NQRC's Aussie Easy Box II Balsa Laser Cut KIT Review

Graham builds and flies a cheap but excellent parkflyer laser cut kit: the Easy Box II.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:100cm / 39”
Weight:230g / 8oz
Servos:2 x 5g to 9g
Transmitter:At least 3 channels
Receiver:Small to medium size (e.g. GWS 6ch)
Battery:2 cell (7.4v) LiPo 700 - 1200 mAh works well
Motor:Brushed 150, 280 OR small brushless
ESC:GWS ICS 400Li (or similar)
Available From:PLDaniels - NQRC Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia

There is an interesting substance that those of us who have crashed an ARTF will have come across. It’s flat and light, but it’s not depron. It can take just about any glue without melting, unlike foam.

This mystery substance? Balsa!

Once upon a time if you walked into a model shop and asked to see a kit you would be shown a small box containing sheets of balsa with parts ready to push out. The modeler would stay up late that night (and maybe a few more too) with said kit and tube of balsa cement until he had a new plane.

This "old way" is slightly different from the:

  1. Put the battery on charge,
  2. Assemble,
  3. Install battery,
  4. Fly!

approach that we now enjoy, but the old way has a lot going for it. Why? Well…

  1. In event of aforementioned ARTF crash you will have learnt how those bits of balsa go together, and happily set about repairing in the knowledge that you know something about how to do it.
  2. Your plane is unique – no-one will have one just like yours.
  3. You can enjoy the pride that goes with the statement “I built it myself”.
  4. Its cheap (less than $50 AUS for a full kit)
  5. It’s actually FUN!

Before you put me in the balsa-hugging-fuddy-duddy box, let me explain that I do enjoy a good ARTF and think that the shake-box-then-fly approach has done a great thing for our hobby. But, I do reckon playing with balsa in the style of our aeromodeling forefathers is something we should all give a go some time. So with items 4 and 5 above in mind I happily ordered an Easy Box II kit with some other goodies from http://nqrc.com and had a neat package delivered soon after.

Kit Contents

What was in the box? Being the sort of modeler with accessories at hand I chose the ‘short kit’ approach. A short kit contains laser cut sheet balsa with all sheet parts required to complete the plane. The only other wood required is 6mm square stock for the wing leading edge, a bamboo skewer for the wing dowels and some liteply for the motor mount.

The full kit has everything you need apart from radio, motor and speed controller.

The full kit contains:

  • All short kit parts (laser cut sheets)
  • Hatch magnets
  • Control cables
  • Cable connectors (EZ)
  • Plans
  • Covering

What!? No motor?! I hear you ask. Yes, no motor. Before you cross your arms in disgust let me ask if you fall into either of these two categories:

  1. You have spare brushed motors lying around which came with another kit which you ended up building with a brushless motor.
  2. You were going to go brushless anyway – weren’t you?

If you are one of the few modelers who do not fall into either of these categories, ask for a motor with your Easy Box II and for a few dollars more you’ll have a suitable motor on its way.

So with balsa cement (or even PVA) in hand and the beautifully laser cut balsa sheets laid out on the bench (mmmm – love that smell), let's get to the build.

Assembly

Generally, the tab-and-slot features of this kit made for a very enjoyable and quick build. The tabs were so accurate that I departed from the norm and pinned the plan to the wall rather than the board. Most kits are built up over the plan; however the parts accurately slotted together so this build was more of a 3-D jigsaw puzzle than conventional method assembly.

Wing

So many time savers! For instance the wing is based around the central spar system which is quite cleverly designed to be strong while constructed from sheet balsa. These spars consist of top and bottom lengths nicely notched to accept wing ribs. At the centre these spars are joined together with dihedral braces, also from sheet. You will note in the photo that these slot together very accurately to produce a strong yet light spar system.

Easy Assembly and a Caution

Note how the 2nd wing doesn't have the top spar yet in place? If you install it now, it will be a jolly hard process to join the 2 wing halves together later.

With ribs in place, the two wing halves are ready-notched to receive 6mm square balsa stock as a leading edge. Thrifty modelers derive such sections by using a balsa stripper and 6mm sheet balsa. Extra-thrifty modelers use a home-made balsa stripper (like mine pictured below).

As shown below, the two wing halves are now joined together at the dihedral dictated by the dihedral brace. You will need a sophisticated dihedral jig (I used a tissue box) to support the airborne wing while the other stays flat. And finally the last top spar is added, locking the spar system together – nifty eh.

After the glue dries, the sandpaper will have to come out to shape the leading and trailing edge. Gladly the end rib doublers are a full section and are handy to show what shape the wing should take.

