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Hacker Model Production Super Zoom XL ARF Review

How do you make a really fun plane even more fun? One way is to bump up the size and power system. Welcome to the second part of a two-part review of some fantastic flat foamies from Hacker Model Production!

Splash

Introduction

Wingspan:47.25" (1200mm)
Wing Area:409 sq. in. (2640 sq. cm)
All-up Weight:22 oz. (610g)
Length:48" (1220mm)
Wing Loading (approximate):7 oz/sq. ft. (18.5g/sq. dm)
Servos:GWS Naro Super S D metal-geared digital
Transmitter:Spektrum DX6i six-channel spread spectrum
Receiver:Spektrum AR6110
Batteries:Flightmax and E-flite 1800mAh 3S 20C lithium-polymer
Motor:Motrolfly DM2610 1200Kv brushless outrunner
Propeller:Landing Products/Advanced Precision Composites 10x5 electric
ESC:Motrolfly FM30A 30-ampere with 3-ampere BEC
Manufacturer:Hacker Model Production a.s., Zahradní 465 270 54 Řevničov, Czech Republic
Catalog Number:HC1304C - blue
Other Catalog Numbers:HC1304A - red; HC1304B - yellow
Available From:RCBaron.com among others
Retail Price/Actual Selling Price (USD):$138/$101.45

When last we met here at RCGroups.com, it was my pleasure to review a fantastic 3D profile foamie, the Hacker Model Production Super Zoom 2. I should point out that this review had a string or two attached to it.

Part of reviewing that model, you see, was to review not just one but two of Hacker's EPP foam planes, both shipped directly from the Hacker factory in Řevničov, Czech Republic. Double the writing, double the photography, double the videography...ah, but double the fun.

Welcome to the fun as we delve into part two of our two part series. Introducing the Hacker Model Production Super Zoom XL, one of the Big Kahunas of Hacker's "Top Flyer" series of electric-powered, 3D foam model aircraft. Despite a 1.2 meter wingspan with roughly forty percent of the wing area taken up by the ailerons, there's actually one more model in the Hacker lineup not listed in the catalog which eclipses even this big foamie. It's the Super Zoom XXL with its 1500mm wingspan. You can learn more about that model on Hacker's own site here.

We're about to dig into the assembly of this example from Hacker's initial production run. You'll see it's remarkably like that of the Super Zoom 2.

Only bigger.

Is bigger equal to more fun? We're about to find out, so kick back, relax and read on as we put this Big Kahuna together and then put it through its paces.

Kit Contents

Strong sense of "deja vu" here. The parts count and layout are identical to its little brother.

Assembly

I can recall the first time I opened up the lids of these two models; the first thing I noticed was the rather rough finish of the parts. It made sense after some thought; the computer-printed graphics need a rough surface to adhere to. That in turn makes it difficult to add stickers. I wanted to place an RCGroups.com decal under the wing, but it simply wouldn't stick. It was for the best; the beautifully applied, sharp and clear CNC graphics don't need stickers. As for the actual graphics scheme, it's very much like the Super Zoom 2 insofar as its checkered flag/lightning bolt motif. Colors are somewhat muted, but between the hot rod graphics on top and the invasion stripes below, the Super Zoom XL promises to be an eye-popper.

Further proof that Hacker's foam models are a notch above the usual involves actual CNC machining and final shaping of some parts. The best examples include the wingtips and the upper edge of the fuselage. Even the leading edges of the horizontal stabilizer are machined. I was impressed to see this attention to detail in the Super Zoom 2 and I'm equally impressed to see it now.

Slightly less attention was paid to the packaging. It's of very high quality and Hacker has done a beautiful job of loosely packing the foam parts without the need for a bunch of plastic bags and yards of tape, but there's one glaring error:

Yup. The web address is misspelled.

This goes back to one of the very few negative comments I made about the Super Zoom 2. Hacker Model Production prices their models accordingly; they aren't what you'd call "bargain bin fare" but instead are true world-class products. Both the packaging and documentation need to be world-class as well in the highly competitive hobby market. It's easy to have another pair of eyes double-check the printing and to have a native speaker of English make any necessary corrections to the docs.

That said, let's turn our attention to the construction basics, starting with your shopping list:

  • Large bottle of thin CA (regular, not foam-safe)
  • CA accelerator
  • CA debonder
  • Five-minute epoxy (optional to mount the landing gear retainer block)
  • Razor knife with new blades (X-Acto #11 or equivalent)
  • #1 Phillips screwdriver
  • Small slotted screwdriver
  • Bubble level, T-square, yardstick or similar straight-edged tool
  • Tape measure or dressmaker's tape
  • Metric ruler
  • Transparent tape

Here's the required onboard equipment:

  • Four-channel or greater aircraft radio with end-point adjustment capability
  • Four mini-sized servos and two 12" lightweight servo extensions
  • Y-harness or dual servo extension for the ailerons depending on your radio setup and preferences
  • 1000 - 1100Kv brushless motor (38mm diameter, 26mm length, 98g weight)
  • 35-ampere electronic speed control with a 9" lightweight servo extension (I used a 30-amp unit; more on that later)
  • Standard 10x5E propeller - not slow flyer
  • 1100 - 1800mAh 3S lithium polymer battery

Wing

If you happened to catch my review of the Super Zoom 2 or if you've ever assembled a 2 of you're own, you're going to feel right at home. The assembly steps are in exactly the same order.

