Opale Paramodels Oxy 1.5 with Max Pilot and Backpack S Review
Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
Opale Oxy 1.5 Wing
Max Pilot w/ 2x 10kg/cm Servos
Motor DUALSKY 220
ESC 25 A with regulator voltage
Spektrum AR610 Receiver
Opale Channel Mixer
- Absolutely amazing quality
- A blast to fly
- Capable of aerobatics
- A total show stopper at the field
- Incredible detail
- Awesome scale looks
- Instructions are a little confusing
- Takes some trial and error to get flying
Since getting into RC almost six years ago, I've always tried to be the guy with the most unique aircraft at the flying field. The weirder or rarer the better. A few years ago, a guy showed up to the field with a really low quality version of a paramodel. None of us at the field were able to make it fly. I felt bad for the guy, but the idea of an RC paramodel stayed with me. I forgot about it for a while, then recently at an RC swap meet, I saw a guy selling a vintage RC skydiver. I wasn't interested in just a skydiver, but when I got home, I started my quest again to find a decent RC paramodel.
After a few dead ends... I finally found them, I found Opale Paramodels!!! Opale Paramodels is a French company specializing in premium paragliders and paramotors. Opale is run by one of the friendliest RC guys I've ever met, Mathieu Charles. He was so helpful and so patient with me. I wanted to know all there was about his models and which model was the best for a newb to the world of paramodels. After kindly answering the approximately 500 questions I asked him, we decided the best route to go was the Oxy 1.5, matched up with the Backpack S and Max Pilot. Mathieu recommended I get a channel mixer that makes programming your transmitter a lot easier. As you will see when you start looking at prices, Opale's paramodels are not cheap. Remember, they are a PREMIUM product, and just like Goblin helicopters or DA engines, quality products cost a lot to make. To give a little more background on Mathieu, know that he also flies full scale paragliders! It is his huge body of knowledge of the full scale sport that has helped him make the quality products offered by Opale. In my many conversations with him, he told me how many of the same materials are used and pretty much scaled down.
Out of the Box:
I got my products directly from Opale in France. Esprit Model had not yet started selling them here in the USA and it was comforting getting the goods straight from the source. A lot of care was clearly taken in boxing everything up. I don't know that I've ever been as excited as I was when opening this package. I tore each package open to see just how "premium" this stuff was. I must tell you, my jaw was on the floor at how amazing everything felt and looked. Even my wife, who generally takes zero interest in my hobby, came and sat with me to inspect my new toy. Even Max's (the pilot) outfit was superbly crafted. I think my daughters Barbie was jealous of Max's flight suit. The wing itself with all of the lines and top quality material are mind-blowing. The tiny buckles, the D-rings, everything, absolutely everything feels amazing. You definitely start to feel the price is justified once you've gotten your hands on these products.
The build is pretty straight forward with this kit. The motor bolts up to the frame easily, and wiring is a cinch. Getting the servos in Max is pretty straightforward also. I added some silicone glue into the servo cavities to help keeping the servos in place, even though the snug fit, and flight suit do a good job holding them in place. With Max and the frame done, you need to strap him to his harness. The harness is a seat-like pouch that Max sits on, and that also holds the battery, receiver and ballast. For first flights in low to moderate wind, they recommend about 500g of weight. The two larger weights add up to about 475g, plus battery etc and you're where you need to be. When finalizing the harness, make sure you have the receiver in a place where you won't press on it or cause any of the plugs to come out. I also recommend pointing your battery down when you insert it into the harness so you can zip the harness closed most of the way with just the battery plug coming out of the lower left side. At this point, you must situate Max and his harness onto the actual frame using a few nice elastic bands provided for this purpose.
One mistake I made before my first two flights was attaching the wing to Max and not the frame. The manual was a little confusing and I didn't realize that you only attach the bridles to Max when you are slope soaring. For powered flight, the wing must connect to the frame, and from there the brake lines go to Max's hands where his arm movements will control speed and turning (more on this later). Use the recommended baseline brake-line positioning for your first ground tests and flight.
