RCU Review: JR Vibe 50 NEX


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    Contributed by: Andrew Griffith | Published: November 2011 | Views: 20841 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    JR Vibe50 NEX Kit Review
    Andrew Griffith

    BarracudaHockey

     

    JR Helicopters
    Distributed exclusively by:
    Horizon Hobby
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, IL 61822
    Phone: (877) 504-0233
     Website: www.horizonhobby.com

     



    Lots of high quality aluminum and red anodized parts.
    Improved clutch and new beefier tail rotor hub.
    Carbon stacked frames and torque tube drive tail rotor.


    While very attractive, the canopy is hard to see on all but bright sunny days.
    Servo installation sequence in manual isn't optimal.
    Replacement frame cost. (note that the canopy break away pieces are designed to prevent damage to the frames in all but the worst crashes)

     

    Click HERE for explanation
    Skill Level: Advanced

    Time to complete: 8-10 Hrs

    Frustration Level: None

    JR Helicopters has released their NEXt generation 50 size nitro helicopter; the Vibe 50NEX.

    In June of 2008 I had the pleasure of building and reviewing the original JR Vibe 50 for RCUniverse and was impressed with both the design and flying qualities of the new (at the time) kit.  At the time it was hard to find fault with the kit but as with anything, over time some weaknesses were uncovered.

    The tail rotor hub was easy to bend and the stock tail blades weren't very robust.  Of course, these issues took some time to uncover but overall the Vibe 50 has been the most reliable and solid performer I have owned over the years.

    The NEX 50 however, has taken high quality and attention to detail to a new level for 50 size helicopters.  It's much more like a shrunken down version of the 90SG (Scott Gray design) than an evolution of the original Vibe.  It sports a new look with carbon fiber frames, a red and black painted fiberglass canopy, and many red anodized aluminum parts that really make the NEX stand out.

    There are a lot of choices in the 50 size helicopter class so lets get started and find out how the Vibe 50 NEX stacks up against the competition.




    Kit Name: JR Vibe 50 NEX
    Price: $559.99
    Main Rotor Span: 53.58" (1361mm)* with 600mm blades
    Flying Weight as tested: 7lbs 12oz (3.4Kg)
    Engine Used: OS 50 Hyper w/ Hatori 522
    Blades Used: RotorTech 610mm
    Battery used: 2S 2500Mah Voltz LiPo
    Radio equipment used: JR 11X 2.4 Ghz, AR7100R receiver, JR 8717 Servos on cyclic, JR 8311 servo on throttle, a JR G370 Gyro and MP-80G brushless tail servo.

    • 6 Channel (minimum) radio system with CCPM Helicopter mixing and 4 servos.
    • Tail Gyro and servo
    • Receiver battery
    • 50 class nitro engine and muffler
    • Glow plug extension
    • 600mm main rotor blades
    • Nitro starting equipment and 6mm start shaft
    • Thread locker, medium fuel line, and epoxy
    • Metric allen drivers or wrenches
    • JIS (better) or phillips screw drivers
    • Pitch gauge and swash plate leveling tool
    • Metric ruler

    New arrival
    Neat new logo
    Nicely protected contents
    My beloved Vibe 50 had met an unfortunate and untimely demise so I was already looking for a replacement when the Vibe 50 NEX came on the market.  I always knew that if something happened to it the question of getting another Vibe wouldn't be a matter of if but when.  Once I received the Vibe 50 NEX though, I was glad I waited.

    The brown aircraft delivery vehicle left the Vibe at my front door intact and free of any apparent shipping damage.  About the only thing in a helicopter kit that would readily be susceptible to rough handling would be the fiberglass canopy and that was wrapped in a protective material, bagged, and secured with packing paper.  All of the rest of the parts were in sealed bags and numbered to match the steps in the instruction manual.  There was no hint of damage anywhere.

    I opened things up, gave everything a cursory inspection, retrieved the instruction manual and got comfortable for some reading before I opened a single bag.  If you've ever built a helicopter kit from the ground up, building the Vibe is straightforward.  The manual assumes some familiarity with building practices so the assembly instructions do not contain a lot of spoon feeding.  Be sure to read all the notes on each step before doing any work; some things seem out of sequence but everything comes together during final assembly.  This is especially true when it comes to fully tightening and applying thread locker to the frame and engine mount bolts. 

