View Full Version : RTF Foamies

09-13-2005, 05:41 AM
Are any here messing with the RTF low cost e fly stuff that is being sold on Ebay and at Harbor Freight? For some strange reason, I have gotten caught up in buying this stuff and trying to fly it. Must be some form of self-punishment, but the bug bit me when I bought an entire setup for $30 at Harbor Freight and then spent hours learning how to fly it. And I have years of nitro engine stick experience.

I have bought a bunch of stuff off Ebay, too. I could have a really good plane and radio for what I have spent on this junk, but I find it fun to get a $10 plane to fly.

Anyway, is this too pedanic for the Watt Flyer?


09-13-2005, 07:56 PM
I picked up a Megatech Firefly off of ebay last spring and I flew it 'till the bearings went out of the motors.:D

09-14-2005, 12:13 AM
I have been flying the Yellow Bee from Harbor Freight. On sale it is $30 which includeds a decent transmitter, and rechargeable NIMH flight battery. Flying with only engine speed control is a new challange for me compared to having elevator, aileron, and rudder.

I got a Flying Fox from Ebay and it is a nice powered glider. The same Ebay seller sold me a different plane that did not work out of the box and refuses to do anything about it.

I have a Megatech something that I have not been able to get going right, yet.

09-14-2005, 06:20 PM
I have bought a few of the Chinese clones of the Wattage Lightning that go by names like "Sky A-40" (see current item 5998746729) "Sky Warrior" (5999604625), "Super Sonic" (5999599080), etc. I have had mixed results.

These planes are 19-inch, differential thrust steering twins that weigh about 3 oz and come RTF for $25 incl s/h with careful bidding. There are basically two types. The slightly more complex ones have 2-speed motors, 5-cell batteries, and generall tricycle landing gears. The simpler ones (mostly called Super Sonic) have only 1 speed, so you have to control pitch/altitude by blipping on and off, 4-cell batteries, and are usually (though I think not always) taildraggers.

There are quality control issues. I had one that had a bad electrical connection somewhere and when turned at a certain angle one or both engines would cut out. Never found where the problem was. Another had one motor run a lot faster than the other, so it augered in no matter what was done with the controls. Both of these were 2-speed jobs. They are now useful sources of spare parts.

I have had better luck with the Super Sonics. 4 cells turns out to be plenty of power. But they are tail heavy. Mine needed a nickel glued to the extreme nose to trim properly. Later, after I had to repair the tail features with what I thought was a modest amount of epoxy, I had to increase the nose weight to a quarter. Despite the weight penalty, power is still adequate. The model flies well when you get it trimmed. Turning radius is adequate and in a pinch it will do a hammerhead stall. It is crashworthy and in particular I have never broken a prop as they are small, stout, and well protected by the configuration.

I generally take the landing gear off, but on a smooth surface they should be able to take off from the ground. I would not try to land one, there's just not enough control.

Overall I find them quite fun. I am considering building a new airframe, say a scale B-25 or Me-110, based on a paper model or some such, and transplanting the guts of one of these planes into it. Then I could improve the CG position, plus it would look cool. Unfortunately a short nosed type like a Mosquito, Beaufighter, or F5F probably would be incorrigibly tail heavy because there would be no room to put the battery forward of the wing where it really should go.

Lately there is a new low-wing variation on these planes (5999530680), but I haven't tried it.

I have also bought from ebay the larger "Air Bus" (5999147715) and "B-29" (5999144414) but have not maidened them yet. I may take the Air Bus up this weekend. It is probably only a matter of time before I get one of the "SU-27" (5998311256) but with the motors that close together I think it will not turn very tight!

Bottom line, I think you should not hesitate to try one of these puppies. Just bear in mind that they're cheap toys and don't expect too much from them.

09-14-2005, 07:08 PM
Thanks, I have four or five of the ebay planes. The best of the bunch is a Flying Fox. It is a 42 inch wing, five cell, 3 speed motor. Basically a powered glider. I get 12-14 minute flights. A Sea Bird (six cell) from the same ebay seller (JN_DICAST) came with a defective receiver or transmitter. Both motors quit shortly after launch and it hit hard. The seller refuses to do anything about it.

I have bought two more Flying Fox planes, a Sky Warrior, and a Flying Fish from the same seller (you would think I would learn) and am waiting for them to arrive. I bought the Sky Warrior mostly to get the rechargable transmitter battery pack.

