Say, you want to learn some aerobatics and 3D flight? Sure you want to, but you probably don't want to go through six planes in the process, now do you?
Learning acrobatics is fun, no question about it. And there's no question you're going to have unexpected landings. But if you're not crashing, you're not flying, and crashing can get expensive. What you need is a plane that's acrobatic to the point of insane knife edges, but durable enough to live through plenty of trial and error.
The Phase 3 Double Time fits both bills: This biplane can roll and spin and knife-edge its way to insanity and then some, yet it's made of EPP foam and reinforced with carbon fiber, so it's going to survive the mishaps and abuse brought on by the aspiring acrobatic pilot.
And, at 18 ounces of weight and a 31-inch wingspan, it's flyable in small-enough spaces such as a football field.
It has the looks and the flying characteristics and it doesn't disappoint!
|Wingspan:||31.5" for top wing, 30.5 for bottom wing"|
|Wing Area:||430sq. in.|
|Wing Loading:||6 oz/sq. ft.|
|Servos:||Four Hitec HS-55 servos, available at Hobby-Lobby|
|Battery:||Impulse 11.1v 900mAh 12C LiPo|
|Motor:||Brushless KMS 2208/15 Quantum outrunner|
|ESC:||Castle Creations Phoenix 25|
|Manufacturer:||Phase 3 Models|
|Available From:||Hobby People|
All the items came carefully wrapped in individual plastic bags. Some of the bags are just for a specific part of the build and because theyre individually packaged, you won't be losing any hinges or pushrods until it's time to install them.
And so the grip-it-and-rip-it ritual begins. Let's open these bags and see what's inside!
Here's what you'll need to complete this kit:
.*Pliers/screwdrivers/Z-bend pliers and the rest of the usual, reliable tools
The only optional thing I would recommend:
The build is not complicated at all. I'll venture and say that these instructions may just be some of the best ones I've seen in a while. There are tips throughout the build process that make a big difference in the build.
If you're a quick builder, you should be able to have your plane built and ready to fly in just a few evenings. But, as with most ARF planes, you will want to make sure that all the pre-glued surfaces live up to your gluing standards so have your CA bottle ready. I did have to go back around some spots in the wings and wick some foam-safe glue and kicker in a few areas. It just took me a few minutes, but it beats having a wing pop loose mid-flight.
I built the plane in the order instructed in the manual, but I'll offer tips along the way:
The first order of business is to mount the motor to the prebuilt motor mount (or motor stick, depending on what you choose to use). If you go with the recommended KMS motor, you'll have to drill three pilot holes for it and use your wood screws. I used some servo screws I had laying around, and they worked just fine. Just be sure to reglue the plywood mount should it start to split.
I went ahead and added a few washers between the motor and the motor mount to add some thrust angle to it (I settled on five on the top screw, three on the left right, though your mileage may vary depending on what kind of motor you use). Finally, I used some 30-minute epoxy to attach it to the fuselage. Just push it all the way in if you're using the recommended brushless motor.
The included radial motor mount is, in itself, a good concept: It makes installing any motor quite easy. You can attach just about any motor you want with a few screws, and you won't have much problem doing so.
Problems arose once I started adding washers to adjust the thrust angle. It started warping and therefore the thrust angle was back to zero. That I was able to easily fix by drilling new holes, but this time at an angle.
As you'll read later on in the review, the motor mount went on a belly-up landing. It broke where the stick met the plywood mount, and there is little room to reinforce it. So, instead of fixing it, I opted for a simpler option: a motor mount that would stick directly to the firewall. I got some plywood, cut it to the size of the firewall and just glued it with some Gorilla Glue. Afterwards, I drilled a hole that would accommodate the motor shaft, and I was in business. All I needed to do was attach the motor, with the washers to add the thrust angle.
Depending on your motor, you might need to trim the cowl a bit. Just check your prop clearance.
Hobby People is aware of this problem, and it will take a look at the current kits in stock to see what can be done about this problem.
You may not experience the problems I had with it, but if you want to be on the safe side, you might want to consider this simple mod. Especially since the plywood won't cost you more than $1, or less if you have some scrap laying around.
In hindsight, I recommend that you leave the motor installation for last. Otherwise, you're going to have the motor dangling around while you finish the rest of the plane, plus then you'll have to possibly worry about soldering the ESC. But if you decide to do this step first, it's not a big deal. I've survived to tell you about it, and so has the plane, so you'll be just fine.
There's nothing special about attaching the hinges to the control surface and afterwards to the stabilizers. Just stab your X-Acto knife, create a slot, put a toothpick on it so you can put some epoxy in there, and then put the hinge in (a bit more than 1/2 inch, which is halfway through). Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It's that simple.
What's not as simple, though, is creating a bevel on the control surface: EPP is not as nearly as dense or rigid as other foams (hence the reason it's so forgiving when accidentally dropped from 50 feet high at a high speed), so it's not as easy to sand.
