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Heli-Max Comanche CX RTF Coaxial Helicopter Review

Lots of power, easy to control, very stable or can be flown fast and aggressively for short bursts!

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Introduction


Rotor Span:10.6 in
Weight:4.8 oz.
Length:12.5 in
Motors:Two Brushed 180s
Transmitter:4 Channel 72MHz FM transmitter
Fuselage:scale Inspired
Battery:7.4V 2-cell 500 mAh Lipo
Charger:AC wall charger
Blades:Fixed at grips, counter rotating
Manufacturer:Heli-Max
Available From:Heli-Max
Price:$99.98

Coaxial helicopters are a great place to start for beginner heli pilots. They have the advantage of being inherently stable thanks to the counter rotating blades. But not all coaxial helicopters fly the same or cost the same. Letís see how the no assembly necessary Comanche CX stacks up!

Brief History

Developed in 1991, the RAH-66 Comanche was to be an advanced twin engine, two-seat armed reconnaissance helicopter designed especially for tactical intelligence. It was a joint venture by Boeing and Sikorsky. It incorporated radar absorbent materials and stealth technologies including a retractable main gun and weapons stations. These made it virtually impossible to detect with radar. Four prototypes were ordered in 1991 when the helicopter was selected after competition. This order was reduced to two in 1994. Successful prototypes were made and at one time there were recommendations to purchase 1,213 of these helicopters. The first flight was on January 4, 1996. The cost of the copters ($34 billion estimated total) and the development of improved unmanned aircraft reduced the proposed number of helicopters first to 800 and then 600 and finally the project was canceled by the Pentagon on February 23, 2004. The stated reason was the funds were needed to renovate the existing fleet of aging attack, utility and reconnaissance aircraft as well as further development of UAVs. The actual cost of the program as canceled was $6.9 billion.

Kit Contents

Included in the Kit:

  • Comanche CX coaxial helicopter
  • Electrifly 7.4V 500mAh Lipo battery pack
  • 4 Channel FM transmitter on Channel 42
  • Electrifly wall charger for flight battery
  • Quick start instructions
  • Instruction manual

Items I supplied:

  • 8 AA batteries for the transmitter

Pilot Caused Crash Required the Following Parts

  • New fly bar
  • New lower blade

Assembly

The Comanche CX arrived nicely packed in its protective foam tray and ready to fly. No assembly was necessary. The FM transmitter requires 8 AA Alkaline batteries which I supplied and installed into a battery holder accessed through the back of the transmitter. The 2-cell 7.4 volt 500 mAh battery pack was charged with a supplied wall charger. The instructions said that it might take up to 4 hours to charge, but my charger's LED went from red (charging) to green (charged) in only ten minutes on the first charge. Charge times following full flights were from 40 minutes to 55 minutes. Charges after short flights were considerably shorter.

Completion

The flight battery goes into a battery box at the bottom of the helicopter. It has a hinged door that holds the battery in place on the bottom of the helicopter. The battery fit perfect, but the large red warning which read, "Stop!!! DO NOT leave the room where the battery is being charged! Only charge the battery on a fireproof surface! See instructions for details." was in the way. So, after reading it (and heeding it - if you are not familiar with Lipo batteries, please read the instructions concerning them that come with the Comanche CX), I carefully cut it off.

With the safety tag removed it was easy to install the battery pack. I turned on the transmitter, made sure the throttle was all the way down. Then I plugged in the battery pack to the connector in the copter and tucked the wires inside the Comanche CX's fuselage in front of the battery holder. I conducted a range check with the transmitter antenna collapsed. It passed my range check and I was ready to fly.

Flying

Basics

The instruction manual contains a good tutorial on how the helicopter responds to command inputs from the transmitter and what stick action controls what helicopter action. It also contains a detailed parts list with pictures so if a part gets broken a replacement part can be purchased. The rotor blades are held in place with a molded ridge in the blade and a screw. They do not freely pivot at their mounting point as do those on the smaller Heli-Max Nano size coaxial helicopter. However, they reportedly can pivot in the event of a crash (I didn't test this out although there were a few crashes in the review process.).

The Comanche CX is over a foot long, and that makes for good visibility and easy visual orientation of the helicopter. It is primarily an indoor helicopter but it can easily be flown outdoors on CALM days (NO wind). I had no problem with control of the helicopter as to transmitter range. I never wanted to fly very far away, even outside, and I always had control.

