I had the opportunity to check out the newest release from 2 Dog RC this month and I have to tell you that I am more impressed than I have been in a long time. This Yak 54 is no sleepy hound dog, but an alert, responsive, highly trained attack dog.
The EPP Yak 54 combo came to me in a box specifically designed to make sure your plane gets to you in damage free condition. I'll even mention it one more time, because I was impressed. A real nice SHIPPING box is what the plane comes in. Not some flimsy display box, but the real deal. I was pleased to only have to open one nice box, than a number of cheap flimsy boxes. Even if the puppies in the pound decide to play on it, the plane is in good hands.
First thing that came out was the instructions. Without even taking the rest of the plane out, I started perusing through the instructions. It is a quality printed manual, with full color photos. Every step is neatly outlined. It would take a real effort to make a mistake building this plane. everything is thoroughly covered in the instruction manual. It didn't take long however to see that the instructions were created by someone who may not have english as their first language. I'm always amused by some of the translations like this: Use the knife to cut off the superfluous band.
English Translation: Trim off the extra zip tie.
The instructions were also including of some things that happily for me, were not there. First, the manual shows an "O-Ring" Prop saver, and I hate those. There was a regular prop hub included with the motor. Next, it showed one of those Orange GWS style props. I hate those too (don't tell me how you love them cause I dont care!) but happily a preferred APC prop was in the box. I thought I was going to be howling at parts I didnt like, but that was not the case.
Aside from those silly little hiccups, there was nothing incorrect about building the airplane. The steps involved, and the manual made it very easy to understand. The instruction manual used a non colored plane as the build example, and that was a great idea. It made it easy to see what was needed to be seen.
This plane is being touted as near indestructible. So much so that it is printed on the plane in 4 places! Ok, I get it... its "Almost Unbreakable (and) Easy to Install".
After spending a good 20 minutes with the manual, I went to work on the plane. Ya know, how when driving through small towns how some may say "Don't blink, you'll miss it", well thats how this build goes. If you get everything ready, you literally will have it done in a very short time. I was able to get it from box to balance in 90 minutes, and 30 of those minutes included me eating my lunch. I took my time, but honestly, you cant slow down CA glue that much! I'd bet I could have one from the box to the air in less than 30 minutes if I were to do it again.
On the radio install, I had originally wanted to use a new Berg 4ch RX. With 2 servos on the Ailerons, I needed a Y harness. I had one and plugged it in. On both the servos for the empinage I needed to use a 4" extension to reach the bay where the RX would fit. With all of that wire, it was just messy and ugly. I didnt like all that wire stuff hanging all around, so I pulled the 4ch and went with a Berg 5 that I had in another plane. Putting the 5ch in allowed me to ditch the Y harness for the Aileron, and simply mix channels 1 and 5 for control. Less wire let me tuck everything into the cavity provided, and it looks real clean.
I loved this build because although I was crunched for space and worried about where I was going to build it, the way it fits together, you can build it without ever setting it down on a bench if you need to. I had a bench top cleared off for the build, but about 2/3 of the way into it, I realized I had not set it down yet. I had been holding it the whole time! It was not until the landing gear was being installed that I set it in a cradle for the glue to dry. After that, it was back over on its wheels, and thats how I finished it.
None of the foam needed attention. Everything fit perfectly. The wings fit together, then into the cutout without problem. No need to tweak, twist or force. When pressed in, it was square and aligned properly. I could go over each step of the build, but WHY?? The manual is great, and you don't need me to tell you that Tab A fits into Slot B.
When the motor was being installed, I noticed the firewall had just a touch of Left Thrust
(the motor was facing to the left) in it. All it took was 2 little washers under the left side of the motor mount, which brought it right into perfection.
I REALLY LOVED being able to make a shallow cut into the EPP, and tuck the wires away. Makes for a super clean looking install with a foamy, not like what you see on the flat foamies, where all of their radio, wires and everything is simply stuck on the side.
All of the hardware is perfectly matched for this plane. It comes with real nice fiberglass control horns, and servo arm extensions to make sure you have extendo-throw-rates for that 3D stuff.
When I first saw the control wires, I was concerned about flex, after having to struggle with a cutter to trim them, I'm pleased with the spring steel control rods! They do not flex at all under flight loads.
FUN and FAST. It would be a great plane to build when showing someone else how to do it. You really have to work hard to mess this one up.
