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WLtoys F-959 Sky-King from Gearbest

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Mentor
#1
Disclaimer - Gearbest gave me this plane to review for them. I made no promises for a positive review, and specifically told them that I wouldn't post anything until I had a chance to actually fly it. Better late than never, I finally got it in the air today, so here's my review.

The short version of the review: for $50 and a little tinkering it's a really decent deal to get somebody new to flying into the hobby. I say "a little tinkering" because even though this is a "ready to fly" plane it really ISN'T RTF for everybody. I'll explain below.

This is the basic package, a high-wing pusher, similar in design to the Cloud Surfer or Bixler, but smaller. It includes a 3 channel transmitter with trim, high/low rates, and LCD display. Transmitter feel is about what you'd expect for a kit at this price. Nothing fancy, but it works.

Before I forget, CLICK HERE for the link to the Gearbest page for this plane. You'll notice some differences between what they show and what I got. more on that below as well... By the way, clicking that link lets them know people are reading this review, which helps me fulfill my obligation to them.

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I got home from work and found a very well-wrapped and undamaged box waiting for me. I figured Hobby King finally learned how to ship packages, but didn't remember using DHL shipping from them recently. Turns out it wasn't a HK package after all! :)

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Inside was the Sky-King with absolutely no damage at all to the box or contents. I'll give them an A+ for packaging - hopefully they do that for ALL packages being sent, and not just ones being sent for review.

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I'm not sure why this plane is recommended for 14+. Also, the "Everything you need to fly in one box" is not quite accurate. You do need to supply the AA batteries for the transmitter, and if your country doesn't use 220VAC outlets you're also going to have issues.

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Inside the box, again everything in perfect condition. Hobby King should take notes.

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The instructions were more comprehensive than many larger/more expensive kits I've purchased. Half English, half Chinese. English translations were about average, but there were plenty of pictures. I looked for the CoG location and threw the instructions back in the box.

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Again, the transmitter was decent for the price of this kit. I haven't been able to test the range yet since my flight time has been on days that were really too windy for this plane and I didn't want to lose it. But for the smallish size of the plane you really won't want to fly too far away so range probably won't be an issue.

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The components are all laid out. note that it comes with a standard removable canopy and also a much smaller piece that is designed to give you an easy spot to mount a small camera. I haven't tried that, and probably won't. The wings also have aileron markings, so it may be somewhat easy to turn this into a 4 channel plane by using a couple 5 gram servos. As a 3 channel setup it uses throttle/elevator/rudder, and the rudder is set up on what for North America is usually the aileron channel (right stick). Left stick only controls the throttle, and for me this works fine with no learning curve.

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Here's where we run into problems. Two of 'em, in fact. First, the power adapter is designed for 220VAC and will not work with the 110VAC power in North America. I could purchase a plug adapter for a few dollars, or I could re-wire the adapter with a plug we use, but I shouldn't have to do that! It's supposed to be RTF and it isn't. I went back and forth with "Amy" at Gearbest a few times, and it sounds like they do not understand/know/care about this issue. If the power adapter had an output of 12VDC it wouldn't be a big deal for me to just use my own power supply to charge the battery, but it's output is 10VDC. While 12VDC going into the little balance charger may work, I certainly don't want to risk a fire by using the wrong voltage. Also note that the 300mAh 2 cell pack uses a regular balance plug, but the main lead plug is not a common plug like the mini JST. This means I can't simply charge the pack on my other chargers. Instead of screwing around trying to make their charger work, I carefully replaced their plug with a mini JST and threw their charger away.

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The bottom of the fuselage includes a skid to protect it - a nice feature if you're going to be landing on a hard surface.

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Control surface throws were OK, but I moved the pushrods to the inner holes to give me longer throws. Low rates are now probably decent for calmer days while high rates were needed to keep control in the heavier winds I had today.

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Here is the "fixed" battery problem. These 300mAh packs just barely fit deep into the nose of the plane. I may be able to get a similar sized battery from HK or other sources with the mini JST ends already installed. Gearbest also sells stock replacements on their website for a decent price.

