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Esprit Model Pulsar 4E ARF Electric Sailplane Mini Review With 156.75" Wingspan

Kirk is an active competition sailplane pilot who practices his flying on at least a weekly basis as weather allows. He flew and shared with me his thoughts on his new Esprit Model Pulsar 4E for this Mini Review.

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Introduction

My friend, Kirk S, is a fellow member of the Modesto Radio Control Club which has a focus of flying sailplanes, electric sailplanes and electrics in general. Kirk is one of our competition pilots with thermal duration for sailplanes and electric sailplanes. Kirk recently purchased the Pulsar 4E from Esprit Model, and I was on hand to see her maiden flights where she flew majestically right from the first toss. Kirk agreed to work with me on a mini-review of his Pulsar 4E so we could share information about this beautiful addition to the Pulsar line of electric sailplane models. The Pulsar 4E uses the Mark Drela AG 26 modified airfoil design recommended for 3 meter and larger thermal duration wingspans. Like the earlier, smaller members of the Pulsar family the sailplane is an extremely light, high performance model. The wing is balsa built up and carbon fiber and Kevlar D-box design that uses carbon fiber faced balsa ribs with a carbon fiber trailing edge. The use of transparent Ultracoat for covering the wings and tail structures make them light, strong and beautiful to look at, especially in the sky on a sunny day. The 3-piece wing and 2-piece conventional tail assemble and disassemble quickly at the field for ease of transportation and storage. The nose cone is secured in the fuselage by tight fit and with one bolt and holds the power system including the battery. The Pulsar line of planes come as true ARFs meaning the parts are built and ready to have the motor, ESC and servos installed. We will cover that briefly then get to the flying.


Wingspan:156.57"
Wing Area:1620 sq in
Weight:40 oz. empty
Wing Loading:7-7.5 oz/sqft
Airfoil:AG 26 modified
Length:69"
Servos:6 Hitec MG servos
Transmitter:Futaba T14MZAP
Receiver:Futaba R6008HS
Battery:Venom 4-cell 3500mAh 30C LiPo
Motor:NeuMotors 1509 1Y
ESC:Phoenix IceLite 100
Manufacturer:Vladimir's Models, Ukraine
Available From:Esprit model
Price:$1,125.00

Kit Contents

Kit contents

  • Assembled center wing section
  • Assembled left & right wing sections
  • Assembled horizontal stabilizer with attached elevator
  • Assembled vertical stabilizer and attached rudder
  • Kevlar pod and separate nose cone
  • Carbon Fiber tail boom
  • All required hardware









Items Kirk Purchased or Used to Complete the Sailplane

Items needed to complete the Pulsar 4E

  • NeuMotor 1509/1Y Brushless Inline motor
  • Phoenix IceLite 100 Castle creations ESC
  • Aeronaut Cam 16 x 10 folding propellers
  • BB Aluminum Spinner 36/6/8
  • Dean Connectors
  • Four HS-5085 MG Hitec servos for flaps and ailerons
  • One HS-5055 MG Hitec servo for rudder
  • One Hitec flat aileron servo with Mounting tabs cut off for elevator
  • Futaba transmitter T14MZAP
  • Futaba receiver R6008HS 8 channel
  • Bulk servo wire for extensions (Harnesses made by Kirk)
  • Deans Mini Connectors for the servo extensions

Tools

  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Assorted screwdrivers
  • Thin CA

Special Features

  • Control Surfaces: Ailerons, Elevator, Rudder and Flaps
  • Tight covering with all seams hand-sealed
  • Gel-coated white Fiberglass/Kevlar fuselage with carbon fiber tapered boom
  • Highly efficient pylon mounted wing
  • Ready-built Balsa/CF/Kevlar D-tube 3-piece plug in wing design
  • Transparent Ultracoat covered wings and tail parts
  • All necessary hardware included
  • Virtually perfect, extremely clean and well made

While we leave the claim of: "Virtually Perfect" up to owners to decide for themselves we found the other claimed special features to be accurate.

