Today the $170 Raven clone we were talking about the other day arrived. Here are some quick impressions after unpacking it.

First, it's BIG. The wingspan is 60" (152 cm), which is about 15% bigger than the real Raven RQ-11 (130cm). Here you can see it head to head with a stock EasyStar.

The build quality seems pretty good. It's all balsa/ply, with no fiberglass or plastic. The tail boom is an aluminum tube. None of it seems very sturdy, however--this is nothing like the real Raven, which is made of carbon fiber and kevlar and designed to crash land.

However, the model comes with NO instructions, and I really have no idea how the wing is supposed to attach to the body, or where the CG is supposed to be, to say nothing of where the rudder and elevator servos are supposed to go, since the interior of the body is totally empty. There are hatches in the wing for the aileron servos, but no mounting rails.

The tail boom just slides into a hole in the body. I guess you're supposed to drill screw holes or something. No clues given.

The motor mount. No information given on suggested motor or prop.

Here's the inside of the body. Basically, this is an empty vessel. You'll have to do a lot of work creating a plywood interior framework for electronics and such.

Wings are built-up balsa. I suppose you're supposed to epoxy the three segments together. I don't see any way to have the wing disassemble into pieces for transport.

It comes with a small bag of generic hardware, including some joke foam wheels and mounting brackets for landing gear that it doesn't have. This is almost certainly a hardware pack intended for another plane. There seems to be no connection to the Raven, although the control horns and fabric hinges could certainly be used on this model. Perplexing...

Bottom line: I really don't think this is the plane for me. Even with instructions, this is going to take many hours to get ready to fly. It's going to be hard to transport, with its large size and one-piece wing, and I'm worried about how it will handle hard landings. The tail boom mount looks fragile to me, and I really can't see how the wing mount can be anything but a fracture waiting to happen.

I think this might work as a very large display model for shows, but I can't really see it holding up to much real flying.

And without instructions, I wouldn't even try making it. For a $170 model, I'd expect more polish. In short, based on what I've seen so far, I can't recommend this.

Views: 9875

Comment by Greg Fletcher on March 27, 2010 at 11:11pm
Rather than taken one for the team,for the rest of us, why did you buy it? We can build it better.
CNC foam cutter. Laser cut balsa & ply, carbon, ect. WE have the technology. In fact, we invented it(got it wor.k...thought of it first. Lets DIOS.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on March 27, 2010 at 11:45pm
Hey, it's what we do! It's a small investment to review the model, so other people can make an informed choice. Until I got it, it wasn't clear that we'd be better off making our own..

Comment by Morli on March 28, 2010 at 12:37am
Very true Chris, while it is a pity that a little more attention and workman ship would have probably made this model a "Model UAV' for the community. I guess , who ever designed it never intended to fly it or never flew the prototype. Seems too many things need to invented to make this model fly and endure the rigors of DIY UAV life. Thanks for sacrifice on behalf of the community. All I can think of is if you have some one who can make a good mold out of this one if possible , correct the defects and add the desirable to it and sell a quality stuff. Even in original Raven the wing pylons made me doubt of its robustness. I guess CF would make the difference. Looks like Any thing other than a perfect landing would most probably crack it in this one. BTW where did you get it from? Is this the same one from Turkey circulating in forum few days back?

Comment by Gary Mortimer on March 28, 2010 at 2:33am
I don't think EPP foam can be beaten for day in day out use, there is a strong descenting voice against carbon fibre in the manned world, the word frangible is one to keep close to any design decisions. That airframe never looked good from the get go, the other one was interesting.
Comment by Max on March 28, 2010 at 3:18am
Maybe you should take it out to the bush and stick it in a loiter and see how well it take rounds from a rifle?? Perhaps its good for something?? ;)
Comment by Earl on March 28, 2010 at 7:18am
On the positive side, it looks like there is plenty of room for a parachute landing system.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on March 28, 2010 at 8:34am
Morli, yes, this is the one sold by that Turkish website, In fairness, they handled the order quickly and gave great status updates and tracking numbers, so credit to them for that. But given how little information there is about the plane on their site, I'm not sure they've ever seen one in person either!
Comment by Scott Plunkett on March 28, 2010 at 9:19am
So out of curiosity...where do we stand on doing an airframe as a community?? I'd be more than happy to lend my expertise to that as a project as well - I have done a lot of wet layup mold work with CF and even some pre-preg. vacuum bag parts as well.I think we could develop a modular airframe that could be seriously robust, and possibly even compete in the broader marketplace.
Comment by Chris McNair on March 28, 2010 at 9:38am
I'm in! I will offer the CAD and CFD.

Comment by Brian on March 28, 2010 at 10:20am
I may not have a background in electronics, but I can build, fly and provide updates to DIY documentation. I'd like to help too.


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