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Hobby People Phase 3 Phoenix II 2m EPO Glider RTF Review

Chris Mulcahy reviews the new RTF Phoneix II 2m EPO glider by Phase3, available from HobbyPeople.

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Introduction


Wingspan:79.5"
Weight:2.2lbs
Length:47.5"
Servos:Included OEM
Transmitter:Aero-Sport 5 Channel
Receiver:Airtronics RX500
Battery:3S 1500mAH Li-Po
Motor:Included 1000kv Brushless
ESC:18amp Brushless
Manufacturer:Phase 3 Models
Available From:Hobby People

The latest offering from Hobby People is Phase 3's "Phoenix II", an electric powered EPO glider with an impressive 2 meter wingspan (just over at 79.5"). It is available in three versions, Ready to fly, "iBind", and as a kit.

The kit version includes the fuselage, brushless motor, and propeller. The "iBind" version includes everything needed for flight except for an Airtronics compatible transmitter. The ready to fly version includes everything you need to get it flying, and this is the version I'll be looking at in this review.

Kit Contents

The model arrived in a colorful box, with everything you need to get airborne. All of the electronics are pre-installed, including the servos, ESC, motor, and receiver. The C28-35 motor has a KV rating of 1000, and is powered by an 18 amp electronic speed control. The model is powered by the included 3S 1500mah lipo battery, and comes with its own balance charger. The Aerosport 5 channel transmitter features Airtronics/Sanwa frequency hopping spread spectrum technology, so is fully compatible with Airtronics FHSS-1 receivers. Also included is a nicely illustrated, full color instruction manual for the model.

The model was securely packaged, with all of the major components tied down around padding to protect the model. There was some minor dimpling on the top of one of the wings, but was easily fixed (more on that later).

Box Contents
Phoenix II with pre-installed electronics
Aerosport 5 Channel 2.4ghz Transmitter
1500mah 3S Lipo
12vDC Balance Charger
Color Instruction Manual

Assembly

The model is advertised as not needing any tools to assemble, and I found that the only thing I needed was a small phillips head screw driver to attach the spinner cone. I used a little thread lock on the screw to make sure it didn't vibrate out. I also checked the folding prop and found that one of the e-clips was only halfway attached, so I used a set of pliers to squeeze it into place.

Wing

The aileron servos are already installed, but I had to add the pushrods. This was relatively straight forward, I powered up the model to ensure that the servos were centered and adjusted the pushrods to length. The pushrods are secured on one end with a plastic clevis, and a "z" bend on the other end. I then took the carbon fiber wing tube and slotted it into the left wing. The wing was then brought up to the wing socket on the fuse and I plugged the aileron servo into the extension embedded in the wing socket. Once that was done I slid the wing root into the wing socket for a snug friction fit. The two wing halves fit together like a jigsaw puzzle piece, and with the friction fit of the wing socket the two wing halves lock together in the center. I slid the other wing over the wing tube up to the fuse, connected the second aileron servo, and then pushed the root into the side of the fuse. It's a very simple, tool less install, yet very secure.

Attaching the wings to the fuse was the last step in the process, which would normally be done out at the field. I attached them in the shop to check the center of gravity on the completed model.

The top of one of the wings had some depressions, so after a little research I set about fixing it. I took a paper towel and soaked it in water, and then laid it across the damaged wing. I then took my covering iron and steamed out the depressed areas on the wing. This procedure pulled out the dimples and improved the look by about 90%.

Fuselage

As mentioned earlier, the fuse has all of the electronics already installed. This includes the motor, ESC, receiver, elevator and rudder servos. Access to the fuselage is gained through the canopy hatch, which is held in place by two rubber bands. The fuse is fairly spacious, with plenty of room to move the battery around to get the best center of gravity. All that is required is installing the tail.

Tail

The horizontal stabilizer has molded posts on the bottom that line up with dimples in rear of the fuselage. It is held in place with a strong double sided tape. I removed the backing from the tape and pressed the horizontal stab firmly in place. The vertical stabilizer also uses the same double sided tape, and is slotted into a notch just forward of the horizontal stab and then pressed down on to the top surface of the horizontal stab, making sure to align the lower rudder hinge with the back of the fuselage. No tools required! Once the tail surfaces are attached it was just a case of attaching the plastic clevises to the rudder and elevator, making sure everything is centered correctly.

I chose to add a little glue to the tail surfaces as I had experienced a failure in the tape on a previous model. I mixed up a small amount of epoxy and used it to secure the tail in place.

