BluFO XL from RACores - RCGroups Review - RC Groups

BluFO XL from RACores - RCGroups Review

A big twist on Joel Dirnberger's classic BluFO design, the BluFO XL. 150% of the original, the XL is a great airplane, with lots of possibilities!

The BluFO XL is packs extra fun into a popular plane!

Introduction

In January of 2012, MetroGTI (Joel Dirnberger) blogged on RCGroups about his BluFO, inspired by a club-mate's Blue Wonder. In May of 2012, he started a build thread, and 35 pages and 5 years later, this plane still attracts attention. Having been built and modified by many people, it's safe to say that the BluFO family is a winner.

Jim Reith, who has worked with Joel to kit and sell the BluFO, has recently introduced the BluFO XL. The XL is a LARGE version. Large as in huge. 9 sheets of EPP go into this kit, and there isn't a lot of waste. This plane is 55 inches long, and 37 inches wide, but it only needs a modest power system to fly. Follow along as I get the XL in the air

Wingspan:37 inches
Weight:16 ounces as built
Length:55 inches
Transmitter:3 channels minimum, elevon mixing required
Receiver:3 channel minimum
Battery:3s 2200
Servos:17 gram metal gear
Motor:2216-880KV
ESC:30 amp
Typical Flight Duration:
Available From:RACores
Price:$69.95

Kit Contents

  • EPP foam, and a lot of it
  • Laser cut control horns, pushrod supports, and motor mount
  • Carbon fiber for bracing and pushrods
  • Pre-bent pushrod ends

Jim also included his BluFO XL completer package, which consists of:

  • Sunnysky A-2216 880kv motor
  • 30 amp esc
  • 2, 17 gram metal gear servos
Additional parts I supplied to complete the build:

  • 12 x 6 APC prop as recommended
  • Radio system
  • Battery
  • Foam-Tac glue

Assembly

The assembly mirrors that of the 'normal size' BluFO, with a couple of minor exceptions. First, the outermost wing parts need to be joined prior to laying out the 'deck.' Second, the large dorsal fins are slotted to accept a flat carbon strip. Third, the motor mount plate is actually two pieces, intended to be sandwiched together cross-grain for strength, and finally, the "L" shaped pushrod supports.

Provided you have a clean, large work surface, you can easily build the BLuFO XL in a day's time, to include paint if you desire. Since this is a flat foamie with a fuselage, there isn't anything difficult to do, and the diagrams in the instructions are enough to build by. I do suggest that you take your time, though, and trial fit the pieces before applying glue. SInce this is a symmetrical design, and you have to assemble the "Wing 1" pieces before you can did into the build, you want to be sure you get them right.

The fuselage part goes together easy, as well. There are only a couple of formers to place, and the EPP curves nicely to get a sleek look once you key into the deck. The hatch, once built and in place, adds support to the top of the fuselage sides, and the whole structure becomes pretty strong. Keep in mind if you plan on ever night flying with your BluFO XL, the forward section of the nose on the top of the fuselage will not be accessible once you glue the nose in place, so the time to add LED's is after the sides and former are secure but before you attach the nose. The same goes for the entire bottom box of the fuselage. If you want LED's, add the before you glue the belly pan in place.

I used Foam-Tac for the entire build, including installing the motor mount. As long as you make sure the mount is square and flush against the fuselage box, Foam-Tac will hold the plywood securely to the EPP airframe.

Radio setup is easy; this is a slow(er) flying plane, and it's light wing loading won't allow you to get into much trouble. WIth that in mind, I set my radio up for the maximum available throw, and didn't use any expo. I will suggest that when you build yours, that you maximize the mechanical advantage by placing the pushrod in the hole farthest away from the servo on that end, and closest to the elevon on the other end. This will give you every bit of throw you can muster, and if it's to much, you can add dual rates in the radio.

Flying

RCGroups.com reviews the BluFO XL (3 min 27 sec)

I have to admit, I already knew how the XL would fly. I had the chance to get my hands on a prototype at Joe Nall, so as long as I built mine straight and true, I knew what I was in for. I started out by dialing in a bit of reflex, and verifying the control direction, I did a side arm launch at 3/4 throttle, and off she went. A couple clicks of trim and it settled in very nicely. I had a great time watching it float around, and I admire the fact that even at a low speed, controls maintain their authority.

Loops are no problem, just remember to back off the throttle at the top, because you can loose elevon effectiveness if you get going to fast. Rolls are slower than you might expect, but if you keep in mind you a trying to rotate a LOT of surface area, then the rolls are about right. You can even get an admirable stall turn (for a plane without a rudder) out of it if you use prop torque and a bit of aileron as it slows in a vertical climb.

The most fun, though, is just flying it around. It's relaxing and fun to watch as it crosses the sky, doing whatever you want to do, at it's own pace. It will move along pretty well at full throttle, and you have enough power to get out of trouble, but it isn't a speed demon like it's little brother. Instead its a stately, majestic bird, great for just having fun.

It also is a ton of fun to get down on the deck and fly slow figure eights, or even better, high alpha flight. The XL slows way down, and if you balance the power with the elevator, you can slow it down to a snail's pace, and plop it in right at your feet if you want.

Landing the "normal" way is easy as well..just line up, pull the power back, and flare when you are about a foot off the ground. There is no "slideout" to speak of, because the XL is so light for it's size.

Conclusion

I like the BluFO XL. Sometime you just want to fly a low stress, fun, easy airplane, and this fits the bill. The size makes it impressive, and the low cost common battery size means you won't spend a ton to get this big bird in the air. It handles well, build fast, and puts a smile on my face every time I take it to the field. In my opinion, a plane that does that deserves a place in everyone's hangar.

