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MSComposit Semi-Scale EPP Cap 232 ARF Review

Jeff Williams shows us why EPP and low and slow aerobatics make for a winning combination, this time with a semi-scale, great looking and handling 64" Cap 232!

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Introduction


Wingspan:64" (1620 mm)
Weight:49 - 60 oz (1400 -1700g)
Length:53.5" (1360 mm)
Servos:Hitec HS81MG x 4
Transmitter:Futaba 9CAP
Receiver:Hitec Electron 6
Battery:Flight Power 4S3700
Motor:AXI 2820/12
ESC:Jeti Opto 70 Plus
BEC:Common Sense RC 6V XBEC
Manufacturer:MSComposit
Available From:MSComposit
Retail Price:$245.00

Some of the most exciting and challenging flying is that which involves a perceived risk to the plane. Much of this flying takes place very close to the ground at attitudes that are at best... unusual. With this flying comes a learning curve that can exact quite a price on a beginner aircraft; low and slow are great, until you get too low and too slow (usually leading to the dreaded "rekit"). Thanks to MSComposit, this is no longer an issue. With the recent advent of "bounceable" planes, MSComposit has produced a semi-scale Cap 232 in this "crash resistant" medium that will ease the fear factor of learning to get wild down on the deck.

Kit Contents

The kit comes packaged very nicely in a much larger box than I had expected (I guess 64" worth of EPP just didn't register with me).

Once I got the box opened, I was greeted with some wonderful looking foam bits; MSComposit has perfected the art of applying graphics to EPP foam.

Accessories needed to complete the Cap:

  • Motor: I used an Axi Gold Line 2820/10 brushless motor provided by MSComposit for this review.
  • Prop adapter: You'll need a radial mount and a prop adapter for this motor (which MSComposit provided for this review).
  • Speed controller: I used both a Jeti Spin 44 and a Jeti Advance 70 Plus, again provided by MSComposit for this review. Explanations of why both setups were used will follow.
  • Propeller: I have tried several props on the Cap and have settled on the APC 12x6E or APC 13x4E props as my current favorites. Note: You can buy the whole power system as a combo from MSCompositUSA.
  • Battery: Again, two different setups were tried in the Cap. MSComposit provided both Flight Power 3S 2500 and 4S 3700 packs.
  • BEC: I am using the Common Sense XBEC to power all four of the HS81's.
  • Four micro servos: Hitec HS81MG's have been working flawlessly in this aircraft.
  • Receiver: Any four channel receiver will work. The ailerons are separate servos, so if going with a 4 channel, a Y will have to be used between them. I went with a Hitec Electron 6.
  • Servo extensions: The elevator and rudder servos are mounted in the tail and need roughly 30" of servo extensions.
  • Glues: The manual recommends CA glues for the build. Knowing I had planned on getting low and silly with this plane, I wanted to keep my glue joints flexible so they would bend, rather than break when I turfed the Cap, so I used one of my favorite EPP glues, Welder. I have been having really good luck with Welder, which is available at your home improvement warehouse. If you canít find it, shoot me a message and we'll get you some.
  • Assorted building tools. Xacto, screwdrivers, straight edge, etc. One thing to remember: when working with EPP - dull Xacto blades are a no no - use the sharpest blade you can.

Assembly

The Cap has the ability to go together as fast as the applied glue can dry. Being an EPP kit, much of the glue used is contact cement, so the build goes together very quickly. If you got your kit on a Tuesday and were able to spend a few nights on it, you could be wowing your buddies at the flying field on Saturday.

The manual is decent, but there were a few moments that had me scratching my head as to what to do exactly. However, the text combined with pictures was a great help. One thing I really liked about the manual were all the precise measurements. Every cut that must be made has a precise measurement from X or Y to allow the builder to locate the spot properly. The manual could have been more clearly written, but anyone who has built a kit or two before should have no issues. The manual is available for download here.

Wing

Building the wing is a relatively simple process, and with no ailerons to hinge, it is fairly quick. Like most kits, the wing comes in two halves. Before joining these halves, a small portion of the wing must be removed to allow the wing to sit underneath the fuselage. Cutting out the wing portions was no problem with the manual's measurements and a brand new Xacto blade.

The fiberglass rods add much needed stiffness to the flexible foam wing. I marked out the dimensions included in the manual, and using a brand new Xacto blade,my 36" straight edge and some blue painters tape, I cut two slots into the wing for the fiberglass rods. Once the slits were cut, I coated a Popsicle stick with Welder glue and lubed the slots and then laid the fiberglass rods into the wing.

I have found the best way for working with EPP is to trace out the servo you are installing, and use a soldering iron tip to melt away the foam into the shape of the servo you are going to install. This, combined with some adhesive, makes for a very sure and sturdy servo installation.

