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Apollo 50

The Apollo 50 is a pattern plane that will make you look good in spite of yourself!

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Introduction

Looking for an all balsa/ply, smooth flying, and POWERFUL bird? Well here you go!

This is the box top
This is the box top
Wingspan: 55.1"
Wing Area: 565.75 Sq. In.
Weight: 80-84oz.
Length: 57"
Servos: Futaba S3151 Digital Sport BB Servos
Transmitter: Futaba 6EX 6-Channel 2.4GHz
Receiver: Futaba R617FS 7-Channel 2.4GHz FASST Receiver
Battery: Thunder Power RC LiPo 5S 5000mAh 25C G8 Pro Lite+
Motor: Great Planes Rimfire .80 50-55-500 Outrunner Brushless
ESC: Great Planes Silver Series 60A Brushless ESC High Volt
Manufacturer: Flight Model 6# Nanpaifang Street, Beishan Industry Area, Nanping, Zhuhai, Guangdong. China
Available From: Tower Hobbies
Price: $249.99 ARF

Apollo 50 (3 min 39 sec)

Kit Contents

Before I start a review of a model, I always shake the heck out of the box, listening for anything that might be rattling around, thereby placing its presence on the airframe, canopy or whatever. The Apollo 50 arrived double boxed and I shook it hard – no noise; removed the outer box and shook it, flipped it and spun it – NO NOISE…upon opening the box the reason was oblivious – everything was taped down securely.

Even the hardware was so tightly wrapped up not even a washer could move! So the kit passed test #1. After removing all the components and separating them from their clear plastic bags close inspection revealed no damage, dents or holes poked in the wing panels, fuselage or tail feathers. Hence, the Apollo passed test #2. The covering (ORAcover)was flawless and not wrinkled, but given time I suppose the dry Arizona atmosphere will encourage some bubbles to appear but nothing a heat iron could not cure. Passed test #3. Inventoried parts – all here and accounted for! Passed test #4.

Couldn’t find the instructions and was about to download them at: http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LWL114&P=7 and click on the ‘manual 1’.

Then when looking at the decal sheet, there they were – on the back side of the decals! Well then the Apollo passed test #5 and assembly could commence. Just a word to the wise, to download the manual as the pictures are MUCH clearer (and larger) than the supplied manual.

Speaking of the manual…..it is a nice guide in assembling the Apollo but not a whole lot more than just that. In fact of all the criticism I have on this aircraft (no airplane is perfect), the manual is at the top of the list. For example, Step #4 really needs to be completed after Step # 18, or Step #18 needs to be done before Step #4. The pull-pull installation procedure is hardly mentioned, with just a couple of diagrams –so if you have never previously installed a rudder pull-pull arrangement, you may wish to partner with someone with experience in this regard. It is little things like that causes this reviewer to recommend this plane after 3-4 other ARF’s have been assembled.

Hardware package had a ton of nuts, bolts and washers and something had to be done to keep this all straight - so starting with the bolts, they were arranged by length and placed in individual plastic bags labeled with their length.

ASSEMBLY

Wing

Like most ARF’s on the market today the assembly procedure can be re-arranged without any fear of painting yourself into a corner and the Apollo is no exception. Right off the bat I decided to mount the aileron servos, install those push rods and hinge the ailerons before joining the two wing halves. It just makes it easier to work with one wing panel as opposed to the entire wing.

Futaba servos (S3152) fit perfectly into the wing. That opening had to be cut open before the servo could be installed. A 6” extension was added to the servo lead. The aileron hinges were slightly thinner than the pre-cut slots but some Zap Thin did the job of securing them firmly to the wing.

The aileron push rods where next on the list and the control horns required two machine screws to affix the horn to each aileron. I must be getting old because both horns and their base each lined up perfectly…surely I must be doing some wrong<g>.

