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E-flite Edge 540 BP 3D ARF Review

Jon Barnes grabs a five slice slab of sourdough sweet 3D with the Edge 540 BP 3D ARF by E-Flite!

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Introduction

Betty or Wilma? Paper or plastic? My oh my, but the choices we are forced to make everyday! And when it comes to selecting your favorite electric radio control plane, the age old question is: balsa or foam? Everyone has their own preference, and both materials have their advantages, but in this review, we’ll look at one airplane that may have you tossing your foamies into the packaging material bin!


Wingspan:35.5"
Wing Area:410 sq in
Weight:15-16 oz
Length:36.5"
Wing Loading:5.6 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:E-flite Sub-Micro S75 Servo (4)
Transmitter:Multiplex EVO 9
Receiver:JR R610UL 6CH FM
Battery:Thunder Power Pro-Lite 910 3S
Motor:E-flite Park 400 Brushless Outrunner Motor, 920 Kv
ESC:E-flite 20-Amp Brushless ESC (V2)
Manufacturer:E-flite
Available From:Horizon Hobby
Retail Price:$79.99

Kit Contents

Compared to the size of some of the boxes that have been finding their way to my front porch lately, the Edge comes in a modest size box. Popping the top revealed a comparatively small parts count, hinting at the speed of assembly to come. I was very impressed with the condition of the covering; sometimes ARFs come out of the box with wrinkles galore, but the Edge was tighter than a drum with nary a wrinkle to be found.

Kit Includes:

  • Wing with ailerons
  • Fuselage with rudder
  • Horizontal tail assembly
  • Landing gear
  • Pushrod set
  • Hardware set
  • Wheel set
  • Wheel pants
  • Outrunner stick mount
  • Assembly manual

Kit Requires:

  • Brushless motor
  • Brushless speed controller
  • Four sub-micro servos
  • 4-5 channel receiver
  • 900-1350 3S lithium polymer 3S battery
  • Appropriately sized prop

E-Flite gives you a choice of recommended power systems. Behind Door #1 is a lightweight setup with adequate power for 3D flights:

Lightweight Outrunner Setup

  • Park 400 BL Outrunner 920Kv
  • 20-Amp Brushless ESC
  • 910mAh 3-Cell 11.1V Li-Po
  • 10 x 4.7 Electric Prop

Or perhaps you are of the type who needs a motor with unlimited power? If so, you'll be selecting Door #2. This is a high-power performance setup for strong 3D flights:

High Power Outrunner Setup

  • Park 450 BL Outrunner 890Kv
  • 20-Amp Brushless ESC
  • 1320mAh 3-Cell 11.1V Li-Po
  • 12 x 6 Electric Prop

The choice you make will depend on your individual flying style. E-flite chose Door #1 for me for this particular review.

I ended up being pleasantly surprised with the results, but more on that in a bit!

Assembly

E-flite obviously spends some time and money on the creation of their assembly manuals. I really like the format and thorough illustrations that leave nothing to chance. There is no need for me to try and replace the excellent manual provided, so instead I will offer my opinion and suggestions to possibly streamline the way it all comes together.

And before I EVER start building a plane, I always spend a little time perusing the RCGroups forums because inevitably, there will be a "Build Thread” or two in some cases. The information gleaned from this source will quite often help you make a mistake already made by those who have traveled down the road of assembly ahead of you. In the case of the Edge 540, there were several alleged issues with the kit. Some reported that the wing-to-fuselage fit was not the best. Others felt the aluminum landing gear was too soft and not up to the rigors of a few less than perfect landings. I started my build with these two possible shortcomings on my mind.

Wing and Horizontal Tail Assembly

The first thought that entered into my mind when I picked up the wing was: "This thing is about five slices thick worth of sourdough bread!" (Maybe it was because earlier that day I had made French Toast for my daughter, as I so often do. I am developing and refining my recipe to the point that I am the Master!)

