DismayingObservation's blog View Details
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 22, 2016 @ 01:21 PM | 2,022 Views
...but not one too far removed from what we enjoy on this site.

Since my final RCGroups review went live, I've been busy doing some other things including some magazine work. I'm also working hard on launching some professional projects.

That said, I've had the pleasure of doing informal reviews for the good folks at Banggood.com right here on the RCG blogs. Not only do they have a lot of fun flying things, they have other electronic items of interest.

As part of the most recent review I did on their behalf, I requested a rather cool and inexpensive item which arrived yesterday under separate cover.

It's a pocket radio kit!

http://www.banggood.com/DIY-CF210SP-...p-1056663.html

I really wanted to do this as a project with my grandson and so we will. I'll cover it here on the blogs as time permits. Since the instructions are in Chinese, I'd followed a link to a YouTube video on the Banggood review page. Lo and behold, a time lapse assembly sequence!

Classical Soldering - AM/FM/TV Radio Kit - #0047 (26 min 46 sec)


This is going to be fun.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Sep 09, 2016 @ 11:22 PM | 1,152 Views
That, of course, is a good thing where we hobbyists are concerned.

A couple of other posters here on the blogs have highlighted the new Eachine E010 micro quad and man, is this thing ever fun.

They were selling for all of $10.99, at least when they were in stock. Not only do they fly surprisingly well, especially indoors, but there are already threads right here on RCGroups on how to turn an E010 into a budget Tiny Whoop!

Here's one:
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...p#post35684295

According to the ordering page, the price has gone up to a still amazing $15.99. My suggestion: Get one while you can. They're really that good, although outdoor conditions should be at or near dead calm. The E010 won't lose its composure in breezy conditions, but as fast as it is, it doesn't quite have the power or torque to overcome a breeze, at least in stock configuration. In calm conditions, it's as much fun to fly as anything in this ridiculously low price range has a right to be.

Here am I flying the E010 both indoors and out. The model was provided by RCGroups user "BG Well" at Banggood for review and critique.

Eachine E010 Micro Quadcopter from Banggood.com Indoor Video (2 min 7 sec)


Eachine E010 Micro Quadcopter from Banggood.com Outdoor Video (1 min 59 sec)
...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 28, 2016 @ 05:15 PM | 1,316 Views
I was certainly busy last night.

Lots of 2200mAh 3S li-pos were making their way through my charger in preparation for some fun with a favorite plane, another I hadn't flown in more than a year and some quads.

The planes were the FMS F3A Explorer pattern plane from Force RC (originally Diamond Hobby) and the other was the Parkflyers RC Corsair from Parkflyers.com.

My grandson is a big Corsair fan and I hadn't flown this Art-Tech based model with its upgraded motor in quite some time. So, I charged up a couple of 1300 3S packs. It wasn't without its problems; the tail on the Corsair is extremely delicate and sure as heck, I managed to bump it hard enough to snap off at the base. Some borrowed 15-minute epoxy and a bit of borrowed CA later and the tail was stronger than ever.

While it was setting, up went the amazing Explorer. The original spinner cone was damaged by thread locking compound and the original prop was damaged in a noseover landing. The replacement APC prop is a huge improvement over the original! It's quiet, fast and makes this already fantastic model even more fun to fly, but I had to use the backplate of the spinner in order to mount the prop to the motor. It goes about its business to near perfection, doing every kind of loop, stall, hammerhead, Immlemann and knife edge I could throw at it. The tips of the propeller had gotten a bit scraped on a previous noseover, but it still pulls the Explorer with authority.

The little Corsair was a model which I'd originally described as underpowered, but the addition of the Parkflyers RC "Power Star 3000" motor turned this sweet flying but somewhat slow little model into something much more befitting of its subject.

Plenty of power on tap meant some wonderful rolls and large, accurate loops. It's also one of the easiest landing models imaginable; it practically floats in with very little power.

