|Feb 25, 2010, 03:19 PM|
Blade SR: A Novice's Review
**THIS IS A QUICKLY WRITTEN FIRST IMPRESSION...I'LL WRITE A COMPOSED REVIEW IN A COUPLE HOURS AFTER I'VE FLOWN IT MORE**
According to Horizon Hobby's marketing initiative, I fall squarely in the target category for their newest heli, the EFlite Blade SR RTF. I am novice pilot, having mastered their coaxial line of helis (MCX/CX2/CX3) and the popular MSR, and am now looking for a transitional heli into the collective pitch side of our hobby. Intimidated by the cost, setup, maintenance, and skill level required to pilot CP helis such as the Blade CP Pro 2 or Trex 450, the Blade SR RTF was purportedly designed for novice pilots looking to bridge this transition, being more forgiving control inputs and initial skill requisite in keeping the heli in one piece.
I intend to write this initial unboxing review and later expand it into a year long log of my progression with this heli, documenting all repairs, costs, performance milestones, durability reports, etc.
It is important to remember that all of my writing is done from the point of a novice. For those of you already accustomed to CP helis, at times I'm sure you'll notice my noob-ness. For those of you who share my predicament, I hope this log can inspire some mutual improvement. I am hopeful that Horizon Hobby's marketing was right about the Blade SR being my bridge into the larger world of CP helis.
Now, let's go on with it!
I just returned from ehobbyhouse in Reseda, CA. The team there is always helpful and knowledgeable. They called me at 10am on Thursday Feb 25 to let me know they had just received their Blade SR shipment, and I drove there right away!
Zero reference to "3D" anywhere on the box.
I unboxed the heli at the store.
First look inside the box:
I immediately noticed that the horizontal stabilizer was pressed against the styrofoam. Not enough of it was cut away, so the stabilizer was slightly bent.
Once the heli was out, the Tx was a bit difficult to get out without destroying its surrounding styrofoam. Better secure than sorry! After a few seconds it wedged out.
Rear side view:
With all its accessories. Charger, charge cord, a plastic bag with zip ties and bind plug and velcro, four AA batteries for the Tx, the Tx itself. Not pictured: the manual.
Now, I took a few closer pictures of the heli's moving parts:
Gyro itself. EFlite G110. Same as on the Blade 400. Easily accessible, though on top of the tail shaft, not below it.
The AR61100e receiver is easily accessible, though there is a lot of wire slack bundled up at the rear of the heli body.
Bind plug is easy to reach:
Close up of servos:
Top of the head:
Head linkage shots:
The main motor, an EFlite 3900kv brushless: EFLH1516.
The battery pack mount. The velcro is elastic, to ensure the battery is held securely. In this picture you can also see the red TSB connector. I like that the heli arrived with the wires secured, but with white zip ties. The length is such that the battery connects to it with very little slack. Tidy!
Two shots of the tail. It definitely looks very exposed, so I'll see about better shielding it somehow.
Close up of the tail motor:
IN THE NEXT FEW HOURS
I'll load more videos and write in more detail about the transmitter settings, setup, and first three flights.
Initial impressions: Very, very nice. The heli hovers better with the higher headspeed. A little tail wagging due to high gain out of the box, but very, very, very nice.
BATTERY ONE: 2/25/10
After unboxing, I checked all the Tx settings, as stated in the manual. Good thing, because the Throttle Hold was set to position 1. The 2 in 1 would not have armed in this state, but if I flipped it afterwards, it would have started. Set it to position 0. I went through ALL the pre-flight as stated in the manual. All good. I inserted the bind plug into the Rx, held down the trainer switch on the Tx, and turned the Tx on. Released, the heli bound, unplug battery, turn off Tx, remove bind plug (yeah, yeah, we all know that already). Took it outside in the parking lot, set it down (no training gear), turned on Tx, plugged in battery, waited to initialize, then throttled to slight skid. I skidded a few feet across the ground, barely touching it. Satisfied, I set it back down, then set D/R to position 1 for a bit more response (just in case I needed to bail). I took a deep breath, visualized what I had done in sims, then throttled to a foot high hover. The excitement is palpable, as others have said! Keep in mind, this is my first CP, so it's a bit of a noob-rush!
Out of the box, the heli needed minor trim adjustments. Five clicks forward on elevator, two clicks right for rudder. It held a hover rather easily. Definitely need to pay way more attention than an MSR, as was already expected. About a minute in, I set it down. A good first battery. : )
Quick VIDEO showing first hover (second attempt on Battery 1)
BATTERY TWO: 2/25/10
I'm back home now, in my garage. I mounted training gear, to be safe. There aren't any parts available locally here yet so I can't take the risk after all this waiting of wrecking the heli and having to wait Again.
