|Wing area:||257 sq in|
|Weight:||9-1/2 oz. (9.9 oz as tested)|
|Wing loading:||5 oz/sq ft (5.5 oz/sq ft as tested)|
|Motor:||Uberall "Nippy Black" 0803/199|
|ESC:||Uberall UB 0710-3Ls (Inc. with Motor)|
|Prop:||APC 8x3.8 Electric Prop|
|Batteries:||FMA Direct Kokam Single cell 3.7V 1500 mAh Li-Poly Battery|
|Servos:||3x Hitec HS-55|
Distributed by Hobby-Lobby, Czech Republic manufacturer Scorpio’s addition to the field of “indoor centric” planes takes a unique approach, with a brushless external rotor power system powered by a single cell lithium polymer battery. Molded foam and wood construction makes for a light structure that has a very stout feel. Most RC planes powered by a single li-poly cell are in the 20” and smaller wingspan range. The Lipol-One breaks the model size rules for single cell li-poly power.
Shortly after I threw my hat into the ring to review the Lipol-One for RCGroups, I had the chance to fly the demo model that Hobby-Lobby brought to the JR Electric Flight Festival. The Lipol-One is an excellent model to pass around at indoor sessions. I was immediately impressed with the slow flight speed and responsive handling. I hoped that I would be selected to do the review.
Hobby-Lobby included the special Lipol-One power system for this review. If I were to purchase this aircraft via the Hobby Lobby website, I would need to order the power package as well. The Uberall "Nippy Black" 0803/199 brushless external rotor motor came with the matching Uberall UB 0710-3Ls brushless speed controller. An FMA Direct Kokam Single cell 3.7V 1500 mAh Li-Poly battery, 4mm prop adapter, APC 8x3.8 Electric Prop, Hitec 555 receiver, and three Hitec HS-55 servos rounded out the package.
I provided 5-minute Epoxy, Foam-Safe CA, hinging tape, and JST connector for the speed control. Common modeling tools were also required.
The kit box contents were nicely packaged and consisted of the fuse, wing, tail feathers, Die-cut wood, hardware pack, sticker sheet, and instruction manual. The manual contained an illustrated parts list that clearly identified the individual parts. Every step of the construction was accompanied by a clear and helpful illustration that clarified the step. Suggested adhesives were listed where used.
The foam parts were nicely finished with very light (but opaque) yellow and red. The edges of the stab and rudder were finished too--a very nice touch over the bare foam edges found on most foam airplanes. Even the bare foam had a very nice finish. The accuracy and parts fit was impressive. The die-cutting was very sharp and little persuasion was required to separate the parts from their respective sheets.
The degree of prefabrication and excellent parts fit made the construction of the Lipol-One a non-event. Where the size of the balsa or plywood parts needed to be adjusted, the part was over-sized and a bit of light sanding was all that was needed to achieve an excellent fit. Much of the actual construction method used would depend upon the experience level and habits of the modeler building the plane. Any modeler with even limited building experience could easily build a strong and light airframe by following the included manual to the letter.
This review will highlight instances where the reviewer deviated from or clarified the included instructions. I expected my airframe would be subject to some abuse, so 5-minute epoxy was used throughout the construction.
The Lipol-One included the needed airframe parts (an alternate firewall) and instructions for a geared 280 brushed power system, should the builder wish to use a more conventional power system. But, what fun would a mundane (and noisy) brushed power system be?
The firewall and landing gear mount were laminated from balsa and plywood parts and fit into the molded slots inside the fuselage. The motor mount holes were pre-marked with die-cutting on the firewall pieces.
The motor mount was attached to the laminated firewall before installing in the fuselage. Having the motor mount to pull the firewall into place made positioning the firewall much easier. All three formers and the servo tray were epoxied into slots molded into the inside of the fuselage.
The rear former and servo tray are individual balsa pieces. I installed these pieces separately rather than after they had been glued to each other to ease their placement inside the fuse. The stickers were applied before the tail feathers were added to the fuselage. Precise placement of the stickers was much easier without the tail feathers in the way.
The elevator was precut and required only addition of a tape hinge and sanding a bevel on the hinged surface. I chose to cut the elevator completely free of the stab before hinging. The rudder required only sticker application, a hinged surface bevel, and a tape hinge. Prefabricated rod-in-tube pushrods were epoxied into the fuse at their exit points and at the former just aft of the servo tray. The servos were mounted using screws rather than using glue as called for in the instruction, as I have never been a big fan of gluing servos into anything.
Spruce and plywood strips were epoxied onto the cutout sections of the wing, forming a “T” main spar arrangement that was plenty robust. The installation order of the “spar” pieces was reversed from the procedure in the included instructions. The spruce “spar” was set flush with the top of the precut slot in the wing and epoxied in place. A light weight (a model magazine) was placed on the top surface of the wing to “clamp” the spar in place. The plywood “cap” was added afterward and held in place with light weights while the epoxy set up. The instructions showed both optional flaps and ailerons. Flaps seemed more appropriate for the Lipol-One’s intended flying style.
Motor, battery, receiver, and speed control mounted in the locations illustrated in the instructions. The wing held in place by the included white rubber bands that matched the wing color fairly well—a nice touch. Balance point was dead-on the forward point of the recommended range of 60-65 mm from the wing leading edge. Ready to fly weight was 9.9 oz. Control throws were given in degrees in the instructions. Control surface deflection was estimated based on these recommendations.