    There are lots of line drawings showing where things go with building notes for each step.  Also all of the hardware needed for a particular step is shown in actual size.  The radio installation and setup area of the manual is both well written and comprehensive.  I've seen manuals with more step by step directions but if you study the drawings and follow the notes for each step, you won't have any problems building the NEX even if its your first nitro helicopter.

    SIMILARITIES

    Like its older brother, the NEX is a stacked frame design that uses a bearing supported aluminum torque tube driven tail for maximum tail authority.  Once set up, the torque tube tail needs no adjustment and has incredibly little drag for maximum power transfer and plenty of hang time during auto rotations.  The main rotor head design with the grip mounted mixing levers is also maintained.  I said in my previous review that the bearing blocks, swash, and auto clutch wouldn't look out of place in a jewelry case and the NEX maintains that high quality while adding attractive looking red anodized parts such as the swash, upper mixing arms, and tail case parts.

    The Vibe 50 NEX contains all of the parts so you can assemble it using either 120 degree CCPM or the interaction free 140 degree CCPM (see previous build article for full explanation of the differences).  In short, if your radio supports it, use 140, but if not don't bother with trying to work out the mixing, we have both and its really hard to feel any significant difference in the air.

    The frame mounted governor sensor is maintained in the new version as is the vibration isolated fuel tank and intermediate bell crank rudder pushrod.  All connections to the swashplate are push/pull through ball bearing supported bell cranks.  When assembled the control system is smooth as butter.

    New clutch (R)
    New tail hub (R)
    Carbon side frames

    DIFFERENCES

    The differences we noted were mostly refinements.  The first thing that really stands out is that all of the G10 fiberglass is gone.  The NEX sports 2mm thick carbon fiber main frames, fins, and a bottom frame plate.  Not only is it better looking, it seems quite a bit stiffer as well.  In addition, there are carbon side frame stiffeners mounted inline with the clutch bell that make it look like a smaller version of the 90SG.  This should all add up to a minimum of frame flex during even the most violent 3D flying.  The break away mounts for the canopy posts should minimize damage to the carbon frames, I broke the ones of my original Vibe 50 several times without damaging the G10 main frames.

    The plastic main blade grips have been replaced by machined black metal grips that look quite stout.  Gone though is the recessed area for the nut so you need a driver and a wrench to change the blades or remove the blade bolts.  The NEX blade grip assembly moves the thrust bearings to the outside of the radial bearings. 

    The flybar paddles included with the V50 were a somewhat conservative thickness and included removable weights to adjust head responsiveness.  Most everyone I know removed the weights or replaced the paddles with ultra light carbons.  By comparison the NEX paddles appear rather aggressive with a thin airfoil, sharp leading edge, and no weight.  I'm looking forward to trying these!

    The collet style fan mount which can be a bit of a nuisance and requires a fan puller to remove has been banished from the NEX.  The red machined fan hub, which seems almost a shame to hide under a cooling shroud, threads directly on to the engine crank shaft.  The start shaft is also larger and a bigger one way bearing occupies the center of the new clutch.

    At the rear of the helicopter the metal tail case is beefed up and the tail output shaft bearings are better supported.  Also the tail rotor hub is thicker and and less prone to "tweaking" on marginal landings.  As with the original Vibe, the tail rotor hub design appears borrowed from its larger cousin so the tail disk is quite large and blades in the 85 to 92 range are recommended. 

    In the little details department the tail pushrod guides split so you can remove them without pulling the boom.  The old design had that idea but there were teeth on them that would wear out, these look better.  The ball links also look similar but feel completely different.  Not once while building two kits at the same time did we need to reach for the ball link reamer.  The links are a bit difficult to snap on or remove, but once snapped on they seem perfectly sized with no play or drag.

    Last, they advertise that the parts count is lower and while we didn't count every screw and washer, the molded plastic radio mounting tray alone easily saved over a dozen parts and twice that many screws.

