RA Cores BluFO Review
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Review by Nicholas Turner, Staff Contributor
- Stock motor, prop, and servos
- 3S 2200mAh lipo (stock is 3s 1300mAh)
- Spektrum DX8 Gen 1
- Spektrum AR6100e
I received the RA Cores EPP BluFO kit as a secret Santa gift in 2017. The Angle of Attack Podcast continued a tradition started on The CrashCast by having its listeners play a secret Santa game with the only rule is to give R/C stuff, so those of us with family that doesn't understand buying r/c stuff can get something r/c related for CHRISTmas. The RA Cores EPP BluFO was designed by Joel Dirnberger and has been modified for so many uses. Proving this is going to be one fantastic flying airplane.
RA Cores sells the airplane kit, a completer kit, FoamTac glue, props, and prop savers. I was very fortunate my secret Santa sent me the complete kit, two props, prop savers, and plenty of prop savers. The airplane kit consists of the manual (which can be found online as well), sheets of EPP foam, carbon fiber spars, motor mount, magnets for the battery hatch, control horns, and equipment to make the push rods. The completer kit includes all the electronics minus the RX; Emax CF-2812 (1600 Kv) motor, 18 amp ESC, and two 9gram servos. This setup will spin an 8x4 prop. The ESC sold by RA Cores came installed with a T (aka Deans) connector. The motor did not come with bullet connectors, fortunately I had some extra ones laying around. These were soldered onto the motor leads.
Prior to building the first thing to do with a kit is pull out the manual and check all equipment is in the box per the manual. I found nothing missing and everything well packaged. I used a permanent marker to mark the foam sheets as to what piece was what. Next step is to familiarize yourself with the instructions, just so as the build goes you won't have any surprises. I recommend you read through the manual in details a few times.
The build is very straight forward. Follow the instructions per the manual. Prior to applying any glue I test fitted (aka dry fitted) the parts for the steps. This way I knew where to put the glue and if I needed to trim any pieces I could prior to glue going on. Remember to let the FoamTac dry fully. I only had two minor issues during my build. The first one was with the front formers. I found the keys for the top and bottom forward most formers didn't fit the in the most forward hole or if they did, they stood up well higher than the side formers for the fuselage and belly. I decided to angle them back and use plenty of FoamTac to hold them in place. The second "issue" was with FoamTac not holding the magnets on. This may be due to my lack of experience with FoamTac, but I ended up using hot glue for the magnets with success. Dry fitting the pieces together also allows you discover where you can add color to the plane prior to pieces going on. I was much easier to do the bottom and top color schemes prior to the fins and tip plates going on than after. I used a black Sharpie to color the black lines on the bottom of the plane, Crayola washable yellow paint for the fins, Crayola washable blue paint for the canopy, Crayola washable purple paint for the checkers, and a red acrylic craft paint for the wing tips. I recommend dry fitting the pieces you want to paint and marking the areas you don't want paint to go (to ensure a better glue bond). I used a foam brush to paint the blue, red, and yellow parts. This build allowed me to include my young sons as they sat in my lap while I glued and was able to let them help paint pieces.
I won't go into the steps of the build as the manual is very easy to follow. I did diverge from the manual when it came time for the electronics. Prior to installing the servos, I connected them to a servo tester just to ensure there would be no issues. I also bound the RX outside of the plane. Prior to placing the ESC into the fuse, I mounted the motor with prop, connected to the RX, and tested the motor thrust to ensure proper prop rotation. After getting proper rotation, I made sure to document which motor lead connected to which ESC lead then worked on stuffing the ESC into the canopy/fuselage and pulling the ESC wires through the rear hole of the fuselage. I used a pair of tweezers to help pull the ESC leads through the hole. I used FoamTac to install hook and loop tape in the canopy and to the batteries, RX, and ESC. Configuring my generation one Spektrum DX8 for a delta mix was straight forward, I followed the recommendations of throws and expo from the manual. Since this is a delta wing setup using elevons, ensure both control surfaces move up and down together and the same travel is done by both. The manual indicates after setting up the throws to program some reflex (aka up trim), but doesn't indicate how much, so I guessed on the too much up side. When assembling the pieces to make the push rods, lay some aluminum foil around the wing and bottom fins. This will keep the heat from a heat gun or iron from melting the plane while you shrink the heat shrink tubing. I missed an area with aluminum foil and created a little divot in one side with my heat gun. The manual states to start the center of gravity in line with the battery hatch magnet. I used a black sharpie to mark this location on the plane. I balanced mine to be slightly nose down inverted on these marks. I was able to move the battery around to achieve balance. Once balance was achieved I used a black Sharpie to mark the end of the battery in the fuselage.
