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Old Feb 18, 2013, 08:48 PM
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Hobbico Heli-max Axe 100 FP and MD530 (rebranded Nine Eagles 129 and 127)

This thread is devoted to the discussion of the Hobbico Heli-max Axe 100 FP and MD530 fixed pitch (FP) flybarless (FBL) helicopters. There has been a great deal of excitement and information about the Axe 100 Collective Pitch (CP) FBL helicopter recently but I haven't seen too much information about the FP versions. I'm hoping to use this thread to collect all of the information that I can about these helicopters. If you have one, please join us here and share your experiences!

(EDIT: 3/27/2013 -- Here's the "official" review of the FP 100 http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1764673)

The neat thing about all of the Heli-Max helicopters is that they can all be flown using the Tactic Anylink radio (http://www.tacticrc.com/tacj2000.html) which makes them more attractive to those folks who like to use their larger programmable radio with their micro helicopters.


Axe 100 FP and MD530

The flybarless fixed-pitch helicopters from Heli-max come in two types. First is the pod-and-boom style and the second is the MD530. These are re-branded Nine Eagles 129 and 127s, respectively.


http://www.helimax-rc.com/helicopter...0fp/index.html



http://www.helimax-rc.com/helicopter...530/index.html


RTF and TxR

These helicopters come in both a ready to fly (RTF) version, as well as a transmitter-ready (TxR) version. The RTF versions come with a small four-channel transmitter module, a Nine-Eagles-style 150mAh lipo, and a USB-powered charger for the battery:



I've only flown them with the stock transmitter once or twice but I quickly put that away because I much prefer flying these helicopters with my Spektrum DX6i using the Tactic Anylink radio (http://www.tacticrc.com/tacj2000.html) module. The stock transmitter does have a high and a low D/R rate that can be used to tame this helicopter when first trying to fly it.

One thing that I should mention is that the instructions that come with the helicopters and the Anylink module seem to be out of date. To bind the helicopter to an Anylink module, you have to press a little button on the receiver board to put the helicopter into bind mode. I believe you just push the button after powering the heli on and then it will bind to the nearest Anylink transmitter. I don't have more than one Anylink module so I haven't had a chance to experiment that much with binding beyond that.

Since I use a Spektrum DX6i, I was told to set the Anylink module into the alternative channel mapping mode. I also had to reverse all four channels! The manual only says to reverse throttle but I had to reverse aileron, elevator, and rudder as well. Finally, I set my aile and elev endpoints to 125% which is the maximum that the DX6i can support.


Setup

The first thing that one should probably do when flying these helicopters is move the swash links to the long balls on the swashplate. As can be seen in the following picture, both helicopters ship with the linkages on the short balls. This reduces cyclic authority and will likely cause you some troubles if you have to quickly try to avoid a crash.



Hobbico says that the swashplate should be level when the servos are at their center positions. I can verify that the helicopter flies just fine this way and there should be no reason to adjust the linkage lengths. According to Hobbico tech support, the stock link lengths should be 24mm center to center. I've found that my MD530 does pretty well in hovering without needing too many corrections but my 100 FP needs a bit of constant right aileron to keep it hoving in front of me. If I get into a hover with the stick centered, the FP will start drifting left pretty quickly otherwise.


Internals

Working on these helicopters is actually very easy. The pod and boom Axe 100 FP's canopy is only attached at two locations. This means that it very easy to remove if need be. The MD530's nose is held on with magnets and pops off to provide easy access to the battery:



Also, unlike helicopters of similar size, these helicopters have micro servo motors rather than the linear servos typically found on other brands like the Blade MSRX or the Nine Eagles Bravo SX. Everything is connected to the mainboard with plugs which should make repair and maintenance of these helicopters fairly straightforward.



I find that the physical layout of these helicopters is VERY nice. The mainframe is very modular and can be easily taken apart and re-assembled. I don't think I'll have any troubles in maintaining either helicopter. Yes, the MD530 is a little more tricky but there aren't that many screws that need to be removed to open the fuselage and once inside, the internals are very well organized.

