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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

3DHS 48" Edge Demonstrator__A Nice Plane Turned Badass

Probably all of us have flown 3DHS' wonderful 48" Edge with the wire landing gear. It was the perfect plane for the newer pilot because you could repeatedly bash the crap out of it, bend the gear back into place and go bash it again and again and again.

While this was a nice feature, it wasn't even the best feature. The best feature is the things just flew good. I built of few of these for friends, and as a result, got to test and sort them out before I handed them over. Of course, I never hammered them like they were my own, but I was confident enough in them that I could fly them hard enough to tell I liked them.

This has always been one of those "must have" type of plans that I never got around to building, mostly because the EXPs were coming so fast, and then with the merger I became re-engrossed with the 3DHS Extra SHP, which I still fly often.

In fact, the SHP makes this plane even more interesting because I already have the batteries. I've got a bunch of HS65MG laying around, so it just, as always, makes the most sense to use what you've got on the shelf. Just about everyone has what they need to put one of these together.

Nice Birthday Surprise
I didn't even know when the Demonstrators were supposed to come out, so I was a bit surprised when mine showed two days before my birthday. Not only was I lucky enough to get one of the first ones off the truck, my kit box had the extreme honor of wearing the Champ's autograph!

Carbon Goodies
Let's be very clear about one thing: This isn't the same candy bar with a new wrapper, even if it is a pretty cool wrapper. Nearly everything on this plane is an upgrade. This is what the plane would have been to begin with if 3DHS had not been so diligent about keeping the cost down to $150. This plane now costs about $30 more, but it's almost like $100 worth of upgrade. Everything that was not absolute top grade has been replaced with absolute top grade. This is a very righteous airframe and an exceptional value.

The most obvious upgrade is the carbon landing gear and 3DHS' carbon rod reinforced landing gear block assembly. The 3DHS carbon gear is a little thicker than an EXP landing gear and will take a bit more abuse. You will have to work hard to break this gear.

Also provided is a nice Ultrakoted balsa plate to go over where the landing gear mounts. This hides the landing gear bolts and gives a cleaner appearance (as well as cleaner aerodynamics) and also a more scale appearance. It makes it look more like a plane and less like a model. Instead of gluing the block in place, I chose to drill the block and gear, and secure the block with a long self tapping screw. That way I can remove it periodically check the bolts for tightness.

Inside the landing gear area is supported by carbon laminate bulkheads and carbon rods. As many horrible bad landings as I have made with my SHP, plus some outright crashes I still have not been able to pull one of these assemblies apart. I've tried over and over to get a good picture of this assembly, but it's all under the battery tray and defies photography.

The original 48" Edge was a pretty stout little plane, so I am not so sure all the carbon found on the demonstrator is strictly necessary. It does make for some pretty righteous bling though and it looks great. The face of the firewall is covered in carbon, as are the battery tray, motorbox sides and top. The carbon runs all the way back to the rearward edge of the motorbox sides. so to this is probably the strongest 48" class size motorbox we have ever seen. Somehow I don't see motorbox kits for this plane being a big seller simply because to break the box you would probably have to kill the entire airplane.
Special mention to the carbon reinforcement of the canopy rear where the hatch pin seats. In the past the wood in this hole could wallow out a little and make the fit sloppy, but no more. Also worth noting is that you don't even need to hold the latch handle back to seat the canopy. You just slide the front of the canopy under the cowl until the front retention pin seats, and then press down on the rear of the canopy. Then it snaps into place with a satisfying click.
More carbon can be found in critical high stress areas such as the anti rotation pins in the wing, and the holes they plug into. Previous models used wood dowels, and wood reinforcement around the holes in the fuselage. After a lot of really hard use you could get wear in those areas and the wing to fuselage fit could become a little sloppy. Replacing that wood with carbon keeps everything a nice, tight, precise fit, which will give you a better and more precise flying, longer lasting airframe. 

Wheel Pants
It was also nice of Aron to give us a single color wheel pant. For years that's been where I traditionally put a Thunder Power decals, but the multi colored pants on my 52" Extra and 44" Slick were so nice I did not want to detract from the design. So, solid color works fine this time.

