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Great Planes® ElectriFly™ Rifle ARF Review

Do you crave speed? Are you up for the adrenaline rush that comes from racing around on the deck at triple digit speeds?

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:31"
Wing Area:112 sq. in.
Weight:17-18 oz.
Length:24.5"
Wing Loading:21.9-23.1 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Futaba S3107 Micro Servos (2)
Transmitter:Futaba 10C 2.4GHz FASST
Receiver:Futaba R617FS 7-Channel 2.4GHz FASST
Battery:ElectriFly 11.1V 1500mAh 25C Power Series LiPo
Motor:ElectriFly Ammo 24-33-3180 Brushless Inrunner Motor
ESC:ElectriFly Silver Series 25A Brushless ESC 5V/2A BEC
Manufacturer:ElectriFly
Available From:Your local hobby retailer or Tower Hobbies
Price:$109.99
Flight Duration:4-5 minutes

The summer of 2010 might just be the summer of speed for ElectriFly! I have spent the last several months flying three new releases from ElectriFly, and the one thing they all three have in common is they go FAST! Two of the speedsters are EDF powered airframes; the F-20 Tigershark, constructed of AeroCell foam and the Evader, a sleek high performance composite sport jet. These two airframes use the same power system and benefit from nearly 500 watts of EDF goodness. But if you find that neither one of them gives you quite the adrenaline rush you are after, then the little treat hidden behind door number three will assuredly give you the fast fix you desire.


The ElectriFly Rifle is compact and of all composite construction. Designed to go fast without requiring you to dig deep into your wallet, it will break the century mark (at sea level with the recommended components) with ease using the recommended ElectriFly 24mm Ammo brushless inrunner motor, a Silver Series 25 amp speed controller and either a 1300 or a 1500mAh 11.1V (3S) lipoly battery. Its thin airfoil, 31" wingspan and whistling fast performance envelope mean aspiring pilots had better bring their "A" game!


Kit Contents

The Rifle comes packaged in a very slim, compact and colorful box. Each component of the kit found inside lies in a custom cutout in the foam. No need to inspect the pieces and parts for wrinkles or to reach for your heat gun, as the entire plane is of composite construction. The fiberglass feels thick, the paint is bright, and the selected pre-applied colors top and bottom will definitely help the pilot keep orientation.




In The Box:

  • Fiberglass fuselage, wing and horizontal stabilizer
  • 30mm machined aluminum spinner assembly
  • Light ply elevator servo mount
  • Elevator push rod
  • Aileron push rods
  • Balancing stand
  • Landing skids (3)
  • Adhesive backed hook and loop material
  • Antenna guide tube
  • 16 page black and white photo-illustrated assembly instructions
  • One sheet of decals








Required for Completion:

  • Four channel radio system (only three channels required)
  • Two 9 gram class servos capable of supplying 15 - 20 ounces of torque
  • Brushless electric power system (motor, speed controller and 1300-1500mAh 3S lipoly battery)
  • Propeller

Included for Review:

  • ElectriFly Ammo 24-33-3180kV brushless inrunner motor
  • ElectriFly Silver Series 25 amp speed controller
  • ElectriFly 11.1V (3S) 1500mAh 25C lipoly battery
  • Futaba R617FS 7-Channel 2.4GHz FASST receiver
  • Futaba S3107 micro servos (2)
  • APC 4.75x4.75 speed 400 electric propeller






Assembly


The relatively thin assembly instructions booklet hints at the quickness with which the Rifle can be assembled. Most of the components fasten together without any need for glue. Due to the high speed performance potential of this plane, it is especially imperative to take one’s time while building it and ensure that all I's are dotted, all T's are crossed and everything is built absolutely straight and true. Soldering skills are a plus when building the Rifle due to the need to shorten the ESC and motor wires to the optimum length, so as to not take up valuable space in the front of the slender fuselage with excess wire. The live hinges used on all control surfaces are a nice touch. They make for a gap less hinge line, which is insurance against flutter at high speeds. Mine all seemed a bit on the stiff side. Though the recommended control throws are very small, I still thought it best to exercise my ailerons and elevator control surfaces until they became noticeably easier to deflect.


Rifle Assembly Manual

In addition to the assembly manual, ElectriFly has released an assembly addendum. This addendum fills both sides of a single sheet of paper, and it slightly modifies several of the steps of assembly as listed in the original manual.