I normally do not put the landing gear on and hand launch. I fly off of grass mostly. I have put the gear on and taken off as well as done touch and goes on pavement, but that is always risky with the limited amount of control. As I am sure you have found, much wind at all is really bad. Dead calm is the best, but a light breeze is nice to set up a long glide into it. Several times I have pushed the wind speed to far, and got so far down wind I did not think I would get it back. A slight lull in the wind is all the saved me from losing it in deep woods. With a gas job, I could crank the motor, and give down elevator and dive into the wind. No such thing with these.

I am wary of the radio gear. Most of this is in the 40 or 49 MHz band. Neither is legal in the US. So far, I have not had any problem, but we could be fined or as a minumum have our gear confiscated by the FCC. Even the 27 MHz stuff is only quasi legal in that there is no sticker that it has been FCC approved.

If you have not run into it yet, the Yellow Bee from Harbour Freight is a really good deal. It is $30 on sale. The 27 MHz transmitter has trim levers on both sticks. The motor speed is fully proportional. I can fly level and steady with just the trim cranked up. It is a four cell pack. The transmitter even has a low battery warning light and tone. Definitely a cut above anything I have found on Ebay. Harbor Freight is stocking replacement wings, which also includes a V tail too for $10. I get about 11 minutes on a full battery. It is quick, so you need to stay on top of it, particularly at full throttle. After gaining altitude, I back off on the motor speed to make it easier to handle.

I have a lot of RC stick time with gas jobs, so this is not new to me, but I have found the small low cost (yes cheap) made in China stuff a bit of a challange until I got more familiar with the way to fly with out aileron or elevator control.

09-14-2005, 07:18 PM
I will be interested in your resuilts with the big four engine bomber. The feedback comments I have seen are not positive on it. As far as I can tell, PCPARTS and JNDIECAST are the same seller.

09-14-2005, 08:28 PM
Thanks TNFlier,

That is useful info about the Yellow Bee. A radio system that sophisticated sounds like an even better basis for transplanting into a scratchbuilt airframe. I have something similar to the Yellow Bee in the back of the garage, never opened, and I don't know if it has that nice radio. I'll check.

The Airbus seems to have about the same radio system as the Flying Fox. I prefer the scale-like looks and have read that it flies okay.

I do have some concern about the B-29. I will be surprised if it flies well but I've got to hear those four little engines buzzing, even if just for a few seconds. I am prepared to do some work to get it flying right. Can you point me to any sites where there might be informative reviews or tips?

The advantage of the Sky Warrior over all of these larger planes is that it turns tightly, and it doesn't glide or float much so it will actually penetrate wind just a little better, and if you see it heading out of bounds you can cut the power and it will come down pretty quickly. The 2-speed version actually allows you a semblance of directional control when gliding because the right stick will make one or the other engine come on just a little. The 1-speed one can be steered only when at full power.

I come at the hobby pretty much as a newbie, and don't think I'm interested in flying anything hotter than parkflyers. I prefer to think of these planes more as "radio guided free flight" than radio control. I find it reduces the frustration levels with these cheapie planes if I don't care to do 4-point hesitation rolls, but just hope the plane goes more or less where I want it.


09-14-2005, 08:59 PM
I have flown the lower priced B29 and had to cut and lower the wing flaps to get any lift but she rises slowly and with pulse bumps turns well. Ease back to Half throttle to land and always hand launch. Still it flies pretty good and at 40 feet it looks good.

09-14-2005, 11:00 PM
Regarding the B-29, I see from the chat boards that the one labeled "Air Warrior" with the Fifi decals is supposed to be a lot more airworthy than the one with the red and blue "USFV" decals. My as-yet-untried one is the USFV kind.:( Is that the one you have Morgue? Well, next time I'll know better, but I'll still have a go with the one I've got.

09-15-2005, 04:54 PM
I have the FIFI but they are both made by the same outfit or else they are going to have copyright problems. Bear in mind that initially I could only get 10 feet and nosed in. I then started to make changes to the flaps just to see if I could get it into the air. Now it flies pretty good and turns well by pulsing the stick. I did use hot glue to stabilize the elevator and rudder, wing still detaches for travelling. Start with a 20 degree down angle on the flaps and 5 degree up on elevator trim tabs, if she climbs slowly you got her if too fast lower angle on flaps. Landing is simple once this is set just ease back on the throttle until she starts to lose altitude. Let me know if this helps, also I am thinking of trying to do retracts and bomb drop with 4 channel system I have, may have to increase prop size but this is just a thought for now.

