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Subsonic's Motrolfly Plug and Play Power System: Motor, Controller & Battery Review

Michael Heer reviews the Motrolfly Plug and Play power system from Subsonic. No soldering required! Simple as 1,2,3!

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Introduction

Motrolfly Products are now Plug N Play. All Motrolfly Motors and ESC come with pre-soldered bullet connectors, and all 20 Amp and larger ESCs come with W.S. Deans Ultra Plug pre-soldered. Sonic Power batteries will now come with Deans Ultra Plug pre-soldered for a true Plug N Play power system (no soldering).

A few years ago I upgraded my Multiplex Hummel (now out of production) parkflyer from a geared brushed motor to a brushless motor and controller from Motrolfly. The DM2215 motor and 20A controller worked beautifully together in that plane. When I got a World Models Super Chipmunk from Airborne Models, I wanted to upgrade it from the included geared brushed motor to a brushless system so I contacted Ken at Motrolfly to get his recommendations. He recommended the DM2210-1080 motor as part of his new plug and play system. The plug and play system includes the motor, matching speed controller and a battery pack. I really liked the idea of the plug and play systems: There was no need for me to solder on connectors because they came already installed. I told Ken that motor combo sounded great! After it arrived I realized that I had used the DM2210-1080 with a Motrolfly ESC to power my 38" Maxford Jenny, and I remembered that it supplied terrific power in that plane.

Welcome to the review of the Motrolfly Plug and Play system as tested in my World Model Super Chipmunk, imported by Airborne Models!


Motor:Motrolfly Brushless outrunner 2210-1080
ESC:Motrolfly FM-20, 20 Amp brushless ESC
Battery:3-cell 11.1V 850 mAh 30C pack
Manufacturer:Motrolfly
Available From:Subsonic
Price:Varies with size of battery pack selected

Kit Contents

Kit Contents:

  • Motrolfly Brushless outrunner motor model 2210-1080
  • Motrolfly 20 Amp brushless ESC
  • Sonic Power 3-cell 11.1V 850mAp 30C battery pack

I supplied:

  • Allen wrenches
  • screwdrivers
  • Velcro
  • My World Model Super Chipmunk EP parkflyer
  • Balanced Li-Po charger

The Combo Selections

I communicated with Ken at Subsonic by e-mail and told him what I wanted to do for the current project and one that was a month or two away. The first project was Super Chipmunk, a parkflyer; the second project involved my Poquito glider, a former hand toss glider that I had converted to brushed electric years ago. We agreed that the Motrofly 2210-1080 motor was a good selection for both projects but we were not certain it would fit the second project's narrow fuselage: The wires on a brushless motor mounted behind a firewall would be near the front of the motor as it would be mounted in the fuselage, and there was very limited space in the fuselage right behind the firewall. Since the motor would definitely fit my Super Chipmunk project, there was no risk in ordering one set and seeing how it fit in both projects. The ESC selection was the Motrolfly FM-20 since it could handle the motor, and its BEC would run my receiver and four sub-micro servos without a problem.

A little more thought went into the battery selection. Subsonic has a variety of battery packs to select from for the combo packages. Both of my projects involved smaller aircraft so I wanted a smaller battery pack that would give me some good full power runs and also supply BEC to run the radio and servos. I also wanted the pack to be light for possible gliding aspects of the second project. I selected the 3-cell 850mAp pack.


Motor specs: DM2210-1080.
Type: Brushless Outrunner
Motor Weight: 43g
Diameter: 27.7mm
Length: 37.7mm
Output Shaft Size: 3mm
BATTERY: 2s-3s Lipo
Amp draw: 10-14A max
Prop: 10 x 5 electric
Voltage Used: 7.4-11.1V
Maximum Current: 15A
Speed Control: 20A Brushless
KV: 993KV
Price: $35.95


Type: 3-Cell 30 C Lipoly Pack 850 mAh
Weight: 77 grams
Length: 68.5mm (2.7 inch)
Width: 17mm (.67 inch)
Height: 35.5mm (1.4 inch)
Max Continuous Discharge: 25.5A
Max Burst Discharge Rate: For 30 sec. 34A
Price: $28.95

Motrolfly FM-20
Motrolfly FM-20
Type: Brushless Motor Controller
Max amps: 20A
BEC: 2 amp
Weight: .6 ounce
Length: 1.32"
Width: .9"
Height: .34"
Brake: On/Off
Price: $27.95

Reversing the Motor/Propeller Shaft

For use in the Super Chipmunk or the Poquito, the motor/propeller shaft needed to be reversed so that the motor would mount to the backside of the firewall with the mounting bolts coming in through the front of the firewall. The motor as sold was intended to be mounted to the front of a firewall with the mounting screws coming in from behind the firewall. Since I needed to mount it to the back of the firewall with the propeller shaft going through the firewall. I had to take the motor apart and reverse the propeller shaft.

