So you’re into FPV multi-rotor racing, and you’re ready to move past a basic quad. What do you do? You’re ready for a fast and responsive racer that’s capable of winning races – nimble in the corners and extreme speed on the straightaway – you need the X:Bolt 250 from Ares RC! Looking to pick up a quad that’ll get you to the winner’s podium? Read on to find out if the X:Bolt 250 is right for you!
Name: Ares RC – X:Bolt 250
Availability: Online and HobbyTown USA Stores
Frame: Carbon Fiber
Height: 53 mm
Width: 228.6 mm
Length: 203.2 mm
Diagonal Dimension: 260 mm
ESC: 4 x 18Amp
Motor: 4 x 2206-2250kV
Props: 5×4.5 (Stock) 6×4.5 (Optional)
Flight Controller: Naze 32 – 32 Bit Processor
Camera: 600TVL – 100° wide angle lens
FPV Transmitter: 200 mW, 32 channels
Equipment Required (NOT Included)
3S-4S 2200mAh LiPo Battery and LiPo Charger
6 Channel (Minimum) Transmitter and Receiver
FPV Monitor or Goggles and Support Equipment
Metric Allen Wrench Set
Soldering Iron with Small Iron Head
Electrical Solder and Flux
Lap Top or PC and USB to Micro USB cable
The X:Bolt 250 arrived in a nice box that will double as a carrying case once the quad has been built. I say ‘built’ because this one comes as a kit that must be put together. Inside the big box, I found four smaller boxes with all the individual components.
The largest of the smaller boxes contained the frame pieces and the Hardware box. Inside the Hardware box, I found all of the nuts, bolt, etc. that I would need to build the X:Bolt 250. I really liked that Ares had all the pieces bagged and labeled – this made building the quad pretty simple!
The next box I opened contained the electronics – it held the four 18Amp ESCs, Power Distribution Board (PDB), Flight Controller Board (FCB), and all of the pins and wiring accessories.
The props and motors, along with the propeller mounts were in the Motor System box.
The last box contained the Camera and FPV system. I love that all of these parts were individually packed to keep everything secure during shipping!
Equipment Used for Completion
From the ground, I will be using my Hitec Flash 7 2.4 gHz Transmitter. I LOVE this transmitter – it’s easy to program and works very well! Controlling the X:Bolt 250 will be handled by the Hitec Optima 9 2.4 gHz 9-Channel Receiver. The dual BODA antennas provide great reception in any type of flying model!
Though not included with the X:Bolt, I will be using Ares’ own 3S 2200 mAh LiPo battery. This one came with the Ares CrossFire quad, which I have previously reviewed right here on RCUniverse.com!
Ares has three of their own FPV monitors available through their website and HobbyTown Stores, but none of them were included with my review quad. Thankfully, I had purchased my own for my review of the Ares RC CrossFire FPV quad, so I used the same one for this review. My monitor is from EACHINE, and features a 7″ screen with built-in LiPo battery and DVR!
Ares has some really nice accessories to go along with their Z-line quads and monitors. From protected cloverleaf transmitter and receiver antennas, to High-gain patch antennas, and even an A/C Charger – they’ve got the stuff you’ll need!
A quick start guide is included in the box, but it is definitely NOT an assembly manual – the complete assembly manual is available on Ares’ website. I downloaded the assembly manual onto my tablet (It looks like a laptop, but it’s just a keyboard case), which proved to work well for me!
Click Here for the downloadable assembly manual.
Assembly began with attaching several items to the base plate of the frame. The Power Distribution Board (PDB) is placed on plastic washers to keep it slightly spaced from the frame. The aluminum and plastic spacers were installed according to the instructions. Reviewer’s Note: I used blue thread locking compound on all of the metal to metal screw connections. The Last image shows the lower FPV camera mount, which is printed on a 3D printer. Reviewer’s Note: The 3 x 6mm button-head screws used in the first step are too short – you will need to replace these with 3 x 10 mm button-head screws. I found them at my local hardware store (Menards has them, if you live in the midwest section of the US.)
The FPV camera lens was removed from the camera and fed through the camera mount. At this point, the carbon fiber mount was attached to the lower 3D printed mount on the lower frame.
I attached the four 10 mm aluminum spacers to the middle frame plate, along with the top half of the 3D printed battery plug holder. With the longer 10 mm screws installed in the first step, this was an easy task!
This next part wasn’t very clear in the instructions, so I’m going to make sure it’s clear here. The 18-pin (three rows of six pins) connector is soldered in place so that it looks like the first photo above – the four ESCs will connect to these pins. The 10-pin connector (two rows of five pins) is slipped over the EDGE of the Flight Control Board (FCB), and each of the 10 pins is soldered to a pad on the FCB – There are 5 pads on each side of the board. Solder quickly so you do not melt the black plastic pin holder! The 10-pin wire harness is connected to the 10-pin connector. connect the harness so that the WHITE WIRE is connected to the pin labeled #1.
From the included 2-wire connector, I cut 2-1/2″ from each of the black and red wires. the remaining wire and connector was soldered to the PDB as shown in the third photo in this set. This connector will be attached to the FPV transmitter at a later point.
The long, red 5-wire harness was then connected to the back of the camera. After cutting the 4″ battery wire into two equal 2″ lengths, they were soldered to the positive and negative pads on the PDB – I’ll add the T-Plug (Deans connector) in a bit.
Before attaching the motors to their respective arms, I used a small file to round off the sharp edges of the hole through which the motor wires will pass. When sufficiently rounded so as to not cut the wiring, I slid the motor wires through the hole and attached the motor to the arm with four button-head screws.The propeller adapters were then attached to the motors. I used blue thread locking compound on all the screws in this step.
