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Aeroworks Edge 540T .46-.61 Review

The Aeroworks Edge 540T .46-.61 is a sweet-handling midsized aerobat that is capable of anything the pilot can handle; a high quality, affordably-priced performance airframe. Jacob Probus wrings it out and reports on it.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:60"
Wing Area:693 sq. in.
Weight:6.5 lbs
Length:55"
Wing Loading:21.6 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:4 Hitec HS-5495HB (control surfaces) Futaba S3003 (throttle)
Transmitter:Futaba 6EX
Receiver:Futaba 617FS
Battery:6 volt 1500 mah generic
Engine:Novarossi REX 57 3D
Manufacturer:Aeroworks
Available From:Aeroworks

The design for the Zivko Edge 540 began life as a wing design — a full-composite replacement wing for the Laser unlimited aerobatic machines of the day that was lighter and stronger. The new wing allowed the planes to pull more Gs while dropping the plane’s wing loading and overall weight.

Soon after the wing made it onto Lasers, Bill Zivko, founder of Zivko Aviation and the mastermind behind the EDGE wing system, decided to build his own plane around the new wing. And, in the early 90s, the Edge 540 was born.

By the 2000s the 540 had come to dominate unlimited aerobatics, was the number one mount of Red Bull Air Racers, and was a highly modeled plane. Almost every major model manufacturer has sold an Edge model. The Aeroworks model being reviewed here is of the two place 540T variant.

The Aeroworks Edge is a very affordable plane, coming in under $200, but quality is outstanding. After unpacking the plane from its neatly packaged, well-protected box, the plane’s quality and lightweight design is immediately evident. You can power the plane with an affordable engine, add some 60 oz/in minimum servos, your radio gear, and have yourself a top-notch, unlimited aerobat on the cheap.

Kit Contents

Kit Includes
Wing halves w/ ailerons hinged, not glued Fuselage with canopy hatch attached Painted fiberglass cowling Vertical stab w/ rudder hinged, not glued
Horizontal stab w/ elevator hinged, not glued Painted fiberglass wheel pants 9 oz. fuel tank and required fittings White plastic spinner
Landing gear and required hardware Motor mounts Control linkage hardware w/ pull-pull for rudder Decal set

The high quality Ultracote covering job is top-notch, and the plane had very few wrinkles in it straight from the box. A few minutes with a heat gun and covering iron had the plane wrinkle free. Be careful where trim colors meet because too much heat with the gun can make the colors separate.

The slot for the vertical stabilizer was a couple of degrees off on my review kit, but it didn’t affect flight performance at all. I was afraid it would require some aileron trim but zero was required. You can’t expect perfection with any ARF. If you want perfection, build it yourself, and even then perfection isn’t really achievable.

The plane has a one-piece wing with a large, removable canopy hatch that goes on over the wing. The hatch provides outstanding interior access for installing, adjusting, and maintaining your radio gear and accessories.

Aeroworks provides a complete hardware package that is of overall high quality. The screws for the control horns were very soft and the Phillips heads stripped easily. I replaced most of them with harder stuff from my local hobby shop. The pull-pull setup included was of excellent quality and the steerable, scalelike tailwheel they provide is a thing of beauty and incredibly light.

The Edge includes beautifully finished fiberglass wheel pants and cowling. The kit includes a clear cowling so you can make your cut-outs look professional and do it quite easily.

Kit Requires
.46-.61 2-stroke / .60-.90 4-stroke Four servos with 60 oz./in. minimum torque One standard servo for throttle Transmitter and receiver
Receiver battery Y harnesses or 5 channel setup 6” extension for ailerons Fuel tubing
18” extension for elevator Switch Clear covering or tape to seal hinge lines Glues, tools, etc

Assembly and Set-up

The assembly of this plane is quick and painless if you follow the very detailed and well illustrated instruction manual. I put the plane together in a few evenings, at a relaxed pace, something I recommend to cut down on mistakes.

Wing

The build begins with hinging the ailerons and installing the aileron servos and hardware. I opted to replace the included CA hinges with nylon pinned hinges, a personal preference of mine. After getting the ailerons hinged and set up, I joined the wing halves with 30 minute epoxy. The manual provides excellent instructions for successfully putting together a perfectly straight wing.

Fuselage

After the wing you move to the empennage. You have to follow the instructions carefully for the horizontal stab and elevator. If you install them out of order you’ll end up with a very expensive, very ineffective paperweight. Once the empennage is epoxied in place and hinged you install the servos and linkages. Installing the servos and linkages as you go saves a lot of time in final assembly.

