The first surprise came at the first initialization. The quadcopter would refuse to start. After a few minutes of fiddling with the switches and throttle, we figured it out: the throttle must be brought just above 50% and then paused until the motors start. This is indicated in the manual. So once again, the manual is your friend…
The battery must be connected with the Voltage 500 3D on an horizontal and flat surface, so all the sensors can calibrate. Once the melody has been heard, the flight mode can be selected (3D or stability), and the stick must be advanced to half-throttle or just above. The motors will start spinning within a few seconds. They increase and then slow down to idle. It is not immediate, so don’t be impatient, don’t push the stick too soon, or it will reset.
Right upon take off, the good character of the beast could be felt. In stability mode, the Voltage 500 3D hovers with ease. In this mode, the maximum bank is limited to around 45 degrees, so the accelerations are under control, and there is no chance to bring the aircraft upside down by mistake.
The Voltage 500 3D is really easy to maneuver in the stability mode. The quad feels docile under the stick, and comes back to a stable hover if the stick is centered.
Once the stability mode confirms the good temper of the Voltage 500 3D, it was time to unleash the little monster and see it fly to its fullest capability. The mode selection switch was flipped to 3D, and the quad was brought up to some altitude to try to flip it upside down. The maneuver feels very natural for anyone used to fly 3D helicopters. The controls are the same, only the response of the quadcopter is a bit different. The inversion of the rotation creates a zone with minimal thrust in the middle of the range. Once that transition is complete, the Voltage 500 3D feels once again crisp on all controls. This is very different from a 3D helicopter, in which the pitch is reversed but the direction rotation stays the same. The thrust reversion is much faster. The thrust is there and abundant, making the longer Rainbow maneuver easily achievable. The model is very capable and powerful, and any maneuver that does not require an immediate thrust inversion can be completed.
The seasoned 3D helicopter pilot will find in this quad a new territory to explore. Only, the pilot has to adjust to this one visual clue missing: the tail! This element is extremely useful to keep track of the orientation of the aircraft, and it takes time and practice to adjust to this absence.
Helimax tried to compensate by adding other visual clues, such as the bright red canopy towards the front versus the black rear end. The propellers and the landing skids were also made of a different colors. The differences exist, but the pilot will have to learn to use them to follow the Voltage 500 3D in all of its intricate 3D maneuvers.
The 14SG we used is not modified for a helicopter, and still has the ratchet on the throttle stick. The Voltage 500 3D would be happier without it, as often the stable rotation spin is between two steps of the ratchet.
We decided to add a colored-smoke generator under the Voltage 500 3D, as a good visual indicator of the direction or rotation for the propellers in flight. The video below shows the result.