RMRC - STRIX StratoSurfer - PNP Review
2 - 2
Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
- Stock Stratosurfer PNP
- Luminier 3s3300mAh batteries
- Cricket v2 200mw VTX
- Futaba 14SG
- FatShark 600VTL camera
- Flap kit (2 servos and hardware)
- Great size
- Nice looking!
- Great quality
- Durable plastic molded fuselage
- Optional flaps
- Choice of 2 canopies
- Tons of ways to mount FPV gear
- Awesome for both LOS and FPV
Not convenient to assemble/disassemble for storage
After buying, hating and reviewing the HobbyKing BIX3, I was dying to find a solid plane for FPV that could also do some sport flying. The BIX3 was a POS, with low quality construction and low quality electronics. On top of that, it was too docile for any real sport flying and was just a big box of disappointment. When the STRIX Stratosurfer was announced and shown on the RMRC Facebook page, I decided it could be the answer to my search. I ordered one as soon as they became available.
At this point, we have heard what the "review giants" RCG and FlightTest have to say about the STRIX Stratosurfer. They didn't seem to have anything negative to say and their reviews were pretty positive. So what does a review of the Stratosurfer look like when a small review outfit like us orders and pays for the plane just as you would? Read below to find out.
Unboxing and Build:
The Stratosurfer came double boxed from RMRC and all the parts of the plane were safely packaged in their own small boxes inside the plane box. I was surprised at how they packed so much plane in such a small box. I had ordered the flap kit, the vtx, and the XT60 adapter with the JST connector to power the VTX which also came conveniently packed inside the plane box. My first impression after removing all the parts was, "Damn, this is nice for $139!!" I was really impressed with the plastic molded fuselage and wondered why no other company has done something like this.
Building the Stratosurfer is really straight forward, but do yourself a favor and follow the included manual. I would have preferred more than 1 screw to hold the tail on, but that is mostly because I was scared I was going to strip the threaded tube. If you don't tighten it enough, it will have some play which could have some negative impacts in flight. I haven't yet, but I may add some glue to keep it more rigid. I don't see a need to ever remove the tail anyway. The flaps are optional, but I love flaps so I installed them. It is very straight forward and the precut slots are perfectly sized for the servos in the kit. Just use a new Xacto blade to cut the foam wedge and the foam on the sides of the flaps to free them. The VTX and camera can pretty much go anywhere you darn well please on this plane. I am using the FPV canopy for my VTX, and I have my cables running through the fuse up to the nose where they pop out again for my front mounted FPV camera.
I must say, the hardest part of putting this plane together is lining up the wings, with the motor pod, with the fuselage. The threaded nuts are beyond the plastic of the fuse, so you have to align the screws perfectly to get all four of them to go in straight. Here is my one small complaint on the Stratosurfer. Unlike most planes this size, the Stratosurfer isn't a plane like a Fun Cub or Timber where you pop out a few nylon screws, undo your servo extensions and you are ready to transport. The Stratosurfer requires you to undo all four screws (which are a pain), unplug the servo extensions, unplug the motor from the esc, then remove your wings. It's not a deal breaker for me, but if your storage space is really limited or you drive a tiny car, it could be for you. It fits fine in my Prius with wings on.
Line of Sight Flight:
It's been raining like crazy here so as soon as the weather cleared up, I got my Stratosurfer to the field. I didn't care that the first nice, sunny day came packaged with wind between 10 and 15 mph. I didn't care though, I needed to fly this plane. I figured with the weight of the plane and the big battery, I would be fine. I also figured it would be a good test for my review as it could tell you what to expect in terms of how it handles wind. My first flights are below, the first one being my maiden line of sight flight, and the second being my maiden FPV flight.
For my first LOS flight, I wasn't sure how much throttle to add, so I pretty much went with around half, or just enough to feel the plane pushing my had forward. As you see in the video, there was a bit of sink, but I never felt like it was going to hit the ground. Once in the air, I was amazed at how quickly the little motor and small 6x4 prop actually move this plane. After a few circuits, I tested the roll rate...pretty good as you can see in the video. Because of the limited elevator throw (too much and you'll hit the rudder) loops are a little big...so don't try to do one too close to the ground. The rudder authority is great and allowed me to fight the crosswind pretty well and also helps in doing a decent stall turn. At least with my hands on the sticks, the Stratosurfer will not knife-edge, I tried LOL! My flaps are set on a slider with a little down elevator mix kicking in when I move the slider 50% and beyond. It works perfectly and the plane slows to a crawl with the flaps fully deployed. It was too windy to bother landing with flaps, but even in the wind, the Stratosurfer is a cinch to land.
Now that I had gotten familiar with the plane, it was time to fire up the goggles. Though I love my HD3s, I still prefer the HeadPlay SE v2 for fixed wing flight. I haven't mounted an action camera, so the FPV video below shows the FPV feed to my DVR. So to take off, I had my headset on my head, launched the plane, and slide them down. Again, a pretty easy launch, though after reviewing my videos, I do see a need to add more throttle.
I had noticed the wind bouncing the plane around a little during my LOS flights, but wow, with the goggles you notice it more. Mind you, it was really windy. Earning yet another positive point, the Stratosurfer handles the wind better than some of my larger balsa planes. It was actually a thrill to put my piloting skills (or lack of) up against the wind. I had a blast. I even did some FPV rolls and then tried some actual FPV inverted flying! It was only a few seconds, but hey, I did it! Of note, at least with this wind, the plane needs a decent amount of down elevator to stay level in inverted flight. I assume with less wind, turns can be more bank and yank, but with wind, you will definitely want to coordinate your turns with aileron and rudder. I'll tell ya, the more I flew this plane, the more I liked it. Even my spotter, who is mostly a quad guy (but recently into fixed wing) commented at how impressed he was with the Stratosurfer. Again, with the wind, I didn't use my flaps to land, and I kept my goggles on knowing how easy it was to land this bad boy. As my first flight LOS had been about 6 minutes and had left over 60% of the battery, my almost 10 minute FPV flight came down with 38% still on the battery! On a 3s 3300mah!!! How freakin' awesome is that. I'm going to keep my alarm at 9 mins just to play it safe, but it is nice to know that I won't have to hurry up and land when I hear my DX9 counting down.
With the exception of the assembly/disassembly for travel, I am inclined to agree with the other reviewers who have praised the STRIX Stratosurfer for its quality and excellent flying characteristics. This is truly an fantastic plane and one that I feel will be on my best products of 2017 list at the end of the year. It is worth every penny of it's impressively low price. If you want a versatile plane that can go from trainer to sport flyer, this is a great option. If you want a stable FPV platform that you can also have fun with, this is the plane for you. And if you just want a cool as plane with a plastic fuselage, this is also the plane for you. As I feel it appropriate to state when I am this positive about a review, I PAID FOR THIS :) I get nothing out of being so rosy about a product, this plane is just that damn good. Now I'm wondering if I should try out the STRIX Alatus!