The Stik Laser Cut ParkFlyer by Stevens Aeromodel

A serious upgrade to the ubiquitous GWS Slow Stick - a laser cut balsa aileron wing and tail group turns a three-channel float-around airplane into a great aileron trainer/sport flyer.

The stik almost overhead.  Image courtesy of Ron Standley.
My Stevens Aero stik all done and ready to fly. You can certainly see the family resemblance.
My Stevens Aero stik all done and ready to fly. You can certainly see the family resemblance.
Wingspan:40 inches
Wing Area:350 sq. in.
Weight:10.5 oz. plus battery. As flown, 13.8 to 14.2 ounces
Length:34 inches
Wing Loading:5.6 to 5.8 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Four Hitec HS-55s
Transmitter:Multiplex Royal Evo
Receiver:MikroDesigns SPF-5-RXO
Battery:various - see text
Motor:various - see text
ESC:various - see text
Manufacturer:Stevens Aeromodel
Available From:Stevens Aeromodel

The GWS Slow Stick is probably one of the most common airplanes in the so-called “parkflyer” class, and it works amazingly well especially when you consider the basic airframe WITH a motor/gearbox/prop costs all of $35. But part of what makes it such a success as a beginner’s airplane – its slow, almost casual way of flying – also works against it if there’s much of a breeze out. Also, it certainly is not what anyone would call a precise flyer. Flying a Slow Stick is more a collaborative effort between the pilot, the airplane and the wind than direct control by the pilot.

So while it is good for teaching the rudiments of controlling an R/C model (and it is an amazingly flexible platform for all manner of kit-bashing), when it’s time to move up to full four-channel control, or fly under less-constrained conditions, it leaves something to be desired. Further, its casual manner is not ideal for teaching how to be in control of the airplane and making it do what YOU want to do at all times rather than just steering it around approximately where you want it to go. A lot of low-time pilots want to jump directly from the Slow Stick to something like the GWS warbirds, but going straight to a low-wing aileron-equipped warbird is a bit of a stretch for most folks.

Enter the Stevens Aeromodel “stik”. It is designed to serve as a rugged and honest-flying aileron trainer as well as introduce the builder to the joys of assembling a laser-cut balsa structure. After building and learning to fly a stik well, they’ll really be ready to go from the basic three-channel Slow Stick to a low-winged aileron-equipped plane like the GWS or ParkZone warbirds or many of Stevens Aero’s or Mountain Models’ offerings.

Origins

The SA stik is a development of a Slow Stick alternative wing that was created by a fellow named Tom Binkley. Bill Stevens mentions this in the introductory stuff in the stik manual. I always like to know (and share) the background of the planes I fly and write about, so I dropped Tom a private message on RC Groups and here’s what he said:

“My first successful park flyer 4 1/2 years ago was a Lite Stik [AKA the GWS Pico Stick], as we called them then. I began experimenting with Lite Stik "knockoffs" using balsa and SoLite polyhedral wings, with great success. Several friends built my "Yard Stik" [this is not the Great Planes kit of the same name] and really enjoyed them. I still fly one with a CD motor…

“I learned aerobatics with the Dandy Sport, and moved on to a Formosa and some original design models. I had two friends (older adults) who were struggling to get beyond beginner flying skills. I began thinking about a simple aileron trainer.

“At the same time I had a recurring experience common to us all. I'd meet a guy who was just learning to fly his Slow Stick, and after he'd stall and spin it in, he'd ask what I thought his next model should be. He has his eye on that slick new 200 W motor, 2100 3S battery and was wondering if he should get the Formosa or the P-51. You've met him. I'd suggest the Dandy Sport, but no one seemed interested.

“My two friends were among a growing number of new flyers that needed a "secondary trainer". It had to be simple, slow, rugged and easy to fly. The solution seemed so simple and obvious; I expected to see it published in a magazine article one day. Drawing on my Lite Stik knockoffs, it seemed a simple matter of adding a built-up aileron wing to a Slow Stick.

“No one had done it yet, so I decided I would give it a shot. It was October of 2004. Based on good experience with a couple of other successful designs, I settled on about 310 square inches. I built a wing with I-beam spar, strip ailerons and the same dihedral as the SS, so it would work on the stock wing saddles. I calculated the appropriate area for the stab /elevator and rudder /fin, cut out a cardboard pattern and cut down the foam SS tail parts. I decided to shorten the fuse 3". I wanted a model that tracked well. It worked out to be long enough. I installed one GWS Pico servo off-center, left of the center rib, hooked up a couple of pushrods and installed the wing on my cut-down SS.

“It was a complete success. With the stock motor and moderate throws, it did all the basic aerobatics. It penetrated the breeze much better than the SS and did the easiest touch-and-goes. I handed the transmitter to my beginner friend, and he had no problem flying it. It was likewise for other beginners. Pilots with a few flights on their SS were able to fly with a minimum of coaching. Several local low-time flyers built, flew and learned from them.

