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Volantex RC Ranger EX Review

Purpose Built FPV Platform

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Introduction


Wingspan: 78.8" (20000mm)
Length: 46.5" (1180mm)
Motor: 3715/1000Kv Outrunner
ESC: 40A Switch mode BEC
Servos: (4) 9g, (2) 9g MG
Battery: 3S - 4S 2200mAH - 8000mAH
Website: http://www.volantexrc.com

The Ranger EX is a purpose built FPV plane with loads of design features. It has one mission and that is to carry any type of video/flying gear you could want. The large fuselage can carry high capacity batteries for extended flight times and the 78.8" wing gives it glider like performance.

When I was first reading about the Ranger I noticed the array of places to mount a camera, pan/tilt module, autopilot, or anything else you could want. I had been wanting a new FPV plane that would give me long flight times and the Ranger looked exactly like what I wanted.

What's in the Box

When I opened the box the contents were well packed and I found no damage to any of the parts. The tail and aileron servos were already installed and they give you the servos to install yourself for the flaps. All the hardware was there and it looked great. I liked the extras you get like the camera bubble and the fact that the motor and ESC is already installed as well. This should make for a quick build.

Assembly

The manual is not written all that well and they show steps that do not need to be done, but the photos are fairly clear and it's easy enough to follow. There's really not much to do to get this plane built so it's not such a big deal anyway.

The first thing I did was installed the wheels onto the landing gear and then attached the landing gear to the bottom of the fuselage. With the gear on, you can see just how much room you have underneath for a camera.

Next I installed the horizontal and vertical stabilizers. The vertical stab sets on top of the horizontal and then they both set on the fuse and are secured with screws from the bottom. Everything fits great here and makes for a solid tail section with no glue. Once installed you can connect the rudder and elevator pushrods to their control surfaces.

Then I installed the flaps. These are optional, but they give you the servos for them and I wanted to use them. The flaps need to be cut free from the foam holding them level. Use a sharp hobby knife and carefully cut them free.

Then you can installed the flap servos and the control horns. The screws provided were too short so I found a set in my screw bin that worked. With the flaps installed I connected the linkages for the ailerons and flaps and set the wing on the fuselage for a dry fit. The long carbon tube seems plenty strong and the wing has a hard plastic cover that goes over the middle section helping to join the two halves together. The wing screws onto the fuse from the top with 4 bolts. Then I installed the prop on the motor.

That's all there is to this very simple build. All the servo leads end up under the wing where you can use Velcro to mount your receiver. There is so much space inside the fuselage so installing your battery and other gear is no problem. Check the CG with your battery placement. I added a Velcro strap to secure my battery.

Features

Since this is a purpose built FPV plane I wanted to talk about some of the features of the plane before we get into the flying portion.

Mounting Options

The manual shows 4 positions to mount cameras. On top of the wing, on top of the canopy, forward facing in the nose, and underneath the fuse. There is also a hole in the fuse behind the landing gear where you could place a downward facing camera as well. I chose to use a Sony 770 CCD cam in the nose and mount a GoPro camera under the fuse to record with. You can also setup a pan/tilt module on top of the canopy. The tail has a platform on top with an access hole so you can mount a video transmitter or GPS module away from the rest of the electronics. Options galore!

Bubble Leveler

The wing top plate has a bubble level built in. This is brilliant! It can aid you when setting up your camera forward direction or when calibrating gyros and accelerometers on your flight board.

Battery Bay

The battery bay is huge! We're talking 4.5" wide by 10" long. You can fit some serious capacity batteries inside. I've been running 4S 8000mAH Lipos and I can fit TWO inside if I wanted!

Canopy Hatch

I've seen some other planes where you have to unscrew the top hatch to get to your batteries. With the Ranger, you get a plastic latch in the front the canopy that snaps shut and stays shut. It can be tricky at first to release, but when you get it, you'll appreciate the ease of use over using bolts. They also provide the hatch with a black top cover that snaps onto the hatch to offer a sleeker look. WARNING: Don't leave your black canopy in the hot sun. Mine melted and was ruined after leaving it in the sun at the field for an hour or so.

Flying

Taking off is straightforward, add some power and the tail will lift, keep it straight with the rudder and start pulling up with the elevator. The Ranger lifts off easy and takes to the sky smoothly. On the first flight get some altitude before relaxing the elevator. The pusher motor configuration can cause the nose to pitch down so you don't want be trimmed down and then release the elevator and have it nose over into the dirt.