One feature that I really like is that the battery connector to the receiver board is a Loci type such as can be found here:

http://www.rc-connectors.com/index.p...n7ivifscptadg1

which means you can easily make your own battery plug. I'm actually in the process of making a custom cable that will let me connect my EFlite-style batteries (that I use in my Blade MSRX) since I have a whole lot of those. The skids for these helicopters can easily be modified to hold those kinds of batteries instead of the stock ones as well.


Flying Characteristics

I've currently only flown these helicopters indoors so far and then only for about a dozen flights each. However, I've started to get a feel for how they fly and am learning about some of their quirks. First of all, these helicopters are flybarless. That means that the pilot must pay close attention to how they flying and when turning, the attitude of the helicopter must be closely monitored and corrected with the cyclic servos. Thus, it takes both sticks to fly these helicopters. Don't think that they'll be as easy to fly as a flybarred fixed pitch (MSR, V911, GW 9958) or coaxial. They're not!

One interesting "feature" that I've noticed is that if I snap my cyclic (aileron or elevator) controls back to center, the servos do NOT respond instantly but instead slowly and leisurely move back to their center points. If, however, I quickly move the sticks back and forth past the center point, the servos keep up. It's only the center point that has this gradual return. I imagine that this is for new people who might get into a panic and center the stick if they get into trouble.

These helicopters feel heavy when compared to the MSRX (the only other flybarless fixed-pitch I've flown). They're a bit larger and are not nearly as responsive on the elevator and aileron channels. Thus, some care needs to be taken when flying since you will NOT be able to stop on a dime.


Crash-worthiness

I've had a few light crashes with the Axe 100 FP and haven't had any problems with it. It's pretty lightweight overall and can bounce off of things fairly easily.

The MD530 is a bit heavier and I have broken a few swash links as well as the tail rotor when I had my first major crash. In fact, that's why my tail rotor blade is the same on the MD530 as on the FP100. The tail blade with the red tips that you see in all the pictures isn't apparently available as a part to buy right now. The only replacement part is the black/white tail. The skids on the MD530 might be something that could break but they're very easily removed and replaced. On another crash, I had the skids pop out and skitter across the floor. They were just fine though. The battery tray in the MD530 is also easily removed in case the sockets that hold the landing skids break in a crash.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed with how these helicopters are laid out. As I said before, they're extremely modular and it should be quite easy to take them apart and replace what needs to be fixed. They fly fairly well but I don't yet have any outdoor experience with them. They're not as fast and zippy as the Blade MSRX, for instance, but they don't fly too badly and they make for an interesting variation in how they perform. I'd recommend these helicopters to pilots who are interested in a FBL FP helicopter and want an intermediate challenge. These helicopters probably cannot take too much punishment and so you should be ready to work on them to repair crash damage.

Maintenance

One of the issues that I see with both of these two helis is occasional vibrations while in flight. This can really mess with the sensors in the flybarless control system so you want to try to get rid of the vibes as much as possible. Here are some things you can try when diagnosing vibrations (this list is compiled from conversations I've had with Hobbico tech support):
  • Change or balance the rotor blades. To balance the rotor blades, check the balance of the blades by first removing the motor, tighten the blade grips so that the blades do not move, extend the blades so that they're parallel to each other, and rotate the model over to its side. If one blade is heavier then the blades will tilt in that direction. Like with any blade balancing process, you should be able to add a little bit of scotch tape to the lighter blade until the blades are in balance again. Don't forget to loosen the blades in the blade grips again!
  • When setting the tension of the blades in the blade grips, tighten them just enough so that they don't move if the model is on its side but make sure they're loose enough that they will move if you push on them. Now, I typically fly mine so that they're just floppy enough to sag under their own weight if the model is on its side so I don't know how important that tension is.
  • Check the blades while they're in motion to verify the blade tracking. If you see one disk when you look at it side on then you're good. If you see two disks then the blades aren't tracking right. You might need a new head assembly.
  • If the head wobbles when you spin up the helicopter, check to see if the wobble is still there if you remove the blades. If the head stops wobbling then check for blade balance (see above) or see if your feathering shaft is bent and needs to be replaced. If the wobble remains, remove the head and see if the shaft is straight. If the shaft is bent then replace it. Otherwise if nothing else, replace the head.
  • Finally, if you suspect the servos, try swapping the servo plugs on the mainboard (remove the blades first for safety!). If the servo in question has the same poor performance in both plugs then replace it.