    A TALE OF TWO VIBES

    Inspired by my success with the original Vibe 50 my flying buddy, often un-credited review helper, and room mate Frank Foti bought his own V50.  After having flew a few other designs, his pattern flying background really meshed well with the smooth flying Vibe.  Inspired by the crash and near total destruction of my V50 he totaled his about a week later as well.  So when the review kit arrived he looked mine over and placed one on order for himself.

    This affords us the unique opportunity to build and fly two of these side by side, one equipped with 140 degree CCPM and the other with a 120 degree setup.  Mine is going to be guided by a JR 11X linked to an AR7100R receiver and equipped with 8717 servos.  Franks radio duties are handled by a DX7/AR7000 combo.  In the flight shots, mine has the stock canopy while Franks is adorned with the distinctive  and brightly colored Canomod canopy.  Powering both models are OS-50Hyper engines with Hatori 522 mufflers.

    Enough comparisons already, the new kits are here so let's get started!

    Numbered bags match manual
    Canopy, stickers, and manual
    Clutch bell and start shaft
    Tail drive assembly
    140 CCPM bellcrank assembly
    Main gear and auto hub

    Before you get started things will go much smoother if you have everything you need handy when the instructions call for it.  One of the important things to note before getting started is that JR labels their thread locking agent somewhat differently than what we consider the norm.  If you're not using JR's thread locker than keep the following in mind.  The icon's that show "red" thread lock are medium strength or what is commonly referred to as blue, and where they indicate "green" that is what helicopter folks normally associate with red high strength (takes heat to remove) thread locker.

    There are a number of tools that we have for assembling and maintaining model helicopters that can be split in to two categories; essential, and nice to have.

    In the essentials you should have a set of metric allen wrenches or drivers (hardened type drivers work best), and a set of open end metric wrenches.  Phillips or even better, JIS screw drivers, a metric ruler, pitch gauge, and ball link pliers all will get regular use.

    If you're going to stick with it, a dial or digital caliper and Vario pushrod tool, paddle gauges, a bearing greaser such as "The Greaser", and a Hanger 9 Inline Amp Meter will all be welcome additions to your tool inventory.  If you really become serious a dial indicator and magnet base will become a fixture in your workshop.

    The first decision you have to make is whether you're going to build your NEX with 120 or 140 degree CCPM.  As I mentioned before, if your radio supports 140 then go for it, if not, don't bother tinkering with mixes.  Several pages of the manual have steps for both documented so make sure you're following the correct drawings for your choice of control system.  By step 1-3 you start assembling components according to your choice so you really do need to have that worked out before starting.

    I like to emphasize in my articles that most helicopters today can be either built or they can be assembled.  Anyone that can manage a Star Wars Lego set can "assemble" a modern nitro helicopter.  Once you fly one that has been "built" though, you will know that the extra time and effort required is a minimal price to pay for a silky smooth helicopter.  Radio components and bearings will last longer because vibration is minimized as all rotating parts are dial indicated or balanced.

    Red anodized swash
    New fan hub
    Anodized and machined parts
    Frame up
    Carbon frame stiffeners
    Fuel tank installed

    The Vibe 50NEX parts are bagged by step and clearly labeled.  As I said earlier, the instruction manual is excellent so it would be of little value to regurgitate it here, I will just throw a few notes in where I feel that clarification could be in order.

    The Vibe is built by first putting together a series of sub assemblies and then when you get to the main frames things start coming together quickly.  While you're working with thread locker, best results will be obtained if you take a few minutes to clean the hardware you're working on with alcohol. We will be using Omicron thread lockers from Lynx Heli Innovations to build our Vibes.

    The first step is to assemble the clutch bell and start shaft.  This is also the first place you can start your attention to details.  If you're planning on running a governor, go ahead and install the magnets now and balance the clutch bell.  One of the things I really like about the Vibes is that the governor magnets mount on the clutch bell and the sensor has it's own little spot on the frame.  This means that if you have to pull the motor, the sensor and wiring stays in the helicopter.

    Even though the AR7100R includes a rev-limiter, I've had such great luck with the AeroSpire Mult-Gov governors that is what I decided to stick with one on my NEX.  I've flown the included limiter and it works just fine and saves you some weight and wiring so if I didn't have a Multi-Gov handy I would use the built in rev-limiter without hesitation.  In the case of governors that use two magnets, stick the magnets together, mark the outside faces with a Sharpee, and install the magnets so that the black marks are either both facing the clutch bell or both facing the up.