The basic assembly of the two-part wing begins with careful manual alignment of the halves; there are no guide pins. Some thin CA and kicker is called for throughout the assembly of the XL. Once it wicks through the foam and sets, it holds like a pit bull.

Next, carefully slice through the underside of the wing as indicated in order to install a thin, meter-long carbon fiber reinforcement spar. Use a name brand, new blade for this process. I had used up my last good blade assembling the Super Zoom 2 and I reached for a new but cheap #11 replacement blade. It tore the foam more than actually cutting it at first. The quality blade slices right through the EPP foam, but this brute almost made a mess on the initial slice. Install the spar, but don't glue it down yet despite what the manual says. Trust me.

Repeat the slice on the top of the wing for the insertion of the second CF rod. Not gluing the bottom rod will make this step much easier since you're not sawing through CA to make the slice. I ran into some trouble here: My top CF spar snapped in two as I tucked it in! Undaunted, I installed it anyway and glued both top and bottom spars in place. The wing was nice and stiff, but after some thought, I wasn't taking chances on a weakened spar. Off to the hobby shop for a Midwest Products .060" x .40" (1.5mm x 1016mm) CF rod, as much a near-perfect match for the 1.5mm x 1000mm original as you're likely to find. I simply sliced a new slot next to the factory spar, installed the new spar and voila. Cheap insurance for US$4.29. Note to self: Carbon fiber doesn't bend as well as EPP foam. Lesson learned.

Another lesson which needed quick learning was that of "read the manual." I opened up an area for the servo per the instructions...but in the wrong place! At least I got a first-hand account how easy this EPP is to repair. I simply trimmed some scrap foam previously cut from the Super Zoom 2 I last reviewed, glued it down, sanded the surface a bit and I had a perfectly serviceable patch which will be invisible in flight. Naturally, I was exercised considerably more care in opening the actual locations for the servos.

Despite my setbacks, I now had a basically complete wing awaiting installation, servos, pushrods and control horns, one which has CNC-machined edges, no less. We'll see a lot of this attention to detail as we proceed, so on to the fuselage we go.

Fuselage

Assembly begins with gluing the machined, pre-painted foam stiffeners to either side of the fuselage. Even though the fuselage is of the flat profile variety, more CNC machining is evident here.

Once the stiffeners are in place, it's time to reinforce them with the supplied carbon fiber rods. Begin by slitting the stiffeners with the aid of a ruler a little bit at a time, then tuck a rod on each side as done with the wing stiffeners.

Here's a hint: Spray on the kicker first, Then add the CA to the cut a little at a time. I discovered this method sets up the CA before it has a chance to wick through the matrix of the foam and glue your fingers on the opposite side.

The wing assembly is now placed in its pocket in the fuselage. Don't be afraid to pull up the mounting tab on the fuselage; the Super Zoom XL is as flexible as a pool noodle. Triangulating the wing to the fuselage and gluing both it and the wooden landing gear receptacle block completes this phase of assembly.

Jumping ahead somewhat, I highly recommend that you do not skimp on the CA when mounting the landing gear block. Make sure all of the seams are sealed near and around it because if you don't it will almost certainly tear off upon landing. That's what I found out later; regluing the block with plenty of CA did the trick. This is especially important if you're flying off grass. Karel Hacker personally recommended the use of larger wheels and/or the removal of the landing gear assembly if you're using a grass field. He'd also recommended the use of five-minute epoxy to secure the block. Mine is now mounted firmly, but if it comes loose, I'll epoxy it down. I'd further suggest applying a strip of transparent packing tape along the bottom edge of the fuselage to protect it if you plan to do a lot of gearless flying.

Tail

Step 11 begins assembly of the tail beginning with the joining of the elevator halves with the so-called "spruce." I ran into this same definition in the Super Zoom 2 review. The part is one of only two wooden parts aside from the motor mount and it does in fact appear to be made of spruce.

Cutting the elevator as indicated and installing the joiner results in a nice, strong system; the joiner is the same thickness as the elevator which makes it easy to align the halves. Alignment tabs make it easy to properly install the horizontal stabilizer. Triangulate it with the wingtips, glue it down, voila.

Most of the next several steps outline the installation of the gigantic rudder; virtually all of the tail is in fact the rudder, which can make for some crazy knife edges with enough throw.

One of the things I raved about in the previous review was the fiberglass sheet containing the CNC-routed servo horns. The Super Zoom XL is no exception; it too comes with these beautifully custom-routed horns with plenty of surface area to attach them to the control surfaces. Machined foam, machined horns; is it any wonder this is a premium-priced model?

