MSCompositUSA Blade Dancer Aerobatic EPP Review

The Blade Dancer by MSCompositUSA is a tremendous flier with a forgiving design. Join Dr. Dave as he becomes a student of 3D as taught by the Blade Dancer.

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:930mm
Wing Area:330 sq. in.
Weight:300-340 g / 10.6 Ė 12.0 oz
Length:90mm
Wing Loading:6.55 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Cirrus
Transmitter:Hitec Optic 6
Receiver:Cirrus 6 channel Mini
Battery:Flightpower Evo 800 mAh 20C
Motor:Axi 2208/34 Brushless
ESC:Jeti Advance 12 Plus
Available From:MSCompositUSA
MSRP: $54.91

By now you have read several reviews of the great flying MSCompositUSA products. The Pitts S2 Bulldog, the Swift, and the Unique all have similar build techniques and all feature colorful EPP foam construction. The Blade Dancer also employs that same airbrush painted EPP foam construction and flies great.

Kit Contents

The blade Dancer is a plane-in-a-bag: a great idea from the start. It is a very lightweight, but extremely durable airframe. Mine arrived well packaged with no shipping damage.

As soon as you open the bag you can see that you have a sizable airplane that does not spare the EPP foam for anything. The wing and fuselage are thick to say the least. The wing measures 3cm thick, and the fuselage is 2.5cm.

I also received the optional power package with an Axi motor and mount, Jeti Advance ESC and Flight Power EVO 20C 800 mAh 11.1 volt battery and prop.

Kit Includes:

  • Airbrushed wing, fuselage and tail
  • Fuselage and wing reinforcement string
  • Servo mounts and motor firewall
  • Landing gear and wheels
  • Control horns and linkages

Kit Requires:

  • Micro Receiver
  • Motor
  • ESC
  • Four 9 gram servos
  • Two 12 inch servo extension
  • Two 6 inch servo extensions
  • Foam safe CA and Accelerator

Suggested Power Package:

  • Jeti Advance 12 Plus ESC
  • Axi 2208/34 Brushless motor
  • Axi Radial Mount Set
  • APC 9x6 prop
  • FlightPower EVO 20c 800 mAh 11.1 volt LiPo

There are lots of micro parts and molded plastic to complete the kit. I really think the folks at MSCompositUSA are on the ball by including all the micro linkage components.

Assembly

The instructions for the blade are graphics with little or no written text. If you have never built a plane, you might want to get some help.

Fuselage

Begin by installing the landing gear mount, tail skid and servo mounts in the fuselage. You will have to measure the best location based on the linkages provided for the tail servo locations. Temporarily slip the tail section into the fuselage to make your measurements. For the EPP portions you can use non-foam safe CA.

Glue or use hot glue to secure the servos. Finish the fuselage by installing the firewall. I chose to first attach the motor to the firewall before I installed the combo.

Wing

The wing easily joins with CA. Before you secure the two sections make a line on each wings underside for the tension string. Use a triangle to make sure the line is straight. Also you will need to trim a small amount if aileron adjacent to the fuselage.

Join the wings, but note that the wings are not flat so you must lift the wing tips slightly to keep them level. Use the small pieces you removed from the ailerons as wedges to lift the wing tips slightly. After they are joined, using a straight edge you will need to cut a slit in the wing down the line you previously marked about 2mm deep.

After you have the cut completed, you will feed the string into the cut and then tighten the string from both ends. When the string is in place, use thin CA and press the tip into the cut while feeding glue onto the string. Once this set up, the string will be hard as wire. Do exactly the same process on both sides of the fuselage.

Note the wings have their aileron hinges molded with the EPP foam. A camber is provided for extreme aileron movements of 45 degrees.

You will install the wing into the fuselage by bending the lower wing saddle out of the way, and you will quickly realize the flexibility of the fuselage.

Tail

Please note the tail for the Blade Dancer is NOT EPP foam and therefore requires foam safe glue and accelerator. Start by cutting a camber in both the horizontal stabilizer and the elevator. I used DuBroís hinge tape to attach the control surfaces. Do the same for the vertical stabilizer and rudder.

