The rise of EDF use in the aeromodelling world has been a long time coming, and we have certainly seen the popularity for them increase over the past few years.
The early EDF units, while they filled the niche of an “electric turbine”, were not the greatest things in the world for efficiency and noise pollution. Who can remember the high-pitched, devil-raising scream as the model whizzed around the sky? During this period of aeromodelling, the only way to get a decent sounding jet turbine sound was to use the real deal and that came with a serious price-tag.
Even though the prices of jet turbines have become ever-so-slightly more attainable today, with new manufacturers such as Swiwin, they still cost a lot more than any specialist electric, nitro or petrol power system and are out of most modelling budgets. However, these days the noise created by EDFs (even the smaller ones) have improved massively and provide the pilot – and spectators – with an almost realistic turbine sound in the air. Factor in that you can purchase a model complete with servos, EDF and Electronic Speed Controller (ESC), for as little as £154.99 (Arrows Hobby Viper Jet), it’s a very interesting proposition.
There is a vast selection of EDF aircraft from manufacturers such as Arrows Hobby, Elite, X-Fly and HSD Jets (amongst others) so it can be daunting prospect, especially if you are new to EDFs or electric flight in general (Disclaimer – we don’t recommend you learn on an EDF as they can be too fast and very tricky to control at low speeds. We are planning a future blog post about how to get into aeromodelling in the future so keep a look out for that).
For those that may have started their RC Flying journey on MaxThrust Riots and/or Ruckus, then you have the correct batteries for quite a few of the Arrows Hobby range of EDFs. The Viper Jet (above), T-33, BAe Hawk, Avanti and the brand new MB-339 can* all run on the 2200mah 3s LiPo batteries you may have used for your Riot/Ruckus. They are a perfect fit and give you the maximum run time you can get on these little jets. The L39 however does require 1300mah-1600mah 3s LiPo. Additionally, those of you that may have progressed to putting a 2200-2900mah 4s LiPo in your Riot/Ruckus, then the Marlin and F-86 Sabre are excellent choices along with the X-Fly T-7A Hawk.
For those of you that are either new to electric flight and maybe feel bit apprehensive, but are intrigued by EDFs, then get stuck in with whatever you fancy! Once you start to learn the ins and outs of electric flight, it is really straight forward and we are always on hand to provide any answers and support you may need. We recommend starting with the Marlin because they fly so well and aren’t complicated to get up and running – so much so, one of our local flying clubs has got a small squadron of them.
So what about the big EDF jets? Yes, I can hear you! The next size up from 4s LiPo is 6s and these come in the form of the Arrows Hobby Mig-29 and F-15, and the FMS Ventura V3 and A-10. The Mig-29, F-15 and A10 are fitted with two fans – for extra realism in sound and power delivery, fully functioning sprung retracts and gear doors and lights. Whereas the Ventura only has the one (its like a giant Marlin but still includes the sprung retracts and lights).
If 6s just isn’t enough and you want more power and physical size, we then move to the HSD Jets line up. These are beasts! The majority use 12s LiPo packs (2 6s packs in series) and get you closer to flying a a gas turbine aircraft (you can order them in either Turbine or EDF). The EDF versions come fully fitted with servos, ESC, EDF, retracts, LED lights and an Integrated Control System. Some of our favourites are the L-39 and the T-33. If you have been flying 6s EDF jets for a while, or got a few 6s LiPo packs in your setup then take a look at what HSD has to offer.
There is only one real downside to EDFs. I mentioned earlier that EDFs are inefficient, and because of this flight time is not the longest. On all of the sizes of aircraft mentioned above, getting a 5 minute flight will be lucky and dependent on conditions. On average, you will be looking at getting around 3.5-4 minutes per flight. But there is one thing that you can do to help extend your average flight time, and it is all down to how you use your throttle stick. While the temptation is to plant it in the full throttle position and dominate the sky whilst singing the Top Gun theme to yourself (internally of course); by reducing the throttle on the down wind leg; on the decent of a loop or at any point where the wind or gravity will help maintain airspeed, you may see an increase in total flight time. But this will come with practice – so get yourself an EDF jet and get out there for some fun! (…dah dah da-da-da-da dah…)
We try to keep in stock the majority of the Arrows Hobby EDF jets. Due to our size we can’t stock everything and we only get the HSD Jets, FMS and X-Fly products to order. Our suppliers usually have good stocks so can get them in very quickly for you. We will inform you at the time of order if there are any problems.
*The 50mm EDF models are specified from the supplier as being able to use 3s 2200mah LiPo batteries. You may find that using the larger batteries could decrease flight time or flight performance due to the additional weight over smaller 1300mah-1600mah batteries.
If you want any advice or additional information, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.