Support

If you have support questions about these helicopters, be sure to contact them at this email address:

helihotline@hobbico.com

They've been very quick to respond to my emails thus far (always by the next morning) and so I really appreciate that.
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Last edited by RoboHeli; Mar 28, 2013 at 04:33 PM. Reason: Added link to the official FP 100 review
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 08:53 PM
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Mods and Misc

Parts Compatibility

I asked Hobbico tech support about whether you can exchange the tail blades from the Axe 100 CP and the 100 FP. They said that they believe that this should be fine as the only difference is mainly cosmetic. So if you like the yellow canopy and tail blade of the CP and want to fly them on your FP, you should be able to do so!

You should also be able to take any part from the Nine Eagles 127 and fit it to the Heli-Max MD530 as well as take any part from the Nine Eagles 129 and fit it to the Heli-Max Axe 100 FP. Well, other than the RX board...I don't think the Heli-max transmitters are compatible. If I can find them, I'm going to try to get some of the blades, skids, and canopies from the Nine Eagles 127 and 129 sometime to try out on my helis.

For reference, here's a thread that talks about the Nine Eagles 129 and 127:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1835017

Modding

As I mentioned in my first post, the first thing I wanted to do was to change the skids so that I can use my Eflite batteries instead of the Helimax ones. I've got a large collection of the Eflites (Eflite 150s, Turnigy 160s, and Turnigy Nanotech 160s) and only two Helimax batteries.

I soldered together a cable that connects a Losi plug to an Eflite one and connected it to the mainboard. I then modded my skids by removing the conductive insert. Now the batteries can slide all the way forward into the canopy on the Axe 100 and this seems to help the center of gravity. I'll post pictures after I get a chance to do further testing.

(EDIT) : After trying this in both the FP100 and the MD530, I've gone back to the stock batteries and skids in both. I was getting more vibration with the EFlite-style batteries since they didn't really fit that snugly and I just didn't get the same length of flight time that I was getting with the stock batteries!
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Last edited by RoboHeli; Apr 13, 2013 at 11:40 AM. Reason: Updated info on the Nine Eagles 127 and 129
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 08:57 PM
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Getting the AnyLink to work with a Turnigy 9x

I now fly my Axe 100FP and MD530 with the AnyLink adapter attached to my Turnigy 9x (e.g. T9x) transmitter. I use the er9x firmware as well.

The first issue was powering the AnyLink. The stock T9x does not provide power from its "charging" socket like a Spektrum DX6i so you have to do something else to power the AnyLink. I've seen a few threads here and there talking about tapping into the power electronics of the T9x to provide a cable. I didn't necessarily want to do that so I went to my LHS and bought a TACM0005 cable:

http://www.tacticrc.com/tacj2000.html#tacm0005-anchor

which has a built-in 2S LiFe (note: NOT LiPo) battery in it that provides power to the Anylink. I have a Thunderpower AC6 charger that supports LiFe charging so that worked for me.

The second issue was programming the T9x. Since I already set my AnyLink up for Spektrum radios (e.g. read the AnyLink directions for how to do that--it's an "alternate channel mapping" mode you want), I started from the models that I use to fly my Blade mSRX with my T9x (I have a DSM radio installed in my T9x as well) and created a new Axe 100FP model.

The differences were that I had to select PPMSIM as the Protocol. I also enabled the Trainer port but I don't know for sure whether that's 100% needed or not... Works with it turned on at least.

CH01 is THROTTLE : INVERTED
CH02 is AILE : limits set to 125%
CH03 is ELEV : INVERTED, limits set to 125%
CH04 is RUDD

I also have CH05 set up as the gyro but that's because I also was trying to use this model to fly my Heli-Max 1SQ. It shouldn't do anything with the Axe 100FP or MD530.

Finally, please find my er9x eepe model attached to this posting as a zip file. Load this into eepe and view the settings. You can also use eepe to download this into your T9x but if you've not done that before you could just look at my settings and mixes with eepe and program your transmitter through its interface if you like.