“I settled on the name Et. Like the movie character of the same name, this Et could enable it's friends to fly.

“We tried various motors; Astro 010-14, HiMax 2015-4100, Razor 300, GWS 2205-15T and others, finally settled on a favorite: the HiMax 2808-980. It is smooth, powerful, and quiet. I think 90 to 100W is about enough. I tried built-up and slab balsa tails.

“Every time I flew it around others, I got a lot of interest and questions. I drew some pretty good plans that I made available. Finally a low-time flyer who's a CAD engineer asked if I'd mind if he converted my plans to CAD so we could get Bill [Stevens] to cut the parts for us. I was delighted. Several more Et's were built by local flyers from those short kits.

“Finally Bill asked if he could borrow a prototype Et. He was interested in marketing something similar. The Stik is a bit bigger and heavier, has two aileron servos and a torsionally stiffer wing. The fuse is full length and the tail outline is Bill's. It has a bit better energy retention and is perhaps slightly less nimble than Et. I was very pleased to see it go into production, not so much for my own ego, this really is Bill's design, but because it fills a need so well. The hobby really needs a "transition trainer". I think a lot of people will have a tremendous amount of fun with this model. That makes me smile. So, that’s the story. Thanks for asking.

T.B AKA Tom Binkley”

The resulting airplane has about 350 square inches of wing, with a flat-bottomed airfoil with a bit of “Phillips entry”. (It’s NOT flat all the way to the leading edge.) It’s a little thinner than the true Clark-Y or NACA 2412 used on the Mountain Models Dandy Sport/Switchback Sport. Construction is all interlocking laser-cut balsa. It has two big strip ailerons, each driven by its own servo. The dihedral, as Tom mentioned, is chosen so that the wing fits on the Slow Stick wing saddles. By the way, even with that much dihedral, inverted flight is not hard though the plane does let you know it would rather be upright.

The Slow Stick tail is replaced with a swept-back 3/32 balsa fin/rudder and a nearly rectangular 3/32 balsa horizontal stabilizer and elevator. These are set up to mount the same way as the stock Slow Stick parts and so can be either mounted with screws or glued/taped in place. They are MUCH stiffer than the stock parts, which I am sure contributes to the precise handling of the plane.

But why was I interested in the stik? After all, I’ve been at this electric airplane thing for over 20 years now. I have lots of easy-flying airplanes as I’m not exactly a “3D” kind of guy (at least not yet). Well, Tom’s mention of the Mountain Models Dandy Sport – one of my all-time favorite sport flyers - is telling. I do a great deal of experimenting with power system components, both for my columns and for the fun of it. One of the appeals of the stik was its possibilities as a motor and ESC testbed, what with everything out in the open like it is, making component changes MUCH simpler. Also, my main Dandy Sport is getting a little battered after over three years of service and I figure it’s time for something new. And the two-servo wing on strip ailerons will give me a chance to play around with flaperons – something I’ve wanted to try for some time.

A closer look

Choices

The Stevens Aero stik is available in two forms. If you have a “donor” Slow Stick on hand with the fuselage, landing gear and the various plastic bits for wing, radio and battery supports, then you can order the wing/tail “upgrade” kit to use on your existing fuselage/gear. In this you get the laser cut built-up wing kit and the sheet balsa tail group as well as control horns and a few other hardware bits. Birch dowels are supplied to use for the wing leading edges in lieu of the fiberglass parts that come in the Slow Stick kit. This option is $26.95.

If you don’t have a donor SS or if you’d just like to have a complete airplane kit, you can order the full stik kit, which includes all the stuff listed above, plus the GWS Slow Stick AS-1 parts set (fuselage tube, pushrods, fiberglass rods for the wing LE, tail-mounting hardware) and the AS-3 parts set (all the plastic mounting parts, plus landing gear and wheels). This option is $36.50.

For either option you need four 6-9g servos – one for each aileron as well as the rudder and elevator servos – the wing mounting locations are set up so that the ubiquitous Hitec HS-55 is a drop-in fit. These are what I am using. There’s enough material there to allow you to trim the opening a bit for a little larger servo. A little creativity will be needed to mount servos that are much shorter between mounting screws.

You also need a minimum of four-channel micro receiver (with 5 or more you can also experiment with flaperons) and either a short Y-harness or two short servo extensions. I’m using a MikroDesigns SPF-5RXO and MikroTenna for the receiver – tiny, light, and rock solid. Also required is an ESC suitable for the motor and drive battery you want to use, and the motor (and gearbox if applicable) itself.

