Adventure Multiplex Panda, Fly the Thing

By Carl Murphy

Flight (10) 11 End of January year 2018 (So.) The wind swirls over the hills and between the apartment buildings where I live, so, I was way off, ninety degrees on the wind direction and half down on the strength. Up in the Tanus Hills, where I expected the wind to be blowing up the saddle, the wind was blowing up a forested hill and back down. Which is normally too turbulent to fly a plane of this type, except that, right at the saddle is a pocket of not much swirl and I’m here. The Panda flew for twelve minutes, just not right and it was quickly evident this is a still air airplane. I’ve been flying a medium speed, way up powered Mentor which responds directly to control inputs, I had to relearn how to fly with just ruder and elevator. Even full stick throw, which seemingly doesn’t do enough, until putting full amps to the Panda.

Flight 12 same day At the nearest slope soaring hill (38) km away. With rain or snow every other day and the winter darkness of this fifty degrees north latitude I’ve been stuck in a tunnel for months, I just had to get out some. This can be a gently slope soaring experience looking out over the valley. Instead the wind is blowing up the slight slope covered with trees, conditions aloft are turbulent, the view under the clouds a thousand feet up clear.   The Panda flew for fifteen minutes, this time using all the down trim the transmitter had and holding the elevator down from stick neutral too.

Flight 13 I marked the elevator for reference, then moved the aileron one tooth at the servo arm. Now it needs all the up trim and some more holding down. The flight went twenty minutes. Considering the unsuitable flying conditions and that the battery still had a third more usable charge there was more to be had.

I put my Reinforced Mentor in the air, what a difference.

I reset the full flying elevator to correct neutral. That (1/16) inch off (about one and a half millimeters) as measured at the leading edge of the full flying stab is likely why the original owner gave up on this Panda although that casting lip at the wings leading edge made it worse too. It is now up for sale or trade.

 

A Multiplex Panda

A True ARF   Easy to Carry Ok to Fly

No Longer In Production  

Conclusion

I could add more rudder and elevator (half an hour, nominal cost), even add in ailerons (two to three hours, thirty to forty bucks, plus forty grams) and more power (an hour or two, fifty to a couple of hundred bucks). But I won’t. They had a near identical RC airplane with from the factory ailerons (also discontinued, although a local store in Rhein-Main has a new one in stock) I won’t be looking for one at any price. Multiplex insisted if it had their name on it that the quality would be up to their high standards, there can’t have been any profit for them with the Panda at what they sold for. Kind of like the Edsel, the Panda didn’t fit a need for when it came out. Unlike the Edsel though (the Edsel may have set the all time record for poor build quality of American cars) the Panda quality was consistently rather better than comparable ARFs. You get what you pay for!

It hasn’t been all that long ago we would have been satisfied with the Multiplex Panda. Except the (not currently available in the USA) Multiplex Fun Man (the brushless Mini Mag) does almost everything better at only slightly more expensive. Way better if you added in the ailerons.

There is a threshold for anything, below which the results aren’t satisfactory. The Panda was a decent value for what they cost, but, Multiplex had to compete with products from others which are cheap stuff. Elapor foam is great, the motor holds up, that is a fine set of folding propeller blades, the servos are the minimum anybody should use, the motor-controller has double the needed capacity and can power far more elaborate stuff…

The Panda is actually a far better airplane than its conceptual predecessors, a carefree, if also thrills free, experience. That was notable, motor off, full throw at the sticks and wait a couple of seconds, hit the amps and it came right around. Count of ten maximum climb and glide back down are the wrong standard for the Panda, hit full amps and let it slowly get up there, pull the amps stick back and glide slowly back down. Figure twenty to thirty minute flights on the motor for an average pilot, more if you know how to fly smooth, use slope lift or thermals. Anything more than an upward loop though and… A Panda can balance on medium slope lift, if you stay out and high as in close the gentle turns (all a Panda can do) are going to be interrupted by hitting the ground. That high lift at low speed wing limits the speed so much that the old standard of climb and dive for maneuvers fails.

I can land a fragile RC airplane in the wind, my experience with landing the Panda may not apply to anybody other than slope pilots. I found the Panda it to be controllable coming in for a landing, under conditions reasonable for flying it at all, provided you had enough lateral room to maneuver. That is characteristic of ruder and elevator, placing the landing isn’t as precise as full house.