Assembly

Wing

The wing arrived in three assembled sections; one center section and a left and right wing section. The center section had the covering removed over two servo boxes where Kirk needed to install flap servos and the wires from the servos to the receiver in the Pod. Kirk used bulk servo wire and Dean mini connectors to make the wire harnesses for the flaps and ailerons which needed wiring in the center wing section and in the outer wing panels. Kirk snaked the wiring through the center wing panel. Kirk soldered the wire harness to the Hitec servos for the flaps and secured the servos in the servo boxes. The flap servos are designed to push the flaps down from above from the top of the wing rather then pull the flaps down from under the wing. He wired and secured the Hitec servos for the ailerons in the outer wing panel. these servos mount under the wing and pull and push the ailerons from there. Kirk trimmed and installed the supplied control horns into the flaps and ailerons and allowed the glue to dry. Kirk then connected the servo arms to the control rods and connected the control rods to the control horns on the respective flap and aileron surfaces. After confirming they were properly installed and working he installed the servo cover plates to complete the wing assembly.

Since the maiden flights Kirk has added some tape to the wing tips for identification and this is seen in the pictures in this review and is an on going process of trial and error. He has added two US flag decals at the ailerons and some tape over the flap servo covers and rib bays.

Fuselage

 NeuMotors 1506-1515
NeuMotors 1506-1515
Motor specsNeuMotors 1509G/1Y w/6.7:1.
Type: Brushless Inrunner
Motor Weight 7.5oz
Diameter: 1.53"
Length: 2.1"
Output Shaft Size: 5mm
BATTERY USED: 4s Lipo
Cont Watts: 750W
Surge Watts: 1500W
Prop Used: Aeronaut 16x10 folding
Max Voltage: 217V
Max RPM: 60,000
Maxon Geared: 6.7:1
Weight:2.3 oz
Shaft Output from gearbox: 6mm
Price: $325.00


 Phoenix IceLite 100
Phoenix IceLite 100
Type: Brushless Motor Controller
Max amps: 100
Maximum Volts: 25 volts/Li-Po 6s
BEC: 5 amp max
Weight: 1.02 ounce
Length: 2.5 "
Width: 1.1"
Height: 0.5"
Brake: Yes
Price: $118.98

The fuselage also came in three parts with a nose cone, center pod and CF boom to the tail. The nose cone is secured into the pod by good fit and the use of one screw. The CF boom was also a tight fit and it was secured in place permanently with thin CA which wicked in between the pod and boom. Kirk bolted in his NeuMotor 1509 1Y inline brushless motor with its Maxon 6.7:1 gear drive into the front of the nosecone. This motor was recommended and sold by Esprit Model. This let Kirk easily obtain a motor matched to the plane. behind the motor he installed a Castle Creation, Phoenix IceLite 100 Amp ESC and for flight he installs a 4-cell Venom 3500 mAh 30C battery pack. He installed a BB 38/6/8mm spinner for folding prop and an Aeronaut 16 x 10 folding prop recommended and sold by Esprit Model. He has added a temporary air scoop to direct cooling air in over the motor. He will replace the current scoop with a prettier air scoop in the future.

The center pod has the wing mount on the top and the wing is secured there with three supplied bolts. These are quality bolts with deep indentations for the screwdriver. As seen in the picture below the pod contains the Futaba receiver and all the connection wires from the receiver and the wing get tucked in there.

Tail

Two servos mount in the vertical stabilizer and one controls the rudder and the other controls the elevator. There is a mount for the tail surfaces on the back of the CF boom. the servos wires go down the boom and Kirk has connectors for the servos to plugs into to connect with the receiver in the pod. The control surfaces bolt on to the connector and assembly and dis-assembly at the field is very quick.

Radio Installation

I have already covered the basics of the radio installation and the wiring harnesses Kirk made as I went through the various sections of the Pulsar 4E. However I do want to touch upon the antenna holders that Kirk purchased from Tower Hobby and installed near the back of the pod where he has located the receiver. The antenna wires and their leads are in those plastic tubes to keep the antennas oriented in two different directions as shown in the picture below.

