|El Nino Specifications|
|Wing span||3.93 m||155 in|
|Wing area||72.0 dm2||1116 sq in|
|Length inc spinner||163 cm||64.2 in|
|Flying weight from||1050 g||37.0 oz|
|Wing loading||14.6 g/dm||4.8 oz/sq ft|
|Spinner Diameter||28 mm|
|Centre of Gravity||100 - 105 mm from wing leading edge|
|Controls||Rudder, elevator, ailerons, flap, throttle|
|El Nino Typical Weights|
|Fuselage inc pushrods||114 g||4.0 oz|
|Wing centre panel||270 g||9.5 oz|
|Wing tips||290 g||10.2 oz|
|Tailplane||24 g||0.8 oz|
|Fin||17 g||0.6 oz|
|Accessories||65 g||2.3 oz|
|Total structure||780 g||27.5 oz|
|Wiring||10 g||0.4 oz|
|Receiver||7 g||0.2 oz|
|Rudder servo||9 g||0.3 oz|
|Elevator servo||9 g||0.3 oz|
|Wing servos (4)||38 g||1.3 oz|
|Speed control||30 g||1.1 oz|
|Motor||77 g||2.7 oz|
|Prop & spinner||20 g||0.7 oz|
|Battery||70 g||2.5 oz|
|Flying weight||1050 g||37.0 oz|
|El Niño Recommended Servos|
|Elevator & rudder||KST X08, Blue Bird BMS-A10H, MKS DS6100, MKS DS75K, MKS HV75K, MKS HV6100, Blue Bird BMS-106HV|
|Aileron||KST X08H, Blue Bird BMS-A10V, MKS DS75K, MKS HV75K, Graupner DES428MG|
|Flap||MKS DS6100, MKS HV6100, MKS HV6110, Blue Bird BMS-105HV|
|El Nino F5J Powertrain Recommendations|
|Powerline Micro 1010||3S 500mAh LiPo, 12x8 prop|
|Powerline Micro 1015||3S 500mAh LiPo, 15x8 prop|
|Leomotion L3007-5000R||3S 900mAh LiPo, 13x6 prop|
|Tenschock Viper 4450 5:1||3S 800mAh LiPo, 14x7 GM prop, 40A ESC|
Review by: CJSEl Nino build
I have been building El Nino since spring, she was bought as a long term winter project for 2018/19, so its been a very slow and thought out process. A ‘total’ crash of my Kappa 40 in August got things moving a bit but its still been a long haul.
Why the El Nino, I have a reputation at my club for taking an ‘off the wall’ approach to my model choices and modifications thereof. El Nino is to me a breath of fresh air, ticking all my boxes, as I dug deep in to what made it tick. The designer thought much the way I do, the fuselage is radical, a short tadpole shaped front end making it a bit tight to fit the radio normally. The pictures show a spreader bar dividing the cockpit in two, that has been removed on my kit, making it a little more accusable. This spreader bar was totally unnecessary, I have yet to find a fuselage so rigid front to back, and yet there is the feeling of ‘give’ rather than brittle, I am very surprised at the toughness of the lay-up, and yet it weighs nothing.
The wing is supported on a faired, short, small pylon aerofoil shaped, 14.75mm at its widest point . . . a bit small I thought but fitting test have shown no problems. Other than there is not much room for the wiring harness.
Three millimetre carbon tube pushrods are fitted with 0.9mm very long tails, I equate this to 19-20 SWG!!!! I mean long 6-9” long, an ‘L’ bend is formed so the tails are not intended to be shortened? Un-supported, I find these to whippy, so remove them to see what can be done. First horror, one tube was crushed the other had a glued and sanded scarf joint in the middle of it! An email to Neil soon had a pair of new push rods on their way.
The horizontal tail also sits on a very small pylon, again fitting showed no problems, finally the removable fin, nicely moulded and faired into the tail spigot, one of the nicest, uncomplicated fixings I have seen.