Now that the ailerons were connected to the servos, the next step would be to epoxy the two wing halves together. 30-Minute Zap adhesive was used to mate the two wing halves. I was a bit worried about the 3.75” hard balsa wing joiner not being up to the task so some ground-up fiberglass was added to epoxy to give that wing joint a little bit extra strength.

After this many (too many) years building airplanes, I have some “issues” and fingerprints from epoxy is one of them. Maybe I am related to “PigPen” from the Charlie Brown series, because no matter how careful I am, epoxy gets on my fingers – and then on to the airplane, pants, shirts and even my glasses. Don’t know how, but they get there!

When gluing two wing halves together I like to eliminate this fingerprint ‘transfer’ by enclosing the individual parts in the clear bags they originally came in. Place the tape about 1/2 "from the root rib, and some additional masking tape secures the wing bags so the wing(s) can be handled without the danger of leaving those fingerprints. In the past I would go over the drying wing with Acetone removing those fingerprints, but some always were missed and after the epoxy dries, well it will be seen!

The belly pan (or “Wing Underover”) is supposed to be positioned at this time,(step #4) but glued in much later (step # 18). Nonetheless, the covering has to be removed so the belly pan can be eventually glued on the wing and flush with the fuselage. Do this step AFTER the wing has been mounted and secured to the fuselage.

Fuselage

The fuselage is very light and beautifully covered with the vertical stabilizer already installed. The horizontal stabilizer is installed by sliding it into the slot in the fuselage AFTER a section of covering is removed so a wood to wood contact is possible. Because the wing was not previously mounted, I could only hope the fuselage slot was in line with the wing – and it was!

Tail

The elevator halves were mounted to the horizontal stabilizer AFTER the control horns were mounted. In order to locate the proper location for these horns, the elevator push rod had to be constructed and installed. This push rod is made with a “Y” so each elevator half can have its own push rod. The problem is installing the push rod in the fuselage. If you try fishing the push rod from the front of the fuselage, you will join the ‘it ain’t gonna fit’ crowd.

The solution is to use some (I hope you have some) inner (yellow) plastic push rods from Sullivan or Du-Bro flexible push rod and slide two them in from the rear of the fuselage to the front area where the servo will be located. Now thread the ends of the push rod into the yellow plastic push rod and pull the elevator push rod through and out each side the fuselage. Now that was much easier eh?

Once the elevator push rod is in position, the control horn can now be positioned accurately. Now the elevator halves can be secured with thin CA. I like to paint the part of the control horn the same color as the elevator, so it blends in…and “Another Gripe”, those two screws that hold the horn in place are too long – so I cut the off flush to the nylon base with a Dremel tool….guess I’m getting too old for this sport – or too grouchy!

Next would be the mounting of the rudder and the installation of the pull-pull system. As previously mentioned the instructions are quite vague on this issue so some pictures were taken to give you an idea what this is supposed to look like.

The control horn is really a machine bolt that is threaded through the rudder in a pre-drilled hole. One of the connectors has to be threaded on the rod all the way to the head of the bolt. The other nylon connector will be screwed on to the machine bolt AFTER the bolt has been threaded through the rudder. Again this was done before gluing the rudder to the vertical stabilizer. Once the rudder has been mounted the fun begins. There are two little slots in the fuselage that have a small nylon tube mounted and through these two tubes your pull-pull cable has to fit through.

Again working from the rear of the fuselage forward, a long thin wire push rod was inserted into that opening all the way to the servo area. The pull-pull cable was taped to the other end of the wire. This wire was then pulled through the fuselage and the pull-pull cable was removed from the wire and ready to be installed on the servo arm. This procedure was repeated for the other side. The only ‘adjustment’ apparatus would be on the rudder end so the pull-pull cable was secured directly to the servo arm. I never did put in a short nylon tube shown on the instructions as I believe one was already installed. Now the cable can be threaded through the nylon connector and secured. Don't forget to 'lock' the rudder in neutral and keep the servo centered.

With the tail feathers in position, the attention was directed to the other end of the fuselage – mounting the motor. I should mention both glow engine and electric motor procedures (as well as necessary mounting equipment) was illustrated in the manual.

