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EDF Power System Evolution or NOT.

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  • EDF Power System Evolution or NOT.

    Hey guys. As winter is now upon us I've been thinking more about my EDF’s, pros & cons. I have read replies on both sides of the edf isle and I get it. However, my biggest and frankly the only con I have is the flight time as others have also mentioned in various forums. I have a 70mm (Admiral 4S) Rebel & a 80mm (Admiral 6s) Hawk edf. The scale airframe, flight characteristics, included landing gear and such is great and comes with a great price tag as well. So, I have only positive things to say about the edf aircraft itself. The edf power to weight ratios are typically pretty decent and I have been so far, very pleased with the performance. I’ve heard and understand the scientific breakdown of edf power requirements, battery usage, physics, and current draw. In light of all that surrounds the limitations of edf power systems flight times, I still find myself discouraged.

    So, the question for me now becomes, what, if any, options exist for converting an edf power system to a glow powered ducted system, extending battery life, or anything that will improve flight times. Turbines are out of the question for me due to costs. I wish I could afford turbines but that will just have to remain a dream until the Wells Fargo truck decides to unload a pallet of money at my house. I am an extreme lover of “Jets”, I love the speed & thrill of flying them. However, I now find myself regressing back to my gas powered, stick built planes just to mainly get 8-10 minutes of flying times. I prefer to fly until I get ready to land and not being forced to land. The typical 3 minute time period for my edf’s goes by insanely fast. It literally feels that no sooner I get airborne, settled in, a few loops, rolls or whatever, my 3 minute alarm is going off, WOW! I've tried changing my flying habits from one end of the spectrum to the other with little to no noticeable changes in times. I know most of you will disagree with my complaint and that's ok as we all do not view this topic the same. Yes, I understand this thread is yet another example of beating a dead horse. Regardless, I still can’t help thinking that in this day of modern technology, we cannot find a way to get more than 3 minutes out of a edf power system.

    Do you think the edf flight times will ever increase or has the edf flight times limit been reached?

    Ideas? Thoughts?
    www.23T.weebly.com

  • #2
    The $64,000 question.

    My belief is EDF flight times will not get any better until new battery technology is introduced. This new battery technology won't only benefit our EDFs, but electric cars, full scale electric aircraft, and solar energy systems needing a better storage capacity.

    Thus, since I have no control over new battery technology, I've learned to get a longer flight time on "jets", turbine is the way to go. Yes, I often hear "they cost too much", yet, this comment typically comes from individuals that own $5-6,000 dollars in EDFs and batteries. With the introduction and perpetuation of foamie turbines now, you could have a couple turbines for the same cost.

    Since I've given up on waiting for that new battery technology, I've decided to move into turbines. I'll never get fully away from EDFs, there are some inherent simplicities and conveniences of electric. However, I'm not one to own every EDF ever produced. I find what I like, and I fly it...a lot. So I don't need, or want 10+ EDFs...I have two. Thus, I save my hobby money, not to put it toward the next EDF release, but put it toward a great flying turbine...I now have two (I bought used).

    I fully understand our purchases are limited by our paychecks. However, knowing the technological limits of EDFs, and the now technological advances in turbines, the question to me is, where do you want to be in this hobby? Decide...and get there.

    Just my 2 cents worth,

    Sean

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by EDFjetpilot View Post
      The $64,000 question.

      My belief is EDF flight times will not get any better until new battery technology is introduced. This new battery technology won't only benefit our EDFs, but electric cars, full scale electric aircraft, and solar energy systems needing a better storage capacity.

      Thus, since I have no control over new battery technology, I've learned to get a longer flight time on "jets", turbine is the way to go. Yes, I often hear "they cost too much", yet, this comment typically comes from individuals that own $5-6,000 dollars in EDFs and batteries. With the introduction and perpetuation of foamie turbines now, you could have a couple turbines for the same cost.

      Since I've given up on waiting for that new battery technology, I've decided to move into turbines. I'll never get fully away from EDFs, there are some inherent simplicities and conveniences of electric. However, I'm not one to own every EDF ever produced. I find what I like, and I fly it...a lot. So I don't need, or want 10+ EDFs...I have two. Thus, I save my hobby money, not to put it toward the next EDF release, but put it toward a great flying turbine...I now have two (I bought used).

