MS Composit Mini Swift Review - RC Groups

MS Composit Mini Swift Review

If you are looking for a sturdy, go-anywhere kind of wing, look no further! This small and powerful plane is always a blast to fly. Author Kevin Martin reviews.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:22" (540 mm)
Weight:about 5 oz.
Length:14.75" (375 mm)
Speed Range:Very slow, to screaming fast
Servos:2 Subsonic Planes 9 gram servos
Transmitter:Futaba 9CAP
Receiver:Hitec Electron 6
Battery:3s 11.1v 500mAh 20C
Motor:Motrolfly 2203 2200kV
ESC:Motrolfly 10A
Typical Flight Duration:8-20 minutes, depending on throttle usage
Plane Manufacturer:MSComposit
Electronics Manufacturer:Motrolfly
Plane Available From:Common Sense RC
Electronics Available From:Subsonic Planes
Price:$45 ARF

When it comes to EPP delta wings, MS Composit has it figured out. With three different sizes ( Mini, Regular, and Maxi), and 29 different color schemes available, you can be sure to find one you like. The Mini Swift is the smallest of the series with a 22 inch span, but don't be fooled- speed is not an issue. It's 100% EPP, and can probably handle anything you can throw at it, or anything you can throw it at!


Kit Contents

The kit arrived in a single plastic bag, containing:

  • Wing halves
  • Winglets
  • Pushrods, connectors, and control horns
  • Motor mount

The Power system was provided by Subsonicplanes.com, and contained:

  • Motrolfly 2203 2200kv motor
  • GWS 5x4.3 Propeller
  • Motrolfly 10 Amp ESC
  • Sonic Power 11.1v 3s 20C 500mah LiPo battery pack

<font size=-2>Motrolfly 2203 2200kv </font>
Motrolfly 2203 2200kv
Type:Brushless Outrunner
Motor Weight:17.5 grams
Output Shaft Size:5.5mm prop saver
Cells:2–3S Li-Po
RPM/Volt (kV):2150
Recommended ESC:10A
Suggested Prop:GWS 5x4.3
No Load Current:.65A at 12.20v
Price:$24.95

<font size=-2>Motrolfly 10A ESC</font>
Motrolfly 10A ESC
Cont. Current:10A
Input Voltage:6-12 cells Ni-xx, 2-3 cells LiPo
Weight:14.5 grams
BEC:Linear/ 1Amp
Maximum Servos:2-4 @ 5v
Programming:Brake, Battery type, Soft/Hard Start up, Timing
Price:$21.95

<font size=-2>Sonic Power 3s 500mah LiPo Battery</font>
Sonic Power 3s 500mah LiPo Battery
Capacity:500mAH
Voltage:11.1V
Number of cells:3
Weight:44.5 grams
C Rating:20C
Dimensions:57.5mm x 16mm x 30mm
Price:$16.95

Required to Complete

To finish this build, I used my own:

  • Hobby Knife
  • Epoxy and regular CA (You really only need one)
  • Fresh blades for the knife, and a sharpener

Especially when working with EPP foam, having a sharp knife is a must. With a new or sharpened blade, EPP foam will cut with very little resistance. The problem is that the foam quickly wears the blade down, which makes your knife more like a hack saw. A quick run through the sharpener, and you're good to go.

Motrolfly power systems come "Plug N Play" with all connectors pre soldered and ready to go. Just connect the motor to the ESC, and plug in the battery, and the system is ready. I was really impressed with the quality and attention to detail of the parts- Even the packaging staples matched!

Assembly

Assembly for this plane is minimal. I completed my assembly in just a couple of hours while stopping for pictures, and a few breaks.

Wing

There really isn't a whole lot to do in this phase, but glue the two wing halves together. The instructions recommend CA and kicker, but I opted for some 5 minute Epoxy. Either method will work just fine, and keep a very strong and rigid support.

I received the aircraft kit a day or so before the electronics, and became a little over-excited. The instructions don't advise you to glue on the winglets until the build is almost completed, and for a good reason. Having the winglets already glued on made electronic installation tricky, and something I would make sure to avoid the next wing build.

Electronics installation

Once the wing halves are glued together, the next step is installing the motor, ESC, and battery. The included EPP motor mount is glued onto the back, and then the plastic firewall is glued onto that. There are no screws included in the kit for attaching your motor to the firewall, but luckily I had some that fit. Twisting the screws into the EPP foam can be challenging as the foam will give as you push down. Breaking the foam skin with a needle or the tip of your knife will help the screw get started.

