RCU Review: E-Flite Blade CP Pro

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    Contributed by: Eric Balay | Published: January 2007 | Views: 319102 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    E-flite Blade CP Pro

    Review by: Eric Balay

    E-flite Blade CP Pro
    Distributed exclusively by:
    Horizon Hobby
    4105 Fieldstone Rd.
    CHAMPAIGN, IL 61822
    Support Phone:
    Sales Phone: (800)338-4639

    Website: www.horizonhobby.com

    Blade CP Pro Video
    CLICK HERE to Watch

    Ease of Assembly
    Aerobatic ability

    Packaging & Manual
    Flight performance
    Truly Ready to Fly

    Mainshaft Bends Easily Tail Motor Reliability

    E-Flite vies to dominate the micro helicopter market with the new Blade CP Pro. This tiny rotorcraft is 100% ready-to-fly, and boasts impressive flight performance and durability. The $250 set includes a built and test flown helicopter, full function 6 channel transmitter, a state-of-the-art lithium-polymer battery with matching charger, and 8 AA batteries for the transmitter to get you flying faster than you can finish reading this article. Aimed at the experienced pilot, the CP Pro can be tamed to accommodate the needs of a beginner. I was really impressed with the original Blade CP. Can E-Flite make it 2-0 with the new CP Pro?

    Kit Name: E-flite Blade CP Pro , part #EFLH1300
    Price: $249.99
    Rotorspan: 20.3"
    Length: 20.7"
    Flying Weight (stock): 304 grams
    Flying Weight (with brushless motor, ESC & heading hold gyro): 335 grams
    Motors: E-flite 370 brushed or brushless (main) and N30 (tail)
    Battery used: 11.1v, 800 mah E-Flite Lithium Polymer
    Upgrade Gyro: E-Flite G90 Heading Hold Gyro
    Radio equipment: E-Flite 6ch transmitter, as supplied, includes 8 AA batteries

    Also available for the E-Flite Blade CP Pro:

    Nestled in foam
    Ready for take-off

    E-Flite packages the Blade CP Pro in a box that doubles as a handy carrying case. It's a delightful model for airline travel - the Blade carrying case fits easily into a large suitcase. My Blade has made many trips with me. It's always a treat to be able to wring out the Blade while away on business. The helicopter, transmitter, batteries and charger are fully assembled, test flown at the factory, and arrive inside the box, carefully nestled in styrofoam. I was pleased to see that 8 AA batteries are provided for the transmitter.

    Included in the box is a nice transmitter with 8 AA batteries, a rechargeable 11.1v 800 mah Li-Po flight battery, 12VDC quick battery charger, spare foam tape, cable ties, allen wrenches, and an excellent instruction manual.

    More Goodies
    Hi-Vis Yellow

    I was really pleased with the original Blade CP manual, and equally impressed with the new CP Pro instruction book. Noticeably thicker, the Pro manual covers all aspects of adjusting and flying the helicopter, plus describing in detail modifications and settings necessary to convert the CP Pro to brushless power and heading hold gyro control. Each section is presented clearly, with numerous pictures to illustrate the text. I'm a visual learner, so the pictures helped speed me through the adjustment and setup phase.

    A parts breakdown page shows all of the components, with the associated part numbers and a drawing of each piece, which is really handy for identification. Control stick inputs are described clearly and shown with photos. Simple procedures for battery installation, center-of-gravity adjustments, blade tracking, and gyro gain settings are also detailed.

    The CP Pro is perfect for those modelers who love to customize and upgrade. Several juicy upgrades are available. A high visibility yellow canopy complete with updated graphics is a good choice. I had a very hard time seeing the stock silver canopy in flight. The optional yellow canopy makes the model stand out, and really helps discern orientation.

    Miniature Gyro
    370 Brushless Motor
    Back in the Box

    Since the Blade CP Pro arrives 100% assembled, carefully adjusted and test flown at the E-Flite factory by top notch heli drivers, all that is necessary is to remove the helicopter from the box and go fly! You will need to install 8 AA sized batteries (included with the CP Pro - E-Flite was listening to my review of the original Blade, in which I complained that transmitter batteries were not included) in the transmitter.

    Don't discard the colorful box and foam inserts! With the included handle, it's the perfect carrying case for your Blade. If you mount the G90 gyro as shown in the instructions, you'll have to remove some of the foam from the inserts to get the helicopter to fit back in the box again.

