FMS 850mm Ranger PNP


Written by Jon Barnes
A simple and affordable nod to general aviation
Product Review
As seen in the SPRING 2020 issue of Park Pilot




Specifications:

Type: Electric-powered high-wing trainer
Skill level: Beginner
Wingspan: 33.5 inches
Length: 25.8 inches
Weight: 10.3 ounces
Price: $129.99
Info: horizonhobby.com

FEATURES:
>> General aviation-inspired styling cues and orientation-enhancing graphics scheme
>> Bright white, cowling-mounted LED landing light included
>> Completion requires nothing more than a four-channel receiver and a two-cell 850 mAh LiPo battery
>> Wide-set tricycle landing gear contributes to good tracking during ground maneuvers
>> Replacement parts are relatively inexpensive



The little Ranger can easily be assembled and readied for its maiden flight at a park. With no adhesives required, pilots need only to supply a four-channel receiver and attach the wing and main landing gear.


>> In 2019, FMS announced and released a new high-wing, EPO foam-composition model christened the Ranger, in three sizes. First out of the gate was a 48-inch wingspan version. A quick blast of the manufacturing shrink ray resulted in a smaller, true park flyer-size 33.5-inch wingspan version.

With but a page or two left on the 2019 calendar, FMS upsized the Ranger by releasing it in a relatively jumbo-size 71-inch wingspan version. The Rangers bear more than a passing resemblance to the ubiquitous, tricycle gear-equipped Cessna 150/152s of general aviation fame. All three Ranger variants are distributed in the US by Horizon Hobby. The focus of this review is the 33.5-inch (850 mm) Ranger.

The model is a PNP (Plug-N-Play) kit. It comes out of the box with four 1.9-gram servos and a 2S LiPo battery-based brushless electric-power system that is already installed in the airframe. An impressively bright white, cowling-mounted, “always on” LED landing light stands out as a feature not typically included in a park flyer model of this size and class.

All control rods are assembled and in place. Larger models typically employ EZ-link style connectors on the servo end of the control rods, allowing pilots to easily adjust the neutral position of the control surfaces, but the little Ranger uses Z-bends at both ends of the control rods. To facilitate any adjustments of the control surface neutral positions, U-shaped bends are located near the midpoint of each control rod.

The factory-installed power system includes a 2315 3,850 Kv brushless outrunner, a JST-style connector equipped with a 12-amp brushless ESC with integral BEC, and a 6 x 5-inch propeller. Completion of this model requires a four-channel receiver and a 2S 800 to 900 mAh LiPo battery.



The belly-mounted battery bay can accept slightly larger packs than the recommended 2S 800 mAh LiPo batteries. Pilots should ensure that the hatch retention magnets are securely glued in place.




The control surfaces are fired by four factory-installed 1.9-gram servos. All pushrods utilize Z-bends on both ends. The included ESC comes equipped with a JST-style connector.


One affordably priced receiver that pilots might wish to consider for use in this model is the recently released Spektrum AR410 receiver. Touted as being a full-range sport receiver, the AR410 also boasts a conveniently compact form factor and weighs a feathery light 1/4 ounce.

Assembly of the 850 mm Ranger can be completed at the field. A single fastener holds the one-piece wing in place on top of the fuselage. A spare fastener was included in the box. The plastic wing struts are preattached to the underside of the wing, with the other ends snap-locking into slots on the sides of the fuselage.

Although the steerable nose gear is installed at the factory, pilots will need to mount and secure the wide-set main gear assembly to the underside of the Ranger using the included fasteners. Many pilots will be able to complete the assembly with nary a glance at the online assembly manual, but those who prefer to glean each detail and feature of their new model by reading the entire manual might notice an apparent anomaly or two.

The manual mentions a “three-in-one integrated receiver” and GPS, but neither is included with this PNP version of the Ranger. The manual also somewhat erroneously illustrates a six-channel receiver. Although pilots can elect to use a receiver with additional channels above and beyond the minimum four channels that are required, doing so comes with the caveat of increased flying weight, higher wing loading, and higher net stall speed.

The battery bay is located on the underside of the Ranger, slightly aft of the nose gear. The battery hatch is magnetically retained at its front edge with the aft edge featuring a foam tongue that indexes into the fuselage.

The hatch magnet is held in place with a small piece of fiber tape, which came loose during the maiden flight, allowing the battery hatch to drop free and flutter to the ground. A few drops of carefully applied foam-safe CA adhesive were needed to rectify this minor issue. It would have been a better design if the battery hatch was engineered to open in the other direction.

The battery bay can accept 2S battery packs that are larger in capacity than the recommended 800 mAh size, but those that are long might be difficult to shoehorn into the available space.

Using an Eagle Tree eLogger (eagletreesystems.com), the brushless power system that is included with this model showed a maximum static reading of 75 watts at wide-open throttle. With the model coming in at an all-up weight of 10 ounces (using an E-flite 2S 800 mAh LiPo battery), this calculates out to a peppy 120 watts per pound of performance.

Pilots of a variety of skill levels will find that the Ranger offers a pleasing amount of power and performance. Takeoffs can be slow and scalelike or quick and aggressive. With the control throws cranked up a little, the Ranger will happily execute aileron rolls and loops. The latter will require judicious throttle use and a slight diving entry to retain enough energy to make it cleanly over the top.

Knife-edge flight is possible, but the model does pull aggressively toward the canopy. The limited amount of compensatory elevator that is required during inverted flight suggests that FMS has the battery placement and center of gravity optimally located.

The chosen graphics scheme, with its abundance of multicolored swooshes that adorn the top and side and an array of rectangular bars arranged on the underside of the wing and horizontal stabilizer, offers newer pilots solid in-flight orientation cues.

Other relevant performance data that might be of interest to potential purchasers of this park flyer is that it has a wing loading of approximately 7.7 ounces per square foot (a wing cube loading of 6.6). Using 2S 950 mAh LiPo battery packs, I was routinely able to achieve flight durations of 5 to 6 minutes.

A full selection of spare parts for this model is available from Horizon Hobby. The relatively low prices for the parts should help lessen the sting of any unexpected and abrupt contact with terra firma.

Although floats can be added for the 1,220 mm and 1,800 mm-wingspan versions of the Ranger, no specific floats are listed as being an option for this smallest member of the family.

Because of this model’s all-up flying weight of 10 ounces, it is best flown on calmer days. This aircraft’s modest radio system and battery requirements, coupled with its high wing and tricycle gear configuration, offer newer pilots a low-cost, semiscale, general aviation-based airplane that can easily be flown at a local park or ballfield.



Although not a true scale model, the Ranger’s lines and in-flight persona combine to make it appear to be a convincingly Cessna-like general aviation aircraft.


Photos by the Jon R. Barnes



Article: 

1 comments

Very informative description of the Ranger and it’s flying characteristics. As a beginner RC pilot with 5000 hours in Cessna182’s and Bonanza’s I can appreciate the descriptions of flying this model

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