Another righteous upgrade on the 48" Demonstrator are it's Side Force Generators (SFG)s. Generally one of the purposes of SFGs is to minimize or eliminate wing rock. A good Edge is impervious to wing rock anyway, so on the surface of it this might seem unnecessary. However, you can get wing rock in an Edge if your harrier skills are sloppy, so for the newer pilots, it's hard to imagine a better learning tool than an Edge equipped with SFGs. Harrier is such an important skill that you want to give them the most stable harrier platform you can, and this plane is it.
The kit comes equipped with 3DHS' neat little thumbscrews for attaching the SFGs. I never plan to take the wing off of mine or remove the SFGs, but this will be a nice touch for people with smaller cars who have to break the plane down for transport.
These SFGs also provide a lot of side lift in knife edge maneuvers. You can get the same sort of effect by moving the canopy way forward, but instead 3DHS kept the scale appearance of the aircraft and improved it's knife edge abilities with these neat little SFGs.
The previous 48" Edge flew just fine with no SFGs, so those who want to go with the pure scale appearance can simply leave them off and suffer no ill effects at all.
Printed Covering
Well, KM has done it again. What a beautiful graphics package! Well done, Aron.
New for this size plane is 3DHS' exclusive printed covering. I am not sure how the process works but my understanding is that the design is printed on the Ultrakote, applied to the plane, and then shot with a coat of clear paint. This protects the printing and also adds a nice, lustrous shine to the plane.
Of special note is that you can't really appreciate the intricate subtleties of the printing until you actually hold one of these planes in your hands. I tried to convey this in the pictures, but even with a good camera you can't do the plane justice. I noticed much the same thing with the 42" Slick. The detail and subtle shifts of color tone make for a very interesting look. The way the carbon pattern fades in and out of the flames is amazing. I'm betting 3DHS graphics guru Aron Bates drove himself a little crazy getting this one so perfect. The whole presentation is very slick.

My kit was one of the first off the truck, before the manuals were ready, so I had to guess where to put the cooling opening. There's a nice balsa sheet area around where you see the cut out, so that was my best guess. If this is different from what you see in the manual, please follow the manual.

Aileron Set Up
Sport flyers might think this set up looks wrong because the pushrod is not at a straight angle. The reason we set the pushrod this way is because in 3D we run so much throw that you want the pushrod as straight as you can get it at maximum throw. Bolting it to what appears to be the wrong side of the control horn actually gives you perfect geometry at full deflection.

In a major upgrade 3DHS is now supplying double ball link hardware. Ball links give you smoother, drag free operation, as well as eliminating any slop or looseness in the pushrod system. They are also much easier to set up that the old swivel connectors, You just bolt them on and you're done. I love this upgrade.
Elevator Set Up
Again, it's just a simple dual ball link set up. If you follow the manual, it's really hard, if not impossible to go wrong. The kit comes with hardened allen head bolts and lock nuts, so again it's just a simple bolt together operation.
I used the standard arm that comes with the servo and pegged my end points. This gives me slightly less than bevel to bevel deflection, so it's plenty of throw with no danger of the servo binding. Like the rest of my set up, this comes straight out of the manual. The entire plane is extremely well thought out.

You want your pushrods to be as straight as you can get them, so to achieve this for the elevator. I bolted the ball link to the inside of control horn. The alignment is absolutely perfect, which assures smooth operation and good centering of the control surface.

Ruder Set Up
I'm going to cheat a little here and point you to the picture above because it also gives you a good view of the pull/pull rudder cables. The slots in the fuselage come precut, so it's a simple matter to tuck the loose covering into the slot with a trim iron.

Pull/pull systems are not difficult to set up or maintain. You just need to know a few tricks, and you'll learn those on your own after you do a few of them yourself. The only thing that makes me crazy on pull/pull installations is that's it's not easy to do a clean looking installation. You've got the crimp piece and the wire loop and the extra wire hanging out, and to me I just cringe when I see work like that.

I think I've come up with a decent enough looking solution though. First, I slide the crimp piece very close to the threaded adjuster piece, and I pull the slack wire so tight that the loop you would normally see flattens out against the crimp piece. I crimp, run a little thin CA onto the crimp piece, and once the glue sets up I cover the whole thing with some heat shrink tubing.

It's not perfect, but it looks so much better than having everything exposed that I an reasonably happy with it. I am probably going to always have one of these planes, so I will work on making something even cleaner looking. I have a little bit of OCD on things like this, which always drives me to trying to do things better.

Here's what the cables look like hooked to the servo. You use that standard Hitec HS65MG servo arm that comes with the servo. Again, I got the crimp pieces as close as I could to the connector pieces, got the loop wire as tight as I could and heat shrunk the entire thing to make a neater looking package.

Radio Installation
OK, I admit this part made me a little crazy, but it was expressly my fault. I'm really obsessive about a neat radio installation and while this one came out good, I will continue to tinker with it until I get it pristine enough to quell my OCD, at least a little.

OK, I cheated and reused the picture from the rudder section, but it give you a good view of what you can expect when you put the radio in. The kit comes with a balsa plate you simply glue down on the lower stringers and it makes a nice base for mounting the receiver.

Power System
By now most readers know what's coming next. Of course, it was going to be a Torque and an Airboss.

But of course.

