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Horizon Hobby Blade mQX Micro Quad-Copter with AS3X RTF & BNF Review

Blade presents the first ultra micro quad-copter and it utilizes their AS3X technology. It can be flown in either X or Plus configuration as explained in the review.

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Introduction

I have long held an interest in quad-copters and reviewed the Dragonfly quad-copter here in E-Zone years ago. I still have it and fly it from time to time. However, as my skills with helicopters has gotten better, my interest in quad-copters went onto the back burner for a while. I viewed with interest the videos of the various quad and multi-rotor copters but held back from getting anything new.

At the January 2012 AMA Expo I saw an explosion in sales of quad-copters at the event. I saw the then just announced mQX both on static display and in flight demonstration at the AMA Expo flight center. I was very impressed by the mQX as it was easily the most aggressively flown quad-copter at the show. I even saw a few cartwheeling wipeouts on the carpeted floor, and the pilots just righted the mQX and resumed flying. I was very happy when I was selected for this review, and I thank Blade for supplying me with a RTF kit of the mQX. This review has unexpectedly included durability testing of the mQX, and I want to report it has thus far survived everything my friends and I have thrown at it.

Width:7.0 inches
Height:2.0 inches
Flying Weight:2.65 oz
Flying Time:9-10 minutes
Number of channels:4
Transmitter:Spectrum & Jr DSM2 compatible
Receiver:Spectrum DSM2 compatible
Battery:3.7V 1S 500mAh Li-Po
Motors:(4) 8.5mm brushed
Size:Ultra micro
Rotor Type:Quad-Copter: 2 regular and 2 counter rotating propellers
Manufacturer:Blade
Available From:Horizon Hobby
Price:$169.99 RTF
Price:$139.99 BNF

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Kit Contents

The RTF Kit Includes

  • Blade MLP4DSM 4 channel transmitter
  • 4 AA Alkaline batteries for the transmitter
  • mQX Quad-Copter ready to fly
  • Power source converter from AC to 6V DC
  • Celectra 1-cell 3.7V variable rate DC Li-Po charger
  • 1S 3.7V 500mAh 12C Li-Po battery pack with JST connector
  • Adapter cord from JST to one that mates with the charger to connect battery to charger
  • 4 Spare propeller blades
  • Small Phillips screwdriver
  • Small decal sheet
  • Instruction manual in multiple languages

Promoted Key Features

Key Features

  • AS3X 3-axis stabilization system
  • 4-in-1 DSM2 receiver/ESC/mixer/AS3X sensor unit
  • Durable, lightweight airframe
  • Potent 8.5mm brushed motors with protective drive gear guards
  • Can be flown in "X" or "+" configurations
  • Sleek, low-profile body with sharp mQX graphics
  • Includes E-flite 1S 3.7V 500mAh Li-Po battery
  • Includes E-flite Celectra 1-cell DC variable rate Li-Po charger

Additional Items Needed

RTF mQX

  • Nothing additional is needed

BNF mQX

  • A four channel DSM2 transmitter is needed

Partial List of Compatible Transmitters

  • Blade MLP4DSM (Comes with RTF)
  • DX4e DSMX
  • DX5e DSMX
  • DX6i DSMX
  • DX7 DSM2
  • DX7s DSMX
  • DX8 DSMX
  • X9503 DSMX
  • DX10t
  • JR 11X
  • JR 12X
  • DSM2 compatible transmitters/modules

Assembly

NONE! Unless you consider installing the 4-included AA batteries into the transmitter to be "assembly."

Charging the Flight Battery

Plug the power converter into a 110 AC electrical outlet. Connect it to the Celectra 1-cell charger which receives 6V DC current. Plug in the short connector wire that allows the battery's JST connector to connect to the charger. Set the charger for .7 amps, the maximum supplied by the charger. Press the larger center button, and the red LED under the .7 amp indicator will start flashing to show it is charging. When all the red LEDs are running in sequence, the battery can be used or left on for a little more additional charge.

Never plug the battery into the charger if the charger is not connected to the power converter with the converter plugged into an active electrical outlet. This is because a non-powered charger will drain the battery. Never leave the battery unattended while charging.

