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Hobby Lobby's Extra 330 3D Profile Suitcase ARF Review

Stefan Cohen reviews the Hobby Lobby new 3D profile electric ARF ... a plane that 3D's like a champ and breaks down into a large suitcase with ease for transportation!

Splash

Introduction and First Impressions


Wingspan:30.5"
Wing Area:320 sq. in.
Weight:14 oz.
Length:31.5"
Wing Loading:6 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:HS-55's
Transmitter:JR 6102
Receiver:Electron 6
Battery:Thunder Power 1320 3 Cell Prolites
Motor:Axi 2208/34
ESC:Jeti Advance PLUS 8 Amp
Manufacturer:Hobby Lobby
Available From:Hobby Lobby
Propeller Used: 10x3.8 APC SF

Upon opening the box I realized how lucky I was to be doing an E-Zone review of this plane. After taking everything out of the box I got a chance to take a look at how the plane was built. The entire fuselage, wing and surfaces were formed by interlocking laser cut parts. To really make the laser cut parts "POP", Hobby-Lobby used transparent covering on most of the plane. Hobby-Lobby has named this plane the Extra 330 Suitcase Plane. Now you may be wondering,"What is a suitcase plane?" Hobby-Lobby did not provide a great description of what a "Suitcase Plane" is, so I was eager to find out.

What Is a Suitcase Plane and Why Do I Want One?

Have you ever had a car trip planned and wanted to bring a plane with you? If so, this is the plane for you! The plane fits conveniently into a large suitcase and only takes minutes to reassemble. The suitcase must be at least 33x12x4 and the plane will fit in effortlessly. The way the plane disassembles is by a unique placement of ply mounting tabs on the wing and horizontal stab. The fuselage also has strategically placed cutouts to accommodate the servos when sliding the wing in and out of place.

Unfortunately, I intially thought that the plane would fit back into the box that it came with, like many micro helicopters, but this was not true. As previously mentioned it fits into a standard suitcase, assuming that you own one. Luckily a friend of mine had a spare box that fit the specifications and that the plane fits into without a problem. Even though the transportation features weren't quite all I'd hoped for, the planes flight characteristics made up for the box issue.

Kit Contents

Required Accessories

  • 4 Hitec HS-55 Servos
  • 6 Channel Micro Reciever
  • 2208/34 AXI Outrunner & Radial Mount
  • Jeti or Similar ESC (8 Amp Minimum)
  • Bullet Connectors
  • 10x3.8 APC Slow-Flyer Prop
  • Battery Connectors JST or Deans Ultra Connectors Work Well
  • Thin CA and Epoxy
  • Thunder-Power 1320 3 Cell Lithium Polymer Battery

Assembly

Step 1: Reading The Manual

Like many people, I hesitate to read the manual when assembling ARF's or even kits. The classic thought is "Why should I, I have been doing this long enough to do without a manual." But it's always a good idea and, when building a plane like the Extra 330 it is neccessary due to the removable wing and stab. Anyway, I proceeded to read the manual. I instantly realized that this manual was not done by Hobby-Lobby but by the factory that makes the planes. All that is used in the manual is pictures and Hobby-Lobby's added addendum. The lack of written instructions in the manual added to the build time on some aspects, but overall the manual's visuals were pretty good.

Step 2:Model Preparation

Generally on most ARF's the covering around the stab and wing cutouts is not cut. This step is left to the buyer to execute. There are two methods most modelers use to remove the covering, the first is to just go at it with a razor blade and the second is to use a soldering iron around the cutout. I prefer the latter for a few reasons. First, it makes a much neater edge and due to the heat of the iron the covering is melted to the wood so it is less likely to peel up. After I melted open the servo, wing and horizontal cutouts I was ready to move on and get this plane flying!

Step 3:Hinging and Servo Installation

One of the things that really pleased me about the Extra is that the rudder and elevator servos were mounted in the rear of the fuselage. This is helpful on 3D aircraft because it helps create a very clean and strong connection from the servo to the horn.

The installation of the tail servos goes very smoothly and the HS-55's fit right into place. The wing was a different story, the servo cutouts needed to be enlarged slightly to fit the HS-55's. On the tail the servo wires needed to be lengthened. As I was not very concerned with weight, I just used Futaba 6 inch pigtails and soldered them on to the existing wire.

