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Horizon Hobby's E-Flite Mini Edge 540 ARF Review

Steve Horney has a great time with this great looking, great flying balsa built up ARF!

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Introduction


Wingspan:37.25"
Wing Area:297 sq. in.
Weight:25.6 oz.
Length:34"
Wing Loading:12.4 oz/sq. ft.
Max Current:19.5 Amps
Voltage @ Max Current:10.1 Volts
Max Power:197 Watts
Max RPM:4900 rpm
Power Loading:123 watts/lb
Servos:4 E-flite S75 Sub-Micro
Transmitter:Multiplex Cockpit
Receiver:JR RS6UL 6-Channel FM Micro
Battery:E-flite 2100 mAh 3-cell Li-Poly (11.1V)
Motor:E-flite Park 400, 4200Kv
Gearbox:Included 6.6:1 gearbox
ESC:Aveox SL-18 brushless/sensorless
Propeller:12x6 Slowflyer
Manufacturer:E-flite
Available From:Horizon Hobby

The E-flite Mini Edge 540 3D, marketed by Horizon Hobby, is a scaled down version of the 33% Hangar 9 Edge 540. This miniature version of the larger aerobat is designed to exhibit similar extreme 3D performance in a light, small electric package. A light-weight built-up mid-wing design, coupled with a very potent (recommended) geared brushless power system, yields a very high power-to-weight ratio and neutral aerodynamic balance for exceptional performance. You don't even need to be a 3D fanatic to enjoy this hot-rod; toning down the control surface throws and keeping the CG on the forward side results in a nice-flying precision aerobat for "mellower" tastes.

Aside from the performance potential, this is truly an enjoyable ARF to assemble. E-flite has a very well thought-out "kit" in the Edge 540, with a number of clever touches and a well-written manual that simplifies assembly. I had the Edge 540 together in just a few relaxed evenings.

Kit Contents

Required Items:

  • radio system with 4 sub-micro servos
  • 12" extension for elevator
  • 2, 6" extension for ailerons
  • 20A brushless ESC
  • 400 brushless motor
  • 3C lipo 11.1v 2100mah

E-Flite did an outstanding job of easing assembly.

Some of the highlights:

  • The hatch's forward dowel and the spring loaded retainer installed,
  • the cross-tube wing spar support in the fuselage was already in place,
  • holes were pre-drilled,
  • slots were pre-cut.

Assembly

Assembly began with the landing gear - a logical place to start, in that beginning with a simple task like this encourages reticent builders to jump right in! As an added bonus, the fuselage looks better on wheels. :) The Edge 540 main gear is carbon; I'm not sure about the tail skid, but I suspect it's a tough plastic.

Wing Assembly Highlights

  • Pre-slotted for hinges
  • Servo screw holes pre-drilled
  • Servo bays already micro servo sized (had to adjust slightly to fit my S75s)
  • Rib lightning holes made running extensions easy
  • Ailerons pre-slotted for control horns (I chose to use thin CA instead of epoxy for the tight fit)
  • Pushrods arrived pre-bent and cut to length.
  • Micro control connecters provided -- my favorite way to install a pushrod - it's fast, easy, and allows simple adjustment of the control surface in relation to the aileron arm!
  • Carbon wing tubes
  • Fiberglass wing socket pre-installed in the fuselage.

Wing installation to the fuselage was about as easy and robust as I've seen in any kit.

Fuselage

The fuselage arrives pre-built, and other than attaching flying surfaces, canopy, landing gear, radio gear, and power system, there really isn't anything to do! Having the hatch pre-built, with the forward locating dowel and aft spring in place was a welcome feature.

Tail Highlights

  • Rudder Pull-Pull with all hardware provided!
  • Traditional rudder mounting option provided for.
  • Elevator servo mounted aft, on fuse side, for short crisp control.
  • Looped bars attach the cables to micro connectors -- great idea!!

Tail surface attachment was more or less "ARF standard". The fuselage arrived pre-slotted for the stabilizer and vertical fin. I had to remove the covering in the glue areas.

The elevator servo was located on the side of the fuselage just ahead of the stabilizer, allowing a short, direct linkage to the elevator control horn. Rudder control assembly is a little different; the rudder servo is located forward in the fuselage, with a pull-pull cable system actuating the rudder. An option is provided for installing a servo on the side of the fuselage near the rudder with a direct pushrod link, but with the light motor system provided, the pull-pull setup provides a better weight distribution (in other words, a servo in the rear would make the plane tail-heavy).

