|Sport Cub S RTF and BNF with SAFE™ Technology by HobbyZone (2 min 38 sec)|
|Flying Weight:||2.0 oz.|
|Servos:||2.3gm Linear long throw offset servos|
|Transmitter:||MLP6DSM 6 Channel SAFE transmitter on 2.4GHz|
|Battery:||150mAh 1S LiPo|
|Charger:||Fast DC Charger with USB port connectivity|
|Landing Gear:||Fixed Main Gear with steerable tail wheel|
|Available From:||Horizon Hobby|
I was flying at the local park at the end of September when a park walker stopped and watched me fly. After I landed he came up with a number of questions about RC and if the Sport Cub S RTF with S.A.F.E. Technology would be a good trainer plane for him as he liked the look, the size and the price. I told him I knew about the plane and I very much liked S.A.F.E. Technology which I explained to him but that I hadn't personally flown the plane. He then asked if he bought the plane would I help him learn to fly? The next weekend I flew Jason's new Sport Cub S and fell in love with this wonderful little plane. (I liked it so much I have since ordered one for myself and one for a Christmas present.) I gave Jason my demonstration on how to keep oriented with his plane until it becomes second nature to him (Covered below for other beginners.) While I gave him his ground lesson the battery recharged on his car's cell phone charger with the kit included charger with USB connector.
With the battery charged I demonstrated a hands off take off, the joy of the panic button and a hands off landing. It was Jason's turn for his first flight. With the plane and radio off I had him make his moves on the transmitter and call them out. I held his plane and did as he told me. He shouted right turn but never said up elevator so his right wing kept dropping and he shouted out panic button. I immediately leveled the plane and continued to follow Jason's commands and he turned his body and the transmitter to keep it oriented with the plane. Jason was an excellent student and was ready for his first real flight just a few minutes later. The flight was done out in the middle of the park and away from all trees. We had the park to ourselves except for walkers on the sides of the park. The flight was done in Beginner mode and he only hit the panic button once but released both sticks a couple of times to get self leveling. After a few minutes Jason had landed the Sport Cub S on the baseball field right between second and third base.
After that first successful flight Jason and I got together several more times and he let me fly his plane if I brought my own batteries. Jason was up to Intermediate mode in a couple of weeks and Experienced mode just before Halloween at our last flying session. Jason moved to Southern California November 1st but was already thinking about getting a second plane after the move. The Cub however will remain with him and having had success he is hooked.
When I got a chance to review this plane I immediately agreed as I wanted to share my experiences and feelings about this great little trainer. I believe that great trainer planes are the key to the growth of our hobby and the Sport Cub S fits that bill. Now lets get into the specifics.
Items need to complete
The transmitter that comes with the Sport Cub S is a great little transmitter but the first three letters, MLP stand for: Micro Low Power! This transmitter in intended for use only with micro planes such as the Sport Cub S that will be flown close to the pilot. This is not to be used with a park flyer or larger plane as they can easily fly outside of this transmitters range as they are larger planes that can be comfortably seen at greater distances. With Jason and during this review I flew at a local park and was approximately at second base and flew to home base and out to, but not past, deep center field. 1) Farther away than that the plane simple gets too small for me to comfortably see and enjoy. 2) I don't want to fly out of the range of the transmitter. I didn't feel limited by this range and if I wanted more range (I didn't!) I could have simply bound the plane to my Spektrum DX9 transmitter. Just remember MLP and keep the Sport Cub S within range. I really had plenty of range considering the size of the plane.
For this review I did a longer range test and flew at the park while standing at home base and flew out to the outfield and a little further than deep center field. I had complete control but I wouldn't push it past that. For a football field I would at most fly from goal line to goal line. My buddy Dick accidently flew the Sport Cub S out of range while we were getting the pictures for this review. He was more than a full football field away when he lost control and the plane started circling on its own. He walked towards the plane and regained control after a couple of circles when it was closest to him and he was able to fly it back safely. I don't guarantee that can be done in every case or that it will always circles when out of range. That is simply what we experienced by accident as I hadn't explained MLP to Dick before the flight and I was changing cameras when he flew out of range.
The claims for AS3X is that: "It makes the aircraft both more stable and more agile and that the pilot doesn't have to deal intensely with flight complications such as turbulence, torque and tip stalls. That thanks to AS3X tuned to each aircraft the pilot feels ultra-smooth control even outdoors in moderate wind yet is allowed to experience exhilarating aircraft agility that feels natural and allows you to quickly build skills as an RC pilot."
