Parkzone Ultra Micro J3 Cub

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My ParkZone J3 Cub with Prop/Save and Wheels from RC Funlab

This was my ParkZone Cub.  I recently passed it on to a fellow flyer who simply enjoyed it so much I gave it to him!  A month or so ago at one of the indoor flight sessions I let him have a couple flights with it and he immediately started doing touch and go passes and just generally running around in ovals and having a ball.  He’s the younger brother to one of our best young 3D fliers at my home club (Indy RC Modelers) and he’s had a few little indoor planes so I knew he would have no trouble with it.  When I got home I realized that I had done pretty much all I ever wanted to do with it.  I didn’t need it any more so I fixed up a minor crack that it had earned that night and boxed it up until I saw the young man again.

I was originally attracted to the petite little Cub because it’s a pretty decent looking semi-scale bird…. considering it’s an indoor electric molded from foam!  With some panel lines, a fake engine and with the edition of some “sorta-tundra” tires it looked and flew pretty nice.  My only immediate disappointment was I actually expected it to fly a bit slower.  Isn’t that how Cubs fly?  It seems to need a bit more speed than I would have expected but I adapted to that fairly quickly.  I enjoyed it for a while but over time I realized it flew…. well… like a Cub!  Actually like a model Cub, which is to say stable with better than scale power but limited to the normal things that a 3 channel, micro electric can do.

Over the course of 6 months or so I got a bit bored and soon gravitated toward other, more interesting airframes like the Night Vapor and SBach. The Cub only got flown when nothing else was available or conditions were such that I wanted to fly something “disposable”.  It just wasn’t all that much fun for me anymore.  Don’t misunderstand, I had my fun and felt like I got my money out of it.  It’s still one of the better looking examples I’ve seen and my young flying buddy sports a big smile when he is at the controls.

In summary, I would recommend the Cub as long as you understand what you are getting.  This is not a plane to fly in the house and of course outdoors in mild wind is OK but no more.  Maneuverability and power are reasonable but this is obviously no aerobat!

I would suggest the prop saver option as these are well known for breaking prop shafts (right at the back edge of the prop so you have to replace prop and shaft!) in the case of any nose down landing.  Otherwise, it’s a quality little airplane right out of the box.

 

 

Parkzone Night Vapor… Indoor or light wind flyer

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My Night Vapor – showing some wear and tear but still flying great.

The Night Vapor is a sub-one ounce, 3 channel indoor flyer from Parkzone.  I’ve been flying one for about a year and a half and probably have 150 flights on this little aircraft.  I think it is one of the best values in RC, at least for those who are flying DSM2 or DSMX radios.  I bought mine Bind N Fly and have flown it on the JR x9303 as well as (most recently) my Spektrum DX8 and have great fun every time.

The Vapor has a fairly large flight envelope, ranging from medium-slow to extremely slow high alpha, almost hover, which can be sustained for as long as you feel like holding the elevator back and correcting ever so slightly with the rudder (even if it is on the aileron stick) and some very mild jockeying with the throttle.  Fast it will never be, at least in level flight and I don’t recommend high throttle dives.  If you try to go fast, be aware that there seems to be some tendency to warp the wing/tail and everything else in a full throttle dive that may result in some unintended maneuvers.  Buy this plane to go slow and enjoy exploring the low end of the envelope… that is where this bird shines.  Low wind… maybe up to a bit less than 10mph??? is OK but in a gym with no wind or blowers on at all is ideal.

In the gym, doing carrier landings on a standard 6′ table, using the same table as a limbo or even tempting the gods with some “through the rafter” flying is all very possible and a heck of a lot of fun… just don’t expect anyone to climb up there or come up with a cherry picker to retrieve your airplane!

A few tips based on my experience with the Night Vapor.  Once you figure out the proper location of the battery for balance (the whole carrier slides on the fuselage “stick” for adjustment) and get accustomed to the flight envelope of the normal setup you are ready to make a few adjustments to get the most out of this airplane.  That should take about 4 flights as the Night Vapor is really easy to fly, but take 10… it’s all fun!  Save the full throttle setting for fast climbs, loops and the like and stick with the 70mah battery for a while so the balance is consistent and the airplane remains light.  Slow and light is where she shines.

Assuming you have a better transmitter than the little “video game controller” quality that comes with the RTF model (Not saying they aren’t usable but they don’t have the features I’d like) go back and make a few adjustments.  First, move the linkages in on the control surfaces as far as they will go to get maximum throws available.  Then go into the radio and put in appropriate endpoints so that the elevator and rudder can’t bind together when both are at extreme throws.  Add some expo or at least some dual rates and start experimenting.  What looks a lot like a flat spin, the aforementioned “near” hover, tight loops and other interesting maneuvers become much easier at this point.  Try bigger batteries like a 120mah for longer flights but expect to give up just a little vertical and of course low speed, high alpha takes a bit more throttle.  I prefer to stick with the 70mah and 12-15 minute flights are easily attained with it so I see no point in anything larger unless it’s all you have handy!

Finally, you may have noticed this bird has lights on it for night flying!!  I would recommend you get used to day flying first as trying to get used to a new airplane AND trying to stay oriented would be a bit challenging… please don’t ask how I know.  Once you are comfortable this is just about the best thing every built for cruising around the night sky, (not too far away) making touch and goes off the top of your camper or other nearby “landing strip” and just generally having a good time out of doors after the sun goes down.

In my book, the Night Vapor is an airplane I would likely replace immediately if something untoward occurred.  Of the 14 or so flyable airplanes I own… few fit in that category.

Parkzone UMS Sbach 342 3D

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My Sbach – A fast but stable aerobat thanks to AS3X

I’ve had the little E-flight AS3X equipped Sbach for a couple months now and the first thing I’ll say is it isn’t what I’d consider a great indoor plane. It seems to fly better fast and I personally don’t enjoy spending all my time just “missing the walls”! However the stabilization system really makes it fly more like a larger model… Maybe akin to what you’d expect from a 40-60 power model. It’s quite impressive. Though I’m not much of a 3D enthusiast I have been trying out hovering a bit with it and it seems to be doable as power is not a problem.

As an outdoor airplane it flys very well with sustained knife edge, (use the side force generators from the beginning) crisp feeling 4 point rolls, loops small or large, stall turns, snaps and more within its repertoire. Landing takes a bit of work as it needs to carry a bit of speed for anything resembling a normal landing. The best thing is it can do all that in 10 to perhaps 15 mph winds if you remember to correct your flight line with judicious use of rudder! That’s impressive for a sub 3 ounce aircraft.

All in all, I enjoy the little Sbach. While the AS3X system does make for some seeming “resistance” to smaller control inputs, it also makes the plane track great even in high winds that other micros can’t handle. Flights don’t seem to be to short so the little 180 mah battery seems to be about right. It’s unfortunate it has a different connector than anything else I’ve owned before, there is a little adapter cable from horizon that adapts it to most balancing chargers so if you don’t get the model with the charger or want another option there is a fix out there.