The motor/propeller shaft was 3.0mm. I removed three Allen nuts holding the motor together and the shaft retainer clip and pulled the motor apart. I set the motor between two boards and tapped on the motor/propeller shaft with a hammer. I carefully knocked the shaft down and out of one end of the motor case. I used a used a small screwdriver as my finishing tool to get the shaft out of the motor casing. I reversed the casing, and resting it on the wood, I tapped the shaft with the clip retaining circle into the housing until the retainer clip line was just on the outside of the housing. I put the housing back together and secured the propeller shaft and housing with the three Allen nuts and placed the retaining clip back on the motor. The motor was ready to mount inside my aircraft with the propeller shaft mounted through the firewall. it should be noted that the end bell assembly should be removed from the motor when reversing the shaft to keep from damaging the motor. They can do this on most motors at the customer's request.

Installing the Motor

The Super Chipmunk came with a brushed 400 motor and a large gear box for the motor. Fortunately, the Super Chipmunk also included a second motor mount for installing a brushless motor. I am happy to say the motor as well as the rest of the plug and fly system easily fit into my Super Chipmunk as shown in the pictures below. It was extremely helpful that World Models included the second motor mount to use with a brushless motor.

The Super Chipmunk, my motor system "Test Bed"

Wingspan:39.5"
Wing Area:260 sq in
Weight with brushed motor:25.5 oz.
Weight as tested:22.7 ounces
Length:32"
Servos:GWS Naro + Digital servos
Transmitter:Spektrum DX 7
Receiver:Spektrum AR500
Battery:Sub Sonic 3-cell 850mAh
Motor:Motrolfly DM 2200-1080
ESC:Motrolfly FM-20
Manufacturer:The World Models
Available From:Airborne Models

The Super Chipmunk is a very nice kit, and little is required by the way of assembly. It is light but strong for its weight and intended flight envelope. I only had to touch up the covering in two places which took less than a minute once my iron was warm. With regards to design, the only minor problem was that there was no direct access to the battery pack. The wing was secured with two bolts which must be removed to access the battery. It was a quick process of removing the two screws but not as easy as a battery hatch held in place by magnets would have been. I opted to stay with the fuselage as it was rather than make a battery hatch cover for access at this time.

In converting the Super Chipmunk from the designed use of a geared brushed motor to the selected brushless motor and from the intended 8-cell NiMH pack to my 3-cell Lipoly back there was a huge reduction in the weight of the motor system. Most of that weight was lost from the nose area of the plane. Some alterations were necessary to get the plane to balance on the C/G. They intended for the battery pack to go under the wing. I moved it forward to the compartment right behind the nose of the plane. This helped, but still wasn't enough weight forward to balance the plane. I ended up adding two ounces of lead to the back of the motor mount area. This was out of the way of operation yet as far forward as I could easily go with the weight.

Two into one Elevator Control Rod Box worked very well on the Chipmunk

The Super Chipmunk has split elevators and had a new (to me) way of handling the required two control rods to the elevators solution. It was a very small plastic box in two halves with three grooves for rods, three screws and three glue holes. Two long rods went in one side of the box and a short rod in the other side. I joined the halves with the three supplied screws and then added CA into the box through the three holes. One hole each at the inside end of the rod. Looking at the design I wasn't sure about it but testing the strength after assembly I was sold on the method! Since I am using E-Z connectors on the servo and elevator control arms I used the smooth end and the end of the rod with screws in the box and tried pulling the out even before adding the glue. Neither one budged. Their little box did a great job of handling the needed two connector rods for the elevators. The box method is something I can build for other planes in the future as needed.