Rifle Addendum

Items Covered in the Rifle Addendum:

  • Updated recommendation on suggested servos
  • A note that a larger elevator pushwire (0.047")is included in the kit
  • Additional elevator push rod setup recommendations
  • Method to bring horizontal stabilizer into parallel with wing
  • The necessity to glue the elevator push rod guide tube with CA
  • Method to free up aileron live hinges

Wing

Assembly of the wing primarily involves installation of the aileron servo and the connecting of it to the ailerons with control rods that must be assembled as a part of the build sequence.


The Futaba 3107 servo slipped handily into the provided servo cutout in the wing after I lengthened the opening a little with a razor knife. Z bends are used on the servo horn end of the control rod, while quick links connect them to the ailerons. I like to use a wee dab of CA to make sure the black circular retainers on the quick links stay put.



To facilitate easy checking of CG at the end of the build, I used a fine point black Sharpie to mark lines indicating the acceptable range on the bottom of the wings. ElectriFly even includes a handy little wooden balancing jig in the Rifle box.


Fuselage



The sole order of business in preparing the fuselage, other than radio and power system installations (covered below), is installing the elevator servo. The servo mounts to a small rectangular piece of light ply, which is then mounted to two hardwood blocks that are mounted in the fuselage at the factory. It is very important to get the elevator push rod geometry and alignment perfect. Doing so has the benefits of 1) an elevator that returns to center when the stick is released and 2)not over working the small servo by creating a bind. The servo mounting holes should be hardened with CA before mounting the elevator servo in the fuselage. I had to open the two short sides of the elevator servo mounting plate up a bit to allow the Futaba 3107 servo to fit lengthwise into the cutout. The clear outer elevator push rod tubing also needs to be secured in place inside the fuselage for slop free elevator operation. The assembly addendum details how this is done using CA and accelerator.


Tail

The elevator push rod comes up and out of the vertical stabilizer at a 45 degree angle. It attaches to the elevator via a quick link style connector. The revised steps and measurements to follow when making up this connection are addressed in the single sheet addendum. Again, due to the high speed performance capability of the Rifle, it is important to make sure the geometry on this connection is spot on. Exercising the live hinge on the elevator before connecting the push rod will help make sure it does not bind or fail to center. I again secured the black circular quick link retainer with a tiny dab of CA. A little thread lock on the screw that locks the push rod into the quick link connector is also advisable.



The Rifle's vertical stabilizer is part of the composite fuselage. There is no provision for a rudder. The small horizontal stabilizer and elevator are attached to the top of the vertical stabilizer using two, wee 2x8mm metric Phillips head screws. Caution is in order when threading these screws in for the first time. The composition of the metal in these two little fasteners seemed a bit soft to me and I had to apply a decent amount of force to seat the two screws. Thus, it is important to use a Phillips screwdriver tip of the proper size so as to not round out or damage the Phillips head on them.


Radio Installation


Installation of the two servos into the Rifle is covered above in the wing and fuselage sections. ElectriFly makes provision for installing either a 72MHz receiver or a 2.4GHz one. The former will make full use of a clear antenna tube supplied in the kit. A small hole can be drilled in the aft section of the fuselage, with the long antenna tube getting routed back to and out of this hole. If using a 2.4GHz receiver, several shorter pieces can be cut from the long antenna tube. The shorter 2.4GHz antennas can then be routed by inserting them into these shorter antenna tube pieces, which are mounted to the inside of the fuselage. The Futaba R617FS 7-Channel 2.4GHz FASST that was included for the review was mounted using few dabs of hot glue, and it's twin antennas were routed into the clear tubing, which I also mounted with hot glue. To neaten the radio area of the fuselage a little, I packed the excess elevator servo wire into a semi-tidy bundle and anchored it in place with a little more hot glue.

Power System Installation


Soldering skills are a plus. If you do not possess this skill set, check with your flying associates to see if they can help out. The recommended Ammo brushless inrunner motor is rated at a maximum of 190 watts and 19 amps. Running the motor and a APC Speed 400 4.75x4.75 prop up on my EagleTree with a fresh ElectriFly 3S 1500mAh 25C lipoly battery saw an initial reading of nearly 250 watts on the new, freshly charged ElectriFly 1500mAh lipoly battery. I made a mental note to use a little throttle management in flight, so as not to overwork the motor. However, I do believe that the in-flight numbers of the power system are probably closer to the rated maximum wattage of the motor once the battery sees the typical dip in voltage after a few seconds of full throttle. I was not able to gather the usual in-flight data using my Eagle Tree eLogger due to the slender fuselage of the Rifle not being able to accommodate it.


