|Servos:||6 x 17g Digital servos|
|Transmitter:||BlitzRCWorks 6 Ch Transmitter 2.4GHz|
|Receiver:||BlitzRCWorks 6 Ch Receiver 2.4GHz|
|Battery:||4S 14.8V 2200 mAh 25C LiPo recommended|
|Motor:||1300 KV Brushless Outrunner|
|ESC:||50 Amp ESC with BEC|
|Available From:</b>||Banana Hobby|
At the January AMA Expo, Banana Hobby had a couple of different size Sky Surfers on sale, including one that was "Coming Soon" on display - the Sky Surfer Pro. I was considering buying the largest one, "The Super Sky Surfer," as it was on sale at a very nice price. I was going to use it as a Sunday fun flyer and as an occasional electric sailplane at the slope and at the flying field, and I wanted it to carry a camera to take videos of review planes in the air. But Pete from Banana Hobby told me the plane I was describing was the Sky Surfer Pro. He said it could be flown a three channel trainer, a Sunday Fun Flyer, An electric thermal sailplane as well as a slope glider and it would come with a mount for the Go Pro camera and with the space and lifting ability to carry FPV equipment as well. He said that it could be powered with a four cell battery and was capable of unlimited vertical climb when not carrying cargo and could easily carry a Go Pro camera as cargo. Pete convinced me to wait for the Sky Surfer Pro. He did not steer me wrong!
FYI:The plane came well packaged and the individual foam parts were in bubble wrap bags for protection. I was sent a tracking number when the product shipped and it was delivered on time with everything arriving in good condition.
The Kit Includes
I started the assembly process by installing the supplied decals onto the plane. To do this I just needed the decals and a hobby knife with a sharp new #11 blade. For the main wing decals a second pair of hands would have been helpful for one large decal per upper wing half, but otherwise it was a one person job, and I installed of the decals without help. There are decals on the sides of the fuselage that start near the nose and run back towards the wing. The hobby knife was used to carefully cut the decal right at the end of the detachable nose piece which is the access point for the battery pack. These decals were installed on the fuselage and then carefully cut so that they match up perfectly. Two quick but careful cuts of the side decals and the nose piece was free. Please note that the elevator has the elevator control arm on TOP unlike most RC planes, so be sure to apply the decals to the correct side as I did ... eventually. I have found it is much easier to apply decals to the parts before they are assembled. The decals went on very nicely for me.
I installed the BlitzRCWorks 6 channel receiver in the fuselage. The servo wires came with identification tags on them making the installation of the receiver very easy. I just plugged each wire into the proper channel. This let me make sure that the rudder and elevator servos were properly centered. Later when the wings were attached I made sure the ailerons and flap servos were properly centered before installing the control rods between the servo arms and the surface control arms.
In the ARF version I received, the wings came with the servos and servo wiring installed, the connecting clips already installed in the wing roots and the matching wire connectors installed in the fuselage. The field assembly will be discussed below under completion but it works really slick: the servo wires directly plug into connectors when the wings slide into the fuselage and come apart when you take the wing panels off. I had no assembly to do for these wires and connectors with my version of the plane as those parts came already installed. SWEET!
Since my first flights with the Sky Surfer Pro are going to be in the flight trainer mode with only three channel operation; I could have done no assembly on the wings for my first flights with the exception of locking the aileron and flap control surfaces in the neutral position. However, I went ahead and did the very minor assembly necessary for the wings. I installed the control rods between the servos and the flaps: four control rods installed by me in all on the wings. I tested the movements with my transmitter, and after confirming that the servos were working properly, I installed the servo covers. Each servo cover was secured in place with two screws.
The fuselage came almost ready to fly. The rudder and elevator servos came installed in the fuselage and the rudder servo control rod was already connected to the rudder. The wire connectors for the wing servos were already installed and only the connector ends needed to be installed into a receiver of my choice. I only had to install a cover on the foam canopy, install the flight battery and install the receiver. Later I will have to figure out where to install cargo when I use the Pro as a camera ship and possibly for FPV (first person video) flying.
