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Hacker Super Zoom 3 Superaerobatic Model Review

Twelve of us regulars fly every weekend morning at a local school yard. Eight of us choose to fly Hacker Super Zoom 3s or the equivalent. Eight out of twelve - think of it - flying these things and all flying them well! Obviously Hacker has got this model nailed.

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Introduction

I LOVE this airplane and I think you will too!

Twelve of us regulars fly every weekend morning at a local school yard. Eight of us chose to fly Hacker Super Zoom 3s or the equivalent. Eight out of twelve - think of it - flying these things and all flying them well! Obviously Hacker has got this model nailed.

I'm not usually noted for such extravagant outbursts of enthusiasm, but look at it this way: how would you like to get out to the flying field after a minimum of assembly time with an airplane that is pretty darn good looking, is almost as stable and easy to handle as a trainer when on low rates, but with a flip of the switch to high rates can fly any 3D maneuver you throw at it, and, as if that weren't enough, is nearly crash proof. "Who wouldn't want one", you say. Well. that's the Hacker Super Zoom 3.

Hacker has been making foamies for a long time and offers an excellent selection ranging from a little 20.5" wingspan Mini Reno Racer to a monster 59" wingspan Super Zoom XXL. The Super Zoom 3 reviewed here has a 39.3" wingspan, falls in the middle of the range and is a nice size, small enough to slip into the trunk of your car and big enough to see without eyestrain.

The various Hacker planes are built up from pre-decorated CNC cut EPP foam parts with an airfoiled wing and a structure stiffened by carbon fiber rods. They are, just as Hacker claims, "virtually unbreakable" because if the worst happens (and we all know what that is) EPP foam breaks cleanly and is easily repaired with a shot or two of CA glue.


Wingspan:39.3"
Length:39.3"
Weight:14 oz.
Servos:micro servos
Battery:3 cells 750-1300 mAh lipo
Motor:120-150 watt outrunner
ESC:16-20 A
Manufacturer:Hacker
Available From:RC Baron
Price:$81.50

Kit Contents

The Super Zoom 3 is available in your choice of red, blue, or violet color schemes. My violet Zoom arrived safely and neatly packed in a sturdy flat box. There are a minimum number of main parts - a fuselage in three pieces, a wing in two pieces, stabilizer and vertical fin. The control surfaces are integral to the wing, stabilizer and fin, so there are no hinges to mess with. Hacker does the hard work. What is left for the purchaser to do can be accomplished in an evening.

The Kit Contains:

  • Pre-decorated fuselage, wing, stabilizer and fin
  • Carbon fiber reinforcing rods
  • Motor mount
  • Pushrods
  • Landing gear with wheels
  • All necessary hardware
  • An 11 page Construction Guide






You will need to supply:

  • 4 channel radio with 4 micro servos. HS-45HB servos recommended but HS55 will work.
  • Two 12" and one 6" servo extentions
  • 150-200 watt motor - 950-1050 Kv, 28 mm diameter, 32 mm length. I used a Hacker A20-20L.
  • 20A ESC
  • 3 x 800-1300 mAh lipo battery pack
  • 10 x 4.7 electric propeller
  • A 28 mm. spinner
  • Regular thin CA and accellerator

Assembly

The Super Zoom 3 Construction Guide illustrates assembly in 40 steps. I followed the Guide's assembly sequence, but here and there in the following text I suggest alternative procedures .

All gluing is done with regular CA. Foam safe CA is neither required or desirable. Hacker specifies use of accelerator on each glue joint.

Be sure to use sharp blades for all cuts. Dull blades will tear the foam. For cutting slots to embed carbon fiber reinforcing rods, one of those little knifes with a slide-out blade (see photo) can be used to limit the cut to a preset depth.


Here is a general suggestion

The carbon fiber reinforcing rods are glued into slots cut into the various foam parts. The ESC, radio receiver, battery pack, and servos are all pushed into holes cut into the wings and profile fuselage. All the various wires are pushed into slots cut into the profile fuselage. Instead of doing these tasks when specified in the Construction Guide, I think it is easier cut all the slots and holes (except for the one that houses the battery) first before doing any assembly. It is easier when you can lay the separate parts on a flat surface.

Wing

The first assembly step is to join the two wing halves.

When I butted the two wing halves together on a flat surface as instructed in the Guide, I found that the butt ends had been cut with a slight angle that would produce dihedral if the two panels were fitted tightly; however, the Construction Guide has nothing to say about dihedral. Flat wing or dihedral? Which would be better? I suspect flat out full bore 3D pilots will want a flat wing and will do a little sanding to square up the panel ends. I'm not that gung ho myself and decided a bit of dihedral would suit me best, so I left the wing panels as is. Of course I had to shim up the wing tips a bit when joining the panels.



