Multiplex Heron High Performance RR Electric Sailplane Review - RC Groups

Multiplex Heron High Performance RR Electric Sailplane Review

Multiplex has a well earned reputation for their excellent sailplanes. The Heron RR has taken that reputation one step higher with outstanding speed, aerobatics and the ability to slope or thermal for extended times.

Splash

Introduction

MULTIPLEX Heron [english] (2 min 56 sec)


Wingspan: 2.4M
Wing: CFRP/aluminum tubular spars, four flap design
Weight: 2.9lbs
Length: 3.6'
Fuselage GRP "M" space technology design for rigidity
Construction: ELAPOR® model, 100% factory-assembled
Servos: Two Nano-S servos, four Tiny-S servos
Transmitter: 7 Channel + Transmitter
Receiver: 7 Channel Receiver
Battery: 3S 2200mAh LiPo
Propeller:< 12 x 6" folding propeller
Motor: PERMAX BL-O 3516-0850 motor
ESC: MULTIcont BL 40 S-BEC speed controller
Manufacturer: Multiplex USA
Available From: Fine Hobby Stores Everywhere
Price: $169.88 Kit
Price: $374.99 RR

I have flown and still fly a number of Multiplex sailplanes. From the little Merlin that I assembled in the car while riding to the Arizona Electric Festival to the large full house Cularis and the wickedly fast Blizzard. All have been well designed and the ELAPOR® foam has worked wonderfully in these planes. I have always followed their recommendations and used the recommended glue for the ELAPOR® foam. With the excellent experiences I have had with past Multiplex planes I was very interested in seeing the Heron first hand and how she performs. My initial information on the Heron came from informational promotions on the Internet. I have combined some of this information as it provided a starting point for me to know what to expect. I will analyze these claims briefly in this report and in my conclusion and discussion on how she performs.

The MULTIPLEX HERON is a high-performance electric T-tail glider with a high-efficiency wing. The Permax brushless motor with folding propeller provides great penetration and climb when needed or desired. With its elegant wing and flowing fuselage lines it responds superbly to thermals. The wing has four large control surfaces and the camber for those control surfaces can be programmed for slight deployment for launch or coring a thermal or deployed down for landing or Crow with flaps down and ailerons up for landing. The camber can also be programmed for slight reflex to help quickly penetrate out of sink. It can provide docile flying characteristics or excellent performance in the air to ensure that the HERON provides a maximum of flying pleasure. You can enjoy slope flying or thermalling through the air for long periods of time. You can also perform lively aerobatics at the slope or above the thermal field. Activate the motor and do it again with elegance and precision. Its four-flap wing is equipped with an innovative CFRP/Aluminum tubular spar technology for extreme rigidity and stabilization,

This system has worked excellently through my test flights but there is no central shared wing rod between the wings. The short wing rod coming out of each wing goes into a short molded box on the other wing half and these short wing rods are parallel to one another. This system somewhat blew my mind when I first saw it (What the HECK?) but I can happily report it has worked great!

Kit Contents

Kit Contents

  • Fuselage with Brushless motor, ESC, prop with spinner and tail servos installed
  • Right and Left wing with aileron and flap servos installed
  • Horizontal stabilizer and elevator
  • Small bag of parts: Two tail bolts, weight, wing locking pin, Allen wrench, hook and loop material
  • Instruction manual, motor and ESC manuals

The Receiver Ready version comes with six servos installed: four Multiplex Tiny-S and two Multiplex Nano-S. If you are getting the ARF version I recommend using these servos as the plane has been molded for their size and they have the torque needed to properly fly the Heron.

Additional Items Needed to Complete the Heron

  • 3S 2200mAh LiPo Battery
  • Balance LiPo Charger
  • 7 Channel + Transmitter
  • 7 Channel Receiver

Multiplex Promoted Key Features

Promoted Key Features

  • 5-Channel Control
  • Four-flap wing for high performance in the air (camber-changing flaps) and accurate spot-landings (butterfly / crow) that is ultra-efficient
  • Broad Performance Spectrum: High-Speed, Aerobatics & Thermal Soaring
  • Innovative CFRP / ALUMINIUM tubular spar technology for strong, stiff wing stability
  • GRP “M-SPACE Technology” Creates a Rigid Fuselage
  • Elegant, Streamline Design
  • Includes high-power brushless motor and folding propeller
  • Clear canopy with highly detailed cockpit
  • Detachable Wings and Tailplane for Easy Transportation

Multiplex recommends fitting out their exciting new electric glider with their MULTIGyro G3, which effortlessly compensates for the effects of gusts and turbulence. The gyro gives you the sensation of piloting a perfectly trimmed, much larger model through the air. (Unfortunately, not tested as part of this review.)