The manual gives the modeler an option at this point: intermediate assembly or expert assembly. The intermediate assembly allows the modeler to solder the ESC wires to the motor wires, while the expert assembly allows the modeler to remove the ESC wires and solder the motor wires directly to the ESC – I chose the expert assembly. It tidies up the installation a bit, and removes excess wiring from the quad. The four arms and ESCs were laid out, as well as connecting the FPVtransmitter to the power and signal wiring connectors. I also soldered the T-Plug to the power wires on the PDB, and soldered the ESC power wires to the PDB.
The 2-1/2″ wires I cut in an earlier step were now used to connect the FCB to the PDB. I also pulled all of the ESC power wires through the FCB opening in the middle frame plate, which was now set in place and secured loosely. The four motor arms were then secured between the lower and middle frame plates. It’s a little tricky to get the spacers and washers all in place, but it wasn’t too difficult! This allows the quad’s motor arms to swing into the frame, which makes it more compact for travelling and storage. The FPV transmitter wiring was pulled through the frame plates and readied for permanent installation of the transmitter.
Using the included heat shrink, I wrapped the FPV transmitter – I cut the heat shrink a little shorter, which allowed me better access to the wiring connectors. I attached the four ESC connectors to the FCB pins and secured the FCB with four plastic nuts. The FPV transmitter was held in place with a small piece of foam rubber and a Zip-Tie. When connecting the four ESC plugs to the FCB, follow this pattern: with the board facing away from you (front of quad away) The order from right to left is LF, LR, RF, RR.
The top frame plate and video camera mount were installed, along with the battery strap. I added a piece of Velcro to the battery mount to help secure the battery – if this quad is as fast as it looks, the strap will need a little extra help to keep the battery in place!
Because I was not installing an extra video camera on the X:Bolt, I chose to put my Hitec Optima 9 receiver up on the camera mount. If you will be using a Spektrum satellite receiver, it will get connected directly to the FCB, eliminating the 10-pin wire harness and an external receiver. I love using my Hitec Flash 7 every chance I get, so I’ll be using an Optima 9 instead of a satellite receiver.
When using the 10-pin connector and wiring harness, here’s the layout (see two photos above) for connecting to your Hitec (or Futaba) receiver.
With that completed, the X:Bolt was ready for programming! Using my Laptop and a USB to Micro USB cable, I programmed the NAZE 32 Flight Control Board using the same parameters as the Ares RC CrossFire Quad. The program I used was CleanFlight, and it’s pretty easy to use. Follow the steps outlined in the CrossFire Quad Instruction Manual, and you’ll be ready to fly in no time! A word of warning – the program doesn’t always work perfectly the first time. You may need to attempt the programming a few times before it connects and accepts the programming. This, I believe, is not a fault of the hardware, but rather an interface issue. Be patient – it’ll work!
After what seemed like a month of bad weekends, we finally had a perfect day to fly the X:Bolt 250! After setting up a short race course with some home-made gates, we (my video pilot Jim Buzzeo and myself) set out to have some fun! After a nice takeoff, we cleared the first gate easily, but found out quickly that FPV flying is not as easy as it looks! We tried and tried to hit the gates – unfortunately, about 5 minutes into the first flight, that’s exactly what happened! I hit the gate very hard, which caused the quad to fall to the ground. I broke a propeller, so we were done flying for the day.
I found some very inexpensive prop sets online, so I ordered 10 sets for the X:Bolt – this way, I won’t lose another flying day to a broken prop. When the new props arrived (A combination of neon green and black props), I installed a new set and waited for a good day to fly again! This time, I only had to wait about a week, so I met Jim at the field again to get some photo and video footage. This time, we decided to not fly a course, rather we focused on finding out the performance limits of the quad.
As much fun as Jim and I had trying to run a race course, we had even more fun simply flying the quad – both by FPV and line of sight, we were equally impressed by the agility and speed of the X:Bolt 250. This quad really moves! From a dead stop, sitting on the ground, we hit the throttle hard and tried to go forward at the same time – the X:Bolt jumped about 20 feet into the air before I could get my camera on it and it sped away as though it were shot from a rifle – this thing is FAST!
I loved how reactive the X:Bolt was as well – it did exactly as I wanted it to do – no hesitation! In forward flight, it flew a lot like an airplane, pitching and rolling as if it had wings – I was having a TON of fun!
When flying FPV, the quad’s propellers are not visible at all on the screen. This allowed the field of view to be wide open with no distraction. My FPV monitor has a built-in DVR, so I was able to get video footage directly from the FPV camera – it was really cool, and I’ve added some in-flight video footage to my video!
The X:Bolt 250 uses a 3S 2200 mAh LiPo battery, and I have approximately 10 of these fairly common batteries. This allowed me to put the quad through a number of flights without waiting to recharge! As a result, both Jim and I were able to get a real ‘feel’ for flying in short order. Each of the batteries lasted approximately 5-7 minutes, which was a mixture of flat out speed as well as slower flight.
With a bunch of spent batteries and a good day’s flying done, we both were pleased with how well the X:Bolt 250 performed!
Check out the video to see the X:Bolt 250 in action!
I really enjoyed every aspect of this review. This was my first ever ‘build it yourself’ quad – to have such a high performance quad work very well was really cool! The downloadable instructions only had a couple of spots where more info could have been added, but I was able to reach out to Ares’ tech support for help – they were awesome! Flying this quad is nothing short of all-out fun! Sure, it can be hard for a newcomer to fly through a racing gate, but I had a lot of fun just cranking the X:Bolt around in the sky! Whether you’re looking for a fast and agile racing quad, or something to go out and fly around for a lot of fun, the X:Bolt 250 will fill your need for speed! -GB