|Main Rotor Diameter:||20.75"(527mm)|
|Tail Rotor Diameter:||in.(149mm)|
|Gross RTF Wt. (NiMH):||11.4oz.(325 grams)|
|Motor size:||370 main motor, N30 tail motor, incl.|
|Servos:||Three E-flite Sub-Micro Servos, incl.|
|Transmitter:||Six channel digital proportional FM, with CCPM & idle-up switch, incl.|
|Electronics:||E-flite Receiver/Mixer/Speed controls 4 in 1 unit, incl.|
|Battery:||E-flite 9.6V 650mAh Ni-MH Battery, incl.|
The Horizon Hobby Blade CP -- a CCPM, Collective Pitch, electric, micro-sized RTF helicopter -- comes as a welcome addition to the multiple choices already available to today’s hobbyist.
It has three distinct advantages when compared to the competition:
The Blade CP will have a significant positive impact on the RC helicopter hobby if it continues to bring new helicopter pilots onboard as it has in the first few weeks post introduction. The Blade CP isn't radically different from the other CP micros available, but a real distinguishing factor about the Blade CP is the support offered to the US market by Horizon Hobby. Technical support and spares have always been a weak area for imports. Horizon changes that by being responsive to their customer base. There are still a few bumps in the road, but if Horizon continues in the right direction, they will likely garner a large percentage of the sales in this segment of the hobby business.
Let’s see what we get for our $220.00.
Quoting the copy from Horizon’s website:
“The Blade CP offers collective pitch and CCPM control that will let pilots fly in almost any direction. Transitioning from forward flight to hover with smooth, solid control is a cinch and negative pitch is a breeze for aerobatics like loops and rolls.
The Blade CP is versatile enough to fly anywhere, and almost everything needed to fly is included and installed such as a Ni-MH battery pack, 370 main motor, 4-in-1 receiver, mixer, ESCs, gyro and a 6-channel FM radio system with servo reversing and CCPM mixing. All that is needed are 8 "AA" batteries for the transmitter. Plus, each Blade CP is test-flown at the factory to ensure precise performance and control which makes it truly ready to fly right from the box.
For more elaborate aerobatics and inverted flight, Blade CP pilots can use a 3-cell 860-1320mAh Li-Po battery pack and E-flite's Aerobatic Enhancement Kit (EFLH1168), which includes wooden symmetrical main blades, main motor heat sink, tail motor heat sink and 370 main motor with 9-tooth pinion.”
The Blade CP is delivered in a sturdy box with molded Styrofoam inserts. Everything fits well and is nicely protected by a great packaging design. A bonus is that the shipping container doubles as a carrying case to get your helicopter and support gear to and from the flying field. Of course since this is a micro electric, the flying field may be your front or back yard. In that case the box serves as a great stowage container/hangar.
A well written, illustrated, instruction booklet comes with the Blade CP. I used it to set up the test helicopter provided for this review. I found the document to be clear and easy to follow. This model is about as close to ready-to-fly as you can get, so there is very little ‘setup’ to do.
I followed the instructions to load the NiMh flight battery into the helicopter and fly it until discharged. They are adamant that this is done as received before charging the pack for the first time. Then after a few minutes of cool down time, I hooked up the supplied wall charger and charged the pack until it’s warm to the touch. This normally took 1 ˝ to 2 hours with the packs that I received.
In box-stock form, using the supplied NiMh flight battery, I was able to get 7-8 minutes of spirited circuits and hovering. Motor temps were something to be mindful of as overheating these inexpensive brushed motors would seriously shorten their service life. While not required, I recommend installing the heat sinks that are available individually or as a part of the aerobatic enhancement kit as an extra 'safety' precaution at the outset. This, combined with a little discipline in using the heli, may help to lengthen the motor life. The discipline I recommend is that the pilot not exceed 5 minutes of continuous flying time and lands to let things cool down for at least 2 to 3 minutes. Again this is not required, but may help extend the life of your heli, especially if you are pushing it hard during your flights.
The Blade CP is a gentle, but responsive flyer as delivered. Leaving the wheel collar fly bar weights in their delivered position moderates the response to cyclic control inputs and is a good way to start until you get accustomed to this heli. After you have a few flights under your belt, move the weights inboard or remove them altogether and enjoy a noticeable improvement in responsiveness. A set of training gear is also a good idea and will save you the cost of replacement main rotor blades as these are most often the items damaged in a crash. The training gear is available from Horizon as part number EFLH1128 and it sells for under $10.00 USD.
I also found the Blade CP remarkably tolerant to windy conditions and since I live in a coastal community next to the Gulf of Mexico this was a big plus. Now understand we're not talking about 30 knot wind, but 5-10 knot breezes gave my test bird no big problems. Although the Blade CP is not recommended as a first helicopter, a number of new heli drivers have received their wings with this bird. It is very robust and affordable and the spares support seems better than most of the competition.
Something to consider when buying your Blade CP is the crash kit. It comes with some essentials that should help minimize your down time (what we called during my days in the USAF –AOCP or Aircraft Out of Commission for Parts).
Horizon offers extensive flight videos also on their Blade CP webpage, if you'd like to see more video of the Blade CP flown stock.
The NiMH flight battery mounting system as supplied is adequate. The kit also included "hook n loop" material which I chose to use to secure my battery. This mounting scheme secures the battery nicely, and has the advantage of releasing the battery in a crash or hard landing thereby minimizing damage to the helicopter. It’s sort of a frangible system designed to let go at sudden high “G” levels.