The elevator control arm is on the top of the elevator and this keeps it up and out of harm's way when landing. Installing the horizontal stabilizer and pre-hinged elevator was very simple. I just slid it into the slot designed for it from behind and lined up the elevator control rod to slid into the E-Z style connector on the elevator control arm. The stabilizer has a molded foam block that fits into a matching foam block recess in the fuselage to guarantee proper alignment. The stabilizer was secured in place by a locking bar that came up through the bottom of the fuselage and through the stabilizer and locked in place in the top of the fuselage. The bottom of this plastic locking bar remains below the back of the fuselage and serves as a tail skid. I tightened the connector on the elevator control arm to lock onto the elevator control rod, and the assembly was complete. It's a nice design that required no glue and has held up fine in actual flight of the plane during testing.
Promoted Feature 8 is confirmed. I could see the carbon fiber spar in the horizontal stabilizer through holes in the underside and the two carbon fiber spars for the wing came ready to be installed in the wings.
The rudder came installed to the fuselage with foam hinges, and the control rod was already connected to the rudder control and the rudder servo arm.
The Sky Surfer Pro comes with a dark plastic cover that glues onto the foam canopy for a pleasing appearance. However, this covers the built in camera mount for the Go Pro camera. So instead of installing the dark plastic cover I just used a black Sharpie and colored in the area that the plastic piece would cover so I can still mount the camera.
The Sky Surfer Pro has a removable nose cone. The front of the fuselage is where the battery is installed. It extends out in front of the fuselage and is covered by the nose cone. The battery is installed so that it can extend out as far as possible into the nose cone.
Female wire connectors in each wing panel receive the male wire connectors mounted in the wing saddle of the fuselage to connect up the aileron and flap servos instantly when assembling the wings.
With the battery installed and the nose cone in place I checked for the plane's Center of Gravity (CG). Per the instruction manual the range for the CG was given as 70-80mm back from the leading edge. Using the recommended battery all the way forward I used a 2 ounce fishing weight right behind the battery to balance the plane at about 78mm back from the leading edge.
For my initial flights I set the plane up for three channel control. I unplugged the aileron connector wire from the receiver and plugged the rudder servo into that channel. I now had throttle control on my left stick; and rudder and elevator control on my right stick. I had flaps active and connected to my six channel and they could be used if I wanted them but I planned to fly in basic trainer mode.
The plane can easily have the flaps activated for flying with four channels while remaining basically under elevator, rudder and throttle control. Flaps allows for slower flight and that can be helpful, especially when landing at a small field or slope site.
After the initial test flights in trainer mode I unplugged the rudder from the aileron channel and plugged it into the rudder channel on the receiver and plugged the aileron wire into the aileron plug. I was now plugged into channels 1-4 and 6. The rest of my flying for this review would be using five channel control. I next removed the lock pieces from the aileron and flap hinge locks so that the control surfaces could freely move and be properly directed by the aileron and flap servos.
During the assembly process of a number of the promoted features were confirmed as accurate. Promoted features 3, 4, 5, 13 and 14 were all confirmed during the assembly process. The foam is indeed constructed of EPO flex foam. The assembly was simple and easy, it was also very quickly accomplished. With the main wing off the Sky Surfer Pro is easy to store and transport and the wing is very easy to attach at the flying field but see my cautionary tale below about paying attention and listening for the snap when the wings come together. I have switched the plane from 3 channels to five channel control a couple of times now and flipping the four pins to lock up the wing control surfaces as been quick and easy. The locks have worked well and the change can easily be done at the flying field between flights.
Below is a brief video reviewing the assembly and the locking pins that make the plane only three channel controlled.
|Banana Hobby's Sky Surfer Pro Assembly Discussion (3 min 30 sec)|
BE SURE YOU HEAR A SNAP OR SEVERAL SNAPS WHEN ASSEMBLING THE WINGS TO FLY!
When the wings are brought together you will hear a snapping sound as the wings come completely together. If you don't hear the connectors snap together (and you aren't hearing impaired) the wings are most likely not locked together and may come apart in flight. During the testing we had one flight where the wings seemed to be together but during the flight we lost aileron and flap control to one wing during the flight. The plane was landed using rudder extensively and in post flight review we could not remember hearing the wings click together during the assembly. My plane was fine but I now listen for the clicks when assembling the wings and don't talk during that part of the pre-flight preparation. My mistake could have cost me the plane so don't do what I did! Since paying attention to this I have had no problem with the wings being properly connected. I very much enjoy how simple it is to assemble the wings at the field and take them apart for transportation.