Next carbon fiber reinforcing rods are inserted into the wing panels by cutting 3 mm. deep slots into the top of the wing following measurements illustrated at Step 2 in Construction Guide and glued with CA and accelerator. Next they are installed on the bottom of the wing.


Following the measurements illustrated at Step 4 in the Construction Guide, openings for aileron servos are cut into each wing.

The Guide leaves installing the servos into the wing for much later in the assembly sequence, but I think it is easier to put them in at this point while the wing is still separate from the rest of the plane and easy to work on.



Fuselage

A straight fuselage is important Hacker guarantees this by providing thick foam stiffeners to glue to each side of the fuselage. The Construction Guide's procedure is to place the foam fuselage on a flat board and glue a foam fuselage stiffener to it and then, placing the fuselage on the edge of a flat board gluing a stiffener to the other side. After that, a 3 mm slot is cut into each fuselage stiffener and carbon fiber rods are glued in. I found it difficult to cut a long slot in the stiffener while the fuselage was balanced on the opposite side's stiffener, or while supporting one haIf of the fuselage side on the edge of a flat board. I think it is much easier to glue the reinforcing rods into the stiffeners first and then glue the stiffeners to the fuselage.



The wing can be slipped through the fuselage, carefully aligned, and glued it in place.

Tail

The Stabilizer and Elevator are one piece. A spruce joiner is glued into a precut slot to join the left and right elevator halves. When dry, the elevator should be flexed a few times to break in the hinge. Then a control horn can be glued in place and the stabilizer can be slipped into a slot in the fuselage, aligned, and glued.

The rudder is prepared and attached to the fuselage in a similar manner.



Radio Installation

Pushrods to operate the ailerons, rudder, and elevator are built up from carbon fiber rod, Z-bent wire and shrink wrap tube. After the tubing is shrunk, the assembly is secured with a drop of CA at each end. Excellent pushrod connectors that are an exact fit to the carbon fiber pushrods are supplied in the kit.



Pockets for aileron servos were cut into the wing at an early stage. If you chose not to follow my suggestion to glue the servos into the wing at that point, do so now. Install aileron control horns and connect the ailerons with a z-bend at the control horn and a mini connector on the servo arm.


The rudder servo, elevator servo, battery pack, and ESC are all installed by pushing them into appropriate sized openings cut into the fuselage. All the openings are cut slightly undersized. The fuselage will stretch when parts are inserted and will hold them with no further support needed.


Motor

The motor is attached to a motor mount made from plywood parts. Shame on me! I forgot to photograph this step, but the parts are visible in the bag of small parts. The mounted motor is attached to a corresponding part glued into the nose of the fuselage.


Completion

The location of the ESC, radio receiver, and lipo battery will depend on the size, shape and weight of the equipment chosen by the purchaser and on the necessity of achieving a correct CG. with a balance point 120-130 mm aft of the leading edge of the wing. Cut the required slots and holes for everything except the battery. Install all other equipment. Then attach the battery with double sided tape and move it until the the airplane balances at a point where the CG is correct. Once the proper place for the battery is located, cut a hole for it.



Suggestion:

I insert a small dowel through the cockpit directly above a point 125 mm aft of the leading edge of the wing. I can then very conveniently check CG by lifting the airplane with a fingertip at each end of the dowel.


The Super Zoom 3 is now complete and ready to be admired.




Set up

CG 120-130mm behind leading edge of wing.

Recommended control throws are 40 degrees up and 40 degrees down for the ailerons, 50 degrees up and 50 degrees down for the elevator, and 50 degrees left and 50 degrees right for the rudder. The Construction Guide recommends "half movements" for first flights, that is, low rates set at 50% of high rates. There is no recomendation about exponential settings.

Flying

Basics

As I wrote in the introduction, I LOVE this airplane. What a sweet flier! To me, it is like a very well trained pony. With just a touch of command, it does exactly what you had in mind, and with no foolishness. At our field it is flown by pilots of varying levels of experience, and every one of them thinks it is great. I am looking forward to flying it long and happily.

One of the things I find remarkable about this plane is its speed range. Crack the throttle and it accelerates quickly and moves out at an impressive pace, especially bearing in mind that speed is not what 3D is all about. Throttle back and you can achieve amazingly slow flight, down to a bare walk, and I have yet to see one show even the least sign of a tip stall.

You want confidence? Say "thank you" to the Super Zoom, because it gives it to you.

Taking Off and Landing

No brainers, folks. The Super Zoom will take to the air with just the slightest nudge of throttle, so if you want to zoom from a take off run of mere inches into an immediate vertical climb to a hover, you can do that. And if a more realistic take off rings your bell, no problem. We fly off a running track. Those who fly from grass will probably want to leave the wheel pants off and substitute larger wheels. Of course you can hand launch. The Super Zoom will fly right out of your hand.