And, of course, you’ll need at least one roll of a suitable iron-on covering material for the wing. The stik instructions recommend AeroFilm Lite, which is Stevens’ own labeled version of the covering also known as SolarFilm Lite (or SoLite), Nelson LiteFilm, and Coverite Microlite. You could also use the more rugged AeroFilm (Solarfilm) with only a small weight penalty. There is a much richer choice of colors with this latter option.

One roll is more than enough – you’ll only need more than one roll if you want to use more than one color.

You'll also need some hinge tape. My current favorite is 3M "Multi-Task" tape. It used to be sold as "Crystal Clear" as well. I've some on other planes that has been there for three years now (including on my Dandy Sport that has literally hundreds of flights under a wide variety of conditions) and the hinges are holding up very well.

For power, as Tom Binkley said, 90-100W is enough. In fact, it’s more than enough. The stik can be more than adequately powered with the same power system that comes with a Slow Stick – the GWS EPS-350C motor/gearbox – when run on a 2s lithium battery that is comfortable at 10A or so. The first video below is of my airplane powered with a “C” ratio (5.33:1) EPS-350C turning an APC 9x6 slowfly prop. This is less than 70W at full throttle.

What you get

In the Priority Mail box from Stevens Aero you will find, in a poly bag, several very nicely laser cut sheets of balsa parts for the wing and tail, one small plywood sheet, as well as quality hardware bits such as DuBro micro control horns and pushrod keepers, music wire for the aileron pushrods, and even a small supply of rubber bands for mounting the wing when you’re done. This is all taped to a sheet of thick cardboard for protection. Also included is an illustrated instruction manual and a reduced sized two-view “plan” for reference. Full sized plans are not supplied, nor are they needed. If you got the full kit you’ll also have the two GWS Slow Stick parts sets I mentioned above.

That manual, by the way, includes an excerpt from Scott Stoops’ excellent book “The Pilot’s Guide to Mastering Radio Controlled Flight” that is tailored to help the reader understand what’s different about an airplane with ailerons vs. one that has the rudder as the primary lateral control (like a Slow Stick) and how to make the transition to full three-axis control. It also teaches good aileron technique including a clear explanation of how to take off and land in a crosswind – something you NEED all three axes of control to do properly (and something that, once mastered, really opens up the conditions under which you can safely go flying).

Building it

If you’ve never experienced the fun and satisfaction of building a kit in which EVERY part fits exactly as it is supposed to, it’s hard to describe what it is like. But the SA stik is just such a kit. I’ve been to various flying sites with the airplane the past few weeks. In talking to people about it, one thing I’ve said over and over is that, with this kit, if a part doesn’t fit when you try to install it you have the wrong part. Really. I discovered this myself when I went to put in one of the diagonal wing ribs. When it didn’t fit properly against the spar web I realized I had one of the ones intended for the center bay – its front was angled to suit the tilt of the center ribs – and I was trying to use it further outboard.

As with any laser cut kit, it’s a good idea to carefully sand off the little bumps on the parts that are left from the “retaining gaps” – the little uncut sections that are left so the parts don’t just fall out of the sheets. This is especially important where one of these bumps is on a surface of one part that is glued to another. The most important of these is the joint between the spar web and the spar caps. All you need to do is gently remove the bumps so that the edge of the part is smooth. Here’s an illustration of what I mean.

Some people like to sand off the darkening of the edges of all the parts that is left by the laser cutting process, but I don’t see the need and never do it. Besides, that way I’m not messing with the precise fit that’s engineered into those parts. Sure, the dark edges show through the covering, but for me that’s almost a badge of honor for a laser cut kit.

Here are a few notes I made in the margins of the manual as I built the airplane.

  • The beveled edges of the rudder and elevator (and the ailerons) are more easily done with a razor plane than sanding. I use an old Wikro plane that uses a double-edged razor blade.
  • Carefully hold the spar webs flat against the building table while sanding off the retention gap bumps with a sanding bar. That will help you remove only the bumps and not interfere with the critical web-to-cap spar joints.
  • Take special care not to confuse the diagonal ribs – the ones with the beveled front go at the root of the wing (see comment above about the wrong part won’t fit).
  • Working against a straightedge will help keep the two parts of the W5 wing tip lined up, which will help them fit against the tip rib once assembled.
  • I used thick CA rather than thin to install the fiberglass leading edge “dowels”. One of the other places it seemed to be needed was in the joint between the stab tips and the stab itself – which was a bit loose. (I’ve since started assembling another stik and those stab-to-tip joints were nice and tight and fine for thin CA.)
  • I also used thick CA for the wing center section joint just to give myself a bit more time to get things aligned and clamped while making sure glue got into the joint all the way.

The only really fussy part of the build involves getting the front halves of the root ribs installed, as they need to fit properly with other parts in several different directions, and they’re kind of hard to get hold of to do this.

All the woodwork took under 2 hours.

