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Heli-Max Novus AH-1J SeaCobra RTF Nano-Sized Fixed Pitch Helicopter Review

Michael Heer reviews the RTF Novus Nano-Sized AH-1J SeaCobra from Heli-Max that comes RTF with a 2.4GHz radio system.

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Introduction


Rotor Diameter:7.9 inches
Weight:2 oz.
Height:3.3 inches
Length:9 inches
Width:2.67 inches
Transmitter:4-channel 2.4 GHz
Battery:400mAh LiPo battery
Manufacturer:Heli-Max
Available From:Heli-Max
Price:$179.97

The SeaCobra is the fourth in the line of Novus helicopters for Heli-Max. It is a fixed-pitch, nano sized RTF helicopter that comes complete with everything needed to fly except for 8 AA batteries for the included 2.4 GHz transmitter. The total flying weight was only 2 ounces. It can be flown indoors and in calm conditions outside.

Here is the promotional Heli-Max Novus SeaCobra video to further introduce you to this new palm size nano helicopter. I can confirm that my helicopter, right out of the box, could fly like the one in the video.

Kit Contents

The helicopter arrived almost ready to fly with an included wall charger, 400 mAh 3.7V LiPo battery, instruction manual and a quick start sheet. There was even a spare pair of main blades and a spare tail rotor blade. The total flying weight was only 2 ounces. It can be flown indoors and in calm conditions outside.

Included Items:

  • RTF AH-1J SeaCobra
  • 2.4 GHz 4 channel Transmitter
  • 400 mAh 3.7 V Lipo battery
  • Wall Charger for Lipo battery
  • Spare main blades
  • Spare rotor blade
  • Instruction Manual
  • Quick Start Sheet

Items I Supplied:

  • 8 AA Alkaline batteries for the transmitter

Assembly

There is a short assembly process for the addition of some minor details. Before starting the assembly, I put the supplied Lipo battery on the charger and plugged the charger into an electric wall socket to charge the flight battery. I installed the 8 AA batteries into the transmitter's battery holder that I accessed through the back of the transmitter.

I plugged the weapon pod into each side of the helicopter. I noticed that there was a tail support on the picture of the helicopter, and I found a matching part in the bag with the spare tail rotor. This just snapped into the bottom back of the fuselage. Installing both the weapon pods and the tail skid were very simple: They just snapped into place. I was surprised to find that there was no mention of them in the instruction manual. I have not glued the weapon pods or tail support in place so I can remove them if needed.

The helicopter stores in the molded plastic holder it came in with these parts installed. I am keeping the box since it is perfect for storing and transporting my SeaCobra. The pictures below were taken after the battery had been charged and installed into the SeaCobra.

As the battery continued charging, I read the Quick Start sheet and the Instruction Manual, from which I learned how to bind the helicopter to the included transmitter. There is a picture section covering how the left collective stick and right cyclic stick control the helicopter, a further flying section, a brief maintenance section and a parts list with an exploded view of all the parts.

Detail

When installing the weapon pods, I gave the helicopter a good inspection. The color scheme and the panel lines look authentic for the Marine SeaCobra. The assembly looked solid and of hobby grade rather than toy quality.

It will be possible to take the helicopter apart and repair it if I need to do so. It is nice to know that parts are readily available. I have no hobby store in town which means ordering online where parts are only a couple of days away.

Other details noted were the pivoting main rotor blades, the included pilot and the assorted weapons on the helicopter.

Binding

To bind the helicopter to the transmitter so that the transmitter would control it and only it on 2.4 GHz, I had to first connect the flight battery to the helicopter and then turn on the transmitter. I was told in the instruction manual that I would notice the logo on the transmitter lit up and flashing, and I certainly did! After a few seconds the logo stopped flashing, and I heard some servo movement on the SeaCobra. I had the copter on a flat level surface and did nothing for the next five seconds after it bound with the transmitter. This five seconds allows the helicopter's gyro to set up properly. The helicopter was then bound to the transmitter with the gyro properly oriented. The battery was charged, and it was ready to fly.

