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Great Planes E-Performance Series EP 3D Reactor Bipe ARF

Would you like a plane that is both ultra-strong and capable of extreme 3D and aerobatic maneuvers? Small enough to fit in your car fully assembled and ready to rip at a moments notice, the Reactor Bipe arrives on scene as the third plane in the Reactor series.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:35"
Wing Area:600 sq. in.
Weight:34.2 - 38.2 oz. (As built, 36.4 oz.)
Length:42"
Wing Loading:8.2 - 9.1 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Futaba S3114 Micro HT
Transmitter:Futaba 9CAP
Receiver:Futaba R156F
Battery:Great Planes ElectriFly LiPo 11.1V 2100mAh 20C
Motor:Great Planes ElectriFly RimFire 35-36-1200 Brushless Outrunner
ESC:ElectriFly Silver Series 35 amp Brushless Electronic Speed Control
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:Great Planes distributors or your local hobby shop.
Retail Price:$149.97

The Reactor Bipe is the third plane in the Reactor series. It is marketed as being slightly larger and stronger than a park flyer (and thus capable of better tracking, especially in windy conditions) and as being capable of transitioning effortlessly between 3D and precision aerobatics. Its finish is very contemporary and eye-catching thanks to the combined use of four different dazzling Monokote trim colors.

Kit Contents

The box contains an interesting variety of expected and unexpected pieces and parts. Great Planes includes several notable niceties including a custom balancing jig made of light ply, a wing assembly jig that helps ensure perfect wing assembly and alignment and a complete set of composite construction hardware.

The Reactor Bipe assembly manual is very comprehensive and complete and is worth reading from cover to cover. It includes a lot of extra information, such as expected amp draws with different props and a paper template to set the proper angle of the upper wing carbon reinforcing rod as well as pointers on flying different 3D maneuvers.

I was surprised at the number of components that Great Planes managed to stuff into the box. All of it was well packed and nothing came out of the box with any sign of damage. I was especially impressed with the fiberglass work and the deep metallic paint finish applied to several of the included parts. The finish looked as if it was a dozen coats thick but there were no runs or imperfections found at all.

What IS in the box:

  • Complete airframe precovered with four color Monokote color scheme
  • Fiberglass cowl, wheel pants, upper wing strut and landing gear
  • Set of foam wheels for main gear
  • Complete set of carbon fiber push rods
  • Spinner
  • Tinted canopy
  • Ply wing struts precovered in white Monokote
  • Decal sheet
  • Assembly manual
  • One tree of long servo horns, sized for two different sized servo splines
  • Light Ply wing alignment jig and balance stand. (assembly required)
  • Accessory bag containing Velcro for battery attachment, lower wing joiners, ply motor mount, wrench for fastening axles to wheel pants, assorted hardware, etc.

You’ll need:

  • Four micro servos
  • Minimum four channel radio system
  • Brushless motor
  • Brushless speed controller
  • Lipoly battery
  • 12 inch servo extensions
  • Prop

Supplied by Great Planes for this review:

  • ElectriFly RimFire 35-36-1200 Brushless Outrunner Electric Motor
  • ElectriFly Silver Series 35 amp Brushless Electronic Speed Control
  • ElectriFly Power Series Lithium Polymer 2100mAh 11.1V 20C
  • Futaba S3114 Micro High Torque Servos (four)
  • APC E 10x7 prop
  • Two 12 inch servo extensions

Assembly

Wing

Page ten of the assembly manual covers the mounting of the upper wing strut, and it instructs you to insert the 5X120 mm carbon strut that will eventually slide up into the top wing and get glued in place. Step two instructs you to insert the little indexing pin into the fuselage and glue it with CA. I used thin CA and apparently over applied it.

When instructed to push the 5X120 mm carbon rod up into the upper wing, I could not budge mine. Apparently a little CA had run down through the small indexing pin hole and found it's way to the 5X120 mm rod. The end result was that I could not slide this large carbon rod up into the upper wing, so be careful when gluing the "indexing" pin for the upper wing strut may be in order and be very sparing with the CA.