Radio Installation

Once the ESC, motors, and servos are in place, the final installation begins. Prior to this point, the location of the electronics installed have a little fudge room, as you still have plenty of weight to add to counter any weird balancing issues. At this step, I marked the location of my center of gravity first before I began installation. The battery will be the most influential item on your balance point, so keep that in mind before you commit yourself to putting it way forward or aft. For foam removal, I marked on my hobby knife the depth I needed to cut to, then cut out the outline of the shape. Next, a checkerboard pattern was cut across the foam to be removed. A pair of pliers was then used to pluck out the small foam blocks. Make sure to cut out a spot slightly smaller than the size of whatever you are embedding, so there is some pressure holding it in place.

Completion

Once all the electronics were set, all that was left was to install the control linkages, route the antenna, and reinforce the plane. Before any reinforcing, the EPP foam is very flexible. SO flexible, I could easily bend it until the wingtips were touching- and keep the plane in one piece! The instructions call for 3M tape straps across the top and bottom, and along the edges. I knew that the supplied power system was going to be a rocket, so I chose a stronger option- enter carbon fiber. A single carbon fiber rod glued in really stiffened the wing up.

The control linkages are pre-bent, meaning a VERY easy installation. Just snap the quick grip connectors onto the servo arm, thread the Z-bend through the control horn, and slide the straight end into the quick grip. Remember to do this while the plane is powered on, to insure the servos stay neutral. A slight amount of "Up" is best to have when you mechanically adjust the elevons on the quick grips. Don't worry if the two don't match perfectly, as the "Sub Trim" function on your radio can even them out individually.

The 72 MHz antenna was routed down one side, and zigzagged back and forth- I wanted to make the trailing antenna short enough that it couldn't be entangled in the rear mounted prop. Routing the antenna to one side will make that side heavier than the other, meaning rolls won't be perfectly axial. I melted a little hole on the opposite wing tip, and dropped in a tiny lead fishing weight, then covered the hole with hot glue. This laterally balanced the plane- improving the roll speed as well as how tight the rolls are preformed.

The instructions call for placing all the electronics on the bottom, which leaves them vulnerable to whatever you land on. It does keep the top clean (which I like), but something needed to be done to address the electronics issue. So, with a sharpened hobby knife and 5 minutes, I cut a protective cover out from the EPP packaging included with the kit...

Flying

With the Mini Swift all ready to go in one evening, I couldn't wait until the next day to take it flying!

Basics

Power System Review As we all know, the power system of a plane really is the deciding factor in how a plane performs. The Subsonic Planes power system was a great fit for this plane, and offered a huge flight envelope- from inverted gliding, to full throttle dashes just inches across the ground. The GWS 5x4.3 prop was a perfect size, in that it was plenty small to stay out of the way, but still offered plenty of thrust. The built in prop saver held the prop on much more firmly than other prop savers I have used- meaning much less loss in performance, but still enough give to keep the prop intact. I have close to 3 hours on this plane already, and have hit the ground at full throttle plenty of times while flying low- yet I still haven't damaged the prop. The ESC always comes down cold, even when the flight was almost entirely full throttle. I was especially impressed with the battery's performance- a 500mAh battery at the advertized 20C discharge is 10 Amps, and the motor was pulling about 8.5 amps on WOT runs. Even with the high draw, it too stayed cool, and offered tons of juice. This entire setup is very light and compact, and really kept the weight of this plane low- drastically increasing its slow flight performance. I would recommend this power system setup to anyone who is looking to power a 4-15 oz plane. The bottom line? If you are looking for a strong performer, a light setup, and a great company to deal with, Subsonic Planes is the place to be.

The Mini Swift flies like most flying wings, big and small alike. It has a high capability for fast speeds, and also can slow down to a crawl if you tell it to. I programmed in a little elevator-throttle mix, so I can maintain a slow, nose up pace at lower speeds, and a level, blistering fast pace when the throttle is thrown to the top. Taking advantage of your radio's computer capabilities is something every pilot should learn, as it really can change the way a plane flies. Just remember to increase the mix ratio a little at a time, or else you could end up with a funny lawn decoration when you give it full throttle! I found that the recommended balance point is just about spot on.

