Once again i'm back to review one of my awesome to fun to fly plane from my hangar collections. Its the kind of plane that would make me; "Why do i have to drive far to club field when i can fly this one in behind my house!?" First, sorry for being away too long for not posting any article on this website not because of global pandemic going on this 2020 season but as you all know i got carried away busy doing fun stuff which explains very much reason why there are explosive amount of You videos and Tweets on my channel flying, driving and bunch of FPV recently... yes life was good! Staying away from internet and spending more outdoor activities is better than screen time! You guys and gals should go out more and enjoy some activities under the sun!.. don't forget to wear mask.
Lately more people started to ask me what is the best plane to learn new tricks, aerobatics and robust enough to make mistake without burning to much money on the repair. Plus something that doesn't need to much time to move around place just to fly an R/C plane. The answer; 3D Profile plane! Yes! its the plane that makes me; "I felt lazy to go out so i just fly this and go mojo!". They are cheap, versatile, fun, tame yet can be aggressive and its flight characteristic depends on how you want it to be. If you are really good with DIY you can actually build this plane from scratch too, online have lots of layout plans for scratch buildings. 3D profile plane although lack of aesthetic appeal due to being flat looking they actually an all wonder multirole plane. If it wasn't for this '3D Profile Plane' i wouldn't able to flip crazy 360 on all my planes even jets and at the same time learn how to 'scale' flight an FPV plane. This plane is a great 'Teacher'. Flat piece of flying 'plank' that looked like from cut out cardboard like structure that assembled into plane hence 'Profile plane' is very popular among 3D flyers especially F3A and F3P pilot sometimes used during indoor aero-musical competition...the Professional choice. Profile plane are purposely build to be as slight as possible so that the plane nimble enough to perform impossible jaw dropping maneuver from basic prop hanging to flat spin tricks at the same time fly at slow pace without stalling. If you don't mind how the plane looks and just interested to sharpen your flying skills then this plane is your 'Jack of all trades' without moving far away from your home door step. 3D profile planes known to have extremely bigger surface control on aileron, elevator and rudder so they can be sensitive at high rate of stick throw. This to allow fast response maneuver and extreme flip angle on plane movement almost 360 hence called 3D profile plane which best suited for flying F3A, F3P or Aero dancing event....just look on Youtube videos about these, they are pure circus!
For today review i'm going to talk about one of my favorite 'go to' 3D profile plane which i flown almost every weekend, before/after work hours and even close to my home; the 'TECHONE SBACH 342' with 800mm wingspan made from durable and resilient EPP foam. Originally it came from TECHONE's line up of 800mm series which also includes; YAK 55, SUKHOI 29 and MXS all shared the same dimension but SBACH was my preferred kit because it looks good. I bought this from a friend who own local R/C shop a for around approximately USD$80 that comes with everything except radio combos, charger and li-po which obvious you have to supply your own stuff. Comes as unassembled kit where you have to assemble by hands. At the time of writing this article the plane have been around with me for 5 years was indeed a worthy plane to fly almost everyday because its so versatile and fun. Its also one of my favorite plane as tool for me to teach my students and newbies how to fly too since it much more durable than my other 3D profile planes in my hangar. That's why on my social channel you always see this plane pop-up on my post on every weekend showing it in action all over places,
Specification (as describe by vendor/manufacturer)
Brand name: TECHONE
Model name: SBACH 342
Release date: Approximately 2014
Foam profile thickness: 10mm
Ideal battery pack for cruise: 7.4v 2s 1000mah 20C Li-po battery (Not Included)
Max battery pack for extreme aerobatics: 11.1v 3s 650mah 30C Li-po battery (Not Included)
Average flight time (normal cruise flight): 6~8 minutes
Fuselage + wing material build: EPP foam (Expanded Polystyrene)
+ Full photo manual
- Your Own 4 Channel TX/RX radio unit
- 7.4v 2s 1000mah 20C Li-po battery or 11.1v 3s 650mah 30C Li-po battery
Flight level/piloting experience requirement:
+ Piloting level: Beginner to Advance
+ Minimum past model experience: Flying at least a trainer or a glider.