Final Assembly

In my RR version of the Heron all of the components came fully assembled and there was NO building, No use of glue, required by me. I only had to do final assembly of the components to the fuselage and install a receiver, a flight battery and properly program my transmitter.

Wing

The wing came in two fully assembled halves with the servos for four control surfaces, two per side already installed and connected. I will be using the inner control surfaces as flaps and the outer control surfaces as ailerons and as part of the braking system for landing with Butterfly/Crow. In looking at the wing's bottom side, metal rods are clearly visible in the four control surfaces to stiffen them and give complete control surface movement. A thick aluminum wing rod is installed in both wings and can be seen clearly at the wing roots and through the foam going out a great ways in the wing for strength and stiffness in the wing. Rather than a single wing rod in the center that both wings slid onto the wings have their own individual rods that install parallel to one another inside the fuselage. These short square shaped rods fit into a molded mount for them in the root of the opposite wing half. They end up side by side and are not joined together. In testing including high speed dives the wings have performed flawlessly and this system has worked very well throughout this review.

The wings also lock into place with a supplied wing pin that goes into the wing at the front of the cockpit area to lock the wing in place for flight. A design that is new to me and does not in any way interfere with the plane's aerodynamics. Again nothing for me to do here but admire the design and craftsmanship that has gone into the wing.

Fuselage

No work was needed to finish the fuselage. The brushless motor was installed in the nose as was the folding propeller and spinner. In the cockpit area was the ESC and it had a Multiplex battery connector wired onto it. Servos were installed in the vertical stabilizer for rudder and elevator control and four servo extension wires were mounted in the fuselage wing saddle to connect with the aileron and flap servos in the wings. The servo wires all ran forward to the back of the cockpit and were ready to install into a receiver.

My last Multiplex plane was the SHARK RR and its ESC came with a Dean's type connector. I didn't have any LiPos with Multiplex connectors so I changed the battery connector on the ESC to an AC3 connector as I have 3S 2200mAh LiPos with that connector and I was anxious to get the Heron into air. With advance knowledge you can buy flight packs with Multiplex connectors and no change to the ESC will be needed.

Tail

The rudder came installed and connected to a servo mounted in the vertical stabilizer. The horizontal stabilizer can be installed at the flying field as it connects to the elevator control rod that has a 90 degree bend and slides into a mount in the bottom of the stabilizer. The elevator control rod is adjustable by screwing it to get it into the correct neutral position for the elevator. (It turns very easily so see the tip below to keep it in position when the horizontal stabilizer is off of the fuselage.) When properly positioned there was proper throw of the elevator. The horizontal stabilizer is secured with two plastic bolts into the top of the vertical stabilizer for the T-Tail configuration. There is only a little thread that goes into the stabilizer and a good size flat blade screwdriver does this job easily. Just push down so the bolts get to the start of the small screw-in area.

TIP

My friend Jeff also noticed how easily the elevator control rod turned when not connected and he recommended using some 3M painter's blue tape to secure it in place at the proper adjustment when the stabilizer is not connected to it. I agreed with Jeff that it was a good tip and I secure the control rod in place with low stick blue tape when the stabilizer is off of the fuselage. That way my elevator will be properly set up for every flight now that I have the plane in trim.

Radio Installation

The Aurora 9X would be an excellent radio to use for flying and getting the most out of the Heron. It has 4 times the resolution of its predecessor, the Aurora 9. It is a triple protocol radio which allows selection from the G1 and G2 Adaptive Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (AFHSS) or Secure Link (SLT) 2.4GHz technologies. It features dual processors for fast low latency response and ultra-smooth 4096 resolution. It has more than 30 additional programming enhancements and new dynamically assignable switches, it will supply complete control of the Heron to sailplane pilots. It has nine sailplane wing types and six sailplane tail types with a wide number of mixes and a wide variety of camber settings for the wings trailing edges of the four control surfaces.

Any brand of radio can be used and while even a six channel radio could be used I recommend a radio that will allow for changes in the wing camber with the flick of a switch or two for different camber positions and thereby, different flight modes.

