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Hacker Model Production Super Zoom 2 ARF Review

What's "4D?" 3D with a fourth dimension of fun! Ralph Squillace has the word on the first of two marvelous profile foamies which made their way from the factory in the Czech Republic directly to their new home in Southern California's Mojave Desert.

Splash

Introduction

Wingspan:39.33" (1000mm)
Wing Area:361 sq. in. (23.3 dm2)
All-up Weight:15.5 oz. (390g)
Length:39.75" (1100mm)
Wing Loading (approximate):6 oz/sq. ft. (170g/9.3dm2)
Servos:GWS Naro + D 10-gram digital micro with Du-Bro #932 servo arms
Transmitter:Spektrum DX6i
Receiver:Spektrum AR6110
Battery:Sonic 850mAh 3S 30C lithium-polymer
Motor:Motrolfly DM2210 brushless outrunner; 1080Kv
Propeller:Landing Products/Advanced Precision Composites 10x4.7 electric slow-flyer
ESC:Motrolfly FM-20 20-ampere
Manufacturer:Hacker Model Production a.s., Zahradní 465 270 54 Řevničov, Czech Republic
Catalog Number:HC1302B - yellow
Other Catalog Numbers:HC1302A - orange; HC1302C - blue; HC1302D - red
Available From:RCBaron.com, among others
Average Selling Price (USD):$90-$119.99

January 1, 1990.

As the Twentieth Century entered its final decade and as the former Iron Curtain countries began to shake off the last doldrums of seventy years of Soviet rule, Czech Republic racing pilot, modeler and entrepreneur Karel Hacker founded Hacker Model Production for the purpose of creating ARF model aircraft.

Within ten years, the company moved into a dedicated production facility in the village of Řevničov. By the time Hacker Model Production celebrated its twentieth anniversary in January 2010, the company had grown beyond modeling to include CNC machining and rapid prototyping using laser sintering. In other words, 3D computer data can be rendered layer by layer into a 3D model made of a special resin which sets with exposure to laser light.

Neat stuff, to say the least.

Today, Hacker Model Production's line of model aircraft ranges from simple free-flight models of EPP foam for children up to a 1/3-scale, 100cc Bellanca Super Decathlon. There's also a 1/3-scale model of the El Bandito, Karel Hacker's own full-scale pylon racing plane. If you ever get a hold of a Hacker catalog, that's Karel himself posing with his model.

Airplane accessories abound, such as fiberglass floats for models of all sizes, propellers and machined aluminum spinners. Fast electric ARR offshore racing boats - the Morpheus and the Trinity - and some really interesting accessories such as the "RC BAG," a cold weather transmitter "mitten" are offered as well; ninety percent of the company's total output is exported all over the world.

I'll be reviewing a the first of two models in Hacker's "Top Flyer" range, the Super Zoom 2. It's a profile electric EPP foamie with carbon fiber reinforcement designed for high-alpha "4D" aerobatic fun without the fear of breaking something in a minor crash.

"4D," you ask? So did I and I was lucky enough to find the answer here.

The term was coined by David Kyjovsky, Czech Republic Indoor Aerobatic Champion and designer of Hacker's "Zoom-Zoom" indoor/outdoor profile plane. It refers to duration; the Zoom-Zoom with a similar setup to what we'll be flying here is capable of staying in the air for a "loooooong time." The original Super Zoom followed soon after as did the Super Zoom 2, making this the a refined, third-generation version of the original.

Following on the heels of this review will be one for the Super Zoom XL. Same thing, only bigger. Twenty percent bigger. There are even optional EPP floats (HC1809) which will turn your Super Zoom 2 into a super zoomy seaplane. Just add water.

It's also several notches up the quality scale from the average flat foamie as you'll soon discover.

Shall we begin?

Kit Contents

Yup, that's all there is to the Super Zoom 2. The parts are packaged loosely within the box; the only bags you'll find are the ones containing the hardware and wheel pants.

This little sweetie is going to go together quickly, so let's get started.

Assembly

There's nothing quite like the thrill of getting a notice in your PO box that a nice, large package from the Czech Republic is waiting behind the counter.

In my case, a well-traveled cardboard box with not one but two Hacker Model Production kits was waiting; the second model was the aforementioned, larger Super Zoom XL.

A current Hacker catalog showcasing their rather comprehensive product selection was packed along with the planes. Both models within were packaged in their compact, brightly colored display packaging which I'll touch on briefly.

As someone who's spent a lot of time in marketing, I know that the axiom "you only get one chance to make a good first impression" is absolutely true.

The glossy, full-color printing covers the entire lid; no plain box with a sticker here. Very nice, rich-looking packaging, but random placement of text in both Czech and English along with multiple inverted photos of the Super Zoom 2 - many of which are actually backwards - are a bit distracting.

I point this out constructively only because this is a terrific, beautifully engineered model at a premium price; we're talking around US$120 for this model. Hacker runs with the biggest names in the hobby business; they can both look and read like them with minimal effort.

By "read" I mean lots of poorly translated English in the manual and the catalog; again, I'll only touch upon this for a moment. While not the worst I've seen, it brings up a point I've brought up before: In this day and age of instant global communications, there's no reason not to have a native speaker of English fix the grammar, spelling and syntax before the manuals and other print media go to press.

