The ParkZone™ Vapor is an R/C electric micro-sized airplane distributed by ParkZone under the Etomic line. It is available as a ready-to-fly kit that includes a small 2.4GHz DSM2 3-channel radio, or as a Bind-N-Fly kit that includes only the airplane. Both versions come with a 70mAh 3.7V lipo, charger, and AA batteries.
The Vapor is primarily constructed of thin pieces of carbon fiber rod with a PET skin on the wing and tail surfaces. The fuselage holds the motor, battery, and brick, which provides control through the DSM2 receiver, 2 servos, and ESC. Carbon fiber pushrods attach to the tail surfaces with small control horns and provide elevator and rudder control. The battery mount is movable for and aft to adjust the center of gravity, and attaches to the battery with Velcro. Springy CF landing gear include two tiny foam tires, and a very thin, curved wire tail skid allow take-offs and landings from the ground.
The Vapor is primarily designed for slow indoor flight, and is an excellent performer in this regard. It is capable of high-alpha flight at very low speeds and can turn rapidly, enabling flight in confined spaces. The flying weight of 15g makes the Vapor highly responsive to throttle and control inputs, and the low mass prevents damage in most crashes. The low weight also makes the Vapor sensitive to wind, including currents from air conditioning. Outdoor flight is possible only in dead-calm conditions.
ParkZone Vapor specifications
- Wingspan: 14.75" (375mm)
- Overall length: 15.25" (387mm)
- Flying weight: .53 oz (15 g)
- Radio: Any 2.4 GHz DSM2 with three proportional channels for elevator, rudder, and throttle
- Battery: 3.7V 70mAh single-cell lipo (charger included)
- Approximate flying duration: 10-15 minutes
- Catalog number: PKZ3300 (RTF) and PKZ3380 (BNF)
- Brick: 3.25g
- Motor/Gearbox: 2.2g, 6mm, 3ohm, 6:1
- 70 mAh LiPo: 2.2g
- Prop and Spinner: .9g + .3g, 140mm x 45mm (5.5in x 1.8in)
Most Vapor modifications center on weight reduction. Even relatively minor changes in weight can make a noticeable difference in flight performance. The stock Vapor has a thrust-to-weight ratio of about 1:1, so weight reduction allows for much easier 3D maneuvers and extends flying time.
Wing Rib Removal
The plastic supports under the wing ribs can be removed to reduce weight considerably. This modification somewhat weakens the wing structure, but does not violate the integrity of the design.
Carbon Fiber Prop
This modification is fairly expensive, but can help reduce weight when other methods have been exhausted. The props are available from Air Midi Micros.
Minor Parts Removal
Several parts can be removed easily, sometimes without damage to the part. The landing gear, tail skid, and spinner are easily removed and can result in large weight savings. Excess glue can be removed from the brick to reduce weight as well.
The plastic battery holder can be removed and replaced with a small piece of tape or tiny magnets. Depending on the method used, the ability to move the battery fore and aft for CG adjustment may be lost. This reduces weight and provides a more secure battery mount. The battery tray can also be flipped 180deg onto the top of the fuselage frame. This prevents the battery from falling off the Velcro under normal flight conditions, though the battery will not slide back as far when mounted this way.
A second wing can be attached to the airframe to create a Vapor Biplane. This adds a significant amount of weight, but gives the Vapor an entirely different look and makes it fly slower. A spare horizontal stabilizer can also be used as a smaller secondary wing.
The 110mAh lipo from the Blade mCX is a drop-in replacement for the stock 70mAh battery. It's about 1.1g heavier which results in slightly less aerobatic ability, but much longer flight times. The Tenergy 130mAh is similar, offering even longer flight times and a slight effect on flight performance. Aftermarket batteries are available from several online vendors.
The original box can be modified to provide easier access and less likelihood of damage if the Vapor is not properly seated. Tape both ends shut and cut the front of the box on three sides, leaving the forth as a hinge. This creates a much larger opening for access and does not require the foam insert to be removed. A small tab can be added to one side to help keep the top closed, or a piece of tape will also suffice. Pairs of small magnets can be used to create a more finished look.
The servo rods can be moved to the holes closest to the control surfaces to create more movement at full reflex. This makes the Vapor very twitchy and more difficult to fly, but allows tighter turns and loops. It is also possible to fly the Vapor inverted due to the increase in control throw for the elevator. Carefully bend the servo rods and wire ends until the end of the wire comes loose from the control horn. Insert it into the bottom hole and verify smooth movement before flight. Perform these steps slowly and use care when holding the Vapor so as to avoid breaking the servo rods or other parts.
The stock graphics can be carefully removed with rubbing alcohol. New graphics can be added with colored Sharpie markers.
Wing Flex Mod
A piece of fine thread or floss can be tied to the wing ribs to help prevent wing flex during loops or tight turns. Simply tie the string to one wing rib, pass it under the fuselage making sure it doesn't interfere with the servos, and tie it to the other wing rib.
A multi-lipo pigtail can be made to allow charging on full-size lipo chargers. Some of the more advanced chargers will charge the small lipos at a slower rate that will extend the life of the lipos. FMA released a custom pigtail for their popular line of chargers.