Step 19 brings us to the assembly of the control surface pushrods, a combination of carbon fiber rods, pre-bent wire and shrink wrap tubing. The photo refers back to the numbered parts layout at the start of the manual and indicates which pushrod is which. The shrink wrap and a drop of CA actually make for a strong, dependable unit with the lightness of carbon fiber and the strength of a steel z-bend at the servo arm.

Speaking of which, now is the time to install Hacker's fantastic pushrod connectors to the servo arms. I raved about the quality and strength of these clamps in the review of the Super Zoom 2 and I'll do so again here. They're retained not by a screw post and thread lock compound but rather by a proper one-way star washer. A metal tab which passes through the pushrod mounting screw and back around through the pushrod opening spreads the torque of the mounting screw across a wider area.

These little beauties are available under part number HC 5605B.

Radio Installation

Some serious thanks are once again due to Grand Wing System USA Inc. and RCGroups author Michael Heer for their work in providing servos for the review of this and other fine models. These programmable, metal-geared digital mini-servos are simply perfect for this application:


Weight:.67 oz. (19g)
Operating Voltage:4.8v - 6.0v
Speed:.1 second/60deg@4.8v; .083 second/60deg@6.0v
Torque:62 oz./in. (4.5kg/cm)@4.8v; 69 oz./in (5.0kg/cm)@6.0v
Resolution:12 bit/4096 steps
Dimensions:1.08x.50x.97" (27x12.7x26.65mm)
Connector:Standard three-wire Futaba or JR
Catalog ID:GWSVDNRSPSJ
Manufacturer:Grand Wing Servo-Tech Co. Ltd., 153, Sec. 2, Datung Road., Shijr City, Taipei 221, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Distributor:Grand Wing System USA Inc., 138 South Brent Circle, City of Industry, California USA 91789-3050
Average Selling Price (USD):$30.00

I have jump ahead a bit, go on record and state that in seven years of R/C flying and 22 years in R/C overall, I have never seen faster servos than these. Once installed and connected to the control surfaces, I hooked up an ESC, receiver and battery and wiggled the transmitter sticks.

That claim of one-tenth of a second transit time is legit. Not only are these fast, but smooth as well. The high-speed frame rate is evident with slow movement of the sticks. No jittering, no searching for neutral, nothing but perfectly linear response. Those metal gears should mean that these servos will retain their accuracy for a long time. In short, GWS has hit a home run with what are clearly among the finest in their class. Dependability? You bet. GWS shipped more than one hundred servos for use in these reviews; only one failed. To my way of thinking, a failure rate of less than one percent is beyond impressive.

Steps 21 through 25 cover the installation of the aileron servo horns and the servos themselves. Installation is straightforward with easy-to-follow directions regarding the location of the servos and their installation. If you decide to follow suit and use these marvelous GWS servos on your own Super Zoom XL, keep in mind that all of the supplied arms are of the same length and too short for the ailerons. Sadly, I'd done this stage of the assembly at the same time as I'd done the Super Zoom 2. As such, I couldn't remove the fantastic Hacker pushrod clamps from the GWS servo arms. I had to do with this model as I'd done with the other and substitute Great Planes Screw-Lock Pushrod Connectors from a bulk package (GMMQ3871).

The three-piece wooden motor mount goes together easily and locks down with a bit of CA. There's two degrees of right offset built into the mount; it's easily aligned thanks to a couple of small indicator holes on the horizontal parts of the mount.

Unless you're using the Hyperion motor shown in the photos, you'll need some mounting hardware. It was off to the Du-Bro rack at the hobby shop for a pack of 4-40 blind nuts (catalog number 135) and some 4-40 x 1/2" socket head cap screws (catalog number 571). You'll need #4 washers; I had a few Great Planes washers (GPMQ3402) on hand.

The motor in this case is the beautifully built Motrolfly DM2610 1200Kv outrunner provided by Ken Young at Subsonic Planes in Omaha, Nebraska (www.subsonicplanes.com). Ken is, without question, one of the most knowledgeable individuals in regards to electric power systems for model aircraft whom I've ever had the pleasure of dealing with. He's provided a lot of systems for RCGroups.com reviews and if you take a moment and browse my previous two reviews, you'll see just how fine I believe his products to be.

I ran into a small problem while trying to attach the cross mount to the motor. The holes in the motor are 3 mm, but the countersunk machine screws provided were 3.5 mm. Not a problem; ordinary R/C motor mount screws from the local hobby shop will work, but the screws I found on the racks were packaged in multiple sizes for particular Traxxas and Losi surface models. I wound up with a ten-pack of 3x5 mm screws from Racer's Edge (RCE 20600). They were a tad shorter than the factory screws, but still had plenty of bite aided by a dab of blue threadlocking compound.

Once the motor is in place, you can attach leads to the ESC. Subsonic Planes provided a Motrolfly FM30 30-amp controller for the task. Like all of Subsonic's products, the ESC came completely ready to plug in and play with its pre-installed 3.5mm bullet connectors and Deans Ultra-Plug. I do enjoy soldering, but it's certainly preferable to simply plug the components together. If you hate soldering, you'll love Subsonic Planes products all the more.