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I also had to tweak the elevator pushrod a bit since there was too much slop. The fix was ultra fast and cheap. All I did was take a small zip tie and cut it to about 3/4" long. The long end was thrown away and I cut the slot open so it could fit over the pushrod. This was then pushed into the side of the fuselage with a tiny drop of glue. Now the pushrod is much more secure in both directions and doesn't deflect. In theory this should give me better control.

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Back from the maiden flight next to my 1/4 scale Cub. I'm tempted to get a couple Sky-Kings and mount them under the Cub's wings to be dropped in flight! :cool:

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As mentioned, I gave it the maiden flight today. Winds were around 10 MPH, too fast for this little plane, but it was sunny and above freezing, and I've put off flying it long enough. In the hands of a novice it would have hit the ground quickly as it is a little tail heavy and the UP elevator control is a little touchy. When winds are more friendly I'll put a penny in the nose with the battery to see if that helps the balance issue. The rudder does a decent job turning the plane, even with the strong winds. On a calm day low rates should work, but I kept them on high just to make sure I was able to turn. When winds are calm I'm going to have my son, my dad, and a friend of mine try it out. My dad is already hooked on RC planes and should have no problem. We'll see how the other two handle it!

Here are my final thoughts on this kit. For the price it's decent. However, Gearbest needs to get their act together and either include a power adapter for the charger or at least note on their website that one is needed. The pushrod fix was cheap and easy, but somebody new to the hobby wouldn't necessarily be able to identify the problem or how to fix it. But to me, the biggest problem is the Gearbest website and what I consider deceptive advertising. Go back to THIS LINK again and notice the pictures they show indicate the plane has lights. It doesn't come with them, and when I brought that up with "Amy" she suggested I buy that version for myself as it would be fun. Well, no, that's not happening, maybe they should just fix their description. Also notice they don't give any easy links to get additional batteries or the power adapter they sell. This is just plain dumb, in my opinion. Make it EASY for people to buy the upgrades and you'll sell more of them! They must have missed that day in Marketing 101.

With my rants and annoyances out of the way, I'll again say that this plane would be good for somebody who has a mentor in the hobby, but NOT for somebody with no safety net. I'd have no problems handing this over to my son to fly, or friends who want to try flying. For the price I wouldn't care if it were to get damaged during the learning process, and the electronics could easily be salvaged for other future projects.
 

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Mentor
#3
Thanks. It would be so easy and cheap for them to fix, I can't believe they don't just do it. Look how far HK has come in the past few years. They are far from perfect, but at least they understand what the buyers want (most of the time).
 

kacknor

Build another!
#4
Good review. It mirrors some of the others I've read. For the money and a bit of solder, it seems a decent deal.

Browsing their website is all kinds of interesting. inexpensive planes and the absolute knowing that no english speaking individual walks through their doors!

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Along with such tidbits as 'Design beautiful generous' and 'Easy to take off, land thoughtful' make the site fun and interesting. ;)

Seriously. If they used a DSM2 radio I'd be all over it. Does anyone know what radio system it is? Will it bind to a full sized commercially available TX? I'm thinking fly'em til they break, and use the electronics for building indoor stuff.

JD
 

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Mentor
#5
True, I find it amazing that companies like this don't simply hire a native English speaker to police their websites. Sure, it'll add $.25 to the cost of a plane, but they'll make that up easily in extra sales. It's all about low price with companies like this...

I've read that people have used one of the less common protocols to bind with this plane, but I don't recall which protocol it was. They were flying using one of the Turnigy radios, either the 9X or one of the variants with a module plugged into the back. Maybe it was the FlySky protocol...? Either way, they claimed it really helped flight characteristics since they were able to take advantage of the radio's expo.
 

makattack

Winter is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#6
Nice review! I have a box full of cheap balance chargers from the various BNF / TxR micro planes I'm sort of addicted to. Can't expect a potential beginner/intermediate hobbyist to have a better balance charger though, with all the different battery leads. BTW, that battery connection is familiar to me due to the addiction to those micro planes. That's a hobbico ultra micro 1S connector. I don't know what it's called, but all their micros with single cell lipos come with that connector on the ESC/batteries. It's fairly equivalent to the horizon hobby UMX micro connector. I actually have a JST to that connector adapter I made up for charging those batteries.
 

makattack

Winter is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#7
Seriously. If they used a DSM2 radio I'd be all over it. Does anyone know what radio system it is? Will it bind to a full sized commercially available TX? I'm thinking fly'em til they break, and use the electronics for building indoor stuff.

