Ultra-RC 3D Buddy & Edge Review

This review is of the short build time and outstanding quality of the Ultra-RC 3D Buddy Series planes. Tony Lockhart explores both the Original 3D Buddy and the NEW Edge 540 3D Buddy. Read on...

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Introduction

3D Buddy Series

Wingspan:31"
Length:33"
Wing Area:305 sq. in.
Weight:12-14 oz.
Wing Loading:around 6oz/sq. ft.
Servos:HS-55
Transmitter:Hitec Eclipse 7
Receiver:GWS 6 Channel
Battery:Ultra-RC 1500 Lipoly
Motor:Brushless 20 Electric Motor
ESC:Brushless 30amp Electric Speed Control
Manufacturer:Ultra RC, Inc.
Available From:Ultra RC, Inc.

Ultra-RC is a new offering in 3D performers. Already out are the Original 3D Buddy and the Edge 540 3D Buddy, with the 3D Buddy “Katana”, 3D Buddy “Extra 330”, 3D Buddy “Staudacher GS-600”, and 3D Buddy “Giles 202” due out over the coming year.

Kit Contents

Assembly

Seeing as this is an ARF, the assembly is pretty straight forward; however, there are a couple of things that I feel are important or note worthy, so I have tried to point them out as I go. Before I even took the parts out of the protective wrappers I read through the entire instruction manual a couple of times. Once I felt comfortable with the process and the unique characteristics of the planes I dived in. The temptation was to slap the planes together too quickly. I had to remember to take my time and build it right and true, I was glad I did. It still only took about 2-3 hours to finish.

A closer look at the wing(s)

I started with the wing on both models. The first thing that I noticed through the covering was that all the bits were laser cut and assembled with care and attention to detail. The covering was tight and looked great. The next thing that jumped out at me was the ailerons -- they were pre-hinged, but not like anything that I had ever seen before. They allowed 340 degrees of throw (see picture) if I could figure out a way to get it.

The instruction manual for both planes was based mostly around the 3D Buddy so some care needed to be taken to make sure to look at both the plane and the instructions while assembling. The other area that I had to modify a bit was the elevator and rudder servo wells; they were a touch too small and too close to the center line for the long HS-55 arms I intend to use. I made them larger very carefully, elongating the holes out toward the wing tips and toward the trailing edge of the wing; this allowed the long servo arms on the HS-55's to move freely without hitting the profile fuselage. I drew black lines in the wing top picture to show the aproximate area that I cut. I again remembered to go slow and take my time so that I didn't break the wood by forcing the servos in too quickly.

The wing, fuselage and aileron shape of the 3D Buddy and the Edge 540 Buddy are similar yet distinctive; these are not just cookie cutter wood bits with a different covering scheme.

Fuselage

The included control rods were a little too substantial to fit through a Dubro micro connector hole, but a 1/16 inch drill bit and a few seconds fixed that, and allowed for heftier control rods withought buying the heavy duty connectors. It was easy and worked great. Thanks for the trick, Bill!

Tail

The tail feathers on both models went together quite simply. I just hinged the rudder, slid in the elevator, and screwed it to the fuselage, just like the wing.

Radio Installation

This is so easy as to be self-evident except for one thing. If I had used the popular and recommended Hitec HS-55 servos, I would not have needed any extensions. Instead I used the also popular GWS Naro servos on the 3D Buddy and I needed one very short extension for the aileron servo farthest from the reciever. No sweat. Anyway, I chose and cut out the covering over one of the octagonal "lightening" holes closest to the fuselage. For ease, I chose the one opposite from the side I mounted the battery on.

