Reptile S800 SKY SHADOW 820mm Wing EPP FPV PNP Review
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Review by Philip Hinkle, Guest Reviewer
- Stock equipment
- Graupner MZ-24
- Plywood horns (not stock)
- Great bang for the buck kit
- Gyro helps on launch or new pilots with flying
- Fairly straight forward build. (if you have built a quad you will have no problem)
- Flies pretty good (better than expected.)
- Great flight time on a 1500mah 3S battery.
- Is ready to go on a 4S when you are ready.
- Requires a GoPro or action cam (or a bunch of lead) to balance at the CG.
- A few modes to the foam are needed to get a few pieces to fit.
- The Control Horns were total crap. (but I will admit I may have installed them incorrectly)
- The foam is not EPP as advertised.
- The VTX has dip switches to change channels ( a little bit of a pain).
Manual was mediocre but sufficient.
I love flying my quads and doing freestyle but I’m not a hard core quad flier. I like to fly all kinds of machines. Lately one of the up and coming fun things are FPV Racing wings. I’m not interested in racing but I have been enjoying a bit of FPV lately. I had some loyalty points laying around from a hotel chain and decided to cash them in for Amazon gift cards when I saw the Reptile S800 FPV wing kit online. For the price it included everything you need except the RX of your choice. I thought for under $100 a FPV wing that included the camera, VTX, FC with a gyro and even a 2205/2300 motor was a pretty good deal so I pulled the trigger with my gift cards.
Upon opening the shipping box I discovered it was well packed and everything arrived for me in great shape. No damage from shipping like can often happen. I laid out all the bits and pieces for a picture. As you can see this is not a PnF. It has all you need but there is some building to do.
There were a few loose paper sheets which were the manual. They were somewhat adequate but I did have to do a little guessing along the way. They don’t win any awards for documentation but if you have ever built anything you will get through it just fine by going slow and methodical. There is also a nice sheet of stickers to “bling out” your plane upon completion. Of course with a black wing they don’t show up great but it’s a nice touch. All the places that sell the Reptile S800 call it EPP. If it’s EPP it’s different than any EPP I have built with. My past experience with EPP has always been on profile foamies. That foam is indestructible. This foam is tough but it’s beaded so I don’t believe the EPP designation is accurate.
The actual build was smooth and pretty straight forward. I had the basic airframe all completed within a few hours in one evening. For glue I used E6000 from Walmart as I had read in forums and groups that it worked great and I didn’t have any Foamtac on hand. One tip I did pick up online was that there was a shiny coating on the foam that kept glue from sticking well. I took a small sanding block and scratched the surfaces to remove the sheen on all surfaces that needed glue. That worked great and the glue is holding strong.
After the airframe was assembled it was time to dive into the electronics. I am used to building a plane and throwing an ESC in there and plugging into the RX and the servos all work off the rx power. This plane is designed to be built out of left over quad parts so it has a PDB, a Flight Controller and a plugin in Gyro as well. To me it seemed they are overthinking the simplicity of a flying wing. Do you really need a gyro. Just put a traditional ESC and RX in there, run an extension off your balance plug for FPV stuff and go flying. Since it had all this stuff I wanted to give it a chance so I built based on the instructions and included gear. The only thing I really upgraded was the FPV camera as I had an extra Runcam Micro CCD camera and the included camera was pretty cheap and had a CMOS sensor so it was going to be a bad camera.
One thing that puzzled me in the instructions was the part about gluing the CF motormount to the ply motor mount that is glued to the frame. I got to thinking that if I did that I never had an easy way to swap out motors down the road and since a flying buddy has already given me a 2206/2450 Red Bottome to upgrade to I wanted this option. I went online for help and got some great suggestions on the Reptile S800 Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/597978497053499/) One person recommended some standoffs on the back of the ply mount that would be embedded into the airframe. I found some short standoffs and mounted them on the ply mount. I took a small screwdriver and heated it up and created nice little holes in the foam for the standoffs. I scratched them a bit with a razor knife so the glue would adhere better. A bit of epoxy in the holes and on the ply and it was a solid bond. Now I can use screws through the CF mount to secure it to those 4 standoffs embedded in the airframe. When it’s time to upgrade to that hot motor it will be an easy and quick upgrade.
