|Great Planes U-Can-Do SF|
|Wingspan||59 in (1500 mm)|
|Length||58 in (1475 mm)|
|Wing Area||912 sq in|
|Weight||6.5 to 7.25 lb (2950-3290 gm)|
|Wing Loading||16-18 oz/sq ft|
|Battery||6S 3250 mAh 30C LiPo|
|Motor||Rimfire 50–55–500 Brushless|
|ESC||90 Amp Castle Creations Talon|
|Prop||APC 15x6 Thin Electric|
|Power Loading||Watts per Pound|
|Transmitter||Futaba 8FG Super|
|Available From||Hobbico Dealers|
The original U-Can-Do was introduced in 2002 and was one of the first planes specifically designed for the everyday flyer to allow them to try out this new flying style called "3D". The original U-Can-Do started many pilots down the path to proficiency in sport aerobatics as well as outrageous 3D flying.
Fast forward a dozen years to 2014 and pretty much everybody knows about 3D flying. The problem is, not everybody can actually fly 3D very well. To help solve that problem, Great Planes has completely redesigned the iconic U-Can-Do for improved 3D performance and an up-to-date electric power option. The new U-Can-Do SF promisses to stay true to its original mission of training new 3D pilots while stimulating the senses with its new shape and outstanding performance.
OK, it's time to open the box and get started building this beauty.
This is a list of the parts recommended by Great Planes for the U-Can-Do SF:
|Rimfire 50-55-500 Outrunner Motor|
|Motor Diameter||50 mm|
|Number of cells||LiPoly 5s-6s|
|Max Continuous Current||52 Amps|
|Max Surge Current||65 Amps|
|Max Power (Watts)||1154 Watts|
|Shaft diameter||8 mm|
|Male Motor Connector||4 mm|
|Castle Creations Talon 90 Amp ESC|
|Type||Brushless Speed Control|
|Number of cells||3-6 Lipo cells|
|Max Continuous Current||90 Amps|
|BEC||9 Amps Continuous|
|Programming||Transmitter, PC, or Field Card|
|Dimensions (L x W x D)||438mm x 80mm x 18mm|
|FlightPower EONX 3S 3250 mAh 30C LiPoly Batteries|
|Number of cells||3-cells|
|Dimensions (L x W x D)||135mm x 44mm x 24mm|
|Maximum Continuous Discharge||30C|
|Maximum Continuous Current||100.5 Amps|
|Futaba S3152 Digital Standard High-Torque Servos|
|Operating Speed 60°||0.22 sec @4.8V, 0.18 sec @ 6.0V|
|Torque||70 oz-in @ 4.8V, 87 oz-in @ 6.0V|
|Dimensions||40mm x 20mm x 38mm|
|Gear Type||All Nylon|
The 32-page Instruction Manual is excellent. In addition to the numerous photos, illustrations, and very helpful building tips, the manual includes a detailed section on 3D flying instructions. Intermediate pilots should have no problems with this build. The one-piece wing keeps the parts count low and makes the whole build process very straight forward.
The U-Can-Do SF assembly process begins with the wing. I'm not sure how they did it, but the wing came out of the box in a single piece with the ailerons pre-hinged and glued in place. What a treat! All that remained was to install the aileron servos, and their linkage. OK, so there was that little belly pan that had to be glued in place on the bottom of the wing, but the whole process still went very quickly.
The wing contained a one-piece pull string for the servo extensions. The string extended from one servo mount location to the other, so I had to fish out the string through the servo hole in the center of the wing before pulling the wire extensions through. Not a difficult process, but a good pair of forceps and a bright light made short work of the task.
The aileron linkages included some short lengths of carbon fiber tubing that slid over the pushrods and glued in place to stiffen up the assemblies.
The fuselage assembly was next and it started with the horizontal stab installation. The manual shows a method for squaring up the horizontal stab that employs the tips of the ailerons as reference points. I found that the ailerons were slightly different in tip width and overall length. These slight dimensional differences will not affect the wing performance, but they will make a significant difference in the horizontal stab placement. I decided to use the tried and true method of measuring from the fuselage center line at the rear of the cockpit. I attached a string to a pin and then marked the string to establish a fixed distance to even up the stab tips. This string method resulted in a straight horizontal stab with its trailing edge perpendicular to the fuselage center line.
The elevator and rudder pushrods used the same carbon fiber tubing reinforcement as the aileron pushrods. I thought the metal pushrods were pretty stiff all by themselves, but when the carbon fiber tubing was added, the pushrods were noticeably stiffer. Due to the light weight of the carbon fiber tubes, the improved structural performance was achieved with very little weight gain.
Even though the manual shows the assembly process for the electric motor mount, the mount supplied in the kit was already assembled and the blind nuts were already glued in place. I applied some thin CA to all the motor mount seams for my own peace of mind. The mounting holes and blind nuts provided in the fuselage matched up with the motor mount perfectly.
The manual shows the assembly of an ESC shelf for mounting the Great Planes Silver Series 60 Amp ESC. However, the review model was supplied with the new Castle Creations Talon 90 ESC. This ESC is very impressive and the BEC is rated for a whopping 9 Amps continuous and up to a 20 Amp load surge. The smaller footprint of the Talon allowed the unit to be mounted in the fuselage muffler tunnel so the kit ESC shelf assembly was not needed. I was able to use the included Talon ESC clip mount to secure the ESC in the tunnel. I installed the rear clip mount screws 3/4" back from the firewall.
I cut a slot 1-1/2" from the back of the muffler tunnel for the ESC power and servo leads. Using this mounting location for the ESC provided easy access to the power leads without the need for any lead extensions. I installed the larger bullet connectors provided with the ESC on the three motor leads and put a short "S" bend in each motor lead.
