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BME Aircraft's Cap Maniac .46/Saito 100 ARF Review

Steve Herlacher explores the BME Cap in its intended glow configuration and finds, with a few minor changes, it to be a GREAT aerobatic performer. Be sure to visit E Zone for the conversion article as well!

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:60"
Wing Area:750 sq. in.
Weight:6-7.5 pounds
Weight as tested:7 3/4 Pounds
Length:55"
Wing Loading:23 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Hitec Digital
Transmitter:Futaba 9ZAP
Receiver:Futaba R148DF
Engine:Saito 100 Golden Knight
Manufacturer:BME Aircraft
Available From:BME Aircraft

Cap's are one of my favorite type of airplanes, so when this one came up for review I jumped on it. Here is what they have to say about it on the BME website.

Description:

Small and light, the CAP Maniac lives up to it's name by offering you fantastic 3D performance not usually seen in a plane this size. One look at the massive control surfaces and you know that authority is an understatement. The CAP Maniac is a beautifully finished aircraft that you'll want to take to the field each and every time you go.

Features:

  • Laser-cut balsa and ply construction
  • Large, double-beveled control surfaces
  • Fiber glass cowl and wheel pants
  • Pre-slotted CA hinge installation and more.

Kit includes:

  • Hardware packóbolts and nuts, CA hinges, etc
  • Fuel tank
  • Durable, lightweight main and tailwheels
  • Engine mount

Assembly

I started by looking for the instruction manual, which was missing from the box. I sent an email to BME and they informed me they don't put them in the box and that it is on their site for download. I assume the idea is that the manuals are always current this way. I don't know what they expect the people without Internet access to do! But I downloaded it and printed it out.

Wing

I first went over the complete airframe with a covering iron to tighten the few loose spots or wrinkles. There weren't many at all,but after heating it there were more. The black trim did not want to stay stuck in a few spots. I don't know what the covering is, but Ultracote seemed to match it pretty close. I added some black Ultracote in a couple small spots where the original stuff wouldn't stay stuck and some white in other areas. (BME indicates the trim has been modified on future models to minimize this problem.)

The main wing assembly is first. The joiner is one piece and has a taper on one side and is flat on the other. The flat part faced the top of the wing so it had 0 dihedral and set perfectly flat.

Next came fitting the wing to the fuse. The holes in the fuse for the locating dowels had to be opened up slightly so they would fit, then the wing was put in place.

I used Dubro control horns for the ailerons as the supplied screws that came with it were not quite long enough to go all the way thru the aileron. Plus I like these type of control horns better. I also used 4-40 linkages with ball links.

Tail

BME indicates they are modifying the tail mounting on future models to minimize this problem.

Landing gear

The landing gear was an easy install as the wheel pants already had holes drilled in them. All that I had to do was bolt the wheels on with the supplied axles and wheel collars, cut out the hole on the wheel pant to make it a slot and then slide them in place and attach with 2 screws and blind nut. The provided 4-40 screws were a little long and prevented the wheel from spinning so I used some shorter ones.

Fuselage

The first thing I did was install the servos in the fuse for the elevator and rudder. There was a ply plate inside the fuse for the tail servos and also fuse-side mounts in the tail. I mounted the elevator ones on the outside of the fuse in the rear in the provided mounts.

The rudder pull-pull setup rubbed the wires against the rear former as seen in the picture. I drilled 2 small holes in it so they would not cut into it. It was easier to do since I had that area uncovered for a cooling air exit for the electric conversion review, but then I had to cover it with some white ultracote for the glow review. There was nothing in the instructions on how to hook up the pull-pull system or the elevator linkages, but if your building this type of plane you probably know how to do that part.

For the elevator linkages I used 4-40 rods with ball links. The 2mm rods were not strong enough in my opinion for the long linkage. They would flex really bad which is not a good thing. I did find a good use for them though. The tail surfaces felt very flexible so I used the pushrods and a small piece of K+S brass stock to make the supports for the tail. It is plenty strong now. (BME indicates they are upgrading to heavy duty hardware for the tail as well. Great to work with such a pro-active manufacturer!)

Engine Installation

I first put the Saito 100 on my test stand so I could run some fuel thru it and break it in. It fired right up and I didn't have any problems with it so after 5 tanks and a little adjusting it was time to mount it in the Cap.

The motor mounting was fairly simple. The instructions said to mount the engine on its side, but I thought the engine head sticking out would ruin the look of the cowl so I decided to mount it inverted. The included mount worked great and after finding the proper thrust line the holes were drilled in the firewall and blind nuts installed.