The rudder cables were easy to string and adjust; a simple crimp on a small copper tube locks the cables together, while a drop of CA adds extra insurance. As a side note, don't be alarmed to see the cables crossing within the fuselage; the system is designed that way. I thought the looped bars used to attach the cables to the micro-connectors in the servo arms were a great idea - it's much easier to setup and adjust this cable system than others I've used where the cables went directly through the servo connectors.

Power System

The E-flite 2100 mAh 3-cell Li-Poly battery packs were utilized. One nice feature of this pack is the separate charge leads with a charge-protection circuit that helps prevent over-charging/mischarging of the battery with the attendant consequences. I did not use this feature, since I didn't have mating connectors on hand and my charger has proven quite reliable in the past, but I still think it's an excellent idea.

I used an Aveox SL-18 brushless/sensorless speed control in my Edge 540 to control the flow of power to the Park400 motor. This is an excellent, light BEC controller capable of handling 40 amps (well above my expected current levels) and designed for 6 - 12 NiCadís. The 11.1 V Li-Poly pack fits within that voltage range. It should be noted that this controller is designed for NiCad and NiMH cells, so the motor cutoff is lower than would be appropriate to Li-Poly cells. Therefore, the power needs to be cut and the plane landed before the esc cutoff kicks in.

The Park 400 brushless motor provided for this review is designed to be mated to the gearbox and prop provided in the kit. Pinions for the gearbox are included with both the motor and the gearbox. I used the 10T pinion provided with the gearbox, since that was recommended. I needed to press the pinion on to the shaft, an easy task but one which required the use of a vise and a block to protect the rear of the motor and shaft.

Ok - I was wrong. There is one fuselage item that needs assembly: the motor support stick and its two support braces.

Radio Installation

Servo installation has already been detailed, but here's a close-up shot of the S-75 micro servos used in this review. These light (0.28 oz), small (.9 x .45 x .94 in) servos are relatively powerful for their size (17.2 in-oz of torque at 4.8V), and come with a nice selection of servo arms. They seemed to center well and operate smoothly with my system.

JR's Sport RS6UL Ultra-lite FM receiver is quite a piece of engineering, offering 6 channels and full operating range in a 7 gram package that measures 1.38 x.75 x .50 inches. JR claims this receiver possesses superior interference-fighting technology; hopefully I won't have to test that claim!

The esc, receiver, and battery are installed as far forward as practical, while still maintaining easy access. I found my CG location was "just right" with the gear located as shown in the image below (all components are held in place by self-adhesive hook and loop fastener material, included in the kit).

Completion

Completion of the Edge 540 at this point required securing the canopy to the hatch, installing the cowl, prop, spinner, and checking the center of gravity (CG) and control surface throws. Canopy glue is recommended for the canopy installation, but I deviated from this a bit and taped the canopy in place. Cowl installation was relatively straight-forward, requiring alignment of the cowl with the fuselage and the motor shaft, then installing screws in the fuselage tabs just forward of the firewall. This part required a bit of care when trying to determine where to drill the holes; I ended up missing a tab with one hole I drilled. The openness of the front of the cowl really helped in determining tab alignment.

The 12x6 slow-flyer prop slipped on the prop shaft, and keyed into the output gear. The base of the spinner installed against the front of the prop, and a nut held it all together. The forward part of the spinner just snapped in place over the base.

My checks showed almost 125 watts/lb and nearly 5000 rpm from the prop; quite a formidable power level in a plane this small!

When all is said and done, the Mini Edge 540 turns out to be a stunningly beautiful flying machine! Here's where I really appreciate an ARF like this - I rarely have the patience to trim a plane as nicely as has been done on the Edge 540.

Flying

We got hit with a good dose of winter just as I finished the airplane, but a couple of weeks later we were blessed with some pretty days that allowed us (my son and I) to get a little airtime.

Basics

The Mini Edge 540 is designed as a hot aerobatic/3D performer, so don't expect trainer-type flying, but if you have some experienced thumbs you'll find the Mini Edge 540 will really let you tear up the sky (and its small size will allow you to keep the action in close as well). On my initial outing, I set the control throws to the lowest recommended settings, but the ailerons were still quite sensitive; I found the elevator and rudder sensitivity to be about right for my tastes at this setting. After "fluttering about" quite a bit, I took the plane home, dialed in 50% exponential into the ailerons, and headed out the next day with my son. What a difference! I felt right at home on that second flight. This is one sweet handling airplane, with performance to spare. It's a true go-where-you-point-it plane (mine is set up with the CG towards the front of the recommended range for more of a precision aerobatic feel), exhibiting neutral handling and precise maneuverability.

