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Thread: Volantex Ranger 2000 V757-8 2m wingspan FPV airplane - full review / build log

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    Volantex Ranger 2000 V757-8 2m wingspan FPV airplane - full review / build log

    OK, so this is official now, the next generation FPV Raptor, which is now called the Ranger 2000 has now been reviewed! A KIT version is also available.


    The review as well as a parts list can also be found in my blog ArxangelRC.blogspot.com






    It has been quite some time since Volantex have released a large wingspan plane for FPV. The FPVraptor V2 was a great plane with the only exception that it used to tip stall the moment you give it a chance to, and that really annoyed me and a lot of other people. I solved the issue by always making sure to fly above 40km/h, but others solved the problem by putting on the wing from the Radian Pro glider. The Ranger EX was a serious improvement in that regard, with it not tip stalling at all, but it had the other issue that has plagued the Raptor - the nose-down on throttle up effect. To my surprise the Ranger 2000 has both these issues fixed, and has a few other improvements as well. I say well done Volantex!




    SPECIFICATIONS
    Wing span: 2000mm
    Wing area: to be deternined
    Length: 1100mm
    Flying weight: 1083 grams for the PNP version (no battery and receiver)
    CG: 70cm from LE as per the User Manual




    ARRIVAL STATE


    The box the plane arrived in was actually in pretty good shape. DHL rarely deliver a heavily damaged package. However, inside the package there were a few little dings on the wings, being foam and all, but that was about it. The fuselage can handle tons of abuse without a scratch to show for it!
















    WHAT I LIKE




    Boy, where do I start! A huge selling point for me has always been the plastic fuselage. For those of you who have been following me for a while, you may be familiar with the multitude of spectacular crashes that both the Ranger EX and the Raptor have endured, and both planes have survived! Yes, the foam bits - wings, tails, etc.; do break and sometimes need repair or replacing, but the fuselages always survive almost intact, and when you clean off the dirt, you can barely tell something is wrong.


    Good news is the Ranger 2000 also takes advantage of this plastic fuselage. I am not sure exactly what this material is, Volantex say it is some secret formula, but I do love the flexibility and rigidity of it. Also, having fuselage walls about 1mm thick frees up A LOT of internal space for batteries and gear.








    I also need to mention here the new wings! These have obviously been redesigned featuring a new airfoil, and are NOT the same as the ones on the Raptor. Tried as I might, I was not able to get the plane to tip stall, at least not at its current weight of around 1300 grams with the battery and receiver. We will see if things will change when I load it up, but for now their performance is stellar!





    In addition to the new airfoil, these wings have two spars already in them - the front one is shorter and Volantex say it is there to strengten the wing in high wind situations, the rearward one is much longer going almost all the way to the wingtips. In my experience I have found square tubes to be more rigid than round ones, though I am not sure why they have to be aluminium! Carbon would be stiffer, but with the aluminium you could bend the wing back if it warps in any direction! In any case, the wing halves are super stiff.








    The wings join together by way of two smaller round spars that go through the fuselage.








    Another new feature here are the wing clips that are actually what secures the wings to the fuselage. Inside the fuselage the other part of the clips are mounted to the top plywood plate. Once you insert the wings in place and hear the click, pretty much nothing short of a serious crash would be able to pry those wings out of there. The whole thing feels super solid and I think it will be able to easily take a lot more weight. It is also interesting to note, that at least on my unit the clips are glued in very well and I can feel no looseness when I try to pry them out of the wings. Disassembly is also super easy - just press on the clip so it will disengage from the fuselage and pull the wing! After the XK A1200 this is the easiest plane to assemble that I own!














    What also helps the wing assembly to be so solid is the fact that the wing beds are a part of the fuselage and are moulded out of the same plastic! This will also ensure that the wings will not warp in flight and will help prevent the chances of tip stall.





    And while I am still talking about the fuselage, I just love these wheel like elements on the bottom of it. These would certainly allow me to land the plane on rougher surfaces without having the whole fuselage grind against the ground. And even if these start to grind away, there is plenty of material to go before it becomes a problem!








    The one thing I find the most tedious to do on a new plane, is to install proper hinges on the control surfaces. Luckily Volantex have put hinges on ALL control surfaces saving me a fair bit of time when putting the plane together.