The stock engine spacing wouldn't allow the cowl to cover the bottom of the fuselage. I used 5 1/8 spacing from the firewall to the prop hub instead. I had to reverse the carburetor on the engine so the throttle arm would not hit the mount as it was pretty close, now it was lined up in the center of the firewall.

The gel coat on my cowl chipped very easily when cut or sanded, you can see in the pictures where it chipped off. I added some thin CA to try and keep it from chipping any more than it did. I finished it up with a Vortech 2-1/4 aluminum spinner and 15x6 APC prop.

The included fuel tank fit into a ply former that was bolted or glued in. This setup worked great but since I flew this Cap electric first I had a battery tray inside the fuse which got in the way of the stock tank mounting. I used a Hayes 13oz square tank and it sat right on the battery tray and was held in place with foam and velcro to keep it from going anywhere. You can see the location of my receiver pack also on the tray.

I had to mount the throttle servo on the opposite side since I flipped the carb around on the Saito, otherwise it would have had a sharp bend in the pushrod.

Flying

The Cap balanced perfectly at 4 1/2" with an empty fuel tank, which is in the middle of the recommended range. The manual gave throw recommendations for 3D flying which are as follows:

Throws

  • Aileron 35 degrees
  • Elevator 45 degrees
  • Rudder 45 degrees

I setup dual rates with about half of the recommended 3D throws for normal flying as per the manual. I also used 70% expo on all the surfaces except the rudder, where I used 40%. The battery was strapped in and the wing was bolted on with the 2 wing bolts. Range check followed and showed no signs of problems. I set the model on the runway for its maiden flight. That day had a pretty bad crosswind but with a little rudder correction it tracked straight on the runway with no major problems and was in the air in no time. Fighting the wind, I got the model trimmed as best as I could tell. It was getting blown around pretty good but so was every other plane at the field that day. I proceeded to see what the cap could do.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

This is where the cap excels! The roll rate was very quick on low rates, when flipped to high it was almost a blur and trying to do point rolls on high rates was a challenge to keep it from rolling too far. Knife edge had some coupling and pulled to the wheels but I just held it out with some elevator, you could also use your computer transmitter to mix it out.

I took the cap up to a safe altitude and forced it to stall, most of the time it would just drop the nose, gain speed and fly out of it. A few times it did drop a wingtip but not bad at all, as you can see in the video the slow speed flying is very good.

I did some basic rolls and loops which the Saito had no problem pulling it thru. It had plenty of power for hovering. Inverted flight only required a touch of down elevator so the CG was perfect. I made a couple attempts and it did not want to come down and wanted to keep on flying! I finally got it down and decided to take it home and wait for a nicer day to fly it some more.

A couple days later I took the Cap out for some more flights. The takeoff roll wasn't very long and after it broke the ground I could climb straight up if I wanted. I got a chance to wring it out more on this flight and there didn't seem to be anything it didn't do well. Harriers had almost no wing rock after you get them locked in, it could probably be landed in a harrier. No mixing was used on the ailerons as it wasn't needed.

Inverted flat spins and blenders were just awesome and I'm sure the tail brace I added was getting a workout as they were pretty violent. Point rolls were simple and very axial, I did them on low rates though as on high rates it rolled too fast. The Cap does great waterfalls and knife edge spins on high rates.

I did manage an ugly rolling circle which I am sure will get better when I get some more flying time with the Cap.

Landing this time was also in a crosswind but the cap handled it with no problem at all. This is a great combo!

Is This For a Beginner?

No it is not and it says so in the manual. :) It may be a good 3rd or 4th plane though.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

The Cap Maniac looks and fly's great, just like the real cap does. If you are looking for one in this size you won't be disappointed, no matter how you power it. Be sure to visit E Zone for the electric conversion article!

Discussion

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Old Mar 14, 2005, 06:11 PM
Registered User
IMaflyer's Avatar
USA, WA, Spokane
Joined Feb 2004
55 Posts
Camera work

Please, please, please get another cameraman. I could NOT watch more than 20 seconds of the video because the ineptitude of the cameraman was driving me nuts! It was a disappointing end to what was otherwise an excellent article.
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Old Mar 14, 2005, 10:09 PM
Registered User
Edmonton
Joined Dec 2004
36 Posts
aw c'mon...he only lost it ..what 4 or 5 times...... I thought it was funny...the plane is obviously faster than the cameraman.
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Old Mar 15, 2005, 11:14 AM
Registered User
IMaflyer's Avatar
USA, WA, Spokane
Joined Feb 2004
55 Posts
camerawork

Well I'll definitely agree with you there. Maybe he's used to filming new helicopter pilots!
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