AXI GOLD LINE 2820/12 SPECS

RPM per Volt 930 RPM/V
Max. Efficiency with ESC 82%
Max. Efficiency Current 15-25 A
Max. Loading 37 A/60 s
No load Current 12V 1,5 A
Internal resistance 59mohm
Dimensions 35x48 mm
Shaft Diameter 5 mm
Weight 152 g
Recommended model weight 1000-2500g
Propeller range (direct drive) 10 cells 11x7 12 cells 10x6 14 cells 9x6

Fuselage

The fuse build was extremely simple. It is almost as easy as sticking the two fuse halves together. The fuse halves are almost solid EPP with the exception of the rear turtle decking. Into this solid foam we must allow space for the elevator and rudder servos extensions. I ran into some issues here.

The manual calls for a channel to be cut into the fuse halves for the extensions. When I saw this I instantly thought, "What happens if a servo dies?" It seemed to be a very permanent installation, but I forged ahead. I used a soldering iron to carve a slot into each fuse half for the wires. Once I had that done I laid in the servos and extensions and then covered the channels with blue painterís tape, so as to keep the glue from the joining process from gluing the extensions into the halves should I need to remove the servos later.

Well, Murphy, being the nice guy he is, showed me what I get for assuming that he'd let me slide by. I wound up having to remove one of the servos. Knowing I was going to have to replace the servo and the extensions, I used the "string tied to the servo plug" trick. It didn't work out so well. I wound up having to dissect my new Cap 232. Remember that brand new Xacto blade? I used it. I carefully cut along the glue joint and was able to separate the fuse with very little trouble.

After I had the servo removed, I started thinking further about how to route the servo extensions so as to avoid this in the future.

What if I..

  • Stripped a servo?
  • Killed a servo?
  • Etc..
  • Etc..

I began looking at alternate methods of installation. What I came up with was a trick I have learned from EPP builds: I simply took that brand new Xacto blade and my straightedge and put two very thin slits all along the bottom of the fuse until I came abreast of the servo location, then went vertical with the slit to hide the wires. I have an estimated 25 flights on this bird to date and have had zero issues with this installation.

Tail

The horizontal stab and elevators must be trimmed with a brand new Xacto blade,just like the wing. Once I trimmed the stab sections, it was time to glue them into place on the fuse.

I then trimmed again with abrand new Xacto blade, the vertical stab and rudder portion of the tail section to fit onto the fuselage per the instructions. I found this area to be one of the most critical areas of the build. The plane uses "live" hinges of EPP, so the vertical stab and rudder are all one unit. A portion of this unit must be cut away to allow the stab to be glued to the fuselage. I could see where an errant cut at this point of the build would be quite a headache, so take your time.

Finishing up the tail is the installation of the tailwheel. It is non-steerable and mounts directly into the bottom of the fuselage.

I then built up and installed the landing gear and the firewall. The landing gear simply slides into the respective slot, and the motor mount glues directly onto the "face" of the EPP nose of the fuse.

Radio Installation

With much of the major assemblies complete it was time to install the electronics. Following the manual, the rudder and elevator servos are installed first. Be sure when installing your control horns that you install them in a manner that will allow you to gain the most throw possible. One of my complaints with this bird was that I was unable to get enough elevator. All other surfaces get great throw, but the elevator needed some tweaking to gain the throw needed to keep the plane vertical in the hover.

After the installation of the tail servos, I moved on to the receiver, motor, battery and speed controller locations. The manual gives an idea of where to mount all of these items, and I used it as a guide to achieve proper CG. ESC/BEC location will vary with ESC and BEC used and CG location desired, as will the location for the battery pack. I used the included Flight Power packs as a template and cut out a section in the top of the fuse to lay the battery in. I have to admit, the "hooks" that came with the kit for battery retention at first had me a bit skeptical, but after using them, I am sold!

The receiver is embedded into the foam, which works great for protection. Once I had all the items installed into the plane, I noticed I had wires galore all over the place. I wanted to keep the wires from getting pinched when the wing was attached so with my Dremel, so I made a small "cubbyhole" for all the wires to go into.

Flying

In a word: Neat. I could not wait to get this bird into the air. I have built a few EPP aircraft, but this one had me really excited. Maybe it was because I knew I couldn't break it, I'm not sure. Being a 64" bird, I had wondered how much room it would need to fly but assumed that I could easily fly it out of my backyard (my backyard is bigger than most) but I am still confined by some obstacles, namely the neighbor's barbed wire fence (more on that later).

