Horizon Hobby E-flite Night Radian FT - RCGroups Review

We review the E-flite Night Radian FT edition. It's every bit a Radian, but this one shines brighter than any before it.

Splash

Introduction

Wingspan: 78.7" (2M)
Length: 44.7" (1137mm)
Flying Weight: 2.27lbs (1030g)
Motor: 480 960kv Outrunner
Prop Size: 9.75x7.5" Folding
Battery: 3s 2200mAH (Not Included)
Price: BNF Basic - $199.99 / PNP - $179.99
Available at: Horizon Hobby

E-flite's Night Radian FT (Flite Test) is a 2 meter electric sailplane that's been updated from previous versions and turned into the ultimate night time flyer. It's a popular foam sailplane that flys great and now includes a super bright LED lighting system that can change colors and patterns at the push of a button.

The BNF Basic version includes the AR636A receiver which features AS3X stabilization technology as well as an optional SAFE Select Mode which will auto level the plane and limit pitch and bank angles for safer flights. I'm excited to get this one in the air both day and night so let's start out by opening the box and taking a peek inside.

Video

What's in the Box

This is a relatively large plane and the box reflects that. The parts inside are nicely packaged and all arrived safely to my door with no damage. The plane is mostly built at the factory with the electronics installed, but there is some final assembly you'll have to do which we'll cover in the next section. In the meantime here's a list of everything you get inside the box.

  • Fuselage with motor, ESC, lights, receiver and 2 servos installed
  • Two wings with lights installed
  • Horizontal tail with lights installed
  • Carbon spar for wings
  • Hardware and tape for attaching wings and tail
  • Manual

Other Items Included for Review

Horizon also sent me an E-flite 3S 2200 lipo battery which is the recommended battery for the Night Radian.

Assembly

The assembly should only take around 15 minutes max, most will be done and ready to fly in under 10 minutes. The horizontal tail section slides into place and is secured with four pieces of tape. The tape does the job, but you can also use more tape or some glue if you want. There is a connector to plug in for the lights, but it had excess wire hanging out so I took some white tape I had and taped up the wire on the fuselage. Then you just need to connect the elevator pushrod connector to the elevator control horn.

To install the wings, slide the carbon wing tube into the hole in the fuselage, then slide the wings on. The LED wire leads will need to be routed through a hole in the fuselage down to the bottom and then you can slide the wings fully into place. There are two screws used to secure the wings. There is a magnetic hatch on the bottom of the fuselage that lets you access the lighting module where you connect the wing LED leads using any open ports.

That's all there is to the assembly. Go ahead and read through the rest of the manual as it will provide the transmitter settings and tell you how to bind the receiver to your transmitter with or without SAFE Select Mode. When bound with SAFE Select Mode, the manual walks you through assigning a switch to that function which worked out just as described. There's also a section about the LED Controller in the manual that tells you how to cycle through the patterns and change the speed.

I really like the magnetic hatch which makes it easy to access the battery bay and other electronics. The battery slides into to the back of the opening and is secured with a Velcro Strap. The LED light module plugs into the balance connector of the battery. There is an On/OFF switch as well as a controller with 3 buttons used to change the pattern and speed of the lights.

Flying

Take Offs

There's plenty of room to hold onto the fuselage under the wing. Taking off is as simple as powering up around half throttle and just releasing the plane with an ever so slight throw. You don't have to throw hard at all, I can almost just let go pushing forward. It's as easy and gentle as it gets. Those long wings provide a ton of lift as soon as it leaves your hand.

Flying

This is an electric sailplane and as such, most flights you will want to full power climb to a comfortable height and then shut the motor off. The prop will fold up and you can begin searching around for thermals. The glide ratio is fantastic and the plane handles nicely even with just rudder and elevator for control. I do miss having full 4-channel control at times, but there's plenty of control throw to make tight circles in lift and put the plane exactly where you want it. The flight speed in a power off glide is pretty slow and gives you time to relax and enjoy the flight.

It can also be flown as a sport plane, but you'll need to watch the elevator trim. Under power the plane wants to naturally climb, so you can run a throttle to elevator mix to feed in down elevator as you increase the power. There is a ton of power too, it will climb vertically to gain altitude quickly. It can do basic 3 channel aerobatics like loops and barrel rolls and you can even squeak out some inverted flight.

This plane is really at home flying slow, high and climbing in lift. It would be great on a slope too, but without aileron control, you really need to stay on top of the plane to keep it pointed where you want it.

Landings

Landings are gentle and slow. I usually come in right at myself flying slow and pull up into a stall hand catch. You can also just land it on its belly in the grass. There are plastic skids on the bottom of the fuselage to help protect the foam on landing. Bottom line here is this plane is a breeze to land safely.

Night Flying

Well this is the Night Radian after all so I went out one night to see how it was. The LED lighting system is simply fantastic! It is really bright and easy to see. They positioned all the lights in a manner that lets you easily see the plane and keep its orientation in the air. It was fun trying out all the patterns and playing with the speed of the blinking. You have plenty of options to find a pattern or color you like. With the plane being such an easy gentle flyer, night flying with it is natural and fun. It will really steal the show at most night events.

Photos

Conclusion

If you like sailplanes, you will like the Night Radian. During the day, you get the classic Radian handling and easy thermaling ability. At night it becomes a full on light show that will impress. Anyone can fly this plane, with SAFE Select Mode on beginners will have no problem learning to fly. Once your skills are built up, you can turn it off with a switch on your radio and give loops and more aggressive flying a try. If you've never flown a sailplane before, the Night Radian is a great place to start. It's a plane I think most pilots should have in their hangar.