I started my association with Extreme Flight in 2008 representing the Torque and Airboss brands. That's 9 years of absolutely dead solid perfect reliability, so even if something else was recommended, and Torque and Airboss was still going to go into this plane. In this case it's my favorite of all of them, the venerable, versatile and bulletproof Torque 2814. I have flown this motor on 3, 4 and even 5 cells and it's always had great power, smooth running, perfect reliability and it's very own distinct turbine like sound. On 3s it just sounds like a sewing machine, on 4s it's like a turbine engine with the governor taken off and the throttle jammed open. On 5s it lets out a blood curling howl that's frightening to watch.

For those of you who are replacing their older beloved wire geared 48" Edges, or even SHPs, your Omega 130G will bolt right in and work just fine. The Omega 103 will work too, but you might find it to be a little underwhelming.

Worth mentioning is that if you buy the Torque/Airboss power system with your kit as a combo, you save about $70. That drops the price to where the motor is essentially almost free, or to the point the entire power system is very competitively priced with "budget" power systems that won't be nearly as good. If you already have a power system, that's good too, but if you need one for this plane, there's no better way to go than the Torque/Airboss power system combo.

I wanted to mount the ESC on the bottom of the motorbox, but I could not get the deans plug to come out where I wanted it. I may play around with it later, but for now it was essential to get the article finished and get some video in the can and on the net.

As such, I simply mounted it on the side of the motorbox and the deans plug comes into the battery compartment where it is out of the way for battery change out, but perfectly positioned to plug it into the battery.

Battery Placement
It's a little early to say since as of this writing I have not flown the plane. Where you see the battery now puts the CG right on the front of the wing tube, which is traditionally when I like all of my Edges to be. I will adjust fore or aft depending on what it needs, but I am better this is where it's going to live.

As with all my projects, nothing but Thunder Power batteries will do. I still have all my older 3s 2250 Lightning 55C packs, but I did pick up one of the new Elite 55C series batteries because I really need to be flying Thunder Power's latest. I'll be shooting video with this pack, but otherwise I am going to fly my Lightning packs because even after two years of hard use in my SHP, they are still nice and square, have low internal resistance, and give me five minutes of hard flight time.

The wind was so gusty it probably wasn't a good idea to go flying, but I was really looking forward to flying this plane, so I took a shot at it.
Let's get the excuses out of the way first. I built the plane when I was sick, and I missed a few crucial details. I probably should have waited, but I already did that and lost two weeks when the 52" Extra came out, and I wasn't going to let The Boss down again like that.
First, I ended up way too tail heavy, but the plane still flew very reasonable well. This made precision maneuvers a bit difficult, but I can tell it's going to be a terrific plane once I get it dialed in.
I also forgot to jack the end points on one of my ailerons, so one was set at 100% and the other at 140%. I knew what I had done wrong the very first time I rolled the plane, but we were running out of daylight a just kept shooting. I know fixing that it is going to make a totally different plane out of it.

Not that it was bad. In fact, it was exceptionally good considering how badly I had missed the set up. She was sweet and gentle, and very surprisingly, predictable. You might notice the pop tops look pretty lame, but that's a classic sign of too tail heavy. The plane just won't rotate on it's yaw axis like it should. The other ones I have flow pop top like a roulette wheel, so I have every confidence getting the CG right will fix that.
There's not much to say after one flight with a bad set up other than the plane is so good that you just about can't screw it up badly enough to make it fly poorly. This makes it a perfect plane for the new guys who are still learning, or the old dogs who don't pay attention when they are building.
In all, I'm really encouraged by how well it flew in spite of my mistakes, and I've got them all fixed now. We are hoping to shoot some more tomorrow if the weather isn't worse than today. It's supposed to be yukky all the rest of the week, so that could be our last chance for awhile.
EDIT: It turns out I was waaay tail heavy on the first day and that threw everything off so badly it was hard to make a good judgment about any of the plane's characteristics.The big surprise is that it didn't absolutely and totally destroy the plane's good flying qualities. It just wasn't nearly as good as it could be, but we fixed that.

I ended up bolting 1 ounce of flat mag wheel weight to the bottom of the motorbox and that absolutely did the trick and transformed the plane. Now, I can fly it instead of it flying me.

I also replaced the elevator servo because the gears didn't sound very good in the one I had in the plane. Now it operates much more smoothly and doesn't sound like a handful of thumbtacks in a garbage disposal!

With both ailerons now getting full throw, the elevator operating smoothly and the CG at neutral, now I've got a sweet little plane that I can push hard right on the deck. Because it's an Edge, it forgives a lot of sloppy flying, and a few times in the video you can clearly see some sloppy flying.
That's the thing about edges though. If you fly it badly you still probably won't wreck it, or at least you can save it more often than other planes.

I pushed as hard as I could in this video. We had a dead 20mph wind at our backs, but my camera guy Coleman says "This is show business. Suck it up and go." And that's what we did.

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