RCU Review: Revell Proto Max RTF Helicopter

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    Contributed by: Andrew Griffith | Published: October 2010 | Views: 50921 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Revell Proto Max RTF Helicopter

    Review by: Andrew Griffith
    Andrew Griffith


    Distributed in the US by:
    Great Planes Model Distributers
    PO BOX 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    (800) 338-4639

    Easy to fly with dual rates.

    Great gyro perforrmance.

    Lots of fun in a little package!

    No support contact info in instruction manual.


    Click HERE for explanation
    Skill Level: Low

    Time to complete: Minutes

    Frustration Level: None

    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.

    I 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!

    Kit Name: 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 2.4Ghz



    I LOVE this!


    The 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 start.

    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


    The 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 top end. 

    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 frames. 

    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.

    Its tiny!

    Note the wind sock, no flying the Proto Max outside today.


    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.


    Download and Watch in Windows Media Player here


    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 charging station.

    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
    PO BOX 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    (800) 338-4639

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