Step 4: Stab and Wing Installation

Prior to setting up the linkages, I had to install the wing and horizontal stab.

Horizontal Stab and Elevator Installation

Wing Installation

The wing installation was very similar to the installation of the elevator. The only difference is that the wing had 4 plywood standoffs, and I needed to remove the left aileron linkage for the wing to slide through.

Step 6: Axi 2208/34 Brushless Motor and Speed Control Installation

Although the manual said to do the motor installation after hinging, I decided to wait and do it at the end. My reason for this is that the laser cut outrunner mount that was supplied with the Extra could be placed in a variety of locations on the front of the fuselage, thus changing the CG position. I knew it was better to wait, especially when dealing with quarter ounces making devastating differences to flight performance.

Hobby-Lobby provided an addendum and the plywood outrunner mount at no extra cost to the buyer. As with most Axi applications they are mounted using the radial mount that must be purchased with the motor.

Completion

Landing Gear Installation

The landing gear installation was very clever. The Extra uses a pre bent wire landing gear that goes onto the fuselage. A screw goes through the top end of the landing gear to prevent it from sliding down and a ziptie goes on the bottom to prevent it from sliding up. The landing gear is very easy to remove in case you are going to break the plane down into a box. The supplied wheels are installed with park flyer collars.

Battery Placement & Center of Gravitty

Prior to the first flight I had the battery placed immediately in front of the landing gear so that the plane balanced perfectly on the 4 inch recommended CG. During the first flight this CG proved to be too "squirelly" so I moved the battery foward about a half an inch -- directly under the main spar. At this CG, the plane flew perfectly. I recommend putting the center of gravity at 3.5 inches back from the LE.

I recommend a starting CG of 3.5" back from the leading edge. The recommended 4" CG was too "squirrelly" to be comfortable for first flights.

Flying

On a sunny winter day after a fresh coat of snow covered the ground I headed out to a local high school field to put the maiden flight on the Extra 330. The battery was charged and the wind was calm.

Taking Off

Since the ground was covered in powerdery snow I did not even bother with trying to takeoff. I held the plane and as I applied 3/4 power and up elevator, let go. The plane took to the sky immediately. After adding some clicks of aileron and elevator, the plane was tracking well.

General Aerobatics

After flying around in a few circles to get used to the total responsiveness of the plane, I was ready to try something new. One of the first things I do before aerobatics or 3D on any plane's maiden is check out the roll rate so I know what's coming if I over control...the roll rate was very managable.

One of the things I love ... are knife edge spins and this was the best out of all of the non-3D maneuvers that this plane performed!

I did a few loops and they tracked very well and are very tight. I tried mixing in some spoileron when I gave up elevator and that made the loops even tighter. One of the things I love to do with all of my planes are knife edge spins and this was the best out of all of the non-3D maneuvers that this plane performed. Using full left rudder, full right aileron and a little up elevator the plane goes into a beautiful knife edge spin.

Finally I did a couple of knife edge passes and found that the plane pulled to the canopy. I corrected this by shifting the battery location and knife edge is now very clean. Overall the Extra performs "General Aerobatics" very well.

High Speed?

Due to the design of the plane I would not recommend high speed flight for a few reasons. First, the plane is not designed to be a pylon racer and the stresses of high speed flight and maneuvers might damage the airframe. Also, high speed flight with large control surfaces can result in flutter, leading to devastating crashes that would be best to prevent.

Wind Performance

I flew this plane in 5 mph winds and it did very well. I would not recommend flying the Extra in winds higher than about 8 mph as it will most likely get difficult to control. That being said I would guestimate it is possible to fly it in up to 10 mph winds but you will spend most of your flight time trying to accomodate for the wind and 3D will become difficult.

3D peformance

On most maiden flights I do not try to do tail touches, but the Extra was different...The extra hovered incredibly easily, I was so comfortable that I brought it down and did a tial touch!

Hovering is probably the most popular 3D move. A plane being able to hover sets the standard for whether or not it is 3D capable. On most maiden flights of my planes I do not try to do tail touches, but the Extra's maiden was different. After everything was trimmed out I brought it by for a slow low pass and felt comfortable enough to pop it up into a hover. The Extra hovered incredibly easily, I was so comfortable hovering that I brought it down and did a tail touch. When I felt like I was loosing the hover I applied power and the plane pulled out like a rocket. If you are new to hovering and want a built up balsa electric I would definitely recommend this plane.