Let me know if you have any questions!
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 09:34 PM
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Getting the AnyLink to work with the Devo 10

Here's my Deviation model for the Axe 100 FP and the Axe MD530. It's set up for a Devo 10 running Deviation 3.0.0 (stock--not a nightly). It should also run fine for the MD530. I've also included two custom icons that I made. One for the Axe 100 FP, and the other for the MD530. Icons only work for Devo7e and Devo10.

I've set my AnyLink up in the "alternate" channel mapping mode since that's how I use it on my DX6i. I've never changed it. So to use this model you need to have your AnyLink set up that way as well. Refer to your manual if you don't know what I'm talking about.

To power the AnyLink, I'm still using the same TACM0005 cable with integrated 2S LiFe battery (see previous post for link). Works just fine and I've stuck it to the back of my transmitter with a little velcro. You can position the AnyLink behind the Devo 10 handle and put the battery just above the door for the TX battery case and the transmitter will still lie on its back without pressing on either the AnyLink or the transmitter.

model15.ini is the axe100FP
model16.ini is the MD530

The only difference between the models is the name and the icon that it uses but I'm including both for the sake of completeness.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 10:16 PM
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Subcribing, I have a CP Axe and do not have a FP heli but I find this problem interesting and would like to see what if going on.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadTom View Post
Subcribing, I have a CP Axe and do not have a FP heli but I find this problem interesting and would like to see what if going on.
Right, so to recap, here's the issue I'm having with my FP 100.

One thing that I'm noticing is that the helicopter seems to want to drift to the left at center stick and I have to apply a non-trivial amount of right aileron to get it centered out. I've tried applying trim to correct this but I have to max out my transmitter's aileron trim before I can get the helicopter to not want to drift to the right so much.

I've played with the servo pushrod linkage lengths a little bit but I'm concerned that if I lengthen them too much I will get the helicopter to the point that the swashplate will bind at maximum aileron or that there won't be enough thread left on the pushrod to keep it connected to the link ball.

This doesn't happen with my MD530. One guy over at Helifreak also said that he was having a similar problem with his FP 100.

Now, I think it may actually have something to do with a CoG issue. The reason I say that is I modded my skids so that I could use Eflite batteries instead of the standard Helimax batteries. This mod allowed me to push the Eflite battery all the way forward into the canopy rather than having the battery be slung under the belly of the heli. When I flew it, it seemed to perhaps have less of an tendency to drift to start to drift (and actually roll) to the left though it was still kind of there.

The real confusion I'm having right now is understanding how much is adjustable in this flybarless system and how much is not. Should I change the link lengths or not? Should I use trim on my transmitter or not? I'm going to go fly a few more Eflite batteries and we'll see.
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Old Feb 18, 2013, 11:48 PM
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Well, I can say that the battery position didn't really change much. My FP 100 still likes to list to the left if I don't apply a little right aileron. It's not that big of a deal though. It's very flyable. I was doing left and right circuits tonight with it.

The Eflite 150mAh batteries work pretty well with it. I flew for 4 minutes and they were down to 3.73 volts (or thereabouts).


My MD530 is still a harder heli to fly. It's much more likely to want to scoot off to the side when yawing left or right. In fact, it's more like learning to fly my MSRX all over again. I was doing right-handed circuits okay but I still haven't managed to do a left one without bailing out.

Right at the end of my 2nd battery, I accidentally clipped a wall as well. Didn't seem to be damaged (this time) but I lost one of the skids for about an hour until I found it halfway across the room half buried in some stuff! Those little parts really do like to go shooting off into space if you aren't careful.

So yeah, I need a lot more stick time with the MD530. It's going to be a real challenge to get comfortable with flying and keeping under control.
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 06:25 AM
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I've got both and can't seem to fly either. After a bunch of V-911's and a couple of DH 9116's I thought I was ready to step up. Mine also scoot off to the side.(And crash) I'll move the swash links to the long balls and try that out. I bought my first -the Axe 100FP-as a BNF with a tacticTTX600 radio. I thought the radio was the problem so I bought a MD-530 with radio and bound it to the Axe...same problem-side to side dashes! Kinda pisses me off I can't run a full battery without a crash! If I can't get the hang of a flybarless I sure can't move up to a CP Heli ! I'll be watching this thread!!!
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 07:37 AM
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Hi Bill

Stepping up to a flybarless heli from a V911 is going to require a lot of patience. The learning curve is definitely steeper than you are probably used to. Flybarless helis require a lot more active control by the pilot a there is no mechanical stabilization to help you if you get into trouble.

