|Flyzone AirCore Modular Aircraft System (1 min 11 sec)|
|Servos:||3 digital ultra micro|
|Transmitter:||4Ch SLT (Tactic or AnyLink)|
|Receiver:||4Ch micro Tactic SLT|
|Battery:||2s 250mAh LiPo|
|Motor:||2181 Kv brushless motor|
|ESC:||6-Amp brushless with BEC|
|Available From:||Fine Hobby Stores Everywhere|
|Price Power Core:||$59.90|
|Price LiPo Battery:||$5.99|
|Price Principal Trainer airframe:||$39.99|
|Price All Fighter airframes:||$44.99|
When I first started flying Radio Control it was with sailplanes. I remember when I built my second sailplane I had to share my one receiver and its battery pack with both planes. It wasn't a problem as I could only fly one plane at a time and it allowed me to fly two different planes when I could otherwise only have afforded to fly one. Back then each sailplane did have its own two servos as switching them was a pain to do. Flyzone recognizes that we fly one plane at a time but we like to fly a variety of planes and with Flyzone's AirCore they have made that possible with an expanding variety of model planes that can all share the same modular power system that includes much more than just sharing a receiver. The power core includes: a brushless motor, a brushless speed controller, a four channel 2.4 SLT receiver and three ultra micro servos. They all assembled into one unit that can quickly and easily be moved from one AirCore model airframe to another and another and so on. It is now possible to have an entire air force with only one AirCore modular power system to fly them all.
Power modules are not a new concept but AirCore has greatly improved upon the idea with an easy to swap modular BRUSHLESS power system and an expanding line of interesting model airframes that are eye grabbing and that perform very nicely. Being components they are sold separately and there are combinations that allow for some additional savings. I have several chargers that will balance charge the AirCore LiPo battery and I have a Tactic 650 transmitter. I know a lot of pilots in the same position so those two components are already covered by what we already have.
In this review I will cover the various components individually and then review how they all come together for a flying experience in my two AirCore planes with pictures and videos to share that experience. I have flown a friend's Principal Trainer so I cover its performance as well. They even sent me an AirCore charger so I get to review it as well. I was even sent a spare propeller and the connector that goes on the propeller shaft. Being a thorough reviewer I even managed to crash and the only component I had to replace was the propeller on the Spitfire. So let's get started with some pictures of my components.
The AirCore power core is the heart of the AirCore system and one power core can fly the entire air force of available AirCore air frames. The power core uses a chassis to hold the components as one compact unit that can be easily installed and removed from the various fuselages. The chassis appears to made of plastic and carbon fiber. At the front is a propeller mount on the end of the propeller shaft coming from a 2182 Kv brushless motor which is mounted in front of the 4 channel SLT receiver, a 6 Amp ESC with BEC and the battery that are all stacked together. The separate 2-cell 250mAh LiPo is secured in place above the ESC and the three digital ultra-micro servos are mounted in line behind the receiver, ESC and battery. The first ultra-micro servo has two control rods with magnets on their ends and they attach to magnets on the ends of the aileron control rods in the fuselage. The next two ultra-micro servos connect up with the elevator and rudder control rods respectively and again the connectors from the plane have magnets that connect up with magnets on the control rods connected to the servos.
The propeller snaps onto a mount on the propeller shaft at the very front of the power core assembly. This allows for easy changing of the propeller and spinner when the unit is switched between the various aircraft. This is good as the spinners are color coordinated with the different models. The pop off fitting also helps prevent propeller breakage in the event of contact with the ground.
The battery and the propeller are designed for easy attachment and removal while the rest of the components are firmly attached to the chassis for ease of transfer and operation.
The following You Tube video from Flyzone shows the power core, swapping it from one plane to another and a bit of flight video. At the end of the video you get a chance to see more of their AirCore videos featuring the original airframes. The videos are short and give a snapshot that might help you decide what airframe you want to first acquire.
|Flyzone AirCore Modular Aircraft System (1 min 54 sec)|
Available Airframes All 22" Wingspans
Pictures from the AMA Expo this past January
Coming Soon Both 21.5" Wingspans
The airframes all have a plastic mount or cradle that runs the length of the fuselage and the power core slides into the frame and snaps into place with tabs and magnets. In a perfect world the magnet connections from the control rods from the ailerons and fuselage would always perfectly mate with the magnet connectors from the power core as it slides into place. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect. Sometimes I have to fiddle with them for ten to twenty seconds to get all the connectors to match up perfectly. It typically takes me about two minutes to swap the power core between two of my planes.
