So who's doing this reviewing then?
Well I've been building and flying or driving radio controlled models for over 40 years and during that time I like to think I've built up a reasonable amount of knowledge.
I'm also a qualified electronics engineer who has worked in radio frequency, analog, digital systems and software for more than three decades. In fact I designed and built my first RC set back in 1969.
For the past nine years I've also been involved in the design and manufacture of some rather sophisticated engine technology and UAV flight control systems.
So, chances are I've been there, done that and have a huge pile of tee shirts to prove it.
Right now I'm heavily into 3D flying and enjoy all aspects of the RC hobby. I may be old but I don't feel it.
In the Pipeline
Here's just a little bit of what's to come on this site...
RC explained: Demystifying terms such as PCM, PPM dual conversion, single conversion, full-range etc., this feature will explain it all.
Cheap Chinese Engines: Just how good are those cheap Chinese glow and gas engines that sell for half the price of their "brand-name" equivalent? I put several to the test.
Build your own radio gear?: Back in the old days, building your own RC gear was not uncommon and now the arrival of 2.4GHz has made it practical again.
Review: SkyAngel F16 EDF
ARE YOU SURE THAT'S STOCK?
Dated: 14 Oct 2010
I have to say right from the start that I don't have a lot of electric-powered models, in fact I only had one before I bought the SkyAngel F16.
However, that's not to say that I don't have some familiarity and experience with electric models of the ARF/RTF variety. I've regularly helped others set-up and test-fly quite a variety of different electric-powered planes.
With a growing number of EDF jets appearing around the place, I figured it might be worthwhile reviewing one or two, especially those which can be classified as "parkflier" types.
Unfortunately, many of the EDFs I'd flown that belonged to other people were decidedly disappointing in performance -- at least to someone like myself who's used to flying jets that have "real" jet engines in them.
I figured I'd start out with the SkyAngel F16 for two reasons... Firstly it's cheap, secondly, it's small enough to really qualify as a true parkflier.
The kit model comes in a stout box and the version I purchased contained everything you will need (even the lipo battery) apart from some epoxy or CA and your receiver.
Once you open the box you realize just how small this model really is. When I grabbed a wing I honestly thought it was a tailplane -- it's tiny! The wingspan on this model is a mere 530mm (just under 21 inches).
There are only six major glue joins to make -- 2 for the wings, 2 for the elevators, one for the vertical stabilizer and one for the nose-cone. Even the most lethargic builder can put this thing together in a couple of hours maximum. I didn't bother with the missiles and bombs that come with the kit -- they may look cool but they will simply slow it down and are something else to get broken during a bad landing.
The parts are good quality EPO and the ailerons/elevators don't have actual hinges, just a thinning of the plastic. So long as you "exercise" these built-in hinges well by flexing the control surfaces a few times, they work very well.
One aspect of the model which had me scratching my head and worried that I'd bought a dud was the apparent failure to include the canopy section. It was only after a tip-off from a reader that I found the missing part -- pushed deep into the air-intake of the fuselage section. Apparently they're all like this and it's a trap for young players.
Not So Good
The two servos were already glued in place but one wasn't properly seated in its little pocket within the foam. Fortunately I was still able to get the linkages lined up okay.
There's no mention of the fact in the very nicely presented manual but it is very important that you use thread-locker or CA on the small posts that secure the linkages to the control-horns. If these come undone, you will crash your plane.
Another unsurprising disappointment was the balance of the fan.
Long before I powered anything up I could see that one blade was clearly longer than the rest and this was actually causing it to rub on the shroud. This problem was further aggravated by the way the shroud was being distorted into an oval shape by the foam around it.
Some judicious use of sandpaper shortened the offending blade and provide the much-needed clearance. Surprisingly enough, it also resulted in pretty good balance, for when I fired up the fan it was smooth and vibration-free at all RPMs. Excellent!
The canopy section is supposed to be held down by a combination of a magnet in the canopy itself and a metal strip in the fuselage. Unfortunately on my model, they'd forgotten to include the metal in the fuselage so I had to make my own and glue it in place. Not a big thing -- but typical of the lack of quality control that still plagues Chinese products.
Ready for a testflight
The test model was fitted with a tiny FrSky 4-channel 2.4GHz receiver which left plenty of room to spare. The antenna was simply directed out the side of the model where it would be clear of the internal wiring.
The tiny 850mAH 3S lipo provided in the kit was charged and fitted snugly into the compartment provide in the nose of the model.
This model is unusual insomuch as it uses coupled tailerons and ailerons.
This can be a little confusing for those unfamiliar with it and indeed, in my haste to get the model in the air I overlooked an important check -- making sure that the aileron operation was correctly oriented (ie: left was left and right was right).
Updated: 20 Sep 2012
Here's a blog that will keep you informed just what's going on behind the scenes at RC Model Reviews and also tells you a little more about myself.
23 Mar 2010
How come there's no compatibility between different brands of transmitters and receivers? Why can't you use a cheap Chinese receiver with your Futaba FASST radio?
4 Mar 2010
Since this has become a very frequently asked question, I've posted this simple guide to getting your product, or a product you're thinking of buying reviewed here at RCModelReviews
Useful information on what's inside your servos and how they work.
Important facts you should know about the oils that are used in our model engine fuels.
How well do five different 2.4GHz systems stack up when hit by interference? The answers are here, with more to come.
Yes it does work on model airplanes but there are some limitations involved with this bargain-basement radar speed gun.
These are possibly the world's worst servos, find out exactly why you should avoid these boat-anchors at any cost.
It's cheap but can it really stack up against other glow engines in the .90 market? Find out in this review.
How does this cheap 9-channel 2.4GHz radio system perform when compared to big-name systems that can cost two or three times as much? Have the Chinese finally developed a real contender with the iMax 9X?
Does all this 2.4GHz stuff have your head spinning?
I've done my best to demystify the whole subject so if you feel like a bit of learning, this is the stuff for you!
How can you tell when your engine needs new bearings? Who has the best prices and service on replacements? Just how do you change them? Get all that information and watch a great video tutorial anyone can follow.
The Chinese are now churning out a huge number of very reasonably priced no-name servos. But are they any good?
Nicad, NiMH, Li-Ion, LiPoly, LiFePO4, A123... the range of different battery types has never been greater. So how do they differ and what type should you be using?