This is an original year 2018 article for the Silent Electric Flyers of San Diego.

How the Panda Adventure Began

It rained or snowed forever the winter of years 2017/2018 in the Rhein-Main section of Germany. Folding propeller blades are difficult to source in San Diego California. Thanks to the Internet hobby stores are closing in Germany too, the last stores within bicycle distance are gone. I mostly stayed within a few miles by car or bicycle to home for months.

Late January year 2018 we made a combined hundred mile drive, to buy a comfortable chair, enjoy Italian ice cream creations and coffee at an indoor shopping mall (unusual in Germany, their downtowns, once the place to be, are being increasingly trashed by second and third world immigrants) ponder an electric motor assisted bicycle, visit relatives and find the small parts without which you don’t have a RC flying machine, on the south side of Rhein-Main most of an hour’s drive away at one of the few old style RC flying hobby shops. The original intention was folding propeller blades for my Reinforced Mentor and a “Y” cable as I can’t get the medium range (single antenna) receiver of my Graupner MC-12 to bind two servo outputs for the ailerons although the long range receiver (two antennas) does.

I’ll admit, I enjoyed socializing with the owner and a couple of customers while laying hands on RC flying stuff that afternoon. He was surprised that a standard Fun Cub, using the tuning (135) gram HiMax outrunner, that by just switching to a 9X6 fixed propeller and changing the motor-controller to run 5S LiPos that a ten second, straight up, burst takes three minutes (in still air near sea level) to glide back down. Don’t pull back on the elevator much at that thrust though. My latest Reinforced Fun Cub uses a NeuMotors 1105/3Y with a 4.4:1 gear box. Performance with either 13X8 on 3S LiPos or 12X6.5 folding propeller blades on 4S LiPos is outstanding!

Out of production, factory assembled from Multiplex, the new price for a Panda was Euro125/$150-. Near new in box, put a receiver and battery in it to go fly, was a (rudder, elevator and motor, folding propeller) Multiplex Panda (ARF) for Euro75/90-, used. Along with two sets of folding propeller blades for the Reinforced Mentor (down from the intended five sets at ten to fifteen bucks a set) and an unexpected (slightly used) outrunner for the Reinforced Mentor (Euro20/$25-), the Panda left with me. I’d been wanting the with ailerons version including the Simulator and radio package, except, expletive deleted, they didn’t pay me for working June and August the summer of year 2017. Money wise, as the Germans put it, I had hung out the window.

Almost killed in a wreck now twenty-one years ago, I want to live some in the now, even if it is something small.

The (also out of production) Merlin (available during the Easy Star (I) era) was too small (see the archived SEFSD article). The Fun Star II (with ailerons) was the better, although four times as big and half as fast. I didn’t need another RC airplane, I just felt like it. And the store only had a Radio Ready (RR) Twin Star II at way more money than I could afford.

What did I Get?

With usable daylight still an hour away, I started up another episode of Kojack (overdubbed in German, I’m watching the series in the order they came out) and took a better look. Humm, some dirt under the through the nose cooling air spinner. Some wrinkle at the factory installed decals of the left wing root. This RC airplane has had some use.

The most important five or ten minutes of a foam airplanes preparation, sand the casting flash off of the wings leading edge!

What a handy quick release to remove the wings for transport. Even better, as the slack at the wing roots add over use the ratchet tightens up. Continuing a general sand over, every time I pulled another perfectly applied by the factory decals off there was more evidence of too hard landings.

That aluminum spar goes half the wingspan lengths, at the abrupt end of rigidity a “hinge” will develop. If I may note, this is a minimum performance and minimum price airframe. The newest RC airplanes from Multiplex they extend the wing spars past the servo pockets so far out that additional reinforcement is no longer required. Here in Rhein-Main though, landing on mud still is, my RC airplanes all have coated, or painted, wing undersides.

After pulling the decals off of the horizontal stabilizator halves their trailing edges has a lip, off it came with sandpaper and I worked over the leading edges to really round too.

Looking in this Panda has a Multiplex Permax (their house brand) motor. If you remove the motor (that takes one to two minutes) it’s a half an hour coaxing the motor back in, for now I left it in there after improving with tape keeping the three motor leads from rubbing on the motor. The folding Multiplex 7X4 blades, modern ones with sturdy (6) mm hinges, look perfect.

