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        Article Think Geek's MX-1 RTF Helicopter Review: Is it the World's smallest R/C helicopter?

Think Geek's MX-1 RTF Helicopter Review: Is it the World's smallest R/C helicopter?

Introduction

MX-1 in transmitter/charger/storage case
MX-1 in transmitter/charger/storage case
Wingspan:
Length:4.65"
Width:1"
Height:2.5"
Weight:0.3 oz.
Transmitter:Infrared, 2 channel control
Receiver:Infrared 2 channels received
Battery MX-1:3.7 volt Lipoly
Batteries Transmitter:4 AA Alkaline batteries
Light:Flashing red LED
ESC:Part of the mother board with the receiver
Manufacturer:Silverlit
Available From:Think Geek
Price:$ 39.99

Its July and that is traditionally when I start looking for Christmas toys for my adult children and friends. I know... but it works for me! Think Geek is one of my favorite Web stores for finding unusual items that my family and friends enjoy receiving. One of last yearís hits was the Flying Monkey with slingshot arms - he launches and then screams! This time when I visited Think Geek I saw the new MX-1 helicopter promoted as: "The World's Smallest Helicopter." I'll simply ask anyone who knows of a smaller helicopter for sale to please post at the end of this review. I like its appearance; with landing skids instead of foam "flippers" some other models use.

Kit Contents

Items that come with the MX-1:

  • The assembled helicopter
  • The transmitter/carrying case/charger
  • Instructions in five languages including English
  • 1 extra tail rotor

I needed:

  • 4 AA batteries for the transmitter
  • Small blade screwdriver

Assembly

I used a small blade screwdriver to open the battery compartment on the transmitter. I installed 4 AA Alkaline batteries that I supplied. The helicopter came completely assembled and simply needed to be charged up to fly. It is made of durable EPP foam. Itís so light, I found it wasn't damaged in crashes or strikes. It comes in three colors: red, green and blue. Charging time was 15 minutes for a depleted helicopter with new batteries in the transmitter.

Flight

Infrared Control

The MX-1 helicopter is controlled by infrared signals sent by the transmitter. It is necessary to point the top of the transmitter toward the helicopter so that the copter can be bathed in the infrared light. Bright light, especially strong sun light, can drastically limit the range through which the helicopter can receive the signal from the transmitter. If I flew the helicopter so that an object got between the helicopter and the transmitter's infrared signal, the MX-1 lost the signal, and when the MX-1 lost the signal it stopped operating.

Basics

The transmitter box is also the storage box for the helicopter and the charging unit for it as well. Each color comes on its own channel, so three can be flown at a time. This is only a two channel helicopter so it is designed to go forward all the time. The pilot controls the vertical by use of the throttle slide on the front top left of the transmitter. The slider on the front top right controls left to right. There are no trim tabs, but there are trim buttons for the left and right control that get pushed as needed for adjustment.

To go forward at a faster rate it is recommended that some weight be added to the nose. Right turns are wider than left turns, and left turns are tighter and tend to slow the forward progress more then right turns.

This is an indoor helicopter and can only be flown outdoors with ZERO wind. That means none, nada, zip wind to fly outside. There is a red LED in my green MX-1 that flashes when the copter is turned on and allows for indoor night flying with the lights out.

Flight time with the helicopter was a little more then five minutes of continuous flying when fully charged. Flying during commercials while watching TV I was able to usually get through a half hour show.

Observed Flight Characteristics

This micro R/C copter is made by Silverlit, and the helicopter's display box says Picco-Z on it and MX-1 Extreme. As one would expect, it flies like a smaller version of the Picco-Z with the same control: just sliders instead of sticks.

Forward speed was increased by adding a minor amount of weight to the nose of the MX-1. I tried this briefly, but preferred the standard flight speed so I removed the weight. By making sharp left turns I could get close to a hover with a left rotation at times. Right turns didn't slow the copter down as they were much wider then the left turns. Right turns were best made when there was a lot of room, and I wanted to keep up good forward speed. If rapidly approaching a wall or a window it was best to make a left turn to avoid hitting the wall or window. If I wanted to go to the right and I was approaching a wall, I would make a 270 degree turn to the left and then proceed along the wall in the direction I wanted. Turns were a way to regulate the forward speed of the MX-1. I found the controls during flights weren't ever 100% the same as the previous flight. That said, generally the turns were pretty consistent and not only changed the copterís direction, but often the helicopter's speed. Part of the challenge of the original Picco-Z (and now the MX-1) was dealing with the differences that seem to arise in almost every flight, often involving spin. When these things suddenly occur it is almost as if the MX-1 is having a muscle spasm of its control system.

When fully charged the helicopter is ready to go but also has a tendency to spin more with a full charge and required more use of the trim buttons to stop the spin. When down to 3/4 to 1/4 charge the helicopter is actual at its most controllable and accordingly it is then the most fun to operate. Less spin and more control. I soon learned to not charge the helicopter's battery all the way but rather only charge for about 10 minutes when depleted. I would only get about 3.5-4 minutes of flight time but I found the quality of my flights to be a little better. That may change with more operation.

Even without adding any weight its forward flight is much faster then were my Picco-zís. Hold a left turn too long and it will first have a spin hover and then start dropping like a rock. It can keep doing right turns so long as there is room. An occasional blip of left is useful to slow down the MX-1ís forward speed. The more you operate it the more you learn how to control it, and then it goes off on its own for a flight - at least mine does that. It gets a lot of attention at work when I fly it during my lunch hour.