Another popular move is the flat spin. A flat spin is when the plane goes into a spin around the yaw axis. With a little tweeking the Extra performs these very well. If you were to put a slightly more powerful motor on the Extra you could do climbing flat spins!

Harriers are one of the best maneuvers that this plane performs. With about 1/4-1/3 power the Extra gets into a nice locked in harrier. After getting completley comfortable with the airplane I decided to try some High Alpha Knife Edge(HAKE). HAKE is when the aircraft does knife edge but the nose is in a high attitude position, the Extra performs this very well with some speed.

Is This For a Beginner?

The question of whether or not a plane is for a beginner is thrown around constantly. To give a more objective answer than yes or no we must define what a beginner is. Here are a few scenarios:

Person Type Is This Plane Is For that Person and Why or Why Not?
Beginner A is completely new to the hobby and has no idea what an elevator or aileron is and he/she has never flown a plane except for a radioshack electric. This plane is definitely not for that person. As much as the design, features and flight characteristics may appeal to them, this plane requires good basic skills and is not for that person.
Beginner B has flown a trainer but is still not completely comfortable with touch and goes and minor aerobatics. This plane is not for that level of beginner either. Even with very low rates and a conservative center of gravity, the Extra is a huge jump for a barely experienced pilot.
Beginner C has flown a trainer and is very experienced with it. They are to the point that they are bored with the trainer and want a more aerobatic model. This plane may be for that person, with an experienced aerobatic pilot to do the inital setup, trimming and CG selection. With the correct control throws and center of gravity I think that this plane would fit a post trainer pilot very well.

Video Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

Likes and Dislikes

What I Liked:

  • Great Flying Plane
  • Beautiful Covering Scheme
  • Laser Cut Everything!
  • Well Designed Outrunner Mount

What I Thought Could Be Improved

  • Box Could Have Been Made Just Inches Wider and The Disassembled Plane Would Have Fit In The Original Box.
  • More Ply Could Have Been Used In The Fuselage Between The Tail and Wing To Beef It Up.
Hobby-Lobby has a winner on their hands. Although I was dissapointed that the plane didn't fit into the box that it came in, the flight characteristics more than made up for it, and it does, TRULY, fit into a 'suitcase', as the name intends. The plane is incredibly stable and performs most desired 3D maneuvers. Not only does the plane fly great but it is incredibly durable. One nose in is shown in the video but there were a few more mishaps that did not cause any damage.

Discussion

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Old Dec 29, 2005, 11:02 PM
Registered User
aneximander's Avatar
Berkeley, Ca
Joined Nov 2003
13 Posts
While I prefer to match my motors to my desired plane, in this case I have a
himax 2812-1080kv available and am hoping this plane will be a good match.
Any thoughts would be appreciated. BTW I thought the review was great!

The fly anywhere capability and great looks in tempting my mastercard out
of my wallet.
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Old Dec 29, 2005, 11:16 PM
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Everett Wa.
Joined Jun 2001
5,925 Posts
Stefan,
I agree it is a fun plane but not great by today’s standard. First the thick airfoil will not let the wing stall very easily even with the CG farther back than 100mm (4 inches). This may be good for "normal" planes but for most 3D ships I like to see a predictable well-defined stall.
As for fitting the plane back into the "Suitcase" it came in, I was able to get mine to fit by using large Dubro hinges with the pins replaced by a long music wire master pin. I used this quick disconneting hinging system on both the ailerons and rudder. The use of Z bends or ball links allows the plane to be taken apart and reassembled without the need of a trim flight. The E-Z connectors have a very real repeatability problem and they are prone to vibrating loose. I only use them on non-flight critical controls.
The motor mount is a joke! I added a 6mm carbon rod to the center of what looked like a stick mount on the top part of the motor opening. I laminated some 0.5mm plywood to the sides of this balsa stick. This allows me to use the Corbi motor mounting plate or gearbox.
The fuselage has a slot the really weakens it to the point that this design flaw almost ruins this plane. It is a heck of a compromise of strength to make to allow the aileron to pass through. The use of disconnect hinging eliminates the need for this slot. I inserted carbon in between the top and bottom fuselage forming laminates (it is a profile fuse so it has no formers). And my last gripe is that all importers of ARFs should be required by law to supply the public with the same material that was used to cover the ARF (This is a big hint to Hobby Lobby). I will not purchase an ARF that I cannot repair for lack of proper covering material. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest rating I would give this ship a rating of 4
Konrad

