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Jun 17, 2014, 11:22 AM
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Cool

Hello - I just purchased a pre-owned Apprentice 15e!


... almost exactly one year after purchasing my pre-owned Flyzone Sensei. It's not the newer (V2) re-designed one with SAFE technology, rather the original one (V1) from 2008. It seems to be in really good shape considering how old it could be. Just the plane and a battery - no transmitter or charger.

The plane has:
  • Stock BL15 outrunner, 840kV motor
  • 30A ESC with 0.7A switching BEC
  • AR500 DSM2 5-Ch receiver
  • 3x 13g metal gear servos (ailerons & elevator)
  • 1x 37g standard servo (rudder & nose gear)
The battery included in the deal is a 3200mAh 3S 11.1V 15C Li-Po.

Everything appears to be in working order. I'll be using one of my DX6i's (or both for buddy boxing).

I've got a bunch of 3S 2200 lipos (with XT-60s) so I'll be using those (with XT-60 to EC3 adapters) along with the 3200 battery included in the sale. It's great having the same batteries for my 450 helicopters, my Flyzone Sensei, and now the E-Flite Apprentice.

I've heard that the AR500 was prone to brown outs, the stock motor's base (made of a plastic like material) can get hot and melt, and the main shaft can get knocked out of alignment easily due to the motor's plastic-like features. I also realize the ESC has a rather weak BEC (700mA). And the wheels are small - not good for grass at all - thus the prop is only about an inch from the ground. All things that I'll keep an eye on for sure. But this plane has obviously been flow at least a few times successfully, so I'm not overly worried about the above issues at this time. To be honest, the rubber bands make me a little nervous too, but I understand their purpose on a trainer aircraft such as this.

I'm really looking forward to the longer flight times possible with the larger battery and the plane's aerobatic capabilities. Who knows - maybe a few mods or upgrades here and there along the way Maybe even a Sensei vs. Apprentice comparison ...

So a few things needed attention:
  • One of the aileron control arms was broken.
  • One of the hinge-pins on the battery door was broken.
  • The tail fins (both rudder and elevator) have bends/creases, but no breaks.
I was able to fix up the aileron situation by stealing the servo arm from the elevator servo. Then I was able to swap a similar servo arm for the elevator servo from one of my old Corona servos. I cleaned up and re-taped the aileron wires in the wings a bit. I also added some wide packing tape along the main wing's leading edge.

A new battery door, elevator, rudder, some rubber bands, an extra prop and some extra clevises are on order from RC Planet and should be here tomorrow.

I re-programmed the ESC and selected the wider (1.1ms to 1.9ms) throttle envelope as I didn't like the dead zones at low and high stick with the default envelope (1.2ms to 1.8ms).

I'm thinking of re-locating the ESC up on the firewall inside the cowl instead of it's factory location inside the fuselage. I feel that it's too close to the DSM2 receiver and antenna and it will benefit from the extra cooling it will get up in the nose of the plane.

Hopefully a maiden flight and video in a few days after the new parts arrive and I get her all dialed in ...

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Nov 19, 2014 at 08:29 PM.
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Sep 19, 2014, 09:42 AM
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Let's Get Started


The replacement parts from RC Planet showed up yesterday. I'm REALLY impressed with their packing and shipping - A++! They really made sure the tail fins were protected with extra sheets of cardboard, LOTS of bubble wrap, then LOTS of brown crumpled shipping paper. I'm pretty sure the $4.50 they charged for shipping (USPS 2-3 day) wasn't sufficient. I'll just have to send some more business their way

The replacement tail fins look great, but the vertical stabilizer needs to be glued into that plastic base first, and I wasn't sure which glue to use. At first I was thinking Gorilla glue, but it says on the bottle that it's not for plastic. Somebody in a thread said to use that Forumula 560 canopy glue, while another said contact glue. Someone else said plain old Elmer's glue and/or hot glue. I don't want to use ShoeGoo (like I do on the Sensei and it works great) because I don't know what kind of foam/material the tail fins are made out of (evidently they're not Z-foam like the rest of the plane, per some E-Flite document I read somewhere). So I'm going to give 5-minute epoxy a go - Horizon tech-chat last night recommended that as well.

BTW - I mentioned ShoeGoo works great on the Flyzone Sensei's AeroCell foam. But it does not work well on the E-Flite Apprentice's Z-Foam. It doesn't meld with the Z-Foam, rather it sets up and remains it's own thin layer and just sticks to the parts. Regardless, the Apprentice's tail fins and that support panel on the bottom of the fuselage (with the three holes) is not Z-Foam but some other (non-disclosed) foam material (?)

