed and knife edge passes:

Original article follows:

The new Durafly Edge 540 V3 Micro 3D beautifully duplicates the freshly melted lines of the newest, full size V3 Edge 540 racer.


Better still, it freezes its stunning V3 likeness in a relatively hefty foam airframe with a brushless motor, all for about $70 bucks.  At just over half a meter, sure, it’s small.  But the with a price to match, real digital servos, and HK’s new tunable 3-axis flight stabilization system installed, the specs put double-expensive low end micros to shame.

Let’s see if it has the flight character to back up its next-generation RC Value Proposition.

- Wingspan: 19.25”
- Length: 16.5”
- Weight: 2.75 oz (w/3-axis gyro)
- ESC: 6A w/BEC
- Servos: Turnigy Digital 1.7g x 4
- Motor: NTM 1312 3000kv Brushless Outrunner

- EPO foam construction
- Anti-tip-stall winglets
- Magnetic canopy
- Plastic hub wheels
- 40 degree 3D control throws

- Rx
- Standard JST 180 mAH 2-cell LiPo

- $73 PNP airplane
- $10 Orange RX 4 Channel DSM2 2.4GHz Micro Rx
- $18 for 3-Axis tunable Flight Stabilization
= $101 (including 4 ch Rx and 3-axis gyro)

- 3-Axis Gyro


Left:  Sister Racer, “Critical Mass” ($67)

Center: “Rare Bear” Reno Racer ($70)
Right:  3-Cell Powered Slick 360 V2 ($67)

ON THE GROUND                                                                   


The Edge V3 ships in a smaller box than most micros, using a separate wing packing arrangement usually done to downsize larger models.  


Even with a three piece foam build…the canopy serves as a magnetic battery hatch…the airplane goes together in as little as a minute. A few dots of foam safe CA would be faster drying than the included tube of (leaking) Rubber Cement.  Flat foam wheel pants are also included, as are plastic mounting brackets attached to the outside of the wheel hubs.


The plane goes together in no time.  The parts fit precisely.

The only build decision is whether to glue or tape the top of the cowl in place for harder/easier motor access down the road.  The top cowling could be secured with only tape on the outside, as there are four integral foam pegs fit that stick into matching holes in the fuse.   


In general, the aircraft components are two steps above typical E-Flite/Parkzone junk micros.  The ESC is a discrete, replaceable unit, and the brushless motor has a traditional aluminum collet and plastic spinner backplate pre-installed.  The spinner itself is foam, booh, but Durafly might have done that for shock absorption.  The four servos each wing are traditional encased gear-driven units, instead of the usual exposed-gear linear servo garbage that often come in more expensive birds.  Two are embedded in the bottom wings and two are buried in the fuse.

aileronhingesThere are no carbon stiffeners in any of the wing or control surfaces, but the foam wing is a one-piece, very solid (3/4" inch thick at the root and inside the fuselage) full symmetrical airfoil with six nylon pin hinges bolting-on the huge molded ailerons, instead of the usual scotch tape hack on a paper thin wing. 

The landing gear is lower gauge (bigger) piano wire than the plane could get away with, and the wheels are a bit larger then most with good solid plastic hubs.

rudderhingeThe tail section in particular is stronger than typical micros.  The foam stabilizers are stiffer and thicker, with airfoil cross-sections.  The tail wheel is truly tiny though it looks scale, and thankfully it is mounted on a carbon rod that doubles as a lower rudder hinge pin through a plastic bracket. 

Really nice for a micro.


The finished micro Edge looks pretty sweet, just a few minutes out of the box. 

top bottom

The wing servos are mounted in tight to the fuselage
so they are protected by the keel and keep the
rotational mass concentrated

The paint job is glossy, a nice touch.  Water-slide decals create the Canadian trim scheme.

OrangeRx R415 Spektrum DSM2 Compatible 4Ch Micro 2.4Ghz Receiver The plane is built to   accept an OrangeRx 4ch Micro Receiver ($10), so I installed a new one from my parts drawer.  I might install an 8g 3-axis gyro flight stabilization board, since I’m currently stocked up.

Overall, the Durafly Edge V3 is heads and shoulders above traditional E-Flite-style UMs costing about twice as much after an Rx and tunable 3-axis board is installed. 

It’s pretty exciting that good quality micros are finally starting to hit the market.