      I fully understand our purchases are limited by our paychecks. However, knowing the technological limits of EDFs, and the now technological advances in turbines, the question to me is, where do you want to be in this hobby? Decide...and get there.

      Just my 2 cents worth,

      Sean
      Have you converted any of these foamy EDF's to tubine?
      www.23T.weebly.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by CVA59 View Post

        Have you converted any of these foamy EDF's to tubine?
        I have not, and really don't have any interest to do so, particularly since I'm finding converting a 90mm EDF to turbine really isn't the best return on your investment. Plus, I believe "bigger flies better" and I'm liking the size of the 60-80N engined aircraft over the size of a 20-30N (80-90mm EDF equivalent, BTW, those small engines are ridiculously expensive) engined aircraft. Not to mention, it definitely takes some build and engineering skills to do a conversion and I'm not quite there yet with my turbine experience. And in reality, I don't consider myself a "builder" anymore, but instead a "flyer", thus I greatly prefer PnPs.

        The turbine jet PnP options are increasing every year. Of course, HSD appears to have started the foam turbine jet revolution (and continues with their new T-33 and soon an F-86) and now GJC Aerofoam is bringing more aircraft to the market as well. These foam turbine jets are about 60-65% the cost of a composite counterpart...which you can also find PnP options in as well these days.

        So I guess in short, I don't have a desire to convert an EDF when manufacturers are now releasing PnP foam turbine jets for the same price as a handful of 90mm EDFs.

        Sean

        Comment


        • #5
          EDFjetpilot...............Thank you for the info, I looked at the HSD and the GJC stuff. All I can say is WOW!!! I cannot afford nor would I ever spend $3-4K on an airframe and then another $3-4K on a turbine or even half that much. I LOVE this hobby more than anything! But, it is just a hobby. If it were a business that required me to spend that kind of money OR i was rich, then I would but, again, it is only a hobby for me and those prices are unbelievably insane for me.

          I have been in this hobby for 30 years now. I find myself today wondering when flying R/C planes went from a hobby that most all people (adults and kids) could partake of across the board to a hobby that has now been split up into the wealthier targeted groups, and the less wealthier targeted group. It seems that a large portion of the "good stuff" on the market today is priced more for the wealthier class of flyer. DO NOT misunderstand my comment. I don't give a crap if a person is wealthy and can afford these insane prices today, I am happy for them. They are the ones who help keep this hobby growing. However, there are others who simply cannot afford a box full of 6S and/or 8S packs to get a decent day worth of flight times. Yes, yes, I know technology (which I despise) cost money but this has gotten out of hand IN MY OPINION. I miss the day of having my old Futuaba Conquest TX which even back then was affordable. If someone would have told me even 10-15 years ago that a 50-60" EP "foam" prop plane would cost $500.00, I would have called the mental health hotline to have them evaluated. Today, to get a nice version (63" or more) EP prop rig, $500.00 is pretty much the standard. Then you have to buy the 6S or 8S packs and there again $100 to 125 bucks a pop. All I can say is WOW!

          So, after having spent much time debating with myself on my concerns with edf flight times vs. cost vs. gas/glow/turbine, here’s what I have come up with. Anyone care to join in, please do so and YES, at the end of the day I do understand this all comes down to one’s preference and I know things “are the way they are” with edf flight times. I am just laying my thoughts out on here for comments/discussion/ideas.

          All the years I built and flew stick planes with glow and gas engines, I could get on average 8-10 minutes per flight. Any given trip to the field would yield on average for me 6 flights or more provided there were no issues. Fuel consumption (costs) for the day would be would be at the worst $4.00 and that’s really stretching it. So, 8 to 10 minutes a flight and 6 flights a day would be 48 to 60 minutes +/- with again, the cost of fuel to power the plane(s) is approx. $4.00 for the day. My 1 gallon can will give many flights @ $2.25 a gallon plus $5.00 for a bottle of oil.

          So, for edf’s, I have 2 and love them both. One uses an Admiral 3000-4S and the other uses an Admiral 5000-6S pack. First, let’s just take the 70mm edf that uses the 4S packs. At 3 minutes per flight, flying 6 times would mean I would need to have 3 packs for 9 minutes of total flying time to match the gas/glow planes. For the day I would need to have a total of 18 packs for the same flying times as the gas/glow. So, 18 packs @ $40.00 = $720.00. NO, I do not recharge at the field, my trips to the field are not “all day trips”, I typically only have time to go there, visit a little, fly and them head back home which is 1.5 hours each way.