    In step 1-3 Double check that you are assembling the bell cranks for your CCPM control system of choice.

    Step 1-5  We used light machine oil to lubricate the autorotation bearing.  Don't over torque the screws or you can distort the tail drive gear.  The gear is even marked "up" to make sure you get the orientation correct.

    Step 1-6  We made sure there was no mold flash around the tank inlet and flushed the fuel tanks with alcohol prior to assembly.  I don't want to sound gross but natures best lubricant to get the rubber stopper in place with the least amount of fuss is a dose of spit.

    Step 1-7 just saved you at least 30 minutes compared to the radio tray on the original Vibe.

    Elevator alignment pins
    Vibration isolated fuel tank
    High quality bearing blocks
    Aluminum engine mount
    Carbon frame base plate
    On its feet

    Step 2-1 It's time to start on the main frames.  Some important notes in this step include noting that there is a left and a right side frame, and not all the bolts get thread locker or tightened down at this time.  Here also we observed another difference from the original V50 and that is that JR went back two main shaft bearing blocks with the NEX where the V50 had 3.  We used a product called Epo-Grip epoxy to install the elevator pivot pin bearings into the main frames after scuffing up the flange on the bearing with a jewelers file for best adhesion.

    Step 2-4 I really like the frame brace, they borrowed this from the 90SG and it looks great and I'm sure it will really stiffen up the frame.  This may be one of the reasons they omitted the 3rd main shaft bearing block.

    Step 2-5 shows one of those details that really made us say "wow that's cool".  JR provides two alignment pins that when put in to place hold the elevator A arm perfectly square while the set screws are tightened.  This took a little bit of guess work out of aligning the elevator linkage that I remembered taking a bit of trial and error in the V50 build.  Nice touch.  When everything is done, remove the pins, flying with the elevator locked won't be any fun!

    Step 2-6 Don't be alarmed if you have parts left over, spacers are used depending on the control system you have chosen.  Study the line drawings carefully, the bell cranks mount in different holes for 120 and 140 CCPM.

    Step 2-7 If you're unfamiliar with the V50 the Vibe fuel tank mount uses a simple system to isolate the fuel tank from the frame to prevent transmitting vibration to the fuel.  The NEX continues that tradition and accomplishes it with less screws.  On both Vibe versions fuel tank removal is a quick and painless task.

    Step 2-8 Three cheers for the injection molded radio tray!

    Step 2-9 JR provides a gyro mount if you want to mount your gyro sensor behind the main shaft, we omitted this on both of ours and mounted the sensor under the receiver on the flat spot on the radio tray, so far both have worked fine.  This is also the step where you install the body mount plates on the rear of the frame.  If you're unfamiliar with these, they provide a break away point for the rear canopy mounting post that is designed to save both your frame and canopy from damage in the event of a crash.

    Fan/clutch balancing
    Fan installation
    Engine installed
    Run out checking the fan
    Head block and spindle
    Rotor head assembly

    Step 3-1 This is the step where you set the gear backlash and tighten everything down.  The main gear should be rotated until you feel the most resistance, if there is a high spot from the molding process this is where you want to set the gear mesh.  As the instructions note, insert a piece of notebook paper between the gears and set the mesh. When you have everything tight run the piece through the gears, it should come out looking like a sharply folded accordion.  If it comes out wavy its too loose, if it comes out mangled, its way too tight.  Too loose and you risk stripping gears during  high power maneuvers, too tight and you generate heat and rob power from the drive system.  Before you tighten any of the bolts holding the main shaft, test that the main shaft drops freely through the bearing blocks before and after tightening.