There are two lower wing joiners that will connect the two halves of the lower wing. I really liked the way Great Planes constructed these two pieces. They are ply, but they have thick carbon fiber bar stock as edges. There is an addendum to the manual that gives the assembler a heads up that these two joiners are not identical, so they are not interchangeable and must be inserted into the correct slots.

Since the assembly manual details the use of 30 minute epoxy when inserting these joiners, the lower wing is obviously not meant to be removable. I personally do not have any problems with the permanence of the two wings. Overall, the Reactor Bipe is not so large that this is a problem, and once you complete the attachment of the wings, they are once and for all perfectly aligned and at the right incidences. The included wing assembly jig all but guarantees that you will achieve this perfection.

Fuselage

I really endorse the use of small rare earth magnets for cowl and battery access cover retention. I have been using them on many of my models, and when optimally aligned, their holding power is hard to beat. Great Planes has chosen to utilize this type of retention, and they do a good job with it. Both the cowl and the battery access hatch on the forward bottom part of the fuselage employ several small magnets. They are aligned very well at the factory and will respond with a crisp "snap" when placed anywhere near their proper position.

The landing gear mounts into what looks to be a very sturdy, reinforced and robust part of the fuselage. It would appear that Great Planes has designed the Reactor Bipe to take more than the normal amount of abuse on those less than perfect landings. Peering into the area of the fuselage where the landing gear attaches, you will see several ply reinforcing braces. The landing gear attaches to several hardwood sticks that are tied into these ply braces. The end result is a very structurally robust lower fuselage.

The lightweight but easily adjustable carbon fiber push rods are all included. When assembling and installing them, take care to orient the locking screws so that they are easily accessible with a micro screwdriver.

Tail

It's not a tail wheel, it's a tail washer. Same number of syllables, same overall function but a slightly different approach to achieving it. Some may feel the need to retrofit it to the former, but doing so will require a slight reworking of the rear underbelly of the fuselage. And truth be told, it probably is not really necessary. The power system pulls hard enough that the time spent in the take off roll will probably be less than the time it takes for an exotic European automobile to go from 0 to 60. And for those scant few seconds, the massive amount of rudder deflection should provide plenty of control to keep it pointed right down the center line.

The wheel axle hardware is different than what I have seen before but I really like the way it goes together. It is a new approach. Great Planes uses hollow precision machined axles that are threaded internally. There are no wheel collars. Instead, you slide a wheel onto the axle and then secure it by threading a small screw with a flat washer into the internal threads of the axle. A little thread lock should ensure that it does not come loose.

Electronics

As I began to populate the airframe with the electronics and power system, there were several items worth noting. It is necessary to bring the leads for the two aft mounted servos forward for connection to the receiver. This is done with the recommended 12 inch servo extensions. There is definite variation in the length of the servo leads that come on the different manufacturers’ servos. The problem is that the combination of the Futaba 3114 servo lead with a 12 inch extension just barely reaches the receiver compartment on the Reactor Bipe, and going up in size to an 18 inch extension would result in a relatively huge wad of excess servo leads stuffed into the rear of the fuselage.

The included motor mount adapter is designed to work specifically with the Great Planes motor listed. The dimensions of the recommended RimFire 35-36-1200 were obviously taken into consideration when the firewall and motor box were laid out. It fits perfectly, and the spinner backplate to cowl clearance is just right. I also really liked the way the Electrifly 35 ESC slid into the thin cavity that exists just above the battery area. Great Planes also provides and recommends a two stage Velcro retention system to ensure that the battery does not suddenly shift position during the extreme maneuvers this plane is sure to experience.

Completion

I was happy to see my CG balance dead on to where the assembly manual said it should. It is advantageous to use the recommended gear for this plane. If you do, there will so many little details that will work out perfectly. The plane was obviously designed around the recommended Electrifly Rimfire outrunner and battery.

Flight Performance

The Rimfire 35-36-1200 is rated as being a 666 watt motor. It can accommodate any number of props, from a 9x4.5 E all the way up to a 11x7 E. It will happily accept input voltage from 11.1 to 14.8 volts. The maximum current it will sustain is listed at 45 amps, with temporary surges to 55 amps possible. When feeding it with the Electrifly 11.1 volt 2100 mAh 20C battery, it spins a 10x7 E prop at just a touch under 9,000 RPM and pulls 30 amps. This setup is not really working this motor very hard at all but it keeps the overall weight down.

