I just got what might the best entry-level UAV platform yet. It's the Busy-Bee RTF from HobbyKing and at first glance it looks practically perfect for our needs. It comes totally ready to fly (just ten minutes of attaching things), with a brushless motor, ESC and all servos and pushrods installed, all for $70! Just add RC gear and a battery.

It's got all the elements we need for a UAV platform:

--Four channels, with ailerons
--Pusher prop
--High-wing trainer style, so should be easy to fly and relatively slow
--Steerable nose wheel (gear is removable for grass landings)
--Loads of room in that cockpit! The tinted window is a bit unfortunate for camera use, but otherwise it's perfect: easy to get to and easy access to the rest of the equipment area in the body
--Easy to repair foam

A few notes: The picture on the product page shows that it comes with a JST battery connector, but it actually comes with a standard Deans connector. The box says that it comes with cheap FM RC gear, but thankfully that's not the case (it comes with no RC gear at all). The included propeller is actually black and pretty good looking, not the yellow toy in the picture. If you want to upgrade the motor to a more powerful outrunner, it's easy to do; it uses the standard mounting holes. The motor is rated at 8.4v, so a 7.4 20c LiPo battery is probably safest. But if it seems really underpowered with that, I may try pushing it with a 11v battery.

Overall, it's hard to beat this one for the price, features and ease of assembly. I'll fly it this weekend and see how it performs.

Views: 2041

Comment by isobot on September 25, 2009 at 12:44am
Looks great, What kind of foam is it?
It mentions clipped and trainer wing? what is the difference in wingspans?

Comment by Gary Mortimer on September 25, 2009 at 1:04am
I think with a motor upgrade it should work well, is there room for a bigger lipo??? A drink bottle will make clear windows. might look out for one myself. G

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on September 25, 2009 at 4:22am

I looked at this model earlier this year, but was put off by the negative reviews and the fact that you have to use rubber bands to hold the wing on. Otherwise I thought that it had plenty of room for onboard electronics and other equipment.

Comment by James Turner on September 25, 2009 at 6:15am
interesting to hear how you go on with it this weekend.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on September 25, 2009 at 6:19am
Rubber bands have worked for years!! I call it a vibration dampening system. Good rule taught to me by a wise old man, never less than six of said rubber bands!

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 25, 2009 at 7:18am
Some answers:

The foam looks like standard EPP. They recommend you repair it with epoxy of Goop.

I have no idea what they mean about clipped or trainer wings. There's is only one wing and it's not changeable. That may actually refer to different models. This one's wingspan is about 42", which seems pretty clipped to me, so perhaps it's the "sport" version.

The battery compartment as it is is pretty small: about 3.25". But it's easy to cut the wall between it and the next compartment, which has loads of room. (Or just go up in to the cockpit area; which is just a thin layer of foam away and over the same CG point.

Rubber bands are great! What the problem with them?

Comment by Mark Colwell on September 25, 2009 at 7:29am
Rubber bands absorb crash damage. They have saved many of my aircraft, I only use 4 on my BlueStik UAV, crashed 8 times during test flights of ArduPilot.

Comment by Sgt Ric on September 25, 2009 at 10:48am
Especially usefull since there's no fuel residue to ruin them!

(that used to be a major annoyance at the flying field)
Comment by sergeibot on September 25, 2009 at 8:01pm
There is a thread about the Busy Bee over at rcgroups. The claim is advanced that this plane has some design issues. Hopefully they are fixed by now.


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 25, 2009 at 8:28pm
Yes, but they've revised the model since that thread, which is almost two years old. I can't guarantee that the plane doesn't have any issues, since I haven't flown it yet, but it's obvious that the plane has been improved since then and I have a newer version.


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