|Rotor Diameter:||21.80 inches|
|Tail Rotor Diameter:||3.20 inches|
|Weight RTF:||12 oz. w/ battery|
|Servos:||DS75 digital sub-Micro (3 installed)|
|Transmitter:||HP6DSM 6 channel 2.4GHz DSM2 transmitter|
|Receiver:||Spektrum AR6100e 2.4GHz installed|
|Battery:||3S 11.1V 1,000mAh Li-Po|
|Tail Motor:||Direct Drive N60 cored motor|
|Main Motor:||Brushless 3,900 Kv|
|On-Board Electronics:||2 in 1 Mixer/ESC|
|Power Supply:||AC adapter 12V 1.5A|
|Gyro:||G110 Micro Heading Lock installed|
|Available From:||Horizon Hobby and fine RC hobby stores|
I was lucky enough to shoot the first videotape of the Blade SR helicopter when I saw Mark Padilla fly it at the AMA Exposition this past January in Ontario, CA. I was very intrigued with the concept of a helicopter that would help the beginner flying a coaxial helicopter transition to a collective pitch helicopter.
Iíve had a transitional pilot fly the helicopter as part of the review, my friend Ken Thomas, who flies lots of fixed wing planes and who owns and flies a couple of Blade coaxial helicopters. Although he has tried to fly a fixed pitch helicopter, he hasn't successfully flown a single rotor helicopter before.
Horizon Hobby has an introduction video where Jim Booker interviews Mark Padilla. Make sure to also check out the instruction manual. It is excellent and has flying instructions and basic information for the transitioning pilot.
I am excited and hopeful that this product will be the transition helicopter that E-flite claims.
Included with the kit:
Blade SR RTF
Items Supplied by Author:
|Operating Speed:||0.11 sec/60į @4.8 volts|
|Torque (4.8V):||17.2 oz-in.|
|Dimensions:||0.45" x .90"x .94"|
|Motor Type:||3-pole ferrite|
|Bushing or Bearing:||Bushing|
G110 Micro Heading Lock Gyro
|Sensor Type:||Piezoelectric Ceramic|
|Dimensions:||.6 x 1.0 x 1.0 in|
|Gain Type:||Single setting on-gyro or dual setting remote from Transmitter|
|High/Low Frame Rate Select:||Yes Analog & Digital support|
E-flite has announced three options that will be available for the Blade Sr in addition to a complete supply of spare parts. The options include training gear, a sunset colored canopy and a black tail boom. The training gear gives a broader base to the landing gear and helps make upright landings a bit easier in part from the slight additional weight at the lowest point on the helicopter.
Due to my less-than-perfect helicopter flying ability, I ordered a couple replacement parts. I have found that I am most likely to damage the fly bar during the course of a review, so I ordered a spare set of flybar wires, main rotors and a second battery pack. It is my hope that in having the first two items on hand, I won't need them for this review! There is probably a corollary to Murphy's law that the spare parts I buy will not be the parts that break. However, the rotor blades were an exception to that law (see below).
Key Features (As posted on Horizon Hobby's Website)
No assembly of the SR was necessary. It arrived completely assembled, test flown, with the transmitter was already bound to the helicopter. I merely had to install the supplied 4 AA Alkaline batteries into the transmitter and charge and install the LiPo 3-cell battery flight pack into the SR helicopter. Optional training gear is available for SR and can be purchased separately which helps with balance and stability by: 1) adding some weight to the bottom of the helicopter and 2) spreading out the reach of the landing gear to help keep the helicopter upright. The instruction manual covers very well how to install the optional training gear.
I plugged the voltage adapter into the wall and to the balanced charger and then connected the balance plug of the battery to the charger. While the battery charged, I started reading the 76 page instruction manual. The charger also has red and black clips and can be used with a 12 volt battery to charge the flight battery at the field using a car battery. The charger has both a red and green LED on it. The first charge took only about twenty minutes since the battery pack arrived partially charged.
Charger LED Indicators:
With the battery fully charged it was time to install it into the SR helicopter. I removed the helicopter's canopy, added hook and added loop material to the battery pack and the matching material to the battery platform on the helicopter. I turned on the transmitter and then plugged in the battery pack on the helicopter to make sure they were still bound together. They were! If they had not been, I would have had to rebind the helicopter to the transmitter.
