Gunderson Aerodesign's S-1 Canard Slope Glider Laser Cut Kit Review

Jeff Williams has a great time reviewing the S-1 Slope Soaring Sailplane! Jeff quips: "The S1 has brought a new excitement for me in this hobby – energy retention I think is the name of the game in sloping and it appears the S1 does it very well."

S1 waiting to get back into the wind.

Introduction

S1 waiting to get back into the wind.
S1 waiting to get back into the wind.
Wingspan:48"
Weight:15 oz.
Length:30.6"
Wing Loading: 8 oz/sq ft to 10 oz/sq ft sq. in.
Servos:3 - HS55
Flight Pack:2S NiCd
Receiver:Hitec Supreme 6 channel
Manufacturer:Gunderson Aero Design
Available From:Gunderson Aero Design

There are many of us who have our hands into several different aspects of this hobby. Some of us like to have a wide variety of aircraft at our disposal for whatever mood might hit, I am one such flyer. I have mingled here and dabbled there in just about every facet of this hobby, except the flight of an airplane without a motor, so when the opportunity to throw together an S1 from Gunderson arose, I couldn’t help but jump at it. I am glad I did! The S1 shaped up to be a wonderful airplane -- what’s not to like -- it fit just about every niche I wanted it to - It’s a sloper, it’s good for newbie sloper soarers, it’s made of balsa and well, it looks absolutely stunning.

Kit Contents

When the kit arrived there were no unwanted surprises. Upon examination of the contents of the box, I found the perfectly laser cut wood package was neatly stacked and taped together, just begging to be placed on the build table.

What else is needed?

  • Covering – One roll will be plenty, but I chose to go with 2 colors and some trim tape.
  • Servos – Three Micros (Hitec HS55’s were used)
  • Receiver – A Hitec 6 Channel was used and is suggested due to the tight fit in the fuse.
  • Motor – NONE! We’re sloping now fellas!
  • ESC – NONE! Again, we're sloping.
  • Battery pack – I went with a 2 cell Hitec NiCad from a receiver pack to run my servo’s and also act as ballast. Rich offers a ballast plug for this model, for those most windy days.

Assembly

As with most builds I started out with a read over the instruction manual. I was pleasantly surprised to find the instruction manual was extremely easy to read and very well laid out. One thing that really stuck out at me with this instruction manual was the inclusion of colored Cad drawn 3D pictures, to help visualize the way some of the more intricate parts joined together. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Cad generated diagrams must be worth two thousand!

"Tail"

Like most kits, I started construction on the tail feathers; however these were actually the canard feathers. These were laser cut and simply fell out into my hand. All they needed were a few sweeps with the sanding board to put a bevel on the leading edge.

Replaceable Tail...er...canard...er...foreplane!

The kit comes with a second foreplane section. Due to the location of the canard on this bird, an extra is included should the first one be damaged. The foreplane of the S-1 is designed to first absorb energy, and second to be easily replaceable in the event of damage.

The ability to quickly exchange a damaged foreplane is facilitated with the unique pin block mounting method; simply follow 4 steps:

  • Remove hatch, pin block hold down screw, and pin block.
  • Slide the foreplane halves out of the side of the fuselage.
  • Slide the new foreplane in place.
  • Replace the pin block, hold down screw, and hatch.

Fuselage

Similar to most designs, it was simply a curved box – it also included a balsa nose block that must be cut and sanded to shape. The entire fuselage went together without any parts sanding to get a quality fit.

Wing

The final phase of the build was the completion of the wing. Without trying to sound cliché, the wing was a work of art. Rich obviously has an open mind when it comes to designing and I think that is a great thing. The center spar section of the wing is particularly unique and led to an extremely strong build. The wing went together flawlessly. One thing I really loved about the construction of the wing, which normally causes me a bit of grief on other kits was the sheeting. The S1 included laser cut sheeting that must only be glued down to look expertly done.