Two new Multiplex Nano servos, which are probably the same as HiTek HS-55s with longer leads. They are way better them most AFRs come with. You get what you pay for, twelve bucks new which performs well and lasts, verses three for near junk. From flying the Fun Man and Fun Cub with the same servos they have an expectancy in this application of three hundred flights, maybe as much as five hundred.

It has a modern Multiplex motor-controller with the 2-4S LiPo capability which at (20) amps capacity is way more than needed. Unfortunately, set up with (2.5) mm bullet connectors. They likely came with the, almost forgotten, six pin green connectors, likely the first owner set them up with (2.5) mm bullet connectors (what most motors come with) I converted to the Sermos type to match the available batteries.

Amps times Volts is Watts-in. For an ordinary sport outrunner on 3S LiPos, a nominal no load voltage of (12.2), an estimate is (0.65) efficiency for Watts-out. That is on the high side for nominal quality sport out-runners run on 3S, it is probably more like (0.60) when actually configured for flight. Many other manufactures the bearings give out at twenty flights, even better sport motors better check the power draw now and then as somewhere out past fifty flights all but competition quality motors the bearings have likely started rubbing enough to push the power draw up and the thrust down. Censorship by omission, with the seldom encountered exception of those flying competition, that efficiency, that cheap stuff doesn’t function as well as real equipment, is just left out.

The very best of the outrunners max out at (0.84)% or so efficiency. For reference, similar sized helicopter motors which are going to be run geared at high rpm, and so must be built better and cost several times as much as motors intended to turn a propeller (you can feel the individual magnets as you turn them over) from Hacker and Scorpion are rate as up to (0.80) and then only with a really good match to the load.

Three ten year old LiPos with an average of (25) flights of use. They fit and make balance.

3S 1000 mAh LiPo   (5.7) amps at (11.0) volts              (63) watts-in   (41) watts-out

3S 1000 mAh LiPo (5.9) amps at (11.2) volts               (66)                   (43)

3S 1000 mAh LiPo (5.9) amps at (11.2) volts               (66)                   (43)

 

Modern, way to big and heavy 3S LiPos for reference

3S 2600 mAh LiPo 6.4 amps at 12.1 volts                    (77) watts-in  (50) watts-out

3S 2400 mAh LiPo 6.4 amps at 12.0 volts                   (76)                    (50)

 

Modern high “C” discharge LiPos, even in the smaller size for the Panda, might provide the same under load power as these too big ones, that’s why the check. Ya got to watch that converting things, if the system were on the edge of maximum load, any changes, such as putting in more powerful batteries can push it over the edge into failure. Set the lead of the motor-controller correctly (just put it on automatic) and using modern batteries can result in a one fifth increase in power draw and an even bigger increase in flight performance.

 

A ten second full amps load followed by a rest and then twenty seconds at full amps didn’t more than just warm up the motor on the bench. Power draw on the bench is higher than in the air and in the air there is better cooling.

 

In case you were wondering, a brushed speed 400, run on (6) NiCads delivered (30) watts-out (that was the original specification by Multiplex for the half again larger Easy Star (I)) at fifty percent efficiency at (100) grams. The first edition Mini-Mag/Fun Man used the same motor on (7) cells. The limit for the (6) volt version was about (8) NiMh cells for (50) watts-out, which is what I flew Zaggie flying wings, the brushed Easy Star (I), and at first my Mini Mags. We’ve come a long way!

 

(249)  grams   The as received fuselage plus tail assembled without receiver or battery, otherwise ready to fly After repairs/improved with thin fiberglass that went to (284) grams or plus (35) grams. A better choice would be to set it up correctly in the first place and not crash as much. If I had a second one I wouldn’t do but a couple of coats of clear on everything to seal the mud out, a one inch across the front of the wings and the whole elevator top and bottom with lightest fiberglass and some recognition paint for more like plus fifteen grams.

(126)  grams as received 2X wings         

After hardening, the complete lower surface, with thin fiberglass (139) grams and spraying some red on the underside, some decals removed.

