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Great Planes F-86 Sabre Micro EDF with AnyLink Review

Chris Mulcahy checks out the new F-86 Sabre micro EDF from Great Planes, using the "AnyLink" 2.4GHz system.

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Introduction


Wingspan:15" (381mm)
Wing Area:53.1 sq in (3.4 sq dm)
Weight:2.35oz (67g)
Wing Loading:6.4 oz/sq ft (20 g/sq dm)
Length:14.4" (366mm)
Speed Range:40+ mph
Receiver:4ch Micro - Tx-R
Battery:200mA 7.4v 15C
Motor:11,500kV brushless inrunner
Fan Unit:30mm HyperFlow ducted fan
ESC:6A brushless
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:Hobby Retailers
Price:$139.98

Along with the release of the Tactic AnyLink 2.4GHz control system, Great Planes have also released an exciting new micro electric ducted fan jet, the F-86 Sabre. The Sabre uses a small 30mm electric ducted fan powered by a brushless motor, with ducting that runs from the nose throughout the entire plane. It comes as a Tx-R model (transmitter ready) and can be used with most transmitters via the AnyLink module. The AnyLink module simply plugs into your existing transmitters training port, making it compatible with any of the Tx-R models. As of writing, the AnyLink module comes free with the purchase of any Tx-R models, so you can run the F-86 on your own transmitter!

The North American F-86 Sabre


Photo by Lt. William J. Starr, USAF, Dec., courtesy of John Starr, www.FabulousRocketeers.com
The F-86 was America's first swept wing fighter, similar in style to the Soviet Mig-15. It first entered service in 1949, and was used in the Korean war. The "Eight Ball Express" was flown by Captain Clay Keen out of K-14 AFB over Korea in 1952. It was similar to the Sabre in the photo to the left, which was also based out of K-14. Unfortunately I was unable to find a photo of the actual F-86 that has been reproduced in our model. If you are interested in more photos of the Sabres at K-14, I highly recommend you check out the link under the photo. The note that goes with this particular photo reads: "Maj. Lane in flight scoring gunnery, K-14, March 1954".

In The Box

The F-86 Sabre arrived in a large colorful box that also acts as a carrying case. Inside the box the model sits in a molded foam cradle, with two foam inserts securely holding it in place. Also in the box was the battery, charger, wheels, unpainted foam pilot figure, and instruction manual. As stated earlier, the F-86 also comes with the AnyLink module so that you can fly the Sabre using your own transmitter.
The battery is a 2S 200mA 15c pack, with a standard Electrifly balance plug and micro deans power plug. I popped the battery onto my Futaba BR-3000 and found that it was about 70% charged out of the box. The included balance charger is designed to be used with your 12v accessory outlet in your vehicle. This kind of makes sense for me, as I am always with my vehicle when I go out to the field or park to fly.
An unpainted styrofoam pilot figure is included, and it's use is optional. I painted the little guy, and glued him to the mounting platform (a square piece of plastic) which was then inserted through the floor of the cockpit once the removable oval was popped out of the floor. I used some old oil paints I had lying around, but you could also use acrylic paints.
The wheels are optional too, you can either hand launch the F-86 or use the wheels for taking off from a runway. They attach by inserting them into plastic receivers that are glued on to the bottom of the fuse/wing. They can then be removed (with a little effort) to be put back in the box or used for hand launching again.

The F-86 Sabre

The F-86 has a lot packed into for such a small model. Complete with all control functions, aileron, elevator and rudder! There are models out there twice its size that don't have rudder control, so I was surprised to see it on a plane this small. With a fixed nose gear and no prop on the front of the nose, I was skeptical that there would be much ground control authority, but more on that later. For a fuselage that basically amounts to a hollow tube, all of the electronics are hidden remarkably well, in fact it's hard to believe that there are actual servos in there somewhere. Looking through the fuselage you can see the 30mm Hyperflow electric ducted fan, and when you remove the magnetic canopy you can partially make out the receiver, other than that there are no signs of the servos or ESC. The ailerons are controlled from a single servo, using a simple bellcrank system to actuate each aileron, and the elevator and rudder each have a servo.

