This is a mini review of the Hobbico NexStarEP RTF. It currently costs $399 from tower hobbies
There is a much more detailed review of the model here
at rcgroups.com. That review is from a pure RC perspective. I am writing this to highlight the UAV friendly features of the NexStar.
I took the plane for her maiden flight last Sunday at a local field. I had an instructor to help me fly since I am new to RC(keep this in mind as you read this review). This is the only RC plane I have ever flown.
The features that make this plane a good platform for a UAV are the following:
The plane has a 68" wingspan, and weighs about 7lbs, so the plane is less affected by the wind. The size and weight were beneficial during the maiden flight since the winds were about 10mph with 15mph gusts. The experienced RC pilots were impressed by the stability of the plane in the wind.
The plane includes speed brake flaps, and airfoil extensions at the wingtips. It also features the Futaba PA-2 stability control system, so a simple GPS and rudder control only UAV can be built..
The PA-2 sensor is visible on the bottom right of the picture.
The plane has ample space inside the fuselage for mounting electronics. It should be no problem to mount a flight computer and sensors inside the fuselage.
The plane comes with everything needed to fly except batteries and a charger.
The plane will easily fly for 15 minutes with a 5s 5000mAh lipo pack.
The package also includes a stripped down version of the RealFlight RC flight simulator, so you can practice flying at home using the actual transmitter. The simulator practice was particularly helpful for me, since once the instructor got the plane into the air, I was able to fly it with ease even with the strong wind(we flew with the PA-2 disabled).
Total cost for a flight ready plane with batteries and charger was approximately $650. So with $350 for electronics, you can build a sub $1k UAV with this plane.
I am very pleased with this airframe, and I feel that it will make a fine UAV platform.