In order to keep the fuselage from getting excessively crowded, it is imperative that the three motor and ESC leads be trimmed to the optimum length. The ESC should lie flat and not protrude rearward beyond the fuselage former located at the leading edge of the wing. This will keep the area below the aileron servo free of anything that could obstruct or limit the aileron servo from doing it's thing. The ESC and lipoly battery are both secured in place using the included adhesive backed hook and loop material.



The Ammo inrunner mounts to the firewall using a pair of countersunk machine screws. Don't forget the thread locking compound. The included aluminum spinner dresses up the front end of the Rifle nicely. I thought the spinner back plate-to-fuselage gap a little on the large side for my personal tastes. A quick trim job on the motor shaft with a cutoff wheel could have remedied that but at 100+ MPH, I figured I would not really be able to see any problems with the Rifle's aesthetics.




Completion


The final steps of the Rifle assembly involve mounting the three included landing skids. One each gets mounted to the bottom of the wing, just inboard of the wingtips. The third skid is mounted to the bottom of the aft fuselage. This is one of the few steps in the Rifle assembly that requires adhesive be used. CA and accelerator are used to attach these three skids but not before preparing the surfaces by sanding them to an adhesive friendly roughness.




The wing attaches to the fuselage with a tab at the front and a 3mmx10mm countersunk flat head Allen screw at the rear. The available real estate inside the Rifle fuselage is a bit on the sparse side, so it is most important to mount the wing and then exercise the ailerons to be absolutely sure that the aileron servo is not contacting any other component that could restrict it's movement. This should be checked before every flight!



ElectriFly includes a nifty little balancing jig in the kit box. It can be assembled in a minute or two and serves quite handily to check the Rifle's center of gravity. A small foam display stand is also included in the Rifle box.




My Rifle tipped the scales at an all up weight of 17.2 ounces, which was right on target to the specified 17 to 18 ounces listed for the Rifle. Using all of the recommended components, mine balanced just forward of the middle line, as marked during assembly of the wing. Using an also recommended 1300mAh sized lipoly battery would probably bring the Rifle in at 17 ounces or even a tad below.





Recommended Control Throws
Low Rates High Rates
Elevator 3/32" (2mm) 3/16" (5mm)
Ailerons 1/8" (3mm) 3/16" (5mm)

When setting up the recommended high and low rate aileron and elevator throws, patience and a good eye are in order. The differences between the high and low rates are mere millimeters. I added a little exponential to soften the throws of both elevator and ailerons. A quick check for lateral balance showed mine to be perfect.

Flying

When prepping the Rifle for flight, there are a couple of very important items that must be checked before shooting it up into the air. The Rifle fuselage is fairly compact and each component needs to be located in its designated space properly for it all to work. When inserting the lipoly battery, it is important to ensure that it is fully ahead of the fuselage former located at the leading edge of the wing saddle. The lipoly battery and speed controller wiring must also remain forward of the wing. This is chiefly due to the aileron servo needing to use this area inside the fuselage. Once the wing is attached, the aileron servo and push rods will be located in the area of the fuselage just aft of the leading edge of the wing. Thus the importance of pushing all of the battery wiring forward so it rests between the ESC and battery. Failure to pay close attention to this detail could result in the aileron servo being restricted from moving properly. Of equal importance is taking a few seconds to look over the elevator servo, it's ply mount and the push rod connection at the elevator. Exercising all control surfaces to verify proper throws before each and every flight will all but guarantee that you do not find yourself with a bullet that you cannot steer!



Taking Off and Landing

My first flight almost ended with the walk of shame, as the Rifle went a bit wild during the first few seconds of the maiden launch. It may have been that it was a wee bit out of trim, it may have been because the very small amount of control throws did not have enough air over them at first, it may have been the pilot over controlling or it may have been a combination of all of the above. In any event, I experienced that quick thought parade that precedes a crash and has you wondering what went wrong and what could I have done to prevent it, even though it is still in the air and flying. I would like to think that my instincts took over and I flew it up and out of harms way to an altitude where I could safely trim it out. After a few clicks of right aileron, the Rifle was shooting straight and all subsequent launches have been nonevents. As the photo series below illustrates, a firm push-style toss straight out and level will have the Rifle up and on step in about one second flat. Like a bullet, it will accelerate lightning fast! The first and immediate concern after launch should be the need to start a turn as the Rifle climbs out. Think twice about it and it will be a dot in the sky! If you are on top of your game, leave the throttle pinned to the stop and hang on! If you want a second to catch your breath, pull it back a little after launch.