With the pack topped off and the winds favoring my "departure corridor" I took the Cap out and decided to give it a go. I pointed it into the wind and throttled up. Rotation came easy enough, and I was off and climbing. Once I had it up and flying in a nice circuit, I noticed it needed a little bit of elevator and rudder trim to keep her flying straight and level. After a few minutes of loafing around I decided to bang the sticks a bit. I do not consider myself any type of 3D pilot but more of an aggressive sport pilot, and the Cap did not disappoint me on this initial flight. I knew it was indeed going to be a fun bird. It was flying very well and had decent power for average sport flying. After a few minutes, I decided to bring her in and take a look at the trim issue.

I brought it back in and added a touch of right and down thrust to the motor with the help of a couple washers and headed back out. This proved to be just the ticket for straight and level flight.

Battery and ESC selection

As listed in the "what's needed to get it in the air" list, I noted that I used 2 different combos.

  • AXI 2820/12 paired with the Spin 44 and Flight Power 3S 2500.
  • AXI 2820/12 coupled with the Jeti Opto Plus 70, Common Sense RC XBEC and Flight Power 4S 3700.

Initial flights were with the Spin 44 and 3S 2500 setup. This setup provided plenty of power to fly the airplane very well in a typical sport manner, however, it essentially lacked the "punch" that would be needed to fly this bird in the manner that it was meant to fly. For me, a big, aerobatic, BOUNCEABLE airplane is meant to be flown one way... on the edge. I reasoned most who looked at bringing one of these home would be thinking the same, so I got on the horn with Brian and Henry at MSComposit and we worked something out: up the capacity for more flight time (the plane would have no issue carrying the weight), and add a cell to get the voltage and punch I was looking for. In days, the 4S setup showed up and was installed. Vrooom! Exactly what the doctor ordered!

These two choices both matched the airframe very well and should both be considered depending on what the planned mission for the Cap would be. If you plan on buzzing around the pattern in the normal sport flyer fashion (loops, rolls, hammerheads, stall turns, inverted flight, etc) then perhaps the Spin 44 and the 3S 2500 would be what you are looking for.

If you are planning on getting down on the deck and learning to hover, torque roll, or use it to practice any maneuvers down low, then I recommend the Opto 70 and the 4S setup.

A couple of Eagle Tree charts on the 4S setup show that max amps pulled were 55 amps on the 12x6, with only 49 amps are being pulled by the 13x4. These are my two favorite props for this setup. The 12x6 provides more speed while the 13x4 provides more thrust. I seem to fly the 12x6 setup the most.

Basics

With the trim sorted out the Cap flew very nicely. Rolls are pretty crisp considering the wing the Cap sports. Loops are of the standard "big-or-small-as-you'd-like-to-make-them" variety. Stalls and accompanying spins are a blast. I found myself doing nothing but steep stall turns back and forth in my backyard for almost an entire pack.

As far as the basics are concerned, the 232 has no issues covering them. It is an extremely stable platform for all the basic aerobatics.

The Cap is such a nice flying plane, I have been using it along with my FlyCamOne V2 to make aerial video. On low rates, it is an extremely easygoing airplane.

Taking Off and Landing

Getting the bird off and on the ground are a nonevent. The landing is a bit of an event, only because the Cap comes in sooo smoothly and gently that it's almost impossible not to goose it and "do it one more time."

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Being a semi-scale rendition of the Mudry Cap 232, aerobatics is where it is meant to excel, and that it does. While it is not an unlimited freestyle machine, it is a great aerobatic platform. One thing I did notice was that I kept having an issue with getting enough elevator throw to keep the pitch where I wanted it in a hover and other high alpha maneuvers. I resolved this by reworking my control arm linkage and control arm on the elevator. The stock configuration just does not allow for enough throw to toss the Cap around like I wanted to. With that said, anyone looking to hone their skills would do well to consider doing it on the big 64" EPP Cap offered by MSComposit.

Which way is up?
Which way is up?
Castrol!
Castrol!
Wheee!
Wheee!
ManeuverGrade Notes
Hovering B The Cap needs a little help keeping the noise headed "north." Once the nose is locked in, it is usually pretty easy to stay there.
Torque Roll B With the nose locked into the hover, torquing is possible.
High Alpha Level Flight A Very nice! Extremely stable, thanks to the big wing!
High Alpha Inverted A+ This cap loves to fly upside down!
Flips (high alpha half loops) B Flips are not bad, however, with the amount of elevator needed to keep the nose where you want it, if you are too aggressive, it will try to snap.
Stall Turns A+ Tons of fun!
Knife-edge A The Cap does a great job with knife edge with no noticeable coupling.
Walk the Dog A Once the nose is locked and the plane settles into the groove, she'll walk you!
Wall B Walls are decent, again, the elevator at times seems a bit sensitive if fed in too quickly.
Flat-Spin A Lots of fun!
Blender A+ Blenders like there is no tomorrow!