Should it be necessary to rebind the transmitter and helicopter, the process is both simple and explained well in the instruction manual. For the expert helicopter pilot, the SR can be bound to any existing DSM2 transmitter. But it is currently only available with the specially programmed HP6DSM transmitter, and it is intended that the SR helicopter and that transmitter will be used together. When the pilot progresses beyond the transition stage, the SR helicopter can advance with the pilot with a change in the main rotor blades and transmitter.
The DS 75 sub-micro servos are the same ones used in the Blade 400 and should be able to handle the normal flying stresses experienced with the SR Helicopter. The G-110 Gyro is also found in the Blade 400 where it has proven itself in normal and 3D flying. The SR has a new 1000 mAh battery pack. It is only 15C, but that is adequate for the amperage draw of the new brushless motor used in the SR helicopter. The 2-in-1 mixer is also new to power the brushless main motor and the brushed tail rotor motor. To adjust the mix between the motors there is a mixing dial on the 2-in-1 unit that can be accessed from the bottom of the helicopter. To determine if this is functioning correctly from a hover, do the pop up test: From a hover, shoot up a couple of feet by rapidly increasing throttle. If the helicopter remains basically still with regards to side to side yaw no adjustment is necessary. If it yaws (rotates) to the left the mix should be slightly increased. If yaw is to the right then the mix should be slightly decreased. The 2 in 1 unit is designed to give soft low voltage cutoff and a slow soft start which is desirable for the transitioning pilot. However, it can also supply a quick start up by powering up, powering down completely and then a fast start is available for the next fifteen seconds. After fifteen seconds it goes back to a slow start.
The helicopter has one piece landing gear and a molded one piece frame to help give the SR a solid body, hopefully robust enough to withstand some beginner accidents. The rotor blades are made of wood and are intentionally heavy with a slightly narrower cord and longer length than blades for other copters of this approximate size. They have been designed to give the SR better balance than the existing blades out on the market. The SR has collective pitch with a Bell-Hiller system with rotor head soft dampening to help increase stability. They are supposed to respond quickly to commands but then slow down compared to a normal Bell-Hiller system. The fly bar paddles are designed to have the weights out further to slow down response and help smooth out the flight characteristics. The weights can be moved inward when the pilot is ready to progress to a more responsive helicopter. Carbon fiber aerobatic blades can be installed at that future date as well.
Besides the two main sticks and their trim tabs there are four additional switches and two knobs. On the left top side of the transmitter the front switch is the flight mode or F switch. In this review it will be kept in the back or 0 position as I am reviewing this helicopter as a transition helicopter. For the helicopter's 2-in-1 controller to arm, this switch must be in the back (normal) position. In this position, the throttle goes from 0-100. The front position is the stunt idle up mode, and it goes from 100-100. For advanced flying, this switch is toggled when the helicopter is in the air and flying forward. The switch is for advanced flying and is discussed further in the instruction manual. I have set mine to the back, 0 position, and will leave it there. Likewise, the knob on the top left is for advanced flying and does nothing with the F switch in the 0 position. It will not be covered further in this review. The switch on the back left is the trainer switch and is used if there are two transmitters connected together. Holding in that switch on the master transmitter (the one turned on) lets the slave transmitter have control. Let go of the switch and the Master transmitter is back in control.
On the right side the front switch is the Dual Rate switch. In the back position high rates are on, and those are recommended for advanced pilots. In the front position, the low rates are on, and those are recommended for the transitioning pilot. A small amount of exponential has been programmed into the transmitter for both high and low rates and is not adjustable. For this review it will be staying in the forward low rate position. The back switch on the right side is the throttle hold position. For this review I will be leaving it in the backward 0 position also known as the off position. The forward position is the 1st position and on. You can read up on it when you are ready to advance with your SR to the next level. The knob on the top right is the fifth channel knob, and it is not in use on the SR as sold. It will not be used in the course of this review.
While the canopy was off I followed the instruction manual and quickly tested the components to make sure they were still in good working order. I disconnected the motor (unplugged the three motor wires) so that the motor could not operate. I turned on the transmitter and connected the battery pack to the helicopter's controller. I viewed the helicopter from the side and moved the left stick (collective) up and down. Going up the swashplate, lowered and increased the pitch. Coming down the swashplate raised and decreased the pitch. I moved the right stick forward and back, and the swashplate tilted forward when the stick went forward and tilted to the rear when the stick went back. Viewing the helicopter from behind, I moved the right stick from side to side. When moving it to the left, the swashplate tilted to the left. Moving the stick to the right, the swashplate moved to the right. The instruction manual explains what to do if the movement was as it should be and describes the dip switches and other controls and what they do in detail. For the transitioning pilot this is probably new information.
