The “Un-Spec” Racer
This article was originally published in June/July 2016 issue.
Photos By Edwin Rodriguez
Photos: Walter Sidas
Sky Hero has long been known as an excellent source for larger (500-700mm) machines with the Spyder line. However, focus has shifted of late, toward the fast paced world of FPV racing. While the unique design of the original Anakin set the model apart from the crowd, the Club Racer takes that innovation to the next level. Dubbed as a “Competition Spec” racer, this new machine is served up in two varieties, in two different packages.
MANUFACTURER: Sky Hero
DISTRIBUTOR: Sky Hero
TYPE: FPV Racing Quad
FOR: Intermediate to advanced pilots
PRICE: $439.90 (ARF 215mm)
SPECS: (The 215mm ARF)
WEIGHT: 13.46 oz (382g) dry DIAMETER: 215mm
MOTORS: (4) Xnova 2204-2300Kv
ESCS: (4) LittleBee 20 amp PROPELLERS: (2) CW 5×4.5 HQ, (2) CCW 5×4.5 HQ
FLIGHT CONTROLLER: CC3D FLIGHT TIME: 3-5 minutes
RADIO: Sky Hero Link-9 radio
RECEIVER: Sky Hero R9D
BATTERY: Sky Hero 1300mAh 3S LiPo
VTX: Sky Hero 5.8GHz 40-channel 25-200mW
• ARF models feature top of the line electronics including Xnova motors, a Sony 600TVL camera, CC3D flight controller with alloy case and LittleBee 20 amp ESC’s.
• Carbon fiber and 7075 aircraft grade alloy construction combine to not only give the Club Racer an imminently more durable airframe, but it also looks fantastic.
• The 2mm plate up front locks the Sony 600TVL camera into one of three slots on the lower plate, setting the angle at 30, 37.5 or 45 degrees of tilt, depending on your preferences.
• The manual for the Club Racer is a standard to which all other instructions should be held. First time users of programmable flight controllers fear not, Sky Hero lays it all out for you in step-by-step procedures.
• The alloy-cased CC3D flight controller offers three distinct flight modes; Stability, Attitude and Sport (Rate), so the ARF Club Racer is perfect for those just getting into FPV racing as it can be docile or straight up obscene with the performance.
• Beefy 4mm carbon fiber arms
• Excellent power, even on 3S
• 215 or 260mm versions available
• Web-based PDF manual is excellent
• Killer looks on the bench or in the air
• Main frame plates are a bit thin
Following up after the wildly popular original Anakin FPV racer, Sky Hero has its sights set on perfection with their latest release, the Anakin Club Racer. While the first offering was served up as an ARF only, the new Club Racer allows buyers to custom build their machine with components already in their possession by way of the “Naked Frame” options for the Club Racer or top of the line electronics in the ARF packages. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting into the FPV game, the Club Racer is your express ticket to the podium in FPV racing.
IN THE AIR
With clear skies and temps in the 60s (which in late February is unheard of here in Connecticut), we headed out to our local club field with a few gates and batteries in tow. Itching to finally get some stick time with this little marvel, the obligatory photo shoot was almost painful. Of course, we like to film all of our review subjects in their “natural habitat”, but since the Club Racer is capable of extreme speeds, we had to slow it down so that staff photog, Edwin Rodriguez, could get some decent shots. Once he got what he needed, we popped a fresh pack in and headed out to the gates.
Arming the Club Racer is a bit different than most other machines. Rather than pulling both sticks down and out, you simply crank the elevator to full forward with the throttle at zero. Once the props spool up, you’re good to go. With everything looking good, we strapped our Fat Shark Dominator V3 goggles on and popped the Club Racer into a level hover only a few feet off the ground. The first couple laps around the field in “Stable” mode posed no problems with hitting each gate dead center, but the view was a bit tough as we had the camera set at 45 degrees. Switching up to “Attitude” mode, the Club Racer got noticeably more zippy. We were now able to carve some hard lines from gate to gate, but still had the self-leveling if needed. We burned a couple of packs in this mode until flying the layout we dropped on the field was second nature.