Taking Off and Landing

Let’s face it- flying wings can be awkward to launch. There are probably about as many ways to do it as there are pilots! My favorite two are the Frisbee style launch, and the vertical launch. The Frisbee style launch keeps your hands clear of the prop, which will have no problem making short work of any stray fingers. With the Subsonic Power system, I really didn't even have to throw the plane, I only had to let go. It was off like a rocket- straight ahead. The Vertical Launch is a crowd favorite- by holding in "down" elevator before the launch, you can rest it on its winglets, and elevons. Full throttle, and it's up, and off! Landing is crazy easy- I have yet to have a "bad" landing. I've tried inverted onto the grass, regular landing, and stalls; but my favorite by far is the hand catch. It is just SOO easy with this plane, even a camera man could do it! (hint-hint) There is no fuselage, no propeller up front, just a nice, wide slab of EPP foam. The plane glides very well, so catching speeds were ridiculously slow. This plane is the perfect one to practice hand catches, because even if it bounces off your hand, the fall to the ground won't hurt it one bit.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The Mini Swift (like most flying wings) is controlled by elevons only. With just elevator and aileron control, aerobatics are limited to rudderless maneuvers. Rolls, flips, inverted flight, and vertical stalls make up the basic playbook of stunts. In the Mini Swift's case, inverted flight and fast rolls are its forté. On a steep vertical dive, rolls are almost too fast to count! Whenever I was flying in front of an audience, I always started with a full throttle climb until the plane was really small, then a hammerhead type maneuver (limited by the lack of rudder), and finally a full throttle, straight down rolling dive. That never gets old, as the Swift does it oh so well. This is where laterally balancing the plane is important, because if one side is heavier than the other, your rolls will be much more barrel like than straight and axial. Inverted flight CAN be really easy with the Mini Swift, but only if the balance is correct on the plane. A nose heavy plane will want to pitch down a lot. The Swift is only 7½ inches long, so having your CG off by a centimeter will have a lot bigger effect than on a larger plane. When the balance point is set just right, I found even inverted GLIDING to be no problem.

Is This For a Beginner?

I would never recommend an aileron plane as a good first model. Flying wings can be even more confusing, as the aileron and elevator mix can be tricky. I would have no problem suggesting this plane to someone who has any aileron experience, because it is light and extremely durable.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

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Downloads

The Mini Swift  56.74 MB

Conclusion

If you ask most any serious modeler, I grantee you they will have a favorite plane to carry around for any little chance of flying they can get. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to mine- the Mini Swift. The 100% EPP composition just rocks for tossing it the back of the car to take along. It's small enough that it could be flown from most any field, but has no trouble penetrating the wind. It can be a nice, quiet, slow flying cruser, or a wild attention grabbing rocket- all chosen by the position of your thumb. The Subsonic power system is such a great match for this plane, and has plenty of thrust to spare! Small video cameras, or even a small FPV setup would not be a problem for this combo.

Special thanks to Dean Logemann and Trevor McKinney for assisting with photos and videos. Thanks also to our Editor Angela and many others who have helped with the review, as well as Ken at Subsonic Planes, and Kenzier at CSRC.

Hits

  • SUPER durable
  • Wide variety of flight speeds
  • Rolls are very tight
  • Perfect power system match

Misses

  • Tape reinforcement method should be swapped with a small Carbon Fiber bar
  • Electronics are exposed on the bottom, although easily covered
Last edited by Kmart; Jan 28, 2010 at 03:57 PM..
Thread Tools
Jan 28, 2010, 04:30 PM
Registered User
Kmart's Avatar
Here is a hard link to the online Vimeo video too.



As an avid FPV pilot, I plan on converting this plane to a low level FPV ship. Here's the first Mini Swift FPV video:


MS Composit Mini Swift FPV- Tree Flying (3 min 30 sec)


Warming Up (3 min 34 sec)


"Neon Trees"- Mini Swift FPV (3 min 30 sec)
Last edited by Kmart; Jul 24, 2011 at 12:44 PM.
Jan 28, 2010, 08:21 PM
War Eagle!
Spackles94's Avatar
Kevin,

Nice review! I'm a frisbee-launch guy myself, but I did like your idea of the VTO. Good idea on the throttle mix, too.

Looks like the Mini Swift flies just as nice as the Swift II itself.

Good work!
Jan 28, 2010, 11:41 PM
Registered User
I have one of these, and I will have to say that it is a great model. I have taught several folks to fly with mine. I like to practice carrier landings on our club AC carrier. Great fun.