Thanks in no small way to the wing’s diagonal ribs, the resulting wing is nice and stiff even before covering, which makes it easier to cover. I used what is becoming my signature color scheme of transparent green and cream (or antique white) SolarFilm Lite. And, of course, I topped the covering job off with custom cut vinyl lettering from Greg Judy at Vinyl Graphics by Greg.

A few final assembly details

Other than mounting the fin on the indicated (right hand) side of the fuselage (I wasn’t paying attention and put mine on the left, so the rudder pushrod has to bend inboard quite a bit to reach the rudder horn) I’ve really no comments or added pointers for the final assembly. Do just what the manual tells you and you’ll be fine.

By the way, in the manual is a clever way to get tape hinges installed that I'd not thought of before - and it works very nicely indeed. I'm going to have to adopt it for all tape-hinging in the future.

I do want to recommend one small departure from what the pictures and drawing show, however. If you’re using a geared motor such as the suggested EPS-350, mount it with the motor above the fuselage rather than below it. This does two things for you. First, it adds just a touch of down thrust effect by raising the thrust line. Second, and more important if you’re using lithium batteries, it removes a hard obstacle from in front of the battery so that if you happen to nose in hard the battery can go forward instead of impacting the back of the motor. I have one wrinkled battery pack as a result of learning this lesson for myself.

I recommend you use a Velcro strap or some other positive means of retaining the battery on the two supports beyond just sticking the battery to them from underneath with Velcro. I’ve been using an inexpensive variant called Velcro “reusable ties” which is lighter and more flexible than some other Velcro tie-wrap type straps.. One is wrapped around the fuselage between the two battery supports then wraps around the battery when it’s installed. This one also corrals the wires from the ESC to the motor.

I cut a second one into two parts and use one part to keep the wiring from the elevator and rudder servos and the ESC going to the receiver corralled.

After I’d been flying the plane for a while I decided to use a little thin CA to anchor the servo mounts and the wing mounts on the fuselage. They had little inclination to move when first installed, but seemed to loosen up a bit with use.

Also, I’ve recently added a small screw up through the landing gear mount into the fuselage to keep the gear from working loose on landings. It’s kind of embarrassing to line up for a landing and then have the gear fall off as you touch down. No such problems after adding the screw

Powering the stik

Basically anything that can do a reasonably efficient job of putting 70-110W into a 9-11 inch prop will fly the stik very well.

”Stock” power

As I mentioned earlier, the basic brushed system recommended by Stevens Aero – a GWS EPS 350C-C (or D) on a two cell lithium pack at 70W or so – is adequate for quick takeoffs and a decent suite of aerobatics. My first flights on my stik were with that setup, turning an APC 9x6 slowfly prop. I used a MikroDesigns SuperGFS! speed controller to meter the electrons. This is a very small and light unit that can handle up to 20A (double what’s really needed here). One of its features is that it has a wide range of low voltage cutoff settings that are easily set. At this time it’s the only brushed ESC I know of that has proper lithium cutoff settings for 3 and 4 cell batteries. It is also a very smooth and responsive throttle – it has a real good “feel” in the air.

The stik, powered this way, is plenty of fun to fly, as you can see in the first video below. For getting into full three axis controls it’s more than adequate. For props, at sea level or near it, I’d suggest the GWS 9x7 reduction series or APC 9x6 slow flyer prop for the “C” ratio and the GWS 10x8 reduction series or APC 10x7 slowfly prop for the “D” gear ratio. If you’re in the high country like Bill Stevens is, put the 10 inch props on the “C” gearbox. If you have such a power system handy, by all means use it and enjoy. Then think about upgrading after you wear the brushes out on the motor.

About the only situation where this kind of power seems inadequate is on a breezy day. The stik can handle quite a bit of wind with enough power to allow it to “punch through” going upwind.

Brushless upgrades

As Tom Binkley said, around 100W is plenty of power. He recommended a particular 28mm diameter HiMax outrunner which I am sure would do a fine job. My personal favorite setup for many models about this size is the Model Motors AXi 2212/34, driving an APC 10x7 slowlfy prop, with energy supplied by a 3 cell lithium polymer battery (one that is capable of sustaining 10A or better). I’ve happily used both the Motortron MDrive 9A and the Castle Creations Thunderbird-9 and Phoenix-10 ESCs with this combination with good results. Of the three, the MDrive has the nicest low-throttle response. (More on these in my next Controlling Interest column.)

The easiest way to mount this motor (or any other 28mm diameter outrunner I can think of) on the stik’s fuselage is the new and very inexpensive GWS plastic outrunner mount called the GWEMM28TS . I find it works better if I put a clearance notch for the wires from the front of the motor rather than trying to run the wires through the openings in the front of the mount, right up near the prop, as the GWS info suggests. A few seconds with a small diameter Dremel sanding drum in the right spot produces a notch that works very nicely, as you can see in the second picture.