Taking Off and Landing

I knew before I ever taxied out for my first take off that that very short take off rolls would be possible with this plane and power system. The winds were blustery and a slight cross wind component existed on the evening I decided to take her out for a spin. I abandoned the long take off roll concept the instant I heard the sound of the tail washer on the two laned asphalt road where I did my first flights. Subsequent take offs and landings saw me carry the plane instead of taxing it any further than I absolutely had to, since it is tantamount to the sound of someone running their fingernails down a blackboard.

My next outing had me flying off of a runway composed of a plastic tarpaulin stretched out tight and anchored. On this surface, the sound of the washer was not the least bit audible.

As expected, the huge rudder provides all of the authority you will ever need to swing the fuselage around while on the ground. The ground tracking is straight and true. It takes a very light touch on the rudder, even on high rates, to keep the Reactor Bipe pointed right down the center of the double yellows.

The slow speed performance of this plane is absolutely outstanding! With a slight headwind, I was able to float it in and settle ever so lightly on the mains and washer. It will slow to a walking pace, with no sign of any tendency to drop a wing tip. If you find yourself a little short of the threshold, it will only require one or two clicks of throttle to extend the approach until you are over the numbers.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The Nintendo generation seems to have a real knack for flying 3D without even trying. Well, in the same way that you would perhaps line up to buy a hot new title for your Xbox or PS3, I suggest you snag a place at the front of the line to grab a Reactor Bipe because the moment you bury the throttle stick full forward, it just "feels" oh so right.

This one is capable of anything you want it to do. It is heavier than the typical park flyer, weighing in at two and a quarter pounds, and it is definitely sturdier than many park flyers. The airfoils are thin allowing the Reactor Bipe to retain a lot of energy. The huge control surfaces give ample deflection to throw it heartily into any maneuver you desire.

As one who is continuing to slowly develop my aerobatic and 3D skills, I instantly fell in love with this one. The Rimfire is a great match for this airframe and provides ample power to not only hold a hover nicely, but to punch out when things go a little wrong. Knife edge takes but a touch of rudder and the coupling is minimal. I kept over applying the rudder and climbing on my knife edge attempts leading me to believe that it just might be possible to knife edge loop this one. The fuselage's thin dimension and taper bears homage to pattern designs, though in a much smaller package. Even in a fairly gusty wind, the Reactor showed amazing stability. High alpha flight is stable, with nary a wing rock evident. Taking it up high, killing the throttle completely and applying full up elevator results in a beautiful elevator. Snaps on high rates are violent enough to land you a night in the pokey on wanton destruction charges, but the Reactor airframe does it all without complaining.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery


Video:The Great Planes Reactor Bipe rocks the house!


High Definition Video: The Great Planes Reactor Bipe rocks the house in HD!

Is This For a Beginner?

Absolutely not. One has but to look at the lines and airfoils on the Reactor Bipe to discern that it was designed for high performance aerobatic and 3D flying. It retains energy very well, and at full throttle, it accelerates very quickly. On high rates, it will perform multiple rolls faster than you can say WOW! Though it seems to possess no bad habits and will slow to almost a crawl when landing, beginning pilots would probably find themselves overwhelmed within seconds of grabbing the sticks.

However, if you are comfortable flying a plane that will maintain any orientation or direction until given a new command, the Reactor Bipe may be for you.

Conclusion

Great Planes churns out a regular supply of excellent ARFs and kits each year but I predict that this one will be a noteworthy offering for the 2008 flying year. It is somewhat contemporary in design and quite sleek. It appears efforts have been taken to design solutions to some of the common complaints aired by many pilots when it comes to their planes. The quality is superb and the build is short and sweet. Great Planes obviously devoted quality engineering man-hours to this design and the finished product is outstanding. In my opinion, this plane would justify a name change from Great Planes to Perfect Planes!

