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Flyzone Uberlites Review

Chris Mulcahy takes a look at the "Uberlites", the new indoor/outdoor plane from Flyzone.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:16.1"/14"
Weight:0.6oz./0.7oz
Length:15.4"/15.3"
Servos:Magnetic Actuators
Transmitter:2.4GHz
Battery:65mAh Lipo
Manufacturer:Flyzone
Available From:www.towerhobbies.com
Price:109.98$

With the indoor flying season right around the corner, you may be considering which airplane to get for the local gym. Flyzone's new "Überlites" may just fit the bill, and with both a monoplane and a biplane included in the box, you get the best of both worlds. With a modular electronics package, you can just snap on a different airframe using magnets, and continue to fly!

Kit Contents

Everything you need comes right in the box. You get both the monoplane and biplane models, the electronics chassis, 2.4GHz transmitter, charger, lipo battery, and four "AA" batteries for the controller. The box doubles as a carrying case, with a sturdy plastic handle.

The airframes are made up of a carbonfiber and plastic fuselage. The pushrods are also carbonfiber, with small plastic ends that have magnets attached to them. The structure of the wing and tail surfaces appear to be made out of a foam/paper sandwich, covered in a light film on one side. They are incredibly light, and I had to be very careful when handling them so as to not bend or break the wings.

The modular electronics chassis is a wonderful little gem. The tiny electronics board contains the 2.4GHz receiver and ESC, with a small antenna sticking up from the side. There are three plugs on the front of the board that lead to the motor and two "servos". Well, the servos aren't servos at all, they are magnetic actuators. This consists of a compact cylinder of wound copper wire with two magnets pivoting in the center. When a charge is applied the magnets swing one way or another, moving the pushrod attached beneath them. They make no sound at all, which was a little strange at first watching the control surfaces move without any servo sound! It's a great little design, and is actually proportional to a certain extent. The landing gear is made of piano wire with a carbonfiber axle, very light but strong and flexible. The brushed motor is geared, and swings a carbon fiber propeller.
The whole chassis with its gears, spindly landing gear, and magnetic actuators, totally remind me of the "steampunk" genre.

Photo Illustrated Instruction Manual

At first glance the transmitter resembled a video game controller, but as soon as I picked it up that notion soon faded away. It has good weight and feel, and everything is within easy reach whether you're a pincher or thumb flyer. The throttle stick has no ratchet and is smooth, and there are are four digital trims. There is a mix pot in the center, and the manual only references mix "0" and "2". Mix 2 is for the models included in the box, mix 0 is for the wing airframe (covered later). There is a button in the left shoulder of the transmitter (the right one is a dummy) that is used both for binding and resetting the digital trims. This comes in handy when switching airframes and retrimming. On the bottom of the transmitter is a USB socket, this is used for the charger. The back contains the battery door, where the four "AA" batteries are installed.

The charger resembles a USB thumb drive, except that the back cover pops off to reveal a set of magnets. The 65mah single cell lipo battery is held on to the airframe with magnets, it simply snaps on to the plane. These same magnets are how it attaches to the charger. The charger is then plugged into the transmitter, and a red light appears indicating that it is charging. When the light goes out, the charge is complete. Being as it is a USB plug, you can use other devices to charge the battery. So far I've used my cell phone charger in the car, as well as my phone's A/C adapter in the house. Then, of course, there is just about any computer you come across that will have a USB socket!

Assembly

Assembly couldn't be easier, and is one of the best features of this plane. There are four magnets that hold everything together. There are two magnets at either end of the electronics chassis, that match up to corresponding magnets on each airframe. Then there is a magnet on each of the two pushrods. You simply snap the two pushrpods together and then then the chassis to the airframe. It literally took me two seconds. Some care is needed to make sure you snap the correct pushrods to each other, but after assembling it a few times I soon got the hang of it, and was snapping it together in one fluid movement.

Optional Wing Airframe

Also provided for the review was the optional wing airframe. It uses the same magnetic setup as the two stock airframes, but differs in the fact that it is a flying wing design. This is where you need to change the mixing pot on the transmitter to "0". This enables the ailevator mixing mode, that allows you to use both magnetic actuators as elevator control and aileron control. Where as the stock airframes use a rudder to steer on one actuator, and the elevator for attitude control on the other actuator, the wing uses both actuators for the two elevator halves and then alternate to give aileron control.