This thread has some photos of the above issues.
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=412757
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Last edited by Konrad; Dec 30, 2005 at 07:39 PM.
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 10:32 AM
Registered User
Joined Sep 2004
52 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Konrad
Stefan,
I agree it is a fun plane but not great by today’s standard. First the thick airfoil will not let the wing stall very easily even with the CG farther back than 100mm (4 inches). This may be good for "normal" planes but for most 3d ships I like to see a predictable well-defined stall.
As for fitting the plane back into the "Suitcase" the plane came in, I was able to get mine to fit by using large Dubro hinges with the pins replaced by a long music wire master pin. I used this quick disconneting hinging system on both the ailerons and rudder. The use of Z bends or ball links allows the plane to be taken apart and reassembled without the need of a trim flight. The E-Z connectors have a very real repeatability problem and they are prone to vibrating loose. I only use them on non-flight critical controls.
The motor mount is a joke! I added a 6mm carbon rod to the center of what looked like a stick mount on the top part of the motor opening. I laminated some 0.5mm plywood to the sides of this balsa stick. This allows me to use the Corbi motor mounting plate or gearbox.
The fuselage has a slot the really weakens it to the point that this design flaw almost ruins this plane. It is a heck of a compromise of strength to make to allow the aileron to pass through. The use of disconnect hinging eliminates the need for this slot. I inserted carbon in between the top and bottom fuselage forming laminates (it is a profile fuse so it has no formers). And my last gripe is that all importers of ARFs should be required by law to supply the public with the same material that was used to cover the ARF (This is a big hint to Hobby Lobby). I will not purchase an ARF that I cannot repair for lack of proper covering material. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest rating I would give this ship a rating of 4
Konrad

This thread has some photos of the above issues.
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=412757
Konrad,
We all have our own opinions but I had no issue with achieving a predictable stall. As for the issues with the actual build of the plane I think our standards are far too high for arfs. For the value I think this plane is great...I mean honestly 80 dollars for a good electric arf is hard to come by. As for your ideas on the hinges I like it and may try it on mine. Also I agree that the fuselage looked weak but I have "dorked" the plane many times and never had an issue or even a crack. As for the motor mount it hasnt given me an issue yet and the only problem I havehad so far is having the motor mount screws that I supplied come loose. I am sorry that you were not as satisfied with this plane as I was.


Happy New Year
Stefan
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 03:29 PM
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Everett Wa.
Joined Jun 2001
5,925 Posts
Stefan,
I agree that the stall is a personal preference. I think I stated that I like a well defined (harder) stall and that a softer stall may be suitable for some. I have a problem with marketing slang. Hobby Lobby's ads implies (but does not state) that the plane will fit into a suitcase. It failed this requirement for being portable. I had to re-engineer mine to fit back into the carrying case (suitcase?) that the plane was sold in.
The supplied motor mount in my kit left the aft end of the mount unsupported. There is some support along the top and bottom but none at the aft end of the mount this just spans unsupported covering. In my opinion this is very poor design as any side load can easily over load the little purchase that the top and bottom of the mount provide.
I have and have seen many fuselage failures at the first lighting hole aft of the aileron slot. This is a stress riser that allows both the top and bottom stringers (profile formers) to buckle.
80 dollars for a good aircraft is a good price, ARF or otherwise. But this is not a good aircraft as there are many fatal or almost fatal design flaws. I do not like the idea of throwaway planes. It is a great concept for the marketing gurus as they can sell the same stuff over and over again. My harsh comments would be lessened if the importer would give us a means to repair the plane (i.e. the same type of covering that the plane was made with). Repair and maintenance is a critical part of what it takes to make an airplane great.
Yes I do have high standard for the money I spend. This plane looked good to me when I purchased it but it has not passed the test of time as the design flaws came to light early on and the inability of the vendor to supply recovering material became evident.
I have to admit there are very few ARFs that sell below $200 that I have been ecstatic about. I feel that we need to hold the vendors to a high standard; with a little more forethought this plane could have been a good plane. If it had a good mount from the start and if the manufacture would have spent the extra $1.50 for quick disconnect hinges. An extra $5 dollars at the retail side could have kept this from being a throw away plane. As for its flying characteristics I agree it is fun and in the end that is what this is about.
Konrad
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Last edited by Konrad; Dec 30, 2005 at 07:37 PM.
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 08:49 PM
ProBro Spaz
spastic's Avatar
Buffalo, NY
Joined Aug 2004
966 Posts
Stefan, nice job on the review
i would love to get you a sabre35 to compare the wings, that's not up to me though
Spaz
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 10:54 PM
Registered User
Joined Sep 2004
52 Posts
Spaz,
Thanks a lot, I am going to buy a sabre eventually and do a review on it. The suitcase wing is wayyy thick compared to what I hear about the sabre. Also in response to the whole suitcase ordeal, I agree I was dissapointed that it doesent fit back into the box. I originally thought it did when I inquired about it.

