Toledo Show 2009 Report Part Two

Welcome back! If you missed it, check out part one of our Toledo Show coverage.

Miniature Aircraft

Miniature Aircraft was one of only three dedicated helicopter manufacturers at the show (the other two being Hirobo and Thunder Tiger). Among other models on display was the new X-Cell Fury gasser. My apologies, I thought I picked up a flyer with the details, but can’t find it.

The Miniature Aircraft booth.
The X-Cell Fury gasoline-powered heli.

I was drawn to the Razor 600E, an electric powered heli with an unusual gearing system. Rather than changing pinion gears, you change a pulley mechanism between the motor and the rest of the gearing. This should make it easy to change headspeed, and allow this 600 mm heli to accept power from 6S LiPo up to 10 or even 12 cells in series.

The Razor 600E electric heli.
A close-up of the Razor 600E frames. Notice the 120 degree servo placement.
The Razor 600E data sheet.

Precision Aerobatics

Precision Aerobatics, along with 3D Hobby Shop and Extreme Flight, is one of the top-tier ARF makers. I hadn’t seen the recent Extra 260 before in person, but it appears to follow on nicely to their existing 46-48" lineup. It has the same carbon fiber reinforced frame as the popular Katana MD, plus an airfoil tail. Both models sold out on the show floor, but P.A. was offering free shipping for orders placed at the show. I caved in and ordered the red Katana MD I’ve been eyeing for about two years.

It must be Christmas: a tree of Precision Aerobatics ARFs.
The interior of the Extra 260.
The P.A. Extra 260.

Horizon Hobby

The Horizon Hobby booth was one of the largest on the show floor, encompassing all the Spektrum, JR, Park Zone, E-flite, and other family brands. They had two models of the Vibe series of JR helicopters on display. The Vibe 500E is a full-optioned 425 mm blade heli, which competes with the T-Rex 500 and the MSH Protos. In exchange for the $ 699 street price, the Vibe 500E comes with all the CNC upgrades you’d typically buy separately. It has one piece skids and a clean frame design, although the belt drive to the tail was surprisingly thin. It is designed for an E-flite Power 25 heli motor or equivalent.

The Horizon Hobby booth.
The Vibe 500E next to the Vibe 90.
A close-up of the Vibe 500E.

ParkZone had the new four channel Sukhoi SU-26 micro on display, which belongs to the popular Ember and Vapor line of indoor flyers. It’s only available as a bind-n-fly, for use with your existing DSM2 transmitter. In theory it should work with the transmitter that comes bundled with the Vapor, but they recommend a higher-end radio with expo for the Sukhoi. E-flite was also showing the Celectra four port charger, which handles four of these micro one cell LiPo batteries at a time.

The E-flite range of electric micro helicopters.
The Sukhoi SU-26 four channel micro plane.
The E-flite Celectra four port battery charger.

The E-flite 4-Site F3P 250 ARF is a new 3mm Depron indoor plane designed for competition. This biplane has similar construction to the existing Enticement monoplane, including optional airbrakes. These planes are not designed for wind or outdoor use, so make sure you have a large venue to fly them in. The 4-Site will sell for $ 65.

The E-flite 4-Site ARF.
The revised Funtana 125.
The Yak 54 90 size ARF from Seagull.

The Funtana 125 ARF has undergone a redesign. In addition to new graphics, it now has an airfoil tail, which is to be expected in a 70" wingspan plane. Optional side force generators are included, and it will sell for $ 299. Also new is the Yak 54 ARF 90 size in a sharp yellow and black color scheme, for $ 199.

Thunder Tiger

I spent some time looking at the Thunder Tiger Innovator, a completely new collective pitch helicopter. This ready-to-fly pair of models is designed as a complete system, and doesn’t look like anything else out there. This has both advantages and disadvantages. In exchange for proprietary battery packs, you get cell voltage monitoring, and a very cool battery tray which drops down beneath the canopy. The flybar has the paddles molded in for fewer parts and a perfectly balanced head. The Innovator is available in a semi-scale Hughes fuselage for more casual flying, and a pod-and-boom fuselage for 3D flying.

The two models of the Innovator.
The yellow battery tray pivots down below the canopy for loading.
Another view of the Innovators.
The Raptor 50 Titan SE.
A scale MD530 fuselage.
Two scale Cobra bodies to fit the 325 mm Mini Titan mechanics.

Saturn V Rocket and 60% Extra 260

One of the most outrageous things at the show was Steve Eves’s 1:10 scale Saturn V Rocket. At 36 feet tall and weighing 1600 pounds, this incredible model isn’t just huge – it’s designed to fly. It is scheduled to launch on April 25th in Maryland. We wish the team the best of luck.

The enormous Saturn V rocket.
The 60% Extra 260.
Not exactly a park flyer.

Speaking of huge, Elie Houayes brought his 60% Extra 260 to the static display. Eli goes by Snapasaurus on Flying Giants, and does everything big. When I guessed if he was using the 3W 212 cc gas engine, the largest I was aware of, he laughed and told me he was using the 342 cc version! This engine is designed for ultralight full-scale aircraft, not RC. These photos don’t do justice to how large this plane is in person.

Eagle Tree Systems

Eagle Tree was showing their new GPS V3 module, which is substantially smaller and lighter than the previous GPS Expander. They also had a web cam hooked up to a PC to show off the On-Screen Display Pro, which can superimpose a huge range of parameters over a video image.

The new, smaller Eagle Tree GPS sensor at top, compared to the existing unit.
A demo of the Eagle Tree OSD Pro.
A data sheet from Eagle Tree.


