Ele-Bee EPP Combat Wing

The Ele-Bee wings incorporate simple design, nearly immortal durability, exceptional looks, and cheap operation using inexpensive readily available electronics. EPP wings of this nature are excellent candidates for beginner aerobatics, flight training, combat, catching thermals, and duration flying.

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Specifications
  • Wingspan: 48"
  • Weight: 21.8 OZ
  • Motor: Speed 400 direct drive
  • Propeller: GŁnther push on (in pusher mode)
  • ESC: Jeti 180
  • Battery: 8x600AE
  • Manufacturer/distributor: Wind Rider Aviation

Introduction

Throughout the last five to six years, there has Been a large boom in EPP foam combat wings. These wings incorporate simple design, nearly immortal durability, exceptional looks, and cheap operation using inexpensive readily available electronics. EPP wings of this nature are excellent candidates for beginner aerobatics, flight training, combat, catching thermals, and duration flying. In this review, we will investigate a speed 400 EPP combat wing manufactured by Windrider Aviation. Windrider Aviation is a small company located in Hong Kong, China. They specialize in EPP foam flyers of all sorts, from simple free flight hand launch wings to fast and agile combat slopers. They are best known for their potent "Ele-Bee" combat flying wing. The Ele-Bee incorporates the best of both worlds; it is an accurately molded, very complete kit, which provides cheap and simple operation for beginners or veterans alike. The kit that I reviewed took merely one afternoon to put together, and that includes decorating it with colorful packing tape and setting up the control throws and mixing on the digital transmitter. So get ready and order up your Bee, because construction begins here!

Construction

After chasing the man in the big brown truck down the street a couple of times, I finally received my Ele-Bee. The box was slightly beat-up, but this was expected of a parcel that came straight from China to Canada. The box was sufficiently taped up and wrapped in thick brown paper. I impatiently unwrapped the long narrow box and lifted the top lid off, revealing the kit contents at last. Windrider prepared the box well for its long journey, because it was stuffed to the brim with shreds of newspaper.

Kit First Impressions - Wow, This Kit Has Everything!

After lifting out the two precision molded EPP wing halves, I was amazed at all the little goodies Windrider had included! I have too many little goodies to name in a sentence, so I will present them to you all in a small list.
  • Control horns
  • Pre-bent aluminum pushrod wires
  • Two whistles and a noisemaker (for whistling passes)
  • A Speed 400 motor
  • Two GŁnther push-on propellers
  • An assortment of about 20 glow sticks (for night flying, we will discuss this later)
  • Colorful stickers
  • Two rolls of packing tape (one orange and one green)
  • One roll of high strength fiber tape
  • Precut / pre-beveled ailerons
  • Color instruction manual
  • Battery tray / cover
Constructing the Bee is a very simple task to accomplish. I am quite confident that the average builder will spend no more then one week putting this kit together and getting it ready to fly. The instructions for each step are very brief, however this wing is so very simple to construct only about one to three sentences are necessary for a single step. Since this is a kit from China, the instructions had to be translated to English for the North American market. The Chinese/English translations are adequate and understandable, yet the sentence structure needs improvement. After flipping the manual open, I discovered just how little there was to this airplane. All you must do is follow the ten easy steps and you are in business, but I found out quickly this was not the case. After searching through the instructions two or three times, I found a minor glitch in the manual. Sure, it told how to build to build the airplane, but what about the electric conversion? The instructions said nothing about the electric version of the plane, and they were in fact intended for the slope version of the Bee! This, in the end, was not a major problem. The only instruction really necessary for the electric version is how to attach the battery tray to the top of the airplane. The solution to that problem is simple, as it gets taped down using a bit of packing tape.
The Bee's design and construction were well thought out, since Windrider Aviation fabricated the kit to require absolutely no glue. The two wing halves are joined with fiber tape (which is a very strong join even without glue), and the carbon fiber spar simply gets taped into a small slot in the top of the wing. The instructions said nothing about gluing the spar in, however I filled the slot with a little white glue just to be certain that it stayed put. The winglets are made of blue Coroplast, which is very strong and flexible. Windrider used an ingenious way to attach the winglets to the wing tips. Four self-adhesive Velcro strips cut to an airfoil shape simply adhere to the wing tips and the Coroplast winglets. The adhesive on the Velcro is very strong, so no glue is necessary. This method of attaching the winglets is a simple and effective one of which makes the Ele-Bee much more versatile and durable then it already is. I have had many chances to test this (on slope crashes / inverted landings) and if a winglet pops off, you simply stick it back on!
The modified servo placement
Windrider recommended that standard size servos should be used to control the airplane. Instantly, my "lighter is better" electric instinct kicked in, and I knew this had to be changed. The slope version would take the servos fine, but the speed 400 version would defiantly not like the one ounce plus extra weight created by using standard size servos (compared to S-80 size sub micro servos). This was unfortunate, as the servo bay was precut for standard size servos, which fit perfectly. I am not saying that standard size servos will make the plane un-flyable. I am simply suggesting that the lighter servos will be better for performance, better climb, more run time, better vertical, and better for sloping in light wind conditions. The modification to install the micro servos was very easy. I simply cut a hole for the servo exactly where the standard size servo arm would stick out (the micro arm was not long enough to stick out of the hole) and slipped the servo in there. A little chunk of white foam and a bit of epoxy made the servo stay put. I can pick up the loaded airplane by the top of either servo. Therefore, I am quite sure this is a safe installation. Make sure to position the servos so that the pre-bent pushrods reach where the elevon control horns are to be, or else you will be making your own.
The battery tray hatch is held down via small velcro tabs (not included in kit).
The battery tray is taped to the top-center of the wing. The way I did it was to put the motor in the pre-molded mount with a prop on, with it sticking it out the back far enough to get the required clearance for the prop. Unfortunately, this did not bring the balance far enough forward and I was forced to put a small weight in the front to move the balance to the correct position. If I were to do it over again, I would have cut a slot out of the back of the airplane so I could get both prop clearance and the ability to move the balance forward without having to add extra weight. The speed control must be installed now, because the wire must be routed under the tray into the receiver bay.
Three suppression capacitors are always a good idea if you want to reduce the risk of interference even further.
After installing the servos and battery tray, the elevons simply tape to the trailing edge of the wing. The control horns screw in the elevons with the supplied screws and are good and secure. The elevon wood is of reasonable quality, so no splitting occurred. The motor is soldered to the speed control, and the speed control can be attached to the bottom of the ESC area in the battery tray with either double sided tape or Velcro. Since the instructions were for a slope ship, I was not supplied with any sort of details on how to secure the motor. Twist-ties were included, so I just assumed I was supposed to use those. I drilled two holes on either side of the mount going straight through the wing, and fabricated a small ply plate to hold the tie back from digging into the foam on the bottom of the wing. One tie will do fine, but you may use two if you desire.
The receiver, servo, and receiver battery (slope version) bays are pre-molded and ready to accept equipment. They are covered with blue Coroplast covers (which are precut) and then finally taped over. I put the receiver in the bay that was farthest to the front, in order to bring the balance a bit farther forward. After routing the servo wires to the receiver (via small slots I cut in the foam with an Exacto knife) and setting up the radio/elevon mixing and trims, I taped over the bays with fiber tape. The aerial wire for the receiver was simply taped to the bottom of one wing panel. I have experienced no problems with this, even at spec out distances and flying with many others modelers simultaneously.
It's time now for the easiest part of the construction, decorating! Windrider supplies two big rolls of colorful packing tape. Mine were green and orange. Let your creative juices flow and make your Bee as pretty and visible as possible! I opted for a bright scheme, which did not require a whole lot of tape (in order to save weight). The white on my scheme is simply bare foam, and it is holding up very well so far. If you order a Bee, be sure to send a few pictures to me at buddly6(at)hotmail.com.
Another modification I have developed for the Bee helps with launching. I noticed that the receiver battery bay was not being used for anything, so I decided to give it a use. I cut a finger hole in the front of the bay, which helps for launching. That's right, no more of that "flying pizza" launching technique many other flying wings use. The hole allows you to chuck this thing hard with ease, and get it up to speed before you hit the throttle.
Windrider supplies nearly everything needed to complete the kit, including control horns.
This is how I would summarize this kit.
Hits
  • Very complete
  • EPP molded
  • Simple and well thought out design
  • Easy to fly and stable
Misses
  • No instructions regarding the electric Bee
  • Battery tray is flimsy, needs to be molded from thicker plastic
  • The battery is not mounted far enough forward to achieve the necessary balance point. You may need to add weight at the nose

