Gone are the days when it took thousands of dollars and a
mechanical engineering degree to get in to R/C helicopters.
Modern electronics are getting smaller every day, and models not
much bigger than a key chain are becoming practical.
Revell, whose plastic models I built for many years as a
youngster, has introduced several R/C models over the last
several years, the latest of which is the fixed pitch, ready to
fly, Proto Max electric helicopter. Fixed pitch
helicopters in general are both less complicated, and somewhat
easier to fly than their collective pitch counterparts.
recently received their newest offering for review, the Proto
Max 2.4Ghz RTF helicopter. The Proto Max includes
everything you need to get in the air fast, so lets not waste
any time and get started!
Revell Proto Max RTF Helicopter Price: $99.98 Main Rotor Span: 7.5" (190mm) Flying Weight as tested: 1oz
(28g) Battery used: Included LiPo Radio equipment: Included
I LOVE this!
box arrived with out a scratch. The contents were well protected
and include everything you need to get in to the air. When
I say everything, Revell has even included the 4 double A
batteries that power the dual purpose transmitter. The
radio system is dual purpose because while the included 2.4ghz
transmitter is what you use to fly the model, it also functions
as a charging station for the included LiPo flight battery.
In addition to the above, the kit also includes an 8 page
instruction manual. No matter your experience level, the
instruction manual for a new product is always a good place to
The manual contains nearly everything a good manual should.
The only area I found it lacking in was that there was no
support contact information in the manual or on the box.
Everything else is well covered including the all important
battery handling and safe charging practices. The manual
includes what appears to be an addendum but I couldn't find any
differences between the addendum and the printed manual.
My guess is they updated the manual and I received both the
latest manual and the addendum.
Before I even had a chance to open the box, it was clear the
manufacturer had both a sense of humor, and a working knowledge
of the mentality of the average consumer. I actually had
to look twice when I read the warning on the box; check out the
picture above, it's pretty funny.
Getting the Proto Max ready to fly is quite easy and only takes
a few minutes.
Install the 4 alkaline batteries provided into the transmitter.
Locate the 130 Mah LiPo flight battery, remove the back cover
and put the battery in as indicated. Turn the transmitter
on and the green light will come on. When the light goes
out you're ready for your first flight. A word of warning
here; keep an eye on the battery while you're charging as it
requires the transmitter to be turned on. I forgot about
mine once and almost completely discharged the alkaline
batteries before I remembered and shut it off.
While the battery was charging I took a few minutes to examine
and photograph the rest of the enclosed goodies.
Heli and transmitter
Transmitter close up
transmitter itself is a 2.4Ghz, 4 channel radio that includes a
unique dual rate function. There's a colored circle on the
display, when the circle is full you're in "advanced" or high rate.
Press down on the right stick until it clicks and the circle changes
to half full, and you're in "beginner" or low rate mode. The
display contains a 3 digit counter, this is the throttle percentage
from 000 to 100. The other piece of information is the stick
mode, the default is Mode 2.
Speaking of stick modes, another interesting feature is that this
transmitter can be quickly changed to Mode 1. It's a painless
procedure and is outlined in the instruction manual. There's a
full set of trim tabs that can be used to fine tune the helicopter
in a hover. A battery meter and trim position indicators round
out the LCD display.
Included single cell LiPo
Handy charging station
Mixing board and servos
The helicopter itself is a typical pod and boom design.
The Proto Max has a fixed pitch rotor head, meaning that
climbing and descending is controlled by varying the RPM of the
main blades. The swashplate is controlled by two
actuators, and a weighted flybar for stabilization completes the
The landing gear plug in to the bottom of the frame for easy
replacement. Though at first glace they don't appear very
sturdy, I have yet to break a set and my little Proto Max has
suffered a few.... uh...setbacks. Speaking of the skids,
detail oriented readers might catch the tabs that are visible on
the right side of bottom of the skids in the picture labeled
"Mixing Board and Servos". I had to chuckle when I saw
them. I've seen this done a number of ways before using
shims but it's always been on the high end competition air
Helicopters with a tail rotor are subject to a phenomenon called
translating tendency. In short, what's happening is that
the tail rotor is blowing the helicopter sideways during takeoff
and in a hover. To compensate for this requires some right
cyclic trim and the helicopter appears to lean to the right (for
clockwise rotating main blades) a bit in a hover. What
these tabs do is give you a little bit of right correction by
tilting the rotor mast thus allowing you to take off straight
into a hover. The FAI guys dig this because they get more
points. This is the first time I've seen it done on a
smaller helicopter but I appreciate the attention to detail.
While we are on the subject of the tail rotor, the Proto Max
uses a fixed pitch, direct motor driven tail rotor arrangement.
