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        Article Revell Proto Max Ultra-Micro 4 Channel 2.4GHz Helicopter RTF Review

Revell Proto Max Ultra-Micro 4 Channel 2.4GHz Helicopter RTF Review

We're blown away with how much fun this is in a big room or outside!

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Introduction

Proto Max
Proto Max
Main Rotor Diameter:7.5"
Weight:1 oz.
Length:8.25"
Gyro:Heading hold
Transmitter:4 channel 2.4 GHz
Receiver:2.4 GHz on the 5 in 1 board
Battery:3.7V 130mAh LiPo
Motor:No information supplied
ESC:On the 5 in 1 board
Manufacturer:Revell
Available From:Fine Hobby Stores Everywhere
Price:$99.98

The new Proto Max is a four channel helicopter controlled with a 2.4GHz transmitter that can be set to Mode 1 or Mode 2 control and has dual rate controls. The Proto Max has a single rotor and a fly bar and is designed to be more maneuverable than the previous coaxial helicopters and therefore is recommended for pilots who want to advance their helicopter flying skills. Revell has this as a level 2 helicopter, not for the beginner but rather for the pilot who has mastered the basic control of a coaxial helicopter and is ready to advance with something faster with quicker movement. I'll cover the basics of the Ready to Fly Proto Max and then get into the flight review of how the Proto Max handles in low rate setting and then on the high rate setting.

Kit Contents

Kit Includes

  • Proto Max helicopter RTF
  • 4 channel 2.4GHz transmitter/charger
  • 3.7V 130mAh LiPo flight battery
  • 4 AA Alkaline Batteries for transmitter/charger
  • Screwdriver
  • Instruction manual

Assembly

The Proto Max Ultra-micro helicopter arrived fully assembled. I only had to install the four included AA Alkaline batteries into the back of the transmitter/charger. There is a monitor screen on the front of the transmitter. With the batteries installed and the transmitter on, the battery indicator on the left side of the screen should show a fully charged battery. I monitor the bars in the screen battery so I know when to replace the four AA batteries. Next I charged the flight battery on the back of the transmitter/charger. To do this the power/charge switch on the top of the transmitter is turned on to charge the flight battery. A small port cover slides off the back of the transmitter and the battery slides into the battery charge port. The charge time can be up to a full hour per the instruction manual. A green LED on the back of the transmitter is lit when the battery is charging. When the green LED goes out the charging is complete. The charging process should be monitored for safety and the battery removed when the charging light goes out. (Be sure to turn off the transmitter. I forgot once and the batteries in the transmitter do run down!)

Transmitter

The transmitter was identified as broadcasting on 2.4GHz. Beyond that no specific information on the method of broadcasting was supplied. I did fly my Proto Max helicopter with several other aircraft on other companies’ 2.4GHz, and none of us experienced any conflicts but there were a maximum of only ten aircraft/transmitters on during the test. The transmitter arrived on Mode 2 which is the most popular mode here in the US. The mode of the transmitter is posted on the screen of the transmitter when it is turned on. The transmitter can be converted to Mode 1 and the process is described on page 4 and 5 of the instruction manual. It is a simple process and involves removing and reinstalling the antenna. FYI: the proper antenna position is the vertical position per the manual and that worked well in operation.

The transmitter is a 4 channel transmitter and in Mode 2 the left, collective, stick controls the throttle and the rudder (turning left or right). The right stick, cyclic, controls forward and side to side pitch and thereby movement. They call it the “pitch roll stick” which explains why it functions very well. There are trim tab buttons for both sticks, and their positions can be viewed on the transmitter monitor by where the trim tab bars are positioned on the screen. The trim tabs allow for small directional corrections that let me center the Proto Max in hover.

The helicopter has both a beginner and advanced settings. These are dual rates: The low rate is the beginner setting and the high rate is the advanced setting. There is a circle split in half in the center of the monitor. When in the advanced setting, both sides of the circle are dark. When in beginner mode, only the left side of the circle is dark, and the right half is empty. Pushing the right stick straight down allowed me to go from beginner to advanced position and back to beginner. By looking at the circle on the monitor screen I knew instantly what rate was turned on at the time.