I am told that with a main rotor diameter of 21.75 inches, a length of 19.1 inches and a height of 6.94 inches and a weight of 12 ounces the SR is classified as a micro helicopter. I will stick with the size as officially being a micro helicopter even though it looks huge next to the E-flite Blade's Ultra-Micro helicopters. Much more important to me then the official size classification is that it has the size, weight and power to be "Large enough to fly (outdoors) even if there's a little wind." We will put that claim to the test in this review.
With coaxial helicopters there is very little involved in preparation for the first flight: Just charge and fly. With collective pitch helicopters, there is a preflight checklist to go through to make sure everything is working properly. Some of those items were covered above in the testing of components.
Before flying and periodically after use, especially after a hard landing or a crash, a visual inspection of the entire helicopter should be made looking to see if the screws, nuts and bolts are all properly in position and tightened. The preflight checking of collective helicopters is a very necessary part of the process of flying. It should never be skipped on the first flight and should be part of a pilot's normal preflight process.
Before flying the SR, I ran a battery pack each through several of my coaxial helicopters including my mCX, my CX3 as well as my mSR. I didn't do just simple lift and hover flights but rather got rather aggressive on my movement of the sticks. I was certain I had my head in the helicopter and was automatically correcting the direction as needed and doing so quickly. I wanted to get my mind up to something like the speed I thought I might need to properly correct and control the SR.
I set the left front toggle switch on the transmitter to the back, 0 position, so that my helicopter's 2-in-1 unit could arm. I set the right front toggle switch in the forward, 1st position to have the dual rate in the low position. I had the left (throttle) stick and trim tab both in the full down positions. I powered up the transmitter, and then connected the battery to the 2-in-1 unit. I placed the canopy back on the SR helicopter and checked that the helicopter's C/G balance was where it should be (even with the main power shaft or just slightly nose down when held there).
I did a short hover flight, landed and adjusted the aileron trim tabs a couple clicks forward and one to the right to correct for drift. On the second flight I performed a forty five second hover. I had to do a lot of right stick movement adjustments, and probably a quarter of them were correcting for minor overcorrections I made. However, I kept the helicopter in a pretty good hover, and I landed where I had started. On flight three, I did the pop up test from a hover to check the helicopter's yaw. I jumped from 2 feet to six feet quickly, and I had no need to adjust the 2-in-1 mixer pot. (This test should not be performed by a newer pilot until the hover has been mastered.) Next, I brought the helicopter up into a hover and watched the color bands on the rotor blades. They were tracking at the same level so they were good to go, no tracking adjustment was necessary. If the blades had been at different levels I would have needed to adjust them so they tracked at the same level. To raise the lower blade I would have lengthened the linkage. To lower the higher blade I would have decreased the tracking height by shortening the linkage. These adjustments are well explained on pages 53 and 54 of the instruction manual, and adjusting the paddle tracking is explained on page 55. This type of preparation is essential for the proper flying of a collective pitch helicopter. Additionally, when parts get broken and replaced these tests for adjustments should be made. (I made these same tests after replacing rotor blades as described below.)
People who start with coaxial helicopters usually enjoy them enough that they want to move up and advance to a helicopter that is more responsive and can be flown outdoors in at least a little breeze. With the Blade mCX and other Ultra-Micro helicopters crashes normally didn't cause any damage to furniture or the helicopter. I found the Blade SR to be a good flyer with muted response that made it easier for me to control and not be subject to overcorrection crashes as my other single rotor helicopters have been for the most part. I concluded that the Blade SR gives a pilot who has mastered flying a coaxial or better still the mSR a good chance of being successful in advancing toward a standard fixed pitch or collective pitch helicopter.
While some pilots are able to transition from coaxial to fixed or collective pitch helicopters very smoothly and avoid breakage from crashes, most of us aren't able to do that. Part of the planning is to expect that there will be crashes and damage as part of the learning curve in advancing your piloting skills with a helicopter. If you have a deep pocket, crashes may not be a financial setback for you and you may want to fly very aggressively if you see continued improvement in your skills. If you have a shallow pocket like most of us, it may be necessary to fly less aggressively to keep your copter in the air longer between repair requirements. Expect that there will be a cost in down time and replacement parts unless you are one of the few that are very lucky.