As a reviewer I would like to explain how AS3X works and exactly what it does to make a plane more stable and better able to handle turbulence and torque. To that end I have watched and read everything I could find on AS3X and no where did I find a technical explanation of how it works. All the discussions I have seen to date discuss what AS3X does but not how it does it. While I am sure there are scientific explanations for what is happening I haven't found them yet. As a pilot I don't have to know how it does it, just that it consistently does it so that it can be relied upon. So far I have found it very reliable.
It has been included in over 40 products now and was only briefly mentioned for the Sport Cub S but it is there and it is in my opinion helpful. If a gust of wind picks up a wing tip and starts to turn the plane AS3X corrects it and brings the wing back to position. However if I give a command to turn the plane AS3X doesn't affect my command. The video below gave the original description of AS3X and serves as a good basis of what it does.
|AS3X technology - Control the Air (10 min 10 sec)|
|AS3X in the Super Cub S RC Airplane (1 min 42 sec)|
The Hobbyzone Sport Cub S incorporates SAFE Technology. This technology allows for various safety assists in three different Flight Modes. The SAFE Technology places limits on what the plane is allowed to do in the different flight modes. It also corrects for deviations in flight caused by gusty winds and other none transmitter requested movements of the Sport Cub S with AS3X technology described above. I have found the SAFE Technology to be extremely helpful in teaching beginner pilots to fly the Delta Ray twin engine electric trainer plane, the Blade 350 QX Quadcopter and the Blade 200 SR X helicopter. The flight mode conditions relating to this technology will be discussed below in connection with the discussions of the three flight modes. As I have stated in prior reviews I am naturally skeptical of claims relating to improved flight controls, especially those aimed at the beginner pilot. I am no longer skeptical about SAFE Technology! I have had total beginners fly my Delta Ray and now the Sport Cub S airplanes successfully. It has proven that that the technology works! What is also nice is the Sport Cub S RTF is available for $129.99 and it is complete with everything a beginner needs to fly successfully.
I want to point out that AS3X and SAFE Technology are great flight assists but the pilot still must fly the plane and the pilot is fully responsible to learn what needs to be done with the plane and transmitter for the flight before starting the flight. This is much like a golfer thinking what they are going to do before they start the swing of the golf club to hit the ball. Do not think that this technology will fly the plane for you. However, it can assist you in flying the plane but the pilot stills needs to know what to do.
Below is a general video on the SAFE Technology from Horizon Hobby.
|SAFE™ Technology (1 min 35 sec)|
As to SAFE Technology and the transmitter there are three things I want to draw to your attention. 1) In Beginner mode, placing the two sticks in the middle position hands off directs the plane to assume a stable/level position. 2) Hitting the panic button on the back top right of the transmitter commands the plane to assume a stable position. 3) The Flight Mode switch is located in the back top left of the transmitter.
1) Self-leveling with hands off the sticks is available in Beginner mode. If the plane gets into a bad position or the pilot becomes disoriented the pilot can let go of the two sticks and SAFE Technology tells the plane to assume a stable and basically level flying position. I recommend students let go of the sticks briefly if they become disoriented. The plane assumes a level position and the pilot can start to fly again from that level position. This option is only available in Beginner mode.
2) If a pilot gets in major trouble such as the plane spinning for the ground, hitting the panic button is a quicker remedy as the plane should immediately go into an up right and level flight position in a slight climb while the button is being held. With the plane flying smoothly the pilot can then resume command of the plane and bring her home or resume general flying. I find the panic button fun to show off how the plane can instantly recover from a diving spin. (Warning: If flying inverted in Experienced mode there must be sufficient altitude for the plane to recover. I recommend trying this at high altitude to get an understanding of how much space is needed for the plane to self correct. Most experienced pilots can actually recover in less space with a hands on method.
3) The flight mode switch allows the pilot to select from three different modes for the set up the pilot wants to fly.
Position 0 for the flight mode switch is the Beginner mode (with self leveling). In this mode both pitch and roll angles are limited to help the beginner keep the plane in the air. Over controlling is a major problem for most beginners and having the amount of control available reduced helps reduce the amount of trouble beginners can get into. Beginners should only fly in this most until they have mastered it and mastered orientation of the plane in the air. In this mode the plane can take off with hands off of the sticks after applying positive positive throttle. Landings can be made hands off after reducing throttle.
Position 1 on the flight mode switch is the Intermediate mode. The self-leveling is no longer available but the plane is capable of a good deal more pitch and roll. Thus steeper dives and climbs as well as sharper turns are now possible. But there are limits and loops and rolls still cannot be performed in switch position 1. Most pilots will progress through this mode pretty quickly in my opinion to get to the next mode.