Hacker recommends a 35-amp unit; I thought that the 30-amp unit had been shipped in error, so I e-mailed Ken. He got back to me right away with the good news that the motor and ESC swinging a 10x5E prop had a maximum current draw of 26 amps.

I told you this guy knows his stuff.

Installing the ESC involves cutting an opening in the fuselage slightly smaller than the ESC itself. The foam does a terrific job of holding the unit in place, so don't worry about glue or tape.

The servo leads and ESC receiver lead are all going to need extensions; I used two E-flite 12" extensions (EFLREX12L) for the elevator and rudder, an E-flite 9" lightweight extension (EFLREX9L) for the ESC and a regular Y-harness scrounged off of another model for the ailerons. I had hoped to use a Futaba dual-servo extension as used on the Super Zoom 2, but it was too short for the project. Ditto a lightweight Y-harness of JR or E-flite origin from the parts bin.

I only slit one side of the fuselage for all the necessary leads and opened up a hole for the Spektrum AR6110 receiver the same way I did for the Motrolfly ESC. Those slits were later dabbed closed with a bit of CA in a few places. The single biggest hassle was the rather heavy Y-harness, but a bit of patient cutting and gluing saw it nicely tucked into the fuselage. I should have been patient and tried to locate a lightweight Y-harness at the local hobby shop, but the wiring turned out OK if a bit bulgy where multiple leads converged.

Besides, I was almost finished. So, let's "git 'er done!"

Completion

As we enter the home stretch, we're instructed to assemble the landing gear. Included with the XL are a very beefy 2.0mm piano wire strut and a pair of Hacker's beautifully made (if somewhat small for the application) one-piece wheels. These beauties are available under a couple of different part numbers depending on the center hole. The version with the 1.6mm hole is available under part number HC 5260; HC 5260A has a 2.1mm opening.

The foam strut fairings and wheel pants will need a bit of work before installation. The pants will need to have their edges rounded; I assume it's because the parts were too small to machine like the other foam parts. The foam sands easily and you'll have some nicely rounded pants with just a few minutes' work.

The strut fairings are a different story. You need to slice open a slot for the fairings to wrap around the piano wire, but it's all too easy to cut all the way through. Gluing the fairings to the wire is an exercise in glued fingers and to some extent, burned fingers if you get a bit of glue and kicker on them.

Instructions for trimming the top and bottom of each fairing is a bit vague; I had the same trouble with the Super Zoom 2. Even with a sharp blade and knowing what to expect, the trims intended to bevel the fairings with the pants and fuselage came out poorly. Though difficult to install, the flexibility of the foam allowed me to mold out and tack down some unsightly areas. Overall, they look much better than no fairings or pants at all.

Once you attach the prop, balance the model and open a hole in the fuselage for the battery pack, you're done. You can use an optional spinner, but I couldn't find one that could clear the APC 10x5E prop as well as the nose of the model itself. The spinner and illustration show a Hacker spinner and a Hyperion motor with a prop collet; the Motrolfly motor has a regular threaded shaft adapter.

Balancing was easy with my Great Planes CG Machine. The text suggests a balance point between 120 - 130mm behind the leading edge of the wing while the illustration shows 135 - 145mm back. according to Mr. Hacker, the actual recommended balance point is in fact 135 - 145mm back. I didn't want to go too far back; the most practical point proved to be 130mm, or a smidge in front of the reinforcement spar. That places the Flightmax 1800mAh 20C 3S li-po sideways in an unprinted area of the fuselage. The area looks tailor-made for a li-po and I was relieved at not having to cut into an area covered with graphics.

Suggested control throws are +/- 90mm for the ailerons, 70mm for the elevator and 100mm for the rudder. It's also suggested that first flights have those values cut in half. No problem here; 100% throw of the aileron servos on the default setting of the DX6i gave roughly 70mm of throw. 90mm would have likely placed the ailerons at a ninety-degree angle to the wing.

The final settings were 45mm of aileron, 35mm of elevator and 50mm of rudder with 30% expo taming the ailerons a bit and 20% to tame the rudder. I later discovered that the rudder throw was too short for knife edge flight, so add some more throw per your personal preference.

The "Big Kahuna" is ready to take wing. Ready to join it?

Flying

Basics

Palm Springs, California is as far removed a place from the Czech Republic as you're likely to find. It's a charming bit of mid-century kitsch framed by sharp, rugged mountains including 10,834' (3302 m) Mount San Jacinto rising to the west. Only in a place like this would the sheerest mountain face in North America have an engineering wonder such as the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway running up and down that face with impunity.

My intent was to do the maiden flight a bit further east at either one of my two regular flying sites, but the errands I needed to run before going to work that afternoon weren't going to allow that.

I'd flown small park flyers at Demuth Park in Palm Springs before and I figured it would be a good place to run the Super Zoom XL through its paces. Though it was considerably smaller a field than I would have liked for such a large model, I assumed that the relatively tame airspeed would keep drama to a minimum.

