|Wing Area:||398 sq. in.|
|Wing Loading:||15.5 oz/sq. ft.|
|Servos:||(4) Hitec 65MG's|
|Transmitter:||Hitec Optic 6|
|Receiver:||Hitec Micro 555|
|Battery:||Thunder Power Extreme 4s 2200 mAh|
|ESC:||Airboss Elite 45|
|WOT:||with an APC 11 x 8E|
3DHobbyShop has recently introduced some terrific balsa ARF kits designed for 3D/freestyle aerobatic flying with some precision capabilities mixed in. But 3DHobbyShop has also recognized the need for a dedicated pattern/precision aerobatic airplane that can be easily transported fully assembled, be flown in park flyer locations, and be used to perfect one’s F3A flying skills. Designed to meet and exceed those needs is the new 3DHobbyShop Aspera.
The Aspera has the precision of a 2M pattern plane in a convenient 46" park flyer size. It has precise lines and flying capabilities that will satisfy even the most seasoned pattern flyer and invites those who could never afford the larger and more expensive planes to give pattern flying a try.
3DHobbyShop did an excellent job of insuring that the Aspera arrived in great condition. As with all of 3DHobbyShops’s planes, the Aspera arrived TRIPLE BOXED. Each part was individually wrapped in protective plastic and secured to the box to prevent shifting. I was very impressed that the covering was absolutely wrinkle-free and every part was free from any visual defect. I couldn't wait to see more!
The Aspera Kit Includes:
NOTE: There is some very valuable information including some flight reports that can be found in the Aspera build and discussion thread located in the sports plane forum here on RCG.
The Aspera’s assembly was very easy. Even if it is your first balsa ARF build, you should have no problem building a straight and true finished airplane.
3DHobbyShop includes a thorough manual that leaves little to question and makes for a quick and easy build (I was able to assemble the Aspera in only a few short nights of very casual work). The illustrations and text are very clear and concise. Each piece assembled per the manual and I found no need to modify or substitute any hardware or any step of the build.
The Aspera is such a simple pleasure to build that there really is no need to do a rework of the manual here. Below are some highlights of my Aspera build.
The Aspera's wing assembled quite easily. I glued the supplied CA hinges in place and installed the aileron servos and included linkages. The servo bays are a perfect fit for the Hitec 65MG servos - they just drop right in place! The wings rest on a carbon fiber wing tube and are attached to the fuselage using plywood tags located on the wing root and are held in place by 3mm bolts. This provides a very secure fit for the wings and allows for easy wing removal during transport.
|What are F3A Aerobatics?|
This excerpt was take from the FAI webpages:
Synopsis of FAI Class F3A operation by Bob Skinner, Chairman of the CIAM F3A Sub-committee (December 2000)
“The FAI/CIAM class of F3A involves complex aerial maneuvers with a radio controlled model aircraft, where utmost precision and skill in controlling the model aircraft in any attitude and under all conditions is required. The model aircraft is 100% influenced by the wind and all maneuvers in the aerobatic schedules are judged relative to a point on the ground. The competitor must therefore compensate constantly for possible wind drift. Typically, an F3A model aircraft will have a fuselage length of no more than 2 meters, a wing span of less than 2 meters, and the weight must not exceed 5kg's. The motive power is usually an internal combustion engine, with no power limitations, but the engine has to be adequately silenced. The on-board radio control equipment, receiving signals from the competitor's transmitter, actuates the control surfaces to enable aerobatic performance.”
“The F3A class is a team as well as an individual competition. FAI member countries may enter a team of maximum three competitors as a national team for world- and continental championships. Team results are the sum of the three competitors' scores.”
“Flights are performed directly in front of the judges in an aerobatic zone or "box", which extends 60 degrees to the left and right of a centre line, and at an elevation of no more than 60 degrees. Each time the model aircraft crosses the centre line, a particular maneuver of a known (published) aerobatic schedule has to be performed, involving components such as loops, rolls, lines, spins, snap rolls, stall turns, and combinations of these. At the ends of the aerobatic box, the model aircraft is required to do turn-around maneuvers to enable it to reverse its direction of travel. Typically an aerobatic schedule has 23 maneuvers, including a take-off and a landing. Maneuvers or parts performed outside of the box are penalized by loss of points, proportional to the degree of infraction. Generally the model aircraft is required to be flown at 150 meters from the pilot, in a plane perpendicular to the centre line. Each competitor will be entitled to four preliminary flights, of which the best three scores will determine his placing. Semi-final and final rounds are flown only for world- and continental championships, and involve more difficult known, and unknown maneuver schedules.”
