Which glider/flier clone?
Hi all-- I'm new to this forum, but some may recall me from time to time in other electric plane forums.
I'm exploring getting a 4 (5?) channel beginner's glider/flier along the lines of the Hawk Sky and admit I'm confused by all of the alternatives. I find lots of threads and posts about these multiple planes, but not too many direct comparisons, so I'm trying to get as many recommendations as I can in one thread.
What is your favorite of these planes?
Which US dealer is most dependable and reasonably priced?
Which plane is best for future mods?
I"m not looking to getting into flying big time with lots of planes and pricey gear. What I want is something RTF that will hold up with readily available replacement parts. I want it to glide, thermal a bit, but still be able to do some basic aerobatics. Any and all advice welcome.
BTW-- I used to have a Slow Stick, brushed, and was pretty proficient with that, to give you an idea of my skill level.
Hi Paul, Here is the Sky Scout from HURC, this is the best Hobby Shop To Deal With IMHO :ws: Build it with Ailerons. Tell Jeff That Chellie sent You :)
use this motor for best performance
Check out Heads Up Rc
Park Zone Radian or any of the assorted powered-sailplanes that are out there.
Or the T-28 Trojan.
I would recommend the Dynam appx 1200-1500 mm aircraft carried by Nitroplanes.com, but you want good spare parts availability. You'd find that really isn't needed because of the EPO foam being so durable and easy to repair.
With modern EPO foam construction, repairs are easy if you manage to break something. Most of the EPO models can still fly fine when the glue weighs twice as much as the foam.
To slow down the chipping of leading edges and the belly if you land on gravel, apply clear packing tape to the most vulnerable areas.
Save old parts even if damaged beyond reasonable repair. You can cut pieces out of them to fill in damaged areas of other models.
Welcome back to the Hobby. The Slow Stick is a great plane. If you still have it, why not take it out and fly it. It is so light that I have seen people thermal the slow stick.
So, let's look at your objectives.
If you want an RTF for thermal soaring that can also loop and do a rudder roll, tail slide and the like, then the Parkzone Radian is by far the best you can get. This is the glider our club recommends to new members buying their first plane. I would say half of our glider club has one.
Flies great, well supported by on-line and local hobby shops with plenty of parts available. There are lots of threads on the Radian. If thermal soaring is your goal, this is the one you want.
The Radio included in the RTF is the Spektrum DX5i. Not a computer radio but it can be used to fly the Bind n Fly planes too. I have 2 high end computer radios but I use the RTF Radian as my Grab and go plane because everything goes back in the box. And it thermals wonderfully. I also fly it on the slope.
I have many high end gliders that cost over $1000 just for the air frame, but the Radian gets plenty of air time. I also use it for contest flying in ALES contests.
If you must have ailerons then the Radian Pro. It does not come RTF. Add a receiver, battery and charger and you are good to go. I like the Radian better for thermal soaring but I don't care about aerobatics. This in not an aerobat by any stretch but you can do aileron rolls with it. If you were going to do mostly slope flying, this would be better on the slope than the Radian.
Both of these are available at many LHS as well on line from lots of sources. They are just great gliders.
I have never flown or seen the Hawk Sky. I don't believe it is available in local stores, only on-line. I have heard good things and I have head of problems with the electronics but nothing I can verify personally either way.
I am happy to say that the general quality of RTFs has improved dramatically over the last 10 years. In the past it was a lot of junk with a few good ones.
Today most are at least adequate, assuming you don't have an electronics problem or a quality control problem.
About 3 years ago I received an RTF glider for a review I was to write. Neither aileron would center. I called the MFG and they sent me another. The motor failed on that one within a minute because it had not been properly mounted and basically vibrated to death. Needless to say they asked me not to release the review while they fixed their manufacturing process.
So, welcome back to the hobby. We are happy to help.
Some important differences you might want to keep in mind.
The Hawk Sky/Bixlers/Phoenix/Sky Surfer are all Easy Star clones. They will fly for the most part, identically. These are not sailplanes. They are designed to putt around under power perfectly happily. The trade-off is that they are not going to typically take advantage of less than boomer thermals to gain altitude. If they do they will be moving very fast and it will be difficult, but not impossible, to soar them. They have a wide open speed of a good, honest 75 mph with a brushless motor, so they are not boring planes to fly if you want to fly under power.
They DO have differences in construction that you should keep in mind. You can find a great comparison article of all of them at http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/roundupreview-of-all-the.
Now, the Radian is a different beast entirely. Wattflyer is acting truly wonky like it normally does on a cell phone. This will the the third time I write this post. People, save your post frequently or do it in a word processor and post it in one cut and paste because we're getting the "you do not have the authority to perform this action" followed by a flush of your post. There's no way to get it back when this happens.