Since it's unlikely any of us will actually fly the box or instructions, let's move on with a list of what you'll need to assemble its really nice contents and get them in the air:

  • Large bottle of thin CA (regular, not foam-safe)
  • CA accelerator
  • CA debonder
  • Razor knife with new blades (X-Acto #11 or equivalent)
  • #1 Phillips screwdriver
  • Small slotted screwdriver
  • Bubble level, T-square, yardstick or similar straight-edged tool
  • Tape measure or dressmaker's tape
  • Metric ruler
  • Transparent tape
  • Protractor for setting control surface throws since the settings are given in degrees

Here's the onboard equipment as recommended by the factory:

  • Four-channel or greater aircraft radio with end-point adjustment capability
  • Four micro-sized servos and servo extensions
  • 1050Kv brushless motor
  • 18-ampere electronic speed control
  • 10x4.7 electric slow-flyer propeller
  • 730 - 1500mAh 3S lithium polymer battery
  • Three lightweight 9-12" servo extensions (E-flite part numbers EFLREX9L or EFLREX12L or equivalent)
  • 28mm lightweight spinner (Hacker part number HC5320 or equivalent) depending on your choice of motor
  • Y-harness or Futaba dual servo extension depending on your choice of radio

Wing

Start by thoroughly studying the instruction manual. The photos are a bit small and the Czech and English text run together a bit. A few things didn't make sense at first, but closer study cleared things up nicely.

We begin with the rather easy wing assembly and a close-up and personal look at what makes this model so nice.

The Super Zoom 2 is more than a simple flat foamie; the wing is actually molded into a symmetrical airfoil. What's more, take a look at the leading edge:

No, you're not imagining things. The edge is machined in places, not molded.

Along with the CNC-machining of the parts themselves are CNC-applied graphics. No decals here; the colors, while a bit muted, are sharp and clear without a trace of bleeding except for a bit around the blue "invasion stripes" on the underside of the wing.

They're also slightly overdone as far as the amount of paint used in certain areas. I believe this was done intentionally to minimize fading of the graphics over time and handling. Nice idea.

To my way of thinking, a little bit of bleed around a stripe or two is a small price to pay for the weight savings compared to decals, an important consideration on a lightweight model such as this. It also means that you won't have to set aside an evening just to cut out the decals and apply them. The overall look, with its lightning bolt/checkered flag motif, is reminiscent of custom automotive paint jobs of the 1980s here in the US. My wife Lilli really liked the graphics; she said they reminded her of something you might see in a "Speed Racer" cartoon. It's a terrific look which comes off as contemporary...and the finished product has no less than four company logos and the website address. Karel Hacker is proud of his baby.

Another thing you'll notice is the slightly rough surface of the foam parts, a good bit rougher than what you might find on competing models. I'm chalking that up to a practical issue; the sprayed-on graphics need a surface to adhere to.

The first four assembly steps basically complete the wing, namely the careful joining of the halves with thin CA (there are no guide pins or slots to keep the wing in alignment), scoring the underside where indicated in order to insert two of the carbon fiber rods - here's where that straight-edged tool comes in handy - and repeating the same process for the top. I CA'd the lower rod per the manual, but it made scoring the top a bit difficult. When I do the Super Zoom XL, I'll hold off gluing the rods until both are in place and tucked away. Step four calls for cutting out the openings for the aileron servos (more on those a little later on in the show) and we're now done with the wing for the time being.

Fuselage

Most of the fuselage is already done for you; after all, it's a flat piece of foam. Yet once again, Hacker Model Production's attention to quality and detail shine through. Like the wing halves, a great deal of the basic fuselage is machined, notably the nice, rounded upper edge.

You will have to do a bit of work. Simple to be sure, but critical, so be forewarned.

Completing the basic fuselage requires you to glue the outer stiffeners to either side of the fuselage, score each stiffener as was done with the wing and finish by inserting and gluing a carbon fiber reinforcement rod in each.

The critical part is making sure that the stiffener's contour which goes over the wing matches that same contour at the bottom of the fuselage. There are no guide pins, grooves, tabs, nothing. It's up to the builder to get it straight the first time. I carefully tacked down the area around the contour before moving on to gluing the rest of the stiffener.

Scoring the stiffeners for insertion of the CF rods was trickier than doing the wing since the stiffeners are aerodynamically contoured. So, even with the bubble level I'd used earlier serving once more as a guide for the X-Acto knife, the cuts weren't nearly as straight. The cuts will be nearly invisible when you're done, but even with careful application of the CA a little at a time to close the cut, it was far too easy to get a bit of the stuff on my fingers and lift off some of the yellow paint on the stiffeners at the same time. Thin CA works so well on this material because it wicks throughout the matrix of the foam and binds like crazy when it sets because of it. Keeping your fingers away from the area you'e gluing seems logical enough, but the aforementioned wicking action pretty much assures some glue and paint on your fingers, The mix of glue and paint required quite a bit of CA debonder to get the stuff off of my fingers.

I'll jump ahead to the upcoming review of the Super Zoom XL to tell you what I did on that model and what I should have done here.

