quad is absolutely not for the faint of heart, but if
you?re an established heli pilot with some experience
under your belt and the urge to break into serious 3D
flying, this is the quad for you. Unlike most multi-rotor
aircraft, the Voltage 500 has reversible motors allowing
it to execute a much wider range of stunts. Bigger size
and bigger props give it presence and power for aggressive,
electrifying 3D stunt execution. Plus, it's equipped
with stability mode to make breaking into 3D flying
easier and safer.
mm (14.9 in)
mm (8.9 in)
g (32 oz) without battery
- 4S LiPo
Receiver, Battery, Charger
(retail at time of review)
is absolutely no assembly required. The only thing the user
has to do is to connect his receiver. The receiver must be compatible
with one of the communication protocols used by the flight controller:
Sbus (Futaba), Xbus(JR/Jeti), DSM2/X (Spektrum) or DSMJ (JR).
We used the Futaba SB7003SB, which has the great benefit of
incorporating a voltage sensor. That is a valuable addition
to the Voltage 500 3D, as the quadcopter does not have a low
voltage cut-off feature.
controller board is the "brain" of the multicopter. It connects
to the receiver via the bus selected by the user. it also imbeds
the gyros and accelerometer used for stabilization (hence the
arrow on the board - orientation is important).
The USB port serves to connect the board to a computer for fine
tuning of the setting and setting the receiver type.
Note that two of the four ESC are connected with two wires swapped.
That is perfectly normal, as it reverses the rotation of the
motors. So be careful on reassemble, if you decide to
disconnect the motor.
used the futaba R7003SB receiver which is a great match for
the voltage500 for two main reasons:
is a very compact receiver, as it is meant to be used almost
exclusively with SBUS/SBUS2 installation
has a voltage sensor, which is a great feature.
battery for the Voltage 500 -3D is the Flightpower FP25 4S,
which comes in 2500mAh and 3300mAh.
provides an interface that works on windows only. There is no
software available for OS X or Linux at the time of the review.
The software will be used for several things:
is the only way to change the receiver communication protocol.
The default is SBUS (Futaba).
can check the throws for all channel as well as your mode
selection switch. This is a good way to make sure there
is no channel reversed before the first flight.
you can adjust the gain for all axis.
The Voltage 500 3D software is available for download
from Towerhobbies' website, click on the link that says "Notice
1" from the Voltage 500 3D main page, or click here.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
came up with a simple, yet innovative way to bring their quadcopter
offering to the 3D realm. The motor inversion for inverted flight
is a fun feature which opens up many possibilities. The multicopter
is very capable in 3D mode and yet very smooth and easy to control
in stability mode. The latter mode is a good rescue mode if the pilot
loses orientation while demonstrating his finest 3D skills. We only
wish the motor kill switch was on another channel, as it is very easy
to stop all motors in a panic situation.
The Voltage 500 3D doesn't have all geolocalization and autopiloting
features that appeal to the quadcopter neophytes and the aerial photo
enthusiasts alike. It is a skill-oriented quadcopter designed for
the RC pilots willing to spend the time and effort in mastering the
art of controlling his/her aircraft.
This latest release from Heli-Max is an extremely fun
multicopter to fly, and a machine that draws attention at the field.
It is not every day that a fixed-pitch quadcopter performs most of
the 3D maneuvers in the book!
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.