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Thunder Tiger Raptor E700

The new Thunder Tiger Raptor E700 takes all the best features of the E720, and wraps them up in a lighter, inexpensive machine that was developed in conjunction with the world famous pilot Nick Maxwell.

Splash

Introduction


Length:50.3" (1277mm)
Width:7.5" (191mm)
Height:15.2" (385mm)
Main Rotor Diameter:60.5-61.3" (1538-1558mm)
Tail Rotor Diameter:11.02" (280mm)
Main Rotor Length:27.17" (690mm)
Tail Rotor Length:4.13" (105mm)
Gear Ratio (E:M:T:):9.85:1:4.27
Price:$699
Manufactured By:Thunder Tiger
Available From:Hobby Retailers
Review Heli Specs
Motor:Scorpion HKII-4235-520KV
ESC:Castle Creations Phoenix ICE 2 HV120
Gyro:Futaba CGY750
Cyclic Servos:Futaba BLS255HV
Tail Servo:Futaba BLS256HV
Main Blades:Rail Blades R-696
Tail Blades:Rail Blades R-116
Receiver:Futaba R6202SBW
Transmitter:Futaba 14SG
Receiver Battery:FlightPower 2100mAh 2S LiPo
Flight Batteries:FlightPower 5000mAh 6S LiPo (x2)

The new Raptor E700 takes all of the best features of the G4, and combines them into a high quality, yet inexpensive, 700 sized model. Thunder Tiger developed the E700 in conjunction with Nick Maxwell, who used his knowledge and expertise to help create an agile 700 sized 3D model at a great price point.

This new Raptor features a herringbone cut main gear and pinion for a super smooth and quiet drive train. The head design is new, featuring optimized cyclic ratios suitable for most modern flybarless gyros. The E700 is a little bit smaller than the E720, and is designed to take up to 700mm main blades and 115mm tail blades.

Although there is a very small amount of parts compatibility between the E700 and it's larger E720 sibling, the E700 shouldn't be mistaken as a modified E720. It has been designed from the ground up as an all new 3D machine, that incorporates the best designs from the E720, such as the hassle free quick swash levelling, and pinion support that sets the pinion height.

In The Box

The box art for the E700 is nice and colorful, with plenty of photos of the model, suggestions of components to complete the model, as well as a photo of Nick Maxwell holding the heli. Inside are four smaller boxes (and a filler piece), that contain all of the components of the helicopter. Immediately noticeable is the foam tray that contains most of the metal parts of the main rotor head. It is wrapped in clear film, so that it is visible as soon as you open the box. The kit comes with 105mm carbon fiber tail rotor blades, but no mains, and of course you need to provide all the rest of the equipment to complete it.

The kit includes an array of allen wrenches, including a nice aluminum handled torx driver, which is used primarily on the screws for the side frames.

Assembly

All of the small parts bags are labelled with a letter that corresponds to a page in the instruction manual. It's in this way that the manual lets you know exactly which parts bag you should be working with in any given step of the assembly process.

The first step was to assemble the head. Each blade grip is made up of two radial bearings and a thrust bearing, plus a series of washers. It's at this early stage that you can apply your own favorite grease to the thrust bearings, I used a liberal amount of Botolube and then assembled the grips. I then assembled the swash, making sure to apply a little blue thread lock to the swash linkage balls. The swash is 135/140 degree setup, which means you will benefit from less interaction from the servos that drive the swash when giving elevator inputs. With the completed blade grips and swash, I then assembled the head on the main shaft. The head spindle/feathering shaft rides on two piece dampers, an inner and outer. I used a little more Botolube on the head spindle, and thread locked the blade grips in place. The head block is attached to the main shaft via four cap head screws, one on top of another and then mirrored on the opposite side. The plastic swash follower links ride on bearings, and everything had a smooth feeling when assembly was complete. The head is topped off with a plastic head button, that has the Thunder Tiger logo molded into it. I thought it was a curious thing that Thunder Tiger would opt to make the head button out of plastic on an otherwise all metal rotor head.

A number of spacers are included to let you take any slop out of the main blade grips. It took a number of assembly attempts to get the right combination of spacers, which ended up being a small, medium, and thick washer on each side of the head block. This gave me a smooth feeling on the bearings when pulling on the grips and twisting, but also took out any side to side movement off the head spindle.

One of the neat things I like about the blade grips, is the fact that it is made up of three separate pieces; the grip, grip lever, and grip post. This means that in the event of a crash, and one of those parts is damaged, I can replace just that part instead of the whole blade grip.

The next step was to assemble the tail boom bracket/gear box. The tail is driven by a torque tube via a set of bevel gears at the front and back of the boom. This gears are interchangeable, making it easy to carry a spare set for both ends. The bevel gear rides on two radial bearings, and washers are provided to adjust the mesh of the bevel gear to the tail drive gear. I ended up using a single washer to get a silky smooth mesh. The rudder servo mount is made out of carbon fiber, and mounts directly to the tail boom bracket. The video below is from Nick Maxwell, and gives a great explanation on setting the bevel gear mesh on the E700.