There is room in there for a bigger motor (bad idea), and two pockets already cast into the tail for balance weights, if required. The wing is under-cambered indicating a low (by outdoor standards) to at maximum medium speed flight. With minimal “V” to the wing though, I have my doubts about ruder, motor and elevator only.

Me, slope soaring, I prefer rudder and ailerons plus any motor.

Internet Research

Multiplex RC, be that Deutschland or USA (Poway CA) no longer manufactures the Panda. There are offers to sell off remaining stock in the Internet for as low as a hundred Euros delivered. There was almost no information about building and flying them except on You Tube. After ten pages of search all I could find was a Limey forum about initial experience with them back in year 2104 before it went into languages I can’t read. There was mention of an aileron conversion by owners.

Re-Assembly

I took a couple of hours cleaning up the casting holes, each time I removed a factory applied decal I found more evidence of moderately rough landings. The fuselage is bent at the middle of the wing root, the tail not on square.

I’ve done fiberglass “scab” on reinforcement hundreds of times. Either as clear fiberglass two component resins (which soon turn yellow) or clear hardwood flooring paint. The next morning, for the first time, I tried using brown water based hardwood flooring paint. Although I have no doubt it secured the fiberglass to the foam, it resulted in the worst looking paint on the fuselage I have ever done. Wiping it down with mud and painting over it with clear would look better. In the past, a common comment about my RC airplanes was, they look like censored. Up until this mistake that was a result of use and repairs. Four layers of (25) gram per meter squared ((3/4) ounce per square foot) fiberglass over the wing root, a double layer over the tail, a single layer over the nose. Sand it and it goes smooth. Each successive coat covers more of the compression valleys.

Watch it painting Elapor. Some of the easily available hot fuel proof spray paints react with the foam, swelling up a previously smooth surface. And gloss paints make the foam cells, plus cast in molds low and medium density foam isn’t fiberglass smooth (that changes with the Heron, Solius and Fun Man, they are slick) visually stand out. I use a good grade of standard spray paint, but that adds weight, more than many pilots realize. You get one try to paint Elapor, after that no amount of sanding to change colors will make it look good. I have an awful looking Acromaster I bought used and tried to change the color’s of I learned that. When I redid a used Twin Star II I knew what was going to happen.

If I may quote a hero of mine, George Carlin, nobody ever uses the word censored literally. Well, get mud on Elapor and the stains in between the foam cells will outlast the airframe. Some foam airplanes, as repairs to dents have made additional fiberglass necessary, even over already applied fiberglass there is no better choice but to accept carrying around encased mud. I was hopping the brown paint would mask that. Considering that they ride horses where I fly in Rhein-Main, maybe, modesty precludes me from admitting…

The wings were fiberglassed the entire bottom (clear this time) and just over the leading edges. The horizontal stabilizator over both top and bottom. The fiberglass cloth weights (25) grams per square meter ((3/4) ounce per square yard) about double that including the quick drying (use a hair dryer) paint.

My standard red recognition spray paint was applied. Yellow will have to wait. I’ve been stuck around the house by short daylight, rain and snow for a couple of months now. I wanted to go fly!

All together about six hours (two hours and four hours) of preparation for (my) first flight. It’s just a guess, the previous owner put ten flights on it. The curse of instant gratification, maybe I should have let this one go to somebody else.

As ARF, before crashes and repairs, a Panda weights (375) grams plus (10) grams for the receiver and (90) grams for the batteries I used.

After my repairs and additions for mud and abrasion that put the all up flying weight at (423) grams plus (10) grams for the receiver and (90) grams for the battery. With repairs, flight ready, my Panda weighs (520) grams. That’s a couple of ounces over a pound. Too heavy to slope soar above the beach in Long Beach California, an otherwise ideal place to fly a Panda, where, when I last flew there decades ago they had a twelve ounce weight limit.

Small Flies Well, If

If you get the elevator set wrong, a sixteenth of an inch at the elevators leading edge is all it takes, and so try to fly out of shape, before you learn to hit the amps so the tail control surfaces take action, A Panda is soon junk. Almost as bad, that ugly lip at the leading edge (the casting flash) makes for serious pitch problems.

