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Force RC Combat RTF Heli Review

Combat helis? Yes sir! Force RC has declared war with their new line of micro combat helicopters. Let the battle begin!

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Introduction

Force RC - Combat RTF Helis

Rotor Diameter:
7.5 in (190mm)
Length:7.9 in (200mm)
Weight:1.1 oz (32g)
Battery:E-Flite 1S 3.7V 120mAh Li-Po
Manufacturer:Force RC
Available From:Horizon Hobby
Price:$139.99

Let's get straight to the point. What's not to love about shooting your flying buddy down? Seriously, we all have that urge to combat buried deep down (OK, maybe not so deep) in our psyche. Whether it is glow-powered streamer combat or shredding foamies in some backyard duels-to-the-death, we've all witnessed the fun that can be had doing RC combat.

Have you noticed something, though? Helicopters haven't really been included in RC combat. In years past, helicopters have been big and dangerous, and they didn't really lend themselves to any productive form of combat. All that has changed now that we have these neat little coaxial helicopters.

Horizon Hobby has launched a new brand called Force RC. The slogan says it all: "Let the battle begin!" Anchoring the Force RC lineup are the MH-35 and FHX helicopters. These micro, coaxial helicopters are very similar in size and performance to the insanely popular Blade mCX helicopters. The built-in stability of these tiny choppers make them excellent for first-time heli pilots. As if they weren't exciting enough, the new battle module allows air-to-air combat with other Force helis. Now you can make your flying buddy put his money where his mouth is. Enough talking...let the combat begin!

Kit Contents

The Force combat helis come ready to fly right out of the box. Everything is included, even the batteries. Here's what you get in the box:

  • MH-35 or FHX helicopter equipped with IR Combat Unit
  • DSM2 combat transmitter
  • 120mAh 1S 3.7V 14C Li-Po battery
  • Four AA batteries (for the transmitter)
  • Screwdriver and replacement servo retainers
  • Detailed instruction manual

Combat Features

So what exactly makes these little helis "combat-ready"? There are actually several features that turn an otherwise tame-looking helicopter into a weapon of mass...umm...entertainment!

I'm sure you're asking how can we have combat without guns, right? Well, that's where the IR (infrared) combat module comes in. This device is attached below the aircraft between the skids. There are two parts to the module, a sensor and a transmitter. The sensor resides underneath the protective plastic dome, and it receives the incoming IR blast from your opponent. The black horn on the front of the unit is the transmitter. This is the business-end of the unit since it directs those lethal IR blasts toward your target.

So what happens when you get hit? That's where the Visual Damage Assessment System (VDAS) comes in. VDAS is what happens on the receiving end of a gun fight between these little helis. The LED beneath the helipcopter is located on the IR combat module. This light will blink when you receive a hit from an opponent. On the first hit, the helicopter will do one quick spin and return to normal flight. The second hit will cause two spins, one in each direction. On the third hit, the helicopter will start to spin slowly as the throttle is slightly reduced, forcing you to land. After you are grounded from the third hit your helicopter will reset the combat module after 10-15 seconds and will allow you to take back off with normal control. When you feel that hits are becoming too easy, you can adjust the range of the combat module to a reduced distance. The instruction manual gives details on how to reduce the range.

These combat helicopters give you and your friends a great "team building" experience. Teams can be set up ranging from two helicopters to the insane fury of six or more helicopters! Team choices are red, blue, and the "rogue" team of green. When on the green team, you can hit and be hit by any other team. Setting up teams is accomplished by entering programming mode on your transmitter. Refer to the instruction manual to save yourself a headache. For a quick look at some of the battle scenarios that are possible, see the Force RC website.

If you are just getting started and don't have teammates or opponents you can always start with some air-to-ground combat with the optional ground target. Force RC gives you a chance to hone your skills before you enter the battle. Once you have opponents on hand, the target can be selected to certain teams by pushing the black button on the top of the target. Choose red, blue, or green depending on who you allow to hit the target. This can prevent friendly fire from hitting your own target. The sequence of hits to the ground target result in the LED on the target flashing and an explosion sound with each hit. The third hit gives a triple explosion and disables the target for 10 seconds. Multiple ground targets can be used for larger battles. This can give a "capture the flag" type game which is rather fun. The target is powered by 3 AA batteries that are included in the box. These will power the ground target for approximately 4 hours of use. An optional AC power supply is available as well.

