Stevens Aeromodels' Models Edge 540 Aerobatic Laser-Cut Kit Assembly & Review

Tim Tworek has a blast exploring SA's exceptionally sophisticated laser-cut kit, which resulted in a great looking, superb flying 3D/pattern airplane.

Splash

Introduction

Wingspan:50"
Wing Area:440sq. in.
Weight:34oz. (RTF)
Length:45"
Wing Loading:11.1oz/sq. ft.
Servos:(2)HS-55's and (2) JR-281's
Transmitter:Hitec Flash 5SX
Receiver:Hitec Micro 555
Battery:TP prolite 3s 2100mah
Motor:Hacker A30-16M
Prop:APC 11 x 7e
ESC:Castle Creations Phoenix 35
Manufacturer:Bill Stevens
Available From:Stevens Aeromodel

The Edge 540 is just one of those planes. For many of us, when we think about flying aerobatics, we think about 5 time US Aerobatic Champion and 2005 US Captain Kirby Chambliss and his Red Bull Edge. Watching Kirby do his trademark "Cobra" takeoff into a near hover and then flip and tumble his plane like it was an R/C 3D aerobatic machine are memories of a lifetime! The Edge 540 has one of the best thrust to weight ratios of any full-scale airplane.

Well, not to be out done, Bill Stevens came out with his version of this aerobatic wonder...one we could all afford without spending close to $300,000 for a full-scale Edge 540. When I saw Stevens Aeromodel come out with their Edge 540 in a convenient electric sized model, I knew it was going to be my next build, I mean "assembly" (more on this later) project.

Stevens Aeomodel has some of the finest balsa kits on the market, from penny flyers and trainers to pattern/3D and scale aerobatic models. Stevens Aeromodel planes are the finest laser cut airplanes I have ever seen in my 16yrs. of flying r/c. They use an interlocking (TrussLoc) assembly process that makes the planes extremely resistant to warping, as well as making them very light weight and incredibly strong. I would say that the SA Edge is the most robust design I have seen come out of the Stevens Aeromodel laser cutter. With all these great design innovations and backed by some of the very best customer support in the business, you just can't go wrong by choosing any of their planes. With that said lets take a look at the kit.

Kit Contents

The kit arrived at my doorstep just one week after placing the order with SA. The contents were all nicely packed and there was a box inside containing the 2 piece cowl, a canopy, and a large pile of balsa/ply that would soon become a flyable airplane. The included hardware package was very complete and included almost everything needed to complete the kit. Excellent first impression of the kit!

Kit Contains:

  • Rolled computer drawn plan sheets.
  • Illustrated instruction manual (well organized with plenty of detail).
  • Balsa and ply parts sheet (laser cutting is great!).
  • Canopy, cowl, and a carbon wing spar.
  • Pre-bent main landing gear with 2" GWS wheels and included tail wheel.
  • All 4-40 screws, battery hatch magnets, hinges and control horn mounting material.

The manual and rolled plans do a great job of complimenting each other during the building phase. Alot of good detail is contained in both and takes much of the "where does this piece go" out of the picture.

Kit Requires:

  • motor, esc, radio equipment, and battery pack.
  • Mini EZ connectors, a couple of servo extensions, and covering
  • Basic building items (glue, epoxy, balsa filler, sand paper, and plenty of #11 exacto blades).
  • Carbon fiber tube for elevator and rudder pushrod reinforcement (optional)
  • Report folder binder for leg fairings (optional)

The Manual

Stevens Aeromodel has put together one of the best manuals I have had the pleasure of viewing. This manual was well laid out with very easy to follow written text and picture illustrations. The manual covers everything from what comes with the kit and what you will need to finish to including excerpts from Scott Stoops book, "The Pilot's Guide to Mastering Radio Controlled Flight". This manual is so user friendly and organized so well that even a beginner builder could follow it with minimal assistance.

Assembly

The first thing I noticed when I started to build the kit was the exacting laser cutting of the parts. Some of these parts are laser cut so well that you have to be careful moving the sheets of balsa because pieces will fall out. Most of the balsa/ply sheets are setup so that the parts needed to work on a section of the plane are all on one or two sheets. This is nice because it saves on having to sort for items on every sheet.

There are alot of great ideas that have gone into this plane that you just don't see on other planes of this size. Read on for details!

Tail Feathers

The assembly of the plane starts with the tail feathers. One word can describe how the tail feather assembly went "Simple".

The tail feathers took a mere 10min., start to finish.
Could the rest of the build be this easy?

Builder's Tip: Ensure you are building your plane on a very flat surface. I used an old piece of glass from a storm window to place over the plans sheet to ensure everything was built flat and straight.

Fuselage Sheeting -- a New Addition!

The fuselage on this plane fit together as easily as a stack of my son's Lego building blocks. Total time to build the completed fuselage assembly was 4hrs.(casual labor).

Battery Hatch -- a New Design

Most of the previous SA models had the battery hatch opening on the top of the fuselage. I'm not sure about this new setup -- most of my previous planes had battery access on top, and required very little effort to change out the battery. After these pictures were taken I did add an additional set of magnets to hold the hatch in place. This was just an extra piece of mind for myself. I'll have to see as time goes on whether this setup impacts how long it takes to change out the battery.