The best thing you can do when landing the Rifle is to give yourself plenty of room. Set up the approach by pulling the power back and bleeding some speed off as you make a few circuits around the field. When ready to commit to the landing, take the Rifle out a bit farther than you normally would on the downwind leg. Keep the turns to base and final gradual. Depending on how much speed you bled before entering the landing pattern, you can think about killing power on either base or final. Keep the approach flat and try to get the Rifle in over the landing area as low as possible. The trick is to get it into the area of ground effect, say a foot or two off the ground, and then just keep holding it off with tiny inputs of up elevator until it drops to the ground. If you try this at too high of an altitude, you run the risk of a tip stall and cartwheel. If you are only a foot off the ground, this is not as great a worry. The school yard we flew the Rifle at had grass that could have used a trim job and so the Rifle would immediately catch in the grass and stop abruptly. Several times, the wing tip skids were torn off by the suddenness of the stop. A quick batch of five minute epoxy would repair the damage, although they typically do not break away cleanly but take some of the gel coat with them. Amazingly enough, I have yet to break a prop on landing.


Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The Rifle is designed to go fast. Period. While it is most probably capable of any aerobatics that utilize elevator and ailerons, the main consideration prior to executing them will be if you have the eyesight and reflexes to handle them. Rolls are probably the easiest to perform. Large loops are doable, thanks in part to the very favorable power to weight ratio of the Rifle but keeping an eye on it as it comes over the top of such a big loop could be a little tricky.


The Rifle really excels at ripping around the pattern at super high speeds. It is not uncommon to hold it on it's side and just steer it around the pattern with the elevator, while paying attention to keeping the nose above the horizon. Though all indications are that by appearance the Rifle is a pylon racer, I did not really fly it as I suspect those who are into pylon racers would fly it? I did, though, make many circuits at WOT, with many tight turns executed using elevator and the Rifle handled it all without complaint.

Is This For a Beginner?

Unequivocally no and definitely not, no way, nosirree! The Rifle will out pace the reflexes of many pilots and requires that you fly it 100% of the time and then some. The small size of the Rifle coupled with it's super thin airfoil will oftentimes mean you are presented with a paper thin profile, especially when it is pointed directly at you. Blinking is best saved until after you get it back on the ground. Landings will require planning and proper execution. Advanced pilots however should have no problems piloting the Rifle around the skies at full throttle.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery









Downloads

Conclusion

Though it is marketed as being capable of 90 MPH at sea level with the recommended components, and the Evader is allegedly good for 100 MPH (with the same disclaimer if you will), I have flown both of them and the Rifle feels faster and demands a little more skill! I have to admit that my knees were shaking the entire maiden flight! After trimming the Rifle out, I was trying to acclimate to it's speed by keeping the throttle pulled back to 50%. Bumping the throttle stick up just one détente made an immediately and obvious increase in the speed of the Rifle. This is the first plane I have ever flown where this is true! And I LOVE it! Pegging the Rifle at full throttle certainly makes for an adrenaline rush but pulling the throttle back to 50% does not slow it down that much.

The Rifle looks every bit the part of a pylon racer, with it's all composite construction and aerodynamic profile. Reports are that it's composite wing is a spar-less design. Though I have not performed any extreme maneuvers at wide open throttle or yanked and banked mine over and over at full throttle, mine has handled everything I have put it through without any failures or problems. At this price point, the Rifle is a very good candidate for an entry level introduction to smaller, high performance composite airframes.

Pluses

  • The whistle of the composite airframe as it races by you at over 100 MPH!
  • Included CG balancing stand
  • Aluminum spinner provided in the box
  • Assembles quickly

Minuses

  • Live hinges come out of the box very stiff
  • Requires pilot to master the art of not blinking while flying it!
Last edited by Angela H; Jun 27, 2010 at 01:21 PM..