I made the cuts a little at a time guided by an ordinary ruler. Once the CF rods were tucked away, I sprayed on some kicker before applying the CA. Marvelous! No sticky fingers.

Suggestion to Hacker Model Production: Is there any engineering or structural reason that the CF rods can't be inserted through the opposite side before the stiffeners are glued to the fuselage? This way, there would be no trace of the rods being inside the stiffeners and no need to cut into a visible area. If it's feasible, you may wish to test a model assembled thus and if it's strong enough, to insert an addendum with later production runs.

Installing the wing is next. You'll get a real good idea of how strong and flexible this EPP foam material really is when you bend the wing mounting tab along the bottom of the fuselage back to allow the wing to be inserted. It bends like a "pool noodle."

Note: Don't try this with a Styrofoam model lest you want two pieces where before there was but one.

You'll need to triangulate the wing; now's the time to get out that measuring tape or dressmaker's tape and oh so carefully measure the lateral distance between the wing root and tip (I measured along the reinforcement spar) and triangulate the wingtip with the rear of the fuselage. To put it another way, SOP with any ARF.

Once you're satisfied with the setting of the wing, glue and kick away. Complete the wing installation by opening the hardware bag, removing the nicely machined hardwood landing gear retainer and gluing it in place.

Tail

The tail assembly begins with the one-piece horizontal stabilzer/elevator and the easy measuring, cutting and installing of what the manual refers to as a "spruce." In actuality, it's the elevator joiner and appears to be made of spruce. It's the precise thickness of the elevator halves; when you're finished installing it, you'll have two nicely aligned elevator halves with minimal work.

It's time for the completed stab to take its place at the rear of the Super Zoom 2...and making things nice and easy are this model's first and only guidance tabs! Triangulating the stab with the wingtips is a snap; once everything is nice and straight, tack it down.

We're only twelve simple steps into the assembly and already we have what looks like a darn nice looking 3D profile plane, or "4D" as the case may be. It's pretty stiff as well; the airframe at this stage can be bent and twisted a bit, but it will be more than firm enough to stay straight when it's in service.

The fuselage was slightly bent after all the handling, but some careful pressure brought it back in line.

Installation of the rudder (the biggest by relative size I've ever seen on a model plane) completes the basic airframe. Before it gets glued to the fuselage, you're instructed to install the custom-fit servo horn.

Custom-fit?

Yes. In a real flash of innovation, the Super Zoom 2's servo horns are CNC-routed from a sheet of fiberglass, each fitted to their respective positions on the model. The manual shows the correct horn and its part number to use, but you'll have to refer back to the parts list at the beginning of the manual to see which is the correct number.

You'll need to make your own aileron, elevator and rudder pushrods from the supplied CF rods, metal rods with their Z-bend and lengths of shrink wrap tubing. I would have liked to have seen a 100% CF pushrod setup, but a dab of CA at either end of the snug-fitting shrink wrap and a quick pass with a cigarette lighter made a strong, lightweight pushrod.

There's an engineering drawing which shows how everything goes together, but the only dimension given was the 30mm between the z-bend and the end of the metal rod. No indication how long the final assembly should be.

Another oddity reared its head: Only one of the metal rods was the length specified in the manual. The other three were too long, but don't trim them. I did so and wound up with an elevator pushrod which was nearly too short.

Time now for the aileron servos. Use the longest arm packaged with your servo for maximum aileron travel. Take the arm and install one of Hacker's beautiful ez-connector clamps.

These little gems are the nicest I've ever seen in any model. They're held in place by little one-way permanent "star lock" washers. No screw posts! Making the clamps even nicer is s neat little tab which helps hold the pushrod in place. The clamping screw pushes on a spacer tab instead of directly on the pushrod, spreading the clamping load over a greater area. The only thing which would make them perfect would be a socket head screw instead of a combination slotted/phillips. I couldn't get a German-made Wiha screwdriver to properly bite the phillips slots, but a small slotted screwdriver allowed me to cinch the screws down easily. I've griped about so-so hardware in other models; this is the first time I've praised it.

Just be careful when installing the teeny tiny little retainer washers. They're necessarily a tight fit and if you lose one, no spares are provided. Consider using a white bath towel as a temporary work surface. If you drop a washer, it won't bounce to kingdom come and you'll be able to see it easily. I learned this rather quickly, by the way.

Should you wish to use these clamps on another project of your own, your friendly neighborhood Hacker dealer can get a four-pack of them for you. Just ask for the "Mini Push Rod Connector," catalog number HC5605B.

As far as the servos used in this application are concerned, a word from our sponsor is warranted.

Thanks to the efforts of RCGroups author par excellence Michael Heer, the good folks at Grand Wing System USA in City of Industry, California provided the servos for this series of reviews on these great Hacker planes.