As I flew the BluFO XL around, both the prototype at Joe Nall, and my own here at home, a couple of things came to mind:

1. This would make a cool FPV platform. It's easy to launch, stable, and has nice manners in the air. The size will easily support the weight of an FPV system, and there is plenty of room in the fuselage as well.

2. I'll admit, the prototype I flew has lights on it, so this isn't exactly an original thought, but this thing is a GREAT night flyer. The size, along with the way it flies, naturally lends itself to the addition of lights. With four vertical fins, and a unique outline, you have a lot of possibilities to create your own UFO look-a-like!

Pluses and Minuses

Pluses

  • Easy to build
  • Large, uncommon outline
  • Inexpensive power system
  • Versatile (FPV, night flyer, general relaxing flyer)
  • Easy to fly

Minuses

  • If you have a smaller car, it might be hard to haul

Last edited by Matt Gunn; Jun 26, 2017 at 10:31 AM..
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Jun 26, 2017, 10:40 AM
14s 180mah should be enough...
IFLYOS's Avatar
Reserved
Latest blog entry: Intro..a few years to late!
Jun 26, 2017, 11:23 AM
Kit Manufacturer
coreman's Avatar
Thanks Tim! As you mentioned, size can be a factor. I didn't take my trailer to Warwick this weekend and fitting my XL in the wagon was challenging. BUT, it sits very nicely on top of everything once the car is packed. I have modified the Wing 1 pieces since your kit so the joint isn't symmetrical to avoid misgluing them together. There have been a few other tweaks along the way and if anyone sees anything amiss, please let me know to update and correct it. That was certainly what happened over the first few batches of our Leadfeather Yak55s. These are living designs that improve and evolve over time.

One thing I do for the pushrods is I assemble them OFF the plane with the heat gun (but don't glue them yet) and then put the one end in the horn and finally put the other end into the servo arm and put the horn in place. Then when you are done and setting up, you can slide the Z-bend wire under the heat shrink to get the perfect length and then hit it with the CA. Keeps the heat gun away from the EPP. I have tried to update all my instructions to include this and need to do a video about it sometime. I had originally left the control horn unglued until the pushrods were done but the servo arm is easier and you probably need to move the arm a spline or two to mechanically center it as best you can.
Latest blog entry: BluFO-XL review by Tim...
Jun 26, 2017, 11:37 AM
You're killin' me Smalls
BrownEyedFool's Avatar
Wow yours came out at 16 oz AUW? You're looking at 2:1 thrust to weight and just under 200W/pound on that powertrain, watt meter said 192W if I recall correctly.
Jun 26, 2017, 11:41 AM
Registered User
sawatt's Avatar
What, no night shots? 😆 I got to fly BrownEyedFool's this past weekend at Warwick. The slow fly characteristics are amazing for such a big plane.
Jun 26, 2017, 04:31 PM
14s 180mah should be enough...
IFLYOS's Avatar
16 ounces without battery, Cline. I wish I could have managed 16 with, but I don't think tha'ts possible
Latest blog entry: Intro..a few years to late!
Jun 27, 2017, 10:15 AM
You're killin' me Smalls
BrownEyedFool's Avatar
Closer than you'd think, Drew wasn't paying attention and flew his with an 1800 the other day.
Jun 28, 2017, 08:21 PM
Lost in the Sky
Richard N's Avatar
You can do VTO takeoffs with the BluFO if you add material to the trailing edges of the tip fins so that the trailing edges are perpendicular to the wing. That will allow the BluFO to sit vertically on its tip fins and do VTO takeoffs. If you are a really good pilot, you can do vertical landings like the SpaceX Falcon 9.
Jun 29, 2017, 06:31 AM
Kit Manufacturer
coreman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard N
You can do VTO takeoffs with the BluFO if you add material to the trailing edges of the tip fins so that the trailing edges are perpendicular to the wing. That will allow the BluFO to sit vertically on its tip fins and do VTO takeoffs. If you are a really good pilot, you can do vertical landings like the SpaceX Falcon 9.
Would love to see some video.
Latest blog entry: BluFO-XL review by Tim...
Jun 30, 2017, 09:22 PM
Registered User
ThTx's Avatar
Just ordered a kit. I NEED another slow flyer!!!!
Jul 03, 2017, 12:17 AM
Registered User
What is an ideal battery size for this?
Jul 03, 2017, 06:37 AM
Kit Manufacturer
coreman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReviewEdge
What is an ideal battery size for this?
We've been using 2200mah 3S for our flights but there really isn't a weight limit so I would think you could easily use 3000mah if that was what you have.
Latest blog entry: BluFO-XL review by Tim...
Jul 03, 2017, 06:16 PM
Registered User
DustBen's Avatar
Anyone built some of this model from finer materials than foam?
Jul 03, 2017, 07:47 PM
Kit Manufacturer
coreman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DustBen
Anyone built some of this model from finer materials than foam?
Certainly not the XL as far as I'm aware. it's been less than 2 months. The stock BluFO was originally Depron. I don't think there has ever been one made from Balsa
Latest blog entry: BluFO-XL review by Tim...
Jul 06, 2017, 03:10 PM
Registered User

BluFO XL


Hi Jim and Tim,

Wow, you hit this one out of the park with the BluFO XL! What an impressive bird she is! Congratulations on a great flying design! We'll hopefully see you at the NEAT Fair!

Take Care,

Renee' and Ron


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