The X and Plus Configurations

The mQX arrives in the X configuration whether you buy the RTF model or the BNF model. The X configuration has two white propellers, and the body is lined up with the front facing between the two white propellers. The body looks like it is centered on an X, thus the name. My RTF came with the mQX bound and set up for the X configuration, and when I installed the charged battery, it was ready to fly.

To convert to the Plus configuration, looking at the mQX from above, take the body off of the frame and rotate it counterclockwise 45 degrees and install it on the frame using the holes on the front, back and the middle of the sides of the fuselage. Using the supplied small screwdriver remove the small screw on the side of the white propeller that is now to the right side of the mQX and install the MATCHING shaped black extra propeller. (Be sure to use the matching black propeller as both clockwise and counterclockwise black propellers are supplied.) The changing of the propeller is simply to make orientation easier for the pilot. I recommend it be done when changing to the Plus configuration, and be careful when removing the small screw securing the propeller as no extra screws were supplied. Next, the mQX has to be rebound to the transmitter in a special way as described below.

Binding for the Plus Configuration

Plug the flight battery into the mQX. Using the transmitter that came with the mQX, depress the left joy stick and turn on the transmitter while holding the left stick down. After a couple of seconds, let the left joystick up, and apply full right rudder. In about five seconds the mQX will be flashing three short flashes, and a space showing it has successfully bound in the Plus configuration. If it is solid blue it is still in the X configuration, and the binding process needs to be repeated. If you are using a different DSM2/X transmitter, follow its binding procedures and give the full right rudder as soon as possible.

To rebind in the X configuration, follow the binding procedures but supply a hard left rudder. The blue light on the mQX board should be solid blue.

Flying

The inherent stability comes from two propellers diagonally across from each other that rotate in a clockwise direction while the other two propellers are rotating counter clockwise. Thus, one of the two of the white propellers is designed for clockwise rotation and one for counter clockwise rotation. The same is true with the pair of black propellers and the two sets of spare propellers.

Basics

I recommend starting with the X configuration and with the mQX facing away so that the two black propellers are closest to you and the white propellers are facing away from you. This way, from the start, the quad-copter's directions are the same as yours: left and right, forward and backward. Keeping the proper orientation is critical to successfully flying the mQX. The left transmitter stick supplies both throttle and rudder. Rudder allows you to turn the mQX in place to the right or to the left. The right stick elevator allows control forward and backwards flight and aileron controls side to side flight.

I recommend the first time quad-copter pilot try and keep the transmitter aligned with the mQX to keep them oriented with its left remaining the pilot's left, etc. Once a pilot gets his head into the mQX that will no longer be necessary.

The supplied transmitter is in high rate when it is first turned on. I STRONGLY recommend for initial flights that low rates be used. To switch to low rates just depress the right transmitter stick when the transmitter is powered up. To get back to high rates just depress the right stick again. Remember, no matter what rate you were last using on the transmitter it always turns on with high rates.

The mQX is very responsive so even at low rates I only used small stick movements to move the mQX around the room successfully. I used a few large movements, had some crashes and surprised myself with just how tough the mQX has proven to be during my and my friends flight testing of her.

Taking Off and Landing

I simply apply throttle and she lifts off into a nice vertical hover. The first time she lifted off she had a slight drift forward and to the right. I adjusted her using the trim tabs with a couple of clicks back and to the left, and she has hovered fine ever since that. Landings can be made by reducing throttle while in a hover, and she settles down vertically right where I want her. Alternatively, with a smooth floor, just bring her down in basically a level approach and she can slide quite a ways. Long slide touch-and-go's are a lot of fun and an easy way to get the mQX back to a level configuration when one has been flown very aggressively and gotten onto an angle. Slides that look like a plane doing touch-and-go's are actually very impressive to onlookers, much more so than simple vertical touch-and-go's, which can look like throttle mistakes.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Although this is my third quad-copter this is the first one where I feel I can press the envelope and fly her very aggressively and stretch the envelope. To be honest this came about as the result of a couple of crashes that resulted in no damage. In one case there was no damage despite a multiple cartwheel run across a very large room. After surviving those mishaps I have felt much more comfortable in increasing my speed and making higher banking turns. I have a long way to go to fly as smoothly at speed as the Horizon demonstration team but the advancement is coming quickly. I have even done an intentional loop outside over grass after doing an accidental loop inside. It took a lot of air to do it and I was sure I had a safe space. I look to improved handling of speed and doing banked turns with more practice.