Flying

Basics

Before I headed out to fly I charged up the battery. This was a good thing, because the battery takes a little longer to charge than your average battery used in micro aircraft. It took about twice as long as an e-flite battery from a Vapor. This is the only negative I have to say about the aircraft, the charger is slow. I might be able to get a quicker charge out of my Triton EQ, which I will try at some point.
I headed to the local gym for the first flights, and a few days later I also took it out to a local flying field, and found that it was just as happy outdoors as it was indoors.

Taking Off and Landing

I flew the monoplane first. It behaved pretty much as expected, it would take off easily from the gym floor or could be hand launched. Landing was a breeze, as the planes slow flight characteristics were great. It was slightly slower than an Ember 2, but quicker than a Vapor. It was pretty much a floater, and could fly extremely slow with a little up elevator held. The biplane was next, this was a little heavier and couldn't fly quite as slow as the monoplane, so landings were a little quicker. When I say quicker, it's all relative, both airframes can fly very slowly when needed. The wing airframe was the quickest of all, it was a little snappier in handling too.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

All of the airframes were capable of some mild aerobatics. With a little power dive I was able to pull a passable loop, and it was pretty good at almost doing some wingovers. The most fun was had doing touch and goes on a table!

Is This For a Beginner?

Yes, a beginner could fly this with very little practice. The only drawback is it is fragile when handling, it could be quite easy to bend a wing by grabbing it at the tip. The crash durability is excellent also, as the electronics chassis seperates from the airframe on impact. You simply snap it back together and keep on flying.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB1qH942wRA

Conclusion

I had a lot of fun with the Überlites, as did my friend Bob (who owns an Ember 2). Being able to fly indoors and outdoors is a bonus, hanging it like a kite in the breeze and doing vertical landings down on to a workbench was a lot of fun! With the colder weather coming around the corner, I'm looking forward to flying it indoors to keep my thumbs from getting rusty over the winter. I wish there had been more than one battery included, and as soon as they become available I will get some more so that I can have them charged beforehand. Being able to switch from a monoplane to a biplane was pretty cool too, in a sea of Vapors and Embers a biplane really stands out!

Pros:
Multiple Airframes
Snap and Fly
Excellent Crash Survivability

Cons:
Only One Battery
Slow Charger

Check them out at your local hobby shop or online at Tower Hobbies!

Last edited by Angela H; Sep 29, 2011 at 05:20 AM..

Discussion

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Old Oct 04, 2011, 10:38 AM
That's so classic you.
Generic Member's Avatar
United States, NC, Stokesdale
Joined Jul 2006
344 Posts
Looks like a lot of fun! Thanks for the in-depth review!
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Old Oct 04, 2011, 04:44 PM
Time For Me To Fly!
Get Real's Avatar
Illinois
Joined Feb 2006
4,963 Posts
I got to check these out a while back when the local hobbytown usa got them in. Im not into the micro planes myself but they were easy to fly and the modular power pod system set up was neat and worked really well. Should be good for beginners or those that fly indoors and like micro planes.

Flyzone Überlites At Hobby Town USA Orland Park Overview And Flight Demo (3 min 40 sec)
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Old Oct 05, 2011, 03:27 AM
Sopwith Camel's Cousin
Between my tx and crashed aircraft
Joined Mar 2006
3,791 Posts
100+ post thread on Uberlites over in the Micro RTF forum:
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1486246
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Old Oct 05, 2011, 11:12 AM
I Like Deraring
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Canada, ON, Guelph
Joined Jan 2008
1,006 Posts
Re slow battery charge:

My chargers light does not go off too easily, I have to wiggle the battery on the charger in order to tell if it's done... The charge times are pretty quick if you give it a little wiggle (and then the light will go out)...
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Old Oct 07, 2011, 01:41 AM
IT MUST HAVE AILERONS
Joined Oct 2011
63 Posts
My review of the Uberlite planes

I already own a Night Vapor which is well made, functions flawlessly and can take a lot of abuse such as mid airs and unscheduled contact with gym walls and floors. I have not had a chance to fly my Uberlite bi-plane, but the mono-plane flies beautifully.....when it flies. It has better penetration when flying into a slight breeze than the Night Vapor when flying outdoors.