The wing is equally nicely moulded, and as the fuzz, the od blemish or two, over all I was happy. The wing is very thin sectioned requiring the thinnest servos available for the ailerons. The kit comes with rods, horns and servo covers, all very adequate. I decide to use IDS cradles and invisible sub surface horns . . . perhaps not such a good idea? The control surfaces are so thin, I made a bit of an ‘up-cock’ on the flaps, finally got it right, but a little repair and spraying is required! Learned my lesson, the ailerons are perfect, actually fabricating my own IDS from bits salvaged out of the Kappa 40.
Going back to spring when I purchased the El Nino, Neil did warn me the kit was perhaps not up to the amazing standards of the top manufacturers, one would agree, however I am happy enough as previously sated it ticked my unconventional boxes. I new I was going to modify, I was aware of its quart in a pint pot installations, taking it as a challenge.
The mods I have made are IDS servos. Eventually ditching the carbon tube push rods and installing PTFE etched tubes, running inside the fuselage, converging and exiting the back of the wing pylon, running down the top of the boom glued as a pair. Splitting at the front of the tail pylon, elevator passing through the pylon, rudder along the side of the elevator pylon. The push rods will be 1.3mm carbon rod fully supported to within 1" to 2” of the actuators each end.
It took a lot of work to get the rods and their PTFE outers nominally ‘straight’ keeping friction to a minimum but it was worth the effort and the bonus is the PTFE/1.3mm rods weight less than the original 3mm tubes and their long wire tails.
A final radical modification, the radio, power train space is very limited, especially if you were to opt for a motor/gear box, combination. I went for a very unconventional solution, the 2836 direct drive motor, back mounted out in the wind. Looks a bit ugly bolted straight to the fire wall. I have been working on this idea for a while with good results. So remove the fire wall, install a new one pre drilled to the motor mounting holes, the fact that the nose is so short means that alan bolts can be use and accessed from the cockpit with a long alan key, the arrangement also frees up at least two thirds of the front cockpit area. This arrangement also allows the CG better adjustment space
Fitting a new fire wall around 12mm down the nose enables the motor to be rear mounted and faired into the fuselage nose. Obviously the fuzz and motor cannot touch, its an out-runner, working carefully a 0.5 to 1mm gap can be achieved with a 2836 direct drive, its a pain to do as is turning the motor if required. For me it is satisfying, being different, creating more space for the radio.
Much safer rear control surface actuation and lighter to boot. IDS has allowed me to eliminate surface drag exposed rods and horns as well as eliminating the bubble in the servo cover.
Lots of other little things required my thought and attention but most one could expect on any build.
So this is it, building has been very interesting. The flying review is not going to happen this side of Easter 2019, cold, waterlogged field and winter in general will keep me indoors. Should be starting a new project very soon, just waiting for the main component to arrive, hopefully January?
Review by: Roger SandersEl Nino 3.9m
As a mechanical engineer, I am very impressed by the aerodynamic design of this glider. In my opinion, it has the best performance of any of the current large, F5J gliders. This is because it has the lowest aerodynamic drag combined with ultra light weight (mine weighs 1,048 grams), very thin airfoils for good penetration, and very tight circling capability.
I have an older Xplorer and one of the early Ultimas to which I can compare the El Nino. The Xplorer weighs over 2 KG while the Ultima and El Nino weigh about half that. The difference in flight behavior between these three are remarkable.
Being relatively heavy, the Xplorer flies fast, penetrates upwind very well, and responds quickly to control inputs. Its glide slope is quite good, but not as good as either the Ultima or the El Nino, and it flies down that slope faster than than the other gliders. Its relatively high weight and high flight speed means that it does not "float" as well as the others, and it is not able to detect and circle as tightly in light lift.
The Ultima is the ultimate floater. It flies very slowly and will turn extremely tightly. So in calm conditions, it has significantly better duration than the Xplorer. But the Ultima is useless in windy conditions. The Xplorer's greater weight and speed makes it vastly superior to the Ultima, which will only hover into any significant head wind, and it is knocked around severely by turbulence.
