The Ones We Left Behind
The flight logbook of my late Freewing Bubles is quite an interesting reading matter. A considerable series of mishaps and crude repairs earned me the feedback of a fellow pilot, that this airplane model consisted of more UHU-Por (UHU’s special glue for hard foams) than ELAPOR (foam material). Albeit dented and twisted, and with its aerodynamic cleanness long gone, this little racing glider of only 800 mm wingspan made an excellent trainer and fun flyer at exorbitant value for the money. It was my only model I dared to fly from the backyard of my house, saving me the trouble of commuting to the airfield.
However, doom was spelled for the Bubles these days, when a stupid pilot’s error made it disintegrate to a pile of debris beyond repair. (Please note: The picture above was taken on the occasion of the second but last crash, when only the rudder and the gears of the rudder servo were destroyed by a landing accident ending with a somersault.)
„Le roi est mort, vive le roi!“ – Replacement is urgently needed. Now that the Bubles has gone, what will come next? – Another Bubles? – No, I do not think so. I always could have done with a little bit more wing span and better gliding properties. And due to the fact that the Bubles is no longer available on the market, this issue is settled anyway. My earlier investigations about her pedigree (see Kennen Sie Bubles?, German only) revealed the fact, that the Bubles is very much the same as the Multiplex Merlin and the Hobby King Kinetic 800, not from the same manufacturer or distributor but out of the same moulds. But those have disappeared from the shops as well. So let’s look for someting else.
Freewing does not really seem to be into gliders anymore, but Multiplex’s product line picks up the slack. Browsing through their glider family from small to large, starting where the Merlin used to be, might be a good plan. The first in line is the Panda. Its wingspan of 1160 mm is exactly what I mean with „a little bit more“. But no sooner than when I put it into the shopping basket I realise that it has no ailerons and that it is a pure beginners‘ model. No match for the Bubles nor the Merlin. No, thanks!
Next is the FunGlider. We have now reached 1300 mm. Just judging by the numbers, the FunGlyder is a bit oversize for the purpose. But the feature list makes it a perfect replacement, or should we better say „upgrade“ in this case.
There are only RR-Kits available at the shops around here. I don’t like those „ready-to-fly“ things (see Multiplex Heron – The Unboxing). The two RRs I’ve bought so far (PC-6 and Heron) were IMHO excellent kits devaluated in the assembly by mediocre craftsmanship and the lack of foresight. The Multiplex guys just wouldn’t place the components, the wires and even the stickers where I want them to be. And they usually do this with determination and excessive amounts of hot glue and other „steady as a rock“ adhesives. But I want the FunGlider now. Take it or leave it. At least the shopping list remains rather short that way:
- 1 Multiplex RR FunGlider, Artikel-Nr.: 264273
- 1 Lemon Rx DSMX compatible 6-channel receiver with diversity antenna
- 1 ePower EXP LiPo 950mAh 11.1V 35C battery
- 1 pair of XT60 connectors
The spares box offers a Lemon Rx DSMX 6-channel, a Spektrum AR6210 and an AR8000 at no cost, the latter two including one satellite receiver. With the AR8000 being too bulky and the AR6210 with the antennas and pins pointing at the wrong direction, the decision is easy.
The receiver goes to the inner wall on the port (left hand) side, right aft of the rudder servo. I use the velcro tape that came with the FunGlider kit to fasten it there. The two antenna wires emerge from the receiver to opposite direcions, one points at the nose and the other one goes towards the tail with the antenna tip pointing sideways (lateral axis) for diversity. The orange plastic tube protects the forward facing antenna and keeps it in position. (Addendum 02.10.2017: I removed the tube and moved the antenna some millimetres upwards into the gap between the ELAPOR wall and the grey plastic frame.) The rear antenna is not visible on this picture.
I don’t use the recommended Multiplex-battery. Instead I buy myself an ePower EXP battery which, according to the figures below, is smaller, 30 grams lighter and provides better performance at half the price.
|Battery Benchmark||MPX FX 3/1-950||ePower EXP|
|dimensions (mm)||35 x 20 x 73||26 x 19 x 73|
|discharge current, permanent (A)||24||33|
|discharge current, burst (A)||48||66|
|charge current (A)||2||3|
|shop price excl. p & p (CHF)||36.-||21.-|
The ePower battery comes with a red JR connector wheras the controller is equipped, inevitably so for a Multiplex product, with a green one of the MPX variety. Which one am I going to replace? Both of them are „wrong“. Flying Tom’s standards demand XT60, the yellow ones.
There is plenty of room in the battery compartment. The battery is snuggled here to the starboard wall in an unsuccessfull attempt to compensate unbalanced weight distribution of the wings (see chapter Balance below).
With the smaller battery and the lightweight Lemon receiver installed, I’m prepared to add some few grams of ballast to the nose to make up for reduced weight. But to my utter surprise, the FunGlider turns out to be completely nose-heavy in this configuration. No less than 10 grams have to be added to the tail to bring the cg back to the specified 57 mm. – What’s wrong!? – My delayed lection of the manual brings to light, that this is exactly what you are supposed to do: Add trim weight to the fin. There are two holes there to serve the purpose. The kit provides 24 grams of ballast balls in different sizes and even some white stickers to cover up the holes. – RTFM!
I’m not using the fine-grained Multiplex ballast. Two solid 5-gram chunks of wheel balancing lead bought at the car accessories shop will do the trick. These don’t need any adhesive and will keep the FunGlider from rattling like a sidewinder.
When laying on the belly for a balance check, my sample of the FunGlider tilts down quite heavily to the port wing side (before it was painted!). 3.5 grams on the starboard wing tip are necessary to keep it level. Weight distribution seems to be uneven. Weighing the wings will not clarify the matter as the wing joint mechanism is not symmetrical on both halves. Moving the battery to the rightmost position in the fuselage does not help. I hope that trimming the ailerons will be sufficient to deal with this.
The RR-FunGlider’s standard decoration pattern of white, grey and red is quite appealing. It is a little bit on the pale side, however, and from a distance the upper and lower surfaces look pretty much the same. I prefer bolder and more distinct schemes that let you tell by the colors which side of the airplane you are looking at. This might save you the day when flying close to the limits of vision.
Sometime I’ll remove the deco stickers from the wings and spray some large red shapes onto the topsides. I hope these things will come off without destroying the surfaces. Again, if you’re not willing to use it as it comes, do not buy the RR version. (By the way: I haven’t even started griping about the hot glue mess I found in the battery compartment …)
Addendum 04.10.2017: „Sometime“ is today. As expected, the surfaces need smoothening. I use 120 and 320 grain to sand off tenacious adhesive residues. No joke, sanding a foam model is new to me. The final results plainly show, that the few extra bucks (in CHF) for an original Multiplex ELAPOR spray can were a good investment. Just compare the brilliance of the semi-gloss red with the remainder of original pale scheme on the tail! This picture was taken on a rainy day with heavy overcast and no direct sunlight, as you can tell by the absence of shadows. Plain white unpainted foam and some black logos prevail on the lower surfaces. Rudder and elevator will get their red shapes sprayed on next „sometime“.
It’s raining. Can’t wait for the maiden flight …