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Monday, April 8, 2013

Extreme Flight 60" MXS__Perfect

This report includes two new videos that will not be seen on the forums.

Being able to get a bit more time on my 60" MXS has really revealed her character. I have loved this plane so much right from the start that I have held back with my flying, and I have been a bit easy on it. I don't even fly it that much because right now I can't afford to replace it. I just hang it near my desk and admire it a lot.
When I was 4 years old my father taught me to never fall in love with anything that flies. If you have seen any of my videos you will know I treat all of them with a healthy degree of disdain, but this plane is different. I fell in love hard with the 60" MXS.
Of course, this is ridiculous because that harder I can fly a plane, the better I like it. She's going to break my heart one way or the other eventually, so let's get on with it before I get too old to enjoy the process. With this in mind, I knew I had to just get over it, so I've taken the big MXS out every day this week, flown it hard, and I have a new perspective on it.
The 60" planes fly a bit differently. They are much smoother and more solid. This threw me off a little because they are even more stable and easy to fly than my beloved 48" planes. It took a bit of time to learn to push the plane really hard. This thing is immense compared to a 48", and it is hard to believe it can be this agile. Previously I was cutting myself a much larger margin, but now I am getting close to flying this baby as hard as I fly a 48" EXP.

It simply took a little time to get over new plane paranoia and to trust the plane implicitly. I'm almost there now. I just had to lighten up and have fun with it instead of worrying that I might put a nick on it.
In my estimation, this plane is perfect in every single way. I especially appreciate this plane's big pitch authority. Most planes don't have enough, and the 48" MXS is just insane, but the big MXS is just right. It's enough that it will pop a very healthy parachute, but it is not so much that this will effect pitch stability at all. In fact, the big MXS is every bit as good at precision as my 60" Extra, and we all know the Extras are the 3D kings of precision.
 Note: I am now flying the 60" MXS without the optional racing wingtips.
As you may have noticed in the videos, I was working on some new snaps and tumbles trying to come up with something different. Normally I like to do this sort of thing with a beater, because if you get it wrong you aren't tearing up your prized plane. After a few days of flying the MXS hard I became so brave with it that I wanted to push it hard and find out what I could get away with. This is why some of the flying is not as crisp as I would have liked, but it is what you have to do it you want to improve your flying. That, and you have to take some risks.
I almost have the back flip into an an elevator maneuver figured out. It's just a matter of finding the right speed so the flip stops inverted with wings level, and the plane parallel to the runway and pointed away. Then it's simply a matter of pulling in the up with a blast of throttle and she will drop right in. I hit one perfectly in the last video, but I still need to do this well enough to repeat it every time. I can do it with the 48" MXS, but the timing is a bit different with the 60".
The big MXS has much more mass than the little one, so it carries that weight all the way through snaps and tumbles. As such, you don't need to manage your momentum quite so carefully. You can go into moves at medium speed and the weight does the work for you. This is probably easier on the airframe than outside snaps at terminal velocity.
I flew the little MXS some this week too, and I've got to say the big MXS will tumble more violently with less effort. It will also do them much more gracefully, but then again, you almost always expect the bigger plane to do things more gracefully.
As I get more tail heavy, the elevator is more responsive, and this was making my slow rolls more difficult. I was popping up when inverted because with a more neutral CG the plane was not dropping so much. I had to adjust to that and remember to go easy on the elevator, and now it's much better. I went though this earlier in the week when I jammed the battery all the way back on my 48" Extra, so I knew what I had to do, and I think you'll see my precision work is much improved with this plane.
Ease of Flight
Here the big MXS gives up absolutely nothing. It flies on the wing impeccably, and it's harrier is so good that it is almost right there with the 60" Edge EXP (which borders on too easy). All the way around, the big MXS is the smoothest, most solid and honest plane I have ever owned. It is very easy to fly and inspires a little bit too much confidence.
After all, I wrecked my first big MXS simply because I got too confident and too stupid. I guess I was too determined not to repeat that and I was careful with this one for too long. Well, that part is certainly over now.