Radio Installation

The only thing you need to add is four AA batteries for the transmitter, so that was the first thing I did. The Aerosport is a nice little transmitter, it features servo reversing on 4 channels, and has normal/delta/v-tail mixing capabilities. The 5th channel is a toggle switch that could be used for retracts etc. The receiver is an Airtronics RX500 5 channel receiver, and is already installed and hooked up.

Completion

The last thing to check was the center of gravity. The manual suggests 75 - 80mm back from the leading edge of the wing. To get it to balance correctly I found that the battery needed to be placed as far forward as I could get. The battery has a piece of velcro that holds it in place, so it is easy to move around. I popped the model on the scale and it weighed in at 2.2lbs ready to fly. I plugged the battery into the balance charger, and it took less than an hour to fully charge. The battery attaches to the balance port on the charger (which is the only port), and while there is no information about the charger itself, I would guess it to be charging at a rate of 1C.

Flying

Basics

Once the wind finally calmed down I made it out to the field. I attached the wings and installed the freshly charged battery. I turned on the transmitter and then hooked up the battery, and finally attached the canopy. A quick check of all the flight surfaces and I was ready to go.

Taking Off and Landing

Taking off is a matter of taking a firm grip on the underside of the fuselage and throwing it into the wind with throttle. I made the mistake of throwing the model up, which is what I have become accustomed to with hand launching models, however this model should be thrown straight out as the motor tends to pull the model up in a climb. My first launch attempt resulted in an attitude correction to stop it stalling out. That being said, the motor has plenty of power, and pulls the model through the air with authority.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The model is fairly agile, but not designed as an aerobatic performer. I flew a few lazy loops, and it performed them well. What this model is designed for is gliding around on thermals. I used the motor to climb up into the sky, and then cut it to let the Phoenix II do what it does best. It is a very light model for its size, and hanging out up in the clouds searching for thermals is very easy to do with this model. After the days flying I added a couple of black stripes to the underside of the wing tips for visibility, once the model gets up high it can sometimes be hard to make out depending on the light (maybe I was just too high!). The model responded well to control inputs, and is a very stable flyer. Flight times will depend on your flying style, I flew some 10 minute flights, on and off the throttle, and each time used about half of the battery. It wasn't a particularly hot day, so I didn't catch too many thermals, but when I did it carried the model pretty good. Once I thought I had a thermal I would start slowly circling the area, and if I was lucky the model would stay up there! It was very rewarding to keep it aloft without the motor.

Landing was a breeze. The model is very stable at lower speeds, and it came in smooth and straight each time. I just had to remember that it was a glider, and the first few attempts had me carrying too much airspeed on approach. I got in the habit of entering a mini pattern hold at the end of the runway to bleed off speed before setting up for a smooth landing.

Is This For a Beginner?

Beginning and advanced pilots will have a lot of fun with this model. Because the Phoenix II is so forgiving in flight it is ideal for beginners, and yet advanced pilots will also get a kick out of hitting the thermals. The model doesn't have any strange habits, and it has to slow down to a crawl before it will stall. For beginners, the EPO foam is very durable and easy to repair if damaged. Foam safe CA glue is all that is needed to repair damage, and as shown earlier even dimples can be repaired.

There are further possibilities for advanced pilots too. Hooking up the Phoenix II to a more advanced computer radio will unlock mixes that aren't possible with the Aerosport transmitter. For instance, with the dual aileron servos you would be able to mix in spoilers and flaps.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Conclusion

I found the Phoenix II to be a nice relaxing break from the helis and gas planes, and also challenging to try and hit those thermals. It is a smooth flyer, and for anyone interested in trying out sailplanes I would recommend it to beginners and advanced pilots alike. It's easy to put together, easy to maintain, and a joy to fly. Just pull up a chair and have fun!

My thanks go out to my Wife for shooting photos, and my buddy Bob for taking the video, also thanks to Hobby People for providing the review model!

Pros:
Super easy to assemble
Stable flight characteristics
Long flight times
Cons:
Had to add stripes on the underside of the wings to aid in visibility when at altitude

Last edited by Angela H; Apr 22, 2011 at 06:38 AM..