    Step 3-2  Since the engine is turning in the neighborhood of 17K rpm this is one area where balancing and checking run out will pay dividends.  High frequency vibration generated by an out of balance clutch/fan is an electronics killer and will also cause fuel foaming making the engine run lean.  We used a magnetic prop balancer, and a dial indicator to get the best possible setup in this area.  You can adjust the run out by rotating the fan 90 degrees at a time until you end up with the least amount of run out, and then the entire assembly is placed on a magnetic prop balancer.  Small divots can be drilled in the fan on the heavy side until the fan stops at random spots when rotated.  Our fans were installed using the OS delrin plastic crank lock tool to tighten the fan and then the prop nut.  This might sound like a lot of tinkering but trust me, its easier than the collet design and a whole lot simpler to remove the fan when you have to service the engine.

    Step 3-3  When you tighten down the engine mounting bolts use a 6mm start shaft to spin the start shaft backwards and slowly nip up the bolts one by one until everything is tight.  If you feel resistance back off the bolt you're tightening and move to another until they are all tight and the start shaft rotates with the least amount of drag.

    Step 3-4 Talk about the small touches that add up.  Each washer/retainer for the fan shroud has a rubber o-ring on it so it stays snug without over tightening the self tapping screws that are going into plastic.  Should you strip out the plastic, medium CA is the ticket, don't use thread locker on plastic.

    Now that the helicopter is framed up and sitting on its skids it's time to add the main rotor head and the tail assemblies.

    Step 4-1 The swashplate is an absolute work of art.  Neither of ours needed any adjustment but should slop develop between the swashplate rings the set screws to adjust that out are already supplied.

    Flybar cage
    Setting gear mesh
    Link assembly
    Precision link measurement
    Main head block
    Main rotor head and grips

    Step 4-2 Enjoy the red anodized washout arms as you complete this assembly.  Double check that everything is built correctly, the JR logo will be on the outside.

    Steps 4-4 through 4-6  Lubricate the spindle with silicon dielectric grease where it goes through the flap dampeners, just don't get any grease in the threads where the spindle bolt goes.  The thrust bearings consist of two bearing races and a ball cage.  The ball races have a different ID or inside diameter and must be assembled correctly with the larger ID race on the inside towards the head block.  The easy way to tell the difference is to slip the races over the spindle and rock them back and forth with your finger.  One will hardly move at all, and one will rock several degrees back and forth.  The one that rocks easily is the one that goes towards the head block.

    We built both of our Vibe 50 NEX's using Lubriplate EMB small bearing grease to pack the ball cage on the thrust bearings.  The NEX moves the thrust bearings outside the radial bearings instead of inside the grips between the radial bearings.  The Avro Blitz, which can be built both ways, claim the outboard thrust bearings are better for 3D where the inboard thrust bearing is recommended for FAI style flying.  I've asked around some of the top FAI pilots and none felt it would make any difference.

    Lubricate the main shaft where the washout base and swashplate slide with light machine oil.

    Step 4-7 through 4-8  A metric ruler will come in handy in the next several steps.  This is an area that benefits from attention to detail.  Get the distances for the flybar centered perfectly and when you're done use a set of paddle gauges to align the paddles to the flybar cage and each other.  The V50 had removable weights, those are gone and though my gram scale has been borrowed and not returned I estimate these to be in the 10 to 12 gram vicinity.  The NEX flybar paddles are also thinner and with a sharp leading edge, both design departures from the V50.

    Step 4-9  Calipers are your friend!  All the linkages on the Vibe are built in pairs with the exception of the throttle and rudder so getting everything the same length is paramount.  Dial or digital calipers can be had relatively inexpensively and have a lot of uses but they really shine when building push/pull control systems.

    Main grip and thrust bearings
    High quality bearing blocks
    Torque tube and bearing
    Tail hub with thrust bearings
    Improved tail case
    Completed tail grips
    Time to build the back end.

    Step 5-1 through 5-3  The Vibe 50 NEX features a bearing supported aluminum torque tube drive for extremely positive tail control.  We affixed the bearing to the torque tube with Permatex green thread lock.  The tail case is beefed up a bit and the tail output shaft bearings are both recessed.  The kit includes shims to set the tail gear mesh.

    Steps 5-5 and 5-6 When installing the tail pitch change fork watch out when tightening it down, it needs to be snug but if you over tighten it, even once, it will tear up the bearings in the slide ring.  The tail pitch control lever features a two point connection for positive control and when assembled with the supplied pins is free of the drag that I have had to work out of some other similar designs.