The canopy is already installed on the plane. I took it off in order to add some scale touches. I added a pilot and some instruments. The cockpit interior comes covered in a textured paper that looks very realistic and adds a nice touch. It’s that kind of attention to detail that makes the plane very impressive. I also decided to replace the kit spinner with an aluminum one. Every unlimited aerobat needs a shiny, metal spinner.

Completion

Radio installation is a breeze thanks to the well thought out positions provided for you in the radio compartment. There’s a spot for the receiver that includes rubber band hold downs and there’s plenty of room beside the throttle servo for the battery and extra servo cutouts to loop a strap through.

The CG in the manual results in a very nose-heavy plane. I talked with the company and they said they felt it was the best starting point. They recommended a maximum aft position of 3-1/2”. I have mine set at 3-3/4” and it seems perfect. The plane will tumble, but it’s very controllable across the speed envelope and not at all pitch sensitive.

The control throws in the manual are spot on. I set my radio up with the high rates and the 3D rates because I have only two rates. If you have three, then by all means set up all three recommended rates. If you’re new to high performance aerobats, you should definitely program in the recommended low rates for your first flights. My “low” rates are the manual-recommended high rates with 30-percent exponential and it’s very controllable for my flying style.

Hitec HS5495HV

The new Hitec HS-5495HV high voltage, digital servo is a mighty little powerhouse. The servo is called a “standard digital” but Hitec’s “standard” servo puts out almost 90 oz/in of torque on 6 volts and over 100 oz/in on 7.4 volts. That’s over twice the average “standard” servo. Quite impressive.

From the first moment I powered up the servos I was amazed by their speed and strength. Try stopping the servo arm on one of these bad boys. It ain’t gonna happen. Move the stick as fast as you can to one limit and the servo will get there before you do — and that’s with extreme 3D throws. Quite impressive indeed. When flying this translates into an almost telepathic feeling between man and machine.

The servos come with an excellent hardware package. You get the obligatory screws, rubber grommets, and brass sleeves. But, you also get a half-dozen or so high-quality, high-strength, big-honkin’ control horns.

These servos deliver an excellent bang for your buck. You get 90 oz/in of torque for less than $30 and there’s no need to buy additional servo hardware. Plus, they’re digital, which means they’re more precise and have more holding power. These guys are hard to beat for a project such as this.


Motor Type:3 Pole Ferrite
Bearing Type:Top Ball Bearing
Speed (6.0v/7.4v):0.17 / 0.15 second
Torque oz./in. (6.0v/7.4v):89 / 104 oz. in.
Torque oz./in. (6.0v/7.4v):6.4 / 7.5
Size in Inches:1.57 x 0.78 x 1.50 in.
Size in Millimeters:40 x 20 x 38 mm
Weight oz.:1.59 oz.
Weight g.:44.5 g.
Manufacturer:HitecRCD
Available From:HitecRCD

Flying

Basics

The Aeroworks Edge 540T is a precision machine. When powered correctly I’m sure it would make an excellent 3D machine as well, as it handles well at low speeds. It does have a tendency to snap out of loops and hard-pull maneuvers and it will drop a wing on you if speed isn’t maintained, but keep it in the pocket and the plane performs flawlessly. Overall the plane is an outstanding performer. It lands easy enough for a performance airframe, tumbles and twists like an acrobatic anomaly, and slows down real well.

The Edge flies well across the speed envelope. The controls remain responsive, smooth, and authoritative across the board. It doesn’t get twitchy at all at high speeds and flies scale, IMAC style maneuvers like they were its destiny.

The plane slows down well but like most high performance designs it will stall and snap on you, although you have to provoke it pretty hard first. It is stable and very controllable in high-alpha flight but won’t quite hang on the prop with the Novarassi REX engine. I think the plane should be flown with a .61-sized two-stroke at minimum, and the REX engine was designed to overpower a .46-sized airframe. It’s powerful for its size, and plenty to fly this plane through IMAC style maneuvers with better-than-scale power, but not quite enough for hang-on-the-prop flying.

Taking Off and Landing

Taking this Edge off is a piece of cake. Apply power slowly, kick in a bit of rudder to keep it straight, and let the plane fly off the tarmac. If you ease into the throttle gently and pull it off the deck nice and easy you’re rewarded with a beautiful scale take off. You can firewall it off the pavement in less time and space, but I prefer the former.

The plane prefers to land a bit hot, but not on the uncomfortable side. It will slow down fairly nicely but if you get it too slow it will bite you with a wing-dropping stall. Keep the speed up by keeping about a 1/4 stick of throttle and she will settle in nice and scale like on the mains. A thing of beauty.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

This plane is definitely an aerobatic machine. It will do anything the pilot is capable of. The plane flat-spins like a kid's toy top. It handles high-alpha with ease - it will give you some wing rock but if you stay on the rudder you can keep it under control.