I'll be back after a notepad session. I don't have permission even to post this. Please refresh the page and log in again. Cut, exit and log in, paste and hope for the best......... I have to get some work done. I'll be back for try #4 on what the Radian does and why it has some of the flying characteristics it does, and why that is good, not bad.
The Parkzone Radian is a plane with some unique flying characteristics, especially if you've never flown a sailplane. Unlike an EasyStar clone, a Radian's motor is a launch device, with the sole purpose of hauling the plane to 500' in about 30 seconds. The Radian is NOT happy flying under power. This is a sailplane, meant for unpowered flight and with tremendous lift to drag ratio.
Many people have flown the Radian and were pretty disgusted. They raged and made nasty posts over at RC Groups because they don't allow raging over in this friendly place. <smile> Basically, while flying around under power the nose pitches up and you have to feed in down elevator to force the plane to fly level. They're absolutely right. I'll bet you're wondering why a plane would be carefully designed to do that.
To be friendly to beginners, the Radian is designed to be stable in roll, pitch and airspeed. Stable means that the plane will return to design roll (level), pitch (level flight, neither climbing nor diving) and airspeed (a nice high duration glide). Roll is easy to understand. Dihedral makes the plane want to return to level flight. When you roll the plane, the dihedral automatically unbanks the plane when you release the stick pressure so that the plane regains level wings to fly straight forward.
The pitch and speed stability is a little tricky to explain. Basically they balance the plane just a tad (engineering term there--don't be intimidated) forward. They balance that by angling the stabilizer so that it functions as a permanent very slightly up elevator when the elevator is at neutral trim. Okay, when you're flying at design speed, a decently efficient glide, the downforce on the back of the plane is just enough to hold the nose up to the glide angle. So two forces are balanced against each other, the weight of the nose, which doesn't change, and the downforce from the stabilizer, which increases with increasing airspeed and decreases with lower airspeed. Kapeesh?
Visualization exercise, BEGIN. You can understand that the plane at design speed will continue in a good glidepath, but what if you dive the plane and then let go of the stick? Because it's trading altitude for speed, it speeds up. The increased airspeed then gives that stabilizer more power than it needs to keep the nose level, so the plane raises the nose up through level flight to a climb. It continues to climb until the downforce from the stabilizer exactly balances the nose weight and the plane settles in at glide attitude and design speed. Understand?
Now what happens if you climb the plane and center the stick? Well, trading speed for altitude the plane slows down until the downforce on the stabilizer no longer balances the weight of the nose. The nose falls and the plane falls into a dive, where it speeds up until the forces balance, the nose is held up and the right glideslope and the speed stabilizes at design glide speed.
What you have there, Bub, is a plane that knows how to fly! Without your help! I'm going to convince you that's a good thing. You can see how that helps a beginner, but what's it worth for a more experienced pilot? The job of a sailplane pilot isn't executing cute maneuvers, although a Radian will do that including rolling circles and 3D flight, the job of a sailplane pilot is analyzing the ocean of air he's flying in to find, enter and stay in the available thermals long enough to gain significant altitude without the use of power. While you're doing that it's real great if you aren't all distracted by a plane with a suicidal complex.You can't study the sky if you're entirely engaged in trying to keep your plane flying.
A truly expert competition sailplane jockey, like Paul Naton, will have a lot of counter-arguments to my rose colored glasses above. He would say "I don't WANT a plane that does all that. I want a plane that goes where I point it and at a speed that I choose." And Paul has complete instructions on how to make a Radian into that machine, which in his hands can play with multi-thousand dollar competition sailplanes to give them a little lesson in humility. If he can't beat them that day they will remember he was there. But you or I would fly his plane and say it was suicidal.
This post is long enough. Any questions?
Thanks Rockin'-- those were two very informative posts. For the time being I think that one of the Hawk Sky variety will suit me better. I'll get some float under good conditions, but will be more able to learn rolls and other aerobics. Down the road, a Radian does indeed sound like a terrific plane and I wouldn't mind getting one. Maybe after I clip the first plane's wings and do things to make it more aggressive ;-)
I notice that Nitro Planes carries THREE of these clones, making the choice a little tougher.
These EasyStar clones are very good at keeping you engaged after you've learned to fly. They slow down nicely to learn to fly but 75 mph is pretty quick by anyone's standards. They're probably the most versatile plane out there and guaranteed to be fun after they've done their job of teaching you to fly.
Ed, if there are any corrections, clarifications, illustrations on anything I've said please jump in here.
Once you fly a plane that is correctly trimmed and actually goes where you want it to go - instead of fighting you every step of the way - you will never go back :)
Sailplane, power plane, pattern plane, 3D plane, cheap foamy, $2500 carbon beast - doesnt matter.
