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Thread: ZOHD Nano Talon 860mm - full review / build log / mods

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    Navigator Arxangel's Avatar
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    ZOHD Nano Talon 860mm - full review / build log / mods

    Hey guys, here is my review / build log / mods thread on the ZOHD Nano Talon PNP version.


    The build, as well as a full parts list, can be found in my blog: ArxangelRC.blogspot.com


    About 2 years ago... maybe more, I bought a Mini Talon, as it looked a really well designed plane with lots of room on the inside and yet still small enough to easily carry around and transport! I never got to fly it though, because people started reporting easy tip stalls, and I had just stopped flying my Raptor V2 for that exact reason, so was certainly not going to build another plane with that behaviour!


    When I saw the Nano Talon I really liked its idea, and how easy it is to assemble and disassemble, transport, etc. Looked like a very interesting option... but there was the relatively small wing span and the fact that it was a Talon... which immediately made me question its flight performance! But then I thought about the Micro/Nano Skyhunter, and how that little bugger was flying much better than its bigger brother the Mini Skyhunter, so in some instances the smaller planes could potentially fly better! I decided to give the Nano Talon a try, so I got one!


    I have to be honest here... it delivered A LOT more than I had hoped for! It is exceptionally well made, comes fully assembled and geared up, all you need to do is add a receiver, battery, and optionally FPV gear, and go flying! It shouldn't take you more than 5 mins to get it in the air from the first time you open the box! The internal space has been designed very well and there is a lot of room for a lot of gear, should you decide to weight it down! And efficiency... darn its good!














    SPECIFICATIONS
    Wing span: 860mm
    Wing area: to be deternined
    Length: 570mm
    Flying weight: 307 grams (with FPV gear, no battery)
    CG: 3.5cm from LE (markings are on the wings)




    ARRIVAL STATE


    Absolutely no complaints here. The plane, and the box it was in, arrived in a perfect shape. There was no damage at all on the model.




    WHAT I LIKE


    I want to start with something that is otherwise bothering me in almost all other models I've had - the hinges! Even though this plane has a wing span of only 860mm, all control surfaces are properly hinged, and actually at this size and weight, this plane could do without them. On the other hand, 4-5kg planes come with no hinges to speak of, other than that foam they like to call a hinge, the latest example being the $250 Believer KIT! OK, if you are going to charge so much money for a few foam pieces and a few plastic pieces... it probably wouldn't kill you to mount a few hinges in there! After all, for that price you can get a PNF scale model from FMS in nearly the same size, fully equipped and almost ready to fly out of the box!


    Anyway, I am glad ZOHD have had the decency to put hinges on a plane that small, but it also does tie in pretty nicely with the control scheme here, so everything works together to make this little jewel an outstanding model. The aileron hinges do not appear to be there, but they are cleverly hidden in the foam!











    And check the tail fins out! In addition to proper hinges, they are mounted with magnets to the plane, where the two tail fins actually snap to each other once you insert them in the fuselage.














    Yup, that whole tail comes together in something like 5 seconds... possibly even less!





    And what's more, the rod sticking out of the control surface mates with a corresponding piece in the fuselage, which is connected to the servo.








    But we are not done with the tail yet... guess what... the tail control surfaces are also reinforced with carbon strips... how about that!!! On a plane that weights 300-400 grams... NOW we are done with the tail! Well done ZOHD! Show them big plane manufacturers how its done!





    And the main wings follow a similar scheme. The control surfaces are connected via rods and linkages to the servo inside, but unlike the tail fins, the ailerons have no carbon strips in them, because the hinge rod actually goes through the whole control surface, so it also acts as a stiffener.


    The wings also has a carbon spar and a clip that plug into the corresponding bits on the fuselage, and rather securely if I may add!





    And I am constantly amazed how accurately all of these parts fit together! The manufacturing quality of this plane is simply outstanding, given what I've seen out of China so far.











    Between the friction of the carbon spar and the locking clip, this wing is not coming off in flight, unless you seriously overload the plane and actually try to brake this on purpose!





    And right between the wings is where the control magic is happening! This is where the servos are housed. A really impressive way of doing things that I have not seen before done quite like this! Seems sturdy enough, I only hope it lasts in time... but I guess I will find that out. As far as I read, the first versions of this plane came with only 1 servo for the tail, making it an elevator only setup, but later on they have added a second one for a full featured V-tail, and this is the version I got... so glad to see they are developing and improving this model, rather than just milking it for the profits!








    Continues in next post...
    Last edited by Arxangel; 26th August 2018 at 03:26 PM.

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    ... continued from previous post!


    In there you will also find the ZOHD stabilizer unit and the ESC. Both are very small and light.








    And this stabilizer unit actually works, and for something in a PNP model, it works rather well, and makes this plane quite suitable for novice pilots!





