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Heli-Max EC145 Eurocopter RTF Review

The Heli-Max EC145 is a very scale appearing CCPM cyclic-collective-pitch-mixing helicopter that features their TAGS stabilization system. Strap in and learn all about this helicopter.

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Introduction

Heli-Max EC145 1/43 Scale CP Helicopter (1 min 52 sec)


Rotor Diameter: 9.64"
Blade Length: 4.13"
Weight RTF: 3.01 oz.
Length: 12"
Height: 2.95"
Width: 2.36"
Tail Rotor Diameter: 2.16"
Main Motor: 14,750kV brushless motor
Tail Motor: brushed motor
Transmitter: Heli-Max TX610
Receiver: SLT 6-Channel
Battery: 1S 600 mAp 30C
ESC: 10 Amp brushless
Manufacturer: Heli-Max
Available From: Fine Hobby Stores Everywhere
Price RTF: $199.99
Price Tx-R: $149.99

I do almost all of my RC helicopter flying in a conventional manner. I try to fly it as if it were a real helicopter. If I was suddenly shrunk and riding inside of one of my helicopters I generally would have a conventional ride much like a tourist in Hawaii but simply overlooking my much less exotic yard. I really enjoy flying RC helicopters in a scalelike fashion. While I enjoy seeing others fly 3D style (at least those that are very good at it) I don't want to go through the expense of the learning curve for me to fly 3D. I therefore especially like scale helicopters, and this EC145 has a lot of nice scale details for me to enjoy in its small package. She is a good flyer so I can enjoy her scale details when she is sitting on my desk as well as when I am flying her . I don't plan on putting my shrunken unseen executives inside the helicopter through any loops or rolls, at least not intentionally. To put it bluntly, the helicopter is a lot more aerobatic than I am, or that I want to be, with a scale body.

My interest in this helicopter started with the video posted above. She had nice scale details, flew well and could handle a little breeze. I noticed the transmitter that comes with the RTF version in the video but was not fully appreciative of all it could do until my RTF review model arrived from Heli-Max and their distributor Hobbico. Since there is no assembly required I will have time to discuss the features of this transmitter and why you might want to get the RTF version over the Tx-R version even if you already have a helicopter transmitter.

Brief History of the EC145 Eurocopter

The Eurocopter EC145 entered service in 1996 both in Europe and the United States. It is a twin-engine civil helicopter produced by Eurocopter. Over a thousand have been manufactured and it is widely used by police, air rescue and ambulance services as well as for executive transport. As a transport the cabin can be configured for up to eight or nine passengers and has a level floor throughout. It is certified for instrument flight rules (IFR) and is equipped with digital flight controls. It is a very well regarded four-blade helicopter. The pictures below are from Google Images and the information above came from Wikipedia.

Kit Contents

Kit Contents

  • EC145 helicopter ready to fly
  • Tactic TX610 Transmitter
  • 600 mAh Lipo flight battery
  • Adjustable LiPo battery charger with wall adapter
  • Screwdriver
  • Extra tail blade
  • Instruction manual

Scale Details

The Scale Details Include

Assembly

There is no assembly. It comes ready to fly. I just charged the flight battery. I slid off the front half of the helicopter body, installed the charged battery pack into the battery tray, installed eight AA batteries into the transmitter, turned on the transmitter, connected the flight battery to the ESC and slid the front half of the body back in place where it was secured by two magnets. My EC145 was ready to fly!

Selecting The Transmitter To Fly the EC145

The Tx-R version is Transmitter Ready

I am a great believer in buying planes and helicopters that allow me to use my own transmitters. It saves me money and equally important, it saves me space, especially with larger airplanes. With one transmitter I can fly 10, 20 30 or more planes, and I only need to remember how to program my transmitter. That is the beauty and value of buying the Tx-R version. I can use my modern Tactic or Heli-Max 2.4GHz transmitters or any of my transmitters using the AnyLink adapter. Nearly all brands, bands and modulations can be used with the AnyLink TACJ2000 adapter. The AnyLink has been discussed in detail over the past year and half so I will not repeat it here. If you want more information go to: Tx-ready.com for full details. The instruction manual included programming instructions for the EC145 for both a Spektrum and a Futaba transmitter so even the programming setup is easy to do with those transmitters.