Wing

The wing assembly goes together as easy as the rest of the kit does. Everything on the wing fit together like a well worn glove. Absolutely no problems were encountered during the wing assembly. The main wing took just 3 hours to assemble; another 35 minutes for the ailerons.

Carbon Reinforced Ailerons!

I have not seen any other SA models incorporate this flat carbon fiber stock on the trailing edges of the aileron assemblies. This adds a tremendous amount of strength to these parts. Once again not something you see all the time with this size of plane.

In The Bones

Radio Installation

The radio installation was straight forward. I used JR-281's on the rudder and elevator and installed HS-55' for the ailerons. I used a Micro 555 receiver which was placed in the cockpit. The motor I used was the Hacker A30-16M hooked up to a Castle Creations 35 esc.

Completion

In the past I've had a friend do my covering for me, so this was my first attempt at covering an r/c airplane. I worked slow and took my time to make sure I measured twice and covered once. This would also account for the 14 hours it took me to cover the entire plane and to trim it up! I am extremely happy with the results!! The plane was covered with Solarfilm(Aerofilm) and trimmed with blue Monocote trim sheets.

Finished weight RTF is 34oz.

Flying

I finally come to my favorite part of a review. How does this plane fly? Is this plane really all that it is hyped up to be? Well after flying the SA Edge 540 all I can say is ABSOLUTELY!! This plane by far flies better, looks better, and puts all my other planes in the hanger to shame. From the time I take off to the time I land this plane it is 100% pure fun.

Basics

For the first few flights I used the manufactures settings for low rates and set the CG slightly forward of the stock location. The plane did not require much trim work, which I hope was inpart from building a straight plane. There is plenty of room on the battery tray to adjust the battery for any intended cg.

The plane flies very light but definitely gives the feeling of a much larger plane. The edge, when trimmed and setup, can be a great pattern flying plane, but turn the throws up and this plane can 3d with the best! Let's look at some details.

Taking Off and Landing

Take offs were very straight forward with the edge, very little rudder was needed to keep the plane tracking straight. This is probably due to the fact that when full throttle is applied, the edge was airborne in less than 10 ft and had no problem climbing straight vertical till the throttle was reduced!

This plane will simply amaze you at how slow it can land. I have had trainers that needed to land faster than this. The one thing I have noticed with the edge is it has a tendency to balloon some on landings. There could be several reasons for this -- cg not quite correct, the need for more upthrust, the extremely light wing loading. The edge definitely needs to be flown all the way during the landing phase to avoid the balloon. This is something that I am sure can be worked out with more flights and experimenting to see what will work best for me, for my flying style.

Aerobatics/3D

This is where this plane shines. With the rates turned up this plane is just pure excitement. Knife edge flight tended to pull slightly to the belly but was easily flown. On the stock throws, I could not get my edge to knife edge loop or maintain high alpha knife edge flight. This was probably do to not enough throw, which I am sure would allow this plane to achieve both.

Snaps start and stop where you want them, but if left to continue can go pretty deep. Inverted flight was outstanding, it was balanced and trimmed to where it only required a breath of down elevator.

Inverted and upright harriers both had very little wing rock, while the elevators could be brought down almost vertical.

I have flown a few knife edge spins with the edge and when entered correctly this plane will spin right on its wing. Blenders are truly a thing of beauty. They can be extremely violent, so much so after one flight I brought the plane down just to make sure everything was alright. No problems at all, this is one sweet plane!

Stalls where very straight forward, my edge had no tendency to drop a wing at all. With the cg moved slightly back, both upright and inverted flat spins were in one word, FLAT. These are very impressive to see in person, as I had a spectator who was watching and couldn't believe a plane could fly like that.

Report Card

Torque Roll B+ Plane does them well, its me that needs the work.
High Alpha Level Flight A+ VERY NICE! Minimal wing rock.
High Alpha Inverted A+ Just like upright high alpha, very little wing rock!
Flips (high alpha half loops) A Nice, no torque problems encountered.
High Alpha Knife Edge NA Needed more control throws for this.
Knife-edge-to-knife-edge turns B Needed more rudder throw to complete with authority.
Tail-slide A- Very fun to fly.
Wall A AWESOME! No signs of snapping out at all.
Flying Flat-Spin A With the cg and control throws set correctly these can be extremely flat.
Parachute A+ Almost scary how nice these are, very solid.
Blenders A+ One work to describe these, VIOLENT!!

Is This For a Beginner?

Yes and No. How can I say that? As far as the build goes, a beginner could build it quite well, even if they needed an occasionally hand from an experienced builder. The manual and plans are very easy to read an follow.

