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Tower Hobbies Laser 200 Flatty 3D ARF Review

The 3D handling is excellent! Come learn about the Laser 200 Flatty from Tower Hobbies.

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Introduction

Tower Hobbies Laser 200 Flatty 3D EP ARF (1 min 1 sec)

Introduction


Wingspan: 33.5" (850mm)
Wing Area: 261sqin (16.8dmsq)
Wing Loading: 3.1-3.5 oz/ftsq (9-11g/dmsq)
Weight: 5.6-6.4 oz. (160-180g)
Length: 33in (840mm)
Servos: Requires 3 micro servos
Transmitter: 4 Channel or More
Receiver: 4 CH micro
Battery: 11.1V 250mAh 25C LiPo
Motor: 250 size brushless motor
ESC: 10A brushless
Propeller: 8x3.8 slow-flyer propeller
Available From: Tower Hobbies
Price: $39.99 ARF

This flatty is a very stand off scale model of the Laser 200 aerobatic plane. This flat foam model is lightweight and lets an intermediate or better pilot experience 3D flight without breaking the bank and takes only an evening to assembly. This is not for a beginner nor is it a trainer. However, it can be toned down with reduced throws to make her easier to fly. The real fun comes with increased throws and the ability to perform exciting 3D maneuvers. She is brightly painted and the factory applied trim scheme resembles that of the full-size aircraft, and looks nice and sharp with starkly contrasting colors top and bottom for easy orientation. She is ideal for flying in large indoor areas but in calm or very light breeze conditions she is also fun to fly outside. I am using the recommended components in this review and be sure to assemble yours with matching or comparable components for best results. It is important to keep her light yet have the power to perform the 3D maneuvers that make her a special plane.

While I fly some 3D it has not been a major focus for me up until now. I am hoping I will get some good stick time with this plane and with its low cost I can fly it without fearing the cost of repairing or replacing her should I muck up and crash her. To help avoid that possibility, I used the time between being assigned this review and the kit and parts arriving to practice 3D on my Real Flight flight simulator at night. When I crash on it I can just press the reset button and I get a new plane.

Kit Contents

Kit Contents

  • Foam fuselage
  • Foam wing
  • Foam horizontal stabilizer/elevator
  • Wheels and struts
  • Control horns and control rods
  • Carbon fiber reinforcements
  • Reinforcement parts
  • Motor mount
  • Hardware
  • Instructional Manual

Additional Items Supplied For Review

  • Rimfire 250 Outrunner brushless motor
  • The Futaba R6004FF 2.4GHz FASST Micro Receiver
  • Silver Series 12A ESC
  • 3 Futaba S3114 micro servos
  • FlightPower 3S 11.1V 250mAh LiPo Battery
  • 8x3.8 Slo Flyer propeller

Tools Needed For Assembly

  • Thick Foam Safe CA
  • Thin Foam Safe CA
  • CA Applicator Tips
  • Dubro Double-Sided Servo Tape
  • Great Planes Pro CA Foam-Safe Aerosol Activator
  • Scissors
  • Paper towels
  • The plastic bags in which the parts came
  • Hobby Knife with New #11 Blade
  • Small builders square
  • medium-grit sandpaper
  • Two boxes to support the plane upside down during assembly

Promoted Features

Promoted Features

  • Lightweight, economically priced and easy-to-assemble foam flyer.
  • Ideal for intermediate to advanced pilots.
  • Capable of performing a wide range of exciting 3D maneuvers.
  • Vibrant, factory-applied trim scheme.
  • Reduced control surface throws makes the Laser 200 Flatty easy to fly.
  • Complete hardware package included.

Before Starting Assembly

Before starting I read and followed the CA gluing tips at the start of the instructions.

CA Gluing Tips

  • Use Foam Safe CA and accelerators
  • Use both sparingly
  • Use CA applicator tips (I had to order these as I had none
  • Cut three paper towels into 2" x 2" squares to wipe off residual CA
  • Use care wiping off the excess CA

I paid attention to these tips because thin CA will run very easily and so I delayed the assembly for a few days while the small applicator tips I ordered from Tower Hobbies were mailed to me.

I cut one of the plastic bags that the parts came in per the instructions to use as a cover for my workbench to keep the CA glue off of it. I saved the other bags as possible replacements.

Next per the instructions I took three paper towels and cut them into small "squares" to use as wipes to remove excess CA glue.