I also picked up some DuBro 2-1/4" Lite foam wheels from HobbyTown to replace the little 1-3/4" stockies . I'll cut some 5/32" brass tubing 'bushings' to enlarge the 3mm axles to 4mm, just like on the Sensei ...

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Sep 21, 2014 at 11:13 AM.
Sep 20, 2014, 11:47 AM
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New Battery Door


This was the easiest part to replace. I couldn't find the exact door that's on this plane. So I used the one for the S 15e (without the air vents). Seems to fit just fine.

I'll see if I can cut and glue some CF rod onto the original door and keep it as a spare ...

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Sep 21, 2014 at 11:12 AM.
Sep 20, 2014, 11:50 AM
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Prepare Vertical Stabilizer


Mixed up a batch of 5min epoxy and attached the stabilizer to the base.

I'll leave it sit while the epoxy sets and cures - 24 hrs.

This is the same epoxy I bought back in Aug. of '09 when I needed to start repairing Quark S.R.B foam blades. Didn't realize it would be a lifetime supply ...

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Sep 21, 2014 at 11:12 AM.
Sep 20, 2014, 11:57 AM
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Some Wheel Mods


I cut three lengths of 5/32" tubing for the new Du-Bro 2-1/4" Super Lite Wheels (225SL). The wire axles are approximately 3mm dia. The Du-Bro wheels are for 4mm dia. axles. The brass tubing fills the gaps.

I didn't like the soft phillips screws (stock) used on the wheel collars so I replaced them with set screws. I had a bunch of them with my 450 helicopter pinion gears. Don't forget blue threadlock!

The new wheels fit great and I gained a little bit of distance between the prop and the ground. With the 5/32" 'bushings' I can upgrade to other Du-Bro wheels sizes - 2-1/2", 2-3/4" or 3", but I might need to switch the front nose gear wire to the one used on the S 15e as it's formed to accommodate a larger wheel than this one is ...

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Sep 21, 2014 at 11:13 AM.
Sep 21, 2014, 11:04 AM
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New Tail Fins


After letting the epoxy setup and cure on the vertical stabilizer for 24 hours I went ahead and finished up the job. Had to install the control horns (which were included along with the screws), but I was surprised to find out that E-Flite doesn't include the two tail screws (2.5mm x 12mm) required to secure the tail fins to the fuselage (?).

They're much stiffer than the ones that were on the plane, but man they are SUPER WHITE and really stand out from the rest of the 'seasoned' plane.

I also replaced the two clevises on the rudder and elevator with new ones - and they are very tough to get on and turn !

Okay ... All ready to dial her in and set the control surface throws as per the user's manual ...

Starting out with the DX6i (DSM2):
  • Low rates = 70%
  • High Rates = 100%
  • Expo (all) = 30%

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Sep 23, 2014 at 10:36 PM.
Sep 21, 2014, 11:10 PM
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Oops!


Brand new pack of Apprentice rubber bands. One breaks while on the plane !!??!!

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Oct 25, 2014 at 07:44 PM.
Sep 22, 2014, 08:18 PM
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Two Maiden Flights


Last flights of summer They went great. Flight #1 was 5 minutes. Flight #2 was 2.5 minutes. Took it easy- only a few loops Same battery. Should be able to get 10 minutes easily. Probably more with throttle management and gliding. Plane flies great at 50% throttle too. A few clicks of aileron and elevator trim were required - will have to revisit those clevises

However, the battery connection wires to the ESC are way too short for my liking.

E-Flite Apprentice 15e - Flights 1 & 2 (11 min 31 sec)

Battery usage stats (from flights 1 & 2):
  • Flying time (approx): 7 min 30 sec
  • mAh used (from balance charger): 836mAh
  • Average Current: 6.69A
  • Discharge Rate: 111 mAh/min
Estimated Flight Times (leaving 80% in the pack):
  • 3200 mAh => 22 min 58 sec
  • 2200 mAh => 15 min 47 sec
Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Sep 27, 2014 at 09:29 AM.
Sep 23, 2014, 10:09 PM
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15 Minute Flight


Very nice. Working on that 'trust' thing. After a successful 15 minute flight I'd say we've made some progress A couple of landings during the flight (timer adjusted), but then right back up in the air. More looping, some inverts, and increased throttle during this flight resulting in higher current draw compared to flights 1 & 2.

This plane has great ground handling as well - the steering is tight and the plane tracks on the runway in a very consistent and impressive manner. I felt the need to relocate the nose wheel clevis out one hole on the servo's control arm from the stock location to eliminate some binding that was occurring during maximum rudder stick inputs. As a result this plane can now turn on a dime as shown at the end of the video !