The planes are of foam construction with some nice details molded in and finished with attractive paint jobs. The wings on my fighter planes are secured to the fuselages with a tab in front and magnets in the back and the battery hatch cover has a tab in back with two magnets on the sides and two in front. The ailerons, rudder and elevator all came already secured in place with nylon hinges and the control horns came mounted in place with their "half" of the control rods in place in the fuselage and attached to the ailerons. All but one of the planes available and "Coming Soon" are fighter planes from World War II. They are nicely finished and each plane has its own propeller and colored spinner to match the plane's paint scheme. They are all four channel planes and my two review planes are stand off scale and in my opinion look terrific!
The fighter planes can be flown with or without the front landing gear which has working wheels while the tail wheel is actually a skid. Flying at my local pack I go without the front landing gear as I like the gear up appearance of flying without the landing gear with my fighters. At the park I have nice soft grass to land on and so the fuselage stays pristine. At my club's flying field I have been using the landing gear and making takeoffs and landings as discussed in the flight section below. It is nice to have the option to be able to fly with or without the gear. For my friend's Principle Trainer, he keeps the landing gear in place and takes off and lands on a sidewalk that goes through the park. He says that the Trainer plane just does not look right to him without gear. However, it too can be flown with its landing gear off if a pilot so desires.
The battery and the charger are both separate items. The charger is a balanced charger and the white balance plug from the battery plugs into it and the charger plugs into a wall outlet with one power source or into the accessory power socket in a car with the other supplied power unit. It is nice that both are included so I can charge the battery pack at home or at the field. The charger is called a balance charger because it charges both of the two cells in the battery pack to keep them properly balanced with equal voltage. This keeps the battery safe to use and gives it a long life if used properly. If you don't have a balanced charger this one will take care of the needs of the recommended battery for the AirCore. If you already have a balanced charger for two cell Lipos than you are probably good to go provided your charger, like mine, has a balanced connector that matches the one for the AirCore battery pack. It takes about 30 minutes to charge a depleted battery pack. I get over four minutes of flying time with a fully charged pack.
The battery is a two cell LiPo that connects to the AirCore with its micro Dean's connector. I have used Deans micro connectors for years and have soldered them onto many small battery packs. The AirCore battery pack comes with the connectors already wired to it and they sell for only $5.99 each. I recommend you pick up several to give you longer flying time at the the field and the first one can be charging while you are flying on your second pack. I was surprised that no hook and loop connection with sticky backing came with the battery. Instead there was one on the power core and the matching one stuck on it. I will need to supply my own matching hook and loop material for the extra AirCore battery packs that I have ordered.
Any SLT 4 channel or more 2.4GHz transmitter can be used to control the Air Core SLT receiver. There are a variety of Tactic SLT 2.4 GHz transmitters and I will be using my 6-channel Tactic 650. If you have an AnyLink unit for any of your four channel or more transmitters than you can use that to control your AirCore air force. I am only using one model memory slot on my 650 transmitter to control both of my current planes and it will likely control all of my future fuselages as well. The control rods for the rudder and elevator have bends in them that can be adjusted mechanically to have the control surfaces centered properly. While I didn't need to make any adjustments to my Spitfire or Miss America if there is a need On a future airframe I will center those control surfaces mechanically so I can keep the program in my transmitter suitable for all my planes. I strongly recommend that additional planes be set up so the controls are in neutral position without the need to use the trim tabs to properly align the surfaces. The adjustments if any are minimal.
Available Transmitters for Use with AirCore
The wing for my Miss America came completely assembled and there was no assembly required.
Both planes have optional landing gear and installation in the Miss America involves sliding the wire gear into the mount on the wing from the wingtip side and rotating the gear forward. The gear locks in place behind the tab mounted in the wing. Repeat the process for the other side of the wing. The gear is a bit hard to install the first time but is easier after being installed and removed once.
Installing the landing gear in the Spitfire was just slightly different. Here the landing gear wire slid in from the front flexing the gear forward and locking the gear wire behind the tab. Neither wing will fir back into the box with the landing gear installed.
The wing for my Spitfire needed me to drill two 3/32 holes, one per wing side for the installation of the decorative wing cannons which I glued into the holes I drilled following the instructions. The wing will still fit in the box with the cannons installed.
The Spitfire had an optional decorative antenna that I installed in place. The instructions call for gluing it in place but then the fuselage won't fit in the box without cutting the foam compartment organizer. Following the instruction sheet I found the slot for it a bit behind the canopy. The Miss America fuselage had no assemble required.
