HobbyKing's Rocsky Pterodactyl Ornithopter EPP Composite 1300mm RTF Review

You don't have to go to Jurassic park to see pterodactyls fly any more.

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Introduction

Terry has sound and eyeballs that light up when turned on. This first video demonstrates those features.

HobbyKing's Pterodactyl Screech (0 min 18 sec)

A You Tube video that seems to be from the manufacturer: ROCSKY

9imod.com-ROCSKY ROC1214001-A test flight (3 min 40 sec)


Wingspan: 1300mm
Weight: 650g
Length: 1000mm
Transmitter: Transmitter Battery: 3S 11.1V 600mAH LiPo (Mode2)
Range:500m
Receiver: 2.4GHz
Flight Battery: 3S 11.1V 1300mAh LiPo
Motor: Brushless
Charger: Charges transmitter and pterodactyl
Manufacturer: ROCSKY
Available From: HobbyKing
Price: $252.12 ARF

"Looking for something different? Recreate Jurassic Park with a radio controlled Pterodactyl Ornithopter complete with a screeching sound module." That is the opening to the description of this pterodactyl on the HobbyKing Website. I am ALWAYS looking for things pterodactyl! My favorite scene in the movie War Games is the professor flying his remote control pterodactyl glider. I have a pterodactyl glider from Germany for flying at the slope and some day I will get her repaired to fly like she was designed to do and soar over the slopes of Los Banos again. I have made two pterodactyl gliders and one flew OK with winds from 10 to 18 mph. Less than 10 she couldn't stay aloft and over 18 her head was so big she wouldn't turn out from the slope. As for the second one I made I can say she burned very well in a bond fire after failing to fly properly with multiple modifications. I even have a twin motor electric pterodactyl and a kite pterodactyl so I was delighted to see this ornithopter pterodactyl come up on the HobbyKing Website.

This version has an EPP foam body and head to protect the wing flapping mechanism and electronics, and are shaped to provide an authentic appearance. The description states: "The Pterodactyl has been fine tuned for stable flight without the need for special electronic stabilization." Their pterodactyl has much lighter wings than any of mine as they are constructed using carbon fiber rods and rip stop nylon skin with a printed pattern. The feet serve as a tail function and are also covered with rip stop nylon with a printed pattern. This pterodactyl comes complete and ready to fly. The model includes two LiPo batteries with one for the transmitter, the other to power the radio and brushless motor in the pterodactyl.

As if that wasn't enough, Terry (All my pterodactyl's have and are named Terry.) has a screeching sound module that is activated by a button on the transmitter and LEDs in the eyes that are lit when the power is turned on. I will be using this on Halloween as a decoration! Well the opening is written. As soon as Terry arrives I can get on with this review.

FYI: Per the manual the Rocsky Technology Ltd name for the aircraft is: Biomimetic Ornithopter.

Kit Contents

Kit Contents

  • Transmitter w/ 3-cell LiPo for transmitter
  • Transmitter strap
  • Pterodactyl body in one piece with feet attached to control rods but not mounted
  • 3-cell 1300 mAh battery with XT-60 connectors for the pterodactyl
  • Charger that will charger both packs but doesn't use the balance connectors
  • Two wings
  • 4 small bolts and 10 Allen screws
  • Allen wrench with handle
  • Instruction manual

Promoted Features

Features:

  • Ready to Fly - Attach wings, charge batteries, and fly!
  • EPP Foam body over rugged plastic chassis
  • Printed rip stop nylon wings
  • Remotely activated realistic screeching sound module and LED eyes
  • Different and fun!
  • Quick assembly

Assembly

The first step was installing the battery packs and charging them. There is a small 3-cell pack for the transmitter. This pack is installed in the back of the transmitter and has a balance charge plug that is unattached inside the transmitter. The supplied charger plugs into a connector in the side of the transmitter and charged the battery. I will be using my own balance charger for every other charge to keep the battery properly balanced. The battery for the pterodactyl is also 3-cell but 1300mAh. It has an XT-60 connector and is installed in the side of the body. There is a charging plug in the side of the body for the supplied charger and I charged the flight battery with the supplied charger. As with the transmitter battery I will be using my own balance charger for every other battery charge. The supplied charger worked fine but it doesn't balance the battery packs.

Wings

The wings came fully assembled and ready to be attached to the pterodactyl's body. No assembly for the wings.

