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Great Planes Reactor GP/EP 3D ARF 58" Review

Steve Davidson gives his reactions to the Great Planes Reactor!

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Introduction

 Great Planes Reactor GP/EP 3D ARF
Great Planes Reactor GP/EP 3D ARF
Wingspan:58"
Wing Area:745 sq. in.
Weight:5.25 - 6.16 lb. (5.94 lb. as tested)
Length:59"
Wing Loading:16-18 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:(5) Futaba S3102 Servo Aircraft Micro Metal Gears
Transmitter:Futaba 6EX
Receiverr:Futaba R617FS 2.4GHz FASST 7-Channel Receiver
Servo Synchronizer:Futaba MSA-10 Servo Synchronizer
Battery:Great Planes ElectriFly LiPo 11.1V 3200mAh 20C (Two in series for 6s)
Motor:Great Planes Rimfire 42-60-480 Brushless Out-Runner
ESC:Castle Creations Phoenix-60
External BEC:Dimension Engineering SportBEC
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:Great Planes distributors or your local hobby shop
Retail Price:$ 189.99

Great Planes has shifted gears to become a big player in the ever growing electric RC aircraft market, turning out some really great electric ARFs. The Great Planes Reactor 58" GP/EP 3D ARF is by far one of those great ARFs. The Reactor is a .46-.70 size glow or electric powered 3D plane for intermediate to advanced pilots. In addition to its 3D capabilities, the Reactor is a great precision flyer as well.

Kit Contents

The Reactor 58” GP/EP 3D arrived in great condition, and I was very impressed with how well all the parts were packaged to prevent damage during shipping. The covering on the Reactor was nearly perfect right out of the box. I did find that the graphics on the horizontal stab tried to pull off when removing some minor wrinkles, so start with a low temperature and work carefully.

The complete kit features:

  • Fantastic looking cover scheme
  • Airfoiled elevator and rudder surfaces
  • 2 piece wing design
  • Extensive hardware package
  • Precut and trimmed canopy

Items needed to complete:

  • 900-1200 watt brushless motor
  • 60A minimum ESC
  • External BEC or receiver battery
  • APC 15x8E or Xoar 16x8 Electric
  • (5) 50 oz. standard/mini servos (2 aileron, 2 elevator and 1 rudder)
  • 5s-6s LiPo battery pack capable of 60 amps continuous discharge
  • Radio capable of programming separate elevator halves or 6 channel radio with a mixer for the elevator.
  • 5 Mini Servos (2 aileron, 2 elevator and 1 rudder)

Items used for the Reactor review model:

  • Great Planes Rimfire 42-60-480 Brushless Out-Runner
  • Castle Creations Phoenix-60 ESC
  • Dimension Engineering Sport BEC
  • Great Planes ElectriFly LiPo 11.1V 3200mAh 20C (two in series for 6s)
  • Xoar 16x8 Electric Prop
  • (5) Futaba S3102 Mini Servos
  • Futaba 6EX
  • Futaba MSA-10 Servo Synchronizer

The Manual

Great planes has been in the ARF business for a long time so it was no surprise that the manual was laid out very well with photo-illustrations to help in the assembly process. It was easy to understand and at no time left me wondering.

Assembly

Wing

The Reactor wing is fully symmetrical and has a extremely tapered leading edge compared to most 3D wings.

Attaching the ailerons is very straightforward using standard CA hinges. To insure full deflection on 3D planes, I use zip ties to space the hinge gap and then seal the hinge line with Scotch MultiTask tape.

Each wing half is secured to the fuse using two hex head screws.

***STEVE'S DESIGN MODIFICATION***

The included wing tube is aluminum and weighed 2.5 oz, and I replaced it with a carbon fiber wing tube that weighed 2 oz. less. This is not a major issue as the Reactor would carry the extra 2 oz. just fine, but I had the tube, and I like to lighten my birds any chance I get.

Tail

The tail surfaces on the Reactor are easy and quick to install. The horizontal stab was a perfect fit, and therefore the fuselage did not require any additional sanding to make the stab parallel with the wing. The tail surfaces are airfoiled, which aids in the Reactor 's outstanding flight performance. I used the stock servo arms that came with the Futaba 3102 metal gear servo for the elevator and rudder setup. They provide full 3D deflections.

Landing Gear, Wheel Pants, Wheels and Tail Wheel

The Reactor landing gear and wheel pants look as fantastic as the rest of the plane. Installation is very straightforward.