This setup provides enough power for unlimited vertical at 2/3 throttle and is enough for anything I can dream of doing with the stik. It is also virtually silent in operation – something I really like. Since full throttle is needed for almost nothing, flights of 20+ minutes on a 3s 1250 mAh battery (such as the very affordable Commonsense RC budget packs) are normal.

An inexpensive brushless setup that I have been flying a great deal is the GWS 2212/13T outrunner on 3s li-polys, turning a GWS 10x6 direct drive prop. This is almost the same input power as the AXi setup I mentioned above - about 120W at full throttle on a fresh pack. However, the $21 GWS motor is not as efficient as the AXi, which is why it needs a prop that draws less current. Even so, this is right at the upper edge of the motor’s “comfort zone” statically. But as with the AXi, you spend so little time anywhere near full throttle that the motor is only warm to the touch after a full 20+ minutes of flying. It still offers unlimited vertical for at least the first half of the battery charge and plenty of punch for those breezy days as well.

I’ve run the GWS motor with both the CC T-Bird 9 and the new Jeti ECO-12 controller and both do a fine job. Bottom line, though, this combination works, and works well. This is the combination used for the other flight video. It, too, is virtually silent. I didn’t put any music on that second video just so you could hear (or not hear) how quiet it is.

The next size down GWS outrunner, the 2208/18T, turning the 9x5 GWS direct drive prop, also works very well. It’s about midway in performance between the EPS 350C-C setup and the 2212/13T, which means very sprightly and fun, but without quite as much power margin as the bigger motor.

The newest GWS outrunner, the 2215/12T, also performs well. It turns the GWS 10x6 direct drive prop at almost exactly the same RPM as the 2212/13T, but it uses over 1.5A less current. It also runs MUCH cooler – so at that operating point it’s more efficient. For another 7 grams (and $3) I get a couple of more minutes of flight time on a charge with performance that’s indistinguishable from the 2212/13T. I may try my favorite 10x7 APC slowfly prop on that motor in the near future.

By the way, at this time, none of the 3mm screws that come with the GWS outrunners (at least the motors that I have purchased so far) are long enough to mount the motor in the plastic GWS mount, so you’ll need some 4-6mm long 3mm machine screws from some other source. Fortunately, Stevens Aero has suitable screws available (as do some other vendors).

I’ve also run a couple of other brushless setups – for example the Castle Creations CM-2054 on a Cobri gearbox at 8.4:1 on 3s and the 10x7 APC slowfly prop. This is nearly 200W and is just plain overkill. Anything much over 120W is just not needed.

Flying it

I’ve already mentioned several things about how the SA stik flies. Here is some more detail.

Low speed stuff

Takeoffs from most any surface, if into the wind, are quick and easy even with the “stock” power. Basically, if the airplane can start to roll, it can take off. Since the tailwheel is not steerable crosswinds are a little tougher. On the other hand, with any of the brushless systems mentioned, it’s off in less than two airplane lengths – just punch it and go.

Thanks in part to the little sub spar ahead of the main one, which helps maintain the forward curve of the airfoil across the whole of the wing, the stall is very gentle, straight, and at a higher angle of attack than you’d expect. This makes low speed flight easy and confidence inspiring. You can turn sharply at low speeds with no worries about a tip stall/snap roll.

Low speed handling is so benign, in fact, that I’ve yet to be able to provoke a spin from the airplane at all. Full up elevator and full rudder either way doesn’t even get much of a spiral dive out of it – just big descending circles. The stall is so soft there’s never a stall break. Under power the airplane will do tight climbing circles, again with not even a hint of wanting to snap out.

Landings are very easy, thanks to both the good low speed manners and the springy Slow Stick landing gear. Three-pointers are very nice, but wheel landings are also easy and lead to pretty touch and goes. I think of all of the “parkflyer” type airplanes I’ve had, this one is the easiest of all to shoot touch and goes with, on either smooth or grassy surfaces. On really tall or thick grass it will nose over, especially if you come in with too much speed, but it does so gently. The field I was flying out of when we shot the videos had tall, rough, dry grass in it – so I wasn’t able to show the touch and go aspect of it’s abilities, unfortunately.

There is a slight bit of adverse yaw from the ailerons – more so at low speeds. With the two-servo wing and appropriate transmitter capabilities you could program in some differential to get rid of this, but it’s better – and more to the point of the airplane – to just take this gentle hint from the stik and use a bit of rudder. It’s good practice and gets your rudder thumb accustomed to being used in flight if it isn’t already.

On the other hand, it turns very well on rudder only – it has plenty of dihedral for that. This makes sense since the wing fits on the stock Slow Stick saddles, and of course the SS itself is a three-channel plane by design. That said, with the recommended throws, the ailerons overpower the rudder when you cross-control for a crosswind landing or to slip to lose some altitude on final approach, so some care is needed to balance one against the other and maintain the desired attitude and flight path.

