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Hobby Lobby Kyosho Illusion DF45 Review

The Kyosho Illusion DF45 is a high-performance 1:20 scale electric powered ducted fan aircraft aimed towards advanced pilots. With a wingspan of only 25", the Illusion is one of the smaller ducted fan jets currently available that's designed for outdoor flight.

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Introduction


Retail Price:$179.99
Wingspan:25"
Flying weight:13 oz
Length:25.5"
Servos:(2) 8-gram micro servos
Transmitter used:Futaba 10CAP 2.4g
Receiver Used:Futaba R617FS
Battery:3S 11.1v 910mAh Lipo
Ducted Fan:45mm
ESC:25 amp
Manufacturer:Kyosho
Available From:Hobby Lobby International

The Kyosho Illusion DF45 is a high-performance 1:20 scale electric powered ducted fan aircraft aimed towards advanced pilots. With a wingspan of only 25", the Illusion is one of the smaller ducted fan jets currently available that's designed for outdoor flight. Available from Hobby Lobby International, the fiberglass and balsa-constructed Illusion comes in ARF form (almost ready to fly) with a 45mm fan unit and requires two additional micro servos, a 25-30 amp esc, transmitter equipment, and a 3-cell 700-1000mAh Lipo battery. The Illusion features 3-channel controls for ailerons, elevator, and throttle; there's no rudder control on this little guided missile.

Kit Contents

Opening the box gives you a feel for how small the Illusion actually is; the main wing is the first thing you see, and it's not much bigger than the horizontal stab on some larger planes. The kit is comprised of: a fiberglass fuselage, a built-up and covered balsa wing, built-up balsa tail feathers and control surfaces, a 45mm ready-to-install fan unit with a brushless motor, and an accessory pack with hardware and wood finishing pieces. To complete the build, you'll need: two 8 gram sub-micro servos, a radio system with a minimum of three channels, a 3-cell LiPo in the 700 to 1000mAh range, and a 25 to 30 amp esc.

The overall quality and appearance of the airframe is as close to perfect as you can get with an arf; I only noticed one very small spot of overspray on the fuselage and luckily it was covered up by the horizontal stabilizer. One unique feature of the Illusion DF45 is the two recessed finger holds on the bottom of the wing; they are designed to make hand launching easy by placing your index and middle fingers in the holds and your thumb on the leading edge.

All the electronic are accessed by removing the canopy, which is held down with two 2x5mm screws. Note that the box art and retail pictures show a metallic or black canopy, when in fact, the canopy is clear plastic. Since there was nothing in the manual addressing the color of the canopy, I left it unpainted for the review.

The Illusion DF45 comes with a 45mm fan unit that includes a brushless motor. You'll need to buy servos, an esc, battery, and a radio system. Hobby Lobby International supplied me with two Erc 8-gram micro servos, and a Thunder Power Pro Lite V2 11.1v 910mAh LiPo battery for the review. On their website, they recommend a Jeti Advance Pro 30 amp esc, but were out of stock at the time of the review, luckily I had a 25 amp generic esc on hand and used it in place of the Jeti. The included accessory pack includes pushrods, a control horn for the elevator, wing bolts, fasteners for the fan housing and canopy, and various wood pieces to construct the battery trays, servo tray, and pushrod guide.

Assembly

Putting the Illusion DF45 together and readying it for a successful maiden flight is as easy as most standard ready-to-fly aircraft builds. There are a few areas, however, that require special attention such as installing the fan and making clean holes in the fiberglass fuselage. Other than that, it's a build that can take you from the bench to your first flight in a few evenings, maybe sooner if you're a buildaholic. In this section of the review I will touch on the main aspects of the build and note any special instructions or procedures. Please follow the manual while assembling your Illusion, and consider this review as supplementary reading to the written instructions.

The first steps in the assembly process are to hinge the ailerons and install the aileron servo. The kit includes nylon hinges that require a small amount of ca glue on either side when sliding them together. Go sparingly on the ca and flex the ailerons as the ca dries to prevent them from drying in one position. The hole for the servo is already cut in the balsa, but you'll need to remove the covering over it with a hobby knife. Glue down the servo mounting blocks with ca, screw down the servo, and install the pushrods. The rods have a "V" bend in them that can be pinched or spread open to make slight trim adjustments. Once the ailerons are set, you can glue on the winglets and push the wing dowel into the pre-drilled hole in the center of the leading edge.