Tail

The tail consists of two legs to which reinforced fabric feet are attached to steer the air craft much like a V-tail where they act as both elevator and rudder. The feet came with a control rod from the fuselage already attached to a control horn on the foot. I only had to guide a pivot attacked to the foot into a Y-slot near the end of the leg and mount the foot in place at the ankle with a bolt that goes in from the outside portion of the leg, through the ankle pivot and screwed into the inside portion of the mount. I used one bolt per ankle and the supplied Allen wrench to secure first one foot and the repeated the process with the other foot.

Fuselage and Radio

The fuselage was one piece and there was no assembly for me to perform. I did install and charge the flight battery pack as described above. The cover over the battery pack has two foam extensions that snapped into slots in the body and the cover was secured in place with Velcro that came installed on both ends of the cover and the compartment. The front wing mounts were pointing down and I thought it would be easier to install the wings it they were pointing up. I manually rotated both wing rods until they were even with the slots in the body for the wing fabric.

The radio was already installed in the fuselage and connected to the various controls. The only thing left to do was installing the battery.

Installing the Wings

Ignore the instruction manual and follow what I did.

The wings have a carbon fiber rod at the front and this rod slides into a short, slightly larger carbon fiber rod coming out of the body. I loosely installed the rod into the larger rod initially with the rod up as described above. I started to work the inside edge of the wing into the slot of the body. It fits in the slot loosely. It took me more time and effort than I thought it would but I got the loose fabric inside edge of the wing into the slit opening for the wing. I found using the Allen wrench with a handle supplied with the kit when used on its side was helpfully in getting the fabric in the wing by just placing it against the fabric and gently pushing the side of the Allen wrench into the slot. I later used cardboard from a small note pad and that worked very well. Initially I did nothing to secure the wing fabric in the body but later I used narrow foam pieces under the wings as wedges. This is described briefly in the flight section.

With the wing fabric now in place I used two Allen screws to secure the left wing rod in place. The instruction manual talks about using washers but none were supplied and I suspect the retaining hardware was switched since writing the instructions. As stated above: Ignore the instructions for mounting the wing. With the wing mounted in front I secured the rear wing mount to the fuselage by placing the plastic circle socket on the end of the back inside of the wing over the ball and snapping it into place. I repeated the wing mount on the right side in the same manner. The wings were now installed.

Radio Installation

The receiver came installed and connected to everything. I only had to install the battery pack as was described above. With the pterodactyl fully assembled I turned it on first and then the transmitter and they linked up. I held down the button on the top right of the transmitter and I got a screech as long as I held the button down. I made a short video of the screech for the start of this review.

Next I moved the right stick and they moved the feet up at down to function as a V-tail. Flight testing will show if the movement is enough. (It did!)

I started with the left throttle all the way down and as I moved it up the wings began to flap. They flap together and go up and down at the same time. This is essential for proper flight. Since I was indoors I was only confirming that they work.

Completion

Assembly was completed and I had six spare Allen screws and two spare ankle bolts. The pterodactyl has two special features that came already installed. One turns on with the pterodactyl and one is activated by a single button on the top right of the transmitter. The eyes light up when the pterodactyl is turned on and a screech is yelled out by the pterodactyl when the top right button is pressed and held down. I made a short demonstration of these features.

Since the battery had a specific place to fit there was nothing for me to adjust for the Center of Gravity. She is designed to balance properly.

The Manual

I found the manual helpful in that it showed me that the switch on the top right controlled the sound module inside the pterodactyl. My transmitter came in mode 2 but I believe the switches on the back of the transmitter per the manual allow one to change the mode if I understand correctly. The tabs under the main sticks are trim tabs as are those on either side of the on/off switch. The switches above the control sticks are servo reversing switches for controlling the feet but I didn't test them. Mine came set up properly so I didn't test them. The instructions explain how to use them and to check with the screen on the transmitter.

There is a travel setting on the transmitter per the manual. Pressing down on the sound control button cancels the previous setting after turning on the transmitter. Moving the right joy stick in mode 2 in all directions resets the travel for the feet and the left stick vertical movement resets the throttle. I have had no need to reset these controls.