“Each competitor's performance is assessed by a panel of judges who will award marks, independently from each other, between zero and ten for each maneuver, or figure. Maneuvers are assigned a difficulty factor (K-factor) depending on the complexity of the particular maneuver. Judging is based on four basic criteria: precision (or geometry), smoothness and gracefulness, positioning (display), and size of maneuvers. Points are subtracted for various types of defects observed by the judges, the severity of these defects, and the number of times these defects are observed. At the end of each flight the judges may award a penalty for an excessively noisy model aircraft, to discourage disturbance to the surroundings.”
The Aspera's tail surfaces assemble just as easily as the wings. One item of note: the Aspera has a pre-cut (covering needs to be removed) slot in the tail that allows the elevator to simply slide into place. There is no joiner wire to hassle with which saves some time build time. The rudder on the Aspera provides PLENTY of yaw authority.
The fuselage on the Aspera is very lightweight but solid. Battery access is made through a canopy that attaches to the fuselage using magnets. The canopy "POPS" right into place and I have not had any issues with the canopy ejecting during even the most violent of snaps. The carbon fiber landing gear on the Aspera sweeps back and is secured inside the Aspera fuselage. 3DHobbyShop includes plywood doublers for those, like myself, who plan to use their Aspera on grass fields.
The Torque motor mounts using blind nuts and the included aluminum standoffs. Installing the two side blind nuts behind the motor mount was a tricky maneuver; the sides of the motor box have triangle stock braces making for a tight fit. Using some care, I was able to get them installed properly and securely.
|Aspera Prop Testing|
|ESC:||Airboss Elite 45|
|Battery pack:||Thunder Power Extreme 4s 2200 mAh|
|Prop:||APC 11 x 8E (recommended)|
|Prop:||APC 12 x 8E|
|Battery pack:||Thunder Power Prolite 3s2p 4200 mAh pack|
|Prop:||APC 11 x 8E|
|Prop:||APC 12 x 8E|
I flew the Aspera using the stock Torque 2814-820 motor on a couple of different prop and battery pack setups (see sidebar for numbers). The Torque 2814-820 is a terrific motor for the Aspera and I have been very pleased with its performance and efficiency.
3DHobbyShop offers a Complete Combo that includes an APC 11 x 8E prop. This is a terrific prop for the 4s power package on the Aspera, but I have found that the Aspera flies equally well on a 3s2p setup. So that I could alternate between the 4s and 3s packs, I used the APC 12 x 8E prop. This setup allows for unlimited vertical performance on the 4s pack and almost unlimited vertical on the 3s pack.
The radio gear installation went smoothly. The receiver sits on the battery tray just aft of the flight battery. The recommended extensions almost did not reach the receiver terminals without having extensions added. I attempted to move the receiver further aft, but when I did it made the aileron servo extensions too short to connect to the receiver. Eventually I got all of the servo extensions to connect to the receiver without any additional extensions; it just took a little time and patience to get everything connected securely.
The Aspera is one FANTASTIC looking airplane when finished. I was extremely pleased with the finished product and could not wait to get the Aspera up flying.
My Aspera’s weight RTF came in at 43oz. At this weight, I knew that the plane would penetrate the wind well and land at a nice slow speed. I located my CG at 4 7/8" from the leading edge measured from the wing’s root and I think this is a perfect spot for my style of pattern/precision flying.
|Control throws were set per the instructions manual:|
|Low Rates Up||Low Rates Down||High Rates Up||High Rates Down|
|Low Rates Left||Low Rates Right||High Rates Left||High Rates Right|
|Rudder||2"||2"||as much as possible||as much as possible|
The Aspera is a very honest airplane. It has no tendencies to nose over during taxiing (even on my club’s very rough grass flying field). It does not need runway during takeoffs. With the recommended 4s setup, I could easily get the Aspera airborne in under 20ft, maybe less, depending on throttle usage. I enjoy the way the Aspera lifts off with a gradual throttle increase. It accelerates down the runway gracefully and with a breath of elevator, climbs out gently.
On low rates the Aspera gives a very solid platform for a "Point and Go" style of flying. I found the recommended low rate settings to be more than adequate for precision flying. It tracks well and, once trimmed, will cut holes in the sky.
