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Posted by DismayingObservation | Jul 03, 2016 @ 09:24 PM | 15,184 Views
It's summertime in the desert which means hot weather.

So, a lot of flying is being done indoors and I just flew this little fellow:


The Eachine H8C, reviewed during much cooler temps in January 2016 is lots of fun to fly indoors and one I'd not flown in some time.

The low rates were just as I remembered them, namely too low. The medium and even the high rates are fun in an indoor situation and the LEDs make it easy to keep oriented. In this case, red is front and blue is rear, but with that in mind, orientation remains simple.

I didn't try the camera simply because I saw no point in filming my living room. I recall that the quality of the camera was so-so at best. However, the price has since been lowered to the odd price of US$22.59 and still with free shipping. Even at this low price, Banggood.com has a complete selection of spare parts.

While I don't often fly the H8C, it remains a fun indoor/outdoor flyer which is easily repaired should the unthinkable happen.

Quick update: Some batteries may be in this little guy's future. Flight times are way down.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 28, 2016 @ 02:35 PM | 6,686 Views
Well, perhaps that's a bit grandiose, but I am in fact moving into new territory here at RCGroups.com.

For more than ten years, I've been on the authors' forum as part of the product review team. The site is changing its policy, so I'm kind of out of a really fun gig once my final reviews are published on the electric flight page.

Or, perhaps not.

Over the years, I've cultivated fantastic relationships with some of the world's foremost hobby manufacturers and distributors. One of those is Banggood.com. They put out a call not long ago for reviewers here on the blogs and since I'll remain a user in good standing, I can do some informal reviews right here.

Lots of folks are entering model aviation via inexpensive multirotors and this little fellow was offered to me:


Hexacopters are definitely cool; I once reviewed the world's smallest hex from JJRC, but another review of the LiDi L6 entry level hex was cancelled due to faulty electronics and no spare parts.

So, as soon as I get the bird, as it were, I'll post the review here and I will continue to present every product here on the blogs as objectively as I have in the past on the site's official pages.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 21, 2016 @ 06:12 PM | 6,170 Views
...but affordable is kinda fun.

To explain:

I was at our club field this past Sunday morning to get video of a model I'm reviewing for the electric flight page. Kinda breezy for a smallish model like the one I flew but a bit much for a UMX, even one with stabilization.

One of our members took up a nearly new E-flite UMX F-16 EDF and whoa, what a cool little plane:


Not entirely sure how, but my guess is that a failed outside loop too close to the ground resulted in the little F-16 smacking the runway with the requisite sickening thud. I heard him say that the wind may have had something to do with stalling it.

As I was preparing to leave a little later on, I walked by a trash can and lo and behold, there was the F-16, electronics and all! The owner didn't want to mess with trying to repair it, figuring it would be easier to simply buy a new one. So, I asked him if I could take it and he not only said yes, he gave me the rest of the parts he hadn't discarded plus the box.

It'll need a fuselage and a tail section and brothers and sisters, parts for that little booger are pricey! One wing is damaged but salvageable, so I can save some bread that way. The worst damage is to the nose and it'll need the entire tail section anyway since one of the elevons sheared clean off.

I figure I can get this model with a $160 retail price in the air for about fifty bucks or so.

Pictures to follow very soon. In fact, I may blog about the experience of repairing it. E-flite micros are mostly taped together anyway, so this'll be an interesting experience. I have two other E-flite micros, but I've never crashed them.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jun 17, 2016 @ 10:07 AM | 6,104 Views
It's getting very hot here in the desert, so before it does, I decided just yesterday to fly a couple of fun models which I hadn't flown in some time.

One was the Multiplex ParkMaster PRO and the other was the fast and fun Ares Advantage Decathlon 350.

The PRO genuinely loves up to its name. It's a great sport plane when the throttle is opened, but as anyone who may have seen the indoor demonstration at this year's AMA Expo can attest, an accomplished 3D pilot can do amazing things indoors. Just fantastic.