I tried sanding the elevator, and the results were OK , but the leading edge did look more like a semicircle and less like two crisp 45-degree bevel angles. What I did instead was to cut the foam with an X-Acto knife, which allowed me to create much more precise angles. First, I drew a guide line, and then I slowly and carefully ran the blade along the leading edge. It took me less time, and I was much more pleased with the end result.
I attached the HS-55 servos with a few drops of epoxy glue, but what I opted to do was to simply add a Z-bend to one end of the control rod and attach it to the control horn on the control surface. Then I used a Du-Bro EZ connector on the servo horn. I quickly did away with the V-shaped trimming trick since I find the connector option a lot more reliable, cleaner and easier to trim.
Before you do anything else, make sure all the edges of each wing are properly glued, and take care of those gaps should you need to.
The process for hinging the ailerons is the same as that of the rudder and elevator. I used 30-minute epoxy for these, since I wanted to take care of all of them in one go, and I knew it would take me more than five minutes and didn't want to keep making batch after batch of quick-setting epoxy.
The servo-and-control-rod process is the same as the one I explained in the tail section (Du-Bro connectors). I, however, suggest that you wait until you have your servos centered to set the top-to-bottom-wing linkages, so that you're able to keep the same angle with both ailerons.
When attaching the wing (with epoxy glue), be sure to keep an eye out to make sure the bottom and top wing are parallel to each other by using a hobby square, even though the way it is connected virtually allows for an error-proof installation.
One last tip, though: Go ahead and temporarily tape the servo wires to somewhere outside of the fuselage or directly below the cockpit otherwise fishing out for them at the last minute, with the wings attached and all, could prove to be a daunting task.
There's nothing to do to the fuselage, since it's all prebuilt. Be sure that no edge is coming unglued, and, tack it in with some foam-safe CA if so.
This couldn't be simpler: A few drops of epoxy on the skid and on the front landing gear, and you're in business.
The receiver goes right on the cockpit, which folds back to allow for easy installation. Use a piece of servo tape if you want it attached there for posterity, or just put some Velcro so you can take it off whenever needed.
The ESC fits nicely behind the motor, and there's a hole right below so you can put the battery wires through. You may also be able to push the wires to the receiver from there, though it may not reach. Otherwise, just make a small hole on the foam sheet right behind it, and pass it through.
Now that you have all the electronics set up, it's time to trim the servos. Make sure you get the aileron servos meticulously adjusted, because you want to be precise when it comes to gluing the links to the top-wing elevator. My suggestion: Cut the linkage pushrods long and start trimming back little by little until you're there, but do leave some wiggle room in case you want to unglue it and adjust it a bit more. A couple of drops of thin CA should take care of it.
There's little more you need to do, other than putting some Velcro strips for the battery (I recommend you glue them in, at least on the plane side).
I was surprised at how easy the plane balances. If you use the recommended battery and have it sitting flush with the front of the plane (not the cowl), it should be right on balance at least for the first flights. As you start getting more skilled, (or adventurous, or a mixture of both), you can start moving it back little by little. But for the first few flight, a plane that's not tail heavy will be your friend.
I set up the control surfaces as recommended, and I also set up dual rates on the elevator and ailerons so I could test it both ways. I didn't add as much exponential as the instructions recommend, because I'm not a big fan of expo, so I just left it at 15 percent.
OK, we've spent enough time in the workbench, let's go find some wide spaces and take this plane for a spin... and a roll and a loop!
I took the plane to my usual field, a football field. As expected, this provided more than plenty of space.
One thing you will want to bring to the field, other than your trusty tools and whatever else you cram into your field box, is a few extra washers. You might need those to adjust the thrust angle for the motor.
I set the travel rates for the control surfaces at the recommended rates, and they worked well for me. I set dual rates in my radio, so if I felt like kicking it up a notch in the air, I can always change the rates to maximum deflection.
I opted to toss the plane out instead of taking off on the first flight. And, after a bit of a trim (mainly down elevator, since it still wanted to climb despite the wild amount of thrust angle I had already applied) it was flying straight and without a problem.
The plane flies along best at about half throttle. Any less than that, and turns get a bit hairy, and you lose quite a bit of altitude somewhat quickly (it's not a floater by any means) and it wants to stall during coordinated turns. Any more throttle than that, and you're ready for some serious acrobatics.
Changing the aileron dual rates to maximum deflection didn't make that much of a difference after all, though. The recommended rates for aerobatic flight provide plenty of deflection for quick rolls and smooth turns.
I was surprised at how well the Double Time handles wind, though. Even with a bit of a breeze, this smallish plane can handle it as well and still be able to perform acrobatic maneuvers. I found this to be a great plus: It's not often you can find foam planes that can cut through wind, and this way it can be a versatile plane no matter the conditions outside.
I usually fly on grassy surfaces, but the small wheels don't offer much help for ROG in the grass. Just about any time I tried, I ended belly-up. It's better on pavement, but if you're flying off grass, you're better off tossing it. A gentle toss at half throttle did the trick for me.