Aerobatics

As you can see in the videos, rolls can be very axial. It takes the right timing to put in some forward stick to keep the nose up as it comes through inverted to make them look their best, but that’s true of just about everything I fly.

Speaking of inverted flying – keeping the nose up while inverted takes a moderate amount of forward stick at high speeds and more as the airplane slows down – but even with the stock power system and little more than the recommended control throws, small outside loops are possible. With more power, bigger ones can be done. As I mentioned above, the stik takes a bit of encouragement to keep it inverted, which is not surprising considering the airfoil and the amount of dihedral it has, but it’s really not that hard to fly around inverted for extended periods of time. The elevator is more sensitive when the airplane’s upside-down but not hugely so.

Personality Traits

One interesting quirk it has is that you never know which way it’s going to respond to the rudder while flying inverted. Here’s what I think is going on there: A plane with little or no dihedral responds in reverse to rudder commands when inverted. A plane with enough dihedral to turn well with rudder (as a properly designed three channel airplane) responds normally to rudder (as the primary lateral control) while inverted. The stik seems to be right at the point between those two cases. So how it responds to rudder when inverted is, at least for me, unpredictable.

Some posters in RC Groups have commented that at full power it climbs strongly, and that is true. Full throttle with any of the brushless setups I’ve mentioned results in great big loops if you do nothing to push the nose down. That doesn’t really bother me because it’s most apparent when using enough power to let the plane go straight up anyway – power settings used for only a few seconds at a time. At more moderate power settings pitch trim change with power is not that strong.

In any case, one can’t really expect a plane with a cambered airfoil, and with that airfoil set at a positive angle of attack not to want to climb with increased speed. I suppose you could bend the fuselage to put in some down thrust – but I expect it would take quite a bit of down thrust to make much difference here.

One really pleasant surprise is how well the stik handles a breezy day. It’s much less draggy than a Slow Stick, and even with the inexpensive brushless setups I’ve mentioned it has plenty of margin to cut through a moderate wind. Of course one always has to land eventually. Good control authority even at low speeds is an asset here.

I’ve played just a little bit with the flaperon capability so far. I have it set up so I can get about 20 degrees of flap. This is enough to let it slow down noticeably at slow speeds and it really tightens up loops. But it also costs quite a bit of aileron authority (so the fact that it turns well on rudder is handy). Takeoffs with flaps down are almost instant, and the tendency to climb under power is strongly increased. I really need to do quite a bit more experimenting in this realm.

Bottom line: The stik is trustworthy, capable and very relaxing to fly. It can also handle a fair breeze. All that makes it my kind of sport plane.

Variations on a theme

The Stevens Aero stik has only been around for about three months as I write this, but it has already spawned two “derivatives”. The first is a slight re-doing of a seaplane, originally based on the Slow Stick, and done by RC Groups member Jim Spencer. I had hoped to have one put together and flown for this review, but some “real life” got in the way over the week I was going to build the stik seaplane. I had planned to have it ready for the end-of-August meet in Chilliwack BC, which includes morning visits to a float pond (for example, see this event report). But I didn’t and sadly it’s still in the box. Perhaps I’ll be able to add something about it later on.

Jim has made a kit of parts necessary to convert a stik to a seaplane available. More info including details and some pictures can be found in this thread. The SA stik variant comes into the story starting at the 26th post in the thread. Details of kit availability and contents are in posts 36 and 37.

The second variant comes from Stevens Aero themselves. It’s a stronger wing with 15 inches more span and about 115 square inches more area as well as a slightly larger tail group, intended for lifting loads (such as for aerial photography – something that many folks use a Slow Stick for) or more sailplane-like performance. This one is called the SOARstik. Like the “regular” stik, this one is also available both as a wing/tail for an existing Slow Stick or as a full kit. Prices are $10 more for either variant. I’ve received one of these but have not yet taken it out of the bag. Specs are here: I hope to be able to report on this variant in the future as well.

Wrap Up

So – if you’re looking for either that next step beyond the Slow Stick, or a capable small field sport flyer that can handle some breeze yet is relaxing to fly, or maybe an introduction to the joys of building a laser cut balsa kit, the Stevens Aero stik may well be exactly what you are looking for.

Is this for a beginner? It certainly is for a beginning wood airplane kit builder, and with the aid of an instructor (especially with a buddy-box setup) it could serve as a first trainer pretty easily. I used it just this way for introductory R/C flights for several folks at a recent group picnic that happened to be held in a park where there is an R/C flying field. It was interesting as most of the folks who tried the airplane had no experience at all and by passing to them only the ailerons and the elevator (and keeping rudder and throttle for my own use – something that’s easy to do with the Multiplex Evo), they all did fine. The one who did the best had lots of time on flying type video games and had reconfigured his controller so it worked the same way the elevator stick on an R/C transmitter does (pull for nose up). I don’t think it would’ve taken more than two or three batteries’ worth of flying for him to have soloed. So, yes, the SA stik can definitely be a beginner’s airplane.