The compact Decathlon is a little screamer; it's probably faster than a plane this size has a right to be. Aileron control in the unassisted mode is touchy, but will allow the Decathlon to do loops and rolls which the onboard flight aids prevent when engaged.

I upgraded both the ESC and the original battery with Deans micro connectors since the Electrifly battery I'd bought as a second battery had that greatly improved plug. Much better than the JST and noticeably more power.

Only glitch is an intermittent ESC which reared its head with brief losses of power. Oh, and I managed to catch the undercarriage in an unseen hole in the grass which tore it out as I was landing. All fixed now and I may install an 18A ESC which I have on hand for the time being.

The original review of the PRO may be found here and the Decathlon review here.
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 29, 2016 @ 11:44 PM | 6,834 Views
Well, I maidened the Skywing Laser 260 the other day on behalf of Banggood.com and RCGroups.

Had a break in the unrelenting wind and I figured it was a now-or-never situation.

Let me give away just a small part of the upcoming review to state that this model with its 38" wingspan is truly amazing. Once trimmed, I felt as if I'd been flying this little sweetie for years. Banggood did an awesome job of choosing just the right components for this airframe.

I'll also jump ahead to state that anyone looking for a compact, 3D-capable, semi-scale sport plane would do well to consider the Laser. Even with relatively inexpensive 9g digital servos, control was precise, accurate and just plain fun.

Watch this space for more!
Posted by DismayingObservation | May 25, 2016 @ 07:43 PM | 6,736 Views
When one's hobby is model aviation, wind can be a problem unless one is slope soaring.

Week upon week of windy conditions have pretty much grounded me except for some quadcopter flights in front of the house. I live in a relatively wind-free neighborhood. The club field, meh. Not so calm.

So, what will amount to my final official reviews here on RCGroups are on hold until things calm down. More on that revelation in a future blog.

I'm really looking forward to doing the maiden flight on the new 38" Skywing Laser 260 from Banggood.com, but even though it's been finished for more than a week and going on two, no chance to get it in the air.

Banggood also forwarded two very nice quads, the JYU Hornet S with FPV goggles (fun!!) and the UPair One aerial photography quad with a 4K camera, no less. The Hornet is absolutely amazing! The One is very nice as well, but my gimbal no longer wants to tilt via the transmitter. I've written UPair and I hope to hear back soon.

So, that leaves me with the nearly rebuilt HobbyKing Super-G autogyro and Hitec's new line of Propel multirotor motors with their built-in ESCs. Having issues getting the FC board to recognize the receiver, but I'll be bringing it to the hobby shop in the next day or two to get it operating.

I'll be blogging more after I'm done with these reviews, you lucky readers. See you here on the blogs.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 11, 2016 @ 06:18 PM | 8,358 Views
Two very different machines are being represented today.

Last night, I had a hankerin' to fly a quad. Naturally, it had to have lights.

One of my previous reviews has the distinction of being one of the better lit models I've reviewed, namely the JJRC X6, also known as the Tarantula X6. Kinda easy to see why in the photo.

I actually reviewed this model twice if you were to count the separate review of the JJRC hi-def FPV system. Both reviews are right here:



The X6 was a model I was totally unprepared to like when I first got it. The controls are kind of twitchy on medium rates and really twitchy on high rates. Still, this incredibly popular model with its readily available replacement parts has a truly huge discussion thread here on RCGroups and I've linked to it in the first review.

With bright blue LEDs in the front arms and the "eyes" of the shell coupled with red LEDs out back, this logical layout makes flying the X6 a true pleasure at night. One simply has to be careful to land before the LVA kicks in and the lights start to flash.

While touchy for front yard sorties, the X6 comes alive in a wide open space. That upgraded FPV makes a huge difference over the stock camera, but naturally, I wasn't about to use the camera in the dark! Camera or not, the X6 is still a heck of a lot of fun.

