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Heli-Max Novus UH-1D Huey Coaxial Helicopter RTF Review

Michael Heer reviews this very detailed Huey nano-sized coxial helicopter that comes with two flight batteries and has navigation lights. A full four channel helicopter with 2.4GHz radio system for interference free operation.

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Introduction


Rotorspan:7.7 inches
Weight:2.75 oz. w/ battery
Length:8.25 inches
Height:4.8 inches
Width:1.95 inches
Transmitter:4 channel 2.4GHz with dual rates and digital trim
Battery:(2) 3.7V 600mAh LiPo
Motors:Two brushed motors for the main rotors
Tail motor:Small brushed motor for appearance not control
Manufacturer:Heli-Max
Available From:Fine hobby stores everywhere
Price:$149.99

Heli-Max has a new addition to their Novus line of nano-sized helicopters, the UH-1D Huey coaxial RTF helicopter. It comes with two Lipo flight batteries, and the only items I needed to supply were the 8 AA Alkaline batteries for the transmitter. The detail on the body looks very good with body lines and rivets clearly visible with nice markings and even two navigation lights on the helicopter. The Huey arrived the day before my wife and I took a road trip to Oregon, and I decided to start the review on the road. This allowed me to fly it at some very interesting locations and I will share those experiences in the flight section. I can tell you that this is a fun little helicopter, and it does behave differently if the transmitter is set to low or high rates on the controls. The Huey has a working tail rotor that adds to the realism of its appearance in flight but is not part of the Huey's control system. Although it turns it does not push air to either side.

Kit Contents

Kit Includes

  • Novus RTF UH-1D coaxial Huey helicopter
  • Heli-Max 4 channel 2.4GHz transmitter with dual rates and digital trim
  • (2) 3.7V 600mAh battery LiPo packs
  • Wall charger for flight battery packs
  • Full set of replacement main blades and one tail blade.

Reviewer Supplied

  • 8 AA Alkaline batteries for the transmitter
  • Small 00 Phillips screwdriver

Features

Heli-Max has listed some nice features for the Huey on their website including a detailed cockpit, panel lines, scale color trim scheme, jet exhaust locations and scale looking rivets. The side doors open for access to the Huey interior and there is even a small tail motor to spin the tail rotor for a more realistic appearance in flight. Navigation lights are included which aid in night sorties around the family room or if flying outside on a calm night. A single switch on the transmitter let me take the helicopter from smooth stable flight on low rates to its maximum maneuverability on high rates. I will definitely be reporting more on the dual rates in the flight section of this review. Also to be flight tested is the heading hold gyro on the helicopter. So the Huey's special features included some for appearance and some for control function.

Assembly

The Huey arrived fully assembled and ready to fly. I only had to charge a flight battery and install my 8 AA Alkaline batteries into the transmitter. I installed the flight battery under the helicopter and the Huey was ready for binding and flight testing. I want to note that there was good room for the battery, wires and connectors in the battery box. Installing and removing the battery was easy to do yet the battery had no space to move during operation. It was easy to switch to the second battery. I was very glad to have a second battery ready to use, especially while on vacation.

Binding

Binding between helicopter and transmitter was done at the start of every flight. The battery was always connected on the helicopter before turning on the transmitter. After installing the battery in the helicopter I simply set the helicopter upright on a flat surface and then turned on the transmitter. The transmitter emitted a tone, and the illuminated trim tab location markers flashed in sequence to show the binding process had started. The instructions said that it was important not to touch the sticks on the transmitter during the binding/powering up process. On one power up I was impatient (even though the binding process was quick), and I moved the right stick during power up. My control of the helicopter was not at all normal in the flight that followed. When I kept hands off the transmitter's sticks during the power up process it always flew fine for me with proportional control in all directions. The navigation lights on the helicopter and the previously mentioned illuminated trim tabs on the transmitter let me know while it was binding/powering up and when it was ready to fly. After the one mistake of moving a transmitter stick during the start up process; I intentionally touched the sticks during two more power up processes, and on both occasions I had little or no direction control to the left side and my helicopter wanted to fly backwards in the normal neutral stick position. When I was patient and let it bind properly with no touching of the sticks during the binding process the control in all directions was as it should be. Simple solution: Have the helicopter on a flat surface in its normal upright position when turning on the transmitter, and don't touch anything on the transmitter besides the on/off switch until the powering up process is complete.

Completion

Except for batteries, the transmitter arrived completely ready to use. No programming was necessary. However, the transmitter does have some programming changes available including servo reversing. This was fully explained in the manual.