Binding the Helicopter to the Transmitter

On the transmitter screen there are three large number spaces in the middle of the screen under the circle discussed above. To bind the helicopter to the transmitter they instruct that the transmitter needs to be turned on with the throttle stick all the way down and the trim tab centered. The three numbers on the monitor are the throttle position indicator, and they should read 000. With the transmitter properly set up, turn it off. Connect the now charged LiPo battery into the battery holder under the helicopter by sliding it in place per the arrow on the battery. Leave the helicopter sitting on its landing skids in an upright and steady position. There will be a blinking blue light inside the helicopter. Turn on the transmitter. In a few seconds the transmitter and helicopter should bind and the blue light should go from flashing to solidly lit. The helicopter and transmitter are now bound.

Exploring the Proto Max

Completion

The helicopter was ready to fly. I did a flight with a coaxial helicopter to warm up and get my head into the helicopter. A minute of mental preparation and a final check of the helicopter and transmitter are always good things to do before flying. I gave a good looking over of the Proto Max and she was good to go!

Flying

The Proto Max is for the pilot who has learned the basics of helicopter control and wants to advance. This review is written with the transitioning pilot in mind and will include video of a flight by Dick Andersen, a pilot ready to transition to a single rotor helicopter. There are several videos of me flying the Proto Max. My first recommendation is for the pilot to warm up their helicopter piloting skills by flying their coaxial helicopter if they have one and do it aggressively. If that can't be handled, KEEP FLYING THE COAXIAL HELICOPTER until it can be controlled with some aggressive maneuvers. Dick Andersen warmed up with a coaxial helicopter flight before flying the Proto Max.

For first flights have a large open space with no objects in your way if possible. I consider 10' by 10' to be the minimum space I would recommend. 15' by 15' is even better. A double garage with the cars out is a good starting place. We fortunately had our church's fellowship hall to fly in for our large space. It isn't so much that we need that much space it is that for the transitioning pilot more space means less pressure and a more relaxed atmosphere.

After warming up my reflexes with an aggressive coaxial flight program. I planned my first flight with the Proto Max with small stick movements to check and correct for drift. My first hops were short and quick. After taking off and quickly climbing a couple of feet up to get out of the helicopter’s ground effect I checked for drift. Then I landed and made corrections to the trim on the transmitter in response to the drift. I then moved the helicopter back to the center of the room and repeated as necessary until I felt I had the Proto Max basically dialed in. The Proto Max did not hover as easily as my best coaxial helicopter does. It required a little more attention and correction for drift but not very much. I found that once I got her up out of the ground effect and centered the Proto Max came well trimmed and required only one adjustment of a couple clicks on one trim tab. Further I found its hover was pretty smooth. I found that while she would travel faster then most coaxial helicopters I have flown, her response time was only slightly faster. That was what is needed in a helicopter designed to be used by the transitioning pilot. After the first two trim flights a video was taken of me flying the Proto Max. That is the second video below.

Basics

As discussed above the Proto Max was a four channel helicopter and arrived in a mode two set up with throttle and rudder control on the left stick with forward and side control on the right stick. By combining multiple input commands the helicopter could be flown in any direction. Giving one directional command at a time the Proto Max was very easy to control. A minimal amount of direction correction for drift was required (Again, some is always required with RC helicopters.). I very seldom had over correction problems. The helicopter was responsive but not so responsive that I over directed as I sometimes do with my more aerobatic helicopters.

Combining a left turn with the left stick with left sideways flight and forward flight commands combined I could do a circle to the left with the nose of the Proto Max always facing the center of the circle. By adding a little up throttle at the start I could get a faster circle with more of a banked turn. That banking would last well after the throttle was reduced. This was possible in Beginner setting but worked better with the transmitter in Advanced setting. I found I had good control in all directions.

If I watched for it I could see that it was slowing down as the battery was running down. However if not paying attention the battery could simply die and the Proto Max could fall from the sky when the battery was shut off by the ESC to protect it from discharging to low. This can be seen at the end of Dick Andersen's video below.