09-15-2005, 08:32 PM
Copyright problems! Please. If Chinese manufacturers were worried about copyright, we wouldn't have so many clones of the Wattage Lightning and MicroFlyer, Megatech FireFly, HobbyZone Firebirds, etc., etc. I have no doubt that they will rip off each other as readily as they rip off the US makers.

I have started to prep my B-29 and will take it up this weekend, weather permitting. People seem to have various solutions to the nose down problem including reducing the downthrust, increasing the incidence of the whole wing, etc. I don't know which one I will adopt yet.

BTW Tnflier, I have gotten a number of items from PCPARTS and found him fine to deal with, but all I expect is prompt shipping. I would never consider asking a vendor like that actually to support the product if defective.

There are a few Yellow Bees on ebay now. I snagged one last night. I look forward to playing with that radio system.

09-16-2005, 03:05 AM
Well, we difffer on what we expect from an ebay seller. When I pay about $40 for something and it does not work, and they will not do anything about it, I leave negative feedback. I bought a CD RW drive from him too, and the Nero software would not even install. The drive works, but it does not fit my notebook quite right, and he lilsted my model as being one it was for. PCPARTS is not on my good ebayer list, regardless of how fast he ships.

Really, the Yellow Bee is on Ebay? What do they go for with shipping? I have bought five of them. Gave one to a friend and have three still new in the box. I did pull the battery packs so when I go out to fly I have a bunch of charged battereis. I am flying my original one, but I did buy a new wing for it ($10). I fixed the old one, so I have a spare.

I use 3M DP 460 epoxy for most of my repair work on the foamies. Along with 3/4 inch wide fiberglass tape.

I agree with you, there is no copyright in China. But, quality can vary from manufacture to manufacture. I think many of the flight electronics are coming from the same place, but may be altered slightly for different planes.

I fly at the baseball field for local university, high school athletic field, and the athletic fields of several middle schools. The best place I have is a city park that ajoins a large lake. It is a huge open area. They have areas for sports and all sorts of things in a different area, and this is just un defined space. They do mow it so it is very nice.

I am getting our city manager interested in park fly, so if the issue ever comes up, I will hopefully have him on my side. I will try to teach him to fly with my foamies out at the park.

Above all, be considerate of others where ever you fly. Most people enjoy seeing them fly. I take time to show anyone interested what I have.

09-16-2005, 03:59 PM
There are 2 Yellow Bees on ebay right at the moment, 5999514069 which has 1 bid of at least 9.99 and s/h of 19.95, and 5999963203 which currently has no takers at the reserve of 19.95 and s/h of 14.95. The same seller failed to sell it for 29.95+14.95 last week. So, it looks like you could get one in the $35-40 range with patience. The one I scored two nights ago has a crack or crease in one wing that looks easy to fix, and my winning bid was 3.25 with s/h of 15.25, so I will get mine for under $20 total plus a few minutes of repair work.

I use hardware store 5-min epoxy and have not tried fiberglas tape yet, but it should be useful for this Yellow Bee repair so I will get some.

I agree with you about the quality of various manufacturers in China, which is why I'm worried that my B-29 is the "USFV" one. However, I am impressed with the detail. It even has accurate little gun turrets that rotate! I have drawn panel lines all over it and am making up accurate stickers, may post pics this weekend.

Mind you, the quality control of US manufacturers is not always impressive either. They are made at similar or maybe the very same plants in China as some of the clones, and one hears horror stories about most of the low-end types. The difference is that with the US companies you can get support. I have heard that no two Wattage MicroFlyers fly the same; at that size, the typical manufacturing variances in the amount of downthrust, etc., can make the difference between airworthy or not.

I fly in the elementary schoolyard and so far have not had any problems. I was afraid that parents and their kids over at the playground might object, but instead they stop to watch and tell their kids how cool the plane is. I try to stick with little planes weighing under 8 ounces partly because it would be easy to show someone how harmless they are. The B-29 might not be so well received, especially since it will be obvious to any observer that control over the plane is imperfect at best!