Completion

The wing bolts on at the field as mentioned before with three bolts and the tail surfaces bolt onto the CF boom. All this is quick and easy. The recommend battery can be adjusted slightly within the nose cone to get the Pulsar 4E to balance on the pilot's preferred C/G point. Per the instructions a range was given for the C/G and Kirk says it balanced right in that range with no adjustments required. He can move the battery slightly forward or backward as he learns at what C/G point the Pulsar 4E flies best.

Flying

Basics

On the first trip to the field Kirk gave the Pulsar 4E a good strong throw forward straight and just slightly above level. The Pulsar 4E responded with a nice level glide. Kirk made a second toss and got an even longer glide and made a slight turn as well. Kirk was happy with her balance and it was now time to fly her with a power climb.

On the days Kirk has flown the Pulsar 4E so far we have had winds of about 10 mph. The Pulsar has handled them without any problem. Flying at a flat thermal field she has maintained altitude very well even on flights that found no ready signs of thermal. She was clearly staying up better than the two meter foamie I was flying in the same air. The AG 26 airfoil flew impressively in those conditions. When thermals cycled through the field Kirk and I saw here wing tip get lifted and pushed away and he circled back and climbed a bit just flying into the lift with the classic kicking up of the tail. He started circling in one thermal and gained altitude as he drifted back with the thermal in the breeze but he bailed out rather than ride that small thermal down field. So far with the conditions available Kirk has been getting the feel for his new sailplane and her handling and she has been responsive to lift, turns and track well and has shown no bad tendencies.

Taking Off and Landing

All flights start with a hand toss. The toss can be made with the motor on or off. While I prefer to toss at an angle just slightly above the horizon and let the sailplane climb from there Kirk prefers to toss at a more upward angle. With power on he tossed the Pulsar and on that first climb she went up as if she was connected to a high speed wench. Climb was only 15 to 20 degrees less than vertical until he started to level her off at altitude before turning off the motor. It was an outstanding climb, nice and straight into the wind that was about 10 miles an hour. Kirk only used about 1/2 throttle on that first climb. Subsequent launches have all been uneventful to date and thus far he says he has only used partial throttle with as little as 1/3 throttle giving a great climb to altitude in about 25-30 seconds. I look forward to updating this review with a new video when Kirk is doing full power launches.

Landings have also been uneventful but then Kirk is a seasoned competitor in Thermal duration and ALES competition as well. Although he has used flaps in a number of other sailplanes he advised that he was surprised just how much control he has with these flaps in controlling both the planes speed and altitude. He is looking for improved consistency in hitting his mark both as time and location. Now its time to practice, practice, practice. All the landings have been nice slow sliding landings in close proximity to himself with little to no slide on landing on the grass. I plan to report back on how his landings progress with practice.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Kirk advised me that he bought this plane for competing in ALES and I suspect he will fly it in other electric duration events that are currently developing. ALES stands for Altitude Limited Electric Soaring. it involves buying a Soaring Circuits Competition Altimeter Cam. (Esprit Model sells this Cam.) It plugs in between the receiver and the ESC. It can be set to shut down with cutoff altitudes of 100m, 150m and 200m. 200m seems to be the most popular altitude for the competitions I have heard about and the competitions often limit the motor run to 200m or 30 seconds which ever comes first. The setting can easily be changed right at the field so the contest could include launches limited to different altitudes. This is an area of competition that is growing fast and the competition guys in our club are really enjoying it. Esprit Model sells the Cam for $49.00 so it isn't very costly to participate in these events if you already have an electric sailplane. Pilots with Radians and other foamies have proven competitive in some of the contests but Kirk is hoping to separate himself from the smaller foamies with his beautiful new Pulsar 4E.

Although Kirk has limited time on his Pulsar 4E so far it has impressed me with its great rate of climb even at half throttle. He has hit the edges of a couple of thermals and has had his wing tip up in the thermal lift as the thermal pushed the Pulsar away from the edge of the lift. The tail kicked up and the nose went down when I saw him turn and fly straight into a thermal into a thermal. As mentioned above so far he has had to fly in 10 mile per hour winds and the Pulsar has handled it as if it were nothing. He has done a loop just for fun and that was captured on the video below.

Is This For a Beginner?

