|Flying Weight (less battery):||35.3 oz (1000g)|
|Construction:||EPP-over-EPS foam with lite ply subframing; EPP cowl and wheel pants; carbon fiber landing gear strut; carbon fiber wing spar tube; nylon landing gear wheels with foam tires and steel axles; nylon tailwheel bracket and guide with nylon wheel and rubber tire; nylon spinner|
|Servos:||Hitec HS-65MG metal geared analog|
|Radio:||Airtronics SD-6G 2.4GHz six-channel computerized transmitter with Airtronics RX600 six-channel receiver|
|Battery:||2DogRC.com 2200mAh 11.1v 3S 35C lithium polymer|
|Motor:||Hengli Motor W35-42 brushless outrunner, 850Kv|
|ESC:||HiModel Cool 44A/SBEC with a BEC output of 5.5v|
|Minimum Operator Age:||14+|
|Minimum Operator Skill Level:||Intermediate|
|Manufacturer:||Skywing Model Plane Studio, 3 Xiaolinzijing Road, Hongqi Township, Jinwan District, Zhuhai, Guangdong, China 519090|
|Available in Canada From:||Wattaplane.com, 303 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8P 1J7|
|Available in the USA From:||USA.Wattaplane.com via Rochester, New York|
|Available Worldwide From:||BestValueRC, #5221-1, 15 Xidawang Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100022|
|Price:||CAN$169.99 with free shipping in Canada through Wattaplane; US$127.99 plus shipping through USA Wattaplane; US$99.98 plus shipping through BestValueRC|
Have you ever seen a model in an RCGroups.com banner ad that just grabbed hold of your eye and wouldn't let go?
That's what happened to me when I saw the banner ad which in turn led me to this review.
I found myself staring at a Wattaplane Edge 540 in orange, blue, black and white graphics. Edges are cool anyway; the stunning graphics were just icing on the cake. The side force generators on the prototype promised a lot of aerobatic fun, so I took the initiative to contact the company. So new was this model that a quick look at the website showed that the prototype was only recently added to the home page as of October 6, 2012; my first contact came about a week later. A bit more investigation uncovered the fact that Wattaplane.com of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada worked with Chinese manufacturer Skywing Model Plane Studio or simply Skywing to redevelop this Chinese home market model for Canada and beyond.
The email was immediately and cheerfully answered by Wattaplane.com founder and 3D enthusiast Max Xu, who arranged to have a sample of this first-ever Wattaplane brand model in the optional silver, dark blue, black and white graphics shipped directly to me from the SkyWing factory in China. Max was also kind enough to forward the necessary Hengli Motor W35-42 850Kv brushless outrunner and the HiModel Cool 44A/SBEC brushless ESC this model was literally designed around.
This is an impressive model that quickly developed a following under the Skywing label for its simulator-sharp flying characteristics and 3D capability, complete with 60 degrees of potential control surface throw.
Construction is remarkably sophisticated with an EPP foam skin over a partial lite ply fuselage frame along with EPP-skinned EPS wings and control surfaces. The wings and canopy on my sample are attached with very powerful rare earth magnets which make taking the model apart for storage and transportation a snap.
That, however, has been changed.
Max informed me that newer versions of the Edge 540 have been altered so that the wing attaches with nylon bolts instead of magnets. The canopy continues to be magnetically attached.
A great model deserves great guidance, so the control surface tasks go to four Hitec HS-65MG Mighty Feather metal geared servos provided courtesy of Suzanne Lepine of Hitec RCD in Poway, California USA. As for the radio, I'm pleased to press my Airtronics SD-6G six-channel computerized spread spectum radio into service once more. This radio was originally a review subject provided by no less than the man who helped design the ergonomics. Mike Greenshields of Global Hobby Distributors in Fountain Valley, California USA is one of the truly big names in the hobby industry and he was more than kind enough to send me an Airtronics RX600 receiver for use in this review. Pumping the electrons will be a top quality 2DogRC 2200mAh 3S 65C li-po thanks to Mark Grohe of 2DogRC.com of Fayetteville, North Carolina USA.
I should point out that Wattaplane.com serves Canada only. International buyers can order through Max's China-based BestValueRC.com. The cost of the model is less, but even though the shipping is quite high, the final cost is on par with the Canadian price with its free shipping depending on where it's shipped. As this review goes public, Max has announced the opening of USA.wattaplane.com in Rochester, New York which is for US buyers.
Good thing, too. I have a feeling this model is going to prove very popular now that it's available worldwide!