The Super Zoom 2 is about to be fitted with a full compliment of GWS Naro+D digital servos. These are programmable, true digital servos with some nice specs:

Weight:.35 oz. (10g)
Operating Voltage:4.8v - 6.0v
Speed:.16 second/60deg@4.8v; .13 second/60deg@6.0v
Torque:17 oz./in. (1.6kg/cm)@4.8v; 21 oz./in (2.0kg/cm)@6.0v
Resolution:12 bit/4096 steps
Dimensions:.87x.43x.98" (22.2x11.0x24.95mm)
Connector:Standard three-wire Futaba or JR
Catalog ID:GWSVDNRTJ
Manufacturer:Grand Wing Servo-Tech Co. Ltd., 153, Sec. 2, Datung Road., Shijr City, Taipei 221, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Distributor:Grand Wing System USA Inc., 138 South Brent Circle, City of Industry, California USA 91789-3050
Average Selling Price (USD):$20.00

Naturally, there's a thread here at RCGroups dedicated to this servo which you can find here.

Installing said servos requires you to wrap a bit of regular transparent tape around the body before installing them; this will protect them from the little dab of CA which helps hold them in place. The foam does most of the work.

Earlier, I was instructed to create aileron pushords...but I'd neglected to make the elevator and rudder pushrods. The drawing is that of a generic pushrod, but part numbers for all the CF rods are given, so remember to do all four rods while you're there on step 19.

Once the issue with the pushrods was settled, it was on to the beautifully machined hardwood motor mount. Two degrees of offset are machined in for proper thrust angle and the manual is clear on this. Once glued together, the mount is glued in place...careful of the offset!

Before mounting the motor to its backing plate per step 28, take a moment and review the photo in step 30 so that you can properly orient the motor. The mount isn't square and the manual fails to mention this. This resulted in some extra work I wouldn't have needed to do had the manual pointed this out.

As for my choice of motor for the Super Zoom 2, I turned to the gentleman whose products I wrote about in my last review, found here.

Ken Young is the owner of Subsonic Planes in Omaha, Nebraska, the North American distributor of the Motrolfly brand of motors and speed controls as well as his Sonic "house brand" li-pos. Ken is a good friend of RCGroups.com and one heck of an expert in putting together perfectly matched power systems for any application. During the course of the above-linked review, Ken and I discussed the possibility of providing power setups for the Super Zoom 2 and the upcoming review for the Super Zoom XL. If you need electric power, Ken is your go-to guy.

It wasn't long after my last review was posted than the power setup for the Super Zoom 2 hit my doorstep. I'd made the mistake of asking Ken to ship the motor with the shaft reversed based on my misinterpretation of the photo in step 28 of the motor in its mount. Ken has the tools to do the job right and if you need a reversed shaft for your particular application, Ken will gladly do so for you upon request.

Problem was, reversing the shaft wasn't the thing to do in this case, so Ken cheerfully agreed to set things right if I'd return the motor to him.

After returning from a week in Georgia visiting some old friends, the motor (now with more frequent flyer miles than I have) was waiting for me at the post office.

Ken's custom-made setup for the Super Zoom 2 consists of the following components:

  • Motrolfly DM2210 1080Kv motor
  • Motrolfly FM-20 20-amp ESC
  • Sonic 850mAh 30C 3S lithium-polymer battery

This setup proved to be a perfect match for this application; this same motor with a speed rating of 2200Kv was used in the above-linked review of the "Fast Jet Power System." In that pusher prop application, I got more than 85 MPH (137km/h) out of a Multiplex FunJET "test mule." This slower, torquier version is designed to swing a big prop, just the ticket for 3D work as opposed to all-out speed. Don't worry about having to drag out the soldering iron; Subsonic's components are all plug-and-play with W.S. Deans Ultra Plugs for the battery and gold-plated 3.5mm bullet connectors for the motor. No guesswork; just connect everything and you're that much closer to flying!

Hacker provides 3mm screws of the proper length to mount the motor of your choice and recommends the use of all four screws. Two of the screw holes were incorrectly offset, possibly owing to the motor, but a bit of careful carving with the X-Acto solved that issue. Four wood screws secure the backing plate to the mount, but you'll want to consider pre-installing the screw beneath where the leads exit the motor. In this particular case, the leads extend directly over the screw head and installing the screw after the mount was in place would have been difficult at best.

Radio Installation

We're getting close to getting finished and flying, so on to the easy installation of the Motrolfly FM-20 ESC. It really is easy; all you need to do is cut an opening slightly smaller than the ESC and the foam does the rest.

My first experience with Motrolfly motors and speed controls was one of the most positive I've ever had since joining RCGroups and my second was shaping up to be just as positive. These are affordable, beautifully engineered and constructed components which are the equal of pretty much anything on the market.

A review of the FM-20 speed control and DM2215 motor as opposed to the DM2210 used in this project can be found here.

Here are the specs for the ESC:


Maximum Current:20 amperes
Operating Voltage:6-12 cell Ni-Cd or Ni-MH; 2-3 cell lithium-polymer
BEC:2 ampere
Weight:21g; 25.5g with connectors
Manufacturer:Shenzhen DBY Technology Co. Ltd., 2nd Floor, Building 22, BaoTian Industrial Zone, XiXiang, BaoAn District, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
Available From:Subsonic Planes, 7914 West Dodge Road, Omaha, Nebraska USA 68114-3417
Price (USD):$27.95

Once the ESC is in place, we're getting close to finishing things up. Make cuts along the sides of the fuselage for the rudder and elevator servos and their extensions and open up the fuselage for the receiver. I used a couple of E-flite 9" extensions; your personal setup may require a different length. A third 9" extension connected the ESC to the receiver. As for my choice of receiver, there was no question of my going spread-spectrum since the last thing I wanted dangling off the back of such a lightweight plane was a 75 MHz antenna lead. So, in went a Spektrum AR6100 park flyer receiver bound to a Spektrum DX6i six-channel transmitter. This is essentially the same receiver E-flite packages with their Blade 400 3D RTF helicopter; the only difference is the pin configuration. The AR6100 has top-mount servo pins while the AR6100e installed in the Blade 400 uses an end pin configuration. I almost went with one of these, but the manual shows a top pin receiver, so I followed suit.