Install the hinge tape by first attaching it to the flat uncambered side, and then work the tape into the cambered side making sure the control surfaces do not bind. Next, install the control horns. Finally, secure the vertical and horizontal stabilizers with foam safe CA and accelerator.

Wing Servos

Both aileron servos have to be installed and will require you to cut out the servo cavity.

Radio Installation

There is a slight difference in installing a radio when it is all on the outside of the plane fuselage. I secured everything with hook and loop but also used zip ties and rubber bands when necessary. The instructions clearly provide you with the location of the ESC. I made sure the wires and connector were secured and out of the way.

The receiver is best installed just above the wing.

The battery is variable with the CG. I started with the CG 95mm behind the wing root, but after several flights I had pushed mine back to nearly 115mm.

You will need to install two 12 inch servo extensions for the rudder and elevator servos and two 6 inch extensions for each of the wing servos.

Completion

Ailerons

  • 30 degrees up and down for low rate
  • 45 degrees up and down for high rate

Elevator

  • 40 degrees up and down for both low and high

Rudder

  • Max the rudder out to cover the entire span of the elevator cutout.

Because I was shipped the Evo 20c 800 mAh battery from Flightpower I wanted to be sure I charged it with their V balancer. I coupled it with my Triton charger and found the setup and charging to be very easy. After making the connection and setting the amperage in the Triton, I linked the V Balancer and started the charge. The V Balancer gives you the charge status of the battery and the cells using very simple LEDs

Flying

It really did not take long for me to start flying 3D. One thing I found was that I constantly tweaked the settings on my Blade Dancer with my transmitter. I would come back from flying (some mornings at less than 5 degrees) and make adjustments. I found that making sure the ailerons and elevator are exact always led to better flights, and I was constantly changing the expo values to get better control.

I liked the Blade Dancer from the minute I launched it the first time. Slow flight is controllable and stalls are so subtle that I really began to operate without fear. In fact, I became so comfortable with it, that my old standard of the overhand launch is now just an underhand release. With the exception of a couple total thumb/brain disconnects I feel like I get better every time I fly and look forward to flying 3D!

Basics

I think the Blade Dancer is one of the best platforms for learning 3D. Aside from being durable, the plane is controllable and slow enough I could react, it is tolerant of trimming, and gentle. The big, thick wings produce great lift, and the control surfaces provide plenty of authority. The landing gear is without a doubt the most durable gear I have ever flown. You can bounce the plane, stuff it, slide it and bury it and all with no bending of the gear.

Taking Off and Landing

There is no need to put the throttle to the firewall. Just about half throttle and let go. No toss necessary.

Landings are just as easy, but the Blade Dancer will fall out of the sky at some point. You can get so slow there is just not enough forward momentum to fly. This is also true in a hover or just slow flight, and the Blade Dancer will start to slide downward. Apply some throttle though and back up you go. I typically keep some power on and set it on the ground with usually no ground roll. I never experienced a tip stall, only a straight down nose drop that was almost always caught by the durable landing gear.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

There is nothing this bird canít do. I learned to do harriers, blenders, elevators, and I am learning to do torque rolls, knife edge and practicing a bunch of high alpha axial rolls. Loops, rolls, snaps, and inverted are just routine maneuvers for the Blade Dancer. It is the perfect plane for learning and trying new flying styles like 3D, but as a sport flyer you will enjoy all the wonderful flight characteristics.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Is This For a Beginner?

It is a good beginner 3D plane, but not a trainer. It is a great flyer that is forgiving, but the pilot should have earned his wings. The Blade Dancer can take a lot of abuse and glue right back in a few minutes.

Conclusion

Whatever you do, make sure your next purchase is a Blade Dancer or something elsefrom MSCompositUSA. These planes are all about having fun and teaching old and new pilots something they only thought others could do. The Blade Dancer goes from a plane in a bag to a grab and go flyer. So come on, try 3D and let the Blade Dancer be your teacher!