Be open to information on the forums to see what others are doing and what is working for them and communicate with someone if they appear to have information to your questions, concerns and/or experiences. This is true for all different types of helicopters but is perhaps most important for the pilot who is progressing up from flying coaxial helicopters to single rotor helicopters. There is so much more to learn during this transition. The perfect helicopter for me is most likely not the perfect helicopter for you. There are minor tweaks and changes that can be made to the basic equipment of a helicopter that make it slightly different. This will be learned with experience. Take advantage of the forums to gather and share information. I wish you luck and a fast learning curve as you progress with your flying skills and learning much more about our hobby.
For the first full flight I picked a wide open location outdoors with no wind since it was a calm day. The open space removed any pressure that I might have felt if flying in a confined space, especially for the first flight. At the site, I got out my CX3 coaxial helicopter and had another warm up flight to get my head into the copter so that regardless of what direction the helicopter was going I was correctly controlling it as if I were sitting inside the copter.
For the transition, my second recommendation is to prepare mentally before the first flight. Great golfers picture the shot in their mind before they start the swing. A skier goes through the run mentally before getting into the starting gate. Bill Walsh scripted his first 15 offense plays in a football game. They all get their minds into it before doing it.
I planned what I wanted to accomplish with the first flight before I turned on the equipment. I had already trimmed the helicopter and checked on the blades tracking level and the 2-in-1 mix being good. My first full flight plan was to lift off, climb to about two feet, hover for about 45 seconds, land and repeat this five times. My goal was to be as smooth as I could be on the sticks, making adjustments quickly but in small accurate amounts. If that went well I would fly up into a hover a couple feet off of the ground and fly a slow circle around an area about ten feet in diameter while keeping the helicopter facing away from me. The hover flights went okay except for number 3: I was slow to correct on one movement and raced to get the copter under smooth control which I did but the flight lasted about a minute. The circle flight went better than the hover flights, and I felt in good control giving small but continuous commands to make the circle flight. Time to recharge the battery pack.
Thinking back to my first flights of a fixed pitch helicopter years ago I couldn't keep up with the need for correctional commands at all. My first maneuver was often my last before shut down. The helicopterís correction was so quick that I didn't have time to respond with the next correction. The SR responded quickly to my correction but didn't shoot away in the new direction as my original fixed helicopter did. Admittedly, I am a little faster on the sticks now than I was then but there was definitely more time for me to respond and make the next adjustment/correction as the helicopter was still in the hover area and not half way across the room or park where I was flying. This was still a quick adjustment process but was certainly much more controllable than my first single rotor helicopter had been. Still, I was glad I had done the practice with my CX3 as a warm up flight and that I had "slammed it around" for my warm up.
For the next flight I again positioned the helicopter on the ground facing away from me so that the helicopter's right and left, forward and backward were the same as mine. I had the friend with me stand slightly behind me to my left for safety. Before throttling up I cleared my mind and thought about my mission flight plan of hovering, pirouetting and flying a circle first to the right and then to the left. After several circles I flew a few figure 8s and varied the altitude. In all flights I was constantly flying the helicopter. The SR was never flying itself, it required my continuous input to keep it in control. However, I had time to make the adjustments and corrections without fear of losing control of the SR than I had in most single rotor helicopters I had flown before. The more I flew the SR the more comfortable I became in flying her. In the first 14 battery packs I flew I had a few slightly hard landings, and the tail fin bent almost all the way to the tail rotor on several of them but I had no damage to my SR.
Ken Thomas, a friend who flies an mSR agreed to fly my SR. He had a nice warm up flight with his mSR at the local park on a calm morning. I flew a battery pack through the SR repeating something of the pattern I did on my early flights with a climb, a hover and some side to side flight and then a vertical descent to a landing. Ken flew my Blade SR with some very short initial hops and then some flights lasting about 30 seconds. Ken completed about 10 minutes of flying time in an hour with about 50 minutes of rest between the flights. He agreed that flying his mSR beforehand helped give him confidence as did seeing me fly the SR up into a hover and from side to side. He agreed he had time to recover from his over directing at times but only because he had a lot of open space at the park. He plans to really start challenging himself by flying his mSR more often and more aggressively and will buy his own SR if he doesn't get one for a birthday present.