Balance was DEAD ON, without having to do anything.
This is a fully 3D capable ship. With unlimited vertical there is no reason to go with anything other than the power set included in the combo from 2 Dog RC.
On the day of the Maiden flight I could not have asked for a better day. Maybe it was because 2/3 of the country is under several feet of snow, maybe it was because I had crystal clear skies with little to no wind, or maybe it was because this plane is PURE PLEASURE to fly. I was soon to find out that I was about to have the most fun flying a brand new airplane than I had ever had before.
With the hand launch into vertical, I simply flew the traffic pattern to trim it out. Only one click of down, and one click of right aileron was all it took to get straight and level flight. A quick test of the CG with a 45 degree up and down climb, roll over to inverted and do it again. "Seems right on balance"
I thought to myself. Ok two trips in a circle and thats enuf of the boring stuff. I go vertical and check the roll rate. Seems ok, but not much... OOPS, rate switch is down at 60%. Flick the rates up, and WOO HOO! Much nicer. I go over onto some knife edge flight, and another club member walks up and starts asking about the plane. I circle around and come back the other way (still on the knife edge) and I see it is tracking perfectly. I do a flyby, on the knife edge, WITHOUT ANY RIGHT HAND! I let go of the transmitter with my right hand, and only used rudder and throttle for a complete pass down the runway. WHAT?? Near hands off Knife Edge?? Wow. I swing around, and slow roll to inverted for another long pass. A touch of 'high alpha' and again, I do an inverted pass that is rock solid.
A little more horsing around with it, and I realize I've flown 10 minutes, all while talking about the airplane. I land to swap battery.
I take out one of my batteries and install the included Dualsky battery to get back into the air fast. Being that its brand new, fully charged and 30c, I expected it to have a bit more kick than my year-and-a-half old 20C battery did, and I was not disappointed. 10 minutes of high throttle, high acrobatic lots of hover flying didn't stress anything one bit. All was super cool to the touch afterwards. For duration information, after an aggressive 10 minute flight on the new 1300 Dualsky battery, it took 1090 mAh back in it during the charge, so I'd not recommend going longer than a 10 minute flight. After 10 minutes, I had about 300 mAh left.
During the 3rd battery, I let one of the club's IMAC competitors have it for a flight. Steve Dente put it through it's paces and within seconds was doing textbook moves. He pointed out that I didn't have one of the ailerons deflecting the same amount as the other (I had set them when it was switched to low rates so the endpoint of ch 5 was not as far as ch 1), so after a quick TX adjustment, I was back to 100% equal. He also suggested we increase the end point adjustment on the ailerons. I think I may have had my expo turned up a bit for his preference (I like 35% expo), because the only issue he had was at hover, needing more aileron to keep from torque rolling. I'd bet if I turned expo down and brought the responsiveness up from the ailerons, he would have not made any comment aside from the incorrect matching.
Steve continued along giving a IMAC pattern clinic with it, commenting on its stability for high-alpha, how little its 'coupling' is when flying on the knife edge, and its overall flyability.
I continued to fly 2 more packs through it until I had to leave. I was really in a good mood after this session. A great plane made a great day into a really satisfying flying session. Normally a maiden can bring out a lot of nerves and apprehension, but this new Yak 54 from 2 Dog RC will have you out loving every moment of it from the super speedy build, to the great flight performance.
Dislikes? Well I have to be real picky to find them, but I will. About the only thing that I'd suggest, is taking off the "Almost Unbreakable (and) Easy to Install" from the airplane. Its everywhere, and ugly. The markings are great, until you are continually reminded that it is "Almost Unbreakable (and) Easy to Install". Honestly, that belongs on the box, not the airplane. Someone may get tired of seeing that, someone other than me. Kinda makes you think its like training wheels.
In closing, I have no problem looking someone in the eye and recommending this plane. For the price, the combo kit is a value. I can see me loving this plane for a long time, its tough and it isn't too big. With the rates where they recommend, it is SPECTACULAR. With them turned down, you have a very capable, very durable progressively more acrobatic 3D trainer. You can dial up the rates, and dial up your own 3D skill. The power is more than ample. Its near ballistic!
Stay tuned for Report #2, as I take it out and put it in the hands of a pilot who has not done any 3d flying yet. I want to see how a relative newcomer likes it.