There are four carbon fiber pieces that make up the side frames, two upper and two lower frames. Each side is a specific left or right side. The lower frames are visibly labelled "L" and "R", while the upper frames require you to check which side of the frame has the counter sunk holes on them (which point towards the center). Each side of the upper frames gets a control lever base and elevator pivot mount. At this stage the upper main bearing block and the previously assembled tail boom bracket are also installed. Nick Maxwell also made a quick instructional video on how to install the elevator pivot mount and nut without scratching the side frames or damaging the nut (below).

The frames are assemble one side at a time, so that the elevator control arm (which sits in the middle), and the motor can be installed easily. Before the two halves of the side frames are joined together, the motor is installed.

Scorpion teamed up with Nick Maxwell to develop a motor that is powerful enough for a 700 class heli, while taking advantage of every bit of space available between the side frames (which are fairly narrow). This Nick Maxwell Scorpion motor was designed specifically for the E700, so it is a natural choice. The motor shaft doesn't need to be trimmed, but a flat spot does need to be ground on it.

I wanted to make sure that the motor was protected while I ground the flat spot. I didn't want any debris to get into the motor can and fowl anything up. I taped up all of the openings in the motor can, and then placed the motor into a plastic big, allowing only the motor shaft to poke through. This protected the motor while I went to work on the motor shaft with a dremel cutting disc.

The pinion gear was very easy to install, being as that it is designed to sit flush up against the lower bearing block that support the motor shaft. Setting the height of the herringbone pinion is crucial for a good mesh with the main gear, and Thunder Tiger have made it easy to align it correctly. Once again, Mr. Maxwell explains this feature in a quick how-to video below:

Once the motor was installed, I was able to finish assembling the other side of the helicopter, making sure to insert the elevator control arm beforehand. There are a lot of screws to hold the side frames in place, but luckily they are all torx button heads, and the included torx driver makes quick work of the assembly process. It should go without saying that a little blue thread lock was used throughout the build.

The tail blade grips have a similar bearing setup to the main rotor blade grips. There are two radial bearings and a thrust bearing in each grip, so I made sure that the thrust bearings were greased. The single piece tail hub houses all of the bearings that the tail shaft rides on, as well as the helical gears that drive the tail. The torque tube rides on two bearings inside the aluminum boom, and as well as a clamp there is also a set screw to hold the boom in place on the heli. The tail pitch slider is an example of where Thunder Tiger shaved off a little cost by opting to use plastic instead of aluminum. This shouldn't be viewed as a negative thing, as aluminum does not necessarily improve a plastic part.

Another neat concept carried over from the E720 is the removable battery tray. This tray is a little different, in that it drops from the rear and then slides out backwards. This is why the landing gear struts have their unusual shape, so that there is clearance enough for the tray to drop out. Velcro straps are provided so that you can strap your batteries in place.

The E700 goes together very quickly, and I was able to get it this far in a single day. It is a very simple build, and all that was left was to install the electronics. The pushrods all come pre assembled, which saves a lot of time, as does the unique servo arms which we'll get to further on in the build.

Electronics

The electronics install was a little challenging, as there isn't a lot of real estate for attaching the components. However, although space is at a premium, there is still enough room to get everything on there. As mentioned earlier, all of the pushrods are pre made, and sized to the correct lengths, a feature that I really like as sizing pushrods is one of my least favorite parts of any build.

I mounted the gyro and sensor on the front plastic tray, with just enough room on the tray to fit the receiver. After a little head scratching, I decided to mount the Castle HV120 outside on the side frames. This meant that the ESC would have plenty of airflow over it during those hot summer days. I mounted a two cell lipo battery underneath the tray that held the gyro. This would be used for the receiver battery, plugged directly into the receiver for high voltage unregulated power to the servos.

The included servo horns and swash alignment system are by far one of my favorite features of this heli. All helis should use this system. Traditionally, we spend a good deal of time choosing a servo horn alignment that is as close to the required neutral position as possible. We then have to use a swash level tool so that we have a reference when we manually adjust pushrods and sub trims to get a level swash. It takes only a few minutes to level the swash on the E700, without the aid of a swash level tool.

The servo horns that come with the kit are made up of two pieces, a central hub, and the horn itself. The servos do not need to be centered in any way, the hub simply slots onto the splines. The horn then slides over the hub. When all the pushrods are installed and the receiver is ready to be powered on for the first time, the three bell cranks (ail, ele, pit) are secured with the torx driver (or any allen wrench that fits) that goes through the bell crank, then through a hole on the side frames. With the bellcranks locked in place the receiver is powered up. The loose servo horns allow the central hub to rotate freely when the servos initialize, and then the horns are locked in place with a set screw. With the pre made push rods, and this quick levelling procedure, the swash can be made perfectly level in record time.

After the electronics were installed, I spent some time wrapping the wires, and routing them safely so that they didn't rub against any moving parts. I used zip ties and heat shrink tubing to secure connections and wires to the side frames. I programmed my Futaba 14SG with a basic heli setup (most of the setup is completed on the gyro), and I set up my pitch curve for +/- 13 degrees of pitch. With the stock gearing, I was able to program the governor on my ESC to 1800, 1900, and 2000, as a starting point.