I spent this second battery skirting around on the ground and getting used to the inputs. A lot of the sim training definitely translates, though obviously there is a *real* element of risk. I can hold the tail like Radd's teaches, and stay in a small box on the ground. The heli wants to leap forward a bit, but I suspect this is because of the springy-ness of the training gear.
BATTERY 3-6: 2/25/10
Flew three batteries before the kids came home from practice. I used an 11.1V 25C batt I had laying around, and it was noticeably easier to control. I've decided to keep the heli on high rate, even though the manual says to learn on low rate. I just can't wrap my head around the slower cyclic response. Perhaps it's because I'm in a two car garage.
BATTERY 7: 2/25/10
I increased my timer to 6 minutes. 'Getting more comfortable with holding a hover for about 90 seconds. I definitely think the higher the head speed, the more "in control" I feel. For those who have asked, the BSR doesn't fly like my mSR at all, from my point of view. The non-stabilizing aspect isn't as much of a surprise if you anticipate it. I'm recharging my two batteries and flying helisim for a few minutes. I'm trying to match the performance both ways. Unfortunately, I can't get the BSR stock Tx to worth with my trainer cable, so I'm still using my DX6i.
BATTERY 8-10: 2/25/10
Flew three packs over the past hour. My first pirouette! Harrowing, again, as a novice, but encouraging nonetheless. It's getting late so I'll have to call it a night. Overall, I would say the BSR is working well for me. While I think the low rates are a little *too* slow to hold hover with in such a confined space as my garage, I'm going to head to Apollo 11 Field on Saturday to try it outdoors. I'm certain I'll see the benefit then!
A few quirks I've begun to notice:
1) The tail motor likes throttle. It's a good thing! I dialed the gain half the width of the flat head. I flew the tenth pack like that, and noticed a nice decrease in the wag.
2) The tail fin and horizontal stabilizer are made of a very soft and pliable plastic. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not? I would definitely like foam ball on the bottom of the tail fin while I'm learning...I'm always afraid it's going to flex so much that the tail rotor will hit the ground.
3) I plugged the gain wires so I can adjust it from the tx. Much easier now and I wish I had thought of it before. I will probably switch it back to onboard only, because I'm wary of bumping the exposed tx dial and having to readjust it all over again.
4) Spare parts kit...I'm hoping my LHS will have at least some blades tomorrow. That will go a long way to building my confidence to fly outdoors, knowing that I won't be down too long once I have my first crash. It's inevitable
New video, sorry for the focus, it's difficult to hover it in front of the camera tripod!
BATTERY 11: 2/26/10
A quick battery during my lunch break in my office's underground parking lot. The zero wind factor was nice. I borrowed a friend's GForce 1000mah 25C battery. Noticeably more "zippy", and easier to control.
BATTERIES 12-14: 2/26/10
Flew four batteries tonight after the kids went to sleep. I noticed that the heli is a lot louder with the canopy on, versus off. I suppose the sound echoes in the cavity? I'm becoming more confident on my hover. Increased to five 60 second hovers, with ten seconds of rest and reflection in between. All my hovering has been tail in so far, but I'm learning to compensate when I drift away, and return to tail in.
A few more lessons tonight:
1) The throttle response now seems much more smooth, now that I'm used to it. I try not to focus on the ratcheting feel. I had supposed that it was my nerves and not the heli, and I was right.
2) I haven't removed the training gear yet. To be honest, I probably won't until I'm very comfortable with forward flight. Some people say they're just a crutch, and I can see that point of view, but for the purposes of my tests, I'm trying NOT to crash, even if that means handicapping myself a little longer. For what it's worth, I'm trying not to think that they're there, so I don't rely on them in case I need to punch out.
3) The battery definitely slips around, even with the velcro strap. I've applied more velcro to the frame, and will probably mark its height, so the CoG is constant.
4) As mentioned earlier, the 25C batteries are used were very responsive. I plan on buying 25C and 30C batteries (Turnigy and GForce). The added bonus is that they're also compatible in the HBFPv2 that's arriving soon. The 25C are 93g I believe, which is ~6g above the weight of the stock 15c battery.
5) I soldered Deans connectors to the heli and battery so I can charge them off my Bantam BC6 charger. I was happy to see that the stock battery was already perfectly balanced out of the box.
BATTERY 11-25: 3/9/10
I've been away on a business trip for several days (and I didn't think my colleagues would appreciate me bringing my new toy along, heheheh). I did, however, download helisim onto my laptop and brought my DX6i along. Over the previous week I've logged about 6 more hours on the sim. Again, just trying to burn patterns into my brain (take off, hold the tail, tail in hover, circuits, fig 8s).
