|Wing Area:||480 sq. in.|
|Wing Loading:||4 oz/sq. ft.|
|Battery:||ThunderPower 3 cell LiPoly 700mAh|
|ESC:||Jeti Advance + 8 amp brushless with programmer|
|Available From:||Hobby Lobby|
With winter approaching and the indoor flying season here, I wanted to build a 7 – 10 oz. 3D airplane. Last spring I built (and reviewed here) Hobby Lobby’s Potensky UZI XXL Biplane and it became my favorite electric plane. So, I knew I wanted another bipe, just smaller and lighter for indoor flight. That’s why I selected the Nikitis Rebel 3D.
Biplanes have advantages over mono wing ships. First of all, the increased wing area helps achieve very low wingloadings, making the plane "floaty" as well as stable at low speeds.
I also felt that the increased side area and huge control surfaces would help me in my quest to master high-alpha knife-edge flight. I was also pleased when I found that the gear that worked so well in my old Shocky would be the perfect choice in the Rebel. I imagine many of our readers also have this gear already in an aging Shockflyer and are now deciding which airframe to install it to next. I hope this review will help you evaluate the Rebel as your next lightweight 3D aircraft.
The Rebel 3D is a flat foam model, with all parts pre-cut from 3mm Depron. The energetic, appealing graphics came pre-printed. This little biplane weighed 9 oz – and that was including the recommended 700 MA 3 cell Lipo battery.
This peppy tail dragger included the front landing gear. Some builders may decide to put a small wheel or skid on the rudder. I put on a wheel as I enjoyed taxiing my little acrobat around prior to its two-foot take-off run.
The Rebel is a model for the serious RC enthusiast who demands ultimate control and is comfortable flying a model demanding the use of rudder. Like many other small bipes, the pilot's use of the ailerons alone will merely control roll axis without inducing the yaw needed to turn. Read later in the flight report on how the use of rudder was required to fly this plane.
I chose to use:
Reading ahead in the instructions I saw that I would affix the aileron servos to the bottom of the top wing. Therefore, I beveled the ailerons so that the bottom wing had a top hinge and the top wing had a bottom hinge. I didn't hinge the ailerons to the wing until I was almost finished building so that they wouldn't flop around in my way.
The next step was assembling the fuselage. Its cruciform construction was very similar to that of many other flat foam 3D planes. The fuselage was made from a horizontal foam and a vertical foam piece fashioned in an X. A unique design feature is how Nikitis employed two stiffeners that build a box structure on the bottom part of the cruciform fuselage. This crucial difference resulted in an exceedingly stiff fuselage.
The step that separates the experienced builder from the neophyte was the boxing in the fuselage with those two stiffeners. At one point I needed to slightly bend the stiffener at its widest location and the instructions clearly cautioned me to not twist the fuse as I tacked these gussets in place. I did it "their way" and proceeded carefully as it would have been easy to build in a twist to the fuse that could drive me crazy later as I set up the model for knife edge mixes. I used a couple of squares and my formerly trusted eyesight to make sure the pieces were square before tacking the fuse in a few spots with a hot glue gun. I cringe thinking back to this step -- because I introduced a slight left twist near the tail of the fuse.
Except the fuselage cruciform, the entire assembly proceeded quickly and smoothly.
Once I test fit the four servos, I was certain which way to bevel the control surfaces with a few swipes of a sanding block. I cut the included piano wire control rods with my handy Dremel, crimped the z-bends and then hot glued the servos so that the control surfaces were perfectly neutral. I removed all slop from the linkages by putting a drop of medium CA (thick will do) at each point where the rod went through the horn. After the CA cured I gave the rod a quick twist to create a perfect acrylic bushing.
I picked a calm morning at my local R/C field for the first flights. I wanted plenty of room to set initial trims and to correct any unwanted tendencies I expected from a short coupled biplane such as roll and pitch coupling during knife-edge maneuvers.
The little plane powered up and took off smartly with a ½ throttle advance. I immediately noticed that the plane would not turn with just ailerons, so I used ailerons and rudder to make the turns. Shortly, I found that rudder alone was sufficient for cruising around parkflyer style.
The little plane rolled great, looped tightly and had no problem with any pattern maneuver I could think of – as long as I wasn't expecting precision. The Rebel was designed for high alpha (stalled) flight and rock’n’roll stick-banging. I gave up on trying to make my maneuvers look polished and just enjoyed piloting it.
I found the plane required very little rudder to maintain knife edge flight at ½ throttle. In fact, with the addition of some rudder and power, I was able to easily accomplish a knife-edge loop! I experienced some pitch coupling (it needed a push on the elevator) and roll coupling (it needed right aileron) for straight flight. The Rebel felt very solid and it seemed to behave better than the Tensor and Raptor that I’ve flown in the past.
The Rebel was perhaps the easiest hoverer I've owned. Leaving the ailerons alone, I found it started to torque roll on its own. Just a bit of right aileron locked it in position hovering, as it hung in the air eerily steady. I felt very confident bringing the little plane within a foot or so of the ground. It just felt that solid, and the 2208/34 motor was powerful enough to recover from any attitude. This plane helped me look better than I actually am!
First I tried some harriers. It required a lot of up elevator and responded best to pulsating power adjustments. In the harrier attitude, the rudder snapped the plane around smoothly and with authority. Knife-edge harriers required a bit more power (but not much more) and were easy to maintain. Then I tried a harrier rolling circle. My Rebel did the rolling circle almost by accident -- making me, again, look far better than I actually am.
My skills are not yet up to performing true 3D tricks with any reliability whatsoever, so I loaned my plane to a fellow club member at an indoor fly at the Minneapolis Metrodome. Gene showed that the Rebel was up to performing any trick at any attitude with the pilot’s ability it’s only limitation.
If you've never flown a little biplane before, please don't be surprised if at first you find it difficult to pilot with any precision at all. Little bipes fly very different from little monoplanes. That's what makes them so much fun to fly! In fact, those who have only relied on ailerons in the past may find it difficult to keep the little plane within the home team's half of a football field. My advice: When starting out, only use the ailerons to level the plane, and only use the rudder for turning. You'll quickly learn to coordinate the 2 controls. Oh, and don't aim the nose towards the ground for any length of time!
What a great little plane for the calm or indoor theater of operations! I'm going to depend on the Nikitis' Rebel to hone my high-alpha skills throughout the winter at our excellent, gigantic Metrodome arena.
The Depron foam is easy to repair, but any kind of ground contact will likely end the fun for the moment. I advise you be confident of your skills and trust the power of the AXI 2208 to pull you smartly out of dangerous positions. My field repair box contained a hot glue gun, odorless CA and UHU Styropor Contact Cement. I've increasingly come to rely on the UHU for fast and durable repairs.
The instructions were concise, clear and easy to follow. I was disappointed in the fact I built a left twist in the fuse that was a challenge to correct, but I've warned everyone, and hopefully all future builders will easily pass by that dangerous trap.
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