Flying

The Raptor lifted off the ground, and immediately apparent was just how quiet this heli is. The drivetrain is very smooth, and between the helical and herringbone cut gears, there is virtually no noise from the gears.

I started with a couple of basic laps just to confirm that my gyro was set up the way I like it, and started doing some flips and rolls. The heli was very responsive, and it tracked perfectly. This incarnation of the Raptor is very good at drawing big sky maneuvers, and with the head speed at 2000 rpm it scooted across the sky at an impressive speed. 3D maneuvers were as snappy or as smooth as I chose to fly them, and as expected the Raptor flew just as well inverted as it did upright. The tail was quick and held perfectly, and in no time I already had the E700 down on the deck.

I discovered that for my flying style (3D), I preferred longer tail blades, and I ended up going with Rail Blades 116mm tails. Those tail blades combined with the Rail Blades 696mm main blades made for a great combo on this heli. The Scorpion motor had plenty of power, and pulled the E700 around with plenty of authority. After each flight the motor was pretty hot to the touch, but nothing out of the ordinary. The removable battery tray was a joy to use, I would just slip the tray out, swap out the batteries, and slide the tray right back in. Easy.

One of the things I really like about Castle Creations speed controllers is their ability to log some useful data throughout each flight. You can see in the screen shot below, that a typical flight only pulled about 90 amps, and the most I've ever pulled was 110 amps. ESC temp ran around 120 degrees F, which was about normal for this size heli.

Photos/Video

Here I am having some fun with the E700.

Raptor E700 (5 min 22 sec)

Here's the master himself, Mr. Nick Maxwell, putting the E700 through its paces.

Nick Maxwell E700 flight (3 min 35 sec)

Conclusion

I'm really enjoying the Raptor, and I've dragged it around with me to every event I've been to over the last few months. This wasn't a kit that I put together, flew one weekend, and then wrote a review about. I've been really been putting it to the test, and handing it off to other people to try too. I flew it during IRCHA in Muncie, the Heli Extravaganza at Triple Tree, and every club event in between, and it hasn't let me down yet. It is a work horse that just keeps going, and it does it with style. What still amazes me, is how Thunder Tiger can put out a quality kit like this, at a price point that is just as low as the average 600 sized heli out there. Thunder Tiger have a real winner here, it looks good and it flies great.

Pros: Cons:
Herringbone and Helical Gears Narrow Frames Limit Motor Selection
Quick Release Battery Tray
Quick To Assemble
135/140 Degree Swash

Last edited by Angela H; Dec 03, 2013 at 04:03 PM..

Discussion

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Old Dec 04, 2013, 09:05 AM
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Nice work dude!
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Old Dec 04, 2013, 09:58 AM
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Great review Chris, lots of great details are included.
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Old Dec 04, 2013, 06:18 PM
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Thanks guys
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Old Dec 07, 2013, 05:34 PM
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mhills51's Avatar
kansas city
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That is a great review. Now if we can just get TowerHobbies to put it on the easy pay!
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Old Dec 09, 2013, 04:01 PM
Need More PURPLE !!
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............
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Old Dec 09, 2013, 05:53 PM
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kansas city
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From Tower, As you may already be aware, Tower Hobbies offers Easy Pay on trust alone, no credit checks. Because of these we are cautious about the items we make available on Easy Pay. Unfortunately the type of products you refer to are too high a risk for us. We are sorry for any inconvenience. You could always buy yourself some Tower Hobbies gift certificates over the course of a few months then apply them to an order. It’s not same as having he product in your hand while you are paying for it but at least spreads out the cost over months.

I did share your comments with our Marketing group that helps make these decisions. In the meantime, have a safe and happy holiday season.

I don't understand this answer when they have the nitro .50 torque tube for $699 easy payment and not the 700e for $699. Must be a hell of a mark up on the nitros.
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Old Dec 09, 2013, 06:38 PM
Need More PURPLE !!
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.........................
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Old Dec 09, 2013, 09:16 PM
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kansas city
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That is just it. Maybe they need to give credit points to people that have used the system before. I would be a AA++ having bought five +$300 all in good faith and on time. In fact I paid off the last payment on my 8FG 10 days early. That was also part of my email to them. To see if they would make exceptions.

I totally understand the view point, but like I listed these two idem are the same price.
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Old Dec 09, 2013, 09:21 PM
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Maybe it is meant to be! I need another heli like I need another hole in my head.

Sorry! CSpaced for going off topic!
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 03:11 PM
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Ontario, Canada
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Ready-to-fly weight

Nice review and nice heli, CSpaced. What's the ready-to-fly weight?
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 04:41 PM
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Only thing I don't like about this heli is the weird looking skids...but I've already thought up a custom solution for it.
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 08:08 PM
just gotta mess with it!
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Joined Nov 2009
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Carbon or carbon/glass?

Looks like carbon/glass composite for the frames - can anyone confirm that?
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Doggs View Post
Looks like carbon/glass composite for the frames - can anyone confirm that?
Carbon fiber side frames.
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 06:52 PM
Need More PURPLE !!
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....................
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