On battery pack fifteen or sixteen I got a little sloppy and came into land from the right, back side and not from a hover. I had the SR a little too much sideways, and the main rotor blades lightly touched the ground on the tips. I corrected my angle with the right stick, and when it straightened up, I gave a little burst of additional throttle and then eased off the throttle a little more than I intended. The SR climbed a bit, then partially dropped to the concrete in a straight drop down from 9 inches up, bounced and landed hard coming straight down on the front third of the skids, bounced up slightly and landed on the skids and settled. There was no tail strike during this landing.
Both rotor blades frayed at the tips from grazing strikes on concrete. I was surprised by how much they frayed from the 2-3 light strikes per blade. I expected the frame might have been damaged from the bouncing and expected I would need to buy a new skid but neither one had any damage. In fact there was no other damage to my SR. I just needed to replace the main rotor blades. I used the Allen wrench supplied with the SR and removed the one bolt per blade that held the rotor blades in place. I used the spare set of rotor blades that I bought as a precaution. The replacement blades didn't have tracking stripes so I added some with two different colored magic markers. The rotor exchange was quick and easy.
I made my takeoffs vertical. I spooled up the main rotor, lifted off and climbed a couple of feet before I considered flying the SR off in any one direction. If immediate correction was needed it was normally a little forward and right. I was just getting started in lifting off and going into immediate forward flight as the SR lifted off when I damaged the original rotor blades during a landing coming down and sideways rather than from a hover. That "crash" made me a little more cautious in my flying once again since there were limited spare parts available at the time.
Landings made from a hover were straight down and easy as long as I was landing on a level surface. Landing on grass a couple of times, I started to tip a bit as the land was not really level under the grass. Fortunately, coming down vertically I had no problems with my landings. I have made several landings coming in with forward left side flight and flaring slightly to the right and back to stop the directional flight, level out and land. On one such landing onto concrete I ever so lightly grazed the concrete with the tips of the rotor blades and had about 2-3 grazing strikes per blade while correcting as described above and needed to replace the main rotor blades after that less than perfect landing.
For the transitioning pilot, I highly recommend staying with vertical takeoffs and landings intially. I had very good success flying that way using a clear and level surface as my landing pad. I had no problems when I have been climbing into a hover or landing from a hover.
This is a collective pitch helicopter, and as such, is capable of doing rolls and being flown inverted. Thus, aerobatic maneuvers can be performed with this helicopter. Remember that its linkage geometry as well as rate/expo/and throttle curves have been set up and tuned for the transitional pilot to learn the basics of single rotor flight. The blades supplied with the SR are heavier, more narrow and longer than those used on the Blade 400. The rotor head speed is slower than one would expect for a truly aerobatic helicopter. The transitional pilot must fully master the basics of controlling the collective pitch helicopter before venturing into advance aerobatics. Aerobatics should be tried only after mastering the basics of flying the SR. If you do try aerobatics seek the help of an expert helicopter pilot if possible and give yourself some recovery altitude if possible.
NO! This helicopter is promoted as a transitional helicopter for the pilot who has MASTERED (my emphasis) the coaxial helicopter or the mSR and wants to move up from there. I strongly support the program of learning the directional controls for a helicopter on a coaxial helicopter and/or the mSR and recommend the SR RTF only as a second or third helicopter. You really need to already have your head in the helicopter so adjusting the controls for needed correction adjustments is pretty automatic for you to stay ahead of the SR. This helicopter is not self correcting and should not be thought of as either a self flying or first helicopter as it is neither of those. That said I found it a very good transitional helicopter.
Above I listed the "Key Features" as posted on the Horizon Web Site. I felt it appropriate to discuss those features now that I have been flying the SR for awhile. This discussion is aimed for the newer transitional pilot and therefore the experts may find it over simplistic.
1) Brushless motor: Brushed and brushless motors are used to power RC electric helicopters. Brushed motors have wire pickups that wear and cause friction, they are less efficient (use more electricity) than brushless motors. The brushless motor that supplies the power to the main blades worked well and supplied good power to the helicopter. I was able to fly outside in a light breeze. The tail rotor motor is a brushed motor.
2) "A great second heli for anyone who has flown a coaxial or single-rotor fixed-pitch heli." I think this is an excellent next step for pilots wanting to advance from a coaxial helicopter. It is a doable next step but it is a step up with a learning curve for improvement. It takes thought and practice, but it is a good way to advance in my opinion. If the fixed helicopter is the mSR then this is a slightly smaller step in the progression to being a better, more skilled pilot. I have and fly several fixed pitch rotor helicopters that were/are more difficult to fly then the Blade SR. If a person can fly a fixed pitched helicopter they can probably do basic flight with the SR immediately. They can then start to do some more advanced collective pitch aerobatic flying when they feel comfortable with it.
