Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Joysway Orion


The Joysway Orion is another departure, being a sailboat. Or, as those in the hobby put it, an rc model yacht. If you're not familiar with such, you might want to read my introduction to it.

The Orion

According to my research, smaller boats have been getting better in recent years. So much so that boats that would have previously been dismissed as poor sailors based solely on size are now very popular, and have standardized classes for international racing.

The Orion isn't a class compliant boat, though there is a class of it's size (the Micro Magic Class). It shares components with a very popular, though larger, class compliant boat from Joysway. It's the smallest RTS hobby-grade boat I could find, and the largest RTS boat that comes with the sales already rigged.

Unfortunately, I didn't save a picture of it in the box, or the box, and vendors don't seem to have such either. So here's the thing fully rigged, sitting on it's stand on my wall mounts:


Length: 465mm
Beam: 150mm
Mast: 634mm
Height: 920mm
Weight: 950g
Sail area: 11.17 square dm
Battery: 4AA
Run time: 6 hours+

Quality issues

The quality isn't up to what I'm used to from Horizon Hobby. Much better than the toy companies turned hobby companies, but still disappointing overall.


I was disappointed with the packaging. A stand is included, but needs to be assembled. The tubes of the stand had come free during shipping, and the ends were rubbing against the hull.

Other than that, it was nicely packed in styrofoam, with everything on one side. It did have a big plastic window to display the boat, but if you're going to sell it pre-rigged, you might as well show that off.

Fit and finish

As stated, it's not up to the better hobby grade craft I'm used to. The decals don't line up quite right, and aren't sticking down. The sheet servo needed adjustment to quiet it down, and the rudder wasn't properly aligned.

After fixing that the sheet lines also needing tuning, and I'm not sure if that was true before I adjusted the servos or not.

The stand

The stand is black plastic that just push fits together. While it does fit together easily, there were only rods for one side of the stand. I'm not sure I trust the results. However, the rods have a 12mm diameter, and things like knitting needles or the cardboard tubes that come on clothes hangers from the dry cleaner fit nicely in them, providing some extra stability. However, if you put in two top tubes, the ballast is a very tight fit through them.

The important bits

So let's consider the things you actually take to the pond with you.

The boat

It came out of the box, and the rudder and keel went on easily enough.

The issue with the sheet servo meant I detuned it before getting it in the water, so I really have no idea how it sails out of the box. Since this is my first boat, I'm still figuring out how to get it tuned properly. See my introduction to RC yachting for information about that.

Except for the poor alignment of the decals, I like the looks of the boat. The crimson and cream, uh, red and white color scheme is a favorite. It looks nice and slick, and is very pretty running wing-and-wing.

The hatch covers are another sore point. They are just flat plastic with some stickum to keep them in place. They fall of easily. So much so that a roll of hatch tape is included with the boat. As a result, I lost one of the two hatch covers before ever getting the boat in the water. Not a good sign. However, 2" (or 50mm) wide electricians tape will cover the hatches nicely, and stays put well. I like the looks of that better than of a hatch cover with hatch tape on it, so use that in preference to the hatch cover I still have. If I ever find a roll that matches the red of the hull, it'll be even better.

That there are two hatches on either side of the mast and keel attachments is also a bit of a problem. The two hatches are just a bit narrow for working in, and getting the battery and other components in and out isn't as easy as I'd like.

Nice touches include a drain plug at the rear, though I've never found any water to drain out after sailing. The external power switch is also good, though my understanding is that slide switches such as the one in the yacht have reliability problems in yachts. Since the usual fix is a waterproof switch in a hatch cover, a failure could create an interesting problem.

The transmitter

No review of mine would be complete without talking about the transmitter, if one was included. One was, and it's unlike any Tx I've look at before. A relatively thin rectangle with two sticks, four trims and a power switch. No LCD, no rates, no nothing. At least the gimbals have a nice feel.

However, the Orion is large enough that you can easily drop in an aircraft receiver, and use your favorite radio. I've done that so I can get battery telemetry information, and not lose control of the boat in the middle of the pond. While not as nasty as doing that with an aircraft, it's still undesirable.

This also means I can reverse the throttle, so that moving the throttle out will sheet out, which I find more natural than the other way around. I also set up dual rates on the rudder, as full throw is about 60°, which makes the rudder more of a brake than a steering mechanism. I also set up a power switch, though I don't sail well enough to make use of it yet.

Other tweaks

As well as changing the receivers, I've swapped the battery holder - designed for four AA's - out for a 2S LifePo4 battery. It goes through the batteries fast enough that I'd rather not buy a fresh set every use. However, rechargeable NiCD or NiMH AA batteries don't have quite enough power to work well, or for very long, unless you go to a 5 pack. The LifePo4 is a lot smaller an lighter as well as having plenty of power.

Finally, I filled the bow of the boat with parts of a cut-up pool noodle. This stuff floats, and my understanding is that it'll keep the boat from sinking should I have a serious problem.


I'm happy with it. It's more than served it's purpose, which was as an introduction to the hobby. A larger boat might have made the tuning issues I'm having easier, but it would have cost more, been harder to move around, and taken more space on the wall. Now that I have a better idea of what I'd like to get from the hobby, as well as how to judge things, I'm set to pick a second boat!

However, it does require a lot more tweaking and modding than a typical entry-level aircraft, especially something sold as a drone. Nothing I found extreme, and I'm not much of a modder. But if you just want something to take out and sail - this may not be the hobby for you.

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