Edge-2 Xtreme

[Edge-2 Xtreme]My husband noticed these on ebay for about $25, and surprised me with a kit.  It's a 24" wingspan foam sheet 3D plane from Foamy Flyers.  It uses carbon fiber spars for the wing and fuselage, a wire U-joiner for the elevator, and otherwise, it's all "Zepron" foam sheet.  It's designed to use a GWS IPS or dual IPS for power.

Dave knew I wanted a plane that was small, quiet, simple, and fully aerobatic.  I was just finishing building the Triangle, but the Triangle is so delicate and expensive to replace that I'll always feel like I have to be careful with it.  A $25 foam-sheet plane, even if it's a bit delicate, just isn't a big committment.  I don't care much about 3-D flying, but there's no reason a 3-D plane can't fly normal aerobatics.  It was worth a try!


The Edge is mostly a very easy build.  The only problem I had was in cutting the openings for the wing and tail.  The instructions don't stress how important it is to make the cuts vertical, and also to build a jig to hold all the pieces while the glue is drying, so that the wing and tail surfaces will be perpendicular to the fuselage.  There isn't anything else holding this perpendicular angle: just the cuts and the glue joint you make.  This all probably should be obvious, but I'm not much of a builder (I like flying airplanes but I hate building them) so I did it wrong the first time, tried to hold the wing in place until the glue was stiff, then I put it somewhere to try.  Later, when it came time to glue the horizontal stab, I realized how non-perpendicular the wing was.  I tried to correct it but it was impossible; I ended up having to cut it out and re-glue it, carefully, using gap-filling glue (aliphatic wood glue, because I didn't have any white glue) and a jig to hold it in place.  Happily this worked, and the rest of the build was very easy.

The instructions are short, but that's because there's not much to do.  Except for the point mentioned above (which was probably just me not thinking ahead), they were very clear and easy to follow.  The kit quality was good, too, with the piece outlines already cleanly cut, marks already made everywhere I would need to make cuts, and a motor mount stick already the right size to fit an IPS (this is impossible to find since it's a metric size, and sanding a larger stick down is a time consuming annoyance).

Dave told me about a hundred times how any sensible person would tape the whole thing, everywhere, because foam is so fragile and I'd destroy it if I crashed, and then it would never be the same.  He may be right, and tape doesn't weigh that much, but this is such a light plane that I just couldn't bring myself to do that.  I put tape along the leading edges of the wing, and under the bottom front of the fuselage where it would be landing (I didn't add gear, which Dave also thought was a mistake) and on the top of the elevator, a point which would hit if I ever accidentally brought it in inverted.  I used colored Zagi tape (again, against Dave's advice -- he thinks packing tape is much stronger and sticks better to foam) to help me with orientation when the plane is flying.

I used a single GWS IPS, one which I pulled off my temporarily decommissioned Pico Stick, GWS pico radio gear, and a 700mAh li-poly battery.


[Launching the Edge-2] Wow!  I can't believe how well this thing flies.  I'm not a 3-D flyer (yet?) but the Edge-2 flies like a normal plane too, especially with the CG set a bit forward (but mine is still back of the spar).

It has huge control throws, but it's not all that twitchy -- it's actually a fairly stable flier until you tell it to do something wild.  Rolls are more linear than any other plane I have, snap and barrel rolls are fast, loops (both inside and outside) are round and predictable.  I can do tricky things like Avalanches which I haven't managed with other planes.  It's very easy to fly inverted.  It has far more rudder surface than any other plane I have, so it's fun playing with the rudder and watching what it does.  It also flies knife-edge better than any other plane I have (not surprisingly, considering the fuselage design) so it's been good for learning how to do that.

And surprisingly for a plane weighing about 5 oz in flying trim, it isn't terribly wind sensitive.  Wind will blow it off course, so precise aerobatic figures become difficult, but I haven't had much trouble flying it or bringing it in for a landing even in a bit of wind.

The single IPS is fine for flying around and basic aerobatics, though it gets very hot and I keep the flights short on hot days because of that.  It can't quite hover, so for 3D I think it's going to need a dual IPS, or something similar (see next section).

Flying 3-D

I flew the Edge for a while with the suggested single IPS motor.  It flew great, but I wanted a little more power, because this style of plane is designed to be able to do "3-D" flying (hovering, torque rolls, lomcevaks and such) and I wanted to try that.  I tried an IPS with different gearing and a 3-cell battery, but even then it didn't quite have enough power to hover or climb straight up.  The instructions mention using a dual IPS, but that's so much heavier that I didn't like the idea (I have a dual IPS on my Tiger Moth and I'm not convinced the net result has been positive.)

Then Dave got interested in small brushless outrunner motors.  It turns out that you can't actually buy a brushless motor in a comparable weight class to an IPS; the smallest available motors are twice as heavy and put out 350-class power or better (and require a correspondingly large and heavy battery to power their current draw).  There's such a demand for small outrunners that people are tearing apart computer CD drives, then re-winding the motors the better to match the needs of small model airplanes.  And just recently, it's become possible to buy a kit containing the parts to wind your own, without having to buy surplus CD drives and discard all the other parts.

So my long-suffering husband wound me a motor (20-turn, optimized for an 8x43 GWS prop and a 2-cell li-po battery), I strapped it onto the stick with zip-ties, and off we went.

It's awesome!  The little outrunner pulls close to 9 oz and weighs almost exactly the same as a geared IPS.  The Edge can hover now, or fly straight up.  Dave has been practicing his hovering using a Mini Gee Bee, which is built as a hover trainer but doesn't fly very well as a normal airplane.  With the Edge, I can try hovering, go higher and higher (I always give it a little too much throttle -- better than too little, I figure -- so it gradually gains altitude) and when it gets too high, I can loop, roll, spin and otherwise fly back down to a reasonable altitude for hover-practice.  Dave watches me enviously because his Gee Bee doesn't do any of that very well.  He wants an Edge of his own, I can tell.


[Edge-2 flying at Baylands]It's a couple of pieces of thin foam.  Of course it isn't something you want to dogfight with.

That said, it's not as fragile as I expected.  I've had a couple of hard landings, even one (on a windy day) where I caught a wingtip and it cartwheeled once and survived.

The first time I caught a wingtip (also due to a wind gust), the foam at the very outside of one wingtip cracked, right at the edge of where I'd put the tape.  So I added tape going around the outsides of the wingtips, since I could see that was important.

My guess is that I'm more likely to wreck the Edge when it's on the ground (by stepping on it, carrying it wrong, or having another plane roll into it) than in the air.  I try to be careful.  But of course, if it happens, it's only a $25 kit ...

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