Multiplex MiniMag ARF European Version Review

Jeremy Zorns purchases a Minimag even before they're available in the US, and checks whether this really is the best way into aileron flight! (Update to be added as soon as the US version is received and tested!)

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Introduction


Wingspan:39.8" (1010 mm)
Wing Area:345.7 in² (22.3 dm²)
Weight:24.4 oz. (693 g)
Length:32.3" (820 mm)
Wing Loading:10.2 oz/ft² (26 g/dm²)
Servos:Hitec HS-55
Transmitter:Spektrum DX6
Receiver:Spektrum AR6000
Battery:KAN 7 cell, 900 mAh or 9 cell, 1000 mAh
Motor:Permax 400, 6 V (stock) or Himax 2812-0850
Propeller:Günther 4.9x4.3 (stock) or APC 10x7 Slow Fly (brushless)
ESC:Jeti JES 25 or Castle Creations Thunderbird 18
Manufacturer:Multiplex Europe
Multipex USA
Available From:Europe: Höllein
Multipex USA and US Multiplex Distributors

Multiplex has introduced this plane as an aileron trainer to follow their EasyStar. I have developed a deep respect for their Elapor foam, and was thrilled to see another new release. Not only is it more crashable than the EPS ("styrofoam") that their competitors use, but it wears better with normal handling, transport, and storage too. This plane will be in direct competition with the GWS E-Starter and the Ultrafly Cessna. Let's see how it matches up!

Kit Contents

Assembly

Assembly is quite easy, and the instructions are detailed with well-executed CAD illustrations. Top quality components are an aid to this. I'm especially growing fond of the Multiplex EZ connectors. (This is my fifth Elapor Multiplex model.)

Wing

The wing halves are mated together with fiberglass tubes, inserted into a proprietary joiner, which sets the dihedral of the wings. Pretty brilliant.

If you're setting this up as an aileron plane, the aileron servos must be hot-glued in place with short pushrods going to the aileron control arms. Since two aileron servos are used, the options are open for flaperons or spoilerons if you have a computer radio and a five-channel receiver. However, this plane flies slowly enough that this is not necessary. A good old aileron Y-harness would work fine.

The wings have a slightly down-turned tip, for stability. (ala Cessna)

Fuselage

The fuselage consists of two mating halves. I decided to put them together with strapping tape instead of the recommended medium viscosity CA, in case I needed to crack it open for future modifications. In keeping with this line of thought, I used hot glue to affix the landing gear bracket to the fuse. This can always be heated-up and removed later if I need to separate the fuselage.

Landing Gear

I was especially excited to see the landing gear that Multiplex supplied with the MiniMag. The wire they use is BEEFY. It is 0.198" (5 mm) in diameter. Multiplex's competitors use landing gear wire that is only 0.177" thick (4.5 mm). Furthermore, Multiplex supplies nice wheel colars that are fixed in place using set screws ("grub screws"). The wheels are large enough (2.2" [56 mm]) so that you can land on even, close-cut grass. They will allow take-offs from grass too, but not from the stock power system. More on this later.

One one bad takeoff, (see video below) I applied throttle too quickly from my brushless power system, torqued the Minimag sideways, and jumped it up a small curb. The landing gear popped out of its bracket, and no damage was done. This was quite a relief! It is an excellent design, which will be much-appreciated.

Tail

I attached the tail to the fuselage with more strapping tape.

The tail was where I found one of my two disappointments with the MiniMag. A skid is molded into the tail. No steerable tail wheel was provided. This is not good news, because if you want to have the option of attaching a water rudder for use with the floats later, you'll need to have the wire installed that goes with the steerable tail wheel or water rudder. Detailed drawings are included in the manual that show how to make and install this hardware. I didn't have the materials handy, so I skipped it and just put some more trusty strapping tape on the foam skid area to protect the foam.

At the time I bought this kit, the Multiplex float kit was not available.

When I was looking over the kit, this little detail was what made me decide to tape things together instead of gluing them with CA. When the Multiplex floats do hit the market, I will still have the option of installing them and the water rudder (or steerable tail wheel).