Once I figured out all the wiring for the flight controller and gyro I realized you needed to have some wires with servo ends on each end to plug your RX into the flight controller. The kit didn’t have them so I had to do some scrounging in my piles of stuff laying around. I had one cable as needed and managed to solder together some pieces of dead servo wires and other stuff I had laying around. It’s not the pretty job but it works. I didn’t have any shrink tubing small enough to protect the joints so I did what any enterprising builder would do. I used hot glue to protect the wires from shorting on each other. You can see them in one of my pics. I also did this on the connection for the main power wires to the XT60 plug.
Next it was a matter of hooking stuff up, installing the servos and control horns and other stuff. Regarding the control horns. They looked sketchy to me but I wanted a stock build if possible for the review. I installed them and pushed on the little press fit plate on the bottom. Upon testing when everything was hooked up they pretty much wiggled right out of the holes and the bottom plates fell off on my table. I had some nice plywood horns laying around from a Flite Test build that I didn’t use. A little slice in the ailerons and a small trim to them to accommodate the CF rod in the aileron and they were in. Liberal use of epoxy on that joint and they have been functioning just fine.
The kit included nice little carbon covers for most of the cut out cavities for gear around the wing. It was a nice touch to protect everything. I only used one cavity to hold the VTX in the wing. Upon installing the VTX I used some double sided 3M tape to hold the VTX in place. I did have to cut a bit of foam away to get the VTX to fit properly. Nothing serious or very hard to do. Just go slow and easy and you are find. I did have to solder an extension onto the VTX wires to make them long enough to get to the center bay where all the internals are held.
After all is installed I used black electrical tape to cover the channels in the bottom of the wing that were there to route your cables cleanly. Overall it’s a pretty clean build and for the money very well thought out.
Now it was time to get everything programmed. The instructions do show you how to set the gyro to a delta wing so it works correctly. I bound my RX to my Graupner MZ-24 radio and proceeded to setup the plane via the wizard built into the radio. Then I started testing stuff and nothing was working correctly. After some retries and a few attempts I figured it out. Since this is a wing built for quad pilots you don’t need to configure your radio for a delta wing. The Flight Controller does it all for you. I just set it up as a basic plane with a single aileron servo and it all came to life like it should. Guess I was overthinking it a bit. With that figured out I proceeded to setup 3 different rates/expo settings on a switch. I also setup the switch for the gyro. The gyro has 3 settings. Rate Mode, Hold Mode and Off. The Rate mode is your stabilization setting. The Hold mode is supposed to hold altitude as well and the Off mode is completely off and you are on your own. More about the modes below.
One thing about the Reptile S800 is that it was designed to carry an action camera with the form factor of your standard GoPro. It has cut outs in the nose for the GoPro and the FPV cam and they are somewhat protected. I didn’t have a GoPro with that form factor but I did have a Veho Muvi camera that I had reviewed a while back. It is a very similar camera and shoots great footage. It fit perfectly. If you don’t have a camera to add up there you need to add about 70g of lead weight of your CG will be way off. The kit includes 2 small CF plates that glue into the camera cavity so you can strap the camera in. I tried all I could and those little plates would not adhere enough to make a difference. I ended up cutting a small slit in the bottom of the camera bay and just wrap a strap around the front of the wing to hold the camera in. It’s a tight fit but the extra strap helps keep it safe. There is a foam “plug” that came in the cavity. You can use that if needed to create covers depending on the cameras you are using. I did a little trimming and was able to get a nice cover over the FPV cam to make it more aerodynamic and also protect the camera.