Now that we have the wing done, let's move on to the fuselage. Install the battery tray guides in the nose per the instructions, which give you specific distances to measure and glue the guides. Use two part epoxy on the guides and make sure to scuff the inside of the fuselage with light sandpaper where you will mount them. A little milled fiberglass mixed in with the epoxy will help create a strong bond, ensuring the battery tray stays put in the event of a rough landing. Glue in your elevator servo plate and the half-round pushrod guide located behind the plate, and install the servo. The fuselage needs to have a few holes created for the elevator pushrod exit and the cold air intake in the nose. For the pushrod exit, mark the location given in the manual, which is 120mm from the end of the fuselage and use a 2.5mm drill bit and make the hole. Then use a round jewelers file to open the hole up so it's almost parallel with the fuselage. Doing this will give you a nice angled hole for the pushrod to exit. The intakes in the nose require a slightly different approach; I drilled a pilot-hole with a 2.5mm drill bit, then used a Dremel tool with a small carving bit to open them up. Finally, I used the round jewelers file to clean up the edges. Go slowly when creating these intakes because it's easy to make a mess of the beautiful fiberglass.

Installing the tail surfaces is a straightforward task, just remember to place the elevator joint (the metal bracket that joins the two elevator halves) through the slot in the fuselage before you slide the horizontal stabilizer in place. Otherwise you'll be stuck with no way of getting it in. The elevator is slotted for the nylon hinges but not for the elevator joint. You'll need to drill out two 1.5mm holes for it to fit. Care must be taken when drilling into the elevators; if your drill is angled, you can poke through the covering and cause misalignment in the elevators. This is a critical step in the building process. I suggest steering clear of a powered drill and using a pen drill for a more precise hole.

The fan installation fought me at first, and required a little persuasion to get it seated into the correct position. The first step is to glue the three separate pieces of the fan together with ca, then wrap it in the included foam strip, which will be a barrier between the fan and the inside of the fuselage. Now, here's where the fun begins. If you try to force the fan in through the bottom of the fuselage, you can crack the fiberglass and chip the paint on the lip. Take a few pieces of painters tape and line the lip of the intake, then gently work the fan in until its inside the fuselage. Next, push it back so the end sticks out 9mm from the back of the fuselage. It was a challenge for me to keep the foam ring moving with the fan housing as I slid them back into position, but after a few attempts, I got the unit in place. To keep it from moving, I drilled a hole through the bottom of the fuselage and fan housing to secure with the included 2x5mm screw. Finally, I added a few drops of CA glue to the front of the fan and foam ring per the instructions. I was a little shocked that a small 2x5mm screw and a few drops of CA were all that held the fan in place, but with the snug fit, I'm sure it's not going anywhere.

I'm not going to go into detail on installing the ESC and receiver, but I will note that a standard-sized receiver such as the Futaba R617FS is a little difficult to squeeze in, especially next to the elevator servo which is the recommended location. I ended up mounting mine a little forward of the recommended spot. The last step is to cut out the clear plastic canopy and screw it down. As I noted earlier, the box art pictures show the canopy painted black, and some online pictures show it painted silver, but since there were no specific instructions on painting in the manual, I left it clear.

Now that we have the plane built, lets apply some decals. I really like the leading edge decal, which makes the Illusion look like it has slats and gives it a nice scale appearance. There aren't any instructions on decal placement so you're on your own to find suitable spots. I ended up using less than half of the included decals.

Assembly Tips
  • Take your time when drilling holes in the fiberglass fuselage. Put a piece of tape over the area you want to drill and start with a small bit for a pilot hole. That will minimize the chance of cracking the gelcoat and chipping paint.

  • The fan unit takes a little effort to get into the fuselage and slid back into place. Apply some painter's tape to the lip of the fuselage intake before you attempt to slide the fan in.
  • Flying

    Basics

    Before the Illusion's first flight, I checked the center of gravity at 83mm from the leading edge, adjusted my end points to the specs in the manual, and set the expo to around 50% on the ailerons and 40% on the elevator. I would suggest for the very first flight to have someone hand launch it for you, so you can concentrate on correcting attitude and altitude if the trim is out. Once the Illusion is airborne, it picks up speed moderately and really starts moving. Even at high expo settings, the ailerons are very responsive and it's easy to over control, so resist the urge to bang the sticks around right off the bat. Once you get a feel for how the Illusion handles, you can start pulling some high-g maneuvers. One of my favorites is making a wide-open pass on the deck, then pulling full vertical at mid-field. The one piece wing can take whatever you can throw at it, and won't give in no matter how hard you pull back on the elevator. Aileron rolls are extremely fast even at the recommended control throws, and a whole lot of fun. The Illusion is by far the fastest rolling plane I've ever flown.