Taking Off and Landing

Throttle up and quickly climb to a couple feet above your starting point. I found that very slow takeoffs could lead to drifting in the ground effect and that drifting could accelerate in the direction of the drift sometimes quite quickly. By climbing quickly up to two feet above the starting point I quickly got out of drift and the hover of the Proto Max was easy to obtain and maintain. Landing was best performed by reducing throttle while in a hover.

Directional takeoffs were easy to perform nine out of ten times from a flat smooth surface. I could give a little directional input with the right stick at the same time as I powered up the throttle. Just a little right stick input initially worked best but could be quickly increased once I had climbed a couple of inches. These did not work well from the grass or thick carpeting which often caught the skids in the process. With practice landings to a flat smooth surface only were easy to perform from forward flight with just a slight flair at the end with backward (up elevator) stick movement. Landings from the other three directions were more difficult and needed slower directional speed to not tip over.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

On Beginner (low) rates the Proto Max was easy to control and beginner friendly but not very aerobatic. It had more performance than almost all coaxial helicopters but was almost as easy to fly as a coaxial helicopter. It could develop good direction speeds by inducing tilt with two or more directional commands (especially increased throttle) at the same time or in rapid succession. Slamming the right stick from side to side or front to back could get some dramatic tilt but could also interfere with normal control of the helicopter by the pilot due to wobble or a sudden and rapid slide in one direction with excessive tilt. Practice over a soft landing (crashing) area let me learn what I could and couldn't do successfully very quickly.

Going to the advance (high) rates this helicopter was much more responsive. It was in no way 3D but in a large space it was a hoot to operate. It was definitely more responsive then at low rates but remained a helicopter best for indoor flights or outside in a breeze of 5 mph or less. In a large room or good side yard I could get up some very nice speed with the Proto Max and do some bank turns and minor tricks. I noticed the helicopter even in a straight hover assumed a slit rightward tilt in appearance that gave it a different active look but this did not correspond to any travel to the right. The control in calm conditions remained very good. With a breeze it was easy to penetrate and control the helicopter or go into a hover and drift with the breeze. This flying requires the pilot to be able to control on reflexes and not have to think: "What do I do next?" I found the helicopter lived up to its billing of being a way for the pilot who wants to improve quickly, to do so.

Flying Outdoors

Remember that this helicopter only weighs one ounce and was designed for indoor flying. That said, it is just too much fun not to fly her outdoors when the conditions allow.

For the advanced Beginner pilot who is learning to transition I recommend that the Proto Max only be flown in calm conditions or at most a 1-2 mile per hour breeze. It will drift with the breeze even if it is only 1-2 mph but it can penetrate that breeze in level flight. With the transmitter on the advanced setting I have flown the Proto Max in a steady five mile per hour breeze. To penetrate in that breeze it was necessary to get the Proto Max into a tilt. I did that by giving a goose of up throttle as I pushed the stick all the way in the direction I wanted to travel which was most often forward. I did high speed circles and crazy eights and thought I had it mastered. The next flight I made a bigger circle and after a minute or so I lost my tilt with the helicopter to my left as far away as it had ever been from me and I was a little disoriented. I did my throttle forward move to get it back into a tilt and I thought it was facing me but it was not and started to race away from me. I turned and started coming back and a gust of stronger breeze hit it and I lost the tilt and it was rapidly going up and down wind. I regained control but decided as I approached the tree line it was best to set her down and do the walk of shame to recover her. I learned two things from this experience: 1) That I had control up to 50 yards away. I never tested beyond that. 2) I didn't have her as mastered as I thought. Especially when Mother Nature was involved. I tried to fly in a 7-8 mph breeze but I was not very successful as I was constantly fighting to keep her tilted to penetrate the breeze

A more skillful pilot I am sure would do better than I did and control the Proto Max in even a little more breeze while dealing with the drift. I have continued to fly in up to a five mile per hour breeze but I keep her closer so that I have no question about how my Proto Max is oriented. I might add a splash of bright color to the tail fin to help with orientation as the black disappears to my eyes at a distance. Flying over grass I have very little fear that I will damage the Proto Max in a crash in the grass.

Ed Holt who learned to master coaxial helicopter with his Blade CX2 flew the Proto Max outdoors. I video taped his second flight which went very well since a gust of breeze caught it right as he took off. Ed was very pleased with how well he could control it considering the breeze. He thanked me and said it was nice to try before he buys. The video of his flight is the final video below.