Completion

After the final assembly and a few moments spent in admiration of what a beauty the S1 was sitting on the work bench, it came time to decide on a cover scheme. I wanted to use some transparent colors as this structure was just too pretty to cover up, not to mention the vertical stab has a wonderfully laser cut S-1 in it, that simply begged to be shown. SoLite covering was used throughout with some trim tape to distinguish between the colors and add some definition. It is amazing what $2.00 worth of trim tape will do for a model.

Power System, Not this time!

Omitted -- For your enjoyment, however, for those of you who love the look of this bird and absolutely have to have one, an electric pusher version is in the works and promises to be quite a sporty bird; I can only imagine my S1 with some power in it.

Radio Installation and Setup.

Setup was a cinch. The ailerons are controlled via a centrally located servo in the midsection of the wing; the elevator servo is located in the front of the fuse near the canard. This aircraft, despite being a canard, needs no special setup. It can be set up using a conventional aircraft setup, just make sure your control inputs are correct and everything works like it should.

How long did it take to build?

I would estimate that approximately 3 to 4 hours of building time were needed to get the entire aircraft ready for sanding and covering. The covering also took approximately 4 hours. Allow around an hour or two to slide all your radio gear into the S1 and you will be ready to fly. I used about 10 hours of casual building and many minutes of admiration to get the S1 airworthy.

Flying

The S1 was set up with dual-rates. On one end of the switch it was set up with the recommended throws for the maiden and on the other end a “that looks like it should be exciting” setup for when I started to get the hang of it.

The CG was checked per the manual and set aft of the canard just in front of the main wing, per the instructions.

Test Glides

I had previously disected an 8 cell 720NimH pack I had laying around and made myself two 4 cell 720NiMh packs for the S1. Being a sloper, I had no power to get a test flight out of it, so I wanted to find a spot I could glide it to make sure I was not in for any unexpected surprises. After searching for some tall grass around my house, I wound up in a hay field with just what I was looking for. After a quick check to ensure the control surfaces were all deflecting in the correct directions, it was time to get some initial air under the wings of the S1. I gave her a gentle toss and directed it to the tall grass. Everything acted as expected so I began to get braver. After a few tosses I found myself throwing the S1 into the sky at around a 60* angle and gliding it back to terra firma. These tosses told me I needed 2 clicks of right aileron and we were “off to the races.” This was going to be fun!

The Real Thing

I couldn’t wait to get to a local slope, and on my way back to the house, I remembered a local spot I used to take free-flight gliders to. As a kid we used to take these gliders out and throw them off the edge of a churt pit and watch them get tossed around by the wind coming off the walls, so I thought this would be a great place to take the S1, my only fear was the balsa build versus the $2.00 foamy toys I had played with at this spot as a child.

At this site I gathered up the nerve to launch my beautiful new toy out over the ledge with no motor to attempt to bring it back to me. After the S1 disappeared over the edge I was not so sure this was the best idea. The S1 “flew” very well all the way to the bottom of the pit, where I was able to slide it in for a decent landing.

Lesson number one – wind is needed for a sloper. I was not daunted, the S1 was still in great shape and I just needed to wait for some good winds to be blowing.

I finally was able to get out on a day that HAD to produce some lift. I knew it was windy outside, so I rang the local ASOS and checked the winds...9 knots gusting to 12 knots at 280 degree’s. That sounded like it should work. I took the plane out into the yard and gave it a toss into a stiff headwind, and was able to glide it around for a few seconds, so off the pit I went.

Once at the pit, I checked the bird to make sure it was good to go and finally got my nerve up enough to launch my S1 out over the edge again. I could tell sloping wasn’t something that was just automatic – as I watched the S1 get bumped around, rise a bit and then sink back down to the bottom of the pit. “Launch, glide, watch, repeat” was going to be the moniker of the day. I simply needed to find the lift and stay in it. I started launching the S1 high into the air above my head and guided it around until I found air for it to fly in, which I finally did and boy was I greeted with a pleasant flying aircraft!