Stefan
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 10:57 PM
Registered User
Joined Sep 2004
52 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by aneximander
While I prefer to match my motors to my desired plane, in this case I have a
himax 2812-1080kv available and am hoping this plane will be a good match.
Any thoughts would be appreciated. BTW I thought the review was great!

The fly anywhere capability and great looks in tempting my mastercard out
of my wallet.
I dont have expierience withthe 2812 but I think it should work fine. Sorry for the delayed response.
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Old Dec 31, 2005, 12:18 AM
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aneximander's Avatar
Berkeley, Ca
Joined Nov 2003
13 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by srg123cohen
I dont have expierience withthe 2812 but I think it should work fine. Sorry for the delayed response.

Thanks for your response to my question Stefan, I wasn't looking for
anything overly technical, "It should work" is a thumbs up im my book.


Konrad:
Aneximander = Michael from Hamilton/Vultures.
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Old Dec 31, 2005, 09:18 PM
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Everett Wa.
Joined Jun 2001
5,925 Posts
Aneximander,
Your Himax will work very well with this plane, it is a ltttle heavier than what HL posts as the weight of the Axi 2208. From the sales data (not to be belived) an Axi weighs 46 grams and your Himax 2812 weighs 62 grams. As a reference my motor setup weighs 81 grams with an E-flight 370/5400 inrunner on a Cobri 7.6:1 grearbox (note the Cobri has an integral mount) with an APC 10 x 3.8 prop and prop adapter. Without the prop and adapter the mass is 63 grams. This setup pulls 9 plus amps

I'd like to ask Stefan: How did you bring out the aileron servo leads out of the wing?

Konrad
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Last edited by Konrad; Jan 02, 2006 at 06:47 PM. Reason: Change Corbi to Cobri & correct amp draw
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Old Dec 31, 2005, 09:54 PM
Registered User
Joined Sep 2004
52 Posts
I can post pictures if you would like but I simply used a soldering iron to open up the wholes that are beneathe the servo cut outs and routed the wire through there. I will post pictures soon.
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Old Dec 31, 2005, 10:46 PM
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Neil Morse's Avatar
San Francisco, CA, USA
Joined Jul 1999
6,100 Posts
Konrad:

The gearbox is a COBRI, not "Corbi." Sorry, just had to jump in here to give you a hard time. At least we go by our real names, right?

Neil
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Old Jan 01, 2006, 04:30 PM
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Everett Wa.
Joined Jun 2001
5,925 Posts
Hello Stefan,
As I picture your description, the servo leads span the inner third of the wing on the outside to reach the receiver. Is this correct?

Neil,
A rose by any other name name would still stink, uh smell as sweet. Thanks for the heads up. I'll edit the above to read Cobri.

As Dragnet said: The names were changed to protect the innocent (Guilty).

Happy New year,
Konrad
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Old Dec 24, 2006, 05:45 PM
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Joined Jul 2006
39 Posts
Would anyone know if a himax 2808-0980 motor be an ok motor for this plane?
Thanks, Jack
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