The first step in the recipe, er, I mean the assembly, is to slide the wing into the fuselage to check the fit and mark it for covering removal. This is one area where some have complained the gap was a bit too large - mine was pretty tight. There were only a few small gaps though which I could see a little light when held up to my shop fluorescents. Any tighter and I would have had to sand the opening to allow the wing to slide in. And the opening was also cut "square", meaning the wing sat in the saddle at the correct ninety degree angle relative to the fuselage. Once you have it squared up, draw lines to mark the point where it intersects both sides of the fuselage. Remove it, the wing and cut the covering off. Reinsert it, and make it permanent with some CA. I used the same to fill a few places where the gap was a little more pronounced. It is worth noting that E-flite discourages the use of CA accelerator on this step, as the CA should wick into the joint for a more secure bond if allowed to cure normally.

The very same steps are followed to attach the horizontal tail assembly. Once the wing and horizontal stabilizer are attached, it is time to hinge the control surfaces and attach them. T-pins are a CA hinge’s best friend, as they guarantee the hinges will penetrate equally into both pieces.

The two elevator halves are joined by a small piece of lite ply. You must glue this into one half of the elevator, and then attach it to the horizontal stabilizer via the three CA hinges. Repeat for the other elevator half, the rudder and the ailerons, carefully checking that you have the ailerons correctly oriented before you glue. The covering scheme and colors will clue you in to whether you have them right or wrong.

The landing gear, mains, with wheel pants and the small tail wheel attach quite easily and exactly as detailed in the manual.

Voila! You now have a completed airframe sitting on the table in front of you!

Installation of Radio Gear and Power System

I chose to use four E-flite S75 sub-micro servos and a JR 610UL 6 channel receiver. The servos’ openings required just a touch of sanding to get the openings large enough. As usual, I used a pin vise to drill a tiny pilot hole and then harden the threads with a few drops of CA. Once the servos are installed, it takes a little planning and effort to neatly route them to the receiver. I like to make the wiring as neat as possible; there’s nothing worse than seeing a bunch of wires flapping in the wind as you bring the plane in for a close hover.

You may have to trim a little of the motor mounting stick, depending upon which motor you use. The kit comes with two tiny pieces of tapered, wedge shaped lite ply referred to as “motor offset shims.” These are critically important to getting the correct angle of right thrust built into the motor and prop, so be sure to follow the instructions closely here.

After attaching the motor to the E-flite motor mount, slide it onto the stick, and secure it with the included tiny screw. Attach your favorite electric prop using the aluminum adapter that comes with the motor. The recommended prop for the 920kv motor is the 10X4.7 but I decided to go with a 11X3.8 instead. The battery is attached with the included Velcro to one side of the fuselage, the speed controller to the other side.

Once you have the power system installed, it is time to finish the setup of the servos by gluing the control horns to the movable surfaces and connecting them to the servos via the included, lightweight pushrods. E-flite provides everything you will require to make the connections. I selected the longest horns I could find for the S75s. When mounting the servo horns to the aileron servos, E-flite recommends matching them to the hinge line of the ailerons.

I like that they include some small wooden pushrod supports for the longer rudder and elevator pushrods. They help create a very positive, slop free connection to the tail surfaces. A small drop of CA on the quick connects used on the servo arms will provide a little insurance against the already tight friction fit somehow releasing in flight.

Completion

My All Up Weight came in at 15.5 ounces, which is exactly in the middle of E-Flite's projected specification of 15-16 ounces.

My total time to build was probably around 5-6 hours. Others will complete it faster. In any event, it is a quick build for sure. E-Flite provides a starting point as far as recommended control throws and exponentials for dual rates. But it is a safe bet that you will crank the high rates up as high as you can if you are like me! A plane of this design will handle it for sure.

Double check and then triple check that the control surfaces deflect the correct way when the sticks are moved on your transmitter. The starting point for the Center of Gravity is 4.5 inches back from the leading edge of the wing at the wing root, against the saddle. You can probably move it back even further after you fly the plane a bit.

Perform the all important range check and verify that all of the connections are tight, both mechanically and electrically, then it’s off to the field!

Flying

Had I been given a choice, I would have probably selected the more powerful of the two recommended power systems. However, running it up on my Emeter, I remembered what I have learned in the last few years: when it comes to electric planes, lighter IS always better.