3 & 4) Softer control response around center for transitioning pilots, Includes 6-channel HP6DSM 2.4GHz DSM2 transmitter. While the SR has a lower rotor head speed than some of the other helicopters this size; that and the recommended rotor blades and weighted paddles contributed to the softer response of the helicopter. I believe that much of the softer response around center was due to the programming in the HP6DSM transmitter. For the newer transitioning helicopter pilot I believe it important that the helicopter was sold with the transmitter set up for the desired soft response. Programming can be very confusing, especially for the newer pilot. While many experienced pilots could program a DX7 to work with the helicopter in a similar manner, I believe it was a wise choice to sell this helicopter with the programmed transmitter for the transitioning pilot.
5 & 6) Includes DC Li-Po balancing charger with AC adaptor and 3S 11.1V 1,000mAh Li-Po battery pack. Li-Po power packs are the only way to go with helicopters to supply the power desired at a low battery weight. The included charger was easy to use with the two lights letting me know what was happening. I could charge the pack in my home with the voltage adaptor or from my car battery at the flying field so there was built in versatility. While I have other chargers I like having everything I need in the one box so I can grab it and go fly.
7) Spektrum AR6100e Microlite receiver installed in the helicopter. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time I have used this receiver. I have found this to be an excellent helicopter receiver with good range. I never came close to testing its range in my SR helicopter and I have had no receiver glitches in the course of this review.
8) E-flite G110 Heading Lock Gyro, installed. It arrived with the Gain dial on the gyro (facing the tail rotor on the helicopter) set in the neutral, middle position. It worked very well at keeping the tail locked, perhaps too well as there were a few tail jerks at times. By dialing down the gain I reduced the tail waggles considerably but still had very good lock on the helicopter's directional heading. Adjusting the G110's Gain down in a couple very small increments helped my Blade SR fly even smoother for me while still maintaining the desired headlock function.
9) Direct drive tail motor: For the experienced pilot considering the SR this is perhaps the most controversial component. Many experienced pilots prefer a belt drive system for the tail rotor that is powered from the main motor and is in sync with it. For the newer pilot the electric motor with mixer requires little or no maintenance. That said I felt it was important to simply report on how the direct drive electric cored brushed rotor motor worked in controlling my SR. My SR's tail motor has worked fine during this review process. I did not need to adjust the two in one mixer at all but the instruction manual described how and why one would do that. I did two very small adjustments on the gyro setting as described above. The tail motor on my Blade SR has performed well now through more than 20 battery packs and a couple of slight tail fin strikes. You can see how it works after two hours plus of flight time in the last two videos below. I have been pleased with the performance thus far.
10) Sturdy, shock absorbent two-piece main frame
My hard landing described above under the Oops heading is the only real test I have had of the frames strength and it did fine with that. The frame looks to be well made and if I accidentally test its strength further I will report on that at a future date.
11) Full line of replacement and optional parts available for purchase. As stated above I started by ordering some spare parts for my SR before I even had the helicopter. I got spare fly bars, main rotor blades and a second battery pack. I will no longer buy a helicopter that doesn't have a complete line of replacement parts available for it. I have a couple of older off brand helicopters on a shelf with one or two small broken parts for which there aren't any replacement parts. I have no such problem with my E-flite helicopters. Unfortunately, breaking parts is part of the learning process in flying helicopters. Best to buy a helicopter where all the parts are readily available. Four examples of available parts below.
12) 100% factory-assembled, test-flown and ready to fly. I have always found I got confidence in knowing a more experienced pilot could fly my helicopter. Today there are videos available of most models so we can see them fly before we buy. Still I like knowing that my copter was flown before being shipped. It worked and the set up should be reasonably accurate if it could be flown at the factory. I have no information if any fail to fly or what they do to adjust troublesome helicopters but it gave me confidence in my SR and I was able to fly mine right out of the box as described above.