As expected, landings are the same story. The plane lines itself up really nicely on approach, and at 1/3 throttle, you can glide down for a while until you touch down. But once you land, you'll likely go belly-up on grass, even if it has been cut short. If you're flying off grass, bigger wheels might be a worthy (and probably inexpensive) investment.
Indeed, there's plenty of that, and this is where the plane truly shines. I could say that the plane is a fun model to relax with and putt around late in the afternoon, but I wouldn't be giving the Double Time much justice. This model performs great aerobatics, and the best thing about it is that they're easy enough to perform for a beginner.
(And, if you mess up, you're less likely to come home with your plane in a plastic bag than if you were flying a non-EPP foam or balsa plane).
With the motor and prop I used, I found the Double Time to be a better acrobatic plane than a 3D trainer. Personally, I didn't have much of a problem with it since I prefer the former style of flying. If you wanted to hover like crazy, a more powerful power system would likely do the trick.
So, here are a few of the maneuvers I did with the plane, and how they performed:
Thanks for asking, but no. This plane, while not overly hard to fly, is an aileron plane with plenty of speed, and I would not recommend it as a first or even second plane. With no dihedral in the wings, this plane will go where you want it to, and if you point it down and let go of the sticks, you know where it's headed. Pretty fast, too.
However, once you have a bit of experience with an aileron trainer, this could be the perfect step up to learn some acrobatic maneuvers.
So, for the true beginner, this is not a good idea. But for first-time aerobat wannabes with a bit of stick time under their belts, this would indeed be a great plane to have. The added rigidity and crash resistance is a great insurance policy, too.
Overall, I was extremely pleased with how the Double Time performed, though it does take a bit of time to get it trimmed to your liking. It's a durable, reliable and fun plane that not only looks good but also performs great. The fact that it's EPP foam makes it crash-resistant (though I haven't had the pleasure of testing that feature yet, thank you very much), and that will give pilots a lot of confidence when it comes to trying new maneuvers.
I'd like to thank the following for making this review possible: Hobby People for providing the kit, motor and battery; Hobby-Lobby for providing the HS-55 servos; Castle Creations for the Phoenix 25 ESC; Shannon Wheatley for the video; and my father-in-law, Jeff Milligan, for the flight photos.
If you're an aspiring aerobatic flyer, this could be a great introductory plane. It doesn't require high-end electronics or large fields to fly in, so it's right for anyone.
Thanks Ronnie, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed putting it together!
It's a really fun plane it reminds me a lot of that Multiplex Gemini you recently flew. It's more aerobatic than 3D, and it's a somewhat gentle flier.
Great job Napo!
As many times as you mentioned the crash survivability of the Double Time, I thought you were going to demo it in the video - LOL.
The DT flies like my kind of airplane, and the price is very reasonable.
Thanks for the kind words!
You know, it's funny that you would mention that. For starters, I'm a very conservative flyer, so I hardly crash -- frankly, I wish I were more of a risk-taker and not be so worried about not crashing.
More interesting, though, is that the day I took the Double Time out for video, I crashed every other plane I had in the trunk -- from rough landings on a 1919 Monoplane to a blown-away helicopter to a tip-stall-then-you-know-what-happens next on my LoLo.
And then I fly this uber-durable plane, and what happens? Nothing! The belly-up landings was the worst that happened to it. Go figure!
It is a very reasonably-priced plane, indeed -- and the good thing is that most people have spare servos and motors and ESCs that would easily fit this plane, since it handles any standard electronics.
Well heck, Napo, you went and raised the bar for our upcoming review of the Double Time's single-winged little brother, the Quick Time. We kind of wish you'd phoned this one in - it would make our review look a lot better! Dagnabbit!
We'll maiden ours as soon as it stops raining. Hope it flies as well as the Double Time!
Hopefully you'll do better than me on the video, though -- and that won't be hard. The ironic thing is, yesterday I took the Double Time out, and I was able to hover like crazy as well as do a whole lot of other tricks out there. It's funny how much differently a plane handles after you're done shooting the video and writing the review!
And yes, two is always better than one.
I like mine *I haven't flown it in a few weeks, but it definitely is one fun flier, and I have to say it's a nice 3D plane with a bit of a forgiving nature. It hovers quite well, too. It's quite stable in that sense, once you get the hang of it...
Germany, NRW, Dusseldorf
Joined Apr 2008
My Double Time is waiting for construction in the box, but after I read this, I almost can't wait any longer. I saw this little flyer in a helicopter store and instantly knew, this was it! I have another plane, the Sukhoi from Kyosho made of EPP, which is a great material not only for beginners. Crash resistant and easy to repair. This bird required the same changes in motormount and chassis to be perfect. Right now, a little Simprop Cap 231 EX houses all the high-class equipment, 2,4GHz Futaba receiver, complete Dualsky esc./motor/battery-unit and HiTec Carbonites, but this model did not work right. I had to change and fix several constuctional faults, until it did neutral like it should.
I will fly it until it finally bursts into pieces, but allthough I say this, every time something happens, I fix it again and again, reminds me of Sisyphus.
If my constant gluing action leads to a weight over 600gramms, I will stop, I promise.
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