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Model Airplane Engineering's Dixie Delta ARF Review -- a rudder'd flying wing!

Peter Sussman explores the latest unique release from M-A-E, the Dixie delta flying wing with Rudder. Wait, what did I just say? YEP! Rudder'd flying wing....

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Introduction

What a good looking plane! I added a stripe for orientation (before carbon fiber nose reinforcement and servos).
What a good looking plane! I added a stripe for orientation (before carbon fiber nose reinforcement and servos).
Wingspan:22"
Wing Area:172 sq in
Weight:4.5 to 5.0 ounces
Length:16.25”
Wing Loading:3.85 oz/sq ft
Servos:3x Bluebird BMS-306
Transmitter:Futaba with elevon mixing
Receiver:Castle Creations Berg 4l
Battery:2S 700 and 3s 450Mah
Motor:CD-ROM, Westport 17T "Madness" or 15T "Stealth"
ESC:Castle Creations Thunderbird-9
Made By and Available From: M-A-E

In general there has always been a gap between those who pilot traditional airplanes and those who pilot flying wings. With the Dixie Delta from M-A-E this may have to change! By adding a large, functional rudder surface and building techniques of a Flat profile foamy, the Dixie Delta is capable of great aerobatics. Anyone who enjoys flying in general will love the aerobatic capability of the Dixie Delta.

Kit Contents

Contains:

  • Gray and White CNC Router cut depron parts
  • laser cut ply horns, etc
  • integrated motor mount
  • music wire pushrods
  • Instruction manual
  • misc. other parts

Requires:

  • Motor -- such as brushless CDROM motors
  • Sub-Micro servos, 3
  • ESC, such as the Castle Creations Phoenix 10 or Thunderbird 9
  • Lipo pack and charger, such as Etec 700-2S or 450-3S or 700-3S
  • Finishing scheme of modeler's own design (not required)

Each part was carefully taped together using what appears to be a low stick painter’s tape, and was easy to remove once the kit is unpacked. This keeps the parts snug and prevents any rash from shipping. I was surprised by how few parts there really were to the kit. This makes for a quick, easy and enjoyable build.

The instructions with the kit are detailed and the online pictures are unmatched! The Glue provided was UHU brand Creativ and works extremely well as contact cement on the depron pieces (this can be ordered with your kit).

Assembly

Two Great Little gems -- motor choices

The original motor that was used and supplied with the kit was the Westport 17 turn "Madness" motor. The little delta performed well with it. It is a great choice for the park and cleaner cut maneuvers.

I then got a message from Randy at M-A-E telling me about the new 15 turn "stealth" motor which will be another choice (at purchase) to fly this model. Be ready to turn the power on! This is one torquey little motor! Sized identical to the Westport, these 2 are both about the best fit for this model that I could think of... they fit so snuggly in the nose cutout! For more power the 15 turn motor is a great choice! You can run these motors on a two cell, swinging a larger prop and a three cell with a smaller prop. After testing, I personally preferred the 2C.

With either choice, be extra careful not to get any left thrust accidentally built into your motor mounting!

Be sure your model is balanced laterally - placing components on opposite sides, and checking for a good balance. Proper lateral balance (left-to-right) is as important as "CG" balance, especially on an aerobatic model such as this.

Follow the pictures and captions for a quick summary of the build.

The elevons and rudder were attached (quickly thanks to the wonderful pre-beveled surfaces) using Scotch brand gift wrapping tape. This is perfect for hinge use and stands up to the test of time.

There were nice laser cut aircraft light ply control horns included for the surfaces.

NOTE: Be careful to put even pressure on the ply control horn while inserting the control wire as not to crack the wood. The extra horn (provided) proved useful.

After this is done, I still had to attach the plywood skid on the underbelly and glue the motor into place. RC-56 canopy glue is recommended for the motor installation, and does a great job of making a "flexible" joint.

Completion

Don’t forget to add the wooden skid to the bottom for strength….and it’s ready!

Now that was easy! From start to finish The Dixie Delta went together in about an hour and a half (interrupted by picture taking and glue drying.) I added a red stripe down one of the wings for orientation. Go ahead and dress your Dixie delta up but don’t add too much weight. We want to keep this a nimble aerobat!

Flying

The Dixie has relatively stable slow flight and very good fast flight capability.

Taking Off and Landing

Take offs are highlighted in the manual, to avoid common mistakes like 'heaving' the model into the air. It states that a light underhand toss (at 30-40 degrees) at 3/4 power is sufficient to get the little wing in the air... and it sure is!

NOTE: With such an effective rudder, don’t even think of getting your hand near that stick during takeoff! Once airborne, the controls are responsive and the airplane has a crisp feeling to it. Landings are best done with a little power, cut right before touch down. The prop saver is an excellent addition to the kit and helps prevent the prop, motor or nose from breaking on those unplanned landings.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

This is where the Dixie really shines.

Rolls are crisp and fast.

Loops are easily performed.

The moveable rudder is where the delta comes alive, where this little bird is really unique -- the world of foamies meets the world of wings! Fork over a little left or right and do some crazy barrel rolls.

Fork the rudder all the way over and perform insane flat spins.