Motor Mounting

For this bird a RimFire 80 was mounted on the supplied motor mount. No modifications were needed (heck, that takes some of the fun out of it – right?). The battery tray was not epoxied in place and some Velcro strips (included) was positioned for securing the battery. The removal hatch requires the canopy be screwed into position with four screws and this was followed by installing the cowl. No brainer there – but two slots on the top of the cowl were opened up so some air could flow over the motor.

The style of the landing gear sure is eye pleasing from my point of view, but the plane has to have wheel pants and yes they are supplied and yes they are a pain to squeeze that axle/wheel into those pants, but boy are they worth it! Now if you fly off grass, you might have a different reason not to install them, but flying off hard surfaces ‘requires’ them if you know what I mean.

The belly pan (or “Wing Underover” as they call it) was now epoxied in place after determining the wing’s mounting bolts were lined up correctly – they weren’t – and it took some detective work to figure out what size those bolts were….it was determined they were #3 bolts so being that they would be inside the belly pan, some soda straws were glued to and through the belly pan (oops Wing Underover) which makes finding the holes easier. The wing/fuselage joint was very accurately mated.

Speed Controller

The instructions did not specify where the speed control should go so the determining factor was the CG. With everything mounted and ready to fly the speed controller was moved but had its limits as to how far from the motor it could be located. The location I chose was right were the landing gear was mounted. A hole was drilled through the bottom of the fuselage so the motor's battery lead could extend outside the fuselage and connect with the speed controller. Nonetheless, this still required the 4.8v flight battery to be located behind the wing to obtain the desired CG!

Completion

The assembly of the Apollo 50 was not the easiest ARF I’ve ever assembled but it is a far cry from the worst. Most of the difficulty came from the instruction manual, but then again this isn’t a plane for the beginner. Therefore an experienced modeler should have no assembly problems. The final product is well worth the cost in both finances and time and that doesn’t even account for its flying abilities!

Flying

For the first round of test flights an APC 15/6E prop was used as was a 18.5v 5000mAh battery. Pulled about 36A and 710W. Because the speed controller was located on the bottom of the fuselage, the battery was connected and then secured in the fuselage with Velcro tape.

The biggest complaint I have is that the canopy is secured by two machine bolts . That means those two little bolts have to be removed to access the battery, the battery removed, a new battery installed and canopy reattached with those screws….MAGNETS would be nice or a sliding latch pin..... (hint, hint).

Our flying site has waist-high tables so after removing the two canopy bolts, they can be safely placed on the table….but some of you have the luxury of flying off grass and if you drop one of those bolts….good luck finding it!

Basics

Well enough complaining – let’s talk about flying….off our smooth dirt runway the Apollo had little difficulty becoming airborne with the 15/6E prop – but it did take longer than anticipated. When the throttle went to wide open, I expected the plane to almost break the sound barrier and jump into the skies, but it didn’t. In fact it hardly gained a lot more speed. It flew fine but not fast….but strong enough to climb vertically quite a way up before gravity slowed it down. Even high speed passes down the runway were not spectacular but very smooth (and quiet). Maybe the prop has something to do with that <g>.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Hammer head turns were a thing of beauty – in both directions I might add – and consecutive loops required only a slight amount of right rudder to maintain a consistent heading. Rolls required the appropriate use of the elevator/rudder to achieve consecutive smooth straight rolls. This plane showed up nicely in the sky, even when flying in overcast skies. A long knife-edge was a bit difficult to hold as the rudder wasn’t up to task to hold altitude or the motor not producing enough thrust.

Other than that the rudder is VERY effective and even a bump of rudder while flying will indicate to all watchers in the Peanut Gallery you just moved the right stick. The elevator and ailerons are also effective, even at low speeds (like landings). So what control throws were used you ask? This was the LOW recommended settings! The first half dozen flights were done with the 15/6E prop and the CG was slightly ahead of the initial setting of 1400mm. A couple of other pilots flew this plane and they all had something good to say about how it flew.

