Hobby-Lobby Mini Reno Racers

Friday, May 30, 2008

By Jamie "GFBurke"

Manufacturer: Hacker
Distributor: Hobby-Lobby, Intl
Type: Mini electric EPP 3ch plane
For: Beginners to advanced pilots
Flying weight: (review model): 3.8 oz.
Size: 20-1/2" wingspan, 17-1-2" long
Prop: 4.9x4.3 Prop & Spinner
Radio: Airtronics RD6000 Super transmitter with Berg 4 receiver, 2 HS-55 Servos.
Power system: Potensky POT 20W OUTRUNNER Brushless Motor, Jeti Advance PLUS Mini 8 Amp ESC, and "Twenty" 2 Cell 300 mAh 7.4V Li-Poly Pack
CG: 35mm to 40mm back from root of main wings

Many of us know that Hacker makes some wonderful R/C products ranging from large to small. With the addition of new products and the hype of the larger models, the little planes may be overlooked. I enjoyed my Hacker Reno Racer EPP Midget Mustang so much, that the next rendition of the Reno Racer called for a review. We welcome the new Mini Reno Racer.

This is a very small plane made for indoors or in a small park. No, it's not hairy - it's EPP! We love EPP because they are hard to break and even if you did, it just takes a little bit of hot glue or super glue to fix and your as good as new. No landing gear with this plane, but it's trivial to add if you really wanted. Landing gear is not needed since I fly on grass or come in slow and low and plop it down on concrete.

Received the package from Hobby-Lobby. Everything is in order and well packaged. I now realize just how small this EPP plane really is!

This thing is small! Very cute and colorful. I like the detail in the art work for the wings - makes it look more real. The quarter does not come with the plane, just there for size comparison. :)

Pictures of the electronics.

The first few steps explain on how to setup the main wings. Gluing them together with normal CA and getting them to bend up (dihedral) at a certain angle. Be sure when gluing them together that they match up and should not be flat. Then inserting the aluminum spar and bending them so one side is off the ground at 45mm.

Then, we install the aileron servo. Since the instructions say to setup the control surfaces with the included heat shrink and aluminum sticks, I did it that way. I've seen this in instructions before and I've never attempted to do it this way until now. More on that later.

While my main wings where drying, I constructed the motor mount with the supplied wood and plastic shim. Be sure the plastic shim goes on the proper side as shown in the picture.

The instructions say to cut a slit in the EPP and hide the ESC. This is probably okay, however, I chose to mount my ESC flush with the plane so it could breath. It's only going to be pushing around 5A so hiding is sure to be okay. I used a solder iron to burn out the ESC mount hole and the elevator servo hole.

Placing the servo and checking position with the elevator, I glued the elevator and rudder in place. The two sides of the elevator are attached to each other with an aluminum bar (so when the one moves, it moves the other side).

The motor and prop combo that came with the plane work fine. However the stationary shaft with threads was much to large to get the prop on. So, I drilled the prop hole larger so I could get it on. In the next picture, the one I modified is on the bottom and the stock is on top. Maybe I was confused, but that large threaded shaft would not come off the motor.. .so, I'm not so sure the prop and motor where made for each other (thus the drilling).

The motor has no leads on it. Since the motor and ESC would be so close together, I just chopped down the length on the ESC wires, then soldered them to the motor. Be sure the motor turns CWW when looking from the front of the motor!

Placing electronics is not wonderfully clear in the instructions. I don't like to see wires and things handing down. All these mini Reno Racers are similar. However, the RareBare cannot have the aileron servo where the instructions say to put it without some modification to the lower EPP that holds the wings on. I chopped a piece of the EPP off from the bottom of the plane. Then, I took a small piece of EPP and honed it out so I could hide my receiver in it.

Without cutting all the wires down to fit exactly (one could/should) after hiding the RX, I bundled them up and used hotglue spots to hold them neatly. Always check your power system and get all the electronics working before permanently putting them into place!

Finished look.

Light enough?

