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Apr 09, 2019, 04:20 PM
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Build Log

Sonicmodell Mini AR Wing 600mm FPV Racing Wing - full review / build log (long range)


OK, here is another one... not a new model now... but I still thought I'd share my build of the Mini AR Wing, as it really is an amazing little plane, despite it being a wing!

You can also find the full review, as well as a full parts list, in my blog: ArxangelRC.blogspot.com

Some of you may be aware of the fact that I am not a particular fan of flying wings, so you may be surprised to see one more of these here, especially as small as this, but it was recommended to me, so I decided to give it a try, especially considering that for its size, it has some pretty good internal space, which opens up quite a lot of possibilities for autopilots, antenna trackers, etc., and that is something that definitely peaks my interest! In addition, its compact size would make it quite suitable for a permanent residence inside the trunk of your car, especially if you don't glue on the fins, and in addition, if it turns out that it flies well and can perform, so much the better!


Sonicmodell Mini AR Wing 600mm FPV racer - well designed, tough, and cheap... (9 min 26 sec)



SPECIFICATIONS

Wing span: 600mm
Wing area: 8.84dm2
Wing loading: 39.5g/dm2
Length: 212mm
Flying weight: 352 grams AUW for my current configuration
CG: there are markings on the wings


ARRIVAL STATE

Nothing much to report here. The plane arrived in a very neat and small box, and I actually thought it could be dismantled after flight to fit back into said box... but was a bit unpleasantly surprised when I found out that the wings need to be permanently glued on.




WHAT I LIKE

Right, so... apart from the obvious of this being a cute little plane that is very compact and easy to take with you, quite a lot has been done in the factory already, but you do have to glue a few things yourself, but that is what makes the shipping box so compact, and hence costs less to transport! As far as I can tell, nothing was missing from the set. There is even a user manual, which explains things pretty well!



Even though the spar is relatively thin, it is quite stiff and does make the wing feel very solid once it is assembled, even before gluing! You do get a set of spare magnets for that second noce piecce.



Having two nose pieces does give you quite a bit of flexibility as far as camera mounting goes, which is always nice! The one that is ready for use does come with the magnets already glued in, and it will directly fit all of the mainstream regular sized FPV cameras. For the Mini and Micro version, however, you will need to come up with some adapter rings, as I did for the RunCam Split Mini 2 that I decided to mount here. Not an ideal solution, but you do have to consider the price of this plane, which is quite low... so there have to be sacrifices to keep it that way!



The wings come with the servos, control horns, push rods, wiring, etc., pre-installed, which definitely makes things easier when putting this together, and saves quite a bit of time.



A nice surprise were these plastic covers for the leading edge of the wings, which are meant to save the foam on landings, especially if that will be happening in tall grass or on other rough terrain. A very nice touch!



The moulding on the side of the wings, where they meet the fuselage, is very accurate and the fit to the fuselage is very good! In addition, there are aluminium tubes in each wing for the carbon spar, and that makes the whole plane a lot stiffer and a lot more durable in general! Another great decision by Sonicmodell!







Having wondered for a while why the servos on the ZOHD Dart are not well aligned with the control surfaces but rather sit at an angle, I was quite happy to see that the problem was not present here, which meant that all of the force of the servo could go towards controlling the plane, rather than bending the control horns! Not saying that the Dart is not a capable plane... but just that bit felt a tad wrong there!





One thing that I immediately noticed to be missing from this plane were proper plastic hinges on the control surfaces... HOWEVER... on a model as small as this one, I don't think these are needed, besides, it will only make it more expensive! Furthermore, the EPP material Sonicmodell are using for this plane, and for the ZOHD planes, is a lot more flexible than EPO, so it should work much better as a hinge, and should last longer.



Looking at the bottom of the wing, I can also see some markings as if something was supposed to be installed there, and I can't help but think that probably this is sort of a suggestion on the part of the manufacturer where some additional gear might go, should you want to mount something on the wing, away from the rest of the electronics.



The plane comes with winglets, that you have to glue on there yourself, but they are well designed and formed in the shape of the wing, and I was really surprised how well they fit! That hasn't been my experience with similar items before! They should add some much needed YAW stability, which usually these flying wings are lacking!