    At wide open throttle with some altitude under your wings, the Illusion seems fast. But dive down below the hard deck at full throttle with the little fan screaming at around 50,000 rpms, and it quickly becomes scary fast. The Illusion can change direction and attitude very quickly, even with slight control movements, and that makes low passes very exciting in my opinion. Slow flight is predictable thanks to the Illusion's winglets, which reduce drag and increase slow-speed handling characteristics. On the 910mAh 11.1v pack, flight times were pretty good at around 6 minutes with a little variation in the throttle. If you're flying wide open the whole time, expect about 4 minutes. The lack of rudder control doesn't hurt the Illusion at all, and while it would be nice to do coordinated turns, the Illusion exhibits no noticeable sliding while banking through a turn.

    When setting up for landing, make your base-to-final turn while reducing power to get the Illusion on a nice approach. Even with power off, she'll come in hot if you have it pointed down, so add small amounts of up-elevator to slow it down nicely and reduce your rate of decent. The Illusion doesn't need to land hot, just try to start your approach long and bleed off speed for a smooth landing. Make sure to cut power before touching down; a small pebble through the running fan will shorten its duty-cycle rather abruptly.

    Hand Launching

    As you've probably noticed by now, the Illusion DF45 doesn't have landing gear. Since the 45mm fan doesn't produce an insane amount of thrust, and the wings generate modest lift, a good throw is required to prevent excessive sink during a hand launch. If you have a helper, he or she can hold the Illusion behind the fan intakes under the horizontal stabilizer and give it a good old-fashioned throw at a slight upward angle. Or for someone who has a little launching experience, the finger holds under the wing can be used for a one-handed launch. Note that the plane has a tendency to pitch nose up as you roll your fingers out the holds, so make an effort to launch it straight out when using this method.

    Is This For a Beginner?

    That's a negative ghost-rider. The Illusion is a quick and nimble jet with no self-righting tendencies. It flies fast and will burn through a full charged pack fairly quickly, compared to a trainer airplane. However, if you can fly a small high-performance aerobatic or 3d plane then you shouldn't have any difficulty flying the Illusion.

    Flight Video/Photo Gallery

    Downloads

    Conclusion

    The Kyosho Illusion DF45 is perfect for experienced pilots looking to spice up their daily flying routines. At only 12.8 ounces ready-to-fly and sporting a 25" wingspan, it's small, nimble, and fast enough to satisfy most speed freaks. I give the Illusion props for the winglets that reduce the likelihood of a tip stall at slow speeds, as well as the rock-solid fan unit that screams at nearly 50,000 rpm's without a hiccup.

    Just sitting on the bench, the Illusion looks fast, but flying it will get your heart pumping double-time. Throw in some ultra-fast aileron rolls and high-g banks, and you have an airplane that will keep you on your toes for the entire flight.

    Pluses:

    • Typical Kyosho high-quality airframe and components; the fiberglass fuselage was virtually flawless and the fan unit was fully assembled and balanced.
    • Fast and agile.
    • Predictable slow-speed handling thanks to the winglets.

    Minuses

    • Fan installation was difficult.

    Credits

    I would like to thank my friends Andrew Farmer and Bradley Bauman for helping me shoot video and fly the Illusion during the review. Thanks to Hobby Lobby International for supplying the Illusion.

    Last edited by Angela H; Dec 15, 2010 at 05:31 AM..

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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 11:13 AM
    life is an oyster. shuck it!
    istandalone's Avatar
    bennington, VT
    Joined Mar 2008
    3,180 Posts
    kyosho makes some nice stuff for sure, their fg work is always flawless. if only they'd start making larger edf's, like 70mm or even 90mm airframes.
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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 11:15 AM
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    Cody f86saber's Avatar
    Canada, NB
    Joined Apr 2006
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    Thanks for the review. I mentioned this jet along with the Mirage a time ago in the forums. These were on sale for $89.
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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 01:00 PM
    E-flyer since 1981
    Michael in Toronto's Avatar
    Joined Oct 2000
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    "The Kyosho Illusion DF45 is a high-performance 1:20 scale electric powered ducted fan aircraft"

    Nice review, but "scale" ?
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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 01:26 PM
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    cjbucher's Avatar
    Raleigh, NC
    Joined Sep 2004
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cody f86saber View Post
    Thanks for the review. I mentioned this jet along with the Mirage a time ago in the forums. These were on sale for $89.
    Ooh... And now it's $179? Wow that must have been a great sale!