Flying Outdoors in a Breeze

"The sense of precise control this system gives an mQX pilot rivals that of bigger quad-copters that cost a whole lot more. Indoors or out, breezy conditions or calm, you’ll find you can fly the mQX with complete confidence just about anywhere, anytime." The previous quote was taken from the Blade website for the mQX. In my testing of the mQX I did have precise control of the mQX indoors and in calm conditions that rivaled the larger quad-copters that I have flown, but I need to offer some clarification in connection with flying in a breeze. I found I still had great control in winds 0-3 and 3-6 mph. However, in an 8 mph breeze I really noticed a difference between high and low rates. I thought I might need high rates for quick and larger corrections required by the wind but found it was much easier to fly on low rates. Flying with my DX7s transmitter with exponential gave me the best control yet. In the wind I was over reacting to angle changes on the mQX, and in high rate I often over corrected for the change I witnessed. The softened controls per my set up on the DX7s actually gave me better control. Perhaps I need a better working relationship with the AS3X system and its self correction. At 8 mph my bigger and much heavier quad-copter was easier for me to fly. With an hour of flight time in calm conditions I had no problems in a 3-6 mph breeze but was pretty challenged in the 8 mph breeze. The "Wind" video below was shot in the 8 mph breeze on high rates. Actually pretty amazing control in the wind for how light the mQX is.

Is This For a Beginner?

NO! Blade lists the experience level as intermediate, and I believe that is accurate. If a person has mastered a coaxial helicopter or, even better, a fixed pitch helicopter they are definitely ready to learn how to fly the quad-copter. a level of maturity is also helpful in learning to fly the quad-copter. By that I mean learn how to fly it in controlled flight before trying to do acrobatics or maximum speed runs and sharp turns approaching the walls. (Do as I say not as I did.)

Flight Video/Photo Gallery










Downloads

Conclusion

I was impressed with the mQX when I saw Jeff Szueber fly it at the AMA show in January, and I am even more impressed with it now that I am flying it. It is very stable on low rates if the pilot can limit himself to small stick movements as the mQX is very responsive with bigger stick movements or flying on high rates. I saw my skills improve greatly in just the first day of flying her. Fortunately, she uses the same battery pack as my Blade 120 SR helicopter, and I have three packs for my 120 SR. I just made sure to give the motors some cool down time between packs. (Extra batteries will be desired! Especially if flying at an outside field without electricity as the charger needs 6V DC.)

I have been able to fly mine very nicely with the transmitter supplied with the RTF model. But I flew her even better with my Spetrum DX7s using 50% exponential on elevator and ailerons in the initial flight training stages. I have since reduced exponential but will put it back in when letting friends fly her for the first time. I highly recommend the mQX as a first quad-copter whether it is going to be your only quad-copter or as a great training quad-copter before advancing to a larger camera carrying quad-copter. Its proven durability (to me) lets me feel free to fly more aggressively in big steps to expand my skills. The mQX is doing what I tell it to do, and I am getting better at controlling her with each flight. I have also flown outside with my mQX and she handles a 5 mph breeze with stability although there is definitely drift just like with a small coaxial helicopter. However, she has had no trouble penetrating the breezes I have flown in, and I am sure she can be flown in higher breezes but I have not yet had the opportunity to fly in a breeze above 8 mph.

No durability testing was planned for this review but it just happened when flying more aggressively than my skills warranted on first attempts in the 8 mph wind. Most of those crashes, unfortunately, were off camera but a few were caught on video. The short blooper video follows.

Downloads

Pluses:

  • Very stable on low rates with small movements
  • Very quick and responsive on high rates with big stick movement
  • Mine has been very durable with no damage to date
  • Has instilled me with confidence to expand the flight envelope
  • Replacement parts are affordable and available

Minuses:

  • No propeller securing replacement screws included (very small screws)

My thanks to Jeff Szueber, Dick Andersen and Tom Bone for their assistance with the media for this review.

