Horizon’s hotrod EDF grows up!
HABU is a tribal word that loosely translates to “Holy crap, Batman, did you see this?” And that is what I said to the guys in the shop when I first opened the box. But, I digress. If you seek a great looking, hot performing and fun to put together electric ducted fan jet, with unheard of performance, this Habu 32 is the bird for you. It came from the design team at Horizon Hobby/EFlite, headed by none other than David Payne, you know, Kim’s significant other. If you’ve been chomping at the bit for a step up from their original “foamy” version, it is here. Yes, it is more expensive; yes, it takes about 30 hours to assemble, and yes, it will definitely help prepare you for hotter EDFs, such as the BVM Electra, EDF Bandit or perhaps any turbine sport jet you may see in your modeling future.
There’s little to describe about building the Habu 32; it is truly an ARF, requiring a limited amount of labor, very few tools and minimal building supplies. It comes with a very comprehensive manual, describing every single procedure with a picture and words. The manual is as thick as a Quarter Pounder, but don’t let its size turn you off. There is a photo for almost everything to ensure your success, and as they used to say over at Kodak, “One picture is worth a thousand words.” Some of the tools you’ll require are a drill, light duty pliers, a Dremel Tool, scissors, tape, sanding block, Xacto knife, ball drivers, a ruler and some other insignificant stuff you’d normally find laying around your shop or that junk drawer in the kitchen. Wisely, the manual recommends a selection of ZAP adhesives for strength and joint longevity. Nice!
GOTTA HAVE IT
Now that you are salivating for something new and cool, let’s talk about what it takes to move the Habu from the box to the runway. Any company worth its weight in servo screws is going to recommend accessories from its own product line. There is no exception here. So keep this in mind. You can substitute any purchased part or accessory for anything you like, but the model was designed with specific parts, having specific dimensions, in mind. So yes, you can/may substitute a Futaba servo for the recommended JR shown in the manual, but it may require you to massage the servo mount. Personally, the chances of you having all the stuff required to fly this bird laying around the shop is slim, so you may as well do what I did and get the parts that fit perfectly!
The manual says you can fly the Habu 32 with a 5-channel radio. I don’t think so. I mean, Yes you CAN, but it is so much easier to set up with a 7 or 8-channel rig. The JR X9303 is ideal. JR has recently introduced the small, powerful MC35 servos. Grab 7 of these babies and one JR DS368 as well. The 368 is for the rudder, with the MC35s everywhere else. The manual spells out exactly the number and length of the servo extension cables and Y harnesses you’ll need. You will also need a DF32 brushless motor, an 80-amp electronic speed control and a quality 5000mAh 6S battery.
The Habu 32 comes with the neatest set of fixed gear you can imagine, (hence the 5-channel capability) retract units with the actuation parts removed! This crafty move allows the builder, that’s me and you, to opt for the electric retracts, which slide into the exact same place the fixed gear is mounted. Cool. The retract gear are very durable and now that the struts have been upgraded, you may fly from grass fields with confidence. My kit was Habu prototype #3, so one of the benefits of me doing a review was I could note any modifications that should be considered for the production models. The most glaring was the prototype struts were too “soft” for repeated grass field operation. And, BTW, the little retract landing gear are self-contained electric units—really impressive!
I have no suggestions for any other changes, but I will tell you that I am a bug for quality hardware, like screws, nuts and bolts. For example, I prefer hardware that I can pick up with a magnetized tool. Most hardware made outside of the USA, England, Germany or France, is made up from a combination of alloys. The most common ingredient is Aluminum. And Aluminum is non-magnetic, can’t be retrieved with a magnet when you drop a piece. I also prefer that the Phillips heads on the tiny screws have a cross slot that accepts a common Phillips screwdriver. I replaced some of the hardware with stuff compatible with magnetic tools, or with heads that didn’t snap off if a 5-year-old cranked down on them. Other than that pet peeve, I could not find anything else I’d change.