    Continues in next post...

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    ...continued from previous post


    Anothing nice thing is that they have installed carbon rods in almost all control surfaces, except the flaps and the rudder. The horizontal stabilizer even has 2. These will strengthen the control surfaces and will prevent warping when in use. One thing that also caught my attention was that there was no control surface warping from the factory, which was not the case with the Raptor V2 wings.














    The rudder and flaps do not have carbon rods in them, but these control surfaces are quick thick and probably do not require any. When I start loading the plane up I will decide if they will need any reinforcing to cope with the added weight. What I do also appreciate is that the hinges have been glued in very well, so I don't have to fix anything.





    The flap servos are included in the set but are not installed, unlike all other servos. I guess they will be needed only when the plane gets really heavy, because at its current weight it just doesn't need them, being so light and all!





    Also, note how the CG location is indicated! I always like it when manufacturers do that, so I wouldn't have to get a ruler and marker and start drawing around the plane in order to mark the CG location... and in some cases, like with my X-UAV Clouds, getting it horribly wrong and nearly loosing the plane because of it! The CG markings here are spot on, so use them!





    Another thing that I like is the control horn mount areas. They have been designed so that each corner of the control horn is the same distance from the back plate that would hold it in place. This means that all screws will go vertical between the two pieces and there will be no difference in pressure during use in any of the sides, which will deinitely improve the reliability and longevity of the foam in this area! This is really nice! I also love the fact that the carbon tubes go right in the middle of where the control horns will be adding even more strength. I used to have to do that myself... and now they have saved me even more time!











    I also noticed that they have redesigned the tail assembly, and actually it is much easier to do it now, and in addition the assembly feels very solid on the plance once you screw it down, unlike the one on the Raptor. Whether this will last longer without issues remains to be seen, but for the time being I am rather happy with it.











    The fact that all servos, except the ones for the flaps, come pre-installed was also a great plus here, because they seem to be glued in rather well, so all the beginners out there should be good to go out of the box and following the push rod and control horn installation.














    In addition to the servos, in the PNP version you also get the motor and ESC also come pre-installed and wired, and in my case with the RTF set the receiver was also installed, and this only adds to the time you will save from the moment you open the box, to the moment you fly the plane. The motor is 2215 1400Kv, so I am pretty sure it tops out at 3S for that 8" prop. For those of you looking to run 4S or more, get the KIT version and put in your own motor.











    Continues in next post...

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    ...continued from previous post


    An interesting new design decision is the new motor mount. The motor is not angled up quite as much as it was on the Ranger and Raptor, and yet there is pretty much NO nose-down tendency when you throttle up! In addition, having a flat mounted motor would absolutely help improve efficiency compared to the previous models. True, a larger prop cannot be mounted to try and improve efficiency that way, but so far my tests have not indicated that to be a big problem. The plane has been pretty efficient.





    At the front of the fuselage there are the two openings on the sides for cooling, but in the middle there is a camera hole, that would allow you to put a pilot camera or the new Volantex 720p recording camera. I like the fact that unlike on the Ranger EX, here the hole is actually cut open, rather than having to do that yourself, as this plastic is not the easiest thing to cut through!





    On the inside there is a slot in the plywood plate for the Volantex camera, and it would take most pilot cameras, but sadly none of the other recording cameras would fit. I guess I will have to print a plate to make that work!





    Keeping the camera inside the fuselage would also allow you to keep the black canopy cover on the plane, improving drag and flight efficiency.








    Just in case you want to have a pilot camera AND a recording camera, under that black cover you will find the EPO canopy, which provides a convenient place to mount any additional gear. That rectangle hole in the middle seems a lot like a spot for a servo, for a pan/tilt mount. Also, the locking clip on the canopy actually works effortlessly, unlike the one on the Ranger EX!





    Under the canopy you will find a doubledecker style plywood plates for all your gear! I think these do have enough area to be able to accommodate a small autopilot system with all of its peripherals! The velcro straps are also pre-installed and I actually used them for my flights. They do work, and only makes things easier for beginners.





    As usual, you get the gear mount right behind the motor on the tail boom, and an opening in the fuselage for the wiring... or a cooling outlet... could be used for both. I think I will mount as much as I can on that plate there so I can put more weight in the back, which will allow me to put more video gear in the nose of the plane.