For programming, I recommend watching some of Opale's tutorials on youtube, I will provide links to the channel below. The channel mixer takes out a ton of guesswork. If you use a Jeti transmitter, you won't have an issue without it, but if you are using a Spektrum or Futaba transmitter, I'd definitely recommend picking up the mixer.
Before my first flight, I did all of the ground tests recommended. I ground tested at neutral, which inflated the wing, then with brake applied which doesn't inflate the wing. When I went to fly it, I noticed my pilot and frame were tilted upward making the motor power pretty inefficient. Not only that, but I could only really turn in one direction. I landed it safely (hard not to land safely, with a parachute and a durable airframe) and went back to the drawing board.
I adjusted the brake lines out a centimeter or so and once again took to the air. Same pitch upward, but a bit more controllable in both directions. At this point, I was certain was doing something majorly wrong. I logged onto the Opale USA facebook group and posted my dilemma. A few gentlemen were quick to inform me that I had mistakenly attached the wing to Max instead of the frame.
With that wrong finally righted, I got Max airborne once again. The video of that flight is below. It was beautiful and relaxing. I wish I had a zoom on my Go Pro, because my video does not capture the beauty of the paramodel's flight. That said, on this flight, I did notice that with the wind, my speed was really strong, but against the slight wind, I was flying at a crawl. I shared my video with Mathieu and he told me my brake lines were still a tiny bit too short... which makes total sense. Basically, with the brakeline to short, it's like flying an airplane with your flaps down... ever try to do a high speed pass with your flaps down? Me either :)
I must say, even with my less than perfect set-up on this day, flying the Oxy 1.5 is an absolute pleasure. At a slight distance it looks so real. Every single person at my flying field approached me to get a closer look and ask questions about who made it, where could they get one, was it difficult to fly. Speaking of which, it is easy to fly. The biggest thing to remember is that your right stick IS NOT ELEVATOR! Pulling the stick downward is brakes! It will result in totally slow flight or even a stall. Higher altitudes are achieves with airspeed, so remember that.
Since getting my paramodel, a few things have changed with the products. The Backpack S (frame) has been discontinued and replaced with the Backpack M2. The M2 is has the anti-torque prop ring, is flyable with or without pilot, can attach landing gear, compatible with the speedbar, and is all around more versatile and more resistant to crashing. Pairing Max and the Oxy 1.5 with the M2 will also get you a larger motor and larger batteries, so it's a great improvement on an already great product. So back to the products themselves, let me tell you, if I could drop my current career and work for Opale Paramodels, I would do so in a heartbeat. I consider the Opale gear probably the finest gear I have ever reviewed or owned for that matter. Add to that how amazing my experience was in dealing with Mathieu, and how helpful others in the paramodel community have been. It's not often you drop a chunk of $$$ and end up 100% happy, but for me, this is one of those rare experiences. With Opale, you truly get what you pay for. You will find no corners cut, not cheaply made components, no shoddy labor or details. It is my hope that Opale becomes the next HUGE thing in the USA. Their dedication to making their product top notch deserves all the success in the world.
In closing, if you enjoy something different, and have a wad of money burning a hole in your wallet, head over to Esprit Model and check out all Opale Paramodels has to offer. If the Oxy 1.5 is too big for you, they offer a small 0.5 wing for mostly indoor use. Of course, the scale goes the other way all the way to huge, giant scale stuff with huge trikes and massive wings. There is an option for every paramodel desire. Believe it or not, these models can actually do loops and cool maneuvers, I am just not that good yet. After checking out my video, hop on over to youtube and do some searches for Opale Paramodels. You'll see some amazing models doing some amazing flights. Once you see one you like, buy it with all the confidence in the world. You are going to fall in love with RC all over again.
Here is the link to Opale's youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/OpaleParamodels
Their official web page: http://www.opale-paramodels.com/index.php/en/
The link to the Paramodels USA Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/941826515907139/
The link for where to purchase is below the video.