Power Systems

Stock Power System - Permax 400, 6 V

I was skeptical about the power system, but decided to give it a fair shot before upgrading. The power system is a 6 V Permax 400 motor and a Günther 4.9x4.3 prop. The thing that made me skeptical was that there wasn't a whole lot of prop area clearing the nose of the fuselage. Some of the prop wash would be going right against the nose, instead of propelling the plane forward.

The prop I received with my MiniMag was the Euro-issue prop, the trusty old Günther 4.9x4.3. MiniMags bound for the USA will have the new Multiplex prop, a 5.5 x 4.3. One MiniMag customer says that the Graupner CAM Slim 6.6 x 3 prop works very well with a 7 cell NiMH pack on the stock motor. He has video of it, which you can find if you look through the MiniMag thread. <--- there's lots of good info in there, it is a good supplement to this review.

An 8 cell NiMH pack would fly this plane better on the stock power system, and may even have had enough power to ROG from pavement.

In my opinion, Multiplex should include a 7.2 V 480 motor with this plane. It would only cost pennies more, would add a touch of weight, but would open a whole new world of possibilities as far as propeller & battery options. If you are thinking of getting this plane, but are skeptical of this power system, you may want to put a long can 400 or Speed 480 motor in your order along with the airframe. Then, try a 400 7x3, Graupner 6.6x3 CAM Slim, or APC Speed 400 6.5x5.5 prop, along with 7-10 2/3 A size NiMH cells in the 900-1100 mAh range. (Keep an eye on the current, to make sure it doesn't go above 14 A or so)

Upgrade Power System #1

In the manual, Multiplex suggests a 3:1 geared Permax 400 power system with an 8x3.8 prop. They refer to it as the EasyGlider Electric power system, though the prop that came with my own EGE is a 9.5x6. I'm sure that would work fine too. It would give a lot more thrust than the stock system. I didn't try this power system, as I was anxious to get to brushless.

Upgrade Power System #2

Multiplex suggests a Multiplex brushless motor as an upgrade, which I'm sure would've worked fine. I had a Himax 2812-0850 (kv = 850, 150 W max) outrunner on hand, so I used that. Its mounting holes line up with the holes in the bolt-on motor mounting plate. I had to do some sanding with the Dremel drum sander to make sure the rotating can of my outrunner cleared the power wires and the inside of the motor mount. If you're going to be buying a motor specifically for this purpose, I recommend an inrunner, as it will save you a headache. It's hard to find a 28 mm diameter inrunner with a kv around 1000, so you might do well with one around 1400 kv on 2S LiPos or a 7 cell nickel pack.

Battery Options

On hand, I have three 7 cell, 900 mAh NiMH packs left over from another plane (T-Hawk). I also have a 9 cell, 1000 mAH pack left over (ParkZone FW-190). These can both be made to balance the plane. The 3S, 8C, 2000 mAh LiPo I ordered from CommonSenseRC is a good fit, though it has to go pretty far forward. It will need to be centered just about like my 7 cell NiMH pack in the photo, as they are the same weight. You'll need to cut the inside of the canopy to fit, but it is worth the trouble. Typical flight times with that setup are about 35-40 minutes. The 9 cell 1000 mAh pack gives about 15-20 minutes of mixed flying, and the 7 cell NiMH 900 mAh packs give about 10 minutes. On the stock power system, the 7 cell packs gave about 5-6 minutes of flying.

Radio Installation

The servo wells are molded to fit the Hitec HS-55 servos perfectly. They push right in, with a good friction fit. Multiplex recommends a couple dots of hot glue (low temperature) to hold them in place. This method had worked well for me, and is much easier than taping the servos & gluing them. For the European readers, Multiplex makes servos that are the exact same size as the Hitec HS-55s. Look for these.

I used a Spektrum AR6000 receiver, with hook-and-loop fastener to attach this to the inside of the fuse, under the wing.

The speed control can also be attached in this way, further forward, so that the battery leads can reach a wide range of battery positions.

I laid down a long strip of velcro just under the canopy. Depending on the battery pack(s) you use, you'll want to be able to shift it fore & aft to balance the plane properly.

