2 Brothers was invited out to the 2012 AMA Expo in Ontario, California as a guest speaker. I hadn’t been to the expo prior to the trip so I didn’t know what to expect but I was looking forward to trading out the gloomy weather of central Ohio for a little Southern California sun!
Our show season usually starts with either February’s E-Fest in Champaign, IL or perhaps Joe Nall in Woodruff, SC. , but the AMA Expo was a nice start – a quick shot of RC in the arm to kick off the new year.
The vendor list was pretty long with over 105 exhibitor booths on the floor, so we saw the usual cast of characters and, being in SoCal, a few new faces. There’s a huge hobby shop in Southern CA called Pegasus Hobbies. If you’re ever in or around L.A., be sure to take a quick drive over to Montclair and check things out. It has to be the biggest hobby shop I’ve ever been to and the folks there are very helpful. I could have spent a day just browsing all the nooks and cranny’s at Pegasus, but I had my iPhone camera and a show floor to investigate, so let’s get to it..
Futaba kicked things off with the new 18MZ 18 Channel radio. Now, you may ask yourself, “How in the heck are they controlling 18 channels?” Well, via S.Bus, of course! The 18MZ is a beautiful FASSTest radio system, fully backwards compatible with their other FASST and S-FHSS systems, so don’t chuck your Rx’s just yet. You can control up to 8 channels using the standard PWM inputs or up to 18 (16 proportional, 2 digital) via S.Bus or S.Bus2 servos.
The really cool thing about FASSTest is that Futaba is now entering the telemetry realm with an initial offering of sensors to cover the big rocks (GPS, Voltage, Temp) and a later suite of goodies coming out to meet fuel levels and other much needed information.
The 18MZ has a ton of other features best covered by the product page, but needless to say, I was pretty stoked about the fast-response, easy touch screen programming, so easy you might not even need the book.
Some aircraft are just highly recognizable, and the Thompson Trophy-winning Gee Bee is one of the most, regardless of your age. Electrifly is releasing the Gee Bee R-1 with a few smart features going on. First of all, it’s widely known that the Gee Bee is a handful. The design was meant for high speed, not maneuverability, so landing a Gee Bee is always an act of congress. ElectriFly has countered this problem with durability! Stringing is made of elastic, the whole fuse is made of Aerocell EPO foam, and the wheel pants are held on with rare earth magnets, so land (and learn) away! This way, we all get a model we can afford of a classic we all love (with all the bad flight tendencies) but still be able to learn to fly it without turning it into a pile of scrap. We’re looking forward to our demo model…
Leave it to Hacker to roll in a piece of hardware that is too big (and too powerful) to walk past. The eye-catching purple monster that is the new Q80-7M rear-mount outrunner is capable of bursting at up to 5500 watts. Based on the popular Q80, the new “M” version is a little longer for more power and thrust. That means you can yank your 28 lb. plane around in the air, 3D style, with a little extra power to spare…
Hacker also introduced a little project called the Mini ViperJet, by Tomahawk Design. This free-flight mini EPO jet can be converted to a pusher-prop RC with a Hacker A10-12S, a Hacker X-5 ESC, a Thunder Power 2 Cell LiPo and a few Hitec Servos. If you’re into micro jet flight, this looks to be a great little winter project.
Not known for following the herd, Maxford brought a great throwback to the early days of aviation with the rare Hansa-Brandenburg W.29. This inverted tailplane monoplane fighter floatplane (whew, mouthful!) was introduced in the latter days of WWI. The inverted tailplane gave an unobstructed view for the rear-facing gunner. This EP built-up version from Maxford is a beautiful rendition and it immediately catches your eye.
Also being introduced by Maxford is the Globe Swift EP 56″ ARF. Another uncommon RC airplane, the Globe Swift was a 1940′s design that, after WWII, had a relatively short production life with a little over 1000 being built between 1946 – 1951. The Maxford version ships with electronic retracts to clean things up in the air and helps make the Swift look like the real thing. Maxford expects to be shipping the Swift sometime in March this year.
Always a treat, the true builders out there assemble around the Stevens Aeromodel booth to see the latest offerings. Owner Bill Stevens showed us a couple of his creations, starting with the 1923 DH.53 “Hummingbird”. This light full balsa kit comes complete with faux engine cylinders, a pre-cut acetate windscreen, and a profile pilot figure. Compatible with e-Flite’s 2.4 GHz ultra micro “guts”, the Hummingbird is a good looking micro kit that breaks away from the typical foam offerings you find RTF.
Also popular for the novelty flier is the Stevens Aeromodel ToonSCALE line. The new S-POU! was there on display and we snapped a shot. Suitable for outdoor flight but slow enough for larger indoor venues, the S-POU! is a funny little cartoon-looking plane with a ton of built-up wing surface that definitely stands out in a sea of conventional aircraft.
Align RC USA
New to this years lineup is the Align T-Rex 500 PRO. Packed with new features like a hotter BL500MX 1600Kv motor, redesigned dual thrust bearinged tail grips, a newly designed heavy duty tail gearbox with fewer pieces for easier maintenance and a host of other cool upgrades that are best covered by the product page.
Also redesigned is the Align T-Rex 100X. Not only did Align rework the head for better response and bump up the flybar paddles a bit for stability, they also integrated a new control method for iOS portable device owners: App Control! Now you can plug a transmitter attachment to your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad device and fly with the on-screen stick or even the built in accelerometers. Pretty nifty.
Another nice improvement across the line-up is the DFC FBL upgrade kits for the 500-700 series T-Rex helis. This allows users with the V2 grips to easily upgrade their FBL heads to the new compact, higher performance hardware. From Align: “The DFC rotor head system utilizes an extremely low CG design, effectively reduces resistance during flight, increases flight responsiveness and precision, resulting in superior 3D performance and unimaginable flight speed.”
We stopped by the XOAR booth and checked out the new Carbon Fiber electric props, their precision paired products and some of the new Wood Electric props as well. We have a SebArt project on the bench and the new XOAR CF electrics were pretty intriguing so they hooked us up with a sample to try on our test flights. We’ll let you know how it goes! We’re looking forward to taking advantage of the wood electrics as well for some of our scale projects, so this is no small addition to the market. Very cool.
For Southern California residents, the AMA Expo is a great way to catch up on anything you may have missed at the iHobby show each fall. Speaking of iHobby, keep in mind: Chicago iHobby is now in Cleveland, OH this year at the IX center. No details have been presented as of yet but we’ll be sure to get it plugged into our events calendar as soon as they announce the show schedule. I’m sure it will still be around the same time in October.
If you’d like to see a ton of photos from the AMA Expo, AMA has them posted here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/modelaircraft/sets/72157627806300467/