I wasn't able to test the plane's all out 3D performance because I just didn't have quite enough power on tap. Judging from it's high alpha flight characteristics, though, I'd venture to guess that it would rock out in full on 3D mode.

On the scale flight routines and IMAC front, the plane is a precision machine. It starts rolling the instant you bang the stick and it stops before you can even think about it. It's like the plane it a few steps ahead of you, but in a good way. It holds a vertical line well and will hammerhead like you're watching a text book demonstration. The plane would make a great IMAC practice rig when you don't want or don't have the time to haul your big bird out to the field. It would also make a great first IMAC mount for someone who doesn't have a lot of dough to invest.

Is This For a Beginner?

This plane is definitely not for the beginner. That being said, if you keep the control throws mild on low rates and have some low wing stick time you should be able to handle this bird. It does like to land a bit on the hot side, which the relatively new pilot might find intimidating. It will drop a wing and stall out of a high speed, high-g turn. The plane has a fairly high wing loading, which means you can't stall it onto the ground like a trainer and you have to stay on your toes, but it's certainly manageable and I never found the plane uncomfortable.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

movie  31.00 MB

Conclusion

The Aeroworks Edge 540T is a sweet-handling, affordably-priced midsize aerobat. It handles like a bigger bird and is capable of anything the pilot can ask of it. It's well-built, well-designed, and I'm certainly excited to have one in my hanger. If you're planning to get one for yourself, I'd say a .60-sized two stroke it the baseline and for all-out 3D performance a .90-sized four stroke would be the ticket. Don't skimp on the servos, because you'll need to grunt for all that neck-breaking, g-comma-inducing action. Two thumbs up.

Pluses
Quality, lightweight build and components Solid handling and performance Nice covering job Easy assembly with many steps completed for you
Unlimited aerobatic potential Clear cowl makes fitting quick and painless Large canopy hatch provides great access to interior components
Minuses
Will fly with a .46 but with limited power and vertical performance Vertical stab cutout off slightly Would prefer servo on each elevator half

Author's update: Hey guys. I wanted to post a little update here. I've swapped powerplants and mounted up an O.S. .91 Surpass with a 16x4W APC 3D prop. I moved the CG back to 3.5" by mounting the battery in the forward most cross member under the turtledeck.

This is a completely different airplane now. Very solid IMAC performance, hangs on the prop effortlessly. Tumbles like a 5 year old gymnast. This thing flies as crisp as IHOP bacon and sizzles on the uplines. Tumbles and snaps stop the instant you center the sticks. Unlimited vertical...Knife edge circles...600 foot knife edge ovals with one side right down the runway and right on the deck. Somebody pinch me. This is the best flying small aerobatic airframe I've flown hands down. It just needed more power and the Surpass delivers.

As light as this bird is - still around 6.5 pounds with the stump puller - it's incredibly strong. I've pushed the G-force limits a couple times to see if anything would snap and I'm not sure you could break this bird. I also had several deadsticks with the previous motor and one found me a long ways out and down fairly low. I had to put it down several hundred feet from me and I ended up flaring to early, dropping a wing a few feet off the deck, and cartwheeling. It only popped the gear out and broke the balance tab on one elevator, both easy fixes. There was no other damage. I assumed from the looks of it I would be picking up pieces when I got the club ambulance - a golf cart complete with flashing light, siren, and first aid markings - down to the crash site.

I love this bird more and more each time I spend some time with it. I'd highly recommend one, but set it up with a .91 four stroke and some torquey digital servos. It makes all the difference.

Last edited by Angela H; Oct 10, 2011 at 10:21 AM..

Discussion

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Old Jun 20, 2011, 01:50 PM
I think I forgot how to fly RC
cryhavoc38's Avatar
United States, WA, Woodinville
Joined Mar 2007
8,061 Posts
Nice plane

what was your final All Up weight?
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Old Jun 20, 2011, 02:53 PM
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RCMikeofIndiana's Avatar
United States, IN, Griffith
Joined Sep 2010
80 Posts
Very cool review. Starting my build in a few weeks. Only difference is I am putting a Saito 91 in mine.
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Old Jun 20, 2011, 04:41 PM
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Cabledawg1's Avatar
USA, VA, Newport News
Joined Jan 2010
1,517 Posts
An airfoiled tail on a plane this size would seem standard. But I do understand that with the price point where it is, then getting the airfoil, CF wing tube, CF LG is out.
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Old Jun 20, 2011, 08:48 PM
Registered User
United States, FL, Brandon
Joined May 2011
82 Posts
Fire the cameraman ..


don't fly so far away at least do some flying so people can see coupling snap tenancies and high alfa ? rudder authority ??

sorry for the negativity but it is what it is ..

also talk about cg and P mix percentages
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Old Jun 20, 2011, 09:44 PM
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mike early's Avatar
USA, KY, Ashland
Joined Oct 2007
3,340 Posts
I wonder what a Saito .72 would do....