You can decide for yourself if it has enough vertical punch out when you watch the video below!

It is worth noting that this airplane is designed to fly relatively slowly. In fact, the manual cautions you lest you exceed the intended airspeed and experience the dreaded flutter that can and will occur. As a slow flyer, things will not happen very fast and you do have time to respond.

Taking Off and Landing

Whats to say? Put the pedal to the metal, grab a thumb-ful of elevator and straight up you go like a rocketship to the moon! What could be simpler?

But it is also fun to advance the power more sedately, and watch it slowly climb out like a more conventional airframe. When it comes time to land, I aspire to be able to hover it right into my hand. Well, time and practice will see that happening.

I was a little worried about the alleged softness of the landing gear, as some had reported on RCGroups. I have landed mine a little on the hard side, and the aluminum did distort a little but I think that might be a good thing - on a hard landing, something has to give. I would rather have the landing gear be the crumple zone than the balsa and ply fuselage. It is definitely easier to tweak the aluminum back into shape than it is to have to operate on the fuselage.

My guess is that E-flite again hopefully addressed the problems that some were experiencing with the landing gear. I definitely give it a thumbs up! The five slice thick airfoil will let you slow it to a walk and gently settle it on the mains, or if you prefer, on the tail wheel first and then the mains.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

This plane was designed, in 100% scale and in this smaller version, to be an aerobatics machine, and it does not disappoint. I will openly admit that I am not the sharpest tool in the 3D shed, and the Edge takes it all and keeps coming back for more. I have been trying to improve my hovering ability for some time, and I can say that this will be the airframe to take me to the next level. The Edge 540 locks into a hover like no other plane I have ever tried it with.

And when the inevitable trouble finds me, I have plenty under the hood to punch out of harm’s way. Slow speed, high alpha flight is also impressive. Snaps are very clean and crisp. Inverted flight takes almost no down elevator. With just a smidgen of pressure on that right thumb, it will happily cruise around inverted. Knife edge flight exhibits almost no coupling at all. Now, you might conclude that this balsa and ply airframe is a house of cards just waiting to collapse with the tiniest impact but I have not found that to be true thus far. One radio glitch sent it in from only a few feet up, and I was elated to find no damage at all. It helps that it landed on the gear and one wing tip but I thought for sure I would be making some repairs, but I was wrong.

Is This For a Beginner?

No. It goes exactly where you point it, and it will not right itself if you get into trouble.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

So you decide: Ginger or Mary-Ann, balsa or foam. I am happy that E-flite is engineering these balsa and ply planes. They are indeed well engineered, and they are not as fragile as you may assume. The Edge 540 is definitely a hoot. I can confidently say it is already taking this 3D wannabe down the road to success at an accelerating rate, and at the same time, it is an excellent platform to practice aerobatics. The Ultracote covering scheme is both beautiful and highly visible.

Pluses:

  • From the box to the skies in record time
  • Beautiful Ultracote covering
  • If you don't like foam in your models, you won't find any here
  • Super light airframe, with no sacrifice in strength.
  • Five slice thick symmetrical airfoil for amazing flight performance

Minuses

  • The foam-free, all balsa composition means you probably have to open your wallet a little wider to purchase this plane. But it is worth it!

Last edited by Angela H; Sep 06, 2007 at 10:03 PM..

Discussion

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Old Nov 11, 2007, 10:12 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,593 Posts
Very nice review Jom! I enjoyed the video. Nice hover. I like to blast up out of a hover at the end of them. Give it a try next time you're out with the plane. Mike
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Old Nov 11, 2007, 01:10 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,779 Posts
Tnx Mike. I like that move myself. The power system is the lighter of the two recommended sets. It will pull up out of a hover but probably doesn't have as much authority as the heavier, more powerful set.
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Old Nov 11, 2007, 01:13 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,779 Posts
As usual, I owe a big thanks to Blueskyrider.

