HobbyKing.com New Products Flash Sale

E-flite's Apprentice 15e RTF with Spektrum DX5e 2.4 GHz Radio Review

Trainers are one of the basics of this hobby, and designers keep pressing forward with a tenacious desire to improve the trainer. E-flite’s new Apprentice 15e is the great result of those efforts!

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:58" / 1475mm
Wing Area:525 sq. in.
Weight w/o Battery:32 – 35 oz. /910 – 1000g
Weight w/ Battery:40 – 45 oz. /1135 – 1275g
Length:37" / 940 mm
Wing Loading:12.33 oz/sq. ft.
Aileron Servo:12g (EFLR7130)
Elevator Servo:13g (EFLR7140)
Rudder Servo:37g (EFLR7150)
Transmitter:DX5e 2.4 DSM2 Spektrum (SPM5500)
Receiver:Spektrum AR500 DSM2 (SPMAR500)
Battery:3200 mAh 3S 11.1v 15C (EFLB1040)
Motor:BL15 Outrunner 840kV (EFLM7215)
ESC:30 amp Pro Switch-mode BEC (EFLA1030)
Charger:3 Amp 12V Balancing LiPo (EFLC3010)
Aircraft Manufacturer:E-flite
Radio Manufacturer:Spektrum
Available From:Horizon Hobby
MSRP:$299.99

The E-flite Apprentice 15e was designed for the beginning pilot or a more experienced pilot who would like a fun, easy flyer. The Apprentice has a flat bottom wing, but also incorporates pseudo NACA droops to the outer half of the wing that are 10 mm wider than the center portion of the wing and increase lift at the wing tips. This design decreases the chances of a tip stall on landing and improves turning stability, and my flight experience with the Apprentice has shown me this design works extremely well. This is as stable a trainer as I have ever flown.

This is a Buy-to-Fly, well built, Z-foam trainer designed as a true RTF. It has some really great features like the new full-range Spektrum DSM2 2.4 GHz transmitter and AR500 receiver.

Kit Contents

Horizon Hobby shipped the E-flite Apprentice in a double cardboard container that protected everything perfectly. The prop, spinner, and electronics are all installed and tucked securely into the molded foam packaging. A 2.4 GHz radio is there, and even the batteries are provided.

Kit Includes:

  • Fully decaled wing set, fuselage and tail
  • Pushrods
  • Landing gear and steerable nose gear
  • Spinner
  • Motor mount
  • 5 mm prop adapter
  • 30 amp brushless ESC
  • 320 mAh 3s 11.1v LiPo
  • 3-amp balancing charger
  • BL14 840 kV outrunner
  • 11 x 8 Prop
  • servos
  • DX5e Transmitter with batteries pre-bound to the AR500
  • AR500 receiver

Kit Requires:

  • A 12 volt power source for charging your battery
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Ruler

Available Kit Options:

  • Power meter (EFLA110)
  • Celectra 1-3 cell LiPo Charger (EFLC3005)
  • Intelligent 1-5 cell balancing charger (EFLC505)
  • Extra battery
  • Extra prop 11 x 8 (EFLP11080E)
  • Trainer cord (SPM6805)
  • 12 volt 10-amp power supply (DYN4055)

Assembly

No building is required other than inserting two screws for the entire tail section and joining the wing. Assembly is very basic requiring no glue and no building experience. The motor, receiver, ESC, servos and linkages are installed, setup and ready to go, so you better get your included 3200 mAh LiPo battery charging on E-flite’s 3 amp balancing charger because in about an hour it’s time to fly!

The instructions are well laid out. Each section has text, photos and check boxes so you can be certain to complete each task in order.

E-flite 3 Amp Charger

The E-flite 3 amp charger requires a 12-volt power source. At the field you can use a car battery with clamps provided or your power supply. This charger charges through the balance tap, and with this, both the balancing discharge and charge are alternate through the balance tap, and you do not hook up the power tap to the charger. The charger is capable of charging 2 and 3-cell packs and has an adjustable potentiometer from 0.5 amps to 3.0 amps.