    Step 5-7 and 5-8  The new and improved tail rotor hub is another NEX component borrowed from a 90 size design.  The tail hub sandwiches a thrust bearing between two radial bearings.  Not many 50 designs incorporate a thrust bearing supported tail rotor.  The thrust bearings are assembled the same way as the main rotor spindle thrust bearings.  Find the larger ID bearing race, put it towards the center hub, and lubricate the bearing cage with Lubriplate EMB.

    After a few weeks with the V50 I had some vibration issues with the tail rotor that were getting worse by the day and none of the traditional culprits seemed to be the source.  I finally swapped tail blades and the problem went away.  Close inspection revealed that the bolt holes in the plastic tail blade root had elongated and were the cause of the problem.  We always build our review models stock but I'll be keeping a close eye on the tail blades.  Oil the tail rotor output shaft where the pitch slider moves when you're done putting everything together.

    Step 5-12  The tail rotor pushrod guides on the V50 seemed rather clever at the time I built my kit.  They could be removed or installed without taking the boom off of the helicopter and the distance between the rod and the boom could be adjusted.  The rod was captured by serrated jaws and you could loosen the screw and move it in and out. After some regular flying it turned out that the design was a little too clever.  The jaws would wear out and I had few landings where the rod was hanging out of a guide.  With the NEX they went with the less is more concept.  The guides are still removable without pulling the tail boom and the distance is still adjustable but the whole thing is more solid and appears more reliable.  Sight down the rear of the boom and get the pushrod run as straight as possible.  The intermediate bell crank at the rear of the main frame allows the servo to remain up front where it's safe and out of the exhaust.  The setup has the stiff and positive control and straight control run of a tail mounted servo while moving the weight of the tail servo ahead of the CG.

    When you have completed the tail boom assembly and installation, give the tail gear mesh another check as you tighten everything down.

    AR7100R reciever
    Servo installation
    MP80 Tail servo and 8717's

    Radio Equipment Installation

    While the servo installation sequence isn't spelled out, it is implied by the order of the pictures that you start at the top and work your way down.  Life will be much easier if you start with the rudder servo, then do the left swashplate servo before installing the last two swashplate servos on top.  The throttle servo is well accessible and can be installed at any time during the sequence.  Doing the rudder servo first will save you some colorful vocabulary.

    My Vibe is getting 8717 servos on the swashplate, an 8311 throttle servo, and a JR G370 3D Gyro and MP-80G brushless servo on the tail.  The 7100R receiver will allow me to run the gyro and tail servo at 5 volts and supply 8V to the servos. (Note: JR makes the 8717HV and 8917HV servos that are supported to run on 8V. While I have been successful running my standard 8717s this way it is outside of specs and if you choose to do so you are doing it at your own risk)

    The G370 3D gyro functions and flys much the same as the 770 does but its about half the height and protected by a nice aluminum case.  Mated to the quick .05 brushless MP-80G servo, it made for a very solid combination that fit well in the nose under the receiver.  This served two purposes, first it makes the wiring job easier and neater because every thing is up front and second, it keeps weight where the NEX needs it, up front.

    We really noticed the new links supplied with the NEX when assembling our two kits.  Like the aforementioned tail rod guides, the V50 links were nice but these are both better and simpler.  They take a good bit of force to snap in to place or remove, to the point I thought they were going to need a reamer, but once snapped on the linkages are smooth as butter and slop free.  Unless you have really tough fingers though, ball link pliers are a must for getting these off.

    JR even improved the canopy.  Thumb screws replace the need for an allen wrench for easy removal of the fiberglass canopy.  Also either control system has plenty of clearance, with the V50 using 140 CCPM I had to take a Dremel and sanding disk to the canopy so that the control rods would clear without hitting.  The decals are attractive and easy to apply if you choose to use them.  I made up an 11X logo and cut it out of vinyl for mine. 

    If you wish to apply the decals wash the canopy and your hands with dish soap to clean up any mold release and finger print oils.  Then cut out the decal and immerse it completely in a solution of warm water with a few drops of dish soap.  Place your finger in the water and wet the area where the decal will go and apply the decal wet to the surface.  While its wet you can slide it around and get it perfectly positioned.  When you have it where you want, take a paper towel on your finger tip and starting from the center of the decal squeegee all of the water from under the decal while burnishing it down.  When you're done let the canopy sit in the sun for an hour or so.