And so finally we get to the main piece of this plane, the central section! It is a bloody neat little box and they have thought of everything!



There are large wiring openings on the sides, to allow for the additional cables that might need to make their way to the wings, and you have reinforcing plates where the spar goes through, so it doesn't damage the foam during use and become loose!



The motor comes pre-installed and wired, and as far as I can tell, it is properly aligned. I have a feeling those 2400Kv will make this wing quite fast when flow with a 4S pack... as I am planning to do!



In addition, there are a few air inlets and outlets, to make sure all of the gear in there gets some adequate cooling, which should improve its life expectancy a bit!





Yes, the holes on both sides of the camera opening are air inlets as well.



And here is another great feature of the nose section - in one of the positions the camera will be pointing slightly downwards, but if you flip the nose over 180 degrees, it still fits perfectly, but now the camera will be levelled with the plane, and will be looking straight forward! NEAT!





Once you remove the nose section you can see the opening, which should hold whatever regular sized camera you decide to mount in there.



On the inside I can definitely see some potential for this spot to hold some gear, seeing as how I am planning to use a Split on this build.



Once you remove the hatch, you are greeted by a pretty large compartment for all your gear!



Right at the back you will find a convenient compartment that could actually house the ESC, should you decide to optimize the wiring, and I do intend to make full use of that!



Since this is a PNP set, you do get the ESC, along with a BEC, which is actually a separate PCB plugged into the ESC... really interesting design choice! It comes with an XT60 connector, and a separate wire with a JST connector on it, just in case you need to power something else too! Usually I have to add this 2nd cable myself... now I wouldn't have to!



The plywood floor is already glued in and provides a convenient base to glue or screw stuff into!




WHAT I DON'T LIKE

As usual, this section is not empty, but at least things are not too serious! First of all... no glue showed up with the set, so you will have to provide your own in order to put the plane together.

Now, I know all of this adds to the complexity of things, and ultimately to the price... but it would have been awesome if the wings were removable... like on the ZOHD Dart, with quick connectors for the servos. That would have made it ultra portable and convenient to carry around, but... like with the glue... it is cheap for a reason, so you know... pros and cons to every story!



Another thing I found mildly annoying, was the fact that both the nose section and the hatch had a magnet come loose just by handling the parts... obvious not a lot of glue has gone into securing those.





Another thing that I think would have been awesome on this plane... is to have the same plastic cover the leading edge has... but for the bottom of the fuselage! Now that would have made this thing last a WHOLE lot more! Just imagine how much tougher this would be, if this whole bottom section had that same plastic cover on it!!!



One last thing, is actually the lack of a mounting adapter that would fit the micro FPV cameras, and allow them to be easily mounted. Given that they are the most commonly used camera nowadays, it stands to reason that this plane should come with such an adapter! I didn't need it because I had some printed ones left from the batch I did for my ZOHD Dart, but some people might need it and will make mounting a micro camera a bit more difficult!

Continues in next post...
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Apr 09, 2019, 04:21 PM
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... continued from previous post

THE BUILD

Alright, so it is time to start putting this plane together, and outfitting it for flight. Since I have built this stack a few times already, I thought I'd not go into too much detail about it, for that you can check the Phoenix V2 and MFD Crosswind builds, but would go over it quickly here, and move on with the install.



So, everything in the photo needs to fit inside of the AR Wing, and have room to spare for the battery pack. For this build I have chosen a few new products that have conveniently arrived just as the plane did... so why not! Besides... somebody on YouTube did ask that I build the AR Wing with one of the FrSky R9MM receivers, and actually that was my plan all along, so here it is! I also recently got Oscar's Backpack Vtx from AKK, and I was planning on mating it with a RunCam Swift Micro 3, that I also got, but since this build requires an ultra small Vtx... decided to put it here for now. Besides, this wing will probably not have enough range to warrant more than a 200mW Vtx anyway. Also, I had a RunCam Split Mini 2 lying around, so that went into this build as well. The rest is pretty standard... an Omnibus F4 Pro board running ArduPlane, a Matek PDB below that, and a first for a plane this size for me, I also added the on board module for my antenna tracker, to allow me to fly this plane knowing that I will not be loosing video anytime soon! It is, however, the largest single piece of gear for this build... so fitting is going to be tricky! The last piece of the puzzle is the GPS unit, which is an old NEO-6, which I've had lying around and was using with one of the Micro APMs a while ago!



