Acuity 62″ Pattern Plane – AJ Aircraft

So after about a year back in RC,  I got bit by the pattern bug. I looked around and contacted some friends to see what I might have been able to buy used from someone, but didn’t really find exactly what I wanted.

On the recommendation of a friend, I looked at AJ Aircraft’s Acuity. It comes in a 2 meter version as well as a 62″ version. For many reasons, mostly because this will be my first season to fly pattern, I went with the 62″ version. Also, I already had the 6s 5000 mah batteries that I needed to run this plane as it would be set up.

I set this plane up with a Hacker A50-16s. I used a Castle Creations Edge 100 amp esc, which is too much, but again, what I had and perfectly suitable for that setup, so on it went.

I propped it with a XOAR 16-10e wooden prop for now. The 16-10 seems to pull it just fine. It is not fast and I do use WOT in an upline, but it has plenty of power and great flight times. After 7 minutes of pattern flight, I still have about 20-25% of my battery left.

I moved to this plane from my Kaos. It is much different than the Kaos. After flying this plane for a while, the Kaos feels like it weighs 3x as much, even though it doesn’t. AUW on the Kaos, with the 6s/5000 is 7lb 14.6 oz. AUW on the Acuity 62″ with the same battery is 6lb 15.4 oz, so it’s really only about a pound lighter. The Acuity is so much more maneuverable and so much more agile… it’s a joy to fly. Learning to fly the pattern with the Acuity in a crosswind is more tricky as it is more susceptible to deviation from crosswinds. It “weathervanes” more than the Kaos did. A wise person told me that learning to fly pattern is all about learning to use the rudder, and that is correct in my experience.

WEIGHT BREAKDOWN

Fuselage (rtf no batt): 3 lb. 14.4 oz.

Canopy and thumb screws: 5.6 oz.

Right Wing: 8.3 oz.

Left Wing: 8.4 oz.

Wing Tube: 1.2 oz.

Gensace 6s/5000mah Lipo: 1 lb. 9.5 oz.

Total AUW RTF: 6 lb. 15.4 oz. 

The CG is supposed to be about a half inch behind the wing tube. With my 6s/5000 all the way forward, mine balanced perfectly. This is great because when I move the CG back later on as I set it up for snap rolls and other maneuvers that perform better with a CG further back, I simple will move my battery back on the tray. There is a good 3-4″ to do this. I’m not sure if this was incorporated into the design, but it worked out perfectly at least on my model.

I set my plane up very simply with a Spectrum AR610 receiver and Hitec Digital Mighty Mini servos for elevator and ailerons and a full size high torque Hitec digital rudder servo. I am not running a separate receiver battery.

Overall, I love this airplane. For about $450 delivered, I found it to be a great value for an entry level pattern plane. It will no doubt carry me much further than the Sportsman class as well.

It was packed brilliantly in a large box with lots of compartments and using lots of tape… instead of styrofoam. It had foam where needed, but it is very smartly packed in a non-wasteful (and easy to dispose of) way. Assembly is very simple and straightforward using the PDF building plans available on AJ’s web site.

Below is an eCalc report on the setup of my Acuity 62″.

eCalc result for Acuity 62″ setup with Hacker A50-16s on 6s/5000mah lipo with 16-10 prop

 

EDIT 5/31/18

I’m a little over 100 flights in and loving this plane. I haven’t pushed it aerobatically. I’m sticking to perfecting the Sportsmans pattern with it. It’s competitive against the litany of 2 meter planes that i have faced in competition as long as my thumbs are cooperative.

I’ll soon be ordering the 2m version and moving the 62” to backup status.

 

Tower Hobbies Kaos 60 ARF – Electric Power

The Kaos is a classic style for sport/pattern flyers. It’s stable, aerobatic and the long moment really makes this a predictable and smooth flying plane.

I have never bought an ARF and assembled it. I bought my Tucano used but not flown, so the Kaos was my first complete ARF experience.

There are at least three of these that I know of in my club. I wanted to make mine different and the modeler in me told me that if I didn’t have a substantial time investment in the build that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. For those reasons, I decided to remove the covering on the ARF and make this plane my own.

I went with metallic finish Monokote for the job. Removing the old covering was very easy. The first step in the assembly process for this plane is to heat up and make sure the factory covering is all stuck well. They don’t get too detailed making sure everything is stuck well from the factory. For this reason, the old covering came off very easily with my heat gun.



I fitted this plane with the Rimfire 80 from Tower Hobbies. It’s a lower RPM motor than the 60. At a 500 Kv rating, it will swing a larger prop at a lower RPM. I installed a Castle Creations 100 amp ESC to go with it and fitted it with a 15-8 prop and powered it all with a 6s 5000mah lipo. It has about 2″ clearance with the larger diameter prop.

It flies very well. It is quiet and has lots of reserve power. Flying weight is 7 lb 14.6 oz. and it took 4 oz in the nose to get the CG to the 4.5″ location I wanted.

The Bolt-on Tail

The plans for this plane tell you not to glue the tail together, but to use the bolt to bolt it down. It all fits together very well, but this goes against everything I have ever learned about RC aircraft. I called Tower Hobbies and spoke to their support people. What I got was that they have not had problems with the bolt-on setup, but if it were his own personal plane, the guy I spoke with would glue the tail together. That was enough for me to mix a batch of epoxy and do just that.

Phoenix Models Tucano GP/EP ARF

I rescued this airplane from hanging from the ceiling in my local hobby shop on consignment. It is an ARF (Almost-Ready-to-Fly) model. It had the electric motor and the speed control and all of the radio equipment installed.

This airplane is made to accept retractable landing gear. Today’s modeler can get all kinds of landing gear that don’t require any outside servo. They just plug right in to the radio and mount onto the plane and you’re off and running with retracts. The problem is, you hear people complain about them a LOT. You see them fail a LOT. Tower Hobbies had these retracts that are made just for this airplane. They require servos to do the work, but I find them a lot more reliable and durable than the cheaper servoless models. Plus they are kinda old school, so I went with them.

The guy who put it together mounted an Elite Power 52 Brushless motor on it. This motor is rated at 590 K/V and will take a 6S battery. With the extra weight of the two retract servos, I opted for 6S power. I propped it with an APC 12-10. It has a Castle Creations Lite 100 ESC that seems to work just fine. It has a consistent beep every few seconds to let you know that it is armed. The instructions say you can remove that beep if you use Castle’s programming interface for the ESC. Problem is, this works only on Windows computers and I haven’t had a Windows computer in my house since the early 2000s. So I live with the beep.

With the Power 52 motor and the 6S 45C 5000mah battery, I get crazy fast flight for about 5 minutes. The plane sets up and lands better than anything I have. It is smooth and very, very stable on landings.

I added 3.5 oz to the tail to get it to balance.

Overall, I really like this airplane. It’s very aerobatic and has lots of reserve power. I get lots of comments on it.