EasyStar
Wingspan: 54 in
Wing area: 372 sq in
Length: 34 in
AUW: 24 oz
Wing loading: 9.3 oz/sq ft

Multiplex EasyStar

EasyStar in flight

The Multiplex EasyStar is a 3-channel (rudder, elevator, throttle) foam RC airplane. It is rugged, inexpensive, easy to fly, and easy to build. It has no landing gear, so it must be launched by hand and landed on its belly. The motor is mounted in a pusher pod above the wing, so a bad landing will not break the propeller.

EasyStar at OBX

The EasyStar kit includes a brushed 400-size Permax motor, propeller, and all hardware (pushrods, control horns, and so forth). The kit costs around $65. Other equipment used in this airplane:

The BMS380MG servos were too large for the servo bays, and I had to cut out some of the fuselage to fit them in. Hitec HS-55 servos would probably have fit without surgery and would have been a better choice.

The all-up weight of this EasyStar is 21.9 oz, including an ounce of lead ballast in the nose. With this relatively high wing loading (8.5 oz/sq ft), it flies well in winds of 10 mph or even more. Surprisingly, it also flies well as a sailplane with the motor off; I had it 'specked out' in a thermal on its second flight.

Here is some video of a flight on the beach at the Outer Banks (Port Trinitie, Duck, NC).

Slope soaring

EasyStar action!

A few days after I completed this model, I took the EasyStar along on a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Wright Brothers National Memorial would be an ideal slope-soaring site, but apparently the federal government feels threatened by radio-controlled foam airplanes. However, Jockey's Ridge State Park, four miles south of the Wright Monument, allows kites, hang gliders, and r/c airplanes, so I took the EasyStar up to the top of the big dune to try some slope soaring.

The wind was blowing well over 15 knots, which was way too windy for this airplane, at least without additional ballast (which I had neglected to bring along). The EasyStar flew, but was very hard to handle, mostly because its tiny little rudder does not have enough authority to handle gusty conditions. Several times I was forced to use the motor to get out of trouble. Still, Jockey's Ridge is a fun slope-soaring site (if you don't mind the half-mile hike through soft sand from the parking lot), and I'll take a more capable slope-soaring airplane on my next vacation. Some videos are here and here.

More images:

Multiplex EasyStar EasyStar in flight EasyStar slope soaring EasyStar slope soaring EasyStar in flight EasyStar in flight EasyStar and pilot EasyStar upside-down Multiplex EasyStar

Camera mount for aerial video

The EasyStar is fairly stable in flight, and can lift a payload of several ounces, so I modified it to carry a cheap 5-in-1 eDVR camera. The camera has a USB connector at the end opposite to the lens. The mount consists of the end cap from an old USB memory stick, screwed to a piece of 1/16" plywood and attached with servo mounting tape to the bottom of the canopy. The camera protrudes through a camera-sized hole cut in the canopy. A small notch at either side of the fuselage was necessary to clear the plywood crosspiece.

A few videos filmed with this contraption: Port Trinitie, NC (8.6Mb, WMV), Delcastle park (6.1Mb, WMV), and the Newark reservoir (5.4Mb, WMV).

EasyStar with camera Camera mount EasyStar with camera EasyStar flyby at OBX EasyStar flyby at Delcastle Newark reservoir from the air