    Another good thing here is that everything comes pre-assembled, glued, installed, wired, hinges, connected, and so on! You only need to connect a receiver to the stabilizer, strap in a battery and go flying! This is very good straight out of the box!


    Another benefit of having the servos and all other control linkages on the inside of the fuselage is that the plane looks a lot better this way, so clean and streamlined! They are also not creating any additional drag, allowing the plane to fly quicker at less amp draw, making it more efficient!





    And now the motor. It is a 2204 1870Kv one, spinning a self-tightening 6x3 prop, and it comes down cold after each flight! On 4S the plane has tons of power and goes vertically, while the motor only sips a mere 12.7A from the battery, which makes the 30A ESC a very wise choice for this model, as you would definitely have a hard time overworking it!








    The motor's mount seems to have been glued in properly in the factory, because the motor itself seems to be perfectly aligned to the fuselage.





    I also love the fact that the rear landing skid is higher than the prop, and so it will protect it on landings, which might increase its lifespan.





    In addition, that skid also has a protective plastic piece on it, which would definitely improve its life and durability!





    And so we come to yet another thing that really impressed me on this model - the internal space! Even though it is rather small, the Nano Talon actually has tons of space on the inside, and you would be able to fit quite a lot of gear in there. The front battery compartment is absolutely vast and it continues to the back of the plane and the rear bottom hatch. This means that you could load this up with batteries and have enough room move them around and still balance the plane.





    This is the 4S 1800mAh 65C Nano-tech pack.








    I see some good potential for a good amount of LiIon cells!







    The rear bottom compartment provides a convenient location for Vtx and antenna mounting, as well as a battery spot right under the CG, just in case you have a lot of FPV gear mounted up front.





    There is also enough space where the stabilizer is, to allow the installation of a micro autopilot when the time comes, without being too cramped, and with excellent access!





    Continues in next post...

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    ... continued from previous post!


    As for the hatches, both are mounted using magnets, and these are STRONG! Fit and hold is impressive, so I am happy they won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

















    The canopy is actually the only hatch on the plane that doesn't use magnets. It has a proper plastic lock that does a very good job and secures it down completely.








    The front of the plane is designed to accept an FPV pilot camera, and seems to be the right size and shape for the more popular sizes out there, with the wider lens.





    Overall the fit and finish of this plane is quite impressive, it almost feels as the parts were designed to actually fit together!! Shocking... isn't it?
    The foam feels softer than EPO... but it looks like it! In any case I hope it is some EPP that is crash resistant, because I really would love it if this mode survives longer!














    The plane actually has two cooling openings at the front - one is on the canopy and the other on the bottom of the fuselage. They should help with cooling the battery and other gear in there.










    WHAT I DON'T LIKE


    My biggest concern here is with the control surfaces. All these linkages and rods do make an impressive control system and keep the outside of the plane very clean, but on the other hand they introduce slop in the control surfaces, that would not be there if the servos were connected directly to the control surfaces. In high speed situations that slop could result in flutter, which would definitely diminish the performance and control of the plane.


    I did notice that in flight the stabilization is a bit wobbly and I have two theories about that - either the stabilizer is not doing the absolute best job it could to stabilize the plane well, or that slop in the control surfaces is causing a delay in the stabilization, which in turn causes that wobble in flight. The control surfaces look solid on the ground, but that is a different story once you are in the air and there is pressure on them. At this point this is just a concern, but I will soon know the reason when I replace the stabilizer with an AP and will see how it will stabilize the plane.


    Another gripe I have with this set is the prop! I don't mind a self-tightening prop at all, but I would have liked if they had included a spare! I know the rear landing skid protects it from impact on landings, and would probably greatly improve its life, but still... mishaps happen and having a spare is always nice, especially if it is self-tightening... and a model that can't be easily acquired.


    And last, the plane came with NO user manual at all! At least mine didn't! I know that the CG is marked on the wings and all, and that it comes fully equipped with all electronics installed, but there is a stabilizing unit in it and some people might find a user manual useful, especially the beginners!




    THE BUILD




    Hmmmm... if it wasn't for the FPV system, this section would not have been necessary as this plane literally assembles in 10 seconds and there is pretty much no building to speak of, as everything comes pre-assembled, glued, installed and wired!


    So, first in was the receiver, and although at first I did connect a 4 channel receiver, as I really didn't take a good look at the stabilizer to see it actually needs 5 channels, I later installed an 8 channel receiver, so finally I had access to the full capabilities of the stabilizer unit. Antennas made it out of the plane via the small opening at the front of the top hatch. Since I will not be going too far out now, I won't spend too much time mounting these properly, but later on I will make sure to do so!











