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These reviews are just my humble opinion, everyone is allowed to have them, these are mine


Engines


O.S.

I have dealt with many of the O.S. line, including the old "SF" series. All engines are very nice and have a tremendous life span, if well maintained. I am running an older .46 SF on my Starfire, and though old, it still peaks at ~12,000 RPM with a Master Airscrew 11x7. My uncle runs a .46 FX on his Kaos with very good luck. Over the summer he also put a brand new "old" .46 SF on an Estes Tigershark with a Mac's tuned pipe. It was turning an Airscrew 10x8 at 14,500 RPM and was hitting 135 MPH in a shallow dive. Very impressive!! The only thing that i would recommend is removing the baffle from the pipe, as this seems to enhance performance to some extent.

Supertigre
As most European engines are, Supertigres are of the utmost in quality. The only one thing that makes them a bit difficult is the carbuerator jet positioning. I found that it is best to position it so that it is spraying directly into the fuel intake. This is only accomplished with continual adjustments, so take your time. My personal suggestion is to break it in with a low nitro castor fuel, and if you choose to do so, switch to a 15% Nitro synthetic at a later date. I also found that it takes much longer to break it in than the instructions say. It doesn't take that long to get it running fair, but it does take longer to get it running consistently well. Mine (a G-51) turns an APC 11x7 at about 13,000 RPM at the high end and a nice smooth idle at 3,000 RPM. The only thing i may also add is that I am running a Slimline "Pitts" muffler, so that may affect the performance differently from the supplied muffler and stack. Once it is running well and you can accurately test the limits, it is a very powerful powerplant. I am running my G-51 on a GreatPlanes Extra 300S .40, so my vertical envelope is nearly unlimited. It flies the plane with authority and I am very pleased with it!

K&B
Another superb engine! I haven't got to run my Quickie .40 yet, but am anxious to do so! The manufacturer's claims are that it turns a 9x6 @ 19,000 RPM (with a tuned pipe). I am a bit skeptical of this idea, but i have no doubt that it will easily hit somewhere in the 16,000-18,000 RPM range. I am planning to put this hot little .40 on a Direct Connection S-3 Doddger. With any luck, I'll be hitting around the 100 MPH mark on a calm day. I'll keep you updated on the progress.

Enya
The latest addition to my collection. I just got a Enya .40 SS BB for my GreatPlanes Dazzler. The engine, at $75, seems to be a great value. It is Schnuerle ported, as seems to be the standard today. The crankshaft is smooth as silk and the compression is very tight. The claims of awesome power are very likely to be true...I'll have to get it started soon and let you know!
***NEW 5/27***
I have since broken in and tuned my Enya. With the 9x5, it screams, to put it simply. I neglected to tach it out, but will some time. I run a Zinger 10x6 on it as a normal with 10% Cool Power. It is very reliable and runs well at all speeds. As i originally guessed, it runs with an incredible amount of power and will power my Dazzler very well.

Planes/Kits

GreatPlanes
I am going to start with GP because that is what I have the most experience with. As you may have read, I have built their Extra 300S .40 kit. This was the first plane I ever built, and it provided little challenge. I am currently building the Dazzler, and that is proving to be a simple task also. All their kits come with full size plans and photo detailed instructions. The wood is of very high quality and the die-cuts are nearly perfect. What doesn't interlock or have building tabs goes together exceptionally well also. The hardware package is exceptional, usually including everything from pusrods to engine mounts to screws. The only one complaint I would have to make is that I have found that when they call for "x" inches of sheeting, it is usually 3/8" short of "x". This doesn't usually cause a problem, but when you need to use leftover, it means you have to buy more balsa. Balsa is cheap anyway!! Other than that, you can't go wrong with a GreatPlanes!!
***NEW 5/27***
I have finished, covered, hooked up, and run my Dazzler. I have it set up with my Futaba 6XA with airbrake, flaperon, dual rates on both aileron and elevator, and a couple of other unique touches, including a dual bomb drop operated by an extra servo on the gear channel. I have not flown it yet, but am hoping for a calm day soon to try it out. Hope to have pics soon.

Hobbico
Another good company. Although I haven't done much with their products, I did learn to fly on a Starfire. This has to be one of the sweetest little planes i have ever flown! Although I did beat the crap out of it on several occasions, minimal damage occurred and rebuilds were done easily. Whether you want to fly lazy loops on a Sunday afternoon or light the sky on fire, this plane can do it. This is especially nice for a pilot who wants a second plane. A friend recently bought the ASAP Extra 300S .60, and commented on the ease of assembly. Worth a look for anyone, especially the "ARF shopper". Overall, very good planes.