I'd planned on using separate channels for the ailerons, but the servo leads wouldn't reach without two more extensions. Instead, I used a Futaba FUTM4130 dual servo extension I had on hand from a previous project. It's less cumbersome than a Y-harness and works as well.

After I tucked the servo leads into the cuts, I dabbed just a little bit of CA to help close some of the wider areas of the cuts. You aren't prompted to do so in the manual, but I thought it would be a good idea.

Completion

All that's left at this point is the installation of the landing gear, prop, battery and the setting of the control throws. I'd jumped ahead while waiting for the motor and I installed the landing gear a bit out of sequence to save time.

Begin by getting out the sandpaper in order to round off the edges of the wheel fairings. With all of the other machining evident on this model, I was surprised to see this step. It may be because the fairings are too small and/or delicate to machine, but the foam sands easily and neatly and you'll have some nicely rounded fairings with little effort.

Next, slice the strut fairings as indicated. The wheels go onto the gear next and are retained by the supplied plastic tubing which must be cut into four 5mm lengths. These ultra-light wheels are worth a write-up by themselves and are available under Hacker part number HC5260 with a 1.6mm center hole or HC5260A with a 2.1mm center hole.

No floppy foam or swirly little flower cart wheels here. Instead, Hacker provides one-piece, five-spoke wheels with treads on the tires, yet. Instead of evoking images of flowers in springtime, these wheels look like something you'd find on a full-scale BMX bicycle. I got lucky; my parts bag had two extra wheels which will definitely find a place on a future project.

You'll need to use a good, sharp X-Acto to accurately trim the top and bottom of the fairings. Once the strut and wheel fairings are installed, the finished assembly now goes into its hardwood mount.

Even with a sharp blade, the fairings proved to be a bit tricky to trim at the angles shown, but the flexibility of the foam hides a multitude of sins. I considered the possibility of removing the fairings, but they weigh virtually nothing and add a bit of scale detail.

The propeller goes on next; you'll see in the photo that it's held on nicely by the collet supplied with the Motrolfly DM2210 and that no spinner was required. Setting the CG 120-130mm back from the leading edge of the wing (or right at the wing spar as I'd guessed) is accomplished by moving the battery until the model balances properly. The suggested method is to use double-sided tape and to balance the model on your fingertips; I opted to use my tried-and-true Great Planes CG Machine and simply rested Subsonic Planes' Sonic 850mAh 30C battery on the fuselage stiffener in different locations until I found the CG. It was then a simple matter of cutting an opening in the fuselage to accomodate the battery. Set the control throws at the angles given back on page two of the manual and we're ready to fly!

While I was able to get +/- 50 degrees of travel for the rudder and elevator, I wasn't able to get more than about +/- 20 degrees at the ailerons since all of the control arms provided with the GWS servos were of the same length. Still, it's plenty of aileron travel with ailerons taking up about 40% of the total wing surface, so I'm not too worried about lack of roll ability.

Flying

Taking Off and Landing

A 1080Kv motor moving a 3D profile foamie with massive wing area via a 4.7" pitched prop might not be the equal of the fastest ride at the field, but then again, agile, high alpha aerobatics are the name of the game here.

Rather than go schlepping thirty minutes to my usual test site, I thought I'd try the softball field at the local park. It isn't particularly wide between left field and right field, but I figured it would be sufficiently deep to fly successfully from the right field foul line if I didn't go too far downrange. Center field was plenty deep, so I had plenty of lateral room from my vantage point.

There was an intermittent breeze blowing as I fired up the Super Zoom 2 for its very first flight. A quick check of the flight controls later, I was ready.

I pointed the plane into the wind and hit the throttle...and off she went.

Keep in mind that up until this time, I'd never flown a pure 3D plane outside of a simulator. Thanks to that sim time, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect and I was right.

The Super Zoom 2 went up about thirty feet, came up on its nose...and simply hung there! Here I was doing high alpha flying with no effort whatsoever. Throttling back brought it back to a normal attitude. Forward flight was roughly jogging speed, primarily owing to the wind. Throttling up simply put the plane up on its nose again, throttling back a tad got it flying straight and level. At one point, I was actually maintaining zero airspeed by pointing into the wind and blipping the throttle. Fun stuff despite the strange way it seemed to handle; I'm used to regular aerobatic planes, not 3D. If anything, it actually handled better - far better - than the simulator.

The wind was starting up again with a bit more fervor than before I took off; throttling up to bring the Super Zoom 2 in for a landing simply brought it back up on its nose while the wind started blowing it gracefully in that nose-up attitude toward a clump of eucalyptus trees behind home plate. Down came the throttle, down came the nose and I was able to land it with a sort of improvised harrier. The belly flop was moderately hard, but not too bad for an emergency landing. It didn't damage the plane at all, but it did snap off a propeller blade, ending my maiden flight somewhat prematurely.