Different Prop

The next series of flight testing consisted of using another APC prop: 15/8E. This time the numbers were 46 amps and 905 Watts! And could you tell the difference in the air! MUCH BETTER flight performance - and I won't say unlimited vertical, but it sure did get pretty small real fast going up. All flight maneuvers were a bit better, especially knife edge - now it would hold altitude all across the flight line without dropping an inch! Rock solid to boot. Loops were now as large as I wanted and when rapidly advancing the throttle, you could hear the prop noise whereas with the 15/6 prop, the motor/prop were difficult to hear.

Taking Off and Landing

The take offs do require a bit of runway if you wish to depart in a scale-like fashion, but not longer than any normal model. Landings can be very smooth, but the first couple attempts will produce a longer glide than expected and some "ups and downs" as you flair too soon. The elevator is very pitch sensitive when close to the ground.

Is This For a Beginner?

The Apollo is not designed for a rank beginner, but it will make any potential Pattern pilot a great addition to their fleet. No bad habits but it does go directly where you point it!

Conclusion

If I had to do this over again, I think I would opt for a nitro engine because flying this plane is so relaxing and smooth I don’t want to land so quickly (you and I both know 5-7 minute flight is a bit too short). If flying off grass is your situation, it had better be short grass as the wheels are small and if using the wheel pants, things could be interesting when taking off. Other than the hatch attachment method, I could not find anything irritating about the Apollo. Yes the instructions could be better but how many of us REALLY read them (or do we just look at the pictures and go from there – and if things don’t work out – go back and READ the instructions?). Now I’d like to review the Apollo 90 and see what improvements they made!

Pluses

Great looking airplane (Covered in ORAcover) Smooth flying bird (pattern style) Light balsa/ply construction Lot of room for battery and speed controller

Negatives Canopy hatch attachment method Instruction booklet needs improvement Assembly sequence should be re-evaluated

Photo Gallery

Last edited by tailskid2; Nov 25, 2014 at 05:34 PM..

Discussion

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Old Feb 20, 2015, 03:57 PM
DFC~ We Do Flyin' Right
bsbauman's Avatar
USA, GA, Atlanta
Joined Nov 2008
15,094 Posts
It looked a bit anemic, have you done any additional videos with other prop or battery combinations? Looks to fly nice, but needs a bit more oomph.
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Old Feb 20, 2015, 06:45 PM
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tailskid2's Avatar
USA, AZ, Phoenix
Joined May 2003
3,528 Posts
The APC prop 15/8E really brought this plane 'alive'....I haven't any new videos but if I can arrange a good video man, I will post some more with the new prop.
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Old Feb 20, 2015, 07:07 PM
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scottc39's Avatar
USA, MN, Shakopee
Joined Sep 2004
1,484 Posts
I have one of these on the bench and started some work on it, iam doing a canopy mod for a magnate hatch, hoping to get some pics from Jerry on his tail servos setup. plane looks nice and feel sturdy as well, love the metal motor mount for electric motors to.
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Old Feb 20, 2015, 08:25 PM
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tailskid2's Avatar
USA, AZ, Phoenix
Joined May 2003
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Scott, the magnet idea for the hatch is a GREAT idea and let me know how it worked out. Those two screws to hold the canopy on are a PIA

Pics are on the way.....
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Old Feb 21, 2015, 08:16 AM
ltc
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United States, MA, Mendon
Joined Mar 2010
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I didn't really see anything positive in the plane except the price.
I think for a bit more money there are better options for small pattern style planes.
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Old Feb 21, 2015, 12:12 PM
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USA, MN, Shakopee
Joined Sep 2004
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here is a few pics of the magnet hatch mod I did, I used a piece of .015" thick metal and 2 earth magnets to hold the hatch down.. I did figure out were the elevator rods come thru but how do the get supported , there is no control rod tube in the fuse. Also with Jerry's input I did figure out what the tube that runs along the inside of the fuse is for, antenna wire :
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Old Feb 21, 2015, 01:09 PM
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Very interesting plane
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Old Feb 21, 2015, 05:20 PM
rrg
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USA, KY, Edgewood
Joined Dec 2007
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Looks a little like the Splendor....
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Old Feb 23, 2015, 09:58 AM
Registered User
Oakland township, Michigan
Joined Jun 2005
798 Posts
Hi -

I would suggest going with a 15x10 prop. You will get better performance and possibly better efficiency as well (lower throttle setting in cruising flight).