When I powered up the charger, after a few seconds I heard a beep and saw the green LED light. Because the Apprentice includes a 3200 mAh battery, I set the charge to 3 amps (1C x mAh). I plugged in the battery, and the red light illuminated along with an audible three-beep alarm: three beeps for three cells and two beeps for a two-cell pack. I pressed the Start button and again heard the 3 beeps.

During the charge process (which should take about one hour for your 3200 mAh the pack) balancing occurs as it charges. When the charge was in process, I noticed from time to time that the green and red light flashed alternately to indicate that the pack is balancing. The charger does not trickle a charge into the pack, and E-flite recommends you remove the battery when the charge complete audible three second beep sounds.

Tail

What little building there is begins with the tail. I placed the horizontal stabilizer onto the fuselage and then installed the vertical stabilizer down through the mounting holes in the horizontal stabilizer. It takes a little pressure to seat the vertical stabilizer into the receivers. There are two screws provided to secure the tail section. I connected both linkages to the outermost holes for first flights. There are silicone retainers that need to be slide over each clevis to secure the linkage.

Fuselage

I started with the nose wheel, loosening the retainer screw in the steerable nose wheel motor mount assembly. The nose wheel has a flat spot to align with the retainer screw. I slipped the nose wheel in and tightened the screw. I installed the main gear to complete.

Brushless Motor

The Apprentice includes a brushless 840 kV motor. The hub uses a single Allen set screw. The spinner snaps onto the prop hub. A rigid plastic motor mount provides a slight down and right thrust.

Wing

The wing is two-piece and uses a carbon spar but no other alignment tabs. E-flite has designed the wing to use front and rear joiners/covers that hold the wing together and protect the leading and trailing edges at the wing center portion from distorting because of the rubber bands.

I trial fit and installed the forward and aft wing covers, making sure the wing was drawn together tightly before removing the backing tape under the covers. I removed the tape and slipped the cover on by tipping it upward to keep the tape from touching the wing. You can flex the cover somewhat. When in place, I pressed it onto the wing.

Prior to attaching the wing, I installed the “Y” harness and inserted the plug into the aileron port of the AR500 receiver. I placed the wing on the fuselage, and then using all eight rubber bands, secured the wing. Hold off until you check the radio setup to install the wing with the rubber bands.

Completion

I inserted the fully charged battery into the provided hatch and secured it with the provided hook and loop straps. I installed the wings, did a range check and went flying!

The Spektrum DX5e

The AR500 receiver comes installed and bound to the DX5e, but it is a good idea to make sure that the components are in their respective ports and that each operates in the right direction for flight. I plugged in the wing, but set it lightly on the fuselage until I was sure that the ailerons were moving in the right direction.

The DX5e operates on 4.8 volts which is similar to other Spektrum transmitters. Spektrum's operating system is efficient and has 24 hours of flight time. The included alkaline batteries held their charge through maybe three trips to the flying field. By the fourth trip, I noticed the second transmitter LED lighting indicating I had used up some of my battery capacity. I have flown maybe ten more flights on that indicator, and nothing has changed. I believe E-flite is on target with their 24 hour time frame. The DX5e also includes a charging jack for the use of NiMH batteries. The jack is center-pin negative, and you must use a 4.8 volt charger that is available from E-flite (SPM9526).

One of the great features of coupling the DX5e with the Apprentice as a trainer system is Spektrum's trainer functionality with JR and other Spektrum transmitters, operating as either the master or slave through a trainer cord (SPM6805) helping others learn to fly or accessing help at your local flying field is easily accomplished.

Spektrum Binding

The Apprentice's AR500 comes bound to the DX5e from the factory. If for some reason you have to re-bind (for example, setting your fail-safe option), here is a quick discussion.