Pluses:

  • Easy to build
  • Durable
  • Well engineered
  • Landing gear
  • Forgiving in flight
  • Price
  • Great sport and 3D flyer

Minuses:

  • White under wing surfaces are hard to see on cloudy day
  • An 800 mAh battery does not give you enough flight time - I suggest a 1300 mAh
Last edited by Angela H; Apr 21, 2008 at 07:17 PM..
Thread Tools
Apr 16, 2008, 10:03 AM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Nice review Dave! I have the gear for one of these on a foamy that is wearing out. I will keep this plane in mind as a replacement. Probably spray paint some red, white & blue chevrons on the bottom wing for improved visibility on a cloudy day when I get one. Mike Heer
Apr 16, 2008, 10:52 AM
Father, Skydiver, Photographer
Bill K.'s Avatar
Dave,

Thanks for posting the additional item costs to consider. That is helpful when making a decision on a plane and adding in the rest of the 'bits' to make it go.

Nice review BTW!

BK
Apr 16, 2008, 12:01 PM
nooobama
i have one and like it. the negative for me is the depron tail pieces. I ended up ca'ing a string all around the tail as a support wire.
Apr 16, 2008, 12:47 PM
Dr. Dave
Thread OP
I finally had to install some carbon strips across the elevator because I had beat it up so bad. I do agree the Depron tail is less durable than the EPP. Here are some other points that I felt I learned from flying the Blade:

*My thumbs do not want to move at right angles
*Thrust and Throw is a good thing
*I learned and I am not dedicated to the use of the rudder
*Slow flight does not mean a stall
*Use expo, it is your friend
*I tried maneuvers using both high and low rates and for some found low rates were plenty
*Donít practice bad habits (see #1)
*My thumbs are learning to be independent
*Practice-Practice-Practice (even if it is 5 degrees)
*Precise setup is your friend
*Wrecking is frustrating, but your learn from it
*I do not have to be intimidated by 3D
*Concentration is your friend
*Try different setups
*Follow directions
*Keeping a 3D plane close is not easy
*Altitude is still my friend
*ESCís need to be set for a soft cut-off
*Programming mixes are your friend
*Be calm
*You have good days and bad days
*My simulator is my friend
*My Blade Dancer is my friend

Add other things as you like. I am much less averse to 3D and really look forward to more practice especially on different planes to see how eack behaves.
Apr 16, 2008, 03:43 PM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
Very nice job Dave, the AXI 2208/34 looks like the perfect motor for this plane. The Blade Dancer looks like a GREAT 3D trainer!

Ronnie
Apr 16, 2008, 05:19 PM
Sailplane Mafia
gquiring's Avatar
I built a Blade Dancer late last summer. It's ok but I don't like the depron rudder and elevator. I highly recommend using some bamboo skewers to support the motor mount, otherwise it will fall off on a hard landing. I included some photos of my BullDog mount which is the same as the Blade Dancer. I also replaced the string with carbon strips. A great glue to use is Sumo glue. It dries white and sticks very well to EPP.
Apr 16, 2008, 08:00 PM
Dr. Dave
Thread OP
Cool Idea gquiring
Apr 17, 2008, 01:55 AM
Suspended Account
I built one months ago, she's nice indeed, does require a 1300mAh LiPo though for about 15-min of flying time. I went with the unpainted version and decorated it myself. Have a look:

Blade Dancer, maiden flight (3 min 29 sec)


Cheers,

Sander.
Apr 17, 2008, 01:59 AM
Suspended Account
And some pictures and info about the setup I used:

http://www.modelbouwforum.nl/forums/720159-post1.html

I apologize about the Dutch language, but I'm not a native English speaker, the pictures however don't need any explanation I'm sure.

Cheers,

Sander.
Apr 17, 2008, 06:09 AM
Dr. Dave
Thread OP
ssassen, thanks for posting your video. Great flying! Just shows the international following MSComposit enjoys.
Apr 17, 2008, 06:47 AM
RIP Azarr - "Old age is not for sissies"
Azarr's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssassen
And some pictures and info about the setup I used:

http://www.modelbouwforum.nl/forums/720159-post1.html

I apologize about the Dutch language, but I'm not a native English speaker, the pictures however don't need any explanation I'm sure.

Cheers,

Sander.
Sander, I like your color scheme, simple but effective.