On both planes the wing attached by installing a tab on the front of the wing into the front of the wing saddle and the back of the wing was held in place on the fuselage with four magnets (Two in the wing and two in the fuselage.
The power core chassis slides into the frames that come installed in the fuselages as discussed above. It is held in place with two tabs in the front and three magnets with two magnets in the front and one in the rear. No tools are normally needed in this process but a small screw driver, a pair of needle nose pliers or tweezers my prove helpful if things don't properly connect during the installation. (I sometimes need to move the aileron control rods on the power core to get them to line up with the ones on the wing and magnetically attach.
Once the power core is installed, the propeller with its attached spinner snaps into place. The top hatch fits into place with a tab in back and is secured with magnets in front. Proper positioning of the battery and tucking in the charge wire and the battery/ESC wires is the only tricky part of the setup. With a little practice I was soon doing that right the first time, every time.
Each airframes' connection rods have adjustment bends in them as discussed above in the transmitter section. They can be bent as needed to have the rudder and elevator properly aligned. I didn't need to make adjustments in either of my planes but if I did it should only be necessary to do so once. As discussed above mechanical adjustment will allow me to use one model memory to control any additional AirCore airframes I might acquire
The Principal Trainer is a three channel plane with rudder, elevator and throttle control. The rudder control rod from the plane's airframe connects to one of the aileron control rods in the power core. This keeps the steering control on the right stick and throttle only on the left stick of the transmitter for us North American Mode 2 pilots. This is the same way I set up my two channel sailplanes and three channel airplanes. I was not supplied with a Principal trainer for this review but I have flown one belonging to a friend about two months ago. I would let go of the right stick in a turn and with the dihedral she would self level. This makes the Principal Trainer a good way to go for the beginner. This will be discussed further briefly below in the section: "Is This For a Beginner?"
The two planes I was sent to review and all of the other fighter planes are four channel planes with controls for throttle, ailerons, rudder and elevator. As discussed above I have (through test flying) set up my two planes so that they are mechanically identical. I only had to make one minor bend on the elevator control for the Spitfire. This allows me to use only one memory slot for two planes and by summer hopefully for five airframes. I use 20% Expo on my ailerons and elevator and none on my rudder. My high rates are all at 100 and my low rates for elevator rudder and ailerons are at 70%. I fly on low rates 95% of the time or more. I switch to high rates on ailerons for an aerobatic maneuver and then back to low rates when the move has been completed. I find the planes to handle very nicely on low rates and are a bit twitchy at high rates in my hands.
In calm conditions and light wind to 7 mph I found both planes to fly just as I wanted on low rates. I found they flew very nice at half throttle and were surprising fast at full throttle. I have only flown them outdoors and don't plan to fly them indoors as my indoors spaces are too small for these planes to be enjoyable for me to fly in a double gym. I noticed that both planes were smoother in flight without the landing gear. My friend Chris found the Miss America which he flew without gear to handle better than the Spitfire with the landing gear installed. He was right but it was more a function of the with or without gear in my opinion. They are not bad with the gear installed. They just fly better without the gear.
Turns can be made with just ailerons and elevator or with rudder and elevator. They are actually smoother with a combination of aileron and rudder and then adding a bit of elevator as the wing tip on the inside of the turn starts to dip just like with larger planes. I strongly recommend low rates for basic flying, especially in breezy conditions.
Flights can be started with a toss with the throttle at 50% or slightly more. The toss should be into any wind. Hand launches can be made with or without the wheels attached. With the wheels I found it easy to take off from a hard smooth surface. Baseball infields with soft dirt offered resistance and I had nose overs. Hard smooth dirt, concrete and asphalt were all good surfaces for takeoffs. I would line up into the wind and advance the throttle. When I was going fast enough to fly a touch of up elevator and the planes lifted off. The plane requires so little runway that I have not launched with a cross wind.
Without gear installed all landings have been on grass. I lowered speed and let the plane gently settle and when it was just about out of air speed and I would kill the throttle and she would drop onto the grass and quickly slide to a stop. Some landings were just plops onto the grass. With gear installed I have had very nice landings on hard surfaces by slowly lowering the throttle until the plane was ready to settle down on her own. I land with a bit of power on and normally do a slight flair at time of touchdown. Some landings on a very smooth surface have been more scale like touching down with some speed and reducing throttle for a nice long roll out.