Landings? Cut back to just a little above no throttle at all and this plane will fly itself in. A little flare at the last moment and you will settle to the ground with almost no roll out. With this airplane you are going to have to work hard to mess up a landing. Take it from me, because I am not one of your successful landers, and I have yet to to be ashamed of one made with the Super Zoom.

Is This For a Beginner?

For Someone New to RC?

No. Wait until you are proficient with low winged aileron equipped aircraft, then go for it.

For Someone Just Beginning to Fly 3D?

That's me, and my answer is that this is a perfect choice.

For an Accomplished 3D Flyer?

Yes, it will do everything you want it to do, and you can do it without risking a fragile and expensive balsa, stringers, and covering airframe. It is a good choice and a great value.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Two of our best 3D pilots, both of them hotshot teenagers, flew the Super Zoom and did everything the felt like with it. Both of them said it will fly any of the 3D maneuvers, and both of them were well pleased with this airplane.

I specifically asked one of our 3D pilots, "Would a really experienced and demanding 3D flier be satisfied with this airplane?" His answer was an immediate and unequivocal "yes!"

Take a look at the video in this review to see Mark Jensen fly a demonstration with an ease and smoothness that makes the difficult look simple.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads












Conclusion

For those who always start with the bottom line - The Super Zoom 3 is a great airplane, whether you are a 3D beginner or already an accomplished 3D pilot. At our field it is a favorite.

Pluses:

  • Terrific performance
  • Easy to assemble
  • Crash resistant
  • Requires only simple and inexpensive equipment
  • A good value

Minuses:

  • Believe me, I tried and can't think of any

The Honor Roll

  • 3D Pilots - Mark Jensen and Mike Kalua
  • Video camera - Glenn LeCartz
  • In Flight Stills - Ray Peterson

Last edited by Angela H; Oct 20, 2012 at 06:57 AM..

Discussion

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Old Oct 20, 2012, 11:34 AM
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United States, MI, Holland
Joined Dec 1996
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The review lists two different battery size ranges, 750-1300 and 800-1300, but never mentions what battery you used.

Also, what were your flight times with the setup used?
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Old Oct 20, 2012, 03:59 PM
ltc
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United States, MA, Mendon
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Trying to figure out the differences between the Super Zoom 2, reviewed here
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1280603
And this Super Zoom 3.

At first glance, they look almost identical.
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Old Oct 20, 2012, 07:16 PM
Registered User
Sebastopol, CA, USA
Joined Dec 1996
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Battery size: I fly with 1300s and don't recommend less. This yields about 6 minutes of vigorous flying.

Super Zoom 2 vs. 3: They are almost identical. Different decoration, the Zoom 2 fuselage is 100mm longer, and the Zoom 3 is much less expensive, at least if the Zoom 2 price is still as quoted in the review.
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Old Oct 20, 2012, 11:04 PM
ProBro Eric in Jax
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United States, FL
Joined Mar 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ltc View Post
Trying to figure out the differences between the Super Zoom 2, reviewed here
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1280603
And this Super Zoom 3.

At first glance, they look almost identical.
Looks like the same old Zoom to me. Watching the video it looked to fly about the same.. I thought #2 was a POS. I'll take a pass on #3

Good review
thanks.
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Old Oct 21, 2012, 08:53 PM
ltc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahrhaftig View Post
Battery size: I fly with 1300s and don't recommend less. This yields about 6 minutes of vigorous flying.

Super Zoom 2 vs. 3: They are almost identical. Different decoration, the Zoom 2 fuselage is 100mm longer, and the Zoom 3 is much less expensive, at least if the Zoom 2 price is still as quoted in the review.
The 2 vs 3 price differential appears to currently be 75 cents

http://www.rcbaron.com/acatalog/Hack...RF-HC1302.html
Vs
http://www.rcbaron.com/acatalog/Hack...RF-HC1303.html
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Old Oct 21, 2012, 08:55 PM
ltc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by p0stal View Post
Looks like the same old Zoom to me. Watching the video it looked to fly about the same.. I thought #2 was a POS. I'll take a pass on #3

Good review
thanks.
Given that both of these received good reviews by different individuals, could you elaborate on your negative feedback?
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Old Oct 21, 2012, 11:28 PM
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I reviewed the SZ2 and I still enjoy flying it. I cut two battery locations, one for 3D and one for regular flying and it flies like a dream in both modes. Only suggestion I would make is to remove the landing gear before flying on and off of grass. If the gear catches in grass, it may tear off the mount. It hand-launches with little more than an underhand toss.
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Old Oct 22, 2012, 01:53 PM
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Joined Jun 2004
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I have the origianal Zoom.One of the best made epp foamies I have ever owned.This is one foamie that is made to last a long time.Mine flies like a pattern ship,and yet will 3d fairly good too.Just an all around ___fun___ airplane.
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Old Oct 24, 2012, 01:50 PM
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Joined Sep 2004
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Ever Ready Long Life Hack Flyer

Quote:
Originally Posted by pathfinder View Post
I have the origianal Zoom.One of the best made epp foamies I have ever owned.This is one foamie that is made to last a long time.Mine flies like a pattern ship,and yet will 3d fairly good too.
Yup me too, Zoom v1 is my ever ready hack flyer (unintentional pun but I leave it there). The 3D to pattern capability is the winning point for me.