Assemble The Bottom Half of The Plane

I glued the aft horizontal end of the fuselage to the wing/front horizontal end of the fuselage. I used a thin layer of thick CA on rear section where it overlaps the wing. I wiped off excess glue with a small piece of paper towel. I carefully flipped it over and set it down on clean plastic without glue and wiped away any CA from the plastic and from the bottom of the plane.

Per the instructions I flipped those parts so that the bottom of the plane was facing up.

Next I worked on the vertical fuselage adding doublers to the front and the middle of the fuselage per the instruction manual. There is a left and a right side doubler as shown below!

After the glue for those doublers was dry I slipped the flat horizontal bottom section of the plane into the vertical fuselage. I used a small builders square to make sure the fuselage was square at 90 degrees.

The next step was sanding off the edges at the tip of the carbon fiber rods. I used medium grit sandpaper and simply rubbed the ends of the carbon fiber on the sandpaper at an angled while rolling them in my hand.

Next I used my metric ruler with the carbon fiber ruler and per the instructions started installing and gluing them in place. Per the instructions I used weights to keep the parts level. This part of the assembly involved installing the wing brace posts, ABS landing gear doublers as well as the landing gear. Here are a few pictures of the assembly per page 6 of the instruction manual.

Next I mounted the bottom motor mount doublers as shown on page 7.

Next I switched my attention back to the tail of the plane and per the instructions secured 1mm foam brace reinforcements in place and glued in the support rods for the horizontal bottom section of the tail.

Withe the horizontal stabilizer secured there were a few more rods to attach to the side of the fuselage for stiffening and support.

Assembly of the Top Half of the Plane

As with the bottom half the focus for me was to properly glue the top section of the fuselage to the flat horizontal section of the fuselage using foam safe CA and my triangles to have the fuselage properly vertical. Here we had a carbon fiber flat rot going down from the middle of the top section into the bottom half of the fuselage and that was secured with foam safe CA and kicker.

I installed the carbon fiber rods to the top of the vertical stabilizer and the horizontal stabilizer.

Next I attached the motor mount in place in the front center of the fuselage and then installed the foam doublers behind the motor mount using foam safe CA for both.

Installing the Aileron Servo and the Control Rods and Horns

For this process I turned the plane upside down and balanced it on two boxes as shown below.

For the first step I used the tip of my hobby knife and carefully expanded the hole in the control horn for the control rod. I did this for both aileron control horns as well as for the elevator and rudder control horns since I was on a roll.

Centering the servos was the next step and I did it on all three servos at the same time as shown in the picture below.

The Aileron servo gets a special extension added to it to increase the travel of the arms and get the needed throw for 3D flying. I expanded the holes on the servo control arms. I cut off the two arms not being used. I used two small supplied screws to secure the special control arm in place as shown in the picture below.

They had me make a foam clamp out of scrap foam to lock the ailerons into neutral position for the mounting of the control rods.

Next I installed the aileron servo in place on the fuselage. I sanded the ends of the control rods to rough them up and I did all of them for the plane at this time. I had the longer aileron control rods secured loosely in the special servo arms and the short pieces in the aileron control horns that were positioned in place but not yet glued. Per the manual I slid the rubber connection tubes onto the longer aileron control rods. I put the two aileron control rods on one side next to each other and applied a drop of Regular thick CA. I then slid the tube over them and using my soldering iron I melted the tube around the wires locking them into one piece.

I glued the servo into place and then the control horns with the ailerons carefully centered doing them both at the same time. They gave a piece to fill in the space by the servo and I used that as a guide to cut the original painted piece into that shape and glued that in place to help fill the hole. This was completely optional. With the ailerons completed I repeated this process on installing first the elevator servo, control rod and supports for it and the elevator control horn. When that was all completed I moved onto the rudder servo, control rod and control horn. It was well explained and displayed in the instruction manual. I just followed the assembly step by step.

Mounting the Power System

The recommended brushless motor was mounted to the motor mount with three supplied screws and the wires facing to the left. I next placed the recommended propeller in the shaft and secured it with an included rubber O ring. I next connected the motor wires to the ESC by plugging the connectors together. I secured the ESC in the position shown in the manual with a small piece of matching Velcro. Since I am using a three cell battery I expanded the space for the battery by removing some foam so that the battery could fit and secured the battery in place as shown with Velcro.