The canopy is held on by two strong magnets, hiding the battery compartment. The battery sits in the compartment, with a little room to adjust the CG fore and aft, and the canopy holds it in place. Another thing to note was that the ducting for the motor was fully functional, with no cheater holes.

AnyLink

The Tactic AnyLink is a new module system that makes your existing transmitter compatible with any of the Tx-R models, including the F-86. Right now, the module comes free with the purchase of a Tx-r model, but if you want to purchase it separately it costs $24.99. The package comes standard with cables for Futaba and Spektrum/JR transmitters. There is a compatibility chart available to see exactly which cable you will need for your transmitter.

I tested AnyLink with both a Futaba 8FGS, and a Spektrum DX6i, using the included cables. Both worked well, but switching from one transmitter to the other required reprogramming AnyLink so that the channel assignments would match the transmitter. This was done simply by holding the rudder stick either all the way to the left or right when powering up the transmitter. Naturally the advantage of being able to use your own transmitter is that you get to use all of the programming available, including dual rates and program mixes. Basically everything you would normally use your transmitter for.

I installed the module per the instruction manual, using the included 3M dual lock. I didn't use a lot of the dual lock, as it is very strong (I have used dual lock many times before). I oriented the module following the diagram in the instruction manual (see above photos) and it worked great, but I may spin the module around 180 degrees and have the antenna stick out the top in a more conventional way.

Flying

Hand Launching

I charged the battery on the way to field, and it took about thirty minutes. With flight times averaging around three minutes, more batteries are definitely on the list of things to get. The manual provides guidlines for control surface throws, and I tweaked them to my own flying style. Admittedly, my first hand launch attempt was less than successful! I've grown accustomed to hand launching at a slight upward angle, and in doing so the F-86 immediately pitched up and tried to hover. With no airflow over the control surfaces I had no control, and watched helplessly as it nosed over and then naturally pulled up and performed a perfect belly landing! Trying again, I launched the F-86 in a straight line away from me, and this time it took off without any problems.
Then the fun began! The small size of Sabre makes it feel like it is travelling very fast, in fact it travels around 40mph according to Great Planes. It is a very agile plane, and the doppler effect from the ducted fan at full throttle sounds very cool! I started out with about 15% expo on the ailerons, and found that the roll rate is lightning fast (just how I like it). It had plenty of speed to perform impressive uplines, and could continuously loop if so desired. I flew at full throttle doing lots of low passes, and decided to throttle back to about half throttle. At this speed the F-86 performed well, and pulling the throttle back even further showed a noticeable drop in the nose, and I had to be careful making banked turns so that I didn't stall. It flew inverted just as well as right side up, although it did look odd having an F-86 doing a low inverted fly by! I had forgotten to set a timer, but the low voltage cut off kicked in by pulsing the motor a few times, and I immediately slid the F-86 in for a smooth belly landing. Subsequent hand launches were much smoother, and I found that the best results were achieved by either launching in a straight line, or at a very slight downward angle (a degree or two).
If there was one thing I could suggest to people about to fly the F-86, it would be to be prepared for how responsive the F-86 can be. Flying at a comfortable level it will be fine, but if you find yourself getting into trouble, over reacting on the controls could certainly lead to a crash. I would definitely recommend dialing in at least 15 to 20% expo on the ailerons, and maybe even set up some dual rates with reduced throw. For the more experienced flyers, just switch it on and go - it is a lot of fun!