Fuselage

The fuselage is a simple box type which slots together quite nicely. Again the laser cut tabs show you what goes where, so the plan remains pinned on the wall rather than the board.

A moment needs to be taken to consider motor installation.

Now the 99% of modelers who belong to the ‘I was going to go brushless anyway’ category are going to fashion a motor mounting former from balsa sandwiched with thin ply to take the screws.

Those using the brushed motor option will find it useful to glue some thin ply to take screws on the front of the first former.

Covering with Doculam

NQRC supply a light and cheap alternative to conventional covering film: a transparent film called Doculam. Doculam doesn’t shrink as much as normal coverings do, but is very adhesive and, when treated with care, does a good job.

The NQRC website has instructions and video to aid would be doculam users. Being very careful I achieved a very good finish to wing, fuselage and tail.

Fiddly Bits

A couple of bamboo skewer rubber band dowels, a 5043 prop on a prop adaptor and spinner (all available for a few dollars more from NQRC with your EBII), tape hinges, ply control horns (also from NQRC), 2 x HS55 servos with a lightweight receiver (although there is plenty of room for 9g servos and medium size receiver), a 2 cell LiPo and GWS ICS 400Li ESC – and we’re ready to go flying! A bit of conventional coloured film on the wingtips was also added to aid visibility.

Flying

As a lightweight, this little plane is a fair weather flyer (but most of us are also!) so into a slight breeze the Easy Box II is pushed at full throttle.

All that effort in building a lightweight model is rewarded as the tiny brushed motor hauls the Easy Box skyward with ease. Credit isn’t all mine though: much is due to the clever fellow who first put a lithium battery in a model plane. If NiCads were installed the Easy Box would fly – but not as well as this!

At height a few clicks (or is that beeps?) of down had it handling quite nicely. I soon brought it close for some low level circuits... it was very rewarding to watch this little plane stably performing wide turns above the flight line.

Those long wings make for a long glide – in fact in many ways the Easy Box II is much like a powered glider. Try flying with the throttle closed – you will be surprised how long it will glide.

Being a rudder / elevator aircraft, it is not designed for aerobatics. However its light weight enables the motor to pull loops and barrel rolls quite easily; these maneuvers benefit from some speed. Stall turns have also been achieved; these are aided by any present breeze pushing on the vertical stabilizer to help it yaw around.

The Easy Box II is well mannered and easy to place where you want it. For this reason I quite enjoy long low passes, cutting the throttle to kiss the grass and then head for the sky again.

When it is time to stay on the grass, the approach may be shortened by using the propeller as an airbrake. Just opening the throttle slightly turbulates some air, reducing the effectiveness of the wing and increases the rate of descent.

This aircraft stands out as a well priced kit which gives long flight times off a (relatively) cheap 2 cell LiPo. The standard brushed motor does not require much power to keep this lightweight airborne, so flight times are well extended. One RCGroups member reports that he went to the field with three charged LiPos and only managed to use one before he had to go home!

Unfortunately due to radio problems (warranty replacement expected soon!) I haven’t been able to procure airborne photos or video of my Easy Box. However there is a thread in the Parkflyer forum with photos:

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=512889

And video is provided by PLDaniels’ NQRC website:

http://www.pldaniels.com/flying/videos/flash/playflash.html?video=easybox2

Editor's Note: We will add author's photos & video when available, at a later time. We didn't want to delay the review any longer awaiting the arrival of his new transmitter.

Is this for a beginner?

The easy flying characteristics make the Easy Box II great for a beginner. Despite all the ARTFs out there beginners could have a go at building (and this is a very easy build, but the lack of instructions would make it difficult without help). With freshly covered Easy Box, said beginner can seek assistance and start flying circuits. The light weight and reduced momentum aid the aircraft’s survivability should a nearby planet collide with the Easy Box. And if a breakage occurs, as Joe Beginner has built it himself he’ll have an idea of how to fix it.

Conclusion

I like this plane. It is a cheap and cheerful kit which reminds you that building can be fun. A careful build is rewarded with a nice flying aircraft, and due to the tab-and-slot construction I reckon a not so careful build will still produce a pretty good plane. With stock brushed motor thrust is more than adequate for fun flying and basic aerobatics. At less than 1m span it transports quite easily and lends itself to flying in small areas.

The only negative I would mention is that motor mounting requires some thought and more suitable material than balsa is needed, should screws be used. But we should all have some ply easily at hand for that purpose.