Adjustment Control

I have found that the MX-1 can be mechanically trimmed to some extent by adjusting the angle of the tail rotor by twisting that motor. The instructions even give some discussion of twisting the motor to get the helicopter to fly correctly. This procedure calls for twisting the motor up to 30 degrees. My experience has proven to me that angling the tail rotor just slightly down from level has made my MX-1 more controllable for me.

Is this Helicopter for a Beginner?

It needs limited space to operate and is affordable. It can be flown by anyone mature enough to appreciate that the spinning blades of the helicopter pose a danger. Improvement comes relatively quickly to the average beginning pilot.

Photo Gallery and Video

Downloads

Conclusion

The great appeal of this helicopter to me is that I can take it anywhere. The entire unit can fit in my pocket, briefcase or luggage. Best of all, the helicopter is very well protected in the transmitter carrying case. This will be a travel copter for me that I can take almost anywhere, including work. Nothing I have will touch the MX-1 for portability and quick fun on the road.

Part of the special challenge in flying two channel helicopters is that while I usually have control, I don't always have control! That is part of the fun and makes a truly great flight so exciting. I can never be completely certain what will happen on an upcoming flight as I push up on the throttle control to lift off.

Pluses:

  • Transmitter serves as controller/charger/carrying case
  • Great to have the helicopter completely protected in the small compact case
  • Easy to take with me
  • Flies much like the larger Picco-Z, controllable much of the time

Minuses

  • Only has two channel control and can't do a real hover (without a fan or a breeze)
  • Not always consistent in how it performs
  • Flies like a larger Picco-Z only with a faster forward. Some flights it seems to have a mind of its own or no mind at all.
#2 Michael Heer Aug 07, 2008 12:40 PM

Sorry about the poor 1950s era lighting in our fellowship hall but it gives me greater range then I experienced recently in a very brightly lit large conference room. The lower lighting of the old fellowship hall allowed at least 1/3 greater range then the modern "I need sunglasses" lit hall. It is a fast little bugger. Mike

#3 78dave Aug 07, 2008 01:19 PM

Mike great stuff and fun too.

#4 78dave Aug 07, 2008 01:23 PM

Mike, you are a 3D heli pilot now!

#5 lightspeeddud Aug 07, 2008 05:02 PM

well, you can fit it in your pocket but is it worth putting in your pocket in the first place? No thanks, Ill pass Seems too crazy. Got a tandem z and its alot more stable. I only have a small home!

#6 rbinc Aug 07, 2008 05:38 PM

With all due respect, thanks for the effort to write up, but seems to be just a slightly smaller 2ch IR Picco/Havoc. With all the same limitations...

Just not much to get excited about and the price isn't that attractive. One can buy a 4ch coaxial for less than double the price and have a helicopter that can be repaired at litle cost with a plethora of support right here in the forums.

You can even get a 4#3 now for under a hundred that WILL hover and fly in the same space.

Regards

#7 DesertClimber Aug 07, 2008 08:18 PM

You can find MUCH cheaper helis, and perhaps smaller:

This one is only 6 grams:
http://www.raidentech.com/heli-q-mini-helicopter.html

And this one is only 9.5 grams, and $9.95:
http://www.raidentech.com/newflbimirar.html

I purchased 5 of the $9.95 helis, and gave some away as fun gifts. They actually fly great for what they are! You can get a good hover going and land where you want when you get a good feel for the controls. It's fun taking off from your fingers, then catching it when you bring it back! :)

#8 Smokescreen38 Aug 07, 2008 08:49 PM

The "what's in the pocket?" bit was funny. :)

Nice writeup! The older PicooZ choppers look outdated now!

#9 man4mac Aug 07, 2008 11:13 PM

I thought it was a good writeup. Although as with all these 2ch heli's same issues are apparent. no real control other than tail rotor and throttle.

#10 bolarobric Aug 07, 2008 11:19 PM

MX1 micro heli
 
Great review Mike. I like how you pulled the micro heli out of your pocket. Great delivery!!! :D - Robert

#11 Ron W3FJW Aug 08, 2008 02:31 AM

Cute I guess, but good thing they sell 'em cheap. I can't imagine anyone with even just one brain cell paying the retail price advertised....

I guess PT Barnum said it best...... ;)

#12 Jim Mack Aug 08, 2008 03:38 AM

Nice review! However, I like more control over what my toys do than this tiny chopper offers. How can they manufacture such a small toy and sell it for such low prices? Never mind.... I think I know already.

#13 mexico Aug 08, 2008 10:30 AM

I'm not a heli guy but I have thought about getting a little toy to play with when the weather makes flying planes impossible or just to fly around my yard. The twin rotor Chinook they have on that same website looks kind of cool. Flying with sliders doesn't thrill me.

#14 shah269 Aug 08, 2008 02:06 PM

I bought a similar one at Brookstone, started a thread in the RTF micro section.
I noticed mine had a bad tendancy to over heat the rear motor which caused excess power consumption and the eventual spin-o-death!
Fixed it by pulling the motor out of it's casing by half. This allowed it to cool faster and now she's doing ok.
But I do have to admit I only have controll 50% of the time.

#15 mexico Aug 08, 2008 04:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shah269
But I do have to admit I only have controll 50% of the time.

Story of my life....


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