There are seven servo connectors in the fuselage and they are for the following functions: left and right ailerons, left and right flaps, rudder, elevator and throttle. For the first flight we went very simple with no programmed flight modes, no change of camber. The video below was shot with the Heron in this simple setup. She flew great, she could catch thermals and perform aerobatics. For simple fun you can use an acro program and fly her much of the day with a few batteries.

Later, I changed the wiring and programmed in different flight modes which allowed me to use the advance programming in the transmitter to use different camber settings for normal flight (no camber adjustment), speed/penetration with 3mm of reflex on ailerons and flaps, thermal with 3.5mm of down ailerons and flaps to slow her down and help core in a thermal, and landing with Butterfly/Crow flaps down and ailerons up.

Whether I was using a simple setup or a sophisticated sailplane program with multiple flying modes and camber settings, I greatly enjoyed flying the new Heron. The radio setup you want to use is up to you. For all you non-sailplane pilots; Welcome! You can use a simple acro setup you are most likely used to using in a power plane with flaps and learn about the joys of sailplane flying.

Completion

The wing halves slide into the wing saddle in the fuselage and the aileron and flap servos plug into connectors mounted in the bottom of the wing saddle. The second wing half slides into place like the first and the servos are plugged into the connectors in the wing saddle. with both wings in place a supplied wing locking pin is slid into position from the back of the cockpit as described and shown above. The tail control rod slides into its holder on the elevator and the stabilizer is secured in position with the two supplied mounting bolts. The assembly at the field is quick and easy and the plane can be stored and transported in its original box for good protection of the plane.

Center of Gravity (C/G)

The receiver was previously installed and pushed back under the wing saddle. The back of the 3S 3200mAh battery is just under the wing saddle and the front of the battery is installed in the middle of the cockpit, positioned to balance the plane on the recommended C/G of 65mm back from the leading edge of the wing where it meets the fuselage. This required positioning is shown in the first picture below. The C/G balance points under the wings are shown in the next two pictures.

Multiplex Recommended Control Surface Movement (Guidelines Only)

Elevator

  • Up: +10mm
  • Down: -10mm
  • Powermix: -0.5

Rudder

  • Left: 20mm
  • Right: 20mm

Ailerons

  • Up: +16mm
  • Down: -8mm
  • As flaps: +2/-2

Camber Changing Flaps

  • Aileron: +10mm
  • Up flaps (Speed) +3mm
  • Down flaps ((Thermic) -3.5mm

Spoilers (Butterfly/Crow)

  • Both ailerons up: +22mm
  • Both flaps down: -26mm
  • Down -elevator mix with spoilers: -5mm

Flying

Basics

This is a full house electric sailplane. It has ailerons, rudder, flaps and throttle. She can be flown under continuous power with her motor on but she is much more fun to climb to altitude and go motor off and look for thermals. Basic turns can be made with just ailerons and then elevator to raise the lower wing tip. Turns are smoother and look more realistic with the addition of about 25% rudder. I have programmed in an aileron/25%rudder mix that I can turn on and off. I use this mix when simply flying around or while looking for thermals. If a thermal is spotted I turn this mix off and when I get her into a thermal I ease off the ailerons while increasing rudder and adding elevator as needed. When in Thermal mode with 3.5mm down flaps and ailerons, I found she held her turn and nicely cored in thermals.

Since thermals go downwind in a breeze I made sure to keep her going down wind in thermals at my best estimate for the breeze. When she started getting too far downwind I would switch to speed mode and come flying up wind past me and resume patrolling in front of myself for the next thermal back in normal mode. She looks fantastic just flying my sweeping patterns in front of my position into the wind searching for the next thermal. She gets pushed to the side when she hits a thermal on the side and when she flies straight into one her nose goes down, her tail up and she starts to climb. Learn to spot her tells and have fun.

Taking Off and Landing

Hand launches

All flights start with a hand launch into any existing wind. I launch with a good firm toss pretty much parallel with the ground with a maximum of climb angle of 10%. With this method my plane launches in a glide with the motor off. When I get my tossing hand to the transmitter I advance the throttle to 50% and she flies pretty much straight forward and starts to climb. I apply more throttle and the climb steepens. When up to about 400 feet of altitude I stop the climb, turn off the motor and start searching forward for a thermal unless I see a strong sign of a thermal off to a side. I have found the Heron to be an easy plane to launch. Some may find it easier to launch with the throttle on at 50% and then advance the throttle as she picks up speed and is climbing.