    Stock Brushed Motor
    Pull the Motor Leads...
    ...when checking the Blade Pitch

    The 6 channel transmitter includes adjustment knobs for the Idle-Up throttle curve midpoint (named TCM) and gyro gain setting. I was pleased to find that the Blade CP Pro includes the required 8 AA batteries for the transmitter, which means you can literally buy the model at the hobby shop, and head straight to the flying field. The Lithium-polymer battery is shipped charged, and thus you can enjoy flying your Blade CP Pro within 3 minutes of opening the box! That's impressive!

    A convention with most helicopter transmitters is the placement of idle-up (left side) and throttle hold switches (right side). The idle-up switch on the E-Flite transmitter is placed on the right side of the unit. The left side switch is the trainer switch. I find that conformity between setups is critical when flying different models. I learned this technique many years ago, while trying to switch to throttle hold mode following a horrendous crash. The throttle hold switch was in a different place than I was accustomed, and the ensuing carnage that developed while I frantically tried flipping switches to find the throttle hold function made a real mess of my heli (which was quickly transforming itself into a pile of DuBro parts). Anyways... the moral of my story is; when you're dealing with model helicopters, keep it simple, and keep it similar.

    Back to the story... The Blade CP Pro transmitter features the idle-up switch on the right side of the transmitter, which is typically mounted on the left side. I removed the back transmitter cover and swapped the trainer and idle-up switches so that they match the configuration of my other transmitters. This allows me to maintain continuity between my helis, and I don't have to re-think the control layout of a particular model. For some pilots this is a non-issue, but I don't think it makes sense to have different switch positions for different models. Then again, I'm a picky modeler, and if something isn't just right, then it has to be changed. For most of the Blade pilots reading this review, the supplied switch positions aren't going to be an annoyance.

    While I was dissecting the transmitter to reposition the switches, I modified the throttle stick ratchet. Adjusting the tension on the metal tab by carefully bending it away from the ratchet flange allowed me to smooth out throttle stick movements. I also chose to change the stick tension of the cyclic and rudder gimbals, by simply adjusting the rocker spring screws clockwise to tighten, and counter-clockwise to loosen.

    The E-Flite micro blade pitch gauge is handy for checking blade pitch. My Pro came set from the factory with +12 to -12 degrees of pitch in Idle-up mode. Be sure to disconnect the motor leads at the 3-in-1 unit to prevent the blades from spinning.

    Bell Mixers
    Heatsink Included
    G90 In Control

    The swashplate control system used on the Blade CP has been carried over to the CP Pro. For an explanation of CCPM control systems, see my review of the original Blade CP.

    The CP Pro includes the Bell mixer upgrade that was recently released as a retrofit option for first generation blade CP's. This set of small levers provides extra cyclic control authority by introducing an additional control input directly from the swashplate to the rotor blade, known as Bell control. A typical flybar-less rotor head works solely on the Bell control principle. In contrast, the original Blade CP rotor head is a "Hiller" only design, by where cyclic inputs from the swashplate work to change the angle of the flybar paddles, which then teeter to move the blade grips and change the blade pitch. The ancient GMP Cricket helicopter employed a Hiller only control system. A combination of these two control techniques is found in the majority of model helicopter designs, which affords a highly responsive yet manageable cyclic control. The Bell mixer upgrade on the CP Pro makes cyclic commands quick and crisp.

    The CP Pro sports a 3-in-1 unit (gyro, main motor esc, tail motor esc) and a separate 6 channel receiver. It looks like one box, but the two small devices are simply foam taped together. The 6 channel receiver makes it easy to upgrade the CP Pro to a brushless main motor and heading hold gyro. Detailed instructions in the manual make this as easy as pie.

    During the power-up phase, the electronic gyro senses a zero rotation baseline condition to serve as a reference point for angular acceleration stabilization. When you plug in the battery, don't move the helicopter until the solid green LED illuminates, or else your gyro will not work properly. Make sure the Idle-Up switch is deactivated (set towards the rear of the transmitter). The LED light on the "3-in-1" unit will blink red and then green during the start-up period, and then when properly initialized will show steady green. At this point, power to the drive motors is enabled and the Blade CP Pro is ready for take-off.

    Tail rotor control is achieved by modulating the speed of the fixed pitch tail rotor with the tiny tail motor and a second speed controller. This design avoids the typically sloppy tail pitch changing linkage found on other micro helicopters that use one motor to drive both the main and tail rotors. Tail holding power using the stock 3-in-1 gyro is adequate for simple aerobatics (loops, rolls, stall turns). For solid tail holding performance for 3D maneuvers, you'll need to upgrade to a heading hold gyro like the G90.

