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Written by Andrew Griffith
An easy soaring experience
Abridged product review
Photos by the author
Read the full product review in the August 2016 issue of
Model Aviation.


Bonus video


Specifications:

Model type: Powered glider
Skill level: Beginner
Wingspan: 59 inches
Wing area: 405 square inches
Wing loading: 7.1 ounces per square foot
Airfoil: Flat bottom
Length: 39.6 inches
Weight: 20 ounces
Power system: 370-size brushless electric
Radio: Four-channel minimum DSM2 or DSMX
Construction: Z-Foam
Covering/finish: Painted foam
Street price: $169.99


Test-Model Details:

Motor/engine used: E-flite 370 brushless motor (included)
Battery or fuel: E-flite 2S (7.4 volts) 1,300 mAh LiPo (included)
Propeller: Two-blade folding propeller (included)
Radio system: Spektrum DX18G2
Ready-to-fly weight: 20 ounces
Flight duration: 5 to 10 minutes


Pluses:

• What little assembly is needed can be completed in 30 minutes.
• Easy to fly for beginners, but fun for more experienced pilots.
• AS3X lets the Conscendo handle wind that would ground most foam airplanes.
• Easy access to change battery.


Minus:

• There were a few places where the glue was oozing out of joints.


Abridged product review

Learning how to fly RC without an experienced instructor has been universally discouraged. For me, one of the most gratifying aspects of the hobby is the friends I’ve made at the clubs I have belonged to and the events I have attended.

Those things noted, not everyone has easy access to an instructor, so Horizon Hobby produced the HobbyZone line so that those who don’t have the luxury of having an instructor can still find success within our awesome hobby.

SAFE technology is a technological leap forward toward this goal. SAFE stands for Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope and allows the pilot to choose an appropriate flight mode for his or her experience level, as well as having a panic recovery mode available at the flip of a switch in case things go awry.

With its SAFE receiver in beginner mode, a model will only bank enough to turn or pitch up or down enough to climb or descend, but no matter how far you move the stick or how long you hold it, the airplane won’t get in trouble.

In beginner mode, the airplane self-levels if the sticks are released to center. Intermediate mode gives you more control and maneuverability, but the model still won’t loop or roll inverted. Self-leveling is available by switching back to beginner mode or pressing the panic button.

When you’re ready for the big time, advanced mode unlocks the full potential of the Conscendo. While flying in advanced mode, the model won’t self-level unless you hit the panic button, but the stabilization system is still active, making flying in gusty wind not only possible, but enjoyable.

The Conscendo is a Z-Foam motor glider with a 1.5-meter wingspan and a 2S 370-size brushless power system. Some sailplane purists still snub their noses at motor-powered gliders, but love them or hate them, they are a convenient, self-contained method of launching a glider. This convenience leads to more flying, which ultimately leads to more enjoyment of the hobby which, after all, is what it’s all about!

Like many motor gliders, the Conscendo features a folding propeller to minimize drag when the motor is shut off. Control is provided via ailerons, rudder, elevator, and throttle.


Construction

The Conscendo S comes in two versions: an RTF version that includes a DX4 four-channel transmitter, and a BNF version that requires a four-channel DSM2/DSMX full-range transmitter. I received the BNF version for review and I’ll be using my DX18G2 because it never hurts to have 14 channels in reserve, just in case.

A 2S LiPo battery, DC car-style charger, and an AC adapter are all included. It’s actually kind of clever; the power supply has a receptacle that the car charger plugs into, then the whole thing plugs into the wall. It’s pretty simple—plug it in, connect the battery, and the light flashes while it’s charging and comes on steady when the charge is complete. I plugged in the battery and started charging it while I read the remainder of the manual.




The included charger can be used nearly anywhere. The battery plugs in via the balance port and the car charger can be powered either by a car outlet or the included AC power supply.


Although the RTF version already has the radio bound and set up, the BNF version requires some programming specific to the SAFE receiver. A chart outlines the programming sequence for your particular radio and it only took a few minutes to set up the mode switch, panic recovery (buddy-box pushbutton), and dual rates needed for the Conscendo.

Binding the receiver is easy because a short servo extension is attached to the bind port that surfaces in the battery hatch. Plug a bind plug into the extension and bind the radio.

Four screws and two aileron connectors can be removed to transport the Conscendo without the wings attached, but at 1.5 meters, it can fit in most vehicles without disassembly and I leave mine put together.




A servo extension is provided so you can easily put the AS3X receiver into bind mode. A battery tray and strap, as well as hook-and-loop material, are provided to secure the battery.


Flying

I gave the Conscendo a gentle, level toss and advanced the power. The model climbed well at roughly a 30° angle and quickly reached altitude. I cut the power at approximately 200 feet and let the Conscendo S glide. The model slowed nicely, and while not being a “floater” per se, it flies slowly enough for beginners. In advanced mode, the Conscendo really comes alive for experienced pilots. With the power on, the aircraft will perform loops, rolls, stall turns, and even some spins.

The word Conscendo is Latin for “to rise up” and the Conscendo certainly lives up to its name. Even in the lightest lift, the aircraft would indicate lift was present with a bump. After it was centered in even the most modest lift, it would circle tightly and climb well. Very impressive!




With half power, a gentle toss slightly above the horizon is all that is required to launch the Conscendo. It will fly right out of your hand, and the AS3X system will keep it from doing anything scary during launch and climbout.


I felt that flying inverted was a good time to test panic-recovery mode. When I pressed and held panic mode (the trainer switch on my DX18), the Conscendo immediately rolled upright and assumed a gentle climb.

This feature is great for the occasional loss of orientation that beginners often fall victim to or for those pilots making the switch to advanced mode. Confidence can be inspired while still having a safe outlet if you get confused. Let me offer a word of caution on panic mode, though; you need sufficient altitude for panic mode to recover the airplane, so don’t wait until the last second to press it.

Because the Conscendo is not equipped with spoilers or flaps, and it will float a long way with power off unless there’s some wind, you need to make sure that you have enough room to land the aircraft. It took several flights, but with some practice, I could regularly sideslip the little airplane into our 15-foot spot-landing circle. There are plastic skids on the bottom to protect the foam so you can land it on paved surfaces if you need to, but grass landings are preferred.




Under power, the Conscendo S is spirited and aerobatic enough to be fun, even for skilled pilots. The provided black stripe decals make a big difference in aiding visibility as the model climbs in thermals.


Conclusion

The HobbyZone Conscendo fills a lot of roles, and I’m glad I have one. A beginner will appreciate the Conscendo’s SAFE technology, panic recovery, and the slow flight characteristics. Intermediate pilots will appreciate having an airplane that grows with them.

Glider pilots will like the Conscendo because it’s small enough to keep handy, it can be hand-launched, and it thermals well enough to be fun. Advanced pilots will love the lively performance the Conscendo is capable of in advanced mode. This airplane truly does offer something for everyone.

—Andrew Griffith
andy@customcutgraphix.com


Manufacturer/Distributor:

Horizon Hobby
(800) 338-4639
www.hobbyzonerc.com


Sources:

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




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