There is no working tail rotor. It is simply painted on the fuselage. All control is through the coaxial rotor blades that counter rotate. The right stick controls forward and backward flight as well as flight from side to side. Push the stick forward and to the right, and the helicopter goes forward and to the right. The left stick controls the speed of the rotors for climbing, hovering or descending. The side to side movement of the left stick causes the helicopter to turn in place. The more movement of the stick, the faster the rotation. By moving the left stick to the right or left the nose of the helicopter moves to the right or left. Hard continuous right turns with the left stick required more throttle to stay level. Hard continuous left turns required throttle reduction (this is normal on coaxial helicopters).

How to Crash

This helicopter is intended for pilots of all skill levels. But whether a beginner or expert, it is possible to strike something and have the helicopter crash. The chance of damaging the helicopter can be greatly reduced by observing a couple of precautions. 1) Flying over carpet indoors and grass outdoors makes for a softer landing surface in case of a crash. For the initial flights especially flying over a soft "landing" surface is like buying an insurance policy for the helicopter. The fall to a hard floor that breaks a part may cause no damage when hitting on carpet. 2) If your crashing or about to crash ... Kill the throttle. The helicopter is more likely to get damaged flopping around on the ground with the rotors turning then simply falling to the ground with them stopped. While you don't want to drop on purpose, if you hit something or are sure you are about to hit something move the throttle to the off position is often the safest way to go.

First Flight Tips

Give yourself as much space as possible! The more space you have in which to fly, the less pressure you will feel. Keep initial flights from 1 1/2 feet off the ground to 4 feet above the ground. Getting up 1 1/2 feet above the ground takes the copter out of most ground effects caused by the rotor's downdrafts and makes controlling the copter easier. Falls to the ground from four feet or less are less likely to cause damage than falls from the ceiling.

On initial flights keep the transmiter oriented to the helicopter. Start with the helicopter facing away from you so that its right and your right are the same. When you turn the helicopter to the left, turn your body to the left as well. The same with turning other directions. I have students turn away and rotate their arms even more when the helicopter is coming at them. This way their right is still aligned with the helicopter's right etc. Loss of orientation is one of the biggest problems for a beginner. This can be avoided by the pilot turning their body as described above and by not flying the helicopter too far away from them.

Taking Off and Landing

The helicopter has trim tabs for all four stick functions. When you throttle up with the left stick the helicopter lifts off the ground. My Comanche CX consistently went to the back and left when I had it lift off of the ground slowly. I could correct that by holding in a touch of right and forward when I throttled up, and I was then able to stay over my starting point. I would normally climb the Comanche CX to 1 1/2 feet above the ground and ease the right stick back to the neutral position. It basically hovered there without any adjustment to the trim tabs. If it did drift consistently in one direction, I would correct for it by adjusting the trim tabs as necessary. For example, if it drifted to the left, I adjusted the horizontal trim tab for the right stick to the right until it stopped drifting. (For the beginner this is best done by landing first and then moving the trim tab a click or two and testing the results.)

My Comanche CX required no trim adjustment. In a normal size room it hovers very well and requires only minimal correction to stay in a hover. In a small hallway, due to the effect of the air movement in a confined area, I had to make more stick movements to control the Comanche CX (which is entirely normal even for a coaxial helicopter).

With smooth, steady application of power I would get lift off and the backward movement I described above. After I had climbed to my desired height I would slightly reduce the throttle to get into a hover.

If I applied full throttle quickly the Comanche would literally shoot up into the air. It has excellent power and climbing ability. Be careful trying this out if you are in a room with a low ceiling. It caught me by surprise the first time I tried it. Look for a quick launch in one of the videos below.

For landings I simply slowly reduced throttle. There is a bit of ground effect drift if I tried to make my landing really slowly. At a couple of inches above ground I needed to make more corrections then in normal flight at higher levels.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The great stability supplied by the coaxial rotors of the Comanche CX limit its ability for acrobatic flying. It can rotate slowly or pirouette in place with movement of the left, "rudder" stick. It can fly in all directions with the right stick, it just doesn't go in those directions very fast during SMOOTH LEVEL flight. My Comanche CX surprised me with with its flight stability. I have recently been flying some off brand coaxials that I have never heard of before that many stores sell for the holidays, and none matched the stability and control of the Comanche CX, including 4 channel helicopters of approximately the same size. I found directional changes during level flight with no adjustment to the throttle to be precise. When I gave a directional movement command from level hovering flight, even with full stick throw to that direction it was not very fast in directional movement. While slow directional movement is common for coaxial helicopters, the Comanche CX was particularly slow going backwards with no change of throttle.

However, In a large room giving more throttle at the same time I gave the directional command the Comanche CX could really move out quickly in any direction starting with a climb at the start of the move. I could get the Comanche CX to tilt in the direction I was heading and use some of the throttle increase for directional speed as well as climb. If I added in a turn or side movement at the start to help it get into more of a bank when it started the climb then the directional speed would often be even faster. I could not maintain all of this increased directional speed without staying in a climb, but with practice I got better at it, especially turning. Admittedly, maintaining increased speed is still a hit and miss proposition for me but it makes for an interesting challenge. This didn't make my Comanche CX more aerobatic, simply faster. This "speed flying" required a good size room or calm conditions outside as some space was/is needed for this higher speed flying technique. It isn't something I can comfortably do in my little family room.