Under the heading of "Operation steps" explains how to adjust the tail setting angles if you need to balance the feet and have them in a slightly upward position. Under Note #6 they state: "The ornithopter must be called back in time if the fluttering frequency slows down gradually when the throttle is pushed to the 100% point during the fly, otherwise explosion might be caused due to low battery." I think they mean a crash might occur due to low battery. I haven't heard of LiPos exploding when they become too low they just become useless and won't recharge.

I wasn't impressed by the instructions but the good thing is that I really didn't need them and i don't think most pilots will need any more information than what they provide.

Flying

Basics

The pterodactyl is controlled by throttle and the right stick controls the feet which control her in the same way a V-tail can control a plane. She is flown with three controls: throttle, rudder and elevator. The video below shows how her feet operate to steer her in flight. The in flight handling is actually pretty good.

HobbyKing's Pterodactyl Foot Control - RCGroups (0 min 51 sec)

Taking Off and Landing

Takeoffs start with a hand launch. I use the recommended 60% throttle or a bit more and a good toss towards and slightly above the horizon. When I get my right tossing hand back on the control I add more throttle and a bit of up elevator.

I don't land the pterodactyl but rather end my flights with a small controlled drop crash. I have tried to glide but she won't glide for me. The method I have adopted is to fly her down close to the ground and across the field at about 4 feet up. When she gets close I kill the throttle and as she starts to fall down to the ground I give a quick touch of up if the beak is going down too much. I don't want to risk breaking the wings or the power mechanism in the body so I turn the power off when she is still 3-4 feet in the air and flying with flapping. This has caused controlled belly flops onto the grass. Thus far I have only landed on grass and it is my intention to keep doing that.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Just flying a ornithopter pterodactyl is pretty special. The special performance is flying her in a controlled fashion around the field. I have tried to get her to glide but have not been successful and my landings (described above) make a Dodo bird's look graceful. But she is fun to watch flap around the sky and I look forward to doing demo flights at our special club events as so far everyone has gotten a kick out of seeing her fly. I will be using her as a Halloween decoration and I suspect the screech will be a real hit with the kids. It has been somewhat special as a surprise to others when I have been flying her at the field.

I have flown her in calm conditions, 5-7 mph wind (see the video below) and in a 10 mpg wind. I had no trouble controlling her in any of those conditions. In calm conditions the wing material stayed in the groove on the fuselage for the material. That may have been luck. In windy conditions the material has come out of he groove in the body but it didn't adverse affect my control. I have since then tucked a narrow foam wedge into the grove under the material with the material somewhat loose and able to move the full range needed in flapping. The wedge of foam can be pulled out but so far in two final flights it kept the fabric in the groove. One flight was in relative calm and the other in a 5-7 mph breeze. That is the only modification I have performed and it was suggested by my friend Jeff Hunter.

Is This For a Beginner?

NO! This is a fun novelty item but I don't recommend her for beginners. I recommend her for intermediate pilots and above.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Rocsky Technology's RC Pterodactyl - RCGroups.com (3 min 10 sec)

Conclusion

Assembly was extremely easy. I installed AA batteries in the transmitter and the LiPo batteries in the transmitter and the pterodactyl. I charged them with the supplied charger but will alternate with my balance charger in the future. The feet where already attached to their control rods and mounted to the legs with one ankle bolt each. The wings mounted with two Allen screws each and the back snapped on. Assembly even with pictures took less than an hour. The charging of the batteries took longer. Charging the main battery with the supplied charger took slightly over an hour after a five minute flight. I try and limit my flights to 4 1/2 minutes to have spare time if needed. All flights have been over grass.

She demonstrates a wobble in flight if slowed down too much. I fly most of the time at slightly over half throttle and have good control of her in the air. As mentioned above my attempts to glide have not been successfully and I believe the flapping contributes a great deal to her stability. I have enjoyed every flight I have made and have enjoyed the reactions of others, especially kids, to seeing her fly. I hope to fly her for years to come, especially at show events where her soft little screech can turns heads.

I tried to glide her but could not maintain control as in my opinion she isn't balanced to fly without the wings flapping. Additionally when I turn off the throttle the wings usually end up pointing down and I would need them pointing slightly up for any real hope for gliding. I have given up on my attempts to get her to glide but if anyone is successful at getting her to glide I would love to hear about it.

While I would not want her to be the only air craft I could fly, I found she performs well as an ornithopter with good handling in the air and my method for a controlled drop crash as described above. I am open to hearing how others land her but I wasn't willing to let her flap all the way to the ground. I have had multiple pterodactyls as described at the beginning and honestly this one is my favorite so far. She performs much better than my previous smaller ornithopters which could not handle the wind of 10 mph that this pterodactyl can handle.