There are several really nice things that David and his team incorporated into the Habu. For example, the slots for installing the elevator, flap and aileron horns are already cut into the respective surfaces. One word of caution though. The manual recommends that you sand the elevator control horns a little, to shorten them so that they will not interfere with, or poke against, the top surface covering. My suggestion is to take off a little extra on all horns to prevent that happening elsewhere. All servo bays are pre-cut and only need massaging with a sanding stick to fit the JR servos perfectly. The manual suggest Z-Poxy instead of ZAP CA products in several procedures, listen to the manual! I know we all like to use CA because it is an instant bond, but sometimes having more time is a good thing.
Every single part that is meant to fit against another part fits perfectly, and that is really nice. If it does not for any reason, look into finding out why, because the fault will not be with the model! Finally, the construction “sequence” is accurate, and that is comforting. There is nothing worse than gluing or bolting something together only to find out 5 steps later that “Oops, shouldn’t have done that yet!” That does not take place here!
When setting up the servo travel it is nice if you don’t have to keep running to grab the transmitter. There are devices, called Servo Actuators or Servo Testers, which allow you to plug in your servo then operate it without needing a transmitter. IMHO, the very best servo actuator on the planet is called the Servo Xciter by Vexa. It is a “must have” piece of equipment for me. Go to www.vexacontrol.com if you’re interested. It saves a lot of time and is extremely well manufactured. And speaking of servos, the recommended JR Sport MC35 servos are not only compact; they are amazingly stronger than I thought they’d be. They have performed flawlessly in every way.
In the beginning, I mentioned that you could get by with a 5-channel radio. And that is true, if you don’t opt for a set of retract gear. And no, you won’t be hand launching this baby! A radio with more features is a luxury to be sure, but it also makes a lot of sense, especially if it allows separate channels for flaps, elevators or ailerons. With the JR X9303, you may have the right and left ailerons, flaps or individual elevators separately controlled, and set to the same neutral position by merely plugging them into separate channels on the receiver.
Although all linkages are easy to get to on this airplane, meaning any adjustments can be manually accomplished, it is still nice not to have to undo servo hatches, and remove a servo to make a small correction. Well, the X9303 allows you to do that, in mere seconds, even nano-seconds once you get used to it! But wait, there’s more. You can also make yourself a simple “mix” that allows the nose steering and rudder to be coupled, yet placed on separate channels. Don’t give me that look, what I mean is that then, you have separate “trim” control over the nose steering without affecting the rudder trim. Soooooooo, when you are taxing out, let’s say the Habu is doing a slight left turn while the rudder stick is neutral. Well, just turn the coupled Aux control to the right and the steering is corrected without disturbing the rudder at all.
Cool eh? The only problem is the 9303 is discontinued so you will have to pick up one used. Need new? Fortunately, its new sibling the JR 9503 is even better. With 50 model memories, a backlit screen and a few other tweaks, the 9503 takes the 9303 format and makes it even cooler. New or used, these radios make a great platform helping to make you a better pilot by removing the aggravation factor and providing you with the opportunity to operate a perfectly trimmed airplane.
The bottom line is that this is truly a great model, and it looks so good. The fact that it is a jet with startling performance is just the icing on the cake. In the plus and minus column, there really are only plusses. It starts with the attractive, but sturdy, packaging. It progresses to a complete kit concept, expertly finished, with an “everything included” hardware package, phenomenal instruction manual, superb fitting components, non-complicated assembly and brilliant performance.
Is it for you? I’m not certain, yet. Are you capable of flying a brisk performing 4-channel sport model? Are you fairly dexterous with an x-acto, drill, screwdriver and a bottle of ZAP? Can you read? Do you have a kitchen table for a work area and some clear plastic tape to cover your wife’s mouth? If you can answer yes to all but one of these questions, you are certainly one who can build and fly a Habu 32 successfully. In other words, this baby has Mr. Jet Pilot written all over it! The temptation to immediately order one will be all but irresistible, I assure you!
I cannot imagine anyone capable of handling a quick .40-size sport model having any apprehension about being successful with a Habu. The fact that it is a fairly fast airplane, approaching 140 mph does not mean you have to fly it that fast! I routinely fly it at 1/3 throttle for slow passes, flaps extended, and it hangs right in there. It flies like a much larger model. While it is as aerobatic as most other jets out there, regardless of size, you must follow the manual’s suggestion for control surface throws. The model reacts abruptly to inputs, so adding expo and flying on low rates is what you want to do for everyday flying. If you want to do snap maneuvers, go to more aggressive throws, but it is not otherwise needed.