The original 2013 review of the Corsair may be found here and the original 2015 review of the Explorer may be found here.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 27, 2016 @ 02:56 PM | 1,637 Views
In my last blog, I mentioned that a review of some wonderful new Hitec multirotor motors was on the way.

And so it is.

Here's the result of the combination of Hitec Energy Propel 2212/20 motor/ESC combos, a DragonFly 32 Pro FC from site sponsors Multirotor Mania and an Armattan CF-355 frame from site sponsors Armattan Quadrocopters.

It all makes for one of the most fun sport quads I've ever flown and I highly recommend these motors and support components. Keep an eye peeled for the official review on the electric flight page!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 17, 2016 @ 12:09 PM | 1,169 Views
As the summer labors on, I try and think back to the last time I flew an airplane.

The last time I was at the field was more than a month ago when I got video of the HobbyKing Super-G autogyro and before that, I honestly can't remember flying a plane at the club in recent months. It's been too hot, too windy or both at the club.

However, this crazy hot weather with its almost daily heat warnings continues to provide the opportunity to revisit old multirotor and helicopter friends either in the house, at the park or out front.

That said, I just flew my XK EC145 helicopter from Tmart.com and the neat little JJRC H20 nano hexacopter from Gearbest.com. I reviewed the helicopter in January 2016 and the hexacopter in October 2015.

I guess I've been spoiled with mini multirotors; the EC145 takes a more determined hand to fly it, even with the six-axis gyro engaged. Breezy conditions didn't help, so it was back to the living room to run out the batteries. Much better.

Once the initial charge drops off a bit, the model becomes a lot more controllable. It isn't difficult to control by any means, but it's both CCPM and small. The flybarless system does its job well and the scale look is just unbeatable. Add to that Futaba S-FHSS compatibility, brushless power and good parts availability and the little Eurocopter is one of the biggest bangs for the buck in micro helis. If one were to bind it to a Futaba radio, the possibilities of fine tuning are limitless.

The...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 11, 2016 @ 06:27 PM | 1,382 Views
And hoo boy, is it ever a fun one.

The good folks at Hitec RCD have concocted their own version of multirotor motors with integral ESCs and they are, in a word, fantastic.

The upcoming official review of their Hitec Energy Propel Systems 2212/20 motor/ESC combos will feature some of the best products in the hobby, including an Armattan CF-355 quadcopter frame and a Multirotor Mania DragonFly 32 flight controller.

I hope to get video of this contraption in action on Sunday and share the review soon after. Jason Cole's original news report on these motors may be found here and Hitec's info page is here.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Aug 05, 2016 @ 02:30 PM | 1,346 Views
Lately, as I've mentioned in previous entries, I've been dusting off a lot of models, especially small ones.

While these aren't previous review subjects, I still thought it'd be fun to share.

The now-discontinued three-channel Blade Red Bull BO-105 CB CX RTF coaxial heli was a model I'd purchased new from an RCGroups user for a whopping thirty bucks. Similar to the Scout CX, it flies much like driving an R/C car. Throttle simply makes it climb and descend while the right stick adds pitch and yaw. It's as steady as a rock and is about as much fun an indoor flier as one could imagine.

The odd little Xieda 9958 fixed-pitch heli was a real bargain a couple of years ago. I picked it up at a booth at the AMA Expo for $20. Brand new. With a battery. It's clearly a clone (to some degree) of the Blade mSR. It isn't as good a flier as the mSR, but for twenty bucks, it's hard to beat. It suffers from twitchy radio controls and a not-too-stable tail. Flown gently, it's a blast, especially for the price.

The real deal, the Blade mSR, still ranks among the most popular little fixed pitch helis in hobby history. After Horizon Hobby discontinued it, they brought it back a few months later! This is another rock solid flier both indoors and out and on low rates, it's as gentle as can be for indoor sorties. In fact, I bound it to a transmitter specifically designed for the Blade SR. I'd bought it used off of eBay a few years ago to experiment with the attempted resurrection of...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 31, 2016 @ 07:09 PM | 1,475 Views
XinLin X118 RTF Quadcopter from Gearbest.com (4 min 4 sec)


Monsoon conditions here in the desert equal some really sticky, nasty weather. I call it nine months of paradise and three months of purgatory.

