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Old Jul 26, 2001, 04:40 PM
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Phoenix AL Rolling Review

After reading the couple of threads about the Phoenix AL, and being intrigued by the good news/bad news opinions expressed, I gave in to my curiosity and ordered one through my LHS. I got it today. These are just my opinions as Joe Citizen.

Here's what I liked before I ordered it: I like the wing planform, the attractive fuselage, the T-tail (I was tired of dinging my UHU's stab on scrub) and the odd aileron arrangement! Yes, it's odd, being structured exactly like strip ailerons on any number of powered planes, and is installed just on the inboard section of the wing. More later on this.

What I don't like about the design is the fact that there's no provision for rudder, which is not clear from the top view shown in the advertisements.

Upon opening the box, my first impressions are "fair." Everything was boxed up nicely and protected well. I had ordered it without ailerons, but my LHS owner, on determining that there was a back order for the stripper version, went ahead and got me the "two installed servos" version. $14 more than the stripper. Okay with me.

The fuselage seems to have LOTS of room in it. Much more than my previous e-glider, a UHU. The seam on the two fuselage halves is noticable but not a big deal. I'll watch for fatigue & cracking over time (or very suddenly if I screw up!! HA) The quality of the wood interior structure seems to be okay but not outstanding. The exposed faces of outer wing panels again show okay but not outstanding wood quality. Doesn't bother me any at this point.

The canopy attachment is a velcro arrangement (Hook in front, velcro at rear)that will probably work well. Fit is pretty good, though at the trailing edge of the canopy, a gap is created by the thickness of the velcro. This could actually be a good thing, permitting more hot air to escape.

The main wing attachment method is a wooden extension forward which hooks beneath the bridge behind the canopy, plus two screws at the trailing edge of the wing. I'll let you know how that works out.

My Intents: Ideally, I would like to make this into rudder-elevator glider with flaps. That's what I was thinking when I saw those strip ailerons on the inboard panels. My thinking is changing now, however. Now I'm thinking "flaperons." Two reasons. One, ailerons will be cool, and two, I'm looking for a reasonable dethermalizing method. I'm scared of the inverted descent method some advocate, but I seem to be lucky enough to catch big thermals every so often and I don't want to lose this one like I lost my UHU (OOS). I'm thinking full-deflection on flaps will probably bring it down pretty well.

Flaperons means, for me, exchanging the single standard size servo with two minis side by side in the same position, each driving one surface. It will also mean hinging the ailerons in a way that permits a bunch of down deflection. At present, they come unglued. (Well, we all come unglued from time to time!) That's great. I can remove them and reconsider hinging, probably from the bottom edge, rather than at the midpoint. Perhaps I'll readjust the LE of the ailerons to a wedge shape so I can use some covering material for the hinge along the lower surface and still achieve sufficient upward deflection for use as ailerons. I'll let you know how that comes out.

About the rudder: I still like having a rudder, mostly for small directional adjustments on final. However, I have world's stupidest left thumb, so I've always coupled ailerons to rudders, usually using a Y-connector. After I fly the AL stock and see how it does, I may perform some surgery on the tail to see whether it can accommodate a rudder. It will necessitate reworking the snake for the elevator a bit I'm sure, which may slow things down. However, here's my challenge: How can I retain flaperons and couple my rudder too? I'm sure it's possible, just need to beat on my transmitter a bit and figure out the programming stuff.

Oh, almost forgot: For power I'm going to start with the stock 550 on 8 x 1400 cells, direct drive. Then I'll drop in a Magnetic Mayhem I have and see how it does. My ultimate goal is the MM with that 3.8 gearbox that Hobby Lobby is selling for $25 bucks or something (but which is presently on back order). That plus a 14 x 9.5 or so prop looks like over 4000' of climb, around 1000-1200 fpm using ECALC. I'm thinking that's pretty good bang for the buck.
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Old Jul 26, 2001, 08:26 PM
Sometimes it works!
GYROGEARLOOSE's Avatar
Caldera, Costa Rica
Joined May 2000
897 Posts
Hey John, congratulations on the new bird.
Do a search here on this forum on "Flaperons" Vs. "Spoilerons" before you make a deciesion on how to handle that. Some great info there that can save you a lotta grief.
Keep us posted on how it goes. -gyro-
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Old Aug 01, 2001, 12:26 PM
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racine, wi
Joined Jan 2001
339 Posts
you should love this plane! Just fly it quickly, it is NOT a floater, and needs to be flown in large arc's. It is fast! I love to hear it screaming by out of a dive. I love it!