The Comanche CX can fly for a pretty long time with its relatively large 500 mAh battery pack. I have had most flying sessions last ten minutes or more. I only have the one battery but even if I had two I would allow the Comanche's motors some time to cool down before flying a second battery. I would recommend ten minutes between batteries to allow for motor cooling for longer motor life.

OOPS!

During one flight, the fly bar (the metal balance bar with two weights attached that is above the top rotor blades) hit the edge of a table and was severely bent. I figured that would be the end of flying until I got a replacement fly bar. My friend and I bent it back as best we could (the pictures below show we bent it even more.) Even though I thought it wouldn't fly worth beans I decided to give it a try. When I powered up the Comanche I expected a toilet bowl effect where it would circle like water in a flushing toilet. But to my surprise, it hovered much better then I would ever have expected. However, it did have a noticeable vibration. I flew it both indoors and outdoors a day later in foggy conditions. The second video below was shot with the bent fly bar and a chip out of the lower rotor blade. I ordered a new fly bar and a pair of replacement lower rotor blades from Tower Hobby on Monday, and they arrived Thursday. It is nice that they have a complete parts list with pictures in the manual and replacement parts available at stores and Heli-Max. Try getting parts for no name brand helicopters!

Is This For a Beginner?

"Fly It Now, No Experience Necessary" is the claim in the advertising for this helicopter by Heli-Max, and I agree with them. This helicopter is great for beginners. It has the inherent stability of a coaxial helicopter so it is easy to hover. Just throttle up and lift off, climb and the Comanche CX is in a hover. The joysticks control the same functions of Heli-Max's more advanced helicopters so flying the Comanche CX teaches the beginner the directional controls and directional orientation and to be better able to handle a single rotor Heli-Max helicopter in the future. It has precise control and has proven to be a very stable helicopter making it an excellent helicopter for the beginner.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Post Crash Damage to Fly Bar and lower Rotor Blade

Downloads

Downloads

Conclusion

The Comanche CX is a very nice coaxial helicopter for indoor flying to learn how the basic helicopter controls work and to become oriented to helicopter piloting. Its directional control is very good. It went where I directed it, and I could repeatedly land it on a card table from thirty feet away. Its climb rate is very good for a coaxial helicopter. Its directional speed, when initiated with increased throttle and especially with a 90 degree turn, was surprisingly quick compared to its smooth throttle directional flight. My friend Dick Andersen also found it to have excellent power, control and duration. While I go more for precise control than speed on my indoor helicopters I was very happy to be able to get both by altering my flying style from precise to aggressive by using more throttle for more speed when I can get the Comanche CX to tilt a bit. It also has been fun to fly outdoors in calm conditions. I was surprised by how well it flew with a bent fly bar and one chipped rotor.

Pluses:

  • Stable hover
  • Precise control
  • Good flight duration
  • Good price

Minuses:

  • Recharge time (45 min avg full charge)
  • Middle seam on fuselage body viewed from above
Last edited by Angela H; Jan 09, 2010 at 11:55 AM..

