|Model Type:||3D Flyer|
|Flight Area:||small park, indoor, front yard|
|Wing Area:||355 sq. in.|
|Weight:||12.5 oz. (actual)|
|Wing Loading:||5 oz/sq. ft.|
|Servos:||4 Hitec HS55s, inc.|
|Receiver:||Hitec Electron 6 FM receiver, incl.|
|Battery:||Etec 1200 mah 11.1v LiPo battery pack with Deans Ultra connector, incl.|
|Motor:||Himaxx 2015-4100 brushless motor w/ gearbox & prop, incl.|
|ESC:||Castle Creations Phoenix 25, incl.|
|Manufacturer/Available From:||Fancy Foam|
If you have not heard of Fancy Foam, you are in for a treat. This company has taken the “foamy revolution” and, well, revolutionized it! Their growing line of products all represent innovative design and high quality manufacturing technology. The Fancy Foam model I want to share with you is their Extra 300 L brushless powered 3-D aerobat. This is a foam and carbon fiber constructed model that is built out of Depron Sheet foam. The air-frame is durable in the air and can be built in 1.5 hours, not including the time it takes for the Gorilla glue to dry. It took me twice as long to paint my model as it did to assemble it....
Construction of the Fancy Foam 300 L was made simple by design. Both combo versions of the kit include every part needed for the assembly except the paint -- even servos, receiver, gearbox, and prop! The kit reviewed is the Ultra High Performance Combination, which includes a Himaxx brushless motor, and retails for $349. A Standard Performance Model is also available, identical except with a GWS brushed motor for $259. A replacement airframe alone is also available for $35 -- always nice to have a backup!
This is a list of the parts included in the performance package.
The assembly manual guides you through the build process with ease. I followed the initial recommendation to paint my model before I assembled it. Fancy Foam suggests the use of Krylon Shortcuts paint. I had a bit of trouble locating it until I checked my local K-Mart. I should have gone there first! DON’T use regular Krylon. A buddy of mine ruined his wing using it. It is also important to remember to use multiple light coats instead of one heavy coat. Blue masking tape worked excellent on the Depron and Shortcuts to help create an immaculate finish.
When it came time to begin assembling the parts, I found see that it would be hard to go wrong. Fancy Foam did all the figuring ahead of time! They C&C cut every hole I would need. The notches for the Hitec 55 servos were perfectly placed to make the servo installation a breeze.
Fancy Foam suggests the use of a foaming glue called Gorilla Glue. This turned out to be an awesome glue for building with foam. It required a little patience because it took longer than foam safe CA or epoxy to cure, but I found it to be worth the wait. The assembly manual reminded the builder to be careful not to use too much glue because it expands.
I can’t stress this enough. Gorilla Glue expands and can cause damage if not used sparingly.
The elevator on the Extra 300 L is a full flying elevator. It was designed to work well and be very durable. I used too much and had to break part of the hinge. This caused only a cosmetic blemish; its structural integrity was unscathed.
One of the aspects of kit design I was most pleased with was that all of the hinge lines were pre-beveled by Fancy Foam as they cut the kit. Besides creating less work for the builder, it allows for stronger control surfaces. To hinge the surfaces, I used regular transparent tape. I then used my covering iron to aid the tape's adherence to the model. When all the hinges were taped, and only then, the control surfaces were bent to weaken the thin amount of foam left holding the surface in place. This design feature made the best foamy hinges I have seen yet!!
The assembly of the Himaxx brushless motor into the GWS gear-box required the included adapter. I used a vise to press the pinion gear onto the motor. It was important to drill the proper sized pilot hole in the hardwood motor mount stick to avoid cracking when I screwed the gearbox in place.
The location of all of the components set the center of gravity right where I like it. Don't ignore the manuals' recommendation for 70% exponential!
The recommended high rates put the elevator at 70 degrees. The low rate setting of only 30 degrees is much tamer, but nowhere near as much fun. The excessive elevator travel comes in handy for landing, as mentioned later.
Note: All flight photos by Bob Morrow, thanks, Bob!
I hooked the Extra up to my Wattmeter and discovered it pulled about 13-amps, static! I could not wait to take this thing for a ride. As you may have guessed, take-offs are all hand-launch. It takes off out of my hand and accelerates vertically at half throttle.
Wow, first flight was ballistic! The power was incredible but overall the model was a bit difficult to control. I landed it and dialed in some much needed exponential! When the manual that says 45% expo, take it serious.
The next flight with the model was just as it was supposed to be. Sweet, tight inside and outside loops, knife-edge into hover. The rudder was actually so aggressive and there was so much power that it was almost hard not to turn a slow knife-edge flight into a hover. The model settled in to a hovering position smoothly. (I am still working on holding it there.) Whenever it falls off toward the right wing I just hammer the throttle and it tears up into the sky like a rocket.
Once up in the sky, it was hard not to yank it around up there. The airframe is pleasantly rigid in the air. I was able to rip it through ill-attempted blenders with barely a noticeable flex in the wing. I did most of my flying with the control surfaces set at Fancy Foam's recommended high rates. These rates put the elevator at 70 degrees. The low rate setting of only 30 degrees is much tamer, but nowhere near as much fun.
The excessive elevator travel comes in handy for landing. Due to that there is no landing gear you need to do a kind of "prop and drop" approach...it's really rather easy. Essentially, I come in low, crank in a little thrust and a lot of elevator. As the tail touches the ground, cut the throttle. The plane gently falls into a comfortable landing.
This model flies so well! It is the kind of plane you can develop a relationship with. It can teach you so much as it begs you in defiance to push the envelope. "Lower lower lower!!!" it taunts, knowing you want to just as bad as it does!
The flight photos I have here don’t do the model justice. You must go to Fancy Foam's Website and see the videos they have posted. A video is worth a thousand pictures.
Once in the air this little foamy beast really comes to life. It will do every (and I mean every) trick in the book. It hovers at half throttle and will do knife-edge loops! One of the greatest aspects of this model is that it will teach any pilot willing to learn how to really wring out a 3-D flyer.
This airframe costs so little and builds so quickly -- the investment is so little -- it will beckon you to try maneuvers you might otherwise never have the guts to try.
I highly recommend this Fancy Foam model to just about any pilot of any skill level beyond beginner. I would suggest however you have experience with 4 channel models before you fly it. If you are an intermediate flier just set those low rates back and keep it high.
For those advanced pilots… well… you know what to do. Just go nuts!! After all a new airframe is only $35 and an evenings build away. Heck, keep one in reserve...you'll always want it handy!
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