RCU Review: E-Flite Blade CX


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    Contributed by: Marc Vigod | Published: January 2006 | Views: 178481 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon


    E-Flite
    Distributed by Horizon Hobby
    4105 Fieldstone Rd.
    CHAMPAIGN, IL 61822
    http://www.horizonhobby.com

    Design

    1star1star1star1star1star

    Appearance

    1star1star1star1star1star

    Box-to-Sky

    1star1star1star1star1star

    Ease of Flight

    1star1star1star1star1star

    Fun Factor

    1star1star1star1star1star

    Battery Life

    1star1star1star1star1star

    Performance

    1star1star1star1star1star

    Crash Proof 1star1star1star1star

    Outdoor Operation

    1star1star1star

    CLICK FOR FLIGHT VIDEO

    The latest release from E-Flite, the Blade CX, is their first offering into the fast growing and popular arena of rc helis known as "Coaxial Helicopters".

    These "coaxial" helicopters feature counter-rotating blades which give them a tremendous amount of inherent stability. They can be flown indoors or outdoors (although they are most suited to indoor flying).

    The stability of the E-Flite Blade CX is so good that most anyone can fly this helicopter. It is fun for rank beginners and experts as well. If you feel like doing some hovering and flying around your house anytime the Blade CX stands ready. In this review we will give a brief overview of the product, how to prep it for flight and how it works. Also be sure to watch the video I shot of the Blade CX as I flew it around the inside of my house in the cold of winter! Finally a product that lets me get my flying fix in during the off season!

    Let's get started...


    Type: Coaxial Electric Micro Heli

    • Main Rotor Diameter: 13.60 in (345mm)
    • Gross Weight: RTF ith included Li-Po battery, 8.0 oz (227 g)
    • Length: 15.75 in (400mm)
    • Motor Size: Dual 180 main motors
    • Height: 7.17 in (182mm)
    • Main Motors: 180 (2 installed)
    • Battery: 7.4V 800mah Li-Po (included)
    • Transmitter: FM 4-Channel (included)
    • On-Board Electronics: 4-in-1 (w/gyro, mixer,esc,rx)
    • Receiver/mixer/ESC/gyro (installed)
    • EFLRS75 High Speed, High Torque Servos (two)

    INSTRUCTION MANUAL & INCLUDED PARTS

    The E-Flite Blade CX ships in a convenient carrying case type box. This allows you to pack up the Blade and travel with it practically anywhere. It even has a handle at the top!

    Included in the box is the Blade CX fully assembled, a 4 channel transmitter, a cell balancing charger, lipo battery, small screwdriver tie straps, double sided sticky tape and an instructional video CD.

    GETTING STARTED

    The manual wisely goes over the battery warnings, guidelines and safety information which is prudent considering this helicopter is powered by a li-po battery. The obvious warnings we have all become familiar with are cited such as using the included charger, observing the pack while charging, disconnecting if the pack swells, etc.

    With the warnings out of the way you are ready to charge up the Li-Po pack. The included charger is a 2 cell balanced charger for 7.4V li-po packs. Input power for the charger requires a 12V battery such as a gel cell or car battery. Optionally you can purchase the AC to 12V power adapter from E-Flite to power the charger if you intend to charge indoors often and don't have a convenient 12V cell available.

    Simply plug in the pack to the charger and the green and red lights will illuminate. When the green light goes out and only the red light remains your charge is complete and you are ready to fly!

    To the left you can see the blade as it comes in the box and then below it you can see it with all the included components unpacked. The box doubles as a convenient carrying case for traveling.

    The transmitter included is a 4 channel model on the 72Mhz frequency band. There is a LED display at the top to indicate battery power level which adds a level of safety. 8 AA batteries are all that is required for the transmitter

    The battery pack (pictured to the right) is a 7.4V 800mah 2 cell lipo. It has one lead for charging and another which goes to the 4 in 1 control unit of the heli. Flight times of up to 15 minutes can be expected with this pack.

    2 cell 7.4 Balanced Charger
    Transmitter takes 8AA Cells
    Lipo plugs into charger


    In the photos below you can get a good view of the 4 in 1 control unit. This unit acts as the receiver, gyro, esc and mixer unit. Directly behind the control unit are the two main 180 electric motors. Behind the motors and above them sits the main shaft and counter rotating blades. At the very top of the head is the flybar assembly. This all comes assembled and ready to go out of the box.

    In the second row of photos below you can see the main gears and the two gears coming off the 180 motors. Each motor drives one of the larger gears which provides for the counter rotation of the two main blades.

    The center photo in the second row shows some available accessories and spare parts. There are main blade sets, main shaft and gear assembly and the optional AC power supply for the charger. During testing I used the AC charger and the main shaft and gear assembly replacment which broke during my crash "test".

    You can adjust the linkage between the stabilizer flybar and upper main rotor blade to adjust tracking. Mine was fine out of the factory but after the crash "test" I had to adjust it to get it right which was an easy task.

    The last picture in the second row is just a photo of the cell balancing charger connected to the pack. You can see the green and red LED's indicating charging is in progress.

