The Aero Ace – a neat RC toy

2009-06-10

in Geek stuff

The other day, I bought an Air Hogs Aero Ace radio-controlled aircraft, and I have been having a lot of fun with it since. The design is very simple, with two pager motors driving propellers and no control surfaces. Altitude is therefore controlled entirely through thrust, with turns accomplished by changing the relative power of the two motors. The biplane design is very stable, and capable of making fairly soft landings even without any power or control.

Flying it well requires about a parking lot of space, and it is easy to get it up to fifty feet of altitude or so. Given the very low weight, it only works well indoors or in very still weather. The foam body is very crash resistant. I have crashed mine literally hundreds of times into walls and concrete lots, with no structural damage.

The planes are fairly inexpensive (about $40) and can be ordered online. They run on 6 AA batteries, kept in the transmitter. The plane itself contains a lithium polymer battery which charges using a wire from the controller. Charging takes about 30 minutes, and gives 10-15 minutes of flight time. They are available in three frequencies, so that more than one can be flown in the same area at once (mine is frequency A). It would definitely be fun to play around with a couple of them in the same space.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan June 10, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Another company makes a cheap toy ornithopter I would like to try.

More on ornithopters.

Tristan June 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

This looks amazing. I especially like that it has no control surfaces to be calibrated or to break in a crash. Does it float/could it be made waterproof? (i.e. for use at the cabin).

I also wonder if the battery system could be modified for increased voltage. In undergrad when I become obsessed with the newly available and cheap RC cars from china, I modified several to run at twice the stock speed.

I am very tempted to buy one. Would you recommend ordering it online from a particular supplier?

Milan June 10, 2009 at 9:00 pm

It doesn’t have enough thrust to take off, even from a very smooth surface. If it landed in water, it would stay put until you went to get it. When you recovered it, I doubt it would work, since the battery and electrical contacts are on the bottom.

There is a big modding community, so someone has probably tried increasing the voltage. One word of warning: apparently, lithium polymer batteries respond explosively to being short circuited.

I ordered it from the Canadian Toys ‘R Us website. It arrived about five days after I placed the order.

. June 10, 2009 at 9:05 pm
Milan June 10, 2009 at 9:42 pm

There are lots of Aero Ace videos on YouTube.

Milan June 10, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Here is a total conversion of the airframe, using the original electronics.

R.K. June 10, 2009 at 9:52 pm

I hope someone eventually comes up with a material that is strong enough to be light and contain a near-vacuum.

That would make for some amazing toys, and possibly whole new forms of transport.

Milan June 11, 2009 at 4:19 pm

I am getting better at flying this little thing.

The first thing I learned is that wind is a key variable. Flying out in a field with weak but present wind (flags largely drooping vertically, but fluttering a bit) causes enough problems to make controlling the plane reliably difficult. You generally find yourself trending downwind and unable to make headway back.

Rather than breezy fields, I have done my best flying in empty sections of two-lane residential street, with houses and trees on both sides. Just don’t get the plane stuck in high branches!

The second thing I have come to appreciate is the time delay between input and changes in the direction of the plane. If you hold the control long enough to see the turn starting, you will probably oversteer. You just need to learn the appropriate input length for turns of different durations. Once that becomes intuitive, so does flying.

Milan July 4, 2009 at 7:04 pm

This post includes a photo of the Aero Ace.

As you can see, the paint starts chipping off pretty quickly, but the plane has survived hundreds of crashes.

Milan July 19, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Nicer photos of the Aero Ace: wood background, black background

. October 21, 2009 at 5:44 pm
anon June 15, 2013 at 2:32 pm

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