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Hobby Lobby 47" Mini Telemaster RTF w/2 Wing Sets Review

Hobby Lobby's 47" Mini Telemaster is now available as a RTF with 2 sets of wings! It just don't get any better than this.

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Introduction

Wingspan:47"
Wing Area:329 sq. in.
Weight:23 oz
Length:32.5"
Wing Loading:10 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:(2) SF090 9 gm Super Micro
Transmitter:Lexors Nova 6 Plus FM
Receiver:Lexors MR-6 Plus FM
Flight Batteries:2 cell LiPo
Motor:SF 1300 Kv Brushless Outrunner
ESC:SF 30 Amp w/BEC
Power Loading:50 Watts/lb (2S); 130 Watts/lb (3S)
Manufacturer:Hobby Lobby
Available From:Hobby Lobby
Price:$279.00

Sturdy construction and gentle flight characteristics make the Telemaster series of models the Gold Standard for trainers and relaxing flying airplanes. Hobby Lobby continues to expand its fleet of Telemasters, and one of its latest offerings is a Ready-To-Fly version of the very popular 47" wingspan Mini Telemaster. Not only is this version offered as a RTF, it comes with two complete sets of wings. The basic 3-channel wing is supplied for initial calm weather basic flight training, and the aileron wing is supplied for windy weather and intermediate flight training. When you're ready, you can combine the aileron wing and high rates, and the Mini Tele RTF turns into a pretty decent aerobatic trainer. Looks like the Mini Tele RTF is one plane that can grow with you and change to meet your needs as your flying skills improve. Let's open the box, and see what Hobby Lobby has packed inside.

Kit Contents

Kit Includes:

  • All parts precovered in red and white heat shrink covering
  • Fuselage with motor, ESC, 2 servos and pushrods preinstalled
  • 3-channel Wing halves
  • Aileron Wing halves with ailerons pre-hinged and servo installed
  • Stabilizer with elevator pre-hinged
  • Fin with rudder pre-hinged
  • Landing gear with wheels installed
  • Prop, spinner, pushrods, and complete hardware package
  • 12 page photo-illustrated assembly manual
  • 6-Channel FM TX and RX
  • 7 page photo-illustrated radio manual
  • 1100 mAh NiMh 7-cell flight battery
  • 110 volt AC flight battery charger

Kit Requires:

  • 8 AA batteries
  • 1.5 mm Allen wrench
  • Small Phillips screwdriver
  • 1/16" drill bit and drill
  • Hobby knife

Assembly

The 12-page black and white photo-illustrated assembly manual was very good. If you'd prefer to see the illustrations in color, a full color PDF version is available online here . New modelers or first-time builders should have no problems following the manual. The flying surfaces are all pre-hinged and pre-glued in place, and all the major airframe components bolt or slip together. This level of pre-assembly really helped shorten the build time. Hobby Lobby stated that you could build the RTF Mini-Tele in as little as an hour, but you should plan on closer to 2 hours. Let's get started and get this baby in the air!

Standard Wing

The standard Mini Tele wing had no ailerons. It was designed to help beginning pilots learn to fly under calm wind conditions. It had extra dihedral to aid in stability and turning. You only had to insert the dihedral brace and slide the wing halves together, and you were done. The trailing edges of the wing did not exactly line up with each other, but when the wing was rubber banded in place on the fuselage, the wing halves lined up just fine.

Aileron Wing

The RTF Mini Tele included a second wing with ailerons. The aileron wing had a little less dihedral and was designed as a next step for beginning pilots who were ready to move up to an aileron trainer and wanted a plane that would fly in mild wind conditions.

I used my hobby knife to trim the wood and increase the clearance around the aileron control rods. This increased the aileron travel considerably. The instructions said to enlarge the outer hole of the servo arm, but there wasn't enough material at the end of the arm. Instead, I enlarged the second hole and still had plenty of throw.

