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Hacker-Model Pitts Special S1 EPP ARF Review

If you like a quick assembly, tough to damage and fun to fly planes, give this one a quick check-out!

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Introduction

The Pitts Special S1 is promoted as 98% complete and Almost Ready to Fly that can be assembled in an evening! It comes painted, with three color combinations to choose from. The all EPP foam construction makes this Pitt tough to damage. If it breaks, it usually breaks cleanly and can be quickly repaired with CA glue. I wanted to examine the following claim most closely: "It is usable for beginners and also for Super Aerobatic Performance” since usually those two terms together are an oxymoron!


Wingspan:850mm, 33.46"
Weight Empty:200G, 7.05oz.
Weight Full:390G, 13.75oz.
Length:760mm, 29.92"
Propeller:APC 9 x 4.5E
Servos:3 Hitec HS-55
Transmitter:Airtronics RDS8000 2.4GHz
Receiver:Airtronics 8 channel 2.4GHz
Battery:Polyquest 2s & 3s Lipoly 800 mAh
Motor:KMS Quantum 2208/09 Brushless Outrunner from Hobby People
ESC:Shock-20A
Manufacturer Airplane:Hacker Model
Available From:Hacker Model
Price Pitt Special S1:$
Manufacturer ESC:Shock
Available From:Shock
Price Shock-20A:$52.00 USD
Manufacturer Radio:Airtronics
Available From:Hobby People
Price Airtronics RDS8000:$229.99 USD (with 2 8-CH receivers)

Kit Contents

Kit Contents:

  • EPP fuselage
  • EPP vertical stabilizer and rudder
  • EPP horizontal stabilizer and elevator
  • Cabane central wing support
  • 2 outer wing struts
  • Wheel pants x 2
  • Wheels x 2
  • EPP foam canopy
  • Landing gear wire
  • Assorted wire stiffeners
  • Instructional manual

Additional Items needed:

  • Exacto knife with a new # 11 Blade
  • Regular CA glue
  • Kicker for CA glue

Assembly

The Hacker EPP Pitts Special came with a very detailed instruction manual that includes a photo and text for each step. As they say in Oz: "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" (or the step by step instructions), and you will soon be ready to fly.

There are a lot of plastic tubes and wires of different lengths, and it was easiest to sort them at the start for clear identification with the picture and written descriptions on page 4.

Fuselage

The first item is gluing the wooden landing gear mount into the EPP fuselage which can be completed in one step. The second item is mounting a stiffening wire into the side of the fuselage which can be done carefully in four steps and is repeated on the other side of the fuselage. For steps six and seven, I added a little baking soda and used thin CA and kicker. This might have been overkill on my part, but it gave me increased confidence in the strength of my motor mount. I know from experience that CA doesn't penetrate plywood well, and the baking soda will hold with the CA.

After installing the wires, I installed my motor mount and my selected motor. It fit with the mounting holes in the motor and firewall and lined up perfectly. Next, I carved the spaces for the servos for the rudder and elevator and installed tubes for the control rods.

Tail

Assembly continues to the installation of the horizontal stab and the prehinged elevators, and adding the control arms and connecting to the servos installed earlier and then moved on to the vertical stabilizer and rudder.

Wing

At step 31 I started working with the top and bottom wings that came in four wing sections. The bottom wing assembles first, and much of the assembly instructions are about installing control arms to connect the bottom ailerons to one servo and the top and bottom ailerons to each other so that all four ailerons are controlled by one servo. The most interesting part of the assembly of the wings was near the end: There were four rods that felt like hollow aluminum needles with points at both ends. These were the cross braces that mount into the foam wings through holes in the wing struts and center Cabane strut and secure in place with CA. Although there were ailerons painted on both top and bottom wings, the actual ailerons are huge, full length ailerons on both wings.

Installling the Electronics

The radio used was the Airtronics RDS8000 8-channel 2.4GHz system and its matching 8 channel receiver. This plane was a test bed for that radio system after a single test hop in one of my trainer planes. Since I was reviewing the plane and getting in a lot of test flights, it made sense to use it and put both through their paces together.

The servos were installed per the instructions. While I trial fitted the motor and ESC, I took a break from the plane assembly to solder the proper electrical connectors to the ESC for the motor and the battery pack. I was using a new ESC from Shock (the 20A model, and it also was being reviewed separately as part of a review/report on that company and its products), a company in the Ukraine. It supplied 5V/2A to the radio receiver, easily powering the Airtronics receiver and three sub-micro servos. It is programmable by card or transmitter.