I was eager to stay in the lift I had found and wanted to take it easy and fly the S1 around to just get a feel for the plane – that was very short lived. Once I figured out where the winds were, where they were the strongest, I got progressively braver with the S1.

I was not totally sure what to expect out of a sloper. However, I am thoroughly pleased with what I was given. The S1 flies very well. It is stable and seems to have no bad habits. Loops – no problem, rolls – no sweat. I was having a blast. The rolls could be a bit more axial, but I attribute this to being used to flying 3D aircraft so often and 3D this is not.

The S1 has brought a new excitement for me in this hobby – energy retention I think is the name of the game in sloping and it appears the S1 does it very well.

Expert's View

Please visit the discussion thread at the bottom of this article as, over the next few weeks, I hand this baby off to some expert pilots and receive their input!

Conclusion

If you want to get into sloping and are looking for something both sleek looking and easy to build, give Rich and the S1 a shot, you won’t be disappointed. The design work put into the model make it an absolute joy to build. It is straight forward and a bit different to keep the interest up. I couldn’t have expected anymore from the S1, the handling is great, the looks are superb and Rich at Gunderson Aerodesign is a great sort and will help you with anything you need!

Ohh, would you look at that, winds are up to 12 knots – gusting to 19, I’m going sloping!

Last edited by AMCross; Sep 21, 2006 at 02:22 PM..
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Sep 21, 2006, 09:29 PM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
Awesome looking machine! Wish there were a slope sight near me because I would love to build that thing.

Hope to see a video of the S-1 in action soon.
Sep 22, 2006, 10:58 AM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Thread OP
Some video should be coming soon..
Sep 22, 2006, 02:43 PM
more kW, more problems
trashmanf's Avatar
very cool. it would also be awesome to put a rocket in the back of it and BOOST!
Sep 22, 2006, 03:22 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Thread OP
Well, I know Rich is working on an electrified version of the S1..
Sep 23, 2006, 02:25 PM
Registered User
ScubaDiver's Avatar
First off great looking plane.

Is there a foamie version in the works?

Also I was reading over the instructions and they inidicated a slight twist in the wing is necessary. It said the twist is from trailing edge up to the tip. Can someone clarify the direction of the twist?

And finaly how many servos are required? The plans show four and the review says three.

Thanks
Sep 23, 2006, 02:51 PM
Ditto on the foamy version.
Fred
Sep 23, 2006, 08:46 PM
Flying IS the hobby
Nice review and very sharp design. I wish I had more slopes near by. They have a video on their site too… a foamy version sounds cool too, but probably a bit heavier?

I had laser parts cut by Gunderson Design, and the quality and customer service are top notch. Richard Gunderson, is very customer oriented and with much knowledge on the subject.

Here is a link to a video click from the Gunderson website: http://www.gundersonaerodesign.com/v...stflighthq.wmv

Nice review

Jose E. Bruzual
Sep 23, 2006, 08:51 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Thread OP
Scuba - I made an error in the review.. Just overlooked it.. The plane needs 4 servo's.. 1 for each aileron, 1 for the rudder and 1 for the elevator..

The twist I interpreted to go from the TE to tip.. Grab the TE twist towards the time (tip goes down, TE comes up) and shrink covering to hold..

I have no idea on a foamie, maybe Rich will chime in..
Sep 23, 2006, 09:55 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScubaDiver
First off great looking plane.

Is there a foamie version in the works?

Also I was reading over the instructions and they inidicated a slight twist in the wing is necessary. It said the twist is from trailing edge up to the tip. Can someone clarify the direction of the twist?

And finaly how many servos are required? The plans show four and the review says three.