I made several takeoffs on different surfaces, just for comparison. It got off in less than 100 feet from a hard surface runway and in less than 200 feet from a level grass runway. I dialed in partial flap for the grass field takeoff. Landing are a lot easier if your caller reminds you that this is a jet and jets don’t slow down like prop jobs do. The manual recommends about 4 clicks of down elevator with flaps fully deployed. This is about perfect and I recommend you mix in this trim with your transmitter. Without the down elevator trim, the Habu does pitch up rather steeply when you put in full flap. Landings are smooth and predictable. After a few landings, you will find what works for you. I usually come back to 1/3 power on the downwind leg back to idle on the cross wind leg and just let it come in, adding a tiny bit of power if I feel it is getting too slow, then getting back to idle again. As far as endurance, flying at full throttle will allow you about 41/2 minutes, but throttle management and flying like a normal, sane person, you can get over 7 minutes, easily! I did one flight at 81/2 minutes.
As far as flight performance goes, we radar checked it for top speed and slow speed. We had about a 7 mph wind that first day and clocked 132 mph after a shallow dive and then 29 mph into the wind, with full flaps. The Habu will do any maneuver you like and it does them all well. It is very neutral, flying inverted as well as upright. I don’t think you could ask for anything more.
PLANE: Habu 32
DISTRIBUTOR: Horizon Hobby
TYPE: EDF Performance Sport Jet
WINGSPAN: 40.5 in.
WING AREA: 392 sq. in.
LENGTH: 49.3 in.
WEIGHT: 7.25 lbs. with battery
WING LOADING: 42.6 oz./sq. ft.
RADIO: Minimum 5 channels required with fixed gear, 6 channels with retracts. Flown with JR X9303 transmitter, 8 channel receiver, 7 JR MC35 servos, 1 JR DS368 servo
POWER SYSTEM: E-flite DF32 2150Kv brushless motor, 80-amp brushless ESC, 5000mAh 6S, 22.2V, 30C LiPo, 10 AWG EC5
FULL THROTTLE POWER: 65 amps, 1495 watts, 12.89 W/oz., 206.2 W/lb.
DURATION: Up to 7 minutes with throttle management.
COMPONENTS NEEDED TO FLY: See Radio and Power System, 8 servos, optional 15-25 Tricycle Electric Retracts ( EFLAEC312), 20/20 Vision, 10 servo extensions; 5 @ 3 in., 1 each @ 6, 9 & 18 in., 2@ 12 in., 3 Y-harnesses
SUMMARY: In my life’s experiences, I have rarely thought that the sequel of anything was better than the original. You may not agree, but I feel that the first Alien movie was by far the scariest, Smokey Robinson’s “Oh Baby, Baby” was way better than whoever knocked it off years later and the original Coca Cola is miles ahead of Coke Zero, Decaf or Cherry flavored. With that in mind, I feel that the smart looking Habu 32 seen here and on the cover simply blows away that mindset, and its predecessor. I believe that the Habu 32 will remain the “standard” to which all copycat EDF models around this size will be compared to for years to come. No, I am not putting the end of this review before the beginning, just setting the tone for it!
This is an ARF in that it is almost ready to fly, but it still needs between 30 and 40 hours of assembly time. But there is no “fudge” factor. Everything fits as it should with minimal massaging. The factory applied painted finish and the covering job on the flight surfaces is nothing short of incredible! The price is well below what I expected. It could easily have been $150 more and still be considered a good value. You will not get bored with this airplane. One piece of advice, you will want to fly and show off this bird a lot, so buy an extra airborne battery!
E-flite, dist. exclusively by Horizon Hobby Distributors
www.e-fliterc.com (800) 338-4639
JR, dist. exclusively by Horizon Hobby Distributors
www.jrradios.com , (800) 338-4639
Spektrum, dist. by Horizon Hobby
www.spektrumrc.com , (800) 338-4639
ZAP and Z-Poxy manufactured by Pacer Technology