Discussion

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Old Jan 21, 2010, 10:38 PM
If it flies, I can crash it.
sleb's Avatar
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Joined Nov 2003
1,513 Posts
Mike,
Another nice review, Is there anything different between this and the axe cx besides the folding blades. You should do a review of the Nine Eagle BravoIII next.
Steve
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Old Jan 22, 2010, 10:23 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,601 Posts
Hi Steve:
While I have seen the Axe CX I haven't flown it. I reviewed the smaller Heli-Max Nano-CX. Sorry I can't answer your question. My next helicopter reviews with be the HeliMax Nano fixed pitch SeaCobra and the E-flite Blade Tandem Rescue. Thanks for the complement. Good flying to you. Mike Heer
PS: I hope to have some heli videos in my review of next weeks Arizona Electric festival. I plan to night fly my Blade CX3 there next Friday night. Will have to see what helicopters are there.
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Old Jan 22, 2010, 02:42 PM
If it flies, I can crash it.
sleb's Avatar
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Joined Nov 2003
1,513 Posts
Cant wait to see some of that video. I love my Micro Tandem, that is an easy copter to fly, nice and relaxing. That Sea Cobra/ 4#3 is a little squirrly from what I hear. If you can get some shots of the Parkzone J-3 ultra micro cub at the festival that would be great. Been waiting what seems like forever for that one.
Steve
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Old May 13, 2010, 07:08 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,601 Posts
A young neightbor has become an excellent coaxial helicopter pilot this past week flying my Comanche. He is almost ready to transition to a single rotor helicopter. Michael Heer
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Old Oct 18, 2010, 12:25 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,601 Posts
Tower hobby has this helicopter on sale for $30.00 off right now. The helicopter performs very well and can even be flown out of doors in relatively calm conditions. Mike H
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Old Oct 27, 2010, 11:23 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,601 Posts
From today through Nov 7, Tower is selling this helicopter for under $50.00. It is a very good performer. Mike H
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Old Oct 27, 2010, 11:01 PM
Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum!
Doubletap's Avatar
PRC (People's Republic of Commiefornia)
Joined Jul 2005
9,602 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Heer View Post
From today through Nov 7, Tower is selling this helicopter for under $50.00. It is a very good performer. Mike H
Ordered onetoday! Too good of deal to pass, especially with one of Tower's $10 discounts for $50 and up orders.
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Old Nov 09, 2010, 12:13 AM
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madmike8's Avatar
USA, TN, Fayetteville
Joined Dec 2004
878 Posts
I got mine in today... I've been flying my mcx around... and while i'm not good at... i am capable... The comanche was harder for me... I'm going to try again in a larger space... no damage yet... knocked the flybar out a couple times... and the landing gear...
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Old Nov 09, 2010, 07:17 PM
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madmike8's Avatar
USA, TN, Fayetteville
Joined Dec 2004
878 Posts
I tried flying it today at work... No go... I'm putting this one on the shelf until I'm good at the MCX... The MCX is much easier to learn with... I'm not saying this is a bad copter... it's just that I'll end up tearing this one to pieces trying to learn with it...
It's very heavy...
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Old Nov 09, 2010, 08:02 PM
Master Of My Universe
scotsoft's Avatar
Newcastle, UK
Joined Jul 2010
2,709 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by madmike8 View Post
I tried flying it today at work... No go... I'm putting this one on the shelf until I'm good at the MCX... The MCX is much easier to learn with... I'm not saying this is a bad copter... it's just that I'll end up tearing this one to pieces trying to learn with it...
It's very heavy...
A wise decision, I bought a second hand MSR a few months ago, one of those too good to miss offers .

Tried it once and put it away, I am now managing to hover for about 20 to 25 seconds before I over compensate like crazy, so it goes back on the shelf for a few more weeks but I will get there
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Old Nov 15, 2010, 01:42 AM
Have Guitar Will Travel
TravisBean's Avatar
The Digital Domain
Joined Nov 2008
1,377 Posts
Well, I've flown about 6 packs now on the Comanche, and am fairly comfortable hovering.
I have not been able to trim the heli to prevent it from constantly rotating CC. I removed the front portion of the fuselage and found 2 potentiometers on the main board. I rotated the one closest to the nose 1 half turn CC. This seems to have eliminated the CC yaw problem (in conjunction with max trim adjustment).
No mention of theses adjustments in the owners manual.
This Heli flys OK, but nothing to write home to mother about.
It's about as difficult to fly as a Msr, but not as responsive.
Not nearly as easy to fly as a Mcx.

Edit: Good thing there are heat sinks on the motors, because they do get hot.
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Last edited by TravisBean; Nov 15, 2010 at 03:06 AM.
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Old Nov 15, 2010, 01:13 PM
Have Guitar Will Travel
TravisBean's Avatar
The Digital Domain
Joined Nov 2008
1,377 Posts
Aside from the trim problem I encountered with this Heli, my biggest complaint is the lack of "precision" in the control response.
If you move the left stick to the left, to yaw left (point the nose to the left), the heli will still continue to turn left even after terminating the command. Eventually you can calculate the amount of "oversteer" in advance and apply stick commands accordingly.
When applying forward cyclic the heli has a tendency to rock back and forth with a less than smooth response.
I have found that the more I fly, the better I get at compensating for these inadequacies.
These helis are using the older 72 Mhz radio system, and are probably being phased out. I considered the purchase still to have been a reasonable value, for I had the opportunity to get the feel for a larger style heli, coming from a Mcx, Msr, and S107.
Would I buy another one ? No.
Would I recommend the purchase of one, at the price I paid? Yes/Neutral.
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Last edited by TravisBean; Nov 15, 2010 at 04:03 PM.
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Old Nov 15, 2010, 08:35 PM
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USA, TN, Fayetteville
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I agree with you Travis...
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Old Nov 15, 2010, 09:05 PM
Have Guitar Will Travel
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The Digital Domain
Joined Nov 2008
1,377 Posts
Thanks, every once in a while I get it right.........
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