If the RCGroups thread which Max started back in September 2012 is any indicator, it will be. The thread can be found right here.
This highly popular modeling subject is in turn one of the most popular and successful full-scale aerobatic aircraft in the world.
The Zivko Edge 540 and the tandem-seat 540T are manufactured by Zivko Aeronautics of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Both are capable of a 420 degree per second roll rate and a 3700 foot per minute (1128m) climb rate. The Edge 540 has been flown to victory on the international Unlimited aerobatics circuit several times since the mid-1990s and is the most common aircraft used in the Red Bull Air Race World Series.
With that in mind, some marvelous 3D and sport flying fun are only a few simple assembly steps away!
The Edge comes as a basic airframe with much of the difficult building done at the factory. It comes with:
Needed for the build are:
Waiting inside the shipping box was a carefully bagged and packaged group of parts; a glued-in cardboard shelf held the wing halves, further protecting them from rubbing with the fuselage in transit.
Everything seemed to be of very high quality, including the beautifully sprayed-on Wattaplane graphics with a maple leaf motif on the tail. Civilian Canadian modeling subjects such as deHavillands generally lack hints of Canadian national pride. It's a real pleasure to see a motif such as this celebrating our dear friends north of the border and it's one I'm certain Canadian modelers will appreciate.
One thing conspicuous by its absence was an assembly manual, not too uncommon anymore thanks to downloadable .pdf files. In the case of the Edge, the only printed manuals at the time of this writing are in Chinese and are only bundled with home market models. I couldn't locate any online manual, Chinese or otherwise.
Wattaplane was thoughtful enough to produce a video assembly guide and post it on YouTube. The text is in Chinese with English overlays through YouTube's translation system. I'll be following the steps as outlined in the video linked below, quite possibly making this review the first English language assembly guide!
The assembly sequence is a bit haphazard as compared to the traditional wing/fuselage/tail/motor/radio sequence, beginning with the preassembled motor cage.
It slips into place nicely and is tacked down with some thin CA. The square CF reinforcement spars extending toward the rear didn't want to tack down with thin CA, but gap filling CA did the trick. There's no chance of installing the box upside down; the retaining tabs don't align with the firewall.
Funny thing: The lightening holes just in front of the turtle deck combine with the motor cage to resemble a character from the "Cars" movies. My sharp-eyed wife Lilli caught it and since then, I haven't been able to look at the model without hearing Larry the Cable Guy yelling "git 'er done" in my head.
Next come the rudder and elevator servos and their extensions. No length is specified, so I used two Expert brand 12" extensions which mated nicely with the Hitec HS-65MG servos.
I've used Hitec servos on many of these reviews; they are really hard to beat for quality, speed, accuracy, price and parts support. They're available in a choice of metal geared versions as used here or Hitec's smooth running "zero wear" Karbonite gears. Either are perfect for micro helis, park flyers and even 1/18-scale cars. Here are the specs of these little powerhouses:
|Speed (4.8V/6.0V):||0.14 / 0.11 sec @ 60 degrees|
|Torque:||25 / 31 oz/in (1.8 / 2.2kg/cm)|
|Dimensions:||.92 x .45 x .94" (23.37 x 11.43 x 23.88mm)|
|Weight:||.44 oz (12.47g)|
|Manufacturer/Distributor:||Hitec RCD, 12115 Paine Street, Poway, California 92064 USA|
|Available From:||Any vendor which stocks Hitec products|
The rudder servo is shown with its output shaft oriented toward the rear of the model, but the elevator servo is not shown, at least not right away. Wattaplane's photo of the prototype shows the elevator servo oriented in the same way as does the video later on during the horizontal stabilizer attaching process. The receiver ends of the extensions wound up about amidships just behind the wing spar tube. There's plenty of room for the Airtronics RX600 receiver in that location along the belly of the fuselage, so that was where I decided that I would mount it later.
The rudder with its preinstalled CA hinges is installed at this point. The locations on the rear of the fuselage are marked with holes, but there didn't seem to be any slots. Some slicing and dicing with an X-Acto did the trick, but it should be noted that a plywood core helps support the tail, so it took a bit of probing with the knife to open the slots.
It's also a darn good thing that I read some of the comments here on RCGroups.com regarding this model. While the outer skin of the Edge is expanded polypropylene and therefore can be glued with regular CA, the core is expanded polystyrene which will turn to goo. This is mentioned in the video, but much farther down the line when it explains the servo horn installation. Foam-safe thin CA was the way to go. Not only is the rudder firmly fastened, there isn't any goo from dissolving parts to deal with.