As far as flying goes this plane is NOT for the beginner. It does not have the self-leveling abilities that trainers pose. With that being said if you have gone beyond the trainer and have flown low-wing aileron airplanes this plane would be a great plane to have. Experienced pilots will simply love what this plane can do, setup correctly it is a thing of beauty both on the ground and in the air.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

The SA Edge 540 has met and exceeded every expectation. It can currently do more than my not so nimble thumbs can do at the present time. The build, more like assembly, is very straight forward, parts fit is outstanding, and the finished product will truly amaze you. A plane of this size weighing what it does almost defies the laws of physics. This just shows the engineering and work that Bill Stevens has put into this plane. The edge flies like an absolute dream when balanced and trimmed to fit your style. It can be flown as a pattern plane or a 3D monster depending on your preference. This is a very versatile plane -- mild or wild, you pick. You just can't go wrong with the SA Edge 540. The customer support is top notch and there is a thread here on RCGroups with over 3,000 posts to help you out with the build and flying of this terrific plane. The SA Edge 540 gets two thumbs up!! O' wait I need those thumbs on the sticks. Enjoy!

Plusses:

  • Kit is very complete.
  • Some great new design ideas.
  • Build is quick and light.
  • Flies both pattern and 3D equally well.
  • Excellent customer support.

Minuses:

  • Wing thumb screws are kind of hard to get in.
  • Plane tends to balloon on landing.
  • The battery hatch probably could use another set of magnets in it to help hold it in place.

Thread Tools
May 11, 2006, 05:06 PM
Plane dodger
KillerAir's Avatar
Great review Tim! Wish I could see the clips on my MAc though. I will agree with you that this plane is absolutley the best plane in ny stable. I have the pleasure of owning one of the first cut pre-release kits from Bill. His work in design and engineering along with input from Scott Stoops really has brought the excitement and passion back to kit building. Now convert those files into into an mpeg format so us old Mac guys can see you fly!

Killer
May 11, 2006, 05:22 PM
Test your skills....fly IMAC!!
sun.flyer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by KillerAir
Great review Tim! Wish I could see the clips on my MAc though. I will agree with you that this plane is absolutley the best plane in ny stable. I have the pleasure of owning one of the first cut pre-release kits from Bill. His work in design and engineering along with input from Scott Stoops really has brought the excitement and passion back to kit building. Now convert those files into into an mpeg format so us old Mac guys can see you fly!

Killer

Killer,

Thanks for the complliments on the review. I will do some research and see if it is possible to convert this to mpeg for MAC users.

Tim
May 11, 2006, 10:50 PM
Registered User
ronrandle's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by KillerAir
Great review Tim! Wish I could see the clips on my MAc though. Killer
Killer (and all you other fellow Mac Geeks), any of these WMV players will work on a Mac. Download and enjoy.

Ron


http://www.microsoft.com/mac/otherpr...d=windowsmedia

http://www.apple.com/downloads/macos...formacosx.html

http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/13112
May 11, 2006, 11:30 PM
Registered User
thinair7000's Avatar
My mac works for the vids. I can say as the owner of one of the other limited edition Red Line Edge 540's the plane is great and my battery hatch is at 91 flights with only 1 magnet and no problems. Thanks for the review.
May 12, 2006, 07:50 AM
Plane dodger
KillerAir's Avatar
Thanks guys but due to work related software and compatability issues with software I have been forced to stay on 9.2.2. I do have OSX Tiger on another G4 but platform is not real stable with some apps I need to run...like photoshop and Illustrator. So The media players will work on Macs, just not on OS9. I have WM player 7.1 and I can hear the clip but no visuals show up. The codec version is only supportted to version 8.0 and mpg4. Usually anything created on a newer PC platform will save codec version 9 Thanks again

Killer
Last edited by KillerAir; May 12, 2006 at 08:00 AM.
May 12, 2006, 06:02 PM
Registered User
Daniel Mc Crae's Avatar
Who is this idiot trying to start his big noisy gas motor right at the the moment of your take off in the video !!! Ridiculous.
May 12, 2006, 06:22 PM
Test your skills....fly IMAC!!
sun.flyer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Mc Crae
Who is this idiot trying to start his big noisy gas motor right at the the moment of your take off in the video !!! Ridiculous.
Daniel,

I agree, the slimmer pilot was going to fly his plane but actually shut the plane down when he say I was flying. I talked to him later and he told me he shut down so that he could actually watch me fly the Edge. He said that he was very impressed with the looks and flight characteristics of the plane and just couldn't believe how light the plane was.


Those loud gas/glow planes.


Tim
May 19, 2006, 04:29 PM
Scott Stoops
sukhoi26mx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sun.flyer
Those loud gas/glow planes.
Tim
Hey there... I am one of those guys from time to time Nice review Tim!

Scott
May 19, 2006, 05:05 PM
Test your skills....fly IMAC!!
sun.flyer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sukhoi26mx
Hey there... I am one of those guys from time to time Nice review Tim!

Scott
Thanks Scott, I appreciate it!!

Tim
Apr 08, 2008, 11:29 PM
Rather be flyin
tom83's Avatar
thats one sharp looking plane.


http://www.freewebs.com/rcplanetalk/index.htm
Dec 07, 2008, 05:01 PM
Fly DW foamies!
appleflyer's Avatar
i cant see the pics on my PC??


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