While many will want the Tx-R version and use their own transmitter there are compelling reasons to at least consider buying the RTF version which comes with the Heli-Max TX610 transmitter. The added price for RTF is only $50.00 more than the Tx-R model. I recommend reading about the TX610 below and making an informed decision about what is right for you and your transmitter needs now and in the future.

The Heli-Max TX610 Six Channel Transmitter

The Heli-Max TX610 Transmitter

  • Has TEN model memory so it can be used with many more planes and helicopters
  • It is a six channel transmitter
  • It has 5 point pitch curve
  • Works with the Heli-Max helicopters and Flyzone planes equipped with SLT receivers
  • Works with Tactic & Heli-Max SLT receivers
  • Its range is greater than where I can see the EC145 Eurocopter
  • It controlled my Flyzone Beaver at over a third of a mile away in a test flight

The EC145 has its program pre-set on model memory 8 on the TX610 transmitter. The transmitter however came set on model memory program 0 which also had the Eurocopter programming.

This is an excellent little transmitter, and with a 10 model memory I will be using it with several of my Heli-Max helicopters and as a back up to my Tactic TX650 transmitter which controls my Flyzone Heer force. It has programming for both helicopters and airplanes. It has servo reversing on all six channels. There is Adjustable Travel Volume (ATV) from + 125% to -125% on channels 1, 2 and 4. Sub trim is available for channels 1, 2 and 4 but when in helicopter programming it is recommended to keep them at 0 when using head holding stabilization systems, including the TAG system that comes in the EC145. But with airplanes it can be used to center a servo on channels 1, 2 and 4. Expo is available on channels 1, 2 and 4 and in helicopter programming channel 3 has 5 point throttle curve and channel 6 has a 5 point pitch curve.

There are airplane specific options and adjustments when programming in airplane mode. There is a flap switch that actuates flaps by flipping the switch down. The amount of down flap can be dialed in using the HOV.T/FLAP>T dial. Have the switch in the activated position and dial down the flaps to where you want them. It is the pilots choice to activate the flaps by switch or leave the switch in the activated position and control using the dial on the left top front of the transmitter. The gear speed can be controlled with programming so that a retract servo operates more slowly. Finally, there is a mixing channel. Mix channels 1 + 2 for delta wing planes, 2 + 4 for V-control and 1 + 6 for flaperon/spoileron operation.

If you have two compatible transmitters and a buddy box cord connecting them you can use one as the teacher and one as student with the teacher holding the trainer switch on the top right of the transmitter.

Dual Rate is available for both planes and helicopters and comes already programmed at 100% for high rate and 80% for low rate. A single flip of the switch has the aileron, elevator and rudder switch from one rate to the other. All three controls switch rates from high to low or low to high together.

For helicopters there is programmable gyro gain, throttle hold, revolution mixing, adjustable pitch controls and adjustable throttle curve. The gyro gain is programmable and has two settings changed by a switch. A setting below 50% is non-heading holding while any above 51% is heading hold. The EC145 program comes set at 75 in the down switch position and 25 in the up position for the EC145. I want heading hold so I have my gyro gain switch in the down position. (The head holding works very well with TAGS even in a cross wind outside.)

My transmitter came in Mode 2 control which is the popular mode in North America with aileron and elevator on the right stick and throttle and rudder on the left stick. The transmitter can be switched to mode 1 with throttle and aileron on the right stick and elevator and rudder on the left stick which is the preferred way to fly in Europe and parts of Asia. Finally, the transmitter can be used as a trainer or student transmitter with a training cord connecting them and with both transmitters set up the same.

The programming system for the TX610 uses buttons and a dial to access the different functions, and using the manual I found it easy to do but not as intuitive as programming my Tactic TX650. I will need to refer to the small instruction manual to program the transmitter for a little while but I did get comfortable with the programming system during this review. For this review I programmed a memory slot to use to control my Flyzone Beaver, and it controlled it very nicely including the flaps. The dial on the flaps allowed me to dial in a little flap to help maximize lift in a thermal (motor off) as well as full flaps for landing.

