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Old Apr 05, 2014, 04:51 PM
Against Helicopter Cruelty
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Heli Pad Review Series: SYMA F4 3CH Helicopter

Heli Pad Review Series: SYMA F4 3CH Helicopter



Introduction
SYMA is well known in the RC helicopter toy segment, especially with its unmatched success found in the S107G 3 channel coaxial helicopter. Many RC hobbyists, including myself, were introduced to this industry with the S107G. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the S107G coaxial helicopter was a great design. But it does have its limitations. For starter, Infra-Red (IR) control doesn’t work around strong light sources and has very limited range. Secondly, the S107G is built for stability, not for speed. If you are looking for something that could fly outside and have decent range, you need something with cyclic authority from a swash plate, and range from a 2.4GHz. And those are the exact step-up features that this SYMA F4 brings.
The new SYMA F4 is a 3 channel Single Rotor (SR) Fixed Pitched (FP) with FlyBar (FB), Swash Plate, and a 2.4GHz wide spectrum radio control. Once a rookie pilot has mastered the S107G, what is next? This SYMA F4 could be a good next step, but it is not the only option. Some would go one more step to a 4CH SR FP with FB like a WL V911-Pro, SYMA F3 or a 4CH Quadcopter like a SYMA X1.



What is in the Package?
The SYMA F4 kit comes with everything you need to fly except for the 4AA batteries that you need to provide:

• 1x SYMA F4 helicopter
• 1x 2.4GHz Transmitter (Tx)
• 1x 3.7v 150mAh Lipo Battery
• 2x Spare Main Blades
• 1x Spare Tail Rotor
• 1x Blade Grip
• 1x USB Charging Cable
• 1x Screw Driver
• 1x Instruction Manual



First Impressions
Right out of the box, the high built quality of SYMA is evident. The SYMA F4 is very well built. The tail stabilizers immediately remind you of the S107G heritage. The Lipo is hidden inside the canopy for a super clean look. But instead of an on/off switch, the battery has long leads and a plug that resembles the hobby grade stuff. From the swash plate up, the linkages, fixed pitch blades and fly bar on top reminds you of the Solo Pro or V911 setup. However, unlike most 4CH helicopters that have a flimsy flexible main frame, the SYMA F4 sports a strong, rigid corpus with side frame panels – just like the S107G. It offers the strongest, most durable main frame and landing skids I have seen in this class. It as a bright front LED light that helps night missions and orientation. The canopy has very nice matte paint and lines. No tool is required to remove the canopy or to snap it back tightly onto the frame. Once the canopy is removed, the Lipo is revealed and it can be swapped easily if you have additional Lipos. The SYMA F4 comes in two color choices, Red or Black. I got the Red, which I think is easier on the eyes. All that for under $30, what a bargain!



How does it Fly?
SYMA is famous for building easy to fly, stable aircraft. The F4 is no exception. It hovers hands-free right out of the box. Absolutely no trimming is necessary. Hovering is just rock solid. The 3 channel 2.4GHz radio has the Xbox look and feel. The controls are exactly like the other 3 channel Tx, which are arranged in a Mode 4 configuration – throttle is on the left stick by itself; the right stick controls the turns (rudder) and the forward/back (elevator) movements. Throttle is a lot more responsive than the coaxial. Fast Forward Flight (FFF) is way livelier than the S107G.

What about the 3rd channel? How does it turn? Well, this is where it becomes problematic and challenging, at least for me because I am so used to flying 4 channels. The absence of the aileron control is a bigger loss than I could imagine.

