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Horizon Hobby's E-Flite Brand Brio 10 Pattern Electric ARF Review

Vic and Quinn Walton explore this 10-size electrified replica of Quique Somenzini's 2005 U.S. Nats-winning F3A plane. This bird is designed for artistic acrobatics as well as 3D flying, let's see how it does!

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:41"
Wing Area:325 sq. in.
Weight:33.2 oz.
Length:40"
Wing Loading:14.7 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:4
Transmitter:JR 6102 6-channel
Receiver:JR RS6UL Ultralight Rx
Battery:Thunder Power 15C 2100mAh 3-Cell 11.1V LIPO
Motor:E-flite Power 10 BL Outrunner
ESC:E-flite 40-amp Brushless ESC
Manufacturer:E-flite
Available From:Horizon Hobby

The E-flite Brio 10 is a nifty 40" aerobatic ARF with a great lineage, being the little brother of Quique Somenzini's 2005 U.S. Nats-winning F3A plane. With a low-aspect-ratio (that's design-speak for "stubby") wing and authoritative control surfaces, this plane is 3D-capable, but is happiest doing F3A-style artistic pattern aerobatics.

E-flite has two recommended configurations for this plane: the lighter setup intended for 3D (Park 480 Brushless, 1320 mAh Thunder Power battery) and the version we built, the "High Speed Precision" setup: Power 10 motor w/ a 2100 mAh battery. This configuration gives the plane stump-pulling (well, sapling-pulling) power, with vertical acceleration at 1/2 throttle. It's a snappy performer and quite the head-turner -- even the Grizzled Glow Veterans at your field (you know, the guys who use glow fuel as an after-shave) are going to come over to check out this little gem.

Kit Contents

Kit includes:

  • interlocking light ply fuselage
  • tinted, snap-on canopy
  • Carbon-fiber wing tube
  • Aluminum landing gear
  • Fiberglass cowl and wheelpants
  • All hardware

Kit requires:

  • 4 sub-micro servos (E-Flite S75 or equivalent)
  • 5 channel receiver (or 4-channel with a Y-harness)
  • 40-amp ESC
  • Park 480 (or Power 10) brushless motor
  • 1320 mAh (or 2100 mAh) 3-cell lipo battery

Removing the protective wraps from each piece, we were surprised over and over with the exceptional build quality of this bird. You can see in the photos that this plane is impressive on the outside, but it is just as impressive under the skin. It is not an expensive airplane, so we were prepared for compromises in the build. None were to be found.

The fuse is made of interlocking light ply and is extremely strong and light. A tinted snap-on canopy (which doubles as a handy speed brake when it snaps off during takeoff -- oops! More on that later) covers a very spacious interior with tons of room for electronics. E-flite hit this one out of the park.

But enough drooling over the pieces; it's time to put them all in the right order and make us an airplane.

Assembly

This is as straight-forward an ARF build as we could have asked for. The instructions are almost idiot-proof, perfect for those of us who are almost idiots. The pieces fit with no serious modifications necessary; the 5-6 hour build time mentioned in the manual is actually about right.

The main problem we had was that the instructions call for the use of 6-minute epoxy and all we had was 5-minute. But with the bold daring that RC modelers are known for, we threw caution to the winds and used the 5-minute. (The notion that we make the 5-minute epoxy into 6-minute by putting the airplane into the refrigerator whenever we glued something was abandoned when we were unable to find a refrigerator big enough.)

I won't bore you with every step of the build; 99.9% of it was clear, easy, and flawless. Covered here are simply some points worth noting, or mild bumps we hit in the road.

So many niceties -- like, the landing gear attaches with hex screws into offset holes that only allow you to put them in the right way. As for the wheel pants, we think they look great but are likely to come off at unexpected moments in our long grass -- not unlike my grandfather's, but that's another story. You will notice some of our photos have the pants off; this is our day-to-day flying style. We put the pants on only on Sundays.

Wing

We attached the ailerons with the usual CA hinges, taking care to get as narrow a gap as we could without sacrificing throw. This is always a tricky balance to strike; we were careful to get the maximum throw we could but without flutter-inducing gaps.