Discussion

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Old Apr 21, 2011, 07:57 PM
Registered User
United States, CA, Davis
Joined Jan 2010
66 Posts
Nice review! Good to see another glider up in the air!!
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Old Apr 21, 2011, 09:59 PM
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Well, based on what is shown in the video, it seems to me this model loses height a bit too fast.
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Last edited by molenjin; Apr 27, 2011 at 03:59 PM.
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Old Apr 21, 2011, 10:15 PM
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...I know this may sound like a "heresy" to some people, but the model that started all this "foamy" revolution, Multiplex EasyStar, is actually a lousy flyer. I flew three different EasyStars and and in all cases experienced poor handling and stability. I even crashed one of them - that, after years and years of flying balsa planes, much faster and nastier than EasyStar..
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Old Apr 21, 2011, 10:18 PM
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CSpaced's Avatar
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Joined Jun 2006
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In defense of the video, it wasn't a particularly warm day (hence the warm clothing and jacket), plus I was still trimming it out. The model is designed as an intro to sailplanes, if you get the bug then you can invest in a more expensive wood or carbon model.
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Old Apr 21, 2011, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by molenjin View Post
...I know this may sound like a "heresy" to some people, but the model that started all this "foamy" revolution, Multiplex EasyStar, is actually a lousy flyer. I flew three different EasyStars and and in all cases experienced poor handling and stability. I even crashed one of them - that, after years and years of flying balsa planes, much faster and nastier than EasyStar..
This is not an EasyStar
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Old Apr 21, 2011, 11:27 PM
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Thank you for the review, just one question the frame is made of EPO or EPP? There is big difference.
G.
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Old Apr 21, 2011, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by molenjin View Post
Well, based on what is shown in the video, I do not think this model is a great flyer. It loses height rapidly. Foam is foam, adequate for cheap mass-production but it will never be as good as balsa and other "smooth" materials.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hang on just a second, because I'm not sure this is entirely accurate. You're telling us that a $200 range RTF foam glider isn't going to have the same performance as a $1000+ glass ship from Germany? Seriously? That can't be right. Can you check your sources on that? That would be great, thanks.
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Old Apr 21, 2011, 11:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tushev View Post
Thank you for the review, just one question the frame is made of EPO or EPP? There is big difference.
G.
It's EPO foam.
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Old Apr 22, 2011, 12:22 AM
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Quote:
You're telling us that a $200 range RTF foam glider isn't going to have the same performance as a $1000+ glass ship from Germany?
No, I am telling you that a $200 range RTF foam glider from China isn't going to have the same performance as a $200 range RTF balsa glider from China.
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Old Apr 22, 2011, 10:20 AM
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Richmond, TX
Joined Apr 2008
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CSpaced:
Great review. Any room to balance with a larger battery?



Quote:
Originally Posted by molenjin View Post
No, I am telling you that a $200 range RTF foam glider from China isn't going to have the same performance as a $200 range RTF balsa glider from China.
Point taken. As someone interested in adding a glider to my fleet, I appreciate the brief comparison between a foam and balsa glider.
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Old Apr 22, 2011, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bombay View Post
CSpaced:
Great review. Any room to balance with a larger battery?
Thanks, there is plenty of room in the fuselage, and you could in theory use a larger battery. I don't think you could go too much bigger though, as you wouldn't be able to place it far enough forward to balance.
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Old Apr 22, 2011, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by molenjin View Post
No, I am telling you that a $200 range RTF foam glider from China isn't going to have the same performance as a $200 range RTF balsa glider from China.
What the Phoenix II has going for it is the fact that it is foam means it will take more abuse on hard landings, hangar rash etc, and is easier to repair, while still performing well in the air.

On top of that it is backed by Hobby People, so if you have any problems with it they will sort you out pretty quickly.
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Old Apr 22, 2011, 01:52 PM
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I saw this sailplane fly at the Arizona Electric Festival with several different pilots on the controls. Tim caught several thermals with it on one flight and another pilot was flying it pretty much as a powered electric and not really looking for lift. In the right hands she responded well to lift so the pilot knew when he hit something and cored in the thermal nicely and she climbed. A beginner can fly her and an expert can keep her up for a long time in the right conditions. Mike Heer
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Old Apr 22, 2011, 04:33 PM
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Fairlie, New Zealand
Joined Nov 2006
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I bought this model for a friend who has recently learnt to fly. He'd had a go flying my Chrysalis and really enjpyed it. As suggested, performance is lacking compared to a balsa soarer. We actually foun it flies best just cruising around on 1/4 throttle, because the sink rate in the glide is such that it needs a good bit of lift to stay up.

Where it does shine though, is in it's durability. On the last flight of the day he strained it through a barb wire fence, which would have likely written off a balsa model. A bit of time gluing foam chunks back in and it was good as new.
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