The recommended range for the proper C/G balance is 3/8" a head of the spar to 1/4" behind the spar. I had the receiver resting in place with the plane upside down and found were the receiver should be to balance the plane in the middle of the recommended C/G range and using a little more Velcro secured the receiver to the side of the fuselage above where it had balanced. The plane was now assembled and balanced on the spar, slightly behind the middle of the recommended C/G.

Completion

With the plane assembled and properly balanced I checked that the control surfaces responded in the proper direction to commands from my Futaba transmitter. At 100% throw for the servos the control surface movement was as recommended for 3D flight.

Dual Rate

Since 100% servo movement had the recommend 3D or high rate for dual rate it would only be necessary to reduce servo throw to obtain low rate. Here are the recommended rates.

Rates

Elevator: Normal rate 1" up and down, 3D rate 2" up and down

  • Rudder: Normal rate 1 3/4" right and left, 3D rate 3" right and left
  • Ailerons: Normal rate 1 1/2" up and down, 3D rate 2 1/2" up and down

Flying

Basics

The plane has ailerons controlled with one servo, rudder and elevator proportional control and proportional throttle control. The plane assembled per directions is ready for 3D flight with very large throws for all control surfaces. If more regular flight is desired I would recommend adding in dual rates and start at about 50% of the recommended throw. I used 20% exponential on all control surfaces to keep them smooth even with very small accidental movement. The experienced pilot shout have no problem flying her around in a normal manner even with full 3D throws programmed.

Taking Off and Landing

She can be hand launched with an under handed toss. Just apply about 60% throttle and make a small forward toss. Takeoffs are easy from a hard smooth surface. They can be quick with takeoff after a couple of feet or accelerate more slowly and make a slow climb off of the "runway." To land just reduce speed and kill the throttle as she touches down and apply up elevator so she doesn't nose over if a wheel hits something. When flying outside if there is a breeze all takeoffs and landings should be made directly into the breeze. She has a lot of exposed side surface and a crosswind can push her into a turn or if strong enough into a flip. The Laser 200 Flatty is designed for indoor flight so keep that in mind.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

This is where the Laser 200 Flatty shines! Indoors or in no wind she can be flown at little more than a crawl or with a three cell battery accelerated into a vertical climb. Large rolls and loops or tight axial rolls and loops in the length of the fuselage she can do those and anything in between. She hovers very nicely and rotates in place as if mounted on a rotating pole. Watch the video and get some idea of what she can do. Chris described her as: "The best handling light 3D plane I have flown." She certainly looked great in his hands. Since I am much more a sport pilot than a 3D pilot I can add she can do all the sport flying maneuvers I perform. Her very colorful bottom made keeping orientation of where she was facing very easy and that is so important in a plane like this.

Is This For a Beginner?

No! 3D flying is for experienced pilots. This plane is designed for intermediate and more advance pilots.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Tower Hobbies Laser 200 Flatty (2 min 50 sec)

Conclusion

It was fun to assemble this plane. With all the ARFs I fly this one at least took a couple evenings to fully assemble. The recommended electronics fit and worked perfectly with this kit and the wire locations on the servos made them easy to install. I covered the assembly in detail so I want to talk about her in the air. I had to wait for a relatively calm day as no inside venues were available when the plane was ready to fly. We had an almost perfect morning with about 3-4 mph breeze which she handled without a problem. See looks fantastic flying and maneuvering in the blue sky and sunshine. The colorful bottom and the blue top with yellow highlights were very easy to tell apart so orientation was easy. My friend Chris Tapangcura flies 3D and he was the pilot for both my video clips and the still pictures. He said: "It was the most responsive light 3D plane he has flown ... It was easy to hover ... she rotates and flips just as I directed." I agreed with him completely.

If you have an indoor venue available for flying then I can recommend the Laser 200 Flatty for you to assemble and fly. While she was flown using a 3-cell battery I would caution about being hard with full throttle 3D moves as there were two places where the carbon rods needed to be reconnected (glued with CA) after the video. But I instructed Chris to take her through her maneuvers and wring her out and he did high speed climbs and sharp rolls. Indoors the flying would have been slower and with less torque applied to the plane. Repairs were easy I look forward to the next flying session with her.

Pluses & Minuses

Pluses

  • Easy to assembly and excellent instruction manual
  • All carbon fiber rods cut to size.
  • Recommended motor and electronics are just right!
  • Performs 3D maneuvers very well
  • With 3-cell can fly perhaps too fast at full throttle
  • Excellent color orientation top vs. bottom

Minuses

  • Fully assembled plane is a bit big for storage and transportation
  • While strong in the air but I must be careful when transporting her

Thanks

My thanks to Tower Hobbies and Hobbico for supplying this plane and the required accessories to RC Groups for this review. My thanks to my friend Chris Tapangcura for his active participation in this review and sharing his opinion on how she handles.

