I had a great day today testing MatrixNav 2.0 on the UAV DevBoard, and part of the pleasure (along with the excellent performance of the autopilot) was my new cheap EasyStar substitute, the Dynam Hawk Sky
. Basically it's an EasyStar clone, but with ailerons (yay!). Even better it comes in a $110 ready-to-fly kit that includes everything
You get the plane with brushless motor, prop, servos and ESC already installed. You also get an 1800mah 11.1v LiPo battery and AC charger. It even comes with a 4-channel RC radio (FM sadly, and since it's just 4 channels, you'll have to replace it with 5 channel or better RC gear to use an autopilot). It would cost you at least $200 to assemble the same around an EasyStar.
Even better, the motor is plenty powerful enough, so you won't have to replace it the way you do with other Chinese RTF kits, which are often underpowered.
Like the EasyStar, the Hawk Sky has loads of interior room in the nose, thanks to the elevator and rudder servos being outside under the wing. Below you can see my setup. The RC receiver is in the back of the cockpit, under where my EM406 GPS module is mounted, and the battery is in front. That leaves loads of room for the UAVDevBoard, and you could easily fit a camera in there too.
How does it fly? Pretty well! It's not quite as inherently stable as the EasyStar, which you would expect with an aileron plane, but otherwise it's quite similar in performance.
My only complaint is that the motor, on a plastic pylon, is noisy, since the plastic doesn't dampen vibrations the way the foam-mounted EasyStar's motor does. I may end up trying other props to minimize that.
The plane is made of EPO foam, not Elapor like the EasyStar, so perhaps it won't handle crashes quite as well. But at this price, that's not much of a concern.
Given that I've got two EasyStars, why am I flying the Hawk Sky? Because having ailerons is MUCH better for autopilots, especially IMU-based ones like the UAVDevBoard.
If you've been wanting to get an EasyStar but were put off by the price once you added a brushless motor upgrade, or just wanted to upgrade to a plane with ailerons, the Hawk Sky is very worth considering. It's got all the anytime-anywhere appeal of the EZ, handling any kind of terrain with its hand launches and short belly landings. And because it comes already assembled with everything you need, it's faster to get into the air.
BTW, we've discussed the plane before on DIY Drones here.