In truth a Panda set up correctly and flown well, durability should be great. I didn’t have the interest or patience to get my usual minimum for a report of fifty flights on my Panda. The power, at least at near sea level, is just right, exactly the thrust on to maintain control if it gets bumpy up there without the, oh expletive deleted if it were more powerful as it would accelerate faster than the control inputs could correct for. The Panda is quiet, often people don’t even notice it. I suspect no matter how much you increased the control surfaces, no matter how much more power, a Panda would still would only be for cruising around.

There was the Multiplex Merlin, about half the Panda size, which moved right along. I didn’t fly mine much, nor did the equally proficient friend who had three of them, of which he gave me two. We did have a fine time flying ARF flying wings fast though.

On the Minimum

You wanted something faster(?), you wanted something aerobatic(?), get something else. You wanted cheaper(?), good luck, the Panda was the minimum which performed as expected and held up.

Low Cost Per Flight, Low Thrill Per Flight and Carefree

If you paid a hundred and fifty bucks for the Radio Ready version Panda, add twenty five bucks for two batteries, converted over to modern connectors and flew the Panda a hundred flights (a reasonable expectation of no wear and tear or repairs) that figures out too as little as two bucks a flight. Way low, that’s four bucks an hour. Carefree flying, if no thrill.

If you land on sandpaper, such as San Diego’s Mission Bay, and don’t have the skill to “index” the folding propeller to horizontal, good luck finding replacements for those effective Multiplex 7X4 folding propeller blades. In Rhein-Main we use Aero-Naut or Graupner blades, easily available for ten bucks. Try Discount Hobbies in San Diego. At the Panda’s light weight and low speed, landing on grass, the propeller blades would likely outlast a hundred flights as hitting a stone on landing on grass sets their service limit in a Panda. When you somehow beat it up, or tire of, the Panda the servos and that good motor-controller can go in the next airframe, or two. With the relative low amp draw even cheap LiPos might go fifty flights, maybe less. Buy better batteries and that improves quite a bit. To keep that in perspective, a comparable Easy Star II, twice as large an airplane with ailerons, figures out to more like five bucks a flight.

To keep things in perspective;

The USA Government allows me to deduct about half a buck for a mile I drive when doing business. I keep accurate records, in fact that’s what it costs me. In Rhein-Main, the actual net cost is half a Euro to drive a km. To get to the nearest place to fly a Panda (Reinforced Fun Cub, Reinforced Twin Star II) is just (2) km, so two bucks round trip. An eight minute drive up a steep hill to a tree lined ridge of mixed fields surrounded with forest, no traffic at all. The nearest farm field to fly a Reinforced Mentor or Easy Star II is (8) km away, eight bucks. Twenty minutes, lots of twists and turns threading through a medium sized city. So, a smaller airplane, or at least reasonable for there (Reinforced Fun Cub) has a place in my inventory.

For new RC Pilots, we have the going for a drink in a Guest House equivalent. That costs Euro4/five bucks in Rhein-Main. Where I live, (1200) steeps up a steep hill, there is no place to get off the street and gather. That hill is so steep, I almost, but not quite, never see anybody walk up it. So, figure in Euro2,80/$3.25-, for at least back up the hill. I routinely ride a bicycle for six hours, then take the train and bus home, the bike goes on board for no additional price. It has never occurred to me to take a bus to where to fly a Panda, however, with its small shoebox size and a backpack it would work out fine.

I test flew my Merlin in Carlsbad California on the far side of the highway from where some fly slope, in a field several hundred yards long by a hundred yards wide, bounded by railroad tracks, housing, and Pacific Coast Highway, a Panda would be relaxing to fly there. If I have nothing specific to do (my occupation includes lengthily periods of just wait) and nowhere specific to be, I often wind up at San Elijo State Beach, just a few miles away, so getting there to fly the cost of the drive is minimal. The Panda there is about the upper size and speed usable though, an Easy Star II would be pushing your luck. I’ve flown a Reinforced Easy Star II, they are really agile, that site didn’t do it for me for that airplane. Although a Panda could be slope soared there above the beach at PCH and Palomar Airport Road, that asphalt landing slide into a chain link fence would soon trash a Panda, even mine with extra armor. Land on the beach and that nifty front air inlet, and the motor, and eventually the servos, would fill with salty sand.