Completion

After assembling the model, the only thing left was to either apply the stickers or paint the plane. I used the stickers. One quick note here: part of the molding process leaves a lot of little nipples on the surface of the foam. If you sand these off, the airframe looks smoother, but the stickers won't stick well without further help such as clear nail polish or cyano on the edges. Sanding makes the surface too porous to adhere to.

Flying

Basics

This model was designed to fly well with or without ailerons. I was surprised at how well it flies without ailerons! If you are coming from an EasyStar or other three channel rudder/elevator/throttle plane, you may consider starting this way. Go ahead and install the aileron servos when you're building the plane, just don't plug them into the receiver yet. Instead, plug the rudder servo into the receiver in the aileron channel, just as you would a three channel plane. Once you get used to it and are ready to learn ailerons, move the rudder to the rudder channel and plug the aileron servos into their proper place. The ailerons really help with stunts and to keep the plane flying level in the heavier winds.

For those of you already accustomed to aileron planes, you will find that you don't need them too often. I'm finding it handy to get my left thumb divorced from my right one. Much of the time, I can control throttle & rudder with the left thumb, and elevator with the right thumb, trying not to use the ailerons. It works. When I feel like doing a stunt, get toppled by a sudden gust of wind, etc., the ailerons are still there if I need them.

Taking Off and Landing

With the stock power system, your best bet for a good take-off is to have a buddy hand-launch, at least on the first flight. While it is possible to ROG, (Rise Off Ground) it is hit-or-miss, and results in a stall & cartwheel as often as not. If you don't have the battery packs yet, definitely buy either 8 cell NiMH packs or go right to LiPo.

For a good laugh, have a look at the 5 MB video. I had a 10x5 HD prop (Hyper Drive, for high RPM) fitted. I gave it throttle too fast and it didn't have enough thrust to just leap off the ground the way I thought it would. The only damage from that little curb encounter was that the landing gear popped out. Since I didn't install the steerable tail wheel, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to steer it if it started to veer one way or the other on a longer take-off. Slow fly props definitely work better on the lower kv motors.

Landing on smooth grass or other smooth surface is possible, thanks to this excellent landing gear. It is not as bouncy as its competition, and I like it.

Taking off from smooth grass can be done with an upgraded power system, though my 10x7 SF prop did a little grass-cutting in the process. ;)

This model can fly pretty slowly. Not as slowly as a Slow Stick or EasyStar, but still pretty slow. To land, just cut throttle until you start to lose elevation. If you'll be using a large, slow-fly prop, you will need to make your landings pretty smooth. If you bounce the MiniMag on its landing gear with this big prop, you're going to have a prop strike with the ground. I like the profile of the plane better without the landing gear, so I fitted a prop-saver mount, balanced the prop, and it just pulls under the plane upon landings (it catches just about every time).

Landings are pretty easy; just make sure you're going fast enough so that you have a low enough sink rate for a smooth landing.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

In my opinion, the special flight performance of this plane is that it is more stable than most planes of its size. Also, with my brushless power system and a 3S 2000 mAh setup, it will fly up to 45 minutes on a charge. It's an ideal 2nd trainer, yet fun and interesting for an experienced pilot, too.

This isn't a 3D model...Aerobatics are possible, but kind of ugly. Rolls are uneven and require a lot of aileron throw. Loops can be very tight, though!

In the larger video, you can see a pure aileron roll; very sloppy. (This was with ailerons throws per the instruction manual; you can set up more aileron throw if you like.) However, if you give it full rudder AND full ailerons, the rolls clean up quite a bit.

Knife edge? Maybe if we would take all the dihedral out of the wing. That'd be a job, too, since the wing spar joiner has the dihedral designed in.

It flies inverted well, provided you've upgraded the power system to make it go faster. It takes quite a bit of down elevator and a good bit of speed.

Is This For a Beginner?

Multiplex is right on the money with their statement that this is for a beginner if he/she has some help from a more experienced pilot. They suggest it as a follow-up from an EasyStar (or other three channel plane). The EasyStar is the better beginner's plane and starter sailplane. This would do, but sustain more crash damage, and will crash more often due to its higher required flight speed.