Testing of GWS Digital Servos

GWS Naro + Digital servo
GWS Naro + Digital servo
Type: Digital Sub-Micro Servo
Operating Speed: 0.13 sec/60 @6 volts
Operating Speed: 0.16 sec/60 @4.8 volts
Torque (6V): 28 oz-in.
Torque (4.8V): 22 oz-in.
Weight: 0.35 oz.
Dimensions: 0.87" x 0.43"x 0.96"
Gear Type: Nylon
Price: $29.99

Four GWS Naro + digital servos were used to operate the control surfaces on the Chipmunk, and they were powered through the receiver by the Motrolfly ESC's Battery Elimination Circuitry (BEC). The ESC's BEC performed perfectly in powering the receiver and operating the four digital servos. This servo test is part of a larger test using multiple planes and GWS digital servos of different sizes. So far in my test planes the servos have all worked well. I have been favorably impressed with the precision and power of these servos.

Completion

Reversing the motor/propeller shaft was the only somewhat unusual part of this assembly process, and as described above, it was easy enough to do. In retrospect I might have selected a heavier battery but the one I chose fit perfectly in the front compartment and supplied great power. A bigger battery would have likely been longer than the one I selected and would likely not have fit as well.

Operation of the Plug and Play Unit

Bench Testing

I did a little bench testing of the Plug and Play combination. I tested the motor and controller with a couple of other batteries using a GWS 9 x 6 propeller. The Subsonic combo tested very well. With the Subsonic 3.11 Volt 850 mAh pack rated 30C fully charged at full throttle I had a reading of 12.3 Volts and 171 Watt draw. Moving the stick down to the middle position (half throttle) the watt draw was only 33 Watts. Using a large 3750 mAh battery pack that was a year and a half old and rated 25C the draw at half throttle was 33 amps but only 140 amps at full throttle. (That pack was almost fully charged.) Using a newer Thunder Power fully charged 11.1V 2600 mAh pack the half throttle draw was 33 watts and full throttle draw was 174 watts.

After approximately a minute of operation and with the motor off the Subsonic battery reading for voltage was 12.1 volts. At full throttle the voltage reading dropped to 11.3 volts and the Watts being drawn were 152. A short time after that I took the second picture below at full throttle, and the voltage reading was 10.8V and the Amps was 12.9 and Watts was 141. Playing with the throttle I discovered that the last few clicks of full throttle really upped the wattage draw but the motor/prop didn't sound that much more productive. (Later test flights would confirm that the speed didn't increase much with those last few clicks but the length of flight time was shortened.)

The unit performed very well on the bench. The battery, for its small size, performed very well at delivering the Watts at full throttle. The indications were that full throttle flights would be relatively short when compared to those at or slightly above half throttle. 3/4s throttle would render good speed and relatively long flights. I would be best served when I wanted speed to go just short of full throttle. The speed would only be slightly less than full but the power consumptions was significantly lower just a few clicks down from full throttle.

Flying

The Motrolfly combination supplied excellent power for vertical climb with the Chipmunk. The servos worked well, and the BEC could handle the power draw from all four digital sub-micro servos working at the same time. When I gave the chipmunk full power it was almost scary how quickly it would accelerate. The power for such a small motor was truly impressive. Additionally, the power could be reduced to half throttle for long smooth extended flights. Seeing her in the air, I was reminded how well the same motor and ESC powered my Jenny biplane from Maxford USA. I got in six nice flights with the plane by myself. I just needed a nice day and a friend to capture the video to conclude this article.

Is This For a Beginner?

If the beginner is building or assembling his own trainer plane a Subsonic Plug and Play power unit is a good way to go. As for the Super Chipmunk it makes a good second plane for the pilot ready to handle ailerons.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

I damaged the on/off dial on my camera, and during the videotaping of the Chipmunk being done by yet another friend, the dial fell off just after the plane took off, and the camera turned itself off. A very short piece of video is all I have of the Super Chipmunk in flight.

Downloads

Since this is primarily a review of the motor plug and play system featuring the Motrolfly 2210-1080 motor and FM-20 ESC I looked to see if I could complete this review without having to start all over with another plane. (the motor and radio gear survived the crash.) I have decided to use the video of my Curtis Jenny since it was/is powered with the same size and model Motrolfly motor and ESC. It shows the power of the motor, especially at the end of the video with a full power take off. So with my apologizes I use an old video to conclude this review. It does display the 20A FM-20 Motrolfly ESC and the DM2210-1080 Motrolfly motor and therefore I don't think it is an inappropriate video, but certainly not the way I was planning on ending this review.