I landed a Wanderer in the ocean off of Point Loma a couple of decades ago, by running the receiver battery dead. If there were a next time instead of swimming out to get the pieces I’ll just wave goodby. That may have come to an end, drones have people on edge, I was run out of there last spring flying a Reinforced Twin Star II. Otherwise, sitting there on a park bench would be a nice location for flying a Panda. I got run out of Solana Beach too…

At Mission Bay, spend the additional money for something bigger, such as an Easy Glider Pro. The same recommendation for Rhein-Main.

As always, if you didn’t already have the rest of the stuff, just buy the Multiplex package and go have a good time. There was exactly one reason why I didn’t try Multiplex RR Plus package which included a radio and the (simple) simulator.

The Ultimate in a Progression of Similar

Thinking back the Panda reminded me of some RC airplanes of the past.

Such as the original Multiplex Easy Star (rudder, glued in brushed speed 400 motor and elevator, motor up high and in back, EPP) with (30) watts-out. The Panda has three times the power to weight plus drag (just fine as is actually) in two thirds the assembled size, is considerably quieter and despite the motor in front not as fragile due to its medium size, as you might at first suspect.

Or the Graupner Terry, in fragile styropore, on a speed 400, motor in front, ruder and elevator. Assembly took two hours, another hour taping the leading edges. Tap the ground with one of them and that was that, Rhein-Main (54) flights, SoCal (38) flights.

Or even a Wanderer fitted with a brushed speed 500, forty hours initial build followed by endless repairs. Great, back when that’s what we had.

But a Zaggie on a speed 400 was more fun, average eight hours to assemble, the better first and second trainer (if the pilot accepted it, not always the case) and just as durable.

My Wanderer, flown on the slope, at least as well I as I remember from two and a half decades ago, was about as agile as a Panda. Fly it long enough, repair its fragile balsa, spruce, glues and iron on covering after nearly every flying session, eventually you became “one” with it. I way up motored my Easy Star (I)s (on eight cells a speed 400 put out (50) watts-out for a hundred flights. Mine had 1105s for (300) watts on APC fixed 6X3 propellers. The brushless motors weren’t worn out after the average (350) flights the airframes withstood, with the six inch prop they howled, by just enlarging the rudder we had a blast with them. My limited experience with the Easy Star II in brushless was way positive too.

Get an Easy Star II Instead

The Panda isn’t as much fun to fly, not near as much as the slightly more expensive and way more durable Easy Star II. Both of them are easy to remove the wings and carry, even if the fixed on tail of the Easy Star II is harder to manage, the Panda breaks sets up and breaks down into its purchase box faster than it takes to tell.

The Easy Star II is a beginners airplane. With that protected by being up high and behind the wing motor, they are still a little noisy, although the change to an eight inch propeller helped quite a bit. The Panda is an intermediate RC airplane, you must already know how to fly and land. The Twin Star II is the better second trainer, abet far more expensive and several times bigger. As a stunt, I flew my Reinforced Twin Star II in a school gymnasium once, they are that agile. A second trainer might be the second, third, forth, fifth or more airplane, they are for after you learn to land without bashing the nose in.

But why try getting a sheep to dance when you can get a goat that already knows how? What happened to flying wings? You can thermal an Easy Star II, by leaving a couple of amps on, about the same for the Panda. Slope soaring, um, learn to fly first, then get something else.

At least the Panda was (they have been discontinued) easy to carry around and notably quiet. It’s kind of like flying a kite without a string. Durability was probably ok, odd, bending the fuselage was a weak link. That incremental attachment of the wing halves, letting you take up the slack as it developed, functioned well. I learned to fly on the slope (wind, how do you fly without it?) so, I flew my Panda under conditions only a fool would. Although with a grassy field in the lee of the wind to land on.

If you just wanted to steer an RC airplane around a Panda is ok.

The Old Stuff and Cheap Are Worse

I can’t remember the name of it anymore, back about year 1995 I expended forty hours building up an aileron trainer for the slope which was equally unimpressive. I lucked out trading it after just a few flights. As the (then) current F5B world champion who test flew it described it; You built it right, it flies fine, it’s a dull airplane.

Year 2007, that fifteen sized “standard” on brushless, ruder and elevator I finished up from a partially built up kit from balsa and spruce woods converting it to ailerons and brushless electric power, which I started getting bored with during the first flight, comes to mind too. The new owner thought it a fine flyer.