The aileron wing halves slipped together just like the standard wing halves. I had to trim the servo opening a little to get the servo mount to fit into the other wing half. When the halves were fully seated together, the front of the wings did not line up very well.

However, just like the standard wing, the wing halves matched up much better when the wing was mounted on the fuselage and rubber banded in place.

Fuselage

The fuselage has most of the hard work already done - the motor, ESC, servos and pushrods are already installed.

The tail feathers were the first order of business for the fuselage. Even though the rudder, elevator and tail wheel bolted onto the fuselage, they would require a little work with a hobby knife to get them ready. The rudder slot in the top of the fuselage was a little too tight and needed to be opened up before the rudder would fit through. Just a couple of gentle slices with a hobby knife, and all was right. Though it was not on the list of required tools, I found that a 4mm wrench was very helpful when tightening the nylon nuts on the rudder fin. The total process was fairly quick. As a matter of fact, it will probably take you longer to read this paragraph and look at the pictures than it will take to bolt the assembly to the plane.

The landing gear bolted on easily, and all that was left was to install the wing retainer dowels. The covering on the fuselage over the front dowel holes was pretty thick, and their location was not very obvious. I used a T-pin to poke around ‘til I found the holes. Here is where they were located:

Radio Installation

The RTF package includes a nice 6-channel Nova FM radio system by Luxors. The TX has some nice features such as a rubberized exterior, some interesting mixing functions and ATV adjustments for the elevator and aileron. While I was setting up the TX, I noticed that the mix control switch on the back of the TX was mismarked. The far right switch position was marked "Aileron" and should have be marked "Elevon". The correct markings were shown in the Radio Manual. The proper switch position for the Mini Tele RTF is the middle "off" position.

I mounted the RX on the left side of the fuselage with hook and loop fastener material and ran the antenna out the bottom of the fuselage. The RX had a provision for a Loss of Signal (LOS) alarm. The device plugged into a 2-pin slot in the RX marked "Buzz". It was a nice bonus and worked very well.

Downloads

Extra Cooling for Texas

Summertime in Texas means 100 degree plus flying days. To help cool the ESC and flight battery, I cut away the covering over a lightening hole on the bottom of the fuselage near the tail to allow the cooling air a place to exit after it flowed over the ESC and flight batteries. The mod only took a minute, and it was cheap insurance against overheating.

Completion

The completed Mini Telemaster RTF weighed exactly 1 pound and 7 ounces. I checked the center of gravity, and with the flight battery all the way forward, the CG was 1/2” behind the recommended location. I added 1/2 oz. of lead in front of the motor mount, and that fixed the CG. You should always check the CG of any plane, even a RTF, because differences in wood densities may change the balance point. I set the control surface throws at the recommended amounts mechanically and then fine tuned them using the ATV function on the Transmitter.

Flying

Battery Issues

My first flight with the Mini Telemaster RTF was almost my last. The plane lost power as soon as it broke ground and continued to lose power as I got it turned around and leveled off just before it "landed" on the ground. It wasn't pretty, but the plane was still flyable. A check of the power system showed that the ESC auto-detected the fully charged 7-cell NiMh battery as a 2-cell Lipo pack. As the NiMh battery started to lose its surface charge voltage, the ESC began cutting back power to the motor trying to keep the battery voltage high enough not to damage a Lipo pack. I called Hobby Lobby, and they duplicated the problem in their shop. I asked if there were any programming instructions that would force the ESC into NiMh mode, but none were available. Hobby Lobby decided to supply a 2-cell Lipo battery and charger with all new Mini Telemaster RTF packages. This change made the RTF package even better in my opinion.

Since the Mini Tele RTF would now be supplied with a Lipo battery and charger, I continued the flight testing portion of the review using a 2-cell 1300 mAh Lipo battery pack. The motor pulled 9.25 Amps on the pack and produced a power level of 50 Watts per pound. This was a comfortable power level for flight training and relaxing flying.