In my mind ornithopters are in the category of novelty air craft. I found this pterodactyl to fly pretty darn well. She is a bit faster at full throttle but flies well with 60-70% throttle and gives longer flights that way. I found her easier to fly than I expected based upon my previous ornithopter experience but landing is a challenge as discussed above but I like my low flying and off approach as it has worked well so far. If having a flying, flapping pterodactyl is appealing to you, this Biomimetic Ornithopter is a good way to go! Mikey likes it.

Pluses & Minuses

Pluses

  • Assembly is quick, uses no glue, two bolts and four Allen screws.
  • Allen wrench was supplied
  • The screech is an interesting feature when flying with an audience
  • I had pretty good control with the feet in flying around the sky
  • Flapping has supplied good power
  • Transmitter arrived in mode 2 and controlled the functions properly
  • Has handled wind up to 10 mph

Minuses

  • The supplied charger is not a balance charger for the LiPo batteries
  • Landings are controlled crashes
  • Instructions aren't very helpful but really not needed
  • I wish the screeching was louder

Thanks

My thanks to HobbyKing for supplying this plane to RC Groups for review and doing so as it first became available her in the states. I want to thank Jeff Hunter with his assistance in flying her for the media and keeping the wing fabric tucked into the body. Finally, my thanks to our editor Angela and to Jim Graham with his assistance with this review.

Last edited by Michael Heer; Oct 10, 2015 at 05:19 PM..
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Oct 13, 2015, 03:15 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP
Reserved by author for possible future contributions.
Oct 13, 2015, 03:48 PM
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Volunteer's Avatar
It looks more like a humming bird in flight than a dino. The wings move too fast.
Oct 13, 2015, 04:21 PM
Registered User
Very cool
Oct 13, 2015, 04:21 PM
Old RC Guy Having Fun!
Aeronut41's Avatar
Thanks Mike, Good review and useful tips Best, Aero
Oct 13, 2015, 04:23 PM
Registered User
How often do you fly in Ripon?
Oct 13, 2015, 04:48 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP
Not as often as I would like! My sailplane friends that are retired fly there often. I have flown several review flights there in the early morning. I maybe average 1 a month. Mike H
Oct 13, 2015, 06:33 PM
Registered User
cbear's Avatar
pretty cool , kind of reminds me of a gooney bird though , still very interesting
Oct 13, 2015, 07:09 PM
Registered User
I wish this thing could fly as well as a "Gooney" bird (slang term for an Albatross). An Albatross is a very graceful soaring bird that needs little flapping to fly.
Albatross Encounter - The Biggest Wingspan in the World (2 min 11 sec)


This thing is more like a Mallard duck flying except that the duck can actually glide. This thing drops like a rock when it stops flapping.
Fly-By: Mallard (1 min 3 sec)
Oct 13, 2015, 09:12 PM
Chef Pilot: Planes vs Butter
ChinoDiablo's Avatar
is this bird Spread Eagle or Spread "Dactyl"?
Oct 14, 2015, 05:19 AM
ɹǝʎןℲ ǝıssn∀
taz101's Avatar
Why is this in the 'Electric PLANE' section
It should be in the 'Ornithopter' area!!
Latest blog entry: Compulsory Reading!!
Oct 14, 2015, 07:37 AM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
I can see other club member referring to it as that 'Demented Duck'.

Sorry, not for me, as already said it flaps too fast to look anything like how a Ptero would be expected to fly.


I did try my own version some time back --
Oct 14, 2015, 07:40 AM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by taz101
Why is this in the 'Electric PLANE' section
It should be in the 'Ornithopter' area!!
It is electric powered

And if the mechanism fails, (wears out), it could be classed as a 'fixed wing', (for a very short time)
Oct 14, 2015, 09:58 AM
Electric Coolhunter
Thomas B's Avatar
Agree that it looks too much like a duck and flaps too fast for my taste.

In fact, it looks like a duck and a Pterosaur had a love child....
Latest blog entry: RC events for 2019!
Oct 14, 2015, 10:25 AM
Registered User
My buddies and I have 3 of these things on the way. However, it's still yet to be seen if the Kickstarter ones were a scam.


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