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THE SPEED 400 ME 163C KOMET

Damage resistant aerobatic Speed 400 pusher prop foam model.

Excellent for flat, slope and instant flying.

MY FAVOURITE PLANE

 

WHY A KOMET?

At a recent flying event, it became obvious to me that a fun "utility" plane was long overdue and so I bought a foam Komet from S & B Models. Now I know a lot of you have one of these but - for those of you who haven't, I thought this short article might inspire you to buy one. A friend asked "what do you get for your money?" I knew from watching many of these fly that "You get a plane with the equation right!".

BENEFITS

  • Mostly EPP, very resilient, very damage resistant
  • The bits that can break are down the back or are well protected in the EPP nose
  • Flies well - VERY aerobatic
  • Excellent at the flat field
  • Excellent for when the wind drops at the slope
  • Excellent for "instant flying" on the way home from work - no assembly required at the field
  • Excellent for combat

THE PLANE (as I fly it)

  • Came Almost Ready to Cover (ARC) - I used coloured adhesive tape
  • 40 inch (1 metre) span
  • 6 volt Speed 400 motor (cheap!)
  • Gunther push-on prop (cheap!)
  • 9 gram, 1.4 kg torque servos
  • Small Receiver (JR 500)
  • 18-25 amp speed control (Schultz) with BEC
  • 8 x 600AE cells (Sanyo)
  • Flying weight 550 grams (if you've built light and used light tape!!)

BUILDING AND COVERING

The instructions were easy to follow and you don't need much experience to make this plane. It took me a little over a day to put it all together.

 I tweaked a couple of things such as cutting off the "tailwheel" to make it easier for covering and, when the nose fell off whilst I was sanding, I took the opportunity to dig into it so that I had the option of sliding the battery further forward to be able to move the centre of gravity if required. I also took out some of the front "dashboard" to make it easier to get the battery pack in and out. The kit comes with 25mm elevons, but I changed these to 30mm which gave me a far more responsive plane.

(In Australia, 3M77 is now sold as 3M Multi-purpose spray - be sure to get the one in the predominantly GREEN spray can as this does not eat the polystyrene foam.)

Using a little 3M Multi-purpose spray on the EPP to improve adherence, I put a little filament tape on the "shoulders" from above the wing to beside the cockpit as this join is a bit vulnerable and I put some more tape (5mm wide) along the wings, top and bottom, along the EPP to Styrofoam join, for extra strength and also under the skid. (Filament tape is clear sticky tape with fibreglass along its length, and is available at stationary suppliers.)

After a spray of 3M adhesive, covering was yellow packing tape (left over from a Zagi wing kit). A heating iron applied to the tape shrank it and made a very neat and well adhered job.

I strongly recommend using different colours for the top and bottom of the plane as you will find yourself starting to do very fast manoeuvres and this helps considerably with orientation. Avoid paint as it adds weight, and avoid clear tape as it goes off quicker in the sun than coloured tape.

I twisted the motor wires down the fuselage as this was recommended to reduce interference. With a soldering iron I made the channel for the wire in the fuselage deeper. I dug a hole in the "parcel shelf" (at the back of the cockpit) for the receiver, this got it out of the way, including all the wires to servos. Air scoops were made of plastic cut from milk cartons.

I used a lightweight JR receiver and 9 gram Naro servos (1.4kg torque). If I did not have these I would have bought the JR editions as they have stronger servo arms and have a slightly better reputation for reliability.

I tried it with a set of drop-off EPP wheels - and it worked!

POWER

Mine is one of the older editions, with the narrow battery cavity. Cells are 8 600mah AE Sanyos and the configuration is 4 cells end to end, in 2 rows, and Deans Ultra plugs.

My motor is a 6 volt Aeronaut 400, Although it may not last as long as the 7.2 volt moter, it is generally found to give better performance. (For a $15-20 replacement cost, I'd rather have the better performance)

My prop is push on Gunther prop which gives pretty good performance, particularly at lower speeds. For faster performance, a prop adaptor with a Graupner scale prop is recommended, but with the extra weight down the back you may have to push the battery forward to retain the same centre of gravity.

When I use a 7 cell pack instead of my normal eight, I get a more docile craft which is lighter and thermals better and gives longer, albeit calmer, flights.

WEIGHT

With the 8 cell pack, it came in at 545 grams. This compares with the planes of others that I fly with, whose planes come in at as much as 600 to 660grams. The relative weights of foam can depend on the batch that it happens to come out of. But I strongly recommend that you contribute to lightness by using a thin tape that doesn't include a heavy white glue, and by minimising the overlap of the tape to 6mm (1/4 of an inch). Lighter weight means a greater speed range, steeper climbs, longer flights and slower landings, minimising damage and maximising aircraft life.

FLYING

It flies well - best flights around 7 mins including a mix of hooning and some low throttle or 3-4 minutes on full throttle. I initially had some glitching - but after I moved the speed controller away from the receiver this was fine. I tried differential but took it out as the rolls were sloppy.

Martin Lui's Komet

CONCLUSION

Definitely the best plane I have bought/built for my needs. Will bring it to all slope events for when the wind dies - or maybe even when it doesn't as it would make a great unpowered slopie anyway!! I have decked it a few times already (they can land quite fast). A group of us fly them regularly at Doncaster (Melbourne) together (up to 6 up at a time) and try to nudge each other out of the air as we do the circuit around the field or just chase each other around the sky - doing rolls, loops, flying inverted or trying (successfully!!) to catch high thermals. Some even have lights (I sell lighting kits) and we fly at night!!

A gaggle of Komets at Doncaster - Melbourne

A giggle of Komet Fliers!

SUITABILITY FOR BEGINNERS (AND OTHERS)

An aerobatic plane is not the best craft for the beginner, whose initial reactions will not be fast enough. A gentle polyhedral model is definitely more forgiving. However I do know of people who have been taught on Komets and you are unlikely to buy a more resilient powered plane.

As a first aerobatic plane they are excellent because of their speed range (slow and fast) and their resistance to damage.

As a quick and easy instant craft to be taken out of the boot for a quick fly - or at the slope when the lift has dropped (ir you want something aerobatic with a little extra), they are excellent.

As I said - they have the equation right and this plane will do me for some time.

It's made in Queensland by a couple of enthusiastic lads who also produce other quality EPP warbirds - but the Komet is my favorite. Check it out at: www.sbrcmodels.com.

 

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ianpullar@hotmail.com