          Now, same thing with the 80mm edf that uses the 6S packs except more expensive. At 3 minutes per flight, flying 6 times would mean I would need to have 3 packs for 9 minutes of total flying time to match the gas/glow planes. For the day I would need to have a total of 18 packs for the same flying times as gas/glow. So, 18 packs @ $109.00 = $1,962.

          MY OPINION is that this is insane! I CANNOT afford this many packs even if buying them over a fair amount of time. By the time I got to the 18th pack, it would be time to start over again replacing the oldest ones if not sooner. Essentially creating a circle of buying packs that never ends. YES, I service/maintain my packs we well to get the longest life possible out of them. Honestly, I could deal with the 3-minute flight times much easier if the packs were NOT priced the way they are. I mean come on, $100.00 for a 6S pack is ridiculous! Ok, so the technology is what it is and that is all it will ever be let’s hypothetically say, but there has to be way to shave some of the cost of the packs. If packs lasted for several years, ok, fine, it would not be such a bad investment over time but they don’t last for years. So, again, here's my question; how does one justify the rationale in the numbers as I broke down above. YES, IT IS apples and apples because flight times are flight times no matter what propels the aircraft. I know there are die hard edf guys out there that if packs were $1,000.00 a piece they would buy them. I still do not understand the justification of edfs vs. fuel based on flight times. I know EP prop rigs give slightly more flight times but again, we are back the cost of the plane plus the cost of the packs. Too much to me.

          I’m not looking for a debate, I am only interested in hearing you guys thoughts, I know there is no apparent answer to improved flight times. I am simply looking for discussion.
          www.23T.weebly.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Forrestal,

            I'd say check your math...the new HSD T-33 would be around $3300 with turbine and batteries, just add your receiver and fuel. Yes, it's still a big chunk of change, but not near the $5,900 for an equivalent composite...which is all you could get until about 6 years ago when the foam turbine jets started to hit the market. But I understand your point and don't want to stray too far from it, I just wanted to clarify the costs of turbine jets I made reference to earlier.

            I do respectfully disagree that there are targeted markets of wealthier and less-wealthier groups. Instead, I'd say the target market is across the board and hits all groups (or paycheck levels). And although technology comes at a cost, over time, it gets cheaper. I remember my first 64mm EDFs costing near $350 and paying $60 for a 3S/2200 lipo. Thankfully prices have come down and I believe more people can enter the hobby for less cost than what I paid when I made my jump into EDF jets 10 years ago.

            However, I do feel EDFs have reached their peak until a new battery technology comes available. And when it does, I don't expect it to be any cheaper than our current lipos. But I do expect over time, the costs will come down. So although we'll most likely have longer flight times in the future, I'm sure initially it will cost us more.

            Also, my point about the turbine jets is that technology has been advancing to simplify their operation while the price of turbine engines has come down as well. Thus, it's a lot cheaper to get into turbines today than it was about 5-6 years ago. It's not necessarily affordable for everyone, but it is now in reach for me when it hasn't been in the past.

            Like you, I'm passionate about flying jets, and really don't care to fly anything else. Now I really have to work hard to avoid all the hype when a new EDF jet is released...I'd sure like to have every one of them. But instead, I found a couple I really enjoy flying and look forward to my flying buddies flying the newly released EDF jets so I still get to see them fly, yet still only for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes though, while I save my hobby money for a foam turbine jet.

            One bit of advice I'll give you is don't drive yourself crazy calculating the real costs of our EDF jets and comparing it to other aspects of the hobby. I quit playing golf because I thought it was getting too expensive. Then after I crashed one of my favorite EDF jets and calculated the cost per flight, golf was starting to look good again.

            I'll close on this note, remember where this hobby was when you started 30 years ago...and look where we are now. Of course, we'll always want more out of our hobby, however this hobby has a lot more to offer today than what it did 30 years ago. And I know that all to well since I started over 35 years ago myself.

            I think you brought up some good discussion points and only take my comments as my thoughts. I hope others chime in with their thoughts.

            Sean

            Comment


            • #7
              Good open minded discussion here, guys, I enjoy it and hope others chime in, too.