It's given me some time to fly some quads indoors, ones I hadn't flown for some time in many cases.

Nicely tucked away in my closet was the XinLin X118 quadcopter provided by Gearbest.com for a September 2015 review. That review may be found here.

Since I'd recently done a casual review of the Eachine E5C quad here on the blogs, it didn't take long for me to realize just how similar the X118 happens to be. Very similar, but not alike and the radio protocols are different. To my delight, the batteries are the same!

I remember being somewhat lukewarm over the X118. It's a good if somewhat larger than usual indoor flyer with one heck of an LED light show. The FPV function is pretty good with a large, hooded screen and a micro SD card slot for the supplied 4MP card.

During a brief outdoor flight, I remembered just why I wasn't too crazy about the X118. Low rates are unsuitable for outdoor flight and both medium and high rates are on the touchy side. There isn't a lot of power on tap and I quickly remembered that the model should be landed immediately when power drops off. The low battery warning lights only come on when the battery dumps and sends the quad to the ground.

That said, it remains a good beginner's machine, but with no spare parts support even a year after Gearbest stated on the ordering page that parts were temporarily out of stock. However, it's very similar to the Syma X5C, so wear and crash parts like motors, props, prop shafts and landing skids are likely interchangeable.

I may have to yank the camera and skids and give this little quad another go and report back. Some "weight loss" ought to put it nearly on par with the Eachine H5C.

In the meantime, please enjoy the YouTube video from the original review at the top of the page.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 30, 2016 @ 10:53 PM | 2,069 Views
WLtoys Q282G RTF FPV Hexacopter from Tmart.com (4 min 3 sec)


Back around Halloween 2015, I had the opportunity to review a neat little machine from Tmart.com and I figured it was worth revisiting.

The WLtoys Q282G was the first micro hexacopter with a 5.8GHz FPV system and onboard video capabilities. At the time, I asked if the Q282G was a sort of heir apparent to the still popular V911 fixed pitch helicopter.

I said that despite the fantastic flight characteristics, the surprisingly good video and a battery powered FPV screen worthy of a more expensive model, there was a big bugaboo.

The radio range.

Try as I might, the model wouldn't fly out more than about 40 or 50 feet - if even that - before it lost signal and crashed. Some discussions here on RCGroups regarding truncated radio range on WLtoys transmitters led me to pick up a pair of 2.4GHz router antennas from Amazon.com for the princely sum of about seven bucks, shipped free thanks to Amazon Prime.

That did the trick after a bit of soldering and slicing of the phony antenna stub. I thought it would be fun to dust it off and give it a whirl since I hadn't done so since the successful test flights after the antenna mod.

Tmart.com had forwarded two additional li-pos for the model; one was still in the wrapper! I charged it up, powered up the little hexacopter and took it outside for a real boogie blast on both 80% and 100% control rates.

Not only will it go from full speed to turning around inside...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 24, 2016 @ 04:29 PM | 2,232 Views
Eachine E5C RTF Quadcopter from Banggood.com (2 min 59 sec)


Back at the dawn of nano and micro quads, it was possible to pick up a halfway decent version for, oh, about a hundred bucks.

I know. That’s what I paid for mine and I still have it.

Like any other consumer (or hobby) item, R&D coupled with improved production methods send prices plummeting. Economics 101, as it were.

Today, a mere thirty dollars with free shipping nets a vastly improved mini quad. Or, if you prefer, $29.99.

That model is the camera equipped Eachine E5C from my friends at Banggood.com. Eachine dabbles in some higher end hobby quads, but their bread and butter seems to be little entry level machines like this one.