Insert the bind plug (provided and labeled) into the BATT/BIND port and power the receiver using the 3200 mAh battery power plug in the battery through the hatch in the bottom of the plane. The LED on the receiver will begin flashing. Now set the transmitter sticks to the correct fail-safe locations (neutral and low throttle), and while holding the trainer switch on the top left of the transmitter, turn on the transmitter. The transmitter LED’s will flash, and then the receiver LED will hold solid. Release the trainer switch and remove the bind plug, and the connection will be complete. AFTER PROGRAMMING, BE SURE TO RE-BIND THE SYSTEM SO YOUR FAIL-SAFE SETTINGS ARE CORRECT. The DX5e does not have bind memory, so each different plane you fly will require rebinding.

Fail-safe

The Apprentice has many wonderful features not typical of trainers, one of which is fail-safe.

Fail-safe features:

  • Prevents unintentional electric motor response on startup
  • Eliminates the possibility of overdriving servos on startup
  • Establishes low-throttle fail-safe if RF signal is lost
  • The AR500 removes servo output pulses to all channels except the throttle during fail-safe
  • The AR500 throttle fail-safe position is stored via the throttle position on the transmitter
  • If you turn on the RX first accidentally fail-safe will prevent the throttle from advancing

Spektrum DX5e Features

DX5e Features:

  • 4.8 battery operation for up to 24 hours of flight time
  • Charging port provided for NiMH or NiCd batteries (Requires charger)
  • 4.7 volt alarm
  • Digital trims
  • Trainer cord functionality
  • 5 channel servo reversing
  • Dual aileron servos functionality
  • Delta wing programming
  • Hi/Lo dual rates (Preset at 50%)
  • Available in Mode 1 or Mode 2
  • Channel 5 switch for retracts
  • Usable with AR6000, AR6100E, AR6100, AR6300 Park Flyer Models
  • Usable with AR6200, AR7000, AR9100, AR9000, JR921, JR922 Full Range DSM2 Models
  • Built-in range checking feature

Range Checking the Spektrum DX5e

The DX5e makes range checking so simple that it should be come a habit whenever you fly.

I turned on my transmitter and then the receiver. I secured the plane to the ground, and walked about 90 feet away from the model. Facing the model, I pulled and held the trainer switch and then toggled the Hi/Lo rate switch four times. The transmitter LED’s flashed and an alarm sounded indicating the range check was programmed. You should have total control of your model. All control surfaces should move with your control inputs. To return to normal operation, I turned off the transmitter and then turned it back on. When off, you will notice the fail-safe returning the control surfaces to their fail-safe positions.

Spektrum has a great video of the DX5e features.

Flying

At their most basic, trainers should have a low wing loading factor (Apprentice: 12.33 oz./sq.ft.), be durable and easy to setup, have good ground tracking, gentle stalls and sturdy landing gear. The Apprentice 15e RTF meets these requirements.

In all of my numerous flights, I have been thoroughly impressed with the Apprentice’s handling, gentle flight characteristics, in-flight control, landing character and power. Folks, this is one heck of a trainer and one I know you will love flying as much I do.

Basics

In flight, the Apprentice 15e RTF is stable. The well-engineered wings keep the plane level in turns and provides more than enough lift to fly the Apprentice at about 25% throttle. The .15 size plane is big enough to easily see, and the decals enhance the plane’s appearance. Flight times are enormous since most flying is at about a quarter throttle; You might get as much as 15 minutes on the 3200 mAh pack.

Taking Off and Landing

Trainers must handle well on the ground. They must have a stable wide stance and tolerate some rough landings. The Apprentice is easy to turn and does so in a tight space. Turns on the ground are better to the right than the left. Throttle response is quick enough to force tighter turns when taxiing. The takeoff roll requires some rudder input, but the prop torque from the 11 x 8 prop coupled to the brushless motor is easy to control. Take off roll at full throttle is maybe 30 feet, but if you are into a more realistic takeoff roll, be easy on the throttle, and you will get a gentle lift off in a few more feet. Throughout the takeoff sequence the big Apprentice is as a trainer should be – under your control.

