Hobby Lobby Thunderbird EDF ARF Jet Review - RC Groups

Hobby Lobby Thunderbird EDF ARF Jet Review

Mike Llewellyn takes on the new Hobby Lobby Thunderbird EDF ARF Jet!

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:29
Wing Area:~350 sq
AUW weight:Advertised 16-24oz Actual - 19.3oz
Length:28
Wing loading:8 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:2 Hitec HS55's
Transmitter:Futaba 6EX 2.4GHz
Receiver:Futaba R606FS
Battery:PolyQuest 1800mA 3s LiPoly
Motor:Included SFM Outrunner EDF 3500Kv Brushless
Fan:66mm Included 3 blade
ESC:Jeti 18 ECO ESC
Available From:Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby just keeps delivering fantastic new planes! New to this lineup is the Thunderbird EDF ARF. The model is made from molded white foam but it comes factory covered and ready to assemble. Its a complete package, including both the motor and the fan, and is a very quick build!

Kit Contents

Kit includes:

  • Foam center section, wings and vertical stabilizers
  • Lightweight plastic canopy
  • Generous hardware package
  • 3 blade fan unit with spinner
  • Brushless 3500Kv Outrunner motor (comes pre-installed in fan!)
  • Decals and markings
  • Picture assembly guide and text instructions

Kit requires:

  • 3s LiPoly battery
  • 2 servos 7-10g type
  • Receiver
  • 3 channel minimum transmitter with elevon mixing

Included for this review:

  • 1 Jeti 18 AMP ECO Brushless ESC
  • 1 PolyQuest 1800mAh 3s LiPoly Battery

Add your choice of a 18+amp ESC and 3s pack and radio components, and the Thunderbird ARF is ready to fly in just a few hours.

Assembly

Assembly was fast - this amazing plane was done in a snap.

The builder needs to:

  • Glue the wings to the fuse center
  • Install the wing servos (Elevon setup)
  • Attach the pre-covered foam vertical stabilizers
  • Attach the EDF power system to the fuse
  • Install radio system
  • Apply decals

Wing

Assembly of the wing really amounts to gluing the "tip" section to the large center section. The tips have alignment tabs that match accepting cutouts in the center section.

Servos dropped right in the pre-molded area in each wing - a fast and simple setup. I wrapped the servo with fiber stranded tape, roughened the tape surface and added a drop of epoxy to hold them securely.

The wing has molded wire guides in the wing halves that are large enough to accommodate the wire and connectors. A 6" servo extension is necessary.

Fuselage

I used a sharpened brass tube to make round holes into the center section of the fuselage where the aileron wires enter the radio area. There is a factory installed plywood battery tray and two hardwood dowels in the nose for rigidity.

Motor and Fan

Installation of the fan is easy since the entire fan unit comes ready to run; the motor, stator and spinner are completely pre assembled. The EDF fan unit has two molded parts that must be added to the nacelle to smooth the intake air and compress the airflow out of the fan.

Important note! The fan unit screws to the fuse using included screws via factory installed hardwood blocks. My pre-drilled holes were off just enough so that the screws missed the block. I re-drilled screw holes further out on the molded tabs to assure the screws were in solid wood.

Make sure your fan blades do not touch the fan housing. This robs power and can cause significant issues.

Once the motor fan is installed, the wires are routed to the fuselage.

Component installation

The fuselage is fairly small and it can be a bit of a challenge to get all of the equipment in the small space.

Vertical Stabilizers

The installation of two vertical stabilizer surfaces was easy. For ease, alignment areas are marked in the covering, but use care to make sure they are straight and aligned.

Power system

It was very convenient to have the guesswork taken out of choosing components with the inclusion of the fan and motor.