I fly an Angel 50 from Sebart using an Axi 4120/18 (515 Kv) with a 15x10 prop. My timer is normally set to 7.5 minutes on a 5000 mah pack. The peak current is around 65 amps or so. I use a 75 amp ICE controller. It is enough to get me through the intermediate or advanced sequences and get in a few extra maneuvers.

For servos, I used mini digitals in the wing for the ailerons and full size for the rudder and elevator. In restropect, I could have probably also used a mini for the elevator. It does save a little bit of weight.

Good luck,

Teo

Good luck,

Teo
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Old Feb 23, 2015, 10:26 AM
Time for me to Fly...
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United States, MI, Fenton
Joined Jan 2000
8,868 Posts
I dont have a single plane that hurts for power or has a flight envelope that is only 5-7 minutes. I also dont have a glow powered plane. My suggestion, move to a 6S power system. I fly a 50 sized Osiris on 6S 4400 battery and it's fantastic. I dont remember which Hacker outrunner I have stuck in the nose or the prop. I haven't had to mess with them in over a year but I can get you the rest of the specs if you want them.
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Old Feb 23, 2015, 04:51 PM
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USA, MN, Shakopee
Joined Sep 2004
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guys with most of my planes i don't go above 8 degrees in pitch, wont a person loose a lot of thrust if using 10 and 12 degree pitch props, i want to get around 850 to 1000 watts on 5 cells using a 12x6 or 12x8, i have looked at some of the pattern props listed on the apc site and they even go up to 14 degree in pitch, i just find it odd to use such a high pitch prop.
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Old Feb 23, 2015, 05:35 PM
Time for me to Fly...
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United States, MI, Fenton
Joined Jan 2000
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APC makes deep pitched props for electric powered planes for a reason. Remember, compared to glow power, electric systems are spinning the prop very slowly. But there is an advantage to that. A big prop turning slowly is more efficient than a small one that is beating the crap out of the air. So you simply adjust the pitch to get the speed you want.

Also, volts x amps = watts. Watts are the measurement of power that is used to fly the plane. If you up the voltage (as in 6s as opposed to 5s) you can make the same watts at a lower current draw. So now everything runs cooler and the battery lasts longer. You simply have to pick the right motor wind and prop for the higher voltage system.

BTW, my power system is a Hacker A50-16s, Castle Ice 100, TP 6S 4400 and APC 16x8. If the plane wasn't fast enough I'd use 15x10. The 16x8 however works really good with my airframe.
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Old Feb 23, 2015, 09:29 PM
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Oakland township, Michigan
Joined Jun 2005
798 Posts
Hi

A high pitched prop is not necessarily a bad thing. On a 15x10 the Angel has unlimited vertical. The key is matching the prop for the mission. Thrust is not the only thing to consider, pitch speed is just as important. On a plane like this, I plan for 70-75 mph wide open speed. This gives you enough reserve for windy days. The other important thing is throttle usage. I hardly ever use full power. My in between maneuvers speed is roughly half throttle which is somewhere around 45-50 mph.

Try the higher pitched prop and see what you think.

Teo
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Old Feb 23, 2015, 09:54 PM
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tailskid2's Avatar
USA, AZ, Phoenix
Joined May 2003
3,528 Posts
Simple idea:
For the same RPM.........

Greater the pitch = Greater the speed; (like pattern planes)

Lower the pitch = more torque (like 3D stuff)
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