Downloads

Conclusion

The Motrolfly Plug and Play unit worked great. I loved being able to plug the wires together to connect the motor, the controller and the battery pack without having to solder. Reversing the propeller shaft to properly mount the motor was not difficult as discussed. My Super Chipmunk was quickly ready to fly. The motor and controller worked well together and the Sub Sonic 30C battery pack gave great power to obtain vertical climb. The GWS servos worked well as did the Super Chipmunk until I tried to fly a wing through a thin steel cable I didn't see. I found the best combination for very good speed and duration was a few clicks below full throttle.

Pluses:

  • Can pick the size components you need for a project.
  • The components worked well together.
  • I could pick the size battery I needed for the project.
  • No soldering was required.
  • Did a great job in powering my Super Chipmunk and Curtis Jenny.
  • Will go into another plane shortly.

Minuses:

  • Due to wire location an outrunner motor wasn't the best choice for my Poquito's narrow fuselage.
  • Super Chipmunk couldn't fly through a steel cable.
Last edited by Angela H; Feb 25, 2010 at 01:06 PM..

Discussion

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Old Feb 25, 2010, 01:16 PM
Why yes, I am an R/C addict!
flyrcehelis's Avatar
About 15 miles from Bristow, OK
Joined May 2009
650 Posts
I like soldering. Kinda. I know, I'm crazy. I like soldering.
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 01:20 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,377 Posts
Stop inhaling the solder fumes.
If only you lived nearby. Mike H
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 01:21 PM
Why yes, I am an R/C addict!
flyrcehelis's Avatar
About 15 miles from Bristow, OK
Joined May 2009
650 Posts
sry duplicate post
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Last edited by flyrcehelis; Feb 25, 2010 at 04:12 PM.
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 04:12 PM
Why yes, I am an R/C addict!
flyrcehelis's Avatar
About 15 miles from Bristow, OK
Joined May 2009
650 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by michael heer View Post
stop inhaling the solder fumes.:d
if only you lived nearby. Mike h
lol
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 04:39 PM
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tallflyer's Avatar
United States, CA, San Diego
Joined Jul 2002
6,343 Posts
Love Subsonic Stuff!

As a Friend and Local Dealer of Motrofly products I have been a fan for a couple years of the Quality and the performance of the Motors And ESC's

Most of My slofly type aircraft have the 1350 motors usinf a 2 cell pack and a gws prop 9050

his new Plug and play makes a world of Difference! I hate to Solder love the fact that I can spen more time flying and less time building!

Robert

http://www.sdparkflyers.com
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 06:27 PM
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Dr Kiwi's Avatar
Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States
Joined May 2003
27,197 Posts
Using a large 3750 mAh battery pack that was a year and a half old and rated 25C the draw at half throttle was 33 amps but only 140 amps at full throttle.

Just a minor correction needed in the review... I assume 33W and 140W. I know these Motrolfly motors are pretty good... but 140A might over-cook the poor little guy!
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 07:15 PM
Registered User
Omaha Nebraska
Joined Apr 2008
320 Posts
I think Dr Kiwi is right on this one, LOL

Very good review Michael, looks like you put tons of work in to this.
Too bad on the camera I would have loved to see the Video.

Also I would like to say that if anyone needs to have a shaft reversed on any Motrolfly motor we would be happy to do it for you.

Ken
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 08:36 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,377 Posts
Yes Dr Kiwi is correct. I caught that mistake and corrected it but I must not have hit save. Ken, I will take you up on prop reversals in the future but this one went very well. Great working gear! It was a pleasure to test it and review it. Mike Heer
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 08:46 PM
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Omaha Nebraska
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You are very welcome
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Old Feb 26, 2010, 05:24 PM
OOPS
Manta1's Avatar
USA, GA, Cochran
Joined Jun 2008
20,153 Posts
nice review!motrofly products are awsome and customer service is great too!
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 08:14 PM
Pro Bro # 2398
GassPasser's Avatar
BoonVegas, Indiana
Joined Dec 2005
674 Posts
if only we could by the motors with the shaft facing the direction needed you would really be on to something, because i hate soldering as much as changing shaft directions.
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Old Mar 26, 2010, 08:29 PM
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Dr Kiwi's Avatar
Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States
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If you HAVE to mount your motors in front of the firewall, then maybe this would work?
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 08:18 AM
Pro Bro # 2398
GassPasser's Avatar
BoonVegas, Indiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Kiwi View Post
If you HAVE to mount your motors in front of the firewall, then maybe this would work?
what is this motor mount from? Dr Kiwi ?
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 08:25 AM
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http://www.hobby-lobby.com/motormt.htm
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