Replacement Parts

I won't buy a helicopter if they don't sell all of the replacement parts for it. Per the instruction manual for the Proto Max they have replacement parts and more. As listed in the instruction manual they also have glow parts including body, main rotor blades and tail blades for the Proto Max. On the product Website they list a toll free number to call and talk to people who are familiar with the Proto Max and can help the modeler out. I have quoted the information below concerning if there is a problem.

"Look...do both of us a favor: don't return it to where you bought it. Why? Because you can solve most problems just by calling the toll-free line for our Hobby Services Department. They know the products. They have the parts. They have the tools, time and experience... and they're easy to talk to. Just call the number below and let them take it from there. Call toll-free: 1-866-462-2426"

I called the number and a very friendly person confirmed that they had the replacement parts in stock. When I asked to buy a second battery I was told the number was for warranty work or problems with initial operation and I needed to contact a vendor to buy additional or replacement parts. I have confirmed since then that the batteries and all other spare parts are now available through online and hobby retrailers as well as through customer service.

Is This For a Beginner?

NOT REALLY! Revell's level 1 helicopters such as the coaxials I discussed in the introduction are great for beginners. They are less responsive and hover quite easily and allow the beginner to get his head into the helicopter and learn how to control the helicopter. The Proto Max responds to the same direction commands as the coaxial helicopters but does so more quickly but not too quickly for the advancing pilot. The increased response makes it a more exciting and slightly more difficult helicopter to control. That is why they gave their Level 2 classification to the Proto Max.

To test it out as a Level 2 helicopter I had my friend Dick Andersen fly it. Dick has mastered the basics of coaxial helicopters but the Proto Max is the first single rotor helicopter he has successfully flown. I shot a video of Dick's first flight with the Proto Max and shot stills with him flying as well. At the end of the video we learned that the Proto Max doesn't die slowly when the battery gets low but just dies and surprised us. Other then the lack of landing for that first flight Dick was all smiles at the end of the flight. When I asked him how it flew it said it seemed: "More aggressive!" then the coaxial helicopters he is used to flying. I thought it was a nice helicopter for the person ready to advance up from a coaxial helicopter and Dick proved that was the case.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

I enjoyed flying this helicopter throughout this review. It met the stated Level 2 goal of allowing a pilot to quickly improve their flying skills. It was great to see the smile on Dick Andersen's face after his first successful flight of a single rotor helicopter with the Proto Max on his first flight with it. His flight was all the proof I needed that it had hit their goal of being a good transitional helicopter. Later Ed Holt, a coaxial helicopter pilot, confirmed it was a good transitional helicopter by flying it. Ed did it outside in a breeze. Of course I found it to be a very enjoyable ultra-micro helicopter to fly in my family room but even more fun to fly in a large room or outside when the wind was calm or only a few miles per hour. My friend Dick described it as looking and feeling aggressive but very controllable. I'm not going to argue with him. I think the aggressive look comes from tilting a bit to the right when in flight no matter the actual direction of the Proto Max or even in a straight hover. It may just be my Proto Max but that tilt did give it an aggressive look in the air. The Proto Max did all that I thought she would do flying in a small space. It left me with a smile almost as large as Dick's after I first flew her in a large space outdoors.

Pluses:

  • In Beginner setting, almost as easy to fly as a coaxial helicopter.
  • Withstands the abuse I gave it in doing this review without any breakage.
  • Performed well in all directions.
  • Has a nice look to her.
  • Under $100.00 for everything needed.
  • 2.4 GHz radio system worked well. Tested to 50 yards away.
  • Can be easily converted to Mode 1 for those that prefer that or want to try it.
  • Recharges from the transmitter so I always had the charger with me.

Minuses:

  • "Appeared" to have a tilt to the right but she flew fine in all directions.
  • She can drop like a rock when the battery dies.
  • Recharging the battery is a bit slow.

My thanks to Dick Andersen, Ed Holt and our editor Angela for their assistance with this review.

Editor's Note: Although Mike had no trouble with the landing gear on the Proto Max the gear now has a plug that allows for easy repair of any damaged skids.


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