After attaching the ailerons, we slid the wing over the carbon-fiber rod that runs through the fuse and attached them with small screws inside the fuse. It's a very strong mounting method that allows for easy removal of the wing for transportation or repair. We considered putting a small piece of carbon fiber cloth under these screws for strength, but then realized if we took a good whack on the wing -- which would we rather have happen, the screw pop through the fuse or the wing crack? We decided to trust the manufacturer and left the carbon fiber off.

Tail Braces are NOT optional

The vertical stab is part of the fuselage, so all we had to do was to attach the rudder, slide the horizontal stab into place and glue it, and attach the elevator. We were a little confused when the instructions said to attach the four carbon-fiber support rods to the underside of the horizontal stab "as shown." The smallish photo had so little detail the instructions might just as well have said to attach the rods "somehow." But a tech in the support department at E-flite confirmed that the rods are critical for performance (flutter is for the birds), so we just cut into the Ultracote covering to get to the structure underneath.

The fuselage in this area is slab balsa, so we just drilled small holes, stuck the rods through, and secured them with our 5-minute; the stab, however, is built up, and it was kind of tricky to slice through the Ultracote in the right spot to get the support rods in contact with balsa and not just stuck through the covering, yet also straight and parallel. A small inconvenience at worst.

Radio Installation

Radio and servo installation is straightforward. The only gotcha we ran across was the placement of the rudder servo. The instructions say that if you are using a relatively heavy motor such as our Power 10, counter the weight in the nose by placing the rudder servo in the tail. There is a cutout in the fuselage provided for this purpose, but it is directly across from the elevator servo. The two E-flite S-75 servos wouldn't fit back-to-back in the space provided without modification. Well dang. In retrospect, it would've been best to shim the second servo and keep it mounted in the tail, avoiding the CG issue we later encountered.

Okay, we decided to mount the elevator servo in the other space provided in the center of the fuse, and use the pull-pull system. It's only 7.5 grams so it can't make a huge difference, right? and we liked this solution better than a) making our own mounting hole in the tail in some other location, or b) gluing the rudder to a permanent right-hand turn and converting the plane to control line.

Motor Installation

This installation is REALLY straightforward and easy.

There is only one way you can do this wrong. We know, because we found it. Even though the instructions make no mention of Loctite (grossly overestimating our intelligence) do not forget this critical and obvious step: put Blue Loctite on all motor mount screws. You do not want to land after your maiden and find three motor mount screws gone and the fourth hanging on by 2 threads!

We did have a problem with the prop adapter; apparently the collet was machined wrong, as it wouldn't tighten down on the prop -- the collet would slide completely past the shoulder of the prop adapter, leaving the prop tight against the adapter and the collet sliding loose, with nothing to cinch the prop adapter to the motor shaft. A call to Horizon got a new prop adapter to us within a few days and we were in business.

CG

Setting the center of gravity required a departure from the plans. The Power 10 is a big motor, and with the Thunder Power 2100 mAh battery in the suggested position in front of the wing tube, we were faced with a CG about 1/2" ahead of the manufacturer's recommended forward limit. We were wishing we could have that 7.5 gram rudder servo back in the tail!

We chose to fly it with the battery in the forward location and see how the model performed before adding balast or moving the battery behind the wing tube to shift the CG. In our flight tests, we found our personal preference was for the CG at this more forward location, with the battery in the designed location, putting us at 1/2" forward of the manufacturer's given range.

The model was admittedly less "neutral" and less "snappy" at the more forward CG, but it was also a bit more forgiving of any overcontrolling or other mistakes made. It required more up elevator to land than a traditional pattern ship might, but we preferred the increased stability in its overall feel.

Flying

Basics

The Brio flies like a much bigger plane. It tracks straight and true, is big enough to see in the pattern at a glow field, and has absolutely no irritating tendencies. The Power 10 yanks it around with supreme authority: vertical climbs at 1/3 throttle anyone? In fact, full throttle with this setup is just crazy, so we kept it at 1/2 or below and were happy in the knowledge that we were in no danger of overstressing the battery or ESC. We haven't pushed the flight times yet but expect around 12-15 minutes. Our throws were set to the high rates that the manual suggests (7/8" ailerons, 2" elevator, 2 1/2" rudder) with 60% exponential. If your transmitter doesn't support exponential rates, it would be wise to begin with low rates (7/16" ailerons, 7/8" elevator, 1 1/2" rudder) and work your way up from there.

