Ares RC – CrossFire High Performance Racing Quad

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Firelands Brands has a lot going on. Quads of all shapes and sizes, helicopters, surface vehicles, and several fixed wing aircraft as well! Ares RC, the group within Firelands that handles their aircraft, has enjoyed a lot of success over the last few years – they have come up with new and interesting ideas for products that modelers want! Ares has brought to market a high performance FPV racing quad that comes pre-assembled and nearly ready to fly. Simply install your receiver, program the quad’s flight control board (easier than it sounds), install the included 3S 2200 mAh LiPo flight battery, and you’re ready to have some fun! Interested? Read on to see if this is the FPV racing machine for you!

Specifications

Available at:   ares-rc.com and Hobbytown Stores

Price:   $299.99

Size:   280 mm

Weight:   560 g with flight battery

ESCs: 4 x 12Amp Continuous, 15Amp Peak ONE-SHOT Enabled Programming

Camera: Semi Wide-Angle Lens, 720P Camera

Video Transmitter: 200mW (US Version) 40-Channel on 5-bands

Video Antenna: Protected Cloverleaf  – Circular Polarized

Propellers:   6″ x 4.5″ CW and CCW

Battery:   3S 2200 mAh 25C LiPo (Included)

Flight Time:   5 to 7 Minutes Average

First Look

The CrossFire arrived in a sturdy box with a fiberboard insert that kept its contents safe during transit. The box will also double as a carrying case if you remove the propellers. The CrossFire includes nearly everything you’ll need to get it airborne.

The quad comes out of the box fully assembled, minus the props, making it easy to get in the air quickly! With the plastic body removed, I got my first look at the carbon fiber and composite construction. For the first time, I was seeing just how much ‘stuff’ was packed into these quads! There’s a lot that goes into making these FPV racers fly! Though Ares only sent one set of props, they appear to be quite durable. the 6″x4.5″ props are a standard size that can be replaced easily, should you break one or two while flying. It’s probably a good idea to have spares on hand, especially if you’re going to be running the CrossFire hard!

Ares has made setup practically fool-proof by labeling all the connectors – the single wire connectors will get plugged into the signal pins of your receiver. There’s one three wire connector that will be connected to the aileron port on your receiver – this connector will provide power to the receiver.

A semi-wide angle, 720P, FPV camera is pre-installed in the CrossFire, and can be set in 6 different positions to suit your type of flying. I left the camera set in its default position. At the other end of the camera is the 200 milliWatt video transmitter – it sports 40 channels on 5 bands, making it easy to race several quads without being on the same channel. the small gold colored button allows the pilot to change the band and channel settings.  One item to note – NEVER POWER UP THE QUAD WITHOUT THE TRANSMITTER’S ANTENNA ATTACHED! Doing so will damage the transmitter!

A 3S 2200 mAh LiPo flight battery, as well as a USB programming cable, and tools are included to make setup easy. Well done, Ares!

As I said earlier, there’s a lot packed into a small area in the quad – What you’re looking at here is four ESCs, the flight control board, the power distribution board, and the video transmitter. Not bad for a 2″x2″x3″ space! The booms and landing gear are carbon fiber, connected by composite parts. I really like the motor guards – these should provide some protection against racing gates and other collisions. Believe me – if you’re going to race, you’re going to be colliding with something! The carbon fiber plates that make up the center pod not only look great, but they provide a strong foundation for the quad.

Even the battery strap is pre-installed! The large slot in the frame allows the flight battery to be ‘buried’ in the quad – this will help protect the battery! A standard T-style battery connector is pre-installed, making the CrossFire compatible with many popular brands of LiPo batteries. The lightweight, colorful body is available in four different colors (Blue, Lime Green, Orange, and Red) , allowing racers to fly together without confusion!

The protected cloverleaf antenna is compact, which helps keep the CrossFire’s profile small. You can see that the four ESCs are connected to the flight control board – this photo also gives you another look at how tightly packed all the equipment is – there’s not much space that’s not utilized!

Equipment Used for Completion

To complete the Ares CrossFire, I used my Hitec Flash 7 2.4 gHz Transmitter and a Hitec Optima 6 2.4 gHz Reveiver. Hitec is one of the three brands that are included in the Quick-Start Guide and the online complete manual.

For this review, Ares didn’t supply an FPV monitor, so I used my own. I was in the market to buy a monitor anyway, so I purchased this Eachine monitor through Amazon. It’s a 7″ monitor, and features a built-in LiPo battery and DVR! This unit cost me approximately $135.00, without a micro SD card or tripod. Since I had those two items already, I was set!

Manual

Speaking of the Quick-Start Guide, here it is. There’s a brief description of how to set up the quad and radio system. If you’re just getting into FPV racing quads, like I am, you’re going to want the full manual. The full manual is available as a download from Ares’ website. In addition to the downloadable manual, there’s several videos on this page to help you with parts replacement (if ever needed) as well as setting up your CrossFire with Hitec, Futaba, or Spektrum transmitters.

Download the full manual Here.