Of course, nothing quite compares to a high-end...Continue Reading
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 10, 2016 @ 12:01 PM | 7,469 Views
Last week, I was in a text conversation with one of my oldest and dearest friends. While he isn't a hobbyist, he enjoys discussing model aviation.

The discussion had turned to quadcopters and something made me think of this:


I reviewed the Bojiang S1 six months ago almost to the day and when I mentioned that to my friend, he thought it would be a great idea to dust it off as another revisited review subject. He enjoyed the previous blogs I did on old subjects, so I figured what the heck.

Beyond the hilariously mangled English and a not-so-great camera is a genuinely fun, entry level quad. As was the case with my other "re-reviews," the S1 had been mostly idle for a long time.

After charging up the battery and taking it for a spin a few minutes ago, I found myself asking why.

It's a very lightweight and responsive little machine, capable of some surprisingly high speeds. Not only that, it's a blast to toss around on high rates. Sure, it can be flown with a bit of decorum, but the S1 is more fun doing high speed passes and turns along with some beautifully executed automatic flips. However, it didn't take long for me to be reacquainted with the model's weird throttle curve; zero throttle occurs well above the throw limit of the stick.

On top of that, run times are seemingly endless. The S1 makes very good use of its battery.

Ah, but those instructions.

There aren't many instruction sheets which instruct one to attach the camera to the "bit bone anterior cingulate" and the "deduction bit of bone," at least outside of a medical textbook!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 03, 2016 @ 04:53 PM | 7,513 Views
If anything, it's gotten windier since this morning, but that didn't stop me from putting up the HobbyKing 450TT Pro helicopter I reviewed a few years ago.

It's been ages since I've flown it and what's kind of fun is that the once-standard flybar head is now a thing of the past! There's a very definite difference between this and the flybarless Skyartec Wasp I wrote about a couple of posts back. That little 250 is actually more stable!

The gyro is a clone which I'd reviewed separately and the tail servo is also a clone which I bought via mail order when the original went blooey. A few parts are genuine Align including the machined main drive gear. Worth the extra few bucks and it really smoothed things out.

What's amazing is that it's still available, only now it's flybarless:


I have some other models in mind which I'll fly once more and blog about right here.

Simply put, it's fun to revisit these earlier reviews and I hope you'll enjoy the entries when I do.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Apr 03, 2016 @ 03:48 PM | 7,503 Views
Well, I did it!

Sort of.

I brought the Durafly Auto-G2 autogyro to the field this morning as a sort of "warm up act" to the big HobbyKing Super-G autogyro.

Still a bit too breezy for my tastes for me to feel comfortable sending up an exotic, strange-flying model like the Super-G for a maiden flight, so I settled for flying the G2.

Perhaps "settled" isn't the right word since it's so much fun and since I've built a lot of confidence since I first started flying it. Besides, the breeze is one's friend for helping spool the main rotor up to speed, with or without the automatic start.

Lots of visitors at the field today and some were really marveling at the unusual little model prior to takeoff.

On went the auto start, up went the autogyro with its usual grace, off went the auto start and onward toward my single greatest flight to date. I was determined to point it in the directions where I wanted it to go instead of letting it seemingly wander off on its own.

By golly, I did it. I flew a few times around the pattern at medium height in order to keep it oriented. It really demands to be flown with a firm hand; no point-and-scoot without a lot of pilot input.

While the flight was terrific - and the sounds even more so - what I really wanted to do was land it and keep it upright.

Bingo. Perfect, gentle touchdown which elicited a lot of heartfelt applause from everyone watching and a whoop and a fist pump from yours truly.

The Super-G is going up on Wednesday morning, scheduling and weather permitting. Stay tuned to the electric flight page for the full review!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Mar 20, 2016 @ 10:18 PM | 6,954 Views
I have to admit: I'm actually having fun with the Durafly Auto-G2!

I took the G2 for not one ride today but three rides up and around the pattern.

Flying an autogyro is, to put it mildly, weird. It's a joy on takeoff and flies well, but it doesn't seem to go quite where it's pointed.