Taking Off and Landing

We rolled on the throttle smoothly, and fed in right rudder to keep it straight for the very short takeoff run. We thought the ground handling might be touchy (she has no tail wheel), but the plane is light enough that the prop wash over the rudder steers it just fine....as long as you are paying attention. Although we never tried it, with this plane's power and light weight, you should be able to hand-launch it underhanded like a foamy with no trouble.

With the more aft stock CG setting, the Brio was less forgiving, and we had a few pretty serious stalls as we were approaching, two of which ended roughly. (The manufacturer recommended we carry a little bit of throttle all the way to the ground.) As with any aerobat, we advise a few fairly high passes at low speed to acquaint you with its stall tendencies before you bring it in. When we moved the CG forward 1/2" again, we found it much more forgiving, and she glided in without any over-reaction to the elevator inputs, landing much more smoothly.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

This is a thrilling pattern plane. This little plane way out-flies its size and could easily be a mainstay in any pattern aerobatic pilot's farm -- even a glow pilot's hangar.

Snaps and rolls are VERY precise and predictable, and it flies large loops and slow rolls like its big brother, the F3A champ. Knife-edge is spot on with almost no coupling.

For overall flight, we preferred the more forward CG of the stock battery placement with our forward mounted servo. However, even when we moved the CG back that 1/2", the Brio was a little too nose-heavy for flying inverted hands off -- it required about 1/4 down elevator to maintain level flight.

We haven't tried any 3D maneuvers yet, partially because we were having too much fun with larger aerobatics, and partially because we felt the Power 10 and 2100 battery makes it too heavy a setup for 3D. The manufacturer has clear recommendations of a different power setup for 3D performance.

The weight helped us with the gusty conditions that we have had at our flying site lately, but it made stalls a little trickier.

Is This For a Beginner?

No. Absolutely not. This is not a trainer by any stretch of the imagination. Could it be a second plane? No. A first low wing? I guess, perhaps, if you dial down the throws and have built up a ton of confidence on your trainer. Anyone considering this model with the word 'trainer' involved, this is the wrong model.

But it would be great for a modeler expanding into precision aerobatics after their trainer and their first low-wing model have been happily retired. This isn't a park flyer either, unless by "park" you're thinking of a National Park. This is a patternesque model, and is designed to fly big maneuvers in a big sky. It really requires a true flying field to fly.

Durability

Our canopy magnet was a problem and required replacement, with the canopy popping up unexpectedly in flight. The new magnet held wonderfully without further incident.

Every flight was a complete success -- well, except that one flight, the one that ended in a slightly imperfect landing, a bit of an oops, oh, ok, alright, so it was a minor crash(!) We knew we were pushing the limits to fly in such gusty winds, and fell victim to either an unfortunate gust, a touch of overcontrolling at the more aft CG, or a sudden burst of gravity as we were landing. However embarrassing and scary, we did learn how durable this little sucker is. Managing to find the only piece of hard dirt within a half-mile, we hit it hard in a full stall from about 15 feet up, wings level. Incredibly, the only damage was to the landing gear, which bent almost flat, absorbing all of the shock. The plane was completely undamaged and the gear easily fixed.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

We've had a blast with this plane. The build had a few mild quirks but nothing that couldn't be worked out, and the flying was fantastic. We were even "lucky" enough to test its durability with a low-level smackdown into hard dirt, and it suffered nothing worse than flat feet. With its striking looks and spirited, precision performace, it could make even your local Grizzled Glow Veterans aerobatic pilots start asking questions about amps and watts. And any pattern pilot, or sport pilot interested in adding a bit of precision to their flying, will surely enjoy this great looking, great flying pattern bird!

Last edited by AMCross; Aug 17, 2006 at 02:07 PM..