Landing

Thanks to the main landing wheel under the cockpit and a smaller landing wheel in the tail I can land the Heron on a runway or in the grass. I treat runway landings as I would with a real plane and when possible I use a three leg approach with a downwind leg, a cross wind leg and then a turn onto final. Final starts over or in line with the runway and I like to make my approach in a straight line with a steady descent. motor is always off by the time of touchdown and is as much into the wind as the runway will allow. I have found good rudder control for the light cross wind conditions I have landed in thus far on the runway. Use of flaps gives a bit of a bump up when first deployed but I have not needed to use mix when using simple flaps to land the Heron. The flaps are effective in slowing and bring her down.

For the more advance sailplane pilot if Crow is used to land she will come down even faster. If you modify your Heron and are making competition landings with her Crow will be very useful. If you are doing fun flying than the flaps by themselves will probably be sufficient for coming down from altitude or for landing.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

She can be flown both at the slope and at thermal sites and stay in the air for extend periods of time. That is pretty special performance to me. But her special performance doesn't stop there as she is capable of aerobatics. Despite her 2.4M wingspan she does some pretty impressive aerobatics! Loops can be made small or huge and take up all the sky. She can do axial rolls, Immelmans, Split S's, or fly inverted all around the sky. She can do very impressive climbs, dives and high speed passes. She is not as fast as the Multiplex Blizzard which is a Hotliner but she is fast enough for me and a lot of fun. As described above she can thermal very well and stay up in the air for an hour or more at a thermal site or all day at the slope. This is one very enjoyable plane to fly and she looks majestic in the air.

On one test flight I launched and flew up to about 400 feet and turned off the motor. I caught a series of three thermals and had easy flying for about 35 minutes. Then a cold front came in with wind and a temperature drop. I was able to catch two more thermals but didn't get as much out of them as I would have liked as they and my Heron were going down wind much faster now. She penetrated back to the field well both times but I couldn't catch a final thermal to make the one hour mark I really wanted off of one powered climb. She landed 52 minutes after the motor went off. That is my best flight session so far but I just got her and flying has been aerobatic as well as thermal hunting. Not all launches have lead to catching thermals but when the conditions were right she has done a good job in the lift. I have not yet taken her slope flying but expect that will go well based on my flights at the thermal and power flying fields thus far.

Is This For a Beginner?

For the Beginner pilot? No! For the pilot who is intermediate or above and wants to fly an electric sailplane? Yes! This is a fantastic sailplane for an intermediate or better pilot whether they are an experienced glider pilot or not. I recommend the Multiplex Shark for Beginner pilots She my review of the Shark by clicking here:. Multiplex Shark Review

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

The Multiplex Heron Full House Electric Sailplane 2.4m. (5 min 43 sec)

Conclusion

Multiplex has designed another winner. She comes fully built and final assembly was quick and easy. As stated above the wing rod system shocked me at first but with each additional flight it proved itself to work very well even in high speed dives and fast passes over the runway. The Elapor makes for a beautiful plane and you almost forget she is made of foam as she looks so beautiful in the sky. The ability to keep her protected in bubble wrap for transportation and storage in her original box is a nice feature.

She is not a slow flier although she can slow down with her flaps. Her natural speed is impressive and allows her to search a lot of sky in the hunt for thermals. She gives recognizable tells when thermals are encountered although I did manage to fly through a few weak thermals and not catch them on the first run through. Generally, she showed the thermals to me and made me look good to my none sailplane flying friends. Just about the time my friends would forget I was in the air I would make a high speed pass whistling down the runway and then climb back up with an axial roll or loop and then return to my pursuit of thermals. With her main and tail wheels I can land on the runway when flying with my power friends or I can land her on grass at the thermal field.

She is an excellent flier! The wheels make her a fun flier that can land on runways. I suspect some pilots will be making modifications and flying her in electric competitions. I also suspect the kit version will probably be tested for pure sailplane flying and aerotowing. As for me I love her as an electric sailplane as she is so quick and easy to get in the air. Once in the air she is a joy to fly.

Pluses & Minuses

Pluses

  • RR version comes with all parts built
  • Field assembly is very quick and easy
  • The Heron can be stored and transported in its original box
  • There are two landing wheels so landings can be made on the runway
  • Plane is well designed, strong and aerodynamic
  • Has excellent appearance
  • Responds well to thermals with visible tells when encountering thermals
  • Flaps are very effective and Crow even more so

Minuses

  • Not designed for scored landings due to wheels.

Thanks

I want to Thank Multiplex USA for providing the Heron RR plane to RC Groups for review. I want to thank my friend Jeff Hunter for his assistance with this review and our editor for her assistance as well.