NO! This is a quality built sailplane and its cost reflects that. This sailplane is too darn nice to risk in the hands of a beginner.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery















Downloads

Conclusions Thus Far

The Pulsar 4E imported by Esprit Model is a beautiful example of today's lightweight yet very strong electric sailplanes. When I say beautiful I am talking about form and function as well as appearance. This is a "Mini Review' because of the limited time available to fly the Pulsar 4E thus far. Kirk is still getting to know his glider and his skill and performance with the plane will improve with practice and we will be able to report back in the future about her handling with more detail. As discussed above, I have already seen how well she can climb at only half throttle, and the control the flaps supply for the landing process or for killing altitude when needed. She turns well and has telegraphed some thermals even in breezy conditions. I also appreciate how well the motor, battery and prop work together on this plane as they were recommended to power this sailplane by Esprit Model. Kirk followed their advice and is very happy with the results.

Now admittedly the price of this sailplane makes her limited to those that are willing and can afford to invest the money to buy one. The pilot who buys one is buying quality that should allow the Pulsar 4E to be flown for years to come. This is not for the pilot who wants the flavor of the month and a new plane every 30 days. This is for the pilot who wants to get better as he becomes ever more familiar with his plane. So far, from what I have seen, the Pulsar 4E is such a plane... To be continued. I think this is the start of a "beautiful friendship."

Pluses

  • Beautifully made with strength yet lightness
  • Easy to assemble this ARF sailplane for the experienced pilot
  • Quick to assembly at the field
  • Huge wingspan yet handles as if she were smaller
  • Beautiful finish and color scheme as sold

Minuses

  • She is not a cheap date but quality seldom is
Last edited by Angela H; Aug 03, 2012 at 05:52 AM..

Discussion

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Old Aug 03, 2012, 09:28 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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Reserved for future additions to this ongoing review.
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Old Aug 03, 2012, 09:42 AM
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Nice review Mike. I have the little 3.2M RES sister to her and she too is a beautiful flying machine as are all the Pulsars. I'm looking at the 4M as a full house ALES contest sailplane for a build this winter so this is a timely article. The quality of both the Pulsars and Neu motors are well worth the price. You know you have the best and I think it gives a certain satisfaction and confidence knowing you have good stuff when you step up to the flight line. Esprit is also in this catagory being one of the best vendors for R/C items I have ever dealt with, absolute top shelf all the way.
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Old Aug 04, 2012, 03:21 PM
Balsa + glue + bluesky= fun
leaktech's Avatar
Phoenix AZ USA
Joined Jan 2009
815 Posts
I have a friend that has the 3.6 full house pulsar. He doesn't like the removeable front with the motor and battery. It's awkward to change batteries in a ales contest because it takes a while to unassemble and reassemble between rounds. Everyone has to wait while he gets his pulsar ready. Or he needs to find someone to do his turn timing his flying partner. A battery hatch is much faster than taking your model apart to change the battery.

It is a beautiful flying machine on the ground and in the air.

James
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Old Aug 05, 2012, 03:53 PM
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I agree that the nose setup is a bit clumsy, but no way should it take an excessive amount of time to change out a battery. I've flown in a number of contests with mine and never got jammed up like your friend. Last contest I flew there were 4 Pulsars of various models and everyone was fine on making calls for their flight group. It's not hard to do, only two screws, one for the nose and one for the battery tray and I can do it in a minute or so. A canopy would be nice like on the Pro models, but the nose setup is very workable in it's present form.
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Old Aug 05, 2012, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leaktech View Post
I have a friend that has the 3.6 full house pulsar. He doesn't like the removeable front with the motor and battery. It's awkward to change batteries in a ales contest because it takes a while to unassemble and reassemble between rounds.

It is a beautiful flying machine on the ground and in the air.

James
I have owned probably every single size of the Pulsars. All of them from 2, 2.5, 3.2, 3.6 up to 4m version. Exchange battery pack is absolutely not a big deal. You have to realize for few hours of flying all is needed is one, max two batteries.