With the Spitfire I have made both small, large and a huge loop! On the huge loop she just kept climbing and climbing and then rolled over onto her back for a long stretch of inverted flight until I pushed her over into a dive and killed the throttle for the trip down. It may have been the largest loop I have ever made. It was certainly the smallest a plane has ever appeared to me at the top of one of my loops. With low rates (70%) the axial rolls are about one fuselage off of being in a straight line and at high rates they track straight as far as I could tell. I have also performed spit Ss and a number of half pipes with rudder turns. Performance is visibly better without the landing gear installed and the moves are smoother and hold to a better and tighter line. Speed is excellent considering her small size and with a fresh battery she do a vertical climb out of sight. (I stopped just short of loosing sight of her.) I have gotten a bit carried away and flown her farther out than I expected to but have had no range problems. I have only specked her out directly over head but range to the horizon has been excellent as well. I have not done official range testing with the AirCore and my Tactic 650 but I can't image anyone flying her further out on purpose. I know it was a full football field to the south and then to the north during my huge loop.
This review was written and I had all the still pictures I needed and a nice video of the Miss America. Unfortunately, the video I had shot of the Spitfire did not turn out very well. I went out to the field and found it was a blustery day. A beginner pilot was leaving as I arrived having decided it was best to save his plane for another day. I gauged the wind as being a low of 5 mph but basically an 8-12 mph blustery wind. With my review finished except for a video of the Spitfire I asked a friend if he would fly so I could video. He countered that he would video if I flew and I accepted his offer. I had a short flight to check out the trim and conditions and then flew for the camera. Unfortunately, the camera is new and I am still learning how it works in the field. While I was flying the camera would frequently go searching for the proper focus and most of the video was not very good. I set up to make a low slow close pass and was flying out over the field going with the wind and was flying a little too slowly as I start to bank into a turn. At just that moment I felt a very strong gust and the planed was flipped over and into a dive. I gave full up but she landed hard nose down in the dirt. Admittedly pilot error considering the conditions. I expected a total airframe right off. What I found was a broken canopy, a broken propeller, a few dents and a landing gear door knocked off. The repairs only took a few minutes. I used the supplied propeller and some foam safe CA and kicker. I am not proud of that flight but I felt I should share the results that it was easy to repair. No damage to the power core and the plane is ready to fly again.
I think the Principal Trainer airframe makes a good plane for the beginner. The dihedral in the wing allows it to return to a stable position if the pilot goes hands off of the sticks. It is a three channel system with throttle, elevator and rudder and that is an ideal way to learn to fly. After the beginner has mastered flying the Principal trainer they can move on to a fighter air frame and learn how to fly a four channel plane but I ONLY recommend the Principal Trainer for the beginner.
The first You Tube video below is the AirCore Miss America in flight. The second is the same power core in a Spitfire air frame.
|AirCore Miss America RC from Flyzone (2 min 58 sec)|
|The RC Flyzone AirCore Spitfire (2 min 6 sec)|
The Power Core works well and with the brushless motor the planes have plenty of speed to perform aerobatics or can be slowed down for more relaxed flying outdoors. The power core can be switched between planes in about two minutes with a little practice. The airframes are nice looking aircraft! My planes have molded in detail and excellent paint schemes that make them fun planes to fly. The handling of the two fighter planes is admittedly similar in nature and I consider that to be a good thing. I can fly my fighters with low rates (70% for ailerons and elevator) in a very relaxed fashion and their different appearance gives me pleasure while there compatible handling gives me confidence. I was supplied with two planes for this review. I have enjoyed them so much I have ordered three more battery packs, the FW 190 airframe and the Principal Trainer airframe. I am looking forward to purchasing the green Zero locally in Sacramento next month. The Power Core instruction manual states that more airframes are coming and it will be interesting to see what they will be.
If someone is just getting one airframe, the plane is a little pricey in my opinion. However, I can't imagine anyone just wanting one of these nice airframes. With each additional airframe purchased the AirCore system becomes a better bargain. Additionally, should you crash, in most crashes it is the airframe or airframe and prop that get damaged and for the cost of a new airframe kit you will most likely have a plane that looks and flies like new. Parts are sold individually as well. With my one crash during this review I only had to replace a propeller.