09-17-2005, 10:49 PM
I'd say you got a good deal on the Yellow Bird. When you can walk into a Harbor Freight and get a new one for $30, I am amazed people will pay more. HF has an instant guarantee that if anything is wrong, you get a new one. In fact, I have seen them swap out a busted one, which seems a bit too much.

I suggest you use slower set epoxy. You want it to soak into the foam for a a good joint. I use an awl to poke holes and then use a heat gun to warm it up while I rub the epoxy into the foam. I use one hour set epoxy. And use a heat lamp to accelerate the cure. Hold over from my model building where I hardly ever use fast set epoxy.

I have had to repair a crease in a YB wing and v tail. I use the awl to punch holes top and bottom in the film covering. Use a stick to put some epoxy over the holes. Then carefully heat gun it to get the epoxy thin like water. Use my finger to rub it in, and then lay some FG tape over it all. Top and bottom. You do not want either the wing or tail to move around on you while flying. That can be a disaster. Do be sensitive to adding weight, and particularyly non symetrical weight.

I have used a lot of school yards, too. The only hassle is sometimes there are kids playing or teams practicing. To avoid any accidents, I do not fly then. So far the large park has been perfect.

Hope the B-29 experience this weekend is a good one.:)

09-18-2005, 05:23 PM

Well, not anyone can walk into a Harbor Freight that easily. Speaking for me and about 5 million of my friends here in the New York City area, the nearest Harbor Freight location is about 140 miles. So once you figure mail order shipping costs, $35-40 on ebay looks just fine.

Thanks for the Yellow Bee repair tips. The way you fix 'em, I'm sure the repaired area is stronger than the original foam. Judging by the auction pic, the tear is well inboard, around the nacelle, so I'm not too worried about upsetting lateral balance.

Agree with your practice re. schoolyards. Parks are a problem where I live because those that are not heavily wooded contain baseball diamonds where there are often games in progress, or a dad and son doing a little batting practice which I don't want to interfere with. Schoolyards are about the only large open spaces which is okay because there are plenty of them.

Breeze is gusting to about 5 mph today, lovely to be out in but not ideal for the maiden, so the B-29 will stay in the hangar. Anyway, fighter escort is not quite ready (a 14" Funcraft P-51 that I am converting to take Wattage MicroFlyer guts). Maybe during the week.

09-18-2005, 06:01 PM
Sorry, I had no idea you were in NYC. Gives me a better understanding of your flying site issue and also location of Harbor Freight. Get a group together when HF has a sale, and drive the 140 miles by car. I am in a small town, with a HF about 5 miles from me and I think that is a long way to drive.:rolleyes:

The normal place to crease or break a YB wing will be through one of the slots where an engine is located. Those are the two weak points in the wing. And, yes that place is close to the center, so upsetting lateral balance is no so much of an issue. I was worried when I repaired a V taill that the weight added so far aft would create a CG problem, but I noticed no ill effect.

I fly mine without the LG. It falls out so easy anyway unless you epoxy it in and I always hand launch anyway and land on grass. I will try an asphalt landing to see how hard it is on the fuselage. The LG is a a big source of drag, anyway, and good to get rid of it. And, with no LG, I can put my hand where I like to launch and not have to worry about getting wacked by the prop. I can tell you before I removed the LG, I would bloody my right hand every time I flew.

I did a dumb thing yesterday. I decided I could "improve" the transmitter and took it apart. Now, it does not work. So, I have a project on the the table. Expect I will get it fixed as I am a EE. But, not so smart to prevent screwing it up in the first place;)

You are wise to hold off on a first B-29 flight until the wind in dead calm or darn near it.

09-18-2005, 08:30 PM
Hurrah, got the transmitter fixed. :D Turned out that some dirt must have gotten into the throttle potentiometer. Blew it out and sprayed it with electronic cleaner. Then, I proceeded with the modifications I wanted to do. I made small adjustments to the throttle and stearing contols so I had the idle speed range I wanted to make flying easier and the steering trims are now centered so I can set the plane for a left or right hands off circle. I noticed that the circuit uses a LM7805 voltage regulator. That is a nice touch and something I would not have expected in something this low cost. Strangely, they ground off all markings on the main chip. I do not know why they would have done this other than to prevent the circuit from being copied. :confused:

I wrap a rubber band around the nose cover so that in the event of a crash, the heavy battery will not come crashing through the cover and maybe loose it in tall grass, or do damage to the circuit board when it yanks on the connector. I also pack foam rubber all around the receiver to protect it from shock and vibration. When you hand launch, give it a good toss straight into the wind. Pretty level, or just slightly nose up, but not much. Full throttle, of course. Be ready to get on the stearing right away and be ready to back off on the throttle if it gets unstable. A turn at the top of a stall will normally bleed off enough energy to settle it down.