How does the landing gear hold up?

My other choices beside this plane are the GP Extra 300 SP GP/EP and the GP Matt Chapman. Not too many posts on any of these planes. The GP planes have Air Foiled tails but the landing gear seems weak on both.
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Old Jun 21, 2011, 02:16 AM
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SpartanExec's Avatar
United States, OR, Happy Valley
Joined Nov 2010
556 Posts
If you have any doubts, get an Extreme Flight Edge 540T EXP 60". Airfoiled tail surfaces with geodetic design, carbon fiber lander gear with bullet proof mount. awesome hardware package, and it won't snap out of a loop or get funky on you. Low wing loading, just floats but will also fly precision very well. Just my $0.02
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Old Jun 21, 2011, 04:30 AM
Registered User
United States, MO, Springfield
Joined Jul 2010
3,496 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike early View Post
I wonder what a Saito .72 would do....

How does the landing gear hold up?

My other choices beside this plane are the GP Extra 300 SP GP/EP and the GP Matt Chapman. Not too many posts on any of these planes. The GP planes have Air Foiled tails but the landing gear seems weak on both.
more like a Saito 1.00
that would rock this thing my Seagull .60 Edge with a 1.00 is great this is much lighter then my Edge
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Old Jun 21, 2011, 01:21 PM
Registered User
United States, AZ, Casa Grande
Joined Oct 2008
4 Posts
Great review

Thanks for this great review. I have this aircraft on the way from Aeroworks, so this was a very timely review. I plan on using a Saito 91 for power, since I have a couple of these laying around. I currently have the Aeroworks 50cc Ultimate, and I have been looking for a good smaller aerobatic substitute for those days when I just want to practice without taking and assembling such a large aircraft. I do have one question...what size and brand of spinner did you use?
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Old Jun 21, 2011, 01:30 PM
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United States, MO, Springfield
Joined Jul 2010
3,496 Posts
i have a 3" Tru-turn on my Edge a 2"3/4 should work on that one
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Old Jun 21, 2011, 03:23 PM
Registered User
Northwest Indiana
Joined Feb 2011
1,461 Posts
I have a 60/90 Aeroworks Extra 300 with a Saito 100 and it is a fantastic plane. VERY well put together and flies wondefully!
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Old Jun 21, 2011, 05:26 PM
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WindGap's Avatar
Joined Sep 2010
200 Posts
This is one of the "great values" out there. It's not a QB, but is a quality product, by only putting forth a little more work. Not much is compromised on this plane and not much different in the final product that the QB series of similar size too. The Extra 260 or Extra 300 is much more $$, and I doubt they're that much more airplane for the money. I've got the extra 260, and I'm glad they have this model available for the budget conscience hobbier.

There's a few gassers in the Extra 260 and 300, but I'd like to see one in this baby. Thanks for the review.
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Old Jun 25, 2011, 03:58 PM
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CubLover82's Avatar
USA, AL, Huntsville
Joined Sep 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Futile flight View Post
Fire the cameraman ..


don't fly so far away at least do some flying so people can see coupling snap tenancies and high alfa ? rudder authority ??

sorry for the negativity but it is what it is ..

also talk about cg and P mix percentages

I wasn't flying far away at all, the cameraman just wasn't exactly top notch, though I certainly appreciate his effort. I did discuss CG -- in depth, actually. Sorry, but I don't use any mixes...I prefer to fly stick and rudder (or stick and stick, I suppose) style. I appreciate your criticism...keep it coming.
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Old Jun 25, 2011, 04:01 PM
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CubLover82's Avatar
USA, AL, Huntsville
Joined Sep 2010
17 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobocat View Post
Thanks for this great review. I have this aircraft on the way from Aeroworks, so this was a very timely review. I plan on using a Saito 91 for power, since I have a couple of these laying around. I currently have the Aeroworks 50cc Ultimate, and I have been looking for a good smaller aerobatic substitute for those days when I just want to practice without taking and assembling such a large aircraft. I do have one question...what size and brand of spinner did you use?
It's a 2-1/2" metal spinner I got at a swap meet. I have no idea what brand it is. 2-3/4" is too big, looks funny because it sticks out past the cowl.
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Old Jun 25, 2011, 04:02 PM
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USA, AL, Huntsville
Joined Sep 2010
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Thanks...

Thanks for all the comments guys, keep them coming. I don't mind a little criticism, either. Let me have it...
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