The plane allows for three different setups as discussed above. It can be setup as a three channel trainer with only rudder, elevator and throttle or it can be setup for four channel control with the addition of flaps. Full control comes with the addition of ailerons and five channel control. In the three channel setup I prefer to fly with the rudder on the right stick along with the elevator and just the throttle control on the left stick. The ailerons and flaps are physically locked in the neutral position when flying three channel so the plane handles as if it were a solid wing with no control surfaces. The only thing a bit unusual about flying the Pro in this setup is that it still has a lot of power and speed available and can be flown in an almost unlimited vertical climb. Accordingly I recommend some real throttle control for the Beginner pilot. Flying the Pro at a reasonable speed vs flying her fast gives the pilot more time to think and respond properly in controlling the plane.
Whether flying the Sky Surfer Pro as a three channel plane or with ailerons and flaps all launches are with hand tosses into the wind. Giving the plane 3/4s throttle and a firm straight forward hand toss the plane flew away from me and immediately started to climb. I used the throttle to control the rate of climb. I prefer to keep it nice and steady at the time of launch. I could launch with less throttle but I would not want to launch using more throttle as there was no need for more throttle. Launches have been uneventful tossing the plane into the wind. At the slop I launch her with no throttle and just toss her at a slightly down angle. If the wind is strong, I have a friend launch her for me so I have both hands on the sticks to respond to any push up and backwards by the wind by putting her into a dive.
Landings are also made into the wind. For my home flying field I seldom use the flaps as I have lots of space and if I come in a little hot I usually just fly around and make another approach. I land sliding onto the grass. I have used the flaps at my home field and when deployed they slowed down the Pro but also caused her to balloon up a bit so I hold in a bit of down elevator for my landings with flaps. The flaps have proven handy at the slopes where there is a limited landing spot and a more precise landing is required. During this review I was only at one such site but the flaps proved very helpful in making a precise landing. The key to this is of course practice and getting use to how the plane handles and responds to flap in different wind conditions. The Sky Surfer Pro showed no bad tendencies.
Turns are initialed with some rudder movement to the side you want to turn towards. For a right turn I applied some right rudder. As the plane banks and starts to turn I needed to apply some up elevator as is normal. I return the rudder to the neutral position as I near the completion of my turn and transition back to straight flight without need for any elevator. I found the control to be completely adequate. Practicing at elevation I made turns that bled of the Pro's speed and saw that she can have a nasty stall in a turn when flown too slowly so it is important to keep her speed up. That doesn't mean she has to be flown fast it just means I needed to fly her at a reasonable speed to maintain proper control. Beginners should fly at the largest field available to them and should not try turns when landing at slow speeds. I have taught many people to fly or taken them for their first flight and I found the Sky Surfer Pro to be an acceptable Beginner's plane. Her turning radius was acceptable with just rudder and elevator. Her climbing ability was unlimited vertical with a fully charged 4-cell 2200 mAmp battery pack. I also flew her with a 2600 mAmp 3-cell battery pack and found her speed was reduced but certainly adequate.
Promoted features 10 and 11 were found acceptable. I wouldn't go so far as to call her the perfect beginners RC pilot's first time plane but she is certainly acceptable as a trainer for a beginner. I have been converted to the very small and light weight micro trainers for calm conditions. For a good size plane I would be happy to work with a Beginner with this plane set up for 3-channel flight.
The flaps come down about 45 degrees but they are definitely effective at slowing down the Sky Surfer Pro but they also causing her to balloon up if some down elevator is not applied at the same time or programmed to happen with some flap and down elevator mixing. The advantage to the flaps is that they can help bring the plane down from high elevation and can help her slow down and land in a smaller space. Beginners should be careful using the flaps as they can make a stall during a turn more likely. I would recommend that the flaps be used only by advance beginners who are almost intermediate pilots and above. Skilled pilots will find them helpful. I have recently switched to a programmable transmitter to use flap and elevator mixing with my Sky Surfer Pro.