This muffler tunnel location should provide great cooling airflow and the ESC should run very cool.
The receiver was mounted at the rear of the wing saddle on the bottom of the fuselage. I installed two small pushrod tubes at right angles for the receiver antennas. In addition, I installed two 2" servo extensions in the receiver for the aileron servos. These short extensions made installing and removing the wing much easier.
The completed U-Can-Do SF weighed 6 pounds and 11 ounces RTF. The power system needed a 6-cell Lipo battery power source. Hobbico provided two 3-cell batteries and a series power connector to complete the 6-cell system. The battery compartment was tight and I could not fit the two batteries in the compartment when I stacked them one on top of the other. I was finally able to install the batteries one in front of the other and I was surprised to find that the resulting CG was well within the recommended range.
I set the control surface throws to the recommended Low, High, and 3D amounts and set exponential to -30, -40, and -50% on my Futaba 8FG Super transmitter.
Using the recommended 15x6E APC prop resulted in a static power reading of 1140 Watts with a fully charged battery pack. That power level calculated out to a respectable 165 Watts/lb power loading.
The U-Can-Do SF is a large plane with oversized flying surfaces. It can be flown gently on the lower rates or it can be thrown around with wild abandon on the 3D rates. The choice is really up to the pilot.
The U-Can-Do SF tracks straight and true and takes off easily even at partial throttle settings. Jam the throttle forward and the plane leaps off the ground in less than 10 feet. I've found the U-Can-Do SF well mannered on paved runways as well as on grass strips. The thick wing airfoil allows the plane to be slowed way down for landings, but I recommend a little throttle to keep up the airspeed all the way to touchdown.
The U-Can-Do SF is capable of performing all standard pattern aerobatic moves. At the lower rate settings, the plane will solidly track through all the maneuvers. The U-Can-Do makes an excellent sport model at the low rate settings and would be an excellent next step model for anyone proficient with low wing tail draggers.
Here's my disclaimer: I've been flying RC for over 40 years and dearly love precise pattern style maneuvers. Lately though, I've started to admire the freedom of the 3D style of flying. My problem has been that 3D can be a lot harder than it looks. I've gotten pretty good at harriers, elevators, and hovering, but I'm still a ways off from doing any tail touches or low level rolling circles. I'm hoping the U-Can-Do SF will help me hone my 3D skills.
With the recommended 15x6E prop, the U-Can-Do had adequate power for most 3D maneuvers, but I found it a little lacking in vertical performance. While I was at SEFF 2014, I checked with the factory folks and found that they were flying the demo U-Can-Do with a 16x8E APC prop. After a quick prop change, I checked my Watt meter and found that the 16x8 prop increased the static power reading to 1498 Watts. That resulted in a power loading of a whopping 215 Watts/lb.
I knew that the Rimfire 80 was only rated for 1154 Watts, but I also knew that the 1498 Watts reading would decrease once the plane was in the air. I also knew that I would not need WOT very often during a flight. OK, maybe when I was showing off the unlimited vertical performance, but not that often during a normal flight. The true measure would only come after a few flights with the new prop and a thorough checking of motor, ESC, and battery temperatures. To date, the components have only been warm at the end of every flight. I'm going to stick with the 16x8 prop on my U-Can-Do SF.
No! The large control surfaces and the lack of any self righting characteristics make the U-Can-Do SF too much airplane for any beginner. However, any intermediate pilot should be able to easily sport fly the U-Can-Do SF on low rates. Once comfortable with the plane on low rates, intermediate pilots can begin to explore the wonderful world of 3D aerobatics at a safe altitude. Advanced pilots will enjoy the rock solid performance provided by the thick airfoil and the side force generators.
The colorful trim scheme of the U-Can-Do SF made it easy to track through any maneuver, and the great slow flight characteristics made it easy to "pose" the plane for pictures.
This first video shows the maiden flight at our club field as I got used to the plane. The prop was the recommended 15x6E and the static power level was 1148 Watts.
|U Can Do SF Maiden (6 min 55 sec)|
The second video was shot at SEFF 2014 with the 16x8E prop and the static power level of 1498 Watts.
|U Can Do SF SEFF 2014 (5 min 3 sec)|
The new U-Can-Do SF is a much improved version of the iconic 2002 U-Can-Do airplane. This new version has numerous improvements to enhance its 3D flying characteristics and it comes ready for an electric power system. On low rates, it would make a great sport plane for anyone wanting to learn about flying precision aerobatic maneuvers. On 3D rates, the U-Can-Do SF is a forgiving platform that will allow new 3D pilots to make mistakes and still fly the plane home for another day. Seasoned pilots will enjoy the outstanding performance available from this new U-Can-Do SF.
I'd like to thank Hobbico for providing the U-Can-Do SF for this review. I'd also like to thank Mark McClelland for shooting the great still shots and the maiden flight video. In addition, I'd like to thank Steve Mills for taking time at SEFF 2014 to shoot the excellent SEFF flying video. And lastly, thanks to our editor Angela for her assistance in editing this review.Last edited by kingsflyer; Apr 29, 2014 at 10:41 PM..
|May 03, 2014, 09:05 PM|
Thanks Jon, it was a fun review. It got much better when I found out about the 16x8 prop the factory folks were using on their demo plane!
I flew the U-Can-Do SF today at our annual club Picnic and it was the hit of the event. Most everyone remembered the original plane and they were all impressed with the looks and performance of the new one. However, all their offers to buy my plane were for naught. I told them to head on down to the hobby shop and get their own, I'm keeping mine!
|May 04, 2014, 07:19 PM|
Review was done very nicely Mike and I agree with you that this bird is a keeper! Flew mine with an OS 65AX......also a nice combo...
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