    Component view from left side
    Rotor Head
    Head closeup
    Main gear and motor gears
    Spare parts & optional power unit
    Green light indicates charging

    Twin Counter-Rotating Blades Make the Blade CX Super Stable

    After the quick topping off of the li-po pack the Blade CX was ready for its first test flights. The instructions provided go over the operation and any necessary trimming adjustments in detail. In general though you can adjust the blade tracking and mix trimming on the Blade CX if it is necessary. On my test unit it did not require any trimming and flew out of the box.

    I would note that if you are a fully fledged heli beginner you might take a look at the optional training gear set before your first flight. These help to increase the stability of the model and give some extra cushion on landings. Installation of the training gear is described in detail in the manual. I used this sort of setup when I first learned glow helis and they were a tremendous aid so if you are a first timer I recommend grabbing these and installing them.

    The Blade CX uses its two main rotors to control all aspects of flight. There is no tail rotor nor is it necessary as the counter rotating blades cancel out rotational torque. The blades however can control the yaw axis by providing more or less power (speed) to one rotor blade thus increasing torque in one direction. The dual blade setup also provides a gyroscopic effect for stability that is just about rock solid.

    Indoor Flight

    Indoors the Blade CX proved to be very easy to fly and control. Without any wind the heli practically locks in anywhere you put it. You can perform circles, figure 8's, practice nose in and nose out hovering. To maintain flight in any direction you do need to apply pressure to the cyclic (right stick) in the direction you want to go. When you release and go back to center I discovered the heli went back into a stable hover which was nice.

    The helicopter is not super fast in any direction even when maximum cyclic is applied. My guess is that this is due in large part to the gyroscopic effect which provides stability that is always trying to keep the heli in a stable hover. Pirouettes are possible with the Blade CX. Doing them to the right I was able to do about one revolution every 1.5 to 2 seconds. Doing them to the left I could get a snappier speed which seemed about twice as fast.

    I was able to land the Blade CX on my kitchen counter, tables, and even a small pedestal. Believe it or not I even landed on my wifes hand and took it off from her hand. I could easily navigate it up the stairs and down the halls and land it on my air hockey "helipad" (see video clip). This thing is a lot of fun! I am still having a blast flying it now after a couple weeks. I fire it up at least once a day.

    The next test I wanted to do was the crash test. In order to do this I had to slam the Blade CX into the wall (yeah..I crashed it on purpose...and if you believe that I have this bridge to sell you...). Ok..after the "incident" I picked up the Blade CX to do a damage report. It survived fairly well but the main shaft plastic assembly broke at the very top and the flybar bent. Well, I was about to learn how to repair the CX!

    Using the supplied screwdriver I loosened up the collar at the bottom of the heli that retains the main shaft. The shaft slides out and I simply slid the new one in and reassembled and replaced the broken head pieces. All the pieces I needed were in the main gear replacement package pictured above in this review. Total repair time was 15 minutes and I was back in action (and a little less reckless on my next few flights!). Difficulty rating for the repair on a scale from one (easy) to five (hard) was a one!

    I have been seeing flight times in the 10 to 15 minute range with the out of the box stock setup.

    Outdoor Flight

    The Blade CX can handle mild amounts of wind. When a breeze comes along it will push it around a bit and the heli will drift. You can compensate and fly through the mild winds of less than 3-4mph or so but I probably wouldn't push it to much beyond that. If you do you then you will likely find you can't get enough speed to fight the wind and it will drift off along with the wind.

    With more space outdoors I was able to fool around a bit more. I took the heli up pretty high and brought it back down. I was able to push the maximum speed in all directions without running out of room as I would indoors. I could also safely do super fast pirouettes.

    The Blade CX is not designed to do aerobatics of any kind really nor can it be forced to do them. That is not the intended purpose of this heli. The most advanced "maneuver" it is capable of is a fast pirouette. Aside from that you should not expect this heli to perform loops or rolls as it is not capable of such aerobatics.


    CLICK FOR FLIGHT VIDEO



    The Blade CX RTF Coaxial Heli is a lot of fun in a very inexpensive package. This product does exactly what it says it will do and flew right out of the box for me. I have logged a couple of hours on the Blade CX with only three crashes now. Only one resulted in a repair job which proved to be a quick and easy fix.

    If you have been looking for something that you can fly outdoors on a calm day, in your own living room, family room or kitchen the E-Flite Blade CX certainly fits the bill. It was always a dream of mine for 30 years to be able to fly something "stable" in my own house and this product has certainly fulfilled that desire! I'm looking forward to many more flights on the Blade CX and would recommend it to anyone, both beginner or expert, looking for a super stable indoor/outdoor RTF electric heli.


    E-flite Blade CX Micro Helicopter

    Distributed exclusively by:
    Horizon Hobby
    4105 Fieldstone Rd.
    CHAMPAIGN, IL 61822

    Support Phone: (877) 504-0233
    Sales Phone: (800) 338-4639
    Website: www.horizonhobby.com
    email: support@horizonhobby.com

    Comments on RCU Review: E-Flite Blade CX

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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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