To calibrate the ESC, I had to turn on the transmitter and move the throttle to high. I then plugged the plane’s battery pack into the ESC, and it beeped twice after a couple of seconds, and it kept giving two beeps until I lowered the throttle to the Off position. The ESC was then ready for operation, and that process did not have to be repeated (unless I changed radio systems).

 Hitec HS-55 Specs
Hitec HS-55 Specs
Type: Sub-Micro Servo
Operating Speed (4.8V): 0.17 sec/60°
Stall Torque (4.8V): 15.27 oz-in.
Weight: 0.28oz (8g)
Dimensions: x 0.45"x 0.94"
Connector Wire Length: 6.29"
Gear Type: All Nylon
Operating Voltage: 4.8-6.0 Volts

 KMS Quantum 2208/09
KMS Quantum 2208/09
Motor specsKMSQ2208/09.
Type: Brushless Outrunner
Motor Weight 44g
Diameter: 28mm
Length: 26mm
Output Shaft Size: 3.17mm
BATTERY: 2s-3s Lipo
IO (A): 1A max
Prop: APC 9 x 3.8 electric
Max: 80%
KV Current: 1920
Maximum Efficiency: 16A/60S
Poles: 14 Pole
ESC Timing Degrees: 20-30 (High)
Available: Hobby People


 Shock-20 A
Shock-20 A
Type: Brushless Motor Controller
Continuous amps: 20A
Maximum Amps, short bursts: Not Given
BEC: 5V/2A
Lipoly cells: 2-3
NiXX cells: 5-10
Switch rate: 8 & 16 KHz
Timing: auto, soft, hard
Brake: On/Off
Low Voltage Cut-off: Programmable
Weight: 0.71 ounce
Length: 1.29"
Width: 0.91"
Height: 0.24"
Brake: On/Off
Price: $52.00 USD

Completion

Steps 67- 72 showed me how to make the landing gear including the foam wheel covers and the foam cover for the main landing gear wire. After adding the aileron connector wires and the propeller to the motor, I was ready to balance the plane.

The recommended center of Gravity was given as between 10-20 mm behind the leading edge of the bottom wing. I set the plane upside down and balanced the battery on the front bottom of the fuselage (facing up). I lifted the plane off the table with my two index fingers 15 mm behind the leading edge of the bottom (currently top) wing. I moved the battery and repeated until it balanced. I marked the foam where the battery was positioned once it was balanced on the C/G. I then cut out foam from the fuselage to fit the battery pack at the proper balance point.

Recommended Maximum Control Surface Movements:

  • Ailerons 60 mm up and down
  • Elevators 40 mm up and down
  • Rudder 85 mm side to side

The plane took about 7 hours total assembly time.

TIP:There are six EZ type connectors for use with control rods on this plane. They are secured to the servo arm or control arm with a pin that goes through a hole in the arm and then a black plastic circle slides on to lock them on to their control surface. It took me a lot of time to do the first 3-4 of these black plastic circles until I came up with the following solution: Put the little plastic circle over the center hole in one of the landing gear wheels. Place the pin from the connector over the center hole in the plastic disc. Use a thimble or other metal object to push down on the EZ type connector through the servo arm and then through the connector. My next assembly will be an hour quicker following my own tip.

TIP: The instructions call for gluing the metal braces between the top and bottom wings at all four corners and where they cross one another. Use some thread where they cross and tie them together and then CA it. I broke the CA bond where they crossed several times in test flights. I haven't broken the glued thread yet with a number of flights.

J37-01.jpg:Tie the two metal cross braces together, and hit the thread with some CA to keep them together.

Flying

On a plane like this, a prop adaptor and a propeller are vital parts to keeping the plane in the air. On a dawn patrol test flight while doing aerobatics and giving the plane full power it threw its prop into the Delta waters I was flying over at the time. Fortunately, I was able to fly back to the park and make an excellent dead stick landing at my feet. In fact, I learned it was fun to kill the power 200 feet up and float down to make a dead stick landing, and I have since done that a number of times just for the fun of it.