    Keeping in line with being beginner, and in general, user friendly, you also get a full set of control horns, servo horns, and push rods with clevises pre-installed... and the two additional servos for the flaps, as well as the Y-cable for them, and the prop. I would say use these servos for the flaps only if you are not planning on loading up the plane, and only in not so high wind situations.





    And check this out, the servo horns have been pre-drilled to the size of the push rods, so you can go ahead and insert them right away, rather than having to find a small enough drill bit and enlarge those holes. This was yet another of the super annoying things I had to do on a new model... and Volantex have actually done this for me as well! You have no idea how happy this makes me feel!





    With the RTF package that I got from Volantex, you will also receive a radio and a receiver, and a battery charger along with a 3S 2200mAh 25C battery, so you are literally ready to go flying right after you setup the control surfaces and put some AA batteries in the radio.

























    WHAT I DON'T LIKE




    Sadly, we can't do away with this section because there is always something to put in here! So let's start with the bigger problems I can see here.


    Even though my RTF set comes with everything that is needed to fly the plane, the included radio turned out to have very limited range, unless you place the antenna on the receiver in a very specific position and somehow prevent it from being warped in flight from a perfect vertical position. The antenna on the radio needs to be perfectly vertical as well. Not sure if that is a problem only with my unit, certainly hope it is not, but I guess as more people get these we will see what could the problem be.





    Originally the receiver antenna was buried somewhere inside the fuselage and first flight was a very weird experience, having to keep a plane as large as this one confined to a 60m radius because the receiver is loosing signal every other second!





    I had to somehow fix the antenna to stay perfectly vertical during the flight so it will not loose signal. It is not impossible... but it is weird to have to go to such lengths for distances of no more than 100 meters, although it is ALWAYS a good idea to have the antenna placed properly, no matter what.





    Continues in next post...

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    ...continued from previous post!


    Yet another problem with something in the RTF set is the quality of the battery included. After a little over 20 mins the low voltage alarm sounded and I landed the plane. Once of the cells was at 3.5v per cell, the rest were over 3.6v per cell! In addition, the charger put back 1.8Amps, which is far the 2.2Amps on the label, and also shows that because the cells were not matched very adequately, you can't really take advantage of the full capacity of this pack. Again... it might be a problem with mine... but I wouldn't bet on that.





    My next gripe is with the plastic servos. Volantex claim that they have added the second spar in the wings so they can make them stiffer for high wind situations and slope soaring... but why oh WHY did you then install plastic servos? I am willing to bet that these WILL NOT last long in stronger winds, and even though a crash will not be a problem for the fuselage... the EPO wings and tail may not take kindly to one.








    And so we get to the fuselage, as surprising as it is! Even though it is plastic and super tough, because of the way the wings mount now, you don't have access to the rear part, like you did on the Raptor.





    In addition, the fuselage as a whole is narrower than that of the Raptor, which I am sure improves flight efficiency by reducing drag, etc., BUT making it narrower, and eliminating one of the access points to it would make it more difficult to wire electronics through the fuselage and would limit the overall access to the inside of the fuselage. Of course you can always cut an opening at the back in the plastic, it is strong enough to take it without sacrificing structural integrity, but I would think we shouldn't be forced to do this. A well thought out opening with a hatch under the wings would have been perfect!







    THE BUILD


    OK, lets get to building now, but it will be quick, I promise!


    Starting from the tail, my first job was to install the control horns on the control surfaces. The new design control horn beds are really nice and allow equal pressure when tightening down the screws in every corner, which will absolutely improve the life span of the whole setup.











    Looking good!





    Next was the control horn on the elevator. Love the fact that the carbon rod goes under it! So much time saved from having to do it myself!








    Next step is to put the vertical and horizontal stabilizers together. This needs to happen BEFORE you mount the horizontal stabilizer to the fuselage. All necessary screws are provided with the set. Two of them go towards holding the two pieces together.





    As surprising as it may seem, this actually turned out to be a pretty solid joint!





    Don't over-tighten the screws to avoid damaging the plastic parts.





    The remaining 4 screws go towards mounting the tail to the fuselage.