IMHO - they are all easier to fly when properly trimmed :D
I think we do a big disservice to beginners by teaching them to fly models that are bent right out of the box - and making them paranoid about moving the CG back.
Well, I explained clearly the reasons Parkzone carefully tuned the Radian the way they did. And we don't call planes with dihedral "bent," so why would we malign a pitch and speed stable craft as "bent." Seems to me that's just unnecessary trash talking since planes have been trimmed like this very successfully since the 1930s.
It's the same thing with the lifting stab of the Telemaster, one of the most highly thought of planes in the history of model aviation. The lifting stab means that the Telemaster is happy only within a strict range of speeds for the same reason that just about all free flight planes and the Radian are happy in a narrow speed range.
Not every plane needs to be a pattern specialist with no cross-controlling or stability. For the beginner it's just plain inappropriate. It's hard to enjoy flying when you're struggling for your life every second with a plane that doesn't care whether it flies forward, sideways, backwards, diving suicidally or inappropriately pitched up so it does the yo-yo of death. The beginner is not and never will be equipped to handle what we would call a "controllable" plane until he gets some experience under his belt.
Yes, once you can fly the plane with your eyes and don't need help from the plane some things are possible that previously were not. Yes, the fact that a pitch stable plane drops the nose before it stalls means that you possibly, it's certainly the case in the Radian, could slow the plane to half its previous minimum speed and remain flying. But none of that is any advantage to someone who just wants to learn to fly successfully.
First you need to learn to fly. Then you can start to learn to fly well.
I wasnt intending to "trash talk" and I apologize if it came across that way or if it seemed like a personal attack. Not my intention at all.
However, I do disagree with some of what you have said. I hope we can discuss it without making each other angry. I promise to do my best on that - but I am going to disagree with you on some of the details. So when I say something exactly the opposite of what you are saying, I hope it doesn't come across the wrong way :)
I wasnt referring to the lateral or wing dihedral when I said "bent". I was referring to excessive longitudinal "dihedral". Too much positive incidence between the wing and stab is my definition of a "bent" airplane. I have several polyhedral sailplanes and they all fly very well :)
The days of free flight are long over and many of those design criteria - mainly the extreme pitch stability - do not translate well into our machines and the way we fly them. Also, the design constraints of manned flight - again very positive pitch stability - dont need to carry over into our models. In fact, that excessive pitch stability is a major hinderance to a model that is easy to fly in anything but a hands off situation.
In my opinion, that kind of thinking has been a big detriment to new students for a long long time.
Thats how I was trained when I was learning to fly, so I know how it goes :)
Ive trained many people to fly over the years using all kinds of models that the student or the club had - glow, gas, electric and sailplanes - including Radians, Gentle Ladies, Bird of Time, Oly's and Paragons.
I used to set EVERY model up the same way you describe - so thay were VERY pitch stable. Thats the way the plans showed they SHOULD be set up and thats how EVERYONE said it should be done.
How did that old saying go? "Nose heavy models fly poorly but tail heavy models fly once". I cringe every time I hear that.
Thats the way its always been done so it has to be right - right?
Several years ago I finally "got it" about trimming a model and how decalage, trim and cg work together. Then I started playing with those things and found a world of difference in how my models flew.
Now, when I go to trasin a new student or help someone with a model that isnt behaving, the first thing I always do is fix the CG and incidence issues so that the model isnt fighting the student every time he touches the sticks or varies the speed a tiny amount.
You can have a model with positive stability that isnt a beast to fly AND has a decent speed range with out major pitching issues and without being tail heavy.
In my experience, they are easier to learn to fly when set up that way. Students also progress faster and easier. Largely because they dont have to UNlearn bad habits developed from flying "bent" airplanes :)
Oh - and thats not to mention that you also get better stall behavior with easier recovery, easier, slower landing, better more precise aerobatics, better thermaling, etc etc.
There are no downsides to properly trimming a model. Having the CG too far forward or too much incidence isnt proper trimming. The stock Radian is very poorly designed in that respect. Paul Natons mods make the Radian much EASIER to fly as well as improving contest performance - not more difficult.
Im also not at all sure they did it that way on purpose. No two radians have the same incidence by a long shot. You have to check each one carefully before making corrections. I have seen some recently that had zero incidence out of the box.
Makes me wonder if they have been reading the forums and have fixed the issue with the excessive incidence :)
So - we disagree - but - I hope I havent pissed you off at the same time.
Naw! We're not that other place. I asked for other views and I got it. If nothing else it gives the OP a roadmap for where he would want to go after he learns to fly.
I apologize for using the term "trash talk." I maybe should have used "disparage." The idea is that there are disadvantages to any scheme of stability. There's no difference between pitch and speed stability and roll stability in that respect.
