Phase 3 Fidget 3D Biplane Review

Phase 3 has come out with a great looking and fantastic flying 3D biplane that has all the big plane performance but with the convenient size of a park flyer. Let's take a look as Tim Tworek has a blast building and flying this all new 3D biplane.

Splash

Introduction

Wingspan:31.5"
Wing Area:400 sq. in.
Weight:13.8oz. w/ 3s lipo., 13.2oz. w/ 2s lipo.
Length:31.25"
Wing Loading:4.9oz/sq. ft. on 3s, 4.7oz/sq.ft on 2s
Servos:3 micro servos
Transmitter:Hitec Optic 6
Receiver:Berg 7p
Battery:3s and 2s Impulse 900mah lipo packs
Motor:Xtra brushless motor
Prop used:APC 10 x 3.8SF
ESC:Xtra brushless ESC
Manufacturer:Phase 3
Available From:Hobby People

Phase 3 has come out with a new molded foam fuse airplane that incorporates some very ingenious building ideas and uses carbon fiber throughout to produce the all new Fidget 3D EP biplane. Distributed by Global Hobby, the Fidget EP 3D comes with terrific looking pre-decorated colors and decals that make this the perfect 3D park flyer. After seeing some recent articles and videos about this plane I just had to have my chance at flying one of these for myself. So lets take a look and see what all the hype is about with the Fidget 3D EP biplane.

Kit Contents

The Fidget came packed extremely well from Global Hobby with no damage to any of the contents. After opening the box I noticed how every part was nicely protected in it's own plastic bag and how low the piece count was. The manual clearly goes over what should be in your kit and provides an area in the manual to check mark things off as you find them in the box. Impressions so far, EXCELLENT.

Kit Includes:

  • Pre-decorated wings and decal sheet for the fuselage
  • Factory-Cut and Printed Foam Parts
  • Full-Shape Fuselage with Foam and Light-Plywood Stiffeners
  • Extensive hardware package
  • Lots, and Lots, and Lots of carbon fiber (more on this later)
  • Pre-bent landing gear

Kit Requires:

  • Brushless outrunner motor
  • Brushless speed controller
  • 3 micro servos
  • 2 or 3 cell lipo battery in the 900mah to 1300mah range

Assembly

I found assembling the Fidget to be a very straight forward build. The instructions and photos in the manual are very easy to follow and walk you through each step in the assembly process. The manual could easily be followed by an inexperienced builder without any problems. Most of the time is spent with the flat carbon fiber stock that is used on the wings and control surfaces. I have never seen nor used more carbon on a plane of this size! While this is a major time consumer in the build, it lends itself to a very warp free and extremely strong airplane without much weight penalty. So lets take a look at how the Fidget is built and how well it flies.

Fuselage

The fuselage is a molded foam fuse with light plywood stiffeners from the battery area in front to the tail of the airplane. The fuselage looks great and is a nice change from the typical flat fuse foamies out there today.

The first thing to install is the motor and radial mount to the fuselage. The Xtra brushless motor comes with a radial mount and hardware for mounting the motor. This was the only minor problem area I had throughout the whole build of the Fidget. The manual shows the Xtra motor being mounted with a three hole radial mount but the Xtra motor comes with a four hole radial mount. Only two of the four holes lined up with the pre-drilled holes on the firewall. I just simply drilled two new holes to mount the motor.

Extensive use of carbon fiber was used on both the rudder and elevator making them extremely strong yet light weight.

Wing

The wings really went together extremely easily.

NOTE: To ensure you build wings that are straight you must build on a flat surface and use some weights on the wings while the carbon fiber strips dry. This will produce super strong and straight wings.

Radio Installation

The recommended micro servos and Xtra brushless esc fit very nicely in there designated slots and area. The servo bays required no trimming. The esc fits in the front of the plane where the battery compartment is located. I chose the new Berg 7p to handle the receiver choirs. This is a terrific programmable receiver that comes with a lot of features packed into a small size that can be used in anything from park flyers to quarter scale airplanes.

Completion

The landing gear comes pre-bent and is simply epoxied into its landing gear block area. There are foam pieces that make up the landing gear wheel pants and fairings. One interesting note here is that the wheels are held on the landing gear by plywood collars that are epoxied in place. GREAT IDEA!!!