How well does it handle crashing?

Pretty well, as it turns out. Yes, I went out and tested this model's crashability just for you guys. Not because I flew the battery too low, botched an approach, and was batted to the pavement by a sapling. Result? Broken prop, broken motor mount, ding in the leading edge of the wing, and a slightly smooshed nose. The nose wasn't even smooshed in enough to warrant "Elapor Soup" (boiling water poured over the compressed Elapor foam, which expands the foam back out). Rather than order another motor mount plate, I fashioned one out of a piece of sheet aluminum I had on hand, and hot-glued that to the nose to form a new firewall. I liked this idea, as the aluminum also acts as a heatsink for the motor.

A similar crash with an EPS (Styrofoam) plane would've been absolutely devastating. It usually breaks the fuselage up pretty badly. Ask me how I know! (?!)

How does it fare against its competition?

The direct competition for this plane are the Cessna clones out there, such as the GWS E-Starter and the Ultrafly Cessna.

Compared to the Ultrafly Cessna

The overall ruggedness of the Ultrafly Cessna does not hold a candle to the Minimag. The landing gear is much better on the MiniMag, as is all durability questions. Plus, the MiniMag, since it doesn't have or need a cowl, will be easier to fit a broader range of modified power systems.

I bought the Cessna for my dad to learn. With an 8 cell, 1100-1200 mAh NiMH pack, it flies very well on its stock power system; much better than the MiniMag's stock setup (probably even with the upgraded prop, though I can't say for sure, since I haven't tested it).

This is due to three reasons:

The Ultrafly Cessna looks like a Cessna, but the cowl will cuts down the options on upgraded power. Mostly, outrunners will not be easy to fit, though geared brushless systems such as the Himax 2025 systems will be natural.

The Ultrafly flies much better on stock power, so it will be cheaper to get it flying, for the basics; however, it is less flexible regarding upgrade options.

Compared to the E-Starter

I haven't flown one of these, but it looks like a slightly smaller Ultrafly, maybe a bit cheaper in construction (and price!) The cost is about 1/2 (!) Therefore, the GWS still retains its edge in the pricing area. There is something just magical about being able to buy a "slope glider" kit of a nice little plane for $28. You can try things you wouldn't try with a more expensive plane. If you completely wreck the airframe, you can save the electronics and start over again (though you do have to spend the time to rebuild.)

I can only assume the E-Starter flies just like a slightly smaller Ultrafly Cessna. Obviously, the Multiplex is going to be more rugged than the E-Starter, since it uses Elapor foam, which is quite flexible. However, in a bad crash, the GWS can be thrown away & replaced. The Multiplex will take repairs better, but is less disposable, due to its higher price and harder-to-get parts (at least in the USA).

Then again, for a rank beginner, neither of these planes are ideal, due to their front-engine designs, so you have to decide between two sets of criteria. Would you rather have light, disposable, and inexpensive? --> GWS E-Starter. Would you rather have more rugged, a bit heavier, and for a bit more money? ---> Multiplex MiniMag.

I am done with my beginner-phase crashing, so I'm not as worried about crash durability. You'd think, then, that durability isn't a factor anymore, right? Wrong. I did notice that this plane handles hangar rash better than any EPS model. It doesn't get dings as easily, it doesn't have its rudder or wing-tips broken as easily in transport, etc. I don't have to treat it with kid gloves, stacking it carefully in the car, for example. That is something that has spoiled me about Multiplex planes.

Photos

Flight Videos

Downloads

Conclusion

If you just look at the specs of this plane, you'll expect a great little airplane for the price, and you will not be surprised. It is a Cessna-like aileron trainer, made of Elapor foam, and includes high quality hardware. As with so many other small electrics, it will fly OK on stock power, but it really does well on a good brushless motor and LiPos.

I found that the MiniMag is very rugged and handled minor to medium intensity crashes with good grace. It is definitely more rugged than its EPS (Expanded Polystyrene or "Sytrofoam") competitors, although its stock power system will probably disappoint. Multiplex is debuting a new prop, which will help some, but for best results, you should consider a basic geared setup or brushless.