Gut Wrenching Grunt And Ass Blistering Speed 
Let's start off talking about the gut wrenching grunt. With the Torque 4016/500 Mk II motor and Airboss Elite 80 ESC, the power is there simply for the asking. On previous 4016 motors with 6s you would  have to run a 15" prop, but with the Mk II, a wood 16/8 makes it very happy indeed. With this prop and all that power, you've got the vectored thrust to blast the plane around, even after it's completely stalled. After the stall, your control surfaces are more like turning vanes, and having an extra inch of blade blows a bigger cone of air over the whole plane. 
Obviously hover and harrier is going to be improved, but exiting wild tumbles with a blast of throttle allows you to control the direction of the plane much more cleanly. For things like stall turns you can completely stall the airplane until the rudder is doing absolutely nothing, but with little burst of throttle it will swing right around.
One of the more entertaining aspects of 3Ding this plane and power system is accelerating back into conventional flight. When you pour the coals to it this plane simply rockets away like you lit off the afterburners.
 At first it is quite startling, but even now I get a giggle out of it every single time. The acceleration is quite useful for getting up to airspeed if you stall the plane too deep or too low to the ground, but it is also so impressive that it really adds to the "wow" factor of this plane. It goes from nothing to ballistic so fast that it is absolutely blinding.
The only part of the flying the MXS that is not initially easy is the ass blistering speed. The big MXS is exceptionally quick, especially for a big plane. It makes no sense that this plane is even faster with the same motor as my 60" Extra, but it is.
Of course, speed is relative. You simply have to adjust to things happening faster, but for the young guys this is no problem at all. They just have to scoff at the old "speed kills" wives' tale and get on with it. You can't learn to go fast by puttering around in an alpha all day, so open up your game and hammer that throttle.
A fast airplane is actually much easier to fly than something slower, simply because speed means more air going over the plane, and that means more stability. The easiest airplane I have ever flown was a 200 mph Formula One pylon racer. It was so damm fast that it did not want to do anything but barrel along in a straight line, so you turn the thing around the pole, and then let go of it until it's time to turn again.
The big MXS is so stinking fast that it is much like this. The only hard part is adapting to the speed, but after you fly around fast for a bit, I promise that you will want even more speed and even more power. It doesn't take that long. You just have to get over the fear and you'll find flying fast to be far easier than you though it ever could be, especially with this plane.
Even on high rates I can do nice precision slow and point rolls, and huge loops and Cuban 8s. Even on high rates I can fly the old AMA pattern pretty convincingly, though it is certainly easier on low rates. The speed locks the airplane in to a very hard groove and the stability grips the plane like a vise.
 I was perfectly comfortable with this plane even when I was driving it out to the runway on it's maiden flight. From the time I opened the box, there were no surprises except good ones. I thought I knew what to expect, but on every level this plane has far exceeded that, and we are just now opening up, flying it hard and beginning to discover it's potential.
While it's still early, I can honestly say this is my Best Plane ever
The Heart of A Beast
Which the big MXS certainly is. I was proudly part of the Torque 4016/500 Mk II development project, so I spent an entire summer hammering the crap out of these motors and trying to blow them up. The term "them" is not really accurate, however. I only had one, single Mk II motor, and while I hammered it mercilessly, it never gave me even a slight hiccup and still hums away merrily in my 60" Extra EXP.
So, in my estimation, the Torque MK II is pretty close to bullet proof, and I don't ever even consider for a second it's reliability. The power you can see for yourself in the videos.
I've also come to really love the Airboss 80 ESC. It's no secret I am a huge fan of the Airboss 45 (all I will use in my 48s), but the 80 is turning out to be every bit as smooth operating and reliable as it's smaller sibling. I put my Airboss 80 in, and the only time I ever think about it is when I pull the cowling for maintenance
However, we estimate I put 500 super hard flights on my four Thunder Power 6s 3850 65C packs in the extreme 95 degrees/99% humidity Florida summer. If there was ever a good test for a battery, this was it. This kind of harsh treatment would be enough to kill most lesser batteries, but I'm still using my original packs. So, that's a summer's worth of  flights that bordered on near abuse, and you can see in the videos they still have substantial pop left in them.