Breezy conditions on landing tipped the model to its side each time, but thankfully, no damage. I ordered some of the more vulnerable parts from HobbyKing and, joy of joys, I scored a set of used parts for free from my local hobby shop! They were all that was left of a crashed Auto-G (same as the G2 less the automatic main rotor start system) and they would have either languished in the back for all time or would have been discarded.

Having spare blades, rotor hubs and props on hand both from HK and the hobby shop is a big confidence builder. I also now have a motor, ESC, servos, assorted hardware and even a battery hatch cover.

Landings are what I need to work on and despite the challenge, it's fun to try and land it while remaining upright. Most of the problem may have stemmed from the wind and the fact that the main rotor acts as a sort of parachute while it's rotating.

I might be grounded until a week from Sunday because of Easter, but if I can get it in the air once more, I'll do so.

The photo below was taken back in November before the maiden flight. I'm pleased to report that it still looks the same despite some minor mishaps.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 17, 2016 @ 02:59 PM | 7,408 Views
It's hard to believe, but it's been four years since I reviewed the Skyartec Wasp X3V 250-class flybarless helicopter for RCGroups:


Since then, serial number WHV00005 (yes, it's only the fifth model off of the assembly line) has been flown only sporadically due to increased professional commitments and lots of other RCG reviews. I'd recently got to thinking about older review subjects and a blog I'd posted about revisiting them at some point, so I'll take up the slack right now.

That review has also garnered nearly 115,000 hits and 119 pages of comments. That's a heck of a nice feeling!

It was a beautiful morning, so after I charged a battery, I took it out of its case today for a flight up and down my street and I couldn't help but wonder how much has changed in that time.

My wife and I have been very blessed. We now have our own home instead of a rental. Both the laptop computer and point-and-shoot camera I used for that review have been replaced with a desktop computer and a DSLR, both necessary for what I do both here on this site and for other work.

Took me a moment or two to remember how to arm it, but once I did, I was rewarded with the same great flying characteristics I enjoyed in the summer of 2012. In fact, I've been flying a lot of multirotors since then which only helped to sharpen my helicopter skills.

Will Wasp Number Five be languishing in its case for months to come? Nope. It's just too much fun.

Another blast from the past will be posted just as soon as I can find a bit of time!

By the way, those photos are new and yup, I took them with the DSLR. Enjoy!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Feb 16, 2016 @ 07:32 PM | 7,200 Views
...and I finally made it to 4000 posts with this blog entry! Number 4000 feels darn good on this, the greatest hobby site on the internet!

Good stuff coming up soon on the electric flight page. I just received a brand new RocHobby Nemesis NXT for an official review.

Rated at more than 100 mph right out of the box after a claimed 45 minutes of final assembly.

This will be incredibly fun if my past experiences with FMS and RocHobby products from Diamond Hobby are any indication. So, feast thine eyes, friends:

Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 16, 2016 @ 11:20 AM | 8,027 Views
The A2826-M 1100Kv motor and stick mount from the Gorilla Bob's store at the AMA expo are ready to rock at the front of the little Thunder Tiger Bearcat foamie. The motor, mount and my temporary 40A ESC are in place, I've installed a receiver and once I do up the control throws and expo and install the 8x6E APC prop, I'm ready.

I've spent a bit more money on it than I might have otherwise done, but the initial tests with brushless power were very encouraging.

The wing is very stiff, but it isn't reinforced. Once I'm satisfied that it flies well, I'll run a carbon fiber spar underneath.

Once this little project is complete, I want to finish up a project which has long been dormant. It's a kit built Great Planes .46 Ultimate biplane given to me a few years ago. I blogged about it at the time. It was done as an electric, suffered slight damage in a crash and the owner gave it to a friend of mine who gave it to me. The airframe has long since been repaired, but no power or electronics are installed.

This brings up some interesting possibilities. I can either use the O.S. or K&B engines I have in mind or follow suit and go electric.