I got to thinking that all that wonderful machining in the wing would be the ticket for regular straight and level flight since the model itself resembles a pattern flyer, but how should I balance the model properly?

Simple: Ask the man who designed it.

A quick e-mail to Karel Hacker himself was answered quickly and cheerfully. He told me the Super Zoom 2, its predecesors and the big Super Zoom XL were designed to be what he calls "crazy flyers." Mr. Hacker flies his own Super Zoom 2 balanced 120mm behind the leading edge; some friends of his fly their versions an incredible 140mm back!

To turn the model into a sport model, Mr. Hacker suggested balancing the model at 100mm back and taming the controls to about +/- ten degrees of travel The result would be a "beginner" plane which would fly like a normal park flyer. Moving the battery to just behind the motor would do the trick, but would require a second opening to be cut in the fuselage. Mr. Hacker said that cutting a second battery opening behind the motor mount would neither compromise strength nor add weight.

I now had a dual-purpose 3D/park flyer combo waiting for its next flight.

Was I looking forward to that next flight under better conditions? Oh, yes.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The weekend arrived in an uncharacterictically humid fashion in the desert, so much so that my sunglasses fogged the moment I stepped out of my air conditioned car.

At 9 AM, yet.

Waiting at the Southwest Community Church in Palm Desert, California at the edge of their gigantic manicured grass event field was my longtime friend, part-time coworker and videographer Ken Alan. Ken, vice president of video production company Kaminsky Productions of nearby Cathedral City has been a tremendous help in shooting the videos in past reviews; he genuinely enjoys meeting me at the field and taping my models in action.

Sticky though the morning may have been, it was at least calm.

Ken fired up the camera as I fired up the Super Zoom 2. I'd hoped to meet 3D flyer Rob Thomas at the field - he'd helped me with some technical issues on my prior review - but I knew his father was ill and that he would be a possible no-show.

Also a no-show was my celebrity pit crew. Drag racing legend "Wild Bill" Shrewsberry was up the street at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage recovering from surgery to replace a congenital leaking heart valve and to have a pacemaker fitted. As a gearhead like Bill would say (and I assure you, he did), he was simply in the shop for a valve job. Glad to say that Bill is on the mend and should be back to his old self soon. Thoughts and prayers for Bill and for Rob's father will be appreciated.

Ken, I and some other flyers who'd admired the new model thought the grass might be a bit too thick to do do a regular ROG takeoff, so Saturday morning regular Anthony Moreno offered to hand launch it.

Up came the throttle and with a gentle underhand toss, off went the Super Zoom 2 on flight number two.

Now that I had a better idea of what to expect, not to mention a heck of a lot more room to fly, I put the plane up on its nose and once more, it hovered beautifully with little more than a bit of left rudder and right aileron. Once more, I was actually flying 3D with almost no effort.

Unlike the maiden flight, I put the Super Zoom 2 through a more rigorous workout with wonderfully tight rolls, loops, inverted flight and even some pretty good blenders. Of course, I hovered the thing every few seconds or so; it was just too much fun to see how long and how steady I could keep it that way. I couldn't quite get it to knife edge, but that was a reflection on me, not the model. I had hoped to have found some suitably longer servo arms for the aileron servos and I did. Du-Bro makes them under catalog number 932, but alas, the hobby shop didn't stock that particular catalog number and they wouldn't be in until that upcoming Tuesday. I'll report how those work in the comments section once I get them in hand and installed on the model.

As of this writing, the arms are in and work perfectly, but I haven't test flown it yet. Replacing the arms meant the loss of Hacker's wonderful little pushrod clamps and subsequent replacement with a pair of Great Planes Screw-Lock Pushrod Connectors (GPMQ3871, package of 12). The arms and clamps aren't languishing in the parts bin by any means. They're now doing duty in another GWS-equipped model whose elevator and rudder servo clamps I'd been meaning to replace anyway.

Ken was able to get plenty of great footage, but I didn't want to run out of battery power (I needn't have worried, as it would turn out) so I lined up for a landing.

The Super Zoom 2 floated in as gently as a butterfly, pitching on its nose on touchdown due to the grass.

I moved the battery to the new forward position I'd cut out the day before, flipped the dual rate switches on the DX6i to tame the control surfaces and pointed it into the wind for an ROG takeoff.

Perfect. Just perfect.

The Super Zoom 2 was airborne almost immediately with control as solid as any park flyer-class sport model you're likely to find. Forward speed, while much faster than it was in 3D mode, wasn't terribly so at only about 35 MPH (56km/h), but it was enough to send the lightweight model into large, beautiful loops...but poor knife edge flight given the lack of rudder authority. The roll rate was a bit slow as well, so I landed once more to flip the dual rate switches back to 3D.

The fun factor simply went through the roof moments after takeoff. The roll rate was much improved and the restored rudder travel allowed it to knife edge with gusto. Loops remained as large - or as small - as I wanted them to be. Inverted flight was simply a matter of rolling it onto its back; it needed no elevator correction whatsoever. Basic Immelmann turns were no problem, but the roll rate was a bit too crisp for a good Cuban Eight. Again, that's a reflection on me and not the model.