At high rates and full throttle the planes are exciting, fun and can be challenging to fly. Stunts I might not try with a more expensive airframe are now challenges with a financially acceptable risk to me. That includes playing: Follow the Leader which is done around an empty local park. It included flying between trees, through the net-less soccer goals, through the swings and more. This has been a fun review for me to do with flying outings during my lunch hour at two local parks. Even though the review is completed the flying sessions will continue for the foreseeable future and with my expanding Heer Force.
|Mar 26, 2014, 01:26 PM|
The new Zero is my favorite plane thus far! It has lots of room for the battery and the wires. This makes installing and replacing the battery very easy. It flies just as nice as the other fighters and it is my first Zero in any size while I have had other Mustangs, FW 190s and Spitfires. It was a bit late in the evening but I shot one good picture I like while my friend Dick was flying her for me. Second picture is too big for our normal format but may look OK here in a posting. I haven't found a bad flier in the series but I definitely prefer the war birds. Michael Heer 4/29/14
Video of Zero in flight taken May 1st posted below in comment #23.
|Mar 26, 2014, 02:37 PM|
United States, MA, Boston
Joined Nov 2013
Great review for a great product/series! I agree that these aren't quite RTF, and even the Powercore's might need a little user mod. Depending on how you attach the prop/prop adapter to the motor, you might find that the power core gets pushed into the aircore frame if you attach the prop with the powercore mounted. This happened to me in the field, so I used a finger against the motor connector to the ESC board, but this resulted in the connector breaking free from the connector as it was only hot glued together.
Once free, it doesn't take much for that cable to get disconnected. I would reinforce it with more hot glue or tape before flying, or one might experience a motor brownout.
|Mar 27, 2014, 12:39 PM|
Joined Dec 2008
Thanks for the excellent review. I love all the high quality in-flight photos, they look great and very scale.
Look forward to your further tests for the additional airframes, especially the trainer, whether it can be slow enough to fly in a gym.
To install the prop while the powercore is in place I would push against the back of the 1st servo (the little protruding cylinder), which feels more solid than the motor connector. I found it doesn't need much force for the prop to click on right.
|Mar 27, 2014, 10:15 PM|
Joined Nov 2000
I'm intrigued by the snap on prop .
It seems as genius. .. a welcome relief from goofy prop savers.
On a sour note though I have heard that in real life it's proving iffy..unreliable even.
Could you comment on that ?
|Mar 31, 2014, 09:57 AM|
I have had no problem with the snap on prop! I did break a prop on the crash I described in the text of my review but otherwise I have had no problems. The prop for the Mustang came off when it landed in weeds in the video shown in the review. In landings at the park where I usually have flow it I land in the grass and flare just as I touch down and the prop has only come off once on one of those landings and then snapped back into place. On the Spitfire I have had it snap off in several landings into tall grass but that is intended. My friend with the Principal Trainer has had a few crashes and he has pushed the mounting plate back into shape rather than replace it as it continues to do the job. They include a mounting plate with replacement propellers. I hope to buy a few extra next time I am up at RC Country in Sacramento to have spares.
The Zero is now available in White and Green. I hope to buy one new in late April when I am up at the RC Country Yard Sale. Here are a couple of pictures of them. Michael Heer
|Mar 31, 2014, 10:02 AM|
I have received the Principal Trainer and the FW 190. I went out to fly on Saturday but the wind picked up as a front was coming in and I opted not to fly. I hope to fly it after work latter this week and will report in then. Rain is predicted for this afternoon so it won't be today. Mike Heer
|Mar 31, 2014, 10:06 AM|
Thanks for the compliments on the pictures. My wife wants me to do a calender with my pictures for next year for friends and family and I am exploring that possibility. They would be in air shots without any people in the photos. Mike Heer
|Apr 01, 2014, 08:53 AM|
Binding Aircore receiver
Received my ME 109 the other day and all went together as reveiwed with one exception. I could not get it to bind with a tactic radio. After a few emails to aircore and the place I bought it from, the solution was to reverse throttle. That worked but I have to fly it with the throttle contol reversed, very odd and would not be a good idea for a beginner.
|Apr 01, 2014, 10:47 AM|
United States, MA, Boston
Joined Nov 2013
|Apr 01, 2014, 09:59 PM|
Took the 109 out for some sky time, on the second flight lost alerion control. Landed to check it and had a servo too hot to touch and the servo case beginning to melt.
BTW had to reverse everything but the rudder when I first got it.
|Apr 09, 2014, 11:00 AM|
I had to get something from Tower Hobbies so I went ahead and ordered the green Zero. I hope to have pictures and video of it up within two weeks. I am off to Seattle this weekend with my wife to see my son and his family. Mike H.
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