The utterly gigantic elevator and the tiny little horizontal stabilizer go on next, starting with the elevator right after a plywood shipping tab is removed from the opening.
I never thought I would be as impressed by a simple elevator as I am with that of the Edge, but I am. The foam-on-foam construction results in a nicely airfoiled surface with both carbon fiber and lite ply reinforcement spars visible beneath the surface. It's just a beautiful design, nicely executed with exceptional craftsmanship.
As with the rudder, I opened up the slots in the elevator so that the preinstalled CA hinges could be slipped in place on the elevator. The hinges were tacked down once more with the foam-safe CA, but the assembly itself is quite naturally not glued in place yet.
Triangulating the stab to the wings and nose is standard ARF stuff, so I won't go into detail beyond how the video first suggests clipping the elevator in place with spring loaded binder clips to keep it level and to aid in the alignment process...and how well those magnets retaining the wing actually work. They engage with an audible SMACK and it takes some real effort to separate the wings from the fuselage.
I should reiterate that newer versions of the model use nylon wing retainer bolts.
I tried the clip trick with some small binder clips with paper towels protecting the elevator and stab, but they threatened to leave some permanent indentations. The indentations weren't very deep and were able to be kneaded out, so I left the elevator dangling down and measured at the stabilizer.
Some regular thin CA and kicker glue the assembly down and it's on to the motor and ESC installation.
Again, pretty straightforward stuff. The cross mount adapter bolts to the motor and the motor is mounted with the wires pointing downward.
The ESC goes on next, which is tie-wrapped to the underside of the motor cage once the battery connector and the female bullet connectors supplied with the motor are soldered in place. The bullet connectors were a nice touch, but there wasn't any shrink wrap tubing, requiring me to dig into the parts bin for some.
I could find little info on either Hengli Motor or the Hengli W35-42 850Kv outrunner. It's very affordably priced at CAN$46.99 through Wattaplane, comes gift packaged with hardware in a metal tin with a decorative paper sleeve and even comes with a spare machined aluminum propeller mount.
And yes, it does a pretty good visual imitation of a Scorpion HK-3226-900KV.
Here are the specs:
|Weight:||4.66 oz (132g)|
|Internal Resistance:||.0326 ohm.|
|Number of Cells:||3 - 4|
|Efficient Operating Current:||27A|
|Available From:||Wattaplane.com, 303 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8P 1J7|
The HiModel 44-amp ESC is a beefy-looking brute which appears to have been sourced from a Chinese online vendor of the same name. In this case, looks aren't deceiving. This ESC will handle up to six cells and pumps 5.5v through the BEC for fast and powerful servo movements, perfect for a plane such as the Edge 540.
Specs? Of course:
|Cells:||2 - 6 lithium polymer|
|Continuous Operating Current:||44A|
|Maximum Operating Current:||55A for ten seconds|
|Weight:||1.9 oz (55g)|
|Available From:||Wattaplane.com, 303 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8P 1J7|
A quick test of the combo less the prop shows it to be a very smooth running combo with an equally smooth, linear throttle feel. There's even a full throttle LED much like those often found on surface controllers.
The video manual makes an odd bounce to the tailwheel installation, so I followed suit.
This is one nice preassembled tailwheel, all nylon with a rubber-tired nylon wheel. A pushrod guide is first pressed through a hole in the underside of the tail; the hole needed just a bit of opening so that the guide could be inserted. I used a dab of gap-filling regular CA to hold it in place.
Once in place, that guide will allow the pushrod some freedom of movement and prevents binding. It's a simple solution to the problem of binding, but a rather brilliant one.
Two of the same screws used to hold the motor in place - at least according to the video - are used to bolt the tailwheel to the plywood underside of the fuselage with the pivot point located directly over the hinge point of the rudder.
Trying to get those screws through the tough nylon proved difficult, but reaming the holes with a 7/64 drill allowed the screws to easily pass through them.
It was also the wrong approach.
The video appears to show those same screws, but these will be used later to attach the SFG panels to the wingtips. The thing that tipped me off was the still shot of the screws being inserted.
Those were washer head screws in that still.
I'd thought that I had ruined the darn thing, but the proper screws were only slightly smaller than the others. Some thin ESC reinforced the holes and the washer heads screwed down with plenty of bite.
Equally straightforward is the main undercarriage assembly; all the hardware is packaged together. A wheel retainer is slipped over the smooth part of the axle and tightened with a 1.5mm allen wrench, the wheel is slipped in place and a second retainer holds the wheel in place.