Motor

The motor is a hot wind high 3500Kv outrunner made specifically for this fan. It is powerful and gave the plane enough power for very spirited flight. The motor produced the following results:

Motor statistics
Amps Watts Voltage
16.2 172 10.95v

I consider 125w/lb to be minimum for EDF models for good performance. 143w/lb provides great performance. The efficiency of EDF units is not the same as spinning a propeller, so it is not considered overpowered.

Battery

A single 3s 1800 mAh PolyQuest battery provided the electron storage. I really like the PQ packs - they are great performers and you can tell by the nearly 11v results from the static tests that it is not even close to overworked.

Finish

I installed the stars and bars on mine ( although that decal was not included).

Pre-Flight

CG

The Thunderbird has molded CG marks in the center section of the fuselage for simple and correct CG setup.

Rates and transmitter setup

I used the new Futaba 6EX 2.4GHz transmitter for this plane. Rates were set under the recommended throws included in the instructions. I set the elevons to about 12mm up and down instead of the 15mm recommended. I think this provides smoother flight response .

No high rates were mentioned (or used as of yet), so they were set to the recommended 15mm throws. No exponential rates were mentioned, so I used 25% for ailerons and 45% for pitch controls. I found it to be pitch sensitive - common for elevon planes - so I changed to preferable 65% pitch expo. These settings worked well for me, but as always, rates are a personal preference.

Flying

Takeoff and landing

The Thunderbird was very easy to hand launch. It climbs aggressively with the stock power system on 3s voltage. Hand launching is made easy with the two molded grip areas.

Typical of Delta wing aircraft, the Thunderbird slowed to a crawl, nose high for landings. It slows well and remains responsive to controls.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Rolls were blindingly fast on this plane just as expected. Even on the lower rates it was hard to count how many per second! Loops are easy to perform and it has plenty of power for those as well.

Is this plane for a beginner?

The Thunderbird is not a beginner plane. It would make an excellent first EDF model since the motor and fan are included.

Flight Video

Downloads

Thanks to Ronnie Pope for keeping up with this plane in the video - no small task!

Conclusion

The Hobby Lobby Thunderbird assembles in a couple of hours - a true ARF - simply add the wing tips, stabilizers and servos and fly! It was very easy to assemble and the end result is a fine looking plane. The Thunderbird is a great flight performer. It really moves along quickly. The sound of the EDF fan screaming was amazing. I had a blast with this model.

Hits:

  • Great looks
  • Lightning fast assembly time
  • Flies great on the included brushless motor and fan
  • Full hardware package
  • Value priced

Misses:

  • Pilot and canopy paint was a bit rustic

The Thunderbird ARF EDF is a great flyer. Nothing beats the sound of a screaming EDF! Check it out at your local hobby shop or buy direct at Hobby Lobby.

Last edited by Angela H; Jun 15, 2007 at 01:01 PM..
Thread Tools
Jun 15, 2007, 02:26 PM
AA6JB
Bajora's Avatar
Nice work Mike (and Ronnie) ... I like the way you can hear the airframe "singing" on the higher speed passes!
Latest blog entry: 2017 Reno Air Races
Jun 15, 2007, 02:39 PM
Registered User
imsofaman's Avatar
It is great to see the "Electrajet" has made a comeback! I guess the molds were bought from Eflite? At any rate....I am glad to see it back, thanks Hobby Lobby!!!!!

I hope somebody will brings back the Crazy Sparrow!


Dave
Jun 15, 2007, 03:49 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Nice review, great pictures, love the color scheme Hobby Lobby used!
Jun 15, 2007, 04:18 PM
The sky is my playground.
Dora Nine's Avatar
Looks like a real hot plane! Nice, thanks!
Jun 15, 2007, 04:45 PM
Just call me .... Bill
Solid Hit's Avatar
I've been flying mine for over a month now and still enjoy it. It is my go to plane when I only have a little time to fly. The covering they use on the foam really makes it a tough little plane. This was my first EDF and I've gotten two others since and enjoy them more then my prop planes.