09-18-2005, 08:50 PM
Hurrah, got the transmitter fixed. :D Turned out that some dirt must have gotten into the throttle potentiometer. Blew it out and sprayed it with electronic cleaner. Then, I proceeded with the modifications I wanted to do. I made small adjustments to the throttle and stearing contols so I had the idle speed range I wanted to make flying easier and the steering trims are now centered so I can set the plane for a left or right hands off circle. I noticed that the circuit uses a LM7805 voltage regulator. That is a nice touch and something I would not have expected in something this low cost. Strangely, they ground off all markings on the main chip. I do not know why they would have done this other than to prevent the circuit from being copied. :confused:

I wrap a rubber band around the nose cover so that in the event of a crash, the heavy battery will not come crashing through the cover and maybe loose it in tall grass, or do damage to the circuit board when it yanks on the connector. I also pack foam rubber all around the receiver to protect it from shock and vibration. When you hand launch, give it a good toss straight into the wind. Pretty level, or just slightly nose up, but not much. Full throttle, of course. Be ready to get on the stearing right away and be ready to back off on the throttle if it gets unstable. A turn at the top of a stall will normally bleed off enough energy to settle it down.

09-22-2005, 06:24 AM

Got my Yellow Bee today, and it was pretty much as described, give or take a few little screws and a scuff or two. Should fly fine after the simple wing fix.

One thing missing was the instructions. Can you tell me, how long do the instructions say to charge the battery?

B-29 and escort are ready to go. I marked her as Lucky Lady of the 504 BG on Tinian. We'll soon see if she lives up to her name. The P-51, based on glide tests, is going to be a handful.

09-23-2005, 03:42 AM
The maiden battery charge of the 4 cell AAA is 3 hrs or when the pack gets hot .. its 4.8 V though i dont expect everyone will have a mulitmeter althose those things were $2.99 at HF .. so you have no reason to not have one!

I have my maiden flight and 2nd ( at which point i should have stopped due to cracked wing) but i did it in with an attempted 3rd .. and is quite hillarious !!!

here are the pics and VIDEOS OF THE YELLOW BEE FROM HARBOR FREIGHT ( thank you china for yor cheap labor and production capability, without which many of us would not have dropped the extra $$$ to get into this wonderful hobby) ...

ENJOY !!!!:)


http://home.earthlink.net/~ershe/images (http://home.earthlink.net/%7Eershe/images)

I have now won this plane - 3 channel is the recommended min. for decent tcontrol here is the cesna (unless its a glider )


09-23-2005, 05:05 AM
Hey K5083, looks like your are ready to rock and roll. I have to say that big bomber looks impressive. Look for some tall grass or weeds for the first flight.

The input was right on charging. 3 Hr max timer. Quit when the pack gets hot. I have to admit I am not very good at keeping track of times. I carry three packs with me to the field so I can fly sevaral times. Not there long enough to recharge at the field from my inverter.

I'm going out tomorrow with a buddy to fly our foamies. I have six different ones. Some are a lot better than others. The worst is a Sea Bird from PCParts. A real piece of crap. Best is a toss between the Yellow Bee and the Flying Fox from JN_Diecast. I have two FireBirds and think there is some sort of fundemental design or assemby problem with them. Have three Yellow Bees still NIB. Still flying my first one. I must have 30-40 flights or more on it.

09-23-2005, 05:27 AM
hey TN .. all i can say is you are adog gone good pilot to have 30 flights on that YB pos ..!!! course ... mine is gonna fly like crap now that i have epoxied toothpicks and duck tape to creases and cracks... its probably not ballanced.

and with the wing stiffend becaause of the epoxy excess it probably isnt sitting right flat on the hor. mount where the motors lie ( even that plastic the motors sit in doesnt seem to hold the motors so they are perpendicular to it ) .. come on China, lets get some accuracy in your molds.. mayb u sell kit for $34.95 for extra precision kit.