In came the Super Zoom 2 for the third and final time with plenty of power remaining in the Sonic li-po.

I'd had so much fun despite the oppressive humidity that I returned to the field after I'd treated Ken and I to breakfast. I popped in a nearly new Flightmax 1000mAh 3S 15C li-po from a temporarily grounded micro-helicopter and up it went with an experimental hand launch (it's a joy to hand-launch, by the way) for another round of 3D and sport flying. Power started to drop considerably after less time than I'd spent flying the model on the Sonic pack, so in it came.

The Sonic battery had come out of the Super Zoom 2 at ambient temperature; not so the Flightmax. It was hot to the touch and slightly puffed; it returned to normal a short time later. I'm owing that more to the 15C rating instead of the rather low price I'd paid for it since that pack had always run cool in the helicopter, so do consider the discharge rating when choosing batteries for your own Super Zoom 2.

Is This For a Beginner?

With its ease and precision of assembly, its nearly indestructable construction and surprisingly forgiving flight characteristics given the size of the ailerons in relation to the rest of the wing, the Hacker Model Production Super Zoom 2 is an excellent choice for any pilot looking to experiment with and eventually master the arcane skills of 3D flight. It is not for someone new to the hobby. Like any model with a low-mounted wing with a symmetrical airfoil and lack of dihedral, it simply goes where it's pointed and will not right itself. This is a plane which demands attention, especially as configured for 3D. With suitably gentle control throws and an instructor assisting via a trainer cord, it might make an excellent aileron trainer, but one without the self-righting characteristics of a true trainer. Hacker's Sky Star glider/electroglider combination (HC1305 A, B or C depending on color) is aimed squarely at beginning pilots as are the Piper L-H4 (HC1294), Piper PA 18 Super Cub (HC1297) and Piper Cub J-3C (HC1320).

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

The Hacker Model Production Super Zoom 2 is, in a word, awesome. It's made with care and precision and the flight characteristics are a testament to that care. My e-mail correspondence with Karel Hacker made it clear to me that a great deal of care as well as pride go into the production of his models. They are world-class, designed and built by modelers for modelers in a state-of-the-art facility using the latest computerized production technology. Someone with a resume as impressive as that of Karel Hacker would demand no less.

One could argue the fact that it's on the pricey side; 120 dollars might seem like a lot to pay for a foam model and that's understandable. That kind of money buys a lot of foam for scratchbuilt projects. I admit to being taken aback at the retail price when I first learned what it was. Scratch that; I was shocked until I got a look at the model itself.

Those 120 dollars get you precision-made parts which would be nearly impossible for many modelers to recreate in the workshop. It's far, far more than a laser-cut flat foamie or homemade blue foam model. Time is money and the little bit of time one would spend assembling this model coupled with its virtually unbreakable nature amortizes that 120 bucks over a long, long period of time.

Couple all of those great points with Hacker's customer service and availability of replacement parts (not that you're likely to need any) and I can give no less than a huge "two thumbs up" to the Hacker Model Production Super Zoom 2.

Will the Super Zoom XL prove to be just as much fun?

We'll all have to wait and see; I havent finished it yet as of this writing!

Lots of thanks are in order, beginning with Mr. Karel Hacker for the generous use of his fine products, his technical advice and friendly demeanor. To say I look forward to working with him and his company on future projects is an understatement.

Thanks go to another class act, Ken Young of Subsonic Planes for the perfectly matched Motrolfly motor and ESC along with the Sonic li-po, not to mention his unsurpassed expertise in choosing the proper power setup for any electric model aircraft. I cannot recommend his company or his products highly enough.

More thanks go to Grand Wing System USA for providing the fantastic GWS Naro + D digital servos which guide the model along with such precision as well as to RCGroups.com author Michael Heer for his liason work with that fine company.

Thanks to my "support crew" are in order as well: Ken Alan of Kaminsky Productions for his terrific videography, Eddie Tucker of Ground Control Hobbies in Yucca Valley, California and Kevin Koch and Rob Thomas of Uncle Don's Hobbies in Palm Desert, California for the electronics, adhesives and such needed to complete this model, Anthony Moreno for showing just how easy this model is to hand-launch and, of course, RCGroups.com moderator Angela Haglund for her initial contact with Hacker Model Production and for giving me the privilege to once again review a truly fine R/C model.

There are no better places on the internet than RCGroups.com, Crackroll.com, FlyingGiants.com and RCCars.com for the latest in what's happening in the fascinating, expanding world of radio controlled modeling.

See you here soon for the review of the Hacker Super Zoom XL!