The ground target has a separate instruction manual.

When joining into multiplayer combat, having a customized helicopter is key in knowing which one is yours. Force RC offers an additional body for the FHX and the MH-35. This will allow you to have two different colors of each scheme, the Carbon Brotherhood and the Allied Defense. To expand your creativity further, there is a decal sheet included in the box with some neat add-ons.

Both FHX and MH-35 helicopters offer a beginner mode for new pilots. Force RC calls this the SimpliFly mode. When enabled the helicopter does not take input on the aileron channel. This means when you move the right stick of the transmitter left and right nothing happens. In this mode the helicopter is almost impossible to get into a steep bank that could send an novice pilot to the floor to retrieve the helicopter. SimpliFly forces you to make turns with the left stick on the rudder channel. While these turns are slower, they are much more controllable for a newbie. While in combat the SimpliFly mode helps to maintain stability while being shot down. The default setting is SimpliFly OFF.

Assembly

Both the MH-35 and FHX are completely assembled and ready for combat fun. Inserting the AA batteries into the transmitter only takes a few seconds. Once the Li-Po battery is charged, it simply attaches underneath the helicopter into the battery tray.

The instruction manual is very informative. It is filled with plenty of pictures and diagrams describing how to fly as well as how to program your helicopter. Give it a good read before attempting to fly just to make sure you didn't miss something.

If you'd like to take a look for yourself, go download a copy of the instruction manual.

Radio Details

The transmitter is 2.4GHz DSM-2 and built for combat. Notice the cool "video game-style" triggers. These are what makes the combat part of your helicopter come alive. There are two triggers on the back side of the transmitter conveniently positioned under your index fingers. Both triggers have the same function, to fire the IR combat module. So whichever triggers is more naturally positioned for you while maintaining flight will quickly become your natural "trigger finger". When either trigger is pulled you will hear an audible gun shot sequence "Tat tat tat" coming from the speaker on the face of the transmitter. At the same time you will notice that the helicopter will flash the LED on the combat module. This will notify you, and your adversary, that you are firing your gun!

The transmitter is powered by the four AA batteries that are included in the box. Once installed the transmitter is ready to charge the helicopter flight battery. Notice that it has a charging port built into the left handle. This charging port is keyed so the battery can only be inserted correctly (label side up). Inserting the flight battery into the port will begin the charging process. Once the battery is connected the LED on the bottom of the transmitter will light up to notify that charging has begun. This is not the light that is on the face of the transmitter that comes on when you power it on. The transmitter power does not need to be on while charging the flight battery. Another cool fact, you can actually charge one flight battery while you fly with a second flight battery. Charge times are normally around 20 minutes. During the charge cycle the LED will be on constantly. When the charging cycle nears an end the LED will start to flash. When charging is complete the LED will blink once every 20 seconds. If the LED continues to flash after the flight battery is removed then your transmitter batteries are low and need to be replaced.

Both helicopters use the popular 120mAh Li-Po battery. This is the same flight battery as the Blade mCX and mSR. If you have extra batteries from these aircraft already then you are in luck!

Flying

Now that your flight battery is charged, it's combat time! Turn on your transmitter and then plug up the Li-Po battery. The instruction manual recommends setting the helicopter down or hold it still until the LED goes solid, which is notification that the ESC is armed and the gryos are calibrated. Now slide the battery into the holder between the skids and the combat module. For starters, you might want to begin flying in the SimpliFly mode to keep yourself from over-controlling. Refer to page 8 of the manual to activate this mode. While in SimpliFly mode the power LED on the transmitter will blink. When in standard mode the LED is constantly on.