Highly recommended.

Downloads

Downloads

Downloads

Downloads

Last edited by AMCross; Oct 14, 2006 at 09:19 PM..
Thread Tools
Oct 14, 2006, 09:53 PM
Promoting Model Aviation...
Murocflyer's Avatar
Very well written and very informative. Makes me want to go buy another one!

Frank

Edit to add:

PS And I did. Seven years later!

Here is a set of build videos showing building of the complete airplane from box to flight.

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...18&postcount=5
Last edited by Murocflyer; Dec 23, 2013 at 11:24 PM. Reason: Added link to build videos
Oct 14, 2006, 11:26 PM
Life is Good!
Tank52's Avatar
Great write-up BEC. I've really enjoyed flying my SA Stik over the past month or two. It is a gentle and predictable slow flyer on a 2s pack--good for about 25 or so touch and go's on a tight pattern. On a 3s pack she becomes a sporty light aerobat--the neighborhood kids love it. I've used the 18T GWS brushless motor with a GWS 9x5 prop and a BP2410-09 with a 10x4.7 prop with great success. I'll have to break out the AXI for a test run next. Steven's Aero put another great kit together and it really was a quick and enjoyable build. You'll love this one.

Cheers,
Tank52
Last edited by Tank52; Oct 15, 2006 at 09:08 PM.
Oct 15, 2006, 02:35 AM
BEC
BEC
Registered User
BEC's Avatar
Thanks, guys.

Have you got yours in the air yet, Frank?
Oct 15, 2006, 08:17 AM
Promoting Model Aviation...
Murocflyer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BEC
Thanks, guys.

Have you got yours in the air yet, Frank?
Not yet, awaiting on some 30 amp power pole connectors.

Frank
Oct 15, 2006, 10:44 AM
Gravity is my downfall
Tailspin Ken's Avatar
BEC that was a thoughtful review. It is good to see something like this on Groups. We can refer the "What should I get after the SS" people directly to this article.
The bad thing abut the review is that it will probably never appear in a magazine because Stevens is not a big time advertiser. So the people that rely on magazines for info will go on thinking that electric flight is limited to pod and boom foamies.
Ken
Oct 15, 2006, 04:46 PM
BEC
BEC
Registered User
BEC's Avatar
Well, this review won't since we didn't arrange for it to be and I doubt that either magazine I somtimes write for would take it after it's been posted here - they like to have stuff first (like the way we did the Great Planes Polycharge 4 - first a review in Fly RC, then that material (and more) here in one of my columns).

SA does advertise in Fly RC from time to time and has had a couple of recent reviews.

By the way all - I've been doing reviews for awhile, but this is my first attempt at videos for online articles so I'd appreciate some comments (I already know we should get the kid to use the tripod at least some of the time ). Even though they were done in iMovie I have loaded 'em up in both Windows Media Player and RealPlayer on one of our Windoze XP boxes, so I know they can be played there....though they look best in Quicktime - but I am wondering how well it's working for folks (as well as whether you all could stand to actually watch them....).
Last edited by BEC; Oct 15, 2006 at 04:51 PM.
Oct 15, 2006, 05:26 PM
Gravity is my downfall
Tailspin Ken's Avatar
I was not referring to Fly RC. I like that mag. Anyway, this thread is not about editorial policies. It is about the Stik, your review, and the movies.
!. 1)The impression I get from your article is that you put a lot of thought and time into it and tried to leave no important questions unanswered. It is obvious that the article is meant to be a service to the readers and not just a tribute to the author. Good job BEC. Your efforts have been rewarded!
2) The movies- Ian did a fine job keeping the plane in the camera. The film quality is good enough to let us see what the plane does in flight.. which is exactly what it is supposed to do! No problems with the vid. Your concerns are unfounded.
I do have one small suggestion. It would show everything more clearly if the bottom surface of the wing were a darker color than the top. Now I don't know if the idea of the vid was came after the plane was built, or possibly you like your planes to have solid color wings. It was just my personal observation and is not really a big deal at all.
Final thought...I don't know how old Ian is, but he should be rewarded for his work...dinner? video game rental? six pack? whichever is appropriate!

Ken
Oct 15, 2006, 11:35 PM
Life is Good!
Tank52's Avatar
I shot some onboard video this afternoon. Winds were 8-10 knots and the SA Stik was tracking very well. Check it out here.
Tank52
Last edited by Tank52; Oct 24, 2006 at 12:18 AM. Reason: Moved video to a new server
Oct 15, 2006, 11:40 PM
BEC
BEC
Registered User
BEC's Avatar
Ken,

Thanks..... you're right - this is not the place to get into that whole magazine review tailspin.

