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Mar 10, 2016, 10:34 AM
The flightless bird
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The Fei-Lun FT011 Review




Introduction
Fei-Lun has been enjoying a streak of success with their FT line of fast and affordable 2.4GHz boats. While not always known for being the most reliable boats out there, they were easy to work on, easy to run and the self-righting feature was much appreciated by most beginners and experts alike.

When I was doing some pre-review research, I was shocked to find that this boat measures in at 65cm and has a 4S power system. That’s an insane amount of power for something that is not entirely hobby-grade (But I guess it’s less crazy than its predecessor, the FT010, which has a 4S system and brushed motors).
Before we begin, I would like to thank T-Mart for dragging me back into the world of writing reviews, I appreciate that they continue to value my opinion. I hope that you, the reader, would get some useful information out of this review. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you’ve any questions or comments.

From the dock
Like the other boats in the FT line, the FT011 comes with everything (other than the AA batteries) you need to get started. I was quite impressed that they included multiple spare props along with some maintenance tools for the user, nice touch!

1x FT011 boat
1x 2.4GHz Transmitter (Requires 6x “AA” batteries)
1x 4S lipo charger
1x 14.8V 2200mAh 30C Lithium Polymer battery
1x Plastic display stand
1x Rubber nosecone bumper
2x Propeller (spares)
1x Bag of accessories (3x Spare props, 1x Waterproof marine grease, 1x Hex drive, 2x Hex nuts, 1x Prop removal tool)




At the helm
Although the shape of the transmitter has not been changed much over the years, the protocol seems to be different yet again (from the FT009 at least). On the box, they state that there’s some kind of telemetry that flashes the transmitter LEDs when the power on the boat is getting low. This feature does not exist!

We’ve talked a bit about the physical transmitter itself in the FT009 review, so if you’re interested in some more in-depth information on that, please click here
Range is quoted at 150m (492ft).

Construction
The deep-V hull design of the FT011 has not changed too much compared to some of Fei-Lun’s earlier products (FT007, 009 etc). Unfortunately, unlike its predecessors, the FT011 is much more prone to proposing and lateral instability at speed. I think it’s just not designed with that much power in mind!

A double-sealed hatch keeps the rest of the hull watertight. The FT012 had a few problems (mine at least) and took in a lot of water in every run. From my couple of runs so far, it seems like the FT011 has much better water-proofing.

Weight
Weighing in (dry, without battery) at 1017g, the 65cm FT011 is 103g heavier than my 70cm Rivos BL, so it’ll be interesting to how the power system handles the very heavy boat.


Drivetrain
A 2822 brushless outrunner motor mated to a 65A ESC and that 4S 2200mAh 30C battery forms the muscle of the FT011; thankfully then, the whole drivetrain is metal (from the coupling all the way to the prop-shaft). I’m happy to report that the headache-inducing water switch is no longer present on this boat, so keep those fingers well clear of the propellers when powering up. There’s a lot of power at play!


Slightly related here, I looked closely at the ESC and could see exposed solder, LED pins and part of the PCB board! Hopefully they did a really great job of water-proofing, but this kind of build quality does not inspire confidence. I strongly dislike the “that will do” attitude some of these factories have to their products. Water and electronics don’t mix too well.

Cooling
All FT boats from the FT009 on has been equipped with watercooling, the pickup is just fore of the rudder and is routed to the motor and ESC. The exposed silicon wires are protected with a spring-like metal mesh so it does not tear if mishandled. Good design.

Steering and hydrodynamics
An 18g servo with standard 3 wired plug provides easy maintenance (plug is easily accessible) and enough power to steer the heavy boat around at speed. The rudder has enough authority to turn the boat ok, but even with the highest rate dialed in, the FT011 is much less agile than my boat-of-comparison, the Rivos BL.

Turn fins are plastic and oversized, but the boat still is prone to lots of tail wagging at high speeds.
Trim tabs are metal and are malleable so they could be adjusted quite easily.

Now the fun part.



On the water

With the lipos charged, off I went to the local pond. Prior to setting the boat into the water, I checked that the servo and the motor were both functional (the FT012 I got previously had a dead motor on arrival); with everything in working order, the hatch was sealed and the canopy was installed.

First off, I ran the boat close to the shore to ensure that the transmitter had enough range; then I proceeded to do some speed runs. The pond wasn’t glass smooth like it usually is, but conditions were more than fair. I noted that at high throttle settings, the boat would pitch and roll quite violently, at many instances I had to let off the throttle to prevent the boat from flipping over.
At throttle the FT011 felt much more at ease, the rudder allowed for some wide, gentle turns (both left and right turns were about the same in diameter) but it’s really designed for fast, straight runs and not maneuverability.
The party trick of the FT boats is the self-righting feature. A full reverse throttle then full forward throttle input is needed to provide the amount of torque needed to roll the boat over. After many afternoons waiting for my other boats to float back to shore, I’m very happy that the FT011 would save me some time in that sense.

Reversing could be done at very slow speeds, but the direction is pretty much impossible to control. Also, it’s quite difficult to use the reverse function as a brake due to the angle of the prop.
As I previously mentioned, the box indicates that the transmitter has some kind of low voltage telemetry, but I really didn’t see this in action. By the time the boat slowed down, we were at 13.5V or so. Next time I’m bringing a low voltage buzzer.

Conclusion

The practice of overpowering a boat is really a double edged sword, on one hand it could mean exhilarating speed, but on the other, some of the benefits (efficiency, maneuverability etc.) that come with a lightweight hull and power system are lost.
All in all, the FT011 is great if you want something that’s relatively cheap, fast, maintenance-free and dependable. If you want a performance-orientated boat then there are better options out there.
If you don’t own one already, get a low voltage buzzer so you don’t over-discharge your batteries.
Special thanks goes to Tmart for their support of my unbiased reviews… and thank you for reading it! You can pick up a FT011 from their website via the following link

Please let me know below if you have any questions, suggestions or comments. I will do my best to answer them.


*Please note that my unit was a prototype, I’ve sent feedback to Tmart and they will be talking to the factory to hopefully improve upon the product.

Pros
+ 4S power system
+Self-righting feature
+Faux- carbon-fiber paint scheme
+ Metal drivetrain
+ Watercooling for the ESC and motor

Cons
- Canopy is a little tight and some of the plastic needs to be filed for a proper fit
- Instability at high speeds
- False advertising (telemetry)
- ESC is very much exposed to the water, Durability could be compromised there.
- Heavy construction
Last edited by jameschen072; Mar 11, 2016 at 06:54 AM.
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Jul 15, 2016, 07:46 AM
Registered User

FT011 dead on arrival


Hi,
Anybody else had problems with this model? LEDs on both the transmitter and receiver blink but the transmitter can't control any functions on the boat. First time I've seen the receiver bundled in the esc and no bind button which is a strange configuration. I'm guessing that there's a problem with the radio binding.

Any suggestions? Is this a reliable boat or should I send it back (at MY expense for shipping!)?

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