Pluses:

  • Incredible flight performance envelope
  • Very complete kit
  • Gorgeous fiberglass parts with deep metallic paint finish
  • Beefy, reinforced landing gear mounting on fuselage
  • Four color Monokote covering scheme pops
  • Cowl and battery hatch retention via rare earth magnets
  • Nice added bonus of plywood wing jig and balance jig
  • Wings are permanently attached, and the Reactor Bipe is ready to go as soon as you pull it out of your vehicle

Minuses:

  • The tail washer is really the only part of the Reactor Bipe that I personally growled about a little. When flying of of grass or a "soft" runway, it goes unnoticed. Flying off of pavement will have you wishing for a set of ear plugs
  • Wings are permanently attached, which could be a small problem for those who drive the smallest vehicles available

Last edited by Bajora; Mar 31, 2008 at 03:29 PM..

Discussion

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Old Mar 31, 2008, 07:35 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,616 Posts
And as usual, I want to thank all of the folks who help me on these reviews. Terry, Errol ... you guys are such a huge help to me. Thanks!
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 07:45 PM
don't feed the zombies!
myplanesfearme's Avatar
ERAU in Prescott, AZ
Joined Feb 2007
333 Posts
Nice looking review- downloading video as I type. I'm pretty strapped right now, but if I could I'd have one. I love that color selection too!

Ryan
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 07:47 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,616 Posts
I'll fess up that I had mixed feelings about the colors when I first saw them in print/online but after seeing them in person and especially in the air ... SHABAM! I LOVE 'em!

BTW, my folks used to live over the "hill" from you in Clarkdale. My mom now keeps a winter home in Cottonwood. And I can honestly say that I have been to Prescott, AZ a time or two.
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 07:52 PM
Timelord
Doctor Who's Avatar
USA, IN, Muncie
Joined Mar 2002
2,412 Posts
Jon

Great job on the video, what video camera are you using?
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 07:56 PM
don't feed the zombies!
myplanesfearme's Avatar
ERAU in Prescott, AZ
Joined Feb 2007
333 Posts
Awesome video! That's a gorgeous flying site. Right now I'm not very fond of Prescott due to ~20mph wind the last several days... I'm originally from the California foothills too (Murphys, in Calaveras Co.), I'm in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott right now.
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 07:59 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,616 Posts
Jay, it's the Canon HV20.

Tnx.
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 08:22 PM
WARNING: May contain spam
Xpress..'s Avatar
Joined Oct 2007
20,933 Posts
Love the review. Good details. These reviews make me mad beause I don't have the plane that they get all excited over
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 08:47 PM
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pda4you's Avatar
USA, TX, Trophy Club
Joined May 2002
14,476 Posts
Who is that amazingly ugly guy holding your airplane in the field?



Love the HD.......

Great review -- I DO NOT NEED another airplane.....repeat three times.....

Mike
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 09:10 PM
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Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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A 116MB video? I'll download it while I'm sleeping as my connection is slowwwww. Mike
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 09:19 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,298 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Heer
A 116MB video? I'll download it while I'm sleeping as my connection is slowwwww. Mike
YOu still riding the dial-up wave?
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 09:58 PM
wine country wing nut
BlueSkyRiderX's Avatar
United States, CA, Sonoma
Joined Mar 2005
388 Posts
Hey Jon,

Congradulations on yet another outstanding review. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting stills and video using your new equipment. It definite helped push the quality to the next level. When I am ready for another bipe, I will put this one at the top of my list.
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 10:15 PM
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LuckyDay's Avatar
Nashville, TN
Joined Jan 2006
994 Posts
My brother went to Embry-Riddle! He's on C-130s now. I've had the joy of piloting the sim at his base a time or two.

Always like your reviews, Jon. Although if you are not from the South, there's no reason "tail wheel" and "tail washer" should have the same number of syllables!
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 10:52 PM
KK6MQJ
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Joined Sep 2004
13,616 Posts
But I am from the south! South Akron!

Thanks!
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 11:46 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,024 Posts
Jon, Nice review and video. Love that color scheme! I'm usually not much of a bipe fan, but this Reactor Bipe may change my mind.
Mike McD
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