FinwingHobby Universeye Penguin Review/Build/Discussion Thread - ReadyMadeRC.com
FinWing Universeye_Penuins (Penguin) Part 1 - Review
I have been given the opportunity to test some of the first of these purpose built FPV planes, soon to be available from ReadyMadeRC.com. What sets this model apart from the others is the intention for FPV right out of the box. It includes a large transparent canopy, huge equipment bay, and a place for a second aerial photography camera right from the start. The same cannot be said for several other designs that are crossed over to FPV from other forms of the hobby. In this review, I am testing the more powerful version of the Penuins fitted with the 60amp esc and 2815 1280kv motor and 3 blade GWS 9050 prop. The alternate version includes a 40A esc and 2200 1350kv motor with the same prop. For the remainder of the review, I will refer to the “Penuins” as the “Penguin”.
Wing Area: 36dm/3.9ft2
Motor: M2200 1350kv or M2815 1280kv
ESC: 40A forM2200 or 60A for M2815
Servos: 17g (x3) and 9g (for rudder)
Battery: 3s 2400mH for M2200 or 3S 5000mah for M2815
Weight: .98kg/53.0oz (not including battery or FPV gear)
Static Thrust: M2200 1.5kg/53.0oz or M2815 1.95kg/69oz
Payload: 500-900g/17.7 to 31.8oz (gear besides esc/rx)
Material: EPO Wing and fuselage/ wooden rib reinforcement/ aluminum alloy pipe with carbon joiner
First Impressions and Un-boxing
I can’t say enough about how nicely packaged this bird comes! The first thing you see, after pulling the top layer of cardboard off, is the oversized canopy sticking out through the foam. The canopy is what first got me excited while looking at pictures before it arrived. Typically, cameras are not aerodynamic in nature (think GoPro) but Penguin has a simple solution: put a cover over it!
While fitting everything together for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by the precision of all of the pieces involved. The servos fit nice and snug into all of their bays and are deep enough to allow double sided tape while still sitting flush with the surface. I am happy to see that this plane is coming stock with quality 17g servos (9g in rudder).With so many models coming stock with 9g servos everywhere, regardless of their capabilities, the Penguin is a breath of fresh air.
Notice above that all control surfaces are not just drilled through to fit the control horns. Each one has its own molded indention and is double sided with wood ply. While holding a wing up to a bright light, you can see that the wing actually has hollow cores in the center; unfortunately, I was not able to get a good picture of this.
The Penguin has a unique, but very useful, landing gear/wheel system. Two large wheels fit into the front of the fuselage (supported nicely with thick wood ply) and one smaller wheel fits in the rear. The front two surprisingly do a decent job of keeping the wings level on rollout from pavement and help it stay on top of the grass rather than sink in. If you do end up flying this from grass, I recommend using some packing tape in layers to help protect the foam from stains and dents. The wings have a “bump” on each side to help protect the wing from pavement rash. I would suggest taping over these as well or add a small plastic wing skid, offered in most hobby shops.
Also notice the downward facing camera bay in the picture. I can confirm that there is enough room in the back to fit a GoPro, but it will be difficult to operate the buttons without an optional remote.
Vacant component space is not a term that is often heard of in the FPV world, but the Penguin definitely has it. It was mentioned that you could probably fit a small shelving unit behind the battery! All joking aside, you should have plenty of room for everything you might be flying with. I had no trouble with a 4400 3s lipo, Dragon Link Rx, Eagle Tree, Vtx and battery, and of course, the ESC. I plan on trying 2 4400's wired in parallel soon.
The FinWing crew really thought the equipment bay through and included Velcro already attached and stapled to wood ply on each side of the fuselage, including the floor panel.
My 36” Dragon Link antenna fits through the tail nicely and follows the rudder servo wire. If you plan on doing the same, I would suggest placing the wire before gluing the two halves together, although it is possible to fish it through afterwards with effort.
Maiden Flight and Onward
I would speak more about the maiden, but it was boring and uneventful. One or two clicks of trim and it was perfect. EPA’s were all set at 100% with no Expo, and after moving the CG back to the factory settings of 3.3in back from the leading edge, I was ready for the first FPV flight, which will be listed at the bottom of the review. I have experimented a bit with some different props and have found that I like a 9x7 2-blade, which has a similar shape and strength to APC style props. This had the Penguin pulling 32 amps at full throttle, according to my Eagle Tree system. While the stock 3 blade prop worked well, I found that I liked the quieter sound and increased strength of the 9x7 a little more. As you can see in the subsequent flights in my video, the Penguin can actually handle light aerobatics as opposed to what the manual states. When flying line of site, the wing seems rock solid and only showed flexing when having some speed pulling back hard. This is shown in the 3rd FPV video. It is a very easy and predictable plane to take off and land; although I have not tried hand launching yet, as it was simply not necessary.
Update - I have been flying the Penguin a lot more and tried a few hand launches. It was very easy to give 50-75% throttle and have it jump right into the air with a good toss.
