Ready to fly in minutes.
Attractive and tough canopy.
RTR version includes computer 2.4Ghz radio system.
Included servos are excellent.
manual for the installed gyro that was included. (Editors Note:
manual is available on the Heli-Max website)
Heli-Max has been in the model helicopter business for as long
as I can remember. I learned to fly on a Concept 30 back
in the 1980s and instead of training gear, I used a set of Heli-Max
30 sized floats to cushion my first few controlled crashes, I
Heli-Max, normally known for accessories and smaller
helicopters, have come out with a couple of larger helicopters
the past year or so to compete in the popular 450 electric class,
and even the 50 size nitro market. The Axe 400 is the same
size, and uses the same blades as the popular Trex 450 and
Thunder Tiger Mini Titan e325 helicopters.
The Heli-Max Axe 400 appears to be marketed towards the beginner
and intermediate level pilots and is available in two versions.
The first is a receiver ready version, which includes servos,
motor, speed controller, and a gyro. It is also available in
a RTF (ready to fly) version that comes complete with a 6 channel,
2.4 Ghz FAAST Futaba computer radio system. We will be testing
the the RTF setup that comes complete with a computer radio
system and very respectable S3114 servos.
AXE 400 RTF Mini Electric Helicopter (RTR
version) Price: $469.98 Main Rotor Span:
27.5 in (699 mm) Flying Weight as tested:
Included 325mm wood
blades Motor Used:
425 brushless out runner Gyro used: Included HM4000
heading lock gyro and S3314 servo Radio equipment:
Includes Futaba 6EX
FAAST and S3114 cyclic servos.
3S 2500 mah LiPo Battery
Suitable LiPo charger
8 AA batteries
you're a fan of my long and detailed build guide style reviews,
you're going to be disappointed. The entire assembly
process consisted of removing the contents from the box, installing 8 AA batteries in the
transmitter, a 3 cell LiPo battery in the helicopter, and
walking out side for a test flight.
Since this is a review though I followed procedure and unpacked the two included instruction manuals and
sat down to do a little bit of reading. First I read the
manual for the helicopter itself. It is typical of the
excellent manuals that come out of Hobbico and includes a great
deal of detailed information. In truth, if you don't plan
on doing anything else with the included radio, you can safely
skip the 6EX manual all together. All of the programming
is already completed and the AXE 400 is truly ready to fly out
of the box. Everything that you need to know about the
radio to fly the AXE is included in the helicopters manual.
I had only one issue with the included instructions. There
is no paper work included with the gyro. Also the gyro
switch location, while labeled on the transmitter, is not shown
in the otherwise detailed photographs and instructions for the
helicopter on page 5. The manual for the gyro is available
Heli-Max web site. I'm not certain it matters with
this gyro, but normally heading hold gyros like to be initialized
in heading hold which is the UP position of the gyro switch
(Channel 5). They mention that 45 percent gain in heading
hold works well on page 11 and that is exactly where I found
the gain set to in the radio. (It flew well but needed a
touch more gain for me)
Main rotor head
Battery tray and ESC
manual also includes detailed safety information, a parts break
down, upgrade listing, flying and troubleshooting tips. The
book also shows the proper lengths for the control linkages should
you find yourself in need or replacing any.
examination of the airframe reveals a bit of a hybrid. The
frame is a two piece molded cage that is similar in appearance to the Thunder
Tiger Mini-Titan. The head features an under-slung flybar and
trailing edge control arms on the main grips. This
configuration is similar to most of the
400 or 450 sized helicopters on the market. The swashplate
uses 120 degree CCPM for control and is equipped with three speedy
S3114 micro servos.
tail is driven by a belt and the tail case has a flanged
idler pulley for the belt to eliminate some of the problems
found on other designs. Belt tension should be just tight
enough so that the tail doesn't slip a tooth if you try to turn
the tail rotor while holding the head but no tighter. This will give maximum
flight time on your
battery and longest belt life.
3500 KV brushless motor
main gear mesh on my Axe 400 was perfect. I tested the gear
mesh by feeding a strip of notebook paper between the main and
pinion gears. The paper came out with a nice accordion
fold. You want to loosen the mesh a bit if it comes out
mangled or you will rob power from the helicopter or even melt
the main gear. If, on the other hand, it comes out wavy,
you should tighten it up a little bit or risk stripping the main
gear during hard power inputs.
checked over the radio programming and found everything to be
set up correctly and ready to go with one exception. The
idle up feature is disabled by default since the helicopter is
aimed at the beginner and intermediate market. This is
clearly explained in the manual and if you're an experienced
pilot it takes only a few seconds to
enable. Once enabled I found that idle up was set up
correctly as well.
Other than putting a few stickers on the
attractive canopy, the only steps left are to install the
batteries and go fly. Before we get ahead of ourselves
though, lets take a closer look at the radio system that's
packaged with the Axe 400 RTF.
Electri-Fly 2200 Mah LiPo
Ready to test out
SMC Volts 2200Mah LiPo
Transmitter and charger
Most radio systems bundled with ready to fly helicopters usually
aren't suitable for much else, some are barely suitable to fly
the plane or helicopter they came with. Not so Futaba 6EX
that comes with the AXE 400! The Ready To Fly version
includes a fully functional 6 channel 2.4Ghz computer radio and
6 channel receiver. I mean, this is a real radio! It
has 6 model memories, and on top of that it supports both
helicopter and aircraft programming. It is also has a
buddy box port that uses the Futaba small, square trainer cord.
included 6EX requires the use of 8 AA batteries but the fairly
low power consumption of the 2.4Ghz radios means that these
batteries will last for quite some time. I have well over
10 flights at this point and they are still going strong.