Taking Off and Landing

Nothing to it, really. I simply hooked up the battery, pointed the plane into the wind, double-checked the control throws and throttled up.

There's nothing like the thrill of a well-assembled model taking wing for the first time and seeing this big foamie fly was no exception. Karel Hacker told me that the XL would do the same stunts as the 2, only a bit more dignified. I leave the definition of the term "dignified" to you, dear reader, that is, once you experience flying a Super Zoom XL of your own.

The model was airborne in only a few short feet of scalped grass runway, taking to the air almost vertically in the manner of its smaller cousin.

And was it ever a twitchy beast, even with thirty percent exponential and half the recommended control throws. I say that in a good way; I've never seen a 3D plane that wasn't a bit unstable and twitchy since that instability and twitchiness are what make a sport plane into one suitable for 3D.

After a few moments spent getting used to the thing, it was off to try some of what this model was designed for.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The Super Zoom XL's light weight, light wing loading, generous wing area and extreme control throws make for a model which quite literally floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. Forward flight with the big Motrolfly DM2610 1200Kv motor and APC 10x5E prop was a bit faster than that of the Super Zoom 2, but throttling up too much quite natually made the model want to pitch up on its nose. Adding throttle meant having to compensate with some down elevator; without expo on the elevator, the slightest movement of the stick meant lightspeed-quick elevator response. Downward elevator trim was slightly off, a bit more than I was able to completely dial out with the radio. It wasn't enough to make me ground the model and it'll be fixed by the time it goes up for the video.

Aileron response was nearly instantaneous as well and resulted in some extraordinarily roll rates on the so-called "low" control rate settings. This meant sharp four-point rolls and sharp 180-degree rolls to inverted flight. Like its little cousin, inverted flight was just as easy as normal flight, requiring no elevator. Knife edges were easy, but the relatively tame throw setting meant a full rudder to maintain knife edge. With more rudder throw, it may be quite possible to pull off knife edge loops.

Hovering was nearly as effortless with the XL as with the 2, but the larger size means a lot more throttle input. I found myself stalling the model more than once due to insufficient throttle. With sufficient throttle, the XL hangs almost as well as if it were suspended by a thread thanks to its greater mass. It really gave this 3D "noob" the confidence to want to make hovering as smooth and motionless as possible.

Simple turns were rather exciting. That nearly instantaneous aileron response meant that the plane would roll over so fast as to nearly stall. Some countersteering is definitely warranted here and so too is your full and unwavering attention. Countering the ailerons and pulling back the elevator snapped the XL back to attention; smooth, scale performance is not the order of the day while immediate, high-G and high-alpha manuevering is. I noticed what I thought would be a problem; the stabilizer and possibly the tail section itself tended to twist somewhat in rolls and turns. The extra size of the XL compared to the 2 equals a somewhat less stiff airframe. Flight didn't seem to be affected, so I continued flying.

I was holding a tiger by the tail.

I was also loving every moment of it.

Setting up for a landing is relatively undramatic; it'll simply float in, but consider keeping some power on. I learned on later flights that the Super Zoom XL will come to a virtual stop, stall the wing and belly flop in. Using a teeny bit of throttle while touching down will result in some beautiful, smooth landings, an important consideration when landing on grass.

I kept blipping in a bit of power to keep the nose up due to the elevator trim and the otherwise undramatic touchdown was spoiled by the aforementioned stall tendency and too-small wheels digging into the scalped grass surface. I'd pointed out the importance of lots of CA to attach the landing gear receptacle block earlier in the review; here's why. The block partially tore away from the fuselage and with no glue or kicker for field repairs, my maiden flight was thus ended. Larger aftermarket wheels would solve the prblem of grass landings, something Karel Hacker recommended to me. The gear is easily removed, so hand launches and belly landings are a reasonable alternative as well.

The next flights would be for the video and some in-flight stills. Once again, I found myself at the manicured grass parade grounds and overflow parking of Southwest Communiy Church in Palm Desert, California. With me was my friend Ken Alan of Kaminsky Productions in nearby Cathedral City to do the photographic duties.

You might notice a slightly twisted attitude with the rear half of the model. It was caused by the Super Zoom 2 resting atop the area in a hot car when I took the two to Palm Springs. It was actually worse before I'd gently heated the foam with a hair dryer and molded it back in place, but it didn't quite want to hold its shape. Not to worry; it was easily fixed later on with a hair dryer and strategically placed dabs of CA. Good as new.

With time being at a premium, in went the Flightmax battery, on came the Spektrum radio and up went the Super Zoom XL with an effortless hand launch. It felt as if it had been launched with a big rubber band rather than with the big Motrolfly motor.

No problems with the flight characteristics whatsoever. Inverted flight was still hands off, but since I hadn't dialed in additional rudder throw, knife edges were possible but in need of full rudder to maintain them. Sideslips were possible as well, but blenders and funnels were not. Hovering was a lot of fun. I slowed down, pulled back on the elevator and punched the throttle. Up came the nose and there hung the plane. I still need some practice as evidenced by my somewhat shaky hovering, but the fact I was flying 3D at all was a watershed moment for me. So powerful was the Motrolfly DM2610 motor that the plane wanted to continue climbing even with virtually no airspeed going into and maintaining the hover. Stall recovery was just as effortless. Botched and well-done hovers were recovered with a bit of throttle. To say that Ken Young sent me the perfect propulsion components for the job would be a monumental understatement.