Orientation is not a problem with its nice covering. I can track it easily in various sky conditions.
The Aspera loves to fly, so it’s necessary to plan your landing approach. Because the Aspera has such flowing lines and a slightly higher wing loading when compared to other 3D models, it requires a flatter approach to bleed off some airspeed. It has very gentle stall characteristics and can land in a slight headwind at a speed just above a brisk walking pace. I can easily fly and land my Aspera in the same places that I fly many of my normal 3D park flyers.
The Aspera's strength is in flying precision style aerobatics in a park flyer setting. On low rates the Aspera tracks as straight as an arrow and offers very mild roll and pitch rates. The Aspera easily performs such maneuvers as figure 8s, immelmans, hammerheads, and knife edge flight on these rates. Because the Aspera has such an adequate amount of side area on its fuselage, flying knife edge from one end of the field to the other is no problem. Rolls are very axial on the Aspera and I found that I needed approximately a 2% rudder to elevator mix to fly using rudder only during sustained knife edge flight. The Aspera will do the world's LARGEST loops possible with the supplied power.
The Aspera really comes to life as soon as the high rates switch is flipped. The Aspera has the mass and wing design to allow it to maintain excellent energy in snaps, and snap rolls are lightning quick. It can turn a beautiful avalanche on high rates. I found that with a modest CG setting, the Aspera will not snap out of even the tightest loops. (I did get the Aspera to snap out of a loop but only when I had the battery pack at the extreme aft CG limit.) Even though the Aspera was not designed as a 3D airplane, I have been able to prop hang it for short periods of time (nice to change it up sometimes). See the Aspera’s report card below for different aerobatic/precision maneuvers.
|The Aspera Aerobatic/Precision Report Card|
|Snaps||A +||The Aspera does some of the best high energy snaps I have ever seen!!|
|Knife Edge||A||Sweeeet! Only needed 2% rudder to elevator mixing.|
|High Alpha Knife Edge||A||NO PROBLEM, plenty of fuse side area to perform with ease.|
|Hammerheads||A||High rate rudder and the Aspera will do the best hammerheads!|
|Loops||A||Can be as small or as big as you want them with no bad tendencies.|
|Knife-Edge-to-Knife Edge turns||A+||It will ride on the rudder all day long!|
|Spins||A-||These can be nice and flat with aft CG and lots of rudder.|
|Point Rolls||A||I have never performed better 4-point rolls in my life.|
|Rolls||A+||Axial and extremely crisp on high rates.|
|Inverted Flight||A||Very Nice! Slight down elevator is all that is needed.|
|Blenders||B+||The Aspera can do them nicely with aft CG.|
The Aspera is NOT a beginner’s plane as it doesn’t self-level like most trainers. But with its docile nature and honest flight characteristics, the Aspera would make a great first or second low-wing intermediate airplane.
The 3DHobbyShop Aspera is a great pattern/precision airplane that can be flown like a F3A competition plane, but in a park flyer setting. It flies like a much larger plane than its 46" wingspan. Because of its excellent lines and great power setup, it can easily handle winds that would ground most park flyers. The ease of construction and high quality hardware make the Aspera assembly a breeze and gets the pilot out to the field in no time. The plane handles extremely well, has no bad tendencies and tracks like an arrow. I look forward to perfecting my precision skills with the Aspera and hope to use it as my first competition airplane. Wish me luck!!
There is no doubt that Ben and his associates are putting out some great airplanes. Thanks for the postive feedback on the review.
Oh gosh, there goes Bens big head again with such a nice review of his product!
I love mine lately.
BTW: I did not use the blind nuts as they are too long for the plywood and stick out if you dont space them. So I used the motor mounting bolts with 8 washers (1 on each side) and nylon locking nuts to through bolt them on my newest Aspera (this is the second). I am using an AXI 2820 10. Obscene power on 3s at 500+ watts on the Tanic 3650's.
Thanks for the comments.
Great to hear you are enjoying one of these fine airplanes. I believe you are using the setup similiar to Feathermerchant correct? Excellent idea using the locking nuts and washers.
Hemet, California, United States
Joined Aug 2001
Hello Doc Austin,
Do you have both the Aspera and the Diamonte 25E? If so, how do they compare? I have a Diamonte and most of the hardware waiting to be built as I have been wanting a good sport pattern ship in this size. I could easily be pursuaded to sell off the Diamonte and go with the Aspera if it is the better plane.
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