The E5C comes with the usual accessories such as propeller guards, two spare props, a small screwdriver, a USB charging cord and the model itself which only needs the installation of the camera and the landing skids for completion. Buyers need to ante up for a standard micro SD card and reader along with four AA-cell alkaline batteries to power the transmitter.

Unwrapping the plastic and foam used to ship the model revealed an attractive display box. Inside, the E5C came with propellers installed and with the 500mAh flight battery waiting inside the model itself.

An unexpected surprise came in the form of a neat little pair of sunglasses packed inside the box! I’ve tried doing some flying with them and I have to say that they work quite well.

Blue...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 21, 2016 @ 11:08 AM | 1,889 Views
MJX X601H RTF Hexacopter from Banggood.com (3 min 5 sec)


As my ten years as an official RCGroups reviewer draw to a close, it’s my pleasure to state that I’ll continue to do the occasional casual review right here on the blogs.

I’ve been privileged to work with some of the hobby’s greatest distributors and manufacturers. Among them is Hong Kong-based mail order house Banggood.com. They often make product samples available for casual review by RCGroups bloggers. So, when I was given the opportunity to do the same, I jumped at the chance.

My first such review is of a fun, entry level RTF multirotor, the MJX X601H hexacopter. This affordable little machine comes fully assembled less the skids and optional propeller guards and comes equipped with a WiFi camera which sends recordable video back to an Apple or Android smartphone. What’s more, the free MJX app also allows the X601H to be operated via smartphone! Definitely a strange but fun experience.

As with every Banggood product I’ve ever reviewed, the X601H arrived wrapped in plastic and foam. Inevitably, the corners of the display boxes get dinged and the X601H was no exception. Still, the contents arrived unscathed. They include the fully assembled model with a 700mAh 7.4V lithium polymer battery, 2.4GHz transmitter, USB charger, spare props, prop guards, a small phillips screwdriver and an illustrated instruction booklet.

Banggood also sells an upgraded 1000mAh battery and...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 16, 2016 @ 09:19 PM | 2,174 Views
As I'd pointed out a couple of entries ago, my ten-year run as an official RCGroups.com reviewer will come to an end after the publication of the two reviews I'm working to complete.

Since I'm a member in good standing, I'm able to do what many of you have done, i.e., post product reviews right here on the blogs.

I've cultivated a terrific relationship with lots of vendors, among them Banggood.com. Not long ago, Banggood put out the call on the blogs for product reviewers. Since I've already done a lot of reviews on their behalf - including the two I have on the electric flight page at present - I was accepted into the fold, as it were. It's my promise to continue to be unbiased since these are, after all, reviews and not ads.

So, my new contact "BG Well" offered up a couple of tasty little entry level RTF multirotors.

One is the Eachine H5C quadcopter with its outstanding HD video/still camera. The other is the fun new MJX X600H hexacopter with its WiFi camera system.

Some videos and more detailed reviews of both machines are forthcoming, but for now, let me simply say that both of these machines are worth considering.

The link to the Eachine quad's ordering page may be found here and the link to the MJX hexacopter may be found here.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 11, 2016 @ 02:40 PM | 1,844 Views
Man, am I ever stoked!

At long last and thanks in no small part to an expert on the model, I finally put two successful flights on the HobbyKing Super-G autogyro which I'm reviewing for RCGroups.

I'd already done an initial review, but I wound up crashing on the maiden flight. I won't tip my hand to say what I did to get to this point for part two of the review, but let me simply say that it took practice, support and proper setup.

Here's the newest discussion page for the first review:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...4#post35229399

In my nearly completed second part of the review of this marvelous model, I'll explain just what I did to set it up for success. As HobbyKing rightfully states, it's a flying experience like no other.

This is the European ordering page:

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/s...arehouse_.html

Fun? Oh yes.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 03, 2016 @ 09:24 PM | 11,419 Views
It's summertime in the desert which means hot weather.