The El Nino is a much better all-around glider than either the Ultima or the Xplorer. This is because the El Nino is very light so floats well, but it has a very thin airfoil for speed. The result is that the El Nino will float well in light conditions, but penetrates into the wind almost as well as the Xplorer.
Generally the faster the glider, the greater is its sink rate. So fast gliders typically do not have duration performance as good as slow floaters. The El Nino is an exception to this rule. It has such low drag that its glide slope is flatter than any other glider I have experienced. As a result, it can be flown fairly fast while maintaining a very slow sink rate. Additionally, it can be slowed down for calm conditions and float virtually as well as the Ultima.
The higher air speed of the El Nino also translates into more responsive handling. The Ultima has very weak and sluggish handling due to its very slow speed. The Xplorer has good control response, but due to its weight, it just isn't quick and agile. By comparison, the El Nino is both agile and responsive.
In short, I find the El Nino to have the best all around performance because it has a very wide speed range, an amazingly flat glide slope, outstanding duration, indicates lift superbly, and has the best handling and agility. It is by far my favorite glider.
So why have I given it only a 3-star rating? Unfortunately the fit, finish, workmanship, and completeness are poor. A glider this expensive should be state-of-the-art in these areas -- like the Xplorer. The El Nino is a major disappointment and quite unsatisfactory. Compared to the Xplorer (which is the gold standard for fit and finish), the El Nino is a real mess and has a multitude of detail defects. be fair and objective, I will list some of the specific defects in the El Nino so you can see that this is not just a matter of opinion.
To begin, the servo pockets in the underside of the wings are not symmetrically placed. Those in my glider were randomly placed with differences in position between the right and left wings by as much as 14 mm. Obviously they were not fitted using a jig.
The servo pockets are too far aft in the wings. This makes it virtually impossible to anchor the servo trays to the spar, which is the best place to distribute the servo forces. Anchoring the servos only to the upper wing skins is not good practice and causes the wing skin to deform under load.
Another advantage to having the servo pockets up near the spar is that is the thickest part of the wing. This makes it possible to keep the servo arm completely within the wing so a flat servo wing cover can be used. This would eliminate any need for the bubble in the servo covers that were supplied in the kit.
The aileron and flap control horns are very well designed. They are thicker than those in other kits so they have a wider bearing surface to resist wear. The aileron horns are at 90 degree to the hinge line while the flap horns are 45 degrees forward of the hinge line. It is the correct way to design control horns since these surfaces are very different in their throws. Both the Xplorer and the Ultima could take a lesson from the El Nino.
The control horns are CNC machined -- but they are not completed. They are left in the base fiberglass, which requires that the modeler cut them free and sand off the rough edges and mounting points. The other models provide finished horns, why not the El Nino?
The holes in the horns are too large for the wire that is supplied with them. This results in an unacceptable amount of slop in the linkages. To fix this problem, you will either need to make new horns and drill the holes to the same size as the wire, or you will need to get larger wire and drill larger holes in the supplied horns to get a slop-free fit.
There are no gap seals on any of the El Nino's hinged surfaces. The Xplorer does it best with beautifully constructed, internal gap wipers. The Ultima comes with gap seal tape. The El Nino has no seals at all.
Although there are no gap seals on the El Nino, the manufacturer supplies a wide roll of plastic film that you can cut and to make gap seal tape yourself. It will be difficult, to cut the very long, thin lengths of film accurately so that it is about 10 cm wide and has parallel edges and looks good.
You must then apply a very narrow, thin, double-sided tape to the pieces you cut. Laying this tape straight and neatly is very difficult. Additionally the tape is too narrow (about 1 mm) to hold the film firmly in place. You must use two parallel rows of tape spaced about 5 mm apart to mount the plastic strips adequately.