Last edited by Michael Heer; Jun 28, 2015 at 12:40 PM..
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Jul 10, 2015, 04:17 PM
1st to the scene of the crash
Laneritc's Avatar
Thanks for the review, waiting for this one!
Latest blog entry: Building the sig astro-hog
Jul 10, 2015, 04:52 PM
Registered User
Hussle's Avatar
In the 'Fuselage' section, I presume you meant EC3 connector rather than AC3?

Great review
Hussle
Jul 10, 2015, 05:03 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
1) Yes I used an EC3 connector.
2) There is only one really landing wheel. It is under the wing. What appeared to be a second small wheel in the tail is only a black piece of plastic designed to look like a wheel. There were even marks in the foam on both sides that could have been an axle so they fooled me. I apologize for not catching that. The main wheel has worked great so far on my landings on a runway. I have rolled on it with the tail level until the plane ran out of energy and stopped and the tail dropped. Mike
Last edited by Michael Heer; Jul 10, 2015 at 09:50 PM.
Jul 10, 2015, 09:32 PM
Registered User
unclefeathers's Avatar

Great in depth review


Wow you really provided a wealth of information. Thanks for a job well done
Jul 10, 2015, 11:45 PM
Registered User

Thanks Michael......


I'm an experienced sailplaner and have resisted "winch in the nose" models.....but love Multiplex models and their engineering.....now have to get this one. Great informative review!

BCNU,
Bruce in Austin
Jul 11, 2015, 08:41 AM
Pro Bro # 2398
GassPasser's Avatar
Nice !
Jul 11, 2015, 10:36 PM
Registered User
ForeverFlying's Avatar
Do you have weight and wing loading info?
Thanks!
Jul 13, 2015, 09:25 PM
Registered User
Oh no, more of my money going to Multiplex. Thank you for taking the time to post your very informative review. With a birthday next month and move after that the ability to store in its original box is a great selling point for me.
Jul 14, 2015, 05:33 PM
Team Hitec, Customer Support
Xpress..'s Avatar
Excellent review Michael!
Jul 15, 2015, 08:54 PM
Build to fly, fly to fix
So remains the $100k question, will Heron wings fit onto a Solius fuselage?? Yes there is the issue of the flap servos connection, but that seems to be it and that seems easy to workaround. And they are both exactly the same 1100mm in length.
Jul 16, 2015, 12:10 AM
Registered User
Phoenix239's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckbot
So remains the $100k question, will Heron wings fit onto a Solius fuselage?? Yes there is the issue of the flap servos connection, but that seems to be it and that seems easy to workaround. And they are both exactly the same 1100mm in length.
Yes, the Heron wings do fit the Solius fuselage with a workaround for flap servo connection.

I thought about buying the Heron wings for my Solius until I saw the price. May as well buy the complete Heron airframe and have a spare fuselage.
Jul 17, 2015, 05:45 PM
Registered User
Condor84's Avatar
How does that wheel work in grass though? I'd be interested to know since I mainly fly (well, rather land) on unimproved strips and grass. I would have liked to see a plastic fairing around the wheel instead of the foam because it looks like it could get pretty beat up, but it still wouldn't stop me from owning one. As long as the wheel and fairing don't get snagged up in the grass, I'd be fine with it. I originally had plans for a small wheel on my Guppy II Mk II, but upon ripping off the center wheel several times on my 1/2A SST landing in my rough sailplane fields, I tend to forgo any designs with a wheel unless they're heavily reinforced or can be retracted when landing at these sites. If the ruts don't get them, the tough as bamboo gras wrapping around the axels will.

However, I really like the looks of this sailplane for no-hassle thermal hunting.
Last edited by Condor84; Jul 17, 2015 at 10:34 PM.
Jul 17, 2015, 07:15 PM
Registered User

Heron Multiplex


Hello,

Sorry, my English is not very strong.
I have a Heron Multiplex.
We made a comparative Heron vs Solius
Here is the link:

http://www.jivaro-models.org/heron_m...html#heronwind
Jul 17, 2015, 07:53 PM
Build to fly, fly to fix
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryckey34
Hello,

Sorry, my English is not very strong.
I have a Heron Multiplex.
We made a comparative Heron vs Solius
ryckey34, you made a very good page with great comparison between th etwo planes.

I also found this on YouTube as comparison

Multiplex Heron vs Solius + maiden flight (5 min 31 sec)


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