You can't miss the delta's trademark "pinwheel" maneuver. What fun!!! To accomplish the pinwheel, point the nose up at about ½ throttle and then quickly “flick” full rudder for just a moment. What a hoot!

I have never before seen a model with this much rudder authority! Strangely, I had a hard time sustaining knife-edge without the model snapping out, but MAE's flight videos show it doing well, in the hands of a more capable pilot. It could be a CG, lateral balance, thrust or other issue, but my Dixie needs a new motor so I cannot currently experiment in these areas to find the cause. (The model has a lot of side area for a flying wing, delta design.)

As far as stall performance, most of the time it will drop the nose cleanly in a stall, but sometimes it seemed to enter a spin unexpectedly. I found that I did not want to touch the rudder at this low of an airspeed, or it would result in an unpredictable stall. Proper power modulation got me out of this easily. The delta can drop a wing slightly but again power is key to maintaining control.

Is This For a Beginner?

This model is not for the faint of heart...but with proper setup the delta would make a fine choice for someone who has really pushed their trainer and first aerobat and is looking for his or her 3rd model.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Editor's Note: Unfortunately, the combination of constant poor weather and the difficulty of shooting a delta resulted in less than ideal video. We're hoping for more video to add to this article at a later date/time, and also MAE has promised additional cool video coming soon on their site. However, this clip will give you a preview of some of the fun this exciting little model has to offer!

Hits:

  • Quick build
  • Excellent parts quality
  • Cost effective
  • Highly aerobatic!
  • Stable fast flight (With a flat wing!)
  • Durable (with nose reinforcers)

Misses:

  • Nose is fragile without carbon reinforcement (newer kits include this now!)
  • True 3D aerobatics not possible due to its short tail moment

Cautions:

  • On launch do not use rudder or throw with excessive force
  • Flat spins can be entered easily with just a little rudder input...be sure to have PLENTY of altitude when first trying these until you learn to recover from them. It isn't difficult, just different. Recovery is assured with a blip of down elevon (if upright) or up elevon (if inverted) and simultaneous full power.
  • Stalls are somewhat unpredictable (but can be tamed with proper power modulation.)

I had what seemed to be torque issues with my Dixie when using the 3S pack, prior to accidentally cooking my motor. The manufacturer indicates that they have never seen such issues with theirs flying on the 3S, and remind that it is CRITICAL to make sure no left thrust occurs while installing the motor. Unfortunately, my Dixie needs a new motor, and so I cannot check to see if it may have been a left-thrust issue.

Conclusion

With its quick build time, aerobatic capability and its excellent pricing, I can imagine seeing many Dixie Deltas in the skies around the local club and park. The well engineered parts allow the model to be assembled quickly, and best of all its all made in the U.S.A. Time to go have another flight!

Last edited by AMCross; Aug 02, 2006 at 10:53 AM..

Discussion

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Old Aug 04, 2006, 04:35 PM
www.M-A-E.com
rcflyer11's Avatar
Lilburn, GA, USA
Joined Dec 2000
1,175 Posts
Dunno what kind of "torque" problem Pete had with the 15-turn motor ... it's only turning a 5x5 prop on 3S. I did wind up with a tad of left thrust in mine after a mishap (prior to installing the CF nose stiffeners), and it was then nearly unflyable. I simply bent the nose straight again and all is well

BTW... the CF nose stiffeners add virtually no weight, but they make the plane nearly indestructible. I've smacked mine in hard (grass, not pavement) and am able to simply toss it back up.

Randy
Model Airplane Engineering
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Old Aug 05, 2006, 03:53 AM
Registered Triplane Addict
68Strat's Avatar
Winchester MA
Joined Jun 2004
1,770 Posts
yes that was most likely my problem.. make sure she has NO left thrust and she is amazingly nimble. to clrarify stalls are not unpredictable for a flying wing.. just different than a conventional design.. keep some power on and have a blast. I plan to purchase another 15 turn motor to keep flying this model on. It IS nearly indestructable with those stiffeners! Great little model.. enjoy it alot.
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Old Aug 10, 2006, 12:57 PM
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rcflyer11's Avatar
Lilburn, GA, USA
Joined Dec 2000
1,175 Posts
New Video

Here's a LINK to our site page with new video just shot yesterday at the park. VIDEO4 is my plane flying with the 15-turn CDR motor on Etec 450-3S and 700-3S lipolys and APC 5x5 Speed prop.

Video shows the easy take-off, high speed, knife-edge, rolls, spins (power on and off), low speed, easy landing. I forgot to fly loops in the sequence, but it does both insides and outsides with ease.

Randy
MODEL AIRPLANE ENGINEERING
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Old Mar 26, 2008, 04:32 PM
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rcflyer11's Avatar
Lilburn, GA, USA
Joined Dec 2000
1,175 Posts
Dixie Delta - Improved & Upgraded

Hey Guys & Gals,
We've made some changes since this review article:

1. All-new color scheme (see pics below)
2. Graphics included & already in place
2. One-piece wing
3. Pre-hinged control surfaces

Whatcha think??

Randy
Model Airplane Engineering
www.m-a-e.com
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