The transmitter has an external charge port but since the radio
comes with neither a transmitter NiCad or a receiver battery I
find it curious that it comes with a wall wart charger. I
suppose that you could purchase 8 of the rechargeable batteries
available at your favorite electronics retailer and charge them
through the external charge port. Check with any
instructions provided with the batteries you purchase before
trying to charge them in the transmitter however.
Moving around the transmitter we see that it includes a
programmable dual rate switch, a throttle hold, gyro gain, and
idle up switches. It also has a throttle cut button on the
face of the transmitter but those are usually used in fuel
powered helicopters and airplanes. Dual rate and
exponential are programmable for all three primary flight
The idle up feature is inhibited by default but can easily be
enabled by the pilot when he or she feels ready for aerobatics.
Here we come to one of the two limitations of the 6EX; it only
allows for one idle up flight mode. When pulled back to
what normally would be idle up 2 the switch is spring loaded
back to the center position. This is how you initiate the
trainer function of the 6EX. Many of us only use normal
and 1 idle up flight mode anyhow so this should present no real
problem for most beginner or intermediate pilots. The
availability of a viable trainer option more than makes up for
the loss of a flight mode.
The only other small limitation with the 6EX is the lack of
sub-trim for the swashplate servos. This is no problem for
most people because helicopter pilots are tinkerers by nature
and like to take the time to get our linkages perfect.
Electri-Fly 2200 Mah battery that is recommended in the
manual for 3D flight on hand from a previous review. I
installed the battery and adjusted it so that the helicopter
would hang skids level with the canopy installed. Installing
the canopy with the 2200Mah battery can be something of a chore
so make sure you don't break anything as it's a very tight fit.
With the helicopter balanced, I checked out the control throw in
both high rate and low rate and enabled idle up 1. During
pre-flight I was pleased to note that none of the ball links
needed cleaning out with a reamer, nor did they feel like they
were ready to pop off. I was anxious to get in to the air
so I took the AXE 400 for a couple of laps around my cul-de-sac.
The helicopter lifted into a stable hover and I checked out both
low and high rates. I purposely didn't put a pitch gauge
on the blades because I wanted to see if the stock settings were
good enough to fly the helicopter in both normal and idle up
modes as it came out of the box.
As I lifted into the AXE's first hover I noticed two things
right away. The first, the helicopter was almost perfectly
trimmed out. Taking the time to balance the helicopter
helps with minimizing trim. The second was that the blades were perfectly
in track. This may be the first plastic head helicopter
that I didn't have to fool with blade tracking on the first
The helicopter was stable but the tail seemed a bit mushy.
I landed and upped the gain 5 points and that felt more locked
in. I didn't have the room to fly it around backwards or
try any aerobatics but the controls were sensitive at high rate and
very docile at low rate; just the way I prefer them. I
flew the rest of the battery doing slow circuits and figure 8's,
and everything seemed to be going well. I subjected the
AXE 400 to a thorough post flight inspection looking for any
loose fasteners or dust that would indicate a problem.
Everything looked good so the next day it was off to the field.
contacted my regular test pilot, Bobby Smith at RREModels and
asked him if he had any battery suggestions that would be easier
for getting the canopy on. He sent me a SMC
Lightning Volts 2200Mah 25C LiPo to try out. It's
lower profile fit well under the canopy and the battery
performed very well in the helicopter.
With the helicopter in idle up, and a little bit of tweaking on
the rates to suit my flying style, I had the AXE 400 flying
around very well. The gyro is a bit modest for anything
fast backwards, but it holds well enough to do basic aerobatics
and mild 3D such as 540 stall turns, elevator and aileron tic-tocs,
loops and rolls.
Flying in low rate the helicopter is smooth and predictable.
Training with this helicopter should not present any problems or
surprises. A problem I find with some cheaper helicopters
is that gyro performance degrades as the battery voltage drops.
With the AXE 400 I observed consistent tail rotor holding
throughout the battery pack.
Tail slides and backwards loops usually resulted in a tail blow
out and when I increased the gyro gain much over 53 percent I
got a pretty significant tail wag in forward flight.
Backwards circuits at medium speeds are no problem, and the
stock set up has plenty of control throw without bogging down
If you're looking for an electric
helicopter that you can unpack, install batteries, and go
flying, then the AXE 400 should be given serious consideration.
If you are starting out, the included radio is a definite step
up above the radio systems packaged with many helicopter combo
deals. The Futaba 6EX will fly any electric helicopter and
also supports fixed wing programming. The 2.4Ghz FAAST
system will free you from both the pin board at the local flying
field, and worries about accidental shoot downs at parks or
I was impressed by the fact
that I didn't have hardly any tweaking to do to go from box to
basic aerobatics. Most of the changes I made were to suit
my personal tastes; the helicopter flew just fine right out of
Simulators have come a long way
but the best way to improve your flying is to fly. While
there are some upgrades available for the AXE, I would recommend
buying a few batteries and passing on the metal parts.
Even a seasoned pilot will
appreciate the ability to fly a few packs at lunch time or after
work. I've found this goes a long way to help keep the
flying skills sharp. A small electric helicopter like the
AXE 400 makes that possible in places one of my large nitro
helicopter might be, shall we say, less than appreciated.
The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.