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First "Real" Heli?

Old 10-10-2011, 11:24 AM
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N419BH
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Default First "Real" Heli?

Hello All.

I'm looking to get into helis (Already have a P-51 fixed wing) and I'm looking for advice on which helicopter would be a good starter. I already have experience with ultra micro counter-rotating helis and have basically mastered them, so I'm thinking a larger heli in that design category wouldn't be much of a challenge. While I'm decently good at aircraft setup I know nothing about setting up helis for flight. It seems to me the primary options are fixed pitch or variable pitch main rotors. Do I need a fixed pitch heli first or can I jump straight to variable pitch? I have a DX6i radio so I'm probably looking at a BNF to save money and avoid having to configure servos. I've been looking at some of the Blade offerings but again I don't know much about helis so I'm kind of shooting in the dark. I'm not looking to get into 3D heli flying, I'm more of a scale flyer. Thoughts?
Old 10-10-2011, 03:19 PM
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madmorgan
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Default RE: First

to many to choose from what does your lhs sell? what are replacement parts inventory at your lhs like? i went straight into the 6 channel learning all the way by myself it helps if u have locals to help but do yourself a favor and get a sim like realflight and do lotsa reading on heli repair and head setup etc etc

Old 10-10-2011, 03:30 PM
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Default RE: First

500 size if you can afford it 450 size if not.

One that will be easy to get parts for like the T-rex and it's clones.

You'll spend more time fixing than flying so there will be tools to buy also.

Like madmorgan said your number one purcace should be a sim. I have the Real Flight Sim myself but there are other out there also.


Old 10-10-2011, 10:57 PM
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N419BH
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Default RE: First

My LHS carries Blade, Align, and T-Rex brands. I was thinking the Blade 120 SR BNF but perhaps this is too small? I need something that's more of a challenge than a counter-rotating heli but not so complicated that I'm going to be replacing the main rotor blades after every flight. Really I think the biggest decision is fixed pitch vs. collective pitch and then size after that.
Old 10-11-2011, 01:28 AM
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Default RE: First

Yeah, I started with a Blade SR, which is a 300 size heli. If I had it to do over again I'd go with a T-rex 500 size clone.

When you get a sim you will see how hard it is to fly the little helis over the larger ones.

The Blades fly great but their problem in they have easily broken plastic parts that cost as much as carbon and CNC metal parts on a T-rex clone.

I crashed my Blade SR last year and tore up the head and cracked the frame. It would cost $120 to fix it. It would have cost $400 to fix it with upgraded CNC parts. I bought a new 450 size Carbon fiber-CNC T-rex clone called an EXI 450 on sale for $37.00 with free shipping

Here is a web site with tons of good information on the RC Heli Hobby.
http://www.rchelicopterfun.com/
Old 10-11-2011, 07:24 AM
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ATVAlliance
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Default RE: First

I agree with the 500 size.  I just put one together back in July and PNP (plug n play means all I didnt have to buy was battery, reciever, transmitter) I am in the thing for MAYBE 250 bucks (and thats including ridiculous shipping fees).

Its much more tame than my 450's and easier to see.

However, I just recently ran across a deal on a Raptor 50 that I just couldnt pass up so I bought it.  Man, IF I had to do over and had the money...I would have started out on that.

The 600 size (as is the Raptor 30/50)...is so much easier to fly than the 450 and 500 its unreal.  Maybe its in setup as I have no mentor and have setup my 450's and 500 all on my own and this Raptor came RTF...so I havent done anything to it but put fuel in and fly.

I know its a large chunck...but if you can afford it....the 600 size airframes and the Raptor 50 really gives you a lot more confidence in the way that they fly and handle.
Old 10-11-2011, 05:50 PM
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madmorgan
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Default RE: First

i def love my trex 600 over the rest except for the mcpx only reason for that is because its such a sturdy lil guy but the bigger the easier on the eyes
Old 10-11-2011, 06:01 PM
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N419BH
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Default RE: First

Yeah I fairly quickly came to the conclusion that the trex stuff is pretty much the gold standard, even when I was hanging around the local RC field and didn't even have my P-51 Mustang yet.I'm taking a liking to the Blade 450 thanks to the pre-trimmed test flown Bind and Fly. At $300 all I'd have to do is grab a couple extra batteries (already have a balancing 4-port charger) some charge leads for said charger, and program my DX6i and I should be good to go. This does change the scenario a little bit as I was originally planning on getting a micro heli and learing indoors over the winter but you guys have convinced me bigger is better so it'll be simulator all winter buy the heli in the spring. That website that was pointed out earlier is AMAZING.
Old 10-12-2011, 06:47 AM
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ATVAlliance
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Default RE: First

Even though the 450 is much bigger than a micro heli...its still a small one.

There is definitely nothing wrong with starting out on the 450 size airframe.  I have learned to hover and fly around in slow forward flight on mine.  Its just the thing (even with the flybar weights on the very end of the flybar and a lot of EXPO on the TX) is like a hummingbird on crack compared to the 500 and especially the 600 size Raptor 50 (setup for beginners).