Thanks
Scuba,

I am pleased to hear that you like the look of the S-1! Here are the answers to your questions:

The twist is typical washout (leading edge down, or trailing edge up depending on the axis you center the twist about). In this case, the twist is defined about the leading edge so that the trailing edge is deflected upward. The twist is designed into the structure, and should be well set when built as described in the manual. The comment in the manual is meant to suggest that if the post-covering wing twist does not nominally match the slight washout angle, strategic shrinking of the covering can be used to correct it. I hope that clarifies the issue.

As Tram pointed out, the S-1 uses 4 servos. The mounting plates for each of the servos was designed for the HS-55, but any servo in that size range will work just fine.

And for the foamie? Well, it has been an idea that I have been kicking around for a while. I think that we could do a foamie without a major impact in terms of weight. When I have polled customers in the past about it, there has been mixed feelings on whether a foam fuse, or a glass fuse would be preferred. What would you like to see?

trashmanf - A rocket? That would indeed be a great sight! The wing is strong, but I suspect that a rocket might leave the wings sitting on the ground near the launch sight

Again as Tram pointed out, I have been working on the S-1E design for some time now. Why has it been so long? Well, primarily because of conflicting goals; maintaining the overall look of the S-1, while achieving hot performance. For the performance, I would like to change the wing's aspect ratio, airfoil, add landing gear, and beef up the spar. All of these things will change the nature of the airplane somewhat (at least in terms of appearances). So, the school of thought right now is to design a power pod to make the S-1 capable of flying over flat land with a simple bolt-on modification, and then build an all new design that maintains some of the distinctive aesthetic characteristics of the S-1, but is designed for speed and performance through irrational amounts of power

To all, please keep the questions coming, I love to chat about the S-1!

Rich Gunderson
Sep 23, 2006, 10:36 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Thread OP
I still think you aught to put the prop in the nose, or tail and just make it a hand launched bird..
Sep 23, 2006, 11:20 PM
Registered User
ScubaDiver's Avatar
Thanks for the response Rich.

I understand the twist now, and if it is built into the structure I will certainly see what you mean before we cover the plane.

My son has shown some interest in building a plane and the S-1 is a unique and sleek looking plane, really caught our eye. It also looks realitively easy to build for his first time, we are considering getting the S-1.

A foamie version would be nice just because of the durability issues, as you are well aware not all slopes have a nice landing zone.

I have built a few balsa gliders and nothing hurts more than seeing all that hard work in splinters.

Thanks Again
Sep 23, 2006, 11:23 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tram
I still think you aught to put the prop in the nose, or tail and just make it a hand launched bird..
My concern is for the pilot/launcher. If the motor were in the tail, there is a distinct possibility of losing one's fingers in the launching process. There is the option of an underhand launch similar to what is being done with pusher park jets.

The nose was the first place that I considered, because of safety and ease of integration; however the plane could not be balanced without the need for lead in the tail Unfortunately, the nose is so far in front of the C.G., balancing the power system is nearly impossible.
Sep 23, 2006, 11:28 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScubaDiver
A foamie version would be nice just because of the durability issues, as you are well aware not all slopes have a nice landing zone.
Happy to help ScubaDiver! By the way, please watch the video on the S-1's product page on our website (http://www.gundersonaerodesign.com/p.../sailplanes/s1). Watch for the landing site at the end of the video; it is far from soft The S-1 is quite durable. Of all the flights that I have put on the S-1, I have yet to need to make a repair, despite the rough landing conditions. That being said, it is true that foam would be even more durable.
Sep 23, 2006, 11:32 PM
Registered User
ScubaDiver's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mraero
Happy to help ScubaDiver! By the way, please watch the video on the S-1's product page on our website (http://www.gundersonaerodesign.com/p.../sailplanes/s1). Watch for the landing site at the end of the video; it is far from soft The S-1 is quite durable. Of all the flights that I have put on the S-1, I have yet to need to make a repair, despite the rough landing conditions. That being said, it is true that foam would be even more durable.

Yea, I've flown Hodges, definately not the best landing zone.


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