If you are familiar with flying coaxial helicopters, you would appreciate how easy it is to turn your helicopter. The main reason is the completely symmetrical design of the coaxial. Everything is completely balanced. Turning is accomplished by slightly varying the speeds of the upper and lower blades, and the helicopter turns around the main shaft – no problem. However, in a SR helicopter, it is everything but symmetrical. The rotors turn one way and the reactive force turns the body the opposite way, only to be countered by a side pushing tail rotors. To turn the helicopter, you increase or decrease the speed of the tail rotor, but instead of just turning the helicopter nicely about its main shaft, it pushes the helicopter sideways. If you have aileron control, it will be your second nature to compensate. But with the absence of the aileron control, the helicopter just slides hopelessly.

Perhaps, I have been flying 4 channel helicopters too long and my muscle memory is playing tricks on me. Flying the F4 in Mode 4 and missing the 4th channel was a bit difficult for me. Otherwise, the SYMA F4 is a great machine.



Where to Buy?
The SYMA F4 is available through a number of sellers for about $30-40. Shipping costs and time vary. But the lowest shipped price is from Banggood.com:

SYMA F4 3CH SR Helicopter RTF

Pros
• Low price
• Excellent built quality
• Durable parts
• Easy transition from 3 channel coaxial
• 2.4GHz control for range
• Fish-Eye swash plate
• Swappable Lipo

Cons
• Unknown transmission protocol, not compatible with any hobby grade radio
• No aileron control
• Heavy (38.4g)

Summary
Its affordable low cost and its excellent built quality make it a highly desirable upgrade from a 3 channel coaxial toy helicopter. The control configuration is the same, so there is nothing new to learn. The added FFF authority and radio control range allow it to be flown outside, by day and by night. What fun!

The SYMA F4 is a great step up from coaxial, and a good stepping stone to the 4 Channel varieties. However, if 4 Channel is a foreseeable goal, you may want to spend more and skip the intermediate step. Jump right up to the SYMA F3 or the WL V911-Pro, both are 4 Channels of the same size class. They will teach you how to fly 4 Channels in the popular Mode 2 configuration. If you are more ambitious and want to do some stunt flipping, you might skip to the SYMA X1.


Photo Gallery
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Old Apr 05, 2014, 04:51 PM
Against Helicopter Cruelty
Heli Pad's Avatar
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SYMA F4 Parts List. Click on image or link to teleport to order page.


SYMA F4 RTF Kit



SYMA F4 Canopy



SYMA F4 Tail Fins



SYMA F4 Main Blades



SYMA F4 Tail Rotor



SYMA F4 Flybar



SYMA F4 Landing Skids



SYMA F4 Main Motor



SYMA F4 Lipo
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Old Apr 05, 2014, 04:53 PM
Against Helicopter Cruelty
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I adjust the servo links?
A: Check out this post #10
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Old Apr 05, 2014, 04:53 PM
Against Helicopter Cruelty
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Old Apr 06, 2014, 02:08 AM
Team WarpSquad
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Cool. Lots of pictures of the F4.

Good job with the write up. I agree with all your points.
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Old Apr 07, 2014, 12:19 PM
Heliski: Steep 'n deep
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Thanks for another great review HP and plenty of detailed pictures.
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Old Apr 14, 2014, 10:59 AM
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Norfolk, England
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Just bought one of these and first impressions are very promising - it can be flown in our small lounge relatively easily. However, maybe sombody knows if the transmitter trims actually work for forwards/backwards trim. The instructions say adjust the linkage, but there are trims there that sound as if they ought to be doing something - they bleep when pressed.
It flies nicely, but wants to go backwards all the time. I just don't want to start messing with linkages if I don't have to.

Any help much appreciated.
Pete
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Old Apr 14, 2014, 01:17 PM
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Did you tried to bind it with the "SYMA X2" protocol with deviationTX ?
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Old Apr 14, 2014, 01:48 PM
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Sorry, was that aimed at me, or just a general question? If aimed at me I'm afraid it went straight over my head.