I was able to complete the Fidget in only a couple of evenings work. The plane really looks sharp when finished and has excellent contrast between the top and bottom of the wings. The finished weights were 13.8oz. with the 3 cell lipo pack and 13.2oz. with the 2 cell lipo battery pack. Both number well inside the manufactures range of 11.5oz.-14.5oz. RTF.

Flying

The Fidget is a terrific flying biplane. With its extremely light wing loading it can float around a couple inches off the ground all day long. It is rock solid on low rates and gives you a sense of confidence flying it low and slow. I was really impressed with how well the plane flew with some wind outside. I had no problems flying the Fidget in winds of 5-10mph. Actually it is really fun flying the Fidget with some wind because the plane will maintain a harrier/hover while flying backwards. COOL!!

Taking Off and Landing

Taking off and landing the Fidget is unbelievably easy. The takeoff run is only a couple of feet in a light breeze and harrier style landings are very common with the Fidget. The Fidget has no problems taking off of grass that is mowed low or it can be easily hand launched as well. The only thing you might need to be aware of is the plywood tail skid after a few harrier style landings will eventually break off. Mine did after about the 7th or 8th harrier landing on a local baseball field. All I did to repair it was place some epoxy on the plywood and remounted it to the tail of the plane. It would be nice to have a little tail wheel instead of the plywood skid.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Dial in the high rates and the Fidget really comes to life. The Fidget really excels at 3D and slow flight maneuvers. The Fidget still maintains all of its great habits even with the rates up high. Low and slow harriers and hovering are all easily done with the Fidget. The Fidget locks into a hover very easily when entered from an elevator or harrier type maneuver. Inverted flight required just a slight push of down elevator to maintain level flight. Below I have rated the Fidget on some of the maneuvers I was able to perform with it. Overall I was very pleased with the Fidget's speed and maneuvering envelope.

ManeuverGrade Notes
Harrier A The fidget has slight wing rock upright, no wing rock inverted.
HoveringA VERY NICE! Locks in very solid.
SpinsB+ Inverted and upright spins are nice but I could not get to completely flatten out.
High Alpha Knife Edge A Terrific!! With about 10% mix added it flew with just rudder.
Stall Turns A+The rudder is so powerful on high rates you could turn on a dime.
Tail-slide A Straight back down on its tail, very impressive.
Wall B+ I need more elevator throw to complete with authority.
Blenders B+Very capable, just could not get mine to completely flatten out.
Inverted Flight A- Required some down elevator to maintain level flight. Need to move the cg back slightly.
Elevator A+ With power off it falls almost straight down with no indications of falling out.
Parachute A The Fidget pops right up with no signs of tip stalling.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Is This For a Beginner?

No, for the novice this plane is NOT what you would be looking for. However, it would make a great third airplane as it can be setup very easily for an intermediate pilot. It is designed, not as a self-correcting trainer, but rather as a performer to satisfy even the most advanced pilot.

Conclusion

The Fidget is a terrific looking and flying airplane from Phase 3 which offers a very capable 3D airplane in a reasonable price range. The Fidget is built to be strong but light and is a great choice for anyone looking to get into biplane aerobatics/3D flying. I have had a blast flying the Fidget and being able to sharping my flying skills with a plane that makes you want to fly lower and slower every time you are out. The recommended setup works terrific and will produce a plane that will have others at the field wanting one of there own.

Plusses:

  • Great looking full fuse foam airplane. Built very strong and light.
  • Very informative manual with plenty of great diagrams.
  • Very light wing loading makes the plane easy to slow down.

Minuses:

  • While the carbon fiber strips make the plane strong, installation is very time consuming.
  • The tail skid could stand to be a little stronger. I'd prefer a tail wheel.
Last edited by AMCross; Oct 14, 2006 at 08:49 PM..
Thread Tools
Nov 01, 2006, 12:38 PM
Dave North
timocharis's Avatar
Nice review. Good job! Great landing in grass with no noseover.

Looks like there was a fair amount of wing rock when slowed down in moderate high alpha. Was there some weird wind? Or is that more or less normal?


Dave
Nov 01, 2006, 02:22 PM
Test your skills....fly IMAC!!
sun.flyer's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by timocharis
Nice review. Good job! Great landing in grass with no noseover.

Looks like there was a fair amount of wing rock when slowed down in moderate high alpha. Was there some weird wind? Or is that more or less normal?