JD
I'm not 100% sure, but if it's a wltoys plane, I believe it's the same protocol flysky / turnigy uses.... that at least according to the DeviationTX implementation of the flysky protocol for the Walkera Devo TX's that can support multiple protocols with that software. Unfortunately, even for the Devos, an additional DIY mod must be made to support flysky protocol.
 

Balu

Lurker
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
#9
Looks like you got "good weather" before I did :).

http://forum.flitetest.com/showthread.php?24555-WLtoys-F959-Sky-King&p=258398#post258398

I'm an absolute fixed wing beginners, so it's going to be interesting if I can handle the plane. That's why I'm waiting for the weather to be a lot more calm than it is today - we actually had some storm warnings for the next few days...

I have the benefit of living in Germany, so the power adapter works fine here ;).

As far as I've read the WLToys all have FlySky protocol receivers.

I already wrote Amy that I can't handle the English and the product description with wrong images, etc. on their page. It's something that makes me think twice about buying there. They try to get around the language barrier by having the pages translated automatically with Google translate in addition to the already bad english. You have no idea what sentences I get to read when I switch it to German...
 

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Mentor
#10
Balu, my "good weather" is really "good enough" weather! It was really too windy to take most of my planes out, but it was warmer (about 35 degrees F) and sunny so I gave it a go. Even though this type of plane isn't of much interest to me anymore I'll try it on calm days. Maybe it will surprise me and be fun!
 

jamboree1

Active member
#11
Balu, I imagine translation from chinese, to english to german goes something like this. Step 1, glue finger to plane, Step 2 crash plane into sky at 90 degree angle. Step 3 land plane by pointing nose into the ground. Step 4, buy new plane from us.
 

kacknor

Build another!
#12
Looks like you got "good weather" before I did :).

http://forum.flitetest.com/showthread.php?24555-WLtoys-F959-Sky-King&p=258398#post258398

I'm an absolute fixed wing beginners, so it's going to be interesting if I can handle the plane. That's why I'm waiting for the weather to be a lot more calm than it is today - we actually had some storm warnings for the next few days...

I have the benefit of living in Germany, so the power adapter works fine here ;).

As far as I've read the WLToys all have FlySky protocol receivers.

I already wrote Amy that I can't handle the English and the product description with wrong images, etc. on their page. It's something that makes me think twice about buying there. They try to get around the language barrier by having the pages translated automatically with Google translate in addition to the already bad english. You have no idea what sentences I get to read when I switch it to German...
Balu, I lived in Germany for nearly 9 years in the 1970's and 80's, I can't imagine waiting for 'good weather' to fly. I do believe I'd take up racing dirt track electric cars instead!! Oh wait. I DID. ;)

One might think that if a company is told they aren't getting the language correct it would be a priority to at least get the images correct. A lot can be understood from comic book instruction guides and good web images.

JD
 

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Mentor
#13
That's the biggest thing I just don't understand. A good translator isn't expensive in the long run, but it's very costly to NOT have one!

Somebody told me that as part of the review process that they'd re-write the webpage so it actually made sense, but they never implemented the recommended changes. I really don't know if they just don't get it, or just don't care.
 

JohnRambozo

Posted a thousand or more times
#14
)

Seriously. If they used a DSM2 radio I'd be all over it. Does anyone know what radio system it is? Will it bind to a full sized commercially available TX? I'm thinking fly'em til they break, and use the electronics for building indoor stuff.
Hey kacknor. I just saw this and thought I'd mention, if you don't need a gyro, you can always replace the receiver with one of these dsm2 micro light receivers from lemon rx. Not bad for under $7. I haven't tested it, but the ports look the same as this and the XK-A600 I got.

http://www.lemon-rx.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&path=59&product_id=104
 

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Mentor
#15
A quick follow-up to my review of the Sky-King... Last week I headed to the field on a decent day to maiden my 1/4 scale Cub and took the Sky-King along. I threw it into the air between Cub flights, and it was the first time I've had good enough weather to really see what it can do.