Position 2 on the flight mode switch is the Experienced mode. There is no self leveling but the pilot can now fly the Cub through loops and rolls and a number of other aerobatic maneuvers. I find flying to be delightful in this mode.
The plane comes fully assembled. Only the supplied AA batteries needed to be installed in the transmitter and the LiPo battery charged and installed in the Sport Cub S. Battery location is discussed under completion but I now believe location is not always best all the way back for experienced pilots.
With the four AA batteries in the transmitter turn on the transmitter with the throttle all the way down. With the flight battery charged it is necessary to plug in the battery and install the battery in the bottom of the fuselage in the battery bay. The instruction manual recommends installing the battery all the way back where it is secured with hook and loop material. That worked fine with Jason's plane but my review model seemed better balanced with the battery forward for less climb, especially in Experience mode position 2 on the flight mode switch. After installing the battery, immediately set the plane on a level spot out of the wind and wait five seconds. The transmitter and plane came already bound so you should now be ready to fly the plane with the plane properly balanced on the C/G. If they don't link up initially try lifting the tail for this process by putting a magazine under the tail wheel. There are instructions on how to bind the plane on the back of the transmitter should it ever become necessary. It is nice to have the instructions with you at the field even if the manual gets left at home.
The transmitter has dual rates with high rates at 100% and low rates at 70%. To switch between the two rates I just had to push down on the right stick on the transmitter. I recommend that beginners use low rates for the initial flights in a nice large outdoor space with no wind. The plane can be flown in a smaller space using high rates but that is best for later flights with more experience. I use high rates when flying in Experienced mode for aerobatics.
The plane is a four channel plane with rudder, ailerons, elevator and throttle control. In Mode 2, which is the mode most commonly used in North America, the right stick controls the ailerons with side to side movement and elevator with the forward and backward movement of the stick. The left stick controls rudder with side to side movement and throttle with the forward and back movement. Start with the throttle all the way down or back if you prefer. The throttle at mid range lets the plane fly level. Give more throttle and the plane climbs on her own without any elevator input. That is by design and is intentional. I encouraged my student Jason to let the power climb the plane to a cruising altitude and then ease back to level flight. The Sport Cub S was still flying fast enough to allow for good control with no stalls. Turns from level flight are performed best with a bit of rudder, then a little aileron aileron, and finally some up elevator to finish the turn and keep the plane level with rudder and aileron going back to neutral and then the elevator back to neutral with the plane flying level. Turns can also be made using just ailerons and elevator. At high and full throttle the Sport Cub S will automatically be in a climb. To fly level just hold in some down elevator or back off of the throttle. In Beginner mode the dives, climbs and turns are limited as to how much is allowed by the SAFE Technology much like a car or truck's speed can be limited using a governor.
I have flown the plane once in a breeze of about 10 mph but the rest of my flights have been in calm or low wind conditions. While the plane handled the 10 mph wind I found flying in calm and lower wind conditions to be much more enjoyable. I wouldn't want to fly in a breeze much stronger than 10 mph and I wouldn't want a beginner to fly in anything over 8 mph even with the AS3X which does do a good job of keeping the plane on track.
In grassy fields the plane can be launched with a hand toss into the breeze. Landing in grass is more of a controlled crash than a landing. I kill the throttle just before the plane hits the grass. With a hard or paved surface both landings and takeoffs are easy to do. So easy they can be done by just raising and lowering the throttle as shown in the opening video. Because the plane climbs with high and full throttle it is possible to point the plane into the wind and simply advance the throttle to high and the plane will takeoff on its own. Thanks to AS3X the plane self corrects for minor directional bumps caused by the breeze. Thanks to the steerable tail wheel I can taxi out to the center of the runway and takeoff in a very scale manner as well. I prefer to make my landings as scale as possible even if into grass. I fly past myself with a down wind leg and then a cross wind leg and turn onto final and the runway or the grass in front of me. Flying into the wind I slowly lower the throttle and give a slight flair just before touching down. On a runway I do like to perform a roll out and then turn the plane and taxi back to myself. The Sport Cub S is easy to take off and land.
In Experienced mode and with a fully charged battery the geared brushed motor can power the Sport Cub S through loops both large and small as well as rolls, barrel rolls, half pipes, S turns and more. The Sport Cub S can also be turned into a float plane with optional floats that are available. That is why they include the back float mount with the plane. It is in a small bag in the kit as the plane doesn't need the extra weight of this mount and it should NOT be attached unless the optional floats are being used. Unfortunately, a review about flying with floats will have to wait for another day. Since the plane has plenty of power for the aerobatics as discussed above, I know she has enough power to fly off of the water. The floats recommended are also used get my micro Carbon Cub up on step and flying so I see no reason they won't work with the Sport Cub S which is an even easier plane to fly.