Power System

The stock brushless power system is both very powerful and a big bargain. This motor system came geared to spin a 10x4.7 prop on 3 cells. It delivers thrust in great amounts. Forget the actual numbers, I didn't test thrust. It easily provides 2:1 thrust to weight. It pulls 17 amps on the 10x4.7 on 3S Lipoly. This system has the power to fly 3D on much heavier planes than the Ultra RC 3D Buddy Series planes. Hovering power is accomplished at around 4 to 5 amps, and I hardly ever passed half throttle. The gearbox on mine and a few of the others I have seen is a pretty quiet unit with immediate response. The speed control is easily able to handle this system. As a combo, the power and price performance of the Brushless 20 system will be very hard to beat.

Completion

The landing gear was easily long enough to keep a 15 inch prop clear, but at that length seemed a little soft. I shortened the legs so that a 12 inch prop would clear and bent new axles, making it stiffer and fine for landings. It is held in place with a single zip-tie, a clever solution and, like the wing and horizontal tails, very easy to take down and travel with.

Flying

I flew both planes several times and in summary... Both were substantial 3D players with slightly differing stengths. My opinion, and that of the flyers I talked with after a test, was that the 3D buddy, with it's larger fuselage area, does knife edge a bit better than the Edge 540, but the Edge 540 tumbles better than the 3D Buddy. Both performed similarly in Spins and Harriers and hover. Either way, looks, colors, or any criteria used, I was very happy with a 3D Buddy Series Plane.

Basics

Rolls were crisp and both planes are pretty quick to roll without being 'twitchy'. Big ailerons with lots of throw make all the difference at very low speeds. Tons of elevator and rudder authority as well. Power to spare is available instantly.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Spins are smooth and exit is easy and predictable. Stall turns, Cuban Eights and other pattern moves are easily accomplished, but these aren't pattern planes. Hovering, slow Knife edge manouvers, harrier, waterfall and such are the specialty of these designs.

Is This For a Beginner?

Short answer? Not really. If, however, you prefer a balsa plane, are pretty good with "regular" sport flyers, are interested in 3D and want to avoid all of the angst involved in choosing a power system, this is a great way to go. These sturdy little planes deliver value far beyond their price.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

The 3D Buddy Series planes from Ultra RC are high quality, very easy to assemble, extremely agile and complete 3D models. Brian and the folks at Ultra RC are knowledgable, friendly and helpful. They have made this experience a pleasure. I believe as the line of "Buddys" expands, there will be something for everyone.

This review requires a few "Thanks". Bill K. for tapping me to complete the journey. Mike Parsons (AtlantaE) for flying the planes in the video. Michael Bartell (MKB) for the great in-flight photos. All had a big hand in this review.

Thread Tools
May 09, 2005, 10:03 PM
Morning Light Mountain
badbill's Avatar
Good review! Is there a provision in the kit for mounting a outrunner, such as a backmount AXI?

Bill Davenport
AMA 28141
May 10, 2005, 01:27 AM
Pontificating Member
tone's Avatar
Thread OP
Bill - Thanks,
The kits are designed, in part, around the BL-20 Brushless system. That said, even though there are no parts for this in the kit, it really shouldn't be hard at all. I think several guys have done it. I have seen somewhere a couple different mounts. Mount it through a "firewall" or Servo-Arm type mount at the nose (not my favorite-but i have seen it sucessful on a mini banchee) or cut a round mount for the back of the motor opening and perhaps a couple gusset type braces behind it to keep things tight and square. There are several GWS Stick /outrunner mounts available.

Really though, I am truly impressed with the capability of the Brushless stock system. It swings a 10x4.7 with authority as they say. It is a powerful system and while i didn't measure the thrust, i ran the numbers and it was about 30oz static. I use a kokam 1500 pack for most flights and it is fine. I plan to fly the 3d buddy quite a bit this season.
May 13, 2005, 06:38 PM
atlav8r's Avatar
Well done Tony,
It looks like a fun plane.
CW
Mar 22, 2007, 01:38 AM
Will this plane have any trouble from aileron warping. mine are warped. How can i fix that?

I had the same problem with the wing, not perpendicular to fuselage, great tip on here that i used to fix it.

I made pusrods for the servos out of smaller gauge galvanized wire, which was pretty easy.


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