I have flown into several thermals with my Sky Surfer Pro and she started climbing in them even though the brake on ESC was not activated and the propeller was spinning and causing drag with the motor off. Since these were my initial test flights I had not been thinking about thermaling for those flights and hadn't worked with the speed controller settings. I was pleasantly surprised to see her climbing despite the propeller spinning and the drag it was creating. An instruction sheet had come with the ESC and when I got home I got it out and found I could program the speed controller to have the brake setting on. With the brake on the propeller no longer spins in the wind. She climbs in thermals much better now. I have found that once cored on a thermal she stays in the thermal much more readily when I use rudder and elevator control and stay off of the ailerons. She holds a nice banked position and I can drift with the thermal in a breeze. While she is in no way a competition electric sailplane she is a good Sunday flyer electric sailplane at the thermal site. All thermal flying has been done so far with no extra cargo on board.
I got out an extra pound of lead fishing weights and secured them firmly in the fuselage in the bay space as close as possible to the wing. I then moved the flight battery pack to just in front of the weight and my Pro was balanced slightly nose heavy at 60mm back from the plane's wing leading edge. She admittedly felt heavy in my hand but no more so than other planes that I fly. To launch her at a thermal site this time a ran forward a couple of steps and had the throttle at 3/4s and gave a good firm toss forward. She dropped a bit before picking up speed (from shoulder height to waist high) and starting to climb as I gave her a bit of up elevator, but just a little. The motor had more than enough power to carry and climb with the load using my standard four cell battery pack. I tried no aerobatics as I didn't want to risk the weight shifting on this test flight. I landed into the wind but had no need for flaps. Her glide ratio was greatly reduced with this extra weight so I needed power on longer to bring her home. I landed her softly on the grass and killed the throttle as she started her slide.
I don't fly FPV with modern equipment. I have flown camera planes with cameras for years and I enjoy watching the videos I have shot from the air but I also enjoy watching the plane in flight. I leave it to those of you who fly FPV to determine if the open space showed in the cockpit is enough space for your gear. I won't comment on what I don't know. But if your gear is a pound or less and the space is enough for your gear I do know that she can carry the extra pound but I will want to land before her battery runs low.
So I can say that promoted feature 7 is a yes as she carried an extra pound of weight beyond the normal battery and two ounces of lead I use for ballast. As for number 2 that is a yes for designed for RC beginners but I leave the FPV issue for FPV pilots to decide. I know she can carry the weight for some of the systems but I did not personally try flying her FPV.
By the time I got my Sky Surfer Pro to the Slope I had already programmed the ESC to have the brake on and the propeller does not spin in the slip stream with the motor off. There was about an 8 mile per hour breeze coming straight into the slope and I just threw the Sky Surfer Pro down the slope as I was alone. The breeze lifted her up to above my head and was pushing her back above and even with me by the time I got my right hand on the transmitter and fed in some down elevator. I flew her out from the slope and let her climb about 150 feet high and then I put in a few clicks of down trim. She handled flying the slope very well. I didn't have to use the motor at all but on a day with dieing breezes the motor could save me from a walk of shame if I had to land down hill when the breeze dies as I could just motor back up to the top of the hill and land.
She can climb vertically until she is almost out of sight and she can do great loops large or small. She thermals and flies slope and she flies nicely as a camera ship. However, to do aerobatics such as rolls in horizontal flight she really needs to be flown with power. The rolls are acceptable but not great but I didn't want this plane for aerobatics as I have lots of planes that do better rolls and aerobatics. She thermals with the motor off and she is a nice stable camera platform. That was what I was seeking and that is what she delivers best. I will do the occasional aerobatic roll or split S as they are acceptable and still fun to do.
Yes but in my opinion the beginner must use throttle management and fly her between 1/2 and 3/4 throttle until flight control has been mastered. Flown at full speed the Beginner will have less time to respond and more likely to make a mistake so I definitely encourage throttle management for the beginner. A lot of space for the first few flights is recommended as she does glide pretty well and no sharp turns flying slowly close to the ground or she will stall.
