Finwing Penguin

Jan 16, 2013 2 Comments by

I’ll start with a simple question: can penguins fly? Finwing thinks they may have the perfect answer to that question.  The Penguin is an EPO foam mid-wing pusher aircraft.  The ARF contains two molded wings, vertical and horizontal stabilizers and fuselage with wooden rib reinforcements.  Also included is all of the hardware needed to finish the aircraft and a beautiful vacu-formed clear canopy, even the aileron and rudder servo extensions are pre-installed. The 9-page manual is helpful but if you’ve ever put an ARF together you really don’t need it.  The build is simple and straight forward, the box arrived at my home at 3:00pm and I was finished with the build at 11pm that night!  There is an addition to the manual which explains how to reinforce the horizontal stabilizer with the included carbon fiber rod, this can been found on the ReadyMadeRC website.  Tim is also available for any further assistance you may need, I have to say the customer service is outstanding.

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UNIQUE FEATURES
The Penguin is an extremely stable platform that can be used for training, general fun flying, and First Person View (FPV) flights.  The high mounted pusher motor keeps the prop out of view from the camera and also provides protection in case of a hard landing or accident.  The fuselage incorporates three center line wheels, a dual wheel setup under the cockpit and a single in the tail.  This allows for rolling takeoffs and touch-and-goes. The elevator servo is located inside the fuselage and can be accessed through a panel under the right wing.  The area underneath the removable cockpit is cavernous and lined with Velcro to attach all the gear you’ll need.  This area also includes a built-in downward facing view port with a vacu-formed clear bubble; put a small camera in there to see what’s directly beneath the airplane.

The servo recesses are precut and the metal servo horns and aluminum clevises are strong and provide positive flight control. The ARF includes foam glue but I used a combination of hot glue and 5 minute epoxy.  I received the Penguin ARF Advance Package, which includes the M2815 (1280kv) brushless motor, 60A ESC with build-in switching BEC, three 17g servos, one 9g servo and one 9×5 3-blade propeller.

The included power package provides plenty of power for all types of flying.  I ran this combo with a ReadyMadeRC 3s 3300mah 35C lipo.   The ESC can handle a 4s battery but this plane isn’t built for speed so I would suggest sticking with a 3s setup.  For more flight time try adding an addition 3s battery in parallel, the fuselage has plenty of room to fit it and the plane can definitely handle the extra weight.

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Building the Penguin was a breeze, mostly because everything is precut and the recommended gear all fit perfectly.  Finishing touches were made by applying the included decals.

The All Seeing Penguin
The Penguin was designed with FPV in mind.  The extra-large bay, high mounted pusher motor, molded GPS recess, and even the cockpit design with its raised rear and sloping nose plus its stable flight characteristics all make the Penguin an ideal choice for an FPV platform.  There are very few extra steps that need to be made in order to take advantage of these FPV capabilities.  Choosing a camera is the first step, I chose to use the ReadyMadeRC 600XVN color CCD camera.  This is a high quality, small, lightweight camera that fits perfectly under the clear canopy.  The aircraft can be flown without the canopy if you want to use a bigger camera such as a GoPro.  I attached my camera to a ReadyMadeRC pan/tilt assembly. The ARF does include a cockpit mount for a small camera but I wanted to be able to look around while flying. In order to be able to pan the camera 90 degrees left and right without hitting the canopy I installed the assembly from underneath the cockpit floor and used double-sided foam tape to hold it in place.

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Step two is the transmitter; I use a 900MHz system which means my whip antennas are generally pretty long.  My 800mW transmitter has a whip antenna 8 inches long.  The Penguin has a hole precut in the nose for an antenna but I didn’t want my 8 inch antenna in the camera’s field of view, so I positioned the transmitter behind the camera.  This required cutting a hole in the canopy where the antenna protrudes.  Since I’m not using an OSD or GPS that was the extent of the modifications I needed to make.  The Penguin will easily be able to fit any additional gear I want to add in the future.  Everything is run from one battery, to do this I would highly recommend adding an LC Common Mode Power Filter. This is a compact and effective LC filter designed to clean a “dirty” DC power supply for sensitive FPV and RC components.  This will keep the battery from interfering with the video.  A Battery Tap with T-connector is the best and easiest option for tapping power from your main flight battery.