Ian just turned 16. I'll pull this up on another machine in the house where he can see the comments.

The wing colors are a bit different than my usual - this is the first time I've gone solid cream on the lower surface with that color scheme instead of with transparent green. Unfortunately we shot rather late in the day which didn't help.

I've not yet done the light on top/dark on the bottom setup for anything, really. I should try it someday.
Oct 16, 2006, 02:09 AM
Dance the skies...
Tom Frank's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BEC
...
By the way all - I've been doing reviews for awhile, but this is my first attempt at videos for online articles so I'd appreciate some comments (I already know we should get the kid to use the tripod at least some of the time ). Even though they were done in iMovie I have loaded 'em up in both Windows Media Player and RealPlayer on one of our Windoze XP boxes, so I know they can be played there....though they look best in Quicktime - but I am wondering how well it's working for folks (as well as whether you all could stand to actually watch them....).
BEC, great article... very thorough coverage... an easy and interesting read.

I played just the large video clips and found them to be very adequate. The one thing that could be done to improve the video is to lock the camcorder focus at infinity if possible. All auto-focus cameras will struggle to keep a plane in focus with no background image, even clouds, to keep the autofocus from searching if the plane is not in the camera's auto-focus sensor area. I found my own videos are consistently clearer and in good focus if I eliminate the auto-focus feature and just lock the lens setting at infinity.

So when can we expect the next review... maybe the float follow-up?
Oct 16, 2006, 02:22 AM
Dance the skies...
Tom Frank's Avatar
BEC, I meant to ask an unrelated question that arose when I read your review. Before GWS came out with this new outrunner mount, I used their 400 motor gear frame to mount my outrunners. My 2212 AXI and other similar sized outrunner fit very snugly in the frame ring.

I have not yet bought the new mount, and from your pictures it appears to have a larger ID to the ring that surrounds the motor than the 400 gear frame does. That being the case, when you attach the motor to the new mount, would it not be possible to add some thin washers on the machine screws between the motor and the plastic frame to create some thrust offset if desired?
Oct 16, 2006, 02:23 AM
BEC
BEC
Registered User
BEC's Avatar
Thanks, Tom. And thanks for the tip on the camera. Our video camera does have a manual focus mode - I insisted on it when I bought it. I guess I need to show my son how to invoke it

I can't say when the next article will be. I actually owe Fly RC a couple of articles, and I have two columns for Ezone overdue as well......plus the Emeter part II, among other things.

I do want to a followup both on Jim's floatplane variant and on the SOARStik...but it will be awhile.

Speaking of videos, I just watched Tank's. Neat stuff.

On the thrust offset....lemme look at the AXi in the mount a moment - it's right over there....

OK - a quick experiment tells me that as long as the offset you want is away from the stick socket you could do as you suggest. So with the motor above the stick, some downthrust could be easily done. Side thrust - maybe a little before the rotor of the motor would rub on the mount. A little Dremel work would allow you to increase that some, I'd think.
Oct 16, 2006, 03:05 AM
Dance the skies...
Tom Frank's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BEC
... I can't say when the next article will be. I actually owe Fly RC a couple of articles, and I have two columns for Ezone overdue as well......plus the Emeter part II, among other things.

I do want to a followup both on Jim's floatplane variant and on the SOARStik...but it will be awhile.

... On the thrust offset... OK - a quick experiment tells me that as long as the offset you want is away from the stick socket you could do as you suggest. So with the motor above the stick, some downthrust could be easily done. Side thrust - maybe a little before the rotor of the motor would rub on the mount. A little Dremel work would allow you to increase that some, I'd think.
You're very busy... sure beats "real" work though!

Thanks for the quick look at that GWS mount... most all my outrunners use a bottom stick with motor on top to keep the original geared thrust line, so it sounds like the GWS mount will work well for most small thrust line offset adjustments.
Oct 16, 2006, 08:08 AM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
BEC,

Excellent review, very informative and a pleasure to read!

Ronnie


Quick Reply
Message:

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Article Stevens Aeromodels' Models Edge 540 Aerobatic Laser-Cut Kit Assembly & Review sun.flyer Electric Plane Talk 11 Dec 07, 2008 06:01 PM
Sold iStar kit Laser-cut Balsa Pattern Parkflyer 13-14 oz. JWarren Aircraft - Electric - Airplanes (FS/W) 6 May 07, 2006 11:14 PM
Sold Parkmaster laser cut 4 ch parkflyer + lensrc 25t 1987tc Aircraft - Electric - Airplanes (FS/W) 6 Oct 08, 2005 05:35 PM
Cap 232 (40e) by Stevens AeroModel FS BleakleyS Aircraft - Electric - Airplanes (FS/W) 3 May 21, 2004 08:44 PM