The Huey has a gain adjustment that can be moved to increase or decrease gain as needed for tail control. I found mine to have good head locking and very little excess tail movement so I found no need to adjust the gain on the helicopter. The instruction manual clearly showed where and how to make the adjustments if it had been necessary.

For the newer pilot the instruction manual has some good instructions explaining the basic flight controls that were well explained. The instruction manual can be viewed on the Heli-Max website and a written copy came with the Huey. There are a full set of replacement parts listed in the manual that can be ordered from Heli-Max so repairing and getting the Huey back in the air should be easy to do.

Flying

Basics

The Huey has four channel control. The left stick, the collective, controls throttle and rudder. It turns the helicopter in place in either direction very well. Turning quickly in a circle, making a pirouette, requires throttle adjustment as making a left pirouette will cause the Huey to climb without adjustment while a right pirouette will cause the Huey to drop. This is true of all coaxial helicopters that I have flown but the Huey was particularly sensitive in doing them on High rate. The right stick, the cyclic stick, controls forward and backward flight as well as side to side flight. There was also a dual rate switch for high and low rates located on the upper right front of the transmitter. Heli-Max recommended that I first fly with the dual rate switch in the low rate position. I did that and I agree with that recommendation.

My first flight was done in the Columbia River Gorge in the parking lot in front of the Latourell waterfall early in the morning. It was calm, and I initially had the place to myself. I powered up the Huey properly as described above and had a very nice controlled flight in the low rate mode. I directed the Huey straight up about three feet off of the ground and put her in a very nice hover. I went hands off for about five seconds and then had to correct for a bit of drift. She performed nice pirouettes to the right and to the left. I finished my first flight by doing some small and then large figure eights. I landed and powered down the Huey and as I was alone I waited for another tourist to get some help in taking a picture of the Huey with the waterfall in the background.

After a wait of about ten minutes, a couple arrived and the man agreed to take a couple of pictures of the helicopter before they started their hike. It was during this power up that I moved a stick as discussed above and my next flight was a bit out of control as the Huey wanted to fly backwards and not fly to the left. Throttle and rudder were fortunately normal. I took off and learned my Huey was not performing as it had the flight before and at that point I didn't know why it was behaving differently. I was able to line the helicopter up with the waterfall and the stranger was able to get some pictures. One of those pictures is posted below. The couple was anxious to get on with their hike and get away from the crazy guy with the helicopter. After they left I figured out the problem was with my movement of the stick during the powering up process. Powering up properly I had another nice flight by myself in the parking lot.

The next flights took place at Silcox Hut up on Mt Hood. We got to the hut in a snow cat and the altitude was just above 7,000 feet. It was far too windy to try and fly outside so I was limited to several flights in the hut itself. The Huey had no trouble flying indoors at 7,000 feet. Its ability to climb and fly seemed the same as it had been down near sea level. I had no problem flying inside the lodge. I did have some trouble however landing the Huey in the lodge. After a landing on the edge of the table the Huey hopped backward and fell to the stone floor and an upper blade was broken. Fortunately, they include spare replacement blades. Unfortunately, the included plastic screwdriver did not fit the Phillips screw that held the blade in place. Repair was quick and easy the next day when I got back to Portland and my gear that included a 00 size Phillips screwdriver. The Huey flew as good as new with the one broken blade replaced.

Motorized tail rotor

The Huey has a motorized tail rotor that is motorized for appearance purposes only. It only turns in one direction and its speed is somewhat controlled by the throttle stick. Its performance was only for cosmetic purposes. Although it only turns in one direction it is not at all fan like and I didn't feel any air movement to either side from its operation. It did add to the appearance of realism to have the tail rotor spinning in flight and seeing the color bars make a circular pattern as the tail blade spun.

Flight and Charge Times

Flight times depended on how aggressively I operated the throttle. Indoors I got about ten minutes of in air flight time from a fully charged battery. Outdoors and flying aggressively I got at least eight minutes of flight time from a fully charged battery. The helicopter had very good power for most of the battery but sometimes showed it was weakening when down to the last two minutes of operation. That might not be noticed when flying using low rate and flying smoothly but the difference could be seen on high rate while flying aggressively. Charge time for a full charge of a very used battery was a full hour plus a few minutes on most of my charges. A very acceptable charge was available after 50 minutes of charging for a very depleted battery.