So, a lot of flying is being done indoors and I just flew this little fellow:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2549610

The Eachine H8C, reviewed during much cooler temps in January 2016 is lots of fun to fly indoors and one I'd not flown in some time.

The low rates were just as I remembered them, namely too low. The medium and even the high rates are fun in an indoor situation and the LEDs make it easy to keep oriented. In this case, red is front and blue is rear, but with that in mind, orientation remains simple.

I didn't try the camera simply because I saw no point in filming my living room. I recall that the quality of the camera was so-so at best. However, the price has since been lowered to the odd price of US$22.59 and still with free shipping. Even at this low price, Banggood.com has a complete selection of spare parts.

While I don't often fly the H8C, it remains a fun indoor/outdoor flyer which is easily repaired should the unthinkable happen.

Quick update: Some batteries may be in this little guy's future. Flight times are way down.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 28, 2016 @ 02:35 PM | 3,135 Views
Well, perhaps that's a bit grandiose, but I am in fact moving into new territory here at RCGroups.com.

For more than ten years, I've been on the authors' forum as part of the product review team. The site is changing its policy, so I'm kind of out of a really fun gig once my final reviews are published on the electric flight page.

Or, perhaps not.

Over the years, I've cultivated fantastic relationships with some of the world's foremost hobby manufacturers and distributors. One of those is Banggood.com. They put out a call not long ago for reviewers here on the blogs and since I'll remain a user in good standing, I can do some informal reviews right here.

Lots of folks are entering model aviation via inexpensive multirotors and this little fellow was offered to me:

http://www.banggood.com/MJX-X601H-X-...p-1046271.html

Hexacopters are definitely cool; I once reviewed the world's smallest hex from JJRC, but another review of the LiDi L6 entry level hex was cancelled due to faulty electronics and no spare parts.

So, as soon as I get the bird, as it were, I'll post the review here and I will continue to present every product here on the blogs as objectively as I have in the past on the site's official pages.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 21, 2016 @ 06:12 PM | 2,713 Views
...but affordable is kinda fun.

To explain:

I was at our club field this past Sunday morning to get video of a model I'm reviewing for the electric flight page. Kinda breezy for a smallish model like the one I flew but a bit much for a UMX, even one with stabilization.

One of our members took up a nearly new E-flite UMX F-16 EDF and whoa, what a cool little plane:

http://www.e-fliterc.com/Products/De...=EFLU2850#home

Not entirely sure how, but my guess is that a failed outside loop too close to the ground resulted in the little F-16 smacking the runway with the requisite sickening thud. I heard him say that the wind may have had something to do with stalling it.

As I was preparing to leave a little later on, I walked by a trash can and lo and behold, there was the F-16, electronics and all! The owner didn't want to mess with trying to repair it, figuring it would be easier to simply buy a new one. So, I asked him if I could take it and he not only said yes, he gave me the rest of the parts he hadn't discarded plus the box.

It'll need a fuselage and a tail section and brothers and sisters, parts for that little booger are pricey! One wing is damaged but salvageable, so I can save some bread that way. The worst damage is to the nose and it'll need the entire tail section anyway since one of the elevons sheared clean off.

I figure I can get this model with a $160 retail price in the air for about fifty bucks or so.

Pictures to follow very soon. In fact, I may blog about the experience of repairing it. E-flite micros are mostly taped together anyway, so this'll be an interesting experience. I have two other E-flite micros, but I've never crashed them.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 17, 2016 @ 10:07 AM | 2,572 Views
It's getting very hot here in the desert, so before it does, I decided just yesterday to fly a couple of fun models which I hadn't flown in some time.

One was the Multiplex ParkMaster PRO and the other was the fast and fun Ares Advantage Decathlon 350.

The PRO genuinely loves up to its name. It's a great sport plane when the throttle is opened, but as anyone who may have seen the indoor demonstration at this year's AMA Expo can attest, an accomplished 3D pilot can do amazing things indoors. Just fantastic.