They advertise that this plane is FPV Ready and they have a one page instruction sheet on the Website to show how to install the airborne portion of the Spektrum FPV system into the plane. They also briefly cover this in the instruction manual. FPV is an expensive option if you don't yet have any FPV gear. I don't recommend that any Beginner pilot try this option. This is for intermediate and better pilots only! This system will let you wear goggles and see what you would see if you were sitting on top of the plane's wing as it flies around. This system allows you to be oriented to being in the plane to control the plane with the transmitter. It is for advanced pilots only but it is an exciting option that will help keep this plane interesting for advanced pilots for a very long time. Pilots flying FPV should always have a spotter with them who is tracking the plane with their eyes. Please keep in mind this has a MLP transmitter and keep the plane close and in range.
Absolutely! Trouble maintaining orientation and over controlling the plane are two of the biggest problems experienced by beginners. SAFE Technology really helps the beginner over come the second problem and if orientation problems are experienced the panic button can be used to help stabilize the plane to help the pilot regain orientation. I still recommend use of a flight simulator and an experienced trainer for the beginner but if those are not available; I have described my tips for beginners to maintain orientation in the paragraph below. I highly recommend this plane, patience and common sense to anyone wanting to fly an RC plane.
I have shared this lesson previously but as there are always new Beginners...
In my experience the two biggest problems for beginners is that they over control the plane with too much stick movement and they have trouble with orientation and being able to properly direct the plane as they don't have their minds in the cockpit. This is most obviously observed when the plane is coming at them. Hopefully this short lesson will help overcome those problems.
1) By having the plane on low rates and the Flight mode switch on the 0 position, AKA Beginner Mode, the plane is going to be in its least responsive arrangement. This is actually helpful for most beginners. Plan what pattern or patterns you plan to fly before you take off and practice the stick movements you will be making on the transmitter. I like to start with a simple circle or oval in one direction and then after a few loops go the other direction for a few rounds and then switch to flying a large lazy 8 in front of myself. To fly a circle with the plane turning left I fly the plane in front of me and out towards the right. I add in a little bit of left rudder with the left stick and then a very little left aileron with the right stick. If the left wing starts to drop I ease off the aileron and add a little up elevator. To end the turn I let the rudder and the throttle stick return to center. If the Sports Cub S gets out of hand I can hit the panic button or momentarily let go of both sticks and the plane will go back to level flight. I get right back on the controls and continue to make the left hand circles. When I want to switch directions I let the plane fly towards me and then stop the left turn and start making a right turn using the same process described above but to the right with rudder and aileron. By starting with turns in one direction my students have found it easier to get control of the right amount of turn and elevator to fly the plane then making lots of turns in alternate directions. Go from circles to boxes with curved 90 degree turns followed by straight flight until the next turn.
2) Most students find it easy to control the plane flying away from them as the plane's right is their right and the plane's left is there left. The trouble can start as quickly as the first 90 degree turn but most stay in control until the plane is flying at them and left is right and right is now left. To over come this I have my students turn the direction they turn the plane with the first 90 degree turn while keeping their heads facing the plane. Start with the plane flying away and looking straight at the plane with the transmitter in front of you. Start making a 90 degree right turn of the plane using the transmitter and turn your body 90 degrees to the right while keeping your head facing the plane. The transmitter's right is still the plane's right. If you have the plane make another 90 degree right turn it will now be flying back to your side of the field, but off to your right. Here I have the pilot move his arms by twisting the body to the right. The transmitter keeps facing the direction the plane is traveling. When the plane is almost back to your side of the park make the third 90 degree turn in a row. As this is being done the pilot turns 90 degrees to his left and his body is facing the original direction from the start. Move the arms so the transmitter is pointing to the left and is again facing the same direction as the plane so the pilot's left and right arms remain lined up properly with the plane. Keep repeating the process with the turns so the transmitter remains in line with the plane. This sounds complicated but it has proven successful time and time again. It doesn't take long with this drill for the pilot to actually get their head in the cockpit and they can stop the body and arm movements yet be able to turn the plane properly because they are now mentally oriented with the plane. During this process it is helpful to keep the plane relatively close so the plane can be easily seen with no question about where it is heading.
The last item I want to mention is it is very important for the pilot to be prepared to fly. Think about what you are going to do and what to do in a crash situation before taking off. (Killing the throttle before crashing is the last option.) That is it! You are free to use these tips or not. However I know they have helped beginners.