As of now they have lost a little capacity, but that is to be more than expected when you treat Lipos less than lovingly. They are still holding up much better than I was expecting when I started running them full throttle in all that heat. As you can see, this one is still completely flat with zero swelling. I never expected these packs to hold up to what I put them through for so long, but they have.  They will also go through a whole summer of hard flying with the upcoming 60" Laser as well.
Note: I am now flying this plane with the battery all the way back against the wing tube.
Gap Sealing
 I hinge my planes with as tight of a gap as I can get while still having the bevels of the flying and control surfaces touch, and then I seal the hinge gap with Xander's pre-cut Monokote hinge sealing strips. No matter how tight you get the gap, it will always benefit from sealing, and that's why I do all my surfaces, including the rudder.
I see a lot of resistance to sealing hinge gaps, and I just do not understand it. Even if you take your sweet time and drag your feet the whole way, you can seal up an entire plane in about 30 minutes. The benefits of sealing are especially essential to slow speed flight, which means your 3D is going to be better because you will have more control. Who doesn't want more control?
And at high speed, a big gap like we are forced to run to get the throw we need can lead to potentially catastrophic high speed flutter, which I have seen shake entire airplanes to little pieces, in just a few seconds. I fly these planes fast and dive them really hard because my gaps are sealed and I have confidence the plane will hold together.
It's just cheap, easy insurance, and your plane will fly better too.
Servo Zombies
Another thing that has led to false information are the supposed failings of the Hi Tec 5245MG servo. Let me get this out front right away and right now, outside of getting great customer service from them......... I don't owe Hi Tec a dime for anything .......... so there is no reason for me to give you anything but the straight up.
There have been reports of stalling and blow back, but no one flies these planes as hard as I do and you simply don't see stalling or blow back in my videos ...... entirely because there isn't any.
I attribute this supposed "problem" almost entirely to people running big gaps and not sealing them. These are big airplanes, they go like hell, and if it goes terribly wrong, you can hurt someone with one of these things, so it is crazy not to take every step you possibly can to make sure everything on them is perfect. This means sealing your gaps.
A friend has a 60" Extra EXP that was set up exactly like mine. He was running more aileron throw than me, but his plane rolled extremely slowly, especially at high speed. He asked me to check the plane out, and it rolled so slowly that it was nearly useless. I checked everything, and he was running some bigger gaps than I like, simply because he wanted to get enough throw. Believe me, bevel to bevel on these 60" EXP is more than enough.
We sealed up his gaps and then the thing rolled so fast that neither one of us could keep up with it. It was totally insane. After one quick flight we moved the ball link in one hole at the servo to match how my plane was set up, and then it flew exactly like my plane does. Basically we took a bad flying plane and made it into a great flying plane with 30 minutes of work and five dollars worth of Xander's gap sealing strips.
It kind of makes me a Little crazy when people say you need to spend $400 on servos for this plane or you will get stalling or blow back. You don't. All you need to do is run the recommended 5245MG servos and set the plane up right. If you want to blow the money and go with high voltage servos and run a separate battery, I'm sure they are faster and more crisp, but you don't absolutely need to have that. As the videos prove over and over and over, the standard set up works just fine, no matter how hard you fly it.
Another thing that made the HS5245MG so unloved was centering problems, and at least for awhile those were real. A few of them got out with the dead bands not set properly. My first set were horrible and I hated the plane until I got a programmer and reset them. That turned it into an absolutely brand new airplane and it tracks and grooves like a pattern plane. I talked to Hi Tec about this, but they were already on it, and subsequent HS5245s I have checked have come with the dead bands set at the factory default of 2.
Generally, all you have to do is take a little effort to get your pushrod system and ball links operating smoothly with no drag, and seal your gaps. You'll have a geat flying plane and no "problems" with stalling or blow back.
No False Advertising
I said earlier these videos would not be published elsewhere, but this one already has been posted on RCG. Eventually the other two will make their way there too, but for now I wanted to give the blog readers something for their support, which is much appreciated. Please take a moment to subscribe to my blog while you are already here.