The larger field was a real confidence booster and I banged the transmitter sticks with abandon until it was time to land.

Landing in a crosswind was easy as could be; the size of the Super Zoom 2 allows it to shrug off most winds without breaking a sweat. Still, the landing gear caught in the grass again upon touchdown and while the block once again tore loose (taking with it part of the left wheel pant), it wasn't as bad as before. Keep in mind I hadn't yet discussed the problem with Mr. Hacker via e-mail. This time I was prepared with thin CA and kicker, using generous amounts of both to both repair the separated area and reinforce others, the very thing Mr. Hacker would later suggest. The landing you'll see in the video was my next attempt after the plane was fixed. Getting the feel of that little bit of power made for the first of several velvety smooth and damage-free touchdowns to come.

Ken and I parted ways after I treated him to breakfast and I returned to the field to see how the XL would fly on one of the two E-flite packs I had on hand. These terrific packs (EFLB180038, modified with female Deans Ultra Plug connectors) are just a teensy bit heavier than the Flightmax, making for an even more stable model. They had a bit more punch as well.

By the time I was halfway through the pack, I found myself flying that big foamie smoother with each passing moment and wishing Ken was there to reshoot the video.

That flexing of the stabilizer continued on, but still no deterioration in how well it flew. In it came for a landing in order that I might try and correct the problem, all the while reminding myself to leave a bit of power on. Another greased, damage-free landing.

I found a bit of a gap between the underside of stab and the rear of the fuselage, one I hadn't noticed before. Gluing that gap and regluing an area of the cut made for the servo leads helped straighten and strengthen everything.

It still had a tendency to twist, but I was tossing some pretty high-gee moves at the thing. Gentler turns and manuevers resulted in little or no twist.

One more perfect landing and my flying day was done, the battery only slightly warm. Oh, to have had another five or six li-pos with me!

Since that day, I've put a few more flights on the XL and I'm about to increase the control throws in order to get it to knife edge, funnel and blender properly and to help get it to hover better. A lot of that flying time has been spent practicing my hovering and I've had nothing but fun doing so. What may really prove to be fun is the possibility of indoor 3D with this model. Mr. Hacker says it's possible with a change in propeller. I'll let you all know which one in the comments section once I learn what it is.

Is This For a Beginner?

I fear I must say no. The Super Zoom 2 can be somewhat but not totally tamed with nothing more than a change of battery location. This big beaut of a brute cannot. It too is designed for immediate response of the oversized control surfaces and has quite a bit of tail-heavy instability designed in, necessary for 3D. This model, like all similar models wth no dihedral and a low-mount wing, can get into a flight attitude which a beginning modeler might not be able to recover from. Adding some adhesive-backed lead weights to the nose should turn it into more of a sport flyer, but I'm not going to try it. I like the Big Kahuna too much the way it is.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

The Hacker Model Production Super Zoom XL is made by modelers for modelers, something of a rarity in these days of mass-produced ARFs of all types. The retail price of US$138 is anything but inexpensive, but the $101.45 price at RCBaron.com is a lot more affordable and as we see more of these models hit the shores, we might see the prices drop a bit further. The extra bit of money you'll pay for a Hacker profile foamie gives you terrific flying characteristics coupled with near-indestructable construction. Its first crash won't be its last. Such was the case with the Super Zoom 2. I'd brought it along for the maiden flight in order to compare the two in flight, its having rested on the rail of the XL resulted in that model's slightly twisted fuselage. It rolled out of a hover and behind a nearby tree. When I regained sight of it, it was too late and the plane hit the ground under power nose first.

That would normally spell the end of pretty much any model. Not this one.

Other than the prop, all that broke off was a short piece of the right-hand fuselage stiffener. The fuselage itself tore cleanly along the molding matrix. Once it was home, out came the CA, kicker and a new prop.

Believe me when I say that the resulting repairs are utterly invisible, the "2 is good as new" and it still flies beautifully.

Quality parts, ease of assembly, terrific fun. These and other factors are good for an unquestionable two thumbs up for the Hacker Model Production Super Zoom XL. Once distribution becomes more widespread, expect to see a lot of Hacker models showing up at your local flying field.

Credits

As always, I must thank some great people for their support. These in-depth reviews are simply impossible for one person to perform.

I begin by thanking Mr. Karel Hacker for the genuine privilege of reviewing these two models. My e-mail correspondence shows him to be a knowledgeable, enthusiastic gentleman and modeler, one who cares about the success of those who are fortunate enough to buy his products and whose products I urge you to consider for your next model purchase.

Extra special thanks are in order yet again to Mr. Ken Young of Subsonic Planes for sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of electric flight systems and for once more providing samples of his peerless line of Motrolfly motors and ESCs for these equally peerless ARFs.