Last edited by Angela H; Aug 07, 2012 at 01:17 PM..

Discussion

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Old Mar 20, 2012, 03:50 PM
Flippin Multirotors
Get Real's Avatar
Illinois
Joined Feb 2006
5,036 Posts
Really like the mqx,lots of fun and pretty durable. Would like to see a larger brushless version. One thing ive noticed is it flys quite a bit better with a nicer radio,i bought the bnf version but flew the rtf version at the local shop.

Playing around in the yard and inside.
Blade MQX Quadcopter Flips,Durability, Outdoor And Indoor Flying! (7 min 59 sec)
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Old Mar 20, 2012, 07:26 PM
KF7OSF
Joined Feb 2009
37 Posts
Love it!

I've had a number of quads, including Arduino-based Aeroquad and Arducopter, as well as a large "professional" MK-based hexacopter.

I've gotta say that the fun factor with the mQx is off the charts. It's basically indestructible because it's so light, and so you find yourself trying stunts that you'd never try with a larger quad because there are few consequences to failure. Of course if you crash it into pavement at full throttle you'll see some damage, but if you fly it in a grassy area you can get away with a lot. It's also amazingly stable considering it's only got gyro-based stabilization. Larger more expensive units incorporate accelerometers for truly indefinitely long hands-off flight, but the mQx will still hover hands off on it's own in calm conditions for quite some time.

That said, after a number of hours of flight one of my motors seems to be failing. The quad will drop an arm when in flight, recover, and then drop the same arm again a few seconds later. The result is a rather "wobbly" looking flight. I haven't headed into the LHS yet to look for replacements, though. And this one is likely my fault, as I did manage to have a pretty decent crash when flying in my garage, which was a bad idea on my part. It survived many prior incidents without a scratch.

I've only flown mine with my DX7, which works very well. After a while I've found myself only flying in high rates, as it's nice to have the agility when you need it. However, when you really yank and bank it can sometimes overcome the stability system a bit and it will start to wobble pretty badly. It's easy to recover when that happens though...

Final note is the prop-wash... Since it's very light it gets tossed around pretty good when you descend directly through it's own wash. This can sort of freak you out if you don't expect it. It's usually fine, but if you're dropping very quickly it can get tossed off it's head a bit. To avoid, just don't drop straight down!

Overall, highly recommended. Great value!
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Old Mar 21, 2012, 03:39 PM
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seeingeyegod's Avatar
United States, OR, Portland
Joined Jan 2008
1,839 Posts
Why do quads just look boring to fly to me?
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Old Mar 21, 2012, 09:42 PM
Pastor of Muppets \m/
major.monogram's Avatar
United States, TX, Odessa
Joined Mar 2010
967 Posts
I tried to by one of these today and I was surprised to find them OOS everywhere online.
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Old Mar 22, 2012, 11:07 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,540 Posts
Quad-copters appeared to be the biggest seller on Saturday at the AMA Expo back in January and that was before this model was available to the public to purchase. We could just look at it at Horizon's booth and watch the Horizon Flight Team fly it in the Flight Center. Obviously a lot of people find them fun to fly. I find the mQX to be a lot of fun because it takes crashes (so far) with no damage and I have pressed the envelope and improved my skill in ways I wouldn't try with my bigger camera carrying models. They are fun for what I can do with them as I fly them much more conservatively. Something of the difference of flying a bomber vs a fighter and the mQX is the fighter. Mike H
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Old Mar 22, 2012, 03:35 PM
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seeingeyegod's Avatar
United States, OR, Portland
Joined Jan 2008
1,839 Posts
I'd probably like it if I tried it, I guess I just feel like a quad is "too easy" because so much of it requires computer stabilization to work. It will fly all day with no input from the pilot just sitting there and there is no full size vehicle that it is modeling, unless you are talking about a full size drone..
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Old Mar 23, 2012, 01:15 PM
swede
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United States, UT, Vineyard
Joined Aug 2005
3,871 Posts
Any chance on using this as a short range FPV?
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Old Mar 23, 2012, 04:52 PM
I think I forgot how to fly RC
cryhavoc38's Avatar
United States, WA, Woodinville
Joined Mar 2007
8,063 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by seeingeyegod View Post
Why do quads just look boring to fly to me?

perhaps you haven't watched some good video's?
here's one and its not even among the "best" but certainly good

best toy ever (multicopter) (2 min 25 sec)
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Old Mar 23, 2012, 11:40 PM
The 1st Sofaman
Sofaman NJ's Avatar
United States, NJ, Hawthorne
Joined Mar 2012
495 Posts
Damn!!! That is way more than would ever think a Quadcopter could do!!!