My first flights were with no flight controller to get a feel for it. It handles well and performed exactly how I would expect. High bank tight turns are easy and you can add some slight rudder input to stay coordinated. The long wings are like a glider and makes the plane lightly loaded so when you pull the power off, it floats and floats. I bet I could thermal this thing in the right conditions. The downside to the long wings is that they flex quite a bit under varying loads. Pull up into a loop and you'll see the wings bow, do a full throttle run down the runway in turbulence and you'll notice the wings bouncing up and down. If this were an aerobat, I would have a problem with it, but for its intended purpose I'm not expecting it to be stiff like a 3D plane. Full throttle should only be used for aggressive climb outs. This plane is at home cruising at half power or less.

I've been running 4S 8000mAH Lipos through it and on 4 cells, the power is insane. I would recommend upgrading to a larger ESC with a higher rated BEC or add on a separate BEC if using 4 cells. I measured 39A static on the stock prop with this setup. That said, 3 cells is still plenty of power to climb out well, even when loaded with gear. I just had plenty of 4S packs and no 3S batteries in that large of a capacity so that's what I went with.

The flaps are not terribly effective, but I still use them to help with some extra drag due to the glide ratio. If you need to land in a short field with no wind, you may even need to slip it slightly to get it down. It just flys that good. I've done wheel landings and 3 pointers with the Ranger and it handles them in stride. It looks really good coming in and cranking the nose up for a 3 pointer. The main gear is strong enough to take on rough terrain and hard landings, but it is hard to have a bad landing with this thing. The ground handling is great too with the steerable tail wheel. If you fly off grass, you may want larger wheels unless the field is nicely groomed.

After my initial test flights, I loaded up my GoPro and FPV camera along with the video transmitter and the 41AP Light Autopilot system. I wanted to see what it was like to fly the Ranger as it was intended, FPV style. I'm using the Sony WD770 camera sticking out of the camera port in the nose connected to an ImmersionRC 600mW 5.8Ghz transmitter. My ground station is the 7" Black Pearl diversity rx/monitor combo along with the Ziess Cinemizers OLED video goggles. Flying the Ranger with this setup is pure joy. I can clearly tell what the plane is doing and feel connected to it just like I was in the pilots seat. The first day out I was able to Chase Jim Graham around with his Penguin. It was just like flying a fighter pilot game on a computer. Trying to keep his plane in my "sights" in the center of the screen. It sure is addictive as I cannot wait to go and do it again. The fun just keeps coming too, the Ranger responds to my controls instantly. I can crank and bank and buzz the deck in complete control. I could fly like this all day, and with the 8000mAH Lipo, I have been getting over 20 minute flights times with 30-40% left in the pack. I am super happy with this setup.

Photos

Video

Conclusion

The Ranger EX is my first purpose built FPV plane. I've converted other planes to FPV and flown quite a bit of copters that way. It's great to have features designed to make it easy. I like that the Ranger has tons of space for gear and allows for a clean installation, but also that its easy to access the gear when you want to. Having this many camera options on a plane is awesome and the long flight times are something you don't appreciate until you have it. The quality of the airframe and the included electronics met my expectations. Plus, the Ranger just looks cool sitting on the runway ready for its next adventure. If you're looking for a purpose built plane to try or continue FPV flying, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Ranger EX.

Pros

  • Quick build, no glue assembly
  • Easy access battery hatch
  • Multiple camera mounting options
  • Cavernous fuselage for large batteries and flight gear
  • Great flying characteristics

Cons

  • Wings are a little flexible when pushing the speed up
  • Canopy cover will melt if left in the sun

Discussion

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Old Jul 10, 2014, 04:26 PM
Shut up and fly
papabatman's Avatar
United States, CO, Firestone
Joined Jun 2008
10,912 Posts
Warning hinges will fail

WARNING ELEVATOR HINGE WILL FAIL
TAPE OR REHINGE ALL CONTROL Surfaces
ask me how i know they even have a warning on there web site fpv models.
after that this thing is great love it
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Last edited by papabatman; Oct 29, 2014 at 03:17 PM.
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Old Jul 10, 2014, 05:06 PM
RCG Staff Member
Jason Cole's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Oct 2003
6,147 Posts
That's a good idea. If you don't put in real hinges, be sure you do not fly it hard with steep dives and lots of speed. Also check your hinges from time to time and this should be done as part of your preflight checks.
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Old Jul 10, 2014, 05:13 PM
Shut up and fly
papabatman's Avatar
United States, CO, Firestone
Joined Jun 2008
10,912 Posts
sorry no. not true. less then 15min less then half throttle just putting alone she ripped. jason at fpv model had to replace my whole plane manufacturer has been informed of this weak spot
http://www.fpvmodel.com/757-3-ranger...ier-_g583.html
Notice: The joints for the control surfaces need to be reinforced before flying.

sorry i don't mean to say anything bad but this is very important.
i reall like flying this gentle giant.
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Last edited by papabatman; Jul 10, 2014 at 05:41 PM.
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Old Jul 10, 2014, 05:13 PM
Registered User
Joined Mar 2014
67 Posts
I understand ReadyMadeRC will be selling the RangerEX

Do you know when? Do you know who else sells the RangerEX?