Also deserving of extra special thanks is Michael Heer, one of this site's finest editors for his work with the good folks at Grand Wing System USA. They stepped forward with incredibly generous sponsorship of this and other reviews with the finest servos Grand Wing Servo-Tech has to offer.

No less deserving are Ken Alan for his videography and some amazing still photography, Eddie Tucker of Ground Control Hobbies in Yucca Valley for his cheerful assistance in getting the things I needed to complete the XL and our marvelous RCGroups.com administrator Angela Haglund for establishing such a great relation with Karel Hacker and for bestowing on me the privilege of sharing my experiences with these models with the world.

Your adventures in radio control continue at RCCars.com for surface modelers, Crackroll.com for all things helicopter, FlyingGiants.com for giant-scale R/C flight, here at Ezonemag.com for electric flight enthusiasts, Liftzone.com for the magic of slope soaring and thermal flight and of course, RCGroups.com for bringing all these great sites together under one roof.

Pluses and minuses

There is a great deal to like about the Super Zoom XL. Among them:

  • Ease of assembly
  • High-quality components and hardware
  • Virtually indestructable construction, easily repaired
  • Thin CA and kicker is all you need to build and repair it
  • Spare parts support directly through the manufacturer
  • A fun and "crazy" flyer for all intermediate and advanced pilots
  • Excellent first 3D aircraft due to its ruggedness
  • CNC-machined parts and CNC-applied graphics place this above most other foamies
  • Large and easy to see in flight, yet suitable for small field flying
  • Overall, this may be the finest foam profiler on the planet

There are a few minuses, but not many:

  • Initial purchase price might scare off potential buyers
  • Limited availability in North America at present
  • The rear of the airframe like most large foam profile models isn't as rigid as that of its smaller counterpart, but can be addressed by the individual modeler
  • The wheels, while high quality, are somewhat too small for grass fields
  • Wheel pants and strut fairings were difficult to install, but can be removed or omitted
  • Poorly translated English on the manual, packaging and print media

===============

Last edited by DismayingObservation; Oct 14, 2010 at 05:52 PM..

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Old Oct 15, 2010, 09:50 AM
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STANG KILLA SS's Avatar
Killeen TX
Joined Dec 2006
1,441 Posts
nice!
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Old Oct 15, 2010, 12:34 PM
"Aircraftus Fragmentum"
kydawg1's Avatar
Motor City USA
Joined Mar 2007
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I agree.
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Old Oct 16, 2010, 08:48 AM
Cookie Monster
Australia, QLD, Diddillibah
Joined Aug 2005
1,357 Posts
This plane is also known as the Hyperion Sniper X2.
There is a quite large thread on it in 3D foamies.I really like mine and have stiffened up the tail with carbon.Nice review though.http://static.rcgroups.net/forums/at...g?d=1285413187
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Old Oct 18, 2010, 08:49 PM
BadPilot
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United States, IL, Custer Park
Joined Nov 2007
1,706 Posts
Ralph,

I have owned many Hacker planes and they all fly very well. There is no way they cannot with the light wing to weight ratio. Every one of those planes flew super in windy condition but I am not here to advertise for them, you already did.

You have done and extremely fine job of explaining the ups and downs of this plane. I feel fully comfortable to purchase another one (at the lowest price possible) and am sure it will fly better than many other profile foam planes.
Thank you for the review.

John
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Old Oct 19, 2010, 08:24 PM
Registered User
Huntington Beach Ca.
Joined Mar 2004
392 Posts
Ralph,
Your statement that, "throttling up too much quite naturally made the model want to pitch up on its nose" is not natural. A properly trimmed airplane should not exhibit that trait. The two obvious reasons would be either CG or motor thrust angle or a combination of both since the incidence angle is preset by the design. From your description of the plane being very touchy in flight, it sounds to me like you have too much down thrust so you must compensate by moving the CG back. The farther back a CG is, the "twitchier" or more touchy the controls get.
Try putting a washer or two under the bottom two legs of the X motor mount and moving the battery forward and see what happens.
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Old Oct 20, 2010, 06:55 AM
Canadian Bacon
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Kingston, Canada
Joined Jun 2004
12,903 Posts
I think you have it the other way around. If it pitches up with power on, it needs more downthrust.