Since the ESC would auto-detect Lipos, I also tried a 3-cell 1250 mAh battery pack. WOW! The Mini Telemaster RTF was a real Hot Rod on the 3-cell pack! The motor pulled 16.5 Amps on the pack and produced a power level of 130 Watts per pound. No wonder the Mini Tele took off like a rocket.

Basics

The Mini Tele on the standard wing and the 2-cell Lipo was a gentle flyer that turned easily and would return to level flight when the sticks were returned to neutral. The standard wing made a great trainer setup for calm weather flying. However, as the wind came up, the plane became more difficult to turn, and it was more difficult to land.

The aileron wing and the 2-cell Lipo made a nice windy weather flyer. The ailerons made it easier to keep things level as the wind moved the plane around. Ailerons also made it easier to land in the wind because I could use them to keep the wings level and use the rudder to keep the plane lined up with the runway.

Taking Off and Landing

Taxi

The steerable rubber tail wheel added a lot to the great ground handling ability of the Mini Tele. With just a little up elevator to keep the tail wheel glued to the ground, the Mini Tele could be driven around the runway with ease.

Takeoffs

With the standard wing, I had to remember to release any rudder input as the plane broke ground or one wing would begin to dip. Slow and easy takeoffs were a thing of beauty. The air rudder was very effective as soon as the tail came up. I could wait till the Mini Tele flew off the runway, or I could add up elevator and lift off as soon as the tail came up. The 2-cell Lipo battery had plenty of power for quick and easy takeoffs. Full power 3-cell Lipo takeoffs were VERY SHORT and a lot of fun!

Landings

Initial test flying and the video sessions were done in rather windy conditions. I flew the standard wing first before the wind really began to blow. The aileron wing flights were flown in conditions that were keeping larger glow powered planes grounded. Considering the Mini Tele was designed as a high wing trainer type plane, it handled the wind very well. Landing the standard wing required calmer conditions to allow the pilot enough time to line up with the runway. Once lined up, if you just cut back the power, the standard wing Mini Tele would almost land itself. In windy conditions, the constant course corrections would dip the wings a lot and make it more difficult to land smoothly. The aileron wing allowed me to keep the wings level as I made rudder corrections to line up with the runway in windy conditions. Wheel landings and 3-point landings were really nice on calm days, but windy weather landings were a bit of a challenge. This was not a knock on the Mini Tele, but rather a reality for high wing trainer type aircraft.

Aerobatics

Aerobatics were possible with both wing setups on the 2-cell lipo battery. The standard wing would perform loops and stall turns with ease. The aileron wing would perform most aerobatic maneuvers but lacked enough power for sustained vertical lines. Even so, on higher rates the aileron wing Mini Tele would make a nice aerobatic trainer.

Special Flight Performance

The 3-cell lipo battery pack made an inexpensive performance upgrade that showed a whole new side of the Mini Tele. Talk about a Jekyll and Hyde transformation! The extra power of the 3-cell Lipo made the Mini Tele fly more like a pattern ship than a trainer. The good news was that you only had to pull back on the throttle and a gentle flying Telemaster would emerge once again.

Is This For a Beginner?

Yes! However, a true beginner should seek the help of an instructor pilot to help with the initial flight trimming and first flights.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

The 47" Mini Telemaster RTF brings Ready-to-Fly convenience to the great Telemaster family of models. The Mini Tele has all the great flying characteristics of its larger-size namesakes without all the building and equipment selection issues of the ARF and Kit versions. On a 2-cell Lipo battery and the standard wing, it's an easy flying beginner plane with gentle forgiving manners. On a 2-cell Lipo and the aileron wing, it's a gentle aileron trainer that is capable of basic aerobatics. On a 3-cell Lipo and the aileron wing, it's a fully aerobatic plane that can be throttled back to Telemaster manners with ease.