Technical specs:
5A @ 36W WOT

All up weight with lipo (rtf) = 112.90g

Flying style:
Quick for it's size. Keep her in a close proximity for easier orientation. An easy under-handed toss at 1/2 throttle and she will take right off. Affected by the wind if 10mph breeze or more. However stable and solid otherwise. Great for an indoor gym or a calm day outside. Easy to pack around everywhere you go. Loops are simple to do at high speeds. Roll-rate of ailerons is snappy and amazingly solid and fast. Setup the ailerons throws on high rate, but use some expo until you get the hang of the twichyness of a very small aircraft. Landings are easy, bring her in and plop it down on the grass. The use of a prop saver will save you big time here-not only for the prop, but the motor mount and EPP. A fun bird to fly. People will be asking "How you are doing that on such a small wing?" It cuts through a breeze with no issues. If it's too windy to fly your Pico Tiger moth, it's not too windy for the RenoRacer. This is due to the nice airfoil built into the EPP wings.

A beginner aircraft?
I'd have to say that the build of the plane is not for a beginner. If you have a few EPP planes under your belt or are looking for your first build after modifying a few planes then it's just fine. As for flying, if you have orientation down (practice with a simulator or have other planes) then yes, it is for a beginner. It is light-weight and made of EPP so a beginner would be hard pressed to really break this thing. If you do break it, just use some CA or hotglue and it's good to go. A beginner that has someone helping them get this plane setup properly, could take it to a grassy park and bang it around without much incidence.

Not too much on the downside of this plane. Sure, you could have issues if you fly this plane in 10mph or more wind, but it's only 117g RTF (it's expected). I also think the HS55s might be a bit heavier (weighing in at 8g) than I would recommend. The instructions are not as clear as they could be, there are some minor details that could be clarified. I personally believe that using heat-shrink and aluminum as control rods may not give you the best results. Again, there is nothing wrong with the plane or how it flies. I would only change some of the setup options. This is why the build part may not be suited for a beginner.

I am a huge fan of EPP planes as well as Hacker products. The mini RenoRacer is no exception. For me, it is a bit more difficult to properly set the CG on small planes. Once you do, your good to go. This little guy fits in any car seat or trunk and is a little breath of fresh air to fly! Not having to worry much about a crash (yeah for me!) and being quick and maneuverable is a showcase marque. It is great bringing this plane to the field and having other RC'ers say, "It's so tiny, can if even fly?" This is especially fun when you let her go from your hand and do maneuvers close to the flight line. Many people at the fly field where blown away when they saw it fly and witnessed just how stable and solid it flew for it size! Listen for background comments in the video. I think anybody who gets a kick out of a Cox war bird or Hyperflea would feel at home. If you like war birds and the way they fly, then this is a must! The high detail of printing on EPP is amazing. I would like to experiment with a 4ch modification to see what could be done.

Things I would have done differently now that I've built one:
1: I would have used normal control rods and control horns. (I have now done this)
2: Moved the elevator servo up further above the wing (easier CG)
3: Trimmed all the wires so they fit to the exact length (less weight and no dabs of hot glue)

* Other options: One could simply leave the dihedral out of the wings, cut the rudder for a control surface and made this into a 4ch plane with rudder and have no extra weight. The 2 servos included where 8g servos. Just adding one more that is 6g and making the other two 5-6g would be just as light. It's not needed, just fun playing with other options.

Updated photo of how my control rods are, this way was used during the video shot below.

>> 5min HD video of flying <<


areone said...

I'm building a 20 inch Furious Reno Racer as we speak, and I've got plenty of spare 4.7 g servos lying around. Hmmmm, I'm going to put a rudder on this thing like you suggested.
Brilliant review man, Hobby Lobby should be paying you money, or giving you lots of planes to review for you podcast.
Your video was the main reason I bought one.

areone said...

Decided not to do the rudder mod, mainly due to the fact that the ailerons are pretty stiff to move, and I'm not 100% confdent that the little 4.7 g servos are up to it.

It's still an excellent idea.