Pete
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Old Apr 14, 2014, 02:32 PM
Against Helicopter Cruelty
Heli Pad's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PETERRAKE View Post
Just bought one of these and first impressions are very promising - it can be flown in our small lounge relatively easily. However, maybe sombody knows if the transmitter trims actually work for forwards/backwards trim. The instructions say adjust the linkage, but there are trims there that sound as if they ought to be doing something - they bleep when pressed.
It flies nicely, but wants to go backwards all the time. I just don't want to start messing with linkages if I don't have to.

Any help much appreciated.
Pete
Peter,

The trim buttons are for Rudder Left/Right only. That is, if the helicopter is not holding the heading properly, you could adjust the trim. But it does not affect the Elevator, which controls the forward/backward movements.

Yes, I agree with you that the F4 seems a tad tail heavy and has a small tendency to drift backward. I assume that each unit could be slightly different. YMMV.

Yes, to adjust the forward/backward trim, you'd need to adjust the linkage. It is not as scary as it sounds. There are two linkages (with metal rods and screw threads at the end). The left one is fixed to the frame. It controls the aileron of the swashplate. So, if your helicopter is not drifting side to side, leave it alone. The right linkage is attached to the servo (white, motorized). If your helicopter is drifting backwards, you'd want to SHORTEN that linkage. So, you simple pop it out of the ball joint from the swashplate arm. Give the end of the linkage with the eye one full turn CLOCKWISE. Reattach the linkage to the swashplate arm. That's it.

Now test fly the helicopter. If it stops drifting you're done! If it is still drifting back a little, repeat the process. If it is drifting forward (and you don't like it), back it out half a turn.
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Old Apr 14, 2014, 02:34 PM
Against Helicopter Cruelty
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SBD, My Devo is in the lab for some upgrade. I don't have it with me, and I haven't yet loaded SYMA X2 protocol on it, yet.

But I did try to use the X3 Tx to bind to the F4 and it was no go. So, I doubt very much that the SYMA X2 protocol will bind with this F4, which is very annoying. The F3 uses FlySky.
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Old Apr 14, 2014, 08:00 PM
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Thanks, that's what I thought you might say. It just seems strange to have those top two trims sound as if they do something without really working anything. The 9113 is much nicer, but almost twice the price so I suppose it's fair enough. I think I can probably manage to adjust a pushrod length.

Thanks again,
Pete
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Old Apr 14, 2014, 08:16 PM
Against Helicopter Cruelty
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Peter, do give that mechanical trim a try. It is fairly easy to do, takes less than a minute to do and it's usually a one-time adjustment before you have perfectly balanced helicopter.

By 9113, do you mean the Double Horse 9113 Cobra? I'm not familiar with it. But from the pictures I found, it has a "Blade" look alike Tx with more trim buttons on it. Those trims are electronic trims. They just "biased" the control that is sending from the Tx. It is more convenient.

But for a good swash setup, these trim adjustments are not something that needs to be done frequent. So, it is not a big deal.
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Old Apr 15, 2014, 05:10 AM
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Yep, the Cobra, a nice flying heli that really picks up speed in forward moving turns.

Anyway, after a few adjustments the F4 no longer permanently wants to fly backwards. When you turn it it moves forward immediately after, then drifts back a little before settling into a reasonable hover. For around 17 ($25?) I'm more than happy with it. Around the same price as an IR co-axial but 2.4 gig and much more sprightly. As long as you accept it isn't going to fly quite like a 4 channel FP heli it represents great value - if only I'd stop trying to steer it with a stick not connected to anything.

Thanks for all the help, it is much appreciated.

Pete
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Old Apr 15, 2014, 11:15 AM
Against Helicopter Cruelty
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Peter, I think you are exactly right about the F4. It is priced cheaply as a 3 CH SR FP helicopter, not much more than what you'd pay for a coaxial. Surely, it cannot match up with a 4 CH helicopter. But you are not paying for one either. If your expectation is misplaced, you will be sorely disappointed with the lack of the 4th channel. But if your expectation is set accordingly, then the F4 is a great helicopter for what you're paying for.
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