Discussion

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Old Jul 01, 2010, 10:38 AM
R.C. Aviation Fanatic
Razors edge 29's Avatar
Canada
Joined Aug 2009
20,179 Posts
sweet..............


so, besides obvious speeds, is this plane hard to fly?
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Old Jul 01, 2010, 11:13 AM
Fly, Crash, Burn,
f4addict's Avatar
United States, CT, Danbury
Joined Jul 2008
667 Posts
great review, quick save. great flying.
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Old Jul 01, 2010, 11:15 AM
Wandering IT geek
ronin4740's Avatar
United States, NV, Reno
Joined Aug 2005
3,933 Posts
Nice review. There's nothing like something small flying at triple digit speeds to keep you on your toes
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Old Jul 01, 2010, 11:24 AM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,600 Posts
Well, a question like that is kind of difficult to answer IMO, as the answer can be subjective in several different ways. Difficult based on the air frames performance...difficult based on individual piloting abilities...difficult depending on the field you desire to fly it at...etc

Do you see what I am trying to say?

Is the Rifle "difficult" for me to fly, as an Intermediate pilot with average eyesight and reflexes and a fairly large grassy field in which to land it in? No. Would the Rifle be difficult to fly if your eyesight or piloting abilities or choice of field is less than optimal? Definitely.

The air frame is honest as far as how it behaves in the air. It has not "surprised" me yet while flying it but it will require a good amount of concentration and focus while flying it and due to the speed, "things", either good or bad, will happen quickly.
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Old Jul 01, 2010, 12:29 PM
R.C. Aviation Fanatic
Razors edge 29's Avatar
Canada
Joined Aug 2009
20,179 Posts
I understand. Might be an option for me in the future as i like FAST lol
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Old Jul 01, 2010, 01:40 PM
Registered User
kissfan's Avatar
Muscle Shoals, Al.
Joined Oct 2004
314 Posts
no one seems to have the recommended motor in stock. I have the plane ready to go ,just need the right motor for it. I may just sell it because I'm sure my old eyes won't be able to see it.
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Old Jul 01, 2010, 02:15 PM
Tim Lampe; Hobbico R&D
KRProton's Avatar
Champaign, IL
Joined Dec 2009
3,644 Posts
If you're interested in the Rifle, but are apprehensive about flying it because of the speed, here's a 'starter' setup that performs well: Try the Ammo 24-33-2500 motor and the 1300mAh battery. Get yourself a few APC 4.5 x 4.1 and 4.7 x 4.25 propellers. The smaller battery will slightly lighten the plane making it easier to launch and land. The 'mild' motor/prop combo will provide speeds near 90mph, but not be so 'stupid' fast for someone who is interested in the Rifle, but unsure of their skills/reflexes. Once you get the plane dialed in, get your timing down and become addicted to the speed, then switch to the hotter setup.

For beginners or the uninitiated, try to keep it light - don't use oversize batteries. With suitable gear the plane should come in around 17 - 18 oz.
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Old Jul 01, 2010, 02:50 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,369 Posts
I enjoyed the review and the tip for a slower version from KRProton. Mike H
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Old Jul 01, 2010, 03:20 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,600 Posts
Thanks Tim, Mike.

I think I may have neglected to mention it in the review but my Rifle, using the recommended comppnents and 3S ElectriFly 1500 lipo, tipped the scales at 17.2 ounces. I am interested in trying the lighter recommended 1300 3S lipo, to see what he slight weight loss may do to performance?

On my maiden, I cruised around at just under half throttle to get used to the Rifle and it behaved very well, with no bad tendencies manifesting themselves. So, if you have any hesitancy at all about whether you will be able to fly the Rifle, it is possible to ease into the speed it offers.
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Old Jul 01, 2010, 03:26 PM
Ready to fly MRs
Sid3ways's Avatar
Swanton, OH
Joined Jul 2007
5,041 Posts
Thanks for the review. Looks like a great platform to put a small camera on it and zoom around in FPV.
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Old Jul 01, 2010, 04:51 PM
globemaster
nicoyenny's Avatar
USA, CA, Cypress
Joined Jun 2008
1,462 Posts
I love it, but I can't fly it.
Since I am (in (almost) practical terms) blind, I would end up flying it in tight circles, like a control line plane...without the threads .... scary for me!!!!
Does anyone know of a good eye surgeon that can cure astigmatism?
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Old Jul 02, 2010, 12:26 AM
Registered User
USA, CA, Westlake Village
Joined Sep 2004
1,790 Posts
Any suggestions for a comparable Hobby King brushless motor?
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Old Jul 02, 2010, 03:12 AM
Registered User
Joined Jul 2009
423 Posts
Nice plane.
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Old Jul 02, 2010, 11:00 PM
Let's find some thermals!
seaspb's Avatar
United States, OR, Silverton
Joined Nov 2008
890 Posts
I have 1 on order. My last pylon was an escape.
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