Activation Sequence

Once the transmitter was bound to the SeaCobra I turned the transmitter on and then connected the battery to the ESC in the SeaCobra while the SeaCobra was sitting on a flat level surface. This is the way most of my 2.4GHz aircraft work after they have been bound to a transmitter. Not so with the SeaCobra. It needs to bind with the transmitter every time I fly it. It just means I power up the helicopter before turning on the transmitter.

Flying

The nano size and other small micro helicopters are more easily moved by the down drafts they create when they are trying to hover close to the ground. The heavier the helicopter (normally larger as well), the easier it normally is to hover near the ground. Flying 1 1/2 feet up from the floor or table removed the helicopter from this situation. I have little problem with directional flight close to the ground if moving at a decent speed. The slower the speed (the more like a hover), the more control/corrections I need to input. For this reason it is important to get the micro helicopters up and away from the ground or table quickly.

Basics

The SeaCobra is a four channel fixed pitch helicopter. The transmitter controls are the same as most other helicopters in North America. The left stick is the Collective and it controls throttle and the tail rotor. The right stick is the Cyclic and it controls flight forward and reverse and side flight to the left or right. Before the first flight I centered all of the trim tabs on the transmitter. I placed the helicopter on a smooth floor, facing away from me with ten feet of open space in all directions from where the helicopter was resting. I powered up the helicopter and lifted off and climbed to about two feet. At the same time, the helicopter started drifting left and slightly backwards. I lowered the throttle and landed. I adjusted the right stick's horizontal trim tab by moving it a couple of clicks to the right and the vertical trim tab a couple clicks up/forward. I recentered the helicopter on the original starting point and throttled up for the second time. It took me only a couple of adjustments to get the helicopter trimmed properly. I noticed it drifted more closely to the floor from ground effect than the nano Novus CX I reviewed this past year. Those tests confirmed it was important that I have the SeaCobra climb quickly to get to more stable flying air a couple feet off of the ground.

Take Off and Landing

I start every flying session with the SeaCobra facing away from me so that its orientation is aligned with my own to help me get my head into the helicopter. My initial takeoffs were by simply powering up the left stick to take off and climb to a height of at least 1 1/2 feet off of the launching surface to get out of any "ground effect." After I had the helicopter properly trimmed I could attempt more adventurous takeoffs, applying some rotation or other direction input at the same time I throttled up. This caused the SeaCobra to start with directional movement at the same time as lift off, avoided any hover and got the helicopter moving more quickly in the direction I chose.

I am still more comfortable landing from a hover than coming in with a directional movement while descending and then flaring just before touchdown. I do those on occasion, and the SeaCobra does them well as long as I don't try coming in too hot. I have missed and caused the SeaCobra to roll but I have shut down the throttle and the blades have pivoted without any damage thus far. Because the SeaCobra is so light and the prop wash strong I try and set her down fairly quickly, especially the last six inches. If I am slow and let her hover at that height or lower she will often start to drift with the speed of the drift in any given direction increasing quickly or requiring me to counter it. This is normal for small helicopters.

Aerobatics

The Heli-Max SeaCobra is a fixed pitch helicopter and as such is not designed for, nor able to perform full 3D flight as done by the Heli-Max Novus CP. Its flight characteristics are much more aligned with the Heli-Max Novus FP. The SeaCobra adds the look, and thereby some of the feel, of being able to perform military attack missions. From popping up from behind the sofa or a bush and doing a simulated attack on an R/C tank, or coming in hot and doing a strafing run on the imagined enemy at the edge of the yard. The SeaCobra supplies a different feel to the same maneuvers done by the Novus FP. Indoors I have to keep the maneuvers relatively tame due to limited space. Once trimmed, I was able to fly the SeaCobra around my house. My most frequent flights have been around the family room during TV commercials. During the Christmas season I would sometimes hover over sections of our Dicken's village and create a local snow storm and blow down some of the lighter evergreen trees.