With ten model memory I found the transmitter well worth the $50.00 extra that the RTF cost over the TX-R version of the EC145. It came already programmed for the EC145 (memory model 0 & 8) and the recommended programming was also found in the instruction manual. I have found the transmitter to be a great little transmitter for a couple of my Heli-Max helicopters and for my Flyzone Beaver and would work well with other park or micro Flyzone flyers. The only real negative is there is no method for identifying the model other then the helicopter or airplane Icon and the number of the model. I will need to keep a list of what aircraft I have programmed (They supply a form for that in the transmitter manual on page 15.) and which model memory was used to store them. I really appreciate the flexibility this transmitter supplies and the decision of which version of the EC145 to buy remains with the pilot who can purchase to fit his or her needs. That is a GREAT option to have rather than just another 1 model memory helicopter transmitter!

Charging the 1-Cell 600mAh Battery

A power converter that plugs into the wall and a variable rate charger come with the EC145. I plugged the power converter into the wall and plugged it to the charger. I plugged the battery into the charger and got two beeps and then pushed the charge button. I got three beeps which according to the instructions on the charger was supposed to happen. An LED above the charge rate I selected of 0.6 Amp went from solidly lit to blinking (If it doesn't blink it isn't charging.). When the battery was fully charged all of the LEDs on the charger started flashing and the charger started beeping. The battery was charged and good to go. FYI: The variable rates of the charger were from 0.3Amps to 0.7Amps. I will only be using 0.6Amps with my Eurocopter.

NOTE 1) It is possible to get the two beeps when plugging in the battery and the three beeps when the start charging button is pressed and NOT charge the battery. The battery is charging only if the LED above the Amperage selected starts blinking after pressing the start button. If it doesn't start flashing push the connectors together harder or squeeze the white connectors when together and press the start charging button again. Repeat the process as necessary to get the LED flashing. I have four batteries and only had the problem with one of the batteries.

Note 2) Do not use other batteries with the same plug without carefully checking if the positive and negative are wired to the same sides as used with the EC145. The Heli-Max battery they sell as an option for the EC145 have all had the proper wiring. However, I have an older Heli-Max Novus coaxial Huey helicopter (no longer available) with 1-cell 600 mAh batteries and they have the same connectors but the positive and negative wires are wired in reverse of the Heli-Max battery for the EC145. Obviously I won't be using them or their charger with the EC145 and its battery.

For Those New To Collective Pitch Helicopters

When flying coaxial and fixed pitch helicopters I only had to know how to operate the two sticks and the dual rate switch or switches to control the rudder, throttle, ailerons and elevator to properly control my helicopters. With collective pitch I needed to know about some other switches as well. For this review I treated the EC145 as if it were my first collective pitch helicopter but that I was an accomplished fixed pitch pilot. (That's my story and I am sticking to it.)

1) I read both instruction manuals: the TX610 transmitter manual and the EC145 manual where they discuss collective pitch and learned about the switches at the top of the transmitter and what they control. 2) I recommend if there is an RC helicopter expert where you fly, talk to him/her about the switches involved with collective pitch. 3) I knew I needed to know what to do if I ran into trouble flying before I started my first flight. That is: KNOW what to do; not sort of know what maybe I should do!

I strongly recommend the same three points to any helicopter pilot that is not an expert with collective pitch. Here I am talking about knowledge of how collective pitch helicopters operate and not about being an expert 3D pilot. If you understand controlling a collective pitch helicopter you can skip to the next section. The switches and dial I discuss below are on my other collective pitch helicopters from other companies and function in the same way. The only difference is the recommend throttle and normal pitch curves on my other helicopters are different.

The first switch I want to discuss is: "The Throttle Hold Switch." It is located on the top front outside left corner of the TX610 transmitter that comes with the RTF model and the switch is marked: HOLD/FLAP. It can be used as a safety switch while handling the model as it disables power to the motor. With the throttle hold switch in the ON position I can't accidently get the motor to spin the blades by bumping the throttle. The main purpose of the switch is to allow auto rotation landings with the motor off. This is more of an emergency situation but if the helicopter is in trouble and going down it is usually better to throw this switch than to lower the throttle. The trip down should be somewhat slower this way and the helicopter is much less likely to beat itself to death in a crash with the switch off.