    Any idea on what motor is in it? I didn't anywhere what kind of motor it has? Inrunner, outrunner? What kv? Power junkies need to know.
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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 02:30 PM
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    Matt Gunn's Avatar
    United States, OH, Parma
    Joined Jul 2009
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Michael in Toronto View Post
    "The Kyosho Illusion DF45 is a high-performance 1:20 scale electric powered ducted fan aircraft"

    Nice review, but "scale" ?
    1:20th scale

    sorry, left out the "th"
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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 03:35 PM
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    pda4you's Avatar
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    I think his point is - it is not a "scale" replica of a full scale model.
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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 03:38 PM
    Live to ride... and fly!
    Tres Wright's Avatar
    Forney, TX
    Joined Mar 2002
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cjbucher View Post
    Ooh... And now it's $179? Wow that must have been a great sale!
    It's been on sale three times, twice for 99.99 and once for 89.99. They probably would have put it on sale for their 12 days of Christmas theme, but it's out of stock!


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cjbucher View Post
    Ooh... And now it's $179? Wow that must have been a great sale!

    Any idea on what motor is in it? I didn't anywhere what kind of motor it has? Inrunner, outrunner? What kv? Power junkies need to know.
    It's an inrunner in a 45mm fan, not sure of the Kv but it is not a real powerful setup. The same motor/ fan is used in the Mirage, Illusion and Vision. It flies the Mirage and Illusion OK, but is a bit underpowered for the slightly heavier Vision.

    Quote:
    a 3-cell LiPo in the 700 to 1000mAh range
    Most are running 3s 910's, some are running 1320's as well.
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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 03:51 PM
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    Matt Gunn's Avatar
    United States, OH, Parma
    Joined Jul 2009
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pda4you View Post
    I think his point is - it is not a "scale" replica of a full scale model.
    yes I gathered that, thanks
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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 06:00 PM
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    MRGTX's Avatar
    United States, CT
    Joined Aug 2005
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    Nice video and nice review!!

    These are great looking planes... The delta version is just a tiny bit prettier in my opinion.

    Aren't these models something like 4 years old?

    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/searc...sho%20illusion
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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 09:42 PM
    BadPilot
    badpilotto's Avatar
    United States, IL, Custer Park
    Joined Nov 2007
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    Great review.... Very nice video too!
    John
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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 10:30 PM
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    Matt Gunn's Avatar
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by badpilotto View Post
    Great review.... Very nice video too!
    John
    Thanks John. It was by far the most difficult shoot to date, due to it's small size. the camera didnt want to focus on it and even with ideal conditions it was hard to see the Illusion in the viewfinder or LCD screen when far away.

    I had a blast w/ this plane though, and its now a regular part of my fleet when I go to the field.
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    Old Dec 17, 2010, 10:38 PM
    Have glue gun, will travel...
    Ken1.8T's Avatar
    USA, NY, LONG ISLAND
    Joined Mar 2004
    870 Posts
    Super review of this cool but 'not so new' jet from Kyosho. I really enjoy mine...I had the red one a few years ago, now I have the blue. A fun flyer but I wish that Kyosho would do some updating like a molded intake and 55MM fan. Short of that, it's a real nice package that 'shines' above many of the latest EDF foamy offerings.

    Here's my "Team EDF45"
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    Old Dec 18, 2010, 10:48 PM
    BadPilot
    badpilotto's Avatar
    United States, IL, Custer Park
    Joined Nov 2007
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by webdr View Post
    Thanks John. It was by far the most difficult shoot to date, due to it's small size. the camera didnt want to focus on it and even with ideal conditions it was hard to see the Illusion in the viewfinder or LCD screen when far away.

    I had a blast w/ this plane though, and its now a regular part of my fleet when I go to the field.
    Doc,

    I can understand that the Illusion would be difficult to video. It is so fast but looked to fly really well too. What I didn't mention prior is how clear and crisp you pictures are in the review, very nice work. Have a Marry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Thanks again

    John
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    Old Dec 21, 2010, 11:42 AM
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    Tres Wright's Avatar
    Forney, TX
    Joined Mar 2002
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MRGTX View Post
    The delta version is just a tiny bit prettier in my opinion.
    I went with the Mirage after reading the comments by those who had flown both. Most felt the Mirage was more stable and could slow down better while still being as fast and aerobatic as the Illusion. That makes sense as deltas are normally more forgiving.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MRGTX View Post
    Aren't these models something like 4 years old?
    Yes, but HL just started carrying them recently.
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