Quality and builds
About the build; if you're really good with glues then this plane build is for you.... finger sticky and icky work if you're first timer trust me on this!. Traditionally 3D profile plane like this never come as Plug-N-Fly or ARF neither took few seconds of assembly like normal foamy BNF kit. Kit came with both plane fuselage parts and electronic as complete unassembled plane unit but i have to supply my own radio combo, charger and batteries as stated on the above specs in this page. Since it came with pre-sliced pieces of EPP foam with 10mm thickness, carbon rods, pieces of plastic mounting jigs, hinges and few nifty things you'll have to prepare some glue and hours of hand building. Usually the kit doesn't supply any glue so the best glue for the assembly would be CA glue (cyanoacrylate glue) and POR UHU glue (not the normal UHU) which is foam safe and lightweight enough to bonding between pieces of foam. Hot glue does the work for bonding part of the motor mounting assembly between plastic mounting jigs and the EPP foam but do not use all over the build because few goop of hot glue weight heavier than normal glue...the point of 3d profile plane build is too keep it as lightweight as you can. If you wanted to know more get some tips on which glue to use for EPP foamy build head up to this RCGROUPS community forum at this links (Click here). This plane has the most thickest EPP foam with 10mm thickness compare to my other 3D profile plane which mostly at best 5mm thickness which explained why this SBACH 342 doesn't need thin carbon rods as outer skeletal structure to hold along the fuselage rigid in place, this also helps to reduce complexity when building the plane.
In term of build hardship; the only difficulty about this build is to hold the EPP foam together after gluing for few minutes until the glue (CA/UHU POR) bonding dries which can take 10 minutes or more depends on type of glue use. Can be tiring to hold still by hand making sure the fuselage parts attachment is within right attachment angle but my usual method was using sticky tape to hold the parts in its place. Some builder resort to build customized jigs tools to hold the parts together which works more efficient if you're planning to build more 3D profile plane kit in long run. Once the basic main fuselage build is done its all smooth sailing adding motor mount, surface control hinges and pushrods
To save up weight much of the electronic wire connection between each other are direct soldered rather than using plug to pin socket to save weight. The receiver plastic casing is removed, pin connection onboard totally de-soldered for removal, all cables cut at proper length and servo excess plastic tab mounting are cut off. The Pros is obviously to make the plane lighter and easier to fly but the Cons are parts replacement can be tedious and difficult because it will be no longer 'plug and go' because will need soldering works especially for those who is not good in soldering. Among lightweight R/C plane builder soldering skill is a must have if you want to build a perfect R/C build especially FPV builders. Based on my years observation most an R/C'er who doesn't poses soldering skill wouldn't last in R/C hobby ambition...that's the fact, so go your skill improve or drop the bucket. CG (Center Gravity) for this plane is always 30% distance from the leading edge of the main wing almost close to the root wing. My lipo battery placement for both 2s 1000mah 20C and 3s 650mah 30C is almost 3cm away behind the leading front of the motor mounting tied below the fuselage via velcro strap to keep CG in check. Overall under my belt full build of TECHONE SBACH 342 would take me about 4 hours to complete the assembly that includes duration for the glue to bond completely. For beginner/novice would probably take longer due to gluing difficulty and soldering effort if opt for 'lightweight' route. The total over build weight without the battery pack is at approximately 165 gram without lipo battery and battery alarm module. However if you're being slacky with the build mostly you'll get above 220grams which is not a good weight for overall 360 performer.
First thing to note; the TECHONE SBACH 342 3d profile are hard to take off from the ground if rolling on its own landing gear which is why i prefer hand launches. Added 'Cons' to mention is if you land on the grass the landing gear might get caught tug along the grassy shrubs and force to rip away the landing gear from the bottom of the fuselage which is bad. Since i always spent more time flying on grassy field i usually hover slowly at high angle of attack then belly flop down by cutting off the throttle. When hand launched it; just start the throttle, feel the forward tug from the prop thrust and then release your hand grip from the neck of the plane fuselage to let it flew out from my grip, that's it! Easy ya?
As for my radio setup; EXPO setting for aileron, elevator and rudder is at 45% with curved bow down graph display (low sensitivity on first stick movement) while EPA all at 100% on my good old TURNIGY 9X radio enough surface deflection for normal aerobatic and mild 3d flying. On 2S 1000mah lipo battery pack it could perform mild aerobatic maneuver but a bit struggle with the prop hang tricks at 100% throttle but with 3S 650 mah lipo battery pack prop hanging tricks was easy at just 70% throttle throw and could get aggressively fast with loops, flips and etc. So 2S is good for mild while 3S if you like fast response flight however lighter battery packs will give utmost overall impact on handling, runtime and performance in the air. Flight timer for this power setup usual set at 8 minutes tops before call to land which is safe enough to drained up to 3.6 volt per-cell on ever battery pack used either 2s 1000mah or 3s 650 when landed. Other option to know when the battery is about to drain is having a a very lightweight 7 gram battery alarm on board plug into the battery balance plug which helps to give out audible alarm when the battery is about to drop to 3.6v per-cell.