              I think leading the development of our premier Freewing products over the past ~6 years gives me certain insights that may contribute to this discussion. Here are some of my initial thoughts and reactions after reading others' observations so far:

              1) "Good". In terms of EDF jets, "good" is usually more expensive because most customers equate "Good" with "More". More features, more functions, more size, more performance, more choices. Suspension struts, LEDs, larger size, stronger power systems, different color schemes, different finish levels, etc. A "good" 90mm jet with all the bells and whistles will always cost more than a "good" 64mm hand launcher, because the latter simply cannot fit all that is required to qualify as "good" in the 90mm category. Over the past five years we've seen electric retracts become industry-wide standard for EDFs 70mm and up, we've seen suspension struts become almost always included stock, we've seen LEDs and sequenced gear doors and now inrunners surge in popularity insofar as increasingly consistent numbers of customers requesting that more expensive inrunners become standard.

              Related to "Good" is subject matter. In an increasingly globally connected online community, interests can both pool together while other interests seem to always diverge. I of all people observe the drum beats for more and more diverse aircraft. This group wants a Concorde, this group a Blackbird or Hustler or Valkyrie, this group an Aardvark or Tornado or Gulfstream or Hun or Corsair II or, or, or. See my "How It's Made" article for a tip of the iceberg taste of the resources required to bring just one model to market. Spoiler alert: It's neither easy nor guaranteed.

              2) Battery Value. I'd agree with the observation that the cost per watt has come down dramatically in recent years. I used to love ICDFs... loud and messy, but fun! Turbines throughout, of course, through their own set of growing pains and emerging as consistently safe tech. On the battery side, the hobby evolved upward through sub-Cs, NiMHs and NiCads, early LiPos, then modern LiPos. Customers have seen the cost per watt drop while the performance and most importantly the manufacturing consistency has improved. Competition has weeded out bad suppliers, consolidation has cut out middlemen, customer knowledge has risen to scrutinize misleading marketing.

              My years with our battery factories show year over year improvement, more as a causality of rising expectations of consistency from their industrial customers (mobile devices, civil projects, etc). We as a hobby benefit by association, but we as a global hobby don't have the volume to drive actual change. Most of us here would likely be very surprised what feeds those companies, and the industries that are actually driving --and by that I mean investing in-- innovations from the mine in Angola to the BMS manufacturer.

              3) "3 Minutes". I would also add that the "3 minute" flight time barrier is not set in stone. I have, as one can imagine, flown literally every Freewing jet we've produced, every FMS and Horizon and Dynam jet we've ever sold, and many, many, many jets from more factories than most of us here are even aware exist. I can confidently say that none of my 70mm-105mm jets have a timer set lower than 4 minutes. In my job, I log about 3,000 flights per year, and I've never dead-sticked unless it was on purpose for testing. Many pilots, including our customers, factory/company pilots, and myself, regularly fly our more recent 80mm and 90mm jets for four minutes (a 25% increase over 3 minutes), or five minutes (a 40% increase over 3 minutes). Throttle management and energy management is key. I can fly the 90mm Raptor for 6 minutes on a 6s 5000, while I've seen my Chinese colleagues empty the same battery in 3 minutes, in the same field, same ASL, same temperature and wind conditions. I think that's less an observation of the battery's power density than it is about the pilot's usage of it.

              My point in 2) and 3) above is that aerodynamic efficiencies from the design team, and pilot input in the air, will net more noticeable results than waiting on the next leap in battery tech. Even when the next magical battery chemistry emerges, it will be a while before it benefits the average hobbyist at the current price per watt per minute. In the meantime, one can reasonably add 25% more flight time above this supposed "3 minute" barrier with throttle management alone with zero added weight or cost.

              4) Turbines, foam turbines, et al. I've flown several foamy turbine conversions, both from Freewing and HSD. I see the appeal, but I've also seen the numbers. It is undeniably a smaller market. Cost barriers, flying field constraints, and other factors limit the current ceiling of that market segment. I do still see room to grow, and I encourage people interested in it to research and make their own assessment if it's for them. Several of my friends at Apollo field in California have been running the HSDs for years now since the first batch arrived, and there's a wealth of feedback and shared experiences online. If it sounds appealing to you, now is a good time to get involved.