Good review and I second the motion about how much fun it is.
Jun 15, 2007, 08:46 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by imsofaman
It is great to see the "Electrajet" has made a comeback!
I Agree whole heartedly. I was quite dissapointed that you can't get one anymore. I think I will probably get one of these very soon.
Jun 15, 2007, 10:12 PM
Sailplane Mafia
gquiring's Avatar
This looks like the Firebird without a speed controller. I am currently building one. What's the difference besides the covering?
Jun 16, 2007, 01:24 AM
Flying!!! Got to love it
raido56's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by imsofaman
It is great to see the "Electrajet" has made a comeback! I guess the molds were bought from Eflite? At any rate....I am glad to see it back, thanks Hobby Lobby!!!!!

I hope somebody will brings back the Crazy Sparrow!


Dave
It is made by Super Flying Models for E-Flight and still is. They also make the Super Airliner for E-Flight. I don't know why E-Flight stopped carrying the Electrajet I still have one and it's a great flying plane. SFM still sold the Electrajet overseas under a few other names all these years and still does.
raido56/Herb
Last edited by raido56; Jun 16, 2007 at 01:32 AM.
Jun 16, 2007, 01:30 AM
Flying!!! Got to love it
raido56's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by gquiring
This looks like the Firebird without a speed controller. I am currently building one. What's the difference besides the covering?
You got it the only difference is the covering. Here is my Firebird I fly it with a Cool Red 3600 Kv inrunner, 30 amp ESC and 3S 2100 20C pack. In the pic's I had it set up with the 6 blades but went back to the 3 blade set up for longer flight times.
raido56/Herb
Jun 16, 2007, 02:10 AM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Nice review..

A local guy has one.. We put it and the Sport Jet up at the same time and chased each other around..

Good flying lil' airplane..

Jeff
www.CommonSenseRC.com
Jun 16, 2007, 05:13 AM
Registered User
The Firebird is great. I fitted a 4100kV outrunner to mine and it goes like a cruise misslie. I can pull up 90 degress from the deck. Go straight up vertical for 200 feet before running out of steam, during this time I'm rolling at 10 rolls per second

Photos of my setup and comments. The Thunderbird colour scheme is much improved.

I've had the same problem with the bird spinning on landing due to long grass, catching the servo links and ripping out the hinges (best not to land on long grass). I would suggest everyone enforced them with epoxy and tape and maybe add tape hinges as well.
Jun 16, 2007, 09:30 AM
KK4NZS / RP sUAS
Nelapaty's Avatar
I have the firebird (Thunderbird) with a different colour scheme. I have really enjoyed flying this edf.
This is my first edf and its a good one to start off with if your getting into edf ive flown it in pretty windy conditions performance is good.

The only accident had with it kinda nosedived during landing forgot to let it do its own landing...wrecked the front nose section. I used the heat gun to bring it back to its normal shape. I did do a little modification mine, i cut the nose in half so in case if it does fall the nose comes right off and doesnt destroy the whole plane..(thats why the nose is black)
Last edited by Nelapaty; Jun 16, 2007 at 09:39 AM.
Jun 16, 2007, 03:39 PM
Quest for Speed!!!
Mike_eee's Avatar
here are some of my pics of thunderbird..awsome trainer jet...
Jun 16, 2007, 03:42 PM
Annoying people since 1970 :)
Hmm, I must have chosen the wrong motor as I fitted a 3800rpm/v outrunner with the 3 bladed fan and it barely flew! It made lots of noise, glitched like hell and drew 24 amps. I had to make a quick landing before it killed itself. I centred up the fan blades as best as possible but it still rubbed and the plastic mounting lugs on the outside broke up leaving it loose on the plane.
I'm not giving up and will fit a Hi-model fan in it's place with a 3500rpm/v inrunner. If that doesn't work well then it's being converted to a pusher prop plane.

BTW, the Electrajet pusher is still available from RC Castle.


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