Motor/ESC Installation

I also chose to install an arming switch to allow me to mount the batteries plugged in with the bottom hatch attached. This comes in handy since the batteries mount from the bottom. When it's time to fly, I simply turn on the transmitter and plug in the arming switch.

Receiver, BEC and Servo Synchronizer

The receiver and servo synchronizer are installed under the canopy deck. The manual instructs you to cut the covering on three sides and peel back from the deck, and reattach the covering after installing the radio equipment. I chose to remove the covering and then apply black trim sheet to give a black interior to match the included decals. The receiver used for the review has been discontinued and the suitable replacement is the Futaba R617FS 2.4GHz FASST 7-Channel Receiver.

I installed the Sport BEC just aft of the ESC above the bottom hatch.

After installing and connecting the receiver, BEC and servo synchronizer, I applied the included instrument panel decal and a piece of black trim sheet over the deck.

Finishing Touches

The Reactor comes with a very nice pre cut and trimmed canopy that is attached to the fuselage using provided screws. I was happy to see that the canopy was already cut out because I don't enjoy cutting out canopies.

The Reactor cowl is very sturdy and has plenty of air cooling for the motor.

The battery hatch is located on the bottom and is secured with magnets.

Posing Time

Ready for maiden.

The boys and their toys.

WOW... this plane looks awesome!

I'm very pleased with the appearance of the finished Reactor. The color scheme looks great, there are no visibility issues in the air, and it's easy to distinguish top from bottom.

Power Talk

I'm very happy with the power setup on the Reactor. I had my doubts that the 9.5 oz. Rimfire 42-60-480 was up to the task, but it has proven me wrong. The Great Planes ElectriFly LiPos (two 11.1V 3200 mAh 20C in series for 6s) are holding voltage well to supply plenty of electrons to the Rimfire motor, which provides more than enough power to 3D the Reactor with authority. Just make sure you use the supplied wheel collar and attach it to the shaft right next to the retaining ring as the retaining ring could pull away from the groove as it did on my setup. I really like the Xoar 16x8 electric wood prop and find it to be very efficient. The Reactor came in at an all up weight of 95 oz - that calculates to 191 watts per pound! See data from static testing below.

ESC Specs

 Castle Creations Phoenix-60
Castle Creations Phoenix-60
Type: Brushless Sensorless Speed Control
Current: 60A continuous max w/proper airflow
Lipo Cells w/ internal BEC: 3s max
Lipo Cells w/ external BEC and internal BEC disabled: 6s max
Weight: 2.0 oz
Size: 1.05 x 2.35 x 0.45"

Motor Specs

 Rimfire 42-60-480
Rimfire 42-60-480
Type: Brushless Outrunner
Recommended Prop Range: 13x10E - 20x10E
Voltage: 11.1V to 22.2V
RPM/Volt (Kv): 480
Weight: 9.5 oz
Operating Current: 45 A
Maximum Burst Current: 80A
Cells: 3-6S Li-Po
Max Constant Watts: 830W
Max Surge Watts: 1480W

Lipo Specs (***two required in series***)

 Great Planes ElectriFly LiPo 11.1V 3200mAh 20C
Great Planes ElectriFly LiPo 11.1V 3200mAh 20C
Type: Lithium Polymer
Capacity: 3200 mAh
Rated Voltage: 11.1V
Max Charge Voltage: 12.6V
Continuous Discharge Current: 64A (20C)
Pack Dimensions: 145 mmX48 mmX24 mm (5.7"X1.9"X.94")
Weight: 9.52 oz (270 grams)

Power Graph

Flying

Recommended control surface throws:
Low RateHigh Rate 3D Rate
Ailerons 1" up/down 2" up/down 3" up/down
Elevator 7/16" up/down 7/8" up/down 2" up/down
Rudder 1" right/left 4" right/left 4" right/left

I only used two rates because the Futaba 6EX only allows two rates.

Control setups that I am using on the Reactor 58” GP/EP 3D:
Low RateHigh Rate
Ailerons 2" up/down 3" up/down
Elevator 1" up/down 2 1/2" up/down
Rudder 4" right/left 4 1/2" right/left

The recommended starting CG per the Reactor Instruction Manual is 4 3/4" from the leading edge of the top of the wing checked inverted. I'm currently flying the Reactor at a CG of 5 3/4" which is just slightly tail heavy (pitches up slightly when inverted). I also flew the Reactor at a CG of 5 3/4" in the video included in this review.