On 8 cells it flies great! 30 degree plus climbout. I fly it on 8 2400 mah cells - I even use it as a trainer at our club!!! Actually, I think it flies much better nose heavy, and the larger pack really helps. I tried 1250 scr packs, but the glide ratio suffered. Outstanding bird.
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Old Aug 01, 2001, 03:59 PM
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Quick update: I returned mine to Cermark (through my LHS) because the fuse was twisted. The wing saddle was not square to the fin, which I didn't notice until I bolted the wing center section and the stab to the fuselage for a quick look-see.

Over the phone I spoke with a helpful gentleman who said that someone else had had that same problem, and had fixed it by shimming one side of the saddle. I said thanks, but I'd prefer to start with a straight situation. He said he understood, and that the best thing to do was to return it. So... on hold here until it returns.

But hey--BPU: What setup did you use for motor & GB (if at all). Prop, too. Sounds like you got it figured out pretty well. Any trouble fitting that 8-cell pack? Looked like a 7-cell tray to me, but shouldn't pose too many problems.

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Old Sep 05, 2001, 03:39 PM
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racine, wi
Joined Jan 2001
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Wow, I can't believe you had that many problems. I bought mine at a LHS and looked it over before purchase. 50+ flights on stock motor and 8 cells with no problem - motor doesnt even get warm. (And no... ceramrk doesnt pay me - though it would be nice.) Either way, flies much better than the aspire, and you get a fiberglass fuse...looks sleek. Good luck with it!
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Old Sep 05, 2001, 04:56 PM
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Yeah, I admit I was disappointed at all the trouble I went through, and I've read nothing but good stuff about other Cermark stuff, so I was pretty bummed about the quality issues. Perhaps yours was an earlier model (well, I know it was!) made during a period of closer scrutiny. It just seemed to me that whoever was putting these things in boxes was asleep at the wheel. I mean, the upside down elevator! Not what you'd want to saddle a beginner with sorting out. Not that this is a beginner's deal, but it does claim to be an ARF, you know?

I do think that they'd sell a boatload of these thing if they sold them without motor/servos/speed control, etc. If they could figure out the hinge stiffness, figure out how to get the fuselages perfect, do some QC work on the pre-packaging inspections, they'd clearly have a winner. Who knows? Maybe I just got unlucky. Still, seeing it fly I realize that it'll probably become one of my everyday favorites. I'm still planning on doing some mods eventually. Flaperons and a rudder, for starters. One good thing about a "low emotional involvement" plane is that you're less concerned about experimenting.
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Old Sep 05, 2001, 11:38 PM
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Destin, FL USA
Joined Nov 2000
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Hi:
Save yourself some grief, and don't even think about 'flaperons'. They do not work well even on 'wet' powered planes. They magnify any tendency to tip stall at low speed or high angle of attack.
On the other hand, 'spoilerons' slow the plane nicely and tend to eliminate tip stall.
If you have a computer radio, you will probably need to mix in a little 'down' when spoilerons are 'up'. Modulate spoilerons with throttle stick.
Even my F5B plane lands reasonably slowly with spoilerons, although it's fast and heavy compared to a conventional glider (of which I have a 100 incher as well).
Regards,
Bob Stewart
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Old Sep 06, 2001, 01:30 AM
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Oh, where to begin? When I last left this thread I had returned the Phoenix because there was a noticeable twist in the aft fuselage, resulting in stab & wing being nowhere near parallel viewed from the front.

So--I got another one from Cermark through my LHS. THIS one had some incredible things happening with the fuselage. Apparently this fuse had suffered some kind of trauma at the factory, and had been repaired before sending it out! My first clue was that the gelcoat was all scuffed up, as if someone had come along with some 400 grit and tried to sand out a flaw or repair--but just on the left side. This was from the nose to the fin. Then I noticed a strange frankenstein crack lying just beneath the surface emanating out from the center joint on the bottom on both sides. Plus, there was chipping and cracking around the forward joint at the canopy opening. I scampered back to my LHS where we both wondered whether it was worth trying for a third one. Yes, I decided. I still liked the concept of the plane.

Finally, got Number 3, about a month after the initial order. Set to work putting it together. Alignment of wing saddle and top of fin was okay, but not perfect. The fin and wing are parallel enough. I'll probably end up shimming one or the other, because poor alignment drives me insane. But what's this? I can't get the elevator horn (bolt through elevator + nylon screw-on eye. to line up with the control linkage wire. The bolt is intentionally off-center, but instead of off-center to the right (to accommodate the right angle in the linkage wire) it's set off to the left. Normally I'd just flip the stab assembly over, reverse the bolt, etc. But here, there are two wooden alignment pins which go into the top of the fin. I had no choice. Out with the X-Acto, and I sliced right through the (stiff as a board) easy hinges and flipped the elevator over, remounting it using some nice flexible hinge tape top & bottom. Had to sand a bevel in the LE of the elevator to achieve a nice joint. While I was at it, I noticed that the ends of the elevator--unlike the outer edges of the stab--were simply chopped out of TE stock, with no sanding. So this nice curved stab transitions to a square-end elevator. Gross. Sanded it and recovered the ends with some white Ultracote, just like it was covered in already.