I have over 6 hours flying time on my Blade SR in the course of doing this review. Ken Thomas has about fifteen minutes of flying time as a transitioning pilot. Two other pilots ready to transition have had short flights on my SR and Jeff Hunter, a skilled pilot, has about ten minutes. The Blade SR is still in great flying shape! I have toned down the gyro just slightly from its initial setting and the tail holding remains excellent with only a minimal amount of tail wagging as seen on the videos. I have had to replace the main blades once so far for reasons described above. They are the only things replaced or that needed replacing on the SR. I and Ken have had a few minor tail strikes without breaking the tail boom or the tail rotor or even damaging them. I flew the SR from the get go and did well in large spaces and worked my way down to smaller spaces. Ken flew his first few short transitioning flights at a park and wants more time on his mSR and then plans to get his own SR. Jeff Hunter flew it like the skilled pilot he is and wants one for flying in his yard. My experience has been very favorable and everyone who has flown it wants to get their own Blade SR.
My initial flights were outdoors in calm conditions. During the course of testing I have flown in a steady five an hour breeze, and eight MPH breeze and finally a ten MPH with gusts to twelve. The five MPH breeze was no problem. The ten MPH was controllable but I was glad I had flown the SR quite a bit before flying in the stronger breeze as the gusts caught the SR just a little a couple of times.
I think that the Blade SR hit the mark for its intended target, the transitioning helicopter pilot. I like the Blade SR as set up and with the transmitter set up as supplied. I know that a number of experience pilots have asked for a Bind N Fly version but I would prefer E-flite come out with a new helicopter incorporating this frame and a brushless motor and perhaps even a brushless tail motor in a new helicopter for the advanced intermediate to expert pilot. The transitioning pilot can advance with the Blade SR but the more advanced pilot should be offered something more to their skill level right out of the box and then the advanced pilot can make changes from there. I plan to keep my Blade SR as a transitional helicopter. I have a lot of room for further improvement in my flying skills and I believe the Blade SR will help me to advance my skills for months to come. At its price I think the Blade SR is a good choice for the pilot looking to transition from coaxial or the mSR to a collective pitch helicopter. There will be more learning and adjusting with the next fixed or collective helicopter after the Blade SR. However, the SR offers a great chance for a successful transition to a single rotor helicopter from a coaxial helicopter.
When using a Spektrum AR6100 or AR6100e receiver with an E-flite G110 (Both are used in the SR), the gyro may not initialize during startup. A bulletin dealing with this potential problem has been issued on this matter and can be read by click on the following link: http://www.horizonhobby.com/ProdInfo/Files/SPMAR6110_Service_BulletinHR.pdf
My thanks to Ken, Jeff and Angela for their help with this review and in the editing process.Last edited by Angela H; Jun 05, 2010 at 07:14 AM..
|Jun 04, 2010, 10:06 PM|
Great review! I was one of the early adopters of the Blade SR. While it flew great, I had a lot of problems with orientation... so much so that I had a very expensive crash the 2nd day I had it. I was down for two weeks waiting for parts, and the cost of the parts was over $100 to repair. Once I got it fixed, I tried flying it again and lost orientation again. Luckily I didn't crash it that time so I sold it. I have a Blade 400, a T-Rex 500, and a Blade mSR that I don't have a problem with... not sure what was up with me and the SR.
Regardless, it's a great flying heli; just wasn't for me.
|Jun 05, 2010, 04:58 AM|
Like the review,would also like to see more video. Full flights and especially some of the flying in 10 mph wind with gusts. I bought one when they first came out to mess around with,having flown the original blade cp the brushless motor and gyro really improved flight over the original but more aggressive flying seemed held back a bit with the toned down radio setting for me. The frame,new main gear,new mainshaft,longer heavier blades etc do make this blade a much different model then the original and it does fly much smoother and seemed a lot more stable then the original. The controls are toned down and the cyclic seemed a bit restricted in movment for loops and rolls but i guess a more experienced heli pilot could do them no problem with the stock radio and no changes to the heli. I ended up letting a buddy whos trying to learn to fly helis try it.. that was the real test. He had my old blade cp and had difficulty just hovering it and gave up after many repairs and crashes and the cp has sat for atleast a year. He hovered the blade sr really well and smooth with good control the first time i let him try it with training gear and a little coaching. He has it now and has crashed it a few times but his biggest problem has been windy conditions.. but that can be difficult for any pilot and especially a learning cp heli pilot. He's only tryed to fly helis with the blade cp and now the sr and can fly planes fine but has been practicing with a sim for helis after he gave up with the cp. This is my first flight with it,i trimmed it out in the back yard the day before a little but the yard is kind of small for me with a heli so i took it to the park the next morning. I thought it flew pretty nice for a small heli with a direct drive tail and the toned down controls,it doesnt fly as well as a 450 or anything but should be good for the pilots its intended for and is pretty stable and docile on the controls compared to previous cp helis from e-flite.