Durability

Being EPP the plane is supposed to be durable. Is it? Well, I have had the pleasure (or pain) to put the plane into a few different immovable objects including my house, some power lines, more than one tree, a barbed wire fence and lastly, good old Mother Earth herself. Is she durable? She's still flying!

Is This For a Beginner?

Of course not. While it is extremely durable it is not designed with the beginner in mind. Now, is it for the beginner aerobatic pilot? Very much so. This airplane would make a great addition to the hangar of anyone who has one or two aileron equipped birds under their belt.

Video Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

Easy decision. If you are in the market for a large aerobatic trainer, especially one that you can "fly like you stole it" and not worry about bouncing it off the ground, the MSComposit EPP Cap 232 should seriously make your list of planes to check out. It's tons of fun to fly, extremely stable and hard to kill. A winning combo, if you ask me!

Pluses:

  • Extremely durable - which makes it easier to "try that" where you might not normally.
  • Good color - I am really pleased with the looks of the Cap. MSComposit knows EPP printing.
  • Versatility - Dr. Jekyll... Mr. Hyde?

Minuses:

  • Elevator/Rudder Servo wire arrangement - Leads to a "permanent" installation.
  • I cannot obtain the elevator throw I would like to have - Still working on getting there.
  • Cowling - The cowling arrangement is a touch "fiddly" when it comes to removing the battery.
Last edited by Angela H; Aug 04, 2008 at 08:18 PM..

Discussion

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Old Aug 04, 2008, 08:46 PM
Registered User
USA
Joined Feb 2002
1,249 Posts
Been looking for a replacement for the AJ extra. What was the actual flying weight of the review model?
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 08:53 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,301 Posts
Ah, man.. Thought I put that in there..

The weight of the bird is 55.8oz RTF..
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 08:57 PM
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chip.greely's Avatar
Carlsbad, Ca
Joined Mar 2007
3,096 Posts
Nice review,

C ould you draw any comparisons to the MPX Acromaster?
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 08:58 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,301 Posts
I wish I could.. I have never flown the Multiplex Acromaster..
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 09:38 PM
3D Soon-To-Be....
Marcinb's Avatar
Chicago
Joined Apr 2008
797 Posts
Wait what about the barbed wire??
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 09:49 PM
Registered User
USA
Joined Feb 2002
1,249 Posts
Thanks for the info. Regarding the acromaster. I have one, and retired it after 10 or so flights. I really dont think its a great 3d type flyer. Mine has a bad tip stall tendancy at high alpha, or just slow speed. Whats the point in that?? How was the stall on this cap232? Any tip stall? As my reference,, the AJ extra I had, had NO TIPSTALL AT ALL WHAT SO EVER. My current acromaster is a tipstalling fool.
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 09:51 PM
When's the next fly-in?
dee-grose's Avatar
Tanner, Alabama
Joined Oct 2003
6,439 Posts
Look, Jeff has shoes on!!!

Seriously though, nice review, Jeff. I'm glad I got to see this one fly at my place. I would say that is the biggest EPP plane I've ever seen.

Andy
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 09:52 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,301 Posts
The Cap has no real tip stall if the elevator is fed in nice and easy.. If you just yank back on her, she will try to tip stall, nothing too serious though.. It is definitely not a tip stalling fool..

Here are a few more videos I made with it:

Chasing Planes... (2 min 56 sec)

Aerial Video with MSComposit Cap 232 - Part Deux (3 min 49 sec)

Aerial Video with MSComposit Cap 232 (5 min 2 sec)
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 11:03 PM
Not your average DiggsyBear
Diggs's Avatar
Raleigh, NC
Joined Dec 2006
8,859 Posts
Nice review man!! I see the cat loves it too This is evil, I want one now. Never had a foamy this large. MSComposit is doing some very cool stuff these days.

Thanks, I think...

Diggs
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 11:11 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,301 Posts
That's Safety Kitty.. LOL..

It's a really fun bird..
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 11:39 PM
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latebraker's Avatar
Sacramento, CA
Joined Feb 2006
177 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tram
Here are a few more videos I made with it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0VSQK2C2SA

I've always wanted to try that.
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Old Aug 04, 2008, 11:50 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,301 Posts
Yeh, next time, I think i'll just follow the plane with the car..
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 06:25 AM
Destructive Tester
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Tampa, FL
Joined Apr 2008
1,342 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tram
Yeh, next time, I think i'll just follow the plane with the car..
WOW ! 4S on a foamy??????
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Old Aug 05, 2008, 06:49 AM
Registered User
Rhode Island
Joined Feb 2007
52 Posts
Great review. I bought one a couple of months ago and now I will have to put it together.
Thanks
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