After flying few times the EasyStar 2 RR with the GoPro onboard, I concluded that it was underpowered with the MPX setup and that I didn't have margin by changing the propeller size (diameter or pitch), and eventually the motor.
Therefore, I looked at other alternatives on the market, with always the aerial photography in mind, and also some aerial video time to time. The Raptor FPV from Lanyu kept my attention in its 1600 mm wingspan version for several reasons:
- It has a ABS fuselage, with plenty of room
- It is flap ready
- It's a pusher
- Wingspan is a bit bigger than the usual 1400mm of the Easystar and all the chinese copies.
- It comes with a from fuselage platform that ease camera installation
I decided to give a try, and ordered the kit. The raptor PFV doesn't exist as a kit, but only in its PNP or RTF version. I took the PNP version.
The kit gives the best and the worse at the same time. All main components are good. They are nicely moulded, the top surface is even shiny ! The fit of the wings on the fuselage is excellent. Wings and tail have some carbon or wood inserts to reinforce smartly the parts. The servo tray in the fuselage uses plywood and is solidly screwed at several points.
However, design of the main components could be better. The mounting system of the wings on the fuselage is a bit primitive, with 4 screws, and a plastic part to join the 2 half wings. The mounting of the tail and fin on the fuselage is very strong, provide a good positioning. But, it cannot be easily disassemble for transport and the bottom plastic part and screws collects all the ground and grass when landing. Despite these few comments, the overall quality of the frame is fine.
The worse come from the electronic equipement. Servos, motor and ESC are just crap. On mine, one of the fuselage servo had already a gear broken. I decided to change everything from the beginning. I kept only the propeller (That I changed later as you will see). All servos have been replaced by metal gear micro servos and I installed 2 additional servos on the flaps to take benefit of it. The motor is now a 1200 KV Emax BL2220/07 Outrunner Brushless Motor connected to a Dualsky 30 Amp ESC coming from my old EasyGlider.
On the control command side, I user MPjet plastic clevises and brass coupler connected to the provided piano wire like command provided in the kit. The plastic clevises provided in the kit are real shit, so forget them if you want your plane to survive to few flights ...
To position and secure the battery in front of the fuselage, I glued some velcro on the front tray. I can use 3A or 2A capacity 3s Lipo depending if I use the GoPro or not. The CG is obtained without any lead in the nose. Without any cam the Turnigy 3A battery installed in the very front position give the right CG. Same with the GoPro and a 2 Amp 3S battery. A very clear CG location mark is molded at the wing bottom, so it is very easy to test it just before to fly, this is a good point.
For the Gopro, I built a small support made from coroplast, and epoxy board, with a velcro around the cam to secure it, and some foam under the support to absord vibration. The support can be screwed in 2 positions, front and on the side. It use the 2 Pronged Tee Nuts on the top foam part of the fuselage.
The maiden flight took place the 31th of december and it was the last flight of the year 2012 for me. I went to the casttle of Bon Repos near grenoble, and combined the maiden flight with some aerial photos and videos.
The first flight provided me a mixed feeling. The plane seemed (again) underpowered and I had some difficulties to climb with the equipment. It was really like to get nowhere fast !
On the positive side, the stability, handling and agility are great. The Raptor is precise, nervous. On top of that, it has a good gliding ratio, even with the fixed propeller stopped. Despite the lack of trust, I enjoyed the afternoon flying the Raptor and came back with nice pictures and videos.
For the second flying session, I changed the propeller (a 8x4) by a APC 8x6. Here again I couldn't change the diameter, being already at the limit, but at least, I could increase the propeller pitch. The result turned to be better, and the plane has a better climbing rate, but nothing to compare with a front motor like on my EasyGlider for example.
The next step will be to installed a true digital compact camera with a servo to trigger it, and later a Eagle Tree Guardian 3 Axis Gyro to stabilise the plane while shooting.