Taking Off and Landing

I powered up and climbed to at least a foot and a half or more off the ground or table and the Huey was out of the ground effect of its own prop-wash. It was very easy to climb straight up and into a hover. Landings were best performed by hovering over the intended landing zone and powering down. If I descended too quickly there was often a hop on the landing and the helicopter frequently hopped backward when it hopped. I learned to plan accordingly to avoid hopping off of tables after my experience at the Silcox Hut described above. With soft landings there was no hop but if I made the speed reduction too slow the Huey could start to travel sideways due to the ground effect of its propwash.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Being a coaxial helicopter the Huey was designed for stability and not for aerobatics. With the dual rate switch in the low setting flight was easy to keep controlled by only moving one stick at a time, one direction at a time. The Huey would respond smoothly to the commands thus given. Given multiple commands at the same time, the Huey would develop some tilt and more speed in directional travel was possible. For example: Given commands of increased throttle (climb) and forward with the right stick, a forward tilt would often be created and the Huey would travel forward (and up) more quickly because of the tilt and climb commands being given at the same time. When I eased off of the throttle slightly the climb stopped but often the forward speed would remain up for awhile. Make a good left stick turn command and the Huey could tilt a bit in that direction and speed in that direction would be increased briefly.

The Huey was even more responsive and quicker in directional travel on the high rate setting of the dual rate switch. Using high rate, maneuvers could be performed more quickly, and the helicopter could more easily be moved into a tilt and an even greater tilt was possible than on low rates. If given a command to travel in the direction of the tilt the Huey would travel much more quickly than if just commended to go in a direction from level flight. That added excitement to the flying of the Huey. Start with the low rate and the Huey was a nice flying helicopter with good stability and control. At high rate it traveled faster and turns could often be made a little sharper as well. Flying was more exciting and fun for me on high rates.

With the dual rate switch on the high setting I found that if I tried to fly overly aggressively, going from a full climb to a turn and rapid descent; I could get too much flex in the rotor blades. I could cause the lower blades to strike the upper blades. Such blade strikes are possible with the Huey and can lead to a crash. I have only had a couple of blade strikes and The Huey was on high rate and responding to climb/descend commands from my rapid stick movements. Flying in a more controlled fashion (Avoiding rapid climb followed by rapid descent.) I could avoid blades strikes completely.

New Helimax Heli Pitch Gauge

Heli-max has a new rotor heli pitch gauge and I just got one to review and test out. While not needed nor designed for the Novus line of nano-size helicopters I thought it worth mentioning for those of you with helicopters with main rotor blade sizes from 425 mm to 710 mm in length. It has an overall range of 30 degrees and helps the pilot set the proper pitch adjustment for the main rotor blades. It seemed pretty durable and has proven easy to use with my larger helicopters. If you don't currently have a pitch gauge and need one, check this one out when it becomes available later this summer. Its a nice addition to my heli tool box, and I no longer have to borrow from a friend or try to eye ball the blades for their pitch adjustment. The part number for the pitch gauge is HMXR4852.

Is This For a Beginner?

YES! This coaxial nano-size helicopter makes a very nice first helicopter. The coaxial blades made it a naturally stable helicopter with the dual rate switch in the low rate position. A pilot who is just learning and getting their head inside the helicopter should be successful with a little self-control on the sticks while in low rate. I do not recommend the true beginner use the high rate mode until they have the helicopter under their complete control in the low rate mode. I recommend the beginner walk (low rates) before they start to run (high rates).

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

This new UH-1D Huey nano-sized coaxial helicopter has proven to be a helicopter with both good looks and good performance. The panel lines, trim scheme and details added to the enjoyment of watching the Huey in flight. The spinning tail rotor especially added to the appearance of the Huey in flight. With the controls in low rate the coaxial blades and the heading hold gyro made the Huey a smooth and easy to control helicopter especially with small stick movements. In high rate setting and full stick movements that Huey became a rather aggressive coaxial helicopter in flight movement as to both speed and changing of direction. I like to fly the Huey in high rate mode and rather aggressively over my lawn in calm conditions. I no longer make rapid full stick changes between climbs and descents as that manuever caused the blade strikes discussed above. Other than that limitation I do like to stir the sticks at times.

Pluses:

  • Nice detail with panel lines and rivets
  • Scale trim markings and nice cockpit detail
  • Moving tail rotor and navigation lights
  • 2.4GHz radio control
  • Nice movement for a coaxial helicopter
  • Two flight batteries were included

Minuses:

  • Because of small size there is a battery box on the bottom of the helicopter that is not at all scale.

My thanks to Rich "Radar" Fixott and Dick Andersen for their help shooting pictures and video for this review and our editor Angela for her assistance as always. Finally, my thanks to Heli-max for the opportunity to review this nice new addition to their Novus line.

Last edited by Michael Heer; Jun 23, 2010 at 02:00 AM..

