Review; Hobby Zone Champ R/C airplane

I bought this R/C plane on Amazon for $89.95 Using my wife’s “Prime” account, so shipping was free.

Hobby Zone Champ RTF

This plane comes with the radio a charger and one battery. It also comes with 8 AA batteries for the charger and the Radio.

Construction: Overall the rest of the plane is pretty well built. The construction is of foam moldings. Then painted. The fuselage upper and lower halves are taped together with a clear tape. If you need to get inside you should cut the tape then re-tape it together. If you try to remove the tape you will pull the color off. There is some reinforcing tape on top and bottom of the Horizontal stabilizer. This is also the elevator hinges. There is another strip along the leading edge of the wing. This plane takes knocks and bangs pretty well. Its light weight and slow speeds really help to limit damage in those inevitable crashes. Parts are readily available if something does break! The pushrods from the servos are carbon fiber rods with piano wire attached at both ends. They appear to be attached with very small heat shrink.

Construction issues: The Stickers (fake aircraft numbers on top of and bottom of the wing) on the plane were not properly installed and had numerous air pockets. I flew the plane before deciding to fix this issue. I did not notice any flight problems, but this small of plane takes very little airflow disturbance to make big performance or handling changes. I have now fixed the stickers by using a needle to pop the air bubbles then chase the air to the puncture. The stickers are still not as smooth as they should be but better than they were. My brother bought one of these before I did. His stickers were pretty smooth and did not need any work. A friend also bought one and his stickers were also good.

Radio: It is a 2.4GHz transmitter using DSM2. This is a very common radio protocol for these small planes. “Binding” is accomplished by turning the Radio on first, then plugging in the flight battery to the airplane. It is a 4 channel TX and has trims on all four channels. It has an ergonomic style like a PlayStation controller. It uses 4 AA batteries. The default rate is high rate but you can change it to low rate by pushing down on the right stick until the radio beeps. This Radio can be bound to other planes, but you will have to remember to center the trims before you fly.

Charger: This also uses 4 AA batteries. It is designed so that you can charge in the field without needing a power outlet. It is a “2C” charger. In other words it charges the 150ma battery in about 1/2 hour. The LED will be solid red while charging, it then starts slow flashing when it is topping off the battery. When the light is solid off then the battery is completely charged. You can use the battery when it has switched to slow flashing, it will not fly for as long.

Battery advice: I recommend that you let a battery sit for several minutes after charging and again after the flight before charging. You will get the longest life span from your battery if you follow this advice. Also you should not store fully charged batteries for long periods of time. If you need to store them for more than several days then about half discharge them. The voltage is best at about 3.85v. But if you have no way to test that then just fly it for about three minute a battery and put them away.

Ok so how did it fly?

flying;

Liked; The Champ is a 3 channel plane. It has Rudder Elevator and motor control. Rudder and Elevator are on the Right stick with the throttle on the left stick (mode 2). The champ is a very good flying model. It glides very well at power off, the prop spins as there is no brake function. It will fly level best at about 30% to 40% power. It will fly for 6+ minutes. Take offs are very strong at full throttle, and it is off in about 5 to 7 feet with no wind. It hand launches with a very light straight toss. At full power (and full rates) it will loop de loop. This plane is not, however, an aerobatic plane. It is a nice gentle flyer. Landings can be very smooth if you leave just a bit of throttle on at approach then cut it at touchdown. My plane needed a lot of down trim to fly level without porpoise and stalling. There are “U” bends in the control rods so that you can perform manual adjustments.

Disliked; The only problem I found was at full power. It becomes a handful at full throttle. The thrust angle is pretty extreme on the motor/prop. This causes the plane to climb at a high alpha angle. The plane tends to porpoise as it climbs then stalls. It also pulled left at full power. To get a smoother climb I held down elevator and right rudder and backed the throttle off about 20%. The down and side angles (thrust angles) need to be less so the plane will fly more stably and straight during full power flight.

Overall: I like this little plane. As long as you try to fly it in light or no wind you will have a very good day of flying. If you want to get your youngster a R/C plane then this might be the plane to start with. If you always wanted to try R/C this might also be the plane for you to start with. It’s light weight and small motor mean no damage to anyone or anything. The package has everything you need to try flying. I do recommend you buy some extra batteries. That half hour wait between flights is just too long!

Richard

Notes: The thrust angles really could use improvement in this model. It needs less down thrust (this would stop the high alpha flight and porpoise) and more right thrust (to pull the plane right) to make it closer to neutral under full power. Improving these angles would improve the entire flight envelope. When I open up the fuselage in the future I will see what can be done to change the thrust angles.

The controller for this plane can control any four channel, or less, DSM2 R/C airplane. The “binding” procedure is very simple. Turn on the radio then turn on the plane. You will have to center the digital trims. The best way to trim if you are using multiple planes on one controller is to manually trim each airplane. Trim the plane in the air. Then check the control surface deflection. Center the trim, then manually adjust the surface back to the position it was in. You should be able to get the trims very close. This way you do not have to reset the aid rafts trims each time you want to fly a different model.

Repairs for damage can be easily made with clear cellophane tape. The paint over the foam will crack when the foam is damaged. The tape holds everything together without adding substantial weight.

Edit: We flew the scamps again today 8/17/14. I made a mechanical adjustment to the elevator trim, then centered the digital trim. Improved the flights a bit. Then moved the elevator and rudder pushrods in one hole. Made a huge difference in the flights, especially under full power. Much more control. Still needed to feed in down elevator under full power but no where near as much as before. Porpoise and stalls almost gone now. The thrust angle still could use some tweaking, overall, much better flying now! The pulling left under full power was dramatically improved also. My rudder is a few degrees left trim for level flight. Adjusting the thrust angle right a bit more would allow the rudder to be centered. So a bit less down thrust and a bit more right would probably improve this planes overall performance under full power. All three planes had similar issues under full throttle.