    And finally it is time to install the servo horns and connect them to the control horns via the push rods. Use either a servo tester, or connect everything up to a receiver and plug a battery in the ESC to power the servos and use the radio to center them. Install the servo horns, tighten them down with a screw and push through the push rod. The clevis end of it should go to the control surface. If it is too short or too long you will need to turn the clevis a few times in the respective direction to adjust the length of the rod. The idea is to have a neutral control surface when the servo is centered. Oh, and don't forget to put the little rubber rings on the clevises to prevent them from opening in flight.








    And so the tail is complete, and we can move on to the wings.





    Procedure is pretty much the same as on the tail. First you mount the control horns.





    Continues in next post...

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    ...continued from previous post!


    And then install the servo horns and push rods. And don't forget to center the servos while doing this.





    One thing to note here is that the aileron push rods were just a tad too long and were rubbing in the control horn, so I had to cut a little off of the threaded end to make them fit perfectly.





    Now that the wings were also done, all that was left was to install the prop on the motor. There were some vibrations when I mounted this initially, but I rotated the prop around the motor a little and found a spot that seemed to lessen the vibrations a lot.





    The prop goes quite close to the fuselage and doesn't leave room for a larger one. This plane is certainly going to be a little noisier than the Clouds, EVE-2000 and Nimbus are with their twin tractor configurations.





    Mounting the wings is easy. You just slide them on to the smaller spars on the fuselage and push until you hear the "click" sound, indicating the the locks have engaged. Don't forget to connect the aileron servo extensions though. The fit on all parts is really nice and snug!











    And a warning! The Ranger 2000 will absolutely NOT balance with the recommended 3S 2200mAh pack... even if you push it all the way into the nose... unless it is a NiMh pack. I had to add another 40-50 grams near the battery to make it balance on the wing markings.





    So... that was quick, right? The plane is now officially fully assembled and ready for the maiden.






















    THE VERDICT


    The Ranger 2000 definitely has some problems... BUT surprisingly enough, unlike the Raptor and the Ranger EX, those problems are actually not with the design of the plane, or the plane itself, but rather mostly with the electronics that have been added to it! The only downside I see with the plane itself is the narrower opening at the front of the fuselage, and the lack of a rearward one to improve access for wiring, but that can be easily overcome! The plane itself is very good now and very close to being perfect! The fact that it comes equipped with not the highest quality of electronics is why I would suggest most of you buy the KIT version, and get quality electronics separately.


    If you are a total beginner and need a plane to learn on, this one is definitely suitable, because the new wing profile is absolutely tip stall resistant, as far as my testing was able to determine! In this case the PNP or RTF versions would make sense, but at some point you would want to upgrade the electronics before you start doing FPV and going longer distances.


    In the air, putting aside the range issues I had with the radio, the plane performed well above and beyond my expectations! Take off is super easy as there is NO nose-down tendency at higher throttle, and so flaps are also not necessary, at least at its current weight. The model is also super agile and able to handle the tightest of turns without stalling even a little. What actually surprised me was that apart from a little up trim on the elevator, no other trims were needed for it to fly straight and true, which is always good to see on a new plane! Means it was designed well, and the Ranger 2000 really shows it!
    As is my custom I did test the tip stall performance... and there is none! I tried pulling full elevator, but it was just going up and down, up and down, with no desire to go into a tip stall. I even tried helping it out a bit with the rudder, but that didn't help either! All I can say is that Volantex have done a great job with this new wing, and it doesn't exhibit any of the negative tendencies that the Raptor V2 wing had.


    In addition this plane glides like a beast and I found it very difficult to land it where I wanted to because it would always stay in the air for at least another 50 meters. It is just super floaty! I hope this will not change much when I start adding gear on it for the FPV endeavors.


    I also think that all these efficiency optimizations that Volantex have done - narrower fuselage, lower motor angle and a new motor mount, new wing profile - are really paying off when you look at the flight time, despite the smaller prop size. A few flights in I put a 3S 5200mAh pack in the plane, and it flew for 58 mins drawing around 4400mAh out of the battery. This is pretty impressive for a 3S stock setup. I will try to find something more efficient in the 3S range, but honestly I am worried I may not be able to! This is a very good achievement.