Once the foam assembly plugs are removed from the foam wheel pants, it's important to note there is a wooden plate glued on one inside surface. The threaded part of the axle goes through the plate and the opposite side through the unreinforced hole on the other side of the pant.
The threaded shank goes through the hole in the carbon fiber main landing gear strut and held in place with a nylon locknut.
Once both wheels are in place, the assembly is bolted to the fuselage with a pair of ingenious custom-made nylon retainer bolts which can be easily removed by hand for storage.
The pants are glued in place once the rear tips are measured from the ground and are the same distance.
At long last: The wing assembly!
The wing roots are first glued in place; one of mine had a slight cosmetic flaw. It was in some graphics ink which had been applied too thick and rubbed off somewhat. I had the same experience with the black ink under one of the wings.
Once the ailerons are glued in place in the same manner as the elevator and rudder, the servos (and in this particular instance, some 6" extensions) are mounted in their openings. The ailerons should be mounted close to the root, but not so close as to cause interference. This is so they won't interfere with the side force generators later on.
One hole in each control horn which will be used for attaching the pushrod is drilled out with a 2mm (5/64") drill before being glued in place on each aileron - with just a dab to prevent potential damage to the underlying EPS according to the video - and further retained with hot glue. Strange, but it works and given the potential amount of control throw, some extra retention power doesn't hurt. I did the rudder and elevator horns in the same manner; the video doesn't give a specific step as to when.
One of the more ingenious ideas on the Edge 540 is the use of nylon servo arm extensions of the optimum length for really extreme 3D.
The extensions simply screw onto an existing servo arm along with the supplied EZ connectors. The holes in the arms lined up perfectly with the arms shipped already installed on the servos and it wasn't long before I had some very long servo arms without having the need to run to the hobby shop for aftermarket arms.
As for those EZ connectors, I tend to dislike the type that screw on with a little knurled nut as is the case here. Some blue threadlocking compound on the threads and a dab of gap-filling CA on top of the nut actually made for a very secure setup, although I would have used some of the Great Planes units I had on hand if not for the fact that the carbon fiber pushrods were a bit too large to pass through. That's just a personal prejudice and the factory units worked just fine in practice.
Those pushrods are fitted not with a clevis but rather a ball link, another brilliant touch. Once installed, the video instructs the builder to clip the control surfaces once more before connecting the receiver and applying power.
Anyone assembling a model of this caliber has doubtless assembled others; I'd already connected the receiver prior to assembling the servo arms in order to align the servos, so I aligned the control surfaces as I'd have done with any other model.
This time, the Airtronics receiver went in to stay with 6" extensions on the individual aileron channels to make it easier to connect and disconnect each aileron.
The installation of the optional side force generators with the final four screws completes each wing. For those opting to leave them off, the squared-off wingtips and the exposed screw grommets make for an incomplete look and my only real complaint about the appearance of the Edge.
I wanted to do some knife edge flight (and I like the look of the SFGs anyway), so on they went.
Before the cowl is installed, plugs for the prop and air openings have to be popped out followed by a foam shipping plug removed through the rear. The hooks at the rear of the cowl are inserted into corresponding slots in the firewall and the cowl gently pressed downward. It's a nice way of attaching a cowl and one which makes it easy to remove if needed.
Prior to the installation of the APC 13x6.5E prop, the video shows that the motor doesn't line up with the prop opening. No big deal, but there was a bit of interference between the upper rib and the motor can. A bit of surgery with the X-Acto cleared up the problem and once the prop and spinner were in place, the Edge was complete.
No suggested control surface throws are given. I initially set the high rates at 100 percent throw and 40 percent expo all around and the low rates at 65/30 elevator, 60/30 aileron and 60/30 rudder.
Regardless of the settings, the control throws are incredible; that claim of sixty degrees throw is no lie. Those kinds of throws made me glad I'd ordered up metal-geared servos for this model.
Center of gravity is measured by lifting the model at the forward hatch retaining magnets and may, of course, be adjusted for with battery location. Mine balanced ever so slightly nose heavy per the video with the battery installed forward and experimentation showed a wide balance range. Sport plane to 3D simply means mounting the battery a bit farther back.
If the YouTube videos I'd seen of this model were going to be any indication, I was in for a great time at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club in Thermal, California.
Club videographer George Muir was on hand to record what would be the maiden flights of the Edge since I was unable to fly it prior to that day.
The range check tested fine and so too did the ground handling. There is a lot of rudder throw which equated with plenty of steering, even on the low rate setting I'd chosen.