    My FPV system of choice for the time being includes a Foxeer Arrow V3 camera, an Eachine TX801 switchable vtx, and a small linear antenna. The whole thing is powered directly from the balance plug on the flight battery, and since the camera has an OSD and a voltage sensor in it, I can easily monitor battery levels via the OSD information.





    This camera fits at the front of the plane, where its designed spot is, like a glove! I mean it fits perfectly in there, with just the right amount of friction to keep it in! I haven't even glued it in yet, and I've had a number of flights without it coming off! Will have to secure it in some way at some point, but the fit really impressed me. Still debating whether I like seeing just a little foam around the edges of the screen, as the camera seems to have a tad wider lens, or if I should cut the foam off... decisions, decisions!


    Continues in next post...

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    ... continued from previous post!











    The Vtx unit I mounted at the back of the plane under the bottom hatch, with the antenna pointing down. It actually fits quite well in there and especially at altitude, nothing should get between the ground station and the Vtx antenna, and foam doesn't count as it is transparent for these frequencies.








    The wiring is also very clean when you only need to plug a connector to the battery's balance plug.








    I am so glad FPV gear nowadays has in-built filtering! Connecting the FPV system just 2 years ago like this would have resulted in horrifying interference in the video, unless you used an LC filter for instance.





    And that's about it really, just plug in the wings and tail, and go flying!






















    THE VERDICT


    Putting aside the lack of a manual and a spare prop... the only issue I can see is the wobbly stabilization caused either by the ZOHD stabilizer, or the slop in the control surfaces, caused by the linkage system on the plane! In the first case this can easily be fixed by replacing the stock stabilizer, and I intend to do that very soon! A second option would be to try and install the servos closer to the control surfaces and remove some of these linkages - that will definitely reduce the amount of slop dramatically, but in either way there is not a lot of it anyway!


    Even with the slop the plane flies surprisingly well for its size and weight, and if you don't want to bother modding or replacing electronics, just fly it on calmer days, and you should be pretty darn happy with it! But even in the wind, ignoring the side to side shaking, although that happens mostly when there is turbulent air around and should be much better higher up where the wind is not as turbulent, the Nano Talon is simply a dream to fly! No matter what I do I can't make it tip stall and go into a spiral, and that gives me an insane amount of confidence into this model, and means that flying it can be a lot more enjoyable, when you are almost certain it can't surprise you with something bad.


    The motor and ESC are well chosen for its size and weight, and with the 6x3 prop the motor has enough thrust to make it go straight up, which in turn makes take offs soooooo much easier! Flip the switch to the stabilized but non-auto level mode and it just takes off out of your hand when you push the throttle! Best thing is, unlike the FuryWing, the Nano Talon really goes straight up and is so easy to control and fly!


    I would say it is absolutely suitable for beginner pilots as there is so little to do, in order to get it in the air, and in addition the stabilizer unit makes flying it so easy, and you can always switch it off once you feel comfortable advancing your skills! This plane would be fun for all skill level pilots, and best thing is it has more than enough space inside to allow for upgrades such as a larger battery, possibly an autopilot, etc. It is simply a VERY WELL DESIGNED model. The material feels kinda soft compared to EPO, so it should be more flexible and dent resistant... but remains to be seen how it will fare in a crash!


    So, this is the ZOHD Nano Talon... I would say a rather brilliant little FPV plane! Stay tuned for the upgrades and mods I will be doing, if you are interested.

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    This is an awesome plane, and an F4 omni flight board with iNav and OSD fits it perfectly. With 3S 3500mah 18650 size li ion packs I get nearly an hour. With larger 20700 size 4200mah cells I haven't found the time limit yet. The slop may be due to a wonky aileron servo, many have replaced it (including me) and been happy with the results. So far I've been out to 4.3 miles using 600mW 5.8GHz video and TBS Crossfire micro receiver. Hope to break 5 miles soon, just have to aim the video receive antennas better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fyathyrio View Post
    This is an awesome plane, and an F4 omni flight board with iNav and OSD fits it perfectly. With 3S 3500mah 18650 size li ion packs I get nearly an hour. With larger 20700 size 4200mah cells I haven't found the time limit yet. The slop may be due to a wonky aileron servo, many have replaced it (including me) and been happy with the results. So far I've been out to 4.3 miles using 600mW 5.8GHz video and TBS Crossfire micro receiver. Hope to break 5 miles soon, just have to aim the video receive antennas better.
    Sounds good, though I prefer 4S to be honest... love the vertical take offs! Thanks for the tip about the servo, will examine that and when I do the other mods I may replace those as well, although I would want to put in some metal geared ones... and at this size options are limited or expensive... but we will see! If this proves worth it... I will spare no expense to make a short range quick deployment cloud chaser out of it!

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    The tail servos appear to be different one from the aileron, but kind of hard to tell without pulling them out. I used a regular 12g MG servo.

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