Looks like the guys at Udrones listened to the community feedback on their pricing for the ARF ArduPlane. They cut the price by a third to $675! Unless I'm mistaken, that's the cheapest full UAV in the world.
First as this machines previous chief detractor I will say that in lowering the price this drone is now at a fair price. The end user should still know that extensive modification will be necessary to crash proof this craft, but the price now is now at parity with what other sites are offering. I look forward to writing an article on bixler crash proofing. Here is my list of machine issues that need to be fixed by the end user. If you need any help fixing these issues feel free to PM me.
(1) Lack of a strong carbon rod in between the wings. The included carbon rod will crack if you stare at it too hard.
(2) Prop. The stock prop is a very poor in relation to the 2.49$ 6x4E prop that you can buy at any hobby store. If you will examine the machine produced by @Sgt. Ric who praises this item you will certainly note that he personally does not use the stock prop and has also replaced it. It is very noisy and inefficient.
(3) Lack of carbon spars added to the the craft. There are 3 additional places a stock bixler needs carbon spars. Two on the tail and one going along the fuselage. These make a huge difference in the flight characteristics. Especially, when you are carrying heavy equipment like FPV gear or APM gear.
(4) Lack of a rudder mod. The rudder on the stock bixler is completely superfluous. You can either just not use it or you can mod it to make it larger to make it effective. This may actually be more important in APM as I don't know if APM uses the rudder more than I do.
(5) Lack of extreme packing tape or wrap. The stock bixler nose and underside will be torn apart in a few standard belly landings if it is not covered in a wrap. I use extreme packing tape, but I can assure you that this craft will be sold sans any form of wrap. As of now I can pitch my bixler at a wall and the nose will be unharmed. If it was not wrapped prior to flight even a minor nose in landing will lead to the entire nose of the plane coming apart. The only way you can prevent this is to either manually catch it every time or perform a perfect landing. This propensity for the nose to crack will also lead to the electronics pod being destroyed. I have an FPV pod that I could post pictures of to prove this, as they are made of the exact same material.
(6) Lack of wing holding mods. There are numerous wing holding mods. Some people embed magnets in the wing. Other people use rubber bands and 3M hooks. If a wing holding mod isn't use the plane can have its wings pull out of their sockets in flight. If glue is used transportation becomes a problem and rough landings become much rougher and repairs also become harder.
(7) ESC should be moved to outside the frame to allow for better cooling or NACA ducts should be cut in the frame.
Thanks, David. That's all good advice. I suspect that once the EasyStar II is available in the US, uDrones will switch to that.
That said, I fly a stock Bixler every week and aside from a strip of packing tape on the bottom, as you also suggested, haven't made any changes. I did have a wing fall off once (!), so had to reglue the foam strips covering the wing spar, which had come loose, but other than that it's performed very well. I agree that everything you describe will improve the craft, but I find it very serviceable even without that. Maybe I'm just a less aggressive pilot...or luckier!
I'm primarily an FPV pilot, so I crash a lot and when I crash I've generally lost the video signal and I often can't see what I'm crashing into. All I can get is a spotter saying "pull left, pull right, pull up, nope your f***ed now".
Also, @Chris Anderson you really should shore up the carbon spar if you have a chance. All you really need to do is purchase a 4mm spar and glue that inside your current carbon spar. It should cost about 5$ and it will make the wings a lot less birdlike. Also, switching up the prop will give the machine a lot longer flight times and will remove some vibration and make the whole system a lot quieter. Those two mods alone will make a big difference. Right now I'm also playing with installing Dubro hinges on the moving surfaces and seeing if that makes a big different.
As to the EasyStar II it looks like a good craft. It should really come with ailerons considering the competition (bixler/sky surfer) already has them. I know it has the servo holes for them, but come on .... Also, the real advantage of the bixler/sky surfer is that they have the open area inside them to shove pounds of electronics while you have to dig the foam of out easystar.
@David Yeah those are about the necessary mods. I've had the foam holding the spar in break out so that needs reinforcement too (luckily i had rubberbands + 3m clips holding the wings in) spar snapped as well, wings have folded in half mroe times than i care to admit but each time is a new lesson
as for the easystar2, i cant wait for one, honestly i only use the room inside my bixler for battery and cabling, so the easystar2 shouldnt be an issue. all my electronics sit neatly in the DIYDrones bixler chassis (hoping it fits the easystar2 with minimal mods) I drive a tiny honda prelude so space saving is good for me, that removable horizontal stab = win. but honestly with all apm electronics in chassis, room inside for battery already, and video tx attached to rear part of fuselage outside with cloverleaf, not too much nead for interior room anymore, especially with shrinking side footprint of apm2 :P
What if you dont want/need/care if the thing is autonomous or has GPS sensors? What if you just want a good reliable platform to put a camera (camcorder or otherwise) in the air?
James: then just buy a stock Bixler from Hobbyking.
Chris: Appreciate your response. I'd really like to speak with you, although I respect your quite a busy guy. As mentioned in previous posts, I'm a Virginia based private investigator, and I want to turn to RC aerial photography as a possible solution for many scenarios in my profession. I'm not talking about spying on wayward spouses either! I'm talking about criminal activities, missing persons, insurance fraud, and things of that nature.
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