The video below is primarily geared to the Beginner pilot and shows one Beginner flight and a loop in Experienced mode. Everything seen in Hobbyzone's video at the start of this review has been confirmed by me as actual flight performance. I just didn't duplicate it all on camera.
|Hobbyzone's Sport Cub S Demonstration Flight (3 min 2 sec)|
I believe I have made it clear throughout this review that I have been favorably impressed with the Sport Cub S for both the beginner and the experienced pilot. I found the S.A.F.E. technology worked well and makes the plane easier for a beginner to fly successfully as does the AS3X. I haven't met anyone in person who hasn't found AS3X helped improve the control of a plane in windy conditions. For the Sport Cub S I felt it was very beneficial. I give my highest recommendation for the RTF version for Beginners. It contains everything they need to get into the air. The transmitter can be used with other micro flyers in the future but as stated above do NOT use it with parkflyers that might easily exceed its range. For intermediate and expert pilots I recommend you look closely at the videos and see if you enjoy what you see. For me the BNF version fit my needs and as stated above I had even ordered one for myself before this review was assigned to me. The Sport S Cub allows me to do some pretty nice aerobatics in a small space and fly in front of my house in a relaxed manner.
If I could change one thing I would have a little less climb in Intermediate and Experienced modes from just the throttle. My solution was to simply hold in down elevator for level flight at full throttle. There was less climb in Beginner mode in my opinion and I encourage less than full throttle for beginners any way.
My thanks to Jason for introducing me to this plane and being a great student. Thanks to Hobbyzone and Horizon Hobby for supplying this plane for review. My thanks to my friend Dick Andersen for help with the media for this review and to our editor Angela for her assistance as well.Last edited by Michael Heer; Nov 26, 2014 at 08:32 PM..
|Dec 03, 2014, 01:26 PM|
I fly mine with 20% expo on rudder/elevator/ailerons and 12% rudder/aileron mix in Expert. In calm winds it flies like a much larger airplane. It took a little while to get it mechanically trimmed but when I did it was so worth it. I really love this little plane!
My only, and I mean ONLY complaint is that if you leave it in the box in a hot car, the foam blocks that hold the fuselage down will 'stick' to the paint and pull the paint off when you remove them.
There is definitely some elevator mix with throttle. Even in the advanced modes. I really wish Horizon would give us the option to disable SAFE and all of the onboard mixing. In my opinion, as beautiful an airframe as this is, SAFE is a hindrance to it's flight performance. It would be really, really nice if "Expert" mode completely disabled SAFE and all pre-programmed mixing.
|Dec 03, 2014, 03:11 PM|
"There is definitely some elevator mix with throttle. Even in the advanced modes." On mine I would say especially in the advanced modes. Shifting the battery forward for advance mode flights helped.
"I really wish Horizon would give us the option to disable SAFE and all of the onboard mixing." I would enjoy it if I could turn SAFE off for my flying in Experience mode but I understand that it is important for the newer pilots to have that panic button so they can challenge themselves and yet have an out when they get in trouble. Mike H
|Dec 03, 2014, 04:10 PM|
I absolutely love the airframe but I can't say I'm overly in love with the electronics. Has anyone done a brick swap yet to a non-SAFE brick? Really, the ability to turn off all electronic assists would be super nice.
|Dec 03, 2014, 05:47 PM|
Joined Feb 2014
|Dec 03, 2014, 06:06 PM|
After a dozen flights in Beginner mode I am finally getting More and More intermediate Minutes while usually having to hit the Oh Damn Switch and going back to beginner to get in position for more intermediate flying. Once in intermediate it Really starts to feel rewarding for a Newcomer like myself!!! Great Plane to learn on!!!! Get a UMX Radian Tooooo!
|Dec 03, 2014, 07:46 PM|
Has anyone flew this plane with the FPV set up yet ? It is already wired for the camera.
And thanks GottaZoom for the links
|Dec 04, 2014, 06:48 AM|
Joined Jul 2013
No thank you. Appreciate the detour, but like said the review the OP did would be complete, if FPV was his thing. The some remarks that were posted.
|Dec 04, 2014, 11:59 AM|
I didn't have the Spektrum FPV when I did this review so I only mentioned it briefly as an option. I just bought the FPV Vapor and will fly it for the first time on Sunday at an indoor event. Later I will move the camera to this plane and when I have time I will try it out and report back but for now; people will have to look to others for this information. Mike H
|Dec 04, 2014, 12:15 PM|
Re-directing this thread !
Please continue this discussion one of the existing threads -- you will lots more info, and have the benefit of many more people who will see and answer your questions, etc:
Thread for beginners:
Thread for Intermediate / Advanced / Mods / FPV / etc:
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