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Written by Greg Gimlick
Start down the RC path in style
Product Review
As seen in the May 2018 issue of
Model Aviation.





The Carbon Cub S+ is capable of being flown by people with varying skill levels. Thanks to its large tires, it is capable of operating from flying sites with grass, dirt, or pavement.



Bonus Video


Specifications

Model type: GPS-equipped park flyer
Skill level: Beginner to expert
Wingspan: 51 inches
Wing area: 418 square inches
Length: 34 inches
Weight: 35.6 ounces
Wing loading: 12.28 ounces per square foot
Power system: ParkZone 480 brushless outrunner motor 960 Kv (included); ParkZone 18-amp brushless ESC (included); ParkZone 9 x 6 propeller (included); E-flite 1,300 mAh 3S 20C LiPo battery (included)
Radio: Spektrum DXe DSMX transmitter; Spektrum DSMX serial receiver; Spektrum flight controller (all included)
Construction: EPO foam
Needed to complete: Nothing
Flight duration: 5 to 7 minutes
Price: $219.99


Pluses

• Exclusive SAFE Plus GPS-enabled drone technology.
• AutoLand, Holding Pattern, and Virtual Fence functions.
• Beginner, Intermediate, and Experienced flight modes.
• EPO foam airframe with fully painted scale trim scheme.
• Tundra tires.
• Optional flaps (requires a seven-plus-channel programmable transmitter).
• Optional floats are available.


Product Review

Full disclosure: I love Cubs. I love all variants of them and am not ashamed to say so! This version did not disappoint when I opened the box. The Carbon Cub color scheme is a thing of beauty and this little foam gem looked well done. Everything was neatly packed and protected with nothing left to buy.




Relatively few pieces come with the RTF package; however, everything required for flight is included.


As always, read the manual thoroughly ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the assembly process and radio programming. The RTF version comes with a DXe transmitter set up for the various GPS functions, but there are instructions for other Spektrum radios. If you want to add the optional flaps, you’ll need a radio capable of seven channels.

Assembly begins by removing the propeller, allowing you to perform control checks without fear of injury. The landing gear is next and consists of putting the wheel collars and wheels on the gear legs. After it is complete, it slides into a fuselage receptacle and is held in place with two retaining plates. These are labeled left and right, so pay attention.




The landing gear has snap-on fairings and formed legs with tundra tires. The gear legs slide into a plastic recess and are retained with tabs and screws.


The tail feathers slide together with plastic pins and screws. Everything is dry fit and secured with the screws. Don’t tighten the rudder hinge screw too much or it will bind. The clevises attach to the installed horns and are retained with rubber keepers.




The tail pieces slide together with alignment pins and are held in place with screws.


The main wing arrives with channels cut into the top surface to accept mounting tape and vortex generators. Double-check the diagrams in the manual to ensure proper orientation. When complete, slip the joiner tube in place, slide the wings together, and use the plastic top piece to hold it all together. That piece provides the four retaining screw locations. Wing struts provide an extra measure of security for extreme maneuvers.

The last step is securing the battery in the compartment under the fuselage. There is plenty of room for various sizes of packs. The provided 1,300 mAh LiPo battery pack can be adjusted to acquire the proper center of gravity (CG). If you use a larger battery pack, there is room for that too.




The bottom view of the airplane shows the battery compartment and wing struts.



Special Features

SAFE Plus: There is an amazing amount of technology in this package. The Carbon Cub S+ offers three flight modes with varying levels of stabilization and limits to the pitch and roll angle.

Virtual Fence Mode and GPS: The GPS module allows a pilot to establish a “home” position. The flight controller Using this position, the flight controller establishes a preprogrammed geo-fence and automatically turns the aircraft if the pilot flies out too far. When the airplane is back within the “fence,” it wags the wings and returns control to the pilot.




The Carbon Cub S+ uses a GPS module and receiver that can be seen here from the top of the fuselage.


The Virtual Fence feature works in all SAFE Plus flight modes when the GPS function is active. Four variations of the Virtual Fence mode are selectable from the transmitter during initialization.

After a Virtual Fence mode has been chosen, the aircraft will remember that mode until another mode is chosen. There is no need to select it each time after you determine the mode appropriate to your area.

If you don’t want the fence feature at all, simply disable it at startup, but even better, you can turn it off during a flight by mashing the bind button and cycling the mode switch three times.


Beginner’s Bonanza!

This airplane offers beginners many options to help them learn to fly when help isn’t nearby. Even if there is help available, it offers options that help build confidence. If the airplane begins to get too far away, the geo-fence will bring it back.

If a pilot becomes slightly overwhelmed and needs a minute to gather his or her wits, by simply pushing the holding pattern button, the airplane will orbit over the home position on its own. When a pilot is ready to resume flying, merely push the button and take control back.

The biggest fear comes when it’s time to land and the new pilot is panicked about damaging the new model. If stress overcomes you, just hit AutoLand and relax while it brings itself in.