Things can go wrong in an instance on ANY size heli and if you dont have the muscle memory to make corrections in a millesecond...a crash is inevitable.  But it seems that I have more time to react to the 500 size t-rex clone and even more time to react with the 600 sized Raptor.  Plus the Raptor hovers so much nicer than the 500 or 450....well not "nicer", but require a lot less input of the sticks to maintain stable solid hover.

The 500 and up airframes do have a disadvantage, and that is that they cost more to repair (although the 500 doesnt seem to be THAT much more compared to the 450).  But, its still an issue to some.  However, you MIGHT have less crashes on a 5 or 600 size heli than you would on a 450...so it MIGHT end up being the same cost over a given period of time in your learning.

Also, I agree with you that the concensus is that Align is "Top Dawg"...but really I dont own any Align helis.  Both of my 450's and my 500 are EXI clones and I couldnt be any happier.  I have used some Align parts on them just to beef up some things like the main and tail and feathering shafts as I feel that the Align ones are a bit more rigid and made from better steele...but the rest of the hardware is EXI or clone stuff and so far it has worked fine (no 3D stuff for me yet).

So, you owe it to yourself to price out some clones and not just buy Align based on name alone.  For you will see that you could build 2 or 3 clones to the cost of one Align heli.

here are a couple links you might find interesting...

http://www.xheli.com/exi450arfrar.html
http://www.xheli.com/60p-dy-1017.html
http://www.xheli.com/topromisesg9.html
http://www.xheli.com/07e05-proton-40a.html
http://www.xheli.com/al4007oubrmo.html

The above links are pretty much what I have used to build my "beater 450"...which is a good starter heli for a person starting out.  Everything above is what you would need to build it minus the TX/RX and battery.  I would go with a good middle of the road TX like the Spektrum DX7.  But you can buy a cheapo one off xheli if you like.  Its just this hobby is addicting and if you stick with it you will get much more mileage from the DX7 than you will from a cheapo unit.  Plus you can buy the BNF stuff from Horizon like the Blade helis and the park flier planes and such from eflight, etc...

Those parts add up to around 100 bucks and then there is shipping which would probably be another 35-50 bucks...so for under 150 dollars you can have that heli basically as a PNP (everything minus battery and TX/RX).  Try and buy the cheapest Align 450 heli for that!

Anyway...I know I have been long winded, just trying to give back to the community here and help someone out that was much like myself only a year ago.

goodluck!

Old 10-12-2011, 01:00 PM
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N419BH
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Default RE: First

I already have a DX6iso I don't have to worry about a TX. But what you've described to me is a $100 flying machine...minus receiver, batteries, and blades. Interesting.
Old 10-13-2011, 04:33 AM
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ATVAlliance
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Default RE: First


ORIGINAL: N419BH

I already have a DX6iso I don't have to worry about a TX. But what you've described to me is a $100 flying machine...minus receiver, batteries, and blades. Interesting.
Im pretty sure the 37 dollar one comes with fiberglass blades. But if not, they are cheap there too.

Also, your DX6i will be fine. I wasnt aware you already had that.

I use the Spektrum 6100 and 6110 RX's on my 450's. They work fine even though they are more of a park flier type RX. You wont be getting a 450 that far away from you to warrant spending the extra cash for a 6200 or up RX.

Once you build your beater and learn. You can always upgrade your head and tail with metal as well as upgrade your servos to something better like HS65MG's. You may even want to upgrade the gyro once you get into 3D, but that GY48V does fine for normal flying and learning.

With the money you save on building the clone...you could use some of it to buy a nice sim like Phoenix(I have Clear View sim and its pretty good too-cheaper). If you dont have a mentor to teach you/buddy box...the simulator is a MUST have. Else you will be working on the heli more than flying it. Kinda like RCcars/trucks. LOL

Goodluck!
Old 10-13-2011, 09:50 AM
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N419BH
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Default RE: First

Phoenix is already on the to-buy list. I might grab a Blade 120SRfor indoor flying too. I'm not looking to go 3D, scale flying is my ultimate goal. My concern with buying a clone is spending more money on cheap parts that break than I would if I bought genuine parts in the first place.
Old 10-14-2011, 06:16 AM
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ATVAlliance
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ORIGINAL: N419BH

Phoenix is already on the to-buy list. I might grab a Blade 120SRfor indoor flying too. I'm not looking to go 3D, scale flying is my ultimate goal. My concern with buying a clone is spending more money on cheap parts that break than I would if I bought genuine parts in the first place.
The sim and a smaller heli for practicing orientation is a good plan. It will save you tons of time and some money in rebuilds for sure.

Wether your goal is or isnt 3D doesnt really matter. But if it did just for conversation sake...the clone would be more than enough to fit that bill. I mean 3D stresses a heli more than scale flying and if you are skeptical of the quality of the clones...any of them, EXIor otherwise will perform scale type flying with ease.

In the end its your money and your choice to buy what makes you feel comfortable. Im not a rep of EXI and gain nothing regardless of what you buy. Just trying to give you some advice that will help simply because Ive recently gone down the same road you are on now.