Honestly, I'm pretty surprised with it! It handles well and the rudder has plenty of authority to get it to turn in both high and low rates. It had enough power to cruise along nicely and do the occasional loop. It does not have a lot of mass, so wind gusts can be a challenge, but are still manageable.

Considering how cheap 2s 300mAh batteries are I might have to pick up a couple extra for this plane. It would be good to hand somebody that wants to try flying. Since it's light and the wings are removable, it won't get much damage in a crash. Plus, since I didn't pay for it and have plenty of other planes to fly, I don't care if it gets destroyed in a crash! :)
 

JohnRambozo

Posted a thousand or more times
#16
That's good to hear it flew nicely. If its touch in the wind, it would probably make a nice indoor plane. Having something for a beginner to fly on hand is a great idea. I may use my XK A600 for the same purpose. Now that its getting nice again, I'm sure I'll have plenty spectators at the park and I'd love to be able to hand a plane to someone without worrying about what will happen to it.
 

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Mentor
#17
An update to my review, I received an e-mail from Amy letting me know that they now include the proper power supply for the North American market with this plane. I checked the website and there is a drop-down box where you choose either the US or EU plug.

I'm glad they made the change, as I still contend this plane can be a good and inexpensive way to get people into the hobby, and now that they can charge their batteries it's even better! :)
 

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Mentor
#18
FINALLY I got some video for the Sky King. It's far from my favorite thing to do, but there are some simple modifications that really make the Sky King a much better flying plane. Since there are plenty of flight videos out there I went the other route to show the modifications. These mods cost me under $.25 total and include a small zip tie, a mini JST plug, and a penny.

CLICK HERE to take you to the GearBest page - the Sky King is priced RTF at under $50, a pretty good deal for the plane.

 
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Epitaph

Ebil Filleh Pega-Bat ^.^
Mentor
#19
Hi Joker!!

I have this same model, and one thing I will point out is the charger works with both 110V and 220V no problem. The only thing is that it doesn't have your type of plug, and it's unusual that it didn't come with an adapter, because I received a EU-US adapter to use on mine.

The plane uses the traditional Flysky protocol so it will work with the Turnigy 9x no problem, and if you have a Devo, you can upgrade it at no extra charge, as the module that is inside this plane's transmitter can be removed and installed in the Devo to give A7105 compatibility.

The part you say about adding ailerons might be a little harder than you think... there are 2 "generations" of this model. The first version came out with a board inside with 2 extra plugs on it... one for the camera and the other for the ailerons, by as you said just adding servos. The second version unfortunately they removed the aileron plug, basically to make the receiver board cheaper to produce. In order to make it aileron capable if you have the second version of receiver board, you would either have to find a first generation board and change it, or you would have to change out all the electronics for hobby grade.

That tail heavy issue you mention I had too, but I solved it using a slightly bigger battery in the front. Hobbyking make a 2S 350mAh battery under the Zippy brand which works fantastic for this plane, and fits in even tighter so ti doesn't move at all... or you can just shave a tiny bit off the sides of the spacers inside that grip the battery, and it's a perfect fit.

I too changed the connectors on mine, as I wanted to use it with my balance charger so I could control the amperage, so I ended up swapping out the Molex connectors for XT30 which I really like.

Another thing, take a look at the rudder pushrod where it enters the fuselage on the back of the plane, as I had a little issue where the bend didn't line up too well with the slot... basically it was like it was too far forward, and I solved it by cutting the slot a little longer for the full range of movement to be achieved before reaching this obstacle.

And great article!!
 
#20
Hi,
I have an issue with my f959...
After a crash, throttle only runs at full speed... i cannot reduce it (or only veeery little).
Do you have any idea, what the reason might be for this behavior? The other channels are still working...