Enough already. The rest of the plane went together pretty well, though the aileron hinges--also Easy Hinges--were also stiff as a board, despite my trying to work them free. Good thing the installed servo is a standard-sized beast. Still not happy with that. One thing: A sheet inside the box called for 1" up and down deflection on the ailerons. Not in this lifetime. Even if the hinges permitted all that movement, I don't think the geometry could generate all that movement. In the end I'm about 3/8" up and the same down. Maybe.

I actually like the canopy attachment method. Wooden hook in front, velcro in the rear. Works great.

Power: First I tried the stock motor that came with it, along with what looks like a Graupner knock-off 8x5 folder. 8 x 1400 Panasonics, plus separate 4 x 500 flight pack. Heavy & big, I know, but it's all I had. Plenty of room in this fuselage. Balance came out right on the spar. Not bad. Had to mill out the aft battery platform rear lip a bit to fit the 8-cell pack, but no problem. Longitudinally tight, though, because the aileron servo hangs down into the space normally usable for battery. GP-30 speed control, should be fine.

First flight, in gusty wind: Not bad. The stock motor hauled it up pretty well, got a few climbs out of it. Nothing dramatic, but it did the job. Next time out--what happened? I must have cooked the motor on the first flight, because it was very anemic and would hardly climb at all. I Probably can't blame Cermark, as it's advertised as a 6 or 7-cell plane. 7, I think. On the other hand--it did appear to be a cheapo 550-type can motor, nothing special.

I had been intending to go with a Graupner Eco 600, but I'm too impatient for that. In with a Magnetic Mayhem, still using the same prop. Man, the thing screams! On first flight it climbs okay for about 50 feet, then a horrible buzzing sound. I bring it around, land it, but can't find anything wrong. Low rpm okay, but then this buzzing! I do it one more time, then the whole motor/prop/speed control comes puking out the front of the fuse, breaking the front ring and cracking the fuse apart at the main joint back to about 1" from the front!! WHAAA??? Seems the prop wasn't up to the job, and something had come broken inside the hub, letting one blade go funky--thus the vibes, thus the failure.

Home for repairs, mostly using CA and getting all the fiberglass pieces back into place. I think I'll go back and do more fiberglassing inside.

Next flight--new Graupner 9x5 CAM folder. Now, the thing climbs really, really well! Very exiting, in fact, and once in the air, the glider looks great! 20-second climbs got it quite high. Did some nice soaring around, nothing too dramatic. 18 minutes on the clock when I landed. Late in the day, no lift, still messing around. I think 25 minutes in dead calm air would be doable.

In climb, it was quite tolerant of steep and slow, but I did learn that when it finally stalls, it snaps very viciously and recovery is not immediate. Could use more elevator travel, I think, and maybe a slightly aft CG.

Still wish I had some rudder for starting turns. The aileron thing is okay, but I think a gentle turn is a bit funky. You roll into the turn a little, and then the nose sort of falls into the turn and you're okay. Probably characteristic of all aileron/elevator gliders.

Now that I see it flies quite well, I'm going to pretty it up a bit, put some contrasting colors, maybe some reflecting tape on the LE. I'm sure it will thermal just fine, so next I'm going to fly it in mid-morning, see how it does.

Bottom line: This glider has great potential. Cermark has some serious quality control issues with their manufacturer, and should address them. I wish--Cermark, are you listening?--that instead of all these options for servos installed, motor installed, etc., they would sell a pure stripper version, with nothing electrical or electronic in it. If they sold it for maybe $130-140, they'd have a hit. At the price I paid, something like $185 or $190, with two servos and the motor, it's overpriced for the quality, IMHO. While mulling the 3rd example's arrival, I seriously thought about cancelling and going with the Filip 600 or something like that. Similar price, but quality looks considerably better.

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Old Sep 06, 2001, 11:34 AM
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Bob--Thanks for the input. The curious thing about the Phoenix AL is that the ailerons are on the inboard, not outboard panels, as on 99% of all planes in the world! Thus, dropping flaps raises the effective AoA inboard, resulting in effective washout at the tips. Spoilerons on the AL would give those wingtips relative washin, and we'd all die a horrible death!

Concur, flaperons on an outboard-aileron plane, and possibly on a plane with full-span ailerons, would be bad juju.

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