In short, you not only have to apply gap seals yourself, but you have to make the gap seal tape. You cannot do it as well as commercial gap seal tape. On a glider this expensive, there is absolutely no excuse for this. The manufacturer should, at the very least, supplied a roll of commercial gap seal tape. But he really should apply it himself so that the wings come already fitted with it -- like all the other glider manufacturers do. Better yet, use internal wipers. I bought a roll of commercial gap seal tape so that I could do the job well.
The construction of the wings is not precise. When wings are made in molds, the layers of carbon, foam, resin, and other parts will normally be very consistent and the left and right wings will be virtually the same weight.
The left wing of my El Nino was 17 grams heaver than the right. When you pick up the glider, the left wing immediately falls towards the ground. To get this much weight difference between the wings requires truly sloppy workmanship. This is simply unacceptable in a glider with such an impressive aerodynamic design. What a shame that the manufacturer has such careless workers.
The wing/fuselage alignment pins and mounting bolts were not aligned. The wing and fuselage would not fit together when I got the kit. It required extensive modification to get them to fit. The wing tip alignment pins also did not fit.
I understand that the manufacturer has addressed this issue in his current production, but the fact that customers had to make him aware of the problem says volumes about the factory's quality control -- or complete lack of it.
The flat head bolt wing recesses were too deep for the bolts to be flush with the with the wing surface (they were recessed 1.6 mm). To make matters worse, they were not centered. This is only a cosmetic problem, but again shows careless workmanship.
The fuselage halves are not accurately glued together. They are out of alignment by 0.8 mm. This results in a step in the firewall, where half the firewall is further forward than the other half.
The step can be removed by carefully sanding the firewall so it is flat. But you you cannot sand firewall that is inside the fuselage. As a result, an internal step remains. When you bolt the motor to the firewall, the motor shaft ends up being cocked at a small angle -- it is not aligned with the axis of the fuselage. Therefore, the spinner gap will be different at different points around the fuselage.
This is not only unsightly, but the thrust line is not aligned with the fuselage. This causes the plane to pull to one side under power.
There are also steps in the wing tips. These cannot be sanded flat because alignment pins are already glued in place so you cannot use a sanding block to true up the entire surface. As a result, the wing tips do not fit flush to the center wing panel.
The canopy is held in place with a 3 mm shaft. This shaft is glued to the underside of the canopy. But the glue is too far towards the ends of the canopy so that the shaft is so stiff that it is very difficult to install and remove the canopy. The shaft should be glued closer to the center of the canopy so it is more flexible.
The shaft is glued to the canopy with huge, irregular lumps of glue that are very ugly and unnecessary. A couple of small drops are all that are needed.
There are many surface faults in the wings and tail apparently caused by dirt in the mold. There is one big glob of dirt actually in the skin. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy! I could go on, but I am out of characters, so cannot write more. But you get the picture -- this is a great design that is ruined by terrible workmanship.
Review by: AlexApparently it's lighter than air..
What a remarkable model this is!
I went out yesterday to maiden it and was blown away by a couple of things.....
....it was the first time holding it above my head to throw it, just like the countless times I've been throwing sailplanes and realised how really light this thing is. The numbers say one thing, but the reality of when its in your hand and above your head is something else entirely.
....she moves! And with remarkable ease too, yet she can be slowed down and change direction with such little loss of energy. This was a real first for me and something I only experienced with a good dlg. I thought my J planes were nimble but the El Nino is in a totally different category.
I launched it some 8 times for about an hour of flight time and not once did I feel intimidated by it's handling. CG at 103 worked but can appreciate why having it at 105 may slow her down a tad.
Some binding issues with Aileron/flap coupling but nothing sanding of trailing edges wouldn't solve.
Brilliant model Alex Hoekstra, thanks for creating it, I may have to get another one!
I bought El Nino No3. from Neil at Hyperflight as he was the only vendor who had them at the time. By doing so I learnt what a superb chap he was to deal with and made the whole task of payment, in the US, packaging and shipping an easy process. Thank you and I plan on being a customer for some time.