Rolling Take Off and Landing

Taking off from an asphalt runway was uneventful. As it turned out, once the F-86 got up a little speed, the rudder did a great job of steering the jet down the runway (much to my surprise). Landing was a lot of fun too! The first few attempts had me bouncing repeatedly off of the runway, but once I got a handle on the best speed to bring it in at, I was able to perform smooth landings. The landings appear very scale like for such a small model, and it benefits from trying to land the mains first before the nose wheel. If you do happen to hit the nose wheel first, be prepared to give it full throttle and go around, as it will bounce right back up into the air!

Is It For Beginners?

The F-86 is a high performance EDF (despite its micro size), and as such is not suitable for beginners. It is a lot of plane, and could easily get ahead of an inexperienced flyer.

Video/Photos

Photos

Video

The first video shows the F-86 hand launched.
Youtube Link

The second video shows the F-86 rolling take off and landing.
Youtube Link

Conclusion

Thinking back a few years, we would never have thought it possible to be able to buy an electric ducted fan jet that looked great, and performed as good as it looked. I'm very pleased with the F-86, it is a fun flyer and something different. It's small enough to fly in a large gym, but powerful enough to handle light winds. It sounds great, and definitely turns heads! If it does happen to get damaged, a little foam safe C/A and kicker is all you need to get it looking like new. All that was missing was a Mig 15 to chase around!...
I have to thank the family and friends that helped me get photos and video of the F-86. With it's small size and fast speed, it was not an easy subject to capture!

Pros
Looks and sounds great
Flies extremely well right out of the box
AnyLink works exactly as advertized
Cons
Short flight time
Need more than one battery
Landing gear a little tough to remove

Last edited by Angela H; Feb 13, 2012 at 03:07 PM..

Discussion

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Old Feb 18, 2012, 09:41 AM
E-flyer since 1981
Michael in Toronto's Avatar
Joined Oct 2000
1,491 Posts
Great review.

If, as suggested, this can easily be bound to my JR transmitter, I will buy this over the E-Flite Mig.

I might buy that too, but generally, I prefer an American plane to a Communist plane.
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 10:24 AM
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CSpaced's Avatar
Oak Ridge, NC
Joined Jun 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in Toronto View Post

If, as suggested, this can easily be bound to my JR transmitter, I will buy this over the E-Flite Mig.
You can check out the compatibility chart at the link below to be sure.

http://www.tx-ready.com/anylink-chart.html
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Old Feb 18, 2012, 09:09 PM
MN WATTS Master
Vintauri's Avatar
United States, MN, Mankato
Joined Jul 2003
7,367 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in Toronto View Post
Great review.

If, as suggested, this can easily be bound to my JR transmitter, I will buy this over the E-Flite Mig.

I might buy that too, but generally, I prefer an American plane to a Communist plane.
I'm running AnyLink on both Spektrum DX7 and a JR 9503. I've had no problems at all.

Steve
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Old Feb 19, 2012, 09:39 AM
E-flyer since 1981
Michael in Toronto's Avatar
Joined Oct 2000
1,491 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintauri View Post
I'm running AnyLink on both Spektrum DX7 and a JR 9503. I've had no problems at all.

Steve
OK.

I may come back here with silly questions if I have any difficulty.

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Old Feb 19, 2012, 06:36 PM
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Joined Sep 2003
5 Posts
Great Planes F-86 Tx-Ready (Any-Link)

Buyers beware of the product. The plane looks great and flys reasonably well using a 4 channel TACTIC radio. The Any-Link system does not work on the Spektrum/JR radio. Tried using it on a DX6i. The plug that goes into the charge port is to small. It is way to lose. touch the cable or move the transmitter results in losing the signal to the plane. You can actually twist the plug and it will act as a throttle control. Borrowed a Tactic radio from a fellow flyer. do not know if it will work any better with a futaba. The only old futaba I have requires the cable that is not available as of yet.