All I can say is to be patient and just work on getting it into a hover. I do recommend putting the swash links on the longer balls but you are still going to have to work on small motions on your right stick.

Keep asking questions and let us know how you progress.
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 09:33 AM
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Flew my MD530 this morning after installing the custom Eflite battery cable that I made. It flew pretty well but I hit the low voltage cutoff (LVC) behavior at around 3:50 or so. I'm not sure if this is a function of my battery, which was an EFlite 150mAh (25C--my stock Blade Nano battery) or if it was that I was pumping the throttle a little more vigorously than before to see how it would respond...

The LVC mode will start to slowly decrease the speed of the blades until the heli is forced to land. This is much like the behavior of Blade micro helis.
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadTom View Post
Subcribing, I have a CP Axe and do not have a FP heli but I find this problem interesting and would like to see what if going on.
I just got an email back from the hobbico tech support group. They said:

Quote:
The swashplate should be level when the cyclic stick is centered. You should make any adjustments to the linkage or reposition the servo arms to get the swashplate level. The links on our model are 24mm center to center. As you advance the throttle, the swashplate should remain level. If the model has a lot of vibration, it can cause the gyro to malfunction.

If you continue to have problems, please let us know. The board may be need to be replaced.
This is very interesting because my swashplate is clearly NOT level at all. I even felt that I had to lengthen the pushrods. I'll try leveling it out this evening and see what happens...
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 09:50 AM
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I have both the fixed pitch helis as well as the cp version.

The CP RTF comes with a nice transmitter which has 10 memories and a lot of programmable features. You can bind the fixed pitch helis to the CP tx and program in some expo to make them a bit more tame. That is what I did.

The 530 is heavier so it "lumbers" a bit more like any scale heli. It takes more control to get it moving in one direction and more to get it to stop. If you are learning I would suggest the short swash balls and low rates on the stock tx.

The manual says that with TAGS the trims do nothing. The flybarless system takes care of that. Any flybarless system does not like vibration though so if your blades are nicked or chipped that will make it difficult to control.
Gene
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 09:56 AM
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Hi GeneR! Thanks for the info. I've had my eye on the CP RTF for a while so it's really nice to hear that the TX is nice. I would be interesting in trying my Axe FP helis with that TX to compare it to my DX6i/Anylink combo.

The 530 is definitely a heavy bird and it responds like it. I'm still getting a feel for how it flies as it still feels awkward in my hands. This is really interesting because I have lots of experience flying the Blade MSRX flybarless system and nearly as many flights on the Blade Nano CP. I'm finding that I'm quickly becoming more used to how the pod & boom Axe FP 100 flies and have been doing circuits with that.

Even with the 6+ months of FBL experience with MSRX and Nano, I find that I still feel quite uncertain with the 530. Obviously, I need lots more stick time.

Thanks also for the note regarding the TAGS system. This is exactly what is said about the Blade AS3X flybarless controller in the MSRX, Nano and MCPX. Good to know that this is consistent!

I don't have any real vibration issues (fortunately!) but yes, I've heard that high frequency vibration is a really bad thing to these systems.


GeneR, can you tell me how your swashplate is set up on your FP helis? Is it level at center stick like Hobbico's email above suggests it should be?
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 06:42 PM
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Okay! I took the suggestion from Hobbico. I leveled my swashplate on my 100 FP and took it up for two test flights.

It flew great! In fact, it flew nearly as well as it did when I had the swashplate NOT level from my previous experiments. I can imagine that the helicopter would perform in a lopsided fashion if I were flying it outdoors but indoors it was just fine.



I also took my MD530 up again for two more flights and this time I was able to work up the confidence to do slow and steady left-hand circuits. I feel that I've got a good handle on how this helicopter handles now and am enjoying it even more!

With Eflite 150s, my MD530 only goes to around 3:40-3:50 before I can't keep it up in the air anymore. I wonder how Hyperion or ThunderPower 160s would work. I'll have to look for some to try out sometime.
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 07:16 PM
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That is great news for you, I am glad you got it sorted out.
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