Expect 8-10 minutes of flight with the standard 120mAh Li-Po battery. When the battery is depleted the helicopter will respond with a reduction of throttle. When you notice the helicopter won't stay aloft then it is time to charge that flight battery. If you are in combat and your helicopter keeps descending to the ground while spinning, then most likely you have become a target for a friend. There is an optional 150mAh Li-Po battery that can be purchased to achieve longer flight times.

Basics

First of all, since the Force helis only weigh an ounce, they need to be flown indoors. Outdoor flying is possible in only calm winds. Believe it or not, the breeze from your heating/cooling system can be enough to make precision landings tricky. The slightest breeze can cause the heli to drift more than you'd like.

Takeoff and Landing

Takeoffs with the Force helis are simply a matter of pushing the throttle stick up enough to make the helicopter lift off. You should need about half-throttle to achieve a gentle climb. It is recommended to keep the helicopter about 1 foot above the ground to get used to how it handles control inputs. This is a good height to begin maneuvering through turns, patterns, and returning to a hover. Once familiar with the controls try climbing to any safe altitude within the confines of your flying area. A very important thing to remember is if your helicopter rotors begin to hit something (i.e. wall, ceiling, another helicopter), reduce throttle immediately to zero. This will minimize damage to the rotor assembly.

Landings are just as easy as the takeoffs if you take your time. The key thing to remember is to make gentle reductions in throttle so that your landing approach is nice and controlled. Reducing the throttle too quickly will cause the heli to drop suddenly and you may not have the altitude or power to recover before hitting the ground. As you get within an inch or so of your landing target, adjust your power to slow your descent. As the skids make contact, reduce your throttle to zero. Wasn't that easy?

Combat Flying

Remember that there are several teaming scenarios with the Force RC Combat Helicopters. Ranging from from solo combat with a ground target to a variety of one-on-one scenarios and then stepping up to teams with several players, the excitement builds as you add complexity to your battles. Multiple helicopters in a small area increases the odds of mid-air collisions and demands more pilot attention. Not only do you have to avoid collisions, now you have to avoid gun fire as well. Add the task of shooting your opponents down and now you have your hands full. While all of the scenarios are plenty of fun, I would have to say that one-on-one combat is the most rewarding of all the scenarios.

During our 4-way combat session (as seen in the video), we found that it was difficult to keep up with who you are shooting and who hit you. We also had two ground targets on the floor, but nobody seemed interested in hitting them. Everybody was just out for the other choppers! Don't get me wrong, we all had a good time, but at times it was a bit chaotic.

Photo Gallery/Flight Video

Enough of the details. Let's see some action photos and a killer video!

As with any RC aircraft, crashes will happen. Add the combat twist to it and you are definitely going to need some replacement parts at some point. Not to worry! Force RC has a full list of replacement parts at great prices.

Downloads

Conclusion

A WORD OF THANKS

Thanks to my brother and fellow author, Andy, for his help with flying and the awesome photo and video skills. Thanks also to my flying buddies T3chDad and Vicarious who helped fly for the 4-way combat session.

I'd also like to thank Horizon Hobby for providing the Force RC helicopters and ground targets for this review.

Thank you all so much!

Is this for a beginner?

Definitely! Since the Force RC Combat Helis fly similarly to the beginner-friendly Blade mCX line, they are extremely easy to fly. In addition to the built-in stability of the coaxial rotor system, Force RC has given the beginner another advantage with the SimpliFly flight mode. So even if you have never flown a helicopter before, don't let that keep you from engaging in the battle.

Conclusion

The Force RC combat helicopters are a great way to get into flying helis and an excellent way to draw friends into the hobby. When you begin to do solo ground target practice you will see the fun that is possible when you have friends in the air as opponents or as teammates. The convenience of having everything stored nice and safe in the box and ready to go at any time is a major plus.

Bring on the combat! Bring on the addiction! Bring on Force RC!!!

Pluses:

  • The box includes everything needed and doubles as a convenient storage/travel case
  • Great for a beginner to learn on
  • Excellent fun for experienced pilots
  • Multiplayer combat sessions will cause uncontrollable laughter

Minuses:

  • Landing skids appear to be weak with multiple hard landings

Last edited by Angela H; Nov 15, 2010 at 08:39 AM..