CONCLUSION
The Finwing Penguin is simple to build and just pure fun to fly.  The manual is easy to follow and the included hardware is complete and high quality.  The design and molding is well thought out which is evident by how effortless the build was.  The flight characteristics are stable and very forgiving, perfect for a beginner.  So can a Penguin fly?  I’d say yes and quite well.

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IN THE AIR
Setup at the field is a breeze; you’ll need a Phillips head screw driver. First slide the wings onto the carbon fiber rod and screw them in place, be careful not to lose the small nuts that go with it.  Next remove the cockpit and install the battery.  I used the included Velcro strips to secure the battery as well as receiver, ESC and power filter.  Turn the transmitter on, plug in the battery and reattach the cockpit with two screws.  The tail section is also removable and attaches with one screw.  I prefer to leave mine attached and secured with some clear tape along with the screw.

Launching the Penguin is as a simple as applying full throttle and a firm toss level or slightly nose up.  I give it a bit of up trim for the first hand launch, but the CG is at the recommended position so the bird flew straight and true.  With no tail wheel steering rolling takeoffs can be a bit tricky but not difficult.  Place the airplane on the runway into the wind and smoothly throttle up.  Maintain directional control with the rudder and keep the wings level with ailerons, when it reaches takeoff speed, which will be rather quickly, gently apply back stick pressure and away she goes.

Once in the air the Penguin is extremely stable and has a fairly broad speed range, gentle and smooth movements work and looks best.  A few clicks of right aileron and down elevator trims are all it took to keep the Penguin flying strait and level.  When it’s time to land simply line up and reduce power while keeping a slightly nose down attitude.  Once near the ground, a small flair is all that is needed for a smooth landing on the wheels.

GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE
Stability: The Penguin is extremely stable with the proper CG.  If it seems pitch sensitive or oscillates move the CG forward.  It should fly smooth and slice through the air effortlessly.

Tracking: It goes where you tell it to go, use a bit of rudder to make the turns prettier.

Aerobatics: Rolls, loops, inverted flight and everything in between are easily accomplished.  The recommended power system allows the Penguin to power through any maneuver you can throw at it.

Glide and stall performance: Due to its inherent stability it was very difficult to stall; once it did stall I had no problems and saw no bad tendencies.  The nose drops forward and it begins to fly again.  Keep the nose slightly down with shallow turns and you will have no issues gliding to a safe landing.

PILOT DEBRIEFING
The Penguin goes together quickly and easily, plus the flight characteristics are predictable which are all good for a beginner.  Yet the Penguin’s versatility makes it appealing to many different types of pilots.  Whether this is your first plane or 50th it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face every time.

 

Specifications
MODEL: Penguin

MANUFACTURER: Finwing

DISTRIBUTOR: ReadyMadeRC, LLC (www.readymaderc.com)

TYPE: electric mid-wing pusher

SMALLEST FLYING AREA: football field

IDEAL FOR: Beginner to Advanced

WINGSPAN: 68 in.

WING AREA: 595 sq. in.

READY-TO-FLY WEIGHT:  3lbs 9oz

WING LOADING: 11.8 oz sq.ft

PRICE: $239.99 (Advanced package)
GEAR USED
Radio: Spektrum DX8, 6ch Orange rx, (4) Finwing mini servos
Motor: Finwing M2815 1280kv, 60amp ESC w/BEC
Battery: ReadyMadeRC 3s 3300mAh 35C
Prop: GWS 9×5 3-blade
FPV: 600XVN color CCD camera, 900MHz 800mW transmitter, LC Common Mode Power Filter (www.readymaderc.com)

 

HIGHLIGHTS
+Awesome flight performance

+Quick build time

+Large electronics bay to fit lots of gear

+Made of durable foam

 

BY KYLE MATTHEW; PHOTOS BY MECURIO PUSATERI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Finwing Penguin”

  1. Aiden says:

    This plane is all the things you have said and more, but you forgot to mention it is avaliable in Europe, Asia and Australia too. I have had my Penguin a while now and it would pay to mention that there is a version 2 out now and the manufacturer recommends placing the elevator control horn on top of the elevator to avoid damage and crash potential.

  2. Bob Fricke says:

    I was wondering what the flight time was for your setup. I am looking for a plane to fly in the ocean from my boat and I need a long flight time. I would put in the largest batteries I could fit with no camera or extra equipment except for an eagle tree flight stabilizer.
    Bob Fricke, Simi Valley Fliers

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