I was looking for a plane that would be one that would not have a lot of down-time; one that is always ready to go. I found it.

Lastly, please note that Multiplex USA indicates this model is going to be imported and stocked via their normal distribution channels such as Tower Hobbies, come fall 2006. If you cannot yet place an order for it through your favorite resources, please be patient, they'll be available here soon!

Last edited by AMCross; Sep 01, 2006 at 11:33 AM..
Thread Tools
Sep 01, 2006, 01:28 PM
BEC
BEC
Registered User
BEC's Avatar
Jeremy,

Nice overview of the airplane!

One good candidate for a 28mm inrunner upgrade would be this http://www.medusaproducts.com/motors...m#MR0280321200 - or the 1400 Kv version. This latter, turning a 9x4.5 APC-E on a healthy 2s pack pulls the bigger, slightly heavier Sig Kadet EP-42 very well while not pulling very much current (about 12A if I remember right).
Sep 01, 2006, 02:04 PM
Registered User
Nice overview, too bad the title says review. Rambling and uninteresting article, why 30 photos? Ezone should just wait a few weeks and publish a review of the USA version?
Last edited by chriskj; Sep 01, 2006 at 02:11 PM.
Sep 01, 2006, 02:53 PM
Registered User
Jurgen Heilig's Avatar
"An 8 cell NiMH pack would fly this plane better on the stock power system, and may even have had enough power to ROG from pavement."

Hi Jeremy,

I posted a video of the completely stock model (with ailerons, Günther prop and 7 cheap KAN 1050 NiMH) ROG from "grass":

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=534209

Forgot about it?

Jürgen
Sep 02, 2006, 12:46 PM
Dave North
timocharis's Avatar
I'm a bit confused about this GWS 10x5 HD prop. I've never seen one, and GWS does not list it on their site. They do have (and so do I) a 1060 HD and a 1080 HD.

There is a 9050 HD (and of course, the entire SF series, but no 10x5 there either). Typo? New, unreleased prop? Curious readers want to know...


Dave
Sep 02, 2006, 04:10 PM
Registered User
Jeremy, I think you made a mistake on the landing gear wire, it's 2.5mm (0.098"), at least on the one I got. It is still fairly beefy, I don't think any plane in this class uses more than 0.125". I can still bend it on landing though!

Tim
Sep 06, 2006, 03:37 PM
Senior User
Jeremy Z's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chriskj
Nice overview, too bad the title says review.
Care to enlighten us about what your idea of what overview/review means?

Quote:
Rambling and uninteresting article, why 30 photos?
I suspect that much of my "rambling" will be seen as valuable by potential buyers of this plane, who are deciding between different planes in this class. Sorry you didn't find it valuable.

Quote:
Ezone should just wait a few weeks and publish a review of the USA version?
That was the original plan. At the time I wrote this, (months ago) Multiplex USA wasn't sure which power system they were going to include with the MiniMag. They asked that the review be held until they had decided. I agreed. Since this has been published, I assume this means they are going ahead with the Permax 400 power system. I've read rumors that they're going to include their new prop, instead of the Günther. Time will tell. I assume someone from Multiplex USA will chime in soon with the final decision.
Sep 06, 2006, 03:42 PM
Senior User
Jeremy Z's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jurgen Heilig
"An 8 cell NiMH pack would fly this plane better on the stock power system, and may even have had enough power to ROG from pavement."

Hi Jeremy,

I posted a video of the completely stock model (with ailerons, Günther prop and 7 cheap KAN 1050 NiMH) ROG from "grass":

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=534209

Forgot about it?

Jürgen
Ah, Jürgen. How could I forget?

This is just my opinion. I did post a link to the MiniMag thread that you started, where people will see all opinions. Many of us thought it was underpowered with the stock power system and 7c NiMH pack.

We have a saying in the U.S. "Opinions are like armpits... everyone has a couple."