Flying

Here is a smooth fly-by at half throttle For smooth and relaxing flying, the Ele-Bee is a great choice. The Bee is so maneuverable, we were able to pull off this shot.
Testing day was not exactly pristine conditions. The winds were 20kph, gusting to 30kph. I had heard on the RC Groups Discussion Forums that these types of flying wings were ideal for windy day flying, so I simply had to find out for myself. With the battery loaded, throws set correctly, and faced pointing into the wind, I did a quick throttle check. With a hard toss, I flung the Ele-Bee into the sky. Instantly I punched the throttle, and up it went. I found that the throws on the instructions were a little extreme; however, it seemed better after I dialed in 30% exponential for each axis. The plane flew superbly; I could perform every aerobatic maneuver in the book that doesn't require a rudder or unlimited vertical. It flies as good inverted as it does upright and can accept a throttle setting of anywhere between 1/4 and full throttle. You have no fear of damaging this plane whenever you fly it. It is durable enough to withstand almost any type of screw up, such as landing inverted after the BEC kicks in when the Bee is four feet off the ground (don't ask). Simply push the elevon trim all the way down and it flies itself inverted, and it is just as stable as it is upright. The Ele-Bee can fly in a space as confined as 100 by 100 feet, or you can punch the throttle and it can cover a lot of ground fast. Flight times range between four to ten minutes, depending on throttle use and thermal activity in your area. Thermal flights of 30+ minutes are possible on a nice cool morning (and this is where your flashy visible color scheme comes in).

Night Flying

Windrider supplies a small padded tube with the kit, in which hides 20 or so thin light glow sticks. These can be joined together in any order you wish, and come in three bright colors. These sticks are one-time use accessories, so pick a good night to try them. Your night should be calm. It is recommended that you take note of the wind direction, and you fly at a field free of obstacles, such as light poles, plane eating trees, etc. Use your creativity and design a light pattern, which will be visible from all angles of the airplane. Since the lights are so small and thin, they add very little weight to the Bee. On landing, make sure you descend slowly, as the ground is barely visible (if at all). Night flying is a thrill and I am sure the Bee will make it enjoyable for you!
All in all, I would recommend the Bee as a fun plane and aileron trainer or for someone who wants an aerobatic flyer that they won't be afraid to bounce. The kit is simple enough to understand and put together to be assembled by practically any flyer in a matter of hours. I applaud Windrider for their effort to get this excellent little flying wing on the market and am sure that when you receive your Ele-Bee, you will be just as happy with it as I am.
The finished bee, ready for another flight
Best Regards and happy flying,
Paul Penney "Buddly6"
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