So how does it perform? I had a rare Friday off and the weather was good so it was time for a maiden. Before I went under the goggles to fly I did a few quick flights Line of Sight to get it dialed in and make sure all was working well. On first launch Line of Sight it just flew away. I had to add a tiny bit of up elevator trim to get it flying level. Then it flew great. The first flight was with the gyro assist turned on for the launch. I left it on for the first flight. For the second line of sight flight I turned it off after the launch to see the difference in characteristics. There is a difference in handling with the gyro off. It is, of course, much more nimble turned off. The gyro does help on launch though so I will continue to use it for that.
Then I figured lets go FPV’ing. What the heck. I never have a spotter but I know this field since I fly here all the time. If I go down I can find it easy. My first few launches with the goggles on were not successful as you see in my video clip. On my third launch with the goggle on I managed to keep it in the air. I quickly learned that just like many wings there is some wobble going on (It was a little windy so that didn’t make it any better). I did discover when I turned off the gyro the wobble calmed down. It was still there but lots better. So the gyro is great for launch assist but after that I recommend flying it with the gyro off. As you fly faster it actually smooths out a bit so I guess that means you should fly full throttle all the time. :)
FPV on a wing is very different than on a race quad. The quad stays pretty much level and yaw gives you most of your turning. The wing has lots of bank in a turn so I found myself doing the FPV lean a bit more than a race quad. At first it was a little challenging getting the feel for the FPV aspect. My video shows more erratic flying at the beginning where I was still getting a feel for it. You notice in the video as it progresses I get more confident and more focused on the flying. It took about 1 battery to get the feel and rhythm of FPV wing flying. I did notice at full throttle I tended to climb a little which is a sign of a CG too far back. It is just a bit behind recommended and because I was flying a smaller battery than I did CG testing with in the build it moved the CG back. In the build I was using a 2200mah 3s battery. The manual says 1800mah is the recommended. For my flights I was using an old 1500mah 3S battery. I got flights over 7-8 minutes with 3.75/cell still remaining. I guess 1500 will be the size for me to use in this wing. 7-8 minutes is plenty of time for fun. This setup can handle a 4S battery and I will eventually give that a shot but for now the 3S is doing great and I will continue with that for a while.
One performance thing I wanted to test was the slower flight because carrying a GoPro style camera it is pretty heavy. Some online reviews and comments stated if it slowed down much it dropped out of the sky. Some pilots have even designed 3D printed vortex generators that reportedly helped it slow down even more. In my flying I did not feel it was a problem. I came in for a landing, cut the throttle and it kept gliding and gliding. I got close to the ground and flared up and it set down easy. Granted my flying field has tall thick grass but I didn’t feel it was too fast and it didn’t stall on my attempts at slow flight but then I don’t expect a wing to fly at walking speed. I won’t mess with vortex generators unless I feel like experimenting a bit.
Here is a video of my first day of flying (embedded below...please subscribe). You can see me progress and get better after a few flights. At the very end I start getting more courageous and wanting to fly through some gaps. I nail these no problem with the race quad but the wing changed things a bit. As you can see I was not successful on close gaps. On my first attempt and crash, the pod cover flew off and section of winglet was broken off.
I got back to where I was flying from and tossed it in the air line of sight. No problem. I could not tell it was broke. I kept flying and tried a different gap. Smack, hit that one too. This time the wing got a few dents in it and a small chunk of foam came off one side. I formed it back in place as best I could and it still flew fine. A little gorilla glue at home and those spots are good as new. After the fix I have put a piece of clear packing tape over the front of the wing to give it a little more strength up there and protect it a bit.
Over all I’m very happy with the S800 FPV wing. It is a great entry into the FPV wing racing side of this hobby. I don’t plan to ever do any racing but I do plan some fun low cruising and flying through the trees once I get a little better. This will get me started pretty well. And the best part is when I get bored with this I have a 2206/2450 motor upgrade waiting on me plus a 4S battery. It’s going to be a fun journey.