Pluses:

  • Very complete RTF package
  • Comes with two wings - Standard Wing and Aileron Wing
  • Now includes 2-cell Lipo battery and charger
  • Quick building bolt-together assembly
  • 6-channel FM radio system
  • Multiple flight modes
  • Easy performance upgrade with just a battery change

Minuses:

  • Slight alignment issues with the wing halves
  • 7-cell NiMh battery not suitable for ESC
Last edited by Angela H; Jun 30, 2009 at 04:30 PM..

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Old Jun 30, 2009, 04:36 PM
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Xpress..'s Avatar
United States, CA, Alpine
Joined Oct 2007
20,964 Posts
Great review! Looks like a fun plane for anyone!
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Old Jul 01, 2009, 09:44 AM
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Bedford, Texas
Joined Dec 2006
62 Posts
Nice review of a fun airplane. I have the single wing version without ailerons and it flies great. My only gripe about the airplane is that you have to remove the wing to insert a battery. I would prefer an externally accessable battery compartment that would not require removing all of those wing rubber bands each flight to plug in and unplug the battery. I am looking at cutting a hatch in the bottom of the forward fuselage to provide a battery compartment. The only hang up is finding replacement covering material. I wonder if Hobby Lobby sells it.

Rod
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Old Jul 01, 2009, 09:52 AM
Registered User
Baltimore
Joined Apr 2009
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Great review, I actually just got one this past weekend at Hobby-Lobby's sidewalk sale. I have been flying mainly jets and aerobatics recently, but this plane is still a joy to fly. I have also encountered the same NiMH error with the ESC. Other than that no problems. I can't wait to try it with the 3-cell mod!

Thanks again for doing such a great review!
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Old Jul 01, 2009, 10:17 AM
Yea..When mowers fly!
Jay-viator's Avatar
The White House?
Joined Apr 2008
1,574 Posts
Awesome, very good and informative review. Now yet another bird on the ol' wishlist.
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 12:29 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,137 Posts
Thanks for the kind words.

I agree the battery change out is not as easy as it could be with a hatch. One of our club members cut a hatch in the top just in front of the windshield and it makes life a lot easier. I'll see if I can get some pics and post them.

Best be careful with the 3-cell lipo packs, the performance can become addictive. I only fly mine with a 3-cell pack now, but I don't inhale -- I mean I don't use FULL throttle. Not very often. I mean only every now and then. I mean only when I really need to get out of a jam ----- I can go back to a 2-cell pack anytime I want to. Really.

McD
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 12:45 AM
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Xpress..'s Avatar
United States, CA, Alpine
Joined Oct 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingsflyer
Best be careful with the 3-cell lipo packs, the performance can become addictive. I only fly mine with a 3-cell pack now, but I don't inhale -- I mean I don't use FULL throttle. Not very often. I mean only every now and then. I mean only when I really need to get out of a jam ----- I can go back to a 2-cell pack anytime I want to. Really.
Suuuuree I believe you
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 10:23 AM
The ground is approaching fast
Lewisville, TX
Joined Feb 2009
125 Posts
This is an excellent review. I originally purchased the single wing version and upgraded to the aileron wings soon after. This is an excellent flying airplane. I started off using a 2-cell 1300 lipo and now i've been regularly using the 3-cell 1300 which makes it a totally different airplane in terms of speed and handling. Since I taught myself how to fly with a little help from a simulator I wrecked 3 planes before deciding to get a true trainer acft and I must say I have mastered the telemaster and moved on to my more aerobatic planes with ease (I am used to doing stuff backwards so it was no surprise there).

The telemaster is also a very durable plane, i've damaged it so much by busting out the firewall, breaking the tail in half 3 times, etc., etc. and it keeps on ticking. This is my first balsa plane and at first I was hesitant at first because I thought it would be a lot harder to repair than a foamy but I could not be more wrong. The sides are 1/16 balsa and with a 3"x36" sheet hobby knife and medium CA I was able to repair the tail each time. The tail broke a lot because I would practice aerobatic moves waaay to low and plow into the ground, it broke in different places each time and of course my fault each time totally. I had so much damage I almost retired it several times but one day with nothing else to do I decided to repair it and its like a brand new airplane and being this is my first balsa plane I am impressed and I also impressed a lot of guys at the field. Another great feature of the mini is you can hand launch it with ease if the grass at your field is too high.