Azarr
www.ecubedrc.com
Apr 17, 2008, 07:37 AM
Sailplane Mafia
gquiring's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azarr
Sander, I like your color scheme, simple but effective.

Azarr
www.ecubedrc.com
I do to, how do you get a kit that is not painted?
Apr 17, 2008, 11:30 AM
Registered User
How much is MS Composit paying you for this review?? Unrealistically glowing reviews like this that ignore any negatives are just unscrupulous.

1) "Finally a landing gear that works!"???? You make it sound as though MS Composit has solved this great landing gear problem. In truth MS Composit has what is widely recognized as the cheapest crappiest landing gear. The landing gear catches in any normal grass, so you can't take off or land in any thing except a golf-course-green grass. The retainer nuts are worse than plastic nuts and will typically pop off after the 5th landing or so (YMMV) and will cause the wheel to fly off. The wheels don't work in most dirt baseball infields either. Lame, lame, lame.

1.1) "Most durable landing gear"? Are you serious??? It's just plain old piano wire that is commonly used in for landing gear in many many other mfg's kits. MS Composit uses just about the cheapest retaining nuts possible (star nuts).

2) The rudder and vertical stabilizer are way too small for real 3-D. Read most other unbiased reviews and you'll find that this is the biggest complaint.

3) How is a cheap plastic bag a "a great idea from the start"???? Several people (me included) have reported bent or misshappen parts as a result of the bag approach and lack of any protection.

4) The engine mount method is very poor. Unless you do some reinforcing (as many others have noted), the motor mount flexes with the softness of the EPP behind it. Expect the motor + motor mount to abandon ship after ungraceful landings.

5) The control horns have one hole.

6) The ailerons are very stiff for weaker servos and response will be very sluggish.

7) The instructions are nearly incomprehensible.

8) Expect no support from MS Composit. All you get is: "Thank you for your comments, we are looking into it" If you're lucky, you will get a nasty gram from him telling you how great the plane is and how you must be doing something wrong.

9) A more accurate description of this plane is that the engine mount needs work, rudder is too small, and the accessories are throwaway quality. The positives are that it is inexpensive, and it is EPP.

10) EPP as great as it is, excels as low speeds. It's not a particularly efficient airframe, so don't expect precision manuevers or high speed passes.

11) The planes are no where close to "nearly indestructible" as they advertise on the website. The laws of physics are immutable and impacts will break things.

Having said all this, I really like the MS Composit planes as I've bought 2 of them and am considering a 3rd. However, I just cringe at the unrealistic reviews that people (working for MS Composit) are posting on these planes. Realistically, the kits really need about another $25 to $30 worth of accessories and some ingenuity to make them into solid flying citizens.
Apr 17, 2008, 07:40 PM
Registered Foam Abuser
jiggiba's Avatar
I really do wish there were independent reviews here on RCG. The person doing the review has to put a positive spin on everything otherwise they won't ever get another review. That being said the Blade isn't a bad plane but it's not perfect either.

My impressions of the above post.

1. Landing gear is just plain old wire, no problems with the main gear on mine. The problem I have is I put a little larger wheels on there to fly off of grass so now the short little tail skid is useless as the plane rests on the rudder.
2. While the rudder and elevator are on the small size and deflection angles are limited I do find them very effective. Enough to do knife edge loops and great elevators.
3. The cheap plastic bag dosen't protect the plane very well at all during shipping. I had to straighten the ailerons as they were severly distorted.
4. The motor mount has held up fine on my model.
5. Controll horns only have one hole but seem fine to me.
6. The controll surfaces are a little stiff but hasen't been a problem.
7. The instructions are a little brief, but with a low parts count anyone who has built a plane or two won't have any problems.
8. I've never needed to contact MS Composit.
9. No problems with the rudder, Hardware seems fine for this weight plane.
10. This isn't designed to be a pylon racer, airframe is great for what it was designed for.
11. No plane is indestructiable, It flys great and I've haven't had any mishaps at this point.
On mine I did skip the string method and used flat carbon instead. I also used a light Micro Dans motor so I had to relocate the servo's further foward than reccomended.
It's not one of my favorite planes but it is a decent plane that should be able to take a little abuse.


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