Outdoors on calm days or at the gym or our church's fellowship hall the SeaCobra had more room to show her stuff and display her speed. Faster speed runs were obtained by applying a little additional throttle at the same time giving a directional command to the SeaCobra. Transitioning from a steady hover to forward direction the SeaCobra moves faster then my Comanche CX but add in a little additional throttle at the start and she gets a tilt and really speeds up. My most common speed maneuvers involved banked turns and half pipe style turns at the end of a run and the start of a return run in the reverse direction. I am getting better at pop up and back down "attacks" and making a run and pivoting the copter so the guns remained aimed at a central point as I leave the area in the direction I was heading but now flying backwards to keep the weapons trained on my target. That maneuver is still a work in progress for me. It has ended in a few minor crashes though so far no damage to the SeaCobra. Although small it is relatively tough, and I am sure the lack of weight/mass has helped prevent damage with my carpet crashes.

I have found I have to stop and think before I fly. The first flight back in my home after flying outdoors or at our fellowship hall I had to think small movements with the transmitter. I have sometimes gotten a little carried away and traversed the family room faster than I intended. The SeaCobra is small but that doesn't mean it is slow.

The SeaCobra is 2/10ths of an ounce heavier then the Novus FP. That amount makes the SeaCobra about 10% heavier then the Novus FP. I have only flown a Novus FP a couple of times months ago. It was perhaps just slightly quicker in the climb if I am remembering correctly. I did not have a chance to directly compare them. I know they are both enjoyable to fly but that I like the scale looks of the SeaCobra more.

My Attack Runs

I'm better flying my attacks from right to left, target in front of me and to the right. From my hover 2 feet off of the ground I start my attack by flying straight forward at the target. As I close to half the original distance to the target I transition from forward flight to left side flight while slowly rotating the SeaCobra to the right using the left stick. When I draw even to the target I am five feet out on a parallel path. Picture the target stationary on one railroad rail while the SeaCobra is on the other rail. The SeaCobra travels down the rail pivoting to keep the weapons trained on the target. I transition from left side flight to backwards flight while still rotating the helicopter slowly with the left stick to keep the weapons on the target. Attacks can be made slowly, and with practice, I have picked up speed. I have crashed and rolled the helicopter onto the carpet a number of times with no damage so far. HOWEVER, I have always killed the throttle before the ground strike. The SeaCobra's light weight and pivoting props have saved my bacon so far.

Is This for a Beginner?

NO! You have to be on the controls at all times. It responds well to control but is not beginner friendly. The increased flight speed and response speed is a real challenge for the beginner.

Photo Gallery & Video

Downloads

Conclusion

The assembly was quick and easy even without instructions. The helicopter was ready for its first flight as soon as the battery was charged and got about 20 minutes on the first charge. The SeaCobra only required minor trimming adjustments to obtain controlled level flight. Because of the SeaCobra's small size I have been getting in quite a bit of indoor stick time, and I see my skills getting better the more I fly. Whether it is limited speed controlled flight in my family room or faster flight at our fellowship hall or outdoors on calm days the SeaCobra has been up to the task. So far the SeaCobra has proven to be a very accurate and fun fixed pitch nano helicopter. I love the military color scheme and details included in the SeaCobra's fuselage and weapon pods. I find I am flying more and more attack runs similar to those I have seen helicopters perform on the History Channel. Since I never flew these patterns with my civilian scheme helicopters I have to conclude that the body and paint are influencing my flight pattern decisions and I am loving it.

Pluses:

  • Ready to fly when the battery was charged
  • Nice scale details and paint scheme
  • Can be taken apart and all parts are available
  • Hobby grade, not toy grade
  • Blades pivot as advertise
  • Good flight time
  • Stores and transports safely in its box

Minuses

  • Charging time can be significant so I'm getting a second battery

My thanks to Vic Checkcinco, Jeff Hunter and our editor for their help with this review.

Last edited by Angela H; Feb 11, 2010 at 02:39 PM..