I made about 4-5 hatches before I decided on a design that worked. I used a basswood sheet (for stiffness) from my LHS, small zip ties as hinges, and and a self-stick red trim sheet all for about $6 or it could be less for you if you have some of the items laying around.

King, you are correct about the wings and handling the wind. When I had the non-aileron wing I would get so frustrated not being able to fly when people with similar sized airplanes with ailerons were not having that much trouble. With ailerons it handled great in the wind with both a 2 and 3 cell lipo. I was at the field a few weeks ago and was flying with ease in 15-20 mph gusts.
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 02:54 PM
We shall serve the Lord
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United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
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Thanks kaging. Nice hatch mod BTW. Looks like it gives you plenty of room to install almost any size lipo pack. Looks like you could use magnets, slide locks, hook & loop, or just a rubber band around the fuselage to hold down the front of the hatch.
McD
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Old Jul 02, 2009, 04:29 PM
The ground is approaching fast
Lewisville, TX
Joined Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingsflyer
Thanks kaging. Nice hatch mod BTW. Looks like it gives you plenty of room to install almost any size lipo pack. Looks like you could use magnets, slide locks, hook & loop, or just a rubber band around the fuselage to hold down the front of the hatch.
McD
King, its funny you mention those options as far has holding down the hatch because I have used them all at on point but I ended up using a server arm screwed down in front of the hatch that I just swing over and then open the hatch. Earth magnets that I picked up from ace hardware also work well and if you are not into looks then a rubber band around the fuselage is the simplest method. To get my cg right I had to put the battery and esc all the way forward and I still had to tape 4 quarters to the top of the hatch so I am guessing if I were to get rid of the quarters then I could fit at least a 3-cell 1800 lipo and still keep the cg balanced correctly.
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Old Jul 23, 2009, 07:34 PM
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Joined Jul 2009
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New Mini Telemaster Flyer

I just transitioned from my HZ Super Cub to the Mini Telemaster (a beginning flyer) and what a difference - quality, design, ease of flight, etc. I assembled the ARF without problems, beefed up the firewall, landing gear plate & servo tray and installed a 2830 "400" size motor with 30 amp ESC & a 3 cell 1800 mah Lipo, and this combination in this airplane will keep me busy for some time with all it has to offer. But even with the upgraded power package and with everything up front, the CG just barely balances and I need a couple of clicks of nose down trim to stay level. Some of my local club flyers who have helped me with the MT have urged me to get the aileron wing to get the most out of my training experience but Hobby-Lobby tells me it will be at least 6 weeks until they get any in stock & every other online hobby store is also out of stock. Anyone know where I might obtain one? Thanks.
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Old Jul 23, 2009, 10:04 PM
The ground is approaching fast
Lewisville, TX
Joined Feb 2009
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jedorme .... Earlier this year I had to wait two months for my aileron wings but they finally did come on the expected date.... Trust me its worth waiting for.
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Old Jul 24, 2009, 12:33 PM
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Joined Jul 2009
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kaging - Thanks for the encouragement & I guess I'll just have to wait it out. This morning I tried to fly in winds that weren't that strong but gusty, and after one flight with not much control, I decided I had better just practice taxiing on the ground. I think ailerons and a flatter wing would have kept me in the air!
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Old Jul 24, 2009, 01:30 PM
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Nicholasville, Kentucky
Joined Sep 2004
125 Posts
Can this plane be hand launched?
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Old Jul 24, 2009, 01:54 PM
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Joined Jul 2009
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Dmoores - The MT can absolutely be hand launched. As a new flyer, I do it mysef when flying alone, but I get a buddy flyer to do it if available.
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