Minor crashes (that wouldn't phase the Night Vapor) can cause the Uberlite power pod to part company with the airframe and sometimes the battery to part company with the receiver, and when I put it back together the battery is dead.

The battery charger works intermittently depending on the mood it is in.

The delicate carbon fibre propeller was terribly out of balance causing the motor and gearbox the vibrate excessively. I lessened the vibration by putting scotch tape on the backside of the light blade.

The delicate prop broke after only a few minor impacts with the gym floor. The weakest point of the prop is right at the hub where it should be the strongest.

One of the struts on the bi-plane airframe is considerably longer than the other causing the plane to sit cocked off to one side when it is sitting on the floor on it's landing gear.

The landing gear should be carbon fibre like on the Night Vapor. The carbon fibre gear on the Night Vapor is stiffer than the spindly music wire gear on the Uberlites which is too springy and causes a lot of nose overs on landing unless one does it perfectly.

The rudder/elevator stick on the transmitter has a sticky spot when pushed all the way forward and to the right.

Fit and finish is not at the level of Parkzone or E-flite products.

I personally think Hobbico needs to re-think the Uberlites. I cannot in clear conscience recommend Uberlites, especially to beginners.
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Old Oct 08, 2011, 04:02 PM
killickb
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The Villages. Florida
Joined Jan 2005
1,234 Posts
Agree that quality and design are so so except for push rod connect which is innovative and seems to work though I prefer some adjustment in this area. But why did they have to use that stupid magnetic battery set up instead of using the micro plug that all other micro flyers use and for which many cell options are available --- marketing at its best! Am definitely going to try and solder or adhere a short battery lead to the assembly.

I am sure that mounting /removing that power pod one will eventually break one of the actuator leads -- heck I even do it on my own designs that use mag actuators and I don't have to grab anything in that area.

Haven't broken a prop yet but mine was at least in balance. The variable downthrust at varying throttle settings (because the plastic bends) is interesting!!

A quick way into indoor but there are better solutions around.
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Old Oct 08, 2011, 05:59 PM
IT MUST HAVE AILERONS
Joined Oct 2011
63 Posts
To heap insult on injury, Hobby Wholesale (in Canada) wants $11.00 for an Uberlite replacement prop. I plan to try a Night Vapor prop instead. If the pitch is not enough I may try to heat the prop up and give the blades a twist to increase the pitch.
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Old Oct 10, 2011, 12:29 PM
killickb
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The Villages. Florida
Joined Jan 2005
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I think the battery supplied with these has a 9mm Bahoma connector set so you could buy extras from Plantraco who have a 90mah single cell --- no 65mah as supplied with the Uberlites.
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Old Oct 10, 2011, 12:33 PM
killickb
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The Villages. Florida
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Sorry, it maybe the 10mm Bahoma.
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Old Oct 11, 2011, 11:01 AM
ED3
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USA, CA, Los Angeles
Joined Aug 2007
749 Posts
i have been eyeballing this one since it came out, i need start selling a few more planes

cool vid

ed
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Old Oct 11, 2011, 07:25 PM
Sopwith Camel's Cousin
Between my tx and crashed aircraft
Joined Mar 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killickb View Post
Sorry, it maybe the 10mm Bahoma.
I remember measuring 8mm between the centers of the Uberlite magnets,
so fitting to a 5mm or 10mm Bahoma may need a bit of hacking.
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Old Oct 12, 2011, 09:52 PM
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United States, KY, Louisville
Joined Sep 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Mulcahy
It's a great little design, and is actually proportional to a certain extent.
How proportional are the controls? Video?
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Old Oct 12, 2011, 09:54 PM
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Oak Ridge, NC
Joined Jun 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hugocraft View Post
How proportional are the controls? Video?
On the ground it doesn't look like much, but once it's in the air (with a little wind over the surfaces) it's actually pretty smooth.

I don't have any video of the control surfaces, but it would be hard for me to get it in flight anyway.
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Old Oct 16, 2011, 11:20 PM
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United States, IL, Rockford
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These were recalled at my local LHS with no word why. Anyone know?
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