For maiden flight, I recommend letting someone else launch the EPP BluFO if possible. I didn't follow my advice, but launching the plane is real easy. There are multiple ways to launch the EPP BluFO, but the safest way is to gently hold one wing tip and sling it up gently. This allows you to have some throttle while keeping hands away from the prop. I found the hand launch to be non-exciting, the plane flew out of my hand with ease. I only needed a click or two of aileron trim and found I had too much reflex, so that was trimmed down. Flat and level the plane flew straight and level. Loops are easy and I found one control surface has a little more movement than the other as my plane would roll to the left in a loop, I'll trim this out before my next outing. I always recommend purposely stalling a new plane after getting if flying straight and level. I climbed the BluFO up, made sure it was level and gradually applied up elevator. The plane did not stall! Instead it just slowly floated down. Wow! Next test was a nose up stall, which the plane just flopped over to nose down. Great characteristics to have on a plane. Since there are no rudders, aerobatics are limited to rolls, split s, Immelmann, loops, Cuban eights, inverted flight, and anything not requiring a rudder. The BluFO easily does these maneuvers, although I felt I had to keep a fair amount of elevator applied while inverted. This could have been from using a 2200mAh lipo instead of the recommend 1300mAh. With flying figured out and super easy, I decided to have some fun trying different launches. I tried a vertical launch by holding the canopy/fuselage, an over the head toss holding the belly pan, and a sideways sling holding the canopy; all of them were flawless. When trying different launch styles remember to stay clear of the prop. For the overhead tosses I kept throttle off until it was clear of me and my hands. The EPP BluFO is not a speed demon, but can be made into one if desired. I found I prefer the right rates settings.
The RA Cores EPP BluFO is a fantastic plane to fly and fantastic build. If a pilot has not built a true kit yet, this is a perfect one to start with. The pieces are keyed to go together extremely well and the build is very quick. In fact the slowest part of the build is waiting for the FoamTac to dry enough to handle the pieces again. RA Cores is easily reachable for support if you should have any questions or concerns during the build. Once together the plane is solid and being made out of EPP foam, can take a lot of abuse. The plane flies super stable with no ill characteristics. Do be aware this is a prop in slot plane, so it will be a little louder than a plane whose prop is out front in clean air. So if you fly somewhere with noise restrictions or noise sensitive neighbors, be sure to do your due diligence with a noise check. After building and flying mine, it is no wonder the BluFO airframe has been modified into so many variations (a twin, a much larger version, a float plane version, etc...). Since it is such a large, easy to see, slow flying plane many pilots add LED strips to theirs and turn them into night flyers. With the large canopy that is mostly flat, some people are installing FPV cameras and vTXes on the plane to fly FPV.
Is it for beginners?
Beginner pilot skills; not really since it is a delta wing, but if a pilot has soloed and has a fair amount of experience, it shouldn't be a problem.
Beginner kit builder; absolutely. The ability to buy the complete kit, props, glue, and prop savers means this is a one stop shop and you know it's all going to work well together
Do I recommend it? Absolutely. The kit build is fun and quick. So fun that my little boys helped and then my wife wanted in on the painting too. The plane is so versatile and stable I'm already planning on how to mount a RunCam HD and maybe a 25mW all in one FPV camera on the nose.