With the substantial power available from the Park 400 motor, I rarely flew at even half throttle. Full throttle was used only a few times for some vertical maneuvers. The 12x6 prop kept speed down but thrust high, just right for slow speed maneuvering and rapid acceleration. Stalls are a non-event - the nose just lowers and the plane resumes flying. Actually, the Mini Edge 540 is fairly tough to stall - I was able to put it through a number of slow speed, high angle of attack maneuvers without a hint of stall/snap problems. You can loaf the plane around, throw it into some weird maneuver, then hit the throttle and it will immediately pull out of it.

Taking Off and Landing

The Mini Edge 540 takes off quickly and uneventfully with just part throttle. My landings so far have been less than graceful, but that's been my fault, not the plane's. With a very low wing loading and a bit of frontal area, the Mini Edge 540 slows quickly and floats down gently.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Aerobatics and 3D maneuvers are this plane's forte, and it will perform such maneuvers with ease. My son and I had a blast performing loops, rolls, inverted flight, knife edge, snaps, lomcevaks, and vertical rolling maneuvers. Plenty of power and plenty of maneuverability characterize the flight performance of the Mini Edge 540. We noted the very crisp response - hit the ailerons for a fast roll, then release the stick and the Mini Edge stops immediately. Maneuvers can be executed very smoothly. If you're into hard core 3D flying, you can move the CG aft and up the throws for a wilder ride.

Is This For a Beginner?

No, but properly set up the Mini Edge 540 can be easily flown by anyone with low-wing competence. The Mini Edge 540 3D would make a great 3rd or 4th airplane, and provide a good way to advance aerobatic skills.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

E-flite's Mini Edge 540 3D is a beautiful, well thought-out aerobat that builds very quickly and provides stunning flight performance. If you're in the market for a great aerobatic ship in a compact, go-anywhere size, the E-flite Mini Edge 540 3D would be well worth your consideration.

Discussion

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Old Feb 09, 2006, 12:06 PM
Registered User
Canada's East Coast, "An Ocean Playground"
Joined Apr 2002
4,169 Posts
good review Steve ...three things..
1. the looped rods for the pull-pull are known as "cotter-pins"..
2. triangle braces on the motor stick are recommended ..
3. the video link would not work for me ..

Overall, E-Flite seems to really have their act together and has certainly "raised the bar" with all their recently announced products....including the S75 servo and the new line of foam warbirds..

Bill
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Old Feb 09, 2006, 03:56 PM
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Ken Myers's Avatar
Commerce Township, MI
Joined Aug 2001
4,252 Posts
Excellent Review Steve! Gave me all the info I wanted to know about this plane.
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Old Feb 09, 2006, 08:53 PM
WAR EAGLE
callen's Avatar
Parrish Fl
Joined Apr 2004
1,856 Posts
Gear boxes suck. The S 75 servo leads will not make it out of the wing requiring two extensions for each servo unless you want to be plugging it in and out of the receiver all the time, which is hard to do and gives wear and tear on the leads. HiTec hs 55 or 56 is the better servo. Hard to get batteries in and out of box unless you have the perfect size. My covering was not tight in many places and was hard to shrink up incicating it had already been hammered. Otherwise moving on with the building. Review should have tried several engines. I think all reviews are self serving and I have never read a bad one. You guys might point out one or two minor flaws but then if you told the truth about models you would never do another review.
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 04:01 AM
Chillaxin dude!
BulletMaster's Avatar
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Joined Apr 2003
4,758 Posts
Covering was loose..wing panel had a twist. Great looking plane, but won't fly with power off - falls out of the sky. Gearbox is crap....do yourself a favour and fit a cobri unit. Have used a 2025 - 4700KV motor and 6.3:1 GB 11x4.5 prop....loads of grunt.
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 04:01 AM
Chillaxin dude!
BulletMaster's Avatar
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Joined Apr 2003
4,758 Posts
but the review was well written and informative
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 11:22 AM
Flyin' Fool
Marion, Iowa
Joined Jan 2006
6 Posts
E-Flight Mini Edge 540 ARF review

I purchased one of the first Edge 540's available. I hooked it up with the recommended Brushless Speed 400 motor and used a Castle-Creations 25 Amp Speed controller and the Thunder-Power 2100 mAh 3 Cell Li-Po pack to power the plane.

I too used the pull-pull rudder system to save weight and keep the balance as far forward as possible.

Even with the battery all the way forward, I've found that it is a touch on the unstable side with the balance point within tolerance but aft of the center range. I committed a sacrelage of applying some lead weight on the front of the airplane - something I've rarely had to do with an electric plane! Still, the motor drive system has plenty of power to provide a respectable hover.

I found the recommended throws to be somewhat high as well. 50% Expo calmed the airplane down, and makes flights very pleasant indeed, but I can still snap on a dime and do some very impressive aerobatics when I want to.

