Over the last year, I’ve been looking at a lot of 3D/Sport ships in the 45-55″ range. The PA Extra MX really attracted me at first, I loved the idea that I could just use commodity 3s 2200 batteries and enjoy high-dollar 6S performance. For 3 minutes...
I also looked at the 50″ Matt Chapman Eagle 580. That’s one nice looking airplane, and the reviews were glowing. I flew it on the sim for a few weeks, started looking at powerplant options, and that’s when my past experience with the whole Electrifly reality kicked in. I remembered the specialized motor mounts and weird proprietary stuff associated with my last Electrifly ARF, and decided to wait a while until somebody had documented a good motor conversion.
I wasn’t looking that hard, or thinking about this very much at all when I wandered over to my LHS one afternoon for some fasteners. Lo and behold, one the shelf was the brand new E-Flite Extra I had heard about from SEFF press. Great looking kit, perfect wingspan, and I started to notice things: Fully built up airfoil on the horizontal stab and rudder. No externally visible cowl screws. Cockpit latch. High quality wheel pants included. Decent hardware, from the factory, including a nice looking pull/pull setup!
I had been a little bit disappionted with some of the details in previous E-Flite kits, and the Extra looked like it had raised the mark. The hook was set.
Over the next 48 hours, I realized that I had a brand new Power 32 in stock, a Turnigy Plush 60, an AR6200 and even a CC/BEC sitting new in inventory. This made the purchase even more attractive, $199 for the ARF less my LHS club discount, 4 servos, and I was off to the races.
A few days later, I purchased the ARF and 4 HS-225MG servos. E-Flite says you can get by on MN48′s, but the Hitec servos are a good deal, and JR does not have an analog Hi-Torque servo anywhere close to the price range. It was perfect, a low cash outlay for a lot of airplane, even more so for me due to the fact that I had so many useful parts already stashed.
When I started the build, the quality of the kit blew my mind. E-Flite has always made nice ARF’s, but this was a step above. Right off the bat, I decided to slow down and have some fun with the linkage. E-Flite was already using nice aluminum control horns, and I decided to eliminate as much nylon as I could from some of those linkages.
Enter Central Hobbies, and the Dubro catalog. Central Hobbies does some wonderful pushrod hardware, designed for much larger aircraft. I used the small stuff in their line, some 2-56 titanium ends and the recommended CF rod. You cut the CF to size, and JB weld or epoxy the ends in. A steel clevis is used on one end, and a 2-56 Dubro ball link at the servo end. The finished product is a threadable, adjustable link that is extremely light, strong, and attractive to look at.
The rudder linkage was a joy. I like pull-pull setups, and the only modification I made was to use metal clevis parts instead of the supplied nylon ones. I used the same Dubro threaded clevis and std 2-56 pushrod on the ailerons, it’s a short rod and plenty strong that way.
Mounting the motor was straightforward, and I loved the adjustable motor mount. No matter what motor you want to put on your Extra, you can probably bolt it right up without worries.
I was using the Power 32, but I had another little problem. The recommended 2.25″ E-Flite aluminum spinner was on pan-Galactic backorder at the time, with a long lead time. I happened to have a nice ‘Ultimate’ spinner in the right size, but it didn’t have enough plunge to engage the motor shaft. I used some nuts that were a little over 1/4″ tall to space out the motor, and all was well.
Ultimate Spinner on Extra 32e
When it came time to set up the electronics, I decided to use a tried and true Turnigy Plush 60, powered by a Rhino 3700 4S battery. I also incorporated a Castle CC/BEC to power the electronics, because I wanted to drive the servos at 6 volts. I used a Spektrum AR6200 RX, and also incorporated the SPM1600 capacitor. I probably don’t have any real reason for using these, especially with a quality seperate BEC installed, but I used it anyway.
I closed up the canopy on my trimmed down Hangar 9 pilot that night, after a getting a preliminary idea on CG, and radio setup. As I mounted the balanced 13×6.5 APC prop, I could not wait for morning to arrive. It came up to 4.1lbs all up.
The maiden flight was splendidly uneventful. The ground handling is great, and the big power 32 rolled it into the air with authority at 50% throttle with minimal rudder correction. I had to give it one click of up trim, and that was that. I flew it around for a few minutes (half of the expected 7+ minutes) and brought it in for a nice slow powered approach. I find nice three point landings particularly easy and rewarding with this airplane.
In subsequent flights, I moved the CG a little further back from the recommended for better hovering, swapped out the prop for a PA Vox 14×7 (sounds and flies great!), and tuned the throws to my personal liking.
I really like this airplane. I’ve been taking it out every time I go flying, and I have fun flying it slow, fast, and some 3D within the limits of my skill and bravery. I think it’s one of the best behaved model airplanes I’ve ever flown, and I’d highly recommend it to anybody looking for an economical, versatile sport ship.
Full build gallery here.