Thanks for posting!

Dave
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Old Mar 24, 2012, 08:41 AM
Memento Mori
Diesel6401's Avatar
United States, NC, Charlotte
Joined Sep 2009
3,022 Posts
Love this little quad such a blast and with the rates turned all the way up easy to flip and doesn't require that much room to do. Hopefully I can post some video of soon of double and triple flips... Best purchase I've made in a while!

* I bought the RTF version with hopes of being able to use the stock controller so I didn't have to carry my DX8 around, but that didn't work as well as planned. I can't stand the feel of the stock radio, it's just way to sloppy for me.
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Old Mar 24, 2012, 12:31 PM
Registered User
Joined May 2007
120 Posts
Greetings Michael Heer !

I am wondering why this review was placed in this Forum and not in the appropriate one...
http://www.rcgroups.com/multi-rotor-helis-659/

One only needs to look at the most active thread for the MQX on RC Groups to see the great interest in, and enthusiasim for, this outstanding craft.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1563931

With over 4000 posts in less than 90 days, and nearly a quarter million views since, it would behoove you to review that thread and read how the other users of this craft feel about it, and discover some shortcomings you would like to know about.

I see the MQX that you were provided by HH was from a production lot that has CW motors of a different color plastic end than the problematic "black" failure prone ones (also provided as replacements by HH).
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Old Mar 26, 2012, 11:58 AM
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Joined Mar 2012
11 Posts
The amazing little mQX

Just to add to what the reviewer is saying, the Blade mQX is absolutely amazing and if you think it looks fun you'd be a fool not to buy one and see just how much. For $129 - 169 you just can't go wrong.

The mQX is super responsive, acrobatic, and (near as I can tell) indestructible.

This is my very first quad and very first "real" anything; I've only owned two or three of those cheap, indestructible indoor foam helicopters. Stepping up to the mQX was definitely not easy, but neither was it too great a step to make. If I can do it, you can do it too! But I would ***strongly*** recommend buying the Phoenix R/C simulator and flying the Gaui 330X model (that's the only simulator I've seen with a quad model in it). I spent hours flying the Gaui in the balloon popping trainer of the Phoenix simulator and it made a profound difference on my flying ability. I had serious doubts that a simulator could help with real world flying, especially given that I was flying a non-mQX model, but was happily proven completely wrong. My real world flying made a quantum leap after a few nights of simulator flying

One of the most impressive things about the mQX is how inconceivably strong it is. In my early flights especially I would get disoriented and send the mQX screaming into the ground and it sustained absolutely no lasting damage (the canopy was destroyed and I had to bend a propeller blade back to straight a couple times but that's it).

And, coolest of all, the mQX is powerful enough to mount any of the 808 cameras. I put a jumbo keychain 1080p camera on it and it seemed to fly as responsively as it always did, and for seemingly almost as long as it always did. It amazes me that I could have a HD aerial camera platform for under $200. (Obviously it's no $1,000 stabilized system, but on a very calm day with a good pilot consciously flying for a particular shot, it's stunning!)

I don't usually bother to evangelize a product, but this one deserves it!
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Old Mar 30, 2012, 06:23 AM
Living in the south of France
paulinfrance's Avatar
Joined Aug 2011
491 Posts
Thanks cryhavoc38,
that's more like it,,, as for the mini quad, while they insist that you buy one of their radios i will continue to boycott their products,,,,,




Futaba Forever,,,,,,,,,,,
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Old Mar 30, 2012, 09:38 AM
practice, practice, practice
cvlex's Avatar
Japan, Tokyo
Joined Mar 2005
728 Posts
Hi Michael,

Tonight I maidened my new mQX successfully.
I set 50% expo for the aileron and the elevator according to your comment.

Thanks so much for your great review.

cvlex

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