Apprentice 15e - Flight 3 (15 Minute Flight) (17 min 52 sec)

Battery usage stats (from flight #3):
  • Flying time (approx): 15 min
  • mAh used (from balance charger): 2074mAh
  • Average Current: 8.28A
  • Discharge Rate: 138 mAh/min
Estimated Flight Times (leaving 80% in the pack):
  • 3200 mAh => 18 min 33 sec
  • 2200 mAh => 12 min 45 sec
Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Sep 23, 2014 at 10:43 PM.
Sep 26, 2014, 05:14 PM
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3 More Flights


Stuck the Mobius on top of the wing and took her to Busse for three more five minute flights, all on the same 3200mAh pack. The mosquitoes were ridiculous.

Apprentice 15e - Flight 6 (6 min 45 sec)

All 3 cells settled down to around 3.8V after the flights.

Battery usage stats (from flights 4-6):

Flying time (approx): 15 min (3 x 5 minute flights)
mAh used (from balance charger): 1827mAh
Average Current: 7.32A
Discharge Rate: 122 mAh/min

Estimated Flight Times (leaving 80% in the pack):

3200 mAh => 20 min 59 sec
2200 mAh => 14 min 26 sec

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Sep 27, 2014 at 09:22 AM.
Oct 03, 2014, 09:12 PM
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Tape and Wheels


I noticed that the rubber bands and those plastic guards have begun to crease/distort the trailing edge of the wing in that area. So I used some white Gorilla Tape (thick & strong stuff) to 'extend' those plastic guards out about an inch or so on each side.

And, I picked up a set of Apprentice S15e wheels (2.5"/65mm dia.) just because Strictly RC had them on the shelf I'll try them out and see if I like them better than the DuBros ... The larger diameter wheel actually fits on the front nose gear as long as that plastic spacer is used (it keeps the wheel away from the bend in the wire). Wider tires may not fit due to the length of the nose wheel axle.

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Oct 04, 2014 at 01:13 PM.
Oct 08, 2014, 08:45 PM
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3 More Flights


Actually 5 more, but 3 of them from the same 3200 pack:

Battery usage stats (from flights 7-11):

Flying time (approx): 15 min 30sec (3 x 5 minute flights)
mAh used (from balance charger): 1895mAh
Average Current: 7.32A
Discharge Rate: 122 mAh/min

Estimated Flight Times (leaving 80% in the pack):

3200 mAh => 20 min 59 sec
2200 mAh => 14 min 26 sec
Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Oct 08, 2014 at 08:52 PM.
Oct 12, 2014, 01:43 PM
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Some New Scenery


Another 14-15 minute flight - this time with more aerobatics & throttle. 3.7V per cell after the flight.

Apprentice Flight 14 - Deer Grove (Split) (14 min 52 sec)


Apprentice Flight 14 - Deer Grove (15 min 16 sec)


Those 2.5" Apprentice S15e wheels worked great in the grass!

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Nov 08, 2014 at 08:38 PM.
Oct 22, 2014, 07:12 PM
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Broken Steering Arm


Oops! Decided to replace the stock nose gear wire with the S15e one - this gives you an additional 0.5" prop-to-ground clearance as it raises the nose up a bit. In the process of swapping them the stock nose gear arm split up the middle and broke in half. Had to remove the entire firewall to get the broken piece out.

I'm going to replace the firewall and nose gear arm with newer ones from the S15e, which 1) allow servicing of the nose gear arm without removing the firewall, and 2) allow floats to be attached.

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Nov 08, 2014 at 11:03 PM.
Nov 08, 2014, 06:05 PM
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New Parts Arrive


Finally! After 2-1/2 weeks the parts finally showed up!!! Had a LHS order them. After 2 week wait - back ordered. Purchased from RCPlanet. After 3 day wait - back ordered. Tried A-Main - Success!

I really like the new parts over the stock parts. The nose wheel now sits about an inch forward, and is bent forward slightly as well. And it turns much more smoothly than the stock design.

Okay, so far:
  • New 15e Tail Fins
  • New S15e Battery Door
  • New S15e 2.5" dia. Wheels
  • New S15e Nose Gear Wire
  • New S15e Firewall
  • New S15e Nose Gear Arm & Mounting Strap Set
  • New Rubberbands
  • Repaired Aileron Servo Arm
  • Replaced Elevator & Rudder Clevises
  • Added White Gorilla Tape to Main Wing to Protect from Rubber Bands

Last edited by FR4-Pilot; Nov 08, 2014 at 11:03 PM.


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