I notice that the article did not show the two triangle braces they've recommended adding to the motor stick. I highly recommend that you put some 1/8" lite ply braces on either side of the motor stick to support the assembly and help prevent snap-off of the motor stick during those less-than-perfect landings.

The plane has a little tendency to "balloon" when throttle is removed, probably a side-effect of the aft balance point. I keep a little throttle on when coming in for a landing and this helps me grease it in every time.

The Realflight simulator's stock Edge 540 also exhibits this tendency and flying this model on the simulator helped prepare me for the real thing.

The wings tend to bend a little bit when stressed - I consider this a little bit of a plus as it helps provide a some more stability on those hi-gee maneuvers. The construction is extremely light and strong, I doubt I could build this light!

The finish is gorgeous, and I'm hoping to keep it in my collection for some time to come. The fact that is electric means that I don't have to clean it up every time I fly, and I can throw it in the truck completely assembled. The quick release hatch is also a plus to get access to the battery right away, and it cleanly snaps in place for a secure mount.

I haven't had much of an issue with the gearbox - I put some Lite lube on the gears before I put the cowling on - it helps reduce the noise of the gears.

E-Flight has a winner on their hands!

Happy Flying,

Don Rosendale
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Old Feb 16, 2006, 08:58 PM
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Steven Horney's Avatar
Joined Jan 1999
419 Posts
Thanks for all the comments.

DRosend44: You don't see braces in the photo because I don't have them on my plane. I think the brace comment was added by the editor (possibly Horizon has them on versions of the plane newer than mine). I double checked my instructions again, and braces aren't mentioned. So far the motor mount seems pretty robust. I did not have to add weights to my plane, but the CG just barely came out right; slight changes in another model could easily alter the CG a bit and require the addition of nose weight.

The gearbox does seem a little light for an aerobat, but mine is holding up well so far. I did lube the gears with some teflon grease.

Callen: I did not have the covering problems you had. Mine was nicely covered, and tight when it arrived. I have no complaints about the servos; I used them because they were supplied with the review, but I find them to be very good servos (certainly comparable to my HS-55's, and maybe better in this installation). This plane is small enough that I don't take it apart, so using one extension per servo and plugging directly into the receiver works well for me. Reviewing the plane with a number of motors really isn't necessary; compare the watts/lb and lb/sq. in. of other setups, and you'll be able to predict the performance potential of nearly any other power system.

A very fun plane to fly, and a nice package size. I'm looking forward to some good flying weather to wring it out a bit more.
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Old Sep 04, 2006, 11:34 PM
From Earth to the Moon!
albireo's Avatar
Sacramento, Ca.
Joined Jul 2003
1,518 Posts
Any ideas how I can use an outrunner like an A20-20L with the cowling? I put it on, but the cowling was not centered using any of the Cobri type motor mounts, and the shaft is nowhere near long enought to get the spinner on.
Anyone??
Joe
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Old Sep 05, 2006, 09:19 AM
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Canada's East Coast, "An Ocean Playground"
Joined Apr 2002
4,169 Posts
something like this...

Bill
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Old Feb 16, 2007, 06:10 AM
Registered User
Joined Feb 2007
51 Posts
I just bought one of these, Mine is in exelent condition in the box. But im gonna hang a os fp.10 on the front. Instead of electric. I allready got the .10 .The lipo battery cost all most more then the plane. So fp.10 here I come. Wonder if its enough power for it, or should I put on a .15 plus i can get 20 minutes of flight time on 4oz of fuel, I won't have to wait 20 min to charge eather.Refuel and fly!
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Old Feb 16, 2007, 07:37 AM
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Steven Horney's Avatar
Joined Jan 1999
419 Posts
An OS .10 FP should be plenty of power. This is a fairly small plane. Have fun!
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Old Feb 16, 2007, 09:11 AM
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Joined Feb 2007
51 Posts
Thanks for the answer steve. I will, and Ile let you know how it works out
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Old Apr 17, 2007, 09:56 AM
Lower, Lower
bc-slowflyer's Avatar
Penticton,BC, Canada
Joined Feb 2004
1,419 Posts
The Mini Edge and E-Flite 480-1020 outrunner are on sale right now as a combo at Horizon for $84.99
http://www.horizonhobby.com/Products...D=EFL2225COMBO
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Old Apr 17, 2007, 10:42 AM
Registered User
Canada's East Coast, "An Ocean Playground"
Joined Apr 2002
4,169 Posts
Yup, that sale has been on for over a month now, someone must of opened a warehouse and discovered a thousand mini Edge arf's.
Sign of the times I guess, every month several new arf's come out, market gets flooded, price comes down, consumer smiles get wider..!

Bill
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