Dave

Dave,

Thanks, the Fidget actually lands pretty good in short grass. As to the wing rock it was a combo of factors in the video. Some of the rock was pilot induced (not enough aileron correction) and some was wind induced. If you notice in the video we have a tree line to the north and to the south of our flying field. When the wind comes out of the east or west we have no issues. However; when the wind comes out of the north or south across the trees like in the video it can get pretty swirly down on the field. The Fidget will fly high alpha quite well with minimal rock if any.

Tim
Nov 01, 2006, 07:31 PM
Forgot how to fly
Mike Parsons's Avatar
Great Job as usual Tim!
Nov 01, 2006, 07:33 PM
Test your skills....fly IMAC!!
sun.flyer's Avatar
Thread OP
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Parsons
Great Job as usual Tim!
Thanks Mike.

Tim
Nov 02, 2006, 01:16 AM
Dave North
timocharis's Avatar
Thanks for the explanation, Tim. Looks like a fun plane!

Dave
Nov 08, 2006, 01:46 PM
ab amicis auxilio parvulo
Aerospacer's Avatar

Fidget Build Comments


I just started a Fidget to replace my E-flite Tensor which didn't seem to fly as well as I liked and was structurally too "tender" as well. Looked like the gear from the Tensor would be a good transplant for the Fidget.

So far the build is going a little slow. If you do the math, you find that you are gluing 17.5 feet of CF strip to the edges of the wings and control surfaces. The structural concept is great but the effort to do a good job seems a little extrordinary for a little 3D foamy.

I did like the supplied radial mount but it didn't fit my Hyperion motor either. But I copied it onto a piece of ply and got one made to match the firewall better than the mount that came with the motor.

They advise you that the cowling is large on the chin but being only 12 mil plastic it seemed too flexible to just hang under there so I finished out the chin under the firewall with some Depron foam.

Next, the hatch on the bottom was not at all durable so I cut one from balsa since the hatch will be opened each flight operation. Also, the canopy didn't really conform to the fuselage that well with the provided wood "guides" so I added bits of Depron in a few more places to help the fitup.

The fuselage is nicely molded but its outer skin will wrinkle with the slightest squeeze. There were already some wrinkles in it out of the box and I've added more especially around the lower hatch in the front. They have a nice ply frame on the hatch hole but the curve from the side to the bottom in that area is still quite tender. I added a couple of gussets of Depron to help keep the form of that curve a little better.

The vertical tail is another point of questionable design. The fin is about 6 mm thick but the rudder is just 3 mm. I took a hinging suggestion from another forum/review on the Fidget and expanded on that. A bevel and tape hinge on such a large thickness mismatch isn't very aerodynamic, so I went with slotting for "floppy disk" hinge strips and re-made the rudder in 6 mm Depron. That let me do away with 6 inches of CF striping on the rudder.

This is only my third foamy that uses tape hinges, I was surprised they didn't include a roll of tape in the kit.

I'll post again when I finish and get some flight testing done.
Nov 09, 2006, 07:05 PM
Registered User
Aerospacer

I've just started my own build tonight. I notice that you also have 'cracks' down the front lower part of the fuse near where the cowl will fit. It presses in pretty easily where they are and I may reinforce mine with some clear tape.

I drilled my plywood motor mount and attached a 2408-21T to it with the supplied firewall mount. This motor has been taken from an E-Starter and I could hover that even with a 3S 1500 pack so there should be enough power to do the same with this one. I plan to try a 3S 1320 pack as I've read that even this would be ok (Mike Parsons said so, so it must be true !) if mounted under the canopy.

The E-Starter seemed quite big as I was taking it apart for the motor, etc. This fuse is smaller than the E-Flite Ultimate FX 3D.

Those wheels look pretty small for grass. Mike, did you use the stock wheels ?
Nov 10, 2006, 07:38 PM
Registered User
I've bought a 3S 20C 700 pack which is about the same weight as a TP730 so the AUW should be somewhat less.

I've also ordered some 51mm GWS light hub wheels to make it a bit easier for use off grass.

The manual states that the decals should be applied from the tail end and then mentions that the excess should be cut off. Surely it would be better to start at the front !

The manual also says that the decals should be cut out but I plan to just apply mine as there isn't much to cut off anyway.