If you’ve only bought AiRcraTF before, give building a kit a go. At this price the Easy Box II is a great option.

Last edited by AMCross; Dec 13, 2006 at 03:50 PM..
Thread Tools
Dec 13, 2006, 07:41 PM
Next time I'll ARTF...
glydr's Avatar
Thread OP
The manufacturer has modified the kit to allow for brushed motor installation as photographed below.

A blank firewall is also provided for mounting small brushless outrunners.
Last edited by glydr; Dec 13, 2006 at 08:09 PM.
Dec 14, 2006, 12:23 AM
Magicsmoke maker
Inflexo's Avatar
Here's a couple more photos of a finished EB2, complete with some landing-gear that was made up using 1/16" wire and a pair of GWS 38mm foam wheels.
Dec 14, 2006, 03:09 PM
Registered User
Are they available in the States? Otherwise shipping would not make it such a good deal.
Dec 14, 2006, 06:09 PM
Magicsmoke maker
Inflexo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tshires
Are they available in the States? Otherwise shipping would not make it such a good deal.
LaserArts / Mountain Models cuts to short kits for NQRC, so yes, they are available in the US. You may just need to write Brian (of Mountain Models) an email saying you saw this article and would like a short kit.

Paul
Dec 14, 2006, 09:28 PM
Registered User
Thanks Paul I will contact them and see what they can do for me.
Dec 14, 2006, 09:37 PM
Magicsmoke maker
Inflexo's Avatar
Tshires,

Not a problem at all - if Brian asks, just tell him that I sent you

Now, I'm waiting for the wind to drop off from the current 20km/hr rate so that I can go fly my EB2

Paul.
Dec 15, 2006, 12:30 PM
Registered User
_James_'s Avatar
Fantastic review!

I love this little parky, went together very quickly. Serves as a fantastic test bed for all my little motor/battery combos (very easy to mount most motors), even strapped my Kodak C530 camera on her (fully loaded with 2 AA's) and took to the skys with still a manageable wind loading, too bad those AA's died on me just after takeoff. I shall have to do this again.

My EB2 lives to this day, yet remains waiting for another motor to test.
Last edited by _James_; Dec 19, 2006 at 01:07 AM.
Dec 16, 2006, 04:48 PM
Registered User
saucerguy's Avatar

Excellent


......................
Last edited by saucerguy; Jan 06, 2007 at 09:33 AM.
Dec 16, 2006, 10:44 PM
Next time I'll ARTF...
glydr's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks for the kudos saucerguy... I scratch/kit build in just about every known material (I even cut up a pool noodle once) but like you enjoy balsa.

Ultracote is a good choice for covering, another good one for this model is litespan (a sort of heat shrink tissue-paper). I've enjoyed experimenting with Doculam mainly because for the price of a cappuccino I have enough for 2-3 planes.

--------------------------------------

Incidently, if anyone does build this kit I have a more detailed (i.e. more wordy) file which you may find useful. Drop a line on thread or PM and I'll happily email a copy.
Last edited by glydr; Dec 16, 2006 at 11:05 PM.
Dec 16, 2006, 10:56 PM
Magicsmoke maker
Inflexo's Avatar
I should point out that I do have all the prerequisites for writing an EB2 build manual - to be honest I put it on the back-burner while I got to work on the Slipso400 and Seether manuals instead *whoops*.

Anyhow, due to Graham's article, I'm now going to have to write up that proper build manual

As for covering, some people might like to try the 30 micron film that I have because it has a more flexible nature and only requires a lower temperature to shrink.

Paul.
Dec 17, 2006, 12:05 AM
Toof-fairy
osmium_192's Avatar
Must be light too..

Is that clear only?

Owen
Dec 17, 2006, 12:11 AM
Next time I'll ARTF...
glydr's Avatar
Thread OP
Yes and yes.
Dec 17, 2006, 12:42 AM
Magicsmoke maker
Inflexo's Avatar
Yes - the 30 micron film is light and clear... but a bit more expensive than the 38 micron film - of course, it's still bucket loads cheaper than traditional films.

I've just been working on a new revision of the EB2 kit, putting in some more airflow paths from the front to the back, also including the braces/sandwich pieces for using landing gear.

Now, a question for you people - I'm using an inverted V arrangement with a bend of 90 degrees in the middle for my landing gear. Do other people prefer a different angle?

Paul.
Dec 17, 2006, 10:12 PM
Registered User
_James_'s Avatar
Paul, inverted V is fine IMO. Although some tri stock on former 2 would help in the not so perfect landings, as well as specifying to use hot glue (as you have) in the manual.


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