Stevens Aeromodel Diddlerod Review

It can't get easier than building Steven Aermodel's Diddlerod.

Geof Smith has her built and flying in no time, as the Diddlerod takes first place in the line of best beginner aircraft.

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Introduction


Wingspan:25"
Wing Area:86 sq. in.
Weight:2.25-2.75 oz.
Length:15.75"
Wing Loading:3.76 – 4.6 oz. / Sq.’
Servos:Hobby Electronics - 490 Submicro Servo (4.9g)
Receiver:ESC/RX Used for Review: Plantraco DSP4-SC with Eflight Products Lightenna 72Slowfly
Battery:2 cell 250mah ETEC LiPoly
Drive SystemLPS-B2C-C 7x6SF Prop
Manufacturer:Stevens Aeromodel

Following Stevens Aeromodel’s successful little Diddlebug, they released a low wing trainer/indoor flyer, the Diddlerod. An exceptionally easy, and quick building little aircraft, the Diddlerod was designed for inexperienced builders to feel comfortable assembling a balsa kit.

With a classic old-timer look, and gentle flying characteristics, anyone would be proud to have her in their hangar. Flying with inexpensive radio components, lightweight, extremely maneuverable, and able to handle slight breezes, the Diddlerod was a joy to fly at the local park.

Kit Contents

Build

A quick build was an understatement! Detailed instructions on the building plans had me assembling and gluing the fuse in no time. I second-guessed myself actually, because I couldn't believe the instructions were so simple. "Glue Part A to Part B" means exactly that!

Fuselage

The fuse built straight as an arrow laying flat on my table, and like all Stevens Aeromodel kits, the Diddlerod's balsa and ply parts fit and locked together perfectly. This was very light balsa, that would break if one did not take care, and I followed my own suggestion to build on a very flat surface.

First time builders note: Dry fit everything first before gluing, and don’t force any parts together. Stevens Aeromodel kits are so well designed, that if you do find yourself forcing pieces together, they are probably misaligned, or the wrong parts are being used.

Wing

Making sure everything aligned, I slid in the wing mounts, ensuring that everything was even with a dry fit. The wing mount had two little lines on them, so installing them was almost full proof.

Putting together the wings was once again very easy and very logical. The left and right wings were one piece, and all I had to do was lay the ribs down, ensure they were even and level with the provided 90° jig, roll the wing over the rib, and CA the pieces to together. Care must be taken not to break the tips of the ribs, as I did on a couple of them, but I made sure that I had enough balsa to adhere to the wing. Each wing took roughly 15 minutes to complete.

Landing Gear

The landing struts were bent with supplied wire, which I always disliked doing. I would not consider this a negative, as just placing the wire on the silhouette on the plans gave the right curves, and Stevens thoughtfully provided enough wire in case of mistakes. Carbon wheels were included with the kit, primarily for indoor flight, though I could have substituted them with a light ¼ inch wheel, disregarding the wheel pants.

With such a low parts count, I had the Diddlebug framed up and ready to sand in 2 hrs.

Though I wasn't required to, I covered my whole Diddlerod with Solite to give it a bit of a "look" as opposed to just covering the interior holes in the wing frame. I glued the vertical, horizontal and wings on before I covered, but if I had to build it again, I would cover those parts BEFORE gluing them onto the plane. This would have saved many headaches if this had been my first time using Solite.

Note: There is included a thick balsa profile pilot head which could have been glued in, but I planned on finding my own pilot for the Diddlerod, so didn't install it.

This plane was designed around the Hobby Electronics 4.9 g servos and Plantraco ESC/RX combo, but with a little cutting a Pico BB or Hitec 55 servo would have fit in the Diddlerod servo holes. Any other micro receiver, such as a GWS 4 Channel would fit in the fuse as well. My All Up Weight (AUW) was 2.6 ounces, including a 2s1p 250 Mah Etec.

Flying the Diddlerod

Hand launches were nice and easy, and at ¾ throttle no toss was needed as the Diddlerod flew straight out of my hand smoothly. She was nice and level, but did require a touch of right trim just to compensate for the motor torque after the plane had gained some altitude.