Review by: DanielEl Nino
The El Nino is an amazing performer. I currently fly an Xplorer 2.5 F5J, an Ultima, and two El Nino's. The Xplorer and Ultima are for sale. The El Nino indicates lift and turns like no other model I have ever flown.
The El Nino does not come as finished as an Xplorer or Ultima, so I would not recommend it for a beginner builder. I have both the light and strong layup versions. The light version is strong enough for almost any situation.
Both aircraft have Powerline 1015 motors and Castle 35amp ESC's, MKS DS 6100's for the flaps, and DS 75K's for the ailerons. Using the same methods as Hutton describes, I am able to get proper control surface throws with flat servo covers.
The El Nino's thin wing section really makes a difference in penetration. I fly in 15-20mph winds without ballast and never have a problem returning from downwind.
The high aspect ratio truly makes El Nino act like a DLG plane.
I have found taping the vertical stabilizer on the fuselage still allows the stabilizer to rotate slightly in flight. This was easily fixed by using a small screw to secure and index the joint.
I have not added a firewall doubler to my aircraft. I have found the molded firewall to be strong enough. Although I have only drilled the 4 mounting holes in the firewall, no cooling holes. I have found the motor runs hot, but even on 95F days I do not experience any over-heating issues.
El Nino is a wonderful aircraft.
Review by: HuttonEl Nino
The El Nino is very nice piece of kit. The build quality is top notch. The surface finish is superb. Overall it isn’t in quite the same pre-finished state as a Supra or Maxa, but it’s up there with what you need to do to finish a DLG (which is the pedigree of the El Nino anyway). The one I have has the heavier (Textreme) centre panel.
Some comments on the assembly. The wings went together easily, I mounted the servos against the spar (with 5mm balsa pad) and 6.5 mm hole to centre on the flaps and 5mm on ailerons. I looked at the ServoRhamen frames and found that they put the horn too far back which would have required a blister in the cover. With the servos mounted as above, they don’t need a blister. The trailing edge is stiff considering the 1.2mm wire used as push rods (there is a bit of bounce, but it’s not a problem in the air). I used lighter wire than supplied for the servo extensions (Flaps MKS 6100, Ailerons KST 08).
The horizontal tailplane required a few strips of tape to level up with the wings. The supplied push rods are perfect but you need to reduce the amount of free wire at the Elevator and Rudder end. The connections to servos is as per the Tweagle, There isn’t a lot of room for the servos in the fuselage, but horn length of 6mm is enough to get all the required travel.
Fitting the motor / ESC servos Rx and Batteries into the nose is a challenge. I used the 2.5mm thick mount plate from Reisenhauer gear box and Tenshock motor., with the Himodel 40A SB ESC. I soldered the ESC wires to the motor wires and tucked the connections alongside the motor. The Rx (Jeti 7REX) fits diagonally between the battery area and the servos. A 13x8 GM prop is more than enough. The El Nino can easily get to 250m is less than 30 secs (don’t ask –it’s a great way to lose points).
The model weighs 1115g with the 650mAh batteries and 1140g with 850mAh (Tattu / GensAce fit). Putting the El Nino together at the field is easy (and fast) compared to a Maxa, and the elevator doesn't need those little screws. Battery weight determines CG. The CG with the 650mAh battery is 103mm, with the 850 mAh battery 100mm. XT30 connectors are the go. With the motor / prop setup above it uses ~200mAh for a 10 minute flight, which suggests the current draw is no greater than 30A.
Flight characteristics are excellent. The El Nino is much more nimble than my Maxa, it gets around the sky with authority despite the low weight and handles winds of at least 20 km/hr without the need for ballast.
I like it very much. It’s not a model for first timers, but if you have experience putting together a DLG you won’t have any problems. You will be rewarded by the excellent handling and easy flight characteristics.