For instance, with positive roll stability (stability means that the plane wants to return to level flight without your input), inverted flight is difficult, as inverted flight is negatively stable. Knife edge is impossible. You give up the possibility of banking without turning because the controls are crossed. Rudder yields roll as well as yaw.
Similarly, with positive speed and pitch stability, you have pitch up under power, you have a plane which isn't happy at high speeds because your countering down elevator is very draggy. There are dangerous effects. The altitude necessary to recover from a "stall" (it's next to impossible to actually stall a nose heavy plane because it quits flying before the stall--that's why they stall in a straight line) is proportional to the excess nose weight and necessary up elevator to compensate.
To illustrate, with a standard Radian with factory decalage, if you "stall" the nose drops and you'll lose about 10' of altitude, maybe more like 20'. Now on mine, without changing the decalage I had moved the CG back to about 70mm from the stock 63mm. The recovery height was reduced to under 3'. With decalage changes you can actually get to the point where the Radian doesn't drop the nose in a stall but just kind of mushes forward and shakes a bit. On my plane I was running half the speed and still flying really well. If I stalled, as long as I caught it soon enough I just blipped down, the plane began flying again and I didn't lose altitude. It seems like my sink rate was about halved.
So with careful tuning, not changing the decalage, you can still turn the Radian into quite a different machine. In fact, this is what Paul Naton recommends, "The Radian (and Pro) is a fine plane, I tell new pilots to get one, fly it for a year, learn to tune it right, learn to thermal, learn to land it in your hand. When you can do all that, it's time to step up to a better plane." Learn to fly and tune, THEN do the decalage and stiffness mods he recommends. I was just about there when I lost my Radian to a stupid flyaway (everybody's entitled to one fatal mistake!).
CG position is also not "right" or "wrong." Every pilot will select his own CG position for a sailplane based on his flying skill. The better you are the further you can go back on the CG. The more neutral the decalage is the further back you can go before the plane gets really squirrelly. When I tried 72mm I found the turns were heart attack inducing dances with death. That's a reflection on my skill and you probably would take the radio out of my hands and say, "Let's go back another two mm and see if that's better." Better for you is unflyable for me, at least for awhile.
Parkzone didn't design the Radian haphazardly like a Hobby King. What they do, they do for a carefully considered reason. I agree with their choice, although I might have chosen to cut the pitch stability in half. According to Ed, later Radians seem to have less pitch-up under power and that might indicate decalage adjustments.
So, no, we don't have anything worth a duel to the death over. You're absolutely right for experienced pilots or newbies learning on a buddy box. I'm just saying that there were good reasons Parkzone built the Radian the way they did. More advanced fliers like to tinker anyway, so nothing Parkzone did hurt them. But they made a great performing sailplane within the reach of a rank newbie who had never flown before. And it is a good performer in stock trim. This is no HOB 2x6.
But the fact is that eventually you'll want a Radian to have some penetration. Stock, it has very very little. You've got to be able to put the nose down and scoot! In order to do that you have to have a plane that is happy at higher speeds than the stock setup Radian.
Unbelievable! Wattflyer is seriously wonky. I can't post because I'm suddenly not logged in. I copy the post because I know what's about to happen. Log-in screen comes up. I log in. I get a white screen and reloading doesn't help. Press back to get back to the post. Can't post because I logged in after I made the post--hit reload and then submit. Do it. Same message. F5. Same thing. This is the only forum I have the problem on. This is frustrating enough to totally discourage a newcomer from using the site.
The only way to fix it wipes out the post without any means of recovering the post. Only if you copy the entire post on your clipboard, exit the site, reenter, navigate to the correct thread and post from scratch can you correct the problem. You've been warned.
Edit: Just had your comments on inconsistent decalage in factory Radians penetrate my calcified brain. That's not good news. That means, for instance, Paul Naton's instructions on adjusting the decalage would have to a be adjusted to include measuring your present decalage and how to measure your adjustment. Either that or it's trial and terror method, and we don't especially enjoy that sometimes...
I have to agree that, if you want an airplane that you will fly under power most of the time but that has an OK glide than the Radian is not the choice for you.
If you want a glider that flies wonderfully, power off, and thermals great then the Radian is the right choice.
If you are still leaning more toward the glider, power off most of the time, but still want some airplane type flying character, then the Radian Pro would be good.
But if you are mostly interested in airplane type flight, neither of the Radians will be good for you.
(I have nothing else to contribute. Carry on.)
Free flight is dead. Long live free flight!
Frank Zaic Modeler's Group, Facebook
I had help in the decision making process... today NitroPlanes was offering a 15% discount on a number of planes including the Hawk Sky so I jumped on it. That and a second battery are on their way as we "speak". If the snow ever melts here, gonna have me some fun! Matter of fact, the snow might be a good landing surface.:D
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