Flying the Diddlerod was a blast, with its slow graceful flight, and zip-when-I-need-it feel. I had level, even flight at ½ throttle with the recommended setup, and plenty of climb with full throttle. I took extra care not to balloon the Diddlerod though.

Stalling the Diddlebug caused only slight drops, as the Dihedral in the wing caught and righted the plane quickly.

I would not suggest any loops or rolls with the Diddlerod, as the wings were only light balsa. A brushless motor, like the Fiego, would provide more speed, but wing flutter has been reported in the Ezone threads at higher speeds. My opinion was that the plane didn't need any more power, as the brushed EPS motor gave me plenty of juice to get out of trouble, and ensured slow and gentle flying. Beginners don't need speed to begin with, as slow flight circuits improve flying skills more than straight out full throttle flying.

No Wind Flying

Downloads

Slight breezes were no problem, but beginners should not attempt flying in them with the Diddlerod. Experienced pilots will have a blast "kiting" the Diddlerod, as the below video shows.

Windy Flying Video

Downloads

The Diddlerod would make a PERFECT indoor flier, as I could pull tight turns while still easily keeping the plane within' 10 feet of me in gentle turns. I didn't have access to an indoor flying area at the time of the review, but I know the plane will make me feel completely comfortable with walls around me. Average flight times I found with the recommended setup and gentle flying reached close to 28 minutes.

For a Beginner?

Before I even thought of handing the controls over to a beginner pilot, I made sure everything was trimmed nice and level. I felt confident handing the transmitter to my wife, my daughters and my son, and gave them instructions to gently turn left and right. I found that I was more of a hazard with the Diddlerod, with my no fear approach flying, expecially since I flew low and close to the ground. I did ground it once, but the lightness and slow speed of the plane caused no damage!

Conclusion

Hits

  • Inexpensive Kit
  • Inexpensive Flight Components
  • Simple Instructions
  • Quick & Straightforward Build
  • Small Part Count
  • Highly Stable
  • Great for Beginner or Novice Pilots
  • Will be Perfect for Indoor Flight
  • Will handle Slight Breezes

Misses

  • None

After several flights of the Diddlerod, she remains at the top of my favorite flyers. The Diddlerod is a spectator-drawing flier, which is not only stylish, but also a plane that I feel confident training my family on, due to it's light weight and ruggedness. I look forward to the indoor flying season, so I can putter laps around my favorite gym.

Experienced builders will appreciate the Diddlerod's easy assembly, and those with no kit construction experience will enjoy the simple instructions and no guesswork balsa components. The Diddlerod will greatly increase the learning curve of novice pilots, as well as give high enjoyment to experienced pilots as an enjoyable, great flying little cul de sac, park, and indoor flier. If you are looking for a plane for lazy flying, and all around fun, the Diddlerod is what you are looking for.

Thread Tools
Jul 22, 2005, 04:24 PM
Registered User

Stevens AeroModel URL


The URL for Stevens is listed incorrectly in the review.

Try this one: http://www.stevensaero.com/cart/
Jul 22, 2005, 06:10 PM
Smooth Air
Morb's Avatar
I'll get that fixed up, thanks guy.

Geof.
Feb 07, 2010, 07:28 AM
winds light to variable
Kookaburra's Avatar
That looks like great fun Sundtair. I love your Snoopy. After reading these posts tonight I just ordered one from an onshore supplier - lucky to find one in Australia. I may have to honour my friend from NZ and make my pilof F. Fredrik Skitty [Fat Freddie's Cat]. Gotta join in this fun.
Feb 09, 2010, 04:01 AM
Registered User
sundtair's Avatar

Diddlerod Review


Diddlerod Review
I like this review Morb.
Will change my Hacker A10 engine, its to powerfull. The Stevensaero set up is just fine, no need to change.
Have a China eng D1811-2000 soldered directly on the ESC.
Weight with ESC 17 gr. to be installed later. I hope you made some final pictures of your Rod and pilot? Kookaburra

some vid of mine:
Diddlerod with snoopy (1 min 3 sec)

Snoopy in Diddlerod (1 min 18 sec)


Brgds Andreas
Last edited by sundtair; Feb 09, 2010 at 04:05 AM. Reason: Picture


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