    Before making any modifications, I flew the helicopter in its stock configuration a few times to evaluate its performance. Since I've logged many flights on several Blades, it was easy for me to discern the differences with the CP Pro. Tail control was good, not as "notchy" as with the generation 1 models. I immediately noticed an increase in cyclic speed, due to the Bell mixers. Tracking was on the money, and the Pro flew smoothly (no vibrations) right out of the box. Flight performance was good, with loops, rolls and inverted flight well within its grasp. Backwards flight was possible at low speeds, but the stock rate gyro doesn't afford precise control. The stock transmitter worked perfectly.

    I attached the tiny G90 heading hold gyro with a piece of the supplied double stick foam tape. It fits nicely on the small plastic gyro platform located behind the aft two swashplate servos. Note that the CP Pro main frame is different than the original Blade CP frame in this aspect. Make sure to set the ultra tiny switches on the side of the G90 for "servo" type (STD) and direction (REV). I chose to use the remote gain control option, allowing me to make adjustments via the knob on the upper right side of the transmitter.

    304 grams as stock
    354 grams Blinged
    800 mah Li-Po

    The Blade CP Pro includes a set of pre-built and weight matched symmetrical wooden rotor blades. They work very well when paired with the stock brushed motor and battery, which allows for over 10 minutes of flying time per charge using the 800mah E-Flite li-po pack. I added a dab of Zap/Pacer Z-42 blue locktite to the blade bolts to prevent the nuts from loosening.

    Replacement parts are affordable, and available at most local hobby shops and almost all mail-order sites. Even rough crashes usually only result in a set of dinged up yet still flyable blades, and a damaged main gear / bent main shaft, which is a one piece assembly that will set you back a whopping $5.99. It is surprising to me that even crash damaged Blades (as long as nothing is obviously ruined) still fly fairly well, with little degradation of control. I once punished my Blade with 3 hard crashes, and despite the torn rotor blade covering and bent main shaft, cosmetic damage, and severe vibration, it still flew with a good margin of power and decent control authority.

    My complaint with the Blade CP Pro is that the main shaft will bend very easily in a mishap. A harder shaft that would resist minor crash damage would be a major improvement.

    Also, the little N30 tail motor works very hard, especially when driven by the G90 Heading Hold gyro. When the tail motor fails or burns up, the Blade will pirouette out of control, and you'll need lightning quick reflexes to avoid a crash landing. I haven't met a Blade pilot yet who hasn't lost a tail motor in flight. An improvement in tail motor reliability would be most welcome.

    The stock "blue" Li-Po battery that comes with the Pro will give flight times of approximately 8 minutes of hard flying with the symmetrical rotor blades. Charging is a set-and-forget affair. Please be careful when charging lithium polymer batteries!! I ONLY charge my Li-Po batteries in a fire safe container, like the ceramic "Battery Bunker". Keep a fire extinguisher and a bucket of sand nearby in case of fire. Li-po batteries can ignite, explode and otherwise spontaneously combust, spewing toxic fumes and burning at a few thousand degrees farenheit. This will handily burn through your table, flight box, or even the floor of your car, causing serious damage. Please keep these safety precautions in mind - these batteries are dangerous when improperly handled.

    Lithium polymer batteries require the cells to be voltage balanced with each other to provide long life. E-Flite includes a cell balancing charger that does the work for you. Fully automatic (it turns itself off when charging is complete) it requires a 12VDC source, such as a car battery. Aslo available is a 120VAC adapter to allow charging from a US standard household outlet.

    In my review of the original Blade CP, I was amazed at the smooth flight characteristics and tracked blades straight out of the box. The CP Pro didn't disapppoint. E-Flite test flies every Blade before it's shipped. Our rotor blades were in track, and the gear train ran smoothly. Hovering was smooth and steady - no noticeable vibration. When they say it's ready to fly, straight out of the box, they mean it!

    As the "Pro" moniker might suggest, the Blade CP Pro is designed for experienced pilots. Beginner pilots are drawn to the CP Pro, but have a hard time learning to control the Pro. I urge them to choose the standard Blade CP instead, or install the flat bottom rotor blades and move the flybar weights towards the paddles if they've already purchased the CP Pro. The bell mixer arms really liven up the cyclic. I chose to increase this response by moving the outer wheel collars on the flybar inward towards the rotor hub. This reduces the moment of inertia of the flybar assembly and makes cyclic inputs more effective. However, expect the Blade to become a bit pitchy (instability in the pitch axis), especially in breezy conditions, if you do the same.