Compass Calibration:

If you’ve used GPS-enabled aircraft before, this is something you’re probably already used to doing. This is a simple procedure you should follow before flying at any new location. It’s fully described in the manual.


Control Throws and CG

I set the CG at the recommended 62 mm to 68 mm and adjusted the battery position to achieve that. Control throws were preset and dual rates are suggested at 100% and 70% (also preset in the RTF version).


Flying

Test-flight day brought a balmy 45° and 10 to 15 mph wind gusting to 25. Not ideal for a high-wing, 35-ounce airplane, but you “dance with the one who brung ya.” What these conditions did do was provide a rugged test of all of the airplane’s features. It didn’t disappoint!

After going through the compass calibration and setting the home position, when the GPS signaled that it was locked in, I pointed it into the wind and off it went. Climbout was strong enough despite the stout wind and it handled a slight crosswind well. Turning downwind saw the Cub imitate rocket acceleration, but it was still controllable.

I wanted more control authority in these conditions than Beginner Mode allowed, so I flipped the flight mode to Intermediate and it felt better. A couple of patterns to get the feel of how much stabilization there was in this mode left me confident in how well it could handle adverse conditions.

I flipped it to Experienced Mode and that put the full aerobatic envelope at my disposal. The little airplane will loop, roll, fly inverted, and even perform respectable knife-edge flight. I flew around trying all sorts of maneuvers and continued to be surprised at how well it handled the conditions.

When it was time to land, I returned to Intermediate Mode and the wind nearly stopped the Cub on final approach. It took plenty of power to drive it to the ground and I wanted more elevator, but that was easily accomplished by using Experienced Mode on the next flight.

Under normal flying conditions, the Beginner and Intermediate modes offer plenty of control authority. Tracking is excellent on the ground and in the air. Stalls are uneventful and even when the wind blew it over onto its back during an intentional stall, it was easily recovered.


Testing the Special Features

This was the fun part and certainly an eye-opener for someone who was not used to seeing an airplane do things that this Carbon Cub S+ did. I started by testing the Virtual Fence limit, which was set for the default value of 500 feet.

I flew straight and level until suddenly the airplane made a 180° turn all by itself—and I mean right now! It turned back toward the center of the field and flew straight and level for a few seconds then wagged its wings to let me know it was ready for me to resume control. I repeated this several times just because it was so effective and impressive. What a great feature … but wait, there’s more.

Next up was the self-leveling feature in Beginner Mode. Nothing to do here, but release the controls and watch as it recovered to a level attitude. I began in Experienced Mode and put it in a spin, then flipped to Beginner Mode and released the sticks. It quickly stabilized and was ready for me to resume control. Time and time again, it did a great job.

After playing with that function, I tried the holding pattern. If you find you need a break, simply hit the bind button and release it. The airplane enters an orbit at altitude around the home point. The Cub simply flew a circle overhead until I pushed the button again and took control. This offers a great break for a new pilot who needs a moment to gather his or her wits. Even with a strong crosswind, it adjusted to remain above the field.

Finally, the time came to try the AutoLand function. I began on the downwind side, held the bind button for 3 seconds, and then released the controls. The airplane continued a pattern to final and descended to the home point. It allowed for small corrections to avoid any obstacles and for throttle to adjust the descent.

I did this the first two times before finally heading across the field toward the pits and hitting it again. This time it turned downwind, completed the pattern, and started its final approach somewhat diagonally across the field. I told my friend Wayne, “This thing is confused with this wind.”

I watched it continue until it suddenly did a 360° circle, realigning itself with the runway and completing the approach and landing. I hadn’t touched a thing! I never touched a thing all the way to the ground when it stopped right in front of us. Amazing! We couldn’t believe it did that well in these conditions.

Wayne had to try it for himself and sure enough, he had the same result. When it wasn’t well aligned, it would do a circle, align itself with the runway, touch down in front of us, and roll to a stop. It didn’t matter that our throttle was still halfway; it had full control and did what magic it was programmed to do.


Conclusion

I’ve been around a while and I will admit to being somewhat jaded, but this slapped it right out of me. What a gem of a job the people at Horizon Hobby have done bringing us this bundle of technology. Not only does it work better than I could have hoped for, but it brings it all to the table at a price point that’s hard to believe.

This is a great first airplane for someone, but it’s a great airplane for anyone. Beginners to experts will enjoy this model’s characteristics and features. Having a great airplane to learn on is fun, and having one that is a cool little scale aircraft is even better. Do I like it? Oh yeah, I love it!

Since the initial flights, I’ve added the optional flap servo and bound it to my Spektrum DX9 so that I could expand the flight envelope. I have increased elevator and rudder throws just to increase the aerobatic capability, but the stock Horizon Hobby Carbon Cub S+ is perfectly capable of doing more than any beginner will want to try.




Flying from grass is not a problem thanks to the large tundra tires.


—Greg Gimlick
maelectrics@gimlick.com


Manufacturer/Distributor:

Horizon Hobby/HobbyZone
(800) 338-4639
www.horizonhobby.com


Sources:

Spektrum
(800) 338-4639
www.spektrumrc.com






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