I am considering making a purchase through Alibaba as i can acquire the PnP version for ~$233 delivered through them

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

E115
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Old Jul 10, 2014, 05:15 PM
Shut up and fly
papabatman's Avatar
United States, CO, Firestone
Joined Jun 2008
10,912 Posts
video at about 2:04


fpv models is very nice stand up company i recommend them highly
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Last edited by papabatman; Jul 25, 2014 at 06:17 PM.
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Old Jul 10, 2014, 05:39 PM
RCG Staff Member
Jason Cole's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Oct 2003
6,147 Posts
There are several US companies looking into these. I'm not sure who will be handling it, but we'll post it up as soon as we get word of it.
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Old Jul 10, 2014, 07:25 PM
Registered User
Joined Jul 2014
1 Posts
Looks like a great FPV airplane. Definitely a step up on the old Raptor from VolantexRC. Anybody hear anything about the Raptor V2?
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 06:42 AM
Registered User
Joined Jun 2014
231 Posts
Yeah I'm hesitating between a Raptor V2 or the Ranger Ex too. I think the ranger EX looks cooler.

I have a Ratpr V1 with 1.6 wings, I'm still trying to figure out how the flight characteristics (especially flight times) compare between the three planes before I make a decision.

Eg. If I use the same battery for the three of them, which one will be able to fly for the longest amount of time, assuming stock configuration?
FPV Raptor V1 1.6m wings
FPV Raptor V2 2m wings
EX Ranger
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 10:17 AM
DFC~ We Do Flyin' Right
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USA, GA, Atlanta
Joined Nov 2008
15,104 Posts
Looks cool!
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 06:01 PM
Imperial Archadian Ministry
Jυđgє Gคbrคηŧђ's Avatar
United States, TX, Mission Bend
Joined Jul 2010
118 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Element115 View Post
I understand ReadyMadeRC will be selling the RangerEX

Do you know when? Do you know who else sells the RangerEX?

I am considering making a purchase through Alibaba as i can acquire the PnP version for ~$233 delivered through them

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

E115
Besides fpvmodel, Cambria Hobby sells them.
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Old Jul 11, 2014, 06:08 PM
Shut up and fly
papabatman's Avatar
United States, CO, Firestone
Joined Jun 2008
10,912 Posts
and there in the USA too good find
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Latest blog entry: Fpv summit
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Old Jul 12, 2014, 03:30 AM
Registered User
Arxangel's Avatar
Bulgaria, Sofia-grad, Sofia
Joined Feb 2012
2,067 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dyno Hobby View Post
Looks like a great FPV airplane. Definitely a step up on the old Raptor from VolantexRC. Anybody hear anything about the Raptor V2?
Quote:
Originally Posted by cantremember View Post
Yeah I'm hesitating between a Raptor V2 or the Ranger Ex too. I think the ranger EX looks cooler.

I have a Ratpr V1 with 1.6 wings, I'm still trying to figure out how the flight characteristics (especially flight times) compare between the three planes before I make a decision.

Eg. If I use the same battery for the three of them, which one will be able to fly for the longest amount of time, assuming stock configuration?
FPV Raptor V1 1.6m wings
FPV Raptor V2 2m wings
EX Ranger
Well, here are the reviews, you can compare, but the Raptor V2 should be able to pull off a longer flight with the same battery, after all it will be twice as light.

Raptor V2: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2149067

Ranger EX: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2141115
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Old Jul 13, 2014, 02:20 AM
Israel Montoya
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Joined Jan 2007
393 Posts
FAA criminalises FPV and the RC plane industry in the USA

Rant: FAA criminalises FPV and the RC plane industry in the USA (19 min 3 sec)
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Old Jul 13, 2014, 02:35 PM
Pro Bro # 2398
GassPasser's Avatar
BoonVegas, Indiana
Joined Dec 2005
702 Posts
wow,the FAA are idiots. i was just thinking of trying FPV.
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