    So, in conclusion I can say that the Ranger 2000 is a HUGE improvement over the previous Raptor V2 model in almost every aspect, and especially in the important ones - tip stalls, and nose-down tendencies at higher throttle. A big "WELL DONE" goes to Volantex for actually listening to our complaints and addressing them in this new model. In addition having proper hinges and carbon rods everywhere saves a lot of time and grief when putting this together, especially for beginners! Flight characteristics are very impressive and I see some great potential for this one, despite its narrower fuselage and limited access to its rear section. For those of you with more experience I do recommend you get the KIT and put in some nice electronics, and for the beginners I say get the PNP version, learn to fly and land, and only them invest in better electronics.


    At $100 for the KIT version including shipping, I am willing to bet that you will NOT find a better deal on a plane that flies as good as this one, has as much thought put into designing it, or is as durable as it, because that plastic fuselage is a beast and will take more beating and abuse than ANY other EPO/EPP model out there! To put things into perspective... the X-UAV Clouds is almost twice as expensive, and comes 0% assembled. The Skywalker EVE-2000 is almost 2.5 times as expensive, and again comes 0% assembled. And both of these are EPO and a lot more tedious to put together than the Ranger 2000 is, and take up more space! True, both have more internal space and can carry more weight, BUT most people would never need to haul that much around, and these two are no good for beginners!


    So there you have it, the Ranger 2000 is a beauty of a plane with performance to match. Is it worth it... for $100 shipped for the KIT version this thing is an absolute STEAL! But... you know, this is my opinion, you have the fact so you can make up your own minds about it. Stay tuned for the future updates on this model!

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    OK, time for a first update! I did mention that I was planning on mounting another 3S motor in an attempt to see if I can get a bit more efficiency on that voltage, and the motor of choice is an SK3 3530 1460Kv one, which I had run a long time ago on one of my Raptors, and I did get 90 mins of flight on 10000mAh 3S pack and a 10x7SF prop, so it was interesting to see what will happen here with a smaller battery and a smaller prop.


    Since I did not want to use the stock 8x4 prop, the only 8 inch prop I could find in my stash was an APC 8x8E prop, so I thought I'd run with it.





    You may also notice that the SK3 motor has a stand off mounted to it. I used that one on the Raptor, because there the motor was inside the tower, and since it is a short model I had to figure out a way to raise it enough to be able to mount the prop on. I decided to keep the stand off, because that will put the motor a bit firther back, and since it is a tad heavier than the stock, this will allow me to put more weight in the nose when I install the FPV gear, without worrying about the CG too much.


    Also, I replaced the stock ESC, which is actually the one thing I absolutely DID NOT trust on this plane, with the 30A Plush ESC I had on the Raptor back then. I have disconnected the ESC's BEC and soldered an additional cable for an external one to power the receiver and servos, since I am not going to put an AP on this one yet, until I've done all the tests that I need.





    I also figured out how the motor mount is angled! There is no up or down angle, but there is a right angle to the mount, when looking at the motor from the front and the top.





    Looks good mounted back on the plane, but since now the stand off covers all of the openings on the motor mount, I had to route the wires through the opening in the fuselage under the motor. Actually what up angle the motor has is from the motor tower itself, not the motor mount.





    One other thing that I changed were the mounting plates inside the plane. I removed the plywood ones and designed some 3D printed plates. The wing locks fit nice and are right in place once mounted back in the plane, so I am happy!











    Alignment is pretty accurate and the wings lock in place very tightly, as before.








    I thought long about whether to mount the battery plate, but decided to use it for the time being, until I figure something else out. At least now I have enough room in the nose of the plane to mount any camera that I want. I may print an extension of the plate at some point to help secure a camera... but some velcro should be able to take care of that.







    And last, I installed an FrSky receiver, and guess what... range problems were a thing of the past in an instant!





    So, after everything was connected up and running again, I went to the flying field to see to see if this setup will be more or less efficient than the stock one. Battery used was the same 3S 5200mAh pack as in the last flight... and guess what... the flight was around 60 mins, so more or less the same as with the stock motor and prop, so it would seem they should be good for a while if you don't feel like changing them.

    Next step would be to try another prop, and possibly another 3S motor, before I make a decision whether to go up to 4S or not!

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