This is simple and light as it requires no servo, pushrod, pitch
change linkages, or belt or tube drive mechanism. This
usually equates to mediocre tail performance but I was
pleasantly surprised when I flew the Proto Max.
The remaining items are the mixing board, drive motor, and main
gear. The mixing board performs a lot of work considering
that it's not much bigger than the memory card in my camera.
Mounted on the board are two linear actuators to move the
swashplate. In addition to the servos the mixing board has
the onboard gyro, a speed controller for both the main and tail
rotor motors, and a CCPM mixer to drive the actuators.
Aside from the usual assortment of replacement parts, Tower
Hobbies lists several glow in the dark parts including
main and tail blades, skids, and a yellow canopy. I've
already ordered the whole set of glow parts and can't wait to
see this thing flitting about in the dark!
Tail motor close up
Rotor head detail
Main gear and actuators
The supplied flight battery is a 130mah Lithium Polymer single
cell with a unique connector. There seems to be a
discrepancy in the instructions as its mentioned as both a
120mah, and a 130mah cell. The battery is actually 130mah,
but hey, what's 10mah between friends? Since the
transmitter isn't a purpose built charging station, and it's
powered by 4 dry cell batteries, the LiPo takes a while to
charge. If you run it all the way down till the ESC shuts
down (see below) then it takes close to an hour to charge.
Spare batteries are only 10 dollars, I would suggest stocking up
on an extra or two.
There's a warning in the manual but safety is always worth
repeating. I mentioned the battery has a unique connector.
The terminals on this particular battery are somewhat more
exposed than on other connectors that I have seen. I would
avoid stuffing these batteries in to your pockets lest they mix
with other metal objects such as keys and burn a nice hole in
your pants, or worse, your leg.
Note the wind sock, no flying the Proto Max outside
The included transmitter comes already bound to the Proto Max
receiver. Following the procedure in the instructions, you
turn on the transmitter with the throttle all the way down, the
display should read 000. Then install the battery into the
bottom of the helicopter with the contacts facing up and slide
it towards the front until it seats. The blue receiver
light should come on steady and you're ready to fly. If
the blue light is flashing, you need to perform the binding
sequence outlined in the manual.
Flying the Proto Max is a lot of fun. With the transmitter
set to beginner rates the Proto Max is fairly docile. It's
listed as a "level 2" model, meaning you should be comfortable
flying a coaxial or other tame helicopter before moving up to
the Proto Max. I found out that if you linger on the
ground while spooling up, the model will bounce around in ground
effect. Power up and climb several inches and the Proto
Max will settle into a stable hover. Compared to my larger
nitro powered helicopters the Proto Max is a bit twitchy,
especially in advanced mode, but nothing a few minutes of
practice couldn't overcome.
If you're an experienced pilot then flying around the average
living room is no problem. If you're not comfortable
flying in confined spaces though, I would recommend your first
flights take place in a gym or large garage until you're able to
safely navigate in advanced rate mode. I had no problem
flying hops between the dining room table, kitchen counter, and
living room coffee table. The Proto Max is so light
however, I had to make sure the ceiling fans were turned off and
the windows closed while flying it in my apartment.
Flying outside is possible for a beginner only in dead calm
conditions. I tried flying it outside a few times and even
in a slight breeze, down wind it would take off like a little
rocket, but flying back into the wind required full cyclic just
to get back to my starting point.
The Proto Max is so light, and carries so little inertia, that
close encounters with several ground based objects didn't result
in any damage. I did notice one thing, when you start to
notice the helicopter feeling down on power it's time to land.
If you fail to listen while the Proto Max is whispering to you,
it will definitely get your attention when the speed controller
says "enough". The motor will stop and the helicopter will
fall out of the air like a (very light) brick.
My biggest issue with micro helicopters is usually that no
matter what you do, the tail is all over the place. If the
tail holds well at all the trim constantly changes as the
battery drains. This seems to be exacerbated when the tail
is driven by a separate motor. Not so with the Proto Max!
The gyro performance was outstanding, we even managed to do a
few acceptable looking upright funnels while flying outside.
Fixed pitch helicopters aren't designed for aerobatics but I
managed a loop when flying outside in calm wind.
With a number of attractive features, good flight
characteristics, and a very reasonable price, the Proto Max
Ready To Fly electric helicopter is a good value for the money.
It comes with everything you need to get in the air immediately
including the transmitter batteries and it's integrated LiPo
Any intermediate pilot can use the Proto Max the prepare
themselves for a bigger electric helicopter or collective pitch
machine. An experienced pilot will have a ball with this
little guy and be able to get stick time when the weather
outside isn't conducive to model flying.
Distributed in the US by:
Great Planes Model Distributers