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Dec 31, 2017, 09:04 PM
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Review of ZETA FX-79 Buffalo

A friend (Mike) and I decided we wanted to build a pair of large matching flying wings for FPV formation flying, aerial photography, and search-and-recovery missions for Mike’s high-altitude balloons (Mike’s balloons have exceeded 110,000 ft., one circumnavigated the globe, these balloons carry HAM transmitters which utilize the WSPR protocol).

Enter the ZETA FX-79 from Banggood!

Banggood generously provided my airframe used in this initial review, which will be updated over time as we add more features (Mike’s wife bought his, Christmas gift).

Our plans: While we fly together, we have some differing goals for our planes.

  1. Both aircraft will be equipped for FPV flight.
  2. We decided to use iNav flight controllers, as iNav has the best fixed-wing GPS support including ‘return-to-home’ and an ‘auto launch’ ability. iNav also allows for pre-programmed autonomous “mission flights”, handy for aerial photography/balloon SAR flights.
  3. We decided to utilize the flaps on the FX-79 for crow-brakes (flaps down, ailerons up) for landings, which might be a lot of fun once configured properly on our Taranis Plus radios. Time will tell!
    Note: 1 of the flap servos needs to be turned 180 degrees if you intend to connect them with a “Y” cable. If you use the molded servo-sockets as they are you will need to reverse either of the 2 servos via alternate methods.
  4. Wings will be removable with FPV transmitter in left wing, R/C receiver in right wing, all other electronics in the fuselage.
  5. All wires will be trenched into the wings, with connectors at the wing/fuselage joints.
  6. We decided to laminate the airframes with 5-mil on the leading edges and bottom, with a lighter 3-mil on the top surfaces. The way we fly, the added strength/protection is a good thing.
  7. We plan to test 3-5S batteries, from [email protected] 5,000, to [email protected] 5,200 LiHV, to [email protected] 8,000 mAh.
  8. Props will be in the 11-12” area, 3.8” – 7” pitch. We’ll be testing a variety to see what works best.

Flight Controllers:
  • Mike: OMNIBUS F4 Pro (v3) with M8N GPS. This will include adding a signal inverter allowing return telemetry from the GPS & FC.
  • Me: iNav Sirius™ AIR3 F3 with M8N GPS, more of a “packaged” approach. (I think!)

  • Mike: Hobby King - Propdrive v2 3548 900kv brushless outrunner
  • Me: Banggood - DYS D3548 3548 900kv Brushless motor for RC Models
Mike plans to use the generous cargo capacity of the ZETA FX-79 to carry a Kenwood TH-D72A radio for his balloon search and recovery missions. This balloon trackers are very low power, and are sometimes difficult to locate from the ground. By flying a digipeater over the general landing area, he should be able to locate payloads more easily.

I decided to go a bit crazy (in a different way) and install lots of lights in my ZETA FX-79, including traditional aircraft marker/landing lights (3 watts worth), an afterburner effect from Flite Test (yes, on a prop plane), and 2 meters of 5V strip LED’s inside the fuselage, with over 300 flash patterns. Just because. Deal with it.

Initial review, and current progress:

Our planes both arrived within 5 days of being shipped (CA. to NY.), however we had to wait for stock-availability as they had been on backorder.

Mine arrived in perfect shape, no damage to the shipping carton or the contents.

Mike’s arrived with 2 holes in the box, and the box sides/edges showed considerable wear from handling. The plane itself had minor/superficial damage on the outer corners of the flaps, they protrude the most and were a bit bent from coming in contact with the side of the box. This was easily fixed via steam and laminating the flaps. Overall no damage of any real concern.

ZETA did a decent job at the packaging in that everything is well covered in bubble wrap, with the wings taped tightly to the back of the box, with the wrapped fuselage taped over the wings. While the box is a reasonable thickness of corrugated cardboard, there is not a lot of clearance between the plane and the box sides. Additionally, the box top is held on with only 2 pieces of packing tape, allowing for some flexing. A slightly larger box, with additional padding to protect the edges, tightly sealed might hold up better, as well as adding markings “do not crush/do not stack” or the likes.

. Seriously HUGE. 6’ 7” huge. Yet it is quite light, with all the gear added it will have a massive amount of wing area for the weight.

Once we have all the R/C and FC and FPV components (and lights!) installed and tested we will laminate the planes.

Control surfaces will be attached via tape Z-hinges.

We then plan to “toss test” the planes to verify balance and control surfaces.

Then begins the iNav FC configuration and testing, OSD configuration, initial flights, FC testing, flap “crow-brake” configuration and testing, formation flying, and eventually mounting HD cameras, possibly including a Samsung Gear 360 (4K spherical camera).

Updates will be added to this review in the future as we progress, being winter in NY at this point we’re concentrating on the build/toss tests, with most of the flight related activities in the spring once it warms up a bit more. Hoping for a January thaw?!
Last edited by kross1; Dec 31, 2017 at 09:33 PM.
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Jan 01, 2018, 12:53 PM
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yorkiepap's Avatar
You would be better off to post your thread on the FPV
Jan 01, 2018, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by yorkiepap
You would be better off to post your thread on the FPV
Thanks, good idea, you are right. Other than reposting/deleting this, is there an option to re-home this? I don't see an option under edit or mention in the FAQ. I am sure the mods, can do it, but I don't want to bother them.
Last edited by kross1; Jan 01, 2018 at 10:39 PM.
Jan 02, 2018, 12:51 PM
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Moved to:
Jan 02, 2018, 12:51 PM
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Closing this thread.

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