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FG Review - 93” AJ Laser 230z

Join us in welcoming our newest reviewer, Nikolei Zinsli as he reviews the AJ Aircraft Laser 230z!

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Review by Nikolei Zinsli

Product:AJ Aircraft Laser 230z
Wingspan:93"
Length:88"
Flying weight:18-20 lb
Electric motor:Q-80
Gas engine:60cc - 70cc
Engine used:DA 70
Servos used:Savox 1270TG
Product link:CLICK HERE

AJ Aircraft's third release in their new product line of Laser 230zs is their first giant-scale offering. Their first two in this line, the 56” and 73” have proven themselves to be excellent flyers with great characteristics that has pleased both the 3D and precision pilots. The 93” should be no different than its’ smaller siblings, so join me for a closer look at how it is on the build table and in the air.

Kit Contents

Here's what's included:

  • Fuselage, wing halves, stab/elevator halves, removable pinned rudder
  • Carbon fiber landing gear, wing and stab tubes, control horns
  • Complete hardware package with spares, including ball-links and turnbuckles
  • Solid rubber wheels with aluminum hubs
  • Steel axles
  • Landing gear cuffs
  • Aluminum re-enforced firewall
  • Ultracote covering in 2 different schemes
  • Firewall drilling templates & ¾” standoffs
  • Fuel tank
  • Wing & stab bags

Required:

  • Electric or gas power system (Hacker Q-80 w/ 160A ESC & 12s or DA-70 recommended)
  • 24x10 or similar prop
  • Minimum 6-channel transmitter & receiver
  • 5x 300-oz minimum High Torque Metal Geared servos (plus 1 standard servo for throttle if gas setup)
  • Heavy duty aluminum servo arms (2x 1 ¾”, 2x 1 ½”, 1x 3 ½”)
  • Servo extensions (2x 6”, 2x 4-6”, 2x 48”, 2x 12”)
  • Misc. accessories depending on your chosen power setup

The initial packaging of the airframe was impressive! The fuselage was double boxed, with the fuse, stabs and rudder fully wrapped in plastic and suspended in foam rings inside. Also inside the fuselage box was a carefully wrapped and boxed cowl, as well as a box with all of the hardware and small parts. The wing was triple boxed, with 2 wood 1x2 frames between the outer layers. The inner wing box revealed the wings secured in their padded wing bags.

As you can see, AJ Aircraft has included practically everything you’ll need for assembly. The hardware kit is full of quality hardware and even comes with a bag of spares with at least one of every type of bolt, washer, nut, etc that you’ll be using. Each hardware bag is individually packaged and labelled according to what major assembly they go with.

The first thing you’ll notice as you remove the plane from the box and wrapping plastic, besides the cavernous size of the fuselage, is the excellent finish and quality of covering. I was hard-pressed to find a single wrinkle! The simple yet striking “Retro” red and white star scheme looked even better in person than the pictures. Similarly, the finish on the cowl, canopy and wheel pants were all excellent and a perfect match to the colors and alignment of the fuselage covering. You’ll also find that the ailerons and elevators are pre-hinged, and the ailerons are even sealed. Looks like AJ Aircraft is doing as much as they can to get you in the air quick! On to the build!

Assembly

The assembly manual can be downloaded right from AJ Aircraft's product page. You can spend the short time it takes for the plane to get to your door to thoroughly read, review and plan your build. I also highly suggest reviewing the dedicated RC Groups thread for additional tips and loadout ideas! The manual was in plain English, very thorough and contained a bevy of pictures which accompanied nearly every major step.

As you should do with any new plane, the manual suggests going over all of the covering with a covering iron and going over each joint inside with thin CA. While the airframe looked very strong in and out, a little time spent here will help ensure a nice strong plane that will take a beating in the air!

As this was to become my primary IMAC competition plane, and my first giant-scale gasser I really wanted to do a simple yet clean looking build. The first step towards that goal was a nice firewall paint job. I used the large bag the fuselage came in, cut a hole in the end and taped off the firewall box. Using a base of Rustoleum flat black followed by a light coat of black/grey/white Rustoleum speckled texture paint gave a nice finished look to the front of the fuselage. This step also helps fuel-proof the area.

Installing the landing gear contained the only real assembly problem that I came across in the entire build. But since I reviewed the RCG thread before starting, I was prepared for it! The wheel hubs in the pre-production model appear to have had a raised center hub, which the current version does not. Without a spacer, the cotter pin that holds the wheel on can hit the protruding parts on the hub. There are several ways to get around this, but I used a wheel collar and secured it with household wire going through the wheel collar and axle.