The Uberall UB 0710-3Ls brushless speed control is armed in a unique manner that is thoroughly explained in it’s accompanying instructions. To enable the brake, the speed control is powered on with the transmitter throttle stick in the low position. After a single beep is heard, the throttle stick is advanced to full throttle. Two beeps are heard and the throttle stick is moved back to the low position. After a final confirmation beep, the speed control is armed and ready for use. The Uberall "Nippy Black" 0803/199 responds very smoothly and quietly to the included speed control. The braking action is equally smooth and quiet. There is no hint of the abrupt and harsh braking that is characteristic of some speed controls. The Uberall "Nippy Black" 0803/199 draws 3.2 amps on 3.55 volts delivering about 11.3 Watts to the prop at full throttle on the freshly charged 1500 mAh Kokam li-poly cell. The maiden flight took place in a single basketball court gym at a local collage.
Control surface direction and range check were completed without issue. The Lipol-One handled very well on the ground. Prop blast over the full-flying rudder provided positive tail control even at low speeds.
Gently advancing the throttle quickly got the Lipol-One moving and the tail lifted in a few feet. The plane eased into the air at almost the same time full power was reached. No trim was needed for straight and level flight. Power was reduced to approximately three-quarters, after circumventing about half of the facility as it had already climbed to the height of the basketball hoops.
A single court basketball gym is a small area to test fly any small indoor airplane. The Lipol-One is far larger than most indoor birds. The Lipol-One handled the ham-fisted inputs of the nervous pilot with aplomb. I was nervous, and overcontrolled the airplane, a bit like a beginner. The second flight video will show some of this nervousness, and how incredibly well the Lipol-One handled it. A number of encounters with the ground occurred as I was developing a feel for the plane’s handling; sort of unintentional touch-n-go's. The Lipol-One basically landed itself when it was stalled too near the ground. A bit of throttle got her airborne again almost immediately.
After both plane and pilot had a few laps around the gym to settle in, the Lipol-One was able to show its true colors. Very stable and slow. Right at home in a facility this size. The flaps slowed the plane noticeably when deployed. As plane and pilot grew more accustomed to each other, it was apparent that the plane flew much smoother with fewer control inputs. It was simply not necessary to constantly fly the Lipol-One. I would stop short of calling the transmitter “optional”, but remember that it all took place in a single-court gym.
A steady cruise required about ¾ throttle. Few consider maiden flights fun to start with. Add to the “fun” the limited space of a single court gym and the Lipol-One maiden could easily have been a disaster. But, it was actually fun. Once a steady cruise had been established, I could concentrate on missing the walls and pit area. It was rather tense and exciting until I got the hang of it.
The stall characteristics of the Lipol-One are clearly illustrated in the following video footage. It just was not an issue with this plane. Even close to the ground, a stall resulted in a touch-n-go or landing. A heavier or less robust airplane may have had problems with this sort of treatment, but not the Lipol-One. In a larger facility or outdoors, the Lipol-One was a great plane to pass the transmitter around. The Lipol-One remained responsive to control inputs even at its slowest flying speed. I never had the impression that the Lipol-One was “flying me” during the maiden or on subsequent flights.
I would be remiss if I did not take the time to thank the young lady who was kind enough to videotape the maiden and the rest of the flights that evening. Amanda Needels did a wonderful job. I hope that she will not mind being pressed into service in the future.
I contemplated installing flaperons on the Lipol-One from the beginning of the construction process. But, I felt that it should be flown as designed first. The mixing available on my Airtronics Stylus transmitter should make flaperons easy. And it does, with a seven channel receiver. I didn’t know if it was even possible with a five channel receiver like the Hitec 555. I sent an e-mail to Airtronics support to find out. Jack Albrecht of Airtronics support provided instructions for the required mixes and it was off to the races. The single Hitec HS-55 mounted to the wing was replaced with a pair of 4.4 g servos (no weight penalty). A linkage to each flap was fabricated from parts included in the Lipol-One kit. Jack’s setup worked like a charm and provided fully functional flaperon control with elevator compensation that prevented the Lipol-One from “ballooning” nose up when the flaps were deployed in flight. The rudder was now on the left transmitter stick and the ailerons on the right. Two aileron/rudder mixes were setup of 25% and 50%. The flaperon setup also provided a spoileron, or reflex, position where the flaps were raised a bit above the top surface of the wing. The reflex provided a bit of extra speed and a bit less lift when desired. The Lipol-One really came alive with the undeniable “cool factor” of this setup. It was noticeably smoother in the air. The flight envelope was wider with the increased speed range provided by the reflex of the flaperons. The Lipol-One felt even more at home in a single court gym with the flaperon setup. I was lucky to have another great videographer on hand this session. Thanks to Jim Zare for shooting this session. All touch-n-go's in this session were intentional.
The Lipol-One managed to capture and improve the flight characteristics of the ultra light indoor flyers like the Bleriot and Demoiselle, in a modern molded foam package with a very “cool factor” power system. Airframe integrity was not comprised for slow flight characteristics. The Lipol-One has shed the fragility of most slow flyers with its robust molded foam airframe. Competent and predictable in the air, the Lipol-One responded to control inputs at even its slowest flying speeds. The power system provided nearly silent power that was perfectly matched to the airframe. The addition of useful flaps added to the plane’s flight envelope. The “over the top” addition of flaperons was worthwhile if the modeler has the radio equipment to do so. A reasonably experienced pilot would have no trouble flying the Lipol-One in a single court sized gym. Beginners would have no problems in larger facilities or outdoors in very light or zero wind conditions. The Lipol-One required very little attention to the transmitter when flown in golf domes or outdoors. Hobby-Lobby had done a great service in bringing this plane to the US market.
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