Bottom line if yo buy the plane better plan on buying a Tactic radio to go with it. I would buy the Mig. Have one on order.
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Old Feb 19, 2012, 06:42 PM
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United States, MN, Mankato
Joined Jul 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allr View Post
Buyers beware of the product. The plane looks great and flys reasonably well using a 4 channel TACTIC radio. The Any-Link system does not work on the Spektrum/JR radio. Tried using it on a DX6i. The plug that goes into the charge port is to small. It is way to lose. touch the cable or move the transmitter results in losing the signal to the plane. You can actually twist the plug and it will act as a throttle control. Borrowed a Tactic radio from a fellow flyer. do not know if it will work any better with a futaba. The only old futaba I have requires the cable that is not available as of yet.

Bottom line if yo buy the plane better plan on buying a Tactic radio to go with it. I would buy the Mig. Have one on order.
I would check both the charge port in your radio and the adaptor plug that came with the anylink. In both my JR 9503 and the Spektrum DX7 the plug fits snugly and does not wiggle out like you say.

Steve
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Old Feb 19, 2012, 06:42 PM
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CSpaced's Avatar
Oak Ridge, NC
Joined Jun 2006
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Sounds like you have a faulty unit, I'm sure if you call Hobbico they will replace the module for you.
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Old Feb 19, 2012, 08:19 PM
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United States, GA, Snellville
Joined Nov 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintauri View Post
I would check both the charge port in your radio and the adaptor plug that came with the anylink. In both my JR 9503 and the Spektrum DX7 the plug fits snugly and does not wiggle out like you say.

Steve
same here, snug fit on 9503 and dx7
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Old Feb 19, 2012, 09:20 PM
The building never ends!
Tucson, AZ
Joined Oct 2008
1,056 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by allr View Post
Buyers beware of the product. The plane looks great and flys reasonably well using a 4 channel TACTIC radio. The Any-Link system does not work on the Spektrum/JR radio. Tried using it on a DX6i. The plug that goes into the charge port is to small. It is way to lose. touch the cable or move the transmitter results in losing the signal to the plane. You can actually twist the plug and it will act as a throttle control. Borrowed a Tactic radio from a fellow flyer. do not know if it will work any better with a futaba. The only old futaba I have requires the cable that is not available as of yet.

Bottom line if yo buy the plane better plan on buying a Tactic radio to go with it. I would buy the Mig. Have one on order.
Perhaps your charging port on your DX6i is just well-used and the metal springs that make contact with the barrel of the plug are worn?

The AnyLink box works just fine on my beat-up old DX6i.
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Old Feb 20, 2012, 05:18 PM
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Joined Oct 2003
915 Posts
Anybody know if the Anylink works with the Turnigy 9x transmitter?
After waiting for the Spektrum JR module to come out, and having the date pushed back month after month, I decided to gut the cheap Tx that comes with the Parkzone RTF micros. I soldered that up inside my Tx (following a guide) and now I'm good to go with Spektrum binding. Would be cool to be able to bind to these too.
Cheers,
Rob
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Old Feb 20, 2012, 06:13 PM
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United States, MI, Livonia
Joined Apr 2009
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Nice snug fit on my DX6i.. Actually hard to pull it out..
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Old Feb 20, 2012, 06:38 PM
"You're gonna hafta kill me"
Cool Hand Luke's Avatar
McKinney TX
Joined Aug 2009
77 Posts
I have a DX7. No problem with AnyLink. Works as advertised.

Make sure you push the trainer plug firmly into the charge port. It will snap into place and will not wiggle loose.

Cool Hand Luke
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Old Feb 20, 2012, 11:36 PM
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United States, GA, Decatur
Joined Mar 2004
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Saw a guy at our field fly one this past Saturday...... VERY nice!!!!!! Handles wind good too! Better than my larger JPower (Banana Hobby), 50mm EDF F-86.
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Old Feb 21, 2012, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonbeam View Post
Saw a guy at our field fly one this past Saturday...... VERY nice!!!!!! Handles wind good too! Better than my larger JPower (Banana Hobby), 50mm EDF F-86.
thats me! it flies much better on a calm day like today too.
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