The first order of business was to sort out the ESC wiring and servo power. Since this plane is quite small and compact, and going as light as possible is important, considering the amount of gear I want to to put in it, I decided to not build an external power harness for the servos, but to rather power them with the ESCs BEC, via the pinout rail of the Omnibus F4 Pro, thus saving some weight an optimizing the system a little bit.



To that end, I removed the diode that separates the 5v rail from the rest of the board... see... there is an empty space there, used the cutters and was done with this in no time! Keep in mind though, that I am only willing to do this on a model as small as this one, will not risk it on a larger model. In addition, it only has 2 servos, so I can easily power them via this rail, but for a 4 servo setup... you can't use the rail because it doesn't have enough 5v pins to power the 4th servo, so might as well make an external harness.



Next order of business was to strip the ESC from its wires, and solder it directly to the shortest possible wires coming from the motor. This would allow me to more easily fit it inside of that compartment at the back later on.



After I was done with that, I used some thin heatshrink to isolate it again, just in case.



Next, I removed the battery wires and soldered the ESC directly to the Matek PDB. Wouldn't make replacing any of these components easy, but it is the lightest and most compact solution right now!



Once the stack was assembled again, things were starting to look pretty good!





Temporarily I have also added the Micro telemetry unit, so I can easily setup the autopilot without having to connect a cable every time, will remove it later on! Besides... this telemetry unit and the R9MM both operate around the 900Mhz band, so I don't think I will be flying with the telemetry connected anyway!



At this point I glued the loose magnets back into their respective places, just so the glue can set by the time I am done with the rest of the plane.



Next, I connected everything up to the autopilot stack and began wondering how to arrange the components so that I can fit all of it in there and still be able to close the hatch!



This is what I came up with at first... but it was far from perfect, and the hatch did not close down easily BUT... everything was on the inside!





While still thinking up of ways to arrange the electronics, I decided to go ahead and glue the winglets to the wings, just so I can get this out of the way.



I also decided to check how the servos and push rods were setup and to my surprise, at neutral, the servos held the control surfaces absolutely flush with the rest of the wing, which was absolutely awesome to see on a model such as this, for a price such as this! I didn't have to adjust anything!







Once the glue on the winglets had set, I made sure everything still fits well, and proceeded to glue on the wings to the main body. Used some tape to hold them tight in there, just in case.





And so the AR Wing 600 was almost ready for action, I only had to add the R9MM receiver to the mix to have it fully complete.





Since this plane is quite small and doesn't have any big vertical surfaces to attach the antenna to, I figured I could reinforce it with some plastic tubing and hot glue, and mount it pretty much anywhere!



As I was doing this, some changes took place in the plane. I moved the GPS outside of the compartment to just behind the motor, should be OK seeing as how it is getting up to 12 sats at times.



Once the battery goes in, things get really tight, good thing that R9MM receiver is so tiny.



Basically, this is what I figured out about the receiver placement at first. I guess it should work OK for the maiden as I don't plan on going too far off anyway.





Once the receiver is sorted, I decided to add a piece of fibre tape to hold the Split Mini's PCB in check, so it wouldn't move around in the plane during flight. Not the most elegant solution... but it should work!



So, this is the final layout for the moment, should do for the maiden, and if all goes well... this just might be worth the effort to spread out the gear a little bit to try and eliminate some possible interference that might step from the intimate wiring here!



At least on the outside it looks pretty clean!







Weight without the battery is 240 grams, which is pretty good in my opinion, given what is installed on board! Once I put the battery in there, AUW is 352 grams.



So... at last at the field... and guess what... setup was so quick and easy because I don't have to assemble the plane... just pulled it out of the car and it was ready to go! Theoretically should be just as easy with the big planes... they do have the same autopilot and functionality... but I guess it is the size that makes me more cautious!








THE VERDICT

Alright, so apart from a few minor annoyances with this plane - magnets falling off, wings are not removable, not glue in the kit, etc. - all things that at the end do make the low price of this plane possible... and keep in mind it comes with all electronics in that price... it is not just the foam... and a lot of the work has been done in the factory, and except for the magnets, the rest of it has been done very well!