The installation of all of the control horns and servos for all surfaces went flawlessly and exactly like the assembly manual described. I tapped all of my servo arms for 4-40 bolts and secured them to the servos and then the control rods to the servos. I delayed using any lock-tite here until I get all of the radio setup completed. Once I’m sure all of the surfaces are level with servos at neutral position, I’ll go back and lock-tite everything.

Pro tip: Get a rubber grommet assortment kit from the hardware store and use them with a small scrap of wood to hold your servo extensions! Cut the appropriate size hole in the balsa or light ply, feed the end of the servo lead through the grommet and then install the grommet into the wood. You can also cut the grommet to help get it in. Once complete, you’ll never have to fish your servo wires out of your wing or fuselage again!

The engine install was the next major assembly on the list. I chose the Desert Aircraft DA-70 twin for power, which happens to be what Andrew Jesky designed the plane around. With the provided drilling templates for common engines of this size and the included standoffs, this beautiful engine was mounted in no time. I should note that the drilling templates also have hole locations you can use for fuel tubing and throttle arm pass-throughs, but I suggest thoroughly reviewing your installation plans and throttle servo placement before cutting these holes. I found the fuel tube template hole to be just right, but I didn’t need the throttle arm slot as I found that mounting the throttle servo upside-down outside the firewall box gave a clear shot to the carb. I wrapped the ignition cables in red split-loom, continuing my clean-build theme. Split loom is available in several colors and sizes at most auto parts stores, and will help prevent wires from chaffing. I also used cable C-clamps to secure the ignition wires to the firewall box. One hardware upgrade that I do recommend is ball-links on both ends of the throttle arm. The included hardware provided an “EZ-link”, which I don’t suggest for this size of a plane.

I chose to line the inside of the fuse with carbon-fiber printed vinyl, which I found on e-bay for a decent price. It took a decent amount of time to lay down and trim, but I think the final effect looks great! Once the vinyl was down, I was able to complete my installation of fuel tank (a 32oz Taildragger RC tank), Tech Aero UIBEC, receiver satellites, fuel dot and soft-switch for my Spektrum AR9110. I also decided to try out the Redwing RC quick wing-lock product on this plane. Once their rubber grommet is glued in and the special wing bolt screwed in, you just clip on the lock, turn it 180 degrees and latch it…done! Sure beats sitting at the field wasting time twisting on nylon wing bolts!

Once the pipe & headers for the DA-70 and the majority of the internal electronics were installed, I was able to attach the wings and horizontal stabs/elevators for a CG check before installing my A123 packs and receiver. AJ Aircraft made this very easy by providing a set of holes in the upper fuselage plywood right in the CG range. Lifting the airframe by these holes will give you a very good idea where your CG lies. My CG came out tail-heavy with my batteries on the back-tray as I had initially planned. Moving one of the packs in-front of the tank got the CG forward enough to fly. I laid down extra length of Velcro for each pack to allow fine-tuning of the CG after some test flying.

Speaking of flying, let’s see how it does!

Flying

Takeoff & Trim

With just a couple flicks of the prop, the DA-70 was purring and running well. Once on the runway, a steady advance of the left stick had the Laser 230z airborne before I got past half-throttle. Climb-out was steady and predictable. A click or two of up elevator were all that was required to fly a beautiful straight line. !!Basic Aerobatics

As can be expected with most giant-scale aerobats, flying on low rates through your basic rolls and loops were very easy with no surprises. Knife-edge flight took very little rudder and showed little to no coupling, likely assisted by the large surface area on the side of the fuselage of the Laser 230z. Point rolls, slow rolls and snaps were all spot-on.

3D Aerobatics

Turn the rates up and this precision ship turns into a 3D hucking monster! The first thing that will shock you is the roll rate. The Laser 230z turns rifle-rolls into blur-rolls! Harriers and hovers were predictable and effortless. The Laser 230z showed excellent rudder and elevator authority in high-alpha flight, which made it nothing but fun to fly.

Landing

Landings are as easy as can be. The large wing gives the Laser 230z a great glide slope that makes it easy for you to do a perfect 3-point landing every time. I initially had my idle set a bit high, as it was a new engine and didn’t want it to die in the air…so my first landings ended with me cutting off the ignition on final. However since then, I’ve gotten my idle lower and have no problems slowing down.

Flight Video

FlyingGiants Review - AJ Aircraft 93" Laser 230z (9 min 8 sec)

Conclusion

The 93” AJ Laser 230z is an excellent airplane capable of satisfying any pilot, whether they you want to fly nice large pattern aerobatics or down in the dirt 3D and Extreme Aerobatics. The kit is of excellent quality with great hardware included and the airframe itself is light but incredibly strong. Even though AJ Aircraft is a relatively new company, you can tell that the Jeskys took their time when designing the Laser 230z. If you haven’t tried one yet, regardless of which size suits you, you really need to add one to your hangar!