Assembly

Assembly consisted of installing my Hitec Optima 6 receiver. As I mentioned, all of the wiring is labeled, so it was easy to set up! A small piece of adhesive-backed Velcro secured the receiver to the quad. Due to the CrossFire’s body, an ‘end pin’ receiver like the optima 6 is required. The body will not fit if you use a receiver with connectors on the top face. I secured the Optima 6’s antenna to the frame with a pair of zip ties. Carbon fiber has been known to cause interference, so I made sure that the actual antenna portion was clear of the frame.

Setting up my transmitter for the CrossFire was easy – acro airplane, single aileron servo, and a ‘normal’ tail are the only setting required!

Programming 

Programming the CrossFire will require a computer. I’m a PC guy, so the CleanFlight app was available in the Google Play store. It was a free app, and downloading was simple! The instructions also say that CleanFlight is available via Safari for Mac users. For this install, I’ll be using my Toshiba laptop.

After downloading CleanFlight, I turned on my transmitter and connected the CrossFire to my laptop.  At this time, the flight battery is not connected, and the PROPELLERS MUST NOT BE INSTALLED!

The CrossFire was now connected to the app, so setup was a matter of following the recommended setup in the instruction manual. Programming took approximately 10 minutes!

With programming complete, I installed the props – that completed the assembly and setup, and the CrossFire was ready to fly!

To ready the CrossFire for flight, it must be armed. Arming is done by placing the quad on a level surface and moving the left stick (MODE 2) to the lower right corner of the gimbal until a series of beeps is heard (one full beep and a half beep).

When done flying, the CrossFire is disarmed by moving the left stick (MODE2) to the lower left corner of the gimbal until two full beeps are heard. At that point, the quad is disarmed, and the props will not power up, even if the throttle is accidentally bumped!

Photo Shoot

Flight Report

My buddy Jim Buzzeo and I couldn’t have asked for a better day to fly quads! It was a great fall day in Minnesota – this particular Saturday, the wind was less than 5 MPH, temperature was in the mid 60’s, and the sun was shining brightly! As I said, it was a beautiful day!

We set up a small race course – I had made 5 ‘gates’ from dollar store pool noodles. 1″ PVC pipes, 1″ 90° PVC elbows, and some dowels. The dowels were ground to a point on one end, and sanded to fit inside the PVC pipes. The dowels were pounded into the ground, and the PVC pipes were slid over the dowels. I looked into purchasing ready-made racing gates, but the ranged in price from $40.00 to over $100.00! I spent a total of $53.00 to make all 5 of these gates – You’ll see them in just a minute!

The CrossFire has two flying modes, which are controlled from the transmitter – Acro (3-Axis) and Self level (6-Axis) gyro selections. Flying in the Self level mode was easy, and allowed the CrossFire to return to a hover if the right stick (MODE 2) was released. In the Acro mode, the CrossFire became a very agile racing quad! For the purposes of this review, and the video footage, we left the CrossFire mainly in self-level mode.

From the moment the CrossFire took off, Jim and I really enjoyed flying it. However, we learned very quickly just how easy the professional quad pilots make it look to actually FLY THROUGH A GATE! We had a heck of a time flying the simple course we had set up on our flying field. Thankfully, the CrossFire and its propellers are EXTREMLY durable! I think we spent more time flyint into the gate than flying through! Now, a larger gate would make it easier – I kept them to the length and with of the dollar store pool noodles. In the future, I will probably make larger gates!

Through out the multiple flights we made with the CrossFire, we really enjoyed the stable flight characteristics, and really had fun flying FPV. For both Jim and myself, it was the first time we had flown FPV! As an avid modeler of nearly 25 years, I cannot even begin to tell you how hard it was to keep my eyes on the FPV monitor – the first lesson I was taught as a budding RC pilot was to never look away from my plane. Now here I was trying to force myself to do exactly the opposite of 25 years of conditioning. Jim had the same trouble concentrating on the monitor, but after 10 minutes of practice it was a lot easier! At times, it was difficult to keep orientation while flying, so it was good to have a second set of eyes actually watching the quad.

All I can say is I’m thankful that the video transmitter antenna is tucked in close to the quad, and the quad itself is extremely durable! We had a blast flying it, but it sure took a lot of abuse – after colliding with a gate or dropping it to the ground, we’d simply turn the quad right side up and it would fly again! I was pleasantly surprised by the CrossFire’s durability!

Our first day out the CrossFire, we burned through 7 battery packs learning to fly FPV, trying to fly the course, and through the gates – all the while we were having an absolute blast! With flight times averaging 5-7 minutes each, we got in a lot of flying, and felt way more comfortable with a lot of spent batteries! Don’t worry – in the last photo, that’s a sticker flying off a pool noodle!

Check out the video below – some of the video is from my camera and some is from the DVR on my monitor. Enjoy!

Summary

Over all, I was quite pleased with the CrossFire – assembly and programming were simple, the quad flew very well, and it was extremely durable! Whether you’re just starting out in quad flight or an expert FPV racer, the Ares RC CrossFire will appeal to everyone! I’m pretty sure that I’ll be flying the CrossFire for a long time to come – Well done, Ares!

 

 

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