I notice that this version has two aileron servos instead of one on the original.
The motor mount was a weak point on V1, I fabricated one out of aluminium to fix that, the V3 motor mount looks made stand up to the occasional rough arrival

Keep zooming
Mark
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Old Oct 24, 2012, 06:14 PM
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Joined May 2007
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Just curious, but what motor and esc did you end up using? I checked this plane out on RCPlaneBuilder and they are saying use a 70 gram motor, which seems a little large.
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Old Oct 24, 2012, 06:42 PM
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I have the older model, but it's my always take plane when I go out flying. The others are choices, but the Super Zoom goes, period. I'm not a 3d'r, but do the occasional hover, but mainly use it for aerobatic training. I have learned more with it than any plane I ever owned thus far. I have also put it through some abuse, but it's about as indestructable as anything I have ever seen. I thought the um planes were tough, but they don't hold a candle to the Super zoom. A friend of mine that has been flying rc forever says it seems to him to be more of a pattern plane the way it flies straight lines in any direction or orientation.
While I'm here, does anyone around this group have any experience with the Super Zoom XL (the 48" version). I have come within seconds of pushing the buy button on one for months now, but just can't decide whether I would like it as well as the smaller Super Zoom. I have also considered the built up fuse models from Hacker, but can't decide about them either.
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Old Oct 24, 2012, 07:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobly View Post
I have the older model, but it's my always take plane when I go out flying. The others are choices, but the Super Zoom goes, period. I'm not a 3d'r, but do the occasional hover, but mainly use it for aerobatic training. I have learned more with it than any plane I ever owned thus far. I have also put it through some abuse, but it's about as indestructable as anything I have ever seen. I thought the um planes were tough, but they don't hold a candle to the Super zoom. A friend of mine that has been flying rc forever says it seems to him to be more of a pattern plane the way it flies straight lines in any direction or orientation.
While I'm here, does anyone around this group have any experience with the Super Zoom XL (the 48" version). I have come within seconds of pushing the buy button on one for months now, but just can't decide whether I would like it as well as the smaller Super Zoom. I have also considered the built up fuse models from Hacker, but can't decide about them either.
Ah, yes...that would be me.

I reviewed the XL as well and I love it. The tail flexes a bit during banking manuevers, but it doesn't seem to mess up the flying abilities. It's almost identical to the smaller Super Zooms other than being 20% larger.

The Extra 330 1200mm is a full-fuselaged winner. It just goes where it's pointed, but it too suffers from a bit of tail flexing. No big deal since it flies so well. The 1000mm Sbach 342 I just reviewed is, to put it mildly, fabulous.
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Old Oct 24, 2012, 10:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dynodude View Post
Just curious, but what motor and esc did you end up using? I checked this plane out on RCPlaneBuilder and they are saying use a 70 gram motor, which seems a little large.
The 70g Suppo 2217 motor has gobs of power on the SZ, but the plane still flies very nicely. Alternatively you could go with a 50g Suppo 2212 or equivalent and be fine.
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Old Oct 29, 2012, 10:34 AM
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There are subtle differences between the Super Zoom 2 and 3 and they have pretty much all been pointed out. The tails have different shapes and seem to have similar areas although I haven't measured. Also the canopy area has been reshaped and moved slightly forward on the 3. Right now all of the US Hacker dealers are out of the SZ3 except for www.rcplanebuilder.com, they have some of the Red and Blue left.

I use the Hacker A20-20L motor with an APC 10x4.7SF prop, Hacker X20 ESC, 3S 1000 lipo and get about 6 minutes of 3D flying. I am getting about 195 watts out of that setup and it has UNLIMITED vertical with VERY good acceleration out of a hover. You could go as low as 150 watts and still have decent 3D abilities. For servos I use 4 Hitec HS45HBs. The best part of my job is I get to beat these things to hell and I haven't had any stripped gears.

In response to your questions Bobly, the XL is a larger version of the SZ2. It flies pretty much the same but for some reason rolling harriers and circles seem easier. I prefer the SZ2/3 because they are small enough to fit easily in the car with the other airplanes but the XL is very popular with people wanting a little larger airplane.
Ben
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