Pluses and minuses

There are lots and lots of pluses I'd like to sum up here:

  • Precision-made machined parts including innovative machined servo horns
  • Beautifully applied graphics
  • Nearly unbreakable material
  • Easily repaired; all you need is thin CA and kicker
  • Some of the finest hardware you'll find on any model
  • Simply shifting the CG takes you from "mild to wild"
  • An outstanding first 3D model or an outstanding one-hundreth 3D model
  • You get what you pay for
  • Available floats turn your Super Zoom 2 into a seaplane and back within seconds
  • Fantastic customer service and technical advice from the man whose name is printed on the model

Minuses are very few:

  • Hard to find in the US except for a few online sites; that should change as word gets out about these models and production increases
  • Poorly translated English in the manual
  • Manual was slightly hard to follow with its smallish photos and run-on of Czech and English
  • Installing the carbon fiber support rods in the fuselage stiffeners was a bit messy
  • The wheels, while of excellent quality, could be larger for grass fields
  • Yes, there's a pricey initial cost. It is, in my opinion, worth every cent.

===============

Last edited by Angela H; Sep 20, 2010 at 03:13 PM..

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Old Sep 21, 2010, 02:03 PM
Plane Destroyer / Life Enjoyer
airbagit13's Avatar
Miami, FL
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Man, so awesome. I love my original Super Zoom 4d.
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Old Sep 21, 2010, 02:43 PM
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Thank you very much. Is this not one of the most fun planes ever? BTW, I had the double opportunity to fly it with the longer aileron arms yesterday and to repair it today. I had it with me when I test flew the Super Zoom XL, but I was at a different place with a few trees nearby.

It came out of a hover, rolled right and I lost it behind the tree I was standing near. Splat! Darn thing nosed straight in on grass. The foam broke cleanly along the matrix and it went back together literally as good as new. You can't see the repairs.

Glad you like your Super Zoom. Karel Hacker is a genuinely classy act.

As for the flying characteristics, it's going to need a bit of exponential until I get used to it. It rolls really fast and hard now, but it's still a ball to fly.
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Old Sep 21, 2010, 05:50 PM
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Yeah I am flying the RC Factory Yak55 that David designed, I bought it when I finally retired my Super Zoom 4d. I am going to have to add the Super Zoom 2 to the fleet for sure.
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Old Sep 21, 2010, 09:39 PM
BadPilot
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United States, IL, Downers Grove
Joined Nov 2007
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Great review, you covered all of the points that are important about this plane. I disagree that it is worth every cent. I find paying $90-119 too much for a foam plane. You are right on the mark when you said "awesome" because it is. Great for windy days and will take almost anything you can throw at it. I love the three Zooms I have purchased and will keep one in my hanger. I only wish they were lower priced.

John
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Old Sep 24, 2010, 12:07 PM
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Just FYI... the Hyperion Sniper II is the same kit with a different color scheme...
http://www.allerc.com/product_info.php?products_id=5229
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Old Sep 24, 2010, 02:34 PM
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Yeah, a couple of flyers thought the same thing when I brought it to the field. Another knew about the connection without having even seen the plane after I told him about it. The instructions on the Super Zoom XL do in fact call for a Hyperion motor. I wasn't sure if I should have mentioned that connection or not, but it's clear that some folks made the connection on their own.
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Old Sep 28, 2010, 08:52 AM
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Any videos of this plane actually doing 3D?!
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Old Sep 28, 2010, 09:12 AM
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Nice review. I wonder when Hacker coined the term 4D?
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Old Sep 28, 2010, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deadstick 8409 View Post
Nice review. I wonder when Hacker coined the term 4D?
Thanks. There's a link in the introduction explaining the origin of the term. It was coined by one of Hacker's designers.

As for 3D video, I'm afraid that the plane is more capable than I. I went into this as an experienced pilot but a 3D "noob." It also lacked the longer aileron servo arms needed.

Karel Hacker was kind enough to forward this YouTube link to me during our e-mail correspondence. It's of the similar Zoom Zoom:

Hacker Modell Zoom Zoom 4D (2 min 24 sec)


I'm getting better with the 3D aspect, but I have a long way to go before I hit the level of the pilot in this video.
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Old Sep 28, 2010, 09:17 PM
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Woah, that was some good flying.
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Old Oct 08, 2010, 08:20 PM
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That"s some flying skills there.
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Old Nov 11, 2010, 01:20 AM
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Great review. Tell me is there fuselage flex?
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Old Nov 11, 2010, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike-A View Post
Great review. Tell me is there fuselage flex?
Thanks, Mike.

I didn't notice any flex with this model but I did at the tail area of the Super Zoom XL; it didn't seem to affect it. After some closer inspection of that model, I discovered that the side reinforcement panels weren't glued well in places. Some careful regluing really helped solve the problem and it only flexes under really hard manuevers. This is a remarkably rigid airframe, it inspires a lot of confidence in learning to fly 3D and I still enjoy flying it. My 3D skills have gotten better thanks to both planes. In fact, I'm getting ready to add some more throw to the control surfaces. This hairy little ride is about to grow some more hair!
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Old Nov 17, 2012, 11:59 AM
ltc
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Successful maiden flight

It's a great feeling when a maiden flight requires no trim adjustments.

Built an orange SuperZoom2 (from RCBaron), powered by the Motorfly equipment used in the review (but used GWS 1047 SF on an Oring adapter rather than APC with collet/hub adapter) CG set at 100mm (per review), half throttle underhand launch...flew right out of my hand. Balanced for no landing gear...need to find some tape that will stick to the EPP to help with grass landings.

Great visibility, flies just as described in the review. Wonderful plane.
Thanks for such a detailed review, it made the build very enjoyable and quick.
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