              Also undeniable is the lowered cost of certain turbine classes, and the lower barrier to entry as a direct result of increased consistency, better design, better ECU and more stable support equipment, better support structure, etc. Turbines of 10 or 15 years ago were arguably less "turn key" than a modern Jetcat or Kingtech. HSD's involvement with Ace further lowered the barrier to entry for people wanting to get involved in turbines. But it's still a $3k+ proposition, plus fuel, plus maintenance cycle costs, plus --always important to consider-- Pucker Factor. An 80mm Avanti EDF can be flown at virtually any RC field I can think of in the ~10 countries in which I've flown. But the list of turbine-friendly fields is, unfortunately, much shorter.

              Thankfully, I don't think any of us here would devolve into a "turbine vs EDF" comparison, since they truly are entirely different animals, and their cost of ownership and operation should be calculated on separate terms. Suffice to say, I think that more options for the modern pilot is better, because we are individuals with individual preferences, priorities, and constraints of our budget, transportation, field access, and Time.

              5) The Waiting Is the Hardest Part --Tom Petty. A final thought on the Current State of things. When I was a kid, I could only begin to dream of an airplane that performed as it does today for the price it costs me in time and money. If I had chosen to wait until that dream of technology came true, I would have waited on the sidelines as 20 years of the hobby passed me by... that would seem in hindsight to be a waste. My point is, life is an ever-moving stream. Rather than wait out on the shore each day for what tomorrow will bring, I'd rather jump in now --there's plenty to enjoy as it is Here and Now.




              Comment


              • #8
                EDFjetpilot................ Yes, I can see your points on all sides and I digress. I will have to stand on the outlook that these aspects I spoke of are nothing more than relative to ones on desires, interests and outlook towards how much bang one gets for his buck. Coming from stick built glow engines, as i said above, I could fly until I got tired and was ready to land so that is my default "fallback" whether fair or not I guess. . Again, my interests in this hobby is the actual in air flying and not so much building anymore. The fun factor for me comes from all the various challenges of spending time making a aircraft perform in a various ways. To only have 3-4 minutes for me is just not enough time in the air. I do also enjoy the flat out "fast as she'll go fly by's" as much as anyone but scale flying for me is much more than that even when I'm flying a jet. I guess, one example of what I am pulling from is, many years ago I had a SIG King Kobra prop jet. It had a Rossi .90 (rebuilt by Rossi), tuned pipe, mechanical retracts. This thing would out run any jet that I've ever flown (except for turbines of course). I could not believe how insanely fast this Kobra was and although it was a prop job and I know is in a category all of its own and not really comparable to edf's, it still would fly with jet like characteristics and would give me 6-8 minutes consistently per flight. Again, I know I am now comparing apples to oranges but just as a reference for some of why I look at this topic the way I do. Honestly, I wish there was a "middle ground" power package for DF jets like something with a high rpm gas engine setup. I have nothing against EP. However, I have watched this hobby evolve from CL, to RC Glow, to RC Gas, to RC Turbine, and now to EP. One last swing at beating this dead horse; I would personally like to see something between EDF's and Turbines that was more affordable and could sustain at least 8-10 minutes flying time.

                Alpha.............. WOW, I really appreciate your breakdown on some of the more specific details of this topic. I have re-read your comments a few times and I completely agree with you although I wish some parts of this hobby were different in relation to manufactures/retailers vs. price vs. the consumer demands. I do understand engineering, research, testing, compiling endless amounts of data, legal and so own cost a lot money all the while trying to meet the end users highest expectations. It's kind of a double edge sword for my thoughts on this topic. Freewing and HMS provide the best there is in EDF's. Whomever produces the Admiral packs make an awesome pack from my experience. Now, if we could just pull more time from an already great pack to fly these incredible planes, all would be well and the world would be a perfect place, LOL. It is like having an A+ (plane) and an A+ (battery) but the result is a C-.(flight time). Again, I understand the physics and such of why EDF's pull what they pull from packs so again, I will digress. I feel my opinion has been very well stated and thoroughly covered. More importantly, I would like to personally thank you for all you do and for your contributions to our hobby in making it the best hobby there is today. All the guys at Freewing and MRC do outstanding work and it shows in everything you all do.

                Finally, this is very refreshing to be able to share my opinions without debates, sarcasm and such. I too hope others will interject their experiences/opinions/thoughts and ideas on this thread. I always enjoy a hearty discussion with my fellow R/C flyers! Thanks guys!
                www.23T.weebly.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  I agree, a hearty discussion without sarcasm is always refreshing. Enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend and thank you for your continued support and kind words!

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