09-23-2005, 08:05 PM
Thanks for the battery charging info TNFlier and Chron. I now have five or six ready to go as well, most of them untried. The Yellow Bee wing repair is done. A little tricky because the crack was right at one of the bends for the dihedral, so I couldn't just make it straight, I had to get just the right amount of dihedral on it.

A nasty old Hobbico thing, the B-29 and P-51, and a stock MicroFlyer round out the fleet for the next flying day. However that will not be tomorrow because I am going to drive up to New Hampshire to check out some real planes. The Nashua airshow is expecting a B-17, B-24, B-25, P-51, P-40, P-47, Corsair, C-54, C-47, and various trainers and antiques. Maybe I'll fly Sunday.

09-25-2005, 06:28 AM
Until you get proficient with the YB, you are bound to bang up the wing. Whether it is a crease where it started to fold or a clean break. Even after you have flying it nailed, things can happen. Wind comes up, you outrfly the battery and have to land dead, or there is always a tree that will reach out and grab it.

It is crutial that you do not try to fly with a crease that lets the wing or V tail move. Adhesive tape is never going to hold it. You have to use slow set epoxy. I use an awl to punch holes in the yellow "skin" around a break or a crease. I put epoxy over the holes and use a heat gun to warm it up so air bubbles out of the foam and them let it cook off with the epoxy being sucked into it. If the crease is really bad or if it is a total fracture, I use fiberglasss tape (3/4 inch wide) over the crease or fracture. I lay it down after I have done the heat gun thing with the epoxy. In the case of a wing or tail, I pin it down to my building board (wax paper under it) to keep it lined up correctly. I watch the curing and when the epoxy is getting thick, I use my finger to push and smooth the fiberglass tape. Use this as a final chance to make sure the repair is aligned the way I want. I use enought epoxy to wet the tape but I do not have a sea of it floating around. I use the same technique to repair any cracks in the plastic body. Always use the fiberglass tape with the epoxy.

I have noticed that one motor is not pointing straight forward. I think this is intentional. They are building in some natural turn under full power. I see this on most of the pusher type jobs from China. I would not worry about it. Once air speed builds up, the trim tabs on the V tail have a lot more effect than motor thrust line.

I also fly the Harbor Freight electric free fllight plane. It is a super flier. So good, I keep losing them to thermals. The one to get is the high wing pusher. The wing is high aspect ratio (long and skinny) and it really flys. On sale for $7.

Good flying!

09-26-2005, 02:00 AM

I went with almost your method to fix the wing, using "2-ton" epoxy and fg tape. I skipped the heat gun. The epoxy was already quite thin. The result is stiffer than the undamaged half of the wing.

In the past I have found 5-min epoxy good enough for any foamie repair task, at any rate I have never had a joint fail. But the 2-ton was fine for insurance this time.

I have flown both of those Harbor Freight free flights and even the tractor monoplane is a good little flyer, especially without landing gear. I last saw mine headed happily over the shopping mall across the road from the field where I was flying. Those are commonly converted to RC; I can't see stuffing $100 worth of equipment into it like some do, but it should be able to take MicroFlyer guts. Have you tried the biplane? Mine is still in the box.


09-26-2005, 02:23 AM
The slow set epoxy is not for added strength in this case. It is to allow more time for the resin to soak into the foam. I never use 5 minute set for anything. It just is not worth it unless you just need to fill up a hole.

Now, the FG tape does add a heck of lot in overall strength to the joint.

One thing I like about slow set is there is a period of time where it is getting thick that you can use to make final adjustiments and smooth it out.

I have not tried the HF piper looking FF plane. The pusher model is a serious FF plane. The bipe is nice looking, but not much of a flyer. I can get a few circles out of it, and that is about it.

My HF store just got in a new RC plane. Similar to the Yellow Bee, but hand launch only and it has a plastic fuselage rather than the carbon tube. Different looking transmitter. Unless it has better motors, I do not see any reason to buy it. They do now have a multi channel Piper looking job for $130 that should fly pretty well. At least it has elevator and rudder.

10-06-2005, 10:43 PM
Hey, k5083
How about fight report on the bomber and the Yellow Bee?