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Old Mar 01, 2012, 03:08 AM
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Joined Dec 2007
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Looking to build an electric sailplane.

Hey all,

I've been flying sport and 3D electrics for years, and I've done plenty of kit builds, but I think it's time for a change of pace. I've always wanted to try sailplanes, though it's almost non-existant around here.

Question is: What are some good choices for a kit 2m-100" electric sailplane? I've seen the 2m Lil Bird, Kestrel, and the usual kits from the big brands and I'm finding myself without much of an idea on which way to go. I love the look of the Bird of Time style wings but haven't seen much encouragement as to quality of kit.

Any suggestions, warnings, personal stories? All input is appreciated; I want to have something on the bench by mid March and flying ASAP for when it warms up.

PS: Not opposed to converting to electric if there's a strong enough reccomendation for a particular model.
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Old Mar 01, 2012, 01:01 PM
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United States, VA, Franconia
Joined Sep 2010
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I have built the Goldberg Electra but it's an old and discontinued kit, so the power system is completely outdated; when you replace it with a modern brushless motor setup it flies very well. I do see the kits come up pretty regularly on Ebay.

However I think most people will recommend the Stevens Aeromodel Helium or the DJ Aerotech Chrysalis. I have no experience with these kits but they are supposed to be laser cut and very nice. The DJ Aerotech guys are pretty regular posters in this forum. It's my understanding that they are a couple of months behind on orders right now on the Chrysalis but are working to catch up.

If I were looking to build a powered sailplane kit in the 2m range I'd be thinking really seriously about the Helium or Chrysalis.

If you're feeling adventurous get an Electra off Ebay.. there are threads here about that plane but you would be without any support from the OEM. Also they are old die cut kits, not laser cut.
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Old Mar 01, 2012, 03:29 PM
Ascended Master
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Palmdale, CA
Joined Oct 2000
13,499 Posts
The Electra is a Gentle Lady with a less capable wing.
Get a Gentle Lady kit, a 370-400 outrunner, 3C1000 Lipos.. go fly!
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Old Mar 01, 2012, 03:56 PM
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United States, VA, Franconia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparky Paul View Post
The Electra is a Gentle Lady with a less capable wing.
Get a Gentle Lady kit, a 370-400 outrunner, 3C1000 Lipos.. go fly!
That's actually a decent idea, a new Gentle Lady kit will run you about the same price as an Electra kit off of Ebay, but it's laser cut and you'll get support from Great Planes.

If it were me I'd consider putting a bigger motor in it, at least a Park 450, but that's just my personal preference.

I still think the Helium is a good choice as well but it is a more expensive kit.

The Chrysalis is also a good choice, but with the backorder situation I don't think you'd have it on your workbench by mid March.
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Old Mar 02, 2012, 07:27 AM
Skye Malcolm
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Upper Arlington, OH
Joined Mar 2009
644 Posts
Ray Hayes makes awesome flying and well engineered sailplane kits. He has several that have electric versions he'll sell you. Not the cheapest option, but he's quick, the stuff is made in the U.S. and there are a bunch of his planes flying in the mid-west.

www.skybench.com
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Old Mar 03, 2012, 06:04 PM
cq cq de kr4is
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USA, VA, virginia beach
Joined Jan 2011
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ive a couple of rays planes they r lazer cut ,,and turn into a piece of woody art.
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Old Mar 05, 2012, 12:40 AM
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Bountiful, Utah
Joined Dec 2003
97 Posts
I have Ray Hayes Big Bird 100 inch. Liked it so well I am building the electric version with 110 inch called the Big Bird XL. I am trying to post an abbreviated build of the nose area, but have not done it yet. its a fantastic flying and handling sailplane with rudder, elevator, spoiler. You can put flaps on it if desired. Look at his website for more info.
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Old Mar 05, 2012, 07:47 AM
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Have you checked out ArtHobby or Zaerotech yet? Don't know what budget you have in mind, but I have enjoyed building both of these.
ArtHobby was the Sky-EV and the Aaerotech was the Zip55
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Old Mar 05, 2012, 02:19 PM
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San Diego area
Joined Jul 2006
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Rudra:

You might consider the Mirage (from Mark Miller, Isthmusmodels.com). It is an inexpensive, high quality kit. But it has a 112.5 inch span, slightly longer than you want.

The Mirage is very light, but has descent wind penetration. It is easy to build with an AUW of 40 oz or less. The light weight helps make it very responsive and a high performance hands-off thermal machine. The lightness also requires a less costly power system. My motor costs $14, LiPo $8.

I have had my Mirage since June of 2010 and have 350 flights on it. It has shown me that weight really matters. I currently am building an electric 1.5 sailplane with emphasis on lightness.

Craig
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Old Mar 07, 2012, 10:28 AM
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Thanks for all the responses so far, lots of options and lots to think about!

I've checked out everything that's been suggested and so far everything seems like a good option, just have to get myself to make my mind up. The Zip 55 has me geeking out on cool factor in its design, but seeing as its designed for slope I'm wondering how it performs powered for lazy, long duration flights. I'll probably end up with one in the fleet no matter what, but maybe not just yet.

The real goal I'm trying to achieve is long flights. Thermal hunting, some high speed passes to mess with the 3D crowd, and generally doing something a little different than the norm around here. It's pretty rare to see sailplanes at the local field, last time I saw one that wasn't a Radian (not that there's anything wrong with Radians, great model,) was almost ten years ago, and it was mine. Spirit ARF, miserable experience.
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Old Mar 07, 2012, 11:44 AM
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Palmdale, CA
Joined Oct 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra View Post
... some high speed passes to mess with the 3D crowd, ....
.
I built this GL mod to mess with the jet boys... "I'm gonna fly my jet now."
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Old Mar 10, 2012, 08:09 PM
Skye Malcolm
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Upper Arlington, OH
Joined Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra View Post
Thanks for all the responses so far, lots of options and lots to think about!

I've checked out everything that's been suggested and so far everything seems like a good option, just have to get myself to make my mind up. The Zip 55 has me geeking out on cool factor in its design, but seeing as its designed for slope I'm wondering how it performs powered for lazy, long duration flights. I'll probably end up with one in the fleet no matter what, but maybe not just yet.

The real goal I'm trying to achieve is long flights. Thermal hunting, some high speed passes to mess with the 3D crowd, and generally doing something a little different than the norm around here. It's pretty rare to see sailplanes at the local field, last time I saw one that wasn't a Radian (not that there's anything wrong with Radians, great model,) was almost ten years ago, and it was mine. Spirit ARF, miserable experience.
Usually, not always, the sailplane guys have to use separate fields because of the space. Maybe the electric launch (brushless motor in the nose) changes that. But you would really benefit checking out a couple websites dedicated to sailplane know-how:

The League of Silent Flight: silentflight.org
(local soaring clubs are listed)
Paul Naton's Soaring related DVDs: radiocarbonart.com
(you could probably teach yourself how to build and fly sailplanes only using Paul's very informative DVD's if you don't have any local soaring guys learn from)

By the way, the Radian is an excellent soaring plane out of the box. Becoming an expert on the weather and understanding how, why and where thermals form is all you need to make a Radian or even a Spirit fly for hours.
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