I was very happy to see the new Multiplex Funcopter in person for the first time. This durable, fixed-pitch helicopter is larger than a T-Rex 450 and is based on the Lite Machines Corona design. This prototype was still the only unit in the U.S. so far, and is not expected to go on sale until August.

The new Funcopter.
The plastic frames hold a 3S 2100 LiPo with velcro.
These are tentatively the electronics that will be included in the receiver-ready version.
The huge, direct-drive brushless Himax motor.
The Funcopter is a good size heli.
A close-up of the Funcopter head.

My first impression was how heavy the ready-to-fly model felt. The front of the canopy slides off easily, and will either be retained with magnets or snaps. We could not determine how the tail portion of the fuselage comes off. I confirmed that the tail rotor is driven by a shaft geared off the unusual, direct-drive main motor. The head design looked strong and the landing gear felt resilient. I also determined that there is enough room behind the main shaft to mount a standard size gyro like the Futaba GY401 to the top of the frame, without hitting the fuselage. Overall I was impressed and am looking forward to flying it.

The Hitec/Multiplex booth.
The new Merlin powered glider, which is smaller than I expected.

Innov8tive Designs/Scorpion

Innov8tive Designs, the U.S. distributor of Scorpion products, had a large booth which a huge variety of motors and speed controllers. I got to chat briefly with Lucien Miller, the man who never sleeps, who was showing a few interesting upcoming products. Besides the enormous high voltage ESCs, going up to 250A, he had a sample of a Scorpion inrunner motor. From what I can tell, the goal is to address every electric power system need, from park flyer to giant scale. I’m using Scorpion motors in my E-flite Taylorcraft and Century Swift 16 with great results so far.

Miles of Scorpion motors, as far as the eye can see.
A prototype Scorpion inrunner.
This enormous ESC is rated up to 68V and 250A.
The Scorpion S-5545-16 outrunner.

Castle Creations

The Phoenix ICE data sheet.

Castle Creations had a display of the upcoming Phoenix ICE ESCs, which are due to ship in mid-May 2009. They will come in 50A, 75A, and 100A versions, and all feature a 5A switching BEC built-in. Maybe even more interesting is that they all feature data logging capabilities, similar to the Eagle Tree products. In addition to the standard voltage, amp draw, watts, and cumulative milliamp hours, the ICE ESCs also monitor motor RPM and ESC temperature without the use of external sensors. As with the rest of the line, USB connectivity to your computer is accomplished with the CastleLink interface, which allows downloading and graphing of the log files. Castle also plans a version of the ICE line with a large heatsink, meant for helicopters and other low-airflow applications.

Patrick also showed me the upcoming line of brushless motors, the details of which have not been announced. They will be using premium quality steel and bearings, and are designed for high efficiency. It appears Castle is jumping into electric motors in a big way. They will continue to distribute the Steve Neu motor line for those who want hand-wound boutique motors.

Other Products

Here’s a sample of other products from the show floor.

Mike Fritz’s asymmetrical Boomerang.
The ICARE booth.
The Magellan E, top, and Magellan XL, bottom from ICARE.
The Aero Model booth.
Hacker motors, growing on a tree.
The Hangar 9 Toledo Special 40-50 ARF.
Orest Drobey’s scale B-36 with six pusher props.
A scale Navy bomber.
Sepp Viberlacher’s Hawker Hurricane.
An F-15 Eagle.
Chris Wolfe’s A-7E Prototype.
Tejera Micro Systems had a four port micro battery adapter for their Extrema charger.
The OMP booth.
Jeff Holsinger’s gorgeous turbine-powered helicopter.
A close-up of the propane starter, ECU, and wiring.
A123 M1 packs for the T-Rex 500.
A view from one corner of the main show floor.

Swap Shop

The second floor of the SeaGate Convention Center features the annual swap meet. This ranged from individuals to smaller vendors, filling up hallway after hallway, and a number of smaller conference rooms too. I also saw many new products at 20% off the normal online prices.

One of the swap shop rooms.
The upstairs hallways were packed with swap shop tables.

Matt Chapman Talk

On Saturday afternoon, airline captain and full-scale air show pilot Matt Chapman gave a lecture followed by a Q&A session which was very interesting. By his own admission he’s something of an amateur in radio control but still loves it, and works with Hobbico to build scale models of his full-scale planes. He told a great story about how the "paint ball" color scheme gave the Great Planes designers heartburn, but how they actually learned a lot from it. He also got more serious at times and talked about how many of his fellow air show pilots have been killed over the years, and how almost every accident was preventable. I won’t spoil his other anecdotes, or what he thinks about Chuck Yeager, but if you get a chance to see him speak I definitely recommend it.

Matt Chapman with his Eagle 580 replica.
The program of speakers and talks.
A little bit about Matt’s fullsize acrobat.


The Toledo Show, now in it’s 55th year, is a very impressive event, and a lot of fun to attend. I spent two full days from nine to five on the show floor, and could easily have gone back Sunday. The combination of the show, plus the ETOC competition in the evenings, makes for a terrific weekend.

Throughout the show I asked vendors what they thought of the attendance, and the general feeling was that the show was as big as ever. I suspect the Toledo Show is far enough away from the AMA Show in California three months earlier to attract a large crowd from a different part of the country. My only disappointment was the small helicopter turnout. There were no booths from Align, Century, Gaui, Kyosho, Mikado, MSH, or Outrage.

Hope to see you in Toledo, Ohio next year, I’ll definitely be back. Thanks to Mark Livingstone for his help.  read more »

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