Check out the E-flite Night Radian FT webpage here

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Thread Tools
Jan 22, 2019, 11:00 AM
If it's R/C, I LIKE IT!
Nikolei Zinsli's Avatar
+10 points for the dance at the end.
Latest blog entry: 93" AJ Laser 230z
Jan 22, 2019, 11:14 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Gotta Luv a Radian!

We've been trying to get some night flying going at our club, but haven't had much success so far. I'm thinking this FT Radian may be the solution.

My only question would be whether the lighting sequences can be changed in the air by using a switch or slider on the transmitter?

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Jan 22, 2019, 11:42 AM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
It's possible, but you'd have to rig up a device with a servo to mechanically push the button to cycle the light program.
Jan 22, 2019, 05:05 PM
If it's R/C, I LIKE IT!
Nikolei Zinsli's Avatar
There are ways to do it with an electric switch, but I'm not sure what all is involved. I heard Terry Dunn talk about it on one of the RC Roundtable podcasts. https://player.fm/series/rc-roundtab...ills-are-alive
Latest blog entry: 93" AJ Laser 230z
Jan 22, 2019, 08:54 PM
Registered User
mrmat01's Avatar

Foam


Is it made from EPO foam ?
Or is it the cheap cooler foam the old one was made of ?
Is it stronger in the motor mount than the previous version?
Nice review thanks
Jan 22, 2019, 10:59 PM
Registered User
WVrailfan's Avatar
Just ordered one from Motion RC. I'm not a big glider flyer, but I do enjoy some night flying several times a year and this thing looks like some fun. It will probably replace my HK Night Walrus.
Jan 22, 2019, 11:04 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmat01
Is it made from EPO foam ?
Or is it the cheap cooler foam the old one was made of ?
Is it stronger in the motor mount than the previous version?
Nice review thanks
Itís EPO. Not sure if the motor mount is different, havenít noticed any issues with it so far.
Jan 22, 2019, 11:51 PM
Registered User
mrmat01's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Cole
Itís EPO. Not sure if the motor mount is different, havenít noticed any issues with it so far.

Good onya mate thanks
Jan 23, 2019, 09:40 AM
Terry Dunn
mopar_man's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikolei Zinsli
There are ways to do it with an electric switch, but I'm not sure what all is involved. I heard Terry Dunn talk about it on one of the RC Roundtable podcasts. https://player.fm/series/rc-roundtab...ills-are-alive
Indeed. Here's info about the LED controller I'm using: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...LED-Controller

-Terry
Jan 24, 2019, 12:36 PM
The King Moonracer of balsa.
Windependence's Avatar
Jason,

At 36.8 oz (1030 grams) this is the heaviest Radian to date, its even heavier than the Radian Pro. That is getting a little heavy for a 2 meter sailplane. Have you had a chance to evaluate its thermaling abilities? For reference the original ParkZone Radian was ready to fly at 29.6 oz and the redesigned E-Flight Radian was ready to fly at 31.4 oz. Is there any place to save a little weight and still have it balance properly?

Wayne
Jan 24, 2019, 02:43 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
Wayne, I look at this one as more of a sport night flyer that you'd fly under power, and oh it happens to glide really well and thermal too. If you want to primarily thermal, the original is better at that. However, this night version does thermal well, it will just need stronger lift than a lighter plane, but it still does a good job at it. I'm not sure where you could save weight unless you pulled all the lights out, but then what's the point of buying this version to do that right.
Jan 24, 2019, 03:24 PM
The King Moonracer of balsa.
Windependence's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Cole
... but then what's the point of buying this version to do that right...
The Radian has been one of the most highly recommended designs for pilots wishing to try their hand at soaring. Currently this is the only version of the Radian available so a new pilot has but one choice. Maybe it is time for the soaring community to begin a search for a better recommendation for pilots interested in soaring. I have no doubt that the new Night Radian is a fun flyer and from the videos I see it appears to fly well under power. But as an actual thermaling sailplane, it seems it may have lost its focus.

Wayne
Jan 25, 2019, 10:07 AM
Registered User
Angelo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Windependence
The Radian has been one of the most highly recommended designs for pilots wishing to try their hand at soaring. Currently this is the only version of the Radian available so a new pilot has but one choice. Maybe it is time for the soaring community to begin a search for a better recommendation for pilots interested in soaring. I have no doubt that the new Night Radian is a fun flyer and from the videos I see it appears to fly well under power. But as an actual thermaling sailplane, it seems it may have lost its focus.

Wayne
I have the original Radian, fantastic thermal sailplane, you can stay up all day when thermals are out. I have several flights where I was able to thermal back up from only 30' altitude.

But I agree with Wayne, the manufacturers seem to have lost sight of what this plane is for. It makes sense in a way that they use this platform as a night flyer, orientation and depth perception are more difficult at night, so a slow flying plane makes sense, but - now it's the only version? Besides the additional weight, it's also more expensive and time consuming to put together. They should have lit up a slow park flyer, not one of the few relatively cheap BNF sailplanes out there.
Jan 25, 2019, 10:18 AM
Registered User
Angelo's Avatar
"It would be great on a slope too, but without aileron control, you really need to stay on top of the plane to keep it pointed where you want it."

I disagree, you can whip the Radian around pretty quickly when you coordinate a big rudder input with elevator, unless this night version has less rudder throw.

With the weight - I see they now recommend a 3s 2200 battery. I use a 1600 in the original, and they recommend a 1200. Is the 2200 recommended for all the extra draw of the lights, or is it needed to balance out the lighting installation? You could save a lot of weight just going to a 1600.


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