Landings are just plain fun. I found that in calm conditions I could chop the throttle on the downwind leg, turn to base, then final and still need to bleed off lift - not speed mind you, but lift - a characteristic of the well-designed wing and the low wing loading. On final approach I learned to mix just a little throttle with elevator. Too much speed gave too much lift, and the landings would join with ground effect making the Apprentice bounce. Keep practicing, and the Apprentice will reward you with greased landings that track straight ahead once on the ground.

The Apprentice puts you in control with no tip stalls, a low stall speed and stability you appreciate. The DX5e is coupled with the Apprentice with perfect input proportionality and control. I know it has helped my landings!

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The DX5e has a dual rate switch. I found loops and rolls could be done in either mode, but rolls are big, and for a new pilot not knowing to input down elevator while inverted, things might get things out of control. The high rate is faster and more controllable. Loops can be big and gentle. Inverted flight was excellent. Once trimmed, you can fly inverted all day.

Keep in mind as your training advances you can increase the control surface movement by moving the clevises to the inner holes. That makes this plane even more adaptable to your improving flight skills.

Is This For a Beginner?

Hands down this is a beginners “Buy to Fly” plane. You will love every aspect of the Apprentice 15e RTF, and I assure you that your entrance to the world of .15 size trainers will just be the start of a long relationship with E-flite and Horizon.

The Apprentice is well designed, and I only wish I could have been at the brainstorming session as the plane was coming to life; I would bet the discussion included the importance of control, stability, durability, power, performance, aerobatics and the coupling of the DX5e - not an afterthought, but as an integral piece to provide users with a great trainer.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

At $299.99 this is an investment that you can amortize for a long time because the Apprentice will keep you interested for that long. This plane is more than just a starting point, it is a transition plane as well. It incorporates good design, quality components, a well-written instruction manual, the newest in technology and absolutely excellent flight characteristics. What are you waiting for, get an Apprentice 15e with the new Spektrum DX5e and go have some flying fun!

Ups:

  • Excellent technology
  • Excellent flight characteristics
  • Durability with Z-foam
  • Manufacturer support

Downs:

  • None
Last edited by Angela H; Oct 13, 2008 at 03:02 PM..

Discussion

Reply
Thread Tools
Old Oct 09, 2008, 06:59 AM
Your attitude is your alt
Gary Morris's Avatar
Nashville Metro, Tennesse, United States
Joined Aug 2001
2,644 Posts
Nice review, Horizon is putting out some real quality aircraft and great "Bang for the bucks" value. When you consider your getting a brushless system complete with a Lipo battery, Spektrum receiver and transmitter you can't go wrong. I see Horizon leading the pack in putting out quality great flying kits for all experience levels. Way to go Horizon!

Gary Morris
Gary Morris is offline Find More Posts by Gary Morris
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 07:17 AM
Account closed
Joined Oct 2002
35,016 Posts
Another Winner!

This is another winner for not only beginners with instructor guidance but, experience RC Flyers as well.

Super review!
guapoman2000 is offline Find More Posts by guapoman2000
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 08:56 AM
Registered User
mj147's Avatar
MS
Joined Jul 2005
245 Posts
Thanks for the review, I have been "eye balling" the Apprentice as Im making a return to fixed wing.

Great vid.



mj147
mj147 is offline Find More Posts by mj147
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 09:33 AM
Flying Electric!
ASAMech's Avatar
United States, MI, Westland
Joined Jul 2006
1,485 Posts
Looks like a fun plane. Is the RX compatible with a DX6I?
ASAMech is offline Find More Posts by ASAMech
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 10:03 AM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,411 Posts
They say the receiver is compatable with the Spektrum 6 & 7 but I haven't tested that to prove it out. Also those receivers are compatable with this new DX5e. I review it also in my Corsair review that is in the Edit Queue. Mike Heer
Michael Heer is offline Find More Posts by Michael Heer
RCG Plus Member
Old Oct 09, 2008, 11:57 AM
Registered User
Joined Sep 2004
762 Posts
Great Trainer

This is a pleasurable, simple, easy plane to fly. Even for experienced pilots it's a nice way to relax. I got a chance to maiden flight one for a guy who showed up at our normal flying field. I bounced it a little on landing because I haven't flown a trike in ages.