The Basics, Including Take-Off and Landing

The first thing I noticed when I maidened the Reactor is how incredibly smooth the plane flies and how precisely it tracks. Takeoffs are a simple matter of applying gradual throttle and a small amount of rudder to maintain straight tracking. With just under 200 watts/#, the Reactor is airborne in 20 feet or less. The roll rate is extremely fast, and rolls are axial. Inverted flight requires just a touch of up elevator which I fully expected with my slightly aft CG. The CG can be adjusted forward for more of a precision/aerobatic setup if desired.

Landing the Reactor is easy because the plane slows so well. Keeping a little throttle on during final will produce a smooth touchdown every time. The Reactor has no bad tendencies even close to stall speed, and I found that it would simply drop its nose after stalling.

3D Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The Reactor is really at home performing 3D maneuvers. I could not believe how tight this plane waterfalls and knife edge spins, and the pitch authority is simply outstanding. In addition to its tumbling ability, it excels in every other department, from knife edge to hovering.

I have included a report card showing some of the many maneuvers I have flown with the Reactor and how I rated each of them. The Reactor is truly a versatile airframe as it allows the pilot the ability to fly 3D and precision simply by changing the rates and/or CG. Please keep in mind that this report card is subjective and based on my flying skills and previous experience.

The Reactor 58” GP/EP 3D Aerobatic/Precision Report Card



ManeuverGrade Notes
Snaps A Snaps are fast and easy.
Knife Edge A+ Very little if any coupling. The Reactor performs great in knife edge.
High Alpha Knife Edge A With the fuselage side area and huge rudder, not much rudder is needed to perform cleanly.
Knife Edge Snaps A+ Very easy to perform with the Reactor and locks back in to knife edge cleanly after the snap.
Waterfalls A The Reactor waterfalls nice and tight with little effort. It will waterfall with full power or power on only to bring it through the inverted transition.
Spins A Does them great upright and inverted. Power is required to flatten them out.
Point Rolls A I find it easier on low rates due to the huge ailerons and throw on high rate.
Knife Edge Spins A+ The Reactor does sweet knife edge spins. This is my favorite maneuver with the Reactor.
Hover A The Reactor is extremely stable and locks in very nicely.
Harriers A- If I lock in from the beginning, they are the best harriers I've performed. But if I induce any wing rock, I find myself chasing the wing rock.
Hammerheads A Plenty of rudder throw makes this maneuver very fun to fly.
Blenders A Another effortless maneuver with the Reactor. Finish it off in an inverted flat spin.
Elevators A Excellent upright and inverted.
Falling Leaf A Oh so easy with the Reactor.

Is This For a Beginner?

The Reactor is definitely not for a beginner. The Reactor is probably best suited as a 3rd plane once the pilot can handle a low or mid wing sport/aerobatic plane. A pilot who is 100% confident with an aileron trainer might be able handle the Reactor just fine on low rates and forward CG, and as the pilot gained confidence, he/she could gradually dial in higher rates and eventually move the CG aft for aerobatic and 3D flying.

Photo Gallery/Flight Video

Downloads

Conclusion

The Great Planes Reactor 58” GP/EP 3D is an awesome 3D/precision aircraft. The great covering scheme, awesome flight characteristics and reasonable price make the Great Planes Reactor an excellent value. The pluses of this aircraft by far outweigh any of the minuses. While definitely not a beginner plane, it is well suited to a beginner 3D pilot by simply dialing down the rates and keeping the CG neutral. Great Planes was spot on when it designed the Reactor!

Pluses:

  • Fantastic covering scheme
  • Outstanding 3D flight performance
  • Airfoiled elevator and rudder surfaces
  • Pre cut and trimmed canopy

Minuses:

  • Must be extremely careful when ironing out wrinkles over the trim sections
  • Batteries mount from bottom instead of removable canopy/hatch
Last edited by Angela H; Aug 04, 2008 at 08:14 PM..

Discussion

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Old Aug 04, 2008, 10:06 PM
When's the next fly-in?
dee-grose's Avatar
Tanner, Alabama
Joined Oct 2003
6,439 Posts
Steve, great review and a really nice job on the video.

Andy
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 10:32 PM
Suspended Account
Joined Feb 2007
514 Posts
really gotta say thx to you for this one................since i got back into flying last year after a 15 year layoff, i have been eyeballing this bird for a loooooong time...............all inquiries about it have returned so much negative feedback that i have held off. it's obviouse now though that the plane must have fallen into the hands of a few hackers that didn't have a clue on how to shrink the covering or take care in the assembly process..............nice to see this plane built by someone who knows how to build, not to mention, is a great flyer to boot.
nice video, and really nice to see how fast it went to fly, land, rearm with new juice and then take off agian in a very short time.
i just got into electrics this past month and while i really like it, i think i would like to go gas on this one..............something about a screamin 2 stroke with this bird just keeps naggin at me.

great job, and perfect timing.
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 10:48 PM
**************
davidsons's Avatar
Allen, Texas
Joined Feb 2004
3,520 Posts
Thanks Andy!