    With the stock brushed motors, 9-10 minute aerobatic flights are well within reason. I haven't yet pushed my li-pos to the point that the heli just won't hover any longer, as its easy way to inflict permanent cell damage. With the brushless conversion, I'm able to get 8 minutes of hard flying in before taking it easy on the batteries. In addition to the two rubber bands, I use a Velcro tie to provide additional security to prevent the battery from coming loose in flight. Always check the balance point after installing a battery to insure that the Pro hangs level fore/aft when suspended from the flybar.

    If you tap the tail rotor on the ground, it's prudent to check that the little piece of fuel tubing that holds the tail rotor blade to the drive gear hasn't slipped. If the tail blade isn't properly secured to this drive gear, the tiny motor pinion could disengage in the air and your tail rotor will stop. If this happens, you'll get a healthy dose of high speed pirouetting practice.

    The performance with the stock symmetrical wooden rotor blades is good, but the optional carbon fiber rotor blades (EFLH1147C) really make the CP Pro sizzle. I added a few strips of white tape to the blade tips to help me keep track of the diminuitive chopper.

    Control is excellent for a copter of this size. My Blade CP Pro has weathered 12-14 mph winds! This heli widens the capable flight envelope of the original Blade CP. The CP Pro will perform hovering flips & rolls, backwards rolls, nice 15-20' loops (inside & outside), and even sideways flight. I was even able to coax a some-what recognizable piroloop out of the little guy, which really blew me away. Other conventional maneuvers like hovering, forward flight, stall turns, pirouetting circles and figure-8's give you plenty of reasons to show off to your flying buddies. Backwards flight with the G90 gyro is solid as long as the speed is not too fast. I set the gyro gain remotely at the transmitter, set to 100%. You won't find tail holding power on-par with a 401 equipped 50 sized nitro bird, but yaw control is solid enough to allow confident inverted hovering 1" above the deck in a 6mph crosswind. Considering the Pro's sub one pound weight, that's really impressive! With the quicker cyclic rate afforded by moving the flybar weight inwards, expect the Blade to flip and roll crisply, but remember that it will be a little more pitchy.

    In order to get my Blade CP Pro to fly this aggressively, I added the carbon main rotor blades, G90 gyro, and 370 brushless motor with 20 amp ESC. The stock transmitter works perfectly, and didn't need any modifications to coax the aerobatic performance that you'll see in the video. I also used the optional yellow canopy to help with visual orientation, as the silver canopy is hard to see in low light situations.

    New pilots will want to move the flybar weights out towards the flybar paddles to slow down cyclic response. A trainer function on the radio allows an expert to help the fledgling pilot progress towards more advanced maneuvers without the risk of crashing. The robust rotor head design affords stable hovering, even in breezy weather.

    Overall, the Blade CP Pro is a blast to fly, and the best Blade yet! I've let several modelers fly mine, and everyone is surprised by its performance!

    See the E-flite Blade CP Pro in action!

    Small Video 12.1 MB
    Large Video 29.4 MB

    The Blade CP Pro is a winner! E-Flite includes everything necessary to get the model flying within minutes of opening the box. Factory flight testing assures that every Blade arrives ready to fly. The bell mixer arms speed up cyclic maneuvers, and the Li-Po battery improves the power to weight ratio. The fantastic instruction manual covers every aspect of adjusting and flying the model. Upgrading to brushless power and heading hold tail control is easy, and opens up the door to a wide variety of impressive maneuvers. I never expected to find a micro heli that would perform basic 3D maneuvers - even the power hungry piroloop - at high altitude (6000'), but the CP Pro delivers!

    E-flite Blade CP Pro Micro Helicopter & Accessories
    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

    Zap / Pacer SuperGlue, Epoxy, Adhesives & Threadlock Products
    Distributed exclusively by:
    Frank Tiano Enterprises
    3607 Ventura Drive E.
    Lakeland, FL 33811
    Phone: (863) 607-6611
    Website: www.franktiano.com/ZapFrameset-3.htm
    email: frank@franktiano.com

    Comments on RCU Review: E-Flite Blade CP Pro

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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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