With a buddy box or simulator time I'm confident almost anyone could handle it. If you switch into high rates it becomes basically a straight tracking sport model.

E-Flite Apprentice 15 (2 min 33 sec)
ssgtakeo is offline Find More Posts by ssgtakeo
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 12:27 PM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
Yes it will bounce, but that is one of the things I really like about the Apprentice. I loved shooting landings until I got them perfect. Just a great plane to learn on and to get better at flying with.
78dave is offline Find More Posts by 78dave
RCG Plus Member
Last edited by 78dave; Oct 09, 2008 at 01:19 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 12:40 PM
Registered User
Joined Sep 2004
762 Posts
Yeah, we might take these and our T-28's and set up a "carrier deck" to shoot approaches with.
ssgtakeo is offline Find More Posts by ssgtakeo
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 12:43 PM
E-flyer since 1981
Michael in Toronto's Avatar
Joined Oct 2000
1,491 Posts
The E-Flite Apprentice is our club's Chief Flight Instructor's main trainer, and our most highly recommended trainer for new pilots.

www.temac.ca
Michael in Toronto is online now Find More Posts by Michael in Toronto
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 02:05 PM
Got shenpa?
flieslikeabeagle's Avatar
Los Angeles
Joined May 2004
10,940 Posts
Nice review! Is the $299.99 still current, or has the model been hit with the same huge price increases as many other Horizon products? (Not that it's confined to Horizon, things aren't very different with Tower or Global or any other major vendor, and the weak dollar and high transportation costs are to blame.)

Just a comment about the NACA droops at the wing tips. I'm not an expert in aerodynamics by a long shot, but my understanding is that rather than make more lift at the tips, the NACA droops lower the effective angle of attack of the wing tips. This delays the stall - the wing tips won't stall until the model is pitched up to a much higher angle. By this point the other (inboard) parts of the wing will have stalled already, so the NACA droops ensure the wing tips will stall last, so the model remains easy to control through the stall.

-Flieslikeabeagle
flieslikeabeagle is offline Find More Posts by flieslikeabeagle
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 02:10 PM
Illinois
Joined Jan 2005
1,720 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by flieslikeabeagle
Nice review! Is the $299.99 still current, or has the model been hit with the same huge price increases as many other Horizon products? (Not that it's confined to Horizon, things aren't very different with Tower or Global or any other major vendor, and the weak dollar and high transportation costs are to blame.)

Just a comment about the NACA droops at the wing tips. I'm not an expert in aerodynamics by a long shot, but my understanding is that rather than make more lift at the tips, the NACA droops lower the effective angle of attack of the wing tips. This delays the stall - the wing tips won't stall until the model is pitched up to a much higher angle. By this point the other (inboard) parts of the wing will have stalled already, so the NACA droops ensure the wing tips will stall last, so the model remains easy to control through the stall.

-Flieslikeabeagle
http://www.horizonhobby.com/Products...ProdID=EFL2725

Price is presently still $299.... It is quite a good deal IMHO.

Nice Review!

We are very pleased with how the Apprentice presents and flies. The goals were pretty much as you say. We were also trying to give very close to a 40 size trainer experience (with good technology and run times), with 15 size economics. I feel we were pretty successful.

Have Fun,
David
dribbe is offline Find More Posts by dribbe
Site Sponsor
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 02:17 PM
Got shenpa?
flieslikeabeagle's Avatar
Los Angeles
Joined May 2004
10,940 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssgtakeo
I bounced it a little on landing because I haven't flown a trike in ages.
I've found that Dave Brown Lite Flite wheels are very good at reducing bounce - the tyres are made of some sort of energy-absorbing foam that soaks up the energy from the impact of the wheels with the ground. On the minus side, the tires will flat-spot if you let the model sit on them for long - but boy, they make your landings look good!