The second switch is on top of the left side of the transmitter and is labeled: "UP 1/GEAR." This switch sets the motor speed while still allowing negative and positive pitch control. This switch allows for faster head speed on the helicopter for aerobatics while controlling the pitch of the helicopter blades. Lowering the throttle stick will not slow down the motor when this switch is deployed. That is why knowing what to do with switch 1 in an emergency is especially important. I think through what I am going to do in an emergency before every flight. Especially when I haven't been fly collective pitch for a while.

I hoped that those of you new to collective pitch helicopters found this section helpful. I want to fill in a few gaps about what the different positions of the switches did. I made sure I understood this information before I progressed to flying the EC145.

Flying

Basics

While I have several collective pitch helicopters I am much more familiar with fixed pitch helicopters and I really didn't know what to expect from the EC145 for the first flight. All of my other collective pitch copters are only two blades and I have both with and without flybars but this is my first four blade helicopter (Not counting co-axial helicopters.). Following my own advice I read both manual from cover to cover and focused on learning about the switches and dials on the top left of the transmitter. I had the UP1/GEAR switch set back and the THROTTLE HOLD/FLAP switch set to the up or top position for my initial flight. In case of a crash or about to crash I will flip the Throttle Hold switch to the down position. I went into the transmitter's programing and confirmed all the programmed settings were as described.

I partially spooled up the rotors to where the EC145 was getting light but still on the ground and confirmed that the rudder, elevator and ailerons were working in the directions they were suppose to work. I throttled off and conducted a range test and was ready for my first flight.

PER THE INSTRUCTIONS! I did not use the trim tabs at all in the course of this review. I allowed the TAGS system to adjust the helicopter as needed for level flight and this worked both indoors and outside. The maximum breeze I flew in was about 5 mph. She could handle more with her power but I want to keep her for a long time and 5 mph was good for my skill level.

Taking Off and Landing

Indoors or in calm conditions I spool up a bit slowly and when I get close to lifting off I give a few moves up of throttle to lift off and get out of ground effect air. I find when I spool up a bit slowly the TAG system was always working to help keep my Eurocopter stable. When I rushed the throttle up quickly my control of the helicopter and its smoothness was not the same. While it may just have been my perception I now start spooling up a bit slowly until I get near lift off speed and the TAG system has always been ready to help control the Eurcopter in those situations. In calm conditions she comes up to a pretty nice hover. I still have to adjust the right stick but maintaining a hove indoors has proven very easy.

When taking off outdoors I always like to have the Eurocopter down wind from me and any spectators behind me. She will drift with the wind but I have been able to give down elevator and keep her near. I then simply adjust for the wind drift as i fly. While I am sure she can handle more than a 5 mph breeze I am not sure I am ready for that yet so i have not tried to fly in higher wind.

Landing indoors is very easy as I just fly over the spot I want to land at and than lower the throttle. Outdoors in a breeze I have found it best for my skills to land with a bit of forward flight into the breeze just as my friend Jeff does in the first video below. I am moving forward very slowly when landing. It is mostly movement to counter the wind drift.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

As per my discussion earlier in this review the helicopter is capable of better aerobatics than I am, or that I like to do. I am very happy to have as realistic a flight as I can, matching in my mind what I think a real helicopter should do. Admittedly my real helicopter experience is limited to a few hours of tourist rides but I still have fun flying the patterns I want to do. The Eurocopter is capable of very fast flight, especially for its size and I and my friend Jeff have done some very high speed circling and some fast passes that we found impressive and I have shocked some people walking in the park by how fast she goes even though I went no where near them or even in line with them. I am sure people see me hovering or flying her slowly and are simply surprised when they see the speed she is capable of doing and tracking right where I am directing her. Almost all of my flying has been at low rates outdoors and still she is very responsive.

Is This For a Beginner?