In terms of ease of assembly, I would say the plane is pretty easy and simple to put together even for a beginner, though as a model, this is not the most suitable one for those same beginners. Flying wings rarely are! The foam seems to be of the same high quality as the EPP used on the ZOHD models, which is a good thing as it is tough but flexible and does allow for mistakes without showing too much damage for it! It can certainly take a good beating and not complain too much, as I've found out in the past couple of days flying this thing! Surprisingly enough... I have indeed enjoyed this plane a lot more than I thought I would.

And speaking of enjoying... I would have to say that adding the antenna tracker to this one was one of the best decision I made here, because you have no idea what piece of mind that gives me when it comes video range and signal quality, and with the tracker I know I will always have the best possible, so don't really worry about it, or where I fly the plane... the tracker takes care of the... tracking, while I concentrate on the flying! And speaking of flying... the Mini AR Wing definitely performed better than I though! Not sure it is because of the winglets, but I am hard pressed to see any of that infamous YAW movement during flight, which is quite surprising given the size of the plane. Also, the fact that absolutely NO up trim was needed for this plane to fly level is yet another indication that a good amount of thought has gone into designing it... it just flies, and it flies rather good! It could go slow... ish when you need to, but it does feel good at speed as well. True, due to its size and weight it will get tossed around in the wind quite a lot... but that is to be expected! Gain some altitude and things generally become a lot calmer. Naturally, I also tested the stall characteristics, and this being a wing I was worried that if I managed to get it to tip stall I might not be able to recover from it... but went ahead and tested in anyway! Imagine my surprise when no matter what I did, I just wasn't able to get it to stall even... at most I was able to get it into a turn... and not a very tight one, but nothing even close to resembling a stall. This really was impressive in my opinion!

In terms of flight efficiency... what can I say... as funny as that may sound given the size of this plane, it is a high performance model, so I rarely get more than 10-12 mins flight time out of the 4S 850mAh battery, perhaps if you really want to stretch that out you could, but I doubt it will last any longer without sacrificing too much of the fun factor! What really surprised me is the rate at which this plane gains altitude even in FBWA mode on the autopilot... at times I can see up to 10m/s vertical speed... which is wicked fast!!! Just to get an idea... I have been able to get up to 2kms from the take off point in just 4kms distance, this is an absolutely insane climb rate... and it doesn't seem to mind it!

To be honest, the only issues I've had with this model have been with the autopilot, which is not really part of the model when you buy it, because as it turns out the default PIDs for ArduPlane were not optimal for the Mini AR Wing, and so there were some oscillation issues at first, but I think I managed to get a handle on the situation now, and it flies much better!

Overall, yes, I would definitely recommend this plane to somebody looking for some quick to deploy fun generator that they can just throw in the car and forget its there, since it also takes so little space! Definitely not a beginner plane though, so just in case you like this one, make sure you've got some experience under your belt, just so you don't end up frustrated and disappointed!

In addition, here is a link to the PARAM FILE with the latest PIDs for the Mini AR Wing. Use at your own risk, but these are working OK for now and do not cause oscillations at the current weight. Might tune them up a bit and will update the link with the new file when that happens. Param file is from an Omnibus F4 Pro board, so in case you are not using the same board, do a param compare first and choose only the settings relevant to your gear!
Apr 09, 2019, 04:21 PM
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Reserved.
Apr 09, 2019, 04:22 PM
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UPDATE 1 - some gear rearrangements for better results


OK, so after the maiden flight I did notice some interference in the video feed, and also the RSSI of the R9MM receiver was quite inconsistent and was jumping all over the place even at shorter distances, so I thought that spreading these things around should make things better and to that end I moved the Vtx and the R9MM out to the wings.

I sleeved the reinforced antenna into some heatshrink to keep the cable in check, and just stuck it into a hole in the wing. It is held there by friction alone, but it seems to be doing a good job so far. The cable was routed around the bottom of the wing and through the opening for the servo wiring... keeps things clean on the top side!



I am still amazed at how small this receiver is!



The Vtx was relegated to the other wing, and I also replaced the linear antenna with a Mini UXII Stubby RHCP antenna, so that I can put that new Triple Feed Patch Array to good use, as it also seems to be a rather good antenna! The Vtx installation and antenna mounting actually ended up looking quite good!







