Easy Star

Mar 13, 2011

The Easy Star is definitely a higher quality of mild assembly, RTF airplanes. It is so very much better than the Hawk Sky it would be difficult to find any similarities save for the dimensions, which are identical. Also, unlike the 2.4gHz radio with the Hawk Sky, the Easy Star come with a 72mHz setup. I just may have to change radios to a 2.4gHz frequency hopper, considering how far away I want this airplane to go. At 2.4 gHz I can employ my own company’s wireless network and have a 3200 square mile flying spce. Of course, much of it is over populated areas where I never plan to fly anyway. Better to stay with the road less traveled and reduce the risk of having the airplane stolen or have done damage to property or people as it returned to the source of its gravity.

Out of the Easy Star box

I can see at a glance why I saw so many similar ArduPilot installs which rejected the canopy and placed the GPS piggy back on the airplane’s spine, just behind the rear of the canopy area. The Hawk Sky is cavernous by comparison, and I strongly believe that the Hawk Sky would make a very acceptable platform for a UAV. That’s assuming you were luckier than me and got one that worked. Mine came with a dead ESC, and so while my rudder, elevator and ailerons work just fine, there is no power to the 650 series outrunner motor that mounts on a plastic pod. I tested the motor with safe power and it worked perfectly in both directions (which gave me some ideas about steep descents).  So I’m 90 percent sure that like I saw in a lot of posts I read on various sites (after I bought it) that many had dead or malfunctioning ESCs. So I will be migrating a new ESC into it from one of my previous airborne failures, whose corpses I retaind with organ transplants in mind. Perhaps one of them has a compatable ESC to constribute. Otherwise it looks like I lay out about $30 and change to some Chinese company for a compatible replacement. Many models use the same ESCs, but then again, many don’t. So we’ll see what we see. But back to the Easy Star of the show.

Assembly of the Easy Star is very straight forward. I am only permanently affixing the tail feathers right now so that I can remove the wings for transportation in the car, or to perhaps acces the innards for some tuning or repairs. I’m pretty sure that I could charge the battery for the Easy Star tonight and take it flying tomorrow.

It comes with a kind of odd controller box. The radio has a single stick, with a thumb wheel throttle on the backside of the box. It’s actually pretty convenient to use.  There is a switch that combines circuits for elevons, which means I can fake it and use my airleron and rudder in sync, forcing coordinated turns and working much the like tho popular Ercoupe of real life fame. It was a plane made to drive. It had a steering whell, a flap handle and a throttle. No need for pedals –except for the small brake pedal that is. It was just like a car and flew that way. Being forced corrdinated in flight meant that you couldn’t use crossed controls for cross wind landings, where the wind makes the plane want to turn into the wind as it is being presed sideways, away from the runway. As a result, they became known as fair weather flyers, good for short jaunts to picnic places (with long runways) as a daily outing. Some were used as commuters, but eventually they died out with people favoring separate controls. I would prefer that, and if I change the radio setup to 2.4gHz, I will likely use a 6 channel setup so I have pitch, yaw, roll, throttle and an extra to flip states on some ArduPilot pin.

In oprder to put batteries into the radio control that comes with it, you have to remove the antenna, remove the antenna collar, remove two feet –one on each side of the bottom. Then pulling down and up, remove the entire back of the transmitter, exposing its nakedity for all the world to see. Inside is a battery holder that is removed from the well it sits in and then take four AA batteries on each side, for a total of eight. It takes a bit of finagling the get the back of the transmitter back on but it’s not that bad. I did it in about five minutes for the first time. Now that I’ve seen it, I bet I could do it in about three minutes. Everything arrived wrapped in its own ubblewrap which not only kept the parts in pristine condition, but amused me for nearly an hour and a half as I popped all the little cells in the bubble pack as I considered and pictured assembling the airplane. It’s always good to do practice runs, even in your head, so you can move with some alacrity when the main event is ready to happen.

When You have it all assembled, make sure that the radio is turned on and the throttle is in the lowest/off position and then connect the battery to the onboard receiver, powering up the R/C. The radio and plane should see one another and “bind” themselves together. Test this by exercising the control stick and verify that all of the control surfaces move in the right direction for the direction of stick motion. Making sure to hold the plane in place, run the throttle up to maximum to ensure that the motor is working and responding to command. Then throttle back, disconnect the plane from the battery and shut off the transmitter. Re-charge the battery. Assemble the plane and take the puppy flying.

I bought three extra props when I bought my Easy Star kit. That’s because I have seen so many of my little planes dig in at the nose on impact, flipping over on their back. That sure to break the propeller which will be spinning away during the crash. So I make it a point to keep spares for every thing that is field repairable. I bring control horns, control cables, and a handfull of the pivots and dogs used to dispense the work of the servos. And glue. Devcon 5 minute epoxy is your friend when you won a foam airplane. You can be back to flying in about ten minutes, even if you snap off a wing and break the fuselage in half. Thats a cool part about foam airplanes; they tend to be simple to repair.

The next job is to put it together and go give it a test fight and make sure all is on the up and up, and then it will be time to install the ArduPilot. I bought an airspeed pitot and sensor system and would like to use ailerons with the plane –which comes as a skid turner. That means it uses the rudder alone to turn the airplane. I suppose that’s acceptable for these purposes, but I’m a big believer in coordinated turns because they’re a lot safer than skidding.  The offset to the relative wind direction changes during a skid and that will cause my airspeed to read bogus for the term of the skid.  But if you really want an accurate read of airspeed, then get it from the airplane and verify it with GPS. Much better arrangement. It’s a lot more accurate, especially at low speeds where the aircraft needs to recognize its in a stall condition and take appropriate recovery steps (usually giving the model power).  But all of that is pie in the sky until I get the Easy Star assembled and tested, and then begin the arduous ArduPilot install, which I fully expect to be fraught with issues.

We’ll see…



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