|Product:||Model Aero Sportster|
|Wing area:||278 Sq. in.|
|Wing Loading:||3.63 oz/sq ft|
|Recommended ESC:||Spin Max 10A|
|Recommended motor:||2204 1400kv|
The Sportster from Model Aero is one of those Depron park flyers that has enough power on tap for brisk outdoor action, yet can slow down gently for indoor gym pattern-flying during the "off season". The Sportster takes it's lines and name from the full-scale Warner Sportster and Warner Space Walker (also called the Revolution). Visually, it has a rather long tail moment and cambered wings with generous dihedral. Together, these traits make for a very gentle and forgiving flight experience, but we'll get into that later.
In this review, I'll build the Sportster, get it setup with the recommended electronics, and take her for a late morning flight with the winds light and variable. Let's take a closer look at this unique Depron sport aircraft from Model Aero - the Sportster.
Constructed of 6mm Depron, the Sportster comes unassembled and ready to be removed from the foam sheets from which it was cut. The kit is built by sandwiching three fuselage pieces together to create rigidity without the need of longitudinal fuselage spars or cross-bracing. The wing also lacks a full-length spar, but gains rigidity from it's cambered wing. Given the nature of Depron, I was impressed at the Sportster's overall rigidity.
Model Aero includes everything except glue and electronics with the Sportster, but you have the option to purchase a Spin Max 2204 motor and 10A esc, along with a pair of 6-gram servos when you purchase the Sportster. Notice I said only two servos? The Sportster is a rudder/elevator only model, and actually flies very well with rudder-only turning.
The control horns, main wheels, motor mount, and three wing-joiners are laser-cut from hobby ply and are ready to punch out and install. Carbon fiber control rods are included for the rudder and elevator, with smaller wire ends that are glued onto the rods and attached to the servo horns.
I'm going to cover the main steps of the build. For the detailed build instructions, consult the PDF manual found here. To assemble the Sportster, you'll need foam-safe glue, a hobby knife, and hinge tape. The manual suggests either foam-safe CA, FoamTac, or 3M 45 spray. I used foam-safe CA and FoamTac with great results.
The first step is to glue the brace covers to either side of the wing at the root. This adds support for the wing braces. After the glue dries, prop the wing tip 2" off the table, and sand the root perpendicular to the table. This creates more surface area for gluing the wings together. You can see the sanded wing root in the next photo. Once sanded, glue in the three wood braces and glue the wings together.
The fuselage goes together quickly by sandwiching the three pieces together with CA. Next, glue the 6" carbon strip to the elevator halves. Make sure your table is flat, and the elevators are lined up with the horizontal stabilizer as shown in the photo. Using a hobby knife, bevel the edge of the stabilizer at 45 degrees to allow the elevator to hinge easily. Glue in your horizontal stab and attach the elevators with Blenderm or any hinge tape. Do the same for the rudder. Sit back and admire your fuselage, we're almost done!
With the fuselage assembly complete, now is a good time to apply the decals before the wings become permanently attached. It's a straightforward process, but you want to get it right the first time. Cut the excess paper away from the decal as close as possible, lay the fuselage flat on a table with the tail hanging off, and line it up right the first time. Do the same for the wing decals. Good luck, you can do it!
The landing gear goes together just like the fuselage; sandwich the three pieces together, with the wood wheel and plastic axle in the middle. Note that the yellow painted side of each landing leg should face out. I messed that up on the left gear, as evident in the picture below. You'll need to hollow out the hole just slightly for the plastic axle to fit. I added a drop of CA to each end of the axle where it seats in the foam for added support. Glue the finished left and right landing gear to the bottom of the wing. Slots are pre-cut to make this an easy process.
Installing the electronics and making the control pushrods is a fairly simple task; the servo drop easily into the cutouts in the fuselage and the esc fits nicely under the nose. You can place components anywhere you want, but I found that for balancing purposes, the receiver should be located under the wing and between the landing gear.
Mounting the motor was also a painless task; the wood motor plate is glued to the firewall and the motor is screwed down. Drill out the holes for the screws first, so you don't crack the plate trying to force the screws through.
The pushrods take a little time to get right, because there's no adjustment once they're built unless you use radio trim. Center your servo, then place the wire through the servo horn and glue it to the carbon rod. Cover the glued end of the carbon rod with heatshrink. Now move to the rear, attach the wire to the control surface horn and center the control surface. Add a drop of glue to join the wire and control horn and recheck that the control surface is centered. Finish gluing the wire and carbon rod together.
The final step is to attach the wing to the fuselage. As with the entire build thus far, it's almost too easy to accomplish; just apply an even coat of FoamTac to the wing and fuselage, join them together, and hold it tight until they bond. Your Sportster is complete!
The final setup before the maiden was accomplished with a center of gravity at 2" behind the leading edge. The Sportster flies well on 2s or 3s LiPo power, but I chose a 3S 460mAH that I had on hand. The plane balanced perfectly with the LiPo mounted directly behind the firewall. Control throws were set at elevator ¾” up and down and rudder 1” left and right.
I maidened the Sportster late in the morning when the winds were light. Even though it's a bit larger than typical indoor planes, it's still very light with equally light wing-loading; wind is going to ruin the experience quickly. Keep your outdoor flying reserved for little to no wind days or take her indoors.
The entire flight was on par with what I imagine every maiden should be: easy hand launch, literally no trim needed, explore the flight envelope, land without damage. The Sportster has a very wide flight envelope: hammer the throttle and it will speed up nicely and climb hard when the elevator stick is pulled back. This makes loops-on-demand easy to accomplish. Ease back on the throttle and it will slow down to a brisk jogging pace, with no tendency to drop a wing. And if it does stall, the Sportster will just mush the nose down, given it's generous dihedral.
With a full inch of rudder throw, the Sportster has no problem banking and turning quickly, even without ailerons; at no time did I feel the Sportster lacked turning authority. You can accomplish roll-on-ground takeoffs and landings, but the wood wheels don't really lend themselves to turning well. Plus, you don't have a tail skid to protect the foam, so ROG takeoffs should be minimized to avoid wearing down the tail where it touches the ground.
|Model Aero Sportster - RCGroups.com Review (3 min 51 sec)|
Model Aero has a real winner on their hands with the Sportster. Although it's mainly suited for indoor flying in no wind, it's quite at home outdoors in a slight breeze. The kit builds quickly without any surprises, and the affordable power system makes this a great budget bird for the upcoming indoor season. Thanks for reading my review of the Model Aero Sportster, and happy flying!Last edited by Matt Gunn; Oct 29, 2015 at 11:13 AM..
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