I did eventually cover all this up with fibre tape, but even so it is on the bottom and not really visible, so the whole thing looks pretty clean.



Along with the above, I also changed the arrangement of stuff inside the fuselage. I moved the FC stack to the right, and the tracker module to the left, so that I can have an easy access to the USB port and SD card on the flight controller... which is something I should have thought about in the first place!!!



I rather like how this turned out now, looks like a serious long range machine... although... that battery really isn't enough for some proper long range and yet... the plane is still able to do some pretty amazing things!





Here is what I've been able to do with this new gear arrangement. The shape turns out much better when the plane is not oscillating throughout the whole mission. I am getting better at this! Not having to worry about a jumpy RSSI does help a lot too, as it keeps me concentrated at the task at hand!



The R9M module in my Taranis is set to 200mW, no telemetry, EU mode... just in case anybody is curious! Over the weekend I was travelling, and the AR Wing was with me, tracker and all... so at some point I flew it over some mountains, and for that I had to gain quite a lot of altitude in a short time! Imagine my surprise when this plane happily did over 7m/s in altitude around half throttle, and in no time I was up to 1.4kms, and 5kms from me! Thankfully, the antenna tracker is working perfectly and that new Triple Feed Patch Array is also shaping up to be quite the antenna! Video signal was absolutely perfect throughout, although I didn't really expect much else... the Vtx is running 200mW after all, not 25mW! Also, the R9MM RSSI was pretty good too, holding steady at around 50% at the furthest point, although it was down to 60-65% as soon as 2-300 meters after take off, so being at 50% at that distance is quite good! The stills are from the RunCam Split Mini 2, but keep in mind the camera is still with the factory settings, have not changed anything, and I still think it handled the situations pretty well... not bad at all!







More recently, I flew the Mini AR Wing again to deal with the PIDs some more, and after I got it tuned OK and was happy with the result, I decided to do another high altitude test, just to see how high and far I can get, before the battery runs out and I need to come back down! In 4kms in distance the plane was able to gain 2kms in altitude, at a whooping 10m/s ascend... which is quite impressive in my book! And the idea that this is a 352 gram model... and it is up there... it is thrilling for sure! Funny thing is... on the way down the autopilot would limit the descent angle... so actually it was coming down slower than it was going up! Had to circle around a few times to loose altitude! Upon landing, the charger put back 800mAh out of the 850mAh in the battery... so I guess that is about as high as I can safely take it, without running the risk of draining the battery completely mid flight! I guess at a slower ascend rate it could go further out, and I will test that also, but then I will have to make sure I had enough altitude to glide back down to the take off location, otherwise it could get ugly!





Amazingly, the RSSI is at 46%... so again in the 50s... and I think it can do much more if going for distance alone! I was more surprised that even at 2kms high I was still not completely out of this haze that was covering the ground... so weird! Oh... and don't trust the current meter... it has not been calibrated properly yet, so it is showing a lower amp draw!

Jul 28, 2019, 09:06 AM
'Extreme Fabricator'
Great results, and 2KM! man, thats up there for a 600mm wing!
I just received mine, building it as a genuine strike fighter... for real!
I have a plague of aggressive birds that have claimed ownership of my airfield, and
so far have destroyed too many planes, heli's and quads to mention, so this little WMD is going in, armed with a sharpened CF prop, and maybe some bamboo spikes like I did with one of my Z-84's (RIP..)
I think the EPP will take a huge beating, and some territorial change of ownership will hopefully follow...
Anyway, another great build on your part, it looks very impressive.
Jul 29, 2019, 05:54 PM
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Arxangel's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alicecooper
Great results, and 2KM! man, thats up there for a 600mm wing!
I just received mine, building it as a genuine strike fighter... for real!
I have a plague of aggressive birds that have claimed ownership of my airfield, and
so far have destroyed too many planes, heli's and quads to mention, so this little WMD is going in, armed with a sharpened CF prop, and maybe some bamboo spikes like I did with one of my Z-84's (RIP..)
I think the EPP will take a huge beating, and some territorial change of ownership will hopefully follow...
Anyway, another great build on your part, it looks very impressive.
Sounds like you've got an interesting plan there! Share some photos when this is build up and ready!


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