    Just like your choice of tires affects the way your car drives, main rotor blades can have a major effect on how your helicopter flies.  Most pilots like to tune the way their helicopter handles by their choice of main rotor blades so JR has left this choice to the end user.  Edge, Radix, SpinBlades, Mavrikk, SAB and others all make wonderful carbon main rotor blades.  SAB's are usually heavier and good for smooth FAI style flying and auto rotations.  Radix stick bangers are light and great for, well, stick banging 3D but they don't auto particularly well.  With this in mind, I like a middle of the road blade, one that is light and snappy enough for aerobatics but will hold rpm in an auto so my personal blade choice for the NEX is the RotorTech 610mm main blades.  I also flew the Edge 603mm flybar blades and really liked them but I had to put them back on my friends helicopter when he noticed them missing.

    To get the center of gravity correct we had to add between 1.5 and 2.5 oz of weight to our Vibes (mine took less because of the heavier 8717 servos) for proper balance.  Both weighed in right at 7lbs 12 oz though.

    Lets get the radio setup!

    Governor sensor
    G370 gyro
    Volts 2S Receiver battery
    140 CCPM selected
    Pitch curve to 50's for setup
    Ready for a test flight!
    The JR 11X is an extremely capable radio for helicopters and probably does more than most helicopter pilots will ever need.  This includes support for just about every swashplate you might run into so it was an easy choice to build my Vibe with 140 degree CCPM.

    After doing the servo installation we created a new model and powered everything up with no linkages connected.  Set up a throttle a linear throttle curve in Stunt-1 from 0 to 100 and set the pitch points to 50-50-50.  The reason for this is when centering and squaring your linkages you don't have to worry about the stick getting bumped, no matter where the throttle stick is the swashplate servos will be centered.  Now is also the time to enable  EXP in the swashplate menu or an electronic swashplate ring if you plan on using them (I use both).

    Using round servo wheels and a ruler against the main frame, find the holes that give closest to perfect alignment.  If you do this step right you will find that you need from 0 to just a few points of sub-trim to get the linkages perfectly level.  Removing the main rotor head for now and using a swashplate leveling tool that slides over the main shaft will really let you get things perfect. 

    Once you get all the servos moving in the same direction when moving the collective stick by using servo reversing use the swash mix to get everything moving in the correct direction.  Even though the NEX uses leading edge control on the main grips, the swashplate moves up for positive pitch.  Now you can use the swashplate leveling tool and use the end points of the individual servos to get everything perfectly level at the top and bottom of the throw. 

    When you're done install the rotor head and use a pitch gauge to set your final swash mixes for total throw.  My NEX is set up with 11 degrees positive and negative collective throw and 8 degrees of cyclic throw.  I upped the collective to 12 degrees for the video flight because my test pilot likes a little more pop than I do.

    The JR 3703D gyro is a lot of gyro in a little bitty package.  The instructions include a setup for the Vibe 50 and when paired with the new brushless tail rotor servo the combination worked very well with their suggested settings.  Pay attention to the instruction sheet if you use this gyro, unlike other gyros that have expo built it, the starting point for the 370 and 770 gyros is around 40 to 45 percent.  Mine ended up at 50 percent to have a nice smooth feel around center stick as well as preventing me from disturbing the tail during tic-tocs.

    Unlike some of the JR and Spektrum radios, the 11X (and the 93/9503 series) support a tail lock mode that displays the actual gain in use.  The gyro was set to N or normal mode, the limits set.  Then I dialed up Tail Lock mode and set 70 percent gain as recommended in the 3703D manual.  I knew from experience that running a high dual rate on the rudder channel would likely result in an alarming piro rate so I started at 80 percent on the rudder channel (final adjustment was 85 for a spirited but controllable piro rate).

    Setting up the tail servo throw and the throttle servo stroke are a perfect application for the Hangar 9 Inline Amp Meter.  When you plug the meter between the receiver and the servo you can verify the loaded voltage the servo is seeing, and observe how many amps that it's drawing.  Run the end points up until you see the current start to rise and you will be able to set your servo limits exactly for full throw with no binding.

