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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Wierd For Extras__Passion Meets Pragmatism

By now you may have noticed that I am a little weird for Extras. In the mid 80s I flew a lot of AMA pattern, and with that kind of background I found a lot of 3D style planes to have disappointing precision performance.  Extras, however, seem to have the right wing platform and moments to give you good precision manners. I am not an engineer so I can not really analyze this in engineering terms, but Extras seem to be just right for not only precision, but overall extreme aerobatic performance.

This all started for me with the Extra SHP and I knew that plane like the back of my hand a long, long time ago. I learned 3D on an SHP, so flying one of those is always a comfortable experience. I always know exactly what to expect from this plane. The only surprise an SHP still holds for me is just how hard I can push it and how much I can get away with. Even after all this time, the plane is still better than I am.

I took a break from the SHP for about five years when I was flying extreme Flight planes exclusively, but the recent merger brought her back to me. I used to fly this plane on a combination of 3s and 4s packs, though this time I am staying with Thunder Power 3s 2600 55C Lightning packs. This keeps the plane nice and light, and also let's me run either an APC 13/6.5 or a 14/7 propeller. The light weight and big propeller makes for outstanding and easy low speed 3D. The SHP was originally intended to be the plane guys would transition to from foam, and in this configuration it's exactly that.

Extra SHP__More SPARKS Sunset Magic from Doc Austin on Vimeo.
SHP on 4s
While this one is strictly a dedicated 3s plane, I have flown the SHP extensively on 4s in the past. With that much power, it is absolutely smokin' hot. You can check my original SHP article  Extra SHP__Flying With An Old Friend for my 4s video of the SHP. It's quite sick.

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The only thing the SHP lacks in 3s configuration is brutal low speed grunt and blistering top end speed. This is easy to remedy simply by going to a 4s battery and dropping down to a 12/6 propeller. I use the Torque 2814 on all of my 48" planes, and while really good on 3s, going to 4s turns the SHP into a fire breathing monster, while maintaining it's easy flying nature.
The next plane in the pipeline will be a dedicated 4s SHP. I plan to use Hitec 5070MH servos on that plane, set to run at 7.4 volts. On 4s those servos will work magic and turn the SHP into a little badass.

I have some old development pieces I want to use, namely SFGs for the elevator, and also I want to use double ball link hardware. I checked the push rods from my wrecked 44" Slick and they will work just fine on the ailerons, though I will probably have to use threaded rod covered with carbon tube for the rest, which is easy enough to do.

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Maybe the thing I like best about the SHP is that it is a simple, rugged plane that is practical and always ready for action. It is moderately inexpensive to build and uses cheap batteries. Almost everyone has some Hitec 65MGs and a few 3s 2200 packs laying around waiting for a project, so for those people the SHP would be a case of passion meets pragmatism.
It is extremely low maintenance and as long as you are not slapping the ground with it, all you ever need to do with it is check a few bolts for tightness every so often, throw it in the back seat and go fly it on cheap batteries. While this makes the SHP the perfect daily beater, it is still way too nice for that. An SHP is always best when it is scuffed up a little and you can hammer it remorselessly!
Inexpensive Batteries
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As noted previously, I use Thunder Power 3s 2250 55C Lightning packs in my current SHP. These packs retail out at $36.99, which makes them very competitively priced while also offering a two year warranty, and Thunder Power quality and performance. I  have about 50 flights on my for Lightning packs and they have been simply superb. I get good run time, they stay cool and deliver great performance.

Dogs And Cats Living Together In Sin

As a team pilot you really can't be seen flying a competitor's product, but now that the SHP is part of the Extreme Flight family I am delighted to be able to have one again. I fly it often, and hard.

The other end of the spectrum is the Extreme Flight 60" Extra EXP. From the beginning this plane has always been a very serious affliction for me. I just love it because I suits me so well. At speed it grooves like a pattern plane, but 3Ds extremely well too.

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This is one of those planes you can't say enough good things about, sort of like it is with the SHP. While they are two totally different flying kinds of planes, I like to take them out together because they compliment each other extremely well. By having both of these I get a day of easy, relaxing fun with the SHP, and blood and guts high performance extreme performance with the Extra EXP.

It's also simply the best looking plane I have ever owned. All the 60" Extreme Flight EXPs provide blinding performance at a reasonable cost. The bang for the buck ratio is really high on these, though I do plan to try one of the new 3DHS 61" Extra 330LT, simply because I think that will be like a giant SHP. It's certainly nice looking.

Extra EXP__More Flying With The 55C Lightning II from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

Extra EXP__More Flying With The 55C Lightning from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

Extreme Flight 48" Extra EXP
Sadly neglected for about a year now has been my remaining Extra EXP. This had certainly not been by design, but more because I was flying the 60" EXPs so much, my 48" Laser with high voltage servos and then the Extra SHP and 44" Slick. It's sort of an embarrassment of riches when there are so many good choices that a plane like the Extra EXP can sit unused.

The only problem I have with the 48" Extra EXP is that when I fly it, I sort of forget about all my other planes! Occasionally I have to deliberately put the Extra aside so the other planes get some love. This was slightly painful at first, but when you have planes like the 60 Yak and Laser, plus a new 47" Extra SHP, it's easy enough to get into flying those instead.

That, and right now I only have one Extra EXP them, so I sort of slid my blue Extra EXP to the back burner until I can build another red one. I've got an MSX coming, but next on the build table will be another Extra EXP, red of course.

This is from a little over a year ago. I retired this plane because it was getting pretty beat up. It was my front line plane for about a year and a half, and when you fly them daily the wear and tear adds up pretty quickly.

I'de like to think I have improved my flying in the last year, but you can still pretty clearly see the confidence I had in the Extra even then. I can't wait to get back to flying this airframe!


My Thunder Power units are still performing perfectly. For charging I love my Thunder Power TP820CD dual port charger. This allows me to charge two packs at once. I can charge different sizes and voltages of packs at the same time two, for example, a 3s and a 4s or a 6s and a 4s.  Basically I can pick whatever pack I want and one size of the charger doesn't care what the other is doing. 

Powering my charger is the Thunder Power TP1527PS power supply. This provides enough power that you can run both charger ports at 15 amps, which is plenty. If I need to get a pack charged quick, I can run one side at 20 amps, but generally 15 amps is more than fine.

I can pop out a 3300  6s pack in about 14-16 minutes and a 2700 4s in 12-14 minutes. My 3s 2250 packs generally take about 10 minutes, but if I crank them to 20 amps I have done them before in 8 minutes!

The sides of the charge overlap the power supply, so I just velcroed the two together and it makes a nice and easy to transport/carry single unit. It's also really nice that they match. Guys don't normally notice that kind of thing and my wife pointed it out to me!

My charger is going on five years old and has never missed a beat. The power supply is about three years old and has been flawless as well. Here you can see I am charging a 3s and a 6s pack.

You may also have noticed I now have the larger Bose sound link (left of picture). There is so much ambient noise (from the interstate) at SPARKS that the little unit could not keep up. I had to play it so loud just to hear it that the speakers finally got ratty sounding. I'm sure the little one would have been fine in a less noisy environment. For example, it really kicked it in the garage. SPARKS is just wide open and noisy, a pretty harsh environment for a little speaker.

Bose let me upgrade to the larger one, which works fine. We play it hard and it sounds great. It also has a larger batt5ery and I have yet to run it down, even after three or four hours.