Basics

The plane has two flat level wings and large control surfaces for rudder, elevator and especially aileron. On my first flight I started to make a wide right turn with just aileron. I went to make the turn tighter, and I was no longer turning but flying parallel to the ground sideways. I added a little left rudder, and I was doing a perfect knife edge; back to basics. To make normal turns it is best to use both aileron as well as rudder. Use both sticks or program in aileron/rudder mix if your transmitter allows that.

The Hacker Pitt Special was very controllable but most easily controlled using small movements, especially with elevator but for the other control surfaces as well. I programmed in 50% exponential for aileron and elevator. It was not available for rudder on my Airtronics radio but that was not a problem for me with this plane. With the exponential and the aileron/rudder mix, just doing basic flight maneuvers was easy with a low throttle setting. That was good to become familiar with the plane. After that it was time to go to the acrobatics. The Pitt flies well with the Quantum motor using either a 2 or 3-cell Lipoly battery pack.

Taking Off and Landing

I hit the throttle, and in two feet I was airborne. If I brought the speed up more slowly, I could make a scale takeoff. She was an easy hand toss to launch and easy to get airborne. Landings could be done dead stick or with slight power on. Cross wind landings were easily controlled by the large rudder authority the plane supplied. Starting and ending flights was easy with this plane.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

It can perform every maneuver I perform and does them well. The foam gave me confidence to do my best maneuvers close to the ground. It flies inverted as well as it flies right side up. I had fun doing loops small and large, axial rolls as well as barrel rolls and tail slides and half pipes. It does a nice waterfall as well. I enjoyed doing spins in both dives and climbs. This is a great plane for the pilot who has a large number of tricks or the intermediate pilot wanting to learn more tricks. It goes where you direct it and shows the difference in controls used at different angles of flight (sometimes the elevator acts like the rudder and the rudder the elevator etc.).

Is This For a Beginner?

This question was raised in the introduction, and my answer is NO! The plane is too responsive for me to recommend it for a beginner. I would recommend it as a first or second aileron plane for a pilot who has reached at least the start of intermediate level of control. An expert will have lots of fun with this little foamy.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

Smooth working components let me judge the handling and the performance of the plane on its own merit without having to make any compromises. Besides myself two friends have also flown this plane, and we all love the way it performs and handles.

Pluses:

  • Wire rods inserted in wings and fuselage made for a light but firm airplane.
  • Aluminum braces, lightweight stiffeners for the wings kept them in proper position.
  • Does a variety of maneuvers very well, and I felt confident flying those maneuvers.
  • The color of the plane in bright sunshine grew on me.

Minuses:

  • Bottom of wings were not painted.
  • I didn't find it to be suitable for a beginner (see introduction), but a great plane otherwise.
Last edited by Angela H; Oct 13, 2008 at 09:08 PM..
Thread Tools
Oct 14, 2008, 12:24 PM
Sam Adams Fan
DG40's Avatar
Nice review,
I'd love to get one of these.
Where did you get it and how much did it cost with shipping?
Oct 14, 2008, 02:49 PM
Registered User
la528it's Avatar
AWESOME LANDING in the video. I had a multiplex bi-plane and loved the "hang-factor" that's associated with these plane. They just love to stay in the air!


By the way, your url for hobby people is incorrect, you want:

http://www.hobbypeople.net/


Shipping is FREE on orders over $25!!!
Oct 14, 2008, 03:51 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP
Our editor arranged for the review it was sent to me. I don't know where or if it can be bought in the states. I got no info on the price. Hopefully that will get posted by the manufacturer. Mike
Oct 14, 2008, 04:38 PM
You deserve my opinion
FirstShirt's Avatar
Michael, Nice review. Thank you. I'm also interested. So far I haven't found a US supplier for this particular plane.
Oct 14, 2008, 04:52 PM
Registered User
Wow, that was some smooth flying and I loved the spot landing. Nice job!


F-27B>C Stryker, PZ 1880kv BL Inrunner, 6x4 pusher prop, E-flite 25A ESC, 3S-2200mah Li-Po.
Spektrum DX-7
AMA Park Pilot Partner
Oct 28, 2008, 10:05 PM
John 3:16
Daddy-O's Avatar
Thank you for the review. It looks like a keeper. It would be nice to see it for sale in the states.
Daddy-O
Nov 04, 2008, 09:38 AM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP
I have been informed it will be available at Hobby-Lobby so look for it there in the future. They will also have the price for it for purchase here in the states.


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