You don’t need me to tell you that as far as ARTF models are concerned, the variation in build and covering quality is still pretty wide. The old saying that you get what you pay for is, in most cases, true, although even some of the cheaper examples are now very much improved. Quite rightly though as, for many, the price of a model is a significant factor in the purchase decision. With the Pulse selling for £170, one could be forgiven for wondering what it is that might make you part with your cash when so many other cheaper alternatives are on offer? Well, let’s start by explaining that
I’ve had the opportunity to assemble a good number of ARTF models over the last few years yet the Pulse XT 40 is, in my opinion, the very best I’ve come across. The build and covering are truly superb, the components assemble accurately and the fittings are of excellent quality. The wheels in particular are, for once, of the right size and style for the model. I’d like a pound for the number of times I’ve had to change wheels that were too large, too small or just plain rubbish.
As for the assembly manual? In short, it’s a work of art, produced in black and white with photos and explanatory text broken into easy steps. There are even a few pages at the end giving advice on how you can maintain your Pulse… The model that is!
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Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Classically styled the Pulse was penned by well know US designer Mike McConville and is intended specifically as a follow-on trainer or intermediate aerobat. Having said this it’ll be savoured by any flyer with low-wing experience, as you’ll see from my flying comments later on. The design revolves around a relatively thin fuselage, an upright glow engine or electric outrunner, a built-up wide-chord, semi-symmetrical wing and traditionally constructed tail feathers. Since the aeroplane is suitable for either electric or i.c. powerplants, you’ll find a variety of fittings in the kit that allow one to follow either route. I prefer i.c. power and so decided that an SC52 four-stroke would be an ideal choice. The recommended power systems are 40 – 48 two-stroke, 40 – 82 four-stroke or an 800 watt E-flite Power 46 brushless motor (or equivalent).
As with any Hangar 9 kit, a blow-by-blow account of the assembly process would simply re-write the superb manual and achieve very little. Thus, a quick run through the build sequence is more than sufficient here.
Unlike many models now, the ailerons are not pre-hinged and pinned, although attaching the moving surfaces is a simple enough task. There’s an aileron servo in each wing half employing a standard pushrod link, and in this respect it’s handy for you to know that you’ll not need extension leads to reach the receiver. Actually, I didn’t even mix the servos electronically, opting instead to plug both leads into a Y-lead that’s permanently located in the aileron socket of the receiver.
You’ll note that the wing is designed to disassemble for transport, the two halves being joined using an alloy tube brace (at the spar position) and an incidence peg (near the trailing edge). Dowels at the front and two wing bolts at the back lock the wing into position for a perfect and durable fit. You really couldn’t ask for more. What with the two piece wing and a bolt-on tail the Pulse can, if desired, be stowed in a very small space for transportation.
Beautifully finished in matching red, the alloy landing gear is attached by inserting three bolts into pre-fitted captive nuts, the whole topped off with the toughest looking pair of spats it’s been my pleasure to behold. The spat fixing arrangement is durable too, so you can expect them to survive all but the roughest of landings. Well done Hangar 9, the kit’s worth the extra money for this alone!
When it comes to fitting the radio the obvious consideration that’s gone into this model is all too apparent. Starting with the fuselage-mounted pushrod tubes you’ll note that their height perfectly matches standard servos, making installation quick and easy. It’s also good to see that at the front the engine bulkhead is pre-drilled, with captive nuts fitted to accept the engine bearers supplied. Continuing the pleasurable fuss-free build sequence, the engine bearer locations suited my SC52 perfectly, so again, another chunk of the assembly was completed quickly and easily. Mind you, the throttle linkage wasn’t quite so simple! In common with most ARTF models the pre-installed tube and wire have been positioned to suit a two-stroke engine, whereas the SC’s carb’ is, of course, mounted at the rear of the motor, much higher than you’d find a two-stroke carb’. After some initial head scratching I decided to simply bend the throttle pushrod by 90 degrees to meet the throttle arm. Not ideal, but so far it’s worked okay and looks set to continue that way.
The fuel tank is supplied pre-plumbed and when installed is readily available for inspection via a hatch on the underside of the fuselage, which doubles to provide battery access if you happen to install an electric powertrain. Complete and with just the C of G to establish, only 1oz of stick-on lead was necessary at the firewall to achieve perfection.
With the greatest level of prefabrication and build quality that I’ve yet encountered the Pulse has provided the quickest, easiest and most enjoyable build of all the ARTF models I’ve yet assembled.
THE ACID TEST
The take-off process is straightforward. A little elevator is required to hold the tail down at first but this can be released within a few yards before a little more pressure eases the model off the ground. A few clicks of trim may be required just to achieve straight and level flight but it’s unlikely to be very much if the C of G is correct.
As you might expect, stall handling is excellent. The model will drop her nose if pushed to a slow walking pace but her wings remain level throughout. For the low-wing novice, then, landings will present absolutely no problem. And that means you have no excuse for bending the undercarriage or damaging those delightful spats!
In terms of performance the sky really is the limit, indeed all the classic pattern aerobatic manoeuvres can be performed crisply. Loops, in particular, are very impressive; the model doesn’t skew out in either direction, she simply tracks around beautifully, the power of the SC52 coupled with the light airframe making large jet-style figures eminently possible.
Assisted by the sizeable rudder, stall-turns are straightforward and, again, the four-stroke provides power enough for the model to punch skywards from level flight with some authority. Actually, I’d go as far as to say the SC52 motor seems perfectly matched to the airframe, it sounds good and the power provided is just right, it’s a combination that I find very difficult to fault.
Moving through the manoeuvres you’ll find that inverted flight is a breeze with just a touch of forward pressure being required to hold her level. Once there she’ll hold position all day long and at all throttle settings, in fact if you get her in the groove you could almost forget you’re inverted!
Landings come easy with this model, in fact if you can bring a trainer home safely you won’t have a problem here. Set her up on finals and she’ll practically do the rest for you, floating in and touching down, with a modest amount of elevator to flare. Incidentally, when she’s on the ground you’ll find taxiing a cinch, the rudder and tail wheel providing superb handling in all conditions. Rest assured, there’ll be no walking to collect this one!
Don’t let appearances deceive you; although the Pulse may have a somewhat ordinary design (I prefer the word ‘classic’), it’s very much a wolf in sheep’s clothing and deserves far more acclaim than it’s likely to get in today’s cut and thrust ARTF market. Ready to fly models come and go and, more often than not, when you’ve owned, flown and bent a particular design you tend to replace it with something different. Not so the Pulse! Fly one, enjoy it for what it is, and I reckon there’ll always be a place in your collection for this aeroplane, it really is that good.
Is it worth £125, then? Absolutely. It may be slightly more expensive than some ready to fly sportsters, but I guarantee you’ll be enjoying this model long after the price has been forgotten.
Name: Pulse XT 40
Aircraft type: Sport aerobat
Manufactured by: Hangar 9
UK distributor: Horizon Hobby UK
Street price: £170
Wingspan: 61" (1541mm)
Fuselage length: 50" (1270mm)
Wing area: 667 sq. in.
All-up weight: 5.5 – 6.25lbs (2.5 – 2.8kg)
Wing loading: Approx 18.5 oz / sq. ft.
Functions (servos): Ailerons (2), elevator (1), rudder (1), throttle (1)
Rec’d engine: .40 – .46 two-stroke or .40 – .82 four-stroke; 800 watt electric motor
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