Discussion

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Old Jun 27, 2010, 01:55 AM
North East England
Joined Feb 2004
3,181 Posts
Nice review. Seems to be a fine-flying model and the cockpit detail looks great. All of my small co-axials are 3 ch so I'll be buying something like this just to fly 4ch.

Pity about the un-scale battery holder but at this size you can't have everything.
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Old Jun 27, 2010, 09:46 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,601 Posts
After awhile I don't really notice the battery box. I flew in calm 100 degree conditions outside this afternoon. Only flew one battery but it handled the warm weather fine. Better then I was. Mike H
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Old Jun 28, 2010, 02:29 PM
Doing it in the Lateral Axis
modfly's Avatar
USA, OH, Akron
Joined Dec 2006
15,360 Posts
I like it. That tail rotor is trick. I have a scale Black Hawk body on my EF-CX but the static tail rotor is a buzz kill for me.
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Old Jun 28, 2010, 06:28 PM
I'm FAMOUS
Joined Mar 2010
5,108 Posts
I like it, including the extra rotors, and the big belly!

Other things exist to accurately represent this model, and this one's got a slight compromise or two for fun's sake.

Stuff like this- realistic stuff that's built on a base of proven, or relatively proven components, is what may one day lure me away from my 3-channel preference.
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Old Jul 13, 2010, 02:15 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,601 Posts
Had a calm time after sunset but while it was still light enough to fly. Great time flying the little huey in and out of the bushes. Mike H
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Old Jul 13, 2010, 11:08 PM
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Joined Jan 2002
104 Posts
Wow...I just saw this little fella at the local HT this weekend - glad to hear it flys as well as it looks! Great review Mike and cool vacation too!

BTW...the photo at the waterfall is the cats pajamas!
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Old Jul 16, 2010, 12:49 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,601 Posts
Flew it out in the sun this afternon when it was 100 degrees in the shade. Motors only got a bit warm after seven minutes of flying while I felt a lot warm. The Huey handled the flight very well. I was sweeping the grass and not doing a lot of hovering. Anyway it handled the heat well. I stopped after one battery pack but it was a fun flight of eight minutes.
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Old Jul 19, 2010, 03:19 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,601 Posts
Is anyone else flying one of these yet? Mike H
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Old Jul 19, 2010, 07:52 PM
I am the 53%
Bullitt3309's Avatar
San Antonio TX
Joined Mar 2008
184 Posts
haven't seen one here yet...
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Old Oct 18, 2010, 12:07 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,601 Posts
Tower Hobby now has this helicopter on sale with a good discount. If you have any coupons you can use ou might save even more. Mike H
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Old Dec 20, 2010, 03:16 PM
Lt. Jim
Granger Iowa
Joined Dec 2010
2 Posts
My girl friend has bought this Huey for me for Christmas. It is too cool !!! I've flown R/C scale aircraft for years but never helicopters. I was getting used to the controls yesterday and like I said, very cool ! For those who have been to Viet Nam and rode into a LZ on a Huey, I swear I could hear "Gimme Shelter" after I was able to lift off and fly forward. I've taken off the decals and have applied the !st. Cav. and modified the crossed sabers for those of the 2/12.
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Old Dec 20, 2010, 04:21 PM
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Old Blade Man's Avatar
USA, FL, East Central
Joined Aug 2007
651 Posts
Lt. Jim........would love to see some pics of your heli with Cav and 2/12 decals.
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Old Dec 21, 2010, 11:33 AM
Lt. Jim
Granger Iowa
Joined Dec 2010
2 Posts
Hello Old Blade. The decals are easy. The orginal ones come off fairly easy with WD-40, and use a rel small pair of tweesers, then clean the surface with alcohol. You can get the 1/72 scale Huey decals from, www.fireballmodels.info or fireball@josephosborn.org. I need to get a 00 phillips head screwdriver and find a way to get the sides off. I'd like to paint the faces of the pilots. I can get the doors off but for now I'm going to leave it as is. I'm some what computer challenged. But, I'll see about the photos. Were you 2/12 ? When ?
Getting bck to the flying, it's cool. I'm used to R/C aircraft but this is great fun.
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Old Feb 16, 2011, 06:31 PM
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bigednyc's Avatar
n.y.c l.e.s
Joined Jun 2009
40 Posts
to the right to the right

heys guys got a problem or maybe not a real problem since iam new at this. okay the thing is that when the heli is at least 2-3 feet off the floor it pulls the right i straighten it then it goes back i tried putting more positive left on the controller but still. and it is balanced as well. so please help sgould i keep putting more positive to the left or do something else
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