Time and funds shall tell.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 14, 2016 @ 06:52 PM | 9,323 Views
OK, so it's almost a week late in coming, but I have to say that my grandson and I had a marvelous time at the AMA last week. Always fun to see fellow hobbyists and to reconnect with many of the vendors.

Visiting the Pegasus Hobbies booth reminded me of the little Thunder Tiger Bearcat park flyer I bought last year and about which I've blogged on and off since. Easy to see why; they were offering more of those little RTFs for sale once more!

So, thought I, why not get mine flying once and for all? I think it had all of three flights to its credit and not all of them successful.

Found an 1100Kv motor, stick mount and APC prop for the proverbial song right there at the expo from the Gorilla Bob's stand. The 18A ESC I was using is too small for this combo, but I'm going to give it a go with a 40A unit. If all goes well, I'll put a 30A control in the little booger. Should've picked up an inexpensive ESC at the time, but oh well.

Will be blogging once more once I get it flying. There's just something about the challenge this little foamie has presented which makes me want to keep on keeping on with it.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Jan 01, 2016 @ 02:48 AM | 11,127 Views
Just sitting by the computer waiting for the new year to arrive. When I saw that I might be one of the first to blog this new year - or one of the last to blog in the old - I wanted to take the opportunity to wish everyone in the RCGroups.com family a happy, prosperous and blessed new year. Some great reviews are coming down the pike and I invite everyone to keep checking in over at the electric flight page.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 21, 2015 @ 08:46 PM | 10,491 Views
Hoping someone out there can give me a hand.

I received one of these entry level brushless quads today as an official RCGroups.com review sample. It must have either been a demo unit or it was tested before being shipped from China. In any event, it came with no manual.

Binding the transmitter and the model isn't an issue, but I can't figure out how to arm it. Anyone else have one of these and who would be kind enough to please tell me how to arm it?

Thanks, all!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 17, 2015 @ 07:48 PM | 9,650 Views
Wow...! Where has this year gone?

Some serious holiday shopping is coming, including Cyber Monday. Of course, we hobbyists certainly enjoy a deal on the items we enjoy.

It is, as I pointed out in my last blog entry, a real pleasure to work with HobbyKing. Their category manager sent me an email with a very interesting link:


Yup, one of this site's biggest sponsors is getting a head start with some incredible deals on already low priced hobby goodies. Since I was asked if I'd be kind enough to share this good news both here and other social media, heck, who am I to say no?

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone here in the US and yes, Merry Christmas to the rest of the world!
Posted by DismayingObservation | Nov 09, 2015 @ 01:43 PM | 10,086 Views
Well, I managed to fly that HobbyKing Super-G for the first part of its review:


Trouble is, I wadded it in due to pilot error, hence the bit about "the first part." HobbyKing, a major sponsor of this site and a great bunch of guys to boot, sent me a new Super-G to use in the second part of the review and even a Durafly Auto-G2 for practice!

So, practice I did. The president of the R/C club did the honors of the maiden flight of the Auto-G2 and got it trimmed. I flew the second flight.

Tell you what: Autogyros are definitely not airplanes nor are they helicopters, but let me say that I really learned my lesson with the Super-G. This unusual, exotic model was fun to fly!

Here's the funny thing: The club president had never flown an autogyro prior to yesterday! Still, he did a fantastic job of getting the Auto-G2 dialed in.

I'll be putting in a lot of stick time before proceeding with the assembly and flight of the replacement Super-G. I'm definitely going to add some fluorescent orange and green tape to the fuselage to make it easier to see, even with 20/15 distance vision.

Part two of the review will concentrate on the flight characteristics of the Super-G.
Posted by DismayingObservation | Oct 30, 2015 @ 05:35 PM | 10,505 Views
I can't adequately express how happy I am at how well these reviews turned out:



Next on the schedule are an FPV unit for legions of JJRC Tarantula X6 quadcopter fans and the decidedly different HobbyKing Super-G autogyro.

The latter is something I have never flown, but I hope to give it a whirl - literally - on Sunday.