Most people I come into contact with in our sport finds that RC things in general are like Lays potato chips. You cant stop at just one. And if that ends up being the case with you...not long after you get your first heli off the ground and are able to hover, you will be looking for a 2nd, 3rd 4th...one. Can you afford to buy top of the line equipment every time you want to get something newer or bigger? If so...then that of course is fine. But if not (this is the boat I am in), then you may want to work your way up into something nicer or "top of the line". I recently did just that with my purchase of a very nice barely used Raptor 50. However, my first 3 helis were EXIclones that I dont have as much money in all 3 of them as I would have a loaded up blinged out Align 450 (I have 2 450's and a 500).

So...ulitmately it is your choice to spend your money as you see fit. But if you want a GOOD heli that will get you to where you want to be in this hobby...there is absolutely nothing wrong by starting out with a clone. Then upgrade it with Align parts as you break them or can afford them. Heck, my "bling bling"450 looks just like an align now as you can see in my picture posted in this reply.


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Old 10-14-2011, 12:14 PM
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N419BH
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Default RE: First

I bought Phoenix and a Blade 120SR yesterday...along with a bunch of extra battery packs (already have an excellent 4 port multi charger). So I'll be working on orientation and cyclic all winter and will just have to learn the collective when I do get the big bird.

Taking a strong liking to the Blade 450 but the clone is indeed an option. The local hobby shop said it was a bad idea but obviously he'll make money selling me an Align or Blade heli. He won't make a dime if I buy a clone on the internet.

What's nice about the local hobby shop is he's nice enough to admit that up front. He's also got a full selection of replacement parts for both Blade and Align helis. So if the clone really is 100% parts compatible (is it?) then maybe it's worth it. Or maybe it's not if by the time I've replaced all the broken EXI parts with Align parts I've spent more than if I bought the Align in the first place.

Ah, decisions decisions.

I also am likely moving cross-country in the next few months which throws selecting a heli based on parts availability at the LHS out the window completely. Looks like the place I'm moving to has an entire hobby warehouse so perhaps I'm good in that regard.

I do appreciate all your help. One thing's for sure, $100 is much easier to swallow than $300 for a Blade or $500 plus for an Align.
Old 10-17-2011, 01:04 PM
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ATVAlliance
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Default RE: First



Congrats on your purchase!  Welcome to the addiction...I mean hobby. LOL

I wont get long winded here as its the end of the day and Im ready to leave...but for short...

Dont worry about spare parts for the EXI.  You can get them EVERYWHERE.  I have bought spare parts for mine from Horizon (Align stuff) as well as the LHS that sells Align.

Also...I have bought a lot of parts from xheli as well as eBay.  Trust me...450 parts, clone or otherwise are available everywhere.

If you come from the school of supporting local business and local busniess only.  I cant fault that.  I used to be a small business owner and I could not compete with the internet companies.  But I did not try to...I rather tried to provide a better service to my customer that was worth them spending the extra money to do business with me.  However, my business wasnt a hobby shop...so its not quite the same.

I just wanted to point out to you that you can buy your spares from anywhere...and that unless you just believe in supporting the small guy (which is totally ok)...you can save a ton by buying online.

You can buy a CNC metal head and tail complete combo from xheli for 30 bucks...you cant buy the Align metal tail / head upgrade anywhere near that.

Again...if you budget supports buying Align...you should.  If I didnt care about saving at every corner just so I can have a plethora of different models to fly (planes and helis)...I would just buy top of the line everything.  Unfortunately, my salary doesnt afford me to do that...so I am very frugal in my purchases.  And saying that...I know from experience that you can get a pretty darn good heli on the cheap.

Goodluck with whatever route you chose and be sure to let us know how it goes with the heli as well as the move.

Old 10-20-2011, 05:38 PM
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N419BH
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Default RE: First

The Blade 120 arrived today at the LHS. Picked it up and the extra batteries I ordered, bound it to my DX6i, and fired her up. The first battery pack was spent messing with the trims. On the second pack I got airborne. Altitude control is much easier in real life than it is in the sim. Attitude control is much harder. I've gone through four battery packs and am able to fly her in a nice hover. On the fourth flight I attempted some sideview hover but I lost orientation and she went into the coffee table. No damage and I'm working on 45 degree hovers instead. Have not attempted much in the manner of flying in any direction, just getting a feel for her. I'm being extremely conservative with the batteries as these are my first LiPos. 5:30 flight times leave the battery warm and showing 3.75 volts. The batteries so far are taking 300-400 mAh when charged from this state but that's only using two batteries for data so I'm sure I'll be adjusting flight times and charge times to keep the batteries in the acceptable range. 80% discharged would be 400 mAh since these are 500 mAh packs. So far so good and I'm having a blast.
Old 10-24-2011, 11:35 AM
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N419BH
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Default RE: First

Well, as I was kinda worried about the Blade 120 isn't much of a challenge. I can hover her just fine tail in and am decently good at nose in. She's a pain to fly outdoors as even in light wind I need almost full stick to hold position in the hover.

What batteries would you recommend for that EXI.....I could buy the heli and two complete sets of spare parts (aka three helis) for $100....that's pretty hard to beat even if they are plastic. 

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