Below is Pete's video on the Sky Surfer Pro.
|Sky Surfer Pro! The Ultimate SS Flight Review in HD! (12 min 24 sec)|
|Sky Surfer Pro in Flight (2 min 17 sec)|
The plane was certainly easy and quick to assemble and that can easily be done in an evening including installing the decals that add a lot of color to this white foam plane. The wing can be quickly installed at the flying site and comes apart quickly for transporting the plane and easy storage at home. She flies nicely as an electric plane and as an electric sailplane and even thermalled without the brake set on the ESC. She easily carried a pound of lead and has a fairly good size storage area in the cockpit for equipment.
Quite honestly she was everything I was looking for in this style of plane. A fun Sunday electric flier. An electric sailplane that reacts to thermals and climbs in them when properly cored on the thermal. She can easily carry a camera and will carry my new Go Pro camera. In flight videos will hopefully show up in upcoming reviews. She can also be flown at the slope and if the wind dies I just power up to bring her back to the top of the hill. Despite her ability to climb vertically she is not a hot liner nor really a warmliner as the large fuselage keeps the speed down but she remains a very nice flyer and can be used as a trainer plane with from 3 to 5 channels.
I received a PM asking how to program the brake on the ESC to the brake on position. Instructions come with the plane but it is very simple to program using your transmitter. With the plane fully set up and otherwise ready to fly turn on the transmitter first and raise the throttle to full on. Plug in the battery to the ESC on the plane. It will play tones and then a little song. After the song lower the throttle to the off position. You will hear one beep letting you know it is in brake programming mode. It will give a single beep pause and then two beeps. push the throttle all the way up (Hold the plane keeping every thing away from the propeller just in case.) and then pull it back down and leave it there. After two seconds it will exit the programming mode. The brake is now on. Unplug the battery pack and turn off the transmitter the brake will be on every time you fly and unless you reprogram your ESC.
All of my transmitter throws are in normal 100% programming position. I have done no programming to the transmitter. I have the plane out today and will measure the surface movements when I am at the field today. The plane is set up per the instructions with no mechanical movements altered on the linkage of the control rods at the servos or the curves control horns. We are painting part of the house and somethings were trapped for a few days.
I flew the Sky Surfer Pro today in Modesto and back here in Stockton. My ailerons, flaps and rudder were all moving about 9/16 of an inch at 100% rate full throw. I increased the flap throw for the flaps to 12/16" at 150% throw That changed it from approximately 45 degrees to close to 60 degrees and slowed the plane down even more. Since coming home I have changed the switch to have three positions with full up, approximately 30% down and almost 60% down. This will be worked with further. I switched to an ROC 4-cell 2200 battery which in my hand felt a bit heavier and I removed the 2 oz weight I had been using. The battery is full forward. The recommended C/G is 70-80mm back from the leading edge and I am now back to 87mm back. I will do more flying tomorrow night if it is not to windy. My elevator throw is just under a 1/2 inch but that is plenty. I had a number of nice vertical climbs today. Mike H
Thank You Mike, what a great review !
You have calmed all my fears about the Pro and it's new features. As of late, I fly mostly powered glider types. DG-1000, Lanzo Racer, Sky Surfers (1400 and Super). One question, after looking at your pictures of the wing locking connections, how hard is it to separate the wings when done flying?
I'm starting to think that this is the best SkySurfer series out there.
I really do like the locking wings and gets rid of the wires (clean look)....
IF the wings are "flexing", will the ailerons and flap servos lose power?
(loose connection in the servo connection?)
I have not done any super stressing of my plane but I have done some diving and quick climbing that made the wings flex. I had no loss of power or control to my wing servos that I am aware of. Flexing is usually greater away from the fuselage and the connections are in the fuselage where the flex and strain is usually less. If you have a catastrophic wing failure you are not flying the plane properly and will loose control. It is not something that concerns me. I will try and fly the plane next weekend at our West Coast Mini Festival of Flight. As CD and Raffle guy I have limited flying time but I will try to get it in my car and out to the field for some serious flyin one day next weekend. Mike Heer
Hey Folks! Heres my latest video of the Sky Surfer PRO from Banana Hobby...ENJOY!
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