Discussion

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Old Feb 12, 2010, 03:21 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,369 Posts
I got about 10 minutes flight time per full charge. The first charge took about twenty minutes as the battery was partially charged when received. Sorry about my typo. Mike H
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Old Feb 12, 2010, 03:46 PM
blue moon with an orange slice
LI NY
Joined Mar 2009
210 Posts
can we get a picture of the guts? how many parts say walkera on them?
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 02:30 AM
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Rick Hauler's Avatar
Allentown, PA
Joined Mar 2009
424 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by popdada View Post
can we get a picture of the guts? how many parts say walkera on them?
You can probably see some red or blue under that camo. The 4#3Q is still in my opinion the best micro Walkera has made. By far the most stable IMHO. I'm surprised it took this long for Novus to pick it up. Shame it still uses those stroke servos though. Unless Novus had that changed. I may have to pick one of these up just for the camo. Love scale helis, but prefer more realistic paint schemes. If Walkera would have released this originally, probably would have sold more units.
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 09:50 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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All four of the Novus helicopters released so far come from Walkera. Mike H
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 11:37 AM
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Joined Aug 2008
456 Posts
I really liked my 4#3Q. It was my first heli. I found it fairly easy to fly, but I had been flying on a sim for a year before I finally bought one. The little guy can pull off some cool stall turn(ish) maneuvers if you are outside and have enough space. Sadly mine had a spectacular death. The tail motor came unsoldered as I pulled out of a stall turn thing. I had the throttle all the way up when it happened. Sad to see the heli fly straight into the ground, but also quite funny at the same time. I really want another one

I recommend purchasing two spare batteries.
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 02:44 PM
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Bill Glover's Avatar
United Kingdom, Bracknell
Joined Nov 2000
11,480 Posts
Cute little heli, but the looks are really spoilt by the bright red battery pack hanging underneath?
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 02:50 PM
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JookSing's Avatar
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Joined Jun 2005
561 Posts
Does this SeaCobra have the 45 degree flybar?
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 03:35 PM
2 seconds from crashing
indoorheli's Avatar
United States, WA, Seattle
Joined Sep 2007
7,349 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by JookSing View Post
Does this SeaCobra have the 45 degree flybar?
No it doesnt
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 05:35 PM
HELP I AM BEING SET UP!!
maukabud's Avatar
United States, OR, Deschutes
Joined Jul 2009
3,940 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Glover View Post
Cute little heli, but the looks are really spoilt by the bright red battery pack hanging underneath?
my thought exactly! ^

nice review!

Interesting side note- the scale looks are officially licensed by Bell/Textron.

I have an Eflite mSR and am thinking of doing a Fiddlersgreen paper AH-1 body:

https://www.fiddlersgreen.net/models...ell-Cobra.html

<like the avatar I found today?
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Old Feb 15, 2010, 10:53 AM
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Slider388's Avatar
Columbus, OH
Joined Aug 2008
214 Posts
yeah, nice heli but the battery just ruins the whole scale look. I'd rather have a slightly bigger heli with a hidden pack.
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Old Feb 15, 2010, 12:00 PM
www.helimax-rc.com
Champaign, IL
Joined Sep 2007
61 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slider388 View Post
yeah, nice heli but the battery just ruins the whole scale look. I'd rather have a slightly bigger heli with a hidden pack.

The battery is in fact black to help blend in better. GPMP0409 is the part number for the black battery. The Red battery is GPMP0408.
This reviewer was provided the incorrect battery to do a simple ordering error on my part!
Jason
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Old Feb 15, 2010, 01:33 PM
I am the 53%
Bullitt3309's Avatar
San Antonio TX
Joined Mar 2008
184 Posts
Maybe Heli-max can convince Walkera to bring a brushless converter for the ESC, since this one uses a higher PWM signal than before...
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Old Feb 15, 2010, 06:47 PM
Registered User
Toronto, Canada
Joined Jan 2005
2,358 Posts
been flying my Q for almost a year and half now and still love it as much as the day i got it - never had an issue and after hundreds of flights i am still on my 2nd tail motor and 3rd main

the stroke servos are great so dont let that put you off, the 4in1 is super well made and totally reliable.

love the looks of this one though - i painted mine to look similar to this paint scheme- but ordering a replacement body for this one would of saved me a a lot of work
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Old Feb 15, 2010, 07:47 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,369 Posts
Well the red battery didn't put me off as I am usually standing up and flying the helicopter below my waist making runs on my imagined enemy. Our cat made a run at my SeaCobra today and I went high to keep the fuzzy ball from hurting himself. He went up and launched himself from a chair and I barely moved out of his line of attack as he twisted in the air to try and follow the SeaCobra. Cat and copter are both fine but I can no longer fly my copters in the same room with the fuzz ball. Mike H
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