Direct Connection
Just got the Doddger for christmas and haven't started building yet. Looks to be a very nice kit. The balsa seems to be nice and dense, and the foam wing cores straight. The only little thing that might detract from value is the lack of instructions. The plan is very nice, but the lack of detail on the instructions may lead to trouble for the novice. I'll keep you updated.
***Update 4/27***
Upon construction, i have found it to be a VERY easy build. all formers are precut and bagged, and sheeting the foam wings is very simple, even though those are my first foam wings. The lack of clarity in instructions hurts a little, but the plans are very clear, and if you are a reasonably experienced builder, you'll have no problems. I am constructing mine in the V-Tail style, and am anxious for the first flights. I've got the fuselage together, the wings joined, and hope to be done shortly... Construction techniques are pretty basic, but i am doing everything they recommend to reinforce the airframe to withstand the stresses of high speed flying.
***UPDATE 5/24***
I'm almost done with the Doddger. I just got done working on it a lttle more. The construction is simple, but you must think ahead and not do anything dumb. I've modified the design in a couple of spots (i.e using 8-32 cap screws to mount the landing gear and 6-32 machine screws to mount the wing) This almost got me in trouble once or twice (like remembering to put the blind nuts in before installing mout plates instead of following the directions). This is a real low rider without much clearance, so you may want to avoid the nose overs! My K&B quickie .40 with the matching pipe are going to provide a slight clearance problem, but I'll work around it. The wing is glassed, mounted, etc. and the V-tail is built and hinged. Should have pics shortly.

Tower Hobbies
While you may only think of Tower as a Catalog, they also "do" planes. The only two I have dealt with from Tower are the Kaos and the Extra Special .40 (a profile Extra 300) My uncle has both models, and both fly great. This is not only testament to his building/flying skills, but also to the kit quality of Tower. From his reports, both went together very well and they both fly superbly! The Kaos, like the aforementioned Starfire, can do anything you want it to. The Extra, however, is more or less limited to "hot" flying. With a dual rate setup, low rates are plenty, and high rates are almost too much to handle. Whichever mode you'd prefer, the plane flies very nicely.


Radio Equipment

Futaba
Perhaps the leader in the of radio equipment, Futaba is a very good product. Although the two Futaba radios I have are the older "Conquest" FM models, I have also dealt with the Skysports and their 7 channel computer model. All the Skysports really are are revamped versions of the Conquest, so there isn't much to comment on there. The basis of operation is the same, and they've added a handle and an improved ergonomic feel. As for their computer radios, a couple of guys at the field have the 7 channel model. Even though it is aimed at the helicopter pilot (includes a hover/throttle dial and other helicopter exclusive features), it serves the airplane pilot very well. However, it is not something a beginner or even a novice wants to get into. You have to know what you want to do and how to make the control surfaces do that to use a computer system to it's fullest extent. There really is no wonder Futaba is one of the first choices of the pros!!


The 6XA
Another purchase on my recent venture to the hobby shop. I have gotten my Dazzler partially set up with it and I am very anxious to get to fly it. This radio can do most anything an actual plane can: from flaperons and airbrake to elevons and V tail to channelized mixing (i.e. 2-6 mix). The layout is very nice. There are separate D/R switches for elevator and aileron, the gear switch is at your left, as is your flap dial. On the right you have you airbrake and your flaps/elevator mix switch. At $210.00 for a computer radio, receiver, batteries, and 4 S3003 servos, you can't beat it with a stick!
***NEW 5/27***
I have set up my Dazzler with many of the included programs of the 6XA, and it is one sweet plane. Not sure of how it flies, but everything was much easier to set up with features such as subtrim, ATV, and other such goodies. Definitely worth the extra money!

Hitec/RCD
Although I haven't owned anything from this company, it was going to be what i was going to buy before i found a very good deal on another system. Their basic line is of high quality and priced very reasonably. The "Flash" series (4 and 5 channel models) are a basic computer radio priced at a very good price. The last time I looked at one, you could get the Flash 4 at a price at or below the price most companies sell their bare bones system for.


Accessories
I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the accessories since there are so many companies with so many products. I will do a quick run through though.

DuBro
Hands down one of my favorite manufacturers! All of their products are very good and of high quality. What else can I say?

Robart
Good retracts. Maybe they should stick to them? I haven't had much good luck with Robart. I bought an Ultra-Fueler and it was a piece of junk. It leaked air and drooled fuel all over the place. The seal between the "valves" wasn't to great. This isn't a fair judgement, but it does discourage me from trying more of their products.

GreatPlanes
Not only do they make Great Planes, but they also turn out some Great Accessories too! I use their engine mounts exclusively and have found many of their other products to be very good also.

Sig
Like GreatPlanes, they also do some pretty good accessories. I prefer their CA hinges to any other, and they have a good selection of other hardware related items.

Dave Brown
Home of the Six Shooter fuel pump. This pump is a fail-safe! (be sure to prime it or you'll never move any fuel!) I keep one with me at all times at the airfield. I normally use an electric pump, but batteries have a tendency to die. In general, you can't go wrong with their products. Also makes a decent flight-sim for the computer.

Exhaust Systems
Other than systems that are made by the same company as your engine, here are a few that I have found to be good...
Slimline
J'Tec
Mac's
Bisson
and
OPS