Gord.
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Old Oct 20, 2010, 11:16 AM
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Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
2,896 Posts
I guess my choice of the word "naturally" was a bit off. If this were a sport plane trimmed for balanced flight then yes, the trim would be "unnatural," as it were. There's some right thrust built in, but no up or downthrust. Mr. Hacker's own description of this plane is that it's a "crazy flyer," designed to be tail-heavy to aid in hovering. I have mine balanced toward the nose-heavy end of the suggested CG range and it's still tail-heavy compared to a sport or scale plane.
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Old Oct 20, 2010, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bleary View Post
This plane is also known as the Hyperion Sniper X2.
There is a quite large thread on it in 3D foamies.I really like mine and have stiffened up the tail with carbon.Nice review though.http://static.rcgroups.net/forums/at...g?d=1285413187
Thas a good idea i might put some on mine when i get some time .
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Old Nov 05, 2010, 01:00 PM
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Crystal River Fl.
Joined Jul 2008
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Pretty good looking, but at over $100 for some foam!!!!! toooo high... w.
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Old Nov 16, 2010, 07:53 PM
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Livermore, CA
Joined Sep 2004
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Nice review!
Was your "Nose-Up' with power a sudden nose-up or just a climb?
My real Cessna and most all planes nose up a bit with power and climb because of the increase of airspeed.
Many of our small over powered models can increase airspeed very rapidly, making it seem to nose up with power, but its just climbing because of the increased airspeed.
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Old Nov 17, 2010, 01:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Butch777 View Post
Nice review!
Was your "Nose-Up' with power a sudden nose-up or just a climb?
My real Cessna and most all planes nose up a bit with power and climb because of the increase of airspeed.
Many of our small over powered models can increase airspeed very rapidly, making it seem to nose up with power, but its just climbing because of the increased airspeed.
Thank you, Butch. It was a rather sudden nose-up and that's with the minimum recommended rearward weight bias. I'm getting ready to increase the elevator throw which, of course, will bring it up even quicker and should also make it a little easier to hover. When it falls out of hover at present, it's tricky to bring it back up on the nose.
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Old Jun 08, 2011, 02:07 AM
Crashing? Hunting the mole!
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Česká republika, Jihomoravský, Brno
Joined Jan 2011
112 Posts
Hi all, I ordered this plane today after having killed my Happy EPP 3D (see http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...093727&page=10). Ralph, thanks a lot for very informative review. I will post comments when it arrives and I manage to fly it.
... edit 14.6.: it arrived yesterday (delivery in one work-day, excellent ) and it's already half built (guess when I went to sleep). It looks beautiful and I am very satisfied with the quality ! I'll try to finish asap and post a flight report. I have also done and will do some mods (bigger wheels, tail wheel, placing of the battery), will describe them as well.
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Old Jun 18, 2011, 05:42 PM
Crashing? Hunting the mole!
Honza C's Avatar
Česká republika, Jihomoravský, Brno
Joined Jan 2011
112 Posts
Zoom flying great

Zoom is finished and had a maiden flight last on Thursday (and couple of other flights since). I am really AMAZED by the plance. Compared to my old 'Happy', it is much lighter, stable, and easy to fly and especially to land. Voila my configuration (all parts salvaged from the Happy):
* TR_P60A TURNIGY Plush 60amp Speed Controller
* SK3542-1000 TGY AerodriveXp 25 SK Series 35-42 1000Kv
* MG14 Hextronik MG-14 14g/2.2kg/0.11sec
* Turnigy 2200mAh 3S1P 30C or Turnigy nano-tech 3000mah 3S 25~50C (the later is already a bit too heavy).
* Spektrum AR 6200 (without the satellite receiver).
Some mods I did:
* did not cut for the battery in the fuse (I have 2 different sizes, it wouldn't work very well), instead, I have it on a velcro type on a side of the fuse.
* did not cut for the ESC in the fuse, have it on the fuse, opposite side than the battery.
* bigger wheels (from Happy), the ones that are shipped with the place are more a joke than wheels...
* installed tail-wheel. I did not like it the way it was shipped, I think that for a model of this size and for landing on grass/asphalt/concrete, the tail-wheel is a must. Also, with the original protuberance, the rudder was really too low. Here is how I did it:
** cut the protuberance at the tail, perpendicuar to the axis of rudder flection.
** added a bit of EPP behind the fuse, cut it to align well with the rest of the protuberance.
** measured and marked where the steering rod of the tail-wheel would go into the rudder.
** cut a 4mm wide slit for an Alu tube, glued in the tube, covered with the rest of EPP from the slit.
** glued 18x60mm piece of 3mm ply.
** installed the tail-wheel: first the rod to the tube, then CA + 4 screws.
** it works pretty well !
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Old Aug 30, 2011, 04:09 AM
Crashing? Hunting the mole!
Honza C's Avatar
Česká republika, Jihomoravský, Brno
Joined Jan 2011
112 Posts
Landing gear stories

In July, I lost Zoom's landing gear over a huge field of barley. You'd probably find it in grass, but not in 1m high barley... So I ordered a new one from Hacker thru LHS and in the same time (as I did not want to wait), made my own one from a 2mm wire (below), I also bought 2 new wheels. It worked somehow. Then, Hacker sent me the new wire, but it was too small - by mistake, they sent one for Zoom 2. After some explanation over email and phone, they sent me the correct one. In the meantime, they harvested the barley and ploughed the field, and imagine ... I found the original landing gear ! So at one moment, I had 4 of them:
- the original one (a bit bent, probably as the harvester or plough went over it, but still useable)
- my creation
- new incorrect one (small)
- new correct one.
I reduced this to 2, returned the small one to Hacker and dumped my creation after having taken the photo, and I'm happily flying with the new one and keeping the old one as replacement part
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