IN THE AIR                                                                              


Excellent handling and fast, but light on static thrust on 2S; barely makes 1:1 Thrust:Weight—making it the “Miata” of the Ultra Micro world, as shipped.


The Durafly edge is rock solid during ground handling.  The gear is much stronger than a typical micro, giving it a stiffer stance than most large models. 

The Edge V3 takeoff roll measures about a yard.  It’s only that long because the stock motor takes its sweet time spooling up.  ONce it is cooking, the micro pulls as hard and as high as you want to climb.


V3 is built for racing, and the micro version has the same flavor.  The unique wing tip design seems to settle-in just a little better than a fully symmetrical mid-wing extreme aerobat should.  Stability is perfect, not to sticky and not too touchy. 

50% of full travel with 50% expo results in positive corrections and purposeful aerobatics.

Full rates gives wild, beautifully axial blurred rolls, but the plane remains controllable and can be flown on 100% rates from takeoff to landing if you like an exceptionally responsive flight character.


Flight balance with a 15g 180 mAh 2S nestled in the center of the nose compartment is perfect.  Glides require no change in trim from cruise and the nose stays near level.  Inverted flight is trivial and requires very little bunt.

I am impressed with the airplane’s balanced handling.

Mild 3D is doable.  Knife edge fundamentals are surprisingly uncoupled.  Loops can be large, but as you approach 20 feet or more, the conservative motor struggles a bit to keep the plane motivated approaching the apex.

Spins are snappy and well controlled.

The plane is so light that Hammerheads tend to trace the claw rather than fall back through your up-going entry line’s smoke.

Outside loops stay on heading and can transittion easily into post-stall tumbles.

High Alpha is a bit of a letdown, the motor struggles to keep the nose on top of the plane, and rudder authority is limited largely due to limited static thrust blowing the tail.

Hovers are not sustainable.  Thrust might be barely adequate in the first half of the battery, but rudder authority is not quite sufficient at 100% throw.  I’m going to try to increase the rudder throw at the control horn and dial the computer up to 125% to see if that helps with hovering.

Overall, handling is top notch for a midget.


Here is the rub.  Static output is borderline for a 3D machine, but that could be a prop trade in exchange for impressive 2S Micro top speed.  

Regardless of the reason, the plane feels strained at times, like at the top of large loops.

Since I knew the power plant wasn’t up to my high standards, I decide to wedge a 3S 180 into the engine compartment.  The risk of smoking the motor was worth the path of discovery, since I would have to change this motor either way. 

On 3S, the plane completely came alive, it was instantly transformed into a 6” tall King Kong.  3 minutes into the flight I dead-sticked a smoldering motor onto the grass.  3S is not a stock option.

The 6A stead, 8A burst capable ESC is “compatible but not warranted on 3S.”  It showed no signs of stress, the motor alone is the weakpoint stopping 3 cell operation.

A new, 3S capable E-Flight 180 is already installed.  Static thrust with the stock prop and is a little over 2:1.  Since the old motor had more than enough prop pitch for high speed, I expect the 3S Edge to really move.



The airframe is highly capable, the stock power system limits your 3D options. 

The plane displays excellent post-stall control.


Approaches are straight forward for an aerobat; not a lot of disire to quit for the day; the plane needs a little nudge down glidepath.  Once the power is off and the glidepath established, the plane continues to your aimpoint without a fight. 

If you flare with no power the plane can sink or attempt to sink during the transition into the flare; carrying a touch of power makes the plane easy to land, 3-point. 

With enough power to spin the prop, the plane tends to float even after smoothly selecting idle.


1. Light on static thrust with speed to burn (=steep prop pitch)


Pure, uncoupled aerobatic fun with a family model motor.  Look for a 3S Z8 version soon (and then on all the popular RC boards within days).


Appearance: A+
Luv the faithful lines of the Edge 540 V3.  Super paint quality for a micro.  Large decals bubble in heat.

Aerodynamics: A 
Excellent racer with solid aerobatics.  3D is wanting; too little static thrust.  Fast right out of the box.

Power System: C-
Adequate for everything but post-stall 3D.  Fast stock prop gearing.

Build Quality/Durability: A-
No issues.  Foam is not EPO, but the finish is great.  Thick wing.  All digital servos.  Nice stand-alone ESC.  Great gear.

Value:  A+
More micro than we’ve come to expect for $70.  2S-only motor. Flies great.

Overall Grade: A
Gorgeous, steady little flier.  More horizontal zip than vertical.  Right priced.

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