Pros

  • Easy assembly
  • Detailed manual
  • Quality hardware
  • Pre-hinged & sealed surfaces
  • Flies great precision or 3D aerobatics

Cons

  • Wheel installation needs minor modifications
  • Throttle control rod hardware needs to be upgraded

Special thanks to Chris Koharik for the flying pics and video.

Last edited by Jim T. Graham; 01-15-2016 at 03:25 PM..
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Old 01-15-2016, 01:32 PM
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Excellent review! The video seems to be giving some issues though.
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Old 01-15-2016, 02:04 PM
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No offense.......But that thing is the "Pontiac Aztec" to the RC aircraft community......


CB
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Old 01-15-2016, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by castlebravo View Post
No offense.......But that thing is the "Pontiac Aztec" to the RC aircraft community......


CB
Fly one and you get past your initial impressions.
I was hesitant and tried the 73. Liked it so much I had to buy the 93.
Fantastic bird!!
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Old 01-15-2016, 02:40 PM View Post
Vapor Trails
A moderator felt this post violated the following rule: Trolling (Obnoxious behavior). It is temporarily hidden while Vapor Trails edits it. Show it to me anyway.
Old 01-15-2016, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by castlebravo View Post
No offense.......But that thing is the "Pontiac Aztec" to the RC aircraft community......


CB
I have the 73", 93" and now the 105" and what you may not like in the looks department, it more than makes up for it in performance!
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Old 01-15-2016, 02:56 PM
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Thanks to Chumley, I know it is a really good flying airplane.
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Old 01-15-2016, 03:22 PM
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this one looks awesome
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Old 01-15-2016, 03:25 PM
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I'll bet it does fly great. I can't get over the looks yet.
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Old 01-15-2016, 03:26 PM
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Video updated!
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Old 01-15-2016, 03:45 PM
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Nice review! I'm curious your actual weight with the DA70/canister, 32oz tank, vinyl trim, etc. Wondering if it stayed under 20lbs...
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Old 01-15-2016, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyo69cowboy View Post
Nice review! I'm curious your actual weight with the DA70/canister, 32oz tank, vinyl trim, etc. Wondering if it stayed under 20lbs...
I have a 93 laser that I have over 400 flights on this past summer. I have the same setup and I can tell you mine is over 20lbs, around 20.5-21. However, this plane flies very light and is a great performer in all aspects.
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Old 01-15-2016, 08:41 PM
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There aren't many planes uglier than this one, but I think it really comes down to the shape of the front/underside of the cowl and the covering scheme. Just changing the scheme might even be enough to sway me toward buying one, since they fly absolutely killer. I have seen the AJ competition scheme in person and it's nicer than this one. I don't know what the deal is with that cowl but it really bears no resemblance to the full scale Laser, although I'm sure it was an aerodynamic choice rather than an aesthetic one.
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Old 01-15-2016, 09:01 PM
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It's the white color that throws it off. Check out photos of the competition scheme version. The blue color follows the lines on the bottom and hides the squared-off look quite a bit.
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Old 01-15-2016, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyo69cowboy View Post
Nice review! I'm curious your actual weight with the DA70/canister, 32oz tank, vinyl trim, etc. Wondering if it stayed under 20lbs...
I keep forgetting to weigh it. I'd do it now for you, but I have the cowl off to check/fix a header leak. As Jones stated, it should be around/under 21. Regardless, this thing flies really nice and light. If I get the header fixed anytime soon, I'll post an AUW.

Quote:
Originally Posted by babathehutt View Post
There aren't many planes uglier than this one, but I think it really comes down to the shape of the front/underside of the cowl and the covering scheme. Just changing the scheme might even be enough to sway me toward buying one, since they fly absolutely killer. I have seen the AJ competition scheme in person and it's nicer than this one. I don't know what the deal is with that cowl but it really bears no resemblance to the full scale Laser, although I'm sure it was an aerodynamic choice rather than an aesthetic one.
Interesting, cuz most people like this scheme over comp scheme! But everyone has their own tastes, and that's what makes it interesting, right? I'm in final process of modding the scheme now. Actually just got my vinyl decals from B&E delivered today! I added the red stripe on top of the fuse, and came up with a wing scheme that allowed me to use what was already there. Just by splitting the red and adding some yellow stripes, it changes it quite nicely! I finished the wing covering mods over Christmas break. Took me about 3 days of 2-4 hours each. Below is my Photoshop mockup, see what you think!
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Last edited by Nikolei Zinsli; 01-15-2016 at 09:09 PM.
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