With a freshly charged pack in the belly of the Club Racer, it was time to check out the little speed demon in “Sport” mode. Within the first lap, it was readily apparent that a bit of expo or tuning on the gains might be needed on the cyclic controls. Ever the stubborn pilots, we continued on though. We were now able to take full advantage of the steep camera tilt as the Club Racer assumes an almost vertical stance when pushed to the max. Having run more than a few laps in the other modes, it was a great help knowing where each gate should be, without having to visually confirm it. In Sport mode, the Club Racer can keep up with the best of them. A few other pilots joined in on our fun and we were easily able to match the pace of some 4S powered rigs. There’s something to be said for the power output of the Xnova 2300Kv motors and the ultra-thick bullnose Q-props.
One of our main concerns upon initial inspection of the Club Racer were the 1mm thick frame plates and the location of the VTX. You don’t often find frame plates so thin, but remember, you’re usually going to break arms in a crash … and you’ll have to hit something mighty hard to break the Club Racer’s arms. Besides, the thinner frame plates translate to a dry weight of only 382 grams! That’s pretty light compared to most other 200-250 class machines. Throughout all of our test packs, we experienced more than a few crashes, whether it was with other machines or the gates themselves. Not only did we not break anything, but the only damage was a few bent props! Not too shabby at all. Additionally, we hit the top loop of the gates a few times, which was exactly what we were hoping not to do in order to spare the VTX from any damage. Just like the rest of the frame, the VTX antenna would flip downward on its hinge with each impact, sparing it from damage. The new Club Racer is available in either 215 or 260mm varieties and each can be purchased as ARF or Naked Frames. While the Naked option allows the end user to add their own electronics, the ARF models feature industry leading accessories such as Xnova motors and a Sony camera …
to name a few. The A-frame design is a change of pace from the normal X or H style racing frames and the beefy 4mm arms are sure to stand up to a heavy amount of abuse. Not only that, but Sky Hero also stocks a full complement of components to finish off your Club Racer, to get you into the fast lane in a hurry.
The idea behind the Club Racer is an ambitious one. Sky Hero wanted a Spec Class machine that would level the playing field, leaving the pilots’ skill as the only variable to determine who is the fastest. While the word “spec” usually means slower lap times with less power in other forms of RC racing (cars, trucks), this Spec racer in ARF form is perched on the other end of the performance spectrum.
Between the Xnova motors and the LittleBee ESC’s, the Club Racer can stack up against the most powerful modified machines in the hands of the right pilot. Toss in the signature, low-slung canopy and killer good looks alla oodles of carbon fiber and you’ve got yourself a machine that not only talks the talk, it can also walk the walk.
With the ARF models of the Club Racer, there really isn’t much to assemble. In fact, if you’re well familiar with the CC3D flight controller, you might not even need the manual. If not, Sky Hero offers up an excellent set of instructions in the form
of a PDF on the web site. This full color manual guides you step by step through the calibration and programming procedures, so even first timers should have no issues. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is important to note that all tuning and programming via the number of supported GUI’s should be done without the props on. Once you’ve got your radio and CC3D all tuned up, it’s as simple as adding your own VTX. Luckily, Sky Hero clearly labels the pin-outs on the Sony cam so getting it to jive with your VTX is a no brainer. For this review, Sky Hero was kind enough to hook us up with their Link-9 radio, VTX and 3S 1300mAh flight pack, in addition to their super cool, programmable LED strips.
If you already have all your own components and are interested in the Naked Frame option for either size machine, Sky Hero has you covered with full build instructions as well. Building your own racer from scratch allows you to customize the model. Be wary though, as the camera mount is specific to the case of the Sony cam, so you might have to get creative with the mounting if you use any other camera. Another area where you should use caution is with the wiring. Given the nature of carbon fiber plates, any wires that pass over the edges could potentially get worn and fray. Take the extra time to either file the edges where wires pass over or cover them with something to prevent a failure in flight.
THE FINAL WORD
I really can’t find a single knock against the new Club Racer from Sky Hero. Throughout all of our testing, the machine performed be er than expected and let us yearning for more batteries. The performance is stellar and given its light weight, the durability needed by hardcore FPV pilots is there in spades. Whether you’re looking to grab your first race rig or add a potent new member to your hangar family, you really can’t go wrong with the Club Racer. Heck, there were pro pilots such as Brian “Brain Drain” Morris that have been working with Sky Hero on the Club Racer since day one of development. If a fast guy like that is flying this rig, that alone is enough to sell it! =