I'm glad you can enjoy your planes with less power than I require. Buyers of this plane should at least try the stock power system if they have any doubts. It is included, so there's nothing to lose if you have a brushed ESC and NiMH pack on hand.
Sep 06, 2006, 03:51 PM
Senior User
Jeremy Z's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by timocharis
I'm a bit confused about this GWS 10x5 HD prop. I've never seen one, and GWS does not list it on their site. They do have (and so do I) a 1060 HD and a 1080 HD.

There is a 9050 HD (and of course, the entire SF series, but no 10x5 there either). Typo? New, unreleased prop? Curious readers want to know...


Dave
Huh. Now I'm confused too. After I read your email, I went to check my stash of props. I didn't find a 10x5 HD. Either they once made one and no longer make it or I was mistaken. Either way, it was not the ideal prop for this plane on an 850 kv motor with 3S LiPo. A SF prop was.

Sorry for the confusion!

(anyone got a 10x5 HD prop in their stash who can vindicate me? )
Sep 07, 2006, 05:31 AM
Registered User
...
Last edited by chriskj; Sep 09, 2006 at 06:11 AM.
Sep 08, 2006, 05:42 AM
Registered User
Jurgen Heilig's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy Z
...
I'm glad you can enjoy your planes with less power than I require. Buyers of this plane should at least try the stock power system if they have any doubts. It is included, so there's nothing to lose if you have a brushed ESC and NiMH pack on hand.
Hi Jeremy,

This has nothing to do with opinions. You wrote "the model may even ROG from pavement on 8 cells", while I actually demonstrated the model taking off on just 7 cells.

Jürgen
Sep 08, 2006, 10:50 AM
Senior User
Jeremy Z's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jurgen Heilig
Hi Jeremy,

This has nothing to do with opinions. You wrote "the model may even ROG from pavement on 8 cells", while I actually demonstrated the model taking off on just 7 cells.

Jürgen
Well, mine was hit or miss with 7 cells from pavement. The wind was low, (5 mph) but not perfectly calm. I'm curious to hear what other people experience who try the stock setup on 7 cells. Mine either took off or stalled at less than one foot of altitude. I wasn't trying to climb fast either.
Sep 08, 2006, 11:00 AM
Electricholics Anonymous
claybuster's Avatar
Jeremy.
I like the job you did on you review or overview, it really doesn't matter what its called. It is under "beginners" and alot of pictures in my opinion helps beginners better understand the point you are trying to get across to them.And also helps them decide if they would like this particular model or not. I think you did a great job. and I'm sure you put alot of time into it by including the pictures and videos.I'm sure it will be a great help to beginners and even those with some experiance.My hat goes off to you for taking the time and effort to post it.
Mike
Sep 16, 2006, 08:01 AM
SlopeHead
jcosta's Avatar
Jeremy

FYI:
A review has just come out on a French magazine ("Fly International"). The Minimag is tested with the stock power system and with a Multiplex brushless upgrade.
The stock power system is considered more than enough for everything except flying with floats, as there is extra drag both in take off and in flight.
It is mentioned that with a brushless power system and Lipos the plane becomes nose heavy.

Also, a stall on ROG means not enough groundspeed, i.e. too much elevator too soon. It has nothing to do with the power system itself.

But, appart from these minor niggles, you have done a great review!
Sep 16, 2006, 10:01 AM
Senior User
Jeremy Z's Avatar
jcosta, thanks for the constructive criticism. The more I read, especially regarding stock power systems, the more I think you were right some months back when you commented to Jürgen that Americans just like to have more power. (more of everything, come to think of it)

I know that was the case for me. I like to have enough power to get out of trouble, to fight wind, and to occasionally fly 'out of scale'.

Some more comments on this. With a 7 cell 900 mAh NiMH pack and the stock power system, I was only able to get about 5-6 minutes of flight, as the little Permax 400 needs to be at full throttle most of the time, where it is at about 50% efficiency. Brushless motors, even the lower power ones are usually at least 20% more efficient at full power. This translates to 20% more flight time at the same power level.

There is something pleasing to find that a plane can fly satisfactorily on a cheap power system. Kind of akin to being able to say that my vehicle gets excellent fuel economy. At the same time, I don't delude myself that it is a great performer or that it keeps up with medium speed traffic either.


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