I also opened the back of the transmitter case and slipped a short length of silicone glow fuel tubing over the ratchet on the throttle control so that it operates and feels all the other helicopter transmitters in my experience. The ratchet prevents a very precise setting of the throttle and pitch, which is critical in helicopter control. Please remember doing so may void the warranty on your new radio. It’s a simple fix that I recommend until Horizon Hobby get this changed.
The aerobatic enhancement upgrade kit is a great bargain. You get a set of nicely crafted, fully symmetrical, blades along with a new main motor with a 9t pinion as well as a pair of heat sinks for the main and tail motors. With a 3s 1320mah Lithium Polymer flight pack attached flight times climb to 20 minutes. While not required, I do recommend giving the brushed motors a periodic rest stop. For accomplished pilots, the enhancement kit is the ticket to mild aerobatics (loops, rolls and inverted flight) and even some toned down 3D. The Blade CP makes an excellent trainer for these maneuvers due to its crashworthiness and low repair costs.
Horizon even offers an article on the Blade CP's webpage on setting up the aerobatic package and going inverted!
Flying with the aerobatic enhancement upgrades installed and the Idle Up switch in the active position makes the Blade CP a totally different and even more enjoyable helicopter. The combination of the symmetrical main rotor blades and the preprogrammed throttle and pitch curves available in this mode kick the head speed up and really bring the Blade CP closer to its full potential. The key thing to remember is to only activate the Idle Up switch when you are in a hover or mid stick condition and be prepared to throw the switch to off before chopping the throttle. When the throttle is closed in the Idle Up mode, the main blade pitch goes full negative and the throttle curve in the transmitter goes to max. Adding three cell Lithium Polymer (LiPo) flight packs with capacities somewhere in the range of 700 to 1320mah really up the level of fun with the Blade CP. Longer flights and more nimble flight characteristic with the lighter of the LiPo pack choices adds another new dimension to this helicopter. Again remember, cooling the motors may extend their life, so take a few breaks during the extended flight times allowed by the better battery chemistries.
I received two sets of the Horizon Hobby carbon fiber main rotor blades for the Blade CP just as this report goes to press. With only a few flights on them, I can say the ones I flew are nicely finished and track much better than the woodies. If you are using the aerobatic enhancement kit with the differently geared main motor, you will find these symmetrical CF blades to be just the ticket for moving up the scale of improved flight performance.
There are numerous interchangeable parts available from other manufacturers that adapt easily to the Blade CP. For example, there are carbon fiber and fiberglass main rotor blades intended for the ModelSport Hornet that work very well. Also symmetrical wooden blades for the HummingBird Elite CP are a good choice. With a little effort and handcrafting most of the Humming Bird CNC aluminum upgrades including the swash plate and blade grips can be adapted to the Blade CP. I have included some pictures that show some of these conversions. So for you experimenters and tinkers, there is a wide-open path to fun.
For those that would prefer to outfit with their own selection of electronics and move up to a brushless motored Blade CP, Horizon offers a replacement airframe complete with everything but the electronics for under $100.00. It does have the two brushed motors and I hope that down the road they will offer an even more affordable option that deletes the motors. I have also added a few pictures of my brushless Blade CP to give you an idea of what the possibilities are.
I prefer scale ships to 3D, so I set one of my Blades up with a Schweizer 300 canopy set from the Kyosho Caliber M24. A little crafting of a new larger OD tail boom canted upward, modified landing gear and struts to mimic the full scale helicopter, and mounting the canopy and fins left us with a Fun Scale “300” that flies well on the stock motors, 4 in 1 electronics and 3s LiPo batteries.
There were no problems encountered during the first 4 to 5 flights of the Blade CP, but then an issue surfaced that seems to have happened with a number of other Blades, according to posts in several of the popular helicopter online forums. It’s been dubbed the “sticky collective” phenom and the symptoms are easy to detect. On throttle up the helicopter refuses to lift off. The normal response from the pilot is to add more throttle. So the head speed increases and still no lift off. Suddenly and without warning the heli rockets off into the wild blue. This is very exciting, but not real cool, especially if you are flying inside. A number of pilots were certain that the problem was in the sliding parts of the head. Sanding and various types of lubricants were tried with varying amounts of failure to clear the problem.
Horizon, in their usual style, has stepped up, admitted the problem, and actively worked to fix it. Recently Horizon Hobby has added a section to their website dealing with this and other issues related to the Blade CP titled: E-flite Blade CP Bulletins and Performance Enhancement Tips. As Horizon notes on their site, not all Blades have this problem, and they do provide details in what to look for and how to resolve it.
For those who are interested, here's my take on the issue, and my approach to repairing it.
It turns out that the outer main grip ball bearing is bound/locked by the flat aluminum spacer normally found tight against the outer bearings inner and outer races. On the four Blades that I have I found that swapping the order of assembly for the M2 washer and the aluminum spacer solved the problem and I have not a single recurrence or other issue with this fix.
< Editor's Note: Horizon indicates this repair may not be ideal in all cases. The webpage referenced above contains their recommendations for servicing your Blade CP. "Your mileage may vary." >
The Blade CP helicopter is a great little flier that performs well out of the box indoors or outdoors in light winds. Although it is not the best beginner’s helicopter, I am certain that with some time on a good simulator, it could prove to be a rewarding first helicopter experience. Horizon Hobby continues to provide great support, and is continuing to research the “sticky collective" phenom.
It should be interesting to see what Horizon does for an encore. I believe they will have a group of devoted customers, wanting the next step up the ladder for a follow-on, intermediate electric helicopter.
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