My 4m uses 3300mAh 4S pack, with this battery I can do 15-18x 10 seconds climbs. If there is no thermal activity I can glide for 8 minutes easily. 15 x 7min = 105min = 1 hour of flying and usually I get at least few thermals.
After so much time I am sick of flying.

Zb/Esprit Model
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Old Aug 05, 2012, 09:56 PM
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Stockton, Ca. USA
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Battery Change

The nose cone is held in place in the pod by proper fit and one screw. As pointed out one battery should supply all the launches needed for a day of ALES contests (At least the contests they have been holding in CA.) To change the battery is a very quick and simple process. While a hatch is probably quicker, I honestly can't see this as a real issue. Michael Heer
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Old Aug 07, 2012, 12:13 PM
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Canada, ON, Ottawa
Joined Mar 2000
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Can always dispense with the screw altogether and tape the nose cone to the fuselage. Two wraps of electrical tape is more than enough. And you can get white tape so it doesn't show. Been doing this since I got tired of looking in the grass for dropped screws. And if it is good enough given the power of an F5B model...
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Old Aug 09, 2012, 05:29 PM
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Charlotte, NC
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So what is the all up weight ready to fly with the battery in it?
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Old Aug 09, 2012, 08:25 PM
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United States, CA, Modesto
Joined Jan 2008
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Pulsar 4M Battery/Motor Pod

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
Can always dispense with the screw altogether and tape the nose cone to the fuselage. Two wraps of electrical tape is more than enough. And you can get white tape so it doesn't show. Been doing this since I got tired of looking in the grass for dropped screws. And if it is good enough given the power of an F5B model...
On my Pusar 4M electric, I changed the locking screw to the top. I didn't like having to balance the plane on its nose to unlock the motor-battery pod screw on the belly of the plane. The new top position works great. There is so much power in those motors, I would not trust tape to be the only hold on that pod. I guess if you use fresh sticky tape, it might hold. Parasitic drag though, that much tape vs. a little screw.

Once the pod is out the battery change is easy. I do use tape to fasten the battery at the balance point, so it won't slide.

Once the pod is out you can recharge the battery from within the pod without taking it out. That works good too.

Kirk
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Old Aug 10, 2012, 08:51 AM
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The plane has not been weighed so the RTF weight of the plane is not available at this time for me to report.
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Old Aug 15, 2012, 02:05 PM
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wattsup_kz's Avatar
Kalamazoo, MI USA
Joined Aug 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Heer
...she went up as if she was connected to a high speed wench...
Great review, and this part made me smile.
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Old Aug 30, 2012, 08:07 AM
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Gonna have to keep an eye on this one.
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Old Sep 03, 2012, 10:04 PM
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MikeAnderson's Avatar
Kemptville, Ontario, Canada
Joined Dec 2000
413 Posts
Stab mount failure

I just lost my Pulsar 4me when the stab ripped off in flight.

Turns out the carbon fibre stab "v" mount broke away from the fuselage taking the stab with it. The V is completely gone! The control horn is still attached to the clevis but it was ripped from the carbon baseplate that attaches to the stab.

I have to leave town for a week, but I'll post some pics of the failed V mount next weekend when I'm back.

This plane has been prone to stab flutter since day one. After the last episode I installed a new servo and tightened up the linkage and added a few drops of blue threadlock in the clevis threads and the clevis pin/holes. It was as solid as any F5B racer I've had and maybe better.

I think there's some aerodynamic instability with the way the stab is mounted that triggers flutter at only moderate speeds (I saw it on climb-out at 30 seconds to 200M - NOT fast for a sailplane.) I also heard it in a shallow 'dive test'

I just want to know if anyone else is having this issue? I'm trying to gauge if this is a one-time problem with my airframe (#42 BTW) or is there a more widespread issue stemming from the design?

Too bad because it was flying pretty much hands off for the 20 minutes of flight before failure. It really is an excellent airframe, when all the bits stay attached.
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Old Sep 18, 2012, 12:50 AM
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United States, CA, Palo Alto
Joined Jul 2008
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Pulsar Pro is now made by Vladimir's Models, the maker of AVA?
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Last edited by Haoyang Wang; Sep 18, 2012 at 01:03 AM.
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