When I returned a couple days ago, I took the entire next day off and flew 15 packs over a six hour period. I didn't want to push the motor too hard yet since I'm still unfamiliar with how quickly it generates and can then withstand heat build up from flying packs back to back. So, I've instituted a personal policy of flying 5 minutes per battery, then letting the heli sit for at least 15-20 minutes. As I progress and improve my stamina (it takes a lot of energy to concentrate so hard for 5 minutes, lol), and as the motor and batteries "break in"), I will increase my timer to six mins.
The first five packs were low hovers (3-4 feet off the ground), to relearn how the SR handled compared to the sim. I am still using the stock tx, but I have created a model on my DX6i using a hybrid of some of the settings other people have generously posted publicly. My goal is by battery 40 to switch to the DX6i. Probably by this weekend.
The remaining ten packs yesterday were small forward flight "spurts". I force myself to keep the heli in the air at about 4 ft, while I [semi]-intentionally fly/drift toward a certain spot, then reverse and return to my starting point. My goal is to ween myself off of the knee jerk reaction to cut power and drop to the ground if ever I momentarily lose orientation. Luckily I haven't had any bad drops or crashes yet.
I am still using the training gear, but did move the balls in half way. I'll probably remove the balls this weekend, then remove the CF rods themselves by next weekend.
I also stocked up on a few parts, just knowing that my first SR crash is always just a few seconds away. I got about two of all the commonly replaced parts. I'm a bit wary of the pending shortage of SR-specific parts, so I got a few extras of those (main gear, skid, etc). I also bought a spare SR just in case.
One final observation...by battery #24, my tail motor started to wheeze...I may need a replacement soon...
|Feb 25, 2010, 03:46 PM|
I deemed my post as inaccurate or off topic, so I removed it and plus this is ADK100's spotlight.
|Feb 25, 2010, 03:55 PM|
Looking forward to hearing and SEEING more about your new SR!!
They say a slight "wagging" tail motion is normal for the SR, as can be seen in most of the videos on youtube!?
At any rate, congrats on the new purchase!!
|Feb 25, 2010, 04:02 PM|
I deemed my post as inaccurate or off topic, so I removed it. This is ADK100's spotlight.
|Feb 25, 2010, 04:08 PM|
Now if someone who has the skill level of, lets say, a common shoebox (like myself) were to demo the little bugger I would be happy.
|Feb 25, 2010, 04:42 PM|
United States, IL, Naperville
Joined Nov 2009
What, can't this guy type and fly at the same time?
Where's the play-by-play with the instant replay and coach's clicker?
Only kidding, of course. Thanks very much for sharing whatever you can.
|Feb 25, 2010, 04:49 PM|
A couple pictures added. The videos were too large so I reduced them in Windows Movie Maker and am reuploading them now.
@Silverexpress: It's not a race, friend. I already know another video was posted. I'm a novice at helis, and intend to take my time writing a complete review, from things as trivial as the styrofoam not being relieved enough by the horizontal stabilizer which resulted in a bent stabilizer, to that "meat" of the review: flight performance and novice-friendliness.
|Feb 25, 2010, 05:02 PM|
|Feb 25, 2010, 05:19 PM|
United States, MD, Nottingham
Joined Apr 2009
I'll help the poor guy out a bit, here are some pics I just took of mine. I have only had it for about 3 hours now, no flights yet. Still reading and learning. I have an mSR, but this is way different, just as I expected!! Pretty windy here today, and suppose to rain tomorrow, so I'm hoping to get her in the air soon!!
I've spooled her up, and checked flight movements. But I have to admit, I'm pretty confused about the switches, F MODE, Throttle up. I know what they do, I just don't get what they are going to do. I flip one and I'm expecting the thing to take off. I'll figure it out.
I'm looking forward to your review!!
|Feb 25, 2010, 06:05 PM|
I really appreciate your effort!!!
This is the kind of info I am looking for!
I wish to treat myself on my birthday and don't want to waste my money!
|Feb 25, 2010, 06:24 PM|
So you have been flying the mSR,and now you got the SR.How would you say your first thoughts were to yourself when you lifted off as compared to the mSR?
Was it a "wow this is quite a bit different than my mSR" or "wow this was easy to go to from the mSR,i'm glad cause i was worried"
I and others as well would like to hear your honest thoughts in those first few min. of flight.Thanks for the reveiw and pics.
|Feb 25, 2010, 07:02 PM|
Joined Jan 2010
It is going to be alot diffrent; I think you need to be fair to e-flite on that one.
This is a collective pitch, NON-stabilizing helicopter, no matter what anyone does to a helicotper the jump from a self stabilizing FP to a non-self stabilizing CP is going to be a big leap. The SR in those vids looked very stable, i think if the gyro gain is turned down to ditch the wag it will be alright.
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