NO! I recommend that the beginner start with a 4-channel (NOT 3-channel) coaxial helicopter to learn how helicopters respond to command inputs. The Heli-Max Axe CX Nano is a small indoor coaxial that starts the learning process. When the Axe CX Nano or other coaxial helicopter has been MASTERED, the beginner can proceed to an intermediate fixed pitch helicopter and I recommend the Heli-Max Novus 200 FP. I have been flying my Novus 200 FP extensively for over a year now and consider it an excellent helicopter to progress from beginner to intermediate as it is fun and easy for an intermediate helicopter pilot to fly even in a slight breeze. The Eurocopter 145 is an advanced helicopter. It is not intended for the Beginner and could be dangerous for a beginner to try and fly it because it is some much faster and responsive than the beginner or intermediate fixed pitch helicopter. It is for a solid intermediate or better helicopter pilot! Master your intermediate helicopter before moving on to collective pitch. This advice is as much for your pocketbook as for your and others' safety.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Eurocopter demo flight for Ezonemag review (2 min 17 sec)

Downloads

Heli-Max RC Eurocopter Showing Some Speed (1 min 18 sec)

Downloads

Conclusion

I was very happy with the appearance of the helicopter right out of the box. Giving her a complete inspection I found everything to be ready to go. My helicopter used in this review flew perfectly right out of the box and with the programming that came on the transmitter. I have seen one other Eurocopter in person and its elevator servo needed some adjustment at it kept tipping forward when powering up. It is now flying nicely as well after a call to Heli-Max and some tinkering with the elevator servo. Having technical advice available can really be priceless when you or a friend has a problem and wants to fly! Spare parts are available and I have bought a couple extra batteries and a spare set of main rotors (4 rotors). A spare tail rotor was included with the Eurocopter but so far I am flying with the original rotors.

The Eurocopter has proven to be everything I was hoping she would be! She is a stable helicopter that tracks nicely. The TAGS system helps adjust for the wind and bumpy air conditions I have flying outside. She is certainly capable of more adventuress flying than I will attempt in the foreseeable future. I now have a very nice looking scale helicopter that flies as nice as she looks and the cost doesn't break the bank. She even comes with a brushless main motor that should last a very long time. I just wish they also sold a bigger version for say a 600 size scale Eurocopter and that would complete my civilian scale helicopter force for some time to come with my current size Eurocopter and a big one to go with her. For now I will very much enjoy flying my 1/43 scale Eurocopter. Warning: She flies so nicely I am now eying the 1/43 scale Black Hawk from Heli-Max. They can be addicting when they perform well.

Pluses

  • Very nice scale details on a good looking helicopter!
  • Transmitter was much more than I expected with an RTF and a bargain in my opinion.
  • 2 extra batteries and a spare set of 4 main rotors with shipping was less than $27.00
  • She handles a 5-mph breeze and tracks very nicely.
  • She went where I directed her to go!
  • She has withstood some less than perfect landings in the grass with no damage thus far.
  • Her small size, nice handling and available speed has impressed friends and strangers.
  • Her main motor is brushless for long life and energy efficiency.
  • TAGS works!
  • She puts a big smile on my face.

Minuses

  • I like her so much I am now looking at the other new Heli-Max four rotor 1/43 scale helicopter, the BlackHawk.

Thanks

My thanks to Heli-Max and Hobbico for supplying this helicopter in RTF version for this E-Zone review. I won't buy, fly or review helicopters that do not have a complete line of parts available in this country and Heli-Max does a good job of stocking all necessary replacement parts. I want to thank my friend, Jeff Hunter, for his help with the media for this review and our Editor Angela for editing this article.

Last edited by Michael Heer; Sep 05, 2013 at 09:11 AM..

Discussion

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Old Sep 05, 2013, 10:32 PM
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Joined Apr 2012
282 Posts
Great review, as are all of your reviews that I have read.
Beautiful scale details, in a nice micro size, and they kept the price very reasonable.
The only drawbacks I see are the Anylink thing- I wouldn`t buy any heli or plane that I couldn`t just use with my DX6i directly, and the horrible paint job! With all the beautiful EC-145 color schemes out there, why would they use such drab, unattractive colors? It would look stunning in red like the full-scale photos, or just about any other colors. They really missed it with that point. (Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder...)
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Old Sep 06, 2013, 01:14 PM
Bad Gunkie
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USA, GA, Centerville
Joined Dec 2002
3,342 Posts
Heli looks good, I would like to have one if I could bind it to my 11X. Kind of odd that they call their system TAGS, and so does JR HERE But I guess you could call them all triple axis gyros. Let me also add that it may not be a good idea to shock people in the park with your high speed passes.

Good review.

