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Finwing Penguin - Build Thread and Test Flight

The Finwing Penguin - Made for FPV, flies like a trainer!

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The Finwing Penguin is an awesome FPV plane that could double as a beginner bird.


Max Flight Weight:0.98kg/34.6oz not including battery
Motor:Brushless M2815 KV1280
ESC:60A
Servos:3pcs 17g servo+ 1pcs 9g servo.
Material:EPO Wing and fuselage/ Wooden rib reinforcement
Battery:Suggested 5000mAh Lip
Propellers:9x6 included
Manufactured by:Finwing
Available From:ReadyMadeRC
Price:$214.99

After sticking my toe in the FPV pool with my quads I decided I needed an up-to-date FPV winged craft. When I first decided to move my FPV gear to a plane I went into the shop and pulled out my 8 year old EasyStar. This plane is a veteran of many airfields, beach vacations and crashes. I got her ready to fly and proceeded to stuff it with my FPV gear and a slew of OSD equipment from RCLogger. After I got it into the air it became very clear I needed a bigger plane!

I called Tim at ReadyMadeRC and we had a long talk. You can listen in to our conversation on the RCGroups podcast. Tim said I should try a FinWing Penguin. This plane is purpose built for FPV but more importantly it is a great airplane in general. He sent me one for review. Below is my build thread and flying report.

FinWing Penguin FPV Plane by ReadyMadeRC (10 min 52 sec)

Finwing Penguin from ReadyMadeRC

When I got the plane (within just a few days) I was blown away. I know you hear that a lot in reviews but I was impressed with how it was packed and when I pulled the fuse out it just appeared to be a high-end product. It was a well thought out plane that a true FPVer designed. I was excited.

I didn't expect to see servo leads pre-installed in the wings and fuse. These are items you sometimes forget and then have to wait for another order to arrive to continue your build.

The wing tube was also a nice change. I have never been a fan of rubber bands. The idea of knowing the wing is secure makes me feel secure while flying.

The bolt on rudder also makes for a secure and easy way to put the plane together or take apart for travel.

The cockpit is HUGE! I was tempted to fill it full of ice and Dr. Peppers.

The whole plane is well thought out and the build is pretty simple and straightforward. There are some steps left out of the instructions and I will provide those here with my photos.

What's In the Box

I wasn't sure exactly which Penguin setup Tim was sending so I was excited to not only see a motor and speed controller but also all the hardware and servos I needed. This included a servo splitter, servo extensions, all hardware and even velcro! I was all over RCG looking to see what glue was best. I found a tube of glue in the fuse and it worked fine. Here is a link to the exact Penguin setup I received.

Name the Part

Some of the hardware was confusing and some parts weren't really described in the manual. Here are photos describing these pieces to take the guess work out for you.

Motor and ESC

The motor looks great and the ESC was big but the real question is how does it hauls the plane around, especially when it's loaded down with gear? I was on the web searching for the best prop for this motor when I realized there was one in the fuselage - score!

Motor - M2815

  • Static Thrust - 1,950G/69 oz.
  • Lipo - 3 cell
  • Prop - 9x6

ESC

  • Model - 60A-sbec
  • Amp - 60
  • BEC - Switchmode

Here is a link with instructions on how to setup your ESC.

The Wings

There's not much to do with the wings, which is great. They are pre-cut for the provided servos. They also have servo extensions pre-installed. There is a carbon fiber tube that is used to join the wings and another square tube in the rear of the wing.

The FinWing servos fit in slots perfectly. The attachment point for the control horn was also already installed. I did use clear tape over the hinge lines for added security.

I made sure my servos were centered and added double sided tape to stick it in the slot. Mounting the control horn and wire was easy. After everything was perfect I added tape on top of the servo.

The wing tubes and carbon fiber rod are a secure and simple way to attach the wings. Be careful when you take the nuts and screws off and on so you don't lose them.

The Tail Group

This is a pretty slick setup. Everything is held together with a screw. You could glue everything in if you want but so far the stock setup works great.

One thing not noted in the instructions is that you have to cut the foam out of the back of the tail. It's pretty obvious but I wanted to point it out.

After you glue the fuse together the horizontal stab slides into the tail.

The rudder then slides in the top and a screw from the bottom holds the whole group in place - EASY!

The Fuse Area

The party is in the fuse and this fuse is big enough to hold a big one! Below are photos with captions of my tips for putting the fuse together.

The Right RX

If you're building the Penguin for general flying then any rx will do that works with your tx. For FPV I wanted a rx with enough channels for everything I might want to run and a failsafe option. If you plan on running a return to launch system then a failsafe is an insurance policy. If you fly out of range of your transmitter your receiver will go to failsafe which you should have set to go to RTL.

I went with the AR8000 for my needs. The remote rx is mounted the required 3 inches away from the rx and the remote rx antenna is 90 degrees in relation to the antenna on the rx. I also use fuel tubing to keep the remote antenna wires straight.

The Camera Deck

Finally enough room on the deck to mount whatever you want. This is the work area of the Penguin and compared to other planes it's huge.

One of the cool parts of the top deck is that the rear wood piece is made to fit the pan and tilt unit from ReadyMadeRC.

There is plenty of room for other camera mounting options. The wood mount can also be removed.

The Penguin Takes Flight!

The Penguin looked great after I got it all put together. The color you see on the wing and tail is Uline tape. It doesn't come with the kit but is simple to apply. The weather had been pretty bad but it warmed up just enough to head out to the field. The only problem was the 15 to 20 mph winds!

RCG staff member and all around awesome pilot Jason Cole was at the field with me and he volunteered to launch the plane into the wind. I'm happy to say the wind had almost no effect on the Penguin. I set everything to neutral and with just a few clicks of trim the plane was flying perfectly.