The compact Decathlon is a little screamer; it's probably faster than a plane this size has a right to be. Aileron control in the unassisted mode is touchy, but will allow the Decathlon to do loops and rolls which the onboard flight aids prevent when engaged.

I upgraded both the ESC and the original battery with Deans micro connectors since the Electrifly battery I'd bought as a second battery had that greatly improved plug. Much better than the JST and noticeably more power.

Only glitch is an intermittent ESC which reared its head with brief losses of power. Oh, and I managed to catch the undercarriage in an unseen hole in the grass which tore it out as I was landing. All fixed now and I may install an 18A ESC which I have on hand for the time being.

The original review of the PRO may be found here and the Decathlon review here.
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 29, 2016 @ 11:44 PM | 3,301 Views
Well, I maidened the Skywing Laser 260 the other day on behalf of Banggood.com and RCGroups.

Had a break in the unrelenting wind and I figured it was a now-or-never situation.

Let me give away just a small part of the upcoming review to state that this model with its 38" wingspan is truly amazing. Once trimmed, I felt as if I'd been flying this little sweetie for years. Banggood did an awesome job of choosing just the right components for this airframe.

I'll also jump ahead to state that anyone looking for a compact, 3D-capable, semi-scale sport plane would do well to consider the Laser. Even with relatively inexpensive 9g digital servos, control was precise, accurate and just plain fun.

Watch this space for more!
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 25, 2016 @ 07:43 PM | 3,316 Views
When one's hobby is model aviation, wind can be a problem unless one is slope soaring.

Week upon week of windy conditions have pretty much grounded me except for some quadcopter flights in front of the house. I live in a relatively wind-free neighborhood. The club field, meh. Not so calm.

So, what will amount to my final official reviews here on RCGroups are on hold until things calm down. More on that revelation in a future blog.

I'm really looking forward to doing the maiden flight on the new 38" Skywing Laser 260 from Banggood.com, but even though it's been finished for more than a week and going on two, no chance to get it in the air.

Banggood also forwarded two very nice quads, the JYU Hornet S with FPV goggles (fun!!) and the UPair One aerial photography quad with a 4K camera, no less. The Hornet is absolutely amazing! The One is very nice as well, but my gimbal no longer wants to tilt via the transmitter. I've written UPair and I hope to hear back soon.

So, that leaves me with the nearly rebuilt HobbyKing Super-G autogyro and Hitec's new line of Propel multirotor motors with their built-in ESCs. Having issues getting the FC board to recognize the receiver, but I'll be bringing it to the hobby shop in the next day or two to get it operating.

I'll be blogging more after I'm done with these reviews, you lucky readers. See you here on the blogs.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 11, 2016 @ 06:18 PM | 4,734 Views
Two very different machines are being represented today.

Last night, I had a hankerin' to fly a quad. Naturally, it had to have lights.

One of my previous reviews has the distinction of being one of the better lit models I've reviewed, namely the JJRC X6, also known as the Tarantula X6. Kinda easy to see why in the photo.

I actually reviewed this model twice if you were to count the separate review of the JJRC hi-def FPV system. Both reviews are right here:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2440276

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2530530

The X6 was a model I was totally unprepared to like when I first got it. The controls are kind of twitchy on medium rates and really twitchy on high rates. Still, this incredibly popular model with its readily available replacement parts has a truly huge discussion thread here on RCGroups and I've linked to it in the first review.

With bright blue LEDs in the front arms and the "eyes" of the shell coupled with red LEDs out back, this logical layout makes flying the X6 a true pleasure at night. One simply has to be careful to land before the LVA kicks in and the lights start to flash.

While touchy for front yard sorties, the X6 comes alive in a wide open space. That upgraded FPV makes a huge difference over the stock camera, but naturally, I wasn't about to use the camera in the dark! Camera or not, the X6 is still a heck of a lot of fun.

Of course, nothing quite compares to a high-...Continue Reading