I will have to say though, I was soured. We have a 11 year old pilot at our club, and I let him practice with my mini swift. He loved it, and wanted his own. He saved his allowance, and sent in his money. Evidently, the company (MS Composites) was changing hands or somthing. Our young pilot did not get his model, or a refund... I hope this is not a trend.
Jan 29, 2010, 06:29 AM
Ronnie - Sheffield UK (G0NJD)
mallettron's Avatar
I have one and am very pleased with it (actually its my second, the first went off into the wild blue yonder, it seems I was trying to fly a cloud at 500ft!!!!!)

Install the servos from the bottom and then cover in tape. Put all the electronics on the top, its much easier

It flies fast but nt that fat that it hurts when it hits me

Thanks for a great review

Ronnie
Jan 29, 2010, 09:04 AM
Wandering IT geek
ronin4740's Avatar
I bought one of these at E-Fest in Champaign last year and have had a lot of fun flying it. One building tip I might suggest is to slot the top of the servo pockets and install the servos so that the horns and arms are on the top of the wing rather than the bottom. This helps prevent landings from tearing up servo gears

Great review, thanks!
Jan 29, 2010, 03:56 PM
Registered User
Kmart's Avatar
I was a little worried at first about the electronics on the bottom, but I found that with the little skid arms next to the servos, landing wasn't really an issue. Well, when I actually landed it, and didn't catch it!

Ronnie-
I really liked how the top looked, and wanted to preserve that. You definitely could mount electronics from the top if you wanted to. There are tons of options when putting this plane together.

-Kevin
Jan 29, 2010, 08:54 PM
BadPilot
badpilotto's Avatar
Kevin,

I have been flying with the Mini-Swift for over three years and what a great little plane. I keep mine in the car for quick flights whenever I can fly. I never launched as you did but quite cool I will give it a try.

TFS

John
Jan 30, 2010, 06:45 AM
Ronnie - Sheffield UK (G0NJD)
mallettron's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmart
I was a little worried at first about the electronics on the bottom, but I found that with the little skid arms next to the servos, landing wasn't really an issue. Well, when I actually landed it, and didn't catch it!

Ronnie-
I really liked how the top looked, and wanted to preserve that. You definitely could mount electronics from the top if you wanted to. There are tons of options when putting this plane together.

-Kevin
It flies so well you dont need to keep it streamlined, forgot about the servos feeding through the top, thanks for that. It all helps to keep the underside clear when landing. Finding the right power combination is a must tho, too much power and weight makes it hairy!. I use the 10g motor, 5x3 prop, 6a turnigy plush esc and a 900mah 2s. enough for me

Ronnie
Feb 01, 2010, 11:54 AM
D'oh.. Dumb Left Thumb
dekan's Avatar
I got round the problems of draggin the battery and R/C gear though the dirt by fitting everything on top ..... https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/atta...mentid=2210410

Hyperion Z1705 motor, Graupner 5x5 Cam prop. 3s goes like a bat out hell
Last edited by dekan; Feb 01, 2010 at 11:59 AM.
Feb 02, 2010, 12:17 AM
BadPilot
badpilotto's Avatar
Update to all. I attempted to lift off from the ground as Kevin did but three times in a row I reentered the ground's surface (very quickly) for some unknown reason. I think it was my slow reactions to needed corrections.

John
Feb 02, 2010, 04:03 PM
Registered User
Kmart's Avatar
John-

How did you do it? I had to hold in "down" elevator to get it to stand up. Then, I applied throttle to get it spinning, then punched it to full to take off. The "down" elevator made it tip forward as you see in the video. What was happening that you became re-acquainted with the ground sooner than you wanted?
Feb 02, 2010, 04:48 PM
Registered User
Jimmi's Avatar
I got the swift from a deal here and can tell you its one of my favorites. Its very light and flys straight as an arrow, just flew it yesterday for the first time in weeks. I wouldn't mind getting all 3 models of swifts. Simple to build and easier to fly I got the green model number 77, with the servos on top and the battery up front.
Feb 03, 2010, 08:41 AM
dumbthumb
aleXtino's Avatar
How this wing is compared with the MiniSlinger (with an Ammo BL inside)? Anyone had tried both?
Feb 04, 2010, 08:46 PM
BadPilot
badpilotto's Avatar
Kevin,

I stood mine up in the grass as you did but didn't need any elevator at all. It simply held by the winglets. I did make one modification while building this MiniSwift, I cut the motor mount down leaving less clearance between the prop and the trailing edge of the body.

John


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