Discussion

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Old Aug 11, 2006, 08:57 AM
Registered User
down_shift's Avatar
United States, VA, Leesburg
Joined Feb 2003
2,472 Posts
The Brio is a fun plane. It flies just like a larger 60-size with a 4-stroke! When using the Power 10, cut 10mm off two of the plastic motor stand offs, 9mm of one, and 11mm off the last remaining. Also cut the bolts down to size so only 1 thread is remaining beyond the nut.

This will solve the CG issue and give the small downright thrust necessary for this plane.
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Old Aug 11, 2006, 12:04 PM
o___O
NY
Joined Sep 2004
629 Posts
great review
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Old Aug 11, 2006, 06:55 PM
iWeasel
jludwick's Avatar
Santa Barbara, CA
Joined Feb 2005
1,096 Posts
Great job Vic! That's pretty precise advice given in the first response. Sounds like he's been there, done that.
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Old Aug 11, 2006, 07:18 PM
Vic and Quinn Walton
rc2xs's Avatar
Santa Barbara CA
Joined Jan 2006
590 Posts
Thanks Jon but don't forget Quinn - he did most of the work!!

I'll have to think about the downthrust idea. It's the first I've heard of doing that. I'm perhaps a little concerned that if I have 3 standoffs one length and one shorter, I'm going to twist the mounting plate, which may in turn put torque on the motor housing.
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Old Aug 11, 2006, 08:33 PM
Registered User
down_shift's Avatar
United States, VA, Leesburg
Joined Feb 2003
2,472 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by vwalton
I'll have to think about the downthrust idea. It's the first I've heard of doing that. I'm perhaps a little concerned that if I have 3 standoffs one length and one shorter, I'm going to twist the mounting plate, which may in turn put torque on the motor housing.
One 9mm shorter, two 10mm shorter, and one 11 mm shorter. No twist. The shortest standoff on the bottom left (when viewing the firewall and looking to the tail) and the longest on the top right.

Vertical uplines and downlines are straight w/ no rudder correction req'd.
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Old Aug 11, 2006, 09:21 PM
Vic and Quinn Walton
rc2xs's Avatar
Santa Barbara CA
Joined Jan 2006
590 Posts
Oh, sorry, I didn't read that all the way through. Interesting.
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Old Aug 13, 2006, 12:29 AM
BOSS
j_z_123's Avatar
New Jersey (excl EWR), United States
Joined Apr 2002
4,984 Posts
Can you share with us the propeller you're using?

Thanks!

Jon
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Old Aug 13, 2006, 02:00 PM
Vic and Quinn Walton
rc2xs's Avatar
Santa Barbara CA
Joined Jan 2006
590 Posts
we started out with an 11x7E but decided it drew too many amps so we moved down to an 11X5.5E prop which turned out to be the best choice.
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Old Aug 13, 2006, 04:29 PM
Registered User
Sebastopol, CA, USA
Joined Dec 1996
541 Posts
Terrific writing!

This is everything a review should be, and additionally, is written deftly with just the right touch of humor. A+ from this retired professor!
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Old Aug 13, 2006, 05:29 PM
Vic and Quinn Walton
rc2xs's Avatar
Santa Barbara CA
Joined Jan 2006
590 Posts
Thanks! It was a fun project and a fun review.

-Vic and Quinn Walton
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Old Aug 14, 2006, 09:15 AM
Fun Manager
AMCross's Avatar
Villa Grove, Illinois
Joined May 2000
1,695 Posts
OOPS! Article moved to the proper forum, sorry for the 'oops' there, guys...enjoy!
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Old Aug 17, 2006, 12:37 PM
Boffin
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Victoria, BC, Canada
Joined Apr 2001
3,397 Posts
The video links are broken now though.
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Old Aug 17, 2006, 02:51 PM
Fun Manager
AMCross's Avatar
Villa Grove, Illinois
Joined May 2000
1,695 Posts
sorry guys, dont know why. i've asked tech support to look into it.
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Old Aug 17, 2006, 02:58 PM
AMA 148796
Where it Rains
Joined Jul 2002
1,058 Posts
Nicely done review. I had one (lost it in a too slow low turn). But went ahead and bought another. Mine was (will be) powered by a A30-16M.

Just remember to keep the speed up in the turns!!!

Ken
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