Flying this plane is definitely more relaxing and less tense than flying actual scale plane like Cessna, jets or even gliders because due to its weight and bigger profile wings. It float gently like a kite giving you more stick time to think what maneuver should you execute next...in short it flies slow and steady like walking pace if you can balance it along the way. Due to its mild and tame flight characteristics i can easily learn aerobatics, stunts, 3D flights, F3A, F3P maneuvers and other experimental tricks without risk of major crash and costly damages unlike actual size R/C planes. For beginners it will be a twitchy plane to fly during first maiden if EXPO and EPA is not setup in radio controller properly but for intermediate and seasonal R/C pilot its a walk around the park. For an SBACH 342 it flies almost identical to any EPP plane that i've own several in my hangar but with faster response on both roll and loop due to its short fuselage length. The plane tracks well on straight line, knife edge, flat spin, inverted, harrier, prop hangs, loops and barrel roll on zero/windless day. The straight yet thick fuselage helps to keep the flight in straight and well tracked without being twisted by torsion roll from external forces such as propeller torque rolling and wind turbulent. On windy day say max at 15~18km/h wind speed the SBACH handled well performed all maneuver but almost 60% of the time won't have solid straight line flight but still excel far better than average 3D profile plane of the same build because the TECHONE SBACH 342 10mm thickness fuselage doesn't flex and twist around by the wind turbulent unlike general 3D profile plane that has 5mm thickness although fully supported with multiple carbon rods like my TECHONE/HK TRISTANIA and TECHONE/HK PIAGET. Which is why when it comes to open beach flying during mild windy or breezy days the TECHONE SBACH 342 is always my first choice 'all wonder' lightweight plane to hop with me whenever i go there along with my robust solid EPO foam TECHONE KATANA 1000mm wingspan and the awesome ART-TECH/HOBBY KING PITTS SPECIAL...they are great trio for beach fun flying or picnic activities which is why you can see these trio flown a lot at beach as shown much at my Gallery snapshots and on my video Youtube channel. My other soft flexy EPP 3D profile plane of similar size and wing span more likely to get easily blown away by the wind which eventually i did lost a PIAGET's twin sister accidentally got drag more than 500 meters away by the wind and landed into hills full of tall trees which render un-retrievable and consider a lost to me.....fortunately i still have spare PIAGET left (actually i forgot to remove the 'airbrake' panels on PIAGET during flight which causes drift away by the winds). Crashing the SBACH is part of the norm when trying to experiment some tricks and maneuver in the air but fortunately it handles the crash well without severely torn and breaks in pieces on first year of the flight. When freshly build with new glues and material bonding the plane structure could handle and abuse provided if it flown on grassy field and shut off the throttle before it hits the ground. The 10mm thickness of the EPP foam rigid helps to prevent tearing and cracks when compare to 5mm thickness generally found on common 3D profile build.
Ownership value, maintenance and flight safety
The TECHONE SBACH 342 actually has almost zero maintenance on its first year of its lifespan as long if you don't crash and kept on well ventilated room using natural non-UV lighting. This plane will last pretty long beyond 10 years with almost zero maintenance or repair. On board electronics of my choice lasts with zero problem from the day i build it in 2015 till present time as i wrote this article. The only problem with this plane is when its started to age over time after passes second year and beyond especially when stored too long under normal room temperature and improper lighting (UV light exposure). If improper storing the EPP foam will started to become brittle and lost its elasticity. On my 5th year my SBACH started to show stress crack on its EPP foam which i have to cure with CA glue or at worst case a few dabs of hot glue along the cracks.
To be honest EPP foam is not a good material to have as a 'forever plane' because as experienced first hand almost all my 3D profile EPP plane show the same symptom of losing its material elasticity and become brittle as years going by. I just don't know why probably i assume the hot and wet tropical weather where i live might influence the condition of these plane even when i stored deep in closed hangar. The only plane i own that seems to last are made from EPO and Balsa wood with Monokote film over it. I can say EPP took the first spot for being most 'brittle' material over time, second spot would be the EPS foam because its not a good plane to be under the sun for long period....yeah! my ART-TECH F-18 jet made from EPS foam started to crumble for no reason after sitting too long in the hangar, note that down. If you've followed the activity of my FPV P-51D Mustang which by now over 8 years old its EPS foram also started to looked 'furry' too. Just like a real car that aged, worn out and value depreciate over time 3D profile plane than made from EPP are almost at similar stand. The best way to appreciate it what its worth is to enjoy more airtime, fly as much as you can and enjoy before the airframe looses its efficiency. Fortunately i've max out all the juice i can squeeze out of this plane and had no regret if one day the SBACH started to give up its ghost. Hopefully the SBACH lives another 3~5 years down the road. So 'eat the ice-cream before it melts.'