Last edited by Michael Heer; Dec 15, 2015 at 12:41 PM..
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Old Jan 11, 2016, 06:40 PM
mt_100 is offline
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Curious, what were your average flight times on the 3S 250mah pack?
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Old Jan 12, 2016, 12:13 AM
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I have had mine for several months, flown many times. Very nice plane, but a bit delicate, as
are most of the planes like this. I use a 2s 500 and get about six minutes of all around flight.

I use a Powerup 250, 1600kv, 10a esc, 8X6 GWS SF. I always install larger wheels.

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Old Jan 12, 2016, 07:13 AM
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Good review and a pretty plane but ... this model is surely 12 years late? Depron Shock-flyers were great in their time but things have moved on e.g. use of EPP for airframes

This is Depron, yes?
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Old Jan 12, 2016, 11:55 AM
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Yes!
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Old Jan 12, 2016, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Glover View Post
Good review and a pretty plane but ... this model is surely 12 years late? Depron Shock-flyers were great in their time but things have moved on e.g. use of EPP for airframes

This is Depron, yes?

It's not late per say but I know what you mean. EPP is still nothing compared to depron in its flight/light characteristic. The guys who are learning or want to relax fly EPP, but the pros all use depron. This fatty is on the money.
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Old Jan 13, 2016, 08:51 AM
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This model isn't aimed at pros though. A normal club indoor flying session is rather a different environment!

As an aside I didn't notice the actual AUW of the review model mentioned? Would be good to add that in.
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Old Jan 13, 2016, 10:29 AM
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Love these, reminds me of the old Flat-Out series.
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Old Jan 13, 2016, 01:42 PM
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Not advertised anywhere for some reason....and worth mentioning...but this model was designed by Team Futaba Manager Frank Noll. One of the most under credited pioneers of 3D.
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Old Jan 13, 2016, 02:29 PM
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I noted the NOLL on the tail and wondered if it was a reference to either Frank or Jason.
Nice to know.
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Old Jan 13, 2016, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iadamz View Post
It's not late per say but I know what you mean. EPP is still nothing compared to depron in its flight/light characteristic. The guys who are learning or want to relax fly EPP, but the pros all use depron. This fatty is on the money.
I disagree. Although I wouldn't call myself a pro I can certainly do most advanced 3D maneuvers. I use to own depron foamies but found them to be too fragile.

Now my foamie fleet is made up of EPP planes - Twisted Hobbies Crack Yak 39 and several Skywing 48 and 55 full fuselage planes.

Last year I had an elevator servo fail (one of six Hitec micro servo failures - not impressed) on my Skywing Slick 48. It went down hard in the middle of a huge patch of brambles. After much painful effort I recovered the plane, fixing it took me about an hour.
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Old Jan 13, 2016, 05:04 PM
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EPP and depron are totally different- they each to certain things better. As great as the crack yak is, it will never fly as light or with as much precision as a depron model like a fancy foam MX2 or Osiris....

EPP will crash better, though I think that is a crappy factor to look at as I dont build my models to withstand crashes- I build them to fly!
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Old Jan 13, 2016, 06:24 PM
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Exactly right.
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Old Jan 14, 2016, 06:14 AM
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OK I'm a decent flyer (although nowhere near pro standard), and certainly 'build to fly', rather than 'build to crash'. But like most people I don't own a sports hall, so I have to share indoor airspace with my clubmates and mid-airs etc. are a fact of life.

Since 2004 I have had six Depron 3D models, three of which I still have and fly.

The lightest and sweetest flying indoor 3D model I have right now though is all EPP. It is 137 grams AUW with 2S 360. That's what I fly the most, and it's now six years old ...

There's a good reason why the Ikarus Shock-flyer range (truly revolutionary at the time, and hugely popular) disappeared practically overnight once EPP came along.

Of course 'serious' aerobatic flyers (F3P etc.) use ultra-light milled Depron airframes but that's not who this model is aimed at.
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Old Jan 14, 2016, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HaventFlownSince2014 View Post
I noted the NOLL on the tail and wondered if it was a reference to either Frank or Jason.
Nice to know.
That is N10LL. Leos N # on the Laser. LL = Leo Loudenslager.
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