They come in several sizes from many vendors, here's one I found through a quick Google search: http://hobbyshack.com/Dave-Brown-312...B0006O4DZS.htm

-Flieslikeabeagle
flieslikeabeagle is offline Find More Posts by flieslikeabeagle
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 02:31 PM
Got shenpa?
flieslikeabeagle's Avatar
Los Angeles
Joined May 2004
10,940 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by dribbe
http://www.horizonhobby.com/Products...ProdID=EFL2725
Price is presently still $299.... It is quite a good deal IMHO.
David
I agree, David, when you consider that the price includes a Spektrum 2.4 GHz transmitter, a Spektrum 5-channel receiver, a lipo battery and charger, as well as all the electronics in the model, as well as the airframe itself, it seems like an excellent price to me.

For comparison, here's a competing product by a different manufacturer. $150 gets you a bare foam airframe with six inches more wingspan than the Apprentice...and nothing else. No motor, ESC, servos, receiver, transmiter, or battery. You could not get this in the air without spending much more than the cost of the RTF Apprentice!
http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...&I=LXVEP7&P=FR

I have a friend who's been flying parkflyers for some time, but has yet to go through the pilot qualification process at the AMA club he joined a while ago - he has to demonstrate proficiency in several skills (including the ability to land on the runway in both directions, something he doesn't have to deal with at the park!) to one of the club instructors, and has lacked a suitable model with which to learn do so. If he's interested, I will recommend the Apprentice to him. It seems to hit the sweet spot for size, performance, cost, durability, and convenience.

Will Horizon consider releasing a PNP or bind-n-fly version of the Apprentice as well? For those of us who already have Spektrum radio equipment, it would be nice to have this option. My friend, for instance, already has a DX6.

Heck, if there was a PNP version, I might buy one myself, just for lazy Sunday flying when I'm not in the mood to fly my more aerobatic models. I'd fly it with my trusty DX7 (and I won't hesitate to say that the DX7 is the best RC transmitter I've had the pleasure of using).

-Flieslikeabeagle
flieslikeabeagle is offline Find More Posts by flieslikeabeagle
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 09, 2008, 03:14 PM
Illinois
Joined Jan 2005
1,720 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by flieslikeabeagle
Will Horizon consider releasing a PNP or bind-n-fly version of the Apprentice as well? For those of us who already have Spektrum radio equipment, it would be nice to have this option. My friend, for instance, already has a DX6.

Heck, if there was a PNP version, I might buy one myself, just for lazy Sunday flying when I'm not in the mood to fly my more aerobatic models. I'd fly it with my trusty DX7 (and I won't hesitate to say that the DX7 is the best RC transmitter I've had the pleasure of using).

-Flieslikeabeagle
Probably worth considering... It does take time and effort to get these things to market (even the easier ones).

Thanks,
David
dribbe is offline Find More Posts by dribbe
Site Sponsor
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
New Product Apprentice 15e RTF w/Dx5e Radio by E-flite Get Real Parkflyers 2596 Yesterday 11:54 PM
Apprentice 15e RTF w/Dx5e Radio Andrewiski Electric Plane Talk 7 Jun 27, 2008 04:00 PM
Discussion E-Flite T-34 Mentor RTF w/2.4GHz radio sys lendawg1 Scale Kit/Scratch Built 3 Apr 12, 2008 11:58 AM
Sold E-Flite P-47 Thunderbolt RTF w/ Himax 2025-5300, Phx 25 and Hitec Servos P-40 Aircraft - Electric - Airplanes (FS/W) 3 Jun 19, 2006 04:55 PM
F/S piccolo fun RTF W/O radio misskimo Aircraft - Electric - Airplanes (FS/W) 1 Oct 15, 2002 01:51 PM