I taxied out, called for takeoff and hit the gas.
The Edge was airborne almost immediately, climbing out about as perfectly as a model airplane could. A bit of down elevator was all that was necessary to get the Edge on edge, as it were. No bad habits at all.
I generally don't push models very hard on the first flight since I like to first get a feel for how one handles and also for George's benefit, but I could have thrown it into high rates and just have gone crazy the moment it got up to cruising altitude. That's how good it felt. It flew with an almost trainer-like ease, tracking around the pattern without the slightest hint of handling problems whatsoever.
There probably aren't a lot of 3D-capable models on the market which are equally home as lazy Sunday flyers, but this is definitely one of them.
That first landing was nearly perfect as well, with only a slightly early flare keeping it from being totally greased.
The video depicts flight number three and the only reason I was holding back at all was in order to keep the model in frame. I was on high rates most of the time as well, but even with such massive throws, the Edge never felt out of control. It just went where I pointed it, even touching down in a crosswind with comparative ease.
"Watt a plane" is right.
I was lucky enough to put the Edge back in the air shortly after George had to leave and after the wind died down a bit. A father and son who were visiting the club that day stopped to chat, drawn by the Edge up on the bench. I had one more charged li-po, so I thought I'd put on a bit of an air show for them. Here's what I found:
Rolls: Perfect. Just perfect. I started the flight with a couple of slow rolls to either direction and followed up with a rather good four-point roll to the right. It simply tracks through rolls as good as anything I've ever flown.
Loops: Again, perfect. Inside as well as outside. My piloting was off a bit during my first attempt at a plain old inside loop, but that was all it took for me to get a feel for the tracking. I pulled off a much nicer Immelmann Turn than the one in the video soon after and I would have done a Cuban Eight had I thought to do so.
Inverted Flight: The Edge will roll onto its back with ease and stay there with virtually no elevator. In fact, I had to take it easy on down elevator since it wanted to simply outside loop back to regular flight.
3D: This is where the Edge shines, as seen in the YouTube videos linked below. I'd balanced it a bit more tail heavy than I had done for the first flight, but keeping it hanging on the prop was a challenge. I hasten to point out that's because of my unfamiliarity with the plane; it historically takes a few flights for me before I can get a 3D model doing its 3D thing.
Knife Edge Between gobs of rudder throw and the side force generators, the Edge knife edges with authority with enough airspeed going in. It's about as easy to fly sideways as can be, lacking only the ability to perform a knife edge loop. It might very well have done so with a higher pitched prop. I'd just run out of throttle!
No model of this configuration is suitable for a raw beginner. It lacks all of the characteristics which help to right a trainer; it goes where it's pointed. Those comfortable with flying an aileron-equipped trainer should be able to fly this model just fine with reduced control rates and work up to more aggressive rates. The light wing loading makes it very forgivable on landings.
Max puts the prototype Edge 540 through its paces, including the first video of the the model in flight filmed outside of China:
Wattaplane has scored a huge hit with the Edge 540. It has all of the lightness of a foamy with the flight characteristics of a traditionally built model. It goes from Sunday sport flyer to one of the most 3D-capable models of this size with little more than some rearward balance and increased control throws. Fit and construction are equally as high quality and high class; this is a model to be proud of and may someday become a benchmark for foam sport/aerobatic planes.
Two thumbs way up and then some. It's just that good.
I simply cannot thank Max Xu enough. He took a lot of time and trouble to get me a sample imported straight from the factory and a motor and ESC shipped from Canada. His enthusiasm for 3D and sport flight are evident in this fantastic model.
Mike Greenshields of Global Hobby Distributors is a joy to work with and I've had the privilege to do so for several years now. He is more than willing to help with these reviews and I thank him with everything I have for the Airtronics RX600 receiver.
Suzanne Lepine represents the fine products of Hitec RCD with class. I knew this special model needed special servos and the Hitec HS-65MG units she sent for this review were perfect for the application. Thanks, Suzanne.
RCGroups administrator Angela Haglund is the backbone of these reviews along with our thousands of readers worldwide, just like you.
Feel free to check in often here at the family-friendly group of RCGroups.com websites!
Pluses literally abound here:
Minuses are almost too trivial to mention:
I'll be making a few changes to the review once it's returned to the edit queue, but I can tell you that the wing mounting system is no longer magnetic but rather consists of a couple of nylon bolts. I'll also be adding some info on the ESC and its high-output BEC and I'll correct a couple of errors, one of which is the manufacturer. My Google search turned up the wrong "Skywing."
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