Bill Davenport
AMA 28141
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Old Sep 07, 2013, 12:02 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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Hi Bill:
Let me clarify how I shocked them with my high speed passes. The helicopter was at no time near them or heading at them. They were shocked because they had been watching very slow and smooth flight and then I kicked it up to high speed going away from us. I turned to the right and did a few high speed ovals out in front of myself by a good 25 feet at the closest point and they were an additional 20 feet behind me. They were shocked because they didn't expect the little helicopter to be able to go as fast as it can.
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Old Sep 08, 2013, 11:53 AM
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Bloomington, IL
Joined Apr 2004
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Thanks for a nice review.
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Old Sep 09, 2013, 11:19 PM
I hate waiting for parts
Mike_Then's Avatar
United States, NC, Garner
Joined Apr 2001
7,038 Posts
Thanks very much for posting the review. I was thinking about getting this but the video seems to reveal that it's too twitchy for relaxed flying - much like all micro collective pitch helis out there.
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Old Sep 10, 2013, 09:13 PM
Safety : practice & promote!
RoboHeli's Avatar
Joined Dec 2011
4,897 Posts
Thanks for the review! I saw this at my LHS and am seriously considering getting one. I like the Blackhawk as well, but it's awfully expensive. This one is about half the price!
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Old Sep 16, 2013, 10:06 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,602 Posts
I flew my Eurocopter in a friend's backyard yesterday. In part of the yard he has a lovely pond and stream area with Koi fish. As I hovered above the pond a couple of the Koi had visions of a super meal as they jumped to try and get the helicopter. Fortunately, these Koi at least were not very good jumpers. The pond and stream area has a shade cover over it to keep out the birds that find Koi to be very tasty. When the first fish jumped I almost over reacted in climbing away from it and got close to the shade shelter. Fortunately it was only close and not a contact. Sorry no video or pictures but maybe at another time. Very pretty yard. He is thinking of putting in a garden railroad with a trestle going over a corner of the pond in a sweeping curve. It would be a great setting with his grove of miniature bonsai trees. I may help him design his layout as I also do Garden Railroads. Mike H
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Old Sep 19, 2013, 02:54 PM
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Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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I gave an aviation presentation today on how planes and helicopters fly and as part of the demonstration I flew the Eurocopter in a very controlled fashion and the kids really enjoyed seeing it fly. About half of the students said they have or had a coaxial helicopter when I showed them one of mine. Nice group of kids. Mike H
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Old Oct 03, 2013, 12:33 PM
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Joined Apr 2001
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Did another presentation on how things fly at a grade school yesterday. I added some air rockets to my presentation as the last item and they were a huge hit as the students jump on a pump that pushes air through a tube and launches the rocket. However, the helicopter was very much enjoyed as I was able to fly it outside from California to New York as they have a map of the country painted on the ground. Glad the event was yesterday morning as the wind is so strong today I couldn't fly anything but the jump rockets. With practice I am getting even better with my flying but still not ready to take her inverted. Mike H
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Old Oct 08, 2013, 08:14 PM
STOP DUMBING DOWN MY SKY
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Joined Dec 2010
391 Posts
Thanks for the review, but it's not for me. Little chops are good for messing around and 3D, but scale is wasted by the time you're 5 meters up, so I don't see the point of it at that size.
Now a .90 scale 4 stroker. That feels a LOT closer to a real heli.
If I want a Eurocopter desk ornament I'll get one from Intermarche for €11.99 (Gendarm, Military or Rescue)

Plus whats with the specs in inches, ounces and furlongs? It's a EURO copter after all?
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 06:38 PM
[]-[] E [] i []P [] []v[] []P
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Joined Mar 2013
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I'm haveing some trouble trying to replace the pitch lever grip on the head. How do I remove the feathering shaft
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Old Nov 22, 2014, 02:12 PM
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kansas city
Joined Feb 2007
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Mine had developed a bad head bobble. It will only stop if I come down fast, but then starts up again after a few seconds.
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Old Nov 22, 2014, 02:24 PM
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kansas city
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Just replaced the main control board and guess what it says under the tape? Nine Eagles lol!
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Old Nov 23, 2014, 09:50 AM
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Tucson, Az
Joined Feb 2007
8,511 Posts
Tower has add on this bird. $30.00 off. To bad its nine eagles. I had my fun with them and cheap breaking plastic parts.
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