Thrust Washers

I did not add thrust washers to the motor. I wanted to see how it would fly without them. As you can see in the video it flew perfectly. This varies from plane to plane.

Stalls

When the throttle was cut and full elevator was given the Penguin simply mushed forward. That is exactly what you want.

Rudder

I set the rudder at the suggested stock setting and it was more than enough.

Elevator

For standard flying the ele was fine. We tried some inverted flight and it needed a tad more throw than the stock setting allowed. To fix that we just dialed in more throw in the TX and it was great.

Overall

The FinWing Penguin flies like a trainer. It was a sweetheart even in that strong wind. I could chop the throttle and it would just float. Unloaded I think you could catch thermals with this plane. With some FPV gear it will be even more stable.

Conclusion

Things I like: The FinWing Penguin was easy to build, I like how the wings attach, the landing gear is versatile and out of the way, the way the tail group attaches is simple and can be removed. I'm not sure if my favorite thing about this plane is the way it flies or the amazing large cockpit area. The plane is docile enough to be a trainer and big enough to take the wind.

Issues: The wing bolts and nuts could be lost in the grass if you drop them but I plan to carry spares. A solution to this is to use switch pins instead of bolts. I wish the wood tail was reinforced with carbon fiber.

Overall: I'm a big fan of the Penguin. It has everything I was looking for in an FPV bird. It's gentle enough for a beginner and built to be a real FPV plane. I'm anxious to get all my FPV gear loaded and get it back into the air. I want to give a big thanks to Tim at ReadyMadeRC for the help and advice.

Discussion

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Old Feb 28, 2014, 08:38 PM
Registered User
United States, OH, Middletown
Joined Dec 2011
66 Posts
Beautiful photography!!!

ScratchBuildrSAM
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Old Mar 01, 2014, 08:17 PM
Registered User
United States, VA, South Hill
Joined Jan 2014
9 Posts
Subscribed
impressed with the Penguin and your Podcast
is this the first time of your Rcgroups podcast
sorry maybe just my first time to hear it instead of your first time..
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Old Mar 01, 2014, 08:19 PM
14s 180mah should be enough...
IFLYOS's Avatar
United States, NC, Pfafftown
Joined Feb 2001
3,687 Posts
Jim, are those control horns metal?

It looks like a well thought out airframe, and sounds like it is a joy to fly. I look forward to hearing about your FPV adventures with it!
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Old Mar 01, 2014, 09:30 PM
Registered User
Joined Sep 2001
6,190 Posts
This is a great FPV plane! My favorite so far. Mine will go into it's second season this year.
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 08:00 AM
Registered User
Blacksburg, VA 24060 USA
Joined Feb 2000
3,205 Posts
cactus and Jim T.,

Does the clear canopy distort video shot through it?

Jim R.
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 08:06 AM
Administrator
Jim T. Graham's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Mar 2002
11,447 Posts
MBen
You can check out all the podcasts here:
http://www.rcgroups.com/official-rcgroups-podcast-721/

JRuggiero
This is the second gen canopy. This one is supposed to be clearer. My next piece on this plane will be loaded with FPV gear so I can comment then. I'm sure some others have opinions on it.

IFLYOS
Yes, the control horns are metal.
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 02:09 PM
C'mon Man!
georgez's Avatar
United States, TX, Denton
Joined Jul 2012
185 Posts
Nice build! Waiting on good weather to maiden my bird.
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 02:43 PM
I'm just a 2.5D Pilot
rickgode's Avatar
Fort Worth, TX
Joined Dec 2005
867 Posts
I got mine a few weeks ago. I'm waiting on the EZUHF system to come back in stock from RMRC so I can finally get it together!

Ricky
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 02:53 PM
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Jim T. Graham's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Mar 2002
11,447 Posts
I was lucky for that one nice day. 35 degrees and raining right now.
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 03:30 PM
I'm just a 2.5D Pilot
rickgode's Avatar
Fort Worth, TX
Joined Dec 2005
867 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim T. Graham View Post
I was lucky for that one nice day. 35 degrees and raining right now.
In Texas yesterday it was 81. I went golfing in shorts. Today it is 19 outside and snowing...

Ricky
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 05:38 PM
Registered User
Joined Sep 2001
6,190 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by JRuggiero View Post
cactus and Jim T.,

Does the clear canopy distort video shot through it?

Jim R.
I don't use it. Mine is a version 1 with the all back deck and I was concerned about cooling so I left it off.
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 05:44 PM
I'm just a 2.5D Pilot
rickgode's Avatar
Fort Worth, TX
Joined Dec 2005
867 Posts
I saw a youtube review from another guy (from Australia I think) and he said that the stuff under the canopy gets VERY VERY HOT! I'd like to put my gopro in the front so it wouldn't even fit under the canopy.

Ricky
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 10:29 PM
No flying at the Control Tower
karikamiya's Avatar
Canada, NT, Inuvik
Joined Jun 2010
132 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickgode View Post
I saw a youtube review from another guy (from Australia I think) and he said that the stuff under the canopy gets VERY VERY HOT! I'd like to put my gopro in the front so it wouldn't even fit under the canopy.

Ricky
iirc that was xjet with rcmodelreviews.

Yes, it'll get very hot in the heat of the Australian desert. For me, I prefer the canopy and the black since it keeps the temp above minimums. I've also taped over the air inlets
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Old Mar 03, 2014, 10:10 AM
RCGroups Editor
Matt Gunn's Avatar
United States, OH, Parma
Joined Jul 2009
5,069 Posts
I refer to my Penguin affectionately as a flying dump truck; it can haul up some serious mAh and fpv equipment without breaking a sweat.
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Latest blog entry: Bill Hempel Xtreme Decathlon
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