The manual asks for a 45 degree sanding on one side of the (huge) rudder but I did 45 degrees on both sides and it's now taped bang on down the centre of the stab and moves with ease. I'm unsure about how I will do the other stab and ailerons.

I've cut off most of the BP21 shaft with the prop adaptor / spinner being in the right place in line with the cowl.
Nov 11, 2006, 09:20 PM
ab amicis auxilio parvulo
Aerospacer's Avatar

Fidget Build Comments


I am going to be using a 3s 1050 Apogee battery so I do anticipate it will make the plane too nose heavy if it goes on the floor piece right behind the firewall. But I noticed a slot in the former that the landing gear mounts into that is big enough to slide my pack back a ways. I put some foam and balsa rails along each side of this slot to help support the battery even if it has to hang half way back through the slot.

That mother of a fuselage decal needs to start at the tail to ever get it located properly. I left my rudder off since it isn't going to be tape hinged and started at the back first cutting off the piece for the rudder. To get the decal to stick around any tight bends I used my covering iron set for about 125 degrees. Trimmed away the clear edges up to gray border to save some weight and make the decal easier to lay down.

Also, at about 150 degrees, you can draw many of those surface wrinkles out of the fuselage with the iron but that is getting close to the plastic skin & foam core melting temperature so you have to be careful.

I didn't understand the point of making the canopy magnetically latch while the battery compartment was taped so I revised the system to put the magnetic latches where they would be used most, where the battery is!
Nov 11, 2006, 09:40 PM
Test your skills....fly IMAC!!
sun.flyer's Avatar
Thread OP
Aerospacer,

Your Fidget is looking great!! I also trimmed my decal sheet as you did as well. Hinging as you did or with CA hinges is the only way to go on the tail group.

Tim
Nov 16, 2006, 11:36 AM
ab amicis auxilio parvulo
Aerospacer's Avatar

Maiden flights accomplished


Got my Fidget completed to have its maiden flights in at our HHH Metrodome indoor flying venue yesterday. What a great flying plane it turns out to be for a football sized field. From takeoff never even had to adjust any trim. The Fidget floats so well and tracks so true, its hard to believe it has just flat foam wings. It doesn't require over 1/2 throttle with my setup. Takeoffs and landings are so easy and smooth. It is a very good looking and flying plane. For me, it is much superior to my old Tensor 4D in virtually all its flying characteristics so far.

Here is the setup I have for my Fidget:
Motor- Hyperion 2209-32 (910KV)
Prop- APC 10x3.8 SF
Battery- Apogee 1050 mah 3S Li-Poly
ESC- Castle Creations TB-18
Rx- CC/Berg 4
Servos- 3 Hitec HS-55
All up weight- 14.6 oz.
Nov 16, 2006, 12:39 PM
Test your skills....fly IMAC!!
sun.flyer's Avatar
Thread OP
Aerospacer,

Congrats on the maiden!! I have to agree with you that with the Fidget's light wingloading she is a real floater. It is actually one of my best windy day fliers now, can land it almost straight down with a slight headwind. Enjoy!!

Tim
Nov 17, 2006, 11:19 PM
After a couple of landings ai noticed the tail skid wearing down guickly so I added a peice of CF left over from the build to the end of flattened out skid. It has a dozen or so landings on it and it it doing great. Here is a pic of the mod.

Darrin
Nov 18, 2006, 11:31 AM
ab amicis auxilio parvulo
Aerospacer's Avatar

Fidget Tail Skid


Darrin,

In his original review, Tim noted that he had the tail skid break right off after a few harrier type landings. So I wanted to strengthen the plywood with some covering of 3/4 oz fiberglass cloth. But I suspected just what you found, that the skid would still wear down on any hard surface operation.

I then went to plan B which is what I have on many of my park flyer electrics with tail skids. I edged the plywood with the light guage pushrod wire and lashed it to the ply with some CA'ed thread. The wire extends into the fuselage along the front of the plywood skid as well. Of all the alternatives, the only downside to the wire edging is that it does add the most weight. The graphite edge you added plus some fiberglass cloth would be a more elegant solution without so much weight.

The attached photo shows how my tail skid is re-enforced. The photo also shows a little ruggedizing of the rudder control horn. It has a small 1/64" ply base added. I did the same on the aileron horns. The elevator already has something to accomplish this as it was designed to fit into the tie strip between elevator halves.


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