Discussion

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Old Nov 15, 2010, 05:59 PM
just go FLY !!
brn-grose's Avatar
Jasper, TN
Joined May 2004
1,176 Posts
cool review Gary ! cant wait to see them fly in person
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Old Nov 15, 2010, 06:33 PM
Bob Templeton
T3chDad's Avatar
USA, AL, Huntsville
Joined Apr 2007
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Great review. Thanks for letting me participate!
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Old Nov 15, 2010, 07:59 PM
One of the usual suspects
Vicarious's Avatar
United States, AL, Huntsville
Joined Jun 2007
1,473 Posts
What fun!

I was laughing the whole time we were combating! (Y'all made great targets!)
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Old Nov 15, 2010, 11:00 PM
RC Fanatic
Reco's Avatar
USA, NC, Greensboro
Joined Mar 2002
1,429 Posts
I was wondering do any ofyou guys work at the Space Flight Center?
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Old Nov 16, 2010, 12:21 AM
Servos can't have all the fun!
Moonbeam Six's Avatar
Athens, Alabama
Joined Jun 2005
1,117 Posts
Gary,

Good job on the review!

These look like fun.

MB6
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Old Nov 16, 2010, 12:55 AM
Registered User
USA, CA, Westlake Village
Joined Sep 2004
1,824 Posts
Question that I haven't been able to find anywhere...

Are the helis able to be "hit" from any direction? I.E. does the sensor have 360 degree IR receivers to register hits?

Thanks,
Pete
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Old Nov 16, 2010, 01:12 AM
smoking crack is cheaper
VooDuuChild's Avatar
North of Seattle
Joined Nov 2009
137 Posts
It looks to be a 360 degree sensor, it's kind of a clear bubble if you check out the pics.
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Old Nov 16, 2010, 06:34 AM
Honey, I got more planes!
ghee-grose's Avatar
USA, AL, Athens
Joined Jun 2003
4,274 Posts
Yes, the sensor is 360 degree reception. Hits can be from all around. Both helis have to be nearly the same altitude though or the shooter can be slightly below their target. If the shooter is above the target heli it usually doesn't hit the sensor.
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Old Nov 16, 2010, 07:46 AM
RC Fanatic
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USA, NC, Greensboro
Joined Mar 2002
1,429 Posts
They look like a blast.
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Old Nov 16, 2010, 08:39 AM
Honey, I got more planes!
ghee-grose's Avatar
USA, AL, Athens
Joined Jun 2003
4,274 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reco View Post
I was wondering do any ofyou guys work at the Space Flight Center?
I don't work at NASA. I work for the Army UAS PO (Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office) on Redstone Arsenal.
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Old Nov 16, 2010, 08:48 AM
I hate waiting for parts
Mike_Then's Avatar
United States, NC, Garner
Joined Apr 2001
6,870 Posts
I'd love to get one if I can talk some friends into getting one as well! Looks like fun!
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Old Nov 16, 2010, 08:54 AM
Honey, I got more planes!
ghee-grose's Avatar
USA, AL, Athens
Joined Jun 2003
4,274 Posts
Talk about advertising!!! When your buddies see how much fun they are with a ground target, they will want to get one and do some full-on battle!!!!
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Old Nov 16, 2010, 09:45 AM
When's the next fly-in?
dee-grose's Avatar
Tanner, Alabama
Joined Oct 2003
6,439 Posts
Everybody needs one of these helicopters! Even if you don't have someone to combat with, these are just plain fun to fly around and see how many different places you can do precision landings. They are perfect for the office. Take off from your desk, land on the bookcase, fly under the chair and around the legs of your desk, sneek out the door into the hall and look both ways then duck back in your office. Way too much fun!

The article looks great, Gary. It really does convey how much fun these helis are. The video made me laugh several times. Good stuff! Glad I was able to be a part of this review.

Andy
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Old Nov 16, 2010, 10:18 AM
Registered User
Joined Sep 2010
136 Posts
Good job, I really like it.[img]/sig/31/smile.gif[/img]
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