When it comes to flight hazard and safety this plane doesn't pose any risk to public damages or injury to any nearby living thing, public property or spectator nearby should this 3D profile plane crash into them. The plane is very lightweight, soft, yet too cushy to cause any dent, blow or damages should it crashes into things. It felt pretty much got hit by a soft roll of toilet paper if at worst provided the throttle is immediately cut off or slow down before impact. Which is why this is a great plane to fly in tight public spaces. Its also a head turner if you like to amuse your audience with your flying skill in public places, you could creatively attached strips of lightweight LED lightings for night flying to wow the crowds too...we did that a lot and it was cool public art project!
Here are sample of video of i posted on my Youtube channel contain fun flying my TECHONE - SBACH 342 800mm
- Product gallery: TECHONE Sbach 342 - 800mm
Here are list of reputable vendor/seller sell 3D profile EPP foam plane. Since the TECHONE version of SBACH 342 800m kit is already "obsolete" i could only suggest the below list of plane kit closes to actual performance, build and capability of the said plane.
1. Seller Banggood.com: Vertigo EPP 800mm
2. Seller Banggood.com: Yak55 EPP 860mm
3. Seller Banggood.com: Jade Team EXTRA NG 3D Acrobatic 840mm
Places where you can find help and resources related to this product:
RCgroups discussion group - New Techone 800mm EPP Sbach 342: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?2117031-New-Techone-800mm-EPP-Sbach-342!
RCgroups discussion group - 3D foamies discussion threads: https://www.rcgroups.com/3d-foamies-658/
Wikipedia - 3D Aerobatics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_Aerobatics
If i'm being honest i would pick 3D profile plane than scale plane like warbirds, jets or replica model as my only plane to keep me active in this hobby simply because it can do thing unimaginable tricks when compare to 'standard planes and give more airtime with limited space to fly. Anyway battery lipo for 3d profile plane is small and cheap. Aesthetically yes it looks unappealing nor being a good shelf queen but the fun factor being able to fly anytime anywhere weight more! If it wasn't for 3d profile plane like the SBACH and also other 'plankies' in my hangar i wouldn't able to learn some cool aerobatics and stunts which i could apply such maneuver on all my scaler planes like jets, warbirds and other full bodied fix wings. Back in my early days of FPV flight its was the 3D profile plane the 'HK TRISTANIA' that helped me to train how to fly FPV and performed various flight maneuver through my FPV goggle before quadcopter or drone trend was a thing...gave me some confident and skills needed. Although its the most shunned looking plane among R/C scale enthusiast yet it provide huge contribution to any R/C pilot who wants to explore new flying skills and sharp their technique without costly risk. Based on my experience and observation at our local flying club those who have background flying 3D profile plane does better at flying any planes and perform flawless flight maneuver without mistake than those without it because their hands/thumbs reaction time on their radio stick react faster and precise thanks to training on 3D profiles. Those who never flown 3d profile planes has bad reaction stick time and i could see straight through they tends to be hassle, jerky and less confident flying their planes because some pilot never gone through tight manouvers.
Unfortunately if you're planning to get this exact plane kit for yourself you'll going to have hard time digging around online because for an SBACK 342 at 800mm wingspan its almost obsolete in the market shelf. However you can find re-branded or re-badge version of this plane you can still find it which i believe sold at Bangood.com, Aliexpress.com or from other website since it came from same template design with minor differences in wingspan. Since i purchase this plane in 2015 by today its already 5 years old and the EPP foam elasticity seems to harden and brittle over time because i store improperly in the room with high exposure to fluorescent lamp that have bit of UV light, yeah! my bad for improper storage. Consequently some torn and brittle surfaces have been glued back which increased weight by extra 10grams overall but still not noticeable impact to its flight performance. Overall 5 years enjoyment and airtime on the SBACH 342 was well worth the money spent especially with all the great tricks learn on thisplane, those battle scar on its fuselage tells lots of stories.
Last common question: Is 3d profile plane is a must have for R/C plane enthusiast? If you were in my shoes i would say 'YES!'. If you planning to 'up' your flying skills 3D profile plane is a must have. It doesn't have to be the TECHONE SBACH 342, you can go for other model type as long its a flat profile plane of the same build layout since all 3D profile plane flies almost having same flight characteristic with margin of 20% handling differences assume they all have the same average wingspan and fuselage size. Throughout my lifespan as an R/C flying hobbyist i have owned 12x units of 3D profile EPP foam based planes ranging between 800mm up to 1100mm size wingspan and all of them contribute huge to improve and enhanced my flying skill. Although nothing lasts due to material deterioration but they all worthy to fill gap in our life as R/C pilot hobbyist. Yeah! they looked funny but that's because they are 'fun'.