Steve
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 10:50 PM
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davidsons's Avatar
Allen, Texas
Joined Feb 2004
3,520 Posts
Summerwind,

Thanks for the nice comments. Glad you enjoyed the review.

Let us know how you like the IC version.

Steve
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 07:08 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
Steve, outstanding! Your flying skills are wonderful to watch. A+ on your review top to bottom. Thanks for doing this.
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 08:39 AM
Aerodynamically challenged
3Deranged's Avatar
3D World, Florida
Joined May 2005
3,183 Posts
Here's an old thread I started a while back:
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=607141
Video of my friend Blake putting Reactor thru it's paces:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FFZpSs5GLA
Don't know why more folks haven't tried out this decent sized plane, it's been out a while. Depending on motor selection, you can go 5s or 6s.
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 08:42 AM
Registered User
txfly's Avatar
frisco,tx
Joined Oct 2003
1,911 Posts
wow, that was fast
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 08:47 AM
Registered User
txfly's Avatar
frisco,tx
Joined Oct 2003
1,911 Posts
i flew my reactor last night. still one of my favorite planes. there was hints given in another thread about a possible 10-12 s reactor!
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 10:10 AM
I hate waiting for parts
Mike_Then's Avatar
United States, NC, Garner
Joined Apr 2001
6,858 Posts
Excellet review! I have one of these planes with a Hacker A50 outrunner, 5s 5000 mAh, 16x8 APC-e prop. I think I had a 15x10 on it before and the plane was literally too fast and didn't hover well. I switched to the 16x8 and the peed went down, the climb went way up, and the amps even went down a little. A friend has repaired my rudder as I tore it out of the plane during a "how low can you fly inverted" contest....

The only mod I had to make was to the battery tray. It started to crack around the edges, most likely due to the stresses of trying to hold on to that big 5s 5000 pack! I glued a nice thick lite ply tray for reinforcement and easily resolved that problem.

Thanks for the insight! Now that I see what the plane is capable of in the hands of a competent pilot, I will try some of the maneuvers you have described...
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 11:12 AM
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davidsons's Avatar
Allen, Texas
Joined Feb 2004
3,520 Posts
78dave - Thanks a bunch!

txfly - a 10-12s Reactor would be awesome.

edfrules - thanks for posting additional video and yes, it's a good 5s or 6s plane depending on the motor. Kirby has his set up with a Hacker B50 13s, 6.7:1 and running 5s and the power is great.

Mike_Then - thanks for the positive comments. The battery tray in the review plane is holding up perfectly to the weight of the ElectriFly 6s 3200's and as you can see, the plane has been thrown around in the air pretty violently. I bet the 5s 5000 packs are much heavier than the 6s 3200's

Thanks again everyone!
Steve
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 11:48 AM
War Eagle!
Spackles94's Avatar
Birmingham, Alabama
Joined Feb 2007
7,876 Posts
Very, very nice video. Extremely well-edited.

Nice flying, too! You really put it to the test, didn't you?
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 12:19 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,301 Posts
Steve, buddy.. That's how a review's supposed to be done man! That rocks.. Thanks for raising the bar!

I gotta know - what kinda camera are you using? I am stuck in the 90's camera technology and need to bump it up me thinks...

Great review man!

Jeff
www.CommonSenseRC.com
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 12:43 PM
When's the next fly-in?
dee-grose's Avatar
Tanner, Alabama
Joined Oct 2003
6,439 Posts
I'm with you guys. Steve's video is top-notch. Very clear and very creative camera angles made it a fun video to watch.

Andy
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 01:10 PM
Aerodynamically challenged
3Deranged's Avatar
3D World, Florida
Joined May 2005
3,183 Posts
Yep, converted to an innie later on in the thread. Neu 1509 2.5D/6.7:1 GB,5s packs. That's a fun setup. Gotta love that Merlinesque gearbox sound
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsons
edfrules - thanks for posting additional video and yes, it's a good 5s or 6s plane depending on the motor. Kirby has his set up with a Hacker B50 13s, 6.7:1 and running 5s and the power is great.
Steve
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