RCU Review: HeliMax Voltage 500 3D


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    Contributed by: Laurent Caekebeke | Published: October 2015 | Views: 16040 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCU Helimax Voltage 500


    Product Details

    manufacturer picture
    Manufacturer's Description:
    This 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.
    Manufacturer: HeliMax
    Size: 500mm (19.7in) diagonally
    Width: 380 mm (14.9 in)
    Blade diameter:   226 mm (8.9 in)
    Weight Range: 907 g (32 oz) without battery
    Battery 3 - 4S LiPo
    Requires:  5-channel radio (AIL-ELE-RUD-THR-MODE)
    Receiver, Battery, Charger 
    Price: $430 (retail at time of review)
     

    First Look



    There 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.
    The 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.


    Accessories required

    We used the futaba R7003SB receiver which is a great match for the voltage500 for two main reasons:
    • It is a very compact receiver, as it is meant to be used almost exclusively with SBUS/SBUS2 installation
    • It has a voltage sensor, which is a great feature.
    The recommended battery for the Voltage 500 -3D is the Flightpower FP25 4S, which comes in 2500mAh and 3300mAh.


    Software

    Helimax 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:
    • This is the only way to change the receiver communication protocol. The default is SBUS (Futaba).
    • You 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.
    • Lastly, 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



    Flight Report

    The 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 reset.

    Right 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. 

    The 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.

    The 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 3D maneuvers.

    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.



    Summary

    HeliMax 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!


    References and links




    Comments on RCU Review: HeliMax Voltage 500 3D

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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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