There was what I called “The Cheap Star” in speed 400. Wondering why the servo response almost quit when I disassembled the servos at two hours of flight the gear teeth had worn off. By the time you futzted with it, they flew but only just, in terms of enjoyment for what you spent, you’d have been better off with a Multiplex Easy Star.

Two years ago a friend bought new, a nice looking scale detailed from Horizon Hobbies scale, in EPP, one meter wingspan P-51D Mustang for about what a Panda cost. It really looked like the real thing, at least until the paint came off. Performance on the stock motor and propeller was just to have a scale WWII fighter in the air, for just a few minutes on a 3S 2200 mAh LiPo. I worked it over trying to improve it. First, replace the cheap servos, they were too dangerous. With just a few flights on it the motor (same as the Horizon Hobbies Apprentice) just wasn’t doing it, the bearings were already giving out. In went a HiMax (135) gram motor out of a Blizzard, the bearings in poor shape from a hard stall burying the nose to the wing. Clean off some of the make it scale (on the ground) stuff, round the leading edges with fiberglass. With a decent propeller it flew ho hum. Too heavy and too scale, too hard to improve, if we wanted a scale P-51 we’d best start over with something else our conclusion. I have a tuning motor for the Apprentice which would bolt right in, sitting there in SoCal, why bother the conclusion. It was set aside after just ten flights.

We had something fast and semi-scale, the Multiplex Dog Fighter. It was too fast and too agile for our reflexes.

Well, the Panda is a whole lot better than the DT-760 I wasted a hundred bucks on at the start of year 2017 (cheep junk, the servos dangerously so, the motor worn out at twenty flights, to heavy) and more useful then the used Gemini I worked over (more time setting it right then just starting with a new kit, except there aren’t any more) only to discard it after just one flight due to too much wrong and the foam warping last spring. See the archives of the Silent Electric Flyers of San Diego for the reports.

But I’d rather spend more and get more in this year 2018.

So much for the trying to improve the Panda’s somewhat fragile fuselage, I wasted my time as I’m not going to fly this one out. A guess is that full flying horizontal stabilizator, with that nifty way to easily remove the blades for transport, required centering adjustments too fine for the original owner. That’s a problem with smaller airplanes, a beginner can’t see the fine adjustments, often their RC airplanes are set up wrong.

An estimate, partly from experience with the related Multiplex Merlin, puts the reasonable service life of a stock Panda at way over a hundred flights. The limit may be that this one needed a spar down the middle of the fuselage, the pilot has to have the self restraint and skill to use it correctly, the Panda isn’t a beginners airplane. For durability, at the expense of a higher purchase price and more weight, the Panda is made from a medium density of Elapor foam, that thin leading edge is still vulnerable though. Only experience will determine when the bearings of the motor start giving out, at the low rpm as configured for the Panda though that might be many hours of lazily doing figure eights while your thoughts wander.

Who’s Panda, What Panda, Where the expletive deleted do I Get Rid of It?

Who do I lay this Reinforced Panda off on and get some of my hundred bucks back out of it? Some old guy, who already knows how to fly and just wants to fly circles? Throw in the old LiPos as part of the deal… Anybody with video game experience will have fits with a Panda, the lag between control input and response (we used to need that) with the motor off is too much for today. I had to relearn it!

Even the Easy Star II suffers from lag too much for some beginners. Most of my Reinforced stuff I can put on a real show for people watching, not the Panda. A comment from an observer with considerable RC flight experience; “I thought it was pretty good you flying the little one at all under these conditions, until that big one (my way bigger Reinforced Mentor with double the stock power) went straight up.

Pull the servos (Multiplex/HiTek Nano/HS-55s good for hundreds of flights), motor-controller, motor and propeller for use in other airplanes, then hang it on the wall?

I was going through my stuff, realizing that the fixed lead, old production Castle Creations motor-controller might work well with putting my NeuMotors geared down 1105 into a Gemini biplane, when I realized I’d put a (40) gram Hacker outrunner (wore the bearings out in half the time overrating it on 4S LiPos when the manufacture rates it for 2s and 3S LiPos) in it. After reviewing my notes, the servos were pulled and the rest returned to the store I bought it used from to give to somebody as used parts.

As the Germans put it: Nobody (nothing) is completely useless, they (it) can always serve as a bad example.

End