His willing and capable assistance with the photos and videos are of inestimable value to me! Tnx Bro!
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Old Nov 11, 2007, 02:38 PM
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r/cdawg's Avatar
Grandville, MI
Joined Dec 2003
2,243 Posts
Nice review Jon, I've looked at the Edge many times as I always like to have a balsa profile in my fleet. In fact I'm retiring an Aeroworks Sukhoi and your review is very timely. I think my lhs has one on the shelf that just might follow me home.
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Old Nov 11, 2007, 06:47 PM
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Joined Dec 2006
209 Posts
edge 540 bp

great review i love my 540 bp it flies fantastic im going to build the cap 232 bp soon too so ill have both of them in my fleet
i saw a vid of the cap with a hacker a 20-20L AND IT WAS AWESOME

anyone looking for a great quick build kit will not be dissapointed in the 540 bp

newtohelis
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Old Nov 13, 2007, 06:22 PM
AMA848091
St. Charles, MO.
Joined Apr 2003
493 Posts
BARNESJONR, I really enjoyed this build article, great job. I just completed the E-flite mini Edge 540 3D ARF and you are correct. It was a beautiful kit right out of the box. I powered mine with a Park 480 motor and it just flies great.

Cecil
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Old Nov 13, 2007, 06:44 PM
KK6MQJ
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Joined Sep 2004
13,779 Posts
Cecil! Great to hear from you. Glad you like your Edge. I think you went with the more powerful setup. How is the vertical pull out when hovering? I bet it is very strong?

Tnx for your comments and for having a read!
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Old Dec 12, 2007, 09:43 PM
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Joined Oct 2007
6 Posts
Soft landing gear!

I have been in model aviation for 31 years. I am also a professional airline pilot. Trust me, I know the difference between a hard landing and a greaser!

I ordered this ARF as soon as it came out. The landing gear will hardly hold the weight of the airplane sitting on the runway! I used all of the recommended components to finish this ARF. I made no modifications.

I called E-Flite and spoke with Rusty. Rusty was no help! He did promise to send me a new landing gear. That was 3 months ago! No replacement Landing gear yet!

Maybe E-Flite did address the problem! I hope so! At least then my conversation with Rusty was not a waste of time and it may have helped out my fellow modelers!

I am looking forward to the Toledo show this spring! I plan on bringing this airplane and having a talk with these folks about customer relations!
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 12:26 AM
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United States, OH, Clinton
Joined Nov 2002
149 Posts
I hope you are not still waiting for landing gear. Bend it back and fly it. I have bent the gear on just about every airplane I have flown if not ripped it right out of the airframe. I would rather have the gear bend than have the a good set of gear but the fuse is gone where you attach it. If you go to Toledo just talk to them. You don't have to bring the plane. Everyone is great to talk to there. I live fairly close and Sunday is desolate in comparison. Trust me. You will enjoy the event if you choose to.
Jerry
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 07:14 PM
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RickC2009's Avatar
USA, NY, Brookhaven
Joined Mar 2003
1,523 Posts
I made my own gear.
Really simple and works great!
rickc
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 09:47 PM
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chips303's Avatar
NW Indiana
Joined Aug 2007
24 Posts
I used the dubro landing gear. They can take a beating. Held up on rolling harriers and not having the perfect landing. over and over A very well buit plane for the money. I run a himax 2816 outrunner and 1350 3 cell tp pack.
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Old Dec 17, 2007, 08:19 PM
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long island new york
Joined Nov 2005
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RickC's gear is junk...
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Old Dec 18, 2007, 03:47 AM
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Joined Oct 2007
6 Posts
I have been flying my E-Flite Edge 540 BP every month since I bought it. The airplane is wonderful and flies great! The gear is the only problem that I, and many other people seem to be having and E-Flite is no help.
I will be at the Toledo show with my airplane in hand because I work the show. Also I want them to try and tell me face to face that there is nothing wrong with the landing gear!
I have many E-Flite products! This is the only issue I have experienced to date with E-Flite.
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Old Dec 18, 2007, 11:07 PM
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USA, NY, Brookhaven
Joined Mar 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbomilligan
RickC's gear is junk...
Bet my gear will hold up to a 50cc size plane!!!
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