|Jun 05, 2010, 12:08 PM|
Going off to work in a few minutes. I will get a video of me flying the SR as described linked to this review when I get a chance. Will have to check to see if I burned any videos of me to disk or simply deleted and need to reshoot. I simply posted the videos I thought were the most interesting and Jeff is definitely a better demo pilot then myself when it comes to helicopters especially. Trying to wrap up some other reviews right now in my "spare time." Mike Heer
|Jun 05, 2010, 12:17 PM|
The use of training gear would help prevent the comment " Main rotor blades wore very quickly when touching concrete while spinning " beeing in the minuses. IMO it is not a "minus" on the heli.
A video showing how training gear help prevent the heli tip over on bad landing would make people realize that this very usefull tool is a must have to learn flying helis (protects both the heli and the wallet ).
|Jun 05, 2010, 12:25 PM|
I have that rotors shredding in both the plus and the minus sections. Plus as it saved the rest of the helicopter from any damage. Minus because I needed to replace the main rotors with the spares I had. As for the training gear I did mention it. I couldn't review it as it was not available at the time I wrote this review. I will check back tonight for any additional comments. Have a great day and thanks for checking out this review. Mike H
|Jun 05, 2010, 02:08 PM|
Joined Jan 2009
Excellent as always, MH.
Have you data on the 5-flight tailmotors that plagued early releases? Seemed to correlate with a particular motor datecode, which we might assume has been used up or purged from inventory, since you didn't encounter the problem.
I still differ with the decision to sell as RTF only, with the transmitter jiggered. A single page in the instructions could have listed the same rate and expo values for programming into DX-series transmitters. And the decision betrayed the BNF concept which Eflite pioneered.
I can see the logic, that a transitional pilot is not likely to own a DX and no fixed controller could substitute. Guess I'm weird, being a transitional pilot who DOES own a DX.
|Jun 05, 2010, 02:56 PM|
Joined Apr 2001
my opinion about this heli is the same as when it just came out; a solution looking for a problem.
If you can fly the msr get the blade 400 and save your money paying for a "once use" transmitter and battery pack you also have no further use for.
The blade 400 with proper tuning like expo can be made as tame as this one and allouw you to grow more.
|Jun 05, 2010, 03:00 PM|
Joined Apr 2001
btw any rotorblade that hits concrete needs to be replaced or can fail a next flight.
Even shiny carbon blades would be ready for the bin.
Wood is good enough and cheap while saving more expensive parts from damage.
|Jun 05, 2010, 03:03 PM|
Chicago Northwest subs
Joined Jan 2007
Nice review, Mike. It was a great idea to let some transitioning pilots try it, since that's the intended end user. My issue with this heli is availability. I saw it at my LHS a couple months ago, and was interested, but didn't pull the trigger. Now Horizon's site shows a July delivery. I've been waiting a long time. I'd assume people waiting for parts are even more torqued about than I am, since the only thing worse than no heli to fly is a heli that doesn't fly! I've already got a belt driven tail kit waiting to go on one. Oh well, good thing come to those who wait!
|Jun 05, 2010, 05:10 PM|
This is a very nice review. I just purchased my Sr two days ago and so far I love it. I too have transitioned from coaxial to MSR to the SR. In my opinion the MSR has been one of the most fun birds I've flown. I also own a DX7 and even though I don't fault E-Flyte for selling this bird as a RTF I believe that a one page settings list in the owners manual would have been nice. That way pilots without DX radios could use the included radio and those with DX's could be all set up to transition to collective pitch with a radio they are used to. I have only flown Blade heli's and so far I'm satisfied but being more customer aware would help.
|Jun 05, 2010, 10:25 PM|
Very well written review.
I got the SR about a month ago. I like it and it flys very well. The tail is ok for sport flying and very mild 3D and thats what this heli was design for. The stock radio setting makes it hard to fly in normal mode with any wind . In idle up wind isnt much of an issues. The SR really comes alive and fly really well when hooked up to a better more adjustable radio. So once you have mastered th eSR with the stock radio try it hooked up to a dx6i or dx7. It really makes it fly better
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