    I gave some thought to the cyclic expo, I usually run about 20 to 25 percent on the elevator and aileron.  I decided to up that to a starting point of 30 because I thought the paddles might be a bit more spirited than the V50 and better safe than sorry.


    MAIDEN TIME

    At the field we did a final inspection, fueled her up, had a little Red Bull to calm the nerves, and fired up the engine for the maiden voyage.  Since the engine and pipe combination came out of my V50 I didn't have to mess with breaking in a new engine so it was time to get to work on the test flying.

    Even without breaking in an engine, I always take it easy for the first flight on a new helicopter.  I fueled the NEX up with Rotor Rage 30 percent premium helicopter blend from Byrons fuels and fired up the engine. 

    This is the time to make sure the CG is ok, get a feel for the gyro and the cyclic response and make any tuning adjustments.   Everything went ok and the only adjustments I made were to up the gyro gain little and decrease the expo on the cyclics a bit.  After the flight I checked over the whole helicopter for any loose screws and the only ones I could find were on the pilot so I fueled her back up and turned it over to Jeremy Strickland to get the flight shots.

    Aside from adding a bit of throw to the collective (12 degrees total each way) and a bit more rudder travel to get a faster piro rate, he pronounced it ready to shoot some video.  Watching Jeremy fly any helicopter at our field and it becomes immediately obvious that it's not what helicopter you fly or how many upgrades it has, but how much you practice that determines how well you fly.

    MILD

    Flying the Vibe 50 NEX is a pleasure, if it were a car it would be a Lexus or BMW.  Smooth and solid are the first key words that come to mind when trying to describe flying the NEX.  Everything feels locked in and maneuvers like funnels and hurricanes that with other helicopters I find myself correcting all the time, the NEX finds its happy spot and just keeps going around and around.

    I thought that the paddles might be a bit snappy for my style or even take away some of the stability the Vibe head is known for but during fast forward flight they exhibited no pitchyness. 

    Big loops in both directions were large and stately.  Frank looks like he's back in his trophy winning pattern days when flying his.  This may be a somewhat over used description but the NEX really does roll like its on a string. 

    To test a gyro/servo combo I usually go way up high, point the tail straight down and let her rip towards the ground, if it stays put I do it again with the tail out 90 degrees to the fall.  Though it's size makes it look more at home on a 450 the 3703D gyro held up without blowing out.  Hurricanes and rolling tail slides?  No problem.  It also held a nice consistent piro rate during piro flips and pirouetting funnels.

    WILD

    If you watch the video I probably could save myself some typing here.  Piro flips, piro funnels, snakes, tic-tocs, the NEX does it all.  The RotorTech blades and the stock paddles make a great combination if you've had a bad day at work and want to head to the field and beat up your helicopter.

    The Voltz 2S Lipo feeding the AR7100R driving the 8717 servos  gives the NEX more than enough control authority.  One thing that would really have me licking my lips to try is this helicopter with one of the 55 or 56 engines and a good pipe.  Don't get me wrong, it does very well with a 50 but when combined with the airframe design refinements I think one of the bigger engines would make the thing fly even more like a small 90.
     


    Flight Shots
     
     
     
     
     
     
     







    There's a lot of choices in the 50 size helicopter market so what makes the Vibe 50 NEX stand out? 

    A mature and refined design with great pedigree for one. 

    High quality parts that won't be failing and wearing out all the time for another.

    Flexibility in choosing the control system that best fits your existing radio equipment. 

    When you add the three together you get a great flying and reliable helicopter that's worth its somewhat higher price tag.

    The locked in feel gives intermediate pilots confidence to progress to backwards and backwards inverted flight knowing the NEX will go where you point it and stay there.

    Would I buy another NEX if something happened to this one?  Yes, absolutely!


    JR Helicopters & Radio Components


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    4105 Fieldstone Rd.
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    email: support@horizonhobby.com

    Voltz Batteries


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    Phone: (888)RDY-HELI (888-739-4354)
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    Comments on RCU Review: JR Vibe 50 NEX

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    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.

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