What I Like
I still can’t get over the wonderful flight characteristics. I can do just about anything I want, including loops, rolls, inverted flight, tight turns, and yet it is still stable enough to be a trainer, in my opinion. I must admit that I expected to add further wing support with more spars, but the stock setup is more than adequate, and I have tested it with fairly high G maneuvers. The landing gear is another pleasant surprise. It is able to take off from relatively thick grass and, of course, black top, while not sacrificing much in the aero department. At the time of this review, I have not installed a pan/tilt module, but I think this will make the use of a canopy much more profound than in my videos. Although I feel that the AP camera bay is a bit of a novelty for my use, I am sure that some of you reading this will love this feature. The tail boom is also very strong when compared to other models in the Penguin’s class.
I would like to see some kind of spar in the horizontal stabilizer to help stop the flex, although I am yet to notice it in the air. As seen in the video, the canopy does have some distortion towards the bottom front and a little along the bottom sides. I am hoping that this can be perfected in later production runs; however, my model’s is more than usable. The one big problem I see with the current configuration is airflow. The designers tried to make this happen with a cutout in the nose and some smaller exits near the motor, but I believe more work is needed after finding my equipment very hot after only cruising at 12-20 amps.
I truly believe that FinWing has hit a home run with the Penguin. They have designed an extremely stable FPV purpose built airframe that is still fun to fly. I am hoping that other companies are paying attention and try to follow suit. With kits and parts available exclusively from ReadyMadeRC.com, the Penguin should prove to be a staple in the FPV world.
Part 2 - Videos
Line of sight demonstration:
Added Pan/Tilt and wing view of loop to see flex:
Videos from CaliDave:
Part 3 - Build log
Since I feel that the manual does a good job of showing assembly, I will skip the full on narrative and simply list my suggestions and pictures. I had the airframe of the second model in about two hours and the first one would have been close to this if not for simple errors on my part.
First of all, make sure that you do not use the elevator servo in the one of the wings. This is identified by the extra-long wire. I found this out the hard way and spent an extra half hour tying to fight back through the wing without pulling the connection apart, having it then come apart, and fishing everything back through. Use good packing tape to secure these connections as well.
If you are not sure how the control horns fit together, FinWing has already assembled one for you in the package as an example.
Center the servos, install the horns, and place double sided tape on the bottom. Follow this with a good length of high strength packing tape to secure in place. Also be sure to tape your servo connections together before pulling it though the wing, mentioned previously.
Take your time and test fit the fuselage one more time before gluing. Along with what is mentioned in the manual, make sure to use plenty of glue on the ply wood/Velcro floor board, motor mount, and around the ply wood landing gear blocks. You may need to add a few clamps to make sure that the tail section stays snug while drying. I used the factory glue and it has held nicely so far.
Getting the motor wires together in order for the correct motor rotation can prove difficult due to the short length of these wires. Pull them all through the long cooling slot in the motor pod and test before pulling them back down into the fuselage.
FinWing made a nice indention for the elevator servo which needs to be cut out. Try to cut it at an angle to avoid having the panel push back into the fuselage later on.
Here is a shot of how the wings join up:
As you can see, this is a very easy build. Mount up your FPV gear, set your CG, and you are ready to fly!
Prices listed here:
(12/13/12) - Compatable servo list for the Penguin (Let me know if you have more to add here)
Hitec HS-81 - perfect fit for aileron and elevator.
Hitec HS-85MG and HS-65MG (rudder) servos, they drop right in.
The JR MC35 Sport 17g servos drop right in the wings/elevator location
Comparison to the Skywalker by CaliDave - 8/22/12
Some nice pics from Calidave:
Been looking forward to this one, thanks for the review :)
Nice!! Thanks for posting this! Any words for price range and availability? I'm in the need of a new rig right NOW lol and would much appriciate to get any info ;)
Are you telling me that I have to retire my Skywalker? :)
If the price is right, then I might be getting one of these!
I have been told that it will be about 2 months for the first huge shipment to arrive. I have not been informed of a price, however.
surprised to see that you make the Penguin running and take off directly from the grass land, I watched almost all finwing the guys' testing video, they even did not running take off from the grass land.
seems that you flown it with a Gopro inside the transparence canopy, right?
Yes, I do like how it can take off from the grass. It does sometimes catch too much and you need to abort, but that's not very often. Hand launching is shown in the third video.
In the first two videos I am flying with the stationary GoPro and its angled down a bit too far imo. In the third video I have a RMRC 480 ccd with pan/tilt.
Crap 2 months is too far for me... need a new rig like now lol
did you balance the prop, as i noticed the 1st vid had some jello wobble on the screen, but the rest of them were really clear, but other than that it looks an awesome rig for FPV, will be tracking this post and waiting to see how competitive price will be
Very nice! I've been waiting for this platform. Looks like fun.
Just read this"formation flight" supposed that i have to buy one and persuade my friends also to buy one penguin to fly! LoL
Because only this one has a big big canopy,
Mc Cleary: I think you are capable to try this ,it would a big step forward in FPV world
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